LNH: Beige Midnight #4: Imperium Hex Part IV: 'The Coronation' (3/4)

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Wed Feb 25 22:28:14 PST 2009

Beginning of Part III

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****


Easily-Discovered Bran Mite was becoming very thirsty.

He was watching the battle between the Freedom Chippers and members of 
the LNH Resistence wage on while sitting within the head of the Mynabird 
suit (still disguised into looking like Easily-Discovered Man Lite). 
His tiny legs crawled over to a tiny soda machine near his command 
center and he took out some very tiny quarters to put into the machine. 
  He pushed some buttons and a tiny little soda can came out.  He popped 
the cap and took a swig.  "Ah," he said in very high pitched voice. 
"Now that's mites pop!"  An idea popped into his head.  He went back to 
his command station and started to click various switches and buttons.

Turning the suits head towards Vector Sublime, he started to converse 
with her.  "Hmm, VS -- I was thinking about how you rewrote the 
programming on Dr. Virus Love Freedom Chip.  Do you think you could do 
that to all of these Freedom Chippers?"

"You want me to French kiss all of them?" she said slightly taken aback.

"Well, no -- I guess not.  That would probably attract too much unwanted 
attention.  Hmm.  Maybe you could just scout for some exciting prospects 
and convert them."

"As you wish."  Vector Sublime split into a number of copies.  Each copy 
flew off into a different direction.

As she left, Easily-Discovered Bran Mite noticed that some type of 
energy was starting to surround his suit and the other people in the 
crowd.  What was it?  Where was it coming from?  He clicked a few more 
buttons and scanned the area.  The energy barrier was coming from Kid Kirby.

"Ah.  So, Kirby's trying to protect us poor innocents from the carnage 
of battle.  How compassionate and merciful of him.  But I think we 
innocent bystanders are able to take the harsh realities of the real 
world. Flying.Altogether.Too.Naked.Villain, please tear down this cosmic 
security blanket that's smothering us."

"My pleasure," said a man who thankfully was wearing clothes at the 
moment.  But how long would that moment last? 
Flying.Altogether.Too.Naked.Villain held up his red-tined Trident of 
Power and focused it on Kid Kirby's energy blanket.  The blanket started 
to dissipate as a red energy from the trident washed through the crowd. 
  A Red Energy bright enough to tear away at the beigeness of the world.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Kid Kirby was at the moment battling at least 40 or so Freedom Chippers. 
  He could feel the force that was slowly sapping away at his protection 
field that was supposed to prevent the innocent bystanders and 
historical landmarks from being harmed.  A red wave breaking his own wave.

Someone was contesting with his will.  Someone almost as powerful as 
him.  He could start to feel the punches from the Freedom Chippers.  The 
blasts of energy that were being fired at him.

He could see his teammates being overwhelmed by Hex Luthor's Freedom 
Chip Hero Army.  He could feel their weariness.  And he could see the 
beigeness that surrounded it all.  A beigeness that no one seemed 
powerful enough to lift.

And for a brief second Kid Kirby felt doubt.  The doubt didn't last 
long, but it bothered him.  He shouldn't feel doubt.  But he did.

He would try to beat the red energy wave.  No!  He would beat the energy 
wave!  But even the Kirbian had limits.  And he was reaching them.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Mr. Tiddles slinked off the stage.  Everything was a bit too noisy.  He 
couldn't nap.  Not like this.  Time to find a quieter place.  Time to...

"Not so fast!"  Mr. Tiddles felt a hand -- a human female hand -- grab 
him by his neck fur.  It was the human Catalyst Lass.  Or perhaps her 
look a like HellCatalyst.  He used his full power on her mind.  But 
nothing happened.

"Tsk.  Tsk.  What are we going to do with you?" said Catalyst Lass 
shaking her finger at him.

"Time to lock him away into the Wittle Kitty Kat Big House, I imagine," 
said the other Catalyst Lass who was holding a tiny cat cage that the 
Catalyst Lass who was holding him shoved him into.

"Don't think they have one those, Helly," said Catalyst Lass shutting 
the lock.

"Ooh!  Then we'll have to make one!" HellCatalyst said with a slightly 
crazed look emerging in her eyes.  "I can see it now!  Pink bars!  A 
little exercise yarn room!  Little adorable kitty kat prison outfits! 
Oh, it will be so cute!  We have to do this!"

Mr. Tiddles made a scowling face as he hissed.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Felix Landers the hero known as Fearless Leader jumped and twirled his 
way into the madness of battle.  Dodging out of the way of some of the 
Freedom Chippers he made his way behind the stage.  He found a place 
with good cover.  No one would see him here.

He could see Irony Man, Hex Luthor, and the Ultimate Ninja who was 
probably wReamicus Maximus guarding Luthor.  Or maybe it was another 
clone.  Didn't really matter.

