Week 31

“My lords, I am pleased to announce that your plan is on schedule. Putin’s star is growing brighter, and he is unaware of our influence.”

The Commander’s gaze shifted from one member of The Order to another. Most looked solemn or contemplative, but not all.

As usual, Cheney had replaced his hood with a gimp mask, and Henry Kissinger was gently kneading his thigh the way he’d choke a cat.

A low whine, barely audible, indicated that the former Vice President’s robot heart was pumping at an accelerated rate.

Next to them, at the head of the table, sat the Fetid Lord in his ornate wooden chair, his hood pulled low to obscure his face.

The Commander paused, aching for a sign of approval from his masters. They gave none, and after a moment he continued.

“As head of the Presidential Property Management Department, Putin has been able to meet many of Russia’s rising oligarchs.

“As usual, his arrogance betrays him. He actually believes he’s charmed all these men into supporting his political ambitions.

“In any event, Putin has taken quite well to his position as Chief of the Main Control Directorate. He displays a real lust for power.”

The Commander paused. Still desperate for a member of The Order to show some approval, he couldn’t resist a final barb at Putin.

“He loves power so much, why doesn’t he marry it? I think he would prefer it to sharing a mattress with his sow wife, Mi-”

“SILENCE!” A voice utterly familiar and terribly distorted stunned the Commander. Something flashed in a dark corner of the Lodge.

Suddenly, there stood Walt Disney, his half-frozen head encased in a glass jar, torchlight glinting off his polished carapace.

The commander was terrified. Through frostbitten lips, Disney hissed, “How dare you insult Putin, servant? You are nothing compared to him!”

Eight slender legs whirred in unison as Disney, his icy head riding a large robotic scorpion body, moved to stand next to the Fetid Lord.

Putin is to be the Host! It is a great honor,” said Disney, his words emitting from a speaker atop his telson. “He will serve our Lord.”

Lifting his hand, the Fetid Lord signaled for quiet. “It is time for Putin to move to center stage,” he said. “We begin the Final Phase.”

The Lord reached his thick, blotchy hand toward a steel chain draped over the arm of his throne. He grasped it and pulled.

The chain came taught, yanking the brown leather collar around President Yeltsin’s neck. He looked up from his vodka-filled dog bowl.

“Boris—You will accept Putin’s invitation to his dacha this weekend. He must join your administration before we give him the presidency.”

“So sayeth the Fetid Lord!” shouted Disney, and in unison, all the members of The Order responded: “So sayeth the Red Tzar!”