LNH: Burst Beetle Tweseveny #3: "1997: Scattered Plots and the Time Traveler's Ex-Girlfriend!"

Drew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 16:44:52 PDT 2018

Burst Beetle Tweseveny glares up at the figure before her, clenching her fist! A 
figure in insectoid armor with a fancy analog clock theme and a sneering sense 
of superiority!

"Looks like you're not taking this fight *seriously* enough, Tweseveny!" says 
the figure, clenching her fist right back. "Or this mission! But don't worry - 
Burst Beetle M-Plot will get things back on schedule!"

"Time puns are supposed to be *my* thing," sulks the man next to her. Aging and 
surly, he wears a brown robe, spotted with stains and held together by a brown, 
clock-shaped brooch with red hands set to 7:20. In truth, he is a powerful time 
traveler, known for some reason as the Time Crapper.

"Oh, go kill your girlfriend already." M-Plot stalks towards Tweseveny, steps 
measured, pace slow but inexorable. She reaches up and plucks one of the little 
clock hands off her forehead, and it grows in her hand, transforming, 
lengthening into a deadly blade! "I have a duty to fulfill - and it's going to 
be *satisfying*."

"Fine, fine." The Time Crapper reaches out with his hands, summoning a rift, 
shadows in time curling out of the shadows in his soul! He turns to Carolyn 
Forge, his past self's girlfriend, now his helpless target for annihilation... 
and finds out that she is, in fact, no longer in sight to be targeted. "Well, shit."

Tweseveny rolls away with all the quickness at her command as M-Plot's sword 
comes down, shattering the tiled floor of the mall food court! "Jeez, lady! You 
really gotta be interfering in a domestic dispute?"

"They come to a sticky end either way," shouts M-Plot, leaping after her. "Best 
to get it over with now - and save everyone the agony of watching it stretch out!"

Blasts of bioelectric energy burst around M-Plot, and she falters! A figure in 
crimson armor, trimmed in pink, hovers above! "Don't you know the slow-burn 
angst is the best kind?" The voice issuing from the armor is young and stressed, 
but defiant and strong! The voice of Carolyn Forge - AKA the high-flying Aero 
Lass! "Believe me, I've been thru enough of it!"

"*There* you are!" The Time Crapper raises his hand, and a line of distorted 
time warps in Carolyn's direction! But she's light on her wings, dodging nimbly 
through the air!

"Face front, true deceiver!" With a swish and a flick, the tip of a blade dances 
across the Time Crapper's back!

Sparks and smoke fly up, and he screams, stumbling forward! "What pain is this!?"

Behind him proudly stands Burst Beetle Tweseveny, toes in balletic third 
position, in her hand a fencing foil with a reflective black pommel and a 
glowing amber blade. "The High-Tension Temporal Piercer! Forged from a shard of 
Hypertext Time!" She leaps forward, thrusting as the Time Crapper stumbles away. 
"I'm not a hundred percent sure what that is, but I think it's probably real 
good against cosmic time dudes!"

"That's NOT how this is supposed to go!" shouts M-Plot, dodging Aero Lass's aero 
blastses. "Stealing my confrontation-- ruining the climax I set up for you-- 
GORDIAN SLICE!" In a cool visual effect which slices diagonally from upper left 
to lower right, M-Plot swings her sword, opening a tear in the story! The edges 
of the tear roll away, and when they're clear, M-Plot is slicing at Tweseveny, 
while Carolyn is dodging the Time Crapper's blasts!

"What the heck?" says Tweseveny. She brings up the High-Tension Temporal 
Piercer, and the heavy clock hand slides off the featherlight foil like it was a 
steel wall! "I was doing something cool, too!"

"Shut UP!" M-Plot stabs and swings with furious lack of grace. "You stupid silly 
assholes who won't follow the rules and make the rest of us look bad! You make 
it so much harder on us! The people who are trying to work within the system!" 
She scores a hit, sparks and smoke flying up from Tweseveny's armored form! "The 
people who are trying to actually do valuable, practical work!"

Tweseveny leaps back, in a defensive pose, rubbing feeling back into her arm. 
"Boy," she pants,  "are *you* barking up the wrong tree!" She spins her blade, a 
whirlwind of swift motion going on the attack!  "I lived in your system all my 
life - now I'm *free*, and not going back!"

"Your freedom comes at the expense of our livelihoods!" M-Plot parries!

"Your system comes at the expense of our *lives*!" Tweseveny thrusts!

