LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #24

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 3 18:40:14 PST 2008

[LNH] Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #24
[2nd post. ARGHH! Reading left-to-right: Aye Are Gee Aitch Aitch 'Arghh' 
The first posting came through pretty well on the email addresses, but 
was cut off just at the end of the first story on google groups, making 
me think the end-of-first-story indicator I used may have been acting 
as some sort of command rather than just plain text.  Can anyone with 
a working knowledge of these things confirm or deny this suppossition?]
Continuity note: The first story happens before _Beige Countdown_ #7. 
The second story has its own unique gripes with continuity and happens 
whenever it darn well wants to, but should not be trusted with sharp 
___  ___________________________
| |-|                           \
| |-| []                        /            #24 
| | | [] egion of               \ 'Attack Of The Vampire Cows' 
| | | []__ [] []   []  []       /     (Intermezzo - Act 2) 
| | | [___][ \[]et.[]__[]eroes  \  (A Beige Countdown tie-in) 
| | |      []\ ]   [ __ ]       / 
| |-|      [] []   []  []       \ written by and copyright 2008 
| |-|___________________________/         Saxon Brenton 
| | 
| | 
| |  The cover shows the trio of Fearless Leader, Ripping Dancer, 
| |  and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad standing back-to-back 
| |  with defiant expressions on their faces as they are surrounded 
| |  by the menacing silhouettes of cows with evil looking glowing 
| |  red eyes. 
| | 
[A Silver Age-style roster of characters in the form of a series of mug 
shots in little circles runs down the side of the title page:] 
Roll call for this issue: 
  o Fearless Leader! 
  o Ripping Dancer! 
  o You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad! 
These are just some of the super-powered do-gooders who belong to an 
organisation that thinks that running around with your underwear on 
the outside is acceptable as a fashion statement.  They are: the 
Legion of Net.Heroes! 
     The sun set.  As normal the city of Net.ropolis lit up with its 
regular act of defiance against the fall of night.  A hundred million and 
more lights turned on: some by human hand, others by automated light 
sensors or timers, and some because the buildings they were installed 
in were both self-aware and afraid of the dark.  Incandescent bulbs and 
fluorescent tubes alike turned the city skyline into a rainbow coloured 
silhouette of light. 
     Except for down here.  Here, at the edge of the old stock yards 
an elder darkness still held sway.  Scattered around the place where 
some lonely streetlights, and those that still worked stood defiantly 
on guard.  A group of five figures approached this shadowed area.  They 
turned on their flashlights and worked their way through a gap in the 
chain link fence into the darkness beyond. 
     "So, what is this place again?" one of them asked. 
     "The old slaughterhouse," was the reply. 
     Fourth Wall Lass managed to find Parking Karma Kid hanging out with 
some of the other Legionnaires in the cafeteria.  They were discussing 
politics: like how the Net.ahuman Responsibility Act was affecting the 
Legion's resources to actually fight crime as opposed to acting as a 
training centre for net.ahumans, about what Hexadecimal Luthor's chances 
of winning a third presidential term were like, or about how Barak Obama 
was playing the 'Evil Twin From Another Universe' card against Hillary 
     "Hey, PPK," she said.  "I need your help with a Christmas story." 
     Parking Karma Kid and the others all stared at her.  "Er, you 
do realise that Christmas was over a month ago, don't you?" said 
Convoluted Origin Man. 
     "Oh sure," said Fourth Wall Lass, unconcerned.  "But you know how 
erratic Brenton's grasp of time is." 
     They briefly considered this, then nodded.  Yes, they did know. 
     "So what's up?" asked Parking Karma Kid as he stood up from the table. 
     "I need to arrange for a ride for this guy back to visit his family 
in Sig.ago..." she explained as they walked out of the cafeteria. 
     "The slaughterhouse?" said Cassandra sceptically. 
     "Yep.  The slaughterhouse," repeated Mickey.  "The old stockyards." 
The young man gestured expansively with the hand that was holding the 
bottle of cheap wine, which, strictly speaking, he wasn't quite old 
enough to be drinking legally. 
     "What, the stock exchange used to be open air?" said Lee. 
     "Nah, not the stock exchange," countered Mickey.  "This used to 
be where the city killed livestock and dressed the carcases for food 
more than a century ago."  He looked around with a sort of proprietorial 
satisfaction.  "These days not many people remember that it was here. 
