LNH/LUNA: The Liminals #8: Motivationquest part 3: Guilty Feet Ain't Got No Rhythm [1/2]

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 14 13:15:35 PST 2020

#8: "Motivationquest part 3: Guilty Feet Ain't Got No Rhythm"
A boss fight by Jeanne Morningstar


Masterplan Lad, guardian of the narrative; Victoria Arden--Forsaken 
Lass, survivor of Limbo; Alice Ashdown--Net.Access, champion of 
crossovers; and Manga Girl--Sakura Mangas, synthetic senshi of 
creativity!  They are four young net.heroes who fight to understand 
themselves and the worlds they inhabit, moving between the heroism of 
the LNH and the uncanny strangeness of the Lunaverse--the Liminals!


Masterplan Lad took a deep breath. He remembered the "54321 "exercise, a 
classic meditation exercise to clear his mind and reground himself in 
his body he'd learned from the Knights Temporal and discussed in 
therapy. You thought of five things you could see, four you could touch, 
three you could hear, two you could smell, and one you could taste.

He looked around and saw:

1. The burning bodies of the damned
2. Demons rejoicing and torturing the damned
3. Giant skulls and bones of unspeakably ancient beings that were 
scattered around
4. Creatures that it was hard to even describe what they were
5. A man who was half-buried head-down in the ground who had, for some 
reason, sheet music tattooed on his posterior

The scenery wasn't helping his anxiety very much.

He felt:

1. The heat of crackling flames that pervaded the air
2. His jacket
3. The Plot Device/umbrellla he was clutching in his hand, prepared to 
wield it against anything that noticed him and his teammates
4. His wallet in his pocket (it was usually a good idea to keep it on 
hand, even when you were in Net.Hell)

He heard:

1. The screams of the damned
2. The fires of Hell
3. The screams of the damned (more distant)

He smelled:

1. Burning sulfur
2. Burning flesh

This wasn't making him feel any better at all, he had to admit. He 
thought about the sense of taste. All he could taste was ash on his 
lips. But he remembered his therapist told him that if there was nothing 
he was tasting, he could think about other things he'd tasted before. So 
he thought of:

1. The taste of Maria's lipstick.

That made him feel a little bit better.

He looked around and saw all his teammates (and their writer) beside 
him, taking in their new environment. "So... this is Hell, I assume," 
said Victoria.

"Sure is," said Maria.

Victoria laughed bitterly. "I've seen worse."

"Yeah, it's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't wanna live here," 
said Maria.

"All right," said Alice. She surveyed her teammates and her new allies. 
The ostrich looked her in the eye warily. "I assume the Shoe Devil is 
around here somewhere..."

"I suspect that's him," said Masterplan Lad.

He pointed to something else coming their way: a shoe-shaped shadow. The 
shadow was being cast by a shoe wearing a red cape, with small horns 
jutting out of its tongue (the shoe part, not the actual tongue). "The 
March of Mephisto" by Kamelot was playing somewhere in the background 
(where it was coming from was not clear, possibly from the level of Hell 
above this, Loud Music Hell).

"Why hello there," said the Shoe Devil. Its voice was deep and warm but 
a little smug. "What are you doing here?" It twitched its cape like a 
cat twitching its tail.

"We're getting our Writer's motivation back!" said Manga Girl. "And 
you're not going to stop us."

The Shoe Devil chuckled, ignoring her. "Hello again, Maria."

"Boy," said Maria, "I sure do end up in Hell a lot. Should get a 
frequent flier discount. Hi, Shoe Devil."

"You owe me, remember? Vergilio and his goons were protecting you from 
me, but now, of course, that deal is off."

"I have no intention of making another deal with you," said Maria. 
"That's why I brought a bunch of net.heroes to stomp you, y'know."

"The only one who will be doing the stomping here is me, Maria. Because 
I'm the Shoe Devil."

"Oh really?" said Alice. She cracked her knuckles.

"Are you sure you want to fight me?" said the Shoe Devil. "Your Writer 
has been responsible for so much pain and frustration in your lives. You 
can probably do without them."

"Hey, don't talk about me like I'm not there!" said Jeanne.

"I can give you anything," said the Shoe Devil, unperturbed: "fame, 
money, women..." The flames seemed to congeal into the shape of 
beautiful women who teased and caressed them and then disappeared. The 
team grimaced, although Victoria seemed a little tempted by the women.

"Don't be ridiculous," said Masterplan Lad.

"I can give you your past, Victoria."