Carolyn's internal monologue is full of grumblings! She'd *love* to be in an 
exciting clash of philosophies. but instead, she's stuck fighting a combination 
of shallow teenage cynicism and shallow adult know-it-all. Or perhaps, she 
notes, it's the other way around.

"You won't accept my presents, my sweet?" A replica of Big Ben flies thru the 
air, smashing spectacularly into the Sbarro. "You accepted the future I gave you!"

"I wouldn't accept *anything* from somebody who's *given up*!" The mighty 
mademoiselle summons the electrical energies of her own body into the gauntlets 
of the armor, firing off a powerful blast! Powerful... but not *nearly* powerful 
enough to stop a cosmic being like this. C'mon, Carolyn, *think*! That's what 
you're supposed to be good at!

"And yet Terrence gave up - gave in to the future that is *me*!" Deadly cuckoos 
fly from the Crapper's rift, detonating against the mall skylight, sending down 
a rain of sparkling shards! "Oh, but the futures in store for *you*! You're 
destined to become a *far* worse villain! Conquerer! Maniac! You rip the world 
apart for the sake of your rage and loneliness!" He grins savagely! "And I'm 
afraid I'm just not fond of competition!"


Carolyn shakes herself from a moment of fugue, narrowly dodging a replica of the 
first atomic clock, built by Louis Essen and Jack Parry in 1955 at the National 
Physical Laboratory in the UK! "Is that why you decided to become the *third* 
Time Crapper?" she fires back, and makes up her mind! Time for a risky move!

She rose up high in the air, up to the skylight. Bioelectricity gathers in the 
capacitors of her armor, and she triggers something she's starting to think of 
as Escapade Mode, channeling it into her hands. One hit from this and she'll 
directly discharge an enormous burst of energy straight into his face!

She goes into a powerdive, looking directly into his eyes, aiming for his face, 
and shouts, "I'm *nothing* like you!"

The Time Crapper grins, eyes locked on hers, the abyss staring back. "Terrence's 

It's only for a breath. But she flinches.

And the breath that issues from his mouth, the cold darkness flowing from his 
eyes, swallows her in an instant and she *screams*. Entropic energy crackles 
thru her systems, and it feels like the moment of failure and pain is stretching 
out hyperbolically into endless regret...

She falls.

"CAROLYN!" shouts Tweseveny. She wrenches herself away from combat with M-Plot 
and runs for the fallen figure.

M-Plot simply stands, lowering her sword. "Hmh. Finally."

"...fuck..." Carolyn struggles with the Aero Lass armor, fingers numb. Her hand 
makes it down the release, and the pieces of the suit clatter off her.  "...'s 
the problem with risky moves... th'risk..."

"Carolyn!" Twesevenly kneels, hands on Carolyn's back and shoulder. "Hey! It's 
gonna be okay!"

"No it isn't!!" Cackling maniacally, the Time Crapper underhand tosses a disc of 
dark energy at the two!

Without a glance back, Tweseveny's arm rises! The High-Tension Temporal Piercer 
swings in a glowing amber arc, knocking the projectile back like it had all the 
momentum of a carelessly tossed frisbee and directing it back to sender!

The Time Crapper shrieks, covers his head, and dives into the Auntie Anne's.

"nnf... 's... 's not wrong, tho..." Carolyn manages to lift herself from the 
pieces of her armor. "i'm so *angry* all the time... was nice when terrence was 
around... he helped... but now I'm all..." She sits up. "I'm all loss and pain 
and broken glass... that's what bad guys are made of..." She looks up at 
Tweseveny, tears shining on her face. "I don't feel like a good guy... some days 
I barely feel *alive*."

"Carolyn..." Tweseveny reaches back into the domesticity of her old life, 
reaches for comforting words, but they aren't there. She was never good at that.

But maybe she can reach past that, into the things her old life's misery locked 
away - the bone-deep love and justice that make her Tweseveny! "Carolyn... 
you're right! You might become a villain!" She pounds her chest! "We don't know 
what direction life will take us... I didn't know I was going to become this! 
But even in embracing darkness, you have a *choice*!"

"...I... what?" Carolyn looks confused, which is better than traumatized. 
Tweseveny presses on!

"This asshole--" She swings her hand at the Auntie Anne's. "Became a dried-up 
old shell of his former self, caring only for the moments of glee in his empty 
existence! But villainy is a *role*! It's something you *play*! Just like being 
a hero! And you can be *playful* about it!"

She stands up, gesturing to the shattered pieces of clockwork around the food 
court. "Look at this jerk! He's throwing around *clocks* like it's something 
super serious! But you can take your anger and make it, not an empty parody of 
tough-guy indulgence, but something worth *feeling*, worth *living*! Be the 
villain you *want* to be, not the villain someone *made* you be! Even when that 
someone is *yourself*!"

