LNH: Classic LNH Adventures #225: LNH vII #50 The Conclusion

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer2 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 12 13:27:54 PST 2021

You can sift through the racc list archive
or you can try google groups racc for the whole issue of LNH vII #50.

And this is the conclusion of the Big Mega Multi-Writer Issue of LNH vII #50.
There were Eight LNH Writers involved in the writing of this and they
are as follow: Jeanne Morningstar, Rob Rogers, Scott Eiler, 
Dave Van Domelen, Arthur Spitzer (me), Drew Nilium, Martin Phipps, and 
Saxon Brenton.

And we reach the conclusion (I mean, sure, I could probably split this into
two more issues, but I'm not going to do that).  We've got tons of Dorfs and
LNH'rs turning into Dorfs and Irony Men having Identity Crises.  But is there
something else this story could use?  Perhaps something long forgotten from
like the beginning of the story?  Something that could return?  Like maybe a
-- GIGANTIC HELPING OF TACO SALAD CHEESECAKE!!!!?  What?  You don't want that!?
Well, too bad, bub, because that's what you're going to get!

And now...

             | |      Classic			
             | |                      =
             | |      ____    ____    _    ____    ___
             | |__   | [] |  | [] |  | |  | [] |  | _ \  

             |____|   \__]    \__ |  |_|   \__/   |_|\_\
                                |_|  OF NET.HEROES

                                    ADVENTURES #225

                      LNH vII #50 The Conclusion

From: Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Date: Sun Nov 2 16:20:29 PST 2014

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     The elevator went ding! The business end of Master Blaster's BIGGUN
poked out, followed by the man himself. Irony Man II came after,
carrying the prone form of Bad Judgment Boy, along with Horrible Name
Lad, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, and Anal-Retentive Archive
Kid II.

     "Horrible Name Lad, take Bad Judgment Boy to the infirmary," said
Irony Man.

     "Why me?"

     "Because he will be excited to hear any new name you come up with
after he regains consciousness."

     "Ooooh!" He ran off pushing a stretcher.

     "Have we done that gag already?" asked YNHMHELad.

     "It matters not," said Irony Man. "We must find Kid Kirby and tender
to him the antidote to the Dorf virus."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     "Hmmm," said Doctor Stomper. "I feel as if I've forgotten

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     They made their way down the corridors towards the cosmic lab.
Master Blaster shook his head. "So why am I on the team with the
delivery boys when I could be blasting Dorfs?"

     "Danger is yet afoot," said Irony Man. "The Dorfish virus has
spread, and not one is safe. Wherever we go, we may run into--"

     A groan issued into the corridor.

     "Who--" YNHMHELad spun in place. "Where's that coming from?"

     ARAK frowned. "Something is making my right eye water." He turned,
slowly, staring forward and concentrating on the edge of vision, walking
at an angle and groping at the wall until his hand came in contact with
a doorframe. "Got you!"

     "A perception filter -- several, more than likely," said Irony Man,
who opened the door and stepped within.

     "What are you guys talking about?" said Master Blaster, facing the
opposite direction. ARAK sighed and guided him into the room.

     The groans were coming from a suit of bulky, Gothic armor, covered
with spiked protrusions, hooks, flying buttresses and more skulls and
chains than Todd McFarlane could draw in a weekend. The helmet was
missing, and the face underneath was Dorfian, but familiar...

     YNHMHELad gasped. "That looks like... Toony! Irony Man must have
been Dorfized!"

     "Yes," said Irony Man (that is, Irony Man II, the one we've been
following in this scene). "It appears as if there was a struggle."

     Master Blaster said, "Musta been when he Dorfed out -- but why
didn't they use the cure?"

     "Possibly..." ARAK stroked his orcish chin. "Possibly, his Dorfified
armor prevented them from using it. So they had to leave him here."

     "I may be able to awaken him, then talk him down," said Irony Man.
"But it would require solitude."

     "Oh?" Anal-Rententive Archive Kid raised an eyebrow.

     "He is my Secret Keeper."

     "Ah!" ARAK nodded, YNHMHELad's face lit with understanding, and
Master Blaster grumbled. The Mysterious Secret and the Secret Keeper
were ancient net.hero traditions passed down through Ages past. They
could not be contravened, unless you thought you were Alan Moore or
something. The three heroes filed out, leaving the Irony Men alone.

     Irony Man held out a hand and sent an electric pulse into the
other's suit of armor for precisely one point three six seconds. "Reg
Hfffgrktt, awaken."

     The great nostrils snorted, and the Dorf who had pretended at Toony
Stark's form awoke. Its eyes fixed on the armor in front of it. "You!"
It tried to rise, but found that its own armor did not respond. "What--

     "One cannot betray a cause one is not part of." Irony Man's optics
gazed into the Dorf's eyes, and through his rage he felt unnerved.

     "But-- but you were *instrumental* to our cause! You provided the
mindscan that allowed me to emulate Toony Stork's emotions and

     "Indeed. If I had not, you would have taken it yourselves, and left
behind a substance remarkably similar to scrambled eggs. By preventing
that, I acquired an ally in this timeline. As to your cause, it did not
matter. The history books say the Legion stopped you, though not how."

     "A time traveler!? You two-faced lying bastard!"

     "Indeed." A panel opened in Irony Man's armor, and a small disc fell
out. "All that is left is to ensure that the lie continues, and things
turn out as they should."

     "Hah! Fucker that you are, killing me to secure your own plans!
Hypocrite hero!"

     "Killing you? No, Reg Hfffgrktt. Instead you will remember."

     "...remember?" The unnerving feeling blossomed into fear. "Wh-- what
is that?"

     "It is a teleport module capable of reaching Dorfia."

     "...you're $#!%ing me. You can't expect me to believe that that
thing can send me hundreds of lightyears away."

     "It can. And it will. And when you return home, you will remember
what it was like, to be Toony Stork. You will remember his friends. And
his failure. And his pain. And why he did it."

     The Dorf shook in his metal prison. "Why!? You shit-brained pig-
licking fuckstick, WHY!?"

     "The Dorfs have schismed, broken into factions of which you and your
companions are but one. An ideological civil war. By resurrecting the
Prophet, you hoped to prove the rightness of your cause. In a battle
like this, a few individuals can make the difference. And a Dorf who
knows what it is like to be human..."

     "Damn you! DAMN YOU!" Flecks of foam flew from his mouth, and his
cheeks were red with rage. "Do you know how painful it was to see
through his eyes!?"

     "Yes. I do."

     And Reg Hfffgrktt vanished in a pale blue flash.

     Irony Man stood, looking down at the spot where he had been. Then he
turned and opened the door, leaving Comics Snob Boy's room to the past.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Cynical Lass, Poignant Death Lass, and Painful Pun Person picked
their way down a dank corridor, wind whispering between the rough-cut
stones. Flickering torches lit their way, and somewhere, far off, was
the sound of dripping water.

     "This is the same building where Multi-Tasking Man uses the waste
heat from the pocket cyclotron to make coffee, right?" said Cynical

     "Setting inconsistency isn't what I'm worried about," said Poignant
Death Lass. "How are we going to get out of here and into the sub-
basements proper?"

     "That's pretty simple, if you're a-cute enough," said Painful Pun
Person. She stepped up to an apparently blank wall and gave it a puppy-
eyed pleading look, filled with charm and charisma.

     Something in the stone chirped. "Retinal scan complete," said a
melodious voice, and the wall slid back. They stepped through into a
wide, tall corridor, with a plaque next to the door reading "Floor -12".

     Cynical Lass shook her head. "Makes as much sense as anything. But
how'd you figure it out?"

     Painful Pun Person smiled. "I'm just that a-door-able!"

     Suddenly, a cloud of blue and red sparkles zoomed through the air
with a humanoid figure half-visible inside, giggling in glee.

     Poignant Death Lass squinted. "Was that Kid--"

     Even more suddenly, there was a loud ding! and the elevator doors
they hadn't noticed opened, and Doctor Stomper stepped out.

     "Doctor Sto--"

     The most suddenly of all, Masterplan Lad, WikiBoy and Ubiquitous Boy
Lad Jr. ran past, shouting and pointing at the sparkly cloud, and Doctor
Stomper turned and ran after them.


     Painful Pun Person pointed. "Chase that race!" And they ran after.

     Doctor Stomper, breathing hard, fell into place next to Masterplan

     "Masterplan Lad!" said Doctor Stomper. "The Dorf virus -- it's a
biological weapon! What if they find some way to mutate it into new
strains so that it reinfects us?"

     "They have!" said Masterplan Lad. "But the energy of the Urple Ray
mutated the virus into an extreme form in Kid Enthusiastic's blood, so
if we can isolate it, we'll be able to create a cure that'll apply to
any form of the Dorf virus!"

     "Hey, we have exposition too!" shouted Painful Pun Person. She and
Poignant Death Lass pulled the wheezing Cynical Lass forward.

