Doc Tesseract

The adventures of Greg Silverman, retail industry employee, prospective college student and superhero.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

You Mean There's Something Outside of the House?

I finally went back outside today. Went down to the mall, walked about, stayed as far away from Electromat as I could. I'm finally well, which means I have to go back to work tomorrow. I'm just saying, after taking three weeks off for vacation, and two weeks off for being charbroiled, I'm really beginning to wonder why I took this freaking job.

It's a shame I can't go into Philly tonight. While my parents aren't stopping me from heroing, they want me to at least go to work before I fight crime. I'm a little disappointed, but hey, at least I can.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Weekend is Go

I just got off the phone with Will. His parents said yes. So, the NYC weekend is all put together. Yay.

Now, here's hoping Zulfikar remembers me...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ah, Lucidity, I Missed You

I just got out of my coma from the last of Quint's knockout pills. Now I've just gotta get some bedrest for the next few days, and I'll be ready to hit the streets again on Monday.

Oh, and while I was out, Reed called. He said that, after much begging and haggling, he finally got his parents to agree to the trip. Now I just have to wait and see what Will's folks say.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dragon Attack!, Part 4: The Thrilling Conclusion

Finally, the conclusion. And just as I'm almost off this pill regimen, too.

So, Lady Liberty, Quint, Punch, Judy, and I can only watch helplessly while this dragon stretches out like a tapeworm and shoots flames. After it's finally extracted itself entirely from the pharmacy, it's probably 60 feet long, and still. growing.

"You got a plan?" I ask Quint.

"Not much of one," he says. "Hopefully, I can crack the enchantments placed on the dragon by working backwards, but it's going to take some time."

"Consider us the diversion," Lady Liberty says. She turns to us. "Ladies, gentlemen, automatons. There is a giant dragon, in the depths of a mystical 'roid rage, with a hankering for barbecue. Right now, we are this city's best hope. This will be challenging. There is a good chance we could die. But, if we keep it cool and put our heads together, we could possibly reduce this lizard to a greasy smear. Now, who's with me?"

Not exactly St. Crispin's, but it'll do. "I'm in," I say. Everyone else agrees or gives some other sign of consent.

"Very well," she says. "Now, here's what we do: Quint, you study the dragon. Talon, Judy, Pulse, I want you in the air, distracting it. Can you fly, Judy?"

"Yeah," she says. "I've been practicing a little."

"Good. Doc, I want you to see what you can do to get rid of this thing. You handled Azazel well; maybe this guy will get lost just as easily. Punch, Silver, I want you guys on the ground, distracting it with fire. Punch, you have any on-board weapons systems?"

"Not really," says Punch, "but I think throwing cars at it will suffice."

"Normally, I'd frown down on such flagrant property violation, but seeing as it's him or the city as a whole, I think a few drivers will just have to put up with it. Okay, people; let's send this lizard back to the time of the dinosaurs."

And with that, we split up. Judy, Talon, and Pulse take to the air, with Quint following behind.

Listen up, everyone, I hear in my head. Judy. We're on telepathic frequency only. You've got a plan, a question, anything, just think it. No reason to give this thing any more of an advantage than it already has. Speaking of which: Doc, if you could get this over with as soon as possible, that'd be a plus.

I can see why I agreed to that date. I port up onto a nearby roof, getting a good look at the dragon. It'd actually be pretty beautiful, if it weren't a giant homicidal flamethrower: golden scales, long silver whiskers, and claws that look like polished ivory. I'm a little distracted by the beauty, then remember the main reason I'm there.

Okay, then, I think. This dragon's got some mojo behind it, but let's see how well it handles a vacuum. Once I'm sure I've got a clear shot, and the others are far away, I volley off a portal beam that'll turn the dragon into a satellite. Or, at least, would; the beam just hits its side, and... blinks out of existence.

Damnit! It didn't work! Quint, any suggestions?

Well, you were all over the news after sending Azazel packing, he replies. Maybe Wu bought a little extra insurance.

Great; of all the sigils that had to be destroyed, it couldn't be the one that made sure this would be over in a matter of seconds. While I watch, Talon throws a few daggers at the dragon; some find a little slip between the scales, but it's like pricking a whale with a sewing needle. Judy's launching off a few telekinetic volleys of her own, if the dragon's bouncing is any indicator. Then Pulse gets this idea: he flies up onto the dragon's head while it's distracted, lands, then starts buffetting its head with sound waves. The thing keeps thrashing about, and Pulse is able to hold steady-- until the dragon manages to bring its tail up over its head and hit Pulse. As he goes flying through the air, the dragon turns and opens its jaws. He's gonna roast him!

I hear everyone's voices inside my head. Without even thinking, I port to a building within Pulse's current trajectory, turn up, and hit him with a beam that'll bring him to street level. He goes through, just as the dragon's flame is about to hit him.

I got him! I yell. Pulse is safe! And I'm--

...right... in front of... an angry dragon...


The dragon's turned its sights on me now. All I can do is just stand there, rooted to the spot.

Doc! Get out of there, now! I hear Lady Liberty yell. But I can't do anything; I'm rooted to the spot. I feel like... I feel like I'm not worthy of this thing... that I've denied it what it rightfully deserved, and I'm less than dirt for doing so. It opens its jaws, and sends a stream of flame my way... maybe this will make up for all that I've done to it...

Greg!

Judy's voice snaps me out of it, and I teleport to the relative safety of another roof some four blocks down. When I get there, I feel a searing pain in my left arm. I turn to look, and my arm's on fire.

Damnit! I'm hit! I yell out. I try to stay upright, but you try maintaining a vertical posture when something just lit you on fire. I fall to the ground, and I feel myself fading out of consciousness.

Doc, stay there! We're coming to get you! I feel someone floating above me, and then the pain gets worse... and then I black out.

***

When I wake up again, I'm in someone's bed. I feel... God, I feel naked. Crap, I don't have my mask on!

I sit up quickly-- and my arm responds by saying, Oh, no, you don't. Very forcefully. I lie back down, trying to recover from the pain. While praying for the agony to go away, I notice I'm in my bedroom. Mom and Dad are sitting by my bedside, and Punch, Judy, and Quint are all standing around.

"Greg, you're awake," Mom says. She gingerly hugs me. "You've been out for a day. I was afraid you wouldn't wake up."

"The dragon... did we...?" I ask.

"It's gone," Quint says. "After you were burned, I was able to retrieve a sample of its flame. I was able to crack the enchantment that gave it its fiery breath. With its primary weapon disabled, the rest was easy."

"So, what happened?" I ask.

"You were struck with magical flame. Fortunately, the flame was interrupted when you teleported; had you received the full brunt of it, your arm would have been reduced to ash. Unfortunately, magical burns take longer to heal than mundane burns, and require a far different cure." He produces a jar and a small medicine bottle from his bag. "This jar has an ointment that will seal up the burn in a matter of days. As for the flame's... 'side effects', these pills should keep them in check."

"So," I say, "you saved Philly."

"No, Greg," Judy says. "We saved Philly."

And then she kisses me. Sure, it's just a friendly peck on the cheek, but it's the perfect cap for everything.

After a brief talk about everything else (the mystics got away safely, and apparently, Wen Ng is looking into hiring some magical protection), Punch, Judy, and Quint file out. Mom and Dad make sure everything is all right; they bring me dinner on a tray, then stay and talk to me about everything. Later that night, Will and Reed come over.

"We heard you got burned grilling," Reed says. "We just wanted to wish you well."

We talk about stuff. Mainly, about how we haven't really done anything together since we tore Revenge of the Sith a new one.

"Hey, listen, guys," I say, "I want to make it up to you. We're going out on our own once the summer's over; Will, you're going to UCLA, and Reed, you're heading for Haverford. Why don't we just go wild at the end of August? How's a trip to New York sound?"

"Well, what'll we do?" Will asks. "I mean, yeah, we've been working, but what can we do in New York that we can't do here? Besides pay good money for a roof over our heads, that is."

"What would you say if I told you I could get you into the VIP room at one of New York's hottest nightclubs?"

"Bullshit," Will and Reed say, almost in unison.

"I'm telling you, I can do it."

"What, have you been avoiding us because you've been so busy pushing drugs?" Reed jokes.

"Not exactly," I say. So, by the end of the night, we've come to an agreement: we'll strike out for NYC on the 25th, spend the weekend there, see some sights, and party the night away at Zulfikar's place.

