Ronin Toad: Redux

The Pit, Headquarters Building
General Hawk, Shipwreck, Conrad, and Kate
27 February 2002, 1300

“What about the kids?” Hawk asked Shipwreck as they headed for the foyer of the Headquarters Building.

“Mine are in the dojo today, to include the littlest one,” Shipwreck replied, “Stormshadow will keep ‘em outta sight.”

Duke and Scarlett approached with Conrad and Kate in tow, walking briskly from the Mess Hall where they had been eating lunch.

“I’m forgetting something, I know,” Hawk said to himself as well as to Shipwreck.

“No time for that,” Scarlett said “Agent Todd just got the phone call that Whithalf’s group is about ten minutes from the front gate.”

About twenty minutes later Hawk waited outside with Scarlet, Duke, Beach Head, Shipwreck, Conrad and Kate.

Evidently you can take the Legionnaire out of the Legion but you can’t take the Legion out of the Legionnaire. Kate thought as she saw Conrad standing at the position of attention.

The rental car, a gray Chevy sedan, stopped in front of the Headquarters. Agent Baer, Generals Flagg and Bragg stepped out of the car. And after she put the car in park Rachel stepped out as well.

Hawk and the Joes presented their salutes and Kate saw Conrad reflexively begin to move his arm as well before stopping.

“Old habit?” Kate smirked.

“Yes,” Conrad replied, “years old habits do die hard.”

“Gentlemen,” Hawk said, “Welcome to the Pit.”

“Clay, thank you for your hospitality,” Flagg began, using Hawk’s first name.

“I hope it was a good flight from D.C., sir,” Hawk replied.

“It wasn’t bad at all,” Flagg said, “The jetlag isn’t nearly as bad as flying halfway around the world.”

As Flagg, Bragg, and Hawk continued to exchange pleasantries Hawk managed a sidelong glance at his subordinates.

“Where’s General Whithalf?” Kate asked, “Wasn’t he supposed to be with this group?”

“It looks like he pulled off one of his infamous disappearing acts,” Beach Head groaned, “It figures…”

“Disappearing acts?” Kate asked.

“I didn’t stutter,” Beach Head said, “Whithalf pulled off one of his disappearing acts.”

“Let’s just say General Whithalf’s background in special operations means he’s good at disappearing,” Scarlett supplied, “And he tends to enjoy wandering around and surfacing in the damndest places after said disappearing acts.”

“I just remembered something,” Shipwreck said as he joined the sidebar conversation, taking a quick glance over his shoulder.

“Not now, Shipwreck, we’ve got bigger problems!” Beach Head snapped.

“Ok, smart guy,” Shipwreck snapped back, “Where’s Toad?”

“Oh crap,” Beach Head replied, “Please tell me it wasn’t one of his days to be working in General Hawk’s office?”

“I thought you knew,” Scarlett replied, before turning to Shipwreck, “Didn’t you send him on an errand?”

“No, I thought you did!” Shipwreck replied, as he took another glance, noticing Rachel and Baer were also looking around as discreetly as they could manage.

“I didn’t!” Scarlett replied, “I thought you did!”

“Oh great, he wandered off again!” Beach Head grumbled, a bit too loudly.

“Who wandered off again?” Baer asked as he joined the conversation, with Rachel at his heels.

“General Whithalf,” Shipwreck quickly interjected.

“Great, not again,” Baer groaned.

Rachel joined them as they spoke, “I don’t know where Whithalf wandered off to.”

“We’ll help find him,” Kate quickly offered, glancing off to one side, noticing Hawk was still deep in conversation

“Is this normal?” Rachel asked, as Kate and Conrad took the opportunity to make a hasty yet discreet exit.

“This happens more often than you think,” Baer said.


The Pit, The Motorpool
General Whithalf and Todd Tolansky
27 February 2002, 1354

“And this is the motorpool, sir,” Todd began as he guided Whithalf into the fenced in compound where G.I. Joe kept its vehicles.

As they walked down a line of tanks Whithalf said, “I started my career in the Armor branch, driving tanks.”

“I’ve driven a tank, sir,” Todd blurted. And then he immediately turned red. Man, I shouldn’t have said that around a general! Hawk’s gonna kill me!

“Really?” Whithalf said, a small grin on his face, “How was it?”

“I wasn’t exactly supposed to be driving it,” Todd replied, embarrassed.

“You mean you took the tank for a joyride?” Whithalf asked, an eyebrow raised.

“Erhm, uh,” Todd replied.

“Answer me, soldier,” Whithalf urged.

Reluctantly Todd told the story of what practically everyone at the Pit was now calling Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Whithalf let out a great belly laugh, “Well, boy, I honestly have a hard time trusting a tanker who hasn’t taken a joyride or two as a youth.”

“R-really?” Todd asked.

“Of course!” Whithalf said, “A tanker who has a joyride or two to his name laughs in the face of obstacles, mines, and enemy tanks!”

As they walked down the line of tanks Whithalf absently began to hum a tune.

I recognize that tune, Todd thought. I’ve heard Agent Hart whistle it a couple times.

“Something the matter?” Whithalf asked, seeing Todd’s brow furrow.

“No sir, I just recognized the tune,” Todd replied.

The Pit, The Motorpool
Kate and Conrad
27 February 2002, 1415

“Without a vehicle they can’t have gotten far,” Conrad began as he and Kate walked down one line of parked tanks.

"I just hope Todd doesn't get into another tank again," Kate replied, "A repeat of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is something we don't need."

"I agree, mademoiselle," Conrad replied with a wry grin.

As they walked down the line a bit further Kate asked, "So I'm curious about something."

"What is it?" Conrad asked, coming to a stop and turning to face her.

Kate stopped as well and turned to face the ex-Legionnaire, "So what happens to ex-Legionnaires when they leave the Legion?"

Conrad smirked, "A Sergent-chef once said the following, 'They go insane, they go to jail, they die, they become alcoholics or they fight in other people’s wars'."

"I hope none of those things happen to you," Kate replied after they resumed walking.

