Monday, March 17, 2014

Another Chance

Happy St. Me Day from Blue III!
Happy St. Me Day!  Not fair to have St. Paddy's Day on a Monday except those lucky enough to be able to take that day off.  If you really want to get into the spirit of the day, go buy the Indie Writers Monthly magazine for March, which talks about Luck and includes a shot story by me.

Anyway, ever since I finished the last Chances Are book in 2011 I've held off on any sequels.  I really had no idea how I would do one in any case.  A couple weeks ago I was listening to a series of Lawrence Block books, the first two of which are kind of soft-core erotica/coming-of-age books and the last two are soft-core erotic cozy mysteries and they all feature the same main character.  In the afterward Block explained the switch was because after the second book he didn't know what else to do with the 17-year-old narrator without having to grow him up, which would preclude doing more books like the first two.  So he  decided that in a series of cozy mysteries the character could remain the same forever--forever being two books apparently.

I wondered if maybe I could do the same with Stacey Chance.  I mean she was a police detective in her former life, so maybe she could go all Jessica Fletcher or something, though Nancy Drew might be more appropriate for her age.  I toyed with it but the idea of a singer who solves mysteries is probably better suited to the NBC schedule.  (Because they suck and will probably take any stupid idea thrown their way.)

Then my next thought was maybe I could do a spin-off.  Instead of Stacey it could be someone else who gets injected with the FY-1978 drug, someone who could do more exciting things.  I kicked the tires on that idea, but it wasn't really going anywhere.

Then I thought of the Darkman/Invisible Man crossover reboot (tentatively called The Pretender) posted in October.  That involved a guy who was burned by a fire and uses some kind of fake skin.  But what would work just as good as fake skin?  FY-1978.  Actually it would work better because it wouldn't turn to mush after 99 minutes.

So now I was off and running on that idea:

Another Chance

Vince Granato has been a conman for years under various aliases.  His latest venture is running a Madoff-type Ponzi scheme.  He’s meeting a rich old woman to sweet talk her out of millions, but he starts to get a bad feeling.  After the meeting he senses someone’s watching him and decides to get the hell out of Dodge.  So he heads back to his modest apartment, but it’s too late!  As he’s gathering some money, fake passports, and such to go on the run some Feds break in to arrest him.  Vince takes off down a fire escape and makes a decent showing, but in the end he’s shot in the gut and passes out.

When he wakes up he’s in a place with armed guards and no windows.  Before long Vince realizes that he is now a young Indian woman.  While a doctor and nurses are trying to calm her down, the guy who shot Vince shows up along with an older guy who’s his boss.  The guy who shot Vince is introduced as CIA agent Doug Standard while the old guy doesn’t give a name.  He’s just “the chief.”

Eventually she calms down enough that the chief can start to explain.  After Vince was shot he was certain to die.  But the government has need of his—now her—services.  So they had the doctor—Dr. Kalya Nath from Last Chance—inject him with a drug called FY-1978, which is the same thing that turned Steve Fischer into Stacey Chance.

Why make him a girl?  They need to do what in the biz is called a “honey pot.”  Basically they need her to seduce someone to get information.  Why not use someone else?  Besides that Vince was an excellent conman, they also want someone expendable since ostensibly the CIA isn’t supposed to operate on American soil.  Vincent Granato has already been declared dead and this new body has no ID, so there’s no paper trail.

The target of the honey pot is a military officer, though the chief won’t give her specifics yet.  It’s believed he’s slipping secrets to the Chinese or Russians or some other country.  The officer has a thing for “exotic” girls after many years overseas, so the idea is to plant her as his new assistant and then have her get the goods on him.  (This may include sleeping with him.)

The chief then offers her a great choice:  either do the mission or they’ll have her sent to one of those secret prisons to be tortured until she changes or mind or dies.  Presumably if she does the mission, Dr. Nath will give her another shot to make her a man again and then he can go on his merry way.  With those being the only options, she decides to avoid the secret prison.

Then they begin to drill her for the mission.  First she’s given the name of Vinaya Gupta and a history to memorize.  Dr. Nath gives her a little lecture about the drug and assures her that several other people—notably Stacey—have survived the process already.  She also hints she’s not exactly doing this for patriotism or even money; she’s about as much a prisoner as Vinaya.

