SC: So Much Griping, So Little Accomplishment

by Red Monster


A lot of changes were taking place in the Cafe. Mainly, it was much more peaceful since the brawls in the X-Men room became less severe and frequent since the comic book writers were switched around. The legions of fanfic writers still poured out onto the street, overflowing from the X-Men room, but since "Lobdull" was transferred, they weren’t as violent anymore. In his place they got a pair of guys named Joe Kelly and Steven Seagle, with whom they were much more content.

Characters were slightly regrouped, too. Deadpool was spending less time with X-Force, and more time up in his own room, accompanied by a supporting cast not nearly as dignified as X-Force, and frequented by new X-Men writer Joe Kelly, as well as a handful of enthusiastic fanfic writers, most of whom pulled him back to the X-Force room to do their magic.

The writers, both those hired by the Editors and those entering the Cafe of their own volition, were good about taking turns with the characters. They all wanted to do different things, which couldn’t all be done at once, and often left the characters very confused after being pulled in eight-hundred different directions in one day. So the policy was, only one writer working at a time, or no writers at all. Comic book writers got priority, because they were sent by the Editors and the fanfic writers took pity on them because due to their employment, lost a good bit of creative control. But that was okay because the comic book writers only came in once a month, whereas the fanfic writers could come in whenever they wanted.

John Francis Moore had a deadline coming up. He wanted to spend more time at home with his family, but his bosses, the Editors, breathed down his neck until he grumbled under his breath and headed off to the Cafe to deal with X-Force. He was starting to regret his decision to work with that particular team. When he agreed to start working with them, he thought it would be wonderful because the Editors didn’t think very highly of them, so he was pretty much allowed free reign with them. But he soon discovered, he didn’t know nearly as much about those characters as he would like to. But he was already their writer, so he couldn’t very well ask for comprehensive information now, could he?

"Johnny! Long time, no see!" Illyana cried joyously when he entered their room.

"It’s been a month, Illyana, now all of you extraneous characters get out, I need to work with my X-Force right now." he growled at her.

"Don’t blow a tube, Johnny." said a voice he didn’t recognize. It was a young woman, hiding under the table, tying Warpath’s and Siryn’s shoelaces together.

"Stop that, Red!" James barked at her.

"Oh my God..." Moore began.

"Why don’t you just visit for awhile and get to know the characters a little better before you do your monthly manipulation of them?" the young woman suggested. She was a fanfic writer, that much was clear. And James had called her "Red." Could it be...?

"Red Monster, that’s very cute, but this isn’t the time." Siryn said to her.

"So you’re Red Monster. I’ve heard so much about you. Rictor once even told me to shove some lithium down your throat if I saw you, and now I can do it, because I know what you look like now." Moore said threateningly.

"Is this true, Ric?" Red asked, untying the shoelaces and climbing out from under the table to grimace menacingly at Rictor.

"No, Red, those Editors are brainwashing him." Rictor said, starting to slink under the table to hide himself.

"Ohhh, you’re really in for it now. Anyway, how ya doin’, Johnny?" Red asked, manic as ever.

"I need you to take yourself and all your resurrected, fan-created, and non-present X-Force characters out of here for a few minutes while I work with my current team. I’d love to let you stay in here and tie shoelaces together, but I have a deadline coming up and the Editors are pointing red-hot bayonets at me. So can you please clear out and give the puppetized comic book writer priority?" he asked.

"No go, Frankie. I’ve finally caught you in here, and now I’m going to set you straight! I know you’re a high-and-mighty overpaid X-Writer, so you’re supposed to know everything, but you’ve been suffering from a real background deficit on these characters since you started working with them." Red told him.

"Is that why you’ve stopped working with Cable, Domino, Rictor and me as part of the team? You simply don’t know anything about us?" Shatterstar asked.

"That’s exactly why he dropped you guys!" Siryn spoke up. "But he was wise with you guys, and he’s been wise enough to just not delve into anybody else’s past or personality, but with me, he’s been screwing up for months."

"Great, I’m getting the ‘you’re not writing me right’ speech again..."

"Hey, Johnny, you can’t fault her for being frustrated. After all, you’ve had her tight as an overtuned violin string for over a year now and you haven’t even tried to get her nationality right yet." Red said.

