SW10: December 2010 #5: Cauldron Book II Part 5 (of 7)

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Sun Mar 27 16:10:18 PDT 2011

What Has Gone Before.

Summer Morgan and her friends Holly, Liz, and Margaret Jean have been superhuman 
agents for the United States in Nashville. Holly's been captured. When the U.S. 
Government says it can't rescue her, Summer and all her friends resign to mount 
their own rescue mission, to a lodge along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. 
But Government agents are guarding the mission site. As they confront each 
other, a car charges at them. They stop it, but Summer's old enemy Imperilus 
jumps out.


Body Up
Operations Report
Thursday, December 9, 2010

I heard Brett's voice on a loudspeaker from the bus! *"Perpetrator, you are 

The trunk of the car bashed open from inside. Imperilus stood up with two 
machine guns, and said, "The HELL I Am!"

I needed cover. As Imperilus started shooting, I ducked under the car.

The car started rocking. The two nearest creatures were climbing up it! I had to 
get out! But I wasn't fast enough. As I rolled out from under, the car came down 
on my foot! I must have screamed.

It rocked back up. I knew I had to move some more; I just couldn't.

Then Liz was there, dragging me away. No one was shooting; at least the 
creatures had Imperilus occupied. Margaret Jean was off wrestling one of the 
creatures or something. I'm not sure what I saw there...

The next thing I saw was the lounge inside the bus! Someone had removed my 
glasses. And the bus was moving! Oh, no! Was the whole bus captured, by whoever 
had brought the creatures?

I stayed silent, closed my eyes, and just listened. When I opened my eyes again 
I'd make it count.

A man in a surgical mask said, "She's conscious. This is a strong woman."

Margaret Jean said, "We know."

I dared a glance. She knew what I was thinking. She said, "Summer, you're safe now."

"What happened?"

The stranger said, "You broke two bones in your foot."

"Besides that!"

Margaret Jean said, "We got Imperilus. But he didn't have Holly."

"What!?  *Please* tell me I can interrogate him."

"No way. You think we want to hold him? USIB took him. But now they have this 
sort of brain thing that keeps him sedated. And they finally brought out their 
'professional' interrogator."

"Can I at least watch?"

"Nope. We had to take you for help."

"Arrrh!... What about those creatures? Did they maybe take Holly?"

Mel the bus driver said, "No they didn't. They're with me. I thought you knew 
about my toe golems. Norma knows. So do MJ and Liz."

Margaret Jean said, "We call him Toejam. He was with us before you joined. One 
of his golems helped protect you. The others beat up Imperilus, with a little 
help from a sonic gun Brett came up with. So yeah, he's good."

I said, "Uh, okay... But Holly was nowhere around! How could they give us her 
signal without her there?"

"They knew about Brain2Web. Imperilus said he dug that thing out of her brain 
himself with his own pocket knife. But they must have had a real surgeon ready."

"... You mean *you* got to interrogate Imperilus?"

"Yep. He was in charge of Holly after she was captured. He didn't want to let 
her go because she wasn't trained yet, but this one customer really wanted her - 
in Massachusetts! We're on our way to meet Norma and the others there."

"Aw, dammit. Norma was on to something!  *Please* tell me I can help."

"That's up to the doctor..."

The doctor spoke. "Young lady, you're certainly not fit for your sort of action, 
but there's no reason you can't observe from safety. If you can tolerate being 
safe, that is."

Margaret Jean said, "Thank you, Doctor Help. Do you need us to drop you off 

"Please, when I'm on a house call, Doc Help is good enough. But no, thank you. 
I'll find my own way out." There was a pop, and he disappeared!


So Margaret Jean got the job done despite me, as much as she could. And you were 
already getting ready for what needs to happen next, Norma. I'm so sorry I 
doubted you.


Body Up
Operations Report
Monday, December 13, 2010

I refuse to be helpless to rescue Holly. I can at least come up with those news 
briefings like USIB used to give us. And now I'm finally noticing the news from 
everyplace other than where I am.

     * There's some new sort of plague in Europe. Cargo planes have shipped 
German Jews to Oregon for clinical testing of a new drug. Denmark's been heavily 
affected too; they've withdrawn their military and political support from 
Greenland. Cuba has sent advisers and some military to Greenland to fill the 
void. The U.S. is too busy to care.
     * There's a civil war in China, and nobody's quite sure where all their 
nukes and rockets are. Today, North Korea did a missile test into the Pacific, 
with a surprisingly powerful rocket - and a live nuke! The electro-magnetic 
pulse on it blew out fuses in Alaska, and they're starting to look for fallout 
in Seattle. An aircraft carrier left its base at Puget Sound just to avoid 
     * There's gang warfare up and down the west coast. Gang lords are blowing 
up buildings in Seattle... My mom is there. My kids are there, with my 
ex-husband. I wish I were back home.

I used to watch the news like a spectator. Now it's like I have to ride it.

I also re-read the briefing papers on Imperilus. He has a history with the guy 
who's probably captured Holly, which explains why he helped capture Holly. And a 
lot of this stuff never got published, even though the World Journal Monthly has 
notes on it. And they publish everything, don't they? Just not on this guy. 
What's going on?

