LNH: Beige Countdown #10 (1/4)

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Wed May 28 23:34:03 PDT 2008

[Cover: Mynabird stands at the center of a star-dappled sky,
reaching toward a glowing light.  Captain Continuity, Captain
Rat Creature, Minority Miss and Kid Kirby are rushing toward
him from the corners of the page].

[Variant cover: Girlwatcher stares through the porthole of a
spaceship, watching Minority Miss smash a meteorite into
several pieces with one mighty blow].

                        [B E I G E]
                            1 2
                            1 1
              [ C O U N T # 1 0 D O W N ! ]





Five years ago...

    Chris Ankle slammed his closet door shut as his parents
entered the room.  His mind fumbled for another excuse even as
the look on his mother's face told him it was already too late.

    "Can we talk to you for a minute?" his mother asked, while
his father filled the doorway behind her.

    "Of course," Chris said, taking a seat on the edge of his
bed and willing himself to look as normal as possible.

    "We had a call from the school nurse today," his mother
began, sitting down beside him and smoothing out the pleats of
her skirt -- a rich burgundy, though in Chris' opinion it
failed to compliment the forest-green blouse she wore.

    "She was worried about the cuts and scratches on your
arms," his mother continued.  "She thought perhaps our cat
might be too aggressive, as this is the third time you'd told
her you'd been hurt while playing with her.  I wasn't quite
sure what to say, since of course we've never had a cat."

    "You're not hiding a cat somewhere, are you son?" his
father asked, staring at the poster of Vivienne Westwood
over Chris' bed.

    "Jason, please," his mother said.  "Now Chris.  We've seen
the cuts and the bruises and we've heard you tell us a hundred
times about walking into a door or tripping on the stairs, even
though we both know you've never walked into a door in your

    Chris took a deep breath.

    "If it's bullies, son, you can tell us," his father said.
"I'm not in favor of violence -- your mother could tell you I'm
more a lover than a fighter -- but I'd be happy to show you a
thing or..."

    "It's not bullies," Chris said, and stood up.

    "Whatever it is," his mother said, holding his gaze, "you
can tell us.  You know that.  Your father and I are always
here for you."

    Chris slid back the closet door.

    His mother gasped.

    "You're... you're a fashion designer?" his father said,
staring at the gold lame jumpsuit with the turquoise "G" in the
center of its chest.

    "No, Dad," Chris said, standing as straight as he could
manage.  "I'm... I'm a net.hero."

    No one said anything for a few moments.  His father looked
behind the jumpsuit into the back of his closet.

    "You're sure there's not a cat in here?" he asked.

    "I've been fighting crime," Chris said.  His mother seemed
to be concentrating on a spot at the back of the room.  "Facing
villains.  Well, henchmen.  Well, wanna-be henchmen.  I'm, uh
thinking of joining the LNH."

    "You play hockey?" his father asked.

    "He means the Legion of Net.Heroes," his mother said.
"What kind of... super-powers... do you have, Chris?"

    "Can you fly?" his father asked.

    "I look at girls," Chris said.

    His mother and father glanced at each other.

    "We know that, Chris," his father said.

    "We've always known that, dear," his mother said.
"As a matter of fact, when the school called, we thought this
might be another... incident..."

    Chris sighed.  "Let me show you," he said, walking around
his bed and drawing the curtains away from his bedroom window.
His parents followed.  "See that girl down there?"

    "The one with the long black hair and the... the
miniskirt?" his father asked.

    "She's five-foot, four inches tall and weighs 114 pounds,"
Chris said.  "Her measurements" -- Chris blushed a little as he
continued -- "are 34-26-38.  She's wearing a size 4 dress from
Banana Republic, though it would be a size 2 at the Gap.  Her
right leg is about half an inch longer than her left.  She
took dance and gymnastics as a child but hasn't practiced either
in years.  She gets her hair done on the Upper East Side,
probably Zola's, and her lipstick is smudged a little on the
left side of her face, looks like it might have been a martini

    His father was the first to speak.

    "Hell of an eye, there, son," he said.

    "You... you have a gift," his mother said.  "But are you
sure that being a super-hero is what you want to do with it?
Especially if you're going to come home with your hands torn
up and your beautiful face..."

    "Sure he's sure," his father said, giving Chris a little
punch on the shoulder.  "Your mother and I have always told
you to go after every opportunity that was out there for you."

    "With the exception of that Weissman girl," his mother said.
"Or just... don't stare at her so closely."

    "We're not going to hold you back," his father said,
looking at Chris as though seeing him for the first time.
"Nobody is.  If you have a chance to reach for the stars, go
for it."


         "Who Stole The Stars And Put Them In Your Eyes?"


Five minutes ago...

    "I reached for the stars all right," Girlwatcher said,
watching the constellations spill away through the rear window
as the Legion of Net.Heroes Starship _Jefferson_ tore a hole in
the heavens.  "I just wish I knew what the hell I was doing

    Girlwatcher leaned against the lightly curved steel railing
surrounding the observation platform.  He'd been surprised,
then flattered when Ultimate Ninja had asked him to join the
group of heroes heading into space to stop the Legion of Net.
Villains from breaking the worst criminals in the universe out
of a place called the Ultimate Black Hole.  It wasn't until
they'd left the solar system behind, traveling faster than any
object made by humans ever had, that Girlwatcher realized how
out of place he really was.

    "They've got Kid Kirby," Girlwatcher said, mostly to
himself, "who walks around in a suit of armor nobody can
understand with the power of a god in his pocket.  Captain
Continuity -- the guy can tunnel through planets, shrugs off
entire armies like they're not even there.  Deja Dude... I'm
still not sure exactly what Deja Dude does, other than argue
with everybody.  But he's supposed to be more powerful than all
the rest of them put together."

    Girlwatcher looked upward to the galley deck, where Deja
Dude was backing away from an angry Minority Miss.

    "That's disgusting," the dark-haired heroine said, jabbing
Deja Dude in the chest with her finger.  "I don't know why you
would even think that was appropriate."

    "And I don't know why you're offended," replied Deja Dude.
Like Minority Miss, he wore a form-fitting black spacesuit with
the letters "LNH" embossed in silver beneath his right
shoulder.  "I merely remarked to Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy that
when it comes to produce..."

    "Shut up!  I don't want to hear it!" Minority Miss said,
placing her hands over her ears.

    "...that I love big, juicy melons as much as the next man,
but there's nothing as delicious as a sweet, firm, Asian pear,"
Deja Dude finished.

    "I guess the tension is getting to everybody," Girlwatcher
said, as the sounds of Minority Miss pummeling Deja Dude rang
down from the galley.  "Cynical Lass keeps going on and on
about how she's not allowed to have a cigarette.  Skunk Girl
said she was going to kill Captain Rat Creature if he spent
another night running around on that giant exercise wheel.
And Ultimate Ninja... I think this is the longest he's ever
gone without slicing someone to ribbons.

     "But you seem to be doing all right," he added, turning
to his companion on the observation platform.

     "I'm, well that is, I'm really, that is I'm mostly, pretty
much generally, I think I'm fine, really fine, because that is
I always have something to do, and you know what they say, as
long as you have something to do, then you're never, not really
anyway, you're never at a loss for what you should be doing,"
Obsessive Compulsive Boy said, rocking back and forth as he

     Girlwatcher took a deep breath.  Rescuing Footnote Girl
from the killing machine called the Alt.Imate Ninja a few weeks
earlier had been the bravest thing he'd ever done.  Carrying on
a conversation with Obsessive Compulsive Boy ran a close second.

     "What is it that you're doing?" he asked.

     "Well," said Obsessive Compulsive Boy, clearly pleased to
the point of mania that someone had asked, "before we, I mean
all of us, before we left the Earth, I had a phone call, and it
was Contempo Weapons Lad, and you know the two of us, we were
part of a team, the Duo Contempo, and actually we were part of a
couple of other teams but that probably isn't important right
now, or maybe it is, but anyway he called and it was so
wonderful to hear from him because it's been a really long
time, you know ever since he put me in that box and shipped me
all the way to Ame.rec.a, which seems an awfully strange way to
get somewhere but it gave me plenty of time to think, which I
always say I never have enough time to think but he called and
I asked did he want me to go back to Alt.stralia with him even
though technically he was deported because the LNH was going to
send me into space and he said that was the best news he'd ever
heard in his entire life and that I should say hello to the
stars for him.  And so I am."

     "You're what?" Girlwatcher asked.

     "Saying hello to the stars," Obsessive Compulsive Boy
said.  "All of them.  I'm saying hello to all of them.  Every
star that we've passed.  I've logged forty-seven thousand and
sixteen so far.  Ooh, there's another one.  Hello!"

     "You do realize," Girlwatcher said, raising his voice to
cover the sounds of Deja Dude and Minority Miss shouting at
each other from the galley, "that there's more than four
hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, at least
a hundred million galaxies in the universe -- and that none
of them cares particularly if you say hello to them.  I mean,
Kid Kirby could lay waste to an entire planet, and..."

    "That one does," Obsessive Compulsive Boy said, pointing
at a tiny glittering dot against the sea of black.  "It is, at
least I think it is, I mean it certainly seems to be, that is
I'm reasonably sure that what it's doing, it's heard me say
hello and now what it's doing is coming here to see me."

     "What are you..." Girlwatcher asked, raising his binoculars
and staring in the direction indicated by Obsessive Compulsive
Boy, who had begun hopping up and down, his body bobbing in the
space.thingee's limited gravity.  "If we're staring out the
back window... and that star is moving toward us..."

     "Minority Miss!" Girlwatcher shouted.

     "Can it wait?" Minority Miss asked.  "I'm beating Deja
Dude within an inch of his life."

     "Please say no," said a bedraggled-sounding Deja Dude.

     "Something's coming," Girlwatcher said, never taking his
eyes from the window.  "A spaceship, by the looks of it.  And
it's your turn to deliver news to the Ultimate Ninja."

     "I must be getting old," Deja Dude said, as Minority Miss
flew off in the direction of the bridge and a tall, armored man
strode through the galley doors.  "I used to enjoy it whenever a
woman in a black jumpsuit slapped me around.  These days, that
kind of foreplay just makes me..."

     "Deja Dude!" thundered the armored man.

     "Let me guess, Kirby," Deja Dude said, regarding the seven-
foot tall warrior next to the refrigerator with a bemused smirk.
"You need my help in engineering again.  You know, it wouldn't
have killed you to take a few real life physics classes in
addition to all the comic book ones."

     Kid Kirby appeared flustered.  This was no easy task, as
his face was completely covered by a black-visored helmet, but
he had recently installed a synthetic pheremone-release system
in order to make conveying emotions easier.

     "The wielder of the Power Kirby knows the ways of
molecules even as he knows the transit of galaxies, for he has
observed them both with the detached gaze of a visionary and the
tender intimacies of..."

     "Please, Kirby," Deja Dude said, holding up one hand.
"The last thing I want is for you to tell me about your 'tender
intimacies' while wearing your scratch-and-sniff armor."


     "Okay," Deja Dude said.  "But if this Power Kirby of
yours is all-powerful and everything, why do you need my

     Kid Kirby hesitated.

     "He who claims mastery over the Power Kirby," he said,
"has...never been married."

     "What does that have to do with..." Deja Dude began, then
his eyes widened.  "You didn't.  You couldn't.  You wouldn't.
What am I saying?  Of course you did.  You installed a Mother-
in-Law Box as the ship's main computer, didn't you?"

     Kid Kirby hung his heavy helmeted head.

     "Oh, very well," said Deja Dude, rolling his eyes and
teleporting himself into the starship's engine room.

     "Dude!" said a heavyset man splattered in grease and
wearing a mutli-pocketed tool belt over his spacesuit.
"Thought you'd never get here."

     "Gaffer," Deja Dude replied, fanning the last wisps of
purple smoke left from his teleportation away from his face.
"What the hell have you and Kirby done with this place?  It
looks like a cross between Stephen Hawking's garage sale and
the home of one of those sad, cat-hoarding people you always
see on the evening news."

