LNH20: LNH20 Comics Presents #1: The Spoon of Destiny Saga Part 1 (1/2)

Adrian James McClure lord_soldeed at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 11 17:36:54 PST 2011

[I split this into two parts to keep readers from being crushed
beneath a wall of text. The second part goes up tomorrow.]

About 20 years ago, on the now-defunct newsgroup called
rec.arts.comics, a bunch of people started making up goofy superhero
names for themselves. This spawned an in-joke based roleplay that
somehow mutated into a gigantic, complex superhero shared universe
that outlasted most actual comics companies founded at the time.

Now, a new era in the history of the Legion of Net.Heroes begins with…

LNH20 Comics Presents #1:
The Spoon of Destiny Saga: "Lengthy Linger the Legion!"
Chapter 1 of a chaotic add-on cascade
by Adrian J. McClure (with one line of dialogue by Lalo Martins)
with thanks to Andrew Perron, Lalo Martins, Dave Van Domelen, and
Martin Phipps for advice, ideas and nitpicking

Gripping her sword steadily in her hands, Nerf Girl walked up to the
four-story art deco-ish building. The passers-by didn't even turn
their heads. She found herself just slightly irritated even though she
knew she shouldn't be. In most places a teenage girl in a skintight,
garish outfit (costume design wasn't one of her strong points, as she
herself admitted) with a Nerf sword in her hand would turn more than a
few heads. But here in Netropolis it was just another day. They seemed
more interested in the building then in her. But then again, this was
no ordinary building. This was the LNHQ, home of the Legion of

As she drew closer to the entrance, she passed statues of the great
heroes of the past, beginning with Googlemesh, said to be the first
hero. Then there were the founding heroes of the Golden Age: Lass
Lady, Golden Age Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man, the Society of
Wireless Heroes. She ignored the other statues, because she had work
to do and this paragraph was long enough already, and looked at the
statues of the Saviors of the Net. They had been greatest heroes of
the 90s, who had overcome many terrible enemies, up to and including
Death itself. But they were defeated at last by one of their own--
Captain Killfile--who killed them and channeled their powers into a
killfile, blocking out all superpowers as well as all technology and
magic above a certain level. These statues adorned the entrance of the
Tomb of the LNH Setup Kid, the one who'd brought together the
disparate groups of heroes that emerged as the killfile fell to form
the Legion.

She looked up at the statues of Sig.Lad and MechaKat, two of the
greatest of the Saviors. "Don't worry, Mom and Dad" she whispered.
"I'll make you proud."

She walked through the double doors into the lobby. Numerous other
brightly-costumed figures were milling around her, more than she'd
ever seen or even imagined in one place before. The sheer amount of
color made her eyes hurt. Some of them she knew about: You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough-Lad, Flashback, Manga Girl. Others she'd never
heard of before in her life. She'd done a lot of research into
superheroes and the LNH in particular after finding out who her real
parents were, but there was always so much more than she could ever

"Your name?" said the woman at the desk. She was dressed in a highly
professional suit and looked at her with an air of bemused tolerance.

"I'm Sigrid Franklins. Otherwise known as Nerf Girl. I'd like to join
the Legion of Net.Heroes."

She raised her eyebrows. Nerf Girl told her self not to be worried
that the receptionist didn't seem to impressed. After all, plenty of
applicants came here every week, and from what she'd heard the number
had more than doubled after the invasion. "Powers?" the receptionist
said, snapping her out of her daze.

"I can wield toy weapons, especially Nerf weapons, with the
effectiveness of, but real weapons are actively useless to me."

"I see," she said. "Do you want to make an appointment with Fearless
Leader? You'll need to fill out this form--"

"That won't be necessary," said a deep, commanding voice. She turned
around. It was a man in his middle thirties, though he had prematurely
white hair. He was dressed in an old-fashioned military uniform. He
was also ridiculously handsome, though she tried not to dwell on that.
"Fearless Leader! I--it's an honor to meet you, sir!"

"You're Sig.Lad's kid, aren't you?" he said. "It's an honor to meet
_you_." Fearless Leader had been a Savior once, she remembered. He'd
known her parents. Unlike her. "Kid Enthusiastic recommended you to
us. So you don't have to fill out any forms. You just have to--DUCK!!"

An enormous floating red tomato, gibbering and shrieking in some kind
of guttural alien language, whooshed through the air at Fearless
Leader. He pulled an old-fashioned-looking raygun out of its holster
and blasted at it. "Sorry about that. Still had some business to take
care of from the last mission. Anyway: all your paperwork is taken
care of, except for your initiation in the Peril Room."

He led her through the corridors of the LNHQ to a metallic doorway,
which swished open to reveal a misty jungle. "Wha--how?"

