[NTB/LNH/HCC] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #57

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Mon Dec 30 18:55:36 PST 2013

[NTB/LNH/HCC] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #57
This issue of 
  [] egion of              
  []__ [] []   []  []      
  [___][ \[]et.[]__[]eroes  Volume 2 #57
       []\ ]   [ __ ]      
       [] []   []  []   
has *once again* been highjacked to present another of the 
                     MISANTHROPIC TALES
                          OF THE 
                   NET.TRENCHCOAT BRIGADE
'Merry File-System-Checking Christmas'
featuring Ring Job
written by and copyright 2013 Saxon Brenton
for the 41st High Concept Challenge
[Acraphobe content warning: This story is has a Net.Trenchcoat Brigade 
label and is therefore implied Acraphobe.]
     24th December. Christmas Eve.  
     Ring Job slumped on the lounge, exhausted.  It had been a busy 
week.  Hells, it had been a busy year.  What he really wanted to do 
was grab a bottle of scotch and drink things off.  But...
     Okay, I'm going to start off with an assumption here, but... Do 
you remember those times when you've left your Christmas shopping 
to the last moment, and you've really wanted to just let the whole 
thing slide, but there was crippling sense of guilt that this was 
something that had to be done?
     Right then.  So, that *WASN'T* like what Ring Job was feeling.
     As a professional anarchist dedicated to raising humanity's 
consciousness, Ring Job had rather different set of priorities than 
mere familial bonds, and certainly a far wider obligation than buying 
presents for friends and family so that you didn't have some fossilised 
old great aunt looking down her nose at you.  
     Ring Job reached out and picked up the scotch bottle and held 
it up to the light.  A golden brown colour filtered through the whiskey. 
Richly hued, and warmly coloured.  Warm and fuzzy.  Just like the 
thinking of most of humanity.  Poor stupid bastards.
     The Trenchcoater took a swig straight from the bottle, then put 
it down so that he could pick up a Namahage mask.  It was part of 
costume for the Japanese festival where men in masks would try to scare 
children into obedience and social conformity.  Which was just so 
typically bloody Japanese that it made you want to hit someone over the 
head with a chair leg of Truth.  But if you did that then you'd have to 
stop off over in central Europe and hit a few more people because of 
Krampus, and then...  Well, you'd never stop, now would you?
     On the other hand, if the esoterrorists didn't do this, who would?  
If people stopped caring... or more to the point, stopped caring about 
the *right things*.  Well then, it wouldn't be long before the archons 
of order had humanity completely in their thrall, and the Lameness 
would have won.
     He continued to look at the mask.  It was a symbol for a ritual, of 
course.  Every action was, when you got right down to it.  Even scaring 
little kids to try and get them to behave.  Still, this Namahage mask... 
this one was special.  Ring Job had specially modified it so that he 
could wear it upside down.
     He put on the mask.
     And besides, it would give him the excuse to be a foul mouthed, 
chain smoking, hard drinking bastard, and that was always a lot of fun.
     21st December.  
     Third task: Defying authority.
     Ring Job's ribs were still smarting from his run-in with YNHMHELad. 
Fortunately the final task wasn't particularly strenuous.  All he needed 
to do was pretend to making chalk drawings on the pavement, but even so 
that required him to kneel down from time to time.
     After a few moments he stood up again and looked at the painted 
canvas that he had rolled out on the sidewalk, as if admiring his work.  
To an extent he was, but it was something he'd prepared a while ago, 
at home, with the luxury of time and space and carefully calibrated 
thaumaturgic measurements to lay out the picture.  All he was doing 
tonight was tracing over the existing patterns with some coloured chalk 
while waiting for the right victim to turn up.
     "A bit wet for chalk drawings, isn't it?"  asked a passing cop.
     Ring Job glanced at the sky.  "Aye, a bit," he said.  "I'll 
pr'bably have to pack it in soon."  Then he looked back at the canvas 
again and smiled.  "Still, she's a beauty, ain't she?"
     The cop followed the direction of his gaze, saw the canvas, and was 
caught.  The colours glowed - in fact the entire picture pulsed with an 
interior light.
     And then, while the man was staring enthralled at the picture, Ring 
Job deftly reached over and stole the gun from his holster and then 
ambled off into the crowd.
     22nd December.
     Second task: The gift that means nothing.
     It was evening.  Ring Job opened the skylight to the Hollywood 
warehouse and then tested the rope and harness that he planned to use to 
lower himself down to the floor below.  There was no magically symbolic 
need to enter the warehouse this way - and the security on the doors was 
pretty mediocre in any case, to be honest - but Ring Job just liked the 
Mission Impossible style entrances.
     He clambered through the skylight and began to inch his way towards 
the floor.  Once he'd finished his descent he unclipped his harness and 
began to look around with a flashlight.
     Around him were the props used in thousands of Hollywood films and 
TV shows.  Bits and pieces of furniture and decoration for whatever 
scene of whichever type of show was required.  None of them were 
particularly valuable in-and-of themselves, instead having value only 
to particular fans who would care enough to remember that such-and-such 
an item was used for such-and-such a story.  Which was pretty much the 
whole point of his being here...
     The Trenchcoater glanced around.  Okay, here were the shelves with 
various empty boxes, just like his informants said they should be.  And 
the one he wanted should be right here...  Yeah...
