LNH/Contest: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #35 HCC8
saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 25 00:46:09 PDT 2010
[LNH][Contest] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #35 HCC8
| |-| \
| |-|  / #35
| | |  egion of \ 'Opposites: Spots and Stripes'
| | | __     / (Part of High Concept Challenge #8)
| | | [___][ \et.__eroes \
| | | \ ] [ __ ] / written by and copyright 2010
| |-|     \ Saxon Brenton
| | Cover shows a number of LNHers reeling in surprise, pain or perhaps
| | just drama as overlays of two different colour schemes - one of
| | spots and the other of stripes - clash unevenly down the centre of
| | the illustration. The overlays have almost-but-not-totally washed
| | away the original hues of the Legionnaires, but they bear no
| | relationship to the shapes of the things they are bringing colour to.
[A Silver Age-style roster of characters in the form of a series of mug
shots in little circles runs down the side of the title page:]
Roll call for this issue:
o Occultism Kid!
o Hell Catalyst!
with appearances by:
o Captain Capitalize!
o Fearless Leader!
o The Hooded Ho''od Win
o Innovative-Offense Boy!
o Irony Man!
o Johnny Stomper!
o Limp-Asparagus Lad!
These are just some of the super-powered do-gooders who belong to an
organisation that thinks that running around with your underwear on
the outside is acceptable as a fashion statement. They are: the
Legion of Net.Heroes!
Luke Nzikal arrived home in suburban Net.ropolis after a long day at
the office, intending to unwind with some online gaming before dinner.
He'd already doffed his coat and tie as he'd left work, and now begrudged
only enough time to change out of his starched button down shirt in favour
of a more comfortable t-shirt before settling down in front of his TV and
logging on to a session of Clown Incursion.
The premise to the game was simple. Actually working your way
through it was more difficult since it required a modicum of strategic
thinking. The world had been invaded by evil extradimensional clowns with
terrible Lovecraftian abilities. It was up to players - who belonged
either the faction of robot pirates or of zombie ninjas - to stop the
invasion. However pirates and ninjas hated each other, and with all other
factors being equal would get almost as much experience points from
knocking off their rivals as they would from destroying the clowns.
Players therefore had to gather information about each clown incursion
and carefully assess whether they could afford to go it alone, or whether
they needed to make a temporary alliance with their enemies.
Luke's pirate character Rustbeard was scouting a temple complex
rumoured to be a base of clown cultists when he encountered a slurping
horror. More and more of these dangerous beasts had been turning up as
random encounters recently, and their presence was a fairly solid
indication that there was a breach into the non-Euclidean realm of the
clowns somewhere in the area. But was it a small breach close by, or a
large breach at a greater distance? Was it possible that the recent
loss of contact with harbour city of Davenport was related to this, and
a major incursion was underway further down the coast?
Rustbeard drew his wheel lock blaster and fired at the horror,
which sidestepped the robot's attack with its ability to 17-and-a-half
dimensional shuffle. However the pirate had enough experience fighting
these creatures to recognise the manoeuvre and prepare an appropriate
counter-counter attack, drawing his vibro cutlass and making a broad
slice through a few of the most probable areas where the creature would
Luke frowned with concentration, then went "Wha?" as the picture
started to go wonky. The image seemed to be loosing resolution. No,
not *seemed*. The image was losing resolution; becoming more pixilated
as the creatures and objects on screen became blockier. The gamer
stared at the picture, and with both befuddlement and a knee-jerk
irritation wondered what was going wrong with his TV.
Then with a blinding flash of insight, Luke realised that they
weren't pixels at all.
They were spots.
He understood now. He understood *everything*!
Twitter frowned as she compared the two blouses. As any woman will
tell you there's something almost elementally pleasurable about going
shopping. In Twitter's case there was also something of a novelty factor,
since up until recently her lack of control over her powers had kept her
from being able to buy her own clothes at all. "What do you think?" she
Hell Catalyst looked up from the shoe display she'd been inspecting
and gave careful thought. "I'd go for the blue one for casual. The
lacey teal one looks more formal."
Twitter considered this. "Hm, yeah." And then a thought occurred.
"Although maybe something in spots."
HellCat blinked in surprise. "Spots? No, I don't think spots are
Twitter massaged her temples. "No, I don't think so either, But
someone around here does," she said, glancing around.
What happened next was not so much an explosion, since that implies
a physical concussion leaving devastation in its wake. Instead the flash
of colour left everything and everyone covered in spots - and the only
devastation that that caused was one of good taste. There were cries of
surprise and consternation from around the store.
