Blue Light Productions presents

Limp-Asparagus Lad #43
A Legion of Net.Heroes title

"Somewhere Friendly"  part one

Written and copyright 2001 Saxon Brenton
Guest art by J*rry Ordw*y

Cover shows Limp-Asparagus Lad standing on a beach, looking up at a 
night sky reminiscent of Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'. In recognition of 
the 'Maximum Insecurity' banner emblazoned diagonally across the top 
right-hand corner of the cover, Limp-Asparagus Lad has draped over 
one of his arms a neatly folded fuzzy blue blanket with teddy bears 
embroidered on it.

     There was an explosion.
     Then came the blackness, followed instantly by a bitter, biting 
cold. A cold so extreme that it made him want to scream.
     What seemed like only a second later he could see again - kind 
of - and Limp-Asparagus Lad immediately lashed out at Dinnerplate 
before the net.villain could carry out another of his tricks. The 
snuffleupagus-nosed mutant was too dangerous to be allowed even an 
instant's respite.
     It was just as his blow was connecting that L-ALad realised that 
his target wasn't Dinnerplate - but by then it was too late to pull his 
punch. Then, to his considerable surprise and relief, his fist simply 
went straight through the other person.
     Limp-Asparagus Lad blinked and tried to focus past the multi-
coloured splodges (which were still working hard at cluttering up his 
vision) and onto the figure before him. Then the consequences of his 
adrenalin surge caught up with him, and he collapsed.
     Staring upwards from where he lay, he could see a canopy of trees 
overhead dappling the light. This, clearly, was not the hideout of the 
mutant angst-eating net.villain.
     He recalled the fight with Dinnerplate that occurred last issue. 
He recalled Retcon Lad cutting loose against Dinnerplate with some 
sort of energy overload. And then the explosion, and now he was in 
this place.
     It was about this time that he also realised that he had collapsed 
onto a pile of cushions and pillows that had been strewn about on a 
grassy lawn.
     A voice asked, "How are you feeling?"
     "Very sore," L-ALad replied succinctly, turning his attention to 
the querist.
     The question had come from the young man of about twelve years old 
standing patiently on the mossy grass across from him. He was fair 
skinned, with light brown hair and green eyes, and he had a truly 
vicious scar that went from one side of his face to the other running 
across his eyes.
     The boy nodded sympathetically and said, "I imagine so. Here," he 
said, holding up a thermos, "when you feel steady enough, I brought 
some passionfruit juice for you."
     "I doubt if I am so unsteady that I cannot..." began L-ALad as he 
tried to stand, and then realised that this was still a bit beyond him 
at the moment. "On reflection, I believe I will just lie here for a 
little while," he decided.
     The other nodded again. "That's probably a good idea under the 
circumstances. Just in case you're interested, you feel a lot worse 
than the bruises you took from Dinnerplate would normally warrant. 
Dinnerplate's shadowstuff is actually a type of life draining nega-
energy from the Antimatter Universe of Thhhppp."
     (The name, of course, was made by poking his tongue out and 
making a short wet raspberry. Gotta have people poking their tongues 
out in a Legion comic.)
      "When Dinnerplate 'blew up'," the boy continued, "he was thrown 
back into Thhhppp, and you were dragged along with him for a little 
way before I reeled you in. Immersion in that nega-energy drained a lot 
of your strength, and also disrupted your drama dampening field."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad looked more closely at the boy, and commented, 
"You seem to know a lot about me."
     The other shrugged. "I'm a precog and a bit of a clairvoyant. 
Among other things. I foresaw that you'd need rescuing. And also, I'm 
one of your Writer's pre-internet creative writing characters, and I 
broke the fourth wall more than a decade ago. Anyway, I'm known as Luke. 
Pleased to meet you."
     "Likewise," said the LNHer. A thought occurred to him. "I assume 
you don't have a sister called Emily, though."
