Blue Light Productions presents

     A red light began to flash, and a warning buzzer began clamouring 
out its dreadful din.
     "Ah!" cried the giant yellow robot with the goofy-looking beak. 
"We've got net.fiction sign!"
     "CAW, for God's sake stop shouting," said Swordmaster.
     "But Joel, we've got to get into the theatre for the start of the 
story," exclaimed the Carborundum Armoured Weapon breathlessly 
(literally, since the overgrown tin can doesn't breath). "There are 
opening credits to heckle!"
     "Okay okay. If it'll shut you up," said Swordmaster  .oO( Geez. I 
finally get a bit of peace and quiet since Rossi went away from the LNH 
and left the Load Island Renegades series on indefinite storyline hiatus, 
and *now* I get dragged back for a freaking Mystery Science Theatre 3000 
skit. I'll get you for this, Brenton. )
     "And don't forget to bring Tom Servo."
     Swordmaster threw a glance at the recently disinterred corpse of 
the Squeaky Flying Rodent. It didn't look *too* ickily decomposed. 
Nevertheless, Swordy demurred. "Uh, no thanks, CAW. Hey, why don't you 
carry him?"
     "But Joel, you always carry Tom Servo into the theatre."
     .oO( Like Net.Hell I do, ) thought Swordmaster. "Ah, but he's your 
friend CAW, and I wouldn't want to get between the two of you." And then 
he tried psychology. "And besides, if we try a change of routine, then 
the viewers will take notice and this episode might be another fan-
favourite. Wouldn't that be cool?"
     "Hey yeah, you're right," enthused CAW, then picked up the Rodent. 
"Okay, let's go," he said as he led the way into the usual montage of 
door openings...
     ^6^... %5%... $4$... #3#... @2@... !1!...
     Once inside, the silhouettes of CAW, the Rodent, and Swordmaster 
could be seen at the bottom of the screen. CAW put the corpse of the 
Rodent into its seat on the left, and sat next to him. Swordmaster took 
the seat on the right-hand side.
     CAW: You know Joel, you usually sit in the middle.
     Swordmaster: [dissembling for all he's worth because even if the 
framing sequence is out of continuity, he doesn't want to have to sit 
next to what's left of the Rodent for the whole story] That's because 
usually the human is the biggest figure, so he sits in the middle to 
balance the screen with the smaller robots on either side. This time 
around, you're the bigger figure, so you get to sit in the middle.
     CAW: [sounding worried] Do you think they'll test me for human 
growth hormone at the Olympics?
     Swordmaster: I doubt it. You're not in the Olympics, remember?
     CAW: Oh. Yeah.
     Swordmaster: But you can squish Juan Antonio Samaranch to guacamole 
if you want.
     CAW: Oh, that'd be so *cool*.
     The credits began to roll:

| Blue Light Productions
| (and *not* Best Brains)
| present:
| Limp-Asparagus Lad #46
| A Legion of Net.Heroes title
| 'It Came From The Late Late Late Show'
| Part 1 of 5
| Written by and copyright 2003 Saxon Brenton
| Art by Fred H*mback

     CAW: You mean it's an animated feature?

|      The opening shot was a westward view looking out at the sea from 
| the top of a sandhill. It was early afternoon. The sound track was 
| playing 60's style beach music. The view panned to the left until a 
| length of the beach came into the field of view. Down of the beach, 
| there were teenagers.

     CAW: [censorious tone] Wild, irresponsible teenagers!
     Swordmaster: Being played by thirty year olds.

|      "Hey, Pete!" cried one of the girls as she ran up to a dark-haired 
| boy. He broke into a smile.
|      "Well, hey there, Kitty-Pie," Pete Greenberg greeted her. 
| "Whatcha doing?"
|      "Nothing much. Me and some of the guys need to go into town and 
| grab some more supplies. You want to come?"
|      "Sure. We can even take my hotrod if you want."
|      "That would be keen!" she gushed.
|      "I'll meet you at the parking area."
|      "Sure thing," she said and flounced off. Pete stared after her 
| for a few seconds, then began making ready to leave.
|      As he was heading for his car, he met some of the other kids who 
| hung out at the Beach. "Heya, Surfer Boy," he called, greeting the 
| Head Man of the Beach. "How's it going?"
|      "Pretty cool, man," replied Blonde-Headed Stompie Wompie Real 
| Gone Surfer Boy Yeahyeah Yeahyeah. "How's it going?"

