LNH: LNH COMICS PRESENTS # 38: Infinite Leadership Crisis Part Three: Catalyst Lass

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sat May 12 17:15:13 PDT 2007

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|  |  |  \|  | |  | |  |          # 38
|  |  |      | |  |_|  | INFINITE LEADERSHIP CRISIS
|  |_ | |\   | |   _   |       PART THREE
|    || | \  | |  | |  |  
|    || |  | | |  | |  |     CATALYST LASS
|____||_|  |_| |__| |__|
 ____     ____   __  __   __   ____   ____
|    \   /    \ |  \/  | |  | |    \ |    |  BY TOM
|  ___\ |  __  ||      | |__| |  ___\|  __| RUSSELL &
| |     | |  | || |  | |  __  | |     \ \    MITCHELL
| |     | |  | || |  | | |  | | |      \ \     CROUCH
| |___  | |__| || |  | | |  | | |___  __\ \   
|     / |      || |  | | |  | |     /|     | (C) 2007 
|____/  |______||_|\/|_| |__| |____/ |_____|
 _____  _____  ___  _____  ___  __  __  _____  _____
|     ||     ||   ||     ||   ||  \|  ||     ||     |
|  _  ||  _  ||   ||     ||   ||      ||     ||     |
| |_| || |_| ||   ||     ||   ||      ||     ||     |
|     ||     ||   ||     ||   ||      ||     ||     |
|  ___||    / | __||  ___|| __|| |\   ||_   _||  ___|
| |    | || \ ||__  \ \   ||__ | | \  |  | |   \ \
| |    | ||  || __|  \ \  | __|| |  \ |  | |    \ \
| |    | ||  |||__  __\ \ ||__ | |   ||  | |  ___\ \
|_|    |_||__||___||_____||___||_|    |  |_| |______|

