Retcon Midnight
Chapter Four: "Continuity Unleashed"

by Drizzt
© 1994

Seething energies raged and pulsed as he streaked toward the nine Rings. Even from here, Rath could feel their energies like a festering sore in his side, the retcotheric energies stirRing memories of something similar. He had felt the energies before... but then they had not been quite as strong...

No matter. Somewhere in the savage tangle that his mind had become, there still lurked the impulse... no, the need to defend against retcons. And before him was the greatest concentration of retcotheric energies he had ever encountered.

Dr. Armaggeddon sensed Rath long before he ever arrived, of course. What good were cosmic artifacts without cosmic awareness to go with them? He strode from the citadel, reaching out with probing invisible tendrils to probe his opponent. "At last," he said to himself, "a foe to challenge my might and mettle. Ruling these sheep for so long had begun to wear upon me."

So intent was he upon the airborne form of Rath, he failed to detect several human forms blending in with his servile minions running into the citadel.

The former Continuity Champ's first blast was a torrent of searing energies pulled as if from a heart boiling with rage. How dare this arrogant mortal aspire to such power, power he was not meant to attain! How dare he use it so basely, to conquer and slay those who stood against him! There would be justice! There would be retribution! There would be pain!

Such were Rath's thoughts as he blasted Armaggeddon. And he was right; there would be pain.

He found this out as Dr. Armaggeddon stepped unscathed from the inferno his blast created... and returned his blast fivefold.

==This way== Windrider indicated, flying ahead of his companions to scout out the building. It was hard for the LNHers to believe this tower of tyranny had once been their beloved headquarters; it was now little more than a twisted mockery of what it had once been.

With Windrider's almost uncanny leadership, the small group found a turboshaft to the sub-basement complex and emerged from it apparently undetected. Glitch Girl relaxed slightly as the pod that carried them arrived; this was proving to be extremely easy. It appeared Dr. Armaggeddon considered himself sufficient detriment to would-be intruders, and so had no other defenses.

What greeted the heroes eyes as they emerged from the turboshaft was a horrifying sight. Armaggeddon had taken the sub-basement level and turned it into a trophy room. On a pedestal was an aquarium-like glass box, containing what had once been the liquid metal body of Obscure Trivia Lad. To one side stood Master Blaster, stuffed and mounted on a stand, weapon pointed toward the heroes, an inane look on his face. Panta had apparently been skinned; her hide decorated a place on one wall. Glitch Girl felt her stomach churn in revulsion at the sight; she saw the others pale on both sides of her. If there was a corner of hell reserved for heroes, this was surely it.

But when her eyes reached the back wall, she saw the greatest attrocity of them all. A wooden plaque had been placed on that section of the wall, and on that plaque was a skull. She might not have known whose skull, save for the way it was attached: part of a broken Ginsu katana impaled it through one eye socket, afixing it to its backing.

It had been Ultimate Ninja's in life.

Beside her, Curly retched. She agreed with his assessment. "How could anyone do this sort of thing?" she said out loud.

"Just wait, Legionnaires," a voice from behind them said, "your bodies will lie beside them before this day is out!" Glitch Girl and the others whirled to see the Knightforce, Dr. Armaggeddon's personal bodyguards, had snuck up behind them.

And they were between the ragtag remant of the LNH and the only way out of the grisly trophy room.

The air ignited around them as the two combatants viciously exchanged thrusts and parries of reality-sundeRing energies on an infinite number of levels. Swirling energies cascaded between them, broke against the other's defenses, then turned aside and disipated into the oblivion from whence they sprang. It was a Mexican standoff: the first to show any weakness would be vaporized in the blink of an eye.

From a distance, if one's gaze could pierce the swirling aura of cosmic energies that surrounded the two, they might seem very similar. Both wore black armor, with capes. Both bore the same intent look on their faces. Both were possessed of unimaginable power. Only one thing kept them from being identical.

Power is as power does.

Somewhere in the back of Rath's mind, he knew this Armaggeddon was using his power to crush and oppress and destroy the once-fair planet of earth. Fortunately, the mortal had yet to realize the true might of the artifacts he carried, but it was only a matter of time before he did. And when he did, all of reality would suffer for it. It was Rath's job to see that that never happened. Rath was acting to protect, Armaggeddon to destroy.

And that made all the difference.