     CAW: Ahhh! Little Pattie song lyric flashbacks!

|      "I'm just gonna take Kitty-Pie and some of the others in to town 
| for a munchies run."
|      Surfer Boy laughed. "Well, if you see Von Velcro, don't forget to 
| beat the tar out of him in another drag race."
|      Pete frowned. "Elvis Von Velcro? Is that greasy Marlon Brando 
| wannabe hanging around again? Doesn't that loser know when he's beat?"
|      One of Surfer Boy's offsiders, Chuck!, explained, "Mitzy and 
| Francine and Debbie Three-Socks were in at the Atomic Thunderbuster 
| Drive-In Takeaway, and they said they overheard Von Velcro bragging to 
| his biker gang about how they'd get you this time."
|      "Oh yeah. Right," went Pete with immense sarcasm. He doubted if 
| Elvis Von Velcro and his Hell's Bats (aka the Bats Out Of Hell) could 
| do anything without it blowing up in their faces.
|      Chuck! shrugged. "The girls said that Velcro said that this'd 
| help Dr. Liverwurst with his plan."

     Swordmaster: [sarcastic] Ooo. Subtle.

|      "Dr. Liverwurst? You mean that creepy old dude who lives in the 
| house outside of town where all the strange lights are seen?"
|      "Yeah," said another of the beach-goers, Boondawgie by name. 
| "People say it's haunted."
|      Chuck! scoffed. "There's no such thing as ghosts. I bet it's just 
| a cover to scare people away while Old Man Liverwurst is spying for 
| the Communists!"
|      "Well I don't care what Von Velcro *or* Liverwurst think, said 
| Pete angrily. "It's *my* car that's the fastest thing in the state, 
| and if they think they've got something better, then they can just try 
| and pit it against me, and then they can eat dirt again."

     Swordmaster: So, Berkeley Breathed was right. 'Foreshadowing: Your 
guide of quality literature.'
     CAW: Your guide to something making the pretence of being quality 
     Swordmaster: How about, your guide to something parodying something 
making the pretence of being quality literature?
     CAW: That'll do nicely. [pauses] You know, these round robins would 
work a lot better if Tom Servo would help with the commentary.
     Swordmaster: He's dead, Jim.

|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Linda Greenberg, girl reporter for the Lonzark Enquirer, walked 
| across the street to the Silverleaf Diner. Her lunch date was waiting 

| outside, talking with another man who she hadn't seen before. Hardwired 
| responses to examine everything kicked in, and Linda gave this newcomer 
| an assessing look.

     Swordmaster: And gave the author a reason to describe him.

|      He was big - not so much tall, but massively built across the 
| chest and shoulders. By comparison with the size of his chest the rest 
| of him looked disproportionately tiny. It was a curious effect. His 
| hair and eyes were an unremarkable colour somewhere between grey and 
| brown, and he was dressed casually in a sports jacket and trousers.
|      Lieutenant Don Scowie looked up as Linda approached, and he 
| smiled. "Well, hello there Miss Greenberg," he said.

     CAW: Wowie, Scowie!

|      "Hello Don," she replied. She turned to his companion. "I'm Linda 
| Greenberg. How do you do?"
|      "Joshua Asimov," he replied. "Pleased to meet you." They exchanged 
| pleasantries for a few moments, during which Linda smiled and continued 
| to watch Joshua. He was outgoing and friendly, but there was something 
| forced about it. Something artificial. He was putting on a front for 
| something, she was sure of it.
|      Finally: "Well," said Joshua, "I guess I'd better not keep you 
| two from your lunch any longer. Take care now."
|      "Sure thing. See you around," replied Don as Joshua walked away.
|      Don and Linda went into the diner. "He seems nice enough," said 
| Linda as they sat down. "What did he say he was in town for?"
|      Don chuckled. "At first I thought he was a gridiron player. Turns 
| out he's a talent scout from out east."
|      "Really? said Linda, mentally underlining the phrase. It sounded 
| like a euphemism to her, and would certainly make tracing this 
| mysterious Mr. Asimov more difficult.
|      "Yes. We were talking about the front-runners for the Superbowl 
| this year before we got around to discussing science fiction. Despite 
| the name he says he isn't related to Isaac, that he knows of anyway." 
| Then the waiter arrived and they made their order before moving on to 
| other topics.

