LNH: 58.5 #13

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Sun Dec 2 19:22:33 PST 2007

April 148th.  Terry and Clara cautiously walked through the
crater from Cannon Fodder's explosion.

"This is a bit disturbing", she said.

"I'll say."

"I mean... the Godd I knew would never be capable of this kind
of destruction."

"Neither would the Fodder *I* knew.  Let's hope this is him
being undercover, or him exploiting the properties of this
universe, rather than a true new Fodder."

"tek tek tek tek tek", made a rock in the middle of the crater.

"There's something here", said Clara.

"Are you sure you're not related to Sister State-the-Obvious?"

"Who?", she asked, while lifting the rock.

Underneath it, she found what looked like a brick, painted
decoratively by a stoned hippie.  It was producing an irregular
sound, like typing: "tek tek tek tek tek tek tek"

"I've seen one of these before", said Terry.  "It's Workolips
technology, used by the Crime Empire.  It's a Secretary Box."

"And what's that noise?"

"It's semi-sentient.  It's talking to us.  You can understand it
with some training, which neither of us has; or if you're
holding it.  But don't touch it, can be dan--"

Clara picked it up.  Terry sighed.

"All right then.  What is it saying?"

"It's saying we activated contingency protocol 117.  This seems
to be a safeguard left by Workolips with the box, not by the
Empire.  By eliminating more than 95% of the trainees in a
single attack, we have been tagged as excessive danger..."

"I don't like the sound of that."

And just as that was said, a loud BANG was heard, and a portal,
just like the one they used to get to alt.fan.bugtown, opened in
the middle of the crater.

"So", Clara said, "Workolips will send a small force of its
elite soldiers, the Para-lawyers, to deal with us."

And, sure enough, the portal was pouring out dozens of flying
demon-looking things wearing business suits.


Who Cares Studios superstitiously presents...
                        __________    ______
                       / ____( __ )  / ____/
                      /___ \/ __  | /___ \
                     ____/ / /_/ / ____/ /


            It's Time To Spread Our Wings And Fly

                       by Lalo Martins



"Demons?", asked Blackbird, holding a half-eaten sandwich.

"With wings and horns, and fiery pits opening from cracks in the
streets, spitting sulphuric smoke to the skies, brimstone,
pitchforks, nightmare mounts, the whole package", said Bonnie.

"Grife", Locked Room said, also holding a sandwich, albeit one
which significantly stranger ingredients.  "We JUST got freed
from weeks of imprisonment, you'd think we can have a day off
before sprok like that comes up?"

"You'd think", said Howie.  "But the LNH is way overstretched,
and in particular, all out of mystic types.  Mary seems to be
the only person left who could deal with that..."

"What?", said Sammy.  "Mary?  But--"

"But what?", Mary interrupted.  "You're not gonna start with the
underestimating again, are you?  Seriously, I swear, you guys

"Mary, it's *dangerous*."

"I dealt with my first dangerous when I was two", she spat.
"And immediately after that, I wasn't two anymore.  I'm sick and
tired of being protected, especially when I'm the only one who
can solve a problem, but it's so hard to *GET* to the problem
because oooh, the poor widdle girl is too close to the big scary
demon, someone please do something!"

Howie looked from one to the other in confusion.

"Allright", Sammy said, "I see your point, and I'm sorry, but I
think you're overreacting.  You of all people know I don't judge
*anyone* by appearance; but even in your mental age, you're
still younger than me, and you're still family!"

Mary didn't answer; she just threw him an angry look, and kept
fuming in place.

"Ok", Blackbird said, eager to interrupt.  "Let's go then!"

"The Mystic Bandwagon is ready and waiting", said Bonnie, as
everybody who was still sitting got up, hurriedly gobbling up
their sandwiches.


