LNH/HCC: Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #52 HCC32
saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 31 16:47:51 PDT 2012
[LNH/HCC] Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #52 HCC32
| |-| \
| |-|  / #52
| | |  egion of \ 'The Rumours Of My Demise...'
| | | __     / (Part of High Concept Challenge #32)
| | | [___][ \et.__eroes \
| | | \ ] [ __ ] / written by and copyright 2012
| |-|     \ Saxon Brenton
| |-|___________________________/ (or *is* it?)
| | The cover shows Kid Enthusiastic and Fairy Princess Lad bouncing up
| | and down in excitement while older Legionnaires look on, bemused.
[A Silver Age-style roster of characters in the form of a series of mug
shots in little circles runs down the side of the title page:]
Roll call for this issue:
o Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II!
o Cynical Lass!
o Fairy Princess Lad!
o Kid Enthusiastic!
o Masterplan Lad!
o You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad!
These are just some of the super-powered do-gooders who belong to an
organisation that thinks that running around with your underwear on
the outside is acceptable as a fashion statement. They are: the
Legion of Net.Heroes!
A teenaged boy in a gaudy costume entered the foyer of the Legion
of Net.Heroes headquarters. He glanced around, but quickly spotted the
reception desk and approached it.
"Hi. I'm here to join the Legion," he said.
Fred nodded and passed over the application paperwork. As the
newcomer took out a pacer pencil to fill in the forms, the receptionist
asked, "What code name do you go by?"
And in response Fred thought .oO( That's going to cause trouble. )
Meanwhile, in the cafeteria:
"But isn't the word 'kids' gender neutral?" asked Fairy Princess Lad.
"Mmmm," went Kid Enthusiastic, sounding doubtful. "Maybe in the
sense that 'man' was supposed to be a gender neutral, but now everyone
realises that that's just handwaving."
" 'Kid' is also the description for all young goats, male or female,"
suggested Fairy Princess Lad.
"I'm not a goat!" exclaimed Kid Enthusiastic. He pointed at Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid II, who was sitting at the other end of the table,
"And he's not a goat!"
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II looked up from the statistical
analysis of recent crimes that he was processing for Innovative Offense
Lad. "What's the problem?" he asked the two pre-teens.
"We're trying to figure out what you Anal-Retentive Archive Kids
should be called. As a group, I mean," explained Fairy Princess Lad.
The orc put down his computer pad. "I would have thought 'Anal-
Retentive Archive Kids' would have been good enough. And that's
assuming we need a group name at all. There's only two of us, and
that's a lot less than all the Nope Lads and Lasses who joined as a
result of Hex Luthor's Net.Hero Registration Act."
"The Nope-I'm-Not-Training-To-Be-A-Net.Hero members weren't
planning on staying around, so they didn't see a need to form a properly
named sub-group," pointed out Kid Enthusiastic.
"Well I'm not either," pointed out ARAK II. "Summer job, remember?"
"You're planning on staying around long enough to actually work for
the Legion, not just train under them," countered Fairy Princess Lad.
"And go on missions, and everything!"
"And at some point there's going to be an Anal-Retentive Archive
Kid who's a girl," said Kid Enthusiastic. "And you'll have to be ready
for that, otherwise it'll be like with the Hyphenated Eaters Corps all
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II nodded. He remembered that. Well,
not directly, because it had been a bit before his time, but he'd heard
accounts of the kerfuffle when Spicy-Mexican-Food-Eater Lass had found
out what the male members of their group had wanted to register the name
of their team as. [_Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2_ #27 - Footnote Girl]
"Ooo! Ooo!" went Kid Enthusiastic, bouncing up and down in his seat
as he suddenly got an idea. "The word 'kinder' means 'children', and
that's gender neutral. ARA Kinder!" he speculated in rather sloppy
"Ooo! Ooo!" went Fairy Princess Lad, echoing his friend. "And that
can be turned into an internet pun: ARA Kindles!" The two boys high
fived each other.
ARAK II looked at them with bemusement. "I've never understood the
need to make internet puns out of everything," he said.
