LNH/HCC: Just Another Cascade #12 part B

Adrian McClure mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 12:19:49 PDT 2015

"No," said Catalyst Lass, as the rifts opened wide, encompassing
everything. At first slowly, and then faster and faster, everything on the
diagram began to fade away. And then there was nothing. Not light, not
darkness, not noise, not silence. Nothing at all.

For a moment that stretched out forever—although it was hard to tell,
because there was no time anymore except for the bubble inside the
ship—everyone was silent.

Then a being appeared in midair—a stick figure with angel wings and a
flaming sword. "What the hell is that?" said Catalyst Lass.

"Uh... that's the embodiment of Simplicity," said Net.Access [last seen in
Ultimate Mercenary #7]

"Ha!" it said. "I told you if you made things too complicated everything
would be destroyed! I was right! I told you soooooo…" Then, gradually, he
faded away and was gone. The silence fell again. Everyone stared out at the
nothing in the viewscreen.

"Man, what a drag," said Dr. Tune-on-Turn-In-Drop-Out.

"So it's just us," said Sister State-the-Obvious.

"It is," said Net.Access. "And I don't think I can keep us here for much
longer. We're basically going to die in a few minutes." She made a muffled
noise that was somewhere between laughter and crying. The room turned
silent again, until Pliable Lad said, "huh."

"What is it?" said Catalyst Lass.

"I think I know why I'm here now," said Pliable Lad. "See, I was jumping
back and forth between these different timelines… I guess they were all
different worlds of RACC. This was a couple months after the first vote to
create RACC which failed. [Pliable Lad #8] And I think the RACelestials
sent me there so I could decide for the vote. And maybe they wanted me to
see if RACC has a future… I guess it doesn't." He laughed weakly.

"We lost," said Sister State-The-Obvious.

"No we haven't, not yet," said Catalyst Lass. "Come on, guys. We can retcon

"Yeah! This, uh, this isn't even the first time the entire universe has
died, right?" said Net.Access.

Dr. Stomper rubbed his beard. "I'd like to believe that's the case. But
frankly, our entire existence as a group after 20 years stretches
probability to the breaking point. If it ended here I wouldn't be
surprised. I'll do what I can, but I'm not really sure what I can do."

"We do totally have some of the most brilliant and groovy minds of all
time, dude," said Dr. Tune-On-Turn-In-Drop-Out.

"True," said Dr. Stomper. "If only we had time…"

"I.. I don't know… I don't want to bring it back," said
Sister-State-the-Obvious. "Usenet has died out. Most of the authors who
made the LNH matter are gone and took their characters with them. And most
of the relationships that people cared about are gone… All of the LNH
stories this year have been written by two people. It has to end
eventually. There are so many things in fandom culture that get drawn out
too long and do nothing but disappoint people."

"What? How can you say that?" said Dr. Stomper. "You want to kill

She shook her head. "I can't make myself care."

"wReanna," said Dr. Stomper, "I know your marriage doesn't exist anymore,
but… but…" He shook his head. "But that's the thing. There aren't happy
endings for people like us. But there's always other stories, new
potential. It never ends."

"It just did."

"I…" He looked out the window, into the great emptiness where the universe
had been, their small spaceship the only fragment of life remaining. "I
wish Sing-Along Lass were here."

"It was never going to work out."

"I know." Tears glistened in his eyes, though he held his voice even. "I
just remembered her—her powers—she was able to channel the Cosmic Plot
Device. [in Beige Midnight] I was hoping—" He looked out into the window,
his words lost in the nothing all around them.

"I'm sorry," croaked Sister State the Obvious. She squeezed his hand.
"You're a good man."

"Thank you."

"But that's not enough."

"Maybe not," said Pliable Lad, ‘but it's not just him. I don't know how
much has changed since my time, but… Even with just the six of us, we're
still the Legion, and there's nothing we can't do!"