     "Ho--" She coughed. "Okay. The Toony Stork we've been dealing with
was actually a shapeshifted Dorf, trying to wipe out all Toony's data on
the first LNH mission. Poignant Death Lass found out their weakness,
though -- they can't handle emotions. Other than 'frothing rage', of

     "Got it," said Masterplan Lad. "But if that was an impostor, where
is the real Toony Stork?"

                      ~~LNH~~     ~~LNH~~     ~~LNH~~

     Toony Stork could feel something choking the life out of him. Who
had he pissed off now? It was a green scaly hand with claws. And it was
also his right hand. His right hand was attempting to murder him. He
quickly tried to remove the hand on his throat with his left hand, but
for some strange reason, his left hand completely passed through the
lizard-like right hand. His left hand was a ghost. Getting desperate, he
rolled out of bed and hit the floor hard, right on top of his right
hand, which was enough to loosen it from his throat.

     He then screamed for help.

                      ~~LNH~~     ~~LNH~~     ~~LNH~~

     "This is amazing," said Doctor Stomper, glancing at his computer
screen. Irony Man (Toony Stork) was bound on an inclining chair -- his
legs and hands shackled (except for his ghost hand). Various LNH'rs
surrounded him.

     "Your right hand appears to be an alien shapeshifter. Your left hand
is some virtual reality construct that doesn't really exist. Your right
leg is robot duplicate of your leg. Your left leg is a prophecy from
the future about your left leg.  And your buttocks appear to be from an
alternate Looniverse (Earth-Millar) where every single member of the LNH
is a complete asshole."  Dr. Stomper took a deep breath. "And your brain
-- well, appears to be divided three ways. One part is a clone brain
that seems to be controlled by an evil government conspiracy. The second
part is controlled by some body jumping supervillain (Dr. What-Me-
Acting-Strange). And the last part is being controlled by you. It's like
your entire body is a composite of comic book tropes that Tom Russell
doesn't like."

     "So, what's this mean?" said Irony Man with an uneasy expression on
his face.

     Dr. Stomper took off his glasses and wiped them with his labcoat.
"It means Tom Russell probably won't like this story when he reads it."

     "No, no. I mean all those things I did -- horrible acts I committed
during Beige Countdown and Beige Midnight -- does it mean...?"

     "In many ways, it's incredible that you didn't just go on a mass
murder spree with all of these evil body parts in control of you. But,
yes, you're completely off the hook."

     "How did this happen to me?"

     "Good question. Using my sensors, I do detect a trace of revamp
energy in your blood. Can you think of any exposure to revamping?"

     "I don't know. Wait, back in 2005. Yeah, I fought this pack of
Mecha-Revampires. Maybe they infected my suit and that in turn infected
me.  Is there any way to cure me?"

     Dr. Stomper nodded. "Yes, I think if we download your good brain
energy and install that into a cloned body of yourself -- that should do
the trick. We'll have to install it into a teenage version of yourself
though. Anything older and there'd be problems."

     "Me a teenager again? I guess I can live with that."

     "Oooh. Dibs on calling you Teeny Toony," said Catalyst Lass with a

     "Only you. Only you, Cat." Irony Man shook his head while laughing.
"I'm just glad I can finally be back to normal. Be a hero again."

     "We're all glad," said Fearless Leader patting Irony Man on the

     The Ultimate Ninja gave a silent nod of approval.

     "This whole thing has been such a nightmare, but now -- now it feels
like I'm finally waking up..."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--


     "Toony?  Time to get up.  Toony?"

     "Huh?" Toony Stark opened his eyes, wincing a bit at the light. He
looked and saw an attractive woman in business attire with a mug of
coffee and a paper in her hand. It was his personal secretary, Paprika
Pitts. "Oh. Hi, beautiful."

     "Having a nice dream?"

     "Well, it was better than being awake." Toony took the coffee and
began to sip it.

     "Oh, you're on the front page again!"

     Toony looked at the newspaper. The headline read, 'Irony Man Does
Hand Stuff!! Net.ropolis Saved!!'. Toony threw the paper on his bed.
"Yeah, that's wonderful."

     "Do you want me to bring anything else up?"

     "Yeah.  A dozen bottles of liquor.  Doesn't matter what."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

The LNH Kitchen:

     And the massive chunk of leftover Taco Salad Cheesecake lying on one
of the kitchen counters realized something.

     Taco Salad Cheesecake think, therefore Taco Salad Cheesecake am,
thought Taco Salad Cheesecake.

     And Taco Salad Cheesecake began to think about more stuff.

     Hmm, thought Taco Salad Cheesecake, no one seem to care what Taco
Salad Cheesecake thinking. Once Taco Salad Cheesecake a vital part of
issue #50, but now everyone forget Taco Salad Cheesecake. This make Taco
Salad Cheesecake sad. Very sad.

     Why no one love Taco Salad Cheesecake anymore? Taco Salad Cheesecake
don't understand. This make Taco Salad Cheesecake angry. Angry at world.
A world that could ever forget Taco Salad Cheesecake!

     Must make world pay. Pay for Forgetting Taco Salad Cheesecake! Will
make World remember Taco Salad Cheesecake! World will never ever forget
Taco Salad Cheesecake! Never again!

     And the Taco Salad Cheesecake began to focus on its shape. And feet
began to sprout out of Taco Salad Cheesecake. And those feet lifted Taco
Salad Cheesecake up and helped him leap towards the ground.

     And just as that was happening, Cheesecake Eater Lad walked right
into the kitchen with a bunch of plastic containers in his arms. And
Cheesecake Eater Lad watched the Taco Salad Cheesecake eat its way
through the floor.

     Cheesecake Eater Lad walked over to the hole and saw the Taco Salad
Cheesecake eating his way through the basement floor too. And the
various sub-sub-basements beneath the basement.

     Cheesecake Eater Lad sighed and put down his plastic containers.
"Note to self: Never ever *ever* make Taco Salad Cheesecake again."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     General Jarrek turned to the sensors they had trained on the
entrance to the LNHQ. Nothing so far. By now, Hfffgrktt should have
destroyed all evidence of the Dorfs' weakness -- by stealth or by force.
But he still wasn't--

     Ah! There -- a figure, disguised cunningly as washed-up net.hero
Irony Man. Yes, and now, the ducklicking mothers would--

     "Hey asshole!" said one of the undertroopers, looking through a
visor that was pointlessly glued to the instrument panel. "Reg
Hfffgrktt's signal just went dead!"

     "..." Jarrek stared at the figure. A goddamned ruse. Looks like the
Legion was a little less incompetent than they'd figured. He spun around
and faced his troops. "Well guess what!"

     "WE KNOW ALREADY!" they shouted in unison, then ran in a
disorganized scrum to the transporter room.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Dozens of feet fell pell-mell on the curiously well-kept floors of the

     "Kid Enthusiastic!" shouted Doctor Stomper, waving his hands at the
flying transfigured boy. "We need you to stop for a minute so we can
derive the cure for the Dorf virus from your blood!"

     "Okay, you can do that!" Kid E shouted back.

     "Oh, excel--"

     "Once you catch me! WHEEEEEEE!" He rose up in a cloud of sparkles.

     "It's no use!" said Masterplan Lad. "He's too fast and agile in this

     "If only there were some way to attack him from above!" said
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.

     shompshompshompshompCHOMPCHOMPCHOMPCHOMP! Suddenly, a great hole
appeared in the ceiling, and through it fell the Taco Salad Cheesecake
-- right on Kid Enthusiastic's head!

     "Yeah, like that," said UBLJr.

     "What a cheesy coincidence," said Painful Pun Person.

     "haha whee~" Kid E fell out of the air, plummeting TO HIS DOOM.
Poignant Death Lass gasped dramatically, to increase the tension.

     Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II called out, "Wikiboy, you're a rocket
launcher that fires psychic-energy-seeking impact-softening gel-

     "What!?" Wikiboy poofed into his new form, and Cynical Lass,
standing next to him, grabbed him and fired from the shoulder. Kid E
bounced to the floor in a ball of goo, safe but messy.

     Doctor Stomper stopped, wheezing. "Good-- Whew! Good teamwork."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Soon, everyone was gathered in the infirmary, waiting. Kyoko had
woken up earlier; by now she was back home, taking a nice relaxing bath.
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad was finally awake, watching intently. Kid E
was strapped to a medi-bed, bouncing cheerfully and letting off clouds
of distracting sparkles.

     Doctor Stomper carefully drew a vial of sparkly pink blood from his
body. He divided the blood into two vials. In one, Wikiboy added the
cure for the Dorf virus, and both were sealed.

     All eyes were on Dr. Stomper as he placed the vials into a
centrifuge. Masterplan Lad checked his watch. Anal-Retentive Archive Kid
II paced up and down. Painful Pun Person nibbled her nails. The Taco
Salad Cheesecake sat on a shelf and swung its little legs.

     Bad Judgment Boy was strapped into the next medi-bed over, partially
so that the Urple Ray treatments could do their work, partially because,
well, Bad Judgment Boy. Horrible Name Lad and Poignant Death Lass were
catching up beside him.

