SG/LNH: New Exarchs #15 - Execute Plan B!

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Wed Sep 9 19:18:12 PDT 2009

[Note: this is a repost, because the post I made on September 3 seems to have
not gone through.  Now, watch both show up at once.]

[000SUPERDRY - Sango City]

     "We sense you are different," one of the shuffling Emoviates moaned.
"Come be different with us."
     "If only we had some plotdevicium," Skysabre sighed.  "Too bad it
doesn't exist in these altiverses."
     "I hear nectarisite is about the same thing," Anna noted.  "But liquidy.
And more likely to attract monkeys."
     "Would they be gothy monkeys?" Kat asked.
     "Demon monkeys," Anna replied as the group edged back into a corner,
surrounded by the Emoviates.  "With bronze auras.  These guys, if anyone
cares, have black and plaid auras."
     "Poor devils," Duke Earl sighed.  "I always feel bad about beating them
into a coma, but it's the only way to stop them."  A few of the hung-over
Suedes didn't seem to feel too bad about the prospect, though.  In fact, a
couple sounded eager to commence with the beating.  Not too far away there
was a patrol of Sung the Stainless's Nauga enforcers, but they seemed to be
tuning out the Emoviates.  Apparently beating them wasn't even illegal.
     "They're basically innocents, then?" Skysabre frowned.  He'd started to
pull out his swords, but slid them back into their sheaths.
     "As much as anyone can be in this decayed age, I suppose," Duke Earl
nodded.  "A bit stupid, though, to risk prolonged contact with blackwater."
     "We do not call it that," one of the Emoviates whispered, edging
closer.  "It is the holy water of Xe."
     "Z-water?  Sounds like an anime plot device," Kat snorted.  "The
beatings plan is looking better."
     "Anna, do you still have Plan B up your sleeve?" Skysabre asked.
     "Yes, but I don't see how that'd stop this crowd.  I mean, if I had a
bundle of Hot Topic coupons I could throw as a distraction, that might work,
but I didn't think we'd run into this sort of crowd when we left
     "No one ever does," Duke Earl shrugged, earning him some confused
     "No, it won't stop the Emoviates, but I doubt we can continue to be all
that sneaky with this crowd following us everwhere," Skysabre pointed out,
"and I'm not keen on the beatings plan."
     "Neither are we," someone in the back of the Emoviate crowd replied.
     "Woe are we," added another.
     "I have a note that says I'm to be excused from beatings because of my
asthma," a third piped up.
     "But you won't just go away?" Skysabre asked.
     There was a long pause, then in unison the black-clad outcasts shook
their heads.  "You must join us.  Partake of Xe."
     "Fine," Skysabre sighed.  "Anna, keep Plan B ready.  Everyone else,
follow my lead."
     With that, he leapt over the crowd of Emoviates, performing a few
mid-air adjustments thanks to his limited air-relemental powers, and landed in
front of the knot of Naugas.
     "Hello.  We're outlanders.  Please take us to your leader," Skysabre

__--__--__--__--__--__--__--     \\NEW//       --__--__--__--__--__--__--__
 .|,Coherent Comics Presents      \\ //        #15 - Execute Plan B!
--X-------------------------     E }X{ ARCHS      copyright 2009 by the
 '|` A Superguy/LNH Tale          // \\        Dvandroid (Dave Van Domelen)
--__--__--__--__--__--__--__     //   \\       __--__--__--__--__--__--__--

