LNH: Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade That Will Probably Never Have an Ending #13: Cosmic Plot Device Caper Omega: "The Ends of Every Thing" (Part B)

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Sun May 31 20:49:22 PDT 2015

    On the edge of internewsgroup space it loomed, like a great predatory bird
using the barriers between worlds as a roost. The Crossover Citadel had
received a great flow of crossover energy from the rifts, and now it was being
processed, reimagined, consecrated to the greater glory of the Crossover Queen
and Usenet.

    The energies were everywhere, and a little more was not noticed, especially
when it came along one of the official transport channels, piggybacking its
way along the Crossover Queen's holographic signal. There was a small moment
of confusion among the Queen's servants as the energy output of the signal
flared, then went back down to nominal levels; it was noted in the log and
saved for more imaginative minds, lest some enterprising spirit find
themselves cut down for their unwarranted initiative.

    The signal bounced through the internal transport system in milliseconds,
wiping records of its own passage, until it bounced back on itself deep within
the complex and resolved into five individuals - the LNH3k!

    Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats straightened. "Good job, Irony Mantis,"
she said. "Now, Cheesecake Lass - why did you pull us out of the battle? I
trust your judgment, but it's time for the facts."

    "I remember this place, Cap. I can feel it in curdling in the pit of my
belly." She raised one of her Cosmic Cheesecake Bands, indicator lights
flashing wildly. "This is where Cheesecake-Eater Lad--" She looked away. "This
is where my father died."

    The LNH3k gasped as one, except for Punctual Death Lad, who simply flipped
open his pocketwatch and frowned. "I see," he said, putting it away. "Most

    "I looked into it, researched until I couldn't read any more," Cheesecake
Lass admitted. "During the Beigewar, the Crossover Queen had a net.hero
trapped, using them to power a massive Plot Device. A strike team was sent to
release them, and they succeeded, but..." She shook her head and looked up.
"It was one of the biggest victories we had, before the Devastator. The Cosmic
Cheesecake Bands homed in on the signal of the cheesy plot contrivance.
They're still set to that frequency."

    "Oh man, that makes sense!" said Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior. "That's
how she showed up at the exact right moment to take control of everything last

    "If we freed him in this timeframe, her efficiency would be highly
degraded," noted Irony Mantis.

    "And we could maybe pull some crumb of accomplishment out of this mess,"
snarked Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats. "Okay, CL - which way?"

    "Down here..." They crept along the labyrinthine corridors. The soft limbo-
light reflected off the dimensional barriers, shining through them in
elaborate patterns like the surface of the ocean. They hid from the winged
gorillas that wandered, aimlessly, through the maze, crossing from one area to
the next without ever finding what they were looking for.

    Finally, they came to a great round door set in the wall, with heavy-duty
auto-locks and heavy-duty conductor tubes running out from it. It looked
impregnable, but Punctual Death Lad walked up to the access panel and examined
it carefully. Stroking his chin, he examined his watch. "Hmmmm, yes...I think
it's just about time for this capacitor to wear out."

    He closed the watch with a snap, and a loud pop erupted from the panel,
smoke streaming out; the door slid back a couple feet, then froze, and they
all slipped through the gap. The room within was dominated by a giant white
chess king, seething from within, full of energies barely contained.

    "A king for a queen," murmured Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats. She put
her hand on it and looked at Cheesecake Lass. "How do we free them?"

    "Stand back..." CL pointed her Cosmic Cheesecake Bands at the structure,
charging up with a high-pitched whine. But before she could loose the energy,
there was horrendous scraping sound behind them. The LNH3k spun as one to see
a great armored form pushing the door open wide - the one the Crossover Queen
had called the Ultimate Hero!

    "Legion, LAUNCH!" shouted Captain PROoH, and they swung into action.
Cheesecake Lass shot her dairy force into his joints. Irony Mantis raised a
hand and shot a millisecond pulse of plasmic heat. Punctual Death Lad
inscribed a circle with his fingers, forming a clock face that hovered before

    A wave of *presence* burst from the Ultimate Hero's body, and all four fell
back. The bulky form stepped forward, and an enormous sword swung into his

    Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior hopped from one foot to the other, pulling
his hair and turning in circles. "No, no, this is baaaad! There's too much
action and not enough jokes! At this rate, the people who come to LNH stories
for silly random fun are gonna plotz!" He ran up to the giant chess king! "I
gotta do something! KID ENTHUSIASTIC!"

