Friday, December 28, 2012

Administration: End of 2012

This is the last Friday for the year 2012. Time to take a moment out of the fiction and talk reality.

As of this year, I finally settled into a format that works for me. I will continue this format into 2013 and see if I can make it work for a full year. If, at this time next year, I find that it continues to serve me then I will stick with it until it doesn't.

Most of this year's stories took place in the waning years of the Old World, our world, and--as reality didn't see any sort of world-destroying event--the post-apocalyptic milieu created by the Azure Flames is safely considered an alternate future history. In 2013, I intend to return to the post-apocalypse side of that divide, and you shall see that new set of stories starting next week on Friday, January 5th.

Next year there shall be one story per quarter, going 12 weeks long, with a week left as a buffer to post what is necessary that quarter. That makes for four stories by the end of the year, and--as I will be finished with my Master's Degree work by next Summer--I will attempt to do something I've intended to do since I started this 'blog: collect, correct, curate and publish a volume of stories. If I can, I want to publish both in electronic and Print-On-Demand formats.

If I can't make that happen in 2013, then I will for certain in 2014. The traditional publishing world is no longer the default method for writers to become capable of making a living, or even a strong part-time supplementary income, and for those who prefer to be in the driver's seat (like me) making use of the new frontier of e-publishing is the way to go.

Expect a new story about post-apocalyptic Ken next year. Expect stories featuring, in some manner or another, stories about the folks I've posted about in the last five weeks. Expect me to continue to hone my craft, to get better, and to continue to write about that which interests and excites me. See you next year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Azure Flames: A Primer

The Azure Flames is the agreed-upon name for the global disaster that destroy the Old World and created the current world, from which sprang new and better forms of Mankind as well as allowed other species to emerge and either co-exist with Man or contend with Man for ownership of its homeworld.

It took some generations after the fact to fully collect what happened, but now we know how the Azure Flames came about. The Old World suffered for many generations under the yoke of an invisible empire of evil Men, beholden to powers not fully understood then, who used their knowledge and power to ensnare the minds of their brothers and exploit them in great and terrible acts of human sacrifice masqueraded as wars and disasters to conduct rituals of sorcery unnoticed by the ignorant and brain-washed populations.

To keep the chance of discovery within control, they created false conspiracies to confuse would-be enemies and ensnare would-be rivals, but these generational cultists lost control somewhere close to the end and the fakes became rival interests united by a mutual hatred. The wars and disasters increased in frequency, but decreased in their potency, so the cultists has to cope by working around their errand minions.

This hubris led to their undoing and the destruction of the Old World. On a date that all--even the masses--knew to be portentious and of great significance both of these conspiratorial networks simultaneously conducted their greatest schemes to fruition. On one hand, all of the cultists led ceremonies at places of great power coordinated down to the second. On the other, the rogue minions set on nuclear weapons that obliterated the ten highest-population cities on the planet in an attempt to start World War III.

Both events climaxed simultaneously, with the result that the millions of deaths powered the ritual magics and overloaded the cultists' ability to control the power unleaded by the minions. In a wave that swept the world, a ground-to-space wall of blue-white fire scourged the planet and reduced all of the Old World to ashes while leaving most of the planet quite habitable; the cities, one and all, disappeared (as ruins, or otherwise) and most of Mankind dies screaming (soon to be the undead horde enthralled by The Necromancer) while most of those surviving find themselves changed somehow.

Today, long after the conclusion of the Wars of the Damned and the fall of the Empire of Man, we can look back at that post-apocalyptic age and be glad that it wasn't us; we also are grateful that the form that Mankind took in the Old World is no longer- all the horror of that age was to ensure that this extinction took place, and we that arose thereafter did so untainted by that decadent and corrupt forerunner.

Sure, we may look like the men of old, and many of us live and die as they did, but we are not them. We are not as limited as they were, nor as susceptible as they were to corruption, and we have both the heroes and villains of that terrible age to thank for we the new breed of Mankind that are now the light of Civilization amongst all of time and space- we that brought the best part of Old World imagination to life, once we mastered the science that made the comprehension of psuedo-life possible.

Our world could not exist without the Azure Flames clearing away the diseased Old World. Be grateful, for without that destruction our creation would never exist.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Engineer: A Primer

Unlike many of those known by a title, we know the name of The Engineer: Roger M. Ire, the First Founder of the Sky-Blue Republic and the founder of the Esoteric Engineers.

Roger was one of the minority of individuals that not only survived the Coming of the Azure Flames, but would emerge as a power into himself- like the Archmage or Necromancer did. However, he did so only after a long period sealed away from the Necromancer's eye (and thus his power).

Roger was one of a cadre of dabbling occultists that also understood network technology and computer science. When the Azure Flames hit, Roger was with several of his peers in a laboratory watching an experimental laser perform a test. The result was that all of them got swept out of the world and into a parallel dimension, but they did not realize at first that this dimension was actually the computer system itself.

Instead of being concerned about the massive undead hordes coming to consume them, they had to worry about keeping the system running while taking control of it and them using that position of power to spread their dominion until the real world could be reached once more. When that came to pass, Roger had become the First Founder and the Inner City of today--a city-state existing entirely inside a virtual world--and their blending of Old World science and even older magic had completed itself into the new science of Technomancy.

Roger's identity as The Engineer arose when the Inner City made contact with outsiders such as The Emperor and The Archmage. Knowing the power of names, he assumed this one to avoid ensnarement by others, and few realized that he had a more ordinary identity until well past the fact. Being able to bridge the cultural gap between The Emperor and The Archmage, The Engineer proved vital in coordinating the efforts of the three great powers against The Necromancer; being able to speak the jargon of his peers, and freely translate between the two, allowed him to quickly and efficiently tell the others what they need to know when they needed to know it and thus double-team The Necromancer.

In the final push, The Engineer--using his secret location beneath The Necromancer's seat of power--he direct attacked The Necromancer by shattering his locus of power, and thus his hold on his capital, Necropolis Prime. Once The Engineer's forces took control of these nodes, he deployed Omni-Conversion Engines that scrub the power of those nodes clean and turned them against The Necromancer. Cut off from the vast power he'd long ago took for granted, The Necromancer did not have sufficient means to recover from that shock attack; weakened, he fell in personal combat with The Emperor and--after centuries of terror--died himself.

Others cooperating in this final war were off-worlders intervening because they saw by oracular powers that The Necromancer threatened to spread beyond Earth and came to stop him. These surviving allies joined The Engineer, taking up the ruined Necropolis Prime and settled it for themselves once the Omni-Conversion Engines finished cleansing them and rebuilding the ruins into The Outer City with its crystal spires that gleaming in the sun. The Inner City remained secret, enforced upon those allies by binding oaths powered by Technomantic means.

The Engineer persists, but remains aloof these days. Only the leaders of the Inner City and the elder masters of the Esoteric Engineers see the true Engineer now; far more common are his simulacra, differentiated by number with the true one denoted as "Prime". Rivals and enemies often disappear if they show themselves a viable threat, only for some new henchmen to be debuted soon thereafter that bears a similar seeming under a new name.

The Inner City today is a great hub of intergalactic importance, and its true location remains a secret; everyone knows that it is a virtual world dimension, but none able to speak of it know where in the external world that computer exists- and all that try to do so, compelled or not, die horribly no matter the distance in time or space from The Inner City.

Where or when The Engineer is now, few know and fewer want to know.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Sons of Ken: A Primer

The Sons of Ken are, by now, famous. Many of us have blood ties, however distant, to that first new race of Men to emerge after the Azure Flames destroyed the Old World. Unlike many of the great heroes and villains to emerge, those whose names are lost to us now, the Sons of Ken ensured that we know all that there is to know of their mighty and legendary progenitor.

I shall not talk of Ken's life before the Coming of the Azure Flames, save to comment that it is now clear that what he truly was had already manifested in a subtle state long before the Old World burned to ash. All that the Azure Flames did was to force the transformation to complete itself, to make Ken fully become what he always was meant to be: a hunter of monsters, a slayer of Man's predators, a killer of Things Unclean.

The Azure Flames burned away all unnecessary for Ken's mission. The brilliant green eyes turned star-aflame yellow, sunk into blacked sockets. His flame-red hair burned away, from crown to toe, and his already fair skin bleached white like fresh-fallen snow; his mortal hunger turned towards the consumption of his prey exclusively, freeing him from procuring water and food as he once had to do, and his already keen awareness heightened to supernatural states and substantiated via super-sensory sensitivity.

The Azure Flames also burned away the ravages of age and the injuries of action, making him once more whole and filled with the power of youth- a blessing that became common in the Sons that he would go on to sire. The predators of all Creation now saw Ken as one of them, and they respected their two-legged brother in turn. This too passed on to all of the Sons.

This, reader, is why The Necromancer hated the Sons of Ken and waged war upon them. How could he not? They stalked and slew his property--the dead--for sport and sustenance, in turn inspiring survivors of the Old World to give their daughters to him (and, later, to his Sons) in return for training their sons as best they could and aiding in saving what of them that he (and his Sons) could.

The Sons would soon spread far and wide, repeating their father's feats and winning over the living peoples who had not already escaped the doom of The Necromancer in some other fashion. Later they would become witch-slayers, demon-killers, eat the flesh of dragons, and otherwise seek out and slay that which preys upon Man.

Today the Sons are few amongst Civilization, but remains a race found frequently on the frontier where their ways are appreciated most (and are needed most). This race, in a real ways, are Man's salvation and has been time and again in the ages after the Azure Flames. Wild, seeking action always, and peculiar in that their women are not like the Sons- but always bear more Sons, regardless of who they take as husbands, much to the dismay of prissy people ever and always. Some day the Sons will die out, but that day comes only when the last monster is slain and no more shall ever come.

