LNH/LNH20/RACCies/NTB: Ultimate Mercenary #7 (1/3)
Adrian J. McClure
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 19 13:38:01 PDT 2012
Author's Note: if you've never read an LNH issue before, this is
probably not where you should start.
Ultimate Mercenary #7(of 6):
by Adrian J. McClure
A Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs Andrew Perron in Return of the RACCies
crossover (among other things)
with thanks to Andrew Perron for editing, feedback and ideas (and one
In an altered timeline ruled by the tyrant Apocalisp, the LNH was
destroyed and broken but its leader, Ultimate Ninja, fought on.
Eventually even he was killed but one fan survived to carry on his
legacy. And that fan had a son. And that son had a clone. And that
clone had another clone, and that clone had another clone. Finally,
that clone had a son: Ultimate Mercenary. After helping the LNH
avert his timeline, he joined them in protecting the present, more or
less serving as Ultimate Ninja's lackey and bootlicker. Now, however,
he is forced to survive apart from Ultimate Ninja with a ragtag band
of extremely confused allies, lost in time and space, desperately
trying to get to the crossover he's supposed to be in...
The blankness gradually began to fade away into a city. Ultimate
Mercenary saw the buildings and cars take shape from vague, blurry
outlines and heard the noise gradually growing in strength around him:
the singing of birds, the furious beeping of car horns, the
Well, this was Net.ropolis. Of course there was some kind of net.hero
battle going on. And they had been trying to arrive right in the
middle of a major crossover. Most halfway sensible people would go far
out of their way to avoid such a situation. Then again, most halfway
sensible people wouldn't be running from their lives from the
Crossover Queen and trying to save the universe from an even greater
threat they didn't quite understand. In fact, Ultimate Mercenary was
pretty excited about this. He'd been just about to take place in a
major crossover that hadn't actually gotten past one part before he'd
fallen into limbo. Then he'd spent what amounted to years of real-
world time jumping between parallel timelines. But now he was finally
here, in Net.ropolis, in continuity, right in the middle of a
crossover. Now was his chance to finally be a hero. He set off to
What was it he was facing? Well, it looked like a horde of dinosaurs,
Vikings, Roman soldiers, cyborgs from the future and other such
figures, surrounding an extremely attractive red-haired women in black
leather whose hands were glowing with an uncanny blue light.
"Oh, hey, cool!" said Manga Girl. "That's a Vector! We're in Birth of
"Oh no," said Masterplan Lad. "We're in Birth of a Villain."
"Wait, what's Birth of a Villain?" said Ultimate Mercenary.
"It was a long and immensely complicated cascade story from some years
back," said Masterplan Lad. "It involved the LNH's battle against the
Melissa Virus, otherwise known as Vector, and her many clones. This
isn't even close to the crossover we were supposed to be in. We have
to get out of here so we can help stop the Hungry Past. [See last
issue--ed.] Let's go before--"
But it was too late. Ultimate Mercenary had already charged into the
fray and hacking away at the cyborgs. Before long, Manga Girl had
leaped in beside him. "Hold it!" she said, raising her pen in the air.
"What do you think we're doing?"
A nearby Viking said something quite rude in Old Norse.
"Well, that certainly won't do! For I am the pretty guardian of love
and justice, Manga Girl, and in the name of Sequential Art, I will
punish you! My sidekick, Ultimate Mercenary, has already defeated
several of your cyborg allies, and now you'll see what I can do!"
"Sidekick?" said Ultimate Mercenary, but she took no notice. She raced
into battle, leaping and flipping around with a speed and elegance
that would make circus acrobats jealous. Every so often, Ultimate
Mercenary found himself stopping in his tracks for a moment to watch
her fight, before getting a rude awakening from a cyborg's laser
"Wait, stop!" shouted Victoria, barging into the battle and grabbing
Ultimate Mercenary by the shoulder. She was still holding the obsidian
blade she'd stolen from the Crossover Queen (not, of course, an ebony
blade, or even simply a black blade, as that would be trademark
infringement). "You've got to listen to him. We're needed elsewhere--"
The distraction was enough that he almost didn't move out of the way
of the cyborg's fist in time. Instinctively, Victoria raised her
sword. It began to crackle with little dots of black energy like those
that had surrounded Ultimate Mercenary in the Citadel. She swung
around with stunning speed and swiftness, and the cyborgs, legionaries
and such dissolved as the sword hit them. Her eyes had turned a blank
white. Ultimate Mercenary found himself wondering whether he should be
more afraid of their enemies or her.
