Me in a Superhuman World:
Superhuman World(s) 2007
Ladder to the Moon
In the middle of the war between the U.S. and. the flying saucers, people from the secret Lunar base have attacked my friends! That is something I will join the response to, without complaint or hesitation, even if it does inflame an interplanetary incident.
But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Luna, Near Side and Far Side. Mission Date 19 March 2007.
- 1995: DuoPolarity launched the Challenger II, Earth's first reusable spaceship. It came in handy on a mission to the United Nations space station - from which Karen got kidnapped to the Moon. I was involved in the mission and the rescue.
- 1996: The superhuman team Total Conversion commissioned the DuoPolarity Challenger III.
- 1999: DuoPolarity founder Ted Clark died, from experimenting too much with alien powered armor which drove the user crazy.
- 2003: DuoPolarity introduced their training suits in spectacular manner, in a baseball game against the superhumans of Total Conversion. All powered armor before that had cybernetic controls based on the alien design, and therefore drove the user crazy.
- 2004: I (of all people) went into business and hired people away from DuoPolarity. Sorry, nothing personal. But there was a thriving market for the DuoPolarity training suits still, and it was enough for everyone.
- 2005: DuoPolarity staff and their battlesuits were among the superhumans to evacuate the old Earth before the reality shift.
- 2006: Bad year for DuoPolarity of Boston. When superhumans from before the shift started going into business, the company had some competition it couldn't handle. To make ends meet, they rented out their favorite spaceship at one point; I know, because I got to fly it again. Besides that, they had some personnel losses.
- Hudson Ramo, founding member, pilot and handyman, born 1941. Retired 2006, but stays in touch.
- Ted Clark, founding member, genius and team co-leader, born 1951, died 1999. Reappeared in Maquoketa, Iowa in 2006, age 22!
- Ingrid Bodil, founding member, scientist and team co-leader, born 1961 (just like me!). Ted's wife.
- Went to Maquoketa in 2006 to take Ted back. Awww. But that got her and the company embroiled in Iowa local politics.
- That's even uglier than it sounds, because Iowa was the home of the U.S. superhuman internment camp, and Ted's evil rival Russell Anvernacht had come back from reality shift as the mayor of Maquoketa.
- Karen Bodil, founding member and handywoman, born 1971. Ingrid's little sister. Pursued a successful athletic career starting in 2004, after the baseball game with the training suits. But in 2006, her big sister called her back to run the Boston end of the company.
- Sureshkumar and Deepthi Prabhatha, talented engineers, born 1973 - 1977 or thereabouts. Co-inventors of the training suits. Now employed by a certain rival company whose initials are FERG.
- Stephen O. Samuels, genius scientist and reportedly the world's smartest (non-superhuman) man, born 1931, died 2006.
- Formerly known as "S.O.S." or "the Golden Age Ellipsis", he was the World War II boy sidekick to "Private Danger", who was the only superhuman to live more than one year under war conditions. Private Danger eventually disappeared.
- In 1996, Mr. Samuels tried to help the U.S. Government fight the superhumans of Total Conversion. Too bad they didn't listen to him.
- In 2006, another reality shift came along, and the Nazis took over the world. Stephen was involved in the resistance, and went out fighting Nazis the way he used to dream of. Coincidentally, Private Danger may be back.
- Erika van Cognos, genius scientist and reportedly the world's smartest woman, born 1946. Had some personality issues with Karen, and left DuoPolarity in 2006.
- Theodore Ketzel, genius engineer and creator of the Heid-Ketzel robots, born 1956. Nerdish old friend of Ted Clark. Ingrid called him out from his mother's basement to help run the Maquoketa operation. Which doesn't help out the Boston operation much.
It's the night before St. Patrick's Day, and I'm going pre-Amateur-Drunk-Day pub crawling with an old friend named Toejam! I have to find some good tapes and then stash my car near the rented room, but at least I know all the cheap places where I live. (16 Mar)
- Toejam and I rode together once before, with the female dance squad "Body Up"! We're actually both famous for it, in certain magazines for entertainment junkies and/or pubescent males.
- To prepare for a night out with Toejam, I read a magazine article saying, three out of four women don't want a dream date with Toejam. The fourth one knows he smells, but she's intrigued by security guards who might be millionaires.
- It's a raucous night. Toejam wants to check out lots of local bars, including one on the local Martin Luther King Drive. They have shootings at that bar. But he is superhuman, so I go along. As often happens, no shooting tonight.
