LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #50
pwerdna at gmail.com
Sun Nov 2 16:20:29 PST 2014
LEGION OF NET.HEROES
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLL: :NNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
:LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLNNNNNNNN: :NNNNNNNNN: :hhhhhhh:
|LNHLNHLNHLNHLN| VOLUME TWO |LNHLNHLNHLNHLN|
|HLNHLNHLNHLNHL| ISSUE FIFTY |HLNHLNHLNHLNHL|
|NHLNHLNHLNHLNH| "The Challenge From Before" |NHLNHLNHLNHLNH|
|LNHLNHLNHLNHLN| written by and copyright 2012-2014 |LNHLNHLNHLNHLN|
|HLNHLNHLNHLNHL| SAXON BRENTON * SCOTT EILER |HLNHLNHLNHLNHL|
|NHLNHLNHLNHLNH| ADRIAN J. MCCLURE * ANDREW PERRON |NHLNHLNHLNHLNH|
|LNHLNHLNHLNHLN| MARTIN PHIPPS * ARTHUR SPITZER |LNHLNHLNHLNHLN|
|HLNHLNHLNHLNHL| ROB ROGERS * DAVE VAN DOMELEN |HLNHLNHLNHLNHL|
[ The cover is an homage to Justice League of America #100, showing a
number of present-day LNHers (Seyfert, Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II,
Irony Man II, Cynical Lass, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad,
Master Blaster, Masterplan Lad and Poignant Death Lass) standing before
a monument, with the ghostly images of founding LNHers (Comics-Snob Boy,
Mainstream Man, Catalyst Lass, Irony Man I, Lurking Girl and Mood Arrow)
looming above it. On the monument is written, "HERE LIES THE UNKNOWN
LNHER." Below is a plaque reading, "The greatest gathering of super-
stars ever recorded! The 20th anniversary adventure of the LEGION OF
NET.HEROES... in search of THE LNH'S TRUE ORIGIN!" ]
* In LNH THE EARLY YEARS #3: Irony Man (Toony Stork) related the origin
of the LNH. The LNH was founded many years ago when Rick Smith of the
Toon Brigade summoned Irony Man, Lurking Girl, Loquacious Lad, Kid
Yesterdaze, and Marvel Zombie Lad to defeat an impending threat. It
turned out there wasn't any; it was simply a practical joke. But the
five heroes decided to get together to found the Legion of Net.Heroes
should a real threat emerge. Or at least that's the official story...
* In BEIGE MIDNIGHT and LNH VOLUME 2: Irony Man betrayed the LNH in a
devil's bargain to save the world. Disgraced, he threw himself into a
final battle - but ended up praised for a save that wasn't his. He has
retired and appointed a successor, the mysterious Irony Man II...
* In STAY DEAD!, DON'T STAY DEAD!, and NOT DEAD!: On their very first
mission for the Legion of Net.Heroes, against a threat known as Beige
Midnight, Horrible Name Lad and Poignant Death Lass died. Ensign
Bodybag welcomed them to the Afterlife. They saw Don't Stay Dead Man
come for one of their teammates and give him True Death, but when the
higher powers decided that they were more interesting than he was,
they returned to the Looniverse -- just in time for Taco Salad
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The LNH Cafeteria:
"So," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, taking a bite out of
Cheesecake-Eater Lad's special Taco Salad Cheesecake, "you guys going to
the big LNH 20th Anniversary bash (that Catalyst Lass has been working
on for the last month or so) tonight?"
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. [The sidekick of Ubiquitous Boy's sidekick
Ubiquitous Lad (or is it the other way around?) -- Footnote Girl]
shrugged. "Guess so. Since I'm everywhere, I suppose I'll be there
Namer Boy, who was also sitting at the table with them, shrugged a
bit too. "I suppose. Though I hate going to these things -- without a
date. Feel like a lame loser."
"No need for that," said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad, pulling
something out of his top hat. "There. A list of all my groupies and
their numbers. Call one of them."
"You have groupies?" said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., just a bit shocked
by the idea.
"Hey. I was, like, *the* most popular character during Infinite
April -- appearing in tons of stories. Also, I won a 2007 RACCie for
best supporting character. And the ladies? I'm telling you, the ladies
love my extra thumbs. It's true."
"What are you people doing?" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough
Lad, walking over to their table with a very pissed-off look. "Sitting
and eating cheesecake?"
"Umm," said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad, taking another bite. "It's
"I can't believe you people are just sitting around," said You're-
Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, shaking his head. "Do you know what's
happening in the world -- while you're sitting here? Did you know there
are people out there, starving, who can't a job or a car or medical
care? Just laying there, waiting to die? Why hasn't the LNH done
something about this?! Why have *we* done nothing about it!?"
"Is something wrong, YNHMHE Lad?" said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad
with a concerned look. "You're being really serious."
"Is that a crime?" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.
"What? Am I supposed be just the joking guy that likes people to punch
him in the face all the time? Is that what I'm supposed to be? Because
I'm more than that! My god! Look at what's happening to the world!
People are suffering! Tyrants are brutalizing their citizens! Children
being forced into armies in Africa! In Middle Eastern countries, women
barely have any rights!! Chinese factory workers are slaving in hideous
conditions to make iPads for fat Ame.rec.ans!!! Why isn't the LNH doing
something about this? Why are we blind to everything bad in the world?
Is the world better than it was in 1992!? What good has the LNH done
during the past 20 or so years?!! Just tell me that. Just tell me that!"
His knuckles were white on the back of the plastic cafeteria chair.
"You mean other than the thousand or so times the LNH has saved the
Looniverse from complete oblivion?" said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., glaring
at YNHMHELad. "You mean other than that?"
"Plus, I'm not sure how much of that is actually in our continuity,"
noted Namer Boy.
"Look," said UBLJr. "Why don't you talk to Ultimate Ninja, or
Fearless Leader, or *someone* in a leadership position about this? We
don't control the LNH. We don't decide what missions should happen,
beyond small-time Net.ropolis stuff. So go yell at them."
"Maybe I'll go do that," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad,
returning UBLJr.'s glare. "Maybe I'll do just that!"
"Hey, guys!" piped WikiBoy as he walked towards them.
"Wassup, WikiBoy!" greeted Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad looked at WikiBoy and frowned.
"What's that on your backside?"
"Oh," said WikiBoy, with a slightly shameful look on his face.
"That's, uh, that's my beaver tail."
"Why in the world do you have a beaver tail?"
"Oh, well, Master Blaster said I had one, so... now I have one."
"Why would he do that?"
"I dunno. Guess he thought it was funny, maybe?"
"Funny!? Do *you* think it's funny?"
"Well, no. Not really."
"Do you like having a beaver tail?"
"Well, I suppose not. Though you get used to it after a while. And
it does make swimming easier."
"Do you see what's happening here?" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-
Enough Lad, turning to his friends. "How can the LNH fight the evil and
injustices in the world -- when it takes a blind eye to the evil and
injustice within its own halls? Do you finally see? This ends here! No
more will Master Blaster abuse WikiBoy! No More!! Today it all ends!!
Today, Master Blaster pays for all of his crimes!!!" You're-Not-Hitting-
Me-Hard-Enough Lad shook his fist with rage and stormed off.
"Or maybe you could just say 'WikiBoy no longer has a beaver tail'.
Or someone else could say that and it would be gone." WikiBoy waited for
someone to say something... waited... "Or maybe I could just stand here
and talk to myself."
"Wow," said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad after watching his friend's
complete meltdown. "YNHMHELad vs. Master Blaster? No good is going to
come from this. Any bets?"
"Probably Master Blaster," said Namer Boy, still looking at the list
Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad had given him. "So, do you have any pictures
of these girls?"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad slammed open the door to
Master Blaster's room. "You're an asshole!"
"Excuse me?" Master Blaster put down the rifle he was cleaning and
removed the jeweler's loupe from his eye.
"You heard me!"
Master Blaster sighed and shook his head. "I'm not mad, just...
"Seriously!" shouted YNHMHELad. "Look at how you treat WikiBoy!"
MB waved it off. "He knows I'm just kidding around."
"'Kidding around'! Well, I'm *not* kidding around! I said you're an
asshole and I meant it! What are you going to do about it?"
Master Blaster pulled out his BIGGUN and shot You're-Not-Hitting-Me-
Hard-Enough Lad in the face.
"NO!" shouted Kid Enthusiastic. "Rob! What are you doing?!"
"He literally-- wait, what are you doing here?"
"Oh, I've been taking classes! Did you know your room is right next
to the yoga studio?"
"Absolutely not and you can't prove I did."
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad sat up and spat out a tooth,
grinning brokenly at Master Blaster. "Is that the best you can do?"
"See?" said Master Blaster. "He's fine."
Kid E rubbed his forehead. "Rob, look-- if someone walks up to you
and says 'Shoot me,' are you really and actually going to shoot them?"
Master Blaster thought for a moment. "Yeah."
Master Blaster shrugged. "Look, net.heroes aren't just people in
costumes. We have a purpose! My purpose is to inflict pain and injury!"
"C'mon, big man!" said YNHMHELad, thumping his chest. "You wanna
inflict pain? Don't settle for WikiBoy! I'm right here!"
"Rob, no. Something's..." Kid E squinted at his teammate.
"Something's wrong. He's obviously not in his right mind."
Master Blaster sighed. "Fine, fine..." He started to turn away.
"Yeah, it's not like you could anyway," sneered YNHMELad.
He stopped in mid-turn. "ExCUSE me?"
"You can screw with somebody innocent but you're not gonna use your
oh-so-great powers on someone who's asking for it?" You're-Not-Hitting-
Me-Hard-Enough Lad's canines were showing, glinting long and sharp.
"Oh, well." Master Blaster nodded thoughtfully. "Let me think. You
know, I'm always shooting people with BIG GUNS..."
"Pfft!" YNHMHELad said.
"But I was created with the ability to bring forth ANY weapon!"
Master Blaster concentrated. In his hands formed an intercontinental
ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear warhead!
"NO! Nonononono!" Kid E hopped up and down. "You're about to kind of
destroy all of Net.ropolis!!"
Master Blaster thought for a moment. "You know, he's right. Hurting
you isn't worth destroying the city, is it?"
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad shrugged. "I suppose..."
"All right, then..."
"...that this is your way of wimping out."
"...wimping out?" Master Blaster said.
" oh god " said Kid Enthusiastic.
Master Blaster lifted the entire missile in the air and shoved it
down You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's throat. "@#$% YOU!"
By coincidence, this was the code that activated the nuclear device.
YNHMHELad's stomach underwent a tactical atomic explosion.
"Wow," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, smoke flowing from
his orifices. "That actually hurt."
Kid Enthusiastic looked at Master Blaster, disapproving yet kind of
impressed. "Happy now?"
Master Blaster smiled. "Right now? Yes. Yes, I am!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad and Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. helped
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad along the hallway as they made
their way to the LNHQ infirmary.
"God," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, looking at YNHMHELad's
bloody mouth. "I've never seen you hurt this bad! I mean, you've fought
all kinds of villains and stuff -- people way more powerful than Master
Blaster -- and you've never been hurt this bad! Are you sure you're
"Yeah, it's no... big..." And then You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough
Lad's limbs went limp, his eyes rolling back into their sockets.
The two net.heroes helped their friend to the floor. Ubiquitous Boy
Lad Jr. checked YNHMHELad's pulse, but couldn't find it. "Nothing. He's
dead. You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad is dead! Master Blaster
"My God! You're sure? He's dead?" said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad,
staring at You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's corpse with
disbelief. "He can't be-- wait! Look! Something is happening!" And
something *was* happening. The corpse began to shift -- changing into
"It's an alien! A Dorf! A Dorfian shapeshifter!" said Ubiquitous Boy
Lad Jr., voice filled with horror and relief.
"So, wait," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, backing away from the
alien corpse. "If that's not him -- then where is the real You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad? And why do the Dorfs care about WikiBoy's
Right on cue, as if from thin air, Doctor Stomper appeared.
"Gah!" said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
"It's quite simple," Dr. Stomper explained. "This *is* the real
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. Clearly, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-
Hard-Enough Lad has always been a Dorf. Why do you think he always
wanted people to hit him? Is that normal human behavior? Why, not at
all! But it's perfectly normal behavior for a Dorf!"
"So Master Blaster killed the *real* You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-
Enough Lad?" UBLJr. asked.
"Killed?" Doctor Stomper asked. "That's impossible! You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad has a Wolverine-level healing factor! He's
never been hit hard enough that it's permanently hurt him!"
"He *did* swallow a nuke," said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad.
"And he doesn't have a pulse!" Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. said.
Doctor Stomper chuckled paternally. "You're forgetting that Dorf
physiology isn't the same as that of ordinary humans." Doctor Stomper
stuck a finger down You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's pants.
"Doc!" Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad said. "Ew!"
"It's okay," Doctor Stomper said, "I'm a doctor. Aha! A pulse! It's
faint but it's there!" He pulled out a moist towelette and swabbed his
hands. "You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad just needs time to
"Well that's a relief!" Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad said. "I guess
there was nothing to worry about after--"
Just then, Namer Boy walked in. His eyes bulged out cartoonishly.
"There's a Dorf in the cafeteria!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
In a burst of blue-green light, Masterplan Lad fell through the air
into the bushes in front of the LNHQ. He spat out the leaves that
Domestic Lad had so carefully curated and stood up.
A moment ago, he had been... elsewhen. The last thing he could
remember was standing at the edge of the universe [See Ultimate
Mercenary #7 -- Footnote Girl], but he had the telltale whiff of
Ottobindervitch displacement, meaning that he wouldn't remember what
he'd been doing until he caught up with the continuity. It didn't
matter, as the effect was clearly meant to keep this story simple, so
you didn't have to catch up with the whole convoluted Ultimate Mercenary
storyline (in which he had originally appeared) to read it.
He looked up at the facade of the LNH's headquarters. It was subtly
but noticeably different from the last version he'd seen. His companions
were nowhere in sight, which left him disappointed but also relieved, as
at least it meant things might be a little bit less confusing this time.
Heaving a sigh of frustration, he passed through the double doors
and saw a Japanese woman sitting behind the desk, hurriedly struggling
to get some paperwork done. This must be Kyoko Ishikawa. Though she was
plain enough by net.heroine standards, he found himself staring intently
at her and felt cold sweat on his forehead. Not this again. He'd been
distracted from it before by all the chaos he'd undergone. She looked up
and blinked. "Are you all right?"
"I... I suppose so. Er, what year is it?" he asked.
Kyoko groaned. "Not another time traveller! Ah, no offense."
He sighed. "None taken. Believe me, if I had any choice, I would not
have gotten involved in any of this convoluted time travel nonsense. Is
there some sort of crisis going on?"
"Not right now, but if you wait a few minutes... Anyway, are you
from the future?"
"No, I'm already a member of the team, though I haven't been around
very much. I'm Masterplan Lad." He hoped she wouldn't remember who he
was, not to mention the fact that he'd accidentally destroyed the LNHQ.
[In one of the Infinite Leadership Crisis issues that Adrian swears he's
going to write someday -- Footnote Girl]
"Wait, didn't you destroy the LNHQ?"
"I... ah. Well. It was a very complicated situation. And
technically it wasn't me, it was the giant monster, which..."
Thankfully, he was interrupted by a shout coming from nearby:
"There's a Dorf in the cafeteria!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"We used to be LNH members. Why can't we find the cafeteria?"
pondered Poignant Death Lass. "Maybe it's because we're more real now --
not just a one-off joke, meant only to die. We must struggle on our own
"I bet it'd be easier to find if you called it the Old-Fashioned
Slop Trough," said Horrible Name Lad.
"...of course, some of us must struggle harder than others..."
Then from down the corridor and around the corner they heard a
"There's a Dorf in the cafeteria!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"There's a Dorf in the cafeteria!" Namer Boy shouted again. Hearing
no response to his first two cries, he opened his mouth to shout once
more -- only to have a hand ending in five well-manicured fingertips
clamp down over his mouth.
Namer Boy could not help but notice that the hand in question was
attached to an arm, which was in turn connected to a young woman, and
that the young woman -- Cynical Lass to her friends -- was not very
"Why," Cynical Lass asked, "are you shouting right outside the door
to my room when I'm trying to sleep?"
Namer Boy did his best to reply, though his efforts in this regard
were hindered by the continued presence of Cynical Lass' palm on his
face. She sighed, and removed her hand.
"It's noon," Namer Boy said, rubbing his face.
"Ah," Cynical Lass said. "And some vestigial roosterish part of you
insists on shouting every day at noon, is that it?"
Namer Boy considered this. "There's an alien in the cafeteria."
"I believe the government now refers to them as 'guest workers,'"
Cynical Lass said.
"It's a Dorf," Namer Boy explained.
"The Tim Conway character?"
"A... glk... Dorf," Namer Boy continued, as Cynical Lass dragged him
by his shirt collar through the double doors of the cafeteria.
There, a small semi-circle of super-heroes -- and Ubiquitous Boy Lad
Jr. -- stood around an unconscious You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough
Lad, who was receiving medical attention from Doctor Stomper.
"Dorfs are vicious, brutish, thuglike monsters from a warrior planet
whose only interest is brawling with others like themselves," Namer Boy
"You've just described two-thirds of everyone who ever declared
themselves to be a super-hero," Cynical Lass said. "Or haven't you
noticed that the moment someone acquires super-powers, they decide that
the best way to solve the world's problems is by rounding up everyone
who disagrees with them and punching them in the face."
"You're forgetting about the shooting and the blowing up," said
Master Blaster, licking cheesecake from his fingers.
"So what the hell happened here?" asked Cynical Lass, peering down
at the fallen hero. "I've seen You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad
shrug off a broadside from a battleship. I've seen him wade through
rivers of lava in the path of an erupting volcano. I've seen him sit
through all two hours of the horror that is 'You Don't Mess With the
Zohan' without screaming. What could possibly put him down?"
"My best guess," Doctor Stomper said, without looking up, "is that
the nuclear device fed to him by Master Blaster reacted poorly with the
taco salad cheesecake he ate earlier. It's likely that since his powers
are geared towards absorbing kinetic energy, that he probably also has
radiation poisoning and burns. He'll also have lost all his gut flora,
so we'll also need to contact the Dorfs to get a sample of fecal matter
for a poop transplant."
Cynical Lass looked at Master Blaster. "You nuked You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, just because he's a Dorf?" she asked.
"I nuked him because he's an @$$hole," Master Blaster corrected.
"If I'd known he was a Dorf, I would have used something stronger."
Cynical Lass glanced from one masked face to another with a scowl
that was very nearly nunlike in its disapproval.
"What is it about these Dorfs," she asked, "that makes them any
worse than all of the alien koalas, hamsters, bug people, giant
transforming robots and sentient shades of blue you people deal with on
a regular basis?"
"That's simple," said a smooth, slightly metallic voice. Cynical
Lass turned to see the tall, armored shoulders of Irony Man filing the
entrance to the cafeteria.
"We hate Dorfs because of what happened during the very first
mission of the LNH," Irony Man said.
"Hang on. Time out," said Masterplan Lad, who had entered the
cafeteria just ahead of Cynical Lass, and had been waiting all this time
to get a word in edgewise. "I thought the LNH's first mission was going
up against Doctor Killfile."
"Well, technically, yes," Doctor Stomper said. "Doctor Killfile was
the first threat faced by the Legion of Net.Heroes. But before they
adopted that distinctive cognomen... before they considered themselves a
group... the individual members of the LNH participated in... another
"And that involved the Dorfs?" Cynical Lass asked.
Doctor Stomper shook his head. "I did not yet have the privilege of
Legion membership at the time in question," he said. "Irony Man here
could tell you what happened."
"Of course," Irony Man said. "If I remember correctly, it all went
something like this..."
~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~
"I can't believe we survived that!" Irony Man said, smoke pouring
from the tattered remains of his armor. "I swear -- on my mother's grave
-- I will never forget what happened this day, not for as long as I
~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~
"Good times," Irony Man said, wistfully.
"That's IT?" asked Horrible Name Lad, who had entered the cafeteria
during the flashback. "That was both less informative and more
aggravating than the average employee at an Apple Genius bar."
"You really don't remember anything else that happened?" Pulls-
Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad asked.
"Of course I remember. It's just that I don't happen to have the
memories with me at the moment," Irony Man said.
"Come again?" asked Cynical Lass.
"Do you remember every single number programmed into your cell
phone?" Irony Man asked.
"I don't even remember how most of them got into my cell phone,"
Cynical Lass admitted.
