Greek Tragedy V

From the Story Arc: Pictures at an Exhibition

Previous Story in the Arc: Greek Tragedy IV by Strela (Monday, July 17, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: The Mind's Eye by Strela (Monday, July 17, 2006)

(posted Monday, July 17, 2006)

Some things were eternal in every Paragon City that would ever exist. Nemesis would always have a master plan, Barney's popularity would always baffle parents, and PBS would always have June as a fundraising month. The theme for PBS this year was "A Summer of Shakespeare" and tonight's featured play was Macbeth.

The hospital room where Strela lay encased in bandages was silent save for the soft beeping of the life support machinery. Swaddled in gauze, the only color on her form was the red stained bandages covering her eyes. A gold light shone on her still figure as yet another indicator light went from green to amber, showing the steady decline of her vital signs. Faintly from the nurse’s station, the Three Witches opened Macbeth as they began to intone:

"When Shall we Three meet again?"

The alley was mostly clear. Only a few scraps of police tape marked the scene of a brutal crime. Siberius stood stone faced as he looked at the concrete walls and floor. As the rain fell, his fists clenched as his mind replaced the pools of water with pools of blood...HER blood.

In Thunder, Lightning, or in Rain?"

Clytemnestra woke from an uneasy sleep. The plan was proceeding, her target had been maneuvered into position. So why did she feel so out of sorts. Why did she feel as if something was so very wrong with the world? After all, it was time to get her revenge on Siberius. As she dressed in her Warriors jacket, a smile curled her lips that would not have looked out of place on a striking cobra, if cobras had bloodshot green eyes.

"When the battle's lost and won, when the hurlyburly's done"

A Greek Tragedy Act V: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

Clytemnestra stared at the helicopter pilot in amazement. "You're tellin' me that ya can't fly to Bloody Bay?"

"Yes, there's a tropical storm warning for the island. Hurricane Anna will be making landfall in the next few hours and it's suicide to fly in those conditions...errrk"

Clytemnestra clenched her fist around the pilot's throat. He stared into her blazing green eyes in terror as she hissed, "It's suicide to cross me, flyboi. Whatever ya do, yer gonna die, but ya ain't dyin' easy if ya cross me."

The pilot nervously nodded his helmet and whispered, "Where do you want to be dropped off?" As the two entered the Arachnos flier, a piece of the hangar shadow disengaged itself, forming into the figure of a dhampyr. Althea Upyr's bone white face stared impassively as the flier took off, and she raised a communicator to her blood red lips. "She iss going." Althea spoke, then thumbed off the switch.

< Mussorgsky “Catacomb” Pictures from an Exhibition >

Once the factory district in Oceanview was bustling with life and energy. It was the 1950s, and ships carried the plastics created there all over the world. Then the Shiva meteorite came, killing thousands and plunging Bloody Bay into a depression as the dead began to walk again, killing the living wherever they could find them. Now the once bustling factories were dead and lifeless, home to the desperate seeking shelter and the strange creatures called 'Shivans' that hunted them.

Now the factory was home to a new threat. A young girl in Warrior colors leaned against a rusted storage tank, her green eyes narrowed as she swept the scene. Time to have some fun, she thought as she flipped on a communicator. Pressing the key for private mode, she punched in Siberius' code and waited for a response. The embossed 'Strela' glinted in the eerie green light from the meteor nearby. Her other hand held a small recorder.

Inside the St. Eligius ICU, it was a scene of controlled chaos. Belladonna Aura was the conductor of a symphony of power and skill as the staff fought to save Strela's life. The crimson lights from the vitals display shone on the weary faces of Thanh Hua, Vickie, Kyria, Seraphic Flame, Bee and Led as they frantically fought for now mere minutes more of life for their comrade. Divinitie slumped exhausted in a corner, her chest heaving as the angel dredged the last of her strength to send to her friend. Sister Joanna supported the angel as she murmured prayers, her other hand linked with Alexi's as they prayed silently for their comrade. Anna was fighting like a tiger and the CCCP medical staff was giving their all to aid her, and it didn't look like it would be enough. As the defibrillator restarted Anna's heart yet again, Bella's tears soaked her mask. She would bar the door from the Grim Reaper for as long as she could, and he would come for Anna over her dead body!

