LNH: Possum-Man: Relinquished #9: Of Family and Friends

Mitchell Crouch msc376 at uowmail.edu.au
Tue Mar 12 04:39:56 PDT 2013


STICKS TARQCHEVSKISON has returned to his life as the net.hero POSSUM-MAN and has sworn to hunt down the villainous villainess THE VIXEN who is ridiculously, unbelievably similar to his girlfriend, MONICA JADE. He's living with his friend, STONES, and works as a party clown for hire by day. Monica's co-worker DAVID SAWLEY is seeking Possum-Man's help with something; his wife KATE SAWLEY was the net.hero ROSE, and his young son DEANO SAWLEY has apparently inherited her powers. Deano's tutor, Professor SAH MUMIYAH, is working with the Vixen to create a serum that will channel the soul of the ancient evil sorcerer NETMAKAHN to render Possum-Man 'less heroic'. Meanwhile, the super-powered villain THE WHITE BOOMER has broken out of gaol and is on the loose.

----=== {PM} ===----

_____         ___  ____
\  _ \        \  \ \  /
 ||_||         ||\\ ||
 | __/         || \\||  O
 ||   OSSUM-MA ||  \ |  O
/__\          /__\  \|

 An ongoing        9   9
    LNH SERIES      9999
         by            9

-{ Of Family and Friends }-

The cover shows a tall, muscular, handsome man in a costume similar to Possum-Man's; where Pos' would be silver, his is green, and where Pos' is gold, his is a mottled purple. Instead of a stylised possum face as a logo, he appears to have some kind of rose. He's dramatically backlit and proudly holding a waving flag, which also has his logo on it. A child version of Sticks, dressed in a Possum-Man costume that is obviously too big for him, stands in front of the man, gazing up in awe.

----=== {PM} ===----

Sticks Tarqchevskison, party clown for hire, stood in front of a crowd of bored-looking children and enthusiastically finished the knock-knock joke he was telling. "...to get to the other side!"

One of the children coughed quietly.

"Aha... ha. Yeah." Sticks' eyes darted from side to side. Truly, it was a tough crowd. Turning to the children who coughed, he asked, "Are... you okay?"

"I have a headache," the child responded, and then coughed again. Sticks was about to make a witty reply when the child continued, "It's because you're boring and we hate you."

"Your life is objectively worthless and you have nothing to be proud of," agreed another.

"Of which to be proud," Sticks interjected. "You... you ended your sentence with a preposition, and that's wrong.

The children suddenly burst into applause. "Yay!" they cheered. "Grammar is fun and interesting!"

Sticks frowned. "Do you guys really think so? Because we can talk about grammar if you want."

The child who had coughed stood up and placed a hat made primarily out of cheap cardboard and fake feathers on his noggin. "I think we should form our own tribal society and sacrifice you to our ill-conceived heathen gods!"

This was met with a cry of support from the other children, who suddenly dressed themselves in animal hides, obtained geometrically fascinating tattoos and painted their faces with the blood of their enemies. They waved spears and cruelly hooked daggers in the air as they whooped and cheered.

Sticks swore silently. It was the all too common times like these that he hated working with children. "Wait!" he pleaded as they held him down and tied his feet together at the ankles. "I can be funny, I swear! I can, uh... I can juggle! Yeah! Juggling is cool, right?"

There was silence as the children looked to one another, gauging their companions' feelings on the matter.

"Very well," replied the apparent leader. "Juggle for us, ape!"

The children placed the skulls of stillborn children in Sticks' hand before he could protest, and he bit back tears.

----=== {PM} ===----

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad," laughed Stones as he rolled his eyes and took a bite of his donut. "So your balls dropped-"

"Dropped my juggling balls," Sticks hastily clarified.

"-and some kids were unimpressed. It was just performance anxiety or something. You just need some time off, you know? Relax, take some time for yourself." He took another bite of his hotdog. "That's what I always do!"

