LNH: Beige Midnight #7: The Bart Age III: "The Mountain Top" (2/4)

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 21 12:24:49 PDT 2011

Beginning of Part II

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

You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad looked at the mound of LNH 
corpses.  He looked at the bodies of Pulls-Paper-out-of-Hats Lad and 
Namer Boy.  His two best friends.  Both dead.  Dead.  It seemed so 
surreal.  This couldn't be happening.  Someone killing 100 members of 
the LNH -- just like that?  That stuff only happened in the Elsewhirls. 
  He looked at Bart -- just floating in the air.  He was going to pay 
for this -- he was going to... You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad 
looked at his clenched fist.  Gotta provoke him somehow.  Gotta get him 
to hit me.  And then maybe I can do something, thought 
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.

"Hey, Bart!!" shouted You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.  "Yeah, you 
lame loser!!!  I'm talking to you!!  Your style of fighting is pretty 
pathetic and cowardly, but I guess that shouldn't surprise anyone since 
you're a text book case to the 'T'.  Yeah, Bart!  I know what your 
biggest problem is..."

"Do tell, Long-name-I-can't-bother-to-remember Lad."

"Well, it's pretty obvious.  It always is obvious.  You've never been 
laid in your entire life and are very bitter about that fact.  It's 
always the same thing.  School shooters.  Suicide bombers.  Militia 
nuts.  Hitler.  If only they had had the courage to ask out some girl, 
or boy -- or farm animal -- then the world would be a so -- so much 
better place.  Alas, for us -- they didn't have that courage.  You were 
probably picked on lot when you were little, right?  Oh hell, probably 
all through school.  But you were too much of a weakling to fight back. 
  That's a shame.  And now that you've gathered all of this God type 
power -- it doesn't really matter -- does it?  Because you're still just 
a pathetic weakling coward, aren't you?  I bet you," 
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad laughed, "I bet you can't even 
fight me.  Too much of a coward to hit me.  Right?  Yeah, I'm right. 
Sad, really.  Come on.  Come on, prove me wrong -- Bart.  Hit me.  Hit 
me!  Hit me!!  Come on -- you pathetic cowardly Mama's boy waste of life 
-- HIT ME!!!!!!!"

Bart clapped his hands.  "Ah, you're wasted here, 
Long-name-I-can't-bother-to-remember Lad.  You should take your 
brilliant pop psychology act on Oprah or something since you obviously 
know 'so' much about the human condition.  As for fighting you -- aw, 
sorry, but I promised my Mommy that I'd never hit a person who's dying 
from a speedy malignant brain tumor.  Sorry about that."

"Dying of what -- oh."  You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad felt a 
sharp pain in his head.  His last thought was, No Fair.  No Fair.

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

Suddenly, a cartoonish symbolic incandescent light bulb (representing a 
great idea) appeared above 
Lad's head.  Of course, thought 
Lad (thank god for copy and paste), It was so obvious!  He had figured 
it out.  A way to defeat Bart.  The one weakness everyone else had 
overlooked.  But it was so simple!  Yes, it was me, 
Lad, who discovered it.  Yes!  And now when Saxon Brenton watches me 
defeat Bart won't he be sorry that he ever found me and every single 
generation of my entire superhero family and all our pets and also our 
close friends too lame to include in even just one of his precious 
stories.  Watch me, Saxon Brenton.  I dare you to watch me!!!!

But just as 
Lad rushed his way over to finally defeat Bart once and for all he 
accidentally slipped on a Juproppian stlang fruit peel (sort of the 
Qwertian equivalent of a banana) and dashed his brains out on a jagged rock.

And somewhere beyond the Fourth Wall, Saxon Brenton was less than impressed.

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

Bart watched a flash from the sky.  Using his ability to slow down time, 
he realized that the flash was in fact Captain Continuity.  "Back for 
second helpings, Champy Jr?" laughed Bart.  "How far did I fling you 
that first time -- a couple light years?  Thought you'd get here a bit 
quicker -- I mean while you were strolling back here I must have killed 
at least -- I dunno..." Bart paused and began counting his fingers.  New 
fingers on his hand began to emerge until there were 53 fingers on his 
left hand.  "Oh, yes.  53.  I killed 53 more of your LNH'r buddies while 
you were napping out in space."  He gestured towards the mound of dead 
LNH'r bodies that kept getting larger and larger.  "What would your old 
mentor Continuity Champ think about that?  He'd probably be very 
disappointed.  And I can't say that I'd blame him.  It's kind of a shame 
he isn't here.  He'd show us a thing about saving the Looniverse, I'm 
sure.  Why he'd probably defeat me in less than five seconds.  And then 
I'm pretty sure he'd use his Awesome Continuity French Kissing Abilities 
(or whatever) to tongue back life into all of your dead LNH buddies. 
And he'd probably top it all off by rescuing a kitten from a tree. 
Because that's what heroes do, Champy Jr.  They save the day."

