Here's the cover:
Here's the promo copy:
The great metropolis of Super City is the home of dozens of costumed heroes -- the Terrific Trio, the Bruiser, the Superlative Six, the Cowboy, and many more -- who do battle against the super-villains who terrorize the citizenry.
These aren't their stories ...
When the heroes are done punching out the villains, it's left to the stalwart men and women of the Super City Police Department to restrain them, arrest them, and hope that this time there's enough evidence to actually convict them.
Just another day on the job for the Super City Cops.
Detective Elias Vondelikos has spent months working undercover to infiltrate the organization of Apollo, one of Super City's most dangerous and insane supervillains. But working for crazy bad guy has its risks, and the job the undercover cop was hired for turns vicious in a hurry. Meanwhile, Detectives Kristin Milewski and Jorge Alvarado follow a trail of dead bodies left by the new Amethyst--whose methods are far more brutal than the average superhero, and whose true identity will rock the SCPD to its core!
And finally, here's an excerpt:
Detective Elias Vondelikos sat behind the wheel of the idling cargo van, feeling like an idiot, dressed in a toga.
The van was parked outside the same warehouse where he'd been given the himation he was currently wearing, and also meeting the other "subjects."
He couldn't help but notice that the other half-dozen people Apollo had hired for the job were, at the very least, pale-skinned. There was one black guy and one Latino guy, but both of them were very light-skinned, and the other four looked either Greek or Italian.
One of the latter turned out to be Turkish. Vondelikos had struck up a conversation with him—his name was Frank, and he was the B&E guy who'd be getting them through the security fence around the airfield. Frank had told Apollo he was Greek because he didn't want to risk getting killed. Greeks and Turks were often enemies, and Frank had heard enough about the super-villain to not want to take the chance.
Today, they were doing a dry run of the job, using the Helios Trust warehouse—which Apollo owned, apparently—as a substitute for the hangar at Robinson Airfield where the diamond plane was to be placed after landing.
Vondelikos watched from the van as Frank attached some kind of doohickey to the fence that was supposed to interrupt the electricity running through it—Frank had explained it at one point, but it was all gobbledygook to Vondelikos—and then clipped the fence so the seven of them could get through.
Well, six of them. Apollo himself just floated over the fence, but he couldn't very well carry six people hauling equipment and AR-15s.
Vondelikos had no idea how it was going, as the only members of the crew he could see were the two guys standing guard outside the warehouse-cum-hangar.
A bolt of lightning sizzled through the air, startling Vondelikos so much that he jumped in the driver's seat, the seatbelt biting into his ribs.
Instinctively, Vondelikos reached for his weapon, but of course, he wasn't armed. Yay, police training, he thought to himself dolefully. I guess Apollo's bag of tricks includes lightning. The dossier on Apollo had been skimpy, as he was a relatively new addition to Super City's ever-changing roster of super-powered bad guys.
Moments later, Frank and the other three who'd gone inside with Apollo came running out while Apollo himself floated out of the hole in the roof his lightning had made. The two guards followed as well.
The side door to the van had been left open, so the other six subjects all entered the van that way while Apollo floated to the passenger-side door and got in.
As soon as all of them were inside, but before they'd closed the side door, Vondelikos hit the accelerator and drove off.
When he turned left on Giacoia instead of continuing down 1st to Wolfman Street, Apollo cried out, "What madness is this?"
"It's not madness, it's good sense," Vondelikos said as he turned right on 3rd. "The streets by Robinson are in the same grid as the streets here." He turned left onto Wolfman, then went left on 4th back to Giacoia, then up to 7th before going left again all the way to Siegel.
"Explain yourself, and quickly!" Apollo sounded furious.
"Look, I know this isn't the route you told me, but I did some research. If we go straight on 104th—the equivalent of 1st here—and turn onto Simonson—which is the same as Wolfman—we'll hit four different traffic cams. The route I just took? Graft it onto the neighborhood by the airport, and we'll miss all the cameras in the area."
Apollo just stared at him for a second.
