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Author Topic: Miss Anastasia  (Read 1590 times)

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Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Miss Anastasia
« on: October 19, 2010, 01:36:58 PM »
(This came from something in my introduction thread, and the seed has become something much more, so I present it to you as an amusing diversion)

There are many stories told of Miss Anastasia and her exploits. When the inhabitants of the demi-monde of espionage, infiltration and general international skullduggery gather in their haunts, conversation often turns to the exploits of the legendary figures of their trade, but when one ventures forth a tale of Miss Anastasia, an almost reverential silence will descend amongst them, so eager are they to hear the tale.

Most of the tales told about her are fabrications, of course, spun from the fevered imagination of one who has spent far too long pretending to be a Peruvian fish merchant or Macedonian actor in order to fulfill the most minor part of a grand operation conceived in marble halls well above their pay grade. So, I make you this promise - every single word of what I tell you here is true.

She spent her youth in Vladivostok. I was going to say she grew up there, but that would not be believable - she was grown up from the moment she was born, it is inconceivable to imagine this woman never being totally aware of her surroundings. When this happened is not clear - some tell tales of her leading the Red Army into the city after the Revolution reached the Pacific, others are adamant that she was the teenage girl who tore down the flag of the USSR when that fell. What is known is that it is from here that the NKVD, KGB or FSB recruited her, having spotted her potential to be a star agent. By the age of thirteen, she had already turned down recruitment offers from the leading ballet companies of Russia and the leading martial arts companies of Japan, as well as that bizarre institution in Bangladesh that combines them both.

They claim to have recruited her, though perhaps it is more true to say that she recruited them, the head of the local branch finding her waiting in his office one morning, requesting an assignment, her details already recorded in the system as though she'd been there forever, even though no one had any knowledge of her existence before then. From there, it's the usual tale of spent bullets, burnt passports, discarded disguises and broken hearts scattered around the globe that are the residue of all the finest agents, no matter their nationality. Stories from this period of her career are the most commonly told around the table of agents, perhaps because they are usually simple enough to be told and understood when several bottles of whiskey have been drunk. Soon, this attracted the attention of Moscow, who had an operation that needed an almost impossible array of skills to pull off. Naturally, she had them all.

The plan was very simple - a mission in London would appear to go wrong, she'd be captured by MI5 and agree to work for them as a double agent in exchange for her freedom, but would secretly owe her ultimate loyalty to Moscow, thus acting as a triple agent. While keeping the balance of this role in their head would trouble all but the most experienced of agents, this was child's play for her, and it's perhaps why she instead divulged the entire plan to her MI5 handlers and instead offered to become a quadruple agent. They agreed instantly, but I am told that there are sweepstakes running within MI5 about just when she will be revealed as a quintuple or sextuple agent.

The rest is the world that we now experience, and try to control in her wake - the way she skilfully handled her conflicting orders at the Chequers Summit to such an extent that I understand the Conservatives were very close to selecting Vladimir Putin as their candidate for the Axminster South by-election, her visit to Milan for Fashion Week which led to the diplomatic services of several countries spending hours unsuccessfully persuading an army of supermodels not to retire in favour of a teaching career and, of course, the recent incident in the harbour at Cannes with the arms dealer, the yacht, the bag full of stolen diamonds and the genetically engineered swan.

Then there are the other legends - the CIA invested millions to prove that her hair was of a shade of red impossible for a human to grow naturally, yet a two-year Mossad operation failed to generate any evidence of her walking past a hair salon, let alone entering one. There's also her habit of entering one house that may or may not be owned by her through a series of shell companies at night, then exiting from another on a separate continent the next morning, and the way every restaurant in every city in the world has the best table reserved for her, even though they claim never to have heard of her five minutes before she enters.

But these legends all miss the one fact that no one even dares to consider - that their oh-so-important world of espionage is just a game she plays to fill the time between her real work. Since long before the supposedly secret services of the world knew about her, the true secret powers have been aware of her. Indeed, it is rumoured that Faction Paradox, with their usual flair for impossible showmanship, attempted to recruit her to their cause before she was even born. The Reconstituted Others (Up Faction) saw their advances rebuffed as well, while the Charm Offensive Tendency found themselves permanently excluded from the whole of Asia after their recruitment attempt went awry. Not that the 'intelligence' factions of this world would ever have noticed this going on around them, so concerned are they with their realities.