That day, reader, is one that we--if we are honest with ourselves--pray never comes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Archmage: A Primer

The Archmage's name is lost at this time. It is not considered important to find it as there is no pressing matter that requires such knowledge. Instead, it is enough that we know how The Archmage became known as such.

The Archmage, in the waning years of the Old World, led a double life. To all but a few he was an ordinary, if conservative, man from a faded family formerly of means. During his life before the Azure Flames, he restored the family wealth. Unknown to all but that same few, he employed sorcery as part of his greater array of knowledge and used that mastery of magic covertly to ensure that parts of his business plans that otherwise were left to chance would not be so vulnerable.

In time The Archmage gathered around him a handful of proteges, many his own kin and the rest married into his family. They ran the restored, and growing, business while he did the key work of securing future opportunities for further growth and development. What none but his chief lieutenant perceived, until the very end, was that The Archmage had a clear vision of the Coming of the Azure Flames and used all of this time before to clear away a space and secure it for the benefit of himself and his people.

This space centered around the structure we know now as "The White Tower", a tall and strong artifact of the Old World's latter-day architecture built in a now-vanished city on the northern end of the west coast of the Old World's last great imperial power. We mock them as "The Wizards of the Coast" at our peril, for even now their power can reach across centuries of time--and, increasingly, light-years of space--to afflict us for the trespass of disrespecting their knowledge and mastery of powers that only now are as widely known as the secrets for faster-than-light travel.

When the Azure Flames arrived, The Archmage and his people remained secure in the space he and his proteges prepared previously. The people watched out shielded windows as the blue flames ruined the city about them, consumed the flesh of the people therein and cast down the Old World that once was. The Archmage and his men, on the other hand, conducted their most ambitious rite during those three days and did what was formerly impossible: they transformed themselves into a new form of Man entirely, escaping the flesh of old and becoming something else--but still Mannish--entirely.

This, reader, is how The Archmage escaped the power of The Necromancer- and, in time, so did his people. It is also how The Archmage became one of the powers that, at the end of the Wars of the Damned, would unite to cast down and destroy The Necromancer forever.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Necromancer: A Primer

Those that did not live during the reign of The Necromancer find it difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend that such an entity existed. For those that witnessed that final event wherein The Emperor destroyed The Necromancer, one could scarcely believe the sight before them. All assumed that The Necromancer would be like in the tales of such death-workers from the Old World: decayed, decrepit, dead and yet not so. Nothing of the sort was true.

Instead, what we learned was that The Necromancer was once a horribly abused and neglected boy. When the Azure Flames erupted, he lay dying in a hospital on a table in an operating theater. He lay there because his mother beat him near to death out of a petty anger when the boy interrupted one of his mother's frequent unlawful couplings with a man. He knew not his father, and had no such figure around; he was unwanted, and his mother could not be rid of him, so she beat and berated him because she could not ever accept her own failure and responsibility.

It did not help that he came from a ghetto wherein a long-abused race of men, formerly slaves, got herded into generations before. The Old World rulers were not enlightened men, and in their decadence encouraged new forms of old ills; the result was poverty, ignorance and exploitation such that slavery for this race never truly ended- so neither did the reactions to it.

So, as the Azure Flames raced across the world, those charged with saving his life fled instead thinking him disposable and not worth the effort. Abandoned by the last people trusted to make right the wrongs in his life, the boy impotently raged and cried out for justice- for revenge. Unexpectedly, someone answered.

This someone called itself "Gabriel", and took on the appearance of a then-famous actor in a well-known role of the same name. Gabriel tells the boy that the Creator heard his cries, and sent him to offer the boy--now between life and death--the opportunity to be the instrument of judgement upon Mankind. The boy accepted without hesitation; all he had to give in return was his name, and what is a name to one like him? Of course the boy accepted, for the price was nothing to him; this is why no power known to Man can reveal The Necromancer's name- he gave it to someone beyond mortal ken in return for power beyond mortal ken.

This, reader, is how the great and terrible scourge of Man known as "The Necromancer" came to be.

As he desired revenge, he also desired all deprived of him before. He grew from a boy into a great and powerful man, tall and broad-shouldered, flesh hardened into a lean and powerful athletic form. His presence grew with his maturity, and the fear-filled form of a small, shattered son transformed into a muscular, magnificent man of power and authority. No decrepit form had he. No decayed corpse-flesh. No, his lungs breathed deep and powerful. No, his heart beat hard and fast to pump red blood through living veins. The Necromancer, in truth, was a magnetic man of power and none who saw him ever forgot it.

Gabriel was not his only adviser. As The Necromancer grew, he learned that he held absolute power over life and death, for he held power over the flesh and dominated the wills of the dead- all that ever lived were his to command, be they imprisoned in their dead flesh or not, and all flesh that he knew was his to command. This would, in time, become his undoing, but until those centuries passed as the remnant races of Men surviving the Azure Flames died out The Necromancer knew no fear. The greatest generals of history lead his legions of lifeless drones. The greatest admirals of history led his ghost fleets. The greatest politicians of history administered those living colonies permitted to persist. The greatest monsters of history terrorized one and all to ensure The Necromancer's reign would continue as desired.

This, reader, is one of the reasons for why The Necromancer was such a feared player in the Wars of the Damned that followed the Azure Flames and the destruction of the Old World. Imagine now what it took for The Archmage to hold him off until the White Tower People could stand on their own. Imagine now what it took for The Emperor to cast him down and destroy him forever. Imagine what it took for The Engineer to get past The Necromancer's defenses and join forces with those others to ensure that The Necromancer would fall.

Imagine, and be glad that you live now long past that terrible era.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The South American Incident-13

Ken intercepted the hit team sent to ambush him, and after a short, brutal firefight in the street he killed all but one of them. The last one lived only because Ken chose to spare him, and having shot the man he then tracked the hitter back across Bogota to the hideout where his handler waited to kill them all instead of paying them off. Ken didn’t stop the handler from killing the loose end, but he did get into a firefight with that spook. Ken wounded that man, and attempted to track the spook to his boss, but this guy had the presence of mind to just kill himself instead.

The dead spook did not remember to frag his phone, so Ken lifted the spook’s phone and waited for his boss to put in a call. Ken traced the call, and then paid the boss a visit unannounced. He arrived as the boss and his staff exited their safehouse, provoking a running firefight through the streets and on the highways of Bogota that involved the police as Ken chased the boss and his staff in a car chase that Hollywood directors would envy. This ended as the boss approached the American Embassy, where the chase went into a nearby carpark; Ken killed the staff in a series of sublime shots to their skulls, and put down the boss as he ran for a waiting helicopter.

Ken took off the boss the rogue spies’ operational codebook, and then took off in the chopper to meet with the boss’s superiors: the C.I.A. faction of the rogue network, operating out of Narco turf in the jungle. He passed word on the Israeli and British factions’ presence to Marisol, who passed it to the Colombian government factions that she trusted, and they moved swiftly to roll up those networks; they went down in vicious urban firefights that leveled a city block apiece.

Ken did not hesitate when he landed. He shot the welcoming party, catching them by surprise. Taking their guns, he ran a one-man army assault on the compound killing everyone he came across; no friendlies stood in that compound, so he felt confident in ensuring that naught but the dead remained to testify to his presence.

He blasted his way into the compound’s citadel and engaged with those rogue C.I.A. agents. Two of the three went down in seconds. The third got under cover, and then seized the little girl that Ken came for to use as a hostage. Ken shot the man in the eye, forcing the man to drop the girl, but it did not kill him. With one eye remaining, the man shot at Ken and then at the girl in rage. Ken took a few shots in covering the girl as she ran for shelter, putting him on the floor as he moved to reload.

The rogue spy aimed at Ken, about to shoot him dead.

“Surprise!” The Colonel said, standing in the doorway with one arm in a sling, and killed the spy.

“Good plan.” The Colonel said, “Try not to nearly die next time.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

The South American Incident-12

Marisol gathered up her courage and dealt with the police again, themselves still in some shock at the unexpected attack upon their families. Now that the kidnapping had become national news, and had hit the international wires, backing down on either side became unthinkable. As Ken told Marisol in a text message, “The die is cast.”

The call came, and this time the rogue agents in charge gloated as to their superior position. As Ken said, Marisol did the talking. She surprised the agents by not meekly acceding to their demands, but instead insulted them and mocked them- “acceptable losses”, she said.

“What can you do now?” she said, “Your violence is front-page news throughout Colombia, and the wire services now tell the world of what you’ve done here. You wanted my daughter so you could bargain with my husband, but he is now dead. You took the sons and daughters of honorable men that sought a peaceful conclusion when we challenged your desire to negotiate honestly with us. You men call yourselves ‘professionals’? You are nothing of the sort. Professionals are not so easily roused to senseless butchery to assuage bruised egos.”

Quietly, in her earpiece, Ken said “Keep going. I’ve found their line and I’m tapping it.”

“You are in no position to say shit to me.” said a rogue agent, “We got to your man, and we got to your cops’ kids and women. We can just skip this and take you out too.”

“Oh? Is that so? Then this is not about money, is it? You wouldn’t say so if it were.”

“I’m in.” Ken said, “Tracing.”

“No, you’re after The White Death. No, don’t bother denying it. It’s all people on the street, or online, talk about now. You show up in the wake of our nation’s—our region’s—liberation from decades of collusion between the narco-trafficking syndicates and corrupt officials throughout the continent by this one man, a man strong enough and tough enough to do what should have been done generations ago, and then exposes their ties to Washington D.C. and the Anglo-American Empire based there.”

“Got it.” Ken said, “Sending coordinates.”

“Oh no,” Marisol said, “you’re here to bring us back under your banksters’ boots. That is not going to happen.”

Just then, a shot echoed into the house from across the street.

“They had a hitter in position; he was about to take the shot.” Ken said, “He’s dead, and I know where they’re hiding.”

A few moments passed, and the rogue agent on the other end went silent.

