LNH: Beige Countdown #10 (2/4)

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Thu May 29 21:35:04 PDT 2008





     "Why hasn't Kid Kirby wiped the sky clean of these things
yet?" Captain Rat Creature asked, his hamster's paws tearing
the sickle-shaped (and, he felt, wholly unnecessary, since they
offered no advantage in space) wings from an enemy fighter.

     "The Power Kirby is not to be used lightly," Captain
Continuity said, dropping like a diver onto the fuselage of
another craft and severing the nose cone with his feet.  "I'm
sure it troubles the Kirbian to use it to take even one life,
let alone the hundreds he's currently fac...ugggh!"

     The Knight of Continuity fell back as the cockpit of the
spaceship opened and the pilot squirted a sticky grey goo in
his face.  As the substance hardened in the chill of space,
Captain Continuity stared in disbelief at the face of the pilot.

     "Cheesecake-Eater Lad?" he gasped.

     "It's not Cheesecake-Eater Lad," Captain Rat Creature
said, his beady black eyes glowing red for a moment as he
blasted the chunks of cheesecake from Captain Continuity's
body.  "Not the real one, anyway.  Those cold, unfeeling eyes...
and the fact that he has only half a face...sort of gives it

     "Of course!" Captain Continuity said, shaking himself free
of the frozen dessert and smashing his fist into the faux
Legionnaire's face.  "Mynabird must have salvaged the robot
duplicates of the Legion when he captured our headquarters.
Did you get that, Kirby?  The pilots are all robots!"

     "Thank you, Captain," said the crackling voice of Kid
Kirby.  "I am now free to act...as only I CAN!"

     "Cover your eyes," Captain Continuity said, turning away
as a light brighter than any of the stars around them filled
the sky for a moment, as though the eye of God had opened and
closed.  When Captain Continuity looked again, a third of the
fighters that had been attacking Kid Kirby had vanished.

     "That's our cue," Captain Continuity said, smashing his
way through the river of light-spitting starships that issued
from the enemy carrier like bees protecting a hive.  As he
descended, the blinking crescent of the starship began to look
less and less like a city at night and more like the mass of
turrets, radar blisters, particle cannons and writhing, snapping
mechanical tentacles that it was.

     "Do you ever get used to this?" Captain Rat Creature
asked, as he dodged the pulsed fire of multiple lasers and
swooped down through the yawning yellow mouth of the starship

     "Which part?" Captain Continuity asked, grabbing two
starfighters by their tailfins and smashing them together like
a pair of cymbals.  "The soaring through the stars, gazing at
the infinite mystery of all creation surrounding us?  Or the
part where we bash it?"

     "The knowledge that everyone on your world -- maybe
everyone on every world -- is counting on you to succeed,"
Captain Rat Creature said, as the two heroes stood, back
to back, in the middle of the hangar.  Everywhere they looked,
gun barrels rotated, hammers slid back and laser swords ignited
as the army of robot duplicates formed a circle around them.

     "One of the first things they teach you in the Knights of
Continuity is not to let your powers make you think you know
what your part in the fate of the universe is going to be,"
Captain Continuity said, clapping his hands together.  A wave
of androids tumbled backward, and dozens of starship cockpits
shattered with the blow.

     "None of us will ever really know where we belong in the
greater scheme of things, any more than a plague germ or an
atom understands its power to destroy a city," he added.

     "I wouldn't have taken you for a fatalist," Captain
Rat Creature said, ears lowering and whiskers twitching as he
prepared to confront the horde.  "Are you saying that we're no
better than these robots?"

     "Hey!" said the robot duplicate of Special Bonding Boy,
using one hand to hold his shattered jaw in place.  "Some of
us have feelings, you know.  And at least we know how to
recycle our resources."

     "I used to volunteer at a nursing home on weekends,"
said the one-legged robot Pants Rabbit Lad.  "Before the whole
rebelling against humanity and slaughtering everyone thing."

