[SG/LNH] Exarchs #30 - The Long Night

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Mon Oct 18 10:28:06 PDT 2004

[October 21, 2004 - Marysville, KS]

     "Wait a second," Anna gestured at the timestamp.  "Last episode, it was
2003.  What gives?"
     Well, I'd kind of hoped to get this bit of the storyline finished up a
few months ago, but I blocked up again.
     "Too much cheese," Kat smirked.
     "Hey!" Oakthorn objected, quite correctly.  Not that kind of blockage.  
     Anyway, at the pace things are going, there's a good chance we'd be a
full year behind the real calendar by the time this whole mess resolves, what
with the demons and squirrels and stuff.  And the Author trying to get a few
other projects written as well, including some stuff for work.  So just
pretend this is sliding comicbook time, and dates are just topical references
that can be safely ignored whenever some insane person decides to come along
and index all the stories.
     "So, what got you writing again?" Skysabre asked.  "Not that I'm not
*used to* limbo."
     Oh, Mason's Mazin' Mob finally posted another episode.  And I was
inspired to not have another big gap in the series.
     "That'd better be the only inspiration you take from MMM, mister
Author," Kat warned.  "You try any of that 'Sensation' stuff with me and I'll
find a way to rip your lips off."
     "So," Oakthorn made an effort to change the subject, "we're just
ignoring an entire year?  All the things we could have done during that time?
And what about the Continuity Black Hole?"
     Well, it's like in the comics, where you have characters who have been
around for thirty years but in-story have only been active for less than a
decade.  It just takes a certain way of squinting at time and fuzzing it out,
suspending one's sense of time and, dare I say it, continuity.  The
Continuity Black Hole is still there, until a certain Author finishes his
"research" and gets things rolling again.  Things will just connect up
differently.  Not that it REALLY matters.
     [Hey, I'm just glad something's coming out that I can work on.  Big
guy's decided ASH is too serious for footnotes, or something. - Ed]
     Shut up, Ed.

@>-`-,-`-,-`-,`-,-`-,-`-,-`-     \\   //       -'-.-'-.'-.-'-.-'-.-'-.-'-<@
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #30 - The Long Night
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2004 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
@>-`-,-`-,-`-,`-,-`-,-`-,-`-     //   \\       -'-.-'-.'-.-'-.-'-.-'-.-'-<@

     Skysabre leapt back and up, away from the demons that had suddenly
materialized on the street in front of him.  As he let the arc carry him to
the top of a store's facade, he reached behind him and drew the short, paired
butterfly swords that were concealed under his jacket.  Barely better than
glorified kitchen knifes, especially against demons.  Still, he'd never
learned that Highlander trick of concealing full-length swords under short
     The demons were roaring in what sounded like Chinese, but seemed more
interested in scaring people than actually attacking them.  Unfortunately,
while this was definitely suspicious, there were too many explanations
available, ranging from pranksters with holoprojectors to demons that fed on
fear instead of flesh.
     "Gotta be in it to win it," Skysabre sighed as he jumped back down to
street level and struck out with the short blades.

               *              *              *              *

     Kat put down the rifle.  "Insubstantial," she sighed.  She had been
about to put a bullet in the center of the triangle formed by a demon's three
eyes when she'd noticed a treebranch pass through the top of its head without
being disturbed.  It didn't mean that these things couldn't hurt people, but
it did suggest that conventional weapons were more likely to hit bystanders
than to do anything to the demons.
     She considered relaying this information to the others, but decided
against distracting them with com chatter.  Odds were that they'd already
figured out they couldn't hit the demons.

