LNH: 58.5 #48: Warning, Giant Marshmallow Puppies Inside

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Tue Mar 31 06:04:34 PDT 2009

[great.  Pan still has the bug, and Thunderbird is timing out.  Let's
try to post from Google then...]

April 404.  Washing.net.ton DC.

"Oh my, oh my, those are some LARGE puppies", said Fan Boy.

"An average 50 meters from paw to shoulder, large enough to
cause considerable damage simply by stepping on things",
Analytic analyzed.

"They're so adooooooooooooooorable!", squeed Bandwagon Chick.

"They're a klick away, but I can feel the sugar rush from here.
And the smell is overpowering", said Contraption Boy.

"This is ridiculous", said Blackbird.  "How do we fight
something like that?"

"Don't look at me", Howie K. said.  "I don't like puppies even
at regular size."

"How about we roast them?", asked Dramatic Pause Lass.  "I
suppose..." she thought for a moment, tapping her chin with her
fingers.  "I guess we could set up a fire that size."

"You want to roast a litter of puppies?", asked Tree-Hugging
Kid, horrified.  "Come on, Fran, they're *puppies*!"

"They're giant monstrosities about to flatten ALL-CAPS Hill",
she answered.

"And they're made of marshmallow", Howie K. contributed.

"Doesn't matter", said Contraption Boy.  "It's impractical
anyway.  We *could* have a fire that size, but it would do about
as much damage as the puppies would otherwise."

"Aren't they adorable?", Bandwagon Chick asked.

"Mortally", pondered Analytic.


Cannon Fodder gasped back to life.

"What happened?", he asked.

Pantra was curled up on a somewhat comfortable bed.  They were
in a small cell, but it was much better equipped than your
average villain holding cell -- which suggested to Cannon Fodder
that prisoners were expected to stay there for a long time.

She yawned in cat style, which implies showing every tooth and
bone in her mouth, as well as her tonsils, then stretched.  "We
appeared in a holding area.  You tried to fight.  Another
Xinerama shot you.  Then he shot me.  He missed, of course, but
more came and eventually they got me.  Then I woke up here.  You
were dead.  Which means I get dibs on the top bed."

"Where is here?"

"Seems to be some sort of zoo.  I can't say I care for the
metaphor, but they don't seem to be interested in my opinion."
She gestured outside with her head.  "There are creatures of all
kinds out there.  They're a bit afraid of us, it seems.  It's
kind of like the zoo in the Star Trek pilot episode."

"Uuuh, all right."  He got up and examined the surroundings.
"Well then.  Kill me now."

She smiled.  "Yeah, I know the feeling."


"What what?"

"Oh, no.  I meant it literally.  I want you to kill me."

"Say what?"

"I'm glad it's you that got stuck here with me.  Anyone else
would probably be too squeamish to do what must be done."

"Thanks, I guess.  Which is exactly?"

"Well, obviously, you're going to kill me, then cut me in a lot
of very small pieces."


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


                 You Ain't No Friend Of Mine

                       by Lalo Martins

             Part 1 of "Cannon Fodder Triumphant"



"Bonnie", said Blackbird.

"What, me?"

"You're the veteran.  The LNH liaison.  What would the Ultimate
Ninja do in this situation?"

"Well", she fiddled with her trenchcoat, "I guess he'd cut them
in a lot of very small pieces."

Old Ugly clicked with glee.

"Okay, bad example", said Blackbird.  "What about, uh, Stomper,
what would he say?"

"Well.  First we need to figure out if they're really puppies,
or just constructs shaped like puppies; and if the latter,
whether they'll behave and react like puppies.  Also, whether
they're really made of marshmallow, or something similar;
whether they're fully made of it, or just covered in it."

"Not bad", he said.  Then turned to Analytic, Contraption Boy,
and Green: "Data acquisition team?"

"They're alive", said Green.  "Each one is only one living
being.  Can't tell for sure if it's really a young dog, there's
some distortion; also not sure if they're natural."

