LNH: The Liminals #2
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Wed May 3 17:21:27 PDT 2017
#2: "Night Fever"
A Legion of Net.Heroes story by Adrian McClure
The club was packed that night. No one noticed the net.hero lurking at
the edge of the dance floor. That was what she wanted. If there was
one thing she was good at, it was not being noticed.
She was dressed in civilian clothes of course--a black tank-top that
said "no one knows I'm a lesbian." Her hair was in a sharp bob and she
wore black lipstick. In many other places she'd stand out, but not
here, and she didn't want to.
Her name was Victoria Arden, otherwise known as Forsaken Lass of the
Legion of Net.Heroes. Her girlfriend, Alice, called her "Vic," but she
was the only one allowed to do that. She knew she was a woman, that
she was trans, that she was Asian, but she didn't know anything else
about herself. She knew nothing about her family, her identity, her
community. All that had been taken away from her when she had been
cast into Limbo, the place where no stories are told. And yet she was
still there, somehow, but she wasn't all there. She'd built a new
family for herself with the Liminals, and that helped her a little,
but not enough. There was an overwhelming emptiness where her self was
supposed to be.
Now she was taking steps to heal the wound that was herself. She had
reasoned that the secrets of her past must be somewhere in the
Infinite Library, which contained every book that does, did or could
exist. There was just one problem--the Library was missing. When she'd
gone there she'd found the entrance to it, the marble archway flanked
by winged lions with glasses reading books, opened up onto a blank
stone wall. "Don't ask me," one of the statues had said, "I just work
here." It had yawned and stretched out its legs and gone back to
turning the pages of its stone book.
In theory, it was possible to get into the Infinite Library from any
library in the world if you knew the right signs and signals--but none
of them did. There were people who did know, but they were having
trouble getting into it too. Fearless Leader had said the LNH's
occultists were looking into it, but no one knew how long they'd take.
Masterplan Lad could have done it if he still had the power of the
Knights Temporal behind him, but that was long gone. She had hit a
dead end, and she needed a distraction. So of course she'd be facing
something that took her back the worst moment of her life, but she'd
take what she could get.
So here she was, in a club full of people she didn't know--exactly the
kind of place she would never go if she could help it. If there were
even one friend here, that would make a lot of difference, but she
knew this was something she had to face alone. She felt lost in the
dancing mass of people. Two men were dancing by, perfectly in sync;
she found herself jealous of their intimacy.
Were there any other queer women here? Probably. Several women seemed
to be sizing her up but then backing down. Her powerful,
well-practiced "don't look at me" vibes, were driving away the handful
of straight men who noticed her--even the ones who might think of a
shirt like hers as a challenge--but driving away the girls too. Maybe
she should try talking to--
No. She had a specific mission here. She was here to fight a god.
She thought back to a little earlier, to another party in the
LNHQ--the one they'd held after only just preventing the end of the
world, again. Even Ultimate Ninja had loosened up a bit, showing off
his moves on the dance floor. Victoria had stuck around for about an
hour and left. No one had seemed to notice she'd gone--even her
friends had other people to talk to. The worst thing about the LNH is
that she felt like she *almost* belonged. A version of her had been
part of this, been involved in all the crossovers and in-jokes, but
she couldn't remember that person at all.
So she'd sat down on the library, the quietest part of the LNHQ, the
place where she could get away from the crowds and the presence in the
back of her mind. It had been so quiet even the sound of her turning
the pages was deafening. She'd stopped reading the book and just
turned the pages slowly to take her mind off of things.
"Moment of your time?" A voice had cracked the silence. It was...
"Fearless Leader? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Didn't feel much like celebrating. I need your help for something,
and I need to talk with you about it in private."
"What is it?" she had said, knowing there was no way this could
possibly end well.
"Disco." Most people who heard that would laugh. They hadn't lost
their entire world to Flipseid, the Net.God of Disco, like Fearless
Leader had. Or been sent on a mission to strike back at him after his
attack on Earth and been wiped out of existence along with their whole
team by the Discomega Effect, surviving only because of a freak of
metafiction, like Victoria.
And that was why, when she'd been dancing and starting to talk with
people and actually enjoy it a bit, and "Staying Alive" had come on,
she'd frozen up and then quietly left.
