LNH: The Liminals #4: The Quest for Motivation, Part 1

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sun Oct 18 09:05:13 PDT 2020

#4: "The Quest for Motivation, Part 1: Zoom In"
A Hungry, Hungry Sabertooths gaiden game by Jeanne Morningstar

Continuity note: This takes place a little before the end of Hungry, 
Hungry Sabertooths! #8 *Masterplan Lad sweats as the continuity jenga 
tower stays in place*


So, there was another crossover going on. That was fine. Alice Ashdown 
was used to those. In fact, as Net.Access, the Champion of Crossovers, 
her whole purpose in life was to deal with those, and especially the 
kind that involved interdimensional travel. With the recent discovery 
and of the Deep Omnilooniverse, she should have been at the forefront of 
exploring it. It seemed to be pretty integral to the structure of this 
storyline. (There was even some evil version of Carolyn Forge from an 
alternate universe on one of the Brotherhoods, calling herself Dr. 
Killfile II; she could easily come from the Deep Omnilooniverse.) And, 
following the structure of the last couple issues, Alice was due for a 
character spotlight.

So why hadn't any of that happened?

One thing Alice usually didn't have any problem with was a sense of 
purpose. She knew what she had to do and she did it--whether it was 
battling cosmic evils or making out with her girlfriend. Right now, she 
was feeling a little stalled because she was in quarantine thanks to a 
disease that was turning LNHers into sabertooth tigers, the crossover's 
starting conceit, so neither the making-out nor the adventure was really 
on the table for her.

But why was she in quarantine? Why hadn't she been on the Omnilooniveral 
expedition--especially with her power set meaning she had a much better 
chance of navigating the Deep Omnilooniverse ?

To be fair, the storyline which established that had wrapped up only 
just before the new one started, meaning even though the first couple 
issues of Liminals were after that on the timeline, they didn't really 
interact with a whole bunch of plot and character developments which 
should have had a huge impact. That was the way of crossovers and, 
again, she was used to it. But...

"So how are you doing?" she said, talking to Masterplan Lad on her 
laptop. Right now, Victoria was taking a depression nap, and Manga Girl 
was busy drawing.

"Well, the quarantine itself isn't difficult for me. I've been in 
isolation before. I once had to wait for six years in an 
interdimensional void while waiting for my Writer to finish their 
storyline, and I was aware of every moment of it. [Ultimate Mercenary 
#6] Frankly, being alone for long periods can be refreshing. The problem 
is... there's a crossover going on. I know that's more congenial to you 
than it is to me. You see, I have to worry about narrative coherence. 
There's already been a few questionable moments--primarily on my 
Writer's part, due to writing at such a ridiculous speed to compensate 
for having not written anything for ages."

Alice nodded. "I noticed the whole not writing anything for ages thing. 
Like, the last issue was setting up Retcon Year--that was a story they'd 
spent a lot of effort planning and developing, and it was pretty well 
liked--and then it just kind of vanished after two issues."

"Well I certainly hope they can keep this new streak going before it 
gets as bad as last time," said Masterplan Lad. He twitched. For someone 
who was metafictionally aware as Masterplan Lad was, the idea of being 
stuck in Limbo without a meaningful narrative conclusion would be 
absolute hell. Alice shuddered.

She looked away from the screen to a moment to her Xena posters and 
action figures. She'd picked up a lot of it in a college student in Dave 
Thomas Deluxe University, majoring in comparative literature, before 
she'd been granted powers in a confusing cosmic catastrophe, left the 
canon, returned to the canon much later, fought her way out of the 
Crossover Queen's citadel with her new teammates, saved the 
Omnilooniverse and met and fell hopelessly in love with Victoria Arden. 
[These tales are told in the Kid Not Appearing in Any Retcon Hour Story 
miniseries, Ultimate Mercenary V1, and the yet-unfinished Just 
Imagine--Footnote Girl]

Having been dropped back in the canon after dropping out in 1997, she'd 
missed a lot culturally, including many more instances of sapphic media 
she was now desperately trying to catch up on. If she'd had more when 
she was from, she might have realized what her deal was a bit earlier. 
That said, Xena certainly helped, and it explained why she turned out 
the way she did on many, many levels.

"How's Victoria doing?"

Masterplan Lad shook his head. "She's... not handling this well. As you 
can imagine, isolation is not good for her."

Alice nodded. She said nothing. "Yeah. She's been... Hard to talk to 
sometimes, lately. I'm trying."

Masterplan Lad nodded.

"God I just wish her depression were some kind of monster so I could 
punch it away."

"Her depression does appear to be this sort of eldritch entity which I 
suppose we'll fight at some point," said Masterplan Lad.

"It is. But it's also just regular depression. That's how superhero 
stories work. Anyway, I don't know what to do--she's wonderful and I 
love her and I keep telling her that, of course, but it just... never 
gets through."

Masterplan Lad nodded yet again. "You have to be patient. You being 
there for her does make a difference even if it doesn't seem like it does."

"God, I hope so."

By now the other two had come online.

They saw Victoria sitting alone in her room. She was sitting on her bed 
with her arms drawn up around her knees.

"Are you OK?" said Alice.

Victoria shook her head. "I've been sleeping for, like, a week, and I'm 
tired. I just... don't know how I'm going to make it through this."

"You totally will," said Manga Girl, who was still scribbling away at 
one of her drawings. She never seemed to stop.

Victoria shook her head. She seemed to be physically, flickering and 
fading away.

"I sometimes feel like... you deserve better than me," she said to Alice.