     "Well, that was an embarrassingly thorough search," Anna muttered as the
trio was hustled into the executive office of Sung the Stainless.  The
various Suedes had melted into the crowd as soon as they saw what Skysabre
was about to do, and since the Emoviates were only interested in the three
outlanders, they'd made good their escape.
     "Eh, I give it a six," Kat shrugged.  "I've concealed stuff from better,
and on shorter notice." 
     "Quiet, you," a Nauga motioned with the butt of his ray rifle in a
pantomime of jabbing it into someone's stomach, but didn't come close to
     When the Exarchs came to a stop in front of the ego-strokingly large
obsidian desk, the chair behind it swiveled around to reveal the immaculate
personage of Sung the Stainless...who was indeed quite stainless in his
gleaming naugahyde.  Drycleaning magnate in a deluxe apartment in the sky,
poised to invade another world.
     "So, other than the obvious, what brings you outlanders to Sango?" Sung
asked, smirking.
     No one spoke, instead the three all turned their eyes to the Nauga
guard.  The guard's expression flashed a brief "You have got to be kidding
me" pained look before changing to a professional scowl.  "Answer the
question, unless you'd like to try out your silent sarcasm in the virtual
     Skysabre mostly hid a smirk as he turned back to Sung.  "Well, our
intention was a brief scouting mission, to see if we could get a line on our
missing friend.  But one thing led to another, it sounded like you might have
him captive, Emoviates decided they wanted to give us fashion tips, and
well..." he shrugged.
     "And your friend would be...?" Sung prompted, although the look in his
eye suggested he already knew.
     "Paul Oakthorn," Skysabre played along.
     "Ah, a guest of my virtual reality dungeons, yes.  A rather dogged
insurrectionist for someone with no stake in the affairs of Sango," Sung
turned the chair to look out his window and contemplate the view of Sango
     "You can drop the act," Kat snarled.  "We know you're not holding him
because he's a rebel...the actual rebels never heard of him, so you must've
grabbed him as soon as he came through the Cheeezball, or at least before he
could make a name for himself here.  And now you're trying to get him to tell
you more about how cheeez-based interaltiversal travel works and GOD I wish I
didn't have to listen to myself say things like 'cheeez-based interaltiversal
     "Fine," Sung stood and walked back around his chair to face them.  "And
what of it?  Presuming you're the the same people that fought my market
researchers, I'll admit you have skills...but that was a mere probe.  You
can't possibly stand against full market penetration," he leaned forward on
the jet-black desk for emphasis.  "And you're disarmed in the middle of my're hardly in a position to threaten me to gain Oakthorn's
     "Before I respond to that," Skysabre said calmly, "am I correct in
assuming that our world is the only one you've attempted 'full market
penetration' on?  Or, at least, the first with an actual market?"  Taking the
stony silence as assent, he continued.  "In that case, there's a piece of
market research you definitely need to see.  Anna?  Plan B."
     Anna nodded and produced a tabloid-sized newspaper, tossing it lightly
on the desk where it skidded to a stop right between Sung's braced hands.
     He jumped back like it might explode.  "Guards, how in the name of the
great god Perc did you miss THAT?" he pointed at the newspaper.
     "Hey, I said it was embarrassingly thorough, not that it was an
*effective* search," Anna smiled sweetly.  Given her skills as a stage
magician from before her mystic powers emerged, she could probably have
sneaked most of a newsstand past the guards.
     "Do you recognize the title?" Skysabre asked, nodding at the tabloid.
     Sung furrowed his brow.  "The Weekly World Schmooze?  Of course...even
the barest of market research revealed it to be among the paragons of news
reporting for your world.  We've already made arrangements to advertise on
their webpage.  I thought they'd discontinued paper copies, though?"
     "It's a special 'Forest Genocide' edition," Skysabre explained, pointing
at the headline.  "Genocidal War: 10 Year Retrospective," it screamed in 48
point Impact font.  "Go ahead, read it.  And keep in mind, that this all
happened about ten years ago, and think about how our world looks NOW."
     For several long minutes, Sung flipped through the somewhat creased
pages of the tabloid, occasionally raising an eyebrow or even gasping in
     Finally, he put it down.  "All of this transpired...and the world not
only survived, now it's as if the Genocidal never happened?" he said,
     "Oh, there's been some long term effects, both direct and indirect.
Boston is a pit, for instance, although some would argue it's actually been
improved," Anna shrugged.  "But if your idea of full market penetration
involves use of those rayguns," she gestured at the guard who had searched
her, "you'll find your market share lopped off."
     Every male in the room winced.
     "I'm not threatening you," Skysabre pointed out.  "As you say, we're
hardly in a position to back up threats, regardless of what my companions may
still have hidden about their persons.  Consider this a friendly warning:
000SUPERGUY has faced a LOT worse than you can offer, and come out of it...

