[LNH/ACRA] LNH Comics Presents #63: Infinite Leadership Cry.sig Ep.28

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 28 13:12:13 PDT 2007

Posting this for Saxon...

Acraphobe content warning: this story includes children making
references to movie _ET: The Extraterrestrial_.

LNH Comics Presents #63
Infinite Leadership Cry.sig: Episode 28

"Footnote Girl"
by Saxon Brenton

28th April 2007

     "Footnote Girl," announced Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad.
     Footnote Girl looked up from where she'd been working on her
homework (a short essay on the industrial uses of slood) and said,
"You have got to be kidding."
     Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad sighed. He was coming to dislike this
job. For almost a month the fill-in leaders of the Legion of Net.Heroes
had been disappearing at midnight. Well, except for Suddenly-Exploding
Boy and Drabble Girl, but that had simply been because they had vanished
a lot sooner. In any case, the next morning it fell to Pulls-Paper-Out-
Of-Hats Lad to draw the name of that day's leader out of his hat. The
whole situation was increasingly looking like a bad running gag. And
people were beginning to blame him for it.
     Across the room Librarian Lady frowned. She was very good at
frowning. "We're including children in this?"
     "We're including *everybody*," said List Lad. "The minors, the
support staff, the kiwis, the oozelfinches..."
     "Considering the odds involved, I'm surprised that we haven't had
one of the kiwis as leader yet," said Fourth Wall Lass to Harris.
     "Kiwi," agreed Harris.
     "A more important point is that I'm not sure I should allow
Footnote Girl to be LNH leader," said Librarian Lady.
     Footnote Girl herself then frowned at her elder sister. "You're
going to get someone else to take over my turn?"
     "I'll take it over myself," said Librarian Lady simply. "I don't
particularly want you being disappeared. It's too dangerous."
     "It's hardly any more dangerous than anything else that the Legion
has to face," said Footnote Girl pointedly.
     "There's a difference between a high risk and a guaranteed outcome,"
countered Librarian Lady.
     "Actually, I don't think it's quite that dangerous," said Fourth
Wall Lass. The two arguing females looked at her. Fourth Wall Lass
shrugged. "This storyline isn't the _Flame Wars 4_, where the Writers
tried to kill off characters and only managed to remove some fifth
stringers. So far the Infinite Leadership Crisis has seen off over two
dozen characters - a lot of them big names and including four title
characters with active series..."
     "Four?" asked Kid Enthusiastic as he tried to account for the
appropriate members on his fingers.
     List Lad looked at his list and said, "Characters starring in an
at least theoretically active LNH series - no matter how slowly or
irregularly they are published - who have also disappeared as a result
of holding a term as LNH leader include both Writers Block Woman and
Mouse, Master Blaster, and Limp-Asparagus Lad."
     "Alas, Lite, my faithful sidekick," lamented Easily-Discovered Man.
"Would that I had given you equal title billing, then you too would have
been eligible for that august group."
     "If you're going to start blubbering like Steak-And-Potatoes Man
did over Frat Boy, I'm leaving," said Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-
Better Lad.
     Fourth Wall Lass ignored AYCDICDBLad§s barbs. "Basically, I don't
think any of this is going to be made to stick in the long run. But if
you're worried about it Librarian Lady, *I'll* take Footnote Girl's place."
     Deductive Logic Man shook his head. "While the seriousness of the
threat may be under dispute Fourth Wall Lass, the fact remains that all
three of you have information based powers. If we're to deal with this
mystery at all in the long run, we need to keep our researchers. We've
already lost both Doctor Stomper and Occultism Kid. I'm not sure that
it's prudent to risk any more."
     "Can we get on with this?" demanded Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-
Better Lad. "Are you going to be leader or not?"
     "Fine," snapped Footnote Girl. "My powers are reactive rather than
active in nature. Deductive Logic Man, have you thought of any more
questions or leading statements to make in my presence that would get a
useful footnote?"
     "Well, no..."
     "Then there's not much more I can do for the missing leaders by
information gathering, so I'll take the leadership job."
     Librarian Lady sighed. "Very well."
     Footnote Girl looked at her. "Don't worry. Either we'll sort this
out by this evening, or eventually we'll all end up in the same place
for the big fight scene."


