LNH: Flame Wars Final: Second Phase #6

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Sat Jun 8 21:59:41 PDT 2013

Literary Impossible and Prehistoric Productions present...

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The Starship Jefferson was adrift in space! Writer's Block Woman flew 
heedlessly though the void, grabbing the first person to come to hand - 
Captain Continuity - by the shoulders and shaking him while shouting 
over the radio, "THE SHIP IS ADRIFT IN SPACE!!!"

Eyes loosened in his sockets, the Defender of Cause and Effect looked 
over her shoulder. "...oh!" he said, increasing his volume as if to 
make sure everyone, net.heroes, Exemplars from the far future, and the 
thought-images they were fighting alike could hear him. (Seriously, 
dude. You're using a radio.) "Yes, that's terrible! It's of no use to 
us now! We had definitely better keep moving away from it!"

Writer's Block Woman just kind of... stared. "Poor dear, the 
battlefield stress has gotten to him..."

Captain Continuity rolled his eyes and motioned her to look at the 
ship. It was completely dark and motionless... except for, she now 
noticed, a tiny blue glimmer, thrusters firing in the endless dark...

"...ohhhhhhhh! Yes, yes," she trilled, thrilled, "yes of *course*! We 
must make good our escape!" She turned a quick flip in midair, shooing 
away thought-images that had gotten too close, and put on a burst of 
speed to catch up with the others, making their way around the great 
padded curve of the blanket-fort.

"Excuse me," came Doctor Stomper's voice over the radio urgently, "I 
believe I'm falling behind. Yes, they are definitely almost upon me..."

Blackbody dived wordlessly towards the good Doctor. Suddenly, they 
vanished. The thought-images, a vague hint of confusion on the shifting 
light patterns that passed for their faces, turned and headed toward 
the others.

"Amazing," said Doctor Stomper, turning around in a bubble of total 
blackness. "You've curved all electromagnetic radiation perfectly 
around us."

"Nonsense," said Blackbody. "There was no time to do it perfectly. We 
were simply lucky that the Laziness cannot detect a refraction of six 
point eight nanometers at this range."

And Doctor Stomper wasn't sure whether she was kidding...

Minority Miss floated up between Ultimate Ninja and the Ultimate Yogi. 
"I'm worried," she muttered on a short-range channel. "The Laziness is 
learning fast." 

"Yeah," panted Substitute Lad, popping up next to them once more before 
the powers of Kid Chivalry faded, "and it's getting harder to-- ack!" 
One of the thought-images had suddenly teleported right up and grabbed 
his arm. Minority Miss spun around and fired off a telekinetic blast, 
dispersing the thought-image and allowing SB to slip away.

"And now they know how to do *that*," muttered UN. "You know, when you 
said to bring our most versatile members, I didn't think you were 
afraid of making it too *easy*."

"Heh," heh'd UY. "Don't worry overmuch. Based on trajectory and speed, 
Chaos Theory should have us aboard by the time I'm finished with 

The familiar whoosh-tug of the space.thingee's embedded TelePorTer 
unit, and they were back on the <name>.

"--sentence." He nodded to Cannon Fodder, at the tele-controls, who 
sighed ruefully and nodded back. They proceeded to the airlock, where 
Chaos Theory met up with them.

"Docked with the outer shell," CT reported. "Atmosphere *and* grabbity 
in there. Real horrowshow like."

"Wouldn't it be more horrorshow not to have those things?" said Captain 

"Quite wrong! This way, the normality of the situation puts you off 
your guard, so you're not as prepared for nasty surprises."

"Like the atmosphere and gravity giving way," said Ultimate Ninja, "so 
keep your equipment on while we head in." He opened the lock and they 
stepped into the Laziness's domain.

A dark cave surrounded them. Blackbody began releasing electromagnetic 
radiation in the visible spectrum, a bright halo enveloping her matte 
black finish. The surfaces were fluffy and soft, feet sinking into 
them, and decorated in bright colors and pastels. She pulled out a 
sphere about six inches wide and placed it on the wall, where a 
crackling blue force field formed around it. "First transport beacon in 

"Excellent," said the Ultimate Yogi, "we're in the home stretch."

Suddenly, a high-pitched wail began to rise from the walls. A wind 
kicked up in the internal atmosphere, and a rushing blur, almost 
subliminal, flickered past.