Frowning thoughtfully as he gazed dramatically into the distant wall on the other side of their apartment, he muttered, "Maybe I should go..." His hand reached up to his collar, touching the Possum-Man outfit underneath. "...for a walk!"

"Sure," came Stones' reply, muffled through another mouthful of corn chips as he turned back to the television.

There was a moment of silence between the two while they watched an uninspiring commercial. "So I guess I'll go..." Sticks drawled, as he slowly inched towards his bedroom, "...for a walk!"

The silence was punctuated by the sound of Stones inexplicably chewing on his Mr. Paprika. "Okay, sure. Also it's your turn to do the dishes."

"Wait, are you sure? Isn't it only Wednesday?"

"No, it's Thursday."

"Oh. Oh! Geez, sorry. I'll do that when I get back from my... walk."

"'S cool." Stones paused to observe his donut philosophically, and then took another bite. The scene ended awkwardly.

----=== {PM} ===----

As Possum-Man, Sticks jumped awkwardly from tree to tree, mostly missing and falling to the ground and having to hastily climb back up again, as he made his way into the centre of town. Dave Sawley had said that he needed to speak to Possum-Man, and the net.hero fully intended on finding out what was up.

As Pos narrated this in his head, he fell from another tree, conveniently landing right on top of the very man for whom he was searching.

"Damn hooligans!" yelped Sawley as he brushed himself off, unaware of whom had landed upon his noggin.

"Here!" cried Possum-Man heroically as he whipped a small feather duster out of one of his belt pouches. "This might help!"

"Wh- Possum-Man?" Sawley looked incredulously at the feather duster. "Why do you have a feather duster?"

Possum-Man smirked coolly. "It's part of the theme, you know? Like a brushtail possum?"

"But... you already have the cape that you use to glide, like a glider. Brushtails aren't gli-"

Pos placed a tender finger on Sawley's lips and gently shushed him. "Don't ruin this beautiful moment with words, Sawley. Now tell me what you wanted to tell me about!"

"...so you ¬_do_ want me to ruin the moment with words."

With a flourish of his cape, Pos replied, "I won't pretend to know! Talk!"

Sawley sighed. "Okay. There's something you should know, Possum-Man. My... my late wife, Kate, was actually-"

"The net.hero Rose?" Possum-Man grinned charismatically. "Trust me, I know all about that because of my mad sleuthing skills."

Sawley balked at this, clearly not expecting the hero to already be aware of his family's history. "What? How did you-"

Pos grabbed the man's face roughly and pulled him in close, so close that all Sawley could see was his own terrified reflection in the Possum-Man's yellow goggles. "Mad sleuthing skills, Sawley." Turning Sawley's head so that he was speaking directly into his ear, he repeated at a whisper, "Mad sleuthing skills."

Sawley struggled away and tried to maintain his composure. "Well... yes. My wife was Rose. But it seems that my son, Deano-"

"-has inherited her powers and can control and create plants on a whim." Pos scoffed as though this was the most obvious thing in the world, enjoying his moment of powerplay over the man who had been such a thorn in his side. "Yeah. Duh."

Looking dumbfounded, Sawley continued, "Then... then you must know what I've got to ask you, surely?"

Pos scoffed again. "Nope."

"I... wait, what?"

"Nope. No idea at all."

Sawley frowned. "You could put all of that together... but you couldn't... you can't see the obvious next step here?"

Possum-Man hesitated, thinking about it. In truth, Sah Mumiyah had just straight up told him everything, and he'd witnessed Deano's powers firsthand. What obvious next step was he missing?

"Possum-Man," David Sawley looked straight in his goggles, completely straight-faced and straightly continued, "you need to take Deano on as your sidekick."

"Oh heck no," came Pos' hasty reply. "Uh-uh. No way." He shook his head so quickly that his cheeks made comical noises. "That's such a bad idea. Have you missed the part where the Vixen and the White Boomer, two of like, the worst villains EVER, are actively trying to kill me? Not to mention that I don't know the first thing about-" Pos thought quickly. 'Having actual superpowers' probably wouldn't go down so well with his journalist audience. "-uh, plants."

