As I write this, Each Little Universe has been free on Kindle for three-and-a-bit days, and over 200 people have picked up a copy. Which is just… ridiculously cool. I hope at least some of them read it, and if some of those people review it then I’ll feel it’s been a terrific success!
To celebrate, and because I’ve been kinda thinking for a while that this would be a fun thing to do, I thought I’d post a deleted scene that didn’t make it into the final published version of the book. This is my absolute favourite thing that didn’t make it; it was a lot of fun to write, and I still have a lot of fun reading it now.
So… some spoilers coming up just to explain the context, but to be honest it probably doesn’t require too much context! Spoilers after the little line break thing, so if you wanna avoid them then just scroll down until you see another one. Ready? OK!
So in the published version of ELU, Ziggy gets taken at the end of Part One (which is in fact about two-thirds of the way through the story). Then there’s a brief interlude in the form of Part Two, and then we rejoin the gang for Part Two-and-a-Bit as they hit the Swede’s house, meet the returned but ill-fated Altair, see on TV that Orion’s also back, and then TM goes to meet his parents while the rest of the gang are off watching Marty and the Inciting Incident play their Battle of the Bands. Derrida calls TM from the BOTB, so he sees some of it, and he hears a bit about it from Veggie afterwards, but the reader doesn’t get to see it.
In earlier versions, TM attended, and so the BOTB was described in its full glory. It was… self-indulgent, but maybe kinda gloriously so, and it was basically a total rip-off of Scott Pilgrim.
I took it out because it was just too much, even for ELU, and things were ramping up at that point in the story so I wanted to give TM a little bit more downtime before things all kicked off again. That said, I think something was lost in the removal: Lauren and the Ire don’t get anything like as good of an introduction, and really end up feeling much more like a one-off hit squad than I would’ve hoped. So that’s something I would probably go back and change, if I could: give Lauren and the Ire more airtime, because I like them and I think they deserved better than I ultimately gave them. (I also kind of wish Valentine Loudspeaker could’ve had some place in the story. Maybe one day I’ll do, like, A Few More Little Universes focusing on the exploits of people like Lauren and the Ire, Valentine, Gary Mackerel, that one guy who really likes Al Tyer, and a bunch of the other minor characters who absolutely belong in this world but didn’t get as much to do in ELU. I imagine they probably all got up to some fun stuff while the main ELU plot was happening.)
Oh, and in this original version, Marty is murdered by Orion immediately after the BOTB. That’s why his band is called the Inciting Incident: his death sends Veggie into a rage, causing him to go after Orion too recklessly. That was just too bleak for me, though, so I spared him that fate in the final version (Veggie’s anger comes instead from Orion taunting them about how she’s going to find another star and do to them what she did to Ziggy – and the gang also assumes she probably killed Lauren and the Ire).
Aaaaand I think that about sums it up, so… enjoy the show.
TM had only been to one Battle of the Bands before, and it had been almost nothing like this one. For one thing, as an official hanger-on of Veggie’s, and therefore (extremely tangentially) of the band’s, he had been granted ‘limited backstage access’, which apparently meant ‘go pretty much anywhere’.
‘This is so awesome,’ Marty said with a satisfied sigh, reclining on the floor of the band’s dressing room, which was nominally a largish cupboard.
‘That it is,’ Veggie agreed.
The noise of the crowd outside was swelling through the walls, soaking them all in hyperactive, sweaty glory. Marty’s bandmates stood about, playing imaginary instruments or adjusting their deliberately ripped black outfits.
‘Ready?’ Marty asked his bandmates from the floor. They nodded, or held up devil-horn gestures affirmatively; Marty coiled up and sprang to his feet. ‘Okay,’ he said, adding a little more messiness to his wildly spiked hair. ‘This is it. The final.’
‘It’s the final?’ TM said; Veggie shushed him, looking on at his fiancé with admiration.
‘Now, I’ve never even heard of this band we’re up against,’ Marty said. ‘And everyone out there has heard of the Inciting Incident, am I right?’
‘Yeah!’ one of the band members grunted enthusiastically; the others gave him a look and went ‘eh, why not’.
‘Fuck, yeah,’ Marty agreed. ‘Let’s do this!’
