Blue Light Productions presents

| Blue Light Productions
| (and *not* Best Brains)
| present:
| Limp-Asparagus Lad #50
| A Legion of Net.Heroes title
| 'It Came From The Late Late Late Show'
| Part 5 of 5
| Written by and copyright 2003 Saxon Brenton
| Art by Fred H*mback

     Carborundum Armoured Weapon: For those who have come in late - and 
SHAME ON YOU for taking so long to get your popcorn, the movie started 
over an HOUR AGO! - Limp-Asparagus Lad has been in a b-movie based 
universe trying to thwart the evil Dr. Liverwurst from covering New York 
in chocolate sauce. With rainbow sprinkles.
     Swordmaster: The doctor was actually trying to trick one of the 
local teenagers into becoming bombarded with radiation from an atomic 
bomb test in order to turn him into a mindless giant that he could use 
in his latest attempt to take over the world.
     CAW: You forgot the caps.
     Swordmaster: No, I didn't *forget*! I left them off DELIBERATELY. 
Anyway, after Limpy dealt with that as best he could, he's now gone to 
Liverwurst's place...
     CAW: The Liverwurst Place.
     Swordmaster: Whatever. To Dr. Liverwurst's place to capture the 
alien mad scientist. In the meantime all of the teenager's friends have 
left off dancing on the beach and come to try and rescue him as well, 
which meant that Limp-Asparagus Lad had to save them as well when the 
bikers started chasing them and the killer lawn flamingos attacked. At 
the end of last episode the giant spiders had been dealt with, and now 
hopefully there'll be time to deal with the mind control ray before the 
army lieutenant who *was* turned into a mindless giant can be sent on a 
destructive rampage.

|      A short while ago:
|      Dr. Liverwurst moved through the hidden recesses of his house. He 
| was not happy. His base of operations had been overrun by swarms of 
| pesky teenagers, and his attempts to capture or destroy them had all 
| gone astray. He gnashed his teeth melodramatically. He really needed to 
| get rid of all of these interruptions. Especially that superhero Limp-
| Asparagus Lad. Dr. Liverwurst had *work* to do - and that work involved 
| trying to gain control of the irradiated Lt. Don Scowie rather than 
| having to continually bother with delousing his premises of those... 
| those... *meddling kids*!"
|      He heard footsteps and snatched up a ray gun out of a drawer.

     CAW: Hey look! It's just like the one Marvin the Martian uses.

|     He caught sight of the green glow first, and then Elvis Von Velcro 
| walked into view. "It's just me, Boss," Von Velcro said.
|     Von Velcro did not look good after the fall he'd taken into the 
| energy vats. That is to say, his body was rather badly damaged, but the 
| transformation that he had undergone had nevertheless perked him 
| up considerably. His greased back hair had frizzed out, but the most 
| obvious change was the way all of the skin and internal organs of his 
| chest were gone, replaced by a bubbling green energy that could be 
| seen percolating within his ribcage. Inexplicably, the gang colours on 
| his leather jacket had also metamorphosed from the Bats Out Of Hell 
| into Have A Psychotic Day.
|     "Hmm!" said Dr. Liverwurst, bending forward to examine his second-
| in-command's new state of being. "Resurrection of the dead! I must 
| remember to keep that in mind if the current plan to Take Over The 
| World goes astray!

     Swordmaster: We've already done the Plan Nine joke!

| I wonder what could have caused it, though? I've never seen 
| cosmoviridian energy act that way before!"
|     Then a light began flashing on a retro-tech control panel. 
| Frowning, Dr. Liverwurst moved to what looked like a cast iron fish 
| tank with filigree edging. He tapped a button and the inside of the 
| tank was replaced with another holographic display.
|      "Aahh!" went the diabolical doctor with satisfaction. As Von 
| Velcro leaned forward to get a look at the sight of the gigantic Don 
| Scowie approaching through the woods, Dr. Liverwurst made a 'eureka' 
| gesture with one hand and said, "He's finally arrived! I believe we may 
| be able to salvage something from this evening's activities after all!"
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      The immediate present:
|      "Hold up, hold up," went Pete. "You *know* this thing?"
|      "Know of him, yes," said Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Suicide Squid's 
| reputation precedes him."
|      "I've never heard of *either* of you," countered Linda.
|      "Neither of us are native to this time period, or this particular 
| version of the Earth," offered Suicide Squid. "Actually though, Limp-
| Asparagus Lad, I have met you once before."
|      This surprised the Man of Dull. "You have?"
|      "Time travel adventure," the squid reminded him. "It won't have 
| happened to you yet."
|      "Oh. Yes."

