SW10, CONTEST: August 2010 #1: Predecessors

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Thu Sep 23 16:37:21 PDT 2010

Predecessors.   Commentator: Wyatt Ferguson. (11 Aug)

Crops are failing, even more than usual. There could actually be not
enough crops for the whole world.

In the United States, grocery stores are planning to close their major
branches in September. There is still some produce to live by in
farmers' markets, but the corporations of the Western world do not
want Internet photos of Communist-style queues for produce.

In our world, superhumans are powerful enough to try to control crop
fertility - even when the Earth's orbit has been shifted to be colder.
But crop control isn't working. So there's popular demand for
reversion of superheroes.


A lot of us superhumans have predecessors.

    * For me, it's my grandpa who's a long-living commando, due to
infected blood which runs in my family - but it only works as
resurrection-style "rapid healing" once. (I already cashed in.)
          o Grandpa fought his way with the U.S. Army through North
Africa and into Italy, but meanwhile got himself assigned to "rear
elements" without having to either fight or command. Yay, Grandpa! (I
think he cashed in his resurrection card too.)
    * For most everyone else, it's their World War 2 counterparts who
weren't immune to bullets and died early on.

We superhumans all have enemies now, in much the same way every U.S.
President has during midterm elections, and for much the same reasons.
Now that the Earth is swinging away from the Sun and the crops are
failing, the current administration is getting the blame, along with
every superhuman who tried to help.

A lot of our enemies are militiamen. I once worked with militias, but
we separated. My old enemy Evil Mayor Anvernacht has joined the
movement, though. He's out on bail for trying to beat up a lawyer who
once indicted him. Anvernacht candidly admitted, "I would have
defended myself better, but I had allergies here in Montana." (9 Aug;

It seems our enemies are trying to summon our predecessors. Our world
has evil magicians who can do this. They congregate online. Auge von
Shaitan has volunteered to lead this project, with Black Brady and
some other "black mages" assisting.

We have a very public superheroine named Morningstar. (Hi, Julie!) She
has a very public predecessor, also named Morningstar. (Hi, Laura!)
But the predecessor's a bit too recent for Our Villains, so they ask
for something farther back. Auge von Shaitan is only too happy to


On Wednesday August 11, in the remote town of Cut Bank, Montana, a
ceremony was performed in the cemetery nearest the center of town.
Other cemeteries ring the neighboring communities, like an
amphitheater. Auge von Shaitan says, this is significant. So the
militiamen flow in from much of the U.S. Northwest.

I was there to watch, incognito. I care (negatively) about people who
^*(% about with magic. So does the United States Government. The Vice-
President and I actually go way back, because we both cared first. So
I am now a National Security Adviser ... I can't believe I'm actually
saying that.

As a Federal operative, I have to be more careful than often I am.
Mystics doing spells will quickly recognize me, and so will militiamen
and evil politicians - unless I blend in somehow. Unfortunately, biker
dudes aren't having any convention there today, so I can't get
protective coloration from them. But a troop of Shakespearean actors
sanctioned by the state of Montana is visiting town. (Really.) They've
heard of me.

    * I actually have some reputation among actors, based on a one-act
play I wrote in 2004, based on the world being halfway to apocalypse
in 2011. The play's starting to get some theater action now, based on
how I've actually been right so far,
    * Among actors, reputation is everything. So I can put on a
disguise and some tights with this troop, rush onstage with fairies as
they do "A Midsummer's Night's Dream", and look like I belong. And
then I can legitimately hang around with them in town, as an actor.


On the day of the ceremony, it was approaching 100 degrees outside.
During all this magic, someone figured it might be a good idea to make
the Earth warmer since the crops weren't getting enough sunlight. Auge
von Shaitan was perfectly willing to grant this request along with the
other one, at least during the ceremony.

    * The requesters weren't paying attention. There's been enough
sunlight to keep the Earth warm; our mutant supergenius scientist led
a team to bring more sunlight in from other universes. The crops
failed anyway, for reasons of their own.
    * Cut Bank is ranch country, favored by militiamen. In the ranches
of northern Montana, it gets up to at least 80 degrees every day
anyway. More heat than that is just extreme.

Some World War 2 sidekicks were taking turns addressing the crowd like
they were Captain America... What's this about sidekicks? Well, Auge
von Shaitan got what he could. He couldn't bring back any of the
righteous heroes who'd gone to Heaven. But he got some of their

    * My grandpa wasn't there, thank God. Grandpa always had more
sense than that. Besides, he's still alive and can't be summoned by
necromancy - or by anything short of a visit to his cabin in Labrador.
    * The Golden Age Ellipsis wasn't there either. Stephen Oliver
Samuels, or SOS, died righteously fighting Nazis in 2006.
    * But some of the others introduced themselves. There was a
Crusher Joe Jones, a Mighty Tim Melloc, a Stonewater Smith, and a Pug
Nelson Championis Federus. That is to say, all Golden Age predecessors
for my world.
    * The predecessors were strutting around like members of a boxing
league. I think they were all in one in 1944. The U.S. Gov was raiding
youth boxing clubs for young patriotic hero recruits then.

