Blue Light Productions presents

Limp-Asparagus Lad #9     Getting From A to B
Written by Saxon Brenton

Cover is beautifully painted by Kirby. No, not _that_ Kirby! J. Kirby.
Oh, they both have that initial, don't they? Okay, okay, Josh Kirby.
Anyway, in the foreground Limp-Asparagus Lad is standing in a wary
pose as pandemonium occurs around him. Screaming wizards dressed in
red robes hurl fireballs. A.f.p.ers flee from 'orrible Things with
tentacles. The three bicyclists (and one pedestrian) of the
Apocralypse ride across the M25 motorway, which is burning as the
dread sigil Odega. Looming over the horizon can be seen the First
Sirian Bank. Dragons! Gnomes! Morris dancing robots! Chattering nuns!
A small, scruffy dog! A thousand elephants!
And along the bottom is the blurb: "Containing scenes nothing at all
like this!"

  Limp-Asparagus Lad continued to cling onto the thin beam that was
all that was currently keeping him from plunging to his death far
below in the distant depths of the pit over which he was hanging.
  He began working his way up the beam towards the gallery just above
him. He didn't have much time. The impact upon the beam that he had
made as he had grabbed it while falling had broken it off at one end,
and the slender thing was now groaning, clearly intending to snap off
at the other end as well.
  This was to be expected. Drama tended to work like that. It was
perfectly predictable that just as he made within reach of the
gallery the beam would give way, and he would have to grab for the
lip of the cliff in order to escape falling.
  Of course, with his drama dampening field he could forestall that
eventuality, but in all likelihood that would only make things worse
for him. At least while the Drama of the situation was operative he
had sufficient chance to survive, providing he acted quickly and with
a modicum of daring-do. If the Drama were suppressed then the universe
would go back to not giving a damn whether he was a hero or not, the
weakened beam would give way, and he would fall to his death with no
chance of a lucky escape.
  Limp-Asparagus Lad had no particular fondness for Drama, and avoided
it where possible. But he was not so foolish that he would avoid
using it consciously, as a tool, when it was convenient to him.
  As he made his way upward, hand over hand, L-ALad's body tensed to
make the final necessary jump when the beam finally gave way, as it
inevitably did. He leapt and grabbed the edge with a white-knuckled
grip, then inched his way up onto the balcony.
  Standing up and looking around, he discovered nobody was about.
  First he would have to identify his location, and then assess his
chances of either finding the other net.heroes or making his way back
to the Footnote Fiend.

  Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story was just finishing
outlining to Librarian Lady the Peril(tm) to that
Fourth Wall Lass had relayed to him. "... and that is the current
situation. Now that I am alerted to the danger, I can see for myself
that Fourth Wall Lass is correct. A most severe strain is indeed being
put upon the fabric of by the miscreant Footnote
Fiend's excessive number of footnotes. Fortunately it is within mine
power to alleviate some of the damage whilst Fourth Wall Lass and
Retcon Lad undertake to stop the villain of the piece."
  Librarian Lady nodded. "Will you drop me off with the others? I
think that I will want to have words with the Footnote Fiend once he
has been dealt with." Her voice was very chilly as she made this
pronouncement, indicating that the Fiend would greatly regret his
actions in kidnapping her sister.
  The hero looked doubtful. "It may take time to transport you to
them that this newsgroup can ill-afford."
  "I can assure you that it will take almost no time do so," she told
him crisply. "All that is required is to take a shortcut by tracing a
crosspost through"
  "Ah. That sounds like the method that many denizens of
rec.arts.comics.creative use for travelling rapidly from one apart of
r.a.c.c to another by using the far smaller alt.comics.lnh as a form
of hyperspace."
  She nodded. "A.f.p.a was formed last year to carry administrative
announcements and the like so that they would not become lost among
the high noise to signal ration that is common on
It tends to act like a sidereal dimension to the main newsgroup. Some
of the more creative posters have found that they can travel rapidly
from one point to another within a.f.p. by detouring through the
smaller a.f.p.a. to emerge at a congruent point in the main newsgroup.
All you need is two crossposted articles to make the link. Moreover,
it is a moderated group, and far smaller - proportionately - than
a.f.p than even a.c.lnh is to r.a.c.c, so transit should be very quick
indeed. Simply ask Fourth Wall Lass where they are, and what the
nearest administrative crosspost is."
  He nodded and sent a mental query to his alt.version via
alt.telepathy. That done, he flew off, cradling LLady in his arms.
  "Your determination to rescue your sister is quite admirable,"
KidNAIARHS observed.
  "Thank you," LLady replied.
  "Has she spent long in"
  Librarian Lady nodded. "All her life. This is the home newsgroup of
us both. After the deaths of our parents, I was forced to send her to
a public school to board while I worked at gaining employment that
would allow me to support both of us, and establishing my career
required a lot of moving about on my part. I hoped that by at least
letting her stay in a familiar world she wouldn't feel too alienated.
Now that I have secured a permanent position with the Legion, I hope
that I can at least provide her with a stable home environment by
bringing her with me."
  This brought a look of surprise to KidNAIARHS' face. "I would hardly
have thought that the LNHHQ could be described as a normal setting
for family life."
  "I didn't say 'normal'," she countered with prim pedanticism. "I
said 'stable'. There is a difference. In any case, I expect she will
like the taste of adventure the LNH offers. Heaven alone knows she
gets involved in enough of them in school. At least this way I'll be
able to keep an eye on her and mitigate any disasters if things get
out of hand."
  "Is she looking forward to returning with you, then?"
  Librarian Lady frowned. "She hasn't said anything, one way or the
other. To be honest, I think she's set her mind against it, just to
be contrary. She always has been somewhat wilful."
  "I am sure the change of scenery will do her good," said
KidNAIARHS diplomatically.