"One war was enough," Conrad replied, "I do enjoy the odd pint every now and again, I've got no intention of going to jail, and we all die sometime."

"What about going insane?" Kate asked, "I notice you left that option out."

"What was it that Lewis Carroll said? Ah, 'We're all mad here'."

"I could argue, though, that you are going insane by going native with the Joes," Kate smiled.

Conrad laughed, "Law school most certainly left its mark on you."

"In the same way the Legion left its mark on you," Kate joked.

As they walked further down the line, near the end of it they could hear voices on the other side of one of the parked tanks. Well, more like a tune being hummed and Todd's voice.

"No sir, I just recognized the tune," Todd said.

Conrad tugged at Kate's sleeve and headed around the side of the tank to find General Whithalf and Todd in the middle of a conversation.

"Where do you recognize the tune?" Whithalf said, stopping his humming.

"From Agent Hart, he said it was from the French Foreign Legion," Todd replied, "The song was called Kepis Blanc."

"Huh, I'd always thought that it was the tune to the German song Panzerlied or tanker's song," Whithalf replied.

"Actually, mon general, you are both right," Conrad said as he and Kate walked towards them.

"Excuse me?" Whithalf said.

"The Legion tune, Kepis Blanc, borrows the tune of Panzerlied. The Legion added it to the songbook in the 1940s owing to the large number of Germans we had in the ranks at the time," Conrad replied.

"I did not know that," Whithalf replied, with a small grin, "And I'll hazard a guess that you served in La Legion Etrangere."

"Oui, mon general," Conrad replied, "I apologize, I have been remiss. I am Agent Conrad Hart, ACME Detective Agency and this is Agent Kate Todd, US Secret Service."

“Charmed,” Whithalf said, shaking both of their hands.

“Sir,” Kate interjected, “The others are looking for you two.”

“Let’s not keep them waiting then,” Whithalf said, “Lead the way.”


The Pit, Headquarters Building
Generals Hawk, Flagg, and Bragg
27 February 2002, 1433

General Hawk clenched his jaw to prevent his surprise from showing when he saw General Whithalf walking into the room. To be much more accurate the shock was from who was escorting him.

“Ah, here we are!” A booming, yet friendly voice called out.

Hawk could see Todd Tolansky walking alongside him, with Conrad and Kate in tow. Hopefully Agent Todd and Agent Hart can get Toad out of there without any more incident. Hawk thought.

“Gentlemen, sorry I’m late,” Whithalf said as he approached Hawk, Bragg and Flagg, “But I was having a wonderful conversation with this young man, here. Private...Tonelessly was it?”

“Tolansky, sir!” Todd replied.

“Oh, at ease, private,” Whithalf replied, “Quite a bright fellow.”

“I must be getting old,” Bragg muttered, “These new recruits look younger every year.”

“Yes,” Flagg said, raising an eyebrow, “He doesn’t seem old enough for the Army.”

“Never too young to serve my country when called, sir!” Todd countered.

“Kind of short to be a soldier, isn’t he?” Flagg replied, turning to Hawk.

“Height requirements were lowered last year, sir,” Hawk replied, remembering that that had, indeed been the case.

“Oh, of course,” Bragg replied, before turning to Flagg, “I’m surprised you forgot that, sir.”

The Bragg snapped his fingers at Scarlett, “Alright girl, come get the coffee.”

“What!?” Scarlett shouted.

She is going to kill him and get blood all over the place, Hawk thought.

“Uh, sir!” Todd spoke up, “That’s my job, sir! I do the coffee!”

Hawk caught sight of Conrad and Kate out of the corner of one eye. If those two had been a touch faster with sneaking Todd away…

“I live to serve coffee, sir!” Todd continued.

“Quite right,” Whithalf interjected, “Come on, now, Bragg. This soldier has other, more important, duties to tend to. Come in, private. We wouldn’t want to deprive you of your duty.”

“Thank you, sir!” Todd replied.

As the three generals filed into the conference room, with Agent Baer discreetly following them, Hawk hung back briefly as he thought. I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in Levenworth.

“Uh, is there anything I can do to be of service, sir?” Beach Head managed to squeak out.

“Sorry Soldier,” Bragg replied, “But National Security. You understand. We have to keep this meeting top secret. Okay, private, you may serve the coffee.”

As Bragg nodded to Todd the latter walked into the room. And Beach Head promptly saw his career going down in flames as Todd closed the door behind him, a smile on his face, before locking it.

The Joes in the room, in company with Agents Phillips, Todd, and Hart stared at the door in silence for what felt like hours.

“Okay did what just happen really happen? Or did I imagine it?” Shipwreck asked.

“My career is over,” Beach Head groaned.


To Be Continued...

Author’s Notes: Panzerlied is a German Army tanker’s song that has crossed quite a few national boundaries. It is also said to have influenced the song Kepis Blanc, a French Foreign Legion song.

Additionally the line about Legionnaires post service in the Legion going insane, going to jail, dying, becoming alcoholics, or mercenaries is from Paradraig O'Keefe's book Hidden Soldier which is a good read.
We Three Generals: Part Two​

Disclaimer: Same as before.


The Pit, Conference Room
Generals Hawk, Bragg, Flagg, and Whithalf
27 February 2002, 1605

Thank God Flagg hasn’t said anything yet regarding Todd, Hawk thought to himself. Lord, please, please, please let me make it through this meeting! I will never, ever, do anything bad again.

“Before we adjourn, General Hawk,” Bragg asked, “I’d like to ask about this mutant school that you found.”

Todd’s ears perked up and he narrowly avoided dropping the coffee cup to the floor.

“Professor Xavier runs a small school in New York where he trains mutants to use their powers for the good of mankind,” Hawk replied, noting the look of recognition on Todd’s face.

“Hmph! The only good mutant is a dead mutant,” Bragg said, before folding his arms.

“Sir,” Hawk began, “these aren’t creatures created in a lab, like all Cobra experiments are. They’re just children who happen to be born with these abilities.”

