LNH: Flame Wars Final: Second Phase #5

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Fri Jun 7 23:59:10 PDT 2013

Literary Impossible and Prehistoric Productions present...

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            |   ^ ^ ^ ^  FLAME  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^  WARS  ^ ^ ^ ^   |
            |  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^       ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^      ^ ^ ^ ^ ^  |
            |   FFFFFFF IIIIIII NN   NN   AAAA   LL        |
 SECOND     |   FF        III   NNN  NN  AA  AA  LL        | NUMBER
      PHASE |   FFFFFF    III   NNNN NN AAAAAAAA LL        |       FIVE  
            |   FF        III   NN NNNN AA    AA LLLLLLL   |
            |   FF      IIIIIII NN  NNN AA    AA LLLLLLL   |
-  --------------------------------- --------------------------------  -

Francis Bacon Lass stepped first into the maternity ward, waving her 
Scientific Instrument cautiously. Irony Man, Casey, and Izzat bin 
Zachary followed; Contraption Man, Haiku Gorilla, Obnoxious Ame.rec.a 
Boy, and Cheesecake-Eater Lad guarded the entrance.

The newborns were crying cacophonously, the noise of ARAK's attack 
having been the second most exciting moment in their lives to date (the 
first, of course, being birth). Irony Man touched a panel on her armor; 
it slid back, and a speaker played a soft, soulful jazz melody. The 
children quieted, interested, then restful, calmly dropping off. The 
harried nurses relaxed in relief. Casey yaaaaawned. "That's beautiful."

Irony Man nodded, shutting off the recording. "The lullabies of the 
Puffed Orpheus are never anything else." She scanned the rows and 
columns of cribs. "There."

They gathered around. Izzat looked at the tiny being, wrapped in cloth, 
wrinkly face smoothed by slumber. "She's..." The indrawn nervousness 
that had filled him was released, and he showed a small, quiet smile.

They stepped out into the hallway, the prophesized pint-size sleeping 
safely in her proud papa's arms. Outside, Maimouna binti Jaya, her 
mother, arrived, in a gyrostabilized hovering wheelchair. She wore a 
tired smile. "Hello, everyone. I don't know quite what's going on here, 
but I am gratified to see so many pitching in to help my daughter."

"Er," said Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy, standing ramrod-straight. "I'm 
sorry, ma'am, that this stressful situation has been brought upon you 
so quickly..."

"No, no," she said, accepting a yogurt cup from a passing nurse. "I 
understood that one day there would be men who wanted to silence her, 
though I did not expect it so--"

"DON'T MOVE!" Everyone froze at Cheesecake-Eater Lad's words. He 
carefully leaned forward, lifting the yogurt cup from Maimouna's steady 
fingers, placing it carefully on the ground, and sprayed it with 
impact-buffering gel-cheesecake.

Everyone let out their breath as he stepped back. "Explosive dairy 
cultures with detonator swirl," he explained. "Mix and it explodes. 
Risky stuff to be playing around with."

Contraption Man said, softly, "And you're the only one who would have 

Casey caught Irony Man with an intensely analytical look on her face 
before it vanished into an aura of leaderly calm. "Excellent job. Let 
us hasten, before anything else has a chance to happen."

>From her armor sprung a wall of force that encompassed the group, net.
heroes, parents, and baby. They walked double file down the hallway and 
up the stairs towards the helipad high above.

Casey walked just behind the couple. He watched their body language, 
the way they looked at each other, they way they looked at their 
escorts and their daughter. He didn't need his telepathy to know they 
were confused and anxious, but they were bearing up under it with 
dignity and good humor. Were these the kind of parents it took to make 
a Messiah? And if so, what did that say about nature versus buttocks?

Wait, he meant buttocks buttocks buttocks. Buttocks buttocks? Buttocks!

A droning, oppressive, mechanical beat was playing over the PA system. 
buttOCKSbuttOCKSbuttOCKSbuttOCKS Everyone had frozen in place, 
grimacing, headaches pounding to the beat.

Everyone, that is, except Haiku Gorilla. His similan eyes flicked 
alertly over the dimly-lit corridor. When he found what he was looking 
for, he acted with decisive speed. He took a tiny sphere out of his 
pocket and tossed it in the air. As it flew, it expanded, and when it 
hit the ground, a flash of energy burst from the ball, resolving into a 
big brown bird with a pointy beak and enormous human ears.

Casey kind of lost track of what was going on at this point, 
overwhelmed by the menacing beat. Later on, the next thing he would 
remember was the brush of feathers against his face.

He blinked, and pushed himself up - he'd been half-lying, half-leaning 
against the staircase wall. Most of the others were recovering the same 
way, but Irony Man was standing, straight and easy, talking to Haiku 

"An earworm, it was
hiding in the cracks of brick
like in fresh soil."

"I see. I recognize your bird as a type of avian Hackemon - an Earow."

"Partner in polish,
taste in verse exquisite, so
harvested the beat."

"Can we *please* move along before that maniac kills us all in some 
ridiculous way!?" snapped Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy.

"Ex*cuse* me," said Contraption Man, getting up close and personal in 
OAB's face, "but that 'maniac' is still an LNHer!"

"Are you intoxicated, man!? He has *fallen* to the *dark side*!"

"And what if he hasn't? If he's being forced or tricked or mind-

"Then we still have to protect the *innocents* that you are 
*frightening*!" Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy flung an arm out in the 
direction of Maimouna and Izzat.

"Ahhhh..." said Izzat, swallowing. "Frightening? Oh, do not worry, I'm 
not... are you frightened, dear?"

"Fright-- no, no, not at all," said Maimouna, squeezing his hand.

"..." Contraption Man turned away from OAB and towards the couple. 
"He's right, of course. Your safety is what's important here. My 

"Oh, no..." "No, that's all right..."

"No, he's right, I shouldn't be putting this on you... not when I can 
finish this now." He held up a small, silvery device, pushing a button - 
and he was gone.

"...hurry." Irony Man accelerated up the staircase. Casey, following at 
full speed, lagged behind.

When he got there, bursting through the roof access door, it was a 
Scene. Anal-Retentive Archive Kid had the gun out, pointed at 
Contraption Man's chest - but it was wavering, as CM spoke in a low, 
urgent voice.

"This isn't *you*. I know, because you *told* me. A dairy-based trap? A 
verse-based trap? Wendle, you're fighting, trying to help us. And you 
are going to *win*, because once you set your will to something, *it* 
*is* *unbreakable*!"

"gnnnnNNNNEEEAAAAAH!" ARAK threw his head back, arms wide, spine stiff, 
torso thrust in the air - and from his body, echoing his scream of 
soul-borne pain, flew a bone-white specter, half-made of mist, with a 
face that was eyes and nose and mouth formed of the number 9 turned 
this way or that.

"Wait..." said Cheesecake-Eater Lad, last to make it up the stairs. 
"What *is* that?"

"A possessing spirit," said Irony Man, "linked to the idea of pitiless 
means justified by moral certainty. Designated in the Necrotelecomnicon 

"Missssster Nine," it spat.


Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, guess the references and win a 

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