  Retcon Lad threw an inquiring look at Fourth Wall Lass. "Well?"
  "He concurs," she said.
  "Okay then. So, that means, what, he'll try and hold things
together while we go and righteously pummel the villain?"
  "That's about the size of it."
  "Fine then. Let's find out where we are so we can get a fix on the
trail back to the Fiend." RLad glanced around. The number of people
wearing Pratchett memorabilia seemed to indicate that they were
somewhere in the general discussion area, but beyond that it was
impossible to tell. "Excuse me," he asked one young man with short
black hair and glasses and wearing a black 'The Turtle Moves'
T-shirt, "can you tell us exactly where we are?"
  "Sure. You're just outside the main archive site at," the replied, pointing over his
shoulder. "Hey, neat costumes. But why're you dressed like that?"
  "Uh, they're uniforms. We're just passing through."
  "Aw, cool! Are you real superheroes? Hey, that's neat! Too bad I
don't have my autograph book on me."
  "Ah, thank you," RLad managed.
  Then, FWLass, who had seemed to be listening to something, asked,
"What's the nearest crossposted article from"
  "Oh, that'd be the Cambridge pub crawl announcement, over there."
  "Why do you need to know that?" RLad asked.
  "Kid needs directions," she answered.
  "Who?" asked the young man.
  "Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story. You'll probably get to
meet him shortly," RLad answered in an attempt to overwhelm him into
shutting up. It didn't work.
  "Neat! Hey, are you here to fight villains or something? There
hasn't really been a good fight around here since the big battle by
the Red Army in _Interesting Times_..."

  Meanwhile, back in the Looniverse in alt.comics.lnh:
  Subplot Lad drew to a stop as he realised that he was actually
appearing in a story, but his pleasure did not last long as he
quickly remembered that it would only be in a subplot. The young
Latino sighed and continued on to see what the setup for future
stories would be.
  Standing waiting at the front desk was a man in his early twenties.
The receptionist did not seem to be around at the moment, so Subplot
Lad walked over. "Hi," he said. "Can I help you?"
  "Ah. Yes. I'm Chris." They shook hands. "I'm here to see if I can
get some lowdown on where Exclamation!Master! would be since he broke
out of jail."
  "Well, we do have some reports on his old headquarters and M.O.s
that might be useful, but he's a pretty dangerous customer. What with
his attempts to prove himself a master villain and everything, he's
capable of doing anything. Is there a particular reason why you'd
want to risk trying to find him?"
  Chris hesitated. "Yeah. He's... my father."

  After leaving Librarian Lady with the others, KidNAIARHS flew off
in a more or less upwards direction. Then, once he had attained the
height and free space he needed, he stopped and began searching.
  With senses tuned into the fundamental forces that shaped a reality
he looked out across the general discussion area, the heart of a.f.p.
  He ignored the esoteric stuff, like the greeny-orangy-purple flow of
magic, or the patterns of faith that linked gods and their
worshippers. He even passed over most of the forces of standard
physics, like the electromagnetic, and nuclear weak and strong
forces, and even the usual agents of energy degradation that resulted
from the second law of thermodynamics. All of his attention went
towards plain old gravity and its effects on the shape of space-time.
  What he was looking for became immediately obvious, and it
disturbed him that the damage to the fabric of the newsgroup had
advanced, cancer-like, to this point.
  Reaching out his arms, he began to shape the repairs. It was, to
put it mildly, very difficult. It had been a long time since he'd had
to do something like this; nowadays he mainly used this particular
power for repairing purely material things of necessarily small mass.
But even when he had first gained it there had been no intention for
it to be used over such a large area. Maxwell had given him these
powers of preservation - in exchange for his original ability to
disintegrate an object into entropically inert ylem - so that he
could assist the wizards in in what was now
referred to as the Io Intervention. Yet in that instance all that had
been needed had been to hold closed only a few hundred square
kilometres of dangerously warped space.
  Gritting his teeth, Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story set
about to hold the newsgroup together - dealing with the symptom while
the others dealt with the cause.

