Sunday, November 23, 2014

1/11/13 - Les Hommes de Pourpres - (Les Trois Grands) - pt 2

"MMM," the older man says, taking a happy bite of the weird, oreo-filled concoction in front of him: "Now this is what I call a pie."

"I'd sure hope so," his younger dining companion says, not looking very enthusiastic about his own: "If you thought it was a shoe I'd be worried."

"No, it's just that I got really sick of those pies they have at McDonalds, these days."

"Oh, those pieces of !@#$," the young man agrees, noticing that the Burger King's dining room is just a little less occupied than it was before: "You remember when they used to fry them?"

"I do I ever. Those were so good."

"Hot apple pies, cherry pies. Every so often they'd have something else instead of the cherry."

"Do you remember what the others were?" the older man asks, taking a last, loving bite of his dessert: "I mean, now they've got pumpkin and whatever, but I don't pay attention, really."

"Me neither. But I remember I used to get a couple hot apple pies to go, take them home, nuke 'em in the microwave for a couple seconds, and then put them on a big bowl of vanilla ice cream and call that dessert."

"Oh, that sounds really good, son. When did you do that?"

"When I was a kid," he tells the older man, not without a little bite.

"Right," the older man says, trying not to sigh: "When did they stop frying them?"

"Sometime in the 90's. All that health-conscious bull!@#$. They stopped using beef tallow for the fries and stopped frying their pies."

"That's right. The fries haven't been nearly as good since."

"No, they haven't," the younger man says, and hopes they can just be silent for a while.

* * *

"What do you mean by 'be quiet?'" Abdullah Ismail asks, looking at the very thick, ultra-official stack of documents he's been asked to sign.

"Just that, really," the well-dressed prison official says, putting his hands on either side of the sheaf and scooting them towards Abdullah, just a little bit more: "You keep your mouth shut about what's happened, and you go free, and stay free. So long as you don't do anything else, of course."

"Or talk about it."

"Well, naturally," the man says, waving a hand over the stack of paper: "You can be quiet, can't you?"

Abdullah raises an eyebrow, and then winces, rubbing his sore head with the less-painful side of a broken hand. Apparently he all but smashed them both against a wall at some point during his soon-to-be-brief captivity, here in the dungeons of the Police Nationale. But he can't remember a thing about it. 

He remembers being in his friend's darkened apartment. He remembers the horrible things he discovered there. And he remembers one of Les Trois Grands beating him unconscious.

But past that? It's all bits and pieces. A dream of a snake-faced woman who meant him harm, a lady in red who was concerned for his dreams, and a nurse who poorly tended his wounds while whispering poison into his ears. Then it's just hate -- waves of blinding, utter hate he hasn't experienced since he encountered a childhood friend who'd gone jihadi on him after graduation.

And now, this morning, he wakes up in pain and confusion, and barely has a chance to come to grips with any of it before guards come in, wash him and dress him, and gently but firmly bring him into this stark, small room (barely enough space for the desk and the chairs they're all using) and ask him to fill out... this. 

"'I was a victim of mistaken identity,'" Abdullah quotes, looking halfway down the top sheet: "'This was due to my being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I acknowledge my error, and absolve the Terre Unifee, and its agents, of all culpability in the matter.'"

"Yes," the official says: "And it goes on and on like that for several more pages, before the really dense legal things come up. But in a nutshell? We are sorry we mistook you for a terrorist. There were extenuating circumstances and we didn't have a lot of time to deal with them-"

"Obviously," Abdullah snorts: "Punch first, ask questions later."

"It happens."

"Yes, and mostly to Beurs."

"We acknowledge your pain and suffering," the official goes on, clearly not wanting to discuss that side of the issue at length: "And we are willing to recompense you for them at a fair amount. But if you discuss our ongoing security efforts, you may jeopardize a number of other operations currently in play against the real terrorists, and that would create problems."

"So I sign this merde, walk out of here... well, limp out of here, and don't tell anyone why I have a broken leg, cracked ribs, and a face that looks like a punching bag, and that's that?"

"Or you stay here, locked down, until our current security crisis is over."

"Which will be never."

"Well, I refuse to be so pessimistic," the official says, dying for a cigarette: "I fully believe that, one day, you all will realize how good you have it here, in France. I also believe that you'll come to understand that the best way to integrate is to accept the discomfort of those you're integrating into, and work harder to prove yourselves to them."

"So we can't have equality and freedom until you see us as brothers, is that it?"

"Well, look, you can't just expect everyone to get along from the start. There's always going to be this sort of thing, in any society. And protesting and being angry when we make mistakes? Well... that doesn't help."

Abdullah Ismail just looks at the man. He thinks of his friends, beaten and fingered by lazy, racist cops. He thinks of the constant racist taunts and suspicious looks from the people on the streets. He thinks of how his more pious friends can't wear hijab or prayer beads to work, and how their children can't wear them to school. 

And he thinks of the awful smile on the man in white armor as he called him a negro and beat him like a dog. 

Somehow, Abdullah gets the strength to stand up, tip the table over, and send the sheaf of papers every which way. He also maintains the strength to scream, and fight with the first two guards that come rushing into the room. And he doesn't stop struggling until someone succeeds in putting him in a choke hold -- knocking him out and down.

Down into the darkness of his broken, half-memories, in which some things are finally beginning to make sense.

* * *

"I guess we're all let down by our childhoods, eventually," the older man says: "I can remember when you could have a quarter last all day. It'd get you a movie, a couple candy bars, and bus fare. Now, they won't even get you a half an hour on a parking meter."


"Yeah. You go most places, you're lucky to get ten minutes."

"I thought you didn't have to worry about things like that, anymore."


"Well, being an official hero and all? I figured you could just park wherever, and put a little sign on the dashboard saying 'on business,' or something."

"If only," the older man says: "And you should know. Didn't you read that phone book the TU sent when it absorbed us all?"

"No. I think it's still sitting on my coffee table. My real coffee table, that is. Not the one I'm using now."

The older man nods: "How long do you think you can retain your cover with the Scarlet Factotum?"

"With the crazy red robot? Indefinitely."


"Sadly, yes. She's angry as !@#$, naive as !@#$, and so fixated on her big plan to conquer the world that she's !@#$ing missing the forest for the trees, not to mention half the continent."

"What about her allies?"

"Those morons? Well, one of them's just there for a paycheck. As soon as the !@#$ hits the fan, he's gone. The others are a leader who's better as a follower and a useful idiot who can't even die correctly. So long as they think I'm down with the program they won't stick their noses in too deeply." 

"Do you think you can rein her in a little? Keep this from getting as bloody as it could be?"

The young man looks at his father, and then slowly shakes his head: "I hate to quote movies, dad, but I'm afraid there will be blood. The good news is that, if our latest intel is correct, a lot of it's going to be supervillains killing supervillains. But no one's walking out of this with clean hands. You knew that, right?"

"I know, yeah." the older man sighs, having a sip of the coffee he got with the pie: "I just keep hoping for a miracle, you know?"

