[SG/LNH] New Exarchs #13 - What Hiatus?

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at eyrie.org
Fri Aug 8 12:02:57 PDT 2008

[February 22, 2008 - Manhattan, KS]

     The doorbell rang, and Hans rushed to get it.  The kids were supposed to
be out of town today, so either it was a solicitor who needed to be shooed
away, or....
     He opened the door.  A man in a dark business suit under a knee-length
wool coat stood on the stoop, pulling off his sunglasses.  "I'm Agent
Brubaker, I'm With The Government," he introduced himself.  "And you have
something to tell me about the Exarchs, Doctor Zwarghoff?"
     "Yes, yes...come in.  Can't be too careful, They might be watching," he
muttered as he showed the agent of I'm With The Government into the
nondescript house.
     "I have it on good authority that They are otherwise occupied at the
moment, between the events in Boston and in California," Agent Brubaker put
his sunglasses into a pocket of his coat, then took off the coat and folded
it over one arm.  "Coat rack?" he asked.
     "In the closet, I think," Hans gestured in the vague direction of the
boot room.  His own coat was hanging over the back of one of the dining room
chairs, and the kids' coats ended up in random places whenever they visited.
Seriously random...he'd been inputting their locations over the past month
and there was absolutely no pattern whatsoever.
     Agent Brubaker seemed a little taken aback by what he saw in the closet,
but made no comment before returning to face Hans.  "So.  The Exarchs have
been missing for over two months now.  Fortunately, things have been quiet
since that one incident at the Manhattan Town Center, so it's mostly been a
curiosity to my superiors.  And to They, I would presume."
     "Wait, you know about They?" Hans's eyes widened in shock.  No one ever
seemed to believe him when he warned about They.  He suspected even the
Exarchs were just humoring him.
     "Doctor, I'm With The Government.  Of course I know about They.  But
that's not important right now.  What's important, I presume, is the news you
have for me, and by extension, for my superiors."
     "Of course, of course.  Let's sit down in the kitchen.  Would you like
something to drink?" Hans offered.  Not that he had a lot of variety in the
fridge at the moment.
     "A glass of milk would be appreciated," Brubaker nodded.  "And since
you've been playing host to a pair of aspiring Preteen Patrollers, I presume
you have some available."
     Hans got out the carton of 2% and poured some into a Sporkboy tumbler.
"Oops, sorry about that, habit," he started to reach for a fresh glass of a
more grown-up nature, but Brubaker held up a hand.
     "That's fine.  I was something of a fan of Sporkboy in my youth as well,
although I'm not sure I totally approve of what he's done with his life since
then," he took the glass and sipped from it.  "So, to business?"
     "To business!" Hans held up the empty second glass.  "Eh, heh...a little
joke.  Yes, right," he sat down, then stood and put the milk back in the
fridge, then sat down, then adjusted his glasses, then...
     "If you're done fidgeting?"
     "Just a little bit more," Hans held up a finger, then cleared his throat
and adjusted the collar of his shirt.  "Okay.  Here's the thing.  I'm sure
you know about those Naugas that were captured at the mall, right?  Well,
they're from another altiverse..."
     "000SUPERDRY, yes.  We've had over two months to interrogate them.
Their leader, Sung the Stainless, has designs of unknown nature on
000SUPERGUY, but discloses none of his long range plans to his underlings.
It could be anything from expanding his dry-cleaning chain into a new market
to a naked grab for secular power with the intention of straddling to
realities like unto a god.  The timing of Sung's interest in 000SUPERGUY is
conveniently close to the date of the accident in New Call Hall that
supposedly claimed the life of Paul Oakthorn and helped ruin your career, so
it seems likely that Oakthorn was not killed but instead transported to
000SUPERDRY via the mechanism of the Cheeez the two of you were studying."
     "Ah, yes.  That shortens my monologue a little, Agent Brubaker.  Thank
you.  So I can get right to what I finally confirmed the other day.
000SUPERDRY is a Fae Altiverse," Zwarghoff revealed.
     "In which sense?  The government is not allowed to discriminate on the
basis of sexual preference, as I'm sure you're aware," Brubaker narrowed his
     "No, no," Hans shook his head, secretly relieved that he'd finally hit
something Brubaker didn't already know about.  "Have you ever read or heard
the old fairy tales about a man visiting a fairy...or fae...kingdom, enjoying
the best evening he's ever had, and then coming home to find a generation has
passed and everyone thinks he died?"
     Brubaker nodded.  "My agency is familiar with that sort of fae as well,
yes.  Although most do not indulge in time travel."
     "It's not time travel, not exactly.  I've been doing a lot of research
into obscure altiversal theory while the Exarchs have been gone, since, um,
Anna got me access to some restricted arcane libraries online.  A Fae
Altiverse is one where the temporal constant is not the same as our own.
Instead, time passes much more rapidly here than there, so that an evening
spent at a party in the Fae Altiverse would correspond to a generation
passing in our world.  Or maybe two days, or a million years.  As far as I
can determine, the reason why the Exarchs haven't returned to the rendezvous
point yet is because only a few hours have passed for them.  They aren't late
     Brubaker frowned, then took a long pull from his milk as he thought.
"That doesn't jibe with our interrogation," he finally said.  "As far as the
Naugas know, there's no time flow irregularity between altiverses."
     "Ah, but that's because for about two years there was an *unnatural*
connection between 000SUPERGUY and 000SUPERDRY.  The accident at New Call
Hall forged a link between the altiverses," Hans held up his hands and
intermeshed the fingers, "bringing 000SUPERDRY into synch with the consensus
time constant of the majority of altiverses.  But when I worked out the flaws
in our process and used the Paleoculture to send the Exarchs through, I
unwittingly broke that bridge and the timelines were free to move as normal
again.  It took me a while to figure out, because while I have a Cheeezball
open, the timelines synch up again, and something on the other side keeps
attacking my probes.  But I finally got a probe to stay in one piece between
successive Cheeezball openings and managed to determine the time slip rate."
     "So, if we're to get the Exarchs back some time before the Road Race
>From Hell finishes," Brubaker mused, "you'd need to hold a link open for an
extended period, enough time for them to finish their mission and come back
to the rendezvous point.  And prevent the mysterious attackers from coming
through to this side.  Assuming they didn't simply kill the Exarchs upon
arrival, of course."
     Hans shook his head and disentangled his hands.  "It's not that simple,"
he replied, somewhat petulantly.  "Keeping a Cheeezball open not only
requires a great deal of energy, but it also...stretches spacetime.  The
energy requirements will increase exponentially over time, and eventually the
whole thing will collapse in a spectacular fashion.  Explosively, even.  So I
certainly can't do it here, this neighborhood isn't zoned for non-tornado-
related massive devastation."
     "It seems to me that we could solve multiple problems at once.  Install
the new gate in an isolated location with a dedicated power source, operate
it remotely so that any explosion won't take personnel with it, and this
would also move the other end of the gateway so that whoever's been attacking
your probes wouldn't necessarily be in position to do so," Brubaker
suggested.  "Assuming you're willing to get over your paranoia and let the
government get involved in this."
     "There's another problem besides my *completely justified* concerns
about the government, Agent Brubaker," Hans frowned.  "By my calculations,
when the Cheeezball does collapse, the time constant will briefly rebound
with a vengeance.  The next few seconds in 000SUPERDRY will pass at the same
time as about thirty years here.  Anyone we can't get out the first time is
never coming back, not during this generation."
     Agent Brubaker nodded.  "So we only get one shot to anchor the realities
and send a rescue team in after the Exarchs.  When will they officially be
late for your originally-planned return gate?"
     "The first week of April, give or take.  It'd be nice to have some
people available to go through and secure the other end during the few
minutes I have the Cheeezball open, though."
     "That can be arranged," Brubaker nodded.  "And I'll take this
information to my superiors, along with any data you care to send along.
It'll take time to find a suitable location for the second gate and deal with
any environmental impact statements and the like, so we can afford to wait
and see if they come back on their own before committing to actually building
this secondary site."
     "Thank you, Agent Brubaker.  And hopefully They'll keep being distracted
long enough for us to pull this off.  By the way, I don't suppose you'd be
interested in mentoring a Preteen Patrol team?" Hans looked hopeful.
     "Sorry, Doctor Zwarghoff.  I don't do mentoring, I'm just a middleman."

