[ASH] REPOST: ASH #124 - City of Night Part 5: Between the Candle and the Star

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at eyrie.org
Mon Oct 11 10:33:56 PDT 2021

     [cover shows several figures silhouetted by the light of an
      intense energy beam that is being fired into darkness.]

 '|`  /|(`| |   City of Night Part 5 of 6 - Between the Candle and the Star
     /-|.)|-|        copyright 2020 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 17, 2027 - Eurasian Union Regional Assembly, Prague]

     "In any case," Solar Max resumed, his summing up, "we're no closer to
getting into Berlin.  Does anyone else have any ideas?"
     "I may," replied a voice from the doorway.
     Filling the doorway was the enormous frame of a muscular man with a
bull's head, dressed in a very well-tailored dark blue suit that did
absolutely nothing to help him blend in with normal humanity.
     "What are you...scratch that," Gerhard Hesse of STRAFE frowned, "HOW are
you here, in this secure location?"
     Q'Nos, the original Minotaur against whom all others are pale
imitations, chuckled.  It was a guttural sound that ended on a dismissive
snort.  "Agent Hesse, I spent millennia after my fall from divinity as an
errand boy for the gods.  Just accept that I learned how to go where I need
to during that time, and let us return to the rather more urgent matter that
is on my doorstep."
     "Has Sable expanded her reach beyond the Berlin dome?" Arc asked,
untensing very slightly.  She and many others would be having some long and
pointed discussions about site security, but LATER.  
     "Not that I am aware of, I simply consider my doorstep to be rather
larger than you might find comfortable.  The perspective of a very long life
spent among the higher powers," Q'Nos shrugged, and the talent of his tailor
was evident in how the suit didn't even strain at the movement of those
massive shoulders.  Even without exerting the fragment of semi-divine power
left to him after his loss in the wars of the gods, Q'Nos was one of the
physically strongest people on the planet.  "Still, I am aware my presence is
something of a distraction, and only wished to make an appearance to impress
upon you all the seriousness with which I take this matter.  I will leave you
my vizier, Simon Smith, to continue the discussions."
     The minotaur stepped aside, revealing a slender old man in an equally
well-tailored gray suit.  Had he been standing there the entire time, and
Q'Nos's presence distracted all eyes from him?  Or had he only appeared at
that moment?  None could say for sure, but the mystics in the room suspected
the latter.  And then, between blinks of an eye, the minotaur was no longer
     "Mr. Smith...or would you prefer Agent Rush?" Gerhard Hesse asked, in an
attempt to cover the awkwardness of Q'Nos coming and going with such ease.
     "Please, I've been Simon Smith for a lifetime now, the part of me that
was Bennett Rush is literally another person," Mr. Smith then turned to Solar
Max with a questioning look.
     "Have a seat," Solar Max gestured for one of the spare chairs up against
the wall to be brought to the table, between Arc and Meteor, and his wife
obliged in an eyeblink of her own.  The planning group had only just gotten
comfortable with the presence of Sadi Pasteur as Khadam's representative, but
Q'Nos was another matter entirely.  A fallen god, who quite recently was
freed from a spacetime oubliette by Solar Max, and then went on to escape ASH
and build himself a kingdom in the chaotic turmoil of god-damaged Greece.  At
least there were no representatives from the Muslim Confederation present,
they had recently fought a war against Q'Nos.
     As for Smith, aka Bennett Rush, he was one of the rare superhuman
survivors of the Third Age, like the original Solar Max had been.  He had
been the Lord of Living Light, Doublecross, but somehow he had been split off
from that power and stripped of his memories shortly before the events of
July 6, 1998.  The intelligence agencies of all the world's nations were
intensely interested in knowing how any of that had happened, and how he'd
come to work for Q'Nos.  Perhaps they'd be happy with the outcome of this
meeting, even if no one else at the table was.
     "So, you have something to contribute?" Peregryn's mystically linked
computer image asked.
     "Hopefully," Mr. Smith nodded.  "Cards on the table: some of you may
already suspect this, but I discovered and studied one of the laboratories of
Iago Montessi, better known as Lord Ebon.  The god who humbled me during the
Godmarket had a sense of humor, I think, not only stripping me of my photonic
powers and memories, but also dropping me in the neighborhood of Montessi's
old estate.  So I definitely have some insights into what Lady Sable is up
to.  I brought my theories to King Q'Nos, and he was able to fill in some of
the gaps based on his experiences both as a god and as another of the god-
     "Is Nyx involved?" Poniente asked.  "She never got into the Godmarket,
but her fingerprints are all over the First Heroic Age if you know where to
