LNH20: LNH20 Comics Presents #15

Adrian McClure mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 24 13:44:07 PDT 2012

LNH Comics Presents #15
"Better Late than Never"
by Adrian McClure
co-plotted with Andrew Perron



Professor Penumbra walked into the conference room. "Sorry to be so 
late, something came up at the last minute. I can't leave this city 
behind for a moment, can I?" He yanked off a small slimy tentacled 
creature which was clinging to his shoulder and squished it with his 
boot. "So what would seem to be the problem? It seems like you have 
quite a few."

"Actually, at the moment, we don't need you to solve our problems," 
said January Frost. "We need you to cause some for our enemies." She 
then went on to explain, as concisely as she could, about WHATEVER, the 
Spoon of Destiny, and everything else that was going on. "Cranium 
suggested that we turn this situation to our advantage--to create a 
number of false Spoons to confuse our enemies." [See LNH20CP #7] She 
took a white plastic spoon out of her pocket. It would have looked 
absolutely unremarkable to most people, but Penumbra had dealt with 
many artifacts of great power and he knew one when he saw it. Its 
presence charged the room with a subtle energy that made him shudder.  
He moved cautiously to touch the spoon, and felt a sharp jolt of energy 
as blue spark shot off his finger.

"Wait, I thought you said the one at the HQ was a fake?" said Fearless Leader.

"I said the one in the sub-basement was a fake. I didn't say anything 
about the one in my desk."

"You didn't say you *had* one in your desk."

"I didn't need to."

Professor Penumbra nodded. "That could work. Let's see what I can do." 
He fished around in his pocket and pulled out an old, slightly cracked 
hand mirror with arcane symbols painted on its handle. He held the 
mirror in his right hand and the spoon in his left and intoned: 
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, confuse the plot beyond recall!" A faint 
blue mist surrounded the Spoon, and before long three other seemingly 
identical spoons surrounded it.

"So now what?" said Fearless Leader.

"I believe I will take this particular operation into my own hands," 
said January Frost. "I've had a certain amount of experience dealing 
with WHATEVER. They're no doubt sending one of their operatives here to 
deal with me. I intend to let them capture me, after putting up a 
sufficient fight. Another Legionnaire should accompany me, perhaps 
Minority Miss. "

"Are you sure this is safe?"

"That isn't the point, Felix. I've survived far worse, as have you. I 
know how the people running WHATEVER well. I trained many of them."

"All right. But be careful. Wait where's Doc Nostalgia?"

"I'm right here."

Fearless Leader squinted. "That's funny. I could have sworn you just 
burst through the window and collided with yourself."

"That's absurd. I don't--" At that moment the windows shook. Doc 
Nostalgia fell down from the sky and shattered them, and there was a 
bright flash of light.

"Not again..."



"Well, that sure was an interesting series of riddles," said Kid 
Enthusiastic as he ate a slice of the elaborate cake he'd made to solve 
the last one. "Too bad we had to skip past almost all of them so the 
author could get this issue done already!"

"Wait, what are you talking about?" said Nudist Man, still holding the 
head of Medusa in a bag.

"Never mind, it's too complicated," growled Ultimate Mercenary.

"Isn't everything too complicated?" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough-Lad.

"Well, yes," said Nerf Girl. "But I think we're almost at the end. 
We've all been 'reverted' into people who inspired us. Almost all of us 
has faced some kind of puzzle that required us to use the abilities 
we've been given. You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough-Lad, you had to 
figure out how to punch that monster in its precise weak point. Nudist 
Man, you were the only one who could defeat the Gorgon because you were 
already made of stone. Kid Enthusiastic, you solved that cooking-based 
logic puzzle.  That leaves me and Ultimate Mercenary. So..."

Their travels had taken them to a towering chamber, far larger than the 
museum itself, a fractal pattern that resembled a sort of Gothic 
cathedral stretching off into infinity. The others kept their eyes on 
the floor, afraid to take in the vastness around them, but Sigrid found 
she could . Both her consciousness and her senses had expanded far 
beyond what they had once been. She found she could think far more 
quickly and clearly but her instincts and senses were stronger too. She 
could smell every scent and hear every noise, no matter how faint, and 
her mind worked at overdrive to fit everything together, so much it 
hurt trying to keep track of all her thoughts and memories. So this was 
what the world looked like through her mother's eyes. What did that say 
about her? How would she experience the world once her powers fully 

She was broken out of her thoughts by a song in the distance. It was 
loud and cheerful and annoying, sung by squealing childlike voices. 

