SW91: Hemmed In

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Mon Feb 8 17:57:14 PST 2010

Author's Note:  Yes, the tag is SW91.  As in Superhuman World 1991.

Every year in January, I give myself a break to decide whether I
really want to keep writing another year of that same old Superhuman
World story.  So far, the story has always insisted on being written,
no later than March.  I see lots of reason to continue this year.

This year during my break, I've been mining my old fiction to put on
the Web.  (Link available at http://www.eilertech.com/stories/startup.htm
.)  All these years I was afraid to read my old writing.  But when I
finally did, I discovered, I used to write a lot more dialog than I do
now!  In retrospect, that came naturally from spending the years
1983-1992 to write a story that ultimately took place 1990-1992.

What Has Gone Before: The year is 1991.  There are a few superhumans
around the world, but they're not public.  But four superhumans are
now students at Michigan State University.  After a series of
encounters, they've gone public, and arranged to work together if they
really need to.  They call themselves The Balance.  They are leading
ancestors of the Superhuman World 2010, and you might actually
recognize one or two of them as the year goes on.


Dennis Carlsberg, a biochemistry professor on the Michigan State
University campus, is conducting pharmaceutical experiments on human
subjects.  His objective is to determine ways to counteract addictive
substances.  At least, that's what he still tells his supervisor.

However, he's found a related goal to pursue on the side.  Some things
which can counteract an existing addiction can be made even more
addictive.  And there are customers for such things.

The Balance has come as close to setting up a team charter as they
ever will.  Namely, they've exchanged addresses and phone numbers to
use in case of emergency.

For Ellipsis, this exchange has become a formality.  The mental
control of Stephen Wolcott, ever expanding, is now at the point where
he can identify the minds of his teammates from across the campus.  If
need be, he's sure he can see them through the eyes of others, but
he's avoided that exercise so far.

Whereas Ellipsis can quickly summon his teammates, Mike Roberts can
quickly respond as the Mighty Tim.  He and Ellipsis are working on
pinpoint teleportation beyond line-of-sight distance.  Once he's able
to do this, he'll be able to go anywhere and bring any of the others
with him.  With Ellipsis to summon the team and with the Mighty Tim to
bring them together, they'll have a powerful advantage in battle.  And
with the Mighty Tim's leadership in battle plus Ellipsis to transmit
orders to the others, they're almost unbeatable.

Trouble is... Ellipsis is showing powerful leadership abilities
himself.  He bailed the rest of the Balance out against the last guy
they fought, and provided most of the team initiative.  Somehow, he
knew more about what was going on then.  And with his mental abilities
he can always have the final word when it comes to commanding the
team.  Maybe the Mighty Tim... maybe Mike Roberts isn't right to
command the team himself.

Captain Gonzo is honing his abilities.  Bob Brannigan, as a reserve
member· of the MSU gymnastics team, becomes more agile every week.
Soon he's doing incredibly showy stunts in practice - like flinging
himself across the room from one set of parallel bars to another.  The
coach is not amused by this.  But he does wonder how the NCAA will
respond to having a super-powered gymnast in collegiate competition.

Laura Greene, Morningstar, does not practice nearly as much as the
others.  She's agreed to work with the others in crisis situations,
but she's not going to look for trouble - and she sees no reason why
trouble should find her, if she lives a good life in the Lord.  Even
if it should, the power in her stone should handle it.

She still finds it hard to believe that she uses superpowers to fight
crime.  In part she's doing it because everybody should fight crime as
much as they can.  But she's starting to view her fellow heroes as a
mission field for the salvation of Christ.  And she feels the call to
be their minister.

Professor Carlsberg's experiments are proceeding apace.  His academic
supervisor is pleased with the results so far - and he s got a
nonacademic contact now, who's buying 'spare materials· from him and
marketing them on the street, These new drugs have effects never seen
before, like temporary enhancement of strength.  And that's only the

During gymnastics practice one day, one of the varsity team falls off
the vaulting horse during his routine.  He collapses in a cold shiver
as his teammates (with Bob Brannigan) rush over.  When he can no
longer deny it, he admits taking drugs to increase his strength.  It
was all so he could show the big deal Captain Gonzo what normal people
can do all the big deal tricks he can.  The coach says, “You goddamn

The next time Bob sees Mike and Stephen, he mentions it.  Stephen is
worried: this is a potential threat.  If strength can be enhanced
through drugs, what else might be increased?

Mike suggests an investigation of various professors in the Biology
department.  Stephen agrees - and says he'll do it himself.  Humans
can hide evidence from police, but they cannot hide guilt from

The next day, Professor Carlsberg is overcome by sudden - and
unexplainable! – remorse.  He turns himself in to the campus police.
They release him due to lack of evidence.  Ellipsis has taken all his
Soon, his customer comes to visit, saying, “The boss lady was
wondering why you...” and so on.  The professor suddenly realizes who
was behind his attack of conscience.  After he gets rid of his
visitor, he starts to take measures against the Balance.

A few days later, the professor calls all his student volunteers in
for a session.  In addition, he sends his lab assistant out to bring
people in off the streets.  He drugs them all.  Then he barricades the
door and starts making phone calls.  Soon the news is broadcast: a man
has taken hostages and is demanding that the Balance surrender to

The Balance assembles.  After heated debate, they decide the only
thing to do is to confront the professor directly in a frontal
assault.  They go to the Biology building: meeting the man's truce
conditions, but ready for battle.

