LNH20: Bite-Size Tales of the LNH v20 #19: "Having Fun Isn't Hard"
pwerdna at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 07:55:24 PST 2018
The Fearless Leader of the Classic Looniverse walked down the halls of the
Infinite Library, following in the path of a young man; an Egyptian teenager in
a natty suit who, he had been assured, was known as Library Lad. Felix vaguely
remembered a member of the LNH with that name on the Loonivearth. Maybe.
"Usually," said the lad, "the paths of the Infinite Library stretch thru L-space
to every possible world, or at least, every world that has some variation of the
concept of 'books'. Of course, that makes it very difficult to navigate -
nigh-impossible, in fact, unless you have the help of one of the Librarians of
Space-Time." He gave a little smile, just slightly smug. "Which I am."
It was amazing, thought Fearless Leader; he spoke like a flawless impression of
what a teenager thought an adult was.
"Unfortunately..." His confident expression shifted into a frown. "Your world is
blocked off." He reached out, plucked a book off a passing shelf, and leafed
thru it, continuing to walk. "It says that there's a general hold put on all
accounts originating in universe SW920501. Access denied, with no information in
the 'reason' field or any such metadata." He sighed and slipped the book into
the next shelf they passed by - actually, Fearless Leader thought, it might be
the same shelf, somehow. "Most annoying. I haven't seen a misuse of structural
power like this since the days of Master Workload." He shook his head. "It's
particularly bothersome for me, seeing as my brother is on the other side."
"Oh?" enquired Fearless Leader, half out of politeness and half out of automatic
"Ah... yes." Library Lad hesitated for a moment, then composed himself. "One of
those complicated dimensional things, you know."
"Of course," said Fearless Leader, fully out of politeness. One of his little
mental alarms was ringing at the back of his brain; something about the Infinite
Library and not being able to get in... "So what's the upshot in terms of
sending me home?"
"The upshot is, there's a difficult, complicated, but achievable way to get you
out. And absolutely no way to get you back in after. Unless you come via another
world, of course. And even then it'd be difficult; I believe the Library only
let you in so easily this time because you and our Fearless Leader entered at
the same time, and it assumed that only a single account was being accessed."
"I see..." And then the mental alarm stopped, and a memory popped up like toast
out of a toaster. "Victoria..."
"Hm?" Library Lad stopped in front of a friendly computer terminal, cocking his
head, looking up at Fearless Leader.
"Sorry, I was just reminded. She doesn't talk about it much, but... one of my
people's been trying to get in here for a while." Fearless Leader shook his
head, looking off at nothing. "She... on a mission I assigned, she lost
everything. Her entire history. And only came back because of a fluke." He
licked his lips just slightly, looking up at the endless aisles of books,
hardbacks, paperbacks, enormous encyclopedias, tiny pamphlets, and... "Somewhere
in here, they have the information about... who she used to be, and what she's
become. What she brought back with her, from the void."
"Hmmmm..." Library Lad ran a hand thru his hair, deep in thought. "I can at
least look her up in the system and see if there's something in her account that
she hasn't been able to pick up..." He turned to the terminal and started
typing, and a search came up. "Hmmm..." He clicked around. "Huh, that's weird,
it's password-protected..." He typed, slowly and carefully... squinting at the
screen... "Ah. I see."
"Duck." Library Lad leapt and pushed Fearless Leader out of the way as the
terminal began to spark and smoke. A moment later, it exploded, glass, metal and
plastic bursting out with a pyrotechnic THOOM!
Fearless Leader coughed, and sat up, helping Library Lad up as well. It didn't
look like shrapnel had hit either of them - just a shelf full of movie-edition
Mortal Engines books. "That doesn't seem good."
"No. She's the one who, personally and specifically, has been targeted by this
block." He flipped his hands thru his hair in irritation, and smoothed out his
suit. "*Most* irritating." He stood up straight. "A simple bureaucratic blockage
I can deal with, but the cavalier waste of public resources I cannot stand. Just
a moment, please."
Library Lad stalked off down the aisles. Fearless Leader watched him go... then
heard a voice from behind him. "*There* we are."
Fearless Leader jumped and spun, but it was Library Lad, looking composed again.
Of course - it was easy to forget that a Librarian of Space-Time could take all
the time they needed to look up a book, without having to deal with the messy
business of waiting. "What did you find?"
"The book she's looking for is a reference copy, so I can't allow it to be taken
out of the Library," said Library Lad. "And the Cosmic Photocopier's been down
for millenia, so I can't just copy the relevant pages. But I did find this." He
handed Fearless Leader a beat-up old trade paperback. "It's the comic book
adaptation. It cuts out a lot, because it was produced as a quick, cheap
licensed work in the mid-00s. But it should provide some guidance. And..." He
gave Fearless Leader an index card, on which was written a long string of
numbers. "If she manages to, somehow, make her way around the block, this is the
Expanded Dewey Decimal address of the book in question." He sighed. "I'm going
to try to address this problem personally, but it will, I'm afraid, take some time."
"That's quite all right," nodded Fearless Leader. "Thank you for your efforts."
"Absolutely." Library Lad pushed, with some effort, a beaming smile onto his
face. Fearless Leader could sense the public service training. "Now, as to the
matter of getting you home..."
They walked down a snaking path, down aisles and along unfamiliar corridors.
Fearless Leader got the sense that Library Lad was putting some effort in that
he hadn't before, to avoid some sort of notice. Eventually, they came to an
enormous pair of doors, warm mahogany edged in curly gold, with a great bar
across them made of ebon metal. "This is the main door to your universe; as you
can see, currently locked. And this is how we'll be getting you home."
Fearless Leader turned, and saw, sitting in the middle of the children's
section, a large cannon in bright, circus-y colors. It was pointed upwards at an
angle; looking up along the line of fire, Fearless Leader could see a single
window, open, with bright blue sky on the other side.
"...ah," he said.
Library Lad handed him a helmet. "We hope that you've had a good stay on
Earth-20, please come again!"
Drew "following up on one of Jeanne's plot points!" Perron
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