Week 102

Robot scorpion Walt Disney slowly turned in a circle, drinking in the chaos he’d created. Another peal of laugher erupted from his speakers.

Disney reached down with one of his massive metallic claws and began picking up cobblestones and hurling them at fleeing tourists.

One man fell as the stone missile collided with his head, then another crumpled after being caught between the shoulder blades.

Though few had the composure to notice, the carnage in Red Square had an odd, yet familiar, soundtrack.

As he worked, Disney hummed along with the tune playing from his tail: “It’s a world of laughter and a world of tears …

“It’s a world of hope and a world of fears …” Disney’s tail lashed out, obliterating a pirozhki cart. “It’s a small world after all!”

Disney was about to hurl a matryoshka doll stand at the GUM shopping arcade when the heard the Fetid Lord’s voice in his head.

“Enough play, Mouse King—destroy the tomb!” Instantly, Disney spun around and hurled the doll stand at Lenin’s mausoleum.

But before it could strike the tomb’s entrance, an anti-tank missile streaked across the sky and hit it, causing a cascade of wooden dolls.

As Disney turned to see the source of the missile, two more landed within a few meters of him, their explosions nearly toppling him over.

Ropes uncoiled from the Krokodil’s side door; Murder Cat, Black Ops, and Toki rappelled to the ground, landing in their fighting stances.

Instantly, Murder Cat charged the giant robot scorpion, leaping into the air to slash at Disney’s glass-encased, partially frozen head.

But Disney was too fast, punching Murder Cat with one of his giant claws and throwing the massive feline sideways.

Murder Cat hit the ground, rolled, and was immediately up on his feet. “That was stupid,” he growled to himself. “Strategy, not strength.”

Brap-brap-brap-brap! Snowy unleashed a torrent of machine gun fire from the helicopter’s chin gun, raking the ground around Disney.

Suddenly the War Bear cried out in pain and clutched her head with both paws. The helicopter spun wildly and began losing altitude.

Putin looked out the window and saw Arianna Huffington standing on the roof of a Lada, fingers on her temples, staring at the chopper.

“Paul!” Putin shouted, “Stop her!” He grabbed the control stick and wrestled the Krokodil back to a stable hover.

Paul leapt out of the helicopter in his walking suit, landing with a heavy thud. He inhaled sharply and directed a massive psychic punch.

Arianna doubled over, but was not down long. She glared at Paul and unleashed a telekinetic blow that he only narrowly avoided.

Putin looked down from the cockpit and saw other members of the Order running to join the fray. He smiled and tore off his shirt.

Week 103

“To the grave!” Putin commanded. Snowy set her jaw and pulled the chopper into a steep banked turn toward Lenin’s mausoleum.

Atop giant robotic stilts, wearing red Nikes, Kanye West charged toward a grey robotic monkey wielding a katana: Toki.

Toki exhaled slowly as he lowered into migi gedan no kamae stance, the long tails of his headband fluttering behind him like battle flags.

Riding a custom matte black V-Max motorcycle, Byan Khan charged at a pygmy goat. He raised his bow and arrow, drawing a bead on Black Ops.

Black Ops unzipped his large black duffle bag and began frantically searching its contents while glancing up at the approaching Mongol king.

Just as Byan prepared to fire, Murder Cat dove out from behind the History Museum, tackling the V-Max like it was a baby elephant.

The thickly built Mongol was thrown into the air, crashed onto the road, and tumbled to a stop. He stood up, bleeding from his road rash.

Meanwhile, Snowy landed the Krokodil near the graveyard behind Lenin’s mausoleum. Sensei and student leapt from the cockpit.

Putin stared down the long line of dead Soviet dignitaries and saw George Takei and Robot Scorpion Walt Disney digging up Stalin’s grave.

But before he could run to attack them, a figure entered the necropolis through a door in the back of Lenin’s tomb. It was the Red Tsar.

Putin smelled the Putrescent Lord’s hideous stench and turned to face its source. He saw a man, his face hidden beneath a tall peaked hood.

Before Putin could attack, the figure stopped and dramatically revealed his face. Putin gasped in shock: How could it be?!

Indeed, he recognized the man who smelled of death—it was his idol, Joseph Stalin! The Putin Pals’ commander froze.

Snowy recognized Stalin’s face, too, and then looked back in confusion at the gravesite Robot Scorpion Walt Disney was disinterring.

