Hello and welcome to my day on Authors Speak! Lou Sylvre and I decided to do something a little different this month. A few years ago Lou came up with a concept that featured a few of our characters in a panel discussion at the annual Fictional Badass Association convention. We’ve looked in on the 2013 and 2014, but weren’t able to to attend the convention in 2015.
Several of our characters are panelists again this year! Let’s sit in one of their panels.
Place: Emotion in Motion Convention Center, Noble and Sylvre room
Date: August 19, 2016
Time: When many convention attendees have been drinking
Panel members: Luki Vasquez, Brian Harrison, Jonas Forge, Declan
Discussion topic: Modern Surveillance and Espionage Techniques for Human and Otherwise Operatives
Moderator: C. Auguste Dupin
Lucas Coate slips behind Declan and Forge. “Do you know who is in the audience?” He stands between them with a hand on each of their shoulders.
Brian leans around Declan and smirks. “My very handsome sub for one.” He nods in Jackie’s direction. “Looking good in that dark green suit.”
Jackie, front row center, then raises a hand and winks.
Brian mouths, “Behave, devil boy,” but doesn’t get more than a sly smile and chuckle out of Jackie.
“Stop interrupting!” Lucas sputters, and then points. “It’s Sherlock Holmes!”
Forge, interested but not the least bit excited, looks out over the audience. “He looks nothing like that guy from the new Star Trek.”
“Or Iron Man.” Luki adds. “Oh look, there’s Seeley Booth. Sonny thinks he’s “cute.” (He uses air quotes, catches himself and pretends he was only fixing his curls). “Personally, I didn’t think he was real. Now that I know he is, he’d better watch his shit around Sonny. Hi, husband.” He waves to Sonny James, who is sitting three rows back with Forge’s husband, Blair, but still might have been able to read his Luki’s lips. Sonny puts a hand on his hip and raises his eyebrows—a clear warning, which Luki pretends he didn’t see.
“Hmm…Lucas also ‘claims’ to be a fan of that show. He does a running commentary on their pathological investigative techniques.” Declan looks at Lucas. “Yes, I gave away your fanboy secret.”
“Booth is a good G-man,” Forge adds and Brian nods.
Auguste Dupin takes his place behind the podium and taps the microphone a few times, sending a high pitched squeal through the room. A few attendees slap their hands over their ears. A few others take long drinks for plastic cups full of… uh, “water.”
Blair Turner leaves his seat beside Sonny and Jackie and steps onto the stage a second later. He makes some adjustments to the mic, and smiles at C. Auguste. “Big fan, sir. That should work now.”
Dupin gives Blair one slight nod. “You’re a life-saver and a very astute young man.” He eyes the microphone suspiciously. “Infernal device.”
“Yes he is,” Forge chimes in. Blair blushes and returns to his seat.
Jackie gives him a thumbs up and grins. “They’re nothing without us.”
Blair nods. “True.”
“Behind every good Brian Harrison is a me,” Jackie adds, laughing.
“Behind every good detective is his tech guy,” Blair adds, pointing to himself.
Auguste clears his throat and speaks into the microphone again. “If we could get started.”
There is a bit of shuffling in the audience as Lucas makes his way down a row to an empty seat. He leans close to the man on his right. “You’re Ellery Queen.” Whispering loudly, he says, “Declan, look I’m next to Ellery Queen!”
Declan shifts in his chair, looks at the podium and sips his water.
Forge nudges Luki’s elbow and points to Declan. “Deadly assassin of the night.” Then he motions with one finger to Lucas Coate. “And his soul mate, Lucas.”
“Werewolves are very outgoing,” Luki observes, and Forge arches an eyebrow and nods.
Dupin gives them a dirty look and raises his voice. “As I was saying, this is a panel discussion on modern surveillance techniques for human and non-human investigators.” He motions to Forge and Declan. “We have with us today two vampire representatives from the Vampire Guard. Declan specializes in undercover—”
“He’s great under the covers,” Lucas chimes in. Forge covers his mouth with one hand and coughs while Declan shakes his head, rubbing his forehead.
“—undercover and has chameleon like abilities to infiltrate a target gang. Jonas Forge is a prior homicide detective turned covert operative.” Dupin then motions toward Brian. “The human panelists are Mr. Harrison, formerly an inspector with Scotland Yard, and last but certainly not least is Mr. Luki Vasquez, founder and CEO of Vasquez Security.”
Forge leans toward Declan. “Dupin looks hungry, don’t you think?” When Declan doesn’t even look at him, Forge shakes his head. “Maybe it’s me. I’m hungry. You know, my luggage was lost, with all my supplies.”
