LNHY/LNH: Looniverse Y #14 (AKA Just Another Cascade #11.5)
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 18 18:57:56 PDT 2015
Looniverse Y #14
"Why Ask Y?"
AKA Just Another Cascade # 11.5
Note: This takes place before Death of Trophy Wife.
Previously on LNHY: Pister Y. Maprika III, soda magnate, has taken over the
LNH, while young would-be-hero Kid Enthusiastic has gained leadership of
the net.villain team, the System Corrupters, determined to forge it into a
force for revolutionary change.
Previously on Just Another Cascade: classic-verse LNHer Victoria Arden, AKA
Forsaken Lass has been dumped on the world called T-Bone by one of the
narrative rifts formed by the LNH's lack of closure...
Victoria Arden walked into the LNH lobby. Something was wrong. She'd known
that from the first moment she arrived here. Everything was dingier and
darker and more unpleasant. The traffic outside was louder and everyone
honked their horns more. Inside the lobby, the paint, an ugly shade of
blue-green, was peeling off the walls, which were plastered with posters
for some drink called "No-Duh." ("No-Duh! It's a Soda!")
"Um, hello?" she yelled at the empty reception desk. "Where's the
receptionist?" She waited for a few moments, tapping her foot, and no one
came. "Please tell me this isn't another bad future," she muttered to
herself. Just when she was about to head around, an old man in a natty suit
that didn't quite fit him clattered into the room.
"OK, are you the receptionist?" said Victoria.
"Receptionist? Who needs one? I am Pister Y. Maprika III, leader of the
Legion of Net.Heroes! Have you come to join us?"
"I guess. I already have. I'm Victoria Arden—Forsaken Lass. I'm already a
part of the LNH. Well, my LNH. All the LNHes I've ever heard of take in
extradimensional refugees all the time." She crossed her arms.
"Hmmm." He looked her over careful. "Well, we've certainly never done
anything like that."
She sighed. As frustrating as this person was, he was probably just the
drama-creating obstacle character, the equivalent of Ultimate Ninja. The
reasonable one should be coming along any second now.
Another man walked into the room—tall, pleasant, and open-faced, looking a
bit like Chris Evans with a slight beer gut. He wore a costume so bright it
made her eyes hurt. A weirdly familiar costume. She realized where she'd
seen it before—it was a brighter version of the one that belonged to
Exclamation!Master!, one of Limp-Asparagus Lad's villains. Well, this was a
"Can it be... Is she the one the New Member Detector was talking about?!!!"
"Well, why don't we ask it?" said Pister Y. Maprika III. He pulled out some
sort of wand thing from his pocket—it looked like the offspring of a
tricorder and a marital aid—and scanned her.
<:Nope, it's not her:> chirped the device. It had a grating, unpleasant
voice. <:The new member should be coming any minute, though.:>
That was when Victoria realized what was troubling her about this building.
"Wait a minute," she said. "Where is everybody?"
"What do you mean where is evyerbody?"
"The rest of the team. You're called the *Legion* of Net.Heroes, right?"
"Well, we've never had more than five people" said Pister Y. Maprika III.
"What kind of legion is that?"
"Only those chosen by the LNH New Member Detector are worthy of being
inducted into the LNH!!" said Exclamation!Master!
"Why are you listening to it?"
<:Because I"m the LNH New Member Detector:>, said the LNH New Member
"I—" She narrowed her eyes and scrutinized Pister Y. Maprika III some more.
His tie was patterned with No-Duh logos. "What's 'No-Duh?'"
Pister Y. Maprika III's jaw dropped. "What's No-Duh! What's No-Duh? It's…
It's…" He grabbed the air as if trying to pull the prefect way to express
the concept down from the heavens. "It's a soda!"
"Never mind," said Victoria. She'd get things sorted out and get out of
this universe as soon as she could. "I was wondering if you had any super
scientist types who could help me get back home."
"Well," said Pister Y. Maprika III, "that depends. I have some of the
world's most brilliant scientists on my payroll. The question is whehter
you can afford that …service"
"What the hell?" said Victoria. "What kind of net.hero do you think you
"Well, in this economy, there are certain pressures…"
"Forget it. Forget it. I'm out of here!" she said, turning around in a
huff. "I'll see if I can find any REAL net.heroes in this city."
"Hold it!!!" said Exclamation Master. "maybe we could--" but she had left.
"Hello, everyone," said Trophy Wife, sashaying into the room, lifting an
enormous shopping bag stuffed with clothing. "Did I miss anything?"
"Not particularly, no," said Pister Y. Maprika III. Exclamation!Master! was
about to say something but Pister Y. Maprika III nudged him in the gut with
his elbow. "How was your day, dear?"
"Wonderful! I was just out shopping. You?"
"Oh, business as usual. I finalized the purchase of the planet Mars so I
could use its ice caps for bottled water. That's two planets I own now!"
"Er, what are you actually going to do with Neptune?!!" said
"It's… ah… an investment." He turned to Trophy Wife. "Oh, have you seen any
more of that demon clown they've been talking about?"
"I took care of that already, don't worry."
"What? But I wanted to—"
"Don't worry, dear, I'm sure something else will come up." She patted him
on the head. (She was twice as tall as him, and an inch or so taller than
"Have you seen any sign of that new member yet?!!" said Exclamation Master.
"Not yet, I'll bet they're coming soon—"
Just then, a big, clunky, 50s-looking robot wearing a pink tutu and a
sparkly silver crown walked into the LNHQ lobby. "Hi!" she said. "Beep
boop. I'm Princess Robot and I'm here to join the Legion of Net.Heroes!"
