LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 3 #2: "The TERROR of June 26th, 2019!"
pwerdna at gmail.com
Tue Jun 25 21:28:46 PDT 2019
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L E G I O N O F N E T . H E R O E S V O L U M E T H R E E
Issue #2: The TERROR of June 26th, 2019!
A fancy hardcover lying on a messy desk, on whose cover is written in gold leaf,
"On June Twenty-Sixth, Twenty-Nineteen, the Legion of Net.Heroes will DIE!"
It was June 23rd when the evidence was discovered.
The young, academic orc (also known as an orcademic) who worked in the library
of LNH Headquarters, whose real name was Fred Gnarshteeth but who had for
various reasons which we will not go into here decided to call himself
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II...
...slapped a manila folder on the desk, and put a VHS tape down next to it.
Behind said desk stood Fearless Leader, Co-Deputy Leader of the Legion of
Net.Heroes. The other Co-Deputy Leaders, Catalyst Lass and Cheesecake-Eater Lad,
stood next to him, peering down at the folder. The post-WikiLull Ultimate Ninja
leaned against the wall, silently watching the goings-on.
"According to this evidence," said ARAK II, "in three days, the LNH will face a
villain more powerful than any we've ever seen before."
"Sounds like every other Tuesday," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad, mindfully keeping
"Where does said evidence come from?" said Fearless Leader, keeping on-point.
"Library Lad was working on going through old LNH records when he disappeared,"
said ARAK. "Taking things from the archives that are in danger of being
forgotten, and putting them in an accessible database in our modern systems.
I've been trying to keep it going in his absence."
"Good job!" bubbled Catalyst Lass. "That kind of community-minded spirit is what
keeps the LNH the LNH."
ARAK nodded in acknowledgment, letting himself savor a little bubble of warmth
in his belly, then continued briskly. "This is a twenty-five-year-old statement
taken from an incident type 214."
"Time traveler who has come back on a last desperate mission to change the
future," said Fearless Leader.
"Just so," said ARAK. "In this case, the time traveler was Poignant Death Lass."
"Who wouldn't even join the LNH until years later," said Catalyst Lass.
"Right," said ARAK. "The statement was taken by Sig.File Man. PDL, badly wounded
but still mostly lucid, described a foe who came out of nowhere; a man filled
with enormous cosmic power, burning out his body, and blaming the LNH for
everything that had gone wrong with his life. He ripped through all of our
strongest hitters, and was in the midst of blowing apart the LNHQ when she was
sent back. After handing over the tape, she passed out, and was taken to
sickbay, where..." He sighed. "Well, where you can guess what happened."
Cheesecake-Eater Lad and Catalyst Lass looked up at Fearless Leader, who had
been the sole survivor of a very similar attempt at averting worldwide disaster
- an attempt that had failed. But he had grown since then, kept moving forward
and recovering, and seen this Legion through many more moments of
near-destruction. His face was calm, focused. "Right. And the tape?"
ARAK nodded, and signaled. wReamhack wheeled in a metal cart with a VCR and a
CRT TV on it. ARAK slid the tape in and pressed play.
The lawn of the LNHQ, everything quiet and normal. Suddenly, a streak of
light flies through the air - and collides with a hastily-activated defense shield.
Before the shield, a man floats in the sky, his features washed out by a
crackling field of energy that surrounds him, bolts of blue, red, purple, white,
lashing at the ground, curving off into space,. Where the energies intersect
with the shield, it starts fading. "The LNH... you've been hurting me since I
was a child... you killed my mother... NO MORE!" He rams his crackling hands
against the shield, and it cracks apart! "REVENGE!"
Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, one of the LNH's heavy hitters,
finally reaches the threat. They grapple, and the energy blasts into the Kid's
form. "Nice try, net.asshole," grunts the man, "but you're going down like the
Browns." The Kid cries out in agony, and holds on - but his form seems to wither
and dwindle, and finally, he falls, a drained shell.
The shield deactivates, and LNHers spill out of the HQ - whichever random
members were in today. They engage, but the man plows thru them. "She was a
sweet woman! She never did anything! Do you hate immigrants? Do you hate single
mothers!? WHAT DID SHE EVER DO TO YOU!?" His own form withers as he moves
inexorably forward, but he seems no less strong.
Suddenly, Kid Kirby, the greatest cosmic hero of the Legion, appears, seated
behind a huge, complicated-looking cannon. With a great flash of light, it pours
a blast of coruscating energy into the man's form... but when the light dies
down, the aura of energy is even stronger, occluding the man entirely. A searing
blast from the man destroys the cannon, blows Kid Kirby to pieces, and blows a
great hole in the side of LNHQ.
