ASH: Coherent Super Stories featuring Dragonfly #2: The View From Here

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Tue May 15 11:35:56 PDT 2007

     The cover shows Dragonfly and Ladyhawke fighting against a menagerie of
foes, both human and robotic, and clearly looking like they're enjoying every
minute of it.  Dragonfly asks Ladyhawke, "What do you think of the odds?"
She's replying, "Oh, they're not THAT odd."

 .|, COHERENT                                            An ASHistory Series
 '|` SUPER STORIES                        #2 - The View From Here
        Featuring Dragonfly               copyright 2007 by Dave Van Domelen

     The next few years were a total blast.  Amy and I got better at the
whole superhero thing, I upgraded our gear several times, and we really made
a name for ourselves.  Of course, we ran into a lot of bad people too,
sometimes at high speed in Amy's case....

               *              *              *              *

[March 13, 1972 - Detroit, Michigan]

     "Smoke," Ladyhawke said over the radio link.
     "I see it," I replied.  I was still trying to get a decent police band
scanner miniaturized enough to put in our helmets, but back then we had to
just keep an eye out for trouble during our overflights of the big city.  "I
think that's a bank."
     "I think you're right...and someone's coming out into the back
alleyway," she added.  Her vision was better than mine, but I was working on
some telescopic lenses for my own helmet.
     We dove down into the alley to see a muscular black man in a dark
sweater and stocking cap carrying a number of bags out the back of the bank.
Strange-colored smoke leaked out behind him, visible as it drifted into the
glow of the streetlights.
     "Huh, I'd heard of banks with a night deposit window, but not a night
withdrawal one," Ladyhawke said by way of announcing her presence as we both
came into a hover.
     "We'll need to see your bankbook, sir," I added.
     "Do I look like a robot?" the man said, indignantly.  
     "No, you look like a rather large bank robber," I replied, a bit taken
     "Well, you just go find some robots to fight, then, honky.  I'm just
redistributin' some wealth here."
     "Could we be getting typecast?" Ladyhawke asked me in mock horror.  "We
really must talk to our agent," she smirked.  We actually did have an agent,
of sorts.  Bennett Rush, of the Department of Super-Human Affairs, was
assigned to our case.  We still hadn't brought up the idea of having him
represent us in a commercial sense at that point, though.
     "You do that," the burglar sneered.  "Say, how high you think you are
right now?  Ten feet?"
     "Um, yeah?" I replied.
     "Good, you should survive the fall, then," he threw something at us,
which burst into a cloud of that same strange smoke.
     "Gas!" Ladyhawke shouted, backwinging hard, both to get away from the
cloud and to try to blow it away.  I added my efforts, my smaller wings
beating furiously.  My helmet was closed, but offered no more protection
against gas attacks than a motorcycle helmet back then.  Fortunately, the
prevailing wind was with us as well, and I only felt a little woozy from the
one whiff we got.
     "Damn, that was my backup," the burglar sighed.  "Hard way, then," he
dropped the rest of the bags and pulled off his sweater, revealing an
X-shaped harness with a strange contraption at the center of it.  Pressing
a combination of buttons on the center piece, he seemed to swell like a
balloon inflating, his muscles getting larger and denser.  "Just call me
Powerhouse," he added as he jumped at me.
     I tried to drop under him, but he managed to snag one of my wings as he
zoomed overhead, just enough to spin me around and send me crashing into a
     My vision swam as I pulled up into the air to try to get some distance,
but I could hear Ladyhawke grunting in pain as she kicked him and found it
like kicking a brick wall.  Later, she told me she probably could have used
her wings against him and it wouldn't have mattered...but we'd agreed early
on not to use those horrible slicing weapons against anything living unless
there was no alternative.
     Clearing my head, I fired my tail laser at Powerhouse, and now it was
his turn to make a pained sound.
     "Actually felt that," he snarled.  "Still, I got the solution to a
laser," he smiled, teeth white in the darkness.  He pressed another
combination of buttons on his harness, and suddenly his skin took on a
mirrored sheen.
     "You're a bad reflection on your kind," Ladyhawke smirked as she flew
around behind him and scooped up the moneybags.  She almost crashsed under
the additional mass, he'd been carrying quite a lot of cash, but the harness
compensated in time and she zoomed skyward with the load.
     "Was that some kinda racist crack, lady?" Powerhouse shook his fist at
the sky.
     "Well, you know us honkies," I tossed his own epithet back in his face.
"I guess we should stick to robots, it's harder to hurt their feelings."
     Snarling, Powerhouse threw down another capsule, which exploded into a
thick, billowing cloud of smoke.  The wind cleared it away in seconds, but by
that time he was nowhere to be seen.  What could be seen, however, was a hole
in the pavement, leading down into the storm sewers.
     "I hate it when they do that.  Run into somewhere we can't fly," I
     Ladyhawke landed with the moneybags.  "Maybe we should team up with
someone who likes tunnels?  One of those 'tunnel rat' guys coming home from
Vietnam, perhaps?"
     "I don't think they really *liked* that job, dear.  Come on, let's make
sure the guard inside is okay...."