"No, no, no!" said HellCat. "This is *not* the fashion statement I
was looking for!" She held up her arm to examine the patterns across the
back of her hand and on her sleeve. The spots were in different patterns
and different combinations of colours. Then she asked, "Uh, Twitter,
are you okay?"
"Spots!, They're everywhere, they're taking over the entire world!"
Twitter said, rubbing her eyes and beginning to speak in the rapid fire
blurt that she typically dropped into when she used her super speed.
"Well, it does kind of makes everything look like a Roy Lichtenstein
painting..." began HellCat, but she was brought up short when Twitter
stopped squeezing her eyes shut and looked at her with that almost
creepily intense stare she sometimes got.
"Not out here," Twitter said, flicking her hand to indicate the
clothing store. "I mean inside my head!" Her eyes darted about as if
he was looking for something. "Someone's got a supervillain level
monomania about spots." She vanished.
Hell Catalyst glanced around. She couldn't see any afterimages,
so she guessed that Twitter had moved out onto the street with her super
Twitter reappeared. "Come on, he's outside," she said, then
Hell Catalyst followed her. Twitter was standing on the curb, more
or less in one place, but all jittery and visible mainly because of
persistence of vision. "Look at this place, it's cover in spots, isn't
it great?" She blinked. "No wait, supervillain plot so spots are bad,
arrgh!" To HellCat she said, "Sorry I'm having trouble focusing."
"Just take your time," replied HellCat, reaching out with her own
power to influence other people. "Take deep breaths if you have to."
She glanced around, taking in the scene. "So where is 'he'?"
The city street was in a state of pandemonium, of course. However,
a far bigger problem was that it was also all but unrecognisable.
Nothing had actually changed shape, but the spots that covered everything
made them look different enough that it would take a while that the
pattern recognition abilities of people to be able to easily comprehend
what they were looking at. Confusion was inevitable. And as if to
emphasise the point, at that moment two cars collided.
"He headed off that away," Twitter said, pointing northward. "He
looked like a guy, but he was a couple of stories up so it was kind of
hard to tell, He seemed to be levitating on a field of Kirby Spots...
Dots!, I mean Kirby Dots."
"So he's definitely left the area?" asked HellCat, gazing out over
Twitter shrugged. "The overwhelming sense of spots being great is
fading, and all I'm getting now is the people around here being ticked
off with spots."
Hell Catalyst took out her communicator and called back to the
Legion of Net.Heroes HQ. "HellCat here. Guys, we've got a bit of a
situation in Greystanes. We're in High Street and everything's been
redecorated with spots, and I mean *everything*, even the sky. Twitter
thinks the source may be moving north from here. Can you do any
tracking from your end?"
"Well, now there's a coincidence," came the voice of wReamhack.
"We're getting reports that the north side of the harbour has been covered
in stripes. Hold up a second, we've tapped into the CCTV cameras so that
Multi-Tasking Man can plot a vector."
Hell Catalyst looked at Twitter. "You think maybe they're teaming up?"
Twitter shook her head emphatically. "The mind I felt hasn't got
room for anything other than spots."
"Okay," said wReamhack as he came back online. "Confirm that. Two
guys, one with a aura of spots, the other with stripes, and they're
moving towards one another at speed."
"Okey-doeky," said HellCat. "Listen guys, if it wasn't obvious
already, we think they could be moving in for a fight scene. You might
want to some heavy hitters there to break them up and keep them from
doing collateral damage."
"Limp-Asparagus Lad!" interjected Twitter suddenly. "He can try
and keep them calm with his powers."
"There's an idea," agreed wReamhack.
"Have you got the spot guy's starting point?" asked Hell Catalyst.
"Uhm, yeah. Not far from you, as a matter of fact."
"Okay, gimmee, and we'll go check it out."
The two of them texted down the address and made their way there.
When they arrived they discovered a house that had one of the walls
burst open, and a police cordon.
"Wow, look at that!" said Twitter, who rushed over at super speed
and examined the hole. "It's as though the wall wasn't just decorated
with spots, but turned into spots and lost its cohesion."
One of the cops raised his voice and called, "Hey, this is a crime
Hell Catalyst showed him her ID. "Legion of Net.Heroes," she said.
He raised an eyebrow. "What, are you the Spotty Sisters, or
something?" he snarked.
.oO( Oh dear, ) thought HellCat, and turned her powers onto him.
In a bright voice she said, "You know, it would be a really peachy keen
idea to let the Legion of Net.Heroes onto the scene so that they can
solve this problem as quickly as possible."