Heck, not many people even know the city used to kill cattle this close 
to the central business district, let alone the exact address." 
     Mary snorted cynically.  "These days not many people would know 
what a proper slaughterhouse is.  Not now that food grows in the 
supermarket and a lot of people don't know what a plough is," she added 
sarcastically.  "Say the word to them and the first thing they'd think 
of was the slasher flick rather than food." 
     "Point," agreed Mickey.  "Here we are," he added, as they stepped 
out onto the waterfront side of an abandoned complex.  As the other 
college students glanced around Mickey manhandled a rusty old 44 gallon 
drum out into the open and started building a fire in it. 
     Cassandra stared at the shining (and gaudily lit) towers of the 
central business district and the outline of the Emperor Norton Bridge, 
both only a few scant miles down the shoreline, then took a swig from 
the bottle of rutgut that she'd brought with her.  She turned to hand 
the bottle to the person next to her, realised that it was Lee, and 
passed it to Mary instead.  Lee, being a mannequin-American, was 
physically incapable of eating or drinking. 
     Mickey now had a fire going.  Cassandra asked, "So why hasn't this 
place been built up with condominiums or something?" 
     Mickey shrugged.  "Who knows.  Maybe there's some legal problem 
tying up the sale of the land.  Maybe the city wanted it retained for 
parks but hasn't got enough money to develop it yet..." 
     "Or maybe," said Ben, holding up the flashlight under his chin to 
cast weird shadows over his face, "it's =haunted=."  They all laughed. 
     "Then how come the Abandoned Warehouse District hasn't been 
developed yet either?" sniggered Mary.  "Damn big haunted house." 
     "To damn big haunted houses!" said Ben, raising a plastic tumbler, 
and the teenagers all drank a toast.  Well, all of them except Lee, of 
     "So Mickey," said Lee.  "How goes the resistance to the Net.ahuman 
Responsibility Act?" 
     "Ah, very good question," grinned Mickey.  "We decided that the 
best way to protest was to register." 
     "You're drunk!" 
     "No, really.  See, it's a cunning plan!  If *everybody* registered 
for the NRA, and uses similar or even identical names, then the whole 
process will get bogged down in its own paperwork.  Then the people who 
want to control the net.heroes or even run them out of town under the 
excuse that everyone's supposed to be a competent superhero won't be 
able to tell who's who." 
     "Uh-huh," said Cassandra in a sceptical voice.  "But are you sure 
it's all a plot to take control of the net.ahumans?" 
     "Yes, we are," said Mary.  "It's not the first time that someone's 
tried to railroad the net.heroes.  Clinton tried it when he was 
president, with the LNH Registration Act." [the main points of which are 
addressed in: _Ultimate Ninja_ #10, _LNH_ #79-80, _Giant Sized LNH #6_, 
_Continuity Champ & The Drizzt's Defenders_ #12 and _LNH_ #83 - Footnote 
     "I thought it was supposed to be his wife, Hillary, behind that," 
said Ben.
     "I thought it was supposed to be the Hellary, the Evil Twin of his 
wife from another dimension," said Lee.  [_LNH_ #83 - Footnote Girl]
     Mickey crossed his arms.  "Well I heard that both versions of 
Hillary were supposed to be alien transvestites," he said sarcastically. 
"So obviously you can't trust everything you hear.  [_Untold Tales of 
the Looniverse_ #5 - Footnote Girl]  "Anyway, that's the plan.  Good 
old Gandhi style passive resistance."  He took another drink of his 
beer and smiled.  "At least, that's what things'll look like publicly."
     "There's more?"
     "Dude," said Mickey as he waved his hand in an expansive gesture. 
"Of course there's more...  OW!"
     "What's wrong?"
     "Damn!  I banged my knuckles against the wall, and there was a nail 
there.  I think I've cut myself."
     "Better put a tissue on it to staunch the blood."
     "Yeah."  Mickey rummaged for a disposable tissue (because he was 
under thirtyfive years of age and as a result the idea of having a 
handkerchief in his pocket, which would get used and then taken home to 
be washed, but in the meantime be carried around covered in snot and 
germs... well, that was just way too disgusting to contemplate).  As he 
did so the blood continued to slowly seep from the graze.  A single 
drop formed and dripped from his hand.
