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)

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