LNH/ACRA: Teenfactor # 133
milos_parker at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 2 05:46:27 PST 2005
TOM RUSSELL PRESENTS
AN LNH TITLE
TEENFACTOR # 133
Between tricks, Roxie and Mable feebly discuss
going to Washington to find Electra and stop her from
killing Wes Gas. The conversations are perfunctory;
by the time they get there, et cetera et cetera, what
happens if she's on her way back and we miss her, et
cetera et cetera. As time presses on, these reasons
only become stronger. We might have done something
about it in the morning, but now?
At seven o' clock, Roxie's done for the day. Mable
had spent most of the afternoon making dinner, and now
presents a pound of fresh ziti in a four cheese tomato
sauce-- heavy on garlic, heavy on onions, heavy on
peppers. Heavy, heavy, heavy.
Roxie enters the dining room as she pulls a top on.
Mable's seen her before, touched her before, and so
she sees no need for modesty. They make some small
talk-- as perfunctory as their debate about Electra--
until Roxie asks Mable why he wants to be dead.
"Short answer, self-loathing. Long answer? I was
a net.hero in my reality, the leader of this team
"I was part of that," says Roxie.
"Here, yes. And, in my world also. We... we were
"Ah, friends," Roxie says, smiling. "I thought you
were a little eager."
"Yeah, well... anyway, I made some shitty decisions
as team leader, and the team, as a result, suffered.
I got a chance to rewrite history, to change one
thing. And so..."
"And so, you wished you were never born. Very
"Wasn't there another way?"
"Another way to resolve the situation, to get out
of your jam?"
"Not that I could see. We were more or less at the
mercy of a god-type thing. One of those. I suppose
we could have stuck it out. But I didn't see how. Of
course-- I was always a shitty leader anyway, so
there's no way I would be able to see our way through
it. Carolyn was always better."
"Carolyn, that's what you called Electra."
"That's who she used to be."
"How different are they? Your Carolyn and my
"Shit. Night and day."
"Well, basically. I dunno. Both of them-- once
they set their mind on something..."
"Yeah," says Roxie. "Yeah. How about me?"
"What about you?"
"How different am I from me? Oh, that sounds
"I know what you mean. I dunno. Seem about the
same, I guess."
"I'm a hooker?"
"Not in my world, no. But that's not who you are,
Roxanne. Roxie. That's not who you are inside."
"Does that matter? Or is it what you do?"
"More important than what you do is why you do it."
"Everyone has good intentions." Roxie shrugs.
"Doesn't mean that everyone is good."
"I know, I know. I agree with you. I just-- look,
I was borderline incompetent as a net.hero, as a team
leader, as a human being. I'm surprised I cooked this
"A little undercooked, actually. Bit starchy."
"Damn, I thought so. But when you hadn't said
anything... but see, that's just what I mean. I can't
do anything right. And if who I am is what I do, then
who I am is utterly worthless."
"The short answer."
"Damn, you got some anger problems," says President
Gas as he reattaches his head. Electra stares at him.
"What? You think I'm going to be the first President
to be assassinated while actually standing in the oval
office? Give me some credit."
"There's a race of pissed-off aliens on its way to
invade the earth. You purposely provoked them. There
are a handful of competent net.heroes left and they're
all in Poland. How much credit do you want?"
"More than you're giving me, that's for sure. Come
on, Electra! This is the U S of A! Don't be so
down-in-the-dumps, grumpy Greta! We're going to kick
their alien asses. We always do. We're America,
buddy! Get with it."
"You're a traitor, damn it. No, you're not.
You're worse than that. You're an idiot! This is the
most half-assed plan in the history of half-asserdy."
She starts towards the door. "I'll cut through your
secret service like butter, baby. And they ain't
going to reattach themselves."
"You leave this room, and Roxie Winters will be
dead," says President Gas. Before he says the last
word, Electra's fist, boiling with snap-crackle, is
poised at his throat.
Before she can snarl a threat, he continues.
"Roxie's powers kicked in when she was eleven years
old. An early bloomer. She's a living fuck factory,
basically. She secretes intense musk, makes her
irresistible to men and women alike. Curious side
effect, her skin turned a deep shade of purple."
"Tell me something I don't know."
