If there was one thing that Nikolai hated more than flesh-eating zombies, it was the mystery box. No, it wasn't as though he hated the box itself, just one particular thing inside of the crude wooden crate. It was the thing that he dreaded the most in this apocalyptic world, and as Richtofen unlocked the door to the stage and went up to the box, the Russian felt heart stop for a moment. "W-Wait…maybe we should wait, you know?" Nikolai suggested, holding his MP40 close to his chest. The others turned and gave him suspicious looks.
"Why not try the box now, before the zombies come back?" Takeo suggested, rolling his eyes at the fearful Russian.
Nikolai quickly shook his head. "No, I don't want…you guys go ahead."
Dempsey's look of curiosity turned into one of concern. He went over to the Soviet and slapped him on the sounder, trying to alleviate whatever fear was plaguing his comrade. "C'mon, commie, just give it a try!"
Nikolai felt slightly comforted by the American's words, but not enough to take on the mystery box first. Richtofen, impatient with the Russian's hesitation, grew impatient and was the first to throw his money away and open the box. A childish tune rang out throughout the desolate theater as the box selected a weapon for him. In the end it was the German's lucky day, and he was gifted with an HK21. Dempsey also came out fortunate and scored one of his favorite guns, the Commando. At last Nikolai approached the cursed wooden box and tried his luck. His heart raced, and he prayed silently that he wouldn't receive the explosive monkeys. At last the tune stopped and a fine RPK was hovering before him, aglow with yellow light from the box. Immediately Nikolai let out a sigh of relief.
"Heh, this is nice gun…I like, it's pretty." He said, smiling and taking his gift from the box. Takeo, seeing the others' fortune, figured that he could get something even better.
"I shall risk my honor." The Japanese man stated as he took his turn. Nikolai watched weapons flash by in a wave of yellow aurora until finally the selection had been made. Instantly he dropped his RPK and backed away, shaking his head. The monkey bomb was before Takeo, and of course the man took it without a second thought—Takeo loved the dreaded things. Nikolai let out a sound of protest.
"N-No, do not take that junk, Takeo. Try the box again." He said, almost begging. The Japanese man, knowing just how much Nikolai hated the monkeys, smiled and held one of the wind-up toys out to him.
Richtofen let out a squeal of delight and clapped his gloved hands together. "Ahh, how wunderbar! Such a cute little monkey! Takeo, may I see it?" he held out a hand, but the other man shook his head.
"No, it is mine." Taken smiled down at the monkey bomb and petted it gently. "Such an honorable weapon."
Dempsey made a disgusted face at this, but nonetheless his spirit wasn't dampened by Nikolai's discomfort. He just stroked his Commando and said quietly, "Hoorah, time to kill some zombitches."
Luckily enough, as he said this the sound of splintering wood could be heard. Richtofen turned around quickly, his eyes darting to the nearest barrier. Several zombies stood behind it, ripping away the wood. "It seems as though my beautiful creations are back." A sadistic smile grew on his face. He raised his new gun, aimed it, and shot one of the groaning zombies between the eyes. When he saw it fall, he laughed manically and exclaimed as the blood stained his boots, "Ahhh, the blood is so erotic!"
Within the next few minutes the group was being swarmed again by hundreds of the starving undead. They ran around the stage, all yelling at one another various insults or demands. "Dempsey, someone needs to link the teleporter!" Richtofen yelled, passing by the American and deliberately pushing him near a hoard of bloodthirsty zombies. "I volunteer you!"
Takeo just quietly set his gaze on Nikolai, who was trapped in a corner of the stage desperately trying to hold his own. Seeing this made him smile evilly. He found one of his treasured monkeys and, knowing just how badly it would unhinge the Soviet, he wound it up. As the gears inside of the stuffed animal turned and squeaked, a playful tune began to play. "I love you." The monkey said. Takeo smiled and said to the creature, "Your honor is great." Then he launched the thing over to the Soviet.
Although it did draw all of the zombies away, Nikolai was unable to actually shoot any of them. As soon as the toy landed a ways away to his left, he threw down his gun and let out a yell. "The damn monkey! Somebody get it away!" seeing that nobody besides the creep Dr. Richtofen could come to his aid, Nikolai yelled as loudly as he could, "Deeeeeeemmmppppseeeey! It's the monkey! Nikolai needs help!"
