Startup Escalation 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 A Prequel Cauldron .
Cauldron: Part 1 2 3 4 Cauldron II .
Superhuman World 2010 is a work of fiction. The characters herein and the commentary about them should not be considered "real".
SUPERHUMAN WORLD 2010
Cauldron Part 4
What Has Gone Before. By Katerina Katzmann.
Summer Morgan and her friend Holly, superhuman agents for the United States, have tried to fight their way out of Nashville across rioters and militias. Summer's been captured by militiamen and two superhumans.
Thursday, November 6, 2010 #3
My captor was holding me up facing away from him, and practically preaching. "I Am the Bread of Death! He who eats of me shall die! He who does not eat of me shall die! Everyone shall die! For I Am the Bread of Death!"
In the pickup truck, one of the militiamen said, "Are you done yet? We gotta go."
Then a flare come up from under the bridge, in my direction. We each had one, for emergencies. Thanks, Holly.
I gave a backward groin kick, because my captor might be distracted. But the wrestler said, "Nice try, girl."
Then a searchlight swung around from the bridge. The Tennessee National Guard was up there!
And I saw a rappel line coming down. It was one of ours! USIB finally got its reinforcements here from Michigan! Holly, Liz, and Margaret Jean were all here to rescue me! I just had to help make it happen... I almost pitied our enemies.
I saw, one of the militiamen had a lightning bolt shaved into his hair. This was becoming stylish because some of the Ministry of Speed did that. I was pretty sure this guy didn't have the speed. But that gave me an idea... I said, "You know, the Ministry's just going to swipe your car's sparkplugs like they did from the other cars. You won't even see them. Then they'll leave you to walk through the rioters."
And right then their pickup truck stopped running. Hooray, one of my rescuers heard me and used the EMP gun! It was one use only, and each two-woman team only had one, but now was the time.
That got a lot of verbal responses from the guys in the pickup. The wrestler guy shouted them all down. "You pussies! They got no speed! I kept up with this one!"
I had to say something. "I was faster than you, and I haven't even had my booster shot today." Whatever.
One guy in the truck must have been the leader. He took a bullhorn and said, "Enough! Back off, or we kill this one!" He pointed a finger at me. The others in the truck pointed guns.
I had to act confident. "Oh, good luck holding me hostage and holding off the rioters and the Tennessee National Guard and the Ministry of Speed."
The leader had to ignore me. But he wasn't using the bullhorn now. "Imperilus! Guard the captive! Trooper Johnson! Disarm the captive! Men! Protective ring! March toward base!" They all grumbled, but one of them took my belt with the smoke grenades. Then they formed around him, me, and the wrestler (apparently named Imperilus) who was still holding me, and walked toward the bridge.
The National Guard was lighting us up with their searchlight. I couldn't see the wolf-woman. But I must have rattled the militia. I'd gotten them to take me toward their base - with people watching!
At the bridge, there was a lot of shouting with bullhorns, including the phrase, "We have a hostage!" In the end, the National Guard let us through. But we were headed toward downtown Nashville. Police might actually be paying attention there.
We got to a cement factory. One guy went up to the door. It was locked.
He yelled something that sounded like a passphrase. The speaker on the outside of the door blurred something back. But they weren't letting them in.
Then two police cars pulled up. Oh, I had been waiting for such a perfect moment.
On my team, we each had a flare. I still had mine; I'd thought I could get free from my captors with a groin kick instead... Actually, if I'd remembered I had the flare then, I probably would have used it.
I still had control of my forearm, and the flare was mounted there. I lit the flare into Imperilus's face.
The "protective" ring around me just fell down. There were six men with guns guarding me. There were three of Body Up in USIB power suits rescuing me. No contest.
Imperilus recovered, and said, "#@(% this!" But that's all he could say before Body Up was on him. I heard Margaret Jean say, "You don't do this to us!"
Still, he wasn't going down. With one hand swipe he brought Liz down!
But then there was someone else in the fight. It was the wolf woman! And she was at his throat! He had no helmet. She drew blood! But not much. I'd guess if this guy was going out without a gun, he wasn't too afraid of guns or knives or even sharp teeth. So what did we have that could hurt him? Certainly not one of my smoke grenades.
Then I had it. I was next to the pickup truck by now. I grabbed my emergency siren from my belt there. Then I yelled "Sirens!", and lunged at the villain's right ear. Holly did the same to his left. He yelled and staggered.
Margaret Jean yelled something. Then she stuffed something down his throat. I ducked and covered.
