GENERIC SECRET HIDEOUT

WASHINGTON, D.C.

ABOUT A BLOCK FROM DENNY'S

Six silhouettes surrounded a table, all shrouded in darkness until one complained of being unable to see and turned the lights on.

"General Grier," began the one on the far left, "the Sue population has reached critical mass."

"We can handle however many the fans crank out, Lieutenant."

"That's the issue, sir. We're talking canon."

"Dear God…what's the risk?"

"The early symptoms have started to take hold. Authors have begun to realize that they can get away with this shit. Conservative forecasts reveal a future composed of nothing but crazy old women's masturbatory fantasies attached to butchered genre conventions."

"Lieutenant, what the hell can we do about this?"

"The only way I can think of is to terminate the Sues in their own reality, erasing their existence for good and erasing their taint."

"But how?"

"We need someone. Someone strong, devoted, relentless. Someone who can overwhelm their overpowered bullshit with raw determination."

"Who?"

"I have an idea."

STARY OSKOL, RUSSIA

Lieutenant Owens, standing in such all-encompassing cold that his testicles had literally receded into his body, examined the doughy man before him. Turning to the provided translator, he voiced his offer. After a minute of deliberation among the translator and the prospective champion, the former turned to Owens.

"What are you offering?"

"Twenty million a month for the rest of his life."

More whispering.

"No deal."

"Tell him how much ice cream he could buy with that sort of money."

After yet another soft conference, the marble face of the Russian opened into a grin. He extended his hand.

"Thank you, Mr. Emelianenko," said Owens. "You're fighting the good fight."