Limp-Asparagus Lad #41 A Legion of Net.Heroes title "Food" part one Written by and copyright 1999 Saxon Brenton Art by Fred H*mback Writer's Acraphobe note: This story arc contains some horror themes and minor sexual references. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover shows the faces of Retcon Lad, Fourth-Wall Lass, and Limp- Asparagus Lad (all with their eyes closed) in a line along the bottom. Towering over them is a shadowy figure in black and purple, silhouetted on a background of black and purple swirling patterns. The cover's blurb announces the story title: 'Food'. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Limp-Asparagus Lad walked through what seemed like an unending series of corridors in the funeral parlour as he went to visit his girlfriend, Mary-Ann. There was something vaguely wrong with that, but he couldn't identify exactly what. When he arrived, she was dressed in prison fatigues. That, at least, was more reasonable under the circumstances. Her red hair contrasted strongly with the grey material. She looked at him with hard green eyes and said, "What do you want?" "I have come to visit." "I don't want you to visit." There was hostility in her voice. Mildly curious, he asked, "Why not?" "You don't love me." "Yes I do." "You can't love me. I took away your love as punishment when you sent me to prison." Limp-Asparagus Lad paused, trying to think that statement through. His thoughts were sluggish, but there was a rather obvious flaw in that statement. "You didn't take away my love. You took away something else, which happened earlier in any case." As if to contradict his words, Mary-Ann, now dressed as the net.villainess Senses Lass, held up a human heart. Limp-Asparagus Lad's heart. It was a bright, shocking pink colour. Limp-Asparagus Lad looked at it, and felt a vague sense of deja vu. As he watched, the heart - his heart - burst into flames. Simult- aneously, there was a detonation of flame from the hole in his chest where the heart should be. Limp-Asparagus Lad looked down at his chest, from where the flames were rapidly spreading to the rest of his body. Distantly, as though muffled through several kilometres of cotton wool, he felt pain. He looked at Senses Lass again, who was still holding his burning heart. "That is wrong. You never took my love," he repeated. "You took my libido." Immediately, the burning item was no longer his heart. Instead, it was his penis. "How Freudian," Limp-Asparagus Lad said. Then everything more or less made sense. "I am dreaming." And then he woke up. Right from the outset let me make it clear that Joshua Asimov - aka Limp-Asparagus Lad - did *not* wake up with a gasp. He did not sit bolt upright, and nor was he drenched in cold sweat. Joshua opened his eyes as he lay on his back in bed, and stared at the ceiling for a few seconds. .oO( What an unusual dream, ) he thought. And then amended, ( For me, at any rate. ) Joshua knew that in his circumstances it would be reasonable for most men to be having panic dreams about castration. What he considered strange was that it had taken so long for the panic dreams to start trying bother him. After all, it had been more than a year since Senses Lass had confiscated his libido while she was under the effects of emotion control. ( it had taken the form of a small sphere rather than the more literal shape he had just dreamed about, but it *had* been shocking pink ) However, Joshua was not most men, and he usually faced the situation with serene equanimity. After all, once Mary-Ann was released from prison his libido would be put back. They had also arranged to get married a short while after that (at which point Joshua would probably loose his virginity too). So, really, there was nothing about the situation that time would not eventually sort out. In fact, his condition occasionally came in useful; it was nigh impossible for villainesses who had seduction powers to control a man who didn't feel desire. Splashpage had discovered that when she had fought Lipid-Arteries Lad and himself [ _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #12 - Footnote Girl]. Moreover, if 'wryness' was an emotion that Joshua held truck with, then he believed that he would 'wryly suspect' rather just 'suspect' that he was one of the few men in the Legion of Net.Heroes who didn't feel the instinctive impulse to drool whenever Skunk Girl was around. [Normally, Limp-Asparagus Lad would have used Panta as the subject of this comparison, but due to the events of _Tales of the LNH_ #370 Panta's presence in the LNH has been retconned out of common knowledge - Footnote Girl] All of this ran through Joshua's head in a matter of seconds, and then he wondered, .oO( So why did I just have that dream? ) He didn't have an answer to that. .oO( Perhaps I had better have a talk to