"And now..." The man's voice is thin, halting. "Now..." He walks through the
hole, into the heart of the LNHQ. "DIE!"
From afar, the LNHQ can be seen glowing from within - and then a fireball
consumes it - and spreads - and spreads, destroying, consuming the city--
Nothing is left of Net.ropolis but a crater. The screen goes black.
Catalyst Lass let out a breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding.
Fearless Leader looked less calm, more grim. "That was... thorough."
ARAK tried not too look shaken - come on, he thought, you've watched this
already, no surprises here. "Apparently, there was an automatic failsafe that
recorded and sent the tape after everything came apart. Complete with the
dramatic camera angles."
"I know Multi-Tasking Man has been working on something like that..." said
Cheesecake-Eater Lad, his expression pale but determined.
"He's thorough too," said Fearless Leader, leaning back in his seat.
"Anal-Retentive Archive Kid, your analysis?"
ARAK tapped his neatly-manicured claws on the desk. "As far as I can tell, this
was our Legion, a Legion that had taken on the Bryttle Brothers, the Crossover
Queen, the Mechanical Author... and we were defeated by someone we didn't even
"But we should've known about him in *this* timeline," said Cheesecake-Eater
Lad. "Why wasn't this flagged? We've had the next time the Time Crapper shows up
scheduled for the last six months."
"It turns out there's a fairly simple answer to that, having to do, again, with
time," said ARAK. "The statement was taken on June 26th, 1994. Twenty-five years
before the incident, to the day..."
Cheesecake-Eater Lad's eyes went wide. "...and two days before..."
"Retcon Hour," said Catalyst Lass quietly. Her knuckles went white on the edge
of the desk.
Retcon Hour, one of the messiest events in the Legion's history, involving
multiple time-travelers creating a multitude of alternate timelines, then
letting them overlap, overwrite, a million conflicting narratives at war. The
LNH had defeated the mastermind behind it all, somehow, and Captain Continuity
and the RACCelestial Madonna had put things back as they should have been - but
everyone who had been through the final battle held onto strange, fragmented
memories of things that had never been.
"After Retcon Hour, no one wanted to even *think* about changing the future,"
said Cheesecake-Eater Lad. "They were just happy that the LNH seemed to *have* a
ARAK nodded. "That makes sense. As far as I can tell, this file was put in the
archives and left to gather dust. Nobody's thought about it in the last
twenty-five years - until today."
"All right," said Fearless Leader, standing up. "We have three days of warning,
and we're going to use them. First, we bring in all the forces we can. Every
Legionnaire, ready to defend, on the day of the attack. Second, we search for
any sign of this guy. He has to be out there somewhere. Maybe we can find a
weakness. Maybe we can get to him before whatever triggered this attack happens."
"I'll rally the members!" said Catalyst Lass.
"I'll get our resources on the case," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
"Anal-Retentive Archive Kid," said Fearless Leader, "see if you can match the
data on this to anything else in the archives. A villain we've fought before, a
hero gone rogue, a cosmic confluence that fills random people with powers. Even
if it seems like this guy came out of nowhere, he's got to have a past."
"Got it," said ARAK, standing straight and nodding firmly.
Catalyst Lass mm-hemed. Fearless Leader looked at her quizzically... "Oh, yes."
All three of the Co-Deputy Leaders looked to Ultimate Ninja. He stood up,
cracked his knuckles, and gave a firm nod.
"Right," said Fearless Leader. "It's time to gather our strength. Legion...
The call went out. Subgroups were pulled back from missions. Reservists were
called to active duty. Characters whose writers had been inactive for years but
were still technically on the roster gathered together offscreen.
Contraption Man and Multi-Tasking Man firmed up the LNH's defense grid.
Occultism Kid, Shining Tungsten Magister and Kid Occultism Kid wove mystic
wards. Johnny Stomper and Very Big Boy trained for combat with giants, while
Doctor Stomper and Mashup Laq monitored for incursions from the Picoverse.
Foreshadowing Lad reached out for clues and hints, while Kid Recap recalled the
past. The leaders drafted plan after plan.
And ARAK dove deep into the archives, looking for the single clue that might
save them all...
The day came. At the break of dawn, the massed forces of the Legion of
Net.Heroes gathered on the lawn of the LNHQ. Scouts spread out through the city.
Satellites recorded every spark of net.ahuman power being used, looking for the
spark that would turn into a wildfire.
