[LNH] The Continuing Misadventures of Miss Translation #17

Jamie Rosen jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Sun Mar 13 14:36:49 PST 2005

Low Budget Productions proudly presents

    The Continuing Misadventures of
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./_/  /_/  \_\/_//_//_/  \_//____//____//_//_/   /_/  /_//____//_/  \_/

                                          "The Beginning of the End"

                 [Cover is a tripartite image. On the
                 left, the Normalizer and
                 Kid mount the front stairs of Ye Olde
                 Branche of the Net.ropolis Public
                 Library; on the right, Lamar Dunston
                 addresses what appears to be a board
                 meeting; in the centre, Miss
                 Translation concentrates intently on
                 a letter she is writing at her desk.]

Miss Translation frowned at the blank paper before her. This was the
moment she had feared since her arrival here on Looniearth. As time had
gone by and she had grown closer to her teammates, she had tried to
block its eventuality from her mind, but now she knew she had no choice
in the matter. It would take her a long time, perhaps too long, but she
had to make herself clear.

She closed her eyes and concentrated. One letter at a time. One letter
at a time until she was done. Opening her eyes, she made the first

 *  *  *

Nelson Nielsen's life collapsed around him in the matter of a few days
in autumn 2003. Just that summer had had inked a deal to shoot a pilot
for a major network, a move that was going to make his transition from
military to civilian life much easier on the wallet. He was on top of
the world, and the marriage that had been teetering on the brink of
disaster was granted a reprieve with the news of his impending success.
His life was headed in the right direction.

But that all changed with the first test screening of that fateful
first episode. It was terrible, the focus groups declared. The worst
thing they'd ever seen. So bad, in fact, that the network ordered all
the tapes and promotional material destroyed, and termianted his
contract without recompense. The strain was too much -- his marriage
collapsed, and his wife took their three children and left him in the
middle of the night. At rock bottom, looking up at the world that had
ruined his life, Nelson Nielson swore two things: he would use his
scientific knowledge to build a better family, one that wouldn't
abandon him in his time of need, and he would get revenge on the system
that had built up his hopes only to betray them at the first sign of

 *  *  *

Lamar Dunston surveyed the motley crew he had assembled under his
aegis: Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid -- a hothead, yes,
but one whose energy could be of great use if only he could learn to
harness it in productive ways; the Normalizer, alien enigma and in many
ways the wildcard of a team full of wildcards;
Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl, who had more than once demonstrated
her bravery in combat and an inner strength many other Net.heroes were
lacking, which more than made up for her zombie status; Blue Wave,
dimensionally displaced defender and perhaps the most heroic of the
group; and Miss Translation, who -- wait a second --

"Where's Miss Translation?" he asked.

"She's in her room," SWAA Girl said, "and she won't come out."

Lamar frowned. With all that had gone on of late, he wondered if
someone should check on her. .oO( She's a grown woman, ) he argued with
himself, ( or alien, I suppose. If she wants to stay in her room, she's
as entitled as the next person. ) Certainly, even Net.heroes -- and
there was some uncertainty about whether they could still use the term
in reference to themselves -- deserved some private time.

"So what's the deal, boss man?" the Normalizer asked. "Timmy stuck in a

Lamar shook his head. "We have two items on the agenda today," he
began. "The first is the matter of our name."

"Our name?" Blue Wave inquired.

"Yes. As you may be aware, in our last several outings we have been
referred to as Net.Heroes, and at times even the Legion of Net.Heroes.
We recently received a letter from the LNH proper requesting that we
cease and desist the use of their distinctive name."

"What?!" SAFNAR Kid said. "That's ridiculous! They can't own a word
like Net.Heroes -- that'd be like -- like trademarking the word
's*perh*ro'!" He paused. "Hey, where'd those asterisks come from? I
said 's**erhero'!" He paused again. "What the %&#*?!"

Lamar held up a piece of paper. "As SAFNAR Kid has so ably, albeit
inadvertantly, pointed out, you can indeed claim a word like Net.Heroes
-- and the notice we received from their lethal lawyer [retained during
Just Imagine... Saxon Brenton's RACCies! -- Ed.] indicates that the LNH
is willing to take the matter to court should we persist." He placed
the paper back on the table. "Now, you don't become a millionaire
playboy and philanthropist by engaging in unnecessary court battles, so
I am at present working closely with a focus group to determine the
appropriate nomenclature for us. This will have the added bonus of
avoiding confusion, and increasing brand awareness for our group."

He looked out at the eight eyes staring blankly back at him.

"That means we're going to have a team name," he explained.

"Oh!" the four Net. -- uh, costumed individuals said in unison.

"Now," he continued on, "moving to our next item of business. We have
received word of a couple of unusual events going on in Net.ropolis.
Events that, for whatever reason, the Legion of Net.Heroes has declined
to investigate. With Miss Translation currently incommunicado, I will
be splitting you into pairs to look into these situations.

"SAFNAR Kid, you and the Normalizer will be looking into the goings-on
at Ye Olde Branche of the Net.ropolis Public Library, where we're
getting reports that everything is gradually being covered in plastic."

