| Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Story So Far | Pride |





October 5, 1987

[Aside: Scott]

After lunch we all headed down to the "living room," which Dawn had decorated with ribbons, streamers, and a big Happy Birthday sign. Cards, presents—including a long, narrow box postmarked Houston—and cake were arrayed on the pool table. Dawn actually chivvied all of us into singing "Happy Birthday," I still don't know how. Larry and Stephanie were there, still no sign of Felix, as well as Candi and Privateer, who had finished his case and seemed to be in no hurry to head back to Harborview. Seems to be a decent guy. Reminds me of Scott at moments.
    "Can we open presents now? Can we open presents now?" Phoenix Talon urged.
    "You didn't get a lot of birthdays when you were a kid, did you?" Scott observed.
    "Mom used to get me socks."
    There was in fact a card from Mrs. Astaverdia in the pile, letting her son know that she was proud of him and sorry that she couldn't come up for the day, and by the way here are some new socks, please throw away the old ones. Buddy had indeed sent up the new bokken, which has been somewhat redesigned, with an outer shell that can split and move aside to reveal a cutting edge. This will bear careful watching. It's not made of metal, though—some kind of high-tech plastic.
    "And Candi and I went out and we bought you some new clothes!" Dawn announced, somewhat flummoxing her father.
    "You just go everywhere in your uniform," Candi tried to explain, "and...."
    "Your old clothes suck, dad," Dawn summed up.
    I guess I'm not the only one, anyway. Stephanie got him the complete works of Akira Kurosawa on videotape, which seemed to please him. I'm not sure what he thought about the book on the history of the samurai; I'd tried to find one with lots of pictures.
    Stephanie went over to Paul. "Hi. You called back about the baseball game?"
    "Gillian told me I got a call, so... you're interested?" she asked.
    "Sure." Half the room could see the way her expression brightened instantly. "When is it?"
    "Saturday. Um, yeah, Saturday."
    The rest of us were discussing the Worcester Rooster and speculating on possible locations for this training center when Newton walked in and jumped up on the pool table, knocking over some of the birthday cards.
    "Mrr. Greetings, Revolution."
    The entire room swiveled to stare at the cat.
    "And listen well," it continued, then stated:
    The sphinx, like phoenix, is reborn,
    It is no longer safe, mute, uniforms.
    You will find me there.

    Phoenix Talon has the fastest reflexes. "I knew it!" He whipped out the new bokken and before my horrified eyes batted the cat across the room; it hit the wall with a crunching sound that was not of bone, however. Robotics sparked and died.
    Then the real Newton (I checked) wandered in to see what all the commotion was, much to my relief.
    "Phoenix Talon, please try not to overreact that way around my cat," I warned him when my heart had resumed beating.
    "The cat was talking!"
    "And? Is this the weirdest thing that's happened to you this week? No."
    "Candi, Dawn, have you considered putting him on a decaf diet?" Scott inquired, threading a 'pod through the crowd to take a look at what was left of the robotic cat.
    "We could find the cat hunching over a corpse with exact Newton-claw-shaped scars all over it, and you'd all make up an excuse for it," Talon sulked. I'm seriously starting to wonder if I should find a new home for him (the cat, that is, since I'd probably have no luck finding a taker for Talon). The rest of us were gathered around the robotic husk, which quickly caught fire and burned away.
    "Scott, do we have any record of anybody pulling this kind of stunt?" I asked.
    "Let's see, a robotic cat walks into the room, recites a riddle," Larry mused. "Hm. We might have to look some things up."
    "I have an idea, but it might take some research," Scott agreed sarcastically.
    "Okay, so I overlook the obvious on a regular basis," I sighed. "Sue me." Sometimes it's so obvious it doesn't seem likely at all.
    "Assuming, of course, that he's not being set up," Scott added conscientiously. "It's not an overwhelmingly complicated motif. I don't actually ever remember him using robotics."
    "He did, on occasion," Larry replied, prodding at the remains. "Still, this was a very sophisticated piece of work... did anyone catch the whole riddle?"
    Scott repeated it for us, and we all sat around pondering, the party clearly at an end.
    "You've never been brought back from the dead?" Privateer asked Talon, who shook his head.
    "Dawn has, she's kind of a phoenix...."
    "He said phoenix, not 'the phoenix,'" Scott mused. "Unless he's going for an insurance company...."
    "It could just be because it's his birthday. He's choosing today to return, if it is him," Larry put in. "The last line I think we can discard, it's merely the instruction."
    "It's the mute uniforms that are puzzling," I said.
    "Safe mute uniforms."
    "No longer safe, mute uniforms," Scott repeated.

| Top | Previous Page Next Page


© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson