Limp-Asparagus Lad #53 A Legion of Net.Heroes title "The Shadow Labyrinth" Written by and copyright 2004 Saxon Brenton Art by Richard Sc*rry -------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Olde Net.ropolis Towne is looming up on the top right of the cover in a Bela Lugosi pose, and casting a shadow diagonally down across the rest of the scene. The area of the shadow contains a hedge maze, within which the other characters are wandering. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Elizabeth stopped and frowned. Wendle looked back at her, wondering if she had caught the scent of some new threat. "What is it?" he asked. "Have you noticed that this street is turning into a tunnel?" He paused for a second as he realised that she was right. "I hadn't, actually," he admitted. "I was so busy keeping a watch out for nasties that I wasn't paying too much attention to that." Crud, that sounded like excuse making. He put that aside and focused on the topic of the street. Thinking back on it, it was suspicious how gradually, even surreptitiously, things had changed. He remembered how the street surface had slowly deepened in the middle to form a central drain, because both of them had voiced their conscious choice to walk on either side of the central rivulet of slurry. Similarly he also remembered when the first two bridges had crossed overhead, because there wasn't anything like that in the real Shimbleshanks, even on the really steep side facing towards the harbour. However, after that he hadn't paid much attention to them, and so couldn't precisely recall when the street had begun to be crossed by an increasing number of increasingly wide overpasses and viaducts, causing them to to spend more and more time under cover than out in the open. The occasional street lamps were placed high enough above the brickwork of the bridges that the street was divided starkly into bands of diffuse illuminated mist in the open and damp stygian shadow under cover. The profile of the street had continued to sag in the center as well, making the place even more like a culvert than a thoroughfare. "Do you want to backtrack?" asked Wendle uneasily. The vampire looked at him. "You sound doubtful about that." "Well, yeah. I am. I really don't trust this place." He felt unsure of himself in this creepy area without the type of information he needed to make a proper strategic decision. Of course, if what he was beginning to suspect was true, then hopefully the choices he made wouldn't make much difference anyway. Then he shrugged and started walking back the way they had come. "We may as well try it out, I suppose." "God, you are so calm about this," Elizabeth complained, despite him just having more than half-confessed otherwise. "No, I'm not, actually. But I've got a feeling that things might not be as bad as they seem," said Wendle. "What makes you say that?" "We aren't wandering around alone in the dark anymore," he said, then realised that that would make no sense whatsoever without further explanation. "I mean, the Phantom Raspberry Blower went to the effort to separate us all. Probably to scare us more, I suppose. But we ran into each other. My guess is that Joe has used his powers to pull strings so that we all begin to meet up in the one place." "So we all wander to the edge and escape together?" She sounded vaguely hopeful at that. "I kind of doubt it. We all wander to the villain's lair and then dogpile on the bad guy, would be more like it. That's the way net.heroes tend to work." Then he added thoughtfully, "If nothing else, that's a different enough plan from what he's probably expecting that the Raspberry Blower wouldn't realise how much trouble he's in until it's too late." "What, from you?" she asked sceptically. Wendle bridled but managed to remain civil. "No, not from me, -actually-. I'm just the token normal person," he said. "But when the others figure out how to unblock their powers, I imagine that they'll come down on the Raspberry Blower like Godzilla stoked up on angel dust. And Odin only knows what Harris will do to him." He gave her an interrogative look. "Don't you want to see a bit of justice done?" "I want to get out of here," she said angrily. "I'm growing sick and tired of all of this weird crap rearing its head and trying to complicate my life. I don't *want* to hang around in strange little cliques of self- proclaimed 'secret masters' scheming against all the other cliques of secret masters in some bizarre world where everything you know is supposed to be a lie." She realised that she had her hands balled into fists. Angrily she unclenched them and shoved them into her pockets where they would be out of the way. "I've seen enough of how the vampires think the way the world works to realise that when they tell themselves they're part of the hidden realm underlying