___ ___________________________ | |-| \ | |-|  / #4 | | |  egion of \ 'Pirates of the Subway System' part 1 | | | __     / | | | [___][ \et.__eroes \ written by and copyright 2005 | | | \ ] [ __ ] / Saxon Brenton | |-|     \ | |-|___________________________/ | | | | (Cover shows a group of Legionnaires, standing back to back, in | | a subway carriage. They are surrounded by gorillas dressed as | | pirates, some of who are advancing with cutlasses, others who are | | simply swiping about on ropes, and one of whom is taking things | | more-or-less seriously and is covering the Legionnaires with a | | loaded banana.) | | |_| [A Silver Age-style roster of characters in the form of a series of mug shots in little circles runs down the side of the title page:] 0 Fearless Leader! 0 Irony Man! 0 Fuzzy! 0 Frat Boy! 0 Bad-Timing Boy! 0 Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad! 0 Occultism Kid! These are just some of the costumed lunatics who fight to defend the world as: the Legion of Net.Heroes! @%%%%%%%%%%@ "No way man. You're dissing me," said Julian. Beside him on the subway carriage Antony shook his head and repeated his claim, "I'm telling you, Mike asked her out to the Prom and she said yes." "Susan hates Mike," disagreed Julian. "She's been saying so for years." "Kevin thinks she was just playing hard to get." "Kevin's a moron who thinks that flexing a bicep will get the girls flocking to him," summarised Julian contemptuously. "Well, yeah, that's true," conceded Antony. "But that doesn't mean he mightn't be right. Not if he's parroting something someone else told him. Or maybe being right by accident." Julian chuckled. "*That* I could believe." Then the high school student frowned and checked the headphones of his iPod. "Funny, I don't remember that song being on here..." Antony looked around, beginning to look concerned. "That isn't your music, man." Around the two youngsters, other travellers on the Net.ropolis subway were beginning to become alarmed as well. Then Antony's eyes widened. "Ahhh! Look out! Pirate Gorillas!" Julian had half a second with which to begin to form a protest that, no, the pirate gorillas on the subway was just a wild story that tabloids like the Weekly World Nets had latched onto. Then the black-painted train with the skull-and-crossbones emblazoned across its flank finished pulling alongside the carriage that he and the others were riding and the pirates began swinging across on ropes. They bore swords and loaded bananas. Loaded *flintlock* bananas. And they were singing. This close, Julian could properly make out the words to what they were singing. It was 'Stairway To Heaven'. As a sea-shanty: 'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra-li Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra-li Arrr, and it makes us wonder...' Passengers screamed and tried to back out of the way, but couldn't get very far because of two reasons. Firstly, the limited space of the enclosed subway carriage made it difficult to move very far under even the best of circumstances. Secondly, because the nature of rubbernecking crowds is that, as long as they personally aren't in the front line of danger, they will hang around to watch, thereby blocking the way of anyone sensible enough to want to flee the area altogether. Julian simply ducked down beneath the seats. And then he grabbed Antony and dragged him down as well, hopefully out of harms way. Then, over the din of the singing and the screaming he heard somebody call out in a stentorian tone of voice, "All right, you simian malefactors! This is the Legion of Net.Heroes. Throw down your weapons and come out with your hands up!" Julian pressed himself and Antony harder down onto the floor. He knew what that sort of declaration would do. Sure, against bank robbers and other non-costumed criminals it'd probably garner an almost immediate surrender. But against any sort of gaudily dressed net.villain? Fight Scene. To battle, then: Pirate gorillas snarling, "Arrr!" swung in on ropes, but were met by an energy barrage from Irony Man's repulsing rays. A pair of gorillas got through, but were then met face on by Irony Man's armoured fists as he struck out, one-two, to knock them unconscious. Across the way Bad-Timing Boy tripped and fell flat on his face just as a pirate swinging a sword was rushing at him. The gorilla missed Bad- Timing Boy, and unable to halt his momentum tripped over him ("Ow!" went BTB as the huge foot kicked him in the head) and went sailing forward to crash against two other pirate gorillas who weren't paying attention because they were putting so much effort into trying to find Fuzzy. One of the gorillas began to struggle to get up and reach for a flintlock banana, but Fuzzy just cold-cocked him on the back of the head with one of her own guns. Down in the vestibule pirates were ranting at Frat Boy, who simply had his arms crossed with a bored look on his face. Okay, yes, Frat Boy's powers to make people call him an irresponsible hooligan and threaten to call his parents instead of actually being able to attack him was very useful - but it didn't stop his opponents from being tiresome old farts. Of course, the look of disdain on his face only made the pirates rant harder. Meanwhile, at the other end of the next carriage a completely different type of rant was going on. Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad had a trio of pirates cowering on the back foot as he went into an extended diatribe about how fighting giant apes was a cynical attempt at retro. ("It's just a pastiche of Silver Age DC comics by sloppy writers! They want to evoke the mood of pre-grim'n'gritty stories with something nostalgic for their readers! Fighting apes was fun and kooky and whimsical back then, so they throw in fights with apes *now* because they're too lazy to come up with their own fun, kooky ideas! And the readers are stupid enough to let them get away with it because they're in withdrawal for comics that are *fun* again!") And at the guard's van, the group's operations leader (and the deputy head of the LNH overall) Fearless Leader was having his own problems. He'd fought and knocked out a number of pirates, but in the kafuffle had lost his BIGGUN [Ballistic/Incendiary/Gauss General Utility Neutralizer - Footnote Girl]. Then the Pirate Queen had appeared (and a sultry looking wench she was too - or at least, as sultry as a female gorilla can look in a ensemble of velvet, a tight black leather bodice and lots of frilly white lace) and Fearless Leader had only had time to pick up as sword before she had attacked him. Now they were in a duel, and she didn't seem to be taking him seriously. "You seem to be a lot better at this than your underlings," said Fearless Leader as their swords clashed and clashed again. "Well, thank you, my young bucko" she said, and proceeded through and complicated parry-feint-sidestep-back-the-other-way-thrust manoeuvre that left Fearless Leader momentarily with a clear shot. "But it's not good enough," he added, using the opening to - almost - disarm her. "Oh, but it is!" she replied brightly, feinted to the side where he had left himself open by his last attack and then with three Zorro style slashes of her sword cut a 'P' for 'Pirate Queen' into the chest of his costume. Fearless Leader stepped back and narrowed his eyes, reassessing the situation. She was a better than she had let on. Was the Pirate Queen playing with him, or stalling for time? As she continued to grin and make testing jabs at his defences, he quite methodically reached up and activated the comm.thingy in his helmet and said, "Fearless Leader to squad. Report: how are operations going?" "Fuzzy here. We're mopping up for the most part. There are few hold outs up the front near the driver's van, but that's about it." "Roger," acknowledged Fearless Leader. Then to the Pirate Queen he pointedly said, "Most of your crew are down and out. Whatever it is you planned to have them do to has pretty obviously failed. You're wasting your time continuing to fight me, so you'd better just surrender and get it over with." The Pirate Queen looked thoughtful. "Perhaps," she said. And then she slashed out with her sword, and Fearless Leader parried, and she stepped to the side and struck out again, to which he parried a second time. A vicious swipe at chest height prompted Fearless Leader to duck, and her sword carved through the metal pole beside him like butter. "But then again, perhaps not," she concluded in an equally mild voice. Then at the top of her voice she called, "Hear me, my buccaneers! Abandon ship! Grab the booty and we'll be off!" Then she knocked Fearless Leader's sword from his hand, grabbed a rope and swung away onto the black pirate train that had improbably been keeping lockstep pace with the commuter express throughout the entire fight. The other gorilla pirates similarly scrambled up and made to escape, which was pretty bizarre considering that they were supposed to have been unconscious. .oO( Did they all wake up at once? ) wondered Fearless Leader as he leapt and grabbed his BIGGUN, and began shooting at the departing pirates .oO( Or were they just faking it? But if that were the case, why wouldn't they have tried to sneak up behind me while the Queen had my attention? ) The pirates pulled away from the commuter train, and in a second had vanished down a branch line tunnel. "Irony Man here!" came the comm.thingy. "FL, all the pirates just up and left. Including the ones that were unconscious and the ones we had tied up!" "They took Frat Boy!" Bad-Timing Boy's voice interrupted. "They just shrugged off the ropes and handcuffs, grabbed him, and took off!" "Damn," swore Fearless Leader under his breath. This lot of goons were turning out to be harder to pin down than had been expected. @%%%%%%%%%%@ Later that day, at the Legion of Net.Heroes headquarters, Fuzzy stuck her head around the door of Fearless Leader's office. "Any luck on tracking down Frat Boy?" "Nothing yet," he said. "None of the tech wizzes can pick up the tracer in his LNH ID card, and Occultism Kid can't scry him out either. Bicycle-Repair Lad, Contraption Man and Irony Man are up on the roof tweaking some sort of expanded scanner array, and Occultism Kid thinks that the fact that he can't find Frat Boy might be diagnostic in some way. He's gone off to talk some contacts of his." "So who might they be?" "Architects, he said." @%%%%%%%%%%@ Occultism Kid, as his name suggested, was a master of esoteric knowledge. Many were his areas of expertise. And while it was true that there were also a number of subjects about which he had only a passing acquaintance, he subscribed to the Librarian's maxim: you don't need to know everything, you only need to know where to look it up. Now he was walking into the Net.ropolis city planning office. He needed some information about the eldritch properties of the deeper levels of the city's subway system, and that sort of detail was too recent to be available in older tomes like the Net.cronomicon. "Julian," he said with a smile as he shook the hand of one of the senior city planners. Julian Strachlan was an unassuming looking man of early middle age, slightly balding and thickening around the waist. At the moment he had his shirt sleeves rolled up, but was still wearing his tie. "Occultism Kid," said Julian, "You said something urgent had come up on the phone. I take it this is more superhero stuff that the Martyrs of Hawksmoor can help with?" "Yes," replied. Occultism Kid. "Have you been aware of the attacks by pirate gorillas on the subways?" Julian frowned. "I've heard it mentioned once or twice on the