______ _________ _____ ____ ____ _______ _____ ___ ___ | | | | / _ \ | \| | | /\ \ / _ \ \ \ / / |BLiP| | |~~~~~ / / \ \ | | | | \/ | / / \ \ \ | / | | | ~~~~~| | ~~~ | | | ____ | / | | | | | | |#10 | | |~~~~~ | ___ | | | | | | | /\ ~| \ \ / / | | | | | | | | | | | |\ | | | | ~~ / \ ~ / | | ~~~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ [Fan.Boy and Retcon Lad on one side face off against Firewall on the other, while the background behind them burns.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- The net.thingee exited intranet space. It hovered over a large green field. People shot arrows at targets far away, while others congregated in groups, discussing and constructing bows. Retcon Lad sighed. "Well, she's not in alt.archery." Fan.Boy shook his head. "This is taking far too long. There must be some way we can track her." "What's she after?" "She didn't say." "I was there, remember?" Retcon Lad concentrated, thinking about recent events in alt.games.torg. "Yes, but you didn't see Firewall. I did." "But I _was_ there." Why they were looking for her was a rather strange tale (but not a surreal one). Fan.Boy and Retcon Lad had appropriated a net.thingee to discover more about Fan.Boy having counterparts in other newsgroups. It was something connected with Fan.Boy coming from outside the net, but that didn't fully explain it. However, while they were travelling, They found another mystery. People were disappearing from the newsgroups, disappearing behind walls of flame. [This was all in _Fan.Boy #9_ - Footnote Girl] While on alt.games.torg, Fan.Boy spotted the person responsible, but didn't recognise her. While on alt.fan.dragon, talking with Fan.Boy's counterpart Barrymore, they realised that this person was Firewall, from the order of Saint Doomas. They also worked out that she was keeping to the alt.* groups, which lead them to patrolling for her, and in turn, ending up in alt.archery. [This was in _Limp-Asparagus Lad #17_ - Footnote Girl] "You know, it's rather strange." "What is?" "That Firewall should be doing this. I mean, we haven't really heard much of Saint Doomas recently. There hasn't even been a _Sword of Bazreal #4_." "More's the pity." Retcon Lad clicked his fingers. "Of course, that's it." "What? What?" "She's gone rogue. Hasn't heard anything from St. Doomas, so decided to take matters into her own hand. She going from newsgroup to newsgroup, doing..." "Firewalling?" suggested Fan.Boy. "Well, yes. But in what way? Who's she firewalling from whom?" "And why?" "Well, St. Doomas fights spham. So it's something to do with that. Is there anyway we can get the computer to search for concentrations of spham?" Fan.Boy played with the console before him. "According to this, the most spham is in the alt.sex* hierarchy." "Yes, well, we wont be going there." Retcon Lad ignored the look of disappointment on Fan.Boy's face. "We do have standards to maintain." "I suppose." Fan.Boy adjusted the search parameters, blocking out alt.sex*. "There seems to be a high level of spham everywhere. The newsgroups are really getting a blasting." Retcon Lad sighed. "Isn't technology wonderful? Not only can we give Internet access to anyone, but we can also let them spham everywhere at the same time." -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ARE YOU TIRED OF ONLY ANNOYING YOUR FRIENDS? DO YOU WISH YOU COULD REACH OUT ACROSS THE WORLD, AND REALLY PISS EVERYONE OFF? Well, now you can, with new INTERSPAM(tm)! Yes, now you can access the superinformation highway and drag it down to a marshy bog. With new INTERSPAM(tm), you can read all those great newsgroups such as alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, comp.internet.net-happenings, and rec.arts.comics.marvel.x-books, and the classic musts like alt.sex.fetish.diapers, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica, and alt.silly-names.spiffo! And the great thing is, with INTERSPAM(tm), with every post you read, you also post an automatic followup, quoting the entire file, and add a random non-sensible one-liner! Also, order now, and receive INTERSPAM 95(tm), with added features: * WITH EVERY TENTH MESSAGE, YOU POST A "MAKE MONEY FAST" SCHEME! * EVERY ALT GROUP RECEIVES FREE A COPY OF A GIF OF YOUR NAVEL FLUFF! * YOU CAN, AT THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON, POST ALL THOSE GREAT 1-800 NUMBERS THAT COME WITH THIS PACKAGE! And the best feature of all: * YOUR POSTING ADDRESS AUTOMATICALLY CHANGES, SOME SOME POOR LUSER GETS BLAMED FOR YOUR SPHAMMING!! ORDER NOW! SEND NO MONEY NOW!! ACT NOW!!!! GREAT OFFER TO THE NEXT FIFTY CUSTOMERS! CALL NOW, AND GET THE GREAT "NAME-WRITER"! Yes, you too can commemorate dead people by creating new alt.* groups with their names written sideways in ascii!!! This great idea will not last long!!! New INTERSPAM(tm)! It wont be available for long! New INTERSPAM(tm) from ATNT! (Note: Should not be taken internally. Can cause brain damage with repeated exposure. Parents, be sure to ask your children first.) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Note to Irony Man followers - I wrote this ad _before_ finding out about AT&T's Interspan :) - Jamas] "I think the writer's flipped," said Retcon Lad, warily. "Huh? What're you taking about?" "That ad the writer put in." "What ad?" "Can't you see it?" Fan.Boy shook his head. "No, but I'll be able to read it when this issue's posted." "Right. Well, where to now?" "Random jump and hope the author wants us to get with this?" Retcon Lad grinned. "Works for me." _-~-_ "So, do you think my driving's any better?" "AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!" "Hey, just asking." _-~-_ The purple menace raged across the landscape, causing death and destruction as it sang its lurid song. Militia battled around, trying to contain the jeopardy to life and existence, but to no avail. Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy looked down on the devastation and despair. "Alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die," they chorused. "Yep," said Fan.Boy. "If there's one place Firewall will end up, it's here." "Now all we need is for her to show up here before she's finished elsewhere." An explosion of fire showed just how corny plot devices^H^H^Hcoincidences were. Fan.Boy banked the net.thingee around and headed for the blaze. They arrived to find Firewall trying to contain her own fire. They jumped out with fire extinguishers from the net.thingee, and joined the battle. "What happened?" Retcon Lad asked, directing a jet of foam at the fire. Firewall finally noticed them and growled. "Keep out of this." What Firewall as doing to fight the inferno was quite tricky and cunning. Where there was a build up of heat, she shot a bust of flame from her thrower, combusting the pocket of gas, but also exhausting the air, causing the fire to immediately extinguish. This method was effective, but slow. Fan.Boy's and Retcon Lad's extinguishers were having a faster effect. As the fire died off, little blobs of some purple substance were uncovered. "Damn purple dinosaurs. One of them got in the way of my flame and exploded." "Can't you see?" cried Retcon Lad. "You've gone rogue. We worked it out. But you're also dangerous." "Yeah, you've gone-" Fan.Boy stopped on the verge of mistake #3324: Telling Firewall she was psycho. "You think you've worked it out? You've worked out nothing." Firewall ejected another burst of flame, but this time lighting nothing more offensive than a new cigarette. "We've got sphammers all around us, and Saint Doomas is just sitting there, doing nothing about it. Well, I've got the solution." Fan.Boy waved his hand encouragingly. "Which is?" "Later boys." Firewall disappeared into her own flame. Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy blinked their eyes, waiting for after images to disappear. "Well, that worked well," Retcon Lad said. "What we need is a plan, some way we can stop her so we can just talk." "Any ideas?" "Not a one." _-~-_ The landscape was the bitter slopes of Hell. Pockets of flame erupted, burning all in range. The occupants raged against each other, setting one another ablaze. This was the desolate area of alt.flame. "Is this really a good idea?" Retcon Lad asked. "We gotta get to her somehow. What better place to do that than here? You said you could get her to stop, didn't you?" "Yeah." Retcon Lad looked at the device in his hand. It was part of the net.thingee, a sort of portable version, and he hoped it would do what he needed. "Well, I'll get Firewall here then. Just wait." "What're you gonna do?" "Flip around the newsgroups until I find her. I can do it much faster than scanning would do." "Just don't get caught up in any discussions again." Fan.Boy grinned. "No worries." Fan.Boy concentrated, and flipped his mind to another newsgroup. Retcon Lad looked around. He had earmuffs on so he wouldn't hear Fan.Boy's calls. Retcon Lad spotted the Barry Knewbee home to this newsgroup. He was happily flaming others, and happily being flamed. Retcon Lad shook his head. Really, sometimes things just got too silly. A hand on his shoulder made him turn around. He saw Fan.Boy standing there, grinning. He mouthed something, and Retcon Lad took the earmuffs off to hear him better. "I got her. Over on alt.startrek.cardassian. She was having trouble telling the sphammers from proper posters." "All right, boys. I'm here. What do you want?" They turned to see the lean figure of Firewall lighting yet another cigarette. "I have to say, I like your meeting place." She looked around the landscape, the fires reflecting not only on the gold flames on her red outfit, but also in her eyes. "My kind of town." "We just want to talk," said Retcon Lad. "We would like to know what your solution to these sphammers are." Firewall raised her eyebrows. "You haven't worked it out yet? Come off it. Look, who am I?" Fan.Boy and Retcon Lad exchanged looks, then shrugs. "Firewall," said Fan.Boy. "And..." Firewall rolled her hand, trying to lead them to the correct deduction. Retcon Lad shook his head. "What?" Firewall sighed. "Look, just don't worry. I've certainly got better things to do than this." As Firewall turned away, Fan.Boy turned to Retcon Lad. "Hey, now's the time to do your thing." Retcon Lad looked down at the device in his hand. "I hope it works." He threw it on the ground, and it exploded. Firewall turned away from the LNHers, ready to continue her campaign, when light burst around her. She shut her eyes to protect them, and when she opened them, everything around her had changed. It was a featureless white plane. Empty. Of anything and everything. Her sight was pulled to the edge was whatever this was, was pulled off the edge. She felt like she was continually falling away from herself. "What the...?" "This is alt.dev.null." Firewall turned around to see Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy. Retcon Lad was talking. "I've cross-posted us here so we can have a little talk." Aside to Fan.Boy he said, "This place doesn't really exist, so you probably wont have an alt.version here." Firewall growled. "I definitely have better things to do." She summoned up the flame to travel to a new newsgroup, but nothing happened. "No power works here. Everything is drained off. You can't leave unless I remove the cross-post that brought us here." "Now," said Fan.Boy. "Will you please tell us what you're doing?" "Why don't you understand? I'm Firewall. I firewall. I've firewalled a lot of the newsgroups, and I've got many more to go." Retcon Lad tried to understand this. "But, what exactly are you firewalling?" "Since Saint Doomas stopped, sphammers have been crawling out of the woodwork. And where have most of them come from? America. I'm firewalling America, guys, trying to contain the spham. Do you get it yet?" Light finally dawned in the LNHers eyes. "And so," explained Retcon Lad, sorting things out in his head. "When you firewall a group, all the Americans stop seeing non-Americans and visa versa." "Right," agreed Firewall, patronisingly. "Perhaps you could also explain why these people spham in the first place." "I have absolutely no idea," replied Retcon Lad. "Pity. It would make my job a lot easier. So, are you going to let me go now?" Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy moved away to huddle. "I think we should let her go," said Fan.Boy. "What? Why?" "I think she's got a damn good idea. Cutting off all the sphammers in one go." "But, we can't. Not everyone in America sphams. It's not their fault that a tiny percentage gets pleasure out of ruining the lives of others. That's like destroying a town because there's a prison in it. You're condemning a whole land because of the actions of a few." "I suppose so," admitted Fan.Boy gloomily. Retcon Lad nodded. "Good. Now all we do is have to convince her." Retcon Lad headed towards Firewall, but Fan.Boy held him back, grinning. "You can see the funny side of all this, can't you?" Fan.Boy asked. Retcon Lad shook his head in puzzlement. "My Writer's a New Zealander. Firewall belongs to a New Zealander. And your Writer's Australian. Don't you think we're just slightly biased?" Retcon Lad thought about this. Yes, perhaps they were. He grinned as he turned to Firewall. [I'd just like to point out that using Firewall like this was my idea. Although Jaelle did agree. - Jamas] "How exactly did you firewall them?" Retcon Lad asked of Firewall. "Firewalls are supposed to work on machines, not newsgroups." "I set up the firewalls so that the machines surrounding the States firewalled specific newsgroups. After it was set up, adding more was easy." "And you planned on doing this for every newsgroup? Everywhere?" Firewall hefted her flamethrower. "I've got the time if they've got the spham." "Couldn't you have just set these border machines to firewall across every newsgroup?" "I had to make sure that the people were on the right side, and weren't, say, using an American account to post from." Firewall was staring hard at Retcon Lad when she said this. Retcon Lad became puzzled. "What?" This was something Fan.Boy could explain. "Saxon, your Writer, although living in Australia, and is currently posting from an account in America. He has really long irritating headers, too." "Ah. Right. That would explain how she managed to affect the mailing list attached to alt.games.torg; it covers email too." Then Retcon Lad turned back to his attack. "It does?" Fan.Boy whispered to himself. "Gee, she's good." "What about all the good that happens?" Retcon Lad argued. "The creativity? Take alt.comics.lnh for instance. I assume you plan on visiting there sometime." Firewall nodded. "But there's imagination, creativity, a cross pollination of ideas. You were created because an American decided to invent the Order of Saint Doomas dedicated to fighting sphammers, to parody the Order of Saint Dumas in Batman comics. "This cross-over would never had existed if Americans hadn't formed alt.comics.lnh off racm in the first place, even. Not every American sphams." "But enough do. I'm trying to stop the cancer before it spreads!" "But you're killing the patient!" Fan.Boy grabbed Retcon Lad's arm. "Hey. Calm down there." Retcon Lad took a breath. "Sorry about that. It's just so pointless. Spham is a very small percentage of the net, albeit, an annoying percent. Let people handle it in their own groups, in their own way. It'll always be there, and it's not just Americans doing it. There are stupid people everywhere, but there is more good than stupidity out there." "And this is supposed to make me change my mind, is it?" asked Firewall. "All right then," said Retcon Lad. "If you don't stop, I'll report you to the Order of Saint Doomas, and let them send Bazreal to sort you out." Firewall laughed. "But, he'll agree with me." "Would he? He kills sphammers, but only sphammers. I'm sure if _Sword of Bazreal #4_ ever came out, we'd find out that CAW! wasn't the traitor after all, and Bazreal would let him live. Bazreal wouldn't justify stopping everything just to stop the sphammers. There are other ways." Fan.Boy whispered to Retcon Lad. "Hang on. This is Badger we're talking about. He probably would kill off CAW! if only to point out that he could." "But she doesn't need to know that," Retcon Lad whispered back. "All right then," Firewall said finally. "I'll remove the firewalls for now, but, I'm leaving the structure there. If it gets worse, I'm doing this again." "Don't worry," said Retcon Lad, looking at Fan.Boy. "We'd help you." Retcon Lad retconned the cross=post device to having a time limit that expired one second from now, and one second later, they were back on the burning landscape of alt.flame. "Just remember," said Firewall, just before she left. "I know where you live." After she disappeared, Fan.Boy breathed a sigh of relief. "So, is that it? Have we won?" "I guess so. Back to the LNH to return the net.thingee?" "Not quite yet. There's still something I need to work out, and I know just the person who'd know." _-~-_ "Hey, Cheesecake Eater Lad?" "Yeah?" "Is this cheesecake supposed to be in the shape of a fish?" "WHAT?" _-~-_ Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy walked slowly up the path, feeling themselves tiring. They'd walked a long way already, and the path seemed to stretch on forever. There was something differently strange about this newsgroup, and this path was a typical example. While the landscape around them was barren and desolate, the path wound through it in an amazing route. It twisted and turned, almost folding back on itself at it carried them surprising distances. And, whenever they turned a corner, they noticed something new. It was as if whatever it was had been hiding behind a hill or a tree or something, but there was no forest here. It later disappeared when they went around the next bend. Take this thing for example. It was large, grandiose, and gaudy to a sickening degree. It was a large house, almost a mansion. Just looking at it created more rooms for the observer to see. Windows looked right through the house as if it wasn't there, and doors were situated halfway up walls. This house could give Eschar bad ideas. It was only when the path actually met the front door that Fan.Boy and Retcon Lad realised that they had finally arrived. Fan.Boy knocked. The door opened slowly, creaking on its hinges. The hallway behind it was vast, with a fountain at the other end, and its roof opened to the sky, although it wasn't the same sky that one saw outside. Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy entered reverently, feeling small in this monstrous vestibule. "Hello?" called out Retcon Lad. "Anybody home?" They heard voices drifting towards them. Arguments, pleadings, and judgements. Some of them weren't pleasant. They walked towards the sound, tracing it to a room off the hall. The room they ended up in was larger than the house had ever been. Wall stretched away dizzyingly, and the ceiling rose and fell in ways reminiscent of the sea. Retcon Lad tried to follow the motion with his eyes and felt sick. Surprisingly, only a little area near the door was being used. There was a queue, and at the end of the queue was... was... Retcon Lad blinked. So, that's what he looked like. Sitting on a large throne, and looking slightly dwarfed by it, was the Usenet Oracle, found in the newsgroup rec.humor.oracle. He had a rather bored expression on his face, as if nothing could surprise him. Given that he was supposed to know everything, however, that should have been expected. "Supposed to know everything? _Supposed_?" The voice cut across the air, startling Retcon Lad. The Usenet Oracle was actually talking to him. "Of course I know everything. I'm the Oracle. I even know what you're thinking." There was a brief pause while Retcon Lad tried not to think about... "Seven." Damn. Fan.Boy took this opportunity to drag Retcon Lad closer to the Oracle, past the rest of the queue. "Do you know of something you don't know?" asked Retcon Lad. "I know that there's nothing I don't know," replied the Oracle. "So you do know of something you don't know?" "I know there's nothing I don't know," repeated the Oracle. "Isn't that just semantics," asked Retcon Lad, getting annoyed. "Why can't you just say that's something you don't know?" "Because I prefer it my way." The Oracle sat back, smug. "Oh wise and benevolent Oracle, tell this humble supplicant about wood-" "NO!" roared the Oracle, and turned to the supplicant that spoke. Fan.Boy and Retcon Lad turned to see someone kneeling at the throne's steps, someone who wore dark rimmed glasses, someone who was the rec.humor.oracle version of Barry Knewbee. The Oracle pointed his finger and *** @@@@@@@@@@@ ######### !!!!!!!!!!! *** @@@@@@@@@@@ ##### ##### !!!!!!!!!!! *** @@@@@@@@@@@ ##### ##### !!!!!!!!!!! @@@@@ ### ### !!!!! @@@@@ ### ### !!!!! @@@@@ # # !!!!! @@@@@ # # !!!!! @@@@@ ### ### !!!!! @@@@@ ### ### !!!!! @@@@@@@@@@@ ##### ##### !!!!! *** @@@@@@@@@@@ ##### ##### !!!!! *** @@@@@@@@@@@ ######### !!!!! *** a pair of smoking shoes remained. "You've killed him," gasped Fan.Boy. "Bah," said the Oracle. "He'll be back. He always is. And he always wants to know about woodchucks." He waved his hand, dismissing the situation. "Now ask your question." "But, but..." Fan.Boy pulled himself together. "All right. Tell me-" "No, not like that. Properly." "Oh. Right." Fan.Boy took a breath. The Usenet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. Your question was: > Tell me, oh wise and benevolent Oracle, whose socks I am not worthy to > darn, whose footsteps I am not worthy to walk in. Please grace this > humble supplicant with an answer. > > Why am I in every newsgroup, and why can't I be killed? And in response, thus spake the Oracle: } One day a boy went for walk in a forest. He looked at the trees. He } looked at the birds. He looked at the ground. } } This has nothing to do with your question, by the way. I just thought } I'd mention it. } } Anyway, when you came into the net it was a real red letter day. I sent } those emergency warnings to everyone. You splintered across all the } newsgroups, pulled across by the power of the LNH Peril Room and the } other systems it was hooked to at the time. } } Due to you reading more than newsgroup, you came into existence in more } than one newsgroup. In fact, you appeared in all of them. As a fan, even. } } It was awful. When you showed up here, I *zot*ted you straight off. } Hey, Oracle's privilege. I knew what you were. I can do what I damn } well like. Except kill off all the woodchucks. Can't seem to do that... } } As for why you can't be killed, when one of you dies, say, the one I } *zot* every few minutes, you still exist elsewhere. Those other } selves split to fill up the gaps, as it were. Or, another copy is made } of the real Barry. Or visa versa. } } The funny thing is timing. As the Peril Room brought you to life, } only when it is used can you, and your counterparts, be reincarnated. } I suppose that if it was destroyed, you'd stop coming back to life. } } Hmmm. Something to try.... } } You owe the Oracle a bullseye on your next incarnation. _-~-_ Retcon Lad sat in the net.thingee, disgusted. "'Not worthy to darn your socks'. Ha." "There are conventions, you know. Why were you so harsh on him, anyway?" "Bah, omniscience. Like omnipotent. Omnipotent Man certainly didn't prove to be. Why didn't he just do what he liked irrelevant of Retcon Roy? I doubt that the Oracle is knows everything either. Absolutes never are." [Omnipotent Man and Retcon Roy were in _R.E.J.E.C.T.S. '95 #1-2_ - Footnote Girl] Fan.Boy just raised an eyebrow at this. "Let's just go home. We can go home, can't we?" "Yep." Putting word to action, Fan.Boy kickstarted the engines. _-~-_ Meanwhile, back at the LNHQ two figures awaited Fan.Boy. They would lead him into a game more deadly than anything he had yet faced. They would live or die, the choice lay in his hands. They were [*BLiP*] [Hey, what are you doing here?] ["About that 'babe' comment."]Back to the Index.