[AC] Eternal Affairs #1 by Chris Munn

Artifice Comics artificecomics at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Apr 21 17:20:21 PDT 2004

He was a superman. 

The warrior alien cockroaches of Xenon 11 closed in around him, their
jowls sticky and wet from the blood pores that sat just at the base of
their pincers. The superman gritted his teeth and flexed his large
muscles, an attempt to show dominance in the face of such horror.
They'd emerged from deep in the caves of Shirr-Lon-Rea, a city ancient
when old was considered new, and now the superman and the evil were at
a standoff.

The earth shook with each step he took, the Xenonians taking the
measure of their opponent. This lone human was all that stood between
them and the control over the hemisphere, with the second to come in
short time. None could stand before their might, as the numerous star
systems previously conquered had discovered. Pain and death were all
the cockroaches knew, and they wanted nothing but to share this
knowledge with everything they encountered. The superman held no
emotion as he moved, quick as lightning, into the alien hordes. Green
blood, the touch of which burned like acid through even the strongest
substance, flew with abandon as he did his heroic duty, protecting the
world from things better left unknown.

He was a superman, and by God...this was his duty. 

The battle raged for hours, the tattered and torn uniform of the
superman holding onto his body by only the barest of threads, his skin
blistered and ravaged from the blood of his enemies. They were
relentless, an unstoppable wave of death and venom, but he refused to
let up, even for an instance. He was all that stood in their way, the
only protector of Pacific City that had dared to stand against the
hordes. There were others like him, of course, but they proved to be
false when the demands for surrender came. Better to serve and live
than to fight and die, they'd said. But not the superman...he knew
what had to be done.

To the city's surprise, the outcome of the battle was a revelation.
The superman stood victorious amidst the destroyed buildings of the
city, the still-steaming green caked on his body like a second skin.
He had taken everything the Xenonians could throw at him, and still he
had triumphed. The people of Pacific City cried tears of divine joy as
they emerged from their bunkers, the superman's name whispered on
their lips as they stood, wide-eyed, at the barriers of the now
finished battle. The superman could only smile, a smile that adults
once knew how to make, but had long forgotten. A smile of a child's
happiness, displayed on the face of the normally oh-so-stoic hero. He
was their hero. He was their superman.

For that one, shining moment...he was their God. 

Pacific City. Today. 

He shivered in the doorway, the tattered coat he'd found in the
dumpster behind the bar providing little warmth in the cold, winter
air. "Spare a dollar?" he'd ask to a few of the passersby.

"No, I'm sorry." 

No response. 

"I just gave my last bit out to that other homeless fellow down the
block. My apologies."

"How about getting a job instead, you fucking bum?" 

He snorted and spat at the feet of the last speaker. "If I could get a
job," he commented as the gentleman rushed off, "then I wouldn't be
out here freezing my ass off, now would I?"

He coughed long and hard afterwards, stumbling down the cold streets
looking for anything that could give him a reprieve from his
existence. "Spare a dollar, man?" he asked the next gentleman
passerby, this one dressed black on black, the only spot of color
being a deep crimson necktie. He smiled at the question.

"Be my pleasure," he replied with a smirk, his hand opening to reveal
four shiny quarters. The homeless man's eyes lit up at the sight.
"Oops." The quarters fell from the passerby's hand, a deliberate
motion on the gentleman's part. As the homeless man rushed to the
ground, desperate to snatch up the silver, he failed to notice the
generous stranger moving behind him. Something hard struck the back of
the man's neck as he was down on all fours, knocking him senseless.

When he awakened, no more than three or four minutes later, he was
lying in an adjacent alleyway. The stranger stood over him, the smile
still wiped across his face. "Why'm I all wet?" the homeless man asked
as he examined his thoroughly soaked clothes.

The stranger lit a cigarette, allowing his Zippo to flame long after
the first draw. "Gasoline."