Her breath caught in her throat. She narrowed her eyes. "I won't accept 
that from you."

"I could give you the soul of the man you loved, Masterplan Lad. You 
remember him being sucked into Hell, don't you? [President Evil #6]"

Masterplan Lad shook his head. "He's not here. If he were, I would have 
known immediately."

"Yeah, you can skip the temptation speech," said Maria. "I already made 
that mistake once. You have nothing to offer me I could possibly want."

"Nothing?" said the Shoe Devil.

It was the soul of a dissolute, worn-down-looking middle aged man, 
screaming and twisting in the flames. This was the Anonymous Trenchcoater.


"I know you've been looking for your father's soul for a long time. I 
know you have questions. Well, all you had to do was ask."

She walked up to the soul and reached out to touch the flames, holding 
her hand just close enough it didn't burn her.

"Maria," Masterplan Lad whispered to her, "you're not seriously 
considering taking the deal, are you?"

"I'm thinking," she said. She turned to the Shoe Devil. "All right. I'll 
make the deal."

"What?" said Victoria.

"You--I knew I couldn't trust you." Alice snarled. But none of them 
could move an inch.

"I'll sign the contract. Just--I've got a pen in here somewhere, OK. 
Give me a minute here." The ostrich, standing beside her, kept an 
uncharacteristic poker face. She fished around in her capacious pockets 
(any alcohol-drinking readers took a sip) as the Shoe Devil drew closer.

Instead of a pen, she took out a small glass flask of water and threw it 
right in the Shoe Devil's face. The Shoelike Satan screamed as flames 
flared up around him. "I had a feeling I'd be dealing with you again, 
Calceus. So I came prepared. That's holy water prepared by the Discalced 
Carmelites. Your favorite."

"You--" spat the Shoe Devil. "You lying--"

"Yeah, I was never gonna betray them," said Maria. "Not if you went 
after Vic. Or even my Writer. See, I'd sell my grandmother for a candy 
bar--as long as it's good candy bar--but I'll never let anyone hurt 
another trans girl on my watch."

"You're a Trenchcoater. You were pretending to to build up your Drama," 
said the Shoe Devil. "Of course. But I have more Drama than you can 
possibly imagine."

"Yeah, well. You talk a good game, but you should be vulnerable now that 
that holy water cast a poison-type debuff on you," said Maria. She 
turned to the Liminals and Jeanne. "It's time for you folks to clobber 
him, now!"

"You said it!" said Manga Girl. She made a dash at the Devil. Net.Access 
summoned her magical girl form, pelting the Shoe Devil with Greek 
mythology-based attacks [as seen in Ultimate Mercenary #7] and Victoria 
drew her limbo-sword, letting its powers wash over her, all fear and 
hesitation over using it gone.

Net.Access, Forsaken Lass and Manga Girl smashed away the Shoe Devil 
while Masterplan Lad and Maria stood on the sidelines, healing their 
comrades and casting debuffs on the Shoe Devil. They seemed to make very 
little dent on the demon lord, who laughed mockingly.

"Hey," said Maria to Jeanne, "Is there anything you can do against that 
thing? Zap it with author powers or something?"

"Well... maybe," said Jeanne. "With my creativity and motivation as low 
as they are, I can't really use authorial powers against the Shoe Devil. 
But I do have this sort of... chainsword magical girl symbiote that the 
Shoe Devil threw in as part of the deal." [Hungry, Hungry Sabertooths #4 
and 7.5]

"OK. You should maybe use that, then," said Maria.

Jeanne pulled their chainsword out of... somewhere and pressed the 
button on the side. The Spawn-esque magical girl costume flowed in 
around them. "CRY FOR THE MOON!" they shouted as they swung their sword 
at the Shoe Devil.

Alice took a step back as Jeanne charged in. Flames burst out all around 
them. She looked the ostrich, who was warily surveying the battle, in 
the eye."Look," said Alice to the ostrich. "I know we don't trust each 
other yet. But right now, your help."

The ostrich chirped affirmatively.

She shifted into Transformer form, and Fastball Specialed the ostrich 
right at the Shoe Devil. The Ostrich started kicking and biting it, 
while Manga Girl hammered it with her fists, Alice with missiles and 
Jeanne with their chainsword. None of it seemed to make any difference.

The Shoe Devil began to glow, charging itself up, and slammed down 
directly onto Jeanne, tossing the others aside, stamping up and down on 
them repeatedly, grinding them into nothing...

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