LNH20/REPOST: LNH20 Comics Presents #10

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 15:43:26 PDT 2012

LNH20 Comics Presents #10
The Spoon of Destiny Saga Part 10: "Switch Play"
Chapter 10 of a chaotic add-on cascade
By Andrew Perron

Far from the LNHQ's sub-basements, in a very different set of labyrinthine
catacombs, deep beneath the Vatican...

And "labyrinthine" was no exaggeration, thought Killswitch.  The Espionage
Squad had already had to dodge two minotaurs and a gelatinous cube, as well
as solve a sliding block puzzle.

Configuration Man, the squad's technology expert, nudged him. "Hey,
Killswitch.  I'm surprised you didn't, ah, object to all the sneakin'
around and avoidin' direct confrontation."

He sighed. "Look, just because I have a one-word name that starts with
'kill' doesn't mean that I'm a dark, gritty antihero!"

"Shhhhh!" Gift-Wrapping Granny glared at them, and Configuration Man had
the courtesy to look just as embarrassed as Killswitch was.

"All right," whispered Agent Mephitidae, peering around a corner sculpted
to represent the cardinal virtue of charity. "The vault containing the
Spoon is just ahead.  There are two members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard
Net.Human Division guarding the only door.  Now, we're official guests of
the Vatican, so we shouldn't have a problem with admittance."

"Unless, of course, they've been replaced, subverted, or mind-controlled,"
noted Lass Dragon, lying supine in a handy nook.

"Indeed.  Which is why we've done our best to conceal our presence up to
this point.  Now, however, we will be as straightforward and open as

"...so as to force any fakers into doing the same." The apparent
twelve-year-old grinned, and Killswitch could see the predator behind it.
He could feel the twinge at the base of his spine that told him to run,
hide, flee.

No one was quite sure why Lass Dragon was on the team, or, indeed, why she
did any of this - net.heroing, masquerading as a human, cheerfully sharing
some bits of information and shrouding others in mystery.  It was rumored
that January Frost was blackmailing her, that *she* was blackmailing Doc
Nostalgia, that blood oaths had been sworn between her and Agent M on some
faraway planet.  She was a refugee, a traitor, a rebel, an agent.  The one
thing that *everyone* was sure of was that they'd rather have her standing
with them than against them.

"Exactly," said Agent M, acknowledging the statement that preceded that
wall of text.  They formed a line, holstered their weapons, and proceeded
towards the door.  When the guards saw then, they came to attention.  Their
uniform styles looked like something out of a Renaissance Faire, but
Killswitch had far too much experience to think someone in a silly costume
was automatically silly.  The one on the left had an emblem of the Gift of
Exhortation, symbolizing physical, bodily powers, and the one on the right
had the Gift of Prophecy, symbolizing psionics.

Agent M held out a manila folder. "Legion of Net.Heroes delegation, cleared
to examine and retrieve Item 43572A."

The left guard took the papers and examined them at length.  Killswitch
wondered what the one on the right was doing.  Scanning surface thoughts?
Telling truth from lies?  Prying into some deeper secrets?  Cataloguing and
sorting every buried memory from birth until death?

He took a calming breath, let it out through his nose.  He should be more
used to net.human powers; after all, he hadn't had a chance to forget them.
He had been struck by lightning at what doctors had ascertained was the
exact moment the Killfile up.  He went into a coma, and was completely
unresponsive until the second the Killfile expired.  When he came out, he
had the ability to project a localized version of the Killfile's
power-squelching effect.

Despite that, thought, he tended to be nervous around net.heroes.  He
wasn't sure why.  I mean, it couldn't be that he was so closely linked to
the still-hated Killfile and that seeing a reminder of it might cause them
to resent him.

That would just be *silly*.

Finally, the guard nodded, hanging the papers back.  Each of the guards
took out a golden key.  They slid the keys into the ornate lock and turned
them as one.

The door didn't move.

The guards looked at each other, and *pushed*.

It moved an inch, and stopped.  Frantic yelling could be heard from within.

The right guard's eyes widened.  He pulled back his fist, a golden aura
whipping around it, and slammed it into the door, beautifully-carved wood
bursting into charred splinters.  A stone slab, hastily pushed against the
door, flew across the room, revealing hooded men in black-and-silver
outfits ransacking the room.