See? This business does have its perks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And Now, A Brief Interlude

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday. Quint's pills left me in bat country all day long.

So, today, something arrived in the mail: my new costume. Obviously, I can't use my old one, because it got kinda charbroiled. Came with a nice little note, too: "Fireproofed this time. Francesco."

Unfortunately, this has led to greater complications: my parents. We didn't talk about things after the attack; they just gave me the usual parental unconditional love, with me being able to eat what I want and renting a bunch of movies for me to pass the time with while I recover. Now that the costume's come, however, they really can't avoid the whole superhero thing.

"Greg, we're just concerned about your safety," Dad said.

"I know."

"We agreed, before you started this: if you were seriously injured, you would stop."

"I know."

"And you've been laid up for a week with an injury that's being treated through Magic Hoodoo Pills. I'd say that's seriously injured."

"I think I may have had a different definition of 'seriously injured'."

"Well, what would that be?"

"...coma."

After that, Dad had to go lie down, so Mom came in to talk.

"Greg, honey, listen to me. You've got your whole life ahead of you. Can't you just take a break from superheroing for a while?"

"Define 'a while'."

"Well, until after you finish college, of course."

"After college!"

"Greg, we're just... well, we're a little afraid. I mean, we're glad you're devoting your time to a good cause, but we'd like it if you did something... less potentially lethal."

"Look, Mom. I'm sorry about what happened, but can't you give me another chance?"

"Greg. This isn't 'Little Bunny Foo-Foo', and I'm not the fairy. I'm just trying to watch out for you."

At this point, Dad came back in the room.

"Son, it's just... if something happened to you out there-- I mean, something worse-- we could never forgive ourselves."

"You wouldn't have to. Look, if anything happens to me, it's my fault. Mine. I wasn't being careful enough, or--"

"Greg, please! You were attacked by a dragon, you're taking pain pills that make you nonsensical for about 8 hours a day-- and you honestly aren't thinking about what else could happen to you?"

"Of course I am. It's just..." And here comes the bombshell. "Look. Remember how I told you I think my powers were related to my blackout?" They nod. "Well, I've been having dreams for the past few months. And in them, the girl who I think gave me the whammy is talking to me." Long pause. "She told me... she told me that I was chosen for a reason."

Another pause. "And what reason is that?" Mom said, somewhat weakly.

"...I don't know yet. I'm getting bits and pieces of it as is. But the thing is, I don't think I can give up. Not yet. There's just... look, you said you'd been following me. Didn't you see me when I banished that demon? Or took care of the giant robot? Or saved Philly from glowing green? I've been doing a lot of good things, guys. I've been helping the world. And I don't want to stop. Not yet, at least." Pause. "Look, I'll wait until I'm fully recovered to go heroing again. I'll lessen my patrols for the rest of the summer, and only do it every other night when I'm in college. I just don't want to stop yet. Please?"

They looked into each other's eyes, the parental mind meld in process. They walked out of the room for a little bit. I heard whispers, but nothing I can make out. Finally, they came back in, and Mom said, "Okay. You can start heroing again after you're completely recovered. But if you get hurt again, you have to stop heroing for at least two months. All right?"

Well, at least I'm still on the street. "Good," I said. "And thanks."

Mom reached over and hugged me. "We just want you to be safe," she said.

So, I'm still heroing. That's cool. And tomorrow, the thrilling conclusion!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dragon Attack!, Part 3: Homeopathic Dragon Hatchings

Hey. I'm sorry I'm not posting so frequently, but Quint gave me some "special" pills, because, according to him, magical fire inflicts different wounds than good old normal fire. The interesting side effect is that I feel like the drugged-out bastard lovechild of Hunter S. Thompson and Timothy Leary for twelve hours a day. I only have a few good hours of lucidity, and I've just come upon my daily dosage of normality.

So, I port Quint, Punch, Judy and myself into the middle of Chinatown. Quint's putting out the call to everyone else in Philly regarding what's about to go down, while Judy uses her mental compass to find where Maria got dragged. We end up outside a pharmacy dealing in natural remedies.

"Why is it that showdowns with organized crime groups always take place in the most stereotyped businesses of the related ethnicity?" I ask.

