LNH: Hungry, Hungry Sabertooths! #24: "Passing the Time"

Drew Nilium pwerdna at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 09:52:04 PST 2020

#24: "Passing the Time"
A tale of difficult but necessary things, by Drew Nilium


The Crime Empress watched the stream of data coming in from the Vector-troll-
sheep - until all at once it cut off.

Her brows furrowed. She flicked from frequency to frequency, but they'd all
gone dark at once. Her eyes in Net.ropolis were gone, and with them, any
knowledge of what the East Coast Brotherhood of Net.Villains was doing. "Damn."

"My Queen?" said Lucy, looking up from her tablet.

The Crime Empress stood up. "I've underestimated Ole Scratch, it seems. Our
timetable's been moved up - we need to dispatch a team to Net.ropolis,
immediately, and--" She stopped.

No. Of course. That's exactly what the East Coast Brotherhood wanted - for her
to act in haste, show her hand. And the fact that they were trying to force it
showed that their agent in the West Coast Brotherhood's ranks didn't know what
her true plans were.

"Cancel that," said the Empress, sitting back down. The Vector-troll-sheep were
useful, but not indispensable. She would stick to her timeline-- no, even
better. She would adapt her timeline using the best intelligence she could
gather. "Activate our Net.ropolis agent, and have them survey the situation.
Keep the asterisk.gate on standby, and have agents..." She considered.
"Plotchopper, Gracemora, OTP, Crossplay King, Captain Coredump and Revamp Lass
come to the main base. Have them rendezvous with Anti-Christ Lad. Maintain
social distance, and proceed to separate ready rooms near the gate. Be ready to
depart on my mark." She rubbed her chin. "Send Professor Perhap the sheep
monitor logs, see if he can piece together what happened to them."

"Yes, my Queen," said Lucy, sending orders with flicks of her finger. "What
about Far.net.heit 451, Phoenix Down and Demented Designer?"

"They're our wildcards, and I'm not playing them until the time is right. Have
them stay in place, but be on alert for further messages." The Crime Empress
had every piece in this game at her fingertips. And she was not going to be


"...and so that's why I thought I should ask you for a giant robot!" said
Merissa, eyes shining.

Toony Stork's eyebrows were up and the left side of his mouth pushed sharply
into his cheek. She considered him the grandfather to all Vectors!? Apparently
the Time Crapper had, too. It was a hell of a role to suddenly be asked to
assume. And Captain LNH was alive, on top of all that?!

"That's... *well*." He looked around, found a chair, sat down. "I uh... *wow*."

Merissa laughed and bumped her chest with her fist. "Yeah, that's always what
people say when they meet me."

Toony snorted, and couldn't help but smile. "Got no problem with the ego, huh?"

"If I hid how cool I was, even for a minute, that'd be a minute wasted that
could be spent basking in my sheer awesomeness!" She spread her arms and raised
her chin, grinning.

God. Someone *that* self-involved *had* to be related to him. But he was s
tarting to warm to it - somehow, the things he hated about himself were harmless
and fun on her.

Well. He'd wanted to help, right? And it seemed like they had some kind of
giant monster problem anyway. Might as well give it a try. "Hmmmmm. I've never
built... no, I've never *finished* a giant robot before."

"But you started one?" :D

"Yes, one that I tinkered with a number of times over the years but never got
it in a state I liked." He looked off into the distance, remembering. "But it's
not going to be easy to get to. Before I left the LNH, I buried it where no one
would ever find it."

"Was that on Sub-Basement 58.5, with the computer with all your old memories?"
said Merissa.

"No - below even that!" Toony stood, and pointed off into the distance. "We
must journey to... SUB-BASEMENT FIFTY-NINE!"

"Heck yeah!!"


The sun had set, and Nina had returned to her room, after spending a few hours
meditating with her very special, very tired guest. It looked like she wasn't
the only one here with an extra-secret secret identity. Well, she hoped it'd
helped clear the kiwi's head - it certainly had helped clear hers.

She'd been holding part of herself back. She'd thought of herself as a
placeholder in the role of Ultimate Ninja, going thru the motions of someone
else's identity. But Cheesecake-Eater Lad was right. She couldn't wait to be
her own person.

