许盛 (Shing Xú, anglicized: Victor Homeland) / 黑鼠 ("Black Rat") is a character in The Gerosha Chronicles of Dozerfleet Comics, appearing first in the 2005 version of Ciem 2 and eventually becoming a major character in Sodality. He dates at varying points both Miriam Flippo and Mingmei Cheng, both of them coworkers of his. He eventually marries and has a child with Mingmei, after she retires from working for the Chinese MSS. While not an official member of the Sodality of Gerosha, he is considered a staunch ally. He worked alongside Team Spaghetti Liberation during the Vindication arc to destroy an alliance between the Society of the Icy Finger and the Phaletori in Italy, as well as working with the Phaemer Village Peacekeepers to that same end. He is also good friends with SCALLOP agent Brian Mizgel, in spite the latter being a rival for Mingmei's affections.
Abilities and weaknesses
Shing is a skilled social engineer and a shrewd negotiator who is also quick-on-the-draw in armed combat, also proving himself effective in taking cover during a firefight. His ability to seduce women is rivaled only by Mingmei's ability to seduce men. However, his early life often consisted of him abusing this ability as an ineffectual way to treat his feelings of frustration and boredom. His extensive knowledge of the Hebbleskin Gang makes him the ideal candidate to lead a task force to combat them in China. He likes to carry himself like he's the "James Bond of China," though he frequently finds such a life unfulfilling. Love for Mingmei leads to him becoming more serious - and dangerous in combat - over time, as he finally finds her hand to be a cause he believes in even more than saving China from the Hebbleskins.
Little is known about Shing's early life and career; but he was recruited for his impressive skills to work for the MSS at an early age. Amidst his various assignments, he frequently traveled - often seducing women along the way to learn secrets from them. He also acquired a fascination for old pulp comics, particularly Dick Tracy. During training sessions with other agents, it was remarked that Shing had an unusually high amount of black chest hair. An colleague even went so far as to say he looked like "a hairy black rat." Shing embraced this moniker, and it became his codename. Thus, when not undercover or in places of particularly warm weather, Shing often wears a black trenchcoat and hamburg-style hat. His favorite English phrase becomes "Goodnight, Sweetheart!", which he often says right before or after assassinating a target. This, he does as he is inspired by several classic American crime movies, such as The Godfather.
He was eventually assigned to a team specifically to be headed by him, with the express goal of eradicating the Hebbleskin Gang from China. Stung Hornet, Tin Dragon, Teal Hog, Forked Tiger, and Scratched Hen were his initial recruits. However, Forked Tiger and Scratched Hen were called to separate assignments some time later. An American expatriate named Steve McLaine eventually joined Shing's team - working behind the scenes from a village where his identity was being shielded.
Arrival of Sniperbadger
The Black Rat team of five found that the Hebbleskins were getting smarter. None of Shing's team was particularly good at hacking, and knew they'd have to find the world's best to track the Hebbleskins' next moves via online interactions. Efforts to squash out a Hebbleskin operation in Shanghai failed to turn up useful information regarding where the Hebbleskins' true bases of operation were.
However, things took a dramatic turn when Miriam "Sniperbadger" Flippo turned herself in to Shanghai authorities - after hiding for months in Hong Kong under the alias of "Haishui." Shing easily saw to it that Miriam was not punished for the various allegations of corporate espionage in years past for which she was a suspect. He soon had her recruited to the team, and learned from her that the first major Hebbleskin operation was in Hong Kong. While initially having some feelings for Miriam, Shing grew more fond over time of Mingmei.
Shing saw later on that his conscripted American allies Miriam and Steve would make a great team together - if he can finally get permission from Beijing to move Steve out of the village where he has been in hiding. Team Black Rat soon becomes a formidable force in the quest to eradicate the Hebbleskins from Hong Kong. Yet, they also learn that the Hebbleskins have a base in Harbin. After a lengthy campaign to save Harbin, the team is informed that they are being sent to live in - and guard - a science base that Steve's family owns back in Alaska.