"Don't worry. It's just a hologram." He smiled blandly. She'd heard of
the Peril Room, but couldn't have imagined it would be this real. She
also realized that she wouldn't have been totally surprised if the
LNHQ had had a real jungle in it somewhere. "All right. Every new
recruit has to be tested in battle in the Peril Room against an
experienced member. This is your opponent, Ultimate Mercenary."

>From the mists of the jungle came a scrawny teenage boy that looked to
be a year or two younger then her. He was dressed in a masked ninja
outfit with far too many pouches. She instantly drew up straight and
looked down on him. "I was expecting a challenge," she said. "And why
is the Legion hiring mercenaries?

He bowed to her, somewhat resentfully. "I'm not a mercenary. That's--
that's just my name." He was trying to speak in a sort of Christian
Bale growl and not really succeeding. "I am a ninja, trained in battle
since the day I was born."

"Since the day you were born? You don't literally mean you were
trained as a baby, right?"

"It was painful. But it was necessary. I grew up in a world gone
wrong. The tyrant Apocalisp had wiped the Legion of Net.Heroes from
history, even Ultimate Ninja. But Ultimate Ninja had one fan left. And
that fan had a son. And that son had a clone. And that clone had a
son. Or maybe it was another clone. Or--or--I was the last one. The
last keeper of the Ninja's legacy. Ultimate Mercenary."

"Wait, what's an Ultimate Ninja?" Ultimate Mercenary cringed when she
said that. "Is this some kind of alternate timeline thing?"

"Yes," said Fearless Leader. "He's from an alternate timeline of an
alternate universe. We think. We're not really sure yet how he ended
up here." Great. She wasn't even actually a member of the Legion yet,
and she was already getting mixed up with alternate timelines. Still,
she shouldn't have any trouble defeating a teenage ninja who wasn't
even a mutant turtle. "All right. Let's get this done."

"Good. Remember, the Peril Room exists in a state of temporal grace,
so you can't be permanently injured. It's impractical to sustain the
effect over more than one room with the technology we have, but it's
very useful for this. So hit him as hard as you need to. Knock
yourself out. Or knock him out, whichever." He turned around and the
door swished shut behind him.

When the door closed, there was no more sign of it. The foggy jungle
seemed to stretch on forever. "I'm ready," she whispered, turning
around to face the boy. But there was no sign of him. Maybe he wasn't
quite as pathetic as he seemed? Nervously, she drew her Nerf sword,
which would have glinted dramatically if it were a real sword but just
kind of shone dully instead. Such was the price of her power.

Nerf Girl stilled her breathing and listened for the boy's footsteps.
She thought she heard them--but was it the footsteps of animals? She
couldn't tell. Suddenly, the boy jumped out of the bushes, striking at
her with his katana. She hurriedly parried him but just barely managed
to escape the blade. She hit with her best strikes but he matched her
stroke for stroke. Before long he had her pressed against the ground
and raised his katana. She wanted to protest about how katana weren't
even particularly strong swords and she should have broken it easily,
but she was out of breath.

Ultimate Mercenary raised his sword and readied it for the final blow.
She cringed, knowing that even if it wouldn't last in the long run it
was still going to hurt. He gave a loud ninja scream--or at least
attempted it, as his voice cracked halfway through. Against her will,
Nerf Girl found herself laughing. Ultimate Mercenary stopped in his
tracks, visibly dejected, and seemed to look around to see if anyone
was watching.

This gave Nerf Girl the opening she needed. She struck at his side,
and he started bleeding. She lashed out her legs and tripped him up,
then leaped upward and prepared to deliver a final blow of her own.
Her uniform had gotten torn, her muscles were sore, and she didn't
care. She was finally about to win.

That was when she realized they weren't alone. Something was rushing
at them from the jungle. More specifically, it was a six-foot-tall
skunk-woman clad in body armor, screaming at the top of her lungs.

"It's Agent-M!" shouted Ultimate Mercenary. "Duck!" He pulled out a
smoke grenade from one of his belt pouches, but tripped up and dropped
it. A cloud of smoke engulfed them. Nerf Girl instinctively dived out
of the way, only to find herself facing the skunk-woman's fist. She
couldn't get out of the way in time. The skunk-woman's punch connected
with her jaw, and she found herself knocked onto the jungle floor.
Then Ultimate Mercenary leaped dramatically from the smoke--he didn't
have quite enough coordination to avoid looking a little silly, but it
was better than what he'd done so far--and struck at her back. She
took the opportunity to kick her in the stomach, knocking her over.
Nerf Girl and Ultimate Mercenary got back up at the same time and
thrust at her together, but she dove out of the way and just seemed to
fight back harder. She leaped upward with a startling burst of
strength and pulled out her two guns. Red spots appeared on their
uniforms. "Bang. You're dead."

