Limp-Asparagus Lad #54 A Legion of Net.Heroes title "Genre Conflict" Written by and copyright 2004 Saxon Brenton Art by Richard Sc*rry --------------------------------------------------------------------- The cover is a beautiful painting that - like many covers these days - is totally non-representative of the story inside. The scene has the Legion flying through the sky, led by Ultimate Ninja (with drawn katana) and Fearless Leader (carrying an unfurled flag with the LNH logo). Behind them the regular cast and about twenty other Legionnaires fill the sky. A blurb in the top right corner proclaims: `Contains Crunchy Continuity Goodness!' --------------------------------------------------------------------- Very Big Boy was doing some research. All the talk earlier in the evening about tesseracted storage spaces and sub-sub-sub basements had intrigued him, and he was reading up on the history of the Legion and particularly of its headquarters. He had found a quiet spot up on the roof of the LNHQ/LNHHQ to read, and unlike the claustrophobic fog-bound atmosphere over in Shimbleshanks the evening here was clear and serene. Just at the moment VBBoy was taking time out to idly watch the sky - or rather the freight zeppelins which were weaving their way across the neon skyline like large and particularly cumbersome fireflies. The sky itself was illuminated from below by the lights of the city and therefore had had pretty much all of its features washed out by light pollution. He remembered one time when he and Justin Heywood from supplies had gotten plastered, and Justin had told him how he'd never been out of the city before he'd left the Bronx to join the army, so that between the smog and the city lights Justin had never really seen the stars before. Someone opened the door to the roof and walked over. Very Big Boy turned his head and recognised Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad, who was carrying two beers. "Hey there," FATMLad said, handing over one of the beers. "What you up to?" "Just doing some reading on the LNHHQ. There seems to be a lot of stuff here. Or at least, the history covers a long period of time." Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad nodded. "Old and venerable institution. Although we've swapped digs over the years. For instance, does it mention that at the time that Marvel_Zombie Lad first called the Legion to arms against Dr. Killfile that the Legion was hanging out in a clubhouse shaped like a computer terminal that had been stuck in the ground upsidedown?" "Yeah, I think there's a mention of that in here somewhere," VBBoy said. "So what have you got then? General history?" "Uh-huh. Here, the chapter summary isn't all that long," he said, and began to read: | The building known as the Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters has | had a long if intermittent history as the rallying point for costumed | champions. Moreover, even prior to the LNH-HQ's construction at the | start of the 20th century, the site on which it was built was reported | to posses esoteric properties that made it a location of importance. | The site is believed to be a `place of power' that complements and | enhances the heroic (and theoretically, villainous) prowess of | whatever individual or group possess the location. [_Stranger Tales_ #5 | - Footnote Girl] (However, rumours that the location is in fact an | ancient Indian burial ground have never been substantiated, and these | days are taken seriously only by the overly excitable.) Definite | records of this phenomenon can be traced back to the 19th century when | the city of Net.ropolis was still named Babbagetown, and anecdotal | evidence stretches back even further. | The earliest (recorded) version of the Legion of Net.Heroes - led | by Boy Lad - was active through the late 1920s and 30s, [_Particle Man | Annual_ #1 - Footnote Girl] and came to based in the three story | Net.ropolis Hotel Grand [_Lagento 2016_ #4 - Footnote Girl] which had | closed as a result of the 1929 stock market crash. This version of | the Legion discontinued in the late 1930s, and the burden of heroic | activities were shouldered by other teams. Although the P.U.L.P. | Institute and the Classics Squad both made use of the building, neither | group resided or was permanently based there. [_Particle Man Annual_ #1] | In the late 1940s through 50s the predominant hero team was that | of the mainly British based Society of Wireless Heroes, while the | Net.tastic Nine of the 1960s were similarly headquartered elsewhere at | the Mando Building. [_Dvandom Force_ #37-38, 42-43 - Footnote Girl] | From after World War 2 through to the late 1960s the