[LNH] The Continuing Misadventuers of Miss Translation #13

Jamie Rosen jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Sun Jan 23 15:55:47 PST 2005

Low Budget Productions proudly presents

The Continuing Misadventures of

Miss Translation (without any stupid formatting, thanks Google Groups)

"Touching Down"

[Cover shows Negative Manny firmly gripping
the controls of a passenger jet as it heads
towards the ground. Against the sky outside
the cockpit window, a faint silhouette of a
pair of eyes can be seen.The crew are
unconscious in their seats, and Manny is
shouting "Everyone hold on! We're going

It was the best of rides, it was the worst of rides.

Well, maybe not quite, but the flight from Net.ropolis to Se.Alt.le
certainly wasn't the best trip Blue Wave had ever had. Business class
on American AirLANs was no substitute for the Net.Hero Society of
Ame.rec.a's Fidojet, or even an LNH flight.thingee, but it was still
better than being frozen in a block of ice and awakening in another
dimension. More or less.

It didn't hurt that they had the plane almost to themselves, as the
prospect of spending an extended period of time in a sealed compartment
with Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl had scared off all but the most
anosmic of travellers. Specifically, a mustachio'd man seated beside
him, and a man heavily wrapped in bandages sitting across the aisle.
They had boarded the flight in the midst of some sort of argument, and
were now making a point of not speaking to one another.

Aside from them, the only people on the flight were his erstwhile
teammates: the aforementioned Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Lad,
Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid (currently complaining to
no one in particular about the quality of salted peanuts on the
flight), Miss Translation, and their once-anonymous benefactor and the
man who had purchased their tickets, Lamar Dunston. Cannon Fodder, who
had shown up unannounced at their new headquarters on a mission that
coincided with their own, had managed to pick up a first class ticket
from a scalper and was in another part of the plane entirely.

Stretching his legs out as best as he could in the cramped confines of
his seat, he began to read the in-flight digest, which boasted a cover
story about the five best ways to sightsee the ruins of Sig.ago from a
very, very safe distance.

Speaking of which...

* * *

A not very, very safe distance from the ruins of Sig.ago:

Scissors Kid was amusing himself by idly teleporting pebbles into his
hands, then throwing them at any wildlife that showed its head. He
didn't care about sightseeing unless there were babes involved, and a
plaid-clad man from Pakista.net and an older man in slacks and a
sweater vest did not meet his definition of 'babes.' Still, when Mr.
Everywhere said 'jump', you said 'from where?' So here they were.

"Are you done yet?" he asked, narrowly missing a marmoset.

"Almost," replied the Sig.agoan Man. "I must meditate in peace to fully
access my powers once again."

"My offer still stands," said Ezekiel, adjusting his sweater-vest. "I
would be more than happy to build you a battery that could store your
power for a longer period of time, perhaps even indefinitely. All that
I would need is three copies of Sig.ago the Musical on DVD, a two-litre
bottle of Mr. Paprika Retcon [now that's an editor's pop! -- Ed.] and a
pair of Bulls tickets from the 1995-96 season."

The Sig.agoan Man shook his head. "No. It is only through my meditation
that I can achieve the mystical communion necessary to draw upon the
combined energies of everyone who had been planning a trip to Sig.ago
when it was destroyed. There are some things even technology cannot
accomplish, Mr. Goldberg."

Scissors Kid sighed and rolled his eyes. He'd given up a _URLs Gone
Wild_ marathon for this? "Well, can you get a move on and accomplish it
yourself then, Taran? I'm sure Mr. Everywhere still has lots of other
stuff for us to do."

The Sig.agoan Man shot him the skunk eye. "Yes. But I must have calm
and serenity for my meditation. So please," he said, pointing out a
placid body of water in the distance, "go jump in a lake."

* * *

Mr. Everywhere was not happy with the chemistry his Conscripts were
displaying outside the ruins of Sig.ago, but nor was he surprised. He
had foreseen some tension when he had first selected them as a team;
indeed, he had counted on it. But too much dissension would jeopardize
his entire plan.

"Ezekiel! Sig.agoan Man, Scissors Kid!"

He watched as his sudden exlamation startled the three Net.ahumans.

"Yes, Mr. Everywhere?" they answered, not in unison but at least around
the same time.