At full readiness, they waited.
...and they waited...
...and they waited.
By mid-morning, Cheesecake-Eater Lad, Frat Boy and Shake-n-Bake Lass were
distributing breakfast in shifts, each LNHer on edge, ready to rise from their
meal and fight.
By noon, a bunch of blankets had been brought out to spread on the lawn, and the
LNHers were sitting to conserve their energy, having little conversations to
keep their minds sharp, but still ready for the fight. Lunch was served in
picnic baskets, and LNHers snacked on fortifying sandwiches and cheesecakes.
Soda, juice, and bottles of water were pulled from a series of coolers and
By mid-afternoon, there were five games of Magic: The Gathering going on and
three D&D campaigns, there was a screen set up showing all seven Vorkosigan Saga
movies, and a Lego model of the LNHQ was in progress. Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
II leaned against the door to the LNHQ, Catalyst Lass standing next to him and
soaking in some sun.
ARAK sighed. "I've been searching for the last three days, and there's nothing.
Not just no other appearances of this guy, but no evidence someone like him has
ever existed. Like, take a look at this..." He held up a clipboard with the
statement on it, and a transcript of the tape. "The guy was talking about how
the LNH killed his mom. So I look up bystander fatalities. Not a common thing
with us, but it can happen. Then I look up the children, follow up their
histories... I found three that had ever shown powers, one of whom lives in
Nepal now, one of whom is an investment banker in Cleveland, and one of whom is
actually a member of the LNH. And here - it says that he spoke with a midwestern
accent, and he was talking about 'the Browns'. So I started checking in the
Cleveland area, but there's like a dozen active net.heroes over there and none
of them had tangled with any cosmic villains in the last year." He shook his
head. "It's all like that. Nothing comes together, there's no person for whom
all of this *fits*." He looked up at Catalyst Lass. "I'm sorry. I lead us on a
wild goose chase."
Cat smiled and put her hand on his shoulder. "Hey, it's okay. It's better to be
proactive and have it turn out to be nothing than to ignore things and have them
turn out to be something." She gestured out towards the crowd on the lawn.
"Besides, you got everybody together for a picnic!"
"Mmmm... yeah, that's fair." ARAK looked over the gathered crowd, and tried to
relax, to take an actual break. If only he could be sure, though...
"Oh, hey, Cat." ARAK looked up. Two men were coming towards them; one was older,
and dressed in blues and grays, in that distinctive coordination that told ARAK
he was a net.hero in a casual version of his costume; the other, younger,
wearing a T-shirt and khaki shorts on the hot June day.
Catalyst Lass squeaked in surprise and delight. "Sig.File Man!" She pushed
herself off the wall and wrapped him up in a tight hug, then let go, stepping
back, holding him by the shoulders and looking him over. "It's been so long!
How've you been? Who's this?"
Sig.File Man laughed good-naturedly. "Pretty good, thanks. And you're right,
it's been forever." He gestured to the younger man. "This is my son, Adam. He
lives in Net.ropolis. I flew over for a visit, and we heard the LNH was having
some kind of shindig, so I decided to stop by."
"Your son?" Catalyst Lass clapped her hands. "I didn't know you had kids!"
Sig.File Man smiled. "Just the one. Remember after I left the LNH, and sent
those Christmas cards with that cute girl and the little boy? That was him and
"Ohhh!" Cat grinned. "He's grown up so big and strong, good job! Does he have
"Well, yeah..." Sig.File Man leaned in and spoke quietly. "He's not interested
in being a net.hero, but I figured you-all might be able to help train him
anyway. He's got a kind of phobia of this place, or I would've brought him by
years ago." He tilted his head towards Adam. "He's been going to a new therapist
lately, and even coming here is a big step up."
"Ohhhh, of *course*!" trilled Cat. She stepped over to Adam. "Hullo there! I'm
Catalyst Lass, Co-Deputy Leader of the Legion of Net.Heroes! Would you like a
bit of a tour?"
"Oh, well..." Adam looked down, but then looked back up at Catalyst Lass, and
was, like so many, swept up by her honest enthusiasm. "I guess we could."
He followed her into the LNHQ, leaving ARAK and Sig.File Man alone. ARAK looked
down at the clipboard in his hand... oh, what an opportunity! "Say, Sig.File--
ah, I guess I should ask your real name."
"Sigmund Ampulle," said the former Sig.File Man, and stuck out his hand.
ARAK smiled. "Fred Gnarshteeth." They shook, and ARAK pointed to the clipboard.