“Your man is dead.” Marisol said, “The White Death got him. He knows where you are, and he’s coming for you. If you value your lives, you had better run.”

“I don’t think so.” The agent said, “We have what you want.”

“And if you don’t return what is ours, unharmed, then pray that the White Death finds you first. We will not be merciful; we are The People of the Sun.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

The South American Incident-11

When Marisol called Ken, he already knew what had happened.

“How is your husband?”

Marisol calmed herself enough to say “He is still alive, barely, and he’s under guard at the hospital.”

“Have you gotten a call demanding ransom yet?”

“No. When should I expect it?”

“Soon. They need to secure a hiding place for your daughter first, and then ensure a secure line between that place and where they’re going to make that call.”

Marisol sighed.

“These men are professionals. They expect the police to attempt a trace, so they’re setting up a decoy location to test for it.”


“She’s fine. She’ll be shaken up, and a bit bruised from rough handling, but they need her alive and unspoiled for this to work. When the police come to handle the ransom call, cooperate as best you can with them; let them do their jobs. What I want you to do is to record everything, start to finish, and let me follow that. Then there’s something I need you to pass to your husband.”


“He needs to pretend to die, and you need to go along with it. If the bad guys think that they got him on a slab, then they’re going to think that you’re going to fold faster than Superman on laundry day, and that means that they’re going to come out of hiding to scare the crap out of you and push you into giving them everything that they want- assuming that you’re too weak to defend yourself.”

Marisol paused, and then said “This is very dangerous.”

“I’m good, but I still need a lead if I’m going to track them. This is going to put themselves out where I can get to them- and you know what happens once I get my teeth into them. They’ll freak out, and in their panic they will lead me straight to your daughter.”

After a moment, Marisol said “Okay, as you say then.”

Marisol then hung up. While Ken broke down his kit and quickly moved to his next spot, Marisol went to the hospital and spoke with the Colonel about Ken’s plan. He silently agreed, and with the aid of his doctors they performed a convincing spectacle of a failed emergency surgery followed by a public announcement of his death.

The police then came to Marisol, and asked her to cooperate with the kidnapping matter, and as Ken said she complied and cooperated. She also began recording the entirety of her dealings with them, and Ken kept abreast of the situation there through those recordings. When the call came, the police did attempt to trace that call. They found the location that the Intelligence network wanted them to find, which was empty and abandoned, making a mockery of them and outing their identities to these rogue agents; their own children got kidnapped, and some of their wives, within the day in retaliation.

When Marisol called, Ken made it simple: “Keep them talking. You know how.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

The South American Incident-10

The global media exploded once the Colonel corroborated the confessions that the C.I.A. agents in the video made, and an international incident resulted when the Colombian government arrested the Americans as spies and bound them over for trial. Meanwhile, the blogosphere erupted with posts that the one making the video had to be “The White Death” himself while others claim that these are either fake agents or burned agents sacrificed to save the Agency from political scrutiny in the United States.

The knowledgeable conspiracy bloggers keyed into the Skull & Bones connections, and soon traced the families of these Americans down; they found that their elders held high-ranking posts in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (i.e. the Pentagon’s top echelon), and many current and former Cabinet officials or White House staffers.

In addition to that are current and former Congressmen, Federal Reserve officials, officers at firms like Goldman Sachs, Disney, or Penguin and faculty at Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Vassar or the more prominent state schools: UC-Berkley, U Chicago, etc. These American spies were well-connected indeed, scions one and all of the Anglo-American Establishment.

One by one, the American spies broke ranks and turned on each other. One by one, each of them tried to buy leniency by fingering their fellows and painting themselves as hapless innocents. One by one, each of them—desperate to get out of their predicament, unable to cope with the knowledge of their abandonment by even their own mothers—contributed to their final doom as they sought some measure of solace, of mercy, from the Colombian government.

Monitoring the situation from afar, the handful of Intelligence community officials running this rogue network met over a secured line for a regular conference call. They antagonized each other, with all of them claiming that the American, British and Israeli members conspired amongst themselves to take out and usurp the South American members. The words became deeds, and soon infighting broke out; within a week, the South American members were all dead, murdered in ambushes or poisoned by assassins.

The American, British and Israeli faction then met to decide on what to do. They agreed that they had to personally handle the matter now, so each flew to Bogota and set up a headquarters there where they received their best cleaners and hitters and briefed them on the situation. They agreed that the Colonel was the one route to “The White Death”.

The endgame finally began.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The South American Incident-09

Ken and his fast friends took up a room in the hostel that night. The group, thinking Ken to be One of Them—part of their class, if not another Agency asset—paid him no mind as he made himself a party facilitator. They failed to notice that he handled their drinks, and as such failed to notice that he slipped a drug to them that would be their undoing: Scolopomine, “The Devil’s Breath”. Within a half-hour, all of them were under its sway and Ken had them trapped. Now Ken would compel the leader of this Intelligence network to come to him.

First, having seized control of his targets’ minds, he compelled them to divulge all. They took turns confessing that they were all C.I.A. agents, assigned to South America as part of an operation to seek out and identify a figure known as “The White Death” here. Unable to resist Ken’s commands, they explained that this guy had interfered with a long-running operation that the Agency uses to finance the most important—and unpolitic—operations that would not receive Congressional approval.

Second, they told Ken in detail of their own connections—familial, fraternal, social—to their superiors, and how this was a milk-run assignment meant to give them some easy field experience before being rotated into the fast track towards the top of the Agency. The men were all members of Skull & Bones, while the women were daughters of Bonesmen betrothed to junior Bonesmen, and so they felt no real danger despite being in the middle of Narco country. If anything went wrong, all that they had to do was hit a panic button and an evacuation team would be on its way from the Embassy.

Third, they went on to brag about how this would all turn out to their advantage in the end. This “White Death”, as they explained, had so cleaned out the region’s criminal syndicates that their superiors would now be able to install loyal puppets throughout the network and rebuild it into a far more profitable and effective machine that would allow American influence to remain dominant here for at least another 25 years, and probably 50 or more. Killing all of those gangsters and government officials meant that, after some short-term disruptions, instead of getting rid of now-useless locals themselves all they had to do was to groom and install new tools to keep the game going.

Ken recorded all of this, filming the entire conversation. Then he put them to sleep, and while they slept he uploaded the entire thing to YouTube, Vimeo, and other social media video sites using a series of backup accounts as well as a proxy server to mask tracking back his location before it was too late. Ken knew that the Scolopomine would induce amnesia in these poor suckers, so his identity was safe from C.I.A. identification for now. Then he sent a text message to the Colonel where to pick them up; he did.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The South American Incident-08

Ken hung up, and as he disassembled and stored his kit he maintained his awareness. Soon he slipped out of his concealed location near the power line and stepped back inside an adjacent café, got into a storage room and did a quick-change. He came out looking like a college-aged backpacker on a long holiday, complete with backpack, and took a back table in the café.

Ken’s disarming smile and warm, slightly naïve demeanor in this persona made him invisible to the locals as well as most of the travelers taking in the café’s array of food and drink; its proximity to the power line made it a local wi-fi hot-spot, hence its popularity with travelers. Taking up a cup of coffee, Ken completed his disguise by pulling a tablet out of the pack—the same one that now concealed his lineman’s kit—and appeared to all observing that he’s either blogging or plotting his next stage of his grand tour.

The news feeds—English, Spanish and Portuguese alike—all talked about the massive regional scandals involving “The White Death” and his crusade against the criminal syndicates and the corrupt in government throughout South America. Central American news outlets echoed their South American counterparts, but so far North American—specifically, American—outlets said little or nothing. Only the international newswires carried any significant information, and that was repeats from South American news outlets.

Ken went to the many sites and feeds for the alternative press, and there he found information beyond the bland narratives of the mainstream outlets. Watching a few interviews, while enjoying his coffee and a light lunch, Ken got all that he needed to know about who stood to lose if “The White Death” was not taken down: a long-running inter-agency intelligence network, including agencies from the U.S., Israel, the U.K., Canada and all of Central and South America.

“I’ve really stepped into it now.” Ken thought, “But there has to be a central group running this network, spread throughout the network’s operational area.”

After finishing his meal, Ken decamped to a nearby hostel, where he met some visiting students from Canada and the United States. He ingratiated himself with them, and accompanied them around the small town near Colombia’s border with both Brazil and Peru, saying “There’s safety in numbers, you know, and this is Narco territory.” The handful of students agreed.

While out, he charmed the guys and enthralled the girls amongst them. Ken sized up that they were, much as his own old friends were once, mostly middle or upper-class suburbanites from schools of prominence- at least, regionally. He was not disappointed: two from Yale, one from Harvard, and the last from Georgetown. He spun a tale of attending the University of Chicago, studying under students of Leo Straus, and taking some time away before taking up a position at a law firm in that same city; this got their approval, and that is how Ken knew that they were all actually C.I.A. agents.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The South American Incident-07

Ken wired his spoofer into the landline. He scanned his surroundings for hostiles as the device did its work, and when it finished its work a light tone told Ken that he had a secure connection. Using an old telephone lineman’s kit, he called Marisol.


“Marisol, it’s Ken.”

“Ken? The telecom company’s number came up on the Caller I.D. reader. How-“

“You know that I won’t answer that question, so don’t finish it. Where I am, and how I got to you, is better kept to myself.”

“Why the secrecy? You can trust me.”

“You, yes, but I don’t trust the environment we’re in Marisol. I’m staying hidden for your protection far more than for my own.”

“Considering all that’s said about you in the press, especially online, I find that hard to believe. You have no less than a score of fan pages on Facebook alone.”

“That is part of the problem.” Ken said, “Your husband told me that I’d attracted the attention of more than a few spooks, especially the C.I.A., and South America is regarded internationally as the backyard of the U.S. so I expect some backlash from the Agency.”

Just then, Ken heard another phone pick up.