     The tiny box was empty of course.  But that was okay, because it 
had been empty when it had appeared in 'Mork's First Christmas'.  Sure, 
the dialogue had *said* it had contained homemade presents of hand 
painted flies, but there hadn't been any close up shot and in any case 
the purported flies had been forgotten when the eponymous alien had 
learned that mere material things weren't the point of giving Christmas 
     So.  An empty box, that had only pretended to hold something, 
which had represented a useless gift for fictional people who would 
learn better.  It was absolutely perfect.
     Ring Job quickly encased the box in some bubble wrap and stowed it 
away for safe keeping.  He was just about make his departure when a 
stentorian voice declaimed, "Halt villain!"
     Dear crap on a stick.  It was a net.hero.  Some gaudily dressed 
half wit whose idea of crime fighting was to stand about, arms akimbo, 
and make like a target to draw gunfire.
     More from reflex than anything Ring Job ducked for cover behind a 
row of shelves, and peered about at both the costumed hero and for any 
obvious escape routes.  He saw the net.hero slam his arm against the 
side of a steel beam, leaving a dent in the metal, and making Ring Job 
wonder if this was one of the violent 90s style antiheroes who loved 
gratuitous property damage.  Then the hero announced, "Surrender!  I, 
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, am taking you in!" before 
leaping forward with a superhuman bound.
     Ring Job jumped back out of the way behind yet another set of 
shelving, just in time to avoid having YNHMHELad slam into the first 
and topple it over.  However he wasn't able to avoid the partial domino 
effect that sent the first shelf collapsing into the second, making it 
lean at an alarming angle but not fully collapse, and in the process 
causing some quite heavy props fall on top of him.  The Trenchcoater 
hunched down with his arm raised over himself, managing to protect his 
head even as heavy items bounced off his torso.  Ring Job fell to the 
floor, his mask skidding away into the shadows to get lost among the 
scattered bric a brac.  Man did his chest hurt.
     Ring Job didn't have time for this.  No, seriously.  Even for a 
time travelling anarchist, he was in the middle of a complicated magical 
ritual, and the high entropy phenomena associated with superhuman fight 
scenes was something that he hadn't factored in.  He needed to get out 
of here.  So he extemporised.
     "You fool!" he exclaimed.  "You cannot stop the might of Dr Upside-
Down Face!"  But even as he was saying this he was breaking costumed 
superhuman protocol by using the speech as a distraction rather than an 
introduction and challenge, and had whipped out a signal flare and let 
it off in YNHMHELad's face.  The net.hero seemed to be invulnerable, so 
it shouldn't do much more than dazzle his night vision.
     Then Ring Job ran for it.  He even tried to keep the impromptu 
cover he had created for himself by throwing in an obligatory villainous 
"Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!", but his ribs hurt too much for him to be able to 
pull it off properly.
     23rd December. 
     First task: Personal sacrifice.
     Now that he'd committed himself Ring Job moved with deliberation.  
He went to a mirror and took off the Nagahame mask (even though for 
magical purposes he was still wearing it) and looked at his rings.  
Almost every bit of Ring Job's exposed flesh had a piercing.  They 
all had some purpose.  Many of them had a symbolic meaning, and quite 
a few of them had some sort of special power.
     He selected one of them and removed it from the skin on his scalp 
behind his ear.  It was an old ring, forged of adamantine by the 
cyclopses before the rise of Zeus and his overthrow of the Titanomachy 
of Cronos.  Ring Job held it up and announced, "Th' ring represents th' 
rings of Saturn: Keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia."
     Then he put the ring down and went to get the box that didn't 
have flies in it.
     24th December. Christmas eve again.
     Ring Job arrived home, moderately pleased.  As anarchistic jaunts 
went that had been short but productive, even if it had also been a bit 
too linear.  Still, what did you expect when you had to get a gift at 
the last minute?  Sometimes you didn't have time for anything elaborate.
     He poured himself a glass of scotch and waited for the final 
seconds to count down to midnight, then held up his drink in salute and 
announced, "A merry Christmas t' all, and t' all a good night!" before 
throwing the full glass into the fireplace and causing an explosion of 
flame that was disproportionately oversized compared to the alcohol 
content.  Especially when you realised that the fireplace hadn't been lit.
     And the next day, pretty much everybody around the planet got some 
little thing that - on a deeply metaphysical level - they needed, even 
if they didn't particularly want it and maybe even could have really done 
without it on a practical level.  Just because it was good didn't mean 
it had to be nice.
     But in the meantime Ring Job had gone to bed.  He was tired, and 
besides, his ribs hurt.
Character credits:
  Ring Job created by Arthur Spitzer.  Used with permission.  First 
appeared in _An On the Deadbeat Special: Beige Happy Hour!_.  
  You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad also created by Arthur Spitzer,  
and is Free For Use.
Author's note:
     Written for the 41st High Concept Challenge: 'Christmas with all 
its ancient horrors is on us again'.
     Huh, well what do you know.  A 'Misanthropic Tales...' story 
starring a Brigade member who's actually appeared in a story within the 
past half decade, rather than being dredged out of the original _Wrath 
Of The Administrator_ cascade or the NTB FAQ.
     Actually, the main reason for this story is because I initially 
thought that we were lacking in an entry for the NTB imprint in the 
list of Looniverse RACCies eligibles for 2013.  However feedback on 
the first posting of that list in early December, plus double checking 
subject headers, indicates that this is wrong.  So now we're simply 
having another NTB story for... uhm... for the Net.Trenchcoat Brigades' 
20th anniversary.
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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