You are on page 1of 25

Issue 37 January 01, 2008

 Pg. 2
Ray Gun Revival
Table of Contents
Overlords (Founders / Editors):
Johne Cook, L. S. King, Paul Christian Glenn 2 Table of Contents
Venerable Staff: 3 Overlords’ Lair
A.M. Stickel - Managing Copyeditor
Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening 5 Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale
ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee
Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand
by T. M. Hunter
L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse, 11 Featured Artist: Finn Clark
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle 14 The Pasadena Rule
by Ben Schumacher
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors): 20 Deuces Wild, Interlude
Scott M. Sandridge
John M. Whalen by L. S. King
David Wilhelms
Shari L. Armstrong 25 The RGR Time Capsule
Jack Willard
December 15 - December 30, 2007
Serial Authors:
Sean T. M. Stiennon
John M. Whalen
Ben Schumacher
Lee S. King
Paul Christian Glenn
Johne Cook

Cover Art: “Dovebot” by Finn Clark

Without Whom... Bill Snodgrass, site host, Visit us online at
Web-Net Solutions, admin, webmaster, database admin, mentor, confi-
dante, liaison – Double-edged Publishing All content copyright 2008 by Double-edged Publishing, 
a Memphis, Tennessee-based non-profit publisher.
Special Thanks:
Ray Gun Revival logo design by Hatchbox Creative
Rev: 20080101d
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008 
Pg. 3

Overlords’ Lair

knew it was the new year when I walked into So let’s dig into the stories in Issue 37. We start Sad to say, it wasn’t the first dead body I’d
my local athletic club and saw the crowd of new with Ever Dark, An Aston West tale by T. M. ever seen, and wouldn’t be the last. The same
working out their New Years resolutions. Hunter. A solitary captain of a tramp freighter could be said for a being who took his own
It would be easy to sneer at the newcomers, gets more than he bargained for when he finds life. Sometimes the darkness of death was
but despite the fresh faces competing for the an abandoned freight ship. preferable to the alternative.
machines I like to use and the racquetball
courts that I frequent, I applaud their desire A hatch in the right wall split apart as I Chapters 9 and 10 of The Pasadena Rule by
to make things better, whether they ultimately approached. Three more piles of ash lay at Ben Schumacher picks up after one of the more
stick with it or not. various spots around the rectangular bridge. selfless, daring acts I’ve ever read in fiction.
Only one energy weapon was nearby, which told Katya was trapped on the planet’s surface, and
I know that the hard fact is that they won’t all me someone had disintegrated unarmed victims. Jack jumped out of a perfectly good orbiting
stick with it, and for many of them, things will I shuddered. craft to try to help her. Talk about leaping to
return to ‘normal’ before you know it. However, someone’s aid.
I’m pulling for them. The console stations around the bridge were all
functional, so it didn’t take long to find the cargo “Talk to me, Jack!”
Here at Ray Gun Revival magazine, we have bay controls at the aft end of the room. Fortunate
our own short list of things we’d like to do this for me, they weren’t locked down, so I ejected It has been conclusively established from my
next year. We have a number of serial novels the first four bays and lifted my transmitter. suit data record that I was unconscious for no
concluding, and will be making them available “Jeanie, pull those containers in.” more than two minutes. You couldn’t prove
as printed books. We have others waiting in “Acknowledged.” that by me. When Katya’s urgent voice dragged
the wings, including one by noted sci-fi author me back to awareness, it might have been two
MKeaton. Behind the scenes, we’d like to I heard the far-off clunk as Jeanie hours or two weeks later. At first I did not even
cross-train our development so that more broke free from the docking station. know where I was. (Remembering that datum a
of us are able to help do the nuts-and-bolts With time to kill, curiosity stepped in and I few seconds later did not exactly cheer me up.)
development of the magazine. We’re looking walked toward a small door half-open in the
for more Slushmasters to provide better and corner. A golden plaque lay at chest level Finally, Season One of Deuces Wild has
faster feedback to story subs. Bill Snodgrass and marked the room as Captain’s quarters. Slap’s homewhen concluded Slap and Tristan returned to
planet and took down the Mordas
from Double-edged Publishing continues I pushed the door aside and saw a grey-haired crime syndicate from
to provide us with author and editor tools. head atop a wooden desk. The attached tells us that we’ve just within. finished
Author L. S. King
the introduction.
And we’d like to create new formats for the body was slumped forward in the matching
magazine so you can read RGR on your favorite chair. He had a loose grip on a small energy The real story starts now with a little difference
hand-held device. But most of all, we’d like to weapon, same as the others I’d seen. I snuck between who is the owner and who is the
release the magazine on time. We’re working a glance at his left temple where a scorch captain.
on that, too. ; ) mark was etched into his leathery skin.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
 Pg. 4

“Y’know,” said Slap’s voice from behind him,
“the best cabin should belong to the owner.”
“It’s called ‘the captain’s cabin,’” retorted
Chortling, Slap held out an e-pad. “We have
two cargoes heading out, and three to pick up
and bring back.”
“Turning me into a legitimate businessman?”
“I’m sure you’ll find side stuff for yourself. But
I do appreciate that you’re helping my people
and the Guilds and Merchants.”
Tristan didn’t deign to answer. He strode
toward the bridge, but from down the hall
Carter’s voice called, “Captain? Someone here
to see you.”
Tristan spun and headed for the side hatch.
Carter’s huge eyes were glued to the visitor,
and no wonder. Tanya looked as alluring as
ever. Distracting as ever.
“We need to talk,” she said without preamble.
The hard fact is that we probably won’t get to
all of our desired ideas for the coming year.
However, I hope you’ll all be pulling for us! ;)
May 2008 be a great year for you and yours, and
thanks, again, for reading Ray Gun Revival.

Johne Cook
Overlord, RGR
Breezeway, Wisconsin
January, 2008

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 5
Ever Dark
An Aston West Tale
by T. M. Hunter

S pace is a glamorous place, at least so
spaceship salesmen and travel agents would
have you believe. In reality, journeys through
there was always a slim chance he might say
something useful. Tabor’s ragged voice carried
over the internal speakers.
“Last message, from...”
A white flash filled every spot on my views-
the darkness bore one to near-death and creen and disrupted the beacon’s signal. A
usually get exciting when you least expect it. “West? You’re still alive? I thought you’d vessel appeared a few kilpars the other side of
have stumbled across the wrong end of a blast the beacon.
Or want it to. rifle by now.”
I cursed and shielded my eyes too late.
My ship’s computer broke the silence with I rolled my eyes as he continued. “Jeanie, report.”
her female voice. “We’re in range.”
“Not a lot of takers around here for “An Ursulan freighter just dropped out of
“Full stop.” low-value cargo. Bring me something I can sell, hyperspeed.”
or don’t bother.”
On my forward viewscreen, a background of I blinked, then squinted at the viewscreen
dismal black was sprinkled with tiny pinpoints It didn’t matter what people were buying, as as spots danced before my eyes. Six exhaust
of light. A shiny metal sphere hovered a couple my four cargo bays were all empty. “Delete.” nozzles at the back of the vessel were dormant
kilpars ahead, its sole purpose to span informa- against the starfield while the mammoth ship
tion throughout the darkness. Identical devices “Second message, sender unknown.” raced along on its own momentum.
were placed around the galaxy, marked on I sat up. “Pause and explain.” The hairs on the back of my neck rose.
every space chart one could buy. Even in the
dark regions of the galaxy, we still needed to Cargo freighters didn’t make unscheduled
“It appears the sender’s identity has been
communicate with one other. stops, especially in the middle of nowhere.
I leaned back and folded my hands behind “Freighter’s status?”
Rather odd, but intriguing. “Continue.”
my head. “Hack in, Jeanie.” A few moments passed as Jeanie gathered
A quiet voice mumbled, to the point I could
“Already done.” information from the freighter’s computer.
barely make it out. “Mr. West, I received your “Original destination was the Triton system.
name from a mutual acquaintance and would
I smiled. It was cheaper than paying for a The ship is out of fuel.”
like to hire you for a cargo run. If you’re inter-
login subscription. ested, proceed to Mahs system spacedock.” “Triton? I’d say the crew is having naviga-
“Retrieve. Start with the newest.” tion problems. We’re not on any shipping route
I was. to Triton.”
“Three new messages, the first from Tabor The message continued. “We’ll find you.”
Yurick.” “The crew does not have a navigation
“Save for later.” problem.”
I was tempted to skip his message, but

