Blue Light Productions presents

Limp-Asparagus Lad Annual #1
A Legion of Net.Heroes title

"Millennial Voices"

Written by and copyright 1999 Saxon Brenton
Art by Fred H*mback

Cover shows Occultism Kid lying on the ground in the middle of a 
half-completed magic circle. He is grappling with an assailant who 
is in the extreme foreground and silhouetted to remain unidentified. 
In the background a huge wall of white is approaching across a city, 
tearing up and disintegrating everything in its path. A number of 
other Legionnaires - including Limp-Asparagus Lad - are running ahead 
of the whiteness and towards the battling pair.

      "And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
      Millennial voices prophesying war!"
        - Coleridge (excerpted and deliberately misquoted) 

Continuity note: This story is one of several LNH year 2000 stories 
that nominally take place simultaneously and are seemingly mutually 
contradictory. The latter is a misconception fostered by an inadequate 
appreciation of historical rebooting and temporal cut'n'paste 
techniques. Trust me.
     With regards to the continuity of other issues of _Limp-Asparagus 
Lad_, these events take place 'where convenient'.

     The first indication that something was wrong occurred almost 
two hours before anything actually happened. It was as though the 
events - like elves - were casting their ominous shadows before them.
     It was just after 5 in the morning in Net.ropolis on the east coast 
of the Usenetted States. Limp-Asparagus Lad was walking to the Legion 
of Net.Heroes headquarters to begin preparations for the breakfast shift.
     He was passing the Net.ropolis Bandshell when a flicker out of the 
corner of his eye caught his attention. He paused and looked again, and 
by squinting he saw the faintest hint of a ghostly glow surrounding the 
     Limp-Asparagus Lad withdrew the scan.thingee from his belt and took 
a reading. The results were baffling and inconclusive.
     He watched the Bandshell for a few seconds more, half expecting 
Drama to pick that moment to play its hand. After all, his Writer always 
did a story at this time of year as a courtesy to the characters, so 
that they could tell how much time was passing in Real Life. (Time 
withinin the Looniverse itself was bizarrely distorted - much as it was 
in the Marvel and DC universes. From L-ALad's point of view, it had 
been less than nine months since the events of issue #1 of his own 
net.comic, which had been published five years ago.)
     Christmas had come and gone, however, and nothing much had 
happened. Neither himself nor any of his cast had been inveigled into 
any stories involving the likes of the Anti-Claus or the Son of Santa, 
and about the only noteworthy event had been that one of the less anti-
social factions of the Cult of the Cult Book had had a stupendous 
success promoting Drink Your Own Urine Day.
     As Limp-Asparagus Lad continued to watch, nothing suddenly and 
dramatically continued to happen. He decided to take a few more readings 
and pass them on to Dr Stomper when he arrived at the LNHQ.

     Meanwhile, the Cabbage Wielding Angel of Death was conferring with 
his associates - the Lettuce Wielding Angel of Pestilence, the Carrot 
Wielding Angel of Famine, and the Artichoke Wielding Angel of War. 

     Kiri.bit.i Islands, South Paci.fanfic Ocean:
     Sarah O'Daer waited for the word that her producers were ready for 
her satellite newsfeed back to LNN. The balmy tropical evening was 
approaching midnight, at which point it would become a balmy tropical 
morning. Sarah scratched her scalp, still unused to the heat prickle of 
these equatorial islands after having left Net.York only two days ago.
     Once this nation of several small islands had been mostly just 
across the eastern side of the Date Line, meaning that 
it would have been one of the last places to enter the new year. 
However, a few years back the government had made the pragmatic 
administrative decision to move the IDL, thus removing the minor 
problem of having the country perpetually stuck in two different days. 
Fortunately for them the placement of the Date Line was purely an 
arbitrary choice (having been already kinked in places for just this 
reason) and legally left to individual nations work out for themselves.
     Then, as the hype over millennial celebrations had built, the 
Kiri.bit.i had taken note of the potential tourism boost and - not being 
dummies - had decided to cash in on this year 2000 thing. After all, 
they argued, as the most easterly lying nation that was still on the 
western side of the Line, they would be the first place to see in the 
new year. They even renamed their most eastern island - an uninhabited 
rock - Island.
     It was a successful ploy that had won the Kiri.bit.i some revenue, 
since it had novelty value for tourists. And as the presence of Sarah 
and her news crew demonstrated, for international telecasters too.
     It would also prove to be a big mistake.
     Sarah's timeslot was approaching, arranged to be the culmination 
of a round-robin of similar vignettes from other Paci.fanfic nations. 
Just off-camera, Mike was counting down the last ten seconds until she 
went to air live in front of the world. She composed herself, and 
focused her eyes on the cue cards in front of her.
     "Hello Deepak," she said, greeting her anchorman half-way around 
the planet. "I'm here in the Kiri.bit.i Islands, nominally the first 
place to see in the new year. Behind me there's a beach party in full 
swing that's been going on since just before sundown with tourists from 
around the world, and their festivities are only going to get wilder in 
the last few seconds before midnight..." Behind her, the sounds of 
people counting down could be heard.
     Suddenly, there was a glow behind them all, out beyond the beach 
to the east. Sarah half-turned to see a vast wall of something white. 
"My God, Deepak something huge has just appeared..."
     There was a brief sensation of onrushing movement, and then the 
satellite feed from Kiri.bit.i went dead.
     And that was when the panicking began.

