Show and Tell

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“OK, Jake. You gotta tell me, How did you know that that guy was the one we could trust?” Ned said, setting his half-finished can of cola on the table with a loud thump.

Jake’s face split with a wide grin. “Simple. When the lycanthropic change happens, it’s very high energy. That’s why most were-critters are super aggressive on the full moon they’re going through a super painful process.  The pain from having the change is mitigated when the body can use body fat as fuel. So the fat guy was the one we could bet on keeping his head.”

Tina slapped her forehead and groaned, “I thought he was fat from eating lotsa people!”

“One more pie, guys,” Susan deftly snagged the empty pizza box from the table, and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Thanks sweetie,” Ned patted her affectionately on the thigh as she took her place among the other gamers.

“You’re sometimes too predictable,” Jake said around a piece of pepperoni pizza. “Not that that’s a bad thing. It just means that  we can use your world rules effectively.”

Ned nodded, pursing his lips as he ruminated on Jake’s retort. “Well, I can’t even be mad. That’s the point of the world rules, I just never thought you were paying attention.”

“So, Ned and I thought of a great prank,” Susan said, pulling a slice from the box.

Ned grinned and blew her a kiss, “Yeah we did, but all the credit goes to miss Suzy-q.”

“But we’re playing the long game here guys. And all of us are going to participate, no arguing.”

“Get to the deets, Q” Tina said, gathering her polyhedral dice back into the tattered felt crown royal bag that she had been using as a coaster.

“OK, so you know that Ned and I are trying to have a baby, and since you guys,” She nodded at Jake and Tina, “Are a few months into the oven, we thought that since we are a group of nerd-positive and higher-than-the-mean intelligence groups, we would play a trick on our future nerdlettes.”

Tina sat up straight, her errant dice forgotten, “You has my attention. Tell me more.”

“Well,” Susan began, setting her pizza down, and licking the tips of her fingers, “Remember that year we went to SuperCon in full costume?”

“Hell yes, I do. That’s where I met Jake!” Tina winked at her husband with a leer.

“Great, so here’s the dealio. We all remake our costumes. Really pour the effort and time into it. Spare no expense.”

Jake furrowed his brow, “I don’t know if I like where this is going…”

“Shut it, Jake. Let the woman talk.” Tina elbowed him roughly, “Please continue.”

Susan grinned, “Well I have a friend in the office who was a art major, and he posted a bunch of really cool looking newspaper articles in his cube. But the thing is, they’re all fake. So I thought, What if we make scrapbooks of news clippings that make it look like we’re all superheroes and hide them with the costumes in our closets where our kids will find them? How cool would that be?”

Tina bounced in her seat, “Yes. So much yes!”

Jake sighed and mumbled into the rum and coke that he had been nursing for the last hour.

“Why are you being such a negative Nancy? You don’t even have to work on your costume, yours is still in perfect shape.”

“Yeah,” Jake said, tossing back the remainder of his drink, “perfect shape…”

 

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Jason, reforged. (excerpt from book 3: A Recipe for War)

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Three separate cauldrons poured acrid fumes into the air. Lit from within, a bloody red glow illuminated The Professor’s face.

The golem glanced to Jason, who knelt nearby, desperately trying to remain calm.

“Are you ready?”

“Do you mean I can back out?”

“No.”

“I guess I’m ready, then,” Jason extended his smoothly scarred stump towards The Professor and averted his eyes. “Will it hurt?”

“Oh, no. Not even a tickle,” The Professor glanced at Althea and winced, nodding.

Althea, looking a bit panicked, swooped across the room and took a place behind her fiancée, then gave her golem a thumbs-up.

The Professor cleared her throat, pulled a wand from her lab coat and tapped the lip of the first cauldron. A large ball of molten titanium rose, glowing brightly. A second tap on the next one, caused a ball of molten gold rise to float next to the first.

The Professor stuck her wand behind her ear, and extended both hands outwards. Her eyes closed, she drew the two balls of liquid metal towards each other. As they neared, each released a tendril of material towards the other. As they touched, a dramatic sparking began crackling between the two, and they married, flowing into each other, becoming a large ball of magically charged metal.

“OK, Jason. Here we go. The prep spell I put on you earlier will facilitate integration.”

Retrieving her wand, The Professor muttered a short incantation and with small precise flicks of her wand, the molten metal sphere moved slowly towards Jason, who flinched from the heat.

The Professor reached towards Jason, palm down and wiggled her fingers, as if operating a marionette.

Jason straightened his arm out more and stiffened, held sway with magic. “Babe, I’m scared.”

Althea stroked his face and kissed him on the top of the head. “I know,” She nodded to The Professor.

Nodding back, the golem urged the sphere towards Jason with the wand. A tendril of radiant metal gently reached out and touched the scarred stump that was the remains of his forearm. Foul smoke and the smell of burning flesh erupted from the interaction.

Jason screamed as the molten metal found the severed ends of his radius and ulna and began working its way into and around them.

“Don’t worry. The spell is making sure your body isn’t being damaged.” Althea hugged him tightly from behind.

As the metal worked its way into his body, Althea jerked away with a shout of pain. The pajamas that Ooedo loaned him burst into flame, tracing the metal’s progress through his body until only ashes and scraps of cloth remained. The last bit of metal formed a cap around the stump, still glowing brightly.

The Professor began inscribing magical script into the metal with the tip of her wand in a fast but meticulous fashion. As she finished, she held up her left hand and touched the tip of her index finger and thumb, as if saying “OK” and blew through the hole, causing white frost to pour through.

Jason’s screaming subsided into ragged breathing and whimpers as the frost cooled the metal that had coursed its way through and around his skeleton.

The Professor released her spell on him and nodded. “Good. Lay him on the futon. It’s time to make the arm now.” She gestured to Hikaru,  who scurried to her side, carrying something wrapped in cloth.

Tapping the cauldrons again, she brought another pair of molten metal balls up, fused them, and moved them to the third cauldron, where it sank out of sight, save for the glow from within.

Hikaru unwrapped the package revealing Jason’s severed arm, now covered in runes and markings. He placed the arm before The Professor, who inspected the work for the hundredth time that day.

“Well. This is it. Hikaru.” She gestured to her assistant.

Hikaru nodded, picked up the forearm with a set of tongs and lowered it into the cauldron. Black and foul smoke poured forth and was fanned away by The Professor. Standing on some books, she peered inside and nodded with a smile. She blew frost into the cauldron, cooling it down, and beckoned for Hikaru again.

Hikaru reached in and pulled out the forearm, which besides having swollen somewhat, seemed unchanged.

The Professor grinned “Gimmie.”

Taking the arm, she began pulling off the skin, revealing bright gold metal.

“It’s beautiful,” Hikaru blurted.

“Yeah. We do good work.”

Hikaru blushed deeply at her praise. “No, it was all your work.”

She turned and approached Jason who lay naked and whimpering. “It’s ready.”

“He’s out of it for a while, “ Althea said, stroking him.

The golem nodded and held the golden forearm’s flat end to the cap that covered the end of Jason’s arm. The two of them snapped together like magnets. “At least he’s whole again.”