LNH: LNH v2 #58.5.ENDING (Just Another Cascade epilogue) (final issue?)
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 16:56:20 PDT 2015
LEGION OF NET.HEROES VOLUME 2 #58.5.ENDING
Just Another Cascade that Will Never Have an Ending: Epilogue the First
by Adrian McClure
with editing and input from Andrew Perron
[The cover shows Merissa in the Peril Room slicing the LNH v2 logo in half,
Thor #337 style, while the rest of the LNH—including Ultimate Ninja,
Catalyst Lass, Token Girl, Cliche Dude, Halls Jordan and Masterplan
Lad—look on in horror. The blurb says, "THE END OF AN ERA (kind of)]
It was just another day in the LNHQ.
The LNH was recovering from a battle for the fate of reality itself, which
didn't happen every day, but it happened often enough. Luckily, the LNHQ
itself hadn't sustained all that much damage. Captain Cleanup and Halls
Jordan were trying to fix it, jostling over each other to be the first to
get the job done.
Multi-Tasking Man was trying to break into a global conspiracy's firewall
while winning the final achievement in Goat Simulator. Kiyoko Ishikawa, the
LNH receptionist, who had recently returned from paid maternity leave,
ushered in a group of tourists while a flock of kiwis impassively looked
on. The sentient comic book collection that lived in one of the LNHQ's
sub-sub-sub-basements observed the twistings and turnings of the cosmos
with a certain amount of concern, but no more than usual.
And Merissa, the LNH's newest recruit, was about to face Ultimate Ninja in
the peril room.
The point of the Peril Room exercise wasn't to win. For a new LNHer, even
one with their own series, this was patently impossible. The point was,
like the Kobayashi Maru scenario, to see how they'd survive an impossible
situation. Usually they managed 15 minutes at most. The record was held by
Glitch Girl, who'd used her powers to hack the Peril Room and held out for
3 hours and 18 minutes. [in Glitch Girl and the Alt.Ter.Net.Tives #5.5—ed]
There was a betting pool about whether Merissa would break that record.
The excitement was palpable. The hallway was completely blocked from LNHers
crowded around the door. Even the overflow rooms couldn't fit all of them.
A number of kiwis (who couldn't fly, but some of them had learned to fake
it) were sitting on LNHers' shoulders. It had gotten to the point where
Deny-Everything Lad had been caught selling tickets to the newer members.
This was all a little inconvenient for anyone who just wanted to get coffee.
Of course, everyone knew Ultimate Ninja would win. But… It was exciting,
just for a little bit, to imagine otherwise.
Catlyst Lass—who was skilled in the art of taking control without it
seeming like she was doing so—managed to push through the crowd and reach
the front of the Peril Room door, dragging Token Girl behind her. They
squeezed in beside Halls Jordan and Cliche Dude.
"Well," said Halls Jordan, "whaddya think? Do you think she's finally gonna
beat that ninja?"
"That'd be nice," said Token Girl, "but she's just a kid—a really powerful
kid, but still."
"Maybe," said Halls, "but something feels different this time. I dunno if
he will lose, but for the first time it feels like that cranky guy in the
black pajamas *could* lose."
"She has the potential to be the most powerful LNHer ever!" said Cliche
"Mhmm," said Token Girl. "Of *course*." She smiled to herself. "Still, I
hope she gives him a run for his money."
"Well, like she said, we still don't know a lot of what Merissa can do.
We'll wait and see!" Cat giggled.
"IT'S ABOUT TO START!!! BE QUIET EVERYONE!!!" said Captain Capitalize.
A hush fell over the crowd as the two combatants sized each other up from
across the Peril Room. Ultimate Ninja narrowed his eyes and stared
wrathfully. That stare had been known to spontaneously disembowel his
opponents at twenty paces. Merissa met his eyes and smirked.
They stood like this for several minutes, while various LNHers tapped their
feet in the background, waiting for the action to start.
