Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   
  • Belief
  • Of Bugs and Bug Men
  • Circus!
  • Collector's Item
  • Green Future
  • Hooray For Hollywood
  • Idiot's Delight
  • Mere Mortals…
  • Mister Zeus…
  • JUDGING!


  • End of Summer
     

    Mister Zeus Goes to Washington

    Green Arrow vs. Maxie Zeus

    by Chaim Mattis Keller

    "I am the king of the gods, and I demand nectar!" shouted the customer at the counter.

    Most of the other customers looked at him with alarm. The counter person stuttered nervously. "We're a coffee shop, sir. Perhaps you can go somewhere else…?"

    But one man turned from his coffee and danish to study the shouter. He held himself with regal bearing, although was of slight build. Curly brown hair, beard. Although what he claimed to be was clearly insane, he didn't display any other unusual behavior. He got up and approached the "king of the gods" calmly. Addressing the flustered employee, he said, "I believe that what my friend wants is a triple-mochaccino. I apologize for his apparent irrationality; he's from out of town."

    The tension, for the most part, left the air as the bearded man received his drink and joined his newfound friend at his seat. The bearded man took a sip and his eyes flew open. "This…is delicious!" he declared. "Not quite nectar, but definitely fit for a god. Tell me, young man, what is your name?"

    "Call me Hedgehog," he said. "And who are you?"

    The bearded man stiffened. "I am exactly who I said I am: Zeus, king of the gods."

    "Of course, your majesty," Hedgehog said with amusement. "What I mean is, what do you call the mortal guise you currently wear?"

    "In Gotham City, they call me 'Maxie Zeus'," he replied. "Somehow, I've found myself cast down from Olympus, and this is my current station. Nonetheless, I am what I am."

    "Gotham, you say? What brings you to Seattle?"

    "Gotham was…inhospitable to me," said Zeus. "With the help and encouragement of a colleague, I left there. I have come here to regain my dominion…my maps tell me there is a Mount Olympus here."

    Hedgehog smiled. "Indeed there is, my lord. I beg your indulgence that my friends and I might assist you in your quest."

    Three days later, a car bearing Oregon plates entered Olympic National Park. Armed with mountaineering equipment, Hedgehog and Maxie Zeus got out of it at the closest campground to the mountain.

    "Where are your friends?" Zeus asked Hedgehog.

    "They're waiting," he replied. Hedgehog put his hands together and made a whistling sound like a bird. Soon, they could see some flashes of light in the distant woods. "Follow me," Hedgehog told Zeus, and he did.

    After making their way through the dense rainforest, the two of them came to an area thick in moss. Hedgehog found an opening and led Zeus into a dry tent full of people. "These are my friends, the Eden Corps," Hedgehog said. "Everyone, this is Maxie Zeus from Gotham City."

    "Eden?" Zeus asked. "You subscribe to the other mythology?" A murmur arose from the crowd.

    "My apologies, Lord Zeus," Hedgehog said hurriedly. "Our group was named before we knew that you walked amongst us."

    Zeus was placated. "Very well." He turned to the crowd and announced, "From this day forward, for having offered yourselves to me, you are the Olympian Army! Wear our banner and be proud!"

    The crowd erupted again. A man with a troubled look on his face approached Hedgehog. "Can I speak with you privately for a moment?" Hedgehog took his leave of Zeus and the two walked off into a corner. "What in the world is going on here?" the man whispered angrily.

    Hedgehog smiled. "Listen, Beaver. You guys sent me into Seattle to find us a fall guy, right? Well, I found us the perfect one. I checked out his history after meeting him at Starbucks. He's a whack-job from Gotham City with a criminal record, and the thing he wants to do most in the world is climb Mount Olympus. We help him get up there, plant on him the PalmPilot that our e-mail to trigger our bombs will go through, and if the Feds catch on, he's right there, alone. All we need to do is stroke his ego a little…oh, yes, and supply him with Starbucks coffee. He's grown quite fond of it."

    Beaver stroked his chin. "I don't know, Hedge. Crazy people aren't as easy to handle as you think."

    Hedgehog maintained his smug smile. "Just leave him to me. You let the rank-and-file know what the plan is and get them to put up with being the "Olympian Army" for a while."