"Oh, it's because our stories are distributed over the internet,"
said Kid Enthusiastic matter-of-factly.
Well, yes, they were. But the Legion's licensed merchandise was
also dual published in hard copy - the so-called dead tree format - and
had been for a long time. And then there were all the TV adaptation and
direct-to-video productions. Like he'd just said, ARAK II didn't quite
get the emphasis on the internet distribution. He spotted Cynical
Lass's expression. She was sitting a table over from them, and had a
look on her face which he completely misinterpreted as, 'They're
children. Let them play their games while they've still got the
energy.' Actually what she was thinking was, 'You poor schmuck. If
you think I'm going to explain to you that we're all fictional
characters in an imaginary world then you've got another thing coming.'
The new applicant wandered into the cafeteria. The still exuberant
Kid Enthusiastic saw him, motioned for him to sit down, and then said,
"Hi there. Who are you?"
"I'm No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad."
A hush fell across the cafeteria as various LNHers just *stared* at
Except for Cynical Lass, who face palmed as it occurred to her that
it wasn't just saying things out loud that counted as tempting fate.
Some days that you just couldn't risk an ironic thought even in the
privacy of your own head.
And except for Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II, who asked, "Who's
You could practically hear all the eyeballs squeak as they
swivelled from No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad to Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid II.
"He's a Writer," said Kid Enthusiastic.
"Yes, I got that," said ARAK II. "Between So-Lame-Even-Saxon-
Brenton-Wouldn't-Use-Him-In-A-Story Lad and Joyce Carol Oates Lass, it's
obvious that some people codename themselves after writers." He had
long since finished eating his lunch, so he absently stacked the cutlery
on his empty plate before standing up and placing the plate at an
adjacent collection point. "I just don't know who he *is*. I've never
seen a library catalog entry for anything he's written. What does he
write? Science fiction? Romance? Neo-Edwardian comedies of manners?"
"Superhero parody," said Masterplan Lad. "We're in one of them at
"Oh yeah," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, glancing
upwards towards the from: line among the headers at the start of the
posting. "I hadn't noticed the email address."
"Forged address," said No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead!
Lad with a grim earnestness. "Someone's pretending to be him. Identity
theft of a dead man. Pretty ghoulish, really."
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II sighed. "Cut the comedy, people.
This is no time for those Church of the Fourth Walls gags."
Sister-State-The-Obvious looked surprised. "You don't know that
"I'm not. We're not. Which is good, because if we were then the
master's degree I've been slaving at for the past few years would be
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad turned to Masterplan Lad and
said, "You'd better bring him up to speed."
Masterplan Lad had been considering No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-
He's-Dead! Lad's words, but now he arched an eyebrow. Was it
cluelessness that made YNHMHELad completely miss the nuance of what the
orc had just said? Callousness? Or a ruthless commitment to the truth
at any cost?" The latter, at least, was a respectable reason to
Masterplan Lad's way of thinking. He shrugged, then walked over to
ARAK II, and for maybe a minute had an serious conversation with him in
The look on ARAK's face went from irritation, to surprise, then on
to utter horror. The turn around time in convincing the young orc of
the truthfulness of their claims was astonishingly quick, but Masterplan
Lad was one of the Knights Temporal, and there were few other LNHers who
were as familiar with continuity and fictionality as he was. In any
case, within less than sixty seconds he had ARAK II accepting the
notion. At which point Anal-Retentive Archive Kid burst into angry
Masterplan Lad was so startled by this that he reflexively took a
step backwards and half raised his umbrella. "I... What...?" he
stammered, uncharacteristically taken aback.
"All the research work I've done for the past six years is pretty
much pointless now," ARAK snarled. "And the worst thing is that it
isn't a problem I can deal with by punching it!"
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad gave him a particularly
intense look. He always seemed to pay more attention when there a
chance of punching involved. "And you're not gonna just hit someone
"What, and play kill-the-messenger? I'm not stupid, Hard Enough,"
ARAK said dismissively. He wiped his sleeve across his snout in a quick
angry gesture to deal with his sniffles. "Honest advice is too valuable
to waste just because you don't like what you hear."
