An average Joe
, going about his day, is suddenly plunged into a conspiracy
to carry out some terrorist act
/create an army of super-soldiers
or blow up the world
/assassinate someone powerful
/steal a bunch of cash
. Maybe He Knows Too Much
, has possession of a MacGuffin
or could make something the villains need
. Or maybe he’s just the Right Man in the Wrong Place
. No matter the case, he’ll likely have to go on the run
as he’s pursued by Mooks
out to kill or seize him. This will give him plenty of opportunity
to showcase his often hidden
or newly acquired skills
, track down someone
who can tell him what the hell is going on
and learn his enemy’s weakness
, though there will likely be some collateral damage along the way
. The Hero
may learn his wife
, the President’s daughter
or even the President himself (supposing he’s not one of the villains
) has/have been taken and is being held hostage
by the bad guys, who might try and coerce him into their service
. So what’s a man to do? Kick ass and take names all the way to victory, of course!This is not that story
Rather than the hero of such action film fodder, our focus is instead on the hard-nosed homogeneous henchmen who would normally hunt him down
After being dishonorably discharged from the military (Note:
branch TBD later), a young man is contacted by a Mr. Carpenter
, who says he works for an organization known as “Byzantine
” that hires out martially-skilled agents to select clientele and asks if he's interested in work. The young man agrees and he and eleven others — all handpicked to be near-identical, tall, dark-haired white men
— are assembled. They are given covers based on the names of different apostles
, the young man dubbed "John
," and soon begin their lives of fast cars, beautiful women, exotic locations and cold-blooded murder
. They go on a variety of missions for paying parties, including members of the criminal underground
, powerful businesses
and third-world governments
. Gradually, their numbers dwindle as opposing forces prove more capable and determined and loyalties begin to crumble. John
watches those around him meet their inevitable fates
, all the while wondering when his number will be up.
This story is not designed to champion the hired guns so much as explore the sort of person one would have to be to willingly take such a job
and their lives behind the scenes of typical action thrillers.
Working soundtrack (in no particular order):
This work contains examples of:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
- Because I'm Good at It
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
- Breakout Mook Character: The novel is a Darker and Edgier expansion of this concept.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday
- Contract on the Hitman: Inevitable in such a setting, although the contract is not put out on John — he's the one who carries it out. Also not Jude, surprisingly.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life
- Evil Mentor: Mr. Carpenter. Also has...
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul
- Idle Rich: It's implied several of the Apostles, John included, come from such backgrounds.
- In Love with the Mark: One of the Apostles has this problem; John solves it.
- Lonely Rich Kid: John's past has hints of this, before he's grown too jaded to care.
- Men of Wealth and Taste: The Apostles. This is pretty much standard for Byzantine employees.
- Murder, Inc.: Byzantine, or at least the branch of it the Apostles work for.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Simon, who is very grateful for his employment.
- Mysterious Backer: Byzantine again, since No One Sees the Boss
- Themed Aliases
- No Name Given: The narrator is referred to by his colleagues and handler as “John,” but this is explicitly not his real name and he uses a number of other aliases throughout the story.
- Only in It for the Money
- Professional Killer: The Apostles are Mooks in effect, although their skills are more on par with Elite Mooks or a Carnival of Killers. They also sometimes behave as a Praetorian Guard to various clients.
- Punch Clock Villains: The Apostles again; most are fairly passable as normal guys when they're off-duty.
- Rage Breaking Point: As a teen, John snaps and puts a guy in the hospital. He later enlists himself under a false name to get away from life at home. He snaps again in the field, earning him a dishonorable discharge. Soon after, he's approached by Byzantine.
- The Sociopath: Possibly several of the Apostles. Some were likely also Sociopathic Soldiers.
- Spy Fiction: The "dirty martini" kind.
- Standard Evil Organization Squad: The Apostles.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Well, not everyone, but you'd have a hard time narrowing down the list of suspects when they're all tall, dark-haired white males.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: John, though there was probably no one who noticed.
- Villains Blend in Better: This trope is actively encouraged by how the Apostles were selected.
- Villains Out Shopping
- Villain Protagonist: The narrator & the other Apostles. Also, their handler, Mr. Carpenter.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: Those Apostles who weren't formerly of the Idle Rich. Probably also Lower Class Louts.
More later from Dreamshell