Flashback: The Hippy Hippy Chase

November 19, 2015:

FLASHBACK: On orders from above, Alpha Flight agent Wolverine hunts down the enigmatic retired hero Johnny Canuck for help with flushing out a dangerous cult.

Canada

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Johnny Canuck will go for years - decades, even - where he's completely off the map. Still, every now and then, he emerges back into the world for extended periods, even. That's usually when he pings on the radar of the various groups who have an interest in him, his intel, and his particular abilities.

Still, even when he does surface, it's not in highly populated areas. Duncan, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. Or rather, a logging camp about forty minutes out. Johnny's been getting a little honest labour in and has been enjoying the luxury of neither having to hunt for his own food, nor cook it. He's got an ulterior motive for hooking up with this particular camp. The rumour has it that the loggers have been enroaching on a protected section of forest nearby. What better way to see if that's true than to do a little old school infiltration?

He's currently inside a clapboard building that serves as the camp's base, its main hall, breakroom and bar. He's seated in a low chair, reading the paper and nursing a beer.
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Alpha Flight has been something of a vacation for Logan. An occasionally Wendigo-filled vacation, sure, but kinder just the same than the preceding decades he feels, yet doesn't remember.

Today is an exception. Today, he'

-

Alpha Flight has been something of a vacation for Logan. An occasionally Wendigo-filled vacation, sure, but kinder just the same than the preceding decades he feels, yet doesn't remember.

Today is an exception. Today, he's out to gather intelligence on a cult with roots in an organization once stomped out - mostly - by Johnny Canuck. So far, Department H knows nothing of the cult's motives and methods— just that one of its mystically inclined operatives had a really bad feeling about them.

This is, in their line of work, plenty sufficient to deploy an agent to look for a reclusive, retired superhero.

Before today, Logan had to follow a trail beginning with Department H's last known whereabouts for the man and ending at the camp, some days of tracking and interrogating later. Now, he approaches Johnny's table wearing flannel, jeans, and a winter cap pulled low over his distinctive

-

Alpha Flight has been something of a vacation for Logan. An occasionally Wendigo-filled vacation, sure, but kinder just the same than the preceding decades he feels, yet doesn't remember.

Today is an exception. Today, he's out to gather intelligence on a cult with roots in an organization once stomped out - mostly - by Johnny Canuck. So far, Department H knows nothing of the cult's motives and methods— just that one of its mystically inclined operatives had a really bad feeling about them.

This is, in their line of work, plenty sufficient to deploy an agent to look for a reclusive, retired superhero.

Before today, Logan had to follow a trail beginning with Department H's last known whereabouts for the man and ending at the camp, some days of tracking and interrogating later. Now, he approaches Johnny's table wearing flannel, jeans, and a winter cap pulled low over his distinctive 'do, helping himself to a seat.

"Hard man to find," he rumbles.

-

Johnny looks up from the paper, one eyebrow arching. "Now who would possibly have an interest in me? I'm just a simple logger." He spreads his hads outwards. There's a glimmer in his eyes. "I hope you're not here to kill me. If so, your approach is flawed. I cut paths through the woods and mark the trees. Sometimes, I'm all by myself. Much better to come at me there than here. Here…" he looks around and then sucks air between his teeth. "Lots of collateral. Witnesses. Not to mention economic impacts."

He takes a casual pull from his beer.
-

"You gotta know your way 'round them woods," Logan replies. He starts to say more, but a waitress arrives; thus, he has to turn away to give her a brisk, "Beer, darlin'," to send her on her way.

"Wouldn't be much use'ta anyone, otherwise. I come at you out there, I'm givin' you home field. Only way I'm catchin' you then is by payin' for it— with time, blood, maybe both, dependin' on how prepped you are for someone like me. Here, I gut ya; witnesses, economics, not my problem. You bleed, I clean up, I'm out; done deal."

Logan folds his hands on the table. The pops coming from his knuckles are a little too loud.

"'course, that's assumin' you're smart enough ta bother bein' paranoid— and assumin' I'm here to kill ya." Logan extends a hand across the table.

"Name's Logan. Some friends'a ours sent me to talk to you."

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"There are only two kinds of people who come looking for me. Nobody comes calling to just…catch up." Johnny chuckles, swallows the mouthful of beer, then eyes the outstretched hand. He pauses a moment, then accepts the shake. "I'd introduce myself, but I have a feeling you've read my dossier. How's Mac?" Colonel Loclan MacDonald - Johnny's superior during his heyday, and one of the only folks at Department H he's still got a good relationship with. And, one of the few people he trusts with his wereabouts.
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"See, now that's where you're wrong: Mac sent me to talk to you about the good ol' days," Logan dryly replies. After withdrawing his hand, he refolds them on the table and gives the bar a quick scan.

"He's been keepin' tabs on some new fad religion's been poppin' up in a few places. The Pale Veil— bunch'a back'ta nature types, takin' money from the believers to help 'em build settlements out in the woods. Add in a bunch'a crap about how shitty society is, toss in some veil metaphors, an' you pretty much get the picture. Wouldn't mean shit to nobody, but we've got a guy, see—"

Logan starts to lean across the table, only for the waitress to return with his beer. He draws back and does his best not to scowl at her as he accepts the drink with a gruff, "Thanks, darlin'," that sends her away with a grimace.

