Ran a little behind producing the newsletter this time. I’ll let Mr. Zeus explain…
Yeah, I’m late getting this issue out, I know. Very sorry about that. Truth is, I sort of left writing it until (almost) the last minute, and then I got pulled into a rescue mission (which I’m not allowed to talk about). But, stuff happens, and that’s why this quarter’s newsletter was delayed a couple weeks past the usual release. Mea culpa!
“Contracts and Fine-Dining”
You might be wondering why I’m still going on rescue missions and such, since I’m supposed to be “retired” from the superheroing biz. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been experiencing a few bumps in my writing career. So, I’ve been trying to keep busy, looking into other options, etc. One opportunity was to make myself available as a part-time freelancer on the occasional mission or investigation where they — i.e., whomever was putting together the “mission” — needed some extra muscle and/or my particular experience would be of benefit. (For example, if I am very familiar with the location or villain involved.) So, a few months ago, I started spreading the word to the super-community, as well as certain governments and large corporations.
Yes, I (usually) get paid for it. (Gotta pay the bills!) But, it isn’t quite as mercenary as it sounds. I am *very* particular about the types of missions I do and people I work with/for. I won’t sign a contract until my attorney and I have done a little research to make sure the purpose of the “mission” or project won’t compromise my principles. So, in that respect, it is sort of like when I was full-time and took on the occasional “sponsor”. The secret mission I mentioned above was for an international concern, and it was successful, but I can’t give any more detail than that. It was my 3rd contract as a part-timer, and things have been going quite well.
My first freelance contract was working with Tetras (Tetrus?) on a subterranean expedition. Andronicus, who is normally both the team’s brawn and brains, was under the weather, so he had to remain at their HQ and advise from afar. (Man, that guy can be a pain in the tuchis!) They ended up needing some big muscle to save their experimental equipment, so it’s a good thing I was there. (I’m a lot stronger than Andronicus on his best day!) The second job was testing some multi-functional, salvage equipment from a new manufacturer in some pretty dangerous environments, both natural and manmade. Overall, it was a success. The equipment still has a few kinks to get worked out, but I helped them test under some conditions they wouldn’t normally be able to. So, while a bit gruelling, it felt good to contribute to a project that will help save many lives. The pay was pretty good, too. 😉
I also turned down an offer from a Japanese conglomerate. They flew me out to Tokyo on a private jet to meet with upper-management, take a tour, and hear their pitch, so that was nice. (Sure, I could have flown under my own power, but that’s a looooong flight, and it can get boring, even if I have my MP3 player.) Would have meant a hefty paycheck, too. But, after I got home and made a few discreet inquiries, I discovered that some of the board-members have Yakuza connections, and I couldn’t be sure that the project they wanted me on wouldn’t contribute to some nefarious agenda. So, I politely declined.
One of my research “sources” is Vanguard and, in particular, the agents of Vanguard Prime. Olympia has been my primary contact, since we already knew each other. In fact, we have developed a good friendship — “relationship”, even — despite the long distance, skyping at least once a week. But, we have managed to go on five dates in the past few months, so that’s progress. The last one, shortly before my “secret mission”, did not go as planned, that’s for sure.
We never go out together in costume, since we are trying to be as “normal” as we can in our off-hours. Of course, the fact that we are celebrities (of a sort) and both rather tall and muscular does tend to make us stand out in a crowd. But, we try to keep it low-key and not draw attention to ourselves. In this case, we met in Paris and decided to dress up a little, do some “fine dining”. (Not too ritzy, though.) We were having a good time, talking about our families and other “ordinary” stuff. We were waiting for our dessert to be served, when a half-dozen armed gunmen stormed the place. They had no idea….
When we initially realized what was happening, we were immediately concerned for the safety of the other patrons and restaurant staff. The leader of the group was barking orders from the center of the establishment, while the other five silently spread out. We were seated along a back wall near the restrooms, so when the time was right, we made our first move. Karin (i.e., Olympia) whispered a question at the closest guy when he came to the table next to us, then I grabbed the guy in a choke hold from behind and quickly dragged him into the ladies room, where I left him unconscious in a stall before returning to our table. (Thank goodness for the dim “mood lighting” and a large pillar that partially blocked the next-closest guy’s view.) Three of the assailants were walking around with automatic weapons trained on customers, and the other two went from table to table, where people were ordered to toss their wallets, watches, purses, jewelry, etc., into satchels the well-dressed gunmen had brought with them.
It wasn’t long before they noticed one of their number was missing. Karin acted all scared and told them their man went back to the restrooms. The leader then ordered one of his men to take her at gunpoint back to check the restrooms with him. I don’t know what she did exactly, but I’m pretty sure he never saw what hit him. She stashed him in another stall in the ladies room. But, she stayed back there for the moment. This left two thieves with AK-47s raised and two more each with pistol in one hand and satchel in the other. They were really nervous by then, and we had to take them all out pretty quickly to lessen the chances of civilians getting hurt. (Or me, for that matter. Olympia’s force-field makes her pretty much invulnerable to gunfire.)
Suddenly, the fire alarm started up and the sprinkler system kicked in. (Karin’s doing, of course.) As gunmen and civilians alike started yelling in surprise, I saw Karin appear at the hall entrance. She motioned to me that she was about to charge the two on the left and I was supposed to get the two on the right. As soon as I nodded, she was off! Screaming, she clotheslined the first SOB and yanked the other guy’s AK-47 out of his hands and slammed him into a wall. He was out cold, and she kneeled on the first guy’s back. I only saw all that out of my peripheral vision, ‘cuz I had my hands full with my two. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a half-full bottle of champagne and chucked it at the furthest guy, who was distracted by Karin. The base of it hit him in the head, and he went down. The closer guy saw me coming and got off a couple shots with his pistol. Fortunately, they missed me (and everyone else), lodging in a wooden wall instead. Then he swung the satchel at me, but it was heavier than he thought, which slowed him down. I dodged, swatted his pistol out of his hand, shoved him to the ground, and knocked him out with a right to the jaw. (Don’t worry. I pulled my punch.)
And,… that was that. The whole incident probably took no more than 10 minutes, and the only injuries were minor ones to the building and a few plates and glasses. (Oh, and I’m missing a cufflink.) The champagne bottle I threw didn’t even break! Once the gendarmes (i.e., French police) got there and the adrenaline started to wear off, Karin and I were able to laugh about the whole thing. Does this sort of thing happen to other “super couples”? Those guys definitely picked the wrong place to hit that night!
OK, folks, that’s enough adventuring-by-proxy for now. Stay strong!
^What he said…^
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2016.