LNH20: LNH20 Comics Presents #18, "Rising Action"

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon Nov 3 10:46:06 PST 2014

LNH20 Comics Presents #18
The Spoon of Destiny Saga Part 18: "Rising Action"
Chapter 18 in a chaotic add-on cascade
                           Part of LNH RETURN!
By Andrew Perron

Deep within W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R.'s secret headquarters, Andrea watched a
room full of lights flash on and off, reels of magnetic tape spinning
furiously. Ultravac was not pleased.

The door opened, and Dr. Contraption and the Cat Lady stepped silently
into the room. The ticker tape clattered, and Andrea picked it up. "The
Recovery Man has failed us!"

"I told you he was unreliable," said Doctor Contraption. "If you'd give
me the funding to restart Project Agamemnon--"

"Dearie," said the Cat Lady, stepping in front of Dr. C and cutting him
off. "This doesn't necessarily have to be a setback. Isn't this the best
time to proceed to the *very* final final phase of Project Runcible?"

Ultravac flickered thoughtfully. "I'm catching your drift," Andrea read.
"All right. Activate all our agents! It's time to fill our cutlery
drawer! Mwahahaha!"


In the labyrinthine vaults deep beneath the Vatican, Gioele Abatangelo
felt a device below his robes pulse three times. The signal. He raised
his key in the air and, with a flicker, disappeared.

"...Gioele?" Tommaso Evangelista peeked into the vault, but saw


The Crimson Gauntlet sat in his usual seat in the cafeteria, and as
usual, his head was in his crimson-gauntleted hands.

Angst! Angst and woe at what he had become, for he was forced by
W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. to become - a traitor to the Legion of Net.Heroes!

And look! Even now, they texted him, sent him a message of malice - to
seek out and take whatever Spoon of Destiny he could! Woe! Woooooooe!

He rose from his heavy seat and flexed the magical gauntlet from which
he took his name. There was a concentration of retcoetheric energy near
the conference room.

His face covered by a mask of doleful countenance, he simply walked down
the hallway. None stopped him, for he was trusted by them, though he was
unworthy of it! Unworthy!

He stepped through the door and scanned for the energy signature - but
no need. The Spoon had simply been left out on the table. Perhaps that
meant it was a fake? But no! No fake could exude such an aura!

He picked up the Spoon. Woe! Woe! Who could help the Legion now!?


"Well then," said January Frost to no one. "I suppose I will take a

The city of Netropolis was no longer in midair, but no one particularly
wanted to go near the city limits at the moment, just in case. Thus,
Daugherty Avenue was nearly deserted.

But January was looking to get caught. "Nearly" deserted was not nearly
enough. She took a left turn and headed through the wrought-iron gates
into Martins Park, going right into the most deeply forested parts.

"Peace and quiet," she murmured to nobody in particular. "So that I may
think about this dreadfully complicated situation with the Spoon of

She drew the Spoon from her pocket. "Certainly, this is a powerful
artifact. T'would be a pity if it fell into the wrong hands..."

Thump! Thump! Thump! Blocky shapes appeared between the trees. Ah,

The Boxmotrons were Ultravac's mass-produced foot soldiers. Take a basic
mechanical skeleton, cover it in cardboard, duct tape and PVC pipe, and
spray-paint the whole thing silver. They looked ridiculous, but the
robotic underparts could produce a surprising amount of force, and they
often carried powerful ray-guns. As well, they were immune to her
charismatic powers.

Mind you, that did not mean that, in other circumstances, she could not
wreck such a squadron. After all, the ritual that had given her
superhuman charisma had also boosted her physical attributes to peak
human; she had the strength of an Olympic weightlifter, the dexterity of
an Olympic gymnast, and the constitution of an Olympic drinking

But in this case, she simply put up a good fight, ripping off several
arms and legs before letting herself be ray-stunned and carried off.

A shadow detached from the trees. Minority Miss followed the robots and
their captive to W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R.'s lair.


Sigrid Franklins, the noteworthy Nerf Girl, paced through the halls of
the LNHQ, thinking.