"She's been a whore since she was twelve, and she's
been positive since she was thirteen." Electra
uncoils her fist and pulls away from President Gas.
"Only thing keeping her alive, only thing keeping the
AIDS at bay was her will power. But last year, she
had even run out of that. Now, the only thing keeping
her alive? Your nanites.
"Why do you think she joined Teenfactor? She wants
to be a net.hero, make a difference? Hell no. She's
about as altruistic as a snake oil man. She joined
because she was afraid of dying. Because we had
nanites. They're no cure for AIDS, of course. But
they are keeping her alive.
"Curious thing, though. You see, we can send a
signal to the nanites, cause them to self-destruct,
tear the body apart in a matter of seconds. Very
painful, I assure you. So.
"Look on the bright side, Electra. You're not just
saving Roxie. Hell, you're not just saving the world.
You're saving the American Dream."
The last refuge for the world's net.hero
"It's been a tough year for the LNH," Kid Recap
begins. He stands next to Irony Man at the front of
the room. Gathered before them stands the entire
surviving roster of the Legion of the Net. Heroes.
There used to be hundreds; now, only dozens.
"You can say that again," says Cheesecake
Eater-Lad. Only the popular/public domain characters
"I'm working from prepared notes," says Kid Recap.
"So, please. No interruptions."
"And I have an announcement to make," says Irony
Man. "Time is of the essence."
"Let's see: a tough year for us," says Kid Recap.
"Boy, has it ever been. So many high-powered
net.villain attacks at once. Thinning our ranks.
Losing our comrades, including our leader, the
Ultimate Ninja. Who, unfortunately, forgot to pay our
electric bill. And our water bill. And our city
"And our federal taxes.
"And we'll never know what happened to all our
Kirby Tech. Or Kid Kirby himself, for that matter.
And then there was the day when we all woke up outside
LNHHQ, and for the life of us, we couldn't get the
doors open. And, of course, the afternoon of that
same day, when Wes Gas came to power.
"And-- well, hell, you all know this story anyway,
"It's all right," says Irony Man, putting a hand on
"I'm good at recapping things, though, aren't I?"
"You're the best," says Irony Man. He motions to
the other Legionnaires. Some of them parrot his
statement, you're the best, Kid Recap. What would we
do without you?
"But if everyone knows the story," says Kid Recap.
"If no one wants to hear it... what's the point, you
know? I mean, what's the bloody point?"
"There, there," says Irony Man. "Go join the
others now, all right?"
Kid Recap nods, whimpering, and takes his place
with the group.
"Like the man said-- and very well, I might add--
it's been a bad year for us, folks. Only country in
the civilized world that hasn't outlawed net.heroes is
Poland, and here we are. But, things aren't looking
particularly sunny. It has come to my attention....
that there is...
"A traitor amongst us!"
"Oh, shit, not again," many of them plead at once.
"Contraption Man, Comics Snob Boy..." Kid Recap
"Too many to count," says Cheesecake Eater-Lad.
"And if the big twist reveal isn't obvious, than
it's lame," says a random LNHer.
Old Comics Man agrees: "In my day, we didn't even
need traitor storylines to pump up sales figures and
fan speculation. In fact, one could argue that it's
just these sort of storylines that led to the
speculation market, the lameness of such storylines
that led to that same bubble bursting, and the
foisting of such storylines onto writers by their
editors that is responsible for the dearth of creative
energy in the mainstream industry today."
Several LNHers standing near him blink their eyes.
"What?" says Old Comics Man. "You live a long
time, you read up on stuff."
Irony Man waits for everyone to simmer down before
he begins to speak again. "There is a traitor amongst
us, in this very room. And I know his name. The
traitor is... me. Ironic, huh?"
His teammates do not answer; at the moment, they're
doubling up in pain, their bodies ripping apart at the
"I've taken the liberty of installing fairly nasty
and parasitic nanotechnology in your bodies. You'll
all be dead by the end of this sent... right, then."
One lone Legionnaire remains.
"Gotta hold on." He crawls across the hallway, his
body held together by his will power, and by his
ability to lag. "Gotta slow the nanites down. Gotta
buy me some time. Gotta get help. Gotta... gotta..."