     CAW: Time paradoxes. Don't you just love 'em?

|      "In any case, we need to hurry and get back up to the house. Don 
| Scowie's arrived."
|      "He has?" Linda asked brightly.
|      "Already?" monotoned L-ALad in concern at the same time. "I would 
| have thought it would take longer for him to reach here from the 
| hospital at Fort Courage."
|      "Hospital?" exclaimed Linda.
|      "Sis, there was an accident at the testing range," said Pete. 
| "Don got burned pretty badly when a bomb went off early."
|      "No," gasped Linda.
|      "I assume he's being influenced by Dr. Liverwurst's mind control 
| ray?" L-ALad asked, drawing surprised looks from both Pete and Linda.
|      "It certainly looks like it," said the Ten Tentacled Avenger Of 
| The Deep. "Blank eyes, arms held out in front of him like a zombie. The 
| usual. I overheard some of the kids on the lawn say you were planning 
| on taking out the ray. Do you know where it is?"
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded. "The information I have is that it's in 
| the north tower. Is there a quick exit out of here? I'm afraid the way 
| I came in was a lengthy tangle."

     CAW: You're assuming the north tower didn't get moved when Dr. 
Liverwurst rearranged his house.

|      Suicide Squid nodded. "There's a short cut to the sea down this 
| way. If you hurry, it won't be filled with water yet."
|     "Then let's go. Peter, Linda, take ahold of my waist again. Suicide 
| Squid, if you'll lead."
|      "Follow me."
|      They made their way down the tunnel, into the sea cave where a 
| small assortment of boats were tied up at a simple dock, and then out 
| to the surf around the base of the headland. Limp-Asparagus Lad flew 
| up the cliff, while Suicide Squid kept pace by climbing.
|      "By the way," said Squiddy as they reached the top of the cliff 
| and headed through the woods wood to the Liverwurst Place. "There's 
| something that you should know for the next time we meet."
|      "Yes?"
|      "Mummies are Turned by asparagus."
|      There was a moment of silence, and then Pete said, "I don't get 
| it. You mean people's mothers?"
|      "He probably means the dead kings buried in sarcophagi under the 
| pyramids," Limp-Asparagus Lad said as they arrived at the manor.

     CAW: Hey! Don't leave your plot danglers lying around like that! 
They're untidy!

|      It was a site of semi-mayhem. The gigantic Don Scowie was standing 
| before the house, swaying in a blank eyed sort of way. Out on the lawn, 
| the beach-goers could be seen in the moonlight. Despite the fact that 
| Scowie wasn't actually doing anything some of the girls were screaming. 
| The sight of the twenty foot tall Suicide Squid approaching didn't help 
| matters.
|      "Wow, it's the guys," said Pete. "What are they doing here?"
|      "They came to help rescue you," said Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Although 
| they were supposed to have evacuated the area after the attack by the 
| lawn flamingos."
|      "What?"
|      "It is a long story. You can ask them while we destroy the mind 
| control ray," said L-ALad as he set them down near Surfer Boy. "What 
| happened?" he asked.
|      "We were trying to get in to try and do something about the mind 
| control ray," explained Surfer Boy, "but the place has been shuttered. 
| It's like trying to get through armour plate."
|      "The giant dude stomped out of the woods and has been standing 
| there the whole time, staring at the house," added Chuck!
|      "He must be receiving instructions from Dr. Liverwurst," said 
| the Self-Destructive Cephalopod.
|      "Yes. Come on, if we can get to the north tower, we can stop this 
| before... He's leaving."
|      "Dr. Liverwurst must have finished giving him commands," theorised 
| Linda quickly.
|      "He's moving a lot faster than before," observed Suicide Squid. 
| Then to Limp-Asparagus Lad he said, "You take care of the mind control 
| ray. I'll hold him here so that he can't do any damage rampaging 
| through town."
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded and flew off.
|      "But he's more than twice your height!" protested Linda. "He'll 
| pulverise you!"
|      "Don't worry ma'am. Danger is what we squids handle best."
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad arrived at the north tower and tried to burst 
| through the window into the room where he could see Dr. Liverwurst 
| cackling in the approved mad scientist manner. He bounced off, and it 
| was a good thing that he had gone limp in order to avoid cuts from 
| shards, otherwise he would have been knocked senseless by the impact 
| with the reinforced glass.
|      He glanced around, searching for another way in. In the process he 
| spared a second to note that Suicide Squid was wrestling with Don 
| Scowie, and making a pretty good account of himself against the larger 
| man because of his extra limbs.

     CAW: I still think that Destroy All Monsters had better choreography 
for the slam dunks.

|      The Legionnaire ducked down one level to where there were windows 
| that were both openable and open. He flew in and took stock, looking 
| for an entrance upwards. It was then that Von Velcro threw aside the 
| heavy wall hanging that he'd been hiding behind to conceal the glow 
| from his chest and grabbed Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Rematch time, punk!" 
| he crowed and began laying into the net.hero.
|      It was ironic in a way, thought Limp-Asparagus Lad as he tried to 
| prise off the undeathgrip of the gang leader. Von Velcro's newly found 
| super strength was so great that there was a time when his punches 
| would have severely concussed the Man of Dull, even if he were using 
| his powers. Of course, that was before Robgoblin had hit L-ALad on the 
| head with a tennis ball, transforming him into a Liefeldian vision of 
| anatomical correctness. [_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #17 - Footnote Girl] 
| The attendant power surge that had accompanied that change meant that 
| now no amount of super powered impacts that would affect the Man of 
| Dull while he was going limp. Unfortunately the LNHer still had normal 
| strength and was totally unable to force Von Velcro away from him.

     Swordmaster: Over thirty issues of ignoring the situation and *now* 
you decide to tell us this? Sheesh! Get some focus in your writing man!

|      To try and break that stalemate Limp-Asparagus Lad first flew 
| upwards a little to deny Von Velcro any traction. Then Limp-Asparagus 
| Lad tried ramming the evil minion into a wall - but the only thing 
| this did was to damage the plaster.
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad spotted the stairway leading down in the next 
| room and had an idea. He quickly flew around the room once to disorient 
| Von Velcro as to his possible plan, and then flew out over the 
| stairwell. Then he flipped himself over onto a horizontal plane and 
| began to spin around, speeding up considerably as he went.

     CAW: A creature more whirly-gig than man!

|      Von Velcro hung on, but the relaxed muscle tension of the 
| net.hero's body meant that there wasn't much that was properly firm 
| enough to grasp on to counter the increasing force of the centrifugal 
| spin. He began to slip, and grabbed hold of the Insecurity Blanket 
| that L-ALad was using as a sort of cape.
|     Which was a mistake. The thing to remember about Insecurity 
| Blankets is that they aren't secure. The blanket tore, and Von Velcro 
| was launched downwards and sideways, impacting against a railing a 
| level down before bouncing and falling several stories to the bottom 
| of the stairs.
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad was flying up the final narrow step ladder 
| before Von Velcro had even made his first bounce. The Legionnaire broke 
| through the wooden door and into the mind control room.
|      Dr. Liverwurst spun around in a pantomime of amazement. "No! 
| It cannot be!" he exclaimed, proving that despite all sensible 
| expectations to the contrary he hadn't gotten the phrase out of his 
| system during the defeat of his previous seven attempts to Take Over 
| The World.
|      "Yes, it is," disagreed Limp-Asparagus Lad simply. "Kindly 
| surrender now. You have done enough damage."
|      "Never!" cried Dr. Liverwurst, firing his ray gun at the LNHer. 
| L-ALad darted to one side. "It is my *destiny* to conquer this puny 
| planet! I will not be denied, do you hear!? You cannot possibly stand 
| against my superior intellect!"
|      "You are nothing but a self-aggrandising criminal and a cliche of 
| a mad scientist," said Limp-Asparagus Lad as he continued to fly about 
| the room avoiding the ray gun blasts. "You are exactly the type of 
| ranting mad scientist that Chris Gumprich warned us about. [In _RACC 
| Reviews_ #3 - Footnote Girl]  You add nothing to the genre conventions 
| of mad science. You are shallow and one-dimensional..."
|      "Shut up! Shut up! Shut... ARRGGHH! NO!"
|      "...and easily tricked into shooting a ray gun at your own 
| equipment," concluded the Man of Dull, landing as Dr. Liverwurst 
| stared in horror at one of the panels of the mind control ray which 
| had been reduced to a sparking, smoking ruin.

     Swordmaster [disbelievingly] Now Brenton is referencing reviews 
articles as well?
     CAW: Well, Rossi used it as a plot seed when I won an ACCie award.
     Swordmaster: So I'm supposed to feel better that they're as whacked 
as each other?

|      Dr. Liverwurst rounded on Limp-Asparagus Lad, furiously intent on 
| wringing the Legionnaire's neck.
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad simply punched Dr. Liverwurst in the gut, 
| dropping the alien would-be conqueror to the floor. This was getting 
| repetitive. Perhaps he should learn how to do Vulcan nerve pinches?
|      The Legionnaire stepped up to the consol and glanced out the 
| window. Suicide Squid was still wrestling with Don Scowie, and the 
| army had finally arrived too. Good. Turning back to the mind control 
| ray, he examined the remaining active systems.
|      There was a self destruct button, but more to Limp-Asparagus Lad's 
| interest was an emergency deprogramming sequence. (It seemed that Dr. 
| Liverwurst had intelligence enough to not create a unstoppable weapon 
| of doom that he couldn't control and for which he didn't have backup 
| fail safes.) L-ALad activated the deprogrammer. Through the window he 
| observed Scowie collapse as the mind control ray released its sinister 
| grip on him. Then the Man of Dull hit the destruct button.
|      The tower began to blow up immediately. Limp-Asparagus Lad hadn't 
| expected that. It would have been more reasonable for a delayed 
| reaction that would allow time to escape. Maybe it was a trap of some 
| sort.
|      The Legionnaire turned to grab Dr. Liverwurst, but was only in 
| time to see him flee down another on of his escape tubes. That was 
| vexing. The LNHer flew for the door to make his escape, and then the 
| tower detonated completely.
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Linda Greenberg's attention was diverted from the wrestling match 
| by the arrival of army jeeps led by Major Television-Event. She 
| flagged him down.

     CAW: You need to pull over into the pit stop and get your tires 

|      "Well, Miss Greenberg. I've got some reports that you were 
| replaced with an evil robot double. Have you got anything that will 
| throw light on that?"
|      She grinned ruefully. "Major, all I remember is being grabbed by 
| Von Velcro and his goons, being brought here, and being cocooned by a 
| giant spider. Now that I've been rescued I've found that I've lost 
| nine days. My boyfriend has been turned into a giant and seems to be 
| under the mind control of Dr. Liverwurst, and is currently being 
| wrestled by a superhero who's a giant squid. The kids here tell me 
| that when they came here to rescue my brother Peter, that they had to 
| fight off an attack by lawn flamingos that had come to life."
|      He nodded. "I think I'm getting used to the tall stories, although 
| I still prefer it when there's evidence to back it up. Lawn flamingos 
| you say?"
|      "Sure, Major," said Chuck! bringing out a box. "Even though we 
| had to chop them up, the bits are still moving. Have a look at this," 
| he said as he opened the box. "Just be careful about the beaks," he 
| warned. "They can still bite."

     CAW: nO! dOn'T LoOk iN tHe BoX!

|      The Major looked at the contents of the box for a few seconds, 
| then up to where the two giants were still thrashing about. "And is 
| that fellow with Lt. Scowie this Limp-Asparagus Lad that I've heard 
| about?"
|      "No sir," said Linda. "Limp-Asparagus Lad is over in the house 
| trying to destroy Liverwurst's mind control ray. That's Suicide Squid 
| trying to hold onto Don so that he can't cause damage until Limp-
| Asparagus Lad is done."
|      Just then Don collapsed, and Suicide Squid loosened his grip , 
| picked up the giant human as best he could, and carried him over to 
| the spectators, calling, "Medic!" Meanwhile he was thinking, .oO( Hmm, 
| he *is* light for someone so tall. During the fight I wasn't so sure. 
| But now... How can someone so big weight so little? )
|      And then the north tower exploded in a fireball that scattered 
| flaming wreckage across the area. The girls all screamed. Everybody 
| ducked for cover, although Suicide Squid made a point of trying to 
| protect Don's head and upper body as best he could.
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad flew out from the fireball. He was badly singed 
| but had been able to weather the force of the blast. He landed beside 
| the others and commented, "It seems that Dr. Liverwurst's melodramatic 
| tendencies run to pyromania."
|      "Did you get him?" demanded Surfer Boy. 
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad shook his head. "He used another escape tube. 
| Elvis Von Velcro is still is there as well. I think he's been 
| transformed into an undead of some sort." Then he addressed Major 
| Television-Event specifically. "I am afraid that securing the house 
| will be very dangerous with them still active, as well as any more 
| robots and giant spiders that Dr. Liverwurst may still have available 
| to him, plus the possibility of other things that we may not have 
| encountered yet."
|      The Major nodded. "I'll take that into consideration, thanks son. 
| Now what direction was he heading in when you last... What in tarnation?"
|      A rainbow glow had sprung up around the Liverwurst Place. There 
| was a roaring noise - appropriately enough sounding something like a 
| rocket - and then the entire building plus a large slice of ground 
| from beneath it slowly rose up into the air and sailed away into the 
| night.

     CAW: Although there seemed to be the image of the house left behind.
     Swordmaster: CAW, don't reference the Rocky Horror goofs.

|      Someone managed to gasp, "Hoh-lee cow," but apart from that the 
| audience did little more than gape for a few seconds. Then it occurred 
| to one of Major Television-Event's men to radio Fort Courage and get 
| them to track it on radar, only to be informed that they could detect 
| no bogies having lifted off from their location on the coast.
|      Wongo asked, "Do you think he'll be back?"
|      Suicide Squid nodded. "This was his eighth attempt to Take Over 
| The World. I doubt if he'll give up. He'll be back."
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      About a week later Major Television-Event was in his office 
| waiting for an explanation.

     CAW: ANY explanation! Why the sky is blue would be a good start.

|      Not about what had happened that evening at the Liverwurst Place. 
| Limp-Asparagus Lad and Suicide Squid had been very forthcoming in 
| explaining exactly what Dr. Liverwurst had been up to, and the efforts 
| that the heroes had taken to stop him. Some of it had been almost 
| unbelievable, of course, but that hadn't stopped them being forthcoming 
| about it. And, let's be honest, when you're talking face to face with a 
| twenty foot tall talking anthropomorphic squid one's suspension of 
| disbelief grows stronger than normal. The fact that the two of them had 
| been able to demonstrate their superpowers - much like the ones that 
| Don Scowie seemed to have developed - helped in that regard. Then there 
| had been Suicide Squid's sudden departure...
|      Early on Suicide Squid had made a point of warning them in advance 
| that now that the threat from Dr. Liverwurst was ended he would only 
| be able to stay in this time and place for a little while longer. 
| Apparently it had to do with being dragged across time and space to 
| confront evil. And sure enough, around eleven the following morning 
| Suicide Squid had paused in mid-sentence, said "Goodbye," and vanished, 
| leaving the Major and Limp-Asparagus Lad standing by the swimming pool 
| of Fort Courage. The stenographer that was with them started at the 
| sudden disappearance, but the Major discovered that he had gotten to 
| the point of taking these sort of things in stride.
|      No, the explanation that Major Television-Event was waiting for 
| had nothing to do with the existence of superhumanly powerful beings 
| who wanted to conquer the world, or the other superhumanly powerful 
| beings who dressed up in long underwear as part of the attempts to stop 
| them.
|      What was interesting the Major was why the boy called Luke had 
| suggested that Scowie take a one year training stint in Limp-Asparagus 
| Lad's home universe as part of the Legion of Net.Heroes.
|      Now, the so-called Looniverse seemed a reasonable enough place. 
| Major Television-Event had made a visit, met with some of the Legion 
| and had a look around. In fact, the Legion deputy leader, an ex-military 
| man called Fearless Leader, was currently in the office sitting next to 
| the Major, waiting for Luke to begin his explanation. The Looniverse 
| seemed strange in the way that you would expect a version of the future 
| to be. But it didn't explain *why* Luke had suggested such a training 
| period.

     Swordmaster: Brenton's created a new character that he wants to use 
and he doesn't feel like doing more than a single story arc set in this 

|      Major Television-Event noted that everyone present - himself, 
| Fearless Leader, Luke and Limp-Asparagus Lad - seemed to be settled. 
| He cleared his throat. "All right then. Luke, I've just spend a 
| day getting acquainted with the Looniverse. I don't see anything 
| particularly objectionable about it, but that still doesn't explain 
| why you think it's important that Don doing some training there."
|      Fearless Leader agreed. "Granted, the Legion has some highly 
| specialised facilities for training net.ahum... sorry, superhumans 
| they'd be called in this world. But from what I've seen here I don't 
| think Fort Courage would be lacking if they decided to handle it 
| themselves."

     CAW: Actually, they don't have enough whips and bondage racks.

|      Luke nodded. "Those are fair enough questions. The answer is a bit 
| metaphysical. It has to do with paradigm shift."
|      "Very well then," said the major. "Outline your case, and we'll 
| try to keep up."
|      "Okay. The main point isn't really whether Don Scowie gets 
| training here or with the Legion. What's important is that in the long 
| run he gets to operate as superhero and be moderately visible at it. 
| Training with the Legion would simply make that task slightly easier."
|      "Fine then," said Fearless Leader. "That leads to the question, 
| 'why should Don Scowie be a superhero?' This world isn't the Looniearth. 
| It's not a world that works like a superhero comic book. From what 
| you've said, it's nature is something more like that of a SF adventure." 
| He preferred not to describe it as a b-movie world. "Why should we go 
| to the effort of engineering a situation that's so contrary to the way 
| this world works? I can't imagine a public superhero phenomenon being 
| anything other than short lived under those sort of circumstances. 
| What's the payoff?"
|      "It wouldn't necessarily be short lived if it was done in the right 
| way at the right time," said Luke. "And at the risk of being melo-
| dramatic, the payoff is that it will be vital to the long term survival 
| of this world. That's the part of the explanation of why that's the 
| metaphysical bit.
|      "You see, for the next decade or so, this world will be going 
| through a period when it will be easily manipulated by shifts in the 
| population's perceptions - both conscious and subconscious. All it 
| will take is the establishment of one moderately high profile army 
| sponsored superhero team to start the ball rolling, and this world 
| will slowly evolve from a b-movie reality into something resembling 
| more of a superhero one. There will still be the same number of 
| monsters and alien invaders, of mad scientists and people being changed 
| by freak accidents. But as things stand now, these things are almost 
| always *threats*, because that's the way most people *perceive* them. 
| It's the way the fabric of this world's reality works at the moment. 
| The old 'science fiction elements of 1950s b-movies being used to 
| express the subconscious Cold War era anxieties' thesis."

