Flame Wars IV #2

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                by Jamie Rosen and Saxon Brenton
               in consultation with Martin Phipps

Part 2: Skirmishs

     There is a world beyond our world. A world inhabited by those who 
call themselves net.gods, and who claim as their own the inheritance of 
Kirby. This is the Fourth Net.World, and mighty are the beings who 
inhabit it.
     For time out of mind the evil net.god OMAR has wandered away from 
his putative home, the planet Topphorti in the Fourth Net.World. The 
place of residence of the infernal deity of trolling has been mobile 
through the dimensions of the rec.arts.comics.* usenet hierarchy and 
his pastime has been to generally act obnoxious.
     A task for which he is supremely well suited.
     And now he has been dispatched by his master Flipseid to the LNH 
Looniearth in rec.arts.comics.creative...


     Cheesecake-Eater Lad pointed his cheesecake dispensers at the 
hideous green and foul-mouthed troll who had seconds earlier been Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid. He was ready to open fire and encase the trans-
mogrified ARAK in quick-hardening cheesecake foam at the first sign 
of a physical (rather than verbal) attack.
     Beside him Chinese Guy dropped into a stance from which he could 
either attack or defend, while activating his LNH comm.thingie to alert 
Ultimate Ninja to this latest development. On Chinese Guy's shoulder 
Lenny the squirrel had fluffed himself up and was baring his teeth.
     Also in the lobby of the LNHHQ was Fred the receptionist, who was 
standing at his desk staring in their direction. "Fred, you'd better take 
cover," C-ELad called. Fred didn't seem to hear though, and for a second 
the net.hero thought that the man had been completely overcome with fear. 
Cheesecake-Eater Lad was still irritated with him from the prank that he 
and Frat Boy had pulled at his wife's expense [Last Issue -- Ed.], and at 
the moment was all too ready to think ill of him. 
     So it was only at the last second that C-ELad realised that the man 
was staring *past* the group of four of them standing near the lobby 
entrance. Just as Fred screamed, "Duck!" the door exploded.
     There was a brief sensation of heat, although no hint of smoke or 
smell of explosives. Then another ugly little troll stormed into the 
     "Well !@&* this!" it snarled. "Whatta bunch of loser @%#&*$. You 
loser dweebs are so friggin' useless!"
     "Who in Net.Hell do you think you are?" demanded Chinese Guy, having 
done his best to roll with the blast, and now positioning himself 
between the ARAK troll and the newcomer in an attempt to cover Cheesecake-
Eater Lad as the latter got to his feet.
     The response from the newcomer was to throw abuse at CGuy. Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid, however, breathed, "OMAR," in an undertone that 
was part adoration and part imprecation of loathing.
     "Cheesecake-Eater Lad, cover ARAK will you?" said Chinese Guy 
casually. "Don't let him happen to anybody, okay?" Then the Alt.stralian 
net.hero launched himself at the new arrival for an attack. He had no 
idea how strong this 'OMAR' was, and wasn't prepared to risk him getting 
those gnarled little green hands on him. So: "Donkey Kong barrel roll," 
he cried as he swept in under the troll and knocked him off his feet. 
"Double-barrel overarm hooter fling," he continued as he stuffed 
two fingers up OMAR's nose and threw the creature across the room. 
     Then, "Eeewww. Troll boogers!" Chinese Guy complained as realised 
the disproportionate amount of mucus that had gotten onto his hand during 
that last attack sequence. "Hey, Lenny! Just use your claws on this guy. 
He's just too foul for you to want to risk biting him!"
     "No worries," said the squirrel as he made a short distracting 
attack run from OMAR's blind side, leaping over his head from the rear 
and scratching at his face in passing.
     OMAR hadn't stopped calling out his an.omar.sity at the 
net.heroes, but was still able to quickly get to his feet and heft up a 
number of large pieces of rubble, which he promptly hurled at Chinese
     "Crikey. He's fast *and* strong," CGuy noted as he tried to dodge 
chunks of concrete the size of his own torso. His series of 
back-flips were almost all successful... right up until the last one. 
Clipped on the side and bleeding, Chinese Guy lost his balance halfway 
through a final handspring and fell to the floor.
     "Harhar, *loser*!" OMAR cackled sarcastically as he tossed another 
piece of debris from one hand to another in an anticipatory way. "Let's 
see you frickin' well get out of this."