"Mass readings say homogeneous", Daniel added.  "But the
accuracy of these P.A.N.I.C. instruments-- I don't know, those
things are huge, there could be something the size of a car
inside them and all the marshmallow-or-whatever would block it."

"But at least a thick layer?", asked Bonnie.

"Oh yeah.  I can say the paws and heads are pure."

"So", pondered Blackbird, "unless the 'marshmallow' is some sort
of proto-matter, then we're looking at magic stuff?"

"Could also be a re.spam.someter or some kind of similar
technology", Daniel offered.

"All right.  Sammy?"

"Well, they're not *the same* puppy.  There are small, subtle
differences in their reactions."

"So they're not clones or duplicates or remote-controlled
whatevers of one puppy", Blackbird pondered.  "Does that add
useful info to anyone?"

Fan Boy kicked some sand.

"What?", Bonnie asked.

"Well.  You see, I have puppies.  Had, recently.  And a few
times before, too."


"They're not behaving like puppies.  I mean, gosh, have you ever
seen puppies doing that?"

"Seems correct to me", she said, thinking a bit.  "They're
happy, it seems, and playing together."

"Yes, only they're not.  They're all running in the same
direction, and they have been for a while.  Real puppies are
never... well, that orderly."

"Good point, good point", said Sammy.  "Unless-- unless they're
*going* somewhere, right?  I think Daniel nailed it first."

"Going where?", Green pondered.  "Mommy?  For feeding?"

"Wally", Sammy said.  "Can you make sure the wind is blowing
from the direction they're running to, towards us?"

"Sure, pal", he said, and concentrated a bit.  "Yes.  There."

"Can you feel it?  Can all of you feel it?"

Fran took a deep breath, raised her finger and smiled, as if
about to say something important.

"Em.  No.  I feel nothing different."

"Exactly!", Sammy exclaimed, triumphantly.

"Say what?", asked Blackbird.

"Gee, I see", said Wally.  "The smell of marshmallow, like
Daniel said.  It's not coming only from them."

"Hmm.  How about we trick them?", Bonnie proposed.


"Nice trick", Pantra said, as Cannon Fodder came back to life in
the hallway outside their cell.

"Thanks", he said, leaning for a moment to recover; there was
still some pain.  "I never tested it, but it's nice to know it
can be done.  I wonder what would happen if I got eaten by a
monster or something--"


"Yeah, well.  Let's get out of here and locate our gear."

"I thought it was get out of here and bash some Xinerama head?"

"No, I need my stuff.  I finally figured it all out... trust me,
I have a plan.  Took me forever, but I worked it out.  I'm more
worried that finding our stuff may be hard, this base seems to
be a whole planet."

"Nah, it's more like a small moon.  Anyway, I know where our
gear is.  I'm a pretty good tracker, remember?"

"Awesome.  Let's get you out of there then."

A few minutes later, the two of them were sneaking out of the
Xinerama zoo.  Pantra stopped for a moment to sniff the ground,
and just then, a voice came from the other direction.

~"Just where do you think you're going?"~, Botox Obama asked.
He raised his arms, and his hands began to glow with energy.

"Do your worst, Botty", said Fodder.  "I doubt you can hit
Pantra, and nothing you can do will harm me in any lasting way.
So you can take your threats and eat them with grated Parmesan."

~"I hope you don't mind then if I test your little theory?"~

He shot a huge blast out of his hands, and the whole prison was
blown to nothing.


"It's the prison", announced Fran.  "They were going to trample
it and blow it to nothing."

The New Misfits were just outside Washing.net.on, watching the
giant marshmallow puppies (I do so enjoy typing that) safely
walk around the city perimeter, still following the scent they
believed to be their mother, but thanks to Fan Boy's help,
following it in a slightly less direct route.

"What in Bob's hats are you gibbering about?", Blackbird asked.
"They were heading straight to ALL-CAPS Hill.  What's that about
a prison?"