< Rammstein “Du Hast” Matrix OST >

Siberius frowned as the communicator beeped again. Who was calling him now on the secure line? He'd been ignoring the thing all day, and had successfully managed to avoid anymore condolence messages from other's in the Congress and the CCCP as a result. Today, it was him and the heavy bag...alone. No words of advice or encouragement or apologies. Nodding once, resolutely, Siberius turned his attention back to the heavy bag.

"You don't find it a little rude to not answer your calls?" rang out a voice from behind him. Sighing, Siberius shook his head.

"Nyet. I do nyet want to talk to you now, Binrui. And I do nyet wish to be speaking with anyone else right now. Is probably just someone else who is hearing the news about Anna and is wanting to tell me how they are so sorry it is happening, and that if there is being anything I am needing...bah. Am busy. Go away." Siberius growled, and turned his attention back to the heavy bag.

"It could be important. You're sure that you don't want to answer it?" Binrui asked quizzically, hobbling over to where the communicator sat.

"Da! Am one hundred and ninety-nine percent sure." Siberius muttered. Shrugging, Binrui reached for the communicator and picked it up.

"Then, here, let me answer it for you. It could be an update on Anna's condition..." the old Chinese man said, and began to press the switch. In a flash, Siberius appeared next to Binrui and snatched the communicator from his hand, scowling darkly at Binrui. Over the noise of the aerobics class in 2-D and some TV down the hall, he thumbed the activate button, sighing in defeat.

"Here, fine, it is making you happy..." Siberius said harshly.

"Here's something to cheer you up, then." The voice on the other end oozed false sympathy. The next sound from the communicator was the screams of a woman in terrible pain. Siberius froze as he instantly recognized the voice was that of Clytemnestra.

"I thought you would wanna hear your little Ah-na's voice one last time, Mikhail, before I kill her."

For several moments, the only sound was that of the television."Is this a Dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?"

"...if you kill her...I will hunt you to the ends of the earth, until the stars burn cold in the sky. And when I am finding you...CCCP dictate or will beg me for mercy. And instead...I will give you the Devil himself." Siberius said coldly, evenly.

"She's already dead, you just don't know it. I'm tellin' ya, I can reach out and snuff her anytime I want now, and ya can't do nothin' to stop me."

"Then she is already dead...and so are you. Stop hiding like coward." Siberius snarled, his eyes on Binrui.

"Oh, I just wanted to tell ya that this is only the beginnin' Micky. I'm gonna go after everyone ya hold dear, one at a time. Wanna guess who's next?"

"This is nyet the beginning." Siberius cut in sharply, coldly.

"See ya round. Here's a little somethin' to remember Ah-na by." The voice cut off, to be replaced by the sounds of Anna screaming in agony. Binrui thumbed off the communicator, a sad look on his face. "So alike, and yet so different."

A throat cleared in the doorway to the room that Siberius stood in. A woman stood there, dressed in full service dress. As she stepped into the light, the symbol of the Commissariat of State Security, the dreaded KGB, shone from her peaked cap. "Mikhail Romanenko? I am Captain Tasha Volkhov, Directorate Nine, Section Three, KGB. I have some information about that scum that has assaulted Strela for you." She held up a small passport with the arms of the USSR embossed on the cover.

"As you may know, Strela was beloved by many as a symbol of the Rodina. The scum that attacked her, attacked all of us, and Moscow sent me here to ensure that she gets her reward. This device will allow you to track Strela's communicator, and Moscow Central has locked down location of signal to Bloody Bay. The rest is up to you. Do nyet disappoint the Party and the People of the USSR, Comrade!" With that the woman handed Siberius a small device with a radar screen on the top.

As Siberius reached out and took it, a small almost invisible smile creased Tasha's lips. After all, everyone has a price

Siberius ran for the door. As he brushed past Tasha, Binrui spoke, his eyes locked on Tasha's. "Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't"

Stopping, Siberius looked back, scowling questioningly at Binrui.