"Oh crap, it's the Nyancats! I thought we'd escaped them!" said 
YNHMHE-Lad. They were coming in from all sides--a horde of them, more 
numerous than the stars, surrounded by the blinding light of their 
trailing rainbows. The LNHers had only barely managed to escape the 
last time. There was nothing they could do. But while the others 
hurried to defend themsleves, Nerf Girl didn't feel tense or afriad at 
all? Why? What were her instincts telling her? Well, she was a sort of 
cat-being now, wasn't she? Maybe she could communicate with them. She 
closed her eyes and shut out everything except their song, then began 
to sing herself. The nyancats stopped in their tracks and looked at 
her, confused expressions overcoming their faces. Her conscious mind 
wasn't fully aware of what she was saying, but it was something like 
"What do you want?"

A group of nyancats detatched from the flock... no, litter... what was 
the collective noun for nyancats, anyway? A catchiness of nyancats? 
Hopefully this would never come up again. The nyancats drifted down and 
took their place on a podium on the floor, surrounded by a circular 
stairway. One group took its place on the center, whiel others landed 
beside them. They began to move in a strange and elaborate pattern.

"Wait, what's that supposed to be?" said Nudist Man.

"That's... that's Daft Punk's video for Around the World!" As soon as 
she said this, the nyancats' song changed to a sort of Nyan-based remix 
of "Around the World." "So that means the last word is probably 

With that there was a crack of thunder and the nyancats vanished. 
Standing in their place was Mr. Morrison, floating in midair now clad 
in a top hat and tails. He said nothing, just smiling his usual smug, 
enigmatic grin.

"All right, what's this all about?" said Ultimate Mercenary. He walked 
up to Mr. Morrison and looked him straight in the eye, drawing his 
katana. "Give us a straightforward answer or I'll rip out your heart 
right now!"

"I don't think he can give a straightforward answer," said Kid 
Enthusiastic. "He's an alien being from an entirely different kind of 
existence whose consciousness is completely different from ours. This 
is the only way he can communicate."

"Well he doesn't have to be quite so annoying about it!"

"I guess not, but..."

"So the words we've got are 'if,' 'gate,' 'open,' 'you', 'the,' 'will,' 
and 'world,' and another one where we can't figure out where it is," 
interrupted Nerf Girl. "And we know we had to close the gate to stop 
the first wave of nyancats, so it's something about opening the gate. 
'If you open the gate you will something the world... but what? Save? 
Destroy? That makes a pretty big difference."

Mr. Morrison finally spoke up: "What's your head for?"

Sigrid found herself stumped. She felt the processors in her brain 
starting to overheat as she struggled to understand the question. "He 
means the head of medusa. It freezed things. So that's the last word. 
'If you open the gate you will freeze the world.' What does that mean?' 
Then she felt it all click into place at once. She knew what the gate 
was there for and what they had to do. She was about to speak when she 
heard a rumble in the distance which grew abruptly louder. A shockwave 
knocked the heroes off their feet and shattered the world around them, 
which had somehow turned into a painting on a gigantic eggshell. They 
were now in the lobby of the museum, exactly as it had been.

"What is it now?" grumbled Ultimate Mercenary. "The last thing we need 
is another plot complication.

The net.heroes hurried out the door, only just missing the enormous 
blast of lightning that hit the museum doors...


The Recovery Man looked around at the assembled net.heroes and 
net.villains. "Well then. This situation is complicated enough already. 
We'll have to deal with you people." He drew on the energy of the Spoon 
and prepared to use it to freeze his enemies in place except for the 
one he'd come to fight.

"No!" shouted Killswitch, pulling the other Spoon out of his pocket. He 
pushed against the incoming energy wave, channeling as much of the 
Spoon's power as he could handle, joining it with the Killfile power 
within him to shut down the Recovery Man's Spoon. He felt the Killfile 
trying to turn against him and shut the Spoon down. It was growing in 
power and intensity as the Recovery Man's energy did did. The contrary 
powers had frozen the world around him, and the other net.heroes and 
net.villains were watching them, expressions of awe, terror and 
confusion frozen on their faces. He didn't know how much longer it 
would hold together. One way or another, something would have to give.

