Never Cross the Levels – Chapter 7, Act 4, Strip 100

Well, I guess it’s only natural that things start fraying a bit at the end of such a long chapter.

As you can see, Gregory is still completely in-universe, while Mopey already resides firmly in the meta. She’s always had a more tender* relationship with the fourth wall than the others, for which I blame the Professor.

From his in-universe standpoint, Gregory raises a number of very valid concerns. He’s never attempted this type of magic before, he’s hardly ever succeeded at any type of magic on the first try, nobody really knows how anything about the dimension-jumping effect they’re trying to recreate actually works in the first place…and the possible consequences of failure are endless, including a considerable number of decidedly unpleasant outcomes. Hard to argue with that, at least in-universe.

Mopey, of course has mentally already moved beyond the confines of the fictional universe, so she doesn’t find it hard to argue with Gregory’s line of reasoning at all. A simple page-count reveals that none of the terrible complications that dance through Gregory’s mind have any chance of becoming their reality – since there’s simply not enough pages left in the script. Usually, I should not let her get away with such a blatantly meta line of argument…but, yeah, it’s been a long chapter, and we’re all tired. >_> And, what’s more important, it wouldn’t make any difference, anyway – had Mopey stayed in-universe, she wouldn’t have had any good arguments to counter Gregory…but that would have achieved nothing but to force her to use bad arguments instead. And her bad arguments would still have carried the day, simply because the plot couldn’t have continued without Gregory’s concerns getting brushed aside summarily. So, yeah…on balance, better to do that with a good meta argument than a stupid in-universe one. It’s been a long chapter, and we’re all tired…

More on Monday.

* In the sense of “tenuous”, of course. She’s otherwise not a fan of tender relationships.

6 Replies to “Never Cross the Levels – Chapter 7, Act 4, Strip 100”

  1. That’s one of the problems with standard movie lengths. If it looks like it’s coming to an end within the 30-45 minute mark, you KNOW there’s a plot twist or reveal coming. Likewise if you’re at the 60-90 mark, you KNOW there can’t be much movie left if not for script reasons than budget reasons.

    Though I guess that’s a double-edged sword for B-movies: If you managed to make it to the 1 hour mark and you can see the budget thinning out, you can steel yourself for that last 10-15 minutes and just endure the thing to the end so you’ll always have the excuse of “having saw it already” and never being able to be peer pressured into watching it again (drunk dares aside). XD

    1. Yeah, and that’s not only true for movies, the same effect is apparent with print media, radio, TV…I guess webcomics actually have an unique advantage on that front, since they’re not restricted in terms of running time, unless the creator announces a limit beforehand. ;P

      And I know that effect…when it takes you an hour to realize that you really don’t like a movie, but then decide to tough it out those final fifteen minutes so you can forget about it forever. As is said in the Scottish Play: “I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er”. XD

  2. I’d be more worried with the fact the tunnel they’re embarking on looks suspiciously like the Moscow Metro, and, as everyone knows, the Moscow Metro is a dangerous place, full of mutants and post-apocalyptic warring factions.

    I hope they have enough military-grade 5.45x39mm rounds to pay for passage, but then again, since Gregory can pretty much produce anything from the GRAU index from his hat, a good quantity of 7Н6 (ПС) or 7Н10 (ПП) should be easy, and maybe he could supplement that with choice amounts of 7БТ4 (АП-Т) or even something more esoteric, like 7Н39 “Иголник”. Not too many of course, we don’t want to bring down their whole economy, fragile as it is.

    1. Well, mutants and post-apocalyptic warring factions might not usually make for an inviting environment, but when you’re coming there from a place full of dragons, demons and liches, it might still feel like something of a vacation.

      But should they really end up in the Moscow Metro, Gregory should know better than to try summoning anything from the GRAU index, no matter how useful it would be. There is a powerful curse in effect across the whole territory of the Russian Federation, which causes any GRAU item to get delivered too late, to the wrong place or in insufficient numbers, and sometimes all three. If an item is delivered on time, to the right place and in sufficient numbers, it will invariably turn out to be the wrong item altogether – and, since it’s a curse, it will always be the wrongest item possible for any given situation. XD

      1. Ah yes. I forgot about that particular curse.
        Also, I just remembered another curse that seems to affect the former lands of the USSR nowadays, which is that any accumulation of suitably vintage GRAU index items will find a way to spontaneously explode. So it’s probably for the best that Gregory chose not to try his luck along that path after all…

        1. Yeah, explosives have a hard time aging with style and grace…like a lot of people, they tend to grow cantankerous and volatile with age. Then all it takes is some young, bright-eyed guard not showing them the proper respect, and boom. As for the quality of Gregory’s choices…I have a feeling it might get called into question anyway… XD

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