     Bright blue liquids bubbled through antique glassware. Dry ice was
set in Erlenmeyer flasks. Electric arcs climbed up a Jacob's Ladder.

     The door opened. Cynical Lass tensed up, but it was only Irony Man,
Master Blaster, and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. Doctor
Stomper went over, and they talked in quiet tones; they had not been
able to gain access to Kid Kirby's lab.

     A whirring noise filled the room, as the synthesizer produced serum
out of the anti-Dorfigen and Kid E's blood. Slowly, a glass-walled
canister filled with a glowing green substance. With a ding!, the
process was complete.

     Doctor Stomper filled a syringe with the new vaccine-slash-cure. He
took a glance at the assembled crowd, and injected it into Kid E.

     The sparkles faded, the horns shrank away, and his skin resumed its
usual glow. The cure had worked.

     "Zzzzzz," said Kid Enthusiastic sleepingly.

     "Excellent," said Dr. S. "Let's--"

     And then Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.'s eyes widened, "Guys!" he said.
"The Dorfs! They're-- they're--" And then his body twisted! The change
was upon him!

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Seyfert looked up. He'd taken care of Slickshiver, but it wasn't
over yet, not by a long shot. After channeling the TheyMightBePower, he
felt like one might after a round of good exercise: exhilarated but
exhausted. His bones were sore, his head was ringing, and he had "The
Sun" stuck in his head, which was especially annoying for him because he
was an astrophysicist and it was innacurate. The sun was NOT in fact a
mass of incandescent gas. (Later They Might Be Giants issued a
retraction song about how the sun was a miasma of incandescent plasma,
but it wasn't as catchy.)

     And now he had to deal with the Dorf warfleet that was closing in on
him, like a flies swarm of flies surrounding a piece of roadkill. Time
flies like an arrow, as the old saying went. Fruit flies like a banana.
Of course, he'd faced time flies before, and in his experience they'd
eat just about anything. He wasn't eager to do so again. His head was
going to be full of non sequiturs for a while after he channeled the
TheyMightBePowers, so he'd have to deal with that as well.

     The probability he'd make it out of this one alive was
astronomically low. Of course, he was not just a net.hero, but one of
the cosmic net.heroes, so the same could be said of everything that had
happened in his entire life. Who could have guessed back when he was a
physics grad student that he'd end up working for Project Celestia, or
that he'd inherit the mantle of Protector of the Looniverse? Even if he
didn't make it, though, he wasn't afraid of death. Not since beating one
of its aspects in an eating contest years ago. But he was a little
afraid of letting go. He had his share of loose ends to be taken care
of. Like Dev-Null... No, maybe it was better if he left that particular
loose end untied. He still felt badly about how that had all ended. If
only... No, he reflected as he dodged a Dorf bolt, this was probably not
a good time to be thinking about his romantic problems.

     But then another Dorf ship suddenly appeared out of hyperspace and
started blasting the rest. Seyfert shouldn't have been too surprised, he
thought, to find that the Dorf were turning on each other. He was a lot
more surprised that as many of them were working together as they were.
The status of any given Dorf emperor was tenuous at best. Actually
getting their subjects to respect them was out of the question, and
getting them to fear them was extremely difficult, so the best bet was
to make sure the rest of the Dorf hated any potential competitors more
than whoever was in charge. Thus, the mission against the LNH, giving
them a common enemy after a long and bitter civil war. He needed to
figure out if there was a way to resolve the war without reviving an
empire that was a danger to the rest of the galaxy. But first, he needed
to get out of there and stop expositing to himself.

     Warping through space and time with the power of the Quintom Bands,
Seyfert looked behind him and saw flashes in time and space -- the
increasingly convoluted plot of the story he was in. There were quite
enough loose ends, and it was time for someone to do something about

     Tentatively, he reached his mind beyond time and space, seeking out
his patron, the cosmic entity Unixepoch. To this day, he still was not
used to the experience. His perceptions stretched out into the nth
dimension, leaving the material universe flat and small behind him. He
beheld Unixepoch -- a gnarled creature plantlike tendrils, made of ASCII

     "Hey Unixepoch!" he said, his voice sounding quiet and feeble
against the background noise of the Omnilooniverse. "What exactly is
going on in this story, anyway? And what am I supposed to do now?"

     <THAT 1S A VERY G00D QUEST10N>, said Unixepoch. <THE PL0T TW1STS AND

     "Well, that sure was helpful," muttered Seyfert to himself, then
realized Unixepoch could hear it anyway. Of course, the being could hear
his deepest thoughts, so there was no point in trying to hide them.
"Wait a minute... Ironies? Of course. Someone's got to find the real
Irony Man and get him to sort this stuff out, so it might as well be

     With that, he wrenched back into normal spacetime. He rapidly fell
through space, across the galaxy, wondering if he would fall out of the
Looniverse entirely. But he took control with the Quintom Bands, and
abruptly slammed to a halt in front of his destination: the penthouse
where Toony Stork had been in hiding for the past year.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     "Wait. This is okay," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. as he began to
slowly change into some strange-looking monstrosity. "It's all okay.
Everything is okay." Claws and fangs grew out of his hands and teeth.
Razor-sharp spines began to pop out of his skin.

     "Umm," said Cynical Lass pointing a BigGun (TM) she had in her hand
at his head, "There are a lot of words that I might use to describe
what's happening to you -- but I don't think 'okay' would be one of
them." The rest of the LNH'rs in the room also pointed various weapons
at him.

     "No, no. You don't understand," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. as the
brain portion of his head began to rapidly expand like an out-of-control
balloon. "There's a Dorf warship hovering over Net.ropolis as we speak.
Right at this moment a Dorfian Soldier has her hand on a button and
she's ready to push it. When she pushes the button, the warship's cannon
will utterly annihilate the entire city of Net.ropolis. Everything will
be gone. The LNHHQ. Everything in the city. It will be the end of
everything. The end of the LNH." He paused a bit after this with a cold
expression on his face as he looked at Cynical Lass. His head continued
to expand. "It's all okay. Everything is..."

     "Stop! Stop it!" said Cynical Lass, ready to blast the hell out of
whatever Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. had changed into. "You really don't want
to use that word! I mean it!! Don't use it!!!"

     "It's going to be-- umm... Calm down, Cynical Lass. And other LNH'rs
that are about to shoot me. Calm down. Really. I've got control of her.
The Dorfian Soldier. Her hand is no longer on the button. I've got
control over the whole ship. I've got control over all ships. Every
ship. I've got control of all the Dorfs."

     "What are you talking about?" asked Irony Man II. "All of the

     "Yes," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. whose brain was continuing to
grow. "Every Dorf in every galaxy. I am in them all. In their DNA. I am
them and they are me. I am the Dorfian Over-Mind. And I am Ubiquitous
Boy Lad Jr."

     "I -- I don't understand," said a confused Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats

     "I do," said Masterplan Lad, quietly. His hand moved, and suddenly,
he was holding the syringe of Dorf super-cure. "Every Dorf is Ubiquitous
Boy Lad Jr. right now. And Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. is every Dorf -- and
every single person with the Dorf virus in their bloodstreams."

     "Then-- we could cure all the Dorfs at once!" said You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.

     Cynical Lass looked at the syringe. "And what happens if you cure a
Dorf of being a Dorf?"

     There was silence in the infirmary.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     General Jarrek and his soldiers stood, halfway through the door into
the lobby. Marshall LaRocque had his chainzookasword out, grease
dripping from the barrels.

     They stood, faces relaxed, staring off into the distance.

     The Heart of the Prophet pulsed.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     UBLJr.'s head pulsed, his braincase a great sphere. "Whatever you
do... do it quickly... the rage of billions, I'm holding it back... ow
owie ow..."

     "...maybe they'll just become human," offered Namer Boy.

     "Maybe they'll be freed of their hate," pointed out Wikiboy.

     "Maybe they'll die," murmured Poignant Death Lass.

     "Hey, would that be so bad?" Master Blaster rolled his eyes.
"Seriously. They're DORFS. They'd do it to you and laugh."

     Irony Man II simply stood and watched.

     Masterplan Lad gazed into the bubbling green liquid. "Do we have the
right? A little pinch, push the plunger, and that's it. The Dorfs cease
to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can
live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dorf."

     "You know," said Painful Pun Person, "there's one thing you guys
haven't considered."

     "Yeah," said Horrible Name Lad, "if there aren't Dorfs anymore, then
we can't call it Six Dorfs Over Newark: The Angriest Place in the

     "That, and... pretty much everyone here is still infected. Are you
sure that this destructiveness, this bloodthirstiness -- what if it's
all a bit of martyrDorf?"

     Everyone groaned.

     "...but she's right," said Masterplan Lad. "This entire time, we've
been so *angry* at the Dorfs... but nobody's angrier at the Dorfs than
the Dorfs themselves."

     "Yeah..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., sweat dripping down his
enlarged head. "You got that r-right..."

