LNH: 58.5 #46: I Can't Help It, The Characters, They Just Keep Coming

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Sat Feb 28 10:50:32 PST 2009

No recap this issue; if you want to know what's going on, pick
up #45, it's all recap.  Well, not really, but pretty much.

In an universe two floors down and a little to the left, most
net.a.human (or "enhanced", as they call it) activity is
centered around a large city in the Northwest coast of the Union
States of Columbia, a sprawling urban wonder called-- Manhattan.

Facing their Central Park, on the West side, there is a large
building in classical style, a monument to "enhanced" heroes
past and present, the "Mansion of Justice", headquarters to this
world's premier enhanced hero team: the Old School.

"So", said Liberty Eagle, the current chairwoman.  "Next order
of business?"

"April", said Cockroachman.  "I know it doesn't sound important,
but I'd like to know why it's April 392nd."

"It may be important", Witch Queen intervened.  "Names are
important.  Months have their own symbolism and power."

"When did this bloody silliness start?", asked Ton 80.  "I've
talked to blokes who remember it being June, October even, but
then it was April again and nobody is quite sure when that
happened.  Others remember it stretching all the way from April
1st, as well."

"My memory banks don't have any non-April date since April 1st",
said Flashlight.  "And the central D-cell in Otan doesn't record
any time distortions."

"But then again", said Godly Guy, "whatever or whoever altered
people's memories, assuming that's what happened, could have
affected your memory banks even more easily, right?"

"That is correct", Flashlight agreed.

~"I know what it is"~, said a woman who walked through the door.
All Old Schoolers snapped to attention and prepared to attack.
~"And I can tell you."~

"Who are you?", demanded Cockroachman.  "How did you get here?"

~"I get whenever my mission needs me to be"~, she said, ~"for
that is my wont, my purpose and my fate.  I'm a member of the
Xinerama Brotherhood, the one responsible for your world, and
for its safety against inter-newsgroup interlopers."~

"The Eternal Guardians have record of the Xinerama", said
Flashlight, "but it's vague, and it doesn't necessarily suggest
they can be trusted.  She does, however, match the description
of the one responsible for our universe."

"We're listening", said Liberty Eagle.  "Why is it April?"

~"The Infinite April is a plot device from a different universe.
It's leaking on to yours because you're harboring one or more
refugees from that other universe.  But their power is affecting
my instruments, and they are probably aware of the Brotherhood's
existence.  So I can't locate them on my own."~

"And what would you do if you found them?"

~"I'm not one of the hard-line brothers"~, she said.  ~"If one
of them had to deal with this, he would just kill the refugees.
I just intend to take them back to their correct newsgroup."~

"Newsgroup?", asked Godly Guy.  "I thought you were talking
about universes?"

"Never mind that", said Flashlight.  "The Xinerama supposedly
operate under a complicated multiversal metaphor."

~"Will you help me?"~

Liberty Eagle exchanged looks with the senior Old School --
Cockroachman, Godly Guy, and Witch Queen.  "We will.  We'll find
them together, but then we'll hear their story and make a
decision about their fate."

~"That is good enough"~, said the Xinerama.


In an island nearby, the New Young Teens were relaxing by the
pool, when something started beeping.  Bugsy picked up a netbook
from under the bar and checked what was up.  "Damn", he said.

"What is it?", Quick Kid asked.

"The Old School.  They're coming from us."

"Dude", said Green Jim.  "You're spying on the Old School?"

"Of course I am", Bugsy said, sounding a little offended.  "I
was raised by enhanced-villains, wasn't I?  I don't trust
*anybody* anymore."

"Neither should you", said Witch Princess.  "Someone extremely
dangerous is orchestrating this whole thing, and we must act now
to prevent a great disaster!"


Elsewhere, not far north, and a few hours earlier, a neon-like
line suddenly appeared in the air, in a dark alley.  It
expanded, then turned a right angle, then again, until it formed
a rectangle.  And then it opened like a door, and two women
walked through it.  One was in her late 30s, a thin blonde,
while the other was a late-teen muscular brunette.  They were
both heavily armed, but their weapons were well concealed, so
you couldn't tell; they were dressed like regular people you'd
expect to find in that neighborhood.

They walked away from the portal, and Dramatic Pause Lass just
looked back once.

