FOR MERIT TO THE FATHERLAND
“Hurry it up woman, we do not have all day! This is important!”
From Foster Nackedy running down the hall, we go to Alexei Ruslan power walking down the halls backstage, while Angelica Brooks, with microphone in hand, hustles behind him along with the cameraman.
Angelica Brooks: We really shouldn’t be moving so quickly with the camera…
Alexei Ruslan: Whatever, let’s go!
Ruslan finally stops at a steel door and stares into the camera, one eye opened wider than the other as he focuses, and then fixes his hat. Perhaps he’s using the camera lens as a mirror? He looks at Angelica.
Alexei Ruslan: Now you be sure to stand up straight, hm? Smile. Cheer. Just do as is necessary for this momentous event!
Brooks wrinkles up her nose and looks to the cameraman, and then back to Ruslan.
Angelica Brooks: Okay…
Ruslan shoves the door open. Inside, the hulking Ivan Stanislav stands in his in-ring attire near a white brick wall with his hands on his hips. The Russian Bear’s eyes widen with surprise as Alexei, Brooks, and the cameraman all file into the room.
Ivan Stanislav: The hell is this?
Ruslan stands straight and nods to the cameraman, who is doing a fine job getting the shot of Ivan in the middle, Ruslan to one side, and Brooks to the other. It’s not good enough for Alexei. He leans forward and tilts the camera slightly. He then looks at Angelica, and with one finger, he pushes her shoulder until she is completely out of the shot, leaving the two Russians to be seen. Then, he takes her microphone and simply pulls her arm into view. Finally, Alexei removes his hat and tucks it under his arm and stands at attention.
Alexei Ruslan: Much better! Now, Praporshchik Stanislav…
Ivan looks down towards Brooks off camera, and then over to Alexei. He clearly has no clue what is going on.
Alexei Ruslan: …it brings me great, great pleasure to say these words.
Ruslan reaches into his interior coat pocket and produces a small wooden case with a glass lid. He presents it towards the camera, where we have a view of a medal.
Alexei Ruslan: For your outstanding contributions to the Russian State, to include advances in peace, friendship, cooperation between nations, and significant contributions to the defense of the Fatherland and the absolute destruction of Christopher America and the defense of PRIME’s honor, I, Alexei Gregorovich Ruslan proudly present to you the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland First Class- with Swords.”
Stanislav lifts a brow, and then a smile creeps along his bearded face.
Angelica Brooks’ head emerges from the side as she looks in. She looks annoyed. However, Ruslan cuts her off and waves his hand, shushing her out of the shot again.
Alexei Ruslan: Shush shush shush!!
Ruslan removes the medal and rises on his toes and then it to Stanislav’s barrel chest, over his heart.
Alexei Ruslan: You have made your countrymen, your country, and our great President very proud, Ivan Stanislav. Not to mention the people of PRIME. You truly are locker room leader in every sense of the word! Why, our exchange with Hayes Hanlon this evening proved it. So much boasting. So much preening. He is like company peacock!
He then motions for Angelica to move more into the frame. She complies with a frown.
Alexei Ruslan: Come now woman, do you have questions to ask? I am sure they do not pay you to simply look pretty!
Angelica glares daggers at Ruslan, but she takes the opportunity to speak.
Angelica Brooks: I supp-
But Stanislav overpowers her with his own voice.
Ivan Stanislav: I cannot put into words the great pride I have inside my body, knowing that this award has been given to me. I am so thankful to President Putin, and to all PRIME fans who have supported me since my return.
Brooks seems to have had enough of this and turns to leave with the microphone. But with speed belying his size, Stanislav’s massive hand envelopes her own, and keeps her there. She jerks once, and then stands next to him. Her expression shifts from annoyance to slight concern.
Ivan Stanislav: As we embark on this new year, it is a new time for PRIME. The months after my entry last year, those were just warm up. Now, the true work begins. I ask this question to my enemies who detract from our cause. You know who you are. I must ask, dear enemies, what exactly do you expect to do to stop us? Hm?
Ivan pulls Angelica’s hand higher, which forces her to stand on her toes. Ruslan just smiles. The camera zooms in a bit on Ivan’s bearded face.
Ivan Stanislav: I have destroyed the World Champion of HOW. Tonight, I destroy the former Universal Champion of PRIME. Hayes Hanlon’s days are numbered. The foolish child thought he could stand in my way and emerge unscathed? Perhaps you all know, now, that no one emerges unscathed while standing in my shadow. There is nothing which can be done.
Instead of his voice booming, Ivan growls quietly and he speaks conversationally.
Ivan Stanislav: For all of you, from the highest title holder to the lowest curtain jerker: there is nowhere for you to hide. Lindsay Troy cannot protect you. Security and your friends are wholly impotent. You all thought it funny that I would return. Perhaps because of my age? Perhaps because of my nationality? Perhaps because of my ideology? But I ask you, dear detractors: Who is laughing now?
Ruslan chuckles quietly next to Ivan, but the Bear lets out a low, grumbling chuckle from his chest.
Ivan Stanislav: Hah…haha…..hah…. Shawn Warstein is no longer in PRIME. I beat him into oblivion and he faded into obscurity. Coral Avalon does not laugh. Why, I hear he has fully written off having children since he met me. Heh… members of GAS? They do not laugh. Tony Gamble had to learn how to walk again. And Mortimer the flying goon, so I hear, is changing his last name yet again!
Angelica grunts and squirms. Ivan isn’t hurting her, but being gripped and lifted is uncomfortable and she hisses.
Angelica Brooks: Can I have my arm back, Ivan?
Ivan releases her arm and she drops the microphone. Ruslan snatches it up in mid air as she moves away quickly.
Angelica Brooks: Let’s get out of here…
The camera pans to the side, but it jerks and is wrested from the technician’s arms. Angelica’s heels echo on the floor as she exits and the cameraman does the same. Stanislav moves the camera so it is facing up at him, his enormous gray/black bearded face filling the shot. He still does not yell, rant, or rave, which may be even more unsettling. He just speaks quietly, in a steady, close growl.
Ivan Stanislav: I was nice to you all, PRIME. I gave you option of true hero, didn’t I? But you were too stupid. You were too blind by your own prejudice to simply accept it. You didn’t want it. This is a new year, PRIME. My Chinese comrades think it is the year of the rabbit. Nyet. It is the year of the Bear.
Ivan’s huge mouth opens in a grin.
Ivan Stanislav: I will burn down everything if I must. I will grind every enemy of The Red Army into paste and use it to shine my boots. I will turn the blue brand of PRIME red with Revolution. HOW likes #97Red? #204Red is far better. They learned this fact. Now you will learn it.
Ivan grins and narrows his eyes.
Ivan Stanislav: Twenty years, PRIME. You had twenty years to be ready for us. And you weren’t. Your ill-preparedness only hastens the decimation of everything that stands against The Red Army.
He pauses and his expression flattens to a Russian stare wholly devoid of emotion.
Ivan Stanislav: Stand against me and be destroyed. Watch your heroes and your challengers. Week after week. Watch them shatter against the full power of Russia.
The view begins to garble as Stanislav crushes the camera in his hands and the video feed turns to static. His words in the microphone can still be heard. Though they’re not words at all.
Just a laugh that no one should ignore.