[SG] Exarchs #29 - Black Squirrel Nights

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Wed Jun 16 15:56:18 PDT 2004

     Space puckered in upon itself momentarily, not unlike a pyloric
sphincter spasming.  Yes, that's a disgusting image.  It's a disgusting
spacetime event.
     "Eeeeurgh," Oakthorn gagged.  "What the heck was THAT?"
     "I think it was a Continuity Black Hole," Skysabre gasped, trying to
hold onto his lunch.
     "A *what*?" Kat shuddered, unused to feeling nauseated.
     "Oh, hell," Anna sighed, slumping back in her chair.  "My dad told me
about those once as a bedtime story.  A *scary* bedtime story."
     Skysabre finished regaining his composure and wiped a bit of spittle off
his chin.  "You know the last few months?  The whole thing with Team
     Oakthorn nodded his head cautiously.
     "Well, they're all trapped behind a Crossover Event Horizon.  It's like
a sort of cosmic Non-Disclosure Agreement.  We can't discuss any of it.  It
still happened, we still remember it, but we're not allowed to talk about any
of it while Readers might be watching," Skysabre explained.
     "You mean I can't explain why I can..." Oakthorn started.
     "Or mention anything about the..."
     "But that was *funny*!"
     "You'd be putting the punchline ahead of the joke, St...Oakthorn."
     "Crap," Kat snarled.  "Not that there isn't stuff from that little
affair that I'd *like* to never mention again, but I'd hoped we'd left that
sort of thing behind when we left the Looniverse."
     "Well," Anna shrugged, "we *did* kind of bring the Looniverse with us,
to an extent."
     "Oh, it's not just that," Skysabre frowned.  "This isn't the only
Continuity Black Hole floating around in 000SUPERGUY.  Oakthorn, remember
that insane cross-country road race we were discussing the other day?  The
one that happened in the 90s?"
     Oakthorn nodded.  "Yeah, it was really weird at the end there, where...
um, did...hey, I can't say who did what!"
     "It's one of the bigger Continuity Black Holes around," Skysabre
shrugged.  "We can talk about it, read about it, write extensive doctoral
theses in traffic flow analysis based on it...just never when a Reader might
be looking.  Compared to that, our little jaunt to Missouri's just a blip."
     Anna had a thoughtful look on her face.  "Might we be able to break
through the Crossover Event Horizon if we tried really hard?  Not being
natives, and all that?"
     Skysabre shrugged.  "Maybe.  But that might end up in the scene getting
retconned later, or even bring down this reality's version of the Lethal
Lawyer Corps on us."
     "What *is* the local equivalent?" Oakthorn asked.
     "I don't know," Skysabre admitted.  "But do you really want to find out
the hard way?"
     A collective shudder ran through the Exarchs.
     "So, what do we do now?" Kat asked, as she quietly hoped that the
Crossover Event Horizon stretched back far enough to cover all of her little
indiscretions regarding Team M.E.C.H.A.
     "Well, Jack's already up in Marysville with Louie for some secret
meeting that might shed some information on the animal spirits that have been
attacking him for the past few months," Skysabre checked his PDA.  "Supposed
to be under the cover of a local festival.  He asked us to show up out of
costume and keep an eye out for trouble..."
     "...which means there probably will be some," Oakthorn nodded,
collapsing his bow and putting it into the small case that would fit inside
his coat or gym bag.
     "And don't forget, Halloween is only ten days away," Anna warned.  "Just
because the spirits hunting Jack aren't of Western persuasion doesn't mean
that can't take advantage of the mystic forces surrounding Samhain."
     "Not to mention, they can run around out of disguise and pass it off as
a costume," Skysabre added.  "Well, it's about an hour's drive to Marysville,
let's meet at the garage in thirty, okay?"

