[ASH] ASH #122 - City of Night Part 3: Sub illa Umbra

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at eyrie.org
Wed Feb 14 19:21:48 PST 2018

     [cover shows a group of people in winter clothing huddled around
      a burning sofa against an absolutely dark night.  The harsh 
      shadows they cast on the alley walls are twisted into demonic
      shapes that seem to be mocking their plight.]

 '|`  /|(`| |   City of Night Part 3 of 6 - Sub illa Umbra
     /-|.)|-|        copyright 2018 by Dave Van Domelen

                       ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES ROLL CALL

CODENAME       REAL NAME                POWERS                   ASSIGNMENT
--------       ---------                ------                   ----------
Solar Max      Jonathan Zachary         Spacetime Control        AMERICA
                 "JakZak" Taylor
Meteor         Sarah Grant-Taylor       Superspeed               AMERICA
Poniente       Esmeralda Colina         Wind Mage                AMERICA
Scorch         Scott Handleman          Pyrokinetic              CANADA
Centurion      Salvatore Napier         Strength, Regeneration   MEXICO
Fury           Arin Kelsey              Concussion Blasts        MEXICO
Contact        Aaron Zander             Psi, Mind-over-Body      DIPLOMATIC
Breaker        Christina Li             Telekinesis              DIPLOMATIC
Essay          Sara Ana Henderson       Gadgeteer                VENUS
Peregryn       Howard Henderson Jr.     Elemental Mage           VENUS
Beacon         George Sylvester         Living Light             VENUS
Geode          Unknown                  Living Crystal           VENUS
Lightfoot      Tom Dodson               Velocity Control         TRANSIT

[January 12, 2027 - Berlin, Germany, outside the dome]

     Giselle Schatten resisted the temptation to check the time on her
gray-cell for the third time in as many heartbeats.  It was time, she could
feel that in her soul more surely than any piece of technology could
indicate.  She focused her goddess-granted power on the achingly distant dome
of shadow.
     The dome started to twist upwards in the middle, a tendril reaching up
into the icy clear January sky.  Giselle felt a thrill up her spine as the
shadow working exceeded anything she could have accomplished on her own, and
resolved into the form of the goddess.  What happened next was not her doing,
but she knew she'd played an important part.
     A booming contralto issued forth from everywhere at once, the dome
itself shaking like a titanic speaker.  "Berlin is henceforth and forever
more the City of Night," it intoned.  "The domain of Lord Ebon, under the
regency of Lady Sable!"
     The message repeated several times in various languages, and then the
shadowy goddess astride the world evaporated into the wind as Giselle
relaxed.  In many ways, it felt like she'd run a marathon while the power of
an electric main surged through her, but it also felt like the best sex she'd
ever had times a million.
     Service had its rewards, even if it had its cost as well, a temporary
separation from the Dark Lady, her goddess on Earth.  But her task was
complete, and it was time to return to the embrace of the shadows.
     Much later, as night fell on the rest of Berlin, Giselle finally evaded
the last of the thin-spread police and military patrols and touched the
purity of the dome.  She expected it to soften and let her pass through, but
it didn't yield to her touch, being harder than steel and as cold as ice.
     "Did I displease you, my goddess?" she whispered forlornly to the night
sky.  She stayed, moving only to avoid patrols, until the sky began to
lighten with the dawn.  Dark tears staining her heavily kohled cheeks, she
fled the coming of dawn lest she be discovered and add betrayal and discovery
to whatever sins she had unknowingly committed.

               *              *              *              *

[January 13, 2027 - Berlin, Germany, outside the dome]