It was him. The Recovery Man was an energy being, his power was fully a 
part of him. Killswitch couldn't match that. He felt the Spoon explode 
from his hand, and the backlash sent him falling to the ground, 


The roof was shattered as Doc Nostalgia fell through. Doc 
Nostalgia--the one who'd been there before--gasped. The other DOc 
Nostalgia fell down and collided with him, and there was a bright blaze 
of light...

"Not again," said January Frost. "Are we finally going to get this plot 
element over with?"

When the light faded, they heard groaning and whimpering from a hole in 
the floor. They hurried over and saw a withered old man with an 
incredibly long beard stand up in the rubble. "Good lord! Choke!" he 
said, his voice still deep and resonant in spite of the fact that it 
was cracking with age. "I've been turned into... The Old Man of 


"So," said the Recovery Man, looking at the still-frozen heroes and the 
spoon lying on the ground. "That was easy enough." He picked up the 
other spoon and it leaped out of his hand and the two joined together 
with an intense burst of light. Where there had been two plastic 
spoons, there now was a single silver one. "Interesting."

Still frozen in place, Googlemesh spoke, straining mightily to speak 
every word: "Let the others go. Your quarrel is with me." Each word had 
was as sharp and strong as a diamond.

"Indeed." The Spoon sparked and the other net.heroes and net.villains 
were gone. Googlemesh found he could move again. "I've sent them back 
to the LNHQ. They weren't the ones I came for. I've heard so many 
things about you, Googlemesh. I--" Whatever subtly menacing thing he'd 
been about to say was cut off, as Googlemesh charged him like an 
enraged bull. The Recovery Man sent him shooting back with a wall of 
force. He slammed into the road, cracking it and flinging a cloud of 
asphalt dust up into the air.

"Finally," he said. "An enemy worth fighting. I haven't seen that in a 
very long time." He laughed harshly.  A wide grin crept over his face. 
The Recovery Man enwrapped him with a massive wall of force , enough to 
crush a weaker man to death. Googlemesh pressed onward against it, inch 
by inch. Glowing cracks began to appear in the air. "Why don't you just 
finish me off?" he grunted.

"You know, that would be a good idea," said the Recovery Man. "I was 
hoping you'd be able to put up more of a fight. The tales they tell of 
you said you have a certain amount of cunning as well as strenth. But 
evidently you're not prepared to face the dangers this world has to 
offer." Googlemesh gasped. His heart had stopped beating hin his chest. 
"I prefer to use that only as a method of last resort. After all, it 
would hardly be fair if I simply stopped a person's heart. But you are 
an exception."

Googlemesh stared at the Recovery Man, his eyes filled with fury. He 
closed them and clenched his fist, focusing his will on his stopped 
heart. Slowly but surely, it began to beat again. The air began to glow 
brighter  Recovery Man's energies were turned back against him, and the 
spoon popped out of his hand. Googlemesh lunged for the spoon and 
grabbed it before it could hit the ground. He focused in on the Spoon, 
holding it up to his face, and tried to control the arcane powers that 
lay within. The more he tried to hold onto htem, mroe they fought back. 
It was like trying to tame a wild hurricane. After a few seconds, the 
spoon fell from his hand and he collapsed to the ground.

"A shame," said the Recovery Man. "I was hoping I could defeat you 
myself. Still, I suppose in a way I did prove my superiority. You were 
not worthy to wield its power, and I was. I wasn't expecting to so 
easily defeat a god."

With that, he held the Spoon again and prepared to strike the final blow.


"What's going on?" said Fearless Leader. "Are you all right?"

"I... I'm... I'm supercharged with nostalgic energy!" His mind was 
flooded with pain. He could feel swift, sharp loss of his renewed youth 
and potential. He could remember his dead world that he barely knew, 
all the heroes he'd ever known, everyone he'd ever loved who he'd 
outlived. The pain flooded through him, and power followed after, 
greater than he'd ever wielded before. He could feel the world growing 
unbearably sharp and clear again, but this time he knew he could handle 
the onrushing power, at least for a time.

He closed his eyes, shutting out all the extraneous noise as best he 
could--he could remember now how to do this--and focused on he source 
of the arcane disturbances. Something that was just out of sight, 
floating on the edge of reality. But as he focused in on it, he saw the 
world around him begin to move faster and faster.

