LNH/LNH20/NTB/FWF: Ultimate Mercenary #7 (2/3)
Adrian J. McClure
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 20 08:23:27 PDT 2012
Part 2 of Ultimate Mercenary #7 follows:
"Excuse me," said one of the bureaucrats in a dull monotone, "you are
not authorized to cross over with this story."
"Leave it to me," whispered Masterplan Lad to the others, "I've dealt
with them before." He looked the bureaucrat in his unblinking eyes. "I
represent the Knights Temporal and am thus fully authorized to act in
"The Knights Temporal were erased from history," said the bureaucrat.
"Yes, but according to section 3 clause 1478 paragraph 29,482 of the
Phantom Timeline Act passed by the Council of Elder Gods,
representatives of organizations dedicated to the maintenance of
timelines which have been erased from history may continue to operate
if it is necessary to preserve an universe from destruction."
"Hmm," said the bureaucrat. He pulled a law book twice as large as him
out of his pocket, then flipped through it. "You are correct. However,
this area is still under interdict by the Universal Office, and you
must fill out the necessary forms before making any further
intervention." He pulled out three towering piles of forms from his
pocket. Masterplan Lad grimaced, pulled a pen out of his pocket, and
began to sign the forms, polishing off each pile in a minute. Once he
was finished, he handed them over to the bureaucrats, straining under
their weight, then collapsed on the ground.
The bureaucrats looked them over. "I'm sorry," they said in unison,
"these forms are not properly filled out." They smiled, revealing
mouths crammed full of little sharp pointy teeth. The forms rose up
and whirled around, taking the form of a gigantic human shape, which
opened its mouth and roared. The ground shook.
Ultimate Mercenary leaped over the prone form of Masterplan Lad and
hacked at the creature. Victoria felt the sword crawling into her mind
and threw into the heart of the creature before it could strike. It
flew in an arc, cutting off its arm, power gathering around it as it
traveled through the air. Then it landed back in her hand. Victoria
swore, keeping still through considerable effort of will. The
Anonymous Trenchcoater picked up a newspaper lying on the ground,
picked up a match, and lit it on fire, throwing it at the golem's
face. It pulled it off, screaming, and pounded its fist on the ground,
knocking the heroes off their feet.
Manga Girl had been standing still all this while. She held her pen
outstretched, her eyes closed, and mumbled something under her breath.
An aura of light surrounded her and she floated a few inches in the
air. Thus she was unaffected by the golem's shockwave. The tip of her
pen began to glow white-hot. Finally she spoke: "Manga Creativity
Burst!" The world seemed to freeze around her as she whirled around
the creature and doodled on the forms that made it up. The creature
roared again, but its voice began to falter. The papers started flying
off of it, moving into a whirlwind with the brightly glowing golem in
the center. The bureaucrats flattened out and shifted into yellowed,
decaying forms, which crumbled into nothing.
When the light died down, Ultimate Mercenary took in his surroundings.
They were back in Net.ropolis... but the streets were deserted.
"Where is everybody?" Victoria scratched her head.
UM extended his finely-tuned ninja senses. Suddenly, he caught it:
flickers, just on the edge of vision. He gripped his blade.
Masterplan Lad groaned and propped himself up on one arm. He looked
blearily around the empty city. "Looks like a Flame Wars, but I
don't... *quite* recognize it..." He looked over at Manga Girl and
poked her with his brolly, and she stirred.
"...oh, but Gackt, as a priestess of Suzaku I must remain... uh?" She
blinked. "Ohhhh... why does my head feel like it drew aggro in the
middle of a buffalo stampede?"
Ultimate Mercenary's eyes flicked back and forth, his body moving from
defensive pose to defensive pose. "They're all around... why aren't
"Perhaps we should ask him." Victoria pointed down the road.
Suddenly, Masterplan Lad's cosmic senses went off. "No, that's...
uh... doesn't seem like a good idea..."