"You are not from this world." Binrui said simply, and nodded once, "The fire is in your soul. It is the physical manifestation of the strength of your inner chi. Use it."

< Carl Orff “O Fortuna (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi)” Carmina Burana >

Clytemnestra leaned against a rusted girder as she watched the storm clouds gather. One foot tapped silently in time with the sound of Strela's screams in her ears as she watched the booming waves crash against the polluted beach below her. She tapped her lips with one finger as she contemplated her next step in revenge. Hmm what to do with this 'Alexi', maybe videotaping him as he begged for mercy...or perhaps just sending a few body parts one at a time to Mikhail's house...which would hurt Mikhail more? Thinking about her hate was easy, it was the only way to drown out her own memories of blood on her hands, of her screams for mercy, of her own pain....

Lowering the binoculars slowly, Siberius tightened the black fingerless on his fleshy hand. He wasn't in his CCCP This was personal. This was between Clytemnestra and and Mikhail. Straightening the baklava over his face, he nodded. His target was sighted...she wasn't moving. Careful to keep the metal from jingling together, Mikhail fastened a harness around his pelvis, and slipped the rope around the metal rings. He made sure the piton holding the rope fast was secure, and watched Cly silently. He would wait until the right time.

Clytemnestra finally stood and began to walk toward him, her leather jacket flapping as the breeze picked up. Rain began to fall and the sullen roar of thunder became more and more frequent. The waves were no longer booming gently, but lashing the beach with a savage ferocity that mirrored the souls of the two humans that were the only living souls in the factory. Cly seemed unaware of the storm, so wrapped up was she in her thoughts. Faintly in the distance, a snatch of voice was heard "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Nodding once to himself, Mikhail muttered softly. "Assault it is..." Pulling the single smoke grenade he'd managed to pilfer out of Petrograd's stash, he wrapped his finger through the ring and pulled it out, dropping it over the edge. It hit the pavement with a high pitched hollow "poom!" later, white, billious smoke began to fill the area. Stepping off of the edge, Mikhail rappelled down the side of the oil tank at amazing speed.

As the grenade hit, Cly dove forward and to her right, rolling and twisting in an amazing display of agility. She flipped to her feet, fists clenched and eyes narrowed. Her slender frame trembled as her rage began to build. She scanned the smoke filled courtyard, now lit with an unearthly green glow as the meteor's radiance shone through the smoke, revealing faces, images from her past as the smoke moved like a living carpet around her form. She tensed, knowing in her heart that the time had arrived.

Slowly, Cly watched as part of the shadows seemed to coalesce, to come together in silhouetted form of a man, in full spetsnaz soldier garb, watching her from the hole in the baklava.

"Remember when you are being told that this is the end? As are you seeing...there are no capes...." reaching up, Mikhail pulled the baklava off of his face and dropped it at his feet, "There are nyet any masks. This is beyond hero...and beyond villain. I have come for you."

Cly smiled widely. Her green eyes lit with an eager hunger as she scanned Mikhail's form. She reached within herself and began to draw more deeply upon the link with Strela. Feeling the fear and desperation flow from Anna to her, Cly began to laugh a rich full laugh full of amusement. "So ya came. I told ya, ya can't save her, she's all mine now. After all, she still lives,...for now. But not for long. I will beat ya down like the worm you are then take Anna's life before your fitting. Thunder crashed in the background and a gust of rain swept between the combatants.

"Nyet. You are wrong." Mikhail said quietly, dangerously, "I am nyet here to be saving Anna. If it is possible for her to be saved...then she is to be saved. Nyet, Clytemnestra, I am being here for one purpose alone. I am being here to end your madness, and to be making sure that you will nyet be harming anyone else as you have harmed Anna. And I am intending to do it by any...means...necessary."

The lightning flashed above, sending a white flash through the smoke cloud, followed by the loud crash of thunder overhead. As Mikhail stared at Cly, the smoke began to swirl around him, as if in the grip of an unseen force. A second crash echoed between the two, but this one was one that only Mikhail and Clytemnestra could hear, like a cannon shot echoing on a psychic level. Mikhail's body ignited in golden flames, the flickering golden light battling for dominance against the sickly radioactive green glow diffused throughout the smoke, giving him the appearance, for all of the world, of some sort of avenging angel.