Ultimate Mercenary was about to ask what was going on when he realied
he couldn't move. Something had stopped him in his tracks. He couldn't
even breathe. He knew he should start feeling his consciousness slip
away, but he didn't. It was like he was trapped between moments. The
vague, awful memory of being in Limbo began to surface in his mind.
"Ah, net.heroes!" cackled the red-haired woman floating in midair.
"You are fools indeed if you think you can stop the power of--VECTOR
"We really don't have time for this," said Masterplan Lad, who was
unaffected, though he seemed to be visibly straining. "We're needed in
the future to face an enemy that threatens all existence. Let us go."
"Ha! There can be no power greater than mine!" said Vector Time.
"Oh wow, Vector!" said Manga Girl, dropping the two Vikings she'd been
in the process of manhandling. "You're one of my favorite villains!
All of you! I always wanted to fight one of you guys!"
"How--how can you stand against my power?"
"It's easy! With the primal power of comics and animation, I can wield
limited but highly effective control over the flow of time itself!
Manga Lovely Barrage!" She pulled the pen out of her pocket and time
slowed to a halt (again) as she drew a giant sparkling cyberpunk
cannon in the air, which shot out heart-shaped bombs. The bombs took
out Vector (along with several thankfully-abandoned storefronts) and
she blipped out of existence, taking all her army with her.
"That was easy," snarled Ultimate Mercenary. "Too--"
"Don't say it!" said Victoria, who seemed to have come to her senses.
Her eyes were back to their normal dark brown, and she held the sword
somewhat awkwardly in her hand.
"Victoria... Did you kill them?" said Ultiamte Mercenary.
"I... I don't think so, no. I sent them away. This sword... it has
some of the Crossover Queen's crossover power in it. I think."
"A sword that possesses people," said Masterplan Lad. "How utterly
original. Let me examine that." He held his umbrella up to the sword.
It let out a low, menacing growl. "I was wrong," he said. "Whatever
that thing is, it's not a sword."
"Its name is Arcanis," said Victoria. "I don't know how I know that,
"We've got to get rid of it!" said Ultimate Mercenary. "The last thing
we need is some kind of evil artifact hanging around and messing
things up even more than they already are."
"You're right," said Masterplan Lad, "and its influence is probably
the reason why we didn't arrive at the correct destination. On the
other hand, we also need to find a way to dispose of this artifact
safely. We can't just leave it lying around. We're still on the
threshold of the Crossover Citadel, so that means we can transport
into any crossover with very little effort. I can attempt to send us
to some sort of magic-themed crossover--perhaps Wrath of the
Administrator, the introduction of the Net.Trenchcoat Brigade.
Everyone, hold on!"
They all gathered around him and held on again. The Device began to
hum again, and then they were elsewhere.
They didn't notice the vague, flickering shape of a buxom red-haired
woman disappear along with them.
"This doesn't look like the Net.Trenchcoat Brigade to me," said
Victoria. They had landed smack dab in the middle of the LNHQ's
lunchroom. A part of it was sealed off by crime scene tape, where a
corpse of a gorilla lay in the center.
"We--oh, right. Ultimate Mercenary, you had a cameo in a Just Imagine
Saxon Brenton Presents the Raccies... Again! issue written by your
Writer. [#2--ed.] I assumed he was just going to explain it as a
temporary release from Limbo, but he never can resist the urge to
complicate things, can he?" He sighed. "You're going to forget about
everything for a moment to maintain continuity. Don't worry, it'll
"Wait a minute, I thought I couldn't--wait, what am I doing here?"
said Ultimate Mercenary. He shook his head and wandered off, dazed, to
not be picked by Ultimate Ninja
"So who are you guys, anyway?" said Manga Girl.
"I actually don't really know," said Victoria, "but my name is
Victoria Arden. Nice to meet you, I guess."