     "Just checking." He looked around, examining his whereabouts more 
closely. They seemed to be in parkland of some sort; there was grass and 
a light covering of trees, but none of the undergrowth that would have 
sprang up in untended wilderness. Limp-Asparagus Lad also noticed that 
there was a piece of table leg from Dinnerplate's headquarters. The 
weather was warm and he could hear the susurration of breaking waves 
from somewhere in the middle distance. Overhead, brightly coloured 
parrots and other birds sang or squawked over fruit and nectar bearing 
     There was a rustling in the leaves overhead. L-ALad glanced up, 
and met the gaze of something small and winged and reptilian. The tiny 
dragon regarded him for a second, before flying away to attend to its 
own business.
     "Where are we?" the Man of Dull asked.
     "Somewhere Friendly. It's a pocket dimension that Freakout 
created for the Space Cadets a while ago."
     "That statement raises more questions than it answers," Limp-
Asparagus Lad observed. It was not a question.
     Luke shrugged. "Have to keep the readers interested somehow." He 
sat back, propping himself up with his hands out on the ground behind 
him. "For instance, even though another one of my powers is tele-
porting, I'm not going to offer to take us back to the house straight 
away," and here he waved a hand off in one direction, "Or even back to 
the Looniearth. You can rest up here for ten minutes or so, and then 
we can walk back. It's only a few hundred metres along the beach, and 
it'll give us time to swap stories and bring the readers up to date 
with some of the backhistory."
     "Yours, I take it?"
     "And yours. A story for a story, Piers Anthony style."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad examined the idea and could only see one thing 
wrong with it. True, this place was very restful and pleasant, and it 
might be nice just to slow down for a bit. On the other hand: "I will 
need to return to Fourth Wall Lass and Retcon Lad. I have no idea how 
they fared after the fight with Dinnerplate."
     "Tired and sore, but otherwise fine," answered Luke. His eyes 
took on a slightly distant look. "They've called the cops and an 
ambulance, although the ambos are mainly for Zachary."
     "Abbadon. His real name is Zacharias Durandal."
     "I see."
     "Anyway, on the timetable I've got in front of me I can have you 
back there in half an hour or so."
     "Very well. So then, who are these 'Space Cadets' you mentioned?"
     "A group of about, well, twelve or so of us if you count every-
body. We met during the Secret Crisis Of Infinite Wars of 1987 - big 
superhero crossover Event type thing."
     "That is the second time that you have made mention to something 
happening more than a decade ago," Limp-Asparagus Lad objected. "You 
do not look old enough to have taken part in an event like that."
     Luke smirked. "Even allowing for the time distortion of superhero 
class universes?" He shrugged again. "Yeah, well, really it's because 
I kind of stopped aging after I died. I've looked twelve for the past 
decade or so. I'm actually closer to twentysix, I suppose."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad blinked in something terribly close to 
bemusement. "I haven't arrived in some sort of surreal Monty Python 
based storyline, have I?" he asked.
     Luke shook his head, unfazed. "No more so than you normally have 
to put up with in the Looniverse, what with it being composed of equal 
parts superhero cliches, British Humour, and They Might Be Giants 
     "Anyway, getting back to the Secret Crisis. It was a huge piece 
of fanfic that our Writer started back in 1987. Solely for private 
pleasure. It went onwards into 1993 before he lost interest. That loss 
of interest was mainly because he had found a Life - with the LNH and 
few other social activities, including, bizarrely, regular social 
meetings with the local Star Trek club." Luke raised an ironic 
eyebrow, then continued: "Mind you, the latter interest dried up since 
then, partly because of burnout and partly because of his irritation 
with the activities of The Evil Empire."
     "I'm not sure I understand that last reference."
     "It's a pointed comment on the nature of Star Trek fandom in 
Australia. It probably doesn't mean much unless you know a bit about 
the specifics of the conflict in that country between local fan clubs 
run for fun versus officially licensed fan clubs run for profit." 
     "If you say so," agreed Limp-Asparagus Lad, then brought the 
topic back from its meanderings: "Getting back to your story..."