     "Thanks," Gaffer said, beaming with pride.  "Kirby had
most of this stuff in his lab, but I'm the one who put it all

     "I can see that," Deja Dude said, making his way around
what he hoped was not an enormous gray-green wad of chewing gum.
"Is that...are those... jumper cables connecting the flux
capacitor to the cold fusion drive?"

     "Barnardian jumper cables," Gaffer corrected.  "Only thing
in the universe that allows any one thing to be powered by any
other thing.  We use them to..."

     "I know what Barnardian jumper cables are," said Deja Dude
"But I have no idea what that thing is," he added, pointing to
what looked like a single gray pyramid rotating in space.

     "That's the Povich Antigravity Drive," Gaffer said.  "It
operates on the Torchwood principle."

     "The Torchwood principle?"

     "No one can work out how it manages to stay on the air,"
Gaffer said.  "And yet it does."

     "KIRBY!" screeched a metallic female voice.  "WHERE ARE

     "That's the Master Ethernet Relay Intelligent System
computer," Gaffer said.  "Calls herself MERIS.  She's a bit

     "Leave her to me," Deja Dude said, snapping his fingers.
The room lights dimmed, and Deja Dude's spacesuit rewove itself
into a red velvet smoking jacket.  The sounds of Barry White's
"Love Serenade" purred from an unseen sound system.

     "If there's one thing I know," Deja Dude said, his voice
lowering to match the singer's, "it's how to handle the ladies."

     "Good luck with that," Gaffer muttered, shaking his head
as he left Deja Dude alone with the computer.  "I think I liked
that guy better when he was a sheep."

     It wasn't until Gaffer entered the spaceship's atrium and
saw his fellow heroes flying, leaping and (in the case of
Captain Rat Creature) scuttling to their battle stations that
he realized they were under attack.





     "Two hundred miles and closing," Obscure Trivia Lad said,
his metallic face reflecting the amber letters that scrolled
across the monitor before him.

     "It's just as we *@#$%^&* suspected," Innovative-Offense
Boy added, scowling at a rounded, fish tank-like monitor on
the other side of the bridge and wishing for the thousandth
time that the Legion had incorporated state-of-the-art
technology into the design of the _Jefferson_'s bridge, rather
than raiding a local antiques store.

     He squinted at the tiny blinking square on his screen.
"A Cinereus-class carrier of the Christicantthinkofagoodname
Empire," he concluded. "The same *@#$%^! kind the Imperial
fleet reported stolen shortly before we left the Earth."

     "Never trust an anthropomorphic alien koala to do a man's
job," said the Ultimate Ninja, sitting with his fingertips
pressed together in the captain's chair at the center of the
bridge.  "Any response to our hail?"

     "None yet, sir," Linguist Lass replied, placing one hand
over the tip of her headset mike.  "They'll be within taunting
range in approximately 45 seconds."

     "Reduce speed, and tell Kid Kirby to ready our first-strike
capability," the ninja said, as the unidentified spaceship
appeared in the central viewscreen, a pale dot beside the gray
ringed planet and its moons.  "What kind of firepower can we

     "Limited at this range," said Innovative-Offense Boy,
staring into what looked like an old-fashioned kintescope.
"But it can put two hundred starfighters in the field in
under ten minutes.  Unless Mynabird's made a deal with
*@#$%^& Manga Man, though, there's no way he'll get enough
qualified pilots to..."

     "We've entered taunting range.  Incoming transmission,"
Linguist Lass broke in, as the giant viewscreen blurred with
static, only to be replaced by a spinning, three-dimensional
"LNV" logo superimposed over the image of an exploding
volcano.  The monitor's speakers began to throb with the sound
of Guns n' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

     "I'll give this to the Legion of Net.Villains," said
Parking Karma Kid, as the volcano symbol faded and the sleek
black helmet and scrolling yellow visor of Mynabird filled the
viewscreen.  "They don't skimp on the production values."

     "Legion of Net.Heroes!" growled Mynabird, his deep,
throaty bass reverberating throughout the bridge.  "You claim
to protect the people of Earth!  And yet what have you done to
defend its people against hunger?  Against war?  What have you
done to protect them from the collateral damage caused by your
constant battles against others like yourselves?"