The homeless man looked up, immediately determining the situation.

"Give me a reason not to." The stranger stated. 

"I'm...a superman." 

"Not good enough, mate," the stranger responded. 

He tossed the lighter into the other man's lap. 

And laughed. 


Eternal Affairs 
Chapter One 
"Figure of 8" 
By Chris Munn


"Jaysis fucking Christ, what in god's name happened here?" The police
that had gathered around the charred body were in a state of disgust,
the smell of melted flesh assaulting their senses quite brutally.
Detective Constable Jason Jenkins stood directly over the anonymous
body, slowly taking a drag on his cigarette as he studied the alley
crime scene.

"We got us a problem, sir," one of the officers said, prompting
Jenkins to turn his direction back toward the street, "the Feddies are

"That's not Federal Police," Jenkins muttered as he watched the three
new arrivals come into the alley, "that's the god damn freak show."

An older man led the pack of three, showing no signs of emotional
concern as he confidently sauntered up to the detective. His grayed
hair was cut close to his head, but was tousled just enough to give an
air of unkemptness. His goatee was the same, cut into a
moustache-and-beard combination, but the fact that he probably hadn't
shaved in days was obvious. "Agent Smith," he introduced himself,
flipping out a badge of authority directly in front of Jenkins' face,
"Eternal Affairs division. Me and my partners have this under control,
so you guys can go on and leave."

"You're a bloody American, aren't you?" Jenkins asked, brushing aside
the man's badge.

"This time, yeah, I'm an American," Smith said dismissively as he
turned toward the body, "and don't give me no fuckin' attitude, boy.
We got carte blanche from Mayor Romanov himself to investigate as we
see fit...so it's either our way or the highway, as the saying goes."

"Fuck it, fine," Jenkins said, following up with a loud whistle,
"c'mon lads, let's let the so-called specialists clean up this shit."

The three Eternal Affairs officers waited patiently as the police
departed, none of them speaking another word until only they remained
in the alley.


"I'm still not convinced that your idea was a good one," Anna Romanova
said as she stood in front of her office bar, filling a glass of wine,
"so keep in mind that if this should blow up in our faces, I'm holding
you fully responsible."

She turned around with her drink, resting her backside on the wooden
bar top. "I'd have to kill you then, of course."

The mayor's special guest laughed slightly at the woman's threat, an
odd sight considering the fact that no emotion came from the face of
bone. Doctor Creep sat reclined in one of the office's leather chairs,
a Japanese kimono hanging loosely around his skeletal body as he
rested, his feet kicked up onto a stool. "You can't kill me, Anna," he
said while taking a puff on his oversized cigar, "I'm like Keith
Richards and Dick Clark. I'll live forever."

Romanova tried to remain stoic and stern, but the Doctor's charm made
her expression turn into a faint smile. "Has it ever occurred to you
that I only keep you around because you make me laugh?"

"And here I always thought it was because of the sexual dream
scenarios you have about me every night," Creep replied, a cloud of
smoke exiting his eye sockets, "but back to the point at hand. I'm
happy to see you've given my Eternal Affairs idea a solid start, my
lady, and I believe your worries to be completely unfounded. Smith is
a good man, one who knows what he's doing."

"Smith?" the woman asked in a harsh tone. "You're saying Deadboy
fucking Smith knows what he's doing? He can't even die and get it
right, let alone lead a division that could possibly do a lot of
damage to this city."

"The science hero is a dying breed, my dear," Creep began as he stood
from his seat, the smoke from his cigar forming a bizarre halo around
his skull, "no matter what you may think. The history of Pacific City
is being murdered, one veteran hero at a time. You may think you have
things under control with your New Mages, but take my word on
this...you're going to need a lot more than just them."

"Don't you fucking threaten me, Doctor," Romanova said as she finished
her glass of wine, "or I'll make your stay in this city a very
uncomfortable one."