“You’re always hungry,” Declan states and slides a bowl of peanuts toward Forge. “Have a snack. I told you I have extra blood packets and will give you one later.”
“Declan,” Forge begins, making a motion with his hand to indicate Declan should quiet down. “Mr. Dupin is trying to get the panel started.”
Declan snorts and shakes his head.
“Good luck with that,” Luki says. “I hear the guy hardly ever leaves his house. And he writes poetry. I hope he doesn’t have anything like a recital planned.”
Sonny James stands up, eyes blazing as he makes his way out of the row of seats toward the stage. Luki believes Sonny’s eyes and ears should be studied by science. Sonny can hear a whisper two states away.
“Man, your hearing is good. Are you sure you’re not a vampire?” Lucas asks as Sonny storms by him.
“Luki Vasquez! I am surprised at you,” Sonny says once he’s planted himself on the stage, one hand on his hip, the other protectively on Dupin’s shoulder. “I’m sure you could manage to be civil. I’d like to remind you that Monsieur Dupin has been a fictional human detective for almost two centuries. You are a babe in the woods!”
Luki hangs his head and mumbles, “Sorry.”
“Don’t mope, husband. You know I love you. Just try to be nice, please.”
“Mercí, Monsieur James,” Dupin says. “I am gratified, but not surprised by your gallant errantry in quieting the voices of those who, by means of nonsensical puns, would stand in the way of my effort to encourage discourse upon the superior analytic powers of the fictional detective, human and otherwise, such as myself, Monsieur Holmes”—he nods toward that gentleman in the audience and receives a smug nod on return—“and allegedly those four with whom I share the honor of this venerable stage.”
Sonny nods enthusiastically, mostly happy that the sentence had at last come to an end. As he begins to move off the stage toward his seat, he can’t help but reflect upon the vast difference between this man’s moderator style and that of Frodo Baggins, who took the chair in 2014.
Dupin said, “He is a very little fellow, that’s true, and would do better for the Théâtre des Variétés.”
Sonny stops, “Wha…?”
“Mr. Baggins,” Dupin explains. “And those are the same words I long ago spoke to my friend in Paris, as recorded by that illustrious man of the pen, Edgar Allan Poe, which caused him—my friend, that is—to ask me how I deduced that he was thinking about Chantilly. I will now elucidate the manner in which I arrived at the knowledge that you were thinking of—”
Sonny smiles and says, “Oh, no. Please, that’s fine,” while hurrying off the stage.
Declan comments to Forge, “Jackie Vasquez stands out in a crowd. He’s quite stunning and his heartbeat is very steady. You know, with training, if he was turned and acquired a soul mate he’d make a fine agent for The Guard.”
Brian turns immediately toward Declan, prepared to fight even a vampire to protect his lover, sub, and—he hopes—soon to be fiancé.
Luki stands up—which gets everyone’s attention excepting Sonny and those in the audience who have fallen asleep. “Let’s talk about guns!”
“I love guns!” Forge jumps in immediately. “I rarely have to use them—” his eyes turn solid blue and his fangs drop for a few seconds before he appears human again. “—but when I do I—”
“He’s trying to say he likes the big guns,” Blair pipes up from the audience. When everyone turns to look at him he blushes deep red. “Um, I mean, you know, rifles and not the little ones.” He sinks down in his seat.
“But when I do, I appreciate a good, solid, state of the art firearm,” Forge finishes.
“Perhaps you could expound upon the ever changing and fascinating subject of how, in this day and age of almost magical means of espionage that uses more than simply pen and paper, a keen eye and sharp wit to follow and apprehend a vile perpetrator?” Dupin asked.
Brian leans closer to Forge. “Do you think he’s finished his question? Seems short for him.”
Forge shrugs and Declan stands up. “Bon après-midi Monsieur Dupin.” Then he repeats in English, “Good afternoon, Mr. Dupin.”
Dupin’s face lights up. “You speak French!”
Declan bows slightly. “I was born in Paris in 1721.”
“Actually he’s nobility, Marquis de—” Forge stops talking abruptly and reaches down to grab at his foot Declan has just stomped on.
“I prefer the name Declan.”
“He’s killed for less than knowing his real name,” Lucas and Blair chime from the audience.
“Like a damn demon,” Forge grumbles. “Can’t know my real name.”
Brian Harrison leans forward and covers his face, trying desperately to stop the laughter he’s consumed with.
“As I was saying,” Declan raises his voice ever so slightly. “We vampires have an advantage because our hearing is so sensitive, electronic means are often unnecessary.”
“And don’t forget the ninja fast moves,” Lucas adds. He nudges Ellery Queen and points to Declan. “Those vamps can move so fast it’s like they’re here one second and there the next.”
