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La Mangouste (Mongoose) (XIII graphic novels)

Mongoose aka La Mangouste


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • See our entry for XIII for more context.
  • This entry is loaded with S P O I L E R S for XIII Mystery : La Mangouste, though the History section stops just before the key events shaping the Mongoose’s role in the main XIII story.

Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed
  • Other Aliases: John Smith and innumerable aliases of the “John Smith” variety ; Prisoner 417. His lifelong nickname has been “Schreiner” (“woodworker”), and it essentially was his first name until he became the Mongoose. One of his most useful fake ID was Captain Curtis, of an unrevealed Federal law enforcement agency.
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Parents (name unrevealed, both deceased), Jürgen Weber (guardian, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 120 lbs.
  • Eyes: Grey-blue Hair: Brown (shaved bald)


Powers and Abilities

The Mongoose was one of the very best hitmen in the world, with intensive training and more than 3 decades of experience in manhunting and elimination. Despite his diminutive, gaunt physique he could kill almost anybody in any circumstances, from using his bare hands to sniper fire to shaped explosive charges.

Not only was the Mongoose death on two legs, but he had extensive experience in finding people who do not want to be found. His formidable power of observation allowed him to draw accurate conclusions from tiny clues about how people look, dress and behave – and to use those as weaknesses when setting up an assassination.

He was highly intelligent, had fearsome mental and physical endurance, and was a true professional.

See also the “Murder Incorporated” section in the game stats describing the older Mongoose after the original Lady Bee contract killing.


History

The man who would become the Mongoose was born in 1934 in Germany – which had just become the Third Reich. Both his parents died during the war, and he spent a few years in an orphanage in the post-war chaos before he could be placed with a foster parent. Presumably it was growing up in this environment that left him with a lifelong gaunt, malnourished physique – these were not good times.

The orphan ended up with one Jürgen Weber, a maker of wooden furniture in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Weber took the kid as an apprentice and raised him. The orphan was nicknamed “Schreiner” (“woodworker specialising in making fine furniture, such as cabinets”) due to his apprenticeship, and that essentially became his name.

Albeit Herr Weber was stony-faced even by the standard of his place and time, Schreiner loved him like a father – though he was disappointed that he never seemed to impress his unflappable foster father and make him happy.

The killer awoke before dawn

The orphan’s life was transformed in 1947. The Schreinerei shop had been paying protection money to Soviet soldiers, which made Herr Weber’s life unbearable. The woodworker rounded up what money he could and hired a German mercenary enforcer, called “Hans”, who was known to help with such problems.

La Mangouste snipe

“Hans” came to the shop when three Soviets were harassing Weber and Schreiner, and killed the racketeers. Schreiner even helped, reflexively stabbing a soldier in the arm with a screwdriver when the man tried to recover his gun and kill the enforcer.

Though the 13-year old was shaken by the experience, he was very impressed by how Herr Weber seemed to admire “Hans”, and how powerful the enforcer seemed to be.

Seeing that the political situation in Eastern Germany was deteriorating, Herr Weber sent Schreiner to the US. The immigrant youth worked as a woodworker, but ran into problems with the Un-American Activities House Committee’s witch hunts due to his provenance.

Meanwhile, Herr Weber was arrested – he had sold the guns from the dead Soviet soldiers to raise the money for Schreiner’s emigration. Weber knew that he was taking a huge risk, but it was the only way to ensure that his apprentice would leave the country before it was too late.

First blood

Schreiner started looking for money to bribe the Stasi into letting Herr Weber alone. Knowing that “Hans” had also emigrated to the US, he tracked him down to ask for help. However, the enforcer considered that he wasn’t concerned by the matter ; furthermore he had retired after losing a hand and became a painter.

Between his own dreams that Herr Weber would finally admire him if he were like Hans, and his desperate need for money, Schreiner offered to become Hans’s apprentice. Seeing that his compatriot was intelligent, determined and desperate, Hans agreed.

