LNH: Classic LNH Adventures #45: The Crimes of the Brotherhood Part Eight

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer2 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 21 12:58:31 PST 2018

In this weeks reposting of stuff you can find in the eyrie archive
we have the eighth section of the whole EMPLOYEE-EMPOWERED, PARADIGM-SHIFTED,

Firstly, we have Rob Rogers with the number 27 of his
Easily Discovered Man series as the Easily Discovered duo try
to foil Color Error Lad's various schemes.

And after that, we have Scott "Zagyg" Johnson and his final issue of Unlikely Aliens
#18 and if you looked at the LNH Timeline it would seem to suggest the final issue
of this crossover.  But having read tons of LNH stories, I know that various issues
of Continuity Champ and an issue of System Corruptors act as kind of an epilogue.

So this is not the end..

And now..

             | |      Classic			
             | |                      =
             | |      ____    ____    _    ____    ___
             | |__   | [] |  | [] |  | |  | [] |  | _ \  

             |____|   \__]    \__ |  |_|   \__/   |_|\_\
                                |_|  OF NET.HEROES

                                     ADVENTURES #45

                 The Crimes of the Brotherhood Part Eight

From: Eagle <eagle at eyrie.org>
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Subject: LNH:  Easily Discovered Man #27
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 95 02:29:25 -0500

