A RED ARMY COSMONAUT?
The red duo, Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan, walk quickly through the backstage area. Ruslan has several large, rolled up maps in his arms and hugs them to his body, while Stanislav grumbles next to him. One map that was taped up begins to unfurl, which forces both Rusisans to stop and collect themselves. Finally, Ruslan resumes walking and Ivan follows. His annoyance is evident.
Ivan Stanislav: How hard can it be to find one woman?
Alexei Ruslan: (fumbling with the maps) I do not know, Ivan Sergeiovich. It is not like PRIME has many females on roster. We know what Lockhart looks like, one a tag team champion I think? And finally the other is the blood sucking capitalist Troy! I thought this would be easy!
Ivan gesticulates with his broad arms.
Ivan Stanislav: We have looked through all proletarian haunts, Alexei Gregorovich! The boiler room, technician area, loading dock, every place where a good, hard worker would find solace!
They round a corner.
Ivan Stanislav: The only place we have not looked…
Alexei, with a halting, and stunned breath, finishes Ivan’s sentence as they enter into a horrible den of capitalism.
Alexei Ruslan: …is merchandise area.
Ruslan peers between his maps, as if they were the limbs of trees in the Amazon rainforest, while Stanislav stands dumbfounded beside him with his huge mouth agape. Several tables are spread out in front of the communists, where various dirty capitalists hawk their wares. There is only one female behind a booth.
Worse yet? She matches the description of Anna Daniels.
Ruslan looks up slowly at his gigantic friend, and Stanislav looks down at him as his frown grows.
Ivan Stanislav: (bristling) I thought you said she might be good candidate for Red Army?
Alexei Ruslan: She isn’t American, Ivan! She is from… Gallifrey? I do not even know where that is. We cannot give up hope. I am sure she is just making money on subsistence level and giving the rest back to her local government.
Ivan growls and the two approach the table where Anna Daniels stands. Ivan looks down at her from the other side of the table. Despite his wish to finally find the woman, now, he half hopes this isn’t her.
Ivan Stanislav: Anna Daniels?
Unfortunately for Ivan, he has indeed found exactly who he was looking for, cleaning off the dust from her merch booth. It’s been many weeks since she’s been here and it was about damn time to knock the rust off and get back to work. The vessel’s eyes rise up just enough to catch the sight of the skyscraper-like Russian Bear and whoever the hell is buried underneath all those maps. The Multitudes shuffle to see who responds to this question. They don’t seem like a threat. Not yet, anyway. Finally, Anna looks Ivan in the eye.
Anna Daniels: That is one of our many names, yes. We’re not open for business yet.
Simple. To the point. Not dismissive. There’s a smile, knowing full well that these two most likely did not come here to buy the shirts (and honestly, how foolish for them!). Just because Anna Daniels is a multidimensional being with many versions of themself in her head that travels through the multiverse on a quest for Godhood doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some attempt of keeping up with the PRIMEverse’s strangeness. Communists entering into a capitalist nightmare to seek them out? Hell, this wouldn’t even be the weirdest thing that’s happened since the ink on the contract dried.
The pause is pregnant as Ivan digests Anna’s words and he cuts his eyes back down at Alexei. Ruslan fumbles with his maps and might be trying to hide from Ivan’s gaze. One map pushes against the brim of his hat and threatens to push it off his head, and Stanislav presses his finger on the top of Alexei’s hat to keep it there. He clears his throat and keeps his finger pressing on Alexei’s skull.
Ivan Stanislav: Eh… good. I am Ivan Stanislav, and this is my comrade, Alexei Ruslan.
Ruslan shuffles the maps in front of him once more, but that might be him trying to wave? Stanislav frees Ruslan and wraps one paw around a suspender strap that could hold up a cinder block and squeezes it.
Ivan Stanislav: We come here because we thought it prudent to ask you few questions. Ahem.. and I should say, we are not interested in purchasing any of your knick-knacks.
Anna Daniels: Knick-knacks? Surely not! We only sell the finest quality t-shirts including…
With a flourish, a black shirt is whipped out and held up. On the chest is the usual NEW ERA logo in its traditional mocking of the PRIME logo except glitchy. And at this point, there is a manic look to the camera droid. To you, the poor audience who have just gotten over your concussions from the last time this happened.
