“After a long silence, Dodge cleared his throat. "I think I speak for all of us when I say, 'Huh?'"
“Whatever power I have is nothing if I can't use it to keep safe those who mean the most to me.”
“And even, if circumstances required, a contingency plan for his contingency plan's contingency plan.”
“Queen Alyss, my guards have discovered something you should see."
Her face had relaxed at the sight of him, but her brow at once contracted, her lips thinned with tension.
We've found evidence of suspicious activity in the palace," he said.
What sort of activity?"
You might want to step this way and see for youself. I apologize in advance for you having to set foot in a gaurdsman's quaters."
He led her into his rooms. The boyish portrait of Sir Justice, the fire crystals in the hearth, the elegantly arrayed table: Alyss blinked in puzzlement.
What is all this?"
My best guess, You Majesty, is that it's breakfast, but I can't be sure until we taste it.”
“Molly wants to know her father's name," Arch said to them. "Why don't you give her a hint?"
His first name with 'splatter,'" said Ripkins.
And 'matter'," said Blister.
Also 'fatter,'" said Ripkins.
Likewise 'chatter'," added Blister.
And his surname?" Arch asked.
It rhymes with 'that again'," said Ripkins.
And 'Flanagan," put in Blister.
Also, um...'pad a fin'?" offered Ripkins.
Arch and Blister looked at him.
'Pannikin!'" he said proudly.
Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Molly screamed. "You don't know what you're talking about!”
“For now. But if I ever decide you're useless, you are a dead man."
To be killed by you is to be desired more than a life excluded from your service."
Bravo." Her Imperial Viciousness laughed with genuine feeling. "Bra-vo!”
“Well now," the scholar went on, "I'm just an old fuddy-duddy who could use a tan, so you needn't grant my opinion any authority, but I consider the queendom lucky that a handful of Milliners and their children lived incognito among the population during Redd's tyranny.”
“Having been away from you offical duties," Arch said as the Miller's hand lowered to his side, "you might not have hearc, but I've developed a weapon capable of destroying all of Boaderland, Wonderland, Morgavia, Unterlan and who knows what else. I call it WILMA, which stands for Weapon of Inconceivable Loss and Massive Annihilation. It also happens to be the name of one of my former wives, who had to be put down on account of her feisty temper.”
“A Glass Eye leaped out from behind a parcked smail-trasport, blocked thier way. "Did you drop something?" Dodge asked the assassian. "Caus I think I see you..." he unheathed his sword and swung, decapitating the Glass Eye in one blow, "...head over there.”
“I'd had a cold that day and wasn't as powerful as usual, otherwise Alyss would never have done so well," Redd said as, in the alcove, the final image dissolved. She blew at the cloud and it drifted out into the crypt. "Has a malicious ruler ever suffered more? I think not.”
“The only reason I don't kill him," he remember the woman saying, her voice sounding like the scrape of iron against iron, a corrosion of vocal cords, "is because he's not important enough.”
“When I give the go ahead, go ahead," Alyss said, the jungle gym having come to a stop less than a gwormmy-length from her face.
What? the four General Doppels cried at once.
Run when I say so.”
“What. Are. Thooooooose?" the walrus moaned.
On the holo-screen airing the happenings in Genevieve Square, a swarm of scorpspitters released by the Glass Eyes was scuttling toward Alyss and the other. Never before had a Wonderlander seen these scorpion-like contraptions that could bullets of deadly poison from their "tails"--not even Bibwit, who assumed they were the latest in a long line of armaments invented by Redd. But before a single scorpspitter curled its tail into a C to take aim at the queen, she imagined into existance a horde of disembodied boots with steel-plated soles, which hovered monetarily in the air, then--
With a slight nod, she brought them down hard, stomping the scorpspitters flat, squishing their armor-crapaces and making absract art of their wiry guts.
Ooh, now why can't Queen Alyss do that to the Glass Eyes?" the walrus-bulter cried.”
