[SG] Crazy Guy #30.1: Vigil

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at eyrie.org
Sun Apr 26 17:50:23 PDT 2009

     [WARNING: This story picks up on elements revealed in the Ballad of
Richard Less.  If you haven't read that yet, you should probably do so.  It
starts at http://lists.eyrie.org/pipermail/superguy/2009-April/000199.html ]

     Sister Sara Lopez, a nun with a gun, stalked out of the office of
detective Hans Kartoffelkopf almost literally trailing smoke from her ears.
It was fairly warm for February, even for San Francisco, but she still felt a
chill deep in her soul.
     Jack, her friend.  Jack, the weird guy whose lips moved in Cantonese but
who spoke in stilted English.  Jack, who had helped her defend a monastery
from demonic assault.  [Crazy Guy #14-16.  By the way, this episode largely
takes place between the second-to-last and last scenes of Crazy Guy #30.
Just so you know. - Ed.]
     Jack worked for Satan T. Lucifer Jones.
     And she couldn't even ask him why he did it, whether he'd been evil all
along or just another innocent (or nearly innocent, anyway) ensnared by the
honeyed tongue of the Adversary.  Because Jack was off on a job, not
answering his cellphone, and generally incommunicado even to those who he'd
trusted with the truth, like Kartoffelkopf.
     Sara slumped down behind the wheel of her car and turned on the radio to
try to drown out her thoughts.  She'd figured a 1989 Escort was cheap enough
to fit in with her vow of poverty, and you just did not work around southern
California without a car.  A colleague had jokingly called it Mule, and after
explaining the reference, the name had stuck.
     "Ah, Valentine's Day ads, just the thing to get me angry at someone
else," she sighed, switching stations again with a stab at one of the preset
buttons.  "Didn't like those even before I left that particular playing field
for good."  She'd randomly punched up a news station, and some commentator
was going on about events up in Canada.  Someone had apparently invaded it or
tried to take it over, which struck Sara as implausible.  Even if Task Force
Aurora wasn't around to deal with that sort of thing, invading Canada would
require going to Canada, and who wanted to do that?  [Yes, this is a
cross-title running gag, live with it. - Ed.]
     1997 was not turning into the best year of Sara's life, that was for

Coherent Comics UnInc. Presents:   ___  __   __ ___ _  _   ___   _  _ _  _
        CRAZY GUY #30.1           /   '/  | / |  /   \/   /   ' /   /  \/
             Vigil               /    /--' /--| /    /   /  __ /   /   /
copyright 2009 Dave Van Domelen `___ /  | /   |/__ _/    `__/  \__/  _/

[June 21, 1997]

     "This year really sucks," Sara muttered as she approached yet another
checkpoint and adjusted her wimple.  It was too hot for the thing, but since
the American Authority wasn't overtly cracking down on religious orders,
being in full "penguin suit" tended to get her treated better.  Which made it
easier to do God's Work, especially when that work didn't exactly coincide
with what the American Authority wanted done.
     "ID please?" the officer asked as he walked over to Mule.  "Oh, Sara!  I
didn't know you were still around," he added as he recognized her.
     Great.  On the plus side, she'd gotten along pretty well with the guy
when she was still a cop, even if she couldn't remember his name.  On the
minus side, now someone who would remember HER name could place her in town
today.  That meant her covert mission was scrubbed, and she was wearing the
wimple for no reason.  Well, at least it'd still be useful for her overt
cover mission.
     "Hey.  Well, everyone's gotta be somewhere, no?" she smiled.  "And the
Lord's Work needs doing in San Francisco as much now as ever."
     "No kidding," the officer muttered.  At least he wasn't one of the
people turned into soldiers by Psybernet of the Unimaginable League Amoral,
although he could probably be "switched on" if Psybernet decided she needed
more forces in the area.  Sara wasn't really that clear on how the whole
thing worked, which was probably just how Psybernet liked it.  "Bringing
anything in?"
     Sara shook her head.  "Just myself, my possessions, and a few things I'm
holding onto for a friend," she jerked her thumb to the bundles in the back
seat, which included a bedroll with an autographed picture of Eddie Munster.
"We got...separated," she explained.
     The officer nodded in sad agreement.  A lot of people had gotten
separated in the chaos of recent months, although he probably thought she
meant that the owner of the bedroll had been "drafted" into Psybernet's army.
     Sadly, Jack was in a much darker army, and she still had no idea where
he'd gone.

