LNH: Hungry, Hungry Sabertooths #31: "Put a Ring On It"

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 10:30:28 PST 2020

Issue #31: "Put a Ring On It"
A saga of swordsmanship and silliness by Jeanne Morningstar


Long before the LNH ever came into being, there was another long 
forgotten age of heroes, the Hypertextian Age. This was an age of magic, 
an age of monsters and cursed swords and heroes and heroines who didn't 
wear very much clothing. Erased from history by the disastrous 
experiments of its mages with retcotheric energy, but not fully, its 
curses, entities and artifacts survived into the present day even though 
it blatantly didn't fit into the archaeological record.

It was in this age where the Rings of Retcon and Continuity were born, 
and it was there they returned after a period of prolonged disuse in the 
present. Hither came Betamax, time travelling net.heroine from the far 
future of the present, sent by the fourth Time Crapper to a point in the 
far past of the present which made her from even farther in the future, 
to seek out the Rings.

Her quest had brought her here, to a battle in arena, naturally enough. 
Maryazu, the lovely Priestess of Continuity and Bearer of the Ring who 
had accompanied her on her journey, was tied to the altar, because sword 
and sorcery stories were like that.

Across from her was her opponent, the warlord Snyderwulf, wearing armor 
that had more spikes than Betamax had previously even thought possible. 
Once, he had been the chief playwright of Daemon City but the Emperor 
sent him into exile. Wandering the lands, he built up a fanatical cult 
who marauded all over the countryside. As the man who the emperor had 
appointed to replace Snyderwulf fled in disgrace, and the Emperor's 
power was threatened by the scandal, the Lords of Daemon City decided 
they had to appease the followers of Snyderwulf to avert further chaos 
and reinstated him.

Now they were fighting a duel to the death in the Daemon City Fanatic 
Dome. The various Daemons in the audience were cheering and howling for 
blood. It was worse than a Little League game.

"Recreant varlet!" shouted Snyderwulf, ranting and raving in a way where 
even Brian Blessed would ask him to tone it down a bit. "Even your 
strange weapons of the future cannot match the power of my magic sword 
Snydercutter, which has the power to make any story twice as long and 

"A magic sword, you say?" A compartment on the hip of Betamax's armor 
opened and she took out a plastic video tape. It held within itself the 
encoding pattern of a powerful weapon, a sword that cut retcotheric 
energy, which had been made for her by a sorcerer of the sorcery school 
that existed in her own potential future, the Lyceum of Net.Heirophants.

She put the video tape in a slot that opened up in her chest. "Betamode 
Engage: BETACUTTER!" she shouted. She swooshed her arms around while the 
opening credits of a sword and sorcery movie came above her. The light 
congealed into a blue magic sword and a more barbarian-y version of her 
armor which showed off her impressive arm muscles, which made Daemons of 
various genders in the audience swoon.

"Even with that weapon, you can never defeat me!" shouted Snyderwulf. "I 
have seen the strange era you come from and I will conquer it too! And I 
will not stop at Justice League! I will turn *every movie* into a Snyder 
cut! Citizen Kane will be eight hours long as have Charles Foster Kane 
wearing spiked armor!"

"We will see," said Betamax. "You know, it's strange. I doubt that 
people in five years will care very much about the Snyder Cut wars, and 
are certainly unlikely to get jokes about the DC Fandome. And yet, the 
LNH must occasionally return to its fundamental nature as topical 
superhero-based satire, from which it draws its strength."

"Enough meta!" said Snyderwulf. "Now is the time for blood!" He struck 
out at her with Snydercutter. Betamax answered him stroke for stroke. 
The battle expanded and contracted in time with each strike--growing 
longer as Snydercutter hit, and shorter as Betacutter hit. But in the 
end the audience got bored with how long the battle was, and the field 
of magic hanging in the air generated by the passions of the crowd 
turned against Snyderwulf. Betamax made one final stroke and split her 
enemy's sword in two.

Snydercutter crumbled to dust, and Betamax picked up the Ring of Retconn 
(the spelling often varied even within stories) that was held within it.