She remains one of us, part of the Legion of Dynamic Discord, sworn and bound to do whatever the hell we feel like as long as we don't break the universe in the process. And if we do, we promise to put it back together afterwards.

And every single word of this is true, as I promised. It's just that the sentences they form themselves into are packed full of lies.

Offline rabbiteye

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 09:53:37 PM »
This was excellent. Highly amusing to me. Bravo!

Offline Imogen

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 02:05:04 PM »
Hurray!! More about the elusive Miss Anastasia!

Thank you for satisfying my curiosity about this enigma, Parlabane. And as i've come to expect of you, you are baiting me with more tantalizing riddles! Is it all true? Did the CIA ever get their money's worth in an answer? Does the Legion of Dynamic Discord really exist and who else are part of this mysterious organization? Who leads it and what are its goals. With every answer, there's so much more I'd love to know...

I enjoyed this!

Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 02:51:56 PM »
Glad you enjoyed it - my mind comes up with this sort of thing from time to time and it's nice to have a place to get it out and give it a chance to live.

I'm sure there are more tales of the Legion of Dynamic Discord, especially their battles against the Charm Offensive Tendency, lurking somewhere in the depths of my mind. I just need to find the right metaphorical fishing hook to pull them out...

Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2010, 02:04:28 AM »
What is The Hum's real name? It cannot be known. That's not to say he doesn't have one, it's just that because he's a master of distraction, anyone learning it will find that they're suddenly thinking of something else and have neglected to remember the name that seemed oh-so-important to them just a few moments before. In fact, they might even wonder whether they had met someone at all, and anyway, have you heard how much they're increasing the fares for rail travel in the south east? It's scandalous, I can't believe the Government allows them to...

Ah, sorry. But you see, this is one of the powers of The Hum - it will take your most extreme skills in mental focus, the ones you should all have learned from the Zen Masters, to maintain focus and not drift off into idle speculation about something else when considering him.

Specifics of his life are hard to discover. We assigned a team of researchers to discover what they could, but soon found that even the best of them could do no more than 5 minutes work on the project before realising there were some important facts about 17th century Spanish poetry that they had to discover right then. Sure, we did create Wikipedia as a result of this distraction activity, but details of The Hum were still scarce afterwards.

At a best guess, we think he was born in the 50s, principally because the level of distraction, confusion and absent-mindedness in our field of operation began increasing dramatically from the mid-70s. However, there is a counter-theory that this was just the metaphysical damage done to reality by the Presidency of Gerald Ford. (It's worth noting at this point that, when questioned, many people fail to remember that a President Ford ever existed)

Evidence - including his identity as The Hum - suggests he first became aware of his powers of distraction while at school in whichever country he grew up in. We believe that students there used to hum during lessons or addresses by boring teachers to distract and confuse them, but it was only when he joined in with them that the tactic reached a devastating effectiveness. There are sketchy reports from various global locations of schools being abandoned for no good reason throughout the 1960s, which may be connected to him or maybe entirely unrelated - indeed, the inability of researchers to probe anything that may be connected to him makes it hard to know more.

It's possible that he joined the Legion in the 1970s, though none of us have any knowledge of that happening, obviously. Evidence places him in high-ranking positions in both the Reagan and Yeltsin administrations which could explain just why the most apocalyptic forecasts of the scryers never came close to fruition during those periods. He's also believed to have taken lengthy vacations in Ibiza and Ayia Napa in the same period that may explain a lot about the attention span of Britons under the age of 35.

Current location unknown, but analysis suggests he works somewhere in internet content production. In fact, have you seen this new website? Pictures of cats with amusing captions...god, you could spend hours looking at them.

Sorry, were we having a meeting? Can't have been anything important, can it, if we can't remember what it was about. In fact, why not take the afternoon off?

Offline Xandria

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Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2010, 08:22:17 AM »
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and love stories with elements of espionage and mystery. Thank you for posting it!!

Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2010, 11:56:47 AM »
France, 1958, somewhere between the Fourth and Fifth Republics. Using the absence of a Government of any form as cover, a cabal of intelligence officers launched their most ambitious plan yet. Having previously been thwarted in their attempts to infiltrate British intelligence thanks to a lack of knowledge of the finer points of English society and culture, they decided to create the perfect infiltrator.

Using a prototype isolation tank and early computer technology, they compressed every scrap of information they could gather about England into a data stream. (Ironically, their inability to classify this information securely, allowed the Dutch to steal it in the 70s to form the basis of Compact Disc technology) Agents scoured the globe for everything imaginable, from the lost works of Shakespeare to the legandary Black Diaries of Queen Victoria, and all was streamed into a volunteer, who chose to step into the isolation tank for the procedure.

Three years later, he emerged as the living and breathing embodiment of all things English and, of course, immediately decided he wanted nothing to with any Frenchmen. Quickly escaping from the secret facility, he crossed the Channel to England and immediately slipped into society as though he was born to it.

His first public sighting after that was at Cliveden House in 1961, introducing John Profumo to Christine Keeler, and thus bringing down the MacMillan Government. Since then, the Englishman (as he has become known to all) has effortlessly moved through the upper echelons of British society while never seeming to age - though whether this is connected to the fact that the legendary Laboratoires Garnier now stand upon the site of the secret intelligence facility where he was created is a matter for discussion in another venue.

He can be seen, in the background, at every major event in British history for the last fifty years, and some of the key points in French history too. (He was the instigator of the 'I had her first, Nicolas' operation) Indeed, it's said that his only failure was not preventing the cancellation of Doctor Who in 1989 by the Illuminati agent known only as The Grade.

Naturally, he was an eager recruit to the Legion, pledging himself to 'wiping out that Bavarian bounder Weishaupt and his chums' with great gusto. Many ill-prepared agents of the Illuminati have found their plans scuppered by the Englishman, though all have reported that no matter what he did to them, his manners were always exemplary and the tea and cake provided was of a most excellent quality.

Offline exitmusic

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2010, 01:40:30 PM »
Bravo! With much hope for an encore!

I love them. All of them. There needs to be a coy leaflet for each of them!


Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2010, 06:02:52 PM »
Just to say that I do have some further characters gestating in my head (no, it's not that painful) but in the true spirit of the League of Dynamic Discord, please feel free to contribute your own ideas to this thread, whoever you may be.

Offline ParlabaneTopic starter

Re: Miss Anastasia
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2020, 10:37:53 AM »
Been rediscovering some things recently, including this thread, and then found this in the depths of my hard drive which feels like it fits here.

