Fifty years ago, the Siberian wilderness...
The barrel of the rifle felt warm after having been used several times by the rifleman child, the instructor on the range looking through a pair of binoculars to examine the accuracy and precision of each of the seven shots the child has fired. Vadam was terrified. The results of his shots decided whether or not he would be fed that night, something he had grown desperately to desire after such brutal training from the past week. The instructor finally lowered his binoculars, and shook his head.
"I thought I was given marksman on my range, Trainee! Not an overgrown toddler with lack of basic upper body strength!" The Instructor began, yanking the rifle free from the grasp of young Vadam. "I'll be sure you go the night without soup. It will hopefully teach you to have discipline when you fire again tomorrow!"
"Sir, you can't starve me!" Vadam exclaimed reflexively, before recoiling instantly. He just realised the mistake he had made. None of the other trainees dared to speak to an instructor like that. Especially the master of the range.
The older man spat in young Vadam's face, before whacking his head to the side with the butt of his rifle. The young child hit the cold winter snow under them, the side of his head instantly becoming sore. He was on the brink of crying out, but he collected himself, refused himself to show anymore weakness. He looked back up at the Instructor, who had then said: "Never shall you speak out of line again! Do you understand me?!"
"Yessir," Vadam muttered.
"Do you understand me?!" The Instructor demanded again.
"Yessir," Vadam muttered again, looking over to his left towards one of his fellow trainees. She shook her head, whispering something under her breath. Vadam couldn't make out what she said, but he knew the lip movement.
He always knew what it meant.
Fifty years later, western Russia...
"Affirmative." Vadam said in response, before quickly checking the COMM equipment on his suit. He had broadcasted that 'Affirmative' to Command, something that would surely confuse whoever was listening to him.
"Sorry Makarov-083," a voice said over the COMM's, "come again?"
"I am in position. I require a profile on the target, command." Makarov cleverly said, as he crawled across the high roof he was located on. He checked the rifle he had in his hands. State of the art long rifle, holding four armour-piercing rounds. All it took was Makarov's keen precision and accuracy to hit the target.
The target. Command would have surely been a bit confused as to why Makarov was asking for target identity again, but the possibility that his handler would have forgotten was high. He could easily detect the younger, voice behind the officer, despite the heavy encryption policies installed over the COMM.
"Copy that, Makarov-083." The voice replied, waiting for a while. Makarov set up the bi-pod legs on the ledge of the roof, adjusting the scopes on his rifle towards the massive glass pylon below. Dozens of people appeared through the opticals, all dressed in fancy attire. Makarov knew what this was. It was a formal occasion, a celebration for someone in particular. The heroes of this city.
The Teen Titans.
He scanned over the scenery for the four he had encountered months earlier. But no one had fit the description for Tu, the sisters or the young leader. They are late, Makarov thought, typical of them. But at least their lateness will spare them this.
"Makarov-083," the voice returned, "your target is of late age. About 1.65 metres, balding white hair. His name is Anton Sokolov, an engineer behind your ARMOR suit. He has recently been targeted because of his activity with both the Teen Titans, and the Justice League. We are concerned that he may have leaked specifications from the ARMOR program, not only to these vigilante association, but to several weapon producing companies abroad. Take him out. We cannot allow him to potentially leak anymore information."
Makarov-083 quickly looked over each of the attendees, finding one which matched the profile perfectly. He was sat at a table, discussing something with someone else. "Understood Command." Makarov replied, "Target spotted."
He honed his senses, and drew in a deep breath. Slowly squeezing the trigger, he waited for the rifle to kick back into his shoulder. And it did, as it should have. The bullet sailed through the air, as Makarov continued to watch through the sight, waiting for his round to make impact.
The glass shattered as the bullet flew through it, hitting the target. Screams filled the air, all of the partygoers terrified and mortified as to what they had just witnessed. A few guests rushed to the side of the befallen man, while others looked everywhere and anywhere for the Titans.
It had turned out that the group had just arrived in an old rusty automobile, with Tu seated on top. The twins and their leader stepped out of the vehicle, with the twins giving their hands to help their teammate off the roof of the vehicle. Tu was dressed in her armor, with a bowtie slapped onto the front of her as her own personal way of dressing herself up. Zhanna wore a button down shirt and pants, while the twins wore glamorous dresses.
"Was that glass always shattered?" Zhanna pointed to the broken window a few stories up. The party was being held in a mostly glass multi-story building, their floor happened to be a few floors up.
"No, I do believe that's new.." Klara said with a worrisome tone. Moments later, a guest looked out the window and began shouting nonsense at the group. "I.. Believe there has been an incident." Klara motioned for the Titans to rush up to their floor.
Tu, having her jets freshly fueled, skipped the stairs and flew herself up and through the window. Upon seeing the deceased man, she began to looks around from the shattered window, scanning for any signs of life for who could have killed him.
