[ASH] ASH #91 - Kheper's Path Part III: Crossing Midnight
Dave Van Domelen
dvandom at haven.eyrie.org
Thu Jul 10 12:05:43 PDT 2008
The cover shows Contact staring up at a symbolically gigantic and
shadow-draped Pope, with a slender sliver of moonlight over the Pope's
shoulder fragmented into numerous colors by a stained glass window.
//|| //^^\\ || || .|. COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
// || \\ || || --X---------------------------------------------
//======================= '|` ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES #91
// || \\ || || Kheper's Path III: Crossing Midnight
// || \\__// || || Copyright 2008 by Dave Van Domelen
ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES ROLL CALL
CODENAME REAL NAME POWERS ASSIGNMENT
-------- --------- ------ ----------
Solar Max Jonathan Zachary Spacetime Control AMERICA
Meteor Sarah Grant-Taylor Superspeed AMERICA
Scorch Scott Handleman Pyrokinetic CANADA
Green Knight Salvatore Napier Strength, Regeneration MEXICO
Fury Arin Kelsey Concussion Blasts MEXICO
Contact Aaron Zander Psi, Mind-over-Body DIPLOMATIC
Breaker Christina Li Telekinesis DIPLOMATIC
Essay Sara Ana Henderson Gadgeteer VENUS
Peregryn Howard Henderson Jr. Elemental Mage VENUS
Beacon George Sylvester Living Light VENUS
Geode Unknown Living Crystal VENUS
Lightfoot Tom Dodson Velocity Control TRANSIT
[June 18, 2026 - Vatican City]
"Thank you for agreeing to see me, your Holiness," Aaron Zander said as
he entered the small room deep in the Vatican's sub-basement complex. It
looked like it had been designed as someone's office, the only concession to
its location being a tasteful plaque on one wall with the Papal Seal. But as
soon as the door closed he could *feel* the silence descend on him in a way
that had nothing to do with Pope Paul VII's minor Anchor talent.
The room was clearly soundproofed.
"Please, sit," the Pope motioned to the only other chair in the room.
There was also a low bench, apparently meant for kneeling, and Aaron could
make out a seam on the wall where a privacy screen might extend.
"Should I lead off by saying how long it's been since my last
confession?" Aaron smirked slightly as he took the offered chair.
"Ha, perceptive of you, young man. This is indeed a confessional. What
it lacks in the artistic stylings of those in the cathedral above," his head
jerked upwards slightly, "it more than makes up for in privacy. Certain
politically and economically powerful people have more need than most to
unburden their souls to God, but don't dare do so where any might be
"Which is why we're meeting here, and not in an audience chamber," Aaron
"Indeed. My audience chamber is reasonably secure, but it would be
difficult to be certain no one from the Church would be able to overhear,"
his tone darkened slightly. The Pope led a double life, not only leader of
the Catholic Church but also one of the few surviving members of the old
Anchorite Conclave, a group led at one point by the recently deceased Devlin
Marx. And certain aspects of his membership in the Conclave would sit very
poorly with the Church hierarchy...such as the fact he worshipped pagan gods.
No amount of syncretic circumlocution would save his position if that point
came to light, and knowledge of it had given Aaron the leverage needed to get
"I'll get straight to the point," Contact said, "since I'm sure you're
quite busy and would rather not dwell too much on this issue. In my
investigation of the death of Devlin Marx, I found that someone involved in
the matter wore a suit of Santari bodyguard armor, the same model as your
Helvetican Guard wears. A model that is, strictly speaking, illegal for sale
on Earth, meaning that it takes more than just money to get it."