"He's right," said Net.Access. "We can do this. And we should. When I was
in college, struggling to get stuff done, with no money and no social life,
I used to read about the Legion every day. It was the only hope I had.
Maybe there's someone out there in the Real World who feels the same way.
Even if there's just one or two people who care about it, that's still

"Yeah!" said Catalyst Lass. "We can bring back the world. And we should.
There's so much great stuff. like Cheesecake Eater Lad and his pepperoni
and avocado cheesecakes, and Token Girl and her life size Totoro plushie,
and the Peril Room and the sub-basements, the kiwis and the oozelfinches…
all of that."

Everyone gasped. Somewhere in the cold and endless emptiness, a star
briefly flickered back into life.

"Wait a minute," said Catalyst Lass. "Did I just—"

"Catalyze the universe back into existence for a bit?" said Doctor Stomper.
"I… I think so."

"Hmm. Is there any way we can boost my catalytic effect?"

"…I think so!" said Net.Access. "I could use my circuits to 'broadcast' the
effect, maybe…"

"But we'd have to use both magic and science, and like… smoosh them
together, man," said Dr. Turn-On-Tune-In-Drop-Out.

"Well," said Net.Access, "we could use my block transfer circuitry to do
that, I guess…" The room shuddered again. "I think I can hold together that
long. It'd take a lot of power though."

"We could use your own enthusiasm for the LNH as a battery source!" said
Doctor Stomper. He and Dr. Turn-On-Tune-In-Drop-Out huddled together and
started drawing up plans and technobabbling together.

"We will need some rubber bands though," Doctor Stomper added.

"I guess I can take care of that," said Pliable Lad.

After some rummaging around, they put together a device, stuck together out
of various things in Dr. Stomper's and Dr. Turn-On-Tune-in-Drop-Out's
pockets and held together by Pliable Lad. "Oww," said Pliable Lad. "This
kind of hurts."

"Don't worry," said Doctor Stomper. "This shouldn't take long."

The ship was absolutely quiet. At first nothing seemed to happen. But
gradually, one by one, pieces of the world back to life, then faster and
faster as the device ran on. Pliable Lad felt his mind stretch and distort
along with his body. He heard a strange noise somewhere, on a plane beyond
the physical. He was conscious of being watched by something far beyond his

Philosophers and mystics might argue about whether a tree falling in a
forest made a sound, but Pliable Lad now knew what was the sound of
RACelestials nodding.

Catalyst Lass stared into the whirling depths of the  "Oh my god," said
Catalyst Lass. "I can see… I can see everything. The Kube—it's a microcosm
of the Usenetverse. The pattern—it's everywhere—I can see it!"

The winds of creation blasted the ship out of the outside dimension it had
occupied. But now it was caught in the stream of time and space between
worlds, drifting through the kaleidoscopic of hypertext-time.

"Whoa!" said Dr. Turn-On-Tune-In-Drop-Out. "Turbulence!"

"We're going to crash!" said Sister State-the-Obvious.

"Look!" Catalyst Lass saw something approaching on the viewscreen from the
stream between the worlds, something shrouded in darkness. "She's coming."

"What's that, man?" said Dr. Turn-On-Tune-in-Drop-Out. "That looks like one
seriously bad trip, brothers and sisters—and it's headed our way!"

"I could have told you that," said Sister State the Obvious.

"No," said Catalyst Lass, who still had a blissed-out smile on her face.
"She can save us."


As the dark being approached the ship, they saw it was a human figure in
armor. The armored being embraced the ship's figurehead, and there was a
burst of light. The LNH found themselves drifting gently through the air in
the same realm they'd left behind, with the armored figure holding
Net.access in their arms.

As she reached the ground, her helmet retracted, sending her long black
hair flowing in the dramatic wind that didn't seem to be affecting anyone

Net.Access opened her eyes and saw the woman standing over her. "Victoria?
I'm alive?"

"Yeah. I got you, Alice."

"What's going on? Where are we?"

"I reached you through the Friend Zone," she said. "That's where we are
now. Because… we are friends, and we always will be even if things don't
work out in, you know, the dating way. And I'm not going to let go of that.
I think…"


"I think we can make this work. I don't know who I was before, but
everything we've been through together, where we are now… It matters. I
think this is worth a try."

"Oh my god, really?" She nuzzled into Victoria. "That's great!"

"I…" Victoria smiled uneasily, stroking her hair. "I honestly find it kind
of hard to believe you're really into me."

