LNH: Classic LNH Adventures #243: Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade that will Probably Never Have an Ending Part Nine

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer2 at gmail.com
Sun May 8 14:03:27 PDT 2022

You can sift through the racc list archive
or you can try google groups racc for this issue of JAMWCtwPNHaE.

Drew Nilium gives us 'Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade That Will
Probably Never Have an Ending' chapter 13.  Wait?  Is this the end?
Is this actually the end?!  Is this the moment that Arthur Spitzer
thought would never come to pass?!  Will Arthur Spitzer regret betting
all that money on 'Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade That Will
Probably Never Have an Ending' actually ending and taking out that 
incredibly big loan with incredibly high interest rates so that he 
could make that bet?!

Well, I guess we'll find out in...

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

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

                                    ADVENTURES #243

               Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade that will 
                  Probably Never Have an Ending Part Nine

From: Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Date: Sun May 31 20:49:18 PDT 2015

This is it! The moment Arthur Spitzer thought would never come to pass!

                                 ! FINAL ISSUE !
                            LUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN
                       - COSMIC PLOT DEVICE CAPER OMEGA -
                            "The Ends of Every Thing"
                                by Andrew Perron
A George Perez-style super-detailed tableau. In the middle of the cover is the
Kubrik's Kube, with rifts extending out from it in all directions. The
Crossover Queen looms over it from above, and Net.Access reaches up at it from
below. Merissa faces towards it from the left, and Time Crapper IV does the
same from the right, their faces mirror images. The background is a starfield
with rubble and net.heroes flying through the air; from the lower right corner
to the upper right, behind all the foreground elements, is Lydia Devin,
carrying several net.heroes in one arm and trying to catch more as they fall.

    Merissa came out of room 58008 completely engrossed in the gun and its
holographic manual. Hm, yes, maintenance, oiling the barrel - not necessary,
but made it look shinier and more impressive. Very important. ...she *totally*
had to show someone how cool this was.

    She heard people shuffling around out in the lobby. Hopefully, it was
someone who could appreciate this!

    The Green Knight had lead the Legion of Young.Heroes (Lacuna, Apostrophe,
Jive Turkey and Cameo Gonzaga) back to the LNHQ, along with Manga Girl and a
bunch of teenage ex-Goths and used book arcade patrons. Cameo Gonzaga was
talking to Manga Girl about the New Generation Creator manga of the 2020s, and
the Green Knight was looking around warily.

    "Crossover energy increasing," said Apostrophe. "The micro-rifts reach out,
climbing toward the Newtonian light of the macroscale."

    "Now that Lacuna's identified their spectrum, I can see them," said the
Green Knight, focusing their optics. "By Unity, there's hundreds..."

    "Hey, *nerds*!" shouted Merissa, kicking open the lobby doors. "Feast your
eyes on *this*!" She pointed the Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN into the air, at just the
right angle to let the compact fluorescent lights shine off the chrome. So

    "Shit!" The Green Knight's weapons flipped out. The rest of the Legion of
Young.Heroes hopped into slightly awkward, obviously unrehearsed battle poses,
while Manga Girl flashed into a pose that was super-dynamic and cool-looking.

    Most of the bystanders, being long-time citizens of Net.ropolis, quietly
snuck out the doors while the getting was good. But two of the teen girls ran
out, past the net.heroes, and up to Merissa.

    One of them stopped next to her, hands balled up, swaying slightly as she
talked. "So, you kinda brainwashed us, and that's not cool, buuuuut..." She
bounced on her heels. "You're so *stylish*! So *badass*!"

    "Yeah!" said the other girl. "You see what'cha want and you *get* it!"

    "...seriously? I-- I mean, of course!" Merissa hefted the gun and grinned.
"I'm the most badass general of the Beige Order! The youngest ever to get it!
I was so much better than everyone else that they *begged* me to join up!"

    "Oh my *god*." The Green Knight stepped inbetween the girls and Merissa,
getting up in her interpersonal space. "Look, Vector, I don't know what that
thing is--"

    "Ah!" Merissa spun the gun around, showing off the barrel. "This is the
Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN, the finest piece of personal artillery you'll see in *this*
lifetime. The para-rifled barrel super-stabilizes its energic payloads,
allowing for pinpoint accuracy and concentration of effect! With this, you
could destroy your next-door neighbor's house without spilling your drink!"

    The fangirls' eyes went wide, mouths turning into Os of wonder. The nano-
actuators controlling the position of the Green Knight's eyebrow twitched.
"Destroy... your...!?"

    "But that's not all!" The holographic screen flipped around and expanded,
showing a complex data readout on the LYHers, complete with creepy X-rays and
lists of their favorite pizza toppings. "Comprehensive threat ratings, with
information about the target's defenses and the amount of force needed to
stun, disable, knock unconscious, and kill anyone you like!"

    "Okay, that's it!" The Green Knight picked up Merissa ("Hey, what are
you--"), kicked open the revolving door ("That doesn't make sense--"), and
tossed her out with a Wilhelm scream.

    "Right!" they said, dusting off their hands. "Now we *might just* have
enough time to stop the rifts. Lacuna--"

    WHAM! The revolving door slammed open, and Merissa stalked back in. Her
outfit was muddy, her hair was flying every which way, and she was covered in
leaves and twigs from the bushes outside. "Oh. My. God."

    Jive Turkey leaned over to Cameo Gonzaga and whispered, "Thinkin' the big
boss might'a made a SNAFU of things, dig?"

    "I can't *believe* you people!" Merissa's clothes expanded from the inside,
ripping and tearing apart to reveal spiked battle armor. "Can't I *ever* share
cool stuff without people attacking me!? You're all just haters, and I'm gonna
shake you off!" She turned to face them, and as she did, a bright line of
green-blue light ripped open behind her, outlining her silhouette. Bad. Ass.

    "&#*!" said Lacuna. "The rifts are breaching! The final dissolve's begun!"

    The fangirls were jumping up and down and cheering until Manga Girl popped
up and handed them bags of swag. "Thank you for coming! In next week's
episode, the miraculous Merissa fights all the haters, twenty-seven-on-one!
But will her firepower be a match for the Ultimate Sempai? Callipygean Beige
General Merissa: Flash X Destiny~*~Dream! You, too, can fight the turquoise

    The girls nodded and walked out the door, chatting about what would happen
in the next episode and whether or not Kotobukiya would be coming out with a
bishoujo Merissa statue. Manga Girl turned around. Her powers of anime
narration had taken care of that, but to stop this, she'd need some *real*
love-and-justice style!

    The Green Knight was going into Ultimate Battle Mode, all kinds of crazy
cybernetic weapons extending from their body. "Fine! I'm done holding back,
being the responsible leader! TIME TO GO ALL-OUT!"

    Cameo Gonzaga groaned. "Not again!" But Ptolemaic spheres appeared on their
brow as they powered up.

    "Remember what happened with Kid Chasm?" Lacuna spread her hands, the
whispery shadow images of Second Doctor reconstructions appearing between

    Jive Turkey shook his head. "This time, we're all dancin' a Texas
cakewalk." His eyes flashed red-yellow-green.

    "I hear the deaths of Y shuffling in their sleep, the Ebon Skater rolling
along the ends of the world. Ending is at our left shoulder, though her
brother be still absent at the finish of all things." Apostrophe's halo of
letters and symbols swirled like a furious dust devil.

    Around them, space cracked, rifts large and small ripping holes in midair.
The wind that whipped between the worlds blew around papers, trinkets,
clothes, yet an unearthly stillness settled on their skin.