     CAW: You know, I'm sure that the T-shirt art that was produced for 
Construction in Wellington in 1998 showed Limp-Asparagus Lad as having 
a normally proportioned body again.
     Swordmaster: It did. But that's just promotional material. It's no 
more true than, say, the blurb for this story as being a Topless Beach 
Party Massacre.
     CAW: It's not?
     Swordmaster: -sigh-

|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Joshua walked through town, returning the greetings of people he 
| passed in the street. He was mildly uncomfortable because all this 
| smiling at people was making his facial muscles ache. Fortunately 
| however he had extensive practice at smiling so that on occasions when 
| he - as Limp-Asparagus Lad - was the only member of the Legion of 
| Net.Heroes available to make a media appearance for some reason, he 
| could do so without alienating the audience. He was not photogenic by 

| any means, but he was no longer offputting either, and there were quite 
| a large number of journalists back in the Looniverse who mistakenly 
| considered his sobriquet of 'the world's most boring mutant' to be 
| nothing more than a gimmick.
|      So, that was Don Scowie, army engineer. 

     CAW: Wowie, Scowie.
     Swordmaster: Stop that!

|      Back when Luke and Joshua had first met [_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #43 
| - Footnote Girl] Luke had told him that he would need to give assistance 
| to somebody in this world. Further explanation had revealed that Don 
| would suffer a mishap tomorrow due to the machinations of an alien 
| invader intending to (yes Pinky) Take Over The World. With a bit of 
| careful preparation Joshua planned to keep that mishap from becoming a 
| tragedy - which in turn should snatch away Dr. Liverwurst's victory 
| from him.

|      He paused at the end of the street and looked out across the curve 
| of the bay towards the heavily wooded headlands that marked the other 
| end. Somewhere in the forests over there was the Liverwurst Place, 

     CAW: [singing] There's a light... over at the Liverwurst Place.

| where the diabolical doctor was planning no less than his eighth attempt 
| to conquer the earth; this time using the power of atomic mutation!

     Swordmaster: Yeah yeah. Plan Nine From Outer Space jokes. Been 
there, done that.

|      Joshua turned and stepped into an alley. Then he activated two 
| items which he had requisitioned from the LNH (after Luke had jumped 
| them forward a few days to a point after the Legion's headquarters had 
| been returned from being stolen by Carmen SanFrancisco). [_Writer's 
| Block Woman and Mouse_ #33-35 - Footnote Girl] 
|      The first was a stealth.thingee - which didn't so much make him 
| invisible as significantly unnoticeable. The second was a standard 
| issue flightring.thingee. Thus empowered he flew up into the sky and 
| began to circle the area. He had reconnaissance to do.
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      It was just on dusk of the same day and Joshua was hovering over 
| the testing grounds of Fort Courage,

     CAW: [singing] The end of the civil war was near, and quite 

| which was situated some forty miles inland from the coastal town of 
| Lonzark, over the mountains in a small rain shadow desert and a good 
| fifteen miles from Fort Courage itself. The Legionnaire was watching 
| as Von Velcro and his gang of leatherclads placed a bright yellow and 
| orange box on one of the concrete pads not far from where there was 
| going to be an atomic test later the next day. Then the bikers left, 
| heading towards a break in the perimeter fence that, curiously, was 
| well known to all the teenagers in town but had never been discovered 
| by the military.
|      Joshua landed and examined the box. Inside was a relatively simple 
| looking device which he nevertheless couldn't make any sense of. 
| Probably it was meant to be incomprehensible alien technology - the 
| physical equivalent of technobabble.
|      The LNHer stared at the box for a moment. He knew exactly what he 
| had to do with it. Unlike certain other net.heroes who suffered badly 
| from having mysterious and supposedly omniscient entities arrive and 
| pester them with a few cryptic comments before dumping those heroes 
| half-prepared into some harebrained plot, Luke had sat down with Joshua 
| and explained *exactly* what sort of harebrained plot he was dumping 
| the Man of Dull into. Joshua knew, from having been shown the 
| alternatives, that the most probable way of derailing Dr. Liverwurst's 
| plan to maximum effect was to leave the box here after having made a 
| few minor alterations to it.
|      Probable, but not certain. In a dramatically run universe nothing 
| was ever certain. Like Sod's Law, or a testy gamesmaster in a role 
| playing game where the players had found a rort and grabbed control of 
| the plot, almost anything was subject to change Just Because. Dramatic 
| Tension could not be maintained otherwise.
|      That uncertainty meant putting the life of Don Scowie at risk. 
| It was not something that Joshua anticipated with pleasure. 
|      Unfortunately, it seemed that there was no way that somebody's 
| life could *not* be put at risk by Dr. Liverwurst's unholy scheme. It 
| was a Plot Point, and the story would pummel into bloody submission 
| anyone who tried to circumvent it. Fortunately, the story didn't 
| particularly care what human sacrifice was made in its name, and there 
| were ways to mitigate the damage...
|      To take his mind off his disquiet, Joshua decided to try an 
| experiment that Luke had suggested. 