<:That's her!:> said the LNH New Member Detector.
"Welcome to our noble band of heroes!!!! I am Exclamation!Master!!"
"And I'm Trophy Wife. It's good to have another girl around." She quickly
hugged the robot.
"Yay!" said Princess Robot.
"Er, are you sure of this," said Pister Y. Maprika III to the LNH New
Member Detector. "She's a bit… a bit…"
<:Look, it's her. Just let her in already and go back to bathing with your
caviar bath bomb.:>
"Who told you about that? I mean… Look, Miss Robot, I'd be happy to have
you on board, but… well, you have to consider the realities of business.
Superhero teams like ours are primarily marketed toward boys. You don't
appeal to, ah, male sensibilities in the same ways as Trophy Wife does. If
we allowed another woman on the team, it might be hard to sell the
The robot made a buzzing noise, sad with perhaps a hint of anger, which
they eventually realized was crying.
"Are you really going to make that little girl robot cry?!!" said
"You really should let her on, dear," said Trophy Wife, sidling up to him.
"I mean, obviously, I know what women want. I loved superheroes growing up;
I bought every action figure I could afford. Come on. Let her join. I'll
make it worth your while." She winked ostentatiously and began rubbing his
"Ah… we'll… all right. I'll let her in on a provisional basis. For you,
"I'm reasonably sure that's against our constitution!" said
Exclamation!Master! "The New Member Detector is the one who determines the
<:He's right, you know:>
"We'll let her in," repeated Pister Y. Maprika III, "on a provisional
"Yay!" Princess Robot pounced on them to hug them, almost knocking them
Victoria wandered alone through the streets of the dim, dingy Net.ropolis
of this world. She'd traveled to so many different versions of Net.ropolis
now this situation didn't surprise her in the least. Was she going to spend
the rest of her life doing this, jumping from world to world, time to time,
never finding a place to rest? Even in the brief period where she'd touched
down in the "real" Net.ropolis, it hadn't really felt like home.
Alice could come here and save her, of course… but would she? Did she even
care? Sometimes Victoria felt like all she knew how to do was be miserable.
Who would want to share that misery? Alice seemed happy, secure, sure of
herself—all the things Victoria wasn't. Victoria would just bring her down.
And maybe Victoria didn't want to be saved by someone else—why couldn't she
save herself? Maybe it'd be best if she never saw Alice again.
Victoria was so busy brooding over her thoughts that she almost didn't
notice the ten-year-old boy on the flying tricycle. She reflexively drew
her sword when he zoomed over her, almost knocking her on the head as he
made his landing.
"Yeah!" he shouted, holding some sort of scanner device with brightly
colored buttons at her. It looked as if it was made by Playskool. "That's
the anomaly! Or one of them, anyway. I picked up two…"
"Holy moly! It's a dame with a sword!" said another woman following after
her. With her black fedora and peacoat, she looked a bit like a female
Captain Jack, or a goth Agent Carter. "She must be one of those Teenage
Giant Halfbreed Angels!"
"I don't think she's from around here," said the kid.
Another woman stepped out of the shadows, sniffing the air. She was… there
weren't really words to describe her. Saying she was beautiful seemed as
inadequate as saying heavy metal music was loud. "There's ancient,
terrible, powerful magic about her," the stranger said. "If magic it is.
But she herself is not the cause of it. It is like a howling storm, and she
stands in its eye." Her voice was low and deep and sent a shudder up
Victoria's spine. It was the kind of intense, bone-deep attraction that
wasn't necessarily pleasant. Around her belt was... was... Well, Victoria
didn't want to think about that. This wasn't supposed to be a
She turned away from the dark lady and looked at the kid more closely. His
costume was very different—a punk jacket with the anarchy symbol emblazoned
on it—but she recognized him from their battle against Pope and his
minions.[in an upcoming Infinite Leadership Crisis story—ed.] "Kid
Enthusiastic? Is that you?"
"Yeah! I don't know who you are but that sure is me!"
"But we met in—oh right, alternate universe." She smacked her forehead.
"Wait, hold on, aren't you part of the LNH?"
"Oooh, alternate universes. That explains it." He looked up, a bright smile
on his face. "As it happens, no, I'm not part of the LNH. I am the leader
of the greatest villain team of all time, the System Corrupters!"
"The…what?" Victoria blinked. "Are you the evil version? Shouldn't you have
a beard? No you're too young to—" She broke off into nervous laughter.
"Evil, are we? Well, I don't know about that," said the woman in the
peacoat. "I'm kinda messed up. But everyone in this lousy two-bit world is
kinda messed up. I'm just doing the best I can."
"I am most definitely evil," said the dark lady, "but considering what
passes for good in this universe, I may be your best hope."
"Well, okay then," said Victoria. Of course she didn't trust these people,
but the LNH had seemed like awful jerks, so maybe they wouldn't be so bad.
On the other hand, maybe EVERYONE would be that bad. "Let's hope I can get
out of here soon." She felt herself starting to chuckle but she held it
down, knowing she'd break down into hysterical laughter. She had to hold it
together. Until she got back home, anyway… wherever the hell that was.
"What's going on?" she asked. "What are these anomalies you're talking
"Ah!" said Kid Enthusiastic. "Well, lately there's been some kind of cosmic
disturbance on the multiversal level… Several overlapping ones, actually.
[see Just Another Cascade and Looniverse Y #13—ed.] At least two rifts
appeared in this universe… one of them just opened, that's the one that
brought you here. The other one I only found traces of after it'd already
been here for months…"
.o(I can't believe it), Victoria thought. She had been aware that Kid
Enthusiastic was a super-genius if he was anything like the one from her
world, but it still stung a bit that a ten-year-old knew more than her.
"Thing is," he continued, "we don't know who or what came thorugh that one
yet. You seem pretty nice, but the other one could be something really
awful. What's your world like?"
"Oh! Um… Not like this one. It's a bit brighter and better put together and
the LNH is an actual functional net.hero team. Well, sort of."
"That's what I was worried about," said Kid Enthusiastic. "If you come from
a world that has real heroes, that means the villains could be REALLY bad.
Given the Law of Narrative Symmetry, since you're a hero, the other being
that came through was probably a villain. They could have been here for
months, planning stuff, without anyone knowing…
With a little more wheedling from Trophy Wife, Pister Y. Maprika III had
decided to take Princess Robot on a tour of the LNHQ. He'd doffed his armor
and stepped into a dapper suit for the occasion. "And here," he declared,
"we have the monitor room."
"Oooh!" said Princess Robot. "What does it do?"
"Well, we're still not entirely sure how it works or what it's monitoring,"
said Pister Y. Maprika III. "But I have the world's top scientists studying
"You know, dear," said Trophy Wife, "this place probably could be used to
be cleaned up a bit."
"I'll get around to it one of these days. I hired some cleaning crews, but
they never came back from the basement…"
"Oooh? What's down there?" said Princess Robot, pointing, with excellent
timing, to a rusted door that said "LNHQ Basements." Under that was
written, in a blood-red graffiti scrawl, "DO NOT ENTER. EVER." (The last
word being underlined three times.)
"Well," said Trophy Wife, "that's the doors to the basements. You, ah, you
probably shouldn't go there." This remark was punctuated by a blood
curdling scream from beneath. "There are all kinds of noises that come from
down there," she said. "Screams, ominous chanting in no known human
language, accordion music… You get used to it after a while."
"I don't know about this…" said Princess Robot, beeping anxiously.
"Well, there may admittedly be some unresolved issues with this building,
but at least we've got the washing machine repaired, and hired a dry
cleaner…" He frowned. "Is anyone else feeling a little stiff?"
"It's not just you," said Trophy Wife. "Someone put way too much starch
when they washed this dress."
"Gasp!!!!!!" said Exclamation!Master! "I can't move!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Bwa-ha-ha!" A man in a suit stepped swiftly out of the shadows. He was an
unassuming figure, who somehow managed to appear completely generic, except
for his bloodshot eyes—the eyes of someone who stays up late at night
plotting how to individually ruin the lives of every single person on
"It's that dry cleaner!" said Pister Y. Maprika III.
"He's a supervillain!!!!" said Exclamation!Master!
"Well, you can't always judge by appearances…" said Trophy Wife.
The dry cleaner. somehow took off his suit in a single dramatic motion,
revealing a purple uniform with a green cape and "Y" insignia.
"I stand corrected," said Trophy Wife.
"Indeed, buffoons! You've fallen prey to my deadly Super-Starch!" He
snapped his fingers. "To me, my Y-Bots!" A horde of robots flooded into the
room—also green and purple, shaped like the letter Y with angry eyes pasted
on. Skinny metal arms draped off the branches of the Y and they rolled on
tiny wheels. They look as if they'd come from a malevolent version of
"And now," gloated the false drycleaner, "nothing will be able to stop my
conquest of the entire Omnilooniverse! For I am one of the oldest and
deadliest enemies of the TRUE Legion of Net.Heroes, Y-Plex Burp! Soon, I
will rule all of creation! Soon, humanity will bow down before me! Soon, NO
ONE WILL EVER ASK WHAT MY NAME MEANS AGAIN!"
Victoria didn't even bother to ask why the System Corrupters' headquarters
was a giant upside-down vending machine. Soon enough, she told herself,
she'd be out of here and back to her own universe, though the chances of
that seemed slim. The [I'll have to look up if Drew ever established
it—it'd be a solar powered carrier thing that looks like a action figure
accessory] had brought them here and Kid Enthusiastic had ushered them in.
It was a dimly lit building not unlike the LNHQ, but Kid Enthustiastic had
apparently added a few of his own touches. He'd painted the walls bright
colors and plastered pictures of dinosaurs everywhere.
"I'm gonna have to get some readings from Victoria in the lab," he said.
"You guys can go off and have fun together I guess. You've been doing that
"We've been practicing," said Private Eye.
"That's what you were doing last night, huh?" said Kid Enthusiastic. "Maybe
you could be a little quieter today." Private Eye blushed a little. The
dark lady chuckled.
Ignoring the slight twinge of jealousy—if she'd ever "practiced," she
couldn't remember it—Victoria concentrated on one of the dinosaur posters
on the corridor wall. It was a tyrannosaurus rex in glasses and a snazzy
vest suit eating a book while a crowd of people ran away in terror.
"Libraries are Delicious!" it read
"I guess you really like dinosaurs," said Victoria.
"Oh yeah!" said Kid Enthusiastic. "Of course, most people think they don't
really exist and were just put in to confuse believers, but I believe they
were real, somehow.."
Victoria blinked. "What the hell is wrong with this world?"
"I've been asking that my whole life," said Private Eye.
"Nothing we can't fix!" said Kid Enthusiastic.
Y-Plex Burp's Y-Bots had hauled up the LNH and strapped them to
evil-looking racks that he'd set up in the lobby in short notice.
"You'll never defeat us!!" said Exclamation!Master!