     Swordmaster: Actually, its another one of Brenton's 'How the world 
works' essays. A multivolume dissertation cunningly disguised as an 
ongoing comic book series.
     CAW: Just like Alan Moore's _Promethea_.

|      Major Television-Event shifted in his chair. "And this is the way 
| reality works? It's just people's collective beliefs?"
|      Luke shook his head. "Not always. Sometimes reality is preset from 
| the word go at the Big Bang. Sometimes its created by a god who 
| occasionally interferes with either interventions or full upgrades. 
| Sometimes it's a reflection of the population's collective beliefs. And 
| sometimes it's all these things at the same time. Like I said, in this 
| world reality will be heavily influenced by collective belief for the 
| next few decades. Then it'll move back into a more rigid structure."
|      The Major sighed. "That will be a hard one to swallow. And even 
| though I'm prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt on this, it 
| will be even harder to sell to the top brass and Congress."
|      "Yes," said Luke. "I know. I'm sorry about that. 

     CAW: Let's kiss and make up, snugglebuns.

| It might be best to emphasise the notion of a super team as both a 
| strategic initiative combined with a public relations exercise, and 
| leave out the metaphysical reasons."
|      At this point Limp-Asparagus Lad broke in. "So you are saying 
| that Don's example would be the start of a public acceptance of 
| superhumans."
|      "Yes," agreed Luke. "And that's pretty important. This planet will 
| be under pressure from all sorts of weird stuff over the next few 
| centuries. Actually, it will continue to have all sorts of weird 
| menaces turn up at random even after that time, since it's going to be 
| almost impossible for it to totally transcend the conventions of it's 
| b-movie origins. It's like the way that the Looniverse won't ever be 
| able to fully transcend its origins as superhero parody. But anyway, 
| in the late 24th century the people of this Earth should have achieved 
| faster-than-light interstellar travel and will most likely have joined 
| the other peaceful civilisations in this region of the galaxy in trading 
| relationships. At that point the whole thing will begin to shift into 
| space opera mode, and the Earthlings will have some political clout to 
| help fend off the invasions by the bug-eyed monsters that are actually 
| hostile."
|      "And if the superhero movement that you're proposing fails, or 
| doesn't get started in the first place?" asked Fearless Leader.

     CAW: Then Sauron gains the One Ring and the world falls into eternal 

|      "Then the darker beliefs about continual threats from the unknown 
| will begin to feed into the way that reality works instead," Luke 
| replied. "And that won't just be from supernatural or extraterrestrial 
| threats either." He looked at the Major. "You recall how in the 
| Looniverse the Cold War ended in the late twentieth century? Good. 
| Well, even though Dr. Stomper warned you that because this is a 
| different Earth and that history could well be different, it won't be 
| if what I'm suggesting can be organised. There'll be differences in 
| *how* it happens, but the overall pattern will be the same. Now, if 
| this world goes dark instead, then Cold War political paranoia will 
| begin to feed into reality as well as fears about the weird stuff. The 
| result won't be pretty. There are uncertainties about things so far 
| into the future that even I can't untangle, but the main direction 
| that I can see is that this world will turn into a dystopia that's 
| equal parts sci fi horror and flim noir. In the mid 22nd century a 
| cabal of wannabe world conquerors will launch an overambitious plan to 
| start a war between the superpowers of that time in order to weaken 
| the existing political orders so that they can take over themselves. 
| That scheme rapidly gets out of hand, and the resulting atomic war 
| reduces the planet to a radioactive cinder."

     Swordmaster: Cue the final scene from _Beneath The Planet Of The 

|      That sobering revelation hung in the air for a few seconds as 
| none of them spoke. 
|      "Well then," said Major Television-Event at last. "That's clarified 
| that." He thought it over for a few seconds. Most of Luke's predictions 
| seemed to have been correct so far, including that Scowie's powers 
| included both rapid recovery from radiation as well as growth powers. 
| Even taking into account the boy's warning that trends too far into the 
| future were subject to uncertainty, as well as adding in a bit of 
| defensive paranoia that he might not be telling everything for his own 
| purposes... If even half of what he were saying were correct, there 
| were certain trends that it would be wise to at least *try* to head off.
| "I can put the question to Lieutenant Scowie later today, but even if 
| he declines a temporary transfer I guess I can begin preparations for 
| a superhero project anyway."
|           ((((((((((OOOOO)))))))))
|      Back in the Looniverse, several weeks later.
|      (Comfortably after the retrieval of the Legion of Net.Heroes 
| headquarters from Carmen Sanfrancisco *and* after the events of the 
| Birth Of A Villain cascade, but before the end of the world... no, wait, 
| *an* end of the world... in the first _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ annual. Yes, 
| that means it's still 1999 here. Yes, that means the Bicycle Repair Lad 
| story in issue 45 is out-of-sequence. Yes, I wish I'd write faster too. 
| However, I do appreciate the nomination for the Image Testimonial 
| Timepiece (Batteries Not Included) for lateness in the annual RACCies 
| awards. Anyway, let's just move on and try to do something 
| constructive, shall we?)
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad was waiting while Don got changed into his 
| Legion costume. Luke teleported in. "Hi there," he said. "How's 
| everything going?"
|      "Everything seems to be fine," the Man of Dull replied.
|      Then Fearless Leader arrived. "Okay, the paperwork's all done." 
| Then he added, "I suppose this is the point where we make an inspiring 
| announcement about how we're about to begin shaping the future."
|      Luke gave him an amused grin. "We do that all the time. All of us. 
| It's called 'living'. Even if you limit it only to world shaking 
| changes, it's hardly uncommon in the superhero line of work." He turned 
| to L-ALad. "It may be a bit different to the way you do it, but the end 
| result is much the same: the activities of a single person can make 
| all the difference."
|      *That* comment surprised Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Pardon?"
|      Now it was Luke's turn to look surprised. "Sorry, I though you 
| would have worked it out by now. When you use your drama dampening 
| powers to realign the Drama flow to make it less extravagant [_Limp-
| Asparagus Lad_ #46 - Footnote Girl], that isn't just a temporary effect 
| or a local phenomenon. Your Writer's been chewing over the meta-stable 
| state of the Looniverse and it's need to import Drama from other, less 
| cinematic universes - especially considering that he's one of the people 
| who picked up the idea and ran with it to create the current rather 
| perilous situation. So he's arranged things retroactively so that ever 
| since you started using your power, what you do is coax the Looniverse's 
| reality into slowly becoming less wasteful of its Drama energy over all. 
| The chaotic destructive forces of wReamentropy are slowly coalescing 
| into a more stable form called wReamenergy. The effect is still limited 
| to the north continent at the moment, but as time passes 
| more and more of the Looniverse will store Drama away in a quiescent 
| state for later use rather than using it up as soon as it becomes 
| available. It won't ever eliminate the Looniverse's need for Drama to 
| be brought in from elsewhere, and the fabric of reality will still 
| crumble to nothing if it's ever totally deprived of Drama, but it will 
| improve your universe's chances of survival in the long term."
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad considered this. However, it was Fearless Leader 
| who beat him to a punchline: "It's nice to see one of the Writers doing 
| something constructive for a change," he said. There wasn't any of the 
| anger in his voice that could have been there, but it was a considerable 
| amount of weary irony in it.
|      Don Scowie exited the changing rooms. "I have to admit, I hadn't 
| expected my hair to grow back," said Don, brushing his palm across the 
| growth that was beginning to show on his scalp. Then, a bit dubiously, 
| "And certainly not in that colour."
|     It was a bit strange, but not that much of a problem. At his normal 
| size his hair was still black, but whenever he grew to giant size his 
| hair turned green.

     Swordmaster: I was wondering about where the gamma rays would come 
into it.

|     Fearless Leader shrugged and said, "It might make it easer to 
| maintain a secret identity."
|     Don nodded. "True." Then he pulled his open face mask up into 
| place. Limp-Asparagus Lad briefly wondered whether New Look Lass had 
| been influenced by similar open faced masks of characters such as 
| Leviathan from the Legion of Super Heroes and Atlas of the Thunder-
| bolts, before putting the question aside. "How is the costume?" he 
| asked.
|     Don grinned and struck a pose. He was wearing a basic bodysuit in 
| mustard brown with an electric - nay, even 'radioactive' - shade of 
| green, arranged LSH-style with a central green bar rising from his 
| feet, up the inside of his legs and up onto both his chest and back. 
| However, instead of the bar reaching all the way to his neck, it ended 
| at chest height in an upwards pointing arrowhead. A belt with the LNH 
| logo completed the uniform.
|      Don sketched a salute. "Very Big Boy ready and reporting for duty."

