Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Experience Pays

Experience Pays
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, awoke in the dark of a cold bedroom.  He'd gone to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Red numbers from a digital clock read 12:01 AM -- so technically it was Christmas morning.

Something moved in the darkness.  He heard chains being drug across the floor, and smelled the decay of death.  "Crap, this again?" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed.  "How many times does one man have to be taught the meaning of Christmas anyway?  Look, I give to the Orphans of Heroes Fund, I support homeless sidekicks through the Temporary Superfriends Outreach program, I give to Larry's Kids -- you know, Larry Warburton, he was the Masked Mammal back in the sixties...."

"Is this a common occurrance?" asked a voice from the darkness.

"Only about every five years or so, like clockwork," Grandpa muttered.  "I think it'd happen more often if I wasn't out saving Christmas every holiday season...."

"Do you remember me, Grandpa Anarchy?" said the voice.  "I was your sidekick for... well, about seventeen hours I think...."

"You and about a hundred other spandex-clad waifs," Grandpa Anarchy muttered.  "Here, let me get the light on...."

Grandpa flipped a switch, illuminating the room.  He was dressed in gray flannel pajamas with black stripes.  In the center of the room, wrapped in chains, was a young boy in a brown and yellow spandex outfit.  On his chest was a stylized image of a stalk of wheat.  He was not, however, a living boy.  He stared from sunken sockets.  Rotting flesh dripped from his cheekbones.  He appeared to have been dead for some time.

"Why, if it isn't the ghost of Whole Grain Kid!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "How long has it been?  Something like Ten or twelve years...."

He took two quick steps forward and shoved his hand at the center of the dead boy.  His hand passed right through, as if stabbing at mist.

"Sorry," said Grandpa.  "Just checking.  You never know when the League of Former Sidekicks is going to try an fool me again...."

"I was entrusted into your care," the dead boy said accusingly, "and you let me die!"

"Hey, you jumped in front of the Holy Terror's Disenfractulation Gun," Grandpa said.  "I mean heroism's one thing, Kid, but that's just plain suicide.  I made sure they put that on your death certificate too -- death by heroic suicide."

"I was just a fifteen-year-old kid!  I didn't know any better!  You didn't train me!"

"There's only so much training one can manage in seventeen hours," Grandpa replied.  "You were lucky to learn how not to don your body suit backwards."

"And you paid me nothing for my service!" the ghost wailed.

"If we could just circle back to the part where you worked for me all of seventeen hours...." Grandpa said.

"Nice try, but you don't pay any of your sidekicks," the dead boy replied.  "You're famous for it!  You've never paid a single sidekick one red cent...."

"Hey, the job pays in experience," Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed.  "Lots of my former sidekicks go on to become famous heroes!  Working for me is an honor...."

"Honor doesn't pay the bills, Mr. Anarchy!" the ghost yelled.

"I give free room and board," Grandpa countered.  "Look, I got a nice inheritance from the Gentleman Brawler, which includes this mansion.  But being a superhero pays surprisingly little.  You think anyone is paying me to do my job?  Heck no!  If I were to run about handing out money nilly-willy, I'd be in the poor house in no time!"

"That excuse has worn thin, Mr. Anarchy," said the Ghost of the Whole Grain Kid.  "In the past twenty years your personal wealth has expanded significantly, thanks investments and licensing contracts drawn up by your demonic lawyer...."

Grandpa smirked.  "Yeah, Mal does a good job. I pay him well for it, too."

"Why, your take from the most recent Grandpa Anarchy movie alone was several million dollars," said the ghost, "and that's before we figure in licensing money from all of the toys and games...."

"Yeah, yeah, you've made your point," said Grandpa.  "I'm a lot wealthier than I used to be, it's true."

"I'm glad you admit it," said the ghost.  He shook his chains in what a manner more perfunctory than menacing.  "Beware!  I have come to warn you, Theodore Harold "Paul" Smith!  This evening you will be visited by three ghosts...."

"Yeah, yeah, let's just cut to the chase, why don't we?" Grandpa exclaimed.  "Follow me down to the Anarchy Cave, why don't you?"  And he strolled out of the room.

"Wait!  I must give my warning!" the ghost exclaimed, hurrying after with a clink and rattle of iron.

