Limp-Asparagus Lad #34 Final Net Crisis On Looniearth-B Part 2 (of 3) Written by and copyright 1997 Saxon Brenton Artwork back to being done by Fr*d H*mback again. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover shows a scene from space as the Exponential Man reaches out towards Looniearth-B. The 'Crisis On Looniearth-B' logo runs across the top. The blurb running below the 'Limp-Asparagus Lad' logo proclaims: 'Final Net!'. In the panel border running down the left and right sides and along the bottom are the faces of the LNHers and LoHers, who look shocked (except for Limp-Asparagus Lad and Limp-Asparagus Lass, of course). --------------------------------------------------------------------- "I would kinda dispute the speed of their timeline... the oceans are a tremendous heat reservoir, and should take more than 4 days to freeze." - Dvandom, _Dave's Rant_ for _Final Night_ #1 What-In-Net.Hell-Is-Going-On-Here-Blurb: In _Net.Titans_ #38 three other-dimensional heroes (Lord Vincent Stomper of Looniearth-AA, Lean-Apples Lad of Looniearth-I, and the Fan.Boy of Looniearth-B) arrived in the Legion of Net.Heroes HQ on Looniearth-A to warn of the impending arrival of the Exponential Man on Looniearth-B. They wandered around through _Net.Titans_ #39, but it wasn't until _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #33 that they actually found some LNHers to warn, and then the plot thickened some more in _Lurker Lad_ #4. In _Lurker Lad_ #5 (part 1 of this crossover) the LNH organised a task force headed by Fearless Leader to travel via net.thingee to Looniearth-B. There, they found that the humanoid void known as the Exponential Man had already arrived and had begun its process of expanding to consume the entirety of Looniverse-B - beginning with the sun. Now read on: Roll Call (with the faces of the characters beside their names): Legion of Net.Heroes (of Looniearth-A) Fearless Leader Fourth Wall Lass Johnny Stomper Limp-Asparagus Lad Lurker Lad Retcon Lad Ultra League of Heroes (of Looniearth-B) Fan.Boy Hero Lad Limp-Asparagus Lass Mysterious Man Proto Lad Psi Girl and guest starring: Lord Vincent Stomper (of Looniearth-AA) Lean-Apples Lad (of Looniearth-I) There were a few members of the League of Heroes about the LoHHQ, as well as some other net.heroes. It seemed that the place was being used as a co-ordinating center for heroes against Looniearth-B's rapidly deteriorating condition, and there were people coming and going almost constantly. The LoH's leader, Hero Lad, had brought the newly arrived Legion of Net.Heroes members to the League's war room for a briefing and debriefing. This suited Fearless Leader quite well. It was a peculiarity of his position that while he preferred a thorough intelligence report on a situation in order to make a proper strategic situation, he only occasionally got it. After all, he was no longer in the military. He was in a net.hero team. And standard procedure for net.heroes was usually to rush straight into a problem and punch the villain's lights out. It was still something that bemused him a little, even after all these years. Despite being relatively new to the LNH's membership, Fearless Leader had had years of experience in net.heroing, mainly as the head of a Legion of Net.Heroes in _yet another_ parallel looniearth; one that had recently been destroyed by spham. [_Stranger Tales_ #4-7 - Footnote Girl] It was this accumulated experience which had prompted Ultimate Ninja to appoint Fearless Leader as deputy leader of the Legion after the outcome of the most recent leadership vote. [_1995 RACCies_ - Footnote Girl] A few seats away, Limp-Asparagus Lad sat down after having given his report, although his currently enlarged mass gave him a second or so of problems trying to fit properly into his chair. Like Fearless Leader, the Man of Dull had a preference for knowing the facts of a situation and then using them to create a coherent offence and defence (rather than just summarising so that the readers in the audience knew who the badguys were, what their net.ahuman abilities were, and what fiendish schemes they had concocted). L-ALad had just given a precise and concise summation for the benefit of the Leaguers, outlining the events leading up to the arrival of the LNH team on Looniearth-B, which you in the audience already know about because you've read both _Lurker Lad_ #5 and this issue's 'What Has Gone Before' blurb, right? Hero Lad said, "Thank you, Limp-Asparagus Lad. I guess that covers things from your end. Which brings us to what has been occurring here. In simple terms, things look grim. The Exponential Man ate the sun less than a day ago, and the Looniearth is already beginning to freeze solid. Worse, it looks