Schreiner soon killed his first mark ; as often that left him in a state of shock, and he irrationally shaved his hair off to distance himself from whom he used to be. He would continue to shave his head for his entire life.

The highly professional Hans put Schreiner through a harrowing training regimen – kickboxing, krav maga, full contact sparring, marksmanship, infiltration, security systems, self-first-aid, hunting, manhunting, manipulation, improvised weapons, etc. Schreiner completed the training, and Hans told him he was now a professional hitman.

La Mangouste vieillit

Hans burned Schreiner’s passport, telling him he no longer had a name. He then ordered his apprentice to forget about his existence and to never again come to him for help.

Meanwhile, the corrupt Eastern German judicial system turned Herr Weber into a hostage, forcing his foster son to regularly send money so the artisan wouldn’t be killed in prison. Schreiner knew that he needed to land more contracts as a hitman to pay protect his foster father, and came back to “Hans” despite orders.

Though the older killer did not want to help, his pupil had discovered how addictive the work of a hitman was, and knew Hans would crack and want to vicariously relive the thrill through him. He was right – Hans became his mentor and agent, greatly helping getting contracts.

In time, the old hitman essentially became the second foster father of the youth. Schreiner eventually took as his own the nom de guerre that had been given to “Hans” — the Mongoose

The cold life

Thus started nearly 30 years as a very successful international hitman, from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s. Part of the friendship between “Hans” and his heir the new Mongoose was an appreciation of how lonely and transient the life of a professional assassin could be.

Though the Mongoose was flush with cash and didn’t have to obey any law — except for his ethical rule as a professional, to never kill a person he hadn’t been contracted to eliminate — years of this life started grinding him down.

Despite his remarkable mental stamina, the Mongoose came to crack a bit circa 1980 or 1981, paying a prostitute to pretend that she loved him and that he was going to retire to come live a family life with her.

In his merciless world, this small mistake soon came to haunt him. A conspiracy within the inner circles of American power (the “conspiracy of twenty”, or “XX conspiracy” using Roman numerals) was plotting a coup and the assassination of President Sheridan, and needed a high-powered hitman.

;Their intelligence men had learned about the prostitute, and one of the plotters approached the Mongoose with an offer two million 1983 dollars, full inside help to kill the President during a motorcade, and having the State Dept. apply full pressure to have Herr Weber freed from prison.

The rest is history, and none of it was nice.


Description

Since the main stats are for the Mongoose in his prime, most illustrations precede the main XIII storyline.


Personality

For decades the Mongoose had essentially no life – always on the move, never attached to anything or anyone, sleeping in airports, living in hotels, never failing and never letting his guard down as any tiny mistake would likely result in his death.

Though he lived in freedom and affluence, he always stuck by the few rules his second foster father had taught him – never kill anybody who has not be specifically contracted against, and always execute contracts loyally and to the letter.

Originally the Mongoose dealt with the horror of murders through the thrill of the job. That eventually subsided, but by that point he had become largely inured to killing – though those contracts that required cruelty still affected him. The Mongoose was purely professional, and didn’t have any agenda save for making payments to save Herr Weber.

The Mongoose was extremely intelligent and perceptive (though not cinematically so – the Genre of the XIII stories is at best low cinematic), and had extensive experience. He could perceive chinks in security like no-one else could, and those almost always boiled down to human mores and frailties.

One of the key learning from “Hans” — and the origin of the Mongoose nom de guerre — was to learn to shut down his own fear to enter a pragmatic, cold, analytical mindset. This feat, to dauntlessly see all available data and apply the most efficient course of action, was one of the Mongoose’s key assets.


Quotes

“I had but this little tiny clue if I was to… balance accounts. A name, just a name – Kim Rowland. That was the only lead I had, but after more than 30 years of manhunting experience… that was more than I needed.”

“I am the Mongoose. I never fail.”