"It can't be! I--I'm out of sync with time and space!"


The Recovery Man held the Spoon in his hand. He was having to push 
harder and harder to hold in the power, and the Spoon seemed blurry in 
his vision. It didn't matter. He shut out his perceptions of the 
outside world, and put all his will and imagination into a single 
image: Googlemesh falling down dead. He could feel energy crackling on 
his skin, and wondered what the human equivalent of this was--sweat, 
perhaps?  And then it was done. He heard a scream like thunder, and a 
noise like heaven cracking in half. He reopened the channels of his 
perceptions of the world around him and he saw the charred corpse of a 

He saw nothing. Only a crack in the ground. What was it he had come 
here to do? He couldn't for the life of him remember, which meant that 
something had gone very, very wrong. He was certain that there had been 
other people here, too, but none of them were anywhere in sight. 
Whatever he'd done, it had no doubt unleashed an enormous amount of 
retcotheric energy.

Another group of net.heroes rushed into the street, lead by Kid 
Enthusiastic. They all stood for a momment, sizing each other up 
warily. "Do you think he's a villain?" whispered Ultimate Mercenary.

"We'll just have to see," said Kid Enthusiastic. "What do you want?"

"I suspect I was hired to kill someone. That's usually the way of 
things," said the Recovery Man.

"OK, he's a villain," said Ultimate Mercenary. "Get him!" He leaped at 
the Recovery man, drawing his katana, but suddenly he shifted back into 
teh form of an awkward adolescent. His katana slipped out of his 
fingers. "Wait! I didn't even get to do anything as the Ultimate Ninja! 
What happened?"

"Well, I think there was going to be some kind of epic battle, but the 
story had to be revised. I mean, with all the retcotheric energy going 
around, it was changing time to the point where even Mr. Morrison 
couldn't predict it."

"I see," said the Recovery Man. "This is getting altogether too 
confusing for me. I shall have to return the Spoon, as per the terms of 
our agreement. But I suspect we will meet again sooner rather than 
later." He dropped the Spoon. In a blinding flash of light it was gone, 
and so was he.

And meanwhile, a silent presence, unnoticed even by the Recovery Man, 
stood and watched. Lindsay Gensym quaked with shame at her failure to 
stop whatever it was the Recovery Man had just done. But what could she 
do against something like that? She was no net.hero. And, she told 
herself, she had to stay alive to deliver her message.



"Well, OK then," said Fearless Leader. Kid Enthustiastic had made his 
way back to the LNHQ together with the Espionage Squad. He'd debriefed 
them, but even Kid Enthusiastic's well-honed exposition had failed to 
clear up things very much. "Open the gate and you freeze the world? 
What the heck does that mean?"

"Well," said Penumbra, "right now the world is in a state of chaos 
because of all the retcotheric energy. Opening this gate, whatever the 
heck it is, could help stabilize it."

"Makes sense. As much as anything ever does, I mean. But how are we 
going to open the gate?"

"Wait, where's the rest of the team with Kid Enthusiastic?"said Agent M.

"I--I don't know!" said Kid Enthusiastic. "I guess the retcotheric 
backlash must have knocked them out of the story. Or maybe things just 
go too convoluted. I mean, there are enough characters around 
thatEspionage Squad already aren't getting much to do this scene, so..."

"That's not good," said Fearless Leader, ignoring the blatant fourth 
wall breaking. "We'll have to get ahold of the Spoon to fix things. 
Speaking of which... The Recovery Man's spoon just disappeared? Where 
do you think it went to?"

"I don't know," said Kid Enthusiastic. "I mean, there's so much 
retcotheric energy going around that it's pretty much impossible to 
track it. Do we have anyone who has the power to find things or 
something like that? I thought we did."

"Not that I know of," said Professor Penumbra. "But I have an idea. 
Could you call in Constantly-Loses-Things Lad?"

"Constantly-Loses Things Lad? I can't remember... oh yeah. Why did we 
let him join?"

"Well, Doc Nostalgia said he should. He said that the superhero genre 
tends to revolve around opposites, so someone whose powers are the 
opposite of useful actually could be useful at some point. Also, if 
someone with weirdly specific powers shows up, we're always going to 
need to use them at some point.."