               *              *              *              *

[September 19, 1972 - Pontiac, Michigan]

     The shovel bit into the dirt, and I carefully turned over a bit of the
pre-loosened soil in step with Ladyhawke and a few local politicians of
     "I hereby declare the construction of the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium
officially underway!" Governor Milliken proclaimed.  "And let's do something
about the mud while we're at it, eh?" he chuckled, stomping his foot on the
slightly damp soil.  An infamous incident with Tiger Stadium's muddy field
had in part spurred the decision to build a new, domed stadium for Detroit's
professional sports teams.
     One of the pieces of heavy construction equipment roared to life as if
in answer to the applause.  It seemed a little early for that to me, but
maybe it took them a few minutes to warm up properly.  "Should we move now?"
I asked one of the PR flacks.
     "No, no, we still have some pictures to take," he replied, looking
slightly irked.
     "What about him?" I jerked a thumb towards one of the bulldozers.
     "He's early," was the snipped reply.  "Let me go talk to..."
     "HALT, FOUL INVADER!" a man in archaic-looking armor shouted as he
pulled up to the edge of the crowd in a high-performance muscle car.  His
driver was a powerfully built man wearing kevlar body armor, a marked
contrast to the skinny speaker in his Spanish helmet.
     The PR flack just about exploded.  "Get your deluded self out of here,
Quixote!" he shouted, completely forgetting about the bulldozer that was
starting to move forward.
     "Oh, the infamous Don Quixote," Ladyhawke chuckled.  "I was wondering
when we'd run into him."
     "Well, we don't spend much time fighting imaginary giants disguised as
windmills, so I guess our paths don't cross a whole lot," I replied, setting
down my shovel.  That bulldozer was starting to worry me, though, and I
casually slipped a gravity nullifier from my belt.  Not that it was really
strong enough to affect the 'dozer, but I might need it to help me get some
people out of the way.
     "Do not be fooled, Governor!" Don Quixote proclaimed as he leapt from
the car, drawing a sword that seemed to shimmer with a light of its own.
"Yon earth-mover is in fact an Earth *conqueror* in clever disguise!" he
pointed the blade directly at the bulldozer.  "The denizens of Dimension Z
are attempting to use this joyous occasion to assassinate important figures,
and that I will not stand idly by for!"
     "Now, folks, maybe we should pay attention to this fine hero's warning,"
Governor Milliken said, as one humoring a child.  Everyone knew that Quixote
was a loon, none of his disguised "giant invaders" had ever turned out to be
anything but exactly what they looked for...but he had a rather sharp sword,
and his assistant was known to pack heat.  So it wasn't a great idea to mock
him too openly.
     I stepped between Don Quixote and the governor.  "Look, Don, put the
pigsticker away and I'll help you look for this invader."
     Then the bulldozer gunned its engine and surged forward.
     "Scatter!" Quixote's driver shouted as he stepped out of the car,
pulling out a heavy pistol.  Ladyhawke scooped up two nearby dignitaries and
flew them to safety, leaving the governor to me.
     In the confusion, Don Quixote jumped past everyone and landed atop the
bulldozer, which I could now see had no driver!  With a savage thrust of his
sword, he brought a shower of sparks from the control panel, and the
construction equipment ground to a halt.
     "Come, Sancho, our job here is done!" Quixote announced, dashing back to
the car.  With a roar of its turbocharged engine, the car turned and left.  A
few police cruisers that had been on hand turned on their sirens to give
     I set the governor down.
     "That maniac!" he sputtered.
     "I'm not so sure he was wrong this time, your grace," I replied.  "There
wasn't anyone in the driver's seat.  That bulldozer started up on its own.
It might not be Quixote's 'Dimension Z' people behind it, but someone was
certainly up to no good."
     "Maybe the Tinker Ten are back in town," Ladyhawke suggested.  "They're
not really into political crime, but they'll do just about anything if the
price is right."
     "Quixote must've hired them to fake this up, so people would believe his
crazy stories!" the PR flack was back.
     In the end, no one could find any evidence of control gear installed in
the bulldozer, and it was written off as a mystery.  Just another bit of
weirdness in a weird age.