"In this case, it makes sense," Quint says. "The man who runs this pharmacy is an expert in the focus and manipulation of chi. Let's go."

"I'm just saying, we're one step away from a showdown in a laundromat," I say to no one as we burst in through the door. We can safely say that there is no dragon-summoning mojo going down in the aisles. At that moment, the owner walks in.

"Hello, how may I--?" Then he notices the fact that we're dressed for Halloween. He quickly starts moving his hands about in the air and chanting in Chinese, and I start feeling like I just ate bad Thai laced with anthrax. I notice Judy is sweating similarly, and even Punch is just standing there, like he's not really focused on moving himself. I try hard not to lose my lunch when, suddenly, I hear a sound like someone hitting a steak with a baseball bat, and the Stomachache from Hell subsides. I look up, and see that Mr. Ancient Chinese Secret has been knocked out, and Lady Liberty is standing over him.

"I was in the area for lunch," she says by way of explanation. "Talon and Pulse are on the way here. Silver's gonna be watching for backup; you said 'dragon', and I don't think he's keen on being melted down for scrap."

"Very well," Quint says in reply. He turns to us all. "Who wants to save the day?"

And so, we end up charging up the stairs. Quint yells, "Rana!" and takes the door out with a firebolt, because he can never knock. Suddenly, a John Woo scene broke out, with bullets streaming through the empty frame. Punch quickly takes the lead, while Quint takes the time to create pockets of turbulence that will (hopefully) divert the bullets around the rest of us. After taking that necessary precaution, we charge in.

The room's done up in red, with writings in Mandarin in gold paint on the walls. Some people who I presume are the four mystics are chained around something that looks like the biggest oblong pearl in existence, which I surmise to probably be the dragon egg. They're all chanting loudly, trying to avoid the gunfire and, more pointedly, the guys who are pointing guns at their heads. At the other end of the room, a guy's wearing a white suit and firing off an AK-47, screaming, "Don't let them stop the ritual!"

Wu.

I know there's no way I can teleport the mystics away without at least one of them dying horribly; I'm quick, but these guys are probably quicker. I settle for porting some of the bad guys to the local precinct; of course, I port their firearms away before doing it. I don't want anyone else getting killed.

It's at this moment that I hear a slowly rising sound, like walnuts getting trod on by horses. I turn around, and I see cracks forming in the egg. It's also at this very moment that Wu decides to take aim at me and fire off a couple of rounds. I'm quicker, though; I teleport behind Punch--

--who the rounds deflect off of--

--and watch as they go through one of the signs on the wall. Wu gets a look on his face like a kid who's just been told Santa is really John Wayne Gacy in disguise.

"I take it that wasn't a good thing?" I ask Quint weakly.

"The bullet's just burst through one of the sigils meant to influence the dragon," he says back, just as weakly.

"Uh... mind telling us which one?" Punch asks.

There's a sickening pause, during which I can only hear the egg cracking at a rapidly increasing rate. "Control," Quint answers.

Then the dragon bursts forth. It's about ten feet long already, and that's just for beginners. It's got golden scales, claws that look like they could Ginsu titanium, and the eyes... I'd rather not talk about the eyes. And the first thing this quickly growing dragon does is turn on Wu.

"Good dragon?" is the only thing Wu can say.

Then it bites his head off.

"Run!" yells Quint. The guards run for their lives; I take the opportunity to port the mystics to (relative) safety, then port the others out onto the street.

Which gives us about two seconds in down time. Because we turn around, and the dragon's head just erupts out of the roof of the pharmacy. As if to say, "But wait, fuckers, there's more!", he lets out a torrent of flame, then takes flight. How, I don't know; probably mystic fucking mojo, because he doesn't have any wings. At this point, he's about thirty feet long, and he's still. getting. bigger.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat," says Lady Liberty.

I'd like to finish this story, but it's time for the Happy Funtime Dementia Pills. I'll bring this to the thrilling conclusion tomorrow.

Not that you didn't see it on the news on anything.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dragon Attack!, Part 2

So, after getting into costume and waiting for a few minutes, I ported back to outside Judy's apartment building. I heard a voice inside my head saying, Meet us on the roof, so I ported up there, only to find Punch and Judy waiting.

"What took you so long?" she asked.

"What, you wanted me to be standing on the street corner, giving away your secret identity?" I said back.