Grandpa Anarchy and the ghost took the elevator down to the Anarchy Cave below -- which was more of a very large concrete warehouse than an actual cavern.  "Annie Two!" Grandpa exclaimed, striding across the room toward the large screen on the wall, which represented the Anarchy Computer Mark II.  "What's minimum wage these days?  $2.50?"

The screen flickered to life.  A young woman appeared on it, dressed like a 19th century librarian with black hair wound tightly into a bun and wearing reading glasses.

"Good morning, Mr. Anarchy," Annie Two said.  "The national minimum wage as set by US labor law is $7.25 per hour."

"That much?  Dang!  I'm in the wrong business!"

The computer took in the young, decaying ghost behind Grandpa.  "Another of your Christmas ghost encounters, Mr. Anarchy?" she asked.

"Got it in one," Grandpa said.  "Well, okay, let's make it $8.00 an hour, that way nobody can complain that I'm only paying minimum wage.  That good enough for ya?"  He turned to face the ghost.

"I'm sorry?" the ghost asked.

"I'm proposing I pay my sidekicks $8.00 an hour from this point forward," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "For -- let's call it a twelve hour work day, six days a week.  I mean it's mostly not very hard work, just monitor duty and such.  I make them do the laundry and vacuum the hallway too.  Wait, better make that $12.00 an hour, 8 hours a day, five days a week.  Wouldn't want to get accused of overworking the little super tykes."

"Duly noted," said Annie.  "I will pay your sidekicks thusly henceforth.  Although you do tend to keep them on alert twenty-four hours a day."

"Yeah, well, evil never sleeps, we can't either," Grandpa said.  "But that ought to be a living wage.  How about it?  That satisfy you, ghost of Whole Grain Kid, or are we still going to have to do the whole three ghosts rigamarole?"

"That... sounds very generous of you," said the ghost meekly.  "A very Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Anarchy."

"Yeah, same to you," Grandpa muttered, as the ghost faded from view.


Grandpa's current sidekick, a young woman known as the Koosh Ball Avenger, stared at the check in her hands.

"Why thank you, Grandpa," she said.  "That's very unexpected!"

"Merry Christmas, and all that," Grandpa said.  "Thought it was about time I started paying you guys."

"I appreciate it," she said.  "Although you know, I mostly took this job for the experience...."

Grandpa snapped his fingers.  "There, you see?  That's what I keep telling them...."


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Classic Anarchy: Blah Blah Blah

Blah Blah Blah
Mark A Davis

A display mannequin in blue coveralls ran down the street.   It yelled, "Demand furniture!  They know I am a no-nonsense industrialist who has dedicated my life to finding all-natural treatments for devastating!"  Then it lifted a parked car and tossed it onto the sidewalk.

People screamed and ran.  Two more of the creatures appeared, also dressed in blue coveralls, like crash test dummies come to life.  One yelled, "Your roses!  Realize that rain water countertops to make certain!"  It smashed a shop window.

"Lawn Mower Style Line Trimmer!" the third exclaimed.  It ripped up a street sign.  "At the insights you gain about those weird, bizarre symbols in your dreams!"

A rusting 1958 AMC Ambassador station wagon barreled around the corner.  It plowed into one of the dummies, which bounced off the hood.  "Just look at everything that I am going!" it yelled as it flew through the air.  It hit the pavement head-first and collapsed, unmoving.

Two people emerged from the car.  One was a young woman in a white form-fitted cat outfit, complete with ears and tail.  The other was an old man in a rumpled gray suit and fedora.  A silver anarchy symbol was stitched over the left breast.

"Spambots!" Grandpa Anarchy growled.  "They're all over the city!  I hate those things!  Always spouting unintelligible gibberish.  Just ignore what they say and take them down -- got it, Blah Blah Ginger?"

The girl stared at him blankly.  "I'm sorry?  Did you say something?"

"Exactly!" said Grandpa.  "Let's do this!"

The two remaining bots ran towards them.  One brandished a sign post.  "The genre has your time past languished," it yelled, swinging the makeshift club.  Grandpa ducked.  "No superheroes operate our Hollywood gods!  However presently within the primary of a current breed of biblical epics, a prophet is reworked as a superhero...."

Grandpa's fist connected with the bot's chin.  Its head spun about.  "Associate antediluvian dark knight!  With Noah!" it shouted.  Grandpa grasped the head and twisted further.  It separated from the body with a shower of sparks.

