Sunday, October 12, 2014

1/10/13 - Peur Bleue (Les Trois Grands) - pt 2

"So have you found out any more about your other two?" the old man quickly asks, as he's getting rather tired by the conversation: "The red woman and the blue man?"

Foudre Blanc sighs, as he'd been dreading this question: "I know that the armor still keeps that salope from reading me as she does others. She let something slip about dancing her way to a solution, last night at dinner, when we discussed this problem, but I don't think that's significant."

"Don't be too certain," the old man says: "We know she's from Mayotte. All that negro influence? Perhaps it's where she gets her powers from. This could be useful."


"And the blue man?"

"Still nothing," he admits: "But I'm succeeding in getting her to wonder as well. And if anyone will figure out what it's all about, she will."

"And when she does, she'll go straight to you," the old man smiles: "You see? I told you it was a good thing to make her think she can love you. You can toss all the francs in the world in front of some putain, and she'll follow you as far as the money goes. But you get a woman to think she loves you? You can get her to follow you anywhere."

"I know," Foudre Blanc replies, more than a little unnerved by the old man's smile "You were right. Thank you for that."

"Thank you, Bruno," he says, sipping some more wine: "And please tell Julien I need my feet warmed when you leave, will you?"

"Are they numb?" the hero says, starting to get to his feet (as he's taken the old man's hint).

"No, just cold," the old man sighs: "I suppose it's a good thing I can still feel them, yes?"

"Of course. I just don't like to think of you being uncomfortable."

"Bah," the old man says, laughing a little: "That's all old age is, my son. One new infirmity after another. You get used to some, you never get over others. And one day the final infirmity will come for you, and that will be all."

"I suppose," Foudre Blanc says, gesturing towards his suit: "It's just that... well, they gave me this. They should have given you something, too."

"What, should I be out on the rooftops, keeping the beurs in line?' he laughs: "No. My body was not strong enough for that sort of thing. It's enough that they can keep me alive, in spite of what's happened. And while I would have liked to have finished my days in power, well, sometimes you do not get to get what you want.

"Still, I regret nothing," he says, gesturing around the room with his wine glass: "Things happen as they have, and perhaps for a reason. If I could only be the one to pave the way, then all this? All this will not have been for nothing."

"You are right," the hero says: "Good day to you, Jean-Marie."

"Good day to you, my son," the old man says, respectfully looking him in the face as he heads from his bedside, across the room, and towards the door. With each step, the frail old man seems to get smaller and smaller, until he seems hundreds of miles away.

And as Foudre Blanc gently and quietly closes the door, the old man seems further away still. 

* * *

Tempete Bleu looks down over the center of Rome as he hangs in space above it, thinking of ants and shoes.

When he was a small child, living in Saint Paul Trois Chateaux, one of his favorite things to do was to run through the fields and imagine how many bugs he was smashing with each step. In fact, he looked forward to a new year at school with a joy usually reserved for birthdays, as it would mean he'd get a new pair of shoes to use in his eternal war with such pests. 

How many afternoons had he spent crushing insects in that fashion? How many boiling anthills had he stomped flat, again and again? How many stick insects and praying mantises had he left broken and twitching? How many delicate spiders had he brought down within their bejeweled webs?

But then, that was before things changed for him. Now, if he ran through the same fields, he'd leave mighty, foot-shaped divots behind him as he went. He'd leave burning bushes and cracks in the mantle.

He'd break the Earth apart, just for the sake of a dead, chitinous thing that he could simply swat flat with a wave of his hand.

No. He had to be careful, now -- more cautious. He couldn't allow his enthusiasm to run away with him, as though he were a child of eight, once more. Things broke too easily, now.

And if he broke them at the wrong times, too many questions were asked...


Again. He hears it again. That same sound he'd heard down below, when he'd dealt with those stupid meatbags, earlier in the day, before going off to deal with some more pressing issues. And he'd done them all rather quickly, just so he could fly back here and check into what he'd heard.

That extraordinary, yet familiar sound...

"I can hear you down there," he says, narrowing his eyes to bet a better look at its source: "Where are you?"

As if to answer, the same noise is made again. This time it's louder and longer -- easier to track. And that allows him to realize that it's coming from some church, on the north side of the Piazza del Popolo.

There's something inside of it, waiting for him -- someone, possibly. A person he hasn't spoken to nor seen in years.

Tempete Bleu smiles, and then flies down to meet his mentor.

* * *

Ciel Rouge spends the rest of the morning staying just a few steps behind Capitane Maximillien DuNord, who spends that time alternating between the records room and new prisoner intake. The latter is where he should be for most of the time, of course, but whereas the rest of the time should be spent checking up on hallway patrols, incident reports, and things of that nature, he's in that room, instead.

And, from the sounds of things, up to his elbows in the sort of protected files that can only be accessed from there.

