Bullet for the Bear

From the Story Arc: Bear It Alone

Previous Story in the Arc: Devouring Audit by Soviet Bear (Wednesday, March 22, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Bargain of Sorts by Soviet Bear (Saturday, July 22, 2006)

(posted Sunday, April 30, 2006)

Pocket D was literally hopping, with throngs of heroes and villains gathered together hoping for a glimpse of Statesman, Positron, or Ghost Widow. There was celebration in the air, commemorating the second anniversary of the Rikti invasion, and even the villains would liked to have caught a glimpse of a Freedom Phalanx member. There were at least two people there, however, who did not have dancing in mind. Bejouled walked to a place under the stairs, away from the music and crowds, to meet up with Operative Vargas.

"Greetings Comrade Vargas," Bejouled leaned in and whispered sharply, "Is it safe to talk here?"

"Communications should be sufficient, Agent Bejouled. I have set up a voice scrambler," Vargas smiled as he talked, like an insurance salesman. "It changes everything we say into inane chatter to listeners more than two feet away. Right now you just asked me if I liked Punky Brewster, and everyone is hearing me say it was no Different Strokes. It's the latest out of the lab."

"Very well." Bejouled relaxed slightly. "You have a job for me?"

"Indeed," Vargas said smugly, "I think it may be right up your alley. You know of Heinrich Richter?"

"Da. He is a Council traitor. The CCCP has been granted custody of him until his appearance at PCPD headquarters. It was goodwill gesture from the city, given the devastation the Council did to King's Row and our headquarters."

"Well," said Vargas, still smiling, "Word on the street is that our former business associate, Archon Moreno, wants Richter dead so he cannot testify. This is not good for either of us. Put simply: Lord Recluse wants Richter alive. Richter's testimony is a key element in stopping smuggling in Sharkhead Isle. Yes, I know that the Family dabbles in smuggling there, but they pay a fair share to the local port authority in the form of bribes. Moreno wants to route the smuggling through the Council bases there, effectively denying Arachnos our share of the profits. Frankly, this cannot happen."

"Well," Bejouled said impatiently, "Where do I come in? Custody of the prisoner has already been charged to the Soviet Bear and John Murdock."

"Arachnos would like you to get involved. Richter must live, and I intend to deploy our best agent in Paragon City, you, to make sure that this happens."

"I will do my best."

"You must succeed." Vargas lost his smile.

"I shall, Comrade Vargas." And with that Bejouled hovered away, and a nearby Troll raver wondered what was so damn engrossing about 1980s television.

***
Odessa, 1943

"Pavel, do not be a fool. I must do this. The Germans are not knocking on the doors of Russia, they are breaking them down. We have the ability, and we must do our best to defend the people of Russia. This is our home."

Ilyana Petrovich would not take no for an answer. The Odessa Electress, the tall, fair-haired defender of the proletariat shot a penetrating glare at her companion. The sun was rising, giving her a golden hue, as if she were an incandescent icon in the room. Brief flickers of energy began pulsing over the surface of her skin.

Pavel Polokhov, recently christened the Soviet Bear, furrowed his brow and gave the woman a stern look. Ilyana was not going to back down from this fight. She tolerated his many faults, and his many gruesome duties over the last decade, and now he slowly realized he would have to indulge hers. "But what about the baby?" he asked.

Ilyana rubbed her swollen belly. "Bah, she is tough worker, she will survive. If she can survive my electrified womb, she can survive a skirmish. Besides, Lt. Tomifovich has given me detailed instructions. I am to fly down, destroy the petrol tanks, and fly off. The only casualties will be German soldiers and German tanks." She shot Bear a wink.

"Promise me I will see you again."

"You shall see me again." She leaned toward Pavel slowly, deliberately, and they kissed....


The impact from a Freak swiper's metal hand snapped the Soviet Bear back to his senses. The plasma conduits that kept him alive also prevented him from sleeping. He was only able to drift away when he was forcibly made to do so, such as the mental teasings of a Rikti mentalist or, in a more immediate case, a Stunner Freak. Bear opened up his conduits and blasted the Freak who had attacked him, filling the room with the acrid odor of making bacon in a toaster. He then trapped the Stunner with a web grenade and shot him with white-hot plasma until he was subdued.

"Thank you so much!" said a disheveled citizen, looking much worse for wear.