--------From the files of Doctor Stomper------------------------------------
    Wednesday, 2 August 1995: A most peculiar circumstance occurred the other
afternoon, while I was occupied in explaining a vital procedure to a young
intern I have recently taken under my wing.  
    "Of course Batman can swim with all of that stuff he's carrying," I said.
"It's all made from a highly-collapsible superlight aluminum-magnesium 
compound.  I should have thought that would be elementary."
    "Okay, I'll buy that," said Intern Lad.  "But how did he get from Dr.
Meridian's office to where Dick Grayson was fighting those hoods when Dick
had taken the Batmobile?"
    Before I could reply, the sanctity of my laboratory was shattered by the
appearance of Kid Recap, who burst through the doors wheeling an unmoving 
glowing man on a gurney.
    "Doc, you've got to do something!" Recap gasped.  "It's Easily-Discovered
Man!  His plot collapsed, and his series is on the brink of oblivion!"
    "Intern, check his vitals," I said.  "Kid, how did this happen?"
    "No one is sure," Recap replied.  "Last anyone heard, Easily-Discovered 
Man and Lite had just come back from their -- ahem -- date with Writers Block
Woman and Mouse, when they ended up teaming up with Cynical Lass to go after
Color-Error Lad, one of the Brotherhood of Net.Villains.  After being 
captured by said Color-Error Lad, the trio learned of the villain's plan to
control the world by exploiting the racial fear and hatred of its citizens.
The monster then sicced the cast of Reservoir Dogs against him."
    "It's not good," Intern Lad said.  "Creativity is low; audience interest
is rapidly waning.  It looks as though chunks of plot are occluding his 
    "Crossover sickness," I sighed.  "I might have known.  This Employee-
Powered...etc. plot will be the death of us all.  Get me 40 CCs of bad
jokes, 30 mL of distilled imagination, two shots of bourbon and a rubber
chicken.  Stat!"
    "Do you think he'll make it?" Kid Recap asked.
    "Hard to say," I replied, as Intern Lad returned with my requests.  I
drank down the bourbon, then injected the bad jokes directly into EDM's 
plotline while my assistant loaded the imagination into an IV.  The body
    "It's working," I said, holding the rubber chicken above my head.  
    As Intern Lad jumped back, I brought the chicken down onto Easily-
Discovered Man's body with a jolt.  His lifeline, now visible on a small LCD
monitor beside the gurney, jumped.
   "Clear!" I said again, and repeated the procedure.
   Slowly, steadily, Easily-Discovered Man began to regain consciousness.
   "The...horror.  The...horror," he murmured.
   "Doc, you've done it!" said Kid Recap.  "You've saved Easily-Discovered 
    With a growing horror of my own, I dropped the rubber chicken.  
    "Forgive me," I said.
    "It's too late," Kid Recap said.  "We now present Episode #27 of "The
Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man," "The Color of Money," or "Casino
Royale with Cheese," paid for through the tax-deductible donations of readers
like you."
    "Lite, we're finished," Cynical Lass said.
    "How can you say that?" I asked.  "For one thing, we're not even dating.
For another, do you really think I would let the three of us be killed by a
bunch of guys who took their names from a box of Crayolas?"
    "You don't have much of a choice," Mr. White growled, as the twirling
fury of Mr. Blonde's switchblade drew ever closer.  "By the time Blondie here
gets through with you, there won't be enough left of your bodies to give an
ant gas."
    "No ant nor foul-minded miscreant shall take such pleasure with our 
heroic corpus," Easily-Discovered Man said.  To me, he whispered, "Lite, if
indeed you have devised a scheme which shall release us from this evil
predicament, now 'twould be a fitting time to divulge the same."
    "You shall have no such luck, Easily-Discovered Man," cried Color-Error
Lad, who had exceptionally sharp hearing.  "My henchmen shall eliminate you,
and then join me for an extended holiday in Monte Carlo, where I shall
replenish my funds in order to implement my scheme of world domination!"
    "Right," said Mr. Blonde, charging forward.
    "Hold it right there," I said, handing Blonde a small white card.  "I 
hate to pull rank on you guys, but if any of you takes one more step you'll
never work in this town again."
    Mr. Blonde looked at the card, then handed it to Mr. White.  
    "My apologies," he said, putting his switchblade away.  "Take five,
    "What...what is the meaning of this?" screamed Color-Error Lad, dashing
across the room to glance at the card, which read as follows:
    ***                      Net.ropolis Local 401                   ***    
    ***                                                              ***   
    ***         Sidekicks, Henchmen & Peripheral Characters          ***   
    ***                                                              ***   
    ***                   Easily-Discovered Man Lite                 ***
    ***                                                              ***
    ***                           TREASURER                          ***         
    ***                                                              ***   
    "No!" sputtered Color-Error Lad.  "This is some kind of trick!  
Mr. Pink...Mr. Orange...Destroy them!"
    "Sorry, boss," said Mr. Pink, while Mr. Orange whistled 'Look for the 
Union label.' "Seems as though none of us wants to lose our 40-hour week, 
legal representation in case of capture, and those nifty newsletters they 
put out every month.  Besides, it's time for our federally-mandated coffee
    With cries of "Dibs on the hazelnut" and "I hosey the Irish Cream," the
blue-suited henchmen filed out of the room, leaving the Prof, Cynical Lass 
and myself alone with Color-Error Lad.
    "If there's one thing I hate more than superheroes, it's organized 
labor," scowled Color-Error Lad, before disappearing in a flash of gold and
    "Wow, Lite," marveled Cynical Lass.  "I had no idea you were so...
connected.  But isn't there something of a conflict of interest between your
being a super-hero and collecting dues from henchmen?"
    "Not at all," I said.  "The Prof here has taught me to fight oppression
in all its ugly forms, whether it's Acton Lord or some employer who hasn't
been paying his workers their rightful wages."
    "Indeed," the Prof said.  "Incidentially, Lite, I shall see to it that 
your check arrives first thing Monday morning.  That is, of course, if you
don't end up spending it all first in Monte Carlo."
    "You truly think he'll go there?" asked Cynical Lass, as the Prof called 
Legion headquarters on our communication.thingee.
    "Of course," the Prof said.  "Only a compulsive gambler like Color-Error
Lad would have risked telling us every aspect of his plan without having 
placed us in a death-trap, since every villain worth his or her salt knows 
henchmen are thoroughly unreliable as executioners.  I do not believe the
varlet could resist keeping his appointment with fate in Monaco, even if
indeed, that 'twere his design.  Multi-Tasking Man, make that three to beam
    Moments later, the three of us were strolling along a beach in Monaco.
The Prof and I sported tuxes, while Cynical Lass wore the type of low-cut,
tight fitting cocktail dress all super-heroines are required to wear at least
once in their career, according to some ancient and honorable by-law.
    "How the hell am I supposed to fight in this thing?" Cynical Lass 
    "Skewer the bad guys with a sequin," I suggested.  "At least your feet
aren't killing you.  I don't think I've worn dress shoes since Sig.Lad's
    "Remember," the Prof interjected, "Color-Error Lad could be anywhere,
disguised as anyone.  Keep yourselves in a constant state of alert, and do
what you can not to attract undue attention to yourselves."
    "In this dress?" Cynical Lass said.  "What am I supposed to do, put
detour signs around my cleavage?"
    "You realize, of course, that this advice is coming from a man who glows
in the dark and can be detected at a range of 10 square miles with a geiger
counter," I replied.
    Cynical Lass was about to respond, but it was too late.  We were inside.
The entire place was filled with people dressed like we were, bursting with
the intoxication that money, danger, and lots and lots of gorgeous women with
French accents inevitably bring.  Many of them were gathered around a 
roulette wheel in the far corner of the room, shaded by potted palms, the
silhouettes of slot machines, and a number of large hulking neckless men.
    Fortunately, I had remembered to bring the Universal Translator I had
"borrowed" from Kid Kirby some time ago to get me through my French mid-term.
    "Red, 17," said a tall thin man with a thick moustache.  "Mon dieu!  A
winner again!"
    The "winner" he addressed was a short, olive-skinned man with a grey
suit and a fez.  It took me less than a moment to recognize his build as that
of Color-Error Lad.
    "Prof, that's him," I whispered.  "He must be changing the color of the
slot the ball lands in to make sure he wins every time!"
    "Ingenious," the Prof whispered back.  "We shall have to defeat our 
enemy on his own field."
    So saying, the Prof turned his wrist ever so slightly toward the roulette
table, pressing a small button on his digital watch just as the ball neared
the numbered slot Color-Error Lad had chosen.  With a slight waver, the ball
landed in the next slot over.
    No one but Color-Error Lad seemed the slightest bit perturbed by this 
turn of events.  The villain whirled, and paled as the three of us approached
the table.  
    "Mr. Paprika, please," I said to a passing waitress.  "Shaken, not
    "Would you gentlemen mind coming this way?" asked one of the large, 
oxlike men surrounding the table, selecting out myself, the Prof and Color-
Error Lad.  Cynical Lass had already been surrounded by a flock of admirers
who had mistaken her for a a 'Baywatch' cast member.  "The House would like
to speak with you."
    "I...have nothing to say," stammered Color-Error Lad.  "I have never seen
these men before..."
    "Please," said our guide, raising one burly paw.  "If you would kindly
follow me."
    Doing as we were told, we passed through a maze of corridors, passages,
and anterooms, stopping finally in a poorly-lit chamber where the House,
steeped in shadow, sat at the far side of the room.
    "I do not believe I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance," the 
House said.
    "Wong," the Prof said.  "Theodore Wong."
    "He's Easily-Discovered Man," Color-Error Lad said.  "And the other one
is Easily-Discovered Man Lite.  They've come here to make trouble."
    "Oh, sure," I said.  "We spoil one game of roulette, and we're 'making
trouble.'  You try to become master of the world, and you're 'minding your
own business.'  The double standard in this business always kills me."
    "Enough," said the figure, casting one long white hand into the sunlight.
"I am no longer interested in playing around with a bunch of grown men in
silly underwear -- though it was such fun, back in the old days.  Nor have I
given you any new reason to stick your noses up my ante.  Get it?  Never
mind, you weren't there.  Heh-heh."
    The figure leaned closer, close enough that the spaghetti strands of 
light through the blinded windows illuminated the long white bone of his
cheek, the thick green tangle of his hair.  
    "What really ticks me off, though," said the House, his voice growing 
ever higher, "is when someone in my own business tries to rip me off.  I 
mean, really, Color-Error Lad, did you truly think I wouldn't notice the old
switcheroo at the roulette table?  You shouldn't have colored outside the 
lines, you know.  That's very, very bad."
    "I'm sorry," said Color-Error Lad, backing away as the figure left his
seat at the far end of the room.  "I'll give back all the money I..."
    "Of course you will," said the figure, throwing his arms suddenly about
Color-Error Lad's neck.  "Now let's kiss and make up."
    With that, the figure planted a passionate liplock on Color-Error Lad's
lips, backing away suddenly as those lips puckered upward in a grin.
    "There we are," the Injoker said.  "Friends again, 'til the end.  Which
in your case should be another two minutes or so.  Take a lesson, here, my
easily-discolored pair: never rob another man's root-barn, and always rinse
off your poison lipstick before going on a date."
    Color-Error Lad slumped against the chamber walls, his body rocked by
spasms of laughter, his face fixed forever in a clownlike grimace.
    "Now get out of here," the Injoker said.  "And tell all my friends in
Net.ropolis I still smile every time I think of them."
    The floor opened, and with a sudden swoosh the Prof and I were outside 
the Injoker's casino and lying on the beach next to Cynical Lass.
    "You get thrown out too?" I asked.
    "Of course not," she said.  "I won seven thousand francs and came out
here for a smoke.  What happened to Color-Error Lad?"
    "He cashed in his chips," I said.  "The joker who runs this place didn't
think too much of his trick with the roulette wheel.  The world will have to
find some other demogogue to channel its corruption."
    "Alas, that is too true," lamented the Prof.  "For evil is like a weed:
cut off its head in one place, and seven others spring up around it."
    "Well, I'm glad to see those night classes at the 'Unfunny Angst-Men
School of Dialogue' have paid off so well," Cynical Lass replied.  "So what
do you two heroes do when you're not out saving the universe from the super-
villain equivalent of Ted Turner?"
    "I believe Lite can answer that better than...Lite?  What has so captured
your attention, my mesmerized man-at-arms?"
    "It's her, Prof!  Over there on the other side of the beach!  It couldn't
be anyone but her!"
    "Let me guess," Cynical Lass said.  "Cindy Crawford?  Pamela Lee?"
    "No," I said.  "Superconductor.  The woman who died to save my life."
    Color-Error Lad and the Injoker are public domain, more or less.  
Doctor Stomper and Kid Recap appear against their will.  We all know the Doc
would never drink before surgery.  All other characters (c) the author.
    "Comedy is the last refuge of the nonconformist mind."
                --Gilbert Seldes

From: zagyg at io.com (Scott Johnson)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative,alt.comics.lnh
Subject: LNH: Unlikely Aliens #18: "Crossover" (The Final BN.V Installment!)
Date: 22 Sep 1995 04:50:33 GMT

And now, after many delays, the comic you've all been waiting for - well, 
okay, the comic some of you have been waiting for - oh, let's just admit 
it's the comic a handful of you, including the one who needs to write the 
TEB, have been waiting for...

