LNH/ACRA/WRIMO: Anal-Retentive Archive Kid: A Judicious Use Of Overkill #11

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 30 12:24:19 PST 2010

[LNH/ACRA/WRIMO] Anal-Retentive Archive Kid: A Judicious Use Of Overkill #11
[Enough procrastination.  It's been a month, I'm still not happy with 
the way that this has written itself into a corner, but it needs to be 
completed.  The irony of a RaccoWrimo project stalling at the last furlong 
is just too embarrassing, even for someone as notoriously slow as myself.]
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid: A Judicious Use Of Overkill - part 11
A Legion of Net.Heroes miniseries for the RaccoWriMo writing month 
Written by and copyright 2010 Saxon Brenton
     Ultimate Ninja was not at his desk in his main office.  Instead he 
was in the room next to the office: a private reception room with an 
adjacent atrium containing a small Zen garden.   He was kneeling on a 
cushion on the tatami-matted floor.  Between himself and an empty cushion 
was a ceremonial tea service.  The Ninja contemplated the perfection of 
the garden while he waited. The inter-office communicator buzzed.  "Hai?" 
the leader of the Legion of Net.Heroes said calmly.
     "Anal-Retentive Archive Kid to see you," said Sally.
     "Send him in."
     Anal-Retentive Archive Kid appeared at the door, and took off his 
shoes (looking a bit wobbly as he did so), then entered.  The Ninja said 
in Japanese, "< Please sit.  Will you take tea? >"
     ARAK arranged himself on the cushion.  "< Yes, thank you. >"  The 
Ninja poured tea, which ARAK took with thanks.  They drank.  With this 
formality have been disposed of, Ultimate Ninja got down to business.  
"< You have recently signed out for a lot of equipment from the Plot 
Device Room. >"
     "< Yes. >"
     "< May I ask why? >"
     "< A fellow university student was kidnapped earlier today, and 
there was no other member of the Legion to refer the matter to without 
taking them away from other business.  Since I don't have any net.ahuman 
powers, I requisitioned some equipment I thought would be useful for 
rescuing her. >"
     "< I take it you were successful? >"
     "< I was.  However, the matter turned out to be more complicated 
than I expected.  And there were a lot of fatalities.   Here is the 
incident report. >"  He handed over a spiral bound booklet printed on 
A4 paper.
     Ultimate Ninja took the report with only mild surprise.  He had 
summoned Anal-Retentive Archive Kid less than two minutes earlier; just 
enough time to walk here to this meeting.  It was possible of course 
that the young man could have then made use further of the abilities of 
the temporal inhibitor harness to take time out to write the report.  
But considering ARAK's nature Ultimate Ninja suspected that he had 
already composed and printed the incident report before the summons had 
came.  This would also be consistent with ARAK's haggard appearance and 
apparent lack of sleep.  He skimmed though the executive summary at the 
front of the report.  "< I see. >"
     Ultimate Ninja put down the report and said, "< I am surprised that 
you considered it necessary to remove quite so many crime gang families. >"
     ARAK shrugged.  "< It was my best estimate for the number to prevent 
a gang war.  But the numbers are fluid and subject to many variables.  
I'm sure other people would err on the side of mercy and kill far fewer, 
while some would gather more resources and kill lots more. >"
     "< Really? >" asked the Ninja pointedly.
     "< MasterBlaster? >" suggested Anal-Retentive Archive Kid.
     Ultimate Ninja briefly considered this.  "< I concede the point.  
Nevertheless, many people would consider removing so many criminals 
futile, considering that they are hardly named supervillains and will 
probably be replaced the next time that a Writer needs a crime gang for 
a story.  >"
     "< That's true, >" ARAK agreed, a touch sourly.  "< The setup for 
a no-win situation is pretty obvious.  If I merely stopped the Yakuza, 
then they would come after Ms Greenvale again, and anything that happened 
to her would be my fault.  But when I murder them, then that is also my 
fault - even if the Writers ignore the final outcome.  So I choose 
what would bring about the most practical good. >"
     "< There are also moral issues. >"
     "< Technically, only ethical.  I was very careful to keep the story 
forces balanced by making sure only the guilty were killed.  I wasn't 
particularly keen on story karma lashing back on me.  Especially not with 
the Writers being self-righteous hypocrites and cowards. >"
     Ultimate Ninja was silent for a second.  The boy's exhaustion was 
clearly making him more forthright and opinionated that usual.  He said, 
"< Does your condemnation come from still being angry about being 
infected with HIV during the _Flame Wars 4_? >"
     "< Ha!  Not entirely, >" ARAK said frankly.  "< Actually that's an 
opinion I have held for some time.  At least as far back as the _Dvandom 
Force_ episode where the notion of using a net based pun name for the 
Yakuza was raised and then rejected as being too dangerous.  That's a 
perfectly reasonable point of view of someone in Real Life - but utterly 
fatuous for anyone living  in a four colour superhero universe, where we 
face more dangerous threats than petty crime gangs every day. >"  Then 
a belated thought occurred to ARAK.  "< Damn, >" he swore to himself.  