It didn't take long for the Para-lawyers to subjugate Terry and
Clara.  Terry was quite tempted to turn into Kid-Not-Appearing-
In-Any-Beige-Midnight-Story; in that form, it wouldn't be too
hard for him to defeat them.  But that didn't seem like the best
time to break their cover.  Besides, the secretary box said "a
small force"; what if the response to defeating those was to
send whatever Workolips considered *real* firepower?

Rather, his plan was more along the lines of dragging it out
long enough for Fodder to get up.  As the Para-lawyers bound
them (there was no interrogation -- presumably the Para-lawyers
are too stupid or low-rank for that), he kept looking at the
place where he expected Fodder to rise from.

And when they were starting to leave, some Para-lawyers already
gone through the tunnel, Fodder did indeed rise.

"Hey hey", he said, pointing the Big Guns in the direction of
the tunnel.  "What's going on there?  Those are my friends!"

A few Para-lawyers detached to deal with him, as Terry
explained.  "Those are Para-lawyers from Workolips.  It seems we
triggered some safety and now they're taking us prisoners."

"Workolips, yeah?", Cannon Fodder said, as the Para-lawyers
finally got to him.  He dropped his weapons.  "I surrender."


Things were hardly that peaceful in Net.ropolis.  Bandwagon
Chick was trying to run some demons over, while carrying
Analytic and Triangle Lad around, in the hopes that the former
could identify the most useful place to use the latter.

Blackbird found the demons immune to the emotional aspect of his
powers, and was now trying to entangle them with darkness to
avoid excessive destruction; Blur was trying a very similar
approach, keeping them for spreading further.

Howie K. and Old Ugly were having limited success against the
creatures, but were both already badly wounded.  Green was
watching over them, ready to pull some sort of healing gimmick
when necessary.

Contraption Boy and Locked Room were having fun Cannon
Fodder-style with a pair of Big Guns.

And Whatever was standing at the center of all that chaos,
staring at the demons.

"Mary", shouted Howie, dodging a demon tail sweep.  "Any day now
would be good!"

"I know, Howie.  Sorry.  I could 'downplay' one of them at a
time with my 'old' powers, but that would take too long, there's
too many of them.  I think there is something I can do, but I
need to... for lack of a better word, figure them out first."

"Well, good luck with that", he said, as Old Ugly crawled under
the legs of a particularly nasty demon, jumped on its back, and
started chewing at its neck.  Elsewhere, a very large creature
picked up the Mystic Bandwagon and lifted it up over its head;
before anyone could stop him, Triangle Lad jumped out.

Triangle Lad.  Triangle Lad.  Triangle Lad hits big bad demon.
They have a fight.  Triangle wins.  Triangle Lad.

Contraption Boy and Locked Room were surrounded by demons,
firing in all directions.  Finally, one demon knocked the Big
Gun from Locked Room's hands, and grabbed her by the arms.

"Locke!"  Contraption Boy charged and fired, successfully
freeing her, but to the cost of being knocked out from behind.

"I see", Mary said, as a nasty-looking demon approached her,
blood-dripping talons spread wide and foul-smelling mouth wide
open.  "Funny, they are made of belief.  Can you feel?  The
sweet smell of myth?  And... I recognize the threading...  the
peculiar way the stories and expectations interlock to form
their shape...  I know who wove them."

"MARY!", shouted Blackbird, running in her defense.

But she walked forward and passed right through it.

"I understand now.  A bit overkill, if you ask me, but not a bad
idea all in all."  And she walked to the edge of a pit.

Blackbird kept running, dodging the demon and almost reaching
her.  "Mary!  What are you doing?"

"Solving the problem", she said, kissing him on the forehead.
"Take care of yourself and the others."  And she jumped in the
pit.  He tried to reach for her, but too late; as soon as the
red of her clothes and hair merged with that of the flames, the
pits closed immediately, and all demons dissolved in puffs of
rotten-egg-smelling smoke.

"Mary!", he kept shouting, banging the concrete with his fists.


