[LNH] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #5 ___ ___________________________ | |-| \ | |-|  / #5 | | |  egion of \ 'Pirates of the Subway System' part 2 | | | __     / | | | [___][ \et.__eroes \ written by and copyright 2005 | | | \ ] [ __ ] / Saxon Brenton | |-|     \ | |-|___________________________/ | | | | (Cover shows the Pirate Queen (sans spectral form) and Frat Boy | | dressed for a wedding and standing together at the front of the | | picture, facing towards the reader. The rest of the gorilla pirate | | crew are grouped behind them watching the wedding - except for the | | few right at the back, who are fighting the Legionnaires who have | | just broken through the wall to put a halt to proceedings.) | | |_| [Roll call for this issue:] 0 Fearless Leader! 0 Irony Man! 0 Fuzzy! 0 Frat Boy! 0 Bad-Timing Boy! 0 Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad! 0 Occultism Kid! 0 Very Big Boy! These are just some of the super-powered do-gooders who think that running around with your underwear on the outside is acceptable as a fashion statement: the Legion of Net.Heroes! @%%%%%%%%%%@ "You think you have something, Occultism Kid?" said Ultimate Ninja. He and Fearless Leader sat around the table while Occultism Kid laid out a rather strange looking plan of the city. It had a sketch of the surface streets in light black lines, overlaid with the subway tunnels in either thicker black or blue lines. The layout of the ones in blue looked very strange indeed. "Yes," said Occultism Kid. "I went and consulted the records that I could find of the lower subway system, with particular reference to the supernaturally endowed ones. I think I may have some leads of how the pirate gorillas keep disappearing." "A moment," interrupted Fearless Leader. "There are *records* of the supernatural properties of the subway?" "There are records for the supernatural properties for a lot of the city," said the mage. "There's a semi-secret fraternity of geometers in the planning department called the Martyrs of Hawksmoor that try to keep the supernatural development of Net.ropolis - the ley lines and such - from growing in unwanted and potentially dangerous directions. Which is where this starts to come in," he said, indicating the map. "Architects have been planning cities based on scared geometry for centuries to some extent or other," Occultism Kid explained. "But they were only taking something and making it better. It was only about the time that really *big* cities started developing that it became apparent that the... well, negative psychic buildup in the environment is an oversimplified but convenient buzzword... the psychic buildup was something that had to be guarded against. In other words, something that had to be controlled to keep things from getting *worse*. In particular, towards the end of the 19th century a man by the name of Thibaut de Castries wrote a seminal book on the subject called _Megapolisomancy_. De Castries himself was a vicious bastard who was rumoured to have used the negative forces of metropolitan geometries for some of his own black sorcery before he passed away in 1929 in San Francis.com. But the principles set out in his book are valid and are a good starting point for anyone who needs to know the sort of things to protect against. "Now, in the case of the city of Net.ropolis an awful lot of that negative psychic buildup began accumulating in parts of the early subway works. Most particularly in the deeper ones that made use of the natural cave system under the city. By the time the Martyrs of Hawksmoor realised what was happening, it was all they could do calculate which tunnels were critical parts of the mystical circuit that had formed, then break that circuit by sealing them off from the rest of the subway. In the purely physical sense that meant walling off parts of the subway after making up excuses that the tunnels were unstable, but there were mystical barriers as well. These blue lines on the map represent the sealed off tunnels. You'll note that they're the ones that make strange patterns." Ultimate Ninja examined the map. "And your hypothesis is... what? That the pirate gorillas have somehow breached the barriers that were set up and have established a base in there?" "Yes. It would explain why I haven't been able to scry them out." "Will this help you find them now?" said Fearless Leader as he looked over the map. "There seem to be a lot of sealed off areas that they could be in. That's a lot of searching, and if we have to do it by foot we'd better get started." Occultism Kid shook his head. "I think I can use these details to counter most of the interference that we've been getting so far. I'll need to talk with Irony Man and the others though; we might need to combine our efforts." He frowned. "The real problem might be the pirates them- selves. They may have