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 6

“How’s that?” I let out a laugh of excitement. “Can you I stepped down the hall and the hairs in
drop the bays remotely?” my nose curled. As I turned the corner, a pile
“I find no life signs to indicate a crew.” of light gray ash lay on the floor along the left
Again, she paused. “Negative.” wall. A handheld energy weapon rested next
Her statement made me pause, though to the debris.
some of my best scavenging efforts had been If not for the fact she was a machine pro-
from crewless ships. grammed to obey, I would have thought she Disintegrator cannon fire was one of the
had just sabotaged my efforts. more horrific ways to die and nothing a decent
She continued. “They are transmitting on person would wish on even their worst enemy.
the emergency channel.” “Guess I’ll have to do it myself.” I shook my Out of paranoia, I lifted my wrist.
head and sighed. “Take us in.”
I had to take a golden opportunity for what “Jeanie, let me know if you see anything
it was, and quickly. I stood and made my way to the back as inside or outside the freighter.”
we adjusted course toward the port docking
“Move to intercept.” station. “Acknowledged.”
I watched the squashed hexagon of a ship
# A hatch in the right wall split apart as I
as our aft thrusters fired and we closed the approached. Three more piles of ash lay at
distance. Every usable amount of space on the
The air inside the Ursulan freighter was various spots around the rectangular bridge.
hull was covered with a cargo bay door, five
stale as I stepped out of the airlock. I licked Only one energy weapon was nearby, which
rows down the length and eight bays around
my lips, then looked up and down a narrow told me someone had disintegrated unarmed
the perimeter. A large spherical dome rested
corridor with bland tan walls and floorboards. victims.
on top of the freighter at its front end. A pair
of docking stations waited for us, one on each The stench of burnt flesh lingered in the air. I shuddered.
side. I pulled my Mark II blaster out of its holster, The console stations around the bridge
“So, any idea what happened to the then gripped the handle of the stubby weapon. were all functional, so it didn’t take long to
crew?” My palm was moist as I switched over to a find the cargo bay controls at the aft end of the
three-shot burst. I raised my other hand and room. Fortunately for me, they weren’t locked
“There is evidence of video logs, but spoke into the cuff transmitter. down, so I ejected the first four bays and lifted
they can only be accessed from the captain’s
“Jeanie, I’m going to need directions.” I’d my transmitter.
only seen Ursulan freighters from the outside “Jeanie, pull those containers in.”
There was a more pressing issue at stake before.
anyway. “Acknowledged.”
“Are you still at the airlock?”
“What’s the cargo?” I heard the far-off clunk as Jeanie broke
“Yes.” free from the docking station.
Jeanie paused a little longer than she
probably should have. “According to the “Go left down a small corridor and the With time to kill, curiosity stepped in and
manifest, all of the bays are filled with contain- bridge should be around the corner, the first I walked toward a small door half-open in the
ers of platinum ore.” hatch on your right.” corner. A golden plaque lay at chest level and
“Thanks.” marked the room as “Captain’s Quarters.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 7

I pushed the door aside and saw a grey- “Our computer is back to minimum I stepped back around the desk and
haired head atop a wooden desk. The attached operation and she has been programmed to glanced at the piles of ash on my way through
body was slumped forward in the matching engage the hyperspeed engines as soon as the bridge. If there was one major reason why
chair. He had a loose grip on a small energy she’s able. The ship won’t stop until the fuel I stayed in the scavenging business, this was it.
weapon, same as the others I’d seen. I snuck a tanks run dry. Hopefully these scumbags will I couldn’t attack innocent people, especially if
glance at his left temple where a scorch mark be stranded on this ship until they’re caught.” it meant they’d suffer in the process. I steered
was etched into his leathery skin. away from more direct forms of piracy for a
My guess was they’d discovered his plan reason.
Sad to say, it wasn’t the first dead body I’d and abandoned ship. It would have been hard
ever seen, and wouldn’t be the last. The same giving up forty bays of platinum ore. But all Jeanie’s frantic voice returned as I walked
could be said for a being who took his own life. that wealth wouldn’t have helped any if they down the main corridor. “Aston, three AP-2s
Sometimes the darkness of death was prefer- had no way to take the ship anywhere. have appeared on long-range sensors.”
able to the alternative.
Bad for them, good for me. Patrol ships. They weren’t out for a stroll.
I lifted my sleeve. “How’s it going out
there?” Tears fell in crooked lines down his face. I ran for the port docking station. “Mask
“They say a captain must go down with his the cargo. I’ll be right there.”
“One container retrieved. I am bringing the ship. But I have seen the horror that goes with
second into the ship.” disintegrator cannons and there is a reason “Acknowledged.”
civilized societies outlaw them. I won’t become
“Let me know as soon as you have the last another victim.” #
He raised the weapon to his temple and I I jumped into my chair as we broke free
“Acknowledged.” flinched as he emptied the discharge chamber. from the docking station and moved away.
His eyes went wide just after the bright flash,
I ventured behind him and looked at a then rolled up into his head before he fell “Incoming message.”
small monitor sitting on the corner of his desk. forward.
A menu of available log videos was on the thin I breathed deep and settled myself. “Put it
screen, so I reached over and tapped the most Death, destruction—I’d seen so much out through.”
recent entry. here in this vast wasteland. You never really
got used to it as much as you became better The left half of my viewscreen switched
He appeared on the screen, with his to a communications view. A man with light
armed to deal with the emotional baggage.
attention on the camera embedded in the skin and jet black curls stood tall in a dark blue
My normal weapon of choice was a bottle of
upper edge of the monitor. Pounding echoed uniform. Two crewmen in similar uniforms sat
alcohol, but I’d have to wait until I got back to
in the background of the recording. “This will at segregated consoles in front of him, both
my ship to pull the trigger.
be my last entry.” with their heads down.
Jeanie’s voice echoed. “All cargo containers
A cold chill ran up my spine. “Commander Jameson of the Triton Security
have been retrieved.”
“We were ambushed, and the rest of the “Meet back where you dropped me off.”
crew…massacred.” “Aston West. How can I help you,
“Acknowledged.” Commander?”
The energy weapon in his hand shifted.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 8