Veggie shooed TM out of the dressing room as the band finished their pre-show preparations with what looked like a haka; Dominika and Derrida stood outside in wait.
‘How did you two get back here?’ Veggie demanded. Derrida shrugged.
‘She just talked us in,’ they said, patting Dominika on the shoulder. Veggie’s eyebrows and mouth gyrated as he seemed to search for words, then he sighed.
‘Has everyone but me heard you talk?’ he asked Dominika helplessly. She winked.
‘Anyway,’ TM said pointedly, ‘we should probably… audience it up.’
‘True dat,’ Veggie agreed, leading them out of the backstage area and back towards the main auditorium. The crowd noise rose as they drew closer, until TM could feel the roars vibrating through his bones. He wondered vaguely why they were already cheering when the bands hadn’t started playing yet. Then they reached the door to the crowd area, pulled it open, and saw:
A bouncing mass of people lined every inch of floor space, filling the huge room to the walls easily. To either side, cutting the audience into an H shape, was a large stage. One was empty, save the impressive array of instruments. On the other stood four women, backs to the crowd, holding their fists in the air with theatrical flair as coloured spotlights weaved about them. Veggie hopped down into the crowd and shoved his way towards the central spot between the two stages, TM, Derrida, and Dominika trailing in his slipstream.
‘Laaadieeeeeeees aaaaaand gentlemeeeeeeeeeeeeen!’ trilled a loud voice over the enormously powerful sound system all around (it was like being in a scaled-up version of Marty’s bedroom, TM thought vaguely). A scream of joyous affirmation rose up from the crowd, and a sudden ripple of motion spread through like an oscillator as everyone raised their hands heavenward as one. TM looked up, and beheld a shining figure descending from the rafters, arms spread wide like wings.
‘Aaaaaaaaare! Yooooou! REEEEAAAAAADYYYYYYYY!’ demanded the floating angel, holding a glittering microphone to its mouth. ‘I am Valentine Loudspeaker, and I shall be! YOUR! EM! CEEEEEEEEE!’
The crowd bounced in manic ecstasy at the MC’s every syllable, holding their palms in the air joyously like the congregation at a faith healing demonstration.
‘Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiin the RED! CORNAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ preached Loudspeaker, ‘we have something of a new kid on the block, it’s their first BEE OH TEE BEE but you wouldn’t know it, it’s LAUREN!’
The leftmost of the four women on the stage turned on her heel, long black hair flying around her head, and pumped her hands in the air. The crowd went mad as Loudspeaker soared in his harness over to an enormous spotlight and grabbed it from behind, waving it about madly over Lauren. She stood there, breathing heavily, an intense look on her face and strands of hair sticking to her forehead and cheek. TM felt the entire audience prickle with some unidentified surge of feeling as she stood there before them.
‘AND! THE! IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!’ Loudspeaker proclaimed in a strong, vibrato falsetto. TM wondered why he wasn’t entering himself in the Battle of the Bands, since he seemed to be doing enough singing anyway. The rest of the band turned, revealing strikingly similar faces on each of them: high cheekbones, stern eyes, pixie ears sticking out from under their hair. ‘They’re sisters, or so I hear.’
Lauren and the Ire stood, fists up in what TM could only assume was meant to be an intimidating display of solidarity and fighting spirit. Then they lowered their arms as one.
‘And in the BLUE! CORNEEEEEEEEER!’ Loudspeaker trilled. ‘It’s not their first rodeo, no siree, we’ve seen them progress from a little bedroom band into a bona fide legend of the circuit, so please! Give it up! For our reigning champions! It’s THE!’
The crowd drew a breath as one, shivering like the surface of a pool between ripples of the wave machine.
A steady clamour rose up, spreading from the centre of the audience right up to the walls, bouncing and lapping against the room containing them.
Loudspeaker bellowed the final word, held it as long as he could, then cut it off with a yelp and went limp in his harness. The sphere of energy that had blown itself to global proportions between each person popped, like a gigantic layer of bubble wrap spread over the whole crowd had suddenly been broken all at once by each person pressing against it, and the place exploded. TM had never seen so many hands in the air, felt so much vibration in the air around him; he could barely even see when the band emerged from some underground tunnel onto the stage, led triumphantly by Marty. Loudspeaker, apparently recovered from his momentary spell of strings-cut-puppet-ness, swung his spotlight about manically from above.