Then Vinaya is turned over to an older lady to run her through “charm school” to learn about being a dignified young lady and such.  This is not much fun, but it gets even worse after she “graduates” and then is taken by Doug to an army base to go through basic training in part to establish her credentials for the mission and also it may become necessary for her to defend herself so it would be good if she had some training and built up some muscle.

Because she’s Indian and wimpy she’s not received with open arms by most of her unit.  But a girl named Claire befriends her and helps Vinaya make it through the first couple weeks, after which she’s better able to handle it. 

But then Claire is raped by an instructor and predictably no one is going to do anything about it.  So Vinaya uses some of her con artist skills to get some payback, though it’s too late to save Claire, who’s drummed out of the army.

Not long after this, Vinaya graduates to become a private in the army.  She’s surprised to find she’s assigned as the aide to Major General Arnie Dunn, who won medals in Vietnam and then later helped turn things around a bit in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Could someone like that really be a traitor?

After her first day she’s still not sure but she does know he’s a pig.  He not so subtly paws her several times.  She plays it cool, not wanting to seem too eager or he might suspect something.  This is a long con, not a grift and go.

Over the next few weeks she slowly pokes around to try to find some evidence.  That’s hard to come by.  It seems to her that Dunn is a jerk but not a traitor.  She tells this to Doug Standard, but he tells her to keep digging.

Eventually she and Dunn go on a date and then go back to his house for “dessert.”  Vinaya gets that feeling that someone is watching her like at the beginning.  There’s something more going on than they told her about.  Between that the lack of evidence of anything on Dunn, she decides to tell him the truth.

He’s needless to say not happy.  He’s promising to have her reassigned to Greenland or something when Doug bursts in along with some other guys.  Since Vinaya isn’t going to do the mission properly, they force her to pose for some naughty pictures with Dunn.  Then the goons drag her away so Doug and Dunn can talk things over.

It becomes clear to Vinaya that they’re going to take her to some secluded to put a couple bullets in her, though they might do a few other things to her first.  With a combination of her con artist skills and military training, she’s able to escape.

The next day her face is plastered all over papers with some trumped-up nonsense about her working for Al-Qaeda.  But Vinaya has spent most of her life dodging people trying to find her, so she’s able to stay in the clear.  The problem is she isn’t sure to go.  Finally she looks up Claire, who she figures is the only she can trust and that Doug and the chief won’t know about.

Vinaya and Claire manage to have a relatively good time for a few days.  Then Vinaya reads that Dunn along with some other higher ups will be at the testing of a new ballistic missile.  Warning bells go off in Vinaya’s mind.  Dunn is somehow going to sabotage the launch—unless she stops him.

Claire goes with her and Vinaya gets them onto the base.  Unfortunately Doug and some goons are there too.  Claire volunteers to draw them off while Vinaya stops Dunn from whatever he’s going to do.  In the chaos that follows, Vinaya finds the general, who reveals Doug is blackmailing him to change the coordinates of the missiles so it lands in the South China Sea, where a Chinese ship will be waiting to salvage it.

Vinaya quickly explains her plan.  She has Dunn give her a gun and pretends to take him hostage.  She claims to be an Al-Qaeda operative here to sabotage the launch.  Before anyone can stop her, she destroys the missile.  In the chaos, she and Claire escape.

In the epilogue, Vinaya learns the fallout from what happened.  Doug turns up in the river while the chief is stepping down from the CIA.  The photos of Vinaya and Dunn surface but everyone believes his story that she was a terrorist who forced him to take those pictures for blackmail purposes.

Meanwhile Vinaya and Claire are hanging out on a beach or something—at least some guy in a suit shows up and says Vinaya is needed on another mission.  When she protests, he says she can come quietly or be turned over to the FBI, who have her on the Most Wanted list.  Again, she doesn’t have much choice, so away she goes, promising Claire she’ll be back.

There are probably some holes yet, but it's a lot closer to a thing than it was a few days ago.  And you know I already have a Sim made up:

What's annoying about this is I had to do one picture with the glasses and one with the hat and then paste the hat onto the one with the glasses because they wouldn't both work at the same time.  I don't have a formal army uniform so I just recolored a cop costume.  But you get the gist of it.


  1. I'm almost finishing writing one of my sequels. When I get done, I've got another sequel to finish. I should pop out a couple books in 2014 if all goes well.

  2. I didn't know Indie Writers Monthly...actually published a magazine. The title makes more sense now. That Sim has to be your best one yet.



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