"Eh. If anyone notices, I'll just say I'm dating you. I mean, it's kinda true."

Dating me, huh? I've gotta say, I was caught off guard there. Then I said, "You ready?"

"Let's go," she said.

I ported us to 532 Delmar St. It was supposed to be an apartment building, but it looked like a war zone. Windows were shattered, and the door was hanging off its hinges.

"God, what happened here?" said Punch.

"Magical war." Quint stepped out of the building. "Maria's not exactly one to go without a fight."

"Anyone else hurt?" I asked.

"No. Maria knew what was going on, so she cast a sleeping spell on the building so that no one else would venture out. The other tenants are still in the land of Nod." He paused. "Judy, if you could..."

"I'm coming," she said. She walked into the building; Punch and I followed. We ended up on the second floor, in Maria's apartment. It looked like a bomb had gone off in a New Age shop: singed Tarot cards, broken crystal, a pendulum imbedded in the far wall. Judy sat in the center of the room, legs crossed, and closed her eyes.

"I'm gonna need some quiet," she said. "If you could just empty your minds for a minute, that'd be great."

I tried to keep my mind a blank, which is kinda difficult when you're standing in the wreckage of a violent crime. After a few minutes, Judy said, "Okay, I think I've got her presence. Now comes the hard part." She turned to Punch and me. "Promise me that whatever happens, you won't disturb me?"

Odd question. "Okay," I said.

"Sure, Alice," said Punch.

Judy closed her eyes again, then went limp and fell on her back. She stayed like that for about ten minutes; every so often, her body would convulse, and she gasped once or twice. I wanted to stop it, but I knew that she probably knew best.

After those long ten minutes, Judy came to. "Found her," she said weakly. "12th and Pearl. And we're gonna need backup."

"Why?" I asked.

"The egg's about to hatch."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dragon Attack!, Part 1

Well, I've gotten to the point where my arms don't hurt as much when I move them, so I guess I can start giving my eyewitness account of what went down. But first, the date.

It went well, for a couple of hours. When I got to the Market, Alice (we agreed not to call each other by our aliases when we're out of costume) was waiting. She was dressed well: red tank top, jean shorts.

"Hey," she said. "Glad you could make it."

"Glad I could, too." Christ, what kind of a line was that? "So, where do you want to go?"

"I was thinking we'd check out the stands, find something we could agree on," she said.

And so it went. We ended up getting lunch at the Dutch Eating Place. As we sat, we talked about hobbies, interests, all the stuff we hadn't really gotten a chance to talk about while out fighting crime. Alice likes Coen Brothers movies and kendo, so that's a plus. Afterwards, we stopped at Miscellanea Libri, which houses a collection of books that would make even the most ardent conspiracy theorist go, "Dude, what the fuck?" We read excerpts from some book about lizardmen from the seventh dimension (I don't know) and laughed.

Afterwards, we decided we'd take the SEPTA to Chestnut Hill and check out some of the shops. I say "decided", because while we were on the train, our sigils went off.

"Oh, no..." I said. And it was going so well, too.

Alice looked disappointed, too, but she just said, "Duty calls," and pulled out the sigil. I did the same.

"So, Quint, what it is?"

"I just lost contact with a mystic! I'm picking up nothing, which means Wu's covering his tracks well. Doc, Judy, I need you two to get to 532 Delmar St., pronto."

I looked around the train. The very crowded train. This was obviously going to be tricky.

I turned to Alice and tapped my forehead. She recognized the sign, because next thing I knew, I heard her in my head. What should we do? she said.

Well, we can either wait until the next stop and possibly risk losing the trail, or we could port out here and risk blowing our secret identities.

I think I have a solution, she said. I could possibly make everyone think that we're still on the train. At the next stop, "we"'ll get off and disappear into the crowd. But I'll need a little time.

Fancy. Do it, I said. I sat there and waited when, not one minute later, Alice said, Done. Let's boogie.

I grabbed her hands, focused on her apartment building, and ported. We ended up outside, and she ran up the stairs.

"How long do you need?" I yelled.

"Give me five minutes," she shouted back. "That'll give Dad and I enough time to get ready." Then she ran in and closed the front door. I ported home and started changing into costume.

