Me in Comic Books:
The Adventures of Me 2004
A few months ago, I inexplicably found myself at the head of a small business, which I proudly call the FERG (currently signifying Freedom Engineering Research Group). Now I have to make it work - even when people outside the company have demands on my time.
Calling Out the Guards. The United Nations is mobilizing its reservists to deal with increasing world crises. And the reserves would actually include me... sort of.
- Yes, I'm a United Nations reservist. I had to sign some of their forms before they let me operate one of their time machines.
- Well, it was a crisis, and Governor Crusher Joe was desperate enough to pay me handsomely. Now I just have to live with the ramifications.
- And so I get the call. Training will take two weeks, on a freighter sailing from Boston. The UN trains its troops in international waters for legal reasons. So, I have to quickly give myself that much time off from work.
- Our drill sergeant is actually a colonel, a British Royal Marine named Flint Jack. He's made of stone and he wears armor. How cool is that?
- But once Flint Jack reviews my dossier, he says I'd wash out of any real peacekeeping force, so I can just go take the clerical training instead. I suppose that's just as well.
- But I can still take some useful classes. In one class, I'm in a training session for kidnap victims, to establish awareness of my surroundings. I'm trying to figure out my location, based on the scars on my scalp. Having actually been kidnapped twice this year so far, I can appreciate the pointers. (19 July 2004)
- In another class, a famous aerobics instructor from Fit TV twists her knee, while we're working out with springboots and hers malfunctions. Springboots are all the rage as an enhancer for superhuman powers (and it's cheaper than "training suits"), but we normals have a bit of trouble with them. Maybe this means I can start teaching aerobics again, for the UN... but no springboots! (22 July 2004)
- And so my training goes... until the ship gets taken over by terrorists! From the sound of them, they're Iraqis and Texans... who both have a common interest in oil drilling, and a common grudge against United Nations peacekeepers. I wander into one of their traps. They dismiss me as "insignificant" and leave me trapped.
- Well, that looks like a mistake on their part, because I now have Acid Barf as a superpower. It's disgusting, but it's gotten me out of this sort of jam before, and it does the job now.
- Once I'm free, Flint Jack makes contact with me. He's been roaming the ventilation system, just like rebels always do in action series. Given the urgency of the situation, I suppress my desire to ask him how he keeps his armor from loudly going "Clank" there.
- Flint Jack has an ambush in mind, but it requires a decoy to serve as a credible threat. So I have to go to the armory, put on one of those "training suits", and take up a sword.
- Well, I do that, and the ambush goes off okay. But afterwards, I have this irrepressible urge to talk like Cerebus the Aardvark.
- After it all, Flint Jack is ready to reconsider tossing me off the combat staff. But why would I want on there? You could say, clerical work is what I do for a living; surviving's what I do to get me there. So thanks anyway, Colonel Jack. (21 July 2004)
Quadrangle. I suppose I should have known at the time, this story would eventually shake the universe to its roots.
You see, my ladyfriend is leaving my business to go work for the world's most powerful superhuman - the same one who sparks a lot of those crises the UN is worried about. And it's not that I hold a grudge, but now that same superhuman's wife is leaving his business to come work for me! Oh, shit, he probably does hold a grudge.
- What's this about my ladyfriend leaving me? ... My friend Judy hooked up with me, looking for adventure. And it's not that she's had too much adventure, otherwise she wouldn't be defecting to the world's leading privately-owned superhuman combine. She's decided she just prefers a more organized approach to adventure than what I offer.
- What's this about my ladyfriend being hired by superhumans? ... Judy came with me to visit the headquarters of the Total Conversion Foundation in Greenland last month. And she got just as much quality time with the leadership as I did. It seems they've decided they could use another competent medical technician.
- What's this about Super-Wife leaving her husband? ... Stephen and Julie Wolcott, co-leaders of Total Conversion, have been the world's most devoted superhuman couple up until now - except Stephen is the superhuman Ellipsis and Julie's not a superhuman at all. And she doesn't like Greenland; she's been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. And she has some other reservations about the way her foundation is doing things... like her husband's worldwide power plays, one of which is blowing up right now down in Tierra del Fuego. So they're having a trial separation.