               *              *              *              *

     "Stand back from the Remolecularization Chamber," the Nauga technician
warned.  "The process of extracting prisoners from the virtual dungeon
releases exotic particles."
     "It's just an airlock," came a muffled voice from the other side.
"Virtual dungeon my butt!  The only exotic particles come from the lack of
decent showers in here!"
     "Well, now we have confirmation that Paul's in there, for whatever value
'there' takes," Skysabre smirked.
     The "Remolecularization Chamber" opened up to reveal an unshaven and
somewhat filthy Paul Oakthorn, still rubbing his wrists where manacles had
clearly sat until moments ago.
     "So, the palace isn't a smouldering ruin, and I don't see random rebels
shooting up the place, so I take it you had to go with one of the sneaky
plans?" Paul asked Skysabre.  
     "Good to see you too," Skysabre nodded.  "And yes.  We didn't intend
this to be the rescue mission, just a scouting one, but we came prepared for
the old UXM245 gambit."
     "Ah, yes.  A classic," Paul nodded.  "Industrial Revolution?  The
666NASTYNASTYNASTY invasion?  Or something that happened while I was here?"
     "Went right for the Genocidal War, actually.  Why bother with a .25 when
you have a tacnuke?" Kat smiled.
     "Come on, let's get out of here and back to the Cheeezball before Sung
changes his mind.  My 'parting the Red Sea' skills are a bit rusty," Skysabre
gestured at the doorway, flanked by Nauga guards who were merely at attention
rather than pointing their rayguns at anyone in particular.
               *              *              *              *

     Once they were clear of Sango City, Paul cut off the catching-up they'd
been doing.  
     "Guys, I'm not coming back with you," he said.
     "Wait.  What?" Anna boggled.  "I mean, 000SUPERGUY isn't the Looniverse,
but it's a lot closer than this place.  Why don't you want to go back?"
     "Just that," Paul frowned.  "It's closer.  Agonizingly closer.  Even if
we could find a way back to the Looniverse, there's no life for me there,
since I'm just a copy of Stanley King, who's probably still quite alive.  So,
every day in 000SUPERGUY I'd see things that reminded me of home, and
reminded me I can't really go back unless I want to be part of an out of date
parody of the Clone Saga or something even worse.  But Sango?  It's a world
where I can make a place for myself and *not* see reflections of Net.ropolis
whenever I turn around.  I learned a lot during my captivity...Sung's a
pretty stereotypical villain when it comes to loving the sound of his own
voice...and I think I can do a lot of good here in the process.  I may even
be able to fix the whole blackwater problem with a proper application of
cheeez cultures."
     "So, you want we should just drop you off with Duke Earl, then?" Kat
asked.  "He said the Suedes value a man who's good with a bow."
     "Sounds good," Paul nodded.
     "Before you give up on 000SUPERGUY, Paul, I need to tell you that Hans
thinks you might not get to change your mind later," Skysabre warned.
"There's a weird time-torque happening between 000SUPERGUY and 000SUPERDRY,
and it's only getting worse.  Depending on how it snaps back, you could find
yourself a century into our future, or vice versa.  The exile could be
effectively permanent, barring a new plot device."
     "Given that I invented the plot device that got me here in the first
place, I think I'll take my chances," Paul shrugged.  "And maybe it'll get me
out of the eyes of the Authors in the process."
     "Well, if it's what you really want, we'll swing by the Duke's place and
introduce you," Anna sighed.  "And may no Author ever decide to kick off an
Event by deciding you're an obscure enough character to kill off...."

               *              *              *              *

[April 3, 2008 - Manhattan, KS]

     "An' then J.L. cast a spell and the clay squirrels were all happy but I
don't know why they were so happy since they were still made outta clay and
then the brown squirrel who says he's red but he looks brown to me said we
had to leave right away an'..."
     "Whoa, slow down there, Corrine!" Hans Zwarghoff protested.
     "J.L. kept me from drinking any of the water, and I was really thirsty,
but she said it'd make me all gothy and the goth kids at school are so weird,
I didn't want to be like that.  You think there's some water around here that
made 'em like that?" Mikey said, about the same time as his sister was
excitedly spouting her travelogue.
     "Where did the squirrels go?" one of the security men looked around the
room nervously.
     "Cheeezball activity!" another security guard pointed at the rippling of
the two-meter-wide gooey ball of soft cheeez hovering in mid-air.
     Seconds later, three figures emerged from the orange-yellow blob,
miraculously not coated in spreadable cheeez.  In fact, no one who passed
through the cheeezball physically touched the dimensionally unstable curd-
based substance, although its odor did permeate the room.  And the house.
And possibly the neighborhood, by now.
     "What happened?" Hans demanded.  "You were supposed to be in and out in
a few minutes, local time.  A scouting mission.  I've had to use up our
safety margin on establishing additional Cheeezballs since then!"
     "Good guys won.  Paul decided to stay behind.  And should the Cheeezball
be doing that?" Skysabre pointed at the object.  
     It was wobbling like annoyed Jell-O, its oscillations changing frequency
and direction at a rapidly increasing pace.
     "Oh no!" Zwarghoff started typing frantically on the control computer's
keyboard.  "We're getting snapback!  The altiverses are flying out of synch!"
     "Should we get to cover?" one of the guards asked, painfully aware of
the fact he hadn't been given a name yet and that his uniform shirt did
contain a dangerously large amount of the color red.
     "Can you get to Salina in the next five seconds?  Then no, and let me
concentrate on trying to fix this," Hans snarled.
     Anna lunged for the tray of snacks balanced on one of the
incomprehensible machines that generated the Cheeezball.  Picking up one of
the objects, she hurled it into the dimensional portal.
     There was a near-silent SPLAT.
     Everything was covered in a thick layer of cheeez spread, but there had
been no "gotta redraw the maps again" explosion.  And underneath the layer of
yellow-orange goo, telltale lights were glowing meekly green.
     "Um, what did you do, Anna?" Skysabre slowly wiped some of the cheeez
off his face.
     "I threw a graham cracker at it.  I mean, have you ever tried eating a
graham cracker with cheese on it?  I figured, if anything could make reality
reject the whole affair, that'd do it," she explained.

               *              *              *              *

[April 4, 2008 - Manhattan, KS]

     "It took five showers, but I think I finally got all the cheeez out,"
Anna sighed, wrapping a towel around her hair.  She was using a webcam to
talk to Skysabre, who was supervising the dismantling of the equipment in
Zwarghoff's basement.  "How're the kids?"
     "Sick as dogs," Skysabre shrugged.  "Oh, the cheeez wasn't poisonous,
but Mikey ate an awful lot of it before we could stop him, and Corrine just
wouldn't believe you about the graham cracker and tried it herself," he
shuddered.  "They should be okay in a couple of days, though."
     "Let's just hope things settle down for a while," Anna sat down in front
of the computer and adjusted the camera.  "Once we finish seeding the area
with Cheeezball disruptors to make sure Sung doesn't change his mind, I want
a nice long vacation.  Well, working vacation, I'd like to get back to my
studies, where the biggest excitement is when a bat gets into the building."
     "I hope Paul's right, and he can fit in better there," Skysabre said,
then moved out of shot for a moment to make room for a worker hauling some
incomprehensible bit of technology.
     "I cast some auguries last night," Anna admitted.  "Still not my best
subject, but I got the impression he'll be okay.  And that we'll get that
stretch of quiet I think we deserve."





Answers to some of these questions, and all the fondue you can stomach,
     on the next...SUPERGUY!


