LNH/LUNA: The Liminals #7: Motivationquest part 2: The Big Burnout

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 23 08:13:24 PST 2020

#7 (of ?): "Motivationquest part 2: The Big Burnout"
A tale of [I'll get around to writing this blurb later] 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!


"So wait," said Manga Girl, "do you mean our writer is going to 
*literally* explode?"

"I'm afraid so," said Masterplan Lad. The reaction to issue four's 
cliffhanger took him a moment to catch up to, since that had been a 
while ago now, relatively speaking.


"That sounds... really rad but also kind of terrifying!"

MPL nodded.

"But we needn't worry too much. I know just who to call. She should be 
joining the meeting any moment now."

"And then what?"

"And then we'll go to the Real World, or at least Real World Minus One, 
to encounter our writer. I assume," said Masterplan Lad.

"Welp," said Alice. "We've met them before, right?"

"Yes, in issue 3.5," said Masterplan Lad. "But that was more of a comedy 
omake issue. I imagine this will be more emotional and dramatic."

Victoria shifted. "What is it?" said Alice.

"Well, I was really hoping I could be spending time with Doug in his 
mech anime RPG campaign thing. [Doug being the friend who MPL and Alice 
had met in Just Another Cascade Freindgame--ed.] I just..."


"It's a lot harder for me to make friends with people than it is for 
you. I worry that without you people don't actually want me around."

"That is so not true," said Alice. "I mean, obviously, we all do here."

"Yeah!" said Manga Girl.

Just then, a new person popped up on the meeting screen. She waved 
wildly at the camera. Her apartment, stuffed full of books and occult 
materials (including the stuffed ceiling crocodile she'd ganked from the 
Wizard Mafia's headquarters, stuffing it into the magic money sack while 
no one was looking), was a sharp contrast to the others' LNH quarters.

"Hi. I'm Maria," she said. The ostrich leaned in from behind her and 
looked distrustfully at the screen. "And that's my familiar, Sunny. I 
used my magic to hack into the LNH comm system. Neat, huh?"

"Wow!" Manga Girl grinned. "She's really cool."

"Yeah..." Victoria's eyes were wide. "Yeah, she... really, really is."

Alice frowned.

Masterplan Lad looked at how the two reacted and tapped his umbrella. He 
knew that Alice was someone who strongly identify herself with the role 
of The Hero so she was always a bit on edge around antihero types. He 
also knew his writer wasn't particularly fond of love triangles, but 
Morrison's New X-Men was one of their favorite comics runs.

"So I hear you've got a problem," said Maria.

"That's one way of putting it," said Victoria. "Our writer is going to 

"Oh," said Maria. "Ouch." Masterplan Lad explained the situation to her, 
thankful the writer didn't feel the need to summarize the plot yet again.

"Mmm," said Maria. "OK, creating a ritual to meet the Writer. Cool, I 
can do that. Does everybody have a candle?"

The meeting came to a halt for a bit while everyone rummaged around for 
candles. Masterplan Lad grimaced while he used his narrative-shaping 
powers to ensure that everyone had one lying around. Victoria's was a 
very aesthetic black candle, Manga Girl's was a sparkly purple-pink one, 
Masterplan Lad's was a plain white long tapered church candle, and 
Alice's was a green Mister Paprika-flavored candle. "Where did this even 
come from?" she asked.

"Wait!" Manga Girl gestured and pointed sharply into the air. "Maria, I 
have a question."


"What do you think of Victoria so far? She was was having a depressive 
episode and she was wondering if anyone really wanted her around..."

Maria smiled widely. "I totally do," she said.

Victoria smiled back, a little nervous, her eyes looking to the side. 
"Thanks. But we just met like half a minute ago." She threw up her hands.

"I have a feeling." She looked in at Victoria's black painted nails. "I 
like your nail polish."

"Thanks, I like yours too," she said, looking at Maria's sparkly pink 
nails. (Her movements were extremely animated, and she was always waving 
her hands at the screen.) Maria reached out as if to touch her hand but 
she was, of course, talking with her on a laptop. Alice smiled a 
slightly forced smile.

"OK,' said Maria. "So I just wanna make sure I have your civilian names 
straight. Helps with the magic. You're... David--for now, anyway--Alice, 
Victoria and... So what's your civilian name, anyway, Manga Girl? Do you 
have one?"

"Sakura," said Manga Girl, without missing a beat. "Sakura Mangas."

Victoria blinked. "Wait, really?"

"Yep. Mangas is a greek name, and my moms are Greek. And it's a valid 
Homestuck troll name!"

"Oh. Oh no," said Masterplan Lad.

Manga Girl cackled. "Oh *yes*." Maria laughed and clapped her hands.

"I mean," said Victoria, "honestly I'm in favor of people calling 
themselves whatever they want but... Will you still want to be called 
that in ten years?"

