SG/LNH: New Exarchs #4 - Something Smells Here

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Tue Nov 6 09:07:42 PST 2007


     "Wrinkle?" a man in immaculate brown naugahyde asked as he stood out on
a balcony, observing the quadruple moon overhead.
     "Yes, beloved CEO Sung?" his companion replied.  Clad in black robes,
his face was festooned with piercings, surmounted by a single surgical steel
plate stapled to his scalp.
     "Have you ever'd fallen short of your potential?  Never mind,
you're an Emoviate, of course you've felt that.  Stupid question."
     "You don't have to be insulting," Wrinkle whined.
     "No, but I will be anyway.  But enough about you.  I've been feeling
lately that...oh, I don't know, like I cheated.  Took the easy way out."
     "Easy?" Wrinkle arched an eyebrow, which jangled from the weight of
rings shot through it.  "You have risen to economic dominance of all of
Sango, and now live here on the fashionable East side of Sango City, in this
deluxe apartment in the sky," he swept an arm to take in the luxury around
     "Yes, and I owe it all to my drycleaning chain.  But...every so often I
have dreams.  Dreams that I had made a different choice in boyhood, eschewing
chemistry for darker sciences, forgoing the rule of the pocketbook for the
mailed fist.  That, rather than being CEO of 'Sung the Stainless'
Incorporated, I was Emperor Sung, master of forbidden magics and abominable
sciences."  Sung sighed, leaning forward to grip the railing of the balcony.
"A pity it's too late to rebrand myself."
     "Perhaps not," Wrinkle drifted forward half a pace, while still
remaining at a respectful distance.  "There's always the possibility of
creating an entirely new brand for yourself in an emerging market."
     "But what market is left?  All of Sango is under my financial dominion
now.  From the arboreal Suedes to the plains-dwelling Gossyps, the frigid
Gorteks to the nomadic Skybikers of the Ptanners...even the mysterious Bombyx
owe me allegiance.  Or...has the Paleoculture been found?"
     Wrinkle shook his head sadly.  "Not yet, my lord, and I apologize for
being so pathetic.  But we believe we have located the reality in which it
resides.  One of your Franchise Troopers successfully transited via a
Cheeezball and was able to find the domicile of the Assistant before meeting
resistance and returning to Sango."
     "Resistance?  Excellent," Sung rubbed his hands together.  "Perhaps, if
I crush them in a suitably gruesome manner, it will help me transition from
CEO Sung to Emperor Sung...."

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #4 - Something Smells Here
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2007 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

[000SUPERGUY: October 28, 2007 - St. George, KS]

     "Since you're still here," Kat ventured, "I'm guessing that the portal
     "Not even CLOSE," Hans Zwarghoff sighed.
     "Where, then?" Richard asked.

               *              *              *              *

[October 27, 2005 - Manhattan, KS]

     "Readings starting to come through," Paul said, one eye on the computer
and one on the pulsing Cheeezball.  "Definitely a 000 root-level altiverse."
     "Come on, B..." Hans cheered on.
     "Nope.  S.  SU, in fact," Paul replied.
     "I hope we didn't just create a portal right back here," Hans frowned. 
     "Well, in that case, we invented a teleporter, maybe.  So it wouldn't be
a total loss.  Hm, 000SUPER...something.  Maybe we did loopback.  Anything on
the video feed?"
     Hans shook his head.  "It's still covered in cheese.  I told you we
needed to teflon-coat it.  Just because we're dealing with *trans-
dimensional* processed cheese spread doesn't mean it's not going to stick to
     "That's the thing."  Now it was Paul's turn to frown.  "The dimensional
interface is supposed to form just at the spot where the cheeez meets our
reality.  The probe shouldn't have touched cheeez in the first place.  Oh,
wReam curse it all...shut it down!  Now!"
     "We have a leak!  The rift must not be as stable as it looked on the
readings!  The cheeez is getting out past the dimensional interface!  It
could explode at any..."

               *              *              *              *

[October 28, 2007 - St. George, KS]

