Archive for the 'Agent Black' Category

Oct 09 2008

Improving a Weak Quote

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

I found this Halo quote on TV Tropes.

Cortana: Just one question: what if you miss?

Master Chief:  I won’t.

The dialogue needs more flair.  If I wrote a similar conversation between two Superhero Nation characters, it might look something like this.

2 responses so far

Jun 16 2008

The Luck of the IRS? (Or: Eat Pennies!)

Agent Orange: Greetings, Mammal-Black! I require your expertise.

Agent Black: Tax trouble again?

Agent Orange: Indeed. Your former colleagues at the IRS persist in their shameless schemes to extort me.

Agent Black: And did this vendetta against you begin before or after you insisted on paying your income taxes in pennies?

Agent Orange: That wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if they hadn’t demanded so much money!

No responses yet

Jun 10 2008

Interagency Cooperation: NSA-OSI

Agent Orange: Greetings, Mammal-Black! The National Security Agency has leased us a new agent, someone I surmise to be an inordinately skilled assassin.

Agent Black: You surmise that he’s an assassin?

Agent Orange: When I asked about his experience, he wouldn’t say anything more than “implementing informational synergies and synthesizing data management systems.”

Agent Black: That doesn’t sound like killing people.

Agent Orange: The NSA is top-secret, so I don’t blame him for not spelling out the details of what “data management” entailed. Perhaps if you were charged with the stealthy disposal of compromised personnel in the middle of the night, Mammal-Black, you too would appreciate discretion.

Agent Black: He probably handled hard drive backups or something.

Agent Orange: The hell he did! I bet the NSA let him go for killing a surly underling that doubted his credentials.

No responses yet

May 30 2008

The Office of Special Investigations Does Clue!

Mike challenges Agent Black and Agent Orange to a game of Clue. Question: if the victim was killed by a noose, was it murder or assisted suicide?

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2 responses so far

May 27 2008

Quote of the Day: Halloween Ideas

Agent Orange: Greetings, Mammal-Black! I have an excellent costume for our upcoming office Halloween party. It makes full use of my mammal-frightening teeth and reptilian horror factor and this pleases me.

Agent Black: Godzilla?

Agent Orange: IRS agent.

Agent Black: That’s a terrible costume.

Agent Orange: Don’t make me take 28% of your candy!

No responses yet

May 24 2008

Return to Jim’s Gunz and Mattresses

Agent Orange, the mutated alligator, has a conversation with Agent Black about a firearm he purchased from Jim’s Gunz and Mattresses.

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May 21 2008

Taxes! Taxes!

The main difference between the IRS and a robber is that the IRS makes the victim an accomplice to the crime.

–Agent Orange

Hey! Don’t make me audit you.

–Agent Black, formerly of the IRS

No responses yet

May 19 2008

Featured Quote of the Day: Bring the Kids!

Agent Orange: Kids today are so hard to please.

Agent Black: I don’t even want to think about how you might know that.

Agent Orange: Yesterday…

Teacher: Class, today our guest speaker is Agent Orange.

Agent Orange: I’m a Special Investi-Gator.

Teacher: Could you explain what it is you do?

Agent Orange: Are you sure? There are kids here.

Student 1: Have you ever killed anyone?

Agent Orange: Laws need claws or they’d just be words.

Student 2: How many people have you killed?

Agent Orange: The confirmed score or a rough estimate?

Agent Black: …

Agent Black: Suddenly I have questions of my own.

One response so far

May 07 2008

Quote of the Day: Questions

Agent Black and everybody’s favorite mutated alligator, Agent Orange, have a strange conversation about killing terrorists with sponge-cake. And other questions you never thought to ask!

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No responses yet

May 03 2008

Adios, Don Gato

Agent Black and everybody’s favorite mutated alligator, Agent Orange, have a heated argument about one of America’s most popular daily comic-strips, Don Gato.

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Apr 24 2008

Two Magical Words

Agent Orange: I have learned something important about mammals. Two quasi-mystical words will put a mammal into a hypnotic stupor that will force him to believe anything.

Agent Black: You’re crazy.