     "Okay then, lessee. The Secret Crisis was huge, sprawling and 
unwieldy, and was basically an excuse for fanboyish team-ups. It was 
one of those 'Crisis On Infinite Earths' style crossovers were every-
thing was destroyed but somehow the status quo was contrived to be 
preserved, and almost everyone forgot about it afterwards.
     "During that little escapade a group of us were thrown together 
and became friends. We were all in a position to remember afterwards. 
Freakout created this place for us to meet, sort of like a clubhouse, 
since we had all been gathered from across different parallel Earths 
and some from different times as well. So this place has high inter-
dimensional connectivity - at least, it has for those people who have 
been authorised to use it. And of course, inter-dimensional teleport 
is one of the powers I picked up during the Secret Crisis. So, getting 
you back home isn't really a problem."
     "Thank you. That would be appreciated."
     "You're welcome. There is, however, a 'but'. There's someone who 
needs your help over in rec.arts.movies.b-movies. It would be simplest 
just to go in and drag him out, in which case I could do it myself. 
However, narrative convention demands that someone go and have an 
Adventure saving him. And of course, your net.comic, your 
     Limp-Asparagus Lad would have sighed. Drama could be so 
irritating sometimes. But, being who he is, he simply replied. "Very 
well then. To continue your story, what was your part in it all?"
     "In something like that? Everyone gets bit parts, of course. Oh, 
okay, sometimes something more substantial than that. For me it 
started one morning after I started having dreams that later came 
true. A bit of a co-incidence that my powers activated just at the 
time that the storyline was beginning."
     "It sounds like a plot contrivance."
     "Yeah, probably. Later when I met up with one of my friends, 
Chris Green, it turned out that other-dimensional counterparts to 
himself were turning up for some reason... more plot contrivance, I 
expect. In the end there were so many of them that we started to 
jokingly refer to them as the 'Legion of Chrises' and the 'Crisis of 
Chrises'. But it was that first morning that we started to realise 
that Something Was Up. Things kind of got out of hand after that, what 
with all the crossovers and team-ups and whatnot.
     "During that time I got to meet a whole bunch of other people who 
were fanboys and fangirls for comics and SF and stuff, and through it 
all we kind of hung out together and... you know... had adventures." 
His eyes took on the thoughtful look of recalling a pleasant memory. 
"That was the first time I ever visited a super team's satellite head-
quarters. You never really forget your first look at the Earth from 
space. And we even helped save the hash of a few of the major league 
superhero groups. Fortunately we had Dickenson as our defacto leader; 
he was a medical intern at a clinic in New York dealing with super-
human diseases, and he was used to keeping his head in an emergency. 
Anyway, he had a good sense of when to pull up short any of the 
silliness that looked like it was going to get out of hand. It was 
during those adventures that it became kind of obvious that I had 
Crystal Montclair syndrome - I just kept getting all these new powers, 
more than I knew what to do with. I also got wounded a couple of 
times," and here Luke pointed to the aforementioned scar that ran 
across his face. "This is the legacy of an attack by a lizard man-type 
critter. And in the end, it was the death of me. Literally."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad considered this, then said, "You are a ghost, 
     Luke rocked his head back and forth as he considered this. "I'm 
a... I think 'memory' would be the best description. Usually to be 
undead, there has to be something left to animate - mind, body, or 
soul, or whatever.  But I got snuffed when we were trying to put a 
halt to the rampage of a mad god of entropy, and there literally 
wasn't *anything* left of me. I exist now only because of circum-
stances that allowed memories of the other Space Cadets to kind of 
congeal together into a self-aware pattern." He sighed. "Of course, 
the guys'd only known me a few weeks, so their memories weren't 
exactly *complete*. I had to go back afterwards and use my psi to fill 
in all the gaps of the bits that they didn't know about. Even so, when 
you put everything together I'm still not the 'real' Adrian 'Luke' 
Pastach, just a very close copy. And of course, after the reboot that 
inevitably happens after these Secret Crisis type Events, all the 
damage gets undone and in one sense I retroactively ceased to be dead, 
so there's an original version of me that doesn't remember any of this 
living back with my parents in Australia... "
     "Ah-HA!" cried Writers Block Woman, popping up for a completely 
gratuitous cameo. "Are *you* Cultural Cringe Boy!?"