"That's  two, Ginger!" he yelled.

"What?" his sidekick asked.  She was locked in combat with the other bot.  Grandpa grasped its head and twisted it off.

Another bot appeared at the end of the street.  It saw them.  "But even so," it called out, "writing frequent love letters with words!"

Grandpa lifted the street sign and charged, impaling the bot.  It grasped the aluminum shaft.  "This might be the message of Nymphomaniac , if so there's one," it said, and died.

Grandpa grimaced.  "We need to find who's responsible for these bots," he said.  "And I think I know exactly who it is.  Let's go, Blah Blah Ginger."

"What?" she asked.


You first noticed the babble of dozens of robots shouting random words.  It was a rolling tide of voices -- not the sort you get from normal conversations in a hall before a concert, but the sound of many people all shouting at once.  Then you heard the whine and clang of machinery and smelled grease and ozone.  In a dimly-lit factory, spambots in blue coveralls moved between assembly lines upon which neat rows of incomplete bots could be seen.

At the far side of the warehouse was a raised platform with something that resembled science fiction death ray gun crossed with a Marshall amplifier.  There were computers nearby, and a short fat man dressed in scale armor made from hundreds of meat product tin cans.

The doors of the warehouse exploded inward.  Grandpa Anarchy and Blah Blah Ginger charged in.  Each carried a taser-style rifle.  Spambots converged on them immediately, and they began firing like extras in a John Woo film.  With loud zaps, electricity arced through the air.  Bots short circuited and collapsed, lifeless.  They piled up around the two like broken dolls.

Soon nothing  moved among the assembly line.  There were no bots shouting nonsense.  The warehouse went silent.

The armored man on the dais began to clap.  "Well done, Grandpa Anarchy!" he called out.  "Well done!  But do you really think my plans are so easily thwarted?"

"Spam King!" Grandpa growled.  "Give up now or face my fists of justice!"

"I am the Spam King!" the man exclaimed, "and I am not so easily cowed!  Soon my spambots will overrun this city!  I shall stream my triumph live on the web!  And there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

Grandpa charged the dais.  The Spam King swung the gun around and fired.  No beam shot out -- instead it broadcast a steady stream of gibberish:

It’s Associate in Nursing intense and unsettling scenario full of real feeling, all the a lot of therefore as a result of most of the film consists of bored folks obtaining off while not extremely feeling abundant.  You might well marvel wherever all this can be leading.

Grandpa stopped.  He was unable to move.  The villain laughed.  "Do you see, Grandpa Anarchy?  My Subliminal Stimuli Compulsion Gun can not be resisted!  You want to punch me in the face, but subliminal messages prevent you!"

Grandpa struggled to take a step.  "Subliminal... stimuli... doesn't work... that way...."

"Then come up here and punch me -- if you can!"  The villain stuck his chin out.  "I'm waiting...."

Sweat dripped from Grandpa's brow, but his feet remained stubbornly fixed.

"You see?" said the Spam King.  "You can't move!  This is exactly why I said that you could not prevent...."

His voice trailed off.  Blah Blah Ginger was calmly walking up the dais.  "Stop!" he shouted.  "I command you!  You can not resist...."

She fired her rifle.  Electricity forked out.  The Spam King screamed and fell.  As he convulsed on the floor, Ginger stepped over him, yanked his arms behind his back, and handcuffed him.

She turned off the Subliminal Stimuli Compulsion Gun.  Grandpa stumbled forward.  He charged up the dias and slugged the prone villain for good measure.

Ginger raised an eyebrow.  "What was he going on about?" she asked.

Grandpa sighed.  "If I told you," he said, "would you listen?"


"Exactly," said Grandpa.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Classic Anarchy: Startup

Mark A Davis

"Grandpa Anarchy, come look at this."

Deep in the basement of the Anarchy Mansion, Grandpa Anarchy's current sidekick, the Compound Eye, sat before the famous Anarchy Computer -- clearly the latest in high-tech crime-fighting computer equipment circa 1962, with reel-to-reel tapes occupying one long wall, another large wall of dust-covered machines with blinking lights, and a jacob's ladder for that added special effect.  True, it had been updated with a few more recent additions -- new keyboard and monitors, cameras and the like  -- but it remained essentially the same computer it had been for fifty years.

