Blue Light Productions presents

Limp-Asparagus Lad #42
A Legion of Net.Heroes title

"Food"  part two

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 Retcon Lad and Abbadon grovelling on their knees before 
Dinnerplate. Their eyes are white and pupilless, and there is blood 
dripping from their mouths, including the fanged mouths on the palms 
of their hands. They are wearing T-shirts that used to say 'I'm a 
registered Marvel zombie', but 'Marvel' has been crossed out and 
replaced by 'Dinnerplate'. Along the bottom of the cover is the story 
title, 'Food, part two'.

Last issue:
     The net.villain ignored Limp-Asparagus Lad. "You!" he announced in a 
commanding voice at a figure somewhere in the crowd beyond the net.hero. 
"No more running and hiding! I am Dinnerplate, and I must FEED!" From 
somewhere behind himself, Limp-Asparagus Lad heard a 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.
     Now read on...

     Things were happening too quickly to get a firm grip on them. Limp-
Asparagus Lad, recognising the cry of his team-mate, threw a quick glance 
behind him before returning his eyes to the dark purple villain. The latter 
was hard to see, almost as though he were standing in obscuring shadow 
rather than in the bright morning sunlight of downtown Net.ropolis. L-ALad 
also caught his first sight of the other net.villain, the green scaly and 
as-yet unnamed one, who was moving up behind his leader through the hole 
in the wall of the Waffle Palace. Some seven feet tall, he moved slowly, 
giving the appearance of a lumbering irresistible force.
     Dinnerplate threw wide his arms, and sprays of blackness went flying 
across the road, splattering off the ground and then pooling and growing 
and spreading out. Once again people ducked for cover, and this time 
Limp-Asparagus Lad joined them; he had no idea what type of projectile 
this was, nor what its properties were.
     He quickly found out however; he was not quick enough to evade one 
splatter, and felt a biting cold cut to the bone were it landed on his 
leg. He could hear other people crying out in shock, confusion, and pain.
     Within a second the blackness began to quickly ebb away, mostly 
flowing back towards Dinnerplate, while some simply evaporated into wisps 
of greasy looking smoke and then vanished. It moved so fast that one could 
almost have expected a sound effect like some great damp sucking noise. 
And when it was gone, the net.villains were gone as well.
     Limp-Asparagus Lad whirled around, the words of Dinnerplate sticking 
in his mind. The people behind him were milling about, rubbing life back 
into their limbs. Fourth Wall Lass was looking about, obviously searching 
for Retcon Lad just as Limp-Asparagus Lad was. She met his eyes, and 
said, "He's not here; I think he's been taken."

     A room. Within it, a small blob of shadow suddenly appeared where 
there was nothing to cast it. Then it ballooned out, before receding as 
quickly as it had appeared. In its wake it left Dinnerplate and his 
hulking green underling, with Retcon Lad firmly in the grasp of the purple 
villain. The shock of cold and the fact that Dinnerplate had a grip around 
his windpipe had left Retcon Lad gasping.
     Now Dinnerplate dragged Retcon Lad upright and examined him closely. 
Retcon Lad found himself staring into the inscrutable pupils of the 
net.villain as Dinnerplate's trunk-like nose caressed Retcon Lad's face. 
The mouth at the end of that trunk was hissing with an anticipatory 
agitation that seemed to be wholly separate from clinical attention of the 
villain himself. With sudden horror Retcon Lad remembered the writhing 
holes in his own palms; his arms were too numb to feel anything of them at 
the moment - or even feel or move at all - but he could hear the noises 
they were still making.
     It was like a nightmare, and Retcon Lad had a sudden sense of deja vu 
back to the half remembered dreams of earlier this morning. He tried to 
wrest control over his panic and focus enough to follow through on the 
desperate impulse to retcon this whole thing into being a dream.
     However, before RLad could collect his wits, Dinnerplate smiled - a 
nasty, fangy grin - and made the revealing comment, "Yes, those dreams 
were from me. Your nightmares were delicious; not at all like those of 
your companions. No matter, you will do. Now, let's see what's your most 
painful memory."