     CAW: Donuts for everyone!

| -------------------------------------------------------------------
| Character Credits:
|      Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic 
| Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham).
|      CAW, Swordmaster, Squeaky Flying Rodent, and the RACC.tre created 
| by Badger (Matt Rossi). Used with permission.
|      Fearless Leader is Public Domain. Created by Dvandom (Dave Van 
| Domelen).
|      Suicide Squid is the rec.arts.comic* mascot and is Public Domain.
|      All other characters created by Saxon Brenton.
|      All characters are owned by and copyright 2003 their creators 
| and/or owners.
| -------------------------------------------------------------------
| Add Notes: 
|       A big thanks to Jamas Enright for not just the usual sterling 
| editorial comments, but for suggesting up to about half of the MiSTy 
| dialogue for Swordmaster and CAW.
|      The name Very Big Boy comes from the 1994 Worlds Collide crossover 
| between DC and Milestone. In the final part in _Static_ #14, an ersatz 
| League of Superteens mission monitor board showed the status of various 
| members. These included Frat Boy and Procrastination Lad, who as Mystic 
| Mongoose pointed out in _Retcon Hour Omega_, were ripped off from 
| the LNH without permission! (waggles finger admonishingly!) So I'm 
| reciprocating by ripping off other names from the same monitor board :-P

     Final shot as the credits finish is of the silhouettes of CAW 
(carrying the Rodent) and Swordmaster getting up and leaving the theatre.

| ----------
| 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_

     "Well, at least that's over," said Swordmaster. "One last skit and 
we can go home."
     "So what's it going to be?" asked CAW. "Are we going to think up new 
types of hybrid monsters that Dr. Liverwurst could have made?
     "Well, considering that this is supposed to be the fiftieth issue of 
the _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ series, we should probably do an anniversary 
skit. With Limp-Asparagus Lad himself."
     The RACC.tre - grim and ghostly guardian of comic book style 
justice - walks in dressed as Limp-Asparagus Lad.
     "Hi there Limpy," greeted CAW.
     {< Hello CAW, >} said the RACC.tre in a passible imitation of Limp-
Asparagus Lad's monotone.
     "So then," said Swordmaster. "You've reached the big five-oh. How 
does it feel?"
     {< Actually, considering that the Writer has 'jumped around' so many 
stories that he planned but never got back to, we haven't really reached 
issue 50 yet. >}
     Swordmaster looked pained. "Geoffrey," he said, dropping out of the 
pretence for a few seconds. "You're supposed to imitating Limp-Asparagus 
Lad, not reprising your old ID as the Digresser."
     The RACC.tre looked slightly miffed. {< I *am* imitating Limp-
Asparagus Lad. If I was Digressing you'd be unconscious by now. >}
     "He's right you know," said CAW.
     "Yeah, I guess."
     {< And I do get huge slabs of rather tedious exposition as part of 
my dialogue, >} added the RACC.tre.
     "Who?" asked CAW. "You, Limp-Asparagus Lad, or you, the Digresser?"
     {< Me, Limp-Asparagus Lad, >} said the RACC.tre. {< I'm not the 
Digresser anymore. >}
     "Well, you wouldn't be if you're Limp-Asparagus Lad, would you?" CAW 
pointed out helpfully.
     "CAW, shut up," said Swordmaster. "Okay then. You've still got 
about thirty or so issues under your belt. What have been your favourite 
     {< Well, I rather liked the return of Exclamation!Master! in issue 
13. It nicely showed the way some people cannot resist the allure of Evil. 
Even after all the efforts that the net.heroes had made to reform him, 
he deliberately went out of his way to threaten his own son just to 
prove that he was a world class villain, thus highlighting the fatal 
flaw in liberal theories of imprisonment for the purpose of correction. 
Some people are obviously inherently and irredeemably EVIL and must 
be EXPUNGED from the face of the world WITH FLAMING SWORDS OF 
BLOOD!!! >}
     "I think you really are slipping out of character this time," said 
     {< Really? Whoops, sorry. >} said the RACC.tre.
     "Uh, yeah. So, any other favourite stories?"
     {< Issue 2 was nice. >}
     "Issue 2?"
     {< The one where everyone thought that because I ate healthy food I 
was a sponge minion of Barney the purple dinosaur. >}
     "And let me guess... You liked this issue because it highlighted the 
cosmic threat of Barney's Evil and acted as an incentive for people to go 
out and kill anyone wearing a Barney costume in an orgy of violence and 
bloodshed," hazarded Swordmaster.
     {< Why, yes. Of course. >}
     "Okaaayyy then. Well, I guess that just about wraps it us for us," 
concluded Swordmaster. "Thanks for talking with us."
     {< My pleasure, >} said the RACC.tre.

     "Commercial sign... now."

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