He readied his weapon.  He put in a bullet that could pierce through the 
bulletproof glass that guarded Irony Man's eyes.  The bullet would break 
through the glass, flying through his eye and into his brain killing him 
instantly.  He had practiced the shot before in the Peril Room.  He 
could do it.  But should he do it?

There was some part of Felix Landers that wanted to do it.  Wasn't this 
all Irony Man's fault?  Hadn't he betrayed the LNH?  Hadn't he forced 
the LNH into this pointless Civil War?  Everyone should be banded 
together working to defeat the Bryttle Brothers.  That's the way it 
should be.  But it wasn't.  Irony Man had poisoned the LNH.  And now the 
LNH was weak.  Vulnerable when they should be strong.  And Ripping 
Dancer.  It was Irony Man's group that had destroyed her.  And maybe the 
rest of Irony Man's group were just a bunch of immoral monsters, but 
Irony Man should have known better.

But now the world was poisoned because of him.  The Beige was smothering 
all the goodness out of the world.  Everything was decaying.  All the 
heroes.  He was decaying.  And some part of him didn't care.  It was all 
hopeless.  He knew this world was doomed.

But isn't this what Dekay and Diskolor wanted?  For him to kill Irony 
Man.  It didn't make sense.  No, they didn't want him dead.  They wanted 
him alive.  They wanted him to keep poisoning the world.  They were 
playing mind games hoping he wouldn't kill him.  Yes, that had to be it.

He was going to have to kill him.  Because it didn't really matter 
anyways.  The world was doomed.  No one could save it anymore.  And 
someone had to pay for that.

He pointed the gun and cocked back the hammer.  Just one click of the 
trigger.  One click.

It was now or never.  Now.  Now!

Fearless Leader put the gun down.

Never, I guess.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

"Are you talking to me?" said Mr. Nasty (tm) in his Ultimate Savior 
guise as he floated above a very angry Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man 
who was throwing rubber rats at him.

"Come down and fight me you coward!"

"Didn't I already kill you?" mused Mr. Nasty.  "Maybe I'm thinking of 
someone else.  It's hard to keep track these days.  All the animals I've 
killed.  But no, as much as I'd like to give you your death wish..." he 
looked at his watch, "I have much more important people to kill today. 
Instead I'll leave you to your former colleagues.  Enjoy!"  Mr. Nasty 
flew off leaving him with the current incarnation of the Saviors of the Net.

There were some of them who the Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man 
recognized.  Old friends.  Mood Arrow.  The Human Aquarium.  Retcon 
RACCoon.  Arc.  The Lava Lamp.  And some were new faces.  And new 
versions of dead members like Captain Killfile.  All of them were being 
controlled by Freedom Chips.

They surrounded Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man and started to blast 
and attack him.  Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man gritted his teeth and 
began rolling with the punches.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

12 seconds later...

Mr. Nasty scanned the huge battle that was happening looking for the 
ones who had scattered his molecules all over Net.ropolis.  Ah ha, he 
thought as he saw a helpless Bad Timing Boy who was struggling to get 
out from under the Flying Bicycle he had crashed to the ground.  Looks 
like you're going to be the first one.  First one today.  The only 
question was how long he should take.  Short.  Or long.  Maybe just 
medium, he thought smiling as he walked over.  Couldn't spend all day on 
this, which was a shame.

"Hey Ultimate Savior!" cried Bad Timing Boy.  "Look out behind you!"

Huh?  Did Bad Timing Boy think he was that dumb to fall for... 
"Auhhhhrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!" screamed Mr. Nasty as a wave of lava 
splashed down on him.

Mr. Nasty quickly erupted out of the cooling lava mound and reformed 
himself into a charred and very warped looking Ultimate Savior.  The 
handsome messiah looks were gone.  All that was left was a monster with 
a melted face.  He looked to see who was responsible for this and saw to 
his amazement the Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man with the Lava Lamp 
in one hand and the Killfile Gauntlet covering his other hand.  A bow 
and arrow holder filled with mood arrows was strapped to his back. 
"You?!  How!?  Where are the Saviors?!"

"I tucked them away in a Killfile, Nasty.  Are you ready to feel pain?"

Mr. Nasty laughed.  "Well, I guess I will have to kill you after all. 
Still, with all those toys you're wearing perhaps you'll be a little 
more of a challenge."

Mr. Nasty was right.  One click on this button, thought 
Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man to himself, and he could killfile him 
away forever.  It would be simple.  Too simple.  And he'd never know. 
Who was the contender.  And who was the pretender.  And he had to know. 
  He had to know.  Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man dumped the Killfile 
Gauntlet, Lava Lamp, and Mood Arrows on the ground.