"Hey, yeah. It would be, wouldn't it? The guy who's already here
could use your help."
"Oh, I'm sure he could," HellCat gushed. "Thanks for everything."
Once they were inside the found the other Legionnaire crouched down,
examining the remains of a television with an exploded screen.
"Oh, hi there Occultism Kid," said HellCat.
"Hello, Hell Catalyst," said the trenchcoat wearing mage, glancing
over at the two women. "Got zapped by the Spot Lord, huh?" he said,
not without sympathy.
" 'Fraid so. We were shopping when the spots went down, and even
changing into costume hasn't helped fix this fashion disaster. Whatcha
got here?" she asked him, as Twitter impulsively moved forward to take
a look at the way the TV screen, but only the screen, had shattered
outwards across the carpet.
"Well, there's a *lot* of retcotheric energy related to our two
antagonists. But that isn't too much of a surprise, since they look like
they're literally a Lord of Spots and of Stripes. Anyway, I was kind of
hoping that there was some sort of artefact here that one of them might
have been drawing power from, like a battery..."
"Or even a portal that could be shut down, cutting off the power
flow," said Twitter offhandedly as she examined the TV, causing Occultism
Kid to look at her in surprise.
"Oh, right. You must be Twitter," he said. "Hold up a moment."
There was a second's pause, and then Twitter blinked in surprise.
With a touch of chagrin she said, "Oops. Sorry, I keep forgetting not
to do that. Neat trick, by the way."
Hell Catalyst was confused. "What?"
"Blocked my mind from being read telepathically," answered Occultism
Kid. To Twitter he added, "You might want to be careful about that. I
won't lie to you and say it wasn't at least partly about personal privacy.
But I also know a number of occult secrets - some of them really gut
churningly horrible stuff. That's not really something I'd want anybody
stumbling on by accident."
"Er, okay," said Twitter, somewhat disturbed.
He smiled reassuringly. "Hey, I'm not mad or anything," he said,
perhaps a little too quickly. "I just worry about people ending up on
the pointy end of good old 'things that humans weren't meant to know'.
Human sanity can be a fragile thing sometimes." He ahemed and
changed the topic. "Anyway, what we have here seems to be a direct
manifestation of one the Lords of Spots, using a human to incarnate
itself into a physical form.
"Just a second," said HellCat. " 'Lord of Spots'. You mentioned
that a second ago. Is that anything like the Lords of Order and Chaos?
Or that other one... The one involved in the affair with the undead
gorillas in the subway?" [_Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #4-5 - Footnote Girl]
"The Lord of Art," supplied Twitter - who even by accident was able
to telepathically retrieve the memory faster than HellCat could.
"That's it," agreed HellCat, "The Lords of Art and Nature."
"Something very much like that," said Occultism Kid.
"Uhm," went Twitter, who had by now slowed down to the point where
she was able to think about the notion for herself, rather than just
have the information randomly flash through her mind. "So how many of
those groups are there?"
Occultism Kid shrugged. "Scores of them. As many as the
Looniverse's Drama field can bear. Look, the force of Drama thrives on
conflict, yes? And one form of conflict is the dynamic antagonism
between cosmic dualities. Everyone knows about Good and Evil, and Order
versus Chaos. They're very high level ones of course, among the
universal dualities. Spots versus Stripes are lower down the scale.
Much lower. They're one of the parochials, after all. But they can
still cause a lot of trouble when they manifest in the material world
and starting butting heads with each other."
"Oh, poopy. And here we were thinking it was simple supervillain
monomania," said HellCat sardonically. "So, what ideas do we have for
Occultism Kid stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked
thoughtful. Twitter began to pace around the room. "We can't cut off
their power supply," she said.
"Correct," agreed Occultism Kid. "Their power seems to have been
internalised. We could wait until the human bodies burn out from
overload, but there are issues of 'protect the innocent' and the amount
of collateral damage that would be done in the meantime."
"Could you... I dunno... exorcise the power from them?"
"Possibly," he said, "But they're packing a *lot* of power.
They'd have to be overpowered and restrained..."
"Oh, that shouldn't be too difficult," HellCat said. "All we have
to do is call up Kid Kirby or Cheeezarr. It's not like the Legion
doesn't have powerful members."
"Ooo! Ooo, ooo, ooo!" went Twitter, who started bouncing up and down
in a very good impersonation of Kid Enthusiastic. "I know, we use their
power against them!"