While she had been transmogrified into MechaKat's form, she had... she
had been able to think differently. It wasn't quite like being
*smarter*; it was more like being able to outsource certain tricky bits.
And those outsourced bits had figured out the true meaning of the gate -
but she hadn't been able to import that fact back into her regular-
person mind before they had all been transformed back.

She knew what Professor Penumbra thought the gate did, but that didn't
*feel* right. But she wasn't going to go to Fearless Leader with vague
feelings. So she was trying to piece it back together the slow way.

Ahead, she saw a doleful figure slip out of the conference room. Huh,
wonder what the Crimson Gauntlet had been doing in there? He seemed like
a nice guy, but so sad!

Sigrid stepped inside. Nothing seemed to be out of place. The conference
room was a surprisingly ordinary-looking office room, with some nice red
carpeting and paintings on the walls. About half of it was taken up by a
long table. The other half had a podium and a whiteboard. The only
obviously strange thing was the windows, which showed a starfield
constantly zooming by.

She knew, though, that the table and the room itself could lengthen or
shorten based on the number of people in it. It was hard to forget that
the building she was inside was alive and ancient. She stepped over and
knocked on the table superstitiously - which meant that she was in the
right place to catch a glimpse of silver underneath.

She knelt on the floor. Huh - there was a cracked mirror under the
table. And... the Spoon of Destiny!? No, wait - this must have been one
of the fake spoons they were talking about.

Carefully taking both items, she stood up. Tried to stand up. Tripped
over her own feet, really.

She fell, and as her arms hit the ground, the Spoon hit the mirror.
There was a shower of blue sparks, and a moment of discontinuity, and
she was... somewhere else...

Swirling blue mists surrounded her, and she lay on rough... bark? There
was a dim light coming from somewhere in the distance. Dark shapes
floated in the mist - one of them was... her parents, young, fighting
some kind of monster...

Her left hand gripped the Spoon tightly. No. Not one of the fakes.

She heard something like a voice, not far off. Her eyes flickered about,
and she rolled behind something like a huge, gnarled root. She listened.

"...easy to say that, 'Mother Time'," said a mocking voice. Um, one of
the LNHers - Professor Penumbra? "But it isn't just the LNH. Sooner or
later, W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. is going to realize you've played them."

"Indeed." The voice - no, the voices - came from three directions at
once. Sigrid had gone to a concert once where the soprano, mezzo-
soprano, and contralto had blended together into a single note that
spoke of endless beauty and endless power. If that note had become a
voice... "Which means that they must be kept distracted..."


Like most villainous bases, the headquarters of W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. was
riddled with a maze of ducts that could be easily traversed by an adult
human. Usually, they were for heroes escaping, but today, a figure had
silently infiltrated the base, and made her way to the central control

"The agents are on their way," said the Cat Lady, hanging up a rotary

"And soon," said Dr. Contraption, rubbing his hands, "soon, we will have




"Freedom from student loans!"

The others stopped laughing and looked at Andrea. She blinked. "Er...
and probably control over the masses or whatever."

There it was. Behind her. The giant boxy machine, full of vacuum tubes
and wires, that she had been hired to kill.

Lady Heartthrob's hands tensed on her katana. Ultravac would die.


"Personal log of Mentus the Mouse." The small rodent sat in a tiny
chair, hands steepled. "For all intents and purposes, I should not

He took out a tiny suitcase and opened it, removing a tiny mug. "As we
have established in previous iterations of this exercise in self-
exploration, I was created during an attempt to rediscover the process
that created Doc Nostalgia's arch-enemy, Cranium." He waved his hand,
and the mug floated across the room towards the coffeemaker. "Though I
do not have his ability of instant spatial calculation, I have minor
telekinetic powers, and can calculate the shape of time."

The mug filled itself and floated back. "And I can see that shape has
changed - drastically." Mentus caught it, setting it on a tiny coaster
and taking tiny packets of sugar out of his lab coat. "The Cranium
project was supposed to go in a different direction. Someone has been
retroactively removed from existence. One man died, and another man
lived, and thousands of years of history have been changed - yet left in
almost the same shape. Such is the power of the Spoon of Destiny."

He stirred the coffee. "For myself, stopping villainy is an intellectual
exercise. Yet I must confess an equal intellectual interest in how this
conflict will play out. What else will come of this power? Who will win,
the Legion or W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. - or the unknown third party whose hand
in this is only half-glimpsed?" He chuckled. "Of course, none of that
means anything if history changes again, and I am not here to see it."

Suddenly, there was a KAFROOSH! A magical mystery portal opened, and a
figure with blue-black hair, steaming from the aftereffects of reality
transformation, stepped through.

"Ah, it seems that Doc Nostalgia has returned. How did your big
confrontation go?"

"No time to talk, mouse!" Doc Nostalgia's eyes were crackling with
immense power. "I've bested Mister Morrison, and been charged with a
fragment of the Power Morrison! My sixteen-dimensional ability to
perceive overly-clever metafictional plot twists allows me to see that
the Killfile threatens to return! I have to surf across Hypertext Time
and guard the gates of reality!" He turned into a ball of CMYK dots and

"Well, have fun," said Mentus. He sipped his coffee and grimaced. "Mmm,
time to beg up some cream..."


There was a sudden flash of blue-green light. Killswitch blinked. What
had he been doing?

"As previously stated, get back here with that Spoon of Destiny!"

Oh, right. Running! He took off down the corridor, Kid Enthusiastic
chasing after him.

"Killswitch!" yelled Kid E. "I'm not actually sure why you're running
off with the cosmically powerful artifact! Might be a good idea to stop
and talk about it!"

No. No, they wouldn't understand, wouldn't trust him, wouldn't--

His angst was interrupted as the Crimson Gauntlet turned the corner.
With a THUMP! they collided, and with a FLASH! two spoons merged into

Killswitch looked up into the Crimson Gauntlet's eyes, grabbed the
spoon, and ran.

CG looked after him, blinking in confusion. Kid Enthusiastic skidded to
a stop in front of him.
"C'mon! He stole the Spoon of Destiny!"

In the Crimson Gauntlet's sea of inner woe, a tiny glimmer of hope


Through the cramped corridors of W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. HQ, the Boxmotrons
carried January Frost. It was taking an irritatingly long time, but that
was to be expected from those who put so little craft in their art.
Finally, after several failed attempts to turn the handle, they opened
the door into the room that Ultravac filled.

Doctor Contraption cackled. "January Frost, in our power!"

"Foolish LNHer!" said the Cat Lady.

"Gerald. Louise." She nodded to them and scanned the room. There was a
man in long robes that looked like something out of a Renaissance faire,
and - ah, yes, Ultravac's latest personal assistant, there to speak in
his place because he refused to speak for himself. Really, the
computer's addiction to aesthetic would be the end of him more surely
than anything the Legion did.

Dr. Contraption snatched the Spoon from her and turned to the robed man,
who gave him another Spoon. "Thank you, Gioele. Why don't you visit the
canteen; we haven't managed to recruit an evil opposite of the Legion's
cook yet, but we've at least managed to get someone who does a decent

Gioele bowed and left the room. Dr. Contraption walked over to a machine
that looked like a heat lamp mounted in a fume hood. He put the Spoons
underneath, closed the door, and turned a series of complicated knobs.
The lamp glowed, shifting back and forth through an eerie spectrum.

Ultravac's reels spun. "Hey, what gives?" read the girl. "It says
they're both the real spoon! What kind of penny-ante equipment are you
giving me, Doc?"

"It must be some sort of quasi-cosmic energy contamination," muttered
Dr. Contraption. "Or a quantum decoherence effect..."

"It's all right, dearie," said the Cat Lady. "We can wait until the rest
of our agents report in."

Perfect. January could watch from here while the agents came in.
Minority Miss would wait for her signal until all of the spoons were
gathered, and they could grab them with one fell swoop. She had the
situation under control.

