[REPOST/LNH] Saviors of the Net #16

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 13 19:54:05 PDT 2006

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From: marcs at wam.umd.edu (Marc Singer)
Subject: [LNH] Saviors of the Net #16
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Date: 6 Mar 2000 19:34:04 -0000

Legacy House presents...

(um, that's just a really excited sixteen, not sixteen factorial...)

by Marc Singer

    The sky was the color of superheroes.

    The Net.ropolis morning commute ground to a halt as rubber-
neckers gawked at the garish costumes above them.  In the air, on the
streets, in the waters--a few unlucky heroes even drew "sewer duty" as
every available member of the Legion of Net.Heroes scoured Net.ropolis
for one of their own.  All except No Sense of Direction Man, who
somehow ended up searching Muncie, India.net.

    But the *rest* of them--what a sight!  The wave upon wave of
brave, noble heroes, only occasionally bumping into buildings or low-
flying aircraft, stirred the hearts of every citizen of Net.ropolis.  Except
for three men cowering in an alleyway, under a torn awning for an
abandoned storefront.

    Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man flung his cloak wide, trying
to hide the other two under its protective covering of small furry bats and
plastic monster finger-puppets.  He gazed up hatefully at the heroes
flying in formation.  "Look at them--" he grumbled, "hunting us with
power that should be ours--always saying yes to anyone with a badge or
a flag--just like their parents taught them--"

    "They know not what they do, Very Disturbed Scary Creature
Man," said the Ultimate Savior, crouching under awning and cape.
"They think we kidnapped Doctor Stomper."

    "Which, admittedly, you did," said the doctor.  "Say," he said to
VDSCMan, "I see you have a name again."

    "Name?" the dark vigilante rasped.  "I have always had a name.
For I am the dark mirror of this city, the yang to its yin, the buried and
forgotten crime, the love which dare not speak its--"

    "No, he's right," the Ultimate Savior interrupted.  "You *didn't*
have a name a few minutes ago.  I couldn't remember it and I--oh, no."
The Savior stared down at his hand.

    It was starting to turn transparent.

    "The Mechanical Author!" the Savior screamed.  Then,
remembering the phalanx of heroes looking for them, he dropped his
voice to a whisper.  "He's trying to retcon us out of existence.  We've got
to act before he grows any more powerful!"

    "Then come back to LNHHQ, like I said," offered Dr. Stomper.
"Explain the situation to everyone else.  We can help you..."

    "I fear your fellows would sooner skewer me than listen to me.
Or if not, the Mechanical Author could will it so.  No, I'm sticking to my
original plan.  We're going to find that traitorious worm, Dr. Net.ropolis,
and make her shut down the Author."

    "Okay, then can we at least get out of this alley?" the doctor
asked.  "My back is starting to hurt from all this crouching and... I'm not
sure all of these bats are dead..."

    Ultimate Savior watched the heroes zipping overhead.  "There
must be some way to avoid their ever-present gaze... and the Author's..."

    "You think *bats* are scary?" said Very Disturbed Scary
Creature Man.  "Try having an entire swarm of bouncing rubber sticky
spiders come crashing through your window--"

    "Shut *UP*!"  Dr. Stomper was surprised by his own scream, but
it silenced the other two.  VDSCMan glared at him, and Stomper quickly
added, "What I mean is, I have an idea.  If the Mechanical Author is
trying to turn the Looniverse into an allegory--a work where all meaning
is rigid and absolute--then the best way to foil his retcon powers is to do
something with *no* meaning..."

    Ultimate Savior's glance drifted across the street, to a theatrical
costume supply shop.  "...Something absurd.  Doctor Stomper, we'll
make a Savior of the Net out of you yet!  Let's go!"

    The fugitive heroes, and their alleged captive, waited for a break
in the LNH overflights and then bolted out from under the awning, just as
Bad-Timing Boy stepped into the alley.

    "Hey," he said to the charging form of Very Disturbed Scary
Creature Man.  "Have you guys seen any--oh, sh--"

    He hit the pavement one merciless pummeling later.  The three
fugitives dashed across the street and into the costume shop.