"What -- What the hell are you doing?" said Mr. Nasty in disbelief as he 
puzzled over Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man's actions.

"I don't need those things.  Just need my hands."  He cracked his 
knuckles.  "And my rubber Rat-A-Rangs."  And then a completely insane 
expression took over the Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man's face and 
lunged at Mr. Nasty.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

12 seconds later...

Oh, bleeding.  Internal injuries.  Must not black out.  Broken ribs. 
Broken legs.  Must fight.  Must...

Mr. Nasty gave Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man another kick in the 
ribs.  "Well, that was kind of fun.  But I guess I should finish this 
off.  I have a lot more people to kill.  Can't spend all day with you. 
Any last growls?"

"My -- My Little-Monkey-wrench Lad..."

"What the *Hell*?!  Does that mean anything?" Mr. Nasty said shrugging 
his hands.

"You know, you did have a female sidekick called Little-Monkey-wrench 
Lass.  Just so you know," said the Ghost of Monkey-wrench Lass.

"*Hush*, Monkey-wrench Lass!  He can't hear you.  Or me," scolded the 
Ghost of Monkey-wrench Lad.

"Whatever," shrugged the Ghost of Monkey-wrench Lass.

"Well, I guess those are your last word.  Now, let's see what sound your 
head makes as I crush it with my foot.  I think it will go crunch, but I 
could be wrong."  Mr. Nasty lifted his foot up.

Before he could do that though a punch that felt like a thousand ton 
Asteroid sent him to the ground.  He looked up to see who had hit him. 
It was a man whose face couldn't really be seen.  His whole body was 
brightly glowing the colors Red, White, and Blue.  So bright that they 
burned away the beige world that surrounded him.  So incredibly bright 
that Mr. Nasty couldn't look at his face, yet he knew who he was.

"You -- You're Dead!"

"Well, we all know what a revolving door that is," the hero said as he 
smiled a smile full of hope blazing like the Sun.

"Kid..." said Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man his last word as he 
passed out.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Mr. Nasty thought about making an exit at that point.  If this were the 
real Ultimate Savior he might not win this battle.  Still, there was 
something not quite right here.  "Where's your Holy Hoop?  If you're the 
real deal."

"Don't need it anymore.  I've gone beyond that.  I have the power to 
make everything I dream real.  Everything I hope real.  I can devour the 
darkness and transform it into light.  I am the kick in Kingdom Come. 
And I have you to thank for this."

"Me?  Why thank me?"

"Because your killing of my friend the Gothic Gorilla brought me back. 
You see the Gothic Gorilla cast one final spell when you killed him. 
Didn't you notice the incantation scrawled all over the Gorilla's 
shower.  But he needed a sacrifice.  A blood sacrifice to make his 
Resurrection Spell work.  And so you helped him do that.  You allowed me 
to come back.  And now that I'm back, I plan to destroy all of the evil 
in the world.  To make the world a paradise it should have always been. 
  And you are to thank for all of this.  Your murder has saved the world 
and made your kind obsolete."

"No!  This is a lie!  It has to be lie!"

"Are you ready to become History?"

"Never!  I'll kill you!!  I'll..."  Mr. Nasty became a blob and flowed 
over the Ultimate Savior and attempted to pour himself inside the ears 
and nose and mouth of the Ultimate Savior trying to destroy him within. 
  But he couldn't enter the Ultimate Savior.  And a crackle of Red, 
White, and Blue energy surged out of the Ultimate Savior and trapped the 
blob into an energy bubble.  He focused on the blob and split it into 
two parts.  The blob screamed an unearthly scream when this happened. 
He then focused on both of the energy bubbles causing each one to shrink 
compressing the split Mr. Nasty until the blobs had become the size of 
marbles.  He grabbed both of the energy bubbles in his hand and with his 
other hand he created a crack within reality and reached into the crack 
grabbing two tiny bottles that were held there.

He opened the bottles and dropped the energy bubbles into separate ones. 
  And then he closed the bottles.  "Now it is your time to go to the 
Beginning and to the End, Mr. Nasty."  And he mumbled some strange words 
and the two bottles disappeared from his hands.

The Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man stumbled over to his friend. 
"Kid!  Adler!  You're -- you're..."

But the image of the Ultimate Savior faded before the 
Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man could reach him.  In his place was a 
very weary looking gorilla dressed in black trenchcoat covered in shiny 
silver pins.

"Sorry, friend.  He's still gone."  The Gothic Gorilla sat on the ground 
exhausted by the spells he had just preformed.  He had little energy left.

"Gone?  He was never... it was a trick."  A flash of anger overtook the 
Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man's face.  "Why?"

"Thought it would be poetic justice."

"Why didn't you tell me you were still alive?"