LNH-HQ building | once again reopened as the Net.ropolis Hotel Grand [_Bride of C'thulhu_ | #7 - Footnote Girl], but closed again for a few years before once again | being adopted by a net.hero team - in this case the Legion of | Net.Hippies. | After the era of the Net.Hippies, teams like the Legion of New-Wave | Heroes [_LNH: `Tsk' Force_ #6-9 - Footnote Girl] were again based | elsewhere. Even the initial reformation of the modern version of the | Legion of Net.Heroes in 1985 saw them headquartered in a smaller club- | house out in the suburbs. It was not until after the Maria Stork | Foundation was established to financially support the LNH that the team | refurbished and moved back to the site of the Hotel Grand. [_LNH: The | Early Years_ #3 - Footnote Girl] Ironically, this came at the most | fortunate time for the classic building, as it had been scheduled for | demolition in 1989 and only saved from destruction after petitions for | it to preserved as a heritage site. [_Lagneto 2016_ #4] Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad nodded, took another sip from his beer and casually shoed away an overly curious mimmoth. "That seems to cover most of the history of the building. I suppose it goes into more detail about individual instances of destruction and rebuilding?" "Uh-huh. Was it really stolen by a notorious international thief to be used as a attraction at a theme park?" "Oh yes. But the LNHQ, she's a tough old bird. She's been blown up, burnt down, shot into orbit, infiltrated by net.villains, attacked by aliens, besieged by rioters, stolen, shrunk to microscopic size, projected into other dimensions and turned into cheesecake... All of the usual things that happen to superhero bases. But the LNHQ always returns. Probably because of the comic book conventions about prestigious super team headquarters being situated prominently in the middle of a major city despite the dangers, come to think of it." "I suppose it's not safest to place to put somewhere that attracts fight sc... sorry, Fight Scenes like honey attracts flies," VBBoy said. "It's not. Not really. But then, the Looniverse is a superhero parody universe, so we don't have to worry about 'realism'; we only have to worry about the superhero cliches. Realistically though, yes, sticking a super team headquarters in the middle of a major urban area is pretty silly." He paused in thought for a second. "Take Avengers Mansion, for example. It exists over in the Marvel universe, which is one of the places that occasionally likes to put on the pretence that it can deal with superheroes realistically. In practice that usually means that they simply make the villains more vicious - but that's another rant entirely. Anyway, to give you an idea of how this sort of blind spot works, back in the early 1990s there was a war in Iraq over in the Middle East, and the local dictator puts up army installations in the middle of urban areas, which made governments and the press worldwide scream about how Saddam was using 'human shield tactics'. And they were right of course; it was nothing but a cynical attempt to keep his enemies from attacking his infrastructure because of the risk to civilians. But does this little piece of realism carry over into world of comic book cliches?" "I'm willing to bet it didn't," said Very Big Boy. "Darn straight," said FATMLad. "The only time the Avengers left their address on 5th Avenue was to set up shop on the Hydrobase, which soon got sunk by Doctor Doom. Or John Byrne, I suppose. In any case, after each catastrophe they'd end up rebuilding their Mansion in the middle of New York - usually sooner rather than later - even though they have enemies far more dangerous than a conventional army with missiles. But the point is, it was only in the alt.realities that you got stuff like antimatter bombs being used to wipe out Manhattan in order to take out the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. In the 'mainstream' Marvel timeline the property damage is usually much more limited, or easily fixed by reconstruction firms like Damage Control and then forgotten. And it's the same with the LNHQ." Very Big Boy cradled the half-finished beer in his hands, then said, "I'm still not really comfortable with all this talk about the Writers, but when you look at it like that, they don't seem to have planned things out very well, do they?" "No, not really. An awful lot of the time it's just whatever idea seemed neat at the time. Fanboy Logic, it's called." He glanced down and frowned. "On the other hand, I think in this case Brenton is being deliberately silly by including these little fellows. Go on, shoo!" he said and waved his