LNH: The Liminals #1

Adrian McClure mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 5 16:12:00 PDT 2017



a Legion of Net.Heroes story by Adrian McClure


Masterplan Lad, a semi-cosmic guardian of the narrative, was sent by
the Knights Temporal to help sort out Ultimate Mercenary's storyline.
They ran into Varda, who then appeared to be a background character in
the b-movie pseudo-reality they were trapped in. Together they helped
UM reach his destination, and along the way met the time-displaced
champion of crossovers, Net.Access, AKA Alice, and the living magickal
construct/embodiment of creativity, Manga Girl. They found out Varda
was actually Victoria Arden, last survivor of a Legion team that was
erased by Flipseid's Discomega Effect, which destroyed her history.
They narrowly escaped the wrath of the Crossover Queen and Victoria
found herself bound to a mysterious evil pseudo-artifact which allowed
her control over her ability to shift out of the narrative. [Ultimate
Mercenary v1 #1-7]

And then a bunch of things happen which we mostly haven't written yet
[Just Imagine]

After saving the Omnilooniverse from the Hungry Past and finding out
some things about themselves, these heroes--minus Ultimate Mercenary,
who ended up on the newly created Earth-20--found themselves right
smack dab in the middle of another crisis, when rifts caused by an
excess of unfinished stories were destroying the world. [Just Another
Cascade]. Victoria wound up in the surreal dystopia of Earth-Y, met
Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass, that world's version of Lilith, made
an uneasy peace with the artifact, and realized she was gay as fuck.
[LNHY #15]. Together the team took on the Crossover Queen and helped
save the Looniverse, again, and Victoria and Alice started dating

After that, they all officially joined the LNH and started figuring
out their place in the world, becoming a team of heroes who had fallen
out of their worlds and times and found community with each other.
Eventually they decided on a team name--The Liminals. (It was supposed
to just be the name of the book and the team was not supposed to have
a name, but Manga Girl liked that better.) [WikiLull]

And now...

[Note: This takes place shortly after WikiLull #10]

Masterplan Lad wasn't supposed to dream. Beings like him--a former
Knight Temporal, who experienced continuous consciousness and wore
mortal forms as a mask and semblance, nothing more--did not know

And yet he was clearly dreaming.

He was sitting in a 50s-style diner across from some sort of bizarre,
hideous, beaked goblin-like creature which he vaguely remembered was
called a "furby." This sort of thing, in the world he lived now,
wasn't out of the question in (what passed for) reality. But he knew
this was a dream. There were a few sensations which were vivid and
sharp--the crooning music in the background, the scent of grease--but
others were not. Ergo, this was a dream.

It was entirely possible he'd wake up to something that made *less* sense.

"All right," he said, "so I suppose this is some sort of
Lynchian/Morrisonian cryptic vision that may or may not be

"It's all right. It's all wrong," chirped the furby. "Oh, daddy. You
know we've got bad blood."

"Well I'm sure some of that means something." How am I even
undersanding what you're saying?"

"Gnat tang."

"A palindrome? What does that mean?"

The creature blinked its goggling eyes. "Doo do do do do do dooo," it
sang. "Her voice was soft and cool. Her eyes were clear and bright.
But she's not there."

"What are you, exactly?"


"Well that's rather portentous." He reached for his Plot Device, the
focus of his powers--which took the form of an umbrella--but it wasn't
there. That was another way he knew this was a dream. "And what do you

"Irk. Vex."

"Well you certainly are accomplishing that."

The music had changed to a weird, otherworldly howling and the
scrambled eggs on his plate began to wriggle and glow. The furby began
to shake and gibber: "You know we've got bad luck. You give me
something I can hold onto. Your love is fading. Don't bother trying to
find her, she's not there."

And then Masterplan Lad woke up.

Drenched in sweat--another new, uncomfortable sensation--he opened his
eyes and saw that he was not alone. A shifting swirl of
blue/purple/red fractal energy floated above his bed. From the cloud
of starry chaos he saw something like a hand take shape and wave at
him. "Hi."

"Oh, it's you." His voice was a mix of irritation and affection.

"Yep! It's me, Chaos Theory." The starry cloud transformed into a
human form, facless but infinitely expressive through its sparkles and
flow of color. They reached out and took MPL's hand and he didn't push
it away. He remembered when he found the presence of the being called
Chaos Theory frustrating and disorienting as well as intriguing, but
it was oddly comforting now.

"Did you send that vision?"


"Are you going to tell me who did?"