     Captain Rat Creature blasted them both with his laser

     "The robots do what they're programmed to do," Captain
Continuity said.  "We get to choose.  That's what makes us

     "Now go," he added.  "Find Barrage.  Keep him from
destroying our ship.  I'll take care of this group."

     "That's what you think!" screamed the robot Tour Guide
Girl.  "I'll be leading your ass on an all-expense paid trip
through the seventh circle of Hell."

     "I've been there," Captain Continuity said, cracking his
knuckles as Captain Rat Creature sped away and the phalanx of
robots closed in around him.





    "Anybody else hear that *@#$%^&ing ticking sound?"
Innovative-Offense Boy asked.  "It's driving me @#$%^&

    "Obscure Trivia Lad's apologies," Obscure Trivia Lad said,
placing a six-inch model of a clock on the bridge console.
"Obscure Trivia Lad purchased this souvenir replica of the Beige
Clock Tower just before we left the Earth.  Easily-Discovered
Man Lite assured Obscure Trivia Lad that it would become a
collector's item."

     "I'm beginning to understand why Mynabird hates that guy
so much," Parking Karma Kid said.  "Personally I... hang on,
somebody seems to have placed an order of rings."

     The Legion's paragon of parallel parking turned the
starship's wheel this way and that as several more frozen bits
of planetary ring zoomed past the bow of the spaceship.

     "That was too @#$%^&* close," Innovative-Offense Boy said.
"Where the @#$%^&* is Minority Miss?  She's supposed to be
blocking for us."

     "We've lost contact with her," Linguist Lass said, studying
the instruments in front of her.  "It could be the rings
themselves... some of them have a pretty high iron content, and
they might be messing up our radio signals."

     The Ultimate Ninja swiveled his chair to face Innovative-
Offense Boy.

     "We need a miracle," he said.

     "I'm @#$%^&*ing working on..."

     "Now," the ninja said.

     "...Okay," Innovative-Offense Boy said.  "Tell Gaffer and
Substitute Lad to get up here right away.  And tell them to
bring @#$%^&*& Obsessive Compulsive Boy's Wii."

     The two heroes arrived on the bridge moments later, with
the small white game system in Gaffer's arms and Obsessive
Compulsive Boy clamped around Gaffer's leg.

     "Damn, that boy is strong," Gaffer said.  "I haven't felt
a grip like that since the time I had to wrestle Cate Blanchett
for the last danish on a craft services table."

     "Please oh please don't take my Wii I'm not entirely sure
what I've done to deserve this although probably if I thought
about it I would say that it maybe, just maybe possibly has
something to do with the fact that I used Cynical Lass'
brassiere for other than its intended purpose unless one could
generalize its intended purpose was to launch water balloons
from the observation platform which now in hindsight that is
looking back I realize was probably not a good idea in the
limited gravity of this spaceship but I really don't see why

     Ultimate Ninja walked over, bent down, and tapped
Obsessive Compulsive Boy above the bridge of his nose with
one finger.  The sidekick whimpered once and was silent.

     Innovative-Offense Boy pointed from the Wii to the
steering column of the starship.

     "Can you modify that @#$%^&* device so that it acts..."

     "...as a controller for the ship?  Sure," Gaffer said,
digging his Leatherman five-in-one tool from the belt around
his waist.

     "You act like you've done this before," Linguist Lass said.

     Gaffer smirked, his hands moving at unheard-of speeds (for
a union employee) as he dismantled the ship's wheel.

     "Lady, any techie out of trade school can turn his XBox
into his personal DVR, or a couple of PS3's into a parallel-
processing AI capable of rendering holographic porn," he said,
spinning the Leatherman around in his hand like a gunslinger.
"But it takes a real artist to mod a Wii."

     "Obscure Trivia Lad," Innovative-Offense Boy said, placing
one hand on the shoulder of the android navigator.  "I'm going
to need you to be a *&@#$%^& surfboard."