“You would be correct.” The Colonel said, “My contacts tell me that American officials with State Department credentials are all over the region talking with prominent government officers, civil and military alike. Others, without diplomatic cover, are known to be talking to what’s left of the big syndicates.”

“So far, you’ve not been noticed in American media, but that could change.” Marisol said.

Ken chuckled. “The regional Station Chiefs are arguing over if I’m a useful asset or not, which is why things quieted down.”

“You think so?” Marisol said.

“No, he is right.” The Colonel said, “I told the other girls to get beyond American reach.”

"That’s difficult.” Ken said, “There isn’t much space left in the world where the Agency has no assets handy to do what it wants, due to its long-standing relationships with allied agencies as well as a lack of friendly places to go.”

“True, my friend, which is why they’re going to Russia. I have an old friend there that owes me a favor, so they will be well-cared for there.”

Marisol gasped.

“Cold War remnants have their uses, my dear.”

Ken chuckled.

“So, that—again—just leaves the little one.” Ken said, “Marisol, Colonel, I would advise you to prepare for her abduction.”

“What do you mean?” Marisol said.

“The real power in this scheme will come forth now to attempt to fix things himself. He will see you two as the weak links, and will get to you through your daughter. He will use the best men available and he has plenty of quality operatives; he will get to her.”

“What will you do?” The Colonel said.

“Track her, find him, kill them all and bring your daughter home to you- as I promised you.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The South American Incident-06

Colombia exploded.

Ken went into the streets, followed leads, and let the gangsters and strongmen do their tough guy thing over and over again. Each time Ken would barge into a bar, a house, or whatever sad excuse for a place that this crew or that gang used as a hangout or a headquarters and then do his best to let the locals put up their intimidation routine while he marked all of the exits as well as the gangsters. Then he killed all but one of them, get the next link in the chain, finish him off and go.

He left the police in disarray, moving faster than they could react. He left the courts at a loss for words, because he did in days what they failed to do in years. The cartels soon saw that they could not ignore him, so they set up ambushes. They failed, and the body count kept climbing. Entire crews got wiped out. As Ken ranged wider and wider, the carnage escalated to match and soon syndicates that endured for years died in a day. Criminal brotherhoods with shadowy origins generations ago heaped into rubble within hours. Ken became “The White Death”.

Into the jungles Ken went, following the trail of clues and networks of connections. Fields long left for cultivating coca burned, and so did the cartel overseers and peasant collaborators. Fortresses in the wilderness, long held against the government, fell to Ken by himself- and he burned them all to ash.

The cartels in Colombia, which also had reach into the rest of South America, called out for aide against “The American Super Soldier”. Word in the press told of a wonder-warrior from America, a man that did what so many in so much of the world wanted done but lacked the will or the means to do so, and speculated as to what he was: a C.I.A. wetwork operative, a Blackwater contract killer, a rogue U.S. special forces soldier, a secret experiment gone wrong, and so on. The media ran with this, knowing Ken only by the heroic epithets given to him by those in the street, given Ken the aura of menace needed to make his final push.

In the last push for the cartel leadership, Ken again assumed that they would attempt to trap him and overwhelm him with superior numbers. He intercepted the plan, and it would involve a total of four international hitmen teams from across the South American underground. Some of them were also official government operatives, which made him quite happy. Once Ken confirmed the intelligence, he put into action the only viable response to such an attempt to rendezvous and crush him.

For the government crooks, Ken passed that to The Colonel. The old man, wielding Ken’s popularity like a club, went after his rivals and took them out before they could mobilize. A nasty firefight ended that threat. The Colonel then pushed the diplomatic corps to demand similar responses- it worked.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The South American Incident-05

After dinner, The Colonel told Ken all of what he knew: the government enacted a policy against the drug cartels, one of interdiction and suppression, at the behest of the United States of America (and with their assistance); the cartels retaliated by raiding the government’s strongholds to undermine the support that the people gave to the government, and part of these raids included assassinating officials such as judges; the leading faction in the government exploited this by using such posts as virtual death sentences for political rivals, which is why The Colonel got appointed as a judge upon retiring from the Colombian Army. Six assassination attempts later, The Colonel realized that the cartels will shift tactics to get to him, and the government won’t do anything about it, which is why he asked for Ken to help.

“Why would they not go abroad to abduct your older daughters?” Ken said.

“The killings are public because they are political statements by the cartels to the people that the government is not their friend.” The Colonel said, “Any alternative must fulfill the same purpose, and causing problems abroad does not do that here. So, for now, they are safe.”

“And the neighboring governments?”

“Each of the governments here in South America, behind closed doors, knows that they are in an inferior position with regard to the United States of America- the hegemon of the Americas. Even if they agree with destroying the cartels, relations with the Americans alone will impede alternatives to the American policy. The reality, however, is that all of our politics are riven with factions and rivalries that will use events to advance their goals or eliminate enemies.”

“Bottom line?”

“Don’t expect much help, and none from anyone other than me or those that owe me.”

Ken sighed. “I can handle that.”

“You and I share an associate.” The Colonel said, patting his own Browning Hi Power, “You will do just fine, if all Marisol tells me is true.”

“Well,” Ken said, “it seems that the best approach is to do something that forces the cartels to take their focus away from you and…”

The Colonel passed Ken a manila envelope. “I have a few suggestions.”

Ken nodded, intrigued. “I think it will be time to take a very personal tour of Colombia.”

The Colonel laughed. “Colombia is a beautiful country, filled with natural wonders that have to be seen with one’s own eyes to be believed. Take my advice, and follow my leads, young Ken. See all we have to see, and make joyful noises wherever you go. Let this experience be one that no one ever forgets.”

Ken then took his leave, as The Colonel wanted some time with Marisol before returning to his work in the morning. He returned to the guest room prepared for him, emptied the envelope, and read its contents: cartel safehouses, contacts, caches, etc. here in Bogata.

“After I’m done, no one will ever do this again.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

The South American Incident-04

Ken walked into the guest room set aside for him. As requested, the servants did not open his luggage and put away his clothes, so they remain on the footlocker at the base of the twin-sized bed. He took the larger of them, put it on the bed and opened it up. Underneath a few clothing articles he drew forth a pistol case. From that case he drew forth his preferred pistol: a classic Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic, chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum. He shifted the pistol to his off-hand and drew the spare magazines from the case, which he put into a side pocket on his pants, before racking the slide to charge the chamber.

“I see that you still work with Mr. Browning.” Marisol said, standing in the doorway.

“No one else enjoys his support or prestige.” Ken said, “I need a full briefing, Marisol. I assume that your husband will accommodate me.”

“After dinner.” she said, “He will tell you all.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

The South American Incident-03

Ken arrived at the Martinez residence, a home originally built by the Spanish colonizers several generations ago and refurbished periodically to maintain and update the property, so it was a large and airy mansion on no small amount of land. This was, in the traditional sense, a proper household and the man of the house—Colonel Raphael Martinez (retired)—was himself a scion of Colombia’s upper class. Looking far more Spanish than Colombian, much like Marisol, the Colonel displayed in his bearing the charisma and vigor often expected (and rarely exhibited) by his class in society. Raphael was just the man to lead the government’s fight against the cartels, which is also why he—like his predecessors—was a marked man.

The Colonel met Marisol and Ken at the front door, kissing his wife and shaking Ken’s hands in turn as they got out of the car.

“I am pleased to meet you at last.” The Colonel said, “Marisol has always spoken so highly of you since I began courting her all those years ago.”

Ken could not help but to notice the disparity in age between his old university friend and her husband—at least ten years, if the pepper-like hair was more stress-induced than just aging—and he noted that Marisol’s affection for the Colonel, while genuine, seemed constrained by convention. He also noticed the slight printing of a pistol beneath his host’s jacket; this was, as expected, no foolish man.

“Come, then.” The Colonel said, “Let us go inside.”

Ken allowed his host to show him into the mansion. Servants took up Ken’s luggage, such as it was, and removed it upstairs where he would later find it in the room set for him. Meanwhile, he went with his host and friend to a balcony overlooking the city. The Colonel seated Marisol, and then showed Ken to another chair, before taking one himself. Another servant appeared to serve them tea.

“You came a very long way, and on such short notice.” The Colonel said.

“My business in Russia had just concluded when your wife reached me, Colonel.” Ken said.

“Indeed.” The Colonel said, producing a pen and a notepad from an interior pocket, “Your reputation with regard to your business pursuits has already attracted some attention in the circles that I often travel.”

The Colonel wrote something down and passed pen and paper to Ken.

“I do hope that I am not too indiscreet for your needs, Colonel.” Ken said as he read the note, “I prefer to keep my business to myself, and leave those unconcerned alone.”

The note read You should be aware that you have attracted the attention of the Intelligence Community, and they are not happy with you.

"You deal well with complications." The Colonel said.

"I follow Alexander's example." Ken said, "It's always worked for me."

Friday, August 31, 2012

The South American Incident-02

Ken and Marisol, accompanied by her security detail, left the airport in the sort of luxury car one would expect from a prominent dignitary. Marisol, sitting next to Ken in the back, leaned into his firm and upright form. Ken glanced over at her, and then at the two security guards sitting across from them, before looking out the tinted windows.

“Your homeland is as beautiful as you made it out to be.” Ken said, “But you did not call me here to show me all of this, did you Marisol? Whatever trouble you’re in, it must be severe if both your own security detail and the government’s armed forces cannot handle it.”

Marisol nodded to one of the bodyguards, and he produced a box.

“Nothing grisly, I hope.” Ken said.

The bodyguard opened the box, and within it Ken saw a manila envelope all bunched up and a small photo album. He handed the album and the envelope to Ken. Ken opened the envelope and saw a hand-written letter, followed by a photocopy of a mock-up wanted poster for Marisol’s husband. The photo album displayed photographs of her husband’s predecessors, slain in various assassinations, and more depicting the worse fates of the wives and daughters of those brave men- slaves to the cartel men, or sold to others of similar character and means.

