LNH: 58.5 #21

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Sat Jan 26 23:58:55 PST 2008

"We need more net.a.humans to help us install--" Dramatic Pause
Lass plugged a small device into the television, which came to
life showing some diagrams.  Sammy and Daniel whistled.  "This."

"I'm sure Contraption Boy and Analytic are very impressed", said
Blackbird, "but for most of us, these diagrams are completely
meaningless.  Care to educate us?"

Contraption Boy was the one to speak up, however.  "It's a
mesh-networked, AI-powered hive of force field generators.  They
would work together to compensate any kind of attempt to get
past them.  Matter, energy, anything... although this one seems
to be programmed to let sunlight through."

"For a very strict definition of sunlight, yes", said a soldier
who had just arrived.  "We don't want to kill everyone in there,
after all.  If we let in the right kind of solar power,
Net.ropolis can exist as a closed ecosystem for some
time... well, until they run out of food and water, I guess."

"Wait a minute", said Bonnie.  "You seriously want to isolate
the whole city?"

"Those are the orders from the President, madam."


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


                     Shielded In My Armor

                       by Lalo Martins

                   Part 4 of Beige Twilight



"I don't think you 'closed ecosystem' would work", said Locked
Room, her eyes closed, her fingers calculating on air.  "Too
many people, the rate of oxygen consumption--"

"Yes", said Fran.  She took a deep breath and moved to sit in
front of the New Misfits.  "But about 50 miles east, we have a
colony of algae that are able to process CO2 very, very fast.
They would do it even faster if they had more CO2 to process,
and if they were in shallower water."

"I see", said Green.  "You want me to ask them to move.  I'm not
sure they will, though.  The waters near Net.ropolis are too

"We have a few more net.as helping with that", said the soldier.
"While you're guiding them, they will be cleaning up the rivers
and E Bay."

"You can do that?", asked Howie K.  "How come you haven't done
it yet, then?"

The soldier and Triangle Lad both looked to Dramatic Pause
Lass.  She looked back at them, not really wanting to answer.
Then: "It's pointless, if the city keeps throwing more pollution
on it.  We have been put on stand-by, so to speak; as soon as
the government managed to cut down on new pollution, we'd
appear, do the clean-up, and, I won't lie to you, generate a lot
of good-will from the public.  But now, this happened..."

The soldier interrupted her.  "We're counting on the isolation
itself.  Once the city is cut off, and under the invaders'
power, we believe the polluting industries will see no point in
continuing their operations.  By simple logic, the ones who
refuse to spend on reducing their pollution are the ones
motivated more by immediate profit."

"Car traffic will probably stop too", Triangle Lad added, "since
they will have nowhere to import gas from."

"Wow", said Howie.  "Who'd have thought something good would
come out of all this..."

"For some definition of 'good'", Blackbird said.  "Less
pollution or no, I'm sure you wouldn't want to be stuck in there
with them."

"I'm sure you can't contain an entire LNH", said Smiley.  "They
have their Stomper, their Contraption Man, even Kid Kirby.  I'm
sure they'll figure out a way to bypass it."

"I don't think so", said Sammy.  "I'm no science genius, but,
assuming the generators are positioned correctly and power
requirements are always met, I can't see a way to get past it."

"Even all forms of teleportation I know about would be stopped",
added Daniel.

"And that's where the two of you will help", said the soldier.
"You'll tell us exactly where to put them."

"The whole thing seems a bit pointless tho", Blackbird
observed.  "I mean.  They're invading from another dimension,
right?  Why wouldn't they just open another portal somewhere
outside the force field?"

"Our scientists say they can't", said Triangle Lad.

"It seems their dimension is too different from ours", the
soldier explained.  "Even some of the laws of physics are
different.  So their inter-dimensional technology can't 'tune
in' to our plane.  They got here by random chance, according to
the readings we got from their gate; it was a blind shot, and
the chances that they do it again are astronomical.  Which means
it's not impossible to defeat them, in the longer term; if we
can destroy their portal, they will be cut off."