"Tweseveny..." Carolyn shakes her head. "That doesn't... that doesn't make 
*sense*, I..." But her eyes are shining again, her head upright - the edges of 
her mouth curling up just a bit. "That's *silly*."

"Isn't it?" Tweseveny poses, devil-may-care, foil tipping rakishly to the side.

And Carolyn smiles... and her eyes focus on the sword. "Oh." She looks up, at 
the figure of the Time Crapper, lifting himself back to his feet; seeing 
something about him newly, clearly. "*Oh*." She stands. "May I see that sword?"

"The High-Tension Temporal Piercer?" says Tweseveny, because she likes saying 
it. "Sure!" She holds out the grip, and Carolyn takes it.

"Thanks." She swishes it thru the air a few times, her smile growing.

"So," speaks the Time Crapper, stepping back out onto the floor, "you plan to 
face me without any of your toys?"

"Tell me," speaks Carolyn, each syllable precise and targeted, looking at the 
foil as it swishes and swoops thru the air, looking not at the villain, "about 
the villain I shall become."

"Hah! All right, if that is your dying wish." The Time Crapper folds his hands, 
his face a deathmask of sinister glee. "A broken, burning world. No sustenance 
but the dribble necessary to continue suffering. Bleeding, darkened skies, 
bleeding, cracked earth!" He throws back his head and releases the laughter of a 
fiend tormenting a damned soul! "Your father himself could not be more diabolical!"

"Ah." A little smile flutters over Carolyn's lips. "Now, that's how I know 
you're wrong." She turns to look. Directly into his eyes.

In the middle of his laughter, he locks eyes with her-- and startles. The abyss, 
looking back.

"You see, I had no father." She steps towards him, foil swinging in lazy circles 
and figure eights, no path followed by the tip of the blade quite the same as 
any other. "Maybe you've gotten confused, tho, because I've had two mothers."

"Caron Forge, inventor of the Aero Lass armor. Not expressive, not comforting, 
but caring and giving." Her steps are measured. "Marie Smith, founding member of 
the biggest team of heroes in the world. Anxious, sad, but still brave, still 
hoping." Her pace is slow, but inexorable. "The pain they went through, because 
of the man you call my father, was a thousand times worse than the darkness you 
go on and on and *on* about."

She stops. His head is a foot above hers, her eyes only at the level of the 
brooch that clasps his robe together. And yet her gaze is fixed on his, solid 
and immovable, her full presence in his space, the only thing separating them 
the lazily swinging tip of the glowing amber fencing foil. "And unlike you, they 
created something with it."

The Time Crapper twitches, but he can't step back, he can't show weakness. 
"Failed careers?" he spits, though not quite at her. "Useless armor? Come on, 
girl," he shrieks, "what *was* it?"

"They created ME!" And the foil comes up, and the Time Crapper shrieks and 
dodges back; but that was foreseen, and the glowing foil passes through the 
cloth of the Crapper's robe, slicing off a chunk very neatly, and with it, 
slicing off the brooch.

"What-- NO!" The Time Crapper's eyes go to the brooch as it clatters on the 
tiles of the food court; and he looks at his hands, as they begin to fade. "No..."

"They're my past! And so is Terrence! And with that past as a foundation, I'll 
build the future of my desires and dreams!" She tosses her head, hair flowing in 
the sudden temporal breeze. "And *you're* not going to be part of it!"

The Time Crapper stares desperately at Burst Beetle M-Plot. "No... you said it 
would *hold* me here! *Take* me from my horrible destiny, if... if only I did 
what you said..." He seems to lessen as he fades, the terrible power that drives 
him ebbing.

"I did," she says. "And it did." She flicks her sword through the air, and it 
shrinks back into a tiny clock hand; and she sticks it back on her forehead. 
"Until you failed."

"oh..." His voice is a whisper on the wind. "i see..." He looks at Carolyn, and 
for a moment, that brief moment, the dark glee melts off his face; and he 
smiles. "well done..." And he is gone.

Carolyn takes a deep breath, lets it out. She turns to Tweseveny. "Ah... you can 
have your sword back now."

"Oh em gee!" Tweseveny bounces over to Carolyn and wraps her up in a hug. "That 
was *amazing*!"

"b'mrff!" says Carolyn, muffledly, squirming in the armored arms.

"Oh, yes!" Tweseveny lets go and steps back. "But how'd you figure it out?"

