The Adventures of Me in the Marvel Universe:
The Adventures of Me 2002
The Great Jellyfish Hunt
Jellyfish Hunt? Why are we hunting jellyfish, anyway? Because these aren't just any jellyfish; these are mind-controlling alien jellyfish. And they've messed with my life more than once, so I've joined the hunt. And I go to one of the hunters' briefings, and take notes.
What do we know about the jellyfish? I know from personal experience that these creatures fly, have electrical powers, communicate via electricity and telepathy, and like to hang out with terrorists.
Where are they living? Most of them seem to be in Lake Michigan. They like freshwater.
How do they protect themselves? Many of them have volunteered to stand sentry duty on the major approaches to the lake. They usually set themselves up in water towers, with special transmitting equipment so their mind control can go for miles.
What do they eat? Microbes, largely. The ones in the lake eat freshwater fish, and send rations in to the sentries.
Who else knows this stuff? The readers of the Weekly World News and some other fine tabloids, but that's about it.
What's the U.S. Government doing about it? Apparently they are not taking reports of flying jellyfish seriously... or if they are, they're suppressing them along with all the other UFOs that ever got categorized as "weather balloons".
Who's this "we" in the Jellyfish Hunt, anyway? The hunt's being led by a bunch of paintball players.
Paintball players? Why?
- How can they fly? They're like big hydrogen balloons, only compartmentalized inside. They're built well enough not to go "pop" or "boom". After all, we humans are like big water balloons, and we don't go down the drain when we're poked with pins.
- How can they control electricity? Same way an electrical eel does, only on a scale large enough to perform electrolysis on water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.
- How can they control minds? Same way our human telepaths do, and nobody's figured them out either. Our finest scientists say they can someday build mind-reading equipment, hopefully without burning out the subject mind in the process... but mind-control is a bit beyond that. Not unachievable, of course, but the technology might need a few centuries of work.
How's the Jellyfish Hunt going? Not terribly well, for the hunters.
- They have experience. Lots of trained soldiers and militiamen play paintball. The others make up for their lack of professional experience with lots of practice.
- They have organization. You should see the effort that goes into some of those paintball games.
- They have power over Jellyfish. Fresh paint not only does a number on Jellyfish senses, it inhibits their mind control if you get a head shot on one of their underlings.
- The Jellyfish in their water towers can usually detect the hunters approaching their Lake Michigan habitat, and can usually mind-control them away.
- When they can't, they can summon some human underlings for a massive paintball fight.
- Even if Our Team has numerical superiority, the Jellyfish mind control tends to even things up.
- And policemen usually come break these battles up, leaving the Jellyfish in their towers.
Until I came to Illinois, the paintballers couldn't even get to O'Hare Airport, which kind of interfered with their coast-to-coast travel. One of the jellyfish habitats in the western suburbs guarded its approaches. Anyone the Jellyfish didn't like who came in on a plane would have a seizure.
But then I came to the Chicago suburbs for the Silly Days Parade. The parade was such a tourist attraction, the Jellyfish were overwhelmed. (We figure they'd learned how to filter out the mass of travellers through O'Hare Airport, but only with special equipment that they didn't have time to place near the parade ground.) I'd organized the parade, so the Jellyfish tried to get me out of the way. The Jellyfish Hunters showed up just in time to help me, so I owe them one. I'm joining the hunt.
What's the plan? The Jellyfish Hunters have to admit, they need a change of strategy. They plan to set up one of their usual mass assaults on one target... while special forces deal with another.
What do they have for special forces? It seems I fall in the "special forces" category, because the hunters have noticed I do some strange stuff... like Hulk out. But besides me, there's...
What's the goal? The Paintball Hunters would like to get a tanker truck of special chemicals into the south end of Lake Michigan. That should send the Jellyfish fleeing from four out of five Great Lakes.
What's the target? The big mass of paintball hunters is going to assault Michigan City, Indiana. But we're going to sneak into Saint Joseph, Michigan. The tanker truck is waiting in South Bend, Indiana, and can make it either place if something succeeds.
How do we get there if Jellyfish can mind-control us away? Hopefully the mass of paintballers in Michigan City will get their attention. Even if not, we hope we can make it in. Yon and Kristi both say they can resist the mind control. And I have a car that drives itself, so I plan on sleeping all the way there.
Surprises are bad and planning is good, so how exactly are we getting in?
- My relatively new friend the Panther girl, who's been with the hunt ever since I brought her back from the future. She's been hanging out with some Indian tribes of our Pacific Northwest, and soaking up their totemistic whale powers. Which would explain her recent swimming abilities. But she says if I start calling her "the Whale girl", she'll smack me one. So I'll just call her "Kristi", because that's her real name.
- And there's a guy who calls himself Yon Schmidt, Scheiss Hauptman, who has some interesting business cards with a "yssh" logo. And the more he talks, the more I get interested.
Well, I suppose if I can have dinner with Thanos, I can work with this guy.
- His claim is, he specializes in shitty situations. Hence the German name for him, "Shit Captain". Although his English-language business cards say, "Yon Schmidt, Shit Hunter."
- He made it to the Silly Days Parade in Illinois, while I was there. In fact, he marched with the Sludge Brothers there, just for kicks.
