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)

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