     There is a place that is not a place. Beyond what we think of as 
reality, outside of space and time, is the realm of one of the cosmic 
entities of the Internet. This is Alt.blivion. It is the demesne of 
Killfile, who is both the lord and embodiment of non-existence.
     Deleted information arrives in this unRealm all the time. Bits and 
pieces, some large and some small, that are no longer wanted or needed. 
It accumulates, and then lingers at the edge of perception in eternal 
stasis. This is not a place after all, so there is neither existence 
for things to be present in nor duration for them to occur in.
     Nevertheless, on this day Killfile himself was somewhat surprised 
when a slice of a world materialised in the unPlace that he controlled. 
He examined it, and recognised it. It was part of the Looniearth - the 
comic-book parody world that had begun its life in rec.arts.comics, 
and then had been moved to alt.comics.lnh, and finally to 
rec.arts.comics.creative. He recalled that, as worlds went, it was 
very... tenacious.
     He noticed that the slice was growing.

     Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters:
     It was W.I.L.B.U.R. (the Legion's Wildly Improbable LISP Based 
Urbane Robot) who was monitoring international communications when the 
world began to unravel, and it was he who activated the red alert. The 
first person to respond was Ultimate Ninja, who arrived barely 3.276 
seconds later - a speed that did not surprise W.I.L.B.U.R. in the 
     "What is it this time?" the Legion's leader demanded.
     "Sir, satellite scans indicate that a field of file deletion has 
materialised in the mid-Paci.fanfic Ocean approximately along the 180th 
degree of longitude and is expanding in a westerly direction. Very 
little of the other satellite data I'm accessing makes much sense."
     Ultimate Ninja nodded grimly. He had surreptitiously monitored some 
of the things that wReamhack and Renegade Programmer had gotten up to 
from time to time with satellites that the Legion should not - strictly 
speaking - have been hacking into, so he knew that the amount of 
information that W.I.L.B.U.R. was collating was likely immense. Still, 
quality of information would be preferable to quantity.
     "We also have this," the robot added, activating a news replay. 
"4.869 seconds of footage of the phenomenon recorded at ground level 
from a live LNN broadcast from Kiri.bit.i."
     The time index in the bottom right corner of the screen indicated 
that he had slowed it to one quarter speed. Ultimate Ninja watched as a 
wall of nothing swept forward, causing anything it encountered to 
vanish in a blue flash. It was far too reminiscent of Crisis On 
Infinite Earths for the Ninja's liking.
     "Notify our science, occult, and research experts immediately on 
what's going on," the Ninja told the robot. "I want ideas on how to 
stop this thing, pronto. Also begin recalling all our active and reserve 
members who are contactable. Start preparing rosters for teams to handle 
evacuations and rioting." He paused, then added, "This looks like a job 
for the Legion of Net.Heroes."

     Along with eastern Si.bit.ria and the Alt.arctic, Net.Zealand was 
one of the first substantive landmasses to meet the new year. But it 
had more visitors than those other places. Its advantages were twofold: 
Net.Zealand was warmer than the Alt.arctic summer, and certainly warmer 
than the Si.bit.rian winter; and it was an English-speaking first world 
country with a well developed tourism industry.
     Now, be honest, if you were a holiday maker looking for somewhere 
to party on the grounds that - by at least some arguments - it would 
be one of the first places to see in the new year, where would you go?
     Careful timeindex comparisons would later show that The End did 
not encompass an entire time zone at once, but rather would pause at 
the start of a time zone and then swept forward at several thousand 
kilometres an hour. Kiri.bit.i had had just enough time to see the wall 
of file deletion form before it had hit. By comparison, the partiers in 
Net.Zealand were almost at the edge of time zone 2, so they had time 
enough to glance up in wonder at the eastern sky beginning to lighten 
with an ersatz dawn as the wall of whiteness bore down on them.
     In Boot City, Jonathon Connery (ex-husband of Writers Block Woman, 
father of Mouse, and head of Conspiracy Corporation) had been working 
late. There were, as always, things to do.
     However, he was not a philistine and had deliberately stayed at 
his office rather than bring the work home so that he could a take few 
minutes out to watch the fireworks display down on the harbour, with 
perhaps a small glass of champagne.
     Jonathon also had a television on with the sound turned down, but 
had found nothing interesting - only interminable broadcasts of 
hopelessly saccharine new year's eve celebrations. He had just been 
about to turn it off when the broadcast from Kir.bit.i had caught his 
     Jonathon turned away from the television when the anchorman 
returned to the screen, slightly flustered and apologising for the 
break in transmission. Out of his office windows to the east he could 
see that something was lighting up the horizon.
     Almost as a reflex he cursed net.heroes and net.villains and their 
collective antics. It had been years since he and Alice had separated, 
but he still remembered from personal experience how ludicrously out-of-
control those activities could become. And despite the intervening 
years that should have healed over old hurts, he still felt the 
occasional pang of regret and anger at how those antics had split his 
family apart.
     Jonathon quickly scanned through some preliminary information 
being fed to him from Conspiracy Corp spy satellites. He had no idea 
yet what it was or what was causing it (though he was perfectly happily 
to ascribe it to the net.ahumans as a working hypothesis) but the fact 
remained that it was bearing down on his position and his property very 
fast. He made an executive decision, and activated the Conspiracy 
Corporation teleporter units.
     Quite suddenly the Conspiracy Corp building was gone.
     Seconds later, the wave of file deletion arrived, and Boot City 
was gone too.

     Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters, just over two hours later:
     Renegade Programmer had been the first person to arrive at the 
computer room after Ultimate Ninja; the portly programmer had been 
downstairs getting breakfast and had needed only the time to bring it 
back with him. Multi-Tasking Man and wReamhack had arrived soon after. 
Meanwhile, other net.heroes had rallied, and teams had been sent out 
to do something constructive about the cities that were burning as 
panic swept across the world.
     "At least we don't have any mass suicides, or stuff like that," 
noted Renegade Programmer. He was bent over his console, finishing 
off a particularly esoteric 'debugging' program to correct the lack of 
Y2K compliance for the Looniearth, if only someone like Dr Stomper of 
Kid Kirby could come up with a way to install it. Truth be known, RP 
was a bit disturbed by the notion that there had been billions spent 
on checking out mundane computer networks, but nobody had bother to 
check the *planet*. People knew that the Looniverse was part of the 
internet; it wasn't a big secret or anything. He was beginning to 
wondered if sensible precautions actually had been taken, and that 
maybe they'd been undone by someone like that Mew2K character that 
Dvandom Force had reported fighting and defeating. [in _Dvandom Force_ 
#100 - Footnote Girl]
     "Don't be so quick to make conclusions like that," cautioned Multi-
Tasking Man, who was assessing the rioting in the Holy Land, running a 
virus scan of the LNHQ mainframes, repeating the emergency recall to 
active duty for all Legionnaires on leave, and checking public reaction 
on both LNN and the internet chat rooms. "Just because the team from 
Disc.rael has arrived back from stopping the Lettuce Wielding Angel of 
Pestilence, doesn't mean that the more..." he rummaged for a polite 
phrase, "...intensely religious people in that area can't make enough 
trouble on their own."
     "So how's the second team that was sent in for clean-up going...?" 
wReamhack began to ask, before he cried, "AHHH! [expletive deleted!]".
     "What!?" demanded MTM.
     "North Ko.rec.a just launched some missiles," wReamhack replied 
shortly, his hands moving across the keyboard as he tried to collate 
information. "Nuclear capable. Trajectory is targeting South Ko.rec.a 
and Net.pon"
     "Oh crap." 
     "Intercept with the teleporters," ordered Ultimate Ninja crisply.
     "Aye sir!" barked wReamhack, who in truth had already been 
preparing the tele.thingee for just that and was now wearing the insane 
grin of a half-crazed adrenaline junkie. "Guys! Do a scan! If *we* can 
see those warheads, then so can the military spy satellites!"
     "On it."
     Tense seconds passed as wReamhack did implausible things with his 
computer controls. Then, "Missiles captured," he announced. He breathed 
out in relief, then added in a quieter, more dismissive voice, "It was 
only fourteen missiles, after all."
     "Yeah, but we've got more coming," said Renegade Programmer. 
"In.dir.a,, Disc.rael, Li.bit.ya,, Rus.sci.a, 
I.rec, the Usenetted Kingdom, the Usenetted States..." He noted in 
passing that a *very* large number of the missiles from were 
heading for Tai.WAN. "I can't even tell who's responding to who anymore. 
I think it's just a mass rush towards MAD!"
     "They are spooked and panicking," summarised W.I.L.B.U.R., who was 
monitoring the military communications and preparedness of most of the 
world powers.
     "Can we grab them all?" UN demanded.
     "I can't react that fast, though MTM can," wReamhack demurred. 
"But even with the reactions from his superpower, the teleporters can't 
handle that many operations at once."
     Under his mask, the Ninja smiled serenely. He was really scary 
when he did that. "Then I believe that it is time for us to cheat," he 
answered. "Activate the engines."

     Limp-Asparagus Lad was in the cafeteria with Cheesecake-Eater Lad 
and Shake-N-Bake Lass, serving food to the weary troops of net.heroes 
when a deep thrum began, causing vibrations throughout the entire LNHQ. 
A number of people looked up, and murmurs of "What in the...?" filled 
the room.
     "Limpy, you're glowing," noted Sister-State-The-Obvious.
     She was right, and Limp-Asparagus Lad held up one hand to examine 
the glow. It was not a pleasant effect - no pretty nimbus of faerie 
fire with sparkles here. Rather, it was a harsh, bluey-green light 
reminiscent of hard baryonic radiation, and it hurt the eyes to look at. 
Many of the Legionnaires were now staring at him, though they had to 
squint against the glare to do so.
     "It is intensifying drama energy reacting against my own drama 
dampening field," the Man of Dull observed clinically. This, combined 
with the grating subsonic thrum, could only mean one thing. He looked at 
the others and said, "Someone had activated the drama engines in the 

