So, I got this idea for a LoEG fic stuck in my head for a while. So I decided to do it. Here I go!
Against the Day.
By Mashu the Assassin.
Chapter 1: Elevators, Nick Fury, Cabbage.
The dream began in an elevator.
It wasn't a small elevator, or a private elevator. This elevator had more in common with a freight elevator. It was large, wide, and supported by dozens of steel cables to pull itself up. It did so slowly. So slowly, it was hard to tell if it was moving. You had to look outside and see the moving cables and the cranking gears in action to give yourself a sense of movement. The elevator was on the third floor, and was supposed to go to the twelfth. This gave a person plenty of time for a person to get bored. Or, if one had a guest (as it was in this case), it left so much time for talk.
Inside the elevator were three leather couches. Black, with only a few signs that the sofas were not brand new: The occasional crease, a sign that the couch had a few too many people on it a few times, and the smell of leather was long since gone in favor of a smell of cleaning fluid.
On the sofas was one person each. On the center couch was an old man, his hair having fled the top of his head in favor of the back of his skull. He had a large nose, almost like a caricature would, hooked to make him look like Fagin's twin. He wore a black three piece suit, his tie perfectly fit and his jacket and pants without wrinkles,
On the rightmost couch was a woman who looked to be in her early 20's. She had skin the color of a full peach, and pale blond hair kept in a strange hairstyle. In her hands was a large tome, about 8 1/2x 11 inches and with about 2,000 pages. She wore a strange style of clothing, as if combining an evening dress with a trench coat, resulting in a sea-blue coat with high socks and gold buttons.
Lastly, on the last couch, directly facing the first one, sat a man in his early 20's. He looked to be half-Japanese, with scraggy black hair that looked overgrown. He wore an orange jumpsuit, indicating that he was in a prison at some point. He looked nervous, playing with his long fingers and twitching.
"Relax, Adachi-kun." The old man said to him. "You are in no danger."
"Easy for you to say," Adachi replied. "You aren't a murderer."
The old man laughed. It was a low laugh, a chuckle that seemed to mark amusement rather than humor. "Adachi, Adachi." The man said. "Be true to yourself. You know you didn't do it."
This got a reaction out of Adachi. He stopped fiddling with his hands, and looked up at the man.
"What do you mean?" Adachi asked, cautious that the man had something up his sleeve.
The old man continued. "There's a very big difference between what we see, and what we actually saw. You saw yourself killing someone, but did it really happen?"
"They had evidence! I know I did it!"
"Evidence can be forged. It's not impossible. People have escaped on it."
Adachi looked downwards. It was clear he didn't intend to keep talking. The woman looked over to the older man.
"Igor-sensei, he won't listen."
Igor waved his hand at his pupil as if he were swatting a fly.
"It's understandable, Margaret. Two murders, deception by a goddess, it's not hard to understand why he feels such despair." Igor answered.
Cards appeared on the table.
"Do you want me to tell your fortune, Adachi?"
Adachi grunted out a response Igor took for a yes. The cards shuffled themselves, and appeared on the table. Igor flipped one over.
"The Hanged Man Arcana in the Reversed Position. This cared represents the near future, in which a supposedly guilty party's innocence is revealed."
Igor flipped over a second card.
"The World Arcana in the Upright Position. This card represents the immediate future, in which a person comes to terms with himself for the good of all."
The third card was flipped.
"The Universe Arcana, Reversed Position. This represents the far future, and end of things, a threat to everyone that eclipses everything, a event that can make the battle earlier this year look like a minor scuffle. Fortunately, you have time to prevent this."
Adachi looked up.
"Yes, you. You will be assigned an important duty, Adachi, and it is your destiny to fulfill it."
Adachi shook his head. He had put up with this long enough. He was leaving. He tried to stand, but realized he could not move.
"This may be a dream, Adachi. But what I have told you is the truth. Margaret will make sure that you understand this in your journey together."
Margaret broke her stoic expression.
"Me? B-but sensei-"
"Hush now. You and I both know you have mastered all that I have taught you. Now it is time for you to leave. Your brother William will be taking your place."
Margaret opened her mouth, as if to argue, but closed it. She knew Igor was right. Margaret turned to Adachi.
"I will see you tomorrow outside the asylum."
Adachi saw everything go white, and then he woke up.
Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
January 1, 2012
"Wakey wakey, 'Dachi! It's a new year, and it's time to party!"
Adachi opened his eyes, feeling well rested and rejuvenated, unusual for him these days. He looked up to see a man with a purple suit, badly dyed green hair, and makeup that looked more like war paint dancing in front of his cell.
Adachi realized who this was immediately, and could hardly believe this man was out and about.