"Well, if I don't..." Manga Girl thrust her fist up in the air. "I'll 
just change my name again!"

Victoria nodded. She looked away, at the wall of her quarters. "I wish I 
could remember why I picked this name."

"You don't remember?" said Maria.

"I... don't remember. That's all gone. That's what I'm trying to fix. You?"

"Well, I was raised Catholic." Maria shrugged exaggeratedly.

"I suppose that explains the candles," said Masterplan Lad.

"Yep! If there's three things queers who grew up Catholic love, it's 
candles, guilt and being slutty."

  "What do we actually need the candles for?" said Alice.

"Drama," said Maria. "That's literally how magic works, lol."

"Did you just say 'lol' out loud?" said Alice.

"Lmfao," said Maria.

"People," said Manga Girl, "I know we're all feeling quarantense--tense 
from being in quarantine, that's a word I just coined--but we need to 
stay on focus so our writer doesn't literally explode! That's pretty 
scary but also fun to say."

Alice nodded. "I'm sorry. I'm just a bit worried--well, trenchcoater 
magical rituals do kind of have a reputation. I want to be sure none of 
us will be set on fire."

"I mean... probably?" said Maria. "Magic's dangerous, that's just the 
way it is. But this should be pretty safe. I mean, I can't say what's 
going to happen after we get there..."

Masterplan Lad nodded. "I can vouch for her efficacy as a thaumaturge. 
And of course I'm using my own powers to stabilize her magic. 
Trenchcoater magic has been known to result in the deaths of the people 
involved as a result of the Drama it relies on, but since none of us are 
background characters who haven't appeared in decades, or old friends 
who were introduced out of nowhere for this story, we should be fine."

"All right," said Maria. "Now everyone, look at the candle flame in 
front of you, and repeat after me. Eko eko eko, wossamotta u!"

"Eko eko eko, wossamotta u!" they repeated, each watching the dancing 
candle flames in front of them. And then before they knew it, they were 
on the other side.

The place was mundane enough, but everything here seemed strangely, 
disorientingly solid. The ostrich weaved their head around and chirped, 
trying to figure out what was going on.

Their Writer was there, lying fast asleep on the couch after writing 
some and procrastinating quite a lot.

"Oh, er," said Masterplan Lad. "What are we supposed to do?"

"Hmm, maybe you should kiss them," said Manga Girl.

"What? This isn't Writer's Block Person."

"Too bad, that series owns," said Manga GIrl. "OK." She bent over and 
whispered in their ear: "Covered in scorpions~ *Covered in scorpions~*"

"Gaaah! Covered in scorpions!" The Writer woke up hastily from their 
sleep. They looked up and rubbed their eyes. "Oh no. Either i'm still 
asleep, or I'm in an even worse mental state than I thought or... I'm in 
an LNH story again, aren't I." Jeanne took a deep breath. "Then again, I 
don't know why I'm surprised you showed up here when I planned this out 
a while ago. I guess I'm mainly surprised I actually wrote it."

"So you're our writer, huh," said Maria.

"Yeah..." said Jeanne, sighing and burying their head in their hands. 
"Yeah. Sorry about... everything, I guess."

No one really knew what to say. It was Manga Girl who spoke first. "Do 
you know what happened to Ultimate Mercenary?" said Manga Girl.

"He's dead."

"What?" Anger and power blazed around her.

"I mean, it's a little more complicated than that. It always is. 
Basically, his story was always meant to end that way ever since Tom 
came up with him in the 90s. I tried to come up with the best and most 
unexpected version of that ending, which... well, that's another one 
I'll write later, once JI is done. But essentially, his story is over. 
All I can say right now is in the end he did find some happiness."

Victoria, Masterplan Lad, Manga GIrl, and Alice, all people who'd fought 
beside him, were silent. They were stunned, but maybe not surprised. 
Maria, who came in late, had no idea what to say. The ostrich squawked, 
staring fiercely was Jeanne and ready to strike at any moment.

"So when *is* Just Imagine going to be done?" said Alice, after a moment.

"I'm working on it, OK? Like right now. When Drew and I are took a break 
from HHS, we looked over what we've got of JI, and we are really 
enjoying working on stuff together so we'll keep working on that 
whenever HHS is over. Which will be soon. Really."

"Really?" said Victoria.


Victoria stepped forward. "When are you going to finish *my* story?" she 
said. "When do I get to figure out who the hell I am?"

"Shit, I don't know," said Jeanne. They laughed hollowly. "TBQH, it's a 
miracle I wrote anything this year at all. I've had to deal with 
finishing my dissertation and then before I could really recover from 
that, the pandemic happened... I had this huge burst of creativity but 
it's mostly gone now."

"So you're going to just let me keep suffering like this with no way 
out?" Her eyes briefly flashed blank, and she gripped the hilt of her 
sword. "Are you every going to fix that or will my story be dropped just 
like Ultimate Mercenary's was?"

