Limp-Asparagus Lad #45 A Legion of Net.Heroes title Apropos of nothing much except a vague need to acknowledge the 'President Luthor' situation at DC Comics, Blue Light Productions interrupts your irregularly scheduled hopelessly meandering storyline for: 'President Hexadecimal' Starring: Bicycle Repair Lad Written by and copyright 2002 Saxon Brenton Art by Ph*l F*glio --------------------------------------------------------------------- The cover is a blatant rip-off of _Secret Files: President Luthor_, with Bicycle Repair Lad angrily tearing in half a poster for Hexadecimal Luthor's presidential campaign. The _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ logo has been crossed out and replaced with _Bicycle Repair Lad Gets Ticked Off Special_. --------------------------------------------------------------------- A while ago in LNH continuity: Bicycle Repair Lad dropped the grease-covered engine part that he had been cleaning and stared in abject horror at the small television that was tucked off to one side of his workshop. Up until now the thing had been putting out simple background noise. But now... Well, now it was a harbinger of doom. Hexadecimal Luthor was going to be the next president of the Usenetted States of Ame.rec.a. Bicycle Repair Lad started over towards the television to turn the sound up, in the process accidentally kicking the discarded engine part and stubbing his toes. This did not do any good for his already black and turbulent mood. "Bloody 'ell," he swore, picking up the part and placing it onto a benchtop. (It was from the starboard engine of the number five LNH flight.thingee and as usual the temperamental old dear was clogging up with punctuation element from random bits of expositionary dialogue.) Bicycle Repair Lad turned up the sound and stared at the tally updates. Then, because he needed something to calm him down, he started heating the water for a good hot cup of tea. Hexadecimal Luthor as president. Blast and damnation, bloody effing heck. From the looks of things it had been a convincing win. Neither George Bush for the Net.publicans nor Al Gore for the Dir.mocrats had come within a tinker's cuss of Hexadecimal's numbers. Possibly the only other contender who could have been considered any sort of threat had been the independent senator Kelly Roberts with his populist anti- net.ahuman platform. And of course, Roberts was long gone now. No one was entirely sure what had happened that evening in Net York when the strange light show had erupted from the still-under-repair Statue of Liberty and spread out across the lower end of Manhattan, putting an early end to the senator's fundraiser. All that was certain was that Kelly Roberts was dead - the integrity of the cells of his body disrupted to the point where his flesh had deliquesced and the only way that they'd been able to identify him was by dental records. Net.ahuman terrorists had been blamed. Some had said that it was an unimaginative second attempt by Lagneto to kill off politicians in the Statue's shadow, others suggesting a remnant of the Century Pact, while at least one line of thought linked it with the events that had destroyed the city of Sig.ago. [The public side of these events occurred in: _Lagneto Saga #7-8, _Dvandom Force_ #84, and _The Team_ #25 - Footnote Girl] Bicycle Repair Lad disagreed. He had discovered, somewhat to his surprise, that he had developed a finely cultivated nasty suspicious mind where Hexadecimal Luthor was concerned. The LNHer felt in his bones that HL was involved somehow. The removal of a potentially dangerous rival in a way that would allow Hexadecimal to selectively confiscate parts of Roberts' platform... well, it wasn't quite the style of the *old* Hexadecimal Luthor, but to be honest BRL wasn't sure what Hexadecimal's current style was. Better to be safe than sorry. The Bastion Of British Humour poured his tea, then sat staring at nothing as he tried once again to guess what specifically Hex had in mind this time. It was a problem that had been vexing BRL ever since his foe had announced his candidacy, and he still had no solid answer for it. Power? Revenge? Could be either. Could be both, for that matter. With the clout of the White House at his disposal Hexadecimal could set in motion any number of schemes, with no other purpose than the satisfaction of seeing Bicycle Repair Lad and his fellow net.heroes frustrated by government interference. Power, after all, was rarely satisfying unless you *did* something with it, but where a supervillain like Hexadecimal was concerned nobody said that that something had to be constructive. [Writers Note: Ironically, the inclusion of Hexadecimal Luthor into the equation of the presidential election perpetuated a form