     "No, I bloody well am not! Now go away. You're supposed to be 
chasing Carmen at this point in continuity. [In _Writers Block Woman 
(and Mouse) #33-35 - Footnote Girl] You'll get your resolution to this 
running gag when you reach the _Birth Of A Villain_ cascade."
     "Hmmf," she sniffed, and vanished as quickly, mysteriously and 
ludicrously (but fashionably) as she had appeared.
     Luke looked put out. "This is what I get for only keeping my 
precognition tuned on 'major threats and significant stuff'," he said 
to himself. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "So much 
for the pathos of an angst-filled origin. Never mind though." He 
turned back to L-ALad and asked, "How are you feeling now?"
     "Better. Let me see if I can stand." This he did.
     "The beach is this way," said Luke. "But we can walk along the 
path rather than trudge through the sand, which'd probably be a bit 
more effort than you'd want to go to at the moment."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad followed him a short distance to the beach. 
There was a small seawall along the upper limit of the tide line, 
separating the yellow-white sands from the grassed forest beyond. 
There was a path running along the top of the seawall, leading off 
towards either end of the beach. A short distance along that path, 
there was even what looked like a wooden picnic table.
     All of this L-ALad noticed only in passing. What attracted most 
of his attention was the sky.
    It was hardly what could be called blue, although there were blue 
bits here and there. Mostly it was taken up with the two dozen or so 
multi-coloured suns. They were scattered irregularly across the sky; 
pastel splodges that seemed to be pulsing gently.
     "They must each emit far less light and heat than Looniearth's 
sun," L-ALad noted clinically, "Otherwise their collective output 
would have reduced this world to a seared cinder."
     "Well, yes," admitted Luke. "Come on, let's stop at the table. 
You can rest there."
     "One question occurs to me," said L-ALad as they reached the 
wooden seat. "If Dinnerplate's life draining abilities are so potent, 
why am I able to move at all after so short a recuperation?"
     "Oh, that's just the nature of this world," explained Luke off-
handedly. "When Freakout created it, he got a bit creative with the 
laws of physics. Things recover from wounds faster than they would on 
Earth, but decay less rapidly. There are other metaphysical properties 
about it that I think he copied from some Diane Duane novels."
     "In that case we probably should not go into an extended meta-
physical discussion on how it works," said Limp-Asparagus Lad.
     "Well, yes. In any case, right now it's time for a completely 
unrelated and no longer even topical bit of comic-book parody," said 
Luke, pointing a thumb off-panel.

Maximum Insecurity
     The artificial planet of Webster's World was originally built 
to preserve universal knowledge. Over time it had assumed other 
functions - sometimes temporarily, sometimes not. Eventually it became 
apparent that the semantic energies for the Infinity Dictionary that 
was housed there were useful for promoting dialogue and understanding 
of all types, and that prompted Webster's World to become the ad-hoc 
centre of a bureaucracy.
     That bureaucracy was more diplomatic in nature than anything 
else. The galaxy known to the humans of the Looniearth as the Milky 
Way - and to some others as Mutterer's Spiral - did not have anything 
approaching a single unified government. However, in Webster's World 
it did have a conference and arbitration body where planetary govern-
ments and species could meet to talk and arrange trade if they chose.
     And some did not interact with others much at all, mused the 
first ambassadorial assistant to Webster's World of the Giant Radio-
active Space Hamsters From A Planet Far Beyond Mars. Her name was 
Re'quee and at this point in time she was following the Etaoin 
Shrdlu's ambassadorial Observer. And was accompanied by her younger 
     The Etaoin Shrdlu were an old species who had given up their 
physical bodies to become Beings Of Pure Thought. They took very 
little part in galactic affairs, and this was reflected in the fact 
that the title of their representative was 'Observer'. As far as was 
known the ambassador was the only member of its species who was 
currently physically manifest - and certainly the only Etaoin Shrdlu 
who was immediately available for consultation by others. Even so, 
this was still a vast improvement over other pre_cursor races who had 
Moved On, or compared to reclusive races such as the Time Barons who 
held themselves apart until such moments as they considered it 
appropriate to meddle with the affairs of others.