"Why? You're great."

Victoria looked away and shook her head. "No I'm not. You're cool and
confident and heroic. I'm scared and confused and I have no idea what I'm

Net.Access laughed. "You really think I know what I'm doing? Well I don't.
My life, it's like this train whose brakes fell out and the ride's great
but what's going to happen when I reach the destination? I have no idea
what I'm doing either. Well… except for hopefully you."

"Aaaa!" Victoria twitched, almost dropping Net.Access.

"Oh my god!" Nec.Access slapped her forehead. "Did I go to far?"

"No! No, I uh, I… I really like that you're, you're into me like that."
She tapped Net.Access on the nose. Net.Access laughed, putting her arms
around Victoria's neck, and drew in to kiss her.

"Aaaaa!" said Catalyst Lass. "That's so adorable!" Victoria drew her sword,
dropping Net.access on the ground. "Oh, sorry," she said. "I, I just,
romance is great. I'm Catalyst Lass." She hurriedly re-composed herself and
held out her hand. "Sorry."

"OK, I've heard of you," said Victoria. She looked around, taking in the
scenery, and frowned. "OK, what's going on here?"

"Well!" said Doctor Stomper, "Quite a bit, really." He then explained as
best he could about the Rifts.

"Hmmm, I knew about the rifts," said Victoria. "I ran into that in the
other universe. So where's this Kube—"

"I've got it." Catalyst Lass had pulled the Kube out of her pocket and was
playing with it, almost caressing it. Her laughter was a little worrying.
"I remember the pattern," she whispered. "I can do this… I can remember
everything. I can reach the out to the whole universe. I can make
*everyone* happy."

"Should we maybe do something?" said Victoria, but she found she couldn't
move. The device began to throb with an unearthly hum, and Catalyst Lass
was enraptured in the slowly cohering pattern.

A tiny metal disc whooshed through the air, knocking out of her hands with
an explosion. "Not a chance, Galadriel," said Token Girl.

"What? How dare you?" She blinked, slowly taking in the world around her.
"Oh! Tara!" " She leaped at Token Girl like a cat,  almost knocking her
over. "You're alive!"

"Yeah." She smirked. "I thought that was Sister State the Obvious's job."

"You'd be surprised," said Sister State-the-Obvious.

"You OK?" said Token Girl.

"Yeah, just feeling kind of… cosmic," said Catalyst Lass. "I saw
everything, I can't remember it all, but… there were three things. Three
things I had to remember. About the future of the Legion. I know—I know who
needs the Kube." She bent down to pick it up and put it back into her
pocket, not looking at it.

"Let's get going," said Token Girl. "There's a revolution going on. It
should be winding down right about now."

"How did you find me, anyway?" said Catalyst Lass.

"Well, duh, this is the Friend Zone. I guess you must have brought me here
subconsciously since you knew you needed me." She side-hugged her tightly
as they walked together. They realized a glowing blue aura had surrounded
them, which gave off a bell-like tone. When Victoria reached down to help
up Net.Access, they too were surrounded by an aura, impossibly bright. Dr.
Stomper reached out his hand to Sister State-The-Obvious, who took it. A
faint aura surrounded them. Each aura had a different color and tone. The
LNHers realized they were hearing music all around them, the echoes of all
those who had passed through this world.

"Man," said Catalyst Lass, "this place is pretty nice. Why would anyone
hate it?"

"Some people," said Dr. Turn-On-Tune-In-Drop-Out, "are just not groovy."

As it happened, Token Girl's entrance into the dimension had created a
portal back to Planet Inferior. The rest of the team stepped back through
it, to the former throne room of LAN.os, where the army was gathered along
with the freed LNHers.

"Welcome back!" said Anti-Christ Lad. "Where is LAN.os? Yon disgruntled
horde would have words with him?"

"I've got him," said Net.Access. She hacked up the time bubble, which
burst, dropping LAN.os on the floor. He was once more in his throne room,
but things were quite different for him now, surrounded by a hostile army.

"All right," said Burning Bra Lass, "it's over for you now, LAN.os. The fat
lady sang. And that's me!"