"MPL, hon, it's way too early in the story for that. You know that,
right? I thought you were all about the narrative structure." They

"Well... I supposed you're right. At least that means this story has a
direction. It's about time, if I do say so myself. We've finally
decided on an official team name [WikiLull #3], but I'm not at all
sure where we're going. For one thing, there's too much of our story
that's still unwritten. Just Imagine is still unfinished, and that's
the story that resolves a good bit of our character development and
backgrounds--and by the way, I can't imagine what reading all of this
nonsense in chronological order will be like. And there's those
Infinite Leadership Crisis issues..."

"Those'll probably never be done," said Chaos Theory. "Sorry."

"That's all right," said Masterplan Lad unconvincingly. "That's the
nature of this universe, isn't it--I can see that now, after the Rift
crisis. No plan survives contact with the word processor." It had been
painful to sacrifice the completion of the LNH's first story to save
the universe's creativity [Just Another Cascade #12], but this
universe had its own unique form of storytelling, whether he liked it
or not.

"Yeah!" said Chaos Theory. "That's how the LNH works. It's pure,
unrestrained creativity. You've gotta work with it. There's a lot of
metaphors I can use and most of them are kind of double-entendre-y."
Chaos Theory somehow managed to wiggle their eyebrows on a face with
no eyebrows. "If your'e up for that..."

"Er, well..." Masterplan Lad had the unpleasant suspicion he was
probably blushing. "I just woke up and I've been under a fair amount
of strain lately."

"Yeah, I'll bet. That's the thing--you guys have been jumping from one
event to another. You need to loosen up a bit and just live in the
world around you. Figure out who you are when you're not trying to
save the universe from big narrative apocalypse stuff."

Masterplan Lad nodded. "I can feel another event coming, though. Like
a storm about to break, when the raindrops are just spattering on you
and you know you're going to get drenched--"

"You've got an umbrella, goofball!"

"It's a *metaphor,* Chaos Theory."

"Well, that's not your story. I think you can figure that out. This
time, saving the universe is someone else's job. You guys have been
riding along on other peoples' stories for a while, and now you've got
to find your own."

"You're right," said Masterplan Lad. In his heart of hearts, he didn't
know how he felt about that. He had been trained to be a sort of
guardian angel who aided and abetted the stories of others. He was
never supposed to have his own story. He was frankly uncomfortable
being the main narrative focus for this long. But that was his life
now, and he knew he'd best get used to it.

"OK! Glad you admit that this time."

"But you're insufferable."

"Yeah, kind of. Well, bye cutie. I'll see you when you least expect
it." He floated down and kissed Masterplan Lad on the cheek and
vanished in a puff of sparkle. Masterplan Lad found himself rubbing
his cheek where Chaos Theory had kissed him.

He dragged himself reluctantly out of bed--a consistent sleep schedule
was another thing he hadn't quite managed yet--and took a shower, then
put on one of his suits (which weren't quite identical anymore--he was
comfortable wearing different styles of ties, at least). Picking up
his Plot Device and making a quick once-over of his quarters to ensure
Chaos Theory hadn't left any cosmic whoopee cushions around, he made
his way to the LNH cafeteria.

Manga Girl, slouching with her legs on the cafeteria table, waved at
him and motioned for him to come over, in the middle of devouring some
katsudon. He got a bowl himself, and started eating it, slowly and
hesitantly--there were times when the sensation of taste was
overwhelming for him.

"So, what's been going on with you?" she said.

"Nothing much, I suppose. I had a nightmare that felt like some sort
of foreshadowing."

"Ugh, I hate those. So wait, are we during or after that whole WikiLull thing?"

"I, er, actually don't know. But we'd best leave here in case the LNHQ
blows up again. Do you know of any storylines we could be part of?"

"I dunno. I was thinking someone could just go to a coffee shop and
flirt with a cute barista and maybe have some angst."

"Mhmm. Well I suppose that's--" He raised his Plot Device and felt a
sudden pull to the lobby. "Ah, I can feel an impending superhero plot
in the vicinity."

"Or we could go punch someone, that's good too!" She leaped up and
raced to the lobby, with Masterplan Lad struggling to keep pace.

At the desk was Kyoko Ishikawa, the LNHQ's veteran receptionist, who
was back from an anniversary celebration with her husband, her wife,
and their husband. [1] She was talking with a middle aged woman, her
bright punk hair cut short, her jacket and bracelets bristling with

[1: Same sex marriage and plural marriages were legalized during the
Beige Midnight crisis, on the grounds that the world was about to end
anyway. The world has conspicuously failed to end a number of times
since then.]

"You've got to help me!" she said.

"What happened?" said Kyoko, in the friendly and calm voice she'd
perfected over the years from dealing with desperate civilians, angry
supervillains, demons and interdimensional door-to-door salesmen.

