Limp-Asparagus Lad #1 Character (Re)Introduction By Saxon Brenton Editing by The Mystic Mongoose ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover: Shows Limp-Asparagus Lad standing in an all-white background with his back angled towards the reader. He is halfway through the process of turning around to face the reader, and has a look of mild surprise on his face that he's finally getting his own series. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Looniverse: In the secret base hidden somewhere beneath Net.ropolis, a budding master villain cackles fiendishly as his plans for world domination advance towards fruition. "Mwhahahaha! Soon, my plans for world domination will reach fruition!" He strides across the room, his black cape swirling dramatically. Around the room, hired goons(tm) stand at the ready, listening attentively to their employer exposit his intentions, as is required by the hired goons(tm) union. Suddenly, a red light activates on a panel of complicated looking, mad scientist type technology. The villain turns. "So! At last! An intruder in the building above! No doubt a meddling net.hero come to put a close to my operation! (aided by the carefully placed clues that I arranged to be laid to get just such a result!) But I have prepared! I have contingencies laid out! And time enough to spare on exposition! Quickly, my minions! Capture him! Mwhahahaha!" The hired goons(tm) race off. The black clad villain stands exultant in the centre of his control room, arms outstretched as if to grasp the stars, tears of rhapsodic joy in his eyes. "Oh God! Is this what it feels like to be an active character?! To be a villain?! For the first time in my life, I feel ALIVE!" Above, the intruder was making his way through the generic abandoned warehouse that concealed the entrance to the villain's base. It was indeed a net.hero. He was clad in a bodysuit of pale green and olive, sans cape, with a half mask. On his left breast were the letters 'LA' over a stalk of asparagus. Yes, it's the title character. Limp-Asparagus Lad moved carefully and silently, but not dramatically so. None of this "lurking in the shadows" business. He simply moved through the building, using the darkness as cover. He heard noises up ahead, as the hired goons(tm) began to spill up and out into the building. Well, now at least he new he had the right place. Or perhaps just a right place; he couldn't be sure that he had the right supervillain's secret base until he met the occupant. There were so many secret supervillain bases in Net.ropolis, which was strange considering the number of net.heroes about the place. Now, if they had any sense, then they'd move to some remote location, like Acton Lord did. L-A Lad backed further into the shadows, and began to make his way around to see if there was another way down to the underground base. There should be. Once you were aware of the cliche it should be easy enough to exploit. "Hey! Here he is!" shouted one of the searchers. Limp-Asparagus Lad realised he should have expected something like this; it was practically another cliche that things couldn't possibly go his way this early in the story. As the hired goon(tm) raced in the grab him, the Man With No Personality took the opportunity to deck him, as he realised an adolescent power fantasy fight scene would probably help sales, and more importantly get it out of the system of the writer. More hired goons(tm) rushed in, and predictably a fist fight ensured. Limp- Asparagus Lad took numerous strikes, but in good comic book form his ability to turn his body to the consistency of limp asparagus prevented him from taking harm from the blows. The hired goons(tm) were quickly despatched. As the last one fell more appeared, but this time they were holding back out of striking range and aiming guns. L-A Lad advanced towards them, face impassive as ever. They opened fire. The bullets didn't seem to have much effect. They didn't quite bounce off with the impressive 'pinging' that they would've against, say, Superman, but rather they hit and fell to the ground, much of their momentum absorbed by L-A Lad's body. Still, he knew he would ache from the bruises later. It was just as well they weren't using really heavy calibre firearms; there was an upper limit to how much his limp body could absorb, after all. The hired goons(tm) spooked and ran, possibly thinking that anyone who could withstand gunfire and was walking towards them would also have super strength and was planning on ripping their arms off. Limp-Asparagus Lad couldn't complain. It was a misconception that had benefited many times in the past. He turned to the fourth wall and said to the writer, "I suppose I won't be allowed to say something along the lines of 'I guess criminals really are a cowardly and superstitious lot after all'?" Of course not. That sort of statement would be character building. Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded and continued on. Elsewhere: Among the antiseptic smell of the infirmary a young man lay, his green eyes wide and staring at nothing. He was about 15, and looked badly underweight. The drip feed seemed to have been a last minute addition to try and stop an ongoing trend in that direction, and hadn't yet had the time to make much change in his condition. His shoulder length brown hair lay untidily on his pillow. "It's no good. He's completely withdrawn into himself this time," remarked one of his two visitors, a woman dressed in white. "His mental processes are active, but they're at a greatly reduced level." "Could ye read them?" her companion asked. "Given a little time, relatively easily," she answered him. "But applying the knowledge gained from them, that will take time. A program of therapy to bring him back to this world, and to help him adjust so that he remains here. It will be a long, slow process." The red-headed man nodded. "Do we know what finally took him over the edge? He seemed to be goin' so well in the last few months." "Reports are that he started having bouts of depression again when he became aware of some of the more... complicated natures of other student's origins. He seemed to be afraid that he was somehow responsible for them as well." "That's absurd. He hadna even been aware of them at the time those things happened." "Just so. But he had already suffered one extended period of irrationality about changes he suspected he was responsible for. It's not such a great mental leap in that state of mind, especially when no-one knows for sure the range and extent of his power." "Aye." Unheeding of his concerned teachers, the young man's thoughts turned in self-accusatory circles. .o(All my fault Will hurt everyone here Just like last time Will hurt everyone more Don't want to hurt them more...) Even before his visitors turned to leave, he had departed as well. There was a shuffling of the deck of space and time, and one of the cards moved itself to another pack. Looniverse: The budding master villain leaned over the console. "So! The hero continues on his way here! We shall see how far he gets!" He picked up the microphone to the speaker system, tapped it a few times to see if it was on, summoned up his power and proclaimed, "It's most impressive that have reached this far! But though you are but feet away from my control centre, you will never reach it! You are doomed!" "Oh?" said Limp-Asparagus Lad, continuing on. The budding master villain frowned. The hero shouldn't have said that. "Yes! Though you realise it not, you have met your match! For I am: Exclamation!Master!" "Yes. I know." Hidden in the areas around Limp-Asparagus Lad, the hired goons(tm) paused in their preparations to ambush the hero as soon as their employer had properly distracted him. Time was running out, and their employer didn't seem to be slowing him down. Exclamation!Master! tried another tack. "I will conquer this world, puny net.hero!" "If you want." Exclamation!Master! began to panic. He was almost here. "I will wreak wholesale slaughter across the face of the globe! And bring misery to millions!" "If that's what really makes you happy." "Why don't you say something dramatic!? Nobody can resist the urge to say something dramatic!" "They can't? Oh. Sorry," said L-A Lad as he fiddled with the lock to the control room. It opened, and he stepped in, closing and locking the door behind him. "Wuh, what do you want?" asked Exclamation!Master! warily, suddenly not sounding too dramatic himself. "Nothing much. I'm here to stop you. I thought we could have a talk." Exclamation!Master! stared at him. "Who are you!?" he demanded, only just managing to make it an exclamation. "I'm Limp-Asparagus Lad," the hero replied calmly and with absolutely no fanfare. "Limp-Asparagus Lad? Oh no," Exclamation!Master! groaned as he slumped into a chair. "Why couldn't it have been some hero with flair and panache. Like Kid Chivalry? Or Swordmaster? Or Kid Kirby? I would have especially liked to face off Kid Kirby. His nature would have made him especially vulnerable. And it really would've made my rep if I'd at least held him off, even if I couldn't have defeated him in the long run." "Yes. I know. That's why I was sent on this mission." Exclamation!Master! glared at him. "You know?" "Yes. The