Sunday, October 5, 2014

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

It's morning in France, but, as usual, Tempete Bleu is not there to see it.

He's up above it, instead -- high in the airless void, just a little past where all the old communications satellites used to hang. Now there is nothing but a ring of debris, left over from two tragic conflicts.

And he's sitting in a chair he's made from some of the larger, less uncomfortable bits.

When people ask him about this morning ritual of his, he says he comes here to watch the sun rise over the Earth. He says he wants to watch that light glide over Asia, and then Europe, and slowly paint France with the light of dawn. He says that it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, and that he never wants to miss such a sight, if he can help it.

That's not true, though -- not a single word of it. He sees nothing because his eyes are closed as tight as he can make them.

And his smile as wide as a little boy's on Christmas day.

* * *

"So," the balding, old man says, looking over his large, black glasses as he sips at the wine he isn't supposed to be drinking in his condition: "You were going to tell me what you have discovered."

Foudre Blanc nods, looking around the stately bedroom as he does. The morning Sun's rays are slowly transforming it into a cave of wonders, filled with pictures, objects, and mementos gathered over a long and rich life.

And crowded with gleaming and hissing medical machines, recently added to prolong it even more.

"The President is afraid of SPYGOD, Mssr, " the white knight replies, regarding the bedridden, seemingly-frail old man with the utmost respect as he does: "He knows the man is up to something. What, he cannot yet say. But he knows that the longer he has to himself, in that place, the more likely he is to either escape or turn the tables."

"I agree," the old man says, swirling the wine as he does: "I always considered him to be a formidable man, worthy of our respect. If I'd been able to get into power, I was going to have a few things to suggest, one one-eyed man to another..."

The old man stops speaking for a moment, and then looks at the hissing tanks of oxygen by his bedside, and the container in which he'll store his glass eye when his visitor leaves. He sighs, shakes his head.

"Confounded France," he growls: "One day they'll know, eh? One day, when the Beurs are making laws for the French Race? Marrying their daughters, and making ugly children the color of merde? When our churches are knocked down so they can have a mosque every half a kilometer?"

"You tried to tell them, Mssr," Foudre Blanc says, taking his free hand in his, as if to kiss it: "But it is a hard thing to see the truth. I did not see it myself, not until..."

"Until your eyes were opened through pain," the man says, squeezing his hero's hand as strongly as he can: "It is nothing to be ashamed of, Bruno. What matters is that, when you saw the truth, you acted upon it. You came to us, seeking not our help, but to help.

"And in return, we have made you our champion. Our White Knight, here to shine the light of truth upon the darkness that has infested France. And while this Terre Unifee might have the right attitude, in some ways, it does not go far enough, nor fast enough."

"It will, once I've shown them the truth, Mssr," the hero swears: "You know that. And you know that, once I am in a position to do more, I will. I swear it."

"I know, my son," the old man says, squeezing the hand once more and then withdrawing it.

"I feel so ashamed at being able to only give information."

"Ah, but you have gotten our people into the Police Nationale," the man says, indicating that the hero should pour him so more wine, which he does: "You have laid the groundwork for our slow infiltration of the Palace. You have done so much, Bruno."

"But too slowly. I want you to be there to see it."

The old man smiles: "If I am not here to see it, I will be content to know that you will, Bruno. I know you will carry out my wishes, and bring France safety though this black nightmare into the bright future it deserves. Yes?"

"Yes," Foudre Blanc says: "I will."

* * *

Ciel Rouge leaves the Police Nationale interrogation room rather slowly, her movements uncertain. Behind the door, the man she had been questioning shouts noisy Jihadi slogans in heavily accented, North-African French, but she can barely hear them for the noise in her own mind.

"Is something wrong, Madame?" the guard asks. He's a new, fresh-faced one she hasn't met before.

"Perhaps," she says, looking back at Abdullah Ismail as he glares at her, screaming horrible, hateful things.