    Fifteen minutes later they emerged in makeup, body stockings,
and furry cat wigs.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    At the boundaries of the multiverse, at the thresholds of the
Fourth Wall, the Mechanical Author noted a strange development in its
monitoring of the Earth.  The last two Saviors of the Net and their
captive had disappeared from its scanners.

    It paid them no mind.  They were as nothing to it now.  The
Mechanical Author accelerated even faster, preparing to destroy the
Fourth Wall and all the rival authors who lay beyond.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    "Hold it, citizens!"  All three fugitives stopped at the commanding
words of the Ultimate Ninja.  Doctor Stomper buried his face in his big
furry gloves and pretended to be reciting his lines, while Ultimate Savior
and Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man turned to face the leader of the

    The Ultimate Ninja stepped forward and examined them.
"Actors, eh?  Well, I've come to ask you if you've seen two super-villains;
one of them looks like a hobo and the other one seems to be wearing a
cape made of lots and lots of toy monsters."  Was that the slightest hint
of a blush playing across the ninja's austere cheekbones?  "Ah... I know
they don't sound like much, but they've kidnapped Doctor Stomper.  We
think they might be in this vicinity."

    The Ultimate Savior tugged on his whiskers and pretended to
think dramatically.  That wasn't too hard--he thought dramatic thoughts
all the time--but not blurting out something like "I am that merry
wanderer of the night" was taking all his energies.  Finally he stifled it
and said, "We know not of such foul miscreants.  What say you, Very
Disturbed... er... Rum Tum Tucker?"

    VDSCMan stepped up to the Ultimate Ninja, hissing, pouting,
and miming little clawing motions at him.

    "This really is rather important, Mister Tucker," the Ninja

    VDSCMan pranced around the Ninja in a circle, clawing and
hissing and sticking his butt out theatrically.

    "I'm sure you'll be a credit to your show."  The Ultimate Ninja
nodded and marched down the street.

    When he'd left, Doctor Stomper pulled his hands out of his
mittens and looked at Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man.  "That was
some phenomenal acting," he said.

    VDSCMan blinked.  "Acting?"

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Planet Earth.  The real one.

    Tom Russell sat down at his computer and turned it on, barely
able to contain his enthusiasm.  After a year off... a year he somehow
never could quite explain... he was eager to write another chapter of
"Saviors of the Net."  One that really stuck it to that Mechanical Author.

    But for some reason he couldn't connect up to AOL, and
something kept triggering his computer's virus detection software.
"Frickin' viruses," he muttered, leaving the computer unattended.  After a
few minutes, the monitor switched over to the screensaver.

    Except it didn't show the normal screensaver of hundreds of stars
racing towards the edge of the screen.  This time, it only showed one
object, very far off.

    But it was getting closer.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Doctor Stomper peered at the tiny gadget he'd MacGyvered
together.  "Well, I *am* detecting continuity flux," he said.  More and
more, his observations were convincing him that Ultimate Savior's crazy
story about a massive, unnoticed retcon was actually true.  "It seems to
be focused somewhere in the Supposedly Abandoned Warehouse district."

    "By the forges of creation!" Ultimate Savior cursed.  "That's the
first place the LNH will look if they think we're supervillains.  But press
on we must..."

    "It's a bit of a trip to get there," Dr. Stomper said.  "We need to
pass under the Conveniently Destroyable Elevated Train, then curve
around the Filled With Innocent Bystanders Expressway... boy, the
chamber of commerce needs to do something about those names..."

    "They are but signs that the Fourth Wall is weakening." the
Savior announced glumly.  "And *this*..."

    He pointed straight ahead, where a gleaming roadway led directly
to row after row of boarded-up warehouses.  All around them,
Net.ropolis's streets had reformed into a neat, orderly grid.

    "At least the traffic is moving along smoothly now," Stomper
said, watching the morning congestion untangle.

    "Yes," sneered the Savior, "so they can all report to identical jobs
which all symbolize the same deadening crush of modern life."  He pointed
to the line of cars--all sport-utility vehicles, naturally--filled with
the same depressed drivers staring the same vacant stares.  "It's like being
stuck in _American Beauty_.  The allegory's getting worse.  We don't
have much time."