Manga Girl touched her shoulder. "Uh," said Manga Girl. "I know you have 
a lot of good reason to be angry right now, and I am too, but if you hit 
them with your Limbo Stick, we're kind of all going to die."

Alice put her arm around Victoria. Victoria stepped back and sighed. 
"You're right, you're right. God. What a situation."

"You're telling me," said Jeanne.

Masteprlan Lad stared quietly. He was gripped by awe and fear and 
uncertainty. Even though he knew, he was shocked to see that the Writer 
was a person just like himself, with the same kind of uncertainty and 

"Why did you do this? Why did you give us all this pain, suffering and 
frustration? Why do you keep abandoning us and leaving us behind for 
long periods?"

"Fuck," said Jeanne. "I mean, the thing is that I have to work with what 
I've been given. When I created you, I used bits of my life, things I've 
been through and things I've suffered. That's why it's hard to write 
about you all sometimes, and that's why I keep coming back in the end. I 
guess working through all that is something we've all done together. 
When I started Ultimate Mercenary, almost, Jesus Christ, 20 years ago, I 
had no idea any of you would turn into what you did, or that I would 
turn into what I did. Looking back at Ultimate Mercenary V1, all the 
trans gay elements are super obvious. I have no idea how I ever thought 
I was cis."

They looked at Victoria. "You were the part of me that was obviously an 
extremely gay trans girl from the beginning. You pushed back at the 
story I wanted to tell and defined your own narrative. A narrative 
defined by emotional vulnerability, desire and fear, by loss and trauma 
and building something new on the foundation of that." Victoria nodded 

They looked at MPL. "You were the character I created to express my 
philosophy on storytelling and life, but you were uncomfortable with who 
and what you were since the very beginning. You redefined yourself and 
created a new understanding of yourself and your role as I did." MPL 
looked down at their umbrella.

They looked at Manga Girl. "You were a character I introduced just when 
was figuring out I was trans. You represent joy and euphoria and 
imagination, the wonder of self-discovery, the passion and gleeful 
excess of desire."

"Hell yeah I do!" She fist-pumped.

"You, Maria, represent new ideas that I'm just now learning to deal 
with, things that intrigue and frustrate me about queer communities I've 
interacted with, feelings about being trans I'm just starting to process. "

"Cool, cool," said Maria. The ostrich chirped.

"And you--" they turned to Net.Access.

She smiled and shook her head. "I'm a Saxon Brenton character who showed 
up in your stories as a weird continuity point. You don't have to make a 
big speech about me. I mean, thanks for saying all that, but we came 
here for a reason--to figure out how to keep you from blowing up."

"Ah, that Brentonian practicality. Well. The thing is I had this 
ridiculous rush of motivation that started like a bit over a month ago, 
when Drew finished WikiLull. I feel like that unlocked all the creative 
energy that I was holding back for years and years and then I wrote more 
in a couple weeks than I did in the whole year previously. But once I 
had to put my part of the story on pause to work out certain characters 
and plotlines, I got hit by all the feelings of depression and anxiety 
that I was putting off, and now I'm starting to crash--just like I said 
I would. So I'm probably going to explode." Jeanne shrugged.

"No you won't! We'll figure out how to stop it," said Alice.

"Yeah, well," said Jeanne. "There's a bigger problem here. When I was 
working on my dissertation, I was being haunted by the Dissertation 
Demon, which was ruining my life. [remember Liminals #3.5?] I had to 
make a deal with an even greater demonic power to defeat it. So I 
summoned the demon Calceus in order to finish the dissertation--you know 
him as the Shoe Devil. I sold him my motivation."

They gasped. The heroes who'd fought in Just Imagine remembered 
Bluetooth and Firewire mentioning him. (Jeanne hoped they'd find a way 
to work that into the story.)

Jeanne pointed at a big green counter floating above their head, which 
the net.heroes had all missed previously somehow. "When that counter 
comes down to zero, I will burn out and go to Net.Hell," they said. "And 
with all the writing I've been doing, it's just about there. It's weird. 
I've never had a series I wrote on my own that got past issue 7. Will 
there even *be* a next issue? Well, just gotta ride this out to the end, 
I guess." There was the sound of typing in the background--Jeanne 
writing the issue, while also being in it, somehow. There was a loud, 
harsh buzz as the counter reached zero. And then...


Next: The end of Motivationquest! Some things are resolved, maybe.


The counter: based on the power countdown indicator Al Simmons had in 
early issues of Spawn.

Net: Access was created by Saxon Brenton. Manga Girl was created by 
Jeanne Morningstar after Tom Russell. Bluetooth was created by Arthur 
Spitzer and Jamie Rosen. The Shoe Devil and Firewire were created by 
Drew Nilium. Everyone else is mine.

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