"He's a noisy one, eh?" the guard asks: "Yeah, he gave the Nurse all kinds of problems this morning during his examination. A real piece of work if you ask me."

"Did you see it?" she asks.

"No, it was before my shift," he says: "I came in this morning at eight."

"The nurse examined him before eight?" Ciel Rouge asks, sort of surprised: "That's strange."

"Well, I don't know. I was just transferred over. Apparently two guards quit, late last night."

"Really?" she asks, smiling a little: "Welcome to the main detention block, at any rate. I hope the others are treating you well?"

"Well, yes! A lot of my friends are already here. There's been some turnover, lately."

"There has?"

"Yes, I guess things just aren't too nice down here?" he chuckles, pointing to Abdullah Ismail as he leers and screams like a man possessed.

"Did the two who quit feel that way?"

"Well, I didn't know them, madame. The others said one of them had been unhappy and grumbling a lot, but I don't know any more than that-"

He stops talking just as the prisoner gets even louder -- demanding a lawyer, a Koran, and proper medical care. 

"Thank you," she says to the guard, leaving him to deal with the man in the cell.

Saying she's confused would be putting it mildly. Last night, when she looked in on this man, she didn't believe he was sleeping the sleep of the guilty. In fact, he seemed more worried about his friends than himself, which was highly unusual. 

She'd already had words with Omar and Zaid, who were brought in at the same time, and they'd been pretty much what she'd expected. Death to France, death to the Terre Unifee, the blood of the martyrs will fill the rivers and lakes until Islam is supreme, and so on...

But this one? His mind had felt gentle to her. Kind, even. He'd been hardened somewhat by the unkindness of others, but there was compassion and concern in there. 

And now? There was nothing but a freakish echo of that man she'd watched sleep. A mean-faced, screaming cartoon was sitting in there, instead.

It would make some things a lot easier, she supposed. But something still seemed more than a little off.

Patience, woman, her Other tells her: Let the ceremony play out. There's a lot to be learned, here.

And, as the voice in her head's never led her astray before, she decides to do as it counsels.

For a while, anyway.

* * *

"We're... we're very grateful for your... your assistance, sir," the blood-spattered, Italian policeman is stammering, but Tempete Bleu doesn't seem to be listening.

He's looking off into space, some distance away, as though the most important thing in the world was hiding in that direction. 

They're in Rome, on a normally-busy street not far from the Colosseum. There was going to be a protest march, here, today -- something about the TU and its policies, done by university-age malcontents who were convinced that Italy's new government was up to no good.  

There was going to be a protest march. It's been cancelled, now -- and rather harshly at that. 

But they only had themselves to blame. 

They didn't want to get a permit to march. That was upsetting, but no big deal. It would just mean more arrests, and steeper fines for those arrested. 

And they didn't want to cooperate with the municipal authorities on a few other matters, large and small. That was also upsetting, but, again, no big deal. More fines, more arrests. 

But then someone in their number decided it would be a good idea to come armed. 

Who got the guns? No one knew. Where did they get them from? No idea on that, either. What were they going to do with them? Uncertain -- maybe fire them off, maybe fire them at people. Who can say?

But by the time the police realized that the protesters were carrying signs and guns, it was too late to call for armed reinforcements. Should the protest suddenly become a shoot-out, the police would have been badly outnumbered, and outgunned.

Thankfully, Tempete Bleu was in the area. 

He glided down to earth, right in front of them. He smiled at them, and held out his hands. The police weren't quite sure if he asked them to put their guns down, or told them to kneel down, but as soon as it became clear they weren't doing either, he moved into the crowd and...

And then Tempete Bleu dealt with them. That was what the officer was going to put in his report, anyway. It was the only way to explain why there was a giant, red ball of what used to be 50 or so university-age protestors, sitting on a usually-busy street -- leaking blood and sloppier things onto it, and attracting flies. 

(A lot of flies, come to think of it)

"I think they were being mind-controlled," Tempete Bleu finally says to the policeman, still not looking at him: "That's what it looked like, anyway. A regrettable loss of life, but I'm sure the civilian death toll would have been in the triple digits if you'd just tried to talk them down."