"SHUTUP!!!!!" screamed Captain Continuity as he walloped Bart in jaw 
with enough power to cause a star to go supernova.  Unfortunately, it 
didn't seem to have any effect on Bart who still had a smirk on his 
face.  In fact its only real effect was to break some bones in Captain 
Continuity's hand causing him enormous amounts of pain.

"Feel better?  No?  Guess you already know that your powers are 
incredibly insignificant compared to mine.  I could easily kill you at 
anytime.  But that would be boring, wouldn't it?  I know you're thinking 
about it.  You've been thinking about it ever since you saw it.  Yeah, I 
can see it.  I mean you saved the entire Looniverse once with it.  Why 
not again?"

Captain Continuity hated to admit it, but Bart was right.  He had been 
thinking about it.  While one eye of his was carefully focused on Bart, 
the other was pointed towards the burlap sack.  The burlap sack that had 
the Ring of Retconn.  The burlap sack that was so incredibly close.  He 
had worn it a long time ago, when he was just a kid -- a kid named 
Continuity Champ Jr.  He had used it to stop wReamicus Maximus from 
destroying the Looniverse and used it to heal all of the damage that had 
been inflicted with it.

"It was a great feeling, wasn't it?  When you were wearing it?  You felt 
like God.  And you've always regretted taking it off.  Maybe if you 
could have just kept wearing it all those horrible things that happened 
to the LNH after Retcon Hour would have never happened.  Maybe all of 
those LNH'rs that died would still be alive.  Like that Generation Y 
teammate of yours -- what was his name?  Oh, yeah -- Echo Echo Echo Lad. 
  Maybe he'd still be alive if only you had kept wearing the Ring. And 
lets face it, if you don't wear it I'm going to kill you and every 
single other LNH'r on Qwerty.  That's a promise."

"Did you know it takes a sliver of your soul?  Yes, you know that.  It 
has a sliver of my soul and every other being that has ever worn the 
Ring.  You can finally be complete once again.  Of course now that I'm 
thinking about it, it probably wouldn't be enough.  No.  You'd probably 
need to wear the Insanity Gauntlet too.  Of course that probably 
wouldn't be enough either.  There's still that whole, I can't be 
defeated by any hero thing.  Oh wait, I've got it!  After you put on the 
cosmic thingees you could kill some LNH'rs to prove that you're evil. 
Yeah!  And then maybe you'd have a chance at beating me.  No wait.  I 
forgot about the whole being resistant to cosmic stuff.  Oh hell, tell 
you what -- if you put on the ring and the gauntlet and kill at least 
five LNH'rs then I'll happily lift my whole resistance to cosmic stuff. 
  Sound good?"

"You know, Bart, I think you might have been saner with the Gauntlet.  I 
mean you must be completely nuts if you think there's any chance in hell 
that I'd kill anyone just to amuse you.  You're right though that I was 
thinking about putting the ring.  But after listening to you rant and 
rave -- I can thank you for knocking some sense into me.  No.  I'm not 
going to become a monster to defeat you.  There will always be better 
ways to stop the likes of you."

"Ah, that's a shame.  Perhaps I should call you Christy Jr. instead? 
Well, looks like it's dead LNH'r time again."  Bart snapped his fingers. 
  Captain Continuity was now nailed to a floating red cross high in the 
sky.  "The cross is made of pure Retcotheric Energy -- yeah, I know that 
you're highly resistant to it -- but not to the levels that are in the 
cross.  I mean this baby has like a billion Retcon Rings of power.  It's 
going to kill you.  Don't worry, it won't be quick.  You'll have plenty 
of time to watch me kill the rest of your teammates as you futilely try 
to escape -- every second an even worse agony.  Cheers!"