done worse than just hiding down there. They could be tapping into those negative psychic energies as a power source of some sort. I hope not. Just the fact that they may have breached those sealed tunnels is dangerous enough. As my Hawksmoor contact says, there are reasons why those things are sealed off." @%%%%%%%%%%@ Fuzzy had decided that while the other Legionnaires were trying to track down the singing gorilla pirates that had kidnapped Frat Boy with various types of scanning-at-a-distance, she'd pound the mean streets and get some information by more conventional means. Currently she was chasing an ordinary old non-singing non-gorilla subway pirate. The pirate ran through the crowds on the train platform, elbowing aside commuters and eliciting cries of indignation and abuse in return. He reached the turnstiles and jumped them, intending on making his way out through the station entry and from there hopefully into the safety of the streets. "You can't escape, Norman." Big Knuckles Jim aka Norman Wittenstein came close to wetting himself. He thought he'd lost her! His eyes darted about. Where could she be hiding? He ducked sideways and ran down a pedestrian passageway that led under the street to the shopping mall on the other side of the road. "There's nowhere that you can run, Norman." Ahh! Norman came to a screeching halt in the food court, his head darting back and forth as he tried to find where his opponent was. Which really was a waste of time considering Fuzzy's powers of confusion and ambiguity, but when people are panicked they tend to lapse back into instinctive responses. As he turned about, searching futilely for a plausible escape route, she came up and punched him. Norman fell, hitting the floor and gaping at Fuzzy as she decided to be not-quite-as ambiguous as during the pursuit. "Now, we're going to have a little chat," she said with a sardonic smile in her voice and, possibly, on her lips. "Tell me what you know about the gorilla pirates." "Gor... gorilla pirates. But... I'm not a gorilla!" Fuzzy rolled her eyes. "Yes, I can see that. But you are a pirate." .oO( Or rather, one of the teenaged punks that dress up to form pirate subway gangs, ) she added to herself. "And over the last few weeks the singing pirate gorillas have been carving out their own territory, muscling in on the turf of different human pirate groups, haven't they?" "Well, yeah. Most of the crews... we avoid them. I mean, it's only sensible, isn't it? They're got a lot more firepower than us, and even with their knuckles gorillas pack more punch..." Fuzzy nodded to herself. Criminals were indeed a cowardly and superstitious lot. When they were up, they thought they were the lions: the kings of the savannah. But when somebody bigger came along they were only too ready to withdraw and play the part of jackals, waiting for the leftover scraps of carrion. "Right," she said. "Well, I want to know where the limits of their new stomping grounds are; what train lines they attack, which groups they've displaced, the times they show up. Everything." @%%%%%%%%%%@ "Ooo-kaaay" said Frat Boy, impressing himself with the fact that he was able to keep his voice steady in the face of spectral pirate gorillas. "So, the fact that you're dead means you have to get married." "Ha!" went the Pirate Queen, who no longer looked anything like fetching, no matter how much lace she wore or how tight the leather bodice was. "The fact that we're *cursed* means I have to get married!" To Frat Boy this was just as much a non-sequitur as the original statement, but he let her rant. "More than four centuries ago we were pillaging and plundering the towns along the coast, when we fell afoul of one of the Lords of Art..." "Of what?" "Lords of Art! Of Artifice!" she snapped. "There was a clockmaker who was a follower of one of the Lords of Art, and had built a cabinet- sized mechanism that had all sorts bells and whistles and filigree." For a moment she sounded wistful. "Ah, and a beautiful thing it was too..." Then she came back to the here-and-now. "But it was too big for us to steal during the raid, so we smashed it instead." "You smashed it? But if it was that good, why smash it?" "So no one else could have it, of course." "That's selfish and mean spirited." "We're pirates," she retorted as if explaining the obvious to a particularly obtuse child. "Anyhap, the old man tried to defend his device, and we cut him down. With his dying breath he called upon the Lord of Art to whom he had been planning to give his device as a gift. Then that Art Lord appeared. Said his name was Smirglion and that he was here to punish us. When I tried to run him through, the sword passed straight through him, as though he weren't there. Then he flayed our flesh from our bones with a bolt of power, and before our souls could pass on to our reward he bound them to our mortal