                             Unlikely Aliens #18
                       "Jusenkyo Prism Power, Sanjou!"
                  The Ink and Paint Conspiracy, Part 2 of 2
The final wholly-owned subsidiary of the Employee-Empowered, Paradigm-Shifted,
  Individual-Ownership, Downsized, Streamlined, Reinvigorated Crimes of the
                         Brotherhood of Net.Villains

[The cover is an homage to more anime and manga than you can count - 
basically elements from just about every anime and manga ever to exist, 
in any genre, whirling around in a mass of chaos.  In the center, looking 
confused, are the Unlikely Aliens, although they seem to be dressed as 
the Ranma characters for some odd reason.]

     Luka strolled into Tom's Diner casually.  The rain had let up 
briefly, and she'd taken the opportunity to get out of the house and 
maybe get something to drink.  She'd taken to Tom's, despite the fact 
that it was vastly out of character for your average Goth, simply because 
a friend of hers had gotten a summer job waitressing there, and it was 
nice to have an occasional chat and a cup of coffee without adults 
getting all uptight about her age.
     "Hey, Luka!  Have a seat - be right with you."  Luka nodded to her 
friend as she took a stool at the counter.  Mehrzad was a couple of years 
older than Luka, but they'd been friends for years now, to the extent 
that Luka had been around when she'd decided her real name was infernally 
boring, and thus unofficially changed it to Mehrzad Ziafarsanji - a name 
she deemed sufficiently mysterious and exotic to fit her personality.  It 
didn't help, though, that her paychecks, her learner's permit, and her 
general appearance all labeled her forever as the hopelessly bland Emily 
     Her burden of trays disposed of, Mehrzad grabbed a seat next to 
Luka, glancing at her with an appraising eye.  "Killer shades.  Lemme 
guess - walked into that door again?"
     Luka shrugged.  "I keep on asking the old man to fix the spring, or 
at least move the coathook to some position slightly less likely to hit 
me in the eye when it slams shut, but..."  She shrugged again.  "Maybe 
after the next royalty check comes in or something."
     "Maybe."  Mehrzad was obviously not quite satisfied at the answer, 
but decided to let it drop.  Besides, something more important came to 
mind.  "Oh, I've just got to tell you.  You'll never guess who's here."
     "Elvis, Hendrix and Kurt Cobain on their comeback tour?"
     "Morbid, Lukes, really morbid.  Nah, it's those superheroes you're 
always so hyped about.  The Unclear Aliens or whatever."
     "I'm so sure.  Like the Un_likely_ Aliens would show up here by 
chance the exact same day I drop by for coffee.  Nice try, but get the 
name right next time, okay, Mehr?"
     Mehrzad shrugged as she stood.  "If you say so.  I'd recommend 
taking a peek at booth six before you jump to any conclusions, though."
     Luka, rolling her eyes, glanced over in the general direction of the 
end of the diner with booth six.  Her first thought was that it was kind 
of dark over there.  Her next thought was that the tall guy sitting at 
the booth facing away from her probably ought to lose the fake cat ears.  
Only with the third thought did it register that booth six contained a 
black-haired girl with clear plastic shades, a guy in patchwork armor, 
someone tall, muscular and rather feline, a redhead with a raven on his 
shoulder, a guy with technicolor hair, and something hidden in a shadow a 
lot deeper than you'd expect a restaurant booth to have.  Except for the 
technicolor hair guy, they looked quite familiar.  They ought to - she 
had spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months becoming 
rather intimately familiar with their descriptions.
     "Oh.  My.  Ghod.  It's... it's actually *them*."
     Mehrzad rolled her eyes, feigning shock.  "No, really?  I * never* 
would have guessed.  I could have sworn it was some other bunch of 
weirdos that just _looked_ like them.  I'm _so_ shocked."  She moved off 
towards the kitchen.  "Talk to you in a minute - try not to drool all 
over yourself while I'm gone, okay?"
     Luka, for her part, was in something of a state of awe.  The 
Unlikely Aliens.  There.  About ten, fifteen feet in front of her.  
Drinking coffee (well, a couple were drinking water, but the general idea 
stood).  Wow.
     Quite frankly, a lot of people would be puzzled by the fact that she 
was so in awe of a group of people who were, quite frankly, lower-tier 
net.heroes.  There were quite a few heroes that it would be 
understandable to be impressed with - primarily members of the Legion, 
the creme de la creme of the spandex set.  And quite a lot of generally 
reasonable people were afraid of or nervous around heroes in general - 
after all, when you're prone to getting stomped on by Vali/dev, people 
tend to stay well out of the footprint radius.  However, getting mildly 
obsessed about a group of heroes who haven't really done much over the 
course of their careers is considered slightly odd by most of the 
population of Net.ropolis.
     Luka knew that, but quite frankly didn't care.  Okay, so up until 
last fall she'd been mostly of the opinion that they were boring, 
self-important blowhards who could all just get lost without 
significantly harming anything, but this was different somehow.  (Just 
don't ask her to explain exactly why.)
     In any case, to move from general cases to the specific, Luka was 
stunned by these specific heroes being in this specific diner at this 
specific time.  She tried to unobtrusively move a bit closer.  If she 
could just overhear what they were talking about...

     "...think I understand most of the plan," Zagyg agreed.  "But why 
the costumes?"
     "Demented Designer," Manga Man replied.  "He can transform your 
outfits into the most hideous costumes imaginable - and I doubt that 
you'd like losing these interesting clothes, ne?"  He chuckled.  "And, in 
any case, I work best in a... familiar environment, shall we say?  
They'll be an aid to that."
     "Works for me," Wyrd commented.  "Although I gotta say it's kinda 
odd that you just appear out of the blue and offer to help us - I've 
gotten a bit wary about that sort of thing, you know.  Why are you doing 
this, anyway?"
     "Much the same reason you are, I believe.  I consider myself an 
otaku among otaku - the proverbial Otaking, if you would - and to see 
such a travesty performed grates against every instinct within me.  I 
wish only to return control of the anime and manga to their proper 
owners, so that they may be kept pristine, and so that otaku across the 
world can enjoy them in their original form."
     "Such noble goals," Ur-Grue replied dryly.  "What, not even the 
barest hint of self-interest?  How surprising."
     "Oh, I admit that the outcome of this sequence of events matters a 
great deal to me personally.  After all, I'll have to deal with whatever 
comes of this - and truly, living with the travesty of a 'comic' these 
bakayarou are likely to come up with would be sheer torture to one of my 
sensibilities."  He shrugged.  "It may seem chancy to place your trust in 
a total stranger, I will be the first to acknowledge.  But considering 
it's either trust me or barge into Mangle without a plan or support, I'd 
say your choice is clear."
     There was a brief silence.  Finally, Wyrd spoke.  "Well, every 
instinct in me is screaming against this, but I'd have to say we go for 
it," she opined.  "This is way too crucial to risk glitching, and we'll 
probably need all the help we can get if this 'Brotherhood' is anywhere 
near as bad as he's saying."  She cast a sidelong glance at Manga Man.  
"Besides, if he does twedge on us, it's five-to-one odds, before you 
count the Brotherhood.  I'd say we can risk it... this time."
     "An excellent decision," Manga Man grinned.  "Now, if there are no 
further questions...?"
     The group slowly filed out of the restaurant, led by Manga Man, 
heading back towards the general area of the Mangle Streamlining 
offices.  Zagyg, the last to go, hesitated at the last moment, checked 
his belt pouch, winced slightly, and then tossed a few coins onto the 
table and hurried after the others.
     Mehrzad looked disgustedly at the coins as she cleared the table.  
"Will you look at this, Lukes?" she griped as she passed by the spot 
where Luka was still blankly staring out the door after the group.  "Four 
coffees, two waters, and a bowl of sesame seeds for the bird, and they 
skip out without paying!  All I got were a couple of utterly weird coins 
- maybe gold or something, but there's no way I'm gonna be able to 
explain this to Tom."
     Luka blinked, staring at the coins for a moment, then fumbled with 
her gothically-cool (naturally) black mini-purse attached to her belt.  
Stuff from another universe, used by the Unlikely Aliens, actually having 
_belonged_ to Zagyg...  There was no way she was going to let this 
opportunity slip by.
     "Mehr - I'll tell you what.  I'll buy the coins off you for whatever 
they owed you for the meal plus a double-sized tip, okay?  That way your 
boss gets his cash, you get a nice profit, and I get the coins, and 
everyone goes home cool."
     "You're a lifesaver, Lukes."
     "Hey, anything for my 'drooling obsession,' you know?" Luka grinned 
as she counted up the money.  Privately, her head was awhirl with 
speculation.  'Brotherhood.'  Maybe they were going up against that 
'Brotherhood of Net.Villains' or whatever they were called?  And they'd 
teamed up with this new guy, Otaking or something.  This was way cool 
news, and, of course, what'd happen next was anyone's guess.
     Luka examined the coins closely, with intense interest, looking at 
the embossments, the textures, the logos, the mild discolorations, etc. 
with the near-fanatical intensity of someone going after utterly useless 
trivia about their favorite subjects.  (All of you who know, for 
instance, what FIRRIB or FIBRIR stands for will know exactly what I 
mean.)  This was shaping up to be an interesting day...