Then he clapped him on the shoulder. "Well done, my subject! I believe when first we met, I spoke of the appalling state of justice in this era, and the proliferation of these surveillance devices on the very streets are among the worst offenders! Avoiding them will aid in our ability to remain out of the clutches of the constabulary!"
Vondelikos smiled. "Thanks, boss."
Turning to face the half-dozen guys in back, Apollo said, "You all performed admirably! We are, I believe, prepared for the engagement itself tomorrow! We shall gather at the warehouse first thing in the morning!"
His smile falling, Vondelikos turned onto 10th heading back toward Giacoia in order to return to the warehouse. First thing in the morning for a four p.m. job was going to make for a very long day...
* * *
After taking the van back to the Helios Trust warehouse, Vondelikos changed out of his himation and into normal clothes, then drove to the halfway house where "Phil Spiros" was staying.
Once there, he pulled the burner cell phone out from under the mattress—the existence of which was known to the administrators of the halfway house, which was why it hadn't been confiscated during bed checks—lay down on the bed, and called Zimmerman's direct line.
"It's your old buddy Phil."
The lieutenant chuckled. "Good to hear from you, Elias. How goes it?"
"It goes. We just did a dry run. I impressed the shit out of Apollo with my intimate knowledge of traffic cams so we can make our getaway without being seen by Big Brother. Not that we're gonna get that far, right?"
"Right. I talked to Singh. The EATers will be in place at Robinson at two."
"You're gonna let those poor bastards sit around for two hours?"
"They're pros, they've sat around for longer. And this way they have time to close up any holes so our Greek god won't know they're there until after he takes the diamonds."
Vondelikos shrugged. "Whatever. How 'bout the costumes?"
"I've talked to the representatives for both the Superlative Six and the Terrific Trio, and they promised to give Robinson a wide berth tomorrow at four. Castelli and Stinnett came across Major Marine and gave him the word, too. Still haven't been able to get ahold of the Bruiser."
"What, you don't have his number?" Vondelikos chuckled.
Jesus DeLaHoya had been changed—no one knew how—into a super-strong, invulnerable guy, and he'd decided to do what he could to clean up Simon Valley. He'd acquired the nickname "the Bruiser" from his days as a Gold Glove champion boxer, and had kept the sobriquet as a costumed hero. Vondelikos had come across him a couple of times on previous UC ops. He was one of the rare costumes who went out of his way to cooperate with the SCPD.
"Yes, Detective," Zimmerman said slowly, "I have his number, but I keep getting voicemail, and I generally prefer not to leave the details of undercover operations on civilian voicemails."
"Geez, it's like you're responsible or something." Vondelikos yawned. "Okay, it's been a stupid long day, and I've gotta go rob an airplane tomorrow."
Vondelikos had been about to say goodbye when Zimmerman let out that particular interjection. "Oh, what?"
"I officially got the signoff from Dellamonica. Once Operation: Sun God is done, you will be reassigned to desk duty."
Somehow, Vondelikos managed not to leap in the air and scream with joy. The fact that he was on his back and pretty damn tired had a lot to do with how he was able to so restrain himself, but he still found himself thrilled.
"It's about damn time!"
"Don't give me that, I told you it would take a few weeks for the paperwork to worm its way through the commissioner's office."
"You said that a few months ago."
"The point is, you got it. After ten years of UC, you will officially be a desk drone." Zimmerman let out a small chuckle. "Which is good, as we've been shorthanded since Fiorello and Baptiste went back on the street. Paperwork's backing up something awful."
"Believe me, Zim, a mountain of paperwork sounds like a day at the beach right now. Look, I gotta report in first thing in the a.m., so this is the last time we'll get to talk before the op goes down."
"I'm sure it'll all be fine, Elias," Zimmerman said. "Good luck."
"Thanks, Zim. And thanks for letting me know about the paperwork."
* * *
Lieutenant Therese Zimmerman hung up the phone after saying goodbye to Vondelikos. Everything was coming nicely into place. She actually had a good feeling about this op.
Which probably meant it would go horribly wrong.