    "Okay, *losers*," said Merissa, hefting the barrel of the Mega-Ultra-
BIGGUN. Flickering spots of energy appeared, sucking themselves into the gun
anime-style. "Let's dance!"

    "Wait wait wait hang on hang on!" Manga Girl ran between the combatants.
"Merissa, this is the wrong thing to do!"

    "...but... it's cool to be really tough and a good fighter who shoots
people. I mean, look at them." Merissa pointed to the Green Knight. "Super
boring before, but now that they've got all those guns and stuff and they're
gonna fight? The new hotness."

    "Okay, well, that's kind of outdated slang but. Is being cool *really* all
you want?"

    Merissa's face darkened. "So what are you saying? That I can't even do that
right?" She shook her head fiercely. "No way! I'm the biggest badass in the
galaxy, and you and Mom and everybody are gonna agree!" With a CHOOM, she sent
a stun shot into Manga Girl's body, knocking her back into a rift!

    The Green Knight shouted, and the battle was joined.


    Over in the LNHQ's Plot Device Room, several net.heroes stood, stunned. The
rift had swallowed the chunk of Beige Midnight, along with Masterplan Lad,
Penultimate Savior, Killswitch, and Pliable Lad, and disappeared. Now, Non-
Judgmental Agnostic, Foreshadowing Lad, Mashup Laq, and the rest of the
alternate-future Saviors of the Net (Continuity's Champion, Kid Remender,
Irony Monger, and Occultism Lord) were just kind of standing there, wondering
what to do next.

    "We are *screwed!" shouted Kid Remender, snapping out of it.

    "Indeed, we have failed," said Occultism Lord. "Best to engage in Plan
Zeta, and evacuate who we can from this existence--"

    "But it *worked*," said Continuity's Champion. He turned and rifled through
the things on the shelves. "If we can find more pieces of story, we can at
least buy ourselves time!"

    "No signals found on that frequency of the electrofictiomagnetic spectrum,"
said Irony Monger. "However, the full bandwidth of stable story radiation is

    "...um," said Mashup Laq, leaning out into the hallway. "Do y'all hear
that? Sort of... zappy, exploding noises?"

    "Also," said Non-Judgmental Agnostic, "I think someone just yelled 'stop
her so we can stop the rifts'. If that helps?" Foreshadowing Lad nodded.

    The Saviors looked at each other and ran out the door.


    Merissa crouched, spun, fired. A volley of shots seemingly missed, only to
hit *behind* the targets and explode with a pyrotechnic shockwave that knocked
them all down. Ha! Classic.

    "&*$@ it!" The Green Knight let loose a barrage of pinpoint missiles,
strafing through the air like an Itano Circus. Half of them disappeared,
flying into a rift that sliced through the air like an open wound, but it
didn't matter; Merissa matched them shot for shot, tiny explosions blossoming
in midair.

    The Saviors skidded around the corner. Merissa turned; the analysis flashed
in front of her eye, and she fired. A burst of energy kicked against Irony
Monger's hyperpolymer skin, and he fell backwards, swallowed up by a rift.

    "Crap! Hello there!" Mashup Laq placed their hands on Occultism Lord and
Foreshadowing Lad's shoulders, and leapt into the fray as Margin Prophet,
Baron of the Next Six Seconds. Merissa let loose a spread of incapacitating
charge, but the target was gone by the time the shot was fired, bouncing and
jinking across the room with perfect predictive power.

    With Merissa distracted, Lacuna began a ritual centered around the spatial
voids of the rifts, hoping to stabilize them for a moment. Unfortunately, this
was when Kid Remender decided to go in, crossbows blazing, shooting silver
bolts surrounded by inexplicable darkness. The shadow sizzled past, disrupting
her magic, rifts pulling her out of existence before she could gasp in

    Merissa liked a target-rich environment, but she could only aim in one
direction at once... or could she? She mentally selected Action Movie Mode and
the Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN split into two, firing different shots in different
directions like a boss! Hell yeah!

    As Kid Remender went down, Continuity's Champion and Jive Turkey charged
her from the sides. The latter attempted to attack her use of 'like a boss' in
internal narration, while the former focused on how it was never really
explained how she survived her appearance in Birth of a Villain; but Merissa
fired off a storm of plasma packets wrapped in bouncy energy, delivering
multiple shots of kinetic force before exploding unpredictably. Both of her
assailants were juggled around, plasma bursts tossing them in the air and
gravity pulling each into a rift.

    A man in a purple uniform with a green cape and "Y" insignia fell out
of a rift and started ranting to himself about postage stamps; Merissa
spun and blasted him with magenta force bolts, knocking him into another
rift altogether. [ See Looniverse Y #14 - Footnote Girl, still hanging
out with the rest of the LNH on Planet Inferior ]

     Foreshadowing Lad had a sudden premonition. He grabbed Non-Judgmental
Agnostic's arm. "This way!" Without hesitation, he dove into a certain rift,
spinning oddly against the current. NJA shrugged - "Why not?" - and jumped in

    Mashup Laq/Margin Prophet dove through the storm with a flying kick. The
air was thick with bullets and with rifts, but somehow, not even one touched
them. Their foot landed lightly on Merissa's chest; she spun, falling to the
floor and just barely avoiding a rift.

    Instantly, the Green Knight was on her, firing sticky balls of immobilizing
fluid and ionic bursts of weapon-disabling energy. Occultism Lord and Cameo
Gonzaga spoke the last syllables of the rituals they'd been preparing, perfect
geometry and demonic might sliding through space towards her, and Apostrophe
floated in the air, ready to deliver the judgment of a dying world.

    And in the half-second before she was trapped, the barrel of the Mega-
Ultra-BIGGUN flipped, and Merissa fired on herself, disappearing in a ball of

    For a moment, the net.heroes hesitated, standing on islands in a sea of
blue-green-gold energy as space, time, and narrative ripped itself apart.

    Then with a KRAKADOOM a wave of energy blew them back. Merissa landed on
the remains of the reception desk, laughing, as one, two, three, four of them
fell into the hungry rifts. "Time energy! I *love* this thing!"

    And a fist hit her in the face. Mashup Laq was there, a whirlwind of
motion, and Merissa struggled to keep up. Her guns kept being where the
prophetic person wasn't, and their close fighting skills were *not quite*
evenly matched - she couldn't even scratch them with the spikes on her armor.
She was being driven back, towards the edge of the disintegrating desk.

    One chance to win it. She fired a wild blast of energy that disappeared
before Mashup Laq could even dodge. Then she filled the space around them with
shot after shot, weaving a desperate pattern. Mashup Laq made their way
through it, spinning, turning, closer, closer--

    Precisely seven seconds after it had disappeared, the blast of time energy
surged through Mashup Laq's body, their powers running out all at once. They
blinked, and Merissa took no chances; a roundhouse punch sent them spinning
into the rifts.

    "YAHOO!" shouted Merissa, rift energy flowing over the desk, flowing over
her body, dragging her into a timeless limbo. "I'M THE COOLEST!"


    Naturally, in a timeless limbo, one doesn't have time to chill out. So on
the other side of the universe, as those who had been at the epicenter of the
rifts popped out onto Planet Inferior one by one, Merissa was still pumped as

    She looked around. Oh, rad! It was the big climax, with the Crossover
Queen's armies behind her and the LNH in front of her. And, oh, hey - was that
Kubrik's Kube in that one lady's hand? Why, yes it was!

    The Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN manifested a trigger, for drama's sake, and she put
her finger on it. "Okay!" she said, pointing the enormous chrome barrel at the
LNHer. "You people had better give me the Kube, or there will be SERIOUS

    The lady raised her finger to her lips, looked at the rest of her team.
Hah! Merissa was in position to blast 'em all!