“That’s because we are,” Forge says.
“That must be handy,” Brian says and Forge nods.
Luki says, defensively, “I’m fast!”
Sonny is looking down at his program, and it’s not clear he’s even aware he speaks aloud. “Yup! Fast is the word. Wham bam.”
All eyes turn toward Luki, whose mouth is hanging open. He wipes sudden sweat from his brow. “Not that kind of wham bam. That isn’t what he meant! Sonny, baby, tell them that isn’t what you meant.”
Sonny looks up from his program, confused, and then gets a horrified look on his face. “No! No that is not at all what I meant. I mean… Sorry, husband!”
Sonny looks so miserable, and Luki loves him so much, so he ignores his own mortification. “Never mind, sweetie. It’s okay. I don’t care what they think anyway.”
The other panelists, most of the audience, and even Dupin chorus, “Aaaawww.”
Luki says, “So about those guns. I myself far prefer Sig for a handgun. I had a pretty little Beretta once, but… one terrible day I saw Sonny holding it to someone’s head. Lost its charm.”
Brian perks up. Here’s a subject he doesn’t mind talking about. “Man, when I was working in England, no guns! Imagine being a cop investigating murders in a metropolis with 10,000 dark alleys, and no gun!”
“Mr. Harrison, getting vampire skills is simply a matter of being turned. Then not having a gun will be far less a problem,” Declan points out. “If you’re interested…”
Brian seems to consider it for a few seconds before Luki and Jackie say sternly, “No.”
“Now that I’m going back to work for you Luki, things will be different.”
“Not too terribly different, I hope, Brian. You’ll be behind a desk at least half the time, and we rarely have to shoot anybody for a client. Although I did once have to shoot the client… But that’s a tale for another time. Still have your uncle’s Colt?”
“Of course. Damn fine gun,” Brian says.
Forge says, “To heck with handguns. I never use a gun in any situation that requires less than an M16.”
Luki laughs, and shakes his head. “You do know I’m former ATF, right? Still have ties…”
Not at all worried, Forge shrugs and says, “Bring it, man!” He flashes his detective’s badge with the word retired across the bottom.
Meanwhile, Dupin has been fidgeting at the podium and occasionally wiping his increasingly sweaty brow. He’s tried to interrupt, saying “S-s-sirs” several times, but none of the panelists have noticed.
Fortunately, Jackie and Blair have seen him, and they apparently both empathize. “Hey,” they both say, almost simultaneously.
All the panelists close their mouths and look toward the men in the audience.
Jackie continues. “Mr. Dupin has been trying to get your attention”—he stops, and in a fair imitation of his uncle Sonny, puts his hands on his hips and emphasizes the next word especially for Brian’s benefit “—Sir!’
Blair says, “Yeah, Forge. What he said.”
Sherlock Holmes stands, puts his hands behind his back and says, “I’ve deduced, Misters Forge and Harrison, that your respective lovers….”
Luki interrupts, “Is Watson here, Mr. Holmes? He knows a little something about guns.”
Dupin gets right up on top of the microphone and says, “Gentlemen! Here is a question from the audience.” Everyone is shocked into silence by the fact that the man asserted himself, so he continues. “Guns are fine in a confrontation, but you are supposed to be detectives. What are your favorite tools of detection?”
Brian says, “Internet.”
Forge says, “Superhuman strength and speed combined with extremely sensitive hearing. I can tell if someone is lying by how their heartbeat changes.”
Declan speaks authoritatively. “I’ve been around a long while; hard to put anything over on me since I’ve been a student of human behavior for a very long time. Plus, my senses are so sharp I just heard that guy in last row surreptitiously scratch his…” He holds Luki’s watch out to him and smiles mischievously. “And I can catch a thief because I am one.”
Luki has been looking thoughtful, chewing his lip while the others were speaking. The answer comes to him in just that moment, and he blurts it out. “Jude!” Then he rolls his eyes at Declan and snatches his watch.
Brian nods knowingly, but Dupin, Forge, and Declan ask together, “Jude?”
Luki says, “Yes. Jude. My office admin. She can do anything.”
Dupin gets up close to the mic again, as if about to assert control over the suddenly guffawing crowd, but a woman with “STAFF” on the back of her shirt comes in, steps onto the stage, and over to the mic.
“Lara Croft, Tomb Raider,” Brian exclaims. “Speaking of badass!”
But no one is listening. Ms. Croft has thanked Dupin and the panel for the “uh… ahem… enlightening discussion,” and the audience, it seems is racing en masse to get a table at the bar.
Sonny James & Luki Vasquez
Brian Harrison & Jackie Vasquez
Jonas Forge & Blair Turner; Declan and Lucas Coate
Until next month