"Neat trick, Micky." Cly's fists clenched hard enough to make her bones creak as her anger built to a climax. Here in front of her was the source of all her pain and all her hatred. The smoke around her flowed away like water, as if it wanted to escape from what she was channeling. Darkness swirled around her and her eyes began to emit an evil green glow similar to that of the meteorite. ""Now see mine!" With that, Cly's eyes slitted as she stared into Mikhail's, into his soul, searching for the fears she knew he kept there, searching for a handle for her to exploit.

"We are stalling. If we are going to fight...then we must fight." Mikhail said, and a smile crossed his face, "I have read the prison's medical files from when you were arrested. You were to be a mother, nyet? I shudder to think of the shame your child would have to see his mother in this way."

Cly's face contorted in fury and for a brief, almost fleeting moment the green of her eyes turned an azure blue. A single tear fell from them as she felt the return of the all too familiar pain of loss and grief. As the tear fell slowly toward the sterile earth below, Cly walled off her weakness once more behind the familiar litany of hatred.

"Given the chance...I would do it all exactly the same. Your man was a menace. As are you." Mikhail said icily.

"A Menace, A MENACE? YOU call ME a menace. You who killed my family, who destroyed my life, who crippled my love, who caused me to be persecuted, you who KILLED MY BABY!" Cly screamed, foam flying from her lips as the green glow in her eyes redoubled. "YOU WILL PAY FOR WHAT YOU DID TO ME, YOUR CRIMES WILL BE AVENGED!!!" She screamed to the storm above as she moved into a modified horse stance and began to advance.

"Ah, bolshoi. Let it all out, girl." Mikhail nodded once. He was in...inside her head, exactly where he wanted to be. Rules of engagement had been dictated. "I have come to terms with the sins of my past. Can you?" Mikhail asked calmly, dropping into a fighting stance.

"I will wash them clean with your blood, MICKY!"Cly screamed as the heavens above split in jagged forks of lightning. Rain began to fall in blinding sheets, washing the last of the smoke away from the pair as they began to close with each other.

"Then if I am to be your Messiah, then come crucify me!" Mikhail challenged, "If my blood will be healing your wounds, then come take it."

Cly screamed at the top of her lungs. As the agony, rage and grief bust from her lips for a brief second all was still as the combatants took a deep breath before the plunge. From the top of the oil tank overlooking the scene, Binrui whispered: "Yet I will try the last: before my body I throw my war-like shield. Lay on, Macduff, And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'" The ground shuddered as lightning blasted into the factory, throwing the scene below into darkness, lit only by the hellish light of the meteor and the flashes of the lightning striking the island like the hammer of an angry god.

Mikhail ducked away from a vicious kick. Cly's foot sailed by his face and dented the girder he was standing beside as he dove out of her reach for the moment. She was good, damn good and her strength was evident. The few hits he had managed to get past her defenses in the opening exchange had no more effect than the raindrops that were falling on them both. Clearly he had made the right decision in trying to wear her down, since he wasn't sure he could win in a contest of strength.

He parried another thrust kick with his steel forearm, feeling the shock of impact travel up to his shoulder. An opening! he thought as she moved into a Crane stance and he struck for the hole in her defenses. He felt his lead weighted glove connect with her jaw, sending a spray of blood into the air as his punch found it's mark. The elation he felt was short lived as an elbow strike came out of nowhere to smash into his ribs. He staggered backward and took a gasping breath as she in turn wiped the trickle of blood from her pouting lips. Her emerald eyes narrowed and began to pulse oddly in time with the meteor to their side. Unnoticed by both, the shadows surrounding them began to coalesce. The forms of Shivans emerged surrounding the pair in a perfect circle. As the rain fell in horizontal sheets and loose pieces of the factory were tossed in the howling gale, the pair ignored their audience as they concentrated on each other.

Dropping back into tiger form stance, Mikhail watched Cly for a moment, studying her, his face impassive. Turning his hand, he motioned Cly to him, a sly smile crossing his face.