With a tremendous amount of effort, he throws
himself against the door, forcing it open. About a
quarter-mile away lies the shoreline, and at the dock
sits his boat. "Gotta get to my boat. Gotta go back
in time. Gotta get help. Gotta live. Live, damn it.
Just a half-hour. Just... time... enough..."
He throws himself into the rowboat and grabs his
oar. He thrusts it into the water, his body covered
with sweat. The oar, the boat, the man himself, they
all begin to glow, and fade, and disappear.
He is going to succeed.
For he is--
Lagnus, Rowboat Fighter.
October of 1980, Stork Enterprises:
Toony Stork, sixteen years old, dressed for
success, a winner, heir to multi-millions. "Look,
Joe, it comes down to this: if you don't vote for
Reagan, then we're doomed."
"Doomed, Toony?" Joe says. "I mean, come on..."
"Carter is a shit," Toony says. "The economy is
shit, and he just says, hey, it's going to be shit for
a while. We have these hostages that he's twiddling
his thumbs about."
"We don't know that. I'm sure he's working to get
them freed, negotiating..."
"They're still over there, aren't they? Carter is
the worst President in recent memory."
"What about Nixon?"
"What about Nixon?" counters Toony, taking umbrage.
"Nixon ended the war in Viet Nam, Nixon lowered the
voting age, Nixon started the EPA..."
"Lies," Toony says passionately. "Smears."
"Oh, come on. There's evidence..."
"What evidence? There's no evidence. There's no
"The Pentagon Papers..."
"But the missing eighteen minutes..."
"Smears. No proof. Smears!"
"Just ugly smears from the liberal elite, trying to
ruin the good name of the GOP. And they take power
and what happens? Carter happens."
"Jesus, Toony, you..."
"Okay, okay, lies, smears. You make Woodward and
Bernstein sound like a couple of McCarthys."
"And what's wrong with McCarthy?"
"You got to be shitting me."
"He was right. He was basically right, there were
communists infiltrators. And history will vindicate
his name. Vindicated!"
"All right, well, I'll be..."
"... seeing you..."
"Do your duty, man. Vote for Reagan, damn it! We
got to take control!"
It is only after Joe has scampered off that Toony
notices the spandex-clad man and his rowboat in the
middle of the lobby.
"Mr. Stork," says Lagnus, "I'm dying."
"There's a hospital down the street," Toony says.
"No time. Just a few minutes left."
"Oh." Toony looks uneasy.
"I've come to take you with me."
"No... no... I'm from the future, the future needs
you. The entire world is in danger."
"That's too bad..."
"That includes America."
"All right, let's go."
Poland, the de facto LNHHQ: Irony Man takes off his
armor and, naked, sits down in a chair, looking over
his carnage. The door to the great hall opens, but he
doesn't look up; he knows who's coming.
The young Toony Stork and the old Toony Stork stand
in front of one another, and the old Stork smiles.
"Remember these words," says the elder as he
produces a gun from a table. "They're the last ones
you'll ever say." He puts the gun to his temple and
fires, falling off the chair in a squishy, bleeding
The young Toony's first instinct is to run, and so
he does; he runs outside, calling for Lagnus, a friend
he's known for four and a half minutes and counting.
Lagnus, too, is dead, his body ripped to pieces by
Toony stares out at the bright Polish afternoon,
and watches the rowboat disappear of its own accord.
Then he heads back inside, having no other options.
He walks through the mass of dead heroes and gives
his future corpse a kick to make sure he's dead.
Remember these words, they're the last ones you'll
ever say. Blam. Remember these words...
He notices the armor now-- no, he had seen it
before, but was pretending he hadn't. If he didn't
see the armor, if he didn't acknowledge it, then it
wasn't there. But now he looks at it, he sees it.
He puts on the armor.
Mable wakes up to see Roxie standing over him,
touching his shoulder.
"Aliens," Roxie says. "We're being invaded."
"Right now?" Mable says.
Then they hear someone scream; he doesn't have to
ask again. At least, not that question. "What should
"Me, I'm going to go hide," says Roxie. "Not much
I can do. You're the big net.hero, you're the leader
of your team."
"The failed leader of my team," he says. "Beyond
that, my power's fairly useless."