"Less people who knew the better my plan would work.  I needed the 
HexFire Club to be overconfident.  The more they thought they were 
unstoppable the more careless they'd become.  And the more infighting 
would happen within the group.  Plus I needed to be off the radar to 
find those bottles I trapped Mr. Nasty in.  They're hard to come by."

"Where did you send him?"

"To the Beginning.  And End.  More specifically to the Big Bang and Big 
Crunch.  I think it will take him awhile to get together again."

"I'm -- I'm glad you're back."  The Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man 
touched the Gothic Gorilla's shoulder.  "But.  If you *ever* do that to 
me again -- Ever.  I'll be the one who kills you.  Count on it."

The Gothic Gorilla smiled.  "I will.  Better get you to a hospital."

"No.  Fight's not over."

The Gothic Gorilla shook his head.  "For us -- it's..."  Before the 
Gothic Gorilla could continue something in the sky grabbed his 
attention.  "No!  It can't be!  He's got the..."

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Back in the Middle East --

"Ack!" went Twitter, and suddenly attacked Retcon Lad.  "I'm under 
control of the Freedom Chip and you're going to have to stop me!" the 
speedster exclaimed, even as she was leaping across the cabin of the 
flight.thingee and grabbing Retcon Lad by the head and beating his 
forehead repeatedly against the wall very quickly.  Her speech was a 
hurried blurt, but her actions were even faster.  By the time the others 
were reacting she had already let go of him and letting him slide down 
to the floor in a state of dazed shock and was moving on to her next victim.

Who was the Net.Elementalist.  He at least had time for a startled 
attempt to react, but she was faster.  She bounced around the room as he 
tried to lag her, anticipating his counter attack both because she had 
been on the receiving end of his lag fields before, and because her 
telepathy let her subconsciously read and anticipate their reactions. 
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid realised this, and yelled, "Everyone attack 
her at once!  Don't co-ordinate, just dog-pil... OOOF!"

There was a confused moment of fighting, made all the more difficult by 
being in an enclosed space.  The Net.Elementalist took to the air, or at 
least to the ceiling, intending to lag everything on the floor below 
him.  But while he was gaining the high ground, Twitter had dodged 
Fourth Wall Lass, but in turn had had her leg grabbed by ARAK.  She 
tried disentangling herself by shaking her leg at high speed, and within 
half a second had managed to throw him off and also kick ARAK in the 
face a few dozen times.

However, that was long enough for the Net.Elementalist target her.  He 
blanketed the area around her and in process lagged the other 
Legionnaires as well.  Then he immediately began restricting the region 
of lag until it covered only Twitter.  Finally, as Lenny (still piloting 
the flight.thingee) and the bemused djinni looked on, he descended to 
the floor.

"So," said the Net.E.  "Despite all the angsting we've through about 
whether it was better for Twitter to have the Freedom Chip and perhaps 
be used by Hex Luthor, or not have the Chip and not have control of her 
powers, we *didn't actually take any precautions* to keep her from 
falling under outside control."

"Uhm... no.  Doesn't look like it," admitted ARAK, who was using a 
handkerchief to staunch the blood flowing from his nose.

The Net.Elementalist rubbed the bridge of his nose wearily.  "I've been 
living in this universe too long.  I'm not supposed to make mistakes 
like that," he complained.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

And Useless Background Music Character clicked another button and the 
song 'Undun' by the Guess Who turned on.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Washington, DC --

Manga Man made his way towards his Newsgroup.thingee, which allowed him 
to shift into other newsgroups.  Hex's plan was starting to sour.  He 
had seen this many times before.  He had a sense for the changing tide, 
and well -- it didn't look good for the HexFire Club.  There would be 
other days.  Other world conquering plans.  But now was the time to 
reach for safer shores.  Go back home.

It was kind of a shame.  For a brief moment, Manga Man thought that Hex 
might actually pull it off.  But, oh well.  That's the way it goes. 
Besides the fact that this Beigeness that loomed over everything was 
starting to depress him.  And it probably wasn't good for his skin. 
Time to move on.

He should probably wait it out in rec.arts.manga till Beige Midnight 
finished.  He wasn't confident that the LNH could defeat the Bryttle 
Brothers.  Well, they probably could.  But who knows?  Not something he 
would bet on.

Before he could reach his ship, he fell into something.  A hole in the 
ground?  No, more of a tear.  That hadn't been there before.  His leg 
was caught.  He then noticed that blades of grass were starting to rip 
from the ground.  His force field protection was flickering off.  He 
pushed a button on his belt, but it wasn't working.  Something was 
tearing through the wires that made it work.  Something was coming. 

He could see her twirling and spinning towards him.  His butterfly -- 
now a hurricane.  A breathtaking fury that nothing could stop.  His 
Ripping Dancer.