               *              *              *              *

[November 13, 1972 - Detroit, Michigan]

     "That's the last of the drones," Ladyhawke said as she sliced the
modified assembly line robot into pieces with her wings.  The factory was
littered with partially finished combat drones, rushed into production
overnight but not completed enough to really stand a chance in a fight.
     "I don't know how you tracked me down before my plans were ready,
accursed carbonforms," Antiochus V sneered, "but one day your luck will run
out.  You must win every battle, but I need only be victorious a single time
and your disgusting kind will be supplanted!"
     "Given how well we've done the past five times, LABRAT," I said, knowing
how much it hated that old name, "it's going to be a long time before you get
that one victory.  Since you bothered to polish yourself up for me, looks
like I get to try out a new toy instead of just lasering you again."
     "You'll find my new electrocoils more potent as well, and my defeated
servants bought me sufficient time to fully charge them!" Antiochus V
boasted.  With that, it unleashed a torrent of electrical arcs that spread
out over the entire factory.
     "WHOA!" Ladyhawke shouted, barely avoiding one of the larger bolts as
she twisted through the air.
     "I was hoping you'd do that," I chuckled, pulling a somewhat bulky tube
from my back.  Pointing one end at the mad robot, I pushed the red button on
the side, firing a curious projectile at Antiochus V.
     "What foolishness is this?" the robot exclaimed as the strange rod
spanged into its armor.  "Your toy has failed to even dent my plating,
     "It's not meant to.  I call it Ben Franklin's Folly...a super lightning
rod.  Allow me to demonstrate," I turned a dial on my belt, activating the
     Suddenly, all the arcing electricity focused its full fury on the rod
magnetically clamped to Antiochus's chest.
     "My electrocoils!  Must...deactivate!  NO!  I cannot!" Antiochus V
screamed in shock.  "Circuits are fused...EJECT!"
     With a great puff of smoke, Antiochus V's head launched from its
shoulders atop a rocket motor that carried it through a skylight and out into
the late autumn pre-dawn sky.
     "DOWN!" I shouted, diving behind a section of the assembly line.
Ladyhawke followed suit, not even waiting for my warning.  This was, after
all, becoming something of a routine.
     As expected, Antiochus V's body detonated as powerful explosives ripped
it into shrapnel, denying us any chance of analyzing the technology he was
using to improve himself.
     "Damn," I said as I picked myself back up.  "I was hoping the BFF would
short that stuff out."
     "Well, there's always next time," Ladyhawke sighed.  
     We both knew there would probably be a LOT of next times.