"Oh great!" SAFNAR Kid groaned. "I get to babysit."

"Really?" enthused the Normalizer. "What do you make per hour?"

Lamar Dunston chose to ignore them. "Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Girl,
you and Blue Wave will be investigating reports of a sharp increase in
net.ahuman children being born at the Net.ropolis General Failure
Reading Drive A: Hospital."

"Sure thing!" SWAA Girl responded cheerily. Blue Wave nodded, the
picture of all-business heroics.

"Now," Lamar continued, "as we are still making arrangements for our
own transportation, we will need to rely on more prosaic means."

"Meaning?" SAFNAR Kid.

"I'll call you a cab."

 *  *  *

Miss Translation frowned. The worst part about all of this was that she
had no way of knowing if what she was writing was really what she meant
to say. She could only rely on the thought that if she took it slow and
concentrated on each comoponent line rather than on the words as a
whole, she could overcome the barrier between herself and the rest of
the world.

Finishing the last line of the first word, she put down her pen and ran
her hands through her hair. Would they understand? And would they
*understand*? She stood up and took a short walk around her room. All
this concentration was more tiring than any fight with a Net.Villain.

Taking her seat once more, she made a point of not looking at the word
she had written. If she had, and if she had been able to read it, she
would have seen it was the word: 'Dear'.

 *  *  *

"Don't worry about the fare," the Normalizer said as the cab pulled to
a stop outside Ye Olde Branche of the Net.ropolis Public Library. "I'll
pay for it."

SAFNAR narrowed his eyes. "With whose money?" he asked, instinctively
reaching to his back pocket.

The Normalizer hesitated for a moment. "Mine," he said at last, handing
SAFNAR Kid back his wallet.

.oO( Easy now, SAFNAR Kid, ) the adversarial avenger thought to himself
as he got out of the taxi. .oO( If you're going to stay on the team,
you have to behave. ) "Thank you," he said, then casually checked to
make sure there was still money in the wallet he'd just been returned.

"So, everything's getting covered in plastic, eh?" the Normalizer said
as they climbed the steps to the librayr. "Sounds like my last date."

"You've never had a date," SAFNAR Kid countered. "You've been too busy
invading Looniearth, joining the Legion, fighting trolls, and being
kidnapped by Net.Santo to meet anyone."

"You need another person for a date?" the Normalizer asked.

SAFNAR Kid chose not to think about it.

At the top of the stairs, they found that even the handle for the front
door was now covered in a stiff plastic coating.

"Weird," SAFNAR Kid said. "I wonder what's going on."

The Normalizer leaned close to investigate the handle, but didn't
bother to remove his sunglasses. "It seems," he said, adjusting his
tie, "to be covered in plastic."

SAFNAR Kid smacked him upside the head, then grabbed hold of the handle
and pulled. The door came open without a hitch.

The interior of the library was all shiny and smooth, coated in the
same manner as the handle of the front door. This included the floor,
the walls, the books, the chairs, the staff, and the patrons --
including a rather puzzled-looking Theory Man, holding a dog-eared copy
of _The Tenth Planet_ in his hand. The one good thing out of it all was
that the people seemed healthy enough; they were breathing, although
apparently insensate.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," SAFNAR Kid said as they moved
further into the library.

"I don't know," the Normalizer countered, "at least it keeps everything

The two heroes began to examine the library for clues as to what was
going on. They referred to the reference section, researched into the
non-fiction section, and checked out the fiction, but nothing seemed
out of the ordinary -- other than the whole plastic thing, of course.
It was only as they neared the information desk that they came across
something different.

Collapsed down to one knee beside the front desk was a man in an orange
jumpsuit, wearing blue goggles above his eyes. On his chest was an
embroidered 'L' in blue, and he seemed to be in intense discomfort.
Indeed, if there had been a librarian on duty and conscious, she would
have been asking him to keep it down, as his groaning would have been
disturbing the clientele.

"Hey buddy," the Normalizer said, walking up to the mysterious
stranger. "Do you know what's going on?" Before SAFNAR Kid could shout
out a warning, the Normalizer placed his hand on the other man's
shoulder, and was suddenly coated in plastic like everything else.

"$#!+," grunted SAFNAR Kid, instinctively ducking behind the desk. The
man was up and mobile now, although still grunting -- giving the
impression more of a wild animal in a panic than a human being. He was
moving away from the desk, but SAFNAR Kid had a terrible feeling that
while that was good for him, it was bad for the world on the other side
of the front door.

.oO( I have to stop him from getting outside, ) he thought. ( But how
-- even the Normalizer was affected by him when he touched him... )
Casting his eyes about the library, he saw any number of items that
could conceivably have been used as a weapon -- mostly books, but also
keyboards, monitors, and, if he had super-strength, the photocopier.
.oO( If I can knock him out without touching him, I might stand a
chance. ) The other man was halfway to the door now, so SAFNAR Kid
decided to stop thinking and start acting, grabbing the nearest heavy
object and charging.

