Fearless Leader paced back and forth in the green room. "Where is he!?"

"He'll be here," said a shadowy figure. It wasn't Superguy, nor was it Tempest. "It's in his blood."

"He'd better be. It's going to get pretty tired if I start doing this every year."

"You could have them start voting on who next year's host would be." It wasn't Bazrael, Simon Velcro, or half the cast of Swamp Patrol. (It wasn't the other half, either.)

"Hmf. Maybe. And you know what the worst thing is?"

"What's that?" said the person who wasn't Cruxaider, SPLoTch!, or Eclipse.

"I can't find one of the envelopes!"

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Building Suspense Lad ran.

The mail must go through. It was part of the code. The mail must go through.

Building Suspense Lad ran, and the envelope in his red-knuckled hand fluttered white.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Fearless Leader looked at his watch. "Well, guess it's time..."

"Good luck," said the shadowy-not-Suicide-Squid-Omniman-Nowhere-Lad-or-any-Eleck-character. He chuckled darkly as the door closed. "Yes... luck indeed..."

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Fearless Leader walked out on stage, waving to applause from all corners. He adjusted the mike and said, "Thank you all for coming out tonight, for the—"

"...aaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—"

KERTHUMP!

Pointless Awards Man IV: The Voyage Home leapt off of Fearless Leader's twitching body and shouted, "It's..."

             o  o  o  o  o  o  o
      o  o  o     The  2009     o  o  o
o  o  o  o  o   (16th Annual)   o  o  o  o  o
      o  o  o   RACCie AWARDS   o  o  o
             o  o  o  o  o  o  o

"...where we all go down together! We're already acquainted, so let's get to it!"

"First off, we've got the Discretionary Awards, presented by that fearless fish, that peerless piscine, the Red Herring!"

The Flying Indestructible Super-Herring swam through the air to riotous applause. "Greetings, assembled well-wishers, devotees, and groupies! The first meeting of the Red Herring Fan Club is called to—" Pointless Awards Man IV leaned in and whispered. "Oh? Oh! Well, then! To the field of merit!"

"The first accolade is the JUNIOR RABBIT BREEDER'S CUP for Saxon Brenton, for getting out 7 stories in 2009 plus co-writing Beige Midnight #4!"

Doctor Incisor hovered up in her mecha to the stage. "Our race is honored, yet insulted! We will show rage by destroying your centers of government, and show mercy by forgetting the whole thing and buying a round for table four." She flew away.

"Thus will it go for all who attempt to use talking animals for evil! The next decree of distinction will be known as the INSPIRATION GENERATION AFFIRMATION, going to Tom Russell for coming up with the high concept of the High Concept Challenge!"

A platform raised up from below the stage. Atop was a lead-lined box, opening for just a moment to reveal a chunk of pure Ideanium, flooding the theater with inspiration particles before disappearing into a trapdoor.

"...great fishy gods - you could make a lot of money off of pencil-shaped snack bars for schoolchildren! Anyway! No more shall we celebrate these awards of discretion – after this last one! It goes to Chris "Robotech_Master" Meadows, it's being given for spreading the word of online comiccy-fiction through his columns on TeleRead, and its name is the "SOWING THE LAND" JOHNNY APPLESEED CIDER JUG!

Out of the trapdoor came an ornate fountain shaped like one of those bottles with "XXX" on it. It showered the audience, not with liquid, but with tiny golden seeds that dissolved into sparkles in midair, prompting oohs and ahhs.

"But now, it is time to return to the HerringCave! All of you out there in TCP/IP Land, keep dreaming of cod falling from the sky! Red Herring... away!"

The crimson fish spun off through the skylight (is that thing still there!?). Pointless Awards Man IV stepped out. "Everybody, let's give him a big hand! Or, if you want, you could slip him a fin! Heh heh... heh. Yeah."

There was complete silence from the audience. PAM IV cleared his throat. "Um, and now, for the regular Named Awards, presented by Superhuman World correspondent Wyatt Ferguson!"

I stepped up out of the wings. I was nervous. This world was not my own, and—

"Um, why are you using first-person narration with indirect dialogue?"