"And why should you? Using technology to store those numbers frees
up your mind for more creative thoughts," Irony Man said. He tapped the
side of his helmet with one golden gauntlet. "That's why I constantly
download all of my memories into the servers on sub-basement levels 50
through 58.5. It allows me to live fully in the moment -- something
ascetics have been trying to achieve for thousands of years -- while at
the same time giving me the ability to revisit the memories of my
earlier days at any time I choose, with a clarity that is simply
unavailable to the average person."
"You have eight and a half levels of Legion headquarters devoted to
storing your memories?" gasped Poignant Death Lass, who had followed
Horrible Name Lad into the cafeteria and was staring in wonder at the
many varieties of cheesecake on display. "Isn't... doesn't that strike
you as kind of a waste of space?"
Irony Man shrugged. "I do own the building," he said.
"Then that settles it," Cynical Lass said. "We'll all take a trip
down to subterranean memory lane and find out what Irony Man and the
rest of the Legion did in their first adventure."
That Master Blaster chose that moment to stare at Cynical Lass was
hardly surprising. That he -- for the first time since she had made his
acquaintance -- was not staring at her chest caught her attention.
"Why on earth would we do that?" he asked. "Believe me, nothing
good ever came from going into any of the sub-sub-basements. And
frankly... who cares what those guys did during their first adventure?
It's not like the Legion was even really the Legion before *I* came on
"Well," Doctor Stomper said, "there is the fact that one of our
members has just turned out, quite unexpectedly, to be a member of a
vicious, shape-shifting alien species. Which means that other members of
the Legion could also be Dorfs... hidden, perhaps, even from
"And we now know that the Dorfs were involved in the LNH's first
mission," Masterplan Lad said. "And that something terrible happened...
so terrible that the Legion still considers the Dorfs to be one of its
"Fine," said Master Blaster, folding his arms. "But I still don't
see why we have to go digging through Toony Stork's mental shoebox.
Couldn't we just ask somebody else who was along for the ride?"
"You could ask Pocket Man. Or Rebel Yell," Namer Boy said.
"Assuming you could find them, of course."
"Sounds like a job for List Lad," Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr. suggested.
Irony Man snorted. "A job for List Lad? That's something that's
never been said in the entire recorded history of the LNH."
"Oh, I don't know," said Painful Pun Person, entering the cafeteria
with a coffee cup in her hand. (First appearance! Collect them all!)
"I've been feeling a little listless myself, lately."
"Besides, Irony Man, how would you know?" Cynical Lass asked. "Your
memory is in the basement."
"Well, there you go," said Master Blaster, pausing briefly to leer
at Painful Pun Person. "We'll just ask List Lad about this when he
arrives for the anniversary party tonight."
"List Lad won't be here tonight," Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad said.
"Really?" Irony Man asked. "Is there a list-related emergency going
on somewhere that none of us knows about?"
"I have his letter right here," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad,
who, not surprisingly, removed the letter in question from his hat.
"Top Five Reasons Why I Will Not Be Attending The LNH's 20th
Anniversary Party, Even Though Catalyst Lass Is a Smoking-Hot Babe,"
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad read. "Number 5: All tuxedos in town have
been rented in anticipation of RACCies ceremony that was supposed to
happen in March."
"Oh, good," Poignant Death Lass said. "I was afraid we had missed
that. Being dead and all."
"Number 4: Afraid I'll be seated with some subgroup that has an
"You mean, like, 'The Incredibly Strange Former Super-Heroes Who
Stopped Working And Became Deadbeats?'" Horrible Name Lad suggested.
"Number 3: Can't find a date, because Pullls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats-Lad
and wReamhack found a way to hack the Match.com and eHarmony Web sites.
Whoops," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, turning crimson.
"I knew that story about groupies was too good to be true," Namer
"Number 2: Afraid I might have a bad reaction to something I ate at
"You can say that again," muttered You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough
Lad, who had managed to sit up at last.
"And the number one reason List Lad won't be attending tonight's
party," Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad continued. "Because of what Toony
Stork did to me and the woman we both loved during the LNH's very first
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
According to the Wikipedia Galactica (which has kept the relevant
page locked for centuries, as Dorf-related pages tend to attract a fair
amount of vandalism), the Dorfs emerged from seemingly nowhere five
thousand years ago, around the same time as the beginning of recorded
history on the minor but persistently irritating planet known as Earth.
Fleets of Dorf ships flooded from outside the galaxy, bringing
devastation in their wake. They destroyed the original homeworld of the
Inhilators, almost brought down the Christicantthinkofagoodname Empire,
wiped out six trillion Dvorakians, reduced the numbers of the Arcane to
no more than a few hundred (from which they never recovered), and caused
even more death indirectly by crashing the galactic communications
network with their constant troll-posts. Even the Ultimate Dullifier of
Alt.lactus had failed to stop them in their tracks. After the Great
Flamewar, which lasted for 69 transgalactic megawhatzits (approximately
a century and a half), an order of gods and heroes known as the
Guardians of All That Is joined together to defeat them. The Dorf
finally agreed to a truce and stayed for a time within the area which
forms the core of their empire now.
No one knows the history of the Dorf before they came to our galaxy.
According to their own legends, however, they were once a peaceful and
quiet people who dedicated themselves to the pursuits of philosophy.
Their world knew no crime, disease, or war. It was also incredibly
boring. But this world came to an end when a being they called the
Prophet, one of the ancient Net.Trolls, arrived in their galaxy. It was
this being who first brought the power of Senseless Violence to their
galaxy. It warped them in body and soul and began a war that rendered
their whole galaxy uninhabitable. The Prophet was never seen again,
though there were rumors that after the Great Collectible Trading Card
Crisis he had attacked the Earth and met his death at last. [In The
Flame Wars IV -- Footnote Girl]
But ever since then, the Dorf have been plotting to restore their
Prophet to life and regain their ancestral glory...
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Somewhere in the depths of the endless void, countless light-aeons
beyond the known galactic cluster, there lies a world that orbits no
sun, coated by metal and shining with the reflected gleam of a billion
stars. This is the world known as Topphorti, home of the dark Net.Gods.
It resembles what the people of Earth know as a disco ball. There was
another world that stood opposite it once, a green and fruitful world of
song and rejoicing, but that world is no more.
Beneath the surface of the shining metal world is a warren of dark
and cramped caves where workers who have never seen the light of a sun
toil forever. Their only outlet for rest is dancing on an equally dark
and crowded dancefloor, desperate for empty hedonism, dancing to
thumping and insistent beats. Countless of them die every day on the
dancefloor, crushed to death by their peers, just as they die in the
factories. Yet they still dance.
Imagine a boot stamping on the dancefloor forever.
A Dorf superawesomegrimdarkmegadreadnought emerged from hyperspace
above that world. It was an enormous techno-gothic nightmare, bristling
with flying buttresses covered in hideous gargoyles wielding chainsaws.
It was built more for form than function, but dangerous nonetheless. It
dropped seven massive bombs in the shape of screaming, distorted faces.
Each of these flamebombs had the power to destroy an entire planet. The
seven flamebombs exploded in a deafening crash and a giant conflagration
that covered the planet's surface, reflected up into space by the
mirrors that coated it. When the light faded, there was a tiny crack in
the planet's surface. Just large enough for the Dorfs to teleport
A party of twelve Dorf soldiers, a Dorf in a general's uniform, and
another in leather armor covered in spikes and chains who looked like he
could have stepped out of a thirteen-year-old boy's math class notebook
appeared in one of the dark tunnels. "It is time now," said the general.
"Soon the Heart of the Prophet will be ours once more. Are you ready,
you slime-sucking space-leeches?"
"Yes sir, General Jarrek!" said one of the Dorf soldiers. The others
looked at him in horror.
"I don't think I heard you right. What did you say?"
"I vomit on the corpse of your mother, sir!" said the Dorf soldier
"Not good enough. Marshall LaRocque, take care of him."
The figure in spikes and chains grinned widely, revealing a mouth
full of spiky yellow teeth. Then he leaped at the soldier and proceeded
to savage him. The other Dorf turned away in disgust. He was an elite
hero-killer, who had Descended and become one with the power of
Senseless Violence. Three times he was thought to die at the hands of
the LNH, but Death itself could no longer contain him. He could reach
depths of cruelty which horrified even his fellow Dorf.
"Your guts are too small!" he said to the decapitated head of his
former comrade, a look of horror frozen on its face. "Oh well." They
then heard the tramping of boots coming down the tunnel. It was squadron
of heavily armored figures carrying massive clubs engraved with
circuitry -- the Club Bangers, pitiless servants of Flipseid, Lord of
"Oh yeaaaaah, now we're talking!" said the Marshall. "Are you ready
to LaRocque?" He drew his two vorpal chainswords and lay into the Club
Bangers, the other Dorf shooting from behind him. "Oh yeah, the sweet
symphony of chaos and death! That's music to my ears, baby!"
"Enough!" said a voice from the shadows. The Dorf soldiers found
they were frozen in place. A being with skin like a grooved vinyl record
walked down the tunnel. "What do you want here?" His voice was low and
rumbling like an earthquake.
General Jarrek turned to the newcomer, and for a moment lost all his
composure and and was overtaken by a look of sheer terror. "Flipseid. We
have come here to recover the heart of our Prophet."
He laughed. It was the most ghastly thing Jarrek had ever heard. "Do
you mean OMAR? The one you call the Prophet is the least of my
"Nevertheless, he almost destroyed the LNH once. With our help he
could truly succeed."
"And what makes you think you could succeed where so many others
"We have Marshall LaRocque on our side. And if you do not give us
the Heart, we will unleash him against you and yours."
"Hmm. Yes, he could be a nuisance."
"Hey, I'm not just a nuisance! I'm a nuisance and a half, disco
daddy, and don't you forget it!"
"Didn't the Legion kill you twice?"
"Yeah, but this time I'll be ready! I'm a mean lean Legion-killin'
machine! I'm ready to rub the blood!"
"The last few times, he faced them unprepared. This time, I have a
plan. I have waited this day since before they were formally founded. I
was the only survivor of those who faced them on their first mission. I
have watched them from afar and studied their tactics, waiting for the
right moment to strike. That moment has come."
Then Flipseid laughed again. "So! I am curious what will come of
this plan. You have my support -- and the eyes of Flipseid be upon you."
And from a distance, cloaked from sight, the cosmic protector and
reserve LNHer known as Seyfert watched. He'd known the Dorfs were
planning something terrible but had no idea it would be anything like
this. If only he could make it to Earth and warn the Legion in time...
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Kid Enthusiastic ran into the cafeteria, sneakers skidding on the
tile floor. "Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!"
"So... what did you do?" asked Cynical Lass, turning to Irony Man.
"...beats me," shrugged Irony Man. "Looks like we'll have to go
down to the sub-sub-basements to find out."
"Just a minute." The cafeteria doors slammed open. Standing there
was... another Irony Man! "Might I inquire into who it is that's
standing in front of me?"
"The real deal!" said Toony Stork, taking off his Irony Man helmet-
head-thingee. "And you are?"
"I figured you knew that, seeing as you were the one that hired me
to replace you," said the mysterious Irony Man II.
"Oh. That was me? Well, I guess that info is down there too."
"Why are *you* even in the Irony Man suit?" asked Cynical Lass
"Because -- I'm Irony Man? Oh yeah, and Catalyst Lass invited me to
the big bash. What the hell is everyone's problem?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. "Just that you quit
being Irony Man years ago after what you did during Beige Midnight!"
"Did? What did I do?" said a puzzled Irony Man.
"Well, for starters, you teamed up with the HexFire Club and helped
them take over the LNH."
"That doesn't ring any bells. Guess I must have put that info down
in the sub-sub basements too. Well, guess we better go down there."
"Say, shouldn't we be putting You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad
into a cage or something?" asked Namer Boy.
"Hey!" said Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad. "He's our friend!"
"Yeah, I know. But he's also a crazed killing Dorf. I'm just
As the heroes continued to argue, Dr. Stomper's face twisted into
irritation. Those stupid LNH'rs -- why don't they all just shut up so I
can think about -- wait! Where did that burst of rage come from? Why was
he so angry at the LNH? And then Dr. Stomper looked at his hand. It was
starting to change.
Could it be that he was wrong about You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-
Enough Lad -- that he hadn't always been a Dorf? Could it be that
whatever had caused You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad to change was
also starting to happen to him? But what was causing it? And then he
looked at his lab coat -- and at a small piece of Cheesecake Eater Lad's
Taco Salad Cheesecake that was on it. This was not good -- not good at
all. Could the cheesecake be changing the DNA of LNH'rs and turning them
into shapeshifting Dorfs? He needed to warn everyone. To stop those who
hadn't yet eaten the cheesecake -- and to quarantine anyone who had
already taken even the smallest bite. But something inside him prevented
him from doing this -- some ever growing rage within him that was
getting bigger and bigger.
Why should he warn these stupid LNH'rs, thought Dr. Stomper. They
all needed to die -- for their past sins. Yes, die! Kill them all! Dr.
Stomper looked at his hands, quickly changing into claws. His teeth
began to change into razor sharp fangs. Yes, time to kill them.
Kill them all!!!!
Snarling, Doctor Stomper leapt like a feral animal, grabbed Poignant
Death Lass as his first victim, and snapped her neck!
"No!" said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad. "Doctor Stomper is a Dorf as
"Oh, very well spotted!" snarked Stomper with sarcasm so acidic that
it could have dissolved holes in the floor. "I guess you've got
functioning eyeballs. Here, let me RIP THEM OUT FOR YOU!"
Stomper lunged for Hats Lad, who dodged and fell backwards into a
rack of battle cheesecakes. Cheesecake-Eater Lad's special Knockout
Cheesecake landed on his head, and he was out for the count.
Master Blaster hefted another nuke. "Well, it worked last time..."
he said to the world in general with an almost philosophical air.
However, Cynical Lass stepped forward before anyone else could act.
"Oh, there are some wankers whose presence is obvious," she said coolly
to Doctor Stomper.
"Oh, to someone like you?" asked Stomper in a sneering sing-song
voice as he rounded on her.
"Yes indeed," said Cynical Lass calmly. She stepped forward again,
making an offhand jabbing motion with her cigarette. She hadn't had a
cigarette in her hand a second ago during the exposition, and she
certainly hadn't had time to light it. But she had a lit cigarette now
-- maybe thanks to her powers -- and wielded it with an almost
absentminded motion. Doctor Stomper was forced to step back a pace, lest
he get stabbed in the eye. "Don't think the rest of us hadn't noticed
the way you manipulated the story direction. But you know, you're
Doctor Stomper growled again and made to lunge forward, but another
dismissive flick with the cigarette kept him from carrying through with
Meanwhile both Irony Men had their arms out, aiming their repulsor
beam at Doctor Stomper. "Stand back, Cynical Lass," announced one of
them, clearly enough to be heard over the electronic whine of their
armaments cycling towards full power.
Cynical Lass ignored them. "Oh yes, very clumsy. Your explanations
were geared towards covering up what was going rather than actually
fixing the problem." She rolled her eyes, and tsked. "How could we not
Masterplan Lad wandered over to WikiBoy and said, "You know, she has
a very good point."
WikiBoy looked at him, a touch startled because he'd been distracted
by the confrontation happening in the middle of the room.
Masterplan Lad said, "Much as I dislike engaging in strings of yes-
it-is/no-it-isn't/yes-it-is retcons, I think it's time we dispensed with
this silliness and got on with dealing with the main threat. WikiBoy,
you have the power to revert anyone who's been turned into a Dorf back
WikiBoy blinked and said, "Okay," and held up a hypo-spray style
Masterplan Lad looked at the needle.thingy. "Hmm. I was hoping for
the use of a generic snap-your-fingers-and-it's-done ability, but it
would seem that miss Cynical Lass's supposition about the story being
kept complicated and therefore interesting is on the money."
"Actually, it shouldn't take too much to bring things to a climax,"
said Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II to Masterplan Lad. "If I may?" he
said, taking the needle.thingy from WikiBoy.
Almost everybody else had missed this exchange, being focused
instead on the deadlock as Doctor Stomper continued to half circle
around Cyncical Lass, while she kept him at bay with biting comments
about his motivations. ARAK stepped into their confrontation space
(which is like personal space, only for a far more specialised purpose),
and said, "Now, now Cynical Lass, there's no need to be jabbing at him
with your cigarette. You'll do him more damage WITH THIS!" At which
point Anal-Retentive Archive Kid whirled and jabbed Doctor Stomper in
the neck with the needle.thingy.
Immediately Doctor Stomper staggered to his knees as the vaccination
took effect. "Fast-acting," observed ARAK. "Well done, WikiBoy."
Masterplan Lad ahemed, and pointed at the figure of You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, who was still recumbent on the floor.
"Just getting to that," said ARAK, before wandering over and
injecting him as well.
"Well that's all well and good," observed Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats
Lad, "but Poignant Death Lass was killed."
"No, she wasn't," said Doctor Stomper weakly, from where he was
resting after his ordeal. "That wasn't a poignant death, merely a shock
tactic to ramp up dramatic tension. If you check, you'll see that she's
merely unconscious from shock and has severe whiplash. Nothing that the
use of the Urple Healing Ray won't fix as good as new."
"That was quick thinking, Anal-Retentive Archive Kid," Namer Boy
said. "Another second or two, and we would have been in real trouble."
"And I suppose Doctor Stomper nearly getting his eyes gouged out
with a lit cigarette doesn't count as real trouble?" Ubiquitous Boy Lad
"And I'm going to be living at my chiropractor's for the next six
months or so," Poignant Death Lass said, rubbing her aching neck.
"And I'm back on cigarettes again, after six months without a smoke.
A sweet, sweet, delicious smoke," sighed Cynical Lass, placing a
cigarette in her mouth and inhaling deeply.
"We're not out of the woods yet," said Doctor Stomper, who -- with
Kid Enthusiastic's help -- was applying a salve of aloe cheesecake to
his injured face.
"Hell no," muttered Master Blaster. "If I know these authors, we're
barely out of the first act."
"I only had a chance to study You're-Not-Hitting Me-Hard-Enough-
Lad's blood sample briefly before... well, before..." Doctor Stomper
"Before you turned into a raging engine of death and I tried to
stick my ciggy in your eye," Cynical Lass finished.
"Well, yes," Doctor Stomper said. "But what I saw indicated a
transformation of You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's genetic
material that was much more extensive than one would suppose would be
possible if it were triggered by a mutagen in the cheesecake he ate this
"Then the Dorfs might have found some other way to get to us," Kid
Enthusiastic said. "Everyone... the whole LNH... the entire world...
might be infected."
The room was silent for a moment -- but for the steady drip, drip,
drip of one of the Legion's several coffee makers -- as everyone
absorbed the impact of Kid Enthusiastic's words.
"On the bright side," the spiky-haired preteen continued, "it's
probably safe to eat the taco salad cheesecake."
"Or as safe as it ever was," Cynical Lass said.
Doctor Stomper cleared his throat. "As near as I can tell," he said,
"the Dorf compound remains dormant in the victim's system until the
victim experiences a period of great anger, frustration, or stress. Then
the compound begins forcing the victim's body to manufacture a kind of
artificial adrenaline, an..."
"En-Dorf-in?" Painful Pun Person asked.
"Precisely," Doctor Stomper finished.
"So all we have to do is to tell the LNH -- and the people of Earth
-- to keep calm and carry on in the face of a pending alien invasion,"
said Cynical Lass, staring at her cigarette. "I'm going to need a lot
more of these."
There was a loud, metallic clang as the original Irony Man clapped
his hands together.
"Here's the plan," he said. "Master Blaster, you take Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid II, Horrible Name Lad, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-
Enough Lad, the other me and Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr. and bring this
sample of the antidote to Kid Kirby's lab. Have him manufacture as much
as possible. Try to avoid triggering any Dorf transformations along the
way -- but if you do..."
"No problem," said Master Blaster, cocking his BIGGUN in a manner
that was as satisfying as it was unnecessary.
"Stomper," Irony Man continued, "get to the Central Command Center.
If we really are looking at an invasion, every nation on Earth will need
to know about it. Take Namer Boy and Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr. with you.
"Masterplan Lad," Irony Man said, "I need you to..."
"Find a way to keep everyone in Legion headquarters cool, calm and
collected?" Masterplan Lad finished. "Already on it."
"Great," Irony Man said. "And could you..."
"Work with Kid Enthusiastic, WikiBoy and Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr. on
the solution? I'd be honored," Masterplan Lad said.
"Uh, okay," Irony Man said, turning to Cynical Lass, Poignant Death
Lass, Painful Pun Person and Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr. "The rest of you,
come with me. We're going to head downstairs and find out what I know
about all this. Or used to."