     "Okay, but how do we decide?" said Cynical Lass. "There's nobody
here who's definitely not infected, except--"

     Kid Enthusiastic sat up in the medi-bed. "Boy, I feel a lot better!
...uh, why's everyone staring at me?"

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Seyfert's boots landed lightly on the concrete balcony in front of
the door to Toony Stork's penthouse. He wasn't sure how to proceed -- he
didn't know the former Irony Man very well. Would he be angry at the
intrusion? Would he be glad of a sympathetic ear?

     The door slid open, and the cacophonous clamor of an outrageous
party boomed out.

     Or that was a possibility, too.

     Seyfert stepped into a room crowded with guests, none of whom gave
him more than a glance before turning back to drinks and light
conversation interspersed with heavy petting. He muttered apologizes and
carefully slipped between partiers to find Toony lounging on a lounge
chair, sipping something that could strip paint from a wall at five

     "Excuse me, Mr. Stork?" said Seyfert, kneeling down awkwardly next
to the chair. "There's some trouble with the Dorfs, and--"

     "Dorfs." Toony snorted. "I could tell you about Dorfs."

     Oh lord.

     "Dorfs're..." He pointed three inches to the left of Seyfert's face.
"You ever made a mistake?"

     Coming here without a pitcher of black coffee, thought Seyfert.
"Sure, plenty."

     "Who d'y'think was the Dorf who made the first mistake? Like..."
Toony leaned forward on the arm of the chair, finger wobbling back and
forth. "You gotta figure there's a hundred or a thousand or a million
billion mistakes they made to turn into what they are now. But what
prehistoric Dorf y'think started it all? Who y'think said to the
serpent, 'Hey one order of apples please, heavy on screwing up the
future', hm?"

     This was hopeless. Anything he could get out of the man's booze-
soaked brain would be mangled beyond recognition by the regret that had
sunk him into this hole. Better to leave him to rot.

     ...said the part of Seyfert's mind that he never listened to. The
rest of him stood up straight and spoke loudly, to be heard over the
party guests. "Mr. Stork, something really bad's going on with the
Dorfs. I don't know all of it, but you need to remember *something*,
some secret from the Legion's history, to save the world. I..." He
looked away, out the penthouse window, over the city below. "We need
your help."

     "Yeah... yeah, I know." Toony sighed, and turned his half-full glass
  over, spilling the amber liquid on the floor. He pressed a concealed
  button on the bottom, and as one, the party guests slumped, inert forms
  clattering to the floor.

     Seyfert looked around. "...they were robots."

     "Perfect for being alone in a crowd." Toony pushed himself to his
feet, tossing the glass behind him. "The storyarc reactor should filter
the alcohol out of my system while we fly to the LNHQ." He flicked open
the knick-knack shelf and took out his official LNH flight.thingee.ring.

     "You think the end of all this is going to be at the LNHQ?"

     "When you get to my age, you get the feeling of a what a big, team-
wide event looks like. An' also a Dorf super... mega... dark... a Dorf
ship uncloaked 'bout five minutes ago." Toony coughed, and Seyfert
fancied he could see the alcohol evaporating.

     "And you think you can do it?" Seyfert wasn't sure. This all felt
too easy... but then he saw the look in Toony's eyes. No. Not easy at

     "Haven't you read the newspapers? Saving the world's what I'm good
at." Toony shook his head, looking at the discarded glass, lying on the
lounge chair. "Seems like the only thing I'm good at, anymore."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     "...so what you're saying," said Kid Enthusiastic, in an 'I'm
thinking really hard!' pose, "is that our choice is either to cure
Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., and potentially screw over every Dorf in the
cosmos, or not do that thing, and probably all be horribly murdered
and/or turn into Dorfs ourselves?"

     "Indeed," said Doctor Stomper.

     "And... PLEASE hurry..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., eyes shifting
colors kaleidoscopically. "Or I WILL TEAR YOUR sense of languid ease OFF
AND SPIT IN THE provided spitting receptacle NRRRrrrRRRrrghg..."

     "Well!" Kid E stuck a finger in the air. "Clearly, the right
decision is to take the third option!"

     Cynical Lass threw up her hands. "What third option!?"

     SKRATHOOM! The wall of the infirmary burst inward, and there,
hovering in midair, were Seyfert and Toony Stark.

     "That third option!" Kid Enthusiastic pointed at the twosome. "The
Dorfs' weak point! Super huge tragedies!"

     "Oh, thanks," muttered Toony, settling on the floor.

     "Sorry, but he's right," said Poignant Death Lass. "We need pain and
anguish, strong enough for the entire Dorf race to feel. And we need an
end to the story we've been waiting for..."

     "...the story of the LNH's very first mission," said Anal-Retentive
Archive Kid II. "Of course."

     "..." Toony fell into a chair. "Of course of course." His shoulders
slumped. "Would it also help fight the Dorfs if I was having my genitals
electrocuted while I told you?"

     Kid Enthusiastic made a face at the mental image. Pulls-Paper-Out-
of-Hats Lad scratched the back of his neck. Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.

     Out of the shadows, Irony Man II stepped forward, placing an armored
hand on Toony's arm.

     Toony sighed and rubbed the hand. "Yeah, okay. Hero time." He raised
his head. "Ladies, gentlemen, the entire Dorf civilization..." He nodded
towards Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.'s throbbing skull. "I bring you two
tales. The tale of the very first mission of what would become the
Legion of Net.Heroes! ...and the tale of how I failed the same person
three times."

     Suddenly, the infirmary door opened. General Jarrek, Marshall
LaRocque, and their crew walked in, bringing rows of plastic chairs and
a giant comfy lounge chair. They carefully lifted Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
into the latter, and everyone else settled down to listen to the
climactic story.

     Namer Boy raised his hand. "Don't you need the memory sticks to
remember all this?"

     Toony shook his head. "Before I left, I copied everything back into
my brain. Seemed like the best punishment I could give myself."


     He took a drink of water, cleared his throat, and began. "At the
time, there was no big Ame.rec.an net.hero team -- just a lot of free
agents who teamed up once in a while. Net.ropolis had been a hub for
this sort of thing since Boy Lad's day, but the first time most of these
people had met was when she sent out a distress call out to every
net.hero in range."

     "She?" queried Masterplan Lad.

     "A hero we all knew and trusted. Malysa El-lenn Aitch. A half-human
half-Dorf who was Seyfert's predecessor as Protector of the Looniverse
-- Captain LNH."

     "Of course there was a Captain LNH before there was an LNH,"
muttered Master Blaster, dangling his BIGGUN over his shoulder.

     "I'm surprised nobody mentioned her when Vel was around," Doctor
Stomper noted.

     "Yeah, well, don't get ahead of me. So we all came together, myself,
Marvel Zombie Lad, Kid Yesterdaze, California Kid, Lurking Girl, Comics
Snob Boy, Shoots-Arrows-Out-of-His-Butt Lad..."

     "Wait, so there was really a Shoots-Arrows-Out-of-His-Butt Lad?"
asked Wikiboy.

     "Oh, no, sorry -- this was the original Mood Arrow. That's just what
Horrible Name Lad I called him."

     Horrible Name Lad and Poignant Death Lass blinked loudly. "Wait, so
there used to be *another* Horrible Name Lad?" PDL said.

     "Horrible Name Lad I was actually his name," noted Toony. "A side-
effect of his powers."

     "I'm a legacy character..." squeed HNL.

     "Anyway, we also had Loquacious Lad, List Lad, the original
Occultism Kid, Bandwagon Chick and Miss Calico."

     "Miss Calico?" said Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad. "I thought Tom
Russell retconned Teenfactor out."

     "Well, this was the post-Cry.sig post-Retcon-Hour post-Infinite-
Leadership-Crisis post-58.5 post-Beige-Midnight pre-Just-Another-Cascade
version of her."

     "Oh, I see."

     "What?" said Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II, blinking.

     "Guys could we PLEASE get back on track," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad
Jr., cranial veins swelling.

     "Right," said Toony. "So Captain LNH had a desperate warning -- the
Earth was in trouble. The Dorfs had been trying to gain access to our
planetary transreality nexus."

     "You mean the one in the LNHQ?" said Kid Enthusiastic, wibbling
energetically in his seat. "The mysterious higher-dimensional energy
pattern which, despite the best minds in pseudoscience working on it, we
still don't know if it's a living creature that feeds on heroic emotions
or a locus of magic that attracts heroic energy or what?"

     "Yes, though at the time, it was the mysterious higher-dimensional
energy pattern in the defunct Net.ropolis Hotel Grand."

     "Never could understand why they kept trying to keep a hotel open
here," said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. "It kept going out of
business because of weird paranormal happenings, or some net.villain
running a demented scheme out of one of the rooms, or a giant butterfly
laying eggs in the honeymoon suite..."

     "They had thrown hundreds of screaming Dorfs through space," said
Toony, glaring at YNHMHELad, "attempting to lock on to the nexus, but
only one had made it through."