     "So, which voices do you want to do today?"
     Plotchopper shuffled through the 'scripts' on his desk, which could 
only be called that because they featured words vaguely matching the lip 
movements of the characters on-screen.  "Doesn't matter, really - just 
split them up about evenly between us and we're set.  Although I do think 
you do a better falsetto than I do."
     "Which means you should get most of the female roles," Demented 
Designer replied.
     "Of course."  Plotchopper grinned momentarily as he set most of the 
scripts next to the globe on his desk.  "You know, I'd say that things 
are working out surprisingly well for us, all things considered.  I 
really think this might actually work out.  And afterwards... well, today 
Japanimation, tomorrow, maybe network television and next Friday, the world?"
     "Leaving the weekend free," Demented Designer mused as he stared out 
the large window looking onto the factory floor below.  "I like it."  He 
contemplatively observed the activity below - the plastic molding 
machines turning out dirt-cheap thin plastic toys, the printing presses 
of various sorts making packaging and advertising, the high-speed 
multi-destination VCRs turning out tapes to be distributed to stations 
and sold to kids at obscene profit margins, the giant robot carefully 
entering through one of the loading bays, the goons tending to the 
various bits of machinery...
     He paused.  There was something odd.  He couldn't quite put his 
finger on it, but something wasn't right on the factory floor.  He 
frowned contemplatively, scanning back over the machines, the copiers, 
the robot, the workers...
     Aha!  That was it.  The workers were spending entirely too much time 
by the coffee machine.  He'd have to make a note to put a stop to it - or 
better yet, set it up to be 'Out of Order.'  No sense in letting the 
hired help get too comfortable, after all.
     Satisfied, he turned back toward Plotchopper, only to find him 
pressed up against the eastern wall.  He gestured towards Demented 
Designer.  "Listen.  Do you hear that?"
     Demented Designer hesitated.  Now that he was actually listening, 
there was a sort of 'thump-*crash*, thump-*crash*' noise repeating from 
somewhere else in the building.  Somewhere beyond the wall Plotchopper 
was listening to, in fact.  And it was getting closer.
     "Offhand, I'd say we've got either rats or net.heroes."
     "What, you mean there's a difference?" Plotchopper grinned.
     "Sure - rats are easier to clean up after."
     Plotchopper laughed as he walked over to the intercom.  "I'll have 
to remember that one."  He switched on the intercom.  "All available 
strike teams report to the main office.  Activate Project S-Ko."  He 
switched it off and moved into position.
     "Standard plan?"
     "Yep.  You mess with their clothes, I mess with their minds, and the 
troops pound them to a pulp.  Who knows?  It might even work this time."
     The two of them stood there, poised in the middle of the office, 
facing towards the ever-growing sound of impromptu heavy demolitions, 
ready to give the invading hero the disorientation of his life the moment 
he burst through the wall.
     [At this point, a description of the office would seem in order, as 
it's about to become the site of a rather large battle.  It's fairly 
large, with only two large hardwood desks positioned in the middle of the 
room, facing the picture window on the north wall.  One (Plotchopper's) 
is scattered with his 'scripts,' while the other (Demented Designer's) 
has various toys, costumes, and blueprints spread across it.  The south 
wall holds the main door to the halls and offices beyond, while the east 
and west walls are blank, with the muffled ruckus coming from the eastern 
one.  In the northwest corner, Plotchopper has set up his 'editing desk,' 
with a stack of anime videos, and his custom splicer, set up upon it.  
Several shelves along all four walls hold rows of anime videos or manga 
compilations.  The discolored rectangle of ceiling above the door will be 
ignored for now.]
     The exploding wall wasn't exactly unexpected.  The loud cry was 
acceptable.  And the fact that it was an umbrella actually causing the 
damage, and that it dissolved into pixels moments afterwards, could have 
been handled.
     However, the fact that the destruction had happened *behind* the 
villains caught them completely off-guard.  Poor foresight on their 
parts, perhaps, but  such things happen.  Of course, the problem only 
grew when they paused to gawk  at the figure standing in the 
rubble-strewn hole.  Easily well over six feet tall, with four arms in an 
unthreatening but ready pose, wearing an odd four-armed mustard yellow 
tunic, black pants, and a black-and-yellow bandanna wrapped around his 
head just below his catlike ears.  Come to think of it, most of the rest 
of him was really rather catlike, too.
     Plotchopper and Demented Designer looked at each other for a moment, 
then looked back at the intruder.  Both wracked their brains desperately 
to try and identify this guy from the Legion roster or any other reports 
they'd heard of.  Both came up blank - it was blatantly obvious that this 
wasn't Panta, and there were no other real references to felinoid heroes 
they could recall.
     Plotchopper cleared his throat.  "New around here, are you?"
     *Now* the east wall exploded, causing the two villains to whirl 
around again to the spot where Wyrd stood in the kinetic-orb-induced 
debris.  She, too, was dressed strangely - a loose purple shirt in an 
ornate, vaguely Chinese style, with matching leggings and slippers.  Her 
hair was bound up into two small buns, although there was still a fair 
amount left hanging free, and a pair of small bell-like ornaments were 
bound into the bottom front locks.
     "Nihao!" she grinned cheerfully.
     Manga Man's mech chose that moment to drive a fist through the 
window, causing the villains to whirl once again and watch the robot's 
head and shoulders brought themselves level to the window, with the three 
remaining Unlikely Aliens standing on conveniently-placed horizontal 
surfaces around the shoulders.  Zagyg wore a red Chinese shirt with 
wooden ties in front and a pair of black pants and shoes, with his hair 
tied back into a short pigtail.  Pack Rat wore some rather strange robes 
with odd diamond patterns, along with a pair of targeting lenses that 
made him look like he wore glasses similar to those Skyrunner, perched on 
his shoulder and looking annoyed, also wore.  If Ur-Grue was costumed at 
all, it was concealed in the shadows around him, something for which he 
would probably be eternally grateful.
     Demented Designer blinked.  "Who *are* you?" he asked irritatedly.
     Zagyg looked down at him, attempting to look impassive.  "Unlikely 
Aliens," he replied in his best imitation of Sylia Stingray in BGC #1 
(which wasn't all that good, considering that he was the wrong gender, 
speaking the wrong language, saying something almost completely 
different, and hadn't in fact seen the episode in question, or any of BGC 
for that matter.  In fact, it was just a bizarre coincidence that he'd 
stumbled across a parallel situation to that in one of the OAVs.  Either 
that or the author is really stretching for his humor but getting tangled 
in the logic of the situation.  Or it's an offshoot of Manga Man's 
abilities.  Your choice.)
     "And of course you recognize me, ne?" came a slightly amused voice 
from within the robot.
     "Manga Man," Plotchopper growled.  "I should have guessed that this 
caper would get your attention.  I don't suppose a plea based on our 
having worked together on a number of multi-villain epics will gain your 
     "Didn't think so."
     In his shadows, Ur-Grue turned slightly towards the mecha's cockpit 
glass.  "Multi-villain epics?  Why do I somehow suspect that you have 
been less than completely forthcoming to us about your past?" he asked 
     "Later," Manga Man whispered back.  "Now... Unlikely Aliens, sanjou!"
     The room whirled into action.  The three on the mech leapt into the 
room as Wyrd charged Demented Designer, Hybrid stepped towards 
Plotchopper, programming, and Manga Man leveled some rather large guns at 
the office.
     "Looks like the obligatory fight scene," Demented Designer commented.
     "At last," Plotchopper replied.  "And about time, too."  He gestured 
at Hybrid, who immediately staggered in his tracks as the full 
discontinuity of io.iou's posts suddenly flooded his brain.  Why was Toko 
and Dezz's final exam taking all of summer vacation to get out?  Where 
did the B-Team Rangers Movie come relative to Anime Freegate?  And how 
long would Sera Monogatari drag on anyway, especially with the revamped 
rec.arts.anime.stories version of it (renamed _Bishoujo Senshi Sailor 
Comet Kohoutek_) so long-promised?  He reeled, trying to make sense of it 
all (always a mistake where Illuminati University was concerned.)
     Demented Designer, in the meantime, was focused on Wyrd.  That was 
an interesting outfit she had on, he reflected, but it could use some 
work.  He concentrated on it.  Let's see...  simplify the shirt 
design...  give it a sort of modified floral pattern...  change the color 
a bit...  shorten it a great deal...  get rid of the sash or belt or 
whatever it was...  oh, yes, and lose the pants.
     Wyrd stumbled as she felt a sudden draft around her legs.  Looking 
down, she realized two things.  One, she was wearing a hideous paisley 
version of Shampoo's shirt/minidress outfit.  Two, if she stood 
absolutely rock-still, not moving a muscle, there was a slim chance that 
nobody would be able to see up the 'skirt' (if you could call it that) of 
the aforementioned outfit.  She wouldn't bet on it, though.
     She froze for a moment.  Then her face contorted with rage.  
"HENTAI!" she shouted as she tried futilely to tug down the hem with one 
hand and leveled the other at Demented Designer, who began immediately to 
see that this tactic might not have been such a good idea.
     Plotchopper turned towards the window, ignoring the frantic dodging, 
screaming and explosions off to one side.  "A bit unfair, don't you 
think?  I mean, you outnumber us six to two."
     "Seven if you count the raven," Skyrunner commented as he scratched 
at the collar and bow-tie he wore.  "And hey, all's fair in anime and 
war, y'know?  Nothing disgraceful about there being more of us than of you."
     "My sentiments exactly," Plotchopper grinned.  "So glad you agree 
with me."  The sounds of hordes of running feet were suddenly audible, 
getting closer to the office.
     "Great, goons," Skyrunner grumbled.  "And lots of 'em, too."
     "Well, it could be worse," Zagyg commented.  "It could be Death 
Commandos (tm).  Or ninja, they're always good for a challenge."
     The door was flung open suddenly.  "Funny you should say that," the 
lead ninja interjected.
     Skyrunner groaned.  "Ninja.  Why does it always have to be ninja?"
     "I'm currently opting for either 'sheer luck' or 'a malicious fate,' 
myself," Pack Rat offered as more hordes of ninja swarmed in through the 
holes in the walls and up the mecha.
     "Actually, in this case, we thought we'd get in the spirit of things 
by getting some appropriate talent from the goon department," Plotchopper 
     "Could we cease the mindless prattling and get on with the 
confrontation?" Ur-Grue asked impatiently.
     And thus, the massive clash began, with each Unlikely Alien battling 
dozens of ninja (even more in Manga Man's case), being saved from defeat 
only by their superior skill, their great powers, and their foes' utter 
lack of any of the much-vaunted ninjitsu abilities one would expect from 
them, such as more than a bare modicum of martial arts skills and a grasp 
of tactics beyond the dogpile.
     Of course, there were a few exceptions.  Most of them found 
themselves in close personal combat with one of the Aliens at one time or 
another, and, in true comic book fashion, ended up in long, engaging 
dialogues with them.  Some of the more intriguing follow, for your 
     "It's you again, isn't it?  The girl we were to guard back with the 
     Wyrd blinked at the speaking ninja.  Sure enough, it was the same 
one who'd been taking orders from Purl back there.  "Yeah.  And you're, 
what was it, Daremo?"
     The ninja nodded as he parried one of her kinetic spheres.  
"Correct.  Quite a coincidence meeting you here again, isn't it?"
     "I'll say."  She dodged a shuriken as she flipped a ninja extra over 
her shoulder.  "What are you doing here?"
     "Well, after our employment with the Sideshow was, shall we say, 
terminated by your group - nice work there, by the way - we decided to 
sign up with the Brotherhood of Net.Villains' manpower department.  After 
all, it's so hard for a ninja clan to find decent employment nowadays.  
So, eventually, Plotchopper and Demented Designer tapped us to work on 
this assignment, and here we are.  How about you?"
     "Oh, the usual.  Basic moral outrage at their evil scheme, a vaguely 
personal stake in the form of a favored art form, you know the drill."
     "Quite well," Daremo nodded.  "I hope you'll realize there's nothing 
personal in all this - a job's a job, after all, and you seem like a 
decent enough person, aside from your rather revealing attire."  Wyrd 
grumbled and resolved again to make Demented Designer seriously hurt 
before all this was over.  "So, no hard feelings for our repeated 
assaults on your person?"
     "Not as long as you don't have any when I clobber you."
     "Why, of course not."
     "Much obliged."  She proceeded to hammer him with a launched pair of 
sonic balls, followed by an electrical shock to his blade when he parried 
that, knocking him down for the count.
      Zagyg wasn't finding the competition to be much challenge, either.  
In point of fact, he hadn't yet unsheathed his rapier or unshouldered his 
synthesizer, relying only on what little unarmed self-defense training 
he'd learned throughout his adventuring career.  In this particular case, 
it was serving him quite well, right up to the point where a young female 
ninja leapt in, deflected his punches, hammered him with a chop to the 
neck, and flipped him into the wall.
     "You're quite good," Zagyg observed as he stood.
     "Arigatou," Kunoichi replied casually, resting her hand on the hilt 
of her ninja-to (short, straight, single-edged sword primarily used by 
ninja, for those of you not up on your Japanese weaponry).  "I have 
practiced, you know."
     "Well, yes, but it's gratifying to see that, even in a universe that 
looks to be a parody of superhero comics in general, not every female 
ninja is a clone of Psylocke."
     She grimaced at that.  "Please.  True ninja have far more variety 