The Pope considered this for a moment. "No, you don't think I had a
hand in this, do you. But perhaps I know who did, yes?" His previously very
faint Italian accent started to strengthen. "I can perform some discreet
inquiries regarding the status of the suits owned by the Holy See, of course,
but assuming the armor was sighted in Manhattan...well, it would be difficult
for one of the Helveticans to 'go off the reservation' as you Americans put
it, for long enough to cross the ocean. Even using a suit that was
officially offline for maintenance," he added, as if struck by a sudden
-+Does something strike you as odd here?+- Paul asked, his voice distant
and a little flat, the way it got when Aaron was in the presence of an
Anchor. The memories and much of the personality were a "natural" part of
Aaron now, a sort of high-functioning neurosis, but without his own
telepathic talent at full capacity, the psychic "ghost" tended to feel more
like Aaron just talking to himself.
+-Like what?-+ Aaron thought back, the exchange taking place more
quickly than verbal communication could. Aloud, he noted, "Whoever acquired
the suit may have used the same seller the Holy See did. Plus, of course,
even if you can't help me on this particular lead, you're in a good position
to know who might want Marx dead and have the resources to accomplish this."
-+He looks like you used to whenever you were talking to me, before you
learned to hide it. Like he's in telepathic contact with someone else,
although even an Anchor as weak as he is couldn't be in psi link without the
signal being so powerful we'd be hearing it too.+-
Paul VII chuckled darkly. "Archangeli simplified that matter
considerably for you, my son. I doubt there is anyone left alive from the
old Conclave that could accomplish this...aside from myself, of course. And
I do suppose I might have a motive to kill Marx, if I thought he was about to
reveal my secrets. But, as your presence shows, my secrets are less tightly
held than they once might have been, so killing Marx wouldn't have helped me
in the least. Even the fact that someone *else* killed him has led you to my
door and threatens my position. Perhaps someone else wished to set numerous
pins tumbling with a single blow, killing the Eye of Horus in such a way as
to cast unfavorable light upon me? The recently re-emerged Triton would
certainly be inclined to that sort of convoluted plan."
+-He's wearing a wire, maybe?-+ Aaron thought to Paul while part of his
mind paid attention to the Pope's words.
-+Seems likely. He might not want just anyone in the Church listening
in on this conversation, but he's bound to have one or two Conclave
sympathizers in the ranks for support.+-
While his powers were blunted by the Pope's Anchor ability, Aaron was
still able to use them on himself, and started adjusting his own hearing,
filtering things a normal person could hear into one part of his mind while
cranking up the gain and focusing in on the vicinity of the Pope's ears.
Over the expected sound of pumping blood and echoing ambient sound, Aaron
picked up a second voice.
"...in fact, Triton's probably engaged in a campaign against you!
Subverting Aegis, framing you for murder...."
"In fact," the Pope said a heartbeat later, "I wouldn't be surprised if
this is tied in with the fact that my agent Aegis seems to have switched his
loyalties to Khadam. You may wish to investigate the possibility that
Chancellor Radner has embarked on some complex plan to bring down the
Vatican. That...does something trouble you, my son?"
-+Damn *straight* it's troubling me. You know that voice on the other
end of the earpiece. We both do, even through the masking and pitch shift.+-
+-So much for my vaunted poker face, though. How do we play this?
Preferably without either getting killed or starting another international
incident?-+ Aaron asked his other side.
-+Dissemble for now.+-
+-Right, I've got an idea.-+
"I was just thinking...I can tell this room is soundproofed, and we're
pretty far underground, but how good is the signal shielding? I had to leave
my comm with the Helveticans, but there's a lot of people running around with
electromagnetic snooping abilities," Aaron explained.
"Ah, but most of those abilities require active violation effects, so I
suppose I never had to worry about them personally," Paul VII smiled in a
reassuring, grandfatherly way. "But heavy shielding or jamming would
interfere with other parts of the complex, so we prefer to rely on simply
being careful about not letting electronics into the confessional."
"And," the faint second voice seemed to mock, "no amount of shielding
can protect you from your own guilty conscience, can it?"