     In the computing rooms Multi-Tasking Man was grabbing warheads from 
a distance at speeds faster than the others could follow, let alone 
     But there were thousands of missiles, and the teleportation units 
began to protest. There was the smell of smoke as the tele.thingees 
began to burn out from the strain of so many objects, with so much 
mass, being transported around across such great distances all at once. 
Systems failure was imminent. However, Ultimate Ninja had known that, 
which was why he'd ordered the engines turned on in an attempt to keep 
the whole shebang running on drama.
     Outside, the LNHQ had lit up like an arc light. Searing white glare 
leaked out from the windows and doors, throwing sharp highlights and 
shadows onto the surrounding buildings. Sparks of some unidentifiable, 
pseudo-plausible energy crawled up and down the facade before grounding 
themselves in the specially prepared lightning rods at the rear.
     And in the sub-basements the drama engines groaned. They pulled in 
drama from the surrounding area, trebling the intensity within the 
LNHQ. Then using that concentration to synthesise even more, the 
engines pushed those levels up to something just in excess of five 
times the normal background level - drama enough to pull off a plot 
device of enormous extent.
     Which was what Multi-Tasking Man needed, desperately. The LNH 
teleporter just wasn't built for this sort of operation, and only drama 
was keeping it running.
     Of course, there were drawbacks to it too. Fuses should have kept 
the computer terminals from sparking and smoking. Drama, however, 
allowed such petty realistic limitations to be ignored. In fact, it was 
actively *demanding* that the computer terminals spark and smoke as a 
type of Newtonian balancing reaction. Ultimate Ninja and wReamhack had 
grabbed carbon dioxide extinguishers to keep things under control while 
the others did their stuff.
     "Done!" cried MTM triumphantly as he slammed his fist down on the 
final control. Then he coughed and waved his hand to try and clear the 
     "Cutting back drama engines to half," announced Renegade 
Programmer. Tension in the room eased, in part because of the absence 
of the tooth-grating harmonics from the drama engines.
     "Good work," acknowledged Ultimate Ninja. "Keep monitoring military 
frequencies though. The risk of them panicking again is too great..."
     "That won't be necessary UN," said Multi-Tasking Man. "While we 
were using the drama boost, I took the liberty of grabbing not just the 
missiles in the air, but the ones still on the ground as well. They 
don't *have* any missiles anymore. We do. I threw all the live ones out 
beyond the dark side of the moon to detonate behind Loona, but all the 
others are downstairs in the storage tesseract in sub-basement 39."
     Ultimate Ninja nodded. "Good thinking. Okay then gentlemen. World 
War 3 is over. I want to keep it that way; the Legion just has too much 
to do at the moment without having to sort out fights between 
panicking... *children*." The last word was an irritated snarl. "Prepare 
a communique to the Usenetted Nations and all member and non-member 
states. In light of the current emergency, I am declaring martial law 
on this planet. Tell them to keeping running their affairs as they have 
done and try to maintain an even keel, but if I see a repeat of what 
just happened, the guilty parties will be... dealt with."

     And somewhere the Artichoke Wielding Angel of War was cursing at 
the Legion's intervention.

     Later still:
     Legionnaires dribbled back into the LNHQ, singly and in groups. 
Their tardiness was not from reluctance to being recalled from their 
vacations, but from the weariness and bruising of already being called 
up and sent out on actual duty.
     While the latest returnees went into the cafeteria to grab 
something to eat in preparation for their next assignment, No Sense Of 
Direction Man was watching an updating map of the progress of the 
deletion of the world.
     He was slightly bemused by it. Not by the layout, of course. Even 
if he didn't understand the idea of a spherical planet, the notion of a 
world where time in one place was different to time in other places and 
that if you went far enough in one direction you'd end up back where 
you started was very much in keeping with his native dimension of 
     Instead he asked, "If those lines are supposed to represent regions 
of the same time, then why do the countries in the bottom half of the 
map seem to be disappearing slightly faster than those in the top half?"
     "It's probably because of daylight saving," commented Chinese Guy, 
who was munching down on some rissole-flavoured cheesecake. "During 
summer a lot of countries fiddle with their local time so that they get 
up slightly earlier, which gives them more time for recreation in the 
afternoons after work. Since it's summer on the southern half of the 
map at the moment," he jabbed at he screen with his fork, "it makes 
sense that they'll arrive at midnight about an hour before their 
counterparts in the northern hemisphere at the same longitude." He 
paused as an idea occurred to him. "Hey, Dr Stomper," he said, half 
turning, "If the deletion wave is following local time so closely, 
wouldn't that imply that if a country simply said it wasn't going to 
enter the year 2000 - say by sticking an infinite number of extra days 
into December '99 - that it wouldn't vanish?"
     "Theoretically, yes," the LNH's explainer supreme replied as he 
took a sip out his coffee. He looked haggard, having only ducked out of 
his lab for a quick caffeine boost. "In practice, no. Some have tried 
it, but it doesn't seem to work for long. I think the Western 
Alt.stralians were the first to come up with the idea. I believe that 
it's because if the place doesn't delete at local midnight because the 
clocks have been officially 'turned off', then the deletion will default 
to midnight for the generic international time zone measured against 
the Greenwich Meridian. That means the countries in the southern 
hemisphere can put off things for awhile - like you said, they're often 
running on daylight saving so they're already ahead by an hour or so 
anyway - but it catches up eventually. Good thinking though."
     Chinese Guy looked rueful. "But not good enough, it seems."
     Dr Stomper could only give him a sympathetic look before he had to 
down the last of his coffee and head back to work.
     "Hard day?" asked No Sense Of Direction Man.
     "No harder than anybody else," Chinese Guy shrugged. "I was 
visiting my family back in, but got a recall to fight off some 
nutcase with a giant robot who thought that the end of the world would 
be the perfect time to proclaim himself the Duke of Poughkeepsie. By 
the time that was done with, it turned out that wasn't there 
any more." He sighed. "It's a good thing that superhero class 
universes - especially the absurd ones - keep bouncing back good as new 
after each cosmic disaster, otherwise I'd be getting worried. How 
about you?"
     "The team I was assigned to were the ones who went to Disc.rael 
to fight the Lettuce Wielding Angel of Pestilence."
     "Oh yeah. I heard that those four Angels were on the loose again."
     No Sense Of Direction Man nodded. "He seemed to be obsessed with 
the idea of hurting people for no-other reason than he found it funny. 
There were lots of people there. Visitors and pilgrims, I think."
     "Yes. At this time of year, in this year in particular, that would 
be expected."
     "In any case, there were huge tent cities outside of town for the 
people who couldn't afford to pay for the limited hotel accomodation 
that was left. That was where the Angel was, causing outbreaks of 
disease among the crowded tourists. We fought him, and beat him, but he 
escaped at the last moment."
     "Good work, even if he did get away."
     NSODMan gave modest agreement, then mused, "Supposedly there'll be 
a lot more crowding next year during Easter, too. Is it normal for so 
many people to be doing that sort of thing?" As an extra-dimensional, 
he was always intrigued by the nuances of the cultures of the 
Looniearth. "Going off and crowding into one place, I mean."
     "Oh yeah. People often like to do something special - or at least 
non-routine - during holidays. It doesn't even have to be for religious 
reasons either. For instance, I visited my family purely because it was 
supposedly the 'slow' time of year. We don't really celebrate this time 
of year as a festive season."
     "Oh, right," said NSODMan, recalling who Chinese Guy was an 
analogue of. "So, do you worship 1960s and 70s television too?"
     The other looked at him in utter bafflement. "No, of course not."
     "I worship ABBA."