The Mongoose: “You weren’t careful enough, darling. A woman of your intellect should have suspected that the former KGB would tie up loose ends before entering this brave new era.”
Irina: “Who the… who are you ?”
The Mongoose: “Your new employer.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

La Mangouste (in his prime)

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Assassin
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 015 HP: 020

Skills:
Artist (Woodworker): 04, Artist (Actor): 05, Detective (Legwork): 06, Martial artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science (Camouflage, demolition): 05, Thief (Security systems, stealth): 05, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 04, Weaponry: 06

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Language (German), Schtick (Make-do Equipment (Weaponry))

Connections:
Underworld (Low), Street (Low)

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated

Equipment:
The Mongoose never keeps any equipment for long, but has little trouble procuring what he needs when needed and can usually turn nearby objects into weapons if nothing else is available.


Murder incorporated

These stats are for the Mongoose in his prime ; when he appears in XIII he’s considerably older. There seems to be a clear breakpoint – after the Sheridan assassination and its consequences, the Mongooose looks markedly older and is clearly not as sharp as he used to be.

Presumably, the losses suffered in the wake of the Presidential murder hit the Mongoose hard – his years caught up with him and his heart was no longer in it, but he felt that he had to close the Rowland contract no matter what.

For the older Mongoose, cap all Attributes and Skills at 04, and add Age (Old) ; his Initiative score thus goes down by 03. Furthermore, cut his HPs by half.

The older, shakier Mongoose starts operating along with hirelings, whereas all contracts during his prime were apparently done solo. At first he just hires ordinary thugs toting a handgun, but encounters with XIII lead him to realise that it’s not enough and he needs a higher calibre of help ; he starts approaching Irina and other professional hitpersons, and to train men with a suitable background (such as mister Kern, who presumably was ex-military) to become hitmen. He will never complete this work, but Irina does and forms the for-profit Executor sanctioning contractor.

At this point, the Mongoose no longer had an incredible capability to reach his target. Beyond the hired thugs he employed more indirect means, such as paying the doctor at the pen holding XIII to give him a lethal injection. When he tried to kill Colonel Amos he disguised himself as a local and told Amos and his bodyguard to wait for him to make an infusion, leaving to trigger a bomb – but the timer was long since he wasn’t spry enough to get out of there quickly enough, leaving Amos with enough time to realise what was going on and escape.

As the hunt for XIII went on, the Mongoose recovered some of his acumen, though this was social and intellectual shrewdness rather than more physical field skills.

He started manipulating outside forces into doing his work, such as the corrupt sheriff and banker in Greenfalls, and regained enough of his perceptiveness to operate in the field. While he was still but an approximation of his former level of skill, he would have succeeded in killing one of the most dangerous men in the country had XIII not had an incredible stroke of luck — the book he was carrying in his parka stopping the Mongoose’s .44 magnum bullet.

By Greenfall, some of the Mongoose’s Attributes and Skills are back to 05 ; when he escapes from Bluebanks he’s nearly back to form. He still has halved HPs and Age (Old), though – he’s getting back into the game and the fire is back in his belly, but he’s old and has irretrievably lost some of his edge when he decided to abandon his career.

His extraordinary Weaponry score is back, at least for firearms (but probably not for melee weapons) – he can do things like hitting a man with a MP5 from an ultralight airplane flying NOE at full speed, or chain two difficult sniper shots to escape from prison (using a carbine with high-end AP bullets to shoot guards through bulletproof glass).

The Mongoose then retires again, with Irina as his designated successor and living in luxury in the Bahamas. At this point his scores start rapidly eroding away again. Though the Mongoose will still manage a last hurrah at the decommissioned atomic base, XIII accurately describes the retired killer, the most wanted man in the US at that point, as being just a skinny, little old man watching daytime TV in his bathrobe and slippers.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: XIII graphic novels

Helper(s): Darci

Writeup completed on the 7th of May, 2011.

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