     * Imperilus the Exterminating Son is also known as Joe Johnson. He's the 
son of Sam Johansen, commander of the Last Army, a faction of superhumans who 
fought the world throughout the late 1990s. Sam Johansen's partner was Philippe 
St. Joseph Lateran.
     * Imperilus was a sub-commander who helped exterminate a large group of 
Subhumans. It's odd now that there were two Subhumans in the facility with him 
in Tennessee... or it might explain it.
     * Imperilus did not get along well with his father. The Weekly World 
Journal mentioned how they abused each other once - as observed by Lateran himself.
     * When aliens invaded in 1999, Imperilus's father Sam brought the Last Army 
into alliance with the rest of Earth. Good for him. And Sam died heroically.
     * After most of the Last Army was brought to justice (practically all 
amnesty), Imperilus spent some time as a professional wrestler, then went to 
visit his father's old friend Philippe, at a church in Willow Farm, Illinois. 
Right about then, Philippe's shit hit the fan, because he'd abducted someone in 
a political plot. Soldiers and superhumans busted the church.
     * Philippe had no amnesty, because he was a bona fide war criminal... just 
like Imperilus. But Imperilus escaped. He confronted the Ultimate Darkness at 
Willow Farm, and then went on a quest for it. He didn't win. But he survived. 
Now I know, there's not enough power to throw at this guy the next time he's a 
problem. Now I'm glad he's someone else's problem. And I'm glad we're going 
after his associate Lateran now.

... Oh, damn. Now that I have to keep track of the news, I'm writing in bullets 
for PowerPoint like USIB did.

We saw a convoy of school buses headed back for where we came from. There were 
grown men on board. Oh, damn, militias are probably still assembling at Nashville.

We got into a campground in Douglas, Massachusetts late at night. Norma greeted 
us. So did militiamen - and a gorilla! Norma said, "Questions later. Dinner first."

So we had soup for dinner. We all eat lots of soup nowadays, because we all want 
to boil all the nutrients off everything. They said this was duck blood soup. I 
believe it. And Norma answered questions.

Philippe St. Joseph Lateran is back! His sister Eve St. Marie made a deal with 
the Devil to get him liberated from the Vampire Pirates of Tuvalu. Now he's got 
Holly as his personal attendant! His mental powers make people naturally follow 
him or whomever he wants. And not just people...

Yesterday in Douglas, the gorilla who's with us had to run from other gorillas - 
and an overmind! Lateran's freed the apes from one of the Massachusetts zoos. 
His mental powers are strong enough to make even apes obey him. They don't fire 
guns, but they can pick up clubs and slug people with the best of them. So 
they're great for crowd control. One of the gorillas broke free, though. And it 
knew sign language! A militia woman interpreted for it.

Lateran has moved in to the best (or at least most convenient) hotel in New 
England outside the major cities: the Ferg Hotel in Douglas! With him here, it 
is a luxury hotel where they garden in the rain. He's very demanding.

But Norma's ready for him. We're all here. The town militia will help us. Norma 
has a couple of superhumans on call too; she won't tell us who, just in case 
Lateran can read minds (though we think he can't). But his days are numbered - 
and the number is one. We move against Lateran tomorrow!

... To Be Continued.


Author's Notes:

This episode is large because I'm bringing in history. (I really should move the 
episode boundary on my inevitable rewrite.) Part of the purpose of this story is 
to bring closure to old history. It's about time.

I'm bringing some reality merge concepts in, DC 1986 style. Otherwise it becomes 
too complicated to describe how my superhumans mostly come from one Earth and my 
humans come from another, thanks to a reality shift of 2005. (DC 1986 largely 
simplified their own story the same way after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, 
even though some DC 1985 stories after the Crisis had the heroes still being 
from different Earths.)

Some plot concepts (particularly the apocalypse signs, the buses, and the ape) 
came from dreams of mine throughout November and December 2010. The apocalypse 
signs are meshing nicely with both the old Earth 2011 story and the real world news.

Regretfully, I might have to delay the final two episodes. They're going to be 
so big, I might need to use my wargame table to resolve the combat. Currently 
that table is busy resolving a Superhuman World 2007 plot: How would the 
American Civil War have ended if Virginia had declared for the Union? 
(http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2007/raleigh.htm, The Siege of Raleigh)

The good news is, this delay will give me more time for Superhuman World 2011. 
The apocalypse is already well under way there.  By the rules of my world, this 
is the year of both a Black Arts Challenge and a DuoPolarity Incident, both of 
which most of my readership has not yet seen. Planet-altering forces are coming 
in place, waiting for a trigger... such as the next plot concept from 
Rec.Arts.Comics.Creative might provide. Watch out!

I often contemplate leaving off these fine stories. But it never seems to happen.

Credits: Doc Help is a character created by Jim Harrison. The rest of these 
characters are © copyright 2011 by Eiler Technical Enterprises.

This episode is online at http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2010/cauldron9.htm .

(signed) Scott Eiler, March 2011.

(signed) Scott Eiler  8{D> -------- http://www.eilertech.com/ ---------

Only their myths concerned peace and contentment, and that in such a
coercive, sullen package it was obvious that the Earth humans resented
the very idea.

- from "Passing" by Elaine Radford, Aboriginal SF, May/June 1987.

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