            PART I

   Mainstream Man comes running down the hallway, his
arms flailing, the pages of the latest ALT.STRALIAN
YARNS flittering about.
   "Mainstream Man, what's wrong?"
   He skids to a stop and pivots less than gracefully
towards the sound of the silky soft voice.
   Catalyst Lass steps out of the shadows, her right
arm crossed beneath her chest and supporting her left
elbow, a fresh can of Ms. Paprika (now that's a lady's
pop!) pursed near her lips.
   "It's Irony Man!  He's gone!  Disappeared!"
   "Just like Fearless Leader," says Cat.  The gears
start to turn beneath her brunette hair.  "And you're
sure about this?"
   "Sure I'm sure!" says Mainstream Man.  "One minute,
I'm talking with him, and the next, I look up, and
he's gone!"
   "Looked up from one of your comics...?" suggests
   "Of course."
   "And when was this?"
   "Just a few minutes ago," says Mainstream Man.  "At
midnight!  Just like Fearless Leader!"
   "When was the last time you saw him?" says Cat,
sipping her Ms. Paprika thoughtfully.
   When Mainstream Man gets into a comic book, he
enters a trance that even the Ultimate Ninja, in all
his zen-like mastery, is envious of.  "Three o'clock
this afternoon."
   "And you're confident he was standing there,
talking to you, for at least nine hours?"
   "He couldn't possibly have left the room at some
point while you were reading your comic book?"
   "He could have."  Conservatively, he amends his
statement: "Possibly.  But I doubt it."
   "Cat!  Mainstream Man!"  It's Pocket Man, rushing
down the hall.  "It's Irony Man!  He's disappeared!"
   "I told you," says Mainstream Man.
   "What happened, Pok?"
   "A whole bunch of us were fighting WikiBoy and..."
   "Wait, why were you fighting WikiBoy?" says
Mainstream Man, leaping to his friend's defense.
   "Master Blaster got bored and edited him into an
all-powerful villain," explains Pok.
   Suddenly: an explosion.
   "Actually, he's kinda sorta still on the rampage,"
notes Pok.  "But he's knocked everyone else out and
Irony Man disappeared and so I need some help.  This
   Mainstream Man and Cat follow.  The latter is
curious: "Why didn't you just revert the edit?"
   "Master Blaster locked the page," says Pok.  "The
most I could do was edit some of the other pages,
tweaking his personality so that he was more of a
misunderstood anti-hero."
   "I didn't know you could lock an aspect of
WikiBoy," says Cat.
   "You couldn't," says Pok.  "Not until Master
Blaster edited WikiBoy so that pages could be locked."
   They reach the lobby.  A power-mad WikiBoy hovers
over a score of legionnaires, all in an unconscious
   "WikiBoy, I'm reverting the edit," says Cat.
   "The page is locked," snarls WikiBoy.  "Can only be
unlocked by an administrator."
   "WikiBoy, I am an administrator," says the maven of
   "As of when?" scoffs WikiBoy.
   "Now," says Cat, with a snap of her fingers.  The
edit reverts and WikiBoy falls to the ground.
   "Oh my goodness," says the LNHer Anyone Can Edit. 
"I'm so sorry.  I didn't mean to.  I didn't want
   "Don't whine."
   He suddenly becomes very cool.  "Eh."
   "WikiBoy," says Cat, "you now have the ability to
know instantly whether any of these unconscious
legionnaires have been hurt."
   WikiBoy gives them a once-over.  "Nah, just
   "Let's wake them up, then," says Pok.  "We'll have
to have another meeting, decide who's going to be
leader.  Might as well get it over with now..."
   "No," says Cat, eying the sleeping Cheesecake-Eater
Lad apprehensively.  "Don't wake them up.  Get them
all up and the person they elect is whoever's loudest
and the most popular."
   "That's democracy," says Pok.
   "Well, we'll still do things by the book," says
Cat.  "But no need to disorient the others.  They
won't be in the right mind to make a decision."
   "You have a point," says Pok.  "Let's wait until
the morning, then."
   "But what happens then?" offers Cat.  She downs the
rest of her soda and tosses it towards WikiBoy's
mouth.  "Power of recycling," she says coolly before
WikiBoy ingests the aluminum can.  "Say we get
everyone together and we put it to a vote.  What if
Self-Righteous Preacher Wins?  Or Coward Lad?  Or
Cheeez Cowboy?"
   "That's the risk we have to take," says Pok.  "But
let's be serious, Catherine.  No one's going to vote
for them."
   "Hex Luthor is President," reminds Cat.  "And Haiku
Gorilla won a Senate seat."
   "She has a point," says Mainstream Man.
   "So what are you suggesting?" says Pok impatiently.
   "There are four members here," says Cat.  "Me, you,
Mainstream Man, and WikiBoy.  We have a quorum, don't
   "Has to be four senior members," says Pok. 
"WikiBoy doesn't count."
   "WikiBoy," says Cat.  "You're a senior member."
   "Revert," says Pok.
   "He's a senior member."
   "He's a senior member, and I'm locking the page,
and I'm blocking you from editing for twenty-four
hours."  Cat smiles.
   Pok doesn't.  "So, let's say that we do this. 
Hypothetically.  The four of us pick the next LNH
leader during a secret midnight meeting."
   "It's not very democratic," says WikiBoy.
   "You're a communist," says Cat.  "Go on, Pok."
   "Who, pray tell, are you nominating?"
   "Silly boy," says Cat with a dark, throaty laugh. 
The noise causes some of the unconscious legionnaires
to stir.
   "WikiBoy, you have the power to keep them asleep,"
Cat sing-songs quickly.  "Well, Pok, I was thinking of
nominating myself."
   "Doesn't surprise me."
   "Why beat around the bush?" says Cat.  "I'm not one
for false modesty.  I've been a legionnaire since the
beginning, I'm damn good at what I do, I'm one of the
Ninja's top lieutenants.  I don't see any reason why I
shouldn't lead the LNH during his absence.  Do you?"
   "Besides this flagrant violation of all known
concepts of ethical conduct?" says Pok.
   "Besides that," says Cat.
   Pok shrugs.
   "Any other nominees?" says Cat.
   "I don't want it," says Mainstream Man.  "It would
detract from my very important, um, research."  He
hides his face in his comic book.  Er, source
   "I don't have the time," says Pok.  "In fact, I
should be getting home to Ori soon."
   "Not me," says WikiBoy.  "I don't want to disappear
at midnight!"
   "I'm running unopposed, then.  All in favour, raise
your hands.  Or don't.  Either way, verdict's the
   "Congratulations," says Pok flatly.  "Aren't you
worried though?  About disappearing like Fearless
Leader and Irony Man?"
   "No," says Cat with a smile that is hers and only
hers.  "Not in the slightest."

Morning.  The Ninja's Office.
   Cheesecake-Eater Lad rushes in.  "Oh!  Sorry, Cat. 
I was looking for Irony Man.  Do you know where--"
   "He's disappeared."
   "Like Fearless Leader.  So, who's in charge now?"
   Cat puts her hands behind her head, leaning back in
the leather chair as she rests her feet on the Ninja's
   "Oh really?" says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "Yes.  Really."
   "No, wait.  When did this happen?"
   "Last night, after Irony Man disappeared. 
Emergency meeting."
   "And who was in this emergency meeting?  I didn't
hear anything about it!"
   Cat shrugs.  "We had a quorum."
   "Who's we?"