Agent Orange: I am prepared to demonstrate my new-found learning of mammalian psychology. First, I will greet a victim-mammal of your selection. Then you will make an outlandish statement. And I will administer the two word hypnotic spell.

Agent Black: Let’s see it.

Five minutes later.

Agent Orange: Greetings, Mammal-Darpa! We have learned something intriguing on our latest posting.

Dr. Darpa: What?

Agent Black: We were attacked by robotic, flesh-eating airplanes.

Agent Orange: IN JAPAN!

Agent Black: … !

Dr. Darpa: Egads! How did you survive?

Agent Black:

Agent Black: NO!

[end] (If you’d be interested in reading a related article, “Stuff Mammals Like: Japan,” please see more.

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7 responses so far

Apr 21 2008

Death’s Sweet Embrace (A Typically D.C. Story, with Assassins and Gelato)

Agent Black stumbles into the Special Investigations lunchroom, his face and suit covered with ashes, dust and blood.

Captain Carnage: You look like you done tried your IRS mojo on a Texas woman.

Agent Black: Would you rather have Agent Orange drive a car or handle a submachine gun?

Captain Carnage: Is that a trick question?

Agent Black: Do I look like I’m feeling tricky right now?

Captain Carnage: Well, is Agent Orange in a combat zone on another continent, or is he somewhere where a red light actually means something?

Agent Black: Washington, DC. In my car.

Captain Carnage: Hotdamn, kid. I wouldn’t get in a tank if I knew O.J. was driving it. Give him the submachine gun, I reckon it’s less likely to hurt nastylike when he gets you killed. Those damn reptiles, they drive like everyone’s limbs grow back.

Agent Black: So, I was driving Orange. He was late to a meeting on Capitol Hill.

Captain Carnage: Hooh boy. I like where this is going.

Agent Black: We got a red light and Agent Orange says something like “why are you stopped? Keep moving, keep moving, dummy.”

Captain Carnage: Alligators reckon green and red’re the same color. When they talk about traffic lights, y’just gotta take it like Congress talking about collateral. They’re talking, but they’re not really talking, y’reckon?

Agent Black: Well, uhh. I’d heard about the green-red colorblind thing before. So I said “shuddap, I know we’re late.” And then the back of our car exploded.

Captain Carnage: Rocket launcher ambush?

Agent Black: Ambushes.

Captain Carnage: Many?

Agent Black: Four cars.

Captain Carnage: Hot damn! So you had to pick between driving or shooting. Damn sure he ain’t doing the driving. He makes NASCAR look like bumper cars. You know he once managed 8 digits of damage with a golf-cart?

Agent Black: I believe it.

Captain Carnage: Since you survived, I reckon you gave him the gun. But how did he shoot it? His hands are big enough to palm a rifle.

Agent Black: I took the gun.

Captain Carnage: But that means…

Captain Carnage: !

Agent Black: I long for death’s sweet embrace.

Later that day:

Agent Orange: Greetings, mammal-Mike!

Mike: The Captain said you had an interesting day today.

Agent Orange: I met a wily mammal-gelatoier.

Mike: A gelatoier?

Agent Orange: A mammal that sells gelato. He introduced me to the seedy and sinister gelato underworld by tricking me with a gallon of orange-flavored gelato. That was very interesting. No doubt Mike-flavored gelato would interest you. But his alleged “orange” flavor was not even remotely similar to my real orange flavor, which proves that it was a foul ruse. I also seem to have lost feeling in my digestive tract. In retrospect, I have concluded that gallons of orange gelato are better-suited to mammals than cold-bloods.

Mike: I think Carnage was referring to an attempted assassination with rocket launchers.

Agent Orange: Oh, there was that, too.

Mike:

Mike: Don’t you think that was a little bit more interesting than the gelato?

Agent Orange: (Mammals). Before today, I had not ever been offered gelato, let alone gelato that was (purportedly) in my flavor. But assassination attempts are a dime a dozen. In fact, perhaps the gelato was an assassination attempt.

No responses yet

Apr 06 2008

Scene of the Day (B. Mac’s Temporary Return!)

