SG/LNH: New Exarchs #3 - Literary Devices

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Wed Oct 31 08:37:36 PDT 2007

[000SUPERGUY: October 28, 2007 - Dreamscape]

     One of the lingering side effects of the poorly-understood and highly-
plotdevicey process that copied Anna Martel from Anna Tanner was that she had
a high degree of control over her dreams, which were usually lucid.  She was
careful not to tread on the toes of the local dream hierarchy, of course, but
she'd met Dreamweaver in person a few times, and in dreams on several other
occasions.  Dreamweaver was rather understanding about the whole
"nanotechnologically built copy of someone from another reality" business,
but Anna supposed one would get used to that sort of thing while working as a
Superguy.  Even a largely retired one.
     Still, that made this morning's dreaming all the more disturbing.
     She was standing on a sere landscape, with dry grass and spindly trees
that sank roots deep into parched soil.  There were no clouds in the sky, but
more than the usual number of moons.  Yet, for all that, the place had a
feeling of familiarity.  
     And a feeling of menace.
     When nothing seemed to be happening to fulfill that ominous foreboding,
she decided to pick a direction and start walking.  But downhill or uphill?
Uphill might give her a better view of the landscape, but in this sort of
terrain down usually meant towards a river, and that might lead to the
dreamers whose waking life was shaping this landscape.
     After all, it certainly wasn't anything Anna would summon up by choice.
Her own Harnegu was lush and green, for instance, and even had she been
dreaming about Kansas, it didn't have that many moons overhead.  Unless there
was another alien invasion going on, of course.
     Downhill it was.  She was already feeling parched, and a river would
also mean something to drink.  Of course, she was usually thirsty in dreams
when she went to sleep drunk...a warning of the next morning's hangover.  She
hoped she hadn't agreed to anything too stupid after the fifth pitcher came
around, but as often happened in those rare dreams where she didn't have
control, Anna couldn't really recall recent events of her waking life.
     Finally, she heard a faint burbling of water, and saw plant growth that
was, if not lush, at least a little less pathetic.  The stream she reached
was muddy and barely enough to flow as opposed to oozing, but she still
knelt to cup a little water into her hands.
     As soon as she touched the water, though, that feeling of dread
intensified, her ever mental alarm jangling.  Jerking back as if burned, she
shook the water off her hands and wiped them on her skirt.
     "Poisoned water?" she mused aloud.  "Who dreams of poisoned water?"
     The breeze seemed to be a little colder all of a sudden, but only around
her legs.  Blinking, she looked down and saw her skirt was turning black
where she'd wiped off her hands, and becoming threadbare at an astonishing
     NOW she was surrounded by dreamers.
     "Emoviate!" one shouted.
     "Wait, what?" Anna started to ask, then she noticed that the black stain
has spread to everything she was wearing, turning it black and tattered.  An
incredible sense of futility and whininess pressed down on her, and she just
wanted to run from all these PEOPLE who didn't UNDERSTAND how HARD it was to
be HER!
     The crowd parted before her, as if more afraid to touch her than they
were eager to mock her.
     She ran and she ran and she ran and she ran and she ran....

     And she woke up, her skull pounding and her mouth feeling like five
miles of Road Race From Hell.  The Sun had already come up, and there was
enough light flowing in the window to reassure herself that she wasn't
wearing anything black....

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #3 - Literary Devices
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2007 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

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

     "Talk fast, Dr. Zwarghoff, before the authorities show up to investigate
the disturbance," Richard advised.
     The chunky little Caseologist laughed, a nervous sort of bark.  "Oh,
they're used to the occasional explosions from here, I doubt anyone will come
by before business hours on Monday.  The neighbors don't even bother calling
in complaints anymore."
     Kat raised an eyebrow and reassessed the surroundings with an eye
towards outracing a detonation.
     "Talk fast anyway," Richard narrowed his eyes and tapped the short
blades of his butterfly knives together for emphasis.
     "Fine, fine, no need to get snippy about it.  It all started back in
June of oh-five, when they finished building New Call Hall to replace the one
you people got blown up...."