Special-Bonding Boy about it. The situation may be analogous to Vulcan Bendii Syndrome: I may have emotions that I rigidly control but which I could loose mastery of. ) Then a tangential thought occurred to him: .oO( If emotionless is part of my mind rather than my mutant powers, then is it even psychologically healthy for me to be suppressing them? ) After a moment of introspection Joshua realised that there were sounds of typing coming from the living room. He wondered how long they had been going on for; had he been so distracted that he hadn't noticed them until only just now? Joshua looked at the clock beside his bed; it was just after six am. He decided he may as well get up and go and fix some breakfast. It was Terri (aka Fourth Wall Lass) who was working at the computer, doing word processing. She had gone out last night with Joe (Retcon Lad) and then stayed over. Joshua recalled that it was currently her turn to do Storyline Reclamation, which might explain why she was sitting before the word processor at 6 o'clock in the morning, sweating blood trying to get some draft versions of dialogue done. Hmm? What's that? You don't know what Storyline Reclamation is? Ah, well, pull up a chair and let me explain... See, writing for the Legion of Net.Heroes is a voluntary exercise. And sometimes - because of losing net access, or because of time constraints, or just because we're having our legs gnawed on by the dreaded Writers Block Beast - Writers just don't get around to finishing off their stories. This is where Storyline Reclamation comes in. The various net.heroes in the LNH each get rostered onto a monthly working group to finish off stories that their collective Writers have left uncompleted, the scripts for which are then submitted to the LNH:TAS cartoon series. And since as everybody knows the continuity of the cartoon series is *never* anything like the continuity of the comic books, the LNHers don't really have to worry about whether the Writer in question will ever actually get around to finishing off the original story or whether the resolution of their version will be anything like what the original Writer imagined. The plotlines of the two versions would be completely different, regardless of which version is finished first. For example, the resolution of LNH:TAS version of the Fan.Boy/Misfits crossover was absolutely nothing like what was finally posted to rec.arts. comics.creative. By the same token, the posted versions of the Marvel_Zombie Boy miniseries and Birds Fly will probably look a lot different from their cartoon versions if they ever get completed, and this will almost certainly also be the case if Cry Apathy and the SquidMan mini ever get *started*. And of course, it isn't just unfinished plotlines that Storyline Reclamation cannibalises either. Currently, Fourth Wall Lass was struggling to make a non-dream sequence story out of the meteor impact dream sequence from _Dvandom Force_ #90. She had some pretty nifty dialogue for the net.heroes out in space, plus some scaremongering from the likes of McLaughlin Man and Limbaugh Man, and a scheme by Acton Lord to use the confusion to... (yes Pinky...) Take Over The World! Terri looked up as Joshua walked past towards the kitchenette. "Morning," she said. "Good morning. Would you like some breakfast?" "Yeah. Cheesecake please." Then she grinned as Joshua looked at her. "Sorry, couldn't resist that." "I could tell," Joshua said, deadpan. "Just some coffee and toast for me. Well, more coffee and toast, really. I've been nibbling on and off the whole time I've been at this." "Did you have sudden inspiration then?" "Hardly. I couldn't sleep," Terri said. Joshua noticed her mood suddenly turned sombre. She stared past the computer and frowned in what looked like she had a migraine. Actually, she was remembering... Terri was backing up and away from the noisome shambling corpses. The corpses weren't attacking - at the moment anyway - but recent experience said that they would if she tried to escape in any direction other than the one they were herding her towards: the top of the pyramid. Terri wiped her face with the back of her hand, not so much scraping off any of the mud and zombie ichor as spreading it around a bit more. Her eyes darted to and fro, searching for an opening in their cordon, but none was there that she could see. Still breathing heavily from when she had tried to run, she took another step backwards. Up towards the top of the pyramid. She really didn't want to go up there. That was where They were. The alien comic book writers who had come to the Looniearth by sneaking around the fourth wall, and set up their base of operations in South Ame.rec.a. Spurred by her escorts, she slowly edged up the steps of the Incan pyramid. Another zombie lurched forward, taking a powerful and