The professor is holding session in a lecture hall, guarded by his
drugged students.  As the Balance comes in, he states:

“These people you see around me are obviously thralls of mine.  I
might warn you that I have increased their strength by means I won't
tell you about.  I can tell you this,, though: If you make any kind of
move against them with your powers, I can induce a massive heart
failure in each one from right here.'

Ellipsis lets his mind find the truth.  Mentally he tells his
teammates: "He 1ies.”

'How can you be sure?' thinks Mighty Tim.  The others concur.

Ellipsis is stymied (for the first time since he fought Domesday - and
against his own teammates this time).  He finally responds, mentally:
'Indeed, you do not know me.  Therefore you cannot trust me.  Have you
a course of action in the meantime?·

The Mighty Tim is now on the spot.  Ellipsis can feel his thoughts:
"No powers.  Fight him.  We could do it! Almost.”

Instantly Ellipsis responds again: "Suppose we all fight him without
long range power.  What would Enemy suspect If we each can defend

Mighty Tim has no response within the next three seconds.  Ellipsis
thus issues the orders.  Form a quadrant: Morningstar and Captain
Gonzo in front, Ellipsis and Mighty Tim in back.  No teleport,
telekinesis, frisbees, or mental powers.  Only defend self, and defeat
frontal attacks.

Captain Gonzo thinks "Aw, come on!” Ellipsis responds: You're strong

Morningstar thinks, “But what can I do?" Ellipsis responds: You have
power - even over yourself, when necessary.  Is necessary now.

The professor finally says, "Kill them!” But the Balance fights back.

Captain Gonzo, in front, holds his own against all comers.  Their
strength is barely below his, but he has the agility to meet them all
- and drive each one back.

Morningstar, in front, falls before the assault at first.  But she
thinks: No.  I mustn't! Stephen says I don't have to! There must be
some way...  She rises, and beats back the assaults.

Mighty Tim in back has no problem.  He thinks: What to do next?

Ellipsis in back has heightened his agility as never before, and is
calling upon his martial arts training.  His opponents are easily
defeated; several are crippled.  However, he can spare minimal mental
ability for battle direction.

He feels the Enemy: confounded.  He then feels Captain Gonzo:
frustrated - can't I do more? Ellipsis decides, and responds: Go!

As Professor Carlsberg wonders how the Balance can be resisting his
hyped-up subjects, Captain Gonzo leaps at him with a roundhouse
punch.  The professor dodges, but Gonzo follows up with a roundhouse

Professor Carlsberg is hit, and falls insensate.

The students still beat against the other three.  Morningstar, in
front, holds her own; Ellipsis and the Mighty Tim have no problem.
Ellipsis exerts his will now, against the drugged students: The attack
is not your command now.  They slow down, and finally mill about


As the Balance watches, Ellipsis tries to cure the drugged students of
the doctor's mental control.  Other than the first one, his effort is

Mighty Tim says, "There must have been some chemical cause for these
people following him.  So, there must be some chemical cure for them.
If we tell the Biology Department about it, they must be able to do
something.”  Ellipsis privately doubts it, but is more than willing to
relieve himself of the effort.  Mighty Tim calls the authorities.

The Balance retreat together, to a point by the Red Cedar River which
runs through the campus.  Captain Gonzo speaks first: ·So what did we
do? The guy drugged them, and they re still drugged!

Morningstar responds: "But he could have killed them!  And we stopped

Mighty Tim speaks: “Yes, we did.  But a lot of them were injured.”

Ellipsis enters the conversation.  “When my teachers taught me how to
fight, they taught me to defend myself completely.  And I did - and
you did also.  Those who attack us must expect to be injured.”

“But these people were my friends~' Mighty Tim responds.  "They signed
up for this guy’s lab course, and they weren't told about what he'd do
to them!  He just drugged them!  And they fought us, and we maimed

"Then what am I to do?" says Ellipsis.  Stephen Wolcott feels the
thrust of Mike Roberts' argument -against him personally.  "My 1ife
was at stake when they attacked me.  You - all of you - have power,
but I have nothing to stop them with - except for knowledge.”

“Stephen...” says Morningstar.  She and Captain Gonzo now feel the
argument between him and Mighty Tim, courtesy of his own mental
power.  "There must have been some other way.  If only we could have
seen it.”
"It was there~ There are ways to defeat an enemy without crippling
him~" says the Mighty Tim.  "I've brought them to their knees even
when they refused to acknowledge defeat!"

Ellipsis states: "In your fantasy matches, perhaps.  This is life.

	"But I still can ...”

“Enough.  If you know these ways - teach them to me.” Silence.

Ellipsis continues: “Do you not think I wanted to leave them alone?
That I wanted to let them go to damnation their own way and leave me
to mine?" Morningstar gasps.  "But they attacked me!”

The Mighty Tim thinks: Superheroing has never been serious to him -
but he can't assume it's the same way for everyone else, can he? He
responds: "Stephen... I can help.  I can train you."

"You have the knowledge the karate masters have missed?"

“...  I can tell you things the local teachers didn't, about how to
stop someone without crippling him.

With power like ours, we have to worry about things like that."

“Then... teach me! I wish to know!"


For the next weeks, Stephen Wolcott joins the jousting sessions
between the Mighty Tim and Captain Gonzo.  His ability grows.

Mike Roberts resolves: As a member of the team Ellipsis still has
rough edges - but he's working on them.  And Ellipsis has proven that
he can react faster than the Mighty Tim In combat situations.  So
Ellipsis is the leader now.  But the Mighty Tim still makes a powerful
advisor.  Maybe next time...

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