               *              *              *              *

[September 14, 1997 - Northern California]

     The Order had taught Sara Lopez a great deal, about herself and her
place in the world.  It had given her a capital-P Purpose in life, and it
also gave her the occasional small-j job to do.  God's Work.  But the Order
was pretty much what it looked like from the outside...a religious
organization devoted to charity and good works.  But one with a long enough
history to know that when God sent them someone like Sara, it would be
foolish to not use her.
     The police department had taught Sara Lopez quite a bit that the Order
found useful.  How to use a gun.  How to move through hostile territory
without getting a gun used on you.  And an old boyfriend on the bomb squad
had taught her a few things as well.
     All in all, God had certainly made sure that Sara Lopez had the right
tools and the right motivation for the path he'd set her on.
     And one of Psybernet's telepathic "repeater towers" fell after an almost
insignificant detonation in just the right spot destroyed its structural
integrity.  People dragooned into the army of the American Authority for a
hundred miles around woke up as if from a dreamless sleep.
     Sister Sara returned to Mule and checked the bedroll in the back seat.
Still there.  Still reminding her that after this war on a mighty evil was
over, there was one other soul yet to save.

               *              *              *              *

[January 5, 1998 - San Francisco]

     "God bless and keep you all, and may God continue to bless and keep the
United States of America," President Clinton said.  It was a rerun, probably
the tenth since the speech had gone out live earlier in the day, but no one
in the shelter had made a sound until the President's recorded image finished
what most of them had already memorized.
     The cheering and applause that followed, while probably a little
diminished compared to the first time, was no less heartfelt. 
     "So, sister, you gonna be sticking around for a while now that the war's
over?" one of the volunteers said as he helped rearrange the cots for the
night.  They were expecting to help absorb some of the freed ALU soldiers
soon, not everyone would be able to go straight home now that Psybernet had
released her hold on them.
     "The war's not over, Chet," she sighed.  "The war here, yeah.  But the
other side of the planet is still under the thumb of Lady Awe-Inspiring.
I'll probably stay here long enough to help get things running, but I expect
God has other work for me to do.  Missionary work, if you catch my meaning."
     "Hey, anyone using this?" someone across the room shouted, holding up a
     "Put that down, it's claimed," Sara called back, snarling a bit more
than she'd intended to.  The person holding the bedroll dropped it as if
suddenly realizing it contained a snake.
     She sighed.  "Sorry about that," she said, just loudly enough to be
heard.  "It's been a long year."

               *              *              *              *

[April 2, 1998 - Seattle, WA]

     "Welcome to Mongolian Food Yurt, home of a Hell of a Meal (TM)!" the
pimply teenager greeted Sister Sara, a fake smile plastered across his face.
And not even a very good fake smile.  "May I take your order?"
     "I'd like to speak with your manager," she snarled.  She'd never really
liked Seattle, and the Genocidal War hadn't improved it.  The Mongolian Food
Yurt chain, well-known in the right circles as a front operation for
666NASTYNASTYNASTY, had been shut down during the war, although so many other
chains collapsed during that year that it hadn't really been notable.  But
this Seattle branch had been the first to re-open, and short of getting the
Order's permission to go to Hong Kong (which didn't seem likely to happen
yet) and look for anyone there who might know Jack, it was the only lead she
had.  [Sara doesn't know that Jack's not even from 000SUPERGUY, and presumes
he's from her version of Hong Kong - Ed.]
     The counter drone looked more confused than he probably normally did.
"Um, why?  I haven't even screwed up your order yet."
     Sara ignored the implication.  "I need to get a message through to your
manager's bosses, actually.  Your 800 number is still out of order, not that
anyone other than a bona fide saint would have the patience to wade through
your voice mail menu."  In fact, customer service ratings of a number of
businesses had gone up during the disruptions caused by the war, if only
because customer service systems couldn't make problems WORSE anymore.
     "Um, I'm not sure I'm allowed...ulp!"
     The last exclamation was the result of Sister Sara whipping out a ruler
and hovering it just over his knuckles.  She'd never intended to go into the
Order's educational arm, but "ruler fu" was part of the basic initiate
     "What was that, YOUNG MAN?" she asked, suddenly looking much older and
far less attractive...at least as far as the teenager was concerned.