     "It is not what Obscure Trivia Lad's mother would have
wished for him," Obscure Trivia Lad said, his liquid metal body
elongating into the desired shape.  "Then again, Obscure Trivia
Lad's mother was not exactly pleased about the whole transition
to transhumanism, either."

     "Better make this quick," Linguist Lass said.  "Scanners
say a whole mess of those ring particles are headed this way."

     "Right," Innovative-Offense Boy said, as Gaffer placed the
shining metal surfboard above the Wii array and began wiring
its base.  "Substitute Lad, I need you to duplicate the powers
of the @#$%^&*( California Kid."

     Substitute Lad concentrated for a moment, then relaxed,
the eyes behind his mask taking on a vacant expression.  The
cry of seagulls and the pounding of waves seemed to echo in the
distance, and Linguist Lass was convinced she caught the fading
aroma of marijuana on the bridge.

     "Dude," Substitute Lad said.

     "@#$%^&*(ing A," Innovative-Offense Boy said, slamming a
compact disc into one of the slots on the control console.
"Now fly this mother@#$%^&er right through that asteroid
storm and bring us within firing range of the @#$%^& enemy."

     Substitute Lad nodded sleepily and hopped onto the
surfboard with feline grace, his every gesture adjusting the
pitch and yaw of the starship.  The other members of the bridge
crew strapped themselves into their seats -- with Linguist Lass
hauling the still-twitching Obsessive Compulsive Boy into
Obscure Trivia Lad's chair -- as the loudspeakers resonated
with the sounds of a ukulele and the voice of Don Ho.

     "Everybody knows I lead a happy life," the Hawaiian
crooner sang, as Substitute Lad surfed the ship on a high arc
that carried it dangerously close to two iceberg-sized

     "Got no troubles and I've got no wife
     "Freer than a bird in a banyan tree
     "I'm the original happy me..."

     Obscure Trivia Lad's miniature clock tower, Obsessive-
Compulsive Boy's toothbrush and a dozen other odds and ends
careened around the bridge as the starship barrel-rolled
through a canyon on one of the ring fragments and looped
around an ice formation on another.  Linguist Lass and Gaffer
became ill, and even the Ultimate Ninja gripped the armrests
of his captain's chair a little tighter than usual.
Substitute Lad paid no attention.  Like any California driver,
he was drinking a latte with one hand and sending a text
message with another while tapping his foot in time with the

     "My back is strong, my shoulders broad," Don Ho sang.
     "Ride the ocean on my big surfboard
     "Catching a wave bigger than a mountain high
     "Jump on the shore, I'm still dry..."

     An onslaught of rock and ice particles -- some as small as
marbles, others the size of Rhode Island -- hurtled toward the
ship one after the other.  One came so close that Substitute Lad
dropped his latte, splayed out his hands and allowed the ship
to coast down the carbon-dioxide vapor trail flowing from one
of the asteroids like Tony Hawk riding a half-pipe.

     "I do a lot of swimming when the sun is high
     "Do a lot of lovin' in the bare moonlight
     "Don't know if it's better in the night or day
     "But I'm very happy either way..."

     The ship broke free of the asteroid cloud, arriving on
the far side of the Legion of Net.Villains carrier.  As the
Jefferson's internal gravity stabilized, those on the bridge
who were still capable of looking could see a formation of
fighters in the far distance being decimated by Kid Kirby.

     "Bitchin' " said Substitute Lad, stepping off the
surfboard, which resumed the shape of Obscure Trivia Lad.

     Ultimate Ninja was the first to regain his footing.

     "Innovative-Offense Boy, you have the con," he said,
striding down the ramp that led away from the bridge.  "Tell
Ordinary Lady, Steak-and-Potatoes-Man, You're-Not-Hitting-Me
Hard-Enough Lad, Skunk Girl, Cynical Lass and Deja Dude to meet
me in the transmatter chamber."

     The ninja unsheathed his katana and ran his fingers along
the edge of the blade.  "We're forming a boarding party."