the real world that makes everything else possible, they're really just self-important parasites hanging on to the side. And I'm ready to bet that that's the same with all the other hidden groups and conspiracies as well. Human society is where all the energy is, all the vitality. All the weirdos and freaks who can't handle being in the mainstream just tell themselves that they're the real prime movers because they can't cope with the idea that they're just sad little nobodies who can only get attention when they're terrorising people." Wendle simply nodded. He'd heard versions of that argument before, although nowhere near so venomously expressed. There were certain of the nightkindred who though that deliberately creating a barrier between themselves and the normals based on lifestyle was dangerous. That hiding behind the role of 'the Other' ran the risk of confusion setting in and the role being adopted as the reality. That wallowing in the 'weirdness schtick' of belonging to another world that mundane people couldn't begin to understand would ultimately result in alienation, despair and mental decay. Of course, taken to their logical conclusion, both versions of that idea also applied to superheroes. No wonder Elizabeth wasn't impressed with the idea of Joe and the others regaining the use of their powers and then trouncing the Raspberry Blower. "I'm not going to argue with any of that," he said, trying to be as reasonable as possible. "But just keep in mind that sometimes when you're attacked - especially if it's from something that the mundane world can't deal with or even recognise - that you have to be prepared to defend yourself and squish your enemies like a bug." Elizabeth snorted but didn't offer any other objections. Eventually Lenny realised that Bruce was having trouble with the sky. They could actually see the sky now, such as it was. The two of them had been travelling at roof level through the place that was either the suburb of Shimbleshanks gone all strange, or a dodgy pod-person imitation of it. During that time the fog up here had thinned away to almost nothing. The spirit being wasn't sure why this was a problem - if anything it should have made things easier - but it was beginning to affect their progress. Bruce paused at the edge of a building, and, as Lenny had come to expect, briefly glanced upwards before turning his attention to the street below. "Hmmm," went Bruce, and Lenny looked down as well. There was another square below them. The man and the squirrel-shaped spirit creature had encountered a few of them so far this evening, where the twisty pattern of narrow olde worlde streets had briefly opened out into a larger area that was too wide for Bruce to pole vault across. It hadn't been particularly troublesome so far; they'd simply made brief detours around them. Now Bruce said, "You know, if I didn't know better I'd say we were being tracked, and this was deliberately put in our way." 'This' was a churning cauldron of fog that filled the square to a height of about two or three stories. It was dense and subtly illuminated from below and was swirling around with noticeable speed. Then, as they stood watching, the vapours congealed into the shape of opening lids on an enormous eye, which then stared at them with a dispassionate interest that was most unnerving. Bruce quickly stepped back from the edge and out of sight. Lenny asked, "We are still invisible, aren't we?" "We should be. But I'm beginning to wonder if that's enough," Bruce said, before adding philosophically, "A hunter doesn't need to see his prey when he can follow it by its tracks in the sand." He scanned to his left and right along the tops of the adjacent buildings, assessing them for the best route to take, and despite himself glanced up again. Then he frowned as he caught himself in this action and deliberately forced himself from it. "Is something wrong?" Bruce grunted. "The sky feels wrong," he said grumpily. "I know it's just an illusion, but I keep getting the feeling that it's lowering in on me." From where he sat on Bruce's shoulder Lenny craned his face up at the sky. It was empty. No fog or clouds. No stars or moon. No city light haze (not that Lenny really wanted to complain about *that* being absent). There was just a blank emptiness. "I don't understand." Bruce looked at him. "Don't spirit creatures ever suffer from optical illusions or tricks of perspective?" "No." "Not even spirit creatures that have been trapped in material form and have to put up with limitations of the physical body?" The sarcasm was totally lost on Lenny. "No." Bruce gave up trying to needle the yabon. "Humans and other animals have built-in skills for pattern recognition," he explained. "It's how we survive in our environments, especially how we recognise danger. But sometimes that runs away