     "Before we begin," Arc addressed the motley crowd in the commandeered
conference room of an evacuated office building, "thank you all for
restraining from any 'about time you asked for help' comments or passive-
aggressive looks.  Europe seems to be attracting trouble beyond any nation's
ability to handle, and I suppose we should get a more formal set of embassies
and exchanges in place once this current crisis is over."
     There was silent agreement from most of the room.  Between Paris,
Monaco, and now Berlin, Europe's major cities had certainly seen a
disproportionate share of recent "worldbeater" activity.  ASH was represented
by Solar Max, Poniente, an icon of Peregryn, Contact, and a young Academy
graduate named Daniel Tang.  The other EUROPA superhumans were coordinating
patrols and the work being done to lessen the environmental impact in the
area around Berlin.  A scattering of other mystic experts were also present,
but they were generally on their best behavior.
     A notable exception was the Khadamite representative, who decided a smug
espression was called for.  True, his nation had been the first in the modern
era to cause problems for Europe, but they'd also been instrumental in saving
Monaco.  Sadi Pasteur (not his birth name) may have lacked the power to lobby
for a position among the elite of the Conclave, but his thorough research
background and scientific approach to magic had called its leader's attention
to the young French-Algerian mage.  Glyph was always one to prefer the
hermetic style to the wild mage.  He could barely light a candle with his own
power, but since Glyph herself was unwelcome in the Eurasian Union, he was
the best choice for this mission.
     As to what Glyph herself was doing, Sadi had only suspicions, but they
included a strong desire to be outside the blast radius in case she decided
cauterization was the best cure.
     "I'm guessing from most of your faces that none of you have good news,"
Arc continued, trying to avoid looking at Sadi.  "Rechtigkeit tells me that
the spirit in his axe has been silent, so nothing from my team's limited
magical bench."
     "I could sense nothing," Poniente shrugged.  "As in, there's a hole in
the world as far as my scrying is concerned.  My patron is strangely silent
on the matter, although he is somewhat geographically limited at the best of
times."  A denizen of the awkward gray area between supernatural and divine,
the spirit of the west wind had survived the erection of the Barrier to lock
out the gods because he had been in a different trap, one Poniente had freed
him from in her first mission as Peregryn's apprentice.  But he was still
fundamentally a spirit of a place, and Berlin was quite far from that place.
     The enchanted tablet propped on the table spoke with Peregryn's face and
voice, a decided improvement over the magically animated self-portrait he had
first used to communicate beyond his exile on Venus.  "I believe that Lady
Sable has altered the nature of the dome since making her announcement,
likely a response to our attempts to use Anchors to weaken it.  I am too far
away to directly sense as well as Poniente can, but I concur with her
findings.  Where the dome had been semi-permeable before, it is now rigid.
It no longer grows, neither does it shrink."
     "Delaying tactic," Polla Hectrix, aka Terrastar, shrugged.  If there was
anyone in the room that no one trusted, it was her rather than Sadi.  That
she hadn't broken her promises to the world's governments yet after being
restored to her body [in ASH #113 - ed.] meant very little beyond the fact
she didn't consider the time to be right.  But she was a mage with a doubly
unique perspective, thanks to her extradimensional origin and the fact she'd
been used as a pawn in one of Lady Sable's schemes.  "Whatever Sable's
specific plans are, her endgame is fairly clear: she's trying to become a
god, or the next best thing.  She says it's in the name of Lord Ebon, but
I've dealt with her sort before, she wants the power herself.  She has a
whole city to work with, or at least a significant portion of one, but will
need time to either gain their worship or arrange a sacrifice.  She must have
spent what reserves she had by now, and the grand proclamation was just to
make us hesitate."
     "Mr. Tang, do you have any insights?" Arc asked the young-looking
Chinese-American at the table.
     "I'm flattered to be included in this, I guess I made a better
impression at my audition than I thought.  Congrats on the job, by the way,"
he nodded to Poniente.  [Daniel Tang was interviewed for the position of
Peregryn's apprentice in ASH #114 - Ed.]  "Whatever's blocking scrying is
definitely above my ability to get past, which in itself says something.  It
feels like trying to scry back past July 1998.  Maybe not as strong a block,
but in the same ballpark."
     Arc noticed a distinct nervousness on Tang's face, more than could be
ascribed to just being in the same room with some of the world's biggest
magical heavy hitters.  Maybe he just didn't like people knowing how easily
he could find out their secrets...hell, Claire didn't like that a whole lot,
despite assurances that the deceptively young-looking man needed a personal
connection or physical proximity to delve into someone's past or present.
Maybe he worried that being in the same room as Terrastar would make her
think he could scry her?  Probably that, or Pasteur.
     Solar Max finally spoke up, having kept his peace out of deference to
Arc's jurisdiction and his own lack of mystic background.  "The one thing we
know for sure about Lady Sable after our encounter with her is that she
prefers no one know anything for sure about her.  She takes the whole shadow
thing very much to heart.  She's already made at least one attempt at
reviving one of Lord Ebon's old plans [ASH #110-113 - Ed.] and could be
trying a different one...or could be making it look like she is in order to
hide her real plans."
     "This is unlikely to be a variation on one of Ebon's failed attempts at
godhood," Pasteur spoke up.  "He was very much a classic mage, oldest of old
school.  His plots always relied on mystic convergences, dates of special
importance, that sort of thing.  And while it's true that every day is
important to some culture, Ebon never seemed to deviate from the Hermetic
traditions.  He'd have launched something like this on the Solstice or
Equinox, or near the date of an eclipse, for maximum symbolic resonance.  I
suppose his birthday could be coming up, we don't know what day that was."
     "He never mentioned it to me, at least," Solar Max nodded thoughtfully,
drawing a few confused and concerned looks from around the table.  "Um, I had
a time travel accident or two.  Or three.  I may or may not have met Iago
Montessi before he became Lord Ebon.  [In ASH #31 - Ed.]  My relationship
with the timestream is somewhat tempestuous.  Let's just say that any
solution to our current problem that involves me trying to time travel would
probably leave us in a worse place than if I did nothing."
     "Sable could be playing a long game, hoping to hold the city long enough
for the Equinox," Poniente suggested.  "In any case, while a lot of lore was
lost in 98, I'd have thought that with all the talent in this room we'd have
something better than my 'there's a hole in the world.'"
     Arc sighed and looked down at the table.  "I was hoping as much myself.
Marshal Noire has been recalled from Venus and should be here soon to see if
her shadow-melding will let her in, but for now we're out of ideas.  It's as
if Lady Sable has found a new trick that's unknown to the mages of two
     "Or a very, very OLD trick," Peregryn's image mused.