- Afterward, I've got a new girlfriend trying to move in. She tries to sneak in at first as a tall black woman. When I see through it, the guy whose shoulders she's sitting on, helps her move boxes. Then she starts fondling me...
- But then there's an interruption. My sister's been waiting at the gas station across the street, with a message: I'm needed in Boston!
The matter comes up because Karen Bodil's of DuoPolarity has a rival on the moon, dating back to when she was abducted to "wrestling camp" there in 1995. He's come back down to Earth to swipe a DuoPolarity "training suit". And he brings along five junior wrestlers to jump Karen for old time's sake. (14 Mar)
- This rival is a guy named Terrence, the guy who came closest to pinning her then. He was the last of twelve to try.
- By his own villainous monologue admission, Terrence was 14 years old and Karen was 24. Since then, she's moved up in the world, but so has he. He took over the lunar wrestling program after the previous operator was discredited during an incident with superhumans last year. (In which I intervened.) And he has big dreams, involving the training suits.
- The training suits are valuable because they only work if they marched in from the old reality. Likewise, the DuoPolarity Challenger spaceships. Ellipsis saved the original craft, but nobody can build any more.
One might say, Karen's had a rough year. And now she's under attack.
- She's a trained triathlete and wrestler, and is now stronger than ever. So she can thrash her way out from under 400 pounds of wrestlers, at least if they're 80 pounds apiece.
- But meanwhile, her rival Terrence grabs the training suit he wanted, and also the controls to the Challenger II - which he admits is what his sponsors wanted. Then he challenges Karen to track him down and fight him to take it back.
- Terrence exits by teleporting out through the floor, like Heid-Ketzel robots used to. His minions do too, aside from one whom Karen catches. She finds out that getting sideswiped with a small teleportal is like running into an electric fence, but it won't kill you.
- Meanwhile, the Challenger II takes off from its dock - presumably with the assailants aboard. Best guess is, it's on the Moon now.
Then what? Karen has to call for help. And this help will have to get to the Moon - without the Challenger II, which was Earth's only interplanetary ship.
- But there is one option. DuoPolarity of Boston has one other anti-grav generator, mounted on the replica Evil Wing of Duct Tape that I built once - and flew as a minion of Death! Really.
- The Evil Wing can carry two people, and they'd have to wear spacesuits all the way there and back, and they'd have to go really slow on reentry to atmosphere... but it could be done.
- Under one gravity of continuous acceleration and deceleration, the Evil Wing can get near the Moon in about six hours. Two gravities, one and a half hours! Spaceships never got to the Moon that fast, but the Evil Wing can.
- We have solar-powered spacesuits with algae-powered recycling, so oxygen and power supplies aren't an issue.
- Our anti-grav generator puts out a magnetic field, so barring a major storm, space radiation isn't an issue. Neither is heavy acceleration, within reason.
- We even have one set of teleport gear that Karen captured after the assault. If we stick really close, this gear can get us both around airlocks on the Moon, which beats battering down the locks with our bare hands.
- But on the Moon, we have to move fast. It's just past new moon as viewed from Earth, which means full sunlight and 200-plus-degree temperatures at our target on the far side. Even our solar-powered cooling gear can't keep up. And that's where the secret Lunar base is, so that's our target.
- We don't quite know what to expect there. We suspect aliens are hiding there, though - even more aliens than usual.
- The Gov sent up an observation satellite to the trans-lunar Lagrange point so it could see the far side of the Moon, but the satellite apparently got shot down. So did its replacement.
- We'll just have to find out about the far side when we get there. And we'd best fly in low along the way.
- I'd have to fly the craft, because (1) I'm the only one who ever has, and (2) I've been known to walk the dimensions, which could be a useful way back from the Moon if everything else breaks.
- Karen insists on being the passenger. We try to talk her into letting a superhuman go instead, but it's not all that easy to find a superhuman volunteer for this.
- I brought my superhuman friend Toejam along for the meeting, and he's not signing up for the mission. He says, his "boys" don't like radiation.
- Fortunately, Toejam's giving us some other help. So are other superhumans whom we know. And we've got room for an equalizer or two.
- Still, this is something like a suicide mission for Karen. And it's not much better for me. Hudson says, it's like climbing a ladder to the Moon, and hoping nothing knocks it over.
- But I've actually died already - twice. I even toured the Land of the Dead once - with Karen! Death's about as ugly as Life is, for all the same reasons. But Karen and I might both have less fear in the face of Death than normal people do.
