Sunday, March 22, 2015

1/15/13 - Seven Days of the Con Job - Pt. 4.0

"Dancing in formation with a couple of boys..."

 Mark Clutch, Director Straffer, SPYGOD, The Owl
(Art by Dean Stahl)

* * *

I'm an artist honey
you'll see me sometimes
making crazy pictures
out of music and rhymes

* * *
The sun came up some time ago, and is all but staring them in the face, but they don't care, anymore.

Straffer and SPYGOD are wrapped around one another in the remnants of the bed they broke, late last night. The sheet they're tied up in is in flinders, and soaked with sweat and other, less-seemly substances. They're wet and mussed up and gooey and maybe a little too warm. 

And they don't give a good god!@#$.

A shame about the bed, though -- they don't make 'em like that, anymore. It was one of those old, well-used showpieces made with sturdy, all-American craftsmanship, and out of good, solid wood. It had lasted a hundred years or so, and probably would have lasted for another hundred, too, if it hadn't been for that fourth bout of escape sex they had last night.

And once it collapsed right under them, they paused only long enough to laugh, and then go for bouts five and six. 

The room is the upstairs master bedroom of a small, old mansion, well into upstate New York. It was purchased ages ago as part of one thing or another, and then passed around various intelligence agencies as a safehouse, before it was creatively shuffled into nonexistence more than a few years back. Now the only people who know about it are spies who once stayed there, and most of them are in no shape to volunteer its whereabouts to anyone. 

Mark Clutch and Martha Samuels are downstairs. SPYGOD can hear them tip-toeing about, down there, amusingly-embarrassed at their host's sexual exuberance. Maybe that's something of a counterpoint to their own embarrassment, as they had a perfect opportunity to sleep in the same room, last night, but chose to remain in separate beds, yet again. 

"I give it a week," SPYGOD muses, chuckling.

"What?" Straffer asks. 

"Mark and Martha."

"Oh," his lover says, kissing him: "You know, they can take as much time as they want to. Or need to. They've been through some rough stuff, together."

"Yeah, but isn't that the !@#$ing best cure for it?"

"What, sex?"

"Well, that and a !@#$ton of alcohol. And some good Italian."

"I think I had some !@#$ good Italian last night."

"And this morning. Don't !@#$ing forget that."

"As if I could," Staffer smiles, leaning in a little closer and stealing a quick, probing kiss: "But maybe they're just going to be friends?"

"Naah," SPYGOD says, kissing him back: "She wants him. He wants her. And they !@#$ing know this. They're just !@#$ing dancing around the god!@#$ fire instead of jumping the !@#$ on in because..."

"Because of all the ghosts," Straffer says: "All the survivors guilt."

"Really? I thought it was because they're too !@#$ churched."

"Well, that too," his lover chuckles, kissing him back: "But you know what? I think they can worry about their own problems. I'm more worried about ours." 

"Do we have a problem?"

"Well, let's see," Straffer says: "We're both wanted criminals, having just broken out of that house arrest we've been languishing in for far too long. And considering our high profile, and how publicly we escaped, there's no way they can cover it up. Which means that, as we're lying here, every single intelligence agency, armed force, and strategic talent we don't have on our friends list is going to be hunting for us."

"And we've got a !@#$ plan."

"True, but it's a risky one. And there's a chance it might all come to nothing. One wrong move-"

"Even if it all falls apart, as long as I have you, I have everything I !@#$ing need," SPYGOD says: "I don't care about the world when I'm with you. I don't care about the games I play or the plots I make or bust. The whole !@#$ing thing can burn and go to !@#$ for all I care."

"You mean that, don't you?" Straffer says, truly amazed.

"I do," SPYGOD says, holding his lover as close as he can while still looking him in the face: "You're the sun in my morning and the moon in my evening. You're my guiding !@#$ing star, day or night, and all the !@#$ points on my compass. I begin and end with you. If I had everything, it would mean nothing without you. If I had nothing, it would mean nothing as long as you were there, with me, in that nothing. 