- What's this about me hiring her? ... Well, she came to me one day and talked her way into a marketing job. She said she'd work entirely on commission for six months, and get the FERG six major new customers, and if she isn't worth a six-digit salary plus stock options by the end of it, she'll have done something wrong and she'll take the blame.
- What kind of work can Mrs. Wolcott find us? ... I have to admit, she does have connections throughout the superhuman community. None of us including herself are real superhumans, but that just makes her more qualified. Besides, she's noticed the FERG taking jobs with governments from statehouses to the United Nations, with aliens, and with that anti-secession mass march on Atlanta.... so, she figures she'll have something to work with.
So yes, I now employ the Julie Wolcott. And it's definitely a culture shock. Kind of like bringing Lois Lane on the payroll, fully knowing she's Superman's wife, and never knowing if Superman is watching.
- I've put in some anti-telepath dampeners at the FERG's headquarters and residential hotel. Julie is known for her mental communion with her erstwhile spouse, and he might still be interested in making contact, so her safety from same is now my responsibility. So far, Julie hasn't complained, so she isn't obviously a double agent.
- There've been some other changes at The FERG Hotel. Julie wants a nice sunny office, but all the best sunny rooms are taken by my friends from Bangalore. So she's grudgingly working out of my nice cool northward-facing corner office. And so am I. It's like living with my bossy little sister again.
- For example, one Sunday afternoon, I said hello to my friends in the hallway, as they took their households down to The Hotel's pub for dinner. (Pub and your own bed in house! You bet that's just two of the FERG's benefits! And it makes us some money during tourist season!) But no, I had to go clean out my office, because Julie left the windows open and the bees got in.
So yeah, things could be strange for the next six months. (26 July, 1 August 2004)
Twice before this, in support of Plan Joab and the Silly Days Parades, I've actually travelled the world as part of a Master Plan. And I think I might have actually changed the world. That is to say, there was a movement within the United States to declare the terrorist strike a national holiday (really!), but the Silly Days now happen that same time of year and are getting more publicity. That may be decreasing North American paranoia right there.
Then, I had mind-controlling microtechnology (no, not nanotechnology, it was the size of blood cells because it was blood cells) within my body. Now, I just have a PR specialist who nags me into it. Can I still help change the world again? My guess is, Julie Wolcott thinks so, or else she wouldn't be here.
(To complicate things, there's the Totally Dippy White Rabbit, or Dippy for short. He's a chaos being in cartoon form (that is to say, a Toon), and he manifested in May to help me dodge crockery. Now, he's kind of attached to the FERG. We have to idiot-proof our code extra hard now that he's around.) (12 August 2004)
Anyway, I'm doing a lot of travel now, even more than usual.
- At Julie Wolcott's urging, I actually made it to my long-threatened high school reunion... with her as my consort. If nothing else, it was fun to see people's eyes bug out when they see I'm with the wife of Ellipsis. But she figured she could do some marketing there too. (15 August 2004)
- I got a chance to see what's become of the Nevada Power and Light experiment. After massive court wrangling, they've set up their solar grid on neutral ground in northwestern Arizona near Hoover Dam, to verify that their nano-scale absorbers can actually respect a boundary line. California and Nevada have staked out bits of the testing ground, as has Arizona... and what's New Mexico doing here? (15 August 2004)
Yamashita's Gold. Yes, I'm supposed to be changing the world, but I've been diverted - and then I diverted myself again. I've been sent to the Philippines! I considered calling this story "Indiana Ferg and the Gold of Yamashita", because I'm on a hunt for legendary treasure. You see...
The Japanese moved a lot of plunder through their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere during World War II. And due to naval hostilities at the time, some of it got stuck in the Philippines. The Japanese General Yamashita is supposed to have buried it there, in between dodging the American counter-invaders. An Internet company is actually hunting this gold.
I'm hunting the gold now. Julie Wolcott knows I can hunt things, because I hunted her once.
- Well, actually, my car (I call it "Tater") hunted her. It has my tracking power now. So she's arranged to have it shipped to the Philippines, with some suitable modifications for the terrain. Or so she says.
- I still have some equipment that flies. (My trenchcoat and my hiking sticks.) So, Julie's strongly recommended I join a hunt there.