Legion isn't quite the bunch of knee-jerk reaction, testosterone-driven power fantasies waiting for the moment to leap into battle with no plan or forethought that people commonly assume it is. There's a legionnaire with a power to suit any situation, and tacticians in the group to apply them as appropriate." Exclamation!Master! massaged his temple. "So, send in the dullest, most undramatic hero," he said bitterly. "If that's who's needed. Yes." "So now what? I'm not familiar with heroes as obscure as yourself," the villain said nastily. But if he hoped to get a rise out of Limp-Asparagus Lad, he was disappointed. The One Who Makes Watching Paint Dry Seem Interesting stood, his face as emotionless as ever. "You've locked out my hired goons(tm). Do you plan to beat me to a pulp like some dark vigilante?" "No. As I said, I want to talk." "Talk!?" "Yes." "Don't be absurd!" E!M! snarled, summoning his power again as he got his second wind. "Villains don't talk, they scheme and expostulate their plans! Heroes don't talk; they thwart and denounce the villain!" He paused, trying to collect his thoughts. He was having difficulty maintaining the proper frame of mind. "Damn, I... " Then his eyes widened in realisation. "You're doing this! What are you doing to me!?" "I'm using my drama dampening powers. I don't see any need for a gratuitous fight scene peppered with dramatic pronouncements. That would only get in the way." "That's what heroes and villains are supposed to do," E!M! said testily. "It's not 'getting in the way'. It is the way." He slumped. "Blast. Okay, what do you want to talk about?" "Well, Bob, I wanted to ask if you think you're doing the right thing?" E!M! shook with fury. "Bob is gone!" "I doubt that. Look, I'm not particularly good at socialising. I'm not a people person, and I'm certainly not as good at psychiatry as Special Bonding Boy is. But I'm not particularly fond of the 'good guy/bad guy, beat the snot out of each other, then that's it until the next fight scene' paradigm. Don't you think this is a bit pointless? Especially from your point of view. The way this universe works, you know that you're always going to be beaten." "I'll get good dialogue along the way, " E!M! replied sullenly. "Is good dialogue worth it?" E!M! took a breath and said, "I think so. It certainly beats what I had before." "And what did you have before?" E!M! glared at him. "If you know so much, then you must know that as well." "Admittedly it was a leading question. I know that as Bob Melwizcht you had a job as an insurance clerk until you were fired." "Yes," said E!M! tiredly, resting his face in his palms with his elbows supported by his knees. "Until my powers began to emerge. They fired me because I was causing too much excitement in the firm, what with everybody going around exclaiming everything all the time. 'Conduct unbecoming of the profession' they said." He frowned. "I had always thought that mutant powers were supposed to turn up at puberty; damn things waiting over twenty years before they decided to finally pay me a call." "Most often it's at puberty. But the timing can vary." "You always go into this much detail to combat your opponents?" "Usually. Like I said, I'm not particularly fond of standard superheroic line that interesting stories and saving lives is about gratuitous fight scenes." "Mmf. That makes you a rare one. Given the nature of the Looniverse, gratuitous fight scenes are almost obligatory. That was part of the reason I had such high hopes for this career. Most of the heroes are dramatic. Which makes them vulnerable to me. The more dramatic they usually are, the less likely they'd be able to break free. I could capture them at my leisure while they were still making Proclamations of Good Triumphing Over Evil at me." He sighed. "Look, like I said. I'm not too good at this, but I can arrange for you to talk with someone who is." "Who? Oh. Special Bonding Boy? Well, yeah. Okay. I'm still not sure about it though." "You still think being a villain and being regularly beaten is a viable option?" asked L-A Lad. He almost sounded surprised. "You obviously don't understand," E!M! replied. "I'd say you've never noticed it before, because your very nature, and that power of yours, shields you from it. But this universe works on drama. I felt that as soon as I decided to become a villain. It's like being only able to se black and white all your life, and then waking up one morning to see in colour. That's the reward for being one of the people in the limelight, one of the people who get to appear in the stories as main characters. You get to _feel_! Not