"Sammy and I traced their path, considering the direction the
scent comes from, natural features, and wind changes.  After
destroying a number of very important buildings, enough to draw
a lot of attention, they'd exit town here--" (she pointed on a
map) "which is where we have the P.A.N.I.C. facility for
net.a-level prisoners awaiting clarification of legal status."

"The what now?", Bonnie asked, one eyebrow raised.

She sighed.

"Not all villains you apprehend can just be put in jail, or even
given a trial.  We get androids -- in the old days, we'd just
dismantle or deactivate those, but now with the robot rights
movement, that's no longer acceptable -- and clones, and aliens
from friendly space nations, and aliens from unknown origin...
then there are regular foreign individuals whom, for whatever
reason, their government of origin wants nothing to do with--"

"Grammar kind of got away from you on that one", said Sammy.

She looked at him incredulously.  "Who cares about grammar?!
Anyway.  Those are the hot potatoes, the ones nobody wants.  If
they're captured by the LNH, we'll sometimes look the other way
and just leave them rotting in the LNHQ holding cells until some
bureaucrat figures out what is what (or they escape).  But
shipping someone in government custody *to* the LNH, what with
the LNH not having any sort of legal status, well, that wouldn't
quite work."

"I don't know", said Fran.  "Who'd be insane enough to destroy
the most famous Loonited States government buildings as a
*decoy* while actually aiming for something else?"

"I guess", volunteered Howie, "someone insane enough to come up
with a litter of giant marshmallow puppies."

"Bird has a point", Fran said.  Then she waited until everyone
was looking at her.  "I mean, this is net.villains we're talking
about.  Being insane is in the job description."

"Well", Howie said, his feathers a little ruffled.  "Here's
something else 'Bird' has to contribute, then."

Then *he* waited until everyone was looking at him.

"Whoever it was, they probably had a plan B.  So detouring the
puppies wasn't the end of it.  We should all run to this prison
place stat, and be ready for the worst."

Blackbird looked up to the sky, where Fan Boy was putting a lot
of effort into "piloting" the puppies.

"Great", he said.  We have to go face an unknown foe, all tired
and hurt, and without one of our heavy hitters."

"Uh", Daniel said.  "He's a nice guy and all, but since when is
Fan Boy one of our heavy hitters?"

"Since today", Bonnie cut in.  "I mean, come on.  Think of the
scale of what he's doing now.  And I seem to remember, he held
his own in the other universe we were in before[*], better than
many of us."

[* Last issue -- Footnote Cybergirl]

"How do we get there then?", Daniel asked.

On cue, the sound of galloping ghost horses grew louder behind
them, until they all turned their heads to see what it was.

"The Mystic Bandwagon!  I thought we lost it in that world!",
Howie exclaimed.

"I have to confess, I did too.  I didn't know it could do that",
said Bonnie.

Sammy just scoffed.  "Tsk, you two.  What part of 'Mystic' needs
a manual of instructions?"

Bonnie just patted her ghost horses with a smile.

"It's good to have you back."


"It's good to have you back", Pantra said, as the charred body
she had been carrying through the tunnels came back to life for
the third time this issue.

"Ooooooooow", was all he could say.

"Yeah", she answered, an annoyed tone to her voice.  "Singed
some of my fur, too.  Mother~!$~=@$&%~?#&."

"What happened?"

"Someone set up us the bomb."

Fodder just gave her a very stern look.

"Aw, all right, you're no fun.  He fired at us.  I jumped away.
He blew up the whole building."

"What?  He killed all those prisoners?"


"Just like that?"


His eyes squinted with cold resolve.

"Anyway, I hid.  Then I found those tunnels.  And I went back to
recover your body."

"Why didn't *he* take my body?"

"He doesn't know how your powers work as well as I do.  When he
looked, there wasn't enough to recover, so he walked away.  I,
on the other hand, just stuck around long enough, until at some
point, there was enough to recover... then, like any good cat, I
dragged it away."