hand at the mimmoth which had snuck back. The mouse- sized shaggy pachyderm trumped in defiance before scuttling away again. There were three figures moving in the cold and darkness. Professor Guttmann, the Defence Against the Dark Arts lecturer at Dave Thomas Deluxe, had come to this sideways version of the suburb of Shimbleshanks to rescue people from the terror pantomime of the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Olde Net.ropolis Towne. He had already found Elizabeth and Wendle, and they were now travelling with him in protective company as he searched for the remaining victims. This sort of rescue was needed every now and then. Usually once every few years when the stars were right, but during some frenetic periods it might be as many as half a dozen times a year. However, this time there was something different about the situation. It seemed as though the Raspberry Blower had been careless enough to spirit away a group of net.ahumans, including a reality manipulator who might be powerful enough to weaken - or perhaps even wrest away - control of this parasite dimension from its shadow lord. At least, that was the supposition that Wendle Johnston had put to Guttmann, and under the circumstances he saw no reason to doubt the basics of the youth's theory. And it would be a pleasure if that were indeed the case. One of the things that the Professor found annoying was that through the years he had never been able to find a way to rid the city's old quarter of the threat of the Raspberry Blower. For all that the Raspberry Blower was only one little fear feeder, it was a particularly tenacious and well insinuated predator, and there had always been other projects that had kept Guttmann from investing the time to properly root him out. It was even more infuriating when one recognised the habit of the comic book genre of designating 'recurring villains' who would return time and time again, no matter what steps you took to be rid of them. Wendle's other five companions were currently standing before a huge cathedral-like building, eyeing it suspiciously. By rights the well-lit edifice should have been a welcome relief to the dark and fog covered industrial wasteland about it, but the fun house arrangement of its windows gave the place an impression of sinister gaudiness. "Well, so much for that question," Joe said rhetorically. "This is just so obviously a set-piece trap that it's not funny," he added sourly as he began to stride up the stairs towards the front door. "Then why are we walking into it?" asked Bruce. "Because net.heroes always make a point of *setting off* traps," said Joe. "It makes for more property damage in the fight scenes; and besides, it always feels good to tear the crap out of something." "For those of us who can still set off a trap by simply tearing things to pieces," put in Terri. Joe stopped dead, as if that statement had struck a chord with him. She scowled at him and said, "Don't you dare say anything about whining..." "I'm *not*!" snapped Joe. "We're all under stress, but we already know that that's deliberate! Focus! What makes your powers so special? Bruce isn't being blocked." "Neither are you," said the squirrel-shaped Lenny from atop Bruce's shoulder. "Actually, something's been trying to," disagreed Joe. "I think it's just because I'm a lot more powerful than the rest of you. Never mind that. We're missing something important here." A few frustrated seconds passed before he exclaimed, "Arrgh! I wish I could think straight. I know I'm missing something." He glanced up at the doors looming above him. "Come on, let's just go and kick the crap out of the bad guy." "Kiwi," agreed Harris. A little applied mayhem was beginning to sound like just what the doctor ordered. Lenny shrugged his acceptance. Terri darted ahead of them to the door and put up one hand. "Okay, before your testosterone completely gets the better of you, let's carefully sneak in, find the villain, and *then* beat the crap out of him. He probably already knows we're here, but just in case we can get past some more of those guardian monsters: open the door slowly, and once we're inside, spread out." The boys conceded to this plan with varying degrees of enthusiasm. They entered the building. To their surprise the first chamber was dark, and judging by the echoes was quite large. They slipped to one side so as not to be outlined at the door by any of the weak light refracting down through the fog from those leadlight windows higher up. As they waited a few seconds for their night vision to adjust, tiny lights appeared; seemingly thousands of them. A multitude of candles, all of them impossibly coming alive at