like he's going to keep on expanding until he consumes the entire Looniverse. Limp-Asparagus Lass will give us the full details." Around the table the Maid of Dull stood up. Beside her Looniearth-B's Fan.Boy gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, to which she gave a brief and clinical acknowledgment before stepping to the head of the table. "The being that we have come to refer to as the Exponential Man appears to be a humanoid-shaped void, at least partially extradimensional in nature, with a propensity for consuming all matter and energy that it comes in contact with. It doubles in size on average every one hundred and seventy six minutes, with a leeway of plus or minus eleven minutes. Given the information provided by Fan.Boy, Lord Stomper and Lean-Apples Lad on the nature of the Exponential Man's attack on other universes, it seems we can anticipate no end to this growth pattern until the entirety of Looniverse-B is consumed. "The Exponential Man was first detected some thirty-eight hours ago, at a point on the far side of the sun and skewed slightly to one side." She taped a few keys on the consol before her and brought up an image on the display screen at the front of the room. "This first view was, naturally, obscured by the glare from the sun, but computer enhancement gives us this picture." She pointed to the upright, vaguely oblong shape to the right of the masked-off disc of the sun. It was black against the star-field, and interestingly there didn't seem to be any blurred outline of stars that would indicate gravitational lensing. "At this point the Exponential Man was some 6 thousand kilometres tall, approximately twenty percent as large again as the planet Mercury. "Over the next twenty-four hours it increased in size in eight discrete increments, finally consuming the sun. This created an incidental but no less catastrophic problem. By cutting off the Looniearth's source of heat and light, it has sent the planet into an ice age. Even if the expansion of the Exponential Man were slow enough to actually allow time for it, this world would become uninhabitable for life as we know it within approximately another twenty-seven hours. "Hasn't it been a bit quick for the plant's temperature to drop so fast?" protested Lean-Apples Lad. "I mean, the oceans alone should be an enormous heat reservoir. The circulation of currents like the Gulf Stream should keep things stable for at least the day needed to drive off the E-Man and get the sun back." "Most likely conventional physics are being overridden by Drama," noted Limp-Asparagus Lad, somewhat disapprovingly. Fearless Leader looked sharply at the Man of Dull. Naturally he was aware of Limpy's antipathy to Drama; but as long he had known the mutant net.hero it had always been a clinical, logical dislike. That last remark had almost been... What? Distaste? Fearless Leader had heard muted innuendo from the Legion Rumour Mill that the mysterious departure of Redemption at the end of the Leftovers arc had been because Limp-Asparagus Lad had done something unspeakable to him - possibly even killed him. The Ultimate Ninja knew the truth of the situation, and had retained the Man of Dull, so the LNH Deputy had more or less ignored the gossip. Now he began to wonder if the rumours that Limp-Asparagus Lad was having trouble controlling himself may have some basis in truth. Filing the thought away for future investigation, Fearless Leader said, "Unfortunately true. The readers of comic books like their catastrophes condensed into manageable pieces. If this story was set in the past and being told through flashback, then a long-drawn history of suffering could be compressed into a short description. Since this is happening on-panel we're getting the reverse effect: the actual duration of the events is being compressed to more or less match the duration of the narration, meaning a rapid advance to the brink of destruction." Limp-Asparagus Lass nodded. "All the conventional indicators of the onset of an ice age - except for albedo, which has been rendered irrelevant due to the lack of light to reflect back into space - has been greatly hastened. Blizzard conditions have isolated most communities; plant deaths and crop failures have already reached grave levels; the interior of the planet is beginning to cool and congeal; and glaciation is already under way. The size of the Alt.arctic ice sheet alone has already increased by seven percent." Johnny Stomper frowned. "Why should the loss of sunlight affect the Looniearth's interior temperature? Most of the planet's internal heat comes from natural radioactive decay." "I believe I can answer that," said Lord Vincent. "It has to do with the principles of magical