ASH: ASH #100 - Starslayers: Epilogue and Notes

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Thu Aug 6 12:13:47 PDT 2009


     The splash page shows the Green Knight seated on a boulder,
contemplating a tarnished Roman helmet that he holds in one hand.  The
lighting is slightly orange from one side, and white from the other, as if
caught between a sunset and a late dawn.

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
  //======================= '|`        ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES #100
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||            Rising Sun Part 4 - Starslayers
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2009 by Dave Van Domelen

[July 31, 2026 - Lower Ghat, Khadam]

     It had been an interesting morning to be watching the sky, which meant
it had been a profitable morning to be a pickpocket, but now the show seemed
to be over.  The dimmer second Sun that had replaced the giant orange Sun was
now gone entirely, and the chill of the night was belatedly burning off in
the unruly slums of the Lower City.
     "Gamal, don't let that snake-owl rip you off too badly this time," Ahmed
warned, his small "gang" gathered about him to pool the morning's windfall.
Like most assortments of orphans and abandoned children in the Lower City,
they were mostly a mix of Berber and German bastardry, with a few other
backgrounds scattered through the gene pool thanks to Khadam's nature as a
haven for drifters and criminals.  "Those spare Tsaran power cells are worth
a lot, even after he wipes the serials.  Play this right and we get to eat
pretty well for the next week or two."  Gamal was the best haggler the
child-gang had, but that didn't mean he could do more than avoid being
totally stolen from by a Pranir.
     "The rest of you, get into begging positions.  The greens'll probably
roust a couple of us once the pickpocketing gets reported, remember to run if
they look loaded for culling," he warned, "but otherwise just let 'em search
you.  If you make 'em work for the pickpocketing thing, they might decide to
cull you anyway."  The so-called Green Citadellians were a combination of
police force and street-sweepers, culling the homeless and friendless to fill
the laboratories that in turn filled the Vivarium with chimaerical
     "Ahmed, there's a big dog looking at you," one of the other children
pointed, quavering a little.
     Ahmed turned and noticed a jackal regarding him with a disturbingly
intelligent look.  "It's a jackal, not a dog.  G'wan, everyone, she doesn't
look hungry, but I'll keep her here just in case she decides to run one of
you down for a snack."
     The children scattered, not questioning the order.  Ahmed was larger
than any of them, already too big to do well as a beggar or even a
pickpocket, but big enough to help them fight off the adult criminals in a
pinch.  Even those that felt genuine loyalty towards him felt no pangs of
conscience at leaving him to deal with the worst, they'd find out
how jackal meat tasted at dinner that night.
     "I am the Bluthundin, young prince, and we need to talk," the jackal
said, in the slightly German-accented English that was in standard use in
Khadam.  It came out sounding a bit odd, since her mouth wasn't really built
for human speech, although it clearly must have been REbuilt at some point to
even make words possible.
     "You don't look like any bloodhound I've seen pictures of," Ahmed
frowned, drawing a barking laugh from Bluthundin.
     "You're talking to a genetically uplifted jackal, and the only thing
that bothers you is whether my name is appropriate?" she smiled, a rather
toothy expression on her muzzle.
     Ahmed shrugged.  "The Vivarium is a half-hour's walk that way," he
gestured over his shoulder.  "I've picked the pockets of stranger stuff than
     "True enough," the jackal nodded.  "But come, there are things I must
tell you that are not for just any ears, and this is no place for that
discussion," she turned and loped west, towards the edge of the Lower City.
     Ahmed paused to rearrange a few rocks in a secret signal to his gang, a
low-tech form of messaging that the high-tech society of even the slums
tended to ignore, then followed.  "Prince, eh?" he mused quietly as he jogged
after the jackal.

