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Sat Sep 18 19:01:21 PDT 2010


Digital JUMP!

Written by Andrew Perron
Cover art by Hirofumi Ichikawa

Issue #6 - FLABBERGAST!  My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us 



The cover is dominated by a pair of Crisis-style overlapping Earths 
against a field of stars.  Below these are the similarly-overlapping 
Like Rouge and Faded Iron Master, leaping to the left and right, 
respectively.  The bottom tenth of the page is a line of robots, 
wizards, and monsters fighting, with Kid Enthusiastic, Casey von 
Aluminumfoil and Malachite Wendigo caught up in the brawl.  In the 
lower-right corner sits an overly-stylized logo proclaiming "Warriors 
of Light: Part III!"



THE PLOT THUS FAR: Kid Enthusiastic and Casey von Aluminumfoil are new 
members of the LNH.  They've teamed up with Malachite Wendigo and the 
Faded Iron Master, refugees from the future of a world of magic, where 
the Zinc Oxide Tyrant has conquered their home.  Along with Like Rouge, 
a young questor from that world's present, they've crossed dimensions 
searching for the Four Atavists, keys to beating the Zinc Oxide Tyrant 
and the semi-mysterious Baron MacNottherealvillain.  After being beat 
to the Atavist by the Baron last time, they've split up, sending teams 
to two worlds at once in an attempt to keep at least one Atavist out of 
the Baron's hands...



Like Rouge sighed.  She was not what one would call an especially 
patient woman, but she liked to imagine that she had fairly deep 
reserves of self-control.  Yet these were ebbing away.

First, she had been selected to accompany the erstwhile ally known as 
Kid Enthusiastic.  While he had bravery, intelligence and boundless 
energy, there was a quality he completely lacked - restraint.

Second, the author clearly realized he'd neglected to name her 
homeworld in any previous issue, and had, in the recap, tap-danced 
around the subject with all the grace of a buffalo on stilts.

Third, finally, and most enragingly, the giant robots were ignoring 

"Hey!" Kid Enthusiastic hopped up and down on a portable trampoline, 
shouting into a loudspeaker.  Humanoid constructs of futuristic design 
and gargantuan proportions walked by, pointedly turning their 
mechanical noses up. "Hey robots!  Has anybody seen an evil guy wearing 
a cape and flying around calling himself Baron Somethingorother?  Hey!  
Hey you!"

She rubbed her temples.  It was time to carry out plan B, before her 
reserves ran dry.  She pulled out a pair of pants apparently made of 
vegetable matter.  It took a bit of effort to get them on over her 
hardened leather trousers (true armor, not that fanservice stuff), but 
once she did, she started growing.  Robots stepped back to stare.  She 
grew until she had reached their scale.

Like Rouge picked up Kid Enthusiastic and placed him on her shoulder, 
where he quickly deployed his giant-human-climbing gear.  She turned to 
the robots and said, "I am Lady Carmine Aurum--" She glanced at Kid E, 
then shook her head. "Lady Carmine Aurum, of the land of Rutas on the 
world of Amalgama." That took care of that. "Prithee, O metal sirs, 
where are we, and why were you so kindly letting us be?" She arched one 
giant eyebrow.

One blue-and-silver robot stepped forward. "You're in the Silver City, 
which covers this unnamed planet.  And, well... we were afraid you were 
the Annoying Human Characters."

Like Rouge sighed.


Casey flinched back as slavering jaws snapped in front of his face and 
tossed the wolflike monster into the soldier that had summoned it.  He 
could feel the strength spell Mala had cast on him ebbing away, but she 
and the Faded Iron Master had their own soldiers to deal with.  Dressed 
in vaguely Roman armor, these two seemed to have half-merged with their 
monsters, one sporting bright pink wings and sharp talons, the other 
with long vines extending from her fingers.

