[REPOST/LNH] Saviors of the Net #17 (1/2) -- THE FINAL CHAPTER!

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 16 20:40:13 PDT 2006

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Date: 20 Mar 2000 18:02:29 -0000
From: marcs at wam.umd.edu (Marc Singer)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Subject: [LNH] Saviors of the Net #17 (part 1 of 2)

Legacy House presents...


by Marc Singer

(Net.ropolis.  The Supposedly Abandoned Warehouse headquarters of
Dr. Vivian Net.ropolis:

    (Adler Stim, a.k.a. the self-described "Ultimate Savior," and his
partner Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man, both formerly of the Saviors
of the Net, have led Doctor Stomper to the warehouse of Dr.
Net.ropolis, believing their former ally is working with the Mechanical
Author--a tyrannical "perfect author" which is trying to take control of
the entire Looniverse.
    (The Saviors have learned that Dr. Net.ropolis was in fact trying
to stop the Author.  But just as they learned this, the warehouse was
raided by members of the LNH, who were hunting the Saviors for their
kidnapping of Doctor Stomper.  Before Stomper could explain, Self-
Righteous Preacher destroyed Dr. Net.ropolis's machine, the only hope of
stopping the Author--but this was because the Preacher was in fact
possessed by Vice, a malign entity who is now attempting to slay the
Saviors of the Net with his giant flaming upside-down cross--hey, watch
where you're swinging that thing--!!!)

    Kid Recap, who was leading a second force of LNHers into the
warehouse, got clobbered by Vice because he was too busy running his
yap instead of ducking like everyone else.  With a few more swings, Vice
scattered the other Legionnaires, especially Always-Seems-Powerful-On-
His-Own-But-Gets-His-Ass-Kicked-in-Crowd-Scenes Boy.

    Then Vice turned his attention back to Dr. Stomper, Dr.
Net.ropolis, and the Ultimate Savior.  "Whatsamatter, *Adler*?" said the
leering man in the black leather parody of a minister's outfit.  "Aren't you
going to protect your friends?  What kind of Savior are you, anyway?"

    It didn't help that the Savior and Dr. Stomper were both dressed
as extras from "Cats."

    But the real problem was that the Ultimate Savior had no powers
anymore.  (Not since last year, when the Mechanical Author nearly
retconned him out of existence,) Kid Recap moaned briefly, before
passing out again.  All the Savior could do was throw himself in front of
the two scientists and hope that Vice's club got stuck somewhere in his
ribcage.  Sensing the fear, Vice stepped in and raised his cross for the

    When a figure in black shot out of a crushed crate and tackled the
possessed preacher.  Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man punched Vice
repeatedly, moving in a flurry of sticky rubber spiders, bouncing bat
wings, and plastic rats, all of which were glued to his... rather baroque
costume.  "Nobody touches the Savior," VDSCMan rasped.  "Not
without... pain."

    Vice made no resistance at all, simply started laughing.  "Go
ahead, hero!  Abuse me all you want!  But remember, when you hit me--"
he briefly allowed his face to revert to that of the Self-Righteous
Preacher-- "you're hitting one of your own!"

    Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man thought about it for a
moment.  "I can live with that," he said, resuming the beating.

    "Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  Okay, I'm calling your bluff!  I'm calling your--
OW!  QUIT IT!"  Vice flailed under VDSCMan, trying to ward off his
blows, to no avail.  "You frickin' PSYCHO!  Here, HAVE your damn
hero!  I QUIT!"  Vice departed, somehow restoring the Preacher's
clothes back to normal.

    Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man stood up and admired his
handiwork.  Since he'd saved three people and killed none, he considered
it one of his cleanest jobs ever, not really considering the horrible
he left all over Self-Righteous Preacher's body.  Dusting his hands, he
turned to check on his friends--

    --and found himself staring at a dozen angry LNHers, led by the
sword-wielding Ultimate Ninja.  "Just give me an excuse," said the Ninja.

    "UN, *no*!"  Doctor Stomper ran into the middle of the brewing
fight, waving his arms frantically.  "I know this looks bad, but the Saviors
are trying to help us--the entire Looniverse.  And Vice just destroyed
their best chance to do it."  He glanced glumly at the smoking wreckage
of Dr. Net.ropolis's transmitter.

    "Okay," the Ninja sighed.  "I want everybody back at LNHHQ,
*now*.  And somebody wake this guy up," he said, pointing to Kid
Recap.  "I have a feeling he's got a lot of explaining to do."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

(Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters.)