As this was happening a very badly beaten Ultimate Ninja was silently 
crawling towards Bart.  Every movement was torture, every bone in his 
body was broken.  He had countless cuts on every part of his skin.  Just 
a few more inches.  Just another inch.  And then he'd strike.

But right as he was about to do that, Bart turned around.  "I thought I 
heard the complete absence of noise.  Well, you actually defeated my 
little pinky.  That -- well actually that should have been impossible 
considering my pinky was nearly omnipotent.  I'd ask you how you did it, 
but I known you ninjas like your secrets.  Hmm, I did promise another 
fight with you if you managed to defeat my finger.  That being said, 
you're kind of too dangerous to not kill right away.  So I'm just going 
to kill you quickly."  Rays of absolute fire beamed out of Bart's eyes 
and turned the Ultimate Ninja into a pile of ash.

"There, that hopefully should put an end to you.  Now what happened to 
my pinky?"  Bart looked at his hand and a second later the pinky popped 
back into place.  "Ah, there you are!  Have to admit I'm kind of 
disappointed in you.  But you are my pinky so I forgive you.  Just try 
to do better the next time.  Now come, Mr. Pinky -- we have a lot more 
killing to do."

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

April 2008 AD --
Dvorakian Space Station 69 --

General Honiboni looked at the intruder light that was blinking away. 
And then he looked at the ship on the monitor screen.  The Starship 
class LNH ship that was getting closer every second.

General Honiboni sighed.  Just what he needed.  He shined his headache 
reducer light on his head.  It didn't seem to be working all that well.

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

Near Dvorakian Space Station 69 --
The LNH Starship Snobbie --

Contraption Man clicked on the device that he was holding.  In that 
instant his appearance totally changed.  He and the rest of his LNH'rs 
looked exactly like a murderous band of space pirate lizards. 
Zethrythians to be exact.  Except for Ripping Dancer who was garbed in 
some Princess Leia type slave outfit and had a metal collar around her 
neck that she was chained to.

Contraption Man looked at his lizard like hands.  "The holograph tech 
seems to be working.  Hopefully it can fool the Dvorakians.  You ready, 
Occultism Kid?"

The space lizard pirate that was Occultism Kid took another swig from 
Comic Snob Boy's cognac bottle.  "Yeah, sure.  Ready as I'll ever be." 
He lit himself another cigarette.

"Ripping Dancer?"  Contraption Man looked at her.

"Yeah.  Think I can do it."

The Starship comm.thingee began to buzz.  "Looks like it's show time," 
Contraption Man said as he clicked it on."

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

<<You are violating Dvorakian space -- LNH vessel...>>

"I'm sorry," said Occultism Kid.  "I think you may have us confused with 
someone else.  We are merely simple space merchants who wish to travel 
through your wormhole to Qwerty."

<<Qwerty?  Did you say Qwerty?>> said the voice of General Honiboni who 
dismissed the Dvorakian they had been talking too.  <<Why do you want to 
go to Qwerty?  And why are you flying an LNH starship?>>

"The vessel was acquired from a friend who acquired it from another 
friend.  All totally legit."

<<I'll bet.>>

"As for going to Qwerty, we have a client there who is interested in our 
wares.  A client that prefers the solitude of a dead system like 
Qwerty."  Occultism Kid gave a wink to General Honiboni.  "If you know 
what I mean."

<<And what are these wares of yours?"

"Oh, we have quite a bit.  But mostly what we have is a lot of lovely 
ladies."  Occultism Kid tugged at Ripping Dancer's holographic chain 
pulling her towards the monitor screen.  "Come on dear.  Don't be shy. 
There."  Occultism Kid ran his space pirate lizard fingers through her 
hair.  "That's a pretty human."

<<You're slave traders then,>> General Honiboni said with disgust in his 
voice.  <<I should just blow you away right here and now.>>

"Well, that's your call.  That would be a waste of a lot of lovely flesh 
though.  Human flesh.  Dorfian flesh. Christicantthinkofagoodnamian 
flesh.  Oh and what am I forgetting -- oh yes, and Dvorakian flesh. 
Yes, three lovely Dvorakian ladies.  Would you like a look?"

<<You Zethrythian pirate scum!!  How dare you enslave any Dvorakian!!!>>

"I'd certainly be happy to give you those Dvorakians plus another two of 
your choosing if you let us..."

