From the Story Arc: Where Eagles Dare

Next Story in the Arc: New Requisition: Official Hazzard Suit by Petrograd (Saturday, June 24, 2006)

(posted Saturday, June 24, 2006)

Waitron9000 kicked in the chest of the last Tsoo sorcerer in the building and answered the comm call from John Murdock. "Sorry comrade. How may I assist you?"

A peal of static burst over the comm, followed by the sounds of labored breathing. "Waitron...I really...need...your help....with something. Heavy."

"Sir!" New programming or no, John was an officer and Waitron's responses were almost hard-coded by now. "Coordinates, sir!"

John keyed the comm again. "First---" There was the sudden sound of metal crashing against metal, with John gasping for breath in the background. "Can...the sir stuff...tin can. Second...I'm Baumtown." He paused to gulp air. "I'll relay the coordinates to your PDA. Not a critical need, so just get here soon as y'can. Murdock out."

Not a critical need, indeed. Seraphic Flame will scorch my paint if... she didn't finish the thought. To blazes with the door. She scanned the area, found the outside wall, leapt on top of a stack of cargo containers and kicked a hole in the wall to the roof and the alley below.

As fast as her jump servos could get her there, she was outside the derelict warehouse in Baumton, kicking the door down. It fell with a hollow boom and she followed John's blip to where he was--

She stopped. Stared.

"Sir. Are you...all right?" John was red in the face, and hunched over with his hands on his knees. Scattered around him were the dematerializing and unconscious bodies of what she recognized as Malta operatives. A sizzling and crushed Malta Titan was slumped against a shipping container, several plasma scorches marred the ground near its foot-pads; no doubt the work of one of its cannons discharging.

"Oh, dandy. Haven't had this good of a workout in years."

Wordlessly she passed him one of her spare stim packs. Then just for good measure, one of her ampoules of vitamin-charged vodka.

"Ahm, sir? What exactly is that, and why are you trying to haul it out?"

John used the stim pack and downed the vodka ampoules in a few deft motions, standing up to his full height and looking much more collected. "Quite frankly, Waitron, I'm just as mystified as you. Come gimme a hand with it anyways."

"It's...Russian sir. What's it doing in a warehouse in Baumton?" And what was it doing in the hands of Malta?"

"Don't really matter. They supposedly stole all sorts of tech from any country that didn't further US interests. Ran outta work when the Cold War ended, and thus came to be in their current incarnation. Makes sense that they'd hold onto all the shite they'd have stolen over the years."

She eyed the crate with its Cyrillic lettering, and Soviet emblems. "It's ours sir. You're right. We should have it back. No point in letting Hero Corps or Freedom Corps get their hands on it. Or any other scavenger that gets in here before they do."

Whatever "it" is. "Berkut"--that means "Golden Eagle"--could be almost anything.

Bella paused in mid-bite of her Gammabar, remembered to chew and swallow, then stared, open-mouthed at what looked like...uh...Iron Soviet? Except it was standing on the worktable in Petro's shop. And JM was looking at it like it was his new kid. As for the way Petro was looking at it...well, inside that hard shell she couldn't tell. But the emotions that were coming from him...da. Like his new kid too.

"What the hell is that?" she managed.

"That, comrade commissar," offered Petro, " is 'she.' Finest Soviet engineering!"

John sauntered up to Bella, a self-satisfied grin on his face. "Found the damned thing stashed in a pile of Soviet tech. Got it in a Malta warehouse I was investigatin' out in Baumtown, believe it or not. There've always been rumors that those slick bastards nicked the designs for the Titans, usin' all their spook resources."

With a flourish on a heavily-wired wrist pad, Petro brought the suit to life. "Pryviet tovarisch! I am Sovietski Berkut 185."

"She sounds...chirpy." Bella blinked. "Does she need a hero license? Or is she more like your average AI and not like Waitron?"

"Bah, paperwork. Is fine on own, superior Russian AI, with over 15 voice commands.!"