"We've been picking up readings of Net.God technology downtown,"
Fearless leader had told her. "We think someone from Topphorti's
hiding out there. I felt the mission should go to you, since you know
what's at stake. I know it's difficult, sometimes, to survive. If the
ones who make it out alive are the lucky ones, we don't always feel
like it. But what we can do is make sure what happened to us never
happens to anyone else."
Victoria had nodded, her frustration and emptiness hardened into a
cold anger. "I'll take it."
She could have called in her friends for help, but she knew in her
heart she had to face this alone. She'd lost one group of friends to
the Net.Gods already. She didn't want to lose another.
Victoria pulled herself back into the moment. She had to keep her mind
on the mission. No use thinking on the past, especially when so much
of it was missing. She had to find her quarry--
There. There she was.
Disco music was blaring in the background now, but she's steeled and
numbed herself to it, knowing it was coming. At some point the music
had changed, becoming something otherworldly and mysterious, and the
woman came sharply into focus, the room re-centering itself around
Just from watching her movements on the dancefloor, the way everyone
paid attention to her, Victoria knew she was a god. And somewhere in
her heart of hearts she wanted to be that beautiful and that adored,
even though the idea of being noticed by everyone terrified her.
The whole room was under her spell. The DJ was too, she realized--that
was why the song was unfamiliar. Her movements were becoming the
"When you find the god, do not engage," Fearless Leader had said.
"Contact the LNHQ immediately."
She left the bar and slowly made her way to the dancefloor. She felt
herself pulled in by a need that felt sick and unpleasant. The god saw
her walking on the dancefloor and winked. Victoria thought she saw a
burst of rainbow glitter in the air when she did.
"Do not engage."
She stumbled onto the dance floor, and felt the rhythm wrap itself
around her. She was a dark moth caught in the god's flame-light.
Closer and closer she drew to the god.
She couldn't stop dancing. This was a trap, and she was caught.
She knew she had to leave. She had escaped from Limbo but Limbo was
still part of her. She could shift into it, slip out of the narrative
and make herself forgotten.
She wanted to run away. To hide in the darkness and be alone.
But she wouldn't be alone.
It was waiting there for her.
The being that she'd found in the form of a sword, which gave her the
power to channel and control the presence of Limbo and use it against
her enemies--at the price of letting it control her.
The thing that Amnesiac Brad Pitt, the last of the brotherhood of
morally ambiguous mages known as Net.Trenchcoat Brigade, had called
the Wraal Abjurer. [WikiLull #10]. What did that even mean--
Somewhere in the chaos, she thought she glimpsed a Furby, trying to
say something to her. She blinked and it was gone. And she hadn't even
The thoughts drifted away when she looked into the god's eyes. Eyes
that sparkled with eerie glittering light like a disco ball.
Being in her presence, she felt the same way she did gazing into a
cliff on top of a mountain--not that she could ever remember doing
that, but she knew how she'd feel if she did. As if she were looking
into something vertiginous and overpowering. It was the same feeling
she'd had, a world away, when she'd met Exciting Leather Strap-On
Lass. [In Looniverse Y #14, not 15 as the previous issue
said--Footnote Girl, who is maybe not old enough to be reading this,
And it was the same feeling she'd had, on a day she could never
remember and never forget, when she'd traveled to the world of the
Her awe, terror, yearning sharpened and hardened into hatred.
Long ago there was a war between the gods of creativity and freedom,
and the gods of repression and exploitation. The evil gods won.
Flipseid had set his power against the LNH and been the one enemy they
never truly defeated. Every time the team faced his forces, it was at
great cost. His minion OMAR's attack on Net.ropolis had taken the
lives of several net.heroes [in the now classic Flame Wars IV--FG]. If
another god like that was loose now, it had to be stopped, no matter
When she'd stepped onto the floor she'd rehearsed the movements she'd
make in her mind, drawing her sword and stabbing her again and again,
pouring all her pain and terror into each thrust. But now new emotions
were filling her. She felt her fears and anxieties slip away--and
clung to them tightly.
The woman--the god--slid off the floor and pulled her over to the bar.
"Say," she said, "how about a drink?" There was something odd about
her voice--it sounded almost altered, almost like autotune.
"I don't drink," she said.
The god was almost too beautiful to be real. Getting up close to her,
she *didn't* seem real--like she was an image projected in the air,
but her touch was all too real. It left a weird tingling in Victoria's
skin. She felt a queasy sense of horror from looking into the face of
this distorted image, this fake girl--but was she? Wouldn't other
people think the same about her? What what was a "real" woman? And
could Victoria say she was a real person if she didn't even exist?
