Wot's... Uh, the Deal

From the Story Arc: Re-Bound

Next Story in the Arc: Re-Leased by Re-Bear (Monday, August 21, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006)

Heaven send the promised land, looks alright from where I stand

“More caviar, Pavel?” Ilyana spoke softly, leaning in to give the Bear a small kiss on the cheek. Although the Soviet Bear's official name was Vladimir, in his revolutionary days with the Bolsheviks he went by the name of Pavel, or Pasha, to avoid detection by the Tsarist police forces. Ilyana was far too young to remember this herself, instead relying on the tall-tales of Soviet officers in Odessa when she was growing up. They would tell her stories of brave Pasha, concocting bombs and poisons from his mobile lab in the Caucuses. Even now, her voice rang with girlish admiration when calling him that.

Bear looked into her eyes and smiled, “Indeed, Ilyana. I shall have some more.”

The sun was going down, low to the horizon like the distended belly of a bloated Buddha, set ablaze and streaming across the sky. In the distance, factories churned out nameless commodities, always meeting their five-year plans. Yet the air smelled sweet and crisp. Worker's Paradise was all the Bear could have hoped for and more, perfect in every way.

Bear leaned close near Ilyana's ear. “My love,” he whispered, “would you...”

He grew cold and a shiver crept down his spine. This was the first discomfort he had experienced in the Worker's Paradise, and it alarmed him terribly. He began perspiring and his pupils dilated.

“Vladimir?” Ilyana asked, panicked. “Vladimir, what is wrong?”

“I do not know... Things do not feel right.”

Then, as quickly as it came, the feeling vanished. Color returned to his cheeks and he could breathe normally once more. “I do not know what has transpired,” he said, exhausted, “But I must say that it cannot be good or natural.”

“Poor Pavel,” Ilyana cooed, “Why don't you lay your head down and rest a while.”

And the Bear laid his head on her lap, and slowly watched the sun dip beyond the horizon.

I'm the man on the inside looking out

The Soviet Bear opened one eye cautiously. Bejouled had said goodbye, and the next thing he remembered was closing his eyes to rest. The Bear, ever vigilant, never rested. The plasma valves and generator never allowed him to. He was in some sort of fluid, suspended and perfectly buoyant. “Commissar Bella must have been worried and checked me into a fancy spa,” he reassured himself.

He slowly opened his other eye, the eye he lost over Stalingrad. His vision strained and focused with precision. “Commissar Bella is quite the physician; she has given he a bionic eye to replace the one I have lost. Very thoughtful.”

But something did not seem right to the Soviet Bear. The chamber was much too quiet; his plasma generator should have been filling the fluid with a droning whine, but instead he was greeted with the eerie echo of his arms moving in the fluid. He felt for the access shunts on his arms, but instead found muscle. Pure, lean muscle. His heart began to race.

The Bear reached a finger up and pressed his new eye. It was organic. He was organic.

And once again, the Bear felt angry and alone.

Million miles from home, you're on your own

Bejouled sat in the Golden Giza, sipping a glass of water and browsing the newspaper for information about her next hit. She had tired of taking out a litany of Council stooges for Arachnos and wanted something more challenging.

Her comm rang. It was Operative Dover, a new Arachnos recruit who had been assigned to help her with her transition to the Isles. “Good evening, Boss,” he said quietly.

“Speak up, Dover,” Bejouled purred, “If you want a sexy woman to notice you, you must talk louder.”

“Something is going on that I don't quite understand. Do you remember how you wanted me to track various member of the Rebuild Paragon Congress with the genetic signatures you stole?”

“Da,” Bejouled hissed, “I gave you specific instructions to notify me if any disappeared. I do not want others to dispatch of them, I wish to do it myself!”

“Well, that's just it... We gained a blip.”

Bejouled twisted her mouth into a confused grimace. “What do you mean, 'gained a blip'?”

Operative Dover hesitated. “W... Well,” he stammered, “it would appear that the vital signs of a member of the Congress has reappeared.”

The air around Bejouled began crackling with excited energy. “Who?”

“It would appear that the Soviet Bear has come back online.”

Bejouled emitted a growl, savage and beastly. She reached out and grabbed a waiter by the throat. She stared into his pale blue eyes with a unconcealed fury. “Gah!” she yelled before tossing him into a wall. The tables and walls began shaking with current and an elderly man grabbed his chest and fell over. Bejouled brought both of her fists down on the table and smashed it into splinters.

Taking a deep breath, she straightened the collar of her uniform. “Thank you, Operative Dover. That was very informative,” she said coldly, turning and walking out of the ruined lounge.

And she didn't leave a tip.

There no wind left in my soul, and I've grown old

Still floating in the fluid, Bear thought of various ways to escape his newfound situation. “Apparently, Bejouled was overwhelmed by one of our enemies, either Rikti or Crey. After they knocked her unconscious, they drugged me, put me in a tank and performed hideous experiments to give me better eyesight and remove my super powers. They must have pumped me full of steroids, too, because I am now one handsome Bear. Perhaps they want to to race bicycles or play baseball. That would be rather nefarious.”

Bear tapped the glass in front of him. It was not terribly thick, probably tempered but not reinforced. He moved his arms back and forth, gaging the resistance the fluid gave him. It was slightly heavier than water, dragging his fists to a stop like syrup before he could hit the glass.

“My captors have evidently out-thought the old Bear, at least this time.” He reached his arm backwards and touched the opposite side of the tank. “Aha! If I brace my feet against the metal support and push forward, I can break through the glass. It may leave me bloodied, but they may be harming Sveta right now. I cannot allow that.”

Bear braced his feet and lowered himself into position against the glass. “But wait...” Bear thought, “what am I going to say when I get out to frighten and confuse my captors. Perhaps, 'It is me, it is me. Ernest T'? No, that will not do. Maybe I will be like the Axe Man from Shiny and say 'Johnny is heeeeeere'? Bah, that will not do either. They will probably think I said 'Djinni' and expect to see Comrade Red in here and hurt me severely.

It was then that an idea came to the Bear. A glorious and perfect idea, both culturally relevant and universally understood. He pressed his feet against the metal support and pressed against the glass with all of his new found strength.

The glass exploded outward into a cloud of shards, fluid, and blood. Bear landed on the ground hard, glass cutting into his entire body. The floor began to turn red outside of the chamber. The Bear stood up and punched himself in the chest for courage.

Elsewhere aboard the ship, Shuma was drawing pictures of flowers for John Murdock. Off into the distance, she heard a voice both terrible and familiar, yelling in pain and frustration. The distinct words began floating through the hallway. “I AM RICKY JAMES, BITCH!” She gently closed the door, slid the lock into place, and made a brief but frightened call to Commissar Bella.