I explained to him that it was part of my investigative-reporter-with-noir-influences idiom. This served to mollify the amethyst presenter, and I continued on to the awards.

First came the "SPIDER SPINS" LITTLE LULU WEB PAGE AWARD, for their favorite web page pertaining to the mysterious, all-encompassing rec.arts.comics.creative. The finalists were:

  • The LNH Facebook page... (The Book of Faces opens in the hands of Establishment of the Finishless, its pages fluttering in a breeze from nowhere)
  • Wil's Ego... (A friendly neighborhood comic store offers the latest issues of Journey Into..., ASH, Thunderclap, and Teenage Disco Vampire Barbershop Quartet Net.Force)
  • The LNH Wiki... (Gigantic wikipedes attack Net.ropolis)
  • And the Eyrie FTP archives. (A secret underground government bunker, filled with mile-long longboxes)

And the winner was the LNH Wiki!

A giant LED screen lowered from the ceiling, and I got to play Wikipede, which was like Centipede except that the audience could change the insects' abilities at will. My high score, if you were wondering: 23,199.

After that was the IMAGE TESTIMONIAL TIMEPIECE (BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED), which, in this world, goes to the author whose works are most consistently late. The finalists were:

  • Rob Rogers... (Mrs. Butterworth sighs and checks her watch)
  • Andrew Perron... (The Crimson @venger sits at a lonely bus stop)
  • And Andrew Burton. (Doctor Developer waits in a laundromat)

As it turns out, it was a tie! Andrew Burton and Rob Rogers won!

A giant waffle iron was pushed out in front of the microphone. It opened to reveal Lady Lawful (the 2nd) baked, naturally enough, into a giant waffle. As she accepted, the camera swung around to show Casey von Aluminumfoil repeatedly hitting his head against a support pillar.

Next was the JOHNNY SOKKO "COME BACK, GIANT ROBOT, COME BACK" LOVING CUP, calling back the RACC writer who is most sorely missed. I noted the tendency towards gratuitous silliness in naming, then announced the finalists:

  • Jessica "Jaelle" Ihimaera-Smiler... (Mouse pilots the 50-meter Mecha Writers Block Woman)
  • Mitchell "Tarq" Crouch... (Mecha Contempo Weapons Lad uses a pair of streetlights and a chain-link fence as nunchaku)
  • And Jennifer Whitson. (Mecha Perdition is crucified over a pool of Ecto Cooler Hi-C under the Louvre)

This time, the winner was Jaelle!

Mouse sauntered up and accepted the award. She was snarkily surprised that it had been two years in a row, and pointed that Stockholm Syndrome isn't supposed to work that way.

Finally came the RABBIT-BREEDER'S CUP, for the highest posting rate in this or any other amateur fiction forum. I wondered verbally what would happen if a member of some other forum came in first; the literary concepts of "exaggeration" and "metaphor" were explained to me. The nominees were:

  • Scott Eiler... (Wyatt Ferguson looks at himself on the big screen; he's mildly perturbed)
  • Martin Phipps... (A timecycle is kitbashed into a pimped-out ride)
  • And Dave van Domelen. (Conflicto traps Doublecross in the body of a dead shapeshifter and teaches him about teratomorphs)

In the end, the winner was Dvandom!

An old CGA CRT monitor crashed onto the floor, and a green wireframe projected out, rezzing into Netwalker. He took the award and noted that, after all, they could afford the bandwidth. His body dissolved into pixels, taking the trophy with it.

I don't really want to make a speech, so while everyone is watching the special effects, I sneak off, stage left.

Pointless Awards Man IV blinked as the narration returned to normal. "Well, let's hope he gets home safely, eh folks?"

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Building Suspense Lad ran.

The Vikings screamed imprecations. The Crusaders screamed oaths. The ninjas just screamed.

Building Suspense Lad ran, for his life, for his honor, for the RACCies.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Pointless Awards Man IV grinned to the audience. "And now, from a new imprint to one that doesn't even exist yet, we bring you the damsel of direction, Compass Rose!"