Cynical Lass invaded ARAK's personal space, stood right in front
of him and pointedly got in-his-face to demand, "So what's the big deal
with research, then? After all, didn't you once say that it was
basically just politics?"
He frowned at her. "It's an overview of the mechanics of a multi-
species society, based on how all the mutants and aliens have integrated
here in Net.ropolis. Going by how other groups have developed, at
*some* point in the next few centuries my people," and here he thumped a
fist on his chest for emphasis, "are probably going to start giving up
tribalism and move towards settled urban living. If I can produce a
working blueprint then the chances of conflict, and especially of them
being slaughtered by a technologically superior civilisation, will be
reduced." He started pacing about in a small circle. "But if this
world is fictional, then that all goes out the window. I shouldn't be
worrying about politics and social dynamics, because those aren't the
elements that will ensure their survival. Convincing everyone else that
orcs are interesting characters who they'll want to have around is what
I'll need to do, which means I'd do better by taking a creative writing
course and churning out bestseller potboilers aimed at the mass market."
He rounded on Cynical Lass and pointed an accusing finger at her. "And
you..." - and he paused as his brain caught up with his mouth - "...have
just tricked me into brainstorming a solution to my own problem."
"Yes. Obviously," said Cynical Lass, straight faced.
"Thank you," said ARAK II. He reached into his pockets and brought
out three brightly coloured rubber balls and began to juggle. It seemed
to be so that he had something to do with his hands, since he continued
to pace about and hardly paid any attention to the spheres that he had
whizzing about. Only Masterplan Lad noticed that although they were all
the same size they seemed to have different weights, making ARAK's
almost absent minded juggling feat all the more impressive.
Meanwhile, Fairy Princess Lad was agog. "You worked out all that
in two minutes flat, from the standing start of a nasty surprise?"
Masterplan Lad spoke up in ARAK II's stead: "To be fair, it's a
rather obvious conclusion when you stop to consider the evidence." Then
to ARAK II he said, "However, there's another piece of information that
could modify your conclusions."
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II glanced curiously at Masterplan Lad.
"Really? Okay then, let's hear it."
"There's at least one of the Legion Writers who takes absolute
delight in exploring the nature of a multi-species society in a
superhuman world," said Masterplan Lad, pedantically.
"Well, that sounds great," said ARAK. "Who is it?"
"Ah," breathed ARAK, knowingly. "Ask not for divine intervention,
lest you discover that you yourself are the instrument that enacts that
intervention. How very C.S. Lewis." Then he recognised the rather
strange looks that the others were giving him, and the last piece of the
puzzle fell into place. "But there's the small drawback that that
Writer was Saxon Brenton, right?"
"Huh. I guess that brings us back to you, then," ARAK said to No!-
It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad. "What are the circumstances
he died in? Maybe there's something in his writing I can use, or
salvage from his legacy, or whatever."
No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad shrugged. "Sometime
after he got back to Australia in July after RACC-Con, he died. After
all, he hasn't been putting out any editions of the _End Of Month
"There were really long periods when he wasn't putting out the _End
Of Month Review_ last year, either," pointed out You're-Not-Hitting-Me-
"Plus," said N!ICBSB!HD!Lad, raising a finger to stave off further
protests. "The cheque hasn't been cashed."
"What cheque?" asked Cynical lass.
"During RACC-Con Arthur Spitzer stayed in the same hotel room with
Saxon Brenton," explain N!ICBSB!HD!Lad. "When Arthur went home he wrote
a cheque to cover the cost of the days he was sharing. That cheque
still hasn't been cashed. That's not what you'd expect from someone who
has to cover costs from an overseas vacation."
Masterplan Lad had been listening carefully to this, and now he
identified what had been troubling him. "No," he said. "That is
factually incorrect. On the evening Arthur arrived at the Benicia Best
Western Saxon hadn't made proper preparations with the front desk for
him to check in while the others were at the barbeque at Rob Roger's
household, and Arthur had had to book into another room for one night
- a room booking that was only covered by Scott Eiler's blanket offer to
subsidise RACC-Con attendees. The cheque has gone uncashed not because
of inability, but because of a sense of guilt!"