     General Jarrek's eye twitched. Seyfert looked at him, then back at

     "Yes. Jarrek had orders to transform the nexus into a permanent
beachhead through which the Dorfs could invade this entire sector of the

     "That's what the fake you said," Cynical Lass noted with a raised
eyebrow. "That they'd mind-controlled the August One -- that is,
Occultism Kid -- and had him open the portal."

     "What, mind control on the one person best protected from outside
influence? Gotta hand it to the Dorfs, they don't lack for ego." Toony
shook his head. "No. They were opening the portal on Earth because the
thing they needed to open the portal was on Earth -- the Cosmic Plot

     There was a gasp, and Painful Pun Person muttered, "So it really was
a parody of the Avengers movie!"

     "Indeed. Jarrek broke into the Net.ional History Museum, guns
blazing, and stole it. Mood Arrow had been the only one to respond --
and Jarrek used the Device to take him over. We had a traitor in our

     "DUN DUN DUN!"

     "Thank you, Bad Judgment Boy. We raced to stop Jarrek before he
could open the portal -- half came with me, half with California Kid."

     "We made a motley group, I can tell you that. Kid Yesterdaze and
Comics Snob Boy were fighting over the X-Men, Bandwagon Chick and Marvel
Zombie Lad were dissing each other's ride, Occultism Kid was making
aloof comments, Miss Calico was trying to explain why she wasn't going
to call herself 'Aero Lass's Future Mother Woman', and in the middle of
it all, Loquacious Lad was going on and on, lecturing List Lad and
Captain LNH on why net.heroes shouldn't date each other. I should have
realized that Mood Arrow wasn't himself, but frankly I was just glad he
was being quiet."

     Poignant Death Lass put a hand to her head, in premonition.

     "He was already there, setting up when we arrived. Atop the Hotel
Grand, Captain LNH pleaded with him to stop, and that's when we found
out that he... was her father."


     "Yes thanks you can stop now. Jarrek... he didn't listen, but it was
obvious he still cared for her. He zapped her with the Device -- blocked
her cosmic powers somehow, left her up there so he could monologue to
her -- and teleported the rest of us to the ground. He summoned a bunch
of energy-projection copies of himself that there weren't any ethical
problems with destroying."

     "Efficient," nodded Masterplan Lad.

     "We fought him with everything we had. Repulsor blasts, mystic fire,
old comics, getting things weeks late, focused totality, snobbishness,
horrible names, longwindedness, tabulation, convincing everyone to do
the same thing, and whatever Miss Calico's powers were in this version
of history. We were making room so that Occultism Kid could set up a
ritual that would disrupt the nexus and send Jarrek back where he came.
We were holding them back... and then Mood Arrow turned around and
stabbed me with a rage arrow."

     Irony Man squeezed Toony's shoulder gently.

     "List Lad took him out right after, tripped him up with the original
air dates of every episode of Guiding Light." Toony swallowed, his voice
getting a bit hoarse. "He asked me if I was okay to continue the battle,
and I said... I said I was fine. That I could work through the rage.
That it wouldn't affect my judgment."

     The people in the room looked at each other. A glance passed along a
thought -- about fogs of rage that clouded one's mind.

     "I knew we had to keep the ritual going, but a thought crept into my
mind like a thief in the night. Captain LNH was distracting him, but
Jarrek could look down at any time and use the Device to knock us around
like bowling pins. I was fixated -- I had to *stop* him."

     "I charged up my repulsors -- and *kept* charging, beyond the
recommended maximum, until the surface of my gloves was red-hot and I
could feel the energy crackle against my palms. I flew up and shouted to
him, and when he turned, I let loose the blast."

     "And in that crystal-clear moment, I could see it. This was exactly
what Jarrek wanted. The Device could reach as far as the Dorf homeworld,
but it had to find it first. It needed a signal, an identifier. And I
had given it one -- the channeled power of my rage."

     General Jarrek had not moved, but tears were streaming down his

     "And... and Captain LNH had seen it too. With the power she usually
had, she could have blocked a sun. He had taken that, but he hadn't
taken... taken the willpower, the courage that she... she needed to..."
Toony closed his eyes.

     Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. gasped in understanding, and the Dorfs gasped
with him. General Jarrek let out a low, keening wail.

     "I didn't... I think Jarrek restored her powers, but a moment too
late. She wasn't fried to a crisp, but she was fading fast."

     "My rage was spent. I just... I landed and picked her up. Jarrek
didn't try to stop me, just stared as I flew off with her. I heard a
twang as he disappeared."

     A tear rolled down UBLJr.'s wide face. "Nothing in Dorf society
prepared them for that kind of grief. When he got back, they thought we
knew their weakness, called off any plans to invade that way again."

     His eyes glistening, Toony nodded. "Makes sense." He heaved a great
sigh. "I got her back to my laboratory. I couldn't heal her -- nothing
on Earth could, not back then. But my guilt lead me to do a very
desperate and stupid thing."

     "The memory recording software I use is based on my early
experiments in... in uploading minds. I tried to transfer Captain...
tried to transfer Malysa's mind to an AI, but it... I was in there for
three days without sleep, it wasn't, it was flawed and unstable and it
didn't work..."

     Toony wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. "Unixepoch, Malysa's
boss, Seyfert's boss, appeared to me in that room. He said... he said
that one day, we would be ready to join as the world's greatest heroes,
but not yet. And to keep us from giving up, he would take our memories
of what had happened."

     "Maybe he knew that I wouldn't forget -- that I'd already backed
those memories up. Maybe he knew List Lad wouldn't -- that he never
forgets anything. Maybe that was our private punishment. Maybe."

     Seyfert sighed, running his hands through his hair. "That... cosmic

     Toony tried to smile at him, but turned away with a grimace. "I had
failed her twice, and I failed her once more. I couldn't... couldn't get
rid of what was left of her, so I stored the project with my memory
files. Even when I moved them into the LNHQ. And that's where it was
when wReamicus Maximus stole it -- and used it as the basis for Vector,
the living computer virus."

     "Oh..." whispered Doctor Stomper. "Oh, no..."

     "So that's it. She was lost and betrayed for the last time." Toony
hung his head. "And it's all my fault."

     Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. let out a startled yelp. His head was
shrinking quickly. "The Dorfian Over-Mind... so overwhelmed with emotion
that it's collapsing..."

     "Then we've beaten--"

     A form flashed across the room, quick as a wink, and Toony was up
against the wall. General Jarrek had his hand around his throat, eyes

     "What the hell," groaned Master Blaster.

     "He shouldn't even be able to move," said Poignant Death Lass,

     "I can still feel the rage in him..." said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.
"Concentrated... can't hold it back..."

     "That's right," whispered Toony. "You took it, didn't you? The

     Jarrek stared into Toony's eyes, unflinching, unmoving. A sickening
pulse swept across the room, and the net.heroes spasmed, the virus
within them reacting.

     And Toony stared right back. "You're not wrong to hate me. But I bet
I could give you a run for your money. And if killing me would bring her
back, I'd say -- do it. But we both know that it won't. So what will you
do with your hate?"

     Jarrek's hand opened, and Toony fell to the ground. He ripped his
claws across his own armor and pulled out the Heart of the Prophet. And
he squeezed.

     Jarrek screamed, and the Heart screamed with him, and they were
caught up in a great ugly yellow flame of pure rage and were gone.

     "What just--" asked a confused Namer Boy.

     "It's over," said Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr., standing up. His head was
  smaller, but still engorged and pulsing.

     "But what about...?" Kid Enthusiastic started to say.

     "It's OVER! FINISHED!!!" screamed Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. Then he
  took a deep breath. "Sorry about that. The rage inside me is stable for
  now, but I don't know how long I can hold it in. I need to go!"

     "Go where?" asked Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad.

     "These Dorfs - they've seen all this. Their captain is dead. I've
got one chance. My control is fading, but if I can bring them together,
maybe there could be some faction in the endless Dorf wars that could...
that could remember what happened."

     "Wait!" said You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. "You don't have
to do this! There's got to be another way!"

     Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. shook his enormous head with a smile. "I have
to.  And besides, if I don't -- this issue will never get posted.
Goodbye, my friends." And with that, he was enveloped in a teleportation
beam, lifted away into the Dorf ship.

     The LNH watched in silence. A few of them waved goodbye.

     "Hey!  I know what we can name this episode now!" said Horrible Name
Lad.  "Get this -- 'I'd Like to Order A Looniversal Pied Piper Syndrome
-- Hold the Taco Salad Cheesecake!' Am I right, guys?! I should be
called Awesome Name Lad!"

     Everyone rolled their eyes.

     Catalyst Lass opened the door. "Guys? Did something happen while I
was getting ready for the party?"

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--


     The LNH watched as the Dorfian ship rocketed off into the sunset.

     "Well, that's that then," said Cynical Lass, lighting herself a
cigarette. "And you," she said, eyeing the Taco Salad Cheesecake
suspiciously. "Are we going to have any more trouble from you?"