"My marriage was erased from existence!" she said. "Some... thing that
looked like a giant man made out of letters came up to me and my wife,
and said there was too much 'forced diversity' in the LNH and that
wasn't realistic, and then threw a letter at me and she disappeared! I
can't even remember her name!"

"That certainly sounds like a plot," whispered Masterplan Lad.

"Well!" said Manga Girl. "It's a good thing exactly half of the
Liminals are here!"

"The who now?" said the woman.

"The former supporting cast of Ultimate Mercenary," said Masterplan Lad.

"Which one was that again? Never mind. I can't keep track of all these
subgroups. Sorry. Is Miss Translation still around?"

"Dont' worry," said Masterplan Lad. "We'll take care of this
epistolary evildoer in no time."

"Hey! Alliteration! You're getting the hang of this!" said Manga Girl.

Unfortuantely, finding the mysterious menace proved easier said than
done. He had assumed that, now that they were part of this plot, if
they wandered around Net.ropolis randomly they'd run into it before
long. That was usually how it worked out. They'd encountered a number
of food trucks, homeless people and street musicians (Manga Girl
always took care to slip them money), and teenagers making out
oblivious to the world around them, but no supervillains.

Why did there even have to be a plot? Manga Girl had had a point--he
wouldn't have midned a pure character piece, to be honest. He could be
sitting around  holding his umbrella, reflecting on his situation,
even if he did have to indulge in a certain amount of angst. Maybe he
could spend more time with Chaos Theory. He had to admit that even
after having saved the Looniverse something like three times, even
though his name was "Masterplan Lad," he still didn't feel like a

Manga Girl raced up and down the walls of the building and tapped her
feet like Sonic's idle animation. "Okay, I'm ready to punch

"Er, it's not quite the time for that yet." Masterplan Lad found
himself wishing that the others were here, especially Alice. If anyone
was their leader, it was her. She knew how to work with Victoria's
bouts of apathy, Manga Girl's antsiness, and his standoffishness.

"Where are Victoria and Alice?" he asked.

"I dunno. Probably dealing with their own plot stuff. I--look!"  She
saw a white paper airplane flying thorugh him in the sky. A letter.

"Duck!" said Masterplan Lad. The letter exploded. He saw a sort of
ungainly humanoid made of letters skulking on the rooftop above. "Well
there's our villain," he said.

Manga Girl wall-jumped to the rooftop while Masterplan Lad opened his
umbrella and levitated there, standing perfectly still.

"I am the Letterhack!" said the creature. (Actually the words it spoke
were crumpled letters that unfolded into word baloons above his head,
but people could hear them anyway.) "You are an abomination to
realism! Now you will die!"

Manga GIrl blinked. "Huh? Where did this thing come from?"

Masterplan Lad felt a tingle in the air which portended a narrative
shift. "Well, I feel a flashback coming on," he said. He raised his
umbrella in the air and the energy of the incoming flashback struck
like lightning...


Dr. Stomper was sitting in the mail room, sorting through the
mountains of letters. "Hello, and welcome to LNH Mailbag, the regular
feature where I answer letters for the LNH which exists to make this
issue's plot possible and will most likely never be mentioned again.
Today we have a message from Gerald Grognard of Rantville, Wisconson.
It says..." He meticulously opened the letter, making sure to leave
the envelope intact, and gingerly took it out. "'Why is the LNH so
silly? Today's mature audiences don't want narratives invovling
characters with names that are too long to say doing silly things.
Where's the realism?' Well, Mr. Grognard--"

"The LNH is inherently silly. My name is Sister State-The-Obvious,"
said Sister State-The-Obvious.

"Yes, that," said Dr. Stomper. "While there have been a number of
dramatic narratives throughout its history, the fundamental organizing
principle of LNH is silliness. As far as what contemporary audiences
want, the popularity of works such as Homestuck and Jojo's Bizarre
Adventures speaks for itself. Now our next letter, from Dickson Edgey
of Rando, Illinois. 'Dear Dr. Stomper, I used to like the LNH but now
there's all this forced diversity...'"

"Most of these letters are pretty worthless," said Sister State-The-Obvious.

"It's true," said Doctor Stomper. "I wonder if we could build an
algorithm to sort out the useful letters from the useless ones.
Multi-Tasking Man, if you would?"

"Sure," said Multi-Tasking Man on the viewscreen. His fingers danced
across the keyboard in a blur. Before too long he'd made the algorithm
and 3D-printed a letter-sorting device, in between simultaneously
romancing every character in Stardew Valley.

