[LNH/HCC12] Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #39 ___ ___________________________ | |-| \ | |-|  / #39 | | |  egion of \ 'Hack and Cough' | | | __     / (Part of High Concept Challenge #12) | | | [___][ \et.__eroes \ | | | \ ] [ __ ] / written by and copyright 2010 | |-|     \ Saxon Brenton | |-|___________________________/ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |_| [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. There is only one for this issue:] Roll call for this issue: o Fuzzy! This is just one of the super-powered do-gooders who belong to an organisation that thinks that running around with your underwear on the outside is acceptable as a fashion statement. They are: the Legion of Net.Heroes! @%%%%%%%%%%@ "Ahh, ahh, ahh-CHOO!" Fuzzy hated being sick. The problem wasn't that snot got everywhere. I mean, snot *did* get everywhere - but that was a perfectly ordinary situation that anyone would have to put up with. The problem as Fuzzy saw it was that while it may well be that Time waits for no man, it was definitely the case the Crime waits for no superhero. There was always a crisis of some sort going, and they *had* to be dealt with otherwise Bad Things would happen. In this case it would be that the Injokerz street gang would release a sample on Injoker venom into the city's water supply. The net.heroine wiped her nose (fortunately she had the advantage of usually not needing to wear a mask of any sort) and gazed down at old water treatment works with a pair of mini binoculars. The building had been abandoned decades ago when new infrastructure had been created. But significantly it hadn't been torn down. It was a lot like the abandoned warehouse district in that regard. She scanned along each side of the building, looking for signs of an Injokerz presence. They weren't in their usual haunts, but this was only one of several thematically appropriate... Wait. There. Guards with Injokerz gang colours. Which meant suits in wildly different colours, faces done out in pale makeup, and hair dyed in equally insane rainbow hues. Right, it was time to deal with them... unambiguously. Fuzzy moved across the roof to a side that faced away from the derelict water treatment plant and leapt from the edge of the parapet, making her way to the ground with a series of acrobatic leaps that would have made the average parkour enthusiast green with envy. Splash page montage of her descent: the side of the building is shown in full, and along the way are inset panels of her grabbing railings and swinging downwards, using her momentum to somersault between fire stairs and downpipes, until she lands, crouching on the balls of her feet with one outstretched to steady herself and the other arm in a defensive position ready to do battle with any lurking gang members. It looks so cool that for a moment the reader forgets to ask: now hold up a second, with her powers of ambiguity how come I can even see her at all? To which the obvious answer is: her powers are playing up. This is why she hates being sick. And so Fuzzy made use of shadows as she quickly headed for the old treatment works. That stunt had been risky - gymnasting down the side of a building like that while sick and when any fumble could have meant serious injury or death. But not to do so was almost as bad. This world was one of action and drama, and it required constant narrative impulse. Movement, movement movement! Keep moving, don't stop, don't let the momentum run down. It was part of the cost of living in a fictional world that ran on narrative principles. She arrived at the entrance. Two Injokerz were standing guard. With a ruthless efficiency she took them down. First a chop to the solar plexus of one of them, knocking him unconscious. The other ganger wasn't quite so easy, having quick reactions and taking aim with a gun. Fuzzy disabled him with a leg sweep, then as he was still falling grabbed him by the head and rammed his face hard against the brick of the wall. He fell to the floor, his nose broken and bleeding. Then she was off again. Now, in a sensible world - a world running purely on the laws of physics, and governed by mundane cause and effect - there wouldn't be a demand for constant heroic endeavours to keep the world on an even keel. But in a world like that there was also no guarantee of dramatic last minute saves from disaster. So, yeah. With the prospect of millions of people being infected with Injoker venom, and then the resulting deaths either directly from the venom or indirectly from the chaos caused by mass psychosis? She needed to take the risk, keep her moves fast and funky, and hope like blue blazes that the Rule of Cool would make up any shortfalls if she fumbled because of ill health. Inside were more guards. She disposed of them as well. There were also signs of hasty engineering work being done. There were flickering lights from an arc welder being used downstairs. Down where the pipes connecting this disused treatment plant to the rest of the city water supply system were. Pipes, which like this entire building, should have been fully disconnected and torn down. It didn't make any sort of economic sense in an urban area where land near the city centre was at a premium. But it did make narrative sense: cities with superheroes needed abandoned buildings for the supervillains to lair in. Or the super- villain groupies, in the case of the Injokerz. She snuck further in and down. From the shadows she saw this: there were four Injokerz standing around, watching someone not dressed like a gang member, with a welding mask and welder, working on the pipes. This man paused and raised the mask. One of the Injokerz - Ramon Yont, Fuzzy recognised, one of the gang leaders but not the overall Injokerz head - said, "No slacking off, now." "It's done," replied the engineer, wearily. "Well now, that's different," Yont drawled, walking over with an anticipatory glee. "All set and ready to go, then?" "Yeah. This pipe, straight through to the 42 Avenue junction. But, look, if you do that you'll kill thousands of people." "Aw, come on," said Yont in a sing-song voice. "It's