20 5 4

The Carstle rumbled South on Highway 680. In the driver's seat, Philo worried about Indra and what kind of shape she'd be in when they found her. Across from him in the passenger seat, J.D. was quiet. Behind them, Axel and Alex sat on the refrigerator box that Philo had converted into a shelter for Lost Randoms.

On the San Mateo Bridge, the twins started climbing around inside the Carstle, opening trapdoors and poking their heads out of the tops of the various towers and cranking down windows to look out at the various mechanical details of the Carstle. The wind kept shifting and whipping around. Several times Philo grabbed his hat to keep it from going out the drivers' side window.

Just West of the San Mateo Bridge there were two overpasses with fifteen-foot clearance, so Philo twisted in his seat and yelled back to the twins, "Doors closed and heads down, guys! Overpass ahead!"

They got under the overpasses without a hitch, got on Highway 101 and headed North. But they hadn't gotten past the airport yet when J.D. sat up in her seat, staring ahead of them. "Oh ... wow ... " she said.

"What up?" Philo asked her.

"Something ... over there ... " and J.D pointed north, toward the SOMA district and the downtown. "It's like a dream-storm, only... I .... " As they drove north, J.D. tried several times to explain the feeling of Aphrodite Rising, but she couldn't do it.

They got off the Highway at fourth street, took Mission Street across to second, and turned south, heading toward South Park. J.D's eyes had gone glassy.


It had been hard to find a proper pilot for the helicopter. A complete numbskull would have been nice, since he'd be unlikely to be affected (or for that matter noticed) by the target. But Dover wouldn't be able to calm a complete numbskull down if and when he had to pull out the rifle, either.

So he'd picked the pilot who had love in his life and a happy family at home. If he didn't share in the need for love and the loneliness, Aphrodite wouldn't likely notice him.

And he'd also picked the oldest and most mechanically unreliable helicopter available, precisely because its mechanical problems had made it the focus of more care and work than all the others, had made it far better shelter. It was the same reason why so many art cars were built around vehicles that had mechanical problems, and why so many of the builders had such a record of picking lemons to buy, although the vast majority of them didn't realize it.

So here he was, riding into danger in the most unreliable helicopter he could find, sitting next to the man who'd be most sorely missed by his family should the mission fail. Dover shook his head. It really was a nasty business when the people you had to use were good.

They circled high, and Dover looked down at the police cars converging on the scene, then dropped down rapidly, so the pilot could switch on his PA and give his announcement:

"This is an unlawful assembly. You do not have a
parade permit and the crowd is blocking several
streets. Please go back to your homes. I repeat,
please go back to your homes. This is an unlawful
assembly. If you do not disperse and get off the
public streets, the police will disperse this
assembly in ten minutes."

Then the Helicopter gained some altitude again. Dover knew the announcement had been completely ignored by the crowd. But the announcement had to be made, or the pilot would never carry through with the next part of Dover's plan. As for Dover, although he could feel Aphrodite Rising better than most of them could, he knew what he had to do, and he held firmly to his purpose.

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