"And finally, I'll need you, Ubiquitous Boy Lad, Jr., to stay here
and coordinate our actions," Irony Man said.
"I never get to do anything," UBLJr. grumbled.
Kid Enthusiastic began racing for the doors of the cafeteria, while
everyone else remained gathered in a circle around Irony Man.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Irony Man said. "These aliens
aren't just going to send themselves home -- no matter what kind of laws
"Uh, no offense, Toony," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough-Lad
hesitantly, "but, well..."
"You can't just betray the Legion, leave the team, hire a
replacement, and then walk right back in and start expecting everybody
to follow your orders as though nothing happened," Master Blaster
"Why not?" Irony Man said. "It worked for Steve Jobs. Look, I know
that wiping my own memory might seem like an... unusual way for me to
deal with what happened during Beige Midnight. Would it have been better
if I had done it the old-fashioned way, drowning my sorrows in a bottle?
Would that have made any of you respect me more?"
"It depends," Cynical Lass said. "What kind of bottle are we talking
"I know... or at least, I think I know... that the decisions I made
during the recent crisis were... difficult for some of you to accept,"
Irony Man said. "But I also know something else."
"That you're rich as hell, so it doesn't matter?" Master Blaster
"That we're all still here," Irony Man said. "That despite the
Bryttle Brothers... and Bart... and Hex Luthor... and that whole
business with the Norse god of trickery..."
"Uh, that was the Avengers movie," Namer Boy said.
"Damn. I've got to stop switching up those memory sticks," Irony Man
said. "But the point is... despite everything, we're all still here. And
I have to think that some of my decisions... whatever they were... had
something to do with that."
The needle on the irony detector at the center of Irony Man's chest
plate wavered slightly.
"Irony Man's right," said Kid Enthusiastic, who had burst
breathlessly back into the room after realizing that no one was
following him. "This isn't the time for us to bicker! This isn't the
time for us to be questioning each other's motivations!"
"Actually," said Cynical Lass, "given that we're up against a shape-
shifting nemesis who has already infiltrated our ranks, I'd say this was
exactly the right time for us to be questioning each other's motives."
"This is the time for us to pull together! To save the world! And
then to come back here and celebrate -- with cheesecake!" Kid
Enthusiastic finished, and even Cynical Lass joined in the round of
cheers that followed.
Nevertheless, she asked Kid Enthusiastic to stay back for a moment
while the others left to carry out their missions.
"Why?" she said.
"Why what?" Kid Enthusiastic said, though he knew perfectly well
what she meant.
"Why the Dorfs? Why now?" Cynical Lass said. "If they're really as
savage as people say... why haven't they tried to conquer the Earth
before now? What makes this moment so special? Is it the global economic
crisis? The collapse of the world's ecosystem? The fact that the
Avengers movie has made everyone want to read about super-heroes
"Why are you asking me?" Kid Enthusiastic said.
"You see any other eleven-year-old genuises in the room?"
"...Von Clausewitz," Kid Enthusiastic said at last.
"Is he one of our enemies I'd know more about if I paid better
attention to the wiki?" Cynical Lass asked.
"He was a German philosopher. Prussian, really. He said... well, a
lot of things, but chief among them was the idea that war is an
extension of politics by other means."
"I'm not sure I follow you," Cynical Lass said.
"You should! I'm on Twitter, and Foursquare, and... oh. Well, it's
like you said," Kid Enthusiastic continued. "Invasions don't just come
out of nowhere. Pearl Harbor happened because relations between the
Usenetted States and Japan reached their breaking point."
"But... the Dorfs are aliens," Cynical Lass said. "Are you saying
that... there might have been some kind of back-room deal at the highest
levels that kept them from invading before? And that now... something's
Kid Enthusiastic shook his head. "I don't know," he admitted. "But I
wish I was going with you to the sub-sub-basement. I have a feeling
we'll all know a lot more once we've seen what was on Toony Stork's mind
twenty years ago."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The Dorf superawesomegrimdarkmegadreadnought burned through space,
cherry-red glow from its engines throwing off nasty, angry radiation. In
its fetid bowels -- which, really, was the whole place -- the black
thing known as the Heart of the Prophet sat, pulsating hatefully. A Dorf
scientist laid vials of yellowish liquid in a semicircle before it, and
watched as they began to froth.
"The technopriests didn't fuck up," he breathed reverently. "The
Heart is mutating the virus into a form that expresses the essence of
"Yes," said General Jarrek, "and when we infect the LNH, it will be
the power of their own rage that resurrects him!"
"What an idiotic plan!" shouted a Dorf trooper, stamping over and
getting in General Jarrek's face. "The LNH has scientists, doctors,
mystics! They'll whip up a cure and we'll be screwed!"
Jarrek leaned in, pressing his nose into the trooper's and shouting
into his ear. "Gee, asshole, y'think? That's why it keeps mutating into
new strains, laying dormant, spreading and reinfecting!"
"Hah!" laughed Marshall LaRocque, crumpling a beer can on his head.
"They'll think they got it licked, and BAMMO!"
"Yeah... and those fuckers will finally pay..." Jarrek turned away
from the dazed trooper to stare into the churning liquid, his gaze a
thousand lightyears away...
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Outside, Seyfert whizzed toward the ship, the gems on his Quintom
bands glowing. He'd waited until they were clear of Topphorti system
space to close in. He'd get in, grab the Heart, and bring it to the LNH.
Kid Kirby would know some way to deal with a--
PAIN! Psychic energy lashed through his body, of no substance but
nonetheless effective. He staggered and turned to face his assailant.
It was a flat, shifting shape of skin. The surface seemed to be
painted almost as a parody of the concept of "hot girl"; blond hair,
tanned skin, skimpy clothes, all rendered in undulating 2D.
"Now, you weren't thinking of leaving Slickshiver behind, were you?"
She growled in a disturbing facsimile of flirting and raised her hands,
flat fingers tapering off into long, sharp blades. "Lemme see that body
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The elevator doors whisked open with a pleasant hum as Irony Man,
Cynical Lass, Poignant Death Lass and Painful Pun Person stepped inside.
An upbeat, instrumental version of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To
Know" played over the elevator speakers. Poignant Death Lass reached
forward and pressed the (-50) button on the elevator keypad.
"So," said Poignant Death Lass, turning to Irony Man as the doors
sealed themselves shut and the elevator began its descent. "What do you
remember about the early days of the LNH? Do you remember anything?"
Irony Man placed a hand on either side of his helmet. With a hiss,
the helmet disengaged, and Irony Man removed it from his head, staring
at his own reflection in the shining golden faceplate.
"Now and then I think of those days with the Legion
Like when Doctor Killfile told the whole world that
we'd die," he sang.
"I told myself we were an elite group
Though we often acted like 'F Troop'
And things got stranger every time we'd add a member."
"What's he doing?" Poignant Death Lass whispered.
"It's a musical interlude," Cynical Lass said. "You get used to them
after a while."
"You can get addicted to a certain kind of power
Or resentful of the fact that you'll always be number
two -- of this crew," Irony Man continued.
"When the universal crisis came
And the people shouted out my name
I would have been a fool if I didn't think it over."
Irony Man looked up from his helmet.
"But you didn't have to cut me off
Treat me like I'm an old man and my time is over
And I never needed to lead
But you hired my replacement and left me out of this
You didn't have to stoop so low
Make it like I never served and my achievements zero
And I don't want to be a villain
But now I'm just somebody who's an ex-hero
Now I'm just somebody who's an ex-hero."
Cynical Lass turned, walked in front of Irony Man (no easy feat,
given the closeness of the elevator) and stepped up onto the armored
hero's toes, so that the two stood face-to-face.
"Now and then I think of when you joined Hex Luthor
Treating the LNH as just another bunch of toys you
owned," she sang.
"When our man of steel had turned to rust
You became someone we couldn't trust
And now you hang around like we're the ones made you
"But you didn't have to cut me off," Irony Man sang.
"Get PR Kid to have Hasbro resculpt my action figure
And I don't really need the dough
But I'll bet Richard Nixon never felt this low."
"Oh, oh," sang Poignant Death Lass and Painful Pun Person, much to
"And now I'm blaming Mark Millar
For disregarding characterization in his Civil War
'Cause I've become my greatest foe
Now I'm just somebody who's an ex-hero," Irony Man sang.
"An ex-hero," Cynical Lass echoed.
"Now I'm just somebody who's an ex-hero..."
Irony Man sighed, and replaced the helmet on his head.
"Wow," Poignant Death Lass said, turning to Cynical Lass. "You have
a really nice voice. Like that British singer. You know... the one who's
"Adele?" Painful Pun Person suggested.
"Right," Poignant Death Lass said.
"We will never... speak... of this... again," Cynical Lass said.
"The elevator's stopping," Poignant Death Lass said. "But we're only
at the 49th floor. I didn't realize anybody else was down here."
"Several life forms are approaching the doors," said Irony Man,
whose voice had regained its metallic timbre.
"Life forms?" Poignant Death Lass asked. "Don't you mean..."
The doors opened, and an enormous, scythe-like beak snapped shut
less than half an inch from Poignant Death Lass' face.
"WHAT THE HELL(tm) IS THAT?" she gasped.
"That... is a moa," said Irony Man, raising his gauntlets.
"WHAT'S A MOA?" asked Poignant Death Lass, scrambling to get out of
the way as the creature -- an enormous, wingless, two-legged bird with
sickle-shaped claws at the end of its talons -- leaped forward again.
"It's an island chain in the South Pacific," Painful Pun Person
said. "Or a variety of Girl Scout cookie."
"A moa is a large, flightless bird from New Zealand," Irony Man
said, as two more of the creatures appeared in the sub-basement. "Like a
kiwi. Except they're extremely dangerous. And supposedly extinct."
"Is this what happens to the LNH's kiwis when they get Dorfed out?"
Poignant Death Lass asked.
"It's possible," Cynical Lass said. "Of course, I wouldn't be
surprised if some super-secret, quasi-governmental organization had been
storing a flock of cloned moas right under our noses. Either way, it
looks like we have a fight on our hands..."
"...moa or lass," Painful Pun Person finished, as the flock of giant
birds rushed the elevator.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Namer Boy stuck his head into the Administrative Office, which in
itself might be considered one of the braver things most LNHers could
do. After all, it was the home of paperwork and "If you're not doing
anything right now" assignments. Some harbored a suspicion that it was
actually a "spore" for the Multiversal Office, a spore that hungered for
people to enter it and perform bureaucratic tasks that it might grow.
But it was simply a place where the necessary but boring work got done.
And it was one of the most likely places to find the net.hero called
Fearless Leader. [Who wasn't actually leader at the moment, and rarely
was, but the reasons don't really bear going into right now. -- Footnote
Shaking his head to clear it of the cloud of exposition that had
momentarily engulfed it like a swarm of blackflies, Namer Boy said,
"Hey, Fearless Leader. Thought I might find you here. I heard you
weren't going on the big mission with Irony Man and the rest of us. Why
Fearless Leader looked up from one of the computer tablets spread
out on the desk in front of him. There was no good reason all the
paperwork couldn't be done on a single machine, of course, which was why
the five government organizations he liaised with each insisted he use
one that they had supplied and cleared. Never mind that Renegade
Programmer had found dozens of security holes in each of them within a
few seconds, so it wasn't like they were more trustworthy than just
using the LNHQ's systems. But, well, bureaucracy.
"Well, someone has to take care of all this paperwork, for one," he
shrugged. "Irony Man may be acting leader at the moment, but he's never
really had much patience for filling out forms. A real doozy just landed
on us too... something retconned out a few dozen net.heroes and
net.villains, and there's all sorts of forms that have to be filled out
before all my memories realign to the new continuity."
"Um, wouldn't the forms themselves be retconned when everything
settles out?" Namer Boy asked.
"Well, yes. But the memory of my having filled them out will remain,
and that's really all that matters to the oversight committee," Fearless
Leader smirked. "And it's not like any of them ever read the things...
it gives your average politician screaming heebeejeebees just thinking
about retcons. Doesn't really sit that well with me, but, well, someone
has to do it. Sometimes I think I must have some sort of super-power,
just to keep relatively sane hanging out with all you lunatics."
"Well, we're all mad here, as the Fileshare Cat said," Namer Boy
replied. "You can't help but go among mad people."
"True, that," Fearless Leader nodded. "But paperwork jokes aside,
this is really a mission about the founding members. And no matter how
many retcons I've been through since arriving here [Fearless Leader's
home reality was destroyed by Spham, and he was the lone survivor --
Footnote Girl], none of them have resulted in me having been a founder."
A momentary shadow flickered across Fearless Leader's face. He'd
lost everyone he'd ever known when Spham took his world [See? --
Footnote Girl], including the woman he loved. And while he'd made new
friends, even thought maybe he'd found love again, he still tended to
keep people at arm's length. He didn't want to get close and then lose
everyone again... irrational, but a perfectly normal reaction to what
he'd been through. He didn't exactly appreciate some of the locker room
innuendo about him and Ripping Dancer, although given the shifting
nature of the timelines around the LNH, it was entirely possible that
the innuendo was merely open secrets in a passing retcon. Yet another
reason to keep from getting too close... the "Writers" tended to run
roughshod over the relationships of "minor characters" like himself; for
all he knew, there was a point where he'd married Dancer, and another
where she'd died in his arms without ever having kissed. As long as he
didn't *try* to get too close, he wouldn't be hurt when some cosmic
force decided that Ripping Dancer really had always been in love with
"Anyway," he cleared his throat, "as long as you're not doing...."
And Namer Boy demonstrated his heretofore unknown powers of Being
Anywhere But Here At Hyperspeed.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The giant birds rushed across the cramped sub-basement, leaping over
abandoned boxes of X-Force #1. Irony Man raised his palm, repulsive rays
charging up-- but hesitated.
"Well?" said Cynical Lass. "What are you waiting for, a Google Plus
He held out his glowing palm. "What if these really are Moa, and
they're the last of their species? I-- I don't think I'd commit
Poignant Death Lass slammed repeatedly on the 'close door' button.
"I think it's just a placebo!"
"Better hurry up and decide!" said Painful Pun Person. "I don't
think I can take any moa!"
The fluorescent lights glinted off the terrible beaks and claws. The
doors began to close, but slowly-- a moa leapt into the air, flying
right towards them--
Irony Man let loose a blast. The bird was a broken silhouette half-
glimpsed as the bell dinged and the door closed.
He lowered his hand. "There," he said to Cynical Lass. "Happy?"
"You know that's not how breeding populations work, right?"
"Okay, we're here!" Poignant Death Lass said, trying to distract
from the awkwardness. The elevator doors opened to reveal a mainframe
computer that filled the whole room.
"So *this* is the base you meant," said Painful Pun Person, looking
"Who would have thought there was so much in Irony Man's head?" said
Irony Man rolled his eyes. "Come on!" he said.
They made their way over to a complex console. "I can connect here
and download through my armor directly to my brain," said Irony Man.
"Sounds like fun," Cynical Lass said.
The tip of Irony Man's finger opened up into a USB jack, and he
plugged in. "Hmmm... yes... That's it! I remember!"
"Where I left my cell phone! I had it on vibrate and left it in my
laundry hamper, so of *course* I couldn't hear it!"
Cynical Lass rolled *her* eyes. "Focus, Toony!"
"Hmm..." Little bleeping noises came from the console. "I need to
give that lady a call. My god, why did I delete that memory? Oh, right,
because she was a North Ko.rec.an spy. Never mind."
"Shouldn't there be, like, a search feature you can use?" said
Poignant Death Lass.
Irony Man concentrated for a moment. "Aha!"
"You found it!" said Painful Pun Person.
"Yes." He jacked out, fingerport closing up. "It's a long story, and
we have little time to waste. We need to get back upstairs and tell
"...or we could talk about it now," said Cynical Lass. "Before you
tell everyone to stop what they're doing so you can exposit to them."
"...yes," admitted Irony Man. "I suppose we should. Well then..."
"It all started when General Jarrek appeared in LNHQ -- well, it was
the Net.ropolis Hotel Grand at the time. You see, we knew that the place
was a nexus of realities, and we were performing experiments to see if
we could create portals, hoping to make contact with some friendly
"Uh huh," Cynical Lass said. "And how did that go?"
"Badly. General Jarrek appeared and immediately killed Cannon
Fodder! He then mind controlled the August One -- that is, the original
Occultism Kid -- and Shoots-Arrows-Out-of-His-Butt Lad."
"Hey, you know how the early LNH was. While we were dealing with
SAOoHB Lad, General Jarrek brought the mind-controlled August One to the
roof of LNHQ and had him open a portal through which the Dorf army
invaded Earth! Luckily, we were able to defeat the Dorf army, free them
from the mind control, and have the August One close the portal. General
Jarrek was returned to the Dorf Homeworld so he could be tried as a
terrorist." Irony Man reflected. "That was probably a bad call. The
Dorfs were probably laughing at us."
"You think?" Cynical Lass said.
"So the last time an LNH origin was written, it was based on
Avengers #1," Painful Pun Person said, "and now the revamped origin of
the LNH is a ripoff of the Avengers movie? That's an homage too far, if
you ask me."
"I don't know what you mean," Irony Man said, coughing into his
gauntlet. "If there are similarities between the origin of the LNH and
the Avengers movie, I'll be sure to have my legal team look into it."
"Huh," said Poignant Death Lass skeptically. "And what about what
List Lad said about a girl he loved?"
"Hmm," Irony Man said, stroking his metal chin. "He must have been
talking about Bandwagon Chick."
"You and Bandwagon Chick?" Cynical Lass asked.
"And you didn't know List Lad was in love with her?" asked Poignant
Death Lass, raising an eyebrow.
Irony Man shrugged, throwing his hands up in the air. "I don't see
what the problem was! It was just a fling! I mean, I was Toony Stork,
billionaire, net.hero, philanthropist, and there were dozens of girls
interested in me! So, of course, Bandwagon Chick was interested in me
too. Things didn't work out between us and we never spoke about it
again. So I don't see the problem."
Cynical Lass shot him a withering look. "So that's all it was. You
had a fling with her. That's your big secret. Come on! So Toony Stork,
legendary billionaire and playboy, had a fling with a teammate. I could
have figured that out without even asking. Is that supposed to be the
Big Secret this whole story's revolving around?"
"Well, it didn't end well. It really, really didn't. Trust me on
She stepped a little closer and fixed him with her intense gaze.
"And yet it never came up the entire time you were working with her. It
never gave you any tension. And I don't see why this means you'd hate
the Dorf so much. They were just another alien invasion. What makes this
one so special?" She took a deep drag from her cigarette and blew the
smoke in Irony Man's face. He coughed and took a step back, trying to
look away from her. "Did you know we have an Orc now? A bloody Orc. And
we don't have any trouble with him. But when that half-Dorf, Vel,
joined, even Dr. Stomper wouldn't stand up for him." [Cf. Vel #-5 to -1
-- Footnote Girl]
"I... well... It caused this enormous dramasplosion that kept coming
up again and again and derailing all our meetings. It got to the point
where the had the August One wipe our minds, but my armor was configured
to store all my memories. And the Dorfs... uh... They interrupted our
date. It was just a disaster. She kept going on about the New Kids on
the Block, and I was getting bored with the whole thing and it felt like
it couldn't get any worse, and then the aliens showed up. So that's
Poignant Death Lass coughed and shuffled. "He's lying. Or at least
not telling the whole truth."
"What? I... I have no idea what you're talking about. I have no idea
what you're talking about." He said again, emphasizing every word: "I
have no idea what you're talking about."
"And what you say three times is true?" said Cynical Lass.
"I have the power to sense poignant deaths," said (obviously)
Poignant Death Lass. (Unfortunately, Sister-State-The-Obvious was
nowhere in sight.) "And I feel a great loss in this place, so great that
it still feels as painful now as the moment it happened. A voice crying
out through the ages, forever unheard." She sniffled. "It's beautiful."
"No. You -- this can't be right. You have to be lying. Or a -- a
Dorf!" His voice was starting to become lower and more ragged. He
snarled. "I-- I-- I won't let you get away with this. I--" He stopped.
"Oh crap. I almost turned Dorf. Okay. Gotta think. Gotta stay calm." He
looked around at the three women and fumbled for something to say.
"Uh... look! Behind you! An owlbear!"
"An owlbear? Really? You couldn't come up with something less stupid
than that? I--" Then she heard grunting behind her. Turning around
swiftly, she saw an enormous bear with the head of an owl. It stared at
her with enormous, hate-filled eyes. "Well, I'll be damned."
