Limp-Asparagus Lad #10 Petina Witherington-Brown's Schooldays Written by Saxon Brenton --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover is divided into thirds. In the top third Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story is standing in space, his arms outstretched with muscles tensed, a look of extreme effort on his face, and drenched in sweat. In the lower left third Fourth Wall Lass, Librarian Lady and Retcon Lad are running in a dramatic-looking manner. In the lower right third Limp-Asparagus Lad and Petina are sitting and talking. --------------------------------------------------------------------- There was a sigh from Petina as she began to regain consciousness. Limp-Asparagus Lad went over to the girl and knelt beside her. She opened her eyes, and looked around in dazed confusion. "Wha...?" "I would suggest you rest for a moment and get your bearings," L-ALad said in a calm, and - hopefully - calming voice. "You've been through a lot, but you are safe now." She half sat up on one elbow and blearily continued to look around. "Where am I?" "I am not sure of the exact location, but it's a fortress of some kind." "Uh-huh. And who're you?" "I am Limp-Asparagus Lad. I was accompanying your sister, Librarian Lady, to help find you." Her eyes widened. "My sist... _Librarian Lady_?" She snickered. "Oh, geez, of all the pretentious nonsense. Librarian Lady!" And then she cracked up completely. He waited as she calmed down from laughing. "I knew she'd gone to find work in one of the superhero fanfic groups, but... oh really. She's usually such an old sourpuss..." She snickered again, as she looked around. "Okay then. So what am I doing here? I don't remember..." "Are you sure you're feeling all right?" he asked, somewhat evasively. She shot him a look of irritation. "I feel fine. I'm just a little fuzzy on what's going on here. I remember... being in my room. And... Oh God." She was now staring at the armour of the Footnote Fiend that L-ALad had hastily tucked away in a far corner, in what he had hoped would be out of sight under some tables. Fortunately, as he had been releasing her from that armour he'd found that she was still in her school uniform beneath it. It had seemed that his Writer had concurred with the notion that getting her out of the armour would be a good idea to prevent her from having a nasty shock when she woke up from the mind control she had been under. There hadn't been any booby traps or anything of that type. Limp-Asparagus Lad waited as she quickly pulled herself together, albeit with visible effort. It was remarkable that it took her only a few seconds, but it was still clear - even to someone of his limited perception in emotive matters - that she was badly upset. He changed from a kneeling to sitting position and consciously adopted a casual-seeming position, remembering to shift his weight from time to time and perform other little actions that made him seem more approachable. He had discovered quite some time ago that his unique body language was something of a hindrance to interacting with new acquaintances. Simply put, he had an almost total lack of 'normal' body kinesics, which people tended to be put off by. For example, it took a few weeks for new members of the LNH to loosen up their own body language and not act stiffly when around him. This was usually how long it took for them to realise that just because he wasn't making the proper kinesic reactions to their own body language cues it didn't mean he was snubbing them. This, however, tended to be a drawback for a hero who put as much emphasis on getting people to talk to find rational, sensible solutions to their problems as L-ALad did. And so he had developed a technique of simulating more conventional body language to get people to relax around him. It wasn't particularly easy for him to do, since it had to be consciously directed, but it did work. A kind description of it was 'diplomatic', although a cynical interpretation could just as truthfully label it as outright hypocrisy. "So, would you care to talk about it?" he asked. "What's there to talk about?" Petina countered. "You have just been rescued from being used against your will in an insane attempt to conquer these worlds. Most people would be rather upset at being kidnapped and violated in that way," he pointed out, perhaps a little too bluntly. Petina shrugged. "I'll cope," she said shortly. "I always have before. My biggest problem at the moment will be finding my glasses." Limp-Asparagus Lad considered this briefly, then tried a different tack. "Then could you tell me something about who or what did this to you? It's possible that it may strike again, and will probably have to be dealt with." "What, in a fight scene between hyperthyroid dingbats dressed in long underwear?" she asked with amused sarcasm. "That's one possibility," he admitted candidly but without deliberate irony. "There are some among my companions who would certainly welcome the opportunity for some gratuitous mindless violence, although this need not be the case. But one way or another those responsible will have to be dealt with." Petina sagged back and sighed. "I don't remember much at all." She rubbed her temple. "Just... Being grabbed in my room was pretty much the last thing I remember clearly. After that I recall doing stuff as the Fiend, but it's all hazy. I was barely even properly conscious enough to call up the will to send off a call for help to Sharon. If you're here I guess she got it." "Actually, Retcon Lad found it. It made it to the right building though. That