“Redd stared at the bald head bent down before her. How refreshing Vollrath's sacrifice was. He didn't beg for his life. He didn't embarrasss himself with groveling or sniveling, or appeals to her nomexistent mercy. Thinking that he might still be helpful in finding her Looking Glass Maze, she said, "I'm feeling generous today. You get to live.”
“As members of my cabinet," Alyss calmly explained, "you share in the responsibilty of ensuring a safe furture for Wonderland. I'm sure the four of you will agree that we're in a crisis and that trying times bring out the best in you. What queen wouldn't want such helpful cabinet members by her side in an hour of need? Forgive me for calling you here. I was thinking only of myself and others when I did it. But for the love of your rank if nothing else, advise me. How do you think we should conter this invasion?"
Uh," said the Lady of Clubes.
I know exactly how we should counter it! said her husband. "First and foremost, a decree must be at once...decreed! All ranking families are to remain indoors and well-protected until it can be guaranteed that every threat is violence is past! It's imperative that nothing inconvenient happen to us, for the population would then have no one to look up to!”
“You don't like my dress?"
The vines of Reed's couture streched toward the tutor, the rose's petal-mouths chomping.
It isn't that, Your Imperial Viciousness. The earthlings will not understand you. Not understanding you, they will be frightened and send their petty authorities to apprehend you."
Of course they'll fail. That isn't the point. But you'll have to wast engery dealing with them instead of concentrating on your niece's destruction. I doubt that the way to achive your aim is to spread your strength across many fronts so that, when it's time to battle Alyss, you many not be at the peak of your powers. Your niece, I gather, shouldn't be underestimated."
Vollrath hadn't graduated from the Tutor Corps for nothing. "I don't like when sound reasoning counters my wishes," Redd hissed.”
“It had been an annoyingly peacful time in Boarderland, Blister cranky and despressed because he hadn't filled anyone with pus for nearly an enitre lunar cycle.”
“What do you want to do with me?" she asked.
You had an unpleasant tumble." He nodded toward the unfamiliar creatures. "My Ganmede friends and I are nursing you back to health, that's all."
By drugging me?"
(Molly and Arch)”
“If wearing this rag will in any way speed the process of gathering my furture soldiers, then I will waer it. But if it doesn't..."
Vollrath bowed. "I will subject myself to your temper."
You'll have no choice.”
“You see, I’m not above helping an unfortunate soul find new purpose in life…so long as it benefits me”
“My ministers have informed me that Alyss is ridding her land of Glass Eyes."
Overriding the imperative that Redd embedded in them is harder than she thought," added Ripkins.
In other words, they're designed to kill and nothing more."
The bodygaurds bowed that this was so.
Perhaps the trick is not the override their imperative," Arch mused, "but the reprogram them to acknowledge a differnent master. Everyone in Woderland--even the otherwise rebellious Redd Heart--is, was, or always has been occupied with inventing things. But what good are things if there no clever schemes in which to use them? I putthings to unexpected and imaginative use."
“Redd stared at the bald head bent down before her. How refreshing Vollrath's sacrifice was. He didn't beg for his life. He didn't embarrasss himself with groveling or sniveling, or appeals to her nomexistent mercy.”
“Redd's lact of knowledge astounded the tutor. Did she really understand so little about how a Wonderland princess became queen?
She doesn't know what she doesn't know," he mumbled, and then: "Your Imperial Viciousness, perhpas we should speak face-to-face, without this velvet barrier between us. Are you decent?"
I'm never decent!”
“41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
“Joe lulls the man into the afterlife, places his head gently on the ground, closes the lids over his empty eyes, retrieves his gun and continues to fight for a freedom he would never be fully entitled to.”
“It was her work of art, her poem and her prayer, to repeat this story, low and precipitately, as if she were in the confessional. You felt that she came to it quite naturally, without transition, so completely did it posses her whenever they were alone.”
“Having sex multiple times on the first sleepover does not count as more than one “date”…”
“Then he just blurted it out, with no preparation. 'The truth of it is that whether your mother arranged our marriage, or whether it was all an illusion, I must be horribly obtuse, because I can't talk myself out of being in love with you.”
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