The two sides clashed in combat one last time. Each had been destroying bits and pieces of the other for some time, the only difference being that Armaggeddon would simply clone his Knightforce Elite again upon the death of one of the members.

Stormguard closed in on Rebel Yell, his hands ablaze. "So, my old nemesis, we meet again. And this time, you die at my hands, as your woman did before you."

Yell said nothing, didn't even move. Not a trace of emotion even registered on his face. Not even when Stormguard released a searing blast of flame at him.

Kid Chivalry watched in horror as Rebel Yell stood, almost expectantly, as if he were waiting for the fire to envelop him as it had Lurking Girl. He thought for a split second that Yell had finally snapped, the pressures of leadership duRing such a dark time having driven him to suicide. However, at the last minute, Rebel Yell dove aside, the plasma blast just barely missing him. Chivalry sighed in relief—

—Then dove to one side as a lithe, black-clad form struck at him from the shadows. He felt a burning score across his back as Nightblade, Knightforce's ninja, stabbed at him, then faded back into the shadow, gone as quickly and mysteriously as he'd appeared. Chivalry drew his weapon; allowing himself to be distracted in battle could be fatal. It was only luck that had saved him from being skewered on Nightblade's blade. He did the only thing that he could and waited for the ninja's next attack. At some point in time, Armaggeddon had enhanced the powers and abilities of some of his bodyguards; Nightblade was now able to fade into and out of shadows, using them to teleport, an ability that Bad-Timing Boy had discovered too late to save him.

Meanwhile, Curly closed with Tower. The two had tangled before, and Curly knew that he had the advantage in these closed quarters; Tower couldn't grow to be very tall at all. "Get ready to get your clock cleaned, ya murdering moron!" Curly screamed as he cocked his fist.

"Get ready yerself," Tower said. Curly's fist connected, but did more harm to the angst-filled powerhouse than to his target! "Surprise," Tower said with a malicious grin. "I don't just grow anymore; the boss gave me the power to absorb mass without changing size. I make myself ultra-dense," he said, returning Curly's blow and knocking him across the trophy room, "then I make you ultra-dead!"

Others of the LNH were having considerably more luck with their opponents, though. Organic Lass found herself paired against the one member of the Knightforce Elite she hated more than Armaggeddon himself: Dr. Q, the clone who had viciously murdered Pocket Man and Sarcastic Lad, then revived them as cyborgs, sending them against the LNH and forcing Ori to destroy those nearest and dearest to her to save the rest of the LNH. With a vicious smile, she waved her hand, and Dr. Q felt his body begin to go rigid. The inventor looked down in horror to see the Maid of Molecules was transmuting his body into glass!

"I think it'll be an improvement," Ori said to the evil clone. Then, he was all glass and could not reply. Organic Lass took Master Blaster's weapon from his stuffed body, pointed it, and pulled the trigger.


It was empty.

So Organic Lass swung it and and shattered Dr. Q into a million bits.

Drifter found himself paired with Multinus, who began to call upon several of his quantum clones. --Go help the others, Windrider. I'll take care of this.--

==Are you sure?==

--Positive. I can handle this guy.-- Several more versions of Multinus shimmered into existence as Windrider flew on. He was dubious, but had faith in his companion's abilities.

His faith was not misplaced, as Drifter opened a rift behind the original Multinus, pushed him through, then closed it. Without their template being on that plane of existence, the quantum duplicates rippled and faded from existence.

Pliable Lad dodged yet another swipe from Fireclaw. While he was unsure if the villain's razor-edged claws would do much damage to his elastic form, he knew that the fire radiating from them definitely wouldn't do him any good.

Then, he backed into something hard. Fireclaw grinned savagely; he had the stretchy little morsel in a tight spot now. He reared back for the killing blow, then struck... just as Pli stretched out of the way. Pliable Lad heard the shatteRing of glass behind him; he turned to see Fireclaw grappling with the viscous liquid metal mass that had once been Obscure Trivia Lad. Apparently, even though OTL's life had been wiped out, the android form retained certain "instincts" — including defending itself from attackers. Pliable Lad watched as the silver-gray blob completely engulfed Fireclaw. The figure frantically fought to free himself, spasmed, and then fell still.