is quite close, across inter-newsgroup distances." "Right, well. Anyway, I don't remember anything from the time in between." He nodded in what he hoped was an encouraging manner. "Very well. Do you have any idea why they would be interested in you, specifically?" She looked embarrassed. "Because of my powers," she said, as if admitting to an hereditary disease. "You have powers?": She nodded, and a footnote fell into his lap. It read [Yes. I do.] "Getting superpowers... it's not the done sort of thing here on a.f.p. But that armour only boosted them; it didn't create then in the first place, although it did help in summoning the footnote creatures from their pocket dimension. Anyway, that'd be the reason." "That must have been a considerable shock." Petina shook her head. "Nah. This sort of thing keeps happening all the time," she contradicted matter of factly. "It's a pain more than a worry. The supervillain bit's a nasty new twist though. But I mean, I keep getting thrown into this sort of nonsense. All I've ever really wanted was to be left alone to read a book and get away with having to do the bare minimum of sport. And what do I get? Adventures. Regular as clockwork. I swear, if the Guides gave out merit badges for rescuing or being rescued from burning houses, solving murder mysteries to save a school friends' family fortune, or sneaking through secret passages in the cellar to chase after jewel smugglers on mist covered moorlands on moonlit nights, then I wouldn't know what to do with them all. Midnight gossip sessions on the roof are okay, though." "I find it difficult to believe that it could be that bad," L-ALad expressed his doubt. She gave him a cool look. "Oh really? How about this, then?" and she rolled up her sleeve and indicated one of two nasty scars on her upper arm. "See that? That's where I was mauled by the bear." "What were you doing to get mauled by a bear?" "All first formers have to wrestle with the school bear. It's one of the activities organised by the Flashman." "The who?" "Oh, sorry. That's the formal title given to the person who's the official School Bully. She's the one who you have to pay the bribes to if you want special privileges, like not being beaten up too many times a term, or the use of the escape tunnels. She runs most of the school social activities, like roasting people on the spits." This story was so amazing that it had actually caused a look of incredulity (albeit only a very faint one) to trek across L-ALad's face. "Then how are these things tolerated?" "Oh, it all has to do with Tradition," she replied dismissively. "Most of the boarding schools are very old and ridiculously hidebound. Traditions grow up and get carried on until in the end no one knows what they originally meant. At one of them the masters all used to perform a ceremony at their dinner, where they'd overturn their tables and sit in them like boats. Then they'd make paddling motions and chant this old song about 'holding fast'." She sniffed reflectively. "They probably still do, for all I know. And of course, even in the saner schools you still have to sit through hours of tedious old assemblies where the Head drones on about taking the butter dish to Balshaza and the tent peg to the House of Rashamon and chopping up goats and sticking the bits in little pots." Limp-Asparagus Lad didn't know what to make of all that, and so turned her attention to the other scar on her arm. "And that?" "Oh, that was the leopard," she said matter of factly. "You had to wrestle a leopard as well?" "No, no. You don't wrestle the leopard. At least, you don't set out to. It's just that one time I was late because I was caught up in the middle on an Adventure rescuing one of the lower form girls from kidnappers who'd snatched her as part of a plot to ruin her family. Anyway, one of the new teachers thought I'd escaped without paying Flashman, so naturally she sent the school leopard after me." "Strewth!" replied L-ALad in sympathy. Petina looked at him. "Why did you say that?" "Say what?" " 'Strewth'. Makes you sound like an Australian. I thought from your accent you were a merkin." This left him nonplussed. "I'm American." "That's what I said: a merkin." He decided to let that pass as well. "Am I correct in assuming, then, that you aren't entirely happy with the arrangements to return with us to alt.comics.lnh?" She looked at him. "Oh, I wouldn't dream of going against Sharon's wishes, of either leaving me here or taking me with her," she intoned with pious sarcasm. "But, no, I'm not 'entirely happy' with it. I can see myself getting dragged into some fight or other with mad scientists and supervillains and evil aliens... Who are the most obnoxious aliens over there, by the way?" "Most likely the Dorfs." "Right, well. The point is I probably won't be able to avoid them. Especially now that I've got powers. And the death rays of little green men will probably be a lot harder to dodge," she said. Then she mused, "You'd think that superpowers would've passed me over. I mean, I haven't got the figure for it." "Pardon?" "I mean, I don't look like Dolly Parton in zero gravity." Limp-Asparagus Lad considered this. There were indeed a lot of hugely muscled men and generously busted women in the LNH, but they tended not to be in his series. There was, of course, Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, but that was about all, and anyway, his physique was hardly obscenely Liefeldian. Retcon Lad was still pretty weedy looking (although truth be known he was starting to fill out with regular LNH training), which perhaps