Well, I thought, it could have been worse for a first date.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hey, Doc, Are You Dead?

No. I'm just recovering from dragon burns. That's right; dragon burns. Then again, if you watched the news, you know all about the Giant Pissed-Off Dragon That Almost Roasted Philly.

I'll tell you more after I start feeling less broken.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

More Peace and Quiet

Last night was relatively quiet again. If Wu's really moving to get a dragon hatched, then he's taking his sweet time doing so. Still, I guess it's for the best that nothing really hectic happened the night before the date.

Why do I have a bad feeling about this? I really hope it's just nerves.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Making Plans

Nothing happened last night on the front of kidnapped magicians-- at least, as far as we knew. We did stop a carjacking in Germantown, but we didn't hear anything from Quint.

Judy and I, for the first time since vacation, actually ended up talking about our plans for a date again. We'd tried a few times before, but couldn't find the right time for it. We finally set everything up, though: tomorrow, we meet outside the Reading Terminal Market at 11. After that, a walk about Philly and whatever comes to us.

Here's hoping it all works out... and, by saying that, I've just invited Fate to fuck me over. Great.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Drudgeons and Dragons

So, I saw Quint again last night. And now I have to make sure that a bunch of half-assed Triads don't charbroil half of Philly.

I ported onto City Hall, as usual, to meet Punch and Judy. When I got there, though, Quint was floating off the edge of the roof, dangling above the street (he sure knows how to capture an audience, I'll say that much),

"Good to see you again, Doc," he said.

"Hey, Quint," I said back. "I'm guessing this visit isn't purely social."

"Not entirely, no. In fact, what I wish to discuss with you is a matter of grave importance. However, I'm not fond of repeating myself, so I thought I would wait until your allies show up."

"Allies", huh? Not the most... organic way of talking about Punch and Judy, but okay. We talked about what we'd been doing since that night at the Continental (Quint congratulated me for holding my own with the robot), and Punch and Judy finally showed up about fifteen minutes later.

"Sorry about that, late dress rehearsal," said Judy as she and Punch floated onto the roof. Then she turned and saw Quint. "Oh. Todd, right?"

"I prefer Quintessence while in costume," he said, smiling, "but Todd will do. I don't believe I've been truly introduced to your mechanical friend."

"Oh, I'm Judy's dad," Punch said, extending his hand. "Call me Punch."

"Well, now that we've made our acquaintances, I think we should get down to business." He cleared his throat. "Terrence Wu, a member of Ng family, has recently acquired a dragon egg."

Well, I'll say this for Quint; he gets to the point fast. Mind you, a little background would have been helpful.

"A few questions," I asked. "Who's Terrence Wu, who are the Ngs, and what's the deal with the dragon egg?"

"Ah. Sorry," he said. "The Ng family is the ruling clan of the Triads in Philly. They control rackeetering and narcotics for the entire city. Wu is a Straw Sandal for the Ngs-- basically, a message boy. He's been trying to climb the ranks for about ten years, but he's always been passed over whenever a position needs filling. So, he's trying to strike out on his own."

"Which is why he needs a dragon?" asked Punch.

"Wen Ng does not take kindly to entrepeneurs," replied Quint. "I don't think they ever found the legs of the last man who tried it. So, Wu needs firepower in a bad way, which is why he sought out a dragon egg.

"Unfortunately, Wu found out a bit too late that he should have done his research. He bought the egg of a pearl dragon-- a Chinese dragon. Chinese dragons are nothing like the flamethrowers of European myth; instead, they're benevolent and peaceful. He also didn't know that a pearl dragon egg has an incubation period of about a decade. Which is why, over the past few days, he's been abducting spellcasters from all across Philly to work on the egg, in order to not only hatch the dragon as soon as possible, but give it a major attitude adjustment. Which is why I need your help."

Triads, dragons, and magics. Great; I've ended up in a Shadowrun game*.

"But why us, Quint?" I asked. "We don't know anything about domesticating your standard pearl dragon or magic."

"Precisely," said Quint. "Whoever's kidnapped the spellcasters has made sure to cover their tracks. I've tried tracking down the missing people, but I can't. And I know every spirit in this city inside and out! However, I don't know whether he's kept them secret from nonmagic sources of detection."

"You're asking for the psychic special, I'm guessing?" asked Judy.