-+His reaction to that...he really thinks that voice is his conscience,
+-That simplifies matters. If he's being manipulated rather than being
allied to her, I think it's time to let him know what's going on.-+
"No, shielding can't stop a guilty conscience," Aaron said aloud, and
the Pope's eyes went wide. He felt his senses dull slightly as the older man
drove his Anchor as hard as he could. "And I'm not reading your mind, your
Holiness. Because you're not hearing the voice of your own conscience,
you're hearing the voice of Mr. Strings."
Lancing out faster than the eye could follow thanks to his "mind over
body" talent, Contact drove the fingernail of his right little finger down
the Pope's left ear, emerging with a small flap of what looked like skin, but
with a tiny bump on the backside. Almost at the same moment as his hand came
away from the Pope's head, the tiny bump detonated in a yellow flare.
"Yah!" Aaron yelped as his finger was charred by the self-destructing
device. He reflexively rerouted the pain response and started enhancing the
Stunned, the Pope clutched the side of his head and stared at Aaron's
"No, not your conscience at all," Aaron repeated.
* * * *
[May 12, 2026 - Tegucigalpa, Honduras Sector]
"Isthmus. TeGOOOciGALpa," Ross Hoekstra muttered under his breath. He
figured it was about time to move on, given that he could finally pronounce
the names of the State and city he was living in. "Honduras" was an easy
one, of course, although picking up on the subtlety of the local
pronounciation was a little tricky.
Tegucigalpa was a nice enough place for a Sector capital in a Minor
State, Hooks supposed. Most people preferentially spoke Spanish, but since
English was the official tongue of the Combine Hooks could get by most places
without having to break into his own halting Spanish. It was close enough to
the "frontier" of South America that regulations were on the loose side, and
it didn't take much to stay out of the official eye. But he did tend to
stand out a bit, and he'd known from day one that he shouldn't get too
Besides, summer was approaching, and as nasty as a Manhattan summer
*could* get, a Honduras summer was pretty much that way the whole season
through, from what he'd heard.
Hooks's blackcel purred in his pocket. If not for the fact he'd been
obsessing about this call all week, he might have thought it coincidental
that it came while he was thinking about moving on.
"Hola, que pasa?" he answered. Protective coloration...anyone watching
would think he was just talking to someone local.
"She misses you, and wants you to come visit," spoke a carefully
neutral, computer-modulated voice that could have been anyone, but Hooks knew
it was either Marx or one of his flunkies.
Mind you, Hooks could probably be considered one of Marx's flunkies at
"Usual way?" In other words, head to the airport, flash his very
well-made fake ID and pick up tickets to wherever it was Marx wanted him to
move next. Although, in this case, the code meant Gimble would be at the
other end of the trip, and Hooks was trying very hard to not start jumping up
and down in joy.
"Yes. We'll see you in Detroit."
The joy was replaced by a sense of unreasoning dread as the connection
was cut and Hooks put away the phone.
Why did it have to be Detroit? Hooks heard things, it was his power.
People would unburden their greatest secrets to him. And bits and pieces
about what he'd heard about Detroit told him that his irrational fear of the
place wasn't so irrational.
"They check in, but they don't check out," he muttered under his breath
as he headed back for his apartment to start packing. The rent would keep
getting paid for a few months, so if anyone had picked up his trail here it
might get a chance ot go cold....
* * * *
[June 20, 2026 - Washington, Federal Sector]
Unlike the confessional under the Vatican, this room was very heavily
shielded against everything that the very paranoid Combine Security Agency
people could think of, including the sort of Pranir-made neutrino
transmitters they thought might have been part of the device Aaron had
removed from the Pope.
Much like that room, though, a great many sins were likely confessed in
this room...but less for absolution and more to make sure everyone was on the
same page. If you're going to sin, at least be organized about it.
"I believe everyone's here," Chancellor Stockwell nodded, looking around
at the small gathering. His position may have been the next best thing to a
figurehead, but he did have the power of veto and enough personal influence
over the Canadian House of Representatives that he was a lot more "in the
loop" than one might think based purely on his Constitutional job
description. "Senators, Director, Mr. Zander," he looked around the table.