     Cheesecake-Eater Lad prepared to let loose both barrels of his 
dispensers. The combined force of both of them would hopefully be enough 
to deflect the concrete, but it would mean risking turning his back on 
the ARAK troll. C-ELad had encased him in a glob of cheesecake foam when 
things had started to get hectic, but he was already beginning to 
break out.
     A force bolt blew the chunk of concrete to rubble even as it was 
being held in OMAR's wrinkled green hands. "You will do *nothing*, minion 
of Flipseid," pronounced the stentorian voice of Kid Kirby as he strode 
into the remains of the lobby, accompanied by a number of other 
Legionnaires. OMAR swore at them.
     "You know this guy?" Cheesecake-Eater Lad asked.
     "He is OMAR - the One Man Abusive Reaction," declared Kid Kirby. 
"Minion of Flipseid and most foul of the evil net.gods of Topphorti. 
His is the portfolio of trolling and hatred and flame."
     "Well, we've got him covered now," said Chinese Guy as he staggered 
to his feet.
     OMAR laughed. It was not a pleasant laugh. It was not the self-
deprecatory laugh of someone who has just realised that they are in 
deep trouble and is trying to make out that the whole thing had been a 
joke. Rather, it was the laugh of someone who thinks that you are a fool, 
and doesn't care if you know it or not. "You stupid %$#(* $# @*&^%. You 
think you've got the better of *me*! Watch this, +*&$ers!" OMAR reached 
out with gnarled hands and groped at the air. Around the room anything up 
to third of the Legionnaires who were present clutched at their heads in 
pain, and before the eyes of the others as these unfortunate net.heroes 
joined Anal-Retentive Archive Kid in being twisted into horrible little 
green troll clones as well.
     "Enough!" roared the Kirbian, grabbing OMAR by the shirt front and 
hoisting him into the air to shake him like a rag doll. "Does your 
perfidy know no bounds!?"
     OMAR gave no sign of being concerned in the face of Kid Kirby's 
wrath - indicating either supreme confidence or supreme stupidity. 
"Awww, don't cry little boy," he sneered.
     Kid Kirby snarled and threw the condescending little monster against 
a wall. Hard. But if he had expected OMAR to be damaged by the blow, he 
was to be disappointed. The resilience of the troll supreme was 
     And what few bruises and hurts OMAR did take he ignored for the 
sake of his own bombastic ego, so that he could insolently stand up to 
continue belittling his adversaries. "You irrelevant pussbuckets. You 
half-rate adolescent wannabes. You #\&^%ing mentally retarded @$$~#ers."
     Kid Kirby raised a gauntlet as if to unleash a power blast... and 
then paused. OMAR laughed in mockery. "Come on you $#@*ing tin-plated 
goonie! Take your best shot. You think your &%$#ing power's good enough 
to take *me* out!? Cretin! Moron! Fuggwit!" 
     Then Innovative Offense Boy was there. "You're good at #^&!ing 
dishing it out, man. But how good are you at taking it?" he asked with 
a predatory grin.
     "IOB, no!" ordered the Kirbian with a raised hand. Innovative 
Offense Boy did a double take at this. The One Man Abusive Reaction 
continued to spit profanities: "Ohhh. %#`*in-well had enough, have you. 
Chicken! @&#=en coward. Hiding in your armour so no-one can see you 
sweat! Little girly-boy!"
     "He is the net.god of trolling," Kid Kirby declaimed, ignoring his 
loathsome adversary's taunts. "Each attack of flame and abuse serves 
naught but to make him stronger!"
     Then the Kirbian leapt at OMAR, closing the ground between them in 
but a fraction of a second and pummelling the green troglodyte. "What is 
needed is the Zen of comic book fighting," Kid Kirby continued, smashing 
his gauntleted fists into OMAR's mouth and giving him no opportunity to 
react. "A battle whose motive force is neither the fear nor hate upon 
which this creature thrives, but instead the pure dynamic energy of 
masterly graphic design! Behold as I call upon the power of the story-
telling skill of Jack Kirby, and we are carried inexorably from panel to 
panel in the narrative sequence by the powerful sense of composition!" 
