Part Five: In Your Name

From the Story Arc: The Body Electric

Previous Story in the Arc: Part Four: You Always Hurt the One You Love by Krasniy Oktyabr (Monday, August 07, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Part Six: A Shining Joule by Krasniy Oktyabr (Friday, August 11, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, August 09, 2006)

The sun was setting, casting long shadows in the empty streets of the warehouse district. The only movement came from the wind fitfully blowing around loose trash. Those with more of an artistic flair might have called the scene starkly peaceful.

The tranquility was broken by a sudden displacement of air and the appearance of a lone man a few inches above the street. His feet hit the ground and he shook his head to clear it. No matter how often he had transported himself in this fashion since discovering he could do it, it was always a little disorienting.

Aleksandr looked up and down the street, listening and watching for any sign of movement. This was the spot where he had been jumped, and he reasoned that he had been held nearby. No sense in dragging an unconscious body further than was necessary.

He clenched his fists and called out at the top of his lungs, "I have returned! Face me, Electric Knight, as you faced my grandfather!"

For a long moment silence was his only answer. Then a faint but distinct sound of metal on stone was heard, rhythmic and drawing nearer.

"Finally figured it out, did you?" came a familiar voice, reflected and amplified off of the metal and concrete walls. Slowly, methodically, the armored man appeared from around the corner and turned to walk toward Aleksandr. "It was only a matter of time, Stanislav. A little spark has a funny way of igniting the memory."

Aleksandr smirked. "Please to be forgivink me," he called back in an exaggerated accent, "Was little slow on uptake. Am just dumb Russian, after all."

Kurt stopped and stared. "You still mock me."

"Perhaps is because I do not see you as threat."

The armored man let out a hollow laugh. "You know, I've followed your career as closely as one can, Krasniy Oktyabr. I must admit, your resilience is impressive." Kurt pointed at Aleksandr. "And believe me, you're going to use every ounce of it before I crush you and take back that which was stolen from my grandfather."

Well, that makes muchmore sense, thought Aleksandr. As absurd as it seemed that a man could keep his youth for eighty years, it never crossed his mind that a legacy was running concurrent with his. Aleksandr answered with a laugh of his own. "You are wanting them so badly?"

His arms shot up, pointing his fists at his adversary. Twin arcs of lightning leapt the distance between them, enveloping Kurt in a writhing sphere of electricity. Aleksandr grinned and prepared the gauntlets to let loose with an overcharged bolt.

The Russian's joviality faded as quickly as the electrical cage. Kurt's hollow laugh filled the empty streets again. He threw his fist into the air and a loud crack sounded from the sky. A massive bolt of lightning slammed into the armored fist and enveloped the Electric Knight. And then he was gone.

Aleksandr had only a moment to gape. A second bolt hit the street behind him. He jerked and spun around, only to catch a backhand fist full on the chest. The force behind the blow sent Aleksandr flying backwards, sprawled on the ground and dazed.

"Your first mistake, Stanislav!" shouted the Electric Knight, charging after Aleksandr.

Recovering his senses, Aleksandr rolled to his feet and dodged the incoming blow, throwing more electric bolts the man's way. Like the first, the armor seemed to absorb most of the energy and harmlessly dissipating the rest. It looked to be futile, but he had no other course of action. Every suit of armor had a weak spot. If he could just find it...

The Electric Knight wasn't about to give him that chance. Kurt recovered just as quickly, spinning around and throwing punch after punch Aleksandr's way. But the Knight's technique was a matter of brawn over finesse. Every last bit of pugilistic Aleksandr had received from Leroy came into play now. Ducking and dodging when he could, blocking and staggering back from the sheer force when a fist couldn't be avoided. But Aleksandr was on the defensive, looking for his opening, the chink in the armor that would help take this brute down.

A wild haymaker gave him the opening he was waiting for. Aleksandr easily dodged the clumsy punch and launched into a quick succession of one-two punches. Each punch brought with it a jolt of electricity. He knew by this point that the lightning itself would be little more than an irritant, but the added energy to each punch would take its toll.

The effort paid off. A solid fist to the helmet made a sizable dent and sent sparks flying that weren't by design. The Electric Knight tore off the damaged helmet and threw it aside. He snarled and turned back towards Aleksandr, only to get a ball of lightning full in the face.

Kurt howled as the electricity danced around his head, blinding pain sending his staggering backwards. The suit absorbed the electricity, but not quickly enough. Aleksandr took advantage of the opportune lull to gather his wits and the gloves' energy. When the charge had built to a significant level, Aleksandr threw out his hands and enveloped them both in a static field.

The Electric Knight fell to his knees, panting heavily. Aleksandr grinned and examined his foe. Even less threatening than before, he could easily see how his grandfather had bested the original. Aleksandr stepped forward, ready to let loose with another electrical barrage.

"Is over, Jacobson," he said, keeping his voice even lest pride sneak in, "Your father's father could not best mine, and even with advantage, you could not best me."

Kurt looked up, his face a mask of rage, panting heavily. "Your..."