     "Which, of course, is exactly when the 'cheeezball' exploded, flooding
New Call Hall with millions of gallons of processed spread," Hans explained.
"I was knocked out by the pressure, slammed against a wall or something.
Most people just got carried out of the building, and some of the structural
supports were knocked askew, so they had to tear the whole place down and
start again."
     "And Paul?" Richard asked.
     "No sign," Doctor Zwarghoff shook his head sadly.  "They never found a
body, and the official line was that he was simply dissolved by a
particularly corrosive pocket of cheese."
     "Could they have been right?" Kat suggested.
     "Ha!  Not in a million years!" Hans barked.  "We simply weren't working
with anything remotely like that kind of cheese, nor was there anything of
that nature in the building at the time.  I was the departmental safety
officer, it was my job to know these things," he added as an aside.  "No, I
think he somehow managed to go through the portal, to 000SUPER-whatever,
maybe an eddy swept him back around into the ball.  And then They decided to
just hush it up.  I was retroactively put on vacation and told that if I
mentioned what really happened I'd get put in the loony bin."
     "But you *did* get put in the loony bin," Richard pointed out.
     "Well, I tried to get people to find Paul, of course.  I may not be a
superguy, but I'm not a complete moral coward," Hans protested.  "My cousin
Sebastian might be one for just leaving well enough alone when you people get
blasted through an interdimensional tear, but Paul was my friend."
     "Did you have any evidence?" Richard asked.
     Hans snorted.  "Of course not.  By the time I recovered from my
injuries, They had already sanitized the site.  It was claimed that all the
equipment was dissolved too, and if I'd been there I'd have no one
really believed me when I said I'd been in the lab at the time.  But those
machines were Kase-hardened, proof to ten megaRoqueforts.  Anything that
could have dissolved them would have left nothing but a deep and stinky
crater where New Call Hall had stood.  No, They had everything carted away,
where it's probably sitting in a warehouse in some Serially-Numbered Area in
Nevada, where They dump things that are dangerous but not immediately useful
to They's purposes."
     "Could They have been behind our recent visitor?  I mean, if you really
created a teleporter instead of an altiversal gateway, that Naugahyde-clad
gunman could have been working for Them, er, They," Kat observed.
     Hans shrugged.  "I suppose it's possible.  But I'm not sure why They
would do something so obvious when they've managed to box me into a corner so
effectively already.  They're more about subtle, manipulating what everyone
accepts about reality.  Not so much about guns," he nodded to the strange
weapon where it had fallen on his couch.
     Richard picked the gun up.  "Not a weapon I recognize.  Kat?"
     She shook her head.  "Looks like directed energy of some sort, since..."
she took the weapon from Richard's hands and looked down the barrel, "yeah,
no rifling.  And it feels too light to just be a regular smoothbore pistol
mocked up to look high tech."  She hefted it with a practiced air, then shook
it lightly.  "Definitely an energy gun.  In fact, I'd guess it's a handheld
particle accelerator.  Lightning blaster."
     "How does she do that?" Hans looked to Richard.
     "She's really a century-old giant transforming robot stuck in human
form," Richard shrugged.  "Well, a nanotechnological copy of a century-old
giant transforming robot that had its mind scanned from a human in an
alternate reality's 22nd Century, now stuck in a human form.  Anyway, she's
seen a lot of weird guns."
     "I bet," Hans nodded.  "Any relation to Team Mecha?"
     "That's M.E.C.H.A., you need to pronounce the extra dots," Richard
corrected.  "'s complicated.  [Not to mention the topic of upcoming
episodes of Team M.E.C.H.A. that are still stuck in that dratted Continuity
Black Hole - Ed.]  I take it you're related to the Dr. Zwarghoff who keeps
giving them problems?"
     Hans nodded.  "That, too, is complicated."
     "I noticed," Kat narrowed her eyes.  "Is Sebastian a common name in your
family?  Because you've mentioned both an uncle and a cousin by that name,
and I know that's the name of Team M.E.C.H.A.'s Zwarghoff."
     "Let's just say that there's at least one Mad Eugenicist with access to
a time machine in our family tree and leave it at that, ok?  Now, I may have
lost most of my equipment when They had me committed, but I still have some
decent sensor rigs.  It might be five year old tech scrounged up on SpoonBay,
but I think I can answer whether this gun has been through a portal from
another altiverse," Hans took the gun gingerly from Kat's hands.
     "If it is, would you be able to rig something to detect other portals?"
Richard asked.
     "In general, no," Hans shook his head, leading the others further into
his shabby house.  "But Cheeezball-based portals, definitely.  I caught a
distinctive whiff of process cheese when that gunman escaped..."
     "How could you smell anything over...this?" Kat gestured at the general
level of Bachelor Funk present as she followed Dr. Zwarghoff.
     "I have a highly trained scientific nose," Hans said proudly.  "And,
more to the point, I have some pretty good caseometers in the basement.  It
seems like they haven't completely licked the cheese-leakage issue, whoever's
behind this, so just enough volatiles escape that air sensors can pick up on
whenever a portal opens."
     "But what kind of range would that have?" Kat asked, stepping over what
seemed to be a self-propelled gouda.
     "Oh, maybe thirty miles," Hans shrugged, sounding as if he thought he
could do better if only he had the latest gear.
     "Thirty...?" Richard's eyes widened.
     "Yeah, I know, it's pathetic.  But the best I can do with what I've got
down here.  At least I know the specific aromatics to look for, so we won't
get false alarms every time someone has a cheeseburger," Hans promised.  Kat
and Richard simply exchanged dubious glances.
     Richard's cellphone suddenly started playing "Dreamweaver".  "Just a
sec, that's Anna," he fell back a pace and flipped the phone open.  "Hey,
Anna.  A bad dream?  Oh, a Bad Dream...right.  No, we haven't run into anyone
in tattered black clothing.  Just a nerdy scientist..."
     "Hey!" Hans objected.
     "...and a stormtrooper in brown Naugahyde who vanished into a cheeez-
based portal of some kind.  So, yeah, I'd say there's definitely something to
Paul's disappearance.  No, it's looking like disappearance really is the
right word, not death.  Yeah, I suppose your dream could be something totally
unrelated, but given how much weirdness still clings to us, I wouldn't bet on
it.  Four moons, you say?  Right.  Look, we're just about to nail something
down, I'll call you back."
     "So...?" Kat asked as Richard put the phone away.
     "Well, Anna dreamed she was in a dry landscape with oddly poisoned
water, under a sky with four moons.  If it's linked to what's been happening
to us today," he paused to let everyone ponder the vanishingly small chance
that it wasn't, "I suspect your tests will prove this gun comes from at the
very least, a different planet, if not a different altiverse."





     Answers to some of these questions (although the second one is pretty
obvious) on the next...SUPERGUY!


Author's Notes:

     Curse my real life getting in the way, Sporkman hit #4 before New
Exarchs could! 
     There's plenty of gags and in-jokes this episode that I don't think I'm
going to explain, so there.  :) 

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