Me in Comic Books:
The Adventures of Me 2004
The Crockery of Chaos
I've spent the year so far, cleaning up my Enemies List. Now, I'm back in a favorite old town where I lived once, with Judy my favorite old lady (well, two years my senior), and I'm ready to retire. But stories don't always end just because the writers retire, and wars don't always end just because you capture the leaders. Cases in point:
The Crockery of Chaos. I hang out in online forums for chaos mages. They're a varied bunch; some of them even make their own pottery. And some of them like to summon chaos spirits, and acquire power objects. Some of them even store these power objects in pottery. Fine with me, except the objects are calling me for help!
I used to have superhuman blood cells! They fled my body after they got me into mortal danger they couldn't handle, thanks very much. But now they've been captured, and stored in magic pottery, with chaos demons as defenders!
As much as I'd like to abandon those turncoats like they abandoned me, I happen to know these babies can start an omniversal war. And it's my blood, therefore my responsibility. And so...
There's me and a renegade chaos spirit, masquerading as Bugs Bunny, walking across broken china and drugged needles, and dodging crockery thrown by my parents. (Or, more likely, chaos spirits masquerading as them, because not only is my real Mom dead and my real Dad faking it, I can't imagine the two of them agreeing on anything long enough to go into action on it.) It hurts, and the poor bunny is getting sliced up, but I can coat my feet and shield my arms with plates. (11 May 2004)
I manage to get my renegade chaos spirit working, and win through to the magic crockery! Then to escape, I get on a ferry - which capsizes. I get out with my underwear only (aren't you glad this story has no pictures?), and confront some people tearing up tents. They're spouting gibberish, so I spout back, and get away in my faithful convertible mini-SUV whose top opens to let me in.
I guess ever since I took out the dominant evil villain mages, all the wannabes have been cropping up. I can evade their minions, but the new little leaders aren't confident enough to come out of hiding yet. I wonder if it ever pays to defeat evil?
- But my lady Judy was watching, and she's confused about why I have to even talk to these people. I explain as best I can, that the problem of evil chaos mages never went away just 'cause I ignored it. But I'm not sure my explanation is enough.
- So this is what a grown relationship is like. I've been through the gauntlet with Judy, but it's never enough, is it.
- Aww, I love her, but... well, I don't know. Don't ask me how most people make relationships work, because as far as I can tell, most relationships don't. (16 May 2004)
Trial By Ameritech 2. I've worked for a phone company that has this predilection for sedition trials. And they've been having labor problems, so they're gearing up for a lot of root cause inquisitions. It's really not important how these things turn out... but I'll always remember, they cared enough to persecute me. (3 Jun 2004)
The Crockery Hits The Fan. After that business with the crockery of chaos, I've got some skull-shaped statuary to dispose of... along with their contents, which grant superhuman powers. They once granted these powers to me, but I am so not going back there. At least not with those blood cell colonies; they had attitude like you wouldn't believe.
Okay, I've got a better explanation for my lady Judy than I did on the ferry, so now she's going to help. She's going to take the crock to Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA, where Nightfall Systems has set up a lab at the Prairie Stone complex. I'd go myself, but chaos mages are watching me, and Judy's the one who wants me to have less to do with them, so she's motivated.
So Judy unloads the crock in Illinois, and that should be the end of it... but a couple of weeks later, I get a call from Greenland. The crock wound up there, in Kangerlussuaq - the science office of the Total Conversion Foundation!
- But I know a Wiccan who's sympathetic to our plight. She says, pack the crock in soft clay. It'll both cushion and camouflage it, in both mystical and practical ways.
So I wind up going to visit the science community at Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. After they sign a contract, of course. Judy goes too, because she's a med tech, and when it comes to organizations that Ellipsis runs, I insist on independent verification. More money for the Ferguson Engineering Research Group!
- Nightfall Systems had a change of leadership recently. Their company president Russell Anvernacht disappeared, about the same time I got kidnapped by the armored terrorist Domesday. I resurfaced, but Domesday didn't... and neither did Mr. Anvernacht. Surely, I disposed of my terrorist kidnapper, but Mr. Anvernacht might not have been so lucky.