Confused muttering ran through the audience as a woman walked in stage right, waving and smiling. She was fairly ordinary-looking except for the complicated pattern of triangles and diamonds painted on her face in red, purple and gold. "Greetings from the future! Let's get to it!"

"First up, we've got RACC19, FAVORITE NEW TITLE. This year's nominees..."

"Honey-Love Bunny!" (Honey-Love Bunny quests after a beast with the head and neck of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion, the feet of a hart and the breasts of— well, never mind)

"High Concept Challenge!" (The power of the Forgetting Hour turns MegaMetal BlastLord into a cyborg mouse in a waistcoat)

"The Tribulations of Kid Review!" (Kid Review, Lady Review, C&C the Reviewdog, and Review Hillbilly pose together)

"And Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the RACCies!" (Bluetooth slaps Manga Man Violet with the Red Herring)

PAM IV said, "Hey!" Compass Rose ignored him and announced, "The winner is High Concept Challenge!"

A child made of assorted animal parts stuck together haphazardly swam through the air in an Olympic uniform and grabbed the award. He tossed chocolate to the audience and swam away, alien robots wearing uniforms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and trailing copper wire following.

"That's the oddest manifestation of the Fifth Force I've ever seen," remarked Rose. "The next award is RACC18, FAVORITE NEW WRITER. The finally-multiple nominees are..."

"Scott Eiler..." (The R&D labs of Dunevoy Industries cackle over a way to use the imaginary angle of the planet to power a machine that turns puppies and orphans into fuel for extra-polluting SUVs)

"And Matthew Brande!" (Sorry, but Queen Muffy-Love Bunny is in another castle)

"The singular winner is... Scott Eiler!"

Wyatt Ferguson leans back in from the wings. I walked up and—

"Hey, no changing narrative perspective mid-paragraph!"

Fine.

He walked up and took the trophy, doffing his hat and bowing to the audience, then climbing into the orchestra pit and rejoining the Superhuman World table.

"Let's home he gets home safely... when he actually goes home. Next up, we've got RACC17, MOST IMPROVED AUTHOR. While the last two have multiplied in offerings, this one has shrunk to a single nominee. The only person you thought improved was... Andrew Perron!"

Library Lad and Weirdo Boy hopped on stage, shook hands, and disappeared in a poof of smoke. When it cleared, Kid Enthusiastic was there, holding the award and waving.

"Reminds me of quite a few people back home. Anywho, my final award is going to be RACC16, FAVORITE RUNNING GAG. The nominees..."

"Mr. Paprika!" (Ven-Dorr attempts to adulterate humanity's supplies of the precious liquid, but to no avail!)

"Various Posting Problems on RACC!" (A giant bird of prey types feverishly on a computer while Drifter runs around with bundles of cable and rolls of duct tape)

"The Length of Beige Midnight!" (Saxon-Brenton-Will-Write-the-Brother-of-So-Lame-Even-Saxon-Brenton-Wouldn't-Use-Him-In-A-Story-Lad-When-Hell-Freezes-Over Lad is possessed by Even-Lamer-Character-Arthur-Spitzer-Doesn't-Want-To-Write Kid)

"And What Would Gamer Boy Think?" (A deserted warehouse full of Nintendo DSes; they all light up, at once, with a bright red question mark)

"And the winner is... The Length of Beige Midnight!"

A wind rises up in the theater, and scraps of paper flew through the air. In the midst of the stage, they coalesced into a humanoid shape – the Ecru Edifice, constructed from the assembled pages of Beige Midnight, Beige Countdown, Infinite Leadership Crisis, 58.5, and crossover tie-ins to all of the above! It reached down with a silent sepia-tone hand and took the trophy, then dissolved back into its constituent printouts and blew away.

"And with that, we're done," said Compass Rose. "Good night, everybody, and I'll see you at some undefined point in the future!" She left, magnetic north.

"Thank you very much, Compass Rose, for both enlightening and confusing us!" said Pointless Awards Man IV. "Our next presenter is the winner of the 1806 Best Author RACCie (or as they called it back then, Exalted Scribe the First) for his LNH series 'The Sorrows of Kid Buttkicker', the definition of mad, bad, and dangerous to know, George Gordon Byron, the 6th Lord Byron!"