"Fair enough", he said, and took a moment to put his thoughts in
order.  "All right.  Plan hasn't changed, then.  Let's go get
our stuff.  Do you still have your track?"

"Yeah.  A little harder from here, but I like the challenge."

He stood up heroically.  "Let's go, then."

Pantra looked at him with a mixture of admiration, amusement,
and curiosity.  (If you're finding it hard to visualise what
that looks like, remember: we're talking about a cat face.  Cats
are great at making this exact expression.)

"I don't get it, Fodder.  I mean, I'm having fun, and all, but
what's with the evil I-know-what-I'm-doing expression?  There
seems to be no limit to these guys' power.  How *do* you kill a
race of god-like beings?"

"My dear Pantra.  There's a very important lesson about violence
that I learned during the course of my Looniverse life."


"If you can't solve a problem with violence--"

"Yeah?"  She gave him with her anxious-kitteh face.

"Well, that means you haven't used enough.  Sometimes you just
have to think big."

Pantra just nodded knowingly.

For the next few minutes, they proceeded quietly.  Finally,
Pantra stopped, sniffed the air, and smiled.

"What?  Is there a problem?", Fodder asked.

"No.  Guard drones.  Techno-organic, but not strictly alive.
Last thing between us and the place."

"Good", he said, with a smile frighteningly similar to hers.  "I
was afraid this wasn't going to be fun."

She kicked out a grate near them, and stepped out to an open
area, in front of a large building.

"This is it", Pantra said.  "This is where they keep the dangerous,
crazy, or otherwise undesirable."


"This is it", Fran said.  "This is where they keep the dangerous,
crazy, or otherwise undesirable."

"The question now", said Blackbird, "is who they're after."

Sammy was going through the list of prisoners.  "I'm trying."

"Maybe I can help", said a sarcastic voice near them.

"Melissa!", exclaimed Bonnie.  Her teammates immediately reached
for their weapons or took battle stances.

"I prefer 'Vector', if you don't mind."

"Give it up", Blackbird said.  "There's eight of us, and only
one of you.  You don't stand a chance."

"Thanks for the cue, dear", she said, right before creating
twenty or so copies of herself.

The New Misfits (and Dramatic Pause Lass) sprang into battle
without hesitation.  Old Ugly, in particular, was rather happy
about it; Daniel had just informed him that it wasn't wrong to
kill those tasty-looking red-topped bipeds, and it was certainly
a relief to break loose every now and then.

Bonnie had similar thoughts as she ran back to the Mystic
Bandwagon and pulled up the weapons console.  Since Cannon
Fodder and Daniel installed Big Guns in the Bandwagon, she's had
a few opportunities to use them, but this was the first time she
had that many targets, and that much freedom to wreak havoc.
.o(Finally, all those years of video gaming will pay off!)

Now Kiwi... it is true that he's technically unable to fly, just
as "normal" kiwis.  But as you see him zipping through the air
in his precise and lethal Kiwi-Fu jumps, you tend to forget
that.  In fact, you tend to forget pretty much anything but
getting out of his way.

Green was fighting mostly with plants, because fights like this
put hir in an awkward moral position; s/he certainly does much
more damage when s/he asks some animals to help.  But with an
opponent as lethal as Vector, that would mean many of them dying
in the battle, and that isn't a price Green is willing to pay.

(This is getting boring)o., thought Blur.  .o(What am I doing
here?  I do like these people, I guess.  But I'm rather tired of
fighting.  The Acra Fight... those were good times, always
untangling crazy mysteries and mystic threats.  Now what we do
seems to be mostly combat.  I mean, seriously.  I don't even
have a proper body.  Combat, me?  Now occasionally there's an
opponent that really gives me a challenge, like the speedster
this morning.  But most of the time, everybody is busy punching
and blasting away, and old Blur is left to the old, single trick
of trying to confuse the enemy.  Meh--)

Vector approached Blackbird, who was standing to a side, head
tilted down, what looked like flames of black fire emanating
from his body.