Michael Swannick was an inventor. Specifically, an inventor of o-rings, sealing gaskets and other small things that help to keep the world moving but no one ever likes to think about. This was fine for Michael, as he was the sort of person who didn't like receiving much attention, and aside from the occasional mention of his name in the trade press for small industrial products - usually followed by the words 'was not present to pick up his award', of course - it left him free to spend his time by himself, indulging in his hobbies.
It may surprise you to learn that there is a certain amount of money involved in the small industrial products trade, and Michael Swannick had managed to accumulate a not-inconsiderable percentage of that money for himself. So much so, in fact, that one day he sat down and worked out that he had more than enough money to live in an extremely comfortable manner for the rest of his life, even if he managed to start breaking records and become the longest-lived person in the history of the planet. So, he decided there was no more need for him to go on inventing better ways to regulate and seal the flow of hot gases and liquids in industrial processes - besides, there was a new generation of inventors nipping at his heels, and he was already aware that he didn't understand their new way of looking at sealants - and he could instead devote his time to more hobbies.
As an only child, whose parents had both died while he was away at University learning his trade, Michael had never devoted much time to the question of family or where he had come from, particularly as his parents had not had much contact with their families after their marriage. In some families, this would no doubt indicate some grand passions on one or both sides, some evocation of Montague and Capulet feuding, or a love so bold and daring it allowed no competition from older familiar bonds. In the case of Mr and Mrs Swannick, it was merely because they were so dull, their families almost forgot that they existed, and when they did remember them when at times when it was customary to invite members of your family to come and visit, they persuaded themselves that they'd be going off to see the other side of the family.
Not that Mr and Mrs Swannick minded too much about this, as they were perfectly content in each other's company, watching their son perfect his skills at the technical drawing table he'd requested for his tenth birthday. In many ways, he had been his parents' perfect child, being notably undemanding of them in terms of affection, though occasionally showing the dangers of having a somewhat overactive imagination until they found a way to properly channel that into the invention of useful products for use around the home. Indeed, it was thanks to Michael taking apart the family sink and improving the rate of drainage in it by an estimated twelve percent - with a corresponding fifteen percent drop in the chance of blockages developing as a result - that he discovered his talent for regulating and improving flow processes in industrial piping.
But now, as a man of leisure, Michael decided it was time to look at where he had come from, and what his families' roots had been. Of course, with many people genealogy would be merely a part-time hobby, but Michael was able to devote day and night to it, tracing back familial lines through many generations. It was through this process, and the latent powers of imagination it woke within him, that Michael was able to prove to his own satisfaction that he was the rightful King of England.
The discovery was quite a simple one. Michael had reached an impasse while tracing back the Swannick line, but had noted a reference to someone in the family having 'returned from Europe' sometime in the early 19th century, around where the traces fizzled out. (This was, in fact, his several time great-uncle Albert Swannick, who, as chairman of the British Bonapartist League, had not wanted the true reasons for his sojourns on the continent known to history for fear that his shame and failure would stigmatise the whole line) For Michael, his long-subdued imagination now active again, this was a reference to the family having left to go abroad some time before, and only now deciding to return. He jumped back through the records, reading histories backwards while looking for mentions of Swannicks, going further and further back until he finally found the nugget of history he'd been looking for.
Harold Godwinson, the last true King of England before their line was usurped by the Norman conquerors and all the continental entanglements they brought with them had a common law wife. As was common for people from those early periods of history, who gave no thought to the trials of future historians in seeking consistency, she was known by several names, most of which centred around her long and shapely neck, given her the name Edith of the Swan Neck, or sometimes Edith Swanneck. She had been Harold's wife for twenty years, according to the proper traditions of the people of England, and had borne him several children. It was clear to Michael, as he delved deeper and deeper into histories of the period, that the English people had been done a great wrong in those days, and been denied a man who would truly have been a great King, had the Bastard of Normandy not cut him down on Senlac Hill.
Michael felt a great connection to this man as he read his story and was able to decide for himself on several facts that had eluded historians until that point. Most notably, the question of what had happened to the children Harold had with Edith, most of whom disappear into history at that point. It was clear to him that they, as the offspring of the rightful King and with a better claim to the throne than any Norman, would have been hunted down by the Bastard's men, and so the wise and clever Edith had smuggled them all to live abroad, gifting them the Swan Neck name as protection from those searching for descendants of the house of Godwin of Wessex. The Swan Neck name had clearly changed slightly over time, but those few in each generation who remembered their secret origin had kept it strong, waiting for the right time to return to Britain and claim their rights.