    "Sure," she said, and tossed the Kube through the air.

    It landed in Merissa's hand. Her fingers closed on it, and POWER shot
through her.

    So much! As much as she'd ever had, as much as she'd ever wanted and more!
She could feel it burning through her veins alongside the adrenaline, pushing
her past a runner's high, her mind expanding into the Kube's patterns. Oh man,
this was the coolest thing ever! She was on top of the world! She could do
anything she wanted - tell off her mom, turn the entire world into goths, get
Firefly back on the air!

    Anything she wanted...

    ...well, she wanted to win, right? But... she had. She'd beaten everybody.

    Actually, looking back at it, that fight was incredibly pointless. She'd
taken out anyone capable of stopping the rifts halfway through - and come to
think, she didn't really care about the rifts. She just wanted to show off her
new stuff.

    ...which she had! Okay, no, that fight totally had a point - being awesome
and showing everybody. Good job, Merissa. That was all she'd ever wanted,

    ....so, then... what... what now? She was the biggest badass - but was she
any bigger of a badass than whoever had this gun before? Did it count if she
couldn't beat them without the gun? She sure couldn't have beat Mashup Laq
without it, which probably meant she couldn't beat the people they'd taken
their powers from...

    Okay, okay, wait. She was... she wanted to...

    Well, if she didn't know what she wanted, she wanted to *know*.

    Merissa looked into the Kube, and wished to know herself. Starting at the
beginning. The Kube complied, and took her back to the beginning...

    Once upon a time, there was a virus named Vector.


    Once upon a time, there was a hero. A woman named Malysa El-lenn Aitch. She
fought evil, and in the end, she died.

    Vector - a virus named Melissa, a villain - was born from her death. But
the villain and the hero within her fought. The plan was that she would simply
make clones; instead, she created new selves, constantly searching for her
true self within them. This was how Merissa had been born, yet another
variation on a theme.

    But which self was she? The question was as soon asked as answered. Through
the Kube, Merissa could see every piece of fanfiction, every bit of fluff and
hardcore lemon, every hurt-comfort slashfic, every crack AU, and she knew what
she was - a Mary Sue.

    Mary Sue, a word with so many meanings it was meaningless. She was every
frustrated fantasy a girl ever had, everything they've ever wanted to be,
every bit of badassery and competence and freedom they've been denied. She was
every piece of bad writing, of confused teenage angst, of unfortunate
idealization. She was every character who was warped, made lesser, to make the
fantasy bigger - like her Kids' Crew, like the fictional characters under her
control, like her goth minions. She'd twisted so many people, trying to
straighten herself out - trying to make herself be loved.

    The pain and guilt overcame her, and she dropped to her knees. But the Kube
flared, and all throughout the multiverse, she could see them - amazing women.

    True power fantasies. Utopian princesses of truth and love. Unstoppable
soldiers of lost causes. Unbeatable teenage girls who would take on any
challenge with a joyous bucktoothed grin.

    Real-life badasses. Scientists, scholars, queens, knights, artists,
explorers - the ones who took that freedom and made it theirs, an
inexhaustible wave, banded together and supporting one another against the
pencil rubber of history.

    She realized what it was she wanted - to be one of them.

    So she was a power fantasy. Well, good! Then she'd be powerful! She'd be
fantastic! She would be so wonderfully awesome that she wouldn't have to make
other people weaker anymore! Instead, she'd make them *stronger*! She would be
a part of a legion of incredible, amazing heroes, and she'd be the best of
all - not just the most badass, but the one who cared the most, helped the
most, and loved the most!

    Merissa rose from her knees. In reality, the whole thing had taken less
than a minute - they'd seen her grasp the Kube, fall, and rise again. Well,
they hadn't seen *anything* yet.

    "Merissa?" said the holographic form of the Crossover Queen. "Careful. The
Kube's power can be overwhelming to those not used to it. You had best give it
to me now." Her voice was patient, maternal. Annoying.

    Merissa looked up at the Crossover Queen. It was weird. She didn't admire
the Queen any less now - she was one of those determined ladies who would keep
fighting until the bitter end. Before, she thought she would be cooler if she
just kind of copied that. But now, she could see that the Queen was making the
same mistake she had - twisting the people around her into what she thought
they should be. "Sorry, Mom, but I think it's time I moved out and got my own
place!" That didn't make a lot of sense, but she turned it into a cool line by
casually tossing the Kube over her shoulder, letting it clatter on the broken
tiles of LAN.os's throne room.

    The Queen's eyes narrowed. "I rescued you, pulled you from the void. I gave
you purpose, and this is how you repay me."

    Poor woman. She didn't understand why people weren't lining up to be helped
by her. "You're not my real mom," said Merissa, and stuck out her tongue.

    The Queen gasped. Burning Bra Lass stifled a snort. Catalyst Lass grinned.
The army broke out into whispering, until the Queen rapped her staff on the
ground. She grew back to great size, looming dramatically over the
battlefield. "Mother or not, I am your commander, and you *will* obey my
orders. Bring the Kube to me."

    "Hang on a minute," said a voice. Out of the crowd stepped Lydia Devin,
growing as she walked until she was eye-to-eye with the image of the Queen.
"I try not to interfere too much. Everybody deserves the chance to write their
own story, y'know? But I don't think these kids really *want* to cross their
story over with yours." She cracked her knuckles. "Why don't you pick on
someone your own size?"

    "Nice," whispered Merissa. Somehow, Lydia really *was* that cool.

    The Crossover Queen raised an eyebrow. "Beware, child. You think I cannot
exercise my power through this avatar? I have drunk the power of Elder Gods,
and you are a very young god indeed."

    "Christ, you really *are* like my sister - except she wouldn't be so
fucking cliche."

    The Queen gave her a flat look. With a wave of her arms, the forcefield
over the LNH expanded, becoming a great dome, like the rain cover of the
ultimate MegaSportsColosseum. With a flash, her holographic form became solid,
outlined in forcefield energy. She turned to face the legions at her feet.
"You who joined my army! You are now members of the Beige Order, defenders of
Usenet, justified in using force against those who would let it be destroyed!
Your first order - capture the Kubrik's Kube, and bring me the traitor!"

    The army cheered, and surged forward. The Legion met them, and the battle
was joined.

    Hundreds, thousands joined the Iliad-esque clash. Dorf fought against Dorf,
the minority who had joined the LNH's side against the great numbers of the
Beige Order. Shining heroes of the present, past and future made war against
monsters and dudebros.

    Some were grim, faces set in weary resolve. Gift-Wrapping Granny shot reams
of wrapping paper around her assailants, angry that she'd had to miss sewing
bee for this. Cliche Dude made some comments about the futility of war. Can-
Handle-Any-Type-of-Change-Except-for-the-Ultimate-Ninja-Wearing-a-Cape Lad met
each foe with equanimity. Others revelled in the battle. Skunk Girl spun,
taking out half a dozen Dorfs with flying kicks and cunning claws, then
stunning half a dozen more with her Skunk Blast. Footnote Girl charged in,
hockey stick at the ready, and cut off a phalanx of snoldiers, or snake
soldiers, and snorriors (snail warriors). Firewire blazed with a fierce
spirit. Far above, the massive forms of Lydia and the Crossover Queen traded
earth-shaking blows. Your favorite character was there too, and did something

    There were some who took their attention off the melee for a moment to
search for the true prize - the Kube. But somehow, they never managed to find
it before being swept up in the brawl again.