"What about you?", she asked.  "Are you planning to join the
fight, or just stand there and look scary?"

He raised his head dramatically, and looking into his eyes would
be rather chilling; because you'd think, no, *that's* what black
fire looks like; and while the black fire in his eyes was just
metaphoric, and the one around him much more literal, you'd
swear it was the one in his eyes that was the real thing.

"Thanks for the cue, dear", he said.  And the black flames
leapt, and turned into black bats, and snakes, and rats, and
spiders, and wasps.  Vector screamed, and Blackbird enjoyed it.
He let his creatures loose on the Vector clones, and smiled.

Bonnie heard a noise behind her, and looked for a moment.  Sammy
had just entered through a window.  "Sammy", she said.  "Can you
give me a hand here?  Or two?"

"This isn't right, Bonnie", he announced.

"What isn't?"

"Vector", he explained, taking a seat next to her.

"What about her?"

He gestured with his head towards them.  "What do you think?
Looks familiar?"

"Yeah, sure.  Just like when we fought her all those years
back.  Before your time, but since her reign lasted longer in
your timeline, I'm sure you're familiar with it."

"Yeah.  Just like the old days."


"She's using clones, and slowing us down with her viruses, and
apparently she can control other creatures."

"Yeah.  That matches her files, doesn't it?"

He nodded.


"We fought by her side for weeks during the Evilverse invasion.
Do you remember seeing even one single clone then?"

Bonnie stopped, confused, and blinked.

"No", he answered, when it became clear she wasn't going to.
"Her power was, apparently, to develop different powers each
day.  So while it's not impossible she would wake up today with
her original powers... I'd say it's rather improbable."

"Improbable doesn't hold much weight", she said.  "We deal with
improbable on a daily basis, and even impossible now and then."

"Also", he added, "she doesn't know us.  See the way they're
fighting?  She's studying us, learning our powers, our moves.
She's never fought with or against us before."

"Nonsense.  She fought with us in the invasion, and against us
afterwards when we dismantled the Crime Empire."

"Then who is she after in the prison?"

"Paraddox, I'd assume."

"That's a reasonable theory.  Except, according to my
projections, the puppies would have leveled this place
completely.  This isn't a break-out, it's murder."

"She wants to kill Paraddox?  Why?"

"Maybe.  But I don't think so."  And he showed her something in
the prisoner list.  "This is up to date.  Checked this morning."

"That makes no sense!"

"It does to me."

She pondered for about three seconds, biting her lower lip.
Then she let go of the joystick and darted through the door,
motioning for Sammy to follow her, and grabbing a Big Gun on the
way out.

"Howie!", she shouted out.  "Come with!"  And the three of them
ran into the prison.

"What?", Howie asked.  Sammy explained his theory.  "You can't
be serious", the kiwi said.

"Sammy", Bonnie said.  "Not that I don't appreciate it, but why
did you come to me with this?  I mean, as opposed to Blackbird."

"You're co-leader, aren't you?"

"Yeah, so you all keep saying, but he was leader first, and
you've known him most of your life."

"There's a reason we needed a co-leader.  Bird is great in most
situations, but during actual combat... well, you saw him when
we left.  He tends to get... busy.  And he's rather hard to
communicate with when he's like that."

"Oh", she said, a hint of disappointment in her realization.

"Hey, don't take it the wrong way.  You're not just a spare
tire.  You grew naturally into the position, and for a reason.
If we just needed *anybody*, it would probably have been me, or
Green.  But you have the experience, and as you just
demonstrated, you think on your feet.  You're good."

"Hmm.  Thanks, I guess."

"Also, when we're *not* in the field, nobody would be crazy to
say Bird is the leader and you're his, I don't know, vice-leader
or something.  The two of you think together and lead together."

