LNH20/REPOST: LNH20 Comics Presents #7
pwerdna at gmail.com
Sun Jul 22 15:12:41 PDT 2012
LNH20 Comics Presents #7
'Exactly Where We Can Grab It'
which is chapter 7 of a chaotic add-on cascade
written by and copyright 2012 Saxon Brenton
Once again a man entered the air conditioned office that housed
Ultravac, the villainous supercomputer that controlled the terrorist
group WHATEVER - the World Headquarters for Anarchy, Terrorism, Evil,
Vengeance, Extermination and Retribution. Once again it was someone
that Ultravac's assistant/tickertape reader/annuniator had not
encountered before. [as seen in _Generation 2.0_ #3 'The Cat Lady's
Curse'] .oO(At least this one bothered to knock,) she thought.
The man was dressed nattily in a charcoal grey business suit, with
smart shoes and gloves, and carrying a cane. The only parts of his skin
that were left exposed by his suit were his neck and face about his
collar and tie - and even these were utterly disguised by the grey
static that covered his features. It was an effect like that of a TV
screen tuned to no channel. The cane's ivory grip was carved into a
skull shape. He sketched a short bow to the tickertape reader and said
urbanely, "Good afternoon, Ms Andrea. I am known as the Recovery
Man." The silhouette of his head shifted slightly, as he turned to
look at Ultravac's mainframe. "You requested to see me, Ultravac?"
The tickertape printer clattered to life again as the villainous
computer committed another message to paper. The assistant picked up
the tickertape and read aloud this piece of exposition:
"The latest phase of Operation Runcible has been a success. By
arranging for several proxy threats to be seen to be searching for the
Spoon of Destiny, the Legion has been coerced into checking on the
various Spoons that they have scattered about. They could not afford
to not check any of them, since that would be a giveaway that a
particular Spoon was a known fake. At the same time, their membership
is divided and distracted by their current missions and the recent
The Recovery Man nodded politely and asked, "And what has this
to do with me?"
The printer clattered to life again. "The Mythopoeiac Energy
Detector that Dr Contraption constructed has detected artefact level
emissions at the Legion's headquarters. Those emissions are similar
but not identical to the energy pattern that WHATEVER has on file for
the Spoon of Destiny. It is logical that the X Agent has secretly
retrieved the real Spoon of Destiny, and the Legion is unsuccessfully
attempting to masque its presence. I want you to take possession of
the Spoon for WHATEVER, Recovery Man."
The tickertape reader frowned, and asked, "Wait, who's this
'X Agent'?. I don't remember any Legionnaire with that codename."
Another printed message. "The X Agent is a known unknown factor
within the Legion," she read from the computer's explanation. "Analysis
of the Legion's activities occasionally demonstrates outcomes that
cannot be ascribed to any known member. It is unclear who or what this
unknown variable is. It may be a person, or the manifestation of the
probability manipulation superpowers usually described as luck.
Whatever its true nature is, I have labelled this unknown variable with
the name X Agent."
"Most informative," said the Recovery Man. And it was. As a
professional thief, assassin and general stealth operative himself, he
knew well the advantages of playing one's cards close to one's chest and
always having an Ace up your sleeve, while at the same time denying
those same benefits to one's opponents. "Very well then. If the Spoon
is within the Legion's headquarters, then that will be somewhat tricky
to retrieve. As you know, the place is a proverbial Minotaur's maze."
Again, a printed message. "I will provide you with 4-dimensional
schematics of LNH-HQ." [derived from the blueprints provided by the
Cat Lady in _LNH20 Comics Presents_ #1 'Lengthy Linger The Legion']
"Also, a handheld scanner to trace the Spoon by its emissions."
"That will do admirably," said the Recovery Man. "Is my usual
"Yes," read Ultravac's reply.
Meanwhile, the X Agent... er, Agent-M, was on board a flight.thingy
approaching Italy for the mission that had been assigned to her and the
Espionage Squad by Fearless Leader back in issue 1. She activated the
comm system and said, "We'll be landing in the next twenty minutes.
The Spoon is located some 45 minutes away from the airport by fast car.
We'll approach slowly, wait out the evening rush hour, do recon, and
perform extraction at 2 am local time."
Also, at a point that may or may not be meanwhile, the three lemurs
were dumped in the LNH-HQ cafeteria by the kiwis.
No one noticed.
Partly because the Legion was an emergency response group, and the
people that were there were busy grabbing a hasty meal before getting
back to the task of thwarting evil, and saving the world, and, you know,
stuff. And partly because this was the Legion, and you would be
astonished at the amount of silliness that goes in order to justify a joke.
