Me in Comic Books:
The Adventures of Me 2004
The Aleutian Crisis
I live in a world of heroes, and of superhumans. Not always do these concepts meet.
You may not recognize these people; they don't live where you do. But heroes or not, superhumans or not, they've been working hard to change their world for years. By now, it would barely look familiar to you... except in my experience, all worlds tend to look similar, as long as humans live there.
I'm just beginning to understand why some people call this year the Anno Ellipsis 14. Not only is a superhuman called Ellipsis involved, "Ellipsis" literally means the punctuation symbol "..."; it stands for "et cetera", "and so on", and so on. There's a lot of "and so on" in my world, since superhumans went public in 1990.
This year, it's coming to a head. I begin to be scared. You see, I just learned what comes next.
Next! Various Arctic territories have split off from their benevolent democratic overlords in the last few years. First it was Greenland from Denmark, then Keewatin from Canada. Now, the Aleuts want to be next. They live in Alaska and Siberia - that is to say, the United States and Russia. This Arctic independence movement is now getting the close attention of world powers.
- The Aleutian Islands want to secede from the United States. Actually, they always did, because allegedly even the Tsars of Russia treated the native Aleuts better than the U.S. "Indian" reservation system has. (Do a Web search on "Aleut independence movement" if you don't believe me.)
- Now Aleutian independence might just happen. They've gotten Ellipsis himself to sponsor their bid for independence, just like he did for Greenland and Keewatin.
- The Aleut independence movement has two factions: one which is willing to embrace technology and work with the outside world, one full of mystics and naturalists who just want to live The Old Ways. Ellipsis is (of course) working with the tech faction.
- The Pribilof Islands (in the Bering Sea, way off the main chain of Aleutians) are spearheading this movement. They're building their own Aleut Independence Museum on their Island of Saint Paul. (8 Jan 2004)
- To help make this happen, people want to assassinate the Governor of Texas: George W. Bush.
- Now don't tell me, I know what you're thinking...
- Isn't he President Bush? Not here he isn't. Like I said, the superhumans have been changing the world. Hillary Rodham, the ex-wife of the former governor of Arkansas, is President. And nobody calls her "President Bush" to her face.
- What happened to change the Presidents? The real President Bush, George H.W., declared a Superhuman Control Initiative in 1992. It was so popular, it got him re-elected against that former Arkansas governor. But he went overboard with it, and attacked the Bahamas to root out some rogue superhumans in 1996. Said superhumans, led by Ellipsis, promptly trounced him. Mr. Bush resigned in disgrace; Dan Quayle served as president for about a month before the resultant Democratic electoral landslide.
- But if the name of Bush is so disgraceful, why is his son still a Governor? It seems some states have a backlash against anyone who would dare to make America less great. Florida, in solidarity with the Bahamas, is having nothing to do with the Bush family. But Texas, on the other hand, brought "Dubya" into the statehouse in 2000. Most of his relatives live nearby now.
- So why do Aleut sympathizers dislike the governor of Texas? President Rodham is trying to defuse the situation by granting the Aleutians territorial status with extra autonomy. The Japanese are poised to invest there now, and the American territory of Guam is taking notes. But Governor Bush is trying to milk the situation for lots of "making America great" rhetoric. Not that Texas has ever tried to secede or anything... oh, right, I forgot the American Civil War. Apparently, so did the Governor (or "Guvna" for short).
- And there I am in the Texas Statehouse in Austin, as a consultant on superhuman affairs.
- Why would they want their own consultant on that? Most states have one now, as do many local jurisdictions. New York City has had one since 1992.
- What good do local consultants do? Ever since the Federal invasion of the Bahamas collapsed, the U.S. Gov has sworn off interference in superhuman affairs. State governments find themselves having to handle their own affairs on this.
- Why would they hire me? Last year, the Governor of California hired me as a consultant on superhuman-related phenomena. I am not (currently) superhuman myself, but I do have some recent demonstrated expertise in dealing with them.
- Besides, my brother was on that same job. And he's ex-U.S. Army. Of course, they asked for him first, but he was busy and he recommended me.
- The Governor of Texas has a weakness towards hiring his own brothers, so he understood. Thank you, I think.
- Why would I accept? Well, it's either work for a living, or go hang out in a trailer park on an Indian reservation for the rest of my life. Admittedly the trailer park is survivable, but I'm betting it's not the Maker's will for my life.