“I presume that your husband is undaunted by such threats to himself.” Ken said.

“He knows no fear.” Marisol said, “Not for himself.”

“I can feel the muscles underneath that finery. He does not worry for you either.”

Marisol nodded, confirming Ken’s suspicions.

“My elder daughters are already far, far away from here. They are in Spain, attending the same preparatory school that I did years before.”

“So, this is about your youngest child, isn’t it?”

“Your youngest, Rosa, then. This is about a threat upon her. I assume that you’re not asking me to play bodyguard, because I think that your security detail is sufficient for that role.”

One of the bodyguards cleared his throat.

“Col. Martinez acknowledges that, in his present capacity, he is trapped in a defensive position. While we can hold our present position quite well, we are dependent upon intelligence from sources that are not under our control and therefore we cannot take offensive measures to deal with the threats before they approach us.”

“So, the cartels have the imitative.” Ken said, “You also are not confident that the government is behind you.”

“Correct.” the bodyguard said, “We believe that the Colonel's rivals in the government intend to allow the cartels to assassinate him and destroy the household."

Ken sighed. Not this shit, again.

“The Colonel is not in favor with Washington, is he?”

“The State Department, and the D.E.A., make many statements praising my husband’s efforts.” Marisol said, “But the C.I.A. maintains their long-standing ties to their cartel assets.”

“Typical.” Ken said, “This really is a mess.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

The South American Incident-01

Bogota, Columbia.

Ken waited until the very end to get off the flight he took from Moscow. As he walked into the terminal, he saw the woman who summoned him waiting there, holding a sign that bore his full name. He smiled, walked up to the woman and embraced her in a mighty hug.

"Marisol!" he said, "It's good to see you!"

Marisol, a head shorter than the American, had to stand on her toes to reach him. She kissed him on the cheeks.

"I am glad that I reached you. You are so hard to find."

Ken smiled. "I move around a lot."

Marisol took Ken in one arm and lead him down the terminal towards the baggage claim area. She nodded to one of the nearby uniformed men, and he spoke into a walkie-talkie.

"My security detail will join us shortly." she said.

"Detail? I heard that you married well, but I had no idea-"

"My husband is one of the bravest men in Columbia, a judge known to resist the cartels."

Ken chuckled. "That has to be why you couldn't talk on the phone."

"Indeed, it is. Our old friends said that you hadn't changed since university, so I knew that if I could find you-"

"-I would come to your aide. True."

The two of them soon found themselves flanked by plain-clothed men with the gait and demeanor of bodyguards.

"Let us wait until we get into the car before I explain further why I need your help. For now, just tell me why you were in Russia. For a woman? For a friend?"

Marisol stared into Ken's eyes.

"Or was it something...more personal?"

Ken sighed. "Gregor. I tracked him down to St. Petersburg. I finally got him in Moscow. I got my ring back when you called. It's good that you called when you did because it gave me the cover I needed to escape his family."

Marisol gasped. She noticed a string around Ken's neck, and a ring under his shirt.

"I remember." she said, "Gregor just laughed when the police arrested him for Keiko's murder."

"Diplomatic status means nothing to a Kalashnikov rifle in my hands."

Marisol nodded. This was the Ken she remembered from her university days all right.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Administrivia for End-of-Summer 2012

Greetings, readers.

This week is an off week. The last serial is complete, and yet another has yet to start. I intend to fix that by next Friday, when I intend to start another serial that will go through the Autumn and into Winter. After that will be a few end-of-year posts looking back, and a new serial will begin on the first Friday of 2013.

After considerable experimentation with post lengths, serial lengths, and so on since I launched this 'blog back in June of 2009 I have finally settled on a format that works best for me in terms of both post and serial length.

Corinth's Consolidated Chronicles will now standardize around four serialized short stories of approximately 6000 words apiece, with each post averaging 500 words. This comes out to four stories running 12 posts each. With each post publishing on Friday morning of each week, that means that you will get a new serial update right around lunchtime each Friday to help you ease yourself towards the weekend and rev up that engine to enjoy your weekend. 48 out of every 52 weeks will just like that, and I will use the other four weeks for posts like this.

In addition, I have something new to ask of you, my readers. I want you to tell me, by sending me an email or leaving a comment to this post, what serialized story you would most like to see taken up and revised into either a novel-length form or incorporated into a collection that total up to a novel-length book. I will announce what story or stories are most requested at the end of this year, and thereafter work on getting that done so that you can read it on your Kindle, Nook, or other e-book reader of choice (and, as soon as I can, do Print On Demand).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Star Whacker-12

Assassination is a lot like being a submariner on a military boat: there are long stretches of tedium, punctuated by (mercifully) brief moments of sheer terror. I knew at this time that I’d been very lucky, in that I still had not been noticed by my rival. All that I could tell is that he believed himself to be the only serious operator, and all he had to worry about were the cops and the Feds. For the cops, he’d unleashed the crazy street-level hitters and wanna-bees; they kept the local cops, the county sheriff, and the state patrol very business. For the Feds, he leaked half-truths about security to the ambitious syndicate-type hitters looking to enter the big time; that kept them, by way of Homeland Security, busy. With the majority of law enforcement personnel distracted, this guy felt himself safe to operate.

He did opt for a bomb, and he did opt for bombing the target’s stage. Since he personally oversaw the stage’s setup, and knew the target’s show routine, he knew exactly what to rig to fail by bomb such that death-by-debris would be certain. I knew enough, having known enough stage techs, to know where to look; I found the device rigged on a row of lights directly above where the target stands. As part of my final set of “What do you do?” fluff pieces, I talked to the chief light tech on the tour and got him to take me to where that bomb had to be- and when we got there, I pointed it out as being a bit out of place. (“Is that supposed to be there?”) The guy didn’t figure it to be a bomb, but instead as just a timer attached by putty; he cut the putty—the explosive—down to about half its charge by taking off the edges. (“Yeah, that’s a lot of adhesive. You’ll be fine by just running a finger around the timer and reattaching it.”) I played dumb; since he didn’t take me that seriously, even if he liked me, this was easy.

When the show when on, and the bomb went off, it didn’t drop the light right away. The noise of the show muffled the blast, and the light show below concealed the flash, so no one noticed what the matter was until the light did fall once the target moved away. That panicked the crowd, and then cops appeared on stage announcing an immediate arrest; this also meant that the show ended right then. In the aftermath, I slipped the drug into the target’s water and waiting for the heightened heart rate and respiration to accelerate the drug’s hallucinogenic effects into full form. The target’s unstable emotional state went out of control, and went violent in short order. Fortunately, I had already left the room at this time, so I was not in danger. Instead, the target attacked the children; I called the cops, and the cops had to gun down the target in self defense.

A week later, a courier arrived at my place to deliver a package. It was a briefcase, and within it I found gold bullion. Shortly thereafter I took a Skype call; it was my patron, congratulating me.


“You’re worth it, Mr. Smith. Suicide by cop? Inspired, Mr. Smith. We are impressed, and we will be calling on you again.”

Shit just got real.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Star Whacker-11

Since I had no intention of shooting, stabbing, bombing or otherwise using violence means to kill the target, I had to figure out what method to use. Again I chose to poison my target, but I could not go with inducing a narcotic overdose this time. Again, I had the use of unusual habits as well as advanced age (if you can call being over 50 “advanced age” anywhere but the entertainment business), so I went with using a hallucinogenic substance. I would introduce it into the target’s liquid intake, which would be faster due to the failed attempt that would immediately precede my kill, wait for the target to come under its influence and then induce the target to do something like jump off the balcony.

I had a few useful fans in the local university campuses, so procuring what I needed—access to the labs and materials—was not difficult. I pass around some tickets, some backstage passes, and some empty promises (“Sure, I can get you some face time.”). I get what I need, take a weekend at the family cabin—while my FBI-with-benefits went out of town—and cook up the stuff. (I did not fail chemistry while in school.) Then, once I knew which rooms the target booked, I secreted the stuff in those rooms and waited.

I didn’t need to wait for long. The target’s advance team arrived a few days before, and as I’d expected the target’s deputy security head—recently hired when the target’s tour came to North America—was the ex-IRA guy. He proved to be a bold man, operating openly and audaciously as his own bad self; his advance sheet says “Ex-IRA” on it, and he’s used that to build his security credentials, with a focus on “counter-terrorism”. I have to respect the man for being a bold son of a bitch.

I called my FBI fun-gal after he arrived. She and I had a laugh, and then she agreed to notify her superiors- assuming that they weren’t already on the ball. I needed him to do his thing, however, and that meant giving him enough rope to hang himself. I took advantage of my day job reputation as a celebrity journalist and gossip columnist to get a fluff interview out of him, of that “What’s your job on this tour?” sort. He and I walked and talked, and during this time we stopped for a drink. I got him to relax; he did not pierce my mask. This meant that he left fingerprints and DNA, which I collected when I told him to go ahead while I picked up the tab. Samples secured, I finished my interview with him. As I monitored the traffic that came after I posted the interview, I handed a set of my samples to my galpal; she passed them to the local police agencies under the cover of a FBI advisory warning.

So, what did I do with the other set? Well, I got them ready to ensure that he took the fall for the target’s death.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Star Whacker-10

I started scoping out the hotel and the concert venue, finding plenty of excuses to do so by way of taking up a celebrity-related slant on sports and civic engagement. (Oh, how self-important charity functions are when celebrities and star fuckers get involved.) Dovetailing my assassination work with my day job’s hyping of the upcoming three-night stand proved to be efficient and lucrative; I cashed a lot of fat paychecks from overtime as well as increased ad revenue from my blog traffic. Fortunately, I found plenty of places to stash useful things and learned what the security details will be when the target is on site in both places.