than that horrid 'nimbo' stereotype."
     "Ninja bimbo.  From the rec.arts.comics FAQ."
     "But seriously, you can find far more variety than that just in the 
ninja in this room alone.  To be frank, if a nimbo came around here, I 
think we'd snub her on general principle.  Or attack her ferociously for 
defaming our image; I'm not sure which."
     Zagyg took a moment out to glance around the room.  It was true that 
there were actually quite a few different varieties of ninja there.  All 
wore black, of course, but some wore grey as well, and a fair number had 
individual bandannas or headbands or other adornments in red, blue, or 
even white, some with inspirational kanji printed on them.  Some wore 
their outfits skin-tight, while others opted for looser gear that allowed 
for more freedom of movement.  Some wore cowls, others wore their hair - 
which came in a wide variety of colors and styles - loose.  Faces were 
left uncovered, or covered with a nose and mouth mask, or covered 
completely, with only eyeholes or a visor to see out of.  Some fought 
with classical ninja weapons, others with more obscure or atypical types, 
such as manriki-gusari or chopsticks, and still others with bare (or 
covered) hands and feet.  All in all, for a supposedly faceless group of 
extras, they were rather impressive.
     "I can certainly see your point," Zagyg commented.  "Still, I fear 
there's little either of us can do to counteract the stereotypes of a 
significant subset of a generation."
     "True.  Sorry for venting; I guess I just wanted to get that off my 
chest.  Well, that, and get you distracted enough to do this."
     With that, she scooped the globe (complete with tacks marking the 
locations of the anime corporations Mangle had ruthlessly exploited) off 
of Plotchopper's desk and threw it towards Zagyg-
     -who drew his rapier and slashed the incoming globe in one smooth, 
fluid motion, causing the cleanly-separated halves to veer off and knock 
out two ninja who had been coming at him from either side.
     Kunoichi raised an eyebrow.  "Intriguing.  You know 'iai-do' - the 
'lightning draw.'"
     "Indeed," Zagyg smiled.  "I've found it has its uses beyond the 
original intent of killing your enemy while unsheathing your sword."  He 
abruptly lunged, leading with a Thibault attack into Musashi's 'Way of 
Flowing Water.'
     That was the plan, anyway.  Halfway through the lunge, a flash of 
steel intercepted his blade, throwing off his stride and nearly disarming 
him - only long training allowed him keep his grip.
     Kunoichi smiled beneath her mask as she brought the ninja-to back 
from the end of her iai-do arc.  "So have I."
     Zagyg smiled again as he brought his rapier back into position.  At 
long last, a skilled opponent in the ways of bladed combat.  This could 
be truly interesting.
     Meanwhile, Ur-Grue was having a rather different reaction to his 
opponent.  "Will you kindly be quiet before I forget my self-restraint 
and proceed to shred you as you so rightly deserve?"
     "Alas, I fear that my loquaciousness is an unavoidable side-effect 
of this most unworthy one's rather poorly stereotyped personality, and 
that this unfortunate verbosity which so grates on this one's honored 
foe's nerves is an effect neither entirely unforeseen nor unwanted, and 
as such, it would be most importune of this one to cease the 
aforementioned patterns of dialogue at your most worthy objections.  Or, 
to put it more simply - tough luck, bub."  Ur-Grue growled and pressed 
     "I see you have studied your Agrippa," Kunoichi commented, vaulting 
over Plotchopper's desk.
     "I find it useful against Silver Midnight bladework such as your 
own," Zagyg replied, grabbing a croquet-style mallet from Demented 
Designer's desk and parrying with it.  "Masterful feint, by the way." 
     Pack Rat tapped on the side of his head, fiddling with the 
connections to the targeting lenses he'd installed for this little 
jaunt.  Unfortunately, they stubbornly refused to spontaneously repair 
themselves.  About halfway through the fight, they'd suddenly suffered a 
massive system error and shut down, taking 93% of his visual systems with 
them.  Or, in other words, he was now nearly blind and mildly annoyed by it.
     Unfortunately, of course, a fair number of his weapons relied on 
good aim, or at least a confidence he wasn't pointing them in the general 
direction of a teammate, and most of those that didn't weren't exactly 
the healthiest to use in enclosed spaces.  The stun gas he could handle, 
but the others couldn't, and he really didn't want to be on-hand when the 
Megaminibomb (tm) went off.
     He pulled a handful of electro-caltrops from his sleeve, and looked 
around blearily, trying to figure out whether that large black shape to 
the side was a passel of charging ninja or just the wall.
     As it turned out, it was neither.
     Almost everyone in the room turned, impressed, as the hydraulic 
lifts lowered a section of ceiling near the door.  Atop the platform was 
a figure Robgoblin would have been proud of - large body, oversized metal 
limbs, and a proportionately small head - although he'd likely have 
thought it'd look better on a male.
     Plotchopper and Demented Designer momentarily broke off their battle 
of wills with Manga Man (who was resisting their powers, claiming that in 
some manga, plot continuity was near-irrelevant, and that many mecha 
designs had been much weirder than those Designer was warping his into) 
to gloat.
     "Ha!  Now you fools are finished!" Plotchopper ranted.  "Behold, the 
ultimate product of my ingenuity and my partner's design skill, the final 
result of our Project S-ko!  Behold: the cyberninja!"
     "Each limb is rated at over one ton of crushing strength, and 
equipped with numerous in-line weapons: laser cannons, electrical grip, 
gas charges, and more!" Demented Designer continued.  "Furthermore, she 
has been equipped with the latest in sensory enhancement packages - the 
best the supervillain black market can buy.  She is truly a marvel of 
modern design."
     "Now - Saibaa, attack!"
     There was a long pause.  Nobody moved.  Then, the cyberninja spoke 
in a slightly frustrated voice.
     "Um, boss, I think you forgot one thing.  How am I supposed to reach 
the on switch with my arms turned off like this?"
     There was an even longer pause.  Then Plotchopper turned to Demented 
Designer.  "You built an ON SWITCH into a CYBORG?!?"
     Demented Designer shrugged sheepishly.  "I thought it would look 
     "If we get out of this alive, remind me to hit you.  Hard."
     Pack Rat studied the cyberninja for a moment.  Then, casually, with 
his arms folded behind his back, he swept one foot around and kicked the 
legs out from under the cyberninja.
     "Why, she's no fun; she fell right over," he commented.
     "I suppose it wouldn't do me any good to say that I've fallen and I 
can't get up?"
     "Not much, no."
     Plotchopper and Demented Designer turned back to Manga Man.  "All 
right," Demented Designer shot, "since you've resisted my best up until 
now, I've got no choice."  He gestured towards Manga Man's mech, 
projecting the full strength of his redesigning ability towards it, 
straining with the effort.  "Feel the focused totality of my power!  
Watch, as your precious mech becomes..."
     The power swirled, ebbed and suddenly surged in on the giant robot, 
twisting it, warping its form, and finally twisting it into...
     "KYAAAAA!"  Manga Man frantically scrambled to yank at the eject 
lever, shattering the cockpit in a shower of glittering shards and 
sending him flying out of the horrendously *American* display of 
tackiness.  Fortunately, he managed to calm himself down in mid-flight, 
and tucked and rolled to land lightly on his feet in front of the two 
gaijin villains.
     "Sure *pant* showed you *wheeze*, didn't we? *gasp*" Demented 
Designer managed, exhausted from the effort of making such a huge 
     "Without your mecha you're helpless," Plotchopper gloated.  "Give 
yourself up now, and we might even let your henchmen go without having 
the ninja beat them up too much."
     "Henchmen?" Skyrunner squawked indignantly.  "The nerve!  We're 
nothing of the - awk!"  He was quickly stifled as a late-arriving ninja 
decided he didn't like talking birds.
     "Heh heh heh heh heh..."  Manga Man slowly grinned - not an amused 
grin, not even a sinister grin, but the sort of grin that makes most 
reasonable people want to get out of the immediate area fast, preferably 
to some other continent.  "Baka!  You show the typical American ignorance 
towards manga.  You look at it and see only the giant robots and the 
martial arts.  But there is more, oh so much more..."
     He made a sweeping gesture encompassing the office, the video tapes 
being chopped into syndication, the anime-inspired merchandise, the 
Aliens' costumes, and, most significantly, the shelves of manga that the 
pair had kept around to eventually chop up and paste into amusing new 
configurations.  "But here, in a domain devoted to the source of my 
power, no matter how dark and twisted you have made it, my power is 
greater than it has ever been before.  Now, feel the wrath of those you 
have mangled.  Feel the diversity of that which you have ignored.
     "Feel the power of MANGA!"
     He slammed down a tankoubon (sort of like a Japanese graphic novel) 
bearing a picture of a baseball player in the midst of a swing onto a 
desk.  "Sports manga!"
     Plotchopper heard the *crack* of horsehide on wood from behind him, 
and turned just in time to catch a baseball right between the eyes.  He 
staggered back a few steps, then slumped melodramatically to the floor.
     "Kocchi!  Daijobu ka?" a male voice called out.  Blearily, he could 
see the forms of baseball players gathered around him, staring at him 
     "<He has to be all right!>" one of them said in Japanese.  "<Without 
the coach, we'd going to lose the big game - and that just can't happen!  
Namijiro needs the prize money to pay for his wife's appendectomy, and 
Hebereke stupidly bet his life's fortune on the game, and little 
Kiko-chan would be heartbroken if her daddy lost...>"
     Plotchopper struggled to get back up.  He couldn't give in now - 
everyone was counting on him - he had to get back into the game -
     Hold it...
     The phantoms vanished from his sight as he cleared his mind and 
staggered to his feet.  His head felt like it was on the verge of 
splitting in two and getting in a messy divorce settlement, but at least 
he knew where he was now.  He glared at Manga Man, trying to bring his 
power back into play...
     *Slam!*  "Horror manga!"
     But was distracted by the sight of an ethereally beautiful young 
girl, dressed in a snow-white kimono, approaching Demented Designer 
through the mists.  Slowly, she took his unresisting head in her hands, 
and lowered her mouth towards his neck...
     Only to break off in a sudden burst of confusion as Plotchopper hit 
her with a quick jolt of his power.  Demented Designer, freed of his 
trance, quickly changed her kimono into a showgirl outfit that sent her 
running off in horror and embarrassment, behind the screen a helpful 
large figure in a black cloak popped out and provided for her.
     *Slam!*  "Business manga!"
     *Slam!*  The president threw the door open as he stalked into the 
room, his bulk dwarfing even Hybrid.  "Choppaa!  Dezainaa!  <These sales 
figures are unacceptable!  Look at this - outsold by Power Rangers, 
loathed by everyone over ten, including the lucrative teenage market - 
and these expenditures!  You spent five thousand dollars on warehouse 
space alone?  You're losing money on every front, and not making it back 
quickly enough!  I've got no choice.>"  He leveled a meaty finger at the 
pair of cowering executives.  "<You're fired!>"
     He stalked back out the door, slamming it behind him.  The two 
executives - no, wait, the two villains - stared after him for a few 
moments, blinking and trying to get a handle on the situation.
     Manga Man smiled.  They were distracted and disoriented.  Perfect.  
"Now, for the coup de grace - shounen ai manga!"  *Slam!*
     Skyrunner lighted on Hybrid's shoulder, leaving the ninja with the 
very scratched-up face behind.  "Yo, furball, what's all that Japanese mean?"
     Hybrid, still bleary from Plotchopper's original assault (just when 
_would_ SNOW JOB end, anyway?), muttered, "shounen... means 'young 
man'... 'n' 'ai' m'ns... 'love'... so..."
     Plotchopper and Demented Designer blinked.  Then they turned slowly 
to look at each other.  Their faces contorted in a mixture of shock, 
horror, and disgust.
     "YAAAAAAHHH!"  The two of them quickly turned and ran off in 
opposite directions, trying to get as far away from each other as 
possible.  The already-fatigued Demented Designer took that opportunity 
to trip over a wastebasket, slam head-first into the wall, and fall 
unconscious.  Plotchopper, still a little more coherent, managed to run 
around the room several times, avoiding the stacks of unconscious ninja 
quite well until the point where he almost ran into Wyrd.
     "Grow up, would you?" she adjured as she slammed his chin with a 
kinetic uppercut, arcing him through the shattered plate-glass window, to 
the side of the Bunny's right ear, and straight towards an open vat of 
ink for the toy boxes.
     Manga Man rushed towards the window.  <Yatta!  This is perfect.  
One... last... alteration...>  As the last of his will washed out over 
the factory floor, the ink turned crystal clear a moment before 
Plotchopper splashed down.
     The Unlikely Aliens, for the most part finished with their battles, 
crowded around the windows and Manga Man, who for some reason was now 
wearing a baggy Chinese Army uniform.  He called out to the submerged 
Plotchopper in a bad Chinese accent.  "Oh, no!  You fall in 
'Nyanniichuan,' Spring of Drowned Girl!"
     Plotchopper surfaced, sputtering.  The sudden drenching had cleared 
his head at least, and he seemed no worse for the wear.  But what was 
that fool babbling about?
     "There tragic legend, *very* tragic, of young girl who drown in 
spring one thousand five hundred year ago."
     Come to think of it, he didn't feel *exactly* right.  Slightly more 
buoyant for one thing.  He hesitantly felt himself over for injuries.  He 
paused at the chest area.
     "Now whoever fall in spring take body of young girl!  You see?"
     No.  Oh, NO.  This could *not* be happening.  Almost terrified at 
what he'd see, he tugged out the collar of his costume, peering down 
at... at...
     He - *she* - slumped over the rim of the tank, utterly demoralized 
as Manga Man laughed dementedly.  "The Brotherhood's *never* going to let 
me live this down..."