"Ah, Tara.  You..."  He could feel the business suit he was wearing 
start to shred apart.  "Let's talk this..."  But she wasn't listening to 
him.  And she danced till his last stitch of clothing was completely 
shredded on him.

And then she looked at him.  There was a dead expression on her face. 
No anger.  Just contempt.  "All your tech weapons.  I tore their insides 
out.  You've got nothing."

"Well.  Looks like you've defeated me.  And humiliated me, of course," 
said Manga Man as he smirked.  "Well done.  Guess it's off to jail, right?"

Ripping Dancer shook her head.  "No.  There's no jail for people like 
you.  I know you're an ambassador for rec.arts.manga and have diplomatic 
immunity.  They'll just let you go.  And you'll just keep hurting people 
and destroying lives.  I think I have to end that.  No.  I am going to 
end that."

"And how, may I ask, are you planning on doing that?  Going to kill me?"

"Yes.  That's the plan.  I'm going to shred every part of you."

"If you do that..."

"What?  I'll be as bad as you?"  Ripping Dancer laughed.  "Considering 
my current life expectancy -- I can live with that."

"Tara, let's just..."

"No.  No more talking."  Ripping Dancer pressed her index finger against 
her lips.  "No.  It's time to dance."

"Tara!"  The grin fell off of Manga Man's lips.  He struggled to remove 
his leg from the crevice it was trapped in.  Ripping Dancer raised a leg 
and both her arms.  Her hands touched each other.  And like a ballet 
dancer she began to spin on one foot.  A tear ripped down Manga Man's 
cheek revealing a red washed out by the beigeness.  Pain shot over Manga 
Man's face.

But before more harm could fall onto Manga Man, Ripping Dancer felt a 
violent jerk as a hand grabbed her shoulder interrupting her next dance 

"You're not doing this, Tara."  It was Fearless Leader.

"Do not.  Touch!"  Ripping Dancer ripped from Fearless Leader's grip.  A 
tsunami of venom flashed from her eyes.

"You're better than this."

Ripping Dancer laughed.  "And you know me so well, right?  News flash -- 
I'm not better than this.  Yeah, I'm full of selfish hate.  And I don't 
care.  I want revenge.  I want him dead.  He deserves it."

"We can't..."

"We can't judge?  Of course we can!  Well, maybe not you -- Mr. 
Purer-than-thou-Boy-Scout Lad.  But we can't all be you?  Can we?"

"It's Dekay and Diskolor.  They're doing this to us.  They're decaying 
our compassion.  Our sense of right and wrong.  Our..."

"No.  It' me.  It's just..."  A loud boom interrupted her.  She turned 
her head around to see a flash of light as Manga Man's newsgroup.thingee 
left rec.arts.comics.creative.  "You bastard!  Look what you -- He's 
gone! Because of you -- because of..."

"We'll find him."

"We'll?  We're not doing anything!  It's over -- don't you get it? 
We're not boyfriend and girlfriend!  The good times are over!  We're 
nothing!  Nothing!"

"I know.  You're in love with Thread Bear.  It doesn't..."

"No.  It's more than that -- I'm a villain.  Don't you get it?"


"You don't get it, do you?  What do I need to do?  Cackle more?  Perhaps 
wear something even sluttier than this?  Hmm?"  Ripping Dancer slid her 
finger along her tight torn black leather outfit.  "Would you like that? 
  For me to wear something even sluttier?  Hmm?  I think you would.  I 
think you're imagining it right now."  Ripping Dancer let out a laugh.

"Tara!"  Fearless Leader's eyes were filled with anger.

"We're going to have fight, aren't we?  That's the only way you'll truly 
know what I am.  Hero vs Villain.  Then you'll understand."

"I'm not going to fight you."

"Guess you're going to lose then."

"I guess so."

"And what am I going to do when I finish tearing you apart?  Hmm?  Maybe 
I'll tear this whole world in half.  Think I have the power to do that? 
  Guess I'll find that out."  Ripping Dancer looked at the world that 
surrounded her.  "It deserves to be torn apart.  This world.  It's an 
ugly place filled with ugly people.  People that can only think of 
themselves.  Shallow people who can only love what's beautiful.  Hateful 
ugly people that don't know how good they've got it.  Who want so much. 
  Too much.  People who deserve to get cancer because they're so weak. 
So weak that they sell their souls.  That they -- They deserve -- This 
world deserves -- God, it deserves..."  A tear fell from Ripping 
Dancer's eye.  "Just -- just leave.  Leave me.  Leave.  Please."

"I'm not leaving you, Tara.  I can't.  I'm weak too.  I almost fell 
today too.  I'm weak."  Fearless Leader walked over and put his shoulder 
around her.