     "The Legion actually has a fairly comprehensive insurance
policy," Obscure Trivia Lad began, before Ultimate Ninja held
up his hand for silence.

     "Perhaps you wish to know our master plan?" Mynabird said.
A scrolling ticker at the bottom of the viewscreen read, "LNV
"Very well.  First, we will exterminate your advance army.
Then, we will release those who are unjustlly imprisoned within
the Ultimate Black Hole.  Our combined forces will bring order
and justice to all the civilized planets within the 28 known

     "He's launching fighters," Innovative-Offense Boy reported.
"But they're not *@#$%^& moving into attack position.  They
must be waiting for something..."

     "And then... and only then... I WILL STRANGLE EASILY-
SKULL FOR A CATBOX!" Mynabird shouted, cackling like a drunken
raccoon as he shook his gauntleted fist at the camera.  "I will
gouge out his eyes with a rusty soup can lid and dip each of
his fingers in liquid nitrogen before snapping them like
carrot sticks and pour rancid goat milk down his... what?"

     The villain paused, as a tall, redheaded woman -- the
living virus known as Vector Prime -- whispered something into
the side of his helmet.

     "Oh, very well," Mynabird said.  "And we'll extend our
rule over the universe.  I thought that sort of went without

     "Ready to transmit response, sir," Linguist Lass said.
"Would you prefer the usual 'You'll never get away with this,'
or would something along the lines of 'We'll see you in Hell'
be more suitable?"

     The Ultimate Ninja rose from his chair.

     "Tell them," he began, and muttered something in Japanese.
Linguist Lass gasped.

     "What did the Ultimate Ninja say?" Obscure Trivia Lad

     "Something that would make Innovative-Offense Boy blush,"
Linguist Lass said, as she relayed the ninja's words.

     "Defiant words from a defeated foe!" Mynabird said.  "I
look forward to filtering your ashen remains from my ship's
engines.  In the mean time, I leave you with this."

     Mynabird's face disappeared from the viewscreen, only to
be replaced by the image of preternaturally pale pop singer
Rick Astley singing and dancing on the streets of an unnamed
European city.

     "Oh Obscure Trivia Lad's God!" Obscure Trivia Lad cried.
"That Mynabird is never going to give us up!  Nor will he ever
let us down!  He will never run around and desert us.  He will
never make us cry... though that would seem to work to our
advantage," the android added, stroking his metallic chin.

     "That video isn't the only thing he's throwing at us.  Hang
on, everybody," said Parking Karma Kid, jerking the wooden
ship's wheel to the left.  "I'm taking evasive action!"

     The ship's deck pitched, causing Innovative-Offense Boy to
tumble head over heels and Linguist Lass to be thrown from her
seat -- only to be caught by the outstreched liquid metal arm
of Obscure Trivia Lad.

     As the face of Rick Astley shrunk into the corner of the
viewscreen, the heroes gasped at the sight of a massive chunk
of frozen rock sweeping past the bow.

     "Where the @#$%^&*(* did that come from?" Innovative-
Offense Boy said.  "Did we wander into an asteroid belt?
Or did Mynabird decide to throw a really big @#$% rock at us?"

     "Not just one rock," Obscure Trivia Lad said, returning
Linguist Lass to her seat.  "Somehow... some way... the LNV
is ripping apart the ring that surrounds that planet, and
is sending all of it right at us.  Obscure Trivia Lad is
guessing it is the work of that telekinetic cat, Barrage."

     "Bad kitty!" Linguist Lass shouted at the viewscreen,
which had clouded over with hundreds of chunks of rock and ice.

     "No kidding," Parking Karma said.  "Violating state,
federal and interplanetary law is one thing, but violating the
laws of physics... well, sir, that's just not cricket."

     "I agree," the Ultimate Ninja said, taking his seat and
pressing a small red button on the armrest of his chair.

     "Kid Kirby?" the ninja said.  "Execute Plan 717."

     "You guys actually came up with a plan in case a cat with
mental powers heaved part of a planet at our spaceship?"
Linguist Lass asked.

     "Several plans, actually," Innovative-Offense Boy said.
"But Plan 717 is one of those all-purpose #@$%^& plans for when
somebody does something that really, really pisses the Ultimate
Ninja off."