     For the next few panels of art the two of them are indeed swept 
along in a current of powerfully drawn images, with Kid Kirby hammering 
OMAR mercilessly and culminating with him grabbing the alien troll and 
ploughing him into the rubble-strewn floor. Kid Kirby was not surprised 
that OMAR was not badly hurt, but at least he had managed to shut OMAR 
up, since it's so very hard to talk when you're spitting rubble out of 
your mouth.
     Kid Kirby turned to IOBoy and said, "Go now. Make use of your 
abilities against those lesser trolls who can be overcome by your flames. 
Needs be that others must deal with their master." Innovative Offense Boy 
gave Kid Kirby a nod, and turned to aid the other Legionnaires with the 
troll clones.
     OMAR began to rise, prompting Kid Kirby to grab him by the scruff 
of the neck and shove his face back into the debris. As he did so the 
Kirbian noted that OMAR was still immensely strong, strong enough to 
begin forcing himself upright against Kirby's own considerable might. The 
amount of hatred that OMAR must have sown in Net.ropolis and across the 
globe must be staggering! 
     OMAR forced himself to his hands and knees, snarling obscenities 
to accompany the movement of every muscle. Kirby was impressed despite 
himself, and redoubled his own efforts. Then with a mighty heave OMAR 
threw his opponent away and rose to his feet and began scream abuse that 
is not fit to print even using the cryptography of typewriter cursing. 
     How dare they? OMAR fumed at the hubris of these mortals. How DARE 
     Kid Kirby righted himself and assumed a battle stance. But he did 
not attack. Not yet. "You are powerful, o master of hate," he declaimed. 
"But methinks your power comes from outside sources. How many innocents 
have you corrupted, how many old wounds have you ripped open to bleed 
red and raw to feed your furnaces of animosity?"
     Kid Kirby wasn't expecting a coherent answer from the alien god, 
and didn't get one. For his part he began drawing forth incomprehensible-
looking technology from the reaches of the Kirby Zone, planning to build 
a blocking device that would sever OMAR from his source of artificial 
power. But as the innumerable pieces of technological-seeming stuff 
appeared and floated majestically at his command, Special Bonding Boy 
appeared by Kid Kirby's side and said, "If that's so, then maybe I can 
be of help."
     Kid Kirby glanced at the empath and immediately saw the logic in 
Special Bonding Boy's offer. It was such an obvious plan. But would SBB 
have the *power* to implement it? No matter; it was a brave plan and 
worthy of the Kirbian's respect. "As you see fit," he said.
     Special Bonding Boy took a step forward towards OMAR and said, 
clearly and unafraid, "Minion of Flipseid, greetings and defiance. 
Surrender now, or be destroyed."
     OMAR made a lengthy diatribe casting doubt on Special Bonding 
Boy's ancestry back for the last five generations.
     Special Bonding Boy simply shrugged, since he had not really 
expected any better from the alien flamer, and then did his stuff.
     At this point, let us make a digression about the nature of love...
     There are many types of love - ranging from eros, erotic love, 
through amor, romantic love, to agape, divine love. The one we are 
interested in here is philos, brotherly love. The love of the rest of 
humanity. For many net.heroes it is the basis of their motivation to 
dress up in long underwear and fight crime - only the vengeance obsessed 
Dark Avengers fall outside of its aegis. It is the type of love that 
makes you want to throw your arms around the world and teach it to sing 
in perfect harmony. Or at least buy it a Mr. Paprika.
     And it should go without saying that Special Bonding Boy is *very* 
good at doing philos.
     OMAR screamed as if he had been dunked in acid.
     There were no more smart remarks coming from the troll god's foul 
mouth now. Just a continuous raw cry of pain torn from the pit of what 
we'll charitably call his soul. Around the building similar cries of 
pain and horror were coming from the troll clones.
     With blinding speed OMAR lashed out, picking up and throwing at 
Special Bonding Boy another piece of that ever-so-handy debris that was 
lying around. Kid Kirby interposed himself to protect SBBoy, easily 
deflecting the debris. In the split-instant of that distraction, OMAR 
ran away at superhuman speed. He leapt through the blast hole that he 
had created where the door into the lobby had been and was off down the 
street in less than a second.
     "Th... thanks," said Special Bonding Boy.
     "It is of no moment," said the Kirbian. "Ho, Fearless Leader. I see 
that many of OMAR's troll clones have been captured."
     "Yes," agreed the Legion's deputy leader. "But a lot of them got 
away too," he said, feeling the bitter need to point out the obvious 
     Special Bonding Boy sighed. "I'm sorry that OMAR escaped. I could 
sense his power withering away under my attack, but he was still strong 
enough for a physical counter-attack. Unlike these poor souls," he 
added, indicating some few of the troll clones who had been Legionnaires 
who had simply collapsed unconscious when SBBoy had unleashed philos.
     "It seems that even after taking the measure of his power that you 
do not fully understand," said Kid Kirby. "He is no mere alien 
troublemaker. He is a god of the fourth net.world. Even the lowliest of 
Flipseid's minions is a force to be reckoned with."
     "Then how could he have been affected by Special Bonding Boy at 
all?" Fearless Leader asked.
     "Because he had absolutely no defences against love," explained SBB. 
"If you want we could go into an extended discussion on how 'Love 
Conquers All' is a fundamental comic book principle - it certainly is in 
the Kurt Busiek books - but that would only explain how it could be 
strong enough to affect him at all. The true crux of the matter is that 
OMAR doesn't understand anything but hate. He isn't even one of those 
manipulators who can use love and affection by twisting it into 
interesting ways to mess people up. He literally can't understand it, 
let alone defend against it."
     Fearless Leader nodded grimly. "That's something that we might be 
able to work on, at least." He looked around the lobby and called for 
everybody's attention. "Okay people, listen up. I'm going to want some 
people to help carry the transformed down to sickbay, and want some 
others to head out into the city to try and keep a lid on the fighting 
between the normals while also keeping a sharp lookout for any signs of 
OMAR or his Legion troll clones who've escaped. If anybody sees anything 
from the latter two, you're to call back to the LNHHQ immediately for 
back up. That means I'll also be wanting a few of you to stay here and 
act as emergency backup and maybe shift relief for later."


     Within a few moments net.heroes were scurrying about as they took to 
their assignments. Cheesecake-Eater Lad was heading for the cafeteria to 
help clean it up and generally have it ready with food for when the weary 
troops started coming back. Halfway down the corridor, there was a cry of 
"Cheesecake-Eater Lad!" and C-ELad was bowled over by something big and 
     "Whaooofff! Huh? Hey, Barnabas! Good to see you. What are you doing 
here?" he asked as he picked himself up off the floor where he had been 
knocked by Captain Rat Creature."
     "Oh, just visiting," replied the giant hamster. "Well, mainly 
visiting. Oh, hello," he added, as aLLiterative Lass arrived.
     "Hello Honey," she said.
     "aLLi. Hi. Have you met Captain Rat Creature? Cannon Fodder, Retcon 
Lad and myself met him during the aborted 'Death Of Cheesecake-Eater Lad' 
attempt at a cascade from a few years back. Captain, this is my wife, 
aLLiterative Lass."
    The other two exchanged greetings. Cheesecake-Eater Lad said. "We 
just had a bit of a fight in the front lobby. An attack by a guy who 
turned people into trolls. Did either of you catch any of that?"
     "InDeed we Did. The Cafeteria was Crawling with Costumed Champions 
who Changed to an evil Cause."
     "I came back to the LNHHQ looking for my sister and scented it 
happen," confirmed Captain RAC as the three of them walked towards the 
cafeteria. "We fought for a bit, then most of them collapsed in pain or 
something. The others ran away."
     Cheesecake-Eater Lad nodded and explained how OMAR had been pole-
axed by Special Bonding Boy. When he had finished, Captain Rat Creature's 
eyes were wide. "OMAR was a minion of Flipseid's!? That fits then. We 
came to the Looniearth to warn you about a possible threat - either from 
the Galactic Council or from Flipseid. We weren't sure which."
     "I'm not sure I understand."
     Captain Rat Creature explained about the confrontation that had 
taken place on Webster's World between the Council, Flipseid, and 
Splashpage, and how the Etaoin Shrdlu representative had advised that 
the giant radioactive space hamsters to warn the Legion of an impending 
extraterrestrial attack. "It looks like it was Flipseid who took umbrage 
and decided to punish this world for Splashpage's actions," he concluded.
     "That will not please Fearless Leader," said aLLiterative Lass 
thoughtfully. "He is the Sole Survivor of another Looniearth further 
across the Sidereal String. His Continuum died Catastrophically beCause 
of a Curse laid by Flipseid."
     "You're right," C-ELad agreed sadly. Then a thought occurred to him. 
He turned to Captain Rat Creature and asked, "You came here with your 
sister, you said. Does she know you're playing at being a net.hero?"
     "I am not *playing* at anything," replied Captain Rat Creature with 
an attempt at immense dignity.
     "Does she know where you are and what you're doing?" C-ELad insisted.
     "Uhm, well... No."
     Cheesecake-Eater Lad sighed. "Barnabas, I appreciate that you want 
to help out, but you shouldn't just sneak away from your family like 
that. Your sister will worry."
     "I THink I am missing someTHing."
     Now it was Captain Rat Creature's turn to sigh. "My people are a lot 
like loonihumanity here on Earth. We have a high mutation rate - we 
*are* radioactive hamsters, after all - and nearly everyone has super-
cricetidean powers to some extent or another. Not many people have world 
shaking powers, though, and... and..."
     "What he's trying to say," said Cheesecake-Eater Lad, taking up the 
slack of the conversation, "is that when a youngster begins to develop 
truly 'super' superpowers - anything beyond the average for what they 
consider normal levels of power - people tend to treat them with kid 
gloves until they think they've been trained properly... Can use their 
powers responsibly..." He paused. "Which gives an awful lot of 
opportunity for teenaged mutant angst, come to think of it."
     "Told you we were a lot like you humans," said Captain Rat Creature 
just a touch snarkily.
     aLLiterative Lass threw a look at her husband. "Really Radioactive?" 
she asked.
     "Literally radioactive. Most of their energy output is in radio 
waves," said C-ELad offhandedly.
     "Pretty much everything thing else is weak alpha particles." added 
Captain Rat Creature with a shrug. "Easily soaked up by our radiation 
wards. We always wear them when off-planet to keep 'clean' for the aliens..."
     "BRANB'SS!!!" came an angry cry. Captain Rat Creature cringed. The 
two LNHers looked up to see another space hamster stalking towards them. 
"I have been looking *everywhere* for you! And what do I find you've been 
doing? Sneaking off and having silly #@*&ing fights with these dirty
     Instinct made Cheesecake-Eater Lad leap forward and tackle 
aLLiterative Lass just as Re'quee lashed out with her huge paws. If they'd 
hit they'd certainly have crushed either aLLi or himself. As it was that 
single swipe smashed the reinforced wall with terrible ease.
     aLLiterative Lass threw Cheesecake-Eater Lad aside. Her features 
where twisting... turning green. "Hey! Stop that you #@~*ing alien 
Freak!" she screamed.
     .oO( Oh no. Not again!) thought the horrified Cheesecake-Eater Lad. 
( Don't panic. Keep calm. OMAR's powers affect people overcome with 
emotion... especially hate! ). But he certainly couldn't keep these two 
separated without help. He looked about and recalled the presence of 
Captain Rat Creature. "Barnabas, help me!" he called, but to his 
dismay the giant hamster just sat there. He decided to try his 
comm.thingy instead, and barked out, "Security alert. Another troll fight 
scene on level 1."
     Just as Cheesecake-Eater Lad was about to let loose with his cheese-
cake dispensers, Captain Rat Creature threw a pawfull of silvery dust at 
aLLiterative Lass and Re'quee. Within a few seconds they were unconscious 
on the floor."
     "Sleep spell," muttered Captain Rat Creature, sitting down heavily 
on his haunches. Cheesecake-Eater Lad blinked and cancelled the security 
alert, even as some more LNHers came running up. "You okay?" he asked.
     "It's the second time I've done that today," the hamster muttered, 
wobbling a bit where he sat. "It takes a lot out of me."
     One of the newcomers was Hell Catalyst, who looked thoughtfully at 
the exhausted alien, and then back at the two out-of-it women. She turned 
to Theory Man and Retcon Lad and told them, "Too bad Giant Wandering Cow 
Kid turned troll, we could use him to carry them. We'll need a stretcher 
for aLLi, and a medical gerney for the big fellow. Either that or a 
*lot* of help to carry them."
     Theory Man's reply was cut off as OMAR struck back and nuked 
Net.ropolis, killing all of the Legionnaires horribly.


     The pain had worn off within minutes, and now OMAR was incensed. 
Okay, okay, incensed was his normal state, and he'd been that before that 
the snotty little curs of the Legion had dared stand up to him in the 
first place. But being hurt like that, and being forced to run away...