Anna Daniels: …THE BRAND NEW NEW ERA T-SHIRT AVAILABLE ONLY VIA THE PRIMEPORIUM!!! BUY THE SHIRTS, YOU FUCKING COWARDS!
The vessel’s face shifts back from manic shilling and implied threats of much punting of heads back to the matter of these boys. The grin does not leave their face as they softly set the shirt down. The mania in their eyes dies down to a minimum as the Muse’s hand slowly picks up one of the maps from Alexei’s pile. The body language shifts to its usual poise.
Anna Daniels: We take it these had something to do with your questions?
The two Russians stare at Anna, their eyes wide. Ivan is the first to recover and glowers down at Alexei once more. His mood does not seem to improve. What has Ruslan gotten him into? Ruslan lets her… or… them… snatch the map from his arms, and he haphazardly drops the rest on top of the table, over the shirts.
Alexei Ruslan: Yes… uh… we were curious as to where Gallifrey was located? You see, Ivan and I are recruiting for The Red Army it…
Ivan interjects with his booming voice as he looks down at the woman.
Ivan Stanislav: …is group of wrestlers committed to the cause of working man and woman, and more specifically, we prefer to have members outside of corrupt United States of America. We adhere to strict tenets of worldwide revolution and promotion of common people against the…
He looks down at the t-shirts beneath the maps and frowns.
Ivan Stanislav: …capitalist… forces of evil.
Alexei meekly continues.
Alexei Ruslan: I have scoured our databases and maps and could not find Gallifrey anywhere. So… our first question is… where is it?
Anna Daniels: Interesting.
The Multitudes aren’t entirely sure what to make of all this. The quickest of all glances shows to them that the maps in question are of Earth. So, ya know, no wonder they couldn’t find it. However, this was actually good news in a way. Finally somebody took the time to not look at them like they were a crackpot. Such a strange little blessing. But how exactly do we navigate this?
Anna Daniels: Gallifrey–the original, we mean–no longer exists.
Well…that just slipped out. There’s a pause as the deliberation in the brain comes to a conclusion. When in doubt, be honest.
Anna Daniels: It used to be two hundred and fifty million lightyears from here. So those maps wouldn’t really help. Then the War happened and there were many other planets conquered and terraformed to become other versions of Gallifrey. Consider those like territories of the original. They were made to ensure that if one fell, it wouldn’t be the end of the War with our defeat. That we would keep going and keep fighting. It’s a very…complicated thing.
The vessel waves it off.
Anna Daniels: The point is the original is gone. Ours is gone. There’s probably one still fighting somewhere but we’ve been locked out of the proceedings because ours is…gone. So we can’t fulfill the mission we were born and bred to do which is die in glorious battle. So technically speaking, we are not American citizens.
Anna Daniels: Although, if it’ll make you feel better, we live in Sydney now. And occasionally Tokyo, when we need to.
The information came out in a babble. But considering this was the first time they’ve said it out loud, it could’ve been worse. However, as she talks, the whistling that comes from Ivan’s nostrils grows louder and louder. His eyelid twitches. Meanwhile, Alexei Ruslan’s eyes grow wider… and wider… and wider.
Anna Daniels: Good idea though. Building an army. Tell us more.
There is another pregnant pause between the three of them, save for the whistling of Ivan’s nostrils. He looks down at Alexei who gulps and Ruslan very slowly cheats his eyes up to Ivan, half hoping The Russian Bear isn’t looking down at him. You know the look, when you try to look but don’t want to look? Ivan speaks nonchalantly, but more to Alexei as he lifts both eyebrows. He offers a perfectly happy smile. Yet to a Russian, like say, Alexei Ruslan, it hides the tremendously arctic truth behind the smile. It is a rage that only a Russian can mask.
Ivan Stanislav: You indeed were right, Alexei, she certainly is not from America.
Ruslan fixes his tie. He doesn’t dare look at Ivan again.
Ivan Stanislav: Might you excuse us for just a moment, Ms. Daniels?