- Besides, I've already seen my friends attacked this year, and done nothing about it. I'm not going to let that happen again without a response... especially when DuoPolarity of Boston is giving me combat pay for this mission.
As often happen when I get recruited to go to the Moon, hijinks ensue. But not immediately.
- In between planets, the trip is boring. I do a bit of heroic posing at first; I even fluff my trenchcoat out a bit, because otherwise out in vacuum it just sort of sits there. The trenchcoat has its own powers, and is necessary equipment for this mission.
- But then Karen and I just have to sit, laying quietly together, nestled close to each other. Which is hard, because we're close friends and have actually been through Hell together, but we don't even like each other all that much. I can't explain it. At least we have spacesuits to separate us.
- Speaking of spacesuits... they're really no fun. DuoPolarity has really cool spacesuits with anti-itch technology... but it's not good enough when I want to scratch inside my ear. For the earpiece, I'll have to recommend a Bactine coating or something.
- Still, it's outer space. Humanity dreams of coming here, and here we are. When we get close, it's awe-inspiring to see the new Moon. Though in my present state of mind, the Moon looks way too much like a skull.
- Skull-like or not, it's fun to navigate around the Moon - in a craft which astronauts could only dream of, that I built myself (though I borrowed the engine). I begin to understand what the astronauts spent their lives to accomplish. It's too bad the secret Lunar base was already hiding from them.
- Before long, we get to the Far Side - where the heat is like an oven. A good reminder, even the side that doesn't look like a skull is a deadly place.
- On the Far Side, near our target, there's a big glowing alien - probably one of those Solarians. Oh, shit. But he just watches us pass.
- We find a very small patch of crater shade near our target, ditch the sled, detach the generator, and bring it with us. If we really need a sled made of duct tape to get back to Earth, we're screwed anyway.
- Our teleportal gets us inside, but we keep the spacesuits on. This is not exactly unusual for a lunar base. I even signal "Hello" to some of the alien races I recognize. They say "Hello" back. Hard vacuum is not my element, but weirdness is.
- Near the spaceship dock, we get challenged. Time for Equalizer #1: nine toenail clippings from the superhuman "Toejam", and each of them turns into a superhuman toe-shaped golem. Beware the big toes, they thrash men severely! (I always wanted an excuse to say "Beware My Big Toe".)
- Inside the dock, we get challenged again. Karen gets onto the Challenger II while I open Equalizer #2, a can which I have labeled "Whoopass" in big Sharpie marker letters. Inside the can is the Ultimate Darkness! Pam Brown, the Bride of Darkness, owed us a favor. Now paid in full. As the Darkness falls, I teleport on board.
- Then we fly into the Darkness - and disappear! Fortunately I'm friends with the Darkness and can navigate in it - hopefully so as to bypass all the doors and walls of a closed chamber.
- Unfortunately we come out pointed at the Solarian - and it catches the ship! We then remember learning via mental message to all Earthlings: Solarians sculpt the Darkness!
- The Solarian reaches inside the ship without touching the walls, plucks us out with two fingers, then throws us into the Darkness! Presumably he keeps the spaceship. But we land somewhere else.
A revolt against the rulers in the realm of dreams is waiting for support from Sri Lanka. Karen and I know this because we've landed at a travellers' inn - in the Dreamtime! (20 Mar)
- In south Asia, superhumans are now paid to patrol the India lands of the Tamils. It's working out so well, it's rumored the Sri Lanka lands may be next.
- The Tamils are a religious people in the Hindu manner, and are devoutly praying to their gods for deliverance from these powers which are new to their Earth. But certain of their gods live in the Dreamtime - and superhumans are patrolling there too! The Dream Balance took over there last year.
- Many of the human-form Hindu gods (Rama and maybe Krishna and maybe Vishnu, and definitely Shiva) are worshipped as father gods by about one billion people, and have better things to do than tinker with human affairs this side of the Apocalypse. Which brings us to the second level of the pantheon... the demigods, that is.
- Ganesha is the elephant-headed god of wisdom. Being wise, he's staying out of this one too.
- Hanuman is the monkey god of tricks, and is having some fun... just like trickster gods do in Scandinavia and the Great Plains, as well I know. I strongly suspect they're all the same guy. And right now, he's preventing the dream powers from casting us out.