"But he needs help!" Sawley insisted. "He's just a boy, he doesn't know what to do with these abilities! Surely it's better that you teach him rather than waiting until he runs off on his own and gets himself killed."

Possum-Man frowned. There were a lot of dangerous types running around at the moment, and if Deano ran into them on his own...

He sighed.

"Okay. Fine. I'll take Deano on. But if you ironically die in a heavily foreshadowed way at the hands of a net.villain whose, say, alter-ego happens to work for the same newspaper that you do, I'm not adopting him so that he can have whacky misadventures with my comic relief secondary character roommate, okay?"

Sawley's face lit up. "Thank you! Thank you, Possum-Man!" He shook the hero's hand enthusiastically, and then added, "And don't worry, even if I did die, he'd probably fight tooth and nail to go to that idiot party clown he's always talking about anyway."

Possum-Man gritted his teeth, climbed up the nearest tree, and pretended to disappear.

----=== {PM} ===----

"Can still see you, Possum-Man!" called Sawley from the bottom of the tree, waving up at him.

----=== {PM} ===----

"Okay," said Possum-Man to his new sidekick, as they stood on the top of Www.ollongong's highest tower, looking out over the sleeping city below them, "the first thing you need as a net.hero is a name. My name," he explained, "is 'Possum-Man', because I was bitten by a rabid, drunk possum, and gained the strength, speed and co-ordination of a rabid, drunk possum."

"What does 'drunk' mean?"

"Uh, never mind. So now you need to come up with a name, okay? And not -- definitely not -- 'Possum-Boy' or anything lame like that."

Deano nodded, his loose-fitting second-hand Possum-Man costume flopping about uselessly. "I wanna be... Sonflower!"

Pos frowned. "Okay, well, that's pretty terrible. Maybe we'll go with 'Plant Control Lad' or something, or-" Deano's eyes began to well up with tears. "-or, uh, or we can just stick with Sonflower for now. Yeah. That's fine. Okay, so now we-"

Suddenly, the conversation was interrupted by the sound of a gunshot from far below, followed by several more in rapid succession. Over the top of panicked screams, one man's voice could be heard yelling, "I'm a criminal with a gun! Yep, I'm shooting indiscriminately at civilians, because I'm a bad dude!"

"Bogus," cursed Possum-Man. "Mondo bummer. Okay Sonflower, gunmen are kind of dangerous, so I'm going to go and speak flippantly to him and you can stay here and-"

But Sonflower had already turned into a giant tree and grown downwards from the top of the tower with such velocity that he smashed through the pavement, ripping up the nearby ground with huge roots as a thick branch cracked the gunman in the jaw, knocking him out cold while agile vines wrapped around his wrists and ankles, stringing him up from a nearby eucalypt that Pos could have sworn wasn't there before. A Venus flytrap sprouted from the road and rapidly digested the gun, burping afterwards.

"Or, uh, yeah," Pos stammered, observing the work of his powerful new protege. "That works too."

An enormous flower bloomed from the part of the tree nearest to Possum-Man, and Sonflower jumped out of it as the petals unfolded. His costume had been transformed into a deep green, complete with mottled purple gloves, belt and cape. The stylised possum logo had become a rose with a stem and thorns, and the goggles were rounder, like the eyes of a fly. "Did I do it right?" he asked eagerly.

"Um... yes. Yeah, uh, wait, where did the costume come from?"

"Oh," Sonflower replied happily, "I synthesised some new fibres and dyes from-"

"Wait, how old are you? You're like, eight, or something, right?" Pos frowned. "Actually, I have no idea how old you are."

"Jeepers, Possum-Man!" cried Sonflower, pointing eastwards towards the ocean. "Look at that!"

There, sitting in the middle of the harbour, was the enormous ship that Green-on-Black had stolen from Port Com.bla for the Vixen. On top was a huge neon sign that read, "OSSUM-MAN COME HERE" with a flashing red arrow pointing at the ship.