     Smith frowned slightly.  "It would be nice if that were the case, yes?
Nyx is a primal god, she draws her power from the idea of darkness rather
than depending on worship, that's part of why she stayed out of the Third
Age.  But she wouldn't want one of her servants to get too uppity and risk
being displaced, so that would put a cap on Sable's ambitions.  But no, I'm
actually familiar with Nyx from my old life as a government agent.  My
photonic tech was derived from the Light Lance used by Beacon in the First
Age, and many of its aspects were built specifically to counter her power.  I
can tell you that while the dome over Berlin is divine in nature, it's not
run by Nyx's power.  If it were, I'd have simply thrown together a Light
Lance and mailed it to you with instructions...or just told you to find a
friendly Photonic.  You have one of those, I believe...Mr. Sylvester?"
     "So, assuming Sable ever was working for Nyx, she's got her own
apotheosis gambit now," Terrastar mused.  "Do you have any insights regarding
her power source?"
     "Mostly in the negative," Mr. Smith held his hands up apologetically.
"It's nothing Q'Nos or I recognize, which in turn suggests it is a divine
power that has probably not been active in this reality during either of our
lifetimes.  A larger span for him than for me, of course.  It could be a god
from another reality...perhaps yours, Polla Hectrix?"
     Terrastar shook her head.  "We killed all our gods long ago."
     "How Klingon of you," Daniel Tang smirked.  "What?  I like old sci fi
flatvids."  It had been difficult convincing Hesse that the young diviner
should be at the table, but the STRAFE agent eventually agreed that
divination worked better the more information one had to go on.  It had been
almost as difficult convincing Tang to get involved, given his inexperience
and relative fragility.
     "So, it narrows our problem down to 'No one we've ever heard of,
possibly from nowhere we've ever heard of,'" Solar Max sighed.  "Which, I
suppose, does help some.  But if this power is useful prior to having local
worshippers, doesn't that mean it's a primal divinity?  And doesn't Nyx have
dibs on darkness?"
     "Not really," Poniente interjected before Simon could answer.  "The
bigger the concept, the easier it is for more entities to draw power from
it.  My own power sources tend to be more primal than traditional...nature
spirits and the like.  A wind elemental could be considered a very weak
primal god, a primal demigod perhaps, embodying part of the concept of wind." 
     "She's right," Pasteur added, in a clear tone of "I am about to one-up
you."  "I've been digging into some of the oldest writings I can find about
the nature of gods and spirits, and one thing that keeps coming back to me is
the idea that gods started seeking worshippers because they were splitting
the conceptual energy too many ways.  There were a bunch of Sun gods, a bunch
of storm gods, a bunch of death gods...too many primals latching onto a
single concept weakens them all.  But a god who didn't want to get involved
in the market for believers might just satisfy themselves with the primal
power source, and lurk in the corners."
     "And, while Sable may have found alliance with a primal god of
darkness," Smith nodded like a grandfather quietly approving of how clever
his grandchildren were being, "it's drawing on a sufficiently different
aspect of the overall darkness concept, distinct from Nyx.  That, or it's not
a darkness power at all, but Sable is still 'digesting' it and is currently
limited to her old powers.  Still, if it were a power from this reality, I
suspect Nyx would have come to blows with it by now, and someone in this room
would have heard about it."
     "Yeah, gods are usually a real basket of crabs," Meteor nodded.  
     Oni looked at her with a confused expression.
     "Oh, an old metaphor.  You don't need to put a lid on a basket of crabs,
because any that try to climb out get pulled back in.  No idea if crabs
really do that, but gods seem to.  It's how we ended up stopping Rebus, after
all.  Broke his concentration so he lit up like a beacon, the rest of the
godscape noticed the new player and immediately sucked him into the game.
[More or less what happened in Capstone #3 - Ed.]  Too bad we can't get Sable
to fall for the same trick."
     "There's alguien ya forgettin," Hotspur interjected.  "Dark is still
dark, light is still light.  Even if the Light Lance is keine Hilfe, who's to
say it doesn't just need tuning?  While all the hoodoo-jin work the primal
god angle, maybe Mister Call Me Smith can figure out how to juice up a new
Light Lance with other techies?  Ain't Nyx, still sombra."
     "Good idea," Solar Max nodded.  "We've tried light-based weapons, but
now that we have one of the world's foremost authorities on photonics is
here, maybe there's a nicely direct solution to just cutting through the dome
that no one has picked up on yet but all of you could find together.
Meanwhile, I think there's an angle worth exploring if this really is a
primal god from another reality.  Time to put in a call to Rhode Island...."

