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 sin...' 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 idea. 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. .oO( TENSION, APPREHENSION, and DISSENSION have BEGUN! ) 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! TAKE ALL THE ANGST YOU CAN HANDLE!" " 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 the ANGSTMAN! I am the WALRUS! GOO-GOO-GACHOO!" 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?" "Yeah." "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 Friendly' --------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.Back to the Index.