LNH: JUST ANOTHER MULTI-WRITER CASCADE THAT WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAVE AN ENDING #1.NOW (#4) part A
Adrian J. McClure
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 9 13:19:22 PST 2014
JUST ANOTHER MULTI-WRITER CASCADE THAT WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAVE AN ENDING #1.NOW (#4)
(aka ALL-NEW BIRTH OF A VILLAIN NOW NOW NOW)
"Everything Dies, Nothing Ever Ends"
Usenet is dead, to begin with. That much, everyone can agree on. But there are a few corners of it that still cling to fitful life. One of these is alt.obituaries, where the dead come to pay respect to the dead.
In the LNHQ of the city of Necropolis in alt.obituaries, five men are gathered. They call themselves the Saviors of the Net.
"Then that is all of us," said Irony Monger. "Now for business. Looniearth-A is having a major crisis. Again."
"When isn't it?" said Continuity's Champion.
"Well, yes," said Irony Monger. "But the way things are now, we cannot afford to let it continue. The balance of the Usenetverse is--"
"Ahem," said Occultism Lord.
Irony Monger sighed and snapped his fingers. A nickel shot out from his gauntlet and landed in the Cosmic Cliche Jar.
"Well, the point is... well, Penultimate Savior, you show us."
Penultimate Savior nodded. A cloud of black smoke with stars sparkling within took shape at the center of the conference room, and an image began to appear inside...
The beat up VW bug shimmered into existence like heat haze on the Net.ropolis streets, then screeched to a halt and slammed against the wall. Victoria Arden, otherwise known as Forsaken Lass, jumped out. The sunlight was bright but gave no reflection off her obsidian armor.
"You okay?" she said, touching the car gently.
"I've been worse," said the car, its radio speakers crackling. "I kept some healing spells stored up from when I was in magical girl form just in case." She glowed and vibrated for a brief moment, and then was more or less as good as new.
"We made it!" said Manga Girl, leaping out of the car and doing a triple backflip in midair. "I think?" She looked around her, trying to take in their scenery. It seemed to be Net.ropolis as usual, although the streets were oddly empty. Again.
Masterplan Lad was the last to leave the car, clutching his head and using his umbrella to keep himself from teetering over. "Yes, it would appear that, miraculously, we have finally caught up with the present day LNH. I assume this means something else will go horribly wrong soon."
"Well, we didn't all make it," said Net.Access.
"Yeah," said Manga Girl. It was the first time Victoria had seen her frown since she could remember. "Any of you figure out where Merc is? The last I remember we escaped the Crossover Queen [Ultimate Mercenary v1 #7], then you dropped him off in the middle of that Hungry Past mess and you said he wasn't part of our world anymore... [in Just Imagine, whenever we get that sorted out.]"
Masterplan Lad frowned. "I know. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of him. Continuity is a powerful force. I... I do hope so."
"Yeah," said Victoria. "I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the guy."
Masterplan Lad nodded. "At any rate," he said, "at least now I can tell where in my own timeline my stories are supposed to be taking place."
"Yeah," said Victoria. She looked around. "Uh... what are we actually going to do now that we're back?"
Masterplan Lad shrugged. "Go to the LNHQ, I suppose, and... join in on whatever is going on there, I suppose. As one does."
Manga Girl threw up her hands. "Let's go to a PARTY!"
"Er, what?" said Masterplan Lad.
"I'm not up for that right now," said Victoria. "I... kind of just want to rest for a while. "
"I'm game as soon as I figure out how to not be a car again," said Net.Access.
"Well--" said Manga Girl. "Wait, where is everyone? And what happened to the sky?"
The sky, which they'd thought was simply gray and overcast, had turned into static. From all around them they could hear the hissing of a dead signal.
"Not this again!" said Victoria. "I thought we were home!"
"I think we are," said Net.Access. "It's just... some kind of cosmic distortion... thing. I have a lot of technical knowledge."
A horde of dark squarish shapes appeared in the sky and descended to the earth. They were gigantic cans of Spam with googly eyes affixed on them. "Sexe boobs!" they chanted as one in harsh metallic voices as they crashed to the Earth with a mighty clang. "Sexe boobs! Sexe boobs!"
"Spambots!" said Manga Girl. "Let's mobilize!" She flipped in midair and knocked hte eye off one of them, sending it groping around confusedly, then finished it off by slamming it against the wall with a mighty kick.
Victoria suddenly felt herself panic when the Spambots lurched for her. She was tired of all this. She wanted to be alone, where she could be safe. And then, suddenly, she was. She could see the fight going on in front of her--mostly Manga Girl, as Net.Access swerved around trying to run into them and Masterplan Lad stared--as if from inside a tank of water. But it didn't quite feel real. None of the other seemed to notice her absence. And it was an awfully familiar feeling. Somehow, she realized, she'd teleported back to the Threshhold of Limbo, the place where characters went when no one remembered them, where she'd been sent by the Discomega Effect of Flipseid. She thought she heard something whispering from her side. It was Arcanis, the entity in the form of a sword she'd grabbed in the Crossover Queen's Citadel she was apparently stuck with.
Victoria lumbered forward through the depths of Limbo and reached inside the Spambot, yanking out its central processor (or something), a disgusting slab of spam. The shock of it brought her back to reality, and she watched as the robot fell over and collapsed to the ground. But there were three more where that came from heading right for her. She pulled out Arcanis--though handling it (him?) made her feel vaguely ill now--and prepared to strike.
"Victoria!" shouted Net.Access. Abruptly, she reared up on her hind wheels and transformed into a giant robot. She strode over to where Victoria was and kicked one of the spambots out of the way, then grabbed the other and threw it at the wall. Victoria was so overwhelmed by how cool this was that she almost got twhacked by a Spambot tentacle. She sliced the tentacle off with Arcanis just in time, then threw the sword at its heart, destroying it. Arcanis flew back into her hand, unfortunately.