    Hedgehog huffed and puffed in the thin mountain air. He and Maxie Zeus had spent two weeks climbing Mount Olympus, with the well-toned radical environmental terrorist instructing the scrawny ex-prison inmate in the finer points of mountaineering. Despite the gap in experience, Zeus appeared to be in less physical distress than he. "How in the world are you not even panting?" Hedgehog asked.

    "I will not act weak as I approach Olympus," Zeus stated simply. "I am the master of Olympus; it will not make me bow."

    You're nothing but a deranged lunatic who'll be back behind bars soon, thought Hedgehog. "That you are, Lord Zeus. I am honored that you have chosen to support our cause."

    "To restore harmony to nature? I could hardly refuse," Zeus answered. "When I come into my power, I shall surely see that nature is well cared for. Demeter herself will answer directly to me."

    They climbed onward toward the peak. Zeus told Hedgehog to stop. "This is my transcendent moment," he said. "I must conquer Olympus alone."

    Hedgehog took a replica ancient Greek garment out of his pack. "Lord Zeus," he said, "before you assume your rightful power, your faithful army would be honored to present you with this gift."

    Zeus's face beamed, and he rushed to put it on. "I feel more like myself already," he thanked him. "I will surely look upon this act with great favor. Now please, step aside."

    Hedgehog did so, and watched as Zeus reached the peak and raised up his hand in triumph. Zeus held that pose for several minutes, reciting something Hedgehog couldn't understand in a language he assumed was Greek. Then silence. Hedgehog went to approach Zeus and saw the puzzled look on his face.

    "What happened?" Hedgehog asked.

    "I'm…not sure," said Zeus. "I should be awash in my godly power now, but I feel no different."

    "Perhaps you need to spend more time here," Hedgehog suggested. "We environmentalists feel that meditating amongst nature is an empowering experience."

    "A thought," Zeus responded, stretching out his hand for the thermos of coffee he insisted they bring with them. As Hedgehog retrieved it, a PalmPilot fell out of his pack. "What's this?" asked Zeus, picking it up. "It looks like a miniature computer."

    "It is," said Hedgehog. "You've never seen one before?"

    "The last time I was near a computer, notebook-sized ones were as small as they came," Zeus responded. "What's this envelope icon? E-mail?"

    "Yes," Hedgehog replied. "You're familiar with that?"

    "I've used ccMail," said Zeus. "This appears similar." He tapped the PalmPilot's stylus to the envelope icon and saw a listing of Hedgehog's messages. "Hmmm. What's this about energy transmission devices? I thought that technology was considered grossly inefficient. Or has that, too, changed?"

    Hedgehog got upset. "No, it hasn't changed, and it's none of your business," he snapped, grabbing his PalmPilot back.

    Zeus, hearing this, became enraged. He grabbed Hedgehog by the throat and told him, "Anything under the purview of my subjects is my business. I am Lord Zeus, and even if I have yet to regain my proper station, I'll not be talked down to by the likes of you."

    "Urk…of course, Lord Zeus," said Hedgehog. "What…urk…was I thinking?"

    "I'll tell you what you were thinking," Zeus said. "You were thinking that I was in your debt for your kindness. That may be true, but you're in the Olympian Army now, and I'll tell you what's my business and what isn't." Zeus then released Hedgehog and threw him to the ground.

    Hedgehog sat there for a while catching his breath, not an easy thing to do at 7900 feet above sea level. Zeus sat down in front of him, fixed him in a steely stare, and said, "Now tell me about this power transfer technology. How will this assist our plans?"

    "It's still extremely inefficient," Hedgehog said, "But efficiency isn't a problem. Our energy source is equal to over twenty thousand atomic bombs. Tapping into that source and using its power elsewhere will enable us to cause explosions to disrupt the forces of natural disharmony without being detected as true bombs might."

    "What are our targets?"

    "Many. We plan to first target suburban malls across the Northwest. This will return the land to nature and at the same time, kill the humans who are destroying nature."

    A troubled look crossed Zeus's face. "I'm not above a killing here or there when necessary…but you see humanity as being incompatible with nature's harmony?"