     Twenty minutes later, Sara had sent her message, and a promise that
she'd be contacted as soon as there was news.  Not that she trusted that
promise, but at least she had her foot in the door.
     Not that many nuns ever got their feet in the doorway of Hell....

               *              *              *              *

[May 1, 1999 - San Francisco]

     Sister Sara killed the ignition on Mule and stepped out, grabbing Jack's
bedroll from the passenger seat.  She'd been doing this for a week now, and
she no longer even got funny looks when she set the bedroll and a few other
things on the stoop of the building where Jack had lived before leaving on
his last job for Hell.
     "Casting a spell, or just saying a prayer?" a lilting Irish voice mocked
from behind.
     Sara whirled about, her gun practically growing from her hand.
     "Well?" Mairi Wynn, aka Ben Sidhe, cocked an eyebrow as she ignored the
revolver pointed at her face.  She had the look of someone who'd had a lot of
guns pointed at her face, and no longer saw it as anything out of the
ordinary.  In fact, given her line of work, it was probably a common form of
     "What are you doing here?" Sister Sara demanded.
     "Same's you, Oi expect," Mairi nodded at the bedroll.  "Waitin' for
Jack.  I paid a few people to watch this place and let me know if'n he ever
came back.  Not a lot of money, mind ye, but people buy cheap.  And some of
'em even show a l'il initiative."
     Sara holstered the gun.  "Probably some of the same people I tried to
guilt into giving me information.  No one's seen him."
     "Then why're ye spendin' ev'ry day here, sister?"
     Sara motioned for Mairi to follow her into the shade, where they'd be a
little less glaringly conspicuous.  "I got a call from his...employers...a
few weeks ago, saying that he was expected back soon.  But that it all
depended on whether he had kept all his receipts, whatever that means."

               *              *              *              *

[May 3, 1999 - San Francisco]

     Jack stared dumbly at his bedroll, which he had just picked up off the
     "You've been evicted," Louie smacked him in the ear with a forepaw.
"Filthy rich, and you're evicted."
     "How?  I paid the rent in advance before leaving for Mars," Jack looked
about in bewilderment.
     "The landlady didn't appreciate people breaking in all hours of the
night and trying to kill you," snarled a voice from the shadows.  A slender
hispanic woman stepped into the light.  "I've been keeping an eye on your
     "Oh, hi, Sister Sara!" Jack beamed.  "Thanks!"
     "Ah, Jack?" Louie crept back a bit.  "Dat's not a 'welcome home, I
missed you' look on her face...."
     "Huh?" Jack paused.
     "Why didn't you tell me you work for Satan?" Sara said, cocking back the
hammer on her revolver.
     There was a pause.
     "Is dat a trick question?" Louie finally broke the silence.
     "Louie has a point," Jack nodded.  "You don't strike me as the sort of
person who would want to hear that sort of thing coming from an ally.  The
gun pointed at my head is a bit of a giveaway."
     "Okay, then.  Why ARE you working for Satan?  You're not evil...not yet,
anyway.  And you don't strike me as the sort of person who would want to work
for Jonesy, while we're comparing shattered expectations," Sarah snarled.
     "Well, it all started when I was left for dead in an alleyway...."
     [This section is already cut and pasted from Exarchs #27.  Just go read
Crazy Guy #11-12 for the flashback already. - Ed.]
     "...and here I am.  Stuck in a contract with the Devil.  And while the
jobs so far have not been directly objectionable...indeed, some have resulted
in what seems to be good, it is clear to me that my boss has long term plans
that involve me and are very evil," Jack finished.
     "Typical deal with the devil," Sarah nodded, lowering the revolver
somewhat.  Jack did not relax, however, given where it now pointed.  "Start
out innocently enough, then slowly corrupt you until you're a willing
participant in all of his most depraved schemes.  How could you be so naive?"
     "Hey, he's not part of MY religion, how was I to know that?  Would you
know what to do if an Infernal Programming Director offered you a prime
Timeslot or even the immortality of Syndication?  Would you check the
contracts for Residuals?  Would you know to reserve the right to break the
contract in the event of a change in Airdates?  I think I did pretty well,
all things considered," Jack rejoined.
     Sarah finally put away the gun.  "Fine.  But I *am* an expert in *this*
religion, and I can tell you this: if you don't get out of that contract
soon, you won't want to.  And then you'll be facing me, or someone like me,
and the gun won't be put away until it's empty."
     "I can't just break my contract, though.  That would be wrong," Jack
pointed out.
     "Not ta mention substantial penalties fer early withdraw'l," Louie
     "Look, Jack," Sarah put a firm hand on his shoulder.  Even though he was
several inches taller than she, he felt like she was towering over him.  "You
can't keep going, hoping that something will turn up and save you from evil.
You have to do something about it yourself, make an effort to reject it, or
it will cling to you like the stench of old socks.  If you can't bring
yourself to break the contract, you'll need to find a loophole."
     "I've given my contract to several mystically-inclined friends," Jack
nodded.  "They hadn't found a loophole yet when I left.  But they are good
people, they will keep trying."
     Sarah raised an eyebrow.  "Maybe that's your problem, Jack.  You're too
good a person to break a contract, and maybe your friends are too.  You need
to find a BAD person, the kind who sees the loopholes plain as day but has
difficulty seeing the contract itself."
     "Hmmm," Jack hmmm'ed.  "I think I know just the man...."
     "By the way," Mairi smirked, having somehow melted out of the shadows
without drawing attention to herself while Sara had been talking.  "What HAVE
you been up to for the past two years or so?"
     "Um, what?" Jack and Louie chorused.
     "As in, you went haring off on some mission way back in early 1997, now
it's the middle of 1999...must've been some job," Sara clarified.
     Jack and Louie boggled for a moment.  
     "I guess it didn't just FEEL like it took forever to fill out that
paperwork in Inhuman Resources," Jack finally said.  "I guess that explains
why I was evicted, anyway."
     "Oh, no...your landlady tossed your stuff years ago," Sara prodded the
bedroll.  "I've just been lugging it around for two years.  Come on, we'll
give you the highlights you missed.  In a lot of ways, you were lucky to be
stuck filling out paperwork in Hell for two and a half years...."




