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"The Secret History of Looniverse Occultism! Stay the Night With Me...?"
I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
We know we'll never keep
--Genesis, "Land of Confusion"
April 12th, 2023. Three days since the Ultimate Ninja went missing.
As Masterplan Lad left the room, Occultism Kid smiled ruefully. They wished
every problem they encountered would be so easily solved.
They turned back to the large wooden reading desk they had inherited from the
previous Occultism Kid. On one side was a stack of the LNH's records from past
incursions of the Universal Office, and on the other, a stack of journals
belonging to the August One, also known as the original Occultism Kid, also
known as their own past life.
They had been asked by the Ultimate Ninja, before she disappeared, to look into
the origins of this mysterious Unknown Ninja. It had soon become clear that he
was impossible to scry on, so they dug deeper, reaching out into the mystic
portents and checking in with their network of contacts in Net.ropolis's
prodigious magical underworld. And what they discovered had shocked them: There
was something big happening right under the LNH's collective noses, something
that both the old magical families and the newer upstarts were all focused on -
something known as the Red Stapler War.
They had dug thru the knowledge their mentor had left behind, and discovered a
number of references to the Red Stapler, but only in the context of something
the August One had gone thru. So, with trepidation, they pulled out the
Though they had learned much of their mentor's experiences as Occultism Kid,
they had avoided looking deeply into the Occultism Kid that had come before.
Reading about his adventures gave them the distinct sense of walking over their
own grave - but it was time. And since beginning this walk, they had learned
much, for the August One had been a participant in the last Red Stapler War...
In the High-Index Realms (wrote the August One), they have legends of heroes,
Hercules, Gilgamesh, King Arthur, which trickle down to our world. But our
world has its own legends, and in those is the power we tapped into. Those long
dead were most reliable, but anyone who ascended to the status of legend was a
potential target; I have heard rumors of living men being dragged into the
ritual, but have seen no evidence of it with my own eyes.
In the rituals I saw, the legends were summoned into homunculi known as Meeples,
and bound to their summoners as Server and Client. They fought and destroyed
one another, and the Client of the last one left became the one to hold the
Instrument of the Office, the Red Stapler. Though born from inanimate clay,
they were living beings, created to serve and die as soldiers in someone else's
As I look out upon our world, I cannot help but see the parallel. What will
happen, I wonder, to the generation of children that we sent heedlessly into
the service of democracy, now that their service has ended?
Occultism Kid stopped for a moment, sighed. Moved on.
The Servers were bound to certain heroic archetypes, including the Angel, the
Champion, the Deliverer, the Firebrand, the Forsaken, the Piper, the Shadow,
the Wanderer, and the Dragon. I know that more exist, but have no details of
them; but all of these were represented in our Game.
My partner, I decline to say Servant, was the Dragon of the Eyrie. The Dragon
was a powerful archetype, but rarely used, for they were hard for the venal
mages of the great families to control. Their legends were the best of the best
and the worst of the worst, and sometimes both in one; for the dragon and the
dragonslayer are intimately intertwined.
As heroic as I believed myself to be, the two of us quarreled over means and
ends; he carried an idealism which went far beyond practicality. But to be sure,
it was both his power and his heroism that destroyed the Instrument and ended
the War; and had he survived, I would have welcomed him into my world as friend.
So, the Red Stapler had been destroyed. And this war had happened in... yes,
Occultism Kid slipped an LNH record book from the bottom of the stack, and
leafed thru... yes, the first modern incursion of the Universal Office had been
in 1993, twenty years later. [In the first Net.Trenchcoat Brigade story, Wrath
of the Administrator - Footnote Girl] And according to Kid Anarky's report and
eyewitness accounts from the few trenchcoaters willing to give the LNH the time
of day, the man known as the Netromancer had claimed to have been working on
his "master plan" for twenty years by the time he attacked the NTB.
Was the Netromancer some leftover of the War, or was he simply the first lucky
jerk to stumble on the Office after the Instrument had been destroyed? For the
moment, it didn't matter.