"Makes sense... I guess." Fearless Leader paged his phone.thingy 
through the control panel in the conference room. The net.heroes stood 
around for a few minutes, waiting impatiently. Fearless Leader sighed 
and pressed a button on the table. "Constantly-Loses-Things Lad, report 
to the conference room please." Before long, a young freckled man 
walked into the room. "Um... hi. Sorry I was late. I lost my 

"You mean this?" Professor Penumbra pulled it out of his pocket and 
handed it to him.

"Oh yeah! Thanks! Where did you find it?"

"In the Dimension of Doom."

"Huh. How did it get there? Anyway, what do you need me for?"

Kid Enthusiastic explained the whole situation yet again. Fearless 
Leader tapped his fingers impatiently, then stopped when he realized 
what he was doing. "So we need you to find this spoon."

Professor Penumbra rummaged around in his pockets and dug out a mirror, 
simpler and less ornate than the one he'd used earlier. "This is a 
Mirror of Reversal. Just look in and think about the Spoon of Destiny."

"Wait, how many magic mirrors do you have?" said Fearless Leader.

"Well, mirrors are a common focus for magic," said Professor Penumbra. 
"They have a lot of symbolic weight. So... a lot?"

"All right." He stared into the mirror and "It's... I don't know. I 
feel like it's just out of my reach. It's everywhere and nowhere."

"Well, where's the Spoon the Recovery Man had?"

"It... I've got it!" A mist drifted into the room and congealed in his 
hand, taking the shape of a silver spoon. But then there was a burst of 
fire, which took the shape of a dragon before dying down. Lass Dragon 
started up and a halo of flame burst out around her before before the 
image vanished. The mirror cracked to pieces.

"Oh great," said Professor Penumbra. "Now I'll have to make another 
one. And I only barely managed to get out of selling my soul for that 
one. Oh well."

"Wait... was that a dragon?" said Configuration Man.

"No, it was fire in the shape of a dragon," said Lass Dragon. "But 
where there's smoke, there's fire. And where there's dragonflame, 
there's a dragon." She looked off into the distance, lost in thought.

"I... I lost it," said Constantly-Loses-Things Lad, pulling himself off 
the floor. "I'm sorry. But I know where it is... it's in sub-basement 

"From what I heard, no one has ever been below Sub-Basement 33 and come 
back," said Killswitch.

"Well, there's a first time for everything," said Fearless Leader. 
"Professor Penumbra, Kid Enthusiastic, Agent-M and I are the ones who 
explored the sub-basements the most. We explored the LNHQ when it first 
popped up out of the ground. So we probably should go down there. Jan 
was there too, but she's got other plans."

"With all due respect," said Lass Dragon, "I'd prefer to go as well. 
After all, I'd be the one who's most qualified to know how this dragon 

"Have you ever met one of your own kind before?" said Professor 
Penumbra. Lass Dragon looked away and said nothing.

"Sure, you can come along. I hope I don't regret this..."

"And the rest of you can stay behind to aid me," said January Frost.

"Wait!" said a timid, uncertain voice. It belonged to a pale 
brown-haired woman who was standing by the table.

"What the hell are you doing here?" said Agent M, leaping out of her 
chair to confront her. "How did you get in here." The young woman 
screamed and vanished into nothing.

"Agent M, sit down," said January Frost. She smiled kindly at where the 
woman had been. "Don't worry. You have nothing to be afraid of. Now 
what are you here for?"

The woman faded back into existence. She was still slightly 
translucent. "Uh... My name is... Lindsey. Lindsey Gensym. I'm not a 
net.hero, but I have the power to make people not  notice me, or I can 
walk through walls if I concentrate really hard..."

"You mean like Lurking Girl?" said Configuration Man.

"Yeah, kind of. Anyway, I saw the fight going on, and then I walked 
into the museum, and I saw this woman who was actually three women or 

"Mother Time? Huh," said Professor Penumbra.

"So is she a good witch or a bad witch," said Fearless Leader.

"Not exactly either, but I think she's on our side this time. She'd 
want to keep time from falling apart, after all."

"Anyway, she told me about the Spoon of Destiny, that I'm the key to 
all this somehow--whatever that means, and with this figure I've been 
seeing lately... I think it's Lurking Girl. The real one."

Fearless Leader jumped out of his seat. "Luri? She's alive?"