"My name is Carl Fowley", Godd Fodder said.  He was tied to a
pole, in a room that looked like a regular office, except for
all the ghastly death-related decoration and the torture
equipment.  His pole was on one side of the table, in place of
the chair where a visitor would normally sit for an interview.
To either side of him, Terry and Clara were tied to similar
poles.  The three poles ran diagonally at a 30-degree angle
forward, making the position suitably uncomfortable; also, they
weren't so much tied, as they were *stuck* like glue to the
poles, probably thanks to some Workoliptian technology.

"I was a small-time crook in Net.ropolis.  This here is my
partner Terry.  When we heard that the Crime Empire was hiring,
we thought that could be our chance.  We went through basic
training, not expecting much.  But once we were taken to
alt.fan.bugtown, and died there a few times, we began to realize
our true potential.  Then we met this girl, Clara, who taught us
about how things work in that plane.  So we decided to ace the
test and fast-track the Crime Empire ranks."

"Your story sounds very reasonable", said a thin, oily-looking
man, whom the plaque on his desk identified as Eithaar.  "Which
means it's probably not true."

"Why would that be?", asked Terry, genuinely puzzled.

"Why", said Eithaar.  "I haven't even started the torture.  Why
would you want to be so straightforward with me?"

"And why not?", Fodder asked.  "From what little we know --
obviously the Crime Empire doesn't tell much important
information to low-ranking trainees -- but from what we know,
Workolips is an ally of the Empire.  And I'm not telling you
anything confidential or secret, anyway; I don't *know* anything
confidential or secret."

Eithaar scratched his head.  "Indeed.  Well, that's a bit
disappointing, isn't it?  Maybe I should torture you anyway."

"Whatever", Fodder said, as Clara cringed.

"Maybe later", he said, reluctantly dropping a scary-looking
device back in his drawer.  "For now, what matters is... an
ambitious Crime Empire trainee, and capable of so much
destruction.  Yes.  Allies or not, we can't allow them to become
a threat.  But if we can instead train you children in the ways
of Workolips... then it's we that have the useful tools" (and
all three were rather creeped by the way he caressed his drawer
as he said "useful tools").  "Yes.  I should consult with the
dread DarkCEO... but I'm certain he will approve."  And he left,
not giving any more attention to our three heroes, who were
still stuck to their "interview poles".

"What now?", asked Terry.

"Right now?  I don't know."  He looked at Clara.  "Can you do

"That's not funny", Terry said.

"Pole-dancing is always fun."

"I mean, we're stuck in what seems to be one of the most
dangerous places of the universe... multiverse, usenetverse,
whatever.  I wouldn't bet on them letting us go -- not that I
would literally bet on anything anyway, gambling is--"

"Terry", Clara interrupted, "you're rambling."

"Yeah.  Sorry.  It's the panic.  Anyway--"

"We're not stuck", said Fodder.  "Being 'stuck' is a point of
view.  From *my* point of view, we are were we were trying to
get.  Workolips has a more direct link to the Xinerama
Brotherhood.  And you remember what Manhandler said; Workolips
training really did fast-track him in the ranks.  So whether for
going against the Brotherhood or the Empire, this is the most
useful place to be."

"Assuming we survive", said Clara.

"Sure.  That's what makes it challenging, isn't it?"


And not far from there, a hooded figure was walking among the
narrow slots that served as sleeping quarters for the
victims... er, subjects... er, attendees of Aunt Authority's
Internship Camps.

*Fifty-seven thousand four hundred and seventy... fifty-seven
thousand four hundred and eighty... fifty-seven thousand four
hundred and ninety... here it is, this is where Godd Fodder will
sleep next.* The figure took a strangely-shaped device from
under the hood.  Naturally, there was no pillow or blanket to
hide the device under; but there was enough shadow, and pushing
the device against the back of the slot should be enough to keep
anyone else from finding it.  *Great.  All according to plan.*

Three Para-lawyers walked around the corner of the corridor, and
noticed the figure in the distance.  "Halt!  Who is there?"