"So this is where Theresa gets her lecturing skills from." said John.

"Sit down. Relax. Risque, hand me my briefcase, would you?" Red asked.

"Get it yourself. After all, you’re the overconfident writer who manipulates us all the time." Risque told her.

"Risque, I never really liked you to begin with, and right now you’re not even that cute." Red gave her the same menacing glare she’d given to Rictor. Risque lunged for the briefcase, laid it on the table in front of Red Monster, and even opened it up, with a sweet, sincere smile.

"Wow, she’s actually got stuff in there!" Domino gasped when she saw the contents.

"Here, Johnny, I want you to have this. Take it home, read it carefully, memorize it, carry it with you, do whatever it takes, and then do your monthly assignment with X-Force, keeping this stuff in mind. I guarantee it’ll end the speeches from me and Siryn." Red said, handing him a thick manila folder. Inside it was a copy of the X-Force FAQ.

"Red, I appreciate the help, but I told you, I have a deadline..."

"Deadlines, schmeadlines! Ask any reader, we’d rather have something late and good than on time and full of errors." Red assured him.

"She’s right, Moore. The readers get restless when the comic is late, but they really get steamed when it doesn’t meet their approval." said Thunderbird, the other Johnny in the room.

"Okay, I guess I can get away with being a day or two late." Moore said, sitting down next to Shatterstar.

"All right! Look at this setup, we’ve got two writers in here, not fighting, and no manipulation is going on!" Red cried joyously.

"Anyone notice how quiet the X-Men room has been lately? We haven’t heard a brawl in there in months, let alone had a fan get slammed through our door from across the hall." Tabitha said.

"That’s because the fanfic writers have mellowed out since Lobdell got transferred out. Now they have Steven Seagle and Joe Kelly in there to write the comic books." Moore said.

"But doesn’t Joe Kelly write Deadpool’s comic book?" Theresa asked.

"Yes, he writes both. Remember when Fabian Nicieza wrote your comic book? He was working in five rooms at a time." Moore said.

"I miss Fabian." Theresa said.

"Yes, Fabian was a good egg. He tortured me with you, but he let me do some pretty cool stuff while he tortured me with you." James said to Theresa.

"Yeah, Fabian was a good guy." Cable agreed.

"Too bad the Editors annoyed him out of the Marvel wing of the Cafe." Tabitha said.

"So where’s Lobdell now?" Rictor asked.

"He was assigned to the Fantastic Four for a few months, but then the Editors transferred him out again, which was a shame, since the readers up there really seemed to like him." Moore said.

"Lobdell found some readers who appreciated him and Marvel transferred him out again? That’s so typical." Red Monster said.

"Yeah, Marvel has a tendency to do that, they love to inflict hard-working writers upon fans who hate them." Moore said, looking at Red.

"Hey! I don’t hate you, I just want you to know more about these characters. Most of the readers who come in here adore you. Only a few of us see any flaws with how you’re handling this team." Red assured him.

"That’s right! Most readers in here think I’m supposed to be a nasty, uptight, insecure priss." Theresa snapped.

"And what are you being now?" Moore asked venomously.

"I’m being wicked because that’s what you want me to be! Look at what you’ve turned me into!" Theresa shouted, standing up. Her baby daughter, Fiona, who was Red’s idea, jolted awake and started crying.

"That reminds me: Red, what am I supposed to do with her now that she’s saddled with this child?" Moore asked.

"I’ll baby-sit Fiona while you’re working with Theresa, Johnny." Domino offered.

"No, I’ll do it. Johnny still works with you once in awhile, Dom." Illyana said.

"Thank you, Illyana. Shhh, sweetie, it’s okay, go back to sleep, Mommy didn’t mean to wake you up." Theresa said.

"You should have thought about that while she was pregnant, Johnny. Did you think she was going to carry that child in her womb forever?" Red asked.

"Writer-Red did have friend-Theresa carry baby for a very long time." Caliban reminded her.

Then, without warning, the screaming started. Not in the X-Force room, but further down the Marvel wing. First, it sounded like X-Factor. Then Generation X joined in. Then the X-Men joined the chorus. The Cafe was in chaos.

