Author: AHS PM
It's been seven peaceful years since their escape from Syria, but now with the impending death of the head of the Organisation, a document may pull the Rippners straight back into the line of fire. Original sequel to Bejerot's Diagnosis.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Crime - Chapters: 17 - Words: 44,823 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 06-02-12 - Published: 02-19-09 - id: 4874927
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Matthias Poulain had always been a very specific and overly organised man.
In 1944, after the fall of the Vichy government, he and a few of his closest friends from the French Army used their organisational prowess and skills picked up from spying on the Vichy to form a small Paris-based company consisting mostly of ex-spies that could be contacted when one needed a private investigator. Post-war Europe was the perfect breeding grounds for distrust and paranoia, so the once-small company quickly found itself with branches around France and soon in other European nations. It wasn't until the late 1950s, however, that the organisation was able to add the world "mondiale," or world, to its name. In the height of the Cold War, the society grew with leaps and bounds, spurred by events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, and the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction. Everyone suspected his neighbour was a communist with plans to take over the country, so the Americas soon had two branches: one for North America, and one for South America. If people were paranoid, they needed someone to go to, and they wanted the people to have a good reputation. The World Society offered this.
Or at least that's what the pamphlet said.
Anaïs Vioget sat at her desk at the world headquarters of La société mondiale des investigateurs privés, looking over the newest brochures they'd received from the printer earlier in the day. They contained old pictures of Poulain and his associates, all of whom had been killed under questionable circumstances in the late 1970s. There was no attempt to explain why Poulain had risen solo to the head of the organisation; the information skipped straight to the yuppie 1980s when suddenly rich businessmen began using corporate spies to check up on associates.
Anyone high enough in the organisation knew that Poulain and his former partners were renegades during the war. All had started as soldiers in the French armed forces, but by the time the country was turned over to the Vichy, they were guns for hire. The young men orchestrated key assassinations during the course of the war and were applauded by officials on both sides for their traceless tactics. Thus, at the end of the war, when they decided to form an agency to continue their ruthlessness, their former employers just turned their backs to the whole thing, and after decades of propaganda, no one was around anymore who actually seemed to remember that the World Society was responsible for dozens of World War II assassinations. Even the governments involved had forgotten because their affiliations were so top secret, few documents were ever filed about their contacts. Of course, organisation members had eradicated all of those documents years ago.
The organisation first had the idea of participating in terrorist attacks back in the 1970s. After being approached by several potential employers to participate in railway bombings and commercial aircraft crashes, the board, which consisted at that time of the five charter members, convened and discussed the possibility of taking those jobs. Four of the men wanted to take them and one didn't--that one was Matthias Poulain, who found the terrorist tactics tasteless. He absolutely refused to let his brainchild become part of that, and he was quite vocal about it. The other four laughed at him and took glee in the fact that they outvoted him, but not quite remembering that he was the most ruthless of all of them, despite his petition against terrorism. Over the next month, each died in a different fashion, and from that point, no one ever bothered Matthias Poulain about his tactics ever again. They could think of their views, yes, but announcing something contrary to his wishes was exactly like signing your own death certificate.
Thus began the reorganisation of the World Society. Poulain dug through his files and selected his best managers from around the globe to form a board: eight men and women expected to stay on the panel for a life term, all having second-in-commands set up for immediate replacement in case of death or incapacitation. Poulain's own second-in-command was his nineteen-year-old son, Lucien, who had grown up jet-setting with his father after his mother's death when he was a toddler. He was applauded by his overseers in the organisation for being a prodigy and by 1988 had chosen his own successor and started his training after deciding that he had no interest in the liability of a family. Only a few short months before his father was to retire, however, Lucien was killed by his own assassin, who then killed herself. Poulain, however, took it in stride, and soon had his son's successor elected as his own.