surprisingly fast swipe at her with bony claws. In order to avoid being hit and clawed and perhaps loosing more blood, Terri took another reluctant pace backwards and upwards. From here, a quarter of the way up, Terri could make out the avenues of cyclopean stone that spread out from the pyramid's base. Beyond, perpetually out of reach, was the safety of the Peruvian jungle. The whole place was in the partial darkness of an extended twilight, offset only slightly by an unnaturally large full moon that had risen and was now stubbornly sitting atop of the pyramid. Bizarrely, most of the moon's glow adhered to the gargantuan structure, outlining it with an unholy halo of light. Terri made a feint to one side, then dodged back, trying to use her weight to knock over a corpse. She succeeded to some extent, the zombie went sprawling. Others, however, nimbly moved in as she tried escape back down the steps, grabbing at her hair and clothes and flesh. With panicked desperation she lashed out with self-defensive moves that would have incapacitated living opponents. A vicious thrust with one arm tore a zombie's limb off. A kick into a midsection crushed bone and sent entrails dribbling. And all the while at the back of Terri's mind, ignored in the fear of the moment, was the observation that she shouldn't be able to do those sort of moves if she hadn't joined the Legion of Net.Heroes yet. The zombies won out. They didn't claw too much, but with slimy holds they grabbed her and manhandled her up the steps. Towards the top of the pyramid. As they drew close, Terri could see the hole in space that occupied the centre of the summit. It gave the impression of whirling; the edges were irregular, and crawled. Things could be seen beyond it. Still unheeded, part of herself was screaming that this isn't the way it had happened; this isn't how she had gotten her powers. The zombies dragged her closer towards the hole. It emitted a strange light. Terri chanted to herself, "It's only the fourth wall, it's only the fourth wall, it's only the fourth wall..." Spectral beings, not so much seen as _perceived_ stepped forward. They were dressed in Incan regalia, and grabbed ahold of her as the zombies gave her up to them. Their grasp was *cold*. They continued to push her forward, until she stood on the threshold of the hole. Terri saw things through the hole. She wanted to closed her eyes, but couldn't. Then they shoved her through. And that was when she had woken up, screaming. Terri shook her head. "Actually, I had a bad dream," she confided to Joshua. Then she shrugged. "Nothing much to worry about, really, but it kind of put me out of the mood for sleep." "I also had a bad dream," admitted Joshua. "Really?" she said. Perhaps irrationally, her experience made her reluctant to talk about her own nightmare and inadvertently eager to change to another topic. "Anything truly dreadful?" Then she made a face. "Sorry, that was morbid." "Perhaps," he agreed. "I do not mind though. It was merely a Freudian dream about my libido," he said, and unselfconsciously described it to her. She listened, then said, "Yeah, that makes sense under the circum- stances. If you think about it, you might even be happy enough to actually get one of those every now and then, just to prove you're human." That made Joshua pause in mild surprise. "I had not considered that," he admitted. Terri grinned. "There you go then, you learn something from the rest of the human race every day. But getting back to your original question, I thought that as long as I was up, I might make a stab at the reclamation of _Miscreants_ #1. Joshua nodded. The Writer Cornelius von Olenhusen had said he'd like his initial post taken out of continuity so that he could rework it for a future story; which made it prime material for being reclaimed for the LNH:TAS cartoon. "Anyway," Terri continued, "I did some work on it, and then some work on some other stuff, and... Well, I don't know. To be perfectly honest I think I've been channelling my inner hack, 'cause just this second I've realised that most of what I've written so far is crap. I probably shouldn't be typing this early in the morning." She slumped in her chair. "You know, it's all well and good for Douglas Adams to say that the way to get a story written is to stare at the paper until your forehead bleeds, but that doesn't actually mean that what you write will be any *good*. Sorry," she said. "I'm rambling." She blinked and looked out the window at the approaching dawn. "What time is it, anyway?" "It is after six." "Blurk. I should have stayed in bed with Joe having snugglebunnies," she grumbled, saving the work she'd typed so far. Joe woke up from what felt like a bad dream. He felt like death warmed over, and not for the first time he cursed Nicieza's Sledgehammer of Angst(tm). Originally