    One of the more advanced features of the LNH Assembly Room
was its ability to expand or contract depending on the number of heroes
present at any given meeting.  Tesseract generators could fold back the
walls, add chairs, and stretch floorspace to accomodate almost any
crowd.  But today they were straining to contain the heroes.  Self-
Righteous Preacher was still recovering in the infirmary, but the Ultimate
Ninja had summoned nearly every other active Legionnaire on the planet.
Even outlying groups like the Load Island Renegades had come in for
this alert.

    Kid Recap, having just explained the entire history of the Saviors
of the Net and the Mechanical Author, collapsed into a chair and began
gulping down bottles of Gatorade.  (It was the retcon war that really did
him in.)  Ultimate Ninja took the podium and said, "The situation is
critical, people.  Even now, the Mechanical Author is ready to breach the
Fourth Wall and destroy our authors; and if he does, there'll be nothing to
prevent him from taking over the entire Looniverse."  Behind him, Kid
Recap smacked himself in the head, wondering why he couldn't have said
it that quickly.

    "Dr. Net.ropolis," said the Ninja, "is there any way you can
rebuild that transmitter in time to reprogram the Mechanical Author?"

    "I don't think so," she said, "not even with Dr. Stomper and
Contraption Man helping me... those parts were one-of-a-kind.  We'll
have to confront the Author directly."

    "Excuse me," said Adamant-Authority-on-Everything, waving his
hand for attention.  "Do we even need to do anything?  I mean, how can
this Mechanical Author actually enter the real world and kill the authors?
Isn't that just ridiculous?"

    He looked around the crowded room.  "Well, isn't it?"

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

(Planet Earth.  The real one.)

    Steven Howard banged his head on his desk.  The first time he'd
been able to connect up to earthlink.net in weeks, and now some virus
was destroying his hard drive.  The worst part was that it had fried the
new "Saviors of the Net" chapter he'd been working on... the one that
would have finally ended the threat of the Mechanical Author.

    He tried calling the earthlink tech-support people, but the phone
hissed and beeped at him.  Steven thought about reaching around to the
back of the computer to disconnect the modem...

    The telltale scent of ozone stopped his hand just inches from the
metal backing.  Acting on instinct, Steven fished a penny out of his
pocket, threw it on the computer--and recoiled as the penny danced in a
cobalt arc of electricity that set the whole terminal on fire.

    Steven jumped back from the burning computer.  This was no
accident; there could have been enough electricity there to kill a man.
Suddenly, Steven wished he knew the real-world names, phone numbers
and addresses of all the other "Saviors of the Net" writers; without those,
there was no way to warn them.  He'd just have to hope everyone else
was as cautious and patient as he was.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Whistling a merry tune, Tom Russell strolled into his bedroom,
briefly kissed his fingertips and touched them to the lips of the huge
Molly Ringwald poster, and sat down to do some writing.  His computer
still had that weird screen-saver--the one that showed a robot flying out
of the screen--but he ignored that and pulled up his internet connection.
Something was weird about the signal this time... he'd just poke around
back there and take a look...

    As Tom touched the back of his computer, thousands and
thousands of volts shot through his body.  Every hair on his body stood
on end before catching fire.  Tom danced and jerked like a marionette on
a maniacal puppeteer's string, but was unable to remove his hand from
the computer.  Finally, the electricity blasted him into the center of the
bedroom, where he continued his deadly St. Vitus' dance, as his body
burned to a crisp.

    One of the stray sparks landed on the Molly Ringwald poster.  It
flared up just beneath her eye in such a way that she almost seemed to be

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


    Adamant-Authority-on-Everything's diatribe was interrupted
when Fourth Wall Lass clutched her head and collapsed.  "I just felt a
horrible scream," she moaned, "like a... like a..."

    "Like a billion souls crying out in agony and then suddenly being
silenced?" the Adamant Authority yawned.

    "No, more like one soul crying out in agony and being silenced...
and a little relief from everyone else.  But the point is, something just
happened beyond the Fourth Wall!"

    The Assembly Room buzzed to life as Legionnaires began
strapping on guns, buckling utility belts, and preparing for battle.  Dr.
Net.ropolis grabbed her laptop, hoping she could do something with it at
close range; Dr. Stomper, who had just finished changing out of his
"Cats" disguise, stayed close to her.

    Very Disturbed Scary Creature Man laid a hand on the Ultimate
Savior, who had changed back to the street hobo clothes he'd been
wearing for the last year.  "What's wrong, kid?" said VDSCMan.

    "I don't know what good I'm going to be.  I don't have any
*powers* anymore.  I can't even save myself, let alone the Net!"