Marty stepped right to the edge of their stage. Lauren and the Ire came towards them in response, and the crowd bounced and waved about them, doing their best to even touch the feet of the icons in their midst. The two bands, Marty and his three bandmates and Lauren and hers, stood opposing each other, staring so intensely into each other’s eyes over the heads of the crowd that TM could almost see the thin red lines between them, like a string-woven cat’s cradle overshadowing them all.
‘ARE! YOU! READY!’ declared Loudspeaker again, and the resulting nuclear blowout of noise from the crowd was like nothing TM had ever experienced. ‘LET’S! DO! THIS!’
The bands turned away from each other as one, striding to take their places at their instruments. The four women of LATI were really remarkably similar, TM thought absently; were it not for the fact that they each wore asymmetrically patterned variations on the same black hooded jacket and skinny jeans (the lead, who TM was fairly sure was Lauren, had the greatest number of white lines in constellation patterns branded across her left arm and down her leg), he was not sure he would be able to tell the difference. That said, though, he thought, they did all have different instruments, which helped somewhat.
‘Thanks for having us,’ Marty said as the noise of the crowd began to fade, which only jump-started it back up to epic proportions. It was as if the entire crowd were an enormous human Van de Graaff generator, sparks of electricity zapping between each person. Marty raised a hand, and a respectful silence attempted to fall, though it struggled against the manic energy pulling at the audience. ‘We hope you enjoy this.’
The two bands settled into their places and took up instruments: the Inciting Incident with Marty at the head with his microphone and guitar, backed by another guitar, a bass and drums; Lauren and the Ire with Lauren standing at the front point of the diamond with a keytar slung over her shoulder, a theremin set up next to her and the mic stand before her, and her bandmates behind with what looked like a double bass, a double-necked guitar and an oversized drum set complete with a gong and a row of bells. As if feeling inadequate next to the eclectic array before them, Marty’s guitarist swapped his neon blue electric guitar out for an accordion and the drummer hit a switch with his foot, triggering a fan of lasers beside him.
‘That’s our laser harp,’ Marty said proudly into the mic. ‘It’s new.’
‘Ooh,’ said Lauren. The crowd bristled at her voice, which brushed over them softly like a chamois cloth. ‘Fancy.’
‘Thanks,’ said Marty. ‘I like your cello.’
‘It’s a double bass.’
‘Well, then, I guess you’re going to get double bossed,’ Marty said slickly, eliciting an ‘oooooooh’ of playground excitement from the assembly.
‘You sly dog,’ TM heard Veggie say quietly, grinning widely beside him. TM clapped him on the back proudly, which was harder than expected owing to how tightly pressed they were against the people around them.
‘We’ve done this one before,’ Marty said, seeming to look every member of the audience in the eyes. ‘First did it… ooh, about three years ago, actually, and it’s got a few more verses since then, and got a whole shit ton heavier, but sing along if you know it!’
A heavy drumbeat, like a troop of wild horses at full gallop, set off the song, and then they were away, a fast-moving ground bass rippling through the air and floor and sending shivers through TM’s body.
Who the hell do you think we are?
Bitch, please, I’m the Avatar
‘That’s a better line,’ Derrida said.
It’s time to tighten the outer walls
Titan, tighten, homophones are cool
‘Fuck, yeah!’ Marty yelled between lines. The crowd bounced and screamed with approval.
I got my Buster Sword
And I got my Keyblade
Got dragon’s balls
Shove them in your face, yeah!
‘Not sure about that one,’ Derrida muttered, to which Veggie gave them a nudge that was more like a shoulder tackle.
I got Green Dragon
I ride Red Hare
When I bust! out! my Scissor! Blade!
It’s just not fair, no!