the young man had been from one of the X-Men fanfic universes, and when he had been transported wholesale from that universe into the Looniverse he had brought along a tiny bit of x-angst with him, and quite often it made him crawl out of bed in the mornings feeling all sh*tty and 'orrible for no reason other than the fact that that's how angsty mutants were supposed to feel. Since Joe knew for a fact that the few bad things in life couldn't possibly justify feeling like this he steadfastly ignored it with a determined bloodymindedness, but that didn't stop the angst from creeping up on him in the middle of the night. Absently he scratched the palm of his hand, ignoring the itchiness he felt there and instead grimacing at the taste of bile in his mouth. Time to get up, go to the bathroom and stick his fingers down his throat to induce vomiting again. He hoped no-one else was there already. God he hated angst. As he leaves the room, the point of view pans back towards the shadows in the corner. Joe should have been paying more attention to that corner: a half-seen figure lurks there. And he should have paid attention to the itchiness of his hands too. By the time Joe arrived in the living room Joshua had prepared some breakfast for him as well, which Joe received gratefully. After all three of them had sat down for breakfast, Terri decided to see what was on the morning news. She used the remote to turn on the television, and then flipped through the channels. The first two had cartoons, while the third was showing Telnet Tubbies (Tin.key Win.key was making Telnet Tubby toast for Dir.psy, La.lag and I/O). The fourth channel had the Limbaugh Man Show, which Terri prudently skipped over on the grounds that it wasn't a news program. Finally: "...and in other news, the world famous headquarters of the Legion of Net.Heroes has gone missing." "What, again?" chorused Terri and Joe. "Yes, again," affirmed the newsreader. "How inconvenient," observed Joshua. The operative word, of course, was 'again'. This sort of thing happened from time to time. It was more a matter of irritation than of catastrophe. Terri sighed. "You know, I was supposed to lend out some of my class notes to someone who was sick last Tuesday," she said. "That'll teach me to leave them in a locker in a net.hero base." Then she spread some peanut butter onto another slice of toast. "I wonder what happened this time?" Joe mused, scratching the palm of his hand. As the screen showed footage of the spot where the LNH(optional second H here)Q normally stood, the voiceover continued: "Statements issued to the Net.ropolis police by Writers Block Woman and Mouse imply that the building was stolen by the notorious international thief, Carmen SanFrancisco." [in _Writers Block Woman (and Mouse)_ #33 - Footnote Girl] "Really?" said Terri. "Well, they're both professionals. I'm sure they'll have no problem getting it back in time for whatever the next big crossover is." "That's true, I guess," Joe agreed. Then he glanced in irritation at his hands. "Have we got any Calamine Lotion left?" he asked, standing up and heading for the medicine cabinet. "There should be more than half a tube left." "What's wrong?" asked Terri. "Feels like I've been picking poison ivy. If I keep this up, I'm going to peel the skin clear off the palms of my hands." "So what did you do to it?" Terri wondered. "Nothing that I can think of," he said as he rubbed his hands together, spreading the lotion. "It might be an allergic reaction of some type," suggested Joshua. Joe shrugged. "I'll drop in at the medical clinic on campus this afternoon before class." Terri nodded, then looked thoughtful and changed the subject. "Anybody up for some net.heroing?" she asked as she picked up a doughnut that she had smuggled to the table and dunked it in her coffee. "I mean, if the LNHQ is missing, it might be an idea to do some patrolling and, well, you know, just be visible. I haven't got classes until this afternoon; same with Joe. What about you, Josh?" "I have nothing planned before an evening tutorial," he monotoned. "A patrol sounds like an excellent idea." "Looks like we have a plan then," agreed Joe. "Okay then," agreed Terri, and took a bite of her doughnut. In the background, the theme song to 'Twin Peaks' was playing on the radio, and for a second she felt a sudden chill of foreboding. .oO( Must be the frisson of the music and the doughnut, ) she decided, before putting it out of her mind. A half hour later, the three of them appeared in downtown Net.ropolis, just in front of police headquarters. They had made their way there unseen by using Fourth Wall Lass's powers to travel on the other side of the Threshold. In the absence of any other organisation with whom to co-ordinate with against crime, Limp-Asparagus Lad had suggested talking with the