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Issue 41 March 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 5 Alien Cafe
Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening
ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee by Russell J. Fellows
Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand 8 Calamity’s Child
L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse,
webmistress
Chapter Two: Potlatch
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle by M. Keaton
washer 18 Featured Artist: Paul Davey
21 JASPER SQUAD
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors):
Scott M. Sandridge Episode 09: Strange Horizon!
John M. Whalen
David Wilhelms by Paul Christian Glenn
Shari L. Armstrong
Jack Willard
30 Deuces Wild, Season Two
Chapter 3: Fractured Facets, Part Two
Serial Authors:
Sean T. M. Stiennon by L. S. King
John M. Whalen
Ben Schumacher 36 The RGR Time Capsule
Lee S. King
Paul Christian Glenn
February 15 - February 29, 2008
Johne Cook

Cover Art: “We Can’t Win” by Paul Davey

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Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008 
Pg. 3

Overlords’ Lair

Itheabout
debated writing something pithy this month new gig are variable and unique compared to back like water off a duck, and I became quickly
March coming in like a lion, but with all what I was used to.
snow and frigid temperatures we’ve gotten
impressed with her can-do attitude and good
humor.
in these parts, I just didn’t have the heart to Along the way, I’ve discovered blessings I didn’t
see the metaphor through. expect. My contacts at the new job are beyond It is one thing to talk about changing paradigms,
excellent, the new co-workers are colorful corporately, but when it comes to switching
Instead, I’ll write a tad about uncertainty, and professional and come from all over the up everything in my career routine, well, new
dynamic change, and conflict. place. Many are from India, but apart from decisions come at you pretty fast. I learned
the regional flavors that color their English, this week that a change to my routine affects
To me, that’s what March is all about. Will the they are uniformly interesting and fun to be those around me, as well. In my own life, with
month start off full of fierce weather events around. They are knowledgeable and giving in everything up in the air, and my ability to
and then calm down to gentle rain showers their work, and they, the ‘aliens’ from another keep in touch with friends suddenly altered, I
as spring thaws Winter’s icy grip? No one country, uniformly bent over backward to make discovered quickly how much I value my own
knows, but the dynamic weather patterns that me, a ‘local’ feel welcome. support structure. My spouse stepped up to
typify the month hold my attention as I wait the plate and changed her work schedule to
out winter’s death throes and hope that I can There was a working potluck luncheon on help make sure my teenage son gets to school,
bask again in sunshine and temperate breezes Wednesday and I got to sample various dishes my friends put up with more limited access than
before the onset of cabin fever. I’d never heard of. There was this dish with a they are perhaps used to, and yet they remain
dirty rice and chicken that was out of this world, willing to take my calls and e-mails when I can
Uncertainty, dynamic change, and conflict have and a cold salad of corn and colored beans communicate.
been the theme in my own life this month. As and an amazing sauce . I don’t know what the
a contract technical writer for my day job, I seasonings were for any of it, but they were I feel a little guilty for how uncertainty, dynamic
finished one long-term writing gig on February entirely new tastes to my jaded palate, and I change, and conflict affect those around me.
29th, and moved immediately into a new one enjoyed the variety. At the same time, I appreciate how true my
on March 3rd. My commute nearly tripled in family and friends are despite the upheaval
the process. I was amused at how much that My contact at the new company was a wonder. of the routine in my life. I realized anew this
changed some things, and how little it changed She juggled getting me up and running while week that I simply am not worthy. The dirty
others. Before agreeing to take the position, I maintaining her own full slate of meetings, little secret is that they’ve always known that,
determined in my head and heart to maintain all the while knowing that she has a vacation and they love me anyway. Bringing this back to
a positive mental attitude about the drive. So coming up overseas for two weeks. But despite the matter at hand, Issue 41 is for all of you. I
far, so good. a bursting schedule and equipment that didn’t think you’ll like it.
want to cooperate, she handled all the conflict
All of my weekly habit patterns changed literally with dry humor and effortless determination.
overnight. I go to bed a little earlier, get up Some would complain. The stress rolled off her
much earlier, and my daytime routines at the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008 
Pg. 4