"Do you remember taking this statement? For obvious reasons, it's been on my
"Hmmm..." Sigmund took the clipboard and glanced over the top page. "Oh, yes,
this..." He blinked, and leaned in, squinting at the date on top. "...ah. Of
course..." He looked up at the gathering of LNHers. "Of course it would be today
that we came by..."
ARAK tilted his head. "Er... pardon me?"
Sigmund chuckled. "Sorry, but... let me tell you a story..."
"Back in 1994, I was starting to drift away from the LNH. My old team, the
Tantalizing Teens, had broken up a couple years before. Cliche Dude and SideKick
Man had joined the Legion alongside me, but Cliche Dude had left for a space
mission with Halls Jordan, and SideKick Man had turned out to be an evil robot
all along. That stung, of course, and I was left with few close friends in the
community. Then an old enemy ran me over with a bulldozer..."
"Eesh," said ARAK.
"Yeah, right? So I wasn't exactly having fun as an LNHer. But I didn't really
know where I should go next."
"Then this fell in my lap. I figured, why not stop this before it starts? So I
started making plans to go to Cleveland and investigate. Then..." Sigmund sucked
in a breath. "Retcon Hour happened. I barely remember the bulk of it; I think at
one point I was the leader of an all-singing all-dancing theater troupe version
of the Legion?" He chuckled. "But it was big and it was stressful and it was
just another indication that maybe this wasn't the kind of life for me. So those
plans turned a bit longer-term than they used to be."
"I rented an apartment and tried to track down the 'mom' mentioned - doing some
of the fancy detective work I hadn't really done since my Tantalizing Teens
days. I found a few different women who fit the clues; but there was only one of
them, Sarah Hernandez, who was raising a young son alone, ever since his male
genetic donor had walked out on them. I kept an eye on the others, but made
friends with Sarah, hoping that I could keep them out of any net.hero-related
"A young son..." ARAK looked over his shoulder at the LNHQ, then back at
Sigmund, eyebrow raised.
"Yep." Sigmund nodded. "Sarah and I ended up falling in love by Christmas. By
then, I'd heard about their backstory - how they'd been visiting Net.ropolis
during Retcon Hour and been temporarily pulled into an alternate universe where
the LNH were all these terrifying evil robots, and Adam had ended up rather
"I see..." The pieces fit, indeed, thought ARAK.
"We got married a couple of years later," said Sigmund. "By then, I'd formally
retired from the LNH and set up a detective agency. I figured, well, maybe just
by coming here I'd prevented a tragedy."
"Only there was a tragedy still on its way. It turned out Sarah had a
degenerative neural disease..." He sighed. "With no cure."
"Oh..." said ARAK, unsure how to respond. He settled on, "I'm so sorry."
Sigmund shook his head. "Don't worry about it. That was a long time ago, now.
And, this time, I was there to support both of them thru it." He looked off into
the distance. "It was during the stress of that whole mess that Adam's powers
activated. Powers to channel cosmic energy. He was pretty freaked out by them,
to be honest - freaked out by anything related to net.heroes - and for a while
he thought he'd messed up his mom. The doctors told him he couldn't have, that
that wasn't how disorders like this work. But he ended up repressing them pretty
"He's doing better now, though?" said ARAK, encouragingly.
"Yeah. Not city-destroyingly better, thankfully. I guess, in the other timeline,
without therapy, without anybody, he just ended up obsessing, and..." Sigmund
raised his hands, motioned pushing something away. "Anyway. Yeah. Much better,
and has been quite stable for a long time."
"Good," said ARAK, and meant it. "I guess, then, you've saved the city - and I
can close this file, which is nearly as relieving."
Sigmund laughed. "Guess so." He handed the clipboard back. "Turns out there's a
lot of ways to do this job."
"Yeah. And the people who take care of it before it becomes a problem don't get
*nearly* enough credit for it." ARAK tucked the clipboard under his arm. "Would
you like to come down to the archives and help me close this file out? I'd like
to give *you* credit, after all this time."
"Aw. Well, far be it for me to maintain false modesty." Sigmund opened the door
of the LNHQ, and ARAK stepped thru.
And the picnic ended up going on past dusk, until the moon rose over the city of
Author's Notes: Jeanne noted that there hadn't been any Classic LNH stories set
in 2019 yet, so I decided to write one which was very specifically set in 2019.
Sig.File Man's last in-continuity appearance is well before Retcon Hour, but as
far as I can tell, it doesn't break anything continuitywise to have him hang
around a bit longer.
Drew "happy Retcon Hourversary?" Perron
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