   News of the coup spreads quickly, and the LNH is,
for the most part, not happy.  Pocket Man is
thankfully not around to hear the things being said
about him; WikiBoy, not being so lucky, is the victim
of a number of unusually cruel edits.
   Mainstream Man enters the cafeteria.  He comes to
Cheesecake-Eater Lad's table, holding his tray in one
hand and an over-sized slipcase Absolute Edition of
Jungle Cheesecake in the other.
   "No one else will let me sit with them," says
Mainstream Man.
   The portly practitioner of the pastry arts snorts. 
"Small wonder after what you've done.  I hope whatever
she promised you is worth it."
   "She didn't promise me anything," says Mainstream
   "Then you're an idiot," snarls Cheesecake-Eater
Lad.  "Not only do you take part in this secret
meeting, but you do it of your own free will?"
   "I don't know what everyone's so upset about," says
Mainstream Man.  "It's not like this is permanent or
anything.  She'll probably just disappear at
   "Two have before," admits Cheesecake-Eater Lad. 
"But that doesn't mean that she will."
   "Chances are, this is part three of a thirty-part
multi-author crossover," offers Mainstream Man.
   "At this point, MM?" says Cheesecake-Eater Lad
sourly. "I wouldn't put it past her to be behind the
whole thing."

   Cat approaches the Inventory Desk.  "Adamant
Authority-on-Everything," she says warily.  "Since
when are you in charge of the inventory?"
   "Irony Man put me in charge yesterday," says
Adamant Authority-on-Everything.  "He wanted someone
responsible for a change."
   "Understood," says Cat, curtly.  "Well, I'd like to
sign out an item, if that's alright?"
   "Object X-Y," says Cat, pronouncing each syllable
   Adamant Authority-on-Everything scans the list
before him apprehensively.  "I'm sorry, Catherine. 
But you're not authorized to sign that item out."
   "What do you mean, I'm not authorized?"
   "Only the Ninja has access to it."
   "Does it say that?"
   "Well, basically."
   "What does it say?"
   "Only the leader of the LNH can..."
   "I am the leader of the LNH."
   "You're the temporary leader," says Adamant
   "Which gives me the powers and responsibilities of
the leader," says Cat.
   "But you're still not the leader," says Adamant
Authority-on-Everything, um, well, adamantly.  "You're
just leader pro tem."
   "I'm changing the rules," says Cat.  "Using my
privileges as temporary leader to change the by-rules
and thus allowing me access to Object X-Y."
   "No can do."
   Just then, Super Apathy Lad strolls by.  (Well,
okay, it's more of a slide, as his feet don't actually
leave the ground.)
   "Adamant Authority-on-Everything," says Cat, "I'm
relieving you of your inventory assignment.  Super
Apathy Lad, take over his shift."
   Adamant Authority-on-Everything opens his mouth to
say something.
   Cat clears her throat sternly, and the stubborn
superhero vacates the desk.  Super Apathy Lad installs
himself reluctantly behind the desk.
   "Why don't you sit down?" asks Cat.
   "Meh," says Super Apathy Lad.  His shoulders jerk
ever so slightly, as if to suggest he was thinking
(though not too hard) of maybe shrugging, just a
   "I'd like to sign out Object X-Y."

   "Adamant Authority-on-Everything?" says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "I thought you were on
Inventory Duty."
   "I was up until a few minutes ago," says Adamant
Authority-on-Everything disdainfully.  "Our new leader
replaced me with Super Apathy Lad."
   "Super Apathy Lad!" scoffs Sarcastic Lad.  "Now
that's the sort of quality decision I expect from the
   "That's not like Cat, though," says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "I suspect something is up her
   "Maybe her arm," interjects the caustic crusader.
   "Adam," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad, "did she say
anything as to why?  Was there anything she seemed to
be after?"
   "She wanted something called Object X-Y," says
Adamant Authority-on-Everything.  "I never heard of
it, but it's restricted access.  Only the Ninja.  I
kept telling her that..."
   "I've heard of it," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  He
toddles off, mysteriously mumbling to himself: "I've
heard of it, all right..."