from us and we get tricked into seeing things that aren't there. We get incomplete information, our minds try to play join the dots, and we come to the wrong conclusion. You with me so far?" "I think so." "So that blank sky is like nothing I've seen before - and I've been through some weird stuff with you, remember. That total darkness feels more like a dark cave than anything else, and despite myself I keep wincing back in case I run full tilt into a low ceiling or sudden wall." "Oh. Right then, I see the problem. Do you want to get back to street level?" "No. It's just trick of the mind, after all," demurred Bruce. "Come on," he said, pointing around the square. "We've still got some travelling to do." As they continued back along the semi-enclosed street Elizabeth and Wendle began to hear noises up ahead beyond the crest of the causeway, and approached more carefully. Over the crest the ground dropped away into a steep hillside surrounding a very large bowl-shaped valley - something that they had most definitely not seen anything like on their way through the first time. The hill was seemingly made of terraces. Fog lay heavily across the lower levels, obscuring whatever was down there, but scattered distantly down and across the slope could be seen protruding upright stones. Even on the upper terraces those menhirs were veiled by at least some vague tendrils of mist, while at the same time all of them were also marked by the flickering of small fires near them or at their base. There was a lot of agonised screaming coming from the directions of those stones. Just rising above the distant horizon was an impossibly large moon whose dark seas sketched out the suggestion of a leering skull. "Oh for crying out loud..." said Wendle as he quickly ducked back. "Lurid and lacking in subtly." "Yes," agreed Elizabeth with revulsion in her voice. "Look at this," she added, pointing to where the walls of the causeway ended. There was dried blood on the rough hewn rock. Wendle had a sudden instant of panic that the scent of blood might send her into a feeding frenzy or some- thing, and was therefore both surprised and relieved when she asked quite collectedly, "Do you still want to go down through that?" "I don't *want* to go anywhere," he replied shortly. "But there's not much point in trying to skirt around things anymore. Not if this place is as changeable as that. We'll just have to keep moving." "Why?" she challenged. "If your friends are such bigshots, we could just find a defensible position and hold out until they fix the problem and come back for you, right?" Wendle shook his head. He just felt instinctively that they had to keep moving... But how to explain it? For a second of despair he realised that he couldn't even sure that his assumptions were right. His meeting with Elizabeth might have been coincidence, or even orchestrated by the Raspberry Blower. For all he knew Joe might be dead... No. If Joe had been killed, then he would be back by now, and boy would he be ticked off. Movement in the shadows behind them further down the causeway caught Elizabeth's peripheral vision. Two figures appeared. Elizabeth's reaction was a gasp of horror. Wendle's was more prosaic: "Aw crap! Not Evil Twins again!" he complained. The vampire double attacked immediately, and was met by an equally animalistic response from Elizabeth. Suddenly all of the anger that had been in her during that first attack by the gibbering things was back, and Wendle had to admit that for a vampire apparently trying to hang onto her humanity the sight of the dishevelled subhuman thing with the stains of dried blood about its mouth would probably be a nasty shock. His own bete noir was nowhere near so scruffy. The Evil Twin was almost painfully neat, in well creased dark pants with a button down shirt and tie, and his hair kept short and severe. The look on his face was the worst thing: a bearing of self-righteous condescension. Instinctively Wendle knew that this doppleganger held Opinions about quite a number of things, of which there was only a narrow range that he was prepared to give his imprimatur to, and anything else had no right to exist. It was the type of creature that gave conservatives a bad name, and Wendle tasted bile rising at the back of his throat from the sense of personal insult. The two of them began to circle one another, looking for an advantageous opening to attack. Then there was a light off to one side. Fearing another attack, Wendle immediately began to edge around so that he could see what this occurrence was as well as keep his counterpart in sight. Fast as his instinctive reaction was however, he had taken no more than a step before he heard a somewhat familiar voice rang out: "In the name of Schmendrick the Magician, begone! All inharmonious and disorderly shapes and forces, depart at