[LNH] The Continuing Misadventures of Miss Translation #14

Jamie Rosen jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Sun Jan 30 15:19:29 PST 2005

Low Budget Productions proudly presents

The Continuing Misadventures of
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"Finding Out"

[Cover: Our heroes stand in a mysterious
hidden laboratory, surrounded by
unnatural-looking creations with
Cheesecake-Eater Lad lurking in the
background, seemingly naked beneath his
apron and chef's hat.
Kid is checking his watch, and saying
"Okay, you can start the fight scene any
time now, boss."]

Charles Edward Cheval, equine employee of Net.Santo, was not having a
good day. None of Net.Santo's employees were. The couriers they had
sent to retrieve a sample of the alien Net.Hero the Normalizer's blood
were running later by the hour, and even though they had the alien
himself now, Charles was growing worried about what may have happened
to them.

Letting out a frustrated whinny, Charles cradled his head in his hands,
pressing his fingers against his temples. The pressure and stress of
his position was almost enough to make him long for the simple days of
stable life -- a bag of oats and a salt lick on occasion, trots around
the grounds, and the prospect of being put out to stud in the near
future. Now he had flowcharts and progress reports to worry about,
budgets to meet and results to improve. If it hadn't been for his wife
Jenny, he'd probably have lost his mind by now.

As if on cue, his telephone rang. But it wasn't his wife. It was
someone who'd lost his mind.

* * *

Miss Translation still wasn't used to this whole airline thing. First,
they'd stood in a large hot building for a long time -- long enough, it
seemed, that three other Net.ahumans had driven from Net.ropolis to the
ruins of Sig.ago in the time it took them to fly there. Then they had
boarded the airplane, which was like a flight.thingee but not quite as
nice. And then they'd crashlanded into a giant pile of salsa.

"To little it was in the good pleasure," she mused.

"What?" asked Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl.


Now they were standing in another large hot building, waiting to get on
another of those airplanes, and she wondered if they might not have
been better of just walking to Se.alt.le. Surely it couldn't be that
far away if the majority of their trip was being spent standing around,

At length, Lamar Dunston returned to the group bearing good news.

"They've upgraded us to First Class," he said, brandishing their new
tickets. "Free of charge. Our flight leaves in twenty minutes."

"It's about freakin' time," said
Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid. "You sure aren't a very
good anonymous benefactor."

Lamar shrugged. "You're not much of a Net.Hero," he retorted.

Miss Translation shook her head sadly. She didn't much care for all
this witty banter and cutting sociopsychological insight. She'd much
rather be shouting "GAAAAAAAA!" and charging at whatever the problem
seemed to be. But that didn't seem to work out too well with flight

Lamar looked around. "Where are Blue Wave and Cannon Fodder?" he asked.

"Blue Wave had to use the little boys' room," SAFNAR Kid said.

"And Cannon Fodder?"

"How the heck should I know?"

Cannon Fodder choose that exact moment to emerge from the crowd, a bag
from Taco Dell in his hand. "Sorry, guys," he said. "I had to make a
phone call. And get some dinner. Want any?"

The three Net.Heroes and their benefactor blanched and shook their
heads. Miss Translation's stomach started churning just thinking about
it. Food here on Looniearth sure was rotten -- nowhere near as good as
the Vulgar food she was used to. Even the promising-sounding foods,
like spotted dick and tossed salad, were nothing like back home. And in
all honesty, that was one of the main reasons she was going on this
mission to rescue Cheesecake-Eater Lad and the Normalizer: Cheesecake
Eater Lad seemed to have the best chance of making something to her

"Well, now we just have to wait for Blue Wave," Lamar said, "and then
we'll be all ready to go."

* * *

Blue Wave adjusted his mask as he stepped out of the washroom and back
into the terminal. He hated taking the mask off in public, even in the
relative privacy of the men's toilet, but he'd really needed to wash
his face after that whole debacle over Sig.ago, and he'd made sure
there was no one else using the facilities who might have caught a
glimpse of his secret identity. Not that he really had one here in the
Looniverse, but still -- old Net.Hero habits die hard.

The cerulean sentinel still felt a little dirty, but he knew that that
dirt was a mental sensation, not a physical one -- the lingering
effects of what that... thing in the skies above Sig.ago had said to
him. It would pass in time; it had to.