               *              *              *              *

[January 13, 2027 - Pawtucket, Rhode Island Sector]

     In a way, M'emba had more in common with her fellow exiles now than they
ever did before the loss of their home.  Now it was not only her own ancient
gods who were banished, it was all of those who were worshipped by the
refugees.  If someone found a familiar resonance in the religions of their
new home, who could say that their own God or gods were actually the same as
the ones worshipped here?  With so many names lost, could those for whom
"Christianity" felt right be certain they hadn't worshipped a God with a
different name?
     This had been a spark of hope for the tiny community of those who had
followed M'emba through, followers of the ancient gods.  Yes, their own gods
had been lost to them, the very names had been ripped from memory.  But this
new world certainly had possibilities.  M'emba's mystic powers remained, if
in an altered form, could it be that a version of her gods existed here,
similarly banished from memory?  The mages of this world had been reluctant
to reveal much to her, knowing she had been counted among her old home's
worst villains, but she did know that their gods did war against each other
here as well.  That there were entire pantheons banished from history by the
struggles of the mighty.
     And so she spent her time in meditation and research.  Meditation, as
she performed now, to seek out the spark of a god enough like her own that it
might accept her fealty.  Research into the sorts of clues that might slip
between the cracks of a war among the gods.  Time was complex, and life and
death an interconnected web.  Remove something utterly from the weave, and no
matter how skillfully the hole was patched there would be a sign of the
repairs.  A whisper, a dream, a symbol that could not be explained.
     The cultists had arrived with naught but the clothes on their backs, and
so the less mystically adept followers, those whose powers had been utterly
lost, turned to mundane sources to research the symbols in those very pieces
of attire.  The new world's information technology was at once familiar and
strange, advanced and retrograde.  The new world lacked a number of things
that had started to become familiar in the old, despite a seeming passage of
nearly a generation, but more than compensated in other ways.  And so they
knew that much of their ceremonial and functional attire resembled a melange
of pieces that existed in the history and cultures of the new world.  A
somewhat insulting combination, as a few of the less cautious of her brothers
and sisters discovered when walking about in public.  They had already
acquired more nondescript clothing from their benefactors, but they had their
     Syncretism.  Pieces of old faith buried under new.  The Western African
ways of worship seemed to resonate with aspects of M'emba's own faith, but so
much had been lost or altered by colonial powers.  A form of banishment, as
it were.  M'emba's own faith-name was linguistically similar to names from
that part of this world as well, if not exactly a match.  
     Pale and twisted shadows.  But were M'emba's gods the shadows, or were
they the reality that this world only echoed.  And would there come a time
that she had assimilated so completely that she couldn't tell the difference?
     Then a shock ran up her spine.
     A thrill of familiarity.
     The name hovered just outside her awareness, but she was certain of one
thing: she had felt an echo of the presence of the god of death, the god who
had come closest to restoring the pantheon to rulership of the mortal realm,
in the fog-enshrouded city of walls.
     The god who had ultimately rallied all other remaining gods against him,
to empower the heroes to strike him down utterly.
     She could not remember his name, but she did know he had been destroyed
over a year before the end of the world.
     Or had he?
     Could the god of death truly die?