The sound of the laminating machine's cord being pulled from the wall
must have caught his attention, because the other man spun around and
instinctively fired off a burst of plastic energy, narrowly missing
SAFNAR Kid's head and adding an extra coating to the wall behind him.
.oO( That was close, ) SAFNAR Kid thought, then pushed the thought from
his mind as he swung the machine at his opponent. He missed, but it put
the other man off balance, and SAFNAR Kid nearly struck out at him with
a kick until he stopped himself.

Another blast caught the power cord of the machine, but left the
shooter open to a second swing by SAFNAR Kid, and this time he caught
him square in the sternum, knocking the wind out of him and sending him
to the ground. As he lay on the floor, a change seemed to come over
him, and the wild look in his eyes was replaced by a faraway but more
human one. As his eyes glazed over, the plastic coating on everything
began to fade away, and he muttered a curseword before losing
consciousness at SAFNAR Kid's feet.

"I wonder what that was all about," SAFNAR Kid mused out loud.

"I think I can explain."

SAFNAR Kid turned to face the Net.Hero who addressed him.

"You see," Theory Man began, "I have a theory..."

 *  *  *

"I need a drink," Miss Translation said to no one in particular as she
leaned back in her chair. So much time, and all she'd managed was two
words. It would be so easy to become discourged, to give up and throw
in the towel -- but she couldn't. She owed them an explanation. With a
great deal of effort, she finished the second word of her letter:

 *  *  *

"So," Lamar Duston began, "you all know why you're here. I need

The assembled men and women nodded.

"Now, while none of you have met one another before, you all come
highly recommended, and that is why I have foregone the usual method
for gathering a focus group and have hand-picked you instead."

One of the women in the group raised her hand. A short-haired woman of
college age, her name was Nancy Gooden-Sweet, and her file showed she'd
been the deciding factor in getting Rush Limbaugh taken off the air.
She was also a vegan and a staunch fan of professional wrestling.

"Yes, Nancy?"

"Does your team have a name already?"

He shook his head. "No," he said.


"How about the Fantastic Five?" That was Douglas Out, a stock broker
and hobby stock-car racer. He was a little overweight in the way of an
athlete who had stopped training regularly, and his hair was thinning
and combed over in a vain attempt to hide it. He'd been in the group
that chose Mr. Paprika Retcon over Mr. Potato-Paprika.

"But what if the membership changes?" countered Nancy. "I don't think
it would be a good idea to tie the name so closely to the specific
number of members."

Lamar nodded thoughtfully. "May I share some of the other possible
names we've come up with?"

The group nodded.

Lamar cleared his throat. "The Crimefighting Cohort. Gangbusters. The
Brotherhood of Evil-Fighting. And Extreme Justice."

At that last one, the entire group burst out in laughter.

"I think I can speak for all of us," Doug Out said, "when I say that
Extreme Justice is definitely not the way to go."

There was a chorus of agreement, along with comments such as "How could
justice be extreme, anyway?"

"Now, the Crimefighting Cohort has good alliteration," offered
Mary-Margaret McManus, who had helped with Hexadecimal Luthor's
campaign platform. "But the word 'cohort' sounds, well, evil."
Mary-Margaret was a gorgeous redhead in a very plain blouse and skirt.

"Mm-hmm," said the others.

"And speaking of evil," added Farooq Asad, "I'm not too sure about the
Brotherhood of Evil-Fighting. It's too dependent on correct
punctuation, and any name that sounds like a Net.villain team if you're
cut off before finishing it is probably not a good idea." Faarooq had
participated in the reimaging of Net.Santo from evil corporation bent
on world domination to benevolent corporation dedicated to helping all
mankind. His looks belied his name, as he was blonde and blue-eyed, the
son of two Finns who had converted to Islam.

Lamar nodded thoughtfully. "What about the Gangbusters?" he asked.

"Well, it has a nice feel to it," answered Jen Ecchs, the one reticent
member of the group. She was full-figured, and the frames of her
glasses nicely complemented the blond highlights in her styled brown
hair. "But have you busted any gangs to this point?"

Lamar shook his head.

"Do you expect to bust any in the future?"

"I don't believe so, no," he answered.

"Then it's probably not the best name to go with. You wouldn't want to
set false expectations."

He nodded. "True, true. Well, we've gone through the existing
possibilities. Do any of you have any suggestions?"

Before anyone could answer, the door to the conference room burst open
and a half-dozen Net.Villains strode into the room. The leader, a
middle-aged man in military fatigues, directed the rest of the group to
take up positions around the perimeter.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," he said, a smug look on his face. "My name is
Major Dad, and this is my family -- the Nielsen Family -- and you...
well, *you* are all about to die."


Well, considering two issues ago I was lamenting a
'contractually-obligated fight scene', I sure haven't shied away from
putting confrontation in the last two issues, have I? I guess I'm just
contrarian by nature.

I think this issue raises some questions, such as: How many times will
our heroes visit the library? Will they ever get library cards? And if
so, could they use their hero names, or would they have to reveal their
secret identities? It probably raises other questions, too, but I can't
think of what they might be.

The Normalizer, Lamar Dunston, Miss Translation, 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.

Theory Man is unreserved. Don't remember who created him.

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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