nextWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E. Looping Primer
WELCOME READERS! Welcome to your interactive NEXTWAVE Agents of H.A.T.E. Looping Primer Page. We'll start with a Q and A session:
Q. What is Nextwave?
A. Nextwave is a group of super heroes put together by the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort (H.A.T.E.)
Q. Wait a second, I thought they were fighting against H.A.T.E.
A. You are correct! You see, Nextwave discovered that H.A.T.E. and its parent company, the Beyond corp.©, were being funded by a terrorist organization when Tabitha Smith (see later answer) stole the Beyond corp.© marketing plan.
Q. Then why is the book called NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E.
A. I thought I already answered this question.
Q. We're in an infinite time-loop crossover thingie.
A. Ah, I guess that explains that. Next question!
Q. Who are the members of Nextwave and what are their powers?
A. Monica Rambeau is their leader. She can transform her body into any form of radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum. Aaron Stack is a robot who does robot-y things. Elsa Bloodstone has a magical stone that she wears around her neck that giver her super-strength and invulnerability. And she's English. Tabitha Smith can make things explode and steal all your stuff. The Captain is really strong and can fly, thanks to powers bestowed on him by aliens. He's your hero. For this loop only they are joined by Ranma Saotome. He is a kick-ass martial artist and turns into a girl when hit with cold water.
Q. Who is this Dirk Anger person?
A. He's the leader of H.A.T.E. He's not happy that Nextwave has rebelled. And he once led a campaign against alcohol-free beer.
Q. That's my kind of guy. Why is the Jusenkyo valley suddenly in America?
A. It's a result of the crossover. As a side effect, one million butterflies died of exhaustion.
Q. What's your sign?
A. Ptolemaic or Chinese zodiac?
A. Rabbit. NOW READ THE STORY!
In a small Chinese café in California, two men and a woman sat around a table and suddenly remembered. One of the men stood up with a sigh.
"Okay, let's just stop the big drill and… where the XXXX are we?" Yelled The Captain - a slightly balding man with large sideburns, wearing a white T-shirt with a black five-pointed star, large combat-style pants and a brown trenchcoat with the Nextwave logo on the right arm – and looked at the two other persons still sitting at the table. The first one was Elsa Bloodstone - a young woman with long red hair in a gravity-defying high ponytail, wearing a red gem in a choker around her neck, a skin-tight navel-free red shirt only slightly darker than her hair, tight pants of the same color, knee-high female boots and a grey trenchcoat with the same logo as The Captain. He sometimes called her a friend but most of the time they were verbal sparring partners.
"I'd say it looks like a village in the Byankalaya mountains in south-eastern China." She answered after a short glance at the architecture and scenery around them and then looked straight at the second man at the table. "Now to the important question: Who the XXXX are you?"
This was directed at a teenaged Japanese boy with black hair in a pig-tail wearing a red silk shirt, leather wrist bracers, baggy silk pants and a grey trenchcoat with a logo like the other two. "The name's Ranma Saotome. Is that your first fused loop? The altered memories should kick in about…" he looked at his left wrist bracer imitating someone looking at a watch, "now."
The Captain blinked. "Okay, all of a sudden you were our team-mate since the beginning and we're working in… the part of California that was originally colonized by Chinese? What kind of XXXX is this!"
"If this is some kind of messed-up mind control thing, dearie," Elsa said dangerously, "then you've quite obviously failed. Spill it Saotome, before I eviscerate you with this teacup." She held the empty delicate porcelain mug in front of Ranma's face
"I've seen her doing it. It isn't pretty." The Captain added.
"I guess you've blown up the Earth or something during your last loop and as a consequence you get to enjoy a repeat that is mixed with my own home universe." Explained Ranma and added with a smile: "Or more probably, I get to enjoy it, while you will run around screaming."
"We've blown up the universe plenty of times and nothing has ever changed." Countered the female monster hunter. "Why should it be different this time."
"Oh yeah, last time I was visiting your universe I found some records in Shi'ar computers about that." Admitted Ranma. "Apparently, your universe was destroyed three hundred fifty-one times in the last dozen years and that's just the times they noticed. I guess you must have done something worse. Maybe you pissed off the wrong Norns, or something?"
"We haven't been to Asgard in ages. Could it be..." Elsa shared a look with The Captain.
"I didn't do anything with the High Celestial Hyper-Cube!" The Captain yelled. "The last one who had it was Tabitha!"
"So she did manage to destroy the whole multiverse like that guy warned us. I guess it explains this." Elsa sighed. "We are in the Byankalaya mountains?" She looked at Ranma.
"Yep, we are in the village of Chinese Valkyries, right next to Jusenkyo. You've been here before?"
