LNH/LUNA/ACRA: The Liminals #6: Bondage and Determination, part 2 [part 1]

Jeanne Morningstar 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?

"Frankie Valli."


"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 
bizarre situation.

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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