Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A big package arrived from Itzhak today. About half the time they're addressed to me, and if so I open them, but otherwise I leave them for Greyghost. This one was addressed to Greyghost (listed as 'G' on the courier waybill so as not to attract attention).

Eventually Greyghost and Perseid found their way in. I don't know what they do all day; some kind of superhero training. Whatever it is, she seems exhausted. Greyghost saw the package. "From Itzhak?"

I nodded.

He turned to Perseid. "I've commissioned a new costume for you."

"I have one."

"Yes. It's inadequate."


"The first thing is your glasses."

"What about them?"

"Schedule an eye examination. I think you'll find that your eyes have improved since you acquired your powers."

"Really?" I said. "That's not fair."

Greyghost shrugged at me. "It happened to me. I know of three other people who experienced it." He turned back to Perseid. "You may wish to keep the glasses for the purpose of concealing your identity, but they'll be inconvenient in a fight. Which brings me to your hair."

She brightened. "Has it improved since I got my powers? Because that would be great."

"I mean you should get it cut short. It's dangerous to give an opponent something to grab hold of."

"You mean like a cape?" I asked. He ignored me.

She looked inside the box. "It's . . . shiny," she ventured.

"Our special powers are very different," he explained. This ought to be interesting; I didn't know jack about either of their super-powers, really. I knew Greyghost had something with darkness, and Perseid could fly, but that's about it. "My powers enable me to pursue strategies and tactics of stealth. Your powers essentially prevent that; they make you very visible. You may as well gain what advantages you can from this."

"Well, let me try it on," she said. "I'll change in here." She took the box into the blue room.

"How's the training coming?" I asked Greyghost.

"She works hard and she's quick," he said, "but her instincts are terrible. It will take time."

"Would you like me to pretend I can't hear you?" Perseid called from the other side of the door. "I took drama for two years; I can probably pull it off."

"They seem pretty good to me," I told Greyghost.

The good thing about Greyghost is that he never tries to top anybody's wisecracks. The bad thing is that he doesn't acknowledge them in any other way either.

Perseid came out looking like, I don't know, Buck Rogers or something. She had on a full bodysuit, jacket, boots and helmet, all made of the same silvery reflective material. Even the goggles of the helmet were mirrored. "Wow," I said.

"This thing's going to get everlastingly hot in the summer," she said. "They'll be calling me Baked Potato Girl."

Greyghost shook his head. "First, there are mesh patches for ventilation. Second, there are channels of water in the material that can be either heated or cooled, depending on the season."

"So it's battery-powered?" she asked, checking the belt for a battery pack.

"It runs on your energy field. The patches at the wrists have pickups and controls. Try it."

Then there was this crackle and she was surrounded by this intense white aura that was . . . I can't get away from the word 'crackling', because that's exactly what it was doing. It was bright enough on its own, but combined with the reflection off her costume, it made her hard to look at.

"Can you make it brighter?" asked Greyghost, shielding his own eyes.

"Sure," she said, and as she shone harder, the energy field got bigger, producing little spitting arcs, and she floated up a few inches from the floor. Greyghost and I both turned our heads away, and she faded herself down a bit. "Are you guys kidding? It doesn't seem that bad to me."

"So you have another weapon," Greyghost said. "Good."

Perseid was playing with the temperature controls at her wrists. "It works," she told us. Then she noticed, I guess, how far my jaw had dropped ever since she lit herself up like a Christmas tree, and smiled. "Check it out," she said, "it doesn't hurt," and presented her forearm.

I reached for her arm, and she was right. It was like touching a sparkler. Strange, though, standing right next to someone who was doing something impossible. Where was the energy coming from? How did this work?

"What?" she asked.

"How do you do that?" I asked.

"That's the question," Greyghost agreed.

"If I knew, I would have started doing it long before this," she added. "Do I look like a real usie in this? I feel like one."

"You can always go back to your bicycle shorts and Lone Ranger mask," Greyghost told her.

"You look serious," I said. "You know. Formidable. If I was a bad guy I'd surrender to you."

Greyghost looked like he was about to say something to me, then changed his mind and addressed Perseid. "I agree. You'll be intimidating."

She pulled off her helmet and examined the communications gear inside. "Still just the same hair, though, right?"

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