He snarled. “You can start with what you’re myself.” I smirked. “You’re welcome.”
doing with this freighter.”
Was it really lying if you just omitted facts— “They say there are four bays of ore
“I was accessing a communications beacon, little things, like the fact I’d dumped four bays missing.”
when it dropped out of hyperspeed.” of precious cargo in the process?
“An automatic emergency beacon was “And did you find anything?”
activated on the freighter. We decided to check The commander sneered. “Know anything
it out.” He curled one corner of his mouth to “Looks like they were massacred in an about that?”
make a point. ambush.”
I paused a moment to collect my thoughts.
“It’s out of fuel.” “Of which I’m sure you’re completely Jeanie had the cargo masked, so there would
innocent.” be no evidence for them to connect me to the
He turned to one of his crew. “Get a fuel missing ore...unless, of course, they boarded
transport out here on the double.” I snorted. “I don’t have the firepower to my ship.
stop that freighter.”
I moved my hand up to the console on my “Nope, not a thing.”
left and gently shut off the audio portion of the “So you had help.”
transmission. I moved my other hand up and He knew I was lying, from his raised
“They weren’t ambushed here. Check the eyebrow.
mimicked a cough. last video log, in the captain’s quarters.”
“Jeanie, where are the other ships?” I shrugged. “Scan my hold if you don’t
“We will.” believe me.”
“Docking with the freighter.” One of the crew interrupted a short while “I have a better idea. How about we come
Another mock cough. “On the views- later as he turned back to his commander. over and look for ourselves?”
creen.” “They’re in. Looks like everyone’s dead.”
I muted the audio and mocked another
I brought the audio back as Jameson noticed “Have them check the log.” cough. “Jeanie set a course for Iopeia. Get
I was muted. “Sorry. Must have something ready to jump to hyperspeed.”
“I can tell you what they’ll find. The captain
caught in my throat.” killed himself rather than get disintegrated.” “Acknowledged.”
On the other half of the viewscreen, I Jameson passed between the consoles and I rejoined the conversation. “Sorry about
watched the two ships move closer to the approached his viewscreen with another snarl. that. Guess I must be catching something.”
freighter. Their bulbous front end tapered to a “You’ll understand if I don’t just take your word
single engine at the back, all on top of triangu- for it.” “Prepare to be boarded.”
lar delta wings.
“Suit yourself.” I was a moment away from making the
He folded his arms across his chest. “We jump before my mind kicked in. I held back a
noticed you were docked to the freighter.” A few moments passed before the crewman smile.
jumped in again. “They’ve checked the log. It’s
“My ship’s computer informed me there just like he said.” “Not to be a stickler for the rules,
was no crew aboard. I wanted to see for Commander, but aren’t you a bit out of your

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 9

jurisdiction?” the spherical dome. Jameson’s ship moved crew’s life for their own greed. I took another
toward the freighter. drink.
He frowned. “You’re trying to get out of
this on a technicality?” “Take us back to the beacon, Jeanie.” “Jeanie, are you still inside the freighter’s
computer system?”
His ship closed on my position. I reached down beside my chair as we
turned. I pulled a bottle of Vladirian liquor out “Yes.”
“If you’d like, we could have the local of the pocket. A large dose of the pale yellow
authorities settle this.” liquid was just the thing to take the edge off. “Does it have a self-destruct setting?”
I watched for a sign of his next move behind I didn’t really need to make this transmis- “Yes.”
the frown on his face. Time was running out, sion. Tabor didn’t really care if he had advance
and a hyperspeed jump was looking more and I guzzled the liquor one more time, then
notice of my arrival. Time was what I was after,
more viable with every moment. placed the nearly empty bottle back in its
to process what I’d just seen. pocket. “Set it.”
Jameson glared at me. “Get out of here My ship wasn’t capable of taking on three
before I blast your ship apart.” “Any specific amount of time?”
patrol ships, and it looked like this group
of sadists was going to get away with mass I watched as Jameson’s patrol ship skimmed
“Glad we could come to an understanding, murder. I felt sorry for the crew. They’d likely the upper surface of the freighter.
Commander.” I smiled as he turned and walked trusted these lawmen, and had given their
back to his chair. lives in exchange. I didn’t plan to let them have a chance to
All’s well that ends well, even if I had no get out like the first time. “Just blow it now.”
Jeanie caught my attention. “We’re in
idea whether the local authorities would make range.” The Ursulan freighter burst apart in a
matters worse or not. With victory now in hand, sequence of huge fiery explosions. Each
I nearly terminated the transmission when I I sighed and sent out a useless message. firestorm collapsed just moments after it
caught sight of a disintegrator cannon tucked “Message to Tabor Yurick. I have some high-val- escaped the outer hull, but not before the
away on the floor beside his chair. There was ue merchandise. See you soon. End message.” destructive blasts took out all three patrol
no mistaking the long-barreled heavy weapon. ships. As debris scattered, I smiled with the
“Message packaged.”
Every nerve ending in my body fired off at knowledge that justice had been dispensed,
the same time. I took another drink. “Send it.” almost in the way the freighter’s captain had
I tried to keep my mind off the obvious. “If “Done.”
you don’t mind, Commander, I have one last Sometimes the darkness of death was pref-
communication to send out, then I’ll be out of “Course still laid in for Iopeia?” erable to the alternative.
your hair.” “Yes.” “Hyperspeed.”
“Make it quick.” I watched Jameson’s vessel as it drew
The conversation was terminated, and the closer to the two patrol ships docked with the
full viewscreen displayed the freighter and two freighter. Anger burned inside me, an intense
patrol ships already docked on either side of hatred for murderers who took an innocent

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale by T. M. Hunter Pg. 10

T. M. Hunter
T.M.Hunter has been writing space opera
for many years, and is currently trying to
break into publication through his various
characters, the most notable being Aston
West and Gabriel Peters. Look for more short
stories featuring these two coming soon.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Finn Clark Pg. 11

Featured Artist
Finn Clark
Name: Finn Clark
Age: 17
Hobbies: Drawing, music, and playing guitar
Favourite Artist: Bruno Gentile or Joao Ruas
What media do you work in? Mostly, I just draw with
pencils, but I started using pens and markers too. I
first tried Digital Painting in 2005, and still do it from
time to time, but at the moment I’m trying to get to
grips with

Where your work has been featured? I have had a feature in the FXpose section of
ImagineFX magazine and on the website deviantART.
Where should someone go if they wanted to view / buy some of your works? http://
I don’t have prints enabled at the moment, but might consider it people are interested.
Who are your current influences? David Levy, Russ Mills, and Joao Ruas
What inspired the art for the cover? I love the expressive robot characters created by
Ashley Wood and Jon Foster, and I wanted to do one for myself. It’s just an abstract
figurative piece, and there’s really not a lot of meaning behind it.
What are your favourite tools / equipment for producing your art? Most pictures
start off as small thumbnails in my sketchbook, and most of the time I don’t know
what I’m out to create. I just let the pencil explore the paper. When I have a stronger
sense of direction with a piece, I put the drawing onto computer and continue work in
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Finn Clark Pg. 12

What tool / equipment do you wish you had?
A scanner. I would spend longer drawing and
painting, if I knew I could retain the quality of it
when it was finally put onto computer.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Finn Clark Pg. 13