But no, she refused to give in to that kind of superstitious thinking. That sort of nonsense was the bane of good police work. Vondelikos had worked hard, been patient, worked his way into the good graces of Apollo's recruiter, and now the op was about to go down.
Just to reassure herself, though, she called Mike Singh's cell.
"Mike, it's Therese. I just got off the phone with Elias, and everything's a go. They did a dry run and it went well, so Apollo's feeling confident. Everything set at your end, yes?"
"Exactly as much as it was when you called me an hour ago, Therese," Singh said indulgently.
"Look, you aren't the one Dellamonica's been giving shit about UC ops that don't go anywhere, and about how we don't put away enough of the costume bad guys ourselves."
"No, that would be you, giving me the same shit after the commissioner gives it to you." Singh chuckled. "It's fine, Therese, I understand. The abused kick downward. Worry not, all will be well. My people are running drills right now, and tomorrow will go smoothly."
"I hope so. Call me after the drills are done, let me know how they did."
"Humor me, okay?"
With that, she hung up.
The moment the phone hit the cradle, it rang again. According to the display, the call was coming from the McLean Foundation.
Run by billionaire philanthropist Marc McLean, the Foundation was responsible for, among other things, handling the Superlative Six's finances and marketing, and the Foundation also was responsible for the Cape Charity, which had been set up to assist people who suffered in the wake of costume fights.
Zimmerman had had an on-again-off-again relationship with McLean for a couple of years now.
Currently, they were in an off-again phase, which was why she let the call go to voicemail.
Another line rang, and this was internal. She picked it up. "Zimmerman."
On the other end of the line was the unmistakable voice of the desk sergeant, Karen Taylor. "Getcher butt down here, Bruiser just brought someone in."
She'd told Taylor to let her know if Bruiser showed up, so she immediately hung up and went downstairs.
Jesus DeLaHoya wasn't very tall, but every time Zimmerman saw him, she was overwhelmed by how massive he was. Trapezoid-shaped head, huge arms, no discernible neck—he always seemed to take up all the available space in any room, even one as open as the main squad room.
Bruiser saw Zimmerman after he turned over the young man he'd brought in. "'Sup, Lieutenant?"
"Jesus," she said, with the standard Latino pronunciation of "Hay-zoos." "What'd you bring us?"
"Kid's been hitting shops all up and down Ayers. I found his narrow behind running out of Columbia Florist. I'm gonna head back down to Simon Valley, get the other shop owners to come in to ID the little punk."
"Before you do that, I need a favor. I've got an undercover operation tomorrow at four at Robinson Airfield. We're going to nail Apollo. Kinda need you to stay away from there."
Bruiser grinned a perfect smile—completely fake, as his real teeth had all been knocked out during his boxing days—and said, "Not a problem, Lieutenant. I don't get that far uptown too much, anyhow, you know what I mean?"
"If you could spread the word, too? We've got the Trio, and the Six, and Major Marine on board, but if you could let some of your street-level colleagues know?"
Nodding, Bruiser said, "I'll tell 'em if I see 'em. And good luck, Lieutenant—Apollo's one crazy-ass sonofabitch."
They shook hands, and Zimmerman headed back to her office.
She saw the voicemail light flashing as she entered. Sitting down, she inhaled slowly through her nose and then exhaled slowly through her mouth.
Then she played the message.
"Therese, it's Beth from Marc McLean's office. Mr. McLean wanted to know if you'd be interested in joining him at the opening of the new wing of the Quitely Museum of Art tomorrow evening. Call me back. And, uh, Therese? He'd really like you to go."
As she stabbed at the ‘7’ button on her phone to erase the message, Zimmerman muttered, "Getting desperate, are we, Marc?"
She shook her head. No, true desperation would be if he actually made the phone call himself. Which would be a first for him...
The Quitely Museum's north wing had been destroyed in a battle between the Superlative Six and the Trumpeteers a year ago, and the McLean Foundation had been the financial might behind the rebuilding. Zimmerman knew that this opening meant a lot to Marc.
Maybe I will go.
But she didn't call Marc back just yet.