ASH: Coherent Super Stories #20 - Flag Line featuring Rechtigkeit II
Dave Van Domelen
dvandom at eyrie.org
Fri Apr 16 12:56:33 PDT 2010
The cover shows a view over the shoulder of a figure in yellow, white
and green armor of a woman in red, black and yellow. She carries an axe
nearly as tall as she is, and stares defiantly at the armored figure, her
blond hair falling over her face as she stands back up from the ruined
furniture she'd been knocked into. The shadows falling across her look
vaguely like a swastika.
.|, COHERENT An ASHistory Series
'|` SUPER STORIES #20 - Flag Line
Featuring Rechtigkeit II copyright 2010 by Dave Van Domelen
CODENAME REAL NAME POWERS
-------- --------- ------
Rechtigkeit II Sofie Rasch Mystic axe, superhuman physical stats
Onslaught Arnold Zugmann Genetically enhanced, advanced weaponry
Herr Stark Unrevealed Strongest man in the world
[Author's Note: All dialogue in this issue is in German, translated into
English (codenames like Rechtigkeit/Justice and Herr Stark/Mr. Strong not
[June 14, 1995 - Lower City, Khadam]
"So, y'gonna tell me where ta find Herr Stark now, punk?" the petite
blonde woman hefted the dazed bouncer up as high as she could, barely lifting
his feet off the floor. "Or do I hafta get mean?"
Everyone else in the bar had already been knocked out or run away,
testifying that Sofie Rasch's idea of "mean" apparently went beyond the sort
of casual violence she had just visited on the watering hole. She carried
the name of Rechtigkeit, but had already established herself as a much more
violent hero than the man who had worn West Germany's colors during the
Second Heroic Age.
"Why don't y'all set down the nice man and we kin have a chat, all
friendly-like?" a new voice asked from the doorway.
Sofie whirled, hardly noticing how the bouncer swung around like a
ragdoll in the process. An impressive figure in form-fitting body armor
stood in the damaged doorway, almost gingerly picking his way around the
shattered remains of the door itself.
"Onslaught," she hissed. "About time y'showed yer mug. Ya gotta know
sumpin' about Stark," she dropped the bouncer, who did not actually bounce.
"Oh, I know a lot about Herr Stark, missy. But I also know y'all're
violatin' sovereign territ'ry and lowerin' property values. Not that they
were all *that* high in this neighborhood, but it's the principle, see?"
Rechtigkeit suppressed a snicker. Onslaught was trying to come across
all suave and highborn, but what Khadam passed off as German made everyone
sound like country bumpkins. Came from being founded by a mix of Berbers
and...Thuringians, maybe. A bit hard to place, but definitely very rural.
To a Berliner like Sofie, it sounded almost comic.
"Cut th'crap, Zugmann," Sofie snarled, pushing the smile aside. "Word
on the street is Stark finally pissed off enough people t'get kicked outta
Haven, and he came here since it's about the only place wit'out outstandin'
warrants on the murderin' creep. A guy like dat doesn't do anytin' quiet,
so even if ya ain't harborin' him on purpose, y'gotta know where I can find
him and nail his hide t' a wall."
"Wellll," Onslaught drawled, starting to make a conscious effort to damp
down his accent, "much as I think Herr Stark would serve the world better as
wall decor, like I said there's principle to consider. A matter of the law
of the land, not some personal idea of justice," he sounded like he was
smirking behind the armored helmet. "Supervillains were kicked out years
ago, and if Stark is here, it's a mattah for OUR law enforcement. Well, the
members of law enforcement willing to face a psychotic murdering demihuman.
If'n y'all want t'help, apply at our embassy for an entry visa. Don't just
jump the border fence and start beatin' up our hard-workin' barmen."
Rechtigkeit rolled her eyes, although she'd finally gotten a good enough
mask that it hid her eyes from view without obscuring her vision. She felt
acutely aware that her costume was still pretty much just workout clothing in
patriotic colors with a hand-sewn sash, while Onslaught wore exquisitely
worked body armor adorned with the flag of Khadam on the chestplate. She
felt like Cinderella after the spell wore off and the dress turned back to
rags. But she hid those feelings behind bluster. "Please. That threadbare
excuse? Everyone knows Haven's part of Khadam, regardless of any legal
fictions ya may got goin'."
Onslaught chuckled. "Be that as it may, but at least I'm here all
official-like. Duly appointed representative of my government, on my home
soil. I hear the German government barely tolerates your use of the name,
and Ah seriously doubt they gave you sanction t'violate our sovereignty."
