Re-Visited

From the Story Arc: Re-Bound

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

(posted Sunday, August 27, 2006)

It was raining on the day of the Soviet Bear's funeral. A handful or mourners, mainly members of the CCCP and Alliance of Champions, stood around the hole in the ground where the casket was being lowered. Because of his anti-religious views, there was no priest performing a ceremony, though Manticore's press secretary read a prepared statement about the Soviet Bear's heroic deeds. Outside of the throng of heroes and a small handful of paparazzi, stood a blue-skinned lady and a handsome young man with a familiar mustache.

"Press secretary? Bah. You would think that Manticore would be out here at least. What is Synapse up to? Being thrown around most likely! Bah!"

"Calm down, Bear," Bella said calmly. "At least your death is being recognized. And your reception went very well last night; the city representative was there."

The Bear rolled his eyes, "Great, so every low level bureaucrat in Atlas Park attended my reception."

The Bear did not attend the reception, primarily because his existence was not properly revealed to the Congress yet; very few members of the CCCP knew of his condition, and outside of Comrade Djinni, no one outside the base could conceive of his status. Secondly, the Bear could not stand to look into his dead, waxy face. He was not the Bear he once was, he could not look into that mirror and walk away unshaken.

Shutters clicked and flash bulbs popped. "You'd think they'd switch to digital cameras by now," Bella muttered.

"Bah, they are probably getting pictures of Comrade Shyft for tabloids."

"Commissar Saviour sends her regards. Since you are still living, she is going to wait for your next funeral before coming back from Moscow."

Bear nodded. "That makes sense.”

The casket was lowered into the hole and dirt was beginning to pile up, the gravediggers strained and groaned to lift their shovels of mud.

“You would think they would buy a machine for that,” the Bear noted.

“They tried,” Bella said, “But the Banished Pantheon kept possessing it to dig up bodies faster. It was sort of Dawn of the Dead meets Transformers.”

Bella and Bear went back to the limousine that brought them. They wanted to avoid the crowd until Bear was comfortable with his new situation.

“How are you feeling, Bear?”

Bear sighed. “I am tired, Commissar. I have not been sleeping well.”

Bella laughed, “After so many decades of not sleeping, I guess you’re finding it to be a hard adjustment.”

Bear shook his head slightly, “Nyet, Commissar, it is deeper than that. I have been having problems with my memories.”

Bella grew slightly concerned. The Crey technology that downloaded his memories and emotions might have been damaged in the installation. She grew slightly panicked. What if he would begin regressing, his memories and emotions degrading as his new body aged.

“Bear,” she asked, masking her concern,” what do you mean.”

“Well,” Bear began,” I cannot seem to remember what Ilyana looked like. For years, it stuck in my brain. Every time a Stunner Freak would shock me or a Sapper would hold me in a stupor, I could always see Ilyana’s face. I could almost reach out and touch her. Now.... now she is like a watercolor.”

Bear’s eyes began to get wet. “Everything is faded. I remember events of my life, vaguely remember experiences. But the details, the things that made them real have blurred around the edges. If I had not encountered Sveta at the base, I would have forgotten what she had looked like too. I have been very concerned, Commissar.”

Bella put her hand on his arm. “Well, it makes sense in a way, Vladimir,” Bella said reassuringly, “Your memories are copies of your memories. It’s like when you tried to counterfeit your Social Security checks last year. By the forth copy, the words became faded and illegible and I had to talk to Federal agents about your activities.”

“I somewhat remember that,” the Bear replied.

“See, it seems vague because it is a copy. It didn’t really happen to you. You are a new person, Bear: a man with no history, no past, and a century’s worth of collected wisdom.”

“So I a like a second Bear, not a continuation of the first.”

“Right.”

“So I am Re-Bear. I kind of like the sound of that.”

“That’s not all that’s troubling you, is it?” Bella said, sensing something else was on the Bear’s mind.

“Nyet,” Bear said, “There is something else. I forgive Sveta. She was just doing her job.”

Bella’s eyes grew slightly dark.

“When I was a young man, I did many atrocious things. I killed innocent people, both before and after the revolution. I cannot hold this against her. I would like you to write a letter to the Paragon court to ask for leniency in her sentencing. Since I am still a non-person in the eyes of the law, it would carry the most weight coming from you, Commissar.”

Bella gritted her teeth. “Is this really what you want, Bear?” she asked.

“Da, Commissar. I do not want to see Sveta killed for my death. I would rather she at least have the chance to rehabilitate.”

“OK,” Bellla said, crestfallen. Her shoulders slumped slightly. “I will request that the death penalty be withdrawn from the table.

They sat in silence for a while. The skyline of Paragon City was just a few miles away. Bear cleared his throat. “Commissar?”

“Yes, Bear.”

“What do you think happens to people with no souls? People like old Bear when they die.”

Bella smiled slightly. “I think old Bear had a soul. I can’t say for sure. Maybe you should ask Vicky about this.”

Bear nodded solemnly, “Maybe I should. I hope that he is happy in his synaptic brain-death.”

“I am sure that he is somewhere right now, smiling.”

Bear smiled for the first time on the trip. “Commissar?”

“Yes, Bear.”

“Please call me Pavel.”

“Whatever you wish, Pavel.”

***

Ilyana leaned over the Bear and slowly put grapes into his mouth. A light breeze blew through the Worker’s Paradise, rustling the flowers. She ran her hands through his hair and made a slightly shocking discovery. “Pavel! Your hair has gone grey around your temples.”

Bear laughed. “Bah. It makes me look more mature. Besides, I still feel young, just a bit wiser.”

“What do you think this means?”

“Can souls grow old, Ilyana?”

“I do not know.”

Bear sat up and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “Then do not worry about it.”

He furrowed his brow and began thinking. “Ilyana, the name Pavel just doesn’t ring true anymore.”

“It doesn’t? I think it is a perfectly fine name,” she pouted.

“It is, but it was a young man’s name, when I was filled with angry passion. Now I am older. I am gentle Vladimir. Please refer to me as such.” He smiled and kissed her fingers. She giggled slightly.

“Whatever you wish, Vladimir.”

She leaned her head into his chest, and they both watched the sun set behind the factory.