     In downtown Net.ropolis there was a storm brewing. It seemed to be 
centred on the Bandshell, although the foul weather and the incipient 
emergency of a Looniversal kept most people too busy to 
notice. Strong winds whipped up the fresh snow of the previous days and 
hurled it in a biting assault on anyone foolish enough or desperate 
enough to be out doors. More remarkable were the jagged bolts of vivid 
red and blue lightning that struck at the earth and buildings around the 
Bandshell. In the centre of the storm the luminescent glow that Limp-
Asparagus Lad had noticed earlier had intensified, and transient 
ephemeral shapes could be seen dancing about the periphery.

     It was approaching 6 o'clock in Net.ropolis when Occultism Kid 
entered the computer room. "Ultimate Ninja, I may have an answer." The 
Ninja nodded for him to continue. "I've done a hasty bit of research, 
and I *think* that if I can gain access to one of the planetary omphali 
I can use that 'patch' for the lack on compliance and then reboot to 
erase the damage."
     "But you're not sure."
     The Legion's senior mage shook his head and shrugged to indicate 
helplessness. "Not enough time. I could've tried to use Leomund's Tiny 
Temporally Compressed Research Center - that would've created an extra-
dimensional hidey-hole where time is speeded up relative to the rest of 
the world. It's usually a worthwhile trick for gaining some breathing 
space, but..."
     "But then you'd risk fast-tracking yourself across into the new 
year and vanishing yourself?" guessed UN shrewdly.
     "'Fraid so," replied OK, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his 
trenchcoat and looking uncomfortable about the idea.
     "Then we'll simply have to make do with your best estimate," 
Ultimate Ninja said with almost infuriating calm. "What are these 
omphali that you mentioned?"
     "Ah, yes, the omphali. Plural of omphalos, meaning 'navel'. The 
'bellybuttons of the world'. They're mystic sites that embody the nature 
of a geographic area. There are lots of them for various countries, but 
very few for the entire planet. The Net.ropolis Bandshell is one of 
them, but for our purposes I think the old Greenwich Observatory in would be more appropriate."
     The Ninja cocked an eye at the map showing the progress of the wall 
of file deletion. "You've got just over an hour before that time zone 
goes. Will that be enough time if you leave immediately? Or can you 
carry on without having to start from scratch if you have to retreat to 
the Bandshell?"
     "The latter, I think. But under the circumstances I want as much 
leeway as possible."
     "Understood. Be ready to leave in five minutes, as soon as the 
Planetary Chance Machine has chosen an escort for you."

     Slightly less that four minutes later, Chinese Guy, Bicycle Repair 
Lad and Limp-Asparagus Lad entered the room. Ultimate Ninja, Fearless 
Leader, and Occultism Kid were waiting.
     "Gentlemen," began Fearless Leader. "We've got an emergency mission 
on short notice." Then he smiled wryly. "Another one. We will be 
accompanying Occultism Kid on a trip to to try and nip the 
current catastrophe at the bud. Our purpose is to act as guards. Not all 
of the Vegetarians of the Apocalypse have been accounted for, and none 
of those encountered so far have been captured. It's possible that they 
may try to stop us. Occultism Kid?"
     The mage stepped forward. "We're heading for the old Royal 
Observatory in Greenwich. These days it's only a tourist attraction, and 
the rock concert that was scheduled to be taking place there has been 
called off on account of the rioting, so there shouldn't be anyone else 
there except guards. We can fall back to the Bandshell here in 
Net.ropolis if we have to, but the Observatory is the preferred site for 
the ritual I need to carry out."
     Ultimate Ninja concluded the necessarily brief briefing. "Needless 
to say, this mission is slightly more important than the crowd control 
that the Legion has been focusing on up until now. I have every 
confidence in you all." He gestured to the tele.thingee pads, indicating 
for them to prepared for transport. "Good luck."