               *              *              *              *

[Falcon Bay, Venus]

     "So, what's the news?" Solar Max asked.  Peregryn looked as wiped out as
JakZak felt.  "Good or bad?"
     "Yes," Peregryn deadpanned, although it was generally hard to tell if
the mage was trying to be funny.  "The great workings we performed masked
much of the events around them, and I cannot locate the shadowy demon form or
any members of the Light Brigade, but I have been able to determine that at
least some of them still live, and still exist in this plane."
     "Hopefully that means none of them got what they wanted," Meteor noted.
Every so often, she'd jump a little at the sound of her own voice, as if she
still expected to hear the tenor of Johnny Angel.  "As opposed to this being
just a short lull before they announce their godhood or something."
     Peregryn shook his head.  "If either faction retained a significant
fraction of the stolen power, I would have been able to tell.  It is simply
too much to hide, even in the shadows.  Unfortunately, I also cannot sense
Phaeton at all, nor can Inanna," he cast a glance down at the stone under his
feet.  Despite the power of the Leviathan that she had absorbed, the planet's
spirit was still far from a true god, and the proximity of Phaeton had
terrified her.
     "Keep in mind, last time we had someone grab godlike power, they got
sucked into the power games of the gods pretty quickly," Scorch pointed out,
referring to the apotheosis of Rebus.  "Phaeton may simply have had no reason
to stick around once he had dinner."
     "That would be the optimistic answer," Peregryn nodded.  "The Barrier is
weakened, but hardly gone, though, and if I were a god looking to improve his
power base, I'd want to take advantage of it as long as possible to shield my
activities from the eyes of my competitors.  But it's entirely possible that
I have a better tactical mind than Phaeton does...Prometheus aside, the
Titans were not noted for forethought."
     "And I take it that one of the pessimistic answers is that someone on
the other side of the Barrier noticed all of this and ganked Phaeton?"
Lightfoot sighed.  "Meaning someone worse than Phaeton might now have their
eye on the newly-reopened Soul Supermarket."

               *              *              *              *

[Mount Olympus, Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     Q'Nos watched the sunset, the orange tinge echoing memories of the past
few days.  One Sun, one sunset...and one ruler of the land over which the Sun
was setting.
     "For something that almost destroyed the world, I'd have to say this all
worked out quite well for me," Q'Nos mused aloud.
     "Oh?" Simon Smith replied.  "The world not being destroyed is certainly
a positive, of course," he grinned.
     "Yes, and I also didn't lose my trusted second to whatever the new Light
Brigade had planned," Q'Nos nodded his massively-horned head.  "Even you
placed the chances of their ritual binding your spirit at one in ten."
     "Well, that was the pessimistic estimate, mind you," Smith shrugged.
"Assuming they even knew that their Doublecross was just a photonic golem,
and went after the original.  The chances of my soul being ensnared in any
other plot were negligible, and as I told you earlier, I doubt they even
realized their version was soulless.  Of course, I'd just as soon not have
another Doublecross running around in any'd be like having your
younger self from college slouching about writing bad poetry and smoking
clove cigarettes.  Or whatever embarrassing things your generation did as
young adults."
     "Oh, there was much bad poetry involved, yes," Q'Nos chuckled.  "Man or
god, ten thousand years in the past or a thousand in the future, something
about the cusp of manhood inspires truly awful verse.  But, beyond being
spared such a spectacle, we're also rid of Phaeton while still able to
benefit from the public relations coup of having saved my people from the
darkness, if only as a stopgap until someone else fixed the overall
problem.  And I have our spin doctors working on grabbing some of that credit
for us as well...Phaeton nobly sacrificing himself to help stop the fiendish
photonics, that sort of thing."
     "Yes, I can certainly see how that works in our favor, assuming Phaeton
is truly gone," Simon's brow furrowed.
     Q'Nos shrugged.  "I may have fallen far from my former glory, but the
death of a god is fairly unmistakable if you know what to look for.  I do not
know who did it, because it was certainly not the mortals arrayed against him
in space, but he's really quite sincerely dead.  Oh, I suppose he could have
faked his death, but that would require the sort of power that he no longer
had, even with the boost from his stolen energies.  I haven't decided whether
to publicly confirm his death, may suit our long-term plans
better to let the world think he could return at a later date."
     "Either as a potential threat, or a potential savior, yes," Simon
nodded.  "Definitely a point to defer to our PR people, though.  Keep it very
hypothetical, perhaps, imply that you or I am looking into the matter, so
that even the PR flacks don't know the truth.  Meanwhile, I should see what I
can do to figure out who did the deed...I've been having some troubling
dreams of late that I thought were simply tied into the solar crisis, but
some of the omens of dying suns could also be applied to Phaeton himself...." 

