[ASH] ASH #79: Timequake Part 1: Divine Wind

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Thu Mar 1 08:20:26 PST 2007

     The cover shows five color-coded sentai-style warriors fighting demon
Mongols aboard a junk that's been subtly altered to look like it sailed out
of the netherworld.

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
  //======================= '|`        ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES #79
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||             Timequake Part 1: Divine Wind
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2007 by Dave Van Domelen

                       ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES ROLL CALL

CODENAME       REAL NAME                POWERS                   ASSIGNMENT
--------       ---------                ------                   ----------
Solar Max      Jonathan Zachary         Spacetime Control        MISSING
                 "JakZak" Taylor
Meteor         Sarah Grant-Taylor       Superspeed               AMERICA
Scorch         Scott Handleman          Pyrokinetic              CANADA
Green Knight   Salvatore Napier         Strength, Regeneration   MEXICO
Fury           Arin Kelsey              Concussion Blasts        MEXICO
Contact        Aaron Zander             Psi, Mind-over-Body      DIPLOMATIC
Breaker        Christina Li             Telekinesis              DIPLOMATIC
Essay          Sara Ana Henderson       Gadgeteer                VENUS
Peregryn       Howard Henderson Jr.     Elemental Mage           VENUS
Beacon         George Sylvester         Living Light             VENUS
Geode          Unknown                  Living Crystal           VENUS
Lightfoot      Tom Dodson               Velocity Control         TRANSIT

[April 15, 2026 - Rome, Italy]

     "This is Gholam Eckhart for Terran News Network, the galaxy's eye on
Earth, with NewsBot 9000, reporting from Roma, Italia, where a reptilian
horror out of the Cretaceous has been running amok through the city for over
thirty minutes now.  It has been tentatively identified as a Scipionyx,
Italy's first-discovered native dinosaur, but it is considerably larger than
any known fossil specimen.  Police have been trying to contain it using riot
gear, but the five meter tall creature has been largely ignoring their best
efforts.  Already, there have been calls to capture it for study, which has
hampered attempts to get permission to use lethal force.
     "Wait, we have a development here!  NewsBot, pan left, thirty mark two!
Yes, it seems that EUROPA's Ymir, along with two agents of the multinational
STRAFE organization, have arrived to lend a hand in capturing the Scipionyx.
Oh my, one of the STRAFE agents is rushing forward and trying to get the
dinosaur's attention!  That could only be the invulnerable Anthony Drake...
can you get a closeup, NewsBot?  Yes, I recognize his shoulder patch, that's
him.  And it appears that the other agent, possibly Jason Teller, is firing a
dart gun into the Scipionyx's mouth, but it's not having much effect.  Brrrr,
if you were here, viewers, you'd be able to feel the temperature drop
suddenly.  It looks like Ymir is attempting to subdue the creature by making
the entire area just too cold for it...I guess here's where we find out if
dinosaurs were really cold-blooded, eh?"
     "Gholam, Chet Carson here, back at the Khadam desk."
     "Go ahead, Chet."
     "Are there any members of the Conclave present that you can see?"
     "No, Chet.  As we last heard, the Conclave was badly mauled in their
successful battle against the forces that tried to destroy Monaco, driving
them off at the cost of several injuries, the crash of Skyhaven, and the
disappearance of Chancellor Radner, who had gone in person to lend his genius
to the mystery of the dome that appeared over Monaco during the Prix Ultime.
A race, it should be said, that is rumored to have had three victors and two
deaths across the several timelines the city was split into.  Khadam's own
Eugene 'Conflicto' Kwan both won the race and died short of the finish line,
making his day quite a story for the news once we can get an interview, ha
     "No doubt, Gholam, ha.  Reports have also come in that EUROPA suffered
losses of its own, and the leader of ASH vanished alongside Chancellor
Radner.  Speculation is rife that Solar Max's incompetence led to another
disaster not unlike the infamous Rockfall."
     "But without the benefits of the Garamante Basin, Chet.  Still, it
wouldn't be fair to speculate further until we know more, we only report.
It's up to the viewers to come to their own conclusions."
     "Too true.  Speaking of reporting?"
     "Yes, the Scipionyx is down.  I guess, even if they're warm-blooded,
dinosaurs don't like subzero temperatures any more than you or I do.  I'm
going to try to get an interview with Ymir, or one of the STRAFE agents, if
NewsBot 9000 and I can get through the police cordon."
     "Good luck with that, Gholam.  Meanwhile, we have satellite pictures to
show you of the ongoing situation in the Sea of Japan, where it appears that
a significant portion of the Mongol invasion fleet of the 13th Century has
mysteriously appeared through one of the many time rifts that have opened
since Chancellor Radner's plan went awry due to the incompetence of his
erstwhile allies...."