police. Even if there was nothing net.ahuman related that needed to be dealt with immediately, it seemed prudent to at least supply their LNH comm.thingee frequencies. That way the Legionnaires would gain the help of a centralised information network to warn them of anything that might concern them (replacing the services of the now missing wReamhack), while the police gained net.ahuman resources to call on if anything extra- ordinarily weird occurred. The latter point was quite important, because in superhero class universes it's usually the case that emergency services composed of normals can't cope with paranormal threats, and unfortunately tend to get squished... Of course, given the recent and rather... dramatic... drop in police numbers in Net.ropolis, staffing was a little bit tight; but at least the Legionnaires could be reasonably confident that very few corrupt cops could have snuck into the force in the meantime. In any case, once the LNHers had registered their availability, the three of them left to go On Patrol. On foot. "Perhaps we should requisition personal flight.thingees for the next time something like this happens," Limp-Asparagus Lad suggested. "Probably not a bad idea," agreed Retcon Lad. He looked at Fourth Wall Lass, "By-the-by, have you been getting anything though your alt.telepathy with Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story?" She shook her head. "Not a thing. I think he's unconscious." "The police forwarded information from Writers Block Woman and Net.erpol that knockout gas had probably been used," summarised L-ALad. "Would he have been affected by that?" "He would be if it was boosted with Plot Devicium in some way," Retcon Lad theorised. "Which it almost have to be, if it managed to get past Kid Kirby's amour's defences, not to mention being able to affect people like Blue Canary and W.I.L.B.U.R., who don't even breath or have organic bodies." Fourth Wall Lass shot him a strange look. "What?" asked RLad. Then he realised. "No, I have NOT retconned that into being the reason Carmen was able to kidnap the entire Legion," he cried indignantly. "I'm just putting forward a hypothesis. No powers involved. Honest!" "Okay, okay. I believe you." "Hmmf. You've got a nasty suspicious mind." She put her hand around his and squeezed, by way of apology. They both smiled and said no more about the matter, and continued to hold hands. Presumably Limp-Asparagus Lad noticed the exchange of affection, but if so he gave no sign of it. Barely a minute later, there was a bleeping noise from Limp-Asparagus Lad's comm.thingee. "My, that was quick," observed Fourth Wall Lass. "Well, we've gone through more than three quarters of the issue already," pointed out Retcon Lad. "If the Writer doesn't start getting some action scenes in, the whole posting will be devoted to boring the readers with characterisation." "I would be perfectly willing to accept that," Limp-Asparagus Lad replied as he took out his comm.thingee. He spoke to someone on the other end briefly. Then he turned to the others and said, "There is an apparent hostage situation downtown involving two costumed net.ahumans." Fourth Wall Lass was suddenly all business. "Where at?" she prompted for specifics as she opened up a hole in the fourth wall. "The Waffle Palace restaurant at the corner of Busiek and Infanito." "Okay. Follow me," she said, as she led them into the other-worldly light of the realm on the other side of the Threshold. A quick montage of small, disjointed, and overlapping panels follows, placed so as to indicate rapid transit. A few moments later the three of them exited outside of the police cordon in front of the fast-food franchise in question. They conferred with a cop on the scene, an Officer Yeo. It seemed that barely a quarter of an hour ago two obvious net.ahumans had made an appearance in the restaurant and taken people prisoner. At least one of the perpetrators had power blasts of some sort, and had used them to wreck part of the outside wall facing onto Infanito. One hostage had been released, apparently for no other reason than warn the police of what the terrorists were capable of. Apart from the fact that they had broken her arm, the woman reported that there were two of them, both inhuman in appearance. The apparent leader was some person with dark purple skin and spiked hair and elephant's trunk for a nose with a prehensile hand on the end. The other was a large man with scaled green skin who was superhumanly strong and seemingly there to act as muscle. The latter hadn't said anything, while the other had skulked about and made cryptic statements and threats. No-one really knew what they were up to or what they wanted. "Ideas?" Retcon Lad offered scratching his palm. "You, Retcon Lad, can place a small retcon that our antagonists have become over