once, slowly illuminating a huge circular chamber that was ribbed with buttresses and alcoves. It was a wonder that the lights from the outside windows didn't impinge into this enormous area as well, since there couldn't have been much space left over for any other rooms unless they were self-contained closets or the like. "A lot of places to hide in," observed Terri, looking about. "Mmmm. And lots of H.R. Giger style organic decoration," said Joe, unconsciously echoing the observation that Wendle had earlier made to Elizabeth. They began to spread out slightly, but not so far apart as to be unable to regroup and support each other in a fight. Lenny cocked his head and said, "Listen." "What?" asked Bruce. Then he caught it too. "Ah, the whispering again." "Pardon?" went Terri. "The whispering I heard before," said Bruce, and then summarised his earlier experience with the local version of the Music of the Spheres. Lenny was darting his head about, looking as though he was trying to triangulate. "But it's not sub-audible this time," he pointed out. "Kiwi," agreed Harris, who was lightly scratching one talon against the stone floor over and over again. The humans couldn't tell whether the bird was sharpening his claw, or whether it was some sort of nervous tick. "Yeah, but is it *significant*?" pointed out Joe. He quietly stepped over and checked behind a couple of columns. "I mean, it could be just more creepy atmospherics." The Phantom Raspberry Blower stepped out into the room, spread wide his cape in a overly theatrical movement and went "Ppphhhhtttt!!!!" at them. Joe staggered back. He had been prepared for another assault like this, but still he had winced and shifted backwards when the Raspberry Blower had made his attack. Peripherally he noted that the same had happened to the others. It had to be some sort of net.ahuman power; it had to be. Grimly Terri hefted her wooden shovel handle and walked towards the Raspberry Blower. Harris began stalking around to the right in a flanking move. Lenny jumped to the floor and he and Bruce likewise flanked on the left, while Joe came in on an angle from the far side of the room where he had exploring. The Raspberry Blower simply stood there. With forced casualness Terri said, "Do you notice that even now that we have him cornered in a well-lit area, his face is still hidden by that improbable shadow between his top hat and high collar?" "Mmm-hmm," agreed Bruce. "Melodramatic. Cliched. Fits in real well for the Looniverse, though you have to feel sorry for characters from supposedly serious universes that think it adds to their mystique." The Raspberry Blower stepped forward a pace with one hand outstretched. "Oh no, I don't think I'll let you have it, thank you very much," said Terri, gripping the shovel handle. "Except maybe in the face," she added as she feinted to one side, then whirled the wooden shaft to strike him. It only barely failed to connect as the Raspberry Blower ducked aside. .oO( Time for a co-ordinated attack, ) she thought, then paused as her opponent put out his hand again. To the others there seemed to be a slight increase in the whispering. Terri suddenly seemed baffled. "What? Uhm, no... I..." she glanced at Joe, a look of bemusement on her face. "What's wrong?" Joe asked with intensity. "I'm not sure this is going to be any good against him," she said, uncertainly. Then she frowned in puzzlement. Her friends tensed, preparing to launch themselves in attack if the Rasbperrry Blower tired to take advantage of her sudden confusion, but Terri's puzzlement was already being replaced by a look of annoyance. "It sounds like he's trying to put ideas in your head," suggested Bruce. "Yeah," said Terri, and swung again while her companions rushed in to give the Phantom less room to manoeuvre. .oO( Bad move, buster, ) she thought. .oO( I may read narrative captions to get a strategic overview of the situation, but I'm not helpless without them. And trying to confuse me with false impressions just ticks me off! ) A few seconds of melee were all the youngsters (and Lenny) got, before the Raspberry Blower let off another massive "Pppphhhhtttt!!!!" that sent them all tumbling across the chamber to impact into walls and columns. This was going to be harder than they had anticipated. Professor Guttmann and his charges arrived at the cathedral just in time to see the Phantom Raspberry Blower attack Harris. Bruce, Joe and Terri had been struggling to free themselves from the grip of parts of the floor that had animated themselves as clutching hands of tar, while Lenny had decided to scrabble up across one of the flying buttresses in order to get at the Raspberry Blower