     Once the team of Legionnaires arrived in, the first 
thing they became aware of was the colour of the sky. Fires highlighted 
the night skyline, while the smoke and low lying clouds reflected back 
an unhealthy orange glow. In the distant there were wails of sirens from 
emergency vehicles and the sound of screaming.
     The second thing they noticed was the eldritch glow coming from the 
courtyard of the Observatory. The Greenwich Meridian was marked on the 
ground with a brass strip cleanly dividing the Looniearth into its 
eastern and western hemispheres, and around that division were half-seen 
shapes, luminescent and gibbering. There was a buzzing noise, like 
frying grasshoppers.
     "Those phenomena look like what I saw at the Bandshell, only 
perhaps more vivid," observed Limp-Asparagus Lad.
     Occultism Kid nodded as he walked over towards it. "Not surprising. 
This place is one of the two main planetary omphali, and the Bandshell 
is the other one. They're... resistant to change, I suppose would be a 
good description. Linchpins. As the reality of the Looniverse begins to 
unravel, the differences between what is and what should be precipitate 
around the edges of these places as reality storms of greater or lesser 
power. Be careful," he warned. "The Greenwich omphalos' primary focus 
is on time, while the Bandshell's is space, which means the deletion 
effect is causing more havoc back in Net.ropolis than here. But they're 
tied together in ways that we still haven't figured out, and the time-
related nature of the Y2K problem means that there'll be some weirdness 
here as well."
     Then, in seeming defiance of his own warning, OK stepped through 
the glowing bubble of transparent images.
     Fearless Leader moved off to confirm the arrangements made in 
advance with the security guards. Occultism Kid knelt down and examined 
the ground that marked the Meridian. The others looked around, warily.
     "Okay, this looks like it's do-able," announced Occultism Kid. His 
voice was slightly muffled and distorted from inside the glow.
     Bicycle Repair Lad gave him a startled look. "You mean you weren't 
     Occultism Kid shrugged as he took out some multi-coloured chalk 
from his pocket. "With the way that the world's falling to pieces at 
the moment, the power of this place could have been deranged beyond 
usefulness." He began drawing arcane markings around the plaque. "That 
doesn't seem to be the case, which is lucky. Before we left I'd noticed 
that more than half of Eu.rec's ley-lines are already down, and some of 
the others are packing overloads."
     As if on cue, there was a hideous rumbling, and the sky to the west 
lit up in accompaniment to a distant roar.
     Possibly numbed by shock, but more likely simply phlegmatic, Limp-
Asparagus Lad asked, "What was that?"
     "Probably Stonehenge bleeding off energy buildups," replied OK 
without looking up. "It's only a hundred and fifty kilometres or so 
away, after all. Like I said, most of the ley-lines aren't working 
properly, and that's mainly because lots of the network to the east 
isn't even there anymore, including a lot of the regular discharge 
points - stone circles, the pyramids, those types of places. That means 
less earth energy in the webwork, but what energy there is will be 
discharging irregularly." He paused for a moment, and his face looked 
gravely thoughtful. "If Bit.tain and the Western Eu.rec go, then 
that'll mean most of the power that's left will begin to flare off 
through Alt.lantis and the Bermu.dir Triangle next."
     "Boiling seas?" guessed Chinese Guy.
     "Or worse. It could start thaumaturgic nucleosynthesis and create 
boiling seas of blood."
     Fearless Leader returned just as Occultism Kid finished marking 
out the chalk patterns and began taking out bottles of less savoury 
substances from his pockets.
     "Okay men," the LNH deputy leader said, "The guards know we're 
here, and will call us if they see anything unusual while they're doing 
their rounds. Everybody spread out, and keep your eyes open. I want a 
good period of warning if any of the Vegetarians arrive."
     Chinese Guy turned in preparation for a cinematic leap up to the 
roof for a better view. He did a doubletake, then said, "Too late."
     The Cabbage Wielding Angel of Death stepped forward from the 
     There was an audible click as Fearless Leader pulled the safety on 
his BIGGUN and aimed square at the Cabbage Wielder's head. "Hands up."
     "I don't think so," disagreed the Cabbage Wielder. Fearless Leader 
let off two shots that would have dropped a rhino, but the blasts 
simply accreted in a tight spiral into the cabbage that the Angel held 
in his hand, soaking up the power of FL's gun like a sponge.
     "But if you're so hot for a fight scene," added the CWAoD almost 
flippantly, "then here, you can fight them." He lobbed a couple of 
cabbages in the direction of the four guarding Legionnaires.
     When the cabbages fell short the LNHers relaxed just a little, but 
only for a half second. Suddenly there were four other figures standing 
there, apparently summoned by the Angel's hefted greenery. The Cabbage 
Wielder smirked, "Let's see how you fare against... the End Of The World 
     The Cabaret leapt forward with stylised poise. Even before they 
had landed, Chinese Guy was there to meet them: "Pose of a striking 
     The Cabaret dodged, and then began to sing They Might Be Giant's 
'The End Of The Tour':
         "There's a girl with a crown and a scepter..."
     The Legionnaires suddenly discovered that they were inexplicably 
helpless before this assault. They paused, unable to attack despite 
their best efforts, and found themselves compelled to join in:
         "who's on WLSD
         "and she says that the scene isn't what it's been
         "and she's thinking of going home.
         "That it's old and it's totally over now
         "and it's old and it's over it's over now
         "and it's over it's over it's over now.
         "I can see myself
         "at the end of the tour
         "when the road disappears
         "if there's any more people around when the tour runs aground
         "and if you're still around
         "then we'll meet at the end of the tour.
         "The engagements are booked through the end of the world so 
             we'll meet at the end of the tour."