     Shortly after the appointment of Footnote Girl as LNH leader:
     "Cynical Lass. May I have a word with you?" said Librarian Lady.
     "Sure," said Cynical Lass. "Let me guess, you'd like me to babysit
the sprog during her big day."
     Librarian Lady raised an eyebrow. "Yes. What gave the game away?"
     "I'm Cynical Lass," said Cynical Lass. "I can intuit these things.
There's just one thing I want to know. Why me?"
     "You're English too, dear," said Librarian Lady simply. "You're
less likely to be confused into submission by her than any of the
     Cynical Lass carefully considered this. There weren't any holes
in the logic that she could see. And while it might be nice to, for
instance, watch Obnoxious Am.rec.a Boy have the expurgated part of Rowan
Atkinson's 'Welcome To Hell' skit forcibly explained to him, they were
net.heroes and were supposed to be above things like that. She nodded.
"Okay. I'll do it."
     "I'd like to offer my help as well," said WikiBoy.
     "Really? Why?"
     WikiBoy looked somewhat abashed. "Well... It's all well and good
for children to be brave enough to try and fill an adult's job - but they
don't really have the life experience to deal with really complicated
problems. So I thought, if something starts to go badly wrong - even if
we hope it doesn't," he added hastily for Librarian Lady's benefit,
"then Cynical Lass can Edit my powers so that we can keep things from
getting completely out of control."
     "That's very generous of you," said Librarian Lady. "Thank you."
     The three of them went back into the conference room to tell
Footnote Girl of the fait accompli that her sister had arranged for her.
They found Footnote Girl talking with W.I.L.B.U.R., the Legion's Wildly
Improbable LISP Based Urbane Robot.
     "I will bring any appropriate paperwork around mid-afternoon,"
W.I.L.B.U.R. said with a slight nod of his mechanical head.
     "Okay, thanks," Footnote Girl said.
     "What was that about?" asked Cynical Lass.
     "If Ultimate Ninja really has sabotaged the Legion's paperwork, then
frankly I don't want to bother with it," said Footnote Girl. "Especially
not when I have some homework assignments that I need to finish off today
before I go on indefinite vacation. So I delegated all the complicated
working out to W.I.L.B.U.R. and asked him only to send to me anything
which *has* to be signed off by the LNH leader. So, what's up? "
     "Well, by pretty amazing coincidence, your sister asked us to help
you with your homework while she was working on the missing leader
problem," WikiBoy said quickly, stretching the truth to close to
breaking point. "Isn't that right, Cynical Lass?"
     "What...? Oh, yes. Absolutely."
     "Really," said Footnote Girl. Her face was a study in neutrality,
although Librarian Lady didn't like the way she was absently rolling
the handle of her hockey stick over and over in her hands as it rested
across her shoulder. Then she shrugged. "Okay."
     "I can help too!" said Kid Enthusiastic.
     "You're even younger than I am," said Footmpte Girl, who was
somewhat disturbed by the way the boy wasn't acting in a 'Ew! Girls!
Cooties!' way. "Are you sure you§ll know what to do?"
     "Of course I will! I've already graduated high school. It§ll be easy!"
     Footnote Girl stared at him, and any passing telepaths would have
seen 'Gary-Stu character!§ written in mile high letters in her thoughts.
     "I'm sure that would be a great help, James," Librarian Lady said.
She turned back to Footnote Girl. "Are you sure you'll be all right?"
     Footnote Girl looked serious for a second or so, then nodded. "I
think so."
     "All right then." She kissed Footnote Girl on the cheek and said,