Flash! Bang! I recall thinking, she'd had time to get the right weapons.
I looked up. Our enemy was finally down and out.
But Holly was down now too! She hadn't been as paranoid about mystery stuff down the villain's throat as I'd been.
I wanted to look to Holly. Margaret Jean was obviously thinking the same thing about Liz.
Then I saw the police. They'd been hiding in their car, behind riot shields. I yelled, "Come get this guy!" Then I ran to Holly.
Police yelled back, "Who the hell are you?"
I held up my USIB ID badge. "You look at this badge, because I'm not going to shout it out to you here!" I shouldn't have said "badge" in front of a militia facility, but I did. Then I threw the badge at them as I looked to Holly.
Thank God, the police didn't worry about our credentials after that. They took the militiamen, three per car, and they stuffed Imperilus in a trunk because they couldn't get an ambulance up here. Thank God, a grenade down his throat was enough to keep him out long enough to make him someone else's problem.
Holly and Liz recovered in time to see that. Liz had only taken the same sort of hit I had earlier, though she didn't block as well. Holly's optics and audio receptors were out, but she was fine. We had pretty good armor.
USIB had us report to a nice hotel downtown, inside the safe zone near the Tennessee Statehouse. Thanks for finally figuring out we needed a safe place to stay.
It was awfully late, but we all called in to a phone briefing. I was okay with that. I couldn't have slept before it.
Yon opened with status from everyone but us. I'd forgotten, everyone else had stuff going on. Jenn and Cherell had to run and hide from religious militias assembling at a campground in Massachusetts. In Florida, Norma and Tanya had faced down Russian gangsters who were tracking every boat in the Caribbean. Then it was Tennessee's turn... which meant us.
The sports pub we'd investigated had at least one governor's aide there, plus the superhuman hacker Madfinger, and the superhuman nun Eve St. Marie Lateran. Madfinger was the one who'd hacked our camera. And Lateran had apparently been sent there by Russell Anvernacht, who was at least partially Satan himself. (Citation) It probably wasn't just a neighborhood meeting. USIB thinks they were organizing the rioters. Someone got beat up during protest marches downtown, of course. That was just an excuse.
The guy who'd attacked us on the hotel roof was a mercenary called Hard Falcon. He teleports, which is how he surprised us on the roof, and how he escaped. (Citation) If I'd actually managed to hit him, I might have found out he also has damage resistance and quick healing. But for some reason he didn't try to prove those powers of his to me... Anyway, he probably works for the people in the sports pub.
The colossal girl who'd started tearing the hotel down, left it alone once we'd gone, so it's still standing. So Hard Falcon probably came back and got our computers, like he said he would. Good thing we wiped them.
USIB doesn't know anything about the colossal girl. They think she might have gotten powers as a side effect of an incident with a giant lady wrestler in Nashville last year. (Citation) USIB thinks, she's a genuine rioter. She shrank back down after attacking the hotel. She might turn up anywhere.
Militias had intended to blow up the Tennessee Medicaid office, because they considered subsidies to poor people "non-emergency". Holly stopped them! When she disabled their cars with her EMP gun, she disabled everything in them too. One of those cars was a car bomb!
Militias had "Imperilus the Exterminating Son" with them - the guy who'd captured me. Police managed to get him to the hospital. He's still there - for now. But he's conscious. He could probably break out of their security at any time.
After our last fight, the wolf woman ran off. I'd guess the sirens scared her. Imperilus had brought her there as her captive. It seems she was the famous Wolf Woman of Iowa! I guess they'd be calling her the Wolf Woman of Tennessee now.
The concrete factory was some sort of militia staging area. When their raiding party showed up with law enforcement and superhumans in pursuit, the people inside locked down and denied involvement. Without a warrant, police weren't going in. Without heavy weapons or the element of surprise, we weren't either. For all we know, they've got a small army in there.
The National Guard got some troops up to protect the Tennessee state offices from rioters and militiamen. But all the neighborhoods nearby are still without law.
Just across the river from where I'd been fighting for my life, black Baptists were hosting a convention of the Nehemiah Covenant organization. Some war hero named Stonewater Smith was addressing them. The convention promised to go in the neighborhoods and "stand in the gap", whatever that meant. Their mission statement was, "survival with social justice". That didn't sound good for keeping anyone quiet right now.
I asked, "Can we take any of these people down?"
Battalion commander Yon Schmidt answered: "Not by ourselves. USIB is an observation agency, not an enforcement agency. But yes, the executive branch of the government is paying close attention."