"Need I remind you of why I sent you to the ruins of Sig.ago?"

The three looked at their feet. "No, Mr. Everywhere."

"Good. Now, see to it that everything proceeds according to plan. I
trust you won't disappoint me..."

"No, Mr. Everywhere."

He nodded. "Continue on, then."

He shunted their screen off to the side and devoted his attention to
other matters, but still heard Scissors Kid mutter "jerk" underneath
his breath. This brought a smile to the tired face of Mr. Everywhere;
if they were united against a common foe, even himself, the Conscripts
would at least be able to set aside their differences and carry out
their orders.

Rubbing his temples and feeling another migraine coming on, Mr.
Everywhere shifted his attention to the scene that was unfolding in the
skies above them.

* * *

The winged figure that had accosted the direct flight from Net.ropolis
to Se.alt.le was one of the ugliest things ever to have flown the
friendly skies: three heads, each about the size and shape of a
computer monitor, supported by supple, serpentine necks connected to a
feathered body the colour of old vomit; leathery, batlike wings with
disturbingly human fingers on the tips; and mechanical grabber talons
at the ends of tree-sized chicken legs. But what was perhaps the most
repulsive feature of this beast was its voice, for it spoke into the
passengers heads in the sultry, smokey tones of an operator at the
other end of a 976 number.

It seemed that everyone aboard the plane had fallen under this
creature's spell -- passengers, crew, even the stowaway trying not to
suffocate in the overhead baggage compartment above seat 14G. Only one
man was unaffected.

Or should we say, one Manny?

"No one with a voice like that would ever go for me," Negative Manny
lamented. "No one wants a bandaged-up freak like me. I know that." He
paused. His negativity, normally under his control, was veering
dangerously close to angst. Looking around himself, Negative Manny
noticed that everyone around him seemed enraptured by something --
presumably the same voice he had heard in his own head.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," he muttered, getting out of his
seat. He moved along the aisle, picking his way over the outstretched
legs of some guy in blue spandex, and slipped through the curtain into
first class. As he'd suspected, the passengers up here were just as out
of it as the ones in business; even the stewardesses were staring into
the middle distance with an uncharacteristic blank look on their faces.
"The cockpit's probably the same." He sighed. "Let's see what I can

He opened the cockpit door and stepped inside. Yes, it was the same
here as everywhere else on the plane; vacuous, staring eyes and
blissfully dumbfounded faces. Only here, those staring eyes were
ignoring more than ignoring the in-flight movie. They were ignoring the
controls that were meant to keep the plane nice and airborne -- and
consequently, its prospects for remaining so were increasingly slim.

Casually, Negative Manny dumped the pilot out of his chair -- he didn't
seem to mind -- and took his place, picking up the radio to contact air
traffic control.

"Control, come in," he said.

"This is control," replied a voice. "Who is this?"

"I'm Manny Trainer. Listen, we need to get this plane to the nearest

"What is it?"

"It's a big building where people stand around in line for hours, but
that's not important right now. Everyone on this plane is incapacitated
except for me, and if we don't get down now we may never make it to

"Trainer... Trainer... Trainer! Weren't you the test pilot for that
experimental jet that never got off the ground?"

Negative Manny struggled to keep the angst from returning... it was
strong, stronger than he'd felt before -- his powers must be working
overtime to keep him coherent.... He could feel a flashback coming

* * *

Area 102, many years ago...

"I tell you, Dr. Zsorderz, this thing isn't safe!"

He was suited up and ready to take off, but he knew the technicians
hadn't even looked at his last report. They needed to show results if
they wanted to keep their funding, and they'd do anything, even
jeopardize their own safety and that of countless others, to try and
get the Astral Plane off the ground.

"Und I tell you, Mr. Trainer: ve say vhen it is safe! You fly ze plane.
Zat is all."

Manny swallowed hard. What would they put on his record if he went
against Dr. Zsorderz? Besides, he was the best darn test pilot they had
and he knew it, and he was positive they knew it too. But he was just
as positive that the Astral Plane wasn't safe. Why, he'd never been so
positive of anything in his life!

"Fine!" he snapped. "I'll do it." He strapped on his helmet and climbed
into the cockpit, preparing for a flight he was positive would not take
place. He flipped the switches, adjusted the dials, and defrosted the
freezer. Then, not even looking up, he crossed the wires and got the
Plane up and running.