“Poor things,” Whithalf thought, “I mean they can’t help being what they are.”

“We’re monitoring them for now,” Hawk explained, “I have some of my people undercover inside the high school they attend. We have reason to believe Cobra is trying to infiltrate the school to use the mutants for their own means.”

Agent Baer had hung back, watching the conversation among the four generals. This is new to me. Hawk and his people get results, so I’m not too worried about it...yet.

“I still don’t see why we don’t just grab those freaks and put them behind bars where they belong,” Bragg replied.

“Well, it’s pretty obvious,” Whithalf said, “They haven’t done anything wrong. Have they?”

“I don’t see why we can’t just grab them and put them behind bars. Fortunately very few people know that these freaks walk the earth. The fewer the better!” Bragg replied.

“No thanks to you,” Hawk muttered under his breath.

“What?” Bragg asked.

“I said ‘That’s true’,” Hawk replied calmly.

“Reminds me of that blasted Moreauseau incident,” Bragg huffed. “It’s a good thing we wiped out those survivors.”

“You wiped out those survivors!” Hawk exclaimed, standing up from his chair, “They were only civilians! They were sick and dying and you…”

Hawk stopped when he saw the shock on Todd’s face.

“Only because your men were too gutless to do the job,” Bragg countered as he stood up as well.

“I must confess I never understood why you ordered their deaths, Bragg,” Whithalf said softly. “There was no reason for it. They were no threat.”

“They had to be eliminated before they became a threat!” Bragg snapped, slamming an open palm onto the table, “They were too useless to experiment on. They would’ve been terminated anyway. I’m sick of justifying myself to you all. The board cleared me.”

“Yes. But mass genocide doesn’t go well with public opinion, does it?” Flagg replied.

“There were only fourteen of them, hardly genocide,” Bragg sniffed.

“Only fourteen?!” Hawk snapped back, “Only fourteen!?”

“Careful Hawk,” Bragg replied, “I outrank you and I could…”

“Gentlemen this conversation is irrelevant,” Flagg replied, only to be ignored by the others.

“I don’t know,” Whithalf replied thoughtfully, “If Bragg decides to bomb the town of Bayville just to eliminate a few children it could very well become relevant! It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done it.”

“Now wait just a minute you…” Bragg began.

“Quiet!” Whithalf snapped back, “Let’s not forget that I outrank you. I suggest you remember that.”

Quiet descended on the room and then Whithalf continued, “Now, let’s get back to the subject at hand. I am sure Hawk has the situation handled. With him at least we know the students will stay alive.”

“Hmph! Too soft!” Bragg snapped, “Of course you even have a couple muties living on base now, don’t you Hawk? Those Delgato brats in particular! That eldest girl, a stuck up little *****. Should be in a lab someplace instead of running free!”

The sound of a coffee cup shattering echoed into the room.

“What the…?” Bragg said as he turned around to see Todd drop to his knees to clean up the shattered remains of the cup.

How can anyone say such horrible things about Althea?
Todd thought. I can’t believe I’m serving coffee to that...that...that monster!

“He’s in shock over your language,” Whithalf observed.

"He's very new," Hawk added.

"Well he has to learn the facts sometime," Bragg huffed, before he turned to Toad. “You agree with me, don’t you boy? Those sneaky mutants are nothing but trouble. Deadly if left unchecked. Am I right?”

“Oh yes sir,” Todd spoke in a monotone as he stood up to throw away the remains of the broken coffee cup, “You can never tell when one of those sneaky mutants will turn up.”

Todd headed back over to the coffee, grabbing another cup. An evil grin spread across his face as he turned away, his back to the men as he poured a cup of coffee. Extending his tongue he allowed a generous amount of slime to mix with the coffee.

Walking over he handed the cup to Bragg, “More coffee, sir.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Bragg said, taking a generous swig of it.

Although neither Bragg or Whithalf witnessed Todd’s prank, Hawk and Flagg witnessed the entire thing, thanks to a large screen in the conference room.

“Um, how’s the coffee, sir?” Hawk asked, with a minor gulp.

“Good. I say it’s the best cup yet,” Bragg said.

“That’s nice,” Hawk gulped, “So, meeting adjourned?”

“Good idea,” Flagg nodded.

“I need one more cup of coffee for the road,” Bragg said, before turning to Todd, “Private, I want you to make it exactly as it did before.”

Flagg fixed Todd with a knowing look and as his heart raced Todd thought, The jig is up.

"You heard the man," Flagg said, "Do as he says."

"Yes sir," Todd replied, grinning back and doing exactly as he did earlier, turning around to hide his sliming of Bragg's coffee.


The Pit, Headquarters Building
Beach Head, Scarlett, Shipwreck, Roadblock
27 February 2002, 1605

"My career is over. My career is over..." Beach Head replied.

“Beach Head, calm down,” Scarlett said, “Maybe Hawk will pull it off.”

“Yeah, and maybe Cobra Commander will give up being a terrorist and sell toys for a living while wearing a pink Tinkerbell outfit!” Beach Head snapped back. "Why couldn't you have served the coffee? Would it have killed you to serve coffee just this once!?"

Roadblock walked into the room just then, “What’s Beach Head ranting about now?”

Beach Head ignored Roadblock as he continued to address Scarlett, “What am I saying!? You would’ve poured the coffee into his lap before shooting him! I should’ve served the coffee! Why didn’t I think of it? Why couldn’t I have thought about pouring coffee!? AGH!”

“Where’s Todd?” Roadblock asked, “He is scheduled to be working in General Hawk’s office this afternoon. Did one of you manage to sneak him out before the generals arrived?”

“Roadblock, don’t hit the roof but…” Shipwreck began.

“Shipwreck, out with it. Where is Todd?” Roadblock replied.

Shipwreck gestured to the door of the conference room. And as Roadblock’s eyes followed Shipwreck’s gesture two words immediately sprang to mind. Oh no!

“What are we gonna do?” Roadblock began.

“Drink?” Shipwreck said as he produced a bottle of scotch from his backpack, as well as several shot glasses.