"All nice and sweet", Howie said, "but I think we just passed
the right corridor."

They went back and checked.  Three Vector clones were busy
setting a bomb.  Bonnie gestured to Howie.  "Have fun."

After he beat them up so hard they disappeared, Sammy went about
examining the bomb.

"I was right", he announced.  "This isn't blowing up a wall to
break someone out, this is reducing the place to a lot of very
small pieces."

"That's just crazy", Bonnie said.  Although Sammy's theory made
sense, she still refused to accept it.

"I guess our answers are here", he said, looking very deeply
into a locking system near a door.  His eyes narrowed as he
studied it, and a drop of sweat ran across the side of his face;
then, after a minute and (apparently) a lot of effort, he seemed
to make a decision.  With a quick movement, he picked up the
drop of sweat, and threw it into the locking mechanism at
precisely the right angle; a single circuit shorted out, causing
a cascade failure, and a 'click' was heard to his left side, as
the door unlocked.

The door labeled "Melissa (last name unknown), a.k.a. Vector
Prime, a.k.a. Crime Empress" opened, and a tall, red-headed
woman in a standard orange prison jumpsuit walked out.

"What's going on here?"

"There's someone outside", Sammy informed her, "claiming to be
Vector Prime, and apparently trying to kill you."

Her eyes narrowed in rage.  "*I* am Vector Prime."

"I'm sorry, dear", said, uh, the other Vector, from the end of
the corridor.  "You're just a crazy clone gone free for way too
long.  But no more."

The two Melissas walked one single step in each other's
direction, and stared at each other, in classic anime face-off
style.  Then they attacked.  Vec-- um, the Empress had feral
abilities and claws that day, which made for a pretty one-sided
battle at first; but then Vector-non-Empress made a few copies,
and things got more balanced.

Sammy pulled his friends out of the way and gestured in a
different direction.

"What now?", asked Howie.


"What now?", asked Pantra, holding back the door to the storage
room they had just reached, after a fierce battle.

Fodder was busy going through their stuff, which, as Pantra
promised, was in that room.  He held his Secretary Box
triumphantly.  "Here you are!"

"That's not a weapon", observed Pantra.

"No.  But it can open a Bang Path back to Looniearth."

"Fodder, we don't need reinforcements.  If we can't take them,
then the LNH won't be able to either."

"I wasn't talking about reinforcements."

"Running away?"  She snarled.  "I thought you didn't do that
anymore.  Well, you can go, I--"

(BANG!), made the dimensional portal.

"I'm not going anywhere.  I'm sending you home."

"Are you INSANE?", and she hissed, showing her teeth.

"It's not one of these 'I want you to be safe' things, I swear.
It's taken care of, and your help was appreciated.  But now I
have a plan, and you wouldn't survive it."

She shook her head and thought for a moment.  "Just promise
you'll tell me how it went."  And she jumped into the portal,
which closed behind her.

The door, on the other hand, opened as soon as she stopped
holding it, letting in a few Xinerama brothers.

"Bring it on", Cannon Fodder snarled.


 Wally Windsor         Fan Boy                mine
 Meredith Samuels      Analytic               mine
 Bonnie Chique         Bandwagon Chick        Sue Clark's
 Daniel Hunt           Contraption Boy        mine
 Blackbird Jones       Blackbird              mine
 Kiwi Kiwii Kiwi       Howie K.               mine
 Lieutenant Francesca  Dramatic Pause Lass    mine
   "Fran" Blake
 Green Delaware        Tree-Hugging Kid       mine
 Blur                  Blur                   mine
 Godd Fodder           Cannon Fodder          wReam's (special
                                              thanks to Dvandom)
 Maisie Colbert        Pantra                 May B.'s
 Melissa               Vector (Prime?)        Rob Rogers'
 Melissa               The Crime Empress      Rob Rogers'

#49 is already written (in fact the Cannon Fodder part has been
 written for over a year), so you can expect it later this week.

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