     Watch the drop of blood.
     It falls in cinematic slow motion.  Sounds become distorted as 
time slows to watch in horrified fascination.  It glistens in the 
firelight as it falls.  Down down down.
     And then the blood hits the ground in a classic splash pattern. 
     "Say," said Mary as she huddled deeper inside her overcoat.
"Is it getting breezy out here?  It feels cold all of a sudden."
     "Well, it is on the waterfront," said Ben.  "Sea breezes and all 
     The shadows seemed to darken and the air grew more chill.  And 
then a laugh of "MOOOOOOhahahaha!" filled the night.
     Ripping Dancer was idly surfing the TV channels at random: 
     "...Speaking in Phila.deletefile.ia today, Al Gore made further 
warnings about the increasing rate of use of fossil fuels, and renewed 
his call for more research into greenhouse friendly technology.  He noted 
that since the completion of both the America funded Brazilian space 
elevator and the Sino-Indian financed elevator in Kenya in the early 
21st century, mining in the asteroid belt has brought in a 6.3% increase 
in raw resources.  This has had a considerable impact in the growth of 
the booming Asian economies, as well as easing America's dependence on 
Middle-Eastern oil reserves.  However, Mr Gore warned that there was 
a corresponding downside to the availability of space based resources, 
and that consumers ran the risk of falling into the bad habit of using 
petroleum products simply because they are now more plentiful and cheap 
than at any time since the OPEC oil embargoes of the 1970s.  He said 
that the increasing release of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants 
made it more important, rather than less, to develop environmentally 
friendly transport options..."
     Ripping Dancer turned off the television with a sigh.  More grim 
news.  Sometimes it seemed that all there ever was was grim news.  It 
didn't make sense for that to be the literal truth of the matter: news 
services could hardly keep their ratings up if they couldn't keep their 
audiences' attention.  But ever since Ripping Dancer had started working 
as a net.hero, she had gotten into the habit of keeping a weather eye 
out for trouble, and sometimes it wore you down.
    She stood up and wandered out of the room and into one of the 
computer labs.  There she found You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, 
who seemed to be busy with some project on the computer.  "Hi," she said. 
"What are you up to?"
     "Hey there.  I'm just doing beta testing of some software for 
wReamhack," he explained.  "After the LNHHQ got trashed by Mynabird's 
net.villain army, wReamhack decided to install a 5.0 version of the 
wReamscape web browser.  [Version 1 was in use as far back as 
_Birds Fly_ #3 - Footnote Girl]
     She grinned.  "Only the best tech for the Legion, huh?" 
     "Well, for a little while at least," said YNHMHELad.  "After the 
bugs are ironed out wReamhack plans to release this version to the 
public as well.  He says the revenue from the previous versions of 
wReamscape have always been good, and he doesn't want Microsoft 
catching up..."
     Fearless Leader looked in.  "Face front, soldiers!  We've got a 
report of net.ahuman assault occurring down by the waterfront.  Dancer, 
Hard Enough, you're with me for the emergency response!"
     You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad quickly saved his work and 
ran after the other two to the flight.thingy bay, where their transport 
had already been prepped.
     As Fearless Leader navigated the comparatively short distance to 
the waterfront, he outlined the situation.  "A call forwarded to us 
from emergency services says that a bunch of kids are being attacked 
by cows with glowing red eyes."
     "So," mused YNHMHELad, and began to count off possibilities on his 
fingers.  "Robot cows with lasers built into their eyes...  Demon cows..."
     "Genetically engineered monster cows with glowing eyes because 
their creator though it would look cool," added Ripping Dancer.
     "And of course the ever popular 'they only caught a brief glimpse 
of the attackers in all the confusion and are merely reporting cows'," 
concluded YNHMHELad.
     "We'll soon find out, because we're here," said Fearless Leader. 
As they zoomed in Ripping Dancer spotted something in the searchlights 
of the flight.thingy.  "There!  Those kids down there are being menaced 
by...  Are those cows wearing opera capes?"
     "Hard Enough, you're on point," ordered Fearless Leader.
     "Okay," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, and then banged 
his head hard against a wall of the flight.thingy several times to absorb 
some kinetic energy.  "Ha!" he cried.  "Where do we go!?  What do we do!? 