"Justice and law aren't always the same thing. Justice and diplomacy
are almost never the same thing," Sofie countered. "But I'm pretty sure that
if I serve the needs of justice and bring back Herr Stark's head, the
politicians will find a way to forgive me my 'violations' against you."
"Serving justice, or servin' Rechtigkeit? Ah, never mind that, you
patriotic blond legacy heroes are a lot alike, you know? You, the new Lady
Lawful, the new Brightsword...draped in the flag and just *oozin'* righteous
rage. Hear Brazil's blonde flag lady is more mellow, but Ah also hear she
ain' really blonde," Onslaught chuckled. "Be int'restin' t'find out, ah?"
"Pig," Sofie hissed, swinging her oversized axe in a thrumming arc that
would have separated the Khadamite's head from his shoulders had he not
leaned back just barely enough. In fact, the very tip caught on the armor of
his right shoulderpad due to a slight twist he performed just after it seemed
like the miss would be clean. As a result, Rechtigkeit stumbled slightly and
flubbed her attempt at a backswing.
"Verra nice, good power, Ah see y'anticipated a dodge," Onslaught
commented as he took advantage of her stumble to fully knock the axe aside.
"Consider'n y'ain't been at this much more'n a year, that's pretty good," he
added as he kicked her savagely in the midriff, sending the petite Berliner
flying across the bar into one of the few tables left unmarred by her earlier
activities. Despite it, though, she never lost her grip on the axe.
Picking herself up, Rechtigkeit said, "Yer strong an' fast, but'cher not
para. I c'n keep dis up all day, c'n you?"
"Oh, I can keep it up as long as y'all like, little lady," Onslaught
leered. "Care ta retire t'more private accommodations and see?"
Sofie hurled the largest of the tabletop pieces at Onslaught, who ducked
out of the way. "Are you tryin' t'get me in yer bed?" she asked,
"Bed, livin' room floor, bathtub...whatever works, sweetie. Don't tell
me all this roughhousin' in tight-fittin' outfits doesn't get y'blood up."
Sofie put down the barstool she had been about to throw, a disgusted
moue on her face. "Screw this. Screw you...no, UNscrew you. You ain't
gettin' in my pants, and if yer gettin' off on fightin' me, I'm outtahere.
Y' mebbe can dodge my attacks, but I doubt y'can hurt me either."
"Fine, fine...if this isn't to end enjoyably, let's let it just end an'
go our sep'rit ways," Onslaught held up his hands placatingly. "Stark ain'
round here no mo'. We let him 'find out' about a piece of tech held in a
lab in Grenada that might be to his likin', and he took off to try to steal
it. Hopefully he won't realize that the security's not as light as we let
him believe, and someone else will find him more permanent accomodations."
"I'll be back if you're lying about this," she warned.
"Oh, on my honor as a gentleman, it's the truth," Onslaught averred.
"One moah thing..."
Without warning, Rechtigkeit's world turned upside down and inside out,
like the worst of the drug trips she'd been on before finding the axe. She
was faintly aware of a horrible, terrible KEENING sound that bit deep into
her brain and turned her nerves to conduits of fire, but the effects vastly
overwhelmed the cause. She felt the fire pour out of her belly as Onslaught
extended claws through slits in the fingertips of his gloves and raked a hand
across her midsection before dropping her with a hammerblow of his other
"...Ah CAN hurt y'all," Onslaught proclaimed through the shimmering fog
that Sofie seemed to be wrapped in. He took off his helmet to reveal a mane
of very leonine, tawny hair and a slightly fanged smile. Then he spit on her
face. "You would have enjoyed my bed a great deal more than my scorn, little
lady. Although I can't guarantee it wouldn't have left you just as dazed and
He reseated his helmet and started to walk from the bar, waving away
someone outside who was just outside of Sofie's range of vision. Before he
too, left her sight, he paused. "By the way, for your sake Ah hope y'all
don't find Herr Stark. He's beaten me both times we fought. Y'all wouldn't
stand a chance, and sharing *his* bed would leave you worse than dazed."
"What makes y'think I'd..." Sofie slurred, slowly getting back to her
feet and leaning on the haft of her axe. Truthfully, she hadn't been hurt
all that much by the savage attack, it had simply been overwhelming at the
time and left her stunned. The clawmarks on her now-bare belly were more
like scrapes than cuts.