The American heard this then looked over to his comrade. Seeing that the monkey bomb was distracting the zombies with its upbeat song, he didn't understand what the problem was. "Just shoot 'em, damn commie!"
Nikolai shakily took up his gun and shot off a round. This proved useless, though, because his hands were trembling too badly to actually allow him to land a shot. He fell into the corner, his eyes wide. He didn't know why the monkey bomb unnerved him so—it was just a stupid toy stuffed with clockwork and explosives. Everyone else cheered when they pulled the monkey from the box, but he'd always had nightmares about the damn thing. Maybe it was because when he, Dempsey, and Takeo had been experimented on by Richtofen, the doctor had first tested out the monkey bomb on the Soviet.
"Here, Nikolai," he'd said, presenting the Cossack with the toy. "a present for you, my Russian friend."
Nikolai had rolled his eyes at him and crossed his arms over his chest. "We are not friends, I hate you; give me vodka."
The doctor laughed at this as though it was a big joke and pushed the toy into the Russian's callused hands. "Take it. It's a present. Here, wind it up." Seeing that Nikolai would neither wind up the monkey nor look at it, Richtofen had turned the key in the monkey's back himself. Nikolai felt the stuffed animal shake as the gears in it grinded against each other. A slightly sinister voice began to speak.
"I love you…"
"What the—Richtofen, what the fuck is this? I—" before he could even finish his sentence, the monkey bomb had exploded. Nikolai was sent flying back against the wall; he'd had to spend days under the constant care of Richtofen. The doctor hadn't expected the explosion to be that strong. The fact that he'd almost killed the Russian was something that he'd never quite forgotten, which was part of the reason why he always tried to be very nice to him. In his heart Nikolai still remembered this, and he never forgave the doctor nor his insane toy of destruction. Instead he cowered like a child every time one of the monkey bombs were thrown.
As memories of that incident flooded the Cossack's mind, a scream from one of the other men could be heard. It was the German doctor. "Russian, move out of the way!"
Nikolai was too paralyzed to move. He knew that the explosion was coming, but was powerless to do anything. He remained there as the monkey bomb ended its jingle and went off. The impact of the explosion caused Nikolai to let out a sharp cry. He saw nothing but red, and as he was sent back further into the corner he felt bits of zombie flesh hitting him. The others let out yells. Takeo was the only one unconcerned with the situation. He didn't rush forward to help the Russian, just shrugged and began killing off the last few crawlers that his bomb had created.
"Stupid Russian." The Japanese warrior mumbled to himself.
Nikolai felt himself being lifted up. He heard the concerned cries of one of his comrades, but wasn't sure which one it was. "D-Dempsey?" he asked weakly. His voice was barley audible and as he spoke he felt blood trickling past his lips. As his vision cleared, he was able to make out the well-built form of the American hovering over him.
"Damn communist, I told you to run."
Was it his imagination, or did Dempsey actually seemed concerned for him? Richtofen, however, made a bigger, overly dramatic display of emotion. He pushed Dempsey to the side and cradled the Russian's head in his lap. "Oh, my poor Nikolai! How could this happen—you're dead and it's all my fault!"
"I-I'm not dead." He whispered, trying painfully to sit up. Dempsey saw this and his normal aggression returned to him.
"Outta the way, Richtofen! He's not dead!"
"Excuse me, stupid American, but I am the doctor here. I think I can tell when someone is—"
"I'm not dead, damn it!" Nikolai exclaimed in frustration, scooting out of Richtofen's lap. The doctor saw this and blushed with embarrassment at his mistake. Still, Richtofen wasn't one to admit to his errors. He threw his arms in the air and let out an insane laugh of joy.
"Ah, it's a miracle! My Nikolai has returned from the dead!"
Nikolai struggled to sit up. He rolled his eyes and wiped some of the diseased zombie flesh from his face. Dempsey sat next to him and observed the cuts and burns on his face.
"Man, you got fucked up. Why didn't you move?"
The Russian's face became full of shame as he looked down and shrugged. He wouldn't admit in front of everyone how terrified he'd been of the monkey bomb, even though they all knew it already. Instead he made up some pitiful excuse like, "I…uh…was taking break…drinking vodka."
"You sounded scared when you yelled for me, man." Dempsey prodded, nudging him carefully in an attempt to make him feel more at ease.
"I was not!" he scoffed and pushed the American away. "Nikolai fears nothing! Not death, or pain, or even fourth wife."