   "You wanted to see me, UN?"
   "Yes, Cheesecake-Eater Lad, come in," said the
Ninja, pointing at a vacant chair with his mighty
ginsu blade.  Cheesecake-Eater Lad sat down quickly.
"We're just waiting for one more person."
   "Then wait no more!  For the clever, crafty, and
unabashedly fabulous Catalyst Lass is here!"
   "A simple hello will do," said the Ninja with a
snort.  He directed her to take a seat, which she did
at her leisure.
   The Ultimate Ninja walked out from behind his desk
and quietly shut the door to his office.  "A delicate
situation has come up," he said.  "Let me start by
asking how much you know about time in the
   "It passes like anywhere else," says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "It does and it doesn't," says the Ninja.  "Have
you ever noticed any irregularities...?"
   "What do you mean?"
   "I mean, time passing differently for different
   "Like Senses Lass being in jail for three months
for a few years now," offered Cat.
   "Oh, wow," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "I guess it
has been that long.  I never really think about it and
so it's never occurred to me..."
   "The Looniverse clouds one's memories, obscures
things so that these kind of anomalies don't stand
out," explained the Ninja.  "But they're not
anomalies.  Time is not something that's fixed, but
something that's always in flow, carefully calibrated
to work differently for different people, situations,
and authors.  In many cases, things happen in 'the
last ten years'.  Delicate retcons just kind of
conflate earlier adventures."
   "This is heady stuff," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   The Ninja nodded.  "As a ninja, I am in tune with
the flow of time and can sense disturbances in it,
like a pebble in the water."
   "Wait," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "How can you
detect something as small as a pebble in the water?"
   The Ninja did not address her question.  "Some
events are tied too deeply to a set time."
   "Like World War II," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad. 
"Or bell bottoms."
   "These cause a disturbance.  Here's a photo of
Flush Thompson, a football hero who served in the
   "What about it?" said Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "The photo's current," said Cat, tapping the tiny
date printed in the corner.  "Taken two days ago.  He
looks too young to have gone to Nam."
   "It was a huge defining part of his life, and then
it was gone," said the Ninja.
   "I'm sorry for him, I guess," said Cheesecake-Eater
Lad, "but what's the point, UN?"
   "This photo was taken yesterday," said the Ninja. 
The photo revealed a much older Flush Thompson wearing
war medals.
   "He got it back," said Cat.  "How?"
   "He's one of many," said the Ninja.  "I have been
sensing a great disturbance in the fundamental nature
of time itself!  Someone is screwing with the flow of
time.  This could be disastrous."
   "Then let's find this guy--" began Cheesecake-Eater
   "Or girl," piped up Cat.
   "-- or girl-- and stop him.  I'll see who I can
round up...!"
   "No," said the Ninja.  "This mission is too
dangerous to leave to just anybody.  That's why I've
called on you two, who are among the most capable and
trusted of my legionnaires.  You will accompany me on
this mission.  We dare not fail.  The Looniverse
itself is counting on us!!!"

   The trio of net.heroes approached their
Flight.Thingee with trepidation.  Unless Parking Karma
Kid was part of the group, it was common practice for
the legionnaire closest to the pilot's side of the
Thingee to drive.  When it became apparent that all
three of our intrepid heroes were keeping pace with
one another, shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder, the
Ninja cheerfully volunteered... 
   ... the fact that he would not, under any
circumstances, be driving.  Cheesecake-Eater Lad knew
better than to challenge the Ninja, and Catalyst Lass
knew better than to challenge the Ninja openly.
   "You know," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad to Cat as the
Ninja broke into a run (calling dibs on "shotgun",
albeit in a very ninja-like manner), "the last
half-dozen times that we've been on a mission
together, I've been the one who drove."
   "True," said Cat.  "I suppose that's because you're
a much better driver than I am."
   "Well, I..."
   "I'm no slouch, of course..."
   "Of course.  That's why I was thinking that, er,
maybe you could drive.  This time."
   "I'd be happy to," said Cat.
   "Good.  Cuz..."
   "Under normal circumstances."
   "But you have to admit, these are not normal
   "How so?"
   "The Looniverse itself is at stake.  If it was a
run of the mill net.villain, or a pizza run or
something, I'd say, sure, let me take the wheel.  But
when it's something this important-- obviously-- we
need to make sure we get wherever we're going quickly
and safely.  And I think the best bet for that-- shy
of Parking Karma Kid-- is you, Cheesecake-Eater Lad."
   "Well, when you put it that way," said
Cheesecake-Eater Lad as he climbed into the pilot's
seat, his jaw clenched in fierce determination.
   "I do," said Cat as she eased into a chair, tilting
it back into a luxurious recline.  "Wake me up when we
get there."
   "By the by, UN," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad, "where
are we going?"
   "Our computer has pinpointed the epicenter of the
temporal activity here," said the Ninja, "in
Net.ropolis Heights."
   "Net.ropolis Heights?" said Cat, who was just
getting ready to nap.  "But that's only a few miles
   "We took the Flight.Thingee because time is of the
essence," said the Ninja.
   "I was thinking, UN," said Cat, "what if there's
some kind of danger?"
   "Of course there'll be danger," said UN and CEL at
   "Yes," said Cat, "but then wouldn't that dangerous
person, place, or thing be expecting us to come
dashing right at them in a straight line?"
   "What else is there to do?" said Cheesecake-Eater
   "Let's sneak around," said Cat.  "Take a roundabout
way, scope things out, assess the situation and the
   "Like a Ninja," said the Leader of the LNH, his
eyes gleaming with dreams of katana blades and shadowy
hiding places.  "Cheesecake-Eater Lad, circle around
Net.ropolis Heights a few times before we go in."
   "Yes, sir!"
   Cat yawned with considerable satisfaction.