     "Observer," she asked, trying to hide any traces of irritation 
at its cryptic behaviour, "What is this about? If it's something 
important, shouldn't we bring it to the attention of Hewllee? She 
*is* the ambassador; I'm only her assistant."
     "The lady ambassador is already at the Council meeting," 
the Observer assured her. Its voice was breathy and slightly 
ethereal - probably a reflection of the fact that its vaguely 
humanoid form was not fully solid. It glided like an apparition 
through the halls, then added, "It is needful that you and your 
brother see what transpires there today."
     "Me?" squeaked Branb'ss. He was young and a male, and although 
Re'quee loved him dearly it was only Re'quee's respect for the 
Observer that had convinced her to bring Branb'ss along.
     The Observer nodded politely but distantly to the youngster. 
"Even so."
     The three of them came to an viewing gallery where they could see 
the proceedings. Branb'ss put his paws up on the railing and scanned 
the chambers. "It's so full," he said.
     "The Galactic Council is meeting to debate a very important 
issue," replied Re'quee.
     "It is? What?"
     "Collectable trading cards."
     His eyes went wide. "Gosh."
     "The fad for collectable trading cards began on the Looniearth," 
said the Observer. He turned his attention from the council floor, 
where proceedings were about to begin, then inclined his head to look 
at Branb'ss. "Teasers took note of the phenomenon and exported it to 
galactic civilisation. You know who the Teasers are, don't you?"
     Branb'ss nodded. "They're the rich kids who have nothing better 
to do with their time than to cruise the galaxy, looking for planets 
that haven't made interstellar contact, then land in some remote place 
in front of some poor soul who nobody's ever going to believe, and 
strut up and down in front of her making 'beep beep' noises."
     "Correct," agreed the Etaoin Shrdlu. "It's all rather childish, 
     "The collectible trading cards have been causing havoc," added 
Re'quee. "They're addictive, and dangerous. The fad has only recently 
been brought under control. The Galactic Council is going to try to 
decide whether to simply quarantine the Looniearth, or punish it by 
collecting all the confiscated cards together in the form of a comet 
and sending to the Looniearth."
     "But... the impact of that many cards... It would destroy the 
planet!" Branb'ss protested.
     "Yes," agreed Re'quee. She looked around the chamber to see if 
Morton Phillips, the Looniearth's ambassador, was here. She knew that he 
had been working hard to get a 'no' vote against both propositions. "The 
position of our planet is to oppose such a drastic measure," she added.
     "Others will oppose the motions, for one reason or another," 
predicted the Observer gravely.
     Around the council chamber the representatives of so many of the 
Looniverse's spacefaring nations fell quiet. There were the Dvorkians. 
The Bud'jee. The Marzians, the J'so, and the Denominators.
     There were people from the pink-skyed Planet Claire, who were 
humanoids with their faces on their chests, just like the medieval 
notion of the headless blemyae. They were masters of biotechnology and 
were noted for their anti-agathic products.
     There were representatives of the various biroid races, whose 
blood was based on ink, and who had been spoken of highly by whoever 
was the Looniverse's version of Zaphod Beeblebrox.
     There were the small grey humanoids from Zeta Ridiculi, who 
habitually visited other planets, surreptitiously kidnapped people, 
gave them intimate and embarrassing medical examinations, and then 
inserted 80-foot radar dishes up their butts. (Nobody knew why they 
did this. Even the Zeta Ridiculans didn't know why they did this. The 
current best guess was that it was some sort of species-wide obsessive-
compulsive disorder).
     And there were representatives from an alien race made up entirely 
of venetian blinds and curtains. They were from the Planet of the Drapes.
     One by one the various diplomats made their prepared speeches to 
present their case.