"What about this, Nikolai?" Takeo said. He'd finished his extermination of the zombies and had since been listening to their conversation. Now he walked up to the Cossack and held out his other monkey bomb. Nikolai flinched back and shut his eyes tightly, trying not to let his fear show.
"G-Get that fucking monkey away!" he slapped Takeo's hand roughly, making him laugh.
Richtofen saw this. Memories of long ago resurfaced in the doctor's mind…Here Nikolai, a present for you, my Russian friend…take it. It's a present. Here, wind it up… He felt guilt fill his twisted mind and knelt down beside Nikolai. For one of the few times in his life Dr. Richtofen felt honestly sorry. "I am…sorry, Russian." He then rose up and forcibly took the monkey bomb away from Takeo. "If we can't trust you to throw them away from us, then you don't need them at all."
Takeo rejected this and the two began to argue. Dempsey watched this. His eyes were full of envy as he watched the doctor. He didn't like when Richtofen touched Nikolai; clearly the Russian didn't want it, and that alone made Dempsey pissed. "Damn German, always touching you…" his voice trailed off as he ran a hand along Nikolai's cut cheek. "You're bleeding, man. If you want, the next time the zombies come I'll cover you and you can—"
"No, Nikolai can still fight." He struggled to get up, too proud to ask for assistance. Dempsey saw that he was having trouble and helped him up himself, not saying a word. Nikolai leaned heavily against Dempsey as they walked over to resolve the fight between the doctor and Japanese warrior. Nikolai, however, was fed up with this monkey bomb business. Before anyone could stop him he'd taken the monkey and thrown it on the ground. He raised a boot and brought it down hard. As the parts of the monkey flew out across the stage, everyone yelled.
"Nein! My precious monkey!" Richtofen cried, falling to his knees dramatically. Takeo just turned to the Soviet and pushed him roughly. Unable to find the strength to balance himself, Nikolai fell. Dempsey of course helped him up quickly and then glared at Takeo.
"What's your problem, Tak?!" the American demanded.
"Your stupid friend is my problem! How dare he destroy the monkey bomb?!"
"So what? We still have guns, it's not like we're defenseless!"
"That's not the point! The drunk always does something to mess things up." Takeo said hatefully.
"Don't talk about my Russian like that!" Richtofen snapped, jumping back into the action. In an instant everyone was arguing furiously with one another. Nikolai sighed. He tried to say something, but found that his voice was drowned out by the endless squabble. Before proceeding he dug a bottle of vodka out of the bag on his back and took a long sip from it. He emptied half of it before trying again, this time more forcefully.
"Shut up! Everyone just shut the fuck up!" they all quieted down, ashamed with their childish behavior. "We have job to do." He said, pointing at the wooden borders which had still not been rebuilt. The zombies would be coming again soon, and if they weren't rebuilt then their chances were slim at best. Silently they split up and began hammering the boards back into place. Nikolai was the only one excused from this; he still could barely stand on his own. He was still greatly shaken from the blast, and as Dempsey excused himself to go help the others, the Russian sat down on the stage and continued drinking. Slowly the pain in his body dulled and he closed his eyes, a slight smile on his face.
Another slightly more pleasant memory came back to him then. It was of that same time long ago when he, Dempsey, and Takeo had been slaves to Richtofen's twisted will. After the first explosion of the monkey bomb, Nikolai had been given a bed in a special room of the facility. There he would still be experimented on by Dr. Maxis, but there was a slight bit of happiness he felt thru it all. Just when he thought that it couldn't be any worse, he'd woken up in his bed one day and found a tattered stuffed monkey by his bedside. The head had been torn off and stuffing was everywhere. Under it, he'd found a roughly scrawled note.
Hey dirty commie,
We all heard about Richtofen's sick monkey bomb joke. Takeo thought it was funny, but it pisses me off. I went off at night and ripped up the doc's stuffed animal collection...he had a million more of those fucked up monkey toys. Maybe that'll make you feel better, dirty commie.
As Nikolai thought of this, he began laughing drunkenly. Maybe the monkey bombs weren't so bad after all. Of course Dempsey's prank hadn't gone unnoticed, and the American had suffered for his act, but he still said that it was worth it. Richtofen had acquired more monkeys and made more bombs, but that was okay. Dempsey had still made everything worth it.