               *              *              *              *

     "An illusion is something that's not really there and can't be
interacted with," Anna mused while Paul tried to keep people from stampeding
away from the insubstantial demons.  "So unsympathetic magic should be
especially useful against one."
     "Well, whatever you're planning, do it soon," Paul advised as he helped
a stumbling woman back to her feet.
     Anna nodded, and turned away.  One had to ignore the target in a very
specific way in order to make unsympathetic magic work.  She nonchalantly
toyed with her wand.  There was a loud crunching noise.
     The demon was now quite solid, and starting to tear up the pavement to
make chunks it could throw.
     "Not so much 'useful' as 'powerful and unpredictable,' I think," Paul
snarked as he picked up his pace to get the woman in his arms out of the

               *              *              *              *

     "Bad night!" Jack gasped as he ran towards the mass of demons.  He could
see Skysabre jumping up and away, and Anna doing...something or other.
Leaping at one of the demons from behind, he tried to kick it in the kidneys,
assuming it HAD kidneys.  Instead, he flew through unimpeded, and almost fell
upon landing.
     "You can't hurt my ogres," came a voice from the sidewalk, as smooth and
cold and hard as a lake in winter.  He turned to see the woman in white.
     "*Your* ogres?  Are you behind this?"
     She laughed and a shiver ran up Jack's back.  "Of course I am!  If I
weren't, I would at least be worried that my ogres were misbehaving, wouldn't
I?"  In a sensuous yet unearthly motion, she reached up to pull one of the
ivory pins from her hair.  Before Jack's eyes, it lengthened and became a
wickedly barbed spear, made all of ivory stained brown at the tip by old
blood.  "My divinations told me you would be here, Jack Yuen.  And now you
will come with me, or my ogres will raze the town and I will take you

               *              *              *              *

     Skysabre stopped suddenly, standing in front of an ogre with his weapons
lowered.  It roared in anger, bellowed at him and thumped its chest in a
threatening manner.
     But it didn't try to strike him.
     He stepped inside of it.
     There was a chill feeling, deeper than the cool of the October evening,
but that was all.  The monster jumped away, apparently realizing that its
bluff had been called.
     "Spirit, illusion...they can't hurt us," Skysabre muttered to himself.
He turned to call out to the still panicked crowd.
     "Everyone, these aren't real!  They can't touch you!"
     Which, of course, is when the ogre tearing up the pavement decided to
throw a chunk of it directly at Skysabre by way of proving him wrong.

               *              *              *              *

     Anna looked in horror as the asphalt projectile streaked towards her
teammate.  He seemed convinced that it was all illusion, and wasn't making
any effort to dodge.
     She cleared her mind.
     She looked away.
     She ignored the pavement VERY carefully.
     She waited for the sickening crunch.

               *              *              *              *

     Jack looked over his opponent's shoulder and saw a stone of some sort
pass harmlessly through Skysabre before vanishing in a puff of mist.
     "Your ogres are illusions," he pointed at the wisp of fog behind
     "But this is not!" she thrust forward with the ivory spear, whipping it
to the side to follow Jack as he tried to dodge its point.  The spear smacked
painfully against his thigh, but didn't draw blood.
     Quickly taking off his windbreaker, Jack whipped it around the spear and
pulled tight on the sleeves to bind his opponent's weapon.  He started to
pull it away from the woman, when she smiled darkly and turned it back into a
hairpin, then changed it into a cruelly serrated ivory sword.
     "I miss having a shape-changing weapon," Jack sighed as he held up the
jacket in the hopes of parrying the inevitable next attack.
     "It's not the weapon, it's the wielder," the woman sneered.  "I am not
called the White-Bone Demon for nothing!"
     "You mean you pay them?" Jack taunted, although the tremor in his voice
made it a rather hollow taunt.
     "No, but I will be paid rather handsomely when I bring your body in
pieces to Lord Erlang...I know it will not kill you, but it'll be FUN," she
cackled as she swung her sword at Jack's neck.  It shredded Jack's interposed
windbreaker, but that was infinitely preferable to it shredding his body.
     Unfortunately, that left him without a defense against the next stroke. 
     A shot rang out.
     Both combatants paused to look down the street, to where an ogre was
staggering.  The top of its head had been removed by a bullet, and this
seemed to be confusing it a little.  
     "But...?" Jack said.
     "How...?" the White-Bone Demon added simultaneously.
     Jack merely suspected the ogre had been an illusion, the White-Bone
Demon *knew* it was one, so she was surprised just a little longer than Jack
was.  This gave him an opening, and he grabbed a giant stuffed squirrel from
a ruined carnival game nearby, shoving it down over the sword like a plush,
furry sheath.
     "You've been nerfed," Jack informed the demon.
     She snarled, baring her fangs as she shrank the weapon back to its
dormant state as a hairpin.  But this time, Jack was ready for it and closed
with her, knocking the ivory shaft out of her hands with a nerve strike to
the wrist and plucking the remaining hairpins from her increasingly
disheveled coif with his free hand.
     "American fumbles chopsticks!" he called out as the hairpins flew from
his hands in all directions.  "Gorilla dials cell phone during peak hours!"
he added, jabbing the White-Bone Demon repeatedly in the forehead with curled
     With a scream, she vanished in a puff of smoke, which itself was gone
before Jack could do anything but flail ineffectively at it.