"Guys, I think they’re coming..." Thunderbird said nervously, wiping the sweat off his brow. Red Monster covered her ears and shook her head. They always invaded her life at the most unwanted moments.

"Somebody call? I thought I heard somebody ask for ‘Mommy’. Red, I think you could use some help." said Mommy, with the rest of the Greenhill Troupe behind her. They were the ones who had struck fear into the hearts of the characters.

"Get out, you wingnuts! Don’t make me turn John Seavey and Jeff Mariano on you!" Red screamed at them. John and Jeff were the ones who had attacked the very first pieces Red had written, accompanied by the Greenhill Troupe.

"Get a more realistic threat, Red. Those two don’t respect you, they won’t attack us just because you asked them to. They’ll just make fun of the way you phrase your request." said Fluffy, sitting in Loudmouth’s arms. "Besides, we’ve grown up a lot since then. We can take John and Jeff." Loudmouth said.

"Let me put it this way: Nobody is manipulating these characters right now, and they don’t particularly like you guys." Red threatened. The characters cowered in their seats, not daring to look any Trouper in the eyes. Moore sat in his place, perplexed by the change that had come over the characters.

"Who are these creatures?" he asked.

"These are my family, the Greenhill Troupe. I usually bring them in here with me, and that’s probably why Rictor asked you to shove the lithium down my throat."

"You know what, Red? The X-Men room has really calmed down these days! Those fanfic writers and older readers are really pacified since Lobdell left for the Fantastic Four room. But you know where the brawls are now? In the Generation X room. All the fanfic writers and all the readers, except maybe Olav Beemer, are really pissed since Hama took over." Professor of Nuttiness said.

"Yes, there was a scuffle going on in there when I passed that room on the way up here. I’m surprised, since I always thought Hama was a fairly good writer." Moore said.

"Well, he sure has screwed up with those kids! Too bad none of the readers in there are three years old." Rose said.

"Get out! Your presence is frightening these characters! I think some of them are about to wet their pants! Scram before you give Cable a heart attack!" Red railed at them. She delved into her briefcase, pulled out cigarette lighter and a bottle of hairspray and went to Plan B. She lit the lighter, and sprayed the hairspray into the flame. The Greenhill Troupe blanched and ran out of the Cafe. Only Red knew how to handle flames. "They’re gone, guys, you can show your faces now."

There was a collective sigh around the room as X-Force assumed more relaxed posture and uncovered their faces.

"It’s okay, darlin’, I’ll never let them get to you." Theresa cooed to Fiona.

"We’ve really got to get a lock on that door." Shatterstar said.

"Then how would Indigo get in here?" James reminded him.

"Indigo can just stay out for all I care! She gave me AIDS." Bobby said.

"I like Indigo. She’s a nice one." Theresa said.

"You’re just saying that because she didn’t give you a terminal illness." Bobby said.

"Oh, Bobby, she gave you AIDS, not esophageal cancer, you’ll be fine as long as you’re careful." Dani said.

"She also had you do it with me, so you may be HIV-positive in Indigo’s next story." Bobby reminded her.

"Well don’t worry, neither of you are going to get sick as long as I’m in here." Red assured him, when Indigo came into the room.

"Ahhh! Get her away from me!" Bobby yelled.

"Hi, Indigo!" Theresa said.

"Hi, guys. Uh, who are you?" Indigo asked Moore.

"Indigo, meet John Francis Moore, current comic book writer for X-Force!" Red said.

"I’ve been thinking: Red, what’ll happen to me if a fanfic writer comes in here and kills me?" Bobby asked.

"Death is a temporary condition among characters. It just means that particular writer can’t use you in a sequel to that story." Red said.

"Like that time you wrote Nature’s Wish? When you had me and Terry get really old and die, but after it was all over, you snapped your fingers and we were young and healthy again, and you took us back in here, and it was business as usual." James said.

"Exactly like that."

"You know, the Marvel folks killed me off but that only means the comic book writers can’t work with me now." Illyana said.

"That’s what happened to me, too. Of course, they killed me off so long ago, no one cares anymore…" Thunderbird moaned.