sympathy. The spirit of the Looniearth, Mother News.Gaeat, has dominion over all the natural world, being the embodiment of the life-force of the planet. That doesn't just include the biosphere driven by sunlight on the surface of the world. It includes the whole planet; surface, crust, mantle, and molten core." Psi Girl sighed and poked out her tongue with a 'bleah' of disgust. "And of course, it would be too much to hope that the heat of the planet's interior could flow back up the link, allowing News.Gaeat to maintain the organic life on the surface for an extended period even if photosynthesis can't take place." "I'm afraid not," confirmed Lord Stomper. "Drama again, I'm sad to say." Retcon Lad gave a grim and ironic grin. "Fanboy logic. Doncha love it." Lord Vincent looked at him, "Fanboy logic _is_ one of the basic principles of the looniverses." Across the table Fan.Boy didn't look to happy with this accolade. Lord Vincent turned back to Limp-Asparagus Lass and the rest of the group. "That would also tend to explain why the oceans are beginning to freeze so quickly. Normally they _would_ constitute an enormous heat reserve, and would actually retard the effects. However, with the crisis at hand causing with the soul of the world to succumb, the effects are being propagated faster than mere physics would normally allow." Fourth Wall Lass shifted in her seat. "You mentioned that the Exponential Man would destroy the Looniearth first. What sort of time frame are we looking at to stop him?" And of course it was automatically assumed that they would stop it, somehow. After all, they were net.heroes; it was unthinkable that they would fail. "At this point the Exponential Man is some three billion kilometres tall, easily taller than the orbit of the Looniearth, but not as wide. If its projected growth rates hold correct, it will consume the Looniearth in approximately another seven and a half hours - within three more increments of increase, and the entire Looniverse within seven days. Then, apparently, it will move on to Looniverse-A." Around the table there was a stirring at this calm pronouncement of doom. The Legionnaires were in states that, at the mildest, were very surprised. The Leaguers expressions were set in grim masques of determination. As L-ALass returned to her seat, Hero Lad took the floor again. "And that's about it. The League is making arrangements for an attack on the Exponential Man in about half an hours time. The plan is for a psionic assault to force the E-Man back along the path it took to get here, hopefully restoring the sun, and with any luck the other universes it swallowed along the way." "Uh... I hate to be a doom merchant," offered Retcon Lad, "but when the Overmind tried that on the Nth Man in the Squadron Supreme graphic novel, his head went 'boom'." Hero Lad nodded grimly. "We've taken that into consideration. Apart from the fact that Psi Girl will be fronting for a world.wide.mind.web of every psi we could muster on this planet, they'll also be protected with a positively charged piece of plot devicium. In order to get enough of it we had to take Celestial Kid off of his project to heat Net.ropolis with energy from 'negative molecular motion'." [The next page is very George Perez in layout. It has a thin vertical panel without borders running down the left hand side, showing Hero Lad in profile. The rest of the page has four horizontal panels, each of them bleeding out from the shadows at the back of Hero Lad's image.] The LoH Leader said, "Meanwhile, we've got most of the net.heroes on earth doing relief work - for when we finally get rid of the Exponential Man and turn the sun back on." As he says this the other four panels, each with rounded borders, shows events happening more or less simultaneous with Hero Lad's pronouncement: In Slightly-Off-Center-City, L-Force (Tongue-O, Baseball Boy, Super Mucous Membrane Man, and Fingernail Man) were rescuing people from a car pile-up that had occurred on the slippery, snow-covered roads. Outside of Net.ropolis, Molecular Lad and Mighty Boy delivered much needed medical supplies to an impromptu refugee shelter. In Got.net, the Sensory Squad aided rescue services in finding the victims of a collapsed building, suing their heightened senses to detect both life signs and bodies under the rubble. And high above Net.ropolis, Virtue guided gently toward the ground a jet aeroplane whose wings had iced up. (Back at the briefing). "So, that's it," concluded Hero Lad. "Any further questions?" "Well, it would be nice to know why this Mysterious Person sent Fan.Boy et al over to Looniearth-A to get help from the Legion but didn't give any details," mused Fourth Wall Lass. She turned to He Whose Enthusiasm