"And that's because you are my everything."

Straffer looks at him, trying not to cry. 

"Will you marry me?" SPYGOD asks: "When this !@#$ is over. Well, it's never over..."

"!@#$ yes," Straffer says, kissing him before he can say anything else.

And for a time there's some blissful silence, upstairs, so Mark and Martha can go about making breakfast without wondering if the ceiling's going to break, too.

But as they make bacon, eggs, and coffee -- and try to avoid talking about what they almost did last night -- they realize this is not the calm before the storm. This is the eye of the hurricane, deceptively serene and never wide enough.

And the terrible wall of wind is getting closer by the second...

* * *

"Aw, !@#$," an intern curses as he inadvertently tips over a tottering pile of maps, sitting alongside a number of other stacks on the center table of the Oval Office.

His clumsiness is rewarded with someone chewing him out, the bites as much French as they are English. The President has no idea who the shouter is, any more than he can really remember the name of the shame-faced intern, now banished to go be "useless elsewhere."

But he's beginning to feel as though he could join that now-retreating kid, for all the good he's doing here, this morning.

The office -- normally an oasis of calm within the building -- has been transformed into ground zero of the effort to find the fugitives, as well as punish every strategic talent that may have thrown in with him. Their photos have been thrown up onto three-dimensional projections along the walls, along with any information about their whereabouts, past associates, and recent dealings. Technicians with special gloves twiddle their facts and fallacies this way and that, throwing scraps of data to one another like softballs.

And in the center, where Mr. USA sits -- surrounded by the heads of Agencies he didn't even know existed -- the map of the United States of America is being carved up section by section, with the most likely whereabouts of each person on their list being indicated by some complicated method involving different colors of push-pins.

The gang's all there, if you know how to look. Myron and Yanabah, on the run together. Blastman dead and Night Phantom in the wind. Shining Guardsman in one of several locations, Red Wrecker seen in Dallas, Gosheven under lock and key under the Heptagon.

And, most heartbreaking of all, The Owl -- identified only by the kind of cloak that flying car was packing -- now a fugitive right along with them. 

"Groupe B-3 a Brainman en vue," one of them is saying, tapping one of the Blue pins in New Jersey, around Trenton: "Observons-nous ou d'attaque?"

"Est-ce qu'il parle a quelqu'un?" another answers, calling up Brainman's information on his pad. 

"Non. Non, il est l'emballage."

"What's he packing?" Mr. USA asks, knowing at least that much French.

"They say... clothes," the man says, raising an eyebrow: "Possibly getting out of town, as you say?"

"Dites-leur de ne pas attaquer, encore," Ben Franklin -- the only person in the room that the President knows, right now, other than Jess Friend -- suggests, taking a sip of his rather large cup of coffee: "Quelqu'un peut communiquer avec lui. Attendez jusqu'a ce qu'il soit l'emballage, puis attaque terminee."

"Oui," the other man agrees, and gives the order.

"What was all that?" Mr. USA asks, sighing.

"Oh, well it seems to me that if we have him under surveillance, and he's not engaged in anything time-sensitive, we can at least observe his communications. Someone may try to contact him. If so, we may learn more. And if not, well, we can capture him when he tries to leave, and that will be that."

With that, the Founding Father smiles, and adds a splash more cognac to his already-aromatic coffee, and has yet another sip.

"I'm glad someone here knows what's going on," Jess says, leaning over the couch and looking with some dismay over the reports coming in from the now-surrounded Sonoma County Ashram: "All I can see is a big !@#$ mess."

"Oh, it's always messy, my young friend," Franklin muses: "You should have seen what happened behind the scenes when Napoleon left Elba. Now there was a mess-"

"Which side were you on?" Mr. USA asks, more than a little curious.