- Karen and I say it's time for us to leave. Hanuman says it's not; nobody can leave from here. That's part of how he's preventing his supporters being cast out.
- Karen and I came here directly (and inadvertently) from a space mission which went almost perfectly but still failed. We've not only lost the thing we came to rescue, we've lost everything we brought except for what we were wearing. So, Karen is ready to hit something... And so we quickly establish, Hanuman's too quick to be hit, even by one of humanity's greatest wrestlers and triathletes.
- So we're stuck until something happens. Which shouldn't be long, if there's going to be a godwar in the Dreamtime.
- I barely keep Karen from having a nervous breakdown in the meantime. She can cope with weirdness, but not with helplessness or waiting. Probably because of all the superhuman power I've ever had, I'm used to that crap. And it certainly beats being dead, which is all we had a right to expect from this mission. Welcome to my world. Hard vacuum is not my element, but weirdness is... and so is life itself.
In Brazil a mentalist with a cleft in his skull has trouble keeping his mental bolts under control so as not to ravage Sugarloaf Mountain. (22 Mar)
- ... Here's our opening! We've waited over a day for it, which is trivial for me but torture for Karen. She's awfully surprised when I tell her to move, but she's not exactly averse to action.
- What happened? Those darn black mages are $#@!ing with the Dreamtime again. This is not exactly a surprise to me, because the Black Arts Olympics are on this year, and the Dreamtime is a major source of magic power.
- This particular black mage dip$#!+ is called "The Trepanator" (or is it "Treppanator" with two P's? Nobody quite knows), because he gets his powers from exposing his brain to oxygen, without his skull in the way. Which is to say, "trepanation". Some people swear by it. Whatever turns you on, I suppose, provided it hurts only yourself.
- Anyway, the Trepanator opens a conduit for power from the Dreamtime... straight from Hanuman. Which gives the mage lots of godly power to turn loose on Rio. Funny thing about demigods: they have to give power to mortals when mortals ask them the right way. That's the whole point of organized magic.
- So the power of Hanuman is being spewed throughout Rio de Janeiro. Which is too bad for Rio, and also too bad for Hanuman because Brazil doesn't have a lot of Hindus to appreciate his godly power. Ooh, it looks like someone played a trick on a trickster god! I love it when that happens; I've done it too.
- But it's great for me and Karen, because we can now walk back to Earth through that same conduit (as long as I lead the way), and Hanuman's too busy to stop us. And the drain on his power kind of stops his rebellion too.
- Down in Brazil, the mystic is eventually brought to bay by actors who dress up as superheroes. One of them says he is The Answer, which gets the mystic's attention - and ultimately drains his power. So Hanuman makes his way out of this, but his big deal Dreamtime rebellion is definitely on hold. (23 Mar)
- The ruling powers of the Dreamtime are probably laughing their asses off. The two of them who laugh, that is. The third is very serious. But he's probably enjoying this situation too.
Okay, we've made it back from the Moon. Now it's just a matter of getting from Rio de Janeiro to Boston, without our passports which we unfortunately didn't think of taking to the Moon with us. After we call in to say we're safe, we basically have to go to the U.S. consulate and tell them everything. And it's an all-night session, because the U.S. Gov really wants to hear about us. Oh, joy.
- The Gov is not happy that we tried to recapture Earth's only interplanetary spaceship without them. We apologized at first, but they brought it up so often and were so annoying about it, we basically dared them to do better.
- They can't really give us trouble over it, though. It was our privately-owned spaceship in a venue outside U.S. jurisdiction, after all.
- They give us some talk about presidential war powers, but we point out, when it comes to nationalizing vehicles and imprisoning U.S. citizens (who have influential friends back at home), the president would at least have to actually declare the war first. And the Prez isn't all that eager to put the war against the saucer aliens onto world TV.
- Finally they give us documentation and release us. We catch a plane home... oddly via Germany, because Lufthansa had seats handy right then, and we really wanted to go. (22 Mar)
Meanwhile, the U.S. Gov has a good idea who's worked with the alien Occulator Compuplex, and they know who's not working with them now. They've set up an ambush on alien sympathizers. Up until now, I admired their restraint. (19 Mar)
Also meanwhile, the aliens mentally advertise to all dreaming Earthlings that they have a construct called "The Beast" which looks just like Earthlings, but is strong enough to infiltrate the heroes of Earth and show random powers, like (for instance) freezing plants. That'll just make our Gov even more paranoid. Oh, joy. (24 Mar)