"Look, it's about conflicting opposites, right? The clash of two
types in a dynamic antagonism? But that's not the only way that
opposites interact! Black and white can mix at the boundary to make
grey. And then there's synthesis! The classic yin-yang symbol, where
each half complements the other, and they have a bit of the other within
themselves. Can you do something to make them cancel each other out
rather than going all matter-antimatter explodey?"
"They'd still have to be restrained in one place, probably in some
sort of magic circle," mused Occultism Kid. "But on the plus side, it
would be a lot quicker than trying to build up a separate charge of
energy to neutralise them both." He looked at Twitter, "You know, I
think that might be a workable plan."
A hasty quarter hour later:
Fearless Leader took a skycycle and flew up to where Limp-Asparagus
Lad was floating several hundred metres away from the sparring Lords of
Spots and Stripes. Fortunately 'sparring' was all they were doing -
dancing around each other and making occasional feints as they tested
each other's strength. So far Limp-Asparagus Lad's drama dampening
powers had been able to ensure to that at least, and kept the two from
escalating into a full-on no-holds barred fight scene.
Occultism Kid had expressed relief and gratitude for that after he
had realised how much power the two Lords had. He'd taken mystic
soundings to estimate their power levels in order to be able to properly
delineate the energy strictures of his own spell - and discovered that
they were at minor cosmic level. If they'd been allowed to fight one
another, or even been engaged for subdual by some of the more powerful
LNH members, then they were packing enough power to shatter the
As he made his way towards Limp-Asparagus Lad, Fearless Leader
noted that they'd already done enough damage. There was a several
square kilometre zone of the suburbs along the north shore of the
harbour which had been evacuated, and within which the landscape had
been twisted into some piece of strange abstract art, or in a few
locations simply disintegrated. There were also a few news helicopters
hovering out beyond the edge of the air exclusion zone that had been set up.
Fearless Leader pulled up next to L-ALad, who briefly nodded to him.
"How're things holding?" Fearless Leader asked.
"Quite well, actually," replied the Man of Dull. "They do not seem
to be interested in much more than directly opposing each other, and I
am keeping that to low level antagonism. They also don't seem to want to
use the ground or buildings as cover, the way humans would."
Fearless Leader nodded. "That would make sense. If they're cosmic
principles and even their indirect fallout can reshape the landscape,"
and here he made another glance at the twisted land below them, "then
incidental obstacles aren't much of a hindrance to them, and they'll
simply ignore everything else." He raised an eyebrow. "That may be why
you've been able to sneak in so close and dampen them down: it's not
within their mindset to consider anything other than their direct
opponent when fighting."
"For which I am duly appreciative," said Limp-Asparagus Lad,
"Have they dropped any useful pieces of information while they've
been bombasting at each other?"
"They haven't been bombasting at each other," said Limp-Asparagus
Lad. "They haven't been talking at all."
"Really? Huh, well, that's kind of creepy. Oh well. Look,
Occultism Kid is about to start his big yin-yang spell. We're going to
try and drive those two over to the magic circle that he's laid out on
the basketball courts at Blueberry Fields. Keep your powers focused on
those two during the time the others are herding them to the trap, then
cut off the moment Occultism Kid says he's starting the spell.
Fearless Leader activated his communicator and said, "We're right
"Roger that," came the voice of Innovative-Offense Boy from the
other end. "Beginning operation now."
There was a roar of jets as Johnny Stomper's StomperRobo came in
on a flat trajectory and crashed tackled the Lord of Stripes, dragging
him several kilometres towards the target area. The Lord of Spots
followed, as expected. However about three quarters of the way there
the Robo disintegrated into lines of vector graphics as the Lord of
Stripes used his abilities against it.
The Lord of Spots moved forwards to take advantage of this
distraction, only to be caught by the same tactic as Irony Man grabbed
him and began to drag him along as well. CAPTAIN CAPITALIZE likewise
joined the fray, in a somewhat successful attempt to get the Lord of
Stripes closer to where Occultism Kid needed him.
The Lord of Spots dismissed Irony Man with an omnidirectional burst
of spots that acted like a repulsor ray (how ironic). The net.hero was
sent flying backwards, but circled around, looking for another avenue
And throughout it all, the two Lords stayed eerily silent, not
engaging in any sort of supervillainous banter at all.
At ground level Innovative-Offense Boy lowered his binoculars with
a shake of his head. "It *@?>*% well looks like we've reached the point
of diminishing @=!@# returns," he said to Occultism Kid. Into his
communicator he said, "Okay guys. Pull the %$(&} back. We're going to
'[#@/ well try for the second +#*' plan." Then he looked at another
Legionnaire, who was standing beside Hell Catalyst. "Looks like you're
#?/}* well up, Hood."