     And Retcon Lad remembered...

     Christmas eve, seven years ago,
     The air was crisp and the sky was clear and the mutie up ahead was 
panting for breath as he staggered through the fresh snow.
     Joe was yelling, just like the other boys were yelling. What, he 
couldn't have told you; just noise, most likely. They were a screaming 
pack of pre-teen boys high on adrenalin, and coherence really wasn't part 
of what they were on about at the moment.
     The mutie was bigger than they were, about fourteen years old or so, 
but there were lots more of them, and besides, the mutie was losing blood 
from hit with the halfbrick that Nathan had landed. 'Let he who is without 
     The small trickle of warm blood was cooling into splatter marks on 
the snow as their prey staggered into a churchyard. Joe knew that there 
was no fence along two sides of the churchyard, and that the filthy mutie 
was probably trying to take a shortcut to escape. But they wouldn't let 
him get away.
     When the caught him, the mutie was desecrating a grave - collapsed 
against the headstone of a God-fearing person, and bleeding from the wound 
to his head that was making his hair matted and sticky. Joe could see the 
webbing of the mutie's left hand as he leaned against the headstone. The 
Reverend wouldn't like that. The Reverend said muties were an abomination 
before God, his Dad had said, and Joe knew that God wouldn't want any 
rotten mutie touching the Christian headstone of someone who'd died and 
gone to heaven.
     The mutie tried to draw breath. "Guh, go away!" he shouted.
     Joe and the others just jeered at him. Like they were scared of any 
damn mutie. Muties could sneak around and pretend that they were real 
people all they wanted, but they were bearers of the Taint of Cain and 
the Curse of Ham, and when they got found out it was the duty of all 
God-fearing humans to hunt them down and cast them out.
     A few seconds later the stones began to fly. When the boys ran out 
of rocks and pebbles they began throwing flower vases from nearby graves, 
knowing full well that God would forgive them from borrowing them because 
they were using them to get rid of a mutie.
     And then, about three minutes later - long after the mutie's body had 
stopped moving and was draped blasphemously over the grave - the mob 
stopped by some instinctive and unspoken consent. They turned and left 
that place, running silently back out into the night and snow.

     Retcon Lad found that he was weeping when he once again became aware 
of the here and now. Shame and frustration left a bitter taste in his 
mouth. Meanwhile, Dinnerplate was standing over him. "Delicious," was the 
villain's only comment.
     Retcon Lad leapt at him with a speed and strength borne of anger and 
recrimination, the start of an obscenity curdling from his lips.
     Dinnerplate just swatted him across the face, splattering him onto 
the floor. Then he picked the net.hero up by the scruff of the neck. "Hate 
is good. It's tasty." His grip tightened threateningly around Retcon Lad's 
throat. "But you'll learn that it's useless trying to struggle against me. 
I _own_ you. Your mind is mine." All the while, the hissing proboscis was 
caressing RLad's face, cold like a snake. Now it struck at RLad's face 
like a viper, biting and latching onto his temple and drawing blood, 
causing RLad to cry out in pain, shock, and probably fear.
     Dinnerplate continued, "As I feed on your angst, my fellow mutant, 
so too do I gain a hold of your mind and soul. You will not make any 
attacks against me; I forbid it." Then he dropped RLad onto the floor.
     Retcon Lad just snarled and tried to retcon Dinnerplate into 
helplessness. Nothing happened. Hyperventilating, Retcon Lad tried again. 
Still nothing. A look of befuddlement and slow horror began to creep 
across his face as he tested his impulses and found himself unable to 
carry them through.
     Dinnerplate knelt down, and almost gently took Retcon Lad by the 
hand, upturning the net.hero's palms. The fanged mouths were still there, 
and still hissing; Retcon Lad had forgotten about them in the rush of the 
moment. In his wet voice Dinnerplate quietly reminded him, "I told you 
that you were mine."