"If you wouldn't mind."

"Hey, no one better for invading anyone's privacy than us two!" joked Punch.

"Very well." Quint floated onto the roof for a minute, and pulled out two sigils like the one he gave me when we first met. "Use these to contact me in case anything happens. Greg, you still have yours, right?"

"Yeah," I said. I mean, why wouldn't I?

"Good. I will warn everyone else in Philly who is skilled in magic about Wu's needs. That way, if something happens to one of them, I'll know. May fortune smile upon us."

And then he floated off. Well, I've gotta say: It's certainly gonna be an interesting foray into the world of organized crime.

*Look, I think we've already established that I'm a geek, all right?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Perchance to Dream

Well, at least the dream had the good sense to take a hiatus while I was on vacation. Now it's back again.

Same old, same old, for the most part. There was no pain, this time, though. I did hear Lyra say something new, though: "This world needs to be prepared."

Prepared? Prepared for what?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Kids, Don't Drive While Stupid

The same Huesos who went on a joyride the night we met Zulfikar were at it again, and this time, we didn't have the benefit of intervention by anyone with superspeed. Judy ended up taking the roof off, though, which was probably enough to make them think about what would happen if she aimed lower, so they decided to just pull over and turn themselves in.

I'm not a big fan of intimidation, but hey, you work with the tools you can use. Other than that, though, it was a quiet night again. When's something going to happen around here?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On Patrol

Punch and Judy were happy to see me. "So, how was Europe?" asks Punch.

"Oh, you know. Same old, same old," I say. "Just kidding, it was great. So, did Philly survive while I was away?"

"Funny you should mention that," says Judy. "You see, the day you went away, there was an alien invasion, and now we're all slaves to Zebra-People from Epsilon Nine."

"Well, I, for one, welcome our new zebra overlords," I reply. "So, what really happened?"

"The Iron Giant returned, for one thing," Punch says back.

"Really? Did he decide he wanted to be a gun this time?"

"Looked like. He was playing kick-the-car in Center City when we showed up. This time, though, The Silver Bullet showed up earlier, and we distracted the big tin can while he hacked into its memory banks, then deleted them."

"I was able to slow the guy so he didn't crush anyone when he fell," Judy explains. "Anyway, it turned out the robot was designed by some New Luddites. Convince people of the dangers of advanced technology by showing it run amok, etc, etc."

"Ah. Anything else?"

"The usual muggings and carjackings, but nothing really supervillainous. Oh, and we put on Snow White for the children's theatre."

"Sounds like quality fare."

"It was. Judy played the evil queen."

"Ah. So tell me, what was it like feasting on the salted heart of a deer?" I ask Judy.

"We didn't do that version," Judy says. "The kids would never trust Disney again. Though I bet it would taste like chicken."

So, did the criminals celebrate my return, too? Not really. There was a hold-up at a jewelry store in Mt. Airy, but that was about it. Still. I'm glad to see I was missed. Somewhat.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Greg Silverman's European Vacation

What can I say; I had a lot of crime-free fun.

We started off the trip in Amsterdam (though Mom and Dad kept me on a tight leash- reasonably, of course, but kinda disappointing), spent two days there, then proceeded to Bruges, Berlin, Aix-en-Provence, Geneva, Menaggio, Florence, and finally, Rome. All the cities were great... well, except for Rome.

Here's all you need to know about Rome: Rome sucks. Once you get past the tourist attractions and the history, it's a real crapshoot. We ended up paying 30 euros for the privilege of walking around the Colosseum in a circle for a half-hour. We paid about 70 euros for food that tried to cater to tourists by being more "American" than "Italian", but ended up being "shitty". And the cab drivers have no sympathy for pedestrians. It got to the point where I was afraid I was going to have to port someone out of the way. Not that we, the paying customers, fared much better; my dad bruised his head on the front seat when the guy went from 60 to 0 in nanoseconds.

Still, the other cities were great, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

...except for fighting crime, that is.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Return from Europe

So. Very. Tired.

I'm just checking in to say, I got back from Europe okay. But I got on the plane in Italy, where it's currently 5:19 in the morning, so I am not feeling very inclined to stay upright at the moment. I'll talk vacation when I have a chance; I have to be back at work tomorrow.