"Joker? You're out of your cell?" he said, speaking in English for Joker to understand.
"Indeed, 'Dachi old chum! Time to go back to Gotham and cause some good old fashioned mayhem, Joker style!"
"Batman is going to catch you, you know." Adachi said. He saw Joker go stiff, stopping his dance. He looked into Joker's eyes, seeing a combination of excitement and rage. Adachi thanked the fact that he was in his cell. He had seen Joker hurt people who mentioned Batman, and it wasn't pretty. Soon, Joker's usual manic personality returned, and he turned back to Adachi.
"Ahhh… I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. See you later!"
The Joker cackled one last time, and ran to escape as the alarms went off. Adachi sighed, knowing that the Joker would be caught soon enough and that all would go back to normal in Arkham Asylun soon enough. It was a law of nature, practically. Batman would fight Joker, tracing him through some ingenious method. They would fight, Joker would lose, and he would head back to Arkham only to do it all again in a couple of weeks. He had seen the whole thing happen twice since he had been here, and it wasn't going to stop anytime soon.
Adachi looked at his watch, 9 AM. Joker would have escaped by now and things would go back to normal.
Adachi was right. The alarms stopped, and a wave of calm washed over everyone. It meant that the SWAT team that was designed specifically to catch Joker had been sent out and that the chase had begun. They were safe, so now the citizens were the ones that had to worry.
Adachi leaned back in his bed. He had no counseling sessions today, so he didn't have to see anyone until lunch.
Adachi leaned back to close his eyes when he heard a loud 'BANG'!.
Adachi sat back up to see one of the guards hat hit the bars of his cell with his nightstick. Adachi recognized this as a guard telling a patient it was time for an appointment when he didn't know (or couldn't remember) his name.
"What are you doing? I'm not scheduled for today."
The guard looked up at him. Adachi saw the guard. He recognized that it was Aaron Rogers, a guard that was famously aggressive. Normally Arkham wouldn't hire that sort of person, but Rogers was an Engineering major in college, and was able to build a number of the devices used to house some of the more hostile inmates, and so he was brought on.
"Rogers, are you deaf? I AM NOT SCHEDUELD FOR ANY APPOINTMENTS."
Rogers remained silent, barley acknowledging that Adachi was there. He reached for his key ring and took a long thin key, unlocking Adachi's cell and grabbing him, handcuffing his wrists.
"Stop it! Aren't you listening?"
Finally, Rogers answered.
"You got a visitor, Adachi. They want to see you."
Aaron grabbed Adachi by the collar and dragged Adachi down the hall. Adachi made a mental note to ask Hannibal Lecter to annoy Aaron the next time he saw him. Finishing that, Adachi wondered who on earth would want to see him. Those kids in Inaba who had caught him were still in Japan, his parents were dead, and his sister was in Europe. His best guess was Dojima, but he would never travel 1,200 miles to see him.
Finally, Adachi was led into the visitor's room, and was pushed in the room. He heard Aaron lock the door behind him, and there he was.
Alone in the dark.
Who was the idiot that forgot to turn on the lights?
Adachi stood up, fumbling around the walls for a light switch. He found one in no time, and flicked it. The lights came on, and he turned to see who his visitor was.
He couldn't believe it.
It was him.
It wasn't the same him, he knew. This Adachi was dressed in a suit, and had his hair cut shorter. It was him on the police force.
With the exception of his face.
His mouth was curved into a twisted smile, and his eyes were yellow.
Adachi was looking at his shadow.
But that was impossible. Shadows only existed in the other world on the other side of the TV. His shadow had somehow crossed over.
"How are you here?" Adachi asked, falling into the seat. The shadow chuckled, a low distorted sound that hurt Adachi's ears.
"You know why I'm here. I'm here because you decided to just sit on your ass and get framed for killing those girls. I'm here to make you realize that you're a disgrace. Your father was a first class detective, as good as any Holmes or Shirogane, and you fucked up. You decided to be guilty instead of prove you were innocent."
"I WAS guilty! I WANTED those girls to die!"
"Idiot. We both know that you only saw the murders. You didn't do it, and neither did Izanami. Quit deluding yourself."
"No… I know I did it! You're wrong!"
"Get it into your head already: You. Were. Innocent. WANTING something is not the same as doing it. You WANTED Mayumi Yamano and Saki Konishi dead, but you didn't kill them. Someone else did."
"That's crazy! You… You're lying!"
"Admit it. You know the truth. If I know this, you know this. We're the same person, after all."
"No… You can't be…"
"Watch what you say! No one to help you here."