B. Mac gave me this to post. He says he will be healthy enough to return to full-time status within a few days.

Agent White, junior recruiter: Mr. Smith, I have no doubt that you are an excellent IRS auditor, but I’d like to know more about how an accountant might be qualified for this agency. What about killing. Have you done any of that?

Gary Smith: No, sir.

Agent White: Have you ever seen someone die brutally? A de-limbing, perhaps?

Gary Smith: No, sir.

Agent White: I see. You seem like an excellent fit… for the IRS. I’m going to do you a favor and ask that you leave now. You would break in ten minutes here and you probably wouldn’t even be the first.

Gary Smith: …

Gary Smith: Is that a request or an order?

Agent White: …

Agent White hits his intercom button.

Agent White: Agent Orange, could you step inside, please?

Agent Orange, a hulking mutated alligator, enters the room.

Agent Orange: Greetings, mammals! Mammal-White, Mammal-Smith.

Agent White: Sir, could you please describe to Mr. Smith what your job is here?

Agent Orange: Indeed! I’m the head recruiter and trainer. I determine who enters training and then how best to systematically destroy them. We’ve reduced our mortality/psychosis rate to a historically low 6%!

Agent White: Mr. Smith, so far Agent Orange has broken six Navy SEALS, five Force Recons, ten Army Rangers and so many Special Agents we’ve stopped counting.

Gary Smith: But no accountants, I bet.

Agent Orange: …

Agent Orange: When are you available to start?

No responses yet

Apr 05 2008

Agent Orange, on Agent Black

“I only gradually realized that Gary Smith was wily for a mammal. That should have been obvious. He was an accountant and, as a rule, accountant-mammals are masters of chicanery and deception. (That is why they, like lawyers and journalists, receive graduate degrees: it takes years to learn the arts of subterfuge).”

–Agent Orange

No responses yet

Mar 23 2008

Quote of the Day: 3/23/08

Agent Orange: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Agent Black: If you’re about to ask a question that includes the word “alligators,” “mammals,” “conspiracy,” or any combination of those, no.

Agent Orange: …

Agent Orange: Have you developed psychic–

Agent Black: No.

Agent Orange: Are you posi–

Agent Black: Yes.

Agent Orange: So how–

Agent Black: Wily mammal tricks. I could tell you more, but then I’d have to make you into a suitcase.

Agent Orange: …!

No responses yet

Mar 17 2008

March Madness!

At the Office of Special Investigations, March Madness can get heated pretty quickly.

Agent Black: Are you doing a bracket this year?

Agent Orange: I spit on your vile brackets. The NCAA was obviously embarrassed that the Florida Gators had humiliated the whole of mammal-kind two years in a row. And, last year, the Gators swept the national championships in football and basketball, so it was inevitable that the Vast Mammalian Conspiracy would keep us from the tournament.

Agent Black: It’s too bad you’re not doing a bracket. Guess who I’ve got winning it all.

Agent Orange: A wholly unqualified and helpless mammal team?

Agent Black: The Georgia Bulldogs!

Agent Orange: Gah! Mammal… conspiracy… vicious mammal conspiracy.

Agent Black: Hey, hey. Relax. Just because we had an “amazing run” and “reached heights no one could imagine” doesn’t mean you have to cry about it.

Agent Orange: Georgia’s presence is indisputable proof that gator-haters are conspiring against us. Georgia placed in the Western conference. Notre Dame, a team notoriously close to a mammal renowned for driving snakes and other innocent reptiles from Ireland, got into the Eastern conference. And Stanford, that crazy-eyed bastion of basketball-playing trees, got into the Southern conference. Portland—Portland!– made it into the Midwestern conference.

Agent Black: Portland played great basketball.

Agent Orange: That’s not the point. Portland is not in the Midwest, any more than Notre Dame is Eastern or Georgia is Western. The standings have been rigged by a bunch of deranged gator-haters to ensure that we will not be allowed to thrash their beloved trees and bulldogs.

Captain Carnage walks in.

Captain Carnage: Hey, Orange. I heard a joke today. What’s the difference between an alligator and a longhorn?