               *              *              *              *

[January 2, 1973 - Grand Rapids, Michigan]

     "Come one, come all, we offer only the finest merchandise from around
the galaxy!" the four-armed pitchman shouted.  His mouth didn't move in synch
with the words, which clearly came out of a box hanging around his neck.
Other than that, and the four arms, he looked more or less human.  He had
even dressed up as some sort of turn of the century carny barker, and the
setup in front of his spaceship could only be described as circus-like.  All
around, people were looking at the strange and wondrous objects laid out for
sale and trade.  Offers of money were being refused, but occasional trades
were being made.  Some of the trades seemed rather odd, like one man who
traded his tie-dyed t-shirt for a gizmo covered in blinking lights.
     I'd left Ladyhawke behind on this seemed interesting, but we
were following another lead on Antiochus V and decided it couldn't be left
completely alone, so she was tracking that down.
     "Hello, mister...?" I stepped up to the barker and held out a hand for
him to shake.
     "Greetings!  My, aren't you a colorful one?  How much for the headgear?
Ah, but my name isn't pronounceable in your language," he tapped
his voxbox with one of his left hands, "But you can call me Opens-New-
Markets.  I'm a traveling trader and explorer out here on the fringes of
civilized space, and always glad to find new customers."
     After a long moment, I withdrew my hand when it was clear he wasn't
going to take it.  Something about him seemed wrong, but I couldn't put a
finger on it.  Maybe it was just his alienness.  Or how he didn't seem *that*
alien, actually.  Like he was playing dress-up in some way.
     Not, really, that I could complain about people playing dress-up.  Not
in my line of "work".
     "So, where do you hail from?" I asked, keeping my tone as friendly and
casual as I could.
     "Here and there," he smiled.  "My people are from a planet around a star
not visible from his hemisphere, and I don't actually know what you people
call it, but I intend to find out soon!  After all, it's hard to establish a
good business relationship if people don't even know where I'm from, right?"
he grinned widely, almost too widely.  "So, I notice you have some
antigravity tech, but it's not like anything I've seen before.  Would you be
willing to do a little trading of designs?  I bet I could get you something a
lot better than that light emitter in your tail.  Love the tail, by the way.
And here I thought this species had no fashion sense!"
     I was a bit taken aback at that.  I must have been scanned as I
approached, and Opens-New-Markets briefed on me somehow.  Maybe a hidden
earpiece.  Maybe his native language wasn't even within my range of hearing,
so he and his crew could just be talking out in the open and I'd never know.
     "Maybe later," I demurred.  "Why Grand Rapids, though?  There's
certainly bigger cities, even nearby.  Wouldn't they be better markets?"
     "Ah, you might think so, if you didn't have my experience with new
worlds.  No, you don't want the bigger cities, too much chance of
encountering a hostile response.  Common criminals, if nothing else, and some
governments are a little protective of their larger population centers.  Big
enough so that word gets out, small enough to be friendly, that's my motto.
Always the best..."
     He was cut off by a barrage of pink laser beams from the sky.  None of
them hit anything but the ground, but people started to scatter anyway.
     "I know what you are," a voice came from above.  "And it's time to take
this snake owl salesman operation off the planet!"
     Snake...owl?  "Who's there?" I demanded, taking to the air as my wings
unfurled from their compartments in my backpack.  Still, Opens-New-Markets
did feel a lot like a snake *oil* salesman, that was true.  
     "You can call me Delta Rose," she replied, banking out of the Sun so
that I could see her without squinting.  She wore a pink and white bodysuit
with a set of pink glider membranes that made me think of a flying squirrel.
"And I'm here to give these guys the bum's steer!"
     "I think you mean bum's rush...and why?"
     "Isn't it obvious?  They're fakes, frauds, queer as a two dollar bill!"
she claimed.  I instantly pegged her as something of a space
wouldn't be until much later that I'd know how right I was about that.
     "I object, officer!  I'm a legitimate trader!" Opens-New-Markets shook
both right fists in indignation.
     "Officer?" I said, mostly to myself.
     "Would a legit trader use a holoshroud?" she asked, firing one of her
pink lasers very carefully at a spot on the grounded spaceship.  Suddenly,
the entire setting changed character.  Most of the bunting and colorful
decorations vanished.  More importantly, the four-armed carny workers
suddenly became four-armed hairy snakes!  People who hadn't already run at
Delta Rose's attack started to do so now, some shrieking in terror.
     "Damn it!" Opens-New-Markets cursed, his...beak?...working furiously.
Huh, he *was* a snake owl salesman.  "I'll file a complaint!"
     "Good luck with that," Delta Rose shot back.
     Within moments, the ship was all packed up and had taken off in a burst
of plasma that baked the ground for yards in all directions.  Fortunately,
all the customers had fled pretty thoroughly by then, so no one was hurt.
     I motioned for Delta to come down and talk.
     "What was that all about?" I asked.
     "Oh, just some untrustworthy aliens trying to swindle the good people of
Grand Rapids.  Primitive artworks are really hot in the offworld markets
right now, I hear, and I saw people giving up stuff at shamefully low
     "Oh, you'r familiar with aliens?"
     "A bit," she admitted, an edge of vapidity in her voice that now started
to feel like it might be faked.  
     "Have you met Brightsword yet?  Works out in San Francisco still, even
though things have pretty much quieted down that way."
     "No, why should I have?"
     "Well, he got his powers from alien experimentation."
     "Oh, really?" she asked, the vapidity completely gone now.
     "Well, he says he did, anyway.  But I don't have any reason to doubt his
story.  And his plasma torch isn't like any earthly technology I'm familiar
with...and I'm pretty familiar with it, if I do say so myself."
     "Well, thanks for the heads-out!  I'll try to talk to him, I might be
able to shed some light on his situation.  See you in the funny cars!" she
added, then flew off.
     One of my odder days, to be sure.