of damage to the politics of the Usenetted States that went beyond his mere victory and subsequent opportunity to use the socio-economic-military resources of the country for Evil. In Real Life the close electoral finish between Bush and Gore focused attention on the mechanics of the voting system (particularly in the state of Florida), demonstrating not only that parts of it had become unreliable through age, but that other parts had been deliberately designed never to be democratic in the first place. Hexadecimal's convincing win prevented these anomalies from being brought so forcefully to public attention. Thus, in the Looniverse there was no widespread knowledge of these flaws and abuses, meaning that in turn there was no opportunity for public pressure to be bought to bear to try and force legislators to fix them.] Bicycle Repair Lad took a sip of his tea. Part of the problem was that in a recent encounter Hexadecimal had changed his modus operandi. In the past he had always been a wily and extravagant foe for Bicycle Repair Lad. For better or for worse Hex could usually be relied upon to use his brilliant scientific skills to whip up some attention-grabbing event designed to keep his name known and feared. He was a consummate costumed terrorist who had never actually bothered to have a cause other than proving that he was capable of getting away with such behaviour. In fact, Hexadecimal's insouciant attitude had always given BRL the impression that even when he had been captured and thrown into jail Hex was simply biding his time until he grew bored enough to launch his next plan. And what plans they had been. Like the time he had replaced all of the members of the Usenetted Nations security council with robot duplicates in an effort to start world war 3. Or when he had encased the city of Paris in a force dome and held it suspended 200 metres above the ground. Or his attempt to use a mind-control ray to put everyone with the initials 'LL' under his thrall. Or causing all of the apes in the Net.ropolis zoo to grow to gigantic size and rampage around the city shooting green ray beams out of their eyes. And then... ...Bicycle Repair Lad frowned... And then everything had changed. Hexadecimal had pulled off what could arguably be his most audacious theft. He had stolen history. It happened something like this:Back to the Index.
"Ah... ah..., " stammered one of Hexadecimal's henchmen. The man was terrified and doing his best to aim a blaster rifle at Bicycle Repair Lad. The unconscious bodies of his fellows were lying around the room. "You know mate, I think this is the part where you run away," suggested Bicycle Repair Lad cheerfully. "Ah..." Bicycle Repair Lad leaned forward in a conspiratorial whisper. "Otherwise I might have to poke *you* with a soft cushion, too." He waved the cushion in question, just to emphasise his threat. "Ah..." "Or maybe even say 'ni' at you." The henchman's nerve broke and he fled. Bicycle Repair Lad tsked to himself and asked nobody in particular, "What type of people are they allowing into the Henchmen's Union these days?" Then he glanced around and called out, "Oi, guv? Hexadecimal, where are you?" A round portal in the far wall irised open. "Through here, Bicycle Repair Lad." The Legionnaire followed the voice through into an adjacent chamber and looked about. It was simply chock full of all sorts of wonderful and bizarre looking pseudo high tech thingummy-jiggers. "'Ere, you've redecorated again," BRL observed. Hexadecimal Luthor was sitting at a table. He shook his head. "No, I simply shifted some of the equipment around to make more room." "It would help if you occasionally threw out some of this stuff. Or at least put some of it into storage." Hexadecimal smiled inscrutably. "You know, by amazing coincidence I *do* actually plan to get rid of a lot of this stuff very shortly." Bicycle Repair Lad raised an eyebrow and said, "Not the old 'teleport-out-and-leave-the-hero-in-the-booby-trapped-to-explode-secret- base' trick." Hexadecimal laughed. "Ha! No, not that one again. I admit it's an old favourite, but that's not what I was thinking of this time. I was planning on leaving." "Really? Well, I can't say I'll miss you. But if that's so, there is one thing that I'd like to know." "And that is?" "Why do you always have your henchmen shave their heads and wear those ugly green and purple jumpsuits as uniforms?" "Spare me your cynical and Absurdist-derived English non-squiturs." Bicycle Repair Lad shrugged. "Fine then. What precisely was that thing that you stole from the Museum of Modern Art - and what diabolical device are you going to use it to power this time?" "Ha!" cried Hexadecimal "At last you begin to show some respect for the scope of my intellect. That 