LNH/ACRA/TEB: Net.heroes on Parade TEB Vol. # 4: Chatillon, part one

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 26 09:20:43 PDT 2006

Chatillon, Part One

  And so, here we are, the final arc of NET.HEROES ON
PARADE (though not by any means the end of the story
for Michette, Lily, Tyler, Maggie, Alicia and Gary). 
I call this one Chatillon after its villain, and he
really is just that: a sly, manipulative, mysterious
villain, motivated by a five-hundred year need for
vengeance.  He really is the most melodramatic
character in the whole piece, and really he's not so
much of a character as he is a catalyst for treason.
   I've gotten tired of mystery characters in the four
years between the time I wrote this and the time I
edit it now.  At the same time, I realize that that's
all there really is to Chatillon, that he works best
as an elegant cipher.  That's one of the reasons why,
in this new version of NHOP, he's introduced in # 17. 
Originally, he was introduced in # 13 (along with the
green man).  I like the introduction scene, and I
think it works-- as a scene-- but I don't feel that it
really fits in with the rest of that arc at the time,
nor do I think it fits in with the current redux.
   In that scene, however, there was an eerie and
telling detail (Chatillon remains untouched by a
rain-storm) that Martin Phipps later picked up on in
his story.
   Wait, you say. Martin Phipps?  His story?
   Ah, yes.  Between the time that # 17 was posted,
and the time that # 18 made its way onto RACC, I was
on a bit of a sabbatical.  In the interim, Martin
wrote LNH COMICS PRESENTS # 9, an "unofficial
   In this story, included here due to Martin's kind
permission, Chatillon asks various other LNH members
to stay out of the way during his planned abduction of
Lunchbox Lass.  Martin's treatment of Chatillon, and
his story, are different from mine, because his aim is
different: while I'm working gleefully in melodrama,
Martin was working in the mode of the classic LNH
story, in which various zanies interact with other
zanies (or, in this case, Chatillon).
   In LNH COMICS PRESENTS # 9, Chatillon
(intriguingly) does not make Faustian deals with the
legionnaires (it is said that he asks each and every
member of the LNH!), but rather tries to simply talk
them into it.  Martin also suggests that Chatillon has
mental manipulation powers on par with Catalyst Lass,
while his powers in NHOP are generally ill-defined.
   While the story does detract from the mystery of
the character, I think it more than makes up for it in
charm, wit, and thought.  It's a very entertaining
little story (even if it does go on a bit too long),
and I am proud to present it here in its entirety.

"Hey, what about everyone else?"
   by Martin Phipps

   Chatillon smiled.  Three members of the LNH (Gary
Niceguy, Speed Richardson and Alicia Avenue in
Net.heroes on Parade # 17 by Tom Russell) had already
agreed to look the other way when he came back to
kidnap Michette Duclos.  But what about everybody else
in the LNH?  It was going to be a long day.

   "It really doesn't matter," Adam Evers, also known
as Adamant Authority-on-Everything (created by wReam)
told him, "you'd never get past the LNH security
   "I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem," Chatillon
assured him.
   "Sorry, but it ain't gonna happen: as soon as you
show up to grab Lunchbox Lass the alarms will go off
and Ultimate Ninja would show up and skewer you.  End
of diabolical villainous plan.  Over.  Finit.  Not a
chance.  Not a hope in--"
   "You're sure?"
   "But I'm already here.  I could go get her right
   "Right.  And then the alarms would go off."
   "But they haven't."
   "Right.  Because you're not going after her just
yet.  As you told me, you're going to come back for
her later."
   "But what if I were to change my mind and grab her
right now?"
   "Then the alarms would go off."
   "So, the security system can read my thoughts?"
Chatillon asked, incredulously.
   "Hey, I'm just telling you the way things work
around here," Adam explained.  "Villains like you,
Psykeye, Rumour Monger and Tsar Chasm would pop in and
out of LNHHQ all the time without the security system
so much as blinking but when the LNH is actually being
attacked, the alarm goes off.  A-OOGA!  A-OOGA!" Adam
said, imitating the sound of the alarm.
   "Fine.  Have it your way."  Chatillon was convinced
he was wasting his time with this one.

   "So, what you're telling me is that Michette is
better off if I do nothing?" Brad-Thomas Boyd,
otherwise known as Bad-Timing Boy (created by Vernon
H. Harmon), asked.
   "And why are you telling me this?"
   "Because I've got her best interests at heart."
   "Right.  And that's why you're kidnapping her and
stealing her lunchbox."
   "Try to think of it as me borrowing her for a
   "And what if she doesn't want to go with you or
give you her lunchbox?  But wait-- you know she
doesn't want to or else you wouldn't be asking me to
look the other way."
   "Sometimes, people don't act in their own best
   "True, but then the thing to do is to go to her and
try to convince her to hand over the lunchbox.  I
mean, geez, if you're talking to me then you must be
talking to everyone.  Are you sure this is the way to
go about this?"
   "I'm quite certain.  So, tell me, are you going to
look the other way when I come to get her?"
   "Hmm," Brad murmured.  "What if I were to just go
right now and speak to Ultimate Ninja about this and
tell him that you're going to attack?  Then, we'd all
be ready for you when you come back.  What then?"
   "You're not going to do that."
   "I'm not going to do that."
   "You're just going to forget all about this
conversation and do nothing when I come back to grab
Michette Duclos."
   "I'm just going to forget all about this
conversation and do nothing when you come back to grab
Michette Duclos.  Hey!  Cool mind trick!  But if you
have such powers over men's minds, then why do you go
to all the trouble of trying to convince people?"
   Chatillon sighed.  "You have no flair for the
dramatic, do you?"