"Of course, sir," the policeman says, watching as he walks away.

"Tell your Commissioner we'll be in touch," the hero says, taking two quick steps and then flying away. 

And as the policeman goes to do just that, he finally realizes what's been so terrifying about all this. It wasn't how he tore those kids to pieces with his bare hands in such a swift and methodical manner. It wasn't that he mashed them together into a ball. It wasn't that he spent all that time looking away from his handiwork, either.

It was that, from the moment he strode into the group, he didn't stop smiling the whole time.

* * *

"So stop telling me what you can't do, and tell me about what you have done," the old man continues, sipping his fresh glass of wine: "What will our negro President do about this enemy he has locked up?"

"The plan is to neutralize the computer program that runs Neo York City," Foudre Blanc confides, leaning in closer as if to whisper, though that's hardly needed here: "Once that's done, they will swoop into his apartment and take him to a Court Martial."

"And convict him the moment he enters the room?"

"Well, he will have a defender, who'll have had time to consider the case. But given the charges he faces, and the facts in the case, well... it will be a foregone conclusion. If he's smart, he'll plead guilty. If not, well, it'll just take longer."

"But the issue is the neutralization of this... Nthernaut, is it?"

"Yes," Foudre Blanc says: "They tried to make a device to take over running the city, but it was not up to the task. They will need something better. And I have promised them this."

"Ah, so you will need the Maker," the old man says, nodding: "He's well-rested, these days. I think I'll have no problems convincing him of this."

"Excellent, thank you, Mssr," the hero says, smiling behind his false face: "Should I tell them a few days?"

"Make it a week," he says, having another sip of wine: "He's well-rested, but still an old man. And we old men do need our naps."

* * *

"Capitaine?" Ciel Rouge says, coming up to the meat-faced man in charge of the dungeons: "I hope I'm not interrupting anything?"

Maximillien turns to look at her, and as soon as he does she's unnerved by how widely he's smiling.

"Well hello, Madame," he grins, reaching down to kiss her hand: "And what can I do for you, today?"

"Well, I just finished interrogating your latest inmates," she says, handing him the files: "I found them to be rather forthcoming."

"Well, you do have a gift for that?" he smiles, taking a quick look at what she's written.

"I do, yes," she smiles back: "But, well... this was a little strange."

"Indeed?" he asks, putting his hands behind his back, as though addressing a superior officer: "How so?"

"Normally, I ask questions, and they can't help but answer me truly," she explains: "But today, it was like they wanted to confess everything right from the start. I didn't even have to ask any questions. They just told me everything."

"How strange," Maximillien echoes back to her, shrugging: "Well, perhaps your powers have improved?"

"I don't think so," she says, wondering why he's behaving so strangely: "Is the nurse still here, by the way?"

"Oh, Marie Corisande?" he says, smiling just a little: "Yes, I think so. She's attending to some other prisoners, somewhere else. Should I get her for you?"

"I do have some questions for her, yes," she says: "Perhaps I could meet her in her office, later? I have some things I have to do in the Palace, today."

"I will tell her to meet you," he says, leaning down to kiss her hand once more: "See you then?"

"Yes," she says: "And, Capitaine Maximillian? I hope you don't mind my saying so, but is it really ethical for you to be seeing someone under your command?"

"Oh, Marie?" he asks, smiling before he turns away: "It's not like that at all, madame. We just enjoy dinner together, now and then."

And as soon as he's away, she realizes she's having a hard time realizing if he's actually just told her the truth or not.

Alright, woman. This is disturbing, her Other states, uniquivocally.

"About time you agreed with me on that," she whispers back: "What do we do?"

We follow him.

"Agreed," she says. And then, with the swiftness of one who can be in two places at once, she does exactly that.  

(SPYGOD is listening to Supernature (Cerrone) and having a Kronenbourg 1664 Premier Cru)

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