A clapping followed.  A loud clapping sound that sounded like two cars 
crashing into each other.  A sound made by two large black metal hands. 
  "How melodramatic.  Oh, don't get me wrong -- I love the melodrama. 
Love that stuff.  But still.  I was kind of hoping you'd fight.  But..." 
  Fearless Leader and Ripping Dancer both looked back.  It was Mynabird 
no longer in his EDM Lite disguise, but in his large mechanical black 
suit.  And behind him were a number of other members of the Legion of 
Net.Villains.  "They are ways to remedy that.  Quench my thirst for 
mindless violence.  So.  Shall we begin this Final Dance?"

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

"It had to happen.  Sooner or Later."

Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad turned around to see who was talking to him. 
  "Namer Boy?"

It was Namer Boy dressed in the same Freedom Chip Uniforms that the rest 
of the Freedom Chippers were dressed in.  "Yeah, Namer Boy vs 
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad.  Don't tell me you never thought this day 
would come.  Me and you.  In a battle -- to the Death!"

"Well, no.  Not really.  Christ.  You put one of those chips in your 
head.  Why, Namer Boy?  Why?"

"Maybe I was sick of watching you and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough 
Lad go on all those cool adventures while I had to stay home because no 
one needed me because my powers are -- incredibly lame!  But now I've 
got a F-Chip in my head!  I've got a new power!  You should join us 
PPOoH Lad.  Hex Luthor is the future of the LNH.  He's the future of the 
world.  He's going to win.  Join us."

"Um, yeah.  Don't think I'm going to do that.  So what's your new power?"

"Um, I'd rather not say."

"Come on.  We've been friends for over 4 years.  You owe at least that 
much before we battle.  What is your new power?"

"Well, we don't get to choose our powers.  The F-Chip does and..."

"What is your power?"

"I have -- I have the power to umm -- mumblemumblemumble..."

"What?  What did you say?"

"I said I have the power to give Vampire Chia Pets erections!!"

Both heroes paused.

And as they paused the battle between the Freedom Chippers and LNH 
Resistance continued.  Brother versus Brother.  Father versus Son. 
Husband versus Wife.  Lover versus Lover.  Daughter versus Aunt.  Three 
Times Removed Cousin versus Great-Great Uncle In-law.  Stranger versus 
Stranger.  House Pet versus House Plant.  Kitchen Sink versus Bathroom 
Sink.  This Civil War split the very Heart of the LNH.  A split that 
might never heal.

And yes.  Friend versus Friend.

"Wow, it sucks to be you," said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad.

"Yeah," Namer Boy looked down.  "Tell me about it."

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

A familiar music began to play.  Ripping Dancer knew what it was.  And 
although she could listen to it without feeling the worst effects she 
noticed that Felix was being hurt by it.  Fearless Leader was being 
overwhelmed by the music.  All his failures were flooding through his 
mind.  "What is it -- what's happening?" he said as he was crushed by it.

"It's music no one can dance to, Fearless Leader."  The voice was 
familiar.  The Freedom Chipper Can't-Dance-to-This-Music Lass was 
standing behind Mynabird.

"You're with him?"

"Yes, Ripping Dancer.  Vector Sublime has shown me that Hex Luthor isn't 
the future.  The future now belongs to Mynabird."

"She's right you know," Mynabird said as he pointed his finger at 
Fearless Leader.  Some type of energy blasted from the finger straight 
at Fearless Leader.  Fearless Leader fell to the ground.  "It's all mine."

"What did you...!?" said a shaken Ripping Dancer.

"Oh, nothing much.  Just paralyzed him below the neck.  Should wear off 
in ten minutes or so.  Enough time to deal with you.  So, was it worth it?"

"Worth it?  What?"

"Your revenge against Manga Man.  Oh wait.  I guess he escaped.  Now 
he's somewhere out there -- laughing most likely -- someplace you'll 
never know where..."

"Actually we know where he is."  Both wReamhacker and The Renegade 
Programmer hopped into the scene.  "You see we figured that more than 
likely that Ripping Dancer and Manga Man would meet so we broke into 
Manga Man's newsgroup shifter and totally reconfigured the ship's 
computer so that it could only go to one newsgroup." wReamhacker 
grinned.  "Are we awesome or are we *Awesome*?!"

"I believe *Awesome* is the word you're looking for," replied Renegade 
Programmer as he downed another snicker bar.  "Programming Team 
Supreme!" said the two of them bumping fists with each other.

"Which newsgroup?" asked Ripping Dancer.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Something was wrong, thought Manga Man as he scanned the newsgroup he 
had just popped into.  There was too much color!  This wasn't the black 
and white world of rec.arts.manga.  Where was he?

Two people dressed in long flowing cloaks, face masks, and gloves 
floated near his ship.

"Hey guys!  I seem to be lost.  Could you perhaps...?"

"You dare!" said one of the cloaked men.  "You dare defile our world 
with your obscene perversion?"