     "Now then," said the Cabbage Wielder to Occultism Kid in a 
conversational tone. "I believe you were about to step away from that 
circle that you've drawn."
     "Not a chance," the remaining Legionnaire countered.
     "I don't think you appreciate the seriousness of your situation," 
smiled OK's opponent as he pulled out another cabbage and hurled it at 
him. "I am Death."
     Occultism Kid flicked his hand and the vegetable turned to sawdust 
in mid-flight. "I've met her," was the flat reply. "She isn't into 
     "You cannot stand against me," continued the Cabbage Wielder with 
an unwavering serene smile and another of his seemingly unending supply 
of cabbages in hand. "It simply isn't something that a mortal is 
capable of doing."
     "You know," observed Occultism Kid, "I'm really getting tired 
of every sorcerer who gains even a bit of power letting it go to their 
heads and claiming that they're a god or a major anthropomorphic 
personification or something."
     "Have it your way then." The blast of energy that erupted from the 
cabbage resting in the Angel's hand was enough to have melted a 
battleship to slag in seconds. Occultism Kid met it with a calm if 
somewhat grim determination by thrusting up an ankh, grounding the power 
in a flow of mini lightning bolts that splattered from the ankh to the 
earth in a circle about him. OK grinned. "That the best you can do?"
     The CWAoD lifted his palm towards the sky, and a tempest of power 
broke across the pair of them, a multi-coloured luminous whirlwind like 
something out of the wildest fantasies from Industrial Light and Magic. 
OK made a counter-gesture and weathered the storm easily.
     "You do realise that you're doomed, don't you?" asked the CWAoD. 
"Even if you can keep me from killing you, you still won't be able to 
complete your ritual to stop the file deletion of the world."
     "I think you underestimate the Legion."
     "I don't think so. I am darkness, the end of everything," the 
Cabbage Wielder continued relentlessly. A casual observer would have 
sworn that he simply liked to hear himself talk, but Occultism Kid was 
sure that what the CWAoD was actually doing was trying to psyche him 
out with that aura of calm certainty. After all, not all psychic attacks
involved direct mind-to-mind telepathic assault.
     Then from beneath the Angel's black trenchcoat ebony-dark wings 
unfolded themselves against the hurricane of power, and then spread out 
and out and out to seemingly enfold the sky.
     .oO( It's just an illusion, ) OK told himself.  .oO( Those feathers 
aren't even being ruffled by the wind. )
     "I am wReamentropy, the dissolution of form," continued the Angel, 
seemingly as large as the city. "I am become Mike Nelson, the destroyer 
of worlds."

     Still in the midst of being a conscript into the Cabaret's chorus 
line, Limp-Asparagus Lad was thinking of means of escape. He suspected 
that if he could dampen their drama, slow down their beat, then it 
would hopefully seriously foul the Cabaret's timing and make them loose 
control over their song, and hence over the LNHers.
     Concentrating was hard though. Their song had a grip on the 
Legionnaires' minds as well as their bodies, and it was difficult to 
focus on anything other than the Cabaret's insidious singing. They had 
chosen their music with cunning, since the Looniverse was composed of 
equal parts comic book cliches, British humour, and They Might Be Giants 
lyrics. He tried countering their music with something that had a 
totally different rhythm structure:  .oO( Our country reee-ks of trees. 
Our yaks are reaa-lly large. And they smell of rottingbeefcarcases. )
     This, however, did not work.
     From where he was L-ALad could see the look of revulsion on Chinese 
Guy's face. Clearly, this nihilistic use of music was upsetting him. 
Limp-Asparagus Lad wondered if CG's religiously based distaste could 
be used to break the hold of their captors.
     Then there was Fearless Leader. L-ALad recalled that in the past 
he had occasionally been written as a Captain America clone (albeit not 
quite as relentlessly and naively patriotic) which implied that FL 
might have reserves of 'indomitable will'(tm). This might be enough to 
free himself from the Cabaret, and if so he was presumably already 
working on it.
     Finally, Bicycle Repair Lad. His powers of Monty Python were 
considerable, but L-ALad couldn't... Wait! Of course. British humour.
     The next time that their dance brought them in direct sight of 
each other, Limp-Asparagus Lad caught BRL's attention, mouthing 'Galaxy 
Song' at him.
     Bicycle Repair Lad took the hint. He concentrated, and began to 
focus on a different tune. This was were the Cabaret's plans began to 
come unstuck. Yes, they were using one of the Three Conventions, and 
in a particularly negative and wReamentropic manner. But Bicycle Repair 
Lad didn't just *use* one of the other Conventions - his power made him 
*one with them*.
     He threw himself out of the chorus line that the Cabaret had 
trapped the Legionnaires in, spun about and sang in defiance of them:
         "Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving 
         "and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour, 
         "that's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned, 
         "a sun that is the source of all our power."
     In most superhero-style universes it is good that wins out in the 
end over evil, and so a song affirming life should - after appropriately 
dramatic struggle - win out over one used in a celebration of 
destruction. Limp-Asparagus Lad now found it surprisingly easy to step 
away from the Cabaret and add his own tenor to Bicycle Repair Lad's 
         "The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see 
         "are moving at a million miles a day 
         "in an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour, 
         "of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'."
     Not ones to be left out, Fearless Leader and Chinese Guy now 
joined in: 
         "Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
         "It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
         "It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick, 
         "but out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
         "We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
         "We go 'round every two hundred million years,
         "and our galaxy is only one of millions of billions in this 
             amazing and expanding Looniverse."
     Their musical hold on the Legionnaires now at an end, the Cabaret 
were at a serious disadvantage. Chinese Guy in particular was in the 
throes of a cranky attack about the way that The Music had been used as 
nihilistic blasphemy. One highly cinematic flying leap of four meters 
culminating with kicks to the head later and CG had two of the Cabaret 
unconscious on the ground. The others were disposed of by Bicycle Repair 
Lad, who used his powers of Monty Python to summon up a ten foot tall 
electric penguin (with tentacles) to restrain them.