The Compound Eye was a young woman in an all-black costume with insect-like armor and huge, glittering compound eyes built into the face mask -- as if she had once attended a horror convention dressed as Jeff Goldblume in the Fly, and then adapted this into her hero costume.

Grandpa, dressed as usual in an old gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the chest, and wearing a gray fedora, ambled over and glanced over her shoulder.  He saw images of villainous minions, a battle between himself and one particular villain, and a wall of text, along with numbers in big fonts off to one side.

"What am I looking at?" asked Grandpa.

"I was scanning the entries on Lairbuildr," said the Compound Eye, "and look who I came across!"

"Lair Builder?"  Grandpa's eyes narrowed.

"No, Lairbuildr," said the sidekick.  "It's a villain crowdfunding service on the darknet.  You know, like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.  Mr. Medberry taught me how to find it and monitor it...."

Grandpa, who only touched computers when he wanted to smash them, was now completely lost.  "Dark what?  Kick who?  Go where?"

"Grandpa," said the sidekick, "do you know what crowdfunding is?"

"Of course I know what it is," Grandpa snapped.  Several moments of silence followed.  "It's... giving money out to random crowds... right?"

"Close!" she replied.  "It's actually a method of raising money from crowds of people via the internet.  For example, if I wanted to publish a how-to book on Sidekicking for Grandpa Anarchy, I could go to Kickstarter and request money."

"Kid," said Grandpa seriously, "not to curb your enthusiasm, but you've been my sidekick for all of two weeks.  I hardly think you're qualified to write a book on the subject."

"Just an example, Sir," she said.

"And people will give you money?  Why?"

"Because they want to see the book published?  Also I could offer enticements -- a signed copy for a certain level of contribution, or maybe at the highest level of contribution I'll print their name as a thank you acknowledgement in a preface to the book.  Or whatever.  The sky's really the limit -- only your imagination holds you back.  People have used this to fund game development, to fund books, to fund music releases, to fund movies, to fund art and graphic novels.  Whatever you can think of that you'd want to raise funding for."

"Let me get this straight," said Grandpa.  "Let's say I want to fix up the Anarchy Mansion.  I can just ask people to give me money so I can do that?"

"Sure," replied the sidekick.  "For an incentive you could give away signed photos for a low level contribution, on up to a personal meeting with you and a tour of the mansion for the highest level."

Grandpa frowned.  "Strangers touring my mansion?  I ain't having that!"

"Just a suggestion, Sir," said the sidekick.  "If you wanted to crowdfund a remodel, of course."

Grandpa stared over the sidekick's shoulder.  "Wait a second," he said.  "That's Kid Calculus, isn't it?"

"That's right, Sir," she said.  "Your number one villain."

"He ain't my number one villain," Grandpa snapped.  "He's just some young punk with delusions of grandeur."

"Well, he's crowdfunding a new secret base from which to relaunch his attacks on you.  You blew up his mobile sky battleship a few months ago, remember?"

"Blew up real good, too," Grandpa replied with satisfaction.  "I'll never understand why people want to build flying fortresses.  They crash, and it's never just dents that the body shop around  the corner can pound out."  He studied the screen.  "Still," he said, "A bad guy's gotta have a base of operations, I guess.  You can't blame him for wanting to build a new lair -- and I'm sure he sunk everything he had into that battleship, so this interweb funding racket thing must be his only option."

Grandpa stroked his chin thoughtfully.  "Okay," he said.  "The max contribution is ten thousand, right?  Put me down for that."

It was impossible to know the Compound Eye's expressions, hidden as they were beneath the bug-faced mask, but she stared at Grandpa for a very long moment.  "Grandpa," she said, "you want to help fund his lair?  Why?"

"A villain in a lair makes for a good confrontation," Grandpa replied.  "Lairs are fun to blow up.  And I noticed that the top tier included a special invite to the grand opening."  Grandpa Anarchy grinned.  "Should be quite the shindig, don't you think?"


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hurricane Punch

Hurricane Punch
Mark A Davis

"Did I ever tell you about the time Grandpa Anarchy stopped a hurricane with his fists?"

Jay Medberry, known as the Electric Bluejay, downed his gin and tonic.  The mostly-retired hero and public face of Temporary Superfriends was, as usual, dressed in a suit of electric blue.  He was a good-looking man, apparently in his mid-twenties.  The bartender -- a sharp-dressed man of about the same age with brown hair and a closely-cropped beard, known as Walter Vandroogenbroeck -- prepared another.

