LNH: LNH Comics Presents #501: Infinite Leadership Cry.Sig Episode 466 (1/5)

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 22:04:00 PDT 2007

LNH Comics Presents #501:


"Outrageous Villainy"

By Rob Rogers


    When the Ultimate Ninja leaves on a month's vacation, the
Legion of Net.Heroes must elect a new leader.  Yet each new
commanding officer disappears at midnight, forcing the LNH to
choose another leader the next day.  The process continues for
an 'infinite April' of 500 days, with the gradually dwindling
Legion replacing its members with an army of robot duplicates.
When the robots rebel, the last Legionnaire -- the immortal
Cannon Fodder -- teams up with a group of super-villains led
by the mysterious Mynabird, later revealed to be a suit of armor
operated by the Easily-Discovered Bran Mite, to defeat them.

    After disappearing at midnight, Cannon Fodder discovers the
true villain behind the leadership crisis: the LNH's former
receptionist, Bart, who has joined forces with the Bryttle
Brothers, cosmic entities of unspeakable power and malice.
Meanwhile, the LNH Headquarters... and the city of Net.ropolis
itself... remain in the hands of Mynabird and his newly-formed
Legion of Net.Villains...

8:30 a.m.  May 1, 1994

Reagansville, Kan.sys

    Ollie wakes to the warm, full smell of baking bread, the
chatter of robins and morning doves in the trees outside and the
soft pressure of Arachne's hand in his.  When he opens his eyes
Ollie sees that she is already looking into his face, and smiling.

    "Morning, eight eyes," she says.

    "You're beautiful," he says, and she is: his eyes roam the
pale, gentle curves of her carapace until she blushes, covering
herself with his bedsheet.  "And you're still here.  That has to
be a good sign."

    "'Course I'm still here," Arachne yawns.  "You think I'd
spend the night laying six million eggs in order to walk out
before breakfast the next morning?"

    Ollie sits up.  Behind Arachne, resting against the side of
his mattress, is the fullest, most perfect sphere he's ever seen:
a firm, silky ball that's warm to his touch and pulsing with life.

    "I can't believe it," he says, running two of his hands along
the sides of the sac.

    "That's hardly the sort of thing one wants to hear from the
father of her children," Arachne says.

    Ollie looks at her -- at the perfect hourglass of her face,
the round red wonder of her body, the way she's trying hard not to
laugh at him.

    "It's just that it seems like it was yesterday that I saw you
for the first time," he says, shaking his head.

    "It was yesterday," she says.  "One of the benefits of having
an extremely brief life cycle."

    "I'm going to be a father!" he says, jumping up and slapping
the mattress with his hands.  "I have to tell your parents.  I
have to tell everybody.  Everybody in the world needs to hear
about this."

    "Let's keep it intimate," Arachne says, rubbing her eyes.
"I'll go ahead and ask about four hundred of our friends if they
want to come over.  Do you mind going out and getting something
to eat?"

    "For you, my lady?" Ollie says, taking her hand and dropping
to six knees.  "Anything.  What would you like me to bring back?"

    "Well, bran would probably be the way to go," Arachne says,
rolling her eyes but allowing him to kiss her hand.  "Being as
we're bran mites and all."

    "Of course," he says, and all but skips out of the apartment;
he's down the counter and past the milk spill before his first
burst of exuberance is spent.

    "Morning, Ollie," says old Mr. Blatta, the postman.  "Funny
weather we're having today."

    "Weather?  Oh, sure," Ollie says, noticing for the first time
the little white flecks spiraling from the sky and settling like a
dusty blanket along his shoulders and antennae.  "Mr. Blatta, I'm
going to be a father!"

    "Congratulations," Blatta says, coughing.  "That's... excuse
me, something must have gone down the wrong spiracle.  That's

    Blatta slumps to the ground.

    "Mr. Blatta?" Ollie says, running to the postman's side as his
bag spills and a thousand letters blend with the falling white
powder.  Ollie grabs Blatta by the shoulder, which already feels
cool and stiff, though his mouth hangs open as though he had
something more to say.