“Yeah, the occasion definitely calls for it,” Beach Head replied.

“I’ll have one too,” Scarlett replied as Shipwreck poured shots for the four of them.

“What’s going on?” Kate asked as she walked into the room.

“Roadblock just realized Todd’s in the conference room with Hawk and the visiting generals,” Scarlett supplied.

“Oh, I suppose that’s the reason for the drinking,” Kate replied.

“Look, Agent Todd, we wouldn’t even be in this predicament if you and Agent Hart hadn’t found Todd and General Whithalf wandering around the motor pool,” Beach Head hissed.

“What did you want us to do, separate those two?” Kate asked, “Or deliberately not find them?”

"Both ideas have merit," Beach Head replied.

“And I suppose Todd being in the conference room is cause for drinking scotch?” Kate asked.

“Yes,” Beach Head replied.

“Great, we were trying to calm Beach Head down and now you’ve got him wound up,” Shipwreck grumbled, before holding up another glass, “Drink?”

“No thanks,” Kate replied. Thank God Baer’s in the conference room and can’t see this going on. Or that he hasn’t seen anything else that’s gone on around this include BA’s experimental recipes.


The Pit, Outside the HQ Building
Conrad Hart and Rachel Phillips
27 February 2002, 1610

“So that’s how Whithalf and Todd were found and brought back to the building,” Conrad replied.

And I thought the Berserkers had crazy stories.
Rachel thought to herself as she heard Conrad retelling various accounts of his two weeks at the Pit.

“Alright, now I just have to ask, what’s the deal with this incident I heard you talking about?” Rachel asked.

“Which one?” Conrad replied, “You’ll have to be more specific.”

“I overheard you and Agent Todd mentioning something about the Triplets and the Delgado household,” Rachel replied.

Conrad inclined his head, “Excuse me?”

“Your hearing acting up again?”

“Just went out briefly,” Conrad replied, “Now what was the question again?”

“I remember you sent a report a while back about Shipwreck and his family, to include the Triplets. You seem to believe that they are a good influence on Todd.”

“I believe this to be the case, yes,” Conrad replied, squinting in the late afternoon sun.

“You seemed a bit vague about a couple points,” Rachel replied, “Namely some line about ‘settling disputes in the traditional Delgato manner’?”

D’oh! I shouldn’t have written that line in the report. Merde.
Conrad thought to himself before replying, “The Delgato family don’t hold anything back from each other, they don’t have secrets, and they do love each other greatly.”

“Mayberry description aside, you still didn’t tell me what you meant about ‘settling disputes in the traditional Delgato manner’.”

With a sigh Conrad said, “I was afraid you’d persist on that line of questioning. But they tend to resolve disputes with whipped cream fights.”

“What!?” Rachel asked.

“Exactly what I said, whipped cream fight.”

“Is this an Army unit or a madhouse?”

“My thoughts exactly,” Conrad said as they filed back into the HQ building. As they headed towards the lounge they could hear the sound of still more animated discussion.

The Pit, Headquarters Building
Beach Head, Scarlett, Shipwreck, Kate and Roadblock
27 February 2002, 1633

“I go to Greenland. I go to jail,” Beach Head said as he began tapping his right index finger against his left middle and index fingers alternately, “I go to Greenland. I go to jail. I go to Greenland...Aw who am I kidding, I’m headed for the Big House!”

“Beach Head, calm down, you’re not going to the Big House,” Roadblock replied.

“You bet I’m not!” Beach Head countered, “Maybe if I confess, tell them everything, I can cut a deal!”

“Don’t even think about it!” Shipwreck said as he stood up.

“Try and stop me!” Beach Head said as he stood up to head for the conference room.

“Oh you bet I will!” Shipwreck said, grabbing Beach Head by one arm.

“Hey, come on! Both of you!” Scarlett snapped.

"Cool it, Beach Head!" Kate snapped, narrowly stepping out of the way as Beach Head and Shipwreck began wrestling with one another, "Whoa!"

Beach Head turned around, just barely intercepting the punch that Shipwreck threw. As they continued wrestling around Roadblock and Scarlett tried to split them up.

"Will you guys knock it off!" Kate exclaimed, "Before they hear you in the conference room."

Conrad and Rachel walked into the room just then.

"What the Hell?" Rachel exclaimed as Shipwreck and Beach Head hit the ground and started rolling around.

The conference door creaked open and in rather rapid order Shipwreck and Beach Head rapidly disentangled themselves and rose to their feet. The generals seemed to be having a genial time as they walked by, nodding and talking.

“They’re smiling,” Shipwreck whispered to the others.

“Smiling’s good,” Beach Head gulped in agreement.

“Maybe he did pull it off?” Scarlett replied.

“It looks like it,” Kate replied.

“Unless there’s something missing,” Rachel added.

“Todd looks a bit scared,” Conrad whispered to Roadblock.

“Gentlemen, why don’t you go on ahead,” Flagg said, “I’ve got a few things I’d like to go over with General Hawk.”

Whithalf nodded and indicated for Bragg and Baer to follow him outside. As soon as they were outside Flagg walked over to Todd who promptly came to attention, with a nervous smile.

“Interesting technique, Soldier,” Flagg said with a slight grin, “I’m gonna let this slide. For now. But I’m going to be watching you. General Hawk, we’re going to need to have a little discussion.”

“My office?” Hawk said.

“Oh yes,” Flagg replied. And the two men headed towards Hawk’s office for just that discussion.

“What did you do!?” Beach Head demanded.

“I knew it was too good to be true,” Roadblock sighed.

“What. Did. You. Do!?!?!” Beach Head demanded as he advanced on Todd.

“Back off!” Roadblock replied, stepping between the cringing Todd and the enraged Beach Head.

Then Roadblock turned to face Todd, “Well?”

Todd gulped, his eyes flickering to each face in the room.

“Todd,” Conrad replied, “Tell us what you did?”

“I...I...I…” Todd stammered.

“Out with it!” Beach Head replied.

“Beach Head, stop!” Kate interjected.