"Unless you are having enough taste of vengeance for what you are saying I am responsible for." Mikhail said lowly, "I am still standing."

Bellowing an enraged warcry, Cly came in fast with a haymaker, much faster than Mikhail expected. Mikhail had a split moment to realize that he was about to catch the brunt of a very heavy hit, only to barely spin past Cly, rolling his body around the outside of her, and tapped Cly on the back of the head with a very quick, very light back hand, an attempt to make her believe that she hadn't caught him off balance at all, that it had been a ruse. Cly bought it, responding with another of those bursts of insane strength that barely missed him. Her form was deteriorating under the stress, and he was able to tag her knee with a kick that barely got through. Even though she was still moving on it, he knew he had felt bone shift as his boot had connected.

Shaking his head sadly, Mikhail watched as Cly set up in her fighting form again.

"You can nyet win. Give it up, Clytemnestra." Mikhail's words rang out clear, and bold, "You will destroy yourself." Seeing his words have no effect, Mikhail reluctantly dropped back into a different stance this time, the form of commando hand to hand combat. Moving in close, Mikhail played cat and mouse with Cly for a moment until she threw a punch finally. Catching her arm in a joint lock, the two stared at each other for a moment. Using her incredible strength, however, she managed to lift Mikhail off of his feet, and like a battering ram, slammed him backward into the steel girders, shaking rusted bolts loose to rain down around them. Following it up with an elbow across Mikhail's jaw, the Russian fighter dropped to his hands and knees. Cly stepped over Mikhail, and stood there for a moment before driving down a brutal blow right between his shoulder blades. She could feel ribs splinter and bones shift as Mikhail went down to the cement hard.

Stepping back from the motionless CCCP member, a sneer plastered across her face, a wicked smile began to creep across her lips...a smile which faded as, shakily, Mikhail pushed himself up off of the ground and got to his feet, his face twisted in agony.

"Bolshoi...good girl...I felt that." he said as he turned to face her again, licking his lips, he pulled his bluff card again, "But I am hoping it is nyet all that you are having left. Surrender...Clytemnestra. Come with me quietly...end this insanity."

Cly screamed in rage and frustration. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO KILL HIM? Enraged beyond the last shreds of reason, she reached inside her jacket and pulled out the Needle of Jocasta. Its blood red runes shone with an eager radiance that seemed to mirror that of the Meteor. She charged him, Needle held high overhead to plunge it through the smirk on his face.

At the last second, Siberius dove to the side, his abused body screaming in protest as she drove the Needle through where he was...and into the heart of the meteor. Emerald fire lashed Cly as the concussion blew Siberius clear across the courtyard and halfway up the stairs of a catwalk. Through the roar of the flames, the howling of the wind, and the crash of the thunder, Siberius heard a soft sweet voice in his ear.

Dimly outlined in the rain stood Strela-no Anna-in her dress uniform. She gave him a soft shy smile and whispered gently, "My love, you have saved me. Now save yourself for me." She kissed him on the lips, her touch featherlight and as she did so, he felt a certain rightness with the world once again. Somehow, the pain of his body seemed lessened as he heard Cly's scream of frustration and loss. He levered himself to his feet as the flames died down. The watching ring of Shivans began to close on Clytemnestra who was bent over the meteorite screaming in pain.

Watching Clytmnestra for a moment as the Shivans closed in menacingly, a million emotions shot through Mikhail's mind. Anna was saved...he was finished here. Clytemnestra could die here...and it would all be finished. His goal would be achieved...she'd never be able to hurt anyone again. Closing his eyes, it only took a split second for Mikhail to make the decision.

"Nyet like this." he said softly, to himself, and looked around quickly, his eyes settling on the rope he'd used to rappel down the oil tank. Moving as quickly as he could, he stepped over, pulling the spetsnaz survival knife from its hidden sheath, and cutting the rope. Moving back up the catwalk quickly to a place over Clytemnestra, Mikhail threw the rope over the railing, and braced his boots feet against the support bar. "Please to be grabbing the rope, girl!" Mikhail called out loudly, gritting his teeth to pull her up.