               *              *              *              *

[April 15, 2026 - Sea of Japan]

     The JNDF Yokukaze and the rest of its small task force moved swiftly
west along the coast of Fukuoka prefecture in the north of Kyushu.  The five
destroyers and six destroyer escorts had been scrambled as soon as the first
sightings came in of what observers described as a massive sail-based fleet
of some sort.
     Commander Matsui snorted as he looked at the satellite images.  The
fleet was large, certainly, but it was ancient.  There was every indication
that this was, somehow, a time-displaced Mongol fleet, lost after the second
battle of Hakata Bay.  Of all the temporal disruptions he'd heard of, this
was easily the most spectacular...and the least threatening.
     "Enemy sighted, Captain," the sensors ensign reported.
     "Slow to one quarter, we don't want to swamp these poor souls," he
barely restrained himself from snickering.  Several thousand soldiers may be
a threat if they reached land, even with bows and swords, but out here they
were just so much flotsam.
     "Captain, we have...missile contact?"
     "Are they trying to shoot arrows at us?" Commander Matsui frowned,
     "Getting a visual...now," the ensign said, and Matsui's main screen
flickered from radar to a close-up video picture, showing demon-winged Mongol
warriors taking to the skies.
     "Alert point defense batteries!  Go to code purple, we have paranormal
contact!" Matsui ordered over the taskforce push.  "Repeat, this is a
paranormal contact situation!  Get us some air support yesterday, preferably
VTOL, and release all batteries...this is not the milk run we thought it
would be!"
     "Destroyer escort Kazima reports frogmen on the hull, sir.  Literal
     "Damn it, it was a trap," Matsui slammed a fist on his console.  "All
marine detachments on full alert for anti-boarding operations, the enemy has
SEAL assets in the area," he ordered.  SEAL assets capable of latching onto a
ship moving at quarter speed, no less, he thought darkly.  "Task force Go,
execute ninety degree right turn and get us out into open waters, we need to
regroup and give our air support time to show."
     "Sir, we have five aerial contacts moving in from the east, too fast to
be organic."
     "Must be our air support...they certainly got on the stick fast," Matsui
crossed his arms.
     "No, sir.  Not getting JADF transponder codes."
     "Comm, give me a channel.  Attention, incoming air group, please
identify yourselves."
     "This is Hyper Senshi Red, leading Hyper Senshi Team Avatarangers!"
came the voice over the radio.
     "Otakuza filth!" someone on the bridge spat.  
     Matsui ignored the breach of discipline for the moment.  "Senshi team,
this is a military operation.  We expect incoming JADF support soonest,
please clear the airways."
     "With all due respect, Commander, this is the sort of fight we've been
training for most of our lives," Hyper Senshi Red replied.  "Now get your
ships out of here, we'll try to save the Kazima."
     "Save the..." Matsui started.
     "Sir, DE Kazima reports they're under heavy assault, and have lost helm
control!" the comm ensign shouted.  Like too many peacetime soldiers, the man
had never been in a real fight, and he seemed rattled.  "And the destroyer
Sugita has boarders as well!"
     "All units, best speed north!  Missile destroyers, drop a spread on that
Mongol horde while you withdraw, my authorization!" Matsui ordered, his heart
sinking as he saw an explosion bloom on the bridge of the Kazima just before
the five colorful aircraft of the Otakuza reached it.
     It had started out as such a good day....