A great, moody man with a cynical smirk and eyes sparkling with intelligence stepped onstage. His jaded mein covered a troubled past and a heart of gold. The audience was momentarily dazzled by the description flowing off of him. He took the microphone with the power of an Integrity Quest and a Woody Scandal rolled into one. "Shall we go a-roving?"

"This award brings the light of approbation to those who enrich our collective discourse. RACC15, BEST DISCUSSION, and the finalists are..."

"'Inspiration'..." (Anthony Trollope, Grant Morrison, Captain Beefheart, and Arthur Conan Doyle form the League of Extraordinarily Sweet Dudes)

"'Notes on a Genre I Love'..." (The senses-shattering dual origin of Wonder Moth and Samwise Grubgee! A book-length classic!)

"And 'Sexuality and Assumptions'." (Frat Boy lounges on a sun-dappled island near Athens; an androgynous hand from offscreen feeds him grapes)

"Renown falls to... Notes on a Genre I Love!"

A great grinding noise echoed across the stage. A shambling mechanical malevolence appeared – the leftover pawn of the Mechanical Author, known only as the Storytelling Engine! It sucked the award into its piston-powered guts and trundles away.

"Much like the Ottoman Empire. Our next award goes to those who, surprisingly enough, do not challenge their fellow writers to duels. The finalists for RACC14, FAVORITE PERSON WHO HANGS OUT ON RACC are..."

"Arthur Spitzer..." (The Knight of Impetus!)

"Saxon Brenton..." (The Knight of Memory!)

"Dave van Domelen..." (The Knight of Structure!)

"And Andrew Perron." (The Knight of Too Many Ideas!)

"In this case, friendship is constancy; 'tis a tie between Saxon and Andrew!"

Anal-Retentive Archive Kid walked on, a pre-prepared speech in his hand, and opened his mouth; but a yodel came from offscreen, and Kid Enthusiastic swung in on a vine, knocking both of them off the stage and into the orchestra pit in a gleefully cacophonous crash. A single cymbal rolled away.

"This next feather for the newsgroup's cap comes from the zeal of many as one. It's RACC13, FAVORITE STORY UNIVERSE, and the finalists are..."

"8FOLD..." (Sidhartha Guatama files a lawsuit)

"ASH..." (The Monty Python foot comes down and squishes two thirds of the world's population)

"And the LNH." (Chaos and cheesecake)

"To end in madness... it's the LNH!"

Fearless Leader came out, determined to accept this year. He'd almost gotten there when Catalyst Lass tapped him on the shoulder with one hand and yoinked the award with the other.

"One more plaudit, ere we part. It's RACC12, FAVORITE REVIEW TITLE, and the nominees are..."

"The Tribulations of Kid Review..." (A lineup of Kid Review, Lady Review, C&C the Reviewdog, Uncle Review, Feedbacky the Review Bunny, and Review Hillbilly)

"And End of Month Reviews." (The Internet goes down all over Sydney just as Saxon reviews Marcel Proust's "LNH: A Remembrance")

"Change is an illusion; the winner is End of Month Reviews!"

A plume of black-and-white-speckled gas blew across the stage, and Letters Page Man rose from the gloom. He accepted the award and tosses No-Prizes to the audience.

Lord Byron bowed, a gesture both cynical and sincere. "This much I've dare, and now—"

Suddenly, a half-silvery form leapt from the rafters and tossed off its robes, revealing cyborg implants on a feminine frame. "Father! Your Romantic-Gothic trickery won't take in these noble citizens!"

She tossed him out the skylight with a resounding crash, taking off into the night. Pointless Awards Man IV walked out, looking up and shaking his head. "Hire a famous poet, they said. It'll add literary value, they said. Sigh."

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Building Suspense Lad narrowly dodged the hail of bullets. He swung through the serrated jaws of the crusher moments before they slammed together. He dropped into the gully as the flame jet seared the air, then took off before the waves of acid could come crashing down.