Adachi's eyes widened. He knew that if he denied his shadow, it would kill him. No one could fight it off for him, and by the time someone like that came along, he would be dead. But still, it couldn't be him. It knew things he didn't know.
But Shadows were a person's unconsciousness. The side that held the things they didn't want to admit. Maybe… Maybe…
"You're sure you are my Shadow?"
"Is cabbage tasty?"
Adachi sighed. He would have said the exact same thing. This was his Shadow, alright.
"You're right. You are me. I wanted to feel like I did it, I wanted to take the fall. I thought I was a horrible person because I wasn't how I wanted to be, but that's selfish. Everyone is like that. I… I hate myself for that. But I'm not going to deny myself or the facts anymore. You're me."
The shadow nodded, and disappeared into a ball of light. It flew above Adachi, and materialized into something else.
Floating above was a nine foot tall creature. It had a mask on, one side white with a smile, the other side black with a frown. It wore a black-and-white checkered trenchcoat, and had a black and white kimono on underneath. In its hands was a scythe with a blade on each side.
Thou art I…
And I art Thou…
You have awakened me…
Your Persona, Hades…
Of the Hanged Man Arcana….
Hades was enveloped in the same white light, and re-appeared as a card. Adachi picked it up and placed it in his shirt pocket.
"So, for some reason, I can materialize my persona in the real world, huh?" Adachi said to himself. "Awesome."
Adachi heard the door open, and saw Aaron Rogers duck his head in.
"Turns out I put you in the wrong room. My apologies, I'll take you to the right one."
Adachi smiled. "No worries. Let's go."
Adachi saw Rogers' eyes widen as he stood up from the chair and walked out the door. "Lead the way." Adachi said as Aaron stood dumbfounded. Rogers probably got little cooperation from the inmates. Maybe he wouldn't tell Lecter to spook Rogers after all.
Rogers regained his mind, and led Adachi three doors down.
Adachi had, admittedly, little idea who exactly he was going to meet, but he didn't expect THIS man to meet him.
Sitting at the table was a black man in his mid forties, wearing a leather trenchcoat, gloves, pants, vest, and eye patch.
"Tohru Adachi?" he barked as Adachi sat down. Adachi nodded. "I'm Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I'm here to talk to you."
"Your case, of course."
"I didn't do it."
"Well, that's a surprise, because according to your file, you turned yourself in to the murder of two women in Inaba, Japan."
"I took the fall so the town could stay peaceful."
"That's goddamn stupid. Especially considering that A: You didn't do it, and B. THERE WAS A NEW MURDER THREE DAYS AGO!"
Adachi's eyes widened. Not just from the man's yelling, but from the fact there was a new murder.
"The victim was one Akane Sobaki. She ran a general store in the shopping district. She was found dead hanging up from the same TV wire the last two victims were. Since you obviously couldn't kill her from 1,200 miles away, you've been found innocent. They found out you took the fall and everything."
"So… what now?"
"You're free to go. Just pick up your clothes at the front."
"Is that all you came to talk to me about?"
"Actually, no. But this information is confidential, so I'm taking you to a place we can talk more privately. I'll be waiting outside."
With that, Nick Fury left the room. Adachi just sat there, flabbergasted. This was insane. He was leaving Arkham, and some American wanted him to do something. Why did this stuff happen to him all the time?
The door opened.
"Adachi? It's Rogers. You're free to go."
Adachi sat in the locker room, dressed in a long sleeved blue tee-shirt and dark blue jeans. He put on his watch, slipped on his sneakers, and stood up. Looking himself over in the mirror, he decided to keep his hair long. He always perfered having it a little long to the shorter cut he had as a detective.
Standing up, he walked out of the asylum as the Joker was being hauled back in, Batman holding him by the collar.
" Hello, 'Dachi! Didn't work out so much on the mayhem part! Good thing I still got the rest of the day! Have fun on the outside!"
Batman chopped Joker in the back just as he started to laugh. At the same time, he turned to look behind at Adachi, making eye contact.
Adachi gave Batman a small nod and both continued on their respective paths.
As Adachi went further down the hill, he saw that Margaret, the woman from his dream, was at the halfway point. She was dressed the same way, and still carried the huge book.
"Good to see you." Adachi said. Margaret nodded, not saying a word. Adachi found the mood to be awkward, alone with Margaret, neither saying a word.
"So, you're supposed to help me do whatever I'm supposed to do."
Margaret looked around, making sure no one was there. She moved up closer to Adachi, until they were only inches apart.
"Listen." Margaret said firmly. "Igor has, for reasons known only to him and his master, has kicked me out of the Velvet Room."
"So THAT was the place I was in last night, hmm?"