His successor proved to be even more talented than the marvellous son. Poulain spoiled him from afar, raining prodigal gifts upon him. The boy was brash and ruthless, finding more humour in the pain of others than pity, but looking at him, no one would have had a clue. He was good-looking and unassuming at the same time, and with a pair of sunglasses on, he could easily be lost in a crowd. The most amazing and perhaps terrifying thing about him were his eyes. Piercingly blue, they could be used as weapons, which was good, seeing as the boy had surprisingly poor aim. When the boy reached his late-twenties, the documents were signed that granted him the title of heir apparent of the World Society, and unless he was killed prior to Poulain's retirement, he'd become the head of the entire organisation.
Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong, will, and that's exactly what happened in this case. Enraged by the same thing that spurred the killings of his associates years before, Poulain's protégé called him and angrily announced his resignation. Poulain was not at all surprised and assigned to him a very cut-and-dry assignment based around the boy's town, Miami. The surprise hit when his golden child failed in his assignment and a short time later married and impregnated the woman who caused his failure. Things fell apart in short order, and soon the organisation was in chaos. Two pivotal members including the boy's recruiter were found to be double-agents, working secretly for a terrorist organisation, and before long, there was a McCarthyist shakedown within the society. Purges were completed.
By 2010, five years after the departure of his successor, Poulain chose a new protégé, but everyone was questioning his decision. The child was only eleven at the time, and although her parents and grandparents had been organisation members, everyone was sure that her family wouldn't approve the appointment. Despite this, Poulain was able to convince her grandparents that Agatha Bayley was a suitable replacement for him, so she went into training against her mother's wishes. Agatha and Poulain didn't click as well as he and Jackson had, but with the man being ninety already, there was little chance of having time to start with a child outside of the boundaries of the society. It became apparent later in the year that Poulain was experiencing the first stages of delirium--he kept assuring everyone that Jackson Rippner was going to return to take his place at the head, and when presented with the papers to legally lift Agatha to the position of heir apparent, he refused to sign them, and there was nothing any of them could do about it.
Anaïs leaned back in her chair and yawned deeply. She was thankful for having no window in her office because if she saw the sun rise again from her desk, she'd have been extremely upset. For the last twenty years, she'd been Poulain's confidante, always there or on-call to cater to his needs. Whenever he was in the office, she was there too, though that usually meant getting home just after dawn or not at all. Typically, however, he adhered to his schedule, and today's schedule called for a ten o'clock departure so that he could get a good night's sleep before taking the train to his niece's house in Normandy for the Christmas holidays. As the clock ticked over to midnight, however, she grew more and more worried. Standing, she quietly walked to his door and rapped on the wood with her knuckles.
There was no answer, so she rapped again and then pressed her ear to the door. She couldn't hear anything on the other side, so she pulled out the key to his office from her suit pocket and pushed open the door.
'Monsi--' she started, then froze. No one was sitting behind the desk,
She started walking around the room, trying to figure out how he could have left without her knowing, and then she heard a quiet voice. 'Anaïs...'
Turning around, she saw fingers sticking out from behind the other side of the desk. Jumping over on her high heels, she bent down to Matthias Poulain with a hand on her mouth. He'd been shot in the chest twice and she, sitting just ten feet away from his door, had heard absolutely nothing. Grabbing him, she pulled him into her lap like she had with Jackson years earlier after he'd been shot by Lyna Melinyshyn and then grabbed blindly for the phone. Knocking it onto the floor beside them, she dialled 1-4-4. It connected quickly.
'Allo, this is Anaïs Vioget at the World Society headquarters. Matthias Poulain has been shot, and I need medical assistance immediately!'
After a short conversation with the dispatcher, she hung up the phone and pulled Poulain closer to her.
'Everything is going to be all right, monsieur. The ambulance will be here soon.'
'C'est une conspiration, Anaïs.'
He coughed, and Anaïs tensed up as a trickle of blood fell down his chin. 'Don't-- don't let the board name my successor... follow my will.'
She nodded, tears inadvertently running down her face. 'Yes, monsieur. I will make sure that Agatha--'
'Pas Agathe,' growled Poulain with unexpected fire. 'Jackson.'
A/N: And now for the repost of Heir Apparent that everyone's been requesting! Enjoy!