    Off in a far corner of the battlefield, Alice Ashdown, AKA the all-
embracing Net.Access, banged uselessly on the pillar of black crystal in which
Victoria was trapped. She slashed at it with Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, hammered
away with John Henry's own, but it was useless. She was trying to use
crossover energy to destroy crossover energy. Oh, her powers were about
crossovers as the freedom to play with ideas, while the Queen's were about
centralizing and controlling intellectual property - but the two were tangled
up together, and one could not destroy the other.

    A hand pressed into her shoulder, and something pressed into her hand. A
voice whispered in her ear, "Quickly. We haven't much time."

    "GAH that's creepy!" She shook off the hand and spun around. It was the
Time Crapper, or, well, *a* Time Crapper, one of a line of cosmic time-
traveling manipulators; some broadly evil, some simply pursuing knowledge. She
had been there for this one's origin - a Vector, one of Merissa's sisters, who
had seen the breadth and depth of life itself and gained a deeper
understanding. [ In Ultimate Mercenary #7 - Footnote Girl, throwing herself
into battle ] She had spied her in the shadows, lurking on the bridge of
LAN.os's ship. Now she was in front of her, and the thing in her hand was -
oh. The Kubrik's Kube, glowing with power. "Why...?"

    "I manipulated LAN.os so that this moment would arrive," said the hooded
figure. "It was snatched from my hands by the Crossover Queen, but at present,
she is balanced out. We must hurry."

    "Hurry where, why?"

    "To finally resolve the cause of the rifts, and determine, once and for
all, if the LNH has a future."

    Sounded cosmic, but - she looked back at the crystal pillar. "I can't leave
her behind!"

    "Then bring her into your plotline, as you have been so afraid to do."

    Net.Access hesitated, then nodded. With a groaning, wheezing noise, she
became a timeship once more, unfolding into eleven dimensions, and the black
crystal became her central rotor, rising and falling as she leapt back into
the void.

    The Time Crapper manipulated the controls expertly, doing the work of six
alone. Net.Access rotated and revolved through the dimensions, and could feel
the Kubrik's Kube pulsing as she did, getting closer and closer to - what?

    The timeship's coordinates ticked steadily downward. The Time Crapper's
winding path zigged and zagged around planets, eras, empires and galaxies, but
always with a distinct purpose. Net.Access wondered if that purpose was benign
or malign. "How did you find this path?"

    "As the multiverse died, I hid. As it was reborn, I watched it form." A
slight smile formed beneath the hood. "I learned the technique from the same
fiction from which you take your form."

    That was just great. She was careening through space, driven by someone who
would risk the extinction of all reality just to forward her personal goals.
But... Net.Access was driven just as much, by curiosity. So she drove on,
following the given path to the end.

    Finally, they were there - zero by zero by zero by zero by zero by zero by
zero by zero by zero by zero by zero, the precise center of the
Omnilooniverse. Her humanoid form, wrapped around the timeship's interior,
manifested in the void, protected by a bubble of Looniversal stability and
earthlike conditions.

    The space around her would have seemed like an utter void to anyone who
didn't have the ability to sense the churling whirl of probability. But there
was one dominating structure - a Platonic solid rendered in eleven dimensions,
an impossibly complex puzzle made of lines and angles and planes and cubes and
hybercubes and hyper-hypercubes and hyper-hyper-hypercubes and so on up the
ladder. "This is it, isn't it," said Net.Access. "The Kubrik's Kube. But..."

    The Time Crapper pulled out what looked like an ancient scroll. [ See LNH
Volume 2 #50, because we don't have room for any more exposition - Footnote
Girl, putting a Gogmagoggog in two headlocks at once ] With a flick of the
wrist, it unrolled - and kept unrolling, covering the floor of the timeship's
console room. It was covered in diagrams, showing hands turning the kind of
Kubrik's Kube that Net.Access had held - that she still held, in a chamber
deep within her transcendent spaces, far away from the Crapper.

    "The smaller Kubes are reflections, extrusions into three-dimensional
space," said the Time Crapper. [ I was wrong, apparently - Footnote Girl,
whacking a Mer-Yeti with a hockey stick ] "They channel the greater Kube's
power, and can, in the right place and time, be used to manipulate it."

    "...and you want me to manipulate *that*? Because you said it was a good
idea?" Net.Access's voice rang skeptically in her interior.

    The Time Crapper shrugged. "It is your decision. But see-- rift energy
still seethes over its surface. This existence has been resurrected, but the
cycle is ready to begin once more."

    "And whatever's in there will stop it, huh..." She sighed. "And the only
way I can find out for sure is to do it." Inside her, manipulator arms picked
up the Kube and started twisting.

    At first, the manipulations seemed random. But her trans-temporal sensors
were trained on the great Kube, and soon, she could see the effect. Faces,
sections, hyper-hypercubes turned and slid this way and that. She realized
there were gaps, briefly witnessed, hints of a great hyperdimensional space -
surrounding a great hyperdimensional object.

    Turn, turn, turn. She could feel her mind turning as well. In a flash of
inspiration, she realized - the thing wasn't trapped inside; the Kube had
grown *around* it. It was the true center of the Omnilooniverse, the thing out
of which all the LNH worlds had grown. What was in there? What were her
patient rotations and revolutions working to reveal?

    One more turn. The top of the Kube slid one way, the bottom the other, and
the whole thing unfolded, like a patiently-constructed origami flower, or one
of those Transformers where you press a button and it springs open. Out
floated a great, irregular crystal, the size of a wandering city. A light
shone somewhere within, reflecting and refracting off internal facets, casting
off rainbows in all directions. Net.Access could feel inspirations radiating
from it like sunlight on a summer day. "It's a piece of story..."

    "Yes," said the Time Crapper. "Specifically, an Ending, left untold since
time immemorial - since the very first LNH story."

    Net.Access gasped, soundless in the void. "The Cosmic Plot Device Caper..."

    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..."

    Lydia was having a hard time.

    Oh, she had access to enough power to defeat the Crossover Queen - disperse 
her avatar, get rid of the forcefields, send her army packing. Hell, that
would be the easy part.

    The hard part was control. The Queen would resist with every bit of cosmic
might she had, and Lydia would have to use a fully divine level of power in
response. But her power was deeply, utterly, unapologetically chaotic, and
using so much would have unpredictable and probably very bad effects. And she
*really* didn't want to blow up another universe. Especially one that had just
been torn apart and put back together.

    "You are noble in your efforts to protect this place from your own
presence," said the Crossover Queen, her avatar tagging Lydia with a very
realistic-feeling punch in the face. "But change is coming, and you cannot
hold it back! Yield!"

    Lydia wiped the blood from her lip. "Not to you, bitch." Well, then. She'd
just have to hold out until the real heroes could take care of it.

    Down on the battlefield, Merissa was fighting alongside the Legion of
Young.Heroes, Mashup Laq and Manga Girl. They were kicking butts in a really
cool way that maybe I'll come back and describe later, because I'm pretty well
hopped up on cough medicine right now. Wait, is that too meta? I mean, I know
the last segment was pretty meta, talking directly about copyright and what is
and isn't allowed on RACC, but there's a difference between the characters
breaking the fourth wall and the narrator just addressing the reader directly.
I have one friend who is okay with the former, but the latter just breaks his
immersion. Of course, he has unique issues - as do most readers, really. Nice
guy, though. Really good roommate... what were we talking about?

    The Green Knight glanced up and shook their head. "We've lost the
narrator." They loosed sticky balls of immobilizing fluid, sticking half a
dozen Dorfs in place, ionic bursts of energy disabling their weapons.

    Merissa grimaced, looking up at the Crossover Queen. "We're gonna lose more
than that if we can't drive back Mo-- the Queen. Believe me, the Beige Order
doesn't give up - not as long as *she* thinks this is a battle she can win."