remains. Finally he banished us to these caves, with the curse that we would never be able to leave nor fully die until we had produced a work of Art as good as the one that we had destroyed. "For hundreds of years we remained trapped here, until the city above us began to expand the tracks for its iron horses into the under- ground," she continued. "Power began to seep in through the new-cut tunnels and along the tracks. We were almost ready to free ourselves when some of the tunnels were closed and the flow of power stopped. For the last few decades we've been chipping away at the wards that have sealed off these tunnels from the rest of the subway system, and now we finally have access to the rest of the caves and tunnels as well." "So how does that help you produce a work of Art as a replacement?" said Frat Boy. "Or are you planning on stealing one and palming it off as your own and hoping Smirglion doesn't notice?" "Stupid boy. We aren't planning on giving Smirglion anything at all. With enough mystical power drawn from the city above, we can bypass his curse altogether! And that's where your wedding comes into it." @%%%%%%%%%%@ Legion of Net.Heroes HQ: "Oh give me a BREAK," went Sarcastic Lad. "Lords of Art? Isn't it bad enough that the Looniverse has to put up with sixty five zillion different groups calling themselves Lords of Order and Chaos or KOs or whatever! Who are they supposed to be opposed to; the Lords of Dada or something?" "The Lords of Nature," said Occultism Kid tersely. Greeney-purpley- orange light played across his face from the scrying device that he'd finally been able to rig up to track Frat Boy. "Now shut up, I'm trying to listen to listen to her Secret Origin." "Well excuse me," snapped Sarcastic Lad before stomping off, muttering to himself. "Besides, whoever heard of frigging Art doing anything powerful. What a dumb concept." "Nah Gov, you've got that all wrong," said Bicycle-Repair Lad, who was at the rear of the group. "Back in the original Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the radio version, they had this miles high statue of Arthur Dent with a spilt teacup, and the teacup was held up by nothing except the power of Art. Very powerful stuff, that is." Sarcastic Lad just glared at him. "Well I think it's cool!" chirruped Kid Enthusiastic in a gratuitous cameo. "It's just like in the Champions roleplaying game!" "You would think that," said Sarcastic Lad. Towards the front there was sudden sound of disappointment as the device flickered and died. "Well, that's it," said Occultism Kid. "It's packed in." He looked at the television set that he had juryrigged to use as a tracker. It was reasonable enough to use a magically charged technological device to try and get in sync with the magically charged technologically built tunnels, but there was only so far that sort of symbolism could take you before it began to run up against the wards and barriers. The place had been sealed off, after all. Fearless Leader turned to Irony Man and Contraption Man, who had had their own devices plugged into the television set. "You get anything?" "Yeah," said Contraption Man. "We got some readings - weak, but lasting long enough to get a bit of a fix. It looks like they have him down here," he added, pointing to a section of tunnel on the map. "Okay then," said Fearless Leader, nodding. Then he turned back to Occultism Kid. "What was that bit, just before it got cut off? About the wedding?" "Oh, I imagine that the Pirate Queen wants to use Frat Boy as type of magical winch point," said Occultism Kid distractedly. "Any wedding is a symbolic union of two into one, so once she's married to him, then she and her pirates are no longer *just* bound to their prison. Because Frat Boy isn't bound by the curse, she'll be at least symbolically free as well, and can use any psychic energy that they've been able to tap to haul themselves free for real." Then he added, "Unless of course it all goes horribly wrong, and Frat Boy gets turned into an undead pirate gorilla as well." @%%%%%%%%%%@ Not too much later, Occultism Kid and Irony Man were leading the way through the tunnels for a strike force of Legionnaires. "This should be it," indicated Irony Man, consulting the map co-ordinates in his onboard computers. This deep underground he had no contact with satellite based GPS signals, but thanks to the wonders of comic book supertech his armour had a more than adequate inertial guidance system as well. Occultism Kid scanned the wall in front of them while the rest of the group - Fearless Leader, Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad, Bad-Timing Boy and Very Big Boy - waited. The wall formed a dead end across the tunnel, having barred further progress down this branch line for decades. Or at least, mundane progress. To his mage sight there was clearly a breach in the mystical