from above without being grabbed by the tar. And the Raspberry Blower had been advancing on Harris. Harris was watching the Raspberry Blower like a hawk. Or a seriously ticked off bird with hairy green feathers and a penchant for min-maxing his characters when role playing - whichever you think is more dangerous. There was a susurrating sound, like the rustle of dry leaves. It was like... a voice? Harris couldn't quite be sure. There weren't quite words involved, but there was some sort of meaning there. The Raspberry Blower moved forward at Harris, his hands fluttering like a snake charmer. Closer they moved. Closer. Close enough to grasp the kiwi. Closing. Delicately. Around his neck... Harris leapt forward and mauled the Raspberry Blower's hand, pecking and savagely scratching. The villain jumped back, his hands a bloody mess, and reflexively blew a massive raspberry at the bird. Harris was launched across the chamber at high speed and crashed into the far wall, again. Guttmann let loose a bolt of purply-orangey-green energy from his staff; no time for an intricate enchantment, just a good old fashioned blast spell. Then Lenny dropped onto the Raspberry Blower's shoulders and started giving him a damn good nibbling. Joe had finally managed to free himself and the others, but he was becoming worried. It had taken longer than he expected to weaken the clutching hands with his retcons. In fact, the notion that by persevering the heroes would eventually overcome their obstacles just didn't seem to be holding. He saw that Wendle had brought reinforcements and risked spending a few precious seconds ignoring the fight with the Phantom Raspberry Blower, hoping that the others would take up the slack. Now that he took time to `feel' things carefully, Joe was rather concerned to note the way that most of his retcons were eroding... drying up and flaking to bits and then blowing away on the wind... That was bad. They were fighting an uphill battle in a horror genre setting, and if the superhero dynamic of 'right makes might' (aka, 'the good guys always win') did not hold, then they were done for. There was one exception that he could find, and in some ways that was even more disturbing. He recognised the sensation of his retcons being subverted by an opponent - being bent, folded, spindled and mutilated for someone else's use - from the time that he had fought Retcon RACCoon [_Saviours of the Net_ #7 - Footnote Girl]. With a sinking feeling he realised that only the bit about everybody meeting at the villain's lair still stood. The other parts about superheroic principles being in force were gone. Then came a stab of anger. He'd been tricked into creating a more efficient trap for the Raspberry Blower's use. .oO( Okay. Fine, ) he seethed. .oO( Let's see if he can undo my retcons while he's... *really* distracted. ) And this was the Phantom Raspberry Blower's big mistake. In a horror genre setting normal people would feel helpless and cower and hide in fear. Net.ahumans simply got angry, and angry net.ahumans caused property damage. Intellectually Joe knew that the plan that had just blossomed in his mind was dangerous, and at best he'd probably end up in bed for a week feeling wretched. It was just that at this point he didn't really care. He knelt down on one knee and reached out one hand, as if to grasp something. As he mimed this action, he recited something that he'd never tried before. It was something that Barry and himself had come up with one evening when everybody had been goofing about in a really silly mood, and he wasn't even sure it would work. Nevertheless, if the Raspberry Blower was that powerful... fight fire with fire. "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be insanely smegging desperate, shall possess the power of... ANGST!" There was a booming detonation of lightning and thunder that grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. When their light abused eyes recovered, Joe (now wearing a faux mediaeval tunic) was holding a sledge- hammer in one hand. Yes, *that* Sledgehammer. "Have at thee, varlet!" Joe yelled, whirling the Sledgehammer about by the thong on its handle with such speed that the very air about it turned incandescent. Then he released the Sledgehammer, which careened and smote the Phantom Raspberry Blower with such force the concussive shockwaves nearly bowled over everybody else as well. The impact knocked the creature off his feet and carried him through a sturdy stone wall as though it were made of paper. Joe ran to follow, collecting the Sledgehammer along the way as it flew back to the hand of its current master. The Raspberry Blower drew himself up from the rubble, just