     Captain Continuity brushed a still-flexing robot hand
from his shoulder and surveyed the damage.  The hangar lay
ankle-deep in shattered android duplicates and smashed
fighters, its walls scorched by laser blasts, riddled with
bullet holes and dripping with something unpleasant that
had come out of the phony Pants Rabbit Lad when it expired.
He picked his way through the twitching, sparking wreckage
until he found the head of the duplicate No Sense of Direction

     "Which way is Mynabird?" Captain Continuity asked, picking
up the head.

     The head stuck out its tongue and blew an oily raspberry
at the Captain, who sighed and removed a flash drive from a
compartment on his belt.

     "I have all seven seasons of 'Full House' on this chip,"
Captain Continuity said.  "You can tell me where your leader
is, or I'll plug this into your brain and you can spend the
remaining moments of your life pondering what Alanis Morrissette
ever saw in Dave Coulier."

     "That way," the head said, nodding at a vertical passage
to the left.

     "Much obliged," Captain Continuity said, flinging the head
to the side and striking out towards the right.  He found the
layout of the carrier disorienting, designed as it was by alien
koalas who seemed to prefer large vertical spaces to horizontal
ones and whose corridors were laid out like the branches of a
tree, with no obvious path toward a bridge or command center.
Ignoring the handholds on either side of the tunnel, Captain
Continuity flew upward until he reached a small, spherical
chamber.  The moment he stepped inside, the floor and ceiling
panels irised shut.

     "Greetings, Legionnaire," cackled a high voice Captain
Continuity neither recognized nor welcomed.  "As you can see,
we've been expecting you."

     "Well, yeah," Captain Continuity said, testing the
strength of the chamber walls with his hands.  "I mean, you
threw a bunch of rocks at our spaceship.  That kind of thing
gets under a person's skin."

     A hole opened in the ceiling and Captain Continuity held
his breath, expecting gas.  Instead, a plum dropped to the
floor, bounced once, ricocheted off the far wall and bounced

     "I appreciate the gesture," Captain Continuity said, as
two more plums...then three...then seven...fell down, while
the first plum continued bouncing.  "But at this point a fruit
basket just isn't going to cut it."

     "That's where you're wrong, Captain," said the voice, who
sounded more relieved to finally be able to explain what was
going on than anything else.  "For as you have doubtlessig...
doubt-lessree...doubt...as you have realized by now, each of my
specially-treated plums gains an exponential increase in
velocity each time it comes in contact with a solid object!
In time, my Plums of Power will be moving fast enough to
penetrate even your indestructible hide!"

     Captain Continuity stared for a moment at the fast-
bouncing fruit surrounding him like the electrons of an atom.

     "Killer plums," he said.  "Right."

     "I'M THE GODDAMMED PLUM MASTER!" the voice cried.  "What
am I supposed to do, drop an anvil on your head?"

     "Look," Captain Continuity said, his right hand darting
out to snatch one of the plums out of the air.  "Here's how I
roll.  First of all, I don't like it when people start throwing
the word 'penetrate' around, especially in reference to

     He crammed the plum into his mouth and continued talking,
juice dribbling down the side of his lips.

     "Second," he began, grabbing the rest of the plums in
quick succession and devouring them, "wait.  Hold that

     The Knight of Continuity puffed out his cheeks and spat
a stream of seeds in rapid succession at the wall on the other
side of the room, adjusting his aim to create a pattern of seed-
holes in the shape of a door.  He placed his palm in the center
of the wall and pushed.  The metal crashed to the ground.

     Captain Continuity walked through his makeshift door, saw a
thin man in a purple jumpsuit fleeing from a control panel,
grabbed him by the top of the head and held him at arm's length.

     "For killer plums, those were pretty tasty," he said.

     "Th...thank you," Plum Master said, his legs dangling in
the air.

     "Where's Mynabird?" Captain Continuity asked.