- Used to be, Nightfall Systems was very proprietary about things under their control. They work closely with the United Nations, which is fine with me... but they didn't get along with other companies such as Total Conversion, which is also fine with me. And my brother works for Nightfall too, which was also a consideration in my going to them with my blood cell security threat.
- But now, the current Nightfall leadership is more willing to work with other companies. And it seems, the leading company for superhuman blood cell analysis is the Total Conversion Foundation. So Nightfall shipped my blood there. Without my consent, because I didn't make them sign any contracts to take it.
- But even Total Conversion has not been able to analyze these blood cells. These are not only superhuman blood cells, they are paranoid. It seems, these cells will counteract all normal means of analysis, and they will die before being taken prisoner. Total Conversion thinks, having the donor of my own DNA handy, might help their next action plan.
Two days later, we start the analysis. But then things hit the fan.
- Ever since Ellipsis and I intervened on (mostly) opposite sides in the Greenland Rebellion, the small village of Kangerlussuaq has tripled in size. Which is to say, now it has 900 year-round residents... and 1200 hotel rooms. And an amusement park, the Busch Gardens Midnight Sun, now nicely accessible by scheduled air service to the East Coast of the United States.
- Kangerlussuaq is now divided into parts three: Mittarfik Kangerlussuaq, which is to say, the airport; Kellyville, the science community a few kilometers west (where Ellipsis lives); and Buschville, the new part across the fjord from the others. Kellyville's where I have to go, and it has some bed & breakfasts, but I'm staying in Buschville because they have hotels and new restaurants there.
- Once I deliver the crock to Kellyville, the Total Conversion heroine Mary O'Hanrahan takes possession; she's running security. And there's going to be a spectacle... The scientists have arranged for someone to shrink down and confront the blood cells "face" to face!
- Indeed, they've already tried this! Total Conversion has an "Insight" observation suit in their armory now, and Mary has a girlfriend who wears that suit. So the Insight suit shrunk down - and the blood cells attacked it, so it had to flee!
- This time, they're sending Mary O'Hanrahan herself, in the famous "Mary" battlesuit. Ellipsis will be in continuous mental contact with her. My role is to provide some DNA, as a sort of protective coloration. And they already got that, when I passed their security scanners.
- Uh, no. That's exactly why I brought my own med tech (aside from giving her some pay and a bit of foreign travel). I'll let Total Conversion use my DNA, under the circumstances, but I need to check their work, and I need them to return it afterward. We all signed contracts to that effect. And that's going to slow them down a day. Oh well.
- Judy and I take the Inlandisenfotosafari and the Muskosfotosafari in the meantime. Which is to say, we go take pictures of the ice cap and the local musk oxen who still run wild. Hey, that's what tourists do here if they don't go to Busch Gardens. And we don't, even if I do prefer Buschville to Kellyville.
- But when the spectacle happens, Judy and I both get to watch! It's in the contract, after all.
We all recover, but we discover, the mysterious assailant dived through a teleport gate of his own to escape us! The Foundation would like to debrief us individually... which is to say, Ellipsis now wants to mentally interrogate each observer in person.
- Shortly after Mary goes under the microscope, there are security alarms. Surely they might be glitches, and people go to investigate them... but then they don't report back.
- That's when teleport gates start appearing, all over the place. But I recognize who charges out of them... they're Total Conversion themselves, the other hirelings of Ellipsis! I've seen other people who have teleport gates, so I'm not surprised that Ellipsis has one too.
- They could all pour out of the same gate to overwhelm an enemy... but no, they have to do perimeter security, so they all scatter.
- So the enemy charges right through them, and disables them one by one! He's dressed in some kind of holographic suit, and has special devices to disable the known opponents. I see Doctor Lithium the infamous flame-spouter get an ice bomb.
- The intruder grabs the crock - but then Mary O'Hanrahan pops out of it! But he disables her with some sort of electronic device!
- Then he runs right past me and Judy! No, I'm not going to fight him hand to hand, but I can at least push a chair in front of him.
- But then he says, "You dumbshit, don't trust strangers!" And he flashes a light in front of me. That's the last thing I remember.
As it turns out, the face-to-face portion of the "interview" is with Ellipsis's wife, Julie Wolcott. But she's just there to make the interviewees comfortable enough for Ellipsis to mentally put us to sleep while he walks through our minds.