influenced his choice in adopting a loose fitting jumpsuit rather than spandex as his costume. Limp-Asparagus Lad himself was not quite so extremely undermuscled: to be so would have made him interestingly thin. He just looked... unremarkably normal. And Fourth Wall Lass, while not quite having a Magrat Garlick "flat-chested as an ironing board with a couple of peas on it" figure, was at the same time far and away from being so well endowed as Kay Sarah Sarah. "In all honesty, I don't think the standard superheroic physique is all that necessary in the Legion," he assured her. "Mmmf. Yes, well. I suppose if they'll take Sharon, they'll take anyone." There was a noise from outside the chamber they were in. It sounded a lot more active than the aimless wanderings of the still present footnote creatures. L-ALad held up his hand to indicate quiet, then got up and into a defensive posture. So did Petina. He was about to indicate that she take cover, when it occurred to him that if what she had been telling him was even half true, then she should be more than capable of taking care of herself. Still, it wouldn't hurt to ask for confirmation just in case she had been shamming. "Can you defend yourself?" he asked. "I'm good with a hockey stick," she replied, picking up a stick that just happened to be lying on one of the tables. "I thought you said you didn't like sport." L-ALad said. "I don't," she replied, giving the stick a few good thumps on the floor to check that it was solid. "But you have to remember that at St. Trinians, hocky sticks aren't used for _sport_." Uncertain of the significance of that remark, the hero silently moved to take cover, with the schoolgirl following suit. As it turned out, however, their precautions were unnecessary, as into the room burst Fourth Wall Lass and Retcon Lad in a particularly dramatic and noisy manner. Librarian Lady accompanied them, but with a bit more decorum. "Hello, everybody," L-ALad said. "Limpy! Hi! Sorry we're late," said FWLass. "So, where's the villain?" "That problem has been taken care of," he replied, making his way across to where he had stored the black power armour. "Petina here was in the armour of the Footnote Fiend. Someone took over her mind and forced her to use that identity," he explained succinctly. He picked up the black helmet and pointed inside. "You can see some of the mind control telemptrodes still left in there." "And how are you now?" Librarian Lady asked Petina. "Fine," she answered shortly, oblivious to her sister's consanguine concerns. "You know, that's an awful lot like what happened in _Legion of Occult Heroes_ #5," Retcon Lad mused. "I had noted the similarities myself," agreed L-ALad. Fourth Wall Lass slapped her forehead. "Oh, great! First story arc of the regular series and the Writer's already plagiarising other stories. This does not bode well, Limpy." "I rather doubt that is the case. There is an inconsistency in the scale of the respective modus oprandi," he disagreed. "What do you mean?" "Whatever used Bicycle Repair Lad was trying to affect the entire Net. Assuming the same force is responsible in this case, an attempt to take over one newsgroup, especially one of the limited alt groups, is a considerable reduction in its goals," the Man of Dull explained. "Well, look, I hate to seem pushy, but we haven't got much time," FWLass interrupted. "All the extra footnotes that Petina created as the Fiend are destroying alt.fan.pratchett." She turned to the girl, "Is there any way we can draw back all these footnotes?" Petina looked gravely worried. "No. I mean, not really. Creating them was always easy. Really easy. Even controlling the footnote creatures were easy. But erasing them, even if the boosters in the armour were working..." She licked her lips as she tried to think. "I might be able to fix it on my own," she hazarded. "What about the boosters? Can they be salvaged?" asked RLad. "The armour was rendered non-operative when I removed it," L-ALad replied. "Moreover, even if Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story where here to fix it, putting it on to use it would most likely only brainwash her into being the Footnote Fiend again." "I'll do it myself," Petina stated decisively. "Don't hurt yourself," LLady said. "Oh, what do you care!?" Petina flared. "If I'm out of the way you won't have to worry about me anymore!" Librarian Lady's face hardened, but Petina had already turned her back on her. The girl closed her eyes and stretched out her arms, as if reaching out to grab or enclose something. The others waited. High above the general discussion area, KidNAIARHS felt a weakening of the gravitational pressure he was fighting against. He allowed himself a smile; the others seemed to have succeeded. The decrease was in a localised but expanding ripple, so he assumed that the footnotes weren't disappearing all at once. Well, that simply made it easier to pinpoint the area from whence the abatement was originating. He continued on for a while, ensuring that as much of the damage as he could affect had been mitigated. Then he flew back in the general direction of the source of the reversal. Petina looked dreadful. Her face was contorted into an agony of effort, and blood was beginning to trickle from her nose and ears. L-ALad noticed the hard-edged concern on her LLady's face, and guessed that she was not quite so indifferent to her sister's welfare as Petina seemed to think. Then, with a cry of pain, the girl collapsed. LLady was by her side instantly, professionally checking her vital signs. "She is alive," she pronounced, "but she requires immediate medical care." Fourth Wall Lass nodded. "Good thing we stopped to take our bearings on where this place is on the way here," she noted. "I'll go and fly the net.thingee here. We can get her back to the LNHQ in almost no time." Then she took a step, and vanished. "Is she going to be all right?" asked RLad. "I think so," LLady replied. "But she's overexerted herself dreadfully, the brave little fool." Limp-Asparagus Lad looked around critically. "And even after all that, we still have yet to determine who or what is responsible." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Individual LNH roster entries: LIBRARIAN LADY (Sharon Witherington-Brown) TYPE: NWC CREATED BY: Saxon Brenton POWERS: Power to 'gorgonize' (intimidate people into keeping quiet by glaring at them at them and going "Shh!") ADD NOTES: Stereotypical grim and unforgiving librarian. Speaks fluent orang-utan. Elder sister of Footnote Girl COSTUME: Tweed skirt, white blouse, glasses, sensible shoes, hair in a bun FOOTNOTE GIRL (Petina Witherington-Brown) TYPE: NWC CREATED BY: Saxon Brenton POWERS: Creates footnotes; for the instant she creates the footnote she gets a flash of omnicognizance so that the details are correct, then she forgets it. Uses hockey sticks as weapons of choice ADD NOTES: Younger sister of Librarian Lady ORIGIN: _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #10 Character Credits: Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story created by Badger (Matt Rossi) Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton, created by Mystic Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham) Footnote Girl, Fourth Wall Lass, Librarian Lady, and Retcon Lad created by Saxon Brenton All characters copyright and tm their owners and/or creators --------------------------------------------------------------------- Adventures on the Letterspage #2 Letterspage Man flew across the chaotic void of the letterspage dimension on the final leg of his patrol. Ahead, at the heart of the mailstrom, was his destination - his home and base of operations, the DataDome. Then something caught his eye. He flew across to it, and as he approached it resolved itself into the form of an unconscious man dressed in a spandex costume. "By the typewriter of T.M. Maple," Letterspage Man exclaimed, noting that this fellow had suffered severe lacerations at one time. "What can he have been through?" However, the cuts seemed mostly healed, and LPMan was unable to discern why his current comatose state persisted. Deciding to investigate further, Letterspage Man picked up the man and carried him back to the DataDome. Once inside he placed the unfortunate on a meditable, and the device began its scans. Then LPMan turned his attention to his next duty: monitoring the letterspage columns. As the stranger began to regain consciousness, Letterspage Man's two not-so-faithful assistants, Hoot and Snob, came to tell him of the fact. "Excellent," replied the Commentary Crusader. "Now we shall see what this matter is about!" Letterspage Man strode to the infirmary, where the costumed man was sitting up on the edge of the meditable. "Ho, stranger. I trust you are feeling better?" "Yes, thank you," replied the other. "And it seems I have you to thank for that, since my own regenerative powers seem to have malfunctioned and browned out. But who are you? And what is this place?" Letterspage Man drew himself up to his full height and struck a heroic pose. "I am Letterspage Man, crusading hero and guardian of the letterspage dimension. From my base here in the mailstrom I patrol this world and monitor the letter columns of the various net.comics. For instance," he said, turning and activating a screen which displayed the following text: Mail on Limp-Asparagus Lad #8 [from Jamas Enright] [on Footnote Fiend's dialogue] You bastard. I hope you're happy with all the insanity you caused by doing that. :) (Although, I have to point out that they were more endnotes than footnotes. In comics, footnotes appear at the bottom of the panel.) - I'm a naughty boy <mischievous grin> Don't worry though, it wasn't going to be a long term gag. You're right about the endnotes/footnotes bit though; I was originally going to put it at the end of that scene, but moved it to the end of the story to be more in keeping with the way the posts on a.f.p. are done. End of scene would've been more comics-ish though (and easier to read as well :-). Decided to show your appreciation for things Pratchett, eh? Well, even though I don't read the group, I could recognise the topics (yes, even the bread :). Also, it gave you a good excuse for the homonyms. - Not only that, it's giving me the opportunity I need to intro Footnote Girl. I was originally going to wait a while before doing the a.f.p. x-over, but decided to do it first off so that I could start the FG running gag right from the word 'go'. Oh, and a proper ending (if rather limp, but that's appropriate :). Thank you. - And here I was expecting you to yell at me for drawing attention to the cliffhanger ending again :-) [from Dvandom (Dave Van Domelon)] Ooops, I forgot all about alt.telepathy myself (hey, it's been more than two *years* since Bellerophon Gambit). I guess that between multiple GIF-regenerations and stiffening of mental walls that Sig.Lad and Acton Lord's minds were effectively separate by the time of Bad Forms. - That's as good a reason as any :-) And it'll mean that Skysabre's eight years as Iron Eagle will keep Acton Lord out of his head too. Good KirbyMonster scene.... - Thanks.Back to the Index.