Sunday, January 18, 2015

5/5/61 - The Things We've Done Together While Our Hearts Were Young - Pt. 3

The only three extant photographs of Hǫfuð - COMPANY Archives
Top Left: Photo from Ahnenerbe-backed archaeological dig in Bolivia, 1939
Middle: Thor, Heinrich Himmler, and Heimdall, 1942
Right: Possible photo of the Crimson Assassin at work 1958)
(Art by Dean Stahl)

"Mister President, I can assure you that this not our doing," the translator says over the phone: "Our Premier sends his complete denial of having had anything to do with this-"

"Now come on, sir," the President says, doing his best to remain composed as a group of four-star Generals hover around his desk: "I have reports that your people have clearly been identified at the Cape."

"We are not accepting that they are ours, Mr. President-"

"And a Russian submarine was just forced to the surface off the coast by one of our strategic talents. I could go on, but I shouldn't have to."

There's a moment of silence, and then cross talk. As they're talking, one of the Generals leans in and starts talking about getting birds in the air. The President waves him off, angrily, hoping no one on the other end heard that.

And then someone rather angry takes hold of the phone.

"Mr. President?" Nikita Khrushchev says, his accent thick and uncertain: "I swear you, not President to Premier, but man to man. We are not doing this. We have no knowing who doing this."

"Are you certain?" the President asks, somehow believing this.

"Is not being SQUASH. They are not knowing. Is not being KGB. They are not knowing. Is our people? Yes. Is my orders? No!"

"So what are you saying, Mr. Premier? Your people have gone rogue?"

"We are not knowing. Please to be leaving them alive so we can learn."

"Well, no promises," the President says, watching on the television as Mr. USA continues to fly around the rocket. So far as the world knows, he's just showing off. But should the people inside the control building be unable to hold off the combatants they've engaged, and he has to swoop down to attack a super-commie on national television...

He hears the Premier talk of forgiveness, and avoiding a war, and he hopes he can agree with that in good conscience, and not go back on it.

* * *

"LookLet'sTalkAboutThis," Swiftfoot says to the red-suited speeder who's running the perimeter of Cape Canaveral with him.

"IAmNotThinkingSo," Sovetsky Skorost replies, trying to place his feet right up against his rival's: "ThereIsBeingNothingToTalkAbout."

"ButWeWereAlliesOnce!@#$It!" he says, doing his best to avoid being tripped, as well as keep him from arcing inside the Cape, and heading for the rocket: "WeShookHandsInBerlin! Don'tYouRemember?"

"IShookHandsWithTheFistOfTheFatherlandInBerlinYearsBefore," the Soviet hero sneers: "FriendIsBecomingEnemy. EnemyIsBecomingFriend. OnlyCauseIsStayingTheSame."

With that, he catches Swiftfoot with a one-two-three punch to the face, knocking him for a loop.

Swiftfoot slips, trips, and tumbles for a hundred feet. He tries to get back up from off his !@#$ but fails. And as he gets to his knees he feels a foot in his kidneys, another in his solar plexus, and then yet another in an even more sensitive area.

He screams and falls back down, clutching at his parts. As he does he sees the red-suited speeder hovering nearby.

"YouAreBeingWeakAndSoft," the man says, pulling out a pair of long, curved knives and whipping them around so quickly they appear to be a steel blur: "IWillBeCuttingItOutOfYouNow. ThenIWillBeKnockingDownYourYankeeRocket."

"That'll be the day," someone says from nearby.

The Speeder turns, but just a second too late to realize how much trouble he's in. And then a wall of sound strikes him square in the chest, knocking him right into the dirt.

Liberty Belle strides towards the fallen Soviet hero, her mouth a wide and distended thing. Before he can get back up she's screaming again, only this time it's even louder, somehow -- and aimed right at his chest.

Swiftfoot closes his eyes, not wanting to see what happens next. The sounds are bad enough. The caught scream that goes nowhere. The cracking of bone and collapsing of soft tissues.

The nasty, wet noise a human ribcage makes as it collapses under the sonic equivalent of being run over by a tank...

And then it's over, and the woman he's supposed to be dating is standing over a twitching pair of legs that's poking out of a man-shaped hole in the dirt.

"Are you alright?" she asks, not bothering to turn around.

"Yes," he says, trying not to show her how much pain he's actually in. He feels like the guy popped one of his testicles.

"Then get up and get back to work," she commands, turning and striding past him, clearly disgusted: "And for God's sake, act like a man."

To his credit, Swiftfoot doesn't start really whimpering until she's well out of earshot. 