I also got on the list of trusted local media people, which took some use of my network of colleagues to go to bat for me. (Not as hard as it seems, as I am the only celebrity journalist with international reach and name recognition to match; being the big fish in a small pond is not that bad, now that the Internet lets me dig for dirt everywhere from anywhere.) This meant that I had the way to get to my target. With sufficiently free access to the space and the target, all I needed to do was to find some way to deal with the rival assassin- and I decided to make him work for me.

This ex-IRA guy is a bomber. He’s not going to attempt a long-range rifle shot. He’s not going to attempt a close-range handgun or knife attack. He’s not going to attempt to ram the target’s vehicle, or some other common insurgent method. He’s going to arrive ahead of the target, scout the territory, and then attempt to place a bomb. If he’s still at-large after all this time, then he’s been in the United States for a while; he’s ditched his accent, and he’s taken a cover identity that easily allows access to a target’s likely spaces—home, office, etc.—and that cuts things down considerably.

Using euphemisms, I’ve discussed this with my FBI funtoy. (She’s safe enough once I get a glass of wine in her.) By liberally lacing in asides full of popular culture references, and talking about the stuff that Mariska Hargitay gets up to, I keep her fantasies of using my ascension to the Law & Order: SVU writing staff to “…get her out of these shit cities and back to Civilization…” so I can pick her brain about my problem.

To her credit, she solved it rather quick: “Your bad guy’s most likely to be part of the team that your diva victim sends in advance to secure the location. Your Not-Benson heroine’s got to finger him, and that means getting a DNA sample somehow. If he’s this good, then he’ll always keep his hands covered and be very careful about contact.” I rewarded her with empty promises of getting her a TV shot as I fucked her silly.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Star Whacker-09

I turned again to my FBI contact. I got her some VIP tickets for an Amanda Palmer show (after explaining how this will help her get where she wants to go), and that was enough to get her willing to pay attention during the regular briefings in the office. Letting her make me breakfast once a week, if you follow (“Think of it as practice for that rich husband, and yourself as the next Giada.”), got me the other favors I needed out of her. When she next came over, she had briefings about possible threats in hand; many of these were well-known within the Intelligence community, but not popularly-known at all, which is why I had to spend some time the next day double-checking the references.

Nonetheless, “burned spy” was an apt summary. I had three likely suspects. Two of them were American, both with military backgrounds. One was ex-Army—Special Forces, then CIA, burned with the failed coup against Chavez; turned to the cartels to survive, looking to come in but no one’s biting—and the other two are ex-Marine—Force Recon/Scout Sniper, then DEA, burned when the Sinaloa ties came out; he defected to Los Zetas—and the foreigner is ex-IRA (and said to be a burned MI5 agent). Great, a trio of trained, experienced, and desperate marksmen and knife-wielders with lots of times to syndicate operations of every sort- this is very much “if they catch me, they will kill me” and I don’t want to die.

Unlike my FBI screwtoy, I am very aware of the sort of people backing this play. They want this target dead, and they are not the least bit reluctant to smooth the hitter’s way. Therefore, manipulating the biggest American counter-intelligence agency can only go so far. Furthermore, if I try to flip the flow by trying to plant information on her to push towards her bosses that will probably backfire and bring me unwanted attention.

I was running out time, and I needed to strain as many rivals out as possible; I ran with a risky option. By way of proxies and other means to anonymize my identity and location, I put tips off on these likely rivals. Over the next week, I saw the two tied to the drug cartels south of the border get killed in arrest attempts. That left the ex-IRA guy, and if he’s like others I’ve read about then he’s been in the United States for years now. Still, one guy is better than three. I can deal with this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Star Whacker-08

I had the in I needed, and got the information I needed from that source, to begin a serious set of inquiries on the sly as I went about my day job business. The public records regarding my target did turn up plenty of previous history, most of which did not point towards possible suspects for pulling the trigger. Instead, I found plenty of possible fallguys, and that’s not to be discounted; having a fallguy is what made my first hit so successful.

I put aside that list of likely suckers for now, and instead focused upon hitters, which meant a turn towards who would put those hitters into the field, and that in turn meant digging more into the target’s life and past. That was right up my alley, so I met several of my contacts familiar with both the occult and the celebrities that deal in it. We took a backroom at one of our favorite coffee houses, and to keep the owner happy we splurged on lunch as well as drinks; he’ll not complain about us when we’re dropping $50 per head.

Informally, we’re called “The Coffee Crew”, and we meet for talking about more than this, but I got them focused through emphasizing my target’s coming to town and the curious practices that this celebrity is known for. Since we’re all a bunch of odd ducks, one way or another, we got away with this by taking collective refuge in the audacity of our unabashed eccentricity. (Yes, being a straight man that deals heavily in celebrity gossip without being a metrosexual makes me quite eccentric before taking the psychopathy into account.)

The bulk of our meetings are easily dismissed as shallow coffee talk about famous people and the rumored weird things that they’re said to do, which is why I can get away with talking about this in a public location, and they are reliable sources within their areas of expertise so I nurture these ties with a steady stream of inside information. Again, I know what they want so I know that I can always get what they want by giving it to them.

Because our meetings tend to be meandering affairs, I won’t go into details. Instead I will focus on this one exchange:

“Some of my sources in the boardrooms on the coasts, backed up by my contacts in Europe, tell me that they’re looking to force our fading famewhore into retirement.”

“Retirement, or ‘retirement’?”

“The latter, and it’s said that the ones pushing that are encouraging her spiritual practices.”

“You’re going to want to pay attention to people connected to Bohemian Grove as well as being a regular for Bilderberg. That’s where the confluence would be in the United States, and anyone that’s on about making that famewhore into a sacrifice has to have European ties because it’ll need to be signed off by the top men- and they’re in Europe.”

Intelligence ties, connected into the Trans-Atlantic network, means that I’m looking for very specific sorts of spies- and because any hitter will be a disposable asset, I’m looking for a burned spy for certain. The crooks, as I figured out here, will be just a dangerous distraction.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Star Whacker-07

While the liaison was a personable enough guy, the gossip addict proved to be quite the score; this was a young woman from the East Coast, from a respectable family with political ties, marking time as a functionary until she could score a rich husband. Many of my high school and college classmates would be aghast at this woman, including my ex girlfriends; when she wasn’t asking if I met this or that hot guy, she whined about being here- she wanted to be in New York City, Los Angeles, and would have been okay with Chicago, but nothing here meets her standards. (Which, considering the high reputation of our theater and music scene, I found doubly-astonishing; she was a flat-out gold-digging status whore, and not very good at hiding it.) I knew that she saw me as an escape route; I decided to use that against her.

Lunch went as expected. I got the press response I asked for, and I gave the liaison the expected fluffy-bunny demeanor. I gave the gossip girl all of the flirty moves, and as we left the diner I slipped her a card inviting her for drinks later. I got a call from her an hour later accepting the offer, and I knew that this was more than one form of in. I arranged a few things, told her when and where to meet, with the bait that I’d tell her all about my time in Europe if she did. I won’t bore with details; this isn’t about my conquests. I paid the cost to bring this one into the network, and I knew what maintenance would cost me to keep this one around, so it’s not like I didn’t see what the deal was.

What got me her continued interest was when I played the “I’m doing this to pay the bills until I make it as a novelist.” card, and I showed her the manuscripts I keep around to sell this to people. Then I laid on her the “I could use some help with my research.” gambit on her, showing her the True Crime book based on my first assassination (carefully scrubbed, of course), and how it’s doing on Amazon and so forth. It went like this:

“So, I’m looking to branch into crime thriller fiction, and I already know about high-profile murder scenarios so I’m writing one of these as the premise of the novel. I need to know a lot more about the usual sorts of hitmen and such, and I know that the FBI deals a lot with that sort of thing. It’s the sort of thing that can me a gig writing for Law & Order.”

I saw her eyes light up as I mentioned that show’s name. I knew that I had her hooked for certain.

“Yeah! I can do that!”

Find the thing that they want, and you can get anyone to do anything. By the weekend, I had her in my bed and the files detailing the common psychological and background profiles of hitmen on my hard drive. For her sake, she gave me nothing that was classified—she didn’t have that access anyway—and I gave her nothing that she wasn’t expecting. Keeping her satisfied and useful proved to be easier than expected.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Star Whacker-06

It’s quite important in the gossip business to maintain relationships, because that’s how one gets and keeps the access necessary to do this job. Assassination has a similar pressure, in that it’s a wise thing to treat human resources well while they remain at all useful to you. Therefore, I did keep my promise to my German colleague and contacted that former lead singer; I redeemed the time by having one of those “Where Are They Now?” interviews while he cut together a mix-CD of his live stuff from years of local radio appearances. I even got it shipped out the same day, and by the end of dinner I had both the hyper-local blog updated with the venue and dates scoop, and I updated my day job column with the aforementioned interview.

Now I turned my attention to my rivals. I knew that most assassins were either ascended crooks or burned spies, and my target would command a prize great enough to attract the former as well as the latter. If you’ve seen films like Smoking Aces, then you have an idea of just how dangerous this scenario can be- especially for a non-traditional such as myself. However, it is not the spies that concerned me most; the crooks worried me, because they are often both ambitious as well as incompetent- if they were, they wouldn’t have a record. Both sets had to be dealt with.

I am not some protagonist from a John Woo film. I am not an All-American James Bond. I am an otherwise-ordinary man that just happens to be good at killing people. These guys could wipe the floor with me if I played their game, so I can’t allow that. I needed intelligence, and I needed it now. This put me in a bind, as I’m a gossip columnist and not a crime beat reporter. Fortunately, everyplace has That Guy—the celebrity gossip addict—and I knew that if I just get an in with someone in the local FBI office I’d be able to leverage that into a source.

