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The Book of Ataniel

Enigma Archives (June Part 3)

NOTE: Posts are listed in reverse chronological order,
and all posts are copyrighted to their respective author(s).

Title of Post: A Response Tactic In The Back Of My Mind Since 1945
Author: Laura Redish
Characters: Kyria Vesper
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

Kyria's mouth fell open. "Miryssi Arbiter, is that a nuclear bomb?"

Marc was touching his temples, staring at it. "It--it's encased in some kind of force field. That must have been what took out Warp--"

"Maybe I can absorb the blast," said Erin, not sounding very sure of herself.

Kyria put both her mirror-plated arms up and out, her eyes flashing with power.

"Fuck," said Jacinta. "Black helicopters. I knew it."

"Maybe," said Erin, in a brave, wavering little voice, "the rest of you should be taking cover right about now."

The warhead glowed briefly.

"The forcefield's gone!" shouted Marc. "NOW, before it--"

The warhead hit the ground and rolled.

Everyone breathed in unison. Kyria's hand was blue against Warp's chest. "Never fear, Kid Sidekick!" announced S-Guy, examining it. "This appears to be a wooden model of a Russian nuclear warhead!"

"Who the fuck is dropping fake nukes on us?" demanded Jacinta, thumping herself on the chest. "I just about pissed my pants!"

"Owwww," moaned Warp. "My head." He sat up suddenly. "The missile!"

"Metal to wood," Kyria assured him. "Uranium's technically a metal, you know."

"I--never really thought about it."

"Something that occurred to me to check during the cold war. What happened to you?"

"I--don't know. Some kind of power feedback knocked me out when I tried to open a warp... I think I've got a handle on it, but it took me by surprise."

Kyria sighed. "So what you're saying is someone was anticipating your powers and wasn't anticipating mine."

"The evil anti-Warp is looking more and more likely, isn't it?"
"In this layman's opinion."





Title of Post: Riftwar(p)
Author: Douglass Barre
Characters: Warp, Enigma, Rift, Fred Fiesta
Storyline: Tucson’s Wall

Comments:

"Look, Jacinta," Warp said. "I know how we all got here. What's anomalous is your presence. You were already in Tucson when everyone disappeared?"
"Yes, I was. I live here. Does that explain my presence enough for you?"
"Well, considering everyone else who lives here is gone, no, ma'am, it doesn't."
"I'm going to try a true seeing on her," Kyria said. "Maybe something will show up."
"Maybe something already has," Manstalker said, pointing to the east. A cloud of dust was rising.
"Thank god," Warp sighed. "Action."

Rift spun around in his office chair. The digs that his incognito boss had provided for him were not only spacious, they were downright plush. It made the effort of maintaining the Wall around Tucson much more tolerable.
There was a knock on the hotel suite door.
Rift reached across the room and rifted his hand to the doorknob, swinging the door open.
A young brunette with a pageboy haircut stood in the doorway. She was dressed in a fashionable green overcoat. Rift slid two fingers through subspace underneath the coat and felt curly hair.
"Room service," the girl vamped.
"Right on time," Rift smiled.
This is the life, he thought. And as soon as Warp is gone, it'll be mine forever.
He took off his shades and tossed them on the bed.
As he walked across the room to greet his surprise, the suite's mirrors reflected a face that was familiar across the world. The face of Warp, founding member of Enigma.

Rog pulled his crystal sword from the backscabbard and stood in the center of Speedway, looking uncannily like a postmodern gunfighter waiting for high noon. Behind him, his own Magnificent Seven stood, preparing for anything to come along.
The cloud of dust moved closer, until the headlights of a modified black 1988 Ferrari Testarossa became clear. Ten feet from Manstalker, the car screeched to a halt.
"Wow. What a beautiful car," Marc muttered.
Aries nodded.
"Is that an '88 Testarossa?" Jacinta said, impressed.
"It's gotta be," Erin said. "They don't make machines that gorgeous anymore."
"Fred?" Rog asked Warp.
"Fred." Warp nodded.
The door to the Ferrari opened and a heavyset man in his early thirties stepped out. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and heavy Buddy Holly spectacles that made him look like a young Phil Silvers.
"Howdy, everyone!" the man said. "Fred Fiesta, ready to fight crime."
"Who's the guy with the cool car?" Kyria asked Warp.
"Fred Fiesta," Warp said. "One of the few superheroes still public. He's, uh, got a car with heightened charisma."
"Is that it?" Kyria asked.
"And regeneration," Warp said.
"Him or the car?"
"The car," Warp sighed.
"Uh, hey, where is everyone in Tucson, anyway?" Fred asked.
"Not in Tucson, zonzo," Jacinta said.
"You know," Rog said, "I don't think it's a coincidence that pretty much every active superbeing in America's ended up here."
"And some inactive ones," Warp agreed, looking at Jacinta. "I think someone staged this crisis to get us all in once place."
"Which makes staying here a bad idea," Manstalker said.