“I...I...slimed General Bragg’s coffee,” Todd replied, “But only Hawk and Flagg saw me do it!”

“YOU DID WHAT!?” Beach Head demanded, nearly on the verge of a heart attack.

“You slimed Bragg’s coffee?” Shipwreck yelped, color draining from his face.

“I had too!” Todd protested, “He said bad things about mutants! He called Althea a bad name!”

“What? What did he say?” Shipwreck asked.

“I can’t say it out loud,” Todd replied, shuffling his feet. “It was really bad.”

“So whisper it then,” Shipwreck replied. Todd leaned over and whispered it in Shipwreck’s ear. The sailor turned red with anger.

“AND YOU ONLY SLIMED HIS COFFEE!?” Shipwreck roared.


The Pit, General Hawk’s Office
Generals Hawk and Flagg
27 February 2002, 1744

“Well Hawk,” Flagg said, as Hawk closed the blinds of the office, “I thought I’d seen everything. I mean you and your team have pulled some bizarre stunts. But this one has rapidly become my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, it was well worth it to see Bragg drink the coffee…”

“An explanation is probably overdue, sir,” Hawk replied.

“You think?” Flagg countered. “Okay. From the beginning, who or what is Private Tolansky? If he is in fact a private to begin with.”

“He’s only fifteen,” Hawk began, “And yes, he is a mutant.”

“I figured that part on my own,” Flagg replied, “So where did you get him?”

“Maybe you’d best sit down sir, it’s a bit of a story,” Hawk begin.

“Enlighten me,” Flagg replied.


To Be Continued...
Return to Darkness​

Disclaimer: Same as before…


The Pit, Officer’s Quarters
Todd Tolanksy and Roadblock
27 February 2002, 1815

"Roadblock, I couldn't help it!" Todd pleaded as he sat on the sofa. "I heard what he said, and how he killed those mutants you told me about!"

Tears streamed down the boy's face, "And she he said that ... that ... that ...word about Althea I just snapped! I just couldn't take it! I couldn't!"

"Calm down, boy!" Roadblock snapped. As Todd whimpered, Roadblock softened his tone, "Look, I couldn't tell you what happened because....well, I didn't want you to hate all humans. And it wasn't the army that killed them, it was Bragg's personal firing squad of mercenaries that did it.”

“Why? Why did Hawk turn them over to him?” Todd sniffled.

“Hawk was ordered to turn them over to Bragg for medical treatment. He had no idea that Bragg’s idea of medical treatment was euthanasia…” Roadblock began.

"There was a cover up, wasn't there?" Todd concluded.

“Hawk tried to bring him down,” Roadblock sighed. “He’s still trying. But Bragg’s got too much influence around Washington D.C. Wouldn’t surprise me if he was blackmailing some of them. Which is why you can’t take risks like that! You were lucky that Flagg hates Bragg as much as Hawk does!”

“I got Hawk in trouble, didn’t I?” Todd replied, glumly, eyes growing wide. “I didn’t mean too!”

“Well, what’s done is done,” Roadblock sighed as he sat beside Todd on the sofa. “Look, for what it’s worth, I understand why you did it. Hell, if I were in your position I would have done the same thing.”

Roadblock paused for a moment before adding, “But you’ve got to be careful around other people. Especially non-Joes! Understand?”

“Are they gonna take me away?” Todd asked, shaking.

“No,” Roadblock said, as he hugged him. “I’d never let them do that to you. I promise. Now, I’ll find out what happened, but knowing Flagg it’s likely that nothing will come of this. Why don’t you do some homework, ok?”

“Okay,” Todd said as he nodded feebly and went on to his room.

Somehow he managed to work through a couple algebra problems, even with Bragg's hurtful words ringing through his head. He didn't know that those same cruel words would trigger far more than a petty desire for revenge via a stomach turning prank...


The Pit, Headquarters Building
William Baer and Caitlin Todd
27 February 2002, 1815

"So how do you find working with Agent Hart?" Baer asked Kate as they stood outside the Headquarters building of the Pit.

"It's an interesting experience. If nothing else I'm learning more facts about the French Foreign Legion than I ever thought I'd learn," Kate replied.

"That wasn't what I was getting at, Agent Todd," Baer began, indicating Agents Phillips and Hart who were talking out of earshot of them near the flagpole.

"Then what were you getting at?" Kate asked, before it clicked, "You want to know if I assess Conrad as any sort of threat, right?"

"Right. After all he has training in explosives and demolition, combat experience, and served in the armed forces of another nation..." Baer began.

"Another nation that is fighting alongside us in Afghanistan," Kate replied.

"Point made, but I still would like your initial assessment on Hart," Baer insisted, "Given his background before he joined the Legion included being booted out of the San Diego State University NROTC program during his senior year. It was in his dossier."

With a sigh Kate replied, "I don't assess him as a threat. And honestly he really hasn’t said anything about the past.”

“That could be an indicator.”

“I don’t think that fact by itself indicates him as a threat, but I’ll keep an eye on anything suspicious.”

“Good,” Baer replied, eyes scanning over and noticing that Flagg walked out of the building with General Hawk in tow as he went to speak with the others.

Meanwhile Conrad and Rachel were talking near the flagpole.

“How have you found working with Agent Todd?” Rachel asked.

“Not bad, I find her to be an observant, inquisitive sort of person,” Conrad replied, eyes narrowing, “Why?”

“I’ll be straight with you, Conrad. Baer requested your dossier, all of it,” Rachel replied.

“Why?” Conrad asked.

“Well, think about it, Hart,” Rachel replied, “To the Secret Service you’re an enigma, an American who served eight years in the French Foreign Legion who joined up after some unpleasant circumstances after college. You have training in explosives and demolitions, combat experience, they would have to view you as a potential threat.”

“Kate hasn’t mentioned anything of that to me,” Conrad countered.

"No reason she would, but I'd be careful about what you bring up around her."

"If it's in my file and it comes up, I'll answer truthfully. That's the best I can do."