Marty stepped back from the mic, shaking his hair out of his face as the crowd roared in appreciation. The Inciting Incident kept up the wild ride of the backing instrumentation, and every person’s head turned as one to the other stage, as if following a tennis ball. Lauren held her hands up and gave a quick series of claps, smiling with one side of her mouth to reveal a wickedly sharp incisor. Then she stepped up to her own mic, took the stand in one hand and the mic itself in the other, and pressed her lips to it, her hair falling over her face. Her bandmates launched into an array of chords that weaved in and over the Inciting Incident’s music, first complementing it, then sneaking in, then turning it into something of their own. Within moments, the river of music had turned into a steadily thumping track, with bouncing bass and rolling drums.
Lauren’s voice poured softly into the microphone, somewhere between singing and rhythmically talking. The energy of the crowd slowed with the tune, but TM felt as if he were in a boat slowly drifting towards a waterfall as the repetitive notes of the bass propelled them along.
I will build this place up
I will tear this place down
I know this ain’t how it started
But it’s how it is now
Is it true what they say, that
There’s a light in the sky?
Is it too late to pray, that
This does not pass by?
With that, Lauren’s hair soared into the air, the bass suddenly fell through the floor like a wave of water breaking its seal and flooding out in uncontrollable torrents, and the crowd went wild. TM looked over at Marty as the rest of the audience gyrated, fixated on Lauren and the Ire, and saw his friend playing along with a look of sheer ecstasy on his face. He was about to turn to Veggie, to say something about how this was less a battle and more a wrestling match, the two bands working together to make each other look as good as possible, when the beat hit and there was sudden, complete silence.
Then, one moment later, the song kicked back in, and rapturous exclamations filled TM’s ears.
‘FUCK, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ Valentine Loudspeaker wailed, flailing with joy up in the ceiling. There may as well not have been a ceiling, really.
Marty’s powerful tones took over again, the music morphing into what TM could only describe as sassy, punchy metal. Lauren nodded her approval from the other stage, hitting her keytar in perfect time, as the crowd headbanged along.
Oh, Ki! Ra!
The L I am
Is not for you
Oh, Mis! Ter!
Yagami, oh, I see right through!
Then Lauren’s voice pierced the heavens above and took over:
Your Knight of Zero can’t redeem ya
The bass stepped up half-notes as she sang.
Oh, Eupheeeeeee –
Lauren’s voice, ringing out clear as a bell, soared up like snow over a mountaintop.
The crowd actually applauded at that, rather than the rowdy cheering that had been the tone of the performance thus far, expressing their admiration for the unexpected display of legitimately impressive technical, almost classical skill.
I hope you are free now, yeah
Her keytar let a stream of minor chords fly.
Snare drums sounded and low bass notes rang out.
Marty whooped as Lauren trailed off, waving his fist in the air.
‘OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!’ yelled Loudspeaker, spinning around in his harness. The spotlight zipped around the walls; if the cats had been there, TM thought, they would be doing their damnedest to catch it. ‘Looks like we have a REAL! SHOW! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWN!’ Thunderous applause. ‘Seems to me that the Inciting Incident isn’t the ONLY BAND IN TOWN who can make SWEET, SWEET MU-ZAYIK about anime and whatnots, AM I RIGHT?!’
Marty made a half-bow in Lauren’s direction; she flipped her hair out of her face and returned it. TM couldn’t think of the last time he had seen eight people performing as one, looking as if they were having the time of their lives.
‘Aaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, look,’ Loudspeaker’s voice dripped sweetly from the speakers. ‘Isn’t that nice?’
Some of the people around TM actually went ‘awww’.
‘NOW MAKE! MORE! MUSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIC!’ the MC demanded, and the crowd bounced around madly.
‘Alriiiiiiiiiight,’ Lauren crooned, running a hand up and over her face and hair, swaying gently. ‘Let’s slow it down a little, yeah?’
‘Sounds good to me,’ Marty acquiesced, nodding rhythmically and lifting his legs high in exaggerated dance-step.
‘Then we bring it back up, I’m thinking,’ Lauren said, leaning on her mic stand.
‘NOW WE HAVE A SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW,’ Loudspeaker declared, sending the audience into yet another frenzy of mad cheering.
‘A little ballad, maybe,’ Lauren suggested, to which Marty strummed a few notes happily.
Oh, I wish I was a cloud on a windy day
Lauren’s hips moved side to side as she sang, both bands playing a bluesy tune and bobbing in a slow dance.