Elsa remembered the day before her sixth birthday. She had been in a plane with her father Ulysses Bloodstone, a white-haired man who was wearing his costumary tight brown pants and loose white shirt, which he left open enough to show the red gem embedded in his chest. They were flying over these mountains, when Elsa asked him the same question for the seemingly hundredth time that day.
"Daddy, where are we going?"
"Elsa, there is an infestation of Chinese vampires in the village below us." Ulysses Bloodstone finally answered. "Here is a chopstick and a blanket."
"A blanket? What do I do with a blanket?" Little Elsa wondered looking at the cloth and didn't notice her father walking to the door. She did hear the door opening and the resulting rush of wind. Before she could react, he grabbed her by the collar and threw her out of the flying plane.
"We are about 10,000 meters high and there are some Tibetian Zombies and Vietnamese Werewolves among your targets." The near-immortal monster hunter said standing in the door. "Make me proud, my daughter."
Genma Saotome had nothing on child-rearing compared to Ulysses Bloodstone.
In the present Elsa looked down and answered. "Yes. I've been here before."
"Chinese Valkyries?" The Captain asked.
"Anyway." Elsa interrupted. "Why are we here?" She asked Ranma. Sensing some nonsensical or philosophical answer coming from the boy, she clarified: "In this town."
"Search me." Ranma answered. "What did the stolen list say? You never told me as far as I remember."
"Ummm." The Captain took a piece of paper out of his pocket. "It's some long Chinese word. Ni-u-ho-man-ma-o-ren-ni-chu-an " He read off the paper. He added helpfully: "That means 'spring of drowned yeti holding an eel and crane while riding an ox.'" After incredulous looks by Ranma and Elsa, he added with a frown. "My generic set of super-powers includes a universal translator. You know that."
"That's not the problem." Said Ranma. "What the XXXX do they want to do with that stuff? And why the XXXX isn't there a skull and crossbones symbol? Way to fail, Microsoft!"
"Seems we won't be the only ones running around screaming." Said The Captain with a smug smile. "But what does Microsoft have to do with anything?"
"Would you mind explaining what this spring is supposed to do?" Elsa asked trying to stay on topic.
In the meantime, the peace of the skies over the California-Chinese countryside was disturbed by a very strange sight. Under a giant balloon hung four old Chinese submarines with conning towers replaced by giant replicas of Chinese dragon heads. The boats were welded together by steel girders and the whole construct was driven by a giant propeller. This was the the flying headquarters of H.A.T.E. - the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort.
Inside, five new recruits wearing the tight green uniforms of the organization were greeted by a man in a jumpsuit with a black-colored chest, white-colored torso and white trousers. He was wearing a half-visor over his right eye, metal shoulder-pads, a handgun under his right arm and metal knee-high boots.
"I'm Dirk Anger, director of H.A.T.E." He introduced himself. "And this is my assistant director Ryoga Hibiki – where the XXXX did he go now?"
In a different part of the flying construct, a little black piglet was running for his life.
"Zis time you will not escape me, mon cher, or my name is not Capot ze Cook-air!" The chef announced and tried to take out the animal with a savate kick.
"Fine!" Director Anger yelled at the recruits, who could now tell what he had eaten that day. "I can do this better without him, anyway! Who needs an assistant who is missing all day long? I can do my own paperwork!"
He snarled at the recruits. "In fact I can do it even better than him. Have been doing it for sixty years now, thanks to my drugs. My special, special life-extending drugs. And you know what? I will still take those drugs and fight terrorism and do my paperwork after you have retired and died alone in a dirty room in a rat-infested smelly old people's home." He walked up and down in front of the recruits while he continued to rant. "And while you will mumble and try to chew your gruel, I will still cry my orders and eat meat! Raw meat! Ripped directly from the toughest of animals in glorious combat! With my teeth! And then I'll swallow it whole!"
"General Anger, we've located the Shockwave Rider again." Came a calm voice from the intercom.
"Okay. Communications room." Director Anger answered in a normal tone.
After he had left the recruits shared a horrified look among themselves.
In the communications room, General Anger sat down and ordered: "Give me the line to the Shockwave Rider"
A technician connected two tincans with a spiral wire, handed one to the director and left the room with the other one. Finally the wire was taut and the tinny voice of the technician said. "We have a connection."
Over the Byankalaya Mountains, the Shockwave Rider – an experimental aircraft powered by the inexhaustible human stupidity drive, containing five hammer-spaces, and stolen – was flying in direction of the mountain village of Valkyries. The craft looked like someone had nailed two oversized caged room fans at a big swan potty.