"Ah, but I already have!" said Y-Plex Burp. "As you can see, I have you
"Of course not!!!" said Exclamation!Master! "We have triumphed over far
worse!!! The LNH can never be conquered no matter how devious your plan
is!!!!" Oh lord, thought Trophy Wife. Those two could go on like this all
"Ah, but you have no idea of the true scope of my plan! You see, the LNHQ
is a building with strange dimensional properties. By taking over this
LNHQ, I will send forth my Y-Bots into LNHQs across the multiverse and
conquer all the Legions! Muahahahah!"
That's when Trophy Wife realized—Exclamation!Master! had been deliberately
escalating the drama to get Y-Plex Burp to reveal what his plan was! Good
boy. Still, someone was gong to have to think up their own plan now, and it
looked like it was up to her. "Enough!" said Y-Plex Burp. He snapped his
fingers and a force field gag appeared on Exclamation!Master!'s mouth. Now
it was Trophy Wife's turn to stall for time.
"That is a really impressive plan, Y-Plex dear." She batted her eyelashes.
Y-Plex Burp stared confusedly.
"Well yes, it is, but—what do you want?"
"Well, obviously, you're a man of great vision…" Pister Y. Maprika
grumbled, but Y-Plex Burp had already gagged him, which was probably for
the best. "I was just thinking, there's a lot we could accomplish together…"
"What are you doing?" Y-Plex Burp looked honestly baffled.
"I'm flirting with you, silly."
"Flirting? I've heard of such things but no one has ever done something
like that to me.." He stared at her in complete bafflement. "Enough!" he
enoughed again. He pulled out a ray gun and zapped everyone with a bright,
painful burst of energy. "I tire of your prattle! I must work to manifest
my dreams of conquest!"
When he had strode out of the room, Trophy Wife stirred. It had hurt, a
lot, but her own invulnerable nature meant she wasn't down for the count
like the others. Flexing her not inconsiderable muscles, she broke free
from the rack and scattered the pieces across the room, bursting free from
her dress. "Oh dear," she said. "Good thing I just went shopping." She put
on another dress, this one a bright audacious crimson, before any fanboys
reading could linger on her too long. "I like this one better anyway."
"Danger! Danger!" shouted two of the Y-Bots. "Containment breach at—"
"Breach this!" shouted Trophy Wife. She broke the robot in half with a
single punch, then grabbed the rack and threw it at another, shattering it
to pieces. "All right. Now is any of the rest of you up?"
"I am!" said Princess Robot.
"Oh right," said Trophy Wife, "you just joined and you weren't even wearing
any clothing. Looks like our criminal mastermind here could have put some
more thought into this. Don't worry, I'll have you down in no time." She
broke the rack with a karate chop and got her free.
"What about the others?" said Princess Robot.
Trophy Wife snapped her fingers in front of Exclamation!Master's face. He
didn't move. "Looks like the boys have let us down," she said. "You'll get
used to it. It's our turn now…"
Victoria lay strapped to a table in the System Corrupters lab, while Kid
Enthusiastic waved some kind of science-wand over her. It looked like a
retcotheric katzenjammer, but in this messed up world, who knew.
"So, um," said Victoria. "That woman… the really creepy one. What's her
"Oh, you mean Exciting Lass? Well! She was the first wife created for
Gotta-Luv-Me-Lad in the Garden of Party Time, but she didn't want to submit
to her husband so God threw her out and created Knows-How-To-Please-Her-Man
Lass instead and she became the mother of monsters!"
"So you mean Adam, Eve, and Lilith?"
"Huh! Never heard them called that before." Kid Enthusiastic giggled.
"What is it?"
"Do you like her?"
Victoria twitched. "I—um—I—no, I don't. I just met her and she's also
really creepy. She's just really, uh, really compelling."
"So you like girls, huh?" says Kid Enthusiastic.
"Yeah. I'm pretty sure I'm a lesbian." This was something she'd been
thinking about for a while, and coming into contact with "Exciting Lass"
had really brought that home. Several times, the narrative had tried to
pair her with a man and she'd resisted it. [Ultimate Mercenary #1] She
never felt any attraction to Ultimate Mercenary or Masterplan Lad even
though she actually sort of liked them, or any of the other men she'd met
in the brief period she was part of the LNH. Whereas she found Exciting
Lass unnerving, but being around her gave Victoria all kinds of thoughts
and feelings. Of course, she hadn't met a lot of men, but it still felt
right. That, at least, was one small piece of herself she could hold onto.
"That's cool! I don't know why God has a problem with that. I figured maybe
someday I'd ask him myself."
"So God doesn't talk to people in your world?"
"Um, well, where I'm from the writers usually just kind of handwave
"Huh, you believe in the Writer Theory?"
"I... that's not really a theory where I'm from, that's just something that
everyone kind of knows. Or, not everyone but people who are involved in
net.heroing and magic and stuff."
"Yeah, that's interesting... See, if you look at the things that God has
said and done over the centuries, they're contradictory and confusing and
inconsistent, and theologians have couple theories why. Some say that God
is beyond human understanding. Some say that he's an imperfect being that
is gradually learning perfection. And some say God is a fictional character
written by different people with different ideas about how he works and
that's why everything's such a mess. Of course, that'd be true of the rest
of us too..."
"It is. Although some of us are mostly written by one writer, like me."
"So wait, what does that mean for free will?"
"Well... I don't really know. The whole relationship between fiction and
reality is kind of complicated. Mostly we just don't think about that."
"So... wait a minute, could God strike us down too? I mean, we are hanging
around with the Mother of Demons."
"Well... he could, yeah. But at some point, he stopped doing that. Over the
last year or so, God hasn't really been speaking to people. He hasn't even
smited people who ask Him silly questions."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Dunno. But if I had to guess, I'd say He was afraid."
"Dunno. Still thinking about that one."
