"On the Side of the Angels": In the Canadian Government's secret facility, Nelson Jent finds himself under attack by both the Centipede and another dial user whose identity is currently the Bristol Bloodhound. As the Glimpse, though, Nelson is
- It's bad enough sharing the dial without being hunted by Canadian psychos. It's vital we can both power up. We have to try this thing.
- -- Roxie Hodder
Appearing in "On the Side of the Angels"
- The Glimpse
- Bristol Bloodhound
- The Centipede
- General Choler
- Thomas Edison (Flashback only)
- The Exchange
Synopsis for "On the Side of the Angels"
In the Canadian Government's secret facility, Nelson Jent finds himself under attack by both the Centipede and another dial user whose identity is currently the Bristol Bloodhound. As the Glimpse, though, Nelson is invisible to most everybody except the Centipede (whose new helmet allows him to see a wider spectrum of light), and the Bloodhound, who can smell him. However, the Bloodhound will not respond to the Centipede's commands, and essentially freezes in place. Rather than let Nelson escape, the Centipede shoots him in the leg, prompting Nelson to call out for help. Obediently - and to Nelson's confusion - the Bristol Bloodhound slings him over his shoulder and they escape together.
They rendezvous later with Roxie Hodder, who is concerned that Nelson will soon lose his own identity completely thanks to his addiction to H-dialing. Glad to see that he is aware of his own self when she finds him, Roxie embraces Nelson with relief. In the meantime, the man who was Bristol Bloodhound has since returned to his former self. He is Warrant Officer Mason Jones, and it appears that his dial has fried his brain to the point that he is subservient and confused. All he will do is follow orders and ramble vaguely - but he doesn't have any information to offer them, and Nelson worries that this second dial may do to them what it did to Jones. Even so, Roxie decides to try it for herself - to see what it can do.
She is surprised to find that the dial doesn't even work, and Nelson wonders how it could have worked for Jones before. The problem is explained when Jones mumbles that he has been ordered to dial 7-4-3-3 for Hero. At first, they wonder how that could work, since the number for Hero is 4-3-7-6. When Nelson grabs the dial and has a look at it, he realizes with some amusement that 7-4-3-3 spells "SIDE", not "HERO". This dial is for sidekicks. Jones had been waiting around for his hero to show up and give him orders, and when Nelson appeared, he finally had them.
Elsewhere, the Centipede files the documents he stole from Roxie's office in the government's warehouse full of Dial lore. Roxie thought her research was the most extensive in existence, but she was wrong. She had done all kinds of research on where to find other dials, but never looked into where they came from.
Years ago, Thomas Edison had been visited by an H-Dialler, though it had not been his first encounter with such a person. The visitor had taken the dial that 'O' had left for him, but demanded that his own dial be repaired. Unfortunately, Edison's knowledge of the technology had not advanced far enough, and without O's guidance, he could do nothing.
The Centipede interrogates the leader of the Church of the Dial from France, who is surprised to see a painting of the Exile of the Operator from the Exchange. The Centipede reveals that the one he met earlier was not an angel of the dial, but a thief who stole the dial she wore. He claims that the real angels of the dial want to punish her, and as such, they will need his help. That help will require that he send a message to the emissaries of the dial by praying.
After putting Jones into a cab to the emergency room, Roxie and Nelson debate over how they should make use of the S-Dial, as the power dynamic could be an issue. To Roxie's surprise, Nelson volunteers to be the sidekick, admitting that his heroic exploits have been taking a toll on his identity, and that he trusts her to keep him in line.
With Roxie as Manteau and Nelson as a hero called Copter, the pair of them decide to take out some simple thugs, so that they can get the hang of the new dynamic. For Nelson, the experience is different than usual, but somehow it feels relieving to be filled with trust and a compulsion for obedience. As the night goes on, Nelson follows Roxie's orders with pleasure, and her reminders of who he really is beneath the dialed hero are reassuring.
Upon returning home, they take stock of their experience, and both felt great giving and taking orders, and sharing a sense of trust. Nelson admits that he likes working under Roxie, because she keeps him true to himself. Looking him in the eyes, she encourages him to stop following her orders and do just what he wants to do. In response, he kisses her passionately.
- This book was first published on March 6, 2013.
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