     Swordmaster: Finding out how many licks it did take to get to the 
centre of a Tootsie Roll. Boy, that Luke, what a kidder.

| According to the memory Joshua's drama dampening power did not 
| necessarily need to only 'dampen' Drama in the sense of reducing it 
| towards nothing. In addition, amidst the area of reduced Drama he 
| created, what Drama remained was calmed into a quiescent state (and 
| there had to be at least some; metaphysical conditions described in 
| various LNH stories over the years made it clear that it wasn't safe 
| to have a totally Drama-less area of Looniversal reality). Instead of 
| lashing out at random and causing havoc and unprovoked storylines, the 
| Drama would exist as a background resource to be tapped by those who 
| needed it. Usually this meant net.ahumans, but it also included normals 
| in desperate situations: such as a mother who had just seen a car roll 
| over her child and who needed to haul it off RIGHT NOW.
|      What Luke had suggested was that what Drama Joshua didn't exclude 
| from around his person, he would absorb and filter into a different 
| pattern. That being the case, if Joshua toned down the dampening effect 
| to its barest minimum, it would be possible for him to remain connected 
| to the Drama flow without rearranging it, and in doing so he could 
| sense the extant patterns of Drama in the world around him.
|      Thinking back, it occurred to Joshua that this was something 
| that he had done before without fully realising it. He recalled the 
| Christmas eve when he had been alone at the family farm, and he had 
| felt a stirring in the Drama field caused by the imminent death of an 
| old god. [_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #39 - Footnote Girl]
|      He tried it again now. It took him a while to even recognise what 
| he was looking for, and he was only able to tell what it was because 
| Luke had specifically said that this particular place was the nexus for 
| this story arc's most important plot point. Nevertheless, with consid-
| erable patience Joshua eventually found that there was a quantitative 
| difference in the levels of Drama in the areas on and around the 
| concrete pad of the test site. There also seemed to be a qualitative 
| difference as well. If he had to put a name to it Joshua would have 
| described it as feeling 'intractable' - but he did not know whether that 
| impression was one that he would have developed on his own or whether he 
| had come to that conclusion because of what he had already been told. 
| Something to be investigated at a later time, he suspected.
|      Joshua watched the moon for a while. 

     CAW: When you watch unto the moon, the moon also watches unto you.

| Then he steeled his resolve and removed from his belt the one of the 
| extra Plot Devices that were the third set of things that he had 
| obtained from the LNHHQ for this mission. He wired it into the box that 
| Von Velcro had left. That done, he flew back towards Lonzark.
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Linda Greenberg had discovered which hotel Joshua Asimov was 
| staying at, and had then spent the rest of a fruitless afternoon finding 
| out almost nothing whatsoever about him. Identity and credit checks had 
| turned up empty. Among other things, he certainly hadn't been seen over 
| at the high school. The American Football League had only been formed 
| two years ago and was continuing to draw interest from sports fans 
| across the country. Any prospective league football players at Lonzark 
| High would have been thrilled to even talk with an AFL talent scout, but 
| there had been no sign of him.
|     After that she had spent a considerable amount of the late after-
| noon casually staking out his room. He hadn't arrived back until several 
| hours after sunset, and to her mild surprise he didn't seem to have a 
| car to put at the hotel's parking lot. Okay, perhaps he had simply left 
| it out on the street somewhere, but it seemed a strange thing to do 
| considering that the hotel's stretch of tarmac was barely half full.
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      The next morning Elvis Von Velcro and his stupids ambushed Pete 
| at the gas station.
|      "Well well, if it ain't Petey-boy," said Von Velcro.
|      Pete rolled his eyes. "What do you want, greaser?"
|      "Hey!" snarled on of Von Velcro's gang, taking offence. He moved 
| in to try and give Pete a knuckle sandwich, but Von Velcro gave him 
| The Digit and the bikerboy was Zonked Out.

