Insanity Unlimited #2

                               INSANITY UNLIMITED #2

                           "The Once And Future Assassin"
                         By Drizzt (

                           "Past is precursor to future."


A time traveller broke into the LNHHQ, stealing a suit of powerful
techno-armorthe LNH had found long before.  He called himself Flashback, and
has since been attempting to kill other time travellers.



	Contraption Man sat in the window seat, lost in thought as he stared 
at the clouds outside the flight thingee.  A cold-fusion-powered laptop 
computer sat before him, its clock face screen saver ticking away the

	The time traveller pursed his lips in thought.  One name haunted the 
halls of his mind: Flashback.

	Contraption Man had pieced together Flashback's story from a
fragmented recording the other time traveller had brought with him.  The
story was short:  simply put, the LNH was supposed to die today.

	Those deaths -- and a younger Flashback's inability to prevent them --
had led to Flashback's jump back through time.  Unfortunately, he had missed 
his arrival date and had arrived almost a decade too early.  Doubly
unfortunate was the fact that Flashback's inexperience with the time travel
equipment hadleft him amnesiac for all that time, until something had
happened to snap him out of that state.

	Since then, the time traveller had broken into the LNHQ and reclaimed 
the powerful technorganic armor he'd brought with him.  Flashback had then
gone berserk, doing his best to track down and kill every time traveller he

	That list had included Contraption Man, and he had the bruises to 
prove it.

	Flashback had a reason for targetting time travellers in specific, of 
course.  All psycho killers had reasons good enough to kill -- in their own 
minds.  His was that he thought a time traveller had been the one to kill the
LNH.  And so, Contraption Man thought, Flashback had become a time traveller
in order to kill them.  After a confrontation with Weirdness Girl,
Flashback's armor was somewhat damaged, making its power signature easy to
follow.  Ultimate Ninja had scrambled a special strike force to pursue and
apprehend the madman at Contraption Man's insistence.  UN, however, hadn't
considered Flashback to be a priority; another armored lunatic claiming the
LNH was going to die was nothing novel.

	CM turned away from the window and noticed Irony Man looking at him.  
"Something wrong, Toony?" he asked the armored LNHer.

	"No," the electronically-processed voice said slowly.  "Nothing 
important."  He pointedly turned away.

	Had there been a note of mistrust in his voice?

	Contraption Man looked around the interior of the flight thingee. 
Some of the strike force looked away from him.  Others made it a point not to
glance in his direction, as though he didn't exist.  Some only peered from
the corners of their eyes.  Why were they all looking at him? CM asked

	He shook his head.  There was no reason for them to look at him.  
Paranoia.  He almost smiled ruefully.  Certainly, there had been that
incident with the Time Crapper a year or so ago, but he hoped that was all in
the past, despite Ultimate Ninja's misgivings earlier today; after all, UN
*had* included him in the strike force.  Why would the LNH be mistrustful of
him-  He stopped in mid-thought.

	A time traveller.

	The killer would be/had been a time traveller.

	Just like Contraption Man was.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	Flashback stood in the midst of a giant cavern, lost in thoughts that 
were not entirely his own.  They had belonged to a creature named Censor
Girl, a former servant of the twisted genius Dr. Killfile.  Once, before she
became a cyborg, she had been with the villain here to examine a prototype of
a device he was creating.

	Not being known for his nomenclative originality, Killfile had called 
it the "Killfile Contraption."  The name, however, was unimportant,
especially when what it could do was so much more interesting.  Once powered
up, the Contraption prototype would respond to the mental impulses of its
user and erradicate a target or targets read from the user's thoughts.

	Killfile had created a smaller version of his device later and used it
in an assault against the LNH, killing one of its members and wreaking 
considerable havoc on the team before the contraption was destroyed.  All
that was unimportant to Flashback, now, though, for he had found his quarry:
the protype itself.

