LNH20/REPOST: LNH20 Comics Presents #7

Andrew Perron 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 
Lycopersicon incursion."
     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 
fee acceptable?"
     "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 
their surroundings.
     "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 
WHATEVER's hierarchy."
     "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 
noisesome cavern.
     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 
electrical spark)
     "...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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