Pos scratched his jaw thoughtfully. That was definitely the Vixen's ship. But who was this 'Ossum-Man'? Perhaps he would be able to help out in the upcoming battle against oh nope nevermind, the missing 'P' at the front of 'POSSUM-MAN' flickered on and off unreliably because it was definitely a trap set for him.

Possum-Man sighed. "Okay, Sonflower, listen up. You've got to go home now, okay? You've done really well tonight -- like, really, really well -- but this is going to be really dangerous and you need to go home. Right now. Okay?"

Sonflower looked at him, slightly hurt and confused but understanding that he had to go. He gave a firm nod, and then wafted away in the night breeze in a cloud of dandelion seeds.

Possum-Man breathed deeply, and then slipped the small loops on the bottom corners of his cape over the hooks on the bottom of his boots, spreading the cape out like the fleshy membranes of a glider.

Jumping off the edge of the tower, he soared towards the harbour. He neared the ground a few blocks away, and aimed for the nearest tree, doing a shoddy job of lining it up. Just as he missed and was about to turn around, the tree helpfully reached out a branch, placing it right underneath his feet and pushing him upwards.

Pos' eyes widened, and he continued along the street, nimbly gliding from tree to tree as the botany shifted beneath him to help him jump and soar. Finally, he reached the harbour, and a Norfolk Island pine reached a branch out as if beckoning to him. The Possum-Man jumped into its waiting foliage and ascended the branches as though they were a helix staircase, now with no doubt in his mind that Sonflower was possessing the trees. As he reached the top, the pine bent backwards and then sprung forward, catapulting him through the air as his cape caught the breeze and he glided towards the boat.

The net.hero spared a glance over his shoulder at the tree, and saw it swaying in the evening wind as if it was waving goodbye. He blinked, and the tree was just a tree again.

As he faced forwards, he saw a door open onto the deck as the Vixen and White Boomer walked out, facing away from him. "...won't be here for another few minutes," the Vixen was saying, "so we've got plenty of time to-"

And then Possum-Man landed on the White Boomer's head, smashing it into the floor and knocking him out. "I beat the Boomer!" he yelled with frantic excitement as he used his momentum to pounce onto the Vixen, knocking her to the ground. In the split second he had before she regained her composure, he waved his arms haphazardly in the air and let out a joyful squee.

"He's here!" cried the Vixen to someone inside. "Get out here now, he's here!"

Pos gulped. To the best of his knowledge, Green-on-Black and Duck McMuck were still in gaol, so the Vixen's unseen assistant was an unknown factor to him. Best to shut her up, he decided, and swiftly began shoving handfuls of his cape into her mouth. Naturally, she protested this movement and began spitting and throwing punches.

"Urgh, that tastes awful!" the Vixen exclaimed. "When was - puh! - the last time you washed that thing?!"

"I wash it," Possum-Man growled through gritted teeth, "every Wednesday, and I didn't realise IT WAS ALREADY THURSDAY!" And with that, he placed a forceful blow to her temple, and she stopped struggling quite so much.

Pos stood up, not quite sure what to do. He'd managed to somehow get the jump on the Vixen for once, and had levelled the playing field by knocking out the Boomer. Now he only had to worry about the Vixen's other friend...

Sah Mumiyah burst through the door with a syringe in his hand, and surveyed the scene with something akin to complete dread. "Possum-Man!"

"Professor Sah Mumiyah?!"

"You know me?!"

"No," came Pos' quick, cool reply, "because I'm not Sticks Tarqchevskison, whacky fun-loving party clown for hire who may or may not already be acquainted with you."

"That makes sense," agreed Mumiyah, "since Sticks and I are on good terms while I'm fully intending on jabbing this syringe into your arm. This would be a social faux pas if you were a powerless civilian clown, but as it is, you're an inept, irresponsible vigilante who lacks the basic moral fortitude to-"

"Just stick him already," grumbled the Vixen, clutching groggily at her head.