     Linguist Lass took a look at the stormclouds gathering
over her leader's brow and swallowed.

     "I am so not forgetting his birthday again this year,"
she said.





     Minority Miss checked the seals on her helmet for the
third time and waited for the panel behind her to slide open.
When it did -- the air of the room rushing out like someone's
last breath -- she found herself floating in space.  Not
floating, she reminded herself.  She was a super-hero.  Heroes

     "Remind me again what Plan 717 is," the cheerful voice of
Captain Rat Creature buzzed through her earbuds.  "Is that the
one where we murder all the Jedi?  Or the one where we have to
keep Mr. Furley busy until Janet can get Chrissy and Jack out
of the bathtub?"

     "It is the plan wherein Minority Miss must contend herself
with yon swirling mass of devastation... you and Captain
Continuity must take this fight to its source... and he who
carries the burden of the Power Kirby must do what he must do,"
said Kid Kirby, activating a button on his armor that shifted
his arms and legs into an heroic pose.  "Look not upon my work,
lest ye despair."

     Handle the asteroid storm by herself?  Minority Miss
opened her mouth to complain, then looked at Kid Kirby, who
had flown off to confront the stream of starfighters pouring
from the city-sized enemy carrier, and at Captains Continuity
and Rat Creature, who were preparing to attack the carrier

     "Good luck," she said, then added the phrase every
member of the Legion of Net.Heroes used only in the most dire
and critical circumstances.  "May your death serve to benefit
all life in the universe, rather than the sales of this issue."

     "Amen," said the other three heroes, leaving Minority Miss
alone to face a tidal wave of planetary debris.

     "Now let's see," Minority Miss said, as a marbled chunk of
iron and ice trailing carbon dioxide vapor like a bride's train
tumbled end over end toward the heroes' spaceship.  "Which of my
powers would work best at getting rid of a whole bunch of flying
rocks?  I could use the invisible force field, but I always end
up forgetting where it is.  I could transmute the rock into
water vapor, but there's always the chance the water could react
explosively with one of the other elements that's floating

     "Any time you're ready, Minority Miss," Captain Continuity

     "There's the psychic Tholian Web... but that one gives me
a migraine every time I use it," Minority Miss continued, as
the jagged edge of one asteroid edged closer.  "I could use my
command of the electromagnetic spectrum to take control of the
magnetic field surrounding the rocks, but there's a good chance
that could mess up communications with the ship..."

     "No need to worry about communications," said the voice of
Parking Karma Kid.  "Seeing as our spaceship is about to be
smashed into a million little pieces a minute or two from now."

     "*@#$%^& it," Minority Miss said.  "I'll just hit the
@#$%^&* thing."

     She wound up and slammed her fist into the center of the
asteroid, which cleaved into five smaller fragments... all of
which continued to plunge toward the spaceship.

     "Now I remember what my mother used to say about hitting
asteroids," Minority Miss said, shaking her fist.  "She told me
it's better to shove, not punch, or you end up getting little
bits of cosmic crumble all over the place.  And that none of
this would have happened if I'd settled down with that boy from
next door and gone to dental hygeine school."

     Minority Miss flew from asteroid piece to asteroid piece,
placing the palms of her hand on each and pushing it back
toward the gray planet.  Her efforts seemed to work, though
not for long; each planetary fragment stopped after a few
thousand yards and snapped back, as though tethered to a
bungee cord.

     "*@#$%^ing Barrage," Minority Miss grumbled.  "If we ever
make it back to Earth, I'm not wasting any more of my Saturdays
volunteering my time at the mutant animal shelter.  I need to
find a way to..."

     Her words, and most of the air in her lungs, disappeared
in a moment as something heavy and hard and human-shaped hit
her in the pit of her stomach with a force that made the
asteroids around her feel like slow-pitched softballs by
comparison.  It wasn't until her helmet unfogged that Minority
Miss could see what it was that had struck her.

     "Plummet," she gasped.

     NEXT: Captain Continuity vs. the LNH!  Minority Miss vs.
Plummet!  And the star-shattering arrival of... Don Ho?

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