Tebbitt walked into the kitchen and froze. In all fairness, it was a bizarre tableau: Susan at the sink brandishing a frying pan, and a giant spider clinging to the windowsill, parrying her thrust with a tin ladle.
"Please don't scream," said Susan.
Anansi waved four of his legs in greeting. In retrospect, Susan should have told him to only move one at a time.
In any event, Wing Commander Reginald Tebbitt did not scream. He fainted dead away.
"No trouble at all, you said," quoted Susan, her voice resigned. "Why am I not surprised?"
"I can surprise you, little Sister Queen! No disappointment!"
Susan stepped back in alarm. "No! I don't want to be surprised, Anansi."
"Anansi does not disappoint." The Trickster god's eyes shone as he wove his front four legs in a complicated pattern. A mesh of purple light settled over Susan – and, to her dismay, over Tebbitt.
"Bother," she muttered as the world ran together like watercolors.
If he made her miss the Resistance meeting, she would tie Anansi's legs in knots.
A constrictor knot, thought Susan, would be fitting.
"Who entersss the Chamber of Sssecretssss?"
A sinuous shape rose out of the near darkness. Susan instinctively reached for her bow but was not surprised when her grasping fingers found only strands of spidersilk clinging to her back.
It was just as well that Tebbitt was still unconscious.
By the time Susan finished weaving a hood out of the spidersilk (which was much stronger than it looked) and her own coat, she had decided upon a double constrictor knot.
By the time she managed to toss the hood over the basilisk's head and tie it on securely, Tebbitt had finally come to.
"What in the bloody–"
Susan grabbed him by the shoulders, spun him around, and shoved. "Don’t ask questions. Just run."
It was in Mirkwood that Susan began feeling truly sorry for Tebbitt. They had barely escaped the sinking of Atlantis, jumped ship near Troy, and ridden on the backs of curiously tame 'raptors through some prehistoric jungle.
Now, with malevolent spiders all around and Tebbitt hyperventilating at her back, Susan began to suspect Anansi had a truly depraved sense of humor. She allowed herself a brief moment to daydream of Gordion knots.
She took out her frustrations on the unfortunate spiders of Mirkwood, and took the gibbering Tebbitt to meet the elves. Their wine, she'd heard, was imbued with starlight and had the quality of preventing ill thoughts from entering dreams.
If it crossed Susan's mind that a dreamcatcher was rather like a spiderweb, she said nothing.
Anansi made up for it, Susan grudgingly admitted, when he left them on Pern. To see Tebbitt swooping through the skies the back of a nimble Brown dragon and laughing with joy – well, it almost made the whole journey worthwhile.
He had been born for the skies.
The firelizards proved almost as mischievous as Anansi, popping in and out at the most opportune moments, but between the excitement and music of the Gather and the raucous presence of the Dragonriders, no one minded much.
Then Thread fell, which kept them busy for some time. Susan, never as comfortable in the air, was scored once or twice. Tebbitt applied the numbweed himself.
That also kept them busy for some time.
"Can I borrow that?" Tebbitt asked the – well, Susan wasn't certain what it was, but he (or she) was just as hairy as a Wookiee, albeit much shorter. And rounder.
It squeaked and cradled the blaster to its chest protectively. "Yub nub!"
"You can't just blast your way out of everything," Susan said in fond exasperation.
Less than 100 meters away, two swinging logs collided, bashing the cabin of an AT-ST walker.
Tebbitt grinned. "You mean I should be a low-tech guy in a high-tech world?" He pelted a Stormtrooper with a rock. "I can live with that."
When Anansi finally saw fit to return the pair to their little kitchen, they were covered in the dust of a dozen worlds and grinning at each other like maniacs.
Anansi bounced from a harness of spidersilk. "Little Sister Queen has birthday surprise! Anansi is doing only good deeds today." He winked several eyes and disappeared.
Susan frowned. "It isn't my birthday."
Tebbitt studied her with renewed interest. "What did he mean, 'Queen'?"