               *              *              *              *

[August 2, 2026 - Undisclosed location on the Mediterranean coast]

     "So, Icarus returns," Anhydra mocked as Chiaroscuro limped into the
comfortable den in one of the Impossible Five's hidden bases.
     "Does that make us brothers, if he is Icarus?" Talos said, earning a
glower from Chiaroscuro.  "Because Icarus was the son of Daedalus, and the
original Talos the creation of Daedalus.  Of course, Chiaroscuro is also the
heir to Doublecross, and the man who would...."
     "Talos," Chiaroscuro sighed as he slumped into a couch and partially
lay down, "what have we been telling you about wit?  That brevity is the soul
of it?"
     "And I should not try to explain my jokes," Talos frowned, looking and
sounding like a child berating himself for being stupid.  A towering child
made of bronze, but a child nonetheless.
     "Ribbing aside, we were starting to get a little worried about you,"
Anhydra admitted, a sentiment totally at odds with the "creepy undead lady"
persona she cultivated in public.  "Getting between a god and his dinner is
never healthy.  You okay?" she rasped.  The dryness in her voice, at least,
was not faked for public consumption, it was real.
     "Define okay," Chiaroscuro lay back and put an arm over his eyes.  "Near
as I can tell, I'm back to about where I was before I took that shadow mage's
power, or I will be once I have a chance to rest up from flying a few hundred
MILLION kilometers.  Instead of adding the solar power to my enhanced shadow
power, it looks like the two just cancelled out.  Just as well, I think the
shadow power was probably infested with demonic crap."
     "Literal infernal faeces?" Talos asked.
     "I think he means it was Kid Ebon territory," Anhydra smirked.  "Crap in
the generic 'unpleasant things' sense."
     "Oh," Talos replied.  "That would be bad too.  Kid Ebon's downfall was
rather...spectacular...when his demons turned on him.  I would not have
wanted to be on the same continent as you had the same fate befallen you,
     "I know *I* wouldn't have," Chiaroscuro sighed.   
     "Moral of the story, Chi: Never knows what she's doing.  Take it slow
and steady, don't try to grab for the brass ring, since it's probably
     "Yeah, yeah," the mage sighed.  " think I should try to
co-opt my 'little brother' sooner, or later...?"

               *              *              *              *

[August 6, 2026 - Mexico City]