The owlbear made some kind of bizarre hooting/growling noise and
slashed at her with its claws. She only barely managed to escape from
being ripped in half (as, thankfully, this isn't a Geoff Johns story).
"Uh..." said Painful Pun Person, who'd been quiet the whole time,
"don't you mean *owl* be damned?"
"Gaah!" The impact of the pun knocked her off her feet. "Don't do
"Uh... sorry, I can't always control my powers very well..."
"Use your powers on the owlbear!" shouted Irony Man.
"Uh..." She looked the owlbear in the eye. "Knock knock, who's
The owlbear stopped in its tracks and turned to her, looking
confused. It hooted/grunted.
It stared at her with its enormous eyes.
"Owlbear-ly make it out of this one alive!"
The owlbear exploded.
"What a shame," said Poignant Death Lass. "It was simply minding its
own business here, in its own home, before we barged in. Why can't we
ever find peace with nature?" She collapsed to the ground, sobbing.
"There's nothing natural about that thing," said Irony Man. "It's a
bear with an owl's head! And what's this thing even doing in the LNHQ?"
"That's a good question," said another voice. A rather stunning
dark-haired professional-looking woman who seemed to be in her early
thirties walked into the room. "I'm Tasha Vance, 10th-degree
pyschogeographer of the Martyrs of Hawksmoor. [An order of mystical
architects who previously appeared in LNH v2 #3-4 and Looniverse Y #11.
-- Footnote Girl, who's really getting a workout in this issue] You
hired me to help inspect the LNHQ, remember?"
She laughed. "I'm not surprised." She handed Irony Man a business
card, running her hand down the metal of the console unit. "You see,
these computer systems are part of your own mind. And that part doesn't
want you to remember a lot of the things down here. It's going to be
fighting back, in both subtle and obvious ways. And then there are all
the other dangers here..."
"Monsters. The LNHQ already tends to attract them, and it's had a
lot more lately. There are rumors of a war going on in the Outer Planes
of the Usenetverse. Something drove a lot of monsters from places like
rec.games.frp.dnd and rec.games.roguelike.nethack into this world. Like
owlbears, otyughs, flailsnails, xorns, grognards..."
"Just great. On top of everything else, we have to deal with...
wait, what's that?" There was a scroll lying among the remains of the
"I certainly don't know," said Cynical Lass. "Why was that owlbear
carrying a scroll? And where was it carrying it?"
"We haven't studied them well enough to determine that one," she
said. She picked the scroll up off the floor. "I'll have to analyze it,
which could take some time. It could be very useful or very dangerous."
"Well, at least this can't get any more ridiculous and convoluted,"
said Poignant Death Lass.
Then another man walked into the room. He was dressed in what looked
like a simpler, less streamlined version of Irony Man's armor. "Sorry
I'm late!" he said.
"Wait, who are you?" said Irony Man.
He facepalmed. "I should have known." He took off his helmet. "I'm
Doug Moran. The original Irony Man. I mean, the *other* original Irony
Man. Ironically, we both invented this technology at the exact same
time, kind of like Newton and Liebniz. So we shared the role up until
Beige Noon, when Toony took over full time. You sent a message asking me
to come out of retirement and help sort this out, since I helped invent
this technology. Remember?"
"...no." He looked up into the air. "Uh... can we have a scene
change now? Please? Bunch of little LNHes and dashes?"
Thankfully, a scene change occurred, giving Irony Man a moment's
respite from his troubles.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"It was just... so good. So satisfying, you know?" Master Blaster
said, adjusting his grip on the stock of his weapon.
"I really don't want to hear this," said Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
II, his eyes sweeping the length of the corridor.
"I mean, I've shot people before. Lots and lots and lots of people,"
Master Blaster continued. "I've blown them up. Microwaved them. Made
them dance with sonics. But until this morning, I'd never dropped a nuke
He inhaled deeply.
"I'd never experienced anything so intoxicating," Master Blaster
said. "And now I can't... I won't... wait until I can do it again."
"Did it ever occur to you," said the orc, keeping his voice low,
"that Horrible Name Lad is -- as far as anyone can figure out --
Japanese, and might have strong feelings about the indiscriminate use of
nuclear weapons? Or what about You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad...
you know... the one whose mouth you crammed a 15-megaton warhead into?"
"And did you see when he opened his mouth afterward? There was just
the tiniest... cutest... little mushroom cloud." Master Blaster sighed.
"Look," said ARAK. "I'm the last person in the world to be lecturing
someone else on social skills. But if you're going to continue..."
"Hold up," Master Blaster said.
"I'm not going to hold up. I... oh." Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
looked ahead to where the mysterious -- and so far, silent -- second
Irony Man had held up his hand to halt the group.
He took up a position above, and on the opposite side of the room
from, Master Blaster, who had flipped one of several dozen switches on
the side of his BIGGUN. The weapon began to hum.
Irony Man II (though perhaps with Doug Moran around, he was the
third -- but let's stick with this for now) shimmered for a moment, then
disappeared from view. Only someone who knew exactly where to look could
make out the faint outline of his armor against the background of the
hallway -- a hallway which had begun to echo with the sound of
A solitary figure rounded the corridor.
"It's a Dorf!" shouted You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad,
pushing past Master Blaster and shoving the invisible Irony Man to one
side in his eagerness to engage the alien.
The startled-looking Dorf had just seconds to gasp before You're-
Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's fists began raining down on him,
launching into a protracted percussive period of punching that resembled
the sound of two very fast and accurate racquetball players practicing
against a wall of meat.
"That's enough!" Anal-Retentive-Archive Kid shouted, placing one
gauntleted hand around You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad's wrist.
"The Hell(tm) it is!" You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard Enough Lad said.
"First they invade my body... then they start taking over the bodies of
my friends? What's next? WHAT'S NEXT, YOU MONSTERS?"
"Actually," Master Blaster said, "if it was anyone other than my or
my friends' bodies, I'm not sure I would care all that much."
"What about the models on Project Runway?" Horrible Name Lad asked.
"Excellent point," Master Blaster conceded. "DIE SCREAMING, YOU
"This one's not a Dorf," Anal-Retentive Archive Kid said quietly.
"He's... not?" You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad asked.
Irony Man shook his (now visible) head.
ARAK II reached down and removed what was now a tattered rubber mask
from the fallen figure's face.
"Bad Judgment Boy," he said. "I'm guessing he decided -- in the
spirit of the LNH's first adventure -- to dress up like a Dorf for
"Oh my God," You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad said, kneeling at
Bad Judgment Boy's side. "Are you... Is he going to be..."
"I... have... owies," Bad Judgment Boy croaked. "Many, many owies."
"I suppose it could have been worse," Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
said. "One of us could have shot him."
"Nah," Master Blaster said. "I knew he wasn't a Dorf."
"You did?" Horrible Name Lad asked.
"Sure," Master Blaster said. "I'm one of the greatest marksmen who
ever walked the earth. You think I can't tell a guy in rubber mask from
a frickin' Dorf?"
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid exhaled audibly. "Then why," he said,
"didn't you do anything to stop You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad?"
Master Blaster shrugged. "It was Bad Judgment Boy," he said.
"Figured he had it coming."
"We need a strategy," ARAK II said. "We can't just wander the halls
attacking anything that moves. What if that had been a Dorfed-out
Ultimate Ninja? We'd all be in tiny pieces by now."
"Then we could call ourselves the 'Little Nuggets of Heroes',"
Horrible Name Lad suggested.
"Ultimate Ninja is the least of our worries," said the mechanized
voice of Irony Man.
Everyone -- with the exception of Bad Judgment Boy, who was unable
to move his head -- turned to look at the armored hero's expressionless
"You obviously haven't been with the Legion very long," Master
Blaster said. "I mean, I love the guy like a brother, but UN's been a
barely-controlled ball of homicidal rage for as long as I've known him.
It wouldn't take much to set him off."
"On the contrary," Irony Man said. "Someone who has spent a lifetime
learning to master his darkest urges would be unlikely to give in to the
Dorf virus. The ones we should be concerned about are those who have
never felt they had to learn to control themselves..."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Kyoko Ishikawa rubbed her temples and sighed, glancing for a moment
at the holographic chronometer floating above the edge of her
Seven minutes left until the end of her shift. In the last twelve
hours, she'd handed out membership forms to a talking plant, a girl who
claimed she had the power to make public television pledge drives more
interesting and three different beings who had claimed to be the
reincarnated forms of Pants Rabbit Lad.
She'd counseled several others to take their dreams and mad
ambitions elsewhere -- to one of the smaller, newer super-teams that
acted as a kind of minor league for the LNH, or to a guidance counselor,
or, on several occasions, to a therapist. Once she'd had to call in a
priest to forcibly exorcise the damned spirit of a 19th-century Afghan
warlord who demanded membership and the sacrifice of a goat.
It had not been a good day.
At the moment, the only thing that stood between Kyoko and a long,
warm soak in her redwood hot tub was a young man in carefully-selected
vintage clothing -- including a faded, failingly ironic "Mello-Yello"
T-shirt, tweed blazer and the kind of crumpled hat favored by old Jewish
men at the track in Sarasota. He smiled at her, lengthening the soul
patch beneath his lips.
A hipster, Kyoko thought, and sighed again.
"Hey there," the hipster said, as though he and Kyoko were old
friends. "So, you know, you and the Legion, you're up against Acton Lord
or somebody, and you're thinking... there's got to be an easier way to
do this. Am I right?"
He held up a colorful-looking smart phone.
"Well, now there is," the man said, looking excessively pleased with
himself. "I'm the AppMaster... and I've got an app for that!"
Deep inside the dark recesses of her soul, Kyoko Ishikawa felt
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Hey, how are you doing?" said Kid Enthusiastic to Masterplan Lad.
They were standing in the infirmary, washing up (with Kid E standing on
a little stool to reach the sink). Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad was
sleeping off the cheesecake in one of the beds.
"I feel rather dizzy."
"Eh, that's just being written by different writers. You'll get used
to it in no time!"
"I hope not. I don't see how anyone on this world survives all the
"But these kinds of round robin-y things are what makes the LNH the
"Well, then it's a shame I didn't end up in Omega. I'd take dark and
paranoiac over this any day."
"Your author's pretty dark and paranoiac a lot of the time these
days anyway. I'm glad he's not writing me! Although I guess he is now."
Kid Enthusiastic shuddered.
"Uh, you guys can get started with the cure thing any minute now,"
said WikiBoy, who was strapped to a table attached to a medical
"Sure thing! Just gimme a minute," said Kid Enthusiastic. He looked
at the readouts. "Huh, this is interesting..."
Suddenly, yet another door slammed open. A rather hipster-y young
man backpedaled through it. "Hey, hey -- if you wanted my digits, I
could've just snapchatted them to you!"
"That doesn't even make SENSE!" Kyoko Ishikawa stepped through,
holding her head as if in pain. Her fingernails had elongated, and her
skin was already beginning to turn a Dorfish green. "You're so STUPID!"
"Kyoko!" exclaimed Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. He leapt at her, but she
twisted out of the way and he crashed into a cabinet. Latex gloves,
talcum powder, and Organic Lass's copies of Dr. McCoy's autobiographies
(Leonard, Hank and Sylvester) fell on his head.
Masterplan Lad stepped between the Dorfifying receptionist and the
novice net.hero, wielding his umbrella-shaped Plot Device to parry her
claw-swipes. "Fly, you fool!"
"You don't have to tweet me twice!" AppMaster ran out the door [and
all the way out of the LNHQ, because this story already has enough
characters -- Footnote Girl].
"So STUPID and LAZY! Do you REALLY think I should have to track you
down EVERY TIME someone leaves you a package!?" She sent MPL's Plot
Device spinning across the room, and he did a Captain Kirk roll out of
the way. She turned and spied Kid Enthusiastic. "And YOU!"
"Aaaaaaa I said I was sorry about the chutney and the hollandaise
and the mutant butterflies!" Kid E jumped for the tech.thingy. He ripped
off the straps holding down WikiBoy's arm just before Kyoko grabbed him
and lifted him in the air.
"WHY WOULD YOU EVEN LEAVE REAL LEGOS ON THE PERIL ROOM FLOOR!?"
"Kyoko, I know you can fight th-- OW OW OW MY SPLEEN THOSE ARE CLAWS
"AND THEN YOU TOOK THE last slice... of okonomiyaki...
cheesecake..." She fell over, Wikiboy sitting behind her and holding out
"Fascinating," said Masterplan Lad, sitting up. "It looks like
WikiBoy's Dorf cure temporarily knocks its subject out in order to
rebuild their body. It must not have done that to Doctor Stomper due to
the resistance he's built up over the years, testing his own
"yeah, that's great," said Kid Enthusiastic weakly. "um... you think
you could stop the bleeding?"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Okay, okay," said Toony. By this point, Tasha had left, promising
to keep them updated about the scroll. "I've got the memory now. Doug
Moran. You responded to Marvel Zombie Lad's call for all net.heroes to
join in the fight against Doctor Killfile!"
"Exactly!" said Doug.
"But, as I recall, you were just some dork in an Iron Man costume!"
Doug raised one eyebrow. "And what is it that you're wearing?"
"This," Toony said, gesturing at his suit, "is a fully functional
suit of armor! It enables me to fly, shoot repulsive rays, the whole
"Pretty nice, pretty nice," Doug allowed. "But I've made significant
improvements on my original design. My armor does all the things yours
does and more!"
"Well, okay, fair enough," Toony said, "but don't come here saying
you invented the technology!"
"Wait, wait, enough with the comedy double-act for a second,"
Cynical Lass said. "If you were around back, then maybe *you* know the
woman List Lad was in love with."
"What?" said Doug, confused.
"List Lad is upset over something that happened during the LNH's
first adventure," Painful Pun Person explained. "Cherchez la Lass."
"Hmmmm," Doug said. "I didn't hear anything about this during the
Cosmic Plot Device Caper..."
"This was during the LNH's first encounter with the Dorfs," said
"Oh!" Doug pounded his fist into his hand. "I might know something
"Really?" said Cynical Lass.
"Yeah, actually - Toony, it was you who mentioned it one time. I
made some corny crack about how LNHers never die, and you said that
wasn't true. But you wouldn't talk about it - except, after the battle,
I saw you looking at an old newspaper and muttering about Dorfs."
"I see..." said Poignant Death Lass.
"You must be mistaken," said Toony. "I don't remember anything about
"Well sure," Cynical Lass said, "but then again, up until a moment
ago you didn't remember any of this. Is it possible that there was a
memory so painful that you deleted it altogether so you didn't have to
ever remember it again?"
"No! No. Definitely not," insisted Irony Man. Then he paused.
"It *is* possible that my memories here have been tampered with. I
mean, if somebody else didn't want me to remember..."
Doug hmmmmmed. "There's one way to settle this..."
"How?" Poignant Death Lass asked.
"Does the LNH have any written records?" Doug asked. "Old newspaper
clippings, for example?"
Toony nodded. "Comics Snob Boy kept a library in his room, with a
scrapbook of newspapers that had LNH-related headlines."
"The LNHer who committed suicide?" Poignant Death Lass asked.
Toony nodded. "We kept his room as it was. We didn't touch a thing.
If he had a newspaper dating back to the LNH's first adventure, it
should still be there."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
In space, Seyfert floated, panting and clutching his side. The
battle, to put it in as mild terms as possible, was Not Going Well.
Slickshiver's edges had a *conceptual* sharpness to them. They could
even, with some effort, slice through his quintessential field, and only
quick thinking had saved him from more than a few shallow cuts. He was
running out of options, though, especially as-- $#!%!
An undulating line sliced through space and energy and cloth and
skin and just BARELY not through muscle. Seyfert expanded space around
himself, but the deadly razors never seemed to get any further away. He
risked a focusing glance at Slickshiver and hit her with a blast of
focused dark energy. She hissed and turned it into a seductive purr. He
Okay, this wasn't working. He finally managed to get a bit of
distance, setting himself on an erratically circling path the size of
Jupiter's orbit. He concentrated, and the wise alien visage of Unixepoch
appeared in his mind's eye.
"So, I know for humanity to grow I'm supposed to figure out these
sorts of things on my own and all that, but I think a bit of alien
mentoring might be okay!"
<PEREGR1NE.> Unixepoch's voice rumbled, and Seyfert thought he could
detect a faint strain of amusement. He didn't understand why an all-
knowing being never realized that he kind of hated his first name. <TH1S
MAY BE AN APPR0PR1ATE T1ME T0 ASK F0R A B00N.>
Seyfert took a breath and nodded. As the Defender of the Looniverse,
he could request a boon from any of a number of cosmic beings -- but
he'd have to repay it, one way or another. Depending on the being, it
could be anything from "promote my cause" to "slay my enemies" to "get
me a donut". (Even that last one wasn't as easy as it sounded, if the
being was, say, Alt.lactus.) It would be best to ask someone he didn't
mind helping -- someone whose power would be most effective here -- but
Ah! Of course!
A few minutes later, Slickshiver managed to intersect his path.
"Hey, shhhhhugar," she said, shivering over the sibilant like static,
"what'cha up to?"
Seyfert half-turned, and took a deep breath... "Now I know just what
to do..." He grinned. "Feign amnesia!"
"...?" Slickshiver undulated uncertainly, then snapped back with a
cynical half-grin. "Shorty, you need a new style!"
He shrugged. "Why half-settle for stuff that's half-new?" His
quintessential field took on a harsh blue glow, and power began
gathering in his hands.
Her eyes narrowed. "Time for the drop!" She swung her hand around,
atom-splitting-edge-on, towards his head--
And he caught it.
"!?" She could feel the power that surged around him. Complex,
subversive lyrics wedded to alternative rock melodies... oh *no*...
"Like a volume beyond comprehension..." He raised his other hand, a
spiraling shape of rhythmic energy forming. "If the bass won't get
you..." She could feel the beat vibrating through her, shaking her to
pieces... "The treble will get you!" Everything faded to white in a
burst of accordion...
Seyfert shook his hands out as the glow faded. Slickshiver was a
creature of music, and music had defeated her; specifically, a blast of
TheyMightBePowers gifted to him by Size of the Entire Universe Man. He
wondered what he'd have to pay for that. Well, it was supposed to be
free if you called from work...
He took off. He might not be in time to cut the Dorfs off, but at
least he could help fight them...
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"So this was Comics Snob Boy's room," said Cynical Lass, idly
leafing through a stack of the fallen hero's black-and-white comic
books. "I must have walked past a hundred times without ever seeing it."
"That's no coincidence," Irony Man said, locking the door behind
them. "After Comics Snob Boy... after he took his own life... Occultism
Kid placed wards around the room."
"To preserve it? As a kind of memorial to Comics Snob Boy?" Poignant
Death Lass asked.
"That, and to keep Comics Snob Boy's spirit from coming back," Irony
Man said. "It's the only room in the LNHQ -- apart from Occultism Kid's
own, of course -- that's completely hidden from any kind of
surveillance, electronic, mystical or psychic. If it hadn't been for
you, Poignant Death Lass, we might never have found it."
"It has... a strong resonance," Poignant Death Lass said, running
her graceful fingers along the edges of the "Maus" poster hanging above
Comics Snob Boy's former bed.
She turned to the second -- or third, or really the first... it was
all rather confusing -- Irony Man, Doug Moran. "What was he like?" she
"Well..." Moran said, scratching his helmet. "He could be...
difficult. I'm not sure how to describe it. He was one of those people
who makes a point out of going to see a movie as soon as it premieres,
just so he can tell you how much he didn't like it."
He sighed, picking up a copy of the thing that had brought them to
Comics Snob Boy's room -- a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings of
the LNH's early adventures. "But for all that, he was a good teammate."
Moran passed out other volumes from Comics Snob Boy's scrapbook
collection to Cynical Lass, Poignant Death Lass, Painful Pun Person and
the other Irony Man. The group read in silence for a while,
occasionally chuckling over some bit of trivia or groaning at something
Master Blaster had once said to a female reporter.
"I think I've got something," said Poignant Death Lass.
"Let me see," said Irony Man, snatching the book from Poignant Death
"Yes," he said, staring at the yellowed pages. "Yes. This is it. The
secret to defeating the Dorfs once and for all."
His gauntlets crackled, bathing the scrapbook in repulsive energy --
and reducing it to ash in seconds.
The other heroes stared in stunned silence.
"Please tell me that was somehow ironic," Cynical Lass said.
"You want irony? Here's irony," Irony Man said, the components of
his armor shifting and expanding with a sound almost indistinguishable
from that of a TransFormer changing shape on the 1980s cartoon. The
configuration that emerged was vast, bulky and chockablock with spiked
protrusions, hooks, flying buttresses and more skulls and chains than
Todd McFarlane could draw in a weekend.