"Why, the same side I am now, my good sir," the Founding Father says, smiling: "In a time like this, law and order must be upheld. The citizens must see that their government is doing everything needed and necessary to bring these men back to justice. Likewise, they must also never see the extent to which their government has failed them by allowing such a brazen plot to come together right under their noses."

"Hence this Team Omega bull!@#$," Jess sighs, really wanting to be as drunk as his boss is, right now, but afraid of what he might say if he were.

"So, law and order from a hero of the Revolutionary War," Mr. USA says, chuckling in spite of the dire circumstances: "Isn't that a little out of character for you?"

"Well, Mr. President-"

"Facilitateur national," one of the people there corrects him: "Le President est in Paris."

"So true, do forgive me," Franklin says, waving an unsteady hand: "It's the drink, you see. I do forget myself, even if I am, indeed, unforgettable-"

"You were about to say that being such a character, nothing is truly out of character for you," Jess interrupts, not entirely unpointedly.

"Yes," Franklin says, suddenly not so jolly: "And indeed, given time I can justify almost anything, save my own demise."

"Well, that's one way to look at it," Mr. USA says, wondering if he could borrow some of the man's cognac at this point.

"Ou est Gold Standard?" One of the others asks, not seeing her on the table.

"Oh, she's on a separate mission," the President-cum-National Facilitator says, shaking his head: "It's good. She's trustworthy."

"Not anymore, I fear," Franklin sighs: "I am very much afraid that if we have no eyes upon her, she is as suspect as anyone."

"Well, I don't know where she is at this point," the older hero sighs: "She's on a mission of the highest priority, and she's operating under radio silence. As soon as she checks in-"

"Nous ne avons pas le temps pour ces conneries," one of the others waves him off, rudely: "Apportez dans le Coreen. Le Chasseur."

"Who's that?" Mr. USA asks.

"Better you not know, sir," one of the other agents says, winking.

"It's too bad that both Wayfinder and Disparaitre are dead," Mr. USA sighs, looking at Jess: "We could clear all this up with just a few jumps."

"Yes it is," Jess says, nodding and looking at the file they're throwing up for Gold Standard. Her name, her life, her likes and dislikes, and all the other things no one should ever have known about them, save by those most trusted and intimate.

And wondering if anyone's going to be left off such a file when this is all said and done.

* * *

"It's not that we don't trust you, Mssr," Le Femme Electrique says, smiling through blue lips, crackling with sparks: "But, if I am being perfectly honest?"

"You don't trust me," New Man sighs, looking at the fancy letter she's just handed him in his room.
There's a few other member of Le Compagnie there, with her, for this unpleasantness. None of them are people he particularly likes, especially that white-skinned Helvete freak. All of them are smiling at his departure. 

"Not at all," she says, trying to appear as kind as possible, which just makes this worse: "It is simply that, until we can be sure that we trust you, we cannot have you on the team."

"Is there something I can say?" he asks, getting to his feet as proudly as possible: "Can I state my case to the others?"

"We voted, my friend," El Khadir says, crossing his burly arms: "You lost."

"You put me on trial without having me there, in other words."

"Such things are possible, through our charter," La Femme says, smiling: "If you'd read it...?"

New Man looks over at the thick document in question, over on his table. It's the size of the Sears-Roebuck catalogs he used to hand his family around Christmastime. And the print is twice as small as what he remembers it being...

"Yeah," he says, knowing there was no other way this was going to go down.

"You have a half an hour to gather your things and leave," the electric lady says, turning to go: "Helvete has been kind enough to offer to help you pack. I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about-"

The purple glow that flares up just then is bright enough to shame the Sun. The lady only has enough time to turn around before the wave of energy overwhelms her and throws her up against the wall. The half-dozen stooges she brought with her fall over like tenpins, and the moment one of them tries to get up -- and it would be Helvete -- New Man uses his last reserves of strength to bring both his hands down on his pale, smoking, psychotic head, laughing all the while...

"Did you not hear her?" Helvete asks, bringing New Man out of his angry fantasy: "You get your skit out of here or I will burn it. And then I will burn you."