"What?  Oh this?" Manga Man said pointing to his very shredded clothes. 
  "Look, I had a little accident and *heh* this is a funny story.  You 

"Enough, Skin Shower!  You shall come with us so you can be judged!  And 
then after that you shall be given the Ultimate Punishment!  So say the 
Gatekeepers of alt.sex.prudish.prudish.prudes!"

"Whoahh!  Wait!  Did I mention I'm an Ambassador to rec.arts.manga 
and..." Manga Man said as he tried to get his newsgroup shifter to go 
anywhere but here.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

"Oh and just so you know, Mynabird," said wReamhacker pointing his 
finger at Mynabird.  "We don't really like dancing, so that soul 
crushing music doesn't have any effect on us."

"Yeah, and we have Multi-Tasking Man to remind us of all our failures in 
life so that won't work on us either," Renegade Programmer pointed out.

"Of course," said Mynabird.  "I take it you're also probably immune to 
incredibly large programs that know every single LNH'r weakness and can 
kill every single one of them.  Right?"  The half-human half-machine 
called the Alt.Imate Ninja began to walk towards the two hackers.

"Um Josh?  You know that fight technique that UN taught us?" whispered 
wReamhacker to Renegade Programmer.

"Which one?"

"The run-like-hell maneuver?"

"Oh yeah.  That one!" nodded Renegade Programmer.  And the two hackers 
ran like hell as the Alt.Imate Ninja chased them.

"Well, where were we?" said Mynabird turning his attention back to the 
Ripping Dancer.  "Ah, yes.  Was lying to me worth it?"

"Why don't you just get this over with?" said Ripping Dancer as she 
glared at him.

Mynabird laughed.  "In time.  But I think you should understand who's 
going to kill you, Tara.  Why I'm going to kill you."

"Had a bad childhood?" yawned Ripping Dancer.

"No, actually it was pretty decent.  You don't have much respect for me 
do you?  That's okay."  He gestured to the villains from behind him. 
"Most of these supervillains in my Legion of Net.Villains don't have any 
respect for me either.  They think I'm a tool that will help them with 
their own grand vision of the world or whatever.  And that's fine.  Let 
them think that.  The easiest way to manipulate someone is to make that 
person think they're manipulating you."  Mynabird made a gesture towards 
the sky.  "You see today's fight?  Two of my biggest rivals, the LNH and 
Hex Luthor, are killing each other.  It doesn't really matter, which one 
wins today because both will be weaker.  And me and my LNV will be 
stronger.  Everything is going my way.  Do you understand?"  Mynabird 
paused and looked straight at Ripping Dancer.  "I don't have to kill you 
today.  In fact I could give you the chance that no one has ever given 
you.  You could have it all and be true to your spirit."

"I could kill Fearless Leader instead of you.  Then I could have Amnesia 
erase all of the guilt and memories from your mind.  You could then live 
the rest of your life guilt free with your true love Thread Bear.  You 
could be beautiful and free of cancer.  This I could give you."

"Wait -- Ripping Dancer is in love with *me*?" gasped Thread Bear. 
"Someone could have told me.  Guys?"

Mynabird ignored that and continued.  "This I could give you, Ripping 
Dancer.  And all you have to do is say, 'Kill Fearless Leader.'  That's 
all you have to say.  Just 'Kill Fearless Leader' that's it."

"Tara.  Take -- the -- deal.  Take -- the..." said Fearless Leader still 
paralyzed below the neck.

"Don't be stupid, Felix.  No.  Mynabird is lying.  And even if he wasn't 
-- No."  Ripping Dancer cradled Fearless Leader's head and kissed him on 
the forehead.  And then she gently placed his head on the ground and 
stood up.  She looked defiantly at Mynabird.  "Kill me -- if you can. 
Kill me."

"Fine."  Mynabird pointed one of his fingers at her.

Ripping Dancer closed her eyes.

So this was it.  Should she say something?  No.

She wondered what would happen after it happened.  Was there an 
afterlife?  She had heard tales about LNH'rs going to Hell.  A real 
place called Hell.  Was that where she'd be heading?  Maybe.

Maybe there'd be nothing.  Just black nothingness.  Forever and forever.

And she waited for it.

And waited.

What the hell was taking him so long?

And she opened her eyes.

And in front of her was the back of Captain Continuity.

Mynabird looked at Captain Continuity who was holding the Alt.Imate 
Ninja in some cosmic type energy cocoon.  The Renegade Programmer and 
wReamhack were back also with a number of other LNH'rs.  This wasn't 
going as planned.  This fight wasn't what he wanted.  Easily-Discovered 
Man Lite wasn't even here.  This would be all totally useless.  "Well, 
Ripping Dancer.  Looks like it's your lucky day.  Romantic Innuendo. 
Free her."