For Net.Hero Comics Knows No Bounds and asked, "Do you have any idea who he was or what he was intending?" "I'm afraid not," Fan.Boy lied. Fourth Wall Lass looked thoughtful. "If we had more time I would have liked to cross the fourth wall and go back to have a good look at who he was and where he gets his information." This observation caused Fan.Boy, Lord Stomper and Lean-Apples Lad much anxiety, but they hid it well. Then FWLass shrugged. "Oh well. Can't be helped I suppose." Proto Kid spoke up. "I have to admit I'm intrigued by the method Lord Stomper used to drive off the E-Man before. Could such a thing be done again?" Lord Vincent Stomper considered. "Probably not. Not only is the level of available retcotheric energy in this universe lower than at home, but the Exponential Man has increased in both size and power. I doubt if there is any purely magical method to create a plot hole both large enough and powerful to push it through. Mind you, it's not another _physical_ hole that we need. We don't just want to be rid of this entity - that would still leave you without a sun. We need to reverse its path." "A plot hole does not need to be a physical portal," Ultra agreed. "All it needs to be is a rationale for an otherwise implausible occurrence." "Yes," the Enchanter's Explainer said, now looking contemplative. "It takes a considerable amount of magic to make physical changes in the world, but affecting someone's mind - with illusions and charms and geases - that would take less power." "If you create a plot hole with the help of Retcon Lad and Mysterious Man, you an use it to booster Psi Girl's mind.web," suggested Fearless Leader. He cast a look at the latter three. Psi Girl nodded; this plan actually seemed to be becoming more workable as it was refined. Retcon Lad saw no real problems with it; as long as he had some sort of quasi- plausible rationale to work with he would be fine. Mysterious Man, being mysterious, just nodded. Lurker Lad spoke up. "It might be an idea to call up Plot Device King as well." "As I recall, he left the Legion for solo net.heroing in parts unknown in _Net.Titans_ #37," said Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Is it plausible to attempt to find him in the time that is left to us?" "It's worth a try," said Lord Stomper, perhaps a little too hastily. Then, more calmly, he explained, "It will still take some considerable power to create a plot hole capable of affecting the mind of an entity several billion miles tall." Then to Lurker Lad he asked, "Do you have anything that belongs to or relates to him that I could use for a summoning spell?" Lurker Lad thought. "He still has his flight-ring.thingee. They were specific to the Net.Titans subgroup. Would that do?" Lord Stomper nodded. Around the table Fan.Boy and Lean-Apples Lad felt immense relief. Plot Device King _would_ be involved in this after all. Meanwhile, back on Looniearth-A The doors to the LNHQ foyer opened. Kyoko looked up and spied a seven foot tall, green coloured, extremely hairy semi-humanoid with bat-like wings, pointy ears, and fangs knuckling towards her. She sighed. .oO(Another supervillain,) she guessed. Nevertheless, she went through the spiel. "Hello. Welcome to the Legion of Net.Heroes' Headquarters. Would you please specify whether: A) You are here to apply for membership of the Legion, in which we have a membership applications that you will have to fill out before we can begin testing your net.ahuman abilities. Or B) You are here to request help from the Legion, in which case we will need to know the nature of your emergency before a suitable strike force can be assembled. Or C) You are a supervillain here to attack the Legion, in which case we have several rostered net.heroes on standby to engage you in the confrontation or gratuitous fight scene of your choice." The giant hairy wossname sat patiently through this, carefully listening to the options. When Kyoko had finished, it rumbled, "None of those. I'm called Garbage Guts, and I'm here to visit Retcon Lad and Fan.Boy. Are they about?" Looniearth-B: The assembled net.heroes watched Lord Stomper prepare for the summoning spell. He was making a few suitably occult looking preparations, then began to chant. Then, as pre-arranged, Retcon Lad began to concentrate to bend probabilities towards maximising the mage's success (poking his tongue out with the effort of concentration as he did so). There seemed to be some type of feedback; no doubt because of the difficulties of rummaging around in other dimensions to find Plot Device King. Then Mysterious Man joined in as well, and Retcon Lad felt the resistance lessen. Mysterious Man refused to say exactly what he was doing, or how, but there was no doubt that he was certainly making things easier. And then, almost anticlimactically, Plot Device King appeared. He looked about. "What's going on here?" "Hello PDK," said Lurker Lad, stepping forward. "We've got a bit of a problem, and we were hoping you could help us out with it." To be concluded in 'Attack Of The 50 Million Foot Tall Man', Part 3 of the Crisis on Looniearth-B in _Lurker Lad_ #6. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Appendix: Ask The Answer Maniac Q: What's the history of Looniearth-B? A: Looniearth-B is another net.earth existing in a parallel looniverse to the one that the mainstream Legion of Net.Hero stories take place in (Looniearth-A, among other designations). The two of them nominally share a relationship similar to Earth-1 and Earth-2 did in the pre-Crisis DC Multiverse. Looniearth-B's first appearance was in the _Net.League of Heroes_. This series, which ran under the LNH/LF imprint, was never archived. The NLH was notable for the fluidity of their team roster (as was it's successor, the League of Heroes), and for the fact that during their nearly three score issue run between October 1994 and January 1995 they faced no less than three universe-imperilling cosmic crises, the third of which destroyed Looniverse-B - although it was later brought back in _League of Heroes_ #2. The first was 'Forever's End' (_NLH_ #11-16) which saw the teaming up of the NLH with the world war II era heroes of Looniearth-B the Golden Agency, the Sorcerers Society of Looniearth-H, the Net.Squadron of Looniearth-F, and the Phantom Fighters of Looniearth-Z. The latter three worlds were all destroyed in the course of the story arc by the cosmic machinations of Master Retcon before he in turn was destroyed in battle. The second was slightly misnamed 'Titans of Two Worlds' (_NLH_ #35-37, with a prologue of sorts in #34). The survivors of the four guest-star groups from #11-16 were revealed to have formed a new Golden Agency and travelled to a new world: Looniearth-Y, a net.earth still trapped in world war II. The NLH, the Golden Agency, and the Net.Man family of Looniearth-D teamed up against the mutual threat of the Matrix, and defeated it, but only after the destruction of Looniearths -Y and -D. The surviving heroes reformed the NLH, although many of the survivors from other net.earths would leave for other dimensions again in #43. Finally, Looniearth-B, and its universe, were destroyed in #54 as a result of a battle between Paradox and Timeslip, with the latter managing to spirit the nearby NLHers to safety on Looniearth-A. This group included the alien mystic from the planet New Vulcan known as Apparition. Apparition was to would stay on Looniearth-A and join the Legion of Net.Heroes as Kid Mysticism after the rest of the NLHers departed Looniearth-A. In _League of Heroes_ (still under the LNH/LF imprint) #2 the NLHers picked up a few companions from Looniearth-W (a world devastated by flamewars) before discovering the universe of Looniearth-B which had been recreated in the Reboot. The extent to which _any_ of the above history of Looniearth-B is relevant post-Reboot is debatable. In #3 the members of the Net.League of Heroes reorganised themselves into the League of Heroes. Thereafter followed more adventures alongside other net.hero groups from Looniearth-B (the League of Alt.ernate Heroes and the L.E.A.G.U.E. in 'Looniversal Midnight' in _LoH_ #7-10) and from other universes (the Newbie League of Looniverse-VS in _LoH_ #17). In the meantime a number of tangential series ran for short runs: the LoHer Crimson Continuity Crusader got his own title of the same name, _Kid Quick_, _Molecular Lad_, _Sensory Squad_, and _L-Force_ (the latter by Brian Ekberg). --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: Fearless Leader and Kyoko are Public Domain. Fourth Wall Lass and Retcon Lad created by Saxon Brenton. So are the Exponential Man and Limp-Asparagus Lass, who were created with Ben Rawluk's help. Garbage Guts created by Saxon Brenton. Based on concepts ultimately deriving from WEG's Torg role playing game. Johnny Stomper created by Josh Geurnik. Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham (Chaos and Entropy incarnate)). Lurker Lad is Public Domain, reserved by Ben Rawluk. L-Force created by Brian Ekberg. Lean-Apples Lad, Lord Vincent Stomper, Ultra and pretty much everybody else on Looniearth-B not already cited created by Ben Rawluk. All characters copyright 1997 their owners and/or creators. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: Garbage Guts last appeared in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #17, during the visit to alt.games.torg as part of the crossover with _Fan.Boy_Back to the Index.