     Zagyg watched as the police led Plotchopper and Demented Designer, 
now fitted with the latest in power-dampener/handcuff sets, into the 
patrol van.  They'd all changed back into their normal outfits, and now 
Zagyg was talking with the local authorities, while Wyrd was helping 
Hybrid come finally to a full recovery (IOU can get *confusing*) and Pack 
Rat was futilely tinkering with a set of lenses.  Ur-Grue had apparently 
gone back to the shadows again, and Manga Man was nowhere to be seen.
     Actually, he was somewhere to be seen; it was just that that 
somewhere was a few blocks down from the warehouse, down a side street.  
In fact, there was even someone there to see him, as Skyrunner flapped in 
and perched on his shoulder.
     "So, you really did a number on that guy there."
     "Arigatou.  I thought it was one of my more inspired moments, myself."
     "I'll say.  How long do you think it'll last?"
     Manga Man shrugged.  "Wakarimasen.  Hot water will definitely change 
him back - but only until the next time he touches cold water.  Beyond 
that, there's ample precedent for any option.  Most curses in the manga 
were permanent, but there were some false curses that lasted only for one 
transformation.  And, of course, there's always the possibility that 
Professor Perhaps or some other member of the Brotherhood would come up 
with a cure."
     "So in other words, it all depends on whether the next author to use 
him likes the idea or not."
     "Sou desu."  He swung up onto the lower rung of the ladder to the 
cockpit of his escape vehicle.  "You know, I must say it's been rather 
refreshing being able to stretch myself like this.  More often than not, 
I tend to get too pigeonholed into the role of a mere mecha pilot with a 
grudge against the LNH."
     "Well, you are that, you know."
     "Yes, but it's merely a small portion of my potential, as I so 
clearly showed those baka net.villains back there.  I have all manga at 
my disposal, and that in itself is a massive advantage.  If only the 
Legion would recognize the true worth of the form, perhaps they wouldn't 
be half so irritating to be around.  But instead, they cling desperately 
and near-exclusively to their pitiful American comics, and drag the 
artform down with them."
     "Easy on the rant mode there."
     "Hmf."  Manga Man smiled a moment, head lowered, as he prepared to 
enter the cockpit.  "Ja, ii da yo.  Oh, and one thing more... ano totemo 
omoshiroi onna ni, 'saraba da' to itte, kudasai."
     "Yeah, whatever."