- One day in the Texas Statehouse, I'm on my way down to the cafeteria, when I encounter a dry run of an assassination attempt on George W. Bush and his nephews. The assassin's awfully confident he won't get caught first. And I recognize the assassin; I met him at an Internet party for chaos mages once. I'd guess, this guy is (at least) sympathetic to the Aleutian mystics.
- What to do? Back in the day, when America was threatened, I'd go fight it myself. This year, I'm more sensible; I just go tell the Statehouse guards everything I know. And that's it for me. (9 Jan 2004)
A Week on the Other Side, or, Siberia This Time of Year. After a brush with danger in Texas, I get the bright idea of avoiding trouble and laying low... in the middle of Siberia, in the middle of January. Climatically speaking, it may not be the best idea I ever had, but nobody will be expecting it.
- After my last couple of contracts, I can afford it, especially with one of those impulse package deals.
- If I go to Bratsk, I can write a travel article about Siberia's largest hydroelectric reservoir. Also Siberia's most polluted city, which is impressive for how remote it is.
- The railroads go there, but just barely; I have to go to Krasnoyarsk first, which has the Trans-Siberian Railroad and Korean tourists skiing and everything.
- And I have to fly in via Vladivostok. Russians are still kind of paranoid about Americans flying in to Siberia the easy way over the North Pole. So it's a full trans-Pacific trip plus a transfer across half of Siberia.
- I could also get some good public opinion for the article, if I do it right. That'll make it a current affairs article, which sells for much more than a travel article does.
- So I invite a Russian friend of mine along to help ask the natives how they feel about the Aleutians. But he has to cancel at the last moment, so I have to bring a friend from India along instead. Two tickets in advance, dontcha know.
- And yes, Siberia is cold in January. We have a good enough time hiking and harvesting hiking sticks none the less, but I don't get a terribly good article out of it, just another load of travel stuff for my usual customers.
- Krasnoyarsk does have an ethnic museum, with a curator who's all in favor of Arctic autonomy. But otherwise, the parts of the Russian public I get to talk to, give me the distinct impression that they care much more about solid foreign currency than about indigenous peoples. (17 Jan 2004)
A Day in the Movement, or, Alaska This Time of Year. Activist superhumans have started going to the Bering Sea's St. Paul Island in shifts, for moral support and to make sure if something happens to violently deter their independence movement, there's at least some kind of witness.
- Way back in 1990 when superhumans went public, they emerged first at a college (Michigan State University, to be precise), and they called themselves The Balance. The surviving original members of that team either work for the UN now (Morningstar and the Mighty Tim), or they went into business for themselves (Ellipsis).
- Now there are more students with superpowers, and they're reviving the concept. They're organizing themselves across campus lines, and they're calling themselves New Balance.
I still have a trenchcoat that can fly and drag me along with it, so I'm able to fake superhuman power and tag along with a group of Penn State University student-heroes. No, I'm not snitching them out to the Guvna of Texas, even though I just worked for him. But if I'm going to be a consultant on superhumans, I should at least stay current on the phenomenon.
The day is relatively uneventful, thank God. We spend 24 hours in the Aleutians, awake and asleep.
- So I drive to the town of State College, Pennsylvania with some friends. They want to see a week-long activist conference the following week; I just want the Aleutian tour action. We get going as soon as I get back from Siberia.
- The cops on the way are kind of twitchy; we got pulled over, and dragged to the police station to get interrogated about terrorist-related ritual murders at addresses beginning with "2" in states beginning with "I". Not that Pennsylvania begins with an "I", but the police say they're just being thorough.
- Unfortunately, I come from Illinois and my friends from Iowa, so we get special attention. And I live at 270# Whatever Lane, so I personally get that extra special attention.
- Personally, I think the cops are just looking for an excuse to harass the activists coming into town. But eventually they have to let us go. I guess it helps that we're all way past college age.
- And they don't even delay us long enough. My policy of taking three days to drive 600 miles even when I have relief drivers has paid off.
- On the morning of our activism, we gather on the sidewalk outside the local comic book shop. These shops are kind of a universal informal gathering place for superhumans nowadays, but (it being a Sunday morning) the shop is closed. New Balance sends a teleporter for us, to get us from State College, Pennsylvania to Saint Paul, Alaska.
- Our teleporter calls herself "Nightlight", because she leads us through a dimension of darkness (or something) to get us here.