               *              *              *              *

[April 16, 2026 - Dallas, Texas Sector]

     "Y'know, it looks like such a lovely day otherwise," Janice Freedman
sighed as the NAC Marshal supervised the evacuation of the city center.  Her
voice was slightly muffled by the oxygen mask she wore, its occasional hiss
punctuating her statement.
     Indeed, the sky was clear and the air warm.  Unfortunately, both facts
were a result of the all but invisible tear in the sky, out of which poured
warm but toxic atmosphere at fairly high pressure.
     Marshal Michael "Boomer" Hodgson nodded with a sour expression visible
through his own mask.  "At least this didn't happen back when Dallas had over
five million people, before '98.  And we were lucky that the rift happened
over a section that'd been mostly deconstructed and depopulated already.
Still, this is only going to spread.  This crap," he waved vaguely to
indicate the air around him, "is heavier than the stuff we can breathe, so
it's flowing downhill along the Trinity River valley.  Right now, there's
enough weather going on that it's getting dissipated before it gets too far,
but if we hit a still patch, they could have to evacuate the Houston area
     "I hope it doesn't go on *that* long.  You got nothing on closing it?"
Janice quirked an eyebrow.
     Boomer shrugged.  "I'm a gadget guy, but temporal mechanics are a little
beyond me.  'Hat Rick' got his thinking cap on, though, and if he comes up
with something I can probably build it.  What's really bugging me about this
is that Cassie didn't see it coming at all."
     Janice nodded.  "Well, that's not really surprising, is it?"
     "Cassandra is a computer upload of a precog, but from what you've told
me, she's more a simulation than an actual paranormal.  So she's really good
at projecting and extrapolating...scary good in some cases...but someone has
actually broken time to do this," she pointed at the sky.  "That's going to
throw a kink in any predictive engine's output."
     Boomer frowned, pausing to gesture at a truck driver to get things
moving, then turned back to Janice.  "She's not just a sim.  I've been inside
her...stop smirking, I mean in Nate's virtual reality thing.  But she's more
than just a really good computer program.  I think she's truly paranormal in
the same way the stored engrams of Doublecross were," he said, referring to
the 20th Century's "Lord of the Living Light," who had survived after a
fashion by having a copy trapped in a data storage unit.
     "Whatever, Boomer.  Point stands anyway.  Time's out of joint, as the
Bard put it, which is the whole problem here."  She looked up at the circular
hole in the cloud cover generated by the wind flowing out in all directions.
"At least nothing living has managed to fly against that stream and get
through the gate.  Last thing we need is a Butterfly Effect due to a real
butterfly ending up in whatever distant age this rift leads to...."

               *              *              *              *

[April 16, 2026 - near Poznan, Poland]

     "Why don't we just call in an airstrike and wipe 'em all out?" ASIE
student Felka Wojack snarled.  The young Polish paranormal was understandably
unhappy about the time-displaced Panzer battalion squatting in her home
country.  Like other classmates at the Advanced Sciences Institute of
Eurasia, she had been called up to bolster EUROPA's dwindling numbers in
helping deal with the time crisis set off in the wake of the events in Monaco
the day before.
     "I'd love to," Oberst Erick Bankhoffer sighed, "especially after the way
they blew through my unit."  His small tank squadron had been in the area
when the Nazis had driven through the rift.  Unfortunately, the farmland in
the area looked roughly the same on both sides, so the Nazis had gotten
several miles before realizing something was wrong, and by that time
Bankhoffer had engaged.  Unfortunately, despite his technological
superiority, he simply lacked anything resembling enough numbers to do more
than slow the panzers down slightly.
     Arc shook her head.  "But that's not an option.  Once the initial
conflict ended, we were able to positively ID that particular unit.  Not only
does history show they didn't mysteriously vanish in 1939, but one of the
tank gunners in it survived the war...and his granddaughter is currently
mayor of Berlin.  So we need to put this particular heavily armed genie
firmly back in the bottle, and an airstrike will only make things worse."
     "So, then what?  I'm strong, but not strong enough to grab each panzer
one at a time and carry it back to the rift," Felka snarked.  "And I somehow
doubt they'll listen to a Polish woman telling them they need to turn around,
no matter how strong she is."
     "But they might listen to me," a new voice interjected.
     "Oh, look, it's the Vogue Ghoul," Felka sighed.  Vogue Ghouls were
Europe's answer to Manhattan's paragangs, and about as well-liked.
     "My voguing days are long past," Rechtigkeit smiled.  "And I have a
plan.  Like I said, I think they might listen to me."
     "What makes you think that?" Arc asked, skeptically.  She knew the man
had been playing the part of vigilante in Berlin lately, a sort of German
answer to Warden, but didn't trust him much more than Felka did.  
     "This," he hefted his mystic axe.

               *              *              *              *

[April 16, 2026 - Skyhaven, Monaco Bay]

     "It's like someone took an axe to his memories," Aaron said, blinking as
he pulled out of Timeslip's mind and sat back, stretching his stiff back.
"It's not a natural phenomenon, or the result of injury, though.  Someone did
this on purpose, but not using telepathy."
     "Nor was it magic," Glyph added, addressing the small group gathered in
the medbay.  "I have no such spells myself, but I think I would recognize
their use."
     "So, was it brainwashing, like Rebus used on Agent Ridley once?" Meteor
     Aaron shook his head.  "I don't think so.  This all seems to stem from
the optic center, spreading out into the memories.  My best guess would be
some sort of light-based hypnosis.  Irrlicht, aka Light Errant, would fit the
bill," he shot a glance at Glyph.
     The leader of the CSV frowned.  "Are you accusing me of complicity after
all of the evidence that we are as much victims as you?"
     "Look, calm down," Meteor advised.  "Irrlicht isn't exactly one of your
more trustworthy members, is she?  She's played several sides of the fence in
the past.  And, even if it is her, she might not even be doing this
willingly.  Consider how much power Chiaroscuro seems to have over photonics,
he could have simply forced her to do this.  Or he may be able to duplicate
her powers on his own...remember how he disintegrated that building in Italy?
That was Oblivion's power at work, I'm almost certain of it."
     "But if he was trapped until we freed him yesterday?" Burnout ventured.
"Gah, hate hate hate time travel.  Cause and effect goes right into the
goddamn toilet.  Yeah, he could have done it back in his own time, though,
before all this went down.  Or something."
     "What else did you get?" Conflicto croaked from his nearby bed.  He was
much improved from yesterday, but still not yet up and about.
     "Not a lot.  His memories of these future CSV'ers are as wiped as he
claims, although I got a little bit more on Talos, the bronze guy.
Apparently, he was built by Q'Nos's vizier to be his eventual replacement,
and was getting life experience working with the CSV.  So, maybe Vizier Simon
Smith could give us some insights on the sort of things he might build into
Talos, in the future, if he ever does that now.  Or something."
     "Well, it's better than no intel at all," Meteor shrugged.  "You have
the most familiarity with the area, Aaron.  I'd like you to..."
     "Ahem," Glyph interrupted.  "I would point out that Khadam has an
ambassador in place, who is already familiar with the court *and* Mr. Smith.
I will ask Kaliban to seek this information for us.  It will be faster, and
more likely to succeed, given that Kaliban already knows the man better than
any of us here do."
     "I'll get some rest, then, and see if I can piece together anything else
in Timeslip's brain," Aaron offered.
     "I'd certainly appreciate it," Timeslip muttered.

               *              *              *              *

[April 17, 2026 - Falcon Bay, Venus]