"And I'm Masterplan Lad." He stayed carefully back from Manga Girl,
almost as if he was afraid of her.
"Sure!" Manga Girl hugged Victoria enthusiastically. "Thanks for
saving my life. My name's Manga Girl."
"You don't have another name?" said Victoria.
"Well, I don't remember, but I guess that doesn't matter right now."
"You don't know what your past is either? Does our Author have any
idea what he's doing?" said Masterplan Lad.
"I guess not," said Victoria.
Ultimate Mercenary wandered back. "So, uh... Right, now I remember."
"Merc! Hi!" said Manga Girl, glomping him and kissing him on the
cheek. He flinched and instinctively put his hand on his sword. "Are
"No," he growled. "No I'm not. I just want to go home and get this
storyline over with."
"Oh, OK..." For the first time since she'd been freed, she looked a
little dejected. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes," he said. "It's you. Sort of. I used to know another Manga Girl.
She was... she was kind to me when not a whole lot of people were. And
I wasn't really good to them either. I didn't deserve her friendship.
And yeah, I was in love with her. And then... and then she died. I
didn't even know it until last issue. And then you came along, and
you're her, except you're not. And I don't know what to think."
"That... OK. I'm sorry. But don't worry! We can work through it... I
guess. The power of love can conquer anything!" She posed dramatically
"Is that why you were using that enormous gun?" said Victoria.
"Uh, well... Let's get out of here!"
"Indeed," said Masterplan Lad. "We have to--" Suddenly, his face
twisted into horror, disgust, and fear. "That--I--er--excuse me, I
have some business to take care of."
"What kind of business?"
"Something very important for, ah, destiny." And he quickly ducked
into the men's bathroom. "We might as well get it over with too," said
Victoria. She turned to Manga Girl and they laughed, then stepped into
the women's bathroom. Ultimate Mercenary, who had relieved himself
back in issue five, stood outside.
Suddenly Ultimate Ninja walked up to him, stiff and confident as ever.
"You!" he said. "I need you to secure the perimeter!"
"Sir? I thought you didn't--"
"Everything's going straight to Hell right now. The Killfile globes
are everywhere. We've just spotted one outside the HQ. I need you to
join the LNHers who are defending it. Now!"
"Yes sir!" said Ultimate Mercenary, who marched off to the entrance.
He realized the others wouldn't know where he was, and he probably
should have told Ultimate Ninja what was going on... Lost in thought,
he collided straight into Ultimate Ninja.
"You!" said Ultimate Ninja. "I need you to sign these forms in
triplicate and deliver them to Kyoko!"
"Wait, there's something important I have to tell you!"
"It can wait. Sign those forms now." Ultimate Ninja then strode off
into the hallway. Hurriedly scribbling on the forms, he ran for the
reception desk. And ran straight into Ultimate Ninja, again.
"You!" he said. "I have something very important. I need you go clean
"But--wait--there's something--wait, didn't you have a hand a second
If looks could kill, Ultimate Mercenary would have been dead seven
times over. "Do it now."
"Y--s yes sir." He ran off to the pool, the forms still in his hand,
and collided with Ultimate Ninja. "What are you doing here?" he said.
"Shouldn't you be guarding the LNHQ?"
"Uh--I mean--that is--"
"Who gave you those forms?"
"You did! Just a second ago!"
"Don't play games with me," said Ultimate Ninja. He pulled the forms
out of Ultimate Mercenary's hand, threw them in the air and cut them
into ribbons. Ultimate Mercenary looked on in horror. "Now get out
there!" He ran for his life and collided with, thankfully, Masterplan
Lad, with the other two standing beside him.
"Something's gone wrong!" he said. "We've shifted into a completely
different crossover--the Killfile Wars. That's not even in continuity
anymore! We have to go now!"
"I--But Ultimate Ninja said--" He didn't get to finish his sentence
before Masteprlan Lad grabbed his hand and they were gone.
The Melissa variant who called herself Vector Time cursed, but no one
heard her. She'd been unexpectedly time-displaced, dragged in the wake
of the time travelers she was fighting, which shouldn't have been a
problem at all with her powers. But she was caught in some sort of
temporal matrix which she couldn't escape, and the world seemed to be
in a state of flux around her. She couldn't make herself solid to
dispose of this irritating band of net.heroes.