How do we WIN!?"
     "Down there," pointed Ripping Dancer, who knew what YNHMHELad was 
like once he was primed for a fight.
     You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad looked out the window. 
"Right.  I knew that," he said, before bounding back to the exit hatch 
of the flight.thingy, throwing it open, and launched himself towards the 
crime scene taking place several stories below.
     Cassandra and Ben had been backed up against a wall and were being 
menaced by two daemonic (for those of you with Anglophilic pretensions) 
cows with big pointy fangs.  The cows' eyes glowed maelifically (also 
for those of you with Anglophilic pretensions), and they wore little 
opera capes that fluttered disturbingly in the night wind.  One of the 
cows stepped forward...
     Only to be pounded down into the wooden planks of the wharf when 
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad landed feet first on its head. 
"Heeere I come to save the daaaWHULP!" went YNHMHELad as the cow used 
its preternatural strength to whip its head back and fling the Legionnaire 
away.  The cow rose to its feet, grew horns, whipped around, caught 
YNHMHELad in the stomach and hurled him further down the wharf.  The 
two horrid entities were moderately surprised when You're-Not-Hitting-
Me-Hard-Enough Lad immediately stood up and berated them.
     "Foolish monsters, you do not impress me with your glowing eyes 
and flappy cape things..."
     "MOOoooo!" snarled one of the cows menacingly with its fangs bared.
     "...OR your badly scripted dialogue!" continued YNHMHELad.  He 
launched himself at one of them, using some of his own strength and speed 
to catch the creature by surprise.  He grabbed it by the shoulders, and 
in defiance of all principles of mechanics and leverage hefted one cow 
into the air and threw it at the other.  There was a satisfying crash as 
the two creatures impacted.
     Ripping Dancer found another of the teenagers.  "Are you okay, 
miss?" she asked.
     Mary startled, then looked around anxiously.  "I'm fine, but I 
can't find Lee.  I think he lost his head."
     "He panicked and ran off?"
     "No!  I mean he lost his head!"
     There was a nasty moooing and then something was catapulted to land 
at their feet.  It was a body.  Ripping Dancer couldn't help but notice 
its decapitated state.
     "Ahhh!  They've still got it!" cried Mary.
     "Got what?" demanded Ripping Dancer as the body began to move and 
grope about as if searching for something.
     "His head!"
     Ripping Dancer blinked.  "He's a mannequin!" she gasped in realisation. 
     "Yes!  He's a mannequin-American!  Jeez, I would have thought a 
superhero would be more familiar with non-human biology," exclaimed Mary 
with a touch of hysteria.  "What, are you a protein chauvinist or 
     The mooing came closer.  Ripping Dancer looked up to see the 
     Okay, here at least was something she could handle among all the 
confusion and weirdness.  Ripping Dancer gyrated her body and with only 
the smallest of efforts rent asunder the planks beneath the monster's 
hooves, causing it to crash through the wharf and into the water below. 
There was a splash, and then nothing.  Ripping Dancer braced herself, 
half expecting the creature to come bursting back up through the 
timbers, but all was quiet.
     Well, not quite all.  Ripping Dancer could still hear the distant 
sounds of Fearless Leader's BIGGUN blasting away at somewhere off to her 
left.  "I think we should evacuate you back to the flight.thingy," she 
     "We've got to find Lee's head first!"
     Ripping Dancer gave her a stern glare.  "I don't think we have time 
for that."
     Whatever Mary was about to say was cut off by the sound of Fearless 
Leader yelling, "Move!  Move!  Move!" and herding some of the other 
college students around the corner.  Fearless Leader paused at the edge 
of the building and shot a few rounds of suppressive fire.  Then he 
spotted Ripping Dancer and said, "Dancer, we've got four confirmed 
hostiles, who are all cows, plus they've got control of Hard Enough."
     "What, mind control *again*?"
     Fearless Leader nodded grimly.  "Better get these kids to the 
     You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad rounded the corner and made 
a wild swing at Fearless Leader.  Fearless Leader had more than enough 
sense not to let him connect if at all possible.  Menacing bovine figures 
ambled in behind, with maliciously amused looks on their faces - to the 
extent that the features of cows can reproduce human expressions as 
subtle as malicious amusement.
     Fearless Leader didn't bother trying to shoot YNHMHELad square on. 