    Cameo Gonzaga looked over their shoulder, the power of opposing concepts
gathering between their hands. "And if she doesn't?"

    "Then she'll order a retreat, to save her forces for another day." Merissa
leapt in the air, landing on the back of an Imperial Spambot. "She's
annoyingly careful that way." The Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN thundered, half a dozen
bursts of energy blasting into the pinpoint weak spot between the Spambot's
shoulders, and it fell, smoking. "Guess you don't become a cosmic overlord
without thinking of this stuff."

    Manga Girl shouted, "BURNING SPIRIT!" She leapt in the air and came down
with a jump kick that left a line of light across six perfectly-arranged
troopers. They spun around for a moment, then the light exploded across their
bodies. She landed in a perfect crouch, spinning around and flashing two
fingers in a V. "Woo!"

    Mashup Laq gave Manga Girl a standing ovation. "That was really-- hey,
what's that?"

    "Ara?" MG looked up into the hazy sky of Planet Inferior. It seemed like
some kind of meteor was streaking across it, a shockwave of full-spectrum
light trailing behind. She squinted. Was that a humanoid form at the center of
the light?

    The shockwave hit the battlefield, and in a multicolored burst, the LNH3k
appeared, rolling along the ground. Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior blinked,
looking up at the sky. "Oh hey, it worked! Neat!"

    The Green Knight spun, aiming their weapons at the LNH3k'rs. "Who goes

    Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats rolled to a crouch, eyes flicking back
and forth. She straightened up and dusted off her tuxedoesque uniform. "The
heroes from the future, of course."

    GK's eyebrow-actuators rose. "*The* future? We've got half a dozen futures
here at least." They crossed their arms. "Or are you trying to call yourselves
the 'real' future?"

    "Hm! Bit defensive, aren't you?" said Captain PROoH, crossing her arms
right back.

    "Yeah, sorry," said Cameo Gonzaga, stepping inbetween them. "She's still a
little peeved about having to team up with Merissa right after getting her

    "*Cameo*," said GK, vocalizers accurately synthesizing extreme peevishness.

    CG sighed. "Righto, boss." They stepped out of the way.

    "Anyway," said Captain PROoH, waving her hand dismissively. "Don't worry.
That's not what I meant at all - we're all equally valid futures."

    "Well, that's good to hea--"

    "We're just not all equally *heroic*, is all."

    "--!!!" The Green Knight leaned in, optics darkening, the flames of the
battle glinting off their polished surfaces. "And just what do you mean by

    "Just that one of our groups actually managed to accomplish a mission,
while the other wandered around a while before getting summarily beaten by the
bad guy." Captain PROoH examined her nails.

    "Okay, first of all, she *cheated*--"

    "Sure, keep thinkin' that!" shouted Merissa, making it rain (plasma).

    "--and second of all, it was instrumental to this huge cosmic-character-
growth thing! So why," said GK, getting up in Captain PROoH's face, "are you
messing with me in front of my crew?"

    Captain PROoH straightened her back and looked GK in the optics. "Because I
don't much like aimless, untrained adolescents getting in the way of

    "Adolescents!? You're the ones shoving a literal five-year-old into the
fray! I should turn you in for child endangerment!"

    "Oh, is that so? Well, tough enby, step up and we'll see if you have what
it takes!"

    "That's ENOUGH!" Mashup Laq put their hands on their shoulders and pushed
them apart. "You're playing right into the Crossover Queen's hands! She loves
hero-versus-hero fights like these - she's probably planning to release
Secrevergence: LNH3k v. Legion of Young.Heroes as soon as she takes all of us
out and conquers Looniverse-A!"

    "...hmmmm," hmmm'd Manga Girl, tapping her chin thoughtfully.

    "And I'm having a *really* *great* time keeping the Beige Order off our
backs while you two bicker, thanks for not asking!" snarked Merissa, spraying
waves of force to knock over a pair of Dorf hero-killers-in-training.

    The Green Knight pushed away. "All right, all right... you're right. But
she kept pushing at me! What gives, Captain!?"

    Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats gazed at the ground. "...yes, that was
very unprofessional." She looked at Punctual Death Lad, who looked away. "I
had my reasons... well, my excuses. But those don't really matter." She
straightened up and held out a hand to GK. "Apologies."

    GK looked at the hand, shrugged, and shook it. "De nada."

    "Oh, man! This gives me a *great* idea!" Manga Girl looked up. The
Crossover Queen had formed a shining disc of energy in front of her. Lydia was
battering at it with fists covered in star-stuff. "Mashup Laq - if you had two
streams of energy to mash up, rather than just the powers of two heroes, could
you do it?"

    "I-- well, I've never tried, but... I guess it'd be about the same
principle?" Mashup Laq looked at their hands, accessing their internal
'database' of powers. "Probably the same principle. It's all energy patterns
in the end. ...I think."

    "Awesome! Okay, guys, here's what we're gonna do..."

    Soon, everything was ready. Merissa took a deep breath. Remember, these are
your teammates, and this is their plan - you can trust them. Besides, you
don't even have the hard part - just the awesome part with a lot of
explosions! YEAH!

    She swung up the barrel of the Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN and fired a shot at the
Crossover Queen. It splashed harmlessly off her forcefield avatar, but she
stiffened and turned, pushing Lydia away. "Child! You dare try to hurt me?"

    "Oh, no way!" Merissa grinned. "I just wanted to get your attention!" She
stepped out of the way to reveal Mashup Laq, with Manga Girl standing behind
them, the Legion of Young.Heroes lined up to their left, the LNH3k lined up to
their right. Manga Girl's theme music started playing in the background. It
had lots of guitars, and Masaaki Endoh screaming the lyrics.

    "Ready one!" shouted Manga Girl, and stretched out her left hand. "Legion
of Young.Heroes! Give me your story!" One by one, the LYHers closed their
eyes. Flickers of creative energy started flowing out of them, forming a cloud
like fireflies in the air. Mashup Laq put out their hand, and the energy
started flowing towards them, curling and swirling together into a single

    "Ready two!" Manga Girl stretched out her right hand. "LNH3k! Give me your
story!" The LNH3k'rs closed their eyes, flickering with energy and sending it
out in a stream. Mashup Laq caught it, the twin streams of energy flowing into
their body. Their eyes became subtly luminous.

    The Crossover Queen frowned. "Enough!" She pointed a finger, and a beam of
force blasted forth--

    --and Lydia caught it and tossed it right back. "Eyes front, Queenie!"

    The Queen's form wavered and rippled, as did the dome that held them
trapped. She screamed in rage with the voice of a busted amplifier.

    "Let's cross over!" Manga Girl raised her hands in the air. "SHOUT IT OUT!"
Her music went into the bridge, with lots of squeedly and meedly.

    "Direct legacies!" shouted the LNH3k, and the stream of energy flowing from
them into Mashup Laq flared, filling with bright colors.

    "Complicated influences!" shouted the Legion of Young.Heroes, and their
stream of energy flared, sparkling and twisting.

    The Crossover Queen swept out her hands, holding her form steady through
sheer force of will. "Beige Order! Stop them!"

    The assembled force of monsters, aliens, and jerks swept towards the small
circle - and Merissa was there, forcing them back, sending bouncy-balls of
force one way, sweeping another with time energy, using every trick in the
book to hold them off.

    "Climactic battles!" cried the LNH3k, and Mashup Laq's eyes flared.

    "Small intimate moments!" yelled the LYH, and Mashup Laq's skin shone.