Other individual battles were also being ended. Nightblade struck from the shadows at Kid Chivalry. Suddenly, his target vanished, and the silent ninja's whisperkeen blade swished into empty air. He felt a stabbing pain in his back, followed swiftly by a cool, spreading numbness that settled over all his body. As darkness overtook him, he saw Chivalry pull his blade out of the ninja's back and wipe it off.

Tower advanced on Curly's prone form, only to be met halfway there by a flying, raking mass of feathers, claws, and anger. He clutched at his eyes reflexively as Windrider struck, his extra mass lost when his concentration was broken. Then Curly was there, and a few blows later, it was over.

Glitch Girl stood to one side. She hadn't meant to avoid the battle, but her powers weren't of much use against this group of villains.

She didn't notice Bloodthorn behind her until it was too late.

Her screams caught the attention of everyone on the battlefield. The plant-man wrapped her in his vine-like tentacles, squeezing and crushing her bones. But that was not enough to satisfy Bloodthorn's hatred, as he lived up to his nickname. Long, razor-sharp thorns shot out from his tentacles, spearing Glitch Girl. Her screams ended abruptly. She crumpled to the ground as a smiling Bloodthorn released her, eager for his next victim.

The others stared on in horror at their teammate's bloody end. Rebel Yell's vision blurred as suddenly he saw Lurking Girl again, writhing in pain and terror as Stormguard's flames consumed her. Stormguard himself grinned at Rebel Yell, one arm outstretched, his fist flaming.

"It seems as though this is the end of the line for you, as well. Just like it was for your woman."

"No," Yell whispered. In that instant, all the emotional walls he had built broke down, spewing out a torment of swirling, churning rage, which focussed itself on Stormguard. "NOOOOOO!!!"

Time itself seemed to stand still as he leapt toward his foe, reaching out, grabbing hold of his throat. Then, it restarted, and Stormguard unleashed the blast meant for Rebel Yell. His eyes grew wide, though, as he realized Yell was no longer there...

The flames struck Bloodthorn, as the plant-man screamed an unearthly wail. He dove to the floor and rolled, hoping to put out the fires. But it was too late; they hungered for his green flesh just as he had for the blood of humans.

Rebel Yell locked his hands around Stormguard's throat even tighter, and began to squeeze. Stormguard's eyes bulged, his face contorted, a thousand thoughts flashed through his mind. Throw off Rebel Yell, kick him off, burn him, DO SOMETHING!

But there was nothing he could do, and it was quickly over.

Rath's energies surged toward Armaggeddon, and were thrown back. Armaggeddon tried the same tactic, and was likewise rebuffed. The two combatants were too evenly matched.

Then, Rath detected something strange in Armaggeddon's defenses. There it was; a paper-thin crack, virtually undetectible. Rath almost smiled. This was the chance he had been looking for. He gathered in his energies, then shot them forward, eager to destroy this defiler of reality, this mortal who thought to be a god!

The gap closed a split-second before his blast reached it. Rath then realized he'd been tricked. A perfect feint, and he had fallen for it.

There was no time to raise his defenses anew, as Armaggeddon's next blast lifted him bodily from the ground.

The tattered survivors looked at the vault dubiously. It was as tall as two men, one standing on the other's shoulders, and equally as wide. Curly had tried to batter it down, only to break his fist against the strongstuffium compound that comprised the vault door.

"Any ideas?" Drifter asked Windrider.

==It appears we cannot break it down. It would seem logical to try to crack its combination.==

Pliable Lad tried the combination he remembered from the previous continuum. "No luck," he said.

==Then it appears we have but one alternative.== Windrider looked expectantly at Pliable Lad.

"Which is?" Pli asked.

==Getting in through the cracks around the door.==

Pli looked at the door. The cracks were no more than two, maybe three millimeters wide. "You've got to be kidding me."

==On the contrary, I know you can do it== Windrider replied emphatically. ==And you must; I fear we will need the Ring, and quickly.==

Pli drew in a deep breath. He'd never tried to stretch his way into such a tight spot before, but, for the sake of reality, he had to try. He straightened, then threw himself forward.

It seemed to take an eternity for him to ooze into the cracks, but in truth it was only seconds. Then, he was in. The remaining heroes waited expectantly.

And waited.

And waited.

Then, without warning, a huge explosion ripped the door from its hinges. It was sheer luck that Curly was at the forefront of the survivors; acting instinctively, he caught the door and hurled it aside, ignoring the pain from his broken hand.