     "Ooh, drawings from Julie?" Arin said as she hung up her wide-brimmed
sun hat at the entrance of the 'penthouse' suite she and Sal shared in the
ASH HQ.  "She decide you need an image update?"
     "Actually, I asked her for some ideas," Sal admitted, patting one of the
pencil sketches spread out over the living room table.  "I know it wasn't
real what we did in the pocket dimension...really real, anyway...but I think
Centurion's stayed dead too long.  It's time someone stepped up to the plate
with his name again, especially with how Walters is dragging so many of his
contemporaries through the mud."
     Arin arched an eyebrow.  Her beef with the new Freedom Alliance was very
personal, since the new Gauntlet was the man who abused and raped her over
the course of several weeks.  But Sal's dislike of Sam Walters's group had
been turned up a notch or three since they'd spent over a subjective year in
the boots of the original team.
     "Well, okay," Sal admitted, "as far as the public is concerned there's
been no mud-dragging yet.  But you and I both know it's inevitable, given the
motivations and histories of the people involved."
     "True.  I mean, I believe in redemption as much as anyone, but when your
whole team is at risk of some sort of backsliding, it's like a bunch of
drunks teaming up to drive each other home," Arin's mood darkened.
"Actually, I'm kinda surprised they didn't buy the Centurion identity for
their robot."
     "Turns out you need the permission of the surviving Calvanos," Sal said,
almost absently as he considered one of the sketches.  "Which I got
yesterday.  They sounded glad to have someone not affilitated with the new
Freedom Alliance offering to take up the mantle."
     Arin sat down and picked up another of the sketches.  "Oh?  I thought
the government owned all the unused 'superhero' intellectual property, since
the IP reforms of...2012, right?  Been a while since my last history class,"
she smirked.
     "Well, yes and no," Sal looked up.  "And it was 2011.  But that's
probably how they got the Red Widow property, true.  Gauntlet was created by
the government, so it's always been theirs to license out.  The original
Brightsword signed up with the DSHA program as soon as it was in place, even
though he'd been retired a while, since he was that sort of guy.  I think the
original Weapons Master signed up too, he was still active in the 80s and
90s, but usually not in costume.  But it turns out the Centurion name was the
basis of some case law.  When the original Strafe got his powers changed and
took on the name Centurion, he didn't know about the original, but the
Calvano family had been careful to retain rights due to a few failed attempts
at a movie in the 1960s.  And the old United States Constitution was a little
pickier about things like ex post facto laws, so none of the pre-DSHA
properties were licensed unless the original owners did so explicitly.  The
Calvanos hammered out an agreement out of court, which signed over the
licensing with the condition that any surviving family members or their
designates got the right to say no to any re-use of the Centurion identity.
They were okay with Strafe as a person, but didn't want to give up the right
in perpetuity.  And that agreement was still in force in 2011, so Centurion
didn't get gobbled up as part of that one clause in the IP reform act.  Red
Widow had no heirs and no pre-Combine standing agreement, so the government
just took the rights.  I think they also got Johnny Angel that way, but with
the name getting taken by a song later on, they probably figured it was too
much hassle for a rather retro codename."
     "Too bad that paragang skank got to be Red Widow, I wouldn't mind
growing my hair out a bit more and trying to make the swimsuit look work.
Although I don't really have the butt for it," Arin frowned at her own
backside.  "And I can't even just visit your family and fatten up, you've got
the most un-stereotypical Italian mother I've ever met!"
     "It's all an act," Sal confided.  "As soon as she realized that I might
become famous, she started trying to act like she belonged in the Hamptons.
It was pretty hilarious the first holiday home from college.  I'm sure if you
promised to keep it secret, she'd help you put some meat on your bones."
     "There are so many double entendres I could spin off from that straight
line that I think you just broke my brain," Arin giggled.  "Anyway, I'll
stick with Fury, it's got a much older heritage and there's a lot less
pornographic fan art in that heritage."
     Now it was Sal's turn to laugh.  "Oh, how I wish I'd been in the room
when the new Red Widow found out about the Tijuana Bible someone found and
put online...."
     "I don' limbs don't reattach!" Arin replied in mock horror, then
dissolved into giggles.
     After a minute or so, the laughter stopped and the two just lay back on
the couch, watching the beams from the skylight creep across the room.
Bright, midday light, dancing with motes of dust, warm and comforting.
     "Wanna go on the roof and watch the sunset?" Sal asked.
     "It's only two in the afternoon," Arin pointed out.
     "You have someplace else you need to be?" Sal asked, smiling.  "The
crisis is over, the Sun is shining, all's right with the world.  I'm sure we
can find a way to pass the time until sunset...."


Next Issue:

     Will there be a next issue?  Well, yes.  But after this monster, I may
need to take a break from ASH for a bit.


Author's Notes: - On August 6, 1994, I posted Academy #0.  It was
in part a reaction to having put nearly a year into the Patrol setting only
to have it veer off into directions I didn't like.  I decided that if I was
going to keep writing serious (i.e. non-LNH) fiction on RACC, I needed to be
able to exert some control over the setting...and so I came up with my own,
based largely on my old Champions and Modern Knights campaigns.  And now, 15
years later, I'm pretty sure I've generated over a million words in ASH
(about half a million on the ASH title itself, and then there's all the other
titles, the info files, etc).  Writers who have gone on to get published
professionally and even win awards for writing have contributed to the
setting.  And all from something I wasn't sure would last beyond the first
year or so.