     "So, you're the 'Unlikable Aliens?'"
     "'Unlikely,' actually," Zagyg corrected the sergeant.
     "Whatever.  Anyway, you sure did a number on these guys.  High time, 
too - seems like a bunch of the Brotherhood are out and about these 
days.  You did pretty good."
     "Well, we can't take all the credit," Zagyg demurred, wondering if 
Skyrunner would pop up to vehemently contradict him.  "We had help from 
an independent hero by the name of Manga Man - he was the one who 
actually cursed Plotchopper into that form."
     "Manga Man," the sergeant said slowly.  "Would this by any chance be 
the same Manga Man who currently has over three dozen outstanding arrest 
warrants for various super-villainous crimes and misdemeanors?  The same 
one noted for a longstanding history of villainy against the Legion of 
Net.Heroes, dating back to the Cosmic Plot-Device Caper?  That Manga Man?"
     Zagyg paused, considering this new development.  Just then, the 
whine and roar of jet turbines igniting echoed down the street.  Moments 
later, a fighter of some specific make and model roared by overhead, 
Manga Man rolling just enough to wave from the cockpit and flash the "88" 
insignia on the wings.
     "Depends," Zagyg said as he watched the plane recede into the 
distance.  "Was that him?"
     The officer sighed.  "Right.  So, we've got Plotchopper and Demented 
Designer, and Manga Man got away.  Plus you five, ostensibly the heroes.  
Anyone else?"
     "Not really, except of course for the ninja."
     "Kiai!"  A ninja leapt down from a second story window, whirling his 
Pocket Fisherman over his head.  He landed amidst those gathered below, 
striking a martial-arts pose.
     "Hikeeba," Wyrd commented amusedly.
     "Gymkata," Hybrid riposted.
     "You're late," Zagyg pointed out, marginally more on-topic.
     "Ah.  Well, I was going to say I overslept, but..."
     "You realized it would be a complete steal from _Buck Godot #5_?"
     "I had a dentist's appointment."
     "Fair enough.  Wyrd?"
     She didn't even bother to charge up before she clocked him in the face.