Rift rolled over in bed and picked up the pager. The LCD readout now said "Quorum On Site."
"That's my cue," Rift said, grinning.
"What, honey?" the naked girl next to him said.
"Just business," Rift said. "Only take a minute."
Rift closed his eyes, focused, and opened one more rift, just long enough to release the spheroid from riftspace.
"Now, where were we?" he asked, dropping the pager to the floor turning back to the girl.

Just then, there was a flash of darkness from the ultraviolet rift above Tucson.
A sphere, about the size of a beach ball, started to fall from the sky. Electricity flickered around it.
Manstalker enabled his faceplate's scope. The image was magnified enough to read the writing on the side.
"Stalker?" Warp asked. "Report?"
"It's Russian," Rog said. "It's a warhead." He paused for a second, while everyone was silent. "Oh, fuck," he said, realizing. "It's a fucking warhead."
"Not a problem," Warp said. "I'll drop it into the sun."
Warp reached out to open a warp. There was a tremendous flash of blue light and Warp was thrown back from the portal and into a brick wall, unconscious.
"It never did that before," Manstalker muttered.
"Anyone have any other ideas?" Energy Erin asked.
The warhead continued to fall.



Title of Post: well HERE'S a natural pairing
Author: Jonah S Cohen
Characters: S-Guy, Kid Sidekick
Storyline: Tucson to Pay

Comments:

Wow, S-Guy thought, Enigma's very own Kid Sidekick. And his name should be real easy to remember! Still, it'll be a big responsibility. We'll have to see to his superhero training, and education, and rescue him when the supervillains take him hostage and stuff.

"Fear not, aspiring young hero," he said. "Enigma is here. And, uh, sorry about your Twix bar. Here... care for some Skittles?"

"Thanks! Wow, you superheroes carry everything in those utility belts, huh?"

"Pretty much. You can never be too prepared in this business."

Kid Sidekick looked at Jacinta. "What's 'Weege' mean?"

"Uh, I think it's Spanish for 'Warp' or something."




Title of Post: Earlier that same morning...
Author: Sylvia Rudy
Characters: The Gladiatrix
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

"Janie, I just found out that all contact with Tucson has just vanished."

"So? Did you want to talk to somebody there?"

"Janie! You're a superhero now! Think of all those poor people."

"Ma, It's Tucson. Who's gonna miss it?"

"Janie!"

"I'll look into it, Ma."

"Only if it's convenient for you, dear."

"Uh huh. Bye, Ma."

*click*




Title of Post: And Don't Even Think About Beheading Our Prisoners
Author: Laura Redish
Characters: Kyria Vesper; Warp and Jacinta
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

Warp frowned at Jacinta. "Look, uh, Southwest Woman--"

"South-WHAT?"

"--or whatever you want us to call you, it doesn't matter, but we're a professional superhero team here, and we have ways of handling unexpected occurrences. We're glad to have you with us, but we can't have you firing off shotgun blasts at everyone who steps out."

"You call that stepping out?" she said incredulously. "Weege," she added, after a moment.

"Warp is absolutely right," said Kyria. "You could have just blown away a child."

"What are you guys, with the Committee to Rescind the Second Amendment or something?"

"We're heroes," said Warp.

"Just don't shoot anyone till they actually start attacking us, okay?" said Kyria.

"By then it's usually too late, puta." Jacinta slung the gun up over her shoulders, dangling both her brown wrists over it from behind. She spoke English with a Spanish accent, Kyria noticed, and Spanish with an English accent. "But all right, I'll be careful. You have something proactive in mind, Weege, or were you just gonna stand around here till something attacked you?"




Title of Post: Bugs Bunny to the Rescue!
Author: Tom Coleman
Characters: Kid Sidekick, the Enigma Team, et al.
Storyline: Time Warp

Comments:

"I don't believe it," said Jacinta. "Every single one of you has a weirder name than I do."
"That's because Warp hasn't gotten a hold of you yet," muttered Energy Erin.
There was an awkward moment of silence before Jacinta realized she was still brandishing her shotgun. She began to lower it, until she heard a low rumbling. The others began to look at each other in confusion, as the rumbling steadily increased. Warp immediately issued a few simple orders, and Enigma team was ready for the worst.
Out of the earth it sprang forth, spraying dried clay and sand across the hapless superheroes. Jacinta fired. A cloud of dust covered the area, obscuring everyone's vision. In an instant, Aries had picked up Evelyn, and had her safely away. A tremendous, high shrill voice emerged from the inside of the cloud. It screamed, "Olly olly oxen free!"
The dust settled. Vision restored. Marc's arm was out in front of Erin. Kyria and Roger were up on their toes, ready to shift at a moment's notice, weapons in hand. Fallout was high in the air, and Warp narrowed his eyes. Maggie, ignoring the rest of the world, stated, "S-Guy, can I put you down now?"
"Aw Man!" said the adolescent young boy standing over a hole in the ground. "You shot my Twix! If you really wanted one, I woulda given you one, they come in two ya know!" The boy pulled up his baggy spandex tights. "This isn't the playground! How did I get here? Um… am I interrupting something?"
"And you are…" queried Marc.
"Kid Sidekick! You guys aren't superheroes by any chance? I always seem to end up running into them. Where are we? Are we left of New Mexico? I think I should have turned right."
"You mean you just burrowed your way in here without asking?" asked Warp. "Are you telepathic?"
"No," said the boy, looking confused. "I think I'm Catholic."
"Drat!" said Warp.
"Did you burrow right underneath the dome?" said Maggie, putting S-Guy back onto his feet. "I can't believe no one tried that. Probably won't work on the way out."
Erin pushed Marc's arm down, and walked over to the boy. She bent down to look him in the eye at his level. "Hi, Kid, I'm Erin. It's good to meet you. I think you're very far from home, so you'd better stick with us. And these guys, they are superheroes. And boy do they need a good sidekick." For a very brief moment, Erin missed her brothers.
Kid Sidekick looked at her with hope. He was about to say something profound, but was quickly stopped when S-Guy came out and started to expound. "Fear not, lost little cub in the town where the coyote and the dune buggies play! We shall right your errant left, and together fight the foes which have caused the unnecessary destruction of your chocolate goody! Let us venture forth in the name of Twix!" Kid Sidekick laughed and said, "Silly S-Guy, Twix are for kids! And hey, what does the 'S' stand for?"
"It's simple, really," replied S-Guy, "but secret. Silly and Stunning, too. What do you think it stands for?"
Kid Sidekick smiled at Erin and S-Guy. "Okay Santa, your secret ID is safe with me. Let's go." The three turned to face the others.
Marc turned away, unhappy that his favorite bottle of aspirin was starting to run low. "Just when I get stuck with Scrappy Doo." He groaned.





Title of Post: Actually, Net Service Is Usually This Bad Here Anyway
Author: Laura Redish
Characters: Kyria Vesper, Jacinta Thigpen
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

"We weren't able to get through at all," sighed Aries, as the other half of the team stepped through the strangely black-threaded warp. "Evelyn and I must have tried rerouting through every server in the city. It's all down."

"I'm beginning to think this might be related to the time differential," added the light-haired newcomer. She was still kind of avoiding the sheep-man's eyes, Kyria noticed. "If impulses are moving almost five times faster in here, it's no wonder the cables can't handle transferring them."

"I could have told you that," said Jacinta.

"You knew about the time differential?" Evelyn only kept most of her surprise at the unexpected knowledge base of these Earthers to herself.

"Who knows what YOU'RE talking about? I could have told you the net was down."

"This is Jacinta Thigpen," introduced Kyria. "She survived the fall of Tucson. Jacinta, this is the rest of our team."

"Warp," said Warp, flashing his superheroic smile at her. "Of Enigma."

"Aries." The scientist nodded self-consciously.

"Fallout."

"Maggie Nova."

"Evelyn Pulsar."

"And I--am S-Guy!"

"I don't believe it," said Jacinta. "Every single one of you has a weirder name than I do."

"That's because Warp hasn't gotten a hold of you yet," muttered Energy Erin.




Title of Post: They Also Give You Five Screaming Kids And Turn Your Brain To Tapioca
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Characters: Foxfire and Manstalker
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

Erin smiled slightly at Jacinta's remark about men-- an odd, sardonic little smile-- but she didn't comment.
"We're still trying to figure out exactly what happened," she admitted. "Once we manage that, I think the general plan is 'find whoever's doing it and kick the crap out of them until they knock it off'-- but I'm new to this superhero thing."
"No, that's about right," Roger said, mouth twitching.





Title of Post: One Woman In Tucson
Author: Laura Redish
Characters: Kyria Vesper and the woman from downtown
Storyline: The Wall

Comments:

As they got closer to the center of town, the demolition of the buildings seemed to be more and more complete. Warp had taken half the team into what remained of the University of Arizona computer lab to see what Aries could find out; with him had gone the warp-umbrella, and the constant light rain was making tinking sounds off Kyria's plate armor. The heroes' feast protected everyone from catching cold, though, among its many other pleasant effects. Cars were scattered carelessly along the highway.