     And if Retcon Lad's hate had been tasty, then Dinnerplate savoured 
like a vintage wine that moment when the sense of fear and dread overtook 
all of RLad's other emotions.

     Across the room, Dinnerplate's other thrall watched this tableau 
with numbness. His name was Abbadon.
     Or at least, that was what his master called him. He had had another 
name at one time, but he couldn't remember what it was anymore. Dinner-
plate had taken it away from him.
     It occurred to Abbadon that he must be going to die soon. He'd been 
feeling increasingly exhausted recently, and he had been allowed to keep 
enough of his mind to realise that this was probably from being fed on 
continually by his master - both physically as well as emotionally. The 
fact that Dinnerplate was getting a new slave more or less confirmed the 
     Strangely, that thought didn't upset Abbadon. In fact, it came as 
kind of a relief. Emotional defeat weighed as much on his soul as the 
physical exhaustion. He wished he could remember his name, though.

     Meanwhile, Limp-Asparagus Lad waited patiently while Fourth Wall 
Lass tried to trace where Retcon Lad had been taken. Normally it should 
have been ludicrously easy for her to follow anyone, even across planetary 
distances: FWLass would simply follow their path, panel by panel, on the 
other side of the fourth wall.
     This time however it turned out that the relevant panels were blacked 
out - the result of Dinnerplate's escape through a dimension of shadow, 
apparently - and it was taking FWLass precious time to track them by the 
captions rather than artwork.
     During all of this Limp-Asparagus Lad was putting the free time to 
the best use he could think of, using his scan.thingee to try and detect 
a signal from Retcon Lad's comm.thingee. Hopefully Retcon Lad would still 
have it on him. Then the two remaining net.heroes could take a quick 
short-cut through the other side of the fourth wall by following the 
bearing of the signals on this side.
     Unfortunately, all this assumed that that Retcon Lad was still 
somewhere in or near the city of Net.ropolis. With the LNHQ gone, Limp-
Asparagus Lad had no way of boosting the range of his scan.thingee through 
the now-missing equipment it contained. Of course, the satellites that the 
LNHQ equipment uplinked to were still in orbit, but again, without the 
LNHQ around to allow him to access them those satellites were effectively 
useless to him. And even if he could contact the satellites, he didn't 
know the security codes to patch into them, while the exorbitant security 
on them made it effectively impossible for anyone short of wReamhack or 
Renegade Programmer to try and hack into them.
     Fortunately L-ALad did seem to be getting some sort of signal. It 
was extremely weak, and he was having trouble getting a bearing on it. 
Probably triangulation would be needed to fix its location properly. He 
decided to compare notes with Fourth Wall Lass to see how show was going 
with her tracking, and then they could make a decision on which method 
was likely to get them the best and quickest results.

     "Now then, 'Retcon Lad'," announced Dinnerplate, "I think it's time 
you met your predecessor. This hideously deformed mutant of superhuman 
size and strength is Abbadon."
     Retcon Lad glanced at the mute third member of the assemblage. He 
was large and green and scaly, and now that RLad was able to examine him 
closely he noted that Abbadon didn't seem to have a nose. Abbadon's most 
distinguishing feature, however, were his eyes and their flat quality of 
someone who had withdrawn from the world.
     Dinnerplate continued: "Abbadon is the longest lasting of my previous 
entourage. His mutant abilities include superhuman endurance as well as 
increased strength and invulnerability. The others only lasted a few weeks 
before they died, but Abbadon's actually managed to live for almost three 
whole months."
     Looking at the state Abbadon was in, Retcon Lad suspected that 
'living' wasn't actually what he'd want to call it.
     "Probably not," Dinnerplate agreed with happy malice. RLad winced, 
having forgotten that the net.villain could do that. Dinnerplate then 
added, "But then, letting him pass out of his misery may be a mercy. I've 
had a lot of fun feeding on his anguish. And causing it too.