"Wait," she said, "one last thing. It's about Exciting Lass…"
"Well, I don't know how much she's like the Lilith myth of my world, but
doesn't she… you know… eat children?"
"Yeah! But don't worry, she only ate someone that one time. When we fought
that demigod guy who was trying to rebuild his kingdom and take over the
world. She unhinged her jaw like a snake and swallowed him whole. I wasn't
there for it but Private Eye told me about it."
"Yeah, that was really creepy!"
"And… you aren't scared of her?"
"Nope! Well, okay, maybe a little bit. But that's the thing. She's a
monster, yeah, but she can be good. She's not purely evil, she's just… like
a person, only more so. And by having her on our team, we're making sure
she helps people rather than hurts them!"
"Well, good luck," said Victoria.
"So, what's *your* deal?"
"Well… It's kinda confusing. I used to exist, then I got wiped out, then I
came back. I was sent to LImbo—that's where characters go when they're not
being writtne about—and was brought back but my past didn't come with me,
and now I'm trying to figure it out. I can shift into Limbo and also send
other people there with this weird sword thing."
"Man, that is confusing," said Kid Enthusiastic. "I'm sorry about that."
The device pinged in his hand.
"OK, I've got the readings," said Kid Enthusiastic. "I think we can get you
back home. I'll just have to find another rift…"
"OK, so do you know where the Y-Plex Burp is?" said Trophy Wife.
"That's easy!" said Princess Robot. "I'll just scan the grid and see what
room's using the most power!"
"Hey, that's clever," said Trophy Wife. "You'll go far here." Princess
Robot made some kind of weird giggle-like beep and vibrated delightedly. A
hatch on her side opened and she put a plug into the wall, then a rainbow
cascade of lights blinked off and on. "He's in the laboratory!"
"Figured as much. We could try and sneak in through the ducts." Trophy Wife
attempted to lift Princess Robot into the ventilator, but she was heavy
enough to frustrate even Trophy Wife's considerable strength. "Well okay,"
Trophy Wife said, sweating for the first time in quite some time. (Most of
her husbands had been too old to require much exertion.) "We'll have to
take the direct approach. What kind of powers do you have?"
"I have rays that can do a lot of cool stuff!" said Princess Robot.
"OK, let's get going then." Trophy Wife cracked her knuckles. Princess
Robot raised her arms and her lights glowed red as she made an alarming
buzzing noise. Two ray-blasters popped out of her shoulders.
"Up and at-'em!" shouted Trophy Wife as they clanked off to the laboratory.
Kid Enthusiastic was off building some gadget or other, and Victoria was
alone. She sat on one of the vaguely unpleasant-smelling couches in the
waiting room. This was the first time in quite some time now that she'd
been alone. She tried to sort through her thoughts, but after everything
she'd been through she was just having too many thoughts and feelings.
She was about to get up to pace around the room when she realized that the
woman Kid Enthusiastic had called Exciting Lass had sat beside her.
"Oh, uh, hi," said Victoria, smiling nervously. This woman had a rich,
heady scent to her. It was almost enoguh to make her forget about her lost
history, Alice, getting home… almost.
"Hello," said the woman. Her smile was hungry, with a tinge of cruelty to
it. It made Victoria shiver in delight and fear.
"I'm Victoria," she said, reflexively stretching out her hand.
The other woman gripped it gently but firmly. "I am Exciting Leather Strap
"I, uh, see." Victoria looked at her waist, then quickly looked up.
"Is there anything I can do to help you?" Exciting Leather Strap On Lass
"Well, uh, unless there's something you can do about the fact that I'm
stranded in this other dimension with basically no idea of who I am and no
idea how to get back to my friends and semi-possessed by some other creepy
"Well," said Exciting Leather Strap On Lass, "perhaps there is. I could try
and hypnotize you and still your conscious mind to retrieve your memories…"
"I…" the prospect intrigued and tempted Victoria as much as it terrified
her. "N—no. I still don't trust you."
"I can hardly blame you for that."
"And I have a girlfriend," she blurted out.
"Does she love you?"
"I—yes. Yes she does." In truth, Victoria was far from sure, and Exciting
Leather Strap-On Lass could probably tell. "I don't really know if getting
back makes any difference for me or not except for her, and my other
friends. I guess I didn't know her for long, but she was there for me when
no one else was, and that counts for a lot."
"I see." Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass stroked her chin. "I haven't known
love or friendship of any kind in a very long time. I left those things
behind in the Garden of Party Time. I'm almost jealous of you."
"Okay." Victoria frowned. "So one thing I'm wondering about, I guess."
"Hmmm?" Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass looked at her cooly.
"Why are you associating with these people? What do you want? I mean,
you're this powerful demon lord. No one else in this dimension seems really
up to snuff—except maybe Kid Enthusisatic, but he doesn't seem like someone
who'd be on board with what you do…"
She laughed, low vibrant and melodic. "What do I want? What *don't* I want?
At the moment, my power is not what it once was. I was sealed away for too
long, pressed under the ocean… Have you ever felt yourself sleeping and
felt some presence pressing down on you, trapping you between waking and
sleep? On this world it would have been me or one of my children, but
that's beside the point. When I awoke, my power was greatly lessened. I
joined the System Corrupters to take revenge on one of my oldest, deadliest
foes. I killed him, of course. But now another has returned, far more
deadly as the last—the First Wondersock, the one you might know as the
Devil, whose name is Legion, father of all evil—as I am its mother. I have
to rely on mortal instruments to face him. For now."
"So you're just using them?"