<<We do not make deals with slave trading scum!!  What is going to 
happen though in a few minutes is that a squad of super powered 
Dvorakians will board your ship.  We suggest if you wish to live -- you 
do not resist!>>

"And there is nothing I can do to change your mind?  Ah well.  How about 
before your Dvorakians board my ship I give you some entertainment 
then?"  Occultism Kid tugged at Ripping Dancer's chain.  "Dance my 
little human.  Entertain the general."

Ripping Dancer had a slight smile on her face.  She stretched her right 
arm up and began to wiggle parts of her body.  Her eyes weren't on the 
general though.  They were on the screen next to the general that had a 
picture of part of the Dvorakian Space Station.  She focused all of her 
ripping powers right on that section of the Space Station as she danced. 
  And a crack began to form.  And it got bigger and bigger.

Red lights began flashing around General Honiboni.  And various alarms 
started to blare.  <<What is this?  What's going on?  What?  We've been 
breached?!!  The Station?  How??  What is...?>>

Contraption Man clicked the Starship comm.thingee off and then the 
holographic device.  "That's good, Ripping Dancer."  Ripping Dancer 
stopped her dancing and sat herself down.  She was completely out of 
breath and her arms trembled.  "You okay?"  She nodded her head and then 
made some coughing sounds.  "Can you rip the wormhole stabilizers?"

Ripping Dancer shook her head.  "Sorry.  Don't have the energy."  She 
coughed some more.

"That's okay.  Guess I'll have to use the ships phasers to blast them 
away.  Look, Irony Man.  You can fly this thing through the hole, right? 
  Because once I shoot all of the stablizers, we'll only have twelve 
seconds or so before the whole thing collapses."

"Yeah," said Irony Man taking over the pilot controls.  "I'll guess I'll 
have to."

Contraption Man hopped into the shooting controls chair and started to 
get a visual on the wormhole.  "Everyone.  Belt up!  Irony Man, a little 
bit closer.  Closer.  Yeah, almost.  Yeah!  Get ready."  Contraption Man 
had all six targets locked.  And with a click of his thumb, the LNH 
Starship guns began to blast away.  "Now, Irony Man!  Now!!!"

As the wormhole stabilizers began to blow up, various blue and green 
flashes bathed the blackness of space.  Irony Man slammed the Stardrive 
throttle and the LNH Starship raced through the collapsing wormhole in a 

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

As General Honiboni watched the wormhole stabilizers blow up, he began 
to rapidly punch the button on his headache reducer.

This just wasn't his day.

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

The Qwerty System --

"Well, looks like we're still alive."  Contraption Man went over to the 
scanner.  "And it doesn't appear that any of the Dvorakians followed us 
through.  That's good."

"I don't suppose you have a plan for getting us back to the Loonivearth 
in a timely fashion now that the wormhole is gone?" asked Dr. Stomper 
with a concerned expression.

"Look, Stomper, we'll worry about that assuming we survive both Qwerty 
and Bart -- later.  Now we need to focus on going back in time -- and when."

Dr. Stomper nodded.  "There's also the Amnesia Time Barrier to 
consider."  [Editor's Note:  The Amnesia Time Barrier was created by the 
supervillain Amnesia in the never written LNHCP #499 -- It causes those 
who go back in time to forget who they are.]

"Right.  That."  Contraption Man rubbed his chin.  "Occultism Kid.  Do 
you have any more of that memory paint?"

Occultism Kid lit another cigarette.  [Editor's Note:  Good thing that 
the LNH Starship's atmosphere controls allow smoking, eh?]  And then he 
pulled out a small jar from his trenchcoat and shook it up a bit.  "A 
little.  Enough for one more tattoo."

"Well, that's something I suppose.  So one of us will be able to 
remember.  And whoever that is will have to face Bart first.  Volunteers?"

Irony Man raised his hand.  "I'll do it.  My suit gives me the most 
protection.  I'm also the best at combat here."

Contraption Man snorted to himself.  "Thanks, Toony.  It's been awhile 
since I had a good laugh."

Irony Man shot a glare at Contraption Man.  "You wanna try me, Tinker Lad?"

"There will be no need for that," said Dr. Stomper getting himself in 
between the two LNH'rs.  "Contraption Man has a point, Toony.  Of all of 
us, your powers tend to backfire the most."