- Nightlight says she came from Cal Berkeley; she's just helping out for the day, though she's staying for the tour (unlike the teleporters usually do). She tries to volunteer her powers to a different organization each month. Last month she says she helped out the Governor of California, with the proceeds going to a homeless shelter in Berkeley.
- Hey, I did that last month too! (Albeit with the proceeds going to me.) It seems we were on the same project! My team fought Toons, her team fought evil mages! It's a long story... but let's just say, my respect for some of these student-activists just went up a notch.
- Of course, the other student activists are a mixed lot. They're not all from Penn State; a lot of them travelled here to get in on the action, just like I did.
- There's Ron Cannon, a militant black guy from New York City with some telekinesis powers. Lots of rhetoric, but decent enough.
- Ron has a friend who calls himself "Blue 9". He's a big white jock, but decent enough, and super strong.
- There's "Boom Chick" and "Shock Guy", who can cause and absorb explosions, respectively. Quite rude, and quite the matched pair.
- And finally there's "Slipstream", who has some wind control powers. But he must be in a special class, because he's retarded. Fine with me; (little known fact) I grew up that way. Only by the grace of the Maker did I grow out of it.
- Our retarded teammate Slipstream has a handler, an older woman named Margaret. She has no superpowers, so Shock Guy uses that as an excuse to try to get her and her charge thrown off the mission.
- But I can still make hiking sticks fly around. So, before anyone else can start an argument with Shock Guy, I ask for a moment... then I give Margaret a trained stick which can fly on its own. There now, she has a magic artifact. That was good enough to get me on the mission, so it should work for her. And Nightlight buys into this.
- Of course, Shock Guy then tries to get me thrown off the mission 'cause I'm too old. But Ron Cannon points out, professors tag along with the New Balance all the time, so there's no age limit.
- Slipstream and his friend get along fine with most of us. He actually hits it off with Blue 9, who works with the retarded on occasion. (The more I hang out with these people, the better most of them get.)
- As for Nightlight, she later gives me her phone number, in case I have some good opportunities for voluntarism. Which is more than she does for Blue 9, who hit on her all day.
- Hey, I volunteer too, at a charity thrift store. I've actually recruited for them on occasion.
- Besides, she and I fought for the same cause just last month, and she says she heard some good stuff about that weird guy who led the time travel team on that mission. That would actually be me.
- Besides besides, the way I solved that argument about Slipstream and his friend, I just now spared her an argument with The Movement.
- It seems campus superhumans have their own pecking order, which she's not too keen on. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
As we leave, we're told to expect this one tribal elder who usually greets the visitors. No, he's not an insightful mystic, he's just another old man who barely notices the present but spends his lifetime trying to remember World War II. I figure that's as good a reason to pay my respects as any; my dad and my grandpa both enlisted for that.
- I've actually been to the Aleutian Islands before, but it was summertime, and I was kind of concentrating on my own affairs then, so I didn't pay a lot of attention to culture.
- In January the Aleutians are kind of cold, like Seattle but more so. Our day is typically foggy with freezing drizzle. Kind of like Pennsylvania or Chicago only wetter, though not nearly as cold as Siberia.
- The houses could be better, and according to the Aleuts, they were once; the tribe used to live in nice warm hobbit holes or something, before they got forcibly resettled out of the way of the Japanese Navy.
- For our activities, there's way more slogan-making than I like in life. My party even makes me get up and say a few words about how I like my nation, but I can still come here to learn something. Reportedly I make a nice sound byte on the national news that night. Oh joy.
- I thought the locals might be a bit more receptive to outsiders learning about their grievances. But no, they just want outsiders out, especially me 'cause I look less "Native" American than I really am. Well, excuse me for living where the White Man took over centuries ago.
- I have to admit, I have a laid-back perspective on cultural takeover. A small fraction of my ancestors were Mashantucket Pequot Indians from New England, but most of them were Germans who came to North America to dodge Napoleon or the first Kaiser. Their cultural heritage on our continent was systematically wiped out in 1917... but it's just as well I didn't grow up wearing lederhosen.
- The Aleutian locals have been through a complete cultural takeover too; they all dress just like normal Americans, at least normal Americans who live in Seattle. And I don't see them whining about that.
- But their juvenile delinquents are still especially expressive about wanting us out. And there surely are a lot of them, and all foul-mouthed. Must be something to do with sitting around the Res (or whatever it's called up here) all day, collecting unemployment and surfing the Internet at the public library. I've been there too, and I wouldn't go back.