     Some of these questions will be answered, maybe, in the next...


Author's Notes:

     Initially, I hadn't even thought about how Eric Burns-White's "Genocidal
War" mentioned in The League might affect Crazy Guy's continuity.  Sure, I
was one of the few active Authors during that timeframe, but the closest I
got to Eric's writing was some "maybe someday" thoughts of having Crazy Guy
meet Memorex back when ALU was in its final issues.  So I didn't really
think about how there might be entanglement.  
     But as I read The Ballad of Richard Less and saw just how far things
went with it, I started to look back at whether it was even possible to fit
around it.  After all, I was still writing Crazy Guy in 1999 as if nothing
had happened, but pretty much the entirety of 1997 was lost to the Genocidal
War.  The "Year When The Villains Won" that had been proposed at one point
but never picked up on as a mega-event a decade or so ago.
     Sure, I could go the LNH route and ignore it.  What continuity?  My
characters bitched about timelines and the like all the time.  But given that
I'd done some tie-ins to The League in New Exarchs, I didn't really feel that
approach was appropriate.  Not without making some sort of effort to paper
over the worst cracks, anyway.
     Fortunately, while I did datestamp everything I wrote in Exarchs and New
Exarchs, I hadn't picked up the habit yet in Crazy Guy.  So I could plausibly
deny that the stuff written in 1999 actually happened in 1999...and any
"topical references" (as they say in the Official Marvel Index books) could
be swept under the rug.  That just left the issue of dealing with the one
scene I *had* nailed down, which has now been included in some form or
another in three episodes (Crazy Guy #30, Exarchs #27, and this episode right
     There's still some Exarchs stuff involving Kat that may be a little
wobbly as Chris Meadows retrenches his Team M.E.C.H.A. continuity, but very
little of that actually got posted, and I left the Exarchs side deliberately
open and vague (although I did write several scenes for Chris which may or
may not ever see light).
     Meanwhile, once I get ASH #100 written, I figure I'll take another stab
at wrapping up my Flash Gordon pastiche in New Exarchs, long after the show
it was lampooning got cancelled....

     Oh, and the "mule" reference in the first scene is to "Two Mules for
Sister Sara," Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine, 1970.  

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