SG/LNH: New Exarchs #6 - Storage (Blood)shed

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Wed Nov 28 08:15:25 PST 2007

[STILL October 28, 2007 - between St. George KS and Green Valley KS]

     Richard drove in silence.
     Well, as much silence as one could have in a mid 70s Camaro with engine
problems.  But there was no music, because his attempts at repairing the
electrical system had blown out the speakers, and he'd left his iSpoon in the
charging dock at home.  There was no conversation because he was alone,
having left Kat back at Dr. Hans Zwarghoff's humble (and cluttered) abode.
And even the narrator was staying as silent as possible while recapping.
     As he pulled onto US24 heading west into Manhattan, he thought about
what he should do next.
     Oh, there was no doubt that he'd pick up his swords and costume and get
ready for some sort of adventure.  That was a foregone conclusion.  He missed
the net.hero-and/or-superguy lifestyle even more than he missed Paul, and the
prospect of both coming back to "life" in one fell swoop made him practically
tremble with anticipation.  Unlike Anna or Paul, his original's memories had
all been present in the nanomachines that had built the four Exarchs, and as
a result he had first-hand recollections of the life left behind, just as Kat
did.  But where Kat was old and jaded, Richard hadn't tired of being a hero
just yet, and he'd be damned if he let a chance to go back to it slip through
his fingers.
     But what about backup?  While there was no confirmation yet, there was
every indication that he was looking at an inter-altiversal invasion at best,
and possibly some sort of reality-destroying plot device at worst.  And while
a lot of 000SUPERGUY reminded him of "home", it lacked one very important
thing that the Looniverse had.
     There was nothing like the Legion of Net.Heroes.  
     No overarching humongous team he could call this in to, and be sure
*someone* would be able to back them up.  Even if it was just Time-Waster Lad
or California Kid.  The word would get out with just a single call to whoever
was at the reception desk that shift.
     Oh, there was Superguy himself, who often acted as a deus ex backstop,
but you really didn't contact just hoped he knew about your
situation and wasn't prioritizing something else above you.
     At one time, as far as he could tell from his time spent on the superguy
fan websites, the Adjusted League Unimpeachable had filled a similar role to
the LNH.  It had never been as big as the LNH, of course, but it was just as
easy to get ahold of, and usually had someone available to at least route
calls to an available superguy.  But the ALU had broken up years before he'd
arrived, and these days the remnants seemed to be too busy dealing with the, just Boston...problem to spare any attention to the outside
     Calforce had been another big team, also apparently inactive.  The West
Coast Defenders might've been worth contacting, but they seemed to be having
powerdown issues of their own, or something.  Hero Patrol...he'd heard some
tantalizing things about them on the fanboards, but as far as he knew they'd
been defunct for about seven years.  Taskforce Aurora certainly seemed
equipped to deal with invasions, though, even if they were Canadian or
something like that.
     He made a mental note to try to find their contact information and shoot
the Taskforce a message before heading off into another Altiverse.
     Richard continued to run through the list as he pulled up to the
stoplight in Green Valley.  Team M.E.C.H.A. was still trapped in that
Continuity Black Hole, so he couldn't even bring up on-screen whether they
were on speaking terms anymore.  [The squirrels have special technology that
lets them skirt the event horizon, as seen last episode - Ed.]  Mason's
Mazin' Mob was mostly retired and even unmasked, although they at least were
probably already getting filled in on the situation, presuming that it was a
Coincidence and not just a small-c coincidence that Anna was dreaming about
an alien world.  The Mighty Muddy Power Grangers...who the heck (sm) knew?
Anna might have stayed in contact, though, and it'd be a good idea to try to
get ahold of them if there was no Paleoculture in Paul's effects.  Not that
he looked forward to searching through the Grangers' effects for leftover
stinky cheese.
     And then there was I'm With The Government, the shadowy agency that had
absolutely no ties to the Mega-Intelligence Bureau, honest.  No, really.  We
swear.  Anyway, Agent Brubaker had kept in occasional contact even after the
Exarchs had retired in the wake of the Erlang affair, but he should probably
be told about this.  Unless I'm With The Government was affiliated with
They.  That would kinda suck.
     Richard sighed as he waited for the left turn signal at Fort Riley
Boulevard, across from the Manhattan Town Center mall.
     It had been a long morning.  [No kidding.  This is the fifth issue to
take place on October 28 - Ed.]  And it looked like it was going to get even
longer before it was done.

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #6 - Storage (Blood)shed
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2007 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

[Between Manhattan KS and Ogden KS]

     "I always wondered why a storage place in Kansas would be called Aztec,"
Anna mused as she and Richard walked up to the gate.  It was locked, of
course, but Richard had stopped by his apartment for the keys to the gate and
to his storage unit.
     "Probably due to the migrant laborer population," Richard shrugged.
"You can even pick up the pirate Mexican radio stations a couple times a year
as the broadcast trucks move to follow the workers.  Anyway, all we need to
do now is find this 'Paleoculture' before the bad guys send more goons
through the inter-altiversal Cheeezballs and then figure out how to stop
whatever Dire Fate awaits the world.  The usual stuff," he grinned, unlocking
the gate.  Then he cast an eye back to the parking lot, where Anna's metallic
orange Caliber sat next to his beat-up red Camaro.  Two other vehicles sat in
the lot, one of which seemed to have an occupant.  "Busy for a Sunday
morning.  The goons may be here armed?"
     Anna nodded.  "I have my batons," she patted her coat.  Collapsible
metal rods that she tended to swing more like hammers than like bo sticks.
     "And I've got my swords, and some throwing irons," Richard copied the
coat-patting move.  "Paul's stuff is down at the end here...wait, do you hear
     Over the sound of traffic on K-18 just south of the storage lot, they
could make out a faint whirring sound...followed by a very large crashing
sound as one of the nearby sheds had its door blown open by a bolt of cyan
     "Get clear, everyone!" a young man shouted as he jumped out through the
     He was followed by a hovering ovoid form, a hulking metal monstrosity
with a pair of gorilla-like arms that terminated in glowing energy cannons.
A single eye was mounted front and center on the egg.
     "Likmi HAG!" Richard shouted. 
     Anna blinked.  "ExCUSE me?"
     "Heavy Assault Gear.  H-A-G," Richard replied.
     "Oh," Anna nodded.
     "I see someone watches the news," the young man smirked.  "Now get out
of here, this is no place for civilians."  He followed this by jumping over a
bolt from one of the two cannon arms.
     "Good thing we're not civilians," Richard smiled, pulling a domino mask
from his pocket and sliding it into place over his eyes.  Then Skysabre drew
both swords and lept into the fray.  "Anna!" he shouted as he arced
gracefully through the air, "Your batons won't cut it against this thing,
there's a blaster in the glove compartment of my car!"
     "Less talk, more fight," the young man grunted, kicking at the HAG's
left arm so that its shot went wide and merely pierced the sky.
     "Why is there a blaster in your glove compartment?" Anna asked as she
sprinted past, nimbly avoiding the Likmi war machine's windmilling arms.  
     "I took it off the naugahyde goon this morning," Skysabre explained,
driving one sword into an elbow joint and being rewarded with some sparks.
     "And you didn't think to bring it with you now?" she replied, almost out
of sight.
     "Hey, I'm out of practice," Richard shrugged, then ducked under another
cyan bolt.  He considered the HAG.  "Shouldn't these blasts be more of a deep
blue, even violet?"
     "And shouldn't you be retired?" the man asked, delivering a kick that
sent the ovoid spinning out of control for a moment.  "But yeah, this one's
damaged, so it's 'merely' blue.  The smugglers salvaged it from a battle last
month and sneaked it out of Boston.  I'd heard about the ring and figured I'd
check it out on my way through the area.  Nice combat banter skills, by the
way.  My name's Rip Davis."
     "Thanks," Skysabre tossed one of his swords into the air to free a hand,
then smoothly threw a smaller blade down the mouth of the left arm blaster
just as it was cycling up to fire.  He caught his sword just as the blaster
fired, its own energy reflecting back inside and causing it to detonate in a
plume of fire and smoke.  "I grew up in a net.hero...ah, superguy family, my
uncles taught me combat banter as soon as I could talk."
     Rip applied a modified pankration hold to immobilize the HAG's right
arm.  "Not really my style, but it's a useful skill if you need to fill in a
new ally on the fly during a running fight.  I'm guessing from the way this
fight's going that you didn't get your powers back?"
     "Nope," Skysabre admitted as he jabbed both blades into the HAG's eye,
to no useful effect.  "Never lost them entirely, but I don't have much left.
Been training pretty hard to make up the difference, but there just didn't
seem to be much superguying to go around lately."
     "Oh, you'd be surprised what you can dig up if you're willing to hit the
road," Rip pointed out, leaping free of the HAG just before the surface
became electrified.  "Damn, he found the control for that.  Guess we couldn't
count on the smuggler being totally incompetent forever."
     "I've got the blaster!" Anna shouted as she ran back towards the fight.
"Where should I shoot it?"
     "Center of the back..." Rip started to say, at which point it spun to
face Anna.  "The eye!"
     Holding the blaster in a practiced two-handed target-shooting stance,
Anna fired off three quick bursts, two of which struck dead on, shattering
the main optic.  The electrical aura shut down and the HAG started to wobble,
but not quite fall down.
     "The center of the back thing real, or just fake-out?" Skysabre asked.
     "Oh, it's real," Rip assured him.  "But it worked fine as a fake-out
     "Right," Skysabre nodded, plunging both blades into a seam at the center
of the back.  With a hiss and a small gout of steam, a panel on the back
flipped open, revealing a human crammed into a control cockpit clearly not
designed for him.
     Rip reached in with lightning speed and hauled the smuggler out, an
action which was immediately followed by the HAG powering down and thudding
to the ground.