     CAW: What? Joel, did he just do something dirty?
     Swordmaster: No, CAW, you see in the original Beach Party movies, 
the biker gang leader could freeze people into a helpless trance using 
his power of the Finger. He'd just touch a pressure point on their 
heads, and...
     CAW: I prefer my ideas.
     Swordmaster [stares at CAW, then shudders and decides not to ask]

|      "*I* give the orders about when to muss people up," snapped Von 
| Velcro in an irritated voice that said that this wasn't the first time 
| he'd had to pound the idea into their heads, and that he didn't expect 
| that it would be the last either.
|      "Yes boss," chorused the remaining conscious gang members.
|      "Hot patooties," said Von Velcro, flicking open his switchblade 
| comb and grooming his well-oiled hair. "So then. Like, where was I?"
|      "You were about to challenge me to another drag race 'cause 
| you've just finished souping up your dragsters, again," suggested Pete 
| with a perfectly straight face.
|      "Not quite," said Von Velcro without missing a beat. As he finished 
| combing his hair he waved the other bikers to take away their Zonked Out 
| companion. This they did by picking up the luckless unfortunate - who 
| was as stiff as a surfboard and could be carried much like one under the 
| arms of two people - and hauling him away.
|      "Just this morning I was thinking to myself, and I thinks, 

     CAW: [as Bart Simpson] I thinks to Mabel, I thinks...

| 'You know, that Pete Greenberg is pretty good with his dragster. He's 
| certainly beat off everybody who's challenged him to a *race* in the 
| past few years.' But then I thinks to myself, 'I wonder what it's like 
| in *endurance*.' "
|      "And what's that supposed to mean?"
|      Von Velcro rolled his eyes with exaggerated patience. "It means 
| that me and my stupids here have gone and put a marker just like this 
| one," he said, holding up a big yellow and orange baton about the size 
| of a breadbox, "out on the Fort Courage testing grounds. Right in the 
| middle of the pad that's closet to the fence so's as you can't miss it. 
| I thought it would be a good test of how far your wheels can run if we 
| timed how long it would take you to get there and back with the marker."
|      Pete looked dubious. "What has a timed run to do with the car's 
| endurance?"
|     Von Velcro ignored the question and just shrugged. "Well, if you 
| don't think you can do it..."
|      "I didn't say that!" snapped Pete. "What have you got to do the 
| timing?"
|      "Hey, this pair of stopwatches," said Von Velcro, holding them up. 
| "One for each group. Just so's as nobody can say either side wasn't 
| playing fair." He tossed one to Pete. "We just start them now," and he 
| did, "and we'll find out how good your car really is."
|      Pete scowled at Von Velcro and clicked the stopwatch on. "Yeah. 
| We will." Then he leapt over the door of his dragster and into the 
| drivers seat, and roared off.
|      The bikers watched him go. Then Von Velcro smirked as he clicked 
| his stopwatch off and tossed it to one side. He didn't plan on needing 
| it anymore.

     CAW: Ah, kids. Aren't they implusive?
     Swordmaster:  Makes you wonder if they'll ever get their voting age 
lowered to 18 in this world's history.

|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))

|      And well you may ask, where was Dr. Liverwurst during all of this? 
| Let us adjourn to the flooded catacombs beneath his secluded manor in 
| the hills...