"I said listen, not talk. Anyway, I am no longer a resident of the realm the Velvet Room is located, and thus am a mortal. I have lived just as long as Izanami, and I have no intention of being mortal. If I help you complete your task, I might be able to return to the Velvet Room. So let's go."
Straight to the point and aggressive. Adachi didn't know whether to afraid or turned on. Still, he couldn't get out of this situation, so he might as well enjoy it.
Adachi began to walk further down the hill, dodging Margaret. After a few yards, he look back at her.
"Coming?" he asked. Margaret glared at him, then followed him. They walked the rest of the hill side by side.
Adachi and Margaret, after reaching the end of the hill, saw Nick Fury standing at the dock, a boat behind him and looking furious.
"There you are." He said as Adachi and Margaret walked to meet him. "What the hell took you so long? Did you see Batman escorting Joker back to Arkham? Did you get giddy seeing Batman? Well, did you?"
"Shut up, will you?" Margaret said, folding her arms. Fury spun over to make eye contact with her.
"Who the fuck are you? Do you realize that this man and I have business concerning international security?"
Without a word, Margaret flipped out a leather wallet, the same kind policeman carry badges in. She opened it, and showed it to Fury. Fury examined it with his one good eye. After a minute, he sighed.
"Alright, you're a part of this now." Fury said, turning on one heel leaving for the boat. Adachi turned his head to see Margaret putting away the badge holder.
"What did you show him?"
Margaret smiled. "Oh, that? It's just a little enchantment I had done; it creates an illusion of the ideal thing for the situation. For instance, it showed Fury that I was a high level federal agent assigned to monitor you."
Margaret blushed slightly, and they headed to the boat.
Fury led Adachi and Margaret off the boat and into a small noodle bar. Adachi ordered for all three of them. Fury received some ramen, while Margaret had a bowl of udon and Adachi a bowl of beef soba with cabbage.
"Goddamn, this is good!" Fury exclaimed as he slurped the ramen. "What's this stuff called?"
"Ramen." Adachi answered. Fury nodded. "Right, ramen. I got to get some more of this shit later." Margaret sighed and ate her udon. She liked the noodles, it tasted like what the Velvet Room's food was like.
After Adachi and Margaret had eaten half their bowl (and Fury had ordered his second) Fury looked straight at them.
"Alright you two, I don't know if you know yet, but some serious shit is about to go down."
"I'll explain: A couple of months ago, there were three break-ins at three different places within three days: Kong Studios in England, Area 51, and the Justice League Watchtower."
"Isn't that thing in space."
"Yes, which makes it worst. Last month, we got a call from the thief. He claimed that at the end of the year, he would rule the world. Two weeks ago, a group known as the First Church of The Voice staged a violent assault in New York City, killing an enormous number of people in the media. Three days ago, the killer you pretended to be shows up. These events are connected to the same thief. Whoever he is, he's trying something and we want you to find out who he is and stop him."
Adachi looked at Fury in disbelief. "You want ME, of all people, to stop a man who can break into the Watchtower, organize a cult, and more. You're crazy! Why not get superheroes to do this?"
Fury grabbed Adachi by the collar, bringing them face to face. "Superheroes aren't as great as you think: We got a unit that gets rid of rogue superheroes, and they're good at it. Superheroes are just super. What I need is extraordinary."
Fury nodded, letting Adachi go. From his coat, he pulled out a file and tossed it at Margaret, who caught it easily.
"Inside that file are seven people besides you two who are going to assist you in taking down this asshole that wants to rule the world. You nine are the only hope: People who have unique skills that make you perfect for your duty."
Margaret shuffled through the file, putting the file back on the table.
"So," Margaret said. "You want us to recruit a mutant, a witch, a hacker, a gentleman corpse, an immortal pirate, a man who sees nothing but sins, and an unknown soldier."
"That's rightm but we have extra operatives that will give you a hand if needed." Fury said with a smile.
"Are we going to be leading this team?" Adachi asked.
Fury laughed. "Nah. We're giving it to someone MUCH more qualified."
"So where is he?"
"He's in the car outside. Finish eating and go see him."
Adachi and Margaret finished their food quickly, leaving Fury to further explore the wonders of ramen.
Outside was a black Rolls-Royce, with tinted windows and a figurehead. Realizing this was the car Fury was talking about, Adachi and Margaret climbed in.
Inside the car, facing them was a man in his mid 20's. He had on a long white shirt, jeans, and a necklace made of bones. He wore no shoes, and was crouching on the seat. Margaret noticed that he had deep dark bags under his eyes, probably from a lack of sleep. The man cleared his throat.
"Hello, I am L. I will be the leader of your team: It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."