   As the Flight.Thingee finally came to a landing,
our heroes found themselves face-to-face with...
   "Yes," said the Master of Lagnetism.  "I decided to
wait here for you, so that I could show you how
powerless you are to stop my moment of triumph!"
   "And," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad, "since this
flashback is far too long already and this story long
overdue, we really need to get on with it!"
   "What have you done, you fiend?" asked the Ultimate
   "Behold!" said Lagneto.  "In my palm I hold... the
   "The what?" said UN.
   "The Slide-Rule of Time," said Lagneto, holding the
slide-rule for all to see.  "While I can use the
forces of lag to manipulate the flow of time, gravity,
and other forces on a small scale, the Slide-Rule of
Time gives me control over *every* aspect of time in
the Looniverse!"
   "Really?" said Cat.  "Cool!"
   "I am now unstoppable!"
   "Could I see it for a second?" asked Cat.
   "Sure," said Lagneto, handing it over to the maven
of persuasion.
   Cat quickly adjusted the scale, de-aging Lagneto to
an infant.
   "Quick, Cheesecake-Eater Lad, bind him with ropes
of cheesecake from your cheesecake shooters," she

   Wait, you say: Lagneto, (1) in custody, and (2) an
infant?  When did THAT happen?
   Well, suffice to say, gentle reader, (1) he
escaped, and (2) he got better.

   "This artifact is too powerful for anyone to
control," said the Ninja, once he had set the
Slide-Rule of Time back to its normal settings.  "No
one must know that we have it.  And certainly not any
of our fellow legionnaires."
   "Keeping secrets?" said Cat.  "Why?"
   "Don't be coy," said the Ninja.  "Imagine if Master
Blaster got his hands on it.  Or Curly.  Or Adamant
Authority on Everything.
   "No, it's far too powerful," he continued.  "As
leader of the LNH, I will be the only member allowed
to access it, in case there is an emergency.  And I
hope such a day never comes.
   "And the three of us," he concluded, looking first
to Cheesecake-Eater Lad and then to Catalyst Lass,
"will keep this a secret for the rest of our lives."


   Cat opens the box and sets the Slide-Rule of Time
on the Ninja's desk before her.  She shuts the door.
   From what she understands, the standard operation
of the Slide-Rule of Time-- i.e., resetting the
standard time-scale itself-- requires two things: one,
a zero-point, and two, a time period.

   "For example," explains Saxon Brenton as he smiles
warmly at the reader, "for a long time all events in
the Marvel Universe since the debut of the Fantastic
Four (the zero point) took place within the 'last ten
years' (the time period).  Retcons both large and
small enabled the zero point to 'slide' from 1964 to
1984 to 1994, and so on, hence the term, sliding
   "And I must assure you that 1994 was not chosen
because of its similarity to 1964, but rather because
the current zero point for the Marvel Universe appears
to be '94, not, as one would expect, 1997, which means
that the sliding time-scale for that Universe is, in
fact, the last thirteen years, as established in the
last issue of the Dan Slott run of THE THING (for the
text explicitly states it has been thirteen years
since Ben Grimm's second birth as a member of the
Fantastic Four, thus entitling him to finally go
through his bar mitzvah).  To get into slightly more

   "That's enough, thanks," says Cat.  "Okay, now
let's think about this carefully, Catherine.  It seems
that I will disappear at midnight-- should midnight
ever come.  That would be bad-- bad for the Legion
and, frankly, bad for me.
   "So," she says, starting to fiddle with the
Slide-Rule of Time.  "Let's set the zero point for the
instant I start playing with the Slide-Rule-- i.e.,
now-- and let's set the time period for...

         PART II

   Cheesecake-Eater Lad starts the long walk to the
Ninja's office.

   Snow touches the ground, eliciting shock and
   "It's snowing," says Sister State-the-Obvious.  "In
   "Maybe Net.ropolis is in Michigan," snorts Master
Blaster.  "Frickin' lame."
   "Look!  The snow's melting!"
   "Well, that was quick."
   "Spring is here!  Ooh, Rob, let's go on a picnic!"

   The finely-tuned nostrils of Fred the Receptionist
twitch as a subtle-- but unmistakable-- smell floods
the room: the smell of newbie.
   He looks up and makes a note of the girl in the
tight blue spandex.  She smiles.  He sighs and reaches
for the prerequisite stack of paperwork.  "Name?"
   "Lunchbox Lass," she says, giddier than a giddy gid
of giddiness, "the second.  Current possessor of the
Mystic Lunchbox!"
   Fred nods dimly and hands her the paperwork.  About
twenty seconds later, she hands it back, complete and
in triplicate.

   The picnic lunch of the caesar of cool and his
obvious bride is interrupted when the temperature
suddenly climbs forty degrees.
   "Oh my," says Sister State-the-Obvious, "it's like
we're in the middle of summer!"

