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Some things never change

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Some things never change

 

Comrade Dmitri Feodorovich Stepanov glanced momentarily out of the window of the tall, bleak government building overlooking the snow-swept Red Square. He still privately referred to himself as 'comrade', although in fact no one would call him that anymore. The Soviet Union no longer existed, and Russia was no longer a communist country. Even so, certain things hadn't changed. The KGB was still there - its official name was different but it was still here and busier than ever. Not that it hadn't been affected by the dissolution of the USSR, far from it. A significant portion of agents originating from Ukraine, Belarus and the other now independent republics had turned from colleagues to adversaries overnight and had to be dismissed and deported - good comrades too, he'd been working with some of them for years. Had also sent them to Siberia on occasion, but still. This had caused serious personnel problems and even now the KGB had not fully recovered, which was why he was compelled to remain in active service although he was long past the age of retirement.

He did not resent this; for all the disillusioning regime changes his dedication to the organization had never faltered, but lately he was thinking he wasn't quite up to the game, at least not as he used to be in the old days. He was too old school, and missed the times when he had just one enemy to deal with, the decadent West. Now things had become too chaotic, too complicated...and he didn't even have the communist ideology (which he still considered superior) to fall back on. Perhaps he was simply too old to adapt to these turbulent times...Comrade Mikhail Andreyevich – no, comrade Mischa the Cub, even in private one should only refer to an agent by their code name – had managed to adjust much more efficiently; then again, he had always been KGB's finest. A good communist should never feel proud of personal achievements, but nevertheless he had always been secretly proud of Mischa's numerous distinctions because he was the one who had recruited him into the organization. Comrade Commissar* had scoffed back then that "a meathead who only knew about boxing could not possibly have the cunning necessary to bring down those degenerate capitalists" but he had persisted to the limits party discipline would allow, and he had certainly been justified by the outcome. Mischa had thrived during communism, without ever being fazed even when he'd been exiled to Siberia; but he worked just as flawlessly now, he had even managed to collaborate with his mortal enemy, the blasted Iron Klaus, when the situation had called for it. He had never outgrown his hatred for the man though...the Cold War might be over and their purposes might even coincide at times, but for them there could only be temporary ceasefires, never a permanent reconciliation.

It was understandable; he, too, didn't think he could ever regard Iron Klaus as anything other than an enemy. It was probably due to the resentment he felt because the KGB had never quite managed to defeat that particular representative of capitalism. Some small victories at times, yes, but never a decisive blow, like having him captured and paraded through the Red Square for instance. Even when comrade Dawn Crow had captured all of his agents, that damned Kraut managed to turn the tables; not only did he free them but he also captured Dawn Crow instead. A great loss for the KGB; after his imprisonment was over, Dawn Crow had been so demoralized because he had broken during his interrogation that he opted to defect to America rather than face his rightful sentence in Siberia. All this wasn't easy to forgive...although in all fairness, he had to admit that Iron Klaus had more abilities than most. Clever, tough, never straying from his duty, he would've made a fine communist had he been born on the right side of the Berlin Wall. It was small wonder that defeating him had proved so difficult, although Mischa had almost achieved it a few times. That time in Rome, and that other time in Alaska, he would've certainly taken Iron Klaus out of commission were it not for the interference of that...character who always hung around him, the thief who called himself Eroica. What a person. Even as far as decadent Westerners went, he was in a league of his own; a true embodiment of the vices of capitalism. Hedonistic, extravagant, undisciplined and egotistical, that man could think only of himself, he would never serve any cause other than his own whims. However, despite his frivolous nature he did possess a certain sort of bravery...or disregard for his personal safety, depending on how you looked at it. This trait of his had caused the KGB some resounding defeats and no little annoyance; but he could not hate it entirely since because of it he'd been able to bear witness to what had to be the most mortifying moment of Iron Klaus' career. It was truly one of the most entertaining episodes of his professional life, that one; he couldn't help feeling amused every time he recalled how Eroica, despite standing accused of kidnapping the Pope, had stated in absolute British calmness, "Do you really want me to say it? It's because I love you." "Good answer," Iron Klaus had responded, and followed that up with a punch not even Mischa would be able to criticize. All others present were truly convinced of his hatred for Eroica, and he knew he should've acted like it as well; but he had not been able to resist the temptation of teasing him about the perfection of his "performance". It probably wasn't very wise, letting him know that the KGB wasn't naive like those CIA and SIS idiots, but he couldn't help wanting to ruffle his feathers a bit. Of course, Iron Klaus knew that the KGB knew he was the one who had brought Eroica to Rome, but he also knew they had no interest in cooperating with the police of a non-allied country, so he pretended to ignore his taunts, but deep down he was truly angered. Interesting, how he lost his temper so easily whenever Eroica was involved...unfortunately, not enough to cloud his judgement and hinder his abilities. But what was most interesting was that although he usually made a point of being a lone wolf and couldn't even stomach his so-called allies, he could actually work quite well with Eroica. No wonder many suspected them of having a secret relationship. He didn't know if that was indeed the case – even KGB'S surveillance hadn't yielded any concrete evidence – but it was an undeniable fact that the two of them had practically become a team and worked as a team even when they were on opposite sides. Regimes had changed, countries had changed, the world had changed, but still…wherever Iron Klaus was, Eroica would inevitably follow.

Comrade Dmitri Feodorovich Stepanov, also known as Polar Bear, turned away from the window with a smirk under his well-trimmed mustache. Fat chance of that ever changing.