               *              *              *              *

     "I don't get it," Louie said once the crowds had been calmed down and
everything restored to something resembling normalcy.  "My boss killed the
White-Bone Demon centuries ago, when he was working for ol' Three Baskets."
     "Maybe she survived?  She seems to be big on illusion and pretty good at
running away," Anna observed.
     Louie shook his head.  "The Monkey King is a pro at demon-hunting,
babe.  She may have been able to trick him a few times, but he made EXTRA
sure the last time."
     Jack scratched his head for a moment, then got a look of revelation.
"She is not the White-Bone Demon of this world, she must be the one from my
home universe.  Just as the Erlang who has been hunting me is not the native
version of the god."
     Skysabre nodded.  "Makes sense.  Some of the lesser powers would be
interested in currying favor with the Jade Emperor by accompanying Erlang
across the Altiversal boundaries.  And ones with no local counterpart might
have an easier time of it, if the two versions would otherwise have been
competing for mystical resources."
     Louie snapped his paws, which is fairly impressive the first time you
see it.  "That's what the mystics meant!"





     Answers to a few of these questions, and maybe a crossover update, can
be found on the next...SUPERGUY!  Oh, and Hans found a bar and didn't even
notice the whole ogre thing.


Author's Notes:

     Actually, most of what I would have said here is up in the fourth wall
breakage of the opening bit.
     The White-Bone Demon was the starring villain of my first exposure to
Journey to the West.  She used her illusions and shapeshifting to convince
the monk Tripitaka that Monkey had gone mad and had to be dismissed (she
faked being a succession of mortals, Monkey saw through the disguises and
attacked, she retreated while letting the fake bodies fall dead, so everyone
else thought Monkey was just killing mortals).  The version seen this issue
has suffered a power reduction from the turbulence between altiverses, but
makes up for it by having studied illusion at the knee of her mother, the
Toad Demon.

     And now, Feng Shui stats for Louie!  Again, he's a little more
experienced than the beginning Supernatural Creature and has Sorcery (which
they usually don't), but he's been around a while.

Louie The Squirrel
Archetype: Supernatural Creature 

BOD 5  REF 10  CHI 3 (Mag 5) MND 6 (Int 7)

Skills: Creature Powers 14
        Sorcery 10
        Martial Arts 12
        Deceit 9
        Info/Squirrel Politics 11

Schticks: (Creature Powers) Transformation x2, Surprising Growth*
     (Sorcery) Divination, Fertility

     * Surprising Growth allows the user to grow to an incredible size for a
limited time.  It's a difficulty 10 Creature Powers check, and can only be
made once per day.  If successful, the user grows to immense size for a
number of shots equal to the outcome, and may use their Creature Powers AV in
place of their BOD score.  Once the growth ends, the user suffers -2
Impairment for twice as many shots as they were at giant size.

Notes: Louie's natural form is that of a monkey.  He does not have the
     horrific appearance of standard Supernatural Creatures, and he can
     be healed by non-magical Medicine skill, but at -3AV unless the
     practitioner is a veterinarian.  When in squirrel form, Louis has
     -2 to his STR and +2 to his dodge AV.  Unless using Surprising Growth,
     of course.

Weapons: Sharp tongue

Wealth Level: Working Stiff

More information about the racc mailing list