    Ollie closes it.  He hears coughing -- more coughing -- coming
from homes on both sides of the road.  He sees a jogger tumble
face-first into a pile of white; sees a trio of nuns grow rigid
and fall backwards.  He feels a strange, burning sensation along
his thorax, but it's drowned out by a sudden sense of panic.

    Home.  He has to get home.

    As he races he sees the enormous television on the horizon
flicker into life, its light casting the homes of all his fellow
mites into silhouette.  Two human faces fill the screen as a
spinning logo grows larger beneath them: Amazing Products!

    Please, he thinks.  Let Arachne be all right.

    "Welcome to Amazing Products!" one of the two humans says.
"I'm your host, Bob Hawker, and with me is Easily-Discovered Man
Lite of the world-famous Legion of Net.Heroes."

    "Pleasure to be here, Bob."

    "Lite -- may I call you Lite? -- the toys, costumes and action
playsets you're marketed on behalf of your employer, Easily-
Discovered Man, have been selling like hotcakes these last few
weeks, despite consumer product groups who claim they're highly

    "Well, Bob, as Easily-Discovered Man himself always says, you
haven't had a life until you've had a half-life."

    Ollie arrives at his front door.  He pounds on the wood with
four fists.  No answer.  His back feels like it's been doused in
kerosene and set on fire.

    "But what about your cereal?" the man on the television asks.
"Easily-Discovered Bran?  Our sources tell us that several boxes
had to be recalled because they were infested with mites."

    "That's no longer a problem, Bob," his companion says, holding
up a bag of bright white powder.  "Every box of Easily-Discovered
Bran now comes with a free bag of Easily-Discovered Brand
Sweetener, the non-fattening sugar substitute that's also a
powerful arachnicide."

    The door gives beneath Ollie's shoulder.  He sees the blank
expression in Arachne's vacant eyes and throws his arms around her,
his chest shaking in heavy, violent sobs.  He can't bring himself
to examine the egg sac.

    "Just sprinkle a few spoonfuls of this remarkable product over
your box of Easily-Discovered Bran, and you've got a tasty treat
your kids will love -- without the danger of eight-legged
infestation," the boy on the television says.

    "And you say it's safe for people and pets?"

    "Why would you be feeding breakfast cereal to your pets, Bob?"

    "Let's just say that you did."

    "That's bizarre, Bob."

    "People have been known to do bizarre things, Lite."

    "They sure have, Bob.  But I'm here to tell you that Easily-
Discovered Brand Sweetener is better than safe.  In fact, one out
of every billion life-forms who use this amazing product will
develop the incredible power to glow and be detected by a Geiger
counter, just like your hero and mine -- Easily-Discovered Man!"

    Ollie stares from the stiffening body of his lover to his own
arms and legs -- which have begun to emanate a weird orange light
-- to the smiling face on the television screen who has pronounced
a death sentence on his people.

    "And you say it will kill every last one of those mites,
Easily-Discovered Man Lite?"

    "Every last one, Bob," Lite grins.  "Deader than the Clinton
health plan.  You have Easily-Discovered Man Lite's guarantee."

    "It wasn't enough for you to take Arachne, Easily-Discovered
Man Lite," Ollie says, raising a tiny glowing fist -- then another,
and another -- at the enormous television screen.  "It wasn't
enough for you to take my children.  My family.  My friends.

    "You vowed to destroy my species," the Easily-Discovered Bran
Mite cries.  "And for that, you shall pay.  I will have my revenge
on you, Easily-Discovered Man Lite!  I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!"

        *                       *                       *

11 a.m., May 1, 2007

Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters, Net.ropolis

    "I will have my revenge," Easily-Discovered Bran Mite said,
striking his fists against the control console he operated within
the black helmet of the Mynabird suit of armor.

    The armor itself -- sleek, dark, and so well-polished it seemed
almost frictionless -- gave Mynabird the appearance of a football
linebacker who had decided to wear the Batmobile to work.  He was
seated at what had been the desk of the Ultimate Ninja, in the
building that had been Legion of Net.Heroes headquarters.