"Alright, Conrad, that's good enough. Just be careful."


Rachel glanced over, noticing Baer and the three generals starting to head for the car to the airport.

“I’ve got to get going,” Rachel said, “Keep me appraised at what’s going on.”

Conrad nodded, and as the generals departed with Rachel and Baer in tow, he headed back over to Kate.

“So, should we chance the mess hall for dinner or break into the food supply?” Conrad asked.

“I’d say avoid the mess hall,” Kate replied, “I caught a glimpse the main menu item. It’s BA’s Fourteen Alarm Chili.”

“I’d say that’s grounds for it,” Conrad replied as they headed back to the apartment.

The Pit, Officer’s Quarters
Conrad Hart and Kate Todd
27 February 2002, 1915

Kate put her own plate onto the table shortly after Conrad had done so. The former Legionnaire seemed deep in thought to her, as she noticed his eyebrows scrunched together. Maybe a softer line of questioning might work in this case.

"So where did you go to college?" Kate asked.

"San Diego State University," Conrad replied, looking up, "Why do you ask?"

He's no idiot, of course he would pick up on a soft line of questioning. I can't believe Baer would be so suspicious of Hart. But I do have to exercise my due diligence. Kate thought to herself as Conrad regarded her for a few moments.

With a sigh Kate replied, "I'm not going to lie to you, Conrad. My boss, Agent Baer, has a few misgivings about you."

With a slight and mirthless laugh Conrad replied, "No doubt due to my service in the French Foreign Legion, training in demolitions and mining from the Legion, and my past history at San Diego State."

"Well attending San Diego State and being kicked out of its NROTC unit are both in your file."

"This is true, mademoiselle, but let it be known that I am no threat. I did pay the price for the hot headed indiscretion of earlier years," Conrad replied, and tapped the scars near his left ear as emphasis.

"But..." Kate began. Conrad raise his left hand.

"If you'll allow me to finish, I am no threat. I have no further way other than my own word to tell you so."

"No offense, Conrad, but while I believe you, my superiors in the Secret Service probably might have a few reservations about taking you at your word."

"I have no grievances as my misfortune all those years ago was entirely of my making. And I paid the price for it."

"Alright. I'll make sure my reports to Baer indicate as much."

"Thank you," Conrad replied.

Shortly after they’d finished eating Conrad headed over to the refrigerator and withdrew a bottle of Courvoisier.

“Care for a drink? I do believe it’s been that sort of day,” Conrad replied.

“You developed a taste for cognac in the French Foreign Legion?” Kate asked, with a raised eyebrow.

“From one of my old mates, Count Holck,” Conrad replied.

“You had members of European nobility in the Legion?” Kate asked, incredulous.

“Throughout its history a few such folks have joined our ranks, usually fleeing some kind of conflict,” Conrad began, “In Holck’s case that was a nickname we had for him. He was a former officer in the East German Army and when that country ceased to exist the new German Army had no place for him. So naturally the Legion was a refuge.”

“How did he wind up with the nickname of Count Holck?” Kate asked.

“Because he was an officer in another country’s army, our NCOs gave him that nickname out of sarcasm.”

“Was he an actual Count?”

“Funny story behind that: one of the guys researched his last name and it turned out he is a descendant of former Prussian nobility,” Conrad replied.

“Let me guess, he finished his contract or deserted and went back to his estate in Germany and is now drinking cognac in a smoking jacket?”

“Nope, his part of Germany, East Prussia, was annexed by the Soviets after World War II. It doesn’t exist any more. So as far as I can tell he’s still in the Legion, having been promoted to sergent.”

“Wow, you know some really interesting people.”

“Back on the subject, care for a drink?” Conrad asked.

“It’s been that kind of day.”

Conrad headed over and poured a couple glasses, handing one to Kate before he capped the bottle and tucked it away in the freezer. Carrying his own glass he joined Kate at the sofa in the small living room.

“To Count Holck,” Conrad said, raising his glass.

“To Count Holck,” Kate replied with a slight smile, “And to the fact that you know some very interesting people.”

“Touche, mademoiselle.”

It had been some hours later, after finishing their respective drinks and unwinding from the day that they heard a scream.

Conrad and Kate briefly looked at one another before Conrad added, “Another nightmare for Todd.”

“I get the feeling tomorrow is going to be an interesting day.”

The Pit, Officer’s Quarters
Roadblock and Todd
27 February 2002, 2245

With a scream Todd had awakened. Crying and sniffling he cast off the blankets and made his way out of his bedroom, down the hallway, and towards Roadblock’s room. Trembling, he opened the door to find Roadblock sound asleep.

Without hesitation he shot under the covers like a small child and lay next to Roadblock. I feel like such a little kid. Todd thought. But it’s the only way to make these nightmares stop! I haven’t felt this safe around an adult since Mom died…

Roadblock’s stirring jerked Todd out of that line of thinking. The powerfully built Joe turned, eyes still shut, “Kid, are you in my bed again?”

Todd whimpered a tiny ‘yes’ to answer and then Roadblock replied, “Another nightmare?”

After Todd whimpered again, Roadblock sighed. “Okay, you know you’re way to old for this. But I guess you can’t help it. First thing in the morning we are going to have a little talk with Psyche-Out and find a way to stop these nightmares once and for all. Got it?”

Todd made a third whimper.

“Fine,” Roadblock sighed, “You can stay this last time, now go to sleep.”

Todd instinctively snuggled next to him, making contented whimpers of calming down. He laid his head on Roadblock’s chest, listening to his heartbeat, and fell asleep near instantly afterward.

With another sigh Roadblock groaned while absently stroking Todd’s hair, “I must be crazy. That’s it, stress, sleep deprivation...I’m starting to believe I’m this kid’s mom. I need a vacation!”

He opened his eyes and looked down at Todd’s sleeping form.

“Kinda cute when he’s asleep. More than can be said when he’s awake at times. He’s not that bad a kid though. I can’t believe I just said that! I’m even used to the smell!”

