Monday, June 19, 2017

Giant Size Scrap Pile #3

This Itty Bitty World

First off, if the picture isn't enough of a hint, this scenario was a loose adaptation of Fantastic Four #236 by John Byrne. I picked it because, after the long break, I figured it'd be a fun way to welcome everyone back.

I started the session in the middle of a fight with "The Purple Flush" a differently-tinted version of the Crazy Gang, promising to catch everyone up on continuity after this scene. It was going fairly well. There were some heroic team efforts and several Purplers went down. Then Tweedledope, who had been hanging back from the fight, hyuck-yucked his way forward and revealed his latest creation, a giant metal rabbit that kept reciting the days of the week over and over. The Rabbot stomped the team flat in no time, and then Disco woke up from his nightmare.

He wasn't Disco, though. He was Josiah (Josh) Stern, son of Dr. & Mrs. James Stern, of Pilgrim's Rest, Pennsylvania. He was an "A" college student and popular athlete. He found a picture of his girlfriend, Debbie, on the nightstand. There was no Scrap Pile and no Beta City. His teammates did seem familiar though. Torpedo was his swim coach, Dorian Chalice. Land Shark was football star Quint Brody. Magi was a weird guy he had seen at the park. He couldn't remember the name.

As he thought about his alter-ego, "Disco," Josh realized that it didn't even make sense. He had never heard of disco music or rock or jazz or anything like that. The closest thing he could think of was big band leader David S. Pumpkins' occasional forays into swing.

While Josh got over his disorientation and had an awkward conversation with his parents ("what if I dreamed I was a gay super-hero?"), Quint and Coach Chalice were meeting at Der Waffle Haus. Magi's alter-ego, on the other hand, was waking up to a different situation. Algernon Touchshriek worked in a disreputable shop downtown called "Vintage Cock," where he was employed for the purpose of building, modifying, and repairing sex toys for senior citizens. His hobbies included looking through windows for demons and watching children play in the park.

Yeah, we've seen the last of the Comics Code Authority for this title. From now on, The New Scrap Pile will have to go direct distribution only. Wave of the future, right?

So anyway, Josh eventually ended up at the cafe with Coach and Quint, and they started talking about how they had all been having weird dreams. The Coach had dreamed about underwater adventuring and synthezoid imposters, while Quint had dreamed about a weird sand-sailing vessel captained by an Ahab-like Algernon Touchshriek hunting a giant sand shark.

Touchshriek, wandering by and hearing this, stopped and told them all about his own dream, in which they had all been scientist-explorers who had been exterminated by giant insect people. Despite finding him generally objectionable, the three clean-cut college types continued to talk with Touchshriek about this topic (and about Touchshriek's message for Josh that, "your dad's special order is ready") before moving on to their daily lives.

There were some fairly awkward scenes with Josh and his girlfriend, and Dorian, trying to find out how long he could hold his breath under water, also discovered that he could only breathe air.

Meanwhile, Touchshriek went back to the store, wondering why he had so much trouble focusing on any one subject for more than a few minutes.  The postman, Carl, stopped by with a package and chatted with Touchshriek. The two speculated that the package was a final component for the machine Touchshriek's boss, Rex Quirk, was building.

Before they could check it out, Professor Quirk himself swooped in and snatched it away, sneering about how Touchshriek could never understand it. Touchshriek said something about imagining a world where he was a scientist and Quirk was repairing used dildos. This seemingly caught Quirk off guard, so he just stomped upstairs in a huff.

Speaking of huffs, Touchshriek decided to take a break by getting high on aerosol cleaning chemicals. In his stupor, he had another dream. He was part of the Scrap Pile, as in Josh's dream, but they were all recovering from a different fight, one involving a computer hive-mind, an insane psychic villain called Bedlam, and a lot of guest stars.

As the exhausted heroes started cleaning up, they heard a low-pitched, disorienting sound that quickly faded into just a disquieting sensation. Then their minds went blank, and they were led away by a shadowy figure. He wasn't really in shadow, but somehow Magi's mind was failing to register his face.