    Just one day earlier, Mynabird (and Easily-Discovered Bran
Mite) had watched in delirious ecstasy as Easily-Discovered Man
Lite had died in his arms.  He had since discovered, however,
that the Lite he killed had been a robot duplicate, created when
the real Lite had disappeared in something called the Infinite
Leadership Crisis.

    The news had come as an unwelcome shock to Easily-Discovered
Bran Mite -- who in the world would want to make a duplicate of
Easily-Discovered Man Lite, anyway?  However, if the last 13
years had taught him anything, it was that standing around
screaming and feeling sorry for himself rarely accomplished much,
while putting on an atom-powered suit of armor and pillaging the
city could be both productive and cathartic.

    He was still deciding between setting off a series of
earthquakes that would level Net.ropolis and obliterating its
nuclear power plant when the door to his office opened and Mr.
Homage walked inside.

    "So this is the office of the Ultimate Ninja," the master
criminal said, lifting a battered, battle-stained cavalry saber
from its display rack.  "Fascinating," he said, unsheathing the
sword and examining the "CSA" stamped on its blade.  "I had no
idea the leader of the LNH was a Civil War buff."

    "Nor did I," Mynabird said.  "Particularly the way they
characterized Iron Man.  And that whole business with the clone
of Thor..."

    "I wasn't talking about... but no matter," Homage said.
"I came here to congratulate you. You've finally done what no other
super-villain in the history of the Looniverse has accomplished."

    "Do you mean that I've captured Tony Blair, and forced him to
do the funky chicken?" Mynabird asked, pointing to one of the
room's flat-screen monitors, on which the British Prime Minister
cavorted within a circle of jeering super-criminals.  "Or that I've
managed to assemble a team of outlaws that hasn't seen fit to
question my leadership?"

    Homage ignored the slight, turning the antique blade over and
over in his hand.  "I meant that you defeated the Legion of Net.
Heroes... or a reasonable facsimile thereof," he said.  "And you've
earned my respect."

    He returned the sword to the crowded shelf of keepsakes and
mementoes.  "In fact, you've convinced me to do something I haven't
done in more than a decade," Homage said.  "I'd like to offer you
and your team a position within the Brotherhood of Net.Villains."

   Within Mynabird's helmet, Easily-Discovered Bran Mite adjusted
a dial on the "Laughter" panel from "Maniacal Cackle" to "Deep,
Braying Guffaw."

    "HA HA HA HA HA," Mynabird jeered.  "Join the Brotherhood?  If
I wanted to waste my life listening to a group of has-beens jawing
on about the glory days, I'd sign up with the Elks.  Look at
yourself, Homage.  When was the last time you upgraded your armor?
These days, most people don't even remember who you're supposed to
be ripping off any more."

    Mr. Homage crossed his arms.

    "Let's face it, Homage -- for all that you claim to have done,
you've been about as successful against the Legion as King
Konqueror," Mynabird said.  "While you've been sulking and
scheming, I've sacked their headquarters, freed our comrades in
arms and driven their membership into hiding!  I'd offer you a
position within MY organization, but you'd be better off with a

    Homage's arm lashed out, smashing the office shelves and
sending the knickknacks accumulated during the leadership crisis
tumbling to the floor.  Mynabird rose from his seat.

    "I offered you a chance, Mynabird," Mr. Homage said.  "You're
going to find out that being a villain in the Looniverse means
nothing more than finding the least humiliating way to lose to the
LNH.  And then you're going to find out what it means to oppose

    He grabbed Ultimate Ninja's Confederate saber and stormed out
of the office, passing a cowering Father Brown and two other hooded
members of the Church of the Fourth Wall on his way out.

    "He's wrong!  Tell them he's wrong!" Mynabird shouted, reaching
into the wastebasket beside his desk and pulling the disembodied
head of Dr. Stomper's robot duplicate out by its hair.  "Tell them,

    "I'm afraid that Homage was correct," the robot Dr. Stomper
droned.  "The LNH will ultimately prevail in every conflict within
this Looniverse."

    "You're wrong!" Mynabird said, flinging the head into the pile
of broken objects Homage had left behind.  "Things ARE different
this time!  The Legion CAN be defeated!  Easily-Discovered Man Lite
will be annihilated!"