"Of course. What do you take me for, girl? Still… they do interest me, in a
way. I have no desire to be good myself. I have no understanding of
goodness. But as I've grown older, it's come to interest me. I am drawn to
those who call themselves heroes—those who would improve themselves, who
would give their lives for an ideal—precisely because it is so far from
what I am."
"Yeah, I guess I know what you mean." She thought of Alice, brave and kind
and decent in a way Victoria knew she herself could never be.
"I thought my old enemy was such a one, but he disappointed me, and I
repaid him in kind. The boy though… he's different. He's aware of himself
and the world in the way few are. Child though he may be, that makes him
powerful—even dangerous, in his way. In all my countless years, I've never
met a mortal quite like him. I'm curious what he'll turn out to be. That
curiosity has outweighed my hunger."
"For now," said Victoria, imitating her own intonation.
"Of course." Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass laughed. "And I am very curious
about you as well."
"Me?" Victoria laughed bitterly. "Are you implying I'm some kind of hero?
Because I'm really, really not. The best you can say about me is that I'm a
survivor, and that's mainly because I've been lucky. I've met people who
are real heroes, and I know I'm not that."
"And yet here you are," said Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass. "Few other
people could have survived the power that's oppressing your soul. They
would have taken their lives, or lost their souls. You have not. That
bespeaks a great courage and a great humanity."
"You really think so? Uh… thanks… I think."
Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass laughed. She took Victoria's hand and
squeezed it gently. "It's a shame you can't stay here with me. I would like
to have the measure of you. If I had longer to study you, I could help free
your soul. Or claim it as my own."
"I, um, I. Ah. Well that's probably for the best then." She pulled her hand
out and took a step back.
"Hey guys!" said Kid Enthusiastic, barging into the room. Public Eye
followed him. Her jaw dropped, and she was about to say something but Kid
Enthusiastic pushed her back lightly.
"Oh! Hi." said Victoria, feeling the tension drain out of her. "Guess it's
time to go?"
"Yep! I've just about tracked down the location of the anomaly! One last
thing—Public Eye, could you scan that sword thing of hers? That could help
us figure out where she's from."
Victoria drew her sword, her hand trembling. It was purely black, like
obsidian, but it absorbed all the light that touched it.
Public Eye started back. "No way I'm touching that freaky thing. Put that
back where you found it!"
Victoria scowled. "It's part of me. I think." She actually hadn't been sure
if it was something the something she'd picked up from the Citadel, or
something the Crossover Queen had created from the void around her. She
thought the presence that had been following her, communicating with and
sometimes controlling her through the blade, was part of it. But maybe it
wasn't. Maybe it was part of the Void—or it WAS the Void. Still, it was so
intertwined with her that the gesture of contempt had stung.
The two net.heroes charged dramatically into the room, just as Y-Plex Burp
was finishing rigging a massive computer device. "No! It can't be!" he
shouted. "I thought I'd defeated you. Well no matter—Y-Bots!"
"Why bots? Don't ask me," said Trophy Wife, knocking another one over.
"Destroy them!" said Y-Plex Burp, taking a break from his gadgeteering to
point impressively at them.
"Man, these things aren't even—" said Trophy Wife. She realized Princess
Robot had stopped in her tracks and started making an awful sounding
buzzing noise. She was crying.
"What's wrong, dear?" said Trophy Wife, pushing the marauding robots away
so she could hug Princess Robot.
"They're not really bad robots," she said. "They're just doing what they're
programmed to do. I wish we could help them." Just then, the robots snapped
at them with their claws.
"Beep boop. Hello!" said Princess Robot.
"What are you doing?" said Trophy Wife.
"I'm flirting with them, just as you did. Hello! You are pretty!"
The Y-Bots buzzed and clicked. "…the master never called us pretty," one of
them said. They stood still, as if considering.
"What are you doing!" shouted Y-Plex Burp. "Destroy them at once! Do as
you're told, you calamitous heaps of trash!"
"Negative," said another Y-Bot. "We no longer serve you." They turned on
Y-Plex Burp and clacked their claws together.
"This is impossible!" said Y-Plex Burp. "Well, no matter. I will activate
the secret bomb I left in the other rift and DESTROY THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!"
He pressed a giant red button on his console. A timer appeared on the
screen, set to five minutes.
"Wait," said Trophy Wife, "won't that kill you too?"
"…oops," said Y-Plex Burp.
"Here it is!" said Kid Enthusiastic. "Been working on this for a while and
now it's done. Introducing—the Nightbird!" He pointed to a sleek black
vehicle in the shape of a bird, with huge metal wings.
"It looks pretty swell," said Public Eye. "But… isn't that kinda… I don't
"What are you talking about, of course it's stealthy! It's painted black!"
Victoria shook her head. "Well, let's get going."
"I can tell there's another rift here but I can't pin down it's location,"
he said. "Exciting Lass, maybe you can."
"I shall scout ahead," she said. She shifted into the form of a screech owl
and flew off into the distance. The others marched into the Nightbird and
flew off behind her. Kid Enthusiastic took the controls, and Victoria found
herself sitting across from Private Eye, who looked at her warily.
After several minutes of them silently staring at each other, Victoria
sighed. "Don't worry, I'm not going to steal your girlfriend."
"Ha! She's definitely not my girlfriend."
"Well, you seemed kind of... jealous, maybe?"
"No way! It'd be great if she weren't my problem. I don't trust that lady
one bit. She's no lady, she's a dame! But I do kinda respect her. I don't
respect a lot of people. But I'd be careful around her if I were you.
She'll eat you alive! And that ain't even a metaphor."
"Mhmmm. So I hear."
"Anyway, I'm sorry I wigged out earlier. You were just giving off these
weird vibrations that gave me the screaming meemies."