     Occultism Kid smiled.
     The Cabbage Wielder took askance at that. "Do you find your 
impending doom funny, then?"
     "It's not my doom that's impending," OK countered, looking past the 
     Gunfire ricocheted off the ground around the Angel, but couldn't 
penetrate his defences. At least, not yet. He sidled around so that he 
could see what was happening while still keeping Occultism Kid in sight. 
The Legion's mage did nothing to stop him, instead watching his 
manoeuvrings with seeming amusement.
     The Angel saw that the Legion was free. That was vexing. Already 
the four other LNHers were approaching with the firm tread of people 
who weren't in the mood to take guff from a psychopath in a trenchcoat.
And while Occultism Kid's mystic resources had been fully occupied 
trying to maintain both the ritual he had started and his defences 
against the Cabbage Wielder's attacks, the Cabbage Wielder's own 
abilities were fully tied up with pressing his assault on the LNH's 
mage. The Angel couldn't spare anything to defend against these four.
     "I think you've lost," Occultism Kid suggested.
     The Cabbage Wielder glanced over his shoulder towards the east, 
where the sky was illuminated by something large and white. He smiled. 
Ah, good; only a few more minutes to go, anyway. "Perhaps I've lost the 
battle..." he replied. He threw down a final cabbage which exploded in 
a cloud of greasy black smoke. "But I don't think you have time to win 
the war," he finished as he teleported himself away.

     Occultism Kid's call to the LNHQ was only a few minutes later. 
"Ultimate Ninja? Occultism Kid here. The ritual is complete. The 
triggering device has been tied into the Legion's computer systems to 
activate Renegade Programmer's debugging patch. We're ready to beam out 
and initiate the reboot."
     "The tele.thingees have finally burnt out," Ultimate Ninja replied. 
"All of our field teams are stranded until we can enact repairs. Can you 
transport yourself back with a spell?"
     "Uh, no," said OK, his voice rising a little in fear. "The ritual, 
on top of the fight with the Cabbage Wielding Angel, has left me 
mystically bankrupt at the moment. Listen UN, I wanted to run a few 
minutes of tests before carrying the plan out, but I think you'll have 
to run a 'cold start' without..."
     "Occultism Kid? Occultism Kid!"
     "'s gone," said Renegade Programmer.
     Ultimate Ninja's jaw seemed to set a little more grimly. "Very 
well then. Where is this triggering device?"
     "Here, sir," said W.I.L.B.U.R., pointing at a button on the console 
that hadn't been present a few seconds ago.
     Ultimate Ninja looked at it. It was a large-ish thing that was half 
black and half white, with a smaller half black and half white diamond 
shape within. "Cute, very cute," the LNH leader said. Still, it made it 
obvious what had to be done next.
     He pushed the button and yelled, "REBOOT!"

     It was just after 5 in the morning in Net.ropolis, and Limp-
Asparagus Lad was walking to the LNHQ to prepare for the morning 
breakfast shift. As he passed the Net.ropolis Bandshell he paused.
     He looked up at the Bandshell, where a new year's eve concert 
would be begin this afternoon in a little over twelve hours time. But 
right now the landmark was quiet and still.

     Okay then, lessee... Mew2K has failed. Check. The non-compliant 
nature of the Looniverse itself has failed. Check. That means that the 
next attempt to destroy the world on new year's eve takes place in 
_Alt.Riders Y2K Special_. And _Hell's Titan's_ probably fits in 
     Remember: LNH net.comics. More attempts to end the world on the 
eve of the year 2000 than any other imprint on RACC.

Anal-Retentive Add Notes:
     "Hi everybody. Anal-Retentive Archive Kid here with a few notes. 
     "The name for the End of The World Cabaret originated from _Neil's 
Heavy Concept Album_, although the two versions are quite different.
     " 'The End Of The Tour' comes from the They Might Be Giant's album 
_John Henry_.  'The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksman Song' comes from the 
_Ren And Stimpy_ cartoon.  'The Galaxy Song' is from the movie _Monty 
Python's The Meaning Of Life_. All excerpts used without permission.
     "The reference to Chinese Guy's religious denomination is based on 
the apparent fact that after Sweden, Australia has one of the largest 
per capita fan bases for ABBA in the world.
     "The activities of the Cabbage Wielding Angel of Death shown here 
are at odds with the apocalypse depicted in _Hell's Titans_ #-6 to 0. 
This is because of it either being in an alt.timeline or more temporal 
reboots. Take your pick.
     "The World War III scenario, and its resolution with teleporters, 
was culled from descriptions of Mike Burke's long-running Champion's 
role-playing game. The additions of the use of drama energy and of the 
declaration of martial law are new to this story."

Character credits:
     Cabbage Wielding Angel of Death created by Jesse Willey and Tom 
Russell, and the other Vegetarians of the Apocalypse created by Jesse 
     Bicycle Repair Lad created by Used 
without permission.
     Dr Stomper and Killfile are Public Domain.
     Fearless Leader is Public Domain, created by Dvandom (Dave Van 
Domelen). For that matter, I suppose Chinese Guy falls into that 
category as well.
     Jonathon Connery created by Jaelle (Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler).
     Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton. Created by Mystic 
Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham(chaos and entropy 
     Multi-Tasking Man created by Jeff Coleburn. Used without permission.
Likewise for W.I.L.B.U.R., though he's not a WC and so I don't think I 
need to feel quite so guilty about not asking :-)
     No Sense Of Direction Man created by Steven Howard.
     Occultism Kid created by Josh Geurink. Used without permission.
     Renegade Programmer created by wReam and is the Writer Character 
of Josh Dinerstein.
     Sister-State-The-Obvious, wReamhack, Ultimate Ninja created by wReam.
     Shake-N-Bake Lass created by Arsenal (Ted Brock).
     Anyone else is probably mine.

All characters copyright 1999 their owners or creators.
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