2008 Fox Classics Writing Contest

Department of Classics
Monmouth College



Author: Nadia Pierrehumbert of Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois. Nadia is the student of Ms. Elizabeth Holding.











Name:  Hercules, Mark


Age:  23


Height:  5’ 11’’           Weight:  145 lb


Hair:  Black                Eyes:  Brown


History:  Hercules showed exceptional intelligence from an early age, especially with regards to creative problem-solving and innovative applications of everyday knowledge.  He graduated from the University of Chicago at the age of 21 with degrees in Physics and Chemistry.  The recent mysterious death of his girlfriend resulted in a trial in which he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  He comes to the Argo Foundation on the recommendation of Nora Delphine, who judges that he is currently in possession of his wits and has overcome his tendency towards violent temper. 



1.  North Korea.  Retrieve a data chip hidden in the Nemean monastery by Agent 233X.  Special instructions:  Take great care not to provoke armed conflict.


            I landed on the West coast of North Korea just north of the DMZ, having rowed there from South Korea.  I hid the rowboat and proceeded northeast on foot, avoiding the roads lest I be caught.  Three days later I arrived at the old Buddhist monastery near Nemea.

            The monks were cautious, but they let me into the monastery once I explained I was a student studying relics of Korea’s past.  They mentioned that a woman, whom I presumed to be 233X, had been there the week before, and that she had showed great interest in the gigantic statue of the Buddha that stands in the main atrium of the temple.

            I returned to the atrium late at night, figuring that the chip was hidden somewhere around the statue.  I checked the statue for cracks and secret compartments, but there weren’t any.  My metal detector found nothing.  Finally I noticed that the Buddha’s mouth was carved open, and thrusting my arm down inside I found the chip taped to the inside of the statue.

            The tape was really hard to get off.  First of all, my angle at it was terrible: I couldn’t see what I was doing, and the statue’s throat was only barely big enough to get my arm into.  I ultimately dislodged the chip by using wire from one of the Buddha’s earrings to form a hook.

            Eurystheus, I sure hope this chip is worth it and can end the hostilities threatening with North Korea, because it was nearly impossible to get.  Why couldn’t 233X have put it somewhere nice and accessible?


2.  Amazon Rain Forest, South America.  Shut down a major drug ring that produces cocaine in the central rain forest and traffics it east.


            I parachuted into the Amazon, and after a couple days of searching I found one band of them.  I insinuated myself among their ranks, and eventually we returned to their base camp, which was a couple of huts by a stream.  We ran patrols irregularly, and fairly often would run into similar groups.  My initial plan, which I began to implement, was to pick off the leaders as I got them alone, but it didn’t take too long for me to realize that new leaders would just spring up to replace the old ones.

            My next solution was to burn the boats that the traffickers used to ferry their cargoes

along the rivers.  This worked a lot better; boats are hard to replace, and since they were old and gasoline-powered it was easy to arrange “accidents”.  The refinery equipment was a little more sturdy, so I dismantled it and buried it in some nearby caves.

            After I finished, I took the one boat remaining and floated down the Amazon, avoiding the worst of the Jungle, until I reached the ocean, where I was picked up by the Brazilian navy.

            Incidentally, I found a plant whose sap seems to have severely toxic effects.  I’ve been putting the stuff of my bullets. I enclosed a sample; I recommend you send it to the lab for



3.  Apprehend Karen Hind, a Norwegian diplomat accused of selling classified information.


            I first tracked her down in Greece, but she eluded me.  From there she fled to Thrace, where she hid in the mountains.  She was spotted by a shepherd, but by the time I found out, she had continued on to Istria.  It was uncanny, how fast she was going, when you consider that she had to stay hidden from people.  Then she went even farther north, to Siberia, but apparently

broke her leg and had to stop.  She holed up in a small village in Siberia, which is where I found her.

            She couldn’t be moved yet, so I stayed in the Siberian village for a while.  We talked a lot, and some truths came out.  She is innocent of bartering information; she’s shown me enough evidence to convince me of that.  In reality, she made a choice during a treaty negotiation that was unpopular with the governments concerned.  I made a judgment call.  I informed Argo that I had found her, then arranged her escape when they came to take her away.  I will not apologize for

this decision.  I know I’m under your command, Eurystheus, but there are some things I won’t

do, and violating honor is one of them.


4.  Stabilize the region around volcanic Mt. Erymanthos before it explodes and kills everything.


            You know that the area around Mt. Erymanthos is an incredibly fertile region that’s rich

in all sorts of wildlife, or you wouldn’t have asked me to do this, you would have just evacuated the area.  Well, taming and capturing volcanoes is hard.  I hope you appreciate how hard.

            I’ll spare you the details – you wouldn’t understand the science anyway, Eurystheus –

but I essentially installed gigantic refrigeration units around the main “pipelines” of the volcano, where the lava flows.  I also constructed a ‘relief valve’ which channels the eruption far away from the essential region.  The refrigeration units cause the lava in the main volcano to solidify, so that any eruption happens in the nonessential region, where I have directed it.


5.  Devise a method of sequestering carbon dioxide emissions from private automobiles.


            I constructed a plant in Russia that fixes the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the form of calcium carbonate (that’s limestone).  Normally this is a very slow process, but I accelerated it using a process that involves mercury, which I obtained by diverting a nearby polluted river.  By using the large quantities of water, mercury, and solar energy, the plant creates calcium carbonate, which can be used for building, and draws carbon dioxide out of the air far faster than previous methods, thus slowing global warming, as well as purifying a severely polluted river.