"No," said Alice, as definitely as she could. "You are the best. You are."

"You are!" said Manga Girl.

"You're a remarkable person and I'm proud to consider you a friend," 
said Masterplan Lad.

Victoria smiled weakly. "Thanks, folks. I know you all mean that. It's 
just, sometimes I don't feel like I really live up to the way you see me."

All at once the other three noticed the massive pile of drawings in 
Manga Girl's room.

"Wow," said Victoria.

"That's... quite a lot," said Masterplan Lad.

"Yeah, I've basically been drawing nonstop since all this started. It's 

"Are you sure all that is healthy?" said Victoria.

"Yes." She looked at them, glaring with bloodshot eyes. "*I'm sure.*"

"Yikes, okay, okay," said Victoria.

"OK," resumed Alice. There's gotta be something we can do for fun, Vic. 
Let's see. I just got a request from Obscure Trivia Lad asking if he 
wanted to play Trivial Pursuit. I mean, we're probably going to lose, 
even if there's questions about Xena, but we will kick his ass someday."

Obscure Trivia Lad, Alice had found out found out, had died and come 
back when she was away. He was killed off in a previous big crossover 
and came back--for reasons no one was quite sure why--around the same 
time the Brotherhood of Net.Villains had split, one of the things that 
laid the foundation for the current mess.. [LNH v2 #41] Even when she 
was trying to distract her girlfriend from depressing and 
anxiety-inducing stuff, it was hard not to think about depressing and 
anxiety-inducing stuff herself.

Victoria shook her head. "My memory's been shredded by all this. Maybe 
later. I think I'll have to nap again."

"OK," said Alice. "Just remember in spirit I'm always with you."

Victoria laughed. "God, that sounds cheesy. But that's so you. OK, I'll 
remember that." She blew a kiss. Evidently they'd helped, a little. She 
and Manga GIrl logged off.

Before MPL could too, Alice asked him: "So, have you noticed something 

"You're going to have to narrow that down," he said.

"I'm just thinking like... We haven't actually been... doing anything. 
And there were been some pretty huge worldbuilding-y narrative 
developments at the end of WikiLull which should have affected us by now."

"Well, that's normal."

"I know, I know, the usual crossover chronology getting tangled, a side 
effect of how like, Writers all have their lives outside of this and 
don't get paid for it so we get stories that go unresolved for years. 
But--there's something else. Something that I kind of almost remember 
but not quite. Just sort of... digging into the back of the mind like 
a... toothpick. In my brain. That sounds awful."

"It does," said Masterplan Lad, "But I think I know what you mean." He 
focused his eyes, seeming to read some text on his screen..

"What are you looking at?" said Alice.

"Oh, just the LNH Timeline on the wiki. I'm trying to make sure 
everything at least seems like it fits together."

"The timeline. The timeline," said Alice. "There was something that came 
out recently, or, recently-ish. It--OK." She called up the Classic LNH 
Timeline herself, that marvel of continuity engineering, and pored over 
the recent years. "That's it. Bite-Size Tales of the LNH v20 #19, came 
out in 2018. In that issue, right, Library Lad figured out what and 
actually got ahold of a book that had some of Vic's history in it. And--"

"We've never looked at it," said Masterplan Lad. "We haven't done 
anything about any of that. Yes. Something is wrong."

After they'd both had a little time to recover, and Masterplan Lad had 
mulled things over, Alice sent out another call.

"Hey all," she said Alice. "This is an emergency team meeting. 
There's--problems. Beyond the big crossover-related ones."

Strangely, Victoria seemed energized by this. Giving them a smaller, 
more specific problem to focus on rather than the overwhelming 
omni-bullshit probably helped.

Masterplan Lad explained his findings and what was going on. Victoria 
and Manga Girl listened thoughtfully. (Manga Girl was still drawing, of 

"I believe," he said, "that something is actively stalling us. Sapping 
our motivation and cutting us off from our narrative agency."

"So," said Victoria, "is this... the same power that's affecting me? 
The... whatever that was."

Masterplan Lad shook his head. "No. I believe the fundamental problem 
here is our Writer. They're dealing with something more than a mere lack 
of motivation, something that feels artificial in nature. Like a great 
sucking void of motivation..."

Manga Girl started laughing out loud.

"What is it?" said Masterplan Lad.

"You said 'sucking,'" said Manga Girl. Victoria and Alice started 
giggling too.

"Oh. Yes. I suppose I did. But I was going to say--In the last week, 
this seems to have been startlingly reversed. There's been an enormous 
increase of activity following a long period of inactivity. Our Writer 
has written something on the order of thousands of words."

"That's good!" said Manga Girl. "Right?"

"I'm not sure," said Masterplan Lad.

"Why?" said Victoria.

"Because," he said, "our Writer is currently supercharged with creative 
energy due to the enormous pressures of the current moment. When they 
lose that, they could burn out worse than they did before. If we can't 
find a way to them to build a ongoing motivation in a sustainable way, 
our Writer is going to explode."

"...That's a metaphor, right?" said Alice.


"Oh. So what do we do now?" said Manga Girl."

"We call a trenchcoater."


Next: A jump back to the past. A new (but familiar) character is 
introduced, who will cause many complications to come.

Net.Access, Footnote Girl: Saxon Brenton
Obscure Trivia Lad: Brian Perler
Crossover Queen: Jeff "Drizzt" Barnes
Manga GIrl III, Dr. Killfile II: Jeanne Morningstar and Tom Russell
Forsaken Lass, Masterplan Lad: Jeanne Morningstar

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