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)

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