     Actually, OMAR tended to slink off after most confrontations, but 
he always tried to throw in a Parthian shot to make it look as though he 
was turning his back in disdain on worthless dirtbags who weren't worth 
his attention. His bombastic ego demanded no less. But Flipseid had given 
him orders to raze the Legion as the most likely source of trouble, and 
Flipseid would be... displeased with OMAR if he simply gave up now.
     Already at the back of his mind he was working out rationalisations 
about how the LNH had cheated and their victory 'didn't count'.
Meanwhile, his conscious attention was centred on revenge. He was going
to wipe them out like the slime that they were. No more indulging in a
glorious fist-fight and giving his enemies the privilege of the seeing
the face of the one who killed them. The were going to die. Decisively.
Over-whelmingly. With such force that the entire frickin' city that they
were in would be a smoking crater.
     OMAR reached out, and across the planet he could feel the millions 
upon millions of people who had already embraced his apostleship of hate. 
The feeling was wonderful, and the power he received from their hate was 
normally more than enough to energise him against any opponent. Now the 
net.god of flaming began drawing on that power, sucking it in with a 
brutal force. Many of his troll clones wavered or even collapsed as wave 
of enervation swept over them. Some of them dropped dead as their life 
force was totally given over to hate and drained away completely.
     It took but a few minutes, and then OMAR held in his hands a pulsing 
ball of red light that throbbed in time to his own evil heart-beat. It 
was emotion given physical form, loathing and anger and disgust converted 
to raw energy - hate made manifest.
     From where OMAR stood on a mountainside some seventy kilometres to 
the south-west of Net.ropolis, he could distantly see the skyscrapers of 
the central business district in their haze of smog. He stared at it for 
a while, fixing the image in his mind and letting his anger at the Legion 
build and fester. Then with a bellow of rage he hurled the red sphere 
towards the city center. Guided more by the 'targeting system' of what 
OMAR felt hate against than by any physical trajectory, the sphere 
catapulted toward its victim.
     The actual detonation occurred a few hundred meters above 
RACC.Arthur Park, not too far from the Legion's headquarters. In an 
instant the city center was vaporised, as OMAR's hate exploded like an 
ersatz nuclear bomb. The lord of hate was not adverse to making use of 
natural phenomena, especially since it would leave the city contaminated 
and unclean for untold generations to come.


     "THAT!" yelled Retcon Lad.
     Hell Catalyst and the others suddenly found themselves alive and 
not at all cripsy-fried, standing in the hallway of the LNHHQ where 
barely a minute earlier aLLiterative Lass and R'quee had fought.
     But the nasty memory of being incinerated lingered, and all of them 
were shaken.
     A grimacing Retcon Lad was standing in the middle of the hall, with 
his arms outstretched as if to hold onto something by main force. Sparks 
of red and blue drama were crawling down his arms and earthing themselves 
in the floor.
     Hell Catalyst shot a quick glance around, and said, "Okay, what 
     "OMAR tried to kill us," replied Retcon Lad through gritted teeth. 
She noticed he was sweating.
     "I guess he didn't do a very good job then," Cheesecake-Eater Lad 
joked weakly.
     "He did a very good job," countered Retcon Lad. "My powers 
automatically retcon me back to life after I've died, and I recognise 
the feeling of coming back. We were dead. Net.ropolis was destroyed."
     "Well obviously you've done something to fix that," said Hell 
Catalyst forthrightly, "and it's just as obvious that you haven't been 
able to get that fix to take. What have you done, what's getting in the 
way, and what help do you need from the rest of us?"
     Retcon Lad shot her a grateful smile. "I've retconned his attack 
into being an illusion." Then he grinned a particularly savage grin. 
"I've retconned his whole power to use hate as an energy attack into an 
illusion. The little bastard won't be flash frying anyone with *that* 
trick again."
     "Good work," commented Hell Catalyst, and the others all nodded. 
"So what's wrong?"
     Now that grin of satisfaction vanished, replaced by bemusement and 
the start of panic. "I... I'm getting resistance. I don't know what's 
happening. The only time I felt anything like this was when I was 
fighting Retcon Raccoon back during the _Saviours Of The Net_ cascade."