"No, that's not it.  You people just don't trust me anymore.  You 
probably think I'll make some kind of deal with Bart?  Right?"

Contraption held his hands up.  "You said it.  I didn't say it."

Occultism Kid flicked another cigarette in the air.  "I'd like to take 
this moment to Not Volunteer.  You spandexers can kill yourselves for 
all I care.  I'm not leaving this ship."

Dr. Stomper nodded.  "Noted."

"It should be me," said Ripping Dancer breaking into the conversation.

"You?" said Irony Man shaking his head.  "You look like you're dying (no 
offense).  And you're the least experienced of us all."

"I know.  You're absolutely right.  But that's what gives me the 
advantage.  We don't need someone to fight Bart.  We need someone to 
activate the Freedom Chip.  You said I have the least amount of 
experience, and you're right.  But that also makes me the least 
threatening to Bart.  That will give me the best chance to say the 
activation code.  And that's what we need."

"She has a point," nodded Dr. Stomper.  "Activating the Freedom Chip in 
Bart's brain is our highest priority.  And she might have the best 
chance in saying the code."

Irony Man rolled his eyes.  "Did our trip to Retcon Hour give you brain 
damage Vincent?"

Contraption Man broke in.  "We'll take a vote.  Ripping Dancer to get 
the last of the memory paint.  Those in favor?"

Ripping Dancer raised her hand.  So did Dr. Stomper.  "Better her than 
me," said Occultism Kid who also raised his hand.

And lastly, Contraption Man raised his hand.  "That's a majority. 
Ripping Dancer will get the last memory tattoo."

Irony Man shook his head.  "Fine.  We'll probably all die anyways."

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

The surface of Qwerty --

Clouds of Qwertian dust blew into the air as the LNH Starship Snobbie 
landed on its soil.

"There," said Contraption Man after checking the landing gear.  "Oh 
yeah, there's one more thing we should discuss.  Where should we go back 
in time?  We only have enough time gas for one trip.  We'll have to 
hitch a ride with the others if we want to get back.  But that could be 
a real problem if we jump back to a time where the LNH aren't -- if you 
get my meaning."

"Yes," said Dr. Stomper adjusting his glasses.  "Since we'll have to 
leave the Snobbie back in the past it's quite possible that we left some 
type of marker that indicates what date we must jump to."

Contraption Man nodded his head.  "Good point.  All we need to do is 
find the remains of the past Snobbie and check those out for a marker. 
Let's see if the Snobbie's computer can track the remains."

A few hours later...

Contraption Man and Dr. Stomper garbed in space suits flashed their 
lights over the darkened hull of the long dead past Snobbie.  All over 
the ship, the same date was graffitied on the walls.

Contraption Man got a closer look.  "Guess that's the time then.  Kind 
of an eerie coincidence, don't you think?"

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

Ancient Qwerty --
1994 BC --

Ripping Dancer opened her eyes.  She looked at the monitor screen and 
saw a completely different landscape.  There were five LNH Starships 
near by.  And -- weird -- something that looked like the LNHHQ.  The 
Time Jump must have worked.  They were 4000 years in the past.  She 
looked at her hand.  A crumpled piece of paper was in it.  She looked at 
the piece of paper.  It was the code she had to say to activate Bart's 
Freedom Chip.  Not that she really needed it.  She had the code 
completely memorized by now.  She unbuckled herself from her seat and 
stood up.  She looked at her fellow LNH'rs who looked very confused. 
She didn't really have anytime to explain everything to them.  About 
Bart and the Amnesia Barrier.  No.  She had to find Bart and stop him 
once and for all.

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

The color of the sky was crimson.  Ripping Dancer gazed at the 
strangeness of the alien landscape.  It was funny, most of her life she 
had spent living in Net.ropolis -- never really venturing beyond that. 
And today she had been to Alt.stralia, time traveled, and now she was on 
a different world light years away.  This was all amazing.  Too bad this 
might very well be her last big trip anywhere.  She looked her LNH 
tracker.thingee.  The tracker seemed to indicate that Bart was somewhere 
around here.  She scanned a bit and then she saw it.  Some type of hill. 
  And it looked like someone was floating above the hill.  Was that 
Bart?  She'd have to get closer.

As she got closer, the wind changed direction and she began to smell 
something.  Some horrible stench.  What was it?  It smelled like rotting...

Oh god.