I needed that in. I didn’t have it. I spent my evening watching American Idol thinking about how to fix this gap. When the late news came on, I had my answer: I figured that someone on the security beat would have that in, and once the press release went out I’d have a reason to come by for a visit- I’d be expected to talk to the local FBI press liaison and get their press release. That’s how I could get that in.

The following morning the national morning shows released the new U.S. tour schedule, and an hour later I put in a call to the local FBI office to get a response. I could not believe that they had none, so I followed up with the expected “I can’t believe your serious.” line of questions until I sensed that I’d score that meeting- and then I got it. We met across the highway at one of the famous landmarks in town—a dining car—and got the table in the far corner from the door. I expected the liaison, but he brought a colleague- and that was the one I hoped for, the gossip addict.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Star Whacker-05

Back home, I resumed the daily routine as a gossip columnist and blogger. I made my calls, watched all of my social media feeds, kept an eye on my email inbox, and made my social calendar fill up with lunch dates, dinner dates, movie outings, and the usual stuff that I need to do to make this work. I did this with renewed vigor due to my decision to camouflage my preparations for the hit through my day job- and if I was to succeed, I knew that I had to fix things well before the fact, and that meant that I would win or die now.

My target was on tour, promoting a new album release that—as we insiders knew would happen—flopped. In order to salvage the failed commercial venture, the target had to ramp up the tour schedule and aggressively push the merchandise. That meant adding dates, and because of this fact I saw my target added a three-night stand here where I live. (Normally, this is not the case; normally, I have to go to Chicago to get this sort of experience, and I do resent this sort of treatment.) Given the arena-sized scope of the target’s entourage, only two venues in the area would be acceptable where I live, which meant that I had to scope out only two public venues. Each one had only one acceptable hotel nearby, so I only had one hospitality venue to scope out. Once I knew where my target would play, the only variable left would be the other assassins.

I got a break during a lunch date. I sat at one of my favorite pubs in the area, out on the patio, having a pint while I waited for my order to arrive. I had my tablet with me, and I got a Skype call from a European contact I met a few months before in Germany. In brief, the important parts when like this:

“Good day, Mr. Smith. It looks like you’re enjoying yourself.”

“It’s lunchtime where I am. You look like you just had dinner. What’s the word from the heart of Europe?”

“I got your query, so I arranged to get an interview after the show. You were right about using a red bracelet; that’s what made the difference.”

“I know this isn’t a social call, and your site hasn’t published any interview, so what do you have for me?”

“Dates, Mr. Smith. The press release isn’t due until tomorrow morning, your time, so you’ll get a scoop that your local readers will love you for…”

“…in return for?”

She held up an album cover for one of my hometown’s many notable musical acts, comprised of a handful of decent people whom I have some respect. They have since broken up and gotten into the far more regular and lucrative business of scoring films, television series and video games.

“The lead, I assume?”

She nodded.

“I have an in with him. Anything in particular?”

“Live performances.”

I smiled. “Not a problem. It’s as good as done.”

“Okay. I know you’ve done right my some of our mutual acquaintances, so I know you’re good for it.”

She then gave me the dates and the venue, which meant that I knew the hotel. My target must have the children along, as that venue’s close to all of the child-friendly attractions in the area. That’s a good thing to know; it gave me more options as to where to make my move.

“I’ll put in the call before I’m done here and get that fan service for you, and I’ll let you know when it’s on your way.”

German fangirls squee in a most adorable fashion.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Star Whacker-04

I chuckled at the CEO’s allusion to Becket.

“Many of these troublesome talents are troubled themselves. They are prone to habits that are self-destructive in nature. Should we not just let them end themselves? As it is, people still think that Elvis is still alive and he died on his own toilet. You can’t avoid conspiracy theory, so you might as well make it work for you.”

The CEOs chuckled. As we were all media professionals, we all knew the truth of that.

“Have you ever considered writing for something other than a column?” the other CEO asked.

“Do you have an offer? I didn’t know that you had any interest in anything other than material for your superhero books.”

“We’re looking to expand our other imprints. You’ve got something that could be a good answer to that popular Japanese comic.”

“You mean Death Note?”

He nodded. “Exactly. Villain Protagonist and all that.”

Even for me, this was surreal, but this was an opportunity so multi-layered that I could not refuse the challenge.

“Put that in writing, and we’ll do business.”

The first CEO then spoke up again: “If it’s really good, I’ll ensure that it gets the movie treatment.”

“All well and good, gentlemen, but again: put it in writing, and then we’ll talk business.”

They looked at each other, exchanged glances, and then we shook on that.

A week later, I received a letter by Registered Mail from those CEOs. Within was that very letter I asked for and it was indeed a contract offer. While the language—even to a legally-educated mind—only spoke about writing stories for comic and film production, the subject matter conveyed the true subtext of the contract. This was their offer to me of a contract to kill one of the most famous talents in the world, an idol so prominent that one name alone is sufficient to identify this celebrity. The cover for them was to supply a conduit for a so-called “inspired by” crime thriller, following Dick Wolf’s long-going Law & Order franchise. This was their deniability, and thus their out should they decide to burn me.

As I considered this contract, I also checked my usual celebrity and entertainment sources. The stories regarding my target also talked about issues regarding sketchy religious issues and with equally sketchy talk about disreputable associations abroad. I scowled, and I now saw what this was really all about. Rival parties wanted had their own reason to see this fading, troublesome target taken out- this one had long ago irritated the industry’s power-brokers, and alienated the community that nourished the target’s rise to fame and fortune, so these shot-callers deemed this a vulnerable target so now came the time to take it out.

Another hometown hit. At least I knew the territory. That would be the one advantage I would possess over the other assassins. The payment would, therefore, be greater than the contract’s stated compensation. I sensed that a greater game again unfolded before me, and that I was not one of those at the table. Instead, I was one of the pieces on the board. Again, I felt that I’d been set up to prove my worth; I realized then that I was no less a talent to be used and discarded than the celebrity I’d agree to kill.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Star Whacker-03

They smiled. All of us knew what I meant, and yet no one overhearing us would think me anything but an idealistic altruist, which is what all four of wanted. One might expect this to go on to discuss a hit. That did not occur; we resumed our inebriated small talk about celebrities, gossiping like everyone else. The drinking gave us the social cover needed to ignore that the serious subtext ever occurred.

As I made ready to return to the United States from Japan, I received an invitation to travel in the company of one of the most famous entertainment corporations in the world—theme parks, films, television, iconic comic characters, music, etc.—and recently acquired one of the two greatest comic book publishers in the world to make into a subsidiary for the purpose of exploiting its own set of iconic characters. I would be with the Chief Executive Officer of that corporation as well as that of the same comic publisher. I learned as I got that invitation that I came recommend by the Japanese executive that I dined with just a few nights before. It was then that I recalled the ties between the animation studio and the entertainment corporation; the other night was an interview, not the usual shmoozing.

This corporation is notorious for its in-house talent farm, many of which go on to careers that often end early with either a tragic accident or a sudden shift out of the spotlight due to their falling before a planned irrelevance, only for them to try again by submitting their own children to the same system of exploitation that used and abused them. As I sat on the plane with this CEO beside me, he said to me this:

“Many of the difficulties that these young performers face can be met, and my colleagues do work with their people to see that those difficulties get defeated, but some of them simply can’t be dealt with because they are beyond our reach. The business as a whole gets In its own way because once-great performers from a previous generation choke out the life of these young people, bolstering their own fading relevance as vampires feed off the blood of the living, ruining them in the process. If only someone would remind them that their part is played out, and they need to get off the stage.”

He looked at me as he said that last part. I glanced over, across the aisle, to his colleague from the comic publisher, and he nodded in concurrence. Given the talent in their recent big-picture items, I can see why both of these executives would want to do away with the elder generation of talent.

“It’s pathetic.” I said, “Too many hangers-on depend on this cadre of creeping cadavers to tell them the truth, and too many others don’t have either the means or the drive to clear out these idols so long past their time. They are irrelevant, and they need to be pushed out to make room for those that are relevant.”

The CEOs nodded. “Will no one rid us of these troublesome has-beens?”

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Star Whacker-02

Pulling Down the Idol

I became a contributor to one of the larger celebrity gossip aggregators online, and while that on its own doesn’t mean much, what it did mean is that far more established and successful colleagues in this game saw me as a promising new talent. I reached out to them, and they began introducing me to their friends—some of them being celebrities—and over a period of a year I built up my network of sources and contacts throughout the entertainment world. I enjoyed traveling throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, throughout continental Europe, Russia, Japan, South Korea and so on. I also became aware of the far wider world to which I now belonged.

I already knew some of the standards of the scene by this time, such as avoiding the naming of names so long as they—or their estate—can retaliate against you. This is a habit that I choose to push to this memoir; I expect that my executor will, in time, obey my instructions and release the version of this manuscript that names names after I am gone. As you, reader, likely come to this from reading the work I produce for my cover identity, I expect that you will not balk at this practice- and that you will be thrilled to guest the identity of the people I refer to herein.

While in Japan, I joined a colleague of mine—a Canadian-born journalist that had become a permanent resident and now worked as an independent investigator—for dinner. He and I joined a well-regarded international film producer and his assistant at an upscale restaurant, one that I knew had a history with the Yakuza. I felt this to be a curious thing, one that doubled when my colleague revealed that our table sat in a very quiet, secluded section away from prying eyes- a V.I.P. room, if you will. That was when I took a moment to look up the name of this restaurant online, and saw that this business also had a history with the Yakuza. When I remembered that my colleague also had ties to them, I realized that this was no ordinary evening talking about the entertainment business and the issues influencing it.

You would not believe that this executive was at all tied to organized crime. He had neither a personal nor a familial history, and neither was the family business—an animation studio—known for it. He was a friendly—even to foreigners—man, even when drunk. Neither he nor his assistant—a quiet, but sufficiently pleasant, young man—showed any of the tells associated with that notorious group. So, when the conversation—after a few rounds—turned to the subject of celebrities, I found myself quite surprised to hear the old man say the following:

“Idols are tools. We use them while they’re useful, and when they’re broken we throw them into the trash and get new ones. Idiots think otherwise, and I know you’re not an idiot, Mr. Smith.”