Main article: Sodality: Determination
After the team helps Miriam take down a rival hacker named Melvin Markus, the latter becoming a threat to all of Alaska, they learn from Scratched Hen that the Hebbleskins have stolen the Ming-Yo. It is believed that Duke Arfaas has it. However, further investigation by the Sodality of Gerosha reveals that it has been stolen yet again - by Captain Aardwulf and a band of terrorists that survived the Hebbleskin Gang's defeat at the Battle for Houston. Little known to the team is that around the same time, Jake Asawa leads Rob and Hannah Marrington on a quest to destroy the Ming-Cho.
Shing leads his team southward, in what amounts to an invasion of Toklisanan airspace. However, Capp Aard shoots down their helicopter. Wen and Chen are killed in the incident. The remaining four take cover as best they can, relying on the Sodality to send them reinforcements. Shing grows particularly protective of Miriam and Steve upon learning that Miriam is pregnant with Steve's child. At the same time, he grows increasingly attached to Mingmei.
However, Mingmei winds up separated from the group at one point when she allows Shing to escort Miriam and Steve to safety in the custody of SCALLOP agents Marion Wevenil and Shaniqua Tamery. Brian Mizgel goes after Mingmei to protect her, and the two develop feelings as they help each other survive the quest to take down Aard's minions. However, Mingmei reveals to Brian that she will always love Shing more. Brian assures her that he is okay with this. Shing is eventually reunited with Mingmei, thanking Brian for keeping her safe.
However, Team Black Rat and the Sodality make a final assault on Aard to finish him off once and for all. This leads to Aard getting careless and exposing himself to a large dose of the Ming-Yo's radiation by accident. As Emeraldon disposes of the Ming-Yo as best as his abilities will allow him to shield himself from its radiation, Mingmei nearly gets herself killed battling Aard directly. The tide is turned by Michelle in a Ciem costume battling Aard until he melts into a puddle. Shing assists in this battle, while the others get Mingmei to safety and eradicate the last of Aard's forces. SCALLOP forces assure Shing that Mingmei will survive, and are happy to hand her back to him so Team Black Rat can return to Alaska. However, Mingmei is revealed to be traumatized by her encounter with Aard. Shing begins to question how much longer Mingmei should be allowed on active duty.
Shing and Mingmei are later given word that Scratched Hen and Forked Tiger will take over as Steve and Miriam's overseers, allowing Shing and Mingmei to return to China and report on their progress in taking the Hebbleskins down. Shing is informed that the Society of the Icy Finger is becoming a growing threat in the wake of the Hebbleskins' downfall. Due to this, Team Black Rat mostly sits out the Augmentation story arc.
Main article: Sodality: Vindication
Five years or so after the events in Battle for Metheel, Shing and Mingmei are looking to retire from MSS service. However, they are recruited to one final mission when they learn of the Icy Finger's latest global, diabolical plot. Mingmei is sent to Alaska after Scratched Hen extracts the McLaine family and brings them safely to China. She is to take Miriam's place at SCALLOP Women's Containment Center during the Beliah Amendment and Kirby Act hearings, so Beijing doesn't lose its most prized hacker to the Toklisanan prison-industrial complex. Mingmei accepts the mission, and is arrested by a reluctant Brian Mizgel - who resumes his affair with her. Shing vows to make it up to Mingmei by joining the exiled Sodality members in Italy to bring down the Icy Finger. This later leads to him working with them - and the Phaemer Village Peacekeepers - in both Italy and Mozambique to foil Marblefaun and other Icy Finger operatives. However, he later learns that the Icy Finger and Phaletori intend to destroy Dephinapolis on Phaelon. The entire Sodality and their allies are brought to Phaelon to foil the dastardly plot.
Shing is later sent back to China, to await Mingmei being sent back to him. Mingmei is allowed to fake her own death. Once reunited, the two of them are given permission to retire from duty and get married. They have one child together. They remain in contact with Miriam, although they are discouraged from ever contacting Candi or Celia again; since SCALLOP wants the world to believe Mingmei is dead.
The realization that he has nearly lost Mingmei multiple times causes him to cherish her for the rest of his life, a changed man both by this and by his conversion to Christianity, inspired by Mingmei's and by the words of Wilbur.