	The series of encounters Flashback had had with the LNH had convinced 
him of the futility of his tactics.  He had only hours before the LNH would
be destroyed, and countless time travellers still to be terminated -- not to 
mention that the LNH was interfering.  Didn't they understand that he was
doing this for *them*?  So, it had become neccessary to find other means for
the mass destruction of time travellers.  And the Killfile Contraption was
perfect for that end.

	He smiled.  No more failures.  They'd all be stopped once and for all.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	Contraption Man sought refuge from the accusing non-stares in the hold
of the flight thingee under the pretense of examining the thingee's engines. 
How could the LNH not trust him?

	"How can I trust me?" he muttered.  "Who knows what wReamicus Maximus 
did to me when he brainwashed me?  How can I ever be certain-"

	A loud clang alerted him to the fact that he was not alone.  Drawing 
his pulse pistol, Contraption Man looked into the shadowy depths of the hold.
"Who's there?  C'mon out!"

	A short figure in a hideous costume poked his head out from behind a 
bank of machinery, hands raised above his head.  "Umm, hi, Mr. Contraption
Man.  Remember me?  Chismbob Boy?  Teen Squeeez Cheeez?  Good Kid?"

	"I remember."  CM lowered his weapon.  "The question is, what are you 
doing *here*?"

	Vaguely relieved that he wasn't going to be shot, the Kid lowered his 
hands.  "Um, well, after you were so nice as to save me from that armored-
maniac-type-y'know-that-Flashback-guy, I got stuck in the med-lab and, with
all the ruckus he was raising, I kinda snuck out and..."  He shrugged 
apologetically.  "Here I am."

	Contraption Man pursed his lips.  "This is no place for an untrained 
child.  We're going into battle, possibly to our deaths.  We'll have to leave
you behind so you don't get into trouble.  Or worse."

	The Kid looked stricken.  "B-b-but I can help!  Honest, I can!  I've 
got powers and everything!"

	"That may be, but you don't have the experience."  He took the boy by 
the arm.  "I suppose we'll have to lock you in here while we're facing 

	"But I *can* help!" the Kid shouted.  "After all, you let Back History
Boy in, and he had the same powers I do."

	Contraption Man paused.  "Powers?  What powers?"

	"I can touch people and absorb some of their memories."

	"You mean... it's a kind of 'flashback' power."

	The Kid shrugged.  "I guess so.  So, is it enough to get me in?"

	Contraption Man barely registered his words.  "Flashback," he muttered
to himself.   It all fit together.  This child *was* Flashback!  Or at least
he would be.

	Oh, he'd heard the time traveller's story in the recorder he'd 
recovered, but it he'd almost let Ultimate Ninja convince him they'd been the

ramblings of a madman, or maybe someone displaced from an alternate timeline 
like the Legion of Occult Heroes.  He grimmaced.  It had been right before
his eyes all this time, and he hadn't seen it.

	He turned back to the Kid, who eagerly awaited his answer.  In the
othertimeline, the one where the Kid had become Flashback and where the LNH
had been killed, Contraption Man had locked him in the flight thingee to keep
him from harm.  If he did the same now...

	No choice.  He wouldn't let the innocent before him become the
deranged killer that Flashback was.  No choice but to open wide the
floodgates and pray he and the others would not be washed away by the river
of time.

	"All right.  You can come."

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	The thingee touched down in a clearing near a large mountain.  
Contraption Man was the first off of it, followed closely by Irony Man,
Theory Man, List Lad, and the Forgetting One.  CM surveyed the motley crew. 
He'd appealed to the ninja for more support, for even some of the "heavy
hitters," but those words had fallen on deaf ears.  The ninja was convinced
that Flashback was just another armored maniac (albeit one from the future)
and,since Weirdness Girl had damaged his armor, had rated him an almost
negligible threat.  CM sighed.