"It's General Anger on the phone, Monica." Said Aaron Stack, a black-haired android wearing a purple jumpsuit and a grey trenchcoat with the Nextwave logo. His sole notable feature were the big red optics that he had instead of eyes. He was talking to Monica Rambeau, an African-American woman with her hair in a dread perm, who was wearing a silver jumpsuit with two circles and two horizontal lines over her chest, and the obligatory grey trenchcoat with the logo. They were in the cockpit of the Shockwave Rider, Aaron sitting at the controls and Monica standing behind him. For some reason the whole aircraft was full of shelves with Chinese souvenirs.
"Finally something normal. I want to know why we are over China, why the Rider now looks like this, why it is full of magic trinkets, why I know that they are magic, why I want to blame Ranma, why I know that Saotome guy and… argh!"
"You mentioned that before." Aaron said evenly.
"Stop doing the emotionless robot act. Nobody's buying it."
"Okay, okay. Damn, I miss my Monica Rambeau LMD."
Monica shuddered. She never should have get the team drunk to talk about what they had been doing after the Civil War in the original timeline. Those interdimensional Zombies were still her main suspects for the reason behind the loops.
"Didn't I tell you to never mention that thing and your atrocities again? Now put me through!"
Aaron simply pushed a button to do that.
"Dirk. It's Monica. Before you ask, Hibiki isn't here. And no, I still haven't met him. Are you even sure you've got an assistant director?" Monica blinked and thought: 'Stupid new memories.'
Apart from that, it was the same old conversation asin their original timeline. Dirk first ordered then asked them to return, and Monica tried to convince him to care that H.A.T.E. got its funding – and consequently – its orders from the Beyond corporation© which had been created by terrorists who now wanted to product-test their Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (UWMDs) on the unsuspecting public.
Tabitha Smith had found the blueprint for the tests, the Nextwave squad had left to stop them, and now H.A.T.E. was going to try and stop the squad. And H.A.T.E. had alerted the Beyond corporation©, which in turn would also try and stop the squad.
"Well, that was absolutely pointless." Monica said after they had cut him off.
"It is human to try."
"Stop the all-knowing robot bit. Nobody's buying it."
"I am just trying something new." Aaron answered. "Fleshy one." He added softly.
Monica scowled and looked out of the small left cockpit window. 'What the XXXX is going on here? Repeating was bad enough, but this? I never should have joined this outfit. What was I thinking? Right. Do what mom says or she'll keep complaining.'
Back in the Valkyrie village, Ranma had finally explained Jusenkyo curses.
"My guess is they want to give all villagers this curse and see what happens." Ranma finished.
"And we can stop all of them with some hot water." The Captain clarified.
"Unless they lock the curse with water from the kettle."
"The locking kettle, right. Anyway, there is still one thing that I don't understand."
"Why did that monkey look like you?"
'Should I tell them that my mother's Chinese ancestors were Musk from the monkey clan?' Ranma thought and looked at his small audience. "I have absolutely no idea." He replied.
"Anyway," Elsa interrupted "how are they going to give the curse to a lot of people? It's not like everybody is taking a bath at the same time."
"They have organized a swimming event at the local pond and will mix the pond water with the cursed water by dropping a lot of small water balloons into the pond." The Captain answered.
Elsa and Ranma stared at him. The Captain pointed at a poster behind them. It read (in Chinese): "Come one! Come all! Big water balloon fight in the pond! Big prizes! Free swimsuits and trunks! Sponsored by the Beyond Corp.©"
The people of the village were having fun. Every adult was in the water and wearing one of the free purple clothes, which were according to a tag 'Hulk-tested'.
"Catch balloon! Win game!" announced one of the organizers of the Beyond corp. © who was wearing a red three-piece suit and a white ceramic mask, that looked like someome twisting his lips upwards. "Balloon launch by patented Beyond corporation© water balloon launcher!" He pointed at a big metal contraption with an oversized red lever behind him. "Destroy water balloon is great big fun!" He paused, while the people laughed at his stupid accent and way of talking. "Destroy is not allowed! Haha! Great joke! Haha! I fire you with balloons now!" He finished and pulled the big lever. The big machine rumbled and the announcer started to run. "Running away! Running away! This is my run away song so I do not be big stupid monster!"
Then the air was full of colored balloons. The still laughing people tried to catch them and as anyone could have predicted the balloons burst. No one outside of the Beyond corporation© (and the people who have read this story so far) would have predicted that everyone inside of the pond would change into minotaurs with small wings and eel-shaped tails as soon as the balloons burst. And no one outside of the Beyond corp.© (and the writer and some of the readers of this story) would have predicted that the purple swimming clothes would not come apart.
The purple clothes which were now several sizes too small.