     "Abbadon isn't his original name, of course, but that's the one that 
I gave him in return for the one that I took away. He was one of those 
clean-faced young missionaries who wander around in pairs accosting people 
in the name of Jesus." With a flick of his fingers Dinnerplate threw 
something onto floor between his two slaves. It was a small black name 
tag, on which 'Elder Johnston' was written in white letters.
     "I could see that he was a mutant straight away, even if his nature 
hadn't become apparent yet. I enslaved him and his companion, and brought 
forth Abbadon's powers from latency. His bodyshape is something I designed 
for him myself. His partner, young master Johnston, was just a normal, and 
of no use to me for food - but it hurt Abbadon here to be forced to feed 
on him, and to know that ultimately it was his cannibalism that killed 
Johnston. And the sodomy too, of course; Abbadon's homophobic, you see."
     Retcon Lad was watching Abbadon as Dinnerplate lightly described 
this orgy of horror, and for a brief moment the other's masque of numb 
weariness drained away. The green mutant's eyes squeezed shut in a look of 
hurt and self-loathing. Clearly, Dinnerplate may have worn the man down to 
the nub, but he still knew how to squeeze a few more drops of emotional 
pain out of him. Then a further flash of insight occurred to RLad: Abbadon 
moved so slowly because he was probably weak from being fed on by 
Dinnerplate; he wasn't a lumbering irresistible force, he was a tired and 
almost worn-out one.
     "Surely you don't feel _sorry_ for him?" Dinnerplate asked with 
obvious false sincerity. "After all, he's a _fundie_. He's everything you 
ever hated about yourself and managed to overcome by the time you were 
barely past puberty. _He's_ in his twenties, and hasn't come any closer to 
learning the wisdom of tolerance."
     Retcon Lad grimaced. "Yeah, right. Like *you* care about tolerating 
other people and their feelings." He was growing angry, rightly suspecting 
that Dinnerplate was trying to goad him against Abbadon. Dinnerplate's 
lengthy bit of exposition made sense now, since RLad had an intolerance 
of his own: an intolerance of religious bigotry. It had developed when he 
had grown old enough to realise how... evil... his past actions had been, 
and sometimes it bordered on the reactionary. But at least he knew about 
his prejudices and tried to handle it as best he could - which put him 
lightyears ahead of the objects of his distaste and their inability to 
deal with their own hatreds in a civilised manner..  .oO( He's trying to 
get at me. Just ignore it. It means nothing. Just 'cause Abbadon's a 
religious fundamentalist *and* a homophobe doesn't mean he's a far right 
wing murderer too. It's only Dinnerplate's say so anyway; Abbadon 
mightn't be _either_. )
     Dinnerplate looked pleased. "Your emotions are in turmoil," he noted, 
perhaps happily (it was hard to tell considering Dinnerplate's horrible 
burbling voice). "That's good. The pain is delicious."
     Retcon Lad turned away, hating himself as much as he found himself 
hating Abbadon, but nowhere near as much as he was hating Dinnerplate.
     The net.villain just smiled. "I think that's enough fun and games for 
now. It's time for feeding."
     Retcon Lad threw him suspicious look. "Hungry again? I thought you 
had been feeding all this time." It wasn't a particularly good retort as 
superheroic one-liners went. Easily-Discovered Man Lite or Mouse could 
have done much better with minimal conscious effort. But it was the best 
piece of bravado that RLad could come up with at the moment.
     Dinnerplate shook his head to this taunt. "No, not I. You." He took 
RLad's hands by the wrist, and (try as RLad might to resist) brought them 
to Abbadon's neck with the explanation, "Cannibalism is an acquired taste."
     As Retcon Lad's hands touched Abbadon's throat he could feel the 
teeth in his palms nipping at the other's flesh. He could feel the trickle 
of Abbadon's blood being lapped up and swallowed through his palms and 
down inside his wrists, and he could taste the salty iron tang of blood 
in his mouth - all three of his mouths, actually.
     Abbadon moaned softly, and now there was a look on his face that 
combined numb horror and orgasmic ecstasy.