"What's going on?" shouted Ultimate Ninja, drawing his Ginsu Katana.

"It's cutting four-dimensional wounds..." Chaos Theory seemed to be 
staring off into the distance, focusing, looking through a glass not 
just darkly but warped like a funhouse and upside-down. "They're not 
here yet, but they're... pushing their fingers through..."

The wind screamed, and blurs whipped by like invisible trains, seen 
only by the reflections of their running lights. "The Serious Business 
has begun to push into this reality," said Blackbody, "and the Laziness 
is defending itself." 

"Sending out more of its energy into the solar system," said Doctor 
Stomper, fascinated, horrified. "Creating more thought-images... and 
more Servants of Sloth!"

"Yep," said Chaos Theory. "So, the plan's changed. AFK." And with that, 
they vanished.


And around them, figures began to appear, all cruel angles and edges, 
terrible eye-searing grays, and faces like wicked caricatures...



Casey had seen stranger sights in his time, but only a few. Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid collapsed in a heap on the helipad atop 
Keikhlasan Medical Center. Above him, the apparition that called itself 
Mister 9 hovered, like a cloud of boiling steam.

Francis Bacon Lass rushed over, circling warily around the spirit, and 
ran her Scientific Instrument over ARAK. "He's okay!"

Irony Man nodded, eyes fixed on Mister 9. "He was a tool."

"No!" snarled the spirit. "I helped him on his quest."

"His *quest*?" said Contraption Man, eyes burning dangerously.

"His quest for moral certainty. He was no *sheep*, like *you*!" He, it, 
thrashed in place. "He desired to be effective. To do what was right, 
by *whatever* *means* *necessary*!"

"And what was right was murder?" Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy was doing a 
more-than-reasonable impression of Frothing-at-the-Mouth Lad. "Murder 
of a child, of its parents, of entire floors of patients and nurses and 
doctors if that bomb went off!?"

"Rightness requires sacrifice! And *that*--" Mister 9's spindly arm-
tendrils raged at the parents, safe behind Irony Man, quietly watching. 
"Messiah! HrrrrGRAH! She would destroy the lies that keep men decent!"

"Believes not in hope,
sees not men, but only the 
winter of his soul." Haiku Gorilla shook his head.

Cheesecake-Eater Lad kept his blasters, full of ecto-cheesecake, locked 
on the misty form. "Uh-huh. So why did he resist?"

"Grrrrrrrnnn. He could not help his human weakness. So I gave him the 
truth! I made his body acknowledge the truth his mind could not!"

Casey rolled his eyes. Just another delusional bad guy. "I've got a 
question. Why are we still talking to you?"

Contraption Man laughed. "He's right. In his body, you were a threat. 
Now... you're just another bad idea."

"HnngrrRRAAAAAAAAH!" Mister 9 spun and howled and made the noise of the 
torments of Hell.

"Very good," said Irony Man. She turned to the couple. "I apologize for 
the delay."

Maimouna was shaking her head. "Is this what your lives are like? Blood 
and thunder and the great battle of words?"

"Well, yes," said Obnoxious Ame.rec.a Boy, covering her as they moved 
toward the hatch. "Horrifying, I know, but necessary."

"Horrifying?" She smiled, shifting Amina (AKA the Messiah of 
Sincerity), dark circles under her eyes crinkling. "I think I may be 
enjoying myself."

"Sayang!" said Izzat, squeezing her hand as they walked up the hatch.

Haiku Gorilla slung ARAK over his shoulder.
"We turn the page here,
stop, smell the salty sea air
and continue on?"

"Yes," said Irony Man. "I believe that our goal is almost complete."

And then Casey felt a growing pressure on his mind. "I-- I think you 
shouldn't have said that," he said, clutching his head. "I think... we 
should get inside..."

"..." Irony Man shouted, "Aboard! Now!"

Startled by the out-of-character loudness, the rest of the team piled 
aboard. Casey could see, as the hatch closed, a figure appearing, all 
cruel edges and angles... and Mister 9's form violently colliding with 

Irony Man extended a hand. The controls went bleep! and the VTOL assist 
antigrav crystal thrummed. "Make sure that the civilians are braced for 

"What--" Casey clung to a rail as they took off. "What's going on?"

"A menace, just as I believed we were out of danger. Situational 
irony." She shook her head. "The Looniverse is cruel."