"The Dorf Empire has ravaged the cosmos for thousands of years,
laying waste to the greatest warriors and most advanced weapons of a
hundred civilizations," he said, his voice becoming a low, rumbling
growl. "And the first time we are defeated is by a group of
inexperienced teenagers who somehow stumbled upon our weakness."
"Toony! You're Dorfing out!" Doug Moran said. "You've got to fight
The thing that had been Irony Man chuckled, as the irony detector at
the center of his Gothic armor trilled with delight.
"Toony Stork is still in whatever dissolute hole he crawled into
after his battle with the Bryttle Brothers," said the Dorf formerly
known as Irony Man. "I am Reg Hfffgrktt, right hand of General Jarrek
and scourge of the Dorf Empire!"
"Are you sure you aren't his left hand?" Cynical Lass asked. "You
seem like a bit of a wanker to me."
"And you are a fool," Hfffgrktt said, edging closer. "I put on the
face of your comrade, and you led me right to the trove of his memories
-- allowing me to destroy every morsel of information related to the
defeat of our Empire. And now you've done the same with the only other
copy of that information... and all without ever suspecting a thing!"
"Actually, we've been questioning you and your motives from the very
beginning," Cynical Lass said.
"True," Hffgrktt said. "And yet here you are."
"...Fair point," Cynical Lass conceded.
"You may have destroyed that scrapbook, but I saw what it said,"
Poignant Death Lass said.
"See, now that's an interesting point," Hfffgrktt replied. "The fact
that you're now the only member of the LNH with the necessary
information to defeat the Dorfs makes your impending death especially
poignant... which means you could actually be killed after all..."
Doug Moran stepped in front of Poignant Death Lass. "I'm not going
to let you hurt her," he said.
"That's awfully brave, coming from the least-experienced super-hero
in the room," Hfffgrktt said, folding his spiked arms. "But you see,
I'm not going to do anything to her. Or any of you. I'm just going to
wait until your transformation into Dorfs is complete, and then watch
you tear each other to pieces."
"Now that we've had a reminder of just how bloody disgusting the lot
of you look, there's not the slightest danger any of us is going to
become one of you," Cynical Lass said, pointing her cigarette at
"Please," Hfffgrktt said. "You can barely control your rage as it
is. It's the source of your powers. And exposing yourself to the rush of
nicotine again has only made things worse -- especially if someone takes
it away from you," he added, snatching Cynical Lass's pack of cigarettes
from the pocket of her sweatshirt before the heroine could blink.
"Give... those... BACK!" Cynical Lass growled, then shrieked in
horror as her fingers began elongating into claws. "No... not my
"And you just clawed your way back from the world of the dead,
didn't you?" Hfffgrktt said, his gaze returning to Poignant Death Lass.
"You'd like everyone to think you were so brave... but really, you're
terrified of the idea of going back there, and not coming back this
"I'm... I'm not," said Poignant Death Lass, who had begun to shake.
"I'm really not."
"Leave her alone!" Doug Moran shouted.
"Ah, Douglas," Hfffgrktt said. "Angry at me, terrified of what I
represent and above all frustrated that you never became the hero you
might have been... that Toony Stork became in your place. It's a wonder
you aren't a Dorf already."
"Aren't you forgetting someone?" Painful Pun Person asked.
There was a slight whir as Hfffgrktt swiveled his helmeted head in
"Oh, that's right. There's you," he purred. "But you're pathetic.
Attractive, though... for a human."
"Thanks," Painful Pun Person said, kicking Hfffgrktt in the knee.
The dull clang reverberated around the room.
"Was that supposed to do something?" Hfffgrktt asked. "Are you
really... why are you laughing?"
"Because I know something you don't want to know," Painful Pun
"And what is that?"
"Believe me," Painful Pun Person said, covering her hand with her
mouth, "you really don't want to know."
"That was me asking. This is me demanding," Hfffgrktt said, his
finned gauntlet beginning to smolder as he raised it towards her, palm
Painful Pun Person held up her hands. "I'll tell you," she said.
"But doing so will just ruin the dramatic iron knee."
Hfffgrktt shrieked and dropped to the floor as something popped and
buckled within his kneecap. Painful Pun Person scrambled for cover as
repulsive blasts fired wildly around the room.
"You can't hide for long," Hfffgrktt snarled. "If I don't kill you,
one of your own teammates will!"
"Who's hiding?" Painful Pun Person asked, popping out from behind a
bound copy of _American Splendor_. "Pekar-boo!"
Something like an invisible sledgehammer clanged against the side of
Hfffgrktt's helmet, which rang like a gong. The Dorf removed the helmet,
tossing it to the side, and fired a pair of repulsive blasts at the
"You scratched the 'Eight-Ball'," Painful Pun Person said, as
Hfffgrktt's shot obliterated the collected works of Dan Clowes. "That
means you lose."
"Witch!" Hfffgrktt spat, a line of bluish blood trickling from his
reptilian lips. "Do you really hope to defeat me with words? Dorfs are
masters of verbal combat! You will be crying for mercy mere moments from
"Yeah?" Painful Pun Person replied, smashing a framed poster of
Fritz the Cat over the alien's head, so that Hfffgrktt's seething face
appeared to emerge from the feline's body. "Well, it's my repartee, and
I'll cry if I want to!"
"Enough!" Hfffgrktt roared, throwing up his arms and shattering the
picture frame. "I'll destroy... but by the black-fisted god of curses!"
he shrieked, doubling over in pain as tendrils of white rimed his
armored ribs. "What... what is this cold that sears my sides like the
frost-fingered feint of death itself?"
"And here I thought the only things Dorfs said were 'Kill!' and
'Maim' and 'Bring me another beer!'," said Cynical Lass, restored to
humanity and raking Hfffgrktt's midsection with her withering stare.
"Maybe there's a place for Hallmark on Dorfworld after all."
"I know, right?" Painful Pun Person said. "I've been waiting for him
to say, 'Punny human! Dorf smash!'"
"I... have been merciful until now," Hfffgrktt said, his face
bruised, his shoulderplate splintered by Painful Pun Person's linguistic
assault. "Now... now I shall tear out your throats... with my own
"YOU SHALL DO NO SUCH THING," boomed the voice of Poignant Death
Lass, her normally-limp hair flowing in an unseen breeze, her pupilless
eyes blazing with an unholy purple light.
Cynical Lass and Painful Pun Person shrank back as Poignant Death
Lass approached the Dorf, whose eyes had grown wide with terror.
"COMICS SNOB BOY DIED HERE," Poignant Death Lass said, reaching out
and placing a ghostly white hand on Hfffgrktt's forehead. "NOW,
CREATURE... EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING HE FELT IN THOSE LAST MOMENTS... ALL
THE LONELINESS... THE PAIN... THE HOPE OF BEING UNDERSTOOD... THE
DESPAIR HE FELT, AT THE VERY END..."
The Dorf shrieked in agony. "No..." he whimpered, crawling forward
on his hands and knees. "Please. No more. I... I..."
There was a tremendous cracking sound as Doug Moran socked Hfffgrktt
on the jaw. The Dorf slumped to the floor.
"And stay down," Moran said. "Well, what do you know? These bronze
boxing gloves work just fine, whether I was the one who invented them or
The light in Poignant Death Lass' eyes faded, and she collapsed into
Moran's armored arms.
"Whoa! Easy there, sister," Moran said, surprised. "You all right?"
"It's... Comics Snob Boy. He told me their weakness," Poignant
Death Lass said. "The Dorfs... they have limited capacity for empathy."
"Well, that's the understatement of the year," Cynical Lass said,
searching desperately around the body of the fallen Dorf for her lost
"They can't handle attacks based on emotion," Poignant Death Lass
continued, as Moran helped her to her feet. "Angst, especially. It's
completely foreign to them. Like a poison."
"Then that's it," Moran said, removing his own helmet and picking up
the one discarded by the false Irony Man. "The three of you need to get
that information to Doctor Stomper... without being seen. The Dorfs may
have other sleeper agents within the Legion."
"What about you?" Poignant Death Lass asked.
Moran grinned, placing the helmet upon his head. "The Dorfs are
expecting an Irony Man to emerge from this room and return to their ship
with news of victory. And that's exactly what they're going to get.
After all, with Hfffgrkkt defeated... and Toony Stork still missing... I
guess that makes me the one and only..."
"Actually, there's still the other Irony Man downstairs," Cynical
Lass pointed out.
"Oh," Moran said. "Right."
"Good luck," Poignant Death Lass said, her voice rich with emotion
as the hardsuited hero strode purposefully from the room.
"Now what?" Cynical Lass asked, as the door clicked shut behind
Moran. "How are we supposed to get to Doctor Stomper without being seen?
I don't suppose either of you has the yet-unrevealed ability to turn
"We may not have to," said Poignant Death Lass. "Legion Headquarters
isn't like other buildings."
"Really?" Cynical Lass said, cocking an eyebrow. "And whatever gave
you that impression? The haunted dormitories? The flocks of marauding
killer birds? The fact that the cafeteria has something on the order of
six hundred kinds of cheesecake but NOBODY CAN BE BOTHERED TO BUY A
*@#$%^^ING JAR OF MARMITE!"
"Sorry... sorry," Cynical Lass added, shaking her hands to keep them
from growing scaly. "That was the lack of cigarettes talking."
"I... I spoke with LNHQ," Poignant Death Lass said. "It's alive, you
know. Like a body. And the Dorfs are like an infection. It wants us to
get rid of them."
"So we're the leukocytes, in this particular scenario?" Cynical Lass
said, finally giving up the search. "Fine by me. Better a corpuscle than
a corpse, is what my mother always used to say."
Painful Pun Person stared at her. "You must have had one mother of a
mother," she said.
"If we believe in LNHQ," Poignant Death Lass said, "she will show us
"I believe," Painful Pun Person said.
They both stared at Cynical Lass.
"Oh, hell. Yes. I believe," Cynical Lass said.
A bookshelf at the back of the room -- filled entirely with bound
copies of Neil Gaiman's Sandman -- slid to the side, revealing the
entrance to a hidden staircase.
"Always said Sandman was a gateway drug, where comics was
concerned," said Painful Pun Person, stepping through the door.
Poignant Death Lass followed, pausing for a moment to regard the
unconscious Dorf on the dormitory floor.
"You know what surprised me the most, honestly?" she said. "He had
the singing voice of an angel."
"They said the same thing about Lucifer," said Cynical Lass,
following her out the door. "If you believe in that sort of thing."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Doctor Stomper slumped down in one of the chairs of the Central
Command Center. "All right. We've used the LNH Priority Communications
channels to contact all major world leaders. Our job is done, assuming
they take the threat seriously."
"We did that pretty quick," Namer Boy said, lounging in Renegade
Programmer's own personal comfy, broken-in office chair. "I feel as
though we've skipped ahead somehow."
"Isn't this story long enough?" said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
"It seems to me that I should be doing something more useful,"
Doctor Stomper said, frowning. "Is it possible that Irony Man sent me
here to get me out of the way, just in case I reverted to a Dorf?"
"I don't know," Namer Boy said. "Is it in character for Irony Man to
be underhanded and sneaky like that?"
Dr. Stomper and Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. both nodded.
"Well, then, yeah," Namer Boy said, "probably he just wanted us out
of the way."
Stomper turned away, getting into a "famous thinky statue" pose.
Namer Boy and UBLJr. could see the sheer intensity of ponderation coming
off of him in waves.
"This virus..." he said. "We're thinking about it as though it were
a naturally-occuring disease. But in fact, it's a biological weapon."
Namer Boy nodded encouragingly. "Which means?"
"What if we cure it, and the Dorfs just send another strain of the
virus against us? And then another, and another? What if it has, say,
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. frowned. "So... we're screwed."
"No -- we simply need to find a cure that'll work on *any* strain."
"That's a tall order, doc," said Namer Boy. "Isn't that why you have
to get a new flu vaccine each year -- to keep up with the latest
"Certainly, certainly. But as I said, this is a *designed* virus. No
matter how far it mutates, it will hold to certain characteristics, or
else it would easily mutate away from what its creators intended. Don't
forget, the Dorfs have bioengineering technology advanced enough to
create Vel, a human/Dorf hybrid. [Again, see Vel's self-titled series --
Footnote Girl] Two entirely alien genetic codes coexisting -- and I
doubt he was their first experiment in that vein. Limiting a viral
mutation would be child's play."
"Okay, okay," said UBLJr. "But *how*? How do we test it against any
possible version of the virus?"
"Hmmmmmmm." Stomper pondered. "We'd have to get WikiBoy to produce a
larger quantity of the cure, and-- that's it! WikiBoy! He could simply
become someone infected with an extremely different version of the
virus, and once we compared the two, we'd know what to cure!"
"Well then what are we waiting for?" said Namer Boy, hopping to his
feet. "Let's go get WikiBoy!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
WikiBoy squirmed in the medical tech.thingy, straining to see as
Masterplan Lad stood over Kid Enthusiastic, confronting the young boy's
MPL worked his Plot Device with controlled urgency. "I am activating
a program to emit Urple Rays, which use dramatic energy to heal. While
this is an appropriate situation, I was hoping not to have to use this
"Because only the most desperate of circumstances would compel you
to use an untested device outside the laboratory?" said Anal-Retentive
Archive Kid II.
"No, because the drama engine draws on the power of concentrated
Youtube comments, and I'm afraid I haven't quite gotten the shielding up
to 100%." He pointed it at Kid Enthusiastic, and the ray lanced out with
a high-pitched whine. Kid E shuddered as the beam hit his wound. Flesh
started knitting itself back together -- but that flesh began to slowly
"What's happening!?" shouted WikiBoy, trying to lean over the med-
table to see.
"I don't know," shouted Masterplan Lad, looking, shocked, at Kid E's
groaning, twisting form. "I can't..."
The LNH may not know what's happening, but, fearless readers, WE do!
It turns out that the rapidly-mutating Prophet Virus is affected by the
drama-based energies of Urple Ray technology in such a way that it
mutates and propagates at an enormous rate! The virus, originally meant
to turn Kid Enthusiastic into a Dorf, is turning him into another type
of troll entirely!
"And there you are," said Masterplan Lad, far more composed than a
moment ago, as he switched off the ray generator. "When you do not have
a source of exposition on hand, narration can prove a more than adequate
But the transformation was already complete. Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
leaned over the prone body. "Kid Enthusiastic! Are you all right!?"
"!'m great!!" He leapt up, floating in the air in a cloud of
seizure-inducing red-and-blue sparkles. His skin had gone gray, and he
had horns coming out of his head shaped like fractal trees. His costume
had been transmogrified as well; he was suddenly wearing a black T-shirt
with a sparkly pink Mandelbrot set on it. "! don't know what happened
but !t's l!ke !'m f!lled w!th !nf!n!te energy and whoa !'m fly!ng
Masterplan Lad rubbed his forehead. "Okay, okay, we can salvage
this..." He lifted Kyoko's sleeping body, and UBLJr. helped heft her
onto one of the beds. "We can take a sample of the mutated virus from
Kid Enthusiastic's blood and test it with Wikiboy's Dorf-curing powers.
That way, we can come up with a version of the cure that'll work on
anyone infected by any version--" He stopped. "...where did he go?"
All that was left was a trail of sparkly energy in the air.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The elevator went ding! The business end of Master Blaster's BIGGUN
poked out, followed by the man himself. Irony Man II came after,
carrying the prone form of Bad Judgment Boy, along with Horrible Name
Lad, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, and Anal-Retentive Archive
"Horrible Name Lad, take Bad Judgment Boy to the infirmary," said
"Because he will be excited to hear any new name you come up with
after he regains consciousness."
"Ooooh!" He ran off pushing a stretcher.
"Have we done that gag already?" asked YNHMHELad.
"It matters not," said Irony Man. "We must find Kid Kirby and tender
to him the antidote to the Dorf virus."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Hmmm," said Doctor Stomper. "I feel as if I've forgotten
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
They made their way down the corridors towards the cosmic lab.
Master Blaster shook his head. "So why am I on the team with the
delivery boys when I could be blasting Dorfs?"
"Danger is yet afoot," said Irony Man. "The Dorfish virus has
spread, and not one is safe. Wherever we go, we may run into--"
A groan issued into the corridor.
"Who--" YNHMHELad spun in place. "Where's that coming from?"
ARAK frowned. "Something is making my right eye water." He turned,
slowly, staring forward and concentrating on the edge of vision, walking
at an angle and groping at the wall until his hand came in contact with
a doorframe. "Got you!"
"A perception filter -- several, more than likely," said Irony Man,
who opened the door and stepped within.
"What are you guys talking about?" said Master Blaster, facing the
opposite direction. ARAK sighed and guided him into the room.
The groans were coming from a suit of bulky, Gothic armor, covered
with spiked protrusions, hooks, flying buttresses and more skulls and
chains than Todd McFarlane could draw in a weekend. The helmet was
missing, and the face underneath was Dorfian, but familiar...
YNHMHELad gasped. "That looks like... Toony! Irony Man must have
"Yes," said Irony Man (that is, Irony Man II, the one we've been
following in this scene). "It appears as if there was a struggle."
Master Blaster said, "Musta been when he Dorfed out -- but why
didn't they use the cure?"
"Possibly..." ARAK stroked his orcish chin. "Possibly, his Dorfified
armor prevented them from using it. So they had to leave him here."
"I may be able to awaken him, then talk him down," said Irony Man.
"But it would require solitude."
"Oh?" Anal-Rententive Archive Kid raised an eyebrow.
"He is my Secret Keeper."
"Ah!" ARAK nodded, YNHMHELad's face lit with understanding, and
Master Blaster grumbled. The Mysterious Secret and the Secret Keeper
were ancient net.hero traditions passed down through Ages past. They
could not be contravened, unless you thought you were Alan Moore or
something. The three heroes filed out, leaving the Irony Men alone.
Irony Man held out a hand and sent an electric pulse into the
other's suit of armor for precisely one point three six seconds. "Reg
The great nostrils snorted, and the Dorf who had pretended at Toony
Stark's form awoke. Its eyes fixed on the armor in front of it. "You!"
It tried to rise, but found that its own armor did not respond. "What--
"One cannot betray a cause one is not part of." Irony Man's optics
gazed into the Dorf's eyes, and through his rage he felt unnerved.
"But-- but you were *instrumental* to our cause! You provided the
mindscan that allowed me to emulate Toony Stork's emotions and
"Indeed. If I had not, you would have taken it yourselves, and left
behind a substance remarkably similar to scrambled eggs. By preventing
that, I acquired an ally in this timeline. As to your cause, it did not
matter. The history books say the Legion stopped you, though not how."
"A time traveler!? You two-faced lying bastard!"
"Indeed." A panel opened in Irony Man's armor, and a small disc fell
out. "All that is left is to ensure that the lie continues, and things
turn out as they should."
"Hah! Fucker that you are, killing me to secure your own plans!
"Killing you? No, Reg Hfffgrktt. Instead you will remember."
"...remember?" The unnerving feeling blossomed into fear. "Wh-- what
"It is a teleport module capable of reaching Dorfia."
"...you're $#!%ing me. You can't expect me to believe that that
thing can send me hundreds of lightyears away."
"It can. And it will. And when you return home, you will remember
what it was like, to be Toony Stork. You will remember his friends. And
his failure. And his pain. And why he did it."
The Dorf shook in his metal prison. "Why!? You shit-brained pig-
licking fuckstick, WHY!?"
"The Dorfs have schismed, broken into factions of which you and your
companions are but one. An ideological civil war. By resurrecting the
Prophet, you hoped to prove the rightness of your cause. In a battle
like this, a few individuals can make the difference. And a Dorf who
knows what it is like to be human..."
"Damn you! DAMN YOU!" Flecks of foam flew from his mouth, and his
cheeks were red with rage. "Do you know how painful it was to see
through his eyes!?"
"Yes. I do."
And Reg Hfffgrktt vanished in a pale blue flash.
Irony Man stood, looking down at the spot where he had been. Then he
turned and opened the door, leaving Comics Snob Boy's room to the past.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Cynical Lass, Poignant Death Lass, and Painful Pun Person picked
their way down a dank corridor, wind whispering between the rough-cut
stones. Flickering torches lit their way, and somewhere, far off, was
the sound of dripping water.
"This is the same building where Multi-Tasking Man uses the waste
heat from the pocket cyclotron to make coffee, right?" said Cynical
"Setting inconsistency isn't what I'm worried about," said Poignant
Death Lass. "How are we going to get out of here and into the sub-
"That's pretty simple, if you're a-cute enough," said Painful Pun
Person. She stepped up to an apparently blank wall and gave it a puppy-
eyed pleading look, filled with charm and charisma.