* * *

"!@#$ing stupid meatbags!" METALMAID screeches, pounding her fist into a nearby wall. It breaks around it like it was made of glass, and she just stands there, amazed at her own strength.

"Well, look, I know it looks bad," the Sound says, waving a pad up as he follows after her: "And no, I'm not happy we lost three operatives in one go. Especially not Nefartiti. She was !@#$ fine-"

The Pusher coughs into his fist, and the Sound grits his teeth and gets back on subject: "But the mission was accomplished. They uploaded the information we needed. We now know a lot more than then we did before about how their super structure works."

"Super structure," the Pusher nods: "I like that. Very catchy."

"I could care less about {quote}buzzwords{endquote} right now," METALMAID hisses: "What I care about is the fact that they probably know what we were looking for."

"Well, we can't be sure of that," the Sound says: "I mean, she was supposed to tell her meat puppet to trash the computer he was working on so no one could tell what files he accessed."

"But do we know if he did that?"

"Well, no."

"And why do we not know?" METALMAID growls, looming over the Sound as if she was about to bite his head off at the neck: "Because they had to kill that {quote}meat puppet{endquote} prematurely. We don't know what he did or didn't do. And that means that our operatives could be walking into a trap!"

"Well, yes," the Sound says, and then wisely turns himself into noise as she tries to rip him apart.

"Oh for God's sake," the Emperor of Pain sighs, coming onto the sorry scene: "Can't you not try and kill your subordinates for bringing you bad news? It's bad for morale. Even I can tell you that."

"It's okay!" the sound says, his voice strange and echoing as he loops around his homicidal boss: "I've got this..."

"Best to let her let off some steam," the Pusher says, very quickly putting an arm around the older villain and leading him out of the room before she tries to kill them, too: "That and I think it's time we talked about what we'd been talking about earlier."

"Right," the old man nods: "Especially now that her boyfriend isn't around to crawl up her nose."

"Indeed," the well-dressed man whispers, imagining a much larger dollar sign as he gets ready to make a much better deal. 

* * *

 "So, we're all good?" the younger man says as he and his dining guest leave the fast food restaurant, heading for the parking lot.

"Yes," his father says, not quite sure when to break off and head for his own vehicle: "You tell us what's going on, and I'll make sure you skate away from it all when it's over."

"All of it," the young man insists: "Because when they make their move, the TU's going to come down on them like a pile of bricks, and I don't need them messing with me, either."

"Aren't you going to come back to us, son?" the old man says, a little confused: "After all we've done with the new group. All we worked for?"

"Eventually," he replies: "But not until we're free again, dad. I can't work for the TU. Not really."

The old man sighs, and then nods: "I'll... do what I can. I just... I miss you, son."

"I know," the Violet Demon says, giving New Man an unexpected, big hug: "Just don't think badly of me. Whatever happens. Please just remember I did what I had to, okay?"

"Okay," the old man says, overwhelmed by this sudden gesture from his long-estranged son. And for a time, they just stand there, holding one another. 

And then it's over, and the young man is heading off to his car, getting in it, and driving away without looking back. 

"Did you get all that?" the old man says, looking to the empty space to his left as he heads back to his own vehicle.

"I did, yeah," a disembodied voice says, keeping in time with the older man: "Sounds like he's got it well in !@#$ing hand, if you ask me."

"I don't like this, (REDACTED). I don't like my son being in that nest of vipers."

"I do," the voice says, and New Man can almost imagine him lighting up a phantom cigarette to accompany it: "He's well !@#$ing suited for this kind of work. He's got the right !@#$ attitude for it, and if anyone tries to !@#$ with him, well, I'm more worried about them."

"But can we keep him safe?" the hero asks as he puts a hand on his car door, as if steadying himself: "Can we save him from prosecution if it all comes out? All those things he told me..."

"I heard him," the voice says: "I heard every one. And you of all people ought to know that we can !@#$ing get him out of it. Even if we have to pull a vanishing act, he'll be in the clear."

"You promise me that, SPYGOD," the old man hisses: "You make a god!@#$ promise to me right now that he walks free and clear after all this, or else..."

"I promise, (REDACTED)," the voice says, and New Man can almost imagine him putting a hand on his shoulder: "Free and clear, one way or another."

That seems to reassure the old man, and with that he nods, gets into his car, and drives away as well.

"Of course, that all depends on whether you and I can get away free and clear after all this is over," another disembodied voice adds.

"Jesus !@#$, hon," SPYGOD snorts: "You think I don't have a plan for that?"

"I know you do, lover," Straffer says: "I know you got fifty of those things. I helped you pin them up on the fridge, remember?"

"I do, yes. That was a !@#$ interesting evening."

"I'm surprised we didn't break the refrigerator."

"We did."

"We did?"

"Yes. They !@#$ing fixed it the next morning while you were still zonked out. And they just put all the magnets and sticky notes on the new one, just like they'd found them."

"All well and good. But we've got to get at least one of those plans to work."

"That's why I've got fifty, this time."

The one voice laughs: "You're horrible." 

"I am, yes. !@#$ing horrible." 

"And the repairmen didn't notice a thing, huh?"

"Nope," SPYGOD chuckles, kissing his ghostly lover in the middle of the Burger King parking lot: "How very !@#$ing French of them..."

* * *

The day recedes into night, night slowly gives way into day, and then it's another early morning in France. And in a brightly-lit city that refuses to sleep, certain inhabitants move about -- watching as important events take place.

Abdullah Ismail staggers back home to his apartment, a brutalized but free being. Apparently nothing he could do could convince them to keep him in prison longer than necessary. They didn't even try to hold him to that merde agreement they initially asked him to abide by.

Zaid and Samir were not so lucky, but something was clearly wrong with them. They spoke like monsters when Abdullah tried to reach out to them on his way out, raging in unreasoning hate and anger rather than fear or friendship. 

(Apparently, whatever had been done to him was not as powerful as what was done to them.)

But as he walks up the cracked, burned steps to his building, fumbling for the keys with a broken hand, he wonders how many eyes are watching him, right now. How many police wanting to bust him for breaking wind, much less "stirring up trouble."

Oh, they've got trouble now. All the trouble in the world, if he's got something to say about it.

And, Inshallah, that trouble will finally bring about something good. 

As he goes back into what remains of his life, he is, indeed, watched. A white knight stands on a building, nearby, looking down at him in anger. Wondering why they let him go, and told him to back off. 

Foudre Blanc is wondering a lot of things, actually.  

But one thing he doesn't have to wonder about is the most important things of all. The secret is safe. No one knows anything about what he's done, or how, or why. And in a week, once The Maker has made what they will need, and all eyes are fixed on the trial of SPYGOD, all the recent excitement will be overlooked. 

All he has to do is wait, and be calm and careful. Things he should be able to do.

And yet, he keeps going back to that horrible night, on that horrible day. The day his face was destroyed. The day he learned how little wealth and power actually meant. 