     CAW: Well, we didn't ask, actually, and it's a little presumptuous 
of you to think we would.

|      Dr. Liverwurst appeared from the darkness of one of the tunnels, 
| punting a small boat up to the dock. The only light down here was given 
| off by a few burning torches set into sconces on the walls. Dr. 
| Liverwurst was dressed in what looked like a wide brimmed hat and a 
| cloak. As he stepped up onto the dock a robot butler - who looked 
| vaguely like Robbie the Robot - approached and annunciated in an 
| impeccable BBC English accent, "Mister Von Velcro has been in contact 
| and reports that his mission is on schedule. Mister Greenberg is 
| expected to be at the Fort Courage testing range at the appropriate 
| time, as planned."
|      "Excellent!" exclaimed Liverwurst, and unable to resist the 
| dramatic impulse whipped off his hat and flung wide his arms. This 
| theatrical gesture showed off his clothing for the first time: it may 
| not have been the suspenders and garters of the mad alien scientist 
| from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it *was* the robe with the two 
| giant handprints from Manos: The Hand Of Fate.
|      "Prepare the mind control ray, Gernsback!" he told the robot, 
| whipping his hands about into another melodramatic gesture; this time 
| with one extended finger pointing blasphemously at heaven (actually, 
| upstairs to the north tower where said mind control ray was housed). 
| "Before the day is out my greatest plan shall be set in motion! And 
| then the planet Earth shall be mine!"

     CAW: You know, I was hoping for Riffraff rather than Torgo. He does 
a much better musical number.

|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      It was about an hour before noon. In the bunker several miles from 
| the blast site various personnel were making final preparations while 
| General Adam Policy-Direction and Major Philip Television-Event 
| conferred between themselves. Lieutenant Scowie approached them and 
| saluted. "Equipment installed, sirs. We are ready for final tests. The 
| noon detonation timetable holds steady."
|      "Good. Carry on Lieutenant," said Major Television-Event.
|      Scowie nodded and went over to where some of his men were working.
|      The minutes ticked by.
|      At eleven minutes to midday all preparations were on schedule when 
| one of the soldiers let out a groan. Heads turned towards the man, who 
| was using field glasses to scout the weather coming in from the west. 
| "What is it Lindholm?" asked Scowie.
|      "Sir, there's someone over on the number 3 site."
|      Scowie picked up the field glasses and looked out the unshuttered 
| window. Sure enough, in the opposite direction from where the 
| 'Wunderkind' bomb was situated on pad number 1, there was a car pulling 
| to a halt on one of the other test sites.
|      "Spies, Lieutenant?" asked Gen. Policy-Direction.
|      "I'd imagine that spies would be a bit more discrete, sir," 
| replied Lt. Scowie. "Looks like a teenager. Oh, that's just great. I 
| recognise him. It's one of the beach kids."
|      Major Television-Event raised an eyebrow. "You know those 
| layabouts by sight, lieutenant?"
|      Scowie's face went carefully neutral. "This one I do, sir. He's 
| Peter Greenberg, the younger brother of my fiance," he said, upgrading 
| Linda from 'girlfriend' to 'fiance'.
|      "What do you think?" asked the General.
|      Television-Event considered for a second, and then asked, "These 
| systems are on manual, aren't they?"
|      "Yes, sir," said one of the technicians.
|      "Fine then. I recommend putting a delay of between 1 to 2 hours on 
| the detonation. That will give us time to grab the boy, put him under 
| arrest in the lockup downstairs where he can't see anything and isn't 
| at risk of being blown up, then reset the countdown sequence. We can 
| interrogate him afterwards to see if what he's up to is just juvenile 
| delinquency, or if we need to charge him with more than just trespass 
| in federal restricted area."

     Swordmaster [sarcastic] No. Just detonate the bomb and flashfry 
the gullible little petrol head. It's a matter of national security, 
after all.

|      General Policy-Direction nodded and asked the technicians, "Can 
| that be handled?"
|      "Yes, sir. Now that the equipment's set up, we can restart with as 
| little as 25 minutes preparation."
|      "Fine then," said the Major. "Scowie, take one of the men and go 
| get Mister Greenberg. Make a point of not telling him he's being 
| arrested primarily to put him in protective custody. Put the fear of 
| God into him." Then he paused. "You'd better find out if he's got any 
| friends out on the range as well."
|      "Yes, sir," said the Lieutenant, who then collected a corporal 
| and jogged out.
|      "Kids," complained the Major. "If they're not turning into left-
| leaning beatniks, they're being irresponsible beachbums."
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      As they drove out in a military jeep Corporal Anderson said, "You 
| think the Major's gonna have the kid's hide, Lieutenant?"
|      "If he doesn't, I will," frowned Scowie, "And if I don't, you can 
| bet his sister will."
|      Pete had been searching for the marker, which hadn't quite been in 
| the middle of the concrete crossroads that made up pad number 3. It was 
| pretty much typical of Von Velcro to stick it off to one side, he 
| thought angrily. Between that irritation and the wind he didn't hear 
| the jeep until it was closing on him. His first impulse was to run for 
| his dragster and speed off - there was no way that those squares could 
| keep up with him in *that*. But scrambling around on foot looking for 
| the marker among the tumbleweeds on the site had taken him too far from 
| his wheels to be able to make it back on foot before they overtook him. 
| All he could do was watch them approach in apprehension.
|      When he saw that one of the pair was Don Scowie he almost felt 
| relief - but one look at the expression on Don's face was enough to 
| scare him even more than the fact that the other soldier in the jeep 
| was aiming his gun at him.
|      "All right Peter, what are you doing here? Have you got any idea 
| how close you came to getting killed?"
|      "What?"
|      "You're in a restricted area. That's bad enough," snapped the 
| Lieutenant. "But there's also an atomic bomb being tested here today. 
| You almost got yourself blown to Kingdom Come!"