Another flourish, and the suit chirped in {Pressure layer is holed, 15 seconds to suffocation.}

Bella looked down at her PDA, which had translated. "Riiiiight. I'm thinking this thing needs a pilot. Assuming you intend to put it in the field. Uh, no chance of it hurting whoever's inside, is there?" She sensed Petro's hurt and indignant feelings. Oops. Just insulted the "new baby."

"Well," John piped in, "I guess I'll find out soon enough, won't I? Ol' man Ivan 'volunteered' me to test out whatever he has in store for his new gizmo." He shrugged, looking wistfully at the red suit.

"Good thing you've already bred then," she muttered. "Lemme see if your hero hospitalization plan covers 'experiment failure.'"

"Bah, you are nyet wanting to run it, you should nyet have dragged it into shop..." Petro said, Bella's humor apparently passing smoothly over his chromed helmet. Pausing a second to pull out a worn plastic card, he quipped, "Da, third line on back, 'dismemberment due to experimental equipment.'"

"The burden of 'finders keepers', huh? I figured you'd chop it up for parts." He eyed the suit, taking several paces towards the worktable. "I'll give it one thing, though. It looks mean."

Bella rolled her eyes. "Like Maseratti mean? Sports car is nyet correct thinking, so you dragged this home instead?"

"What can I say," John replied. "A Titan wouldn't fit up on the mantle. So, Ivan---what's it do, anyways?"

"Is bolshoi Soviet space suit!"

Bella's interest suddenly sharpened. "To hell with the AI part, you mean this is a vacuum-hardened hazmat outfit! Hard Nova..." This was better than her old containment suit, which hadn't been rated for hazmat operation. "...Shadow Shard...Portal missions..."

Petrograd shrugged. "Da, am supposing you could use it for these, is chemical and corrosion resistant..." he mumbled, kicking a thick book labeled 'Abandoned Soviet Space Projects' under his desk. Quickly grabbing the line, he continued, "Was designed for use with Buran shuttle (snort), so is hardened against radiation, heat and flare reducing, and has fully independent air supply."

Bella walked around the table. "Huh." Full helmet though, that wouldn't work for medics. If all else failed, if all the CCCP Medics had were their two hands, their talents and powers, and their brains, they still had to be able to pull off things like rescue breathing. Air supply would have to come via a respirator or something. Boy, it would be nice to face off Carnies and Space Nazis and not end up on fire. For a change. God help her, she even had a badge for the amount of time she'd spent on fire....

John cocked his head, watching Bella. "I can see you plottin' there, Blue. I'll leave you an' Petro to iron out the details. Meanwhile, I'm gettin' a drink. Even with Waitron helpin' me carry it, that damned thing was heavy." John grunted once. "Shoulda seen the looks we got ridin' the trams with it." He nodded to them both before turning and walking out of the machine shop.

Bella turned to her resident mechanical and engineering genius. "Right. You got it. Can you duplicate it?"

"Unfortunately, nyet," Petrograd sighed. "Suit uses fine Soviet steel plating, is no way to replicate such craftsmanship. Will have to make do with nekulturny Crey ultra steel composites. And industrial strength equipment is too serious for this shop, will have to use Llewellco components... do nyet worry though, will to work something out."

"I want a medical version. Nobody respects the freaking red cross anymore. They shoot at us too. Not a full head helmet though, I need at least half the face out."

"Are sure? Negates vacuum seal..."

"Rescue breathing. Assume I'm with a team and we've lost all my medic gear, it's just me, powers, and two hands."

"Bah, suit yourself, but am leaving you soft-cover if is needed. But what am saying, will need to do some shopping first. Am thinking Brickstown, have heard Crey blue is 'in' this season. Shall we?"

Bella chuckled. "Good place to start. From there, an excursion into the Folly? And maybe recruit Sera for a scenic visit to the Crash Site?" She gestured at the teleporters. "Or shall we just go directly to the Folly, do not pass go, do not collect 200 rubles?"

"Bolshoi!" Petro said, warming up the teleporter. This was warming up to be an interesting night.