He glanced at the mirrored column to his left, ensuring that his mask
was on straight and there were no embarassing wrinkles at the neckline.
There, the picture of Net.herodom, the heroic Blue Wave. How could you
even think such an upstanding citizen would be in any way affected by
that siren's song? You have to be made of sturdier stuff than that to
be a Net.Hero, son. And if there was one thing Blue Wave was, it was a

* * *

They touched down in Se.alt.le at a quarter to three and finished
deplaning about one hour later, after everyone had managed to figure
out just what 'deplaning' was. Miraculously, none of their baggage had
been lost -- in fact, it almost seemed like they had more now than they
did when they started their trip.

"It'd be really good to have someone with super strength on our team,"
SAFNAR Kid said as he lugged his baggage and that of Lamar Dunston
behind him. "Buuuuuut I guess that's out of the question, isn't it,

Lamar shrugged. "Hey, you could have had Cabell come along if you'd
wanted," he said.

"I was thinking more along the lines of someone who's NEVER TRIED TO

"That's a short list and it's going to get shorter." Lamar paused.
"Besides, didn't the Normalizer try to head up an alien invasion that
would have subjugated us all?"

SAFNAR Kid chose to ignore the question. "Did you at least arrange to
have a car meet us at the airport?"

Lamar nodded. "Yes. I think you'll like it."

The Net.heroes exited the airport and saw a white
streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch limousine waiting for them.

"Oh yeah baby!" SAFNAR Kid shouted, dropping the luggage and sprinting
to the car. "This is gonna be sweet."

Lamar smiled. "I'm glad you like it," he said. "Believe it or not, I
*am* on your side. Now, let's get in. We need to check into the hotel
before we pay Net.santo a visit. It wouldn't do to drop in without..."
he glanced sidelong at the zombie Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl...
"uh, freshening up a little."

The others all nodded, suddenly acutely aware of what hours upon hours
on a crowded plane wearing the same spandex uniform could do to your
hygiene, and remembering the old commercial slogan -- "You never get a
second chance to make a first impression."

"Well of then," Miss Translation said, "spendthrift the vacations we

* * *

"Isn't this neat?" Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl asked as she bounced
up and down on the hotel bed. Miss Translation was seated on the other
bed in the room, unpacking her bags.

"They are not defective," she responded, smiling.

"Not defective?" SWAA Girl exclaimed. "I've never even *been* in a
hotel before! Except if it, like, rented by the hour." She stopped
jumping and sat down across from her translated teammate.

"This whole week has been totally crazy, hasn't it? All those trolls,
and then the Normalizer vanishing and getting kicked out of the Legion,
and now all this!" She spread her arms around herself. "It's just,
like, totally crazy."

Miss Translation nodded and finished unpacking. "You he would not have
that to unpack?" she asked, gesturing at SWAA Girl's suitcase.

"Oh, I totally forgot!" Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl picked her bags
up from the floor. "I wonder how the boys are doing..."

* * *

"So tell me again *why* I have to share a room with you three dorks,"
Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid said.

"Because I didn't think it would be wise to have co-ed rooms," Lamar
said. "Especially not where Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl is

SAFNAR Kid wrinkled his nose. "But why is it four of us in this room?"

"I told you before, you don't get to be a millionaire playboy and
wealthy philanthropist by throwing money around. Two rooms should be
plenty. Now," he added, unrolling his sleeping bag on the floor, "if
you'll excuse me, I'd like to go to bed."

* * *

The next day, the sextet got the address for Net.santo's corporate
headquarters out of the phonebook and took the train out to pay the
company a little visit. To their surprise, they were expected.

"Ah, Mr. Dunston," the receptionist intoned. She was a plain,
familiar-looking young woman whose name plate revealed her as 'Frieda.'
"We've been expecting you and your..." She hesitated, looking the
Net.heroes up and down. "... associates. Please go right in. Monsieur
Cheval will see you shortly."

"Monsieur Cheval?" Lamar asked.

Frieda blinked. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "I suppose maybe you weren't
expecting to be expected.

Well, Monsieur Cheval has taken a personal interest in your visit, and
asked that you be directed to his office when you arrived." She
signaled to a very, very, very old man in a dark blue uniform. "King
Cole will take you there."

The security guard moved with a quickness that belied his apparent age,
and the others had to hustle to keep up with him.

"King Cole, eh?" SAFNAR Kid started. "You a merry old soul?"

Cole didn't even look at him. "No."