     And then there was the angst. Retcon Lad could taste that too. It 
was kind of like something that's in the process of fermenting - you 
know, both sweet and rotten at the same time. Retcon Lad felt his stomach 
protest, and then half a second later he realised that he was salivating 
as well - which made him want to upchuck even more than before.
     But perhaps the worst thing was that, since it tasted so good, he 
didn't know if he'd be able to stop feeding on Abbadon even if Dinnerplate 
would have let him.
     It was at that moment that Fourth Wall Lass and Limp-Asparagus Lad 
arrived, crash tackling Dinnerplate with flying leaps from behind the 
fourth wall.
     The formidable will of his master now focused elsewhere, Retcon Lad 
forced his hands away from Abbadon's throat. He was pleased that he could 
actually do that, he hadn't been sure that he'd have it in him.
     "Hiya RL," said Fourth Wall Lass. The brightness of her voice clearly 
indicated that she was engaging in standard net.hero banter. "Fancy 
meeting you here. Sorry we took so long, but you're a hard man to keep 
track of."
     Dinnerplate had been wrestled to the ground, but began to lift 
himself free. "Abbadon, help me with these!" he commanded.
     The green behemoth rose to his feet and began moving towards the 
LNHers. Almost reflexively, Retcon Lad lashed out against him, retconning 
him to collapse from exhaustion.
     With a ponderous inevitability, Dinnerplate forced his way to his 
feet despite the efforts of L-ALad and FWLass. He was clearly much 
stronger than they had imagined. Even as he demanding "What have you 
done?!" at RLad, he was also sweeping FWLass aside.
     She managed to roll with the blow and bounced back onto her feet 
almost immediately, but then Dinnerplate threw a bolt of ice cold shadow 
at her.
     This, at least, she was prepared for. She simply stood her ground 
and opened a portal through fourth wall. She looked a bit like someone 
opening a very large roll of wallpaper - she drew her arms wide, and a 
gaping portal opened in front of her. The shadowstuff passed through, and 
then she slammed the hole shut.
     Dinnerplate thrashed about, landing a haymaker punch on Limp-
Asparagus Lad that would have torn the head of a normal person. Ignoring 
the pain, L-ALad observed, "It seems our deduction was correct. Dinner-
has to re-absorb the shadowstuff back into himself before he can use it 
again for another projectile assault."
     "You are correct, as far as it goes," Dinnerplate agreed. "But I have 
more than enough in reserve to finish off you two." As if to demonstrate, 
he brought a hand swathed in darkness around to connect with L-ALad. 
Despite the pathetically small size of the shadow that dripped from the 
villain's hand compared to what he had been wielding before, it still 
caused Limp-Asparagus Lad to recoil from the cold and enervation that bit 
into the Man of Dull's muscles.
     "What? You're still alive?" taunted Dinnerplate with mock innocence. 
"My goodness, you must be right. I _am_ weakened beyond all measure," he 
added as he advanced on the two net.heroes who suddenly found themselves 
on the defensive.
     Retcon Lad, meanwhile, was hastily trying to come up with some idea 
to help. It occurred to him from having stopped Abbadon that, just because 
he couldn't attack Dinnerplate directly, this didn't mean RLad couldn't 
oppose him indirectly. He just needed to figure out *how*. And keeping 
Dinnerplate from reading his mind before he could do it, whatever 'it' 
would be.
     The mindreading wasn't that big a problem. He recalled a trick of 
screening thoughts behind a wall rhyme that was used in Bester's _The 
Demolished Man_.  .oO( Tenser said the tensor. Tenser said the tensor. 
Four, sir; three, sir; two, sir; one! Tension, apprehension, and 
dissension have begun. ) thought Retcon Lad. He followed this with a 
retcon on himself so that this trick would actually work; and then, just 
for good measure, he also retconned things so that he would, indeed, be 
able to act indirectly against Dinnerplate.
     Retcon Lad tried to ignore the mayhem of the fight, although it was 
very difficult. Dinnerplate seemed to be forking out industrial strength 
whup-arse to L-ALad and FWLass.