Jason Okuma, the senior of America's two Senators and likely the most
politically powerful man in the Combine, got right down to business. "Just
in case the company here doesn't make it painfully clear, Mr. Zander, we're
not taking this matter lightly. State secrets may have a half-life somewhat
shorter than that of a high transuranic element, but you will NOT be the one
to kill this one off, got it? We're going to need every second we can get to
try to do damage control groundwork before it comes out that the leader of
the Catholic Church was being influenced...or even outright controlled...by
"You don't have to keep it entirely to yourself," Senator Juana Herrera
temporized. The senior Senator of Mexico was notoriously comfortable in the
role of "good cop" to Okuma's "bad cop" when it came to political wheeling
and dealing. "Anyone fully cleared to know about the extent of the Strings
affair will be getting briefed, or has already been briefed, depending on how
quickly we could get them into a secure room. And that includes Miss Clark,
obviously." The director of MetaPsych would be hard to keep out of matters
in any case, was the unspoken coda.
Aaron nodded. "I apologize for taking so long to get back, but..."
"But when your hand explodes next to the Pope's head, it tends to raise
all sorts of interesting and complicated questions, yes," Okuma smirked.
"And you'd still be in the Vatican in time to see the Christmas Mass if I
hadn't leaned on some friends in the EU. Fortunately, the telepathic message
you sent to our security head in the Rome embassy let us get things moving
while we waited for you to get back."
"To get to the nub of things," Stockwell drummed his fingers on the
tabletop, "how certain are you that it was Dumont at the other end of that
"Completely," Aaron assured them. "As part of our attempts to prepare
for the return of the Impossible Five, I've reviewed recordings of all our
fights against them, and the current Burnout is part of that footage. Her
voice was electronically distorted, but I've got a rather good ear. She's
also vicious enough that I doubt my removal of the device triggered the
self-destruct...she probably sent a signal as soon as she realized she'd
Herrera arched an eyebrow. "And, hopefully, the Vatican can be
convinced of that last point. Some voices within the Church are claiming
your rash actions endangered the Pope, and if you'd left well enough alone an
expert could have removed the device more safely. But," she shrugged,
"that's neither here nor there. And the majority seem grateful that you
saved him, so we're probably okay on that diplomatic score."
The CSA director finally spoke up. Aaron didn't know his name, and
suspected that any that might be offered would be false anyway. If the man
wasn't an Anchor, he was as hard to telepathically read as one. "Based on
what you *have* been able to tell us, I'm fairly confident we've identified
the model of 'tap' that Dumont had on the Pope. It's a standard, if
expensive, element of Pranir trade espionage. Planted on a willing agent,
it's like putting a wire on them while having the option of remote 'suicide'
in the event of capture. On an unwitting agent, it's usually not placed
anywhere that the charge would be lethal. So, the question that's going to
be keeping the Pope's security up nights is, 'How did Dumont get that thing
in the Pope's ear?'"
"The question *I* want answered is, 'Who wanted us to find it?' though,"
Aaron countered. "Someone laid a rather expensive false trail down, to point
those investigating Marx's murder at the Pope. Unfortunately, about the only
person I can eliminate as a suspect at this point is Burnout, since while
she'd certainly like to see Marx dead, she wouldn't have done it in such a
way that could lead to so valuable a puppet."
"Fine," Okuma nodded. "And I agree, there's something fishy going on
here, especially if news as big as the Pope's situation was only a by-blow.
Once the Director here is done with you, I want you back on Marx's murder
case. Someone's playing a very dangerous game, and I want to know the rules
before we make a disastrous move."
* * * *
[May 16, 2026 - Detroit, Michigan Sector]
"Kim Bell" watched nervously as the nurse carried "Cindy" from the room,
then looked back at Doctor Albert Reyes.
"Don't worry, Ms. Graves," the middle-aged hispanic man assured her.