The Universal Office had been known in occult circles for a long time - for
thousands of years, some books claimed, though many of these claims were
spurious; research mages often claimed their new discoveries were part of a
long history in order to legitimize them, and many truly old books of magic had
new chapters thrown in by those who had translated them from Aramaic to Greek
to Arabic to church Latin to English. Nevertheless, even mundane scholarship
had found records from ancient Sumer that seemed to reference the Office.
But none of the sources of occult knowledge Occultism Kid had access to made
mention of the Red Stapler War. Of course, most of those sources had at some
point passed thru the libraries of those magically powerful families that had
played the so-called Great Game; was it a surprise that they would destroy or
lock away such records?
Most of the texts that mentioned the Office attributed its creation to a god
named "Xeroxes", who had supposedly had a hand in bureaucratic systems for
thousands of years. According to Kid Anarky, the trenchcoater Thirteen had
summoned such a being, who had said that there was no longer a need for him to
"guide bureaucracy" and shut the Office down.
Who was this Xeroxes? And if the Great Game was over, why was another War
starting up, fifty years after the last one? Was someone trying to make a new
Damn. Damn damn damn. They'd only been asked to investigate the Unknown Ninja.
Did he have anything to do with this War? What about this mysterious Kid
Unknown? Nina's disappearance? Was it all connected, or were there multiple
plots running in parallel?
They sighed again, deeper, more painful, an expression of frustration and grief
they would not have let out if there had been anyone to see it. Their
predecessor self had done his best to end the cycle of death and destruction.
Their mentor had dealt with years of unexpected fallout, keeping things running.
And now, they would have to throw their entire being into taking apart the
shambling corpse of the terror that had been, lest it come to swallow the world
And yet, they couldn't give it their full attention, because they still had to
worry about *voting* and *politics* and a bunch of petty squabbles so they
could make sure some tinpot fascist didn't sneak in in the back door while they
were distracted by the bigger problems!
Occultism Kid stood up. Occultism Kid left the room, walked down the hallway,
stopped at a water cooler, and had a drink.
Well, as the election went, they were still a ways from voting; the nomination
period hadn't ended yet. So there was time to scry, and determine the truth,
and understand where and how the power of the Office would awaken...
Down the halls of the LNHQ, not far away, a being of great power walked down
the halls. Specifically, a kiwi of great power.
He was a green Looniversal kiwi, dressed in a blue waistcoat with mystic sigils
inscribed on the lapels in gold, and a frilly white pouf at his neck held in
place by a sapphire. His manner was imperious, and his gaze was keen and
calculating. And he had his batman, following close behind.
Once, he had made deals with malevolent powers for love. But love betrayed him,
and so, he went further down the paths of malevolence and power. He was no
longer The Lawyer Kiwi. He was now... The Magus Kiwi! Head of the Kiwi Council--
and player in the Great Game!
He was still a lawyer, tho, and he had looked over the LNH leadership election
bylaws thoroughly. They were full of holes - something to fix once the Kiwi
Council was in charge, but for now, those holes were ripe for exploiting. Kiwis
could not vote directly in the elections unless they were themselves openly net.
heroes. But the Council had been granted significant sway over how those
elections went, so they could be assured of candidates who would have their
best interests in mind. And there was nothing stopping any kiwi from sponsoring
So when he inscribed his circle and activated the app, he timed his pulls to
draw upon the legends that the kiwis of LNHQ held dearest. And his terrible
faith was rewarded, with the Server that would empower all of kiwikind.
That Server was a being who looked like a human, though his face was not
visible, behind an ornate helm that mimicked the noble lines of a kiwi's head.
He wore a long, green-feathered cape, and a fancy, colorful, medieval-looking
outfit in green and black.
The two of them arrived at the lobby, where the Server walked up to the desk
and placed a stack of papers in front of Lester O'Brien, today's receptionist.
"I am the Piper of the Kiwis. Here is my application to join the LNH, and here
is my application to be a candidate in the leadership election."
Lester sighed. "We really need to close that loophole."
And with the Piper's power, the Kiwi Council would control both the Legion and
the Universal Office...
1 AM found Shirley Jefferson laying in bed, restless, tossing and turning,
trying to quiet her mind and get back to sleep already. 2 AM found her sitting
up and playing on her phone.