"That's not possible," said Continuitae.  The young woman was dressed like a reject from a Sailor Moon show.  She had a white leotard with a sailor pattern and a short skirt of dark purple with a stardust pattern.  There were bows, ribbons, ruffles, tiaras, bracelets, and necklaces.  Her girlfriend Saturnae was similarly dressed, only with a skirt of golden brown with gold numbers around the border, so that it would resemble a clock if seen from above.

The others present were Sun Wukong, his wife Ravella the Traveller, and Dog Is My Copilot.  The latter was a woman with white fur and the head of a dog.  She wore flight goggles and a red scarf, and had two metal license tags on a chain around her neck -- one a dog's license, the other her pilot's license.  Ravella was tall and beautiful, with dark skin and long, straight black hair.  She wore khaki shorts and a black tank top.  Sun Wukong, meanwhile, was dressed in loose black pants and a green silk robe with gold trim.  He was, of course, a monkey -- the famous Monkey King -- but was as tall as a human and very  well muscled.

The six of them were gathered in the secret bar room of the the Eternal Order of the Second Banana, a place where former sidekicks gathered.  A large mandala hanging behind the bar depicted the all-seeing eye of Horus, with scales balancing a banana on each side, and a diamond mask depicted just below.  The words written clockwise around the border were:  Avete ariera secundus.  Fidelitas.  Ministerium  Consilium Prudens -- loyalty, service, wise counsel, hail the second banana.

There were vaulted ceilings with stained glass windows depicting scenes out of mythology and fiction in which heroes fought beside their famous sidekicks.  The bar itself was carved from polished hardwood in the shape of a large banana.

Sun Wukong sipped his beer.  "It is said that in ancient times, the monks of the Hanging Temple in China's Shanxi province were able to throw punches so powerful that they created tornados," he said.  "The trick, I'm told, lies in inciting your enemy's fury, producing a red-hot battle aura while you yourself maintaining an aura as cold as ice.  When the timing of the punch is right and the hot air meets the cold, a tornado is the result.  The technique can be quite devastating."

"Okay, sure," Continuitae replied.  "A tornado, maybe.  But nobody's creating a freaking hurricane with a single punch -- nor stopping one."

Saturnae narrowed her eyes.  "Hang on," she said.  "Why is the Monkey King even here?  I thought this was a club for former sidekicks.  Sun Wukong is not just a hero, he's a god!"

Sun Wukong held up a finger.  "Point of order, my lady.  I was made a living Buddha because I proved my loyalty and my strength as the disciple and bodyguard to the great teacher Xuanzang on his journey to the West.  So you see, before I became the Victorious Fighting Buddha, I was first a sidekick."

Saturnae frowned.  "Well," she said, "fair enough, I suppose -- although it feels like you belong in the same special category that we place Grandpa Anarchy in -- you were always the hero, even when you were a sidekick."

"But that is clearly not the case," said Sun Wukong.  "Before my redemption I was imprisoned in a mountain for five hundred years for my many crimes.  They had so little trust in me that they fitted me with this magical headband which Xuanzang could constrict at a word.  I was a powerful warrior before that point, but also quite arrogant and mischevious."

"Do you people want to hear this story, or not?" asked Jay.

"Yes, of course," said Sun Wukong.  "I myself probably could not stop a hurricane with a punch, so I am curious how Grandpa Anarchy managed this.  Do continue."

Continuitae opened her laptop and began to type.  "As long as this isn't another of your stupid shaggy dog stories...."

"Bark?" exclaimed Dog Is My Copilot excitedly.

"No, not about a dog," replied Continutae.  "It's just an expression.  Sorry to disappoint."  Dog Is My Copilot's ears drooped.

"I assure you, this tale is true," Jay replied.  He sipped his drink, then said, "This was when I was Grandpa's sidekick, of course.  It was the Spring of 1965, and a freak hurricane appeared in the gulf coast, just south of Louisiana.  It was quite early in the hurricane season, and there was no warning, it just appeared overnight...."

"Hurricanes don't work that way," said Continuitae.  "Tropical depressions typically form off the coast of Africa when hot air from the Sahara creates thunderstorms out over the warm waters near the equator.  Eventually those can become hurricanes -- but meteorologists will track them long before that.  They don't just appear."