"You know what?" New Man says, looking around the otherwise-empty room: "Why don't you just do that, son? It's not like I brought my good clothes to this !@#$hole."

Then he walks past and away the man, all but daring him to try and start something. For once, the freak doesn't, which means he was told to be very careful about this.

And New Man knows by who, and why.

"!@#$ all of you," he mutters as he leaves the Palace, wondering how long it'll take him to get home to America if he pretends to be a normal person and takes a plane.

And wondering if SPYGOD will finally come to him if he does.

* * *
"Oh thank God you two are finally here," the guard says, his face a mess of scratches and small bandages.

Both of the strangely-handsome animal control officers seem to bristle a little at that, though the guy behind the desk does not care. He all but jumps out of his seat to get out from behind his desk, and leads them back into the warrens of the detention center as fast as he can.

"So here's the deal..." the guy says, looking at the small, steel cage the long-haired officer is carrying: "Are you sure that'll work on this... thing?"

"Quite sure," the man says, his voice a delicious thing to hear: "It's just the thing for the job, as they say."

"Alright then," the guard says, walking them down the concrete stairs to the supermax cells: "This thing is not of this !@#$ing Earth, okay? It's an actual Demon from Hell, if you can believe that !@#$."

"We can," they both say at once, which is quite unnerving.

"Well, okay then. But it's mean on top of it. And it grew to the size of a bear, and fired a !@#$ machine gun at them. Took a hundred men a whole !@#$ hour to bring him down."

"We hear someone got him drunk," the other one says, his voice a kind joy in the mind.

"Well, yeah," the guard admits: "That too."

They walk to the end of the hall where the large cells are, and then the guard looks at the monitor for the cell. A large black cat sits in the corner, surrounded by empty bottles of high-test, Russian vodka, and soaked in its own !@#$.

"Behemot," the one with the long hair and the delicious voice says.

"Is that it's name?" the guard asks.

"Yes," the other one says, putting a hand on the man's shoulder: "You can trust us. Go back to your desk. We will deal with this."

"Um... okay," the man says, smiling, all of a sudden not caring about the proper paperwork.

(Or why the concrete walls in this place are suddenly cracking, just as the paint is starting to flake and fall from the ceiling.)

As soon as the suddenly-rubbery guard walks up the steps, one of the animal control people looks to the other, and nods. The other opens the cage, and then his partner waves a hand before the electronic locks, making them tumble open and away.

The smell that comes from the cell is so offensive that it could almost kill a human being. If the sweet-voiced one notices, he makes no sign, and comes over to Bee-Bee with something approaching reverence, or maybe pity.

"Oh, how you have fallen, my sweet," the Beautiful Stranger coos, gently picking the drunken, insensate demon-cat up from its foulness, and putting it inside the carrying case. 

"We should leave," Aaron says from the door, looking at the cracks underfoot: "We've been here too long as it is."

"What's one more useless institution gone to ruin in our wake, lover?" the demon says, languidly closing up the container and sauntering out of the cell: "So many more will burn before we are done."

"I'd prefer to avoid unnecessary deaths," the turned Angel scolds him: "This place is melting around us. I don't want it crashing down on a bunch of rent-a-cops."

"Well, it would teach them to find better professions in their next life," the Beautiful Stranger chuckles, but complies with his lover's concerns. As such they all but sprint up the stairs, and navigate the maze of desks and corridors that lead outside with a speed that almost reveals their true nature. 

And then, before anyone notices, they're not there, anymore.

It's a whole hour before the guard who led them down realizes that they never came back to his desk to fill out the transfer paperwork. He's cursing himself for being so stupid, but when he looks down at the papers he sees they actually are done, and signed. 

He blinks a few times, puts it down to the weird morning he's been having -- was he actually feeling gay for that one dude? -- and decides he should lay off the heavy breakfast burritos in the morning from here on out.

He's just not half the man he used to be, apparently.