She'd installed this weird obscure gacha game by accident, or something? She'd
picked up her phone one morning and saw the icon there. She'd probably clicked
some ad without meaning to. But, bored between deliveries, she'd started poking
at it, and it had become her go-to for a quick dopamine fix.
So far she had rolled a bunch of decent gear to kit out her default Heroic
Figure, along with a legendary sword, and she'd done a bunch of PvE monster
battles, but now, she was finally going to get a Heroic Spirit, which would
Thump... thump... ugh, the neighbors were making noise again. Exercise? Moving
furniture? Prop comedy? Whatever it was, they shouldn't be doing it on the
fourth floor in the middle of the night.
She hoped it was a good pull, because the game's instructions were really vague
and she wasn't sure if you could replace a Heroic Spirit once you'd gotten one.
She'd tried to look it up online, but Google threw up so many ads nowadays that
nothing about the game even came up.
Thump... thump... Wait, was that out in the hallway? Ugh, maybe it was some
college students having a party before finals... whatever. She hit the "Summon
your Server!" button and watched the flashy lights spin...
Thump... THUMP... THUMP... CRASH!!!
The door! The door was gone and there was somebody, somebody she didn't know,
muscular, in the room with her, a topless man *what*, walking forward, looked
like a pro wrestler, a mask, a belt, orange and green spandex, coming for her!
She scrambled off the bed, backed away, but there was only one door to this
place! Her shoulders hit the bookshelf, making little the little toys perched
on it fall off and clatter on the floor.
The man was laughing, low and slow and menacing, great meaty fists curled at
his sides. "Poor little no-one... no great battle, this. But take heart; you
are lucky that your short role in this story will feature a grand death at the
hands of a Champion..."
She wished, desperately, that she was at the LNHQ now, on a pizza run,
surrounded by heroes, protectors. There was net.hero merchandise all around her
feet now, her brain was focusing on trivial detail in her helplessness, it was
mostly of the man she'd idolized as a child, before he died, presents from her
partners, she wished a net.hero would come thru the window and save her,
On the bed, her phone let out a bright, cheery "Ding!"
Her heart beat out of her chest, and her blood was on fire, she grabbed a
figurine, a Sig.Lad figurine, dazzling light was flowing out of her fingers and
her eyes, the Heroic Spirit was within her and she let it out, she threw the
action figure and it--
She wore an elegant, flowing dress, bright red, with a wide petticoat. Over
this, armored gauntlets seemingly made of gunmetal, with golden trim, and
similarly armored boots; and over her shoulders and neck, a gunmetal mantle,
with a golden "L" in the middle of her chest. Her hair was long and gingerbread-
brown, tied back in a ponytail with a few wisps floating free; her face was
pale and seemed to glow in the moonlight, and her eyes were a fiery red.
And she stood before Shirley, holding a sword in both hands and pointing it at
the intruder. "You will not harm my Client!"
it was the legendary Mightier Pen, the sword she'd rolled, and now it danced,
the woman (hero) stabbing it towards the man (Champion?), forcing him back, his
fists came down but she wasn't there, she scored a hit on his side and he
yowled in pain, a wild swing left a hole in the drywall--
That was her opening--
The point of the sword went thru his chest, thru his heart, and his body
exploded into a million dazzling points of light, that hovered, and faded, and
Shirley leaned back against the bookshelf, hand to her chest, adrenaline
coursing thru her, with no idea what she was supposed to be feeling right now,
and every feeling known to man spinning in her head.
The woman turned to her, points of light shimmering off the end of her sword.
She took a step toward Shirley, then knelt, sword held in front of her, bowing
"Administrator candidate Shirley Jefferson. I am the Dragon of the Pen, and I
am your Server."
Author's Notes: I have my own ideas on who would be summoned into all those
named archetypes, but we'll see what my fellow writers come up with!
Yes, that is The Lawyer Kiwi from Mutton Mania. (Actually, when I went back and
checked, there seem to have been two different Lawyer Kiwis, but never mind.)
Sig.Lad-inspired character created with permission from Dave. (Kid Kiwi-
inspired character created without permission, but I figure it's a bit bigger
of a deal when it's the Famous Dead Guy.)
Drew "the Dragon of the Eyrie is supposed to be Boy Lad" Nilium