     CAW: Aaaahhhh! He told! He told! The Major specifically said not to 
tell the kid he was in danger and he went and told anyway!

|      Pete turned pale, and stammered. Don waved the boy's incoherent 
| words aside irritably. "Forget that for now. You can explain to the 
| General later. Is there anybody else out here with you who shouldn't 
| be here?"
|      "Uh... no. There's just me."
|      "Okay then, that's at least one piece of good news. And what's 
| this?" he asked, taking notice of the yellow and orange box for the 
| first time.
|      "Uhm, that's a marker. I think. At least, that's what I was told," 
| Pete said, handing it over.
|      "You'd better give me the full story."
|      The presence of Anderson's gun made Pete a little too nervous to 
| be able to extemporise. "Von Velcro said he wanted to test how fast I 
| could get out here and retrieve a marker," he said. "He didn't even 
| leave it where he said he would," he added as a sullen afterthought.
|      Lieutenant Scowie smiled nastily. Oh good. Elvis Von Velcro. Even 
| the suggestion that he was involved in this was grounds for having him 
| and his gang picked up by the military police and given a damn good 
| interrogation. The Lieutenant made a mental note to recommend it to 
| Major Television-Event. Maybe something *constructive* would come out 
| of this. Then he turned his attention back to Pete. "Okay then, get in 
| the jeep, and... What in?" he wondered as a siren went off back at the 
| bunker.
|      "That's the half minute warning that the bomb's about to go off," 
| said Anderson. "But that's supposed to be on hold!"
|      "Obviously something's gone wrong," said Scowie as he checked his 
| watch. Yes, it was closing in on noon. He looked around. "Where are the 
| trenches?"
|      "Over there," said Anderson, pointing to the earthworks some ten 
| yards from them.
|      "Come on then. Pete, get into the trench and lie down. Remember 
| your nuclear defence classes from school? Just Duck and Cover."
|      "But... My car!" complained Pete, for who all of this was 
| happening just a bit too fast.
|      "Forget the car!" yelled Scowie as he forcefully grabbed the 
| teenager and hustled him towards the trench. "You can get a new car 
| later, but you only get one life. Anderson, if he gives you any 
| trouble, sit on him!" he ordered as he threw Pete in.

     CAW: Yes, Fonzie!

|      "Yes, sir," replied Anderson with just a touch too much grim 
| humour as he forced Pete's head down.
|      Then, just as Lieutenant Scowie was starting to throw himself 
| forward into the trench as well, the bomb went off.
|      But you knew that was going to happened, didn't you?
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------
| Add Notes:
|      Credit (or blame) where it's due. The revelations about Limp-
| Asparagus Lad's drama dampening powers are a direct reply to the 
| questions raised in the second issue of Dvandom's Exarchs series for 
| the Superguy imprint. Up until then I had planned that, yes, the drama 
| dampening simply reduced the flow of Drama energy rather than creating 
| a null Drama zone (with all of the perils to the fabric of the 
| Looniverse's fabric of reality that flow from such a situation, as 
| outlined in Dvandom's _Dvandom Force_ #42 and _Stomper Files_ #4, and 
| my _Saviours of the Net_ #10b instalment. To recap: Drama is *not* the 
| lifeblood of the Looniverse, but it *is* the main cohesive force that 
| holds the Looniverse together on both physical and historical levels).
|      Anyway, after thinking over the situation and especially how 
| Looniverse is only meta-stable, I thought I'd try and do something 
| constructive with L-ALad's powers. More on this at the end of #50.
| ---------------------------------------------------------------------
| Character Credits:
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic 
| Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham).
|      CAW, Swordmaster, and the Squeaky Flying Rodent created by Badger 
| (Matt Rossi). Used with permission.