Todd made a contented sound. Then Roadblock felt Todd’s long tongue lick his cheek, like a baby animal showing affection for its parent.

“I must be going crackers,” Roadblock groaned as he felt the slime dribble down his cheek. “I’m even used to that!


The Pit, Medical Center
Psyche-Out, Roadblock, Kate, and Conrad
28 February 2002, 0955

“Psyche-Out, you gotta help me!” Roadblock pleaded while sitting in the small break room. Todd was currently undergoing his chemistry lesson with Airtight in the science lab across the street.

Psyche-Out listened carefully as Roadblock drank half his fifth cup of coffee. He was about to reply when there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Psyche-Out said, and nodded in acknowledgment as Conrad and Kate walked into the room.

“After you, mademoiselle,” Conrad said, letting Kate walk in through the open door before him.

As the two agents sat at the table with Roadblock and Psyche-Out, Kate began, “I thought we’d find you here.”

“I gather Todd had another nightmare?” Conrad asked.

“Yes,” Roadblock said with a sigh.

“Anyway, Roadblock, you were saying?” Psyche-Out said.

Roadblock drained his cup of coffee and then went over to the coffee pot for yet another cup, “The kid drives me crazy enough during the day! At night he’s impossible! I can’t even get mad at the kid for this! With these nightmares he’s like a little lost tadpole! Comes into my room and looks at me with those big baby froggy eyes and I just don’t have the strength to kick him out.”

“Well it’s not totally unheard of,” Psyche-Out replied.

“What’s not entirely unheard of?” Conrad asked.

“Cases of regression sometimes happen in children after a traumatic experience,” Psyche-Out replied.

“Or experiences,” Kate replied, “From the pictures I saw there were at least a couple scars that were months old.”

“You say Todd climbs into bed with you? Every night?” Psyche-Out asked, after nodding in acknowledgement.

“For the past two weeks,” Roadblock affirmed, “When he first came I had to sit up with the kid in his own room. I thought it would pass. But it keeps getting worse. Now he just sneaks into my room and snuggles next to me like I’m some kind of oversized teddy bear…”

“Well, Psyche-Out did just say that regression happens to children after trauma,” Conrad replied.

Roadblock glared at Conrad briefly before adding, “...and he even licks my face while he sleeps. like a puppy.”

“Okay...that’s a little strange,” Kate began.

“Well it could be worse, he could be doing other things in your bed, Roadblock,” Psyche-Out interjected.

“Trust me, none of you have ever had a tongue bath from this kid. Not much else is worse.”

“Well,” Kate replied, “As Psyche-Out said earlier child regression does happen after severe trauma and what Magneto did to Todd definitely qualifies.”

“In a way, this behavior is a positive sign?” Psyche-Out added.

“How is this so? He’s fifteen and his behavior is reminiscent of a toddler or small child?” Conrad asked.

“Could you not be so blunt?” Kate commented, “This isn’t the Legion.”

“Before get any more distracted,” Roadblock replied, “How is that positive?”

“Well this shows how strong his attachment to you has become. He obviously sees you as a father figure. He wouldn’t keep coming into your room if there wasn’t a bond there,” Psyche-Out replied, before calmly sipping on his coffee.

“Wonderful,” Roadblock groaned. “He likes me. Now what?”

"You're not fooling anyone Roadblock," Kate replied, as she made a couple notes on her PDA, "I can see how much you care for the kid."

"That's only a good thing," Conrad added, "My reports back to ACME have been saying as much."

"We have to get to the root of his nightmares," Psyche-Out replied, "I strongly believe they're at least partially rooted in an abandonment complex."

At Conrad's quizzical look Kate added, "Mostly fears of rejection, or being cast out of a group. Like what Magneto did to him."

Conrad nodded, "And the kid did tell us about other abuses he endured beforehand as well."

"I suggest that today we start with some intense psychotherapy," Psyche-Out began, "Perhaps by delving into the past we can find some answers over the next few weeks..."

"Few weeks!?" Roadblock yelped, "I don't think I can last another few days!"

With a sigh, Psyche-Out set his coffee mug down, "Then I suppose we'd best get started. Right away."


The Pit, Medical Center
Todd, Roadblock, Psyche-Out, Kate, and Conrad
28 February 2002, 1330

Todd’s eyes flickered from the overhead lights, glowing with long halogen glass rods, to the white painted walls, to the black and white checker pattern floor to the faces of the four adults in the room.

As he sat in the cloth upholstered chair his eyes flickered from Conrad to Kate to Roadblock and then to Psyche-Out alternately. Noticing their expressions. They’re trying to look calm, they’re trying not to make me nervous.

His eyes flicked to Psyche-Out, and that made him even more nervous. I mean the man explained what was gonna go on, and what was going to happen and…

“Todd,” Kate said, gently, “What’s wrong?”

“Are you sure this isn’t going to hurt me?” Todd said as he looked over to Psyche-Out.

Psyche-Out shook his head. “You won’t feel a thing. Now just relax and listen to the sound of my voice.”

As Todd did so, he relaxed against the chair, unconscious. Roadblock, Kate and Conrad watched him fall under Psyche-Out’s control and then Psyche-Out motioned Roadblock to Todd’s side.

“Listen to me,” Psyche-Out said, “Take Roadblock’s hand.”

Todd complied, as Conrad turned to Kate with a quizzical look. Kate turned to Conrad and said, “I’ve heard of hypnotherapy before, but I’ve never seen it in action till today. It’s still in its experimental stages.”

“Now when you feel scared or uneasy about what you see just give his hand a squeeze and there will be no pain. You will still see everything but the pain will be gone. You will be safe. It will be like you are describing what is happening to someone else. Do you understand?” Psyche-Out asked Todd.

“Yes,” Todd replied softly.

“I want you to go to the point just before the bad people start hurting you.” Psyche-Out said, “Tell me where you are and how old you are.”

"I...I'm nine years old," Todd replied, voice very small, "I'm being sent to another orphanage. They keep moving me from place to place because nobody wants me there. Especially the adults. They keep saying an ugly child like me ruins the atmosphere."