confident in whatever they are trying to achieve, and that they either decide or already have decided to keep all their hostages in one place," suggested Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Fourth Wall Lass can scan the building from the other side of the Threshold and find out where everybody is. I can go and try to talk with them ascertain what they want. Once I have milked them for information, Fourth Wall Lass and yourself can quickly whisk their hostages away through the fourth wall. Does that seem feasible?" "Yeah, for starters. Now what about afterwards? Do we want a quick fight scene, or an extended siege..." Just them the side of the building exploded, showering the street with debris. Almost everyone ducked for cover. "He is here!" bellowed the purple net.villain triumphantly. His voice sounded like someone talking with a mouth full of mud, or perhaps like a corpse speaking around the congested fluid-on-the-lungs of someone who's died of bronchial pneumonia. Around the street weapons were drawn and aimed. Meanwhile, no sooner had the net.villain appeared and uttered his first line of dialogue than Limp-Asparagus Lad was already taking a few steps forward to just in front of the police barricade. He hadn't needed to dive for cover, thanks to his ability to absorb the force of most impacts by making himself 'go limp', and had the advantage of being able to react almost immediately. In a loud voice he asked, "What do you want?" The net.villain ignored him. "You!" he announced in a commanding voice at a figure somewhere in the crowd beyond Limp-Asparagus Lad. "No more running and hiding! I am Dinnerplate, and I must FEED!" From somewhere behind himself, Limp-Asparagus Lad heard a new cry of pain. Retcon Lad had dropped to his knees. He was biting his lip so hard that he had drawn blood. And that wasn't the only blood on him. From the palms of both his hands there was a stream of blood were his skin had broken open, and the twin fanged maws were now hissing hungrily. To be continued: --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character credits: Abbadon, Dinnerplate, Fourth Wall Lass, and Retcon Lad created by Saxon Brenton. Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham(chaos and entropy incarnate)). --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: With regards to the first scene: no, I am not trying to deliberately satirise Dvandom's 'seduction dream' from Dvandom Force #91 - though the idea for this storyline only really gelled at the end of January this year, so I suppose it may have influenced me. As for the bit of back-history between Senses Lass, Limp-Asparagus Lad and his libido: no, you haven't missed anything. (Actually, you should have been able to figure that out for yourselves. You know what I'm like; if I'd already published those events I would have put *footnotes* in this issue telling you were you could go back to look it up). Anyway, those events took place between _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #6 and 7, and I'm planing on explaining them in #43. Actually, between that, the hints of how Fourth Wall Lass gained her powers that were finally included this issue, and a flashback of some of Retcon Lad's past history next issue, I guess I must have gotten sick of having all these loose-end subplots hanging around. Hmm, I wonder if this means that I'll soon get around to resolving the Golden Age Limp-Asparagus Lad subplot that's been on hold since #2? Nah, probably not... As already noted, this story takes place during the period when Carmen SanFrancisco has nicked off with the Legion of Net.Heroes head- quarters in _Writers Block Woman (and Mouse)_ #33-35. Since I've already established that neither Limp-Asparagus Lad or Retcon Lad live in the LNHQ (the better to avoid the "mutant guest quarters" that Self-Righteous Preacher's set up in the basement), I saw no problem in telling a story during the time it was gone. Moreover, there are some themes which can only really be used when the LNHQ and the other Legionnaires are gone: what do members of the LNH do when their support services go missing? However, after reading WBW #35 and seeing that Carmen was even able to kidnap Hamster Man (who's supposed to be in Europe with his LNH Europe team) it occurred to me that perhaps she would have been able to round up any other LNHers not on the premises (What, you didn't see the members of Teenfactor, Elf Force, Los Bastardos, and Dvandom Force at the back of the crowd singing "It's A Small Net?" Shame on you, you weren't paying close enough attention (Joking! Just joking! Put down those nerf guns!)) In the end, I can only assume that it's courtesy between net.villains to honour advance bookings for stories that kept L-ALad, RLad, and FWLass out of the mass net.hero-napping.Back to the Index.