    "Of course he will," Father Brown said.  "And the LNH can be
eliminated, as well... but not by force of arms, by technology, or
even by occult means.  I myself have tried all those methods in the
past.  There is a better way."

    "There is a better waaaay," chanted the two monks beside
Father Brown.

    "Right," Mynabird said.  "And I'm sure it involves somehow
strengthening the Fourth Wall and preventing any of the writers
from interfering with our lives."

    "No," Father Brown croaked.  "That plan, too, has failed me in
the past."

    "It's failed him in the paaaast," the monks sang.

    "What I have in mind," the aged cleric said, "is for all of
us to..."

    "Hold that thought," Mynabird said, raising a gauntleted hand.
"What's that commotion?  Something's going on outside!"

    Mynabird pressed a button on his right arm.  A bluish-white
hologram of a tall woman in a leather catsuit appeared at the center
of his desk.

    "Vector Prime!  Report!" Mynabird said.

    "Something... unexpected is taking place outside of Legion
headquarters," the hologram said.  "You'd better see for yourself."

    "Very well," Mynabird said.  "We will continue this discussion
later, Father Brown."

    The armored giant left the office.

    "He should have listened to your plan," said the taller of the
two monks.

    "True, Felonious Monk," Father Brown said, his eyes searching
the ruins of the room.  "But there is something else within this
chamber that will made our journey here worthwhile."

        *                       *                       *

11:15 a.m. May 1, 2007

Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters, Net.ropolis

    What had sounded like a dull roar within the walls of Ultimate
Ninja's office grew louder and louder as Mynabird strode down the
hallway, until Easily-Discovered Bran Mite had to adjust the volume
controls within his helmet.  As he entered the charred remains of
the building's lobby, the room exploded with applause -- not just
from the dozen or so super-criminals assembled there, but from the
hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of people gathered

    "What is the meaning of this?" Mynabird shouted.

    "It's a pronoun. It has no intrinsic meaning," the Alt.Imate
Ninja replied.

    "If you're asking about the crowd, however, you might find
answers from one of these gentlemen," said Vector Prime, indicating
two men in suits picking their way through the twisted, glass-
strewn skeleton of the Legion Headquarters' revolving doors.

    "I told them the whole thing was the LNH's fault," said the
larger -- and louder -- of the two men, the beefy, red-faced talk-
show host Mynabird recognized as McLaughlin Man.  "But it took you
all to prove it."

    "I'll admit, when your group attacked the LNH, I thought it was
the end of the world," said the other man, whom Mynabird now saw
was the mayor of Net.ropolis.  "But you did it.  You really did

    "What exactly did we do?" Mynabird asked, turning to Vector
Prime.  "Does he know about the Blair thing?"

    "It's May 1!" McLaughlin Man said.  "After 500 days of April,
500 days of the LNH's tyranny, you freed us."

    "And the city is going wild," the mayor agreed.  "They've
already torn down the statue of Lost Cause Boy, and people are
burning anything and everything that has even the slightest
connection to the LNH.  They abandoned us in our hour of need --
but you, even though we made you outcasts, even though we let the
heroes lock you away -- you saved us."

    "The city would like to honor you," McLaughlin Man said,
throwing a thick, sausage-like arm around Mynabird's iron
shoulders.  "You think they loved the LNH?  You think people went
wild for the Saviors of the Net?  Brother, you ain't seen nuthin'

        *                       *                       *

3 p.m., May 1, 2007

Net.ropolis Bandshell, Drayer Park

    "And as we enter the third hour of our citywide celebration,
it looks like... yes, it's the Russell High School Marching Band
playing a medley of tunes from stage and screen, starting with
Celine Dion's immortal classic 'My Heart Will Go On'..." Pointless
Awards Man II announced.

    "Permission to initiate widespread slaughter," the Alt.Imate
Ninja requested, placing a hand on the hilt of his katana.