"I care about you, John!" Red said.

"But no one reads your stuff, Red!"

"Hey, I’m working on that!"

There was a knock at the door. Tabitha answered, and there stood Bishop, holding a very bruised, disoriented man by the collar.

"Does this belong to you? He crashed through our door and no one else will take him back." Bishop asked.

"Who is that poor dolt?" Red asked.

"That’s Larry Hama. Poor bastard…" Muttered Moore.

"He belongs Generation X, Bish." Cable said.

"They won’t take him. I thought he came from that direction, but when I brought him through their damaged door, they denied ever seeing him." Bishop said.

"Well. Your characters won’t even let you back in, you’re really in trouble now!" James said to Hama. "I’ll take him up to the Editors, they’re his bosses, so they have to take him." he offered. Bishop handed the pummeled writer to James, who slung Hama over his shoulder and headed up to the Editors’ floor. "Who did this, dude?" James asked.

"Everett and Monet beat the crap out of me." Hama answered weakly.

"Man, not even Lobdell got thrashed by his own characters. Time to get transferred again, Larry." James said.

"You’re probably right." Hama croaked.

"Red, do you read Generation X’s comic book?" Theresa asked, back in the X-Force room.

"Yes." Red answered, burping Fiona so Theresa could take a break. "Hama’s really doing terribly. I don’t know if he’s just following orders, or if he really has his head up his ass, but he’s ruining that book with startling efficiency."

"The next time you have a chapter scheduled where we visit Gen X, why don’t you do something nice with them, to make them feel better?" Theresa suggested.

"That’s an idea."

"Indigo, what are you doing with us for your next X-Force story?" Dani asked.

"Probably sending me further downhill…" Bobby groaned.

"Shush. Indigo?"

"I’m keeping it a surprise." Indigo said.

"She’s not writing another X-Force story!" Risque conjectured.

"Neither am I, if you guys keep that up." Red threatened.

"Is that supposed to deter us?" Risque asked.

"Well, you guys don’t have that many fanfic writers." Red reminded her.

"We have a few, and you’re the battiest one of all. I mean, you brought me, of all people, back to life!" Thunderbird said.

"What were you smoking when you did that? Can we have some?" Risque asked.

"What, the pot I’m giving you and James isn’t keeping you happy?"

"Okay, it’s really been fun, but I need to get home, read this FAQ, confirm it for accuracy with the clerks at the comic book store, and work up a plot for this month’s story before I get too far behind my deadline. So, I must make like hair and part." Moore said, leaving the room with the folder Red had given him.

"Bye, Frankie!" Red yelled as he vamoosed.

"Hey, Terry, why doesn’t Johnny ever work with Deadpool anymore? Does it have anything to do with that time when Joe Kelly came in here and took you and James up to Deadpool’s room and you guys came back down looking so shocked?" Tabitha asked.

"Yes, it has everything to do with that little episode. Kelly had Deadpool act like a real horse’s ass and he had me dump Wade because of it, so now Johnny can’t involve Wade with us, and he’s free to get me together with Jimmy, but he doesn’t make use of his freedom." Theresa described the episode.

"You know what? I followed you guys up there, and after Kelly let you and Jimmy come back here, he had Wade go through some really painful ordeal which I wouldn’t inflict on anyone in here, and after that was all over, I sort of elaborated on the part where you dumped him, and I got to work with Al, which was fun." Said Red.

"Wade never told me who Al is, will you?" Theresa asked.

"Yeah, she’s this little old blind lady whom Wade took prisoner a few years ago and she’s really mean to him." Red said.

"Wade is keeping an old lady prisoner? Terry, I think you should stay very far away from him." Dani suggested.

"You know what? I’d love to stick around, but the Greenhill Troupe is probably allowing snakes to breed in my bed as we speak, so I have to get home and put a cap on the insanity. Bye!" Red said as she closed her briefcase and started to swagger out of the room. "You’re free to do what you want with this bunch, Indigo!"

"Anyone up for a cup of hot cocoa?" Indigo asked.

"Could I have my medication in mine?" Bobby asked.

The End?

Enjoyable? Insane? Have I passed the point of no return?

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