* * *
"Look, please, I am an old man," Rakim -- sometimes known as Brainman -- says, holding up his hands as the TU guards surround him in his office, the lights on the ends of their rifles all but blinding him: "I swear I will not hurt you. Please just listen to me."

The noise that responds is barely human. It is a chorus of the worst sort of things a man could ever hear -- a dissonance of curses and commands, issued from a dozen different mouths, all jumbled up between "get down" and "!@#$ you."

"Please, I will not harm you," Rakim says, getting down on his knees as carefully as he can: "I have sworn an oath of nonviolence. If you are here to arrest me you must know that. I have sworn before God that I will not take a life, even in self-defense-"

"Shut the !@#$ up!" one of the ones in front says, bringing the butt of his rifle down on the old man's head. He doesn't even put up his hands to ward off the blow.

"Please," the man says as he lies there in a heap, counting the teeth that have broken out of his mouth: "Let me speak to you... please..."

"You!" a familiar, imperious voice commands as its owner stomps into the circle of bright lights. Its Lt. Giscard Vipond, of all people, and he looks very annoyed to be here, right now.

"Giscard, please-"

"Rakim, for your own good you must cooperate," the slight man commands, pointing a finger: "Myron? Yanabah? Night Phantom? Do you know where they are?"

"I don't know..." the old man breathes, holding up a hand: "I don't know where any of us are... I swear."

"You swear," the guy who used his rifle butt on the old man sneers: "Sure. I believe you, you !@#$ing sand!@#$."

"You be silent," Vipond says: "I will not have such words said in my presence. They demean the very work that we do."

"I..." Rakim says, reaching towards the man who just spoke: "I forgive you-"

No one's sure who fires the first shot, but it's hardly the last person to do so. Within seconds the old man's body is full of holes, and Vipond is screaming to stop, stop, please !@#$ing stop.

"You imbeciles!" he shouts, waving his hands around: "Why did you shoot him?"

"Well, sorry," one of the others who fired says: "I thought he was going for a gun with his other hand."

"Um, yeah," the one Rakim was forgiving says: "So did I, man. Totally."

"Mon Dieu,"  Vipond says, kneeling down just outside the widening pool of blood as Rakin twitches and tries to breathe: "He's still alive. Someone get medical help. We may be able to save him."


"Do it!" the Lieutenant shouts, realizing his career is about to bleed out right along with this man if he dies.

"Giscard," the dying man says, tapping him on the leg: "Is that... you..?"

"I am here, Rakim," the slight man says, bending over to hear his weak voice: "Please, tell me. What do you know?"

"I know... nothing..."

"Come now, sir. Do not die with a lie on your lips. Tell me what you know..."

But by the time someone can come back from the transport with a badly-managed medical kit, Brainman is dead. Vipond gets to his feet slowly, a stunned look upon his face.

"What did he say, sir?" one of the guards asks: "Did he know anything?"

"He said... 'game over.'"

"Probably some stupid Muslim bull!@#$" someone snorts: "Assa-lamma rama ding dong."

"Actually, I think it may mean there's a bomb, here," Vipond says, which silences the laughter the last comment made.

He's lying, of course. But the idiots he was forced to accompany here aren't so smart as to realize it, and immediately !@#$ themselves running out of the building before it can explode. 

"God be with you," Vipond says to the man he was going to divest of his pay for not being in a firefight. He's too sad and ashamed to say anything else.

* * *
"Well," SPYGOD sighs, reaching onto the kitchen table and turning over the piece of paper that says BRAINMAN.

"Well, what?" Mark asks, uncertain.

"Well, he's out of this," Straffer translates as he gets up to get some more coffee, as well as turn off the device they just got this news over.

"Which is doubly !@#$ing sad, because he wasn't really in it," SPYGOD says, looking at the remaining names they've got on the table, gleaming in the noonday sun.

"What do you mean?" Mark asks.