Pliable Lad stood in the vault, smoke curling around him, proud and triumphant. In one hand, he clutched a nondescript little silvery Ring, the Ring which had caused the explosion.

The Ring of Continuity.

==We must hurry,== Windrider urged. ==The battle outside goes poorly for Continuity Champ. Give me the Ring; I'll get it to him.==

Pliable Lad felt a surge of suspicion. How much did they really know about this Drifter and Windrider pair anyway? And was this really them? Couldn't this be just a chance for some greedy sort to get control of the Ring, of his Ring? Well, he'd show them a thing—

Pli stopped in shock, aghast at his thoughts. That wasn't like him at all. He looked down at the Ring of Continuity. Acton Lord was right; power does corrupt. No, far better to have the Ring in the hands of someone like Windrider or Continuity Champ, someone more accustomed to tremendous power.

Even so, handing the Ring to Windrider was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do.

Rath was on his knees now, using what little power remained to hold up his faltering shields. Armaggeddon battered at the dazed Champion with power unimaginable. Rath knew that he could take little more of this, that it would soon be over.

Then salvation came to him on two feathered wings.

Armaggeddon sensed what Windrider bore before Rath did. He screamed in denial and unleashed a searing torrent of cosmic energies at Windrider. The eagle dove under the blast, singing a few tail feathers but otherwise remaining unharmed. With a cry of triumph, he dropped the Ring into Rath's hand.

Rath felt the power as he quickly placed the Ring on one finger, and he knew that his destiny had at last found him. Always before, he had felt empty, alone, without meaning. Now, he had found his calling in the Ring of Continuity. With it, he could truly be the Champion of Continuity.

Completely rejuvinated by the Ring's energies, CC stood, ignoring Armaggeddon's most powerful, most desperate blasts yet. Why, he wondered, had Armaggeddon chosen the Nine over the more powerful one? Probably because the Nine were more suited to whims and destruction, while the One was a responsibility, a duty to protect; one did not wield the power of the One, the power of the One wielded him.

Then he turned back to Dr. Armaggeddon. Two bursts of energy later, and the villain lay before him, kneeling and bleeding from two dozen different wounds. CC stood over him, tall, proud, and powerful, as the surviving LNHers struggled out of Armaggeddon's citadel. CC took no notice of them. His only thought was of this presumptuous mortal.

"Have you anything to say before I condemn you to oblivion?"

Armaggeddon looked up at the Champion with mixed hatred and madness in his eyes. "You can't have this planet. It's mine to do with as I please! Mine! Mine! If I can't have it, no one will!" He dug his Ringed fingers into the soil, then looked back up at CC with triumph in his eyes. He spoke.

"Armaggeddon: All lands in play are destroyed."

CC paused in confusion, wondering what Armaggeddon's words meant. Then his eyes grew wide as he realized what his foe intended.

The first tremor confirmed his fears.

Dr. Armaggeddon began to laugh wildly, as the ground shuddered. His Rings pulsed with destructive energies. The surviving LNHers looked on as CC threw himself forward, toward Armaggeddon...

...then it all faded away, and they found themselves in the Drizztsat's monitor room again. The Drizzt sat at a console, barely noticing their arrival.

"Continuity Champ!" Organic Lass cried. "We have to go back for him!"

"Too late," the Drizzt said tersely, pulling his arm from her grasp. He punched buttons and pulled levers, his hands moving faster than was himanly possible, almost faster than human eyes could follow. The others felt a strange pull as the Drizztsat left its orbit.

The survivors turned away from the unresponsive cosmic entity. They watched numbly on a monitor of the earth as a pinprick of white light appeared in North America, where Net.ropolis had been. It grew into a huge domed conflagration, devouring the entire continent. Clouds of steam were thrown up into the atmsophere as the oceans at the explosion's leading edge were vaporized. Then, the explosion began to shrink, to fall back in on itself.

As did the earth itself.

The collapse of a planet is no small thing. It is terrible to watch, impossible to imagine or describe. The Drizzt surveyed the destruction with a look as controlled and detached as if he were filling out accounting ledgers. When the earth became no more than rubble, he began to press buttons again, and the others felt another lurch as the spacecraft began to move.

"Where... where are we going?" Pliable Lad asked quietly.

"Back to the... rubble of the earth," the Drizzt replied. "We still need the One Ring..."

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04