     "Probably the resistance is coming from OMAR himself," said Theory 
Man grimly. "If he's a net.god as Kid Kirby suggested, then he'll 
have some measure of control over reality as well." Then instead of 
momentarily cringing as he often did when he had proposed a Theory and 
had to see whether the universe was going to agree with him or not, 
Theory Man glared about, as if daring the universe to contradict him. 
The universe deigned not to do so.
     "Right then," said Retcon Lad, still sparking drama discharge. He 
orientated his attention to a distant point that was suddenly obvious as 
the source of the resistance he was fighting. "You and me OMAR, mano a 
mano. I am not in the mood for this, and you... you are *toast*."
     "No RL," said Hell Catalyst, drawing a sharp look from Retcon Lad. 
She drew up to him and said, "Don't let him antagonise you into making 
stupid mistakes. You don't have to fight him alone. *None* of us have 
to fight him alone." She laid a hand on his arm, causing the red and 
blue sparks to run down her body as well as they their way down to earth 
themselves in the floor. "We are the Legion of Net.Heroes. United, we 
cannot be defeated. When you need help against the villains, all you have 
to do is ask."
     Retcon Lad felt her willpower add to his in the pseudo-plausible 
way that these things happen in comic book universes. Silently Theory 
Man stepped up on the other side and also gripped an arm, tripling the 
available determination. Cheesecake-Eater Lad and Captain Rat Creature 
joined them.
     The battle of wills that followed was short lived. Together they 
visualised an implacable wedge that drove at OMAR's mind. The little 
alien resisted briefly, and then there was a sensation like the snapping 
of some gigantic circuit breaker. The sense of OMAR's presence and the 
resistance he was putting up vanished.
     "That everything?" Captain Rat Creature asked dubiously, noting that 
the sparks that Retcon Lad was putting off had diminished in number but 
by no means gone away entirely.
     "Not quite. There's still a bit of house cleaning to take care of," 
said Retcon Lad. "One of the limitations on my power is that that bigger 
the effect, or the further back in the past it was, the more detrimental 
to the fabric of reality it is. This was recent, but *big*. OMAR's 
been run off, but as soon as I let go of my grip on things local reality 
is going to be deranged by the changes I've made. Probably terminally 
     "Fine then," said Hell Catalyst, who was more or less cruising on 
an adrenalin high by this point and felt that she could face one more 
threat to the continued existence of everything with equanimity. "What 
     "Theory Man, can I have a Theory on why the bottom isn't going 
to fall out of reality like the bottom out of a wet paper bag as soon as 
I relax my metaphysical grip?" Retcon Lad asked.
     Theory Man looked a little startled. "Ah. Are you sure that's wise? 
If the universe decides to disagree with me... well, this is a life-or-
death situation..."
     "...And we'll be done for. Yes. But look at it this way: anything 
you can do increases our chance of survival up to a massive fifty 
percent," said Retcon Lad with a calm that was almost surreal.
     Theory Man looked at Hell Catalyst.
     "You can do it," she said encouragingly.
     He shrugged and scratched the back of his neck as he thought. "Well, 
historically the people writing in shared writing universes have tended 
to 'wipe away' any damage that's done to setting as a whole. That's why 
the 'Cosmic Reset Button' effect is so often employed to handwave away 
the effects of past disasters. Take a look at all of the fans' 
expectations that the destruction of Washington in the recent 'Kang War' 
would be done away with, and the surprise when it was announced that it 
wouldn't be undone by temporal paradox..."
     "And scepticism," pointed out Cheesecake-Eater Lad. "A lot of them 
still expect it to be quietly ignored."
     "Yes," agreed Theory Man. "Which reinforces my point. So. I would 
therefore hypothesise that since Retcon Lad is returning Net.ropolis to 
a default state in general rather than making changes to it for his own 
advantage in specific, that any damage that his powers would normally 
do to reality will be mitigated by the Looniverse's tendency towards 
maintaining it's continuity."
     Retcon Lad nodded and slowly drew in his arms from their 
outstretched position. He had a searching look on his face, and then his 
expression cleared into a smile. "Good job, TM."


     Outside of Net.ropolis, Corporal Hernadez was on guard duty at the 
gates of Fort Baxter. The place was on high alert, and all things 
considered that wasn't much of a surprise.