news. Why, is there something occult about them?" "I don't know for sure. I *do* know that they seem to be basing them- selves down in the lower levels of the subway system. They come up, attack and rob on the regular lines, and then withdraw back, and all of the attempts by both the police and the Legion to track them have come up against blank walls. Literally in some cases. The fact that I can't scry out them or one of our people who's gone missing argues that they've been shielding themselves somehow." Julian nodded. "All those cold-riveted girders with cores of pure selenium, no doubt," he said. "But that's very worrying, you know. There are tracks down there that aren't used for very good reasons, and most of them have been disconnected from the rest of the subway system - both physically and metaphysically." "I know. That's why I came to see you. I need to have a look at the plans of the lower levels - both the layout and the esoteric properties they posses - and only the Martyrs have anything like the complete details of the occult geometries of the city. Your group planned and built most of them, after all." @%%%%%%%%%%@ Frat Boy knew he was in trouble. It wasn't so much that he was tied up in the subway tunnels beneath Net.ropolis currently being used as a pirate lair, or that the tunnels themselves had a weird bluey-purple glow to them, or even that his powers no longer seemed to be working properly against the pirates. No, the thing that was making him sweat was the way the pirate gorillas were taking about getting him married. He suspected that the reception wouldn't be a kegger. The pirate gorillas sang: 'There's a lady who's sure, that all that glitters is gold And she's buying a stairway to heaven. Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra-li.' as the Pirate Queen made her entrance, knuckling into the room, then striking a dramatic arms-akimbo pose and gazing around with a 'mistress of all she surveyed' look. Her piratical underlings all cheered. "Okay lady," said Frat Boy in his most disdainful voice, "Do you want to tell me what's going on, or what?" The Pirate Queen glanced at him, before making a somewhat bemused 'this-is-the-best-we-can-do?' face. "Generally speaking I don't go for twinks," she said to the room in general as she inspected Frat Boy's rather skinny and hairless frame. "But I suppose you'll have to suffice." "Hey, hands off the merchandise," complained Frat Boy, momentarily stung by her lack of appreciation for his manly charisma. Blasted acne. There were times when he suspected that his powers required him to look like an immature teenager so that he could be ranted at like an immature teenager - although Dr Stomper had once said that, no, actually it was all the greasy junk food and had advised him to eat more fruit and vegetables. "What do you want, then? The Legion isn't going to agree to pay and ransom demands, you know. They'll simply come in and bust your heads." The Pirate Queen looked incredulous. "Want? WANT!? What makes you think there's anything I want from those lollygagging nancyboys in their too tight costumes? I have everything that I need now. For too long have I been waiting to capture a young man, and now my plan is ready for it's next phase!" .oO( Crap. It's as bad as I thought, ) went Frat Boy to himself. He rapidly shifted mental gears. "This isn't supposed to be one of those bad romance novels with pirates of tarnished nobility on the cover, you know." "Romance!?" spat the Pirate Queen. She glared at him. Then without taking her eyes off of him she picked up a candelabra made from a skull and lit the candles of wax rendered down from the fat of men hung on a gallows. As the unholy light of the necrolabra spread, the Pirate Queen and her crew stood revealed as the spectrally undead singing gorilla pirates that they really were. "Get your mind off of romance novels and onto ghost stories, my boy. You're in one!" -------------------- Author's Notes: Yeah, pastiche of the _Pirates Of The Caribbean_ movie; even the name echoes back to it, although that's heavily disguised under *really* bad scansion. Although not much of a pastiche, because I never got around to seeing the movie and am relying on memories of clips from review shows. They're pirates, they've been cursed (we'll find out how and why next issue) and can't rest until they sort things out. Actually, it also nods at the pirates on the subway in one of Grant Morrison's _Seven Soldier's of Victory_ comics, and I haven't gotten around to reading that story either. In more general news, I've gotten sick of trying to trying to post stories with the new Google Groups interface, so I'm going to experiment with posting from a hotmail account. I'll still get an automated .sig at the end of the post, but it won't be the huge ugly farking disclaimer that the UTS email system automatically attaches. -------------------- Character Credits: Pretty much everybody here is Public Domain, mostly because of the passage of time and lack of one of these sinful, modern-type archival services meant that who originally created them was lost a long time ago, although some characters were deliberately given over to Public Domain at some point or other: Bad-Timing Boy created by Vernon Harmon Fearless Leader created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelon) Frat Boy created by uplink (John Scheibeler) Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad created by Elmo (Greg Morrow) Fuzzy created by Connie Hirsh Irony Man created by Doug Moran Undead Singing Pirate Gorillas created by Saxon Brenton. But I've got the feeling that Occultism Kid (technically, Occultism Kid II, created by Josh Guerink) is a Usable Without Permission Writer Character (kinda like Ultimate Ninja). Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate.Back to the Index.