   The new Lunchbox Lass introduces herself to Pocket
Man, Mainstream Man, and WikiBoy.
   "Nice to meet you," says Pok politely.
   "A pleasure," echoes WikiBoy.
   Mainstream Man shrugs and turns the page in his
comic book.
   "Thank you, I feel so welcome here," she says,
smiling.  Suddenly, she breaks out into maniacal
laughter.  "Little did you know that there was a
traitor among you!!!"
   She opens her lunchbox and kills WikiBoy with a
well-timed tuna salad sandwich.
   "Oh my God," she blurts out.  "What have I done? 
You've been so kind to me.  Taught me the meaning of
true friendship.  I'm sorry... so sorry..."
   She commits suicide by peanut-butter-and-jelly
   "Well, that was odd," says Pok.  "Mainstream Man,
I'm still blocked from editing... could you...?"
   "Just a minute," says Mainstream Man.  After taking
in the delightful two-page spread before him:
"WikiBoy, you're not dead."
   "What was up with that?" says the Legionnaire
Anyone Can Edit.
   "Hi," says Lunchbox Lass, apparently springing to
her feet.  "Don't attack me-- the traitor wasn't a
real me, but a robot duplicate.  I'm the real Lunchbox
   "Okay," says Pok, shaking her hand.  It falls to
the ground with a metallic clunk, wires exposed around
her wrist.
   "Wait," says Lunchbox Lass. "If I'm a robot...!"

   Meanwhile, Cheesecake-Eater Lad was still walking.

   "Now that that's resolved," says the apparently
human Lunchbox Lass, "we can get back to basics.  To
the reason why I became Lunchbox Lass in the first
   "Um, okay," says Pok.  "And why would that be?"
   Lunchbox Lass ignores the question, choosing
instead to marry her fiancé, who is suddenly killed by
a net.villain, causing her to angst and to try
everything to save him, including traveling in time. 
In the next ten seconds, she becomes a villain: Dark
Lunchbox Lass.
   "Oh, thank you, Pok, WikiBoy, Mainstream Man!"
   "What for?"
   "Are you going to kill me again?"
   "I'm no longer a villain now," she says.  "Your
love and support has shown me what being a net.hero is
all about.  It's time for me to start over.  To get
back to basics."
   "Wait a second," says Adamant
Authority-on-Everything, passing by.  "You still have
to answer for your crimes as Dark Lunchbox Lass."
   "I'll become a fugitive then!" says Lunchbox Lass. 
"And you guys will help me, right?"
   "Um," says Pok.  "No."
   "We hardly know you."
   "Look out, world!" says Lunchbox Lass.  "Because
we're the new a.outSiders!!!"

   On their way back inside, Sister State-the-Obvious
and Master Blaster are buried under a suddenly-falling
pile of leaves.
   "Autumn," opines wReanna.

   Meanwhile, Cheesecake-Eater Lad was still walking.

   "Now that I've cleared my name," says Lunchbox
Lass, "I can finally start the software company I've
always wanted.  Oh, shoot.  It failed."
   "Guys," says Pok in a low whisper, "let's just
inch... away... very carefully..."
   "Oh no!" says Lunchbox Lass.  "It's the most
powerful villain ever!"
   "Where?" says WikiBoy.
   "Never mind, I just defeated him in mental battle. 
Wow, I had no idea I had all these untapped powers in
this lunchbox-- the powers of a god!  Oh no, the
Looniverse itself is in danger, I have to save it!"
   She flies through the roof and is gone for
approximately four seconds; then she falls back to the
floor, battered.
   "What happened?" says WikiBoy.
   "I exhausted my god-like powers in the climactic
battle to save the Looniverse," explains Lunchbox
Lass.  "My lunchbox is empty.  And you know what this
  "You're retiring?" suggests Pok hopefully.
   "No, time for a new identity and a new attitude!!!"

   Just as they've dug their way out of the leaves, it
begins to snow.
   "Winter," says Sister State-the-Obvious cheerfully.
   "That-- is-- it!" says Master Blaster.  "I've had
it with this wonky weather!  And I'm going to put a
stop to it!"
   He rushes inside, passing Cheesecake-Eater Lad, who
is still walking.

   "The lunchbox is restored," says the blue-garbed
legionnaire, not for the first time in the last ten
minutes since her career began.  "And that means that
Lunchbox Lass is back in action, and it's time to go
back-- to basics!"
   Pocket Man pulls something that looks
disconcertingly like a giant mallet from one of his
pockets.  We will never know if the super-storage
stalwart was going to attack Lunchbox Lass or not, for
at that moment, she disappeared.
   "What happened now?" says Pok.
   "Ask WikiBoy," grunts Mainstream Man.  "He knows
   "She's been retconned out of existence," says
   "Thank God."

   Cheesecake-Eater Lad stops to tie his shoe.