wardings built into the brickwork, not to mention lingering traces of supernatural passage. "This is the place all right. Or at least, a place." "You're still worried that they might have another entrance?" said Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad. It wasn't truly a question, since Occultism Kid had already made his concerns plain. Now the Legion's mystic maestro shrugged and said, "It's a possibility that unfortunately we just don't have time to investigate and block off." "If it's any help," said Fuzzy as she emerged from the gloom, "as far as I can tell, the pirate gorillas only make use of this entrance." "Hey!" said Bad-Timing Boy. "Where have you been while all the hard work was being done?" Fuzzy chose to ignore him. Instead, to Fearless Leader and the team in general she said, "I was getting information from the other gangs of subway pirates. There are a number of human gangs that have been displaced by the gorillas' rampages, and I figured they'd be a good source on where and when the gorillas had been appearing. Since the gorillas never showed up on the track sensors used by the subway staff, I figured that sort of information from the pirate gangs would be the next best thing for identifying where the gorillas were probably emerging into the regular commuter lines." "Good work," nodded Fearless Leader. He looked at the others, "We ready to go?" "As soon as we find the access door and unseal it," said Irony Man. "It's over there, in the second alcove," said Fuzzy. "Right. Thanks." "Now then," said Fearless Leader to Fuzzy, "We'll just have to wait a few seconds for the scene break so that I can bring you up to speed on Occultism Kid's plan without the readers overhearing..." @%%%%%%%%%%@ The Legionnaires snuck through the tunnel and made their way to an abandoned subway station. There they found the pirate gorillas watching a wedding. Up towards the front were the Pirate Queen, dressed in a black suit scrounged from somewhere, and Frat Boy, looking both resplendent and extremely ticked off in a cream coloured satin wedding dress embroidered with seed pearls. Occultism Kid whispered to the others, "Now remember, the timing on this is going to be very delicate. I need you to keep the pirates busy, but not get the upper hand so soon that the Pirate Queen thinks she should run rather than try to complete her wedding ritual, okay?" "Everybody remember their positions?" asked Fearless Leader. "Right then, let's go!" The LNHers rushed out of the side tunnel where they had been concealed, and set about their assigned tasks. Very Big Boy grew to several metres tall and heaved against the black painted subway train, derailing it so that no one could use it for a quick getaway when the pirates finally realised how deep the doo-doo they were in was. It was a pity he couldn't have grown taller and simply picked up one of the carriages with the proportionally increased strength, but the ceiling height of the station wouldn't have allowed for that unless he laid down - and he wasn't foolish enough to let himself be off of his feet while surrounded by so many opponents with weapons. Then, with the carriage on its side, he began to lay into the gorillas with his fists. "Too-ra-loo- ra-loo-ra-li!" went the gorillas, and Very Big Boy wondered, .oO( Where do those ropes comes from? ) At the front, the Pirate Queen watched the Legionnaires fight their way through her piratical minions. They were closing in on her, and it looked as though she didn't have much time. She nodded to the crewman who was playing the part of the minister to continue, and then was thrown off balance as Frat Boy hitched his skirts and crash tackled her. The Pirate Queen grabbed Frat Boy by the head and held him still, with her big meaty hand clutching his features like a face-hugger from one of the Aliens movies. =( Frat Boy, no! )= came a telepathic warning from Occultism Kid. =( Let her finish her ritual! I've laid a trap! )= With extreme reluctance Frat Boy reduced the amount of his struggling, although he kept up a token amount so as not to raise suspicion. Still, he made a mental note to have Words with Occultism Kid afterwards. The Pirate Queen didn't notice the difference, and prodded the crewman-minister to continue. "If there be anyone with reason why this couple should not be joined in matromony, speak now or forever hold their peace..." "Mmnf mnn hmmf gnnm!" protested Frat Boy from underneath her paw. "This isn't the bit where you say, 'I do'!" she snapped, giving his head a warning shake. "I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride." The Pirate Queen let go of Frat Boy's face and leaned in close. With a horrified look on his face Frat Boy tried to lean away as far as her hand on his shoulder would allow. =( Let her kiss you! )= practically shouted Occultism Kid in his head, but the sight of those big wet gorilla lips coming in for a smooch temporarily drove away the last of his rational thought. "AHHHHH!!!!!" screamed Frat Boy, which was a really bad move on his part, since that meant that the kiss she got in was a tonguey. "Hahahaha! Yes!" cried the Pirate Queen as arcane power began flowing through her. She let go of the shell-shocked Frat Boy and yelled, "It's done! Now, we are FREE!" And then the power backfired in a way that she hadn't anticipated, blasting her across the width of the platform to impact against a wall. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch," said Fearless Leader grimly. The Pirate Queen snatched a sword from a nearby pirate gorilla and whipped around to face the deputy leader. "I fought you to a standstill once before, me bucko! I can do it again!" she snarled as she made a jab at him. "Last time you were drawing on the collective skill of all your crewmembers," countered Fearless Leader, parrying a few strokes before feinting to one side and deftly disarming her. "That was why your men were so easily captured during the time we were fighting, wasn't it?" he added as she stepped back in surprise at finding herself unarmed and at the pointy end of his argument. "And now that Occultism Kid's interfered with your wedding ritual, you can't access any sort of power - from either the subway system or your crew. If we needed to we would have called in Ultimate Ninja or Swordmaster to fight against you, but you've grown so lazy from drawing on your crew's collective skill that even a mediocre swordsman like myself can handle you once you're on your own." The Pirate Queen grimaced in frustration. "What have you done!?" she demanded. "You made the mistake of assuming," said Occultism Kid as he walked across the platform, over the unconscious bodies of numerous no-longer singing gorilla pirates. "You were performing an alchemical wedding, and that required you to 'marry' someone who was an opposite of you in as many ways possible: male and female, living and dead, powered and non-powered, hero and villain. That was why you were trolling around with all those high profile attacks on the subway, waiting until the Legion arrived so that you could abduct a male net.hero, yes? But you kidnapped Frat Boy, thinking he suited you for one extra opposite, and that was where you made your mistake. Frat Boy's appearance as a boy in his mid teens is the result of his power, not his age. He's in his early twenties, and he's an adult, NOT a child!" "What!?" screamed Frat Boy as he heard this. "Is that what that 'twink' comment was about!? You... you... paedophile!" Then to world in general. "Why the Hell hasn't this story got an Acraphobe content warning!?" Occultism Kid let him rant, drawing out a bottle from his trenchcoat. "I think it's time you all had a more secure prison," he said. With a gesture of his hand the gorilla pirates all grew spectral and nebulous, and then with a long drawn-out wail of despair they were all sucked into the bottle. Once they were all in, Occultism Kid placed the stopper, and drew something on the stopper with a wax pencil. "What's that?" asked Fuzzy, who as a latecomer hadn't had time to be briefed on this part of the plan. "Spirit bottle, sealed with the Seal of Solomon. Just like the bottles with genies in them in the Arabian Nights stories," he said. "I'll keep them on ice until I figure out what to do with them." -------------------- Author's Notes: Tom Russell has already pointed out to me that the cuckolded gorilla last issue should have been cold-cocked, but I noticed for myself that I'd given two incidental characters the same name of 'Julian'. De Castries and his book were behind-the-scenes villains in Fritz Leiber's novel _Our Lady Of Darkness_. I'm deliberately using undead singing gorilla pirates rather than the GIANT talking monkey pirates that seems to be the running gag/obsession on rec.arts.comics.dc.* and rec.arts.comics.marvel.* newsgroups. I couldn't get into GIANT taking monkey pirates, so you got undead singing gorilla pirates instead. So there. Ppphht. -------------------- Character Credits: Public Domain characters: Bad-Timing Boy created by Vernon Harmon. Contraption Man (unreserved NWC rather than PD) created by Drizzt (Jeff Barnes). 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. Sarcastic Lad (unreserved NWC rather than PD) created by Saint (Gary St. Lawrence). Undead Singing Pirate Gorillas created by Saxon Brenton. Useable Without Permission Writer Characters: Bicycle-Repair Lad created by Christopher Hare. (I think this one goes here) Occultism Kid created by Josh Guerink. Ultimate Ninja created by wReam (Ray Bingham). Useable with permission Non-Writer Character: Very Big Boy created by Saxon Brenton. And of course, cameoed without permission Writer Character: Kid Enthusiastic created by Andrew Perron.Back to the Index.