'thing' as you call it is none other than... the Cosmic Reset Button!" "The Cosmic Reset Button!?" echoed BRL in pantomimed astonishment and alarm. Then, in a more normal voice: "What's that?" "A device for changing history." "Oh. What, another one?" "What do you means, 'another one'?" exclaimed Hexadecimal testily. "Well, you know, it's just that there are so many time changing do-thingies around these days. And that's apart from plain old use-the- time-machine-to-go-back-and-change-history angle. Wouldn't a retcon cannon have been easier to get a hold of?" "A retcon cannon? Bah! Retcon cannons are passe. Of course I could have created one with ease, but for my purposes they are too limited, too conventional. I don't want to substitute a new history for old while leaving the present exactly the same! I want to change both the path that time walks *and* the destination it leads to!" The net.hero shrugged. "If you say so. So then, what part of history do you think you can change to your benefit? Change the outcome of World War 2? Insert a sleeper clause into the Declaration of Independence? Prevent the execution of President Nixon for high treason?" "I will erase my history as a costumed supervillain." This was met with scepticism. "You planning on going straight then?" Hexadecimal ignored the barbed comment. "I grow bored with continually trying to demonstrate my genius to an ungrateful public," he said, getting up from the table where he had been sitting and walking about the room with his hands behind his back in Dramatic Monologue mode. "The unrewarded effort and continual uphill battle of trying to show that a man capable of organising an underwater invasion of South Ame.rec.a is clearly the best administrative mind to hold the coveted position of Emperor of Earth. The hypocrisy of the average person is galling. They clearly long for stability in their lives above all else - and indeed have historically put up with any amount of cutting back into their precious 'civil liberties' during times of turmoil - but they persist in the bizarre delusion that democracy is the only way to govern them. If all that they're going to do is continually complain that their elected leaders are too soft on crime, then why did they vote for them in the first place?" "Maybe people also fear the arbitrarily unfair rule of a proven sociopath who they wouldn't be able to remove at a later date?" Bicycle Repair Lad suggested. Hexadecimal ignored this as well. "So I have reviewed my career," he continued in a stentorian manner, "and I have come to the conclusion that that supervillainy, while an amusing diversion, does not further my long term ambitions." "And you intend to continue your plans of world conquest by replacing it with... what?" "Big business." Bicycle Repair Lad gave him a dubious look. "Isn't that just a bit lame? The cliche of sinister megacorporations being the true rulers of the world went stale in the mid-1990s with the rest of the cyberpunk genre." Hexadecimal just looked at him and rolled his eyes. "Tell that to the anti-globalisation protesters who always show up to rant and rave at any meeting of the Inter.net.ional Monetary Fund. They'd be happy to explain to you that what you're talking about is merely the overuse of the idea in fiction. In any case, what better bushel to hide one's light under than one where you can acquire power and your opponents can be dismissed as anarchists with no respect for personal property rather than as crusading costumed vigilantes?" .oO( Blimey, ) thought Bicycle Repair Lad. ( He might have actually thought this thing all the way through for once. ) Hexadecimal turned to look at him. It was a look of wide-eyed hysteria that BRL was far more familiar with from Hex. "But of course, you'll want to stop me." Bicycle Repair Lad tensed, sensing an imminent fight scene. "Yes." "Then you must DIE!" screamed Hexadecimal, literally foaming at the mouth. "Destroy him, my Corps of Cloned Lethal Lagomorphs!" Hex stepped back to make room, and suddenly there was a legion of lop eared rabbits with switchblade knives rushing at on Bicycle Repair Lad from all sides. Which was pretty silly when you think about it, because Bicycle Repair Lad knew how to deal with killer rabbits. "Eat Holy Hand Grenade!" cried BRL. "Die nerdb... ARRGHH!" went a flank of rabbits as they were blow into little bunny bits. Switchblade knives flew everywhere. Hexadecimal laughed maniacally as the rabbits closed in. The Bastion of British Humour began stomping on his opponents with the Foot from the Monty Python opening credits. Splort! Splort! Splort! went the rabbits. But there seemed to be no end to them, and before long Bicycle Repair Lad had to call up a ten-foot tall electric penguin with