               *              *              *              *

[January 14, 2027 - Berlin, Germany, inside the dome]

     Eventually the batteries started to die.  People accepted that the
networks weren't coming back up and turned off their phones, so at least
those batteries had a while to go on standby.  Emergency candles were put
into service in calmer parts of the city, and bonfires started in the less
calm parts.  Strangely, rioting never got out of hand, but the whispered
reason was far from comforting...tales of shadowy figures rising up and
engulfing those who spread too much disorder.
     Whoever had done this to the city wanted at least a certain level of
order to things, even if they didn't care too much about comfort.  Or the
occasional deaths.
     Plenty of traffic accidents on the first day.  Even though the sky went
away in the early hours of the morning, no city the size of Berlin ever truly
slept.  The lack of major powerplants inside the city meant electricity
started to fail almost immediately.  Emergency backups were reserved for
crucial services such as hospitals and maintaining the water system...people
could at least turn the tap and get water, so they could starve to death
rather than die of thirst.  Many people died one way or another trying to
flee the city...there was a definite wall of some sort, and any too-
enthusiastic attempt to breach it was rumored to bring out those shadowy
enforcers to discourage people.
     One positive, Gerd mused, was that it forced people to come together.
He'd learned more about his neighbors in the past few "days" than he had the
entire time he'd lived in the building.
     One group decision had been to abandon the higher floors.  Without
elevators or confidence in fire-suppression systems, they were just too
dangerous.  And the nights still got cold, if not as cold as usual, so
huddling together for warmth made sense.  Someone suggested that whatever
trapped the people was also trapping the heat and the smoke...if they lived
long enough, it would be like summer in the late Twentieth Century, full of
heat and oppressive smog.
     Emergency services had enlisted people as runners to spread basic
information and encourage people to stay put rather than crowd around the
edges of the trap into which Berlin had been plunged.  Attempts had been made
to swim under the dome, but they had failed...and while the downstream areas
had flooded slightly, it seemed like the people outside had realized what
might happen and had dammed the inflow.  The Spree and Havel were reportedly
long narrow lakes now rather than rivers.
     Looking out the window, Gerd only saw the flickering lights in scattered
windows, and a few buildings looming out of the darkness limned every so
faintly by distant bonfires.  Sometimes the shadows moved in ways that a
flickering flame couldn't explain, but he tried not to think about those....

     Sara Jane Howard, also known as NAC Marshal Noire, moved carefully
through the darkened city.  None of the normal people moving about furtively
from flame to flickering window could hope to see her, not with so many deep
shadows in which to hide, but that voice in the back of her head was even
more insistent now that she was on Earth and inside the Berlin dome.  It was
more of a gabble of voices, an umbral parliament holding session ever closer
to her presence.
     She hadn't told anyone about the voices.  She was needed here, no one
else could get into the dome, and she didn't want to be benched.
     Now she wondered if that had been a bad idea.
     The gabble made no coherent words, but the desire was starting to become
     JOIN US it seemed to sussurate. 
     The only reason she hadn't fled immediately upon forcing her way through
the dome was that the voices merely whispered.  There was no sudden
appearance of the shadow forms that EUROPA had fought a few days earlier, no
clear message from Lady Sable.  Sable herself was probably unaware of Noire's
presence, but her summoned servants recognized a fellow shadow.
     It made concentrating hard, but not impossible.  She observed as much as
she could, recording thermal band video and as much of the audio spectrum as
her handheld computer could detect, but she had barely made it past the ring
of debris from the one forceful surge the dome had made, and already she was
uncertain of her ability to get back out.
     And yet, amidst the cacophony of whispers there seemed to be a lone
soothing tone, humming in the background and making her feel...not safe,
maybe, but protected.  
     Noire decided she'd done as much as she could and headed back towards
the dome before something paid serious attention to her.  