    "Look around you," Hedgehog said. "If this wasn't a National Park, it'd be paved over as well. We're dedicated to eradicating the blight that humanity is on the face of nature."

    Zeus got mad again. "Call it off."

    "What?" Hedgehog said, surprised.

    "Call it off. I refuse to allow my Olympian Army to be involved in such an endeavor; my goal is to rule over humanity, not destroy it."

    Hedgehog lost it. "Well, Eden Corps is not your Olympian Army," he snarled. "We live and die for restoration of the natural order. Don't start with me. Like my namesake, I can get very prickly when angered."

    Zeus jumped him and pinned him to the ground. "Your namesake is a rodent, and you are a rodent," he hissed. "I, however, am a god. And this is where you learn that it is we gods at whose disposal you live and die."

    "You're crazy," Hedgehog sputtered. "You really think you're going to get people to believe that?"

    Zeus took hold of Hedgehog by his coat and slammed him against the rocky ground until he died. "They will," he said with a grin, "when I bring them your corpse as evidence."

    Maxie Zeus was used to inspiring crowds. He knew that there's nothing quite as inspiring as the remains of those who refused inspiration.

    "My Olympian Army," Zeus addressed the other Eden Corps members, "as your leader, I have some decisions to make. And," he shouted with a dramatic thrust of his pointed finger, "I have made them!"

    "Mount Olympus, despite bearing a name of power, is not the seat of power in this region. The power I must take if I am to be found worthy of my godhood again must include the power to rule over men. And I have found the proper target for this." He paused. "Men," he announced, "we are going to conquer…Olympia!"

    A gasp rose from the crowd. One of the Eden Corps die-hards posed the logical question. "How will this restore the environment?"

    "Once I am restored to my proper power, I can do these things for you," Zeus answered. "However, I warn you: man is to be allowed to live in harmony with nature, not to be wiped out. I will not ally myself with you should you wish to leave me with no one to rule."

    "You have all been misguided," he said. "Your friend, Hedgehog, discovered how tragic it is to set one's path in the wrong direction. I will lead you properly."

    The crowd murmured, but Zeus looked at them confidently. Beaver looked at him and asked, "Zeus, can I talk to you private?"

    "Certainly…Beaver, isn't it? What are your concerns?"

    "Maybe you don't know this, Zeus," said Beaver, "but this group is built on people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for nature's revenge on its oppressors…including me."

    "So?"

    "If you insist on trying to force these men and women to serve your personal agenda, you may not have an army to lead."

    Zeus fixed him in an unsettling stare. "Is that a threat?"

    Beaver blanched. "M…merely a statement of fact."

    Zeus then put his arm around Beaver's shoulder as if the two had been best of friends since childhood. "Then let me share with you another fact," he said. "To have a goal that you're willing to serve to the death is admirable. But to be single-minded is extremely shortsighted. Poor Hedgehog here couldn't…I'm sure you'll appreciate the expression…see the forest for the trees. You, on the other hand, seem to be a much more visionary type than he."

    Beaver thought ironically of his warnings to Hedgehog about taking Maxie Zeus for a patsy. "Yes, I'd say I am."

    "Then you understand that our goals need not be mutually exclusive. With the help of your talents, I'm sure our Olympian Army can work some revenge into the plan. I'd hate to lose such an effective army over a few fine details…"

    Beaver swallowed and nodded. He rejoined the crowd and began chanting, "Zeus! Zeus! Zeus!" Sure enough, within minutes, the entire room joined in.

    Zeus signaled for silence. "Now, let us plan our war. Who can tell me about this power-transfer technology?"


    Seven hundred miles to the south, Connor Hawke's phone rings. "Connor? It's Eddie."

    Connor sensed concern in the voice of Eddie Fyers, ex-government agent and his good friend. "Hi, Eddie. What's going on?"

    "I've got some disturbing news. One of my old DEA buddies passed along a tidbit…seems that Eden Corps is on the move again."

    Connor groaned. The radical environmental group, under its first leader, Hyrax, was responsible for the death of his father. "I thought we saw the last of them after Hal Jordan and I stopped them from causing Mount Rainier to erupt."

