It seems a fox has been thrown into the henhouse. No, wait: perhaps a better metaphor would be a chicken being tossed into a foxes lair. Do foxes have lairs? Or do they have a set? No, that's a badger.
Enough of zoology. The Aotearoa Peaceniks went out on the streets today to sell their white poppies, a day before the Returned Servicemen's Association go out to sell their red ones.
It's ANZAC fever, and the battle-lines have been drawn. The bristly old RSA have harrumphed mightily at the cheek of these peace-lovin' hippie freaks* taking the emphasis away from them. Terrible, harrumph, harrumph. *The RSA guys, being old, have freaky hips.
I can see their point. I also sympathise mightily with the Peace Foundation. They figure it's a great time to sell peace poppies, because what service-person in his or her right mind actually wants a war? And anyway, most new returned service personnel are coming back to EnnZedd after being deployed on peace-keeping missions.
Apart from the SAS, of course, who bugger off to god knows where in order to earn themselves some new bling.
I think there's room for both. The price of the poppies ain't huge. The RSA makes something like $90k from theirs, the peace hippies want far less. If the peaceniks hadn't sold out, I'd wear both. Red to show my appreciation for what our servicemen have done, and continue to do, and white to show I'm all for calling a cessation to hostilities around the world. .
Had to larf, though, at the Minister for Old Soldiers And Their Affairs. She blithered on about how the RSA needs the dosh from their poppy day, and they use it to help poor old buggers who are in desperate need. I noticed she didn't offer to dip into the treasury to offer the old buggers some much-needed support from the Government.
LISTENING TO: Jethro Tull, "Live At Montreux". I'm a major Jethro Tull fan... and they are great, live.
READING: Well, re-reading, anyway. Bernard Cornwell, "Waterloo". i don't know why, but I'm fascinated by the battle of Waterloo. I suppose it's because Waterloo is one of only three things that Belgium's famous for. Waterloo, Audrey Hepburn, and, um, er, oh... Brussel Sprouts.
WATCHING: Tonight - "Prisoner" - taped from Monday night. And "Lost", taped from last night.
More "Paper Heroes".
It keeps well out of arm’s reach, and tracks his progress.
Two miles away, a man with deathly white skin and an insane grin laughs and chuckles to himself and operates the joystick to remotely zoom the tiny metallic moth around The Crusader’s head. The Crusader is so intent on being a nosey-parker, he hasn’t seen the insect. Think you’re so clever, don’t you, Crusader. Oh, yes, yessss, you’re mine now. Mine. After so long, so many humiliations, you’re mine. The Jester can taste the revenge, so swee-et, so mellow, so -
Then The Crusader’s eyes lock onto the spy-moth, and The Jester sees the Caped Crusader’s eyes in his monitor.
“Crap!” The Jester’s shriek echoes off the concrete canyons of New York’s downtown as the moth goes out of control, and the video flickers and goes black for an instant. The tiny machine’s back-up system comes in to play, and it resumed its steady pursuit as The Crusader retreats up the wall.
Well, The Jester thought. Well. Well, shit! The Crusader’s finally doing what I want! If The Crusader can have a Battlecar, then I can have a Jester-plane.
The Jester switches control to his flying weapons platform, a small boomerang shaped aircraft that carries two small missiles. It has been cruising a thousand feet above the building, and now The Jester-plane stoops like a clown-faced hawk, to the southernmost top corner of the monolithic office building The Crusader had been crawling on.
The Jester watches through both the aircraft’s and the moth’s video monitors. His hands dance a merry jig of death as he giggles and croons and twitches.
On the building, the Crusader-suit’s sensors hummed an urgent warning to The Crusader. He slows his rate of ascent, and tries to make sense of the data the suit is projecting directly onto his eye.
There’s something in the air nearby, something the size of a Condor, the giant South American vulture. Wingspan about nine feet, so it’s not an aircraft. It can’t be an aircraft.
The first rocket leaps from The Jester-plane’s right wingtip, and smashes into the balustrade as The Crusader was vaulting over it. Red-hot metal and concrete shrapnel shred his boot, and The Crusader knows that his life must be measured in microseconds unless he does something, and fast. But you’re getting slow now, aren’t you – old man? The Jester cackles, and presses a second button.
The evasion tactic is simple: hurl yourself off the building. Old man, old man, you’re too slow! The second rocket traces a scarlet line, red as blood, in the night air as it homes on the tumbling figure that is desperately hurling itself back over the building’s edge. It slams into a stainless steel flagpole and explodes, and razor sharp shrapnel scythes over the black figure as it plummets into the void.
The metal slices deeply into the cat-shaped helmet, tearing into the Kevlar and mono-filament carbon fibre, slashing deeply into the old man’s scalp.
The Crusader is now unconscious, falling at 32 feet per second squared, and the suit’s automatic devices kick into action.
Five pitons are fired from the utility belt: they slap into concrete and granite on the man-made canyon’s surfaces, trailing their mono-filament wire rope behind them. The unconscious man’s body is gently slowed, then lowered to the ground. Drugs are fed into The Crusader’s bloodstream, drugs of his own devising, drugs which snap him awake, and give him the strength the summon the Battlecar.
He reels to a lamp-standard, and leans on it as the Battlecar shrieks toward him. His vision is fading, and flickering – but oh god, what’s that? The statue of Pan on the intersection of 5th and Wayne is moving, turning toward me, releasing an arrow – unnh! The rocket-powered arrow plunges through Crusader’s supposedly bulletproof costume, narrowly missing his heart.
The Battlecar howls to the broken man in black, who collapses into the machine. The door hisses shut, and he mutters one word only, “Home.”
A black that’s deeper than hell descends on him as he passes out. The Battlecar takes over, automated systems checking his vital signs, needles slipping into veins. He wakens briefly as he coughs a gobbet of blood onto his chest, and a galaxy bursts behind his eyelids.