"I was leaving him out. He had beliefs. I respected them."

"It's a sad thing," Martha says, nodding: "I was glad to see him turn his life around."

"Some turn," Mark snorts: "One day you'd have shot him for being a criminal. Then he gets shot for being a hero."

"Mark," Martha sighs, putting her hand on his: "Not helping, hon."

Her touch makes him calm down, if only a little. 

"This is war, Mark," SPYGOD says, tapping his fingers on the table and taking a pull from the whiskey bottle he's currently working on: "We knew that, getting into this !@#$. Or at least we !@#$ing should have."

"No one's ready to see their friends die, (REDACTED)," Martha says, looking up at him: "And we've had a lot of that in our family, already."

"I know, Martha," SPYGOD says, casting an eye at Mark: "Believe me. And I !@#$ing appreciate your being willing to stick your !@#$ necks out for me. Especially after everything else."

"Yeah," Mark says, sitting down and feeling stupid. Straffer hands him a fresh mug of joe and sits down, looking at the map of names.

There's silence for a time, punctuated by sips of coffee. SPYGOD kills the bottle, and then reaches over to take another. 

"So where do we stand from here?" Straffer asks, looking who's left: "We've still got some surprises."

"We do, yes," SPYGOD says, taking another slug from his new bottle and then grinning: "Quite a few. Big !@#$ surprises."

"Like what?" Mark asks.

"Well, if I !@#$ing told you, it wouldn't be a big !@#$ surprise, now would it?"

Mark's about to say something to that, but Straffer holds up a hand: "Here's the real surprise. We're going back to Neo York City. And soon."

"Didn't you just escape from there?" Martha asks, uncertain.

"Yes, but it's crucial to the !@#$ plan," SPYGOD says, grinning even wider: "We're going to do what we !@#$ing did during the Reclamation War, all over again, hon. We're going to turn the entire city into a big !@#$ no-go area for the TU. They're all getting !@#$ing turned out by your son."

"What?" she says, suddenly incredulous: "You mean all this time I was hiding from him...?"

"He was in on the gag?" Straffer finishes for her, smiling: "Absolutely."

"He has been from day !@#$ing one," SPYGOD confirms: "And I think they know that, too. That's why they did that whole stupid !@#$ thing with that electropath they busted out of jail, the other week. They're getting ready to shut him the !@#$ down."

"Or try, anyway," Straffer chuckles: "Good luck with that."

"I don't appreciate your being so cavalier with my son's life," Martha glowers: "Either of you."

"Oh, it's not being cavalier, Martha," Straffer says, holding up a hand: "Far from it."

"Your son is a !@#$ing power to be reckoned with, hon," SPYGOD agrees: "I'm not even sure he knows how !@#$ powerful he is. Or could be."

"That doesn't make me feel much better, somehow," Martha says: "Why didn't we know about this?' Why didn't I know?"

"Compartmentalization," SPYGOD answers, having another slug: "I don't !@#$ing know who's with who or where, right now. And neither should you. If no one knows the whole !@#$ plan, no one can spell it out if they get !@#$ing taken down."

"Except you," Mark notes.

"Even me," SPYGOD corrects him, pounding the bottle down on the table so fast and hard it's a wonder it doesn't break: "Right now? I got no !@#$ing idea what all's going on, out there. I got plans inside of plans, outside of plans, around other plans... !@#$ me, I got plans going on that I didn't even !@#$ing sign off on, and just made their own @#$ selves up out of good luck and better coincidences."

"Then how do you know they're there?" Martha asks, somewhat archily.

"Because SPYGOD. Knows. All." SPYGOD announces, tapping the patch over the Chandra Eye: "I know things even I don't !@#$ing know, sometimes. And these plans I don't !@#$ing know about is one of them."

"So, you don't know who's out running with who, even though you could, because of security concerns," Mark says: "But you do know that things you don't know, even though you shouldn't, because... magic eyeball."