@>-`-,-`-,-`-,`-,-`-,-`-,-`-     \\   //       -'-.-'-.'-.-'-.-'-.-'-.-'-<@
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #29 - Black Squirrel Nights 
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2004 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
@>-`-,-`-,-`-,`-,-`-,-`-,-`-     //   \\       -'-.-'-.'-.-'-.-'-.-'-.-'-<@

[October 21, 2003 - Marysville KS]

     Kansas.  Why did it have to be Kansas, a state where the cows tip you,
where the locals would think nothing of stringing up a big city detective by
his lips from the biggest ball of twine in North America while debating
whether to incorporate him into the latest state scratch-off lottery scheme.
Demons had infested Kansas recently, and it had been a decided improvement,
in the humble opinion of hard-boiled private investigator Hans
     Marysville was, to Hans, an archetypical Kansas town.  Three thousand
people on a good day, tens of thousands on a bad day when they held the
annual Kansas State/Nebraska football game festivities.  And a law against
harming the squirrels.
     Which, of course, was a big part of why Hans was there at the request of
his friend Jack.  No, not the football game.  Hans had about as much use for
college football as he did for a parasitic infection in his leg that would
force him to burn out his own flesh before it spread to his heart and rotted
him from inside like a dying oak tree.  The squirrels.  Specifically, the
black squirrels, reputed to be small furry masters of the mystic arts.
     So, here he was on "Black Squirrel Night," what passed for a big event
in this little podunk down.  Parents hauled their squalling brats down the
street, refusing to buy them the final sugary confection necessary to cause
the children to vibrate onto another dimensional plane where the rats of
Hamlin would be able to torment them for eternity.  Enough local craft
depictions of squirrels lined the streets to warp the local spacetime
continuum and provide the flying Roquis of the Hollow Mars a new entrance to
Earth, were the way not barred by the mystic arts of the Black Squirrels.
     Not that such an invasion would surprise Hans, given what he was
supposed to be keeping an eye out for.

               *              *              *              *

     The crawlspace was overgrown with both weeds and the progeny of
garden-raised plants, but for the assemblage present under the unimposing
house it was spacious enough.  And the privacy it offered outweighed any
considerations of space and grandeur.
     "Know that you are here purely at our sufferance, monkey.  Your magic
does not hide your true form from our eyes," the leader of the cabal warned.
"We have no desire to see your celestial bureaucracy add this world to their
hegemony, however, which is why we have allowed you to remain."
     "Hey, it ain't *my* celestial bureaucracy," Louie started, then paused
at the cold, flinty stares.  "But yeah, I get yer point, beggin' yer
     "For decades, we have kept the peace of this small town.  The humans
recognize our value, and are newly grateful that we protected them from the
predations of the roaming bands of creatures sent out from Topeka.  But there
is a doom over the head of the human named Jack Yuen...he is fated to contend
against the gods, and he cannot run from this.  Yet, he may find the good
within the evil and face the gods with their own sparks lighting the
     "Far be it f'r someone of my background t' complain about fortune cookie
prophecies, but couldja be a teeny bit more specific?"
     The dozen black squirrels conferred amongst themselves for several long
minutes, spells muting their voices so even Louie's keen hearing couldn't
pick up anything clear.  In fact, it sounded like they were all saying
"rhubarb" over and over.
     "No," was the final response.  "But...things will become clearer of
their own accord before this night is over."
     "Why don't I like th' sound a dat?" Louie sighed.
     "It is not for you to like, it is for you to live," another of the cabal
replied, before grasping a nearby stalk of rhubarb and taking a bite.

               *              *              *              *

     Jack wished he'd been able to follow Louie in to the meeting, but he
would have attracted too much attention trying to get into the crawlspace,
assuming he could even fit.  Especially since the owners of the house, while
aficionados of black squirrels, had no idea that the small furry animals were
actually sapient.  Saying he was crawling under their house to talk to the
squirrels would have resulted in a call for the men in white jackets.
     So he got to cool his heels and wander around the small downtown while
Louie dealt with the Blacks.  He caught occasional glimpses of Hans, Rick,
Anna and Oakthorn, and sometimes exchanged nods with them.  Kat was keeping
well out of sight...this was not a costume festival, and her marble skin
would have drawn too much attention, assuming the former spy allowed herself
to draw any attention at all.
     There was another person who'd been catching his eye for the past half
hour or so as he strolled past stalls and storefronts.  She was Chinese,
maybe in her early 30s.  Her long black hair was bound up in a complicated
arrangement of ivory pins, and she wore a bone-white pants suit.  White after
Labor Day was kind of tacky, Jack knew, but that wasn't really what made him
nervous about the woman.  No, what made him nervous was the predatory looks
she favored him with.  And they didn't seem to be so much sexual as "I want
to feast on your bones" predatory.
     Then, suddenly, there were ten foot tall demons standing in the middle
of the street and roaring...and Jack had other things to occupy his