Makarov watched as the Titans entered the scene, lowering the rifle scope from his thick faceplate. Kicking up the bipod from the ledge of the roof he was on, he discarded the empty shell from the barrel. Sliding the sniper onto his magnetic locks, he inserted the empty bullet into a pouch on his utility belt. The servos joints on his ARMOR suit whirred, as he pulled away from the edge of the roof.
He moved silently away from the scene, tapping his COMM's back to operational status: "Target eliminated, Command. Titans are on scene."
"Copy that, Makarov-083." The voice replied.
Tu caught just a glimpse of him leaving the scene. As soon as she saw the big bulky armor, she assumed who it was. "Dammit!!!" She exclaimed before positioning herself up on the window ledge.
"What? You find the guy who did it?" Zhanna reached the floor before her cousins. She was currently busy with trying to stop the victim from bleeding everywhere.
"Yeah, it's that- That- That guy!! I don't remember his name, but he's the guy in the giant armor!! The one that shot me in the leg because I tried to be a good person!!" She was furiously pointing outside of the window, waiting for the nod of approval from her leader. Once she got the nod, she shot out the window and was soaring toward the point she had last seen the killer.
Makarov heard the distinct sound of the one Titan's jet engines running close to him, he was quick to make for his sidearm, but he stopped himself. His HUD ran a scan over Tu, remembering her for months earlier. Makarov tapped his COMM's, before reporting: "Command, the Titans are engage. Prepare a team, and deploy on my word."
"Understood, Makarov-083. We have a team on standby." Command responded, as Makarov pulled up the status on his HUD.
He looked up, standing still as he then inquired from the nearby Titan: "What appears to be the problem, citizen?" He prepared his stance, as if he was ready to defend himself if the Titan attacked.
"You know, the- The dead guy! Did you kill him?? I'm assuming you did!" Tu was doing her best to stay calm, she had been trying to have less of a temper.
Back at the party, the twins had cleaned up the mess with impeccable speed. There were few blood stains on the floor, and the body was placed into a large trash bag and placed near the back exit. Zhanna had been trying to calm the crowd down while Kira and Klara dealt with the shattered glass.
Makarov stared at Tu past his double-v visor, relaxing a bit from his combat stance, but clenched his gauntleted fist tighter. "I don't think you understand. Whatever I killed back there, doesn't even deserve a proper address. I just saved the world from a lot of hurt. Maybe one day, you'll understand exactly what I did."
At the party, another guest rushed to the front of the group. He faced Zhanna, being of a slender but tall build with combed back jet-black hair and blue eyes. He wore a grey suit, as be began to speak: "What happened? I just remember hearing a gunshot. Is everything okay?"
Tu was horribly red in the face. She resisted the urge to hit him, but alas, failed. She landed on the ground and punched him in the chest. This hit didn't do much to him, but it certainly relieved some of her frustration. "Why can't you let us have nice things?? First you destroy our base and now you ruin this party!" Tu seemed to have forgotten that it was she who wiped out their tower. She was engulfed in rage was looking for someone to blame everything on.
Zhanna, who had given up on crowd control, sat at a table, head in her hands. She looked up at the stranger and gave him a sarcastic smile. "Everything is peachy. You want the details, go talk to them." She pointed to the twins who were dumping the last of the shattered glass into the garbage can.
Vadam quickly grabbed the arm of Tu, forcing her arm behind her back before applying obscene amounts of pressure. He knew it wouldn't exactly hurt her, but it would at least keep her under control. He listened to what she said quietly, before responding: "Nice things? You signed up to be a vigilante and expect that you would get nice things? And if you can't remember what happened that night, it wasn't me that destroyed your base. You did."
Back at the party, the grey suited man approached the twins who had just finished cleaning up the mess. He smiled as best as he could, before continuing: "Hello. I am just wondering if I can help you sort this out. I wouldn't want you to clean up this mess yourself, especially on the night you are supposed to be celebrating."
"I know...! I'm just... Annoyed... I know Kira and Klara were looking forward to this party and then you came and ruined it..! Why'd you kill that guy anyway..?" Tu didn't fight back much, but she did wiggle around a little bit before going still. She scowled down at the ground, refusing to look up.
Meanwhile, the twins listened to the man in the grey suit with smiles. For witnessing a murder, they seemed rather unfazed... Kira was the first to speak up. "Thank you for the assistance, dear, but I'm afraid the glass and the body have already been dealt with. I suppose if you'd like to help, you can try to calm the crowd. Though, I suppose half of the party has already left..." Klara was busy silently watching everybody leave. Truth be told, she dreaded this party. She was almost happy this man was killed...
Makarov remained silent for a long time, remembering what had happened to him nearly forty years ago. The surgery, the lack of anaesthetics or the failure of pain supression. They had opened him up and mechanised his interiors and his exterior. The physical scarring still affecting him today, and all of this pain for being able to wear the suit of armour he is now. Makarov muttered: "Because he betrayed RIFLE."
The man back at the party stood by, looking at the majority of the visitors leave. He shook his head, before looking back up to say: "Well then. May I offer you something to drink? Madams?"