"Y--yeah, I guess so. You knew her? Oh, right."

"Yes, I knew her. She was a good friend. She stood up for me when I was 
a stupid hothead teenager with more fight than sense. And if she's 
alive... Maybe the rest of the team is too."

"Mother Time told me the true Spoon was in Ava.LAN. Maybe that's where 
the rest of them are. "

"So the gate Mr. Morrison was talking about was the Gate to Ava.LAN," 
said Professor Penumbra. "The Spoon is the Gate. It's an artifact from 
outside of time and space that exists in both worlds, but here it's 
been split into different aspects. If you join them all together it 
will merge with its counterpart and open the Gate. Probably if we get 
our hands on the dragon's Spoon and join it with the ones we've got, 
it'll be easier to find the others. That's what's causing this whole 
convoluted thing. They're trying to come together."

Fearless Leader and the Espionage Squad headed off into the elevator. 
Unnoticed by the rest, Lindsey followed behind them. If she had any 
good sense she'd run for her life and get to a safe place. Well, there 
weren't any safe places in the entire city as long as this whole thing 
was going on, but the LNHQ sub-basements were probably the least safe 
places in the entire city. Still... she didn't get a lot of chances to 
see a real live dragon. If nothing else, she could get a song out of it.

The elevator that went into the sub-basements was not sleek and 
futuristic like the rest of the LNHQ. It was an old-fashioned, jittery, 
Gothic elevator that looked like it was ready to fall apart at any 
moment. Fearless Leader closed the door, which clanked shut, and  
pressed the button on the elevator for sub-basment 57. This was not 
going to be an easy situation. There were going to be any number of 
unknown quantities--the Spoon itself, the dragon who apparently lived 
in the basement, and the other dragon who was nominally on their side. 
And if they opened the Gate, there'd be a whole host of new ones.

The elevator clattered down into the darkness.


Professor Penumbra awoke with a shattering headache. The last thing he 
could remember was taking out his mirror and casting the spell to 
duplicate the Spoon. Before he could finish casting the spell he had 
felt himself go numb and then he found himself here. His whole body was 
aching. He could feel something rough digging into his arms and legs, 
binding him to an equally rough wall. It felt like bark.

He opened his eyes. Luckily, the light was not blindingly bright. 
Instead he was surrounded by mists illuminated by a dim light from the 
distance. He could see dark shapes in the mist, which grew more 
distinct as he examined them. He could see himself throughout his life: 
as an awkward, gangly teenager surfing the internet, as a young 
initiate searching out the mysteries of the universe in one of the many 
traditions he'd investigated, as a budding net.hero. He could see 
himself more dimly in what must have been the future, or a future, 
where he was fighting alongside the rest of the LNH, including several 
people he didn't recognize, in an impossibly bright and green land, but 
he couldn't see what they were fighting.

And he could see himself, shortly after he'd cast the spell--or 
something that seemed to be him but wasn't.

"All right," he said. "Where am I, and what do you want with me?"

"You are truly in no place, in the heart of time and space," said three 
female voices speaking in harmony: one young and melodic, one older and 
assured, one ancient and cracked.

"Mother Time. You don't have to do the whole rhyme-on-a-dime thing, I 
deal with cosmic beings and elder gods all the time. I'm not 
impressed." This was, of course, a lie. He couldn't help but feel awe 
and terror at the sight of the woman/women emerging from the mist. By 
now he was aware that there was something unreal--or maybe too 
real--about the place. He could see the tree and the mist twist into 
other forms--machinery that was not unlike the God Clock [see Ultimate 
Mercenary v20 #1], or equations that he could not see with his physical 
sight. They were superimposed on top of each other. "I've heard a lot 
about you. It's nice to finally meet you. So what do you want? I know 
you're not interested in Ultravac's plans. He's just another petty 
conqueror, gone in an instant like a mayfly. So what do you want with 
the Spoon?"

"There is a storm coming."

"That's what they all say."

"I see a shadow falling over time and space, something even I cannot 
fully see. But I know that is linked to one of the net.people of Earth. 
If it fully comes into being, it will destroy all life. Unless I open 
the gate to Ava.LAN."