     In case anyone's curious, I outlined this in three phases.  First, the
sort of outline they teach you in school (I. A. i. headers) for the entire
four issue arc, with the level of detail dropping off in later issues since I
wanted the flexibility to change things.  Then, a similar outline for the
three chapters of #100, going into more detail than before but still leaving
later scenes vaguer.  Finally, I went into each chapter and did my usual "a
paragraph for each scene" outline, finishing the writing of each chapter
before finalizing the paragraph-outline for the next.  I don't always work
this way, mind you, usually skipping right to the paragraph-outline format
and at most having a general skeleton of how the arc will go.  And in some
cases (like my Transformers fanfic) I'll jump right into writing the final
story with no outline at all.
     But I figured that the big #100 blowout needed a bit more planning.  :) 

     Gonna be a LOT of notes, I fear.  So here they are, broken up by
chapter and scene.  


     The cover to #50 was a two-page gatefold, so of course the cover to #100
has to be three.  The silhouetted figure in the middle of the Sun is meant to
be ambiguous, it could be Phaeton or Chiaroscuro.  The unnamed figures on the
left panel are Mothflame, Whiteout, Irrlicht and Oblivion, while the glowing
golden orb on the right panel is Goldmind.
     Saxon Brenton asked to draw the cover of #100, so I decided to use it to
finish him off once and for all, muahahaha!  Ahem.  On a more serious note,
all of those "character 1 blended with character 2" things *were* somewhat
cruel of me.  Unfortunately, I did end up breaking Saxon a little, and he was
only able to get the inks and about a third of the coloring done by August
6.  Once the full version is done, the link will be added to the prologue
section as well as the usual webpage locations.
     As in #99, the Roll Call uses the Freedom Alliance identities rather
than the regular ASH identities where relevant.


[July 29, 2009 - Falcon Bay, Venus]

     The first scene under this stamp is pretty much just infodump as it

     Zone was killed by the glass-chaff gun in CSV #15.  Mothflame's
entrapment in the Klein bottle was first brought up in ASH #37, and she
escaped it behind the scenes in ASH #40.

     When Noire's codename was selected for her by the NAC Marshals, they
were unaware that Al-Khayal of the Shadowmongers had been turned into Noir
of the Light Brigade.  Noir, being dead, is not likely to bring an
intellectual property suit.

     You'll just have to wait to find out who helped Noire.  ;)

[April 1, 1945 - Okinawa, Japan]

     This is the real world date of the Okinawa landing by the III
Amphibious, and as in previous chapters I referred heavily to Wikipedia for
details on historical events.  
     The "Thirds" may or may not have been part of proper ASH history.  I
suppose that depends on whether I (or anyone else) wants to use them in a
Coherent Super Stories story.  :) 
     The middle school brigades were real, but did not participate in the
April 1 action, instead staying back in the main city.  The shuffle here is
an example of Goldmind trying to take control of the situation and gain
psychological advantages.
     Red Widow never used a whip during her brief career in Florida.
However, in later years her lasso got confused with a whip in numerous
treatments of the obscure mysterymen of the First Age, and Netwalker drew on
those mistaken sources in constructing his "skin" for the interface.
     And yes, Corporal Red's making a "Boys from Brazil" reference, due to
Paul's memories starting to percolate to the surface.

[July 29, 2026 - Skopje, Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     In the early 1990s, a Bosnian with powerful gravity control abilities
went mad and decided to end the civil war in Yugoslavia by the simple
expedient of pulling an asteroid down to destroy the entire country.  While
Constellation stopped him from doing so, what did hit wasn't kind to the
landscape.  The Bosnian's name was never discovered, since he vanished into
Constellation's warp along with the planetkiller asteroid.