    As he shouted out the name, the air-- no, the *story* around him shimmered
and warped. The very feel reconfigured, going from cosmic superhero action to
goofy cartoonishness. The LNH3k stretched and squashed into big-headed chibi
versions of themselves, and the Ultimate Hero was suddenly wearing a bucket on
his head. He fell back, confused, little blue question marks appearing in

    Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior pulled out a purple crayon and drew a
rectangle on the king, adding a circle halfway down the side. He turned the
knob, opened the door, and pulled out a person. Then the door slammed closed
and the genre field collapsed, restoring everything to... relative
seriousness, at least.

    In Kid EDJ's arms was an emaciated man, white-haired and scraggly-bearded.
He wore a faded red jumpsuit, with a few metal spikes dotting it haphazardly,
dark spots on the suit where many more should be. Power crackled from his
eyes, but he was on hands and knees, unable to hold himself up.

    The Ultimate Hero shook himself out and took another step forward, swinging
his sword. Cheesecake Lass dodged and rolled, ending up in a crouch next to
the two of them. "You better be worth it, buster." She pulled a sparkling
shard out of her glove. "Time to get inspired! Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2
#50!" She stabbed it into his chest.

    The man howled. The power leaking from his body became a torrent of
blinding light. He rose, his body filling out, becoming muscular in an early
'90s way, spikes reforming on his suit. The light washed over the LNH3k'rs,
and Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior only had time to say "Cooooool..." before
they disappeared.

    The Ultimate Hero looked at the man. The man looked at the Ultimate Hero.
They shared a nod of respect, and then the man looked out, through the walls
of the Citadel, through the myraid byways of spacetime, all the way to the

    "THE... PLOT... THICKENS!!!"

    And he was gone.


    "Yes," said the Time Crapper to Net.Access, as they floated in space before
the great shining chunk of story. "This is it - the Ending of the Cosmic Plot
Device Caper."

    "But the Cosmic Plot Device Caper *never* ended!" Net.Access protested. "It
just kind of trailed off."

    "Yet this is the ending that could have been - the One True Ending, a
conclusion that would have wrapped everything up perfectly, with no loose
ends. Look, back along our path, through the twistings of Hypertext Time, into
the past. From here, you can see the point in continuity where it should fit,
just before Beige Noon."

    Net.Access squinted her transtemporal sensors. "I can see the hole, but
there are things stretched across that space--" The lightcones of people,
events, bundles of emotional investment-- "Other stories!"

    "Indeed. But were you to push it in there, they would be overwritten by the

    "...so, is that what you want me to do? Toss it in, fill the hole?" She
could, too. Even if she weren't in an enormously powerful form right now, the
center of existence was only stable if you were right on top of it. A slight
nudge in the right direction, and the Ending would go careening into place.
And there was a part of her that longed to read it, to finally have a
resolution-- but... "It's at the center. Every LNH story assumes that it was
never written, that it's an unresolved possibility... what happens to the LNH
if we resolve it?"

    "An excellent question." The Time Crapper took her hands off the timeship's
console. "Which I cannot tell you the answer to." She looked around, found a
complicated, softly-beeping piece of machinery that was held together by
rubber bands, and sat down on it.

    "What, *now* you're out of answers, and instructions, and exposition?"
Net.Access flailed inwardly, knocking over the timeship's bookshelves and
emptying the swimming pool.

    "Indeed. As of now, I am simply an interested observer; you must make the

    "Uuuuuugh. Muckety-muck cosmic weirdos putting the fate of all existence on
my shoulders, there ought to be a law... or at least some kind of helpline..."
There was an idea. Help. Advice. From who?

    The great Kube was still buzzing with rift energy. Maybe she could reach in
and pull out someone who could help. She'd have to be careful, so as not to
screw with causality, but...

    Carefully, she extended a feeler of force into a handy rift, taking a
rummage around the cosmic junk drawer. Let's see, who was she looking for?
Someone who could tell her about... the future.

    She reached back, unfolding, and carefully deposited a handful of timelines
in her console room. The blue-green riftlight faded away, and there stood
Continuity's Champion, Occultism Lord, Kid Remender, and Irony Monger - the
Saviors of the Net!

    "Where...?" They looked around, confused, until Continuity's Champion
spotted one of the monitors and saw the One True Ending of the Cosmic Plot
Device Caper. "Look! They've found the Ending!" "But how!?" "I wanna see!"