     "...and in the eyes of God, of those assembled here today, and all those
who love this child but could not be present, I do christen this child Rosa
Alejandra Maribel Henderson," the priest finished the blessing, placing a dab
of oil on the child's forehead.
     Peregryn watched the procedings with a sort of detached amusement.  He'd
always found Catholicism to be nearly mystical in its preponderance of
ceremonies...in fact, a goodly fraction of his grimoires had rituals that
closely paralleled those of Mother Church for very good reasons.  The powers
that Catholics invoked may not be inclined to directly answer pleas for
action, but it wasn't because the faithful were asking the wrong way.  The
same rituals, addressed to a more interactive power, tended to work more
often than not...which, he supposed, was why the Church was so touchy about
things like the Black Mass.
     Still, unlike many mages, he didn't dismiss the Christian God out of
hand.  Inaction did not imply nonexistence, and it was unwise to make enemies
where none were needed.  That he did not actually believe in YHWH himself was
immaterial...his wife and her family believed, and if Rosa decided when she
was older that she too believed, he would respect that.  But he would make
sure Rosa also knew about the other powers of the supernatural.  For, if one
was a fool to disregard a God who did not often intervene, then one was ten
times a fool to disregard those spirits that liked to meddle.  Such as
Inanna, who had taken a liking to Rosa, and had incarnated several times
since the birth to visit, including once to perform her own naming ceremony,
giving Rosa a name that even Peregryn and Sara were not privy to.
     "Go now, in peace," the priest concluded the ceremony, which had
continued while Peregryn had been lost in thought.
     "So many names for such a little baby," Essay grinned, cradling Rosa.
Today Rosa was a girl, at least, which had made the baptism a bit less
awkward.  Her shapeshifting talent had so far not taken her far from the
human form, but her gender tended to shift irregularly.  "Of course, one of
my cousins had ten middle names...too many grandparents and uncles and aunts
who needed to be honored, but his parents only had two kids."
     Peregryn smiled a little at that.  "And how many of those middle names
were from aunts and grandmothers?"
     "Just two," she smirked back at him.  "Although little Rosalita could
have maybe stood an uncle's name in there, I guess."  There had, in fact,
been discussion of making Essay's deceased cousin Carlos a posthumous
godfather and namesake, but he'd already been honored in two baby boys before
he had been murdered back in 2022 and one since.
     The baptismal party was a much smaller affair than the wedding reception
had been, which was to be expected.  The young colony could only spare time
for so many large events, after all.  Still, it was a somewhat nervous
affair, even with only close friends and relatives.  
     Events back on Earth had people edgy, especially Beacon.  News that the
new villain Chiaroscuro could absorb the power of a photonic was particularly
troublesome to him...unlike Llyr, he had no solid body to revert to.  He
would simply cease to exist.  Additionally, Labyrinthe had failed to report
in for several days, either at Falcon Bay or in Montreal, which had everyone
     "Peregryn, you're wanted at the south gate," one of the NAC Marshals
assigned to Falcon Bay whispered.  A palisade wall had been erected around
the core of the settlement recently, more for the psychological comfort it
provided than out of any real protection.  "It's a beetle."
     Ah, the meddlesome spirits, he thought.  "Certainly, Marshal Tolliver,"
he nodded, then turned to catch Sara's eye.  "Business," he mouthed, and she
motioned for him to go before turning back to the adoring crowd cooing over
     The stone beetle waited patiently at the gate, its oddly feathery
antennae waving gently in the breeze off the bay.  Nearly two meters long,
the top of its carapace came up to Peregryn's waist.
     "Greetings, mage," it buzzed in a rough approximation of a woman's
     "Greetings, TerraStar," he returned the greeting.  The daughter of the
alien conqueror WarStar had found her spirit bound into the giant stone
beetle Heraclius recently, after spending months inhabiting the body of
Geode, former member of the Moslem Confederation's superhuman team.  Rather
than come in "person" as the several hundred meter tall walking mountain that
was Heraclius, she preferred to use his "children" as emissaries.  "You have
arrived too late for the ceremony, if that was your purpose."
     "I am uninterested in the rituals of a silent god.  No, I have come for
far more important reasons.  I felt the GeoMace...I know my body has been
freed from its imprisonment on Earth, and I wish to have it brought here."
Never one to be considered humble, she had clearly become more arrogant since
joining with the demigod's spirit.
     "I will mention your desires when I next contact Earth.  But events are
transpiring there that threaten great devastation...they may have other
priorities for the immediate future.  Time itself was nearly unraveled,"
Peregryn replied.
     The emissary beetle buzzed in irritation.  "If it is too much
inconvenience to send my body, I will be satisfied with assurances that it
will be left unharmed.  But I need the GeoMace.  Events are transpiring
*here* on Venus that you may be unaware of, the spawn of Doublecross have
been active, and they have more ability to affect the children of Heraclius
than we are comfortable with.  The GeoMace would let me focus my own powers
in aid of Heraclius, and prevent the orange one from luring our children
     Silently noting that TerraStar may be more bound to Heraclius than she
thought, Peregryn nodded.  "I will see that they know the urgency of the
situation.  The last thing we need is some unrelated faction taking advantage
of the fact that our attention is focused on Earth."
     If they were truly unrelated, that was....

               *              *              *              *

[April 18, 2026 - Sea of Japan]