"And who the sprok are you?"

"Sgt. Lauro Graziani, Loonited States Army", he saluted.

"And related to Dramatic Pause Lass", added Sammy.  "Although a
bit... estranged I think?"

"You do realize you're creepy", she said, forgetting to make a
dramatic pause.  "Yes, we're first cousins.  Not that you should
care, yes?"

Lauro smiled.  "The Blakes are very catholic", he said.  "Church
every week and all that.  And for probably centuries, the
Graziani were as well.  So Fran's parents are the pride of both
families.  My dad, on the other hand, never quite did fit in.
He converted to neo-paganism in the 80s, and finally married a
girl from a traditional strega family.  If you ask me... it's
not really such a big difference.  We're as serious with our
beliefs as they are.  It's just a matter of... La Chiesa Madre,
or La Vecchia Religione."

"You say that again when you die and discover you're condemned
for eternity", she said, getting a little red.

He just smiled.  "Or maybe you say that again when *you* die,
see what it's like on the other side, and feel very stupid."


"This is the last stage of the plan", said Sgt. Graziani, almost
two days later.  "Everything else worked, with relatively few
incidents.  Now it's just placing the actual generators, and
making sure "Evil LNH" members don't take them out until they're
activated.  We're splitting in a number of small teams for
this part."

"You do realize", said Howie K., "I'm a very intelligent bird,
with an IQ above human average, and Bonnie is a veteran LNHer
from the early days?"

"And that is relevant how?"

"I don't see why you need to repeat what we already know."

"Force of habit.  Military procedure.  Nothing meant by it."

"If you say so."

"All right then.  You will be working with one of the small
net.a.human teams PANIC has been training, and myself."  He led
the two of them through the crowd in the airbase where the
conversation was happening, to four people in blue costumes who
were chatting with each other.  "Meet Solid, Liquid, Gaseous,
and Plasma."

"Wow.  What do you call yourselves, the Falsific Four?"

"The United States of Matter", informed Solid.


"We're not even the campiest", said Gaseous, who was obviously a
pretty girl.  "There is a team composed entirely of
culturally-relevant Native-Americans."

"That's not camp", disagreed Liquid.  "A bit heavy-handed on the
PC maybe, but there is campier."

"Whatever", said the bird.  "Can we get to work?  I'm ready to
kick some Evilverse a--"

"The goal of the mission is not having to", Bonnie interrupted.
"Plant the generators and get the sprok out."

"Spoilsport", said Solid.

During the ensuing fight with the Evilverse versions of Kid
Kiwi, Perdition, and Hyperbolic Boy[*], the team would learn
that the Evilverse also had its own version of P.A.N.I.C. -- the
Technologic and Extra-Human Recruiting, Repression and Oversight
Regiment, which employed anyone with powers or super-equipment
who wasn't "elite" enough to be accepted in the LNH.

[*We assigned Evil Procrastination Boy too, but he got there
after the fight was over -- Evil Footnote Girl]

"Keep fighting", said Howie K. to no one in particular.  "The
Sarge should be done with the device any moment."  Moving like a
wuxia movie on acid, he took down 13 red kiwis before he could
finish the sentence.  "Red kiwis", he said, going through a few
more.  "When something is supposed to be green, only someone
really stupid would make it red.  Next thing you know they'll be
using guns."

"Ah", Perdition said.  "So it's the one in uniform who's doing
something important and we should be stopping?  Thanks for the
tip."  She leaped through the field in Lauro's direction, but
was stopped by Solid, much violence resulting.

"I thought Perdition could summon demons?  Ours at least?", said
Liquid, in the others' general direction.

"Don't give her ideas", said Bonnie.  "She's a scary enough
fighter on her own."

"Maybe being in a different reality makes it harder?"