The being that approached them wasn't overwhelming, like the
Headhunters had been. In fact, it looked faintly ridiculous. A
grayish-purplish bodysuit, a blue circle in the center of its chest
with an "L" in Times New Roman. A bored expression on its face as it
walked towards them, moving almost begrudgingly, like it had better
things to do.
And yet, as it drew closer... avoiding it? Confronting it? Hell, just
talking about it? These things seemed like way too much hassle. I
mean, you know, you *could*, if you really wanted. But... enh. Why?
Why do *anything*?
And then suddenly it was like the atoms of their bodies were being
pushed through a perpendicular screen of jelly. The thing
disappeared, and they found themselves in a faded, half-real version
of Net.ropolis, with people standing or sitting around on the
A different kind of being stood next to them now. He/she/it wore an
all-covering suit of fractal patterns, blues and purples and reds,
constantly shifting. It was funktastic. "Sorry about that, folks.
Supervillain attack. If you could just sit tight until it's o-- wait,
"...you." Masterplan Lad's eyes narrowed. "Chaos Theory." He spat the
words as if they were coated in denatonium benzoate.
"Ah." The being sounded vaguely amused. "A Knight Temporal. Thought
you'd all thrown in the metatowel."
MPL pushed himself to his feet. "Your timeindex shows you're still
supposed to be rotting in the Transfinite Black Hole. Did you finally
find someone willing to support your insane crusade?"
Chaos Theory chuckled condescendingly. "Well, if you call the Agents
"The Agents of the Intergalactic Network?" Masterplan Lad sputtered.
"They were the ones who put you away in the first place!"
Victoria sidled up to Ultimate Mercenary. "Do you know this guy?"
UM had relaxed somewhat; they were safe, for the moment, so he knelt,
tending to Manga Girl. "I've never heard Masterplan Lad mention 'em,
but who can follow him when he gets into the cosmic stuff?"
CT laughed. "Seems they needed someone experienced with Hypertext
Time. And, well..." They shrugged, body language going uneasy. "At
this point, things are complex enough that I wouldn't reject the help
of a Knight Temporal out of hand."
"Ah." MPL coughed. "Well, unfortunately, we have pre-existing
"Ah. Of course." They took a step back. "Well, don't allow me to keep
"Indeed. Thank you." He turned away.
"Don't mention it." They looked off into the distance.
Manga Girl looked back and forth at the two of them. She whispered,
"...shipping senses tingling..." Then a shadowy figure appeared, and
they thought they heard the sound of mocking laughter. "Here we go
Chaos Theory sighed and turned around. "Look--"
But the team was gone.
They sighed, shaking their head, and slipped in between the URLs of
"So what the heck was that all about?" said Ultimate Mercenary.
"Foreshadowing," groaned Masterplan Lad. "I feel as if I've had enough
of it for a lifetime."
They were back in the real Net.ropolis. "I wonder what it is now" Then
she saw the answer. A horde of misshapen little green creatures were
rushing toward them, shouting incomprehensible insults.
"This is Flame Wars IV!" said Masterplan Lad. "Those are people who've
been transformed into trolls by OMAR."
"I--what--how--" Victoria. She was staring off into the distance,
Ultimate Mercenary was about to ask what the Flame Wars IV was, but he
soon found himself buried beneath a crowd of trolls, striking at him
with their little sharp claws. He struggled mightily to hold them off,
as Manga Girl tried to shake Victoria out of her trance. "Stop!" said
Masterplan Lad. "She's probably having some sort of flashback. You're
only making things worse."
"I--I guess you're right." She looked at Victoria and sighed. Then,
her fear and concern on her face turned to anger. "Stop what you're
doing right now!" she said to the trolls. Startled by her display of
confidence, they turned away from Ultimate Mercenary and looked at her
as one. "You are foul, twisted creatures, corrupted by the power of
hatred. But the power of hatred is nothing before the power of love!"
He could feel a subtle charge of energy in the air, as her creativity
was about to burst out agian. "By the power of sequential art, I
"LOL are u kidding?" growled one of the trolls in its gutteral voice.