The enthralled Legionnaire had already absorbed so much kinetic energy 
that his strength and resilience were at superhuman levels.  Instead 
Fearless Leader backed away, in the direction away from the flight.thingy 
which was hovering at the edge of the wharf, shooting at YNHMHELad's 
feet in an attempt to lure him away.  Possibly he could even trip Hard 
Enough up with some damage to the planks.
     "Dancer, get those kids out of here!" he repeated.
     Ripping Dancer hesitated, then waved the civilians in the direction 
of the rope ladder that dangled from the flight.thingy.  "Move!" she 
ordered them.  Then she turned back to Fearless Leader.  She had an 
idea.  A real Horatio Nelson last ditch plan: if she pulled it off then 
victory was within grasp, but if it failed then 'you're gonna get yelled 
at' was far too mild a description for the way she'd get her hash raked 
over the coals.
     "Let me try something," she called to Fearless Leader.  "Just hold 
him for ten seconds."  And once again she began to dance.
     When she'd first joined the Legion Ripping Dancer had boasted that 
she could rip through anything.  It occurred to her that 'mind control' 
should be included in that.  Now, how to affect a non-physical?  She 
hadn't tried that before.  Maybe a twist of the hip, like so?
     You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad stopped playing his deadly 
game of hide and seek with Fearless Leader.  He went, "Huh?" and had 
time enough to look befuddled before an enraged cow in a cape attacked 
him from behind and flung him into the air on its retractable horns.
     "Whaaa!" went YNHMHELad.  He landed with a thud, then rose up and 
said, "You are *so* going to regret that."
     Fearless Leader had already changed targets, and YNHMHELad 
cheerfully threw himself back into the task of grabbing one cow and 
hurling it into the others.  This time they were prepared for the 
attack, and transformed themselves into vapour.
     "They can turn into mist as well?" said Ripping Dancer.  "What, are 
they supposed to be vampires or something?"
     "Well, duh," said Mary, who along with Mickey was leading the still 
headless Lee towards the flight.thingy.  "They tried to bite Lee, then 
got all agro when all they got was a taste of his plaster."  She pointed 
to the fang marks that scoured Lee's neck.
     And suddenly it all fit.  The eyes.  The fangs.  The capes.  Hell, 
even the one that she'd dropped into the sea and didn't come back again: 
tidal flow must technically count as running water.  "God, I've been 
dense," Dancer berated herself.  Then, to the kids she said, "Keep 
moving.  I've got another idea."  Then she raised her voice and yelled. 
"Fearless, they're vampires.  Keep them busy.  I've got something else 
I want to try."
     The vampire cows now turned their attention on her, despite the 
redoubled efforts of Fearless Leader and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-
Enough Lad to run interference.  Ripping Dancer grimly accepted the 
compliment.  Her success at freeing You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough 
Lad from their thrall had obviously been noted, and she was getting 
an upgrade as to the level of threat that she represented.  Well, they 
had to catch her first.
     Two of them turned to mist and bypassed YNHMHELad, leaving him to 
rush after them and yell, "No, you villains!  Attack ME!!!"  The cows 
resolidified and tried to trample Ripping Dancer.  She dodged one of 
them and leapt over the shoulders of the other with an agility that was 
literally superhumanly graceful.  Each move she made led the cows further 
away from the direction of the teenagers, so she played out the game a 
little longer than was strictly necessary.  In the end she was in range 
of some of the run down buildings, leapt on top of one of the lower 
rooves, and made her bid at endgame.
     What she had in mind was also a trick she hadn't tried before, but 
which should theoretically be within her wherewithal.  The problem here 
was scale.  Now, which would be easier?  Time or space, space or time? 
She had no idea; she hadn't really practised with either of them.  She 
made a snap decision and went for space.
     So, on the roof of an abandoned building, by the garish glow of 
the city lights, Ripping Dancer danced.  From the very start she could 
feel that she was working in the right direction, but the effect she 
wanted was huge and resistance to what she was trying to accomplish was 
correspondingly big.
     The vampire cows flew up to attack her.  Some of them turned into 
mist.  One of them transformed itself into a swarm of bloodsucking 
tsetse flies.  One of them made like a bonocon (a monster much like a 
bull, but with a deadly flatus attack) and used jet propulsion to launch 
its aerial assault at the Legionnaire.