Unfortunately, while they had returned, the grateful nation hadn't recognised their rightful leaders, and so the Swannicks had forgotten their royal inheritance and instead settled into typical suburban lives, unaware how they were ruled over by Hanoverian pretenders to their real heritage. Careful study of the known Swannick lineage showed to Michael that he was the direct heir in the male line, and thus he should be recognised as the true King and the one who would finally overthrow the Norman shackles that had bound the English people for far too long.
He made his declaration in several places - letters to the Times and Sunday Times, notification to Buckingham Palace of their requirement to quit his rightful home, a small ad in Private Eye and many many letters to the local press, all of which remained unprinted - but found that no one appeared to take his claim with the same seriousness as he did. Indeed, when he called up his local newspaper to enquire as to why they didn't find it was news that a man currently resident in their area was actually the rightful King of the country, they laughed at him. Even when he carefully gathered together all his evidence and explained it patiently to the reported who finally let him into the office after Michael had camped outside it for several hours, it only generated a mocking article and picture in the paper, which in itself led to a visit from a mental health expert in the employ of the Hanoverians.
Aside from his delusion that he is the King of England, Michael is perfectly sane and competent. Indeed, his methods of investing and conserving his money suggest that he is likely to never be a burden on the taxpayer and as such, it would be counter-productive to our end of year budget to either admit him to a facility or investigate him further.
This, of course, was in the days before the internet, when one can be sure that Michael may have attracted a slightly larger collection of followers, on the grounds that certain people will ironically sign up to support anything. However, in the days before irony devoured the Earth, he didn't manage to generate much interest, with most of the replies to his Private Eye advertisement (he'd been informed that they criticised the establishment, so felt they would back him against the usurpers) assuming that it was a confusingly coded request for a panoply of sexual desires that, again, would be much better served when the internet was finally invented. Aside from that, the sole interest Michael managed to generate was a small article and photograph of him in the local paper on a particularly slow news day.
The interest of the paper did produce one benefit for Michael, in that it introduced him to his Queen. There's a category of people in the world who don't manage to come up with their own delusions, but feel somewhat dissatisfied with the nature of reality. So, they look around for other deluded people who have manage to come up with their explanations of what's wrong with the world and latch onto them. When a few of these people find each other, they can form a sect, a cult or a terrorist cell, when a few more get together and they find themselves buying real estate they tend to get known as a political party or a religion. However, when just one person finds the other who shares their delusion, it tends to get called a relationship, and sometimes a marriage.
And thus, Michael came to meet a woman who at that time was known as Sarah, though not long after meeting him she realised that her real name was actually Edith, just like his possible relative from long-ago. She'd been reading through the paper one day, in a desperate search for something to fill the gaping voids she felt were present at the centre of her life - ones that religion, yoga, weight-loss classes, the ramblers, the local history society and five different political parties amongst other organisations had failed to fill. When she chanced upon the picture of Michael looking stern (partly because he'd just had a big argument with the photographer about why he wasn't going to use the plastic crown and sword he'd brought with him to the shoot) she was immediately filled with what she thought was love at first sight. Luckily for her, future events only served to confirm that this belief of hers was right, and not just her feeling light-headed.
For Michael, it too was something akin to a whirlwind romance, though as he'd never had much resembling a romance in his life before, it was hard to judge the exact context of whether it was going too fast or too slowly. He found someone willing to indulge him in his beliefs and even adapt her own to suit them. Indeed, compared to many of the supposedly real Royal marriages that have happened, theirs was a beacon of light and hope, in which both of them loved, cherished and respected the other.
What Edith also brought with her was the idea that while Michael may not have been able to restore himself to his rightful position as the King of England, he also held that claim for his entire family and line of descendants. He had idly wondered how he was going to find an heir before meeting her, but always assumed that would sort itself out when he was seated upon the throne, even if it might mean him having to contact one of his cousins and inform them of their new duty to the kingdom. Edith, however, managed to make him realise that the odds were loaded against him recovering his throne, but if he were to have a son, that child - that Prince - could, using Michael's money, be inserted into the British establishment and work to bring it down from within and then reclaim his rightful place. This argument - and the fact that Michael was finding regal sex with his new wife to be much more enjoyable than any of the perfunctory encounters he'd had before - was the convincer for him, and before long, a new heir to the House of Godwin was born.