Shing likes to remain calm and confident on the surface, though is he nervous and cares a lot about his friends deep down. Over time, he grows less and less concerned with maintaining his appearance of being calm and collected - especially when Mingmei is threatened. His early optimism about his role in the MSS is replaced with a war-weary traveler. That aside, he understands that negotiation is just as important as having a quick trigger finger. His rationality helps him provide a balance to his more-impassioned teammates regardless which team he is on. He is particularly skilled at keeping Wen in line, the latter being quick to violence. He encourages his teammates to be hardworking, but is hardly a slavedriver. When he and Mingmei are made interested in Christianity after talking to Wilbur Brocklyn, Shing views it as giving his life an extra layer of meaning and purpose - something he often sought for but never found in anything else. He begins to feel that his past exploits with taking advantage of women made him feel empty for a good reason, and he vows to do better with Mingmei.
He can seem goofy with his efforts to sound like a Sicilian-American mobster, but he is reserved about it. This makes him a foil to the ever-goofy Chen "Teal Hog" Tang.
Appearances in other media
Marvel: Avengers Alliance Fanfic Universe
Black Rat has been proposed as a sprite for Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook, a game made by Playdom. An event described as "the Percolation" makes a carbon copy of him inside Earth-12131 some time after the Earth-G7.2.1 Percolation story arc proper, along with many of her other teammates and other Geroshans as well. On The Marvel: Avengers Alliance Fanfic Universe Wiki, he is presented as being capable of being offered inside the game as one of three sprites.
His Instigation trenchcoat that he wears is described as his "Classic" outfit, given that it harkens back to his appearance in Ciem 2. While not the true Classic Gerosha look nor his Comprehensive Gerosha counterpart from Ciem: Nuclear Crisis, the sprite's "Classic" outfit variant is generated from a modified outfit in The Sims 4. It is rendered post-Photoshop to closely resemble his true Classic look.
The second outfit available to Shing is his "Rat in Hell" outfit, which he wore when he was stranded behind enemy lines during the Determination arc. The final outfit on him is a variant of his winter gear outfit from the "Cold Day in Harbin" concept still on DeviantArt, thus described as his "Cold Day in Harbin" alternate uniform.
Early renditions of Black Rat possessed very little background and character development for him. He was one of four agents who were sent as spies into the US to hunt for Miriam Flippo, who was wanted for questioning in connection to a Hebbleskin Gang infiltration of Chinese state department security. Their quest to find her, however, led them straight into the crossfire of the terrorist group known as the Mik-Non; which was planning to spread mayhem all over Dirbine/Evansville.
Making matters worse, Captain Aardwulf was on the loose. His reign of terror led directly to the murder of Stung Hornet and Tin Dragon. Black Rat was spared, albeit briefly; and only by way of a Classic Gerosha and Comprehensive Gerosha ret-con. In Gerosha Prime, where Black Rat debuted, he too was killed. The only other agent to survive was Teal Hog, who debuted in Classic Gerosha along with Tin Dragon and Stung Hornet. Vienna Dockler tried to work with Black Rat briefly in Gerosha Prime to take down Aard, but was unable to stop Aard from killing him. In later renditions, Black Rat gets to live.
Black Rat's real name of Shing was not deduced until shortly before the initial work had begun on creating Ciem: Vigilante Centipede. Before that, he was known only by his codename. Since then, his appearance has changed fairly little.
For Sodality, it was decided that he was to be given more depth. A prequel has even been suggested, dubbed They Call Him...Black Rat. He also became a main character, as opposed to a one-off cameo. No longer confined to just the quest to recover the Ming-Yo from Captain Aardwulf, Shing took on a life of his own as one of Miriam's mentors (and brief lovers.) He also became a romantic interest for Mingmei.
It was originally planned that he would play a very minor role in the story after season 3 ended; but he was determined in 2015 to have enough popularity potential to warrant being returned to the limelight for season 5. As other characters have grown tired of the business or else are leaving regular duty to raise families, Shing's importance grows.
A real-life model depiction of Black Rat is still pending.
- Black Rat's SDCPM file
- Stung Hornet
- Miriam Flippo
- Tin Dragon
- Teal Hog
- Ciem 2
- Ciem: Nuclear Crisis
- Canceled Gerosha programs art gallery at DeviantArt
- Sodality 2D concept art collection at DeviantArt
- Black Rat as a proposed game sprite for Avengers Alliance at MAA Fanfic Universe
Sodalities of Gerosha & Florence