    "I wish we did too, kiddo," Eddie said sympathetically. "Hopefully, this time we can shut them down for good and put Ollie's ghost to rest."

    Connor ignored Eddie's refusal to believe that Oliver Queen, the original Green Arrow, might yet be alive. "So what's the story?"

    "Apparently, some folks who have been identified as ex-Eden Corps members have been recruiting from the ranks of organized crime in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland. The group is growing fast, and no one's sure why."

    "Sounds suspicious enough to me," Connor agreed. "What do we do?"

    "I'll try to get some more details," said Eddie. "Fly up here and meet me at Sea-Tac tomorrow night."

    Connor hung up the phone and silently vowed that as long as the killers (or at least attempted killers) of his father were still in business, he wouldn't rest. Connor Hawke, the current Green Arrow, packed his costume, bow and quiver and hit the Internet to book a flight.


    Connor had been waiting at the baggage claim area for fifteen minutes when Eddie finally showed up. "Well, look who decided to remember that I flew in to meet him," Connor joked.

    Eddie smirked and apologized. "Come on, Connor, I've got a car outside. I've got someone for us to talk to there."

    When Connor arrived at the car, he discovered that Eddie's "someone to talk to" was stripped to his underwear, bound and gagged. "Is he…?"

    "Yup," Eddie confirmed. "Me and a few friends who owed me favors staged a drug raid at one of the mob hangouts he was recruiting from. You can start pumping him for info if you'd like."

    Connor removed the man's gag and immediately regretted it. "I'll sue you two for kidnapping, you filthy pigs! I'm an American citizen! I have rights too! I'm…"

    Eddie turned back from the driver's seat. "What you've got is no clothes, no one who knows or cares where you are, and no hope of leaving this car without a bullet or arrow through your body unless we let you go," he spat into the terrorist's face. "Now, while I drive, I'd greatly suggest you give my friend here the information we want, or else you'll never see light of day again."

    Connor grabbed the conversational baton. "So, why does Eden Corps think they'll find hard-core environmentalists amongst the mob families here?"

    "We're not Eden Corps anymore. We're the Olympian Army, and we serve our Lord Zeus."

    Eddie snorted from the front seat. "Zeus? Gimme a break."

    "No, I'm serious," said their captive. "Zeus has been exiled to Earth in mortal form and needs to conquer Olympia in order to regain his high station again."

    Connor resumed his questioning. "Last time I saw you guys, you were willing to die for the environment. Why the big change of heart?"

    "Lord Zeus is…very persuasive. And he promised that if we help him, he will bring harmony to nature as we wish."

    "So what does that have to do with this massive recruitment drive? Why's your group suddenly need so many more warm bodies?"

    The Olympian soldier looked incredulous. "For the conquest, of course."

    "You're going to try to take over Olympia with a bunch of gangsters and environmental terrorists?" Connor asked incredulously. "Even if you have the element of surprise, you're not going to get anywhere near the State Capitol!"

    "Yes we will," the terrorist insisted. "The Coast Guard in that area doesn't have the manpower to stop a thousand-ship navy, and we're only a dozen or so away from our goal!"

    "And where is this operation being run from?"

    "I'm not telling you that!"

    Eddie turned around again. "Then we've got no more use for you. Connor, shut him up again."

    Connor did so. "Where are we heading, Eddie?"

    "FBI crime lab in Seattle," Eddie said. "If this guy's got any clues on his body, they'll find it."

    Connor looked at the man's clothes. "He's got something in his pocket." He fished it out. "PalmPilot. Looks like Eden Corps is planning their strategy by e-mail."

    "What does it say?" Eddie asked.

    "Apparently, they got their hands on some sort of power transfer technology. I think they intend to use it to power this 'navy' that your friend here was talking about. And they intend to do it as soon as they've got their thousand ships. We don't have much time."

    "Navy. What a crazy plan," Eddie mused. "Does this guy really think there's not enough military radar to detect a thousand ships steaming down Puget Sound well before they can pose a danger to Olympia?"

    "I don't know," said Connor. "But don't forget how fanatical these guys are."


