LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 3 #3: "Sequels are Always Worse" [3/6]

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 10 10:19:25 PST 2020

Catalyst Lass opened her eyes.

The last thing she could remember, she was working on the shipping 
program and planning for the Valentine's Ball. She had been doing that 
most of the time lately. Maybe she hadn't been getting a lot of sleep. 
Spending hours and hours playing with the settings of the shipping 
program, losing all track of the external world, she fell asleep at the 
keyboard. And now she woke up in manacles. Looked like she'd been 
captured by net.villains again.

Standing over her were two people, both known members of the East Coast 
Brotherhood of Net.Villains. One, a lovely and elegant woman, the other, 
a hulking demon. Romantic Innuendo wore a gorgeous red sequin dress, 
crimson opera cape, a fedora and a similarly sequined domino mask. She 
looked a bit like an amalgamation of Carmen Sandiego and Doctor Hurt. 
DNSDaemon, meanwhile, was wearing a natty suit which was burning just a 
little on the coattails.

"I always dress for the occasion!" Romantic Innuendo said, billowing out 
her cape. Catalyst Lass had to admit she was impressed.

"Can you get to the plan-explaining part?" said Catalyst Lass.

"Oh, I'd love to. My plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity," said 
Romantic Innuendo. "My shipping-based abilities allowed me to sense what 
you were doing and affect it. Using DNSDaemon's techno-daemonic powers, 
it was trivial to install a cursed virtual reality machine in the Tunnel 
of Love."

"I dunno, that still sounds like a lot of work," said Catalyst Lass.

"The instructions were a little confusing, I'll admit. But it was easy 
enough to implement... and to integrate it with your own little program, 
which DNSDaemon hacked into."

This was the point where Cat felt like her stomach lurch. "He what?"

"You were planning, of course, to use the shipping algorithm to find the 
best person to pair each of your teammates with. I, of course, did the 
opposite--finding the match that was the absolute worst. They were 
hoping for a delightful celebration. I gave them the worst day of their 
lives, and you helped."

Cat shuddered and took a deep breath. "I don't remember you being 
this... purely evil. Or your intonation being this master-villain-y."

"I wanted to make something special for you, my dear. Now watch." She 
flipped a switch and turned on the bank of television screens across 
from Catalyst Lass.

She saw each of her teammates dancing around the weird version of the 
LNH cafeteria with the red wallpaper, looking absolutely miserable. Miss 
Social-Cues was trying and failing to have a conversation with 
Bad-Timing Boy. Token Girl was with Sarcastic Lad, even though they'd 
broken up for the final time a while ago, and Cat had exerted her powers 
to the fullest to make sure it really was the final time. And there was 
her own sister/pseudo-counterpart, Hell Catalyst, trying desperately to 
interest Super Apathy Lad in something.

They all looked like they were having the absolute worst day of their 
lives, wrapped up in a finely crafted atmosphere of awfulness, and it 
was all because of her.

Catalyst Lass didn't spend a lot of time questioning herself. Other 
people she knew had huge bursts of motivation which then fell out from 
other them when they were hit by belated anxiety or started questioning 
themselves, and  were back to square one. She'd been able to coast by on 
her intense, unstoppable motivation for her entire life. And she'd been 
moving from success to success, unable to even imagine doing anything 
wrong. And now she had.

Romantic Innuendo traced her finger across Catalyst Lass's cheek. "Now 
are you ready to admit I've won?"

"You know," said Catalyst Lass, summoning up the last remnants of her 
will power, "if you wanted to make out with me, you could just do that..."

Romantic Innuendo laughed. "Nice try. But you know as well as I do that 
we're alike. We wield the power of love but can't surrender to it 
ourselves. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. You're the only other 
person in the world who understands, and that's why it's a shame I have 
to destroy you."

"Do you? I'm--really cute--" but it didn't work. She was keeping a 
cheerful face on it even now. But her confidence, her fundamental faith 
in herself, was gone.

(Through all this, DNSDAemon said nothing. They usually appeared to 
their allies and enemies as a hulking, silent presence. In fact, they 
had a lot of social anxiety, but (except for Anti-Christ Lad) no one 
noticed because they were a demon.)


"So," said Token Girl. "We're dancing together."

"Looks like it," said Sarcastic Lad. "And here I was thinking you were 
Token Girl and not Sister-State-the-Obvious..."

"Come on," said Token Girl. "I thought we used up all the 
passive-aggressive sniping after the last three times we tried dating."

"Yeah, yeah," said Sarcastic Lad, which was the closest he ever came to 
saying "I'm sorry."

"What are we even doing here?" said Token Girl. "After the last time we 
broke up, we mutually agreed to put a stake through the heart of our 
relationship and scatter its ashes. Like Dracula..."

"Because, like Dracula, it kind of sucked," said Sarcastic Lad. "And yet 
here we are! Just like the last five times."

"I'm pretty sure a net.villain is messing with us this time," said Token 

"Romantic Innuendo, huh? Everything about this screams her. She wouldn't 
know subtlety if it hit her over the head with a croquet bat screaming 
'Look at me! I'm subtle!'"

They were dancing to "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" by Boyz 
II Men, one of the huge hit songs of 1992, because if there was one 
thing this Writer loved it was really hammering in the Themes. Token 
Girl angersighed. "This is almost as bad as that scene in the church in 
Face/Off!" she said.

"I know, right? What were all those doves doing there?" he laughed.

"I guess that's what it sounds like when doves cry," said Token Girl. 
When they were making fun of a godawful movie together, she could 
remember why she used to be into him. But when those same sarcastic 
powers were turned on things and people that mattered to her, it was 
something else...

She'd really tried to make it work. She was convinced there was a decent 
person somewhere all that sarcasm, but digging down to get to that was 
pretty much impossible. In fact, Sarcastic Lad was once a college 
student called Jo Nysegi who had gained his powers of sarcasm from 
possession by a literal demon. This was one of those times when the 
superhero comics metaphor was just a little too on the nose...

"Wait a minute," she said. "This whole thing feels kind of, I don't 
know, cursed and demonic, but your sarcasm powers are demonic too. Maybe 
you can use them to get us out of here! Sarcasmatize this silly symbolic 

"Hey, you're right!" said Sarcastic Lad. He cupped his hands over his 
mouth. "You call this disorienting surrealism! David Lynch, more like 
David Binch! Batman RIP, more like Batman Bong Rip!"

There were cracks of glowing light in the air.

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