"No! No! It can't end like this!" LAN.os was on the verge of tears. "You
can't take this away from me! Everything I ever did, I did for love!"

"Well why didn't you pay us?" said one of the Dorf soldiers.

"Love is expensive!" He stood up and his hands crackled with energy. He
probably couldn't stop this whole army, Catalyst Lass thought, but he'd do
a lot of damage going down. "I will not stand for this! I must have the
Kubrik's Kube! I must have the love of Lydia—"

"Okay, this has gone on long enough." Lydia Devin stepped out of the
shadows, facing LAN.os. "Look. I hate to break it to you—well, actually, I
don't—but it's not going to work. For one thing, I'm not interested in
*any*one that way. For another thing, I wouldn't be interested in you
anyway. You don't need the Kube, because it'd just tell you what you
already know and you won't listen. The reason no one wants you isn't
because the universe is unfair, it's because you're a colossal douchebag."

LAN.os removed the fedora from his head and shed a single tear.

"And incidentally," said Lydia, "I could write a whole damn book about how
unfair the universe is, and in fact I did [it's being revised right
now!—ed.], and you don't hear me whining half as much as you."

"I… I…" LAN.os fell to the floor and started bawling. "Then I have lost
everything! What is there left for me to do?"

"Well, um," said Lydia, "you could try exploring the Friend Zone a bit. You
know, actually making friends.Not that I could give you any help there.
That's why i sent you there—you'd have to really make friends with someone
if you wanted to get out. I could have just destroyed you, or I don't know,
punished you by turning you into a dildo or something, but… That's who i
am, I guess. That's not what I want to do with my life. "

"Ha! How could I ever have idolized you?" LAN.os grimaced through his
tears. "You are foolish, and weak—"

"Well, I'm not the one trying to take over the universe because I was
turned down, so what ever" said Lydia.

"OK," said Fearless Leader, "it looks like we're pretty much done. Let's—"

And then a towering image of a woman appeared above them. Everyone
instantly went still. A few of the LNHers had encountered her before. The
earliest members had fought her in the days of the Cry.sig on Infinite
Net.Earths, a few others had run across her later traveling between worlds
[in the Ultimate Mercenary miniseries]. But everyone recognized her. She
was one of the first and greatest enemies the LNH had ever faced—the
Crossover Queen.

"I am pleased you worked this issue out before I needed to intervene," she
said. "However, I am the rightful wielder of the Kube, the one who can make
the best use of it. Surrender it to me this instant or you will regret it."

By her side was a bulky armored figure. Net.Access gasped. "That's him—the
cyborg knight guy we saw earlier" [in Ultimate Mercenary v1 #3-4], she
whispered to Victoria.

"This is the Ultimate Hero," said the Crossover Queen, "forged from the
body parts of gods and heroes of legend. He is the first and foremost of my
champions—the Beige Order."

Before she could finish, Victoria lunged at her, slashing at the heel of
the towering image of Crossover Queen with her sword, but it passed through
the hologram harmlessly." She waved her hand, and Victoria was encased in a
pillar of black crystal. Everyone was trapped by a forcefield except for
Ultimate Ninja, Fearless Leader, and Catalyst Lass, the one holding the

"Okay," said Catalyst Lass, pulling the Kube out of her pocket and fiddling
with it. "Why should we give this to you?"

The Crossover Queen's image shrunk down to human size and looked Catalyst
Lass in the eye. "Usenet has dwindled into almost nothing," she said. "Its
death is a foregone conclusion. Only I have the power and the vision to
restore it."

"Well, *you* weren't the one who just brought the multiverse back after it
blew up." Catalyst Lass giggled.

"Ah yes." The Crossover Queen scowled. "That was impressive—"

"Why thank you." Catalyst Lass wiggled her eyebrows.

"But it was merely a temporary solution. One way or another, this continuum
will die, unless I intervene. Already, worlds touching your own are
threatened by cosmic catastrophes!" She waved her hand and they saw a
massive grungy spaceship looming over a dead Earth, and confused and
terrified angels fleeing a disintegrating Heaven. [see recent/impending
events in LNHY—ed.] "In this age, can you afford to be riddled with such
chaos? Look at all these cascades—they almost destroyed your world, how can
you allow them to run rampant?"

