Legion of Lawndale Heroes Mini – 'The Devil Deals The
Written by Gouka Ryuu and Brother Grimace
Legion of Lawndale Heroes created by James Bowman
The most surprising aspect of the Legion's visit to USAES, as well as meeting their counterparts in The Alliance, was that the Legionnaires didn't pick up on the fact that neither they, nor The Alliance, were the only gatherings of young metahumans active in the world at that time.
It was also telling that even Jane Lane, the most canny of the Legionnaires, didn't make the association that some of those groups would be brought together for the most unenviable of ends – or that soon, some of them would see the Legion as a viable target.
-from Chapter Number One, by Hank Stewart
Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard
Cause Hell's broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals the cards
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold
But if you lose - the devil gets your soul...
-from The Devil Went Down To Georgia, by Charlie Daniels
The young man closed the door behind him, calmly and slowly, and then locked the rather sturdy pair of deadbolts on the front door; he had no intention of being interrupted while he was having his fun. He moved through the elegant little apartment, and his eyes immediately went to the girl he had tied to the kitchen chair earlier. A classic, red-haired beauty by any definition, and from what the file had shown, brains to match.
Hopefully - that meant she'd be a challenge.
The file sent to him had given the information he needed to track Aisling (her name, as if that mattered), make contact, and perform the song-and-dance necessary to accompany her back to her home - where he subdued her easily. About a half hour later, while enjoying an espresso (an excellent kitchen, he allowed) and watching a DVD of some animated American program about a baby fur seal, he heard the sound of a chair gently moving against the floor.
Upon awakening, Aisling had moved the chair while trying to undo her bonds, alerting him to her condition and signaling to him that he could begin his work.
It was always more fun when they were awake.
"I don't know what you did to upset them," he said in a beautifully tranquil voice that was about as loud as a stage whisper, "and I really don't care. I'll find out, though. I'll find out everything there is to know about you. That's why they hired me."
The girl's hazel eyes showed confusion; as the young man stood behind her, he didn't notice - not that he would have cared anyway. He knew the signs - the way their heads tilted about (at this point, they weren't frightened enough to try and physically escape restraint) and the way their breathing would speed up. They were always were confused... but even these – mundanes - deserved some explanation before he did his work.
"First, as I'm sure you figured out, the name I gave you when I picked you up tonight was a lie. You can just call me Mr. Veggie. You may think it's funny now," he warned still with a calm, arrogant voice, "but I'll explain to you why you should be afraid."
The young man pulled another chair from the table, and sat down in front of Aisling.
"I'm a psychic," he began. "Yes. A real one – not one of those fakirs you see on the late-night infomercials. Not a very powerful one, for the most part, and quite average – compared to some of the others in this wonderful world or ours. Now, reading your surface thoughts won't get me much of what I'm looking for, so I'm going to tell you that I do have a certain unique power that sets me apart from others. When I have skin-to-skin contact with a target - my telepathic powers become highly enhanced. I can actually enter the mind of my target. And, that is only where the fun begins."
He paused to see that Aisling was riveted on his every word. He continued, a smile on his lips.
"Games of the mind have always interested me since I was a child; mazes, in particular, have always been a fascination of mine. So, it was quite a happy surprise for me to find that when I enter a person's mind – I perceive it as a maze. And, even more interesting than in real life mazes, the defenses of my target's mind also impede my progress. And yet, I have to be careful, I can't damage the mind of my target too much, or I might lose the information I'm looking for. It always provides an interesting challenge, even in the simplest of minds. After all, sometimes the simplest defense can be the most powerful. So, like a surgeon cutting with a scalpel, I have to precisely and carefully make my way through, which can take hours; ergo, my doing this privately in your home where we can't be interrupted."
The young man rose from his chair and began to slowly pace about the kitchen floor, his anticipation of invading Aisling's mind evident as he continued to speak.
"You're probably wondering how I even find the memories with the information I'm looking for. That, I also have covered with another power of mine that helps me through the maze. The dossier I'm given when assigned a target gives some idea of the knowledge I'm hired to find. With possession of that, I can easily pinpoint the memories I'm looking for. It's like the scent of cheese that helps guide me through the maze."
