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Compiled May 2001

The Guardians

by Mike Picray

armorThe Guardians watched and waited. The Light still burned in the tiny window way up on the side of the tower. The Light. It was the only indication the Guardians had that there was anyone there. The Light went on and off. Of course, they had their faith that She was up there: faith that was occasionally buttressed by the flutters of paper that sailed out the window. Papers with writing on them. Writing that began in the middle, and ended before the end. Writing that the Guardians called "snippets."

Of late, their faith was being tested. The snippets came less and less frequently and when they did, the Guardians needed to be alert. Of late, the snippets were so big that a person could be injured if one were to hit him as they sailed from the window to the ground, to be immediately devoured by the Snippet Hounds who also kept watch. But their faith held. They were, after all, the Inner Circle of Guardians. those trusted few who kept vigil.

They'd noticed that the number of posts were growing smaller and less frequent. The posts were their main source of sustenance between Major Releases. They faithfully put up posts of their own, hoping to catch Her interest. On those occasions where they were successful, a post would come sailing through the window with either a bit of transfixed wisdom attached to the end, or to impale a stray bit of wit wandering around the posting grounds.

Taken together, the signs could only mean one thing. either a Major Release was imminent, or something BIG was going on. Several days ago a post had sailed through the window hinting at Great Things and Coming Wonders. The level of interest and excitement had been rising since. The atmosphere was becoming electrified. Something was in the air. People, people not of the Guardians were gathering and watching the tiny light in the tiny window. What ever it was, it would have to be soon. The Snippet Hounds were getting very thin.

The Lady paused as she left the tower, having made sure all locks were in place (and she had her keys). What was that sound? So plaintive...



by Uriel, Julie, Mike Picray, Jihane Billacois, Picky and J'sBF

detectiveAnd so it began....

The reflection of the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling blinded me and hid the squiggles on the keys. I was tryin' ta type my report when 'da dame walked in.

"Are you Sgt Hanson?"

I looked her up and down, then looked again. She was a looker, alright. Only problem she had, the one thing that made her way off of perfect was...

...the dark muzzle of the gun she had pointed at my head.

"Hanson? No, ma'am. He left for donuts. I'm Rang-nar. Visiting from the Norwegian Consultate. For reasons of no particular relevance at the moment, I came here in search of the murderer of my brother and remained as unlikely liason to the NYPD --"

"Are you Sgt. Hanson?"

A looker alright. But hardly a listener. Still, babes like this weren't a dime a dozen in my part of the world, so I waved her to a chair. "You're welcome to wait," I says out the corner of my mouth. They talk like that in NY and I'm practicing for my NY language exams.

She didn't buy it. I could tell by the way she...

...curled her lip and snarled in my general direction. She reminded me of a convenience store clerk who took the job for the money, not for the convenience.

I made a weak attempt at flattery. "That's a nice piece you got there." It didn't flatten her, but she did put the gun down. Point one for me.

"I was told I could find Sgt. Hanson in this office. If you aren't Hanson, then where is he? And who are you?"

Boy! She really had a listening problem. "My name is Hansen. H-a-n-s-E-n. Spelled different, totally different person. Everybody mixes us up. And I said Hanson went out for donuts. Is there a message I can give him when he gets back?" I said this hoping the message wasn't a hollowpoint at close range.

"Yeah," she said. "You can tell him that Evie Schroedinger stopped by. He's never met me, but I heard he's been asking around for me. I get nervous when cops ask around for me." She put the gun in her purse. Another step in the right direction.

I had asked a few people in the club scene about Evie, discretely, I thought. Obviously I thought wrong.. What I wanted to ask now was: who ratted me out? "Being nervous with a .38 in your hand ain't a good thing," I told her.

She blushed, and replied, "You would be nervous too if your... found out you visited those kinds of places. Mine... well mine are a little conservative. If they ever found out I had been there, let alone some was..."