    Eddie wiped the rainforest sweat from his brow as he and Connor tramped through Olympic National Park. "Are you sure there's no better way to do this? I'm gonna collapse from the humidity," he whispered.

    "Oh, stop whining," Connor whispered back. "We're lucky that the terrorist you captured had a trace of moss on his clothes that placed him somewhere within this immediate area. Otherwise, we'd have a lot more searching to do."

    "We've done quite a bit already," said Eddie. "Do you expect to find them before or after they attack Olympia? We've got to hurry, if they've almost got their ships."

    Connor smiled at Eddie. "Boy, your stay at the ashram hasn't taught you much patience, has it? We can't move any faster; if they hear us coming, they'll slip away and destroy all their evidence."

    Eddie fanned himself. "Yeah? And if we're dying of heatstroke, how much good are we gonna be in a fight anyway? Shoot some arrows around and see if they hit anything interesting. If we miss, they won't have heard it; if we hit, we'll be able to catch them."

    Connor found Eddie's logic compelling. He fired off a series of shots that disappeared into the greenery, rousing some happily perched birds from their sleep, but not betraying any human presence. Connor was about to move onward, but Eddie held up his hand as if to say "don't move and be quiet."

    "That way," Eddie declared, pointing in the direction that one of the arrows had gone.

    The two of them ran that way. "How in the world do you know there's something there?" asked Connor.

    "Your arrow ripped a hole in their soundproofing," Eddie said. "I hear the humming of their generators in the distance."

    "But Eddie," Connor said, before the older man could lead them any further, "don't you think they can hear their own generators more clearly than you can?"

    As if in response, a hail of bullets erupted from a wall of moss. Six khaki-garbed Olympian soldiers picked their way through the thick underbrush. "Damn Green Arrow," one of them was heard saying. "That arrow came from this direction, so he's gotta be around here."

    Connor and Eddie looked down from the trees they had hastily climbed up to. Connor looked at Eddie and the CIA agent nodded his head. They jumped from their trees, each one taking a terrorist down with them and rolling into the underbrush. They heard the other four saying "Over there! Shoot!" and "No! They've got two of our guys with them!"

    Fortunately for the heroes, the reverse situation wasn't true. Eddie fired a few shots at the four, hitting two. Connor then sprang up and, using his knowledge of the martial arts, knocked one out and disarmed the other.

    Eddie grabbed Connor's prisoner and held his gun to his back. "All right, creep, lead us safely to your headquarters." The terrorist, knowing when he was beaten, complied. Connor followed behind at a distance. As soon as Eddie and his prisoner entered the hideout, the two terrorists remaining there took aim at Eddie, and Connor took each one down with a single, well-placed arrow.

    Eddie scrambled to the table in the center of the tent to find out what he could about the Olympian Army's plans. "What have we got, Eddie?" asked Connor.

    "Weird dude," Eddie told him. "He's got his attack strategy laid out on this map of western Washington," he said, pointing to a war-room-style map laid out on the table. "Seems he didn't neglect the radar like I thought he did, but his solution, according to his to-do list, 'Bird sacrifice -- biggest available.' I guess this Zeus guy is really into his ancient gods and stuff. Maybe we can catch more of the Eden Corps if we can figure out what bird they're targeting."

    Eddie got on his cell phone while Connor looked around more. "Woodland Park Zoo? I'm with the CIA, and I need to speak with your director of security…Hello, I'm with the CIA, and I have information that a terrorist group is looking to get their hands on the biggest bird they can find. Have you had any break-ins lately?…No? Good, maybe we can catch them in the act. Tell me, do you have any ostriches?"

    Connor called, "Eddie?"

    Eddie held up his hand. "How about emus? Rheas? Cassowaries? They might all have to be guarded…"

    Connor repeated himself. "Eddie!"

    Eddie ignored him again. "They might be after a large flying bird. What's the biggest, California condor? Yeah, I know it's endangered…"

    Connor yelled, "EDDIE!" and slapped the back of the CIA man's head with a folded-up newspaper.