Agent Orange: One is a reptilian carnivore and the other goes great with tabasco sauce?

Captain Carnage: The Longhorns are in it to win it!

Agent Black: Ooh, nice one.

Agent Orange: …

Agent Orange: Mammals!

No responses yet

Mar 12 2008

Eat Me!

Agent Orange: Greetings, mammals! I have a question.

Captain Carnage: (Unfortunately, Agent Black, I have an alibi. Just now, I realized I was due at the Capitol two hours ago).

Agent Black: (I hate you).

Agent Orange: Yesterday, National Geographic claimed that grizzly bears can eat five times their own body weight. Is that true?

Agent Black: Why wouldn’t it be true?

Agent Orange: Frankly, it sounds like mammalian propaganda. Five times their own body weight? That would be like me suddenly eating a ton and a half: you, Captain Carnage, the Beatles, and a golf-cart.

Agent Black: I’m not supposed to tell this to non-mammals…

Agent Orange: No, I must know!

Agent Black: Grizzly bears can eat a hundred times their own body weight. National Geographic lied to you to lure you into a false sense of security.

Agent Orange: The fiends!

Agent Orange: …

Agent Orange: … but that would be like me eating 75,000 racks of ribs. Waitresses already give me weird looks when I order eight!

Agent Black: I’m not supposed to tell this to non-mammals, either… but all mammals can eat a hundred times their own weight.

*Agent Orange gasps*

Agent Black: So, if you’re 600 pounds, that means that any mammal that weighs six pounds could theoretically eat you.

Agent Orange: But, but I’ve seen rats in the basement that must have been six pounds heavy! The Gator Gods would curse me for all time if I allow one to devour me. I thank you for your assistance, mammal-Black.

Agent Orange stalks off.

Agent Black pulls out his cell-phone and calls Captain Carnage’s voice-mail.

“Black here. I think I just solved the rodent problem.”

No responses yet

Feb 04 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/4/08

Love demands infinitely less than friendship…” — George Nathan

…but costs infinitely more.” — Agent Black

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Jan 31 2008

Schedule of the Day

One of the Google searches that brought someone to Superhero Nation was “what do alligators do all day?” Agent Orange, our resident mutated alligator, provides his daily schedule.

1 AM: I respond to a WMD scare in Surf City. (It was just a death ray).

2: A purported representative of the British government calls, asking for urgent help “to stop an impending act of anti-supervillain activity.” Terrorist! I hang up.

2:30: Britain reports that Doctour Nefarious just carried out “anti-supervillain activity” at Big Ben. The reports don’t mention which supervillain he acted against, but I’m betting Jihad Joe or Paingod.

2:35: I call the Ministry of Defense and ask them to pass along my congratulations to Nefarious for turning on his evil compatriots. They swore and hung up on me. (And they wonder why we declared independence).

3: A genetically-engineered slime monster attacks Surf City. Dr. Darpa suggests that a salt-spray will kill it, but he doesn’t mention that salting it will send slime shooting for blocks in every direction.

3:10: Showering.

3:30: Still showering.

3:45: I get dressed. I’m feeling dangerous today, so I reach for a black tie instead of my usual navy blue.

4: I brush my teeth. (Yeah, I brush my teeth, too—it just takes more time).

4:30: Still brushing.

4:45: I check my voice-mail. IRS Agent Percy Leguin called again to complain that the Office of Special Investigations is doing too much “showboating,” by which he means investigating crime that Americans actually care about. The bitch insinuates that OSI agents couldn’t handle IRS work.

5: A citizen that incorrectly filled out a 1040-DX Schedule ECQ gets a very special no-knock home visit about why filling out a proper 1040-DK Schedule FIS is important. I’m sure it’s a mistake he won’t make again.

6: Downstairs, I encounter Agent Black and Captain Carnage discussing female-mammals. For reasons unclear to me, talking about mammalian matters makes Agent Black pathologically forgetful. Unsurprisingly, as soon as he sees me, Black mentions that he’s forgotten his ammo. When I offer to go find some for him, he smiles. (I’m so helpful).

6:30– I come back with the ammo, but Black’s gone. (Mammals). I’ll find him later.