     Too late, all too late.
     With one final burst of effort Ripping Dancer completed her task, 
and the heavens about Net.ropolis tore wide open.  Sunlight washed 
through.  Desert sunlight from the Saha.rec.  Glaring and hard and heavy 
in ultraviolet light.
     The vampire cows screamed and burned.  Within seconds of the arrival 
of the unnatural dawn they had been reduced to dust and less than dust.
     Fearless Leader walked over and called up to her.  "Hey, good job."
     Ripping Dancer was panting.  She looked wasted from the effort, but 
she also had a huge grin of exhilaration.  "Thanks."
     "You all right?"
     "Gimme a moment to catch my breath.  Then I'll close the hole."
     Fearless Leader glanced up at the jagged tear in the sky.  It was 
probably causing havoc across the city.  Nevertheless, he couldn't help 
but think that maybe there were other blood suckers elsewhere in the 
city who were being terminally inconvenienced by the unexpected arrival 
of daylight.  He grinned at her.  "Take your time," he said.
= conclusion of first story  
'One Semi-Obligatory Feel-Good Christmas Story, Hold The Onions'
  o Fourth Wall Lass!
     It was raining on Mongo that morning...
     (uh, no.  That's wrong.)
     The brilliant autumnal colours of Net.ropolis in late January 
held no joy for Dhillon...
     (Argh!  That's not it either!)
     (Thirty days has Septober, Maypril, June and Nowonder, all the 
rest ate bread and jam.  Except grandma, who rode a bike...)
     Dhillon didn't enjoy Hogswatch much these days...
     (No, let's run with that one.  I think it's the closest I'm going 
to get matching the mood and the season.)
     Dhillon didn't enjoy Hogswatch much these days.  Grief will make 
you do that.  He sat apathetically by the window and watched the 
snow falling outside.
     This was so stupid.  It had been years since the supervillain 
Brain-O had destroyed Sig.ago [_The Team_ #25 - Footnote Girl].  Dhillon 
was able to function properly the rest of the time.  So why was it that 
he always fell to pieces every Christmas?
     He leaned forward against the window pane and rested his head on 
the chilly glass.  Maybe it was the way that Christmas was touted as a 
time when families got together.  Although that was a description better 
suited for Thanksgiving, now that he came to think about it.
     Grief took its own time to pass, they said.  Yeah, well, he knew 
that.  But even allowing for that it still felt creepy as all get out 
to have it come back as regular as clockwork each year.  Nor was it 
particularly flattering that by now his reputation as the 'one who coped 
with stuff' was now '...except for at Christmas' and a number of his 
female friends were working together to make sure he got at least one 
pity lay each holiday season.
     There was a knock at the door.  Dhillon sighed.  "Coming," he said 
     "Don't bother, I've let myself in," said a female voice.
     "Hey!" exclaimed Dhillon in surprise and a bit of anger.  There was 
someone dressed in a superheroine costume.  "What they Hell are you 
doing in here?"
     "Hi.  I'm Fourth Wall Lass of the Legion of Net.Heroes," she said 
and showed her LNH identification.  "I realise that this might not be a 
good time, but there's something really important that you need to know. 
Also amazingly weird, but mostly really important."
     He stared at her.  Oh, what the heck.  Maybe it'd be good for five 
minutes or so of distraction.  "So what's up?"
     "Well, recently a bunch of comic entities had a disagreement. 
Again.  And history got changed.  Again," she said stepping further into 
the room and looking around.  Her eyes stopped when she saw his mobile 
phone lying on the table.  She pursed her lips, then shook her head and 
said to herself, "No, not that one."
     "And what has this got to do with me?"
     "You need to make a phone call," Fourth Wall Lass said, looking 
around again.  "But not on that phone."  She continued to scan the room. 
"With this one," she said decisively, walking over to a set of drawers, 
opening one, and dragging out his second mobile with a grin of triumph.
     "Hey!  Put that down!" he said, moving forward to grab the phone. 
She danced backwards out of reach, opening the cover and punching a few 
     This was getting too much.  "So what's so special about that phone?"
     "This is the phone that you still have your mother's number on," 
Fourth Wall Lass said seriously.  "Come on, answer already," she added 
in a mutter.