Well, now that he had a bit of breathing room...  Casey focused his 
telepathy on the soldier attacking him.  The wariness and the sense of 
duty were obvious.  His next action was just below the surface, and as 
Casey dodged, he was glad that the soldier either didn't think or 
didn't know to shield his thoughts.  Probing a bit further, he found 
the reason for the attack, and a bit more digging revealed the 

Casey stepped back and held out his hand, two fingers pointed forward, 
thumb cocked back.  He laid it flat, palm towards the ground, and said, 
"Civilized humanity requests the aid of the Legion of Chi-Gamma, the 
Second Empire."

Why yes, he did feel slightly ridiculous.

The soldier stepped back.  He looked Casey up and down warily, then 
shouted to his comrades, whose extra parts faded away.  The wolfish 
monster stepped behind the soldier and disappeared, though Casey could 
still feel its presence.  He made the same gesture in return. 
"Chi-Gamma is the ally of civilization.  I, Matthaios Hekatontarch, am 
your ally."

Casey's tendons stopped jangling. He pulled more of the local language 
from the minds around him, and replied, "Thank you very much.  We--"

Matthaios let his hand drop, a most un-ally-ish expression on his face. 
"Now, if you would explain precisely which civilization you hail from?  
You are Gamman in countenance, but your accent is atrocious, and your 
clothing bizarre."

The jangles returned. "Ah, well, we're from..." Out of the corner of 
his eye, he spied Mala and the FIM walking up behind him. Okay, time to 
go for the truth ploy, in terms as accurate as he could find in the 
soldier's vocabulary. "We're from a world to the side of this one, and 
we're chasing a lawbreaker named Baron MacNottherealvillain who's 
trying to steal a powerful mystical artifact." Shaped like a Zippo 
lighter, he didn't add.

Matthaios raised an eyebrow. "I see.  Well, then, let's be off!"

Casey blinked. "What, really?"

"Certainly!  We'll go right down to the local garrison, so that we can 
gather reinforcements and I can report you to my superiors." He gave a 
not-quite-smirk-but-manages-to-be-even-more-annoying. "It's only a 
day's march; we'll be back in no time."

Casey's thought bubble was full of angry punctuation.  This minor 
functionary had decided that flaunting his power and showing up the 
foreigner were more important than the interdimensional supervillain, 
and the supposed mentor figure here wasn't helping. "Sir, I'm afraid 
there's no time!  This man is cunning and subtle, and if we don't stop 

The Hekatonarch silenced him with a 'tut, tut'. "Such are the orders of 
the Emperor, or, at least, his duly-appointed representative, and..."

Casey tuned him out.  This wasn't working.  He stepped back slightly, 
shifting his pose so as better to make a feint to the right, allowing 
him to flee at an angle that would bring them through the soldiers' 
blind spots and across the ridge to cover.  He could see the other two 
eying him and his allies speculatively, and knew that he'd have only 
seconds once he acted.  Okay, one, two--

Suddenly, a clear voice rang out across the battlefield. The 
conversational tone shattered the tension in the air. "Once, I probably 
would've brought a party platter to a meeting like this, or at least a 
deep dish pizza.  But for now, I must remain..."

Matthaios snarled. "The Munich Stranger."

The figure took a bow.  He wore a black canvas duster, a wide-brimmed 
fedora, and pointy-toed cowboy boots over jeans and a faded black 
T-shirt.  He held an oaken staff carved with runes, and to Casey, he 
seemed like a jumble of anachronisms in this vaguely-Roman high fantasy 
world. "Sorry to interrupt what must've been a deeply satisfying 
tirade, but I'm afraid these fellows are under my jurisdiction."

"Damn your meddling, Stranger." Matthaios's face was red, but his voice 
was quiet and low. "One day, I'll see your mocking mouth closed."

With that, he turned and strode away, the other two following after a 
moment's hesitation. The Munich Stranger shrugged. "Some people can't 
handle a bit of mystery in their life."


Once Like Rouge had explained that neither she nor Kid Enthusiastic was 
planning to hang about providing an identification figure for young 
viewers without contributing to the plot, the robot relaxed 
considerably.  Her name was Quicksilver; Like Rogue didn't question how 
robot gender worked.  Like everyone else here, she had the ability to 
transform - in her case, into a speedboat.

