"Plan Joab". While I'm ignorant of the enemy's precise plans, I have my own plan to counteract his influence. He's influencing fundamentalists in the Islamic world... so I'm planning to reduce the influence of fundamentalists in the Christian world. That way, when the inevitable backlash against religious fundamentalism comes, Christianity will barely notice.
- I've got a friend Judy, who lives near me in Douglas, Massachusetts. I met her during those robot attacks. Afterwards, we got to talking late on Friday nights, in her kitchen with pots of decaf coffee and the occasional glass of white zinfadel. She's raising three nieces, and envies me my life of adventure. Well, I've got a proposition for her.
- Judy and I are conspiring to strip some Pharisee-like fundamentalist church ladies of their valuables. We call it "Plan Joab", named after a righteous but ruthless Israelite commander in the time of King David. I'd feel better with an actress like Mackenzie Phillips, but Judy's doing fine. The plan calls for travel; I might make it to Honolulu. (11 September 2001)
- Meanwhile, Thanos for some reason has a similar plan, only targeted at silly Wiccans. He has a new self-help book out. A woman I used to work with in Texas acted as front-woman and co-author. I'd download it, but it's at least 40 Mb of Web pages.
- The cyber-cafe I'm downloading from, doubles as a Wiccan prayer chamber and strip joint. The secret tunnels are supposedly for the priestesses, but they lead to performance stages.
One woman glides through the chamber with a broom, then leaves it there. I pick up the broom under my arm, and fly out. I can barely clear the barbed-wire fence.
But it still beats hanging around until Thanos comes back and finds out I wouldn't read his book. (12 September 2001)
- Afterward, I still have to travel to keep my plan going. And since I'm dealing with Christian fundamentalists, the travel involves Israel. Oh joy. I think human history would have been greatly improved if the place had sunk into the ocean in 71 AD.
- But at least travel there is easy. Thanks to Reed Richards technology, the Block Island Ferry now sails there from Providence, Rhode Island.
- But Israel's no fun to visit right now, since they're on high alert for terrorism. They actually have some shopping malls, but they're all boarded up, and there's just one seedy sports bar on the main road. I'd better not miss the ferry home. (14 September 2001)
- Meanwhile, our mysterious opponent is winning. For every two contacts I make, he talks one out of it. And I have no idea where to find this guy. On occasion I have a "tracking" superpower, which I try out on the guy, but it never works.
- And he's found out how to threaten my friends. Some teenage punk invades Judy's home one night, apparently to trash her stuff. She actually manages to restrain him for five minutes, while one of her nieces calls for help. He still gets away, but at least the police and some neighbors see him escape. Otherwise, I suspect they might have denied the whole thing. As it is, they're awfully slow about tracking this kid.
- But one day I get a break. It's a scary break, but a break none the less. My superpower of the day is, "Body of Unobtainium".
- Many heroes of my world, including Ellipsis, get powers from skin contact with a super-molecule named "Unobtainium". It's a time-honored science fiction name, that people decided to use in "real" life - well, as real as life gets, anyway. It's a compound involving one of those hypothetical "Isle of Stability" heavy atoms that are really hard to synthesize.
- It should be radioactive, and it actually is, but only into alternate dimensions. Like I said, a super-molecule.
- Well, now I can make my entire body out of it. All I have to do is feel myself grow cold and hard, and wonder what will happen to my brain.
- Of course, even if I go through with it, it's only half the solution, because then I have no skin...and it takes skin contact with Unobtainium to activate its powers. But luckily, Judy has skin (albeit still bruised a bit from the home invasion), and she has a bikini, and she tells me if she can go through with wearing that, I should be able to come through with the rest.
- So we change. For me it's like falling asleep... but then I wake up when she touches me.
- Unobtainium is known to grant powers of energy transference, matter transmutation, and telekinesis to those who touch it. But now I know, if you gather enough of it in one place, it not only grants mental powers, it is mental powers with their own personality. And those powers and personality are now me. So that's what happens to my brain.
- Together we are now the most powerful being that has existed in the world since... well, since I met a major practitioner of Jehovahpower last year. Judy and I now have the power to focus a practically unlimited amount of energy anywhere in the world - just like a lens with no limits. And we now know where it needs focusing.
- The news reports the next day, there are an unprecedented number of apparent suicide bombers who apparently got set off early. Investigators can't find any trace of the explosives they used, though. It's as if they spontaneously combusted.
- Shortly after, I get some e-mail from an "Adosti Imaginus". He says he surrenders... on condition we have a "wrap party" for all the combatants and their proxies, including himself plus Thanos and his Texas friend.