[July 29, 2026 - Mount Olympus]

     The conversion of Paris was attempted in the City of Light arc, ASH
#37-40.  And I picked up the term "soletta" from the Vorkosigan novels: prior
to reading them, I thought of it as a "solar system" a la Mobile Suit

[July 29, 2026 - Tirana, Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     Kid Ebon has not been mentioned before, but since Lord Ebon was trapped
in a temporal loop by Constellation in Constellation #12 (events that are
part of the mainline ASH timestream), it's unlikely that there's a direct
link between the two.

[April 15, 1945 - Okinawa]

     The events described in paragraph two are pretty much what happened in
real life.  The "real" Freedom Alliance didn't have too much effect on the
outcome of WWII in the ASH Universe, mainly acting to counter the Bakajin and
various super-weapons.  The "unexpectedly fierce" defense of Okinawa town is
due to Goldmind's actions, however, and I'm not sure any American soldiers
would have known the name "operation Ten-Go" at the time.  The radio operator
is another insertion of Netwalker, letting him pass information to the team.
     The "freaky eclipse" was how Noire's shadow burst was experienced in the
virtual world.  See the Beacon miniseries for more on the darkness cult
mentioned here.
     And yes, the Space Battleship Musashi is a blatant reference to Space
Battleship Yamato, known better in America as the ship in Starblazers.  The
Musashi and Yamato were sister ships, with the Musashi being sunk in the
battles around the Philippines and the Yamato sunk while they were trying to
turn it into a defense battery for Okinawa in Operation Ten-Go.


[April 15, 1945 - Okinawa, Japan]

     In case the Starblazers reference wasn't obvious enough, I threw in a
spinal-mount Wave Motion Cannon.

     Cosmo Kirby, inventor of Lady Lawful's Enhancement Belt, tried a second
time and the result gave him impressive powers while also driving him
insane.  So he went from being mentor to being archvillain.
     The "something that made it harder for Johnny to get through" the hull
is network countermeasures.  Only the involvement of Meteor's magene lets her
bypass them at all, Goldmind had designed them to 100% block the signal he
was seeing from Irrlicht's scouting report.
     The deja vu is because most of this team was also involved in the
assault on the ISN Fornax back in ASH #82.  Centurion doesn't experience it,
because Green Knight was the only one of them not to assault the Fornax.
     None of the Ladies Lawful has ever exhibited telekinetic powers, this is
purely Breaker's original powerset breaking through.  Deedee's life would
certainly have been harder if LL had TK!

[July 29, 2026 - Falcon Bay, Venus]

     As I probably admitted to in an earlier set of notes, I stole the "giant
thing talks so slowly you have to record it and play it back" trick from
Chainsaw Vigilante's short-lived comic.
     TerraStar's avatar is a "K-girl" of Heraclius.  ;)  People from her
dimension refer to the Magene as the "Gift", and supernormals as "Gifted".
     The Doublecross copy was freed in the background of ASH #13.

[August 6, 1945 - Okinawa, Japan]

     When I originally posted Academy #0, I wasn't even thinking about the
fact it was the anniversary of the Hiroshima nuclear strike.  But you can bet
I was keeping that point in mind when I planned this arc!  The whole reason I
picked the WWII "skin" for the virtual battlefield was so that I could tie
the two August 6ths together.  And play with metaphorical nuclear weaponry.
     The cloned Bakajin are because Goldmind has run out of new ideas to use
in his desperate defense, so he's just taking old ones and throwing a LOT of
them at the heroes, taking Stalin's maxim of quantity having a quality all
its own.  And the reason Goldmind didn't try this before was the high
probability that once a weakness was found in one, it could be rapidly
applied to all of them, as per Lady Lawful's "hack the detonator"
     Centurion's "power" was that whenever he died, someone picked up the
mantle.  Sal's will (and Magene) made it work in a rather dramatic way.

[July 30, 2026 - skies over the Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     The only things here that require an explanation will not get one yet.

