Doc Tesseract

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

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.

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