     "Qwellas of the Zethryth, am I," began a reptilian. "Studied the 
economic impact of the trading card addiction, have we. Affecting 
customers, and therefore revenue base, it does. Therefore, its source 
to be dealt with, it must." It was a comment that could be considered 
typical of the Zethrythians. Not only were they xenophobic, but they 
were a mercantile species as well: if the Looniearthlings were 
considered a threat to their trade, then that threat would have to be 
removed by whatever means.
     "Hewllee of the Giant Radioactive Space Hamsters From A Planet 
Far Beyond Mars," announced the bear-sized hamster who was Re'quee's 
immediate superior here on Webster's World. Hewllee made a single 
quick preening motion of her whiskers, then continued. "Some have 
questioned whether it might be that our opposition to the proposals 
stems from some favouritism towards Loonihumanity. I would remind the 
council that as a self-liberated slave race from humanoid masters, 
my people have no particular love of any bipedal species. We are, 
however, keenly interested in justice. I will remind the council 
(again) that the Looniearthlings had no way of releasing the scourge 
of collectable trading cards on intergalactic civilisation. That was 
the doing of the Teasers, and I would call for punitive measures to 
fall on those most directly responsible."
     "Gentlebeings," began the Denominator ambassador - a humanoid 
with *very* big teeth - bowing formally to the assemblage. "One finds 
oneself recalling that that even quite small numbers of Looniearth-
lings have been able to resist incursions by the Cascaders." [Such as 
in 'Descent' in _Legion of Net Heroes_ #s 63-67 - Footnote Girl]
     "And that's the entire point!" cried the Dorfian representative, 
whose limited patience had given way now that the soporifics that he 
had taken earlier had finally worn off. "The Looniearth has a number 
of cadres of net.ahuman beings, some of who are in the Phenomenally 
Cosmically Powerful rank. Collectively they are a threat to our 
security, and the Dorfians call for their immediate elimination!"
     A new figure stepped forward and announced, "The net.gods of 
Topphorti do not agree."
     A ripple of fear passed across the crowd as people suddenly 
recognised the craggy faced individual in the white disco suit. The 
figure surveyed the auditorium before announcing, "I am Flipseid, Lord 
of the Oldpaperclips and ruler of Topphorti. Know, oh mortals, that 
the secret of the Net.i-Life Equation lies somewhere on the planet 
Looniearth, and that by my machinations I *will* have it. Cordon off 
that world if you so choose, but any attempt to destroy it will meet 
with my displeasure. I trust you know enough of my reputation that I 
do not need to elaborate."
     A low, fear-filled murmuring arose, but no one challenged his 
threat. Up on the balcony, Re'quee's attention was diverted from the 
Council floor to her brother, who was leaning forward and hissing 
softly to himself in anger with ears flat against his skull. She was 
mildly surprised by this - although young and frisky and plucky enough 
to not to be the typical male cringing violet, she had thought he had 
better sense. This distraction caused her to miss the arrival of the 
next speaker.
     "Your threats are not necessary, Flipseid," said a shapely human 
woman who approached the speaking dais. "The Council will not act 
against my world, because I forbid it."
     Flipseid gave her impassive glance. "I am not used to being 
considered an also ran. Who are you, woman?"
     "I am Splashpage of the Looniearth. Fifth level adeptus of the 
Fourth Wall." Then she turned her back on Flipseid and addressed the 
crowd. "So, you people think that you can play the heavy against the 
Looniearth? You fools have no concept of the forces you are dealing 
with. The Looniearth is the reason this universe exists. Everything 
else is peripheral. In this reality, as in Real Life, it is we humans 
who create aliens," and then she swung around and pointed a finger at 
Flipseid, "and *gods*!" She paused. "Alone in the cosmic dark, *we* 
created all you ultra-terrestrials; as companions and adversaries, as 
mentors and bogeymen. You provide an alternative. An escape. A threat, 
and a dream, and power, and refuge, and pain. But you are all still 
*human* creations."