    VDSCMan shifted uncomfortably.  He wasn't often called upon to
console people.  But he did his best, saying, "Kid, you're the only person
who ever befriended me--even made me one of your Saviors.  You are
the Ultimate Savior."

    The young man flinched at the name.  "No," he said.  "I'm Adler
Stim.  A con artist and a sham."

    The noisy preparations ended when the Ultimate Ninja barked,
"All right, Legionnaires ready!"  He ran to Fourth Wall Lass's side.  "I
know you can hop to the other side of the Fourth Wall," he said
encouragingly, "but can you take us to the Wall itself?"

    "The Threshold... I don't know... I've never moved this many
people before."

    "Well, try," the Ninja commanded.  "I guess..."  His voice turned
shy and embarrassed, but he forged ahead anyway.  "I guess we could do
one of those fruity everybody-holds-hands-and-channels-you-their-power
things, if you think it'll help."

    Fourth Wall Lass noticed Onion Lad was already lining up next to
her.  "Um, no, I think I can do it after all," she said.

    She stood up and raised her hands, silencing the entire LNH.  She
closed her eyes, concentrating, pushing, until beads of sweat rolled down
her forehead...

    And then they disappeared.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    The assorted Legionnaires and Saviors appeared in a bedroom.
They were instantly overwhelmed by the dizzying barrage of sensory
input as they noticed all the details, normally glossed over in the
Looniverse, that were terrifyingly present in the real world:  the
brightness of the clothes piled on the bed, the sounds of a clock ticking,
the texture of the carpet fibers underneath their feet.  The horrible stench
arising from the charred body on the floor.  The crying Molly Ringwald

    "We overshot the Threshold!" said Fourth Wall Lass.  She could
tell because the spandex looked really dorky on everybody, and Ultimate
Ninja's costume had nipples.  "I'll try it again!"

    Fourth Wall Lass concentrated and the heroes disappeared in a
vortex which swept them straight into the room's computer, which
showed a grimacing, vaguely humanoid robot, almost ready to break
through the screen.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Now the heroes stood on a long balustrade, made of some
material that had the texture of marble but the glint of polished steel.  It
was decorated with snaking metallic lines in a design that lay somewhere
between a mosaic and printed circuitry.  The balustrade was filled with
torch-bearing statues, some twenty stories high, that depicted primordial
god-heroes from the dawn of the computer age--mostly guys from those
old Infocom games.  Doctor Stomper only recognized one of the figures,
a humanoid squid pierced by the implements of a thousand deaths.

    This parapet was merely one level on a wall that stretched to the
right and to the left, up and down, as far as the eye could see.  When Dr.
Stomper looked far enough, he could see the wall curving--curving as
gently as spacetime itself.

    "The Fourth Wall," he gasped.

    Then his skeptical scientific mind kicked in.  Out in front of him
he could only see stars and nebulae, the fringes of deep space.  "How can
I even talk out here?" he asked.  "And what's holding us to this wall, and
what are the torches burning?  We ought to be--"

    "Shut UP!"  Fourth Wall Lass said, shaking him.  "Don't ask those
kinds of questions--it's like the Coyote looking down when he knows
damn well he just ran off a cliff!  You're better off not thinking about

    Fortunately, another crisis distracted the Doctor's inquisitive
brain.  Adler Stim pointed over the parapet, shouting, "It's here!"--just as
the titanic body of the Mechanical Author surged out of a nebula and
fired all of its weapons at the Fourth Wall.

    The missiles had barely left the Author's fingertips before the
Ultimate Ninja pointed his katana at the tyrannical creation and screamed,

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    The Mechanical Author's hull sensors were registering several
unanticipated counterattacks on its surface superstructure.  Readjusting
his gaze from the enormous scope of the entire Fourth Wall, the Author
zoomed in on the attacks' projected point of origin and detected the

    Now it understood the nature of the attacks which ricocheted off
its armored skin.  Irony bursts, retcotheric energy... the Author noted
with cold approval that Writers Block Woman was trying to give it, *it*,
writer's block!  A clever strategem--but these were all powers the Author
was immune to, or meta-referential literary techniques it had mastered.
Unleashing a bolt of energy, the Author blew out Irony Man's power
batteries with a burst of feedback.  (As if that weren't ironic enough,
Irony Man's helmet radio then started playing Alanis Morissette.)

    But still, still... these LNHers might have an effect yet.  Ultimate
Ninja was leading a brigade of less powerful heroes in defense of the
Fourth Wall.  The Ninja himself was leaping from missile to missile,
slicing and smashing and detonating them before they could reach the
Wall in bold defiance of the Author's will, not to mention the laws of
physics.  Something would have to be done.

