Roux Reveals . . .

Midnight; in vehicle, en route to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, where Agent Jesus (“Zeus”) Hernandez will depart for Paris, France; commencing the job that will become Jigsaw, A Black Raven Novel.

{Interview by Roux Barcelona, Papillon, AP Field Correspondent}

Roux: Hello, Agent Hernandez. I’m Roux Barcelona. I appreciate you talking to me despite the urgency of your trip. Can we get started?

Zeus: A dog?! Seriously? I was expecting Anderson Cooper.

Roux: Anderson’s already in Paris, covering the International Terrorism Tribunal proceedings. Rest assured, Agent Hernandez, I’m equally capable of conducting an interview, even in a fast-moving car.

Zeus: Sorry, Roux. I’ve never been interviewed by a dog. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen a dog with such big ears, let alone one that talks. You look like a —

Roux: If you say I look like a gremlin, I’ll bite you.

Zeus: No need to get defensive, Roux.

Roux: I’ve been told my ears look like the wings of a beautiful butterfly.

Zeus: You know . . . they do. My daughter would absolutely love to meet you. Would you like to go to Miami? Or do you happen to have a sister that I could bring home for Ana?

Roux: Agent Hernandez, this is your interview, not mine.

Zeus: Call me Zeus. And you’re absolutely right, Roux. Let’s get this going. My flight leaves in fifteen minutes. Ask me anything. I’ll do my best to answer.

Roux: Are you always this serious?

Zeus: Yes.

Roux: If I wag my tail, will you smile?

Zeus: Doubt it, but you can give it a shot. Too many serious things happening right now. And I do have a plane firing up the engines . . .

Roux: (Wags tail)

Zeus: (Smiles). Okay, that curly tail is really cute.

Roux: Author Stella Barcelona’s Facebook friend Teresa P. asks, ‘How did you become a partner with Black Raven Private Security Contractors?’

Zeus: I owned a private security contracting firm that I merged with some of my competitors. We became Black Raven.

Roux: Facebook friend Pam. T. asks, ‘What is your specialty?’

Zeus: I’m a behind the scenes troubleshooter for high profile jobs. I’m also a negotiator with governmental agencies when Black Raven’s expertise is required for mission objectives.

Roux: Yet rumor has it that your imminent departure to Paris is for the job of providing bodyguard protection to the Amicus Curiae team of lawyers at the International Terrorism Tribunal. Is that correct?

Zeus: I can’t confirm the specifics.

Roux: Let’s just assume I’ve guessed correctly. Isn’t a bodyguard role below your level of expertise?

Zeus:  No role is too small when the world’s at stake.

Roux: And not when the pay is high enough, correct?

Zeus: (Shrugs) Your words. Not mine.

Roux: Well, Black Raven is a mercenary firm, correct?

Zeus: Absolutely.

Roux: Meaning you have to be paid for your work, and Black Raven’s hourly fees are astronomical, correct?

Zeus: And we’re worth every penny. Speaking of time, we’ve arrived at the airport. You have six minutes before I board my jet.

Roux: Rumor also has it that Black Raven has negotiated a special deal with the American government to provide cyber expertise to catch Maximov, the mastermind terrorist whose organization is on trial in the current setting of the tribunal?

Zeus: I can’t confirm that rumor at this time. I will say, though, that you’re very well informed.

Roux: Is Mr. Barrows designing a program that will analyze worldwide terrorist activities? Much like Mr. Barrows’ Shadow program, but with a more specific focus?

Zeus: I can’t confirm or deny the existence of such a program at this time, Roux. And it might be best if you move on from the tribunal proceedings, our involvement on site in Paris, and our cyber involvement in the search for Maximov. All of these subjects are top secret.

Roux: I’ll move on to less sensitive questions. How many people does Black Raven employ?

Zeus: That’s proprietary. Five minutes.

Roux: Is it hundreds, or thousands?

Zeus: I’m not going to answer that. No matter how much you look at me with those beautiful dark eyes.