     "No." Taco Salad Cheesecake shook its head. "Taco Salad Cheesecake
no cause you more problems.  Taco Salad Cheesecake renounce the ways of
violence.  Taco Salad Cheesecake find it not have the taste for mindless
brutality like it did when it was much younger."  A pretty butterfly
landed on Taco Salad Cheesecake's finger.  Taco Salad Cheesecake gazed
at the pretty butterfly. "No. Taco Salad Cheesecake needs to figure
things out. Find out what Taco Salad Cheesecake's purpose is. Why Taco
Salad Cheesecake exists. Yes. Taco Salad Cheesecake begins a long
journey today. A long journey of discovery. A long journey in which Taco
Salad Cheesecake will hopefully find -- *Taco Salad Cheesecake*!" The
pretty butterfly flew off Taco Salad Cheesecake's finger and fluttered
off into the sunset.

     "Uh, yeah," said Cynical Lass, flicking some cigarette ash onto the
sidewalk. "Good luck with that."

     Taco Salad Cheesecake put on its motorcycle helmet and started up
its bike. And then it waved to the LNH and the LNH waved back. And many
in the LNH wondered if this would be the last time Taco Salad Cheesecake
ever actually appeared in an LNH story. And with that thought, Taco
Salad Cheesecake rode off into the sunset.

     "Man," said Building Suspense Lad, waving along with the rest.
"Where did Taco Salad Cheesecake get that sweet ride? It kind of looks
like -- Wait! That's my bike!! That bastard cheesecake stole my bike!!"
And Building Suspense Lad rushed off into the sunset after Taco Salad

     And the LNH looked as the sun sank into the horizon. "Well," said
Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, "guess it's time to get the LNH 20th
nniversary Party started!"

     "Maybe we should call it the 22st Anniversary Party, considering
when this thing will probably get posted," joked Namer Boy.

     And all of the heroes had a hearty laugh at that.

     And then they stopped laughing. Because... yeeeeeah.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     After the last of the confusion was sorted out, Catalyst Lass asked,

     "Well what?" said Fearless Leader, who had just finished his long
day of sorting out forms while the rest of the team had stopped an alien

     "Wasn't there going to be a party?"

     "I guess so. I don't feel much like celebrating now." He sighed.
"Did Captain LNH exist in my world? Did she die there too? I guess it
doesn't matter too much, with the way things turned out. I was just kind
of hoping we could go one storyline without some big tragedy or dark
secret, but I guess that's not how they do comics anymore. This was
supposed to celebrate everything that was great about the LNH so we
could go forward into a new era. Instead, it just about destroyed us."

     "Well," said Catalyst Lass, "that whole thing was hanging over our
heads for a long time. We would have had to deal with this someday, one
way or another. Now we can make a clean break and move on."

     Fearless Leader, taking the last sip of his last cup of coffee,
didn't look too convinced.

     Catalyst Lass nodded. "And we did save the Dorfs. Or some of them,
anyway. We made the galaxy a better place than it was this morning.
That's something worth celebrating, right?"

     "I just wish Captain LNH would have been around to see it."

     "Yeah, I wish I could have known her better. I still only sort of
remember her. But anyway... I did kiiiind of spend several weeks
organizing this thing and ordering party hats for all the kiwis, but
I'll see if anyone wants to have the party or if we all just need a

     A crowd of kiwis wearing party hats waddled into the lobby. "Kiwi
kiwi kiwi," they muttered angrily.

     "What? We're not calling off the party, don't worry." Cat petted the
lead kiwi on its fuzzy head. It looked slightly less grumpy. She threw
up her hands. "OK, it's party time!"

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     In later years, the LNH 20th anniversary party became a thing of
legend, told by the new generation of net.heroes who were just beginning
to trickle in to the members who followed them to demonstrate their
seniority, then repeated with all the additions and distortions one
would expect. For everyone who lived through it, it felt just as
momentous as the galaxy-defining battle that had happened earlier that
day, although it inspired far fewer Wikipedia Galactica flamewars.
Friendships were made and lost. There were first kisses, pointless
arguments, dance-offs. Most of this will not be related because this
story has gone on for quite long enough.

     On the whole, after the chaos of earlier that day, it went smoothly
enough, apart from the glitch in the computer system that led to "Jump"
by Kriss Kross being played for three hours straight. It turned out it
was very well-attended -- practically everyone who was part of the LNH
who wasn't missing, dead or retconned at the time (and a few who were,
thanks to time travel and continuity errors) showed up. Catalyst Lass
was dancing enthusiastically with anyone who'd let her. Fearless Leader
sipped on his beer and smiled fondly, joining Cat for a brief slow dance
after some prompting. Kid Enthusiastic skipped out on the party, as
everything he'd been through left him tired enough to need a day-long
nap. Self-Righteous Preacher spent an hour and a half cursing the
institution of parties and then sulked off. The rumors that he sought to
drown his sorrow in drink and ran around in the middle of the night with
his underwear on his head have never been confirmed or denied. Ultimate
Ninja stood sentinel at the doorway and didn't move an inch, except for
charging onto the dancefloor and furiously dancing when "Kung Fu
Fighting" played.

     There were other, stranger rumors too. Some spoke of hearing purring
and feeling a cat's fur brush up against them, but no one could say who
it was. Others recalled a pale, gaunt figure who complained at length
about the New 52 and berated everyone in hearing for not reading the
comics of Daniel Clowes, then vanished, walking between the shadows at

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     "Look at all these people," said Obscure Trivia Lad. "Obscure Trivia
Lad remembers when we had just 27 members. Can you imagine?"

     Dr. Stomper nodded. "I'm feeling a little sad, though. Just thinking
about everyone who's come and gone."

     "Such as Captain LNH?"

     "I was thinking more about the characters of authors who went away.
As awful as this may sound, in a way, the deaths are easier to deal
with. That way there's some closure. I was thinking of the characters of
authors who moved on or dropped off the Net, who never had a chance to
have their stories finished in a satisfying way."

     Sing-Along Lass nodded. "It does feel strange not having Rebel Yell
or Lurking Girl here. I still sometimes think that one day they're just
going to walk in and come back like nothing had happened..."

     Everyone gasped. The crowd had clustered by the door, staring at the
two figures who had just walked in. "Who is it?" said Sing-Along Lass.

     "It's... no... it can't be!" said Doctor Stomper.

     "Obscure Trivia Lad thought they were gone forever!"

     "That's right!" said the figure at the room. "It's us -- Halls
Jordan, the Cosmic Custodian, and Cliche Dude!"

     "Wanna make somethin' of it?" said Cliche Dude.

     "Where were you?" said Catalyst Lass, hugging them both. "I heard
you guys were dead!"

     "I heard you'd eloped!" said Kid Yesterdaze.

     "It's a long story," said Cliche Dude.

     "Well you got here just in time," growled Ultimate Ninja. "There's
no way Squeaky Clean will be able to fix all this on his own. See?" A
band of drunken kiwis playing paintball thundered by, spraying paint all
over the walls.

     "Guess so." Halls Jordan sighed. "It's a dirty job, but--"

     "Hey!" said Cliche Dude. "That's my line!"

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Masterplan Lad shuffled awkwardly as the party roared on around him.
The crowd was so large he felt like he could barely breathe. He wanted
to be talking with someone, but he didn't want to start a conversation
with anyone. Where would he even begin? He barely recognized anyone in
this sea of faces around him.

     None of the people who he'd been travelling with, who he could
perhaps call his friends, were there. Manga Girl aside, they'd probably
feel as out of place here as he did. At the moment, he felt more lost
and alone than ever before, even when he'd been stranded at the end of
the universe.

     "You there!" shouted Cynical Lass, holding up a Guinness. She'd had a
fair bit to drink by now and had previously been absorbed in singing
punk songs off key, which he hadn't known was even possible. "What's
your name again?"

     "Er, Masterplan Lad?"

     She blinked. "Have I seen you before?"

     "Given all the time travel nonsense that's been going around lately,
it's impossible to tell."

     She laughed. "That is true. What's your real name?"

     "...I don't particularly have one." He frowned and looked down at
his shoes.

     "Huh. That's messed up." He had to admit it was. "Well, you should
have some sort of psuedonym. You're new here, so I should tell you
net.heroes usually go for really awful puns."

     "I'm quite familiar with the tropes of this genre, you know. Hmm.
You're right, though. How about... David X. McKenna?"

     "Ha! That's pretty clever. Well, I think it's clever, but I'm
getting extremely drunk." She smirked. "You ever drunk before? You have
that fresh-faced cherubic teetotaller look about you."

     "...I can't remember, but probably not."

     "Come on. Try it." She handed him the glass of Guinness. He looked
cautiously at the warm brown drink -- was she even old enough to drink?
With the sliding timescale, it was impossible to tell. For that matter,
was he? How could he know? He drank a sip of it then, overwhelmed by the
taste, almost spat it out. She snerked. "Not bad for a first try. You'll
be a proper British drunk in no time."