The day his lover was destroyed by human monsters, and all he could do was crawl towards her, a wreck of a man, and comfort her in her last moments on this world. 

"Destroy them," she whispered weakly as he held her: "Destroy them all."

And so he would, one way or another. He swore it then. He upholds that promise now. 

Forever and ever until the last breath leaves him, he will destroy them all. 

As he swears eternal vengeance, yet again, he is himself watched. Ciel Rouge lurks nearby, wondering if the man she arranged to have freed will give her fallen comrade a chance to hang himself before her, or else make him more reckless in his movements -- more scared. 

She knows the truth about him, now. But to gain the trust of others, she must have proof. Hopefully this man will help provide her with proof, but not even her Others can say for certain. 

All she knows is that she must act, and soon.

Meanwhile, far above the three of them, Tempete Bleu is once again up above it all. He sits upon his throne of spacejunk, overlooking the world, watching the sun rise over the Earth.

Or so he says.

He doesn't watch the sunrise while he's up here, floating above the world. He doesn't watch the stars, or the Moon, or the sled, or any comets or meteors that might be rushing on by.

He doesn't look at anything at all.

He just sits there and imagines the world as he would make it -- especially now that he knows who and what he is. The sweeping changes, the small alterations, the inevitable breaking of people, places, and things.

The bloody, blackened ruins he'll leave in his wake. 

He thinks through each and every thing from start to finish, large to small. Then he goes through them again, over and over until a crimson blueprint lies before the eye of his mind

And he smiles to think of what we would think of that world, if he gave us leave to speak our minds.

Or planned to let us live in it at all...

(SPYGOD is listening to Love in C Minor (Cerrone) and having a Melange a Trois)

Monday, November 17, 2014

1/11/13 - Les Hommes de Pourpres - (Les Trois Grands) - pt 1

It's noon in middle America, and two men are sitting down to eat lunch in a Burger King.

One man is old, or at least appears to be. He's got short, silver hair and is conservatively dressed in a blue suit, with a muted tie. He's also wearing nice, tasteful sunglasses.

The other is young, or at least appears to be. He's got long hair and a wisp of a goatee, and is wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt that has Nikola Tesla shooting Thomas Edison in the face. He also wears sunglasses, but there's something strange about them.

(Something just out of the ordinary, and purple). 

"Did we have to eat here?" the older man says to the younger one, looking down his nose at the lunchtime crowd sitting around them: "Really?"

"Hey, one thing about this place," the young man says, tapping at his sorry, greasy Big King: "No one ever listens into anyone's conversation. You could be talking about killing the old lady you got tied up in your trunk, and the worst thing that's going to happen is someone nearby will ask if you're Brad Pitt."

"That's highly unlikely to happen to me," the older man sighs, wondering if he really needed all that whopper: "But still, as far as things like this go-"

"I love bestiality," the younger man announces, just a little louder than needed: "Dogs, cats, parakeets-"

"Son," the older man hisses, looking around.

"Best time I ever had was with my neighbor's pet rabbit. I hugged him and loved him and banged him till his ears fell off, and then I called him George."

The young man smiles like a kid who just got a balloon from a clown. The older man turns white, and then red. But then, ever so slowly, he realizes that no one has so much as blinked an eye, much less looked in their direction.

"See?" the younger man says, smiling as he gets ready to take a bite of his burger: "We're cool to talk here, dad. Trust me."

And all his companion can do is sigh, nod, and join him in eating their lunch.

* * *

"This is insane," the President of the Terre Unifee says, shaking his head as he flops the paper down on his rather large -- and very empty -- desk: "Both of them?"

"Yes, sir," his secretary, Henri, says: "Last night, in fact. I'm not sure what could have possessed them to... well..."

"Kill themselves just after getting home," the President finishes for the young man: "In as messy a fashion as possible, you said?"

"Yes, sir. I understand the press is keeping certain matters out of the news for public relations purposes-"

"The Presidents of Australia and New Zealand go home and kill themselves, just after signing on with us," the President restates, getting up from behind his desk as if he's trying to achieve dramatic effect: "Is there any good PR left? Really?"

"Well, we don't know what's happened," Henri says, trying not to sigh as the President walks across the large, sunlit office to his well-used liquor cabinet for a drink: "There is a possibility this was an action by one of the last few holdouts, to send a message. Terrorism could be involved-"

"Then where's the badly-done video message claiming responsibility?" the President asks as he pours one, downs it, and then pours another: "Where's the intel we should have gotten about this threat?"

"It's... well..."

"It's not there," the President says, taking the whole bottle back to his desk along with the glass: "And it's not there because it's not there, Henri. This isn't either of those things. This is something entirely different."

"Well, sir, I don't know what it could be."

"Neither do I," the President lies, plopping down in his chair and pouring himself yet another: "Have a good speech written for me in an hour. Talk up how senseless this is, and that we're working with local authorities to get to the bottom of it. Have some answers ready for the questions I can't answer, yet, if ever."

"Yes sir," Henri says, stiffening as he gets ready to leave: "Anything else, sir?"

"Do we know where Brave Dreaming is?" he asks, almost absentmindedly. 


"The hero who came with the President of Australia. The Aborigine. Do we know where he is?"

"No sir, we don't. He went home on the same flight, but after that, well... I'm told he vanishes. A lot. Walkabout or something."

"Find him," the President insists, pointing a finger: "Do whatever you need to and find him. I want to talk to him."

"Yes sir," Henri says, and leaves, wondering what all that's about.

The President nods, as if approving of that decision. He looks at the bottle and the glass. He thinks about the empty bed he's been sleeping in, the wife who won't speak with him, and the child who can't stop crying. 

He thinks about what the man told him, just after the ceremony, and how he brushed it off as some weird thing from a weirder man. But now he knows he was told the truth, and didn't listen. 

Now he knows to be afraid of the lightning.

* * *

"You know, I remember when these places had ash trays on the counters," the older man says, tapping the table: "Little gold things, I think. They had the BK logo in them, too."

"Yeah, McDonalds had proper ones. You had to wash them out and reuse them."

"I don't remember that."

"Well, did you smoke at McDonalds?" he asks, putting his last remaining french fry in his mouth.

"No. I only went there on Sundays after church. And my wife had one rule, then, no smoking after church."

"Must have been one !@#$ of a drag."

"You have no idea."

"Yeah," the other man says, taking a bite of his sandwich: "I don't."

There's silence between them, then -- sharp as a knife.

* * *

Ciel Rouge puts her hands on the table, in the Palace's otherwise-empty dining room, and snarls like a wild dog -- her fingers splintering the table in careless rage.

She wants to scream. She wants to howl and beat things until they break. She wants to run downstairs, through the dungeons, and rip open door after door to let all the prisoners down there loose.

She wants to smash through the system, now that she knows it has been corrupted. And she wants to break a certain individual, now that she knows he is the source of that corruption. 