- He was also at the Ultimate Brawl afterwards. In fact, he fired a drugged dart that made me lose the first match. But it was nothing personal; he's the live-in boyfriend of my opponent, who was also the Grand Marshall of the parade.
- But he says, he's definitely on the same team as me today. He's kind of annoyed at his girlfriend being mind-controlled by the Jellyfish.
What are we doing once we hit town?
- As I said... I have a car that drives itself, but that's just a diversion; I'm coming in on the train, by way of an alternate universe to boot. My car will be waiting for me. So will my bicycle, just in case.
- Kristi's diving into Lake Michigan from a low-flying plane, and swimming ashore and up the St. Joseph River. Yow, I guess she must be a whale girl now... especially since the mission's in late November. She's already confronted a Jellyfish underwater and won, so she's probably safe.
- Yon says he'll spend a day or so in town beforehand, and be waiting for us.
We figure things will hit the fan when I step off the train, so that's when Kristi will hit town.
- Kristi's going for the local watertower to take out the resident Jellyfish.
- I'm making a diversion; I don't know what yet, but I typically wake up with a random superpower every day, so I'm usually good for something.
- Yon's on overwatch; he's going to set up a sniper post on a rooftop. He warns us he could be using rubber bullets, because paintballs just don't have a lot of projectile power.
I'd like to end the story here and say things went according exactly to plan... but no plan with me in it is ever exact.
Before I boarded the train in Chicago, I bought a newspaper. It mentioned Captain America addressing the United Nations. So far, so good; Cap's in one universe and the Jellyfish are in another. It's only me who's in both. So, on to St. Joseph.
My train hit town about half an hour late, in the middle of a lake-effect snowstorm.
When I hit the main street, people were pouring out of bar rooms. Militia alert? Could be. And one group noticed me, obviously a stranger in town because nobody comes to visit Lake Michigan during an ice storm if they don't have to. I moved casually away, but another group blocked me.
- When I got off, my car was waiting for me in the parking lot... but so were a bunch of militiamen, and I had no reason to believe they were my side. At least I knew I'd landed in the right universe, but that was the limit of my good news. As soon as I got off the train, they could all just jump me, and that would be the end of my diversion-making. What to do?
- About then, the Shit Hunter came through: a volley of paintballs flew through the militiamen. No head shots, unfortunately; they all ducked and rolled. But he got their attention while I dashed for the terminal. But how to get out?
- Well, I do have a hat, trenchcoat and stick that all fly, and I'm famous for carting them around. So I had them come out of the terminal, and fly away. Half the militiamen gave chase, while the others tried to find the source of the sniper fire. Overall, they looked confused. More importantly, they all left.
- So I walked over to my car, took out another coat and hat (this time a bit more parka-like, which makes sense during a Michigan lake-effect storm) and a fairly unobtrusive cane, and walked into town.
- I could have driven, but that would have made me less obvious, and I was there to make a diversion. Besides, why show all my assets at once? But I did have my car go into town by a different route.
Yon the Shit Hunter was up on the hotel rooftop, picking off militiamen with rubber bullets as they chased my coat. But then he got a call for help from Kristi the Whale Girl. So did I, for that matter. I talked the local militia into following me up to the water tower, but by then things had been decided.
- You'd think a big gathering of militiamen like this would have attracted the attention of our friendly sniper by now, but no. Later, I found out he was busy.
- Well, okay. My superpower for the day was waiting to release itself. When everyone was close in around me, I farted. But this wasn't just any fart; it was the Fart of Freedom.
- You see, if fresh paint has power over Jellyfish mind control, then other smelly things might too. And if anything's smelly, my farts are. With a little bit of Superpower of the Day thrown in, there's no reason it can't work as well as turpentine.
- And so it did. The Jellyfish don't bother with mind control over every militiaman in their service, but they do control the leaders. I saw two leaders there shudder, because they had not only been through one of my smelly farts, they had memories of Jellyfish in their minds. So I apologized for being so smelly, and offered to buy a round of beer. The leaders accepted, and that was it for half the militia in town. As for the other half...
Anyway, we not only all made it home, we caused such a ruckus among the Jellyfish hive mind that our forces down in Michigan City stormed right in. The tanker truck dumped there, and the Jellyfish in the lake all had to flee. The ones in the water towers surrendered, because all that water comes from Lake Michigan. And everything downriver from there is now uninhabitable for Jellyfish. Hooray for us!
- Kristi had made it there unnoticed, but she still had to deal with a Jellyfish. It had come out of the water tower and was waiting for her. Her scent-defenses didn't work so well against it in the open air. So there she was, wrapped in an electric-stinging Jellyfish.
- Fortunately Yon had a paintball howitzer, and he was good enough with it to sting the Jellyfish back. Kristi did the rest. The folks back home wanted a live specimen to look at, but that didn't happen.
The Jellyfish Hunt is winding down for now. They say there might be some little colonies of Jellyfish in the Finger Lakes of New York, and some big colonies in Lake Superior, Great Slave Lake in northern Canada, and Lake Baikal in Siberia, but they're surely not a problem around here anymore.
The Adventures of Me in the Marvel Universe: