Masks 25.1 - History Lesson [Cutscene]

AEGIS director Craig Costigan stares out the window. It’s some kind of transparent material, bullet-proof, sound-proof, everything-proof if you believe the boys. He thinks of it as glass.

He sits in a reinforced leather chair, strong enough to sustain his husky frame. He opens the liquor cabinet at his feet. There’s a decanter of whiskey, two snifters, and a well-polished revolver inside. Taped to the cabinet’s swinging doors are two slips of paper. On one of them is written the words “THERE IS SUCH A PLACE AS ICELAND”. He snorts, peels it off, crumples it up, and tosses it at the wastepaper basket. The other paper disappears as the cabinet closes, minus the whiskey and a glass.

“Which one of 'em was it?” he asks, still staring out of his office window.


Only then does he turn around, and stare at Agent 1337. “Which of the Menagerie brought Vyortovia back to me?”

37 shrugs. “Uh, I dunno if any of 'em did it. But there’s a report on Charlotte Palmer. She showed up at Letson’s place. During the Yule Lads thing, I uh, I managed to intercept comm chatter about a book that someone had to bring her. She dropped out recently, and so did Jason Quill.” The agent shrugs. “Dunno if it’s connected.”

Costigan pours himself some whiskey, rummages for a cigar in his desk, lights it, puffs for a few moments. “Yet here ya are.”

“Yeah, because you don’t check your email,” 37 protests. “I need more budget. I told them it was approved. The lady gave me attitude, said to ask you. I need this Hidden Family stuff digitized so I can analyze it. It’s dead trees now.”

Costigan grunts. “Fine. So what else is on your mind?”


The director sighs. “Don’t mess with me, kid. You could have sent one of your little floaty dealies–”

“The bots.”

“–like you did the last two times. So what’s eatin’ you?” Costigan stabs the air with the lit cigar.

1337 hesitates. “Well… Why isn’t there, like, rockets or something? I watched the old videos after 9/11. They were doing missile strikes in 45 minutes. What’s gonna happen to, y’know, our American wham-bam-thank-you-Uncle-Sam rep if we don’t blow somebody up?” On reflection, the accompanying hip thrusts may have been a little gratuitous.

Costigan doesn’t seem to notice. “Kid, there was this thing called the 1940s. Back then, we had another war, against another island nation. They attacked us, hoping they’d get concessions from us to keep waging the war they really wanted to. Didn’t work out so well for them. Didn’t work out for a lot of Americans, either, just because their families were from there. America locked 'em away in internment camps. Then we dropped a couple big, big bombs. On civilian targets.”

“Yeah, I know World War II history, chief,” 37 rejoins, sounding bored.

“You don’t know the people back then. Almost nobody does, today.” Costigan takes a long drink from his whiskey, lets it warm him all too briefly. “Lotus Blossom. That was her real name, even though people thought it was a code name. Japanese. Actress, before she revealed her powers and joined my team.”

Your team? You mean your dad’s–” 37 realizes the assumption, sees the truth immediately, and hushes up.

“Yeah, that wasn’t Craig Costigan Senior on the Shadow Squad, that was me.” The director shrugs. “The Enhance Elixir they gave me, hoping to turn me into some kind of living weapon, patriotic symbol, whatever. Slowed down my aging.” He squints at 1337. “Hasn’t done a thing to my memory. Lotus Blossom. People think she’s Chinese, 'cause Hollywood - or Hollywoodland before 1949 - didn’t care. Anyone from Asia is Asian, right? Even if those nations are actively at war with each other. She avoided getting rounded up thanks to racism. Thank god. She was a huge benefit to the team. Close friend of mine, too.”

“The 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Almost all Nisei, Japanese-Americans. Most decorated unit of its kind in American history. We put their families in prison for the crime of looking different, coming from somewhere else, not being enough like us. Hogwash! They showed us. Those of us that had the courage to look, at least.”

“Even our enemy was something else. Those Japanese soldiers, the ones who sacrificed their lives near the end, that huge blood-sacrifice ritual to summon that wind creature, Kamikaze, the one that attacked Pearl the second time… Think what it musta been like, for a soldier. Lay down your life, not on the front lines, not in a plane or on the battlefield, but just… y’know, lay here and die, for the homeland, for pride and honor. That’s dedication.”

Costigan sighs, takes another drag of his cigar, swirls the whiskey in the snifter but doesn’t drink. “There’s a point here, I promise. America learned a lesson since then. How to fight, who you can bomb, who you can’t. Afghanistan, where we fired rockets in 9/11, has been mapped for a thousand years. That island out there? Total unknown. Any target we hit could be a munitions factory, or it could be an orphanage. We just don’t know. The prisoners we captured all broke out with the worst case of lockjaw our interrogators ever saw. The Navy’s champing at the bit. Hell, the Coast Guard would love to get out there. But until they make a move, some kind of concerted invasion, we’re not willing to strike back with full force. There’s plenty of hawks who’ll tell the president to push the button, glass the island, fallout and civilians be damned.”

Costigan smashes a meaty fist into his chair, sending it rocking off its casters for a moment. “Those men must never be allowed back into power. Once you’re willing to murder the innocent with weapons of mass destruction, there’s no turning back.”

Agent 1337 shifts uncomfortably. “What about the bomb in the cemetery? The Mads–” Costigan stares, and 37’s eyes roll. “De-part-ment-For-ty-Two claims that there was a threat to Halcyon City the last time they were here.”

The director makes an ugly sound that could be a laugh, if you were a blue whale. “Well, the military planners don’t seem to see it that way. Except the hawks, who want any excuse to start shooting anyway. They thought the strike team was there to erase some kind of literally buried Hidden Family evidence.”

Silence descends and lingers. Costigan fills it, sounding quite unlike his usual blustery self. “There’s something else. It’s not just we don’t want to bomb them without a plan. Some people hope we can talk to the Vyortovians, bring 'em around, be friends somehow. MacArthur went to Japan - nobody else coulda done it, let me tell you - and they somehow hammered out a peace that’s lasted decades. Wouldn’t that be something, if we could get access to their tech, and get to meet the people who could come up with such things, survive what they must have, hold together against the world? They must be incredible.”

The younger agent listens attentively, which is a surprise for Costigan. Finally: “So basically… if I had to guess, you’re hoping someone brokers a peace. And if not, that the League comes through with some kind of intel, targets, objectives, whatever. But they haven’t, so we got nothin’ except…”

Costigan finishes the thought. “… except what we had for Christmas. A bunch of kids. Hell if I’m pinning my hopes on them.”

He turns away, looking out the window again, and at the wastepaper basket and its haunting reminder. “… too bad everyone else has let us down.”

“Yeah, us unreliable kids will save the day for ya. I’m going back to the Satellite of Love, boss.” 37 pauses on the way to the door. “Hey. Uh, as someone who liked America winning WW2, though… thank you. For. Y’know.”

Costigan smiles. “Sure, kid.” But what he says next is to himself, and for only himself. “Back when I was their age. God dammit.”

author: Bill G.

I take it back; THIS is the guy voiced by Ed Asner.

author: Doyce T.

He and Waters have a timeshare.

author: Bill G.

author: *** Dave H.