"If you need anything, call me."
     "So," said Footnote Girl after Librarian Lady had left. "Babysitting
detail, huh?" Even Cynical Lass didn't like the bright, wide, and
obviously contrived to be without malice smile that she flashed them.
"Well, let's get my homework and head for Ultimate Ninja's office. "
     They did so. Along the way WikiBoy asked, "So, what made you decide
to asked W.I.L.B.U.R. for help?"
     "Are you kidding? I can barely hope to get my homework finished
without help, but I didn't want to look like a complete spaz and not
even try to keep the Legion§s paperwork under control."
     "Some fill-in leaders didn't try," pointed out Cynical Lass.
     "Some people deal with stress on different ways, or are easily
distracted by shiny things," countered Footnote Girl. "And then there's
Self-Righteous Preacher," she added darkly.
     The others frowned as well. Self-Righteous Preacher's antics still
left a bad taste in many Legionnaire's mouths. "I still can't believe
there are people who really think that sort of behaviour is what God
wants from them," said WikiBoy.
     "But it is what God wants," disagreed Cynical Lass.
     "God may tell people that they have to go live their lives in peace,
love and mung beans, but what He *wants* is violent fanatics whose first
reaction is to fight," she explained. "It's a test, you see. The whole
point is to weed out the people who will kill without compunction on the
spur of the moment so that they can be drafted into His army for the big
fight scene against the forces of Hell at Armageddon. That's why the
problems in the Middle East are still festering away. It would be easy
for God to stop them, since they all worship the same deity, and all
He'd have to do is send down the Archangel Gabrielle or somebody to
announce a ceasefire or else, but that would be defeating the whole
point of the exercise."
     WikiBoy stared at her in horror, while Kid Enthusiastic's attention
had already wandered off to a new hackemon video game that he was
playing. Footnote Girl, however, looked at Cynical Lass curiously. "Why
are you wasting so much good material when Self-Righteous Preacher isn't
even here for you to wind him up with it? Are you planning on using it
on MegaChurch Man instead?" she asked, referring to the imperfect
duplicate of SRP.
     Cynical Lass shook her head as they entered the erstwhile office
of Ultimate Ninja and prepared to set up shop. "MegaChurch Man is
surprisingly good at knowing when you're taking the pi... taking the
mickey out of him."
     "You were going to say 'taking the piss out of him'," Footnote Girl
     "Good children shouldn't know words like that," said WikiBoy.
     "You don't know a lot about children, do you?" asked Kid Enthusiastic.
     "The movie _E.T._ was released over twenty years ago," added
Footnote Girl. "We know how to say 'penis' and everything."
     "Penis!" shouted Kid Enthusiastic, bouncing up and down. "Penis!
Penis! PENIS!"
     WikiBoy took a step backwards, taken aback by this and unsure what
to do about it. Cynical Lass managed to maintain a cool demeanour,
snubbed out her cigarette and said, "WikiBoy, you have the power of
In Loco Parentis. Children automatically recognise you as an authority
figure and obey whatever reasonable orders you give them."
     "Okay then..." began Kid Enthusiastic.
     "And it's non-revertable by anyone under the age of 18," added
Cynical Lass.
     "Okay, that's enough of that," WikiBoy ordered, and Kid Enthusiastic
immediately stopped demonstrating the generic superpower that all
children share to be unruly. "Well done," WikiBoy told Cynical Lass.
     "I'd never have managed without your offer to help," she acknowledged.