               *              *              *              *

[January 18, 2027 - Lansing, Michigan Sector]

     "Why here?" Meteor asked as they stepped through a portal into an empty
lot.  Essay and Gimble had been asked to come from Venus to join in on the
tech brainstorming, but even with Lightfoot's powers they weren't on Earth
yet.  For now, she was just riding herd on "Mr. Smith" because the Combine
government was profoundly uncomfortable letting him out of ASH's sight.  "Did
Beacon ever operate here?"
     "No.  We probably won't find anything, to be honest, and that's my own
fault.  I was quite thorough in scouring all the official channels for
Beacon's old technology back in the 1980s when I was transitioning from loyal
government agent to embittered supervillain.  But I wasn't a complete monster
yet, and I left my old friends' house alone.  This is where Dragonfly and
Ladyhawke lived during the Second Heroic Age, you see.  And it's possible
Dragonfly kept some pieces of useful technology related to Beacon, acquired
in the service of improving his own weaponry."
     "Aha.  There's no house here now, should we dig?"  Meteor had actually
known the significance of the site, but her husband's involvement with an
alternate reality's version of Dragonfly was not information she trusted
Smith with.  
     "No need to be so obvious," the old man smiled, closing his eyes and
concentrating for a moment.  "There is an underground vault over...there.
I'm fairly sure it was added since the last time I visited, given its
position.  It would make sense for the Baineses to create an off-blueprints
hiding spot for anything they didn't want to destroy once they retired."
Gesturing, he opened another mystic portal, through which Sarah could see a
darkened and cramped vault.  "Wait out here, there doesn't appear to be much
room inside."
     That was true enough, as Smith couldn't even pass all the way across the
threshold of the portal.  He carefully picked through the boxes and journals
for a few minutes, before carefully returning them neatly to where they had
     He stepped back and held up a small box.  "This might help.  I think it
could be one of Beacon's original lasing elements.  It's burnt out, but I'm
looking as much for mystic tokens as technology at this point."
     As the portal irised shut, Sarah took one last look at the stack of
journals.  Maybe once this was all over, JakZak would be interested in seeing
what happened to the Dragonfly that he never met....

	       *	      *		     *		    *

[January 18, 2027 - Pawtucket, Rhode Island Sector]

     Daniel wondered if he was the only one feeling the weather, as he
shivered in the coat that had seemed plenty warm enough back in Prague.  He
had many talents he kept hidden for Very Good Reasons, but his ability to
tolerate hostile environments was only average for a superhuman unless he
wanted to light up like a beacon to all the gods lurking outside the tattered
Barrier.  Contact could probably walk around comfortably in his old
bare-legged uniform despite the biting wind, and this "M'emba" wore even
less, a sort of patchwork mix of "witch doctor" costume elements and other
bits whose symbology escaped him.
     Not much escaped him if he wanted to understand it, but that just
underscored the fact that M'emba was a refugee from an entirely different
reality.  Without that knowledge, her outfit was almost laughable...but it
just felt ominous instead.
     ++Remember, according to the others, she's one of the bad guys, member
of a death cult,++ Contact telepathically warned him.  ++She's been on
reasonably good behavior, but she has no particular reason to cooperate with
us.  I doubt she'll start something, but you be ready to run like hell if she
does.  You're kinda fragile, physically.++
     At least, that was the impression he tried to give.  Daniel suspected he
could jump into the harbor naked and survive, but he would definitely not
enjoy the experience.
     "Why do you wish to speak to me?  What was so important that the mighty
Academy of Super-Heroes would send one of its own rather than simply route
the question through an agent?" M'emba opened her eyes from meditation and
fixed Contact with a cool gaze.  Then her eyes flicked over to Daniel
himself, and he suddenly felt even colder.  "You are interesting," she
     "Um, I try?" Daniel demurred.
     "We're here in person because the question is important, and we wanted
to impress that upon you, and also show that we respect you enough to not
leave it to agents," Contact replied.  "What makes Mr. Tang interesting is
that he has a talent for divining information, and he may find anything you
know useful, even if you don't think it means much yourself."
     "You respect me, but do not trust me.  Wise.  I too respect your power
but do not trust your end goals."
     "Our goal is to stop a mage who calls herself Lady Sable from attaining
godhood," Contact countered.
     "That is your immediate goal, not your end goal.  But no matter.  What
is your question?" M'emba raised an eyebrow.
     "We suspect Lady Sable may have acquired a patron who is not native to
our world, and her sudden rise in power coincides with your arrival...that of
your people in general.  I'm not suggesting you personally are involved.  But
if mortals and supernormals could escape the death of your reality, could
some of your gods have done so as well?"
     "It would explain how I still have power, but my god has not spoken to
me.  Why would any of the others court me so silently?" M'emba shrugged. 
     "The others.  Do you remember their names, or the name of your own god?"
Contact asked.  "All of your people have holes in their memories when it
comes to names, but remember your own names and those of people with whom you
escaped.  Do you recall the name of your god?" Contact pressed.