once! Begone!" The Evil Twins collapsed into nebulous, human-sized shadows and fled before the light. "Begone!" continued the figure, who Wendle now recognised as Professor Guttman, the Defence Against the Dark Arts lecturer at the university. He continuing to wave his glowing staff. Elizabeth and Wendle couldn't see what else might be lurking about, but they waited while he continued to abjure. In a moment the brilliance about the staff dimmed as the Professor lowered it. He sniffed the air. There seemed to be no more presences, at least that he could detect. There were certain entities that fed on fear and anxiety, and of those the filthy scarecrows who waved their broomstick arms in parody of every move you make were among the hardest to perceive, but the DAtDA teacher was almost certain that they had been driven away as well as the shadow-doubles. He nodded to the two students. "Ms Greenvale. Mr Johnson. This really is not a very safe place to be," was his neutral observation. Meanwhile, out in the city of Net.ropolis, life continued more or less as normal. There was a knock at the door. Bannon Nguyen sighed. It has been a long day at the stock exchange, he was really tired, he hadn't even had time to check the mail or the answering machine, and already he was getting knocks at the door. He loosened his tie as he turned back to the entrance. "Good evening sir, " said one of the well dressed and brightly smiling young men on the doorstep. "Have you ever considered that the writings attributed to William Shakespeare may actually have been penned by the much-maligned Sir Francis Bacon instead...?" Bannon stared at them, then said, "No thanks. I've already given at the office," and shut the door before they could try another conversational gambit. Bloody door-to-door Baconian evangelists. Terri and Joe paused and looked around warily. The winding streets had transformed themselves from narrow mediaeval laneways into something that looked more like a bombed-out industrial wasteland. The remains of half-collapsed walls and rusting girders loomed out of the mist. "I'm beginning to wonder if we're getting anywhere," Terri said. Joe was about to reply when they heard a scratching sound. Terri gripped her hands more tightly about a wooden shovel handle that she had found, when a cat bounded out of concealment, spitting at them and then racing off into the fog. Terri's eyes widened as she realised the significance of this. "A spring loaded cat!" she exclaimed, and swung about to be ready for the inevitable attack. It came immediately, as a huge jackal thing bounded out from its hiding place in the rubble, only to be met by a quick dodge and parry from Terri and a strike across its face with the shovel handle. "Ha! Toro!" called Joe, waving his arms from one side of the street while Terri tried to circle around to attack it from the other. The jackal thing shifted its head one way and then the other, squinting with its three eyes as it tried to decide on which target to attack, when suddenly the decision was taken away from it as Harris came at it on a horizontal trajectory straight for the face. It snapped and snarled, none of which did any good against the cranky kiwi. Terri moved in and began striking at the flanks. Harris feinted, the monster lunged, and the green bird used the opportunity to deliver a vicious slash to its face that left it bleeding freely above one eye. (Harris was disappointed. He had been aiming to slash the eyeball itself. Oh well.) There was one of those sudden pauses in combat. Joe and Terri stood on either side, waiting for an opening. Harris stood immediately before the creature, hissing, and with his feathers all fluffed out in antagonism. The jackal thing, now half blinded by the discoloured blood flowing freely across its face, snarled at the kiwi. Harris snarled back and took a step forward. And then another. The jackal thing broke and ran, leaping back over the rubble and away into the fog with a mere three bounds. "Thanks for the save," said Joe as they listened to it go. He cast a glance about for any other dangers but saw none, then gave the kiwi his full attention. "I take it you haven't seen the others?" he asked, prompting Harris to shake his head. "I guess we continue on then," said Terri with a sigh. She didn't feel any significant drop in tension which should have followed a confrontation like that; more incidental evidence that this was a horror setting, she supposed. "There looks like there's something over there," said Joe, pointing at some distant multi-coloured lights that faded into view in the sky. As they watched more and more lights slowly emerged from the darkness. "A trap?" Terri asked. "Could be," Joe conceded. "Can you tell?" Terri concentrated, then shook her head. "Gibberish," she said. Her powers to break the fourth wall were still blocked. For a second she felt a flush of jealously that Joe's net.ahuman abilities still worked, and she ruthlessly quashed the feeling as soon she became aware of it. Okay, yes, it would have been nice to be powerful enough to shrug aside any sort of suppression or dampening that could be thrown at her. On the other hand, she wasn't naive enough to think that that sort of power level wasn't without price. Joe's abilities to create retcons and generally mould the fabric of reality to his whim meant that... he could create retcons and generally mould the fabric of reality to his whim. 'Whim' was the operative word here, with all of the possibilities for accidents that it implied. As the three of them moved on, Terri found her mind returning to that situation. It was fortunate that Joe no longer had bouts of paranoid depression about his powers. That, of course, had changed once he'd wrested control over the ennui he felt flowing from Nicieza's Sledgehammer of Angst(tm) [_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #42 - Footnote Girl]. Organic Lass had even prescribed taking him off of the anti-depressants. Being largely free of the of the Sledgehammer's influence had not taken away Joe's concerns about inadvertently doing harm, of course. It had, however, helped him deal with them more constructively. "Hey, we're here," someone said, and Terri shook herself out of her reverie to discover the three of them standing before a huge building something like a gothic cathedral. The coloured lights that they had seen turned out to have been the glow coming from a number of improbably placed stained glass windows higher up, scattered across not just the walls but also on the steeples and flying buttresses. Gunfire broke the silence as they were attacked again. Terri and Harris hit the deck. Joe stared in amazement and irritation. "Killer robots!" he said exclaimed. The lethal machines fired with built-in submachine guns, unleashing round after round of high calibre death, which Joe choose to gratuitously ignore. "Oh for smeg's sake... You expect *me* to be intimidated by killer robots!?" Terri raised her head slightly when she realised that the gunfire was having no effect whatsoever. "What have you done this time?" she asked. "I decided that they were equipped with faulty ammo," Joe replied. "Oh. Okay," said Terri as she stood up. "For a moment I was wondering if maybe you'd zapped them with St. Barbara's Law or something." A look of bemusement briefly crossed Joe's face before he went back to glaring at the robots. "What does that one do?" he asked. "Variation of Murphy's Law specific to missiles," said Terri. "The actual flight path of a projectile won't necessarily conform to its theoretical trajectory." Joe almost smiled. "I think I've had enough of attempts at manipulating fundamental laws and having them blow up in my face for one evening," he said, referring back to the sphamming incident in #51. "I'd really like to limit using them to when I don't have any other choices." Then he added, "That was something Wendle came up with, isn't it?" "He pointed it out to me, yes," admitted Terri. The robots, meanwhile, were walking forward while still blazing away with their guns. Unlike most comic book machines, they did not seem to be capable of learning from their mistakes. "Looks like my cue to jump in," said Bruce, leaping down from above. "You're going to thwack them with your staff?" "No!" exclaimed Bruce. "Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting to use this trick at full potential?" He balled his hands together in front of him, then flicked them open in the direction of the robots in partial imitation of an explosion. The robots exploded as the kinetic force of their gunfire was redirected back at them, tearing them apart from the inside out. Bruce folded his arms and announced to the others, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." "Yeah, well. It's the dying part I'm worried about," countered Joe without bothering to look at Bruce. Bruce wasn't an Am.rec.an, and Joe knew that he had expressed irritation in the past about the lengths to which some extremist Am.rec.ans took their rights to arm bears. While this was understandable and even laudable in the case of the more obnoxious ideologues, Joe still worried about Bruce's apparent eagerness to 'make an example' of them. For his part Joe had been an accessory to murder as a pre-teen religious bigot, and it sometimes bothered him that Bruce might take 'making an example' a little bit further than simply having the gun explode in someone's hand for mere shattered bones and third degree burns. As far as Joe was concerned, exploding heads really should be restricted to people drinking froppuccinos in the RACCCafe imprint. Joe sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He wasn't being