The trio didn't know this, and immediately ran for the walls before
scampering along the sideboard to hide under a table. After a few
seconds, when no hue and cry were forthcoming, they began to assess
"Frink," one of the lemurs went, indicating the food on the counter.
Another lemur nodded in reply and started to scamper towards the
counter, only to be grabbed by the tail and held back by the first.
"Frink!" the first lemur admonished. "Frink!"
"Frink," concurred the third lemur, adjusting his glasses. That
settled, the three of them performed the lemur equivalent of a non-
chalant saunter to the door into the food preparation area on the other
side of the counter.
Now safely out of sight of the customers, they looked about.
"Frink," they said to each other with satisfaction and then set to work.
The one with the glasses kept watch while the other two set about
gathering food and bottles of grape juice. They seemed to have picked
a good spot, because at this location in the kitchen their only risk of
being seen by a human was if the LNHer serving at the counter turned
around and to one side.
What the lemurs hadn't expected was that the cook would return from
the storage pantry and see them. "Hey!"
The trio froze and stared at the cook. The cook stared at the
lemurs. So did the LNHer serving at the counter who turned around and
to one side - as well as the customer he was serving, who leaned
forward across the counter to see what the commotion was.
The lemurs scattered. "Come back here with that!" yelled the cook.
One lemur took the high road, leaping athletically across the
kitchen and landing on the face of the LNHer serving at the counter,
before scrabbling over his scalp and out into the cafeteria. One
took the low road, jumping onto the purloined bottle of grape juice and
aiming it for the door, then rolling it rapidly across the floor. The
third took the middle road and raced along a tabletop, in the process
upsetting a number of jars and bottles - some of which weren't properly
sealed and which spilt their contents as they toppled over - before
dashing over the counter after the other two.
"Don't worry, I'll get him," cried the cook, who grabbed a honey
glazed profiterole and threw it like baseball, with impressive speed but
not quite as impressive accuracy. It hit Kindle square in the face,
splattering cream across her forehead before the pastry shell fell into
her soup and slopped hot chicken noodles over her arms and chest. A
good thing she was resistant to scalding.
Kindle gave him a death stare. It wouldn't be done to use weapons
or powers to retaliate with physical harm. But turnabout was fair play.
She reached over, scooped up the plate of beef lasagne from the person
beside her, and threw it straight into the cook's face.
At which point things escalated completely out of control.
Because it really doesn't matter which LNH imprint you're working
with. Sooner or later there's always going to be a food fight in the
Explain-The-Joke Lass, the Private Eye, and Sexy-Disturbed-Sparkly-
Vampire-Man stared at the self-proclaimed super-intelligent mouse known
as the Cranium, who was stroking his chin in thought.
"I believe those cats were spies working for the Cat Lady, an
operative of WHATEVER," mused the mouse, almost as if he were talking
to himself. "She will already have become aware of events here, but it
may take a little while for that information to be forwarded up through
"So what?" demanded SDSVMan. "There's no amount of goons that
WHATEVER can send that I won't thrash."
The Cranium glanced dispassionately at him. "I don't doubt that
you can physically defeat them, although as Explain-The-Joke Lass has
already observed these ones went down far too easily. What I am
concerned about is whether defeating mere henchmen is an appropriate
use of your time."
"You'd better explain yourself," said the Private Eye.
The Cranium sighed. "Very well. And as a further concession I
will endeavour to keep the number of polysyllabic words to a minimum."
He folded his hands behind his back as he began to pace back and forth,
and said, "The terrorist group WHATEVER is attempting to find and
retrieve the Spoon of Destiny in one of their ongoing attempts to Take
Over The World. They are aware that the Legion of Net.Heroes has
hidden a number of fake Spoons in plain sight. They have therefore
sent out a number of groups to search for the Spoons, knowing that even
if they do not find the real Spoon themselves, the Legion will be forced
to defend all the Spoons, and in the confusion can be tricked into
revealing the real Spoon's whereabouts. The leader of WHATEVER is a
supercomputer called Ultravac, with an intellect almost equal to my own,
and formidable data analysis skills."
The mouse paused in its pacing, looked up directly at the
humans... er, up at the others and said with a frown, "I fear it will
not be difficult for Ultravac to extrapolate the answer that it seeks.
In conclusion these soldiers of WHATEVER represent the symptoms rather
than the disease."
"And what's your stake in this?" demanded Sexy-Disturbed-Sparkly-
"Intellectual rigour," answered the Cranium. "My massive intellect
grows bored if it has no challenges to overcome, and so I have set
myself against challenge which the world has both an unending supply
and variety: Supervillainy. And that is what I do every night: try to
keep villains from Taking Over The World!"
"Indicating that you are an inverted parody of the Warner Bros.
cartoon character the Brain," noted Explain-The-Joke Lass.