Oh Jesus.

That was no hill.

And that floating someone was definitely Bart.

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

They were all dead.  Ripping Dancer looked at the enormous mound of 
corpses.  People she had eaten lunch with, joked with, shopped with -- 
they were all dead.  And there --floating above all of it was the 
architect of all this.  Bart.

This couldn't be real.  It was all too much.  How could anyone kill half 
the LNH?  There was something wrong here.  And why wasn't Bart wearing 
the Insanity Gauntlet?  How could he kill the LNH without that?

Bart still hadn't noticed her.  Maybe she could run.  Maybe she could -- 
no.  There was no place to run.  Ripping Dancer felt frozen.  The only 
thing moving in her was her heart, which was racing away like an out of 
control train.  She almost hoped that Bart wouldn't notice her.  But 
even that didn't last.  For the first time she could feel his gaze.  He 
was looking at her.  There was a smile on his face.

"Oh, goody.  More heroes to kill.  You're which one?  Torn clothing 
Lass?  Something like that?"

The code.  She had to say the code.  It was the only thing that could 
stop Bart now.  Say it quickly.  Say it now.

"i wish i was as smart and sexy as hex luthor," she said under her breath.

"What?" said Bart with his hand cupped near his ear.  "I couldn't quite 
hear you.  What did you say?"

Christ, that stupid code that Hex Luthor had made for the Freedom Chip. 
  She had to say it louder.  She had to scream it.  Say it!  Say it!!

shouted at the top of her lungs.

She looked at Bart.  Did it work?  Maybe she should say it again.


Bart laughed.  "What a bizarre thing to say."

Why wasn't it working?  Then again, maybe it was working.  Maybe she 
should try to give Bart some type of command.

"Or maybe it was some kind of code.  Yes?  Perhaps some kind of code for 
a -- what do you call them -- oh, yes -- Freedom Chips.  Like for 
example this Freedom Chip in my hand."  Bart held up a tiny device 
between his finger and thumb.

Oh, god.  He knows, thought Ripping Dancer as she started to step back.

"Hey, look.  The chip is blinking.  It must have been activated. 
Probably by that code you said.  Well, I guess it's a shame that it 
wasn't in my brain at the time.  If it had been, you could have used it 
control me.  What a pity, isn't it?"  Bart crushed the chip between his 

It was all over now.  This was it.  This was how she was going to die. 
Here on some strange alien world light years from her home.  This was 
the end.

"It was a clever plan though.  Hex Luthor's, right?  Just had one flaw. 
  The Amnesia Barrier.  You see I was aware of the Amnesia Barrier -- so 
I had to come up with my own protections from it -- so I could time 
travel to the past.  The thing was though -- those protections managed 
to drag back to the surface a bunch of repressed memories.  Including 
that lost weekend in Alt.stralia back in 1994."  Bart snapped his 
fingers.  In an instant, the smell of rotting corpses was replaced with 
the smell of freshly baked apple pies.  Bart took a deep sniff.  "Ah! 
That's better, isn't it?  That being said, you'd think that a smart guy 
like Hex would have thought of that possibility.  Don't you think?  But 
then again -- maybe he did.  I mean he got what he wanted out of the 
deal -- didn't he?  And he's not here right now, is he, Ripping Dancer? 
  That's right, I do remember your name."

"Why are you doing this?  For God's sake, Why??"

"Because I'm evil?" laughed Bart.  "Oh, I guess it's probably more 
complex than that.  Actually, we do have something in common Ripping 

"What?  Breathing oxygen?"

"No, I don't have to do that anymore.  Let me show you."  Bart clapped 
his hands and a huge visual overtook the sky.  The visual was of some 
doctor's office.  There was a doctor sitting in his chair and he was 
saying something.  <<I've got some bad news.  These tests show what 
appears to be a malignant tumor inside your brain...>>

"He's talking to you, isn't he?" asked Ripping Dancer.  "You've got cancer?"

"Had cancer.  This was back in 1995 -- a year or so after my 
Alt.stralian vacation.  I had been having these horrible headaches and 
well... I had to have all these tests -- biopsies and so on.  And all of 
that led to the diagnosis that I only had a few months to live.  Hmm, 
you don't suppose that the Freedom Chip gave it to me.  That would be 
funny, wouldn't it?"