    "Continuity references!"
    "Emotional consequences!"
    "An association of professionals!"
    "An overemotional found family!"

    Manga Girl thrust her arms out, the twin streams of energy erupted, and
Mashup Laq became a rapidly expanding ball of light, engulfing the
battlefield. "ROCK YOUR MANGA SOOOOOOOUL!" shouted Masaaki Endoh.

    The Crossover Queen's forcefields flared and broke, dissipating in the
wind. "Damn you!" her holographic form shouted. "One day, you will rue your
selfish folly! Crossover Citadel! Gather the Order!" Then she was gone.

    The light faded. The Beige Order was gone. Mashup Laq fell over, and a
prestige-format hardcover fell to the ground before her, titled "LYH3k: Two
Futures One Spirit Teamup Festival".

    Merissa smirked, hefting the Mega-Ultra-BIGGUN over her shoulder. "Looks
like she got beaten by a bunch of kids."


    Pliable Lad knew something had gone wrong. All the assurances that
continuity said he'd make it back all right evaporated as he clung to the
Ending, the rumbling chunk of story spiraling helplessly out of control.

    Oh, well. At least they'd saved the universe. At least Tour Guide Girl and
Echo Lad and Kid Chivalry would be all right. At least the LNH had a future.

    He wondered how long it took to die in space.

    Then something flickered in the corner of his eye. Pliable Lad turned his
head and spied a streak of light. Some kind of meteor, drawn towards the

    Whatever it was, it was heading towards him! Some tiny part of his mind
pondered the benefits of being exploded versus other fates, but most of him
was trying to figure out if this suit had any kind of rockets or other means
of last-minute escape.

    Then he realized - at the center of the streak, there was a humanoid form.
A strange, muscular silhouette. It was yelling - somehow, he could hear it
through his spacesuit...


    The streak resolved into a man in a bright red jumpsuit with metal spikes
on it. Pliable Lad recognized him, sort of, what was his name - one of the
*old* old LNHers, before even his time - Plot King!

    Plot King put one hand on the Ending and used the other to give Pliable Lad
a thumbs-up. Then he concentrated, aura of sheer Plot boiling, synchronizing
his energies with the unfinished plots around him. Pli could see the
unmitigated effort tensing his face. (Unless he always looked like that.)

    Then in a single flexing of his muscles, the energy was set free.
Net.Access disappeared from Copyright Kid and Trademark Lass's hands. The
black crystal broke, and Victoria embraced Alice. The passengers of the
timeship were sent along cosmic paths, ending up where they needed to be. And
the Ending changed its course, heading straight for the rifts at massive

    The last thing Pliable Lad heard before it hit was "AND THE LNH SHALL NEVER


    At just that relative moment, in a fairly nice apartment in a reasonably
nice neighborhood of Sea.alt.le, Christopher Waid-David, the man who had once
been the indefatigable Pliable Lad, made an "oog" noise and fell off the

    Since they'd been in the middle of watching Pacific Rim for the umpteenth
time, this alarmed Jennifer Marie Albin, AKA the former Tour Guide Girl, and
she helped him into the kitchen for a glass of water.

    Coughing a bit, he sat down. "No, no, hon, I'm okay. It's just-- just
remembered a time-travel adventure all at once."

    "Oh, did the Ottobindervitch effect catch up with you?"

    He raised an eyebrow at her.

    "Hey, you're not the only one who had solo adventures back in the day." She
winked. "Remind me to tell you about the time I gave Menelik the First a tour
of Egypt." She peered out into the living room, where a calico sat on the arm
of the couch, narrowing her eyes in acknowledgment. "As long as we're taking a
break, I'm going to feed the cat and give you a chance to process this. Be
back in a bit. C'mon, Panta~"

    Pli sat-- no. Chris sat back, thinking back to those days, twenty years
ago, twenty minutes ago. The memories were still piercingly clear, but he knew
they would fade with time. Let's see, that was during the whole Omaha Project
thing, before Echo Lad-- heh.

    Well, there had been a lot of pain. But it had been endured, for the right
reasons. And when he - they - had left, it stuck.

    Being thrown back into that excitement, just for a moment... it was, well,
*exciting*. His net.heroing days were something he was proud of. But it always
seemed more exciting when he looked back on it; when it was happening, it was
usually confusing and unpleasant. The memories were fond, but he was good with
his life now.

    Still... He got out his phone and dialed. "Kid Anarky? Hey! How are things
going? Yeah, no, I was just thinking about the old days..."


   Masterplan Lad burst through the revolving door of the LNHQ. "Look out! The
rifts are-- oh."

   Victoria, Alice (AKA Net.Access), and Manga Girl were all sitting on a long
couch that the LNHQ had decided was going to take up one corner of its lobby,
watching The Grand Budapest Hotel. Alice and Victoria were snuggling, and
Manga Girl was braiding Victoria's hair.

    "Yeah, that's all over now," said Victoria, pausing the movie.

    "Thanks for the tip, though!" said Alice, sitting up. "Couldn't have saved
the multiverse without you."

    MPL sighed and flopped on the couch next to them. "Yes, well, you're quite
welcome, I suppose." He stretched out, hooking his umbrella over the back of
the couch.

    "So," said Manga Girl, tying little ribbons in MPL's goatee, "what happened
after you fell into the rift?"

    "Well--" He looked down at the ribbons, then shrugged. "Well, I ended up
back in 2012 with no memory of anything after we entered Hypertext Time. [ In
LNH Volume 2 #50 - Footnote Girl, getting a pedicure ] I got swept up in
fighting the Dorf invasion, and thereafter stuck with the LNH, waiting to
catch up with my own timeline."

    "Huh. So why weren't you there in all those 'entire active roster of the
LNH' scenes?" asked Victoria, giving Alice half of her green tea Kit-Kat.

    "Right before the cascade started, I got an anonymous tip that Per Annum
was going to steal bus schedules as part of some kind of inane plan to steal
time itself." MPL scowled. "I spent the entire cascade in a bus station in
central Pennsylva.net! Incidentally, Wilkes-Barre is a dive." He shook his
head. "After the Ottobindervitch effect hit and my memories caught up with me,
I tried to call Parking Karma Kid or somesuch to pick me up, but, of course,
anyone who could have was on Planet Inferior. Thus, I took the first bus back
to Net.ropolis."

    "Welp, you made it," said Alice, handing him half of her half.

    "Indeed," said MPL, nibbling on the candy. "So, how did the cascade end?"

    "Well," said Manga Girl, pulling out a set of storyboards displaying the
events in question, "Net.Access and a bunch of old characters and Net.Hippies
flew into the Friend Zone just before the multiverse exploded. But they
brought it back using love, science, magic, pliability, force of personality,
and obviousness. Then Victoria rescued Alice and they're going out now and
it's really cute!"

    Masterplan Lad laughed. "Well, finally."

    "Oh, shut up," grumped Victoria, nuzzling into Alice's hair with a slight

    "Token Girl stopped Catalyst Lass from going Dark Phoenix, and then the
Crossover Queen showed up! But her computer virus semi-daughter stopped her
from getting the Kubrik's Kube, and Lydia punched her in the face until me and
the LYH and the LNH3k and Mashup Laq could manga her away."

    MPL sucked air through his teeth. "I was wondering when she'd enter the
main storyline. That's an ongoing metaplot if I ever heard one."

    "Alice had to go to the center of the Omnilooniverse with the Time Crapper
so she could solve the Kube and get the prize inside. The Saviors of the Net
wanted to use it for arguments about continuity, but Non-Judgmental Agnostic
knew that wouldn't work, so she sent it home with Pliable Lad. Which worked
because of yet another character from umpty years ago who fit really well
thematically, but seriously, did we really have room for them in the plot?"