Suddenly, there was a crash and the air vent blew open. Into the center
of the room fell a slippery shadow, moving like lightning, blade
shredding the Boxmotrons like they were non-corrugated paper.

January cursed inwardly. She thought she'd gotten over the type of
supervillainous hubris that lead to "everything is going according to
plan" thoughts. She twitched a toe inside her boot, activating her

There was a thump! and a smash! and a thb-rattle-rattle-BLOOSH and
through the ceiling came Minority Miss, incidentally shredding the
already-abused air vent to pieces. "January!"

She pointed. "Ninja! Spoons!"

The girl who had been holding the ticker-tape was staring up at Minority
Miss, eyes wide. "...Apoena?"



Down, down, in the depths of the sub-basements, down on level 57. The
darkness was silent but for a faraway rattling. Louder and louder it
became, before the sudden stop. An ancient, creaky grate slid open.
Fearless Leader, Agent Mephitidae, Lass Dragon, Gift-Wrapping Granny,
Configuration Man, Lindsey Gensym, and the man everyone thought was
Professor Penumbra stepped out.

The walls had gone from smooth plywood and concrete to rough stone.
There were no light bulbs, but cracks in the stone gave off a dim red
glow. Far off, around a bend in the twisting path, they could see a
brighter glow.

"Stick together," said Fearless Leader, taking out his sidearm and
setting it to stun.

"Mmmm," said Lass Dragon, arms crossed, looking off into the darkness.
"Will do."

They moved out, carefully making their way along the corridor.
Configuration Man swung his trap-sensor around with each step, Agent M
kept her nose in the air, and Professor Penumbra made mystic circles in
the air.

Lindsey stuck to the rear, looking around in amazement. This whole place
was underneath the LNHQ? Was it a natural cave, or something stranger?
She regretted not taking that spelunking course while it was available.
She really needed to organize her schedule a bit more, so she had time
for things like...

And then they turned the bend. The glitter of torchlight off metal was
almost painful, after their eyes had adjusted to the darkness. Atop a
glistening heap of precious things, gold, silver, jewels, consumer
electronics, books, memorabilia, and far more esoteric things, lay a
dragon. It had to be fifty feet long at least, with six legs and dull
red scales - or perhaps it was just the light that made them look like
that. It had three eyes, all closed, and seemed to crackle with a
powerful, slumbering force.

GREETINGS, said the voice that rumbled like thunder and seemed to come
from all around. Lindsey, squinting, could swear that its powerful
muzzle had not moved.

"Greetings," said Fearless Leader, after a moment. He was looking
around, and Lindsey noticed that Lass Dragon had disappeared. He shook
his head ruefully and continued. "We come in peace. We are seeking
something we have lost - the Spoon of Destiny."


Next to Lindsey, Professor Penumbra tensed up. Did he not want a gift
from a dragon? It *did* sound like the kind of thing that could be very

eldritch energy, a standard-issue cryogenics unit slid out of the pile.
Through the faceplate, a figure could be dimly glimpsed. FOR THE LEADER

Without hesitation, Fearless Leader stepped forward, wiping the
condensation from the pane of glass. "It's-- it's Too-Much-Time-On-His-
Hands Lad!"

Agent M frowned. "...didn't we already-- wasn't he rescued by--" She
shook her head. "No. No, of course not..."

FOR THE TEACHER, A NEW STUDENT. A stone slab slid out, with a sleeping
form upon it. It was a man, Middle Eastern, dressed in just enough rags
to get past the Comics Code. His hair and beard were long and scraggly,
but the sword in his hands was pristine and shining, a complex multipart
blade with an intricate gear system between the blade and the hilt. At
the end of the slab, a line of cuneiform runes spelled something out.

Eyes flickering nervously, Professor Penumbra knelt down and read the
runes. "It's Akkadian, I think," he said. "Just one word -

"Devastator! Of course!" Gift-Wrapping Granny pulled out a pair of
  reading glasses and knelt next to the Professor. "In.kidu, resting on
  his bier, returned from the Underworld, with his Omni-Blade. The wild
  man, as fierce as the ancient foe he fought."