The one with the mysterious device, who seemed to be something other
than human, shifted out and she found herself dragged along with them
again. The city felt more solid now, and he was putting visibly more
effort into maintaining the device. It would be some time before she
could fully recover. But she could certainly take advantage of this
unusual situation to throw a curveball or two their way. Then there
would be plenty of opportunity to carry out her creator wReamicus
Maximus's will and start sowing chaos...
"So where the heck are we now?" said Manga Girl.
"From the look of things, I'd say Sig.ago" said Victoria.
"This is so incredibly cool," said Manga Girl. "Has Dvandom Force been
founded yet? I wish we could go see Sig.Lad so I could get his
"He was destined to die," said Victoria. "Don't you think that's bad
enough without being annoyed by a cartoon character?" Manga Girl
laughed, seemingly undeterred.
"Well, I manged to get us to the right crossover. Though it wasn't
easy." He sounded short of breath. "The Plot Device needs to recharge
before making another substantial jump, and without... without the
Preceptory, that will take much longer. If I attempt before it's too
late, the Plot Device would burn out."
"And that would be bad?" said Ultimate Mercenary.
"I assure you it would. Luckily, most of our important business is
taken care of. There should be someone here in the NTB who knows how
to deal with this thing, and then this can all be over with. All we
need to do is find someone who can help us deal with this cryptic
sword of ours."
They were standing in a rather disreputable-looking part of Sig.ago,
or, as they were in a nominally more realistic Net.Trenchcoat Brigade
story, Chicago. They walked into the smoky, grimy, bar, crowded with
men in trenchcoats along with the occasional talking animal or muck-
encrusted monstrosity. They looked up, rather startled at the presence
of the shoulderpad-wearing ninja and the brightly-colored anime
heroine. A few trenchcoaters could be heard muttering about "bloody
Image, getting its grubby fingers all over everything."
"Excuse me," said Masterplan Lad to a nearby trenchcoater, "could you
help..." But he didn't seem to be responding. "Of course. Our Author
couldn't possibly be bothered to get permission to use any of the
original Trenchcoaters, could he?" He sighed. "You don't see the
Dvandom Stranger around here anywhere, do you?"
They didn't. The four heroes sat down at a table. Victoria grimaced at
the awful stench. Before long someone walked up to them. He was grimy,
stubbly, and British, a typical trenchcoater. He was covered in enough
dirt that it was hard to tell how old he actually is. "Who are you lot
and what are you doing here?" he said. "You're not spandexers, are
"Ah," said Masterplan Lad. "We're in a bit of a difficult situation.
We have an evil magical artifact of some sort that we need disposed of
before we take care of some business."
"Could you possibly be a little vaguer? You don't know the Dvandom
Stranger, do you?"
Victoria laughed. "Not yet," she said. "I... I was captured by...
someone bad, and I stole this thing from her. But now it's trying to
take me over, I think. I'm sorry I can't tell you more, there's time
"Time travel? Time travel?" He said something that would make Garth
Manga Girl gasped. "Hold it!" she said. "True adventurers do not use
such language!" The Anonymous Trenchcoater gave her a hateful look,
pointedly saying nothing.
"Still... stealing dubious artifacts from bad people... sounds good to
me." The anonymous trenchcoater grinned, revealing his yellow teeth.
"And then maybe we can get you into some proper clothes. Or out of
Victoria grimaced. "Sorry, I don't think you're my type. Maybe if
you'd taken a bath once or twice in your life..."
The Anonymous Trenchcoater laughed and clapped his hands together. "I
like this one, she's got a mouth on her. Well then. Let me have a look
at that sword." Victoria smiled uneasily. She held out the obsidian
blade, cringing once she touched its handle. "Hmmm," he said. "Those
glyphs on the blade... I've seen them somewhere before. Let's go find
a gate to the Library of Infinite Stories. But I've got to warn you,"
he said as they marched out of the bar, "there's all kinds of bad
magic in this city right now, like..."
They'd shifted somehow to another part of the city. There were three
men standing in front of them, blandly handsome, dressed in carefully
cleaned and pressed suits. They looked entirely alike.
"...the Universal Office. Bugger it."
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