    "Guys," said Net.Access, voice echoing through the console room. "Tell me
about this thing. Tell me about the future, and what happens."

    Continuity's Champion glanced around; he looked at the Time Crapper, who
shrugged. He shrugged back and addressed the air. "Professor Stomper figured
out that the rifts were caused by unfinished stories. His plan was to find the
Ending and finish the very first story - create a unified canon that couldn't
be torn apart by the rifts. But we could never find it."

    "Manga Girl..." Kid Remender's voice caught, and he looked away. "She
thought she saw it, deep in the shattered remnants of rec.arts.anime.creative,
beyond the edge of the Galaxy Cauldron. Penultimate Savior told her to go for
it, but I-- she shouldn't have-- shouldn't have taken the risk..." He turned
away, gripping the railing around the central platform.

    Occultism Lord shook his head. "In the end, we could not find it, nor any
solution. We held the rifts closed with retcoetheric energy long enough to
evacuate most of the population, but t'was a stopgap. In the end, the sheer
depth of unrealized storytelling potential swallowed our world whole."

    Irony Monger stepped forward. "If the Ending is placed in the proper
position, I anticipate a 99.97% chance of full closure of the rifts without

    It seemed that they were all in agreement, then. Net.Access looked towards
the Ending. Still... it felt unfair to tie something that had infinities
growing out of it down to one time and place. But what else could she do?

    With careful beams of force, she grasped the Ending. Had to calculate its
path precisely...

    Suddenly, she felt it - a disturbance in the Kube. Lines of rift energy
crackled over its surface, and a coruscating spear of riftlight shot from its
corners into the timeship's bubble of stabilized existence, right through
Net.Access's humanoid form (which recoiled in surprise) and into the console r
oom. A burst of blue-green light revealed two forms - Foreshadowing Lad and
Non-Judgmental Agnostic!

    Foreshadowing Lad stumbled to his feet, head wobbling back and forth as he
tried to get his bearings. "Er... hi."

    "Um, hello," said Net.Access, frantically reinforcing her shields.

    "Where did you come from, young man, young lady?" said Occultism Lord,
helping Non-Judgmental Agnostic to her feet.

    "Well, we jumped through a rift, because... it seemed like a good idea? Um,
I think we need to be here? And... tell... you... something... N-JA, can you
go first?" FL was blushing beet red.

    "Oh, sure! But I have no idea what to say!"

    The Saviors and Net.Access all groaned. "Didn't you have some kind of
cosmic warning to give the LNH when you came back in time?" said Kid Remender,

    "Well, yeah! But time travel's a common effect of memory loss!" Non-
Judgmental Agnostic paused. "Wait, I mean..."

    Continuity's Champion sighed. "Okay, let's get back to putting the Ending
in place..."

    N-JA's ears perked up. "Wait, that's it! I was supposed to tell you not to
put the One True Ending of the Cosmic Plot Device Caper back into continuity."

    "SERIOUSLY!?" The Saviors all threw their arms up in the air; Net.Access
noticed that Irony Monger was clearly just doing it because everyone else was,
which struck her as adorable in a naive-robot sort of way.

    "Yeah, I remember now! When the rifts started showing up in our world, the
post-Everyone Loses an Eye and Has To Wear an Eye Patch From Now On Cry.Sig
legacy character version of Dr. Turn On-Tune In-Drop Out took the Fascinating
Foliage of Foresight and explored what would happen if we found and restored
the Ending. According to his hypothetrip, it would stop the rifts, but it
would also cut down the flow of inspirations. The Writers wouldn't be starting
stories without finishing them - they wouldn't be starting stories at all!"

    "Hrm..." said Continuity's Champion, crossing his arms. "Not to throw shade
on your teammate, but I'm not sure I trust the veracity of this... 'foliage',
you said?"

    "So," said Net.Access distractingly, "what did your Legion do to try and
stop the rifts?"

    "We all started writing our own stories!" said Non-Judgmental Agnostic. "I
mean, most of us weren't very good at it, but that's not really what the LNH
is about, you know? We just made stuff and had fun doing it! And the rifts
didn't bother us again - well, not until things started getting bad over in
Looniverse-A. Which is when they sent me over."

    "That is a very appropriate thematic link," said Occultism Lord, "but it
does not sound like it would solve the long-term problem of the rifts
recurring. We need something rather more in-character, I'm afraid."