Mumiyah considered this for a moment before attempting to comply. "Gotta be honest," said Pos as he jumped backwards out of the way, "kinda don't want you to put that thing inside of me."

----=== {PM} ===----

Suddenly, Stones woke from his peaceful slumber and sat up straight on the couch. "That's what she said," he muttered, and instantly fell back to sleep.

----=== {PM} ===----

"If it makes you feel any better," Mumiyah explained as he jabbed wildly at the retreating Possum-Man, "it's not going to kill you or turn you into a Turtle of Apocalyptic Proportions or anything."

"I find that to only be mildly comforting, at best."

"It's the diluted spirit of an ancient Egyptian, designed to merely make your heroic traits more... recessive."

Pos nodded to himself. "Netmakahn, the sorcerer. Why do I have a terrible feeling of foreshadowing about this?"

Sah Mumiyah paused for a moment, catching his breath. A life of academia was not usually this active. "Probably because this same amount of his soul would be sufficient to, at best, drive anyone else insane, maybe even to the point where they whoops! you stuck me with it."

"Yep," agreed Possum-Man as he withdrew his open palm from whence he'd just slammed Sah's syringe-holdin' hand into the professor's own arm, "I sure did! Look, I wasn't really listening but I figured, hey, better you than me, right?"

Mumiyah's eyes widened inhumanly large, and his pupils shrank as though he was gazing into the sun itself. "Not so sure about that," he gasped as he felt to his knees, his skin yellowing and hands shaking as he went. The professor began making odd choking noises and thrashing about on the deck like a fish out of water.

Possum-Man frowned. This was beginning to look suspiciously like a Bad Idea, but he had Vixen and the White Boomer right now; he could end their little war tonight. Sah Mumiyah might have to be a problem for Future Pos.

Possum-Man turned back towards where the Vixen lay, only to find her fist flying straight at his face. He lacked the necessary agility to dodge.

"You idiot!" she shrieked as she threw another blow at him. "You absolute moron! Do you even realise what you've done?!"

"Oh, I don't know," Pos snarked in reply, "maybe avoided having THAT-" He pointed at Mumiyah's convulsing body, "-happen to me?"

The Vixen elbowed him in the head, smashing through his attempted efforts at defence and driving him to the very edge of the ship. The Possum-Man cast a worried glance backwards into the waves as the villainess continued her tirade. "You self-absorbed, incompetent, worthless... clown!" She grabbed Possum-Man by his costume and hoisted him into the air. "Sticks, you idiot, what have you done?"

Behind Possum-Man's goggles, Sticks eyes widened, and then narrowed. The Vixen knew who he was? What he did?

Something clicked in his mind. She hadn't been expecting him for another few minutes yet; the few minutes extra he would have taken to arrive without Sonflower's surprise aid. Had he gotten the upper hand on her simply because he'd been able to surprise her for the first time? More importantly, and she gotten the upper hand on him every other time just by... knowing him?

"Who are you?" he whispered, his voice barely audible above the sound of waves and Sah Mumiyah's dramatic transformation.

The Vixen's gaze softened as she realised she'd been caught unawares for the second time this evening, and Possum-Man used his momentary advantage to reach out and rip her mask off her face.

To no one's surprise but his own, Monica Jade stared back at him.

His mouth moved, and he tried to say something, but nothing came out. With one final push from the woman he had loved, Sticks was thrown into the ocean.



Love from Mitchell.

But seriously, I kinda forgot to introduce Deano as Sonflower last issue, so this one got a little big and that subplot feels kinda rushed, but that's okay! Now that Possum-Man is definitely 100% dead Sonflower becomes the new main character of the series and you get plenty of time to get to know him!

(Spoilers: Possum-Man is not dead, he falls in the water and then wonders if he remembered to turn the stove off. He swims to shore, walks home, and realises that he did. He has some corn with butter, salt and pepper before going to bed and dreaming of dinosaurs surfing through space. When he awakens the next morning, he is confused, but oddly content.)

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