     Plum Master raised a shaking finger toward a passageway
emerging from the southwest ceiling.

     "Thanks," Captain Continuity said, releasing the villain.
Before he could reach the ground, however, the hero had
grabbed the top of his head again.

     "Oh yeah," Captain Continuity said.  "And which way is
the men's room?  I always hate going off to fight someone when
my hands are all sticky."

     Plum Master pointed again.  Captain Continuity smiled,
slammed the villain's head against a bulkhead, then left him
to slump to the floor while he flew towards the lavatory.

     "Damn good plums," he said, wiping the juice from his




     How does he do it?, Minority Miss wondered, as she
kicked and clawed at the short man in the magenta spacesuit
pushing her farther and farther into space.

     She knew Plummet had the power to fall faster than any
other living thing.  But what did it mean to fall in outer
space?  What or where was he falling toward?  Did he have the
power to latch on to any source of gravity -- a planet, or
even a distant star -- and pull himself toward it?  And was
it really important for her to figure this out while her life
and the lives of her teammates were on the line?

     Minority Miss reached forward, placing one hand on each
of Plummet's shoulders, and somersaulted herself over his head.
Before the villain could recover she had surged forward,
appalled that in the few moments she had been in his grasp the
two spaceships had disappeared completely from view, and
even the gray ringed planet had become a distant dot.  She
willed herself to go faster -- it was hard to tell, without the
feeling of the wind rushing past her, but she felt she was
making headway as the planet ahead became larger and larger and
she saw the little explosions of light that told her Kid Kirby,
at least, was still in the fight.

    By the time she reached the cloud of ring debris she knew
without looking that Plummet was following her.

    She teleported away just as he whizzed through the space
where she would have been, reappearing on the other side of a
hunk of rock that reminded her of the Pao de Acucar.
As Plummet stared from side to side in confusion, searching for
his prey, Minority Miss noticed the path he'd made as he'd
plowed through the asteroid field, with some of the smaller
rocks and even a few of the larger ones lingering behind him
as though caught on a cobweb.

     This could work, Minority Miss thought, as Plummet caught
sight of her and began his rush toward her once again.  But I
need to be very, very fast.

     The young Brazilian woman stretched out one arm and began
to fly in a zigzag pattern through the asteroids, moving faster
and faster as Plummet followed her like a guided missile.  As
their speed increased, so did Plummet's rocky entourage: more
and more of the ring debris followed in his wake until almost
the entire asteroid cloud rattled behind the villain like the
tail of a comet.

     Minority Miss had no idea how fast she was moving.  Her
powers allowed her to do anything that any three beings in her
universe could do, and in her brief career with the LNH, Apoena
Goulao had met some very, very fast people.  She closed her
eyes, stretched out her other arm and imagined herself moving
beyond the speed of light, beyond the speed of thought, beyond
the speed of spells or science-fiction starships or a successful
Disney franchise producing a direct-to-video sequel.

     When she opened her eyes, Plummet was still right behind
her, which was exactly where she wanted him to be.

     "Now!" Apoena said, and teleported several miles away.
The surprised Plummet stopped short, looked around, and then
looked behind him, just in time to see an entire planetary
ring's worth of rock and ice slam into his body like a cosmic

     "You know, I usually tell the guys who follow me around
not to expect me to give me a ring," Minority Miss said, as
Plummet's motionless body spiraled away into space.  "But in
your case, I made an exception."

     Her smile faded as she looked back at the cloud of rock
and ice -- now dispersing itself across the emptiness of space
-- and realized she had no idea where her spaceship was, or in
what direction she had come.  She scanned the skies, listened
to the busy crackle of radio waves, reached out with every power
she'd had or had ever heard of, but saw and heard and felt
nothing but the nothing that surrounded her.  She was as alone
in the universe as anyone had ever been.

     NEXT: Kid Kirby vs. Mynabird!  Captain Rat Creature vs.
Barrage!  And Deja Dude faces a woman from the Legion's past...

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