in time for Joe to send him reeling with another mighty blow delivered to the face. Bruce goggled. "Is that what I think it is?" he asked, indicating the Sledghammer. "Fabian Nicieza's Sledgehammer of Angst?" said Wendle. "Sure looks like it." "Oh man, he is going to be ratshit in the morning," Bruce said. "Providing we all *survive* until tomorrow morning," snapped Terri. "He is loosening the Raspberry Blower's hold on this world," said Professor Guttmann, who had his eyes closed with his staff held before him in both hands. He opened his eyes and looked at them. "I believe that I can use that. Help him keep the creature distracted," he said. The young net.ahumans glanced at each other. Most of them recognised the Defence Against Dark Arts lecturer, and perhaps it was possible that he knew more than just theory. Still, it didn't sit well with them to just try and *distract* the Raspberry Blower... It was Terri who cut to the chase. "Look! If having the Nicieza's Sledgehammer in his hand is anything like tapping it's power from a distance, then Joe's going to be in a lot of hurt from using that blasted thing, and it's only going to get worse the longer he's got it in his hand. Let's just get this over with right now." Thus galvanised to action, they all rushed off in pursuit. Except that Elizabeth grabbed Wendle's arm before he could follow. "What was all that about?" she demanded. "What was what?" said Wendle. "All that talking just before you all got your act together. Why did you three stop and just babble on like that?" "Babbling? That wasn't babbling," protested Wendle. "Sounds like babbling to me," said Elizabeth. "That was witty banter that signifies to the Readers that the malign effect of the Raspberry Blower's powers over us is on the wane." "I have no idea what you're talking about, so I'll just assume that you're trying to confuse me with gobbledegook," she said. "But it still looked to me like the babbling of people who were using displacement activity to hide from their fear." "Down!" yelled Bruce as he crash tackled the pair of them, pushing them out of the way of a large chunk of masonry that the Raspberry Blower had thrown. Having saved them from being squished, Bruce bounded back into the fray. "Damn," said Wendle. "We were both wrong. It was the silliness of the superhero parody genre treacherously distracting us with what looked like witty banter so that the villain could attack us in a vicious and yet contextually humorous manner." He pouted. "One of these days we're going to have to work out a way to get around that." "You people are *insane*!" yelled Elizabeth. For the most part Joe was handling the Raspberry Blower pretty well all by himself. Or perhaps 'was effectively keeping the Raspberry Blower off balance and on the defensive' would have been a better description, Joe himself did not sound good. "Base... miscreant!" he snarled, his words being spat out to the beat of the Sledgehammer as he pounded on his opponent. "You haven't...Back to the Index.
got any... smegging idea... about how much *crap* we have to... put up with... from @ssholes... like you! Bastard! I'm getting sick... of creatures... like you... feeding on the... *pain*... of others... and leaving... us heroes... to clean up... the smegging *mess*! ." There was a raw edge to Joe's voice which his friends really didn't like the sound of. "That Sledgehammer definitely isn't any good for him," Bruce commented, half to the others and half to the world in general. "Kiwi," Harris agreed. "...like the time... Dr Oblivion... tried to frame... Decibel Dude... or when Dinnerplate... went and tortured... Mormon missionaries..." [`Falling to Prices' _Decibel Dude and Vigilante Guy_ #s 31-40; _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #42 - Footnote Girl] "Then let us finish this," said Professor Guttmann. "I have a binding prepared. Mr Forsythe, stand aside!" he called. "...and the time... Barry's pal Dreck... sacrificed himself... to stop... Dark Fan.Boy..." Joe continued. [_Fan.Boy_ #16 - Footnote Girl] It seemed that he was intent on listing every injustice that even peripherally related to him via people he knew and laying punishment on the Raspberry Blower for it. Which wasn't such a bad idea in theory, but it looked to Terri as though Joe were falling into an angst fugue or something. "Hey," she shouted. "Are you listening? Loosen up and let the Professor finish him off." Joe rounded on her. She took a step backwards at the sight of him. His eyes were red from tears, wide and staring, and he looked as though he were on the verge of having a hysterical fit. There was something wet and red on the Sledgehammer. Her nose