The Spambots were all taken care of now. "Yay! We did it!" said Manga Girl, doing a little victory dance. But then they saw twice as many Spambots descending from the sky.
Suddenly, the sky flickered back into blue and the spambots ground to a halt. "niIiIiIiIice boOoOoOops," they groaned as they collapsed as one. The world faded back in around the four net.heroes. The drivers and pedestrians swerved around them. Some shouted curses at the deactivated Spambots, while others ignored them. It was business as usual in Net.ropolis.
"What was that about?" said Manga Girl.
"And where the hell were you?" said Victoria to Masterplan Lad. "You could have jammed your signal or something. Acutally, I'm still not sure what that umbrella thing does, but it had to do something."
"Plot Device," said Masterplan Lad. "And I was trying to make some form of intervention. But the threads of storytelling here and now have gotten hopelessly tangled. It's even worse than Birth of a Villain."
"Something really bad must be going on," said Net.Access. "We'd better get to the LNHQ."
"No," said Manga Girl, "Victoria is right. I mean, I'm up for anything, but you guys probably need to recover."
"But the LNHQ would be the safest place," said Masterplan Lad, "which admittedly isn't saying much."
"Are you sure you'll be welcome there? Didn't you guys all kind of all blow it up individually?" [in the Infinite Leadership Crisis issues I will hopefully write someday.]
"Um... it got better? Four times?" said Victoria. She flinched. "Wait, how did you know that?"
"I archive binged all the Infinite Leadership Crisis issues when we were in the end of time. It's okay, we all make mistakes." She walked over to pat Victoria on the shoulder, then realized she probably shouldn't do this as a giant robot, and shifted back to her magical girl form. "I'm better now. Just had to figure out what genre I was in."
"Good." Alice hugged her, and suddenly she was overwhelmed with loneliness, even as she felt happy her best friend was with her. Maybe her only friend--Ultimate Mercenary was gone now, and she wasn't sure how she felt about Masterplan Lad or Manga Girl.
Masterplan Lad looked around nervously. "Er, I'll be heading to the LNHQ. The two of you can catch up with me later if you want to be alone." He activated his plot device with a soft hum, then disappeared into somewhere.
"Well, we'd better get out of here," said Victoria, pointing at the Psuedoscience Police flying cars that were converging on the downed Spambots.
"Hold on," said Alice, smiling intensely. She grabbed Victoria by the waist and floated her up to the rooftops. "Ta-da!"
"Hey!" Victoria playfully swatted at her, and found herself laughing. She planted her feet on the roof. "Next time, you could warn me."
"But I can fly now! That's pretty cool, isn't it." She looked her in the eye.
"OH JUST KISS HER ALREADY!" shouted Manga Girl. The two of them looked to see her standing on the roof beside them. She smiled and waved at them nervously, then leaped off into the air.
"Oh god, I'm sorry," said Victoria. "She's so... well, she's got a lot of enthusiasm."
"Yeah," said Alice. "But I was kind of thinking... Maybe she's right."
"...Is that a good oh god or a bad oh god?"
"It--i--I, no, I like that. I just find it hard to believe that someone--that someone who I actually like is into me like that, not just another creepy guy or something. I feel like I'm going to wake up any minute now."
"Well," said Alice, "you know what they do about that in the stories." Alice was looking down at her, floating a few inches in the air since she was slightly shorter than Victoria. She bent over and kissed her. Victoria felt a rush of warmth and life and excitement, like nothing she could remember. Of course, that didn't mean it hadn't happened anyway. She abruptly pulled away.
"You OK?" said Alice.
Victoria shook her head. "I don't know. About anything. I mean... that was a good kiss, don't get me wrong. But I had a whole other life here that was wiped away by the Discomega Effect. Somewhere, I have a family, maybe I even have someone else already. And they don't even know who I am."
Alice shook her head. "That life's gone. We're here together now, and that's what matters."
"But we barely know each other. Just... wait, how long were we in the Crossover Citadel together, anyway?"
"Dunno. Crossovers always mess with time. It sure felt like a long time."
"It did. But... I don't know. About anything. I want to have more of a sense of who I am and how I fit into this world before we decide on what we are."
Alice nodded sadly. "That... that makes sense. But we're still friends, right?"
"Always," said Victoria. "Wherever we end up going, it feels good to have someone who cares whether I'm alive or dead."
"Yeah!" said Alice. She laughed. "I can't believe this. My dream is coming true. Ever since I was a college freshman taking fourteen credit hours at Dave's Thomas Deluxe University, staying up late at night listening to news reports about the LNH, I dreamed about being a hero. Then I got mixed up in all this cosmic stuff and became the embodiment of crossover-ness or something and I was just struggling to stay alive. Now, I can be a real hero. We can save the world together."
"Speak for yourself," said Victoria. "I've kind of had enough of that for a while. But I'm glad for you. Just be careful, OK?"
"I'll be a hero. That's better."
Alice picked her up in her arms and they flew off together, just the two of them. Only they weren't alone, she remembered. Arcanis had been by her side and heard this entire conversation. But he was still trapped in the form of a sword and could say nothing, so it was awkward all around. Hopefully.
"What was the point of all that?" said Kid Remender. "I didn't come her to see people talking about their relationships."
"The Spambots," said Occultism Lord, "are the most hardy and pervasive element of the web ecosystem. They will survive when everything else is gone. They're the cockroaches of the internet. If the Spambots themselves are dying off, than what does that say about Usenet?"
"That much we know," said Continuity's Champion. "What is the nature of this catastrophe?"
"Come and see," said Penultimate Savior. Something else began to take shape within the mist...
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