"You won't revert to your exoskeletal form while you're with me. And I think
Innocenza needs to start getting used to time spent apart from you, lest
separation anxiety become a serious issue for her later in life. She's not
far, and I'll have her brought back in when we're done. Mr. Hoekstra will
get some time to get acquainted with her as well," he grinned.
Gimble had been glad to see Ross, but a little wary. Marx was bringing
everyone important to her together, which could be just a convenient way to
hold them over her head.
"Now," Reyes steepled his fingers, "I think we can find a way to let you
control your metamorphoses. You have, no doubt, been told at some point that
Magene effects are purely exercises of the will, which probably made you feel
even worse because it meant you couldn't even control your own power, yes?"
Gimble nodded, apprehensively. The painful molting, the eating of
offal...the first time someone had told her it had to be "voluntary" she
nearly broke her code against making weapons in order to find a way to murder
"You've had an extended period of 'normalcy' thanks to your daughter, so
hopefully your psyche has healed in some ways, and your self-image has
adjusted to match your current form," Reyes waved a hand up and down as if to
take in Gimble's human body. "This will help a great deal if it is the
case. But, I warn you, you likely have a great deal of buried trauma, and
we're going to have to un-bury it before you can properly deal with it. This
is the sort of thing I'd prefer to take slowly, over the course of many
years, but..." he trailed off.
"But Marx needs me functional as soon as possible," Gimble smiled
wryly. "Or he needs to know for sure I'll never be of any use."
"Harsh, but true," Reyes admitted. "And, as such, and because of
certain exigencies I am not permitted to reveal, I am going to be...skirting
the edge of professional ethics in our sessions. If not crossing several
"If it means I never have to be a humanoid dung beetle again, I'll risk
it," Gimble snarled. "Let's do this."
"Very well," Reyes sat back in his chair. "Let's start with the obvious
place...the first time you transformed. I doubt the proximal trigger was the
true cause of your problems, but it's as good a place as any to start."
"It was the Fourth of July," Gimble started....
* * * *
[July 4, 2013 - Utica, New York Sector]
Macy was in the garage. The Pattersons were her third foster family
this year alone, and while they seemed nice enough, Macy was getting tired of
being bounced around the system. People got tired of having their foster
daughter wake up screaming in the middle of the night four or five times a
week, she guessed.
Macy could hear distant popping sounds, which made her uneasy. A lot of
people in America still celebrated the old Independence Day, even though
America had been made merely a part of the Combine years ago. And even
though July Sixth was a day most people didn't want to celebrate at ALL.
This year was the fifteenth anniversary of That Day, so a lot of official
July Fourth celebrations had been cancelled.
Macy wasn't sure what That Day really was, though. No one wanted to
talk about it, all she'd gathered was that a lot of people died and all the
heroes went away.
Macy was only thirteen and she could have told you there were no heroes
left in the world. She'd known that her entire life. If heroes existed,
then she might not be with the Pattersons. Or the Ortegas before them. Or
the Jacksons, the Prescotts...et cetera, et cetera.
Macy turned her attention back to the small electric motor in her
hands. It had belonged to a lawnmower, the chassis of which was stuck in a
corner of the garage where it slowly fell apart. In the few months she'd
lived with the Pattersons, all the lawn work had been done by a service
anyway. Her "brother" Billy certainly never did any yard work. He just hung
around with his stupid friends. Right now he was probably setting off
illegal fireworks with them, accounting for the popping.
Macy had found she had a knack for mechanical things, which was one of
the reasons she'd been placed with the Pattersons this time. Utica was
apparently a pretty good town for education, and she was going to get into
some sort of magnet school for pre-engineering once the summer was over.
Macy frowned as the popping got louder, closer. The sound nagged at her
memory, but she forced it aside and concentrated on the motor, tracing the
wiring and connections and trying to figure out what was wrong with it.
Maybe she'd use it to make something that would kick Billy's butt for him.
An automated butt-kicking machine. She smiled a little at the idea.
Macy heard a faint creak and looked up just in time to see a hand reach
through the slightly ajar garage door and toss in a firecracker. "Think
fast, Messy!" she heard Billy's voice cackle.
Macy REMEMBERED. Images she'd kept hidden from herself for years,
twisted by the passage of time, tied to that sound. They came flooding back,
and it actually HURT. She hadn't thought sadness could actually feel like
pain, but it DID! She probably screamed, she certainly felt like she
Macy's vision blurred, separating into hundreds of facets for a moment
before reassembling. She felt numb, somehow, and the clatter of the motor as
it fell from her hands was strangely loud.
Macy saw Billy stick his laughing, stupid face in through the door.
Then she saw his mocking expression turn to horror. "BUG MONSTER!" he
shouted, vanishing from sight as he ran screaming.
Macy whirled around in alarm, mentally chiding herself for probably
falling for another stupid prank. Nothing was behind her except the usual
clutter. Wait...she could still see the front of the garage even while
facing the back?
Macy finally noticed her hands. The blackness on them was not grease,
it was a hard chitinous shell. Her arms were spindly and covered in fine
spiky hairs, and her shirt was straining against the new and utterly inhuman
shape of her torso.
Macy Graves fled into the dusk and was never seen again.
Several days later, however, Gimble arrived in Manhattan....
* * * *
[May 16, 2026 - Detroit, Michigan Sector]
Macy was shivering, her knees pulled up to her chest.
Doctor Reyes let the silence go on for several long minutes, before
finally asking, "What was it you remembered? What was the firecracker the
trigger for? Can you remember that for me now?"
* * * *
[June 22, 2026 - Manhattan, Autonomous Sector]
Another day, another secure meeting room. -+We're certainly spending a
lot of time in this sort of place lately,+- Paul observed wryly. -+And each
one more heavily secured than the last...the anti-psi shielding here is
better than in Washington.+-
"A point of pride," Gene Clark smirked. "Maybe not stronger, per se,
but more precise, and it doesn't give me a headache. Not that the CSA goons
care if they give telepaths a headache," she sniffed. As the Director of
MetaPsych, she got enough headaches without inducing more artificially via
psi heterodynes. Where most barriers to telepathy simply broadcast a white
noise at the range of frequencies used by the human mind, the ones in
MetaPsych installations were more like curtains than smokescreens. Of
course, it took super-science to pull that trick off, unlike the normaltech
heterodyne fields, but it was worth the extra investment in resources.
"I don't think they care about giving normal people headaches either,"
Aaron shrugged. "Anyway, now that we've got the fields up, here's what I
know that falls under your clearance," he flashed a bundle of information
"You're getting pretty good at compression," Gene nodded, as she skimmed
the surface and started to pick apart the dense ball of data. It was a trick
that really only worked with other telepaths and a few rare people with the
right sort of mental discipline, but it saved a lot of time. The actual
digestion of the information still took place at normal speeds, but if you
had limited "face time" it allowed for making the best use of that time.
"So. I have my suspicions, and the core point is that I think Jessa
Dumont's the key to whatever Marx's plans were, regardless of whether this
was a suicide or just an ongoing plot that got interrupted by an inconvenient
murder. There's no way she's still mindblind," Aaron frowned. She had
supposedly burned out her talent entirely in the act of sealing her sister
away in Cockatrice's body [CSV #21 - Ed.], and had never admitted to having
regained it, but no one at MetaPsych seriously believed she was still without
"And your little talk with Doctor Detroit was the key to your
realization?" she smirked. TwenCen entertainment was popular at MetaPsych's
Manhattan branch, and she quickly flashed a series of impressions into
Aaron's mind to explain the joke.
"Exactly," Aaron nodded. "Marx had plans for Jessa, and regardless of
whether she was able to carry them out, she's got to know enough about this
situation to be worth tracking down. This goes beyond a murder investigation
now, it could have serious global...even interstellar...ramifications if
things went the way they could have."