Finally, as they got into his vehicle, escorted by android guards, his features became plain. It was Doctor Righteous. More than that, though -- he was also James Stern, Josh's father in the Pilgrim's Rest version of reality.

Touchshriek woke up, but he wasn't just Algernon Touchshriek anymore. His head was clear. He had all Magi's memories and skills, although, since Magi's super-powers mostly depended on his technology, he didn't have those yet. And he knew the key to restoring the rest of the Scrap Pile: getting them to snort dangerous psychoactive inhalants.

He was able to "wake up" Disco fairly easily. Land Shark was somewhat more difficult, and Torpedo put up quite a struggle, but eventually they were all huffing their way to enlightenment. They didn't, however, get their powers back, and they weren't sure why. There was some discussion of doing even more awful things to catalyze that process, but in the end they decided to go to the one person who they knew had some answers.

Everybody popped over to the Stern household, where Josh's mom, Faith, answered the door and was immediately punched out by Torpedo. Doctor Righteous, realizing they knew at least a significant portion of the truth, agreed to tell them what was going on.

They were in artificial bodies in a town built specifically for this purpose. Most of the townspeople were robots, but he and the Scrap Pile were inhabiting synthe-clone bodies.

He had devised this entire scheme because Disco looked just like his son in the 80sVerse. The real Josiah had been lost to sex, drugs, and rock'n roll. He had even joined one of those D&D cults and eventually committed suicide. "I just wanted my son back," Righteous sobbed. Torpedo punched him.

Magi wondered how Doctor Righteous was able to pull off all this mind transfer clonebot stuff. They hadn't seen anything close to the technology needed in the 80sVerse. Righteous said he had found a partner who could help him. When he didn't elaborate, they prodded him for the name.

A booming voice from above said, "Surely, that is not so difficult to deduce." Running outside, they saw a ridiculously huge figure blotting out the entire sky. "Who else could have taken the childish plot of Doctor Righteous and crafted it into the perfect vengeance against his most hated enemies? Who but THE WARMASTER?" It was Qth-raq. He ranted on a bit about how they were prisoners in his tiny village while their real bodies were helpless and then said he was off to regain his rightful position.

Magi took the opportunity to remind everyone that this was the guy they had all been so eager to cozy up to in Dimension Q. He kept saying, "Yeah, let's team up with him! He's a great guy!" When they discovered that Righteous was trapped here as well, Magi said, "Wait, you mean you worked with Qth-raq and he turned on you? Whoa! That's so weird! Who could have predicted that something like this could happen?"

Anyway, they eventually worked out a plan involving the machine Rex Quirk (who Magi had just recognized as Qth-raq with hair) had been building and a horrible assortment of spare parts from the store. Using his magical mechanic skills, and driven by his hatred of Qth-raq, Magi was able to adapt the machine to send them back to their real bodies.

They found themselves in a small building with the tiny town, lots of tech, and not much else. Magi snatched several of the synthe-clones and used them to stage mock arguments in which his teammates defended Qth-raq. Outside, they saw that they were on an island in the ocean and Qth-raq was speeding off to another island on some kind of evil jet-ski thing.

Torpedo, finally able to use his salt water-based powers, launched himself across and smashed Qth-raq into the wall of the building he had been heading for. The others followed. A tech-enhanced Tar Pit came out to help. More fighting. The Warmaster had some nifty new gadgets in his armor. Magi pumped up his flames as much as he could and let loose on Qth-raq, incinerating him and then stepping on his charred skull. Tar Pit surrendered at the sight of that and explained that he was helping Warmaster on behalf of the Unbeholden.

Disco and Torpedo told Magi they were going to have to arrest him for killing Qth-raq. In response, Magi announced that he was quitting the Scrap Pile and bounded away to the evil jet-ski. Torpedo was confident that he could catch him, but chose not to pursue.

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