"It is not a problem, Comrade. I do suggest that you find a safer job, though." Bear said this automatically, as if reading from a script. He was distracted, focusing entirely too much about transporting Heinrich Richter across King's Row the next day.

***
"I'm home, Old Man." Bejouled said, closing the apartment door as quietly as possible.

"Greeting Comrade Bejouled," the Bear said from his recliner, "I was attacked by Freaks. How was your day?"

"Same old thing, Old Man. I was wondering.. would it be possible for me to assist with the transport of the prisoner tomorrow?"

Bear turned around and gave her a stern look, then softened. "To tell you the truth, Comrade, I have been concerned about our task tomorrow. You may come along; an extra set of eyes and ears may be just what this job requires."

"Excellent. Do you need anything while I am up?"

"Nyet, Comrade. I am doing fine."

"Did you take your vitamin drops?"

Bear smiled. "Everyday! I do not want to give evil an upper-hand, especially after what has happened here in the Row. I must remain in my best condition.

"In that case, Old Man, I am going to bed." Bejouled went into the bedroom and shut the door, drowning out the theme music from Perfect Strangers

***

The job was simple. To escort the Council prisoner seven city blocks, from CCCP headquarters to the Paragon City Police Department. The prisoner had been delivered to the CCCP base that morning, along with his bodyguards, since the base detention center was still being reconstructed. Silly, perhaps, but it was also a highly symbolic gift from the city administration. It was proof that Commissar Bestial Boy's efforts in Washington and Commissar Bella's community work were having ripples in Paragon City.

After making sure their uniforms were straight and their prisoner was properly restrained, they began the ceremonial procession. Bejouled remained highly alert, scanning buildings and alleyways for suspicious activity. Bear was chatting at Comrade Murdock, who was doing his best not to roll his eyes. Bejouled imagined that, under his scarf, John was baring his teeth, waiting for the old man to run out of steam. Everything went according to plan, all the way up to the PCPD steps. "Perhaps Arachnos had faulty intelligence," she wondered.

It was then that Bejouled detected a very slight flicker of a cloaking device, like a low-powered camera flash. It came from the west-side rooftop, on the opposite side of the Warburg chopper. Nobody ever used that side of the building. The prisoner was standing behind the Soviet Bear, but his skinny frame was not adequately obscuring the vitals of a former Cor Leonis soldier.

"Sniper!"

The words barely escaped her lips before she leaped to her left, pushing the Bear to the ground. The bullet ripped through the left side of her abdomen. The Council sniper, left completely exposed after his shot, began to run. The telltale explosion of a Kheldian going nova quickly followed. Bejouled wished she had her Arachnos uniform; the armored chestplate would have prevented this. Instead she began to grow cold on the PCPD plaza. Her eyes closed slowly as the base medical teleporter.

***

Bejouled awoke in a cold sweat at the Chiron Medical Center. Since the CCCP base was still under construction, all medical evacuations were forwarded to the community hospital. The Soviet Bear was by her bedside, holding his hat in his hands with worry. His bald spot shined under the fluorescent lights. Needless to say, he was quite a sad sight.

"Hey there, Old Man." Bejouled mumbled.

"My daughter! You have finally come around!" Bear almost exploded with delight. The audible whirring of his plasma generator caused a nurse to stick her head around the curtain to see what machine was malfunctioning.

"I'm a sturdy worker," she said, summoning a weak smile, "I get it from my parents."

"Comrade Than-ha and Comrade Bella both stopped by. I had them inspect the wound. They said the doctors did an excellent job. They also suggested that you speak to Comrade Victrix about scarring and not to listen to Communard. However, and do not tell the Commissars, but I did speak to Communard. He gave me these anti-worming pills. Says you should take two a day in a spoonful of peanut butter."

Bejouled winced. "I will respect the wishes of Comrade Than Ha, but I appreciate Communard's concern. Did the prisoner get delivered?"

Bear smiled. "Da, daughter. The police say that myself and the prisoner would have been killed if not for your intervention." A single tear welled up in his eye. "I am sorry if I have been hard on you. I am pleased to call you family. Oh, Sveytah, I am so proud."

Bejouled nodded weakly, her eyes growing heavy. The morphine was starting to dull her senses. She reached back and felt the exit wound, a fleshy crater the width of her hand. She would not contact Comrade Victrix after all. She would instead keep her wound as a memento. And she slowly drifted off to sleep, counting the money that was being forwarded to her offshore bank account in St. Martial.