    "Hold on," Eddie said to the zoo security director. "Connor, is it really that import…oh, $#!*," Eddie said. "Cancel that," he said into the phone. "I think I know their target." Eddie was looking at the paper Connor had hit him with. There was a picture of striking protestors, with placards saying "No Nerds, No Birds," and Connor had underlined the word "Birds." The headline read, "Boeing Ready to Declare Impasse in Engineer Strike." "Let's get out of here," Eddie told the young hero. "We've got to get to the Boeing assembly plant in Everett.

    "What I don't understand," Connor told Eddie as they ran for their car, "is how they plan on 'sacrificing' a jumbo jet."

    "Beats me," responded Eddie. "Since their 'bird sacrifice' is intended to stymie the coastal radar, I guess they plan on blowing it up. A couple hundred tons of pulverized metal in the air would take care of that."

    They got to Eddie's rented car and headed for the ferry that would take them across Puget Sound. Connor looked puzzled. "I'm still missing something, Eddie. What kind of explosive are they going to use that has the power to blast metal so finely that it'll blow in the wind and disrupt radar? Especially to disrupt it so badly that it won't detect a thousand ships?"

    Eddie banged his fist down on the dashboard. "Damn! I know what they're going to use."

    "What, Eddie?"

    "Shoot, they don't teach you classical Western culture in a Buddhist monastery, do they, kid?"

    "Afraid not. What do you know that I don't?"

    "Remember, they plan on using some sort of power transmission to power their thousand ships. This 'Zeus' is obsessed with classical Greece. And in the Trojan War, the face that launched a thousand ships was Helen of Troy."

    Connor shuddered. "You mean they're going to set off Mount Saint Helens?"

    "Yup," Said Eddie. "And they're going to sacrifice their bird in it as well."


    "Now we're coming to the airplanes that are being painted," said the tour guide at the Boeing assembly plant. "As you can see, there are six planes in the painting stage right now…we're passing a 747 that's been bought by…"

    From the back of the tour bus came a cry, "Oh, my chest!", and then a thump.

    "Stop the bus!" yelled the tour guide, an instruction the prescient bus driver had anticipated. "Is there a doctor on this bus?"

    No one answered, and the tour guide herself ran to where the bearded man was lying on the floor, writhing as if in pain. "Sir, answer me! Are you conscious?"

    The extremely conscious Maxie Zeus grabbed her blouse and pointed a gun in her face. "Thank you for the tour, my dear. My organization is very interested in acquiring one of those fine airplanes."

    "Eeeeeeek!" screeched the tour guide, too late to alert everyone else on the bus that there was trouble brewing. Zeus's Olympian soldiers had already risen from their seats, guns in hand, to secure the bus and ensure that no one had access to a radio or cell phone.

    Zeus and two of his soldiers got out. "Into the airplane!" Zeus ordered them. They were handpicked because they were capable of flying a jumbo jet, and didn't need his help except as a lookout. Once they were in the cockpit of the airplane, Zeus returned to the tour bus.

    "As you have no doubt determined, you are now hostages of the Olympian Army," Zeus announced to the shocked crowd. "Driver, I command you to drive this bus toward the test-flying runways. We will lead the plane there when my pilots have gotten themselves properly set up. Remember that all these tourists' lives are in your hands."

    The bus driver did as he was told, and, after waiting a while, slowly drove the bus in the direction of the test-flight field. As they approached it, a small car zoomed into sight and screeched to a halt. Its occupant popped out of the driver's seat and fired two arrows at the bus's back tires.

    "What's going on out there?" Zeus demanded to know.

    "F-feels like a flat," the driver said with trepidation.

    One of Zeus's soldiers kicked out a window and examined the damage. "We've got super-hero trouble, Lord Zeus. Looks like Green Arrow."

    "I thought this area had no super-heroes!" Zeus yelled angrily. "What's he doing here?"

    "We…um, Eden Corps, kind of pissed him off," said one of the soldiers sheepishly. "We killed his father."

    Zeus fumed. "Why didn't you tell me you had a vendetta with a super-hero? All right, you idiots, if you can kill one Green Arrow, you can kill another. Get out there!" He turned to the scared passengers and said, "Don't think you're getting away with anything. I've still got a gun on you."