"So, um.  Since when does PANIC have cross-posting tech?"

"Since the Evilverse invasion.  Offended you didn't hear?"

"No, madam, of course not.  Need-to-know, I know."

"Right.  Myself, I'm more concerned with why we're using it.  If
the New Misfits are really jumping through universes like our
investigation indicated, shouldn't we just wait for them to come
back?  Infinite universes seems to be quite a bit of field to
search them in."

"Initially, I agreed with that", said the younger girl.  Then
she stopped at a news stand to buy the papers (after checking
that the local money their recon team gave them was good), then
headed in the direction of a cafe, where they could read them
to familiarize with the world.  "But the President's argument
was valid; we don't know what kind of trouble they may be
stirring up out here without guidance."

"I guess", said Doctor Jogging.  "After the Evilverse... yeah,
you never know what careless universe-jumping can cause."

And back in the alley, the door they came through finally
closed.  The young-looking black man who had just crossed it was
watching it from behind a garbage container.

..o(I made it, and nobody did see me.  I wish I had the slightest
clue how I did it though, or why.  But if there's even a chance
Cannon Fodder is here, then I have to find him before they do!)


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


               While All The Women Came And Went

                       by Lalo Martins

Starring -- The Old School:

  The last survivor from a dead pantheon, he hides among us as
  the meek reporter Don Clark, but when Earth is threatened,
  that's a job for The Godly Guy!

  Heiress and ambassador from the secret woman-only Gypsy nation
  of Wundascyra, she came to the world of man to chew gum and
  teach us about peace!  We know her as... Witch Queen!

  One of this world's leading industrialists, he lost both his
  parents as a young child in the Vietnam war, and swore to
  honor their names by making the world a better place, which he
  does mostly by using his amazing intellect, almost endless
  fortune, and cool gadgets to better punch criminals in the
  face.  He's the terror of the night, Cockroachman!

  He's the fastest creature in the known universe, and he can be
  a complete jackass on occasion.  They call him... Fast!

  When this pub rat was lost in a deserted island, he survived
  thanks to the only thing in the world he was good at: throwing
  darts.  Once he came back to civilization, he used his
  newfound skills and fitness in the only way that makes sense:
  by making a criminal career!  But he was eventually reformed
  by (and married to) Liberty Eagle, and now generally annoys
  his colleagues in the Old School as the fantastic... Ton 80!

  When the evil android Amazon refurbished the body of an old
  android hero to use as his minion, he couldn't find batteries
  that would fit, and jury-rigged some green AA rechargeables he
  found in a flying saucer.  It turned out, however, those
  belonged to a deceased member of an intergalactic peace corps,
  and his minion-to-be turned against him and joined the Old
  School, as... Flashlight!

  And last but not least, one of the greatest heroines of World
  War Two, who froze herself when the first wrinkles started to
  appear in her face, leaving orders for Columbia to unfreeze
  her when the world had better anti-aging technology.  Now
  thanks to the Old School (and botox), she's back in action,
  and leading the group!  The living symbol of freedom, the
  sentinel of the Columbian Way, Liberty Eagle!

And guest starring -- The New Young Teens:

  The grandson of Liberty Eagle's sidekick, adopted by
  Cockroachman after his parents were found to be
  enhanced-villains after his grandfather was brainwashed by the
  Soviets, he has the most convoluted history in this world, and
  he's black too!  He's Bugsy, leader of the New Young Teens!

  Depending on who you ask, she's the child or apprentice of a
  terror from another world, or the child of two black sorcerers
  which she murdered, or a young girl from Wundascyra, or gay,
  or Quick Kid's girlfriend, or Bugsy's, or the deceased Divine
  Dude's, or Green Jim's.  Figure it out: Witch Princess!

  The nephew of Fast, and even more annoying: Quick Kid!

  Part black, part latino, part white, part machine, and in some
  way able to tap the power of the Flashlight Corps even though
  they never heard of him, he's pretty much the typical New York
  kid; his team pals call him L.E.D.!

  His green skin, shape-changing powers, juvenile sense of
  humor, and hit-on-everything-that-moves attitude may be just a
  facade to hide the fact that he's actually gay, unless he's
  actually dating Witch Princess, which then again may be gay
  too, you know what, teenagers are too complicated: Green Jim!

