[Contest][ASH] High Concept Challenge #2: Think Of The Children

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 10 19:09:30 PDT 2009

[Contest][ASH] High Concept Challenge #2: Think Of The Children
NOT a dream!
NOT a hoax!
*IS* a badly written term paper!
High Concept Challenge #2: Think Of The Children
An Academy of Super-Heroes fanfic
Written by and copyright 2009 Saxon Brenton
[June 2, 2026]
     +-I'm a superhero and a diplomat,-+ " Contact told himself.  +-I'm  
used to dealing with strange things and talking with alien people.-+
     -+Still, hyperintelligent hamsters are a first,+- interjected Paul,  
the disembodied consciousness that shared Contact's headspace.
     +-Well, yes.  But my point is that this shouldn't be much different  
to meeting with a Pranir, or a satyr,-+ Contact told the self-aware  
memory.  He looked at the hamster sitting on the table in front of him.  
As far as physical  size and shape went he looked at first glance like a  
perfectly unremarkable brown and white hamster.  However hamsters didn't  
normally wear capes or tool belts, and that simple fact was enough to  
prompt a thoughtful individual to notice that this small and furry person  
possessed dew claws that were articulated into opposable thumbs.  There  
was also...  Well, it was dangerous to project one's own sensibilities  
onto others, especially when those others were a completely different  
species with whom you'd had no experience in reading the body language,  
but Contact had the impression that the hamster was doing the diplomatic  
     -+Best not keep the guest waiting,+- Paul suggested.
     "So, Mr Lehweee," Contact said out loud, and making a passable  
attempt to pronounce the name meant for a smaller throat and higher  
register of voice.  "You say you have an urgent warning about a rogue  
member of your species."
     Lehweee nodded, a deliberate choice of body language for the benefit  
of the human.  "Ms Lehweee actually, but you'd hardly be expected to know.  
"I'm here as the representative of my government.  Not quite a full  
ambassador," she added wryly.  "More a bearer of urgent news."
     "Understood," said Contact with a smile as he found himself warming  
to her.
     "Within the past four daycycles we discovered that one of our most  
prolific but eccentric scientists had gone missing.  Her name is Dr Hewiila.  
Some researchers were assigned to examine her paperwork to smell if there  
was any reason for her disappearance.  The preliminary answer was alarming,  
and over the next few days things only grew worse.
     "Indications are that Dr Hewiila has developed a dangerous fixation  
on human domination of the planet Earth, as well as the potential threat  
of superhuman conflict to both the Earth and adjacent worlds.  We believe  
that she has used her expertise in extra dimensional physics to set up  
bases for herself away from the oversight of others, stocked them with  
high tech weapons, and is planning to try and eliminate the most powerful  
of Earth's paranormals."
     Contact raised an incredulous eyebrow.  "Considering that the power  
levels of paranormals on Earth at the moment reach all the way to that of  
literal demigods, I'd say that if that's her plan then she's overreaching  
      "I agree," said Lehweee.  "Although the point is how much trouble  
she can stir up, not whether or not she can succeed in her goal."
      "Point taken.  And she's motivated by trying to keep the paranormal  
violence under control?  That's a worthy aim, but I'm afraid the cat's  
out of the bag as far as that's concerned," Contact said.  "After the  
recent attempts by the Planetary Confederation to sterilise the planet  
with a coronal mass ejection, or the future Santari to ram a planet killer  
spaceship into us, the most likely result would be to provoke fear that  
anything that can take out the current high-end paranormals is something  
too dangerous to be left alone."
      "Mr Zander, at this point we honestly aren't sure what her exact  
motivations are, but there's a very good chance that they aren't fully  
rational.  It may involve a pragmatic attempt to stop human paranormal  
violence spiralling out of control.  On the other hand it may involve some  
version of nostalgia or belief in manifest destiny.  We hamsters are  
originally from Earth, you see.  We left for a new home when it became  
clear that even if we used our hyperintellect to limit our breeding, we  
would still soon come into conflict with humans.  It wouldn't even have  
been at the point where there was genuine problems with dividing up  
resources.  Based on human history our projections indicated that within  
two decades our faster expanding population would have grown to a point  
where humans would have begun to grow fearful and start looking for  
excuses -- any excuses -- to move against us.  That's no way to raise  
children and start a civilization, so we simply left.  Now, if Hewiila  
is somehow acting on atavistic territorialism, then that may be enough  
excuse to harbour a grudge.  But on the other paw there's maltheism..."