"Pretty !@#$ing much, yeah," SPYGOD says, nodding

"That's... !@#$ing crazy," Mark says, reaching for the bottle and taking a slug, himself: "And you sound !@#$ing crazy saying that."

"This is all perfectly normal," Straffer says, winking and having some more coffee: "You think that's bad, you should see him write a shopping list."

Martha giggles, in spite of herself. Straffer chuckles. SPYGOD grins.

And Mark sighs, and has another hit -- just before SPYGOD jerks the bottle back, gives him a look, and finishes it off in one decided gulp.

Which is about all that needs saying.

* * *

Sanyangkkun isn't one for superlatives. He calls them as he sees them, which is part of his charm. Provided you could call being a drunken sociopath with poor personal hygiene and a taste for stalking -- with one very useful power -- to be "charming."

For the longest time, he's been something of an also-ran, in spite that one very useful power: the ability to track anyone around the world, given enough of their scent. And the fact that they let him toy with his quarry for a time was considered an acceptable tradeoff for his talents, as long as he understood they were to be brought in alive.

Sadly, the time needed to find the quarry has always been a factor, which made it more likely that others would get the job. That dour Frenchman who could find anyone, anywhere, and didn't like to take undue advantage of it for some weird reason, was an ongoing thorn in his side. And there were others...

But just his luck, the Frenchman was dead.

Apparently, there'd been some strange goings-on, up on the Sled that the Space Service had been putting back together. The way they say it, Disparaitre had seen something he shouldn't have, up there, over a week ago. And while they weren't sure what it was he saw, whatever it was made him shriek and scream, and then teleport himself right into the Sun.

So much for that teleporter. And so much for the competition.

(Especially since Disparaitre's equally-powerful double was, by all reports, a total basket case, sitting in his cell crying and trying to forget something even worse)

So now, whenever they need someone tracked, they just have to call a certain, poorly-kept Soju house in downtown Chong-Ju, and get hold of Sanyangkkun. By the time he gets up to Seoul, they'll have a scent package waiting for him, along with the person's last known whereabouts. 

And once he's flown there, and has a good sniff around, the quarry is as good as caught -- though how long it could take would depend on a lot of things. Weather, rain, competing scents... things like that. 

Still, he's a professional. He accepts his job and devotes himself to it. He hunts alone so he doesn't get distracted. He doesn't get drunk while he's working, or play around on the clock, except once he's got the prey in hand.

And he never overstates or understates times or conditions, because that truly smacks of impropriety. 
So the fact that -- while looking for this Antonia Crisp person, AKA the new Gold Standard -- he's had cause to say something truly profane and outlandish is cause for concern.

So is the fact that, just a mile out from his quarry, deep in the deserts of Nevada, he's seeing what he's seeing -- the sort of thing that makes sane, well-adjusted people stop, drop, and stare for hours.

He, not being sane or well adjusted, would say more, of course. Maybe even radio it in once he could wrap his mind around it. That's what he does, after all.

And he would, except that, seconds after he says those unusually profane things, something small and very swift-moving neatly uncouples the top of his head from its bottom, leaving messy red parts of what used to be a very talented brain all over the state line. 

One of the people responsible for that rather gruesome death then searches the body for any tracking devices. Upon finding his phone, the assassin decides to talk a long but necessary walk to the nearest roadstop, back they way the victim had come. There, a car with its window left foolishly open is quickly located, and the phone is tossed on in.

Only then does that killer allow for the luxury of taking a much faster journey on to the next destination, not bothering to watch the strange sight that stopped Sanyangkkun in his tracks before a bullet stopped him altogether. 

That sight rumbles past on US-95, and with no undue speed. Before long it's gone from view, and as luck would have it, the car carrying the Korean tracker's phone goes in the opposite direction.

It's days later before its found. By then, it doesn't matter, anyway.

(SPYGOD is listening to Pet Shop Boys (Electricity) and having a Without You I'm Nothing, courtesy of Evil Twin brewing)

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