- Why exactly would these guys want the US Gov out, when they need the US Gov for subsidies? Hell if I know. Best I can figure, they just want to see the Glory Days again, but haven't really planned how to get there.
- Even so, things look ugly. Riot ugly. But then the winds pick up, and the local JDs duck for cover.
- Then my retarded teammate Slipstream comes over and hugs me. Hey, he does control the wind! So I hug him too. One point for our side.
- And afterward, at least I get to see the Aleut Independence Museum. Honestly, it's a lot like any small town museum anywhere, but I live for that kind of thing. And unlike my Siberian trip, I just got there without paying air fare! (25 Jan 2004)
- But the guy's not receiving visitors today; they say the moaning noises coming from his house mean he's miserable for the old days again, before he got resettled. Oops, no uniform for him, just an internment camp. A reminder that the Aleuts do have grievances. (26 Jan 2004)
God Loves, Man Kills Here Too, or, The Willow Farm Intervention. Okay, I got in an incident at a church. It was kind of unpleasant, and the United Nations made a big deal over it, but it was really just business as usual for me. So I'll try to make this story quick.
- I've just gotten back from trips to Siberia and Alaska, so here in Illinois I naturally don't think it's too cold for a bike ride this January. That's usually a nice way to stay away from crazies who think I might interfere in a freelance change of government.
- It's Sunday, so I visit a church. But the people are crazy and their leader is running a cult of personality. I duck out early, to help one of my friends from my regular sane church brew some beer. Hey, Jesus made wine.
- That gets me on their Enemies List. As I leave their premises, they trap me in a diner opposite the church. How? They drive me inside with ice pellets, then telekinetically move the picnic furniture to block the doors! How? Well, I don't know, but I'd guess they have some superhumans in the congregation. Oh joy. Oh, and there's gunfire; one man gets wounded.
- I may not be superhuman, but at least I still have a ratty old trenchcoat that can fly, and it'll come meet me here. So, when it gets here, I give the other people a list of phone numbers to call for help in my name, like my brother, and some mages and superhumans I know. Hey, with any luck someone on the list will listen to them and help us out.
- Then I pop out the ceiling exit, and draw the church's attention so the rest of the diner crew can get away. As might be expected, I'm captured. They blindfold me and stuff me in a car.
- When they unpack and unwrap me, Henry Heid is there! His Heid-Ketzel Temple has made three attempts to capture me before this. It looks like Mr. Heid's left the Temple, but he's found some powerful allies.
- As might be expected, they have a mind controller in house, and he's sadistic. He decides to subject me to my own nightmares.
- So there I am, back in high school. I'm grown up still, but I have to go get recertified for all that important stuff I learned back then... like how to dissect a fetal piglet. And my classmates are still sadistic. And when I get home at night, the neighbors all have crying infants they want to pawn off onto me.
It's been a while since I had superpowers, but if there's one thing I can still do, it's control my own fantasy life. So I get all my favorite fantasy heroes into the mix, like The Tape, the Colon in the Hat, Groinstorm and his arch-nemesis the Man-Meat, and the Mad Scotsman. They all have their own comic books where I come from, though admittedly kids can't buy some of these comics. I even dress up as some of these characters on Halloween and other special occasions.
- Hijinks ensue. Not that I fight my way free or anything, but at least it's fun for a while.
- Still, in the end, I'm in a dungeon in my dreams. Well, actually, it's a 24 x 7 customer support center, and I'm chained to my plastic desk next to a water spout, a food pellet dropper, and a chamberpot. They say I'll never leave again. And of course, every time I even think about escape, the phone rings... which kind of rules out sleep too.
- But then I've suddenly got a friend in there with me. It's Vara Hosea, one of those mages I mentioned! She says they got my message, and they've been looking for me! She unplugs my phone, wards off my overseers, and stays there with me while I sleep.
- I can't say I have good dreams, though; among other things, I dream of dead creatures popping out of me.
When I come to, I'm back in the real world, surrounded by UN peacekeepers with black helicopters, baby blue helmets... and mongo serious battle armor.
- It would seem that practically all my connections took me seriously! Specifically, my brother has his own connections with the United Nations peacekeeping force Paxis, and he's gotten me onto a short list of UN consultants (yes, I've worked for the UN) whose abductions are to be treated as international incidents. Cool!
- Thanks to the people who escaped when I was captured, other people knew where to find me. I was held captive in the basement of the local megachurch, Willow Farm Community Church!