   "You mean nobody's going to help Michette when you
come to grab her?" Bonnie Chique, otherwise known as
Bandwagon Chick (created by Sue Clark) asked
   "Yes.  It's called apathy.  It's the 'in' thing. 
You do want to be in with the 'in' crowd, don't you?"
   "Sure," Bonne said, "but somehow it doesn't seem
right.  I mean it doesn't seem very heroic."
   "Who are you and I to question fashion trends?"
   "True.  OK," she said.  "Count me in.  Our out.  Or

   "That's not true!" Brian Hollenbrook, otherwise
known as Bizarre Boy (created by persons unknown),
insisted.  "Sometimes my powers work just fine."
   "Perhaps," Chatillon countered, "but do you want to
take the chance of your powers actually harming
Michette, the very person who you would want to
   Brian didn't answer.
   "Look.  I can see alternate futures, different
possibilities.  If you act to stop me, you will hurt,
perhaps even kill, Michette Duclos, but if you do
nothing then she will return to the LNH unharmed."
   "But without her lunchbox?"
   "And why exactly do you want her lunchbox anyway? 
I mean, it's not that hard to make a sandwich.  You
just take two pieces of bread--"
   "The lunchbox is more powerful than you know."
   "Really?" Brian asked.  "Oh I get it!  You're going
to open a restaurant, aren't you?  Well, somehow it
doesn't seem fair of you to do that and not offer
Michette a share of the profits.  I mean, it's still
her lunchbox, after all and--"
   "Look," Chatillon said, getting annoyed.  "Why
don't you just forget this conversation ever took
   "Well, I don't know, I mean... um... what were we
talking about anyway?  I seem to have lost my train of
   "Don't worry," Chatillon said with a wry smile. 
"It wasn't important."

   "Wow," Carl Foulker, otherwise known as Cannon
Fodder (created by wReam), said, "I really appreciate
you telling me this in advance."
   Chatillon smiled.  "I know how much pain you go
through every time you die, even if the others don't. 
Why should you die for Michette Duclos?  Why is it
that your death is always treated as a mundane
occurrence?  Why?  Because you're going to come back
   "Exactly," Carl said.  "You're the first person
who's ever understood what it's been like for me."
   "That's why I'm telling you to do nothing when I
come to get Michette Duclos, because if you try to
stop me then I'd have to kill you... and you very well
know that you're going to die, there's no getting
around that, because you always do."
   "I know," Carl said sadly.
   "But this time it doesn't have to happen.  IF you
just sit by and do nothing!"
   "Wait!" Carl said.  "If what you say is true, if
you're going to attack and kill anyone who tries to
stop you then I'd better be there to at least try."
   "Why?" Chatillon asked.
   Carl sighed.  "Someone always dies when villains
attack and if it's not me then it's a part-time
receptionist... or a slut... or a black guy."
   "I think you're thinking about teen horror movies."
   "Whatever.  Thing is, somebody has to die to create
a sense of dramatic tension in a story.  Otherwise,
it's just people dancing around making threats."
   Chatillon nodded.  "You're right.  You have to
die."  He then grabbed Carl by the throat and lifted
him from the floor.
   "Oh, Sh--" Carl was barely able to get out before
his neck snapped.  Chatillon let go of him and his
lifeless body fell to the floor.
   "I really didn't want to have to do that,"
Chatillon said calmly.

   "No problem," Maurice Ekbye, otherwise known as
Captain Cleanup (created by "Storm"), said.  "Just try
not to make too much of a mess."

   "You're not going to help Michette," Chatillon told
Catherine Anne List, otherwise known as Catalyst Lass
(created by Elisabeth Riba) said.
   "No!  You're not going to try to take her!"
Catherine insisted.
   "You don't want to help!"
   "You don't want to take her!"
   "You won't help!"
   "You won't take her!"
   Chatillon sighed.  "Our powers are canceling each
other out, aren't they?"
   "In afraid so."

   "Don't worry," Deja Dude said, "I'm not going to
get involved."
   "Good," Chatillon said, smiling.
   "I mean it's Tom's story."
   "Excuse me?"
   "I mean it's one thing to write about what's going
on, on the sidelines, but I couldn't very well do
anything to affect Tom's plans."
   "What are you talking about?"
   "You mean... you don't know?" Deja Dude laughed. 
"Why is it that all the otherwise omniscient
net.villains seem to have a blind spot when it comes
to the true nature of the Looniverse?"
   "And what true nature is that?"
   "Oops!  Never mind!" Deja Dude said, laughing. 
"Apparently Tom doesn't want you to know.  Sort of
spoils your whole motivation if you do, doesn't it?"
   "Who is this Tom person you keep talking about?"
   Deja Dude tried to calm him down.  "Look, look,
just forget it, OK?  You just go ahead and grab
Michette and don't worry about me trying to stop you. 
Oh!  And don't forget the evil laugh!  The evil laugh
is important because then all the people who trusted
you will suddenly realise what they've done and
they'll start angsting right away.  It's very
important.  Trust me."
   "Alright," Chatillon said, wondering what this
madman was going on about.

   "Let me get this straight," Golden Man said, "at
precisely the same moment that you're going to snatch
Lunchbox Lass the Enobi (created by Jesse N. Willey)
are going to be attacking Looniearth?"
   "Exactly," Chatillon said, "and your powers are
needed there instead of here.  Remember: 'The needs of
the many...'"
   "'Outweigh the needs of the few'.  I know.  But it
is also true that 'With great power comes... great
   "And to whom do you owe that responsibility more? 
To Michette Duclos?  Or to the millions who would be
affected by the Enobi invasion?"
   Golden Man thought for a moment.  "But Michette is
a teammate! Surely my responsibility is to my
   "And if all of the other LNH members feel the same
way then who will stop the Enobi?"
   "Well, gee, I would have thought the Team (created
by Jesse N. Willey) would have been able to stop them.
 I mean, they seem to have been able to handle the
Enobi on their own in the past."
   "Fine," Chatillon said.  "You make up your own
mind."  He was confident that, when the time came,
Golden Man would waste no time in trying to serve the
greater good.

   "I will be fighting against the LNH.  My powers are
impressive.  They stand little chance against me,"
Chatillon said to the Hooded Ho`'od Win (created by
   "Must... know... who'd..."
   "Wait!  Be patient!  I'll return in due time!  Just
promise me you'll do nothing when I do or else it
might affect the outcome of the battle!  Then it
wouldn't have been a fair contest."
   The Hooded Ho`'od Win agreed.

   "@#$% you!" Mac Guyver, otherwise known as
Innovative Offense Boy (created by uplink), told
Chatillon.  "And what's with that smell of yours? 
Don't you ever shower?  What's wrong?  Does water not
stick to you or something?"
   "As a matter of fact," Chatillon said, getting
annoyed, "it doesn't."

   [*-- This is actually a reference to Chatillon's
original introduction in NHOP # 13.  It was cut, along
with many others, in the TEB edition.  I'm not
altering Martin's story, though, and so I suppose this
information is still canon: water does not stick to

   "So," Toony Stork, otherwise known as Irony Man
(created by Doug Moran), said, finally, "by doing
nothing I'd actually be helping her?"
   "Now you've got it!" Chatillon declared.
   "That's... ironic... isn't it?"

   "I can help you," Chatillon told Robert Ramirez,
otherwise known as Master Blaster.
   "Your Mac Daddy Vibes... they aren't as powerful as
they used to be, are they?  In fact, sometimes you
find you can't--"
   "Shhh," Robert said, worried about who might be
listening.  "How do you know that?  Who else knows?"
   "Nobody... except your wife.  And nobody need
   "Are we talking about viagra?"
   "No.  Better than viagra. You'll never have
problems again.  And all you have to do is...
   Robert sighed.  "I'll have to think about it."
   Chatillon smiled.  "Take all the time you need."

   "In my day," Old Comics Man (created by persons
unknown) said, "net.villains didn't come to warn us
they were going to attack: they just went ahead and
   "Well, this is better, isn't it?" Chatillon asked. 
"I mean you know to be elsewhere when the time comes,
right?  I mean, let's be honest, you're getting too
old for this sort of thing, aren't you?"
   "Hmmph!" was all Old Comics Man had to say... which
meant that he wasn't going to argue.

   "So, you see, it's better for Michette if you do
nothing," Chatillon told Paul Duncair, otherwise known
as Super Apathy Lad (created by Jacob Lesgold).
   "Hmm?  What?" Paul asked.  "I wasn't listening."
   "Never mind," Chatillon said with a sigh.

   "They do not wish this do not swim?" Miss
Translation (created by Jamie Rosen) asked.
   "Excuse me?"
   "She said 'You want me to do nothing?'" Tom Doodle,
otherwise known as Time-Waster Lad (created by Ray
Rich) said.
   "Oh.  Yes.  That's right."
   "But an error would be done!"
   "She said 'But that would be wrong!'"
   "I assure you no harm would come to her."
   "How can we be safe?"
   Chatillon smiled.  "I mean none of you any harm."
   "She means 'How can we be sure?'" Tom explained.
   "Oh.  Well, clearly I'm here telling you what I'm
going to do because I want everyone to know what is
going to happen so that they will be able to decide
for themselves.  There's nothing particularly
malicious in that, is there?"
   "I not to estimate."
   Chatillon looked to Time-Waster Lad for the
   "She said 'I suppose not'."
   Chatillon smiled.