               *              *              *              *

[February 28, 1973 - Ann Arbor, MI]

     "Odd, aren't haunted houses usually old Victorian things?" I asked.
     Walt chuckled.  "Well, if you want the whole package, sure.  But this
place seems to be the real thing, even though it's post World War Two tract
housing," he gestured to take in the modest ranch house.  "I know you're into
weird stuff, what with that pseudoscience you're getting into, so I figured
you'd get a kick out of this place."
     Walt was right, but not just for reasons of my day job at Michigan
State.  Despite the public scorn heaped on him, I was really starting to
think Don Quixote was onto something real, and had started tinkering with
ideas I had for a sensor that could pick up interdimensional breaches.  Of
course, I hadn't encountered any verifiable breaches yet, so I had no idea if
it'd work.  Hence accepting Walt's invitation while at Ann Arbor for some day
job stuff.
     "I noticed you brought some instrumentation," the gaunt physicist nodded
at the satchel I was carrying.
     "Oh, just some gravity sensors.  You said there were some poltergeist
manifestations here?"
     "Yeah, it's why the house is up for sale.  The couple living here got
tired of things randomly moving around on their own.  You think it could be a
gravitational anomaly?" he asked.
     I shrugged.  "Honestly?  I have no idea.  But gravity is my specialty,
and as long as you have a hammer you might as well see if there's any nails
around right?"  I opened the bag and carefully extracted the scanner.  It did
detect gravitational anomalies, and might even pick up poltergeists in a
pinch, but it was really calibrated for trying to find subtler differences
than that.  "Lemme get a baseline outside before we go in...okay, that should
do it."
     "I told the realtor I might be able to figure out what was going on, so
she gave me a key," Walt winked.  "No need to point out that my field is
solid state semiconductors, eh?"
     "Heh.  How many of these little tours have you given already?"
     "Just two, but nothing really happened," Walt said with obvious
     As we stepped across the threshold, my sensors started to jump.  "Whoa.
Something weird's going on in here.  Let's stop moving for a second, just in
case it's motion, still going str..."
     That's when the sensor flew from my hands and smashed to pieces against
a wall.
     "Holy...!" Walt gasped, turning to the door.
     The door slammed shut before he could reach it.  "It's stuck!" Walt
shouted as he yanked at the handle.
     My first impulse was to put on my costume, but there were three problems
with that idea.
     One, goodbye secret identity.
     Two, costume was in the car.
     Three, lasers might not be much use against ghosts.
     Before I could decide which window to try diving out, a sickly yellow-
green cloud seemed to form in the middle of the living room, just off to my
right.  As it gathered together it seemed to be making the shape of a man, a
man fighting unseen figures.  I heard what sounded like a distant gunshot,
and saw a bright flash from the end of one of the ghostly figure's arms.
     A table flew into the air, straight at the yellow ghost, who ducked
under it and fired another shot from his phantom pistol.
     "What the heck is going on here?" Walt shouted, hammering at the
windowpanes of the door to no effect.
     "Ghosts fighting other ghosts?" I ventured.  The yellow ghost was coming
into sharper focus, and I could just start ot make out faint outlines of the
figures he was fighting as well.  "Wait...I think I recognize the yellow
one.  One of the newer superheroes out of Boston, I forget the name."
     "call me fantom..." the wind seemed to whisper.  "ghostworld criminals
here.  leave it to me."
     There was another flash of phantasmal gunfire, and suddenly Walt's
hammering threw the door wide open, making him stumble through.
     Not waiting for an invitation, I followed him through.
     A few minutes passed as we just stood there, staring at the house,
wondering if we should go back in or just run away as fast as we could.
Eventually, I went back in to collect the wreckage of my sensor, and it was
silent and still.
     "Okay, since when do ghosts use guns?" Walt asked, poking his head back
into the house after me.
     "The Fantom does.  That's with an f, not a ph," I replied.  "Amy was
telling me about him a few weeks his start up around Boston, but
he's been sighted other places since.  Made a suit that lets him pop between
here and a place he calls the Ghostworld.  Guess the poltergeists here were
his baddies."
     "That means no more haunting?" Walt asked.
     "Assuming that a ghost bullet will kill a ghost criminal, I'd guess so.
Unless the place gets haunted by the ghost of a ghost...."