    "But if Dr. TO-TI-DO is right, this solution may be even worse..."
Net.Access buzzed in worry. Getting advice on her cosmic conundrum had just
made things more complicated. Was there anyone else she could ask?
"Foreshadowing Lad, what do you think?"

    "Huh?" FL looked up. "Oh, sorry. My powers have been giving me so many
vague hints and ominous forebodings that I can't think straight."

    "A vague hint is better than nothing, I guess," said Net.Access. "What's at
the top of your mind riiiiiiight... *now*?"

    "The past is beneath. The flagbearer will return with your standard and
spread the word to all who can hear." He shrugged. "It's all like that. I
can't make heads or tails of it."

    The Time Crapper, who had just been quietly listening to all of this,
raised her head. Standing, she turned and examined the piece of machinery she
had been sitting on. "While I cannot give you any answers, I would like to ask
you one question more."

    Net.Access sighed deeply. "Fine. It's not like this can get any more

    "I dunno!" said Non-Judgmental Agnostic. "This *is* the LNH!"

    "...go ahead anyway," she said.

    Time Crapper knelt down, fiddling with the machinery. "When the device was
used to catalyze the Omnilooniverse back into existence... did you happen to
see Pliable Lad afterwards?"

    Net.Access paused. "...oh my god."

    The Saviors of the Net winced. "Harsh realm," said Kid Remender, shaking
his head.

    The machinery sprang open, and Pliable Lad's stretched-out form sprung out,
falling to the floor in twisty coils. His head raised, wobbly, eyes spinning
in opposite directions. "Did we make it?"

    Net.Access chuckled awkwardly. "Um... yeah. The universe is mostly okay,
but we're working on another problem now."

    "Oh, well, what's the--" Pli tried to stand up and fell over, kind of a
noodly mess. Non-Judgmental Agnostic and Foreshadowing Lad ran over to help
him up. Irony Monger pulled out a wireframe dummy, and Pli used it to
straighten himself out, slowly unstretching. "What's, uh, the trouble?"

     As he unwound, Net.Access explained the situation with the Kube and the
Ending. Pliable Lad listened, absorbing the details of the ridiculously
convoluted plot.

    "You know," he said, hopping away from the frame and dusting himself off,
"Masterplan Lad closed one of the rifts earlier."

    Net.Access perked up. That guy knew cosmic! "Really?"

    "That's right!" said Non-Judgmental Agnostic. "He said that stories that
finished inspired people to finish their stories. Then he dropped a piece of
Beige Midnight into the rifts."

    "..." Net.Access stared at the Ending. No, it couldn't be that easy. "Irony
Monger... if I fed you the telemetry data from the rifts, would you be able to
calculate the optimal path for a stream of inspiration particles to fully
optimize their effect on the rifts?"

    "It would involve massive simulations of barely-studied interactions in
complex, higher-dimensional space." Irony Monger clicked his heels and bowed.
"So, yes."

    "You're saying we should throw the Ending *into* the rifts!?" sputtered
Continuity's Champion. "That would-- would sacrifice the idea of a unified
canon forever!"

    Net.Access opened her eyes, her sensors, focusing deep within the rifts and
their complex internal structure, letting the stream of data flow through her
without dipping her human consciousness into the torrent of information. "So
why should today be any different?"

    "Young lady," said CC, crossing his arms, "this is important. Stories
depend upon one another. That's why we've got this problem in the first
place - the Writers need to finish what they start, because everyone else's
stuff depends on theirs!"

    "Hey." Kid Remender punched CC lightly on the shoulder, bro-ishly. "Look,
the lady's right. Canon 'n continuity, they're just, like, things..."

    "Storytelling tools," Occultism Lord supplied helpfully.

    "Right, that. I gotta admit, I've gotten way too wrapped up in that stuff
before. But the LNH doesn't need that. The LNH is like... an idea. Like a
really, really good idea. And the idea can go on without havin' to depend on
any one story! Even the very first one." Exhausted from the effort of being
vaguely inspirational, Kid Remender flopped in one of the timeship's chairs.

    Pliable Lad, Non-Judgmental Agnostic and Foreshadowing Lad applauded. "Good
speech!" said Pliable Lad.

    Continuity's Champion sighed, crossed his arms. "Well," he admitted. "At
this point, all the choices seem like bad ones... it *could* be that this is
the least bad."