- There's a party at my boss's house anyway, so I join up with it and invite my target audience. He's cool with that. And the targets get that much more motivation to behave.
- It starts out pretty slow. But then one of my cow-orkers (oops, I misspelled "co-workers") brings a tree whose bark is psychedelic. He smokes the bark; I eat it. Naturally, Thanos and Adosti Imaginus have to take that challenge too.
- After that, things pick up.
- One cow-orker throws some gifts around unintentionally. I catch the best one, as acclaimed by the crowd. If there's a contest, I'm ahead.
- Then Judy and I have a pillow fight and blanket tug of war with Thanos and his girlfriend. Of course, his team wins, because he's a superpowered alien cyborg or something, and I'm just me. Afterwards, he wins against Adosti Imaginus and his consort too.
- But still, there seems to be a contest on, with me and Thanos equal at 1 to 1. Adosti Imaginus evens it up, by correctly identifying the most obscure Eastern European songs since 1990.
- So, there's a tiebreaker. We take a test with questions like "Unlikeliest Movie Title", to which I answer "Moofus the Maharajah-Jumper in Judah". I win!
- We get to sleep around 7 am - which is about when I have to go home and pack for California, because "Plan Joab" is still in force. There's still a need for fundamentalists to be whittled down, and there are still some fundamentalist targets there. And I'm still on duty for this mission. Boy, this sucks. (9 November 2001)
- But at least Judy and I actually survive the party, and I find out that Mr. Imaginus looks a lot like M.A.N.I.C. 6, which I met at Perth Amboy in the year of the Biggest Wave. And since I won, he says, he and Thanos are now honor-bound to leave me alone. Yeah, well, we'll see how long that lasts.
Foreign Affairs. The Towers are down, so we have an international incident. And apparently during my own Plan Joab I've been so effective in fighting foreign menaces, I've been noticed by those who notice secret things. While I'm globehopping, the U.S. Government enlists me to help deal with it.
- I start out by accompanying some Ameritech coders in a political mission to China. We're supposed to talk about anything but Chinese relations, to impress the leadership with the breadth of American knowledge. (15 September 2001)
- Back in Speedway, there's a new Chamber of Horrors behind the shopping center. It has carnivorous plants, but I can vault over them with my new stick.
But then there's a terrorist alarm to evacuate. I help a little girl out, then look back up. The terrorists look like South Park figures, complete with swollen heads, huge eyes, and legs merged together so they have to slide around. Outside, everyone looks like that now, even Bill Cosby who's visiting. They're even talking about some kid's fat ass. It must have been some terrorist chemical attack or something. (17 September 2001)
- I know things are serious, when I get the Jehovahpower again, just so I can make sure Jesus Christ doesn't get his hands dirty all alone on the Judgment Day. Or at least he's rehearsing for it; he's going back home to the Middle East, to trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. I'd better take notes. (26 September 2001)
- As it would happen, The Man is not bent on destruction. He's gone back to Israel, to re-teach the lesson of the Good Samaritan. Even back in his day, the supposedly righteous people of Israel had to deal with heathens who lived among them. The lesson is, the heathens might actually be helpful if they're treated right.
- Afterwards, air travel is easier than I thought it might be. I can leave for the airport 2 hours before the flight, and walk into the gate area straight from my car without a ticket, with all my carry-ons. Maybe it's because of that divine intervention in Israel... or maybe it's that diplomatic pass I have now. (1 October 2001)
- The U.N. Security Council is putting the U.S. on trial for hate crimes. But for some reason, they want it "town meeting" style. My church is providing its basement for the session, and sending representatives to act as "town population".
- Why my church, in my town? Well, it was briefly the center of world civilization.
- One of my friends says we're screwed. But I think we can set up a subcommittee for U.S. evidence, then open a tribunal for each other country in the world. Colin Powell likes my idea, and proceeds with it in an inspiring public address. (2 October 2001)
- While everyone expected a strike on Afghanistan, U.S. and allied forces cleared the Mediterranean of terrorist bases in one day. Way to go, Free World! (3 October 2001)
Way to go, Hillary!
- As for Afghanistan, President Rodham has gotten all its neighbor countries to close its borders. Entirely. Except for criminals - who can only go in. Nothing else comes in or out. Entirely legal by international law. Let their drug lords eat opium. Let their terrorists eat bullets.
- It's just like this old science fiction story I read once named "Coventry", wherein convicted criminals could choose to separate themselves from society, and get sent to a dumping ground. The Islamic world is treating Afghanistan like their dumping ground right now, so why should not the rest of us do this.
Me in Comic Books: