Retcon Midnight Sourcebook

compiled by Russ Allbery and Mike Escutia
© 1994

Foreword
by Russ Allbery

In any writing project as large as Retcon Midnight, only about 50% of the ideas discussed actually make it into the story. This is especially true when the story concerns an alternate reality. In almost everything I write, I like to come up with extensive "backstory"; in other words, the story behind the story. That insures that everything that actually makes it into the final story is consistent, because there is a coherent, larger story behind it.

In the planning of Retcon Midnight, we did a lot of this. Many details, such as what the Fan.Dom of the Alt.Ra was doing or how the changes would have affected The Flame Wars II, were worked out even though they never entered the story. Some of the background details do come through in chapters two, three, and four, or in the mental state of Rebel Yell throughout.

Since we needed to list the characters involved and credit the earlier stories we used as sources anyway, we thought that we would take this opportunity to show you some of the story behind the story. This Sourcebook isn't large, but it does go through the alternate history, although somewhat cursory, and gives "roster" entries for the LNHers (in the form of their police records).

Finally, you will note that Scavenger is given co-writing credit on Retcon Midnight. Although not one of the authors involved in the crossover, Scav gave us lots of feedback at every stage, as well as tons of fantastic ideas. Thanks Scav; without you, Retcon Midnight wouldn't have been nearly as good (or as fun to write).

A Word From The Guy Who Started It All
by Mike Escutia

It hadn't meant to come out like this.

When I sat down to start work on what was then Pliable Lad #25, I was planning on doing a story in which the Looniverse was pretty much the way we know it, only without Pliable Lad. I figured it wouldn't be too drastic a change — the Net.Patrol being short one member, Tour Guide Girl not having a boyfriend (or maybe having a different boyfriend), and the occasional battle won a little differently. Something would have to happen to force Pli to try to repair history. No problem, I told myself. This would be a piece of cake.

Yeah, right.

To be honest, I actually got a few handwritten pages completed before I stopped. But right off the bat, I knew something was wrong. The changes weren't anywhere near as drastic as they could have been. There was no suspense, no drama, and no sense of awe emanating from the story. In short, it wasn't much to look at. Even worse, it made Pli seem unimportant, and that bothered me.

So I said to myself, "Self, when in the history of the LNH, has Pliable Lad — your character — made a major difference?" The answer was obvious: Stretching the Truth. Pli had pretty much saved the LNH, Net.ropolis, and the earth in that storyline, which ran in Pliable Lad #1-6. (In retrospect, I wish I had combined the last three parts into one, since they were each under 180 lines and could easily be combined. Ah, well.)

But what would happen if Pli hadn't been there? Would the LNH be saved? What about the people Dr. Armaggeddon had threatened to kill. What would the world be like with Dr. Armaggeddon in control?

Those were the questions I wanted to answer in this storyline. Those were the questions that gave the story suspense, drama, and a sense of awe.

But that still doesn't explain how it got to its current form, does it?

Once I had decided what I was going to do, I began thinking about who would be aware of the change...and would still remember the other timeline. The Dvandom Stranger, obviously. Drifter and Windrider would also still remember the old timeline, since they're not from the Looniverse, which would cause their perceptions of reality to be different from those of Looniverse natives. But, to be safe, I talked it over with Russ on IRC.

Drizzt was there while we were talking, which reminded Russ and me that Continuity Champ might also be aware of the changes. That interested us — all three of us — and set off lots of little bells in our heads.

Then Russ offered to write a few scenes for me, which set off even more bells in my head.

We quickly realized that this couldn't be done simply as a Pliable Lad story, but as a story involving several of our characters.

And the rest, as they say, is (alternate) history.

While I'm here, I'd like to thank Russ and Drizzt for being incredible co-writers. Without them, this story wouldn't have been as good as it turned out. Thanks, guys.

I'd also like to thank Scavenger for helping us with characterization of Rebel Yell, and for all the ideas he gave us. And, to tell you the truth, I had always wanted to work on a story with him.

Thanks should also be given to David Anastasion, for letting us use Drifter. Dave, you had the easy part of this project. :)

Lastly, a quick thank you to the Retcon Hour writers. That thing may have been mess, but it gave me the opportunity to do an alternate timeline story. And it inspired the title "Retcon Midnight". No, I couldn't help it. :)

The Third Guy Speaks
by Drizzt

Personally, I blame it on IRC.

I was a victim of circumstance. I just happened to be on #superguy one night to catch Mike and Russ talking about Mike's great Pliable Lad story. Since I came in in the middle of their conversation, I asked for and received a recap of the idea. That's when it all started.

The next thing I remember, I was saying things like, "Hey, CC would notice that the continuity had changed." Then it occurred to me that the Drizzt would also know about it.

Just like a wildfire, it couldn't be controlled.

One thing led to another, and we were soon hammering out details of the storyline. At first, I wanted CC to have come back from the dead, stumbled into Dr. A's headquarters, and beaten Dr. A about the head and shoulders completely. Then, our deranged CC would have assumed Dr. A's place, giving the resistance a truly powerful foe to go against. I could at last do a "CC unbound" story (he's been getting overmatched too much of late).

Well, needless to say, that idea didn't survive. Probably thankfully so, I say in retrospect.

Then things started to click. CC revived, but flew into space. The resistance contacts the Drizzt. Sure, Mike, I'll write the third part of the story. A big fight scene with the Knightforce and Dr. A and the resistance and CC? I can handle that. Then, I added the idea of the Rings (okay, so I've been reading Tolkien; sue me) being needed to get Pli back. Then, the Ring of Continuity idea clicked with me, so I decide to use it in my new series next fall — maybe. We'd need a really good reason for Pli to have to be returned. Boom; so dies the earth. My third chapter expanded into a fourth one, and before I knew it, I was mailing out first drafts of my parts with a slightly dazed look on my face.

Was it a pain? Yeah, some times. I still like "Bloodthorn" being named "Chloro Phil". And it always stings to have a half-hour's worth of storybuilding chucked out the window. And to find out you have no idea what some characters' personalities are like. Or what their powers are. And exactly where did Jestalt go during my two little parts, anyway?

But was it worth it?

Oh, yeah.

Be watching for it to affect things in my little corner of the Looniverse for quite some time.

Can I say more? Just three words.

TALES OF CONTINUITY.

Timeline

The early events of LNH history are not changed in Retcon Midnight. In fact, the Retcon Midnight reality only diverges from the mainstream at the point when Pliable Lad should have entered the Looniverse. This is because the Retcon Midnight reality was the result of a retcon; it was not a parallel reality.

The events referred to by Windrider in chapter two include the Legion's defeat of The Man With The Black Hat shortly after Cosmic Plot-Device Caper (as detailed in 501 Blues: Lurk of Faith #2 by Scavenger) and 4-Color Kid's sacrifice to defeat the Bryttle Brothers (also in Lurk of Faith #2). Organic Lass's origin is shown in Mistress of Molecules by Rebecca Drayer. Curly was introduced as Rochester in Integrity Quest #12 (by Doug Wojtowicz). Sig.Lad defeated Acton Lord with the Sword of Sig in the final chapter of Electrocutioner's Song, Crisis of Infinite Clones #3 (by Dave Van Domelen). Shortly afterwards, Lurking Girl left the Legion (as shown in Lurk of Faith).

The Retcon Midnight timeline diverged at the point when Pliable Lad entered the Looniverse. This story was told in the backup features of Pliable Lad #16 and #17 (by Mike Escutia), which take place slightly after Anarky Quest. In the mainstream timeline, Gestalt Lad was introduced as Mike's original WC and then sent back to Limbo when Pliable Lad replaced him (this was temporarily changed by a retcon during Retcon Hour). In the Retcon Midnight timeline, since Pliable Lad never arrived, Gestalt Lad remained in the Looniverse, but he was sent on special missions and therefore was not involved in LNH adventures (up until Dr. Armaggeddon attacked). (Gestalt Lad first appears in the addendum to Anarky Quest written by Mike Escutia.)

Since Pliable Lad was a fairly minor hero at first, continuity doesn't change much right away. The Flame Wars continued about as it did in the mainstream timeline, as did the Bellerophon Gambit (which tells the origin of the Dvandom Stranger and is written, of course, by Dave Van Domelen). The Stranger, however, isn't governed by the continuity of a newsgroup (like Drifter and Windrider, but for a slightly different reason). More on that later. About the only change to this section of continuity is that Pliable Lad was not present in the battle against Spoonsday (in Lost Cause Boy Special #2 by Doug Wojtowicz), and therefore Lost Cause Boy was killed slightly faster.

Rebel Yell still took a leave of absence from the Legion right after the Leadership Crisis (see Closing Knight by Scavenger) and left the LNH in the hands of Ultimate Ninja. The major change happens slightly after Jungle Cheesecake (written mostly by wReam).

The section of chapter two detailing the arrival of Dr. Armaggeddon was a revised version of Pliable Lad #1-#5 (by Mike Escutia). Because Pliable Lad wasn't around, the Knightforce Elite never pretended to be heroes in the Retcon Midnight timeline. Pliable Lad and Echo Lad never discovered their plan (in fact Echo Lad never joined the LNH because Pliable Lad wasn't around to have a sidekick assigned to him). The hostage threat came completely out of the blue, and because of the slightly different way things worked out, Ultimate Ninja tried to lead a strike team which was slaughtered. Cannon Fodder and Curly were the only people at LNHQ when Plymax and Dr. Q showed up, and in the ensuing battle Plymax wasn't quite as fast as Pliable Lad would have been and was knocked out by Tower. Protected by the KFE, Dr. Armaggeddon (see the original PL #1-#5 for the reason for the strange spelling) was able to get the Destructron working and killed the majority of the LNH. Curly got his intelligence back after being hit on the head by flying debris.

The Retcon Midnight timeline diverges considerably after this. Dr. Armaggeddon takes over Net.ropolis and the LNH become fugitives. Rebel Yell returns from his leave to try to put the remnants of the LNH back together. Continuity Champ is resurrected, but flies off into space rather than heading for the Drizztsat and getting involved in The Flame Wars II, and none of the events of The Flame Wars II occur; in fact, in the Retcon Midnight timeline, the LNH doesn't meet the Drizzt until chapter three.

Dr. Armaggedon, after consolidating his rule, puts a lot of effort into increasing his power. He managed to find the Ten Rings (the Nine of Retcon and the One Ring of Continuity) and uses the Nine Rings of Retcon to easily destroy Youngstud when he attacks Earth (see Kid Kirby/Sing-Along Lass #3 and #4 and Dimwiticus versus the LNH by Jameel, along with LNH #51 by Martin, for the story in the mainstream timeline). Dr. Armaggeddon also deals with, by one means or another, all of the other major arch-villains in the Looniverse, such as Acton Lord, Tsar Chasm, or wReamicus Maximus. Constellation, still new to his power, is also defeated when he enters the Looniverse.

The Knightforce Elite, still serving as Dr. Armaggeddon's personal attack force, are assigned to hunt down and kill the remaining LNHers. A couple of those incidents are described in chapter four: Dr. Q killed Pocket Man and Sarcastic Lad and then revived them as cyborgs, forcing Organic Lass to kill them again. Stormguard burned Lurking Girl to death in front of Rebel Yell. Through other, similar events, the LNH is reduced to Rebel Yell, Organic Lass, Gestalt Lad, Curly, Glitch Girl (who joined after Dr. Armaggeddon took over Net.ropolis), Cannon Fodder, and Kid Chivalry by the time of chapter one.

One part of Retcon Midnight was foreshadowed in an earlier story; the capture of All-Knowing-Last-Chance-Whiner-Destiny Woman is one of the scenes Pliable Lad sees while traveling through various realities in Pliable Lad Annual #1 (this is why Pliable Lad recognizes the story).

Official Military Police Records (Excerpts)

      Subject: Legion of Net.Heroes
 Subject Type: Underground resistance
      History: After opposing the rule of our beloved leader,
               Dr. Armaggeddon, the majority of the LNH was executed for
               treason.  They survive today only in small bands, which are
               kept from harming the citizens of the Empire through the
               heroic actions of the Knightforce Elite.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Known paranormal abilities and
               considered highly dangerous.  See individual entries.
Known Members: Rebel Yell (leader), Organic Lass, Kid Chivalry, Cannon
               Fodder, Curly, Gestalt Lad, Glitch Girl

      Subject: Rebel Yell
 Subject Type: Leader of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Returning from a leave of absence, Rebel Yell rejoined the
               outlawed Legion after Dr. Armaggeddon's rise to power.  His
               leadership has helped them continue to terrorize the
               populace despite the best efforts of the Knightforce Elite.
       Powers: None known.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Shoot on sight.

      Subject: Kid Chivalry
 Subject Type: Member of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Joined the LNH shortly before they opposed Dr. Armaggeddon.
       Powers: Short-range teleportation.  Has also been known to twist
               the minds of people.
      Weapons: Twin rapiers.
       Status: Wanted for research into the nature of his teleportation
               abilities.  Considered the most dangerous of the LNH in
               combat.  Attempt to capture alive.  Guilty of high treason.

      Subject: Organic Lass
 Subject Type: Member of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Long time member of LNH.  Murdered Pocket Man and Sarcastic
               Lad after they were convinced that Dr. Armaggeddon was the
               rightful ruler.
       Powers: Ability to create or transmute chemical substances.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Shoot on sight.

      Subject: Cannon Fodder
 Subject Type: Member of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Long time member of LNH.  Helped other LNH members escape
               Dr. Armaggeddon during his rise to power.
       Powers: Comes back to life after being killed.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  DO NOT KILL HIM.  Killing him is
               equivalent to letting him escape.  Capture alive.

      Subject: Gestalt Lad
 Subject Type: Legion of Net.Heroes special operative
      History: Was on a special mission for the LNH when Dr. Armaggeddon
               came to power.  Returned to join the resistance.
       Powers: Can combine with another hero to form a merged being with
               the abilities of both.  Often combines with Curly (see
               individual entry).
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Shoot on sight.

      Subject: Curly
 Subject Type: Member of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Long time member of LNH.  Helped Cannon Fodder free other
               LNH members from Dr. Armaggeddon during his rise to power.
       Powers: Superhuman strength.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Approach with caution, shoot on
               sight.

      Subject: Glitch Girl
 Subject Type: Member of Legion of Net.Heroes
      History: Vandal and terrorist who was taken in by the LNH recently
               when the Knightforce Elite tried to bring her to justice.
       Powers: Can cause electronic equipment to malfunction.
       Status: Wanted for high treason.  Shoot on sight.  Do not let her
               approach any electronic or high-technology equipment.

Roster Entries for Knightforce Elite

Dr. Armaggeddon (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Armor, advanced destructive weaponry, etc.
    Reference: System Corruptors #9; Pliable Lad #1-5
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad, Continuity Champ (in alternate timeline)
       Status: At large

Stormguard (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Can generate powerful plasma blasts.
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite (leader)
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad, Rebel Yell (in alternate timeline)
       Status: At large.

Fireclaw (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Has claws made -- literally -- out of fire.
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.

Nightblade (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Ninja.  Need I say more?
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.

Tower (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Can grow to about 100 or 200 feet tall.
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.

Multinus (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Can create duplicates of himself.
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.
        Notes: Sent to another newsgroup by Drifter in Retcon Midnight #4;
               It is currently unknown if this was undone when history was
               repaired.

Dr. Q (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Scientist
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.
        Notes: In the main timeline, he pretended to be the original,
               heroic Dr. Q, to help the LNH defeat the Knightforce
               Elite...and be lulled into a false sense of security.  Was
               revealed to be evil in Pliable Lad #22.

Bug (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Able to shrink down to microscopic size.
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.

Bloodthorn (NWC)
   Created by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
  Reserved by: Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
       Powers: Plant-being
    Reference: Pliable Lad #3, #22
    Group.Aff: Knightforce Elite
      Enemies: LNH, Pliable Lad
       Status: At large.
        Notes: Named by Drizzt and Mike after a long argument that 
               Drizzt lost. :-)

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Scavenger, Marie, André, Rebecca, and Dave for letting us use their characters. Special thanks to Scavenger for the ideas and help throughout.

All-Knowing...Woman (NWC) wReam (sl859@cc.usu.edu)
Cannon Fodder (NWC)       wReam (sl859@cc.usu.edu)
Continuity Champ (NWC)    Drizzt (barnejd@wkuvx1.wku.edu)
Curly (NWC)               Doug Wojtowicz
Drifter (WC)              David Anastasion (c/o windrider@cs.stanford.edu)
The Drizzt (NWC)          Drizzt (barnejd@wkuvx1.wku.edu)
Dvandom Stranger (WC)     Dave Van Domelen (dvandom@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
Gestalt Lad (NWC)         Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
Glitch Girl (WC)          Marie Antoon (marie.e.antoon@students.miami.edu)
Kid Chivalry (WC)         André Condon (ajc1@christa.unh.edu)
Organic Lass (WC)         Rebecca Drayer (radrayer@panix.com)
Pliable Lad (WC)          Mike Escutia (mre@christa.unh.edu)
Rebel Yell (WC)           Scavenger (kogutt@benji.colorado.edu)
Windrider (WC)            Russ Allbery (windrider@cs.stanford.edu)

Thanks to Dave Van Domelen for the description of the Dvandom Stranger (taken from Constellation #6). Thanks to Zen for the description of the Drizzt (in the mainstream timeline, first seen in The Flame Wars II #3). Thanks also to Chris Meadows, Bill Paul, and the other folks on #superguy for the use of their channel for some of our planning meetings.

Finally, thanks to the Retcon Hour authors for providing the inspiration behind this story.

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