"What's with Charity? She's usually so bubbly and outgoing…"
"Oh, teenage drama. She was cursed last week to fall helplessly in love with this handsome young vampire from Pennsylvania, so naturally she's upset that it can't work out because she's not Jewish."
"…Is that all?"
"Well, and her period's starting…"
"Just this," said Julie, indicating a bag of Len's Special Granola and withdrawing a $5 bill.
"Fine," said Len. "Though I should warn you, there's nothing actually in there but a bunch of rusty nail filings and some used kitty litter."
"Oh, that's okay," said Julie. "The bill's counterfeit anyway."
"A D.S.O. for military espionage, eh?" said Major Allen, and spat. "And they say you Immortals deplore bloodshed. Bloody hypocrites, that's what you lot are."
Styniak just smiled thinly. "Major," he said, "when you've been stoned by a Tyrian mob for refusing to burn their babies alive, then we'll talk."
"But, Sahib," Savitri ventured, "if our region is home to an enormous Maurya statue of the Sleeping Buddha, why have we never seen it?"
The Professor chuckled. "Just because it's so enormous, my dear," he replied.
Savitri cocked her head. "Meaning…?"
"Your village lies within the crook of its elbow."
"Alas, Lady," said Rekkitodos, "to obtain the Silver Oriole, one must scale a mountain of pure fire, cross a bridge made from a single hair, enter a castle without door or window, and defeat a giant whom Death himself fears to molest."
Jeanne grinned. "So you're saying it's obtainable, then."
"Look, it's perfectly simple. A loves B, but B loves C, who in turn cares only for D. Only, D is secretly married to E, who…"
"…so X unites with Snee against Itch and M, who…"
"Wait – who's Itch, again?"
"W's illegitimate child by Floob. Try to keep up, Tom."
"You've located the fallen Jovian capsule?" said Spooner.
"Is it somewhere we can get to?"
"Sure," said Lanzi. "It'll be a walk in the park."
"Specifically," Lanzi continued, "in India's Sundarbans National Park, home to the world's largest population of wild Bengal tigers. Bring a tranq gun."
She on Mount Kosciusko did speak:
"O ye rocks of the uttermost peak!
'Tis Malissima's will
That you tumble downhill
And knock Jindabyne into next week!"
Resolutely did Nature obey –
To her somewhat belated dismay,
For the rocks, once dislodged,
Were not readily dodged,
And the avalanche swept her away.
"Images in a Mirror?" Karl guffawed. "Other Nobelians have invisibility or super-speed, and you can… what, reflect things? Make people see themselves? Pitiful! Absolutely…"
Then he stopped abruptly, and flushed. "Boorish, that was," he murmured. "Forgive me, Sonja."
Sonja Undset smiled. "That's all right," she said. "Everyone make mistakes sometimes."
Derek stared sympathetically down at his cousin's drooping pigtails. Sure, if things had been like her mother said lately, he could understand her being a little sullen and crabby. He could understand everything… except…
"The vampire is Jewish?" he said.
"Benjamin Isaac Nathanson," said Charity dully. "What do you think?"