- I've worked with Ellipsis before. He used to consider me a threat, but now I'm sporadically useful to him Well, I guess this would be the annual teamup for him and me. Oh joy.
- Judy advises against it, as might be expected from any sensible woman. But I've worked with Ellipsis before, and I've submitted to a memory restoration device before, so despite my own reservations, I can't morally object to the combination. And isn't life all about morals?
- I even talk Judy into it, as long as I go first and she can examine me afterward. Surely it's a lot to ask of a med tech, but she did come into this for the adventure.
So, if that commando was my grandpa, then what? I've given up personal intervention in international crises. I do go investigate that abandoned town in Labrador where my dad said he was going to live... but it's abandoned. Go figure. I guess I'm out of luck. (5 Jun 2004)
- I suspect Ellipsis finds my mind an uncomfortable place, because it's hard to tell reality apart from fantasy there. In my mind, for instance, the gods actually do my laundry, that personal trainer might actually have my brother's brain, and that cloud formation might be Dark Phoenix come to eat the sun. Some of that stuff is literally true but unbelievable, some's only metaphorically true but still unbelievable, and some is uncertain but still unbelievable. So, I get the impression Ellipsis didn't learn much for me.
- But I think I've learned something, because I wake up saying, "Grandpa?" And the more I think about it, the more I think that commando might actually have been my grandpa! After all, my blood cells used to give me superhuman powers - and he's got the same sort of blood.
Trial By Fire. Once I break loose from Greenland and Labrador, I go to Vermont for a nice warm Southern vacation. I find a hotel where I can do some hiking, but as I walk along a highway, I get recognized by a guy in a minivan - and it's Adolf Hitler! (21 June 2004)
But he's from an alternate universe I once visited. He shaved off his beard so as not to look like Ulysses Grant, but he still has glasses and a full mustache.
Not only do I get a ride, I get an invitation to South Carolina - where he's known as Governor Arnold Wolf! He came into power in the last election, thanks to the votes of recent immigrants who want to set the state up as an independent Christian nation. It's widely suspected that he'll be the next governor to join the New South secession movements. And so...
I'm in a Museum of Godless Nations in a South Carolina shopping mall, with Governor Wolf and his wife. There's an exhibit on Nazi Germany, but my companions have skipped to the Soviet Union exhibit.
Then I notice several wastebaskets smouldering. I try to throw a cup of water on the nearest fire, but that just makes it spread. An extension cord has melted, so it's an electrical fire now!
I panic and make it to the door with one other man and a boy, but that's it. By the time the paramedics cart off the Governor, you could say it's a good thing that his face is unrecognizable.
I happen to know that Total Conversion has a superhuman (if you can call Doctor Lithium that) who's capable of arson. Now I know how to respond to an ad that says, "If you had superpowers and could save Hitler's life, what would you do?" Unfortunately, I could respond, but I can't back it up. (24 June 2004)
Rednecks' Revenge. Back in Massachusetts, I have to get my car serviced. Fortunately there's a Jiffy Lube that'll send someone out to tow me. Unfortunately, there's a traffic jam due to a truck unloading overalls for a Rednecks' Revenge rally. (25 June 2004)
Ever since the Governor of South Carolina got put in intensive care on the critical list, Southern sympathizers are swarming out of the woodwork. And New England has plenty of these; you just have to go an hour's drive away from Boston in practically any direction.
Fortunately, the Jiffy Lube truck and I manage to bull through the rally. Unfortunately, rednecks start chasing us. They're awfully vigorous for fat guys.
Fortunately, my car Tater has his own mind, and he hates rednecks. He's unhealthy enough that we have to tow him now, but still he coughs to life and overwhelms the rednecks with noxious fumes, so we all get away.
With the Governor incapacitated, the Lieutenant-Governor of South Carolina has assumed power. He's a guy named John Steiger, who worked for the NSA and fought superhumans during the Total Justice War (a.k.a. the Total Manhood War) of 1996. He hates Ellipsis, telepaths, and all superhumans in that order. So he's mentioning the possibility of a national uprising against the Ellipsis - superhuman - United Nations conspiracy, unless some major changes come around in the Presidential elections this November.
The United States of America seems to be headed for a Second Civil War now. And once again, just like in the Aleutian crisis, I seem to have helped. Or at least I got to watch the whole thing. Dammit!