Configuration Man gasped. "The Swords!"

Killswitch narrowed his eyes.  The Swords of Pentient Authority were a -
well, "cult" wasn't *quite* the right word; better stick with "ideological
terrorist organization" - who took The Leviathan as their guidebook,
believing that humans were inherently evil and that only an all-powerful
totalitarian state could keep humanity in check.  In short, wackos.

So how had they gotten in here?

No time to wonder.  Gift-Wrapping Granny was the first through the gate,
strafing the soldiers with her wrapvision.  Gaily-decorated human-shaped
packages fell to the ground, held in place with ribbons and bows.

Behind her, lightning flickered around a Sword's hands.  Killswitch opened
up, and the electricity dissipated.  The Sword had half a second to look
surprised before Granny kicked out the back of his knee.

Lass Dragon leapt in after.  There was no room to transform to her full
thirty-foot-long form, but even as a humanoid, hardened scales, cruel
claws, and burning eyes were all available.

Configuration Man pulled out a half-disassembled pair of headphones.  In
six seconds, he had a sonic wave generator.  He harassed the Swords with
focused cones of noise.

Agent M's eyes flickered across the room.  The guards had joined the fray,
tossing Swords across the room with physical and mental force.  All well
and good, but how had they gotten in?

>From the corner, there was a shout.  Agent M's head snapped towards it and
she leapt in the shouter's direction, but with a smash and a tinkle,
shimmering blue light engulfed the Swords.  In an instant, they were gone.

Agent M landed in a crouch.  She picked up a shattered shard of glass and
circuitry. "Ah. A teleport tag."

"Of course," said the psychic guard, in lightly-accented English. "But how
did they sneak it in?"

Configuration Man slid a ruler under an antique book lying on the floor,
carefully lifting it up. "The lining has been torn out..."

The physical guard sighed. "That Gutenberg Bible just entered the
collection.  It would not even have been there, but there was no room..."

Agent M nodded. "Emblematic of WHATEVER's plans."

"Oh, yes, that's all well and good," snarked Granny. "What about the

"Just a moment!" Lass Dragon peered about the room.  Killswitch knew she
had a couple of extra senses, which would, in theory, let her detect both
technological and magical surveillance.  Or so she said, anyway. "All

The psychic guard - Killswitch wondered whether they used real names or
code names - walked to the corner of the room, where the wall jogged to the
left slightly.  He slid his key into an almost-imperceptible flaw in the
stone.  As he turned it, the slab slid back, revealing a simple wooden box.
"They did not find it."

Agent M took the box and lifted the lid. "They didn't find it... but
someone else did!" She turned the box to reveal - nothing!

They gasped, as one. "Of course!" said Configuration Man. "The Swords were
a distraction..."

"And the Spoon is gone..." The physical guard covered his face and groaned.

"Well, why don't we just use this spoon?" Lass Dragon held up a golden key.
The physical guard blinked and felt in his pocket. "Hey!"

Agent M smiled.  It wasn't an entirely nice smile. "Ah.  Killswitch, if you

"Sir?" He was confused.  Were his teammates all having miniature strokes?

Agent M nodded to the key, and Killswitch shrugged and focused his powers
on it.  The form of gold melted away, revealing a spoon made of softly
glowing crystal.  His eyes widened. "Holy crap."

"Well I'll be," mused Granny.

"Madonna!" said the guard, shaking his head. "If I'd but known... well..."
He shrugged. "I probably could have gotten a raise!"

Lass Dragon chuckled and put it in the box. "Shall we?"

Agent M nodded, satisfied. "Good job, squad.  Let's move out."

They filed out one by one.  Killswitch shook the guards' hands.  It was
odd, though.  Why did it feel like this all had been a bit *too* easy?

The psychic guard sighed. "<Tommaso, you keep the door - I'll make sure
everything is in place here.>"

The physical guard nodded. "<As you say, Gioele.  So strange, though, to
think that it was on my person the whole time!>" He laughed ruefully and
stepped out.

Gioele picked up the box and placed it back in its nook.  He closed the
slab and locked it in place.

So, they'd found the spoon concealed inside Tommaso's key... but not the
one within *his*.  And now they wouldn't think to look for it.

Not until it was too late...


Author's Note:




Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, tactical espionage action!

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