The rest of the walk was conducted in silence, until they came to a
stop outside of a solid-looking wooden door, where a very, very, very
old woman stood in a near replica of King Cole's uniform.

"Mother," King Cole said, nodding.

"King," she replied.

"These people are here to see Monsieur Cheval."

She nodded. "Follow me," she said to the Net.Heroes, opening the door.

They stepped across the doorway and into a well-appointed but tasteful
office, with six seats arranged across a desk from one slightly large

"Monsieur Cheval will be with you shortly," Mother said. "Please be
seated." With that, she turned sharply on her heel and left the room.

When they were alone, Cannon Fodder fidgeted in his seat. "I don't like
this," he said.

"One of the neither one no other," added Miss Translation.

"What are we doing having a meeting with this guy?" SAFNAR Kid said.
"We should be shredding his eyelids with a cheesegrater -- they
kidnapped the Normalizer!"

"And Cheesecake-Eater Lad!" added Cannon Fodder.

Lamar tried to quiet them down. "Not everything can be solved by a yell
and a punch to the nose," he said. "Sometimes, a smile and a kind word
is better -- especially if they're followed by a kick to the groin."

The other five mulled over the wisdom of this remark while they waited
for the mysterious Monsieur Cheval to arrive, which, after a moment, he

"Please forgive me for being late," he said as he entered. He looked
like what would have been

the end result if humans had evolved from horses instead of apes, and
spoke with a noticeable -- but real -- French accent. "I was detained
in a meeting."

Lamar stood up and shook his hand. "Monsieur Cheval, I am Lamar
Dunston, and this is..."

"The Legion of Net.Heroes," Cheval said. "But of course. I trust Frieda
let you know you were expected?"


"Excellent." Monsieur Cheval sat behind his desk. "Now, you are here
because of your teammate?"

The six blinked in unison.

"Your alien friend -- what is his name... Clarabelle? Yes. I have been
told he is missing."

"You kidnapped him!" SAFNAR Kid blurted out.

Monsieur Cheval looked taken aback. "Why would you say such a thing?"
he asked.

"Because you did!"

"You make an interesting point," Monsieur Cheval said. "We prefer to
think of it as a rescue operation, as we retrieved him from a hospital
in which he would have received poor service at high prices, and
instead treated him with the best technology available. In fact, he is
free to go whenever you wish to take him."

"That's very kind," Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl said.

"Same lot pleasantly," added Miss Translation.

"But what about Cheesecake-Eater Lad?" Cannon Fodder asked.

"Ah, yes," Monsieur Cheval said. "Him, we did kidnap."

Cannon Fodder leapt from his seat, looking as though he were about to
launch himself over the desk at Monsieur Cheval. "Where is he?"

The equine executive gestured towards a bookshelf along the far wall of
the office, which proceeded to slide sideways to reveal a hidden
laboratory filled with all manner of inscrutable scientific
instruments. And there, standing behind a counter, his apron smeared
with untold ingredients, was Cheesecake-Eater Lad, hard at work.

He looked up from the mixing bowl in front of him and surprise
registered on his face. "Oh, hi!" he said. "What are you guys doing

"We stored them," said Miss Translation.

Half-listening, the dairy-dessert-defender nodded. "Look, I'll be right
with you. I've just about got this recipe finished..."

Cannon Fodder turned to Monsieur Cheval. "What have you done to him?"
he demanded.

"Nothing," the horse-man replied. "Other than give him some clothing.
It was his services we were after, not his body."

"No surprise there," muttered SAFNAR Kid, quickly silenced by an elbow
in the ribs courtesy of Miss Translation.

"Please," Monsieur Cheval continued, "allow me to show you. If you will

The assembled Net.Heroes exchanged glances, then nodded.

The French functionary led them past Cheesecake-Eater Lad -- who, it
turned out, was wearing only a thong beneath his apron -- and further
into the hidden laboratory. The group descended some stairs and came to
a solid metal door, which Monsieur Cheval opened with a retina scan.

"Please do not tap on the glass," he said as they passed through the

On the other side of the door was a hallway lined with glass-fronted
cells, each one housing a different creature.

"In the past," Monsieur Cheval explained, "Net.Santo was run by some...
unscrupulous men. They were dedicated to two things only:
experimentation, and profit. And those two goals led them to make
some... unfortunate choices." He paused, seeming to consider something,
then continued. "The least fortunate are housed here."