Or has strong reason to suspect, at any rate. The word of a dead man's soul might not be good enough for the law, but it's gospel for her -- especially as there was no way he could lie to her.

(Though, now that she knows Foudre Blanc has been lying to her all along, she's not completely sure of that, anymore.)

But she dares not make a move -- not now, at any rate. The timing is all wrong, especially with an action against SPYGOD looming. And even if it wasn't, the means of her discoveries are still highly suspect. 

And would anyone actually believe her...?

But maybe someone would. 

Maybe, in spite of how strange Tempete Bleu seems about these things, she can count on him to back her up. Maybe she can get him to look into certain matters on her behalf.

Maybe she can use his clear dislike of Foudre Blanc to aid her against him, when the time comes. 

Yes. She will do that, then. She will wait until this SPYGOD matter is settled. She will keep an eye on the white knight she now knows to be a black villain. And she will cultivate an alliance with a person that, while she doesn't entirely trust, she can at least believe will do the right thing, if prompted -- or persuaded. 

But as she makes up her mind -- and wonders what she'll tell the others about the state of the table -- she can't help but remember that someone did warn her about Foudre Blanc. He told her exactly what their white knight was up to, even if he didn't give the whole picture. And he told her this freely, expecting no reward or quarter.

And in seven days, they're going to put him on trial for his life, thanks to the technology of a man who's sold the Terre Unifee out to a disgraced fascist party, populated their National Police with its members, and had those members slip supervillains into numerous other departments.

She doesn't disbelieve that SPYGOD is guilty of the crimes he's been charged of. His cavalier treatment of the lives of millions of innocents deserves its day in court, and, if found guilty, he deserves to pay the ultimate price. Justice calls for no less. 

But yet, there was something in the way he looked at her, when he accused Foudre Blanc. A shared disgust of what he was doing, and why, and for whom. 

A call for justice, even if from a condemned man...

No. He is guilty. He will pay. That he told her of this sad truth -- a truth she did not believe, but now cannot ignore -- does not wash the blood from his hands. Even the warlords she dispatched in Africa loved their wives and children. 

Even Hitler was moved to tears by what he considered an injustice.

And yet, she hesitates to turn her back completely upon him -- still. And that confuses her.

* * *

"So I bet you want the story," the young man says, after a minute or two of very uncomfortable silence.

"You bet right," the older man says.

"Okay," the younger man says, having a sip of his fountain soda: "I'm not going to tell you everything-"

"Now wait, we agreed-"

"We agreed that I'd be your ear on the inside. I didn't agree to tell you all the details. Trust me, you do not want to know some of this !@#$."

"This isn't my first rodeo, son."

"No, and it isn't mine. But at the end of the day I do not want to get caught with my !@#$ in the door."

"Do you think it will?"

"I don't know. Do you?"

"I'll put in a good word, son. You know that."

"But will that be worth a !@#$ when it all goes down?" the young man asks: "Really?"

"Son, what are you afraid of? We cleared all this before you went in."

"Yes, I've had to do some... highly questionable things since then" the younger man admits: "I've gotten my hands really dirty, here, just to maintain cover. And if it ever gets out how much !@#$ I was involved in, the last time I dressed up and played supervillain? I am so @#$ing dead." 

"And you think we'd just hang you out to dry? You're my son, !@#$ it."

"Yeah, and SPYGOD killed Hitler. Look where that got him when it all came out."

"Well, he was stupid, son. He overextended himself-"

"He took direct action, dad. In wartime. And that's something you should understand?"

More silence, and then a long sigh and a nod from the older man: "I think you'll be okay, son."

"Right now? Maybe. But I'm not sure which way the wind will be blowing in a month or two. And the !@#$'s going to get blown onto someone. And I'd like to go home with clean pants."

* * *

"Merde,"  Foudre Blanc says as he steps through a puddle of something nasty, there on the stone steps.

"What was that?" the person he's talking to via hologram asks, his unamused face floating over the hero's wrist.

 "Nothing," he says, answering the clod he wishes he didn't have to talk to "And no, I don't know what happened."

"How can you not?" Julien demands: "You made it to Marie's apartment, didn't you?"

"I did, yes," the white knight sighs, stomping down yet another flight of the ancient, stone stairs, a sheaf of plans in one hand, and a warm, paper bag in the other.

"And did you find anything?"

"I found a sink full of what was left of our person, yes," he says: "Whoever was there before me didn't have enough time to dispose of her, properly."

"What do you mean?"

"Nique ta Mere! Do I have to draw you a picture, Julien? They killed her, and needed to get rid of her. How would you have hid the body so no one could find it?"

Julien turns a little green at that, and Bruno takes that as a minor victory.

"At any rate, I sanitized the place. I finished the clean-up job they'd started. Anything that could have pointed to the group, or me, or anything else, I disposed of. So far as anyone who looked into the matter would know, she was just a nurse, and then she disappeared."

"And how are you explaining the death of Maximillien?"

"I'm not," Foudre Blanc says, finally getting to the bottom of this ancient, underground complex, and the dripping, stone tunnel that lies between him and one of the greatest secrets he knows. 

"What do you mean-"

"I mean that, in our line of work, it's perfectly normal for a Capitaine to be taken over by someone, be programmed to violate our security, and then be blown up by his new master on the way home."

"I don't understand-"

"You don't have to," the white knight sighs: "But when I stand in front of that salope rouge, all I have to do is make certain suggestions. And since she's got a suspicious mind, she can make the connections without any help from me."

"Ah, so your plan is to say nothing, and let them imagine everything."

"Yes," Foudre Blanc says, now able to see the door at the end of the long, dark hallway. 

"What about your blue friend?" Julien says: "You know how we feel about him."

"I know," he replies, not really wanting to talk about him, right now: "But he's easily distracted by anger. All I have to do is taunt him a little and he'll leave, and then it'll just be me and her, and that'll be that."

"But do you know what he was after?" Julien demands.

"No, not yet," the hero lies: "And if you'll excuse me, I'm here."

With that, he terminates the call, and stands before the door that lies between him and The Maker

"Old man?" he says, putting his hand on the door, and feeling the locks and tumblers within it stand at attention: "We have need of your skills, once more. May I come in?"  

For a moment, nothing happens. He wonders if he's come at a bad time, or is actually being denied, for once. 

But then the mechanisms begin to whirl and click, and the door opens, revealing a brightly-lit magician's cave of strange and wonderful beauty. 

"Did you bring my Beignets?" a strong but old voice demands from deep within the light.

"Of course," the white knight replies, holding up the warm, paper bag as he reverently steps within. 

(SPYGOD is listening to The Collector (Cerrone) and having La Choulette Fraise)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

1/10/13 - Peur Bleue (Les Trois Grands) - pt 4

"Nique ta mere!" Foudre Blanc hisses as he sprints down the hallways to the exit. The phone of Nurse Marie Corisande keeps ringing, and ringing. But Nurse Corisande -- aka Madame Slithertongue -- is not picking up, even though she's supposed to be at home.

