Thursday, 16 May 2013

ALF #14 "Biology Class"

(Lakes alive.)


Wherein various people find themselves trying to deal with powerful entities they don't necessarily understand.

Up in the Yukon (I assume it's the Yukon, at least; otherwise including that Robert Service poem is misleading as well as pretentious), Shaman is meeting with Snowbird to ask her to take things easy following her near-death experience in ALF #12.  It's difficult trying to get through to a woman with "the wisdom of the Ancients" whose only been alive for six years - its a unique combination of arrogant disinterest and childish petulance that could be hard to crack.  Still, that Ancient knowledge didn't bother telling her to stay in Canada, so is it really all that much use [1]?  It also hasn't warned Snowbird about how she's now bleeding black acidic goo all over the place - which she somehow has failed to notice - so you've got to figure they're somewhere between incompetent and actively unpleasant.

Whilst Shaman tries to tame Snowbird, Namor is trying to ensnare Marrina.  He's decided that Marrina is so tantalising a child-woman that he wants to make her his queen.  Unfortunately, before she can respond to his proposal, she gets an emergency call from Alpha Flight, and the discussion is tabled as she heads out.

But is Namor struggling to understand Marrina, or is it the other way round?  Has he overestimated her devotion, or has she underestimated his obsession?  After all, when one of his underlings arrives with important business, Namor blows the guy off, and launches into the Atlantic after his squeeze.

Elsewhere, it's time for the latest round between Aurora and Jeanne-Marie. The rules for this bout are very simple: Aurora must at all times be naked and barely covered by a skimpy towel at all times.  Jeanne-Marie must try to claw her eyes out through the bathroom mirror.  FIGHT!!!

(Match cancelled owing to it being impossible to seat audience inside Aurora's fractured mind where the fight was scheduled to take place).

And now: the main event.  What lurks in Lake Ontario?

Heather has joined Puck for some R&R in Toronto, so she can have some time to think through her situation.  Puck, frankly, is less than fully helpful here, since his - entirely understandable - desire to cheer Heather up keeps making him say ridiculous things about the importance of living in the now.  This isn't an entirely ridiculous bromide in general, of course, but if there's any time some serious thought about the future is warranted, it's when you've lost your home, your job, and half your income.  The fact that this is all tied up with something that makes Heather very sad is profoundly unfortunate, but that's the way this particular cookie has crumbled.

Still, it could always be worse.  You could be walking along the lake shore when your baby is grabbed and dragged underwater, for instance, which is what happens to a poor young woman just within screaming distance, drawing Heather and Eugene to the scene.  Since Puck can't swim for shit, he can't go searching for the kid, so Heather goes for it, since she merely can't see for shit.  Unsurprisingly, this all goes wrong, though in fairness that may have less to do with poor visibility/vision than the tentacled monster that grabs Heather and tries to drown her.  Somehow she makes it back to the surface, and Puck pulls her free, but the baby, it seems is lost.

(Which is a tad tasteless, really.  It's not that you can't kill a child in fiction, but you've got to have a better reason than "horrible lake monster", and you need to have a better way to process the horrendous emotional fall-out than have some bloke point at a devastated mother and effectively say "Cart her off-panel ASAP!")

The creature that grabbed Heather has really done a number on our heroine's legs, so she's taken to Bethune Memorial Hospital to recover, whilst Puck does some detective work, asking the local cops about the creature's MO, which seems to boil down to "capture, dissect, toss on the shore".  Not just people, either, but dogs and cats, too, even the occasional seagull, which I guess means Lurky can't be all bad.

Finding all this out leads Puck to conclude he may have put two and two together, and he calls in Marrina.  The way he sees it, an freshwater creature with a tendency to rip various different warm-blooded creatures apart and partially consume them can be only one thing: an alligator!

Just kidding.  No, Puck thinks it's more likely to be one of Marrina's cousins, which also fell out of the ship on impact but without the damage that's made Marrina sociable, and the human contact that's made her bipedal.  Right now it's grabbing things and dissecting them so as to choose a form.

I've little doubt that Puck will turn out to be correct about this, but hot damn, that's a hell of a reach.  You'd think a man with Eugene's meticulous beard would have heard of Occam's razor.  Besides, if Lurky really is one of Marrina's species, shouldn't it have figured humanity as the dominant species?  They're the only ones being pulled in carrying watches and credit cards.
Meanwhile, on an archaeological dig at the original Fort Calgary, one final character is going to have a brush with forces beyond her understanding.  Two brushes, in fact.  The first one is with the haunted skull of a long-dead white man, which seems to have the interesting feature of generating a ghostly scream of "REVENGE!" whenever it's picked up.

The second is far more terrifying.  In order to figure out what the spirit in the skull has planned, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen must seek out the man she abandoned fifteen years ago; the man she failed to understand to the point she ran out on her own father: Shaman.

[1] Obviously, it beggars belief that the ancient Northern gods would have their powers limited to the precise boundaries of modern-day Canada, so interesting questions get raised here.  Are there any parts of the US she can go, and any parts of Canada that are off-limits?  Dare she face the horror... of Labrador?


This story takes place over a single day.  It's been six weeks since the battle against Omega Flight that almost cost Snowbird her life.


Friday 13th April, 1984.



Contemporary Events

India begins Operation Meghdoot, the attempt to capture the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir that sparked off the Siachen Conflict, which reached a cease-fire in 2003, but is still not officially concluded, perhaps because "highest battleground on Earth" is a cool thing to shoot people over, but more likely because the other side of the conflict is Pakistan.

Standout Line

"Then [the MD] did something really nasty.  He told me what I was looking at..."

Autopsies in Toronto can make for unpleasant viewing.

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