Creep merely sighed as he moved toward the door to her office. "Do
stop by the Gallery sometime, my dear lady," he said before closing
the door behind him, "our talks are so infrequent as of late."


"So who is he?" the second Eternal Affairs agent asked as she stood
looking over Deadman Smith's shoulder at the burned corpse. Samara
Whitlock, all twenty-seven years of her, was a neurotic meltdown
waiting to happen. The cigarette dangling between two shaking fingers,
the bags under her eyes that marred her otherwise natural beauty, the
unkempt black hair that looked like it hadn't seen a brush in
years...all of the signs pointed to a woman that needed to take a
breath and step away from the edge.

"That's what you're here to find out, Sammy," Smith said as he threw a
wink toward the girl. With a heartfelt sigh, Samara reached into her
black side-bag and began to dig. A moment later, she produced a
headset and a small handheld tape recorder from the bowels of the

"Do I really have to do this?" she asked. 

"Much as I'd like to say 'no, you got this job 'cause of your
looks'...I can't." Smith answered, stepping back away from the corpse.
"So do your thing."

Deciding not to offer another effort of protest, Whitlock depressed
the RECORD button with her thumb. The night was ominously still, not a
single stray sound heard in the distance as the tape in the recorder
wound around its spool. Samara walked around the charred body, her arm
stretched forward, allowing the handheld speaker the maximum allowance
of reception.

"This is fucking retarded," the third man in the group muttered,
digging through his leather jacket for the pack of cigarettes that he
knew he'd grabbed before leaving the office. Smith said nothing,
displaying his dissatisfaction with his partner with a single silent

After a few more minutes of recording, Samara clicked off the tape
recorder. "You want me to play back now," she asked, brushing her
wind-tossed hair back out of her face, "or wait 'til we get back to
the office?"

"Here," Smith answered, but placed his hand up to halt the woman's
actions, "but not right this minute. Chester, I want a full view of
the scene before we get our statement."

"Was wondering if I'd get to do any work tonight," the third agent
said with a sigh, giving up his futile search for the missing
cigarette pack that evidently wasn't in his coat pocket after all.
Pushing his wire-rimmed glasses back up the bridge of his nose,
Chester Fagan stepped to the body, his eyes emitting a faint yellow
glow that bathed the dark alleyway with an almost angelic
incandescence. "Virtual crime scene...starting now."


The wind blew through the streets as the skinless Dr. Creep made his
way home. The walk was unnecessary, of course, as he could easily have
asked his daughters to pick him up. There was something about being
immersed in the city at night, a peaceful ambiance that brought his
rabid thoughts to a slow Zen.

The calm before the storm...the eye of the hurricane...insert colorful
metaphor here...

Smoothing out the wrinkles in his kimono, the good Doctor took a seat
on a bench. A chill had settled into the night, providing a slight rim
of frost on his bones. Paying no mind, he stuck a cigarette between
his teeth and lit up.

There were times that he missed having flesh, despite the often
advantages to being a walking skeleton. No worries about pimples, no
wrinkles...just the perfect smooth white of bone. He laughed at how he
used to fret and worry, in the time after Carolina Crass infected his
immortal body with necrotizing bacteria. 82 years since and still he
lived, proving just how immortal he truly was. One of these days he'd
have to look Ms. Crass up once again.

Lowering his skull as to allow a look at the ground, he saw a small
cockroach running past his foot. Reaching down with a speed and skill
that, honestly, one wouldn't expect a skeleton to have, Creep snatched
up the insect between bony fingers. After a moment of examination, he
increased the pressure, causing the roach to go squish. "If only it
had been so easy the first time," he mumbled, looking around
impatiently for a place to wipe the insect intestines off his fingers.


Magically, the alleyway had undergone a transformation. The body was
now gone, the shadows on the walls showing that the events being
played had occurred much earlier in the evening. "I rewound by about 5
hours," Fagan explained, "which, according to the chubby little
medical examiner with garlic breath, should be approximately when Mr.
Doe here did his Human Torch impression."

