Spacer Ants & Rainstorms 220
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Fabulous summer fun crossover with the Detroit Warriors!



August 1, 1987

The newspapers were full of the "Curse of the Bambino," and how we had saved the people at Fenway before the cops dropped the ball. Our visitor had left a card in the car saying, "End of first inning: Babe 1, Revolution 0."
    "That's not fair," Talon complained. "The cops did not hold up their end on this. Well, we'll get the bastard."
    I wasn't going to worry about him overmuch. Instead, I spent an extremely pleasant morning poking around Sleipnir. It kind of stood out among the sea of towed cars: a big, black eighteen-wheeler with a boot on one solid rubber wheel, for whatever good that was going to do. Inert, thank goodness. A chubby cop with a donut in one hand and a clipboard in the other let me in and gave me the keys after I promised not to drive it anywhere. I was actually a bit startled that it had keys.
    I climbed up into the cab for a look around, feeling even smaller than usual. Nice and roomy, anyway. Plenty of space for henchmen. I looked at the keys, put them in my pocket in firm resistance to temptation. We don't know where Odin is; for all we know, it will only respond to him, or try to return to him, or something. I just wanted to get an idea of how the thing worked; you never know. And it's been a long time since I did any conventional flying. Maybe I should give the guys in Rhode Island a call, see if they'd mind a visit. Assuming we eventually stop being up to our ears in henchmen nonsense.
    The dash has some ultra-advanced contextual display; touch-sensitive controls shift depending on whether you're driving, flying, or moving underwater, and the wheel has the extra range of motion to control in three dimensions. The targeting interface is beautifully designed....
    I admit it, I want the thing. It's not exactly aerodynamic, but it's so neat.
    I popped the hood, poked around for weak spots in the design. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any. There are at least three segmented power systems, so knocking any one out won't stop the thing, and from Scott's experience we know it's not terribly easy to get through to even one of them. I found myself wondering if we could hire the man. New Horizons could make him wealthy.
    Of course, then he wouldn't get a chance to be god. The computer looks impressive, from the little I know of the subject. The jets are designed on a model I've never seen before, and I'm still not sure about the power source. I left the impound yard with renewed respect for Odin; he might be insane, but he's damn talented.
    A pleasant if somewhat grease-stained morning. Mechanical complexities I don't mind; they're a lot easier than the human ones.

[Aside: Phoenix Talon]

    "...can't we have a full tour?" It was a strange voice, but the general sound of it was well-known.
    "Didn't you take one last time when you broke in and trashed the place?" I remarked acidly, entering the room to see Phoenix Talon applying a bandage to one of his cadre.
    "What?" He tried to look innocent as I glared.
    "Nice meetin' ya Needle," one of the boys said brightly, looking for an escape route. Smart kid. The three of them edged out of the room as I cornered my teammate.
    "Phoenix Talon, I realize what you're trying to do here, and I think it's a good idea, but do me a favor and don't bring those little assholes back here."
    "What, they did good today!"
    "I don't want them in the base." Not until we see some concrete sign that they really have changed their ways, anyway.
    "Okay, okay. Whatever," he muttered.
    "Could you bring the Bactine with you, sensei?" one of them called from outside, having just introduced himself to Newton. "Nasty cat."
    "Yes, yes it is," Talon agreed.
    "It's a perfectly nice cat," I retorted. For one thing, it has good taste in humans.