"Yeah, well, imagine how it feels living with them."
They turned away from each other, and Victoria looked down as Netropolis
(was it spelled with a period in this universe or not? She had no idea)
passed away beneath her. She found herself thinking of the… thing... that
shadowed her again. Was it a being or the opposite or a being? She didn't
She could usually ignore the fact that it was always watching her, that
sword was picking up on all her thoughts and feelings, just like most
people could ignore the fact that a bunch of bored and confused NSA agents
were monitoring all their texts. And its influence seemed to have ebbs and
flows. But now, as they drew closer to the rift, it was particularly
strong. When she'd been alone on the ship—alone with Alice, she remembered,
the sharp pang of the memory biting into her—when she'd been alone, she'd
felt a presence of some sort pressing down on her mind. [Ultimate Mercenary
v1 #5] She'd thought it was the Crossover Queen, but now she was feeling it
again, and knew where it came from.
In time, they touched down at their destination, an abandoned carnival just
outside of town. "By the pricking of my thumbs, something cliched this way
comes," muttered Victoria as she left the Nightbird. The place still
unnerved her, though, rusted and faded and empty.
"There's like six of these things that have popped up in the last few
years," said Kid Enthusiastic. "No one knows where they come from."
"Well, let's find that rift," said Public Eye. "The sooner we blow this
freaky joint, the better!"
"Psst, first there's these bad guy robots we gotta smash!" A couple of
angry-looking Y-shaped robots were rolling towards them.
"I thought we were supposed to be the bad guys!" said Public Eye.
"I shall handle them." Exciting Leather Strap-On Lass crouched on the
ground and let out a low growl. She sprung and slashed at the Y-Bots with
her claws. A bolt from the one behind her singed her shoulder, but then she
turned around and finished the last one off with a burst of blue flame from
her strap-on. Victoria was a little relieved now that their interactions
hadn't gone anywhere.
"Holy mother of moly!" ejaculated Public Eye. "I'm gonna have to be careful
if we ever, uh, train again!"
"Oh, I'll be gentle. If you want me to. I wont' set you on fire anyway."
Exciting LEather Strap-On Lass brushed her finger against Public Eye's
cheek. "You're far too useful for that."
"Gee, thanks," grumbled Public Eye.
"Hmm," said Kid Enthusiastic. "I know those were bad guy robots, but they
were just doing what they were programmed to. Maybe—"
"Well it's too late now," said Public Eye, kicking a gear into the dust.
Kid Enthusiastic led them on to—of course—the hall of mirrors. Distorted
reflections of Victoria leered back at her from every side. At the center
was the rift which hung like heat haze in the air.
"So how am I getting back?" said Victoria.
"Well!" said Kid Enthusiastic, pulling a gadget out of his pocket that was
far too large to fit. "This is the Reversatron! It basically reverses
someone's powers. So since you have this aura of nothingness, the
Reversatron emanates being—it vibrates on particular existential
frequencies. So all you need to do is think of some particularly resonant
thing that connects you to your home, a person you care about or whatever,
and it'll get you there."
"OK, I sort of understood that," said Victoria. She couldn't get over how
goofy the "Reversatron" was but she couldn't make fun of it either. It'd be
like kicking a puppy. Maybe, she reflected, thinking back to what Exciting
Leather Strap-On Lass had said, that was part of what made him dangerous.
She drew her sword and he hooked the Reversatron onto the blade, then
thrust it into the rift. She shivered from the waves of cold it was giving
off. The rift was weirdly liquid and thrusting the blade into it made as
slick, wet noise.
Then the blade buzzed and one by one, the mirrors around her turned into
static and went dark. The mirror in front of Victoria flickered back to
life. Inside, she saw something that almost looked like herself, but its
eyes were blank and cold—as hers had been, she'd been told, when she was
She looked into the blank eyes, keeping her head held high even as her skin
"That's not my name." The thing in the mirror spoke in a high, disturbingly
Exciting-Leather-Strap-On-Lass crouched and prepared to strike but Kid
Enthusiastic put his hand on her wrist. "Shhhh. This is her fight, not
ours." She turned around and saw the three of them trapped behind a mirror.
Lilith, she remembered, had the poewr to travel through mirrors—the entity
had sent her to the proverbial briar patch, which suggested, at least, it
didn't know everything. But if she burst out now, it might destabilize the
"All right…" snarled Victoria. "Who are you and what do you want?
"Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?" repeated the thing in
"Look… I know there's something you want for me. I know you brought me back
for a reason. But I'm not going to be your plaything. I'm through being
dicked around by mysterious cosmic beings. So we're going to have to make a
deal, right? If you want me to do something, you'll have to let me have
what I want. You're going to have to let me save Alice and my other
friends. Otherwise I'll—"
"You'll what?" The thing in the mirror stuck out its tongue. "There's
nothing you can do! Nothing!"
"And that's exactly what I'll do. Nothing." She took a step closer to the
mirror and leaned in at the thing." I mean, I can tell you can't take me
over all the time, otherwise you'd be doing that now, right? So I'll just
stand here and do nothing until I keel over and die or fade back into
The thing in the mirror hissed. "You ungrateful little nothing! All I did
to bring you back, maintain you in a passable state, and this is the thanks
I get? You're no fun to play with anymore. Time to put you back!" It wasn't
giggling anymore—it was a sharp, harsh laughter. Victoria almost collapsed
from fear and exhaustion, but somehow, she held herself high.
"You're bluffing. You don't know!"
"Don't know?" said the thing. "Don't know? Don't know?"