"So other than Holly saving Medicaid, what did we just accomplish?"
"That's already enough to get you both medals. But beside that, you did what intelligence agents always do. You let people know what's going on. Believe me, that's more important than anything. Can you imagine what would happen if we just sent people in without knowing this stuff?"
"Yes! You sent us in without knowing this stuff!"
"Case proven. We gave you the best equipment we had. And you had superhuman powers. Do you want army grunts putting their lives on the line the same way?"
"No! That's not good enough! Holly and I went through hell!"
Norma, our boss from Body Up, came in. "Summer. We know. We care. But hush for now."
Then Yon said, "You won. You win now. You just spent an hour giving us the high points of what you went through today. Whatever you say tomorrow, we'll be listening. But rest first."
Holly and I get tomorrow off, and maybe the day after. People from USIB are coming to interview us and repair our suits, while Liz and Margaret Jean go on patrol. There are still plenty of things to watch here.
I don't want to stay here, because something even worse than this whole day is still ready to happen. But the others are staying, and I can't leave them here by themselves. Next time, maybe I'll have to rescue them.
This story's superhuman characters were mostly randomly chosen. One of the choices was collectively the women of "Body Up", who are based on all the author's friends who go to exercise class. So "Holly" and "Summer" are based on real women who go to exercise class this year. I'm wondering how to tell them they've made it into the novel. But I have the same problem from earlier stories. Even "Norma" has yet to find out, and I'm not sure how I could find her to tell her. I have to admit, I can usually hide these things because my stories pass well under the mainstream radar.
Imperilus the Exterminating Son and the Wolf-Woman of Iowa somehow avoided getting on my list when I was choosing randomly. When I realized this, I put them in the story automatically.
The outcome of the big fight at the end was also randomly chosen. I had to decide whether the wacko militiamen (or at least their strong man) would be captured, escape, or meet up with reinforcements and prevail. For my three-way "coin toss", I used the outcome of the latest Dancing with the Stars finale. Let us not go into details. But thank you, America, for picking the happy ending.
Famous writers such as Neil Gaiman like to take seventy-five monthly issues to tell their complete story cycles. That is to say, six to seven years. My own stories qualify - by a factor of four. Yes, I've been writing for a while.
I've noticed a three-year cycle in my own stories; I've enjoyed the unintentional intensity of 2004 and 2007. But I now notice a six to seven year cycle in my stories. I can describe that cycle as:
Rec.arts.comics.creative has seen roughly the last year of the last cycle. The current story "Cauldron" is the major story for these last three years and seven years. I hope it's worthy.
If I had to extrapolate, I'd have to say my next seven-year cycle is that I increase my web production values with active content, and build an active online readership. After that, I might finally go traditionally professional - if traditional profession in publication means anything by then. Thank you rec.arts.comics.creative for continuous peer review that might help me do that.
I've sympathized for my poor characters being assaulted, but I've loved to read this story as I wrote it and the stories leading up to it. I keep saying, "Shit!" Shit Indeed.
This is the sort of story that comic books are infamous for. Here we have an Earth-wide crisis. How shall we bring things back to normal? ... No. We shall not. There can be no "normal" after a crisis like this.
I know where this story leads. I've actually written that story already. I call it "Earth 2011". And a mighty story it is, in my own opinion. But I don't really feel like writing it again. I'd rather write about (for instance) why people have to erect pyramids along the St. Lawrence River to ward off the evil spirits.
I won't abandon my world or its story, though. For me it's all one story line, and it never ends. But I'm ready to take the next cycle a different way.
Superhuman World 2010 is leading to survivalists. I love reading a survivalist story as much as anyone, and if I were to go pro I'd probably have to knock one out, but I'm likely to write other stuff more regularly.
My story is already full of universes. I have one world of interest, from 2003-2005 stories. It's the kind of world where mystic Egyptians might actually need to help secure the St. Lawrence River against demons. I've already declared a way there, through the Sunset Door. My avatar Wyatt Ferguson is likely to be there, helping refugees onto a world that already had its catastrophe and needs people to help it recover.
For people who actually read my stories, I propose the following codewords:
(signed) Scott Eiler, 26 November 2010.
Various characters in this fiction may have been created by various people - especially "Crusher Joe Corrigan" who once came from Joe Fucile. But absent claims from these people, all characters in this fiction and the phrase "Superhuman World 2010" are copyright © 2010 by Eiler Technical Enterprises.
The map of the Superhuman World is based on one from Henry Bottomley's map software which is well worth a visit.