[SG/LNH] New Exarchs #5 - Tea and Exposition

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Thu Nov 15 07:50:38 PST 2007

[September 13, 2007 - Manchester, England]

     To any human observer, it would have looked like yet another case of two
squirrels chasing each other around the trunk of a tree for no readily
apparent reason, accompanied by loud chitters and squeaks.  Some would write
it off as squirrel mating season.  A very few perceptive humans would notice,
however, that both of the Red Squirrels were male.  And maybe one in a
million might actually understand what they were chittering about....

     "Damn it, Randolph, what happened to that truce we were supposed to
have?" Jonkatta demanded, flicking his injured tail for emphasis.  "Five
Grays nearly gnawed my tail off before I managed to distract them with a
clever ruse and escape!"
     "Sorry, cuz," the older squirrel apologized.  "Guess you didn't get the
latest news.  There's a schism among the Grays."
     Jonkatta twitched his ears in annoyance.  "Meddling humans.  Bound to
happen eventually...any time an outsider forces an end to hostilities, the
ill will just goes underground and waits for the right time to bubble back up
to the surface.  But they always conveniently forget that.  And no matter how
much of the upper echelons might have been coerced into this truce on the
side of the Grays [for details, see upcoming episodes of Team M.E.C.H.A. -
Ed.], eventually someone not in on the fix would grab enough influence to
force a split."
     "Word is, the American power structure's sent the fake Gray to try to
rein in the new faction," Randolph did the squirrel equivalent of frowning,
"but we're not in a great position right now.  Halkyon stripped a lot of
resources from the homeland to try to get Project: Squirrelguy restarted."
     Jonkatta spat.  "Old harridan's going senile.  What is she, nearly ten
years old now?"
     "We're no cubs ourselves, cuz," Randolph countered.  "Too bad we can't
get ourselves any of that magically extended lifetime, eh?"
     Jonkatta shook his head.  "Not worth the price.  You have to get turned
into something else, like Gwen, or have been something else in the first
place, like Louie."
     "Damned dirty ape," Randolph sighed.
     "Monkey, actually.  At least monkeys have tails, ugly things they might
be.  Anyway, what's the current plan, other than 'hide and hope the Grays
don't jump me?'" Jonkatta asked.
     "That's about it, really," Randolph shrugged, skittering around the
trunk a little more.  "Wait to see if the Grays can deal with their internal
issues, or wait for our glorious leader to shake loose some reinforcements
for us."
     "Any hints from the dreamlands?"
     "There's always HINTS," Randolph pointed out.  "A few extra moons have
been sneaking into the skies of the dreamlands, but that happens every so
often.  And the Squirrels of Leng haven't really been forthcoming of late."
     There was a long pause.
     "So," Jonkatta peered around.  "Anything else?"
     Randolph shrugged.  "Not really.  Just needed to do some establishing
exposition, I don't think we're even really part of the first arc, just
keeping irons in the fire, that sort of thing."
     "Just as well, I need to lick my tail for a while.  Oh, it's almost tea,
you have any of those scones left?"
     "I think I have an unopened packet inside, come on," Randolph scampered
inside the bole of the tree, which was actually the secret entrance to a
fairly impressive (at the scale) underground complex, and Jonkatta followed.

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #5 - Tea and Exposition
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2007 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