	Equally disturbing was the fact that he'd had to hide the Kid's 
presence from the others.  He couldn't take the chance they might not see 
things his way and still lock him up on the thingee, especially since trust
in Contraption Man seemed to be at an all-time low.  No, the Kid was on his

	For better -- or for worse.

	He turned to Irony Man.  "Still reading Flashback?"

	"Yeah," the armored LNHer said, looking at a device in his hand. 
"He's inside that mountain."

	"Ummm," the Forgetting One said.  "Where are we again?"  Everyone
ignored him.

	As usual.

	"Listen," Theory Man said, "I've got this idea about who Flashback
really is.  I bet he's actually Lost Cause Boy from an alternate future
where he survived.  I mean, think about it; it all fits..."  Everyone
ignored him.

	As usual.

	Meanwhile, List Lad was checking off the supplies the strike force
had with them, muttering things such as "24 MRE's?  Check.  One (1) Big Gun
(tm)?  Check.  One Acme Anti-Homicidal-Time-Travelling-Maniac 
Neutralization Kit?  Check."  Everyone ignored him.

	As usual.

	Contraption Man looked toward the cavern mouth that opened before him.
Why had Flashback come here, of all places? he wondered.  After brief 
consideration, he shrugged.  There simply wasn't enough data to figure that
out.  He turned back to the others.  "Come on.  Let's go."  CM paused, then
spoke again.

	"Time waits for no man."

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	Flashback peered at the monitors as he waited for the prototype to 
power up.  The LNH had managed to follow him even here!  He whirled toward
the board and began to adjust controls as quickly as he could.

	"Come on, you piece of junk," he growled.  "Time is running out."

	There was a pounding on the other side of the reinforced
strongstuffium door.  His head shot up, then he returned to his frantic
operations.  "They can't stop me now!  I *will* save them -- no matter the

	Another blast from Contraption Man's solid photon cannon.

	Twenty seconds more.

	The door began to buckle.


	The door blew inward.

	Ten seconds.

	The LNH strike force stormed in through the dust.


	Flashback dove for the helmet with which he could control the


	Time crystallized and turned brittle around him.


	He had the helmet in his hands.


	On his head.




	There was silence as Flashback turned to the LNH.  "Time's up," he
said joyfully.  "It's begun.  The time travellers will die, and you will

	And he threw the switch.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	In Net.ropolis, Ultimate Ninja suddenly looked up from a stack of 
paperwork.  An uneasy feeling fell across him.  Something was wrong, terribly
wrong.  He reached for his communicator...

	... and his ghostly transparent hand passed through the desk.

	As he looked on in horror, Ultimate Ninja began to fade from

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	In Sig.cago, Kid Kirby hefted the steel girders.  As part of his
public service, the Kirbian and his herald had decided to aid in the
construction of a children's hospital here.  Between the two of them, they
could trim two months off the completion date -- in only one day.

	Then, a vague sense of dread came to Kid Kirby, and the girders 
clattered to the ground.  He reached down to grab them again, and his hand 
passed through the steel.  Kirby looked to his herald, and found her to be in
a similar state.

	For all his power, Kid Kirby could only watch as they both faded

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	So it was across the globe.  Legionnaires slowly began to vanish, to
be erased from existence.  Something was terribly wrong.

	Time was running out for the LNH...

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	Flashback was horrified.  Before him, the LNH strike force began to 
vanish.  "No," he whispered.  "It can't happen like this!  NOT AGAIN!!!"  He 
frantically began to adjust the controls.  "I *WON'T* LET YOU DIE!!!"

	There was a reason that Dr. Killfile had abandonned his prototype, a 
reason that he in his vanity did not share with Censor Girl.  That fact was 
that the machine was flawed.  Oh, it could erase beings or things from 
existence -- but the things it erased were those most on its user's mind, not
necessarily the target that its user desired erradicated.