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be.  It was the best thing that could have happened to me. 
There's nothing like knowing you only have a few months to live to make 
you realize what a complete waste your life has been.  No.   Knowing 
that I was going to die made me realize that it doesn't matter.  All the 
stupid things people believe.  Humanity.  Morality.  Fear.  The day I 
knew I was going to die was the day I stopped fearing everything.  I 
mean if I hadn't had gotten that tumor -- who knows?  I'd probably be 
just another loser working the LNH Reception desk.  But because of the 
tumor, I'm a God."

Bart snapped his fingers.  The sky turned blue.  "There.  That's more 
like it.  That red sky was kind of spooky, don't you think?"  Bart 
laughed.  "You know -- you kind of look like Catalyst Lass.  A younger 
version -- with slightly bigger breasts.  That's your power, isn't it? 
Men see you as their ideal fantasy.  You can change your hair color, 
skin color, body shape -- right?  And so you look like Catalyst Lass to 
me.  Heh.  Did you know that Manga Man saw you as some catgirl.  Heh. 
What a sicky."

"As opposed to you?"

"Touche.  Hey, you want to know what Fearless Leader sees when he looks 
at you?  His ideal fantasy woman?  Huh?"

Ripping Dancer had an uncomfortable expression on her face.  "No.  I'd 
rather not."

"No, huh?  Well, that's a shame.  But let's move on to other subjects. 
Like the elephant in the room.  Whether I'm going to kill you or not."

"As you can see by that large mound of dead bodies, there is probably 
not much you can do to stop me.  But really all that death is kind of 
meaningless.  You see that's just part one of my plan.  What's part two? 
  I'm going to bring them all back to life, put them on their ships, and 
change their memories of what actually happened.  They'll think that 
they beat me -- killed me -- and they'll believe that they won this 
little battle.  And when they're flying back to the Loonivearth with all 
their cosmic goodies, I myself will fly to some planet way out there to 
make my own great paradise -- and I'll be the only one that knows the 
truth.  The truth of how I beat the LNH.  That I beat them!  Me, Bart 
the lowly receptionist, who beat the great LNH!  Me!!!!"

He turned his attention back to Ripping Dancer.  "Now as for you, you 
could be one of those dead bodies -- that I'll bring back to life and 
send back to the Loonivearth.  Of course you'll still be dying of cancer 
-- so in a couple of months or so you'll be dead anyways (and that's 
assuming that the LNH can beat the Bryttle Brothers, which since they 
can't even manage to beat me -- looks very unlikely.)  But you don't 
have to be -- dead that is -- you could live a very, very long life -- 
if you're willing to make a deal.

Ripping Dancer shook her head and gave a small laugh.  "God, I really 
need to buy a T-shirt that says something like, 'I don't sell my soul to 
the devil anymore.'  Because I don't.  I don't deal.  Ask Mynabird."

"Right, Mynabird.  He did offer you something, didn't he?  Your life for 
Fearless Leader's -- a cure that would allow you to have your powers. 
And you were smart not to take that deal.  He wouldn't have been able 
give you that -- he was just lying.  He didn't really understand what 
you really wanted.  But I do.  I know what you want."

"Really.  And what do I want?"

Bart smiled.  "First things first, I should explain the deal.  Not every 
LNH'r need come back alive from Qwerty.  Like you for instance, perhaps 
you died helping the LNH defeat me -- at least in the memories of the 
LNH'rs that's how it played out.  They'd bring your corpse back -- a 
perfect duplicate of your body -- you'd get a heroes funeral -- the 
works.  Of course some like Fearless Leader would be very sad -- but 
they'd eventually move on -- in fact perhaps your death would give them 
the sort of inspiration they'd need to defeat the Bryttle Brothers. 
It's quite possible that you'd be more valuable to the LNH dead than alive."

"But as for the real you -- you'll live the rest of your very long life 
on another planet.  Let's call it Earth."  Bart snapped his fingers and 
a large image of a planet that looked a bit like the Loonivearth hovered 
in the sky.  "This planet is a bit like yours, but a lot milder. 
Horrible events do happen, but on a lesser scale.  The only super heroes 
and super villains are the ones confided to the pages of comic books and 
other types of fiction.  You'd be a normal person here.  And you'd have 
a normal life."  Bart snapped his fingers again and both he and Ripping 
Dancer were now on some normal looking Suburban street filled with nice 
looking houses.  "That'll be your house."  Bart opened the door and they 
stepped inside.  There was a staircase leading to the second floor. 
There was something about it that reminded her of the Brady Bunch.  They 
toured the various rooms, the den, the living room, the kitchen, and 
then they stepped out into the backyard.  There was some guy with 
glasses, balding, a slight beer belly and he was pushing a couple of 
kids on a swing set.