"What's wrong with cascades? I thought you were the Crossover Queen."

"Cascades and crossovers seem to resemble each other," said Crossover
Queen, "but they are deeply opposed. Crossovers are forces of order,
binding worlds together, while cascades are forces of chaos, disrupting and
destroying all common sense. What was the point of all that business with
the duck?"

"Why did there need to be a point?" said Catalyst Lass. "If you ask me, I
think that kind of silliness is why we're still here. It's the reason the
LNH is still around after so many other projects have been forgotten."

"Perhaps once upon a time, the Usenetverse could have afforded such
foolishness, but these are troubled times. Your team is a disorganized
rabble—it may have staved off this crisis, but what about the next one? Or
the next?"

"We're doing pretty well so far." Catalyst Lass put her hands on her hips.

"You do not know what you are rejecting, Catalyst Lass. Your power and
leadership is as great as mine. If you joined me, your world need fear
nothing again!" The Queen threw up her arms. "You are worthy to stand as my
consort, and your team to be my champions. Together, we could rule all of

A visible shudder passed over Catalyst Lass. "Thanks for the offer, but I'm

"Very well then. If you will not join us, you will die." The Crossover
Queen rose up into the air. "Listen to me, all you who came here to serve
LAN.os. Only my vision can restore Usenet to its glory. Inevitably, I would
clash with the only other power on usenet that could equal mine, if it were
not constantly wasting its time with pointless nonsense—the Legion of
Net.Heroes. Nonetheless, they will not give up their power lightly. A war
is about to begin—the greatest that has ever been in all of Usenet. All of
you who are gathered here had no future, no hope, no cause to serve. I will
give you one now. And of course, you will be paid well. Will you join me?"

About two thirds of the army walked over to the Queen and took its place
behind her. LAN.os himself lumbered over to her side, with him on her left
and Ultimate Hero on her right. The rest remained with the Legion.

"And what of you, Lydia Devin?" said the Crossover Queen.

"Hey don't look at me, Queenie, this isn't my universe," said Lydia, still
standing awkwardly to the side of everything. "I get enough headaches with
just the one"

"I could teach you to use your powers properly." She swirled over to Lydia
and looked her in the eyes. "You need not fear them. You need no longer
live under the tyranny of your sister…"

Lydia had looked as if she was considering it for a moment, but her face
hardened and she set her shoulders firmly. "Excuse me. That's not your
business. You're not the one who gets to get back at my sister." A dark
aura began to swirl around her. "Funny you should mention her. I knew you
reminded me of someone."

"Very well then. You have chosen your side and you will pay the price.
Within moments, one of my mightiest warriors will arrive here, wielding one
of the LNH's most powerful weapons. Even you will not be able to stop her."

There was a crackle of energy in the air. A red-haired teenage girl wearing
an armor that is covered in spikes and carrying a gun that's twice as big
as she is appeared. "YAHOO!" she shouted. "I'M THE COOLEST!" A group of
battered, defeated net.heroes the rest of the team didn't recognized (the
Legion of Young.Heroes, as it happened, along with Non-Judgmental Agnostic,
Manga Girl and Foreshadowing Lad) lay behind her.

"Is that…" said Doctor Stomper.

"Jesus," muttered Lydia. "Her fashion sense got even worse. I didn't know
that was possible."

Lacuna, one of those who'd been dragged in behind her stood up unsteadily
and took in the scene around her.. "Oh no," she said. "No. We're too late.
This is when it all started. The Beigewar."

"Okay!" said Merissa. "You people had better give me the Kube, or there
will be SERIOUS HURTING!" She put her finger on the trigger of the BIGGUN.

Catalyst Lass raised her finger to her lips, the rest of the team. She took
out the Kube and held it in her hand, looking at Merissa carefully.

"Sure," she said, and swiftly tossed the Kube to her.


Notes: Well, there you have it. I've been working on this issue for a
while, but the current HCC, on shipping, motivated me to finish it, since
the whole issue was up being structured around relationships of various

The "Type 103" form was derived from the Doctor Who novel Alien Bodies by
Lawrence Miles.
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