entirely fair, of course, but sometimes Bruce's lack of need for control made him uneasy and jealous. Both of them could do just about anything they could think of with their powers as long as they could at least semi-plausibly justify it. In Joe's case that meant coming up with an explanation about how something could have happened within the bounds of comic book physics and cliche. In Bruce's case it just meant coming up with a new silly pseudo-martial arts manoeuvre, the more ridiculous the better, to cause things to magically happen. Worse, Bruce's habit of not always thinking through the consequences of his actions sometimes terrified Joe, for whom one poorly considered retcon or use of excess force could mean blowing a hole in the fabric of the Looniverse. But still, Joe knew that he shouldn't have been transferring his anger from the Phantom Raspberry Blower onto Bruce. "Hail, hail the gang's all here," said Bruce, looking around. Then he frowned. "Except for Wendle." "Hopefully he'll be here soon," said Joe, turning his attention up at the cathedral-like building. "So your powers are working?" asked Terri of Bruce. This time she did allow herself to feel a bit of envy. "Yeah, for the most part. Why, aren't yours?" asked Bruce. "No." "Bugger," he commiserated. "I wonder why not." "The thing you have to understand," said Professor Guttmann after Elizabeth and Wendle's quick summary of the events that had led them here, "is that the Phantom Raspberry Blower doesn't need to block each and every superhuman power. Only the ones that pose a threat to his twisted games. He can manipulate the shape of this world and send in any number of monsters to fight for him - and people with super strength or the ability to shoot lightning bolts will not make much difference to that. Those monsters may or may not even be real, living creatures. What does he care if a few constructs are broken? He can always animate more. The super powers that he will try to be rid of are the ones that allow people to see through the illusions of his shadow labyrinth or otherwise give them an advantage in escaping. Merely being able to fight off the horrors doesn't count. Eventually his victims will tire from never ending surprise attacks and be overwhelmed." "And those type of powers would be, what?" mused Wendle. "Various forms of information gathering and divination? Extraordinary luck? Extradimensional movement and possibly teleportation?" "Among others, like healing and rapid recuperation," said the Defence Against the Dark Arts lecturer. "Have either of you noticed how tired you're feeling?" They looked a little surprised. "A bit," admitted Elizabeth. Guttmann nodded. "There's a type of enervation that pervades this place. Doing things takes more effort, and resting won't be as much help for getting your strength back." "What about reality manipulation?" Wendle asked. Elizabeth said, "You think your friend with the retconning powers might be in more trouble than you guessed?" True, it was something Wendle was considering, but he wasn't really sure, and the various possibilities kept dancing about as he tried to weight them up. "Maybe," he said slowly. For his part Guttmann was pleased and mildly relieved to find these two so level headed. Over the years most people who he had had to come and rescue from the flipside version of Shimbleshanks had been so over- whelmed with terror that more often than not they were as much a threat to themselves and their rescuer as to anything else. Elizabeth. Well, Guttmann knew from his vocation that she was a vampire - but he had always been under the impression that she was a 'daysider': one of the rebellious younger vampires who liked to stay up all day and wear bright colours, drink wine instead of blood, call themselves by names like Agnes and Irving, and pretend that they were accountants. It was supposed to be trendy or somesuch. And Wendle. Now, wasn't he working his way through university at the Legion of Net.Heroes headquarters? Yes, that was it. Good then. It seemed that the boy had encountered enough strangeness to develop a flexible and practical outlook to this sort of danger. "Depending on what sort of reality manipulation it was," answered Guttmann carefully, "there would be a good chance the Raspberry Blower would try to negate it. Does it involve superficial changes, things like controlling the elements, or changing the direction of gravity?" "He changes the cause and effect of events, basically. Well, mainly the cause. He can change why something has happened, rearranging history so that like the old cliche goes, 'everything you knew turns out to be a lie'." Guttmann didn't even need to take time to consider that one. "Dictating what is real and what is not, and why, is certainly something too dangerous for the Raspberry Blower to leave unchallenged." "So