"Well, this one did," said Jay.  "If you let me tell my tale without interruptions, I'll explain how it happened."

Jay took another sip of his drink.  "Now, as you might imagine, those meteorologists Continuitae speaks of were shocked.  But they sent a plane into the eye of the hurricane, and do you know what they found?  At the center of the hurricane was a man -- or at least, a man-shaped being.  It was flying in the air with the storm swirling about it, and it was black and humanoid shaped.  It looked a bit like a man completely covered in oil."

"Kaptain Krude!" exclaimed Continuitae.  "Of course!  I remember!  Now it makes sense!"

"Woof!" Dog Is My Copilot agreed.

"What makes sense?" asked Ravella.  "Who's Kaptain Krude?"

"A 1960's villain," Continuitae.  "He's in my data base.  He had incredible powers over storms -- well, not him exactly...."

Jay cleared his throat.  "Continuitae, who's telling the story here, me or you?"

"Sorry!" the woman exclaimed.  "Just excited to actually hear some real history for once!"

"All my stories are real," said Jay, sounding hurt.  "And yes, this was Kaptain Krude -- a villain who could control wind and rain and even create hurricanes -- he was a very powerful storm shaman, as powerful as the hero Monsoon.  This was our first encounter with him.  We later learned that he'd gained his powers only a couple of days earlier in a oil rig accident... well, that's not important.  The important part is that there were no weather controllers available, so they called in Dark Dr. Dark, who brought Grandpa Anarchy and I along.

"Now, Dark Dr. Dark was a powerful sorcerer even back in the sixties, but he flew into the storm and was unable to get the villain to say anything.  Next he tried to shut the villain down -- but his magic was useless against Kaptain Krude; the oily surface seemed to repel magic.  The Air Force got involved, but bullets and even missiles bounced off his black exterior -- the oily good that encases him was like a rubbery armor that deflected projectiles.  Nothing could penetrate it -- I even tried my electricity against him, but it didn't work.

"Meanwhile, this storm was growing stronger by the hour.  It was about to hit category five, and was aimed squarely at the oil rigs off the Texas and Louisiana coast.  They weren't prepared for it.  Hundreds of lives were threatened.  We racked our brains to come up with a way to defeat the villain, but Grandpa Anarchy had an idea.

"Grandpa said he'd seen this creature before -- not necessarily the man himself, but the thing that gave him the power.  He said that it was an oil-based demon called Mhalaxal.  It crawls down your throat and dwells in your gut.  It was dredged up by an oil well in Texas in the 1930's, and consequently has a hatred for oil drilling and mining, two things that have disturbed its slumber.  Grandpa had fought it once, and while it was very very powerful, he knew how to beat it.  It had worked before.

"Of course, Grandpa Anarchy couldn't fly.  We didn't have jet packs or anything like that back then.  All we had was my glider suit.  We sabotaged that to construct glider wings for Grandpa, and Dark Dr. Dark used his magic to make Grandpa lighter than normal.  We circled around and he launched himself from the airplane and glided straight at Kaptain Krude.

"One punch was all he got, but that was all it took.  Grandpa's fist struck the man right in the stomach.  Just like the last time, the man became ill.  He vomited up a dark, oily creature which plunged into the sea.  The hurricane began to fade immediately.  As for the man himself -- Grandpa grabbed him and they managed to half-glide, half-fall to the ocean surface.  We dropped some life preservers and a floating buoy, and they were picked up a couple of hours later.  By that point the hurricane had completely vanished.

"And that," said Jay, "is how Grandpa stopped a hurricane with his fist."

"I cry foul," said Continuitae.  "Grandpa didn't stop the hurricane.  He punched Kaptain Krude, and that stopped the hurricane."

"Well, that's true enough," said Jay.  "I guess I was waxing a bit hyperbolic -- Grandpa punching a storm sounds so much better.  But it just goes to show that an ill Krude blows no wind."

Continuitae glared at Jay.  She tapped her fingers on the bar.  After a moment, Sun Wukong barked a short laugh.  "Ah, yes!  A pun, and for once I get the reference!"

"I would guess," said Continuitae, "that you've been waiting most of the last sixty-seven years for the right time to use that line?"

"That," said Jay, "is probably an accurate statement."

"Well just so you know, it wasn't worth the wait," said Continuitae.

"No," said Ravella, "It wasn't.  Jay, the next round is on you."