7– As part of the ongoing Friendly Skies program, I get a free ticket to New York. Having a uniformed federal agent on a plane tends to terrify mammals, so I just told anyone within earshot that I was just scamming a first-class ticket. That calms them down considerably. (Mammals).

7:45– Mike is also on the plane with me! He is conspicuously surly and says that “I’m going to carpet-bomb your neural nodes if you ask about the Gators game again.” I don’t remember having spoken to the mind-wiper earlier today. I decide that until Mike gets unsurly, he doesn’t deserve to talk about the Gators.

8– On my way to the office, I stumble upon two gunmen attempting to rob a Caribou Coffee. They are not successful.

8:05– Waiting for NYPD.

8:10– Still waiting.

8:15– I assume that I’ll be here a while. I ask the cashier which species of caribou they have on hand. I’m especially partial to Rocky Mountain caribou, but even Alaskan elk are better than whatever else you can find in New York.

8:17– The cashier admits to me that Caribou Coffee does not actually sell caribou. I make a note to inform the Better Business Bureau of bait-and-switch advertising– they lure in unsuspecting customers with promises of caribou and then sell them coffee instead. (Mammals). Two NYPD officers walk in; I trust that they will take care of this criminal cesspool of deception and lies.

8:45– I reach the local police station and start filling out paperwork related to the coffeeshop arrest.

10– Still paperworking.

10:30– A detective asks me if I’d like some coffee or something. Unless coffee means caribou, no.

10:45– A captain interrupts me. Space slugs are clogging the Hudson again. I tell him that I’m still doing paperwork, but he calls my bluff by offering to handle the paperwork himself. I ask which way it is to the Hudson.

10:55—Goddamn. This was a new suit.

11: I walk down to the Office’s New York branch. Raul, our lobby guard, starts quizzing me with questions designed to weed out potential shapeshifters.

11:05: “Raul, I am coated in slug slime. Let me in immediately or you will regret it. “What does the 5th amendment say, sir?” “Here’s the abridged version. No person shall be deprived of life or limb without due process of law. Without due process, Raul.” He lets me in.

11:45– Still showering.

12 PM: The University of Florida calls. They want help creating a tagline for Albert the Florida Gator’s new clothing line. They like “Prepare to Get Swamped” but think that “Chomping Your Ass Since 1908” sends mixed messages.

12:15: They don’t like “Be a Gator, Not a Hater” either.

12:30—I walk down to the cafeteria and find… Agent Black! I hand him his ammo. He gives me a confused look. He has not only forgotten his ammo, he has forgotten that he has forgotten it. I swear! He’d forget his tail if he had one.

12:35—“He’d forget his tail if he had one.” Aha! I’ve stumbled onto the reason that Agent Black doesn’t have one.

4 responses so far

Jan 29 2008

Quote of the Day (1/14/08)

Agent Orange: This has been troubling me for weeks: humans are obviously tail-deficient but claim to have a “tailbone.” Why is that?

Agent Black: Beats me. Whenever something about mutated alligators confuses me, it’s usually just because we’re hundreds of millions of years ahead of you evolutionarily.

Orange: …!

Orange: Tails are really useful. You’re jealous you don’t have one.

Black: Quoteth Calvin to Hobbes: they’re neckties for the ass.

Orange: Neckties that can strangle someone, an important distinction.

Black: I’m sure there’s scientists somewhere that deal with random shit like this. Just call one of them. And, while you’re at it, a psychiatrist.

The next day

Orange: Reptologists are friendly and helpful, like their area of research. They can answer any reptilian question, like why crocodiles are alligator-rejects.

Black: I thought your question was about humans.

Orange: I’m getting to that! I called several mammologists and I’ve concluded that mammologists are part of a vast conspiracy to conceal the truth about mammalian “tailbones” from reptiles.

Black: …

Black: They obviously didn’t do such a good job concealing the truth if you uncovered it anyway.

Orange: I was far too clever for them. I asked one what mammalogists were good for besides wasting oxygen and she blabbered about providing “mammo-grams.” That response was so inane that I knew right then it was an attempt at deception.