     .oO( Tenser said the tensor, ) he repeated, focusing his thoughts. He 
had to hurry, but couldn't afford to be distracted. The problem was one of 
angst. Retcon Lad still had x-angst in him from Nicieza's Sledgehammer of 
Angst(tm) - which almost certainly explained why Dinnerplate was so taken 
with using Retcon Lad as a source of mutant muchies!
     .oO(Four, sir; three, sir; two, sir; one! )  Feeding off the x-angst 
from the Sledgehammer would probably make Dinnerplate very powerful. But 
what if Retcon Lad gave him too much angst to cope with? 
     Steeling himself, Retcon Lad threw himself onto Dinnerplate, grabbing 
ahold of the net.villain.
    "What are you *doing*?!" Dinnerplate snarled, grabbing RLad by the 
throat. "You cannot harm me! You will be punished for this!"
     "Ack!" gasped Retcon Lad. At this point, the protocol for net.hero 
banter called for RLad to quip that he wasn't planning on attacking 
Dinnerplate, he was planning on *feeding* him. However, he couldn't seem 
to breathe at the moment, and spots were forming before his eyes. He 
prudently decided that now was the time to make the retcon that he knew 
would be the checkmate move, before Dinnerplate throttled him.
     What happened next surprised - and shocked - Dinnerplate so much 
that he loosened his grip on the Legionnaire's throat. He took a step 
backwards, raising his arm as if to ward off a blow.
     Savagely, Retcon Lad yelled, "You want angst!? Fine! Here! Take it! 
     " uk... "  went Dinnerplate, trying to catch his breath and failing. 
" uk... uk... uk... "  Angst was pouring into him. Too much angst. 
Overwhelming...  All-consuming...  The others saw him light up like a 
Christmas tree, or maybe like a crusted over sea of lava that breaks into 
separate chunks so that you can see the red hot glow of molten rock 
underneath the craggy skim. Cracks were appearing in Dinnerplate's body, 
and from those cracks leaked an actinic light.
     Retcon Lad was still yelling. "I am the apeman!" he screamed. "I am 
     Dinnerplate exploded. Or something very much like it. There was a 
blinding discharge of both light and dark. Retcon Lad was hurled across 
the room, hitting the wall and knocking a bloody great hole in the 
plaster. When all their eyes had adjusted Dinnerplate was nowhere to be 
seen, but there was a lingering wisp of greasy smoke much like his 
teleportation effect which hinted that at he'd probably blown himself 
'sideways' out of this dimension. Whether he was alive or dead was 
impossible to say; but given the comic book convention of never assuming a 
villain dead until you've done an autopsy on his corpse, Fourth Wall Lass 
made a mental note to list him as 'potential recurring villain' until 
further notice.
     Fourth Wall Lass navigated over the upturned remains of what 
furniture was left to where Retcon Lad was. He was kneeling on the floor, 
his fists clenched in front of his face, and hyperventilating. She grabbed 
ahold of him in a bearhug and held him close, and after a while his 
breathing slowed down.
     "I feel like crap," RLad mumbled, poking his tongue out.
     "You look like crap," FWLass admitted.
     "Good. That means my insides are all matched up with my outsides," he 
decided. Then a thought occurred to him. "What were you doing, attacking 
him like that? I would have thought you'd have come up with a better plan 
that a physical assault."
     "We didn't actually have time for much of a plan," she admitted. 
"We'd discussed a couple of potential weaknesses of Dinnerplate's to 
exploit, but when we saw you being used in an unholy cannibal ritual, we 
kind of had to improvise."
     "Ah. Well, better luck next time."
     She shrugged. "Tricking him into using his shadowstuff up at least 
meant he had to use it hand-to-hand rather as a ranged attack." She looked 
at him. "So what did _you_ do to him, anyway?"
     This provoked a grin from RLad, which worried FWLass because it was 
more than a touch on the hysterical side. "I fed him more angst than he 
could handle." When Fourth Wall Lass gave him an inquiring look, he 
explained, "You know how I've got that little bit of angst energy from 
Nicieza's Sledgehammer?"