     It had been a harrowing journey in places, but Damon and Mischa had
reached someone who seemed to be more or less in charge of maintaining order
in a city that was a lot less chaotic than either had expected, but still
pretty dangerous.
     "Herr Karstens," the middle-aged and somewhat stocky woman in a rumpled
police uniform addressed him, "while I appreciate that you might have some
applicable experience due to your time in Montreal, my people are stretched
very thin.  Do you have any concrete suggestions?  Otherwise, we will
continue following our existing disaster plans."
     "Yes, I do, actually."  Breaking out of his panic attack had been hard,
but when Mischa started asking him about how he and the others in Montreal
had coped, working through the little things had helped him stop freaking out
about the obvious big things.  "We're not all instantly dead, so whoever put
this up wants us alive for now, even if they're not trying to protect us."
The Viau twins had created the dome that preserved Montreal from the lethal
conditions on Venus, and Damon had heard rumors that a third mage had been
responsible for the unusual plant growth that let them turn to agriculture
for survival.  "But they might just be saving us for later, or taking us
somewhere.  There's a few things we can try to see if we're still on Earth.
Like check compasses."
     The offical nodded.  "We did dig out some old magnetic compasses, there
is functionally no magnetic field.  We could still be on Earth, however...if
the dome extends underground, it could block those fields.  We already know
that radio waves do not penetrate."
     "How about checking for surveyor instruments and testing the strength of
gravity?  Or one of those big pendulum things to see if we're still rotating
on a planet in general?  We didn't think of that last one until we already
knew we were on Venus, but it would definitely have told us we weren't on
Earth anymore."
     "Hm.  The pendulum might be worth checking.  There may be one in a
museum or in a university science building, I vaguely remember they're named
Foucault pendlums.  How long would we have to watch before we knew?"
     Damon shrugged. "If you have to start it up, a few hours.  If you find
one that's still going, they usually have stuff set up to be knocked down, if
it's all knocked down then we're probably spinning?  I'm not really a
scientist, someone else thought of that one.  Oh, and see if plants are
withering...we haven't had any sunlight in days, if the plants are thriving
it means whoever has us trapped might want us to live more than a few more
     "I'm not sure how many plants would still be thriving in January in the
first place, but I suppose there might be some greenhouses in the city.  I
will need to ask around...I have no idea how current any paper records of
businesses might be, or even where to find them, I never needed to look
anywhere but a computer," she frowned in the candlelight, looking briefly
like an ogre thanks to the play of shadows on her face.

     The shadows were so strong here at the dome, and Sara worried that
rather than going through this time she might just smear out and become part
of the dome.  They'd warned her it was a risk, that even with her powers the
dome might still be one-way.
     She placed a shadowy hand against the surface, which felt far less
yielding than it had from the outside.
     Then she pushed hard against it...and fell into the welcoming darkness.

               *              *              *              *

[January 15, 2027 - Eurasian Union Regional Assembly, Prague]

     "Marshal Howard is still recovering, but the data she brought back at
least confirms that people are alive inside the dome," Gerhard Hesse told the
assembled mages and heroes, including almost all of the active EUROPA members
and several more ASH members, including Scorch and Breaker.  They had
occupied the largest of the ultra-secure meeting rooms in the Assembly
complex, with no small number of objections from the permanent staff over the
nature of a few of the participants.  Gerhard didn't doubt that once this was
all over, they'd probably get as close to "burn it down and build a new one"
as they could, to avoid Terrastar or Mr. Pasteur leaving any mystic spy eyes.
But they didn't dare risk Lady Sable catching a hint of their planning at
this point, so both distance and other measures helped keep her blind to it.
     "Her difficulty in getting out definitely axes any plan to use her
powers for evacuation, even if it were practical to bring all those people
out a few at a time," Solar Max shook his head.  "And while the purely
technological data made it through, the sensing spells our mages attached to
her gear were scrambled."
     "I could probably tease some useful information out of the mystic static
if I had enough time," Sadi Pasteur said with no small amount of pride in his
voice, but his tone and posture shifted to crestfallen as he admitted, "but I
doubt I do.  Unless I got very lucky indeed, this is the work of a month or
more to reconstruct.  I can tell you now, though, that this would have killed
Oni if she'd tried to stow away in any device Marshal Howard carried through
the dome."
     "Diggin' was nicht bien," Hotspur reported, his lapse into "street
Eurolac" betraying his nervousness.  "Even though the dome only scraped the
surface during its big surge, it seems to have reconnected underground.  No
real sign of ruptures in the sewers and subway tunnels, so MAYBE if we'd had
people in place at the right time they could have gotten in, but that's water
under the bridge.  We even sent some digbots into the bedrock, but they hit a
wall just where the math said the dome would be if it were just part of a
     "I'm afraid we might just be out of options, then," Hesse slumped back
in his chair.  As the on-site representative of the United-World-backed
STRAFE, he was nominally in overall charge of the unified effort, and the
stress was starting to get to him.  It didn't help that he was a decade or so
older than anyone else in the room.  "I suppose we could see if it's possible
to magically reinforce Howard, make another try that way, but otherwise we're
reduced to waiting for something to turn up."
     "There...is another possibility," Solar Max glanced around the room, his
eyes lingering on Pasteur and Terrastar.  "I broached the idea with my
government two days ago, and the Senate finally reached an agreement on it.
It was a six to three vote, so barely got approved...not the sort of thing
that needs just a simple majority.  I can tell you it wasn't purely a major
versus minor state split, but I don't know which states voted what way."  A
quirk of the highest voting body of the North American Combine was that the
three "major" states of America, Canada, and Mexico each got two Senators,
while the "minor" states of Pacific, Isthmus, and Carribean each got one
Senator.  They functioned as much in an executive fashion as legislative,
with the Chancellor being more of a figurehead and dealmaker.  The three
minor states tended to vote as a bloc, but not always.
     "So, this is a high security state secret thing," Hesse ventured.
"Given that even STRAFE has been kept out of the loop on this."  
     "Highest security," Arc nodded.  "STRAFE knows in the persons of Dan
Tracey and a few others, but it has been kept very compartmentalized.  My
government had a similarly narrow vote on letting all the people in this room
in on the secret, and we have notified the Chinese states as well.  We were
recently made aware of the existence of a sort of interdimensional nexus, and
we're confident Lady Sable doesn't know about it and can't block access to
and from Berlin via this method.  So we could use it as a pathway into the
dome.  But one danger is that our use of it might alert her to its presence,
and if she gets into it it could be bad."
     "I know the sound of a 'but wait, it's worse' when I hear one,"
Terrastar quirked an eyebrow.
     "I think I know what they're talking about," Rechtigkeit turned to face
her.  "I've been there.  It has a sort of mind of its own, and it wants to
suborn anyone who enters, make them work for it.  We've agreed to leave it
alone and keep it secret, since the more people know about it, the more
likely it is that someone," he turned to face Pasteur, "will think they can
resist its power.  I mean, if Sable did find out about this place, it'd
probably end up sorting her out for good, but not before she did a whole lot
of damage."
     "And she might actually be able to run it as a sort of shadow
government," Scorch smirked, then mock-ducked the anticipated barrage of
coffee cups.  
     "The suspense is killing me," Pasteur deadpanned.  "What is this nexus
of which you speak?  It sounds Qlippothic."  Qlippothic energy was a sort of
anti-life, the mystical dark mirror of existence.
     "Close," Solar Max nodded.  "It's the embodiment of bureaucracy
throughout all realities, the Multiversal Office.  And there's a doorway into
it in this very building."