     "I hope I'm doing the right thing," said Librarian Lady as she
pulled down some more books off the shelves to begin today's search
for answers.
     "I'm reasonably confident that things will work out," said Fourth
Wall Lass.
     Librarian Lady raised an eyebrow. "Reasonably confident," she
     Fourth Wall Lass shrugged. "The Writers are broadly predictable as
long as you stick to the mainstream Looniverse. And I've already hedged
my bets," she admitted. "I had a talk with Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
and Retcon Lad about the problem, and Retcon Lad decided that things
would ultimately resolve themselves for the best."
     "So what's going to happen?"
     "No idea. He only used his power lightly. Enough to ensure that they
would fix theselves, but not dictating how. Or when, for that matter.
It's getting to be a bit of a long wait, to be honest."
     "So how many days ago was this?"
     "Days? This was *weeks* ago. We had that discussion way back when
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad was made leader. At first I wasn't
too worried, because the leaders who were disappearing were all senior
staff and big name characters. All first stringers. And then Limp-
Asparagus Lad was called up. Now, okay, he isn't a first string
character, but he's the foremost of the second stringers. And then
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad was appointed leader, at which
point I think to myself, 'Oh my God, they're going to go through the
whole Legion'. Can you imagine how lame the joke would have gotten after
we'd gone through literally everybody - Curly, Captain Napalm & Nomex
Man, and a hundred zillion kiwis - and then started calling back retired
members like X-Men Dangler Lass?"
     "Some of us would say that the joke is already gotten lame,"
observed Librarian Lady dryly.
     "*We* do, obviously, but that's because we're on the butt end of
the joke. The Writers think differently, and if we're going to exploit
the inevitable flaws in their thinking then we have to grok how things
look from their point of view." She shrugged. "I give them maybe a month
before they get bored with it. That's a nice round number. Then Retcon
Lad's intentions will kick in, things will build to a dramatic climax,
and then it'll all be over and done with."
     "I wish I had your confidence," said Librarian Lady.