<( Very well, )> said the Hooded Ho''od Win. She threw wide her
hands in a dramatic gesture and announced, <( She Who Must Know demands...
Wh'oo'd Win in a contest between the avatars of the Lord of Spots and the
Lord of Stripes in a race to their allocated positions in Occultism Kid's
magic circle. )>
For nearly two whole seconds nothing seemed to happen. <( They are
resisting, )> said the Ho''od Win through gritted teeth.
"You want to #*&@!ing well burn a plot device?" asked Innovative-
"No, here they come," said Occultism Kid as the two Lords suddenly
made a beeline for their respective halves of the huge yin-yang circle.
"NOW!" he yelled, punctuating the exclamation with a slicing motion to
indicate that everybody should halt trying to affect the two Lords with
their abilities; he didn't want any other superhuman powers present and
interfering with the spell of synthesis.
As Innovative-Offensce Boy relayed that order over the communicators,
Occultism Kid activated the spell. Once again there was a pause as
nothing seemed to happen, but as soon as the two cosmic principles
within its bounds began to throw their spots and stripes against each
other, the circle began to glow as the energy was siphoned off. The
lines of the yin-yang pattern of the circle began to throb. The Lords
appeared to ignore this, until a critical point was reached. From
then on the circle was no longer absorbing any free energy that had
been let loose within its bounds - it was now actively leeching power
off from the two of them.
Now the Lords of Spots and Stripes struggled to free themselves from
the magical trap that they found themselves in. It didn't do any good.
They lashed out with explosions of spots and cutting rays of stripes, but
these were simply whisked away to the edges of the circle where they were
absorbed. The pattern inscribed on the ground began to pulse with greater
vehemence. The two prisoners tried to move to the edge of the circle and
perhaps force their way through the barrier, but they discovered that
they had each gravitated to the eye at the focus of each half of the
yin-yang symbol and could not leave that spot. And then the circle began
"Whoa!" went Twitter. She had been up close examining the glow of
the circle, but now jumped backwards to join the other few LNHers standing
beside Innovative-Offense Boy. The spin of the rotating circle made a
menacing whoosh-whoosh-whoosh noise as it sped up, despite the fact that
the only physical things within it which were moving the two Lords. Power
was streaming out of them, and now for the first time they could be heard
making a noise as they yelled in outrage and then screamed in fear.
Their terror did not impress Occultism Kid. "Those bodies do not
belong to you," he said in a brokes-no-nonsense tone of voice. "Begone,
and do not return!"
The rapidly rotating circle was now glowing too brightly to look at
directly, and then with a mighty clap of thunder there was detonation.
When people could see again the circle was no longer glowing or
rotating, and two figures were lying unconscious on the ground. Occultism
Kid stepped forward to take the pulse of the closest man. Other
Legionnaires moved forward to check the other; Twitter got there first, of
course. "Still alive, but very weak," observed Occultism Kid." He looked
at Innovative-Offense Boy. "A job well done, I would say."
"You're not finished just yet," said Hell catalyst, as the paramedics
moved it to take the unconscious men to hospital. Occultism Kid was
confused. "What else besides cleaning up is there?" he asked.
"Some of us aren't interested in going about in spots or stripes for
any longer than is necessary," she said, pointing to one spotty hand.
Occultism Kid rolled his eyes. "May the Sera.pin-numbers have mercy.
There's always *something*," he said ruefully.
Captain Capitalize, Hooded Ho''od Win and wReamHack created by wReam
Fearless Leader created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen).
Innovative-Offense Boy created by uplink (John Scheibeler).
Irony Man created by Doug Moran.
Hell Catalyst created by Jeff McCosky.
Johnny Stomper and Occultism Kid created by Josh Geurink.
Limp-Asparagus Lad created by wReam and owned by Saxon Brenton.
Twitter created by Rob Rogers.
Written for the 8th High Concept challenge: Opposites.
Kind of unfocused as a story. But Twitter is always fun to write,
and she's even more hyper here than she was in _Beige Midnight_ for
reasons that I suppose one day Rob and/or myself will have to get around
to explaining in detail. (Actually, an early idea was to team Twitter up
with Writers Block Woman, and see how Mouse coped with *two* women whose
powers made them somewhat scatterbrained.
Saxon Brenton University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3
If It Exists, You'll Find it on SEEK. Australia's #1 job site
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