And special guests from another world, but you don't really care
about them, do you?!



"Nothing in the papers that looks like a clue", said
Dr. Jogging, putting away the Manhattan Arial.

"Well", said Fran.  But then she noticed something outside,
across the street.  She turned her head and looked more closely.

"What?", asked Jogging.

Fran was looking at a feline shape jumping from building to
building.  A rather humanoid feline shape.

"Is that... Pantra?"

"Certainly looks like", said the PANIC director.  She got up, at
the same time checking her weapons and leaving some money on the
table for their bill.  "Let's go check."

They got to the corner just as Pantra was about to make a more
difficult leap (to cross the street).  She was quickly looking
in all directions, instinctively checking for any unexpected
obstacles, when she noticed two women on the street pointing
weapons at her.  She bounced down to check what it was about.

"Pantra", said Dr. Jogging.

The cat girl just approached and sniffed.

"You're coming with us", said Jogging.  "And your pals.  Where
are they?"

"I'll take you to them", she said.  "We don't want any trouble."

"Bit too easy?", Jogging said to Fran.  "Trap?"

"I don't know", Fran answered, seeming distracted.  "Something
is certainly wrong.  Somebody following us?"  She walked to an
alley and pointed her weapon to the shadows.  "There.  I saw you
sneaking in there.  Come out."

Ike Kemey obeyed.

"You?  Kemey, was it?  What are you doing here?"

"I came after you.  I told you, I must find Cannon Fodder."

Fran sighed deeply.  "Look--"

Then, right in front of her, a door opened in the alley, and
Bandwagon Chick walked out, a Big Gun armed and ready.  "Pantra?
Where are you?  What's going on?"

"Ohai", said Pantra from the street.  "I was just about to take
these nice women to meet the rest of the gang."

"Bandwagon Chick", Jogging said, pointing her weapon at her.  "I
know you don't really want to fire that.  Let's do this
peacefully, shall we?"

"aaah, I kind of don't think so", she answered.  On her cue,
Pantra snapped quickly, and disarmed the blonde.

"No, no", said Ike.  "This is all wrong.  Listen--"

But Jogging's weapon hit him right in the nose, and he
collapsed.  Meanwhile, she was engaged in close combat with
Pantra already.  Fran took one more step towards Bonnie, both
keeping each other in aim, a typical western staredown, with
slightly more cleavage involved.

~"There they are"~, boomed a voice from the street.  It was the
Xinerama sister, and the Old School was right behind her.  ~"We
found them, with the help of your sorcery and technology!  Those
are the cross-posters!"~  And they moved towards the four women,
who were still fighting.  ~"We must take them back where they

Dr. Jogging popped up her head from the fight and yelled,
"That's what we're here for!  We'll take them back to our
world with us!"

"I'm sorry", said the Witch Queen, "but we can't allow that.
Everyone to the world they belong to, that's the rule."

"What?  But they're from our world!  We came here after them!"

"Hmm", said 'Pantra' under her, "not really".  And he reverted
to his true-- well, usual at least-- shape, as Green Jim.

"What?", said Fran.  "But then--" and she looked back at
'Bandwagon Chick' who, with a smile, ended her illusion spell,
and revealed herself as Witch Princess.  The random garbage in
the alley also changed, into the forms of the New Young Teens.

"You tricked us!  But-- why?"

"The New Young Teens!", exclaimed Cockroachman.  "How are you
involved in this?"

"You're making a mistake", said Bugsy.  "You're being
manipulated.  Again.  And we're here to fix everything."

Cockroachman turned to Liberty Eagle.  "They must be
mind-controlled.  Again."

"Or just being teenagers", added Witch Queen.

"Uh.  Do you even believe that?"

"We don't", said Godly Guy.  "But tradition must be maintained,
must it not?"

Liberty Eagle sighed, and then turned to the Teens.  She took a
deep breath, and then hit L.E.D. with her Freedom Cry.  (It's
her only power, and it's kind of lame.  But cut her some slack,
she's a living legend.  For other reasons than her powers.  No,
*not* the fishnets either.  No, not-- what?  Hey, have some
respect, she could be your grandmother!)