like those poor half-sketched background characters who're barely even aware of their own existence, let alone the fact that they _are_ just background characters. But that power's polar! You're either a hero or a villain. It's too hard to stay in the middle, and besides, weird sh*t keeps turning up to unbalance you to one side or the other if you try." "Well, if you think you have to be one or the other, would you prefer to join the Legion?" "I'll... think about it." He stood up. "Come on. Let's get my hired goons(tm) paid off. Then we'll go talk to this Special Bonding Boy of yours." Later that evening: The apartment was tidy, though not immaculately so. It was plain, and looked as if the owner had not yet had time to make the place comfortable. However, closer inspection it showed signs, subtle, but present, of having been occupied for some time. As if the owner had not bothered to make it comfortable and express himself with its decoration, or worse, had taken the efforts to do so, with the result of it having made no difference whatsoever. Limp-Asparagus Lad entered and put down the folio of notes and photocopies he'd made in the LNHQ's library. Then he noticed the Fantasia poster. He didn't own such a poster. He didn't have any posters, period. And since he lived alone... Then he realised the sound of the shower was coming from his bathroom, not next door's. He readied himself for combat if necessary, and moved towards the bathroom door... ...and the he remembered that Joe's pizza delivery shift started in an hour. Naturally he would be here to get ready. "That you, little brother?" came a voice from the bathroom as the taps were turned off. "Yes," Limp-Asparagus Lad called to his cousin. "Another hard day's heroing?" "Somewhat." Sound of the linen cupboard being opened. "Hey. Do we have any fresh towels?" "We should have. It was your turn to do the laundry yesterday." L-A Lad reminded him mildly. "Aren't any here. Mmm. Of course, I was in a silly mood this morning, so I put them under the wash basin," Joe said as if by way of explanation. He opened the doors beneath the vanity, and sure enough, there were the towels, fresh, dry, and folded. "If you couldn't do that, you'd probably have to be more organised," observed L-A Lad as he put the kettle on to boil. "Ah, but I can do it. And since I don't squander it by being a net.hero," Joe teased, "I've got plenty left over for my own use. You got another late night Josh?" he asked as he came out, buttoning his shirt. "Yes," the Man With No Personality replied, turning to the other. Joe was combing his shoulder length brown hair. At 18 he was two years Joshua's junior. He had a thin, almost gangly build, and his acne had just recently cleared up. "Do you want a cup of coffee before you go?" Joshua asked. "Yeah, thanks." Elsewhere (albeit a different elsewhere from last time): "This is untenable!" exclaimed one of the people shrouded in shadow. "Our plans for world domination have ground to a halt. And why?! Simply because Limp-Asparagus Lad has been lost to us?! Of what possible use can one net.hero have been over another?!" "Calm yourself. He had abilities that made him almost uniquely useful, although not irreplaceable. Now that one of the writers had finally decided to tell a story featuring him..." "Foolish, NAIVE writers!" exclaimed another of the hidden individuals. "...we can at last make our move to reclaim him as our tool." "I hope so," stated a fourth figure gravely. "Time grows short. You know what _it_ will do if we have not brought this world to heel soon." To be continued next issue in: A Sponge Minion Walks Among Us. Maybe. ------------------------------------------------------------ Revised Roster Entry NAME: Limp-Asparagus Lad (Joshua) TYPE: WC of firstname.lastname@example.org (Saxon Brenton) CREATED BY: wReam and Mongoose POWERS: Has the powers of Limp Asparagus, including flexible body and drama-dampening field. ADD. NOTES: L-A Lad was created as an example of a WC for the FAQ but for a long time had no writer. STATUS: Alive ENEMIES: W.I.R.E.D. APPEARANCE: Two colour body suit in pale green and olive, with 'LA' and an asparagus stalk on his left breast. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Credits: Limp-Asparagus Lad by Saxon Brenton, created by The Mystic Mongoose and wReam. Exclamation!Master! and Joe by Saxon Brenton Acton Lord by Dave Van Domelen Kid Chivalry by Andre Condon Kid Kirby by Jameel al Khafiz Special Bonding Boy by wReam Swordmaster by The Badger W.I.R.E.D. by The Mystic Mongoose. All characters (c) and (tm) their respective owners and/or creatorsBack to the Index.