Auge von Shaitan then promised the greatest predecessor of all: the
original Morningstar! He then plucked out his own eye, and held it up.
(In German, his name means "Eye of Satan". He's acting like that's

    * In a line of people next to him, people plucked out body parts
and hold them up, all without bleeding! Well, not much bleeding. Evil
Mayor Anvernacht detached his legs, and Black Brady actually pulled
out his spine! There were enough parts to form a whole body.
    * The two legs started walking. A spine jumped up to perch on
them, then two arms and a skull. Then they started picking up body
parts. The end result was about seven feet tall, with red skin,
hooves, and horns. It looked around at all the people who ripped their
body parts out for it, and sneered.

The Devil had been summoned. Gah! I've just seen The Devil! Or some
thing that claims to be the Christian concept of Lucifer, anyway.

But then there was a commotion at the edge of the cemetery. A local
church was protesting the ceremony! They weren't saying "God Hates
Fags", just "You Dishonor the Dead"; they didn't like any sort of
public relations around ceremonies. The actors were keeping well away
from the churchlings based on general aversion, and I was with the

Militiamen usually just keep protesters away from cemeteries during
ceremonies. But the Devil said something, and the militiamen came out.
They grabbed three protesters, including the pastor. The rest ran

In the confusion, I got a little closer and heard more dialog. The
Devil started speaking: "Your flock seems to have deserted you,
shepherd. How like Jesus. Are you ready to die like him?"

The pastor mumbled something. He seemed a lot less defiant after
seeing the Devil up close.

"Well then. Would any of you die to save this man?"

Uh oh, this was getting ugly. As the senior (only) Federal agent on
site and as a former dead guy, I figured I might have to intervene. So
I started uploading my usual-format report - because that's what I was
really there for. In my world, when someone's paying me, the job comes

But one of the boxers spoke before I could react. "You demon. I wasn't
the best person, but I didn't get to be Championis Federus by backing

"Oh, a challenge."

"Yep. Take your best shot."

"I didn't say this was a boxing match. Back to Hell with you." The
Devil gestured, and Pug Nelson the Championis Federus went Poof.

The Devil turned back to the crowd and said, "This worm didn't
actually give up his life for anyone. He lost only what I gave him.
Who among you would really die to save someone?"

The other resurrected boxers yelled, but the Devil said, "I wasn't
talking to you. Who else?"

By then I was finally ready to join in. But I couldn't be heard above
the crowd. Militiamen weren't expecting this, and they were not
standing still when they saw violence in a cemetery against a war

The Devil said, "Enough." He swept his arm. Everyone except his body
donors fell back - all the way to the edge of the cemetery.

"Ungrateful slugs. I spit on that you offer me, even the child bride
you brought me. Everyone offers me that much, even though I already
own all your world. I will harvest you all as you die by ice."

The Devil then walked down the line of body part donors. Each took
their own part back - Mayor Anvernacht last, because he got the Legs
of Satan.

The Donors of Satan then walked away. The crowd started yelling again.
But Auge von Shaitan said, "No. My Master said this is over." He
gestured, and the Satanists disappeared in a cloud.


The actors and I went away in the confusion. We resolved to let it
go... but with a bit of online commentary from each of us. Here's
mine, thank you.

The actors think the whole thing was special effects. I know something
about what Auge von Shaitan can do, so I think he summoned something
that claimed to be the Christian Satan. And then it totally refused to
do its summoners' bidding. Satanists, Fail!

I wonder what Auge von Shaitan was thinking. Of course anything as
powerful as The Devil has its own mind, and won't just do what you
want it to when it's summoned. But now that I think about it, there
was absolutely no effort to confine The Devil in a circle. (It
probably scatters its body parts to avoid summoning.) Maybe von
Shaitan just wanted an excuse for a Satanist gathering.

The surviving "Predecessors" went away with militiamen. A couple of
Predecessors wanted to go find descendants, but they had no way to get
there without help. Still, some descendants may be in for a surprise.
Yes, it's good to support our returning soldiers even beyond the
grave... but I think there may be some issues.

Five days later, the militiamen got bad publicity because one of their
student members and a Chinese businessman seduced each other for gay
sex, then tried to blackmail each other. Oddly enough, that scandal
was bigger news than actually summoning Satan. But at least the
militiamen look silly.

I'm glad to not have discovered my grandpa in this. When last I met
him, he'd retired to Labrador and didn't care how cold the Earth may

As for everyone else who got dragged back for this: Welcome back to
life. You may find our world really is being dragged down to Hell.


Author's Notes:  I turned this story in a bit early, because I'm going
to be busy this weekend.  I'm about done with personal soap opera
stuff in my life, but I still have one Moving Day ahead.

I wrote this story for our latest challenge, on time for once. Also
for once, I wrote like I wanted to win. I took advice from others
about throwing some extra challenge into the mix.  No, my heroes are
not going to fight The Devil for the fate of the world, but there may
be some excitement short of that.  I also took my own advice about
letting one's own character be a major prick. Some people write
sympathetic Devils - but if The Devil can't be a major prick, who

This is the full story, but you can see it with online formatting at
http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2010/predecessors.htm .  I'll add
some more links over time, for instance to explain that "former dead
guy" stuff.

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