"And now," said Dr. Stomper, "we will ensure such messages are treated
with the respect they deserve." He put the letters in a box, while
robot arms took out the majority of them and put them on a conveyer
belt, carrying them to an incineration pit. They exploded in a burst
of green flame.

"That probably wasn't supposed to be green," said Sister State-The-Obvious.

"Hmm, well." Dr. Stomper. He took out a scan.thingy and scanned the
pit. "According to this, it's just spontaneous combustion, nothing to
be worried about."

But in fact, the lump of lousy letters had been mutated by radiations
from radiations from the planet Neme.Sys! [WikLull After #2]! It had
become the embodiment of fanboy rage... the Letterhack!


"Argh!" screamed the creature, standing still and cringing. The
letters surrounding it vibrated in midair. "I hate flashbacks! They're
so unrealistic!"

"Er," said Masterplan Lad, ducking out of the way of the incoming
letter-bombs. "Am I correct you are a living creature made out of

"Yes," said the Letterhack. "Obviously."

"But... that isnt' very realistic, is it?"

"You're lying!" he said. "Why should I trust a man who's flying with
an umbrella!"

Masterplan Lad cluctched the handle of his umbrella. It was amazing
how many people in the world would refuse to see themselves and the
world around them--and he had been one of them, once. A loyal member
of the Knights Temporal, he'd tried to force the world onto a coherent
narrative track. Now he was learning to accept the narrative logic on
its own bizarre terms, as uncomfortable as it sometimes was.

"You shouldn't be able to fly!" said the Letterhack. A flaming letter
struck Masterplan Lad in the shoulder, and burning pain spread through
him.  The impending presence of the ground suddenly became hard to

Luckily, he had his Plot Device. While it was a powerful metafictional
machine that could affect reality, it was also an umbrella, which
could be used for all the normal functions of an umbrella such as
protecting oneself from rain and hanging desperately off of ledges. He
hooked it onto the building just in time and pulled himself up while
Manga Girl struggled with the creature. The letters dispersed before
her fists could hit and re-formed in time to strike at her.

"Hey wait a minute!" said Manga Girl. "We've faced something like this
before, right? Remember that weird bueuraucratic form elemental we
fought that one time?" [Ultimate Mercenary #7]

"Indeed," said Masterplan Lad, who resisted the urge to grumble about
reusing plots.

"I'll bet I can take this guy the same way!" She pulled out her pink
drawing pen she kept in her belt pouch and started doodling
superheroes making out all over the letters. But that just seemed to
make the Letterhack angrier. More and more buzzing angry letters
filled the air.

Masterplan Lad desperately wanted to punch that thing in the face, but
he was neither comfortable with nor particularly good at that sort of
thing. He could throw his umbrella, of course, but that wouldn't do
any good either. How could he actually affect it?

He remembered the creature's anger at the flashback, and how that had
immobilized it for a moment. Perhaps he could push this further...
While Manga Girl took on Letterhack as best she could, keeping it
distracted, he sat in lotus position in the ground and held his
umbrella upright in his arms. He felt the narrative threads suspended
in the air like a cat's cradle. All he had to do was pull them...

On the street below, a man collided with someone else. "Gasp!" she
said. "It's my long-lost twin!"

Then a roided-out cyborg figure appeared in midair, holding a gun.
"I'm your clone from the future and I'm here to kill you both before
you destroy the universe!" she said.

"Wait! You're all wrong!" said another man dressed in wizard's robes.
"I'm his husband from a parallel earth and I'm here to tell you who
your real father is!"

Letterhack screamed. A letter the size of a flag with "AAAAAAAAAA"
printed all over it unfolded his head. The sound made the windows
vibrate and Masterplan Lad almost fall over. Letterhack was consumed
by green fire and burned away to ashes.

"Hey, we won!" Manga Girl hug Masterplan Lad and spun him around midair.

"Oh," he said. He wiped the sweat off his brow. "I suppose we did."

He descended down to the ground, the effect of Letterhack's letters
having worn off. Back at the LNHQ, the woman from earlier was waiting
in the lobby, with someone else standing cuddling up to her--a fat
woman in an ellegant vintage dress, presumably her wife, who was about
a foot taller than her. "You saved our marriage! Thanks, guys!" They
high-fived Manga Girl simultaneously.

"Don't mention it," said Masterplan Lad.

"We're holding a party tonight," said the newly-restored wife. "Wanna come?"

Masterplan Lad pondered a moment. Meeting new people sounded
worthwhile, but so did sleeping for at least a day. "Er, unfortunately
I don't think I'm up for it now, but thank you."

"No problem," she said.