But something went wrong. The hotwired alien technology wasn't ready,
just like he'd said, and he could feel his body shifting, changing, as
he tapped into the power that would change his life forever. And then
he wailed out in despair, his body merging with a being from the
Negative Zone.

It was all downhill from there...

* * *

"Trainer! Trainer, goshdarnit, are you there?"

Negative Manny snapped out of the flashback, his vision still a little
blurry around the edges from the haze effect that they'd been using. He
scanned the dials; little had changed while he was out.

"I'm here, control. Now, give me coordinates for the nearest airstrip
and tell me when the runway's cleared for landing!" He gritted his
teeth and hoped the bandages would interfere too much with his grip. It
was a strange sensation, hope.

"Negative, Manny!" responded control. "You're over the ruins of
Sig.ago! There isn't an airstrip capable of handling a plane that size
in miles!"

The controls started to vibrate in his hand. "Well, we don't have much
choice in the matter, control. She's starting to shimmy!"

"Hold on, Manny. We're working."

"She's starting to shake!"

"We're working. Just keep her steady!"

Manny gritted his teeth. It was harder and harder to keep the plane on
a level course. "She's starting to..." He searched for the word. "She's
starting to salsa!"

"That's it!" control shouted at him. "Manny, we know what we're going
to do. Just head towards the outskirts of Sig.ago -- we'll take care of
the rest."

Negative Manny gritted his teeth. This wasn't going to be pretty.

* * *

The plane came barrelling toward the abandoned stretch of highway at an
alarming speed. On the ground, air traffic controller Roger Rogers was
frantically directing the trucks they had commandeered for this special

"You! To the left. You! To the right -- no, further right! We need
everything to be in the right place or we'll have one Hell[tm] of a
report to write up tomorrow morning! Let's get those jars unloaded --
now now now!"

* * *

Mr. Everywhere furrowed his brow. He hadn't seen this coming -- where
did that creature come from, and where had it gone? Nothing escaped his
sight, and yet... something had. He couldn't find a trace of it

Calmly, he brought the three Conscripts back up on the main viewer.
"You may have company soon," he informed them. "Net.heroes. Give them
any help they may need." Before they could respond, he turned his
attention back to the plane, where the other occupants were slowly
returning to their senses.

* * *

Negative Manny was only vaguely aware of people stirring around him. It
was taking almost all of his concentration to keep the plane under
control, and the rest of his concentration was being diverted to keep
his negativity in check. He couldn't afford to be overwhelmed at a time
like this.

"Steady.... steady.... steady...." He didn't even realize he was
talking to himself.

Suddenly he could see the abandoned highway before him, and some sort
of reddish protective foam that the authorities had spread out to
control their impact. No. No, that wasn't foam. It was -- no, that was
impossible --

* * *

The plane trundled onto the highway and struck the immense piles of
extra-chunky salsa with great impact, but the mixture of mild and
piquante held together, reducing the aircraft's momentum slowly but
steadily until it squooshed to a stop.

With clockwork precision, the authorities scrambled over the salsa to
the plane, where they helped the passengers and crew, still in varying
degrees of disorientation, disembark.

Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl was the first to regain her senses
completely, and she quickly sought out her comrades, who were all
milling about with varying degrees of aimlessness.

"What was that, you guys?" she asked, joining them.

"The most fun you can have for $3.99 a minute,"
Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid said. Then, quickly, "Don't
ask how I know that."

"It was an interesting experiment," Miss Translation opined.

"That's one way to put it," replied Cannon Fodder.

Lamar Dunston shrugged his shoulders. "Well, let's see about getting
the rest of the way to Se.alt.le." He glanced back at the airplane,
still mired in thick'n'chunky salsa. "I think we'll need to find
alternate means of transportation. I have a feeling the good folks at
Use.netted Airlines will be a while in making arrangements for us." He
gestured to the airline staff, who were engrossed in an argument about
just who, exactly, had locked the keys in the truck this time.

"Great," SAFNAR Kid complained. "What are we gonna do, then?

"That sounds like fun!" Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl exclaimed.
"Like, I saw this movie once, and--"

Her anecdote was cut off by the arrival of three familiar men in ugly

"We can give you a lift," said the dark man in the plaid outfit.