Carolyn shakes herself out. "Oh, well, it looked important and it looked like 
*her*." She points at M-Plot, who stands there, arms crossed. "Not too hard. And 
your sword seemed really effective on him, so..." She shrugs, modestly.

"Excellent job, Tweseveny," says M-Plot, striding forward, stopping a 
body-length away from her counterpart, one foot forward, up on a chunk of broken 
clock, in an aggressive, confrontational pose. "A nice, straightforward 
emotional climax, with the loose ends tied up." She crosses her arms again. 
"You're doing my *real* work *for* me."

"Oooh!" Tweseveny claps her hands in delight! "Tell me what you're doing! Maybe 
we can work *together*!"

M-Plot's shoulders come up, and her head dips a bit, seeming to glare. "Hh. 
Asshole." She reaches down, to the center of the clock face at her waist, and 
presses the circular ruby at its center. The clock hands begin spinning wildly, 
and a fierce temporal wind kicks up. "Our next meeting won't be such a 
simplistic duel." There was a deep BONG from far away, the sound more felt than 
heard. "Enjoy your silly fun while you can, Tweseveny! Because break time is 
almost over!" Her image pulsed with each bong, the ruby glowing, her body 
fading, until she was gone.

Tweseveny rubbed her helmet. "Y'know, I really don't Get her."

"Stop right there, net.villain!" Carolyn and Tweseveny turn to see a bunch of 
weird people running into the food court.

"Roll call!" shouts the pale boy in the yellowish-brownish-green costume, 
stopping to raise one hand in the air, the other wiping his nose. "Malingerer Lad!"

A girl with purple skin and bright orange-red hair saunters in, putting one hand 
saucily on her hip and giving a flirtatious wink to the audience. "Vixen~"

In rushes a humanoid figure covered on blondish-brown hair, flexing thick 
muscles over the gangly proportions of a teenager. His sharp teeth snap in the 
middle of a face somewhere between the Beast and Norville Rogers, and he howls, 

A more adult-appearing woman with darker, almost purplish hair spins along the 
tiles. She wears a baby-blue top hat and tails (accessorized with fishnets) and 
stretches out a hand that sparkles with magic! "Arcania!"

"Teenfactor!" shouts Malingerer Lad, raising a finger to point at the 
quickly-approaching future. "Is here!"

"Hi, guys," says Carolyn, waving. "You're too late."

"...awh," says Malingerer Lad, finger dropping, shoulders drooping, and a 
hard-to-identify substance dribbling from his ear. "Sorry. You've just been in 
such a bad place since..." He waved a hand. "Well, you know. And when we heard 
you were in trouble, we jumped at the chance to help!"

"Awwww!" Carolyn gives him a lopsided grin. "Thanks. I don't know if I'll be 
okay forever, but I'm okay right now, at least." She gestures at Tweseveny. 
"Besides, I had some help!"

Tweseveny laughs. "Thanks, but really-- I just gave you the chance to help 
yourself!" She claps her on the shoulder. "And it looks like you're in good 
hands now. I hear..." She looks off into the distance. "I'm being called, and I 
must answer..."

Carolyn turns, wraps her arms around the armored form, and gives her a hug. 
"Okay. But if our timelines ever cross again, don't be a stranger, okay?"

Tweseveny hugs Carolyn back. With a voice half-choked by happy tears, she says, 

"Awwwwww..." says Teenfactor in unison.

Tweseveny slips away to the arcade. She reaches down to her belt buckle, finger 
stroking the phone within. "An insistent beeping... an alarm, trying to get my 
attention. Then is this truly a dream, from which I'm about to awaken?"

She sits in the seat of a Cruis'n USA machine and closes her eyes behind her 
helmet. The beeping stills, and arcane acoustic signals issue from its speaker.

"Ah!" Tweseveny smiles. "The dream continues... wonderful! To the future - no... 
*back* to the future!" She giggles in rich, sincere glee, grabbing the steering 
wheel before her, stamping on the gas petal, and watching as the present around 
her melts away into streaming color...

Author's Note: So, just to let everyone know, this is a series being written by 
the seat of my pants - minimal forward planning, maximum letting myself Just 
Write. I have broad-strokes ideas of what will happen in the future, but 
everything's ultimately up for grabs.

Also, one of my missions is to eventually write every iteration of the Time 
Crapper. So far I have VI, IV, III... and you might see another one show up in 
not too long.

Also also! Just for the record, #2 and #3 take place in the two weeks between 
Teenfactor #16 and #17. Yes, I looked it up! :D

Drew "probably won't continue releasing this regularly" Perron

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