It didn't matter. She knew she was face to face with evil. She
recognized the woman immediately. This was Slickshiver--a Net.God who
had clashed with Seyfert, one of the most powerful of the LNHers.
[Back during LNH v2 #50--FG] He'd barely won by invoking the
TheyMightBePowers, the creative power of Johns Flansburgh and Linnell.
How did she stand a chance?
"Actually, why don't we talk alone?" said Victoria.
"I like the track you're playing, baby." Slickshiver laughed. She led
her off into the hallway, past some other couples lost in tangles of
flesh, and then...
She felt a harsh wrenching, as they were no longer in the world. This
was room with no door or window, with swirling rainbow patterns on the
walls. Victoria touched the wall, the patterns shifted, making a
bell-like tone. Everything's giving off a subtle vibration, the white
plastic table and chair. I was almost like the room is made out of
music. On the table was another telltale mark of the Net.Gods--an
alien device covered in labyrinthine turnings of circuitry, a Beat
"So," said Slickshiver, "you wouldn't have a boyfriend, would you? Girlfriend?"
She did have a girlfriend. For a moment had actually forgotten
that--so caught up in this that the rest of her life had vanished
away. Sickshiver looked at her with a hungry, eager eye. Victoria
wanted to say "no." It was almost too late--she was trapped. She had
to act now.
She drew her sword from nowhere and felt the black carapace of her
armor form around her, her face wrenched in fury. Slickshiver twisted
to strike, her hands charged with a halo of dancing light. The
patterns on the walls grew jagged, reflecting shock and fear.
"Flipseid sent you?"
Those words pierced Victoria harder than any weapon could. "I'm from
the LNH. We're here to stop you."
"Stop me from what?" Slickshiver laughed. "I'm just here to dance."
"Then you're not working for Flipseid?"
"Working for Flipseid? Hell no. I'm working for myself, no one else.
He's my enemy."
"All right." Victoria did not move forward but did not lower her
"Well, it's an old story--I used to be a nobody, and Flipseid promised
to make me somebody. I was one of the lowest of the lowlies, and he
drafted me to join the Club Bangers."
They were Flipseid's disposable shock troops. All the ones anyone knew
about had been male. Was that why she'd reached out to
Victoria--because she'd seen something in common between them?
"Flipseid promised to make me gorgeous and glamorous. To make me shine
like a star. All I had to give him in return was--you guessed it--my
soul. I handed it over in a silver platter. And I didn't question it a
bit. Sometimes I stayed up late and cried because I was missing
something but I didn't know what it was and I didn't care.
"Then someone played another song for me... It changed me. Made me
feel all the things I was scared to feel. You know They Might Be
Giants, right? They have a lot of songs about working in shitty jobs.
Whenever I did missions for Flipseid, I kept getting Put Your Hand
Inside the Puppet Head stuck in her head. And it had a real feeling
and meaning which was missing from her own work--so I ran away to make
her own music. So that's where I am. If you wanna fight me, I'll fight
you. I'll fight anyone. No one can keep me down."
Victoria held her sword steady. This was one of the evil Net.Gods, the
same ones who'd stolen her life. And yet she faced and struggled with
the same things VIctoria did--or was that just what she wanted her to
think? The sword-shaped absence in the air hung in hesitation.
But then she heard a noise which made the floor rattle and the walls
break out into sharp shaky dissonance. It was the transport of the
gods--a Bang Path.
"Flipseid's here," Slickshiver said. "Time to hit the floor."
The walls fell down, and Victoria felt the wrenching again, back in
the world of stained walls and loud music. They were not alone.
Surrounding them were hulking armored figures holding massive
clubs--the Club Bangers.
This, at least, Victoria knew how to do.
The sword swung through the air, cutting into their armor, casting
bits of it into the nothingness of Limbo, letting the electricity of
the broken armor arc in the air. She knew she could throw them there,
but she had no idea if they'd come out. These creatures deserved to
die, but if she let the sword take over, it wouldn't stop with them.
The void was endless and hungry.
In the corner of her eye she could glimpse Slickshiver, who broke
through the wall of Club Bangers and made her way onto the dancefloor.
