_ | | Tales of the | | = | | ____ ____ _ ____ ___ | |__ |  | |  | | | |  | | _ \ |____| \__] \__ | |_| \__/ |_|\_\ || |_| OF NET.HEROES #332: Guess Who's coming for Breakfast [ Tales of the LNH #330 marked the first appearance of Bishoujo Sailor Senshi Panta - and immediately in Tales #331, Manga Man attacked Panta while she was cooking liver and onions for 20,000. What will the poor leopard girl do now - now that she's got the OverCute Gem and 19,550 helpings of liver and onions?] By Hubert Bartels and Jamas Enright ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Even when Panta covered her cat ears with both pillows, she could hear the thumping on the door. THUMP. "HEY PANTA!" THUMP. THUMP. Panta snuggled deeper into her bed. It really wasn't fair. She'd worked hard moving the leftovers into the statis chamber and only got into bed around 11ish. Late for the leopard girl. It was now, what? 7ish? and the LNH expected her to be up early for the next assignment. THUMP. "PANTA! ULTIMATE NINJA WANTS TO SEE YOU!" THUMP! Panta sighed, sat up and stretched in a pose that would excite fanboys across the world. Well, there was no way to avoid getting up when Captain Capitalize was pounding on the door of your room. She scratched under a cat-ear and reached for her shortened, midriff-revealing T-shirt and a pair of cut-off jeans. Stretching again and yawning, she padded across the room toward the bathroom. It wasn't really her room - it had been reassigned to another LNHer when Panta had disappeared through the airlock in the LNH basement. (Tales of the LNH#321) But when she had come back, she had reclaimed the room, tossing the piles of unwashed laundry into a LNH dumpster and sweeping the other junk aside. A few of her original items were still in the closet - including the cat-bell she now buckled around her neck. Panta left the bathroom door open as she stepped up to the sink. She grinned at her image in the mirror and bent down to pick up a dropped towel. VIZZZZZZ-BLOMMMMMMMM. The laser blast from the wall blew the shards of the mirror clear into the next room; the hot gases of the shot singed Panta's hair. Had she remained standing, she would have been vaporized. Panta was bent over when the shockwave of the laserblast crashed in the tiny bathroom. She was just beginning to straighten up in amazement when the wall tumbled inwards to reveal a shiny black metal claw. VIZZZZZZ-BLOMMMMMMMM. The claw punched half-away into the room. Panta threw herself sideways as the second claw thrust itself through the showerwall, shattering the plumbing. Again, the laser fired, a red beam of hot dust and gases. The water in the ruined bathroom flashed into steam. Panta held her breath to avoid breathing the superheated steam. As the claws loosened more stones from the wall, Panta crawled out of the bathroom A third claw pushed aside the ruins of the sink; Panta could now make out a menacing shape behind the clouds of steam. It was big. It had a single large red lens of an eye and multiple legs tipped with deadly black claws. And it was hanging from the outside wall of the LNH headquarters building, many stories above the streets of Net.ropolis. A Mecha-spider. Manga Man's Mecha-Spider. "Shinu!" it broadcast as the grotesque mecha pulled itself into the bathroom. "Shinu!" Panta rolled over the bed and under a desk as the Mecha-spider rotated and fired diagonally across the room, a blade of red flame that left charred and burning strips peeling from the wall and ceiling. It began to rain on Panta as the firesprinklers came on. The Mecha-spider, its black side made glossy by the downpour from the sprinkers overhead, rotated and searched. Panta could see the red lens appear and disappear as it looked for her. Apparently, her body heat was being washed out, both by the fires in the room and the cold water from the ceiling. WHIR-CRASH! A claw shot out, smashing a nightstand to kindling. The Mecha-spider was going to find her by feel. Panta backed quietly against the wall. The door was too far away; she would be seen and smashed even with her cat's agility. The Mecha-spider felt out another corner, turning a hatstand into metal bits. Panta felt something poking her in the back; she pulled it out. It was some kind of Kirby-type blaster. "I wonder who dropped it?" Panta said to herself as she flicked her power switch. The blaster made a fine whine that rose in frequency until she could not hear it anymore. WHEEEeeeeee..... The Mecha-spider's red lens rotated until it faced Panta's desk - "I found you," it said in Japanese. Panta pulled the trigger. WHOOO-ZZZAPPP! A intense blue beam shot from the blaster. It shattered the red lens and punched out the back of the Mecha-spider. Then the Mecha-spider exploded. KER-BUUUMMMMMMM! Smoke poured from Panta's door as she closed it behind her. Her hearing was a little deafened and her clothes were soaking wet - but she was