First up is a fast, fun story, Alien Cafe, by “Got it! One shot!” from facile to probably fatal as far as Addie
Russell J. Fellows. Russell is editor-in-chief goes. If the Confeds want us, they won’t
of Perpetual Magazine, but he’s also a writer, Pharaoh yanked the tourist to his feet, gun release her in any event. So we have to
and we’re delighted to show off what he can and all. Spinning him, the guide pushed strike boldly. We will all be in danger either
do with his first story in RGR. him down the hillside. “Jeep! Now!” he way.” He bored into Carter’s eyes. “Unless
commanded. we just cut our losses and leave.”
My name’s Ralph, and I run the Alien Café
off station Beta Nine. I know, not very I’ve thought for years now that Paul Christian Slap’s mouth dropped open. “Cut losses?
creative, but when you’re the only place Glenn would give us the next great novel in the Cut losses? How can you mean that? You’re
to grab a bite between Earth and Alpha tradition of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. The next talking about just leaving her here to be
Centauri, people don’t care about creative. installment of his serial novel, JASPER SQUAD, murdered?”
Strange Horizons!, confirms Paul’s eye and
Running a diner that caters mainly to ear for great space opera. This is his breakout Ah, that’s really good stuff.
freight runners, you get used to seeing chapter.
a lot of different things, and not much If these last couple of weeks have taught
surprises me any more. Having a dozen or She stood frozen for a moment, then me anything, it is that uncertainty, dynamic
so atomizing rifles pointed at me is getting relaxed and slowly holstered her weapon. change, and conflict don’t have to be bad.
annoying, though. Especially when these “Don’t play games with me, Stamp.” They can bring about growth in your own life
things always seem to happen during the if you believe in yourself, if you have devoted
lunch rush. He grinned in the darkness. “I wouldn’t friends, if you determine to make the best of it
dare.” with your will.
Sometimes, the best things take the longest Captain Spill’s voice rang out from the edge
to germinate. This issue of Ray Gun Revival I appreciate your forbearance, gentle reader,
magazine continues a serial novel whose first of the garden. “You two,” he called, “what’s and your faith and continued belief in Ray
part appeared as a classic RGR short story all the going on?” Gun Revival magazine as we continue to press
way back in RGR Issue 08. You may remember Stamp turned to see the captain’s shape forward. Hang in there—spring is coming.
author M Keaton and his story Subject Real. in the moonlight, his shooter drawn and
We are proud to publish the continuation of Johne Cook
aimed at Stamp’s head. Overlord, RGR
his serial novel Calamity’s Child with the first
part of Chapter Two, Potlatch. L. S. King’s Deuces Wild continues with Breezeway, Wisconsin
Fractured Facets, Part Two. She’s got another
“Track east along the horizon from where strong chapter, here. I know how hard she March, 2008
you are now,” Ivan replied. worked to whip this chapter into shape, but
“Ahh, there…the dinosaurs. Yes, I see them you won’t be able to tell from the prose. It’s
both.” smooth, and flows, from an apparent effortless
hand. I guess that’s how these things go.
“Both?” Ivan started to ask as the thunder
of Groten’s rifle slapped his eardrums. In Carter eyed him warily. “What do you have
the distance, one of the waving necks in mind, Captain?”
jerked, collapsing like a snipped string. He continued slowly. “Things have gone

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Alien Cafe by Russell J. Fellows Pg. 5

Alien Cafe
by Russell J. Fellows

M y name’s Ralph, and I run the Alien Café
off station Beta Nine. I know, not very
creative, but when you’re the only place to
the Natarri people. I can’t wait to get it to the
museum.”
know plain enough he didn’t like pot shots at
his name.

grab a bite between Earth and Alpha Centauri, Really, it just looked like a black cube to “Sure, sure. Look, I know you want your...
people don’t care about creative. me, but I loved watching her get so excited whatever it is you’re looking for, but as you
over things. It’s hard to find anyone with her can see, I’m very busy trying to run a business
Running a diner that caters mainly to kind of passion and excitement anymore, not here.” I tried to point his attention to the dozen
freight runners, you get used to seeing a lot of in a place like this. Freighters are usually just or so pairs of eyes fixed on him and his men.
different things, and not much surprises me occupied with surviving their runs.
any more. Having a dozen or so atomizing rifles By the stark look on his face, I think it
pointed at me is getting annoying, though. Even other treasure hunters have started worked. For a brief second, it looked like he
Especially when these things always seem to to let the bureaucracy of the Alliance get to was going to change his mind and leave…only
happen during the lunch rush. them. Not May, though; she is still as vibrant a brief second.
as the day I met her. It was infectious, so I let
Pirates barged in about ten minutes ago, her bring by whatever new artifact she found Crack! His fist hit my face so hard that I
demanding their black box. It’s always someone for me to look at. bounced off the counter behind me. I stood
demanding something, and they always want back up and wiped the blood off the corner of
it immediately. No one ever seems to just want You’d think I would have learned my lesson my mouth.
to sit and talk anymore. after the fiasco with the Disconti Imperial
guard. And, of course, next it was pirates…with “You know, I’ve met some dumb pirates
Of course, I knew exactly what they were their minds set on extracting their little black before, but you are first class,” I gritted my
after, and who had it, but I wasn’t about to tell box from my hide. The fact that it wouldn’t teeth, and then stopped. My jaw still hurt
them. Not because I felt great joy in keeping get them anywhere to destroy my place, or too much to do that. “You are on Federation
things from murderous pirates bent on ripping skin me alive, made little difference to them. territory, and you assaulted a Federation
my diner apart, but because I’m quite fond of They’d simply chalk it up to practice for the citizen.” I clenched my jaw and winced at the
the pretty face in possession of said artifact. real perpetrator. pain.