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 14

The Pasadena Rule
by Ben Schumacher

9. Actually, weirdly, in some ways I felt better than out.”
I had before touchdown. My system had done
“T alk to me, Jack!”
It has been conclusively established
some catching up with the pressure, and I was
no longer dizzy. Come to think of it, there had
only been three rhinos in the kicking squad,
“Negative on getting up, Jack,” Max said.
“Dr. Martinez says to stay put for a few minutes
and let your suit systems catch up.”
from my suit data record that I was unconscious and the train had only run over my left ankle.
for no more than two minutes. You couldn’t “Okay,” I said. I wasn’t too eager to stand
prove that by me. When Katya’s urgent voice “We are standing by,” Katya said. up anyway. “Listen, Max, you and Katya are
dragged me back to awareness, it might have coming in rather broken up. Let me check my
been two hours or two weeks later. At first I I opened my eyes and frowned, trying to suit communicator.”
did not even know where I was. (Remembering focus. I was sprawled on some flat, broken
that datum a few seconds later did not exactly stones that lay on the mountainside. The eagle There was another distorted message: “…
cheer me up.) had definitely landed, and I was on terra firma, kilometers...this circuit. We suggest...relay
or whatever you called it. I knew Virgil was through Virgil. Over.”
“You bastard, you stinking bastard, you someplace nearby, over that way perhaps, but
will not do this to me! Do you hear me? Jack, Of course. I was still routing my suit com-
the landing had been confusing and I wasn’t
acknowledge this transmission!” The radio munications through Gamma, which was now
sure. No matter. The details would sort them-
reception was fuzzy and had echoes. hundreds of kilometers to the east. The local
selves out soon enough. terrain was probably bouncing things around
“Katya,” came another static-distorted I tried to read my suit status display. “Jack a bit. “Confirm that. I will switch over to relay
voice. “Katya, please—” here,” I said. “I’m on the surface. Sorry about through the lander.”
the blackout; I had a rough landing. My suit
“Shut up, Max. Jack, I will not take this. Do Katya came on. “Jack, switch
seems to be okay.”
you understand? Answer me, Jack!” Katya’s toggle six, repeat, one toggle.”
voice was hard and angry and more than a “Thank God,” Katya said.
little hysterical. “Copy that. Switching my comm to one
Max came on and added, “Great, Jack! We toggle six.” When I’d reset the helmet control,
I groaned and tried to move. thought we’d lost you there.” I could hear some the static in my headphones died away and
happy noises behind him on the flight deck of Katya’s voice came loud and clear.
The communications channel got very quiet Gamma.
all of a sudden. Katya said softly, “Jack? Is that “Check communications. Do you hear me,
you?” “I’m glad to report otherwise,” I said. There Jack?”
was a burst of static, and I added, “Say again,
“Yeah,” I croaked. “Still with you. Stand “I read you fine on mode one. I’m toggling
by.” to alternate.” I bumped the switch with my
“What’s your condition?” chin. “Mode six is the private surface channel,
I moved again and groaned again. I felt right?”
like I had been kicked to a bloody pulp by six “I’ve hurt my left foot. I’ll get up and try it
bad-tempered rhinos, then run over by a train. “Just you and me, on vox,” she said. “Mode

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 15

one gets relayed on up to the satellite.” as good as could be expected. While we went breath in and push it out again. I waved my
through this I sat myself up and got my bearings arms as I walked, paddling the air to help keep
“Good idea.” with the suit’s navigational display. The lander my balance. Even more than before, I felt as if I
was two hundred meters away, above me and were moving along the ocean floor.
“How are you? We were worried.” around the curve of the mountainside. From
seventy kilometers up, that counted as a bull’s- The landscape, red and gray rocks heaped
“I’m beat up, but I’ll live,” I said. “The
eye. on a desolate mountain, was as lifeless as the
landing knocked me out.” Moon. In fact, the Moon was less forbidding,
“Your landing almost killed me.” My suit was feeding me pain-killer, which with the Earth and the Sun and the stars above
was finally doing its job. Only my ankle you for companionship. Here was only a fea-
“Sorry about that. I’ll do it better next continued throbbing. A blurry head and a tureless ceiling, immensely far away. Distant
time.” slight muscle tremor were ordinary fatigue, so I parts of the vista seemed tilted upwards by
instructed the suit to add a dose of a stimulant refraction.
“Arkasha is beeping us. Back over to mode to my system. I might pay the price later, but
one.” the stim would keep me going for now. The rocks were worth looking at. Much of
the surface material around was a smooth,
“Okay. Love you.” I chinned the toggle. I tested my left ankle before getting up. It dark lava rock with a very fine texture, not
was sprained but not broken, or at any rate quite like anything I’d seen. “Hey, Katya,” I said,
# not seriously. The suit was doing something to when I’d paused to give my ankle a rest. “You
keep the swelling down. With a little caution, I were right. These rocks are interesting. Did you
With the touchdown, we were handed over could probably hobble around on it. That was get some samples?”
from Max (my “flight controller”) to Aphrodite, good enough. I had some ground to cover to
where Arkady Rudin was doing the sky-to- get to Virgil, and I didn’t care to do the whole “I must have left them outside,” she said.
ground comms. Arkasha came on the line with distance on hands and knees. My head swam “Perhaps I should collect a few.”
a cheerful voice. “Jack! This is Arkasha. Very when I finally managed to get to my feet.
well done. I was betting on you.” “Jack, if you are interested in rocks, we
“Okay to go, Jack?” Katya asked. have more than we need right here..”
“Did you win much?”
“Okay enough,” I grunted. “It may take me “Right.” For a moment, I’d almost forgotten
“Not a dime. No one would bet against a while to reach you.” why I was there. I hobbled a few more meters
It did take me a while. The slope had once up the hill.
I’m not sure I believed her. “You should been covered by a broad sheet of smooth lava, I came to a short stretch of steeper slope
have asked me,” I said. “I might have taken which had broken up into pieces about the size that angled up to my right, and I awkwardly
your bet, just to cover the bases.” of a lunch tray. The footing was treacherous, scrambled up it—taking care of the shiny outer
and the pain shooting up my left leg forced
For the next few minutes, Arkasha had me layer of my hotsuit, the one that was keeping
me to stop every couple of minutes and stand
relay various readings on my suit status, my the outside inferno pleasantly outside. At
on the other foot. As Katya directed, I slowly
biomeds, and the environmental conditions. the top I came to the flat area of the landing
worked my way up the slope and over toward
My suit was in great shape, my biomeds could zone. There was the long chaotic track of the
where Virgil lay, out of my sight. The air had
have been better, and outside the conditions landslide, demolishing the far side of the LZ.
the odd thick feeling of really high pressures.
were extremely nasty. In short, everything was And there, at the edge of the slide, less than
My diaphragm had to work harder to draw