The skunk-woman snapped her fingers and the jungle faded away,
revealing a pale metal room. Fearless Leader re-entered. "Good work,

"What happened?" shouted Nerf Girl. "I wasn't supposed to fight her!
You didn't even give any warning!"

The skunk-woman nonchalantly pulled a cigarette out of her flak vest
and lit it. "You don't get any warnings in a real fight," she said.
"That was the test. That kind of thing happens all the time in the
field--you get into a fight with another hero, then you gotta team up
to fight someone else. Trust me, you lasted longer than most newbies."
She grinned, bearing her teeth. Nerf Girl had the sense that it was
supposed to be friendly, which somehow made it even more frightening.
"Oh yeah. I guess I'd better tell you who I am. I'm Agent Mephitidae,
but you can call me Agent-M. I'm the Legion's best kept secret."

"I… um… OK. So did I pass?" Her heart was beating the fastest it had
all day, and that was saying something.

"You passed all right," said Fearless Leader. "Welcome to the Legion."

"But... I lost..."

"Well, of course. Agent-M's been doing this since before you were
born. There's a reason veterans are veterans. If we expected every
newbie candidate to defeat a veteran, we'd never get any new members.
You did a lot better than I expected.” She could barely suppress the
instinct to squeal with excitement, jump up and down, and hug Fearless
Leader and Ultimate Mercenary. Then she realize she hadn't. She drew
the line at hugging the skunk woman, however.

But she winced with pain. Fearless Leader cursed under his breath.
"Don't tell me the Peril Room is broken again! Must be from the
Lycopersicon attack. We'll get it fixed in no time, trust me. For now
you'll report to Kindle."

"Welcome to the Legion," said Agent-M. She grinned widely. She seemed
to be trying to be friendly, which somehow just made it all the more
unnerving. "Hope you survive the experience!"

"Don't worry," whispered Fearless Leader. "She says that to everyone."

Ultimate Mercenary led her out of the room and guided her through the
hallway. "I am honored to have fought beside you, Nerf Girl. You are--
ah--you are worthy of a true ninja." He stopped and made an awkward,
extravagant bow. She curtsied and smiled nervously. Her training
hadn't really covered socializing with ninja. "I'm, um, honored to
have fought beside you too, Ultimate Mercenary. You're name's kind of
long. Can I call you UM?"

"If you must." He winced. She couldn't help but giggle slightly. As
much as UM annoyed her sometimes, she felt glad that there was someone
else here who seemed almost as confused as she was.

He brought her to the infirmary, a large white room full of beeping
medical machines and superheroes stretched out on gurneys. A number of
people--some in costume, some not--were hurrying around the room to
attend to them. Beside a particularly badly injured hero stood a young
black woman with startling red hair, dressed in a white robe with
flame patterns on the edge. She was chanting in what Nerf Girl was
fairly sure was Latin. (She'd started learning Latin in case she got
trapped in a universe where Rome never fell, which she'd been told was
fairly common.)

The nun (if that's what she was) finished her chanting and sized up
the two heroes. "Fiddlesticks! Peril room broke again, huh?" Her tone
was rather more forceful than her word choice would indicate.

"Um, yes. I guess you're supposed to heal us. Who are you exactly?"

"Oh, right. I'm Kindle. I'm the Legion's resident healer." That was
good, thought Nerf Girl. Healers were usually pretty easy to get along

"You again?" she said, looking Ultimate Mercenary over. She glowered
at him. "Maybe if you actually listened to other people once or twice,
I wouldn't have to see you so often."

"I don't even need your help," snarled Ultimate Mercenary. "My secret
ninja herbs and spices are all I need."

"No they're not! Get back here!" she shouted, louder than she had
thought possibl, and Nerf Girl realized that her incongruous bright
red hair was in fact made of fire. It burst into life as she started
walking after him. "We'll see how much those things help you when I
kick your--" Then she realized that Sigrid was still waiting for her
and turned around. "Sorry," she said, not very convincingly.
"Shouldn't let him get to me like that. Those ninja never listen."

Once Kindle had laid her hands on her and healed her, which mad her
feel more alive and aware, but also somewhat irritated, she walked off
to find her quarters. Who was she going to ask for help? She barely
knew anyone here at this point. Then she spotted someone immediately.
"Kid E!"

"Oh, hi Sigrid, I mean Nerf Girl!" said the garishly-dressed ten-year-
old boy. Kid Enthusiastic was someone she actually knew. He was part
of a family of net.heroes that went back to the Silver Age, just like
hers; his parents had known hers fairly well and he'd been one of the
first heroes she met once she'd found out about her her parents about
year ago. He looked like he hadn't aged a day since he'd last seen
her. This was because, in fact, he hadn't. He'd been ten years old for
the last thirty years.  "Guess you made it, huh?"