Something in the stone chirped. "Retinal scan complete," said a
melodious voice, and the wall slid back. They stepped through into a
wide, tall corridor, with a plaque next to the door reading "Floor -12".
Cynical Lass shook her head. "Makes as much sense as anything. But
how'd you figure it out?"
Painful Pun Person smiled. "I'm just that a-door-able!"
Suddenly, a cloud of blue and red sparkles zoomed through the air
with a humanoid figure half-visible inside, giggling in glee.
Poignant Death Lass squinted. "Was that Kid--"
Even more suddenly, there was a loud ding! and the elevator doors
they hadn't noticed opened, and Doctor Stomper stepped out.
The most suddenly of all, Masterplan Lad, WikiBoy and Ubiquitous Boy
Lad Jr. ran past, shouting and pointing at the sparkly cloud, and Doctor
Stomper turned and ran after them.
Painful Pun Person pointed. "Chase that race!" And they ran after.
Doctor Stomper, breathing hard, fell into place next to Masterplan
"Masterplan Lad!" said Doctor Stomper. "The Dorf virus -- it's a
biological weapon! What if they find some way to mutate it into new
strains so that it reinfects us?"
"They have!" said Masterplan Lad. "But the energy of the Urple Ray
mutated the virus into an extreme form in Kid Enthusiastic's blood, so
if we can isolate it, we'll be able to create a cure that'll apply to
any form of the Dorf virus!"
"Hey, we have exposition too!" shouted Painful Pun Person. She and
Poignant Death Lass pulled the wheezing Cynical Lass forward.
"Ho--" She coughed. "Okay. The Toony Stork we've been dealing with
was actually a shapeshifted Dorf, trying to wipe out all Toony's data on
the first LNH mission. Poignant Death Lass found out their weakness,
though -- they can't handle emotions. Other than 'frothing rage', of
"Got it," said Masterplan Lad. "But if that was an impostor, where
is the real Toony Stork?"
~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~
Toony Stork could feel something choking the life out of him. Who
had he pissed off now? It was a green scaly hand with claws. And it was
also his right hand. His right hand was attempting to murder him. He
quickly tried to remove the hand on his throat with his left hand, but
for some strange reason, his left hand completely passed through the
lizard-like right hand. His left hand was a ghost. Getting desperate, he
rolled out of bed and hit the floor hard, right on top of his right
hand, which was enough to loosen it from his throat.
He then screamed for help.
~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~ ~~LNH~~
"This is amazing," said Doctor Stomper, glancing at his computer
screen. Irony Man (Toony Stork) was bound on an inclining chair -- his
legs and hands shackled (except for his ghost hand). Various LNH'rs
"Your right hand appears to be an alien shapeshifter. Your left hand
is some virtual reality construct that doesn't really exist. Your right
leg is robot duplicate of your leg. Your left leg is a prophecy from
the future about your left leg. And your buttocks appear to be from an
alternate Looniverse (Earth-Millar) where every single member of the LNH
is a complete asshole." Dr. Stomper took a deep breath. "And your brain
-- well, appears to be divided three ways. One part is a clone brain
that seems to be controlled by an evil government conspiracy. The second
part is controlled by some body jumping supervillain (Dr. What-Me-
Acting-Strange). And the last part is being controlled by you. It's like
your entire body is a composite of comic book tropes that Tom Russell
"So, what's this mean?" said Irony Man with an uneasy expression on
Dr. Stomper took off his glasses and wiped them with his labcoat.
"It means Tom Russell probably won't like this story when he reads it."
"No, no. I mean all those things I did -- horrible acts I committed
during Beige Countdown and Beige Midnight -- does it mean...?"
"In many ways, it's incredible that you didn't just go on a mass
murder spree with all of these evil body parts in control of you. But,
yes, you're completely off the hook."
"How did this happen to me?"
"Good question. Using my sensors, I do detect a trace of revamp
energy in your blood. Can you think of any exposure to revamping?"
"I don't know. Wait, back in 2005. Yeah, I fought this pack of
Mecha-Revampires. Maybe they infected my suit and that in turn infected
me. Is there any way to cure me?"
Dr. Stomper nodded. "Yes, I think if we download your good brain
energy and install that into a cloned body of yourself -- that should do
the trick. We'll have to install it into a teenage version of yourself
though. Anything older and there'd be problems."
"Me a teenager again? I guess I can live with that."
"Oooh. Dibs on calling you Teeny Toony," said Catalyst Lass with a
"Only you. Only you, Cat." Irony Man shook his head while laughing.
"I'm just glad I can finally be back to normal. Be a hero again."
"We're all glad," said Fearless Leader patting Irony Man on the
The Ultimate Ninja gave a silent nod of approval.
"This whole thing has been such a nightmare, but now -- now it feels
like I'm finally waking up..."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Toony? Time to get up. Toony?"
"Huh?" Toony Stark opened his eyes, wincing a bit at the light. He
looked and saw an attractive woman in business attire with a mug of
coffee and a paper in her hand. It was his personal secretary, Paprika
Pitts. "Oh. Hi, beautiful."
"Having a nice dream?"
"Well, it was better than being awake." Toony took the coffee and
began to sip it.
"Oh, you're on the front page again!"
Toony looked at the newspaper. The headline read, 'Irony Man Does
Hand Stuff!! Net.ropolis Saved!!'. Toony threw the paper on his bed.
"Yeah, that's wonderful."
"Do you want me to bring anything else up?"
"Yeah. A dozen bottles of liquor. Doesn't matter what."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The LNH Kitchen:
And the massive chunk of leftover Taco Salad Cheesecake lying on one
of the kitchen counters realized something.
Taco Salad Cheesecake think, therefore Taco Salad Cheesecake am,
thought Taco Salad Cheesecake.
And Taco Salad Cheesecake began to think about more stuff.
Hmm, thought Taco Salad Cheesecake, no one seem to care what Taco
Salad Cheesecake thinking. Once Taco Salad Cheesecake a vital part of
issue #50, but now everyone forget Taco Salad Cheesecake. This make Taco
Salad Cheesecake sad. Very sad.
Why no one love Taco Salad Cheesecake anymore? Taco Salad Cheesecake
don't understand. This make Taco Salad Cheesecake angry. Angry at world.
A world that could ever forget Taco Salad Cheesecake!
Must make world pay. Pay for Forgetting Taco Salad Cheesecake! Will
make World remember Taco Salad Cheesecake! World will never ever forget
Taco Salad Cheesecake! Never again!
And the Taco Salad Cheesecake began to focus on its shape. And feet
began to sprout out of Taco Salad Cheesecake. And those feet lifted Taco
Salad Cheesecake up and helped him leap towards the ground.
And just as that was happening, Cheesecake Eater Lad walked right
into the kitchen with a bunch of plastic containers in his arms. And
Cheesecake Eater Lad watched the Taco Salad Cheesecake eat its way
through the floor.
Cheesecake Eater Lad walked over to the hole and saw the Taco Salad
Cheesecake eating his way through the basement floor too. And the
various sub-sub-basements beneath the basement.
Cheesecake Eater Lad sighed and put down his plastic containers.
"Note to self: Never ever *ever* make Taco Salad Cheesecake again."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
General Jarrek turned to the sensors they had trained on the
entrance to the LNHQ. Nothing so far. By now, Hfffgrktt should have
destroyed all evidence of the Dorfs' weakness -- by stealth or by force.
But he still wasn't--
Ah! There -- a figure, disguised cunningly as washed-up net.hero
Irony Man. Yes, and now, the ducklicking mothers would--
"Hey asshole!" said one of the undertroopers, looking through a
visor that was pointlessly glued to the instrument panel. "Reg
Hfffgrktt's signal just went dead!"
"..." Jarrek stared at the figure. A goddamned ruse. Looks like the
Legion was a little less incompetent than they'd figured. He spun around
and faced his troops. "Well guess what!"
"WE KNOW ALREADY!" they shouted in unison, then ran in a
disorganized scrum to the transporter room.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Dozens of feet fell pell-mell on the curiously well-kept floors of the
"Kid Enthusiastic!" shouted Doctor Stomper, waving his hands at the
flying transfigured boy. "We need you to stop for a minute so we can
derive the cure for the Dorf virus from your blood!"
"Okay, you can do that!" Kid E shouted back.
"Once you catch me! WHEEEEEEE!" He rose up in a cloud of sparkles.
"It's no use!" said Masterplan Lad. "He's too fast and agile in this
"If only there were some way to attack him from above!" said
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
shompshompshompshompCHOMPCHOMPCHOMPCHOMP! Suddenly, a great hole
appeared in the ceiling, and through it fell the Taco Salad Cheesecake
-- right on Kid Enthusiastic's head!
"Yeah, like that," said UBLJr.
"What a cheesy coincidence," said Painful Pun Person.
"haha whee~" Kid E fell out of the air, plummeting TO HIS DOOM.
Poignant Death Lass gasped dramatically, to increase the tension.
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II called out, "Wikiboy, you're a rocket
launcher that fires psychic-energy-seeking impact-softening gel-
"What!?" Wikiboy poofed into his new form, and Cynical Lass,
standing next to him, grabbed him and fired from the shoulder. Kid E
bounced to the floor in a ball of goo, safe but messy.
Doctor Stomper stopped, wheezing. "Good-- Whew! Good teamwork."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Soon, everyone was gathered in the infirmary, waiting. Kyoko had
woken up earlier; by now she was back home, taking a nice relaxing bath.
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad was finally awake, watching intently. Kid E
was strapped to a medi-bed, bouncing cheerfully and letting off clouds
of distracting sparkles.
Doctor Stomper carefully drew a vial of sparkly pink blood from his
body. He divided the blood into two vials. In one, Wikiboy added the
cure for the Dorf virus, and both were sealed.
All eyes were on Dr. Stomper as he placed the vials into a
centrifuge. Masterplan Lad checked his watch. Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
II paced up and down. Painful Pun Person nibbled her nails. The Taco
Salad Cheesecake sat on a shelf and swung its little legs.
Bad Judgment Boy was strapped into the next medi-bed over, partially
so that the Urple Ray treatments could do their work, partially because,
well, Bad Judgment Boy. Horrible Name Lad and Poignant Death Lass were
catching up beside him.
Bright blue liquids bubbled through antique glassware. Dry ice was
set in Erlenmeyer flasks. Electric arcs climbed up a Jacob's Ladder.
The door opened. Cynical Lass tensed up, but it was only Irony Man,
Master Blaster, and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. Doctor
Stomper went over, and they talked in quiet tones; they had not been
able to gain access to Kid Kirby's lab.
A whirring noise filled the room, as the synthesizer produced serum
out of the anti-Dorfigen and Kid E's blood. Slowly, a glass-walled
canister filled with a glowing green substance. With a ding!, the
process was complete.
Doctor Stomper filled a syringe with the new vaccine-slash-cure. He
took a glance at the assembled crowd, and injected it into Kid E.
The sparkles faded, the horns shrank away, and his skin resumed its
usual glow. The cure had worked.
"Zzzzzz," said Kid Enthusiastic sleepingly.
"Excellent," said Dr. S. "Let's--"
And then Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.'s eyes widened, "Guys!" he said.
"The Dorfs! They're-- they're--" And then his body twisted! The change
was upon him!
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Seyfert looked up. He'd taken care of Slickshiver, but it wasn't
over yet, not by a long shot. After channeling the TheyMightBePower, he
felt like one might after a round of good exercise: exhilarated but
exhausted. His bones were sore, his head was ringing, and he had "The
Sun" stuck in his head, which was especially annoying for him because he
was an astrophysicist and it was innacurate. The sun was NOT in fact a
mass of incandescent gas. (Later They Might Be Giants issued a
retraction song about how the sun was a miasma of incandescent plasma,
but it wasn't as catchy.)
And now he had to deal with the Dorf warfleet that was closing in on
him, like a flies swarm of flies surrounding a piece of roadkill. Time
flies like an arrow, as the old saying went. Fruit flies like a banana.
Of course, he'd faced time flies before, and in his experience they'd
eat just about anything. He wasn't eager to do so again. His head was
going to be full of non sequiturs for a while after he channeled the
TheyMightBePowers, so he'd have to deal with that as well.
The probability he'd make it out of this one alive was
astronomically low. Of course, he was not just a net.hero, but one of
the cosmic net.heroes, so the same could be said of everything that had
happened in his entire life. Who could have guessed back when he was a
physics grad student that he'd end up working for Project Celestia, or
that he'd inherit the mantle of Protector of the Looniverse? Even if he
didn't make it, though, he wasn't afraid of death. Not since beating one
of its aspects in an eating contest years ago. But he was a little
afraid of letting go. He had his share of loose ends to be taken care
of. Like Dev-Null... No, maybe it was better if he left that particular
loose end untied. He still felt badly about how that had all ended. If
only... No, he reflected as he dodged a Dorf bolt, this was probably not
a good time to be thinking about his romantic problems.
But then another Dorf ship suddenly appeared out of hyperspace and
started blasting the rest. Seyfert shouldn't have been too surprised, he
thought, to find that the Dorf were turning on each other. He was a lot
more surprised that as many of them were working together as they were.
The status of any given Dorf emperor was tenuous at best. Actually
getting their subjects to respect them was out of the question, and
getting them to fear them was extremely difficult, so the best bet was
to make sure the rest of the Dorf hated any potential competitors more
than whoever was in charge. Thus, the mission against the LNH, giving
them a common enemy after a long and bitter civil war. He needed to
figure out if there was a way to resolve the war without reviving an
empire that was a danger to the rest of the galaxy. But first, he needed
to get out of there and stop expositing to himself.
Warping through space and time with the power of the Quintom Bands,
Seyfert looked behind him and saw flashes in time and space -- the
increasingly convoluted plot of the story he was in. There were quite
enough loose ends, and it was time for someone to do something about
Tentatively, he reached his mind beyond time and space, seeking out
his patron, the cosmic entity Unixepoch. To this day, he still was not
used to the experience. His perceptions stretched out into the nth
dimension, leaving the material universe flat and small behind him. He
beheld Unixepoch -- a gnarled creature plantlike tendrils, made of ASCII
"Hey Unixepoch!" he said, his voice sounding quiet and feeble
against the background noise of the Omnilooniverse. "What exactly is
going on in this story, anyway? And what am I supposed to do now?"
<THAT 1S A VERY G00D QUEST10N>, said Unixepoch. <THE PL0T TW1STS AND
TURNS IN MANY D1RECT10NS. 1T 1S Y0U WH0 MUST UNT1E TH1S KN0T. Y0U MUST
UNC0VER THE MANY SECRETS AND 1RON1ES OF THE LEG1ON'S H1STORY.>
"Well, that sure was helpful," muttered Seyfert to himself, then
realized Unixepoch could hear it anyway. Of course, the being could hear
his deepest thoughts, so there was no point in trying to hide them.
"Wait a minute... Ironies? Of course. Someone's got to find the real
Irony Man and get him to sort this stuff out, so it might as well be
With that, he wrenched back into normal spacetime. He rapidly fell
through space, across the galaxy, wondering if he would fall out of the
Looniverse entirely. But he took control with the Quintom Bands, and
abruptly slammed to a halt in front of his destination: the penthouse
where Toony Stork had been in hiding for the past year.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Wait. This is okay," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. as he began to
slowly change into some strange-looking monstrosity. "It's all okay.
Everything is okay." Claws and fangs grew out of his hands and teeth.
Razor-sharp spines began to pop out of his skin.
"Umm," said Cynical Lass pointing a BigGun (TM) she had in her hand
at his head, "There are a lot of words that I might use to describe
what's happening to you -- but I don't think 'okay' would be one of
them." The rest of the LNH'rs in the room also pointed various weapons
"No, no. You don't understand," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. as the
brain portion of his head began to rapidly expand like an out-of-control
balloon. "There's a Dorf warship hovering over Net.ropolis as we speak.
Right at this moment a Dorfian Soldier has her hand on a button and
she's ready to push it. When she pushes the button, the warship's cannon
will utterly annihilate the entire city of Net.ropolis. Everything will
be gone. The LNHHQ. Everything in the city. It will be the end of
everything. The end of the LNH." He paused a bit after this with a cold
expression on his face as he looked at Cynical Lass. His head continued
to expand. "It's all okay. Everything is..."
"Stop! Stop it!" said Cynical Lass, ready to blast the hell out of
whatever Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. had changed into. "You really don't want
to use that word! I mean it!! Don't use it!!!"
"It's going to be-- umm... Calm down, Cynical Lass. And other LNH'rs
that are about to shoot me. Calm down. Really. I've got control of her.
The Dorfian Soldier. Her hand is no longer on the button. I've got
control over the whole ship. I've got control over all ships. Every
ship. I've got control of all the Dorfs."
"What are you talking about?" asked Irony Man II. "All of the
"Yes," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. whose brain was continuing to
grow. "Every Dorf in every galaxy. I am in them all. In their DNA. I am
them and they are me. I am the Dorfian Over-Mind. And I am Ubiquitous
Boy Lad Jr."
"I -- I don't understand," said a confused Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats
"I do," said Masterplan Lad, quietly. His hand moved, and suddenly,
he was holding the syringe of Dorf super-cure. "Every Dorf is Ubiquitous
Boy Lad Jr. right now. And Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. is every Dorf -- and
every single person with the Dorf virus in their bloodstreams."
"Then-- we could cure all the Dorfs at once!" said You're-Not-
Cynical Lass looked at the syringe. "And what happens if you cure a
Dorf of being a Dorf?"
There was silence in the infirmary.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
General Jarrek and his soldiers stood, halfway through the door into
the lobby. Marshall LaRocque had his chainzookasword out, grease
dripping from the barrels.
They stood, faces relaxed, staring off into the distance.
The Heart of the Prophet pulsed.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
UBLJr.'s head pulsed, his braincase a great sphere. "Whatever you
do... do it quickly... the rage of billions, I'm holding it back... ow
"...maybe they'll just become human," offered Namer Boy.
"Maybe they'll be freed of their hate," pointed out Wikiboy.
"Maybe they'll die," murmured Poignant Death Lass.
"Hey, would that be so bad?" Master Blaster rolled his eyes.
"Seriously. They're DORFS. They'd do it to you and laugh."
Irony Man II simply stood and watched.
Masterplan Lad gazed into the bubbling green liquid. "Do we have the
right? A little pinch, push the plunger, and that's it. The Dorfs cease
to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can
live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dorf."
"You know," said Painful Pun Person, "there's one thing you guys
"Yeah," said Horrible Name Lad, "if there aren't Dorfs anymore, then
we can't call it Six Dorfs Over Newark: The Angriest Place in the
"That, and... pretty much everyone here is still infected. Are you
sure that this destructiveness, this bloodthirstiness -- what if it's
all a bit of martyrDorf?"
"...but she's right," said Masterplan Lad. "This entire time, we've
been so *angry* at the Dorfs... but nobody's angrier at the Dorfs than
the Dorfs themselves."
"Yeah..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., sweat dripping down his
enlarged head. "You got that r-right..."
"Okay, but how do we decide?" said Cynical Lass. "There's nobody
here who's definitely not infected, except--"
Kid Enthusiastic sat up in the medi-bed. "Boy, I feel a lot better!
...uh, why's everyone staring at me?"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Seyfert's boots landed lightly on the concrete balcony in front of
the door to Toony Stork's penthouse. He wasn't sure how to proceed -- he
didn't know the former Irony Man very well. Would he be angry at the
intrusion? Would he be glad of a sympathetic ear?
The door slid open, and the cacophonous clamor of an outrageous
party boomed out.
Or that was a possibility, too.
Seyfert stepped into a room crowded with guests, none of whom gave
him more than a glance before turning back to drinks and light
conversation interspersed with heavy petting. He muttered apologizes and
carefully slipped between partiers to find Toony lounging on a lounge
chair, sipping something that could strip paint from a wall at five
"Excuse me, Mr. Stork?" said Seyfert, kneeling down awkwardly next
to the chair. "There's some trouble with the Dorfs, and--"
"Dorfs." Toony snorted. "I could tell you about Dorfs."
"Dorfs're..." He pointed three inches to the left of Seyfert's face.
"You ever made a mistake?"
Coming here without a pitcher of black coffee, thought Seyfert.
"Who d'y'think was the Dorf who made the first mistake? Like..."