Aleksandr tilted his head, giving his fallen foe time to collect himself, to concede defeat. And in that moment, the feral grin that Aleksandr had witnessed earlier that day returned.

"Your second mistake!"

The Electric Knight lashed out and grabbed Aleksandr's metal arm. He pulled back, pivoting on the foot of the leg resting on the ground. Kurt roared and spun Aleksandr around. A plated fist slammed into the Russian's chest with a sharp crackle of electricity and Aleksandr was sent flying backwards again. Aleksandr hit the ground and slid a ways, chest aching and laboring to breathe. He struggled to his feet but his adversary was already on him. Kurt grabbed Aleksandr by the collar and hauled him to his feet. The armored man sneered and planted a fist into Aleksandr's abdomen. Aleksandr groaned and bent over double. Rearing back, the Electric Knight swung another fist in an underhand arc, pounding Aleksandr's chest again and sending him flying once more. A warehouse wall halted his trajectory, and it took all of the Russian's strength to remain upright.

Kurt let out a laugh and slowly walked towards Aleksandr. "Did you honestly think that those gloves would help you? They were made for this suit! They are part of it!" As he walked forward, the electricity flared up around the armor greater than before. "But I grow bored of this, Stanislav. Give up the gauntlets now, and you will keep your life."

This man is weak, decried a voice of white hot rage, I'm going to crack that sell and scatter his carcass to the carrion birds. Aleksandr's eye glinted with barely-restrained anger. The fire in his mind blazed as bright as it had while the Excelsior drug still flowed in his veins. Aleksandr clenched his fists and shook violently as the man approached him, only dimly aware of the energy building in the gloves. I'm going to crush you, insect, the voice continued, Grind you underneath my heel.

The Electric Knight was a few feet away, lightning coruscating around the armor. Baring his teeth, Aleksandr snarled. The snarl turned to a growl, and to a shout at the top of his lungs. Thrusting both fists forward, Aleksandr released all of the pent-up energy in the gloves and the world around the two men exploded with electricity.

When the air cleared, Aleksandr shook his head quickly and pulled himself away from the wall, taking a few halting steps forward. His right shoulder felt like it contained the fire that had been burning in his mind. Aleksandr clutched and gritted his teeth. The pain was mounting, through it realizing that the huge burst had knocked out the electrostimulus mechanism that freed him from pain. And on top of that, the cybernetic limb hung limply at his side.

Cursing strongly, he looked up and saw Kurt rolling onto his stomach and pushing himself to his feet. But there was something between them that make Aleksandr stop and stare.

The Electric Knight stumbled a few steps and yelled, "NOW YOU'VE--" The accusation died on his lips as he saw the same thing. Although the explosion had long since dispersed, a ball of crackling static still hung in the air. It bobbed there in an almost serene manner until Kurt took a few more tentative steps forward. The electrical nimbus lashed out with a bolt of lightning that skittered harmlessly off of the suit.

With an irritated snarl, Kurt backhanded the floating nuisance. The ball broke apart instantly, what wasn't absorbed by the armor dispersing into countless runners of electricity. Aleksandr shot his fist up in a futile attempt to continue what he had begun, but nothing happened. He stared at the gauntlet, dumbfounded. Not so much as a whine of building power. The massive discharge seemed to have drained the gloves of even a base residual charge. He cursed even louder and drew back his working arm but the electric Knight was already there. Kurt grabbed Aleksandr by the throat and squeezed, dragging him in close.

"Now you've really pissed me off, Stanislav," he growled, finishing the statement begun a moment before. "You damned Russians just don't know when to give up. But it really is over now. You've made your last mistake."

The Electric Knight grabbed Aleksandr by his real arm. Electricity flowed again, coursing through the Russian's body and making him scream. The Knight spun around and hurled Aleksandr across the street. Aleksandr crashed through a window and momentum carried him through ancient drywall and timbers, tumbling to a stop on his stomach amongst the debris. He let out a groan and tried to get up, but only got to his hand and knees before collapsing to the floor again.

Seconds or hours later--his weakened state couldn't differentiate--Aleksandr felt a pair of hands slip under his arms and start to pull him up. They weren't the cold metal gauntlets of the man bent on killing him. Even in his delirious state, Aleksandr could feel the soft touch that he had held onto in his memory. Helped to his knees, Aleksandr unsteadily craned his neck and gazed in wonder at Sarah.

"< There's not much time, Sasha, >" she said in Russian, pointing across the warehouse, "< There's a back entrance that way. Hurry. He'll be here any minute. I... never saw you. >"

Aleksandr blinked in shock. The words registered, but he never expected to hear anything like them from her. He nodded once, and then acted on pure impulse, kissing her firmly. Sarah let out a squeak of surprise, but didn't pull away. Despite all that had happened, she found that she could look past the battered, disfigured body and see the man whom she had loved. Sarah gave in to the moment and indulged in the kiss, just for a moment.

She broke off and looked Aleksandr in the eye. "< Go, love. Run as fast as you can. >"

Aleksandr nodded once more and got to his feet with renewed strength. As he ran towards the exit, Sarah got to her feet and nervously glanced back through the hole in the wall before running back to where she had been hiding.