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