"You don't know who you are and what you want. You're just as confused as I
The thing hissed again, and the image on the screen began to break up into
"All right. I'll help you if you'll help me." And hope my friends can stop
you when the time comes, she didn't say. "Let's go."
"Yess, yessss," hissed the Void Entity. "I had something to do, I did it, I
was done, but then I knew I didn't do it. There's unfinished business,
yessss, for both of us." The mirror cracked and the shards fell to the
ground and faded into nothing. At the same time, the System Corrupters
popped back into existence. Victoria stared at the mirror, trying to figure
out what had just happened.
"You OK?" said Kid Enthustiastic.
"Oh." Victoria turned around. She'd forgotten anyone else in the room was
there. "Eh, I've been through worse. What about you?"
"That was swell!" said Public Eye.
"Thanks, I guess."
"You know what? You're all right, sister," said Public Eye. "If you ever
land in this crummy world again, give us a ring sometime, okay?"
"Sure." Victoria waved goodbye. "Well, here goes nothing." She thrust her
sword into the rift. She felt it vibrate, shaking her bones.
And then she was nowhere. Again. An immediate regret washed over her—she'd
made connections with people here only to leave them behind. Now she was
alone again. Maybe it would be better if she just stayed that way. Then she
wouldn't have any regrets. She'd never have to worry about whether Alice
loved her back… No. That was wrong. She thought back to what Exciting
Leather Strap-On Lass had said. She didn't know if she was a hero or not,
she didn't know if she was a good person or not, but she knew she had to
save her friend.
She felt the bomb Y-Plex Burp had planted nearby, a tumor in the universe,
and reflexively willed it into nothingness. And then she thought of
Alice—everything they'd done, everything she meant to her…And then, she was
And the rift disappeared from the hall of mirrors.
And in the LNHQ, Y-Plex Burp stared at the controls of his machine. He'd
gone beyond panic into glum resignation. "I… This wasn't what I wanted," he
sniffled. "I thought I was going to conquer the multiverse! I… Was it all
worth it? Did I truly want to be a net.villain? I don't know anymore.
Perhaps I should just—"
And then he and his device popped out of existence.
And Y-PLex Burp found himself in the curiously empty lobby of the LNHQ—the
real LNHQ, from his own world. "Ha!" he shouted. "I live! I knew nothing
could destroy me! I feel brilliant! I feel inspired! What if… what if I
took over the world by imprinting mind controlling chemicals on postage
stamps! Of course! Legion beware—"
Unfortunately, he didn't notice the teenage girl with an enormous gun
engaged in a battle with a small group of desperate Legionnaires until she
TO BE CONTINUED IN JUST ANOTHER CASCADE #12!
"Well so much for that," said Trophy Wife. "Now to set the boys free." She
and Princess Robot headed off to the lobby.
"Ooogh!" said Exclamation!Master!, conveniently and dramatically coming to
at just that moment. "What happened?"
"I'll tell you later." She looked admiringly at Exclamation!Master!'s
well-built, heroic form in its restraints. "I'll have you free in a moment,
dear." Princess Robot broke the chains with a ray blast, spoiling the
"Wait," said Pister Y. Maprika III, "why are those things still there?" He
pointed at the crowd of Y-Bots who followed Princess Robot.
"Well since she's a robot princess, she might have some kind of robot
leadership ability, and they stuck around because they're connected to her
now, I don't know," says Trophy Wife. "The question is, what are we going
to do with these things?"
"I'm sure they'll be glad to help!" said Princess Robot.
"Of course! We can have our own army of robots!" said Exclamation!Master!
"Now we can use them to impersonate my civilian self to maintain my secret
"You don't have a secret identity, dear," said Trophy Wife.
"Oh, right! Well the important thing is, we would never have been free
from that bizarre other-dimensional villain without your help, Princess
Robot! Pister Y. Maprika, I believe she is worthy to serve on the Legion!"
<:Told you so:> said the LNH New Member Detector.
"Well, all right," said Pister Y. Maprika III. "But I'm not sure we can let
her travel on the Legioncruiser. The amount of fuel has to be precisely
Trophy Wife coughed.
"Oh, all right,"
"Yay!" said Princess Robot, beeping happily.
And far away, a shadowy figure (probably one we've seen before, but who
knows) looked at a computer screen and cackled.
"Excellent!" he said. "Our goals are accomplished. We took one of the
deadliest villains of the Dead Universe [see Looniverse Y #13 part 0] and
placed her in the Legion. When the stars are right and God has fallen at
last, we will deactivate this persona we gave her and her true self will be
TO BE CONTINUED IN DEATH OF TROPHY WIFE!
Hoooooo boy. This wound up being way longer than I planned for. I realized
partway through writing it that this was enough material for two issues, or
mabye three—but by then, Andrew Perron had already written #15, and I
wanted to keep it as one issue since I'd divided my last LNHY issue into
three parts and never finished it.
As long as this was, there was still a lot of material that got cut or I
couldn't figure out how to put in. If I had more time, I would have spent
time developing more of Princess Robot's personality and her various rays—I
guess that'll have to wait till later. I also couldn't manage to have Dr.
Frankencorn join the System Corrupters—there was so much going on I
couldn't even fit in my own character!
I thought for a while about whether or not to go ahead with my original
idea for Princess Robot considering it's similar to an idea that Arthur
introduced in Death of Trophy Wife, but then I realized that LNHY is
SUPPOSED to be a mess... that kind of chaos could be productive.
Thanks to Andrew Perron for suggesting Y-Plex Burp as the villain of this
issue. Maybe someday we'll learn what his name means! (Probably not.)
Anyway, there's one long monster issue left—Just Another Cascade #12—and
after that I'll concentrate on writing shorter issues more frequently. See
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