"Er...?" said the Professor.

Granny smiled, eyes lost in thought. "I was a middle school history
teacher, and when we were in our unit about Mesopotamia, I always made
the time to talk about The Epic of Googlemesh. The lore of it became
quite a hobby for me - especially after the Network claimed to have met
In.kidu and helped him in his eternal battle against ApocaLISP." She
shook her head. "The king who died, and the beast-man who gained
immortality. Looks like all myths really are true."

Agent M's eyes narrowed. "I'm surprised you didn't realize that,


"What? I-- no!" Professor Penumbra's image melted away like morning
mist. In his place was a middle-aged man wearing a purple robe with
silver comedy/tragedy masks embroidered on it and a fake beard.

Agent M got him in an armlock before he could scamper off. "999 Faces
Wizard - W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R.'s master of disguise and mystic specialist."

Fearless Leader got in his face. "Where's the Professor!?"

"I-- I don't know, I was just told I'd be teleported in right after he
did a ritual--"

FL turned away and sighed. "Let's get this over with. But-- Dragon.
Thank you."

MY PLEASURE, purred the sonorous voice. FOR THE MAN WHO CAN CREATE

A tiny piece of paper fluttered into Configuration Man's hands. He
squinted. "Is this... a phone number?"


"Oh-- ohhhhhh!" Configuration Man quickly folded it up and put it in his
back pocket. "Eheh. Thanks."

"...you know that boy's disturbed, right?" said Gift-Wrapping Granny.

"HE IS ALSO SEXY." CM harrumphed.


Lindsey swallowed. She stepped past the others, past Fearless Leader and
the stone slab. "Yes?"

Glimmering lines curled in the air in front of her. With a burst of
power unleashed, a silver Spoon fell into her hand. MAY IT LEAD YOU TO


"Actually--" said Fearless Leader.

But a blast of flame engulfed them, and they found themselves, with Too-
Much-Time-On-His-Hands Lad, Devastator, and 999 Faces Wizard, back in
the conference room.



Doc Nostalgia was a streak of lightning, riding the forking, turbulent
paths of Hypertext Time. He could feel the golden door of Ava.LAN before
him, holding back the energies of the Killfile, so he went around,
following a timelike curve past the Rock of Net.ernity and coming in
through the back door.

He rerezzed in a place where light was slow, where one's eyes felt like
vaseline-smeared camera lenses. A grassy hill, and at the top, his
descendants, his ancestors, the Saviors of the Net.

There, in his holofoil cape - Chromium Age Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature
Man. There, with her sais crossed over her chest - Cheesecake Shinobi.
Indecisive Lad, Rage Arrow, MechaKat - even Captain Killfile, the
traitor herself, frozen in time.

And there, at the top of the mount. Holding Excalibur aloft, Sig.Lad, in
the flesh. He could see the gray miasma of Killfile energy wrapping
around the blade, held with its stabilizing powers in a single moment.

But who was that? Someone standing at the foot of the hill, free from
the time-bending effect. Doc Nostalgia drew the blazing energies back
within his corporeal form and walked over.

A young man in a familiar uniform. Nearby, a car left unattended, with
the "Ditko's Pizza" logo atop its roof in glowing plastic. In the man's
hand, an artifact of power, which made the seams of the world tremble.

"Pardon me, son," said Doc Nostalgia, stepping in. "But what are you
planning to do with the Spoon?"

The man turned to him, with a grin. "I finally figured it out. I was
brought here for a purpose." He held the Spoon up in the air. "To free
the Saviors of the Net!"

Author's Notes:

999 Faces Wizard is inspired by Tom Russell's old Teenfactor villain
1000 Fonts Wizard and his retconned-in predecessor, 999 Fonts Wizard.

The membership of the Saviors, both the final one trapped in Ava.LAN and
incarnations before that, is still fluid. Not locking anything down
quite yet!

If you want to do #19, poke me! I'm aiming for #20 as the climactic
final issue!

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, LNH RETURN! hasn't ended yet!

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