[Aside: Alley Cats]

[Aside: Phoenix Talon]

August 4, 1987

This kabuki thing seems to be pretty popular; I heard the show is sold out. We have six tickets, so I asked Dawn if she wanted to come.
    "Sure. I wonder whether Rick would like it," she mused. "Probably not. Oh, I know who! Do you have enough tickets for me to invite somebody?"
    "Well, Phoenix doesn't want to come, so we have an extra," I shrugged, a bit relieved that she wasn't going to be inflicting her new boyfriend's presence on the rest of us. Oh, all right, I'm probably being too hard on the kid, but really. I'm surprised Phoenix Talon is letting her see him, after all the crap they've pulled.
    "Yeah, dad went to a show once in Japan. I had to keep nudging him in the ribs, he was snoring. I don't think he quite 'got it.'"
    "That doesn't surprise me at all."
    "After we left he rented four anime videos and watched Fist of the North Star four times."
    "He does the same thing whenever I try to get him to watch a real movie," I commiserated. "So who were you thinking about bringing?"
    "Do we have enough tickets?" she hesitated.
    "Yes," I repeated. "Spit it out, girl."
    She picked up the phone instead. "Yes, hi? Mr. Oliver's room, please. Hi, Larry, it's Dawn. Yeah, I was just wondering, we just got some tickets to a kabuki show, and there's some spares, I was just—you would? That'd be great. It's the fourteenth. You don't have a show that night? Wonderful. I'll meet you there." She hung up. "It's all right for Larry to come, right?"
    "Of course." If she hadn't invited him I probably would have.
    "He's such a nice old man."
    I'm not at all sure that he is, but I didn't say anything.
    "I suppose I will go," Albert decided upon being asked, his lips pursed skeptically. "See what it's like." He's been even more absent than usual lately.

[Aside: Various]

August 6, 1987

This morning I went ahead and did it. If everything works the way it did before, it'll take a few weeks for the changes to propogate out to where I might notice something. That's if it works at all, of course. If it does, the possibilities become just a bit dizzying.... Wait and see, I suppose.
    Tonight was poker night with the Veterans' Club in the back room at the Secret Hideout. Phoenix Talon was off patrolling, but the rest of us showed up. Thunderbolt seems to enjoy their company, and I've been trying to follow Trent's advice and get out more, although I'm still not sure what the point is supposed to be. The Club members are undemanding companions, more than willing to do most of the talking, and they have endless stories.
    We cut cards to see who dealt: Molly. Now there's a surprise.
    "Five-card draw, twos are wild. How's everybody doing?" She dealt swiftly.
    "Fine, yourself?" Scott replied politely.
    "Oh, keeping busy as an old retired lady," she sighed. "And you, young lady, anything on the dating scene yet?"
    I realized that as the only other female in the room she had to be talking to me, and gave her the blankest look yet recorded in human history.
    "You just seem so lonely," she remarked blithely.
    "Are you planning on making a project out of her?" Felix inquired, his own expression suggesting that he suspected early senility on her part.
    "Well, Scott suggested it...."
    I finally took a sip of iced tea to quell the coughing fit I seemed to be experiencing. Stevie slapped me on the back. "Everything is fine, really. Thank you for asking. Twos are wild, huh?" I looked at my cards. Horrible hand.
    "So how are things at the office, boys?" she moved on, much to my relief.
    "Well, I haven't been there—as you know, I am on the road," Larry proclaimed grandly.
    "Yes, yes, yes, yes," she waved dismissively.
    "You're supposed to be a patron of the arts, Molly," he reproved.
    "That's why I don't go to your shows," was the tart reply.
    "Should I be ducking?" I asked Felix quietly.
    "No, no, she just starts to snipe at people when she's got a good hand," he told me, arranging his own cards slowly.
    "So, tell us all about yourself," she moved on to Paul, the newcomer.
    "I can't," he told her with a regretful smile.
    "You're a man with secrets?" she asked archly.
    "Yes, he's a man with secrets. I've looked at his files. Very redacted," Felix noted.
    "And that stopped you?"
    The Sphinx gave her a forbearing look. "No, don't be foolish, but I'm not supposed to go into too much detail about it."
    Stevie look at his hand. "Fold."
    "I've got a question for you guys," Scott began. "I was looking for somebody in this law firm that I thought might have been in the Game back when you guys were major players. I can't find him. Or her. Or maybe it," he added conscientiously. "But in any case. I'm wondering, was there anybody who nobody ever saw but they were all sure was there? Kind of like the Colonel is most of the time."

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson