[SG/LNH] New Exarchs #10 - Clay Pigeons

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Wed Jan 30 11:38:49 PST 2008

[December 10, 2007 - Manhattan, KS]

     "I really think we should go home now, Corin-uh, Epicycle," Mikey aka
"Focus" aka "Ecliptic" aka "Oort Kid" aka "Oh, shut up and come on" said.
"It's dark, and the weather's getting nasty.  And I'm cold in this costume."
     "Just one more block," Epicycle insisted.  "With that ice storm moving
in, you know we're not gonna get another chance to go out on our own for a
few days, since Dad'll be stuck at home."
     "I think we're probably grounded anyway for being out this late," Mikey
grumbled.  "School's gonna be out, and I'll be stuck at home."
     "All the more reason to give it one more shot tonight, right?  What's
that thing about might as well hang for...something as something not as bad?" 
     "I don't wanna hang for *anything*," Mikey insisted.  "B'sides, until we
can find a third kid and someone willing to be our advisor, we can't form a
Preteen Patrol group, so why freeze our butts off out here tonight?"
     Epicycle shook her head, the leather straps of her aviator helmet
blowing in the rising wind.  "Didn't you even *read* the promotional material
the shadowy Board of Directors sent us?  Being a Superguy is about more than
having powers...look at Sporkboy!  It's about embracing the forces of wild
     "Are there domesticated coincidences?" Mikey asked.  "I mean, if there
are, we could look for one inside.  At home.  Where it's WARM.  Man, the
trees are starting to ice up pretty bad, aren't they?"
     "I think you'd have to ask Dreamweaver about that," Epicycle shrugged.
"I read on MazinMobFan.com that she works with 'em.  And if you're cold, why
don't you turn on the heater in your costume?"
     Mikey stopped dead.  "Wait.  There's a HEATER in here, and you didn't
tell me?"
     "What, you thought all those buttons and knobs on your belt buckle were
just for show?" Epicycle cocked an eyebrow at her brother.
     "Um, yes?"
     She sighed.  "Read the freakin' manual, Space Case.  Here, let me turn
it on for you, you'd just set yourself on fire if you tried it," she reached
over and turned one of the knobs a few clicks to the right.
     "What else can these things do?  I thought you just made 'em in home
     "Well, I customized them with insignia and stuff," Epicycle admitted.
"But I got them out of the Preteen Patrol Home Crimefighting Catalog at
PTP.com.  There's also a GPS beacon so our mentor...or our parents, I
guess...can find us, a pocket for holding an iSpoon player, I think there's a
filter mask in one of the pockets too, but it looks kinda goofy."
     "Any weapons?"
     "Nope.  You think they'd try to sell weapons online to kids?"
     "Well, they try to sell us on the idea of running out into danger, so I
figured maybe...hey, the street light is flickering," Space Case noticed,
having accepted his new codename some moments ago without complaint.
     "A transformer must be getting blown somewhere," Epicycle concluded,
still just barely innocent enough to have no idea of the double entendre
involved in her statement.  "Whoop, there it goes completely.  Wow, it's
     "There's one house over there that still has lights on," Space Case
noticed, shivering despite his newly toasty costume, as the icy rain pelted
his bare face.  "Let's see if they'll let us in so we can call Dad.  I don't
think my cellphone is ice-rain-proof."
     "I think we may have our first wild coincidence," Epicycle proclaimed
confidently as she led Space Case towards the residence.

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #10 - Clay Pigeons 
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2008 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

[000SUPERDRY, not gonna make up a calendar for them, but it's right after
     the end of the last scene in #9]

     Skysabre emerged from the Cheezeball and looked around.  The landscape
was barren and rocky, like certain parts of California that got used a lot
for shooting alien planets on cheap science fiction shows.  Overhead, four
moons were clustered in a sky tinged with purple and pink as the local Sun
was setting.  Or maybe rising.  And maybe there was more than one Sun as
well, he really had no way of knowing.
     Kat and Anna arrived right on his heels, but he'd stepped forward enough
to avoid collisions.
     Kat had her pistols out and was scanning the area suspiciously.  "I
think I saw something moving other than us," she explained.
     Skysabre drew one of his swords and joined in.  "Not seeing anything
right now, but the way the terrain is all tumbledown rocks, there's plenty of
places to hide."
     "Not rocks," Anna knelt down and scraped the surface with one of her
batons.  "Clay.  Air-hard, but not fired.  Whole place probably becomes a
mudpit if it ever rains."
     "Weird.  This doesn't look like a riverbed," Kat observed.  "Or, really,
any kind of terrain where you might find clay at the surface."
     "Different reality, different rules?" Skysabre suggested.
     "Or it's all artificial," Anna suggested.  "Like, we landed in the
middle of someone's training grounds, or a big movie set, made to look like
rocky badlands."
     "Hsss," Kat shushed her.  "Hearing something."
     The others quieted down and listened.  Indeed, there was something.  A
sort of muted chittering, menacing without necessarily being malevolent.
Strange, yet...familiar.
     "Squirrels," Skysabre finally said, narrowing his eyes.  "Sounds like a
dialect of Gray Squirrel chittering, in fact."
     Kat nodded agreement.  "I think they're coordinating an ambush, assuming
we don't understand their language."
     Anna blinked.  "Wait, and we DO understand their language?"
     "I have an annoyingly perfect memory, tied to a few lifetimes' worth of
espionage skills," Kat shrugged.  "I just sort of picked it up after all that
time around the Grays during the Erlang affair."
     "I was bored and took an online course," Skysabre added.  "University of
Phoenix has the weirdest stuff if you know where to look."
     "Okay, but why do they speak Squirrel from our Earth?" Anna asked.
     "Why do the goons we fought at the mall speak English?" Kat shrugged.
"Plot convenience or something.  I mean, if this is a divergent Earth, it
diverged a LONG time ago," she gestured at the multiple moons in the sky.
"Anyway, gimme a sec to let them know our intentions."
     Kat cut loose with a stream of high pitched squeaks and chitters that
sounded hard on the throat, then explained to Anna, "I just told them all
that we can hear them out there, we have no quarrel with them, and we're
looking for Sung the Stainless.  At least, I think I asked them about Sung.
Proper names are a bitch and a half to translate."
     There was silence, then a single, faint squeaking reply.
     "He said to walk towards the sunset," Skysabre smiled.  "I guess that
also answers the time of day question I had."
     "He also said to be gone before sundown, or they'd descend upon us in
clawed waves of death and strip the flesh from our bones as they do to all
other interlopers," Kat added.  "Squirrel is a very concise language."
     At that point, dozens of strange, lumpish forms rose from concealment
all around the trio.  They looked to be squirrels made crudely of clay, with
black beads for eyes.  They all pointed towards the sunset, and one chirped
     "Right.  We're gone," Skysabre bowed, and the three set off.
     Once they were away from the strange clay squirrels, Anna asked, "Um, if
they tear apart interlopers, how do we get back to the extraction point?"
     "Complication number one," Skysabre smirked.  "And I'm sure Hans is
dealing with his own problems back home.  Looks like the rules of drama are
in effect here too...."

               *              *              *              *

     Another day, another strange and inhospitable world.  Jonkatta made
himself scarce after hitching a ride through the interaltiversal portal with
the former allies of the hated "Crazy Guy".  Despite the increasing levels of
warfare in England, he'd been sent back to Kansas to investigate indications
that the Exarchs were getting back together.  Whenever they were active, it
seemed to have an impact on squirrel society, and as the Red nation's most
experienced agent in strange happenings, Jonkatta had been tapped to check it
     Now, however, he was worried he'd just been dropped into a new front in
the eternal war of Red and Gray. 
     "I'm getting too old for this," he muttered very quietly to himself.
     All around him were the dire chitterings of Grays.  He couldn't smell
them, couldn't smell anything other than the three humans, the faint aroma of
cheeez, and the clay that permeated this blasted landscape.  But he heard
them, and had so far avoided the unseen speakers.  The humans seemed to be
occupying the attention of the native Grays, though, letting Jonkatta make
good his escape from the general vicinity.  He could always find the humans
later, before they returned home (they had an odor about them that was hard
to miss), but he needed to scout out the situation without them knowing about
     Speaking of odors that were hard to miss, the scent of wet clay was
almost overpowering now, despite the dryness of the ground.  There must be a
stream or a spring nearby, which was good news...interaltiversal travel was
thirsty work.
     He headed downhill, following his nose even though his ears weren't
picking up any flowing water.  It might just be a clay-filled seep, but part
of survival training was learning not to be picky.  Even if he wasn't thirsty
enough to drink whatever the source offered now, he'd mark it in his memory
for later, when he was that thirsty.
     The sounds of the humans had faded completely when he found the tiny,
cloudy pool of water.  It didn't look too bad, so he approached it.
     "Halt, stranger!" came a strangely accented voice, speaking an archaic
version of Gray.  "Drink not, lest ye be doomed!"
     Jonkatta looked up to see he was surrounded by a dozen squirrels that
looked to have rolled in clay...no, they were *made* of clay!  No wonder he
hadn't smelled them.  Or, rather, he had smelled them, but simply hadn't
known what he was smelling....

               *              *              *              *


     The power flickered and Hans sighed, waiting for the backup generators
to come online.  "Oh great, looks like the neighborhood is out," he sighed as
he checked a monitor.  "Now we'll stand out like a sore thumb...better go
upstairs and turn out all the lights before someone notices I've still got
     No sooner had Dr. Zwarghoff started up the stairs from the basement lab
than there was a knock at the door.
     "Who could that be?" Hans wondered.







     Answers to some of these, and more California badlands scenery, on the


Author's Notes:

     Of *course* humans can learn to speak squirrel, as demonstrated in The
Emperor's New Groove.  However, most squirrels who interact with humans just
learn our languages.  Especially those who live in the U.S., given the old
joke, "What do you call a person who speaks three languages?  Trilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks two languages?  Bilingual.  What do you
call a person who speaks only one language?  American!"
     Don't feel too bad for Anna, though.  She's had to learn Latin as part
of her job, and if the group ever gets dropped into a "Roman Empire With
Rayguns" setting, she'll be the go-to for translation.

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