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)

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)

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)