   "Who?" wReamHack (created by wReam) asked.
   "Michette Duclos," Chatillon repeated.  "Lunchbox
   "Never heard of her," wReamHack admitted, "but then
I haven't read any LNH stuff for a while."  He
shrugged his shoulders.  "How about you?" he asked The
Forgetting One (created by Joel Finkle).
   "Yeah," he said.  "Her name rings a bell.  I think
she was in that JOURNEY INTO IRRELEVANCY series.  You
know: the one written by... um... darn."
   wReamHack chuckled.  "Right.  Like I said, we don't
know her."
   Chatillon nodded.  "Then you won't be concerned
when I take her, will you?"
   "I wouldn't say that," wReamHack said, "but I
probably won't do anything.  I mean, there was a time
when I'd get involved in any storyline but right now
I'm too busy."
   "Me too," Procrastination Boy (created by Jason
Kanner) said.
   "Fair enough," Chatillon said.

   Finally, it was done. Chatillon had spoken to all
the LNH members he could find, except the Ultimate
Ninja himself who he feared would be immune to his
powers of persuasion.  He would go after Michette
Duclos soon and he assumed that all those who were not
currently at LNHHQ were busy with their respective
missions and wouldn't be able to get back to LNHHQ in
time to do anything to stop him.  All was ready.

   All that remained was for Tom to actually write and
post the next issue of Net.Heroes on Parade.

(C) 2002, 2006 MARTIN PHIPPS.

   And write and post it I did.  We know return you to
your regularly scheduled TEB.  Enjoy it; next time, we
get REALLY pretentious. :-)


   "Don't you want to make love to me, Gary?"  She
punctuated her question with a playful nudge of her
foot.  But there was nothing playful in her monotone
voice: she sounded like she had just learned English
phonetically, carefully sounding the syllables out
with unthinking and practiced diction.
   "Not in the mood, Melissa."
   "I can get you in the mood."  Same flat monotone:
every word the same.
   "No.  Some other time."
   "Don't you love me anymore?"
   It was weird, hearing her say that word.  "Yeah,"
said Gary.  "Of course."
   "Then why won't you fuck me, baby?"
   Because she was cold.  Emotionally and physically. 
Because she was a corpse.  She had been murdered, then
she came back.  Doesn't change the fact that she's
dead.  But why had she come back?  How?
   Gary felt like it was something he should know,
like it was something he had forgotten.  He knew that
somehow he was responsible.  But how...?  What had he
   She started at him with her black eyes and he
stared back, watching the morning light dance on her
pale skin.
   Melissa spoke.  "Red dawn at morning, sailors take
   There was something he should remember, something
Chatillon warned... him... Chatillon...?  Suddenly it
all comes flooding back.
   Chatillon.  How had Gary forgotten him?  Must have
been one of his tricks, some of his magic; the same
magic that brought Melissa back from the dead.  The
same magic that would bring Maddie back, once
Chatillon had had his way with Michette Duclos.
   Maddie.  The great love of his life.  The question
was, would she come back as a woman, or as a cold
thing, a toy, like Melissa?

   Lily gave a dim, morphine-induced smile to Michette
as she entered the infirmary, Dr. Wharton fast behind
her.  Michette returned the smile with a nod, and then
turned her attention towards the bed next to Lily's.
   Alicia's bed.  Only Alicia was not in it.
   She was levitating above it, a faint and sickly
green glow surrounding her body.
   "I just woke up," said Alicia, "and I was floating.
 I might have been floating before that, but I don't
know."  She spun herself around in the air and
   "This is strange," said Wharton.  "By rights, you
shouldn't even be able to move your legs, let alone
   "Maybe her powers have been dormant," said
Michette.  "But the powers seem awfully familiar... I
just can't put my finger on it..."
   "I'm going to go find Dr. Stomper," said Wharton. 
"If ever there was a time to run some diagnostics, now
would be that time."
   Wharton left the room; Alicia flew, fast behind

   Tyler took one last look at the remains within the
holding cell before closing the door behind them. 
"Any leads, Maggie Bernard?"
   "No," she said.  "All we have is the tape."
   "And, nothing.  One moment, the green man is
sitting in the cell.  The next, he explodes.  No one
else entered the cell.  Like I said, nothing."
   "It might be suicide," said Tyler.
   "It might be," said Maggie.  "But somehow I doubt
it.  I just got this feeling, Tyler.  Like there's
something in the air.  Like there's something that's
just not right."

   When Tyler and Maggie brought the news of the green
man's demise, it all clicked.  "What time did he die?"
Michette whispered, careful not to disturb Lily's
   "About ten this morning," said Maggie.
   "That's the same time Alicia started floating."
   "She could have absorbed some of his power from
latent contact, or some such nonsense," offered Tyler.
 "Then, when he died, it entered the body of Alicia
   "That's possible," said Michette.  "But I still
don't like it.  Something doesn't feel right."
   Lily stirred for a moment, than was silent.
   "How is Lily Paschall?" asked Tyler.
   "Miserable, I suspect," answered Michette.  "If she
wasn't being drugged, she'd be in a lot of pain."
   "I knew her transformation cycle takes a lot out of
her, but..."
   "She was still recovering from the injuries the
green man gave her when the cycle started again.  And
that aggravated the injuries.  Hopefully, they'll heal
up before the next cycle."
   "Poor Lily Paschall.  I guess I was lucky.  All I
got was a gaping hole in my chest."  He lifted up his
sweater and gleefully put his fist through the hole
and scratched his back.
   "That's gross," said Maggie.
   "I know, isn't it?" smiled Tyler.
   "Doesn't that hurt?"
   "It did when it happened, but not so much anymore. 

   Gary was half-way to LNHHQ when he saw Alicia
floating above it, smoking a cigarette and enveloped
in green.
   "You've got powers?" Gary said.
   "Yeah.  This flying shit is great."
   "I know what you mean."
   "And it's such a relief," said Alicia.  "Especially
after being bedridden for so long.  After being a
cripple.  You know I packed on about twenty pounds
over the last few months?"
   "Really?  Because you look great."
   Alicia stubbed out her cigarette and quickly lit
another one.  "Are you sweet on me or something?"
   "Well, I mean, you fly up to me, breathe my
polluted air-space.  You're not a smoker, Gary.  No
reason you should breathe my polluted air-space unless
you were sweet on me."
   "Too bad."
   "How's that?" said Gary.
   "I'm sweet on you."
   "Well, in that case..." He smirked.
   "Too late to change your answer."
   "So, um.  You're kidding, right?"
   "No," said Alicia.  "As a matter of fact, there's
something about you that I find very attractive."
   "What's that?" he said.
   They heard a scream coming from inside the
building.  Neither of them moved.  Alicia smiled and
   "You smell of Chatillon," she said.  "And I think
that's very sexy."

   Maggie remembered Chatillon about three seconds
before he waltzed into the infirmary.  "Mimi!  Get out
of here!"
   "I don't advise that," said Chatillon.  "This can
be quite easy and painless, Maggie.  Or you can make
it very, very difficult.  For yourselves."
   "You know this scallywag, Maggie Bernard?" said
   "Yeah.  He tried to get me to betray Michette.  But
he doesn't know that real heroes don't do that."  She
stood firm.  "I'll protect Mimi with my dying breath."
   "So be it," said Chatillon.  He snapped his
fingers.  Maggie's kneecaps popped out of place, the
bone showing through the skin and the sudden
outpouring of blood.
   "Maggie!" said Tyler.  "Are you alright?"
   "I'm fine!  Don't let him get Mimi!"
   "I can take care of myself," snarled Michette,
opening her mystic lunchbox and summoning a lightning
bolt.  Chatillon snapped his fingers again.  The
energy pouring out of the lunchbox was redirected to
   She slumped against the wall, unconscious.
   Chatillon took a step towards her.  Tyler leaped
over the sleeping Lily Paschall and stood between
Michette and her would-be captor.
   "You have a hole in your chest, Tyler," said
Chatillon.  "My pupil saw to that.  Do you really want
to try his master?"
   "The green man was your...?"
   "Of course.  Who do you think blew the silly
bastard up this morning?"  He grinned.  "The same
person," he said by way of answer, "who's about to do
the same to you."
   "You can't kill me," said Tyler.  "I'm already
   Chatillon snapped his fingers, and Tyler exploded.
   "You can't do this," pleaded Maggie.
   Chatillon snapped his fingers again, and a long,
nasty cut appeared along her belly.  Blood spilled
   "I have to do this, dear child," said Chatillon as
he scooped up Michette's unconscious body, lunchbox
and all.
   It was at that moment that Speed Richardson ran
into the room.
   "Speed!" said Maggie.  "You got to... to stop
   Chatillon turned towards Shrink-Wrap Man and
smiled.  "Hello, Speed.  You're not going to stop me,
are you?"
   "Speed!  Do something!"
   "Are you, Speed?"
   He stepped aside, allowing Chatillon to pass.
   "That's a good boy.  I'll keep my end of the
bargain, as sure as you have kept yours."  Chatillon
closed the door behind him, whistling.
   "Speed, what did he mean?" said Maggie.  "Tell me
it isn't true!"
   Maggie felt herself slipping, passing out from the
pain.  This couldn't be happening, this had to be a
dream.  Tyler was dead.  Michette was abducted. 
Chatillon was victorious.
   And Speed Richardson was the traitor.


   Maggie woke up.  It was hard to breathe.  Her body
felt stiff, and yet at the same time, it felt like she
was floating.  It all comes rushing back to her. 
Chatillon!  "Mimi!"
   "She's gone."  She turned towards the sound of the
voice.  It was the Ultimate Ninja.
   "I have a team looking for her as we speak.  Get
some rest, Maggie."
   Maggie turned her head towards the empty bed next
to her.  "Where's Lily?"