what do you want to do now?" asked Elizabeth. "If that creature goes out of his way to make it so hard for people to escape his web of lies, how do you manage to rescue people?" The Professor was seemingly unconcerned. "There are certain preparations that I have made beforehand to usurp priority from the Raspberry Blower's prohibitions. It is like bootstrapping. My spells are protected, and he will not be able to prevent me from using my magics." Wendle nodded distractedly. It briefly occurred to him that the Professor couldn't have prepared a protected spell for every eventuality, and therefore the man was probably overstating his position for the benefit of Elizabeth and Wendle's peace of mind. Frankly however Wendle's mind was elsewhere. In a way the Professor's presence made things much easier for him. He had been troubled by indecision. By rights there shouldn't be much that the library assistant could do. Not only wasn't Wendle a net.ahuman of any sort, but he wasn't even one of the normal humans with action hero status. He couldn't perform any cinematic stunts, let alone consistently and reliably pull them off. And as for surviving the inevitable cinematic collateral damage... Unconsciously he rubbed the spot where the Gingrinch Who Stole Christmas had broken his arm. On the other hand, the Writers (scheming bastards that they were) delighted in twisting story conventions. But that simply meant that while it was *possible* that either himself or Elizabeth could play a crucial part in the anticpated upcoming confrontation, it was *also* possible that they would be convenient hostages, or worse. They were like rats running around in the maze. It all made sense now that the Professor had explained the Raspberry Blower's methods to them. Wendle felt another stab of anger. Guttmann caught the sudden grimace on the younger man's face, and asked, "What is it?" "All these feelings of doubt and helplessness... They're just another tool that the Raspberry Blower is using against us, like the fear and horror. To weaken us." It wasn't a question, but the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher answered with a simple, "Yes. Of course." Then he added, almost by didactic reflex, "Much of the power of Evil involves subverting the willpower of Good to resist." Wendle glanced to Elizabeth. "There's an answer for you then. We may not be able to do anything. But we're going to go and confront him, just to *spite* him." This worried Elizabeth, and she was suddenly very glad that Professor Guttmann was there. Up until now she'd had a growing belief that Wendle was prudent and sensible, albeit somewhat over-fond of obscure knowledge. Now it seemed that his reputation on campus as a Viking-wannabe who was too much wrapped in his pride was true after all. This was a disaster waiting to happen. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: Anal-Retentive Archive Kid (Wendle), Elizabeth, Fourth Wall Lass (Terri), Professor Guttmann, Retcon Lad (Joe), and the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Olde Net.ropolis Towne all created by Saxon Brenton. Baconian evangelists swiped from Jasper Fforde's _The Eyre Affair_. Chinese Guy (Bruce) and Lenny (Ljundji) are both Public Domain and kind of sort of created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen) and Saxon Brenton. Harris the Kiwi created by Saxon Brenton, but is owned by Descrii (Ian Porell). All characters copyright 2004 to their creators or owners as applicable. Back issues of the Legion of Net.Heroes may be found at Russ Alberry's Eyrie Archives at: http://archives.eyrie.org/racc/lnh The LNH stories of Blue Light Productions may also be found at: http://www.eyrie.org/~thad/blip --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: Blast and damnation, bloody smegging heck. I was hoping to have this story arc finished off this issue, but it kept growing. We'll have to see whether it gets finished next issue. Just for the record, part of the purpose of this arc was to give Chinese Guy some on-screen time and let him make a substantial appearance in my 'main' net.comic series before he dies in _Flame Wars 4_ #3. Hopefully this would at least partly explain why Anal-Retentive Archive Kid became/will become so upset over his death in the 2nd part of the _Funeral For Some Friends_ epilogue to the FW4, and in _Limp-Asparagus Lad Special_ #1. Typically however, their interaction was mainly in #51, and the rest of the time the dynamic of the story meant that everybody was off in completely different groups. Bleah. [CGuy: "Well, I didn't want to have my face bitten off by an alien Troll, anyway!"] Shush Bruce, it's only temporary. [CGuy: "I don't want to be resurrected as an evil minion of Flipseid, either!"] Now you're just given away plot spoilers. [CGuy: "I don't care."] sighBack to the Index.