"I've never heard of this Atavist of Earth thing, but odds are it's one 
of the magical artifacts the NefariKingdom stole."

"The whoozywhat?" asked Kid Enthusiastic, who had set up a pair of palm 
trees and a hammock on Like Rouge's shoulder.

"A mysterious force of darkness that's been popping up lately and 
executing evil plans at various locations around the City.  No idea how 
you'd find them, though; they attack without warning, seemingly at 
random.  More than likely, they're hundreds of miles away from here."

Just then, a senses-shattering explosion sounded directly behind them.

"...of course," admitted Quicksilver, "I could be wrong."

Out of the smoke and flames stalked a robot in blue, black and 
gunmetal.  It had a regal bearing and, for some reason, was wearing a 
cape. "Hah!  The Reverse Rappacini Generator is mine!"

Then Like Rouge kicked him in the face.

The thunk! of flesh against metal was as solid as she'd hoped.  The 
Giant Pants made her durable enough to get around the square cube law, 
which meant she could punch robots with impunity.  Kid Enthusiastic 
zipped by, the hammock hastily turned into a hang glider, and zapped 
the robot with the emotional energy of people who were offended by the 
stupid, pointless, juvenile jokes in Transformers 2. (HATE HATE HATE)


The robot flinched, stepping back and snarling. "So, more who attempt 
to defy Hassitron, First General of the NefariKingdom!  Very well; let 
entropy be your fate!" He thrust out his hand, and a vortex of fine 
particles formed in the air, swirling towards our heroes.

Kid Enthusiastic's glider blew out of the sky, but luckily, the airbag 
deployed.  Like Rouge covered her face as the tiny particles blew at 
her.  A few of them got in her mouth, and she spat at the pungent tang 
of corroded metal.  Rust!

Obviously meant as a debilitating weapon against the metal men of this 
world - but was she any less vulnerable?  Sharp flakes of metal 
scratched at her leather and her skin, and she couldn't make any 
headway against the wind.  Only hope was to grope at her backpack and 
pray to come up with something--

"Stop right there!" A sudden zephyr blew away the storm of oxidation.  
There, on a nearby ledge, stood a quintet of robots, whose curvy 
silhouettes suggested both skirts and boats. The one in front, in 
white, red and gold, pointed at Hassitron. "Oxygen is meant for the 
chemical reactions that support organic life!  It's not meant to bring 
death at the hands of evil!"

The rest of the team posed. "Solar Storm!" "Solar Stream!" "Solar Bay!" 
"Solar Ice!"

"Solar Tide!" The lead robot changed into an even more over-the-top 
pose. "Solar Sails, into the wind!"

They leapt at Hassitron, acrobatic kicks and martial arts attacks 
leading the way.  Like Rouge pulled out her Quarterstaff of Magic 
Missile and made her way across the fray, ending up next to Solar Ice.

"It seems in every world I visit, there are warriors with two names and 
two identities," she murmured, winking at the blue-and-silver robot.

Solar Ice was flabbergasted. "But how did you recognize me?  My ID
 transponder's changed, my emissions frequency is shifted - even my 
 neutrino profile's altered!"

"Well, yes, but you don't really *look* any different."

Hassitron screeched and threw off his attackers. "Enough of this!  The 
prize is more important, but don't think you've seen the last of me!" 
He leapt into the air, transforming into a fighter jet and screaming 
off into the sky.

"Melkor's ambiguous genitals!" Like Rouge shouted.  She turned to the 
Solar Sails. "Where did he go?"

Solar Bay shrugged. "If we knew *that*, we'd go kick the colorful 
euphemism out of 'em."

"They appear and disappear without warning!" said Solar Storm. "They're 
faster than we are, and there's no way to track them!"

"Would tagging them with a pulsed ion trail help?"

"Well, sure, but who... could..." All heads turned to Kid Enthusiastic, 
holding an ionic tracking device and grinning widely.


"In answer to your unspoken questions," said the Munich Stranger as he 
lead our heroes along the wide brick path to the Imperial Hub, "yes, I 
am the local equivalent of the Dvandom Stranger, guardian of reality 
and mover-along of the plot.  This is the continent of Atanasoff on the 
world of Tellus Digita, the Atavist of Fire is with the Emperor, and 
the Baron hasn't gotten to it yet."