Author's Notes:

     Gah, it stinks to run out of momentum.
     New Exarchs was started as a parody of the 2007 Flash Gordon TV show on
what was then still the Sci Fi Channel.  Superguy was undergoing a brief
resurgence of activity, but I didn't want to horn in on any of the ongoing
storylines (especially since there was a LOT of hidden backstory in there
that took a while to reveal), and running a "travel to another reality"
series would let me keep my main action out of the way of the other Authors.
Plus, of course, the Flash Gordon series was pretty mockable.
     But a few things happened that kicked my legs out from under me.  The
Superguy revival largely petered out, and it's always harder to keep up
interest in a shared universe when you're the only one writing.  My ASH stuff
was taking up more of my creative energy as well, which never helps my
non-ASH writing schedule.  
     And the Flash Gordon show stopped sucking.  
     Oh, it never made it up to the level of a Babylon 5 or Firefly, but it
certainly found its footing by about the midpoint of the season, and became a
rather interesting show in its own right rather than just another Flash
Gordon remake.  It's a lot harder to parody something you *like*.  And then,
of course, it got cancelled on a cliffhanger, tempting me to follow suit.
     I briefly got inspired again after marathonning all the original Buster
Crabbe serials, and you can see the shift as I brought in things like the
Clays based on a race from the Crabbe serials that didn't make it into the
2007 series (although one could argue that the Deviates were meant to be Clay
People updates).  But it didn't really last, and I only got a few more
episodes written before falling behind again.  Once Sabre revealed the truth
behind the Genocidal Wars, I finally had my plot device for ending the arc,
but I held out hope I'd be able to drag it out a bit, develop some ideas I
had for turning Mikey into "Coal Sack" after he drank some blackwater and was
imperfectly cured by J.L.'s magic, but...none of these side ideas really
motivated me to write the main story.  
     So, finally, after getting past ASH #100 I decided that I'd try to wrap
things up and get New Exarchs #15 out the door.  The Crabbe serials managed
to tell their stories in 15 installments, after all, so I could too.  It did
mean jettisoning a lot of subplot, but some of that I can always go back and
redo later on if I pick New Exarchs up again on a regular basis.
     I'll need a new hook, though.  I'm kinda Flash Gordon'ed out.  I will
need to find a way to work Japanese dwarf flying squirrels into it somehow,
though, as they are grade-A weaponized CUTE.

     And now for a few issue-specific notes.

     Nectarisite is a plot device over in Rad, where demon monkeys are
involved.  And, like, goats, y'know.
     For those who don't follow the news much, the "Holy water of Xe"
reference in the opening scene has nothing to do with the Flash Gordon show.
But when I was deciding what to call the parody of their "graywater" I
decided to mock two birds with one stone and call it blackwater in reference
to the infamous mercenary outfit.  Blackwater recently renamed themselves Xe
in an attempt to hide from their reputation, and I couldn't let that go
unremarked-upon.  :)
     The Weekly World Schmooze is, much like Spoonman, respected far more
than it merits.
     "The great god Perc" is a reference to the great god Tao (pronounced
tay-oh) from the Crabbe serials.  Perc is a nickname for the liquid used in
     The Genocidal War is a sort of "Five Year Gap" event in Superguy,
although it turns out to have happened at the same time as a few of the
remaining active series.  I did a little dancing around to retcon Crazy Guy
and the original Exarchs series around it.  It was a year in which the
villains won...between the Awe-Inspiring Force and the Unimaginable League
Amoral, the world was pretty much conquered by evil and it took a while for
the heroes to rally and win back the world.  Boston's situation does not seem
to directly come from the Genocidal War, but the full details have yet to be
     "UXM245" refers to Uncanny X-Men #245, in which they parodied DC's
"Invasion" event.  The invading alien races are convinced to leave, at least
in part, by a litany of all the other things Earth had fought off.  Repulsing
Galactus repeatedly, known host for the Phoenix Force, forced an end to the
Kree-Skrull War, etc.
     Jell-O is surprisingly easy to annoy.  And cheese spread on graham
crackers really is quite vile.  Especially on cinnamon graham crackers.  Over
thirty years on and my stomach still twists at that memory.

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