Somewhere in the foothills of the Columbia River valley is a small ancient English castle. The three-story structure was disassembled and shipped from England to the U.S. in the late 1800s by an eccentric millionaire. He reassembled it stone-by-stone in North Central Washington. Today it’s the bauble of a tech mogul. It’s rarely attended by anyone other than house staff and light security. There’s something in that castle I desperately need, so tonight it’s going to have an uninvited guest.
By design, I’m here on an overcast night. In a rare break of the cloud cover, the moon peeks out its baleful eye, shedding a bluish light as it stares across rugged terrain buttressed by a formidable cliff.
Resting atop that sheer cliff is the castle. Perched, fly-like, upon the castle’s wall is the form of a man in black. I rest within that form. I am the god Hyperion.
My form is visible against the stone only for a moment before my ridiculously expensive stealth camo shifts to blend into its surroundings. To an observer, it would seem a piece of black shadow moves into the dimly lit lighter gray of the castle wall, stops, and then disappears. The camo is a mere precaution, since one of my godly abilities is Reading and Writing the electromagnetic workings of sapient brains. Right now, I’m Reading, and then Writing the general thought, nothing to see here people, move along, to every mortal mind in and around the castle.
Taking a moment from my treacherous free climb, I look back along the path I took to get here—back down the castle wall, down the cliff face, and across the rugged terrain. I sense, rather than see, my murder black Range Rover, tucked in the shadows of a copse of trees at the far edge of the rocky plain. I reflect upon how tonight’s path to the castle mirrors the rough and tumble nature of my return to Earth, so recently released from imprisonment in Tartarus by Zeus. Like the other gods, Zeus has tasked me to get a job and make a way among the mortals. This is my night job. I’m what I like to call an independent contractor performing off-the-books procurement of rare and valuable artifacts. You would call me a thief. My customer for tonight’s job is me.
Which brings me back to the matter at hand, or at hands, and I check my handholds in the cracking mortar of the edifice. My climb is not an impromptu endeavor. Every move has been carefully choreographed with miniature models. I practiced on climbing walls and sets in the converted warehouse where I live and run my businesses.
I take three quick, deep breaths before executing a parkour move that lands me at the final leg of my climb. Before I climb over the wall’s edge, I gather stillness around me and reach out, feeling for the electromagnetic activity of minds in my proximity; pinpointing locations, discerning intent. I’m scanning for anyone not where they should be or for those who have noticed something is not right.
As a condition of my parole, I exist on Earth with much diminished god ability, but Reading and Writing people is still very much my jam. So when I Read the two outside security guards sharing a smoke before making their rounds, I sense an opportunity too good to pass up. One guard has been playing footsie with the other guard’s wife, so I give his mind a little push.
“I slept with your wife,” the adulterating security guard blurts to his co-worker.
“What?! You motherfu—”
That should keep them busy for a while. Though I’d love to eavesdrop on the ensuing conflagration, I smile and slip over the wall, silent as a wraith.
I quickly make my way to the owner’s private viewing room, where I spy the 1,000-year-old, 7-inch solid gold Statuette of Amun. The real one. However, the one sitting in the Met is an excellent fake. I know this because I made the switch. I didn’t steal it for this guy though, so I’ve no qualms about stealing it from him. I slip it into my backpack, make my way to and over the turret wall, then to the cliff’s edge.
The statuette puts off a weird energy signal that is a bit distracting. I don’t notice how much it’s interfering with my Reading until the cuckolded security guard from earlier steps from the shadows and yells, “You! Stop right there!”
It’s obvious he’s pretty hot over the conversation he’s just had with his wife boffing co-worker, and it doesn’t take a Read to know he’s about to take it out on me. Before I can even turn to respond, he starts shooting. I Read him and see in his mind he’s blasting the holy heck out of his co-worker. Only, in real life, it’s me he’s shooting. Funny. Well, maybe this will be a therapeutic balm that will help to start his healing.
My god-powered body is nearly impervious to small arms fire, but it takes a lot of my finite store of energy to shake off a bullet. Doing so is not in my energy budget for tonight’s activities. Unfortunately, the first high-velocity round from his assault rifle strikes squarely in the center of my back, knocking me over the cliff’s edge. I have the sense of purpose to push away from the rock face as I execute a perfect imitation of a high diver’s swan dive.
Well, that came back to bite me in the ass, I think, regretting riling my shooter with my earlier prank.
Now, most gods would immediately teleport out of this mess. In fact, most gods would have teleported to the statuette and back home again, avoiding all this drama. But in my parole-mandated state of diminished godly power, teleporting is a big deal and a huge drain on me. It’s the reason I drove here and did all the free-climbing. I figured I needed to save a teleport for just such an emergency. I hesitate another second as I hurtle toward the rocks at the cliff’s base, thinking, This is gonna hurt, before teleporting to find myself standing unsteadily next to my Range Rover.
The teleport put me in a world of hurt. I need to gather my wits before driving, but just then Captain Cuckold, deprived of his target, radios a pair of guards in the woods whom I apparently missed in my earlier scans. I need to move. Now.
I’m driving like a drunken frat boy, but put a little distance between me and security before pulling over to empty the contents of my stomach by the roadside. In my haste to get moving again, I stand up too quickly from being doubled over. Spots swim before my eyes as my body runs out of gas. I’m falling…
The world goes black.
(To Be Continued…)