ASH/HCC: Coherent Super Stories #32 - Making Contract

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Fri Jul 5 14:15:57 PDT 2013

     [Cover shows Doctor Developer at a crudely-constructed roadside stand
with a sign reading "Psychotic Help - 5 cents" with a line of low-grade
supervillains stretching off the edge of the frame.  At the head of the line
is an embittered round-headed kid with a pictographic speech bubble
describing his desire for an exploding football.]

 .|, COHERENT                                            An ASHistory Series
 '|` SUPER STORIES                        #32 - "Making Contract"
        Featuring Terra-Soar            copyright 2013 by Dave Van Domelen
     and Doctor Developer                         and Andrew Burton

[August 12, 1994 - Detroit, Michigan]

     Terra-Soar had that look of someone who was deliberately restraining
herself from looking around nervously.  "I'm here," she said, shedding the
bulky coat that hid her furled wings.  The stony skin and marble-veined
reptilian wings identified her better than any code or passcard could.

     A moment passed, followed by the sound of a stack of buckets being
shaken up-and-down.  After the noise settled, Doctor Developer stepped around
of the parking lot ramp.  He continued up the ramp until he was standing in
front of Terra-Soar.  "So am I."

     "They say you're the guy to go to for big-leagues stuff that doesn't
need a freak factor."

     Doctor Developer shrugged.  "I build stuff," he almost mumbled.  "What
did you have in mind?"

     "Well, you know my M.O., right?  Do something flashy and petty, stay out
of reach of the cops, then bail before anything heavy shows up."

     "I assume you're looking to be...ah...heavy?"

     "Nope.  See, the thing no one knows yet is that while I'm grabbing all
the camera-shots, my brother is working the crowd, or doing a little light
looting.  But he's a normal, and I'm worried someone's eventually going to
notice him and assume he's a super.  I want something that'll let him...I
dunno, have a better chance.  Armor, or stealth, or a decent weapon.  So he
can live long enough to escape."

     Doctor Developer scratched the back of his head.  His face turned up to
look at the ceiling of the parking deck.  "Stealth is impractical.  Armor
would stand out."  He cocked his head and looked at Terra-Soar.  "Is this for
cops or a nemesis?"

     Terra-Soar shrugged.  "I don't really have a nemesis yet, Detroit hasn't
had dedicated flying heroes since the 70s.  For now, probably cops, although
that Lady Lawful might be observant enough to spot my brother while fuming
and shaking her fist at me from the ground."

     Doctor Developer's posture stiffened for a second, then he relaxed
slightly.  "A weapon then.  Non-lethal, makes a distraction.  That way he can
get away.  How much can you spend?"

     She pulled a small bundle from her coat and tossed it to the inventor.
"This much up front, I can match it in cash on delivery.  More, if you don't
mind jewelry that might be traceable...I figure a guy like you could use
diamonds for something other than lookin' pretty."  She paused, slightly
embarrassed.  "We've been really lucky so far...that wad might not be enough
to set anyone up for life, but right now, well, it's just money, right?
Spend it smart or it's no good, my mom always said."

     Doctor Developer made a noise that sounded somewhere between, "Mm-hm,"
and non-committal.  He was already trying to think of what he could put
together for the bundle.  He had a few things in the works, prototype
extensions for his robots.  They could be modified for handheld use.  Maybe
amped up a bit if Terra-Soar would be okay with activating them before a
snatch...although if her brother tried to pickpocket an anchor and got caught
because of a disabled, regular power source.  Nothing exotic.

     "What's your timeline?  When do you need it done?"

     She considered that for a moment.  "I figure we can lay low for about a
month before we have to start eating into the project budget, which would
mean either pulling another job without the new widget to pay you, or you
letting us pay the balance after delivery...which I kinda doubt you're
trusting enough for."

     "You called me this time.  How do I get in touch with you?"

     "There's a slip of paper in with the cash.  My brother says you use that
Oozenet thing, there's a Peachy Peeky or whatever, and a list of groups he

     "I don't know what that means," Doctor Developer said with no
inflection.  Before Terra-Soar could reply, he raised his hand, "But I'll
figure it out.  Give me two weeks, and I'll get back in touch with you with
some samples."  He looked around.  "Ok?"

     "Sounds good."  She backed up to the edge of the garage and fell
backwards over the low barrier, turning it into a glide that took here away
from the place too quickly for any potential witnesses to realize where she'd
come from or where she was was clear that despite her flashy
reputation she could be very hard to see if she wanted it.

     Doctor Developer tucked the bundle in his coat pocket and headed out the
way he came in...or up to the parking deck.  Rounding the corner three
bipedal robots clattered forward, their motion sensors triggered by his
movements.  Doctor Developer absently waves his hand at the three, a small,
infrared light up his sleeve sending out the all-clear signal.  They stepped
back into line.

    "Time to get to work," he said to no one but himself.


Editor's Notes:

     Collaboration has a history of gumming things up in ASH...witness how
the entire output of three ASH writers was the three issues of Capstone the
year it came out.  We'd cranked out a few dozen issues in the year before.
So I approached High Concept Challenge #37 with some skepticism.  But I
decided to go with a simple vignette using Google Drive to write in
alternating fashion with Andy.

     One lesson learned...if you set Google Drive documents to use straight
quotes and your collaborator doesn't, you can't easily globally undo the
curly quote crap.  I had to copy it into Word and do cut and paste search and
replace to get it in shape for copying into a straight text file.

     The premise for Terra-Soar was that she was a C-lister who only lasted
as long as she did in Detroit because there weren't any fliers in the city in
the mid-90s, so as long as she scarpered before helicopters could box her in,
she could act with relative impunity, distracting people from her brother's
larcenous activities.  But as things progressed, I felt I was making her a
little too competent, hence the "Oozenet" line...she's not all that tech-
savvy, although probably about average for someone in the mid-90s without a
college education.

     Andrew had no notes to add, but he did say that the choice of the date
lines up with a period where Doctor Developer was trying to make some quick
cash so he could move out of Detroit.


     For all the back issues, plus additional background information, art,
and more, go to !

     To discuss this issue or any others, either just hit "followup" to this
post, or check out our Yahoo discussion group, which can be found at !

     There's also a LiveJournal interest group for ASH, check it out at (if
you're on Facebook instead, there's an Academy of Super-Heroes group there


More information about the racc mailing list