"You won," said Snyderwulf. He laughed. "Get it over with and kill me."

Betamax shook her head. "I do not believe in killing. I do not think it 
crosses some inherent ethical line of being a superhero--the moral 
principles the genre is built on are rather flimsy on examination. I 
just don't think it's very interesting." She cut the bonds that tied 
Maryazu to the altar, then sheathed her sword and her original armor 
returned. "Now I think I'll be going."

"Wait!" said Maryazu. She grabbed ahold of Betamax's hands, and Betamax 
instinctively retracted her helmet. "I just wanted to say... I'll miss 
you. I wish we could spend more time together, but alas, it is the 
destiny of sword and sorcery love interests to only last the one story."

"... love interests?" said Betamax. "Since when were we--"

"Remember all the time we spent walking around holding hands? Remember 
the time we were in the cave together, and er, huddled for warmth? And 
the other time?"

"...oh," said Betamax. "I see. Well... I am honored to have been your, 
er, love interest, Maryazu. I will think of you often." Taking the Ring 
of Continuity from her fingers, she kissed her gently on the cheek, put 
her helmet back up so no one noticed she was blushing.

And then she was once again in the present (the LNH's present, her past, 
Daemon City's future, the Lyceum of Net.Heirophants' further past, 
slightly ahead of the rest of the narrative at this point). She was at 
the point when EastDrill had risen out of the earth and the final battle 
had truly begun, in the cave where Captain Continuity lay dead.

"Hello, Betamax," said Time Crapper IV.

"It is finished," said Betamax to the ravishing redhead of retcons. "The 
Rings are mine. But before we move on, I have a question."

"Go on."

"Why are you doing this? It seems so far you have mostly aided the LNH, 
but I have never been sure of your motivations and frankly, I do not 
trust them."

Time Crapper IV laughed. "Well. As you know, I am a Vector, an instance 
of the living virus that was created by one of the world's greatest 
villains, wReamicus Maximus--"

"Who Captain Continuity faced in his greatest battle up until now 
[Retcon Hour Omega], ironically enough," said Betamax.

"--created from the brain patterns of one of its greatest heroes, 
Captain LNH. I was born from the same template that created one of the 
greatest villains of the new age, the Crime Empress, and one of its 
greatest heroes, Marissa. As for me, I am neither hero nor villain. I 
still do not know fully what I am, perhaps, but I want to understand. I 
want to understand why people become heroes and villains, why the same 
basic template can lead to extremes of good and evil. And so I have 
aided people on their quests to become both heroes and villains. I 
helped Carolyn Forge to become Doctor Killfile II, and now I am working 
to undo her plans--"

"Ironically enough," said Betamax.

"Excuse me. You're not Irony Man II anymore."

"I know." She smiled smugly under the armor.

"Ahem. There is a time coming when a new wave of creative energy will be 
unleashed, new heroes and villains will come into being. If the Legion 
survives. I will act to ensure it does, at least for now, and then..."

"Time will tell," Betamax Doctor-Who-quoted. "It always does."

"You know, here's some irony for you," said Time Crapper IV. "Captain 
Continuity, Doctor Killfile II, and you are all heirs to legacies that 
motivate you but are also sources of frustration and pain. You each seek 
to find ways to define yourselves even as you are still shaped by the past."

"As do all the Vectors, including you," said Betamax.


"I have one other question," said Betamax. "The last time we met, from 
my point of view, you said we were going to be married. Has that 
happened yet?"

"Oh! Er... no," said Time Crapper IV. Betamax wondered if she was 
blushing beneath her hood.

For a moment, they were both silent. Then Betamax handed Time Crapper 
the rings. She placed the Ring of Retcon on Captain Continuity's left 
hand and the Ring of Continuity on his right.

"Now what?" said Betamax.

The body of Captain Continuity rose off the ground, suspended in midiar. 
Magical energies danced and fought around him, casting light and shadow 
on his mask.

"Now," said Time Crapper IV, "we wait."

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