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 16

a hundred meters away, was the silvery shape outer thermal garment but was still wearing a rock the size of a cantaloupe had sheared it
of Virgil. both inner layers of the hotsuit, her life-sup- clean off. The secondary propulsion jets, used
port umbilical plugged into Virgil’s own system. at high altitude, were closed up, but there was
I climbed onto the edge and waved my Over her right leg and much of the right side no visible damage to the vents. I could only
arms. “I’m here. I see Virgil.” Even better, I of her body, the second layer of her suit was hope they’d deploy when the time came.
could see into the cockpit, where a small figure blackened and discolored. Heat damage, I
was waving back at me. I grinned and limped realized; the damage to her insulation must Beside the airlock outer door I spotted
toward her. have been on her right leg. My eyes widened. something shiny on the ground. I stooped
“How bad is it?” over and picked it up. It was a ragged strip of
Arkady was relaying the congratulations of a silvery material, about five centimeters by
practically everybody, but I wasn’t listening. “Bad enough. I don’t walk even as well as twenty. I rubbed it between my fingers.
My eye was running over Virgil, taking in the you do. I had to crawl most of the way. The suit
situation. The images Katya had sent up had computer kept telling me to lie down and wait “Jack?” Arkasha said after a moment. “Are
shown the main details, but this was the first for help.” you still there? Have you found something?”
time anyone aside from her had gotten a look
at the overall picture. It was amazing that the What would that be like, to drag yourself I realized that this was a piece of Jules
lander had survived. Twenty meters further along with your right leg roasting, the heat Bertillame’s hotsuit, the fragment that Katya
over and it would have been smashed; forty of it—and maybe the smell of it—filling your had found after the landslide. Poor J. B. “It’s
meters, and the wreckage would have been suit? I could not imagine. Without the hotsuit nothing,” I said, dropping the strip on the
dragged down the mountain. systems to maintain her, she would have gone ground. “Continuing down the port side....”
into shock and died. Even with them, she
I came to the nose of Virgil. The cockpit would not last forever down here. “Well, help
windows were a meter above my head, but I has arrived.” 10.
managed to get my good foot on the knee of
the front landing skid and hoist myself up. “I know. Thank you.” She kissed her fingers Now it was time to see about the main
and pressed them to the window. I put my own problem, the big ducted fans. Both of them
“Zdravstvuytye,” I said. glove on the outside of the window, our fingers were blocked by several wheelbarrow loads
about four centimeters apart. That was as close of rock fragments that had spilled over the
“Hello,” Katya said. She looked drawn as we could get.. landing zone from the edge of the landslide.
and haggard, but she was right there and she
was smiling at me. Whatever happens next, I The portside job actually looked a little easier
The call light flashed on channel one. “Back
told myself, this is worth it. She raised up six than the pictures had suggested, but the
to work,” I said. I hit the toggle with my chin.
fingers. I nodded and toggled to the private starboard propeller, on the uphill side of the
comm channel. lander, was jammed tight. I started portside.
“You don’t look so good,” she said. Rocks are rocks, and on Venus they are
For the next few minutes, I made a verbal almost as heavy as they are on Earth. It was
“I had a rough trip. How are you?” report to the engineers up on the Aphrodite. a hell of a job to move them without even so
The aerodynamic surfaces were battered but much as a crowbar to help. Some of the rocks
She shrugged and waved an hand to intact. The landing skids were bent, but those were awkwardly placed. I fetched a piece of
indicate her own body. She was sitting in the could be dropped away once we took off. I saw the broken high-gain antenna to try to pry up a
pilot’s seat. I could see that she had shed her why the directional antenna wasn’t working: fifty kilo monster, but, predictably, it snapped

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 17

on the first good shove. The good news was cycling now. You should be able to open the but they don’t all expand the same amount.
that I didn’t have to cart the rocks very far. Just outside door in about two minutes. The EVA Things that would have moved easily in a cool
heaving them out of the way of the fan was toolbox is in there.” maintenance bay were wedged tight down
enough. I made slow progress. I was vaguely here in the oven.
aware of conversations going on between Katya I thought about it for a second or two.
and people aloft and in orbit, making plans for “Copy that,” I said. “Going to six.” On the private In the end, we did manage. But it took five
steps two through twelve while I labored on channel, I said, “Katya, the starboard side may times longer than anyone expected.
step one. be even worse. This is going to cut our lift.”
“Uh oh,” I said. “I know,” she said calmly. “We just have
make it work somehow.” On to the starboard fan, which was worse.
“What is it, Jack?” Katya asked. There was more rock to move, and I was getting
# tired. Nothing the suit could do to my blood-
I had finally uncovered the outer rim of one
of the fan blades and found to my horror that it stream could mask this fatigue. Dr. Martinez
The airlock held the toolbox and a lot of recommended a rest period, preferably
was badly damaged. A rock twenty centimeters loose equipment that Katya had dumped to involving some sleep, but he was overruled.
across had broken off part of the blade and put lighten the ship. The whole load didn’t amount Delta was on its way, pulled along with the
visible cracks in the rest of it. If the portside to two percent of Virgil’s gross weight, but Venerian jet stream at a kilometer every ten
fan were spun up, this blade would shatter and every bit would help. I tossed the surplus stuff seconds, and it was our only ride. If we missed
shower the rest of the propeller assembly with out the door, grabbed the tools, and headed it, there wouldn’t be another chance for for-
high-speed fragments. I briefly reported what back to the portside fan. ty-eight hours, till the Alpha platform came
I’d found, trying to keep my voice even.
around again. The engineers were sure Virgil
Moving rocks had been a bad job. Trying
Everyone took the news a lot better than could not last that long. Carlos Ruzhany, the
to remove an aerofan blade with a collection
I expected. “Which blade is it?” asked an skipper of Delta, was driving his ship at full
of miscellaneous hand tools, not all of which
engineer from the Aphrodite. (I recognized the throttle against the wind, but that would only
were working properly under the conditions,
voice, but could not recall her name.) add a couple of hours to our timeline.
was a nightmare. The variable-pitch widget
“Number two,” I said, glancing at the hub that held the blade to the hub was pretty well Practice helped, and I did move the rock
to be sure. secured—it had to be, to take the revs of the a lot more efficiently this time around. The
fan at high speed. broken pieces from the other fan made dandy
“Well, of course we’ll have to remove it,” crowbars. As we expected, there were bad
Katya said. On the other hand, I knew the lift system as propeller blades on the starboard fan too. Both
well as anyone in the solar system. I had helped blades eleven and three had to come off—but
“And you’ll need to take out number eight to design it, and could probably have drawn a the good news was that we could restore
as well,” the engineer said. “Otherwise the fair diagram of the innards of the motor from balance by removing only one additional blade,
turbine will be unbalanced.” memory. These blades were designed to be number seven. I cast a worried eye on blade
replaced in a maintenance bay on one of the
“Oh.” It seemed that this contingency had number twelve, which had sustained some
dirigible platforms. The trick was adapting the
been discussed. “How am I supposed to take superficial scratches. If there were cracks in it
procedure to “field conditions” including an
the blades off? I don’t have any tools.” that I could not see, it would probably fail cata-
ambient temperature in the low five hundreds. strophically in flight. If we removed too many
Metals and ceramics expand with temperature,
“Relax, Jack,” Katya said. “The airlock is blades, we’d never get off the ground. I might