She isn't able to see exactly what he's doing in there, of course. If she ported in and out he'd know she was onto his being up to something suspicious. And, given that he actually lied to her, that morning -- and she is certain of that, now -- she's not sure she'd get an honest answer, even if she caught him in the middle of something.

Better to wait, then, she figures. She'll keep an eye on him, see what he's up to, and when he has his rendezvous with the nurse...

Come to think of it, she hasn't seen her all day, either. She would have thought she'd have come across her at some point, surely.

She ports herself a little further away from the records room, to a position where she can still keep an eye on the door, and calls into the records office.

"Pierre?" she asks: "This is Ciel Rouge. I have a question about our nurse."

"Oh, Marie Corisande?" the affable fellow on the other end asks: "What did you need to know?"

"I hear she came in rather early, today?"

"She did indeed. Something about being thorough, she said."

"Well, that's good. I needed to speak with her about something. Do you know when she'll be in her office?"

"Oh! Well, she has gone home early, today."

"She has?" Ciel Rouge says: "I thought the Capitaine was going to arrange a meeting for us this afternoon?"

"Oh, well he's gone home as well," Pierre says: "I think they might have tied one on together, last night, and both been the worse for it this morning?"

The man laughs, but Ciel Rouge doesn't find that even the least bit funny -- especially when, just a few seconds later, the man who isn't there comes out of the records office, adjusts his uniform, and walks down another hallway.

"So he isn't here?"

"No, Madame. He is not."

"And he didn't just use his passkey at the records room?"

"No, Madame. How could he?"

"Could you double-check that, please?" she asks, smiling: "I know those records are available to you, even if they're not supposed to be...?"

There's a moment of silence, and then some stammering, and then Pierre gets back to her: "No, Madame. There's no record of it at all."

"Thank you," she says, a little shaken as she hangs up. She can't tell if he was lying to her, either, or simply misinformed.

Some powerful dancing is going on, here, woman, her Other says: Only a strong foot could stand against our ways. 

"Someone like us?" she asks: "Is that even possible?" 

Got to dance longer before we find out, is the only reply that presence can give. And she gets the sense it's more than a little uneasy, too.

"We keep following him, then," she says, porting along to keep him in sight. 

* * *

"So how is the old man, today?" Julien asks as Foudre Blanc comes down the stairs, into the main room where all of the nondescript man's allies and underlings are busy -- making phonecalls, printing pamphlets, and cutting deals with the sort of people one might think a superhero should be arresting, and not observing from across the room.

"Mssr. LePen's spirits are high, but his feet are cold, Julien," the hero says, wondering where he's seen some of those people before, in or out of costume: "You'll deal with that?"

"I will have it dealt with, yes," he gestures to a rather pretty young woman, who's dressed as a stripper's conception of a nurse. As she ascends the stairs, they can both see she's forgotten her underwear under her skimpy, white and blue striped skirt.

"So was it really his feet that were cold, I wonder?" Julien chuckles, watching her walk up until she's past the bend at the end.

"I'll be sending over some plans for the Maker, later today," the hero says, finding this conversation as distasteful as he finds the man he's having it with: "It's to be given his full attention."

"Well, we have that freak of nature doing a few other things-"

"Cancel them," Foudre Blanc insists -- so loudly that all other conversations in the room stop: "This is of primary importance."

"Well, I'll be sure to do that, then," the man sighs.

"Good," the hero says: "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have better people to consort with."

"You know, you could be a little more grateful to us," the man says, trying to regain some of his dignity before the people he's supposed to be in charge of: "The Front Nationale has done you quite the service."

"You have, yes," Foudre Blanc says: "And, in return, I'm trying to do you a service by keeping you on task, and seeing to your success. All I ask from you is that you do what you're told when I'm here. The rest of the time you can pretend you're in charge of this... mess."

Julien opens his mouth to say something, but before he can the hero's turned himself into a pillar of lightning, shot himself into a specially-modified electrical outlet, and then gone back into the city's web of current.

"Merde," he mutters, adjusting his tie and looking back at the room, at which point everyone who'd been looking at him goes back to doing whatever they'd been doing before he can shout at them. 

* * *

"What do you mean he's being followed?" a young, black-haired woman in a tyvek suit shouts into a cell phone, resisting the urge to look out the kitchen window.

"Just that," the man on the other end says: "He's had a tail since he left the place."

"Who is it?" she asks, stepping over the visqueen on the floor -- and the severed limbs it holds -- to get to the bubbling, red and green mess in the kitchen sink.

"It's one of the heavy hitters. The red !@#$. Red Sky."

"Oh !@#$," she says, feeling her stomach flip in her gut as she dumps some more smoking, white powder into the froth that used to be Madame Slithertongue: "That means she's on to us."

"Or on to him, at any rate," he says: "He's just striding home like he's trying to get his !@#$ sucked for lunch. And she's teleporting after him like she's got all the time in the world."

"Did he upload the records we needed?"