     "My mother's dead!" spat Dhillon, and made another - much angrier - 
grab for the phone.
     "Uh uh uh.  Cosmic entities changing history.  She *was* dead.  Ah! 
Finally," went Fourth Wall Lass and held the mobile up to Dhillon's ear.
     "Yes, who is it?"
     Dhillon's face went pale.  " mom? "
     Cut to Liz McKenzie's house in Sig.ago.  She was talking on the 
phone with the handset tucked between her shoulder and her chin as she 
stirred a bowl of plum pudding mixture.  "Dhillon!  Well, this is a 
pleasant surprise.  I was beginning to wonder whether you'd call at all."
     Dhillon felt his legs beginning to give way under him.  Fourth Wall 
Lass grabbed him and manoeuvred him into the closest chair, and stage 
whispered to him, "You've been busy, but you wanted to know if it was 
okay to come home for Christmas."
     "I... I've been busy, Mom.  But, I, uh, I wanted to ask if it was 
okay if I dropped in over Christmas."
     "Well of course.  Your sister's here with her family, but I'm sure 
we can fit you in.  Are you feeling alright hon?  You sound a bit funny."
     And no wonder, thought Fourth Wall Lass, considering how much he 
was weeping by this point.
     "Sniffles," he not quite lied.  "I've got a bit of a runny nose."
     "Okay then.  Just make sure you don't go bringing a case of the flu 
to the dinner table."
     "Sure thing.  I'll see you soon," he said.
     Fourth Wall Lass sat opposite Dhillon and watched him as he rang 
off.  He stared at the other side of the room, or perhaps through the 
wall at the street outside.  Then he fixed his attention back on her and 
said, "Bwah?"
     She shrugged.  "Sometimes weird shit happens.  Usually the 
net.ahumans are the ones who have to deal with it.  But sometimes it's 
the everyday people who cop it, and although that's not really fair 
because they probably won't even know what it is let alone how to deal 
with it, that's life.  At least in this case it was good news."
     "This happens a lot?"
     "Oh yeah.  Superhero class universe.  Intrinsically metastable. 
Not only does history keep changing, but every now and then the rules 
that history operates by change too.  Not as bad as the DCU, of course."
     "So.  My parents and my sister, and *her* family, and even my 
up-himself cousin are all alive again," said Dhillon carefully, as if 
breaking the idea into bite sized pieces and making a careful assessment 
of each one before moving onto the next.
     "Actually it's more like they were never killed in the first place. 
The destruction of Sig.ago never happened."
     "But I remember it happening.  Am I going crazy or something, for 
remembering something that never happened?"
     "You're remembering events which have been revised to have never 
     "I'm not going to pretend to understand even half of that."
     "That's cool," she said, standing up.  "Your prerogative, your 
decision.  In any case, we have to get you to Sig.ago."
     "Geez!" went Dhillon, suddenly realising what an undertaking that 
would be.  "Plane or bus?  Flying will be expensive in peak season, but 
the bus'll take forever,"
     "No no no no no no.  Getting you *there* is already taken care of." 
She dragged him to the window and pointed to the thing parked on the 
street outside.  "See there?  One Legion of Net.Heroes flight.thingy. 
All ready and waiting for you.  Getting back will be your responsibility, 
but you'll have plenty of time to make arrangements when you're there. 
For now, we get you packed.  So," she added, marching into his bedroom 
and grabbing a duffle bag.  "You need a few days worth of clothing, 
including socks..."  She opened a drawer and manhandled some balled 
socks into the light of day.  "And underwear," she added, opening 
another drawer and dragging out some briefs.  "And incidentally," she 
said, holding up the briefs for inspection so that the threadbare cloth 
and holes were plain to see, "You're going to need to buy some new ones 
of these."
     Dhillon facepalmed.  "How the Hell do you know about the state of 
my underwear!?  Having you been perving on me or something!?" 
     She just looked at him.  "I didn't know the first thing about you 
until this morning when I found out that you needed to go home to visit 
family.  But I'm Fourth Wall Lass, and I know stuff."
     "I'll go shopping when I'm in Sig.ago," he said wearily.
     "Good.  And take your mother.  Mothers love to go shopping, and 
she'll be glad for the excuse to get away from all the cooking.  Now, 
toothbrush..." she said, heading off in the direction of the bathroom.