This story involves:
- A kidnapped American damsel. Best guess is, cultists took her. And I find it hard to concentrate on money, when women might need my help. So, I divert myself.
- Rival militias from America, Japan, and Germany. Each country's nationals in dangerous foreign countries are banding together for mutual aid nowadays. Americans are hunting the damsel, Japanese are hunting the gold, and who knows what the Germans want. But they're all converging on the same place, so it seems I'm still on track for finding gold.
- Superhumans from the Patriotic Homeland Squadron.
- Lots of countries have these people, ever since the white South Africans introduced the concept last year.
- The force is led by a guy named Rupert Mafekinger. He's reportedly not superhuman himself, he just pulls the strings.
- It seems any superhuman in the world is eligible for this force, as long as he wholeheartedly supports his homeland ahead of the world. With the United Nations assuming real power nowadays, this concept is becoming more popular.
- There's some technical support for this force; it comes with a command infrastructure which some nations find useful. It also comes with brainwashing techniques, including an implanted receiver which whispers motivational slogans in the soldiers' ears. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: How do they find these people?
- Naturally, America, Japan and Germany are keeping up their membership in this force. And they're trying to use the international militias for national gain. Can you say, 1936?
- Cultists, caves and tunnels. The Philippine Islands are a Christian land, enough so to have a significant lunatic fringe. A while back, cultists used to wait for the millennium in caves; now they're comfortable there. And isn't Yamashita's gold supposed to be in one of these caves? It seems the damsel is too. But the cave is on Luzon, the capital city island, so I can drive there... now that my car has finally arrived.
- An earthquake. The Philippines lie on a fault line. Too bad for cultists in caves. And for most of Yamashita's gold by now, too, though the earthquake briefly revealed some gold before it all came tumbling down.
I did snag the damsel - and one old document, because I needed some proof I was there. But then I had to escape.
- It seems I'd just gone on a mission against the Taliban; they were among these cultists!
- I'm an honorary mercenary now! My old co-conspirator Yon Schmidt, Scheiss Hauptmann, had been hired to lead a commando team to liberate the hostage. He says he's the world's leading hunter of superhumans. I'm not superhuman, but he recognized me anyway, and sent people to rope me in to his own scheme.
- The mission almost blew up, when one of Yon's team made a Jewish joke. (Apparently he'd hung out with the U.N. hero "SuperJew" too much.) But then we decoyed an enemy plane into a mountain, and got away to our vehicles. I get there first!
- But then one of our operatives, who looks kind of like the TV-show Diana Prince but older, got captured by two pilots who look like the some preacher friends of mine.
- This led to an exciting chase by hovercraft across Lingayen Gulf into Lingayen City. And I was part of this... because thanks to recent modifications, my car is now a hovercraft! That must be why Tater arrived with instructions saying, "Fuel with premium gas, or with jet fuel if possible."
- I rode shotgun... literally! They had to talk me out of blasting my own windshield, but then I talked them out of me shooting my weapon toward the hostage.
- Naturally, the hostage was able to take care of herself, because she was part of a team of superhuman mercenaries. She calls herself "Target", because she can make people attack her at just the right time... and then shock them unconscious. And so she did with her pilots... after they were on the ground.
Afterward, we regrouped at an Indian hostel in Lingayen. I guess technically the rooms have private baths, but they're all in the same chamber.
- It turns out, the document I grabbed is one of General Yamashita's general orders - an original copy from his scribe's own Kanji typewriter! It may not be gold, but it's a worthwhile antique.
- The American woman is an heiress - of ice cream! It seems she's one Cindy Baskin, from the Baskin-Robbins families.
- As part of my reward, I get to go visit the flagship Baskin-Robbins store and make my own ice cream cakes! And I make it death's-head-shaped. Cool!
- I might actually make some money on it! It seems Baskin-Robbins is interested in marketing my cakes in Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos this year. And I get the same bonus they give their own designers. Cool!
Bossy Ms. Wolcott wanted more. For one thing, she thinks I should have copyrighted the concept of death's-head ice cream cakes, before revealing it to Baskin-Robbins. But still, as adventures go, I'll take it. (19, 20, 21, 24, 27 August 2004)