|— Book of Job Chapter 30, verses 29-30 (Job 30:29-30)|
Laurie Juspeczyk explores Dan Dreiberg's basement and finds the airship he flew as Nite Owl II; its interior lights are turned on. She climbs into the cockpit and looks for a cigarette lighter on the dashboard. When she hits a button, a flamethrower engages on the front of the airship and lights Dan's basement on fire. Dan hears her screaming from upstairs and briefly recalls Rorschach’s warnings about a “mask-killer.” He sprints down to the basement, realizes Laurie is okay, and helps her put out the fire. Laurie apologizes profusely, but Dan isn’t angry, only relieved.
They look at all of the technological vigilante equipment in Dan’s basement together. He thinks it all seems like childhood “fantasy” now. Laurie thinks that she wasn’t even living out her own fantasy, just her mother’s. They climb up to the airship and Dan holds Laurie’s hands for a few seconds after helping her aboard, until she asks him to let go. Laurie pokes around while Dan checks all the onboard systems and explains how the airship has no corners or edges, so it’s invisible to radar.
Laurie states she ought to stop smoking, since it nearly killed her, but it’s hard to give up an addiction when she feels so restless. Dan states he had to give up his own addictive habit of running around in a costume. He used to get “cravings” for the romance of it, but the loss of it doesn’t bother him anymore. However, Dan still has a hard time getting rid of all his old gear. They climb down from the airship, which he reveals is named Archie, short for Merlin’s owl Archimedes. Dan tells Laurie that when he first started out, he was “rich” and “bored” and it all felt exciting. But after a while, he realized the Comedian was right: the costumes and the antics are just “flash and thunder” and don’t really change the world. For some people, like Rorschach, the costumes made them insane.
Dan and Laurie keep looking through his old stuff, since she seems interested and eager. He shows her his night vision goggles and turns out the lights. As they start to go back upstairs, Dan asks Laurie if she misses Jon. She says that she ought to, but she was already “lonely” when she lived with him; life doesn’t feel any different without him. Dan says that he’s been lonely too and almost puts his arm around Laurie, but he stops at the last second. They go upstairs to have coffee and watch the news. Dan mentions that he thinks Rorschach’s alleged murder of Moloch seems odd, since one bullet to the head is not as dramatic as Rorschach normally is.
On the news, the anchor talks about Rorschach’s arrest—his landlady claims that he often sexually propositioned her—and the Soviet incursion into Pakistan. Laurie wishes she could just run away like Jon did. Dan takes his glasses off to clean them and Laurie tells him he looks “ravishing” without them. She kisses him. They start to have sex on the couch, while Ozymandias performs a gymnastic routine on TV. However, Dan embarrassingly realizes he’s impotent. Laurie tells him not to worry about it; they have plenty of time. They go to bed together and fall asleep.
Dan dreams that he and Laurie stand naked outside, kissing each other, while a nuclear explosion lights up behind them and incinerates them both. Dan wakes up in the middle of the night and crawls out of bed. He looks out at the city through his window, then goes down to the basement. He puts on his Nite Owl II goggles, though he is naked otherwise. Laurie wakes and finds him in the basement. Though he feels foolish, he tells her about his dream and says that between the war and the “mask-killer conspiracy,” he feels so “powerless,” so “impotent” to face the world.
Laurie tells Dan they should go out tonight and be heroes again. They both get dressed in their costumes, climb into the airship, and fly out into the city under a smokescreen. Dan feels his confidence return as he flies. They spot an apartment building on fire, so they fly the ship down and start spraying the building with water. Laurie extends a ramp into the building and lets all the people from the building into the airship. They fly them to safety. Dan feels confident, in control.
After they leave the survivors safely on the ground, Dan and Laurie fly back into the clouds, laughing about what they’ve just done. They start kissing and have sex on the floor of the airship while it flies through the night. As they lie together, Laurie asks Dan if he feels better now. He tells her he does; he feels powerful again, ready to take on the world. However, he thinks they have “an obligation to [their] fraternity.” He thinks they should break Rorschach out of jail.
“Blood from the Shoulder of Pallas” by Daniel Dreiberg: In an article written for an ornithological journal, Daniel says that owl enthusiasts can sometimes become so engaged with the scientific minutiae of how the birds function that they lose their sense of grandeur and mysticism. He recounts how he once became so preoccupied with the fine biology of an owl that he forgot the magic of it, the powerful presence that made the Greeks revere owls and incorporate them into their mythology.