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System Corruptors #28: The Queen’s Tale

And now we’re back to the classic LNH for this issue of System Corruptors (an anthology title featuring the LNH’s villains), which tells the tale of one of the LNH’s oldest and deadliest enemies, the Crossover Queen, written by the blog’s other co-maintainer, Adrian J. McClure. The Crossover Queen originally faced the LNH in 1992’s Cry.Sig on Infinite Net.Earths, where she was a parody of then-X-books editor Louise Simonson. After sporadically reappearing over the next decade, she returned in McClure’s Ultimate Mercenary (we’ll get to that someday), seeking to reverse the decline of Usenet through conquering the entire Internet. Even Tumblr isn’t safe…

This story reveals her true origin in the post Cry.sig history, far more complex and tragic (and Sailor Moon-influenced) than first appeared. It also explores her connections to other LNH characters like the cosmic champion Kid Kirby, Flipseid the dark lord of disco, and even—well, you’ll see.

Written by Adrian J. McClure

Originally posted June 20 2012

System Corruptors #28:
The Queen's Tale
by Adrian J. McClure

****

They had already lost the battle. There were only seven of them left.
The others all lay dead, struck down by the thunder and repulsor rays
and shields of their enemies. The disgustingly cute creatures were
closing in on them from all sides. Was this really how it was really
going to end? To die far from home, killed in the name of a Queen for
whom he had no love? He should have fled--but then he would be a
deserter, and he would make the Queen his personal enemy. And there
was a part of him, drilled into him by relentless training, that was
pushing him on, even though he desired neither death nor victory.

The cry rang out: "Retreat!" General Urrakh flew up above the
battlefield, and the rest of the gorilla troops followed him. He found
he was almost more afraid to retreat than to advance. The Queen would
not be pleased with this, he knew. Still, stinking of sweat and blood,
they returned to the Crossover Citadel.

He did not feel relieved to see the jagged dark edifice. There was a
time when this had not been his home, when he and his people had
roamed free in rec.arts.comics.gorillas. That was one of the first of
the Queen's conquests. He had fought in so many wars in her name since
then, and most of them had been easily won. In those days the
excitement of seeing other worlds and battling mighty foes had
overridden his fear and hatred of the Queen. Only now did he realize
that the wars would never end.

Before long he came to the Queen's throne room with the other
survivors.  "So you have failed," said the Queen. Her pale face was
cold and impassive as it ever was.

"The Avengers fanart duplicates were simply too strong, my Queen,"
said Urrakh. "And too cute."

"How? All our attempts have failed!" He could see the first
flickerings of anger on her face. She turned to the severed head that
sat beside her throne, her constant companion. He remembered when she
had come down to the battlefield on rec.humor.oracle and beheaded the
Internet Oracle herself, enchanting his head to serve her. "Tell me,
Oracle. How do I conquer the Tumblrverse?"

The Oracle opened its mouth, and spoke in a distant, echoing voice:
"Dear Crossover Queen,

"Draw a picture of Loki making out with a horse.

"You owe the Oracle a complete season 1 boxed set of My Little Pony:
Friendship is Magic."

"And again you feed me nonsense," spat the Crossover Queen. "For every
useful thing you tell me, you give two answers like this. What kind of
game are you playing, Oracle?" The head remained silent. "Take it
away," she said to the two Knights who watched over her throne. "And
bring me a fanartist who can draw Loki making out with a horse, just
in case. The Crossover Queen demands it!" She turned to the gorilla
soldiers. "You may return to your barracks."

His brothers shuffled out of the room, but he stayed behind. He didn't
know what was keeping him here. It didn't feel like courage; it felt
like its opposite. He was simply too tired to care.

"What are you doing here?" said the Queen. She drew himself up to her
full height; almost as tall as him. There was something in her, he had
to admit, that he found beautiful as well as terrifying, strange alien
creature that she was: her grace, her dignity, her sheer presence.

"My lady," he said, in a small voice that did not sound like his own,
"I just want to know why. Why all these wars? What are you trying to
gain? When will we have won? When can we go home?"

The queen met him with the full force of her terrible gaze. "It is not
your place to ask such a question. It is your place to serve me."

"I want to know who it is that I serve, and why."

The Queen turned away from him. She stared off into the distance, past
the ornate tapestries of stories from countless worlds, past the
Citadel, into the shifting many-colored skies of the world they were
invading. "Hmmm. Perhaps I shall tell you. Perhaps it is best if
someone knows. It has been many a year since anyone has known of who I
was before I held this crown." She took the crown off her head and
regarded it as if for the first time, turning it over in her hands.
She frowned slightly, and sharply focused gaze became distant.
"Listen. You shall hear a story..."