Roux: Are you flirting with me, Agent Hern- Zeus? Ah, I see by your expression that flirting isn’t in your skill set.

Zeus: Four minutes.

Roux: This question is from Facebook friend Dude, Tina H.’s pet cat—

Zeus: Wait. Let me get this straight. I’m being interviewed by a fluffy little dog with hairy ears, asking me a question submitted by a cat on Facebook?

Roux: True, I don’t usually accept questions from cats, but this one is interesting. Do you have an issue with cat questions?

Zeus: (Sighs; Glances at watch). Of course not. See the jet about to taxi down the runway? I should be on it in . . . three minutes.

Roux: Dude would like to know, ‘what is your position on the use of animals in high risk situations?’

Zeus: If the animal and the handler are both trained properly, and protective measures are employed, I’m in favor of it.

Roux: Dude also wants to know, ‘Which animal do you most identify with?’

Zeus: Easy. A lone wolf. In a desolate mountain range. At night.

Roux: (Shakes; Draws a deep breath) Facebook friend Annette B. asks, ‘Where are you from?’

Zeus: Miami, Florida. Born, raised, and it’s my current home base. Is Annette a cat, too?

Roux: Not that I’m aware of. Emily H. wants to know, ‘How old is your daughter, Ana?’

Zeus: Six.

Roux: Emily C-N. asks, ‘How can you function with that voice in your head all the time?’

Zeus: What voice?

Roux: She’s referring to the mic system the agents use.

Zeus. Using the Black Raven mic system is a learned skill. We practice. It’s part of our training program.

Roux: Amy H. wants to know, ‘Do you even sleep with the mic in your ear?’

Zeus: On some jobs.

Roux: Mike P. wants to know, ‘How do you feel about gun control laws?’

Zeus: The answer to that is complicated. In a nutshell, as long as criminals have guns, so will Black Raven. We’ll match thugs and terrorists, weapon for weapon. And then some. Rest assured, we employ considerable brainpower behind every tactical decision involving weapons.

Roux: Yvonne F. wants to know, ‘how do you deal with the challenge of a dangerous career and raising a child?’

Zeus: It takes juggling, but I manage. I keep Ana insulated from the reality of the dangerous world of Black Raven.

Roux: Author Stella Barcelona has an exclusive on covering the International Terrorism Tribunal proceedings from the Black Raven point of view. Will you be communicating with her throughout the proceeding?

Zeus: Stella tends to know things even before I do, so the answer, Roux, is yes. Without doubt. She’ll be covering the tribunal events as they unfold.

Roux: All the events, Zeus?

Zeus: Wow. Did you just do an eyebrow arch? You’re a tenacious little thing, aren’t you? Just what are you implying?

Roux: Rumor has it that you were once romantically involved with Samantha Dixon Fairfax, the lead lawyer for the United States Amicus team. Will Stella Barcelona also be privy to developments in that regard?

Zeus: You’ll have to read what Stella writes to find the answer to the question.

Roux: You are planning on being Samantha’s personal bodyguard, aren’t you?

Zeus: Yes.

Roux: Does Samantha know that you’re on your way to Paris?

Zeus: I certainly haven’t told her.

Roux: Are you anticipating that Samantha will be happy to see you upon arrival in Paris?

Zeus: I highly doubt it. And I will not answer another question regarding Sam.

Roux: Just one more thing, Zeus.

Zeus: No time. Take care, Roux. World’s a dangerous place. Call us if you ever need us. You know how to find me.

As Zeus shuts the door, Roux sighs, sits back, and tells the driver, “Wait. I want to see the jet take off.”

Read more about Black Raven, Zeus, Samantha, Ana, and the International Terrorism Tribunal proceedings in Jigsaw, A Black Raven Novel. Reach out to Roux by commenting here or on Stella Barcelona’s Facebook page. Feel free to pose a question to Zeus or request an interview of other characters in Stella Barcelona’s novels.

As always, thank you for stopping by!

With love, Stella