     Five advanced fighter planes, hybrids of both alien technology and
Tesla-Index-based supertech, arrowed in on the Mongol fleet at low Mach
speed, unleashing a barrage of air to surface missiles.  The missiles
splashed ineffectually against shields of darkness that sprang into existence
to meet them.  The five brightly colored wedges split off in every direction
before regrouping east of the fleet.
     "No good!  They're blocking our rockets, just like they did the ones
from the JNDF task force!" the Yellow Senshi shouted.
     "We're just going to have to take it up close and personal, then,
Senshi!  Everyone, eject and battlize!" the Red Senshi commanded.
     The jets pulled into hover mode for the briefest of moments, the
canopies opening to let their pilots leap out before flying back to base on
autopilot.  As the five rainbow-hued warriors fell, each pulled out a wedge-
shaped badge and held it out in front of themselves.
     "Red Firebird Senshi...BATTLIZE!"
     "Blue Steelshark Senshi...BATTLIZE!"
     "Yellow Windsnake Senshi...BATTLIZE!"
     "Green Treefrog Senshi...BATTLIZE!"
     "Violet Earthpig Senshi...BATTLIZE!"
     As they spoke, each was enveloped in a bright glowing nimbus matching
their uniform color, and armor materialized around them, summoned from
dimensional pockets impossible to normal physics.  Totemic designs marked
each armor, which was sleekly metallic yet oddly bulky and seemingly
cumbersome.  The Firebird and Treefrog armors accentuated the feminine curves
of their wearers.  The Steelshark and Windsnake armors made the men wearing
them appear more sinuous and lethal, while the Earthpig armor was bulkier
than the other four combined.
     The demon Mongols below had not merely watched as this happened, and a
host of batwinged warriors rose to meet the falling Avatarangers.  Each
Senshi met the threat in his or her own inimitable style, of course.
     Firebird sprouted wings of flame, veering to avoid her foes and arrowing
down to the deck level, lashing at the masts with the trailing triple tails
of her armor.  
     Steelshark slashed at the wings of those foolish enough to meet him,
bringing them down into the water with him, where his speed and blades made
quick work of both them and the frogmen who he found there.  
     Windsnake glided confidently past his demon Mongols, striking quickly
with poisoned gloves and leaving them to fall in agony.  
     Treefrog actually used her opponents as a path to the surface, bounding
from one to the next, an explosion marking where bomblets released by her
boots did their concussive work on each.  
     And Earthpig?  He simply plummetted through any who tried to get near,
landing with a crunch on the deck of one of the ships, causing it to lurch
perilously to one side.
     "I still think we need to get ourselves a giant robot," Windsnake said
as he moved towards the golden-sailed junk that had to be the flagship.  
     "That'd be cool," Earthpig agreed.
     "Men and their toys," Treefrog sighed, leaping from a ship just before
the deck exploded in green flames.  "The personal touch is much more fun!"
     "This may take longer, but it looks like whatever was protecting them
against our missiles isn't as good at handling individual threats," Firebird
pointed out.  "Plus, it looks like it's no good against underwater threats,"
she added as a ship mysteriously tipped and started to sink just before the
water belched up a cloud of blue smoke.  "Blue's having a good time," she
smiled before diving to slice another mast in two.
     "WHO ARE YOU TO OPPOSE ME?" a powerful voice boomed across the waves.
They all turned to look at the gold-sailed junk, where a man in black robes
stood imperiously.  "I AM THE MIGHTY AKURYU!"
     Each Senshi leapt to the top of a different mast on one of the larger
ships, before replying in unison, "We are Hyper Senshi Team Avataranger,
heroes of Japan!"
     "More or less," Windsnake added under his breath.
     "Shh!" Treefrog chided.
     "FOOLS!  YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR THE SHADOW DRAGON!" Akuryu howled, and the
darkness that formed his cloak suddenly billowed outward, growing and rising
as it took the form of a gigantic, sinuous dragon of pure black!
     "Now would be a really good time to have a giant robot," Metalshark
muttered as he clambered up onto a ship.  Treefrog just nodded this time.
     "Avatarangers, we need to use the Totem Beam!" Firebird commanded,
holding up the badge from which her armor had come.  Red in color, it was
clearly one fifth of a circle.
     "But we've never gotten it to work in practice!" Windsnake protested.
     "Sensei says it could kill us all!" Metalshark added.
     "It only has a fifteen percent chance of working!" Earthpig shouted.
     "No!  It WILL work!" Treefrog leapt over to the spar next to Firebird,
slamming her green wedge into place against the leader's.  "With guts, it's
     "Right!" Windsnake added his yellow wedge, and the badges started to
glow as the shadow dragon swam its way through the air towards them.
     "Let's go!" Metalshark put his in place.
     "And that makes five!" Earthpig finished it, the mast swaying as he
landed on it.
     A blazing beam of white light shot out of the rainbow-colored disc,
striking the shadow dragon squarely in the mouth.  For a long, horrible
moment, it seemed to be devouring the light and growing stronger, larger!
     Then it ballooned up for an instant before exploding in a shower of
light and shadow!
     Moments later, the Otakuza warriors woke up on the deck of the ship,
dazed and back in their unarmored costumes.  All was silent, and the other
ships were gone, save for a few sinking hulks.
     "We did it!  They're all gone!" the Green Senshi leapt high into the
     "Gone, yes.  But where?" the Red Senshi posed dramatically.