"How did you get to the orphanage?" Psyche-Out asked.

"After my dad...he hurt my mommy very badly. He hit her hard, she fell down, and she didn't get up again. They took me away from him," Todd whimpered as he squeezed Roadblock's hand, pausing for a while with a sob punctuated by a small hiccup.

Kate blinked slightly. That's the worst thing about law enforcement. Cases that involve kids, especially abuse cases.

Kate took a glance over at Conrad. Knowing that he viewed violence against children to be especially distasteful.

"Batard," Conrad muttered as he heard about how Todd's mother had been killed by the abusive Mr. Tolansky.

"I was only seven when she died. Since then I was stuck in a lot of places where nobody wanted me. Then when I was nine...I think there was a fire in one place and I ran away and wound up living on the streets. I think this was the place, the next place I wound up in. Yes, I know it is, but I was only there a few months..."

Kate turned to Conrad, as she noticed the cold expression on the ex-Legionnaire's face, "I thought you should know that I looked up the case Todd described. Apparently Mr. Tolansky was murdered in prison."

"The prick got what he deserved," Conrad replied evenly.

"As much as I find your somewhat brutal sense of justice questionable, I agree with you for once," Kate replied softly.

"Tell me about this last orphanage. What was it like?" Psyche-Out asked.

"Scary," Todd whimpered and squeezed Roadblock's hand again, feeling his guardian return the clasp.

"They took away my clothes and made me wear this hospital uniform. They locked me in my room. They tried to take Hopper from me but I cried and cried so they left him alone."

"Who's Hopper?" Psyche-Out asked.

"My stuffed frog. My mommy gave me him so I would always feel safe and warm."

"Is this the place where the bad things happened to you?"

"Yes," Todd replied, sniffling.

Kate felt the lump rise in her throat as she heard Todd's confirmation. It hurts to hear all this, but we need to hear this so we can put a stop to this.

"Do you remember seeing any other children there?" Psyche-Out asked.

"One or two. They were usually in wheelchairs and they didn't talk much. They looked sick. Then again I was always locked in my room."

"Tell me what happened," Psyche-Out softly asked.

Kate noticed both Roadblock and Conrad visibly brace themselves, as if against physical blows. From what little either of them have told me about Moreauseau those memories are at least as intense as a punch to the gut.

Todd squeezed Roadblock's hand tightly before he went on, "I'm in this strange room. It looks like a doctor's office. There are people in white lab coats examining me. I'm afraid. They keep touching and poking me with cold and sometimes sharp metal implements."

"For the love of God..." Conrad whispered.

Kate fixed him with a quizzical expression.

Conrad replied, "I saw the end credits of experiments like these when we raided Cobra labs. But this kid was there from the previews all the way to the bonus material."

"This one doctor...she's very scary. She straps me down to this table, even holding my head in place so I can't move. The she puts some kind of cover over the rest of my body. Then the next thing I know some kind of green water is all over me, except for my head. My body is in the tube with the water and my head is sticking out. It's very uncomfortable."

Kate felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end, and with an audible gulp she whispered to Conrad, "I don't want to hear any more of this, but I know we have to listen to the whole thing."

"It sounds like something right out of a horror movie," Conrad agreed, "But we need to know what happened to the kid."

Todd began to shake and started to cry, "It hurts! It feels like someone is burning me and punching me all over at the same time! I'm crying and telling them to stop. But the doctor lady tells them to ignore me! It hurts more and more and I'm crying and pleading for them to stop! But they don't! Why don't they stop hurting me? I'm just a little kid!"

"Todd, listen to me!" Psyche-Out said, "You can't feel them hurting you anymore. The bad things they're doing to you are over. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Todd sniffled, "But they leave me in that thing for a long time and talk about stuff I don't understand. It sounds like they're putting stuff in my body. They did a lot of other bad stuff to me too."

"Like what?"

"They keep sticking me with needles and attach wires to my head. They do this to me once a day. Every day. I keep asking why they're doing this. The mean doctor lady tells me to shut up and that this is all for my own good. But it hurts. Why is she so mean?" Todd said.

"Do you remember what the bad people look like? Can you describe them?"

"The mean doctor lady was, wait...I'm lying down and she's talking to someone. I can't see her face but her voice has changed and she looks different too. But I'm so tired and weak. I can't tell what's going on."

"Todd, I want you to take a closer look at the lady's face," Psyche-Out said.

Todd sniffled again, squeezing Roadblock's hand. Roadblock squeezed Todd's hand, "It's ok, Todd, I'm here for you..."

"You can do this," Psyche-Out added, "Describe to me what you see."

Todd looked closer. Remembering.

He could see the doctor's face now. Recognizing that it had changed in the hallway. Before he had thought he imagined it. But now he could see it wasn't true. He could see the face clearly now. And it was one he knew well.

"N-No," Todd trembled, "NO!"

"Todd, what is it? What do you see?" Psyche-Out asked.

Todd didn't answer and he shot up and out of his chair. Psyche-Out barely managed to get out of the way.

Todd started trashing the room, kicking holes in the wall and overturning furniture. Kate barely managed to dodge a kick that punched a hole into the wall. She turned to help Roadblock, Conrad, and Psyche-Out try and restrain Todd.

"Todd, what's the matter? What is it?" Psyche-Out asked.


"Todd, who lied to you?" Psyche-Out said, managing to get a hold of the struggling teen, "Who was it? Who did you see?"

"MYSTIQUE!" Todd screamed before collapsing on the floor, sobbing.


To Be Continued...

Status Updates

Omar wrote on Shada Steele's profile.
Oh, a fellow parkour junkie. I think this might be fun, no matter what side you end up going with.
Charlet wrote on Shada Steele's profile.
Yay my big sister
Chase wrote on Contessa's profile.
I find it suspicious that all the 'Happy Birthday Contessa' wishes are coming from ACME agents...

New Journals

Neutral Grounds
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    Chase Chase: @Joe Kerr, check the page, see if this is the theatre image you remembered? Stone Harbour