"— anyway, this guy," Logan continues while shaking his head and leaning in. His voice has lowered to suitable conspiracy volumes. "He tells us he's gettin' bad vibes off'a one'a their camps up in Manitoba one night. Next mornin', place is empty; our guy's trail's cold."

Logan takes a quick swig from his beer, then cups his hands around it. "We started diggin' into the guys runnin' the show. Most of 'em were corporate guys, ex-hippies, that kinda thing; one of 'em was a man by the name'a Magana, slippery as all fuck. Probably 'cause he's a little more of an ex-death cultist, accordin' to Mac; some shit about a fimbulwinter or somethin'." Logan takes another, longer sip, perhaps trying to wash the taste of these ridiculous words out of his mouth.

"Said if there was a guy to ask about 'im, it'd be you," he adds. The last time Magana - first name Justin - was in the occult business, he did indeed attempt to plunge Canada into endless winter in order to appease some dark power or another before being thwarted. "So how's about it, bub? You know anything about this guy, like maybe where I can start lookin' for 'em?"

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Johnny Canuck listens to the whole tale. He gets the impression that Logan isn't much of a motormouth. When the silent ones talk a lot, that's usually when it's time to start listening. All the while, he nurses his beer.

"I remember those guys. They came around the first time in the 70s. Picked up a lot of draft dodgers ducking over the border to avoid Vietnam. Back then though, they were called The Love Collective. They had a colony on Salt Spring Island. We never did find their leader, but we shut down their camps." He chuckles. "Did Mac tell you how we broke them up? It wasn't through busting heads. Just some well-placed intelligence that their leadership had corporate interests and embeded agents of the US government. They quickly moved on to greener, less sinister pastures. I only had to take out the inner circle. Chased 'em all the way to Kenora."

He leans back in his chair, the old wood creaking slightly. "I never saw a face, never met the man. But I do know where a back-to-nature cult or three might settle where they wouldn't be bothered. Of course, I'm not the only one who'd like the answer to that question. Any of these fine gentlemen…" he motions to the room, "…knows the ass end of nowhere."
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Logan allows a quiet snort of appreciation for Johnny's dismantling method. He probably would've just gone for the head-busting, but he recognizes a well-crafted piece of subterfuge just the same.

"Guess he left that out." Logan follows the motion around the room, only for his gaze to wind up back on Johnny as he replies, "I'm willin' to bet none of 'em know dick about punchin' cultists; findin' this asshole's just the openin' act. Nah— I didn't sit here an' tell you all that bullshit jus' to go get someone else to play tour guide for me, Mac sent me for ''you''."

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"Mac is aware that he has limited favours with me, yeah? I told him that when I resigned my commission. He only gets so many tugs out of retirement before I stop answering." Johnny tilts the rest of his beer back, then nudges the bottle away. "Who are you, anyway? What's your stake in all this? You got something interesting going on, or are you just a good mountain man, playing ball with the government? If I had to guess?" he looks the other man over. "Alberta. Canmore, maybe. Or maybe Manitoba, up around The Pas."
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"Mac's aware'a what he's aware of. All I know is that he sent me," Logan replies before another pull from the beer.

"As for me? Just a guy tryin' to make a livin'. Same as you from the looks'a things, only I ain't got the patience to spend all day choppin' down trees."

-

"Well, I'm guessing Mac wants you to come along for this ride. Else, he would've sent someone pretty in a uniform. And I make it a point to never go into a fight without knowing who has my back." Johnny catches the eye of the waitress and lifts his empty beer by way of ordering. Then he looks across at Logan, expectantly.
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"Yeah, our pretty people in uniform ain't exactly slouches in the fightin' department either." Logan says this with a small, fleeting grin and a flicker of pride.

"I been around the block a few times and I'm tougher'n anyone you ever met," he says, pausing to gesture for a fresh beer of his own by lifting his only mostly empty one. "Mac sent me 'cause he knows I'm the best he's got for doin' what needs doin', when shit gets difficult. You got nothin' to worry about, Johnny-Boy."

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"I'm not saying you aren't pretty. You have a certain…rugged beauty about you. Like roughly-hewn stone, or a squat mountain," drawls Johnny. He motions to Logan and chuckles. He clucks his tongue and then says, "How's Caroline? It's cold in Edmonton this time of year."
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Logan arches a brow at the drawl, just a little. It goes a little higher at the question.

"Ain't any problem'a hers, these days," he replies before taking another swig. "Not since she an' Mac split."

-

Johnny's face breaks into a smile. "Can't blame me for making sure. I realize I fed you the name of my superior. Rookie mistake. I've clearly been out of the world too long." He stretches and rolls his shoulders back. "So, what's your plan? You're the point man on this. You have a better handle on the mission objective."
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"Gotta figure out where the bastard's holed up an' see how big a wall he's built around himself before I can give you a plan," Logan cautions. Fresh beers are deposited on the table; he doesn't bother thanking the waitress this time, he just waits until she's gone.

"I never got to see the Manitoba spot for myself; unless you wanna jump straight to checkin' out some'a the hidey-holes you know, I'm thinkin' we see what we can see at the camp, then go from there. Right now, Mac just wants to know what, if anything these guys are up to, but if it turns out the answer's somethin' dirty, we might have to clean 'em up before it gets outta hand."

-

"You said these guys like it cold, right?" Johnny does a little shoulder-check, then flexes his fingers around his beer. The condensation visibly grows. Mist curls from the mouth. "I don't think they like it as much as they think they do."
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