    "That's okay," Dr. Stomper said, checking the new readings on
his continuity.gadget.thingy.  "Dr. Net.ropolis's lab is straight ahead."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man took the lead, scaling the
warehouse's crumbling brick wall and dropping inside through an old
chimney.  Dr. Stomper and the Ultimate Savior waited outside, flinching
whenever an LNH patrol passed nearby.  A few moments later, a heavy
steel door nudged open.

    "Security system's disabled," said VDSCMan.  He nodded to a
state-of-the-art infrared camera, which had a big plastic rat shoved up its
lens.  The heroes crept inside.

    They passed row after row of empty crates, on pathways strewn
with crushed packing peanuts; piles of scavenged pieces of super-
technology, their parts cannibalized from within; a large pile of "Saviors
of the World" comic books, many of which seemed to show some
armored man named "Alt. Lord" struggling to claw his way out of the
covers.  When they smelled the first acid tinge of ozone, Very Disturbed
Scary Creature Man waved for everyone to hit the dirt.  They crawled
around a crate, and beheld Dr. Vivian Net.ropolis.

    She was typing at a keyboard.  The keyboard and its monitor
were normal enough, but they'd been welded into a huge conglomeration
of machines that culminated in a giant metal cone, tapering off into a nest
of antennae which jutted out a skylight.  Dr. Stomper had a sudden flash
of _deja vu_--he remembered this woman, she'd been one of his students,
he'd tried to reason with her, and--  "Oh my God," Stomper said, sitting
down heavily on the floor.  "It's all *real*."

    Very Disturbed Creature Man had no such epiphany.  He jumped
over the crate and slammed his feet into the small of Dr. Net.ropolis's
back, driving her face-first into the monitor.

    Dr. Stomper, appalled at this demonstration of un-Looniverse-like
conduct, was already reaching for a small neural stunner.  Ultimate
Savior, moving with a glimmer of his old speed, reached his teammate
first and pulled him off Net.ropolis.  Stomper hoped this might calm the
disturbed vigilante, but the Savior wasn't any calmer when she shook Dr.
Net.ropolis and screamed, "How *dare* you join forces with the
Mechanical Author?"

    Dr. Net.ropolis stared up at him through her broken glasses.
"You're one to talk, Adler."

    The Ultimate Savior was so shocked, he nearly dropped her.
"Wh-what?"  His voice became a broken, adolescent crackle.

    "You heard me.  Adler Stim.  Penny-ante hacker who stumbled
onto my plot to create the Saviors of the Net, and wanted in.  Had me,
the Retcon RACCoon, and Gothic Gorilla imbue him and his stupid hula
hoop with the powers of a superhero--a false one, who would play the
people of Looniearth for all they were worth.  You know a little
something about throwing in with evil too, Adler."

    "That... that was long ago.  Now that I know the full scope of the
disaster the Mechanical Author will cause, I oppose him with every fiber
of my being."

    "And so do I, Adler."  The doctor spoke with astonishing cool,
trying to keep the hobo or the vigilante from attacking her again.  "Your
own words changed my mind, remember?"

    "So why have you been hiding for the past year," Dr. Stomper
asked her, "while your creation ran amok?"

    Dr. Net.ropolis noticed her former mentor, and smirked at his cat
make-up and legwarmers.  "You see, Vincent--or was it Victor?"  She
pulled out a small pad and jotted down a note, muttering "Another
retcotheric side-effect...  You see, the Author tried to retcon *me* out of
existence too.  I only survived by taking Gothic Gorilla's pin..."  She
pointed to the trinket, an inverted ankh with a smiley face, that sat on her
white lab coat.  "But everyone else's memories of me, my patents, my
bank accounts... all gone.  I had to start over from scratch.  It took
a year just to get this communicator.thingy up and running."

    Dr. Stomper furrowed his newly-painted eyebrows.  "But what
have you been *doing*, exactly?"

    "First I had to rope a new, real author into restarting our efforts
to stop the Mechanical one... a non-LNH writer, who wouldn't be
affected by the Apathy Beast energies.  I figured one of the grimmer ones
would do nicely."

