For a day or so, Bang!opolis sojourned with the TrailMaster, snug in his wintery haven, and though the two were not of exactly the same temperament, each for a time enjoyed the contrast. The brandy helped a lot.

"How about another?" offered the TrailMaster.

"Hic. Sounds good," said Bang!opolis. "Hit me."

After a few minutes, "I see your glass is empty again," said the TrailMaster.

"Good stuff. Good stuff. More please," said Bang!opolis.

The TrailMaster hesitated, for company is hard to come by when you're snowbound, and he wanted to be a gracious host. "Well, there's plenty, but don't you think . . . "

Bang!opolis wobbled to his feet. "Just one more for the road. Then I'll be off in a flash-bang. Got a winter to put on, you know."

Being one to respect another's choices, even when they were foolish, the TrailMaster poured yet another brandy for his now teetering guest.

Finally Bang!opolis staggered to the door. The TrailMaster discreetly steadied him as he mounted his trusty thunderbolt, wisps of blue smoke seeping from his ears.

"Drive safely now," said the TrailMaster as Bang!opolis fired up the bolt.

"Trusht me," said Bang!opolis, both eyes whirling in opposite directions.

The TrailMaster shook his head as Bang!opolis careened off.

Those few creatures who were abroad in the chill, marveled at the erratic lightning bolt that stitched across the frigid black sky overhead.

12: Ministers and Opportunists