Her movements left a trail of sparkling, many-colored light in the
air. The music changed accordingly, grown hard, fast, aggressive. But
somehow it strengthened Victoria as she followed Sickshiver, giving
her more control over her movements, keeping her from slipping into
the sword's power.
None of the others seemed to see them. "You're on a different level of
reality," said Slickshiver. "You're dancing with the gods now, baby."
Then another Bang Path echoed in the room. The floor shook. Everyone
on the floor stopped what they were doing. The music fell silent.
Another Club Banger stepped through, bearing a Beat Box. The dancers
couldn't see him, but instinctively moved away from him. He lay it on
the floor and an image appeared in the air. A towering figure, it
skin grooved like vinyl. Victoria could not remember ever having seen
him, but she knew him.
"It's time to come home, Slickshiver!" said Flipseid's harsh echoing
voice. "You've had your chance to run away--to play at freedom! Now is
the time to grow--to be an adult!" Slickshiver froze up, not even
Every bone in her body told Victoria she had to run. She did not.
"Hold it," said Victoria, stepping between Sickshiver and Flipseid.
"Are you sure your contract's in order?"
"Who are you to question me?" barked Flipseid.
"I'm a member of the LNH. I have the Lethal Lawyer Corps on speed
dial." In fact, she'd left her phone at home, assuming she hadn't
accidentally erase it from existence.
"Very well then. You shall see that there is no escape." A wall of
text appeared beside Flipseid--the contract.
Victoria drew her sword, and pointed into it. She opened the hungry
mouth of the void within her. The contract was gone, like a puff of
vapor, as if it had never been.
A sharp silence filled the room. And from somewhere far away, Flipseid
laughed and clapped his hands. "Clever, clever, clever! I'll let you
dance a little longer." His image buzzed and vanished from the air,
and the Club Bangers leaped back through the Bang Path which closed
behind them with a final clang. The room was still and silent.
Slickshiver slowly rose up into the air, sparkles swirling around her
like a cloud of fireflies, faster and faster. Everyone began to dance
again, overtaken by joy, including Victoria. She found herself dancing
with a girl she didn't know, laughing at a joke neither of them
understood. She was part of the mass of people moving in the harmony
of flesh.Stayin' Alive was playing again, but this time it didn't make
her feel scared or trapped. It made her feel, well, alive.
But once more she looked up. Slickshiver blew her a kiss. A puff of
light rose from her lips, expanding into a cloud of glitter which
anointed Victoria's face and hair. And then she was gone.
In time the power of the music that overcame her faded away. She said
goodbye, left the club and stumbled back home, exultant and confused
and relieved. At night the city was quiet and almost peaceful. She
should have been afraid, walking through it alone,but somehow she
wasn't. In time she made her way back to the LNHQ and knocked the door
to her and Alice's room. They shared a room because felt panicky when
she slept alone, even though they still hadn't "really" slept together
Alice had probably been staying up late binge-watching The Librarians.
She opened the door and her jaw dropped. It must have been a shock to
see Victoria covered in glitter and laughing.
"Vic, are you okay?"
"I'm great. I'm great!" She laughed.
"Long story." She grabbed Alice's hand and entwined her fingers in them.
"Uh... are you drunk?"
"That's usually a yes or no thing."
"Then no." She laughed.
Alice led her over to the bed. "You look like I could use some sleep."
"Oh, I'm not ready to sleep yet." She felt her heart stop. This, she
knew, was the time. She giggled and whispered in Victoria's ear:
"You sure?" Alice's eyes were wide open. Suddenly it was she, usually
the one who took charge and pushed things forward, who was hesitant.
"Oh yeah." Victoria wrapped her arms around Alice and pulled her into a kiss.
And then they joined together in the dance.
And in a place beyond world and time, a god watched, with pitiless
"You're just going to let her get away like that, my lord?" said the
lackey by his side.
He laughed a grim earthquake laugh. "Let her feel the illusion of
escape. It will be all the more delicious when she finds she was never
free. And as for Victoria... Her punishment has not ended. After all,
she is in the hands of a power far more dangerous than mine..."
This issue wound up being a lot more intense and dramatic. This is one
of only two LNH series that are active right now, so I'm trying to
work in as many different styles of LNH as I can. The next two issues
(spotlighting Manga Girl and Net.Access, will be back to more more
comedy-adventure. After that, the series will probably veer all over
the place like a drunken roller coaster.
Adrian "The Dark Spaceknight" McClure, now with sig
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