               *              *              *              *

     Of course, it wasn't all team-ups and fight scenes.  There was one other
important event in my life during those glory years...two events, if you
count the fact that it happened once in civvies and once in costume....

               *              *              *              *

[June 16, 1973 - outside Alma, MI]

     "We're gathered here today to recognize the love between these two
heroes, and their committment to share their lives," Lady Lawful addressed
the small gathering.  It was a beautiful late spring day, although I'll admit
I didn't really spend much time looking at the scenery.  Or the guests.  Or
anything but Amy, who wore a dazzling white variant of her usual costume, a
gift from Flower Power (although I suspected that her husband, Union Label,
had done the actual dressmaking...the man had a tough-guy right-winger
reputation to maintain, but I knew he was the tailor of that couple).
     "Dragonfly and Ladyhawke asked me to preside over this ceremony because,
and I quote, 'You're the closest thing our line of work has to an elder
statesman.'  If that's not a hint that I should be retiring, I don't know
what is," she smirked, and polite laughter rippled through those gathered.
Truth to tell, not a lot of the World War II-era heroes were even still alive
anymore, much less semi-active as Lady Lawful was.  She certainly didn't look
like she was old enough to have been running around in costume in the 1940s.
Or to have been drawing breath, for that matter.
     I spared a nervous glance behind me, something I could do without moving
now that I'd finally built the all-around-vision system for my helmet.  While
we really didn't have a formal wedding party put together, a few of the usual
roles had gotten filled by people simply deciding they wanted to do it.
Flower Power, naturally, was the flower girl, and her powers had made sure
that the garden we were assembled in looked as grand and lovely as possible.
Brightsword had somehow decided he was giving the bride the
unofficial "father" of our generation of heroes, everyone decided he was
entitled.  His wife and child were also in attendance, wearing red domino
masks to protect their identities...there's just something adorable about a
baby in a domino mask.
     Don Quixote and his sidekick "Sancho" were playing at being ushers, and
it was more or less fitting...the estate where we were holding the ceremony
belonged to Alessandro Quixano, the man who ran Quality Motors and was
secretly the "insane" Don.  He'd confided in me in March, and I was more
convinced than ever that he was really onto something, but he didn't seem to
mind playing the buffoon in public for the time being.  Oddly, while "Sancho"
really was named Panzo, his first name was Joaquim.  Coincidence seemed to
follow supernormals around, it seemed.
     Jiang Sheng, son of the insidious Dr. Sheng, stood silently near the
back of the group, having been invited by Brightsword.  Delta Rose was
present, actually wearing a really tacky pink bridesmaid dress that she told
me she through was traditional for such things.  And the Fantom rounded out
the small collection of heroes, having finally contacted me directly some
weeks after we first met.  He was actually a pretty friendly guy when he
didn't have his "avenging ghost" act on.  Lady Lawful's husband had been