    "That's the spirit!" said Non-Judgmental Agnostic, handing CC a box of
popcorn. He sighed again and sat down to watch.

    Irony Monger breedly-beeped. "Calculations complete," he said. "Displaying
path." A complicated three-dimensional representation of an eleven-dimensional
path appeared in midair.

    Net.Access carefully traced the lines. "It looks like it heads back in time
to when rec.arts.comics.creative was about to be created," she said.

    "A sensible path," said Occultism Lord. "T'would spread the inspiration to
each and every world of RACC, past and future."

    "The path terminates near the end of the Omaha Project," said Irony Monger,
pointing to a complicated whorl of continuity. "But it would shed mass as it
shed inspirations. There would not be quite enough left to finish the

    "It's only a little more mass, tho," said Net.Access. "Really, only about
the weight of one person..."

    Everyone stopped, and turned, and looked at Pliable Lad.

    "...oh, I get it!" said Foreshadowing Lad.

    Pliable Lad looked just slightly uncertain. "And this'll get me home,

    Continuity's Champion swallowed and said, "It should put you right back
where you left off in Pliable Lad Annual #1." [ Hey, that's my job - Footnote
Girl, giving a Cyborc a wedgie and pretending a Dire Moa did it ] "The forces
of continuity should adjust it so that the previous story lines up."

    "Should, huh." Pliable Lad shook his head and grinned. "Well, it won't be
my first impromptu interdimensional journey. Let's do it!"

    Shortly, Non-Judgmental Agnostic had rustled up a spacesuit, the 1950s kind
with a fishbowl for a helmet. Pli got suited up and ready for his cosmic

    "I'll guide you into the rift by using pressor beams on the Ending," said
Net.Access. "Just hang on tight and you'll make it fine."

    "Mmmmm," said Pli, fiddling with his helmet. "Um, before I go back... I do
have one question."

    "2027," supplied Non-Judgmental Agnostic. "If you're asking when everyone
finally realizes you don't need big event crossovers to sell comics."

    "...no, but thank you," said Pliable Lad. "I was just wondering... what's
*my* future like? Everything seems so uncertain at home. I'm not even sure I
want to be an LNHer anymore, but if this is what's going to happen, maybe I
should stick around and see it through."

    Augh. *That* sure struck home. Net.Access looked at the black crystal
pillar. "Um. Continuity's Champion - will telling him mess things up?"

    CC shook his head, dislodging a stuck kernel. "He's not going to remember
anyway - not once the Ottobindervich Conservation Limit kicks in."

    "Then... honestly? You do great." She paused, trying to remember. "I mean,
there's going to be pain. People close to you are going to get hurt. But
they'll do it of their own will, for the right reasons. So will you. And when
you do decide to leave, it sticks. You go off with Tour Guide Girl and live
your own life."

    Pli smiled. "None of this whole 'Cyclops can't leave the X-Men' thing."

    "No way." She grasped for words. "For everyone who wants to achieve their
goals, and finish their own personal story... you're an inspiration."

    He grinned. "That seems like an appropriate line to leave on!" He clunked
over to the console room door and opened it, standing on the threshold of
interdimensional space, and looked over his shoulder. "See you in twenty
years!" With a gentle push, he launched off toward the Ending.

    Whew. Finally, all this would be over. Net.Access looked through the eyes
of her humanoid shell, and stretched out her hands to guide the Ending into
the rift... only to discover a bright yellow wheel lock on her left hand. What
the heck...?

    Suddenly, despite her shields, she was grabbed by two pairs of strong arms.
She tried to struggle free, but somehow, she couldn't reconfigure her shell.
She looked left and right, into the faces of - Copyright Kid and Trademark

    "Okay, that's enough of that!" Trademark Lass pulled out the full text of
the Berne Convention and waved it at her. "We're shutting this down now. The
Type 102, 103 and 104 Humanoid TARDISes are trademark BBC Books and the
British Broadcasting Corporation, and you've gone way over the line of fair

    "Seriously, what Adrian did was all right, but you've just been banging on
about console rooms and humanoid shells." Copyright Kid glared through the
fourth wall. "And don't think you're off the hook, either." Eheheh.

    "But-- the Ending!" Net.Access tried to duck out through Hypertext Time,
but it was no use. "I have to guide it into the rifts, or Pliable Lad will
drift in space forever!"

    "Oh, and now you're dragging in dramatic, old-series-style cliffhangers?
That's it..."

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