Author's Notes:

     I know, the pace of ASH writing has been positively glacial.  Other
things just keep seeping into my life and eating up my Writing Inspiration,
with the latest being my involvement with The Fifth World (thefifth.world) as
a semi-regular columnist.  With no other regular writers whose stories would
be inconvenienced by my silence, I don't even have (much) guilt as a
motivator.  Tony Pi and Matt Rossi III are both Actual Published Authors now,
for instance (you can thank Matt's "nameless" trilogy for bringing the
qlippothic spheres back to the top of my brain in time for this issue), and I
guess there needs to be a certain critical mass to get newer writers going.
     Interestingly, the start of this arc (prologue in #119) was written as
City of Heroes was in its dying days, and the successor game City of Titans
may well launch before I finish the arc.  It's not just coincidence, of
course, as the fact I did a lot of writing for City of Titans ate up much of
my Inspiration for a couple of years there.  :)
     This issue's title, "Sub illa Umbra," means "Under that Shadow."  Or at
least I'm pretty sure when I outlined this issue several years ago I got
confirmation that it did.
     Daniel Tang first appeared in ASH #114 as a potential apprentice to
Peregryn, and his backstory was further explored in the one-shot "Bushel."
     As noted in earlier endnotes, M'emba is a high priestess of the Banished
Pantheon, a faction of villains in the departed City of Heroes game setting.
A lot of their outfits were somewhat culturally...iffy.  Witch doctor meets
houngan with a little bit of medicine man, basically.
     The Multiversal Office, which started out as a Legion of Net.Heroes
thing, impinged upon the ASH realities in ASH #107-109.

     What will happen next issue?  Even *I* don't know, as my entire outline
for #123 isn't a whole lot more than "They go to the Office and there are
Complications."  The anticipation is KILLING me.  (Hey, it's part 4 of 6 the
point of most arcs where it all goes to hell, of course this wasn't going to
Fix Everything.  I just need to figure out how much worse it makes things


     For all the back issues, plus additional background information, art,
and more, go to http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/ASH !

     http://ash.wikidot.com/ is the official ASH Wiki, focusing on the Fourth
Heroic Age, but containing some information about other Ages.


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