invited, but had declined.  I could see why...he was a pretty big name in
Violation Physics, and it wouldn't be too hard to see past a mask if he were
present...and there goes his wife's secret ID.
     "Now, this isn't a religious ceremony, or even a legally binding one,
although I presume you two will get properly married before engaging in any
hanky panky," Lady Lawful winked, drawing a few snickers, "just a celebration
among friends and allies.  Something to remind us that there's more to our
lives than the battle against evil, that there's happiness to be found as
well," she looked off into the distance, as if thinking of her own husband.
     "Do you, Ladyhawke, take this hero to be your partner in perpetuity, in
life both exotic and mundane, during the good times and bad, accepting both
his role as hero and the man behind the mask?"
     "I do," Amy nodded, the veil of feathers around her face rustling
slightly in the wind.
     "Do you, Dragonfly, take this heroine to be your partner in perpetuity,
in life both exotic and mundane, no matter what may befall, accepting both
her role as hero and the woman under the cowl?"
     "I do," I replied.  I don't think I've ever meant what I said more fully
and fervently than I did then.
     "I now pronounce you a dedicated duo," Lady Lawful smiled.  "And what
love has brought together, may no supervillain, crazed robot or disaster rend
asunder.  I'd say here that you may now kiss the bride, but..." she nodded to
indicate my full helmet.
     "Oh, I've got that covered," I smiled, touching a button on my belt.
The lower front panels of the helmet peeled aside like hangar doors, exposing
my mouth.  "I may now kiss the bride," I added, lifting back Amy's veil.
     They told me afterwards that there had been fireworks.
     You bet your ass there were.


Next Issue:

     An Age starts to come to a close, as Dragonfly and Ladyhawke run into
"Turbulence" in Coherent Super-Stories #3!


Author's Notes:

     Yes, there's not much of a plot to this issue.  It's meant to be a sort
of survey of the high times of the Second Heroic Age.  I promise more of an
arc to next issue.  :)
     Regarding the Powerhouse scene, the early 70s saw a lot of awkward
attempts to deal with "relevant" issues like racism, with an emphasis on
*awkward*.  So I tried to capture that feel without being too offensive to
modern sensibilities.
     I was originally going to set the second scene in Auburn Hills, but then
I found that it didn't even exist by that name until the 1980s.  While
Wiki'ing around on the topic, I found that the Pontiac Silverdome
groundbreaking happened during the right time period, so I shifted venues
slightly.  I have no idea if the governor was at the real groundbreaking
ceremony, but the presence of superheroes would have likely drawn him out.

     Some etymology notes.  PR flack dates to the 1930s, and space cadet to
the 1950s, so both terms are available for use in the 1970s.  I'm trying to
be reasonably careful about slang...even if it wasn't something in common use
then, I'd like to avoid too many complete anachronisms.  ;)

     Inspired by doing this series, I went back and revamped the ASH Art
Galleries, expanding on the Second Age and Third Age stuff.  Plus, Joe
Singleton's done some CSS-based pieces, and they're in the Fan Art section. to see it all!

     And now for another installment of Origins!