     Flipseid gripped her arm, and said with soft-spoken menace that 
echoed throughout the chamber, "If such foolishness were true, then we 
would be the only thing that provides loonihumanity with purpose and 
meaning, and hence would be the only things that matter. But it is not 
true, and because we have the power, we are still the only thing that 
matters. Either way, the Looniearth looses."
     Splashpage smiled at him. "Wrong."
     It is always hard to make out the expression on the dark and 
grooved face of Flipseid, but on this occasion even those furthest 
away from the dais saw his anger change with a flicker of fear.
     And then all that was left of Flipseid was a piece of A5 paper 
on which were printed his Official Handbook Of The Looniverse 
biographical details.
     Splashpage turned back to the Council. "I assert metaphysical 
superiority. I am not going to treat you as Flipseid did. I am not 
going to stand here making threats like the climax to Heinlein's 
_Have Spacesuit Will Travel__. I will not tell you to do things my 
way or else, and leave you to do as you are told. You will all be 
dealt with. Right now."
     Some of the brighter Council members realised what this meant, 
and began to run. It didn't do them any good. The next instant, the 
Council chamber was filled with sheet of paper printed with Official 
Handbook entries.
     Re'quee wasn't sure whether the three of them had been spared 
because they were hidden from view up on the balcony, or because the 
Etaoin Shrdlu was somehow protecting them. Whatever the case, her 
heart almost jumped to her throat when Branb'ss transformed in a flash 
of light from a bear-sized hamster into a bear-sized hamster wearing a 
garishly coloured spandex costume with a stylised picture of a quiche 
emblazoned across his chest, and leapt from the balcony into space 
over forty metres above the floor below.
     "Surrender, Splashpage," proclaimed Barnb'ss as he flew around 
the room in a graceful arc and landed on the floor on the opposite 
side of the chamber. "You cannot hope to succeed with your evil plan, 
     Splashpage pointed at Captain Rat Creature in an effort to take 
him out as well, but he used his super-cricetidean dexterity to dodge 
out of the way.
     Re'quee was frantic. She rushed to edge of the balcony to watch.
     "Be calm," said the Etaoin Shrdlu. "The transformations of even 
a fifth level adeptus are only temporary."
     "You mean he'll loose?!" squeaked Re'quee as her voice rose an 
octave in fear.
     The Observer regarded her calmly but with sympathy. "Splashpage has 
been on a quest to increase her abilities, and her power is waxing. He 
has no more chance against her than any of her other victims."
     Down on the Council floor he was putting up a darn good fight, 
however. He blasted her with energy beams from his eyes, then ducked 
behind some wreckage so that he was no longer in her line of sight.
     The end result was never really in doubt though. After no more 
than a minute Splashpage finally managed to down Captain Rat Creature, 
leaving Splashpage alone on the chamber floor, laughing - triumphantly 
and mockingly. 

     Limp-Asparagus Lad asked, "Why do I suddenly have a blue blanket 
with teddy bears quilted onto it?"
     "It's a souvenir Maximum Insecurity blanket," said Luke. "It's a 
marketing ploy, just like foil covers and bound-in trading cards. See? 
I've got a green one." He held it up. It had bunny rabbits on it.
     Limp-Asparagus Lad looked at his blanket. "I would have preferred 
a grey one, personally." (Regardless of what Neil Gaiman thought, 
L-ALad was of the opinion that it was grey rather than black which was 
the colour that went with everything.)
     "I'm afraid that Blue Light Productions isn't giving out any grey 
Insecurity blankets in this promotion," Luke explained as he began 
folding his up. Anyway, I think it's your turn to give a piece of back 
     "What would you like to know? About how my biological parents were 
kidnapped by aliens? About the increasing social isolation I felt 
after my powers of dull manifested themselves during my early teen 
years in IO.wa? About how I was originally one of the gif.clones of 
Sig.Lad that were created by Acton Lord, only to have an independent 
origin retconned in later?"
     "Actually, in the endnotes for issue 41 it said that we'd get to 
find out how you met your girlfriend and lost your libido."
     Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded. "Since it seems that we need a cliff-
hanger ending, let me just say that we met during a battle against the 
Brotherhood of Net.Villain for the very fate of her soul."
     "There's no need to go quite that far."

To Be Continued:
Character Credits:
     [Anal-Retentive Archive Kid wanders onto screen with a sheath of 
papers and begins to read: ]
     Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic 
Mongoose Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham (chaos and entropy 
     Adrian 'Luke' Pastach, and the Space Cadets created by Saxon 
     Writers Block Woman created by Jaelle (Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler) 
and cameod without permission.

     Flipseid created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen). First 'appearance' 
(by an imposter) in _The Kinda Big Darkness Saga_. First 'real' 
appearance (in an alt.ernate reality story) in _Stranger Tales_ #5.
     The Giant Radioactive Space Hamsters From A Planet Far Beyond 
Mars first appeared in _Death Of Cheesecake-Eater Lad_ #5. Splashpage 
first appeared in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #12. Created by Saxon Brenton.

     All characters copyright 2001 to their owners or creators.
Add Notes:
     The history of the Space Cadets is pretty much exactly as Luke 
described it. Most of them have and gotten lives for themselves, so 
the chances of the full group turning up (or even just the ones I 
created and have copyright on) are small. Further *references* may be 
possible if individual characters come visiting - but this is unlikely 
at the rate I've been writing recently :-(   Even so, details of the 
Secret Crisis probably wouldn't become any clearer anyway, partly 
because of the aforementioned copyright problems but mostly 'cause I 
was making it up as I went along with usually spur-of-the-moment c00l 
fanboyish ideas, and really don't have more than a vague idea of what 
happened anyway. Comparing it to a tighter plot structure (for example, 
the comic book standby of 'heroes meet, heroes fight, heroes team up to 
beat villain') the 1,200 pages I wrote before I lost interest would have 
made up perhaps less than 5% of 'heroes meet'. And then there's the 
issue of the writing being painfully embarrassing in retrospect. (Yes, 
it's the return of the 'My Early Work Sucked' thread that made it to 
runner-up in the 'Best Flame War' category of the 1997 RACCies.)
     On other stuff...
     The Net.imatter Universe of Tppphhh (or Antimatter Universe of 
Tppphhh - the names are interchangeable) is a meltdown of DC comics' 
Antimatter Universe of Qward, Marvel comics' Negative Zone, plus any 
other negative universes like the Dark Kingdom/Negaverse from Sailor 
Moon and the antimatter prison world of Omega from the Dr Who TV show. 
Make of that what you will.
     The Maximum Insecurity skit was apropos of nothing but was fun 
anyway. It threw together a bunch of things. It's basically a parody 
of Kurt Busiek's 'Maximum Security' crossover from Marvel comics in 
2000, and starring the Giant Radioactive Space Hamsters From A Planet 
Far Beyond Mars (who themselves are a combination of the Giant Space 
Hamsters from the 'Spelljammer' setting of the Advanced Dungeons & 
Dragons roleplaying game with the eponymous aliens of Weird Al 
Yankovic's song 'Attack Of The Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near 
Mars'). I would like to thank Graham McDonald for giving me the idea 
that it would be collectible trading cards that the Galactic Council 
would be worrying about, and Blair Rammage for pointing out the phrase 
'Etaoin Shrdlu'.
     The latter is the order of letters on the first two lines of a 
compositor's keyboard for Guttenberg style linotype printing - much 
as 'Qwerty' and 'Dvorak' are the order of letters on the various 
keyboards of computers and typewriters. It therefore made sense that in 
the Looniverse, the Etaoin Shrdlu would be another alien race, but much 
older than the Qwertians or the Dvorkians. (Although I admit that 
originally I was going to have 'The Net.ropolis Etaoin Shrdlus' be the 
name of a gridiron team.)
     In any case, some of the alien species are new, while have shown 
up before; in particular, _Continuity Champ And The Drizzt's 
Defenders_ #7-8 featured the Zethrythians, and #9 introduced the 
Looniearth's ambassador (and showed how he got the job).
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