    "Oh, okay. Anyway, the giant blast of plot energy at the climax sent
everybody back to Net.ropolis, though we haven't seen the Saviors of the Net.
Doctor Stomper said the rifts have disappeared. The Crossover Queen's still
out there, but we've got our cosmic guys back, so hopefully we'll be prepared
for whatever she's got in store."

    Masterplan Lad nodded. "Very well. It looks like everything's back to the
status quo, such as it is."

    "Oh, and Merissa's in the Peril Room with Ultimate Ninja for her test to
join the team!"


[ See the upcoming Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #58.5.ENDING! - Footnote
Girl, not getting paid enough for these plugs ]


    The underground headquarters of the Net.ropolis cell of the LNH-Readers-
Who-Are-Sick-To-Death-With-These-Damn-Neverending-Events Liberation Front was
abuzz with activity. Agent Reed Reedly approached the board that listed
currently-unfinished LNH event storylines. He took a thick marker and crossed
Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade That Will Probably Never Have an Ending
off... and sighed at just how much of the list was still left.

    "So, the Writers are finally finishing their storylines," said Agent Johnny

    "That's what they say," said Reed.

    "You believe 'em?"

    Reed blew out his breath in a pfft. "Not a chance - unless we prod 'em
along." He got out his Not-Quite-As-Big-But-Still-Very-Large-BIGGUN and cocked
it. "It's time to start our next campaign."


    Victoria stood in the corridor, facing the office door.

    She'd told the others that she needed to see how much money was in her LNH
pension (which had been accumulating ever since her not-yet-published
appearance in the Infinite Leadership Crisis). But really, she just didn't
feel comfortable talking to them about this yet. Even though each of them, in
their own separate ways, had been through the same thing - being ripped away
from their own pasts.

    And now, her past was on the other side of this door, and she was
hesitating at the threshold. Right. No more thinking and rethinking and
overthinking. Action.

    She opened it and went in. "Sir?"

    Fearless Leader looked up from his papers, eyebrows lifted - he probably
wasn't used to getting honorifics. "Yes, ah... Forsaken Lass?"

    Ahhhhh... this was going to be painful. "I should..." But she straightened
up, and looked him in the eye. "I have to give you a post-mission report."

    "Ah, yes." He turned back to his notes. "I did want to talk to you about
that morality-reversed Looniverse..."

    "Not... *that* mission." It was hard not to look away. "The mission to
Topphorti. The counterstrike after OMAR's attack on Net.ropolis." [ In Flame
Wars IV - Footnote Girl, not envying her right now ]

    Fearless Leader blinked. He looked up at her, and she could see a flash of
anger - but it was overtaken by reserve, and resolve. He steepled his fingers.
"I can't say that I recall any such mission."

    "No... you wouldn't." She swallowed. Hurry up and get it over with. "The
objective was to send a small, covert strike team to destroy OMAR's heart.
Finish what we started. Send a message." Breathe. Don't forget to breathe. "We
managed to make it to the surface, despite heavy resistance. Down into the
warrens and tunnels beneath. That was where we met him. Flipseid." Deep
breath. Eyes focused. Say it.

   "The entire team is dead. Including myself." It's out. Don't stop. "We...
Flipseid's Discomega Effect sent us to Limbo - erased us from history. I only
got out because of this..." She laughed, choked back hysterical cackling.
"This stupid plot device pulled me out. Who I was is dead. I'm... I regret...
I regret to say I don't remember who my teammates were. But... they served
with honor." Just stop there. That's enough.

    Fearless Leader's expression hadn't changed, but the lines had drawn
tighter, and his eyes had softened. He stood up and walked out from behind his
desk. Victoria tensed, but he stopped in front of her. Standing straight, he

    "Stand down, soldier... you've done well."


    Energy crackled in the void, and in a burst of light, Plot King appeared,
steaming with strange particles and interdimensional vibrations.

    He shook himself out, flexing long-disused muscles. He could feel the rifts
dwindling, the plot mending itself. Tsk; the hubris of Manga Man showed up
even in the latest generation. Ah well.

    Plot King had been taken by surprise by the Crossover Queen, held, drained,
and left in isolation, but he held no thought of revenge. Life was too short,
and there were too many worlds to explore.

    Where was he? It was rich with new life and new ideas. He focused his plot-
vision at the planet below. Ah! The burgeoning worlds of Nigerian cinema -
rife with storytelling potential.

    Time to go exploring!


Report LA-11814. Prepared by the Reality Auditor, Superhuman Worlds division,
Net.Worlds department. Private to the Chancellor Wyatt Ferguson at the Council
of Ordered Realities.

Agent Psychovant was sent to collect data on the multiverse-splitting threat.
Its observations were incomplete, as a byproduct of said threat. However,
secondary observation has indicated that the threat has ceased.

Multiverse-level threats appear regularly from the net.worlds. They are
endlessly chaotic, and have been increasingly encroaching on our domain. We do
not currently have the resources available to stem this encroachment.

However, an ordering factor internal to these worlds has appeared. If such a
factor were encouraged, the levels of order within and without would increase.

Recommended actions: Supply resources and aid to the Crossover Queen, as
available. Cut off resources and aid to those who oppose the Crossover Queen,
as opportunities allow...


    It was just about time to go. The Legion of Young.Heroes and the LNH3k were
shaking hands and saying goodbye. The Net.Hippies were getting ready to leave
the twenty-first century to its own devices for a while. Everyone agreed, it
was time to get back to usual life, such as it was in the weirdness of the

    Well, almost everybody. Non-Judgmental Agnostic was hunched over a
clipboard, furiously filling forms. With a flourish, she signed at the bottom,
and handed the clipboard to Master Roster Man, who tipped his hat and took it
off to enter into the wiki.

    "You sure you want to stay in the present?" said Foreshadowing Lad, filling
out a different form. "Not that I'm not looking forward to having you around,
now that I'm back on the active list!"

    "For now, anyway," said NJA, putting her hands on her hips and looking
around. "I think I could really make a difference here! Besides, it's not like
anybody's going to write more stuff in my timeline."

    "I dunno - Arthur never really abandons an idea," said FL, handing his
clipboard to Library Lad.

    "True. Either way!" she said. She stretched, popping her back, and looked
around. "So I've been wanting to try the taco salad cheesecake..."

    "I've got a feeling the cafeteria is this way," he said, taking her hand.
They walked into the cheesecake-heavy future together.

    Not far away, Lydia Devin stood, looking a bit like an uncomfortable guest
at a party. "Well," she said, "I guess I'll get goin'... mosey along... wait,
no, not that. Forget I said that."

    "Hi!" trilled Catalyst Lass from right behind her.

    "GAH!" said Lydia. "You know, it's not supposed to be possible to *make me
jump out of my skin*!"

    "Don't worry about that," said Cat. "I just wanted to thank you for helping
out on this mission."

    "Oh, well," said Lydia. "Don't mention it. One less cosmic threat means one
less headache for me."

    "You knoooow," said Cat, leaning eagerly, "the part in the FAQ about
omnipotent characters not being allowed to join the LNH was taken out with the
last revision..."

    "Heh. Well, my first career as a superhero didn't turn out so great. But
I'll be around, if you need me. Also, HEY LOOK OVER THERE"

    "Huh?" Cat turned, then turned back, and Lydia was gone. "Oh, wow!"

    Lydia peered around the corner. "Heh, heh. Works every time. ...right, I
should go before I embarrass myself." She poofed away.