And he can't port out of this facility because of the safeguards, here.

There's no limit to how bad this could be for all involved. There's just a possibility that Corisande finally decided to flip on the arrangement with the Front Nationale, in spite of their efforts to get her out of jail. She might just have used her hold over that con Capitaine to get information on what's really going on at the Police Nationale. And maybe she's planning to sell it to a high bidder, get out of Paris, and start her life over somewhere else -- truly free at last.

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch, given her past dealings with fellow supercriminals and underworld types. She's a snake, after all. What else could they have expected?

But if it isn't the Nurse? If it's some imposter wearing her looks, and using similar powers of mind-control?

Then someone has clearly broken their operation wide open. Then someone is in possession of something that could bring that operation straight down, to say nothing of the NF, itself, and certain aspects of the Terre Unifee as well.

And that someone would have a piece of information that would make Foudre Blanc look very bad in the eyes of his two, ultra-powerful teammates in Les Trois Grands...

So he runs for the open air, knocking people down and cursing every step of the way...

* * *

The dead woman's phone is ringing and ringing. Nefartiti is grumbling and cursing, tossing every last piece of dead person in the apartment into the frothing sink with what's left of the nurse, and throwing all the Dark Alchemist's special dissolving powder she has left in along with it. 

This hasn't been the best-run job in the world. She will readily admit that, now. !@#$, she'll even tell that crazy robot they all work for that they stepped right into the !@#$, here.

But how were they supposed to know how big of a pile it really was?

All they had to do was infiltrate the Police Nationale's prison system, and get information on the super villains that the Terre Unifee was holding, around the world, so they could add the useful ones to their side when the time came. But how were they supposed to know that the super she'd been sent in to replace had been a supervillain? How were they supposed to know that the Terre Unifee didn't even know she had been one?

How were they supposed to know that there was another hand in play, here -- working the TU for its own purposes?

If things had gone according to plan, her and Husqvarna would have kept this deception going right up to the point where the big plan went down. But instead they walked right into two ongoing things that no one had any idea of. And, as soon as they realized the depth of their mistake, it was all they could do to get what they'd come for, burn their tracks, and get the !@#$ out. 

She'd convinced the Capitaine to go in and get the information, which he had done according to their admittedly-shaky, last-minute plan. She was currently getting rid of all evidence, which was not going according to that same plan, but at least going in that direction. 

Now they just had to get out of Paris without being seen, which would require Husqvarna to stand by and do nothing while she did away with the Capitaine.

Nefartiti walks over to the black box on the table. She turns the key, and the blinking red light goes solid. 

"Has it been a !@#$ing half mile, yet?" she asks Husqvarna, who's been oddly silent since their last communication.

"Yes he is," the man says: "I was just about to call you."

"Well then, this is for !@#$ing staring at my !@#$ boobs all night, you !@#$ing horse-eating yahoo," she snorts, and presses the button.

* * *

When Capitaine Maximillien DuNord was six years old, he watched with amazement while his father curb-stomped a black tourist in broad daylight. 

The man was from Mali, of all places. He'd been visiting France on his own, rented a car, and drove off into the northern countryside to see something off the map. And, just his luck, the car had broken down in their small, little town.

He spoke excellent French, but seemed a child in a man's body. Maybe that's why he didn't realize the drunken, violent men he approached for assistance were not going to aid him. Maybe that's why it took him forever to start screaming for a different kind of help when Maximillien's father and uncles grabbed him, tossed him to the ground, and kicked him for what seemed an entire hour.

And then, when the fellow seemed more red than black, his father dragged him over to the side of the street, adjusted his head just so, and killed him with one solid stomp to the back of the head. 

When the police eventually came, Maximillien could only stand helplessly by as his father was betrayed by his own brothers. He couldn't do or say much at the subsequent trial, and they wouldn't let him go to prison to visit him until he turned 18, by which point his father -- having fallen in with some disreputable types, even there -- had been killed with a makeshift weapon in the showers.

So when Maximillien got old enough to decide upon a career, he didn't choose law enforcement because he wanted to help people. He chose law enforcement so that the "right people" would be there, should someone like his father ever need help for doing the "right thing" for France and its people. And went into the Police Nationale because it was somewhere that someone with his temperament could be an asset, rather than a liability; the fact that he got to beat up negros almost every day and claim it was part of the job was just the icing on the cake.

So when his friends in the Front Nationale needed his help with their plans for the Police Nationale, he was happy to extend them every courtesy. He even went well above and beyond their needs, just to be sure that lovely, persuasive woman he'd met had everything she needed to do her job. And the fact that he got to help her with her unique and deadly methods of feeding and stress relief? A major side benefit, to be sure. 

(Who knew there was so much happiness in slavery?)

As such, any honest appraiser of Capitaine Maximillien DuNord of the Police Natonale would have to declare him a piece of human filth, barely worth the genetic material used to create his body, much less the biochemical energy needed to animate and maintain it.

Which is why it's bizarrely fitting that the scarab-like device that blows his skull apart is not only keyed to his loathsome gene structure, but also draws its explosive energy from his body's biochemistry. And he must have been a well-fed man that day, because the blast not only turns his head into a cartoon-like, atomic cloud from the jawbone up, but also takes out every window on his side of the street, and maims quite a few hapless pedestrians in the process.

"Well, !@#$," Husqvarna says, swiveling his sniper helmet's aim back to focus on the headless corpse as it stumbles a step forward, and then falls down on its con: "I had no idea those Scarabombs were so nasty, hon."

"Whatever," Nefartiti mutters: "Wheels up, Husqvarna. Burn your !@#$ and go."

"Totally," he says, re-acquiring Ciel Rouge a split-second later: "Just a moment..."

* * *

That was not a bullet, her Other says, but Ciel Rouge doesn't need that presence's say-so to know that. She'd have felt the explosion from the barrel, and heard whistle of the bullet through the air. She'd have experienced a slight sympathy as his head caved in on one side and blew out on the other. 

She'd have known it for what it was, and this was not that. Not at all. 

She teleports, quickly, to the side of his jerking, twitching body. It's a mess to say the least, and the smell nearly overcomes her equilibrium. But she commands herself to be at peace, on the inside at least, and her body obeys.

And then, before the pyramid-headed, would-be assassin on the rooftop can draw a bead on her, she teleports both herself and what's left of the Capitaine somewhere that the bastard can't see them. 

Somewhere she can have privacy for what must happen next.

* * *

At last, the well-guarded front doors to the prison facility are in sight, and with them freedom.

Foudre Blanc shouts for people to get out of his way. He screams abuse and hurls himself at them, making them come to heel. Confused guards shout and then flatten against the walls, knowing that if one of Les Trois Grands is acting this way, there must be some emergency. 

(And boy are they !@#$ing right about that.)

He leaps over the line for the body imager, making sure no one smuggles anything in or out. He powers past the front doors, running through an alarm as he does. 