     There had been reports of nuclear attack - indeed, Hermandez had 
seen a fireball over the city centre with his own eyes. Now there was 
nothing, and Hernandez suspected it was some sort of elaborate scheme 
by a net.villain against the Legion. You got to see all sorts of weird 
stuff when you were stationed at Net.ropolis.
     Still, the brief sensation of being burnt alive was one that 
lingered with him. It was not a pleasant memory, and at times like this 
it make sense that the Fort was on the alert in case the situation 
became more involved.
     A small green man walked up to the gates. Hernandez challenged his 
presence and was about to put him under arrest when the ugly little 
creature looked up at him in irritated surprise and spat out, "Oh, just 
kill this dweeb."
     Whereupon Hernandez was stabbed in the back.
     As he fell to ground Hernandez got a good look at the other guards, 
Williams and Cholowski. They had green faces twisted into hideous rictus 
grins, and the knives that they had just used to rip open Hernandez's 
back were covered in blood. And then Corporal Hernandez died.
     Oblivious to all this, OMAR looked thoughtfully at Fort Baxter. 
Then he nodded and walked in through the gates to find out where the 
weapons of mass destruction were being held within his new fiefdom.


     Meanwhile, in the LNHHQ medilab Organic Lass pulled back in surprise 
and alarm. "Doctor Stomper!" she called out. In response she got both Dr. 
Stomper and Dr Bad-Bedside-Manner.
     Dr Bad-Bedside-Manner whistled. "Well, this little troll clone sure 
looks in a bad way. I'd say he's pretty much a goner."
     "He *is* a goner," snapped Organic Lass. "Subplot Lad here just 
died within the last two minutes. Look at this."
     Dr Bad-Bedside-Manner took the page of scant medical readouts that 
had been able to be accumulated over the past half hour. There weren't 
many of them. The medical emergency of scores of Legionnaires being 
transformed into trolls had forced the health staff to deal with the most 
urgent cases first - such as medical complications - and then put most of 
what time was left into trying to come up with a cure. Everybody else has 
been sedated - or in some extreme cases placed in temporal stasis.
     Dr Stomper was looking over the body with a scan.thingie. He 
frowned. "He died of a brain tumour." Stomper looked at his colleagues. 
"I don't recall him having a condition anything like that."
     "He didn't," said Organic Lass as she consulted the database with 
the Legion's medical records.
     "So," said Dr Bad-Bedside-Manner, "We've gone beyond ripping off 
'Eclipso: The Darkness Within' and into 'The Last Laugh'." He frowned. 
"And it looks like the Writers want to celebrate the Legion's 10th 
anniversary with a bloodbath."

Character credits:
     aLLiterative Lass created by Charles Fitzgerald. Used without 
     Anal-Retentive Archive Kid, Branb'ss (Captain Rat Creature), Retcon 
Lad and Re'quee created by Saxon Brenton.
     Cheesecake-Eater Lad, Dr Stomper, and Innovative Offense Boy are 
Public Domain.
     Chinese Guy and Lenny are Public Domain. Kinda sorta created by 
Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen) and Saxon Brenton.
     Dr Bad-Bedside-Manner created by Tick (Peter Milan).
     Fearless Leader is Public Domain. Created by Dvandom.
     Fred the receptionist is Public Domain.
     Hell Catalyst created by Jeff McCoskey. Used without permission.
     Kid Kirby created by Jameel al Khafiz. Used without permission.
     OMAR is Public Domain. Created by Saxon Brenton.
     Organic Lass created by Rebecca Dreyer. Used without permission.
     Special Bonding Boy created by wReam (Ray Bingham).
     Theory Man created by wReam for Dennis Towne.

Add Notes:
     During the development of this series one topic that came up was 
going to be to addressed - at least in part - the issue of the cumbersome 
size of the Legion of Net.Heroes, and putting forward an opportunity 
to... prune... it a bit. 
     For those of you who aren't familiar with the issue, here's the 
google address of the discussion thread that Arsenal the Lone Warrior 
launched in mid September of 2000:
     Most of this has fallen by the wayside. Nevertheless, for those 
LNH Writers who have extra characters and are feeling particularly 
misanthropic, please email me with a list of characters that you would 
like killed off horribly by the machinations of the One Man Abusive 
Reaction. And please limit your homicidal tendencies to already extant 
characters that you have created or somehow own outright; no nominating 
other peoples' net.heroes, thank you.

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