     Origins Part 2: Powerhouse, Don Quixote, Delta Rose, Fantom

     A bit broader spread of origins this time, given that one of these
characters was thought up in 2007 and one in 1981!

     Powerhouse is, admittedly, a pretty often-used name.  While I'm no
longer entirely sure, though, I think mine was inspired by the Syfon Warrior
of that name from the Nova comic in the 1970s.  Not that I read those comics
until 2006 when the Essential Nova came out, mind you, but the Official
Handbook of the Marvel Universe had an entry on him.  Powerhouse as a
disaffected black man with a talent for chemistry and a chip on his shoulder
came about during the original ASH campaign in college, however.  Originally,
it was just a drawing.  I had a design idea I wanted to play with, and on a
whim I made him an angry black man.  Probably to further distinguish him from
the Nova cast member, on reflection.  Later, when I was helping Rad's player
develop some backstory, I decided Powerhouse was actually a 1970s villain,
whose daughter was now about Rad's age, and had inherited superpowers.  So
she needed a particularly durable boyfriend, and at her father's suggestion
pursued Rad.  :)  Rad's mother?  Ladyhawke.  It was never established who his
father was, Rad's dad having died when he was too young to remember.  Will
things play out that way in the new continuity?  Time will tell....

     Don Quixote came out of a thread on Livejournal in spring 2007 where I
asked people to come up with superhero updates for classic (and public
domain) characters.  One of my contributions was the good Don.  I liked it so
much I decided to use it at my earliest opportunity, which turned out to be
CSS.  As for the mysterious giants of Dimension Z, they got linked into some
older backstory of mine, which I'll go into next issue.

     Delta Rose started out as a fraternity.  Seriously.  In my hometown, the
small private Carroll College had four fraternity houses: Tau Kappa Epsilon,
Phi Theta Pi, Beta Pi Epislon, and Delta Rho Upsilon (which ironically can
transliterate as DRY...they were anything but!).  Members of that last one
were the Delta Rhos, which of course sounds like Delta Rose.  I was musing on
this point while walking to work one day in fall 1986 and thought it'd make a
good name for a gliding superheroine.  The core elements of the design have
remained the same since my first drawing: non-symmetric pink triangle on the
torso, short pink hair, pink glider cape connected at wrists and ankles.  She
didn't become an alien until the Raiders campaign, though, when I decided she
was a member of the Galactic Warrior Corps (for the evolution of that
concept, see  When I started to
firm up the setting in Academy, I decided she was active in the Second Heroic
Age, but that she hadn't been generally known to be alien at the time.
     As an aside, the frats were shut down for a while at Carroll following
both a nigh-stereotypical TKE drinking incident and also a case where the Phi
Thetas and Delta Rhos shot bottle rockets at each other's houses and managed
to set the attic of the Phi Theta house on fire.  So energy attacks just go
with being a Delta Rose.  :)

     Fantom, originally called the Phantom, is one of the first nine
superheroes I ever created in either 1981 or 1982, on a piece of lined paper
I have since lost.  His color scheme was determined by the fact my dad had a
handful of markers in his desk, and the only ones I hadn't used yet were
yellow and brown, so they got used on him and Galactic Warrior.  Visually, he
was a sort of simplified Iron Man, down to discs on his palms for some sort
of ray blast, but his main power was the ability to become ghostly.  I
revamped him in 1984 with a slightly less gaudy color scheme (green and brown
now), but I quickly got bored with what was essentially a ripoff of Iron Man
with a name taken from Lee Falk's creation.  While digging through old stuff
in prep for CSS, I decided to revive him, with a tweaked name and simplified
powers.  Gone are the various Iron Man bits, leaving him just the phase suit
and some relatively mundane weapons.  He's intended to evoke the "superhero
horror" stuff that flourished in the 1970s with the relaxing of the Comics
Code Authority's stance on movie monsters.  Prior to now, he never really had
a personality, or even a name for the guy inside the suit (and you still
don't know his name, but it'll come out in the sourcebook if not before).


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and more, go to !

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