	Contraption Man felt an odd sense of detachment as he looked down at 
his swiftly disappearing hands.  All for nothing, he thought sadly.  All the 
worries, all the choices... and it still hadn't mattered.  Not in time. 
Always too late.  Events had not been changed.  It hadn't mattered at all.

	But it had.

	A streak of color alerted him to that fact, as the Kid leapt from the 
shadows toward Flashback just in the nick of time.  The time traveller was so
engrossed with his manic adjustments that he didn't notice his counterpart 
until it was too late.  The younger version tackled his older counterpart, 
toppling the armored figure into the machine.  The damaged power armor sliced
through the thin casing into the wiring beneath.

	In a fountain of sparks and light, the prototype exploded.

	In that instant, Contraption Man and the other LNHers became solid 
again. He started toward the two Flashbacks, but was stopped by another
series of explosions.  An inferno sprang up around the shorted-out console,
separating him from the Kid and the fallen Flashback, as a rumbling noise
alerted CM to the quaking of the mountain.

	Contraption Man barely registered these thoughts, though; his eyes
were fixed on the horror in the Kid's face.  He knew, CM realized.  He had
touched Flashback, and now he knew what Flashback was.  The Kid looked up,
his eyes meeting CM's.  No hatred or bitterness was there, only determination
and resignation.  He knew, and would rather die a hero than live as a killer.

	And then another shower of sparks hid his face from CM.

	Contraption Man started forward, determined to save them both despite 
the impossibility of the task.  Irony Man caught him from behind.

	"It's too late, CM!" he shouted above the crackle of flames and the 
distant rumble.  "We have to go now!  The whole mountain is falling down 
around us!"

	"No!" Contraption Man shouted, twisting in the LNHer's grasp.  He 
continued his yelling and fighting even as the armored Irony Man drug him
from the complex.  "He saved us!  I have to save him!"

	Irony Man ignored his pleas.  "Run!" he shouted to the others.

	"The thought had crossed my mind," Theory Man noted dryly as he dodged
falling boulders in his mad dash for the exit.

	Racing as fast as they could while forcibly carrying off Contraption 
Man, Irony Man and the rest of the strike force made it outside the complex 
and to the flight thingee.  They turned just as they reached it...

	...just in time to see the countless tons of rock crash down on top of
the complex.

	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*

	Later that evening, Ultimate Ninja found Contraption Man sitting on a 
hillside inside the LNHHQ estate, watching the sun set.  The ninja stood 
behind him in awkward silence for a moment before CM spoke.

	"Isn't it amazing how much things can change in one day?"

	UN shuffled his feet uneasily.  "Listen, CM, it's not your fault."

	CM nodded.  "It's easy to say that.  But did I make the right

	"Maybe not, but you made the only one you could.  You let him
his own choices.  Sometimes that's the only decision a leader can
The ninja rested his hand on Contraption Man's shoulder.  "It may not
be pleasant, but at times it is necessary."

	CM remained mute for a moment, then nodded reluctantly.  "I
you're right.  But it's still not very comforting."

	Ultimate Ninja smiled humorlessly.  "What was it Shakespeare
'Men at some times are masters of our fates.  The fault, dear Brutus,
is not 
in our stars, but in ourselves.'  The Kid had his choice and chose to
be a 
hero, no matter the cost."

	Contraption Man sighed.  "In the end, he was just a prisoner of

	"Aren't we all?"

	CM sat for a moment longer, staring at the sun setting over the
then at last stood resolutely.  The Kid was gone, but his sacrifice had
given them all a second chance, one that Contraption Man was determined
to waste.  "Come on, Ninj, let's go."

	The two walked off into the sunset.



A trio of tales to tantalize, featuring everyone's favorite barbarian,
RetConan!  Marvel to his origin as he fights the evil Squishi the Goo
Wizard! Delight in Jamas' tale of familial love as RetConan and his
father fight to save his mother!  And finally, learn the stunning fate
worse than death that one day awaits RetConan in a tale by Martin

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