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 18

exchange it for the undamaged blade from readings and I’ll suggest some adjustments get at. I picked up a screwdriver, but it slipped
the portside fan, but replacing a blade would that might help.” We spent a minute or two on from my fingers. Oh, it had been the wrong
take far longer than removing one. I reported that, and then I went back to work, unscrewing driver anyway. I got the right one and went to
number twelve as “good to go.” the bushing on the number three blade like a work.
A warning light in the edge of my helmet “Jack, they’re telling us we need to be going
display began to flash between yellow and red, # now.” Katya said. “No margin left. How much
so I stopped working for a second to check it longer?”
out. “Arkasha,” I called, “I’ve got a thermal max The yellow flashing stopped presently and “Not long.” Sweat was in my eyes, or else
warning in my suit.” was replaced by a steady red warning light. The my face plate was fogging, but I knew this job
Dr. Martinez himself came on the line. approach of heatstroke at ninety atmospheres well enough by now that I didn’t need to use my
“Jack, you’ve been working pretty hard. You was not altogether unpleasant—rather like eyes. “One screw out,” I told Katya. Jesus, I was
passed the four hour mark some time ago.” spending too long in a really hot bath. If it hot. My body temperature had been elevated
weren’t for the frantic pace of my work on the for a while, another little yellow warning light
Four hours was the recommended maximum propeller, it might even have been relaxing. I in the periphery of my vision. Actually, there
stay at high temperature in a hotsuit. There was felt sleepy and weak. was a whole constellation of yellow and red
a safety margin built in, but I was coming to the over there in the biomedical corner.
edge of the margin as well. The problem was The first two starboard blades were off.
thermal, as usual. In the middle of this inferno, Now I was working on number seven, the “Got it!” I shouted. The last screw came
the hotsuit had no place to dump the waste “good” one. It was easier than the others, but I and the blade slipped out of its socket. I helped
heat I generated by working. So it did what felt myself slowing down even as I watched the it out and pushed it away from the fan. It fell
Virgil did, storing the waste heat in an ultra- seconds tick away. I fumbled with my wrench oddly in the dense air.
high capacity heat sink in the life support pack. and tried to recall which way to turn it to loosen
But that small heat sink was limited, and I was the nut. “Head for the airlock,” Katya said.
approaching its limit. The harder I worked, the Katya was watching my work over Virgil’s “Just a second.” I scraped the last few tools
worse it would get. cameras, talking me through it over our private and fragments from the blades and stumbled
“I could plug the heat exchanger into Virgil’s channel. “Almost there, Jack. Just disconnect back around the nose of Virgil to the airlock on
system,” I said. “That would help.” the pitch actuator cable next.” the portside. I’d had the good sense to leave
the door open.
“Yes it would,” said Dr. Martinez. “But I’ll “Hot,” I said, yanking the cable awkwardly
tell you, boy, I don’t think you have the time. out of its socket. Even as I reached the door, Katya had started
You need to be nose up in less than thirty the big blades turning. The current from the
“I know it’s hot. Just finish that one and you propwash—you could not really call it a wind in
minutes.” can come inside. We’ll get out of here. Okay?” air this thick—sprayed gravel on me. I heaved
I looked up at the starboard fan. The first myself into the airlock and pulled the door
That was okay with me. I concentrated
blade was about half done, with two more to inward. My hands remembered how to work
on removing the actuator assembly for the
go. Oh crap. “I get the picture,” I said. “What the latch mechanism. The whine of the motors
number seven blade. Once done, I could see
can I expect?” got louder and changed pitch, and I felt Virgil
underneath, where the blade was actually move. It tilted to one side, and I fell against a
“Uncharted territory. Give me some attached to the hub. Two more screws, hard to locker. “Sorry!” Katya shouted. A shudder, a

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
The Pasadena Rule, Chapters 9 and 10 by Ben Schumacher Pg. 19

rattle of small rocks sliding off the outer skin,
and suddenly we heaved up into the air. We
circled a moment, but then the nose pitched
upward and the prop sound changed again,
and we began to climb. It was all I could do
to plug my suit into the ship’s systems before I
passed out.

Ben Schumacher
I am a physicist who teaches at Kenyon
College in Gambier, Ohio. My major
research field is quantum information
theory, though I have also dabbled in
black hole physics and thermodynamics.
I’ve been a science fiction writer longer
than I’ve been a physicist, however,
having sold my first—and so far only—
story to Analog magazine at age 16.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Deuces Wild by L. S. King Pg. 20
Deuces Wild
by L. S. King

“H ow did you sleep?” Gran asked, pouring
coffee into a cup and sliding it across the
table to Tristan.
even realized it—crawled back into the bed
like a zombie.”
familiar, crooked grin easing the stiffness in
Tristan’s spine.
Slap snorted and dropped into a chair with “Got chores to tend,” Ewan said, “but I’m
“Sleep? With that thing snoring?” Tristan a grunt. Gran set coffee in front of him. certain Brìghde will insist on a visit before
jerked his head toward the bedroom door. they leave.” He and his son-in-law embraced,
“And wondering how he didn’t murder his The cowboy squinted at the plate of slapping each other on the back.
wife in his sleep with his thrashing...” Tristan towering pancakes in the center of the table.
shook his head and rubbed bleary eyes before “You done eating?” “Hello, Captain,” Carter said, his Adam’s
reaching for the steaming cup. apple bobbing. “I heard your ship might need
Tristan nodded, cup to his lips. an engineer.”
Gran chuckled and turned back to the wood With a satisfied sigh, Slap pulled the plate “Not his ship anymore,” Slap said as Ewan
stove. Tristan was pleased the old woman didn’t to him, and picked up the pitcher of syrup. climbed into the wagon. “I own it now. But he’s
chatter on or try to ask probing questions. She
seemed to understand he liked quiet and gave still captain and pilot. How ya doing, Carter?”
Tristan shook his head.
it to him. He stepped over to Carter and pumped his
Halfway through the stack, Tristan was dis- hand.
A second cup of coffee and two pancakes tracted from the amazing sight of Slap’s gor-
later, Slap stumbled into the kitchen, yawning. “The ownership issue is a technicality,
mandizing abilities by clopping sounds outside. Tristan interjected, “and you know it.”
He rose and went to investigate, Gran trailing
“Good morning,” Gran chirped. “How did him. Slap chuckled. “Yeah, since technically we
you sleep?”
stole it from the Mordas in the first place. But I
Slap’s father-in-law was astride the con-
Slap scratched his head, scowling at Tristan. still got a document saying I’m her owner.”
founded horse Slap had adopted, his son
“Well, I woulda slept a’right if that yahoo hadn’t following in a wagon with a passenger beside “Well, whoever is in charge now,” Carter
pulled the covers offa me and kicked me outta him. Of course—no modern equipment could said, “I need work.”
the bed twice.” be used in the valley; one couldn’t merely rent
“I was trying to wake you up to stop the a rover to travel out here. “Great. Come on in and we’ll talk over
snoring.” breakfast.”
“Brought a guest out, Son,” Ewan called.
“Ya coulda just shook me.” “And thought you might like to keep Príncipe Gran stuck her hands on her hips.
for a few days, until you leave.” “’Breakfast’ will have to wait until I cook up
“I could have set off an explosion and it more pancakes, you Scallywag.”
wouldn’t have awakened you.” Tristan sipped “Staying for coffee?” called Gran.
the hot coffee. “And it wasn’t twice I kicked “Sorry,” Slap said, hunching his shoulders.
Ewan shook his head as the tall, thin But the smile on his face belied the sincerity of
you out of the bed. It was five times. You never man alighted from the rustic conveyance, his his apology. He waved to the departing wagon,

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Deuces Wild by L. S. King Pg. 21

then slapped Carter on the shoulder as they all # to drop into your lap?”
walked back to the little house. “So what are
you doing here anyway?” Tristan carried the plates to the sink. Gran “No, actually. I’ve been waiting for replace-
batted at him when he offered to do the ments for some personal items I need. When
“The captain and I have kept in touch. He dishes. I was brought here, injured, everything I had
asked for my help in a recent matter.” was...rendered ineffective.”
“The hot water makes my old hands feel
“Oh?” Slap peered sideways at Tristan, who better. You go on and visit. I’m certain I’ll have “Ah.” Carter nodded. “Your vest’s toys… I
glared as an answer. chores for you later.” heard about the strange effect this valley has
on electronic equipment. I’d love to learn more
“Yeah. And when the job I had fell through, “I’m certain you will too.” Unable to keep about that.”
I thought, well, it can’t hurt to at least visit, and from smiling at her, Tristan left her humming
maybe sign on if he needs me.” at the sink and wandered outside. His eyes on Slap’s antics with the horse,
Tristan replied, “I’m sure you could, if we have
Carter had sidestepped right around Slap’s Slap was racing the stallion around the the time, but since you’re here, you can see to
tacit query. Nice work. property, and Carter sat on a bench in the any work needed on Giselle.”
“Well, I think it’s a swell idea. Don’t you, shade by the by the house, watching. Tristan
joined the engineer with a nod. “Glad to. I’m surprised you’re staying here
Tristan?” though and not on the ship. This is so out of
“He seems to be much better than right the way, and hard to get to.”
Whatever happened to being blessedly
alone? Tristan silently mourned as he reseated after Eridani. Is he all right now?”
“Precisely. The people have a mistaken idea
himself at the table. But he had found himself Tristan stared hard at the cowboy. “He’s... I’m some kind of hero. I’ve had three requests
surprisingly pleased about Slap wanting to healing. I don’t know what they did to him, but to go to the city to help with discussions on the
come with him on Giselle. Carter’s specialties it left deep wounds on his soul. Whatever his government they’re trying to set up.”
might come in handy too. Tristan downed his alien friends did to help him, it got him past
now-cool coffee before answering. “Sounds the worst of it, I think.” Chuckling, Carter leaned back and stretched
good.” out his legs. “I see. So...are you heading to the
Carter fell silent for a time, then asked, city soon?”
The lines in Carter’s face relaxed a bit as “How soon are you leaving?”
he sat. “I’m glad to hear that. It’s...hard to find Tristan nodded. “This afternoon.”
work—good work—when you...don’t have a “I’m not sure. We have several orders for
background or résumé to your name.” cargo from the Separatists, but legitimate “You, young man,” Gran’s voice called from
runs don’t net the kind of money black market the doorway.
Slap caught Tristan’s eye with a knowing does.”
look. Of the three of them, the only one with a Carter twisted around. “Me, ma’am?”
legitimate history was the cowboy. “Well, considering there’s no Mordas and “You two can be useful while you visit. Come
no government yet, there is no black market at get these buckets and get busy shelling.”
“Well,” Slap drawled, “I don’t see that as a the moment, is there?”
worry with us, huh, Tristan?” “Shelling?” Carter rose and walked over,
Tristan snorted. “Nothing I’d touch.” staring into the buckets.
Refusing to be baited, Tristan merely
inclined his head. “So you’re waiting for more lucrative deals

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Deuces Wild by L. S. King Pg. 22

“Don’t dawdle. Take them over, and you you stocked the galley?” “Push. Fight. You have the drive and will.”
two get busy, or you won’t have peas for supper
tonight.” “Stuff’s been ordered, and should be “Not against all of them.” Her shoulders
delivered in three days. You still planning on drooped slightly. “And with many of the
The engineer complied, and both men leaving then?” wealthy leaving the planet, it isn’t as lucrative
stared at the long, slender green pods in the as it was, either.”
buckets. “Yes.” Tristan opened a new file on the
e-pad and began making a list. “Here are some Tristan shrugged. “You might look into a
“Peas?” Carter murmured. items to add.” He finished and handed the pad different career.”
back to the cowboy.
“Oh, landsakes!” Gran set a pot on the Her lips thinned. “You would say that.
ground in front of them. She picked up a pod Slap read it and grinned. “You gonna be Perhaps you’d like that—want that to happen.
and deftly split it open, then thumbed the peas cooking, too, huh?” Perhaps you’d rather I not work in this business,
into the pot. “There. Don’t tell me you spacer and this might make me run to you, be your...
types can’t figure out how to shell peas.” Tristan didn’t deign to answer. He strode what? Little wife? Clinging to you like a helpless
toward the bridge, but from down the hall damsel?”
With a laugh, Gran went back into the Carter’s voice called, “Captain? Someone here
house. to see you.” Tristan rose, glaring. “You talk of a wife as a
diminutive thing instead of a partner, someone
# Tristan spun and headed for the side hatch. strong enough to stand shoulder to shoulder
Carter’s huge eyes were glued to the visitor, with her husband.” He stopped, looking away
and no wonder. Tanya looked as alluring as and grinding his teeth to keep from saying too
Tristan viewed the captain’s cabin with a ever, and distracting as ever. much. Never since his youth had he been so
sense of homecoming, especially since he had
replaced most of his library. close to opening his heart. She had no idea
“We need to talk,” she said without the affect she had on him. Did she think it
“Y’know,” said Slap’s voice from behind him, was merely her body that attracted him? Her
“the best cabin should belong to the owner.” With a wave of his arm, Tristan indicated mind, her drive—what a team they could have
the door to the rec lounge. Her straight back made! But she had made her choice. And he
“It’s called ‘the captain’s cabin,’” retorted had made his.
and solid stride as she walked ahead of him put
Tristan. him on guard. When he looked over, she wore a stunned
Chortling, Slap held out an e-pad. “We have expression.
He sat in one of the cushioned chairs on
two cargoes heading out, and three to pick up the side and looked up in anticipation.
and bring back.” He swallowed, trying to get control. Finally,
Her eyes flashed as she stood before him. he said, “Don’t presume about me. You made
“Turning me into a legitimate business- it clear I was merely an ‘interest’ as long as I
It was cliché but true—she was gorgeous when
man?” stayed tied to this planet. I’m not. Now excuse
angry. And it made the ache inside spread.
me,” he pushed past her, “but I have business
“I’m sure you’ll find side stuff for yourself. “They want to disband the guild and make to conduct.”
But I do appreciate your helping my people my profession illegal. I warned you this would
and the Guilds and Merchants.” She whirled, grabbing his arm. “You have
business with me!”
Tristan sniffed, reading the contents. “Have

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Deuces Wild by L. S. King Pg. 23

