Against the Day.
Chapter 2: Young Liars
He sits in his cell, lax, weak like a neutered dog. His yellow hat sits over his eyes as if to say 'do not disturb'. He means it, he wants to see no one. He's in his early forties, but looks much younger.
He's given up.
"Is this where he is?" he hears a voice say. "Yep. Only jail cell in the entire town. Nowhere else for him to be."
Jed hears the shuffling of feet, and a man standing at his jail cell, gripping the bars.
"Jed Green?" he says. "I would like to talk to you."
"What do you want?" Jed mutters under his breath.
"I want to know if you're able to help me with something."
Jed looked up at him. He couldn't see much, the man wearing a hooded sweatshirt to disguise his identity. "What do you want me to do? I'm a fuckup." Jed says.
"No Jed, no you're not."
"I killed a cop, dammit! I took cocaine, and I ran dope. If that's not a fuckup, I don't know what is!"
The man shakes his head, frustrated and disappointed. "Jed, you've stayed in this cell for nine years. You haven't exercised and have likely not been eating healthy, and you still look like you're in your thirties. You've likely read any book you can get your hands on, and you've got no-one to talk to. Prison's probably the best and worst thing that's ever happened to you."
Jed looked at him with disgust, but also with a little curiosity. This man looked like he could read him like a book. "Well," Jed began. " You gotta point. I've read a lot, had almost nowhere to move, and the food makes me feel like shit, and I still look like I did when I got in this cell. Why should I care? I don't leave this cell for another eleven years."
"How would you like to leave today?"
Jed is silent, but intrigued underneath. "Keep talking." He says. The man seems to smile from underneath the shadows of his hood. "If you accept my offer, Jed, you will be cleared of all charges and your criminal record deleted. In return, all you have to do is work for me and my associates, and use your unique abilities for whatever we may need."
Jed stops to think. He doesn't know what the man means by 'Unique abilities', but Jed wanted to leave, to start over for something new. Jed nodded.
The hooded man nods, and he pulled off his hood to reveal a young Japanese man in his early twenties.
"I'm Tohru Adachi. Welcome to the League."
L's Rolls Royce.
New York City
Three Days ago.
Adachi looked at the man in front of him in disbelief. This is L, the greatest detective in the modern age. L, the solver of the Los Angles BB cases. L, the biggest recluse since JD Salinger.
L, who was supposed to have been killed by Kira.
Adachi knew about the whole thing: he grew up during Kira's reign, when crime dropped, and only supervillians whose names and faces could always change from day to day could do much without fear. It was those cases that got Adachi interested in his parents' work, which in turn got him interested in becoming a detective, which is where he ended up after high school. He knew that the original L had died, and someone had taken his place. He knew that the replacement L and this L looked nothing alike. This was, impossible as it was, the real L.
Adachi tried to speak, sputtering and stammering without any words forming into a cohesive sentence. All he could manage was "Impossible." With multiple false starts and stutters.
Margaret, on the other hand, didn't see the point. "Who is this man, Adachi?" she asked. Adachi looked at her sharply, L tilting his head like a confused kitten at her.
Mustering up his will to speak, Adachi did his best to explain. "M-Margaret, t-t-this is L. H-h-h-he's a v-v-very famous detective." He explained.
"Is that right?" Margaret asked. She looked at L, judging him as if he were competing for points in a game only she knew the rules of. "Well, all right then." She said. "Anything else I should know?"
"Oh! Uh, well, he's supposed to be dead."
Margaret's eyebrows rose upon hearing this. "Really?" she said. She looked to L. "Tell me how you escaped Death." She said, formally and in a commanding tone.
L was happy to oblige. "In 2004, I had successfully figured out the identity of the mass murderer Kira. In order to amass sufficient evidence, I had myself and my assistant Watari replaced with actors who looked and behaved exactly as we did. When Kira thought he eliminated us, he killed them instead."
"That's clever, but horrible." Margaret said, her face as stoic as ever. L glared at her. "It was for the best, and they willingly accepted the assignment. After my replacements took over, I went deep undercover, hiding for several years, providing work as an informant. After Kira's death, I went into semi-retirement, occasionally taking a case here and there. Then S.H.I.E.L.D called me, and here I am."
Adachi nodded, understanding, as did Margaret. L took a chocolate bar out of a compartment and began to munch on it. "So, here's how we'll begin." L said. "We will first take a flight to England, where we will set up our base of operations. after resting, Adachi will head for California, Margaret will head to Sweden, I will give you more information as the vents play out."
L turned his head around to the driver. "Ms. Graves, would you kindly take us to the airport?" he asked.
"Yes sir." the chauffeur responded, turning the car in the direction of the airport.
