LNHY: Looniverse Y #13: 0th Fit
Adrian J. McClure
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 29 19:10:03 PDT 2013
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L O O N I V E R S E
N U M B E R
T H I R T E E N
[ The cover shows a hexagonal jewel floating in space. The central hexagon
shows a massive, grungy, vaguely Moebius-esque spaceship looming over the
Earth from space. The surrounding facets, each a different color, show
(counterclockwise) the LNH making posing dramatically in front of their HQ
with in the center, Kid Kicked-out passed out at a bar, Exclamation!
Missy! fighting a giant stalk of corn, the System Corruptors posing
dramatically in front of their HQ with Kid Enthusiastic in the center, a young
woman tied to an altar while a shadowy figure fights off a bunch of tentacles,
and a hand holding an umbrella that crackles with cosmic power.]
YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Looniverse Y YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
"Gods and Monsters"
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Ultimate Power Lad looked up at the sky and saw the cloud of dead gods and heroes floating in the air. Almost all the the net.heroes he’d looked up to when he first stole the Book of Ultimate Power and the Dice of the Gods and tried to be one himself--the Secret Shadow, the Masked Finger, Time Mime, Speed Baby, He-Dude. There were villains too, the ones he'd hoped and feared to face in battle--Sub-Prime, the Lurking Enigma, Princess Robot, War Dinosaur, Patchwork Barbarian. Hero and villain alike had banded together to face the ship, and they'd all failed. The world's greatest scientists had tried to communicate with it, and they’d all failed. No one knew why it had sent out the wave of nothingness that washed inexorably over the whole universe, eating up the sky, and was about to come to rest on Earth.
"Then it's time," said the Last Legionnaire. "We've failed." He took off his hood. He’d never done so before in public, but there was no one around to see anymore. The dim light given off by the ship showed his pale, classically beautiful face and his dark hair, and the cardboard crown on his head. It was a Burger Emperor crown--a fast food franchise that didn’t exist in Ultimate Power Lad’s world and hadn’t existed in the Last Legionnaire’s either. It was the last thing anyone even remembered about a world that had died a long time ago. Its original owner had doodled weird markings on it that resembled arcane sigils or comptuer circuitry, or possibly both.
"No," said Ultimate Power Lad, "there's got to be a way."
"Do you really believe that?"
"I... No. But that's a sort of thing a net.hero would say."
"Good to hear." The Last Legionnaire hugged him. "I don't know whether the fact that you're still trying is brave or stupid."
"Why can't it be both?" Ultimate Power Lad smiled wanly. The alarm on his watch went off. "Oh, right. It's a new day. it's hard to remember now that the sun's gone and I can't get any sleep.
He pulled the three Dice of Destiny out of his pouch where they sat along with the Book of Ultimate Power. It didn't feel like all that long ago that he'd stolen them Dice of Destiny and the Book of Ultimate Power from the gods of another dimension, where they used it in their games. The Book contained every superpower in existence, and the Dice selected three of them at random. He rolled the dice, which floated up and spun around in midair, their symbols shifting. His three powers for the day would be flight, ice generation, and communicating with ferrets. The icons on the chest and shoulder pads of his armor shifted to match.
"Don't know that it'd make any difference," he said. "Maybe I'll try and stop that thing. I'll probably fail like everyone else. How about you?" His tone was absurdly cheerful. "I guess... I guess you'll be moving on now. You couldn't save this world, but maybe you can save the next one."
The Last Legionnaire laughed. "No. I'm done now. No one can survive this kind of thing more than once with their mind intact. That's how it's always been. It's your turn now."
"Me? But... I'm not actually that good of a hero. I'm not anyone who really mattered, not like them." He indicated the dead heroes floating in the sky with a wave of his arm.
"Well, you helped me when I was a wreck and couldn't remember who I was or what I was here for. You may not be the world's greatest hero, but you're *my* hero."
"I... thanks. But... I still can't do it. not on my own."
"You won't. It's not just you. All the world's net.people need to get together to stop this. That's where I failed. I've never exactly been good at getting along with people. But you... you put up with me for all this time. And that's a real feat.”
"I loved you. Still do."
"I know. You need to bring them together. The heroes, the villains, and everyone in between. Before it's too late."
"...All right. But how am I going to get out of here? All the ways out of the universe have been closed up now, ever since the ship came."
"Here. Take this." He took out a crystal size of an egg, with facets of many different colors. The number of its sides seem to be constantly shifting. "This is the nexus of all the unrealized potentialities of history, everything that doesn't fit into the framework of continuity of linear time. The M'Gaann Crystal." He took the crystal in his hand and felt a sharp jolt of energy. The world around him seemed more vague and unreal. "And this too." The Last Legionnaire handed him his crown.
"What does it do?" said Ultimate Power Lad as he put it on his head.
"I don't know. The first Last Legionnaire was killed before he could explain it. Maybe someone else will figure it out."
The pulsing wall of white was beginning to swallow up the sky. He looked up at the Ship one last time. It was too massive to take in, encrusted with grunge and space debris, but with several white nodules that glowed with a pale corpse-light. Somehow, in spite of the fact that the ship was nothing like it at all, the first thing that came to mind was a garbage truck.
He wondered what that thing really was. Was the ship itself sentient, or was there someone piloting it? What did they want? Did they even know what they were doing? He imagined something strange and utterly alien, something infinitely beyond his comprehension.
"Well," said Larry, to no one in particular. The panels were in working order. The ship was running smoothly, as it always did. Well, except when someone attacked it, which was almost all the time, but usually they gave up after the first few attempts. He just had to press a few buttons to activate the automated defense systems, and a few more to repair them, and that was that. It wasn't a very hard job. Really, it was mostly just boring.
There was only one other person on the entire ship, Lenny. He took over the ship when larry was asleep. they practically never met, which was for the best since they hated each other. Lenny's voice was too loud. Listening to him tell jokes was almost worse than hearing the universes scream when they finished the job.
To be honest, Larry couldn't even remember how he got this job. He couldn't remember ever meeting his bosses. He just found himself here one day and started working. He knew in vague terms what his job was--taking apart "defective" worlds, whatever that meant, so their parts could be used to create new ones.
He pushed the last button on the console. It was enormous and huge, obviously not meant for human hands. The engines began to roar into life. He hoped the noise would drown out the screams of the people of the dying world.
There was a huge roar of engines, which shook him ot his bones.
And then there was nothing.
"Wait," said Ultimate Power Lad. He realized that he was never going to see the Last Legionnaire again. There was so much more he had left to say.
And then everything was gone. But somehow, he wasn't. He fell through the wall of white, into the crystal, which seemed to dissolve into white sand, blown away the wind.
He was the Last Legionnaire now.
Maybe it wouldn't be all bad, he thought. Maybe this would be a better world. The heroes of his world had failed so many times. They never felt like they’d quite lived up to the potential of what a net.hero could be. They were never the net.heroes they’d dreamed of and told stories about and had never-ending lawsuits over in their comics and cartoons. But somewhere, there had to be a world with that kind of net.heroes. The icons and inspirations.
Maybe this was going to be a better world. A world worth saving.
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