"What makes *y'all* think Herr Stark asks a lady? Especially one
durable enough to last him long enough t'finish his business? Why do y'all
think a den of outlaws and villains like Haven would kick out someone so
powerful? Try t'put two and two t'gether, Ms. Rasch. Y'all seem like a nice
enough blonde flagsuit, and while Ah must admit taking you down a peg right
now was quite satisfyin', there's only a very few women Ah'd want t'see
attracting Stark's 'romantic' attentions. Y'ain't one a' them."
The haze was gone now, and Rechtigkeit fell into a fighting stance.
"Fine. Warning taken. Round two?" she beckoned with her free hand, lightly
holding the massive axe as if it were no heavier than a tennis racket.
Onslaught shook his head. "This place is surrounded by mah men now, and
they're all equipped so's t'fight while Ah scream. Leave now, or we mail you
back t'Germany in a box. With airholes, if y'all don't catch an unlucky
plasma bolt to th' brainpan."
Sighing, Rechtigkeit relaxed her stance, but then with lightning
swiftness turned and smashed a through the wall, widening a hole that had
been started during the earlier "information gathering" session and leaping
away across the rooftops of the lower city.
Heedless of whether any of the troops might be in earshot, Onslaught
sighed. "Damn, now Ah got a hankerin' for a blonde who can take a little
punishment. Wonder if that clone Unca Hans's been workin' on's ready for a
little test drive...?"
Written for High Concept Challenge #8, "Opposites". While both
"flagsuits" for German-speaking nations, Onslaught and Rechtigkeit otherwise
embody a LOT of oppositions. Male/Female. "Bad German" vs. "Good German".
Highly trained officially sanctioned operative on the one hand, enthusiastic
amateur operating on her own on the other hand. Cynical, leering opportunist
versus idealist. Someone who's always known his role at the top versus
someone who found her place only after hitting the bottom. Aristocrat versus
commoner, rural versus urban. Normaltech (Onslaught is a mix of alien
technology and Doctor Sheng's non-Magene genetic tinkering) versus magic.
While it's not as obvious as it usually is, I did try to write this as
a sort of period piece, as I do most issues of CSS. The period in question,
though, was the mid-90s. The days of replacement heroes and Women in
Refrigerators. Of casual city-killing brutality to show how edgy a new
villain was, that sort of thing. The retro-Silver Age movement was well
underway as a reaction to much of this stuff, of course, but I figure that in
whatever universe actually printed comics like the Brightsword scripts I've
written, there would also have been some stories that embodied the worst
trends of the 90s. This is one of them.
As replacement figures go, Sofie Rasch's Rechtigkeit is probably closest
in spirit to Kyle Rayner. She had no connection to the previous holder of
the name other than the weapon both use, and the previous hero met a rather
ignominious fate. Rather than turning into a supervillain, though, the first
Rechtigkeit was killed by his own murderous son, Herr Stark. Herr Stark's
costume (http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH/gallery/herrstark.JPG) is a
deliberate riff on Superman's, a comment on various "Dark Superman"
characters like Hank Henshaw. It's the same axe in that picture and in
http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH/gallery/rechtigkeit.JPG, which should give
you some idea of the size difference between Herr Stark and Sofie.
Brightsword II is more like a Wally West figure, brought up by the
predecessor and encouraged to grow into the role. Lady Lawful II, on the
other hand, is more of a Jesse Quick (circa her earliest appearances,
anyway), daughter to a legacy but steered away from it as long as possible.
I made up the Brazilian flagsuit just to have another example for this story,
and I haven't decided who the clone in the last paragraph is a copy of, so
there's a few loose ends out there if any other writers would like to pick
them up. :)
In the generation between 1995 and the 2020s, the Khadam accent has
shifted significantly, due in part to the influx of refugees from other parts
of Africa after 1998's events, as well as the deaths of all the original Nazi
soldiers and most of their children due to old age (Arnold's uncle Hans
survives as a brain in a jar). The idea to have the Zugmanns speak in "hick
Deutsch" comes from the fact that Erwin Rommel was Swabian and his native
dialect of German was pretty incomprehensible to Allied translators (a point
made in the Desert Peach comic). The remaining old guard (mostly third
generation and some fourth) probably still speaks German with a pronounced
Upper Saxon accent, but they're a shrinking minority. Central African tone
patterns are likely starting to filter into the street patois, mixing with
the Berber elements, despite Khadam's central media striving to homogenize
the spoken language.
Hey, Tony may be the one with a degree in linguistics, but that doesn't
mean I can't dabble in it too. ;)
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