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

     "Wow, that was pretty quick work," Richard said, impressed.
     "Thanks," Hans Zwarghoff bobbed his head a little.  "I work better when
I'm off-screen.  I always did do better at Handwave Mechanics, and it's
harder to pull that off when the narrator's watching."
     "Isn't she making cheesy movies?" Kat asked.
     "No, not The Narrator, just narrators in general," Zwarghoff explained.  
     "Oh, right.  I'm painfully familiar with the sort," Kat said with wholly
unjustified annoyance.  Someone should do something about her attitude.
     "Anyway, the gun is definitely from another Altiverse," Hans patted his
computer.  "Not part of the XXXSUPERGUY series, either, but not too far off
from it.  Odds are really good that it's whatever place we opened the first
Cheeezball to [in the flashback last episode - Ed, who doesn't mind Kat's
attitude and finds it somewhat endearing]."
     "What's those other things you were working on while the system was
doing its scans?" Richard asked.
     "Oh, these?" Hans picked up a handful of flash drives.  "They'll let you
hook any computer into the detector network I'm setting up.  Your basic
combination memory stick and miniaturized cheese sensor, pretty common
equipment in my line of work.  They have the analysis program onboard, and an
ID keychain that'll let any networked machine hook into the grid.  Here," he
handed a few to Richard, and one to Kat.  "It'll help extend our radius, and
also let you know when one of the other sensors picks up an incoming
     Kat dubiously held hers up and sniffed at it.  Her eyebrows arched in
mild surprise.
     "What, you expected it to smell like cheese?" Hans barked his odd little
nervous laugh.  "What good would an olfactory sensor be if it smelled like
what it was trying to sense?"
     "He has a point," Richard smirked, pocketing the drives.
     "These little units only have a range of about a kilometer or so, less
if you keep 'em in your pockets," Hans warned, "but every little bit helps.
Besides, you're superguys..."
     "Former superguys," Kat interjected.
     "Suuuure," Hans rolled his eyes.  "Anyway, former or not, you're going
to be trouble magnets, so Coincidence will probably put you within a
kilometer of any Cheeezball anyway, so that'll be good enough.  Mainly, it'll
let the rest of us know when something happens."
     "Us?" Kat smirked.
     "What, you think I'm just handing over the gear and fading into the
background?  Nuh-uh," Hans shook his head.  "In fact, you're gonna have to
figure out how to keep me alive.  The bad guys know where I live, and they
obviously want me for something.  So I'm going with you, as soon as I can
pack up the van."
     "You're not going to fit all of this," Richard gestured at the banks of
equipment, "into a van.  Or is it a tesseract-equipped van?"
     "Ha!  I wish I could afford that option.  No, I just have a healthy
appreciation for the difference between my life and my property.  I'll take
enough to do what we need to do, send someone back for the rest later.
Preferably someone I don't like very much, in case the bad guys lay a trap.
Maybe I can hire some henchmen for it, uncle Sebastian got me a Hench R Us
membership for Christmas a while back, and I think it's still good," Hans
     "Okay, before you decide what's 'enough,' maybe we should try to figure
out what that Paleoculture is?" Richard suggested.
     "Sounds like something Team M.E.C.H.A. would be involved in, given their
motif," Kat pondered.  "But it's probably too much to expect that Mr.
Naugahyde was after the wrong Zwarghoff."
     "Not with that Cheeezball, no," Hans bobbed his head nervously.  "Oh,
it's almost definitely cheese-related.  Some special mold culture, probably.
Maybe their local cheese isn't able to make Cheeezballs properly?"
     "Wouldn't that sort of thing be at New New Call Hall?" Richard asked.
     "Well, we...*they* have a lot of starter cultures there," Hans agreed,
"but nothing that would count as legendary or anything.  Well, they didn't
back before the accident.  Maybe they do now, but...wait."
     "What?" Kat and Richard asked in unison.
     "Something Paul brought with him.  He claimed it was from another
reality, which is why he thought it might work better in our research," Hans
furrowed his brow.
     "Looniversal cheese?  How would that even work?" Kat frowned.  "It's not
like we're the originals...all that got blown across the dimensional barriers
was a bunch of nanomachines, that made copies from my memories and local
materials.  Even the special Cheeez arrowheads Paul had when we first woke up
in 973HONGKONGFILMS [in Exarchs #1 - Ed.] were local copies...although being
cheese from that altiverse might be good enough."
     Hans wracked his brains, trying to remember.  "I think it involved the
Mighty Muddy Power Grangers, and their general lack of housekeeping skills."
     "Oh, right.  There was that crossover between our originals and Team
M.E.C.H.A. shortly after we diverged," Richard nodded.  "It's how Anna got
her magic wand a while back, too, the Grangers brought back some seeds from
the Looniverse and planted them.  I'm not sure I want to know how the cheese
came across, though."
     "I'm sure that I *don't* want to know," Kat wrinkled her nose.
     "There you have it.  The Paleoculture must be that bit of active cheese
culture from your 'Looniverse'," Hans nodded.  "But anything that might have
survived at the lab would have been swept up by They in the wake of the
accident.  I certainly don't have any samples of it."
     "I have Paul's personal effects in a storage shed," Richard offered.
"How about you stay and help Hans pack, Kat, and I'll head back to town and
start looking?  Maybe he hid some Paleoculture in something that They didn't
     "Sounds like a plan," Kat eyed the racks of equipment.  Not even cutting
edge by local standards, it might as well have been Babbage machines compared
to what she had grown up around.  "Call Anna back, though, have her meet you
there.  And tell her to come armed.  I doubt there's just the one mook out
running around looking for Paleoculture."
     "Right," Richard pulled out his phone as he headed for the stairs.
     "And she can come pick you up when your POS Camaro breaks down, too!"
Kat called up after his retreating form.






     Answers to some of these, and some nice scones, on the next...


Author's Notes:

     Robotech_Master has a big thing planned regarding the squirrels in his
being-worked-on arc in Team M.E.C.H.A., you'll just have to wait for him to
finish writing those episodes to find out the details.  So there.  But yeah,
the squirrels were right about it not really tying into the current arc.
     The current arc, by the way, is titled Flash Drives, both for the Flash
Gordon parody and the actual flash drives used for the plot device widget.
     Bonus points to anyone who figured out Randolph's literary homage
     If Sporkboy and New Exarchs both hit #7 on the third day of the same
week, will something weird happen?

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