Before anyone knew what was going on, Fast and Quick Kid had
already punched each other a few thousand times, and healed from
the first punch.  (Fast fact: we call Fast "the fastest creature
in the known universe", but Quick Kid is just as fast.  Maybe we
just like hyperbole.)  Green Jim was flying around, while Ton 80
was trying to hit him, and quickly running out of darts.  Bugsy
and Cockroachman seemed to be locked in a furious fight, but in
reality they were just sparring, and at the same time telling
each other as much as they could about the situation, using body
language and a code of pre-arranged signals.  Witch Princess was
attempting to scramble Flashlight's signal, using a mixture of
sorcery and unbuttoning her shirt.

And Godly Guy and Witch Queen had rounded up the cross-posters--
Dramatic Pause Lass and Doctor Jogging.

~"Why are you here?"~, asked the Xinerama sister.  ~"What did
you want with the New Young Teens?"~

"No no, you're getting it all wrong.  We're after some teens
from *our* world, the New Misfits.  We thought that's who we
were fighting.  As soon as we find them, we'll take them back
with us."

"Unacceptable", said Witch Queen.  "We can't risk you fooling
around.  You'll go back now, and if your Misfit Kids are around,
we'll deal with them."

~"I don't sense any more cross-posters in this universe.  All
foreign signals are in this street crossing right now."~

And to those exact words, the air shimmered in front of them,
and the Amazing Amazon appeared, along with (a seemingly much
older) Mother Time.

"You, lady", said Fran, "have a real big mouth."

The Amazing Amazon didn't even wait to see what was going on.
She immediately tackled Godly Guy, while Mother Time held Witch
Queen in some sort of stasis.

"Are we too late?", asked Mother Time.

"We can't be", said the Amazing Amazon.  "This is the last
chance we have to catch them before Stuff.org, we must tell them
before it's too late, and everything is lost!"

"hell with that", muttered Fran under her breath.  Then she made
a run for the alley, followed closely by her superior.  But she
tripped over Kemey, who woke up with the shock.

"Lieutenant", said Jogging, "do you have the slightest idea
what's going on?"

"I tried to tell you", said Kemey.  "It's all wrong.  The New
Misfits were never here, and neither was Cannon Fodder."

"How do you know that?", the older woman asked.  "Just who the
hell *are* you anyway, and why do you want Cannon Fodder?"

"I told your officer already, I have no idea.  As far as I know,
I'm just an ordinary guy who lived a perfectly normal life.  But
I have these flashes, these things that make no sense but that I
know with more certainty than my childhood memories."

"Doctor", said Fran, and looked around nervously.  "We're
supposed to be running away."

"I know, but I feel there's a clue here.  Come on, Kemey, there
must be something-- maybe a common element to these flashes?"

"No, but there is one that is more frequent, and which makes
even less sense, because I don't know what it means.  It's just
a face, and a name, but I can't really remember the name, it's
like it's at the tip of my tongue."

"Who is it?  Cannon Fodder?"

"No.  A woman.  She was important to me, I think.  Wee someth--"

~"There you are"~, said the Xinerama sister, from the entrance
to the alley.  ~"You two are--"~

"Weeja Doo?", said Kemey.

She turned to him.  "Do I know you?"  And their eyes locked.
"Ixnay?  Is that you?"

And he exploded in light in front of them, as his false shape
and false memories peeled away to reveal his true self: a
Xinerama brother, remarkably alike the one who warned Cannon
Fodder about everything,  but in a cooler outfit.

~"Yes"~, he whispered.  ~"That's who I am.  Ixnay Onde
Onitorjokesmay, the Xinerama brother of sci.physics.plutonium."~

~"But they said--"~

~"He killed me, Weeja.  Botox Obama killed me.  He's mad, and we
must stop him."~

"Okay", said Jogging, "this is *WAY* over my head.  Listen here,
you two, why don't we--"

~"Begone"~, said Weeja Doo.  And with the flick of a button in
her wrist, the two PANIC agents were sent back to the
Looniverse.  ~"Ixnay--"~

~"I re-wove myself as a human, as I died.  Maybe I somehow
leeched that ability from Cannon Fodder.  But I'm here now, and
I'm telling you, he's mad.  We must--"~

~"We must go back to our universe, and then we'll--"~

~"No.  He has too many supporters.  They must keep believing I'm
dead.  I'll remain here; they won't think of looking for me in
your world."~

~"All right.  We'll do that."~

And she kissed him.