The figure smiled; not that it could be seen under the hood.
The Para-lawyers charged, weapons ready -- but when they got to
that point, there was nobody and nothing there.


A symbolic funeral was held for Mary two days later in the
LNHQ.  It was a very depressing business indeed; not only
because the deceased was so young, which is always sad, but more
importantly, because the attendance was very small.  With 150
LNH members missing, the crowd had grown very thin, and morale
very low; most members still around were somewhat obscure
characters, who didn't really have a good reason to be in the
funeral; even Emily Jones, who in an alternate reality would be
Mary's mother, was already missing.

Blackbird was his usual depressed self.  Sammy was, unusually,
wearing a black suit; so was Howie K.  Blur was nowhere to be
seen...  felt... was not around.  Pantra had decided to show up,
which caused some discomfort among the LNHers, due to her
recent, well-publicized road trip[*]; even though she was
behaving herself quite well.  A few people from the Bingham
Valley community were there too.

[*You'll see the details in the New Misfits Annual #1, if May
ever actually finishes it -- Footnote Cybergirl]

And in the Leviathan's plane, Mary was watching them, through a
viewing spell she cast herself.


"I feel bad for deceiving them like this", she said.


"I know.  But they would understand--"


"I know."  She sighed, and allowed the spell to dissipate.
"Let's get back to work.  I'm still not entirely clear on how
the seven rules of desire relate to each other..."


Kid-Not-Appearing-In-Any-Beige-Midnight-Story heard footsteps
outside.  At super-speed, he made sure there were no traces of
food on Clara, went back to his position in his own pole, and
then reverted to his non-powered form as Terry.

The door opened, and Eithaar entered.  "Ah", he said, with a
sadistic smile.  "Glad you're still here.  I hate when people
die in my office and I'm not here to see it."

"Clara is from alt.fan.bugtown", said Fodder.  "Two days without
food or water is not a new experience.  And Terry... he's
tougher than he looks."

"So I see, so I see.  It may still turn out that you gnats are
worth my time."  He waved his hand, and the poles released our
three heroes, which, in their weakened state, fell to the floor.
"I enrolled you in Aunt Authority's Internship Camps.  I'm sure
you will all find the program extremely empowering.  Of course,
only one in approximately ten thousand interns survive it, and
only one human did it to this day.  But that's what makes it
worth doing, isn't it?"  He looked at the three, who were now
getting back on their feet, using each other for support.  "You
will have to be separated, of course.  Having each other for
comfort and", he gestured at what they were doing, "support
would be an unfair advantage over the other interns, and we
can't have that.  And of course, you have much to learn and much
to unlearn, and things like hope or human contact would be
distractions.  Well.  Good Luck", he said, again with the
sadistic smile.  And left.

Shortly after that, six Para-lawyers entered, and two by two,
dragged our heroes away, in different directions.

"Godd", appealed Clara, as she was dragged.

"Just make the best of the Camps", he said, to both her and
Terry.  "Learn all you can.  Survive it.  Then we meet again."

"And then?", Terry asked.

"Then the fun begins."


 Godd Fodder           Cannon Fodder          wReam's (special
                                              thanks to Dvandom)
 Terry                 Kid-Not-Appearing-In-  Saxon Brenton's
 Clara Lee-Trobbo                             mine
 Blackbird Jones       Blackbird              mine
 Bonnie Chique         Bandwagon Chick        Sue Clark's
 (unpronounceable)     Locked Room            mine
 Old Ugly                                     mine
 Kiwi Kiwii Kiwi       Howie K.               mine
 Mary Smith            Whatever               mine
 Meredith Samuels      Analytic               mine
 Daniel Hunt           Contraption Boy        mine
 Green Delaware        Tree-Hugging Kid       mine
 Blur                  Blur                   mine
 Eithaar                                      mine
 Someone in a cloak                           ???
 The Leviathan                                Paul Hardy's

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