Maybe I would be the highest thing there was at one moment in time
I guess maybe my hands would be tied
I’d just go along with the wind and I’d be fine
She closed her eyes, pressing her lips to the microphone as if she needed it to breathe. The crowd swayed gently in time; someone a few rows of people away from TM actually pulled out a lighter.
Then maybe we’d come together
You and me, baby, in the sky forever
When particles collide we’d maybe make sweet lightning
I guess we’ll never know, but to think about it’s kind of exciting
She trailed off, opening her eyes and looking around as if she’d forgotten where she was. The two bands brought the song to an end, and the crowd applauded rapturously.
‘Well, that was SURPRISINGLY BEAUTIFUL!’ yelled Valentine Loudspeaker, as if afraid that the mood might drop. ‘NOW BATTLE, BITCHES!’
‘That was nice,’ Marty conceded, tipping an imaginary hat in Lauren’s direction. ‘But I think we need to… speed things up a little.’
The Inciting Incident’s guitarist, in his current adjusted role as accordionist, rattled off a few bouncing notes, and Marty cleared his throat and stood up straight. Then, in a powerful operatic tenor, he burst into something that TM had absolutely no idea how to react to. It was… maybe Italian? He had no idea; it sounded like something that would play in a cartoon about pizza delivery. The crowd around him looked at each other uncertainly, then gradually started to bounce in time with the song as it raced along, speeding up as it went.
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funiculaaaaa
TM thought that was what Marty was saying, at any rate. Then something else undecipherable, then:
Marty leaned back and raised an arm as he belted out the final note, which the crowd leapt up and down and yelled in wild appreciation for, then he jumped up and pumped his fist as the drummer went into a twiddling laser harp solo.
‘AAAAAAWWWWWW, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ exclaimed Loudspeaker, spinning about madly.
‘Nicely done,’ Lauren said, saluting.
‘I thank you,’ Marty replied with a quick curtsy. Then he turned to his band, held his hand in the air and screamed ‘ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!’ and they were off into another rolling wild mine cart ride of a tune, clattering drums and aggressive bassy riffs filling the room. The crowd roared, and TM was never quite sure whether what happened next was real or some sort of shared hallucination. He knew that it wasn’t just a mirage unique to him, though, because the head of every person present turned upwards, mouths opening in shock and awe as a great dragon made of drumbeats formed itself in the air between the two bands.
Lauren whooped, headbanging so that her hair whipped around like the mane of a leaping horse, and The Ire responded with a resounding crash of slamming music, spawning an enormous armoured warrior before the Inciting Incident’s dragon. The two apparitions pulsed in time with the booming beats and squealing ostinatos, then bounded at each other, crashing together as the music swelled. Marty ripped off an impressive sequence of notes, his fingers moving faster than TM could keep up with, and the dragon folded its wings around the warrior and clamped its teeth down; Lauren And The Ire’s violinist responded with a pizzicato flurry that sent the warrior into a series of broad strikes with its massive sword. The dragon squealed, or perhaps it was the Inciting Incident hitting a string overly aggressively. The music rose to a climax, both sides playing as hard as they could, and the dragon and the warrior danced around each other with increasing frenzy, and then Lauren let loose a rising string of sung notes that rocketed up to the heavens; her champion spun around, whipped its blade through the air, and lopped off the dragon’s head.
‘Nooooooooooooooo,’ Marty lamented as the apparitions faded away.
‘OHOHOHOHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!’ screamed Loudspeaker, bouncing around in his harness. ‘Looks like we have A WIIIIIIIIIIIII -’
‘Hang on, hang on,’ Marty said hurriedly, and swan dived off the stage. The crowd caught him, whooping as they carried him over their heads, and Marty somehow navigated his way over to Veggie. ‘Come up, come on,’ he said urgently. Veggie hesitated; Dominika grabbed him and lifted him up above her head, where he was immediately carried away in the irresistible flow of the stage-dive traffic. Marty journeyed back over the heads of the audience to the stage, where he hauled himself up, then helped Veggie up after him.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ Marty declared, ‘this is my fiancé, and he is here for a special performance of… something!’