"Well, I'm officially part of the Legion now. I guess. I, well, I
don't know if it'll actually work out. This is just too weird. And
that's coming from someone whose mother is a robot."

"Fair enough. But don't worry, you'll get used to it someday. It took
me five years or so to get used to being a net.hero, and then another
couple years to get used to not aging, and then five more years to get
used to the LNH when I joined. But I did eventually! Want me to show
you around?"

"No, I'd kind of like to go to my room and rest for a bit." Even after
her healing by Kindle, the room was still spinning around slightly. "I
want to be ready if a fight starts soon. I'll be some villain's
plotting something right this moment…"

"That sure sounds like a scene transition to me!"

And it was


In another, rather more run-down and dingier part of Netropolis sat a
decaying, grungy, cockroach-ridden apartment building. A man drove up
to the building and knocked on the door. He would have preferred to be
headed for Netropolis Plaza, where the LNHQ usually was. But he had a
duty to carry out. This was his city, the city he dedicated his life
to serving. It was a thankless job but only he could carry it out.

Brian walked up the stairs and knocked on the door. "Ditko's Pizza,

He waited for a minute or so until a doddering old woman dressed in a
garish muumuu opened the door. When he saw what was inside the
apartment, he couldn't help but gape in astonishment. It was covered
by a furry, writhing, yowling mass of cats. "Thank kindly you, dear,"
said the old woman, in a voice that sounded like a male British
comedian. She paid him--no tip, of course.

He handed over the enormous tower of pizza boxes to her. The old woman
took out a piece of pizza and handed it to a mangy and disgruntled-
looking gray cat. "Here you go, Eustace. Who's a sweet little kitty?
Yes you are! Yes you are!" He slammed the door in disgust.  She was
just another one of the parasites and scroungers that kept truly
great, productive men from taking their place in society. But he had
no choice. With great pizza, after all, comes great responsibility.

Once the pizza delivery boy had slammed the door, the old woman sat
back down on her rocking chair and went back to sewing and stroking
one of her cats, while others clustered around the chair, mewling and
growling for her attention. But she was interrupted by a cheerful
beep. Muttering under her breath, she took out something that looked
like a sort of art deco cell phone out of her pocket. "Yes, dear?"

"Cat Lady, this is Dr. Contraption. Operation Runcible is ready to
proceed to its final phase. Contact Ultravac at once. Over."

"I hear you loud and clear, dear," muttered the Cat Lady. She took out
her clunky Zenith Space Command remote control (which also doubled as
a death ray, in case any meddling heroes discovered her current base)
and turned on the antiquated black and white television. The cats
stopped in their tracks and turned their heads as one to the
televison. The Cat Lady began to stroke the cat in her lap in a
decidedly knowing and sinister way.

The screen flickered to show a mad scientist with frizzy hair seated
in front of an enormous supercomputer, covered in magnetic tape spools
and an imposing number of blinking lights. "Excellent," said the
scientist, rubbing his hands in glee.

"My spies have obtained blueprints for the LNHQ," said the Cat Lady.
"This would be an ideal time to attack because they are still
recovering from the battle with the Lycopersicons. I take it you've
arranged a suitable distraction?"

The computer spat out some ticker tape, which was picked up by a
shapely young woman dressed in a brightly-colored costume which
revealed a considerable amount of flesh in unusual places. "Indeed we
have," said the woman, reading flatly. "We are ready to commence the
final phase. The Spoon of Destiny will soon be ours." The computer
printed out another sheet. "No, no, you crazy dame, more drama,
exclamation point. I mean--" She drew up her shoulders and shouted--"I
mean, no, no, you crazy dame, more drama!" The computer printed out
some more tape. "That's better. Soon, the Spoon of Destiny will be
ours! Maniacal laughter. I mean, hahahahahahahaahaha!"

"You know, you could consider installing speakers," said the Cat Lady.
Dr. Contraption gasped in horror.

The computer printed out another sheet. "Speakers? What do you think I
am, some kind of iPod? I don't need any cloud computing or whatever
you punk kids are using these days, I'm the goddamn Ultravac! I am
quite simply the greatest supercomputer that has ever existed, and
under my leadership we will finally rub out the Legion once and for
all! Hahahahahahahaha!" The computer printed out another sheet. "Ha."

Meanwhile, the ticker-tape reader shuddered inwardly. She was a
college graduate with an English degree and this was the best job she
could get, because net.heroism, net.villainy and construction were
just about the only growth areas in the economy right now. She had
meant to get into women's studies, and now here she was wearing a
skimpy outfit and reading out printouts for a supervillainous
computer. Or was it a villainous supercomputer? Well, someday, she'd
pay off her student loans and then it would all be over. Someday…

[Continued tomorrow...]

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