			 *			  *

     M'emba thought back to her conversations with Terrastar.  Curious that
Terrastar seemed to be working towards the same goal but had not informed her
nominal allies of her activities...this pair clearly had blundered into
M'emba's presence, rather than being guided.
     "If your god is in this world, you should be able to feel his presence
more clearly with the right mental exercises," the speaking stone had
promised.  "While my own gods are long dead, I did learn from my time sharing
a body with a semi-divine entity in recent months.  Focus on the mental
pattern I am impressing upon you...."
     It had taken hours of intense concentration, but oh yes, M'emba knew the
name of her god.  And she knew that while Terrastar felt her god was in
danger, M'emba had more faith than Terrastar could ever imagine....

			 *			  *

     "I am afraid I do not.  It has vexed me since our arrival.  Yes, I feel
an echo of his presence, but I could merely be fooling myself, feeling what I
wish to feel," M'emba replied, a tinge of sorrow to her voice.
     "Hm.  I see," Contact frowned.  "Different tack...would you say your god
mostly gained his power from worship, or from embodiment of a concept?"
     M'emba laughed.  "My god WAS power.  He needed no worshippers, we needed
HIM.  He and his were banished because those gods who needed followers feared
the loss of that faith to a greater pantheon.  My god was death, who always
wins eventually, for even gods must die."

     Nothing more useful than that came up, and Contact thanked M'emba for
her help and led Daniel back to the suborbital craft.  
     ++She was lying about not knowing the name of her god.  She remembers,
but she's too tightly guarded for me to have gotten more than that without
making it obvious I was going through her brain,++ Contact projected.
     --I got that feeling too.  Divination is as much about pattern
recognition as anything else, and that bit didn't fit.  She was definitely
telling the truth as she knew it about the worshippers.  Whoever her god was,
he was a primal, or as close as her reality had to the concept.--
     ++I don't suppose you're willing to relax your barriers and let me take
a look at what your brain's putting together?  Two sets of mental eyes better
than one?++
     Daniel shook his head slightly.  --Odin's high throne situation,
Contact.  My brain's not safe territory for a telepath, other than the very
surface stuff like we're doing now.  Sorry.--  The truth was more complicated
than that, of course, but he was pretty sure Contact's lie-detecting skills
wouldn't set off any alarms.  Daniel devoted a lot of his power to hiding his
true nature, but he had to make his telepathic blocks look like something he
couldn't control.
     A pity he hadn't been able to stay completely out of the Lady Sable
matter.  One would have thought that a "divination mage" would be able to
predict that he'd be recruited for something like this.  But then again, he'd
picked the discipline specifically because he had no natural talent for

	       *	      *		     *		    *

[January 20, 2027 - EUROPA Temporary Depot outside Berlin]