Then it happened. His fingers slipped, and the envelope drifted lazily down towards the Pit of Ultimate Despair.

There was only one chance. Building Suspense Lad gripped the cable and swung out over the nothingness. At the very apex of his swing, he flung his fingers into the dark...

...and they came back with the envelope!

Building Suspense Lad gripped it firmly. Building Suspense Lad ran.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

As Squeaky Clean took care of the shards on stage, Pointless Awards Man IV took the mike. "Our next presenter will be familiar to you all. The crazy-like-a-fox avatar of the Internet itself, it's Unity!"

Holo-projectors at the edges of the stage fired up. A feminine figure formed of bits and pieces of different people appeared. (However, she specifically did not have a pink face with a blond ponytail on one side and a brown face with a black poof on the other.) She spoke in clips cut from YouTube videos and pirated mp3s.

"Greetings! Two. YOU ALL!? Thee—" Unity stopped mid-sentence and pulled out a bottle marked "Sanity Soda". She took a quick chug and shook her head vigorously. "Sorry about that. The first award I'm presenting tonight is RACC11, FAVORITE ACRAPHOBE/ADULT OFFERING. The finalists are..."

"Godling!" (Quentin Alexander totally just punches out Cthulhu)

"ASH!" (The Red Widow against the horrific Rule 34!)

"And Honey-Love Bunny!" (Elmer Fudd gets the ride of his life)

"And the winner is... ASH!"

Johnny Angel teleported in in a burst of light – but suddenly glitched, revealing Justice in a handmade costume. He picked up the trophy and fled! Pointless Awards Man IV chased after, shouting "&#%@!"

"Hah hah! That reminds me of the time I wanted to KILL ALL HUMANS! ...glug glug glug Ahem. Next up is RACC10, FAVORITE PARODY/COMEDY. The finalists:"

"Digital JUMP!" (That one with the different stories!)

"58.5!" (That one where Cannon Fodder 'splodes the universe!)

"Legion of Net.Heroes volume 2!" (That one with the furries!)

"And The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man!" (That one with the porn!)

"It's a tie! LNH v2 and Digital JUMP! win!"

Suddenly, Adelwine Aaronson... um... damn, how is she supposed to use her powers for evil, anyway? Well, she jumped out with a laser rifle and grabbed the trophy, only for the Weed Wacker Vigilante to leap in and knock it out of her hands. The two dueled pyrotechnically until Library Lad stuffed them both into his Bag of Holding.

"Well, that is... what it is. The next award... mmmm, the next award is for a very... very intriguing category..." Unity shook her head. "It's, um, RACC9, FAVORITE NEW CHARACTER, and the fine, fine finalists are..."

"Jack Ripley..." (Believe It Conquered The World... Or Not!)

"Honey-Love Bunny..." (A third-grade math test with a 100% at the top)

"Doctor Incisor..." (A similar test, but with red marks all over it and a note to see the teacher after class)

"And Smiling Horse." (In pitched battle against the Calvary of Cruelty!)

"The winner is as long as a horse... I mean, he is a horse... I mean—" splash on face! "Smiling Horse wins!"

The equine chief of the Second Tribe trotted out and gave a short acceptance speech consisting of hoof-stomping and the occasional whinny. He picked up the award in his teeth and trotted away.

"Whew," said Unity. "I'd better go and defrag. But first, we've got RACC8, FAVORITE SUPPORTING CHARACTER. The finalists are..."

"Cynical Lass!" (Selling Frat Boy/Substitute Lad yaoi at a convention)

"Dr. Fay Tarif!" (Playing on the Wii with Alister the Apelantian)

"The Giant Marshmallow Puppies!" (Getting their bellies scratched by Very Big Boy)

"And WikiBoy!" (Doing the hula in Warsaw)

"And the winner is... Cynical Lass!"

The Colleen of Choler sauntered up to the stage. "It's not like any of this song-and-dance crap actually means anything. But thanks."

Unity started to wobble and fade. "Well. That's all! From me? See you... Late. R!" The holo-projectors shut down and rolled away.