     Fifteen minutes later Fourth Wall Lass watched Parking Karma Kid 
fly off towards Sig.ago, with a passenger of one.  After clothes and 
toiletries had been packed and flatmates called to be informed of 
Dhillon's travel arrangements, there had still been things that Dhillon 
had insisted on taking.  Like the new GameTesseract(tm) game console that 
he had brought himself.  After all, if his sister's family was visiting 
as well,  then his seven year old nephew Peter would never forgive him 
for not bringing a GameTesseract(tm) to play with.
     She sat down on a bench next to Retcon Lad, who had been backup 
throughout the episode and watching from afar.  "Well," he said.  "That 
seemed to go all right."
     "Here," said Retcon Lad, opening a plastic container.
     "What are those?"
     "Strawberries.  I picked them this morning."
     "Oh, yum."
     "No, don't eat them!" he exclaimed.  He held one up over their 
heads instead.
     She looked at the strawberry, and then at his expectant face. 
"Shouldn't it be kissing under mistletoe at Christmas?"
     "It would be if the damn continuity mangling would let the seasons 
match up properly," said Retcon Lad with exasperation.  "Anyway.  Happy 
Hanukah, Fourth Wall Lass."
     "Merry Christmas, Retcon Lad."
     And afterwards they ended up eating the strawberries after all.
Character Credits:
  Convoluted Origin Man created by Badger (Matt Rossi).
  Fearless Leader is Public Domain.  Created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen).
  Fourth Wall Lass and Retcon Lad created by Saxon Brenton.  Dhillon 
McKenzie was an incidental character from _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #51.
  Ripping Dancer and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad created 
by Arthur Spitzer.  The former is Ask Before Using.  The latter is Public 
  Parking Karma Kid created by wRream (Ray Bingham).
Authors Notes:
     Why a story about vampire cows?  Because I read the _Marvel 
Legacy: 1970s Handbook_ and briefly developed a fascination with the 
'Bessie the Hellcow' entry, that's why.  Then, after the idea for a 
story about vampire cows settled into my head, the question arose: 
which Legionnaire(s) should fight them?  And Ripping Dancer's powers 
made her an obvious choice.
     Then the whole thing got stored in the appropriately-weird-ideas-
to-be-used-for-a-LNH-story-when-possible backlog, and didn't emerge 
again until I needed another relatively simple concept to build a 
Beige Countdown story around.  By which time it was pretty obvious 
that if I ever wanted to do a story focusing on Ripping Dancer it had 
to be set sometime before she was exposed as an agent of Manga Man.
     Mickey's plan to bog down the Net.ahuman Responsibility Act in 
paperwork and confusion was originally suggested by Lewis Himelhoch on 
the Howling Curmudgeons website as one way of handling Marvel comic's 
Superhuman Registration Act with lateral thinking and creativity rather 
than with mere superhero punchinnaface.  The second part of the plan 
involves hacker and techie types introducing worms into the database 
to selectively delete the identities of all the real heroes.
     You know, it only just occurs to me that nobody's done a roster 
entry for You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad yet.  Of course, the 
Legion hasn't posted a collated roster to the newsgroup for quite some 
time, but there are webpages and wikis with various degrees of up-to-
datedness.  Feel free to copy'n'paste this info.

NAME: You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad
  TYPE: Public Domain
  CREATED BY: Arthur Spitzer
  POWERS: Absorbs kinetic energy to boosts his strength (and to a 
     lesser extent, resilience, speed and dexterity): the more you hit 
     him the stronger he gets.  The rush of endorphins that he experiences 
     as his strength grows makes him increasingly heroic (or reckless) 
     as the fight proceeds.
  CATCH CRY: "No, you villains! Attack ME!"
  ENEMIES: He would *love* to have Plummet as his archnemesis, but 
     recognises that Plummet's obsessive hatred of Easily-Discovered Man 
     makes this an unlikely prospect.
  ADD NOTES: First appeared in LNHv2 #14 as one of those throwaway 
     characters that Arthur Spitzer creates for a gag, only to have Saxon 
     Brenton come along as say, "Hold up a minute, this guy has potential."
     Other significant appearances in: _ Limp-Asparagus Lad Special_ #3 ;
    _LNH Comics Presents_ #44 ; _LNH Comics Presents_ #501.2

Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3
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