     "Well, I went and retconned that from being just a speck of energy 
into being an actual link back across the dimensions to the Sledgehammer 
itself. Then I let the energy flow through and overwhelm Dinnerplate, and 
he went 'boom'."
     "You did WHAT!? Do you have any idea what that'll do to *you*!? Are 
you *insane*?"
     "Maybe. Hey, don't worry about it, it's cool. I know what I'm doing."
     "Sometimes I wonder," she retorted.
     "Look, stop worry about it. It's actually something I should have 
done ages ago. I retconned it into being like a faucet: something that 
*I* can turn on and off at will. So I opened the faucet up full and let 
Dinnerplate drown in more angst than he could cope with. Now I've turned 
it completely off, and with any luck, there won't be any drips. Not if I 
can help it anyway. No more angst being shoved on from outside, and no 
more waking up in the morning feeling like I want to commit suicide."
     Fourth Wall Lass stared at him, then broke into laugher. "Oh, that's 
brilliant." She grabbed him and gave him another hug. "I know I shouldn't, 
but I do worry about you, you know."
     Retcon Lad nodded. He looked around, and spied Abbadon sprawled in 
a corner. 
     "Hey," protested FWLass as he started to stand up, "Sit down. Don't 
you go pushing yourself."
     "Abbadon'll need help," RLad disagreed.
     "Is that his name? Well, Limpy will take care of... Hey, where'd 
he go?"
     "Dunno. We'd better look for him, but this poor bastard comes first. 
This'll just take a second," RL said as he tried to walk to Dinnerplate's 
other thrall. He didn't do too well until FWLass propped him up to keep 
him from staggering.
     Abbadon was curled up in the corner watching them with dull, fearful 
eyes. He was trembling and his breath was coming in shallow, wheezing 
gasps. Even half out of it as he was Retcon Lad already knew that the man 
was suffering from shock and exhaustion. There was a knot in RLad's 
stomach - legacy of the knowledge that the extremity of Abbadon's 
condition was partly his doing.
     Retcon Lad reached forward a hand, but the man-monster cringed back. 
RL frowned, then realised that the other would be terrified of being 
touched, especially by another slave of Dinnerplate. Trying to smile 
reassuringly, RL said, "It's okay. I'm not here to hurt you. Dinnerplate's 
gone. He doesn't have a hold on us any more. Those mouths are gone, see?" 
Then Retcon Lad held up his hands, and because of the retcon he had 
enacted as he had been speaking those words, what he said was true. His 
own palms were innocent of fanged maws, and when he gently reached out 
and opened Abbadon's own hands, the giant saw that his own scaly palms 
were fangless as well.
     Abbadon just stared at his palms with childlike wonder, while Retcon 
Lad went on, speaking in a gentle voice and using his power to Make Things 
So: "With Dinnerplate gone, you won't be forced to stay in that shape if 
you don't want to, either." Actually, Retcon Lad had no idea if Abbadon's 
mutant powers were supposed to include the ability to change back and 
forth between a human and giantish form which Dinnerplate had then 
interfered with, or if it was a one-way transformation that had been 
imposed - but RLad would suck wet farts out of dead pigeons before he'd 
allow the latter to be the truth of the situation.
     "An... and later you'll start to feel better. All the shock and pain 
Dinnerplate created to feed on will begin to fade. You might need a bit of 
counselling, and you'll probably always remember it, but it won't rule you 
or get the better of you or ruin your life."
     Abbadon was still staring blankly at the palms of his hands as Retcon 
Lad finished off. "But you're feeling tired now. You'd better get some 
sleep. A nice, healing sleep, and when you wake up you'll have returned 
to human shape, and you can start to put your life back in order."