    And so the Author did something.  In its world, as in its
programming, there would be no gap between thought and deed.  All that
it imagined, would happen.

    And all that did not happen, no one would ever be able to

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Sweating, pulse pounding, *grinning* from sheer exhilaration, the
Ultimate Ninja landed on another Mechanical-Author missile.  Strangely,
they looked a bit like ball-point pens with guidance fins.  Balancing his
feet against the fins, UN shifted his weight and threw off the missile's
aim.  He began surfing the missile, skimming it parallel to the Wall, and
waving his swords in twin pinwheels to deflect a barrage of bullets from
the Author's shoulder-cannons.  The Ninja surfed his projectile straight
into another missile, then leaped off just before the collision and rode the
shockwave, tumbling, back onto the parapet.

    Panting, the Ultimate Ninja assessed the situation and stifled his
grin.  The Wall was beginning to tremble from the explosions that got
past the LNH.  "Any luck, Doctor?"

    Dr. Net.ropolis, typing frantically on her laptop, shouted, "He's
not responding to commands!  He's upgraded himself!"

    "Then we need our big guns."  He barked to Doctor Stomper,
"Can we try to contact--"

    As if in answer, a rumbling chord sounded in the airless void
    --"Don't SAY that!" groused Fourth Wall Lass--
    sorry, a rumbling chord sounded in the, er, amazingly hospitable
void.  The chord grew in pitch and volume until it was an ear-splitting
wail and then finally a colossal
    BOOM! as a circular tube opened on the balustrade and out flew
the armored form of... Kid Kirby!!!

    But the Kirbian One's armor was cracked and burnt, and he
spilled rather than flew out of the Boom Tube.  He fell onto the
balustrade and glanced up, barely able to climb to his hands and knees, as
the tube collapsed behind him.

    "I bear ill tidings," gasped Kid Kirby, "for the ascent of the
Author hath not gone unnoticed by the Powers Cosmic.  Master
Workload and Sig.ma do both vie for its power, and their struggle hath
entangled the other deities of the Looniverse as well.  Alas!  In their war
they do jeopardize the fabric of the Looniverse itself, and many would
sooner destroy this fair vale than suffer it to be ruled by another."

    "Oh God," said Dr. Net.ropolis, "That's part of the Author's
scenario.  I wrote that in its programming.  They're following the script
and they don't even know it.  And meanwhile..."  The Wall shuddered
beneath them.

    The armored figure continued to speak.  "My master--" his voice
clicked and whirred-- "My master does all he can to contain the damage
of this celestial war, but it does tax him and his allies greatly.  He doth
lament his absence and hath sent me through Cosmic Storms to assist
thee, and I--"  An arm fell off, revealing wires and circuitry.  "And I hath
failed him...  Master..."  With one final, mournful cry, the Kirbybot's body
collapsed, and his eyes went dark.

    The assembled heroes stood quietly over the fallen robot.
"Forget about him," Ultimate Ninja said, twirling his swords.  "We're still
here.  LNH!  Let's take this fight to the Author--NOW!"

    Wave after wave of hero sprang off the parapets and charged the
Mechanical Author--only to fall before its onslaught of bullets, missiles,
and bombs.  The first wave was so stunned by the ferocity of the attack,
so amazed that the weapons could actually hit and injure them, they fell
almost instantly.

    The Author hovered calmly in space, letting the LNHers approach
before it mowed them down.  Master Blaster tried to shoot it, only to be
drowned in a deluge of return fire.  Soon, unconscious heroes surrounded
the robot like an asteroid belt; anyone who tried to pull their friends back
to safety--as Lite tried to rescue Easily-Discovered Man--got swatted out
cold for their troubles.  Swordmaster and CAW! actually reached the
Author's body, only to find that even their weaponry couldn't dent its
metal skin.  The two Load Island Renegades looked up as a giant fist
hammered down, knocking them senseless.

    "This can't be happening!" Doctor Stomper gasped from the
parapets.  "The-- the LNH always wins!"

    "No," Net.ropolis said coldly, reading the information off her
laptop.  "The Mechanical Author just retconned that."  As she spoke, the
Ultimate Ninja's body tumbled back into the Fourth Wall and slumped
over, unconscious.  "The LNH just lost."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    The Mechanical Author shoved the floating bodies aside with a
slow sweep of its hand.  It had not been able to kill them--yet--but a
simple rewriting of the Looniverse's rules brought things into order.
Made their defeat not only possible, but inevitable.

    The Author turned the full fury of its powers on the Fourth Wall.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


NEXT TIME: Saviors of the Net #17 part 2
           by Marc Singer

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