I know we haven't gotten along well, but I consider you a friend, and feel I should warn you about what's going to happen soon.
Wasp, someones looking for you.
I was doing some hacking around some computers, and I ended up getting the head of S.H.I.E.L.D's laptop. Now, the last time I hacked an important person's computer, it was a disaster, involving a bad virus being created. Still, I figured I wouldn't touch anything, and I had a look around.
I saw your name come up, Wasp. Not your screen-name, your real name.
Two days from now
L, Adachi, and Margaret entered a large mansion.
"Welcome to our base." L said. "This is the official rendezvous point. After completing any missions, we return here."
"I see." Adachi said, yawning from the jet lag. "It's very nice in here." he said. Margaret observed the area. "It's very nice indeed, it reminds me of..."
"The Velvet Room?" L answered. Adachi and Margaret stared intensely at L. L smiled. "At ease, though I know of Persona's and the existence of the Velvet Room, I have kept it secret."
Margaret breathed a sigh of relief, as did Adachi. L led them into a room to the left. "This," L said "Is the main room of our work."
It was a magnificent room. Computers littered desks, television's and leather chairs scattered everywhere, fridges, all sorts of things were inside their main base.
"Let me introduce you to our staff." L said. He pointed to the three people in the corner, huddled together and hunched over computer screens.
"To the left is Brandon Gray, our culture expert." L said, pointing to a skinny young man in a black shirt and jeans. "In the middle is Faith Conners, our courier." L pointed again to a young Eurasian woman. "The one on the right is , our researcher on all things, Ms. Tessa." pointing last to a thiry-something woman with black hair, who was reading at an astounding rate. "Think of them as interns." L explained. "Your rooms are directly upstairs."
Now, Wasp, I don't know how they did this. I don't know why they've got you on file. You may be the best hacker in your country, but on the international scale, you're pretty low on the totem pole. If they wanted to recruit you for something, I can think of much better candidates. Whatever they want you for, it's probably not good. Get out of wherever you are, NOW.
a Day from Now.
"This." Adachi said. "is stupid."
"May I ask why you think this?" L said as he began to eat a large cake.
"Why do we have to go back to the US? We were just there! I mean, why do we fly to England from New York, then head back to America?"
"You and I will be staying in America for a bit, and Margaret will be heading to Sweden and Uganda. Trust me when I say you should be thankful you're here." L replied, finishing a slice of the cake, quickly moving on to another.
"Did you send her without any help?" Adachi asked.
"Of course not. I sent the owner of Croft Manor with her."
"The woman we didn't get to meet?"
"She's qualified, right? She can help us?"
Somewhere in Sweden
A Day from Now
"So, what's your name, girl?"
"Mm? Oh, I'm Margaret."
"Nice to meet you, Margaret. I'm Lara Croft."
Lara extended her hand to Margaret, who shook her hand in return. Margaret quickly analyzed Lara. She was tall, brown haired with a long braid in the back, and wore comfortable, semi tight fitting clothes, as if she were in a professions were free movement was completely necessary. Lara pointed to a jeep a few yards down the road. "Hop in, we've got a few hours drive."
Margaret nodded, taking a seat in the car and watched as Lara put the car in gear.
They went off quickly, driving towards the east. Maragret sat in silence, staring at the Swedish countryside. She felt pressured: What was she supposed to discuss with Lara? Was she supposed to even talk to her? Was she just a driver?
"Well, got anything to say?"
Margaret was jutted out her train of thought. Lara had asked her that. She figured she had to ask something. It was only polite.
"O-oh. Alright. Um, do you own Croft Manor?"
"It's got my name on it doesn't it?"
Margaret smiled. "I suppose so. Anyway, what are you doing giving the space for L to set up shop?"
Lara turned her head away, slightly blushing. "Well," Lara explained. "I SORT of ran into some trouble with the US Government and their cursed Lodge Division after killing a Kraken. I swear, it was in self defense! So, in return for giving them my mansion for your groups headquarters, I'm granted immunity, provided I don't kill any more cryptids."
Margaret nodded, despite not knowing what a cryptid was. "Anything else.?" Lara asked. "Why're we in Sweden?" Margaret asked.
"There's a hacker living here, and L would like her to join us. That, and there was some sweets L wanted me to pick up for him here."
"You're in so much trouble that you HAVE to get L sweets whenever he feels like?"
"Actually, I'm getting them because I want to."
Margaret fell silent.
Just outside Greendale, California
6 hours from now
L pulled a file from the satchel slung on his side.
"Here's who we're supposed to take with us." L explained. "His name's Jed Green, in his early forties, orphaned, and in jail for third degree murder of a police officer."
Adachi scanned the file. "Green, where have I heard that name..." he said. Adachi's eyes widened. "Hey! He's that activist Sun Green's cousin!"