wrinkled in distaste as she recognised it. oO( Eww. Raspberry jam. ) The Phantom Raspberry Blower lashed out in this moment of respite, but Guttmann was ready for him. The Rasberry Blower's cloaked form exploded with a riot of tentacles that struck out at anything nearby, knocking aside Joe and forcing Terri to duck. Other tentacles ripped apart a nearby door, shredding it and hurling the shrapnel around the chamber, while some of the remaining rope-like limbs bashed aside one of the supporting stone columns in a vain attempt to collapse the ceiling and allow the fear lord to escape. Across the room Elizabeth shoved Wendle aside, taking a piece of the wooden shrapnel to her chest in the process. Before the Raspberry Blower was able to move (or slither, or whatever) more than about two paces Guttmann's spell caught it. "I bind you under the Weight of the Words of the World!" he declared and released a blinding actinic light in it's direction. The slathering, squamous thing collapsed to its backwards-jointed knee analogues under the impact of every single word of every single non-Elsewhirl LNH story. And that's a whole lot of text. The youngsters has seen this done before, of course. They'd even pulled it off themselves, once [_Limp-Asparagus Lad_ #40 - Footnote Girl]. But their efforts had been that of gifted amateurs, and they had had to take a lot of time to tell stories at their foe to get the Weight of Words to function properly. By comparison, Professor Guttmann was a professional occultist, and initiated the binding with what seemed like singular ease and speed. The by-now only vaguely humanoid shape (and that mainly because it still had its cloak and top hat on) lay on the floor, weakly struggling against the forces bearing down on it. "Well, that looks like he's taken care of," commented Terri with grim satisfaction. "Yeah, now all you've got to do is wean Joe off the Sledgehammer," said Bruce as he gazed around the chamber. He spotted Wendle fussing over Elizabeth, and wandered over to see what was up. "Uhm, are you alright?" asked Wendle, who was mildly surprised to see that Elizabeth was still hale. "It's just a scratch from some little splinters," she replied somewhat irritably as she plucked a bit of wood from her good blouse. "Honestly, even if I was actually capable of bleeding it'd only be a minor cut." She looked at him. "Did you think I'd turn to dust or something?" "Er, well..." "I'm not some weak little vamp like on `Buffy' who'd vanish in a puff of smoke if someone gave me a prod in the chest with a 2B pencil, you know." "So you're more a `Salem's Lot' type of girl, then?" he said, thinking of the way those undead had needed to be thwacked with heavy blows for several minutes before they were properly staked. Elizabeth glared at him. At which point Bruce turned up and, deciding to shitstir, said, "You know Wendle, that really isn't the way to chat up girls." Elizabeth glared at him too. Bruce clicked his tongue and said, "You always seem to pick the frisky women." And now Wendle was glaring at Bruce as well, but he just rolled his eyes and left with a grin. "Don't mind him," said Wendle. "He's from Alt.stralia." As the two of them walked back, Lenny asked, "What was that about?" "She'll be too busy being angry at me to be angry at Wendle," Bruce said casually. "But it looks like we've got another problem that'll be harder to fix," he said more seriously, indicating with a nod of his head to where, as expected, Terri was having a hard time of trying to get Joe to give up his Sledgehammer. "Put down the Sledgehammer," she coaxed him. "But it'll hurt," he whimpered, clutching the Sledgehammer to his chest like a security blanket. She suppressed a sigh. With the villain defeated and the hysterical strength that came from righteous indignation waning, the flip side of the Sledgehammer of Angst was coming to the fore as incapacitating morbidity and gloom took over. "It'll only get worse the longer you keep hold of it," she said in a reasonable tone. Joe looked panic stricken and made a little high pitched keening sound, then he dropped the Sledgehammer, which vanished in a burst of strangely muted looking sparkles before it had even hit the ground. Then he immediately went " ack! " as his face turned pallid and green. It was a good thing that his friends were there to catch him, because he was unconscious before he would have hit the floor. "Quick, check his pulse," said Bruce as he struggled to support the boneless weight of Joe. Terri did so, then frowned with a mixture of relief and concern. "Weak, but still there." "Then let us get him to medical attention," said the Professor, who was using the tip