     "Hyperintelligent hamsters were originally uplifted by humans,"  
pointed out Lehweee.  "There was a time, early on, when we looked upon you  
as gods.  And if one of us were to grow angry with humans, and set about  
picking and choosing incidents of humans misusing their authority and  
technological ability, and using that as an excuse for why humans were  
unfit and needed to be cast down...  Well, it's hardly as though they'd  
have to hunt far for excuses, now would they?  Isn't it much the same with  
your own deities, after the God Market?"
     "Yes," conceded Contact.  "So, at best we have someone motivated by  
goodwill but who's not thinking things through.  At worse we have a  
twisted ideologue."
     "That about sums up the situation," agreed Lehweee.  "However, there  
is some good news, of sorts."
     "And what's that?"
     "Dr Hewiila seems to be working on standard military procedure to  
take out the most powerful threats first.  At this point in time that's  
the Impossible Five.  It could be seen as an opportunity to remove the  
current greatest criminal threat on the planet.  Of course, that also has  
the risk of unacceptably high levels of collateral damage."
     Contact pulled out his blackcell.  "Meteor isn't going to thank me  
for this, but I think we'd better start kicking this up the chain of  
command," he said, referring to the current leader of ASH while her  
husband, Solar Max, was missing.  "Hey, Sarah?  I've got someone here  
that I think you should talk too."
     "You'd better put the social introductions on hold and get here fast,"  
said Meteor, cutting across his message.  We've just gotten some intel  
that two of the Impossible Five have just been assassinated."
               *              *              *              *
     Her name was Dr Hewiila, but for this task of eliminating the human  
paranormals it had tickled her fancy to take on the nom de guerre of  
Dr Incisor.
     There was clap of thunder as Dr Incisor's mecha teleported in and  
displaced air with its arrival.  Not that she was physically present in  
the thing.  She needed to have a mecha present, simply for show, be she  
could easily direct it via zero-time lag extra dimensional links using  
quantum entanglement. 
     Some five hundred meters below were a cluster of small rocky isles  
off the coast of Indonesia, one of which held a hidden base of the  
Impossible Five.  *Had* held a hidden base of the Impossible Five, as the  
antimatter bombs that Dr Incisor had simultaneously teleported in turned  
the base and volcanic rock above it into so much rubble and gamma waves.
     It had not harmed the two Impossible Five members who had been within,  
but then Dr Incisor had neither expected it to nor wanted it to.  The  
destruction was merely to flush them into the open so that when Dr Incisor  
obliterated them it would be in full view of the various spy satellites  
that were even now focusing on the area in response to the explosions.
       And here they came.  Chiaroscuro and Anhydra, flying up in an  
attack formation to outflank their assailant.  Perhaps they would attack  
with the intent to destroy the mecha immediately as an example to others.  
Perhaps they would try to capture the hypothetical pilot for interrogation.  
Perhaps they would preen and posture again as they had at their debut at  
Monte Carlo, boasting about how being from the future they knew all about  
those defences that could be arranged against them.
     Feh, sloppy logic on their part if they relied on that third one.  
To erase their own pasts and make themselves immune to temporal gazumping  
they had to come back in time and set in motion a new history.  Which meant  
their old history didn't include opponents working on ways of attacking  
temporally rootless foes.  Which meant that they weren't prepared for THIS!
     One and a half seconds after the impossible pair appeared in the  
skies the onboard computer activated the temporal shredder.  Almost  
everything in the area was native to this time and place, and had not only  
the one-dimensional temporal inertia that was a consequence of moving  
forward with the normal flow of time one second at a time, but also the  
higher-dimensional temporal inertia that kept people and objects anchored  
in their home realities as those realities wiggled though the multiverse,  
diverging and sometimes converging and generally spiralling about one  
another like a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.  The  
temporal shredder had no effect on these things.
     However the Impossible Five, being people who had recently  
disconnected themselves from their original time flow to turn their own  
pasts into closed loops, had not yet been in 2026 for long enough to  
re-accumulate their own higher-dimensional temporal inertia.  The temporal  
shredder curdled higher dimensional time, and the vectors of every part of  
Chiaroscuro and Anhydra's bodies splayed randomly backwards and forwards  
and sideways into adjacent timelines, and the resulting shear forces  
caused the spacial matter making up their bodies to be torn apart at  
subatomic levels.  Death was instantaneous but not at all messy.  There  
literally wasn't enough left of them to leave a mess.