   The Ninja gave his orders.  "Master Blaster. 
Golden Man.  I want the two of you to find
Groundswell.  She's usually capable of handling
herself, but I don't cherish the thought of her
wandering about Net.ropolis in her current condition. 
Find her.  Bring her back to LNHQ.  Post a guard.  And
then get back out on the streets and look for Lunchbox
Lass.  Whoever this joker is, he can't hide from us. 
We're the LNH, damn it.  It's time we show him we take
care of our own."
   Master Blaster and Golden Man nodded and left.
   "Multi-Tasking Man?" said the Ninja into his
communication card. "Have you gotten ahold of everyone
   "Everyone's answered their cards, except Niceguy
and Ms. Paprika."
   "Let's hope nothing's happened to them.  Keep
trying to raise them."
   "Will do.  Multi-Tasking Man out."

   Gary stared at his bleeping card with a mounting
sense of unease.  "I wonder what's going on out
   "Don't," said Alicia.  Another cigarette was lifted
from her pack.  Only one left inside.  Damn.  She
brought the cigarette to her lips and blinked. There
was a flash of green and the cigarette was lit.
   "It just... it tears me up inside not knowing
what's going on.  I mean, Michette could be hurt
   "He said he wouldn't hurt her."
   "I know."
   "But you'd rather be all bent out of shape about
   "I dunno," said Gary, fumbling for words.  "It just
doesn't feel right, having done that, having betrayed
her.  And, well, I wouldn't have done it if he had
told me he was going to hurt her.  That's the only
reason I agreed, is that she'll be okay."
   "What kind of question is that?"
   "Since you're getting all defensive," Alicia
punctuated her point with a exhalation of smoke like
steam from her lips, "it's safe to assume it's the
right one to ask.  Seriously, Gary.  If Chatillon told
you he was going to kill the little bitch and offered
you the same deal..."
   "I'd say no."
   "Would you?  I wouldn't."
   "I don't believe that."
   "Why not?"
   "You're a good person."
   Alicia laughed.  "There are no absolutes, Gary. 
Excepting Vodka, of course."
   "I don't believe that you would go through with it
if you though anything was going to happen to her,"
Gary reiterated.  "I mean, you were the one that saved
her from the green man."
   "I wanted to be a hero.  It's the same reason why
I'm standing here with you.  I want to do good,
contribute, save the day.  And by doing this, it gives
me the power to do that."
   "Then you're not a hero," said Gary.  "Neither of
us are," he added.
   "Look, Gary: I learned something a long time ago,
in Hollywood.  When it's a matter of you or the other
guy, shit on the other guy.  The good guys finish
last.  I want to be one of the good guys.  But I will
not finish last."
   She stubbed out her cigarette against her force
bubble and continued.  "And if the choice is between
sitting on that god-damn bed for months or years, or
doing something with my life, something worthwhile and
good, well, damn it, that's not a choice at all.  Not
a choice at all.  I'd rather be a traitor than a
   Gary shrugged.  Alicia lit her final cigarette.
   "The difference between me and you, Gary, is that
I'm honest."

   The Ninja stared at Speed.  "I never expected this
from you, Richardson.  And the funny thing is, I'm
very good at reading people.  It's part of my job. 
After all these years, I think I can sniff out trouble
when it comes to my door.
   "But I never expected it from you.  You're not my
favourite person in the world.  But that didn't
matter, because when it came time to do what we do,
you did it.  But now, there's this."
   "He's not going to hurt her," said Speed.  "He's
going to help her.  He promised he wouldn't hurt her."
   "If that was really true," said the Ninja, "why
didn't he just pop up and ask her, if it's for her
best interest?"
   "I don't know."
   The Ninja sighed.  "This is the last time I'm going
to ask.  Do you know where he took her?"
   "Would I tell you if I did?"
   "I don't know," said the Ninja.  "I don't know a
damn thing about you anymore."

   Lily's vision was blurring from the infirmary
drugs.  Her legs were numb.  All she had to go on was
   The only way she knew for sure that she was still
walking, still moving, still descending into that
crumbling Net.ropolis night was the sound of her own
footsteps, crashing like cymbals in her ears, each
step further into the empty blackness marked by a
hammer's thud.
   Somewhere in this city, in this valley of the dead,
her dearest friend was hidden away, in the clutches of
a madman.  And Lily Paschall, full of drugs and
utterly powerless, offered to the city's gods her
deafening footsteps instead of a harp's song, on the
off-chance that they would let her play Orpheus.