They stopped before the first cell, in which an attractive woman in
white facepaint was performing a burlesque dance. Monsieur Cheval
picked up a white board and wrote something for them to read.

"This is the Stripmime," the whiteboard said. "Two people merged into
one. She extends a cone of silence; the more clothing she removes, the
greater the cone."

He replaced the whiteboard and the group continued on to the next cell,
where a fragile, seemingly glass, woman moved her hair back and forth
as though trying to fix reception. Her mouth was open, and static and
the occasional distant voice emanated from it.

"Crystal Radio," Monsieur Cheval explained. "She was the creation of a
department trying to eliminate the need for portable radios." He shook
his head sadly.

There were numerous other unfortunates in the cells, but as they moved
further down the hall, only one captured the attention of everyone in
the party.

His appearance was unsettling, a constantly shifting cascade of images:
different faces, different builds, different limbs in different places.
It appeared as though he were trying to do any number of things, be any
number of people, at once.

"The most unfortunate, and the most dangerous, of all of Net.Santo's
failed experiments," Monsieur Cheval said in response to their
questioning looks. "Man.bat -- half man, half batch command." The
studious stallion shook his head sadly. "No one is certain if he is
even aware of his existence the way that we are." He began walking back
towards Cheesecake-Eater Lad.

"This is all very... creative," Lamar Dunston interjected as they
passed through the doorway. "But how does this justify your kidnapping
two members of the Legion of Net.Heroes?"

"We at Net.Santo wish to make ammends for the mistakes of our
predecessors," Monsieur Cheval said, locking the door behind them. "So
we have enlisted the culinary skills of Cheesecake-Eater Lad, as well
as the Net.ahuman powers of your friend Clarabelle, to bake a very
special cheesecake." He paused. "I should say, a very normal
cheesecake. One so normal that those who consume it will revert back to
their normal forms -- freeing those unfortunate victims of science into
the men and women they were before the experiments."

The group was silent for a moment.

"That's it?" asked Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid. "Aside
from that, everyone can just go home?"

"Indeed. Once your teammate has perfected his recipe, both he and the
alien will be free to go where they please."

"That's stupid," SAFNAR Kid. "Why didn't you just ask them in the first

Monsieur Cheval shrugged. "Old evil corporation habits die hard, I

SAFNAR Kid grumbled something under his breath, but before he could
muster the courage to say anything further out loud, a shot rang out in
the room. A shot that, unfortunately for Cannon Fodder, happened to
strike him square in the back and send him to the floor.

There was a scowling, grimacing, musclebound man standing in the
doorway, holding a gun in his hand. He was clad in an
impractical-looking (and garish) fusion of blue spandex and golden body

armor, and emblazoned on his chest was a stylized purple 'P'. The
general impression was of a man designed by a twelve year old,
colourblind Rob Liefeld. "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!" he shouted,
brandishing the gun in the air. "You were supposed to FIGHT! That's why
I TOLD you these Net.Heroes were COMING! HOW am I supposed to wreak my
ULTIMATE VENGEANCE when nobody in this

bloody place ever FIGHTS anymore? GANAAAAAAARRGNGNGHHHH!!!!!" With that
final incoherent yell, he hurled the pistol at the floor and began
jumping up and down, pumping his fists in the air.


The Net.Heroes exchanged glances with Monsieur Cheval, who shrugged.
"Is he with you?" he asked.

"NO I'm not WITH THEM!" the stranger snapped. "I'm not with ANYBODY
anymore, thanks to you! But that's all right... because THE PHARMACY
doesn't need ANYBODY!"

The Pharmacy?

NEXT ISSUE: What-ho! A fight scene, and the Pharmacy's identity


I think I've realized now that this series is the series I was always
trying to turm Swamp Patrol

into. Which is funny, because I'm still working on that series too...
but the weirdness and the ensemble cast seem to mesh better in this
one, likely in part because I created it.

Taco Dell was originally Taco.dll, but I think this one parses better.
And they make their food as well as their computers.

If you can figure out who the Pharmacy is before next issue, you get a
cookie. And no, it isn't
the Atom's ex-wife.

Charles Edward Cheval, Lamar Dunston, Miss Translation, Blue Wave, the
Pharmacy, and the unfortunate creations of Net.Santo are mine and

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
taken some liberties, to keep all of her words in the English language.
Copyright 2005, baby!

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