And then, not three steps from those doors, he screams in anger, and then goes to electrify himself, s as to enter the maze of wires and cables that allow him to zip around the city. 

But something goes wrong, just then. He jumps up, but then falls down, right onto his well-armored chest.

"What?" he sputters, chuckling the readings on the computer on his wrist. Everything is charged and working. Why hasn't he transformed?


 * * *

"What the !@#$?" Husqvarna says, suddenly unsure of some things. 

"What?" Nefartiti asks.

"Nothing," he lies, quickly shrugging the sniper helmet from his head and shoulders, ducking down to get out of them, and allowing them to clatter to the roof: "Meet you at the rendezvous point. Out."

He looks down at the sadly-unused weapon, and says its self-destruct code ("Bring me cheese, love slave") at which point it begins to smoke, sputter, and turn to metallic sludge. 

"Nice," he says, admiring Doctor Playgood's handiwork. All he has to do now is get down the same service elevator he came up, get into the special car that's waiting in the garage -- the one with holographic screens for windows, to disguise its real driver and passengers -- and get the !@#$ to their air transport, just south of town.

And if he can do it without having to kill anyone, all the better.

He's about to turn around and do just that, but then someone's right in front of him. Someone dressed in a blue uniform, with red and blonde hair, and a very strange smile on his face.

(Made stranger by the fact that his eyes are closed.)

"Well, how about that?" Husqvarna says, looking at Tempete Bleu: "Figures you'd show up just after I melted my !@#$ gun."

The French hero doesn't say anything in response. He just stands there and smiles.

"Oh, the silent type, huh?" Husqvarna says, roaring up his chainsaw-hands and getting ready to throw down: "Well, let's see if I can't make you !@#$ing scream, you piece of !@#$. Been sneaking around too !@#$ much on this job."

Still nothing, except the smile's gotten a little wider.

"What, too scared to look?" the assassin taunts.

"I don't need eyes to see, anymore," Tempete Bleu says, his voice strange and echoing: "Let me show you."

He does.

Husqvarna screams. 

* * *
"Yes, we're about to !@#$ing head out," Nefartiti says into her communicator as she heads for the now-completely-sanitized apartment's front door: "He's meeting me on the !@#$ street, and we'll rendezvous at the agreed point."

"Good," the voice on the other end says: "I gotta tell you, though, this isn't going to look good-"

"Can it, Buzzard," she mutters: "This whole operation's gone !@#$s up into a sea of merde due to bad intelligence, and if you think I'm taking the !@#$ing fall for that, you've got your beak up your brainstem. Now fire up the !@#$ing engines and get ready to-"

A massive thunderclap interrupts her rant. It shakes the entire building, and makes car alarms go off all over the place.

And somehow, Nefartiti just knows something has gone wrong.

"What was that, lady?" the Buzzard asks.

"Never mind," she hisses: "I'm going dark. Don't take off 'til I !@#$ing get there, or I swear I will cram so much natron up your !@#$ you'll !@#$ dust for the next two thousand years."

And then she's out of the apartment, down the hall, and running for the elevator like the devil himself was after her.

* * *

Ciel Rouge appears in a small doctor's office, not far from the explosion. Nurses and patients scream, but she ignores them, and all but runs into an examination room.

"Get out!" she shouts at the doctor and patient in the room, just about to undergo a prostate exam. The two men stammer and shout, but then, seeing who it is -- and what she's carrying -- begin to be sick, grab their clothes, and run out.

She lays the headless body down upon the table, then. She puts his cold, dead hands over his long-stopped heart. Then she puts her hands over his, takes a deep breath, and stares at the empty space on the table, right where the head should be. 

Maximillien Emanuel DuNord, you have died, she lets the Other speak through her: I see you remain around your body, though you no longer belong to it. I see you should be gone, but yet here you are. I name you in-between, and I command you to speak.

In her mind's eyes, she sees that the space is no longer empty. A ghostly image of his head floats there, now -- his eyes wide and scared.  

What's happened to me? he whimpers, clearly terrified. 

You died, mortal man. We have already said this. 

I... I can't be dead. No... 

Be brave, mortal man. You have only left one hut for another. 

But... I had so much to do... so many more things... 

You should have done them while you could, mortal man. Now stop your crying. It will not do to have your new friends see you come unto them a weeping shell of a man.  

I can't see them... 

You are in-between. I can send you where you need to go. 

You... you can? the ghost says, suddenly hopeful. 

Such is my power, mortal man, for I am the one who dances between the worlds. I can send you to your Heaven, I can cast you to your Hell. I can even place you up above the gods, should you prove yourself worthy of it.

But I have some questions, first. And you had better be able to answer them...

* * *

A bright bolt of lightning all but explodes from the wall socket of the nurse's apartment. It hovers in space for a second, and then turns into a human form. Foudre Blanc stands there, looking extremely upset.

And with good reason.

Apparently, they'd upgraded the security at the place, last weekend. The zone that kept people like him from coming in or out had been increased some distance past the front, too. And had anyone told him? Well, of course not. 

But he'd deal with their !@#$ing incompetence later -- right now he has a job to do. And he'd better do it quick, because he can feel Tempete Bleu, nearby.

And he can tell that something's seriously off with the man, today.

 * * *

"So that's what all that was about," the blue-clad hero states, looking off into the distance as what's left of the idiot with chainsaws for hands burns at his feet. 

(The chainsaws are strangely intact, even after all of that.)

From here, he can see the woman he came here with running down the street. He can almost sense her desperation, and her fear. 

If he doesn't do anything, she'll probably steal a car, and then go meet up with the third member of their party. He can hear a peculiar set of jet engines, out there, south of the city proper -- sitting in an abandoned field, hidden from view. 

Not from him, though. 

He doesn't even have to wave a hand, now. He simply wills it, and the lightning comes -- sharp and jagged, and with a force that can topple towers, and burn cities. 

It's enough to turn the hidden plane (shaped like a Buzzard, of all things) into scrap metal, to say nothing of its poorly-attired pilot. 

As for her, he'll just follow, ever so slowly, watching her every illegal move along the way. And he'll do so from far above -- savoring the moment when she finally gets to her destination, and sees what's happened. 

Only then will he appear to her, however briefly before the end.

And he will show her such wonderful things before it happens...

(SPYGOD is listening to Ripe with Decay (Nine Inch Nails) and having an Electrostatic Ale)

Monday, October 27, 2014

1/10/13 - Peur Bleue (Les Trois Grands) - pt 3

Paris, France
October 18th, 2005

"Mon Dieu," Bruno Roquer is quietly begging as he crawls on his hands and knees, trying to get away from the burning wreckage of his car.

His handsome face is slashed by broken glass, and burned from where the petrol bomb went off. He can barely see for all the blood in his eyes, and can hardly hear after the explosion that nearly tore him apart.

But he's moving, at least. That's a good thing. His parents always taught him that if he could move, he could do anything.

And maybe he can still save his fiancee, Sabine...