With a rattling THUNK!, something landed on the wing...


A warm, steamy section of old-growth rainforest. A man moved, slowly, 
gracelessly, pressing aside hanging vines and bobsled-sized leaves with 
his torso. His head moved back and forth, searching. But the force that 
drove him onward dulled his senses, so that he didn't see a shadow 
creep up behind him and reach out...

With a tap! he was engulfed in a blaze of broad-spectrum emotional 
energy, and after the powerful surge of memories cleared, Captain 
Coredump sat there blinking. Then the protocols of the Peril Room swept 
him into a protective hard-light bubble, and he was off the board.

The Servants of Sloth turned toward the light and sound, started 
heading for whatever caused it - but they were already gone. A shape 
danced in impossible silence at impossible speed over the treetops. It 
dropped into a tiny clearing, completely enclosed by impassable trunks.

"Okay," said Twitter (for it was she!), "we've de-Slothed about half of 
them, and drawn the rest away from Super Apathy Lad. Now's the time."

Pummelo, Sandra, and Firewire nodded, and Usenet Prime sort of bobbed 
forward. They made their way up and across the treetops, towards a 
figure shrouded in heavy, dull darkness.

"Hey!" Twitter yelled. As Super Apathy Lad sloooooowly turned, she 
leapt down and pointed the crystalline end of her Memory Stick at him. 
The other three Sticks turned to point at hers, adding their mnemonic 
energy. Twitter opened her mind, and Usenet Prime sent a torrent of 
articles through it. Her eyes narrowed in effort as the entire archive 
of Usenet up to this very point flowed through her memory in a single 
thread, and it took all her concentration to channel it into the Memory 
Stick. The crystalline head burned brightly with the emotional force, 
and she pushed it into the dark aura.

Those eyes, filled with the most heartbreaking expression of apathy, 
locked onto hers. She felt the power thumping, *pounding* at her will - 
but she had just one inch left to go.

"Remember... who... you... ARE!" It was but the lightest tap - that was 
enough. years, DECADES' worth of the collective memory of the world 
coruscated through Super Apathy Lad's mind, body, and soul. His eyes 
slowly widened, spectral light blazing from them. His mouth opened in a 
silent expression of wonder. His body became a column of light, and he 
said, "I remember..."

And he was gone.

Twitter stood, frozen, Memory Stick dramatically pointed at nothing. 

Pummelo lowered his Stick and scratched his head. "Huh."

Firewire raised an eyebrow. "I... see?"

Sandra said, "Guys, that wasn't part of the plan, right? We didn't just 
kill him-- right!?"

Usenet Prime wrote:
> I do not believe so. Looking at the manner in which the disappearance 
> was phrased, and comparing it to the writer's other stories, past and 
> future, I do not believe that Super Apathy Lad is dead. Simply-- 
> gone.

"'Gone'?" said Firewire. "Gone where? And will he be back?"

Usenet Prime wrote:
> That is as yet indeterminate.

"Um, well!" said Twitter. "At least we stopped him, and changed back 
everyone he turned into a Servant of Sloth!"


Peering through the trees, Usenet Prime wrote:
> Actually, it appears that everyone we did not specifically change 
> back is still transformed.

A howling wind kicked up through the trees, a wind that kicked up 
sparks on the Memory Sticks. The Servants of Sloth looked up towards 
the invisible ceiling of the Peril Room. Each one became wrapped in an 
aura of darkness like the one Super Apathy Lad had, and as one, they 

Remotely accessing the crisis monitor, Usenet Prime wrote:
> Now it appears that each of them has gained the ability to turn 
> others into Servants of Sloth. As well, they have gained other 
> powers, including teleportation, which they have used to scatter 
> throughout the city.

"..." Pummelo opened his mouth.

Attempting to be reassuring, Usenet Prime wrote:
> But it looks like they are unlikely to turn those powers directly on 
> the populace, as they will be too busy fighting the strangely angled 
> figures which are appearing near them.

"..." Pummelo closed his mouth.

Twitter took a deep breath. Inhale... exhale. "They're going to need 
our help," she said, half to herself.

Sandra shook her head, the hint of a smile playing on her lips. "A 
hero's work is never done." She nudged Pummelo. "Now you know why I 
didn't join."

Firewire entered the code to open the Peril Room door. "Time for round 


Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, all in one piece this time!

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