"Halls!" whispered Cliche Dude. "What does the ring say about her power
Hall's Ring Around the Collar shot a thin light-beam at her and beeped. His
jaw dropped. "Her power level is too damn high!"
And Ultimate Ninja and Merissa watched, waited. Merissa made the first
move. She tensed, preparing to spring. It was a movement that happened too
fast for anyone other than the Ninja to catch. He screamed and leaped,
unsheathing his blade and aiming straight at her throat. Any other opponent
would have parted ways with their head in a second.
Merissa unholstered the Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN, setting it to shoot anti-ninja
rays, and blasted him full in the face.
Ultimate Ninja raised his blade just in time to block the beam, reflecting
it back on her. There was no way that even the Ginsu Katana could stand up
to the power of the BIGGUN in and of itself, but the power of a ninja
wasn't in the weapon but the one who wielded it. A true ninja knew how to
cut a tank in half with a butter knife.
Merissa flash-stepped out of the way of the beam just in time. "Well, if
that's how it's gonna be…" she said. Then she pressed a button on the side
of the BIGGUN and, with a whirring and clanking, it changed shape.
"That's impossible!" gawked Cliche Dude.
"I didn't even know it could DO that!" said Token Girl. She grinned
The Biggun was now a Gunblade—a sword, just as enormous, with a gun built
into the handle. Merissa grinned wickedly, pointed the Gunblade at Ultimate
Ninja, and fired. It spat out a handful of guns, which he quickly deflected
with his katana.
"Jinkies!" Merissa cursed under her breath. Instead of a gun that was also
a blade, she'd accidentally shifted it to being a blade that shoots guns.
No amount of guns could hurt a true ninja. She wasn't supposed to make
mistakes! Obviously, this ninja was breaking her concentration, so that
must be good. Still, it wasn't too late…
Before Ultimate Ninja could move in for the kill, she hurriedly tapped more
buttons on the side of the BIGGUN and it whirred and shifted again. It
seemed to be back in its original forms, but it shot out katanas at the
ninja—instead of a Gunblade, it was now a Bladegun. The katanas were a true
ninja weapon, so they were more effective, one of them grazing Ultimate
Ninja's shoulder. The crowd gasped.
Ultimate Ninja crouched down, closed his eyes, and a red aura flashed
around him. he'd gone into a Ninja Trance. The crowd gasped again. Anyone
who faced him in that mode would be lucky if they only lost one limb.
Merissa smirked and raised her gun—though people watching her closely would
have noticed a faint nervous twitch in her eyes. "You think you're so
great, huh!" Ultimate Ninja didn't move yet, since one of the rules of
ninja combat was to allow your enemy time for dramatic speeches. "Well
guess what? The Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN's previous wielder never knew how to
unlock its true power! But I do!" She tapped another sequence of keys and
in that moment, the BIGGUN transformed into an enormous sword in the shape
of a key with a hole at the end—a Gun-Keyblade.
"Jeez! That's the otaku-est thing I've ever seen," said Token Girl. "If she
used that weapon on me, I'd die of embarrassment!"
"Shhhhhhh," said Catalyst Lass, who was watching Merissa quietly and
Merissa raised the Gun-Keyblade and shot out seven gun-keys. (Along with a
mon-key, due to an error. The monkey clambered out of the Peril Room and
was later seen playing poker with an Oozlefinch.) The gun-keys, floating in
the air, blasted a series of laser-pellets at Ultimate Ninja in an
elaborate bullet-hell pattern, quickly enough it would have instantly
vaporized anyone who wasn't a ninja. With some effort, Ultimate Ninja
dodged the bullets, making his way to Merissa.
"Come on, it hasn't been ten minutes yet. What a ripoff…" muttered Token
Then, just when the laser-bullet pattern shifted and Ultimate Ninja changed
his course, Merissa shot a golden-colored key at him, which exploded into a
tangle of gold-plated steel tentacles. Before he could extricate himself,
Merissa did a backflip in midair and whacked him square in the chest with
her Key-Gunblade, dodging her own bullets, and sending him falling through
them on his way down.