"He!" Miss Translation said. "Why they continuations?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Hmm." He looked to the older man in a

"We were in the neighbourhood," he said. "We're as surprised to see you
as you are to see us."

"Great. We're just so happy to see you," SAFNAR Kid said. "Hey, gang,
why don't we hitch a ride with our archenemies?"

"Archenemies!?!" shouted Scissors Kid. "We gave you a gift basket!"

"Well, you have to start small."

Lamar frowned in SAFNAR Kid's general direction, then turned to Mr.
Everywhere's three minions. "Can you fit us all?"

"Yes. It will be a tight fit, though."

.oO( I like the sound of thatOo, ) thought Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive
Girl. .oO( I could use the human contact, if nothing else. And if one
of them dozes off, I might actually get some sleep myself. )

"Come this way," said the plaid-clad man. "We're parked just behind
this, er, giant mound of salsa."

As the nine of them piled into the F.org mini-van, SWAA Girl noticed
that Blue Wave had been unusually quiet since they'd gotten off the
plane. "Is everything all right?" she asked.

"Yes," he said flatly.

She waited for him to say more, but all he did was turn and stare out
the window silently.

.oO( Well, ) she thought, ( I may be a zombie, but I know when I'm
being shut out. I wonder what's bothering him.... )

"I take it you're heading for Se.alt.le?" asked Ezekiel, who had taken
the time to introduce himself once everyone was seated.

"How did you know?"

"Well, Mr. Everywhere did leave you that note."

Lamar nodded sagely. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I suppose he did."

With that, the mix of Net.heroes and Net.villains pulled out onto the
open road and drove off into the sunset.

* * *

Meanwhile, Negative Manny and Norman French were pointedly ignoring
each other as they waited for a tow truck to come and unlocked the
trucks for the Use.netted Airlines staff. Thought neither was speaking
to the other, they both were thinking the same thought:

This was going to be a looong trip.


I have never been in a plane. I expect that to change in the coming
year, as I am set to journey to beautiful Madison, Wisconsin for the
World Fantasy Convention, but I became painfully aware of this
deficiency in my knowledge as I made my way through this issue. How
could I convincingly write a story set on a plane if I'd never been on
one myself?

This, of course, was utter nonsense, as I've never been a superpowered
alien or faced off with a pack of intercontinental ballistic penguins
and yet I've had no problems writing about either of those things.

But planes are different. You can do a reality check for a plane --
chances are, none of you have been an alien or battled penguins, but a
good number of you have been on a plane at least once in your life.
This sort of question of accountability doesn't usually trouble me when
writing for the LNH, but for some reason I couldn't shake it this time,
so I fell back on the most reliable source of information I had at my


I cribbed whole sections of this issue shamelessly from that classic of
the cinema, and I regret not a whit of it. If it was good enough for
Shakespeare, it's good enough for me (the pilfering of others' stories,
not Airplane! in particular.)

Other than that, the biggest influence on the 'secret origin' of
Negative Manny was, obviously, the origin of Negative Man over in DC,
all the way down to the same last name. And Manny's powers make at
least as much sense as Larry Trainer's do with an origin like that. I
mean, what the heck is 'negative energy' anyway? A bad case of mono? I
did always love DP, and the Negative Man's look (and, less so, Negative
Woman's) has always struck me as pretty cool in a low-key sort of way.

On to the continuity note: This story, and the arc as a whole, take
place immediately after Flame Wars IV and the Funeral for Some Friends
special, and before, well, anything that needs to come after it.

Lamar Dunston, Mr. Everywhere, the Conscripts, Miss Translation,
Negative Manny, Norman French, and Blue Wave are mine and reserved.
Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl is reserved (Yeah right!)
Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid is reserved.

SAFNAR Kid created by Tom Russell, I think, although he was surprised
when I mentioned it, and SWAA Girl definitely created by Tom Russell.

Cannon Fodder created by wReam, I believe, and not reserved.

Many thanks to Carl Tashian's multibabel website Lost in Translation
<http://www.tashian.com/multibabel/> for helping with the unique
character of Miss Translation's speech. Mind you, where necessary I
have taken some liberties, to keep all of her words in the English

Copyright 2005, baby!

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