- So Paxis sent a strike force, which my brother led. They found their target all confused... because my friends the mages were taking me seriously too, and they'd already sent a bunch of Heid-Ketzel robots in to blockade the place where the cult was holding me!
- As it turns out, it is not a good idea to send Heid-Ketzel robots to besiege a compound when Henry Heid himself is secretly in residence; Heid has a remote control he can use on these things. They started engaging the UN troops, as did the pet mutants who helped capture me in the first place.
- But meanwhile some other superhumans I called came in too! My militia friends didn't show (maybe they couldn't get here in force fast enough), but DuoPolarity of Boston sent people in some of their superpowered training suits, and Nightlight and my friend Jill from Total Conversion showed up too. Hijinks ensued.
- And in the meantime, Vara broke me out, with a little help from my flying trenchcoat and a legion of dead creatures; she is still the Champion of Death, after all. And the creatures had a grudge against my captor; they struck hard. (Hence my weird dream.)
- She says I was awake for part of the action, and scared the fundies off by talking about binding the strong man and sending the goats to judgment... concepts straight from the Bible.
- I lasted until the UN peacekeepers found me. Not that I remember this stuff, but it's good to hear I helped save me.
- It paid off for the UN, because not only did they capture Henry Heid and a guy nicknamed "Dr. Drugs", they bagged a superhuman war criminal!
- That guy who was trying to torment my dreams was the infamous Philippe Saint-Josephe Lateran, who helped run a private army of superhumans in the Caribbean in the 1990s - and slaughtered a bunch of Subhumans! (Hence the grudge of the dead creatures.) Reportedly this guy was one of the best mind controllers in the world.
- So what was he doing here? It was all about the megachurch.
- Whenever (say) Mel Gibson wants to talk 5000 pastors from throughout the world into supporting his new movie about Jesus of Nazareth being tortured, my local megachurch is where he goes.
- So Monseigneur Lateran went there too. He took over there and in several similar places, then started establishing branch offices. Like many others before him, he found that militant evangelical Christians make a really good power base.
- Long term? They found evidence that Mr. Lateran was going to recruit people to intervene in the Aleutian crisis... against the pagan Aleutians (well, actually they're mostly good Russian Orthodox, but that's almost as tempting a target to him) and all the activist superhumans who've been issuing statements of support for them.
- Why the poor Aleut natives? Mostly because they make a convenient target for "One Nation Under God" types. Otherwise those types would be protesting about gay marriage or some video wench's boobs or something.
- That's how I got his personal attention. I'm semi-famous for sympathizing with the Aleuts. So the moment I walked into one of Lateran's cult churches, I got noticed. The moment I walked out, the capture team went after me.
- So how'd I give this guy a hard time in my dreams?
- Well, one of the weaknesses in Lateran's mind control is children; they always break loose earlier, because they don't respect his dignity or something. And my own fantasy life is nothing if not childlike. The guy got so annoyed at me, that he neglected to escape like he always has before.
- But it also helped that all my friends came to rescue me. Monseigneur Lateran really hadn't planned on an international incident when he captured me... and he wasn't ready for all my friends showing up. I gotta say, it surprised me too. Maybe I should actually trust more in my friends from now on. (20-22 Jan 2004)
Postlude: A United Nations force has just intervened on United States territory, and uncovered a plot by an international war criminal against an oppressed section of the population. Just like they did in Iraq last year. The governments of Texas, Cook County in Illinois, and the Vatican City are all fighting off allegations of involvement. The US Gov itself looks innocent but negligent. You can bet it's a big deal.
- It's so big, the Aleuts eventually walk. Their international status becomes something like the Republica Srbska of Bosnia. Which is to say, the Aleutian Republic is pretty much a sub-nation now. Which is to say, the United States of America have now started being Balkanized. And I helped.
- I'd be a lot happier about this, if I thought it was actually going to help the Aleuts. They may think they're free now to harvest all the seals they can (which was a big part of what they wanted). But now as a part of the world community, they'll have to deal with the resultant international outrage on their own.
- And now they won't have Kindly Uncle Sugar to back them up. Moral mistakes were made when cultures clashed, but now the weaker culture has laid aside all claim to the protection of the stronger. Maybe those Japanese companies the Aleuts made deals with will treat them better, but somehow I doubt it. Corporations have sealskin quotas to meet, after all.
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All characters in this fiction are copyright © 2009 by Eiler Technical Enterprises.