"What is your power?"
"I can induce symptoms of illness in myself, fake a
fever, a cold, measles, whatever. I, uh, malinger.
So they called me Malingerer Lad."
"You're right. That's about the most useless power
I can think of. What are you going to do, throw up on
"Exactly. I'd be more of a hindrance, I always
was. Just get in everyone's way."
"Of course, with all the net.heroes in Poland..."
"Do you want me to go or something?"
"It's your life, your soul, your choice," she says.
"But I'm asking you. Do you want me to go?"
"No," she says. "I want you to stay with me."
The ships are floating spheres, metal orbs that
crackle with invisible energy. As they come down
closer to the earth, hundreds of thousands of them,
the energy grabs hold of things, of cars, of stone, of
rubble, of fire hydrants, pulling them closer to the
orb. Soon, it's not on orb at all, but a strange body
made of spare parts and destruction. A car is warped
and becomes an leg that stomps and crushes those
underfoot. Something else becomes an arm to swat
people like overly-large and particularly annoying
And the people do what people do best. They run.
They scream. They panic. They die.
The military soon materializes, tanks firing,
bazookas firing, lasers blared, but none of it, of
course, poses much threat to these cobbled-together
invaders. Soon the tanks and bazookas become part of
their uncanny, unyielding, unstoppable body mass.
"This is glorious," says President Gas, clapping
"They're dying, everyone's getting massacred.
Wiped out," says Electra, disgusted. She herself is
surprised by her emotional response. She's Electra,
she's attractively cynical. She's not supposed to
care. "How can you say this is glorious?"
"The tide's going to turn," says President Gas.
"You just watch. Ordinary Americans are going to turn
the tide. Which includes you. I'll have you escorted
to the Pentagon, to our intelligence epicenter. See
if we can figure out a weakness. How long do you
think that will take?"
"How am I supposed to know?" says Electra. "It
could take five minutes, it could take ten years. And
meanwhile, people are dying. You have to do
something. Call the LNH, have them come back..."
President Gas smiles and turns on the radio.
"The LNH," the radio pronounces, "has been
murdered. There are no survivors."
"I have friends in high places," President Gas
says. "You just watch, Electra. Have faith in the
"They're all going to die," says Electra. "What if
the tide doesn't turn?"
"Damn right it will," says Electra. She stands up
and heads for the door.
"Don't go out there playing hero. Ordinary people
are going to win this. Your ordinary, American
intelligence is going to win this. You use a single
spark of your powers, and mark my words, Roxie Winters
is dead." His words are punctuated by screams, not
from the radio, but from outside.
Electra keeps walking. "I'm not doing it for
Little girl, maybe six, her mother dead besides
her, a huge vending machine turned foot about to stamp
her out of existence. Then?
Someone grabs the girl and they roll down the
street and onto the sidewalk. Her rescuer puts her
upright and smiles. "Run, little girl. Don't look
back. Run and hide."
The little girl kisses her purple savior on the
cheek and runs. In her head, she calls the woman
Purple Mommy. Children do strange things.
Roxie turns her head in time to see a hand made
from a lamp-post threatening to smoosh her up against
the building. She ducks and runs towards Mable.
They stand side-by-side, defiantly, as the alien
regards them with scrutiny.
Without warning, the various body parts start to
fall away. Roxie and Mable scamper back but otherwise
hold their ground. It sheds its body like a snake
sheds it skin, leaving it in a heterogeneous pile in
the middle of the street. Now the orb is all that's
A seam appears from nowhere, and the orb opens up.
There is nothing inside.
In case you're just joining this, this is an alternate
timeline story. So, no, I didn't just kill off the
entire LNH. And yes, I know, that's not how Irony
Man's origin goes; again, alternate timeline, blah,
I do find it a bit ironic that I'm doing an alternate
timeline story after my childish anti-alternate
timeline rant in April.
Irony Man: creator unknown.
Kid Recap: Josh Geurink.
Cheesecake Eater Lad: creator unknown.
Old Comics Man: creator unknown.
Everyone else: me. Lagnus, Rowboat Fighter is hereby
given to the public domain, should anyone want to
introduce him in the mainstream LNH continuity.
(C) Copyright 2005 Tom Russell.
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