   "Pok, Mainstream Man, Asshat," says Master Blaster.
   "WikiBoy, your name is now Asshat."
   "God damn it," says Asshat.
   "I need you three to come with me.  Something's
screwy going on with the weather.  And I think I know
who's behind it..."

   Cheesecake-Eater Lad opens the door.  "Cat!"
   The Leader Pro Tem is not phased by the portly
practitioner of the pastry arts' angry, haggard
expression.  "What is it, CEL?"
   "It took me damn near nine minutes to walk down one
hallway!  And I think we both know why!"
   "Maybe it's time you lay off the cheesecake?"
   "The Slide-Rule of Time!  You have it, don't you?"
   "What if I do?" says Cat.  "I'm the leader of the
LNH.  I'm entitled to use it."
   "What is this, some kind of power trip?  The Ninja
never used it!"
   "That we're aware of," says Cat.
   "He'd only use it if there was an emergency," says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "And that's what this is, an emergency."
   "What, because you don't want to disappear?" says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "That's why it took me eight
minutes... wait a second, eight?  It was just nine...
Cat, what time did you set it for?"
   "Cool your jets," says Cat.  "You've got it all

   "Here we are," says Master Blaster.
   "Are you sure about this?" says Pok.
   "It has to be them," says the caesar of cool. 
"They're up to their old tricks again!"
   "But we don't have any record of..."
   "Less talk," says Master Blaster.  "More action!"
   He kicks in the door.
   "Everything old is new again," he says.  "Isn't
that right... Pencil Rain?!"

   Domestic Lad picks up the Mystic Lunchbox.  Maybe
if they hide it somewhere, she won't come back...

   "But we haven't done anything villainous in years,"
say Hypnotist.
   "Hammer down," says Hammer Down.
   "And we don't have anything to do with the
weather," adds Rabid Child, hugging his/her breasts
against his/her body uncomfortably.  "Unless you count
raining pencils."
   "Rabbit ears," says Hammer Down.
   "I don't like this intrusion, or your accusations,"
asserts Rabid Child.  "Unless you have some
   "The name of your group is Pencil Rain," says
Master Blaster.  "And something screwy is going on
with the weather.  Ergo, it's your fault.  Now, are
you going to keep whining about your rights and fair
trials and evidence, or are we going to have a fight
   "Alright," says Rabid Child. "If it's a fight scene
you want, it's a fight scene you're going to get!!!"
   "You've only got two songs in you," says Master
Blaster, narrowing his eyes dramatically.  "And this
is number three."

   Domestic Lad approaches the Inventory Desk. 
"Super-Apathy Lad, I'd like to check this here mystic
lunchbox into the inventory.  Um, Super-Apathy Lad? 
Okay, uh, I'll just kinda slip it in there.
   "Super-Apathy Lad?  What happened to all our

   "So," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad, "what you're
saying is that by freezing the time-scale to the last
ten minutes it gives us time to find the others and to
prevent this from happening to anyone else."
   "That does include me," says Cat.  "But I would
never use it selfishly.  I think you know me better
than that, Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  I take my
responsibilities very seriously."
   "Well, that's a relief."
   Suddenly, the office door swings open.  It's
WikiBoy.  "Cat!  There's a... situation."
   "Well, out with it, WikiBoy."
   "I don't know how to begin..."
   "WikiBoy, you now know how to begin."
   "Well, Master Blaster, Pocket Man, Mainstream Man
and myself decided to look into the strange weather
we've been having recently."
   "What strange weather?" says Cat, looking out at
the spring flowers outside.  Suddenly, they are
crushed under a mountain of snow.
   "Oh," says Cat.
   "Ahem," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "We attacked Pencil Rain..."
   "But Pencil Rain doesn't really do weather stuff,"
says Cat.
   "That's what we all said.  Well, except for Master
   "So what happened?" says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "Oh, we kicked their asses," says WikiBoy.  "Before
we left, Master Blaster signed every item out of the
   "Double ahem," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "The lawyer's waiting outside for you."
   "Pencil Rain is suing us."

   The lawyer adjusts his purple toupee.  "What do you
mean, you don't want to sue you?  Of course they want
to sue you.  That's why I'm here!"
   "I just want what you want," says Cat.  "And that's
what's best for your clients.  When we beat Lagneto,
did he ever sue us?  No.  Does the Slobbering Grue
ever send us a subpoena?  Suing the LNH will
completely ruin your clients in the net.villain
   "They're not net.villains anymore," says the
   "In that case, it's also against their best
interest to sue the Legion of Net.Heroes.  We don't
exactly have a lot of money.  We have enough trouble
with creditors as it is."
   "And how is that my problem?"
   "If you sue, and win--"
   "Which we will."
   "-- the LNH will go out of business.  Then who's
going to protect the ordinary citizens of Pencil Rain
from net.villains-- especially once said net.villains
have learned that it's Pencil Rain that's gotten rid
of us."
   "I don't follow."
   "If there's no LNH for net.villains to fight, there
isn't much point in being a net.villain, is there? 
You'll destroy their livelihood.  Then, they're going
to want revenge.  And who will Pencil Rain turn to? 
Not to mention they'll be angry with the purple-haired
shyster that's responsible for it all."
   "Hmm," says the lawyer.  "Let me... talk to my
clients, see if I can get them to reconsider..."
   "It's in their best interest," says Cat.  "And