               *              *              *              *

     "I'll pass the word on about these Cheeezballs," Rip nodded.  "Although
I'm not exactly on good terms with the Rogers Foundation these days.  [See
The League #2 - Ed.]  And thanks for the help with this guy.  It's a bit
higher profile than I usually touch, but I kinda thought he was more of a
glorified scrap dealer."
     Skysabre nodded.  "Isn't it always the way?  No matter how minor league
your sources tell you they are, they always seem to have a functional
doohickey somewhere so they can give you a hard time.  If you want to keep
this mum, I can..."
     Rip shook his head.  "Don't worry about it.  My people and I prefer to
stay low on the radar, but it's not like we're on the run from the law or
anything.  And my brother got some good shots of the fight, it's be a shame
not to show those around.  But are you guys back in business, or was this
just a chance team-up?"
     "Both, it looks like," Anna shrugged.  She'd hidden the blaster before
the police had shown up, and pulled out a mask of her own, just in case.
"The Exarchs are back in the game for at least the duration of this
Cheeezball situation...we need to find Oakthorn if nothing else.  Assuming
he's still alive, and if not...we avenge him.  But I don't think the Likmi
have anything to do with our problems, this was just a Coincidence."
     "Yeah, those are bound to start cropping up again, aren't they?" Rip
frowned.  "I guess things were quiet long enough, couldn't last."
     "Face it, some of us are born to live in interesting times," Skysabre
smiled.  "Quiet just means an opportunity to train for the next outbreak of
     Rip shrugged.  "I suppose.  If I wanted a really quiet life, I wouldn't
be doing the Michael Knight thing.  Anyway, I need to go talk to the nice
police officers so I can be sure this bust is clean.  Good luck with your
Cheeez thing."
     Anna and Skysabre waved and turned to head for their original
destination, a storage shed at the end of the row.  Fortunately, none of the
stray blasts from the fight had hit it.
     Anna removed her mask.  "Oh, take that thing off now, no one can see us
     "I happen to like wearing it," Skysabre smirked.  "Besides, I'd have to
hide the swords too, and that's more of a hassle than I want to deal with.
Ah, here we are," he unlocked the access doorway and opened it, turning on
the light as he stepped inside.
     The shed was somewhat underfilled.  Paul hadn't really accumulated much
in the year or so of life he'd had in 000SUPERGUY, and much of that had been
"destroyed" in New Call Hall.  Skysabre's own extraneous gear didn't amount
to a whole lot either, although he did tend to keep a few things here that
his landlord wouldn't approve of (not that the landlord approved of the
swords he did keep at home, but there was a certain amount of looking-the-
other-way that could be counted on).
     "Some boxes of files escaped They, I see," Anna picked one up and
brushed the dust off.  Then she noticed something underneath that box.
"Aglets?  Why did Paul have a box full of aglets?"
     "What are aglets?" Skysabre asked.
     "They're the little plastic or metal things on the ends of shoelaces.
Not that you'd know, you always wear zip-up boots or velcro.  But their true
purpose is sinister," Anna explained, setting the box of files down.  "I
can't believe Paul would even have been thinking of dabbling in aglets."
     Skysabre pulled out a small blade and reached over to slit open the tape
sealing the box.  It popped open, and a pungent smell wafted from it.  "He
wasn' was meant to be a clue.  I think we found the Paleoculture."





     Answers to some of these, and some idea of how nasty cheese can get when
left unrefrigerated for a year inside a cardboard box, on the next...


Author's Notes:

     I don't claim all the status stuff in the opening is accurate, it's
meant to be Richard's view of things, reflecting someone who's intensely
interested in the superguy community but no longer an active part of it.  He
probably gets a lot of his info from fan webpages, so you know the accuracy
is going to be suspect. is
the Rikti Heavy Assault Suit, on which the HAG is based.  Thanks to Thandra
for the City of Heroes info I used to help flesh it out.
     Rip "Not Memorex Anymore" Davis is the property of Eric A. Burns, used
with permission.
     I finally took pictures of the giant concrete spork outside the
H.H. King Chemistry Laboratory on campus at K-State:  (It might not be concrete,
actually, it's under several layers of graffiti-obscuring paint at this
point, I suppose it might be steel too.)

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