    "Oh, lighten up," Mynabird said, standing beside Alt.Imate
Ninja, Vector Prime and the other members of the Surreptitious
Seven on the podium in front of the Net.ropolis Bandshell.  In
front of them, just behind the parade route, was a crowd of
thousands.  Some were holding banners or signs: "Young Republicans
for the Legion of Net.Villains" or "Molixville Diving Team Salutes
Plummet."  Mostly they clapped, cheered, blew kisses, or waved,
showering the super-villains with goodwill.  None of those onstage,
with the possible exception of Uma Thurman, the replacement Waffle
Queen, had ever experienced anything like it.

    "This feels... wrong, somehow," said Downyflake, clutching a
pair of women's undergarments he'd just been thrown from the
crowd.  "I mean, sure, we were trying to stop those LNH robots
that'd gone berserk.  But I was just doing it because I'm sick of
having to drive all the way to Utah to be able to shoot robots."

    "People of Net.ropolis!" Mynabird said, raising his hand.
Vector Prime's eyes glowed green, and Mynabird's voice began
broadcasting through every radio, television, set of computer
speakers or iPod within a ten-mile radius.  "The Legion of Net.
Villains thanks you for your support."

    An enormous cheer erupted from the crowd.

    "For decades, now, this city... this nation... this world...
has placed its security in the hands of the Legion of Net.Heroes."

    The crowd began to boo, with one young man screaming "LNH

    "We trusted this group with our lives... and with the lives of
our children... though they answered to no authority, refused to
account for their actions, and turned up their noses at even the
mildest of regulations, such as the LNH Registration Act," Mynabird
said.  "And how did they return our trust?

    "When their leader disappeared... when their members began to
vanish... did they share this information with the people?  With
the police?  With anyone?  They did not!" Mynabird thundered,
bringing his fist down upon the podium.  "Instead, they built an
army of robot killers to fool all of us into thinking we were still

    "Boo!"  "Hiss!"  "Potemkin village!" the crowd roared.

    "And when those robots rebelled... what did the last
Legionnaire, the very last member, choose to do?" Mynabird asked.
"My friends, I don't have to ask you to speculate.  I can play you
the sounds my armor recorded last night."

    The voice of Cannon Fodder crackled over the public address
system.  "Let me explain," he said.  "In two minutes this whole
place is going to blow up.  I've set off the Ultimate Self Destruct
Code.  It's a nuclear bomb that when it goes off will destroy all
of the LNHHQ and probably all of Net.ropolis."

    The audience gasped.

    "I knew it!" McLaughlin man screamed.

    The recording continued.  "You're bluffing!  You wouldn't cause
so many innocent deaths," said the sepulchral voice of the LNH
Robot Duplicator Machine.

    "I wouldn't?" Cannon Fodder's voice said.  "I think you should
remember that I'm human, therefore completely irrational!  Why
wouldn't I do that?  The question you need to ask yourself is can
you afford to take the chance?"

    The recording ended.

    "And that's the same question each of you needs to ask
yourselves," Mynabird said.  "Can you take that chance?  Can you
ever trust a Legion of Net.Heroes with your lives again?"

    "NEVER!" the people of Net.ropolis roared.

    "Are you ready to take control of your own lives?  To be the
authors of your own destiny?"

    The audience thought about that for a moment.

    "NO!" they shouted.

    "Come again?" Mynabird said.

    "YOU DO IT!" they screamed.  "LNV!  LNV!  LNV!"

    Londonbroil shook his head.  "Bunch of bloody useless
background characters," he muttered.

    "Permission to initiate violent mayhem," Alt.Imate Ninja

    "LNV!  LNV!  LNV!" the city cheered.

    Mynabird held up both hands.

    "Very well," he said.  "If what you truly desire is for the
Legion of Net.Villains to serve as your new protectors..."

    The applause erupting throughout Net.ropolis was deafening.

        *                       *                       *

11:45 p.m., May 1, 2007

Net.ropolis Bandshell, Drayer Park

    "And that's the last of Guitar Man's records to go into the
bonfire," Pointless Awards Man II said, as the blaze before the
Bandshell flared up and the people surrounding it cheered.  A few
fireworks burst in the distance, illuminating the contours of the
Mr. Paprika Blimp, which drifted lazily by overhead.  "Kid Poetry's
books will go next, as well as Gorilla Grad's research texts and
that item that was on every schoolkid's wish list just two weeks
ago -- LNH dice!"