"< I should have taken the opportunity to exercise nicknaming rights on 
the Yakuza when I killed them all.  And right now I'm too tired 
to come up proper net pun right now, and something like 'goat felchers' 
is too crass... >"
     "< It wouldn't be wise, >" agreed Ultimate Ninja dryly.  "< That 
sort of pettiness might aggravate the Writers that you've been so careful 
to keep onside so far. >"  Then he said, "< How about murder charges? >"
     ARAK shook his head.  "< In a parody universe the legal system is 
effectively a function of the Writers' whims.  And even in a supposedly 
serious four colour universe...  well, take a look at the revolving door 
they have for the Batman villains.  And like I said, I took a lot of effort 
to follow action story logic and make sure everyone got nothing more and 
nothing less than they deserved. >"
     "< And what about *me*? >" Ultimate Ninja asked quietly but pointedly.
     ARAK considered this.  "< It is, of course, your prerogative to 
handle disciplinary action as you see fit.  Especially if you're going to 
lampshade or subvert a cliche, >" he said.  "< But you might want to 
start small and work up, since the story cliches I was working with could 
affect you too... >"
     "< We shall see, >" said Ultimate Ninja, and brought his Ginsu 
katana around in a long slow sweep.
     There was a loud CRACK, and the two men looked to see they way that 
the force of Ultimate Ninja's swing had been counteracted by an equal 
but opposite force that had brought his arm up short.  The result was 
that the Ninja's arm had broken, and there was three centimetres of bone 
that had torn out through his flesh just above his elbow.
     If Anal-Retentive Archive Kid was relieved he didn't look it.  He 
just looked weary - in far more than the physical sense.  "< Yeah.  I was 
afraid of that.  Here, please allow me, >" he said, and as the ninja 
glared at him he reached over to the intercom and called the medical labs. 
"Organic Lass, could you please come to Ultimate Ninja's office?  There's 
been a small accident and you'll need to set a broken arm."
     "< Would you care to explain this? >" asked the ninja.
     "< I think it's the way that in action movies that the loner hero 
gets dispensation to act as he sees fit and the authorities are proven 
wrong, and if they get in the protagonist's way they get punished 
proportionately.  I'm not completely sure about this, but considering 
the amount of story forces I had to balance to handle the number of gang 
members I needed to kill, it's possible that you just came very close to 
killing yourself.  And not comic-book-death dead, but permanently dead 
dead, Fearless Leader gets the leadership of the Legion, and no-one is 
allowed to use you as a character except in flashbacks and dream 
sequences.  Which would screw up all the already posted future storylines 
like the Leader For A Day anniversary stories and a lot of Arthur's 
_Beige Midnight_ stuff, I guess. >"  He rubbed his face with his hands.  
"< I'm sorry, I'm babbling, aren't I? >"
     Ultimate Ninja had carefully put down the Ginsu katana.  "< You 
seem to have covered almost all bases.  However, I'm wondering if you 
realise what your actions make your relationship with Ms Greenvale look 
like. >"
     ARAK was nonplussed.  "< Well... like a subplot, I guess. >"
     Ultimate Ninja gave ARAK an almost pitying look.  "< Think Superman 
comics.  Particularly Silver Age-style Superman rescuing Lois Lane from 
the situations that she'd gotten herself into. >"
     "< Err... >" went ARAK, suddenly off-balance.  "< Lois Lane was 
continually getting into ludicrous situations because she was trying to 
expose Superman's secret identity.  That's hardly the type of thing that 
Elizabeth is going to get up to.  We don't even particularly like each 
other. >"
     "< Do you hate her? >"
     "< I neither like nor hate her! >" snapped ARAK.  "< I'm mostly 
*indifferent* to her.  We have nothing much in common, so I wish her well 
in getting on with her life, but I'm not interested in it! >"
     "< I mean, >" said Ultimate Ninja with serene patience, "< Do you 
dislike her enough that when she inevitably gets herself into trouble 
again because of her fear and wilful blindness of superhero strangeness, 
that you will stand aside and watch her get hurt or killed rather than 
step in and save her. >"
     Anal-Retentive Archive Kid just *stared* at the ninja.