No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad gave Masterplan Lad a
deadly glare and took a threatening step forward. His eyes glowed red.
Fairy Princess Lad exclaimed, "Now just calm down," and sprinkled
some of his sparkly magic dust in the N!ICBSB!HD!Lad's direction.
However it seemed to have no effect.
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad leapt forward with his battle
cry, "No, you villain! Hit *me*!" (Finally, some action after all that
exposition.) Unfortunately No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead!
Lad used an aikido-like move on him, taking the boisterous net.hero's
own momentum and using it against him - grabbing YNHMHELad and throwing
him out through the ceiling of the LNH-HQ, such that he would land about
two miles away. So, sure, YNHMHELad will have absorbed an impressive
amount of kinetic energy to boost his strength, but it will take him a
while to get back to the fight.
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II threw one of the balls at him. The
blue one. The one with the solid steel centre under the thin rubber
outer covering. It hit No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad
square in the face, where it made a 'bonnggg!' sound effect of metal on
metal. "Killer robot!" ARAK yelled, and then had to dive for cover when
N!ICBSB!HD!Lad blasted out a laser beam death ray from his frickin'
The other Legionnaires were manoeuvring for their own counter-
attacks. The first, perhaps surprisingly, was Fairy Princess Lad, who
promptly went Sailor Moon on N!ICBSB!HD!Lad. He glowed and sparkled and
yelled, "Villain! In the name of Queen Titania and Lord Oberon, I will
And then Fairy Princess Lad unleashed a power blast from his hands
that slammed N!ICBSB!HD!Lad back across the cafeteria and through a wall
of solid strongstuffium with an enormous WHHAMMM!!!, pulverising the
trouble-making robot and leaving a large hole in its wake.
The Legionnaires all stared at the hole in the wall. The only
sound was the occasional light 'ping' as the metal started to cool.
"Huh," went Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II.
"I didn't know he could do that," said Kid Enthusiastic.
"Always a useful power to have, though," pointed out Cynical Lass.
"Not the type of ability I would have expected from someone
channelling the Powers That Be of Dom Daniel," observed Masterplan Lad.
Fairy Princess Lad came over to ARAK II and gave him a big hug.
ARAK looked at him. "What was that for?"
Fairy Princess Lad gave him a serious expression and said, "Big
scary orcs who are secure enough with themselves that they don't need to
take it out on others when they're upset deserve hugs."
"Really? I don't remember that rule. Did I miss a memo?"
"I just made it up."
"Ah. Well, that explains it then," said ARAK II, patting Fairy
Princess Lad on the back. "Okay then. Thanks. Now, I suppose we
should collect the remains of that robot."
Cynical Lass rolled her eyes. "Oh please. How are we supposed to
get recurring villains if you go around acting responsibly, securing
defeated bad guys and tidying up dangerous messes?"
And the scary thing was, ARAK II didn't have enough experience with
the whole 'recognising the cliches of a superhero parody story' to tell
whether her protest was serious or not.
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II and
No!-It-Can't-Be-Saxon-Brenton!-He's-Dead! Lad created by Saxon Brenton.
Cynical Lass created by Rob Rogers.
Fairy Princess Lad and Kid Enthusiastic created by Andrew Perron.
Masterplan Lad created by Adrian J. McClure.
Sister-State-The-Obvious created by wReam (Ray Bingham).
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad create by Arthur Spitzer.
Written for the 32nd High Concept Challenge: "I'm Late!"
Reading back through this now that it's written, this is easily one
of the most meta and self-referential stories I've written in years.
Notwithstanding all the confusion about numbering in this series
- ranging from the fact that I have yet to finish the second half of
LNHv.2 #48, that the Writers collectively have yet to finish the
LNHv.2 #50 roundtable story, or the disagreements about LNHv.2 #51
- I'm reasonably sure that the issue number of 52 hasn't been claimed
yet... What's that? A phone call from DC Comics complaining that
they've copyrighted the number 52? Awww, man...
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
More information about the racc