"There's heat coming off this one," said Marc, moving his arm at a red pickup truck and frowning. "Not a lot--but the engine's been used recently."

"Really?" Erin tried the driver's door. It was unlocked, so she popped the hood.

Kyria climbed up into the bed of the truck, and Manstalker followed her after a second. Kyria felt wonderfully incongruous there, their sollerets clicking on the corrugated steel. There was a faded green Army bedroll, tied off with a belt, in one corner, and a crumpled tarp in the other. Kyria lifted the tarp. There was a duffel bag, a lumpy, tied-off pillowcase, and a heavy lantern underneath it. Manstalker was helping Energy Erin up. "The battery's good," she said. "Maybe this truck wasn't here when whatever happened happened."

"How recently was it driven?" Kyria asked, touching the duffel bag.

The crackling report of a shotgun interrupted her response. Roger shielded Energy Erin with his body, forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, that she was still wearing Kyria's silver earring of protection from normal missiles. Kyria herself, who had never really developed gunfire-related reflexes--the last time she'd actually taken a bullet it had been from a Diari pistol and had cost her about eight hit points-- didn't even think to get down until much too late. Luckily, though, the shot was way over her head. From the practiced way the woman who had stepped out chunk-chunked the slide handle back and forth on the magazine tube, it had been a warning shot. "Get the hell off my truck," she yelled. She was a dusty Chicana in faded cowboy boots. "You think you own this city?"

"Sorry," said Kyria. Energy Erin scrambled down after her, looking somewhat guilty. "What happened here? It looks like everyone--"

"Hey, Don Quixote! I said off the truck!"

She waved the shotgun, which looked like it had seen better days. Kyria saw Marc's hand slip almost unconsciously into his shirt front. Kyria blinked; she hadn't realized the young spy was armed. Manstalker, who wasn't looking very impressed by the woman's firepower, lit his jetpack and complied with her rather more dramatically than was necessary. "Yes, ma'am. Now maybe you can fill us in on a few details, like who you are and how you're connected to all of this?"

"I live here, nardo," she said, narrowing one eye at him. "What are you doing here?"

"We're superheroes," Kyria injected.

"You look more like rejects from the Phoenix Renaissance Faire." She lowered the barrel, and Marc took his hand back out of his shirt. "And you act more like looters." She kicked the backstop of her pickup up with one bang from the heel of her left boot. "CHEVROLET," it proclaimed. "But I guess you're better company than the scorpions. What the hell is going on here?"

"I was kind of hoping you might be able to tell me," sighed Kyria.

"Do I look like a superhero?"

She looked like Tucson, Arizona. She had a lot of dark hair, crumpled with rain and tied together very loosely under a faded denim baseball cap. Her eyes were creased with a very well-practiced squint; her white tank top left her brown shoulders to fend for themselves. Her belt buckle was turquoise and silver. "Where is everyone else?"

"Damned if I know. I've been driving up and down here for days." She jammed the safety on her shotgun and tossed it into the bed of her truck.

"And you haven't found anything?"

"No signs of life." She hopped up on the left rear tire. "Unless you count scorpions." She hefted the pillowcase over the rib of the pickup and opened it onto the ground; a shining rain of metal ornaments clinked to the ground. Kyria bent over and picked one up. It was a stylized fish with the word JESUS inside it. "Or abandoned cars. I've got thirty-two plain, twenty-eight Jesus, seventeen Ixthus, and eight Darwin. So far."

Kyria was looking up at the bumper sticker. "I see you don't like the government."

"I see you can read Spanish."

"I used to live in Guatemala. I was married to a freedom fighter there."

"You were?" said Energy Erin, surprised. "You didn't tell me that."

"He's dead now," said Kyria, softly.

"Yeah? I was married to Chuy Diaz. I caught him in the storeroom with the girl from Rosalita's and gave him three stitches with a whiskey bottle. They cheat on you, they die, sometimes they do both. My advice is stay away from them." She stuck her hand out. She was wearing a skull's-head ring. "Jacinta Thigpen." She pronounced it with a Spanish 'J' and 'c' and a Southwest drawl over the rest of it.

"Kyria Vesper."

"Welcome to Tucson, Kyria Vesper." Jacinta kicked the pointed toe of her cowboy boot into the pile of Jesusfishes, sending them scattering like light. "You guys got some kind of plan?"

Go on to Enigma Archive 4



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