just a joke." he patted the engineer patronisingly on the face. "Can't you take a joke?" And the engineer began to gasp and choke. Fuzzy's eyes narrowed and went flinty. Even before the man finished collapsing onto the floor, dead with his face stretched into a hideous rictus grin, she knew what was happening. Ring poisoned with concentrated Injoker venom, with a small poisoned spike that broken the victim's skin when Yont had patted his face. Fuzzy picked up a half brick and lobbed it back upstairs, where it landed with a clatter. The noise attracted the Injokerz' attentions, but not their immediate suspicion. Yont called upstairs, "Soup, Parker, we're ready to go down here." When no reply came Yont yelled again, "You'd better not be goofing off up there!" Still no reply. Yont nodded to one of the other Injokerz with him down by the pipes and said, "Go and find those two idiots." The Injokerz ganger mumbled, "Sure thing, boss," and moved off. Fuzzy followed him, and with perhaps a little too much relish thought .oO( 'Vagueness and ambiguity that confound my enemies.' ) before ambushing and knocking the ganger unconscious as quickly as she could. So, now she only outnumbered them one to three. She returned downstairs. She doubted she had much time left to play around with picking off the gang one at a time. Then, just as she was about to make her move she was struck with a wracking cough. Damn! The equivalent of a character in a _Scooby Doo_ cartoon sneezing at just the moment when it would give away their hiding place to the not-really- a-monster-but-a-guy-in-a-rubber-mask who was chasing them. "A net.hero! Get them!" came the predictable cry as she was suddenly revealed. Two of the remaining Injokerz started shooting at her. Fuzzy dodged, since she wasn't completely sure that her weakened powers of ambiguity would be enough to keep them from getting a bead on her if she stood still. Nevertheless she didn't go to the lengths of fully ducking behind cover. Past experience and testing when she'd been sick before suggested that as long as she kept moving then the people attacking wouldn't be able to target her properly. They'd lag behind, aiming at where she had been, rather than where should actually was. Meanwhile she'd already pulled out her own gun and gotten off some clear shots that downed one of the two Injokerz, and if anything caused the other one to panic and fire wild. She closed in on him, weaving about slightly to keep him from being able to proper aim, then grabbed a chair and smashed it over his head. And that left one. Crap. Now was going to be the tricky bit. Final foe. Big climax. And again she was hit by a wracking cough, which was exactly the opening that Yont had been looking for. Fuzzy heard the brokes-no- nonsense click as Yont primed his gun and took careful aim at Fuzzy - and she knew, just *knew*, that now that the two of them had reached the big climax that Yont's aim would not be thrown off no matter how well her powers of ambiguity were working. If Yont fired that gun, then he would hit her, and Fuzzy would die. Time for one last superhero trick. Fuzzy coughed again. She didn't bother to try to cover her mouth, not while she was keeping her hands out in the open where he could see them. "Feeling a bit under the weather, hey hero?" taunted Yont. Fuzzy grinned. "I've had the flu all week, I feel like hell, but I've still more than tough enough to take you down, Yont." She coughed again. "Big talk for someone hacking their guts up," smirked Yont. "Now I think it's time for you to take a dirt nap so I can get on with the big picture of making the whole of Net.ropolis smile." Cough. "By dumping Injoker venom into the water supply." "You got it sister." "Thousands of people will die if you do that." "But they'll die with smiles on their faces." "I don't think you're going to do that." "And who's going to stop me? You?" Cough. "Oh yeah. Me and my flu germs." Cough. "I've been busy breathing all over you." Yont sneered with a you-do-you-think-you're-trying-to-kid? look and fired. But it was too late. His vision was starting to go blurry and his aim was off, and Fuzzy didn't even need to dodge. (Although she did, after she heard the retort of the gun, because even though she knew intellectually that her plan was sound most people's reaction to gunfire was to flinch and duck.) She punched him in the face and sent him sprawling. The gun fell from his hand and he scrabbled to reach it, but she simply stamped down on his wrist. "You see Yont," she said in a conversational tone of voice, "Superhumans tend to have superhuman constitutions. We're usually resistant to disease except as plot point. But when we do catch something, anything strong enough to make us sick is going to work even faster and harder on a non-super." Yont's eyes were wide with adrenaline rush and frustration at having been beaten. "You bitch! You went and deliberately got me sick. I oughta sue!" "Tell it to the marines," said Fuzzy as she reached for her LNH comm.thingy. "You've done more than enough damage for one evening." ========== Character credits: Fuzzy created by Connie Hirsch. AuthorÔ~@~Ys notes: Written for the 12th high Concept Challenge: under the weather. I dithered while deciding on exactly what story to write for this. This story starring Fuzzy is basically one of my fourth wall breaking examinations of how genre mechanics work. Partly because it's in an established superhero setting and mainly because it's in a style I find fun it was quick and easy to write once I actually started. The other story examined the idea of people developing powers after getting sick, along the lines of the Wild Card virus from the _Wild Card_ series of mosaic novels. It would have been set in Moscow and featured the choking smoke from the summer fires killing people (just like current real life events) being used as a plague vector by a necromancer to raise an army of undead but also causing some Russians to develop superpowers as an antibody reaction to the necrotic plague. Unfortunately that story would have required more time and effort to write in order to do it justice.Back to the Index.