"You're being suspiciously helpful about this," said Mala. "My world 
has a Stranger too, and she usually just gives you a prod in the right 

He shrugged. "I was never very good at following union regulations."

Behind them, Casey uttered a piece of his mind to the Faded Iron 
Master. "You could've stepped in at any time, y'know!  If it weren't 
for Senor ex Machina over there..."

The FIM chuckled; quite infuriatingly, Casey thought. "You were 
handling it admirably.  Woulda been a sin to interrupt."

Casey pulled at his hair. "What is your *deal*?  I know you're hiding 
something, and not just because last issue's teaser talked about 'the 
secrets of Faded Iron Master'!"

"All will be revealed... in time." He chuckled at a private joke and 
strode forward, catching up to the others.  Casey ripped at follicles 
and followed.

The Munich Stranger arrived at the imposing bulk of the Imperial 
Palace.  He took them up a flight of stone steps, nodding to the 
imposing guards, and stopped at the intricately-carved door.

"This is as far as I can take you," he said, tipping his hat. "Gotta 
get back to being vague and mystical."

"Thanks, but... what will we find behind this?" Mala put her hand on 
the carvings of mythological beasts.

"Answers. And questions." He nodded, then stepped behind a column and 
was gone.

"...yeah, he's a Stranger," sighed Mala.  She turned the ornate knob, 
pushing open the great gate, and...


Shrunken back to human size, Like Rouge and Kid Enthusiastic rode 
inside Solar Ice as the Solar Sails sped along an intricate system of 
canals towards the NefariKingdom's arctic fortress.

"What shall we find when we arrive?" asked Like Rouge, readying her 
enchanted arsenal.

"All four of the NefariKingdom's generals, each as powerful as 
Hassitron, plus their mysterious leader.  Not to mention the many 
powerful artifacts they've stolen, most of which have impressive combat 

"Ooh, a Climactic Battle!" said Kid Enthusiastic, fiddling with 
something that looked like the chrome-plated lovechild of a hair-dryer, 
a wire hanger, and a cake mixer. "Sounds like fun!"

", you do realize--"

"I'd let him be," said Like Rouge. "Hyperactive lunacy seems to be how 
he gets things done."

The canals ran out, rudely interrupted by a sheet of ice punctuated by 
metallic spikes. The humans disembarked, Like Rouge donning the Giant 
Pants and growing once again.  They hiked across the frozen field 
towards the great steel fortress looming in the distance.

"Why haven't they attacked yet?" said Solar Stream, after ten minutes 
of darkness and howling wind.

"Perhaps they decided it'd be better to pull back to a fortified 
position," said Solar Ice.

"Excellent," said Like Rouge, grinning. "'Tis a boon when the enemy is 
running scared."

Finally, they reached the courtyard, littered with the scraps of dead 
shells, once living.  Solar Tide nodded to her compatriots, and they 
arranged themselves in a defensive formation.  With both hands, she 
pushed open the great gate, and...


...there stood the Emperor of Chi-Gamma, next to Baron 


...there stood the Four Generals of the NefariKingdom, right behind 
Baron MacNottherealvillain.


SD-Munich Stranger: "Next Issue!"

"Looks like things are more confusing than they seemed!  Big surprise!  
But it's shocking revelation after shocking revelation as we get into 
what the secrets we've been hinting at are!"

"Next time on Digital JUMP!  GRIPPING!  Space-Time Energy Projector!  
Part Four of Warriors of Light!"

"Kiss the vampire ladybug..."



Author's Note: The beat goes on!  Not much to say here, other than yay 
for more ridiculous references.  Can you tell the fictons these worlds 
were mashed together from?

Dvandom Stranger created by Dave van Domelen, Munich Stranger concept-
extended by Andrew Perron.  All other characters created by Andrew 
Perron.  Faded Iron Master is Reserved, rest of 'em Not Reserved.

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, Thanksgiving maaaaaaaaaaaaadness

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