The Load, The Shock, The Pressure

From the Story Arc: Hymn Of Breaking Strain

Previous Story in the Arc: Overthrow and Pain by Belladonna Aura (Sunday, August 13, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: In The Mid-Illusion by Belladonna Aura (Monday, August 14, 2006)

(posted Sunday, August 13, 2006)

Bella stared at the email, which had come through…hours, almost a day late. From Bejouled. Oh, carefully, carefully calculated to be too late of course. Bejouled hadn’t wanted any chance of her father’s body being found when there was even the slightest chance of his being revived….

Well, if there was any doubt…now I know where Bear got his doses of neurotoxin.

With a cold heart and a heavy hand, I must declare that I, Bejouled, am renouncing my affiliation with the CCCP. I have recently found a new employer with goals more similar to mine. I know this leaves the CCCP significantly worse-looking and less photogenic, but I feel that it is in both of our best interests that I leave.

Bella felt herself growing cold. And just which enemy of the CCCP had Bejouled “found employment” with. Malta? Crey? Arachnos?

Council?

How much on CCCP did she have? To whom would she be selling it?

Certain things about Bejouled began making a lot more sense now….

“Waitron, change all the encryption protocols again,” she commed. “And while you’re at it, let’s make all base access other than the Hazard Zone teleporters be limited by multiple ID checks. DNA, fingerprint, retinal scan and hospital chip. Put some tighter protocols on the computer information.”

“Bejouled is already locked out, Commissar.” Waitron had full Admin access and had already seen the email of course. “I took that precaution on a temporary basis when Comrade Bear—“

“Thanks Waitron.” A sick feeling rose in her, and she cut Waitron off.

The Soviet Bear also resigns his commission as an Officer of the CCCP on a technicality, primarily death. If you act quickly, you may be able to preserve his carcass for embalming. Since I was powering his air-conditioning ambiently, you can imagine how ripe he is going to be after a few days.

Rage filled her. The bitch. The stone cold bitch. She must have been planning this from the moment she set foot in Paragon City.

As you can imagine, I have decided to relocate closer to my work. I am boarding a plane to St. Martial in a few minutes and will be free from whatever petty retaliation you can concoct. I have downloaded the dossiers of all the members of the Rebuild Paragon Congress that the late Soviet Bear had access to (his password was 'ravioli'). I will not turn these over to my new employer, but will, if necessary, use them in any work-related function.
“Petty retaliation,” hmm?

“Waitron—“

“I have Bejouled’s secondary vital-signs monitor locked into the enemy-scan list, Commissar. The scan doesn’t reach to the Rogue Islands, but if she sets a toe into Paragon City, she’ll light up our boards and that of Longbow as an escaped criminal.” Waitron was sounding a little—smug? “I added her data to the Breakout files from the Zig.”

“Well done, Waitron, carry on.” There was something else that could be done too. Bejouled had gotten into her own records and deleted them…but Bella was an old-school programmer. You always made backups, you always had redundant hard-copy and you always kept them somewhere other than on-site. Like Bestial Boy’s apartment. And her own. And a backup server she rented from Captain Hackatron.

And she had pure DNA samples from Bejouled. And hair, and blood.

And there are so many things a magician can do with hair and blood. Vickie should have no ethical problems with that, at least.

If only…the Soul-Severing rite was….

“Waitron, send a warning to the Coalition—“

“Already done, Commissar. All RPC leaders, and as many Coalition members as have worked with Bejouled have been told what she has done and where she has fled.”

“Thanks.”

It is nothing personal; it was just a job.

If I see you in Pocket D, I will give you a kiss and buy you a drink on Arachnos.


If anything, that made it worse. The heat of anger, of revenge, Bella could understand. This….

There was another explosive snap and Bella looked down, unsurprised, to see that once again, the pen she had been holding had been broken in two.