     "< I suggest that you may have outsmarted yourself, Wendle, >" 
Ultimate Ninja said.  "< Your careful use of action story cliches may 
have protected yourself from any in-story karmic retribution, from any 
disciplinary action from me, and certainly from any mass murder charges 
that could be brought by a legal system that - as you say - unfortunately 
exists in a parody class universe and therefore cannot be anything other 
than a joke.  But by letting your anger and pride get the better of you, 
you've saddled yourself with your own supporting cast member who will 
need to be rescued, as well as set the bar high for the heroics you will 
need to perform to do that rescuing.  And if you fail, the Writers will 
have your hide. >"
     .oO( Oh shitshitshitshitshit... ) ARAK swore to himself.
     The intercom buzzed again.  "Organic Lass is here," announced Sally.
     "Send her in," said Ultimate Ninja in English.  Then, "< You had 
better go and get some sleep.  Later you can try and work out some sort 
of trouble alert.  Perhaps a signal watch. >"
     "< Sure, >" ARAK as he got up and staggered to the door.  Organic 
Lass came in, and her eyes widened in surprise as she saw a shell shocked 
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid leaving behind a visibly wounded Ultimate 
Ninja.  "Please come in, Organic Lass..." said the Legion leader, and 
then the door closed behind ARAK as he stumbled out through the front 
     Outside in the hall Easily-Discovered Man Lite and Frat Boy were 
waiting for him.  Lite looked exultant.  Yes, of course they knew: the 
speed of the Legion of Net.Heroes grapevine was incredible.
     "Dude!  You broke Ultimate Ninja's arm!?" exclaimed EDMLite, and 
slapped him on the back.  "Awesome!"
     "We've got a keg with your name on it," agreed Frat Boy.
     "Oh, put a sock in it Lite," groused ARAK.  "This isn't the time 
for your ninja jokes."  He shoved his hands in his pockets and scowled 
rather than risk bursting into tears.  "My life is absolutely fscking ruined."
     Signal watches.  Shit.  He was doomed.
     And thus is the *DOOM* that falls upon those who defy the will of 
the gods^H^H^H^H  the will of the Writers.
Character credits: 
     Anal-Retentive Archive Kid created by Saxon Brenton.
     Easily-Discovered Man Lite cameoed without permission.  Created by Rob Rogers.
     Frat Boy is Public Domain.  Created by uplink (John Scheibeler).
     Organic Lass created by Rebecca Drayer.
     Sally is Public Domain.  Created by Descrii (Ian Porell).
     Ultimate Ninja is Public Domain.  Created by wReam (Ray Bingham).
Author's notes:
     No, really.  You have no idea how much frustration I've had trying 
to get Anal-Retentive Archive Kid to go one way and then have him 
stubbornly head off on his own.  This is something like the third or 
fourth version of the conclusion, as I wrestled with the general 
direction of the story and the elements I already have in play.  (In 
particular I really wish I hadn't made that throwaway mention of breaking 
Ultimate Ninja's arm as a piece of foreshadowing back in part 4.  It was 
a right pain to work in.)
     Anyway, I wanted a downer ending, but all my efforts to exploit 
Anal-Retentive Archive Kid's pride, and prod him into doing something 
stupid that would come back and bite him proved - for the most part - 
ineffectual.  He has quite justifiable pride in his intellectual 
abilities, but in a number of previous stories I've also established that 
he's quite aware of his own limitations of not being able to pull of 
superhero stunts.  This, combined with his generally obsessive nature, 
meant that he performed a number of extreme actions without necessarily 
taking much in the way of physical risks, and was always covering his 
own back from the moral risks.
     So finally I did an end run around ARAK's actions and preparations, 
retconned in that he had overlooked something, and had Ultimate Ninja 
point it out.  Fortunately Scott Eiler had made observations in the 
comments threads about the nature of the interaction between Wendle and 
Elizabeth that I had included as a carry over from Elizabeth's previous 
appearance.  (Specifically, as a bit of characterisation and as a minor 
annoyance for ARAK, I had included in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #54  that to 
outsiders Wendle and Elizabeth quite genuinely getting on each others' 
nerves looked like a lovers quarrel.)  Once I started to focus on that I 
was able to retool the nature of the climax of the story.
     Finally, the 'interview while taking tea in Ultimate Ninja's private 
rooms' is based on a similar scene with Panta from _Tales of the LNH_ #333.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3

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