LNH20: Bite-Size Tales of the LNH v20 #25

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Jeanne Morningstar

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Mar 15, 2022, 3:43:32 PMMar 15
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BITE-SIZE TALES OF THE LNH V20
#25: "Devil on the Blockchain"
by Jeanne Morningstar

[Warning for gore--this is a Matt Wagner's Grendel pastiche, y'know]

====

It had all seemed so simple. Well, really it didn't, because he still
didn't really understand how the hell NFTs were supposed to work. He
knew, though, that whenever anybody talked about them, they mentioned
money. Big money. He knew that NFTs were sketchy as hell and tied to
money laundering, but well, as a low-level cog in one of Netropolis's
crime syndicate, that wasn't exactly a problem for him.

So when the boss had wanted to branch out into new kinds of money
laundering, NFTs had come up immediately. The boss had started thinking
about himself as a real businessman, talking about "disrupting" the
"crime market." The more he'd heard all those words from his boss, the
less he understood what any of them meant.

But then he'd started watching all these videos by people who did NFTs.
And... they'd seemed so damn convinced of what they saw, like they'd
seen the Holy Spirit come down from Heaven with delicious hamburgers.
That had to mean there was something to it, right? So when the time came
to put the syndicate on the blockchain, he jumped at the chance.

So today was the big launch day for the Apathetic Lemur Fantasy Island
Club. The lemur conspiracies that had stayed behind in Net.ropolis when
the LNHQ had taken off had threatened to sue them, but that just meant
more publicity, right? Soon they'd be rolling in the dough. And maybe
*someoone* in their syndicate understood how that Bitcoin shit was
supposed to work...

Nervously he refreshed his phone, looking in on the discord server as he
walked down the street. He scrolled through the hundreds of ads for
near-identical NFT discord servers. It didn't matter--he knew this one
was special.

But something was wrong. He saw glitches and angry messages piling up--

"What the hell?"

The blockchain data had all been corrupted.

"No, no no no," he muttered to himself. He rushed off to the computer
lab, opened the door and found the dead bodies of the co-workers slumped
on the chairs. Their heads were lying on the floor some distance away.
The room was covered in gouts and spatters of half-dried blood. He stood
slack-jawed, waiting for what he was seeing to catch up with his brain.

God, he thought, how am I going to get the bloodstains out of the
keyboard? The dorito stains are bad enough--

"Blockchain hype corrupts, you know," said a soft voice from behind him.
"And absolute blockchain hype corrupts absolutely."

Slowly, knowing he didn't want to see what was behind him, he turned
around. There was a woman sitting on the desk, wearing a nattily
tailored dark suit and a full-face black mask with a power button symbol
in white. In her hands she held a polearm whose wickedly sharpened blade
was shaped like a runcible spoon.

He knew immediately who this was. Someone who he up to now had thought
was just a rumor.A presence that stalked the Netropolis underworld like
a ghost.

Not long ago, WHATEVER had fallen apart and the LNH had left the Earth
behind, meaning that there were no central organizations for either the
heroes or the villains. All kinds of small fry had tried to fill the
void, but none of them had gotten much of anywhere. But now there were
rumors of a new crime lord, slowly bringing the whole city under her
heel. The new Acton Lord.

The old Acton Lord had mostly sat in his Chancel, making grand cosmic
plots through intermediaries. The new one was different. She was all
over the city, everywhere and anywhere. If you said her name, she would
hear it. And if you got in her way, she would express her displeasure
personally.

She stretched out her polearm and slowly and gently began to trace it
across his cheek in a sharp line of pain.

"NFT hype is corrupting the economy, corrupting the environment,
corrupting the Net... You'd think I'd be in favor of that, wouldn't you?
But I prefer my evil to be more elegant, or at least more colorful. This
NFT business is just dull. Your boss works for me now, and I don't
appreciate his dabbling in it. So I've come to send him a message. And
you, unfortunately, are that message."

She cut the blade in a little bit deeper.

"W---wait," he said, barely able to speak word. "I just--please. I need
the money. I have a sister--"

She lifted up the blade and prepared to swing.

"I have a sister too. She's been away for a while, but I'm preparing a
surprise for her for when she comes back. And you've been distracting
me. Time to get it over with."

That was the last thing he heard before the blade hit his neck.

====

Notes:

So. Acton Lord VI is, obviously to anyone who's read it, based pretty
heavily on the Hunter Rose version of Grendel. You know, the
multi-generational legacy dedicated to corruption. I know that
Killswitch also has a power button symbol, but it thematically fit her
too well.

And yes, a "conspiracy" is a collective noun of lemurs; make of that
what you will.

Oh, and since this is an anniversary issue, a bonus drabble:


====

Doc Nostalgia never thought he'd miss Earth. Even after all the time
he'd spent there, it had never been his home... Well, that was one of
those things that varied in different versions of his past. But at
first, he'd felt less out of place in space than his teammates did. He'd
spent long voyages away from Earth before. He'd thought he was used to it.

But, predictably, the longer he spent away from Earth, the more he began
to missed it.

The longing for his adopted home tore through his heart as the SDF-LNHQ
prepared to land on Groupon.

====


Will this ever be explained or contextualized in any way? Probably
not... but anything's possible now, right?

Acton Lord VI: Concept by Dave Van Domelen, character by me
Doc Nostalgia: me


--
Jeanne "The Dark Space Princess Knight" Morningstar
Chief Procrastinator, Commission of Ecumenical Translators

Every jumbled pile of person has a thnking part
Which wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of
--TMBG
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