"Let me check..."

"Come on, Husqvarna," she mutters, wondering how fast she can turn the human remains she'd found (and made, admittedly) into slop down the sink.

"Yes, we got it," he says, a massive amount of relief in his voice: "It's all here."

"Did he trash the node he worked from?"

"I don't know that. He's the only one who does."

"And he's leading her here," Nefartiti sighs: "I can't sanitize the place that soon. That snake-faced !@#$ I impersonated is taking too long to go down the pipes-"

"I can take him out right now," the super villain interrupts: "I can put one in his !@#$ left temple and turn everything over the nose to sausage. Give me the word..."

"And tell them we don't know if he got out clean?" she shouts: "You realize we'll be shot, too?"

"Maybe, maybe not, hon. But you want to !@#$ing go a round with Ciel Rouge, instead, be my guest."

Nefartiti sighs, realizing this is going to be a mess, no matter what.

"Do I do it?" the assassin asks: "Last chance."

"No," she says, looking over at a small black box on the table -- one with a button, a small key, and a blinking red light: "Call me when he gets half a mile away. I'll do it."

* * *

"Everyone, please, we must go," the silly little man in the black priest's robes says to the tourists who'd been in the Basilica, just a minute before. They're not happy, clearly, but the look of sheer horror on the Priest's face after talking with Tempete Bleu leaves little doubt in their mind that something serious is afoot.

Something about how he's floating above the ground, in the center of the church, makes it seem as though the world's about to end.

As soon as the last person is gone from the place, the blue-clad hero waves a hand, and a mighty wind rushes towards the huge and heavy front doors of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo -- making them slam shut. The sound ripples across the high ceiling and echoes from the side chambers, and the tombs within them.

And now he is alone, but yet not.

"I wondered how long it would take you to get here," a portentous voice says, coming from a particularly creepy tomb, between a half-column and a wooden booth.

"I heard you, earlier," Tempete Bleu says, looking at the unassuming, effeminate figure, lounging by the wooden booth. A pale-skinned, dark-haired man with poisonously-green eyes, dressed in a form-fitting black suit.

And not wearing any shoes.

"You were meant to," the man says, smiling: "And I knew you'd remember, in time."

"Those protestors?" the hero asks, floating down to put his own, clad feet on the floor: "The fools with the guns I had to deal with. They were yours?"

"It was the only way I could be here," the man says, raising his palms up in a mock apology: "You know the rules. 'Blood for blood, flesh for flesh.'"

"Do I?" he asks, not certain.

"How much do you remember?" the man says, beckoning Tempete Bleu closer: "The time before Le Trois Grands. Before Direction Noir?"

"I remember... power," the hero says, looking at the man's face as he approaches the tomb he stands beside: "I remember meeting you. I remember you talking me through it, but..."

"Is that all?" the man asks, seemingly disappointed: "Do you remember what really happened to you as a child?. What we spoke of? What you did?"

The hero shakes his head, as if trying to shake out the memories from his brain. So many conflicting things. So many parallel stories and incompatible lies.

So many lives, lived side by side as if they all happened at once...

"You don't remember, then," the man says, putting a hand on the hero's chest, just over his heart. He sighs, as if reading something there with his fingers.

"Is that a bad thing?"

"For now? No," the man replies: "But soon, Armilus. Soon, you will remember everything. I've been sent to help with that." 

"Can't you just tell me?" Tempete Bleu rasps, almost begging.

"It's too soon," the man says: "But still..."

He points to the tomb, itself. There, a lifelike sculpture of a white-robed skeleton peeks from behind an iron grille, body hand crossed over its chest. 

"The tomb of Giovanni Battista Gisleni," the man explains, gesturing to the macabre memento mori: "A rather interesting piece of tombcraft. One of my favorites. I especially like the motto, here: Neque hic vivus, Neque illic mortuus."

"'Neither living here, nor dead there,'" Tempete Bleu translates: "An interesting conceit."

"Yes, well, he should have added 'flagrat in infernum,'" the man chuckles, stroking his eerily-hairless chin: "Those architects were always a rotten lot. Pocket blasphemies hidden in secret rooms and chambers. All those sexual puns and peccadilloes, preserved forever in marble and wood..."

"And is he?"


"Burning in Hell?"

"Ah, well," the man says, looking at the hero: "That's a tale for another time. The important thing is that, while I can't tell you everything, I have come to tell you something."

"What's that?" Tempete Bleu asks, his eyes full of a strange kind of hope.

The man gestures for the hero to lean in close, and then, taking his head in his hands, gives him a savagely passionate kiss.

And then, as quickly as he's done that, grabs him by the roots of his red and white hair, and -- holding his head so he can't get away -- whispers something into his ear.

Something that makes France's mightiest hero scream...

(SPYGOD is listening to The Only Way Out is Through (Nine Inch Nails) and having a Chimay Blue Cap)

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