Another Way to Cope

From the Story Arc: Cold Front

Previous Story in the Arc: Helpless Healer by The People's Elf (Thursday, December 14, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Food and the Art of Mourning by Krasnaya Zarya (Friday, December 15, 2006)

(posted Thursday, December 14, 2006)

“Paragon Fire Officials responded early this morning to a large fire in Founder’s Falls. Officials state the entire building is a loss. At this time officials are not commenting on what caused the blaze but we do know now that this building was apparently a front for the Council. Officials state that several Council operatives did not make it out of the building.”

Madame Molotov glanced up at the television screen. The newswoman was standing in the forefront. Behind her was the smoldering husk of the building, Paragon Fire and Police vehicles were everywhere and lights were rotating in the distance. Molotov was sitting on a barstool with a drink in front of her. Glancing away from the television, Molotov’s attention focused on the half empty bottle in front of her.

“Once again, to recap our top story this morning, Paragon Authorities state several unidentified Council members have died after a large fire occurred in Founder’s Falls earlier this morning. Jeanie Stanford reporting for Channel One News…”

Molotov glanced up again to see the old bartender back in view as he turned off the volume on the television.

“Hate the news,” he grumbled. “Rather listen to my hair falling out.”

Molotov ignored him. Just another old-timer in another dive bar in Independence Port. There sure were several of them to get lost in. Usually they were full of dock workers with stories of Lusca sightings and other strange sights. The occasional hero would bounce in and out. But today, Molotov only counted a handful of down on their luck citizens.

Then she realized it was just after 7 AM. Molotov had closed down a couple of other joints a few blocks away and ended up here. Apparently some places never close shop. Molotov could care less at the moment as she downed the rest of her beer. She motioned to the bartender. The act was useless since he was standing right in front of her, but Molotov wasn’t really seeing to clearly at this moment.

The bartender continued with his rant. “That news is all a joke anyway. Just one catastrophe after another. Captain Somebody saved the mayor. Yap, yap, yap. So and So broke out of the Zig. I tell you, it’s all a conspiracy I tell you. That Zig has to be the worst prison I ever heard of. Got villains seeping out of that place right and left. Send ‘em all to the moon I say. See ‘em get back here from there.”

“A bottle of your finest vodka, Comrade,” Molotov slurred. “Make sure it is Russian.” Molotov really hoped the bartender would just leave her alone. Maybe she could just drink some more and tune him out.

The bartender glanced at Molotov. He only had one kind of vodka in the place and it sure as hell wasn’t Russian. What the hell, he thought. She’s too drunk to notice anyway. He turned and placed the bottle in front of her just as the door to the bar opened.

In walked an older man, wearing green camouflage. An older man, with gray stringy hair and an eye patch strode into the bar. He turned and noticed Molotov and with a grim expression walked over to the bar and pushed the bottle of vodka out of her way.

El Nacional had been searching Paragon for hours for Molotov. Here she was, drunk as could be. This was not a pretty sight.

“Tanya! Time to go home,” he said.

Molotov glanced up and glared. “Leave me alone.”

El Nacional glanced up at the television. The same scene was still in place in Founder’s Falls. The news reporter appeared to be having an exclusive interview with a high ranking Fire Department official. El Nacional’s one eye narrowed as he looked back at Molotov.

“Tanya. I hope you have not done anything rash.”

Molotov glanced up at the TV. With a snarl she replied, “Looks like someone had a hot night.”

“Tanya! Did you kill those people? They did not deserve to die. Pull yourself together.”

Molotov was getting angry. What right did El Nacional have to say anything to her? He had been a friend of her father’s.

Molotov countered, “Shouldn’t you be back in Cuba, old man? Couldn’t you have run off with Commissar Untermensch on his mission?”

“Tanya, listen to me. I know you are upset over Marlowe’s death. But this is not the way. Those men were not responsible.”

“They were guilty of something.”

El Nacional’s patience was growing thin. Yes, he had promised Molotov’s father he would help take care of her. But the child had an independent streak in her. He had lost friends and partners over the years. He had never met Bestial Boy personally; in fact his connections within the CCCP had been very limited so far. But Molotov needed to let this go. This was no way to carry on.

“Tell me you didn’t kill those men. Heroes do not kill.”

Molotov paused. Heroes do not kill. No, I suppose they do not. But the villains. What rules do they have? Zach was killed. Perhaps if someone had killed that monster before he got his hands on him. Why can’t the rules be changed?
“Tanya. Answer me!”

Molotov glared at El Nacional. She tried to think. But the last few days had been such a blur. She glanced at the television. Did she do that? She remembers taking down someone last night. But the details were fuzzy.

“Your father would not approve of this.”

“My father is dead.”

“Tanya. Enough I say. Your father wanted me to…”

Molotov cut him off. He eyes began to water as she shouted, “You are NOT my father.”

Molotov stood and stumbled slightly. Her eyes glaring at El Nacional. If this old man would not leave her alone, she would make him. Molotov raised her fist and a flicker of flame appeared. However, just before she could do anything else a fist came from above and hit her square on top of the head. El Nacional grabbed her and picked her up unconscious body over his shoulder.

El Nacional had seen enough. Molotov had apparently been drinking since Zach Marlowe’s death and who knows what else she had done. He glanced at the bartender and tossed him a few twenties.

“My apologies. It is time she went home.” El Nacional turned and began to walk out of the bar.

The bartender shrugged. He had seen much worse in here. Besides, one hero knocking out another who just could have burned his entire place down was an acceptable way to end this little engagement. It was just the start of another day in Paragon.