"That's your husband.  I know -- he's no muscle bound hunk like Fearless 
Leader, but he loves you -- and he accepts you -- just the way you are. 
  And that's what you really want, don't you?  You never wanted to be 
this superhero.  This goddess that every man has to love.  No.  You just 
wanted to be loved.  To be accepted by someone."  Bart snapped his 
fingers again and both of them were transported to some school.  "This 
is where both you and your husband work.  He's a math teacher.  You're 
an art teacher.  You'll both lead very dull boring lives, but you'll be 
okay with that.  Sometimes bad things will happen because, Hey, life 
isn't perfect -- but you'll get through them together.  You'll live to 
the ripe age of 103.  Your two kids will also lead very boring and happy 
long lives and they'll have lots of grandchildren who will also lead 
very boring and happy long lives and so on and so on.  And on the night 
after your 103rd birthday, you and your husband will both die together 
peacefully in bed."  Bart snapped his fingers and the two of them were 
transported to a bedroom.  An elderly couple was lying in the bed, both 
embracing the other.  Each with a blissful look in their faces.  Both in 
a sleep that they would never wake up from.

Bart snapped his fingers.  They were back on Qwerty.  "And that's the deal."

"It's lovely.  All perfectly lovely.  I'm sure I had a fantasy about a 
house like that when I was in high school.  You should have offered me 
that deal a couple years ago.  I would have gladly done anything for it."

"But you don't have to do anything for this deal.  You just have to 
accept that there is nothing you can do to stop me.  That you can't 
fight me.  That I will always win.  That's all you have to do.  It's 
very simple."

"That's the catch, isn't it?  I have to give in.  That's the problem. 
That's the problem with the world.  We just accept the evil.  We don't 
try to fight it anymore.  We just look away at the horrors because it's 
too hard to do something.  It's too big.  So we accept it.  We make our 
deals with the devil because that's the way it is.  And we find ways to 
justify it.  But no.  No.  I'm not going to do that anymore.  No.  I'm 
going to fight you.  Because you're a deranged person who could do so 
many wonderful things with these godlike powers, but all you can think 
to do with them is pull the wings off flies.  And because I have 
changed.  I'm not the scared little girl I used to be.  We can change, 
Bart.  We can be better than this.  The apathetic can care.  The afraid 
can be brave.  The weak can become strong.  And, yes, even villains -- 
villains like me can become heroes.  We all can change.  We have that 
ability.  I know that now.  I finally do.  We can change.  Well, at 
least I can.  Maybe you can't anymore.  Maybe you're just a sad little 
man with sad little dreams -- and that's the way you're going to be. 
But regardless, the hell with your deal.  The hell with it!  I'm going 
to fight you with every last breath.  Yes.  And I will enjoy it."

And then there was silence.  Bart just hovered above the mound of dead 
LNH bodies and looked at Ripping Dancer.  The smile was gone.  Ripping 
Dancer almost expected him to strike her down with a lightning bolt. 
But he didn't.  Instead, he snapped his fingers once more.

Suddenly, the nausea and horrible pain she had been feeling disappeared. 
  A moment of euphoria flooded through her body.

"Feel better?  I cured your cancer, Ripping Dancer.  I want you at your 
best when I destroy you.  I'll give you first rip -- because you're 
definitely going to need that.  Oh and you should probably know about my 
various powers and immunities."  Bart recited the list (Hey, I'm not 
going type that up again).  "And my last act of kindness to you will be 
to let you choose the last song you'll ever dance to.  So feel free to 
choose any song.  Maybe Little Richard's 'Rip It Up'?  Perhaps 'Torn 
Between Two Lovers'?  'Rip Her to Shreds'?  Any song.  No matter how 

"I don't care.  Pick what ever you want."

"You sure?  Well, okay.  Let's do this one then."  Bart snapped his fingers.

And the deafening voice of Donna Summers singing 'Last Dance' thundered 
across the Qwertian valley.

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

End of Part II

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