     Retcon Lad massaged the bridge of his nose. He felt like he had a 
splitting migraine coming on. He managed to stagger to a chair. When he 
looked again Abbadon was already asleep on the floor, looking almost at 
peace. "I feel almost as wasted as he must," he mumbled. He felt a sense 
of relief that Abbadon was all right, and especially that Dinnerplate 
hadn't managed to inveigle Retcon Lad into doing something unjustly 
wrathful against the green giant. Retcon Lad darkly suspected that if the 
villain had, then Dinnerplate would have driven him to do something far 
worse to Abbadon than Retcon Lad's usual punishment for the murderously 
religious of pre-emptive bouts of incapacitating dysentery.
     Fourth Wall Lass squeezed his hand in encouragement. "I've had a 
quick look round. Still no sign of Limp-Asparagus Lad," she said. "I'll 
call the cops, and then make a check on the other side of the fourth wall."
     Retcon Lad nodded, blearily eyeing the shambles of the room. "It's a 
bit too much of a mess to be able to tell, but I think some of the 
furniture may have gone missing. Maybe Limpy he got sucked into whatever 
other dimension Dinnerplate lurks in."
     She looked surprised. "He lurks?"
     "I suppose so. He says he was influencing all our dreams this 
morning, sampling to see whose angst tasted best. And since he has 
dimension walking powers of some sort..."
     Fourth Wall Lass shivered, then used her communicator.thingee to call 
the police. "I don't think either of you two are up to being left on your 
own for too long while if I go off looking for Limpy," she said. "I'll 
open a portal and start to check his storyline to see if he's nearby, but 
I don't want to wander off too far just yet. I may have to delay a full 
search for a half hour or so."
     Retcon Lad would have liked to protest, but he felt too much like 
rat dropping to argue that he'd be okay to be left alone. "Curse you, 
Carmen SanFrancisco," he muttered. "If you hadn't stolen the Legion of 
Net.Heroes headquarters then we could call on the rest of the Legion for 
immediate help." 
     [stolen in _Writers-Block Woman (and Mouse)_ #33 - Footnote Girl]
     "Yeah," agreed FWLass, creating her portal for a quick reconnaissance 
on the other side. "Let's hope he's all right."

Next: So, where is Limp-Asparagus Lad? Be here next issue for 'Somewhere 
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:
     Yes, well. For those of you with a passing knowledge of Marvel's 
'Generation-X' comic will recognise Dinnerplate as the Looniverse's 
version of Emplate.
     On other X-Universe stuff, long-time readers of this series will 
recall that originally Retcon Lad was developed for a thread on 
rec.arts.comics.xbooks (which was later reorganised into 
rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks) speculating on what sort of members could 
be included in the then upcoming Generation-X comic book. Afterwards, he 
retconned himself from his native dimension in his native newsgroup into 
the Looniverse (as explained in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #5) but was revealed 
to be affected by lingering x-angst energy from Nicieza's Sledgehammer of 
Angst(tm) in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #13. 
     Now, due to the restrictions on using copyrighted characters on 
rec.arts.comics.creative, it is unlikely that much of Retcon Lad's past 
can be specifically explored without restricting the posting of such a 
story to alt.comics.lnh alone. However, the reader is invited to compare 
the similarities between the bigoted anti-mutant religious organisation 
to which Retcon Lad and his family belonged when he was still living in 
rec.arts.comics.x-books and to the Stryker Crusade that appeared in the 
first X-Men graphic novel 'God Loves, Man Kills' (Marvel graphic novel #5).
     Anyway, back when I was much younger, still in high school in the 
early 1980s and before I had even heard of the internet, a friend and 
myself did (poorly written) superhero fanfic, often using the X-Men and 
New Mutants. The idea of a teenager who belonged to the Stryker Crusade 
and was revealed to ironically be a mutant and who then had to be rescued 
from the repercussions of that revelation by the New Mutants was one idea 
I came up with, but never did anything with at the time. However, the idea 
of such an experience radicalising the individual in question against funda-
mentalist far right religion is something that only occurred to me in 
recent years, and only then as a result of me realising how much Retcon 
Lad is like Freakout, another pre-internet character of mine about whom 
there will be a little bit more next issue when Limp-Asparagus Lad talks 
with one of the Space Cadets.
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