This had been stupid and ill-considered. He knew that, now. He shouldn't have insisted on going out to their favorite restaurant, on the outskirts of the city. Yes, they had reservations that took months to get, and, yes, it was her birthday. But they still should have stayed inside, during this time of unrest and violence.

They should have been sensible, and waited out the storm.

But it was her birthday, and he insisted. His car was faster than any mob, surely. They'd just slip through the crowds at high speeds and run around the mobs as they set fire to the world. They'd be out of the conflagration before they knew it, and sipping aperitifs above it all, watching Paris burn.

Just the two of them, up on high while the world came down around them.

She'd said it wasn't a good idea, but he hadn't listened. He never did. He always told her what he wanted, and she gave it to him, one way or another. She claimed she liked that in a man, but there were times he wondered if she was really happy.

Would he ever know, now? The mob that had abducted her at gunpoint, and then tossed the flaming bottle into his passenger seat, seemed intent on terrible actions with her. 

But he cannot think of that, now. He can only move forward, one inch at a time, and hope he's not too late-

The explosion propels him forward, maybe twenty feet or so. In its wake he's left deaf, dumb, and blind -- drowned in a black and silent sea. 

When he comes to, some time later, he can see the car burning behind him, though he can't feel the heat. The city burning around him, though he can't hear it scream. 

He crawls on his hands and knees, no longer able to feel the pain that wrapped him up when his world exploded into fire.

And with each inch -- each thick, dragging, painless inch -- he comes closer and closer to the woman lying in the street... 

Foudre Blanc exits the city's electrical system just then, and reforms in the middle of a thankfully-deserted cul-de-sac.

He wants to scream, but he cannot, because the only sound that can leave his lips is a pathetic whine. So he raises his fists to the sky, grits his teeth, and then sinks to his knees, shaking with rage.

There's a rational explanation for this, he knows. Turning himself into a bolt of electrical fire plays havoc with his memories, and causes some of them to replay before his eyes. He's seen millions of old memories while traveling through those wires -- things long-forgotten, or else only half-remembered, suddenly accessible as though he'd put them through a film projector in his mind.

But for some reason, almost every memory he's been witness to has been bad. The time he broke his arm at age seven. The time his cat was run over by a car. The first breakup with a serious girlfriend. The day his parents died.

And Sabine...

It's this city, he thinks -- this painted putain they call Paris, that attracts human filth and scandalous behavior like flies to merde. She's hated him since he took up arms to tame her racial and religious imbalances, all those years ago. And when he and those like him stand up and say "no more," she finds some way to hobble them, just so she can keep wallowing in excess. 

"You'll be tamed, you whore," he hisses, grabbing hold of the street and crackling the asphalt with electrical fingers: "We'll make you behave, even if we have to burn you to the ground, street by street, and start all over again..."

She doesn't have anything to say about that. She never does -- not directly, anyway. But he's sure that, as soon as he regains his strength and goes back into her wires, she'll find some other, truly awful memory to dangle before him.

It's just her way of letting him know that, while he might call Paris his city, the salope is going to fight him every step of the way.
* * *

Che diavolo...

When Tempete Bleu comes to, there's nothing but blackness and fire all around him. The sounds are strangely muffled, as though he were hearing them through miles of water. And while he can feel the ground below him, as he crawls forward in confusion, his senses are dulled and uncertain.

Stai bene?

Slowly the murky disconnection resolves itself. Now he sees columns of smoke so thick they almost look solid, as though he'd entered some stygian cathedral. Rubble is strewn everywhere, the world is cracked and crumbling around him, and the heat makes rippling waves in the air.

Che cazzo è successo?

A silver angel approaches through the haze and the heat, waving a hand in greeting. For a second, the hero wonders if he's died and gone somewhere else. 

Altrimenti è qualcuno vivo?

But then the angel comes closer, and he can see it has airtanks and a helmet, and the hero realizes he's still in Rome. 

Mi puoi dire che cosa è successo?

It's just a firefighter in a bomb squad suit.

Era una bomba?

And all of his questions are !@#$ing stupid. 

"(Sir, are you hurt?)" the man asks, walking carefully through what's left of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo: "(Do you need assistance?)"

"I'm fine," Tempete Bleu says, not fully turning around to regard him: "Never better, in fact."

"Oh, well..." the firefighter stammers, as his French is a little rusty: "What has happened?"

"Something exploded," the hero answers tersely, looking around the flattened building. Nothing remains but rubble, now -- centuries of prayer and song wiped away in a second.

"Was it a bomb? A villain?"

"A villain..." the hero muses, looking around for any trace of the man he came here to meet. There is none. 

There wouldn't be.

"Who was it?" the firefighter asks.

As if to answer, Tempete Bleu rises up from the ground, and floats a full foot above it. Then he turns around, ever so slowly, so as to look the firefighter in the face.

The scream that man gives just before he dies is the best thing the hero's heard in years.

* * *

"Jesus !@#$ing Christ," Husqvarna mutters as he stands at the edge of a tall, windy building, staring down the scope of his sniper helmet at the meat-faced target he's been tracking for a few blocks, now.

The helmet's a weird sort of thing: an elongated, high-tech facemask with a sniper rifle on one side, a targeting mechanism on the other, a tripod under his chin to steady his aim, and a neck-brace to make sure he doesn't break his neck when he fires it.

It's not the sort of thing he'd recommend to anyone, even if it is accurate as !@#$. But when both your hands have been replaced by massive, deadly chainsaws, you have to learn to adjust.

Point of interest: when Husqvarna lost his hands in a horrible logging accident, he didn't cry or whine about it at any point during the whole ordeal. In fact, he was secretly glad, because he understood that this gruesome occurrence -- and all the bull!@#$ that happened afterwards -- was not a tragedy. This was an origin story, and one that had been waiting for him his whole life.

(That didn't stop him from using his new, ill-gotten chainsaw-hands on his safety-adverse lumber baron boss his first day as a legitimate supervillain, though. The !@#$ing cheapskate had it coming.)

But, special destiny or no, it was quite the thing to go through life with chainsaws for hands. Anytime he had to step outside of his relatively-narrow special skill-set, he needed to have accommodations made. So he had a car he could steer with his shoulders, waiting back at home. The doors in his lair were motion sensitive, and there was voice activated !@#$ all over the place. He'd even hired a few live-in ladies to come in and deal with his hygiene issues, because nothing is worse than having to go when you can't deal with it properly.

(Oddly enough, that's how he'd met his girlfriend.)

And since he had been teamed up with Nefartiti for this job, and he'd drawn the role of "quiet problem remover," he'd been given the sniper helmet, which was pretty darn cool. It sort of reminded him of the guys from the Spy vs. Spy comics he read as a kid. But then it also sort of reminded him of that one freaky pyramid-headed monster from Silent Hill, only with a massive gun attached.

He looked at the capitaine, marching back home to what he thought would be an afternoon abattoir blowjob. He looked at Ciel Rouge, who was following him closely, and slowly but surely catching up to him. Back and forth, forth and back.