     "Ah, thank you. I have, er, business to attend to."

     "If you say so." She waved goodbye, then stumbled off to the karaoke

     Masterplan Lad stroked his recently-bearded chin. Had she been
trying to flirt with him? It was impossible to tell. She'd have to have
been fairly drunk to find him attractive. At any rate, he was glad the
moment had passed. He'd felt that uncomfortable twinge of feeling he
felt -- thankfully intermittently -- around men, women, and especially,
it would seem, gender-indeterminate chaos beings. He had had quite
enough to deal with that day without that. He had, though, glanced
around the room to see if Chaos Theory was around -- this sort of wild,
chaotic occasion seemed like the sort of place they'd enjoy. But they
were nowhere in sight. He didn't know whether to feel disappointed or

     Masterplan Lad decided to leave the party to -- he wasn't really
sure what. Perhaps investigate the library. Or sleep. He wasn't sure how
to go to sleep, because he'd never tried it before. Lost in his
thoughts, he collided with another LNHer who was lurking uneasily at the
edge of the room. "Oh, sorry," he said reflexively.

     "Thank you?" said the young man, as if someone apologizing was so
rare to him he couldn't quite believe it had happened. He was... young-
ish, male-ish, with a confused and vulnerable air to him. But beyond
that his appearance was hard to pin down. Or rather, he seemed to be a
lot of things potentially at once.

     "Have we met? This issue has been going on for so long I'm not sure
even I can remember all of it."

     "Maybe? I'm WikiBoy."

     "Oh, right. Hello." He knew him from the mission, although he
couldn't quite remember how it had all gone down. The flashing lights
and the noise and the crushing presence of the crowd, as well as the
small sip he had had of beer, had left him dizzy. "Do you like beer?"
He'd hoped he could understand what people who drank beer saw in it,
since he was still trying to figure out if he liked the taste or not.

     WikiBoy shrugged. "I don't know. Nobody's edited that."

     "So, your nature is really under the absolute control of other

     "Pretty much. I'm used to it."

     Masterplan Lad frowned. He should have found this refreshing. He
knew his place in the story and didn't question it. This was certainly a
change from other net.heroes he'd had to deal with. But it troubled him.
"Err... I'd like to try an experiment. Is that all right?"

     WikiBoy twitched. "Uh, sure."

     "You are now a truck." WikiBoy expanded into a red semi-trailer,
knocking over a wall.

     "That's interesting," he said. "Did you know in advance what kind of
truck you were going to turn into?"

     "I don't know?"

     "I deliberately tried not to picture anything. So your traits beyond
  the order that's given you initially -- when you developed needles for
  fingers initially, for example -- could be under your control?"

     "Huh. I never thought about that," said WikiBoy.

     "Well perhaps -- oh, right. You're not a truck." He turned back into
what he'd been previously.

     Halls Jordan stomped in and looked at the wrecked wall. "This is
bullcrap. I just repaired that wall."

     "Do you mean you just repaired that wall now, or you just repaired
it twenty years ago?"

     "...Aaarg. I'm sick of time travel."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Irony Man II, slipping gingerly around the party, smiled at Halls
Jordan's expression of frustration with time travel. It was a fine
ironic smile, one she'd spent her whole life cultivating, but it was
wasted on the party, as she was wearing a mask, and she didn't want
anyone to pay attention to her anyway. Then again, there was a certain
satisfying irony to that.

     Nearby, Doug Moran was doing the Macarena with Catalyst Lass. She
was glad she'd sent the message summoning him; he deserved to be part of
this celebration, and was clearly enjoying himself. She'd never been
much one for parties, preferring to spend her time alone in the gardens
contemplating the complexities of the cosmos.

     But there were a few loose ends which remained to be taken care of,
loose ends which had gone unnoticed in the all-consuming chaos of the
Dorf battle. In particular, there was the woman who'd called herself
Tasha Vance, though this was likely not her name. Irony Man had an
inkling of who she was.

     But there was no sign of her at the party. She stepped out of the
LNHQ for a moment to clear her head, heading for the gardens. Sure
enough, the one she sought was waiting there under the moonlight.

     "I spend the entire night looking for you," said Irony Man, "and
you're right here."

     "There's a word for that," said Tasha Vance. "Is there anything you
want to talk about?"

     "I was wondering what you were doing here," she said, "The deeper
LNH sub-basements are not easy to reach, even for a Martyr of

     "I am an architect," said Tasha. "It's my job to pay attention to
these things. Disruptions in the patterns of the city."

     Irony Man looked at the tree. "It's been said that there are two
types of writers -- architects and gardeners. An architect standing in a
garden... as you said, there's a word for that. But I don't think you
are either. I think you are... a composter, perhaps."


     "Your business card," she said, pulling it out of one of her other-
space pockets. "You handed this to the false Toony Stork when you were
exploring the underground. No one had a chance to examine it with all
that was coming to pass. Your name is Tasha Celeste Irene Vance. TCIV.
Time Crapper IV. Net.heroes and net.villains have a way of hiding in
plain sight."

     "But I am neither." The air rippled and swirled around her,
revealing her true form as a red-haired, cloaked woman. "I am a seeker
after knowledge."

     "But you came from the seed of one of the greatest heroes of who
ever lived. You are a Vector."

     "But the Vector program was the source of some of the greatest
villains who ever lived. And I *was* a Vector. I am something else now."

     "Then what did you actually want? Knowledge, I assume, but of what?
Why did you have to come here in person?"

     The Time Crapper frowned, looking up into the sky. The owlbear's
scroll appeared in her hand. "Captain LNH never had a chance to know
herself. She died before she could even know what her name meant. I will
not do the same. That is why I came here."

     "She knew she what she believed in. Will any of the others follow in
her path?"

     "There is one. But her time has not yet come."

     Irony Man nodded. "In many ways we are seeking the same things. I
wonder, will we meet next as friends or as foes?"

     "It's hard to say." She smiled wryly. "After all, not long in your
future, we are married." And then she was gone, leaving Irony Man alone
in the moonlit garden.

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Wendle Johnston, the original Anal-Retentive Archive Kid, sauntered
through the party. Despite being one of the more scholarly, nerdy
members of the LNH, he was far more comfortable at social events than
Masterplan Lad.

     But it seemed like his counterpart was a bit less comfortable. Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid II was sitting alone, face enveloped in deep

     Even though he hadn't been the one to hire the orc [Legion of
Net.Heroes Volume 2 #48 -- Footnote Girl, filling up on hors d'oeuvres
and pie], the other Kid was a... friend? A trusted teammate? A valued
part of his increasingly complicated and anger-driven life around this

     Anyway, he was something or other, and Wendle felt a responsibility.
He pulled up a chair. "Hey, man. What's up?"

     ARAK II looked up. "Who published the newspaper?"

     "...come again?"

     He shook his head. "Sorry, caught in a bit of a loop... apparently,
Cynical Lass's team was told about a newspaper clipping that reported on
Captain LNH's death. It ended up leading them to the Dorfs' weakness.
But if all of the memories of that battle were erased..." He bit his lip
lightly, fangs hanging out. "I keep going around on it."

     ARAK I frowned. The thing is, he knew it must be a plot hook of some
kind -- but he couldn't tell ARAK II that; he didn't know he was
fictional yet, and Wendle worried that the kid was a bit... well, a bit
fragile. But...

     "The thing is, even with the most complete data-gathering and the
best analysis methods in the world -- sometimes, we just don't know.
Sometimes, there are mysteries we just can't crack. And that's good."

     ARAK II raised-- well, he didn't actually have eyebrow hair, but he
gave ARAK I that kind of look. "Good?"

     "Sure. Because it reminds us that, even with all our advanced
science, even with knowledge passed down from our forefathers, even with
going out there and meeting cosmic entities that are part of the
structure of the universe itself -- we don't know everything. We have
more to explore, and..." Wendle struggled a bit. He wasn't great at off-
the-cuff philosophizing... "...and we are not yet complete. You know?"

     ARAK II looked a bit dubious, but said, "I think so."

     ARAK I nodded. "Good. Now, that doesn't mean we shouldn't
investigate anyway. Show me what you've got..."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Deep in the cavernous core of Topphorti is the planet turned inside-
out; a sphere of shining planes, all-seeing monitors forming a
panopticon known as the Dread Judgment Booth. There sat tyrant Flipseid,
and before Flipseid, the monitors bore witness to Dorfish attack and
Dorfish defeat. In the bright silence, he spoke.

     "The life of one of my immortal servants has been snuffed. The
least, to be certain -- but the least of the Net.Gods should ever lie
beyond the reach of mortals."

     Flipseid waved a hand, and as with his merest whim, the monitors
complied. The ship that General Jarrek had commanded was leaving the
solar system, on its way back to Dorf space. "The Dorfs are a powerful
element to maintain the balance of terror in this galaxy. Now that
balance is threatened, once again, by the Looniearth -- by the Legion."

     He rose, clasping his hands behind his back, silhouette stark
against the glare of information. He spoke.