     Back at Ultimate Ninja§s office, all was not going well. The home-
work was all done, and Footnote Girl had carefully scribed a  Please
excuse Petina from school on account of her being kidnapped by a
mysterious force with a grudge against net.heroes§ note for Librarian
Lady to sign later.
     Now Footnote Girl and Kid Enthusiastic were working hard to convince
WikiBoy that the way that Master Blaster treated him was shameful, and
that the only sensible way to respond was the take punitive action
against Master Blaster§s MacDaddy vibes. They were excited about the
idea of giving WikiBoy an Edit so that the next time that Master Blaster
abused his authority WikiBoy would go berserk with a lightsaber and use
his uber kewl Jedi powers to slice off Master Blaster§s male bits.
     Cynical Lass watched this. To her it said a lot about how tempting
the idea must be, because despite WikiBoy having the ability to shut
the whole discussion down with his powers of In Loco Parentis, the two
children had been able to get a full six minutes worth of fast-talking
in. She wondered if he§d weaken enough to take them up on their offer.
     Then the door to the office burst open. "Footnote Girl," said Skunk
Girl. "We§ve got an plague of cute little bunny rabbits, and they§re
disrupting electronic communications!"
     .oO( Saved by the emergency, ) thought Cynical Lass.


     "Got you!" yelled Footnote Girl, swinging the net and scooping up
the bunny. Let§s see, that was... one hundred and twenty seven down,
sixty five gazillion to go.
     There was an explosion just down the street. "Liefeld's Porpoise!"
Footnote Girl yelled. "They're etherbunnies! You can only catch them
with ethernets! Don't bother using guns!"
     "Sorry," called out Liefeld's Porpoise.
     She shook her head. She didn't know why she bothered. He'd
inevitably forget again soon.
     "Kawaii!" yelled Kid Enthusiastic and scooped up another etherbunny.
There was a discharge of Kirbykrackle as the bunny discorporated, the
semi-plausible-handwave-babble energies of its etheric form dispersing.
"Kawaii! Kawaii! Kawaii!" he called as he jumped about, catching the
etherbunnies with a speed that few of the other Legionnaires could match.
     "You§re very good at this," Footnote Girl said.
     He grinned. "Gotta catch  em all!" Then he spotted another one.
     Footnote Girl§s communicator.thingee bleeped. It was Multi-Tasking
Man, on a very poor quality connection. He said, "I§ve pinpointed where
they§re coming from. The static that they cause is heaviest in the region
of the physics lab of Calisota State University campus. That will be
where they§re spreading out from."
     Armed with that information Footnote Girl gathered up whatever
LNHers were closest and headed for Calisota U. True to Multi-Tasking
Man§s warnings there were far more etherbunnies here, and the density
only kept increasing as they approached the physics department. What had
been one or two bunnies per square metre rose to a continuous carpet
flowing from the physics building ? and it proved near impossible to
penetrate into the building itself. Not because the etherbunnies were
blocking the way: they were intangible and presented no physical
impediment. Rather, their numbers were so thick as they poinged around
in the building that anybody who tried to make their way through the
flood was unable to see where they were going. The net.heroes couldn?t
navigate to where they wanted to go and kept tripping over furniture
upturned when the university staff and students had evacuated. They
retreated outside and simply swiped at the etherbunnies with their
ethernets while they tried to formulate a new plan of attack.
     "We wouldn?t even be able to see what?s causing the problem, even
if we tripped over it," said WikiBoy.
     "If only we had someone like Daredevil, who could navigate by
something other than sight," said Token Girl.
     "No. His sonar sense would be disrupted by the noise of all the
etherbunnies," disagreed Joyce Carol Oates Lass.
     "WikiBoy," said Kid Enthusiastic, suddenly inspired. "You can
navigate by clairvoyance and have the power to confer it on others too.
Now let?s get in there and see what?s causing this!"
     They made their way into the building, working against the flood of
etherbunnies and communicating by hand signals because of the deafening
noise of whatever sound it is that rabbits actually make. Considering
where they were it was perhaps predictable that there was a bizarre
machine acting as a generator (or perhaps a gateway) for the bunnies:
yet another case of someone with more mechanical aptitude than common
sense. Footnote Girl signalled to Liefeld?s Porpoise: *here* was
something that he could shoot. Liefle?d Porpoise happily drew out a
BigGun and destroyed the machine. *That* was how a gun bunny should be
dealing with etherbunnies.
     Which only left millions of etherbunnies still running loose needing
to be caught.


     "You know, I never once got the opportunity to hit something," said
Footnote Girl, wistfully tapping her hockey stick.
     "You were making some pretty good swipes at the bunnies with your
net," said Kid Enthusiastic.
     "It just isn?t the same. Oh, hello puss kat," she said as a white
cat rubbed up against her leg. "Are you lost then? Tch tch."
     Skunk Girl walked over. "It turns out that the machine was created
by a student who started ranting about Showing Them All yesterday
morning," she reported. "It looks like he caught a bad case of Mad
Science, then had a nightmare and wanted to make it real. There were
copies of _New Journal Of Malology_ in his dorm room."
     "Okay then," said Footnote Girl. "Continue to clean up here. I?d
better get back to Legion headquarters and see if W.I.L.B.U.R. has any
more paperwork that needs signing. Come on guys," she said to the
babysitters and Kid Enthusiastic.
     Nobody paid any attention to the way the fluffy white cat followed
them. Not yet, anyway.


     A bit later, however:
     "Librarian Lady?" said Cynical Lass, knocking on the door.
     Librarian Lady looked up from a report by Lynk. After Squidman
had been called in to help with detective work on the missing leaders
problem, Squidman had in turn asked his fellow Dvandom Force member to
try and trace the missing net.heroes through their dreams. What was
disturbing was Lynk?s report that their dreamscapes had all gone missing
as well. "What is it?" asked Librarian Lady, putting down the report and
giving her full attention to Cynical Lass.
     "We have a problem with a cat that we think you might want to know
     "A cat?"
     "Mmm-hmm," nodded Cynical lass. "He followed us home after the
etherbunny incident at the university, but then he went straight to the
leaders office. Almost as though he wasn?t following us but knew where
he wanted to go."
     "Well, me being the nasty, cynical minded individual that I am, I
remembered the last time we had a run in with a villainous white cat. Do
you recall Tiddles from the _Birth Of A villain_ cascade?"
     "We?ve got a mind controlling telepathic cat running around loose
in the Legion headquarters?"
     "Oh, he?s not running around loose. He?s been sitting in Footnote
Girl?s lap all afternoon. We think he wants to infiltrate and take
control of the Legion."
     Librarian Lady stood up. "My sister is under the domination of an
evil, mind controlling cat!?" she demanded.
     "Well, yes. But WikiBoy and myself think this is the perfect
opportunity to lay a trap. Still, we thought we?d better talk with you
about it first..."