He got me. I did not expect such a direct move by him, and my colleague revealed his part in this play now.

“Mr. Smith is no fool.” he said, “Remember that clipping I showed you?”

The old man smiled and nodded. His assistant refilled my glass. I realized that they knew about the incident that I recounted above, which did get reported in the press in the form I intended. I’d been made, and all that remained was to see what they wanted of me.

“Indeed.” I said, “I follow the words of William Shakespeare with regard to any individual’s worth in life.”

My colleague and the old man smiled widely, and my colleague clapped in appreciation.

“So, Mr. Smith,” the old man said, “which part are you playing now?”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Whacker-01

I’m known as “Mr. Smith”. I’m what Randy Quaid calls a “star whacker”. I am a man that very powerful and influential entities contact when one of their human resources ceases to be an asset and becomes a liability, and these entities enter into a contract with me to remove that liability. I provide a desirable service, performed in a professional and confidential manner, that permits deniability to my clients and for which I receive rich compensation.

I came to my profession by a career path that is uncommon to those in my profession. Most of my peers either come organically out of a street-level background in organized crime syndicates, such as the Mafia, or they come artificially out of a professional background in the Intelligence community, such as the C.I.A., and as such they possess a certain set of tells and habits that easily identify them to others.

I am one of the more unusual individuals, as I came out of a calm civilian background with an ordinary suburban community and no known ties to either the government or the criminal underworld. I have no military experience, no criminal record, and no secrets from my youth or adolescence that an interested party could use against me- nothing recorded, anyway. What I have is a decades-long study of crime, espionage, and related knowledge; I used what I learned to develop and perfect my practices. This includes the very everyday cover identity that I use to mask my operations: I am a columnist, with degrees in Journalism and Political Science, and a blogger.

My secret is the same as that of my peers: I am a psychopath. I am aware of my pathology, and I have been since I was a child. I have long since learned how to fake the empathy that ordinary people possess, through a combination of the study of body language and my time studying psychology as part of a larger self-education in theater—specifically, acting—that I undertook as an extra-curricular while in college.

Like most, I understand that I am a predator. Unlike most, I sincerely believe that my predation is for the benefit of the species. I got noticed when I successfully disappeared an embarrassing has-been celebrity that emerged from my hometown a generation before, and long-since became a laughingstock. I researched my target as I pushed behind the scenes for that target to come back for one of those ridiculous inspirational talks to high school students.

I used an acquaintance to procure the narcotics necessary to subdue my target, without his knowledge, and I then used the target’s assistant to get them introduced into the target’s bloodstream- again, without the assistant’s knowledge. When the target went into cardiac arrest while on stage, I leaped forward and began administering medical aid; I gave one of my best performances on that day, making it seem as if I were doing the procedure correctly, and kept at it until the target’s death became certain.

I received a postcard at a post office box that I rented under an assumed name three months later. Without leaving prints, I read the card; I left the card in the box, having read the instructions in it, and scoped out the location of the dead drop location. A man in an off-the-rack suit left a wrinkled brown paper bag next to the base of a tree. That night, I retrieved it; inside was a note with yet further instructions. Two days later, I retrieved from another dead drop location $1 million in unmarked, non-sequential U.S. bank notes- and a note of appreciation. By the weekend, I found myself on an audio-only Skype call with the patron that paid me.

“Please,” I said, “you may as well call me ‘Mr. Smith’ for now.”

That, reader, is how I broke into the big time of the assassination game. As for the assistant and the addict, I framed them for the celebrity’s death. After all, someone had to be blamed, so I might as well have set that up beforehand to ensure that no attention came to me. Risky, but worth it.

Friday, May 11, 2012


This is the end. The last of the enemy, holed up in an old cabin on one of the many lakes in the county, keeping a little girl as a hostage as they wait for their man to come to them. Ken—that man—is on his way, and he’s done talking. Before the day is done, either the remaining gangsters will be dead or Ken will be ripped into pieces. But Ken doesn’t even think about that. All he’s thinking about is his dead friends, their dead son, and their little girl now being held by the men that killed them as bait against to trap him. Ken knows it’s a trap, but he doesn’t give a fuck- he’s going in anyway.
They weren’t as many as they were before, but they were mean and brutal- trained and experienced killers, all of them. They’re armed to the teeth, and they’re out for blood. They were also already dead, and they knew it, so they had nothing to lose and no reason to hold back. Ken also knew all of this, and he appreciated these facts as he skirted around the woods surrounding the cabin to get an opening.

He found one on the corner, where those inside couldn’t see and where those outside were on the far end of their perimeter patrols, and ran for the cabin. Within moments, men hidden outside the cabin sounded the alarm; the patrols came running and opening fire upon him. Ken returned fire, and everyone took cover. Ken caught two of them out of cover, dropped them both with the Mozambique Drill—two to the chest, one to the head, each—and hauled ass for a new position. As he ran, he took out another with a fluke shot that caught the gangster’s throat.

Now a pair of SUVs rolled up, with windows down and those inside firing upon him. Ken again took cover and fired back, killing the drivers and causing them to pile up. Bikers following behind tried to swerve wide, only to be caught by gunfire and shot down. More men poured out of the cabin to go after Ken, but Ken rushed them and cut them down with knife work before they could draw down upon him. By then the surviving men in the SUVs and amongst the bikers got to their feet, so Ken took up a dead man’s rifle and shot them down.

Bursting into the cabin, he killed another man by throwing his knife into the man’s forehead, took the shotgun in his hands and then cleared the ground floor and the basement of the handful of men. Alas, this meant shooting a man carrying incendiaries, which started a fire. Without delay, Ken ran upstairs to the top floor where the girl—and the last man—would be. With the shotgun run dry, all Ken had left was an old revolver he took on the firebug. Ready to die, he drew down on where in that room he expected the man to be.

Instead, he found the little girl shaking and the man dead—shot multiple times in the groin by his own gun—as she tried to keep the pistol pointed at the corpse. Fortunately, she recognized Ken; she dropped her gun, Ken stowed his and they went outside. Ken grabbed a pad of paper and something to write with, and together on the stoop he began writing.

* * * * *
Finished, Ken saw that The Sheriff and his men finally arrived. He took the girl’s hand, and he led her away from the now-burning cabin. He handed The Sheriff the pad of paper, and then walked to an overturned bike. He took the keys off the former owner, picked up the motorcycle, started it up and left with the little girl.

The Hell’s Angels were no more. The Zetas were soon to follow. The Syndicate disappeared. The girl, after burying her family, went to live with Reginald’s parents. As for Ken, he got a call. Guiscard needed a favor done in Europe, and figured that Ken would want a change of venue. Ken flew out, flying directly to France, that night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Guiscard anticipated that, somehow, someone amongst these guys would have the means to shoot him down. What he did not anticipate is exactly what it was; one pair of these guys carried a big box in the backseat of a car, and they fled behind some concealment. Out from that car they took the box, and out of that box they took a man-portable missile launcher. While the fight raged on nearby, they loaded the launcher and took aim at Guiscard; they fired, and to Guiscard’s merit he defeated the first attempt by exploited the superior turning ability of his craft.

The second attempt, now at a further range due to Guiscard seeing that a threat he could not easily deal with was at hand, took much more effort to do. They knew that Ken and his allies on the ground now looked for them, so they had to race against the inevitable to shoot down the plane before they got found. They managed to get that second missile off, and then got blasted into hamburger by a pair of militiamen armed with shotguns. As for Guiscard, he again managed to avoid getting shot down, but this time the missile’s warhead exploded a bit too close and damaged his attack plane; he flew for home- the enemy got their wish.

Not yet conceding defeat, the gangsters—now broken completely—scattered and went wild in a mad flight-forward. Some got gunned down by defending homeowners, some by the militia, but more than enough eschewed further home invasions altogether. However, one of the more tech-savvy of the bunch hooked up with one of the more crook-savvy, and together figured out that their original target was not the one that they needed. The two hid long enough to hook into the Internet and trace traffic flows in the county; they figured out that Reginald’s the man coordinating the action, and doing so from home- a location now known.

Not for long, however, as soon after those two got the coordinates to the others Ken came upon them and ambushed them from above. He made short work of them, and then—noticing what they did—warned the militia and the Sheriff, which meant warning Reginald, and then immediately made for Reginald and Kathy’s home. Fortunately, Ken knew how to get there on foot as that was a direct route. Unfortunately, it was still faster to haul ass there on a bike or in a car.

Ken broke out of the brush into the clear backyard to hear screaming and gunfire within the house. Without thought, he burst through the back door and pummeled the man to death that stood just inside that room. Taking the man’s rifle, he saw a handful of others rushing for the front door; Ken fired upon and shot them down without thought. He now heard more screaming from upstairs, and the trodding of feet above, and just as he ran to climb those stairs himself gunfire from above ripped down through the ceiling and impacted the floor and walls where he just stood.

Upstairs he engaged two more men that briefly pinned him down before they both had to pause to reload, whereupon he rushed them and emptied the remainder of his weapon’s magazine into them; he dropped the empty rifle and picked up a pistol off one of the now-dead gunmen, and then ran into the children’s room. There he found Reginald dead—blasted apart by a shotgun—as well as the corpse of their son. Kathy sat slumped against a wall, mortally wounded, shot multiple times in the stomach. Out the window Ken saw a handful of men scrambling into a SUV with their daughter wriggling, now a hostage.

Ken fired upon the vehicle until the magazine went dry, but could not stop them, and then he threw down the empty weapon in frustration. He could do nothing for Reginald or the son, but before he ran after the daughter Kathy looked over at him. She smiled. She nodded. Then Ken ran, weeping.