    "I'm starting to think this thing could go all night," said
Uma Thurman, swirling her cocktail.  "Hey Pointless, does the fact
that this infinite April thing is over mean that you can finally
get on with hosting the RACCie Awards?  I've got this new dress
I've been dying to wear..."

    Pointless Awards Man II shot the replacement Waffle Queen a
look saturated with malice.  "Ixnay on the acciesray," he said.
"They'll happen when they happen."

    Turning back to his microphone, he continued, "And how about a
big hand for our friends at Cowling Propane and Propane
Accessories, who donated all of the equipment we're using to burn
LNH products tonight?  Let's turn our cameras over to the
waterfront, where the shop students at Net.ropolis P.S. 182 have
built a medieval catapult they're using to launch Cheesecake-Eater
Lad Brand Cheesecakes into the bay..."

    "This is fantastic," Londonbroil said.  "In less than 24 hours,
we've gone from being small-time crooks to underworld kingpins to
the world's most beloved heroes.  Mynabird's got them eating out of
his hand."

    He shook his head in wonder at the black-armored villain, who
was, at that moment, allowing a small group of orphans to eat
miniature waffles out of his hand.

    "To bollix this up now, we'd have to do something really,
really, stupid," Londonbroil said.

    "Wow!  I guess a cheesecake really can fly," Pointless Awards
Man II said.  "Hope those fish are hungry... because in addition
to all those unjust desserts, our deep-sea denizens are going
to be getting their fiber in a big way tonight.  The city's
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has just announced that
they're ready to dump the tri-state area's entire supply of Easily-
Discovered Bran into Net.ropolis Harbor."

    "What?" Mynabird said, grabbing the microphone away from
Pointless Awards Man II.  "What did you just say?"

    "Uhh... they're dumping Easily-Discovered Bran," the master of
ceremonies said, checking his on-air notes.  "Some cereal they
invented back when Easily-Discovered Man's series was popular.  I'm
surprised they're still making it."

    "CALL IT OFF!" Mynabird demanded.

    "Take it easy, big guy," Downyflake said, placing a hand on
Mynabird's arm and shooting a worried look at Londonbroil and
Thurman.  "Trust me, it's not that good a cereal.  The one time I
tried it there were these little red things all over it, and I had
to flush it down the disposal..."

    Mynabird shook off Downyflake's hand.  Inside his helmet,
the Easily-Discovered Bran Mite turned the speech control dial from
"Suave, Self-Assured Demagogue" to "Hysterical Dalek."

    "YOU'RE ALL THE SAME!" he screeched.  "ALL OF YOU!  YOU'RE

    "Command accepted... and executed," said the Alt.Imate Ninja,
drawing both of his swords and leaping into the crowd.

    "I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later," Londonbroil
said, as the audience began to scream and scatter, and Mynabird
raised his hands into the air, palms open.  Bolts of white-hot
plasma shot from his gauntlets into the side of the Mr. Paprika
Blimp.  The airborne balloon exploded, illuminating the entire
eastern end of the city for a flickering second, and the shattered,
flaming gondola dropped toward the terrified crowd.

    "Now, THAT'S a man's pop!" Mynabird cried.

   "Oh, the humanity," Pointless Awards Man II wailed.  "The
horror, the horror, the... does anybody else hear that roaring

    "Like a missile," Uma Thurman said.

    "It's not a missile," Mynabird said.  "It's them."

    "Captain Continuity!" Downyflake gasped, as the caped hero
swooped beneath the falling gondola, bracing it with his shoulders
moments before it could collide with the ground.  Above him, Irony
Man sprayed the burning structure with clouds of pale green foam,
while Writers Block Woman helped Captain Continuity to stabilize
his burden.

    "Ladies and gentlemen," Pointless Awards Man II said, as
hundreds of people burst into applause.  "The Legion of Net.Heroes
has returned!"

    "Let's make this short, sweet, and as bloody as is humanly
possible," Vector Prime said, striding towards the center of the

    TOMORROW: The battle for Net.ropolis begins!

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