* * *

As far as areas to shoot down a rocket being launched from Cape Canaveral go, you couldn't have found a better place than Bird Island, over in Lake Kissimmee.

The well-forested island is mostly deserted, especially on a day like today. It's got lots of places to hide, so that a careful person could do almost anything there and never be detected. And, perhaps most importantly, it's not easily reached unless you have a boat, or a helicopter.

Or, in SPYGOD's case, a flying car.

SPYGOD drives his noisy, relatively slow-moving Aston Martin Spider over the water, heading for the area where Wayfinder told him to find the Crimson Assassin, right on one of the lower points of the center of the island. Every foot of the way, he expects a deadly, car-destroying bullet to come racing out of a tree, a bush, or even the air itself.

But for some reason, Malinovyy Ubiysta lets him land. He even lets him get out of the car -- guns drawn, ready for a fight.

"I know you're !@#$ing here, Gregor," SPYGOD says, looking around: "I also know what you're here to do. And I can tell you right now, it's not going to !@#$ing work. Why don't you give yourself up? We can talk-"

As if to answer him, a loud report comes from somewhere, and the ground between SPYGOD's feet explodes as a massive bullet destroys it. It also deflates one of the car's tires.

"Well, that's just !@#$ rude," SPYGOD says, tossing his guns at the ground and raising his hands up.

"The time for talking is past, American," a voice comes from a copse of trees, deep and growling: "I have my mission. You will not stop it."

"Well, that's just it, pal," SPYGOD says, balling his empty hands into fists: "I !@#$ing will."

* * *

"...somewhat anticlimactic, really," Gold Standard is saying to Mrs. Liberty as they stand out in front of the control center, watching their fellows drag a single captive out onto the front steps: "Two depth charges and their submarine popped out of the water like the cork from a bottle of Bollinger. Pity about the crew, though..."

"Maybe you should have boarded her first," Mrs. Liberty offers, looking up as Mr. USA zooms overhead, winking at the two of them as he completes another circuit.

"Well, maybe," the gold-suited man says, shrugging: "This suit isn't so good under the seas, though. And if I'd forced my way in, well, I think I would have just made things worse."

"Poisoned, you said?"

"One and all," he confirms, shaking his head sadly: "Cyanide molars, if I had to guess. Those sailors weren't going to be talking to us."

"I'm surprised there's any super soviets left to do the same," Mrs. Liberty sighs, looking at the state of the eight-eyed woman that American Lightning is hauling out by the legs. She reminds her of a cartoon she watched, once, where a cat stuck his tongue in a light socket. 

"Well done, by the way," New Man is saying, patting Lightning on the back as they go: "We didn't even have to shout 'high' and 'low' this time!"

"We didn't, did we?" Lightning chuckles, all the frustration of their earlier talk seemingly gone: "Too bad yours got away."

"Yeah, well, I think I blasted him into whatever black hole he lives in when he isn't threatening decent American taxpayers," New Man winks, which leads to another round of chuckling -- at least until Mrs. Liberty walks over and glowers at them.

"Is there any reason you're dragging her along like a caveman?" she chides them, shaking her head.

"Sorry, (REDACTED)," Lightning says, a little sheepishly: "It's just that if she comes around, and gets her hair or her fangs into us, well..."

"And we ran off without proper restraints," New Man says, coughing a little: "Which was my fault. Entirely."

"I see," Mrs. Liberty says, pulling out a pair of very strong wrist cuffs from her utility belt and handing them over the Lightning: "Well, let's get this done properly, gentlemen. I don't think we want to have our picture taken like this, do we?"

"No," New Man admits as Lightning does as he's told, somewhat shame-facedly: "Anyone heard from Dr. Chaos and the new kid?" 

"We have not, no," Gold Standard says, looking on the side of the building where they'd gone to: "I wonder what's going on in there?"

"I'm sure we'll find out soon enough," Mrs. Liberty says, looking off at the rocket as it waits for 'better weather,' and wondering if they've put out all the fires or not. 

* * *
After a full minute of silence, and not being shot, SPYGOD decides to push his luck.

He slowly puts his hands down, pulls out a cigarette, and lights it up, taking a long drag. Then he holds out the pack, offering: "Smoke while we're waiting?"

Nothing happens.

He shrugs, puts it away, and resumes talking: "So while I'm here, about to !@#$ing stop you, maybe you could clear something up for me?"

No answer. Is that him aiming the gun at him from that copse of trees, then?