The three agents watched intently as the events of the past played
before them. After a few brief moments, the tranquil alley scene was
broken by the entrance of a man, his face covered in the darkness of
shadow, dragging the unconscious form of their victim. "Any way you
can focus in on the face?" Smith asked.

Fagan shook his head. "Don't work that way, mate. We can walk 360
degrees around the replay, but the city's collective memory only
brings forth what it saw. If he didn't step into the light, there's no
way to positively identify."

Falling back into silence, the three watched as the perpetrator posed
the body of the victim across the ground. Then, with malicious
attention to detail, he produced the can of gasoline and proceeded to
soak the victim down. "Guy wasn't fuckin' around, was he?" Chester
asked rhetorically.

Eventually, with the sensation of gasoline on skin providing a
sufficient stinging sensation, the victim awoke.

"Why'm I all wet?" 



"Give me a reason not to." 

"I'm...a superman." 

"Not good enough, mate." 

And then the man tossed the cigarette. The victim screamed as his
flesh ignited in a burst of flame. Samara had to turn away from the
image, a wave of nausea hitting her full force. Smith and Fagan
continued to watch a moment longer, as the murderer turned and left
the alley. The scene then flickered, the light from Chester's display
fading slowly.

"Agent Whitlock," Smith said as he crouched down in front of the
charred body, his fingers running across the ground underneath it,
"get your gear ready for play back. I think I've found something, but
I'm almost afraid to consider what it means..."

Beckoning Chester with a motion of his hand, Smith sighed heavily.
"Give me a cigarette," he commanded.

"Uh, seems I kinda left 'em at the office," Fagan admitted, shrugging

"Check the inside breast pocket," Smith advised. Reluctantly, Chester
acquiesced...and, to his surprise, found the pack of smokes to be
exactly where his boss said they would be. Placing one in his lips, a
spark from his Zippo lit the end. After a draw or two, he removed the
stick, placing it between Deadman's waiting fingers.

Smith closed his eyes, his fingers reading over a patch of ground as
his mouth breathed words never meant to be spoken. "...ia...ia...zi
azag...ia...ia...zi azkak..." After a few repetitive mutterings,
Deadman produced the cigarette and, with a downward thrust, stabbed
the burning end onto the place on the ground he had previously marked.
The flames from the embers arced across the ground, moving beneath the
corpse at a blinding speed. After the flames finished their course, a
burning outline was displayed before the agents.

"Haven't tried that trick in ages," Smith said as he stood, taking
several steps back. Fagan simply scratched his head in confusion.

"It made the number eight," Chester commented, turning his neck to the
side in an attempt to get a better look at the pattern.

"A repeating ouroborus," Smith corrected, "the marker of an infinity
spell. Essentially, the killer wanted to make any resurrecting of the
victim to be impossible. If he came back to life, through either
scientific or supernatural means, he'd instantly burst into flames
again. Death after death after death...ad infinitum."

An uncomfortable silence hung in the air for several moments after
Smith's revelation, with both men light new cigarettes to help deal
with the situation. "So," Fagan started, finally breaking the silence,
"guess I was right...guy wasn't fuckin' around a bit..."


He'd gone through a whole notebook of paper, and still he continued to
draw. The pencil gripped tightly in his hand, he moved it across the
paper in a continuing motion of swirls that covered the white space
with the dark impression of lead. "It's a pattern loop," he muttered,
speaking to no one, "fueled by the souls of the damned. The loop
cannot be broken. Severing it will result in chaos, infinity
unraveling at the seams. They cannot stop it." He paused. "I am

Hunched over the table, with only a single light-bulb providing
illumination in the dark, dingy environment, the Ouroborus was manic.
"It never ends," he said as he finished another sheet of symbols,
immediately reaching for the next blank piece of paper, "I won't let

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