Chapter 9

Wandering alone along the streets of Miami, waiting for the sun to thrust itself out of the Atlantic Ocean, was a young woman named Natasha Romanov. Natasha was sad because she was so beautiful and lonely, and her day planner full of lists of men who were pining over her was getting worn out. Natasha was wearing smart person clothing, but all of that would end when she was to pick up the cursed blade, HELL BREAKER. In a moment of whimsy, she picked it up, but immediately she was transformed, her sensible and sad clothing turning into a black leather skirt with iridium studs, and a black halter top that showed her awesome cleavage, and a necklace that shone of white metal, formed into the face of a leering skull. Her hair, already the jettest of black, became ramjet black, and the dark highlights in it became dark enough to suck in your soul, like a big box grocery store attracting customers with candy bars as loss leaders.

Natasha grinned, feeling the raw power of HELL BREAKER course through her arms. Which had suddenly become tanned, like she had spent the summer climbing mountains in fierce deserts, instead of at home watching television and crying.

Her earrings, which were just little aquamarine plastic balls that she found at K-Mart on clearance, and which were her default sensible earrings, changed to a slightly different shade of aquamarine, because the power of HELL BREAKER only went so far.

But Chapter 9 isn't about Natasha: we are actually returning back to the convention floor, where Mike Gravel and Michelle are standing on a balcony, waiting for the rising of the sun. They were talking and joking as the events of the night threatened to overwhelm them, with those events being much more overwhelming for Mike then they were for Michelle. But actually, getting to see Michelle was more exciting for him than walking across the ocean. He had even forgotten to light up a cigar, but that is good, because all of his cigars were just pieces of kelp, and while I might not know a lot about women, I know that the smell of burning kelp doesn't really do much for them.

Originally, I was going to have the woman not be Michelle at all, but just be some woman that Mike thought was Michelle. But then I figured, Mike is the hero of the story, right? And he needs a break, so why jerk him around? What type of author would I be to set him up and knock him down? Exactly.

Mike Gravel and Michelle sipped ice tea, and together they softly harmonized all the songs of the sixties. For the first time in years, the grumpiness of Mike went away.

Requited love is boring.

Upstairs, Tim Duncan responded, that as everyone knew, that since Chester Arthur had become President long before the passage of the 25th Amendment, he had no vice-president. The men in the room, tired as they were, were surprised that this was known, and the ringleader patted him on the back and said “Have a cigar” which of course was the exact wrong thing to say to Tim Duncan, and then said that whoever answered that question was the rightful ruler of the United States. Despite the allusion to The Sword in the Stone, Tim Duncan was far from impressed.

“Verily, beware!” said Tim Duncan, switching to his medieval voice, “Do not set out a snare for the common man, do not trip him! The road to rule is the road to ruin! The humble man would rather serve than lead!” and then he added: “Also, I am making more money with the Spurs”, he turned and left the room, and Handsome Dan, who looked less handsome now, muttering to himself, towed along behind him.

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