"Or maybe, being evil, she only summons them in the morning to
eat them for breakfast.  Or maybe when they summoned her to Hell
to fight for them[*], she actually did stay, fight, and kill
them all.  Who knows.  Who cares."

[*In the absolute classic Misfits series -- Evil Footnote Girl]

A loud *thump* interrupted her, as Howie K. knocked out Evil Kid
Kiwi.  "Yeah baby!  Who says I can get no satisfaction?"  He was
soon surrounded by the last 30 or so red kiwis still standing.
"Oboy.  Here we go."

"Wait just a minute there", Bonnie said, approaching them.
"Howie just knocked out a few hundred of you guys, and your
leader.  Do you really think you can handle him?"

The kiwis looked at each other in doubt.

"I mean, wow, hundreds.  He was like a flash."

The kiwis nodded.

"Who knows?  Maybe you were even hit already and haven't noticed
due to the adrenaline."

"Kiwi kiwi, kiwi kiwi kiwi kiwi", one kiwi kiwiid to the next
kiwi.  The translation would be roughly, "you know what?  I
don't feel so good."

"Seriously", she continued, "do you really think you're better
than all of them?"

Some kiwis just dropped on spot.  Others ran away.  Howie
quickly took care of the few that remained behind.  "How did you
just do that?", he asked.

"Bandwagon effect.  What, you thought I had no powers?"

"I just never seen you using it before."

"It tends to be rather discreet.  And most of our fights don't
have enough enemies for it to work.  I did use it against the
Lion Pack tho."

"Fools", said Hyperbolic Boy, throwing Plasma's unconscious body
to the ground.  "We're equipped with the most sophisticated life
sign trackers, thanks to the unbelievable Doctor Stomper.  You
knock out one of us, another thousand will come to investigate,
all of them more powerful than anything you can imagine!"

"I think he means they'll send either a heavyweight, or a
platoon of soldiers", interpreted Bonnie.  "We should--"

"Device is ready", said Lauro.  "Now just wait for the sign and
press the--"

A pure energy blast from the sky cut his sentence short,
knocking him back about 200m towards the city.

"Kid Kirby!", Bonnie exclaimed.  "Wow, your Evilverse costume
really sucks."  Perdition just laughed, as the cosmic-powered
evil-LNHer flew down to where Lauro landed.  Howie followed him.
"What's so funny?", Bonnie asked, while also running towards
Lauro and the evil LNHer.

"That name.  What's a 'Kirby' anyway?  It's such a stupid name
for one of your most powerful members."

"Yeah?  What's yours called then?"

"Why, Lord Loeb, of course."

"Evilverse", she shook her head.  "Figures."  She felt her hair
stand on end, as she passed the point where the force field was
forming.  "Was that the force field?"

"Indeed", said Gaseous, fiddling with the generator, some
distance from her.

"Why did I just walk through it then?"

"Because this generator isn't active yet, so the field is

"Well, don't just stand there, turn it on!"

"I don't know which button to press.  I can probably work it out
in a few minutes, but we don't have a few minutes.  If Lord Loeb
figures this out and flies out of the field, all is lost!  The
whole system of having the generators *outside* the field so
that the Evil LNH couldn't reach it--"

"Yeah, and now Lauro is inside and can't reach it either."


A few seconds earlier, the remainder of the New Misfits had just
reunited, and were approaching Dramatic Pause Lass to ask about
their teammates.

"Hi Blackbird", she said, then turned her head down to press
some buttons on her tablet computer.  "We're about to turn on
the fields."

"What's the word about Bonnie and Howie?"

"I was just checking.  They were in a fight with some Evilverse
guys, but it shouldn't be a problem."  She typed some more and
turned very white.


She looked at him.  "Lauro was shot.  Bonnie and Howie are
inside the field, running in his rescue."  And a sound
punctuated her sentence, of the field starting to form.

"You can't lock them in there!"

"You think I don't know?", she said, and stopped to swallow.
"It's my cousin in there!"