Meanwhile, the fight outside had abated.  Well, except for Godly
Guy and the Amazing Amazon, who were having way too much fun.

"So the New Misfits were never here", said Mother Time.

"No", answered Flashlight.  "Nobody matching that description,
either in the Old School archives, or the Eternal Guardians'.
Believe me, if an unknown group of enhanceds popped up asking
questions, we'd have heard about it."

"Fair enough.  But Amy was so sure."

"So were the other two women... PANIC, you said, right?", said
the Witch Queen.  "I wonder where everyone got that idea."

"Maybe they're still going to come here.  I have lots of
experience with being in the right place in the wrong time."

"Could be", Witch Queen conceded.

"Well.  If they do show up-- please tell them *not* to come
after us.  All right?  Just that should do it.  No matter what
they think we did, if they come after us, they'll ruin their
lives forever."

"All right."

"Amy", said Mother Time.  "Let's go, before we attract any more
Xinerama attention."

"Aaw", said the Maid of Awesome.  She released Godly Guy's
throat and shook his hand instead.  "All right then."

"Anytime you're around", he said.  "You remind me of my cousin."


Doctor Jogging kicked the crosspost door generator.  "It won't
open to that universe anymore.  That Xinerama tramp must have
locked us out."

"So it seems", said Fran.  She was a little more pensive than
her usual.

"Well, shouldn't matter.  They weren't there, Ixnay said."


"What's bothering you?"

"Well, see.  If they were never there--" she took a deep breath,
got up, and walked close to her superior.  "How do you suppose
the New Young Teens came up with the idea to disguise as Pantra
and Bandwagon Chick?"


A few hours later, the New Young Teens were back around their
pool.  L.E.D. and Bugsy had pondered incorporating a meeting
room into their headquarters, but realistically, they figured
all their meetings would end up around the pool anyway, so why
not save some money which could be more responsibly used, say in
wild parties?

"Was that it, then?", Bugsy asked.  "Was disaster averted?"

"Yes", said Witch Princess.  "We did what we had to do."

"Which was exactly?", Quick Kid asked.  "We didn't seem to
accomplish much."

"Oh, but we did.  The PANIC women are gone and blocked from
coming back, Weeja Doo is gone and has a legitimate reason to
keep the Xinerama spying gear away from your world for a while,
and the Amazing Amazon and older Mother Time are gone too.  I
wasn't expecting them, but nice bonus."

"It's a good day in my book", said Green Jim.  "Any day when we
get our asses kicked by the Old School, and still that counts as
a win.  Can't complain."

"Glad you liked it", Witch Princess said.  "Because now it's my
time to go."

"What?", Quick Kid exclaimed.  "Go where?  You can't!"

"You don't have to", said Bugsy.  "You're part of the team.  Of
the family."

"Thanks, that's so charming of you.  But I do; I'm not finished
with my training, *and* I don't think I can keep my own presence
concealed from the Xinerama much longer."

Green Jim was right by her face.  "You can't!  We-- I--"

She just smiled and kissed his nose.  "You'll get over it."

"So this is it", said L.E.D., "the big battle, the colossal
threat you assembled our team for, last year.  Kind of
anti-climatic, no?"

"Oh, not at all.  Your big battle is still coming.  And I'll
come back to help you when the time comes.  Maybe even bring
help.  Meanwhile, you guys keep preparing."

Green Jim seemed excited with the prospect.

"But I'll be too old for you when that happens", she said to
him, with a smile.  "So don't get too happy."

"Princess", said Bugsy.  "Well, just-- thank you.  For
everything.  From all of us."

"Don't mention it, it was as good for me as it was for you.  And
I told you already, cut the 'Princess' when there are no prying
ears around.  You guys can call me Mary."


"Special guests from another world" credits:
 Weeja Doo             (a Xinerama sister)    mine
 Lieutenant Francesca  Dramatic Pause Lass    mine
   "Fran" Blake
 Dr. Valkiria Jogging         --              mine/public domain
 Ixnay Onde Onitorjokesmay  (Xinerama bro)    mine
 Amanda "Amy" Zing     The Amazing Amazon     mine
 Tamela Tyme           Mother Time            Saxon Brenton's/
                                              Arthur Spitzer's
 Mary Smith            Witch Princess         mine

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