    The Eden Corps-turned-Olympian Army soldiers dutifully marched out of the bus. They started firing at Connor, but the young Green Arrow leapt up to a wheel of the hijacked plane, which had stopped when the bus did, and climbed up to the safety of the wheel well. From his perch, Connor picked off three of them with well-shot arrows. A fourth managed to escape them, but had to get very close to have any chance of hitting Connor; he heard the footsteps approach and swung down to kick him in the head with both feet. Connor knew that even though he was safe and the plane was unlikely to get stolen, the tourists were still hostages.

    Eddie Fyers had ditched the car in Port Townsend, handing it over to Connor to take on the ferry to Everett. He knew that the only way he'd get to Mount Saint Helens with reasonable speed was by helicopter. With help from the local police department, he secured one and paid the pilot to fly him there as quickly as possible.

    "Man, I've never seen so many boats this far south on Puget Sound," commented the pilot as they passed over that area."

    "Tell me about it," said Eddie. "Must be close to a thousand."

    Eddie had the pilot circle the volcano as he looked for anything unusual. "Lower," he told the pilot when an initial look showed nothing. "Set me down there," he told the pilot, pointing to what appeared to be heavy drilling equipment. "After you let me go, get as far away from here as you possibly can, and stay low to the ground. I don't want any explosions destroying your chopper." The pilot looked at him in alarm, but he was already beyond the range of any questions that the pilot could ask.

    Eddie hit the ground near two Olympian Army sentries. "Hey!" one of them called, startled. Eddie quickly shot them down before they could get him in their sights and started running for a camouflaged tent next to the drill.

    "What's that?" came a voice from inside the tent. "I heard shots outside! Come on!" said another.

    Soon, Eddie was covered by another of the terrorists. He froze in his tracks, trying to find a solution to his hopeless situation, when Beaver emerged from the tent with a PalmPilot in his hand. "So," Beaver said. "Well, well, Green Arrow's little CIA buddy. Still hounding us, eh?"

    "Cuts both ways," spat Eddie. "You wouldn't be seeing me here if you weren't trying to blow up Mount Saint Helens and attack Olympia."

    "No doubt. But I'm afraid we hold the trump card, here. If you make one more move, I'll click the button that sets off this mountain and blow us all to kingdom come."

    "On a PalmPilot?" Eddie asked, incredulously.

    "Ingenious, isn't it? The detonator's hooked up to a computer. It'll go off as soon as it receives e-mail with the detonation code."

    "Why not just do it with a straight wire or radio signal?"

    "We weren't planning on being discovered so soon. The e-mail was to be redirected through another address, someone who would take the fall."

    "You wouldn't do that," Eddie said.

    "Oh?" Beaver sneered. "While some of Zeus's soldiers have been willing to throw away the principles we thought they had when we recruited them, I've been careful to staff this operation with only full-blooded Eden Corps. We were ready to do this even before Zeus usurped control of the group. I guarantee you we're willing to die to watch Mother Nature get revenge against her bastard children, humanity."

    "Oh, you'd do it, but not until there's a plane flying overhead to destroy. And I know you guys haven't gotten your plane yet."

    Beaver laughed. "I care a lot less about Zeus's delusions than you think, spook." Beaver pressed the button. Eddie yelled, "NO!"

    Several tense seconds passed. Beaver looked at his trigger button. "What the…?"

    Eddie took advantage of the confusion and jumped the gunman surrounding him. Soon, he had disarmed the terrorist and had a gun to Beaver's gut. "Watch what you say about bastard children. Some of my best friends are bastards. Now, why didn't it work?" Eddie demanded to know.

    Beaver was sweating. "I don't know, but I'm not telling you. I told you, I'm not afraid to die."

    "For the environment, no," Eddie said. "But are you willing to die for Zeus?"

    Beaver jumped slightly. "Zeus! He never turned on the PalmPilot we had planted on him…he took Hedgehog's when he killed him!"

    "So he was supposed to be your patsy, eh? Give me that thing," Eddie said, grabbing the PalmPilot.


    The door of the tour bus opened and an announcement blared out over its loudspeaker. "Green Arrow, you have thirty seconds to start walking slowly toward this bus, or the hostages begin to get it!"