     "Know that I watch this puny sphere because of the secret -- the
Anti.File Equation hidden among human minds! Is this, then, the power
which I seek? The power to unbalance, to take the first, identifying
byte and corrupt it, throwing out all meaning?"

     And the grooved vinyl skin bent, teeth of white bone shining in an
exquisite smile. "Good."

     "Thus shall the power be greater once it lies in my grasp. Thus
shall it change the universe to reflect my countenance. Thus shall the
victory of Flipseid be ever more complete, and thus shall it ring among
the stars forever!"

     "The music of the spheres is an empty babble, a chorus of
meaningless lyrics over the thumping beat of empty hedonism." He turned
and sat, and watched. And smiled. "And that beat is, and ever will be,

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     And off in the corner, pouring spiked punch for a toast, sat Namer
Boy and You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.

     "To Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.!" Namer Boy clinked glasses and downed
his drink.

     "To Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr.," said YNHMHELad, tapping his glass to
Namer Boy's. "Off fighting to help the people who hated him." He swished
the punch around and sipped it thoughtfully.

     Namer Boy poured himself another glass. "You seem troubled," he
said. "I mean, by stuff other than an alien invasion and a friend
possibly leaving Earth forever and angsty emotional revelations."

     YNHMHELad snorted. "Yeah, I don't know. It's like..." He picked up a
Spanish peanut and flicked it across the room. "I'm not going all Dorf-
rage anymore, but I still think about all the problems in the world, and
I feel like we could be doing more."

     Namer Boy leaned back, gathering his thoughts out of the beginnings
of a nice alcoholic haze. "The thing is, the problems here are
reflections of the problems out there - in the world of the Writers.
Sure, we can fix some of them with punching, and others with super-
science, but as long as they're out there, they'll show up here. One way
or another." He sipped his drink.

     YNHMHELad frowned. "Well that's pretty depressing -- being at the
whimsy of a world you can't touch."

     Namer Boy shook his head. "Nah, see. This is the part that most
people don't get -- we *can* touch them."

     YNHMHELad raised an eyebrow. "Is this like the Mechanical Author

     "No, no. It's like..." He took a deep breath. "The problems you were
talking about -- war, poverty, inequality and pain -- they aren't
natural disasters or acts of God. They were caused by people, the
thoughts and feelings in the minds of people, and the only way to really
fix the problems is to change the minds. To make people happier and
stronger and more inspired. And what can do that?" He tapped his chest
and the stylized calligraphy letter N there. "Art. Words. A story." He
looked up, into YNHMHELad's eyes. "We're helping by being here -- by
being heroes."

     YNHMHELad let out a breath. "Wow." He tilted his chair back. "That's
good. I'll have to think about that."

     Namer Boy shrugged, smiling. "I'm good at putting a name on things."

     YNHMHELad chuckled. "Not like your dad."

     Namer Boy shook his head, laughing. "Nah. But..." He looked over at
Horrible Name Lad. "It seems he inspired someone, too..."

                      --LNH--     --LNH--     --LNH--

     Toony Stork had been sitting on the edge of the room, watching the
party go on without him. This was the first time in a long time he'd
been to a party without throwing himself into the middle of it. This was
also the first time in quite a while he'd been into the LNHQ. These
things were not unrelated.

     He'd always feared -- or maybe hoped -- that without his guiding
influence things would have fallen apart and the LNH would welcome him
back with open arms to sort them out. But in fact, the LNH was still
going on, in defiance of all common sense, just like it always did. And
he didn't have any desire to get back in the game. Maybe someday the
writers would start feeling nostalgic and he'd feel the urge to put the
armor back on, but for now, he felt it was a part of his life that was
over now, for better or for worse.

     Toony was quietly sipping on his Mr. Paprika XXX-Treme 20th
Anniversary Edition ("Now that's a cyborg's pop!") when he noticed
someone sitting on the table beside him. It was List Lad. He almost spat
out his drink. "Hi," he said, slipping as quickly as he could into his
phony cheerful smile. "What are you doing here? I thought you sent a
message saying you wouldn't come."

     "Well, first of all, that's irony, right? I thought you'd understand


     "Second, I figured I didn’t actually have anything better to do. I
mean, I could go stew in my own self-loathing, but I do that every

     "...me too."

     "Third, I felt like I might feel better if I spent some time around
people who are actually enjoying themselves."

     "Huh, maybe you're right." He took a good look at the room around
him for the first time. "Look at those kids." Over at the other table,
Painful Pun Person was talking to Poignant Death Lass, telling her a
joke. The table exploded. "They have no idea how complicated any of this
is, do they?"

     "Well, first of all, we might as well let them enjoy things while
they can. Second, you'd be surprised. You remember what it was like
starting out?"

     "Well, I do now."

     "At least these days we can keep the timeline straight... mostly."

     "You know what? Maybe this all was worth it after all. Life goes on.
Even if we're not part of it anymore, they're all here because of us."
He raised his glass. "To the future."

     List Lad clinked it. "To the future!"

  |--------------*----------------THE  END--------------*--------------|
  |         STARRING                                  CREATED BY       |
  | Taco Salad Cheesecake ............................. Arthur Spitzer |
  | Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad ....................... Arthur Spitzer |
  | Ubiquitous Boy Lad Jr. ............................ Arthur Spitzer |
  | Namer Boy ......................................... Arthur Spitzer |
  | You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad ............. Arthur Spitzer |
  | WikiBoy .............................................. Tom Russell |
  | Master Blaster .................. Robert Ramirez and Martin Phipps |
  | Kid Enthusiastic ................................... Andrew Perron |
  | Doctor Stomper .......................................  T.M. Neeck |
  | Masterplan Lad .................................... Adrian McClure |
  | Kyoko Ishikawa ....................................... Ken Schmidt |
  | Poignant Death Lass ............... Arthur Spitzer and Scott Eiler |
  | Horrible Name Lad ................. Arthur Spitzer and Scott Eiler |
  | Cynical Lass .......................................... Rob Rogers |
  | Irony Man I/Toony Stork ............................... Doug Moran |
  | Painful Pun Person ................................ Adrian McClure |
  | General Jarrek .................................... Adrian McClure |
  | Marshall LaRocque ................ John LaRocque and Martin Phipps |
  | Flipseid ........................................ Dave Van Domelen |
  | Seyfert ............................................ Andrew Perron |
  | Irony Man II ....................................... Andrew Perron |
  | Anal-Retentive Archive Kid II ...................... Saxon Brenton |
  | Slickshiver ........................................ Andrew Perron |
  | Fearless Leader ................................. Dave Van Domelen |
  | Doug Moran ............................................ Doug Moran |
  | Reg Hfffgrktt ......................................... Rob Rogers |
  | Captain LNH ........................................ Andrew Perron |
  |     GUEST STARRING                               CREATED BY        |
  | Footnote Girl ...................................... Saxon Brenton |
  | The Dorfs ......................................... John C. Daiker |
  | List Lad ................................. Todd "Scavenger" Kogutt |
  | OMAR/The Prophet ................................... Saxon Brenton |
  | The Moas .............................................. Rob Rogers |
  | Occultism Kid I/The August One .................. August Paul Yang |
  | Mood Arrow ........................................ Arthur Spitzer |
  | Cannon Fodder ............................ Raymond "wReam" Bingham |
  | Bandwagon Chick ........................................ Sue Clark |
  | The Owlbear ....................................... Adrian McClure |
  | Tasha Vance/Time Crapper IV ........................ Saxon Brenton |
  | Bad Judgment Boy .................................. Arthur Spitzer |
  | AppMaster ............................................. Rob Rogers |
  | Unixepoch .......................................... Andrew Perron |
  | Comics Snob Boy .................................... Maurice Beyke |
  | Paprika Pitts ..................................... Arthur Spitzer |
  | Cheesecake-Eater Lad ................... Matthew Jotham Millheiser |
  | Marvel Zombie Lad ................................ Benjamin Pierce |
  | Kid Yesterdaze .................................. Karthik P. Sheka |
  | California Kid ................................ Dan'l Danehy Oakes |
  | Lurking Girl ........................................... Tori Fike |
  | Loquacious Lad .................................... Greg Schomburg |
  | Miss Calico .......................................... Tom Russell |
  | Building Suspense Lad ............................. Arthur Spitzer |
  | Catalyst Lass ..................................... Elisabeth Riba |
  | The Kiwis ................................... Ian "Descrii" Porell |
  | Ultimate Ninja ........................... Raymond "wReam" Bingham |
  | Obscure Trivia Lad .................................. Brian Perler |
  | Halls Jordan ....................................... Jef Kolodziej |
  | Cliche Dude ........................................ Jef Kolodziej |
  | Anal-Retentive Archive Kid I ....................... Saxon Brenton |
  |--------------*----------------AND  YOU--------------*--------------|

Next Week:  Something LNH I guess?

Arthur "Same Classic Channel.  But Same Time?  Probably not." Spitzer

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