     "Baseline test one, near normal incidence," STRAFE demolitions expert
Greg "Tripwire" Sellack said for the recordings.  While he had no particular
skills with regard to directed energy weapons, he was very good at telling
how much a target had been damaged, and finding ways to maximize that.
     "Firing Baby," Roger Langridge acknowledged.  Formerly known as Roger
Boom of the Jolly Molecules paragang, he'd grown out of that phase of his
life (having your motorcycle taken out from under you by Hellhound tends to
lead to a reconsideration of lifestyle) and now worked under parole for
STRAFE as well, using his paranormal talent to create weapons.  It was
fulfilling work, and far less likely to involve road rash.  
     While laser beams tend to be hard to see except in foggy or dusty
conditions, the little extras Roger included on his ionized the air and
created more of a cinematic "raygun" look.  
     "Null effect," Agent Sellack observed.  "Same as before."  While the
more high profile supers had been looking for esoteric solutions, the
"grunts" had continued trying more mundane ideas, just in case.  "Baby" had
been used extensively on the dome of darkness, to no visible effect, which
made it a good baseline for comparison.
     "Baseline test, glancing," Sellack announced.  "Clear downfield!"
     "Downfield clear," replied a voice over the comms.  This test was to see
if the beam just went through without hurting the dome, so it could
potentially come out the other side and do some damage.  The straight-on shot
might have blown something up too, but as far as anyone knew the immediate
neighborhood was in ruins from an earlier breach attempt.  [ASH #121 - Ed.]
     "Firing Baby," Roger announced, having aimed it to strike the edge of
the dome.  Once again, the beam hit the surface and vanished.  Nothing came
out the other side.
     "Null effect," Sellack said.  "Downfield observer, confirm null effect?" 
     "Now for the experimental treatment," Mr. Smith chuckled as Essay
prepared to fire the bizarre contraption she and Smith had spent the last day
or so building.  Gimble had decided to stay on Venus with her daughter, and
claimed to work better alone anyway.  
     The front half was rather similar to Langridge's weapon, function having
much to do with form.  But the back end was a crystalline sphere in which was
suspended a burnt out lasing element, with rainbow-hued lines of energy
dancing about its surface.  Looking more closely, the sphere was carefully
engraged with various solar signs, from multiple mystic traditions.
     "Near normal incidence trial one, ready," Essay finally announced.
     "Observer ready," Sellack replied.
     "Baby clear," Langridge added, having moved his weapon out of the way.
     If Baby's beam was brighter than it should have been, the new weapon's
beam was like a slice of the Sun itself.  Polarizing goggles blackened
     As soon as the beam ceased, Selleck pulled down his goggles rather than
waiting for them to lighten.  He paused.  "Null effect.  And...video record
shows no transient effect while we were blinded."
     Essay growled, then turned the weapon to its alternate firing angle.
"Glancing trial, ready."  Sellack nodded and pulled his goggles back up.
     "Downfield observer ready," came the voice over the radio.
     Once again, a line of sunlight streamed towards the darkness.  This time
it pierced through to the other side, dumping its energy into a concrete
block they'd carefully placed and drawn a bullseye on.  
     "Hit!" Langridge whooped.
     Sellack removed his goggles.  "No visible effect on dome integrity.
     "Zero deflection.  Cut through as if the dome weren't there at all,"
came the reply."
     Mr. Smith, who had been observing the proceedings with a more mystical
eye, nodded.  "Near as I can tell, the dome is unharmed.  This weapon can
penetrate it, but not open it.  Not a complete success, but worth further
study.  Even if it's not useful as an entrance, it could make for an
effective distraction if we're willing to risk hitting innocents inside."
     Some of the forces arrayed around the dome were comfortable with that.
Too comfortable, as far as Essay was concerned.  But even she wasn't willing
to completely rule it out as a tactic.  
     "Let's hope it doesn't come to that.  Maybe a dispersed setting will
weaken it, I've got some ideas," Essay said, motioning the others to gather

	       *	      *		     *		    *

[January 22, 2027 - EUROPA Command and Control outside Berlin]