They marked this solemn occasion, one that they were sure would turn out to be a milestone in the history of England, by changing their names to match their new dynastic status. Swannick, they realised, had been merely the name the true heirs of the kingdom had been hidden under, and now they were back to claim their rightful place, they would take as a surname Godwin, the founder of the House of Wessex and father of the last true king. Their son, of course, could be given only one name, and thus Harold Godwin was brought into the world. The registrar who recorded the name showed no recognition of the importance of his role, and quite refused to include the title His Royal Highness on the birth certificate. Without realising it, he found himself the two hundred and fiftieth name to be added to Michael Godwin's list of people who would need to apologise for their borderline treasonous behaviour when he was restored to his throne.
Much more than most young heirs to major thrones, young Harry Godwin spent lots of time with his parents as he grew up. As neither of them had a need for work, they were both free to spend as much time with their young prince as possible, ensuring he was brought up to understand his role perfectly. While other children had simple books read to them, Harry's bedtime stories were usually found in the pages of Burke's Peerage or Debrett's, often followed by selected readings from histories both real and imagined that told the tale of the Godwin line and how he had come to be the hope of an entire nation for deliverance.
Naturally, the scion of the Godwins had to be properly raised within the establishment he was destined to bring down, and so they sent him to Eton as soon as possible. Very few people there noticed the importance of his name, as they were often far too dazzled by the range of knowledge exhibited by the five-year old polymath, with most ranking his fluency in Anglo-Saxon (his father was still debating whether that should be restored as the true language of the land) as his most remarkable talent. Naturally, he followed his parents' instructions and didn't reveal his true nature to any of his masters or fellow pupils, both of them having managed to pass on to him a share of the paranoia they now felt about their plan to bring down the establishment being discovered by Hanoverian agents. They had moved to Berkshire in order to be able to keep a close eye on the boy in case someone employed by the usurpers attempted to snatch him for a placement in the Tower - they were well aware of what the usurpers had done to their own inconvenient princes, let alone other people's - but had drummed into him the necessity of keeping secrets.
Save for the fact he was known to get quite angry in history lessons dealing with Britain in the Eleventh Century, Harry Godwin was regarded as a model pupil throughout his time at Eton, making many friends, particularly with those who would - by the inevitable nature of their family processes - end up in positions of power later in life. It was no surprise when he went from Eton to Oxford to study history and continue his networking activities while likely proceeding to a first-class degree and his pick of whatever jobs in whatever field he wanted after. Indeed, some were already talking of him as a potential Prime Minister after his first year at the University, though none knew that he had his sights set on a job above that one.
All the time, his parents watched on, getting older, but getting happier, knowing that their son would soon be able to restore them to the place they had expected. In the meantime, they were making more and more detailed plans for what would happen after their ascent to power, from their coronation, to the question of just who would be granted the various earldoms they planned to create once the old nobility had all been imprisoned for their allegiance to the usurpers. As they continued to draw up their regal utopia, they failed to notice the changes in their son, who had been introduced to many things in his time at Oxford, the most dangerous of which was a class in historical and genealogical research methods, normally reserved for postgraduates that he had been allowed to join because of his outstanding record.
He naturally wished to emulate his father, and so sought to recreate his father's research into their family's origins. However, while he had more intellectual rigour and wider knowledge than his father, he did not share his ingenuity and inventiveness. He was somewhat shocked when he was able to prove, without making any great leaps of faith, that the Swannicks were originally the Serwanczyks, a family of itinerant Polish barbers, who had absolutely no connection with English ruling families of the eleventh century.
Harry Godwin was faced with a dilemma - his entire existence was predicated on the idea of him being the heir to the throne of England, but the skills that existence had given him had allowed him to prove that was all based on a lie. However, he still remained placed within the heart of the British establishment, and with a proven ability to maintain a facade for years if necessary in order to succeed in a mission.
It was of course at this point that we recruited him. There had been some mutterings around the usual circuits about him as a youth, but most initial assessments had suggested he was destined for a life of paranoia and psychosis if he found out the truth about himself, or ridicule, humiliation and reality television if he didn't. What we hadn't accounted for was the strong sense of duty that his parents had instilled him from an early age, and his deep-seated desire to please them, even if he now knew that their royalty - like all the other kinds - was merely a delusion. Besides, where else was a genius polymath like Godwin going to find something that would keep him interested?
Of course, he has managed to find himself other employment, just because having something to do with his time is expected of an Englishman. So, after passing through MI5, the Home Office and being something unspecified in the City for a while, he now holds an undefined job which is recorded in the annals of the Government as 'Chief Policy Liaison Officer, Cabinet Office' though no one who works in that most mundane of departments has ever seen him. He normally spends his time in his club - yes, the one with no name to show just how exclusive it is - awaiting the call for an interesting job for us or something to kill the time from the British Government.
And I'm very sorry, old chap, but we're going to need him for this mission, and it's your job to get him on board. Don't worry, it's been a while since he's killed a recruiter, and your insurance is up to date.