LNH: Burst Beetle Tweseveny #2: "1997: Factor Analysis and the Variable M!"
pwerdna at gmail.com
Thu Sep 20 20:26:47 PDT 2018
Winter! A small city park! On a bench sits a young girl - too young for the
grief weighting her down, too young for the typhoon of desperate feelings
wracking her soul!
In a burst of searing light, with the sound of a dial-up modem, a figure appears
on the sidewalk! A figure in black armor with softly glowing amber accents, and
a digital clock on her belt reading the impossible time of 19:97!
The figure raises her arms in the air - one to the left, and one over her head!
"My name is Burst Beetle Tweseveny..." She brings her arms together in the air,
then pulls them down, flexing and ready for action! "And on the squeal of this
modem, I swear that I will bring pointless goofing-off back to the Net!"
"Uh... hi," says the girl, taken aback. "I'm A... I'm Carolyn. Pleased to meet
you, I guess?"
"Greetings, Carolyn!" Tweseveny bounces forward, catching Carolyn's small, pale
hand in hers. "And can you tell me - what *year* is it?"
Something in Carolyn wilts, but she gives an honest answer: "Nineteen ninety-seven."
Tweseveny whoops in triumph. "It worked! I've broken free of the shackles of the
future - and come back to the glorious silliness of the past!"
Carolyn sighs, crossing her arms. "That's great for you," she says, voice flat
and bitter. "I'm glad you're having so much silly fun."
"Oh!" Tweseveny turns. "A thousand pardons, ma'am, for it sounds like I've hit a
"Heh." Carolyn shakes her head. "No. Well, yes. Just..." For a moment, she
wrestles with a surge of terrible anger and guilt. "Time travel... My boyfriend,
he..." She looks into her hands, and squeezes them like she's trying to grip
something massive and unwieldy. "He got kidnapped by a time traveler... who was,
like... him from the future? And now he's... sort of dead."
"Oh *oh!*" Burst Beetle Tweseveny reaches down. She pushes the little red gem
below the clock face on her waist, and her armor dissolves, revealing a woman in
her mid-thirties. "I'm sorry for your loss, ma'am." She pulls her phone out of
her buckle, the clock face resetting to 00:00, and steps forward, arms open.
"Would you appreciate a hug?"
"Um." Carolyn scoots an inch or two away from the older woman. "No thank you,
but I *do* appreciate the offer. ...and the request for consent."
"Of course!" Tweseveny put her fist over her heart. "That's what a thoughtful
Carolyn chuckled. "Have you ever met Easily-Discovered Man, perchance?"
"Ah, if only!" Tweseveny clasped her hands. "That level of glorious silliness...
I hope to achieve it, one day!" She shook her head. "But enough of me!" She
turned to Carolyn. "Do you have anyone to distract you from your grief, in this
"Well, there's my teammates, I guess, but... I don't think any of them are
particularly good at emotions. Most of us are pretty young, and those who aren't
"Then we have a chance to do what every teenage girl did, in the days before
Amazon and urban redevelopment! We must go to--" Tweseveny pointed off into the
distance. "The mall!"
Meet a strange lady on the street and go shopping with her to get over your
grief? "Well," said Carolyn, "it's worth a try."
[Carolyn and Tweseveny entering the enormous mall, still in its prime and
stocked bottom-to-top with Stuff!]
[Carolyn trying on an outfit, and Tweseveny oohing and applauding!]
[Tweseveny getting her oversized belt buckle on over her outfit, and Carolyn
[Tweseveny pulling out empty pockets, and Carolyn paying but also being
impressed that she has pockets on her skirt!]
[The two of them playing light-gun games in the arcade!]
[The two of them being chased by a stampede of elephants through the mezzanine!]
[And finally, the two of them sitting down in the neon-lit food court with trays
full of Chinese food and pizza!]
Carolyn laughed, nibbling on a thick slice with extra cheese and General Tso's
chicken. "I didn't expect you to make the elephant *sneeze*."
Tweseveny laughed. "Well, neither did I! You don't expect an elephant to be
allergic, especially to lavender."
Carolyn sighed and relaxed. "Mmmm... this is nice, but didn't you have something
more important to do? When you appeared, you seemed, ah... dramatic."
Tweseveny shook her head. "Nope! To be honest, this is my first mission!"
"This is a... mission?" Carolyn raised her eyebrow.
Tweseveny leapt to her feet. "The voice that spoke to me through the modem's
warbling static... it told me that I no longer had to work in the dreadful
corporate grind... it told me I could work by playing..." She raised her fist,
looking off into the distance. "And bring unseriousness to this oh-so-serious
Carolyn revises her level of suspected crazy upward a bit. Still... "I guess
some unseriousness was just what I needed."
"Disagreed! What you need is to PERISH!"
Carolyn reflexively kicks off the table-- just before an elegant mahogany
grandfather clock, hands set to 7:20, smashes into it! She tumbles to the floor,
but gets halfway to her feet - before freezing in shock!
Before her is a man in dirty brown robes, a red-on-brown brooch of a clock set
to 7:20 pinning them together. Above his head, dark forces curl, an enormous
clock face sliding out of a rift in spacetime! His hair is long, messy and gray,
and his face is worn into a sneer by years of cruelty - but for all that, it is
a face Carolyn recognizes!
"Terrence-- it can't be!"
"Oh, but it is!" the man snarls, grinning in empty glee. "Whining about how your
little boyfriend got taken away by his big bad future self? How about a nice
little reunion-- with THE TIME CRAPPER!"
"THAT'S A TERRIBLE NAME!" And right across the Time Crapper's cruelty-worn face
strikes the armored fist of the transformed and ready-to-go Burst Beetle
Tweseveny! "Take it from me, the woman with a name that's like someone started
making a pun and gave up halfway! In the name of terrible names, I'm gonna kick
"Oh REALLY!" Right across Burst Beetle Tweseveny's chest strikes an armored
foot! Sparks fly up as the kick throws her bodily into the food court's tiled floor!
"Owww... jeez, I forgot I've never actually fought anyone before... who..." She
raises her head to see her opponent. There, a figure, standing next to the Time
Crapper (who sulkily nurses the bruise on his cheek). She wears insectoid armor,
made of lacquered mahogany, with gold trim and ivory inlays. On her head, a
visor giving her a sneering expression of superiority. On her forehead, a pair
of clock hands in a V, and at her waist, an analog clock face, hands at 7:20.
"Looks like you're not taking this fight *seriously* enough, Tweseveny! Or this
mission! But don't worry," she says, mockery dripping from her voice. "Burst
Beetle M-Plot will get things back on schedule!"
Drew "that's right, my first stop is Teenfactor" Perron
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