    Connor complied. When he was in sight of the bus's rearview mirror, the loudspeaker ordered, "Okay, drop your bow and arrows where we can see them." Connor complied and continued to approach.

    "I see you have some pouches on your belt," said the loudspeaker. "I hate utility belts. Take it off. I want to see you totally weaponless before you get anywhere near me."

    Once again, Connor did as he was ordered. Finally, he could see through the open doors of the bus. Sitting in the driver's seat was a bearded man wearing an ancient-Greek-style robe. "Zeus, I assume," said Connor.

    "I am," said Maxie Zeus, his gun held to the tour bus driver's head. "I understand you have a problem with some of my soldiers."

    "You mean Eden Corps," Connor replied.

    "Formerly," he said. "I'm told they killed your father. Well, I killed my own father…he was a nasty one. Ate all of my siblings, and would have eaten me, too, if my mother hadn't given him a rock instead. Tell me, was your father anything like that?"

    "I hardly knew him," Connor said. "I met him only briefly before your men killed him."

    "Terrible," said Zeus. "Yet you're willing to sacrifice your life to avenge his death? To assume his name?"

    Connor closed his eyes and focused on lessons he'd been taught in the ashram. "The way of the arrow is straight and true," Connor told him, his voice suffused with serenity. "I have been raised in that way and I follow it…as he did."

    "How noble," Zeus sneered. "I, however, was raised in thunder and lightning, and my father was a monster. Okay, that's enough pap. Wapiti, he's yours to kill now."

    A gun-toting soldier walked to the front of the bus. Connor watched and carefully timed himself. As soon as the new arrival blocked Zeus's sight of him, he leapt up to take out his would-be assassin with a flying kick and then whirled around to knock Zeus's gun out of his hand. Zeus found himself with no more soldiers or weapons with which to threaten the tourists and ran past Green Arrow in an attempt to escape on foot.

    "Everything'll be all right," Connor assured the passengers, and he ran out the door to chase Zeus.

    Zeus spotted Eddie's rented car and headed for it. Connor went for his dropped bow and quiver and loaded up to shoot out the car's tires. Before he could, though, another tour bus drove up to him, blocking his shot. It screeched to a halt and the driver got out of the otherwise empty bus. "Green Arrow! I have an e-mail message from your CIA contact! He says Zeus has a PalmPilot in the pocket of his robe that you've got to destroy!"

    Connor obeyed. He trained his eye on Zeus's robe, and spotted pockets at both hips, both of which bore some weight. Before Zeus could get the car door open, Connor nocked two arrows and shot them, spearing the contents of both pockets and pinning them fast to the wall of the car. Zeus struggled to free himself, but, unable, opted instead to slip out of the robe. He got into the car and sped off, nearly sideswiping another vehicle, which broke the arrows and left the shafts and robe on the ground.

    "We lost him, but we've got his robe," Connor said. He went to pick up the souvenirs and found two PalmPilots…one warm with the word "Hedgehog" etched into it, and one cool, marked "Zeus."


    Hours later, at Boeing's visitor center, Eddie walked in to pick up Connor with a new rented car. "Good job, kid."

    "Did we get them all, Eddie?" asked the young hero.

    "Most of them," responded the government agent. "The National Guard had a field day picking up the sitting-duck mobsters who were still expecting a power surge from Mount Saint Helens. Boeing's security team got the two in the 747, and the park rangers got the crew from Olympic and Saint Helens."

    "And Zeus?"

    "Gone. I don't know how the Washington State Highway Patrol could have missed a naked guy driving a car with a known license plate, but I guess he's pretty slippery. With your description of the guy, we got a rap sheet on him, and it turns out he's escaped from Arkham Asylum in Gotham City."

    "Why didn't they just put a dragnet out for him?"

    "They did. There were plenty of traps on the I-5 going north to Canada, where we assumed he was headed."

    "Why not south?"

    "Doesn't make any sense. Why in the world wouldn't he have run for the border only two hours drive away? What would possess him to head south?"

    In answer, Connor held up a thermos…full of Starbucks coffee.

    Letters Editor Chaim Mattis Keller, aka Legion-Reference-File Lad, is a computer programmer who lives in New York City with his wife and four children.

     
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