Waving goodbye, hoping he wasn't coming across as too rude, Masterplan
Lad, raced back to his quarters and collapsed onto his bed. He was
feeling a mix of excitement, relief and disappointment. He thought
about the two women embracing each other and felt a twinge of
abstracted jealousy. Would he ever have a relationship like that? Did
he want one? Could he handle it if he did?

"Hey there," said Chaos Theory, who was lying in bed beside him. "Good job."

"Oh!" He almost jumped out of his suit. "I wasn't expecting you to be here."

"Yeah, exactly!" Chaos Theory giggled, putting their arm around
Masterplan Lad's shoulder. He felt the tension draining from his body
and slumped into Chaos Theory's arms.

"I hope I did the right thing," he said. "In the course of that fight
I rearranged several peoples' lives. I didn't even think about it--it
came naturally to me. That was what I was trained to do. And I was
doing it because I was angry about someone else doing the exact same
thing." He sighed. "I'm glad everything seems to have turned out all
right for those women, but I hope--"

"They're OK," said Chaos Theory, stroking Masterplan Lad's cheek.
"That kind of thing happens all the time in this city."

"I noticed."

"This is still the first issue. Nothing horribly tragic is gonna
happen yet. I wouldn't get worried until it's like, the end of the
second or third arc..."

"That's what I was hoping," he said. "I just wish I could know for
sure. In my old life, there were clear rules about what I should and
shouldn't do. They were awful, of course--I turned my back on them for
a reason. But now I don't know what "

"So you want someone to order you around, hmmm?" Chaos Theory poked
his side. "Is that what' you're into~"

"Er, well," said Masterplan Lad. He had the feeling he was blushing again.

Chaos Theory giggled. "But to be serious... There's no set of rules
that's going to make sense out of everything. That's not how the world
works--*especially* not this world. You've got to figure out what's
best for you and other people. What they want and what they need and
how to help. It's not easy--I'm still figuring it out myself. And no
one's gonna get it right all the time. You just have to keep trying
and keep listening."

"I will," said Masterplan Lad.

"Well, I've gotta go take care of some things in the cosmos next door.
See you around." They moved on top of Masterplan Lad and, cupping his
head in their hands, kissed him on the lips.

>From a physical perspective, it was an interesting feeling. But of
course Masterplan Lad could feel far more than that. Though he was now
a being of flesh, he still had all his cosmic senses. The deep and
secret patterns of the universe were as real to him as sight and sound
and touch. He could feel his own joining together with Chaos Theory's,
strange and colorful and wondrous and intimidating--and beautiful.

It wasn't at all an unpleasant sensation.



Well here it finally is. Took a while to get this issue written. I
think in the past I was too hung up on trying to find a story arc for
this series. In the past I was suffering from having too tightly
defined story arcs and then also wanting to get past those and work
with whatever new ideas I had, so I wound up writing things out of
order, so I'm aiming for something a bit looser now. There's
definitely an overall direction for this story--some of which was set
up in WikiLull--but right now I'm concentrating on shorter series
exploring these characters, where they are now and how all the stuff
they've been through has affected them.

After a period of being burned out on comics, I got back in just in
time to go to a local con. This issue was partially inspired by a Bob
Haney-written issue of World's Finest I picked up for a dollar. The
plot was really bizarre even by Haney standards--it involved a
gangster's brain that had formerly inhabited a gorilla merging wiht a
protoplasmic alien creature and almost destroying all life on Earth by
stealing the color green. There were a lot of letters complaining
about Haney's writing and asking for more realism and continuity.
Maybe back then they just didn't have the equipment to appreciate
Haney's unique form of genius--he was like the prototypical
shitposter. That inspired the Letterhack, as well as ongoing
complaints about "forced diversity" (unfortunately the trolling seems
to be coming from inside the house at Marvel these days). The line
about spontaneous combustion is from that issue almost verbatim.

The Letterhack is free for use; it may have been set on fire but it
takes more than that to destroy a supervillain.

If you're reading this from my tumblr or whatever, and this is your
first issue of Legion of Net.Heroes, then welcome. You can go look
aorund teh wiki at lnhq.info bit and get a feel for this world and
what parts might interest you. You'll get used to this eventually but
it's always going to be pretty weird and complicated, even for people
who know it back to front. Like comics, only more so. But it's also
very simple--the LNH exists to do whatever is the most fun and
whatever the writer finds most indulgent. So just relax and have fun
and enjoy all the queer stuff I'm putting into ,this series, because
we haven't even got started yet. And don't ask when the end of Just
Imagine is coming out.

Adrian "The Dark Spaceknight" McClure, now with sig

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