   "Wow," says Cheesecake-Eater Lad as he stocks the
inventory shelves, "I can't believe that you not only
got us out of that mess, but that you convinced Pencil
Rain to take up net.villainy again, and managed to get
them in the holding cell."
   "What can I say," says Cat.  "I have a knack. 
How's the inventory coming along?"
   "Everything's back except two things."
   "I've got one," says Cat.  "What's the other?"
   "The Freeze Ray."

   "Glad you could come, Catherine, CEL," says Doctor
Stomper.  "Apparently Master Blaster accidentally shot
himself with the Freeze Ray.  He's encased in ice."
   "Is it serious?" says Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
   "Not particularly," says Stomper.  "It will wear
off in about an hour."
   "Keep me posted," says Cat.  She heads into the
   Cheesecake-Eater Lad follows.  "Um, Cat?"
   "Forgetting something?"
   "I don't think so."
   "An hour will never pass," says Cheesecake-Eater
Lad.  "He'll be encased in that block of ice as long
as you have the Slide-Rule of Time set for the last
ten minutes."
   Cat nods.
   "You can't leave him in there."
   "I'm not going to."
   "You have to undo it."
   "And I will.  Just as soon as we've found Irony Man
and Fearless Leader."
   "Who knows how long that could take?"
   "Not more than ten minutes," says Cat cheekily.
   "It's Master Blaster," says Cat. "Wouldn't things
be a tad bit easier with him out of everybody's hair?"
   Just then, wReanna passes by with her offspring in
tow.  "We're going to see Daddy," says wReanna.
   "There, it's done," says Cat.  She adjusts the
Slide-Rule of Time.  "We're back to the last ten
years.  Okay?  Now go and put it in the inventory."

Later, in the office.
   "You did the right thing, Cat," says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "He's thawing nicely."
   "Small comfort."
   "You're not afraid, are you?"
   "What, of disappearing?  Nah."
   "You didn't do too badly today.  You'd make a great
   "What are you talking about?" says Cat.  "I'm the
one who put Super-Apathy Lad in charge of the
inventory room, I'm the one who's responsible for the
season change and thus ultimately responsible for what
happened to Master Blaster."
   "You're also the one who fixed everything," says
Cheesecake-Eater Lad.  "You did the right thing in the
end.  You think quickly on your feet.  And I think
that makes you a good leader."

Eleven fifty-nine.  Cat's bedroom.
   Cheesecake-Eater Lad was right, Cat thinks: I
didn't do too badly today.  But I wonder if I would
have switched the flow of time back if not for him. 
I'd like to think I would.  I'm not selfish...
   ... am I?
   And with that, she disappeared.

   Stomper rushes to Occultism Kid.  "I've found it at
last!  The reason everyone's disappearing!"
   "Thank the Ancient One," says Occultism Kid.  "What
is it?"
   "There was a huge flux of temporal activity at
midnight," says Stomper.  "Exactly the moment that
Catalyst Lass disappeared!"
   "Disregard it," says Occultism Kid.
   "Someone was messing with the flow of time itself
today," says Occultism Kid.  "I suspect that the
ripples will be felt for the next month, if not the
next year.  Keep searching.  Keep hoping.  But ignore
any temporal activity."
   "Shoot," says Stomper.  "And I thought we had


Catalyst Lass created by Elisabeth Riba.
Cheesecake-Eater Lad created by M. Jotham Millheiser.
Sarcastic Lad created by Gary St. Lawrence.
Master Blaster created by Martin Phipps.
Pocket Man created by Gary St. Lawrence.
Mainstream Man created by Marc A. Nicol.
Dr. Stomper created by T. M. Neeck.
Occultism Kid II created by Josh Geurink.
Ultimate Ninja created by wReam.
Adamant Authority-on-Everything created by wReam.
Sister State-the-Obvious created by wReam.
Super-Apathy Lad created by Jacob Lesgold.
Domestic Lad created by Ken Schmidt.
WikiBoy and Lunchbox Lass created by myself.

Lagneto created by Jef Kolodziej and used with the
permission of Martin Phipps.
Pencil Rain created by Jameel AlKhafiz, John Linnell
and John Flansburgh, used with the permission of the
former. :-)
Senses Lass created by Saxon Brenton and used with

Tom Russell


"Personality is everything that's false
in a human being."-- Sam Shepherd


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