               *              *              *              *

[Dogo Island, Shimane Prefecture]

     Akuryu rose shakily to one knee.  "The transport spell was almost more
than I could manage so soon after emerging from the Netherworld...I must have
time to recover.  Generals!"
     A trio of Mongol officers, much more demonically deformed than most of
the crew, snapped to attention on the gold-sailed junk.
     "Sieze this island for me," Akuryu commanded.  "We will rest here for a
time as I better assess what this new world has to offer.  Clearly, the
Avatarangers are a threat I must prepare more carefully for, if I am to
destroy them...."

               *              *              *              *

[April 19, 2026 - Earth Orbit]

     Panels emitted faint sparks, despite multiple redundant baffles meant to
prevent feedback from reaching all the way to the bridge.  The stresses of
even a normal Twist tended to send current surging throughout any ship, as
conversion to and from tachyonic matter had a differential effect on slower
bulk matter and the much faster electrons that moved through the circuitry
that made up the Imperial Santari Fleet ship Fornax's nerves.
     "Dectos Vega, damage report!" the commander snarled, trying to calm his
jangling nerves.
     "That was no standard Twist," the Dectos confirmed.  "We have systems
down or damaged shipwide.  But we're still at 60% combat effectiveness if we
have to fight right now."
     "I'm guessing we lost our entire escort with that mis-Twist," commander
Hektane shot a glance to his sensors rating, who confirmed his suspicions
with a nod.  "Well, the Fornax is a good ship, if we have to, we can survive
on our own long enough to get back to the fleet.  Navs, where did this Twist
drop us?"
     "You're not going to like this, commander."
     "I already don't like it.  Where are we?"
     "Sol system.  Five Twists from the closest Santari position, and ten
from where we started.  Deep in United Worlds territory.  But we must've
taken more sensor damage than I thought, because I'm not picking up any UW


Next Issue:

     Timequake continues, but will it matter one whit if the planet-smasher
ISF Fornax unleashes its fury on an essentially defenseless planet?  Well,
odds are that won't happen yet, but things still don't look too good....  Be
here in ASH #80 for "Timequake Part 2: Blitzkrieg!"


Author's Notes:

     NewsBot9000 inspired by Utilitarian.  I figured that the only news
organization really likely to have a NewsBot would be Khadam-based, hence the
level of naked bias that would make even the most partisan real world news
organizations look fair and balanced.  Radner's Rule #86, after all.
     Scipionyx is a really small therapod, a relative to T.rex, first dug up
in Italy in 1981 and finally identified as a separate species in 1998.  A
juvenile skeleton measured only 20cm long, with adults estimated to be about
2 meters long.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scipionyx has more info.  The
original "script" called for a T.rex, but those weren't native to Italy, and
I decided to try to keep most of the rifts as time-only, not space-warps.  :)
     Yes, the Avatarangers are a little on the goofy side.  This is because
they are trying to be goofy, they're not called Otakuza for nothing.  Much
like ASH members tend to adopt the tropes of 20th Century "capes and tights"
superheroes and the CSV is a bit flamboyantly "villainous", the Otakuza
emulate the conventions of the super sentai shows (imported to the U.S. as
Power Rangers).  At least, the conventions they're able to emulate...as
mentioned, they don't yet have any giant robots, and probably won't get any.
Just a bit beyond their budget and tech resources.
     A map of Dogo (and associated coastal Shimane Prefecture) can be found
at http://www.kankou.pref.shimane.jp/e/spot/map.html, I just couldn't resist
putting the baddies by Lizard Rock.  I don't really plan to have the
Avataranger/Akuryu conflict take center stage again for a while, but it'll be
there in the background.  And if anyone really wants to write an Avataranger
series, let me know.  :)
     The ISF Fornax first appeared in Spear Carriers #2, set in the year
3723, and blowed up real good.  However, there's no guarantee that the future
of Spear Carriers is even going to happen now, regardless of what happens to
the Fornax in 2026....


     For all the back issues, plus additional background information, art,
and more, go to http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH !

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post, or check out our Yahoo discussion group, which can be found at
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