He stopped pacing.
"Finally, after I've sifted through your mind and found all the memories I've been ordered to find... comes the other fun part."
His smile turned from merely arrogant to sadistic.
"While I'll enter your mind as precisely as a surgeon - that's not how I'll leave. I guess the best simile would be to compare it to Jason Vorhees, or Leather Face with a chainsaw."
A single tear slipped from the corner of Aisling's left eye. She had been silently listening to the explanation, intent on finding some way to reason with him – but something within her whispered that this was all real... and there was no escape from this madman.
The young sadist continued to speak. "But, even though I'll be ripping my way out of your mind, I will still be doing it precisely. You see - I don't destroy any memories, except of myself, of course. I don't need another psychic searching through your mind and learning of my existence, but I do that during the infiltration. I don't destroy your personality or anything about you. I do destroy the parts of your mind that have control over your body. I've done this enough times that I can thoroughly enjoy myself and be violent - without having to worry about messing up at this part. You won't have any control over your body, unless I'm nice enough to leave you the ability to blink. No talking, no eating unless it's through tubes, same with the other body functions. You'll live out the rest of your life in your own mind – hopefully, you'll only make it into your sixties. It's the perfect prison - with no way to escape. There really isn't even any way to commit suicide, although you most likely will go insane after a few months... and did I mention what the – gentlemen – at your care facility will do to you after the lights go out?"
Unaware that her face was slick with tears, Aisling was trying to get away from the young man even though she knew she had no chance. She rocked her chair back and forth across the kitchen floor, moving it in miniscule amounts before tipping over and ending up face-down against the floor.
The young man acted as if he hadn't even noticed.
"But, like I said - I hate other psychics. They could always try to reverse the damage to a mind like that to some extent – and then, I'd have to slice their minds apart, too. It makes it all the more humorous when one of them is the target. However, considering the number of people on this planet that have powers capable of saving you... the chances of that happening are small. Sorry about getting your hopes up.
The young man walked over and righted the chair; Aisling's face was red; tears and a smear of blood from her broken nose smudged her face.
The young man just smiled all the more.
And, that is why I'm called 'Mr. Veggie'. Anyone that has ever had contact with me has ended up a vegetable in a high-care facility. But, at least you can take pride in knowing I was hired to get you. I am one of the best they've got."
"Yes, that seems to be everything," he said, removing the black leather glove on his right hand. "Shall we get started?"
He walked out of the apartment building onto one of the many streets of Dublin several hours later. Aisling was more of a challenge than he had expected - and it was better to keep up the charade that he had just been someone she picked up for a one night stand anyway. He looked at his watch through his sunglasses.
Not even nine in the morning. Still have some time to kill before lunch.
He remembered passing a park with Aisling (I never did bother to ask her last name, did I?) last night, and carefully made his way back to the area. When he found it, he could see that it was marked St. Stephen's Green. Finding a bench, he leaned back, and took a light nap.
The anger in the voice carried more intent than words. "He's late."
"Don't worry about it too much. We know he had an assignment last night, and he can get tired after doing what he does."
There was a note of caution in the second voice; even after the precautions they took after arriving, they couldn't say more in such a public place. "Here he is now."
The three patrons at the table in the Temple Bar noticed Veggie walk in, and make his way through the crowded pub.
For his part, Veggie noted how the three people at the table looked like the other tourists as he joined them. When he actually sat down, though, his perceptions of the people at the table changed from what the rest of the pub was seeing. What had once been a pale, gangly brown haired American man, his over-weight dyed blond haired wife and their pudgy blond haired son were now two teenagers, one fifteen and one seventeen, and a man looking to be in his thirties in traditional Scottish garb.
Veggie had a smirk on his face at that. The guy never will show us his true form, will he? Last time, he had put the illusion of William Shakespeare up over himself.