   Sensation seeped into her fingertips, at first
unnoticed, like a cube of ice melting into a glass of
water.  Cold, deadened numbness gave way to colder,
deader feeling.
   As the delicate whispers of morphine became
inaudible, she realized how ill-suited her hospital
gown was for a night like tonight.  She regained
feeling in her jaw, and became aware of the subtle
chattering of her teeth: how long has she been
shivering like this?
   But that was the least of her worries.  She began
to ache again, her bruised flesh insisting on their
reality.  The pleasant buzz of the painkillers and
sedatives was fading fast.  Rather than being more
aware as she came down from the drugs, she found
herself more tired and exhausted.
   It was getting harder to... focus, Lily...
   And now she had pain to deal with as well.  Not an
overwhelming burst of agony, but rather the slow,
sapping, constant tortures of exhaustion, headaches,
and sore, uncooperative muscles.  (The tendons in her
legs acted like viola strings, pain springing up in
sudden sprightly notes.)  It was not a pain designed
to kill its victim, but rather to weaken her
will-power, pain as an advocate of that most seductive
idea: everything's going wrong, Lily, it's just going
to get worse, Lily, so why not give up?
   Michette.  That was the answer.  "I have to try."
   She said it out loud in hopes of drowning out the
aches of her bones and those gnawing questions firing
from the back of her mind: what if she failed? what if
she died? how did she hope to find Michette, anyway,
when she didn't know where to look in the first place?
   Just wandering around Net.ropolis was not going to
solve anything.  If she didn't do this intelligently,
it would be better not to do it at all.  She needed
some clue.
   Part of her said, let's go back to LNHHQ and look
for something that might have been missed.  But she
knew the moment she stepped foot there, that the Ninja
would have her locked up and under guard, for her own
   For your own safety, Lily!
   But what about Michette?  What about her safety?
   She stopped walking, and stared up at the
Net.ropolis skyline, imploring the Net.ropolis gods
once more.  "Where is Chatillon?"
   Surprisingly, there was an answer, a voice that
started in her brain and slowly pulsed outward.  "Big
red warehouse on Cutter Street."
   She whirled around.  No one there.  "Hello?" she
called out.
   "I think that's her over there.  Lily!"
   Lily whirled back to see Master Blaster, about two
long city blocks ahead of her, looking at her through
his night vision goggles.  Golden Man was floating up
in the air besides him.  Shit!
   She ran as fast as she could.  Towards Cutter
   "Lily!  Wait up!"

   Cutter Street.  The red warehouse.  Lily was still
running for all she was worth, her heart thumping and
her lungs aching.  Master Blaster and Golden Man were
not far behind.
   "Look, babe," said Master Blaster.  "You're in no
condition to be running around!"
   "I know you're concerned about Lunchbox Lass,"
added Golden Man.  "We all are.  But you can't run
around by yourself willy-nilly trying to..."
   Master Blaster raised an eyebrow.  "Willy-nilly?"
   "Willy-nilly?  What the hell kind of word is
   "You watch your language, young man," said Golden
Man.  "At least willy-nilly is better than a cuss."
   "A cuss?"
   "You know very well what a cuss is," said Golden
   "Oh shit," said Master Blaster.
   "Yes, that qualifies, but I'd rather you didn't use
them.  You're supposed to be a hero, and..."
   "She's getting away!" said Master Blaster.
   Lily ran into the warehouse and thanked the
Net.ropolis gods she lived in a fictional universe,
and a silly one, at that.
   Golden Man exhaled.  "Criminy."

   The red warehouse was full of red robes.  Lily
heard the voice again.  "Put on one of the robes."
   She was not as alone as she thought.  She had some
help.  If only she knew where the help was coming
from... but it didn't matter.  She didn't have the
luxury of questioning it.
   "Lily!"  Master Blaster stood in the doorway,
pointing his gun towards her.  Lily cocked her head to
see that Golden Man was at the other side of the
   "What are you going to do, shoot me?"
   "Not if you come along quietly."
   "And if I don't?"
   "Then I'm..."
   "You're not going to shoot her, are you?" said
Golden Man.
   "Well, no, but..."
   "You shouldn't threaten people like that, young
man.  You see, as a hero, one..."
   Lily pulled the robe over her head.  The fabric was
warm and pulsing, like it was alive.  It pressed up
against her skin like spandex, irritating her wounds
and causing her bones to shake and ache.
   Now her head was pounding, stronger and louder than
before.  Her entire body quaked in rhythm.  Her
stomach rumbled.  Her feet swelled.
   And then the ground opened up and swallowed her
   "It's an earthquake," said Golden Man.
   Master Blaster ducked for cover.  "You sound like
my wife."