Pointless Awards Man IV walked back on stage, panting and out of breath. "Frig... friggin' Magene. Well, th' next presenter is an expert in the stories we're honoring tonight. The pharaoh of pheedback, the crusader of criticism, the self-insert more blatant than a Cosmic Plot Device Caper WC, Kid Review!"

Kid Review floated down out of the skylight (sigh). "Thank you, Pointless Awards Man, and I'd just like to say: I know where you live." The audience chuckled, though at one of the LNH tables, Manga Man Pink was asking Doctor Stomper about a cloaking device.

"Okay, RACCateers. My first award of the night is RACC7, FAVORITE VILLAIN/ANTAGONIST. The finalists are:"

"Mind-o-Saurus!" (It's the story~ Of a mutant reptile~ Who was bringing up three dastardly bad sons~)

"Hex Luthor!" (Special edition action figure with chartreuse and vermillion power armor!)

"The squeaky toy Balloonist!" (Laying on the ground out of breath while a balloon Godzilla rampages)

"And Manga Man!" (In a nice tux, laying flowers on Carl Macek's gravestone)

"Who wins? It's a tie! Hex Luthor and the Balloonist!"

Hex, dressed in a stripey prison outfit and dragging chains behind, rides onto stage astride a balloon elephant, which sweeps the trophy up in its inflated trunk and stomps away!

"Darn these incessant resurrections. Next up, we've got RACC6, FAVORITE HERO/PROTAGONIST. This year's slate of superheroes includes:"

"Godling!" (Running away from ASHniverse natives carrying pitchforks and torches)

"Cannon Fodder!" (Dressed as the Anti-Monitor and crumpling up universes like wrapping paper!)

"And Bluetooth!" (In a pitched wrought-iron-pastry-eating competition against Cheesecake-Eater Lad)

"This game's winner is... Godling!"

The One Man Pantheon explodes onto the scene in a whirlwind of power! With a four-color explosion, he delivers a stirring speech which brings joy to the oppressed and fear to the oppressors! Then he takes the symbol of triumph and leaps into the sky!

"Too overblown. I'd stick with the original. After that comes RACC5, FAVORITE SINGLE ISSUE. The finalists here are..."

"Easily-Discovered Man #50: 'Easily-Discovered Man No More'!" (The Easily-Discovered Man of Zur-En-Arrgh is hit by Flipseid's Discomega Effect)

"Coherent Super Stories #18: 'Black Buddha of Bhutan'!" (Jack Ripley tries on a fedora, tosses it in the trash)

"And High Concept Challenge #1: 'The Forgotten Man'!" (A blank screen bearing the legend [FILE NOT FOUND])

"The issue with the highest secondary market value is... CSS #18!"

Jack skillfully backflips in, executing a perfect three-point landing. With the combined stentorian skills of FDR and Churchill, he made a startlingly superb acceptance speech.

"Proclaiming that something is perfect without actually showing it?" Kid Review shook his head. "Well, there's one more left. RACC4, FAVORITE ARC, and the storylines of the day are..."

"ASH #97-100: 'Rising Sun'!" (Here comes the sun, doom-doom-doo-doom)

"Thunderclap #13-15: 'Revolutions'!" (Thunderclap is led to the guillotine, as 18th-century versions of Suzie and the Protectors look on)

"The entirety of Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the RACCies!" (Blasferatu smacks a Continuity Zombie with a Jackson Pollock)

"And 58.5 #48-49: 'Cannon Fodder Triumphant'!" (The New Misfits look on in shock as Cannon Fodder stands over a dead Xinerama Brother)

"And the winner is... Cannon Fodder Triumphant!"

Cannon Fodder exploded onto the scene! ...no, I mean, literally. Ew. However, it turned out that he had time-telefragged himself, and the more recent Fodder accepted the award.

"Well, back to the REVIEWSat for me. See you in the funny papers!" Kid Review floated into the air, eyes blazing with blue-white energy, and rocketed away, straight through the just-replaced skylight.

Pointless Awards Man IV grumbled and made out another check to Byron Molix's Through The Looking Glass Glaziers.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Almost there. It seemed like weeks, months, years. Building Suspense Lad could almost see the theatre-auditorium-pub. Almost there.

Building Suspense Lad ran...

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Pointless Awards Man IV smoothed himself out, then stepped back on stage. "Well, folks, we're down to the last three! The excitement abounds! Our final presenter for the night is..." A drum roll played in the background. He took a stack of index cards out of his pocket, shuffled them, plucked the top card off the stack, and read it. "...one of the Balloonist's animals!"

"Wait, what?"

A small blue balloon bounced in. It was twisted into the shape of a dog, and squeaked at each landing. A podium was rolled in by the Gaffer, and the puppaloon hopped on top.

PAM IV stared. "...you know, my life is a lot simpler when I get to run around beating up zombies. Silly Seussian satire, show your stuff!" He tossed the index cards over his shoulder and stepped backstage.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

...and ran...

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

The balloon-dog yipped squeakily and yapped stridently. Through sheer force of cuteness, the audience clicked to its wavelength. Yes, yes, of course those woofs and growls translated into RACC3, FAVORITE MINI-SERIES/ONE-SHOT! It seemed obvious that the finalists included...

Beige Midnight... (Hex Luthor caressing a globe... and then Bart the Dark Receptionist knocks him over and takes the globe for himself)

On the Deadbeat Special: Beige Happy Hour!... (Doctor Deadbeat thumbs his nose at Withnail, Voyd, Simon Velcro, and the Jellomancer)

...and Monsters 101. (Bathory gets schooled, yo!)

And it became clear that either Timmy had fallen down the old well again, or Beige Midnight was the winner!

A zephyr swept through the crowded theater. Blue smoke curled 'round the edges of the stage. Thunder rolled, and the mighty storm beast Hurrikhal appeared in all his rage!

Forming a pair of tiny fingers, he took the trophy.

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

...and ran...

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Soliloquy of an inflatable pet, part two. The cunning of a being composed of gas and rubber cannot be overstated. By hook or by crook, it would bring about that which was called... RACC2, FAVORITE ONGOING SERIES. In detail...

Legion of Net.Heroes volume 2. (Syllogist manually shuts down the reactor core as Dualist Lad cries out in grief)

Digital JUMP! (Shining Tungsten Magister gets a kitten out of a tree by manipulating oxidoreductase-bearing bacteria)

And ASH. (Solar Max cracks the facts)

The winner of our little game, for today, was... Digital JUMP!

The Crimson @venger pushes an old-fashioned muzzle-loading cannon out on stage. Kid Enthusiastic comes out on the other side, dramatically flourishing a silver cape and bowing to the audience. The @venger lit the fuse and got out of the way. Kid E flexed his hands in anticipation...

THBOOMP

When the smoke cleared, Kid Enthusiastic had caught the cannonball... but his arm was stretched out three times normal!

"Squeak squeak."

"Squeak squeak squeak squeak. Squeak," RACC1, FAVORITE WRITER "squeak:"

Saxon Brenton! (Fourth Wall Lass juggles fish)

Scott Eiler! (The Wooden Man plays Lady of Spain)

Arthur Spitzer! (The Slobbering Grue! dances with Carol Burnett)

Rob Rogers! (Easily-Discovered Man Lite, Sarcastic Lad and Frat Boy crack jokes on the Swinetrek)

Dave van Domelen! (Sal Napier, wearing glasses and a toupee, reports the news)

"Squeak squeak squ— ...squeak?"

The balloon dog looked around, and the audience murmured in confusion. Pointless Awards Man IV peeked out from backstage, then strode over and began conferring with the blue canine. Finally, Fearless Leader came out and whispered something to them.

"SQUEAK!?"

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

...and...

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

Suddenly, the doors at the back of the theater slammed open. The characters in attendance looked back as lightning cracked, revealing the silhouette of Building Suspense Lad... who fell to his knees.

Healer, Healer and the Healer came up to help him, but he waved them off, staggering to the stage. "Delivery... for the RACCies presenter... sign here, please." Building Suspense Lad presented a shaky clipboard to Pointless Awards Man IV, who signed it. He dropped an envelope, then collapsed on the floor.