6.  Stymphalia, Africa.  Halt a civil war.


            One faction in the war relies heavily on air raids from hidden bases.  Whenever these planes emerged, I catapulted at them substances which confused their navigation and targeting computers.  I bribed, cajoled, and threatened the two factions in the war until they agreed to meet and come to a resolution.


7.  Obtain the fruits of a broken contract between Minos and Poseidon.


            Minos gave me permission to take away the result of the broken contract, which had been burdening him and which he wished he has returned to Poseidon in the first place.  Poseidon didn’t want it any more either.  I was going to give it to my stepmother, but she refused, so I

just abandoned it.


8.  Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.  Round up a herd of rare and endangered Hippopotamuses for counting and conservation.


            Getting into the Congo was fairly easy, now that the war has officially stopped.  But the hippopotamuses were scattered all around the Virunga National Park, and no one was really paying attention to them – until we started rounding them up, that is.  I say we because I

brought some friends and hired some local youths to help me herd the water-horses.  Anyway, once we’d determined the boundaries of the hippopotamus habitat and started herding them all towards the center of it, the park warden – Diomedes – decided to finally show up, with a bunch

of thugs.

            Why he objected I’m not sure, since maintaining the animal populations is supposed to be his job.  Maybe he thought we were poachers.  Anyway, I got him to leave off the thugs, but he

still insisted on fighting me.  While we were about that I left young Will in charge of the herding.  He got too closed and got bitten and then trampled by one of the hippos.  Poor boy.  The hippos don’t look at all dangerous, but they really are.

            In the end, I defeated Diomedes when he himself fell afoul of a hippo.  I suppose that’s poetic justice, even if I helped the justice along a little.


9.  Obtain the linked belt of gold medallions currently in possession of Hippolyta, CEO of Amazon Research Corps.


            Eurystheus, don’t tell me this one wasn’t for your daughter.  Don’t tell me that a shiny

belt, even one that holds secrets, is going to promote global well-being.  Because everyone who knows about this mission knows it only happened because your daughter is jealous of


            It was easy, getting the girdle.  I arranged a meeting with Hippolyta through official channels, and you know something?  We fell in love.  Guess you weren’t expecting that.  She just gave me the girdle when I asked.  She said it belonged to an earlier time for her, when she was more superstitious and needed the luck it brought.  She didn’t care about it anymore.

            Even if she didn’t, though, some other people in her company did.  They attacked me, trying to get it back.  They thought I was taking advantage of Hippolyta.  I don’t know what

came over me, I went into a rage, nothing made sense, I thought Hippolyta had betrayed me.  I killed her.  I hate myself for it.  I hope you’re happy, your daughter has her precious pretty belt, and you’ve finally managed to screw up my life.


10.  Obtain a plant from South America that will solve world hunger.


            The hard part here wasn’t the plant itself, it was getting to it.  The only region it grows

 in, Erytheia, is inhabited by people of who are very protective of their privacy.  First I

 trespassed on someone’s land, and a dog attacked me.  I clubbed it in self-defense and it died.  Then came the dog’s owner with the same response and the same result.  Finally, as I approached the valley where the plant grows, I came upon a man who had taken it upon himself to guard and hoard it.  He was armed with a full arsenal, with so many weapons that he would have been comical if he were not terrifying.  I felled him with a sap-coated bullet from my first mission.

            Then I could obtain the plant.  It was hard to transport, because it was large, with rattling seed-pods that fall off all over the place and leak juice and oil.  I did, however, succeed in bringing them back to the Argo Foundation.


11.  Hesperides Islands.  Obtain a prototype Gaia Permanent Data-Storage Device, currently guarded by Atlas and daughters.


            Cruise ships don’t stop there, out in the Hesperides, and they certainly don’t have an airport.  I took a boat as close as I could and then got helicoptered.  They’re beautiful islands, a garden out in the middle of the ocean really.  There’s only one family living on the islands, a middle-aged guy named Atlas and his daughters.  The welcomed me – they don’t get many visitors, since they’re way out back of beyond.

            Atlas is an astronomer, and a good one; that’s why they live so far away from everything, so his telescopes aren’t bothered by light pollution.  He told me about the Device with which he was entrusted, how it was incredibly durable, could store gigantic amounts of data, and incorporated its own reader so it never became obsolete.  He kept the prototypes in a safe  somewhere; he wouldn’t tell me where, and he said he couldn’t go get them because he had to take data on the ascension of Jupiter.

            Well, I offered to take the data for him, and he accepted, so that night I sat down at the telescope with his notebook while he went off to wherever it is he kept the Gaia Devices.  He came back the next morning and told me how nice it was to be outside at night, not peering through a telescope lens, and he offered to deliver the prototype himself if I would keep taking data for him.

            One night by a telescope is enough for me.  I’m a physicist, not an astronomer.  I was supposed to be watching Venus at the moment, so I told Atlas I had to go to the restroom, asked him to take his own data for just that short time, grabbed a prototype, and scampered.


12.   Investigate a bank for criminal activity, while obtaining and studying their security system and records, dubbed Cerberus.


            I descended into the underground facilities of an independent bank in Switzerland.  They had incredibly high security, but I had the help of Charon, the gatekeeper.  The bank was suspected of being involved in a recent international money-laundering scheme, and they did not want it to look like they were involved in illegal activities, so they let me look at their records and security system.  They even let me bring Cerberus out for further analysis, although on that condition that I do it by myself; this was something of a trial, since Cerberus is large, heavy, and delicate.  The information involved in this mission also led me to the whereabouts of my cousin Theseus, who had been missing for some time.