               *              *              *              *

     "Picking up anything?" Oakthorn asked Anna as he walked up and matched
her stride along the sidewalk.  He wore a leather jacket against the cooling
night air, and an overly long gym bag slung across his back held his
collapsible bow and not-collapsible arrows.
     She shook her head.  "There's a low level mystic hum, probably due to
all the squirrel mages.  There certainly are a lot of them...I hear they
managed to avoid the big purges of mages that happened here a while back.
And by 'here', I mean this altiverse, not this town," she amended.
     "Soooo..." Anna leaned in conspiratorially, "are you finally used to
being called Paul?"  Anna playfully batted Oakthorn with an end of the light
wool scarf she wore over her tan trenchcoat.
     "I prefer Oakthorn, *Ms. Martel*," he rebutted.  "Paul is just for the
driver's licen...holy Kolker!" he pulled his bag forward and yanked it open
as the ten foot tall demons mentioned in the previous scene suddenly
manifested in clouds of sickly blue-gray smoke.
     "Wait, there's something wrong about this," Anna warned as she fumbled
her trenchcoat open and pulled out a slim wooden wand fashioned from the wood
of a tree grown from a seed imported from the Looniverse [the origins of
which are part of that whole Continuity Black Hole thing, but a guess that
involves the Mighty Muddy Power Grangers eating apples in their mechs while
in the Looniverse and spitting seeds everywhere wouldn't be unreasonable. -
     Paul ignored the warning and had his bow open and strung in one smooth
motion, a cheeez-tipped arrow flying at one of the demons by the time Anna
finished her sentence.
     The arrow embedded itself in a lamp post behind the demon, turning the
metal an unhealthy greenish brown color around the point of impact.
     "Huh?  How did I miss it at this range?" Oakthorn muttered.
     "You didn't," Anna replied.  "I think these are all illusions...."






     Answers to some of these questions, and possible crossover updates, can
be found on the next...SUPERGUY!


Author's Notes:

     Okay, it's been a while, sorry about that.  Robotech_Master's a bit
blocked up on the crossover thing, which will all happen in Team M.E.C.H.A.'s
coming issues.  So it's more of a guest appearance than a crossover, I
suppose.  With me writing some scenes for it.  Anyway, I figured I'd take a
quick break from the big ASH #50 project and see if I could kickstart Exarchs
     Black Squirrel Night is a real festival in Marysville KS, held in late
October.  Marysville does have a thirty year old town ordinance protecting
the local black squirrels...it's estimated that about 1/5 of the squirrels in
Marysville are black.  I don't know if this population is related to the one
in Lansing MI, though.  
     In other squirrel news, http://www.gottshall.com/squirrels has given
Kansas State University its highest-possible rating of five squirrels.  Ah,
the strange workings of fate.
     A reminder for those reading this on Usenet or on the Superguy list, you
can find previous episodes at http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/SG .

     And now for this episode's Feng Shui stats: Oakthorn!  I'm making him as
mostly a starting character, but a couple of extra Schticks.

Paul Oakthorn (formerly Stanley King, but has abandoned that name)
Archetype: Archer (Thorns of the Lotus, page 98)
Juncture: 000SUPERGUY
Attributes: BOD 7, CHI 0 (For 1), MIND 5 (Int 6), REF 8

Skills: Guns =15 (used for archery attacks)
        Info/Cheeez Science +4 (10)
        Leadership/Business Style +3 (8)
        Martial Arts +4 (12)

Unique Schtick: Flurry of Arrows - As long as your opponent is at least
     5m away, you get +2 to Initiative.

Schticks: Versatile Ammo x3 *, Fast Draw, Eagle Eye, Both Guns Blazing,
     Signature Weapon (collapsable bow).

     * At x3 level, he gains access to specialized arrowheads that can
duplicate the effects of the Blast Schtick (Acid or Fire) at a damage of Guns
Skill minus 3, or the Creature Schtick Foul Spew at Creature Powers AV equal
to his Guns Skill minus 5 (but he may drop the Spew at any place his arrows
can reach).

Notes: Oakthorn does not have the Archer archetype's refusal to use guns,
     but he prefers his bow and specialty arrows.

Wealth Level: Working Stiff (but working on becoming Rich).


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