"Why Ava.LAN?" He saw the mists parting before him, revealing the green 
land he'd seen earlier. And standing there, frozen still as statues, 
were the Saviors of the Net, arrayed against Captain Killfile just as 
they were in their last battle, where she had activated the Killfile 
that had suppressed the superhero genre for many years, leaving only 
the boy who would become Fearless Leader behind. The world had thought 
the Saviors and their foe were dead, but no one had seen their bodies, 
and for such larger-than-life figures death was not always final.

"Wait. If Captain Killfile is there, then that means..."

"Yes. The Saviors of the Net were taken to Ava.LAN, which saved their 
lives and also prevented the Killfile from taking full effect. Now it 
shall. When the Gate is open, the Killfile will be restored and the 
world will become realistic."

"But that will make the world vulnerable to all the dark magic and 
alien invaders from the rest of the universe."

"Perhaps. But they are nothing compared to whatever is coming."

"Well, guess what? The Earth has people protecting it now. The LNH has 
stopped aliens, gods, and sphammers and we'll stop whatever this is 
too. Not to mention you."

A light was beginning to emerge from the mist. He could see a faint 
probability growing steadily more real: a wave of  purple energy 
washing over the city of Netropolis, causing it to fade away.

"Too late," said Mother Time.

"Too late," said Mother Time.

"Too late," said Mother Time.


Backup feature: "Lady Heartthrob," by Arthur Spitzer

She was a girl -- about the age of 19 with long black hair and looked 
to be of Asian descent.  And she was on an airplane sitting along the 
aisle reading a magazine.  She was reading an interview with Carly 
Simon.  Seated next to her was some old man who was slightly snoring.

The flight attendant walked by with a cheerful smile on her face.  She 
looked at the girl and said, "We'll be landing in Netropolis shortly -- 
could you fasten your safety belts, please?  Thank you."

The girl gave a slight nod and buckled her belt.

The flight attendant was still looking at her.  "Oh, and could you 
please -- DIE!!!!!!!?"  A samurai sword quickly appeared in the flight 
attendants hand and began to swing down fast.

The girl still reading the Carly Simon interview effortlessly caught 
the blade with two fingers and let the blade fall just enough to slit 
her seatbelt open.  She then gave the flight attendant a violent kick 
sending her to the planes other side.  She then used the samurai blade 
to kill the old man (who wasn't really an old man, but was a ninja in 
disguise) who was getting ready to stab her with a sai.  She then got 
up out of her seat and noticed that everyone else was also getting up.  
And everyone was taking off their ordinary plane passenger masks.  
Everyone.  It appeared that everyone on this plane was a ninja.  And 
they all wanted to kill her.  Right now.

The girl let out a slight yawn.  This didn't really surprise her.  It 
looked like she'd have to finish reading the Carly Simon interview 
another time.  She had some work to do here.  A katana blade in one of 
her hands began to move very, very fast.



The plane's crew began to glance nervously at the cockpit door.  
Cockpit doors that were supposedly indestructible to bomb blasts were 
being sliced open by some sword.  A sword dripping with blood.  After 
being sliced a number of times the cockpit door finally fell down.  And 
a 19 year-old girl stepping through it -- holding a bloody katana in 
her hand.

The cockpit's crew looked at her with absolute terror as she gazed at 
them.  And then a shadowy figure off to the side began to clap.

She turned her attention towards the figure.

"Oh," said the figure.  "I probably wouldn't kill the pilots if I were 
you.  Well, unless you can fly the plane -- then feel free."

"I was thinking about killing you first," said the girl.

"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary.  I assume you killed every 
single one of them?"

"Do you even need to ask?"

"Oh, I guess not.  Anyway, this was all just a test set up by my 
employer to see if you were the real deal.  And obviously you are.  I 
guess your 'Ultimate Ninja' rep is well deserved after all."

"Do -- not -- call me that."  She pierced a cold stare at him.

"My apologies, Lady Heartthrob -- is it all right if I call you that?"

"It will do.  What is this about?"

"As you know, my employer has already contacted you a few times -- and 
been generous enough to give you these one way trip airline tickets as 
well as hotel reservations for as long as you want in Net.ropolis's 
finest hotels.  I guess you're probably interested in why, right?  Well 
the why is that my employer needs you for a little job.  A very nice 
paying job -- if I might add."

"It better be.  I take it that briefcase is full money?"

The shadowy figure smiled as he showed Lady Heartthrob what was inside 
the case.  "Oh, yes.  It definitely is."

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