"Well, I see Mirage's illusions are as powerful and helpful as ever. I take it that after a suitable amount of time has passed you'll put an illusion over me as well." The Scottish man nodded. "And, I assume you also have our conversations disguised as the inane chatter of tourists." Mirage again nodded.
"Why do you go through this every time we meet in the open? You know he always takes precautions, what with the American government - and those DELPHI thugs who want our hides hanging on a barn wall. What is important is what took you so long? We've been here for over an hour!" the first teen spoke gruffly.
"The only reason I'm late," Veggie answered calmly, "is because I fell asleep in the park for a few hours. Nothing to throw a fit about, Gouka. But, I'm sure Peter already told you that I had a job last night."
Peter - the second speaker - smirked at this while Gouka just smoldered in his seat.
"So," Veggie said after a moment of silence between the four, "Where to, now? I've finished my job, but the balance hasn't been deposited yet - and with Arcana being in a recruitment and money drive, we're not really out of our way to go after anything."
"I believe I can answer that," Peter said, the smirk still on his face. "I was watching a match earlier today -"
Veggie's face immediately showed he didn't care, "But not anything that would be on TV," Peter said pointing at his head. "It was between that group of American cadets I told you about once and another group. I believe they're called - 'the Legion.'"
An image of auburn hair and translucent clothing danced through his mind "I've heard a bit about them. That rich one, Stark, left them with a boatload of coin and had them set up teen clubs all over the U.S., right?"
"I was able to acquire their records and after doing another search I found another interesting piece of information about them. It seems that John Dynell is interested in them. Which has got me thinking - if we can kill them or, better yet, bring them in alive - we could be paid off very well, as in 'blank check'. Oh, and before I forget - they have a psychic on their team, Veg."
Veggie quirked an eyebrow in interest at this. "She supposedly has a lot of potential - might be able to surpass all of the others currently out there," Peter chuckled, an evil grin on his face. "Just a bit of the spoilers before the show. I know how much you love to have fun with them."
"Hmm... sounds like fun. I'm in." Veggie said, matching his evil grin with one of his own.
Mirage only nodded his approval.
Gouka frowned. "This doesn't really help my goals at all - but then again, all of you have helped me and pointed me in the right direction. Hell, if it wasn't for Peter - I would never have known that it was the Americans that ruined my life. Now, I know who to get revenge on. I'll help you guys if you need it, but this sounds like you don't need a straight forward hack and blast, which is usually what I do."
Peter nodded. "We'll always need you."
"Won't this require some planning? Their headquarters is probably well protected and would be hard to infiltrate." Veggie asked, mulling over some of the details of the operation in his head.
"Their tower is located in a quarry in Lawndale, Maryland - and yes, it is well protected. That's why we do some reconnaissance first - learn as much as we can about their defenses, powers, et cetera - and maybe take them, one at a time. We can use Mirage's powers as well as your seeming charms, Veg, to go after their leader."
"Why their leader?" Mr. Veggie asked, the look on his face clearly showing his interest.
"Her name's Quinn Morgendorffer. She was elected leader - but she seems to be another one of those brainless fashion plates. Would easily fall for your mysterious, rich, European routine. Her powers are electric-based, but I doubt she'd give any of us much trouble. Even if she does, get her unconscious and clear out memories of any interaction with us - even inane dating conversation with her could bring up something useful. Afterwards, with Mirage using his powers to infiltrate, and with you backing him up with your powers, we should be able to do this. Mirage can use illusions to mask you guys as you infiltrate their tower, and then - we can auction them off to Dynell. The psychic may be a problem but this isn't a long term operation."
"Sounds like you have everything thought out," Veggie said, impressed with Peter – as he usually was. "When do we leave?"
Peter pointed to his forehead. "I'm booking a flight right now. Baltimore - leaves in about four hours. I'm also arranging a nice place to operate from – very comfortable, but very discreet. I'm also sending word to the other Major Arcana to tell them where we're heading; I can't see this lasting more than a few weeks, though." He nodded. "Okay, everything's been arranged. Let's go - wait. I'll call a taxi."
Three minutes later, the four entered a taxi, and were bound for Dublin Airport.
23 April 2008