Ivan doesn’t wait for a response. He turns and grips Ruslan’s shoulder and hauls him off to the side. There, the two Russians begin speaking rapidly in their native tongue. There is gesticulating. There is eye covering with hands. There is pointing at their heads and then out into the air. Ruslan fixes his tie again. Stanislav tilts his head to one side, then the other, then he has hands on hips. And then? There is silence. They return to Anna. Ruslan looks positively exhausted.
Ivan Stanislav: Ahem, apologies for that. So… I suppose I have just one more question, Ms. Daniels. Because we have determined that indeed, if you are not from this planet, then you would not be from America. And Lenin did believe in worldwide revolution but perhaps it could be universal revolution…
Ivan literally feels a headache forming, and he still has to square off against Coral Avalon later.
Ivan Stanislav: Anyway, how do you feel about the ideology of Marxism-Leninism?
Anna Daniels: In theory? Not the worst idea humans have had. In practice?
A shake of her head. A rustle through never-ending pockets until they find what they are looking for. One glass of ice cold water and one packet of aspirin. They are slid over to Ivan. The Russian Bear is clearly confused as to where she conjured the water and aspirin, but he holds them.
Anna Daniels: In practice, it is nearly impossible to do because humans and the vast majority of all creatures with such mental facilities tend to end up being corrupt assholes who crave power and will stomp all over anyone to gain it. As long as that happens, a worker’s utopia is a pipe dream. Doesn’t mean people should give up on the dream. It’s just something that may not be seen in all of its glory in anybody’s lifetime.
Another fiddling around. Another cold glass of water. This one is slid to the wary Ruslan. He holds the glass of water and blinks.
Anna Daniels: That being said, this is only us glancing into the subject. It hasn’t crossed our minds as much. Maybe it should, now that you’re around. Would be interesting bedtime reading.
The two Russians look down at their respective glasses of water and Ivan with the aspirin. He clears his throat and places it down on the table. No way a Russian is taking anything from an outsider. He exhales slowly.
Ivan Stanislav: Er… yes well, I suppose perhaps The Red Army would not be the best fit for you anyway…
Ruslan offers a nervous glance up at Ivan and sheepishly begins to gather up the maps that are strewn about the table. He holds them in both of his arms as they rustle loudly.
Ivan Stanislav: Still it was quite… interesting… to meet you, Ms. Daniels.
With one hand, Ivan snatches every map Ruslan holds and yanks them out of his arms. He turns and a low rumble echoes through his barrel chest as he begins to walk away. Ruslan pauses and looks at Anna for a moment and fixes his tie once more.
Alexei Ruslan: Well.. we might as well not make this a completely barren effort, hm? Might I have one of those shirts in the largest size for Praporshchik Stanislav? On the house, of course?
He brings his hands behind his back and rocks on his heels, offering her the most dazzling smile he can muster. Anna nods in response, turns around to the 5XL box and folds the shirt up neatly.
Anna Daniels: Only because you asked nicely.
A look from the left and the right.
Anna Daniels: Though we’re not entirely sure it’s big enough. If you need a custom order, that’ll take some time, you understand.
Watching Alexei being Alexei almost made him cute to the Multitudes in a way. Undoubtedly, he’s going to have some trouble with his burly friend once they leave her eye line. A little bit of kindness will go a long way.
Anna Daniels: And good luck with the army building. Lots of bad people around here.
Ruslan nearly swims in the shirt as he tips his hat politely.
Alexei Ruslan: Yes, uh, thank you. Good luck with the uh, dying in glorious battle…
With that, Ruslan turns with the shirt (which is more like a tarpaulin), and returns to Ivan. He offers the shirt up to his friend, who is still too big for it. He speaks softly.
Alexei Ruslan: At least we do not leave empty handed?
Stanislav sucks in his lips and inhales. He lifts the fist full of maps over his head and slaps them down over Alexei’s hat. It flattens the hat and pushes the brim over his eyes, rendering him blind.
Ivan Stanislav: Let us just find some popcorn before my match…
Alexei Ruslan: (from beneath his hat) Of course, Ivan Sergeiovich…
With that, Stanislav holds onto Ruslan’s entire back, and guides his blind friend out of the room.