The deafening whine of the Krokodil’s twin engines spooling up snapped Putin around to see Mila seated at the copter’s controls.

As the chopper ascended, hurricane-force rotor wash tousled Putin’s comb over, but he stood immovable. Mila looked down and blew him a kiss.

Putin glowed bright green. Mila laughed and then, as she dipped the Krokodil’s nose to head south, she held up little C-4, the Poodle.

She mashed the little dog into the cockpit glass and Putin saw C-4 yap and wag her tail—twice. Then Mila roared away.

Putin was enraged! Without thinking, he let off a blast of energy that sent Snowy flying into Robot Scorpion Walt Disney and George Takei.

Putin sprinted past them without looking, focused solely on the helicopter receding into the distance. “Snowy! Come on!” he shouted.

In her earpiece, Snowy heard Putin speaking to Peaches and Herb back at the base. “Bring the plane!” he ordered. “The big one!”

Week 104

Immediately, Snowy rolled to her feet. Without even a glance at their foes, she followed Putin as he raced into Red Square.

Putin pulled his gaze downward from the Krokodil that carried C-4 and his ex-wife, and focused his intent: He needed transport, now!

There, as if on television, it appeared: a Moscow policeman, idling on his Yunker, just across the Square. Putin tore over the cobblestones.

“I am taking your Yunker!” he barked. The officer was gobsmacked to see the shirtless President of the Federation standing before him.

“Y-Y-Yes, Excellency!” he stammered, as Putin pushed him to the ground, mounted the growling machine, and roared away.

Snowy watched helplessly as Byan Khan wove recklessly through the Square on his massive V-Max motorcycle and disappeared after Putin.

A yellow Lada screeched to a stop. “Wanna ride?” Murder Cat grinned. Quickly, Snowy began the process of getting into the passenger seat.

Black Ops and Toki reached over the back seat to help pull her in, and eventually they were all aboard. But where was Putin?

Just then, a white Opal van sped past them, heading toward the Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy Most. “Follow that van!” Snowy shouted.

Murder Cat obeyed without question. Snowy remembered the white Opal van of their foes who kidnapped Pulpo Paul in Oberhausen.

It wasn’t much to go on—she just hoped her hunch was correct. Meanwhile, Black Ops tried to reach Putin on the walkie-talkie.

Up ahead, Putin was weaving the Yunker in and out of heavy traffic on the Bolshoy bridge. Above him, the Krokodil turned eastward.v

Coming off the bridge, Putin made a left across several lanes of oncoming traffic. The helicopter swung again, and he made another left.

As the Yunker roared over the bridge back across the canal, Putin heard another motorcycle behind him: Byan Khan was catching up.

The Krokodil arced lazily through the sky, almost as if Mila wanted Putin to keep up with her. Putin leaned into a right turn.

He realized they were headed for the on-ramp to the Novospasskiy Most—back across the Moskva? He gunned the Yunker’s engine.

Behind him, he heard Byan Khan accelerate. Putin twisted the Yunker’s throttle: Faster! Faster! Byan Khan was gaining on him.

His only hope was that Khan was not familiar with the streets of Moscow. Putin cranked the throttle, and the Yunker gave him all it had.

Ahead of him a lorry made the turn, circling down the on-ramp. Putin shot past, then braked hard and went right in a shower of sparks.

Turning the Yunker by sheer force of will, Putin remained on the ramp and headed toward the bridge. Byan Khan was not so lucky.

Behind him, Putin heard the V-Max crashing through the guardrail and plummeting to the roadbed below. “One down,” he thought.

Week 105

Putin grimaced as he rode the mighty Yunker across the Novospasskiy Most. What an ugly bridge! It always disturbed him.

He promised himself that once he had finished saving the Earth, he would have Novospasskiy Most destroyed.

Coming off the bridge, he turned eastward to follow the Krokodil. “Be brave, little C-4!” he thought. “Papi Putin is coming for you!”

The Krokodil, which had a top speed of 200 km per hour, floated lazily through the sky, never getting too far ahead of the Yunker below.

Meanwhile, the white Opal van and the yellow Lada were creeping along in a massive traffic jam on Volgogradsky Avenue.

The driver of the van glanced anxiously at his passenger. Antonosky knew the Fetid Lord might easily blame him for their slow progress.