Ultimate Ninja, making a faint sizzling noise, tried to pull himself out.
Everyone waited. A second passed, two, three…
"THE NINJA IS DOWN FOR THE COUNT!!!!" exclaimed CAPTAIN CAPITALIZE. A
holographic counter appeared in the air. "INSERT QUARTER TO CONTINUE," it
read, and began counting down from ten. Ultimate Ninja tried to wriggle out
and get a quarter from his pockets, but it was too late. He slumped to the
ground, muttering to himself
"MERISSA WINS!!!!!!!" shouted CAPTAIN CAPITALIZE.
The Peril Room background faded away. Merissa did a little dance, humming a
victory tune, then pulled out a piece of paper and taped it to Ultimate
Ninja's chest. It read:
"I WAS BEATEN BY A TEENAGE GIRL."
The crowd burst into a hubbub and then fell completely silent, as if
expecting the sun to fall down from the sky.
"Wait," said Halls Jordan. "How. Did she just—"
"That's impossible!" said Cliche Dude.
"Jeez," said Token Girl. "Can't believe someone finally served the Ninja
some humble pie. Maybe he'll loosen up a bit now—"
Catalyst Lass nodded. "Yeah! Or maybe he'll get worse…"
The crowd slowly, awkwardly dispersed. Of course, nothing had changed.
Ultimate Ninja was still the undisputed leader of the LNH, and after what
happened the last time [in the Infinite Leadership Crisis—ed], no one was
eager to challenge that. Nothing was different…
And yet everything was.
"Oh my god, can you believe that?" said Alice, walking down the corridors
of the LNHQ. "I never thought I'd see the day! Bet he's going to be feeling
sore all week…"
"That was amazing!" said Manga Girl, following alongside. She giggled to
herself. "Say, Merissa is kind of cute…"
"No," said Victoria, bringing up the rear. "No."
"Oh come on," said Manga Girl, bursting abruptly into a fit of laughter.
"You're not my mom. Or my dad. Or my other mom." [this will make more sense
after Just Imagine is done—ed] Then, just as abruptly, she fell silent,
rubbing her chin. "Gee, I wonder what Ultimate Mercenary would think of
No one said anything.
"Well," said Masterplan Lad, who had been wandering the LNHQ checking for
plot holes after everything was over. He held the Plot Device in one hand,
tip moving through the air, scanning. "Here we are."
"Yeah!" said Alice. "I can't believe it. We're caught up with continuity!
That storyline we were in is finally finished!"
Masterplan Lad nodded, wondering how long it would be until things became
thoroughly complicated again.
"So," said Manga Girl. She was rushing through the corridor, one moment
following behind him, the other racing ahead of him. "You've been a real
LNHer for a year now, right?"
"We're all real LNHers!" said Alice. "Catalyst Lass got them to officially
induct me after I helped save the world. I'm part of the team now." She
stretched out her hand and Victoria high-fived her.
"Yeah, but Masterplan Lad's been part of the team for over a year now! So
what's it like?" said Manga Girl.
"Confusing." He caught the disappointed look on her face. "Er, I'll tell
you all about it later, I suppose."
"Yay!" She almost tackled him in her excitement; he was barely able to keep
from falling over by balancing himself on his Plot Device.
"So," said Victoria, leaning against the wall outside the monitor room.
"Now that we're back here and safe and done with all the big events… what
are we gonna do?"
An uneasy silence hung over the corridor, broken only by the rapid typing
of Multi-Tasking Man's keyboard.
"...getting you sorted out!" said Alice, squeezing her girlfriend's
"You think we can do that?"