     While no temporary C&C could be made as private as one of the dedicated
rooms in the depths of Prague or Washington DC or Canberra, the three people
in the room were reasonably certain no one was listening in.  They had a
decision to make...or to put off, but even that was a decision with its own
risks.  Each had consulted with numerous teammates, allies, and "others" but
by the agreement of various powers above and below the decision came down to
three people meeting on a Friday morning.
     "Essay says she's not out of ideas, but I think she's out of good ones.
The modified Light Lance was a literal shot in the dark, anyway," Solar Max
sighed.  "Not completely useless, and Smith is trying to find a way to make
us some portable units via techno-voodoo, which might help, especially if we
can get inside the dome with enough people that armed troopers would be
     "EUROPA support troops are already coordinating with STRAFE resources on
the ground," Arc nodded.  "And you have my list of recommendations for our
supernatural resources in the event of more limited transport options."
     "And now for the elephant in the room," Agent Hesse frowned.  "Even with
what information our mystic researchers have...positive AND negative...it
isn't looking like they're going to find the needle in this haystack any time
soon.  And while the dome has been stable, that just suggests Sable is
gathering her strength for a big push.  We could be lucky and she's waiting
for the Equinox, but...."
     "But why reveal her hand on a magically uninteresting day like January 9
if she'd have to wait so long?" Arc picked up the thought.  "I suppose she
could have a ritual planned that requires that much time, but I don't feel
comfortable assuming we have nearly two months.  Especially if it's a blood
ritual and she's killing off Berliners in job lots every day we fail to get
in there." 
     "And then there's the elephant.  Do we try to get the attention of one
of the gods and sic him on her?" Solar Max finally said what they were all
avoiding.  "I suspect I could get Baal Samin's attention again with help from
Poniente or even go to Venus to get Peregryn in on it.  But as friendly as
he's been, he made it clear the times he's helped us were for his own
reasons.  He might look at the situation and decide that Sable's apotheosis
would work better for him in the long run.  Or we could see if Nyx is
actually unaware of what her acolyte is doing...the dome might be to keep
Nyx's eyes out.  But that strikes me as insanely dangerous."
     "You got THAT right," Arc nodded.
     "We have some pretty strong 'person on the ground' authority from our
governments, but I'm pretty sure that if we got one or more gods involved and
survived the experience, we'd be hauled before the mast and hung from it,"
Hesse noted darkly.  "Still, we all knew when we took this job that we might
not survive it, no guarantees against friendly fire."
     "It comes down to this: how long do we wait before risking the god
option?  And which god to we risk our world by poking?" Solar Max rested his
gauntleted hands flat on the table, denting the surface slightly in a display
of his nervousness.  
     The silence stretched uncomfortably, before being broken by all three of
their tablets chiming to notify them of incoming messages.
     "What the...?" Solar Max blinked.  "I had mine on do not disturb."
     "I, also," Arc frowned, picking up the device.
     "Please let this not be from a god who has decided to involve himself
and spare us the decision," Hesse also picked up his tablet, reluctantly.
     All three displayed the same message, in simple text on a powder blue

     Whether she intended it or not, Lady Sable made Berlin a deathtrap.  All
deathtraps contain their own solution, it's what separates them from just
killing someone and being done with it.  There's always a reason: a who, a
what, a why?  Ask yourself: WHY BERLIN?


     "There's a whole lot of other questions there, 'DD,' like how you knew
to send this to us, HOW you sent it to us, who you are, why do we even bother
securing these locations..." Hesse's voice slowly raised in alarm.
     "But that's for another time," Solar Max cut off the reaction.  "Our
mysterious source is right.  We've just been assuming Berlin was either
coincidence or because Sable already had some cultists in town that made it
easier.  But it's not otherwise a place that fits her previous MO.  No Lord
Ebon plots took place here.  It's sometimes called 'City of Night,' but a lot
of locations fit that bill.  WHY BERLIN?"


Author's Notes:

     Yeah, so that "finish the arc before August 2019" prediction was wildly
optimistic.  Heck, at this point with only one more issue yet, I can't even
say with 100% accuracy that I'm wrapping it up before City of Titans
launches, since the avatar builder version is already out.  (ASH #119, the
prologue to City of Night, was written in *2012* as a reaction to the closure
of City of Heroes.)  This issue actually got written in bits and pieces over
the course of more than a year, every time I picked it up the first step was
to reread what I already had so I could remember what I was doing.  And one
reason I never got very far was that I still couldn't find a good hook for
the solution...I figured out the basic plot device years ago, but just having
the heroes stumble across it blindly or having a convenient flash of
inspiration didn't really grab me.  Finally, I realized someone who might get
them on a more useful track, leading to the final scene (which was originally
going to be the second to last scene, but I decided putting the answer to
"WHY BERLIN?" into the start of #125 worked better).  

     See "Hidden Under A Bushel" for more about Daniel Tang's background:

     A quick reminder, one reason I am cagey about names of entities from
M'emba's reality is that they're trademarks of NCSoft.

     In case you didn't figure it out, "DD" is Doctor Developer.  His
specific status in 2027 is not yet revealed, but I cleared this idea with
Utilitarian in case it might conflict with any plans he had kicking around
(e.g. he can't have an open relationship with ASH by early 2027, has to still
be alive in some fashion or have a successor who would identify themselves as
DD, etc.).  


     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.


More information about the racc mailing list