"See, here's the thing," SPYGOD says: "I just got off the !@#$ phone with the President, before I came over here to your little island. He just !@#$ing talked with your President, over in !@#$ing commieland. And it turns out that your President has no !@#$ idea what the !@#$ you all are doing here, cause he sure as !@#$ didn't order you here."

Silence, still.

"And neither did SQUASH, apparently. I know sometimes you supercommies all go off the !@#$ing reservation, but not this time."

(Was that a shifting of feet? A gun being raised?)

"And, well, seeing as how you red !@#$s can't even wipe your !@#$ !@#$holes without clear permission, I can't see you just deciding to do this on your own, either."

(Yes. A gun. he can hear a finger on a trigger. Or maybe that's just the car engine cooling. !@#$ it. So hard to tell...)

"So you want to tell me what the !@#$ is going on here? " SPYGOD says, finishing his smoke and tossing it towards the copse of trees he heard the voice coming from, before: "Because I figured out what you're !@#$ing doing, but I really can't figure out why you're !@#$ing doing it. This doesn't make much !@#$ sense..."

That does it. There's a rustling in the grass, nearby, and what SPYGOD thought was a small little patch of brush reveals itself to be the Crimson Assassin: seven feet of muscle, big hair, and righteous Soviet anger wrapped in red and black, wearing big, silver sunglasses.

And carrying a very long, fantastic-looking gun that seems to be breathing...

"Well, that's a blast from the !@#$ing past," SPYGOD says, looking at the weapon: "The last time I saw that !@#$ thing it was being handled by some supernazi with eyes the size of dinner plates. How the !@#$ did you get a hold of it?"

As if to answer, the man twists the weapon just so, turning it from a super-long sniper rifle into a much smaller, short-range handgun. Then he aims it at the hood of SPYGOD's car, and shoots it three times, right through the engine block.

"Okay..." SPYGOD mutters, seeing the oil and gas leak onto the ground and wondering how long it's going to take to fix that: "I'll take that as not !@#$ing wanting to say-"

"I do not know what our Premier has told your President, American, and I do not care," the Crimson Assassin insists, pointing the gun back at his interrogator: "I am on a legitimate mission for the Soviet people. The Premier has ordered us here, though SQUASH. There is no uncertainty or doubt in my actions."

"And with your death, there will be nothing to stop this mission."

"Well, !@#$," SPYGOD sighs, figuring it was too much to hope the Premier wasn't !@#$ing lying, after all: "I guess there's nothing else to !@#$ing say, then."

"No," the Soviet hero says, aiming the gun at SPYGOD's head: "There is not."

* * *

"Well, here come the others," Gold Standard says, seeing Dr. Chaos and Corporal Flag walking out and down, one captive apiece. 

Flag's gently escorting a trussed-up, ugly woman who looks like she's gone a few rounds with Cassius Clay -- as does Flag, himself, frankly. Meanwhile, Chaos is carrying a red-suited man in his arms, his head covered by a plastic mop bucket. 

"I hate to ask...?" American Lightning says, watching as the two heroes maneuver their defeated opponents close to where a vaguely-conscious Zhenshchina Pauk sits. As soon as she sees the man with the bucket on his head, she begins to come out of it, clearly concerned for his welfare. 

He does not say anything at all. 

"Well," Corporal Flag sighs, looking at Dr. Chaos, whose hair is still glowing blue, and whose eyes are staring in a thousand impossible directions at once: "We encountered the enemy, and... things got messy."

"How messy?" Mrs. Liberty asks, looking at the man with the bucket on his head, and noticing the glowing, red ring on his finger: "Is that Krasnoye Koltso?"

"Was it..." Dr. Chaos proudly proclaims, taking the plastic bucket off, which prompts a number of sickened reactions -- and a genuine scream of horror from the restrained woman-spider.

"Oh my god," New Man says, putting his hand up before his eyes: "How can he even be alive like that?"

"Yevgeny!" Zhenshchina Pauk wails: "Yevgeny!"

"Was that his name?" Mrs. Liberty asks gently, indicating that Dr. Chaos should really put the bucket back over the sputtering, anti-dimensional ruin he's made of the man's head and neck. 

"Yevgeny..." the spider-woman weeps.

"Mulchat, durak," Matryoshka spits out through a busted mouth: "Nashi vragi nam."

"What's she saying?" American Lightning asks.

"She told her to be quiet, rather rudely I might add," Gold Standard says, leaning over the multiple woman: "And then reminded her they were captives, which is quite true. I'd watch them carefully. They might also have poisoned molars."