"And if the plans went totally south, there's still a good likelihood
that Jessa knows quite a bit about Marx's business dealings that even
Mr. Whitman doesn't. Andrea scanned Whitman while you were gone, with his
permission," she noted, referring to Andrea Roguelin, an empath who often
worked with the NYPD. "Unless he's a lot better at concealing his thoughts
and emotions than we think, he's utterly clean. Marx kept him out of the
loop on the shadier stuff, apparently setting him up to take over just the
legit business side without having to worry about any legal liabilities."
"And the Pope was a dead end, productive as it may have been," Aaron
countered. "He really didn't know anyone else we didn't already have on the
list of possible suspects, and prior to Rebus's attempted elimination of all
Anchors he wasn't even that high up in the old Conclave's power structure.
He just ended up the equivalent of Assitant Director Callahan." Callahan had
been the highest-ranking surviving member of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency in 1998, and despite a marked lack of charisma or imagination he had
been the "father" of the North American Combine, using FEMA's resources and
"hidden" governmental powers to re-establish a stable government within weeks
of the disaster of July 6, 1998. Like Callahan, Cardinal Stagliano hadn't
been particularly big in the Conclave, he was simply the biggest fish they
had left once Rebus was done.
"Are you sure you need to do this, though?" Gene asked, genuine concern
in her voice. "There's other ways to find Jessa. You don't need to use the
Aaron shook his head. "She's already had enough time to get offworld if
that was part of the plan, in which case the Hlidskjalf is the only tool we
have left with even the ghost of a chance," he referred to Odin's "high
throne" at the top of one of the Trade Towers. Peregryn had used it a few
times, but every attempt by telepaths from MetaPsych to make use of it had
ended in fatality, or near enough. Everyone thought MetaPsych had free
access to it, so the failures were one of the organization's more closely-
"You could at least get Peregryn to come to Earth and do it for you,"
Aaron shook his head. "Much as I personally trust Howard's discretion,
he's not cleared to know about some of this material. In fact, I was
specifically directed by the Director of the CSA to *not* suggest he look
into the matter unless there was absolutely no alternative. Never mind that
he probably already knows most of it anyway. No, it's pretty much going to
have to be me...or you, I suppose, since you have the clearance. But don't
even suggest it. From all reports, the Hlidskjalf overloads telepaths, and
your barriers aren't as strong as mine, especially since I've got Paul to
watch my metaphorical back."
"I know. I wrote most of those reports. I've seen with my own eyes,
felt with my own mind, what happened to those poor bastards who volunteered
to sit in Odin's throne," Gene looked away, tears forming at the corners of
her eyes. "Can it at least wait until morning? I know it's selfish of me,
Aaron stepped closer and took Gene's slender body in his arms. "It's
okay. You can be selfish tonight."
What will Gimble remember, and will it help make her whole or simply
shatter her to pieces? Will Contact be able to use the Hlidskjalf without
frying his mind? Who will survive to see the end of ASH #92, Kheper's Path
IV: Newborn Dawn?
No link to the comic "Crossing Midnight" is intended or implied, I've
never even read it. :)
The Hooks scene was originally going to reference the "Send him
to...DETROIT!" scene from Kentucky Fried Movie, but I used that for the cover
of The Reverse Engineers #2, so I changed things here.
Speaking of changed plans, Gimble's Big Trauma was originally going to
be revealed in this issue, but between the growing length of #91 and a
realization that #92 would be stronger if I didn't spread out the climaxes, I
decided to move the scene.
Because I am a geek, I looked up the status of the Moon for the June 18
scene. In 2026, the New Moon is June 15, so the depiction on the cover is at
least correct for the time of year, even if the scene on June 18 didn't take
place at night.
Finally, if you're wondering if you missed something important off-
screen regarding the Aaron/Gene relationship, you'll just have to wait and
see. :) Not all cliffhangers involve horrible fates....
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and more, go to http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH !
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