Clytemnestra was jolted from her reverie as a Shivan talon slashed through her thigh. She reached for the rope slowly, as a little girl will reach for her mother’s hand. Baby blue eyes met Mikhails own ice blue eyes as for a moment nothing else mattered in the world but those two. He could see her thoughts mirrored in them. She knew that if she took his offer that he would have won, and she would have to admit it. He saw deep within them a spirit that refused even now, even at the last, to give in to defeat as she gently released the rope. Mikhail's expression softened as he watched Cly's decision process, and nodded once in pitied understanding. Binrui was right. He and Clytemnestra were truly more alike than they knew.

"Then, do svedanya, they are saying...go with God." Mikhail whispered softly and closed his eyes.

For a moment all was still...

With a roar like an angry god the storm surge of Hurricane Anna smashed into the scene. The eight foot wall of water hit the area with an unstoppable force , uprooting trees, bending steel I-beams into pretzels and sweeping all before it. MIkhail could only hold on for dear life as the swirling black waters swept the Shivans...and Clytemnestra...from his sight as a child might throw his toy soldiers across the room. He felt the catwalk he clung to shudder as debris battered its' supports. Amazed, he watched an 18 wheel tractor trailer flung into the oil tank nearby like he might flick an ant out of his way. Truly, the scene humbled him as he realized the raw power of nature.

The sun shone through the clouds as the last remnants of the hurricane left the scene. Mikhail groaned as he untangled himself from the wreckage of the catwalk. The Meteor gleamed evilly below him, but nothing else was there. Clytemnestra was gone as if she had never existed. Mikhail shook his head as he looked over the scene.

Placing his hands on his hips, grimacing painfully, he sighed.

"No cryptic warnings? No...words of wisdom?" Mikhail asked suddenly. Turning back slowly, steadying himself against the catwalks support, he watched An Binrui approach...walking proudly, his cane behind his back.

"You passed your trial, I think." Binrui said simply, and looked to Mikhail seriously for a moment, "It won't be the last. But you've chosen your path wisely. Congratulations." Binrui said, a smile crossing his face. Turning, Binrui walked away.

"Where? Where am I to go from here, old man?" Mikhail called out, swallowing hard. Binrui turned back and winked.

"Home, boy. Home. Leave this awful fight behind you and go home." Binrui said simply, with a shrug, "You'll miss the Yankees game if you don't hurry."

Shaking his head in confusion, Mikhail looked away for only a brief moment...but when he looked back, Binrui was gone. Mikhail's comm unit beeped. He looked at it for a moment as it if were an alien creature, a harbinger of doom. He was amazed it had even survived, to be honest. Reaching down, his flipped the switch.

"I am here..." Mikhail said softly, expecting a swift reprimand from the Commissars.

" Alexi! Strela is turnink the corner! They are thinkink she is goink to be alright!" Alexi's voice exclaimed over the comm. Mikhail simply nodded slowly.

"I know." Mikhail said simply, and turned off the comm.

< Rage Against the Machine “Wake Up” Matrix OST >

"From Hell's heart I stab at thee, for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."-Moby Dick

His steps were heavy as he entered the CCCP Headquarters.

The storm surge had piled debris across the island. Tangled masses of wood, metal and other less identifiable substances were scattered against buildings, the few trees that had not been uprooted, and whatever else had stood against the storm.

Pushing his blonde hair out of his eyes, he stopped as the eyes of those gathered inside met him. Among them was Alexi, Divinitie...the Commissars...Seraphic Flame. Mikhail looked over them all and nodded once, his eyes betraying the inner turmoil. His eyes lingered on Sera for a few moments, and she knew he was thinking about their talk they had only a few nights prior.

A mile inland, one pile rested against a stone crypt in the cemetery.

"I could nyet save her as well. She chose death by her own hands..." Mikhail said softly. Noting the confused look on Alexi face, Mikhail patted his young friend on the chest and staggered for the barracks to be alone.

Suddenly, the rubble began to shift as a bloodstained female arm thrust the remains of a toppled oak off her. Gold and jet winked from the forearm as the pile beneath it shifted again as the buried figure began to dig her way out to the surface....