It was time to create herself - her own Ultimate Ninja!


Masterplan Lad sat atop the Net.ropolis Bandshell, next to Chaos Theory, under
a lovely moon. It was duty, but it was also quite pleasant.

And then Chaos Theory did something Masterplan Lad had never seen in all their
encounters; they sighed.

"Is something the matter?" said Masterplan Lad.

The fractals that made up Chaos Theory's body shifted as they stared eyelessly
off into the distance. "You can see what's happening in the Real World, right?"

Masterplan Lad closed his eyes, feeling the tension on the threads of narrative.
"The election has happened... but it's not done yet. Well, that makes sense -
it's very much a modern thing to be able to call a Presidential election on the
night it happens; the Bush/Gore election of 2000 took a month to resolve. But I
can see why it would be putting additional stress on the Writers."

Chaos Theory nodded. "But it's not just that." They sat back, looked up at the
moon and stars, at the comforting blanket of vacuum between them. "Bush/Gore
took so long because it was so close. This one's close, too."

Masterplan Lad thought about that, and who was involved in this one... "Ah."

Chaos Theory nodded once more. "Yeah. The Writers didn't make Neme.sys a cosmic
horror for the fun of it. They were struggling with the weight of being
betrayed, not just by the grand grinding system, but by the people of their
country, by the idea that *so* many people would choose someone *so* awful. And
that took so much to work thru, and now, the idea that, with so much more
evidence, just as many people or even more would do it again..." They shook
their head. "Even for a being like myself, who represents parts of the Writers
above and beyond their own consciousness, it's hard not to feel that betrayal
in every keystroke, in every slowly stretching moment between stories."

Masterplan Lad thought about that, and fiddled with his umbrella. "...I must
say, that's terribly depressing."

Chaos Theory chuckled and put their arm around him. "Yeah. Got any more of
those speeches about the purpose of stories tucked away in there, sweetie?"

"Not that'd be applicable here, no." He leaned up against them, and took a deep
breath, and thought.

He took his time thinking, and enjoying Chaos Theory's presence and touch. It
was such a nice night... hm...

Masterplan Lad sat up, put his hands on his Plot Device, and let his thoughts
flow. "There are several intellectual angles you could come at it from. You
could point to Florida, where a $15/hour minimum wage passed by a huge margin
despite the state voting for Trump, indicating that the true problem is
citizens' disconnect from taking direct action. You could note the massive
voter suppression going on, creating far more Republican wins than there would
be otherwise. You could point to the incumbent effect, or the problems of
Biden, or a number of other factors."

"But?" said Chaos Theory, sitting back and enjoying the moment.

"But. That might satisfy the intellect, but would be unlikely to satisfy the
emotions. So perhaps the best explanation is simply that..." He looked into
Chaos Theory's face(?). "People are foolish, a large amount of the time. But t
hey do not have to be. Even someone so foolish as to be part of a repressive
movement driven by fear can let go of those fears and become a better person."

Chaos Theory laughed and kissed him on the forehead. "I wouldn't say the
Knights Temporal were so obviously bad as this."

Masterplan Lad's frontal lobes tingled pleasantly. "No. And I know there are
certainly a number of those people out there who will not become better. But,
as a representative of heroic narrative, we must believe that becoming better
is possible, and worth striving for." He took a deep breath and deflated a bit.
"Or somesuch. I think I'm about tapped out in terms of inspiring words - this
truly is a depressing situation."

"That's all right, dear." Chaos Theory rubbed his shoulder, and he sighed.
"That was rather optimistic of you."

"Blame the current Writer, they're a dreadful Pollyanna." Masterplan Lad
snuggled against Chaos Theory and looked up at the stars. "Nevertheless... it's
something that, at the very least, I'd like to believe is true."

"Well, that's one of the things stories are for, right?" They snuggled close to
him, against the cool of the night. "To remind us why we might have faith."

Masterplan Lad relaxed as best he could. "Yes... in ourselves, and the stars."


Drew "relevance!" Nilium

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