LNH: Flame Wars Final: Second Phase #3

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Thu Jun 6 07:42:41 PDT 2013

Literary Impossible and Prehistoric Productions present...

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            |   ^ ^ ^ ^  FLAME  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^  WARS  ^ ^ ^ ^   |
            |  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^       ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^      ^ ^ ^ ^ ^  |
            |   FFFFFFF IIIIIII NN   NN   AAAA   LL        |
 SECOND     |   FF        III   NNN  NN  AA  AA  LL        | NUMBER
      PHASE |   FFFFFF    III   NNNN NN AAAAAAAA LL        |      THREE 
            |   FF        III   NN NNNN AA    AA LLLLLLL   |
            |   FF      IIIIIII NN  NNN AA    AA LLLLLLL   |
-  --------------------------------- --------------------------------  -

It was dark.

Pummelo sat on a cool surface. Next to him but invisible, like 
traveling companions on a moonless night, were Twitter, Sandra, 
Firewire and Usenet Prime.

They waited for the horde.

Pummelo heard fingers drumming on the floor. Out of the darkness, 
Twitter's voice came. "You guys know we can talk, right?"

A nervous chuckle; Firewire. "Guess so. It's just... knowing they're 
out there. Looking for us."

"Yeah, and when they find us, POW!" He could hear the grin in Sandra's 
voice. He wondered if the same confidence would show in her face, in 
anyone's, if this plan was a solid strategy or just something to run 
out the clock until...

He swallowed, forcing words out of his throat to break the silence. 
"Uh, so, Usenet Prime... what *are* you? I- I'm sorry, I don't mean to 
be a jerk, it's just I've never met a computer pyramid person before.

Usenet Prime wrote:
> Quite all right! I am the entity that evolved from the Usenet
> system.

"Usenet... isn't that sort of like, the multiverse?" Pummelo adjusted 
his seat, Memory Stick scraping the floor. "Or something? I remember 
there was a special on the science channel about it..."

Usenet Prime wrote:
> In a sense. If one desired to maintain the diegetic viewpoint, one
> could say that it is a great informational structure of which this
> world is but a small part.

"But..." said Sandra, jolting Pummelo out of listening to that oddly 
soothing manner of speech, "doesn't that make you, like, God?" She 
didn't seem pleased by this prospect, although there was a fascination 
to her voice.

Usenet Prime wrote:
> Oh, certainly not. For if you are one small part of me, I am but
> one aspect of you. I no more encompass the universe than a mirror
> encompasses the soul.

"Well, that certainly is... confusingly reassuring." Sandra chuckled. 
"I think this sorta thing was why I didn't get into the net.heroing 

"And the zombie hordes," noted Twitter.

"Yes. Definitely that too..."

They sat in silence for a moment, feeling the tension flow back in, 
letting the darkness press down on them until Firewire stood up, 
extinguished shoes scraping on the floor, and started moving around. 
"So," he said, "what's your future world like?"

Usenet Prime wrote:
> Ah! It is a wondrous world indeed, one of beings whose lives are
> taken up by a sense of enjoyment in their purpose.

Pummelo couldn't help but let out a sardonic "heh". "Sorry, but I don't 
know if I believe in utopia..."

Usenet Prime wrote:

> Oh, not utopian. Simply good. It is not that there are no problems.
> It is not even that people do not fight people. It is more... the
> basic pettiness and meanness is something that we can move past, so
> that a greater, more meaningful, more *fun* story can play out.

"..." Pummelo sucked in a breath. "Yeah. Yeah, I can believe in that."

The silence descended once more. It was comfortable.

...until it was broken by the dissatisfied "meh" of a Servant of Sloth!

The fivesome leapt up. "Okay," said Twitter, "you guys know what to do."

They stood against the back wall, Memory Sticks tight in their hands. 
"Door open!" called out Twitter. The panels slid apart; after the 
darkness, the energy-efficient fluorescent illumination of the hallway 
was almost blinding.

In the light stood a silhouette. Then another, and another, and 
another, and they started shuffling forward...

"Hold your positions," muttered Twitter, tensing, counting in her head, 
counting each one that passed through the door...

They could see the dull flash of their eyes as they drew closer, the 
menacing forms of foes they'd faced and defeated - but only just.

Pummelo saw King Crossplay in the crowd. He remembered when they'd been 
introduced to one another by OTP; she'd taken him aside and started 
showing him pictures of what she'd been doing lately, expositing at 
length on how each costume would be able to hold off a team of net.
heroes and look good doing it. It sounded overbearing now, but she had 
been so full of *passion* and *energy* and *joy*...

He remembered the one time he'd interrupted her, to ask why - why she'd 
decided to be a net.villain when those she admired and emulated were 
net.heroes. She paused for a moment, then told a story about a girl. 
The girl had gone to a convention as Pantra - skimpier than her usual 
choice, but she hadn't seen a good one and wanted to get it right. When 
she had gone in to get an autograph from her favorite artist, she had 
been refused and insulted, accused of being a "fake geek girl". And 
when she'd gone online to complain about it, she'd been met with 
nothing but apologists, saying that even if *she* did it for the right 
reasons, there were so many fakers that one couldn't tell. And when she 
realized that one of the loudest apologists was an LNHer-- one that 
she'd looked up to, had admired--

Pettiness. Meanness. Those were the things that she'd fought against, 
and now, there she was, overcome by those same things--

He felt a hand on his arm - Twitter's. Without realizing it, he had 
stepped towards the crowd. "...sorry," he muttered, and stepped back 
into position.

The meh'ing masses made their way towards them; closer and closer, more 
and more. Twitter's eyes flickered, scanning back and forth across the 
rear of the crowd. It seemed like the Servants had all filed in, but 
where was--

Then she saw him. An aura liked smoked glass, making light slow and 
careless around him. Steps like granite blocks wrapped in gauze. Waves 
of lethargy radiating out from him and kicking up sparks against the 
Memory Sticks.

Super Apathy Lad.

He stepped into the room.

Now! Twitter shouted, "Close doors lock doors execute program 26X-B!"

The doors closed and the room burst into light, revealing the smooth 
contours of the LNH's very own interactive training arena, the Peril 
Room! The holographic emitters kicked in, and they disappeared, LNH, 
Servants and all, into a dense and all-concealing jungle...


Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, really proud of that part.

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