"Yeah! I mean… I remember when my life was completely stalled, and I
thought I'd be going nowhere and doing nothing, and no one would be into
me. And I just brought back the universe from the dead. And I have a
girlfriend. I feel like nothing's impossible now!"
Victoria smiled. "Yeah. Yeah, maybe you can find my past after all…" Her
expression flipped into a frown. "Hmm, Alice?"
"I was just wondering... you lived a couple different lives too, right? You
were Alice here, and then you went into another story [as was explained in
Ultimate Mercenary v1 #7--ed.] So were you anyone before you were Alice
Ashdown the first time?"
"I don't think so, no. Why?"
"I just... Well, things get really complicated all the time. Just worried
about how complicated they can get, I guess."
"Well, I don't care. It doesn't matter who we were, it's who we are."
Victoria frowned. "I mean," said Alice, "I know that's important to you.
That's our first priority--getting that sorted out. But the point is…
There's a lot of weird and confusing stuff, but now we have somewhere to
stand. With each other." She held Victoria around the waist and hugged her
"Yeah." Victoria laughed. She did indeed seem more at ease since she'd
gotten back—as much as she ever did.
Meanwhile, Masterplan Lad felt the twistings of time and space through his
Plot Device. Reality quaked and wobbled as the universe recovered from the
Big Event, like a drunk lifting themselves up unsteadily in the throes of a
hangover. In the Cretaceous era, a butterfly stepped on a time traveler,
changing history so that the 1976 presidential election was won by a
fictional duck. The universe twitched again and the change was immediately
undone. Several major heroes had their parentage retconned and then
re-retconned. No one noticed, other than Masterplan Lad.
The others were all thinking about their personal problems and potentials.
He'd spent as much time as possible trying to avoid the question of how he
was going to live his life as a person. But it was getting harder and
harder to do so.
"So," said Alice, "the thing is… the stories Victoria was in got erased,
right? But maybe there's some way to recover them." She poked Masterplan
Lad, who was lost in thought. "Do you know where I could find that? What
happens to stories after they get forgotten."
"That's a good question," said Masterplan Lad. "I suppose if there's anyone
who could figure out the answer, it's me. I'll have to think…"
The four of them walked down the hallway, pondering their pasts and futures.
Library Lad and WikiBoy updated the LNH wiki, while Catalyst Lass updated
her shipping chart.
Ultimate Ninja paced around his office, glaring at everything and nothing.
Merissa set up in her new quarters, smiling exultantly to herself. This was
it! She was part of the world's greatest net.hero team! She was just a
recruit now, but one day… One day she'd be the leader, and then she'd whip
this team into shape…
And in the depths of the net, something terrible and hateful stirred,
something that yearned for the destruction of the LNH.
It was just another day in the LNHQ…
TO BE CONTINUED IN
THE LIMINALS #1
LNH V3 #1
(by a certain definition of "soon")
Now that JAC is finally done for reals (well, except for another epilogue
Andrew is writing), he and I are finally going to finish one of the other
longstanding unfinished stories we've had hanging over our head—Just
Imagine! The final act of that story will begin later this month. The
schedule for this will be a bit different (for one thing, there *is*
one)—we'll be posting it in daily flash-fiction installments until it's all
done once and for all. There's a chunk written already, we're just waiting
long enough to build up a buffer.
I'll also be filling in the last unfinished bit of Ultimate Mercenary and
co.'s histories—the Infinite Leadership Crisis issues that focus on each of
them. They will together form an epic story—Evil's Last Stand II, the
sequel no one demanded. Evil's Last Stand II and JI will be the thematic
culmination of the story I began in Ultimate Mercenary #1, with Just
Another Cascade as the denouement. Which maybe means I should have written
them in order, but. Just Imagine will also finally explain how Ultimate
Mercenary got to Earth-20, and reveal a few more of the secrets of that
world. Be there or be a zombie!
Adrian "The Dark Spaceknight" McClure, now with sig
"All spelling errors are to be ingored"--Stephen Ratliff
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