     And even later still:
     "How are things going then?" asked Librarian Lady. She, Cynical
Lass and WikiBoy were standing outside Ultimate Ninja?s office. It was
only a few minutes to midnight.
     WikiBoy said, "I?ve been using the cosmic class telepathic powers
that I?ve been Editted into possessing to keep Tiddles from realising
that the Legion leaders have been vanishing at midnight." He grinned
viciously. "I even put the idea into his head to have Footnote Girl
declare him co-leader, just to make sure."
     Librarian Lady nodded grimly. "Well, I think that it might be time
to disabuse him of his plans and rub salt into his wounds, don?t you?"
     "Ohhh yes," said WikiBoy.
     The three of them walked into the office. "Hello dear," Librarian
Lady, acting normally. "Well, it?s almost midnight, so your turn at LNH
leader is almost over. I hope all that excitement with the etherbunnies
didn?t keep you from finishing your homework."
     "No, it?s all finished," said Footnote Girl. "Well, I guess it?s
off to bed for me."
     "Bed?" said Cynical Lass, contriving to look confused. "You?re not
going to get to go to bed."
     "Maybe she?s forgotten that all of the LNH leaders have been
vanishing each day at midnight," said WikiBoy, and he just couldn?t
contain himself any longer. Cynical Lass joined him in smirking viciously
at the cat, while Librarian Lady looked on with grim schadenfreude.
     "Fsssst!" exclaimed Tiddles, suddenly arching his back and fluffing
out in a fight-or-flight reflex as he was allowed to telepathically see
for the first time how he?d been tricked. He leapt from Footnote Girl's
lap and raced for the exit.  =( No! You can't do this to me! )     He didn't even make it as far as the door before midnight struck.
     And that was how Tiddles, the mind controlling telepathic cat,
became the only net.villain to fall victim to the Infinite Leadership

Character credits:
   Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-Better Lad created by Slash Maraud
(Matthew Peterson), and not reserved.
   Cynical Lass and Easily-Discovered Man created by Rob Rogers, and
used with permission.
   Deductive Logic Man created by wReam (Ray Bingham), and not reserved.
   Footnote Girl, Fourth Wall Lass, Librarian Lady and Tiddles created
by Saxon Brenton.
   Harris the Kiwi created by Saxon Brenton, owned by Descrii (Ian
Porell), and not reserved.
   Liefeld's Porpoise created by Aaron Veenstra, and not reserved.
   Kid Enthusiastic created by Andrew Perron, and while not reserved the
character is do-not-change-without-permission.
   List Lad created by Scavenger (Todd Kogutt), and not reserved.
   Joyce Carol Oates Lass, MegaChurch Man and WikiBoy created by Tom
Russell, used with permission.
   Multi-Tasking Man and W.I.L.B.U.R. created by Jeff Coleburn, and not
   Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad created by Arthur Spitzer, and not reserved.
   Skunk Girl created by Arsenal (Ted Brock), and used without permission.
   Token Girl created by Lady Johanna Constantine (Tara O`Shea), and not
   X-Men Dangler Lass created by Laura Hayes Burchard, and not reserved.

Saxon Brenton     University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
The Librarian "liked people who loved and respected books. And the best
way to do that, in the Librarian's opinion, was to leave them on the
shelves where Nature intended them to be." Terry Pratchett, _Men At Arms_

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