               *              *              *              *
     Dr Incisor waited until the assault mecha had teleported back and the  
intruder alert systems of her hidey-hole extra dimensional base has been  
confirmed to be reactivated.  Then she let out a little giggle, and that  
giggle became a chuckle, and soon that chuckle escalated out of control  
into a peal of triumphant laughter.
     Ooooh, this was going simply too, too perfectly.  Soon the Impossible  
Five, and then the Conclave of Super-Villains, and so on and so forth down  
the line of humanity's paranormal, technological and military power  
holders.  And while the humans were scurrying around in response to the  
destruction of their overt power bases, all the while her long term plan  
was nibbling away in the background. 
     It had to do with influenza.  Her especially tailored strain of flu  
had already been deposited around the planet, and when winter came and  
flu season began the virulent but otherwise not particularly severe  
disease would spread across first one hemisphere and then the other.  And  
as the humans were infected, little snippets of recessive DNA codes would  
insert themselves into the collective human genome.  It would take a  
while...centuries probably, considering that the magene didn't properly  
follow Mendelian genetics...but eventually humans would stop producing  
superhumans.  And while Dr Incisor would hardly be around to see the  
fruits of her labour, the children and the children's children of her  
fellow hyperintelligent hamsters would be the better and safer for it.
Markers comments:
Your attempt to present an overview of the different lines of thought  
about the departure of our people from humans and hypothetical recontact  
is good.  I particularly liked the figure of a diplomat who for reasons  
of professional objectivity can summarise the different positions within  
the word count allocated.  The inclusion of incidental details about the 
Academy members shows an above average attention to detail for human  
paranormal current affairs.
However, the sudden shift to a battle scene is jarring, and the use of  
a hamster super scientist who casually defeats the humans is both  
implausible and reeks of wish fulfilment.
Spelling errors are marked in red.
Author's notes:
     Written in response to the two concepts proposed by the joint winners  
of the first High Concept Contest.  'Superhumans worrying about their  
superhuman children' (submitted by myself) and 'uplifted animals'  
(submitted by Andrew Burton).
     I'm not quite sure where to begin untangling the threads that went  
into this story, so to keep things simple I suppose I'll just stick to the  
main ones.  Apart from the overt theme of 'non-humans concerned about  
whether they can co-exist with humans' there's also a nod to the subtext of  
'always a bigger fish' that Dvandom sometimes uses in his ASH stuff.  So,  
the Impossible Five have arrived and are carving a niche for themselves  
as top dogs on the planet.  Mm-hm, and what about when the next uber  
threat comes along and overshadows them?
     That was a driving notion in the original version of the story, which  
was labelled as an 'alternate unreality in a perpendicular universe'.  
(Mainly so that I could make up any old outrageous stuff and not have to  
worry about conflicting with any planned-but-not-yet-published canon.)  
In particular the line about the tailored influenza virus being used to  
remove humanity's magene was a reference to the way that in the 21st  
century setting of ASH there are an increasing number of paranormals but  
in the 38th century setting of the Spear-Carriers there are very few.   
As well as being a concrete goal for Dr Incisor to aim for it was also  
originally meant as a bit of pseudo-foreshadowing; and of course as a  
literary reference it's an inversion of the Wildcards virus used to  
introduce superpowers into the human gene pool.
     Then Dvandom suggested that it would be relatively easy to drag the  
story back to within spitting distance of mainstream ASH continuity by  
reframing it as hamster written Mary Sue fanfiction, which was duly Made So.  
Only a few minor changes had to be made, mainly to account for the fact  
that the narrator was now from a fixed cultural context rather than being  
a true impartial third person omniscient.   The largest change was the  
removal of a short scene with Timeslip -- the adult Chris Kelsey -- on  
the grounds that his existence is probably being kept a secret from the  
general public.  A smaller but more pertinent one was that despite her  
actions and reactions, Dr Incisor is no longer explicitly labelled as a  
     One final piece of nerdstuff:  The hyperintelligent hamsters (or  
their ancestors, anyway) first appeared in rapfic's 'Eight Tiny...Reindeer?'  
in the _Academy of Super-Heroes Holiday Special_.
     (And somewhere Continuity Porn Star dances, shaking his booty at 
the readership.)
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex 
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3
Need a new model in your life? Sell your car fast.

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