"salir Moon is So gery. drgna ballz is so much bette.r"
"What? How dare you insult such a thoroughly excellent show? I'll show
you who's so... whatever you just said!" She leaped into the trolls,
abandoning her earlier attack, but she clearly was still drained after
her earlier burst of creativity and the trolls were overwhelming her.
Masterplan Lad, meanwhile, wasn't standing much of a chance against
the trolls. He stabbed at them ineffectually with the umbrella. "Go
away!" he shouted. "Haven't we had enough of these repetitive fight
scenes?" His face slowly started to contort into a snarl of anger.
Then he was horrified as he realized what was happening, and felt the
heavy weight of OMAR's consciousness press against his own. It was a
towering mass of pure rage, and there was something almost alluring
about its simplicity, the freedom from his constant, neverending,
labyrinthine track of thought. He raised his umbrella, which glowed,
oblivious to the trolls that were attacking his body. His face began
to bubble and twist, as it tried to transform into that of a troll,
With a loud scream, he grabbed his head and ripped the gooey green
troll-matter off his face. It solidified into another head, a warped
reflection of his own, still attached to his neck. The confused trolls
"What are you doing?" he said, not really sure what to do in this sort
"Nothing," said the troll-head. "I don't see why you should be here.
If you had an ounce of sense in your empty head you'd be out of here
at once. These pathetic, pestilent little humans are more trouble than
"Well, yes, they can be rather irritating," said Masterplan Lad, "but
at least they're not an odious green pustule."
"Speak for yourself! I may be an odious green pustule but I'm not a
"Pompous? I am a post-human intelligence. I simply seem pompous
because my consciousness is so far above that of everyone else,
including and especially yours, that they shouldn't even be compared."
"If you're so smart, why aren't you already in the storyline where
you're supposed to be?"
"Why you little--" said Masterplan Lad. He reached up to slap his
other head in the face. The head snickered, and raised his right arm
to stop it. He fell to the ground, wrestling intently with himself.
Meanwhile, Victoria stood still, weakly resisting the attacking
trolls. Her mind was still trapped in the never-ending underground
tunnels of Topphorti, only dimly aware of the real world around her.
Then she opened her eyes again. They had turned blank white.
The trolls, screaming, drew back. But it was too late. She raised the
sword, which was suroruned by a thick cluster of whirling black dots,
followed by a burst of eerie purple light. The other net.heroes and
the trolls all stopped in their tracks. WHen the light subsided she
was clad in obsidian armor, though her head was uncovered.
"Why are you sending your lackeys after us?" said a voice that was
certainly not Victoria's. "Are you afraid to face me directly?"
The trolls all opened their mouths and howled. They collapsed to the
floor, unconscious, as a little green figure that was even more
hideous than the trolls appeared. "Listne up you mortal scum," it
growled, "there is nothign you can do to stop me. I am better than you
in every way. so give up now dip shits."
"Mortal?" she said. She smiled a cold smile. "Hardly." Swifter than
the eye could see, she grabbed Masterplan Lad and casually sliced off
his troll-head. Then she struck at OMAR with the obsidian blade, and
he drew back. For a moment his face contorted in fear. With a scream,
OMAR disappeared, leaving the pile of unconscious trolls on the
ground. Vector herself briefly appeared in midair, screeching with
incoherent rage, her own face warped into that of a troll. She pointed
at them, preparing to send them to their doom, but another faint
figured in midair and grappled her. And then, once again, they were
Victoria slowly came to, realizing that she was far away from the
battlefield. Her eyes were fading back in, though they were faint and
indistinct, and the sword's energies had died down. "What happened?"
"You don't want to know," said Masterplan Lad. Then he yelped as the
troll-head somehow leaped off the ground and bit his hand. He threw it
at the ground and it cursed, exploding into a cloud of foul-smelling
"Arcanis took me over again, didn't he?"