    Down at the other end of the corridor, Anti-Christ Lad was shaking Captain
Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats's hand. "Apologies that we did not have a true
team-up. Perhaps we shall meet again, in some fateful year."

    Dr. Turn On-Tune In-Drop Out shook the Green Knight's hand. "Good job
grokkin' the cosmic friendship vibe. I gotta read your mag."

    "C'mon," said Burning Bra Lass, holding open the Time Door. "We're not
tryin' to de-entropize the whole outdoors!"

    The two Net.Hippes waved goodbye. They put their arms around each other's
backs and walked through the shining gate, closing it behind them.

    Captain PROoH crossed her arms and nodded. "So... do you ship it as much as
I do?"

    "Oh hell yeah." The Green Knight high-fived her. "So, uh, thanks for coming
through when it counted."

    "You didn't do so badly yourself." Captain PROoH grinned. "I suppose
there's room for a lot of different approaches in the superhero genre."

    "Especially ones where you don't just tell the reader the moral." GK
smirked. "But yeah, I think we can work together. Or apart, I guess, once we
go back home."

    "Just a moment." Captain PROoH took off her top hat and waved her hand over
it, fingers curling theatrically. "Nothing up my sleeve..." She pulled out a
white plastic device, shaped like a bunny, with a red button for an eye.
"Presto! A communicator tuned to the LNH3k's team frequency. Not sure how to
get it to communicate across timelines, but..."

    "Oh, rad." GK popped open a panel on their arm and tucked it inside. "Let's
see, how about..." They pulled out a business card for the Pizza Pit. "I
recorded Apostrophe doing this once..." Hand moving precisely, they drew a
complicated rune in the blank space. The ink sizzled slightly as they lifted
up the pen. "Symbol of Communication Across the Veil. Tear it apart and, well,
*something* will happen."

    "Thanks!" Captain PROoH peered around. "...hug?"

    "...yeah, hug." They embraced quickly and bounced away, turning and waving
as they went off to rejoin their respective teams.

    The Legion of Young.Heroes was waiting out back of the LNHQ. The Green
Knight walked up "Okay, people, let's get going before we have to watch our
parents kissing. Lacuna, are you locked onto home?"

    "Yeah, found it right off," said the mage of the unmade. "The next issue's
late, so it looks like we can pick up right where we left off."

    "Heh," heh'd GK, shaking their head. "I guess that's just how writers are."

    Cameo Gonzaga was rubbing their ear between thumb and forefinger, looking
pensive. Jive Turkey poked them lightly on the shoulder. "Sup, intaglio?"

    CG shook their head. "Oh, just thinking. The Beigewar will still happen, in
this timeline. But with the Devastator on the other side..."

    "Yeah. ...d'you think she'll still be the one who kills the Queen?"

    "Man," they said, as the group disappeared into the undecided future. "If
I've learned *anything* from this, it's that you never know what the Ending's
gonna be."


Ending theme: "The Alchemy of Love" (from Tenchi Muyo! In Love; written by
Christopher Franke, performed by Nina Hagen with Rick Jude)

                         --^v^v^v-Those Present-v^v^v^--

                            Created by Arthur Spitzer
< Non-Judgmental Agnostic                                  Foreshadowing Lad >
>  The LNH-Readers-Who-Are-Sick-To-Death-With-These-Damn-Neverending-Events  <
<                              Liberation Front                              >
> Agent Reed Reedly                        The Saviors of the Net (original) <
<                          The Legion of Net.Hippies                         >
> Anti-Christ Lad                                           Burning Bra Lass <
<                       Doctor Turn On-Tune In-Drop Out                      >
> Can-Handle-Any-Type-of-Change-Except-for-the-Ultimate-Ninja-Wearing-a-Cape <
<                                     Lad                                    >

                             Created by Scott Eiler
< Psychovant                                       Chancellor Wyatt Ferguson <
>                        The Council of Ordered Worlds                       >
< The Planet of Amateur Contract Law                      The Amateur Lawyer <
>                           Kristi the Animal Girl                           >

                            Created by Andrew Perron
< The Legion of Young.Heroes                                       The LNH3k >
> The Green Knight                         Captain Pulls-Rabbits-Out-of-Hats <
< Cameo Gonzaga                                                 Irony Mantis >
> Lacuna                                                  Punctual Death Lad <
< Apostrophe                                                 Cheesecake Lass >
> Jive Turkey                                 Kid Enthusiastic Double-Junior <
<                           The Ununnilium Stranger                          >
> Agent Susan Susannah                                          Chaos Theory <
< Killswitch                                                 Mister Morrison >
> Mashup Laq                                                        Firewire <

                            Created by Adrian McClure
<                  The Saviors of the Net (alternate future)                 >
> Occultism Lord                                       Continuity's Champion <
< Kid Remender                                                  Irony Monger >
>                             Penultimate Savior                             <
< Forsaken Lass                                                Manga Girl II >
>                               Masterplan Lad                               <
< The Spambots                                                        LAN.os >
> Doc Nostalgia                           Atomic Rabbit (Tooniverse version) <
<       The Spork-Wielding Assassin From Jesse Willey's Grocery List #11     >
>                                 Simplicity                                 <

                            Created by Saxon Brenton
< Net.Access                                                         Merissa >
> Time Crapper IV                                       Gift-Wrapping Granny <
<                                Footnote Girl                               >

                           Created by Dave Van Domelen
<                               Fearless Leader                              >

                              Created by Rob Rogers
<                               Vector/Melissa                               >

                          --^v^v^v-Those Past-v^v^v^--

                                Created by wReam
< Self-Righteous Preacher                                     Ultimate Ninja >
>                All-Knowing Last-Chance Whiner Destiny Woman                <
< Adamant Authority-on-Everything                   Sister State-the-Obvious >
>                                Cannon Fodder                               <
                          | Not Reserved/Free For Use |

                           Created by Vernon H. Harmon
<                               Bad-Timing Boy                               >
                                | Free For Use |

                             Created by Andrew Foltz
<                           Lydia Devin/The Goddess                          >
                             | Used With Permission |

                         Created by Jeff "Drizzt" Barnes
<                             The Crossover Queen                            >
                       | Not Reserved/Reserved by Adrian |

                             Created by Mike Escutia
<                                 Pliable Lad                                >
                             | Used With Permission |

                           Created by Tara Lynn O'Shea
<                                 Token Girl                                 >
                                | Not Reserved |

                            Created by Elisabeth Riba
<                                Catalyst Lass                               >
                                | Free For Use |

                              Created by T.M. Neeck
<                               Doctor Stomper                               >
                                | Free For Use |

                            Created by Jef Kolodziej
<                                 Cliche Dude                                >
                                | Free For Use |

                              Created by Ted Brock
<                                 Skunk Girl                                 >
                                | Free For Use |

                       Created by Todd "Scavenger" Kogutt
<                                  Plot King                                 >
                             | Used With Permission |


Author's Notes: And we're finally done! Relatively efficiently for one of our
modern-day cascades, too - seventeen months. Now, let's see what else we can
get done!

I realized that Plot King was perfect for a story about finishing plots and
just kinda jammed him in there! <3 I think he works well thematically, even if
it's yet another element introduced to an overstuffed story at the last

All of my new characters from this cascade are Not Reserved, though Mashup Laq
is really the only one who's going to be "around" on a regular basis. Arthur,
going forward, where would you put Non-Judgmental Agnostic and Foreshadowing
Lad in terms of usability?

And keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming entry for HCC54: The Last Days of
Just Another Multi-Writer Cascade That Will Probably Never Have an

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, epilogue-tastic!

Next Week:  Some Epilogues?!

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

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