     Meanwhile, back in the rather trashed office, the rest of the ninja 
clan was drifting back to consciousness.  A few of the more important 
ninja were already conversing about what to do next.
     "It would appear," Iwanu observed, "that we have come to the 
inescapable conclusion that, based on our prior rather disheartening 
experiences with two quite different employers within the same line of 
work, viz employment with paranormal malefactors for the express purpose 
of conflict with paranormal freelance benefactors, that our projected 
career in this line of work is far from optimal.  Simply: this job sucks."
     Daremo nodded.  "I'd have to agree with that.  At this point, I'd 
like to suggest that we begin studying other employment options.  Any ideas?"
     "Maybe we could form a gang," Kunoichi suggested.  "I mean, if 
clowns and mimes can do it, how hard can it be?"
     "I was thinking something more along the lines of a band, myself," 
Daremo replied.  "But it's a valid suggestion.  In any case, may I 
suggest that we gather our wounded and depart now before the police start 
cordoning off the area?"
     "Um, could somebody help me up?" Saibaa asked embarrassedly.

     Demented Designer sighed.  "Well, so much for that little scheme.  
Mr. Homage is most assuredly not going to like any of this."
     "Him?  How do you think I feel?" Plotchopper retorted.  "This has to 
be the worst day of my life, and I'm including the week trapped in the 
lemur pit in that statement.  Rrr... if I ever get my hands on Manga 
Man..."  She trailed off.  "Say, just how much did we make from this 
caper, anyway?  Maybe if we turned enough of a profit we can keep Mr. 
Homage from having our heads on platters."
     "Well, let's see.  There was the $20,000 seed money total between 
us.  Add in pre-orders that we'd already cleared... then deduct travel 
fees... equipment down-payments... minimal 'licensing fees' we had to pay 
to keep everything legal-looking (although I think that now that all the 
evidence is coming to light, ownership of the anime's going to revert to 
the original holders)... warehouse rental... cybernetic installation 
fees... spam... hireling bonuses... and of course the cash we skimmed off 
the top to put ourselves into fleeting luxury...  Oh, and whatever Mr. 
Homage is going to have to spend to post bail or break us out..."  He 
turned towards his partner.  "I'd say that not only did we spend our 
$20,000, we're another $20,000 in the hole."

     Some time later, in a darkened room somewhere, a man ran a polishing 
cloth along the blade of a finely-honed katana.  On a desk before him was 
a newspaper featuring a story about a group of relative unknowns who'd 
foiled a plot by members of the Brotherhood of Net.Villains.  A 
front-page article, at that.  Admittedly, it was a small piece, below the 
'Contaminated Gerbil Food Scare' story, but it showed promise nevertheless.
     Relative unknowns, unaffiliated with any previously-known group, but 
with seemingly considerable power.  And of obviously heroic intent, 
despite the collaboration with Manga Man.  
     Yes, he *definitely* wanted to meet with them.

                                    *   *
                                     * *

Unlikely Aliens and Luka Garrets property of Scott Johnson.
Demented Designer and the Brotherhood of Net.Villains property of Drizzt.
Manga Man and Plotchopper are Public Domain.
The ninja are technically my property, but other authors, should any need 
a convenient group of semi-characterized extras, are free to use them as 
they wish.
Mehrzad Ziafarsanji is a name I happened across one day at my summer job, 
and I found it so interesting I just had to work it into one of my 
stories somehow.  If the real Ms. Ziafarsanji is out there and happens to 
be, by some chance, reading my work, please take this reference in the 
spirit of fun in which it was intended and not as some malicious rip-off 
or slander.  Please don't sue.
Shadowy mysterious figure property of wReam.

Scott Johnson |  One of the most astounding discoveries in interstellar
zagyg at io.com  |  diplomacy has been that everyone has ninja.


Arthur "Same Classic Channel.  But Same Time?  Probably not." Spitzer

More information about the racc mailing list