L nodded. "Yeah, he's the one who always crops up in the interviews with Sun Green. He's cut himself off from the Green family."
"So why are we recruiting him?" Adachi asked.
"According to Charles Xavier's computer (Which we hacked), every single woman who has not married into the Green family is a highly powered mutant, all of their powers relating to nature. Sun Green is one of the most powerful mutants, and was one of the ones that was able to avoid the effects of the mass mutant de-powering a few years back."
"That was not an answer." Adachi stated.
"I'm getting to that. Anyway, Jed Green is unique, even among members of the Green family. He's a mutant as well."
"How's that possible?"
"That's yet to be determined. Only Green woman have exhibited the X gene before Jed, and he's largely kept it suppressed. Unlike the Green women, who have a degree of control and affinity with nature, Jed has control and affinity over non-natural things."
"Numerous things. Fire, electricity, but especially machinery. He's the antithesis to his cousin, and we don't know which one's stronger. Sun Green is currently at the Gulf. She's considered to loose cannon for us."
"And Jed won' bet?"
"She was invited. He's joining whether he likes it or not."
Wasp, I've got to go, but I have one last thing for you to know.
The people the Government is sending after you aren't normal. They're above regular human ability, or superhuman. Like the people you see on TV. That's why you need to leave, because you won't stand a chance against them if cornered.
Lisbeth Salander finished Drummer's email. She was scared, something that was uncommon for her. Drummer was a lot of things, but a liar he wasn't, and he wouldn't kid around about a friend's safety.
She ran around her flat, grabbing everything useful. Her wallet, laptop, phone, and chargers, a few clothes here and there.
She had finished in 90 seconds when she heard a knock on her door.
"Ms. Salander?" a voice spoke in unaccented Swedish. "May we come in?"
It was at this point Salander wondered if she could escape out the window, and if she could survive the fall.
As she turned for the window, she heard the door being kicked down, and turned to see two women standing in front of her. One had a gun at her, and the other what looked like a card made of thin glass.
Adachi and Jed stepped out of the police station, where L was waiting outside. "You did it." L said flatly. "Good job."
Adachi pointed at L. "Jed, this is L, he's our boss. He's OK, just don't eat his sweets."
L nodded towards Adachi. "Indeed, Adachi-san. Welcome to the League, Mr. Green."
Jed didn't know what to do, and simply said "Thank you."
"Think nothing of it." L said. He walked towards the Rolls-Royce. "Now, we go to Los Angles to pick up our next two recruits."
"Ms. Salander, do you speak English?"
Lisbeth remained silent. Margaret observed Salander with curiosity. "What's she doing?" Margaret asked in a whisper to Lara. "She's not responding to anything."
"She's got Aspberger's. It's in her file. She doesn't interact socially as normal people do." Lara explained.
Lara called out to Lisbeth again. "Ms. Salander, do you speak English?"
"Enough." Lisbeth replied, though heavily accented. Lara nodded. "Mind if we speak in English? My friend speaks no Swedish."
"Fine." Lisbeth said, neither complaint or disrespectful.
"Ms. Salander, I'm here with Margaret to recruit you for a very important task."
"I know, Drummer told me."
Lara lowered her sunglasses and looked at her. "Drummer told you that?"
Lara scowled. "That asshole, hacking into our computers, amazing that Wagner puts up with him. I'll tell her to kick the shit out of that little..."
Margaret, deciding to take action, faced Lisbeth. She felt a little intimidated by the brunette, with her piercings and 'fuck-you' glare on her face, but knew she wouldn't get anywhere being awkward. "Ms. Salander, will you come with us?"
"What's at stake? Why do the Americans care about me?"
Margaret remembered the file information, and decided to do a little flattering. "Ms. Slander, you're one of the twenty best hackers in the world, your a mathematical genius, and you've shown yourself to be a good detective. As for what's at stake, let me ask you what you prefer: Your life now, or your life as a servant of a cult that spans the entire globe?"
Lisbeth didn't have to think to much about that. "I'll do it." she said. "But I'm not an expendable. I want a stake in this thing."
"You always did." Margaret replied. Lisbeth made a strange half-smile, and walked to her room. "I'm going to pack." she said in Swedish. Margaret looked over at Lara. "I forgot the main reason we recruited her. I only remembered what the background information was."
"So you don't know the main reason she's so desirable?"
"Should I know?"
"You'll be in for a surprise when you see why we recruited her. Come to think of it, so will she."
So, that's it! We'll be back soon with chapter 3.
Next time, on Against the Day:
-Adachi, L, and Jed discover how strange LA is.
-Margaret finds magician's to be arrogant.
-The Church of the Voice begins it's grand plans.