"Umm, are you...?" said Romantic Innuendo hesitating.

"I said free her.  And Lagneto?  Stop lagging her cancer."

Lagneto nodded his head and made a gesture with his fingers.  Suddenly, 
Ripping Dancer felt incredibly ill.  She clutched at her stomach.

"There.  Everything's back to normal.  You can have your traitoress back 
LNH.  I don't need her anymore.  Well, nice seeing you."

"And what makes you think you're going anywhere?" said Captain 
Continuity grabbing Mynabird quickly by the wrist.

"Hmm.  I don't.  Perhaps that?" said Mynabird pointing to something that 
was happening behind Captain Continuity.

Captain Continuity turned his head slightly.  His cosmic senses began to 
flare up.  "No!" he said realizing what was happening.

Mynabird clicked a button, which caused his arm to snap off freeing him 
from Continuity Champs grip and shouted, "Back to Base!"  He clicked a 
button on his thumb and disappeared.  The rest of the Legion of 
Net.Villains followed.

Captain Continuity glanced at Mynabird's arm and tossed it to the 
ground.  Realizing it was too late to stop Mynabird, he blasted off into 
the sky to face the new threat.

The rest of the LNH'rs that had gathered here also followed suit.

That left Ripping Dancer and Fearless Leader alone.  She began to cradle 
his head once more stroking the hairs on his head.  She looked at the 
new threat that the LNH was battling.

"Tara.  It will be okay."

"Yeah," a tear fell from her eye.  "I'm sure it will."

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Building Suspense Lad stepped right out of the Medium Beige 
Flight.Thingee.  He had a purple Mohawk where his brown hair used to be. 
  He started to move quicker as Fuzzy came out.

"I'm going to kill you.  I'm going to..."

"Look, Fuzzy.  No one can tell what your hair looks like.  Relax."

"I can tell!  Just turn that damn bomb on."

Building Suspense Lad looked at the Sincerity Bomb that Dr. Stomper had 
given him.  Which button was he supposed to push?  Damn.  He had 
forgotten.  "I can't -- I can't remember which button to push."

"What does it matter -- just try them all."

"But Dr. Stomper said to only push one -- and not push the others."

"Why did he put three buttons on it then?  Fine.  Give it to me."  Fuzzy 
took the bomb and thought about it for a second and pushed the first 
one.  Nothing happened.

She tried the second and then the third one.  Still nothing.  "This 
thing's completely useless.  Christ!  I'm going to kill Stomper.  Kill 
him -- if we survive this."  Fuzzy looked up into the sky.  The battle 
was still raging on.  She had to figure out how to get this thing 
started or else the LNH was going to lose.

She looked up in the sky and saw another thousand or so Freedom Chippers 
pop into the sky from out of nowhere.

Just what they needed, Fuzzy sighed.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

Hex Luthor turned his head.  Something was making an incredible amount 
of noise.  He could see it off in the distance.  Something very big. 
Very big.  What was it?  No.  Not that.  Not...

"Wow, Hex.  That looks like a bike.  A really, really big bike," said 
Irony Man also seeing the monstrous object coming towards them.  "It is 
a bike and -- damn, do you think that's...?"

"Of course it is!  It's him!  But he's not going to get very far.  Not 
today."  Hex turned his head towards the Ultimate Ninja.  "Kill him!" 
Hex pointed to the King Kong size bicycle that was crushing everything 
in its path.  "Kill Bicycle Repair Lad!  Kill him, Ultimate Ninja!"

The Ultimate Ninja took out his Ginsu Katana and started to walk towards 
the monster bike and then stopped.  He just stared at the katana and did 
nothing else.  The bike continued to get closer becoming even bigger and 
bigger.  The shadow of the bike cast over everything.

"What's he doing?  I told you to kill Bicycle Repair Lad!  Do it!!"  Hex 
got right into the ninja's face.

Irony Man waved his hands in front of the ninja's face.  "He's fighting 
the chip, Hex."

"Can he do that?"

Irony Man laughed.  "Of course he can.  That's what he does.  He fights 
everything.  And he's going to win.  The only surprising thing is that 
he hasn't done it by now.  But he will.  It's over, Hex.  Over.  We've 
got to stop this.  We can still make our case.  We can still..."

"Yes.  It's over."  Hex pulled something out of his pocket.  "Just not 
the way you think."

Time started to slow down.  A frozen Irony Man could do nothing to stop 
what Hex was about to do.

Hex looked at the golden watch he had in his hand.  The metal of the 
watch started to twist and turn.  The Cosmic Plot Device started to flow 
over Hex's skin.  He looked at the sky filled with floating statues 
locked in battle.

It was time to end this.

                      **** <<--BM-->> ****

End of Part III

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