[August 6, 1945 - Tokyo, Japan]

     Of course, the real atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, both in real
life and in ASH's proper history.  But Tokyo is the nerve center of the
Empire, and rather than seeking to force a surrender (as the Allies were
doing by bombing someplace else), Netwalker's plan is to decapitate the
system by dropping a logic bomb into Goldmind's brain, represented by the
Golden Palace (another not-real thing).  And, of course, the bomb flares
green because it's backed by Beacon's power.


[July 31, 2026 - Somewhere in transvenusian orbit]

     Much of Netwalker's off-screen time is spent policing the internet for
rogue AIs, mostly of Khadamite creation.  He keeps some on leashes because
they might come in handy later.

[Falcon Bay, Venus]

     The "worse" that the Taylors have experienced includes Solar Max being
lost in time at least once and Meteor having spent a fair amount of time as
living ice.  So Netwalker's not being a complete heel here.

[Several light-minutes from Venus]

     During Four To Never (specifically ASH #78), Chiaroscuro emulated
Oblivion's disintegration power.

[Mount Olympus, Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     The thing that truly separates the Fullbloods/gods from Partbloods and
demons is the ability to draw power from worship itself, rather than having
to feed on the spirits of their followers (something gods can do too, as
demonstrated in 1998).  It's more sustainable and less wasteful.

[Undisclosed location somewhere on the Mediterranean coast]

     From his first appearance, Chiaroscuro was described as a mage, but he
rarely goes outside the range of light and shadow powers.  This scene
suggests why.
     Subjective time for something going the speed of light is zero.  It
requires a violation effect just to be aware enough to know when to stop.

[Several light-minutes from Venus]

     Lightfoot accelerated the sinking of Phaeton's Collapsauron (hyperdense
gold) statue in ASH #6.  It later took on the Weregild spirit and revived in
the 38th Century, where a time-displaced Beacon helped destroy it in ASH
#36.  Blitzkrieg!'s report (yes, the ! is part of his name) concerns the
events of ASH #87.  The "Big Bad" Solar Max mentions was Devastation, who was
dealt with in ASH #85, with the Western Dragon assuring him that the
Celestial Bureaucracy would handle the giant demon.
     "Nova Sol" isn't a superhero from the future, it's a term for when the
Sun goes nova.  Just in case anyone was wondering.  :)
     I referenced Br'er Rabbit because the term "Xanatos Gambit" probably
didn't make it into the lexicon in the ASH Universe.  Same basic idea,
though, get your opponent to accomplish your goals even while making it look
like you're being defeated.  Of course, with all the players in this game, we
really have a 40 Xanatos Pileup in the making.  Or 4 Xanatos, anyway. for reference.  
     The Briar Patch, for those unfamiliar with Br'er Rabbit, was where
Rabbit begged not to be thrown, knowing that once in there he could escape
easily.  The Tar Baby, in turn, trapped Br'er Rabbit.  And since Lightfoot
refers to watching the classics rather than reading them, either Disney
finally re-released Song of the South in the ASH timeline, or Lightfoot got
his hands on a bootleg.  It's entirely possible that the IP reform of 2011
resulted in Song of the South entering the Public Domain, in fact.
     Solar Max is rather familiar with time dilation at the interface of an
unstable hyperspace gate, having experienced one in ASH #87.  It wasn't time
travel in the way his trip from ancient China to the 1970s had been, just
regular old relativistic fun.
     Pillars and Clastics are part of the language of formal magic, see for more details.
     Whiteout actually wasn't even a full Understudy, having failed his
"audition" and been converted by Doublecross along with the rest of the
washouts.  However, Solar Max must've heard the term used at some point and
put two and two together.

[Outside the energy sphere]

     No notes.


