Week 57

Putin ducked as shattered glass and plaster rained down upon the hall. When he looked up, he saw Depardieu had torn off his clothes.

While the famed actor’s arms and face were hairless, the rest of his body was covered in thick brown fur. He was a shaved bear!

As Putin processed this shocking revelation, Depardieu unleashed a ferocious roar, dropped to all fours, and charged the President.

At the last second, instinct kicked in, and Putin tossed his attacker with a fluid judo flip. The movement snapped him back to reality.

Putin watched his assailant tumble across the floor and slam into a dessert table. Then he looked around at the horror surrounding him.

Angry bears were everywhere. Up in the theatre’s many balconies, bears chased party guests and devoured the ones they caught.

Mickey Rourke lay pinned beneath a giant paw, desperately trying to ward off a snarling grizzly. “Not in the face!” he screamed.

Crouched beneath a massive ice sculpture of a poodle, Goldie Hawn and a plump oligarch tried to defend themselves with fondue forks.

“Why is this happening?” Putin wondered. “Who would dare attack my party? How could anyone be so bold, so … stupid?” Then the answer came.

“PUTIN! This is the Bear King’s revenge!” As the President turned toward the voice, a savage blow struck his head.

He staggered, waves of pain clouding his vision, and blinked as a blurry image of a bear resolved into his old nemesis.

“Orso!” Putin growled, “You look terrible.” And he did. Their last battle had crippled the bear, and now crude technology animated him.

“There are few doctors in the wilderness,” Orso replied, “but there are loggers, and their machines.”

He opened and closed one paw made from the steel claw taken from a skidder and grinned, revealing a mouth full of chainsaw teeth.

Hydraulic hoses snaked from his limbs into a rusty, yellow metal box protruding from his back. “I’ll kill you for what you’ve made me!”

“I’ll kill you for fun,” Putin replied, tearing off his shirt to reveal rippling muscles glowing a faint green. The two enemies charged.

Orso threw a wild haymaker with his claw; Putin ducked and countered with a ferocious body blow. Orso gasped in pain and retreated.

Using his hydraulically augmented strength, he began ripping up theatre seats that were bolted to the floor, hurling them at Putin.

Putin dodged the first one, and watched it fly across the hall and crash into Sharon Stone. Then he began punching them out of mid-air.

Putin knew he could handle Orso, but he could not protect all his celebrity guests while fighting. He needed help.

He pressed a button on a small device in his pocket. Moments later, he heard the sound of an approaching helicopter: The Pals were coming!

Week 58

The steady thump of a massive rotor grew louder until it was just overhead. Putin looked up to see a Soviet Krokodil gunship hovering above.

The fuselage door slid open and heavy black ropes cascaded down, slapping onto the Bolshoi’s floor. The silhouette of a tiger appeared.

There was a flash of movement in the chopper’s side door, and then the Putin Pals were down and the Krokodil was flying away.

Putin and Snowy made eye contact, but then Snowy looked behind him and saw Orso—her father. She froze, and Putin cursed under his breath.

There was no time for this! Leonardo DiCaprio was clinging to the top of a silken banner, trapped between snarling pandas above and below.

“Snowy!” Putin bellowed. Her attention snapped back. “Lead the attack! Save the guests!” She paused for only an instant before obeying.

As the Pals dove into the fray, Putin turned his attention back to Orso. The Bear King was watching his daughter with a pained expression.

Putin, seeing his foe distracted, whipped a silver chandelier at his face. It smashed into Orso’s head, the flames scorching his fur.

The great bear cried out in pain, his gaze snapping back to his mortal enemy. Seeing Snowy obey Putin enraged him even more.

Putin heard a groaning, and turned to see Depardieu rising slowly. He walked over and kicked the French thespian in the head.

Looking up, Putin saw the rock band he’d hired cowering at stage left. “Start playing!” he shouted, and they launched into “Hot Blooded.”

Meanwhile, the Pals were making quick work of their task: Bears who weren’t dead or seriously wounded were making panicked retreats.

Murder Cat slashed a grizzly’s throat before diving off a balcony to crash down on another ursine assaulter. C-4 gaily yapped and pranced.

Sensing imminent defeat, Orso grew desperate. Gasoline squirted from a nozzle between his legs, dousing the floor, and he set it ablaze.

Flames spread through the theatre and terrified guests screamed and ran, knocking each other down as they raced for the exits.

Orso charged at Putin, who braced himself for a judo flip, but at the last moment Depardieu rose up and slashed at Putin’s back.

He reeled forward, and Orso’s steel claw clamped around his neck. The pressure could have crushed a tree trunk, and Putin’s eyes bulged.

Gasping, Putin saw Snowy watching the scene, mouth agape, unmoving. He felt betrayed, furious, saddened. The strength drained from his body.

Depardieu bit into Putin’s shoulder, but then released, screaming. Murder Cat was upon him, savagely flaying his shaven face.

Putin’s vision faded as he glimpsed Snowy starting to move forward, but before she could act, Black Ops slammed into Orso, toppling him.

As he fell, Orso released Putin; then, accepting his failure, he fled. The Krokodil reappeared, and the Putin Pals escaped the flames.