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #13 - What Hiatus? 
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2008 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--


     "Duke Earl?" Skysabre stepped forward as Anna and Kat dropped to the
sides to form a defensive triangle of sorts without being blatantly obvious
about it.  The moonlit forest was full of threats both seen and unseen, and
they all seemed to answer to the self-proclaimed Duke in front of Skysabre.
"Have you ever met a man, a talented archer, named Paul Oakthorn?  We're his
comrades, and have reason to believe he is somewhere in these lands."
Skysabre mentally crossed his fingers and hoped Paul hadn't managed to become
notorious as a villain or something in the two years he'd been here.
     "If a man sought to make his wage by the bow, he would have ended up
among the Suedes," Duke Earl boasted, "for we are Sango's masters at that
ancient art.  But I have heard of no such man, at least not that I can
recall.  Neither have I ever heard of anyone called Skysabre, or the Exarchs,
as you introduced yourselves [back in episode 11, lo these many months ago -
Ed, who thought Hans would never stop yakking.].  How do I know you're not
spies for Sung?  Or worse, for the unspeakable horrors of the Clay Flats?"
     "They're not *that* unspeakable," Kat muttered.  "Just squirrels made of
     "Shh," Anna admonished.
     "Sung the Stainless has sent his men into, um, the lands of our clan,"
Skysabre replied.  "We think he may have been inspired to do so by tales of
our friend, or possibly because he has captured Paul."
     Duke Earl shook his head sadly.  "If your comrade has fallen into the
foul yet sanitary hands of Sung the Stainless, then you may as well return
home, for none escape the steam presses of Sango City.  But," his mood
brightened, "any victim of Sung's is an ally of the Suedes.  Let us feast,
and celebrate your comrade's life and sing him into the halls of the dead!" 
     "On the plus side, they're not shooting at us," Kat whispered.  "On the
minus side, we're definitely going to miss the rendezvous unless we can beg
off early from the feasting."
     "Well, I don't think we were going to make it back anyway, since the
Clays made it clear they didn't want us around," Anna whispered back.  
     As the Suedes swung back up into the trees save for a few escorts who
firmly "guided" the Exarchs towards the Suede village, Skysabre nodded at the
assessment.  "We're just going to have to use Sung's own gateway to get
back.  At least he seems to have some control over where he puts down the
Cheeezeballs, so we don't have to pop into the mall...."

               *              *              *              *

[April 3, 2008 - Manhattan, KS]

     The doorbell rang, and Hans scrambled to get it.  Hopefully it'd be the
squad of soldiers he was expecting, who would help secure the other end of
the Cheeezball so that the Exarchs could come through safely.
     He opened the door, seeing no one.  Then he sighed and looked down.
     "Hi!" Ecliptic beamed.  She was in her new spring-weight costume with
the optional holstered umbrella and Hans's latest Cheeez sensor (which he had
made to look like a raygun, since Corrine wanted to at least be able to
threaten people with something if she had to).  Next to her, Mikey was in
costume as Space Case, but he seemed to have lost his umbrella already.  And
on his shoulder was a black squirrel.
     "Hello, Doctor Zwarghoff," the squirrel said, a contralto voice
materializing in his mind as if by magic, even as he faintly heard the
squeaking that was the squirrel's true speech.  "We have much to do before
the day is out."
     "She followed us home," Ecliptic grinned innocently.  "Can she be our
third for the Preteen Patrol?"





     Answers to some of these, especially the last one, on the next...


Author's Notes:

     Well, I fell out of inspiration months ago, but since all the other
Superguy activity ground to a halt around then (save for occasional episodes
of Rad), I didn't feel too guilty about it.  Then Eric Burns-White had to go
ahead and put out two episodes of The League *and* a character handbook.
     Fortunately, I think I've figured out where I want all of this to go now
(part of the lack of inspiration was a lack of knowing what the end of the
story was going to look like...yes, I tend to make this stuff up as I go most
of the time), and I think I can wrap up the Sango arc without being a total
cop-out, *and* without requiring a 12-episode grind on my part.  :)
     Agent Brubaker was something of a cipher when he appeared previously,
I've grafted some influences from Middleman (ABC Family) onto him, as some
readers have already figured out.  No plans for a Dubdub analogue yet, but
"no plans" describes most of my Superguy writing, as previously mentioned.

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