     In addition to being a sungod, Apollo was also a god of archery (like
his sister Artemis), and his arrows were poisoned.  A particularly painful
poison, in fact.  So it's quite in character for him to supply Baal Samin
with a poison that can affect another god.
     It's important to keep in mind for much of this scene that Baal Samin
may try to come across as humble, but he does like talking up his abilities
and status, and much of what he says may be...shaded by this.  In other
words, don't trust what he says just because he's revealing it to someone who
is about to die.  ;)
     One of the things under the purview of Hades is mineral wealth, a
characteristic he shares with his Roman cousin Pluto (hence "plutocrat"
meaning someone who uses their wealth for political power).  Presumably
before Hades jiggered things, Collapsed Gold wasn't dense enough to
immediately sink into the bedrock, although it probably wouldn't have lasted
very long even before the alteration.
     The time trip mostly hits historical disasters in which fire rained from
the sky.  Tunguska in 1909 being fairly infamous in that regard, and 1871 was
the year of the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire, both of which are
now thought to have been lit by fragments of something from space.  The
historicity of Sodom and Gomorrah is dubious, and likely a backstory made up
to explain some odd geological formations or then-ancient ruins, but when
Phaeton's one of your characters it's not a big stretch to make Sodom and
Gomorrah's destruction more literal than literary.  The 34,000 BCE impact was
just pulled out so that not every flake of power would be something in the
historical or mythological record.  Toba and the Miocene Disruption are real,
though, feel free to wiki 'em.
     I did promise death on a planetary scale, but I doubt anyone expected
the planet would be Earth in 2026.  Hopefully, at least some readers were
surprised by the way I did deliver on the promise, though.


[July 31, 2026 - Lower Ghat, Khadam]

     This scene was inspired by the "High Concept Challenge #2" which
involved interaction between two high concepts: a superhuman somehow showing
concern for their offspring, and uplifted animals.  No, ASH #100 is not my
entry in that contest, but once I had the idea I decided I needed to use it
somewhere, and this seemed like a good spot.  Ahmed's story will either
continue as a subplot in ASH #101 onward, or in a separate title.

[Falcon Bay, Venus]

     At the end of Capstone #1, Rebus got removed from the mortal plane
because he got the attention of the Egyptian gods before he was ready to join
them on equal terms.
     "Prometheus" means "forethought," so it's entirely possible that this
was one of the times Peregryn was trying to be funny.

[Mount Olympus, Kingdom of Q'Nos]

     I imagine that the bad poetry written by Cthulhu in his teenaged years
would blast the sanity of entire worlds apart.  (As a public domain character
despite attempts by Derleth and his heirs to convince people otherwise,
Cthulhu is a part of the ASH timeline, and the original ASH team barely
managed to keep him from awakening in the early 1990s.)

[August 2, 2026 - Undisclosed location on the Mediterranean coast]

     Talos was built by his timeline's version of Simon Smith (aka the
original Doublecross), to complete his over-explanation of the joke.

[August 6, 2026 - Mexico City]

     "Julie" is Julie Sylvester, aka Juliana Silvestri, sister of Beacon and
famous fashionista.  She designed several of the ASH uniforms, including the
one Green Knight's been wearing for roughly the past 80 issues.  She finds
working with ballistic cloth and armor plating an interesting challenge and a
welcome departure from the usual fabrics.  
     Sam Walters's Freedom Alliance debuted in ASH #94.  One of its members,
Gauntlet, is Joshua Cole, who kidnapped Arin in ASH #17 and held her in
thrall until she was rescued in ASH #22.  Her son Chris Kelsey was the result
of that time.  For his part, Joshua claims to have few memories of that time,
as his electrical powers had affected his brain.  While Gauntlet has the
worst record, the new Red Widow is a former paraganger who was arrested for
the attempted murder against Robert Coulter (as seen in Capstone #1), and
Brightsword is a former paraball player who seriously injured a man in a
barroom brawl.
     The Tijuana Bible Arin is referring to was seen as part of Coherent
Super-Stories #10.
     Oh, and before you speculate too much on how Sal and Arin plan to pass
the afternoon, keep in mind that some paparazzi can fly (either minor
paranormal powers, or Santari antigrav rigs), and neither hero is interested
in giving them anything too juicy.  ;)

Author's Notes: is an URL-shortener written by Andy Burton.

     Oh dear, I think we've gone recursive.  Baal Samin, a little help here? 


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