"Just so," agreed the Cranium gravely. "In any case, I have
examined the Spoon that was in this box," he added, rapping a knuckle
against the box that SDSVMan had confiscated from the agents of
WHATEVER in issue 2, "and determined that it is one of the fakes."
"It's a pity that we have no way of turning the tables on WHATEVER,
causing them to be distracted by the presence of so many fake Spoons
rather than the net.heroes," said Explains-The-Joke Lass.
The Cranium continued to look thoughtful for a second or so, and
then a sepulchral smile crept across his face. "You know, that's a
deliciously ironic idea. I think we can do something with that."
The Recovery Man approached the Legion of Net.Heroes headquarters
directly - by projecting his electronic presence directly in along the
mains electrical supply. Once inside he manifested himself in one of
the internal corridors to take his bearings.
The truth was that he considered the LNH-HQ to be rather
disturbing. True, ordinary flesh and blood people found it at the very
least annoying and occasionally disconcerting to live and work in a
building that was bigger on the inside than on the outside, and which
periodically rearranged its internal structure.
However, that discomfort was as nothing to what electronic entities
like the Recovery Man experienced as they tried to navigate the
building's physical wiring or wireless computer access coverage. To
describe the electromagnetic pathways of the building as a nightmarish
non-Euclidean maze was an understatement. On the small number of times
that the Recovery Man had tried to explore the building he had been
forced to resume physical - if not necessarily solid - form and walk
out using a tourist map.
He deliberately avoided using the elevators and sought out a
stairwell instead. Then he followed the electricity cabling down into
the depths. On three separate he found himself diverted to outside
the stairwell for no reason that he could understand; the cabling was
continuous, and as far as he could tell it was conducting electricity.
It just wouldn't conduct him. Whatever, those enforced breaks were
good enough excuses to consult the schematics and the scanner, and he
made the most of them.
Eventually the Recovery Man closed in on the readings of the Spoon
of Destiny in an archaic area with no electrical equipment for him to
inhabit at all, and he had to walk. He decided it would be prudent to
remain invisible and intangible, however, and thus he was unseen when a
group of kiwi birds trooped past and unceremoniously threw the Spoon
into a chamber filled with manure. Then they turned and headed back
the way they had come with the best combination of speed and dignity
that they could muster.
The Recovery Man watched them leave. Then he turned looked at the
map to make sure he knew where he was. Yes. Indeed, he could see where
this was going.
As long as he performed the correct actions quickly and in the right
order, things would be fine. You see, The Recovery Man needed to fully
materialise and turn solid in order to touch things. Now, he could
immediately dematerialise and take those things with him if he so chose:
giving him not just the option to carry them with him electronically but
also to disintegrate them if he chose to let those object lose their
coherence. However, he had to materialise first.
With great deliberation the Recovery Man picked up the Spoon from
the pile of manure.
There was a roar as an outraged dragon came storming into the
The Recovery Man smirked. "Of course. Anyone can add to the
treasure lying about in a dragon's cave complex, but no one is allowed
to take it away. Well, sirrah, that is a lovely theory..."
(The Recovery Man snapped his fingers together, causing a small
"...But I am not one to automatically confuse it for fact."
The kiwis were more than half a kilometre away when they heard
the distant boom of the explosion. They stared at each other, then
with a frantic cry of "Kiwi!!!" dived for cover in a side corridor as
the fireball expanded through this level of the sub-basement.
Hmmm. Well, looking things over, pretty much everyone here was
created by Adrian J. McClure (including Ultravac's tickertape reader,
who got named Andrea in issue 5).
The Cranium created by Martin Phipps.
Kindle created by Andrew Perron.
Agent Mephitidae created by Andrew Perron and Ted Brock.
LNH-20 Kiwis created by Lalo Martins, inspired by Kid Kiwi's Kiwi
Kommandos, created by Descrii Ian Porrell).
The Recovery Man and those three lemurs created by Saxon Brenton.
Okay, sorry, that took a bit longer to write than I expected. I
sat up to after midnight writing the first half. But along the way I
also started paying attention to my gut reaction that it would be self-
indulgent of me only throw out more plot threads for other people to
finish rather than use, advance and/or tie-off other people’s threads.
So I took the extra day to give a background to the Cranium, and show
the Recovery Man in action rather than leave him a blank slate for
others to develop.
Oh yeah. The Recovery Man. As I was writing the first scene I
realised I was writing an expy of the assassin villain 9-Jack-9 from
Scott McCloud's old _Zot_ comics (with perhaps a bit of visual influence
from the Televillain from Alan Moore's _Supreme_). He's a gentleman
assassin whose main limitation comes from his Code of Conduct rather
than how his powers work.
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
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