The New Misfits assembled into action-readiness, without any
word being spoken.  "We'll go get them."

"Blackbird... if you're in there when the field closes, we can't
get you out.  You'll be stuck with the Evil LNH for however long
it takes."

"Besides", said Analytic, "the field is already forming.  We
couldn't get in there in time."

Dramatic Pause Lass made a face, like she was trying to lift a
huge weight.  "I'll hold it open for you.  But you have to
decide now."

"Nothing to decide", said Blackbird, running towards the field.

And the field hummed shut, a tiny shimmer in the air, and
everybody in eyesight stopped to marvel at it -- and in that one
moment, the New Misfits ran through it.  Then it closed.


Except for one place, that is.  One place where the generator
couldn't be activated.  Liquid was furiously studying the
buttons, his brow sweating.  Bonnie could see the
P.A.N.I.C. reinforcements in the horizon coming to get
Perdition, Hyperbolic Boy, and the unconscious kiwis.

"Come on", she said, "come on!"

Liquid's face lightened in triumph, his hand raised, his face
changed again to surprise and pain, and Perdition's claws
emerged from his chest.  She laughed.  "Your encouragement comes
too late!"

"I wasn't talking to him".  Bonnie looked very hard at the
generator.  "Come on!  All your brothers are on!  You're
AI-based, no?  So will you want to be the only one left behind?
That wouldn't do, would it?"

And the generator turned on.


Howie had used the moment when Lord Loeb was distracted by the
force field, to drag Lauro inside an abandoned car.  "Well", he
said.  "The good news is, you're not bleeding too much, so we're
not leaving a trail."

"That would, *COUGH*, be the *only* good news, right?"

"The field seems to be turning on."

"Oh, grazie, old gods!"  He tried to move his hand towards his
pocket, but the arm was too badly broken.  He made a face and
tried the other hand; burned.  He almost screamed, but held it
back, and coughed loudly instead.  "How bad is it?"

"Third-degree burns all over, more broken bones than not.  I
want to say it will be all right, but right now, my best hope is
giving you whatever kind of death you prefer to have."

"Wow.  Your bedside manners are great."

The bird shrugged.  "I figured you for the kind of guy who likes
it straight."

"Figured right.  And I'm not afraid to die.  But dying now
would be a meaningless death."

"Don't say that.  You sacrificed yourself to turn the field on.
That's a hero's death."

"I'd agree if I agreed with the field at all.  As it is, I think
it's a coward's choice, and I'm not prepared to die for it.
Help me out here?"

"What are you trying to do?"

"I have a small statue in my pocket.  A god I've chosen to
worship and who has been pretty good at protecting me.  I want
to do a small ritual."

Howie dug into the charred uniform and produced a small black
figure.  "Is that it?"

"Yes.  Thanks."

"Aha", said Lord Loeb, tearing open a door.  Howie threw himself
at him, taking him by surprise and knocking him back a bit.

As he prepared to blast the kiwi that was charging in his
direction, he was hit in the head from behind by Bandwagon
Chick.  The three of them fought for a few seconds, and then the
car our heroes were trying to protect exploded in a strong red
light, and an awful noise like a thousand death screams.


 Lieutenant Francesca  Dramatic Pause Lass    mine
   "Fran" Blake
 Meredith Samuels      Analytic               mine
 Daniel Hunt           Contraption Boy        mine
 Blackbird Jones       Blackbird              mine
 Sgt. Lauro Graziani                          mine
 (unpronounceable)     Locked Room            mine
 Old Ugly                                     mine
 Bonnie Chique         Bandwagon Chick        Sue Clark's
 Green Delaware        Tree-Hugging Kid       mine
 Kiwi Kiwii Kiwi       Howie K.               mine
 Trey M. B. Gantt      Triangle Lad           mine
 Sue Jagger            Smiley                 mine
 Blur                  Blur                   mine

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