Black: Uhh, a mammogram is

Orange: Not merely a unit of mass, it’s British mass. And the problem here is not that I have too little mammalian mass (British or otherwise) but rather that humans have a dishonestly marketed bone. Perhaps if y’all got a few repto-grams, you might have a real tailbone.

Captain Carnage walks in.

Captain Carnage: Am I interrupting something?

Black: No, I think it’s almost over.

Orange: Yours is a very wacky species.

No responses yet

Jan 28 2008

Scenelet of the Day

Agent Orange and Agent Black step onto an elevator in the lobby.

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No responses yet

Jan 11 2008

Scene of the Day (1/11/08)

A commenter asked “what do they teach at the Office of Special Investigation’s Chariots of Fire Driving Academy?” A very good question.

[start scene]

Agent Black is waiting in the CFDA’s front-lobby, which looks like an airport terminal. Beyond the glass walls, cars chase each other on a practice course.

CFDA RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry, we’re out of spaces for the Defensive Driving course. Can I interest you in Offensive Driving? Just sign these liability disclaimers.

BLACK: What do they teach in Offensive–

A car triple barrel-rolls onto the car it had been chasing.

BLACK: …

BLACK: Do you have a pen?

One response so far

Jan 09 2008

Quote of the Day (1/9/08)

Agent Orange: In Canada, keep your friends close and your automatic weaponry closer. The nation is a rabbit’s den of sinister plots and dark secrets.

Agent Black: Canada has dark secrets?

Agent Orange: The darkest!

No responses yet

Jan 07 2008

Quote of the Day– 1/7/2008

Agent Black: Several years ago, the OSI concluded that Dr. Savant had a secret identity and identified three suspects, including another Social Justice Leaguer. All attempts to determine which one have failed. Until now.

Captain Carnage: Why?

Black: Because he’s every freaking one of them.

Carnage: …

Carnage: And that threw y’all off for several years?

Black: He has three secret identities. That was, uhh, a great deal stranger than I had anticipated.

Carnage: Hell, boy, this ain’t no shit. In the Gulf War, I passed out in a Kuwaiti sandstorm and woke up in Costa Rica. Surrounded by decapitated kangaroos.

Black: …

Black: Wow. That’s strange.

Carnage: Or it might have been Iraq, surrounded by decapitated Republican Guardsmen. It’s hard to keep all the details straight.
Black: …

Black: …

Black: You’ve been talking to RETCON, haven’t you?

Carnage: How’d you know?

No responses yet

Dec 02 2007

Quote of the Day

Note on the OSI Human Resources Branch Refrigerator

ATTENTION HUMAN RESOURCES TEAM:

Several letters, ‘Special Investi,’ faded off my door placard. Since this sort of event happens passively all the time, there’s no reason to suspect that any of you were involved or spike the office coffee with truth serum. I’m sure the scratch marks are coincidental and entirely unrelated to the cruelly disfigured statue of Albert the Florida Gator that was left as a doorjamb.

–Agent Orange, Human Resources Director and Special Investigator

Postscript: In completely unrelated news, I’m holding an interrogation information session office party today. Everyone with claws or a proficiency with knifes/cutting implements is invited. (RSVP not mandatory but attendance is. These employees can check the attached schedule for their required party time).

Post-postscript: Agent Black, don’t even bother checking. You’re first.

Post-post-postscript: In other completely unrelated news, the OSI is adjusting its service schedules to enhance public safety. We will deploy a number of agents to conduct the esteemed work of bomb-searching every dumpster within a ten mile radius of the University of Florida’s Griffin Stadium before each football game. OSI-HR has not yet decided how many agents to deploy; the investigation roster evaluation is still pending.

Post-post-post-postscript: You—you know who you are (and I do, too)—are considering time-travel. “What if I undrink the truth serum but decapitate Albert anyway?” Please. Unless you’re also interested in Florida baseball, I’d recommend against it.

Post-post-post-post-postscript: Mammals. [Note: this is not a legal statement implying that I know the species of the partyer-of-honor. However, it is a statement that I know it’s Black.]

No responses yet