****

Once upon a time, there was a land called rec.arts.anime.creative. In
those days it was a vibrant place, filled with a great many worlds.
One of those worlds was a world of song and crystal, peaceful and all
but perfect. It was guided by an ancient order of priest-warriors,
though they had not fought for countless years, who were known
throughout the world for their justice and wisdom. In that world there
lived a princess whose name is now forgotten to all. She was kind and
caring, wise and thoughtful, bold and courageous in equal measure. She
was beautiful, too, and the greatest poets of a thousand worlds sang
love-songs to her. Yet in her heart she was not content. She longed
after adventures such as her ancestors had known of old, in the age
when this world was wild and perilous.

One day a traveler came to this world, and his name is now forgotten
to all, even the one who once loved him. He had come from the land of
rec.arts.comics.creative, and it was he who stole the Power Kirby from
Alt.halla and brought it to the mortal realms. The tales he told her
of the worlds he had seen spoke to her heart more than the wonders and
engines and songs that others had made for her. And so she disguised
herself and left her world by his side, and they walked together for
many years and saw many strange worlds and faced many mighty foes. And
it was they who first faced the Bryttle Brothers and built the beige
clocktowers where they were sealed. And in time their hearts were
consumed by love for one another, like unto a sacrifice, and they came
to love each other more than their journeys.

But in time the gods of Alt.halla fell upon them. They could not slay
the First Kirbian, for the Source had decreed that there needs must be
one who wields the Power Kirby in the mortal realms, but they laid
this doom upon him: that he might never be reunited with his love and
they would be ever apart. She returned to her world and the people of
that world rejoiced and the poets, who had been silent, sang songs
again. But she did not rejoice, but wasted away for love and for all
that she had lost.

And another of her order came upon her when she was weeping and said,
"Sister, why do you weep?"

"I weep for the memory of my love, and for all that I have lost. For
the Gods of Alt.halla have laid this doom upon us, that we might never
be reunited and be ever apart, and the doom of the Gods none can
gainsay."

And the battle-sister remembered a tale that had once been told her,
of a wild forest in a distant world of their system where none dared
venture, and a man who stood at a crossroads in that world by a
gallows-tree, a god who had traveled from an age where Alt.halla was
not. And that god could grant any favor asked of him, though the price
he asked was grevious. But if the princess did not have her love she
would surely die. So the battle-sister told her of that world, and the
princess set out for the wild forest and for the crossroads. She came
upon a great barren tree where three men were hanged, and three great
carrion birds sat upon its branches. And beneath the tree stood a man
wrapped in shadows, whose eyes burned like coals. And he said unto
her, "sister, what is thy desire?"

"I long for the man who once I loved and the worlds that are denied
me."

"Then I shall grant you the Crossover Force, and you shall walk among
the worlds anew. But you must grant me this: that you bring me the
heart of the first living thing you see in the world of your love's
birth."

The princess wept for joy and set out once more into the worlds. She
came upon the world of Alt.flame, war-scarred and desolate, and found
herself amidst a great battle which had begun before anyone living
could remember, where countless millions lay dead. She formed a new
order of champions to bring peace to that world, and built a Round
Table made of techno-organic wood which did not burn to store the
memories of those champions should they die, and they fought there for
many years.

When peace had come at last, her heart still ached for the one she
loved, and so she came to RACC. When she came there she found her love
awaiting her, and she embraced him and rejoiced. But then she called
to mind the oath she had made to the Man at the Crossroads. She
thought to renounce her oath but knew that if she did so her
fellowship would be lost forever, and she wept. "Love, why do you
weep?" said the First Kirbian.

"I weep for joy at thy sight. Let us go together where we may be
alone." And so he took her to a green and lush world where men were
not, and she made for him a bower, cunningly woven, and he laid his
head upon the bower. And she sang for him a song that the man at the
crossroads had made for her, and he fell asleep, and when he was
asleep she pierced his heart with a knife and cut it out. And the man
in the crossroads came to her and took from her her payment, and she
forgot the name of the one she once had loved. And she wept and cried
out, "Cursed be this world forever for the evil that was done here."
And the world was laid waste, and its name was called Hy'de'uzz, and
it shall remain desolate forever until the children of VAMMO set foot
upon it. But this world was a place of power because of the rite that
was carried out there, and so her citadel was brought here. And though
she forgot his name, she has ever mourned for her love on the
anniversary of the day she slew him, and she cloaks herself in a veil.