               *              *              *              *

[June 13, 2005 - Manhattan, KS]

     "Ah, that new building smell," Paul smiled as he stepped into the lab.
Now that he'd found something to call his own accomplishment, his attitude
had brightened considerably.  It was gleaming and shiny and clean, all
ceramic and steel surfaces.  Not to mention movable blast shields and
numerous chemical wash stations.
     "Er, can I help you?" a dumpy little man asked, standing up from behind
a counter.
     "You're Doctor Hans Zwarghoff, right?  I was told I'd find you around
here somewhere.  I'm Paul.  Paul Oakthorn, new research associate."
     Zwarghoff's expression curdled.  "Oh.  You.  The guy without so much as
a Master's degree who's being put in charge of the lab for reasons I can't
even begin to fathom."
     Paul held up his hands in a conciliatory gesture.  "Whoa, I'm not trying
to stomp on the pecking order or anything.  And I do have degrees, sort of.
Just not with any institution accredited in this reality."
     "What are you, some kind of superguy?"
     Paul pulled a pair of shades out of his pocket and put them on.  "Now
picture me with the beard dyed orange, and carrying a longbow."
     Hans squinted.  The Mask Principle was sometimes hard to pierce even
when the person wanted you to, but finally it came to him.  "You're that
superguy who got old Call Hall blown up!  And they're giving you another...
wait, that makes sense, really."
     "It does?" Paul blinked.  "I mean, it makes perfect sense where I come
from, but...."
     Hans nodded.  "Anyone capable enough to either directly blow up an
entire research building, or to inspire someone else to blow it up simply on
the off-chance you might be able to whip up something threatening, is the
kind of person that granting institutions can't wait to throw money at.  I've
only managed to blow up my garage, and no one thinks of ME as a threat yet,
so I guess that's why I'm the assistant, even though I have my PhD in
Caseology and a record of publications as long as my arm."
     "Think of it as more a partnership than an assistantship," Paul put a
comradely arm around Zwarghoff's shoulders.  "A lot of my training is for the
rules of my home reality, and while I'm picking things up pretty quickly,
there's still a lot I don't know about how these 'Altiverses' work.  That's
where you come in.  To start with, what can you tell me about spam?"

               *              *              *              *

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

     "So, the scuttlebutt was right," Kat snapped her fingers, clacking the
armor plates of her gloves together.  "You *were* trying to mix spam and
     Zwarghoff shook his head emphatically.  "Do you take me for a complete
moron?  The first thing I told him was that spam was insanely dangerous, and
I wasn't *that* desperate for a research grant."
     "The Fromage Initiative didn't involve spam, then?" Richard asked.
     "Indirectly," Zwarghoff admitted.  "You see, They wanted to find a means
of accessing other realities without using spam, because They may be
dangerous, but They're not stupid.  But Paul was a perfect pawn for They,
since he not only came from a different reality, but he also brought with him
a completely new look at the caseological sciences.  You people...or your
originals, anyway, used a cheese-powered dimension-traveling dirigible, yes?"
     "Well, the CheeeZeppelin's d-hopping was really powered by a penguin,
although I suppose Stan...Paul's original...might have worked on that
transdimensional cheddar my original asked about [in Dvandom Force #37 - Ed,
glad for Google]," Richard replied.
     "A pengu...never mind, don't want to know," Hans shook his head.
"Anyway, Paul did have some ideas, although they involved processed cheese,
or 'cheeez' as he insisted on spelling it, not cheddar per se.  He reasoned
that just as spam was analogous to heavily processed meat, he might be able
to apply similar methods to cheese and create a dimension-traveling power
source that lacked the hazards inherent to spam.  And that's what the Fromage
Initiative was...a program trying to open dimensional gateways using cheese.
Like the one our leathery friend escaped through."
     "That wasn't leather," Kat muttered.  "I know naugahyde when I see it." 
     "Not important," Zwarghoff insisted.
     "So, leaving out any technical details for the moment, exactly what
happened two years ago?" Richard asked.
     "Well, you were probably told that I was on vacation that week, but
that's a lie."
     "We kinda suspected that," Kat nodded.
     "Yeah, They didn't want anyone asking me inconvenient questions, so They
faked up records of me being in Las Vegas that week.  Not too had to do, for
someone with They's resources.  Anyway...."

               *              *              *              *

[October 27, 2005 - Manhattan, KS]

     "We have a stable cheeezball," Paul said, peering over the blast shield.
"Looks like five centimeters diameter," he added, eyeing the floating orange
     "I'm getting some high Tannion readings," Zwarghoff warned.  "It could
be getting ready to expand."
     "I know, just be ready to kill power if it goes over ten centimeters.  I
don't think the cleaning crew would appreciate it if we filled the lab with
transdimensional processed Cheeez Spred (TM)," Paul chuckled.
     "Roger that, not to mention trying to get the stuff out of my ears,"
Hans nodded.
     "Interdimensional energy sensors are showing green.  We have a bridge
between altiverses.  At least, I hope that's what green means.  That manual
was straight off of," Paul frowned.
     "No kidding.  But I think the translation we got from our Mad English
Department people is on target."
     "Right.  Inserting probe," Paul typed in some commands at his keyboard,
setting a robotic arm into motion.  It moved a thin rod towards the floating
cheeezball.  "Time to get some idea of which altiverse we're connected to."
     "Please let it be 000BIKINIBABESWHOLIKEGEEKS," Zwarghoff sighed.





     Answers to some of these, but probably not the first one (sadly), on the


Author's Notes:

     The "Literary Devices" of the title are foreshadowing and flashbacks.
Simple as that.  Honest.  I have no insidious hidden meaning here, move
     A quick bit of background for anyone hopelessly lost at this point,
which I suppose might have been helpful in the notes for #1.  In Dvandom
Force #48, time got sort of splintered at the climax of the X-Post Facto arc.
A bunch of Kopikat's nanomachines got splashed across time, space and
dimensions, and some of them landed in the Superguy altiverses, where they
absorbed local materials and assumed the forms of four of the members of
Dvandom Force: Sig.Lad, Cheeez Arrow, Rotanna and Kopikat herself.  The
possibility that more of them landed elsewhere, perhaps in 000SUPERGUY
directly, will be addressed elsewhere, eventually.  :) 
     Anyway, after a number of adventures during which they acquired
elemental powers (and the codenames Skysabre, Oakthorn, Forgeheart and
Katena), the quartet found themselves in 000SUPERGUY and discovered that they
were merely copies, which caused a certain amount of existential angst.  In
Exarchs #25 they settled on new names (mostly).  Sig.Lad, aka Richard
Franklins, kept his "real" name, but was more comfortable going by Skysabre.
Cheeez Arrow, the most filled with existential angst, changed his name to
Paul Oakthorn and moped around for a while, but as you can see from this
issue, he eventually got over it.  Rotanna, whose original eventually became
the Looniearth's Dreamqueen, took the name Anna Martel (since her elemental
weapon as Forgeheart was a big hammer).  And Kopikat went back to being Kat
Anders, having gotten over the whole existential angst thing about 80 years
and two or three bodies ago (a human scanned into a robot body in the 2160s
and then having her body converted to nanomachines and then put in a new body
that turned to living stone will get you over that sort of stuff).
     In the wake of events shown in New Exarchs #1, they lost the bulk of
their powers, both the original powers they had as copies of the Looniverse
people, and the elemental powers they acquired during "A Season In Crimson,"
but echoes remain.  Richard is still a talented swordsman and general
adventurer, with an adaptable mind and various personality traits that seem
air-related.  Paul was still an expert archer and had his knowledge of Cheeez
science, although his affinity for wood was apparently totally gone.  Anna
still knows a little magic, but nothing useful in a fight, and as seen this
issue she still has some dream-related abilities.  And Kat is still cursed
with perfect recall of every bit of her century and more of life.  This puts
them nicely at the level of pulp SciFi heroes.
     Oh, and in case you're wondering why there was no (TM) after "Road Race
>From Hell", Hell is no longer trademarked, they disincorporated a few years

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