   "Maggie!" said Speed as the girl rolled a
wheel-chair towards his holding cell.  "You shouldn't
be here.  You should be upstairs, recovering."
   "You've disappointed me, Speed."
   He couldn't look her in the eye.  He stared down at
her pink toes.  They moved about idly, waiting for him
to answer.  He was silent.
   The toes curled and clenched.  "I didn't think
you'd be the one.  He made me an offer, too.  I told
him to fuck off."
   Speed shrugged.
   "What was your price?"
   "I did it to help her, Maggie.  She needs help."
   "What was your price?" she demanded.  He had never
seen her so flushed with anger before.
   "... her."
   "Michette.  When he's done, she'll... she'll love
me.  She'll love me as much as I love her."
   "You hardly know her."
   "I do love her," said Speed.
   "You're not in love.  You're obsessed."
   "My feelings for her are pure!"
   "That's the worst kind of obsession.  If the
feeling is not returned, it's not love, Speed.  It's a
crush at best."
   Unable to even look at Maggie's toes, he opted to
gaze at his own kneecaps.  The shiny metal of the
containment suit reflected his plastic-covered face.
   "A crush can be strong," Maggie was saying, "but
it's still a crush.  You want Mimi.  You desire her. 
Whether it's sexual or, pure (whatever the hell that
means), it doesn't change the fact that it's still a
desire and a desire is selfish, inherently selfish. 
It's something that you want, like a child who wants
to play with someone else's blocks."
   "It sounds like you're quoting."
   "They're mostly Tyler's words," Maggie said, her
voice flat and muted.
   "If I had stood up to Chatillon," said Speed, "I
could have ended up dead like Tyler."
   "What's your point?"
   "What, you want me dead?" said Speed.
   "No," said Maggie, fresh tears rolling down her
plump cheeks.  "No, Speed.  I wanted you to be a hero.
 To do the right thing.  Because I thought that's why
we're all here.
   "I wanted you to be a knight in shining armour, you
know?  And... I just wanted to be your lady fair."
   "And I could have had that," said Maggie. 
"Chatillon would have given me that.  My heart's
desire.  But it's like I said.  A desire is inherently
selfish.  And that's the opposite of a hero, isn't
   Speed looked into Maggie's eyes.  "Unlock my cell,
will you?  It's time I started acting like a hero."

   Lily opened her eyes.  A dim light slowly faded
into view, an electric light used to trap moths.  She
had seen it before, attached to one of the man
ramshackle wooden trailers that surrounded that old,
beat-up tent, the tent with the tear in it, the tent
that pretended to follow in the glorious footsteps of
a grand tradition that never was.
   Tex Waggner's side-show.
   The last time she was her, she ended up with a
shotgun blast in the belly.  If it hadn't been for her
powers, coupled with the LNH's Kirby Tech, she
wouldn't have made it.
   "Go into the tent," said the voice in her head. 
"It's our jumping-on point, so to speak.  But we'll
need their permission to use it."
   "Their permission?"
   Her mysterious guide was once again silent, which
unnerved Lily.  She entered the darkened tent.
   Suddenly, there was a burst of green and blinding
light.  Lily put her arms up to protect her eyes.  The
light dimmed a bit, but it was still as obnoxious as
hell.  Squinting, she discovered the light came from
two sources.
   One was Tex Waggner.  The other was the green man. 
Both of which were, the last time Lily checked, quite
   "You!" hissed the green man, the light spiking up
with his anger.  "You're the bitch with the rocks."
   "No rocks now, though," mused Waggner.  "No rocks,
no chance."
   "No hope," said the green man.
   "No hope.  Now you know how we feel.  No hope."
   "Are you ghosts?" said Lily.
   "There are ghosts," said the green man, "and there
are the damned."
   "And in between," said Tex, "there are those who
are afforded neither luxury."
   "The green."
   "The hated," said Tex.
   "Hate breeds violence," said the green man.
   "Love breeds pain," said Tex.  "Evelyn..."
   "The damned have the company of the damned," said
the green man.  "But those claimed by the green are
part of it forever."
   "And until the last day, we shall be part of it."
   "And past the last day," said the green man.
   "And past the last day," said Tex.
   "Do we hate her?" said the green man, suddenly
acknowledging Lily.
   "Do we?  Yes, I think we do."
   "Almost as much as Chatillon.  We hate her."
   "Hate breeds violence," said Tex.
   "Love breeds pain."
   They started to float towards her.  "Tell me about
   "He made us green," said the green man.
   "The green..."
   "So, we have no reason to fight one another," said
Lily.  "All three of us hate Chatillon."
   "Our hatred is greater," said Tex.
   "Our violence is greater," said the green man.
   "My love is greater," said Lily.  "And love breeds
   Tex and the green man faded away, replaced by a
swirling green circle, a portal.
   "Love breeds pain," said Tex.
   "Hurt him," said the green man.  "Hurt Chatillon
for your Michette."
   "I will," said Lily.  She entered the portal, and
she was gone.



Tom Russell
Limited autographed dvds now on sale, directly from the filmmaker

"In the beginning, Milos seems to have no clue how to relate
 to anyone.  He is quizzical, leaving the viewer questioning
 and wondering..." 
  -- Ryan M. Niemiec, co-author of MOVIES AND MENTAL ILLNESS


"If a comic book, book, movie or novel is not somebody's fantasy 
then who wrote it and to whom does it appeal to?  In order for a 
shared universe to have a widespread appeal, it has to appeal on 
a primal level.  If somebody says superhero comics are just 'wish 
fulfillment' then he needs to explain what is entertainment that 
doesn't satisfy our wishes and what satisfaction at all you can get 
from it." -- Dr. Martin Phipps

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