"mouth I think If Wraith The her did beat she them of out..." Dr. Chaos intones, chuckling evilly at the thought.

"What are you saying?" Mrs. Liberty asks, looking at the blue-haired man: "Jonathan? I know you're in there. You come out of that state right now and tell us what happened."

"There's nothing to tell," Corporal Flag insists: "We got clobbered for a bit, but Dr. Chaos did... that, and when this lady saw it happen I took advantage and-"

"That is not being what happened, lying pig," Matryoshka snorts: "I would have killed this fool, but for black man with mop. He was truly superior foe, worthy of respect. This one... feh."

She spits a mouthful of blood and broken teeth at Corporal Flag, who grits his own teeth and shakes his head: "Lying commie. I beat you fair and square!"

"Yeah, sure, kid," New Man says, patting him on the shoulder: "Let's you and me take a walk. I'm thinking Liberty Belle might need some help."

"So you do speak English," Mrs. Liberty says, staring down at the beaten woman: "That's good. How about we talk, woman to woman, about what it is you were doing here."

"I am saying nothing," Matryoshka sneers: "Think what you want."

"Well, that's just it, sister," Mrs. Liberty says, getting right into her face: "I can think of a lot of things. And the first thing I'm thinking is that, given the sorry state of your friend under the bucket, here, there's no reason for us to turn this into a photo-op. And given that you happened to interrupt something so vitally important to our country, today, I'm also thinking that we really wouldn't want to have word get out about this at all."

"We are being ready to die."

"I'm sure you are," Gold Standard jumps in, relishing the chance to play worse hero to Mrs. Liberty's bad: "But, as our friend with the blue hair has aptly demonstrated, death isn't the only thing we can do..."

He points to the bucket. Dr. Chaos laughs backwards. It makes the hair stand up on the back of Mrs. Liberty's neck.

The defiance on Matryoshka's face begins to wilt.

* * *

The wind picks up, blowing through the island's trees. The two men face each other, and a crucial second ticks by too long.

The Crimson Assassin narrows his eyes behind his glasses: "A shame this must happen so fast."

"I agree," SPYGOD says.

"They say that you are... how do they say it, the 'American me?' Is that correct?"

"No," SPYGOD grouses: "I don't !@#$ing think so."

"Well, English is a difficult language. I mean to say that we are alike, you and I. Not the same, but similar?"

"Maybe we are," SPYGOD admits: "It changes nothing, Gregor."

"No, (REDACTED)," the tall soviet operative says, grinning: "It does not. But I have been looking forward to this for some time. Often I have dreamed of the day I might have a reason to kill you."

"You know, that's !@#$ing funny," SPYGOD says: "I can honestly say the exact same !@#$ thing. Who'd have thought?"

"But I will not kill you like this, though," the tall man says: "I do not mind destroying lesser men from afar, or even up close. But to kill someone like you like this? Trapped and helpless? There would be no sport in it."

"Oh?" SPYGOD says, looking down at the guns he threw to the ground: "You want to have a duel, Gregor? My .45s, your supernazi gun?"

"It is called Hǫfuð," the Crimson Assassin gently corrects him: "We took it from the hands of the fascist you knew as Heimdall. I have had the privilege of using this on the behalf of the Motherland many times. Today, you will have the privilege of dying by it."

"So I pick mine up, we face off...?"

"No," the man says, smiling: "I count to three. Then you try to get your weapon off the ground and shoot me before I shoot you."

"That's... not very !@#$ing fair."

"No," the Crimson Assassin says, grinning: "But it is a better chance than nothing at all. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you were killed with this superior weapon, wielded by a truly superior foe, than whatever sorry fate would otherwise await someone of your profession."

"Well then," SPYGOD says, smiling just a little: "I guess I'll consider this !@#$ for the honor it is."

"May we begin, (REDACTED)?"

"Please !@#$ing do, Gregor." 

The wind blows across Bird Island, again, bringing with it the crisp, earthy smells of a Florida afternoon. Trees sway and creak, wild grass ebbs and flattens, marking its course.

And, at its center, SPYGOD and the Crimson Assassin face one another from twenty feet away -- each ready to kill the other.

The tall Russian adjusts his grip on his wondrous weapon, making certain his foe's eyes are square in his crosshairs. SPYGOD looks at the guns he'd dropped by his feet, wondering if he can get to them in time.

The wind blows once more, and the Russian starts to count, ever so slowly.




And then-

(SPYGOD is listening to Running Scared (Roy Orbison) and having yet even more !@#$ Blatz)

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