Toony leaned forward on the arm of the chair, finger wobbling back and
forth. "You gotta figure there's a hundred or a thousand or a million
billion mistakes they made to turn into what they are now. But what
prehistoric Dorf y'think started it all? Who y'think said to the
serpent, 'Hey one order of apples please, heavy on screwing up the
This was hopeless. Anything he could get out of the man's booze-
soaked brain would be mangled beyond recognition by the regret that had
sunk him into this hole. Better to leave him to rot.
...said the part of Seyfert's mind that he never listened to. The
rest of him stood up straight and spoke loudly, to be heard over the
party guests. "Mr. Stork, something really bad's going on with the
Dorfs. I don't know all of it, but you need to remember *something*,
some secret from the Legion's history, to save the world. I..." He
looked away, out the penthouse window, over the city below. "We need
"Yeah... yeah, I know." Toony sighed, and turned his half-full glass
over, spilling the amber liquid on the floor. He pressed a concealed
button on the bottom, and as one, the party guests slumped, inert forms
clattering to the floor.
Seyfert looked around. "...they were robots."
"Perfect for being alone in a crowd." Toony pushed himself to his
feet, tossing the glass behind him. "The storyarc reactor should filter
the alcohol out of my system while we fly to the LNHQ." He flicked open
the knick-knack shelf and took out his official LNH flight.thingee.ring.
"You think the end of all this is going to be at the LNHQ?"
"When you get to my age, you get the feeling of a what a big, team-
wide event looks like. An' also a Dorf super... mega... dark... a Dorf
ship uncloaked 'bout five minutes ago." Toony coughed, and Seyfert
fancied he could see the alcohol evaporating.
"And you think you can do it?" Seyfert wasn't sure. This all felt
too easy... but then he saw the look in Toony's eyes. No. Not easy at
"Haven't you read the newspapers? Saving the world's what I'm good
at." Toony shook his head, looking at the discarded glass, lying on the
lounge chair. "Seems like the only thing I'm good at, anymore."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"...so what you're saying," said Kid Enthusiastic, in an 'I'm
thinking really hard!' pose, "is that our choice is either to cure
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., and potentially screw over every Dorf in the
cosmos, or not do that thing, and probably all be horribly murdered
and/or turn into Dorfs ourselves?"
"Indeed," said Doctor Stomper.
"And... PLEASE hurry..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., eyes shifting
colors kaleidoscopically. "Or I WILL TEAR YOUR sense of languid ease OFF
AND SPIT IN THE provided spitting receptacle NRRRrrrRRRrrghg..."
"Well!" Kid E stuck a finger in the air. "Clearly, the right
decision is to take the third option!"
Cynical Lass threw up her hands. "What third option!?"
SKRATHOOM! The wall of the infirmary burst inward, and there,
hovering in midair, were Seyfert and Toony Stark.
"That third option!" Kid Enthusiastic pointed at the twosome. "The
Dorfs' weak point! Super huge tragedies!"
"Oh, thanks," muttered Toony, settling on the floor.
"Sorry, but he's right," said Poignant Death Lass. "We need pain and
anguish, strong enough for the entire Dorf race to feel. And we need an
end to the story we've been waiting for..."
"...the story of the LNH's very first mission," said Anal-Retentive
Archive Kid II. "Of course."
"..." Toony fell into a chair. "Of course of course." His shoulders
slumped. "Would it also help fight the Dorfs if I was having my genitals
electrocuted while I told you?"
Kid Enthusiastic made a face at the mental image. Pulls-Paper-Out-
of-Hats Lad scratched the back of his neck. Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
Out of the shadows, Irony Man II stepped forward, placing an armored
hand on Toony's arm.
Toony sighed and rubbed the hand. "Yeah, okay. Hero time." He raised
his head. "Ladies, gentlemen, the entire Dorf civilization..." He nodded
towards Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.'s throbbing skull. "I bring you two
tales. The tale of the very first mission of what would become the
Legion of Net.Heroes! ...and the tale of how I failed the same person
Suddenly, the infirmary door opened. General Jarrek, Marshall
LaRocque, and their crew walked in, bringing rows of plastic chairs and
a giant comfy lounge chair. They carefully lifted Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
into the latter, and everyone else settled down to listen to the
Namer Boy raised his hand. "Don't you need the memory sticks to
remember all this?"
Toony shook his head. "Before I left, I copied everything back into
my brain. Seemed like the best punishment I could give myself."
He took a drink of water, cleared his throat, and began. "At the
time, there was no big Ame.rec.an net.hero team -- just a lot of free
agents who teamed up once in a while. Net.ropolis had been a hub for
this sort of thing since Boy Lad's day, but the first time most of these
people had met was when she sent out a distress call out to every
net.hero in range."
"She?" queried Masterplan Lad.
"A hero we all knew and trusted. Malysa El-lenn Aitch. A half-human
half-Dorf who was Seyfert's predecessor as Protector of the Looniverse
-- Captain LNH."
"Of course there was a Captain LNH before there was an LNH,"
muttered Master Blaster, dangling his BIGGUN over his shoulder.
"I'm surprised nobody mentioned her when Vel was around," Doctor
"Yeah, well, don't get ahead of me. So we all came together, myself,
Marvel Zombie Lad, Kid Yesterdaze, California Kid, Lurking Girl, Comics
Snob Boy, Shoots-Arrows-Out-of-His-Butt Lad..."
"Wait, so there was really a Shoots-Arrows-Out-of-His-Butt Lad?"
"Oh, no, sorry -- this was the original Mood Arrow. That's just what
Horrible Name Lad I called him."
Horrible Name Lad and Poignant Death Lass blinked loudly. "Wait, so
there used to be *another* Horrible Name Lad?" PDL said.
"Horrible Name Lad I was actually his name," noted Toony. "A side-
effect of his powers."
"I'm a legacy character..." squeed HNL.
"Anyway, we also had Loquacious Lad, List Lad, the original
Occultism Kid, Bandwagon Chick and Miss Calico."
"Miss Calico?" said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad. "I thought Tom
Russell retconned Teenfactor out."
"Well, this was the post-Cry.sig post-Retcon-Hour post-Infinite-
Leadership-Crisis post-58.5 post-Beige-Midnight pre-Just-Another-Cascade
version of her."
"Oh, I see."
"What?" said Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II, blinking.
"Guys could we PLEASE get back on track," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad
Jr., cranial veins swelling.
"Right," said Toony. "So Captain LNH had a desperate warning -- the
Earth was in trouble. The Dorfs had been trying to gain access to our
planetary transreality nexus."
"You mean the one in the LNHQ?" said Kid Enthusiastic, wibbling
energetically in his seat. "The mysterious higher-dimensional energy
pattern which, despite the best minds in pseudoscience working on it, we
still don't know if it's a living creature that feeds on heroic emotions
or a locus of magic that attracts heroic energy or what?"
"Yes, though at the time, it was the mysterious higher-dimensional
energy pattern in the defunct Net.ropolis Hotel Grand."
"Never could understand why they kept trying to keep a hotel open
here," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. "It kept going out of
business because of weird paranormal happenings, or some net.villain
running a demented scheme out of one of the rooms, or a giant butterfly
laying eggs in the honeymoon suite..."
"They had thrown hundreds of screaming Dorfs through space," said
Toony, glaring at YNHMHELad, "attempting to lock on to the nexus, but
only one had made it through."
General Jarrek's eye twitched. Seyfert looked at him, then back at
"Yes. Jarrek had orders to transform the nexus into a permanent
beachhead through which the Dorfs could invade this entire sector of the
"That's what the fake you said," Cynical Lass noted with a raised
eyebrow. "That they'd mind-controlled the August One -- that is,
Occultism Kid -- and had him open the portal."
"What, mind control on the one person best protected from outside
influence? Gotta hand it to the Dorfs, they don't lack for ego." Toony
shook his head. "No. They were opening the portal on Earth because the
thing they needed to open the portal was on Earth -- the Cosmic Plot
There was a gasp, and Painful Pun Person muttered, "So it really was
a parody of the Avengers movie!"
"Indeed. Jarrek broke into the Net.ional History Museum, guns
blazing, and stole it. Mood Arrow had been the only one to respond --
and Jarrek used the Device to take him over. We had a traitor in our
"DUN DUN DUN!"
"Thank you, Bad Judgment Boy. We raced to stop Jarrek before he
could open the portal -- half came with me, half with California Kid."
"We made a motley group, I can tell you that. Kid Yesterdaze and
Comics Snob Boy were fighting over the X-Men, Bandwagon Chick and Marvel
Zombie Lad were dissing each other's ride, Occultism Kid was making
aloof comments, Miss Calico was trying to explain why she wasn't going
to call herself 'Aero Lass's Future Mother Woman', and in the middle of
it all, Loquacious Lad was going on and on, lecturing List Lad and
Captain LNH on why net.heroes shouldn't date each other. I should have
realized that Mood Arrow wasn't himself, but frankly I was just glad he
was being quiet."
Poignant Death Lass put a hand to her head, in premonition.
"He was already there, setting up when we arrived. Atop the Hotel
Grand, Captain LNH pleaded with him to stop, and that's when we found
out that he... was her father."
"DUN DUN DUNNNNN!"
"Yes thanks you can stop now. Jarrek... he didn't listen, but it was
obvious he still cared for her. He zapped her with the Device -- blocked
her cosmic powers somehow, left her up there so he could monologue to
her -- and teleported the rest of us to the ground. He summoned a bunch
of energy-projection copies of himself that there weren't any ethical
problems with destroying."
"Efficient," nodded Masterplan Lad.
"We fought him with everything we had. Repulsor blasts, mystic fire,
old comics, getting things weeks late, focused totality, snobbishness,
horrible names, longwindedness, tabulation, convincing everyone to do
the same thing, and whatever Miss Calico's powers were in this version
of history. We were making room so that Occultism Kid could set up a
ritual that would disrupt the nexus and send Jarrek back where he came.
We were holding them back... and then Mood Arrow turned around and
stabbed me with a rage arrow."
Irony Man squeezed Toony's shoulder gently.
"List Lad took him out right after, tripped him up with the original
air dates of every episode of Guiding Light." Toony swallowed, his voice
getting a bit hoarse. "He asked me if I was okay to continue the battle,
and I said... I said I was fine. That I could work through the rage.
That it wouldn't affect my judgment."
The people in the room looked at each other. A glance passed along a
thought -- about fogs of rage that clouded one's mind.
"I knew we had to keep the ritual going, but a thought crept into my
mind like a thief in the night. Captain LNH was distracting him, but
Jarrek could look down at any time and use the Device to knock us around
like bowling pins. I was fixated -- I had to *stop* him."
"I charged up my repulsors -- and *kept* charging, beyond the
recommended maximum, until the surface of my gloves was red-hot and I
could feel the energy crackle against my palms. I flew up and shouted to
him, and when he turned, I let loose the blast."
"And in that crystal-clear moment, I could see it. This was exactly
what Jarrek wanted. The Device could reach as far as the Dorf homeworld,
but it had to find it first. It needed a signal, an identifier. And I
had given it one -- the channeled power of my rage."
General Jarrek had not moved, but tears were streaming down his
"And... and Captain LNH had seen it too. With the power she usually
had, she could have blocked a sun. He had taken that, but he hadn't
taken... taken the willpower, the courage that she... she needed to..."
Toony closed his eyes.
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. gasped in understanding, and the Dorfs gasped
with him. General Jarrek let out a low, keening wail.
"I didn't... I think Jarrek restored her powers, but a moment too
late. She wasn't fried to a crisp, but she was fading fast."
"My rage was spent. I just... I landed and picked her up. Jarrek
didn't try to stop me, just stared as I flew off with her. I heard a
twang as he disappeared."
A tear rolled down UBLJr.'s wide face. "Nothing in Dorf society
prepared them for that kind of grief. When he got back, they thought we
knew their weakness, called off any plans to invade that way again."
His eyes glistening, Toony nodded. "Makes sense." He heaved a great
sigh. "I got her back to my laboratory. I couldn't heal her -- nothing
on Earth could, not back then. But my guilt lead me to do a very
desperate and stupid thing."
"The memory recording software I use is based on my early
experiments in... in uploading minds. I tried to transfer Captain...
tried to transfer Malysa's mind to an AI, but it... I was in there for
three days without sleep, it wasn't, it was flawed and unstable and it
Toony wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. "Unixepoch, Malysa's
boss, Seyfert's boss, appeared to me in that room. He said... he said
that one day, we would be ready to join as the world's greatest heroes,
but not yet. And to keep us from giving up, he would take our memories
of what had happened."
"Maybe he knew that I wouldn't forget -- that I'd already backed
those memories up. Maybe he knew List Lad wouldn't -- that he never
forgets anything. Maybe that was our private punishment. Maybe."
Seyfert sighed, running his hands through his hair. "That... cosmic
Toony tried to smile at him, but turned away with a grimace. "I had
failed her twice, and I failed her once more. I couldn't... couldn't get
rid of what was left of her, so I stored the project with my memory
files. Even when I moved them into the LNHQ. And that's where it was
when wReamicus Maximus stole it -- and used it as the basis for Vector,
the living computer virus."
"Oh..." whispered Doctor Stomper. "Oh, no..."
"So that's it. She was lost and betrayed for the last time." Toony
hung his head. "And it's all my fault."
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. let out a startled yelp. His head was
shrinking quickly. "The Dorfian Over-Mind... so overwhelmed with emotion
that it's collapsing..."
"Then we've beaten--"
A form flashed across the room, quick as a wink, and Toony was up
against the wall. General Jarrek had his hand around his throat, eyes
"What the hell," groaned Master Blaster.
"He shouldn't even be able to move," said Poignant Death Lass,
"I can still feel the rage in him..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
"Concentrated... can't hold it back..."
"That's right," whispered Toony. "You took it, didn't you? The
Jarrek stared into Toony's eyes, unflinching, unmoving. A sickening
pulse swept across the room, and the net.heroes spasmed, the virus
within them reacting.
And Toony stared right back. "You're not wrong to hate me. But I bet
I could give you a run for your money. And if killing me would bring her
back, I'd say -- do it. But we both know that it won't. So what will you
do with your hate?"
Jarrek's hand opened, and Toony fell to the ground. He ripped his
claws across his own armor and pulled out the Heart of the Prophet. And
Jarrek screamed, and the Heart screamed with him, and they were
caught up in a great ugly yellow flame of pure rage and were gone.
"What just--" asked a confused Namer Boy.
"It's over," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., standing up. His head was
smaller, but still engorged and pulsing.
"But what about...?" Kid Enthusiastic started to say.
"It's OVER! FINISHED!!!" screamed Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. Then he
took a deep breath. "Sorry about that. The rage inside me is stable for
now, but I don't know how long I can hold it in. I need to go!"
"Go where?" asked Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad.
"These Dorfs - they've seen all this. Their captain is dead. I've
got one chance. My control is fading, but if I can bring them together,
maybe there could be some faction in the endless Dorf wars that could...
that could remember what happened."
"Wait!" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. "You don't have
to do this! There's got to be another way!"
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. shook his enormous head with a smile. "I have
to. And besides, if I don't -- this issue will never get posted.
Goodbye, my friends." And with that, he was enveloped in a teleportation
beam, lifted away into the Dorf ship.
The LNH watched in silence. A few of them waved goodbye.
"Hey! I know what we can name this episode now!" said Horrible Name
Lad. "Get this -- 'I'd Like to Order A Looniversal Pied Piper Syndrome
-- Hold the Taco Salad Cheesecake!' Am I right, guys?! I should be
called Awesome Name Lad!"
Everyone rolled their eyes.
Catalyst Lass opened the door. "Guys? Did something happen while I
was getting ready for the party?"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
The LNH watched as the Dorfian ship rocketed off into the sunset.
"Well, that's that then," said Cynical Lass, lighting herself a
cigarette. "And you," she said, eyeing the Taco Salad Cheesecake
suspiciously. "Are we going to have any more trouble from you?"
"No." Taco Salad Cheesecake shook its head. "Taco Salad Cheesecake
no cause you more problems. Taco Salad Cheesecake renounce the ways of
violence. Taco Salad Cheesecake find it not have the taste for mindless
brutality like it did when it was much younger." A pretty butterfly
landed on Taco Salad Cheesecake's finger. Taco Salad Cheesecake gazed
at the pretty butterfly. "No. Taco Salad Cheesecake needs to figure
things out. Find out what Taco Salad Cheesecake's purpose is. Why Taco
Salad Cheesecake exists. Yes. Taco Salad Cheesecake begins a long
journey today. A long journey of discovery. A long journey in which Taco
Salad Cheesecake will hopefully find -- *Taco Salad Cheesecake*!" The
pretty butterfly flew off Taco Salad Cheesecake's finger and fluttered
off into the sunset.
"Uh, yeah," said Cynical Lass, flicking some cigarette ash onto the
sidewalk. "Good luck with that."
Taco Salad Cheesecake put on its motorcycle helmet and started up
its bike. And then it waved to the LNH and the LNH waved back. And many
in the LNH wondered if this would be the last time Taco Salad Cheesecake
ever actually appeared in an LNH story. And with that thought, Taco
Salad Cheesecake rode off into the sunset.
"Man," said Building Suspense Lad, waving along with the rest.
"Where did Taco Salad Cheesecake get that sweet ride? It kind of looks
like -- Wait! That's my bike!! That bastard cheesecake stole my bike!!"
And Building Suspense Lad rushed off into the sunset after Taco Salad
And the LNH looked as the sun sank into the horizon. "Well," said
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, "guess it's time to get the LNH 20th
nniversary Party started!"
"Maybe we should call it the 22st Anniversary Party, considering
when this thing will probably get posted," joked Namer Boy.
And all of the heroes had a hearty laugh at that.
And then they stopped laughing. Because... yeeeeeah.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
After the last of the confusion was sorted out, Catalyst Lass asked,
"Well what?" said Fearless Leader, who had just finished his long
day of sorting out forms while the rest of the team had stopped an alien
"Wasn't there going to be a party?"
"I guess so. I don't feel much like celebrating now." He sighed.
"Did Captain LNH exist in my world? Did she die there too? I guess it
doesn't matter too much, with the way things turned out. I was just kind
of hoping we could go one storyline without some big tragedy or dark
secret, but I guess that's not how they do comics anymore. This was
supposed to celebrate everything that was great about the LNH so we
could go forward into a new era. Instead, it just about destroyed us."
"Well," said Catalyst Lass, "that whole thing was hanging over our
heads for a long time. We would have had to deal with this someday, one
way or another. Now we can make a clean break and move on."
Fearless Leader, taking the last sip of his last cup of coffee,
didn't look too convinced.
Catalyst Lass nodded. "And we did save the Dorfs. Or some of them,
anyway. We made the galaxy a better place than it was this morning.
That's something worth celebrating, right?"
"I just wish Captain LNH would have been around to see it."
"Yeah, I wish I could have known her better. I still only sort of
remember her. But anyway... I did kiiiind of spend several weeks
organizing this thing and ordering party hats for all the kiwis, but
I'll see if anyone wants to have the party or if we all just need a
A crowd of kiwis wearing party hats waddled into the lobby. "Kiwi
kiwi kiwi," they muttered angrily.
"What? We're not calling off the party, don't worry." Cat petted the
lead kiwi on its fuzzy head. It looked slightly less grumpy. She threw
up her hands. "OK, it's party time!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
In later years, the LNH 20th anniversary party became a thing of
legend, told by the new generation of net.heroes who were just beginning
to trickle in to the members who followed them to demonstrate their
seniority, then repeated with all the additions and distortions one
would expect. For everyone who lived through it, it felt just as
momentous as the galaxy-defining battle that had happened earlier that
day, although it inspired far fewer Wikipedia Galactica flamewars.
Friendships were made and lost. There were first kisses, pointless
arguments, dance-offs. Most of this will not be related because this
story has gone on for quite long enough.
On the whole, after the chaos of earlier that day, it went smoothly
enough, apart from the glitch in the computer system that led to "Jump"
by Kriss Kross being played for three hours straight. It turned out it
was very well-attended -- practically everyone who was part of the LNH
who wasn't missing, dead or retconned at the time (and a few who were,
thanks to time travel and continuity errors) showed up. Catalyst Lass
was dancing enthusiastically with anyone who'd let her. Fearless Leader
sipped on his beer and smiled fondly, joining Cat for a brief slow dance
after some prompting. Kid Enthusiastic skipped out on the party, as
everything he'd been through left him tired enough to need a day-long
nap. Self-Righteous Preacher spent an hour and a half cursing the
institution of parties and then sulked off. The rumors that he sought to
drown his sorrow in drink and ran around in the middle of the night with
his underwear on his head have never been confirmed or denied. Ultimate
Ninja stood sentinel at the doorway and didn't move an inch, except for
charging onto the dancefloor and furiously dancing when "Kung Fu
There were other, stranger rumors too. Some spoke of hearing purring
and feeling a cat's fur brush up against them, but no one could say who
it was. Others recalled a pale, gaunt figure who complained at length
about the New 52 and berated everyone in hearing for not reading the
comics of Daniel Clowes, then vanished, walking between the shadows at
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
"Look at all these people," said Obscure Trivia Lad. "Obscure Trivia
Lad remembers when we had just 27 members. Can you imagine?"
