LNH/LUNA/ACRA: The Liminals #6: Bondage and Determination, part 2 [part 1]
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 14 14:39:39 PST 2020
#6: "Bondage and Determination, part 2"
A Classic LNH/Lunaverse tale of trans lesbianism and larceny by Jeanne
Masterplan Lad, guardian of the narrative; Victoria Arden--Forsaken
Lass, survivor of Limbo; Alice Ashdown--Net.Access, champion of
crossovers; and Manga Girl, 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 was still bound and gagged in a closet. He was frustrated
both that he was still tied up and that this story had ballooned into
two issues, meaning that #4 and #5 were both "part one."
Once again, he moved back along the lines of the narrative that bound him...
Masterplan Lad sat at Maria's table and ate the scrambled eggs she made,
while the ostrich sat beside them and gobbled up ostrich food from the
bowl. Maria had to move some of the piles of books that sprouted from
every surface like mushrooms so MPL could sit down and eat. He wondered
how on earth the ostrich ever got around.
There were plenty of questions buzzing around in his head like flies. He
struggled to focus, to figure out where to even start with the strange
new situation he was in.
"Hiya!" said Maria. This was something like an hour after they'd both
woken up. "Did you sleep OK?"
"I suppose so," he said, sipping the tea he drank religiously. "So
...what were you doing at the apartment yesterday morning?"
"What were *you* doing?" said Maria, though a mouthful of food.
"I was searching for an interdimensional flow that might lead into the
Library. I... was wondering about that apartment. It seemed rather...
"Ah, yeah. See, I'm in a bit of a fix," said Maria. "I made a deal with
the Wizard Mafia."
"Oh dear." This was a new narrative element, but all the context and
history for it snapped into being around Masterplan Lad as if it had
always been there. He could immediately tell it couldn't mean anything good.
"I've kind of. I've been known to make some bad decisions in my life.
One or two." She laughed. "I've been working for Luigi Virgilio, one of
the big men in the Wizard Mafia in this city, providing... multiple
kinds of services. Sex work and hex work."
Masterplan Lad nodded.
"I mean, there's three things transfeminine people are associated with
in many different contexts through time and space: sex work, magic, and
art. And Trenchcoaters do sex work all the time. You really think John
Constantine got enough money to travel around the world in spite of
being working class by selling artifacts? Nope. He was getting fucked in
the ass by rich self-hating Tories while he was fighting their occult
conspiracies and stuff."
She took a deep breath. "I'm not exactly happy working with Vergilio
but... he got me out of Hell. Literally. I was kind of hoping that you
could do me a favor too. That maybe you could help me get out."
"I see," said Masterplan Lad. "You could have told me about that."
"Well, yeah," said Maria, "but you obviously had other stuff on your
mind last night." They both laughed.
He should have been angry at Maria for drawing him into this situation,
but protecting people and helping them achieve narrative catharsis was
what he was for. In spite of barely knowing her, he felt a certain
responsibility for her already.
"What a situation we're in," he said.
"This is the life of illusion," quoted Maria, "wrapped up in trouble,
laced with confusion."
"Indeed," said Masterplan Lad. "Who said that?
"Well, Barry Gibb wrote the song."
"Ah, yes, the Bee Gees. So do you know what it would take to get you
free from the Wizard Mafia?"
"Well, Luigi Vergilio has an enchanted thousand-dollar bill that has a
piece of my soul in it. He keeps it locked up in a safe at all times. If
we can steal it back, I can be free."
"That certainly sounds like a metaphor."
"Yeah, well that's what magic is, right?"
"And you're not worried about the Wizard Mafia coming back for you after
Maria shook her head. "I can just reshuffle the narrative to move my
apartment to a different part of the city if need be. I've done that a
bunch of times."
Masterplan Lad nodded. "Then it's settled. I'll help you get it back and
you can help Victoria."
"OK, so. Let's plan. Honestly I'm kind of glad I have you around for
this.," said Maria. "I'm not, like, very much of a planner. I'm really
more of an improviser."
Masteprlan Lad should have been confident. Plotting things was what he
understood the best. But he had to admit, this was not the kind of genre
he was used to being in.