Waving her hand, I suddenly pieced together the nagging burr in the back of my head with this whole picture before me.

Her hands were as smooth a Casanova opening line, and about as used to working hard. She had all the marks. Gun that belonged in a museum, hands that looked manicured at places I couldn't afford to stand downwind of. Great. Ear problems, and I just /bet/ she had attitude.

But for a look at those eyes, I suppose I could sit still a little longer.

"So. Evie, you make a great conversationalist. First words out of your mouth usually 'Die' when you meet new people? Surprising you have friends at all to talk. Want to tell me what you think Hanson wanted to find you for?"

I couldn't help it. I'd given up smoking a year ago, but I sure could have used one now. The way she twitched, and made my back twitch in time, I could have used just about anything to calm the sense of... well face it. Doom.

Looking up, she faced me from across the room, an angel about to reveal demonic intentions, I was fairly sure. But then... I liked a little flame.

"Well, I'm fairly certain, from the people he asked, that Hanson wasn't looking for me. I /think/ he was looking for..."

.... my identical twin brother. He goes around making messes and I have to clean them up. Isn't that just like a man?"

"Whoa! You said your...?"

"Yes. My identical twin brother. We've been twins since birth, but are very different."

"Well," I looked her up and down again with just a hint, about a ton's worth, of suspicion now. She maybe wasn't looking quite so good in light of recent revelations. "Well, I would hope so if he's your twin brother. You mean fraternal twin, though, don't you?" I said with all the hope that was in me.

"Oh, no. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. He's my identical twin brother."

I looked at her/him/it again. There was too much showing for doubt that she was a she. That meant that the "brother" wasn't... maybe. But then it's a strange world and there are things that I haven't seen. So I asked her. "If you are a dame, and he's your identical twin, doesn't that make him a dame too?"


I started to laugh. Right there was the answer. She was too dumb to know the difference between identical and fraternal. Maybe she'd gotten it confused as a kid and no body had ever straightened her out. Well... far be it from me to fix what her parents, friends and neighbors had done for what appeared to be about 27 years. She was reaching in her purse, where the gun was, when I stopped laughing. She stopped reaching. I felt the sweat role down my back and under my shorts. I'd have given anything to scratch just then, but I didn't dare. She might think I was going for a piece in a belt holster and I didn't plan to get plugged for sweat in a crack, no matter how much it tickled.

"So." I says. "How would you like me to go see if I can find this HansOn guy?"

"No! I mean, thank you, but no. If you are telling me the truth, he should be along shortly. How long does it take to get donuts?"

How long... this trip could take a life time... mine if I wasn't careful. "Well, now. That depends on where he went to get them. I've seen times when he couldn't find the maple frosted ones that he likes and be gone for days! So, what are you going to do with him when he shows up?"

She gave me a hot, slow look. "What does any woman do with a handsome man?"

The trickle of sweat became a small stream. "Not being a dame myself, I couldn't really coment on the handsome part. As for the rest, I know of several things. I've seen them shoot them, stab them, hit them over the head with blunt objects. As I said, several things."

Her laughter lit up the office and made the light bulb burn out in jealousy. "You are a funny man, Mr. Hanson!"

I almost bit, but I been around too long for that one. "Uhhh, that's H-a-n-s-E-n, Hansen. NOT HansOn."

She leered at me. "Of course, I knew that. How silly of me. Would you like to play a little game while we wait?"

I cleared my throat but my voice squeaked out anyway. "What," I cleared my throat and lowered my voice a few dozen octaves. "What did you have in mind?"

"Oh," She blinked lazily while looking under her eyebrows, "I thought we could play Mancala for points. Loser says who they really are."

"Who they really are?" I asked.

"Yes, Mr. Hansen. Who they really are."

I wasn't much good at Mancala. I hadn't actually played since my last trip to Africa, but that's another story.

"Sure. Mancala it is." I was dying to know who this dame really was. I hoped it was just figuratively.

To Volume 7.1
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