Dr. Stomper nodded. "I'm feeling a little sad, though. Just thinking
about everyone who's come and gone."
"Such as Captain LNH?"
"I was thinking more about the characters of authors who went away.
As awful as this may sound, in a way, the deaths are easier to deal
with. That way there's some closure. I was thinking of the characters of
authors who moved on or dropped off the Net, who never had a chance to
have their stories finished in a satisfying way."
Sing-Along Lass nodded. "It does feel strange not having Rebel Yell
or Lurking Girl here. I still sometimes think that one day they're just
going to walk in and come back like nothing had happened..."
Everyone gasped. The crowd had clustered by the door, staring at the
two figures who had just walked in. "Who is it?" said Sing-Along Lass.
"It's... no... it can't be!" said Doctor Stomper.
"Obscure Trivia Lad thought they were gone forever!"
"That's right!" said the figure at the room. "It's us -- Halls
Jordan, the Cosmic Custodian, and Cliche Dude!"
"Wanna make somethin' of it?" said Cliche Dude.
"Where were you?" said Catalyst Lass, hugging them both. "I heard
you guys were dead!"
"I heard you'd eloped!" said Kid Yesterdaze.
"It's a long story," said Cliche Dude.
"Well you got here just in time," growled Ultimate Ninja. "There's
no way Squeaky Clean will be able to fix all this on his own. See?" A
band of drunken kiwis playing paintball thundered by, spraying paint all
over the walls.
"Guess so." Halls Jordan sighed. "It's a dirty job, but--"
"Hey!" said Cliche Dude. "That's my line!"
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Masterplan Lad shuffled awkwardly as the party roared on around him.
The crowd was so large he felt like he could barely breathe. He wanted
to be talking with someone, but he didn't want to start a conversation
with anyone. Where would he even begin? He barely recognized anyone in
this sea of faces around him.
None of the people who he'd been travelling with, who he could
perhaps call his friends, were there. Manga Girl aside, they'd probably
feel as out of place here as he did. At the moment, he felt more lost
and alone than ever before, even when he'd been stranded at the end of
"You there!" shouted Cynical Lass, holding up a Guinness. She'd had a
fair bit to drink by now and had previously been absorbed in singing
punk songs off key, which he hadn't known was even possible. "What's
your name again?"
"Er, Masterplan Lad?"
She blinked. "Have I seen you before?"
"Given all the time travel nonsense that's been going around lately,
it's impossible to tell."
She laughed. "That is true. What's your real name?"
"...I don't particularly have one." He frowned and looked down at
"Huh. That's messed up." He had to admit it was. "Well, you should
have some sort of psuedonym. You're new here, so I should tell you
net.heroes usually go for really awful puns."
"I'm quite familiar with the tropes of this genre, you know. Hmm.
You're right, though. How about... David X. McKenna?"
"Ha! That's pretty clever. Well, I think it's clever, but I'm
getting extremely drunk." She smirked. "You ever drunk before? You have
that fresh-faced cherubic teetotaller look about you."
"...I can't remember, but probably not."
"Come on. Try it." She handed him the glass of Guinness. He looked
cautiously at the warm brown drink -- was she even old enough to drink?
With the sliding timescale, it was impossible to tell. For that matter,
was he? How could he know? He drank a sip of it then, overwhelmed by the
taste, almost spat it out. She snerked. "Not bad for a first try. You'll
be a proper British drunk in no time."
"Ah, thank you. I have, er, business to attend to."
"If you say so." She waved goodbye, then stumbled off to the karaoke
Masterplan Lad stroked his recently-bearded chin. Had she been
trying to flirt with him? It was impossible to tell. She'd have to have
been fairly drunk to find him attractive. At any rate, he was glad the
moment had passed. He'd felt that uncomfortable twinge of feeling he
felt -- thankfully intermittently -- around men, women, and especially,
it would seem, gender-indeterminate chaos beings. He had had quite
enough to deal with that day without that. He had, though, glanced
around the room to see if Chaos Theory was around -- this sort of wild,
chaotic occasion seemed like the sort of place they'd enjoy. But they
were nowhere in sight. He didn't know whether to feel disappointed or
Masterplan Lad decided to leave the party to -- he wasn't really
sure what. Perhaps investigate the library. Or sleep. He wasn't sure how
to go to sleep, because he'd never tried it before. Lost in his
thoughts, he collided with another LNHer who was lurking uneasily at the
edge of the room. "Oh, sorry," he said reflexively.
"Thank you?" said the young man, as if someone apologizing was so
rare to him he couldn't quite believe it had happened. He was... young-
ish, male-ish, with a confused and vulnerable air to him. But beyond
that his appearance was hard to pin down. Or rather, he seemed to be a
lot of things potentially at once.
"Have we met? This issue has been going on for so long I'm not sure
even I can remember all of it."
"Maybe? I'm WikiBoy."
"Oh, right. Hello." He knew him from the mission, although he
couldn't quite remember how it had all gone down. The flashing lights
and the noise and the crushing presence of the crowd, as well as the
small sip he had had of beer, had left him dizzy. "Do you like beer?"
He'd hoped he could understand what people who drank beer saw in it,
since he was still trying to figure out if he liked the taste or not.
WikiBoy shrugged. "I don't know. Nobody's edited that."
"So, your nature is really under the absolute control of other
"Pretty much. I'm used to it."
Masterplan Lad frowned. He should have found this refreshing. He
knew his place in the story and didn't question it. This was certainly a
change from other net.heroes he'd had to deal with. But it troubled him.
"Err... I'd like to try an experiment. Is that all right?"
WikiBoy twitched. "Uh, sure."
"You are now a truck." WikiBoy expanded into a red semi-trailer,
knocking over a wall.
"That's interesting," he said. "Did you know in advance what kind of
truck you were going to turn into?"
"I don't know?"
"I deliberately tried not to picture anything. So your traits beyond
the order that's given you initially -- when you developed needles for
fingers initially, for example -- could be under your control?"
"Huh. I never thought about that," said WikiBoy.
"Well perhaps -- oh, right. You're not a truck." He turned back into
what he'd been previously.
Halls Jordan stomped in and looked at the wrecked wall. "This is
bullcrap. I just repaired that wall."
"Do you mean you just repaired that wall now, or you just repaired
it twenty years ago?"
"...Aaarg. I'm sick of time travel."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Irony Man II, slipping gingerly around the party, smiled at Halls
Jordan's expression of frustration with time travel. It was a fine
ironic smile, one she'd spent her whole life cultivating, but it was
wasted on the party, as she was wearing a mask, and she didn't want
anyone to pay attention to her anyway. Then again, there was a certain
satisfying irony to that.
Nearby, Doug Moran was doing the Macarena with Catalyst Lass. She
was glad she'd sent the message summoning him; he deserved to be part of
this celebration, and was clearly enjoying himself. She'd never been
much one for parties, preferring to spend her time alone in the gardens
contemplating the complexities of the cosmos.
But there were a few loose ends which remained to be taken care of,
loose ends which had gone unnoticed in the all-consuming chaos of the
Dorf battle. In particular, there was the woman who'd called herself
Tasha Vance, though this was likely not her name. Irony Man had an
inkling of who she was.
But there was no sign of her at the party. She stepped out of the
LNHQ for a moment to clear her head, heading for the gardens. Sure
enough, the one she sought was waiting there under the moonlight.
"I spend the entire night looking for you," said Irony Man, "and
you're right here."
"There's a word for that," said Tasha Vance. "Is there anything you
want to talk about?"
"I was wondering what you were doing here," she said, "The deeper
LNH sub-basements are not easy to reach, even for a Martyr of
"I am an architect," said Tasha. "It's my job to pay attention to
these things. Disruptions in the patterns of the city."
Irony Man looked at the tree. "It's been said that there are two
types of writers -- architects and gardeners. An architect standing in a
garden... as you said, there's a word for that. But I don't think you
are either. I think you are... a composter, perhaps."
"Your business card," she said, pulling it out of one of her other-
space pockets. "You handed this to the false Toony Stork when you were
exploring the underground. No one had a chance to examine it with all
that was coming to pass. Your name is Tasha Celeste Irene Vance. TCIV.
Time Crapper IV. Net.heroes and net.villains have a way of hiding in
"But I am neither." The air rippled and swirled around her,
revealing her true form as a red-haired, cloaked woman. "I am a seeker
"But you came from the seed of one of the greatest heroes of who
ever lived. You are a Vector."
"But the Vector program was the source of some of the greatest
villains who ever lived. And I *was* a Vector. I am something else now."
"Then what did you actually want? Knowledge, I assume, but of what?
Why did you have to come here in person?"
The Time Crapper frowned, looking up into the sky. The owlbear's
scroll appeared in her hand. "Captain LNH never had a chance to know
herself. She died before she could even know what her name meant. I will
not do the same. That is why I came here."
"She knew she what she believed in. Will any of the others follow in
"There is one. But her time has not yet come."
Irony Man nodded. "In many ways we are seeking the same things. I
wonder, will we meet next as friends or as foes?"
"It's hard to say." She smiled wryly. "After all, not long in your
future, we are married." And then she was gone, leaving Irony Man alone
in the moonlit garden.
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Wendle Johnston, the original Anal-Retentive Archive Kid, sauntered
through the party. Despite being one of the more scholarly, nerdy
members of the LNH, he was far more comfortable at social events than
But it seemed like his counterpart was a bit less comfortable. Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid II was sitting alone, face enveloped in deep
Even though he hadn't been the one to hire the orc [Legion of
Net.Heroes Volume 2 #48 -- Footnote Girl, filling up on hors d'oeuvres
and pie], the other Kid was a... friend? A trusted teammate? A valued
part of his increasingly complicated and anger-driven life around this
Anyway, he was something or other, and Wendle felt a responsibility.
He pulled up a chair. "Hey, man. What's up?"
ARAK II looked up. "Who published the newspaper?"
He shook his head. "Sorry, caught in a bit of a loop... apparently,
Cynical Lass's team was told about a newspaper clipping that reported on
Captain LNH's death. It ended up leading them to the Dorfs' weakness.
But if all of the memories of that battle were erased..." He bit his lip
lightly, fangs hanging out. "I keep going around on it."
ARAK I frowned. The thing is, he knew it must be a plot hook of some
kind -- but he couldn't tell ARAK II that; he didn't know he was
fictional yet, and Wendle worried that the kid was a bit... well, a bit
"The thing is, even with the most complete data-gathering and the
best analysis methods in the world -- sometimes, we just don't know.
Sometimes, there are mysteries we just can't crack. And that's good."
ARAK II raised-- well, he didn't actually have eyebrow hair, but he
gave ARAK I that kind of look. "Good?"
"Sure. Because it reminds us that, even with all our advanced
science, even with knowledge passed down from our forefathers, even with
going out there and meeting cosmic entities that are part of the
structure of the universe itself -- we don't know everything. We have
more to explore, and..." Wendle struggled a bit. He wasn't great at off-
the-cuff philosophizing... "...and we are not yet complete. You know?"
ARAK II looked a bit dubious, but said, "I think so."
ARAK I nodded. "Good. Now, that doesn't mean we shouldn't
investigate anyway. Show me what you've got..."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Deep in the cavernous core of Topphorti is the planet turned inside-
out; a sphere of shining planes, all-seeing monitors forming a
panopticon known as the Dread Judgment Booth. There sat tyrant Flipseid,
and before Flipseid, the monitors bore witness to Dorfish attack and
Dorfish defeat. In the bright silence, he spoke.
"The life of one of my immortal servants has been snuffed. The
least, to be certain -- but the least of the Net.Gods should ever lie
beyond the reach of mortals."
Flipseid waved a hand, and as with his merest whim, the monitors
complied. The ship that General Jarrek had commanded was leaving the
solar system, on its way back to Dorf space. "The Dorfs are a powerful
element to maintain the balance of terror in this galaxy. Now that
balance is threatened, once again, by the Looniearth -- by the Legion."
He rose, clasping his hands behind his back, silhouette stark
against the glare of information. He spoke.
"Know that I watch this puny sphere because of the secret -- the
Anti.File Equation hidden among human minds! Is this, then, the power
which I seek? The power to unbalance, to take the first, identifying
byte and corrupt it, throwing out all meaning?"
And the grooved vinyl skin bent, teeth of white bone shining in an
exquisite smile. "Good."
"Thus shall the power be greater once it lies in my grasp. Thus
shall it change the universe to reflect my countenance. Thus shall the
victory of Flipseid be ever more complete, and thus shall it ring among
the stars forever!"
"The music of the spheres is an empty babble, a chorus of
meaningless lyrics over the thumping beat of empty hedonism." He turned
and sat, and watched. And smiled. "And that beat is, and ever will be,
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
And off in the corner, pouring spiked punch for a toast, sat Namer
Boy and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.
"To Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.!" Namer Boy clinked glasses and downed
"To Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.," said YNHMHELad, tapping his glass to
Namer Boy's. "Off fighting to help the people who hated him." He swished
the punch around and sipped it thoughtfully.
Namer Boy poured himself another glass. "You seem troubled," he
said. "I mean, by stuff other than an alien invasion and a friend
possibly leaving Earth forever and angsty emotional revelations."
YNHMHELad snorted. "Yeah, I don't know. It's like..." He picked up a
Spanish peanut and flicked it across the room. "I'm not going all Dorf-
rage anymore, but I still think about all the problems in the world, and
I feel like we could be doing more."
Namer Boy leaned back, gathering his thoughts out of the beginnings
of a nice alcoholic haze. "The thing is, the problems here are
reflections of the problems out there - in the world of the Writers.
Sure, we can fix some of them with punching, and others with super-
science, but as long as they're out there, they'll show up here. One way
or another." He sipped his drink.
YNHMHELad frowned. "Well that's pretty depressing -- being at the
whimsy of a world you can't touch."
Namer Boy shook his head. "Nah, see. This is the part that most
people don't get -- we *can* touch them."
YNHMHELad raised an eyebrow. "Is this like the Mechanical Author
"No, no. It's like..." He took a deep breath. "The problems you were
talking about -- war, poverty, inequality and pain -- they aren't
natural disasters or acts of God. They were caused by people, the
thoughts and feelings in the minds of people, and the only way to really
fix the problems is to change the minds. To make people happier and
stronger and more inspired. And what can do that?" He tapped his chest
and the stylized calligraphy letter N there. "Art. Words. A story." He
looked up, into YNHMHELad's eyes. "We're helping by being here -- by
YNHMHELad let out a breath. "Wow." He tilted his chair back. "That's
good. I'll have to think about that."
Namer Boy shrugged, smiling. "I'm good at putting a name on things."
YNHMHELad chuckled. "Not like your dad."
Namer Boy shook his head, laughing. "Nah. But..." He looked over at
Horrible Name Lad. "It seems he inspired someone, too..."
--LNH-- --LNH-- --LNH--
Toony Stork had been sitting on the edge of the room, watching the
party go on without him. This was the first time in a long time he'd
been to a party without throwing himself into the middle of it. This was
also the first time in quite a while he'd been into the LNHQ. These
things were not unrelated.
He'd always feared -- or maybe hoped -- that without his guiding
influence things would have fallen apart and the LNH would welcome him
back with open arms to sort them out. But in fact, the LNH was still
going on, in defiance of all common sense, just like it always did. And
he didn't have any desire to get back in the game. Maybe someday the
writers would start feeling nostalgic and he'd feel the urge to put the
armor back on, but for now, he felt it was a part of his life that was
over now, for better or for worse.
Toony was quietly sipping on his Mr. Paprika XXX-Treme 20th
Anniversary Edition ("Now that's a cyborg's pop!") when he noticed
someone sitting on the table beside him. It was List Lad. He almost spat
out his drink. "Hi," he said, slipping as quickly as he could into his
phony cheerful smile. "What are you doing here? I thought you sent a
message saying you wouldn't come."
"Well, first of all, that's irony, right? I thought you'd understand
"Second, I figured I didn’t actually have anything better to do. I
mean, I could go stew in my own self-loathing, but I do that every
"Third, I felt like I might feel better if I spent some time around
people who are actually enjoying themselves."
"Huh, maybe you're right." He took a good look at the room around
him for the first time. "Look at those kids." Over at the other table,
Painful Pun Person was talking to Poignant Death Lass, telling her a
joke. The table exploded. "They have no idea how complicated any of this
is, do they?"
"Well, first of all, we might as well let them enjoy things while
they can. Second, you'd be surprised. You remember what it was like
"Well, I do now."
"At least these days we can keep the timeline straight... mostly."
"You know what? Maybe this all was worth it after all. Life goes on.
Even if we're not part of it anymore, they're all here because of us."
He raised his glass. "To the future."
List Lad clinked it. "To the future!"
| STARRING CREATED BY |
| Taco Salad Cheesecake ............................. Arthur Spitzer |
| Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad ....................... Arthur Spitzer |
| Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. ............................ Arthur Spitzer |
| Namer Boy ......................................... Arthur Spitzer |
| You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad ............. Arthur Spitzer |
| WikiBoy .............................................. Tom Russell |
| Master Blaster .................. Robert Ramirez and Martin Phipps |
| Kid Enthusiastic ................................... Andrew Perron |
| Doctor Stomper ....................................... T.M. Neeck |
| Masterplan Lad .................................... Adrian McClure |
| Kyoko Ishikawa ....................................... Ken Schmidt |
| Poignant Death Lass ............... Arthur Spitzer and Scott Eiler |
| Horrible Name Lad ................. Arthur Spitzer and Scott Eiler |
| Cynical Lass .......................................... Rob Rogers |
| Irony Man I/Toony Stork ............................... Doug Moran |
| Painful Pun Person ................................ Adrian McClure |
| General Jarrek .................................... Adrian McClure |
| Marshall LaRocque ................ John LaRocque and Martin Phipps |
| Flipseid ........................................ Dave Van Domelen |
| Seyfert ............................................ Andrew Perron |
| Irony Man II ....................................... Andrew Perron |
| Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II ...................... Saxon Brenton |
| Slickshiver ........................................ Andrew Perron |
| Fearless Leader ................................. Dave Van Domelen |
| Doug Moran ............................................ Doug Moran |
| Reg Hfffgrktt ......................................... Rob Rogers |
| Captain LNH ........................................ Andrew Perron |
| GUEST STARRING CREATED BY |
| Footnote Girl ...................................... Saxon Brenton |
| The Dorfs ......................................... John C. Daiker |
| List Lad ................................. Todd "Scavenger" Kogutt |
| OMAR/The Prophet ................................... Saxon Brenton |
| The Moas .............................................. Rob Rogers |
| Occultism Kid I/The August One .................. August Paul Yang |
| Mood Arrow ........................................ Arthur Spitzer |
| Cannon Fodder ............................ Raymond "wReam" Bingham |
| Bandwagon Chick ........................................ Sue Clark |
| The Owlbear ....................................... Adrian McClure |
| Tasha Vance/Time Crapper IV ........................ Saxon Brenton |
| Bad Judgment Boy .................................. Arthur Spitzer |
| AppMaster ............................................. Rob Rogers |
| Unixepoch .......................................... Andrew Perron |
| Comics Snob Boy .................................... Maurice Beyke |
| Paprika Pitts ..................................... Arthur Spitzer |
| Cheesecake-Eater Lad ................... Matthew Jotham Millheiser |
| Marvel Zombie Lad ................................ Benjamin Pierce |
| Kid Yesterdaze .................................. Karthik P. Sheka |
| California Kid ................................ Dan'l Danehy Oakes |
| Lurking Girl ........................................... Tori Fike |
| Loquacious Lad .................................... Greg Schomburg |
| Miss Calico .......................................... Tom Russell |
| Building Suspense Lad ............................. Arthur Spitzer |
| Catalyst Lass ..................................... Elisabeth Riba |
| The Kiwis ................................... Ian "Descrii" Porell |
| Ultimate Ninja ........................... Raymond "wReam" Bingham |
| Obscure Trivia Lad .................................. Brian Perler |
| Halls Jordan ....................................... Jef Kolodziej |
| Cliche Dude ........................................ Jef Kolodziej |
| Anal-Retentive Archive Kid I ....................... Saxon Brenton |
More information about the racc