And pinched in very sensitive places.
Accordingly, everyone inside the pond panicked and cried out in pain.
"Oh, XXXX." The Captain said.
"AbsoXXXXlutely, darling." Elsa agreed.
"Does that mean you two are a couple?" Ranma asked.
nextWAVE Looping is a super hero story about six people who have to stop a town full of flying minotaurs. In purple swimsuits.
Monica had spotted the instant stampede from the cockpit window and alerted her teammate, who was till looking for the flight harnesses among the various littered shelves.
"My robot liver needs a transplant."
"You've got replacement parts in there?"
"I wish. Just saying that it starts to tingle when I drink pure gin. Anyway, I am hooked into those cheap Chinese hull cameras and can make out some of what's going on there. I've called Tabby." He had finally found the harnesses and extended his optics to inspect them. The belts were still the same, but the anti-gravity generator now looked like a big bee and would flap the fake wings to move. Other than that it was as good as before.
"Great. Please tell me that the exit pool isn't full of eels or something."
"No, there are just a lot of rubber ducks floating on top of it. Don't touch them."
"Why… I don't want to know, right? Where's Tabby?"
"I'm right here!" Answered Tabitha Smith – the final member of the Nextwave squad, a blonde woman wearing a short red dress and the last grey trenchcoat of this story. "I was on the phone, when you called. What's the problem?"
"Here's your flight harness. We've got a stampede of minotaurs on the ground." Monica answered as she tossed her the article. "Were you talking about the same things again? Sometimes I really wonder if you really remember the past loops, or if you're just playing along."
"Hey, those stories are still as interesting as before." Tabitha fingered the harness and looked at the big bee with obvious distaste
"Interesting as dirt. Now put that thing on, before I throw you out without it."
On the ground Elsa had picked up her guitar case when she and the other two members of the squad had left the café. They crossed the street to intercept the stampede, when a jeep with four men in red three-piece suits and various white Japanese carnival masks tried to ram Elsa. She effortlessly jumped over the jeep since she had expected the assault. She somersaulted, opened the case, pulled out two uzis and fired at the red suits.
"That's a bit excessive, isn't it?" Ranma asked, when the jeep came to a screeching halt and added under his breath: "Those guys got weird auras…"
"I'm off to work." The Captain announced and took off flying.
"They are pod people." Elsa answered Ranma and opened of the suits to show him the green and black insides. "They were grown and programmed. Hmm. They're leafier than before." She looked at the golden badge on the inside of the suit. "Beyond corp.© Yaocaicun division?"
"Oh, I know those guys." Ranma explained, relieved that he wasn't working with ruthless soldiers again. "They live on the other side of Jusenkyo. They're growing various healing herbs and fighting plants."
"Fighting plants?" Elsa asked and shook her head. "Let's save that for later. We've got some monsters to tame."
"Elsa, this is Monica." Came the voice of the Nextwave squad's leader. "What's going on down there."
"Same procedure as every year." Elsa answered. "Just with added local herbs. Native boy…"
"He's with you? I bet this is all his fault."
"No, I think we can thank Tabby for this grand old time. Saotome just told me where the war gardens are this time around."
"Great. So do you know why we've got to deal with a Chinese Pamplona?"
"Short story? Those bulls got a magic curse. Just spray them with hot water and they turn back human."
"Too easy. It might not work according to Saotome." Elsa finished the conversation following Ranma to the oncoming stampede.
On board of the Shockwave Rider, the squad members had just arrived in the room with the pool filled with a red exotic liquid that allowed the transition between the hammer-space inside the aircraft and the (relatively) normal space outside. Against all experiences of the three, a number of yellow rubber ducks were floating on it, instead of being transported to the outside.
"You've got something to spray those people, Aaron?"
"I've even got something to spay them, if necessary."
"Cut the 'robots have a bad sense humor' act. Nobody's buying it. Tabby: go stop some monsters."
"What'll we do if the hot water doesn't work?" Aaron asked.
"The usual." Monica answered. "Kick them until they explode."
Elsa had jumped through the pool and arrived on the outside in a standard super-hero flying pose - lying and one arm held forward. She pointed two fingers forward and activated her powers.
"tick tick tick" She said and suddenly the hair behind her exploded and propelled her even faster forward than the flight harness alone. "Explode."
She took in the sight of the minotaur stampede as they trampled over everything in their path, be it trees, cars or houses on their mad dash home.
"Oh my god." She exclaimed. "They are all wearing purple underpants."
AN: To be continued… or not. My inspiration has been MIA for over a year now.
Curses in the Nextwave comic were represented by a row of four skull and crossbones symbols. I haven't found any symbol like it in the various types for word.