alive. She leaned against the door and caught her breath. "Like wow, Panta. What are you doing up here?" California Kid asked. Panta blinked. "I just got up, why?" "I thought I saw you on.... Oh, Panta, why is there smoke coming from your room?" "Smoke? Oh, that," Panta giggled. "I've got a bug problem. I need to talk to Captain Cleanup about that..." Panta giggled again. "A big bug problem." * * * Panta wasn't supposed to slide down the bannisters - it broke all the rules and several OSHA regulations - but she did it anyway. It was faster than walking down. On the fourth floor, still picking up speed, she passed Fan.Boy and another person walking up. Something about Fan.Boy's companion caused her to clamp down and slow up. Something familar. Panta hopped off the bannister and began running up the stairs. Fan.Boy stopped on the fourth floor and checked on his companion. "Just a little down the hallway," he said. She smiled at him and took his hand. Someone else was running up the stairs at a full run as the two walked down the hallway. Whoever it was, stopped at the top of the stairs and yelled, "Hey!" Fan.Boy and Panta turned slowly to look. Then Fan.Boy jumped back in surprise, stumbling against Panta's wet body. At the top of the stairs stood an LNHer he thought he knew very well: Panta. The Panta at the top of the stairs approached him. The Panta standing beside him glared at the newcomer. While, given the chance, Fan.Boy could probably have thought of several people would be glad to be stuck between two leopard girls, right now, he wouldn't count himself one of them. Taking control with a great opening line, Fan.Boy said "Ah - hi, Panta." The two Pantas glared at each other. "Who's this?" they chorused in a low and warning tone. Unable to think of any other action, Fan.Boy resorted to introductions. "Panta, this is Panta. Panta, this is Panta." Maybe it was expecting too much for them to just shake hands. The Panta that had been holding Fan.Boy's hand let go, and started circling the other Panta. As the other Panta was wearing the same wet clothes, even the same catbell, Fan.Boy soon lost track of which Panta was which Panta. "Oh hello, Fan.Boy," someone else said. The voice was unfamilar. Fan.Boy turned away from the catfight-in-the-making to stare down the hallway. An unfamilar figure waved and walked up to him. Fan.Boy gaped. He was sure that he'd never met this man. "Er, do I know you?" "No," replied the man, "But it just proved my deduction. Given the FB insignia on your costume, the conclusion is elementary, of course." It was now no amazing leap of brilliance that allowed Fan.Boy to work out who he was talking to. "Oh wow. Deductive Logic Man. Good to meet you." They shook hands. Deductive Logic Man, turned to take in the situation. "Why are we now blessed with two Pantas?" he asked. "One's an imposter. Some sort of 'morph. I saw it change from Master Blaster into Panta." "Hmmm," Deductive Logic Man mused. "But, of course, the other one could also be a 'morph. Hard to tell." The two Pantas were still circling one another, mirroring each others moves. Both their tails were flicking about, and their ears were twitching. "Which is which?" Deductive Logic Man asked. "Umm," Fan.Boy reddened. "I don't know - I lost track after they started to circle each other." "Perhaps we should take them up to Doc Stomper and Organic Lass and let them work out who is who?" Deductive Logic Man finally said. "She's the imposter!" both Pantas said, pointing out the other Panta. "Take her upstairs." Fan.Boy looked at the two Pantas flexing their claws. "How are we going to do that? Seems a bit dangerous." "Hmmm," Deductive Logic Man thought. He leaned over to Fan.Boy and whispered in his ear. Fan.Boy nodded. "Hey, what are you whispering about?" one of the Pantas said. "Yeah, what are you whispering about?" the other Panta chimed in. "It seems that," Deductive Logic Man began, "logically, there being two Pantas," "...the medical files need to be updated," Fan.Boy ended. "The real Panta would want her file up to date." "I'll go," one Panta stated. "I'll go," the other Panta echoed. Fan.Boy took the hand of the Panta closest to him as Deductive Logic Man took the hand of the other Panta. The hand felt just like the one Panta had given earlier - but Fan.Boy wasn't sure anymore. Deductive Logic Man led the way to the Medical Section of the LNH, his Panta turning every so often to stick out her tongue and make faces at the Panta that Fan.Boy was leading. Fan.Boy's Panta responded in the same way. It was a long walk. [To be continued in Fan.Boy #8 and Tales #333] ---Thanks to Jamas Enright for Fan.Boy and most of the latter half of the story. -- Optical Sciences Center email@example.com University of Arizona "There is no situation so bad that it cannot be made Tucson, AZ, USA 85721 worse by a creative bastard with a sick sense of humor."Back to the Index.