    VDSCMan spat something black and wriggly onto the floor. "So
we just use him to frag the Mechanical Author, then."

    "No, the new-author ploy was a one-shot deal," Net.ropolis
explained.  "As soon as he started the story, he became part of the
continuity too, as vulnerable as any of them.  (And his grasp of the LNH
is fragmentary to say the least...)"

    "What was that?" snapped the three men.

    "Nothing!  Nothing.  I've spent the last few weeks reconstructing
my original programming.  In as little as a few hours, I should be able to
send the signal that will shut down the Mechanical Author... assuming
you three haven't brought the Author's attention down on me."

    Ultimate Savior smacked himself in the head.  "You don't need to
worry--about the *Author's* attention--"

    The skylight shattered as the Ultimate Ninja dropped through,
followed by Self-Righteous Preacher, Irony Man, Mainstream Man,
Cannon Fodder, even Easily-Discovered Man and Lite.  The Ninja
bounced off the communications.thingy and slammed into VDSCMan's
midsection, knocking the vigilante into a pile of crates which Irony Man
promptly tumbled onto him, inasmuch as they were filled with bouncing
rubber plastic spiders.  The other LNHers surrounded Ultimate Savior,
while Lite yanked Dr. Stomper away from him.

    "No, stop!" Stomper screamed.  "UN, they're on the level--they're
trying to save us--!"

    The Ninja, pointing his katana and wakizashi at the Ultimate
Savior's throat, weighed this new information carefully:  was Stomper
telling the truth?  Or had they already brainwashed him?  But behind him,
Self-Righteous Preacher bellowed, "This infernal device will menace you

    --and with one mighty swing of his gigantic cross-shaped club, he
destroyed Dr. Net.ropolis's communications.thingy.

    "NO!" Vivian Net.ropolis screamed, "YOU FOOL!"

    The Ultimate Ninja leveled one of his swords at the Preacher.  "I
didn't authorize that, SRP--"

    "Of course you didn't," the Preacher chuckled.  Was it a trick of
the light, or did his clothes look more... leathery?  "But I'm not following
your orders anymore, baby.  I'm not following anybody's.  Not even my
own."  He pointed at his head and rolled his eyes in the internationally-
accepted sign for 'the recipient of this pointing is one crazy mofo.'
"Y'see, the Preacher's been dead for a year, baby... you can call me
Scratch, or Anti-Christ Lad, or just plain Vice."

    Dr. Stomper remembered again.  "He was possessed--" he banged
his head into his cat mittens-- "and he has been for an entire year..."

    Laughing like a madman, as madmen often do, Vice swung his
club, creating a huge arc of energy that scattered the LNHers.  Except
Cannon Fodder, who it fried to a crisp.  Then he turned to Dr.
Net.ropolis, Dr. Stomper, and the Ultimate Savior...

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Billions of miles away, the Mechanical Author noted this latest
development with the closest thing it could approximate to satisfaction.
Choosing that moment to re-continuitize the Preacher's possession had
been a perfect decision.  Naturally.  It was not capable of anything less.

    The Mechanical Author aimed its mighty gauntlets at the Fourth
Wall, and activated its weapons systems.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


--Thank you, Vitale Man.  Now I'm going to take a stab at this credits
thing.  Ultimate Savior, VDSCMan, Dr. Net.ropolis, the Mechanical
Author, and the Saviors of the Net created by Arthur Spitzer.
Ultimate Ninja and Self-Righteous Preacher created by wReam.
EDM and EDMLite created by Rob Rogers.
No Sense of Direction Man created by Steven Howard.
Vice created by Tom Russell.
Tom Russell created by Mr. and Mrs. Russell.
That last joke created by whoever did "Bambi vs. Godzilla."  I'm sorry,
guys.  Really.
"Cats" created by Andrew Lloyd Webber, may God help us all.
Everybody else created by somebody else.  Nobody created by me, and
that's the way I like it, uh-huh uh-huh.
Written by Marc Singer.

NEXT TIME: Saviors of the Net #17
           by Marc Singer

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