     CAW: Hey! That's us!

|      All other characters created by Saxon Brenton.
|      All characters are owned by and copyright 2003 their creators 
| and/or owners.
| ----------
| Saxon Brenton   University of Technology city library, Sydney Australia
| The Librarian "liked people who loved and respected books. And the best 
| way to do that, in the Librarian's opinion, was to leave them on the 
| shelves where Nature intended them to be." Terry Pratchett, _Men At Arms_

     Quarter Time Break
     Swordmaster wandered out of the theatre and found CAW rocking back 
and forth in what looked like some sort of bizarre ti chi exercises. 
However, Swordy's suspicions were immediately raised by the way CAW had 
varying numbers of fingers outstretched and was slowly jabbing them out 
before him. Sometimes he had them out flat, making it look as though he 
was practising a Three Stooges Eye-Poke, while at other times he was 
clearly giving an 'up yours' gesture.
     "CAW, what do you think you're doing?"
     "Hi Joel. I'm just practising my powers of The Digit."
     "Oh-kaaay," said Swordmaster dubiously. From CAW's earlier reaction 
he wasn't convinced that the mad robot didn't still think it was some 
new way for other-dimensional monsters in certain types of anime to have 
tentacle sex. "So, what're you planning to do with it?"
     "Oh. I just want to have it, just in case. My body must be a deadly 
weapon so that I can defend myself if I'm ever disarmed in combat."
     "Bwah? You're a prototype military combat robot," Swordmaster 
protested. "Your body's already a deadly weapon. You've got more ordinance 
in your one arm than in any third world country, including the ones full 
of CIA-funded insurgents. You've got so many built in guns that even 
Charleton Heston concedes that there are some valid circumstances for 
firearm control."
     "Yeah, but, what if I was disarmed?"
     "*How*!? What are the going to do? Stick your head in a bell jar and 
recycle your body for scrap?"
     "Hey! I could have my head knocked off and put onto somebody else's 
body, just like C3PO did in 'Attack of the Clones'."
     "And what a stupid plot point that was. Fine then, so you're going 
to practice martial arts so that if you ever get stuck in a body which 
doesn't intrinsically fall into the 'Don't Point That Thing At My Planet' 
category of weapon. I think I'd better tell you that there's more to it 
than doing a Moe impersonation."
     "No, there's not," disagreed CAW
     "Yes, there is," said Swordmaster.
     "No, there's not."
     "Yes, there is."
     "No, there's not."
     "No, there's not."
     "Yes, there is."
     "Well, I'm so glad we're in agreement here," said Swordmaster.
     "Yeah... huh?"
     "You know," said Swordmaster as CAW was still boggling. "In the 
movies Erik Von Zipper was taught the Finger - actually the 'Himalayan 
Suspension Treatment Finger' - in the first Beach Party film. All it 
involved was a simple touch to a pressure point on the head and his 
victim would be frozen in a trance. Oh, and like the name says, you only 
use *one* of them."
     "What? No gratuitous amounts of mega-violence?"
     "Well, that's boring. I mean, if you're not going to damage 
something, then what's the point?"
     "Mind you, if it's not pain, you could go for pleasure, but it's 
not even as though the head's an erogenous zone."
     "Although you do hear things about people nibbling on... ears."
     "Actually, it kind of makes you wonder why belly buttons aren't 
erogenous zones."
     "CAW... Shut up! The *point* I was trying to get to is that after 
Von Zipper got taught the Finger, he kept on misusing it. In every film 
it would backfire onto him. It practically became a catchcry of his 
sidekicks that their boss'd 'given himself the Finger again'."
     "Well, that's careless of him. I'm sure I can do much better than 
     "You never listen, do you?"
     "Hmmm? Sorry Joel, did you say something?"
     "Just do your practice and try to stay out of trouble."
     Then came a voiceover: "Joel, we have commercial sign in five 
     Swordmaster looked upwards. "What? We've got a Magic Voice rip-off 
as well?
     "Commercial sign now."
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