tentacles to protect his back, and then - reaching further afield - for Tinkles the giant kitten and the feral portion of the International Christmas Pudding as well. Eventually Hexadecimal's throat grew sore from all the maniacal laughter, and he went over to the other side of the chamber and returned to tinkering with the Cosmic Reset Button. He hummed in accompaniment to the pleasant screams of the wounded and dying. They went on for a long time. "All right Hexadecimal," said Bicycle Repair Lad at last. Hex looked up. The LNHer was covered in rabbit gore and had a few nasty cuts, but was otherwise demonstrably victorious over the lagomorphic legions. "All finished?" asked Hexadecimal brightly. "Me too." "Hand over the Reset Button, and we won't have to resort to juniper bushes," BRL ordered. Hexadecimal shook his head. Bicycle Repair Lad dropped the Foot on him. It bounced off. Hexadecimal looked smug. "Personal forcefield. More than strong enough to deal with your Foot." Bicycle Repair Lad gave the net.villain a hard look. Yes. Not to mention that the Foot needed at least some room to stamp down in as well, so he could hardly conjure it within such a tight field. He wondered if the strength of the forcefield would be enough to withstand an assault by a ten foot tall electric penguin. As it turned out, he didn't have time to find out. Hexadecimal pressed the Cosmic Reset Button. There had been a flash of bright light, and when Bicycle Repair Lad had regained consciousness the world had changed. Hexadecimal Luthor had never been a flamboyant supervillain who had dressed in gaudily coloured costumes and menaced entire cities with giant robots shaped like chickens. He had instead always been a successful businessman with a certain reputation for ruthlessness. Bicycle Repair Lad remembered the truth, although whether this was because he had been close enough to the Cosmic Reset Button to be within the area of the 'bootstrap effect' or simply because of dramatic irony he had never been able to figure out. And Hexadecimal Luthor remembered as well. In the few subsequent run-ins that BRL had had with Hexadecimal's carefully-structured-to-be- totally-deniable black op business schemes HL had tried to play the straight man, but an occasional slip up in his dialogue had revealed that he too remembered the times like when he had tried to use the Cosmic Rubik's Cube to turn the North Sea into a desert. Bicycle Repair Lad drained the last of his tea and put down his mug. So there it was. Hexadecimal Luthor had hidden his light under his bushel and was in the process of climbing his way up the ladder of 'legitimate' power. Big business alone had turned out to be merely a stepping stone in establishing his credentials - and providing campaign funding, of course. God only knew where it would end. But Bicycle Repair Lad intended to be there when the end came. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Characters Credits: Bicycle Repair Lad is the Writer Character of Christopher Hare (HC61@lafibm.lafayette.edu). Used without permission. Hex Luthor also created by Chris Hare, and can probably be considered Public Domain. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Note: Bicycle Repair Lad was created back in the early, chaotic-add on phase of the LNH by Chris Hare, but only Chris' then email address has ever been included in Bicycle Repair Lad's LNH character roster. Martin's recent unearthing of the real names of various early Writer Character LNHers using the newly expanded google newsgroup archives prompted me to go searching for the sake of completeness. For my money the best appearances of Bicycle Repair Lad have been those in Paul Hardy's legendary _Legion Of Occult Heroes_ series. Indeed, BRL's popularity as a character seems to be the result of the exposure he got from Paul, since the majority of the times he's been used by other Writers (both actual appearances and mentions-in-passing) postdate his LOH stint. Hexadecimal Luthor, meanwhile, has never made an actual appearance prior to this that I can find, and only gets a mention in BRL's character write-up - which is reprinted here with the minor modification of including Chris' real name: NAME: Bicycle Repair Lad TYPE: WC CREATED BY: Christopher Hare (HC61@lafibm.lafayette.edu) POWERS: British Humor Possibly *some* (but varying) Superboy powers. Plus repairs bicycles. ADD.NOTES: Born from a Monty Python Sketch, F.G. Superboy is secretly Bicycle Repair Lad! Able to completely confuse people in a single post! Looks remarkably like a young Eric Idle in a Superman suit. How he uses his powers: Remember that foot in the MP credits? STATUS: Maybe. ENEMIES: BBC censors, Religious Fundamentalists, Hex Luthor, Evil and shoddy bicycle mechanics.