  Limp-Asparagus Lad quietly made his way into the chamber where the
Footnote Fiend was currently working.
  The hero had been mildly surprised to discover that he had merely
been teleported to another part of the Fiend's base; it seemed
incongruously fortuitous. If he were back in the Looniverse it would
have simply indicated that the climax of the villain's scheme was
imminent, and the Drama of the situation had arranged for someone to
be present to stop said villain at the last possible, nail-biting minute.
  Drama could be extremely childish at times. Nevertheless, it came
close to being an everyday occurrence in superhero (and superhero
parody) universes, so there was little point in worrying about it.
  The incongruity arose from the fact that was not
a superhero universe. The presence of the supervillain's fortress was
moderately easy to explain: the tendency of this newsgroup to discuss
almost anything could have brought it into existence - a piece of
flotsam left stranded when the tide of random thread topics had
receded. And, of course, such a base didn't need to be used by a
_super_villain. Any old villain would have sufficed, especially in
light of the fact that most of the place was not decorated in high
tech. Inscrutable Oriental masterminds, medieval tyrants with a
preference from impalings, Nazi sadists who were into beatings and
black leather... Any of these would have been perfectly acceptable.
  On the other hand, the Footnote Fiend could not so easily be
explained away. L-ALad doubted that even the Pratchettian tendency of
million to one chances popping up nine times out of ten could account
for the continued presence of such an out of genre person, or the out
of genre coincidence that had kept L-ALad within the villain's base.
That, along with other evidence, led him to believe that something
more than just a kidnapping and world conquest attempt were afoot.
  In any case, he had a villain to stop. He assessed the strategic
placement of the room's layout. He suspected that the Footnote Fiend
would be only moderately difficult to handle, but that the lumbering
footnote creatures would be more difficult, if only because of their
sheer numbers. He would have to be quick to keep ahead of them.
  The net.hero began his attack. He rushed at the Footnote Fiend
across the unfortunately wide expanse of open space between the two
of them, causing the villain to whirl around at the noise. Footnote
creatures immediately moved to intercept, but their description as
'lumbering' was apt, and they were too slow and clumsy to be
particularly effective. Panicked, the Fiend raised a gauntleted hand
and fired a hail of pellet-sized footnotes at L-ALad, hoping to rip
him to shreds with the machine gun-like firing of shrapnel. This, of
course, caused no more than minor bruising in He Who Is Limp In Both
Personality And Form.
  He took down the Fiend with a flying tackle and rolled, both so
that the villain took the brunt of the fall and so that he would have
the Fiend's body between himself and the still advancing footnote
  Everything seemed to be proceeding according to plan. As
anticipated, the Fiend's armour lacked the agility to dodge and
wrestle. Apparently it was some sort of power armour though, since
what it lacked in manoeuvrability it made up for in strength.
  Tenaciously holding a grip on his opponent's back and absorbing the
blows that the Fiend tried to land backwards upon him with his
elbows, L-ALad made a quick study of the villain's helmet, with
emphasis on how it was attached. It was a bulky dome-like affair,
affixed to the top of the armour rather than fitting about the head.
Then he steeled himself for leverage and wrenched it off.
  The Fiend stopped struggling, and the footnote creatures stopped
advancing. Good. Those were a few of the things he hadn't been
entirely sure of. He had gambled that the creatures would be directed
by conscious will, but had been prepared to beat a hasty retreat to
lure them away if the situation was otherwise.
  Limp-Asparagus Lad lifted the helmet and examined it. There was an
electronic voice modular inside the front, and a number of sockets
for wires that were clearly for electrodes to be attached to the
head; some of them still had such wires dangling from them. There was
also a word embossed on the inside: DARWC(tm). "Dork?" he mused. He
couldn't understand what that could mean.
  The helmet confirmed a number of things, as did the now aimless
wanderings of the footnote creatures. The Footnote Fiend was almost
certainly not the ultimate author of this madness. He glanced at the
unconscious Fiend's form, and recognised her face from the photos
that Librarian Lady had shown them. Her head was shaved and her skull
covered by what he guessed were some type of mind-controlling
telemprodes, but it was recognisably Petina Witherington-Brown.

Character Credits:
  Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story created by Badger (Matt
  Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton, created by Mystic
Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham)
  Chris, Fourth Wall Lass, Librarian Lady, Petina, Retcon Lad, and
Subplot Lad created by Saxon Brenton

All characters copyright and tm their owners and/or creators

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