Nefartiti said she could deal with the guy, herself -- just let her know when he got a half mile away. And he trusted her to know what she was going, as she'd carried her end of the bargain thus far. But that left him wondering what he should do, instead.

And that made him wonder if maybe he could kill a flock of birds with one stone, and maybe put that red !@#$ out of his fellow criminals' problem zone once and for all.

"One bullet can change the world," he mused, changing his helmet's targeting program, and aiming the sniper rifle at the teleporting woman, instead.

* * *

"La Vache! What do you mean the Capitaine isn't here, today?"

"Well, just that, Msr," Pierre says, shrinking into his desk as Foudre Blanc towers over him: "He was here for a time, this morning, but then he left. I think he was a bit off from the night before-"

"A bit off?" the white knight asks, incredulous: "That man can hold anything you put down his throat."

"Well, I'm sure I wouldn't know about that, Msr."

"No, you wouldn't," he sighs, shaking his head. He really needed to talk to Maximillien, right now.

"Well, you're not the only one who's been looking for him, today."

"I haven't?" he asks, intrigued: "Who else was interested?"

"Well, I probably shouldn't say anything-"

"No, Pierre," the hero insists, leaning over the desk so much that the front of his helmet is almost in the man's face: "You should."

"Well, Ciel Rouge... she was, um, convinced that she saw him in the records room, earlier today," Pierre stammers: "But I told her that he'd left."

"Even though she saw him with her own eyes?"

"Well, yes. He'd used his passkey to get out, you see."


"Well, yes. And then she asked if he'd used his passkey to get in there, but I said that no, he hadn't."

"Really?" Foudre Blanc asks, wondering why that salope was so interested in his comings and goings.

"Well, yes. She was also asking after Nurse Marie, but I told her she came in early, too, and then left-"

The white-clad hero holds up a hand to shut him up: "Pierre, you can see what everyone does from this office by seeing when and where they use their passkeys, correct?"

"Yes, I can-"

"So could you show me those records, Pierre?"

"I'm not really supposed to," Pierre starts to say, but before he can finish it Foudre Blanc's on his side of the desk, and moving the monitor around so they can both see.

"Capitane Maximillien DuNord, please," he demands, pointing to the screen. Pierre sighs, takes a deep breath, and calls them up, also pointing to the screen.

"You see, Msr?" he says, moving his finger down the line: "He came in this morning, at six. He was here for a few hours, and then he left around nine or so. Between those two times, he was in the new prisoner intake almost the entire time-"

"Is that what you see, there?" Foudre Blanc asks.

"Well, yes, Msr. What do you see? I know you don't normally know what to look for-"

"I know enough to know that says Records Room, from 9:30 until 10:15," the hero insists, tapping the screen in the relevant places: "It also says he accessed the prisoner database the entire time. And it has him leaving the building at 10:19, and not nine or so, as you said."

"But..." Pierre says, looking at the screen: "That's not what it says..."

"Pierre, did you have any other visitors, today?" Foudre Blanc asks, realizing this could mean something very bad, especially for him and his people.


"Did the Nurse come to see you, this morning?" he asks, putting his hands on the man's shoulders and looking deep into his eyes: "Were you visited by her?"

"No..." the man says, but there's something uncertain in his eyes.

"Merde," he sighs, and looks Pierre in the eyes again: "Pierre, this is important. 'Une France pure dureront pour toujours.'"

"What?" Pierre asks, confused.

"Oh no," Foudre Blanc says, uncertain of what's happened here. Clearly this man's mind has been messed with, but the trigger phrase Madame Slithertongue agreed to use if she had to work on their own people was not erasing the programing. So either the Nurse wasn't doing what she was supposed to do, anymore, or that wasn't their nurse that came in, this morning.  

And if that wasn't their nurse, then something was seriously wrong. 

"I'm... I think I can remember something," Pierre mumbled, his eyes darting all over the place: "What on Earth... mon dieu, what did I do?"

Foudre Blanc sighs, and, tapping the man on the forehead, kills him with a massive bolt of electricity to the brains. He then does something similar to the computer, making certain anyone who didn't know better would think a freak electrical accident killed this man. 

And then, on his way out of the room, he starts calling their Nurse at home, praying there's an easy explanation for all of this merde. 

* * *

Saint Paul Trois Chateaux looks much the same as Tempete Bleu remembers. Red roofed, white buildings, all smashed in with each other along twisting, old roads that have too many cars. Friendly people and the noisy tourists they have to put up with.

(Stray animals running in fear as he looks at them, even from up here.)

But something is different, now. He can't quite put his finger on what, but as he floats above the center of town, looking down at the streets of his childhood, something seems amiss.

Ah, there. In the thick forests south of town, close to where he used to play as a child. Something is calling to him, there.

Something that has a voice he can no longer ignore.

As he moves in that direction, he thinks he remembers what really happened to him, as a child. So much of it was so jumbled, all those years. Had he been taken into a cave by tall men in robes, or pulled into the sky by swirling aliens? Did he pull the bus from the river with a wave of his hand, or push it there?

Did he save his school or destroy it?

The answers are coming to him, now. And as he gets just past the farmer's field he used to squish insects in, before he became something more than human, he now realizes why he went there to do it.

That voice was nearby, calling him with words he couldn't quite hear, yet. Singing a tune he could only just sense on the periphery of his senses.

Calling him home, but only when he was ready.

And as he approaches the forest, he's not surprised at who he finds standing there, waiting for him.

"Welcome, Armilus," it says, holding what may be hands up to greet its long-lost son.

* * *

You know someone's about to shoot at you, woman?

"I do, yes," Ciel Rouge says as she teleports again, making sure she's just out of the Capitaine's range of hearing.

You think you can dance out of that one?

"Why not? We've handled worse."

Only when we've needed you to.

"True," she admits, wondering if her Other is trying to set up yet another painful object lesson, just to show her who's really in charge.

The ridiculous-looking man with chainsaws for hands and a gun for a helmet has been following the two of them for some time, now. At first, the gun was trained on her target, but now it's on her. There could be a number of reasons for him to do this, but she won't get any answers if he's dead.

And she really won't get any answers unless she sees what he's actually going to do, next.

If he had fired at the Capitaine, she was going to put herself between him and the bullet, knock the Capitaine down and out, and then go deal with that fool. But now, she runs the risk of her quarry getting away while she deals with the would-be assassin. But she figures she can teleport him somewhere safe, knock him out, and then go corner the man on the rooftop before he can get away.

She doesn't like teleporting that many times in quick succession -- especially after having been porting from spot to spot this entire way -- but she figures it'll work.

So she keeps going, feeling the nasty sensation of having a weapon aimed at her, and hoping to resolve this matter before too long.

The truth will be hers soon. She just has to wait for it, and hope it costs as few lives as possible.

(SPYGOD is listening to The Mark Has Been Made (Nine Inch Nails) and having a Pont du Diable Malbec)