The Queen now knew no peace in her heart, but only the hunger for war.
And her name was struck from the monuments and books of her world and
all the songs that had been sung for her were forgotten, and in time
she too forgot her own name. She went forth and conquered many worlds
and brought forth lamentation. And when the power her love's death had
granted her ran out, she took the artists and heroes of many worlds,
those in whom the Power Kirby burned, and drank it from them, killing
them. And some of her company turned against her and some remained by
her side, and the Table itself became her enemy. And the priest-
warriors of her world came to defeat her, and for the first time in
countless years they knew war. The friend who had guided her to the
crossroads, who had once been her oath-sister, battled her and sealed
her and her Citadel in flame and in archive. And she wept for the
friend she had lost long ago.

And the gods of Alt.halla chose a new Kirbian, one who knew not love
according to the flesh, that he might not share the fate of he who
came before him. And the Table, it is said, went forward in time to
the day that the Queen would be freed from her imprisonment, but he
too forgot himself and his mission.

And the Queen remained sealed in flame and in archive for countless
years, until the Bryttle Brothers came again. The battle in which they
were slain broke the spell where she had been sealed. When she awoke,
she saw that a doom would one day come upon her world and all those
that surrounded it. In time the Internet would grow, and the flame of
Usenet would flicker and die, till one day even the sphammers would
desert it. And so it was that she made war to take the life from newer
and younger worlds and return it to the worlds she once had known. And
whether she may one day win and whether her victory would make up for
all she had lost, no one can say.

****

The Queen regarded her reflection in the crown she held in her hand.
Slowly, her hands trembling, she returned it to her head. "Thus has
your question been answered," she said. "Now begone." He looked
briefly into her eyes, and saw pain and grief that no words could
contain, that was greater, perhaps, even than his own. The hateful
words he had hoped to speak died on his lips. He turned away from her
and opened the doors.

There he saw the two Knights facing him. "Kill him," said the Queen,
in the hard, cold voice to which she was accustomed.

The Knights had struck him down before he could react. Had he turned
around, he might have seen a single tear fall down the Queen's cheek.

****

Notes:

I thought up most of this story shortly after writing Ultimate
Mercenary #6. I'd meant to post it closer to Flame Wars Final, as the
Crossover Queen plays a major role in the story I'm writing that's
tied in to that. But this story fits the theme of reexamining the
LNH's past that runs throughout other stories I'm writing and
participating in right now, so I thought this would be a good time to
post it.

My version of the Crosover Queen is a combination of Ayesha from H.
Rider Haggard's She, Mongul, Queen Beryl (with Flipseid serving as
Queen Metaria), and (major spoiler for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon,
which I haven't seen but know of through TVTropes) the live-action
version of Princess Serenity. Her romance with the First Kirbian owes
a lot to Ten/Rose, a pairing I never liked and which I felt diminished
both characters (as opposed to Nine/Rose).

She's also based on aspects of the comics industry that annoy or anger
me right now. The way she drains energy from artists and such, and
also uses crossover gimmicks to drain energy from comics readers a la
the Dark Kingdom, is based on Marvel and DC's treatment of creators
like Kirby, Alan Moore and Gary Friedrich. I am obviously still a
comics fan, though, and find a lot of value in the superhero work,
thus the tragic dimension of her origin. She has to keep finding
people to drain for Power Kirby, but it's getting harder and harder as
Usenet is dying. She's fighting constant battles over and over again
and is unable to change or do anything new.

The Loki/Horse thing is a reference to Tumblr's obsession with movie!
Loki and the origin of Sleipnir, where Loki has sex with a horse.
There is definitely fanart.

Oh, and the framing sequence was inspired by the Suzanne Vega song
"The Queen and the Soldier."

I'm very happy that this story wound up being short for once. LNH v2
#52 will *not* be short.

****

The Crossover Queen was created by Jeff "Drizzt" Barnes. Reserved by
me, usable with permission.
The Knights were meant to be rogue Knights of Continuity, also created
by Drizzt,
Kid Kirby and the Power Kirby were created by Jameel Alkhafiz, used
with permission
The Bryttle Brothers were created by Scav
Flipseid was created by Dave Van Domelen
Table was created by Jef Kolodziej. (I couldn't figure out how to get
ahold of him, so I left that part as an implication.)

A final note—Table was a parody of Cable from the height of Liefeld’s popularity who appeared in the early LNH stories and was largely forgotten. That’s one of the great things about the LNH—you never know what character might become important or be more than they seem.

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