The odor of rotting flesh seemed to increase as the traffic crawled almost to a stop.

“Can’t somebody roll down a window?” Kanye West asked plaintively from the back, where he sat between George Takei and Ariana Huffington.

In the Lada, Black Ops studied the GPS to see if there were some way around the traffic. But where were they headed? They didn’t know.

Suddenly, Putin’s voice crackled over the walkie-talkie: “She’s turning south! Definitely, she is headed toward Myachkovo Airport!”

It made sense: Myachkovo was a private airport, but with a runway long enough for an Ilyushin II-76 cargo jet.

Quickly, Black Ops got the airport’s coordinates and radioed them to Peaches and Herb in the Putin Pals’ Kalinin K-7.

But there was no faster alternate auto route to Myachkovo. The Lada chugged along the M-5 highway as the traffic gradually thinned out.

In the Krokodil far above, Mila realized that Putin knew where she was headed. She sped away through the sky, leaving him behind.

Half an hour later, the Yunker turned onto the airport approach road. The white van followed within view, trailed by the yellow Lada.

Putin arrived just in time to see an Embraer Phenom 300 roaring down the runway for takeoff. He knew it was Mila—and little C-4!

He gunned the Yunker’s throttle and, in a desperate attempt to stop his ex-wife, roared directly into the path of the plane.

At the last possible moment, the Phenom lifted up, was airborne, and flew just over Putin’s head, barely missing him.

“You’re a monster!” Putin screamed in helpless fury. As if in reply, the plane waggled its wings, then turned north.

Brakes screeched behind him, and Putin turned to see a white Opal van skidding to a stop in front of an open hanger.

Far behind it, a yellow Lada chugged up the access road. Mentally, Putin prepared himself for whatever would come next.

Week 106

One of the van’s doors swung open, and George Takei hopped out. He hurried around to open the front passenger door with a low bow.

Slowly, a hooded figure emerged into the shadow of the hanger. Putin froze: The Red Tsar! The Fetid Lord stared at Putin with rheumy eyes.

Inside the van, the Order’s servants watched. It had been many years since Putin was in the White Room—would the conditioning still hold?

“He’s immobilized,” Arianna Huffington said with satisfaction after scanning Putin’s mind. “He still reveres Stalin. Let’s go!”

Dr. Antonosky felt a frisson of pride. It was HE who had succeeded in controlling Putin‘s thoughts, HE who accomplished everything …

“… in service to our Fetid Lord,” Arianna Huffington inserted the words smoothly into his mind. “Yes! Of course!” Antonosky exclaimed aloud.

The doctor hurried into the hanger. Although many unforeseen events had occurred, the broad outline of the Great Plan was still in place.

Soon they would take Putin for their own! Antonosky started the Technicon Ixion and taxied the windowless jet out of the hanger.

Down the access road, the yellow Lada struggled toward them. Murder Cat pressed the accelerator to the floor: Their Leader was in danger!

Quickly, George Takei assisted Stalin into the cabin of the jet; Kanye West and Arianna Huffington followed. Putin remained motionless.

The Ixion rolled to the head of the nearest runway just as the yellow Lada ground to a halt at the hanger and the Pals piled out.

“Let them go,” Putin said totally unnecessarily as the Order’s plane roared away from them and lifted up off the runway.

The Pals stood and watched as the sleek black jet, with its wing-mounted cameras, disappeared into the sky, heading north.

Black Ops entered some code into his Irkutsk Computational Device and stared with his weird goat eyes at the result.

“Your ex filed a flight plan,” he said. Putin wheeled around to face him. “Where? Where is she taking C-4?” “To the Tian Shan Mountains.”

“Then this is it,” Putin said softly. The Pals exchanged glances; they knew their Leader was most dangerous when he was quiet.

In the silence that followed they became aware of a distant sound like the roar of glaciers scraping across whatever glaciers scrape across.

It was the Pals’ 18-engine Kalinin K-7, the massive battleship of the skies, piloted by the twin narwhals, Peaches and Herb!

“Toki!” Putin barked, “take the Krokodil back to Moscow and pick up Pulpo Paul! Meet us at the Tian Shan Mountains!”

The metallic macaque hurried to obey, as the rest of the Pals watched the approach of their mighty aircraft, a skyscraper with cannons.

Soon they all were airborne and headed north. Putin sat alone, brooding and staring out the window, while Snowy watched him with concern.