Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sideways Through Subspace

First, let's talk a bit about Subspace. I came up with this by grooving on a bit of Fantastic Four trivia. When it was first introduced (FF #51), the Negative Zone was called Subspace. Consistent with conventional sci-fi usage, Lee & Kirby's Subspace was a between dimensions kinda place, a means of getting somewhere, or at least that's what Reed was hoping. Somewhat less conventionally, although entirely sensible, was the fact that it was a weird and terrifying place.

Marvel never really developed Subspace as a means of getting anywhere else, though. Before long, it was the Negative Zone, more a cosmic ghetto for psychotic aliens than the funky hyperspace it started out as. That being the case, I thought it would be fun to take some of the elements of Subspace as it was originally presented, give it my own spin (more of that below), and feed the Scrap Pile to it.

A bit of a rewind from last session: Our heroes weren't hurled directly into Dimension Q. Instead, they found themselves floating in the void. Torpedo, who had gone back to Earth to deliver Deathbird to the authorities, wasn't with them. There was no sign of the space station or any of the ships or supervillains that had been around it. The Earth glowed with searingly bright blues and greens, casting weird colors on the surrounding objects. The sun was a black sphere surrounded by a corona of dark tendrils.

Not far away, they saw Professor Hemm (or, as Disco said, "that guy with the bad hair"), who they had previously consulted on extra-dimensional issues, poking around without a space suit. The Professor flew over to them and explained that they were in Subspace. Any object with a large gravity well, like the Earth or even the Moon, would tear them apart because of the way gravity from the material universe interacts with Subspace and because their bodies here were adapted to occupy hyperspatial dimensions.

Subspace was peppered with asteroids, though, many of which were occupied by strange and deadly life forms that had found their way here from material space and somehow managed to survive. Orbiting closer to the deadly echo of Earth (and, presumably, other bodies with a gravity field strong enough to reach into Subspace) was a belt of xenoliths, transdimensional stone extrusions of other realities. The Professor had made his way into Subspace through one of these, and, with Magi's help, could probably locate one that could take them to Dimension Q.

Deciding to spread out to avoid missing anything, they got out a long rope and split into two teams. Disco and Land Shark took one end of the rope while Magi and Hemm took the other. What could possibly go wrong with that plan? As they floated carefully toward the Xenolith Belt, Disco and Land Shark saw a cool-looking asteroid off to the side, with domes and tubes connecting it to smaller asteroids, and something flying around it. Disco flashed a rainbow strobe at their teammates and the two of them let go of the rope to check it out.

A little closer, and they saw spotlights waving around in the dark, one of which found its way to them. Shortly after, a group of winged figures (and one with a rocket pack of some kind) started to head for them. Calling Magi and the Professor to help, they got ready to fight. Their enemies were four reptilian creatures with cybernetic enhancements (reptovors) and one borged-up guy bristling with weapons (a devastator). The Scrap Pile's opening move was for Disco to try a "fastball special" using his flight to accelerate Land Shark at their opponents. That didn't work out as well as it might have. Still, Disco was the only one who got knocked out in the fight, and they did eventually defeat the aliens. Or natives, I guess. Whatever.

Down at the Xenolith Belt, they found their portal rock, snagged it, and hopped on. Once there, they found a group of three hooded figures chanting over a cluster of crystals growing out of the rock. Professor Hemm recognized the chant as ancient black magic used by a half-forgotten cult known only as Dire Sorcerers.

Disco, already back in action, flew around and cranked up his light show to eleven, mesmerizing the sorcerers into a dazed reverence. The only information they provided was that they were trying to wear down the dimensional barriers. Then Disco introduced them to his friends and fellow deities, the rest of the Scrap Pile. Overcome with terror at the presence of so many gods, the sorcerers cringed and vanished.

That left our heroes free to move on to Dimension Q, which they did.