The truth was, even as a narratively aware semi-cosmic being, Masterplan
Lad was much better at looking like he knew what he was doing than
actually knowing it. His sense of narrative awareness was very
on-and-off. "Hmm," he said.
Maria took out a yellow legal pad and started doodling on it. "What are
you doing?" said Masterplan Lad, standing up and looking over her shoulder.
"I'm brainstorming," she said. "I'm just like, writing down all the
stuff that's in my head." He looked at what was written on the legal
pad. It was the word "Farts," underlined twice.
"I'm not sure that's very useful," he said.
"Yeah, it usually takes a while to get the good ideas. But OK. You
scoped out the apartment already, right?"
"Yes I did. I examined the narrative flow around it. I was looking for a
potential interdimensional vector but..." He frowned, scrunched up his
face and felt himself shifting back to that scene for a moment. "I could
tell there was an aura of violence and catastrophe surrounding that room."
"Oh boy." Maria tapped her pencil on the pad in glee.
"And... we could make use of that," he said. "Accelerate all the
potential narrative tensions that surround that room to allow violence
to break out, and then we could take the money."
"Oh, that's good." Maria put down the pencil and pad and brushed her
fingers against his shoulder. Masterplan Lad thought about what happened
last night and felt an urge or two, but ignored them.
He looked around the room, trying to focus himself. Facing him on the
bookshelf on the other side of the table was a stack of books by Leslie
Feinberg. At the end of the shelf was another famous piece of queer
history, Robert Mapplethorpe's photograph of the young Eric Morava,
propped up by an antiquated leatherbound book of Philo of Alt.exandria.
"Okay!" said Maria. "So we'll go and steal the cursed money. But first,
I'll paint my nails."
"Of course." He stood by, watching her apply the sparkly pink to her
nails in quiet fascination and an odd twinge of longing.
"So," she said, "do you want me to paint your nails too?"
"Er... why are you asking?"
Maria shrugged exaggeratedly. "Just a thought."
"Well..." The obvious thing to say was 'no', but for some reason
Masterplan Lad couldn't quite do it. "Not just yet."
"OK." She hooked her arm around MPL's and led him downstairs. She opened
the car door and let the ostrich flop into the back seat. "Now," she
said as she led MPL into the car, "what kind of music do you like?"
He sat down beside her. "I'm not sure I can describe my music taste
"What's your favorite band."
"Genesis. Primarily the Peter Gabriel era, although the pre-1980s Phil
Collins albums are acceptable."
"Oh boy. Well. Let me expand your musical horizons a bit." She put in a
CD of something called Fugazi. MPL supposed he'd get used to it.
She drove him down through downtown Net.ropolis. (MPL knew with absolute
certainty that he was someone who should never be allowed at the wheel
of a car.) He slowly felt his thoughts drift away from the overwhelming
presence of Maria and the danger ahead of them and start focusing in on
the bigger-scale worries he'd held off by jumping headfirst into this
He wasn't sure he was able to properly direct the plot and the flow of
story as well as he used to. Ever since he left the Knights Temporal,
and his mind and body started reshaping themselves, he'd felt himself
having more and more trouble concentrating. Not having a clear structure
to work form, he found his mind and attention jumping around more and
more. He was at a very strange, fraught point in his life, which wasn't
helping. He had at least a feeling of some of the things that were
coming, the ways he and his life would change, and he wanted to know and
experience them right now. Even the things that were difficult and
painful, he wanted to face down now instead of having the anxiety
hanging over him for months or years. But the whole narrative structure
he was part of, the structure that he'd helped build and deeply invested
himself in, was keeping him from doing it.
On the other hand... maybe he was worrying too much. He thought about
the past issues, how some of the best writing had come from the writer
just taking a feeling and running with it. Maybe that was what he needed
to do more. Maybe, to really control the narrative, in some sense, he
had to submit to it.
He watched the buildings rushing by. On a wall, someone had spraypainted
graffiti that said "U R MR GAY."
"Hmmm, I suppose I am, at that," said Masterplan Lad to the graffiti.
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