"He?" said Ultimate Mercenary. "This is just getting too weird...
actually, this all got too weird something like seven issues ago. If
They were in an inhumanly clean, brightly lit prison. Nearby they
could see Ultimate Mercenary himself, along with a man who wore a
version of his costume with a starfield glittering inside it, and a
woman who resembled a non-cartoon cyberpunk version of Manga Girl.
They were fighting sleek, menacing robots that resembled Kid Kirby.
"Oh crap," said Victoria, "Is this your past or your future?"
"Past. This was in issue five. Now things are just getting ridiculous.
But how do we get out-- Oh no." Two of the Kirbytroopers had taken
notice of them. "Not another fight scene!" Then they thought they saw
the faint, indistinct shape of someone beside them. It was a woman.
"And now Vector's back!" he said. But it wasn't her. It was the other
one they'd seen, someone who seemed very familiar.
"Wait a minute," said Victoria. "Is that--"
"I wonder where we are now," said Ultimate Mercenary.
"Wherever we are, we'll be staying there for a while. I won't be able
to shift out for some time, and I suspect Manga Girl still needs to
recover as well." A convenient newspaper blew by in the strong wing,
and Masterplan Lad snatched it out of the air. The front-page headline
read, "Seeing if I Can Post Man disappears: Will plague of vanishing
Legion leaders ever end?" and the date was April 74, 2007. "We're in
the middle of the Infinite Leadership Crisis," said Masterplan Lad.
"Cool! I read about this," said Manga Girl. "Though it was pretty long
so I'm not sure how much of it I remember. I wonder which one of us
will end up leading the Legion."
"Hopefully none of us," said Masterplan Lad. "We need to get to our
own crossover safe and sound. We should do our best to keep a low
"Run!" shouted Masterplan Lad as they fled the screaming mob of
enraged LNHers and kiwis carrying pitchforks and torches.
"What do you think I'm doing?" said Victoria.
Masterplan Lad held up his Device, doing his best to focus in spite of
everything, and then they shifted again. Everything looked more or
less normal now, though everyone knew that was deceptive. "Well, at
least we made it out alive," he said, not sounding terribly convinced.
Ultimate Mercenary was still silently staring off into the distance.
He looked at his own reflection in his sword, which quivered in his
hands. He seemed to be on the verge of crying. Manga Girl walked up
and put her arms around him. "It's OK," she said. "Anyone could have
made that mistake."
"I don't know," said Victoria. "I think you have to work pretty
"Listen," said Masterplan Lad. "I think we should have an agreement. I
think we should forget any of that happened and never mention it
again. I'm sure everyone else will have forgotten it too, after two
years. There were quite a lot of issues during the Infinite Leadership
Victoria smacked her forehead. "That's probably a good idea. Whatever
we're up against now, it can't possibly be as bad as Ultimate
Mercenary leading the LNH..."
The LNHQ was on fire. Victoria's three teammates were looking rather
resentfully at her. "What? That wasn't my fault! How was I supposed to
know we were going to be dragged into the ILC again?"
"Oh for Eagle's sake," said Masterplan Lad. "Let's get out of here."
"I knew it," said Masterplan Lad. The corpse of the massive fire-
breathing dinosaur that lay on top of the remains of the LNHQ said
nothing. "This is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever been
through in my now-mostly-nonexistent life. How long can you possibly
keep dragging out this running gag for?" He shook his fist at the
"I guess it's my turn now," said Manga Girl. "I wonder how I'm going
to blow up the LNHQ?"
The parade was still in full swing. "I can't believe it!" said Manga
Girl. "That was even more awesome than blowing up the LNHQ!" The
others just glared at her angrily.
"How did..." said Victoria. "I mean..."
"Hey, don't worry," said Manga Girl. "I'll get all demerits removed
from your record as soon as I get elected leader of the LNH! See?" She
smiled. "I'm way cuter than Ultimate Ninja."
"Don't we have a universe to save?" said Ultimate Mercenary, who was
still wearing Groucho glasses.
"Indeed we do," said Masterplan Lad. He gripped the other three,
yanking Manga Girl away from the line of children who wanted her to
sign their autographs, and shifted out.
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