‘WAAAAAAAAAAAA,’ bellowed Loudspeaker. ‘PLOT TWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIST?!’
‘No fair,’ Lauren said, though she was smiling widely.
‘Take it away, lad,’ Marty said to Veggie, leading him over to a digital piano on the stage. Veggie sat uncertainly, then sighed. He said something to Marty, which from his expression TM assumed was something along the lines of ‘I don’t have a choice, do I, you loveable wanker?’ Marty shook his head smugly.
Then Veggie played, something TM had never heard before but that he felt like he had known all his life. It was like looking down a river, one he’d been to many times as a child, from a different point in the stream, and realising that it was all the same thing in the end. The entire crowd was silent, only swaying gently as the music washed over them. Even Lauren and The Ire stood respectfully, Lauren with her hands folded behind her back, looking on; Valentine Loudspeaker swung lazily about in his harness overhead.
When Veggie finished, and the last note trailed off into the air, disappearing slowly like the contrail behind a plane, there was for a moment silence. Then rapturous applause. Veggie stood, looking almost shy, and gave a quick bow.
‘THAT! WAS! BEAAAAAAUTIFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL!’ Loudspeaker bellowed. ‘I FEEL QUITE EMOTIONAL NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!’
Lauren applauded, watching Veggie as he hopped down off the stage and back into the crowd.
‘BUUUUUUUUUUT,’ Loudspeaker continued, and there was a general ‘aww’, ‘THAT GUY IS NOT! IN! THE! BAND!’
‘I know,’ Marty said, looking up at him. ‘Just thought you all might like to hear a little something different.’
‘WELL, ISN’T THAT NICE?!’
The crowd nodded as one. Loudspeaker spun about, swinging to and fro above their heads, stroking his chin thoughtfully. ‘Technically,’ he announced, ‘that bit shouldn’t count, but what the fuck. We’ll take a BATTLE! VOTE!’
‘This is such bullshit,’ Derrida whispered to anyone who would listen, ‘it’s just a fucking clapometer.’
‘CLAP! FOR YOUR WINNERS! AND LET ME HEAR YOU SCREEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!’
The audience complied eagerly; Loudspeaker whooshed across the ceiling, cupping his ear in his hand to hear the cries of the assembled. When he soared back to the centre of the room, the cries died down, and a crescendoing buzz of anticipation replaced them.
‘The winner,’ said Loudspeaker theatrically, ‘is.’
He paused for effect.
‘THE WINNER! IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!’
He paused again, which was less effective than the first time.
‘LAUREN! AND! THE! IIIIIIIREEEEEEEEE!’
‘Fair play,’ Marty conceded over the approving roar of the crowd.
‘BUT WEREN’T THEY BOTH SO GOOD?!’
More roars. Marty and Lauren nodded respectfully at each other, then the bands left the stage to raucous applause. TM watched them go; Veggie snapped his fingers in mild frustration beside him.
‘Shame, that,’ Veggie said thoughtfully. ‘Both so good, though.’
‘Too right,’ TM could only agree. Derrida and Dominika offered words (nods, in Dominika’s case) of assent. Veggie sighed, watching the satisfied crowd disperse around them, then looked skyward and gave a thumbs up to Loudspeaker.
‘THANKS FOR COMING!’ the MC boomed.
And there you have it: the biggest omission, in my mind, from ELU as it ultimately ended up being. I still actually really love a lot about this scene, and I can hear what their songs would sound like, I think. Maybe one day I’ll team up with someone to actually create the tracks, that’d be cool. (I’m also kind of surprised by how much I like the lyrics to Lauren’s songs in particular, since I’m absolutely not a poet or a lyricist by any stretch of the imagination.)
I think (maybe you’ll disagree!) I still support my past self’s decision to take it out of the book: even though I like it a lot, I think it just didn’t quite fit in that part of the story. I didn’t restrain my instinct to just be as ridiculous as possible in many places, but this felt like it needed me to maybe just apply a little bit of restraint for once!
It definitely fits in the world of ELU, though (I mean, the idea of an MC flying around on wires is so, like, in keeping with the idea that anything can happen in this world as long as it’s sufficiently awesome), so rest assured that this whole thing still definitely happened in the published story; TM just didn’t see it.