PAM IV picked the envelope up and handed it to the balloon. "Squeak squeak squeak..."






"...squeak squeak" tie! Dave and Saxon "squeak!"

The stage split apart and slid back, ceiling and floor separating revealing a great craggy mountainside ringed about with torches. On one side, Saxon stood, wearing a horned helm with little wings, pointy breastplate, and huge blond plaits. On the other was Dvandom, in a big black blood-stained apron, wielding a razor in each hand. Inbetween were all sorts of hula dancers, tuba players, be-leiderhosened stereotypes, and cyberninja plant-gods.

As one, they inhaled deeply, and—

"No, sorry, we don't have time for a song this year." Pointless Awards Man shoved everyone off stage in a big pile, amid cries of "Hey!" and "Watch it!". He turned to the audience. "Bye, everybody! Tune in next week for Paragon Must Die: The Assassination of RACChallenge II! C'mon, you..."

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

The shadowy figure clicked off the monitor from where it had been watching the awards. "It looks like he pulled it off after all. Excellent."

Slowly, he stepped out of the shadows, revealing green skin. Four arms. And a terrible fashion sense. "I wouldn't want there to be any distractions..."

Pointless Awards Man II stepped into the light. "...from my REVENGE!"

He threw back his head and cackled fiendishly... for about twenty seconds, until Wyatt Ferguson walked up. "Ah, forgive me, but... who are you again?"

PAM II blinked, then facepalmed. "Newbies..."

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

16th Annual RACCie Winners:

RACC1, Favorite Writer: Saxon Brenton and Dave van Domelen (tie)

RACC2, Favorite Ongoing Series: Digital JUMP!

RACC3, Favorite Mini-Series: Beige Midnight

RACC4, Favorite Arc: "Cannon Fodder Triumphant", 58.5 #48-49

RACC5, Favorite Single Issue: "Black Buddha of Bhutan", Coherent Super Stories #18

RACC6, Favorite Hero/Protagonist: Godling

RACC7, Favorite Villain/Antagonist: Hex Luthor and Squeaky Toy Balloonist (tie)

RACC8, Favorite Supporting Character: Cynical Lass

RACC9, Favorite New Character: Jack Ripley

RACC10, Favorite Parody/Comedy: Legion of Net.Heroes volume 2 and Digital JUMP! (tie)

RACC11, Favorite Acrophobe/Adult Offering: ASH

RACC12, Favorite Review Title: End of Month Reviews

RACC13, Favorite Story Universe: Legion of Net.Heroes

RACC14, Favorite Person Who Hangs Out On RACC: Andrew Perron and Saxon Brenton (tie)

RACC15, Best Discussion: "Notes on a Genre I Love"

RACC16, Favorite Running Gag: The Length of Beige Midnight

RACC17, Most Improved Author: Andrew Perron

RACC18, Favorite New Writer: Scott Eiler

RACC19, Favorite New Title: High Concept Challenge

The Rabbit Breeder's Cup: Dave van Domelen

The Johnny Sokko "Come Back, Giant Robot, Come Back" Loving Cup: Jessica "Jaelle" Ihimaera-Smiler

The Image Testimonial Timepiece (Batteries Not Included): Andrew Burton and Rob Rogers (tie)

The "Spider Spins!" Little Lulu Web Page Award: LNH Wiki

The "Sowing the Land" Johnny Appleseed Cider Jug: Chris Meadows

The Inspiration Generation Affirmation: Tom Russell

The Junior Rabbit Breeder's Cup: Saxon Brenton

.....oooooOOOOO(☆)OOOOOooooo.....

FREEEEEE! AHAHAHA FREE HAHA hahah... ah...

Ahem. Yeah, this one took a bit longer than expected. (Though not, as you may think, because of Just Imagine #7.) Next time, I'll do just a wee bit of preparation beforehand, eh?

"RACCie winner from centuries ago" gag stolen from one of Adrian James McClure's RACCCafe posts.

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, freeeeeeeeee!

< 2008 RACCies Other Worlds, Other Tales 2010 RACCies >