Week 68

Murder Cat gave the controls back to Peaches and Herb for the long flight to the Kara Sea. He, Snowy, and Black Ops had much to discuss.

Hours later, the twin narwhals made a perfect landing on the faux oil rig that served as the Krokodil’s base.

The Pals jumped out of the helicopter and entered the submersible for the last leg of their journey to the Fortress of Opulence.

Disembarking in the airlock, they were surprised to see Pulpo Paul waiting for them, instead of Putin himself. This was serious.

“He’s expecting you in the debriefing room,” the psychic cephalopod thought to them, without so much as a greeting.

The octopus turned and the others followed him down the hallway. His walking suit made progress agonizingly slow, but no one was in a hurry.

Finally they reached the debriefing room, where Putin sat at the head of a long conference table, petting C-4 and staring straight ahead.

The Pals exchanged nervous glances and sat down, while Pulpo Paul stood near the door. “I will have your report now,” Putin said.

Briefly, Murder Cat described how he had been able to disguise himself as a nurse and gain access to Gerard Depardieu’s hospital room.

He had stolen the actor’s chart and was filling his IV with sodium pentathol when a doctor had unexpectedly appeared.

“You have photos,” Putin said. It was a statement, not a question. “Yes,” the tiger replied, “but there is more. Someone sent an assassin.

“He was hiding in the WC until the doctor began questioning the patient.” Putin deigned to glance at the tiger, but said nothing.

“The killer and the doctor seemed to know each other, but were surprised by each other’s presence. Then a huge Kaiju broke through the wall.

“The assassin panicked and killed Depardieu before he could tell them about the Bears. In the confusion, I made my escape.”

“Show me the photos,” Putin said. Murder Cat touched a button on his camera and projected the first picture on the debriefing room’s screen.

Putin’s face froze completely, and his eyes went totally blank, like the eyes of a shark. The Pals glanced at each other in alarm.

In that moment, their beloved master had become a terrifying, inhuman dealer of death. “Do you know them?” Pulpo Paul thought softly.

Of course, the psychic octopus was already aware of the answer, but he wanted Putin to tell the others.

“The doctor is Anton Antonovich Antonosky, responsible for torturing me and destroying my personality, and for luring me to Chernobyl.

“And the nurse …” Murder Cat started and looked at Putin in alarm. He had not given the nurse a second thought. “The nurse is my wife.”

“You’re married?” Snowy blurted. “I am betrayed by everyone,” Putin said as he stood and left the room.

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