With a quick snatch, he replaced her grip to see a short, spare man standing in the galley What would Tristan say? A vision of his friend’s
with his own on her wrist. He held her arm doorway with the engineer. reaction made a smile tug at Slap’s mouth,
between them, meeting her eyes evenly. and he found himself replying, “Mr. Lejeune, it
“Focus your will on what you want, and you “Well, you found him.” Slap grinned and would be a pleasure.”
can attain it. But don’t come to me to be your held out his hand.
Prince Charming and rescue you. You don’t #
“I deal in gems and jewelry, Mr. McCarty.”
play the damsel convincingly.” Lejeune said, shaking Slap’s hand. “You might
think my business was lucrative with the large “Do you have the galley stocked now?”
He released her and waited. She regarded
him warily, eyes narrowed. “It was a mistake to population of wealthy people, but the Mordas’ “Sure do.” Slap grinned across the galley
ask you for help.” cut went deep into my pockets as well. I am at Tristan and nodded at the volume tucked
now looking to expand my market. And I have a under his friend’s arm. “What’s that?”
“I hope that was rhetorical.” salesperson I wish to entrust with this task.”
“A book.”
Her nostrils flaring, she swept out of the Lejeune hesitated. “She is my youngest
lounge. daughter, Adamant. She is a good person, “I know that,” Slap said, rolling his eyes.
Mr. McCarty, but without a mother, she has “What’s in it?”
He waited, heart thudding, then strode become headstrong, and I...I have not been
out—out of the room, out of the ship. Damn good in giving her direction.” “Poetry.” Tristan tipped his head. “I don’t
her for making him dream. Damn himself for suppose you have any interest in poetry.”
letting himself dream. The fresh air hit him, Slap’s stomach told him something was
and he closed his eyes for a second. Business. coming, and he might want to duck. But he “Sure I do.” Slap straightened and began,
Yes. He had some personal items to collect. owned a ship now and had to do business, “There once was a man from Nantucket—”
didn’t he? He waited while Lejeune shifted his
# weight from foot to foot. Tristan sighed—making Slap grin—but
before he could leave in a huff, Slap said, “We
“I thought this job might instill some have a passenger.”
Today is the day, Slap thought, setting the responsibility in her. And...some sense. If you’re
meats in cold storage. I’m leaving the planet Tristan stopped, staring at Slap. “We’re not
willing to take on my daughter as a passenger,
again. The going-away party with Gran and his a passenger ship.”
to be my salesperson, I would greatly appreci-
family had been mostly happy. Aylish hadn’t ate it.”
made any scenes, but still looked moon-eyed. “She’s a salesperson for a jeweler. She’s
Brìghde had cried. “Well,”—Slap scratched his head—”I don’t unpacking in her cabin now.”
see why not...”
He shut the door and glanced at the rest of Tristan seemed to consider the prospect.
the food littering the counter. They’d eat well, “The thing is,” Lejeune said, “you’ve already “I suppose that’s acceptable. But you know I
anyway. met her.” He held his hand out to the door don’t like—”
and the curly-headed Addie stepped around,
“Hey, Slap, we have a visitor,” Carter called, Addie bobbed up at the doorway beside
wiping his hands. “Mr. Lejeune wanted to talk Tristan. “I don’t either.”
to the owner.” Slap let his weight settle onto one leg and “You!” The look on Tristan’s face was worth
crossed his arms. The wildcat as a passenger?
Slap dumped onions in their bin and turned it all. Slap bit his lip to keep from laughing.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
Deuces Wild by L. S. King Pg. 24

Their mutual glares seemed about to set off Giselle is ready to go.” L. S. King
a fire. Tristan turned to Slap, hooking a thumb
at the girl. “She’s the salesperson?” “He’s in engineering, where else?” Slap L.S. began martial arts training over thirty
replied. “I asked him how ol’ Bertha was years ago, and owned a karate school for
“Adamant Lejeune,” Addie said, lifting her earlier. He started rambling about secondary
chin. “Sales rep for Lejeune Jewelers.” something-or-others and other stuff I can’t a decade. When on the planet, she lives
make heads or tails of, but finally said she was in Delaware with her husband, Steve, and
“Lejeune?” Tristan’s eyebrows rose. fine to fly.”
“French?” their youngest child. She enjoys garden­
“Good.” ing, soap making, reading, and all things
Tristan climbed the ramp, Slap following, Myst. She also likes Looney Tunes, the
The smidge of interest on Tristan’s face but a voice behind him said, “Excuse me. Are color purple, and is a Zorro aficionado,
vanished, and he turned away from her, you the captain?” which might explain her love for swords
shooting Slap a black look. “You approved this,
without asking me?” Turning, Tristan saw a port supervisor at the and cloaks.
edge of the dock-pad, carrying a clipboard.
“Well, I am the owner.”
“I am.” Like Londo Mollari, she wants to know
The dark man spun and left, muttering if the Hokey Pokey is really what it’s all
under his breath. “I have a list of port fees due for this ship.
They have to be paid before you can leave.” about.
Addie stared after him. “Not very friendly,
is he?” “Let me see them.” Tristan held out his
hand. Looking over the fees, he saw many were
“Well, he don’t cotton to being shot at, I’d new ones—the power vacuum was sucking
reckon.” everyone’s greed, it seemed. He handed
the clipboard to Slap. “This is the owner’s
“I said I was sorry.” She crossed her arms. headache.”
“Besides, he started it, wanting to space me,
then stranding me on that planet.” Leaving the cowboy stuttering, he entered
the ship with a smile.
Slap busied himself putting away the rest
of the produce. “Best make sure you’re settled
in; we should be taking off soon.”
After Addie left, Slap let himself laugh out

# To catch up on previous episodes of
the adventures of Slap and Tristan, visit:
“Where’s Carter?” Tristan asked, looking up
at the old ship. She’d been through so much, Deuces Wild is dedicated to the memory of
and despite the refit looked her age, a century- my best friend; my inspiration for an enduring
old Canary-class freighter. “I need to know if friendship...
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008
 Pg. 25
The RGR Time Capsule
December 15 - December 30, 2007
Sci-Fi news from the Ray Gun Revival forums
RGR Date: December 19, 2007 8. Crysis (PC) on their shelves.
Disappearing car doors! 7. Call of Duty 4 (PC, 360, PS3) Rowling said: “This is really where I turned
my life around completely. My life really
6. Mass Effect (360) changed in this flat.”
5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
RGR Date: December 18, 2007 RGR Date: December 23, 2007
Peter Jackson to film The Hobbit after all 4. The Orange Box (PC, 360, PS3) Battlestar Galactica Propaganda Posters
gsemones wrote: 3. BioShock (PC, 360)
There are a full set of five of these delightful works:
Here’s what I think will happen. The first 2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
movie will be The Hobbit. The second movie 1. Rock Band (360, PS3, PS2) BSGPropaganda.html
will be a bridge movie between the end of
The Hobbit, and the beginning of the Lord of
the Rings. That’s the rumor I heard long ago RGR Date: December 24, 2007
anyway. J K Rowling Goes Home
Tolkien left time lines of the between years, Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has made
and though not a lot happens from the Shire a tearful return to the flat where she first
standpoint, a lot happens with Aragorn dreamed up the boy wizard.
(childhood, loss of his Father, moving to
Rivendale, etc.) Now the most successful novelist in his-
tory, Rowling was a struggling single mother
Look between the years 2890 and 3017 in when she began writing her first book Harry
the Third Age: Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. _ An ITV1 show took her back to the flat in
arda Leith, Edinburgh, where she lived at the time.
RGR Date: December 17, 2007 Visiting the small flat for the first time since
Wired’s Top Ten Games of 2007
she moved out a decade ago, Rowling wiped
away tears.
10. Crackdown (Xbox 360)
She was thrilled to find that the new occu-
9. Desktop Tower Defense (Flash) pants had copies of the Harry Potter books

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 37, January 01, 2008

Related Interests