of his staff to draw, in lines of violet fire, a doorway in the air. He knocked on the space within the frame, and the door resolved itself into a gateway to the university clinic. "Come." Elizabeth restrained herself from rushing through to safety. For all of their gung-ho attitude these people *had* made a point of trying to deal with a menace and protect bystanders as much as their skewed world- views could manage, and she didn't want to appear ungrateful. Even the Viking wannabe had been behaving himself once you took into consideration the stress that everyone had been under. Terri and Bruce hauled Joe through, and Wendle gestured with an `after you' motion to Elizabeth. Then Wendle glanced at the figure still pressed down onto the floor by the terrible intangible weight of the story archives and asked, "What about the Raspberry Blower?" Harris and Lenny paused at the threshold for Guttmann's answer. "I will come back to deal with him later," the Professor said as he guided the last of them through the door. The Defence Against the Dark Arts lecturer suppressed a smile at the thought of metaphysically vivisecting the incapacitated Phantom Raspberry Blower piece by piece until his threat was gone. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Continuity Notes: Still running waaay behind in continuity I'm afraid. Next issue is a September 11 story, entitled: "What Do You Mean `Editorial Policy Won't Let Me Do That'?" After that I'll probably have caught up to the _Flame Wars 4_ miniseries. I hope. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: Anal-Retentive Archive Kid (Wendle), Elizabeth, Fourth Wall Lass (Terri), Professor Guttmann, Retcon Lad (Joe), Very Big Boy, and the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Olde Net.ropolis Towne all created by Saxon Brenton. Chinese Guy (Bruce) and Lenny (Ljundji) are both Public Domain and kind of sort of created by Dvandom (Dave Van Domelen) and Saxon Brenton. Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad is Public Domain. Created by Elmo (Greg Morrow). Please note that Elmo is still kind of using the FATMLad non de plume, so I'd better emphasise that this is the Looniverse's version of FATMLad and that he does not necessarily bear any resemblance to his other-dimensional counterparts. Harris the Kiwi created by Saxon Brenton, but is owned by Descri (Ian Porrel). Mimmoths belong to Phil and Kaja Folglio and have infesticated themselves across from the _Girl Genius_ comic series. I tried to stop them, but mimmoths *are* vermin, and they get everywhere! No, really, would I lie to you? 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: ftp://ftp.eyrie.org/pub/racc/lnh The LNH stories of Blue Light Productions may also be found at: http://www.eyrie.org/~thad/blip --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: The history of the Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters was written in response to requests for information made by Martin Phipps in clarification to a similar history that he had written in _LNH: The Early Years_ #3 back in 2003. The topic has obviously been preying on the minds of a number of people, because apart from a few other of Martin's stories it's also been mentioned in Adrian McClure's _Ultimate Mercenary_ #4. However, in order to create the *pretence* of coherent history, facts and dates have needed to be chosen between, massaged, left deliberately vague, or in some cases created from whole cloth - so remember that this is only canonical until the next retcon. Thanks to everybody on rec.arts.comics.creative who gave feedback on this somewhat convoluted topic. The bit about the city of Net.ropolis originally having been called Babbagetown was culled from _Acton Lord_ #0 (which was a draft of an alternate version of what became the LNH2 imprint) and is a reference to Kurt Busiek's _Astro City_ - and how can I possibly resist an Astro City homage?. Also, Dvandom avows that the name of the Net.tastic Nine's head- quarters was probably intended to be the Mando Building, since it, like Baxter, is a type of paper used for comics. I left out the Challengers of the Abominable from the list of mid 20th century hero groups because they were, after all, a secret organisation; and similarly did not mention the hints from _System Corruptors_ #24b about the LNH-HQ possibly being an other-dimensional entity that feeds of heroic emotions, because even if it is true, the characters aren't supposed to ever know about it. Oh yes. And in Ben Pierce's 1992 post on rec.arts.comics to call the Legion to arms against Dr. Killfile, the LNH clubhouse really was described as looking like an upsidedown computer terminal.