May fancies herself an archaeologist of “So tell me, where is it?” the tall one asked “Check the treasure hunter.” At the end
sorts. Really, she’s a treasure hunter, but me. I think his name was Domo, or Donna, not of the bar, with a mouth full of hamburger
I let her think what she wants. She came in that it mattered. I found it better to let people and spite, sat Sasha. I call her Sasha for two
yesterday, grinning ear to ear, holding tight to have their hissy fits without interrupting them reasons: one, because I can’t pronounce her
her little knapsack that never parts from her because it usually makes them happier. real name, and two, it really irritates her.
side.
And happy people don’t kill you. She was still bitter toward May and I about
“Isn’t it something?” she said. “This is getting her disavowed, or whatever it is they
probably the most important piece I’ve found, “Look, Drackie, was it?” do when they kick you off the Disconti Imperial
ever! I mean, this will tell us so much about Guard. Only reason she still comes in the place
“Drakor.” The low guttural growl let me

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Alien Cafe by Russell J. Fellows Pg. 6

is for the burgers. She can’t get enough of them, “Yes, we will leave, but we’re taking the “You laugh? The Alliance must not impede
so she keeps telling me. She also makes a point treasure hunter with us.” Bobby and the other the justice of any race. Our law calls for her
of telling me it’s the only reason she hasn’t grabbed May by the arms. death!”
killed me yet, since mine’s the only place she
can get them without actually having to set “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not so fast, Tex.” “Your law? You’re a pirate, and as such, you
foot on Earth. are not recognized by the Alliance. So, unless
“My name is Drakor!” you really feel like dying today, put down your
Drakor smiled his toothy grin, reminding weapons and walk away.” My pulse was quick,
“Yeah, I caught that. You’re not going
me of why his people were called the Snaggle- anywhere and I was getting anxious. If there was one
teeth, although not to their faces. He nodded so let’s notwith her. You’ve got what you want, thing a pirate was never afraid of, it was dying
make this complicated.”
toward a couple of his minions, and they for what they believed in.
walked toward May. Drakor roared, and the atomizing rifles “I am not afraid to die!”
went back up, all trained on me.
“Hey, wait a minute! She says ‘treasure
hunter,’ and you automatically assume me? I’m “I already said that.”
The room rustled, and I was pleased to see
an archaeologist, thank you very much!” May that just about every freighter in the room was “What?”
clutched her knapsack tighter, pulling away standing with their blasters pulled and ready
from them. to fry the pirates. “Never mind. Look, you might not be afraid
to die, but how will you get your little black
One growled in response, and she handed “Look, Drakor, as much as I would like to box back to the princess if you’re dead?” That
it over, muttering under her breath. see the tiny one’s frozen body floating in deep made him stop and think. “All right? If she sent
“Bobby,” Drakor held out his hand, and the space, I’m afraid I can’t let you be the one to you all the way out here to find it, she must
do it.” I don’t know who was more shocked, want it really bad—whatever it is.”
pirate tossed him the knapsack. Drakor or me, when Sasha actually spoke up in
I know, it took me by surprise, too—a defense of May, albeit a very morbid defense, “None of your business.”
Natarri pirate named Bobby...but I digress. but that’s big coming from her.
“Okay. Still, she wants it. You need to get
Drakor opened the bag, and I could see “Listen, wench, I thank you for your help it to her, and you can’t do that if you’re fried.
relief wash over his face. I dare say, even a before, and for that I won’t kill you where you Understand.”
smile. “It’s here.” sit. I advise you to stay out of this.” Drakor
sounded tough and intimidating, up until Sasha It took him an uncomfortable amount
“Told you that filthy treasure hunter would decided to stand, and her eight feet of pure- of time to think it over, but it finally sank in.
have it. Can’t keep her hands off of anything muscled Disconti body brought actual fear to He looked to his men and nodded, and they
that doesn’t belong to her.” Sasha muttered, his eyes. lowered their guns. One by one, they backed
and was still blabbing, but it’s hard to under- out of the diner, freighters’ blasters still pointed
stand anyone who insists on talking with half a He stuttered for a moment, before finding at them.
cow hanging out of her mouth. his confidence again.
Drakor didn’t look happy, as he was the
“Okay, so you’ve got what you came for, now “This is against the Alliance!” Drakor last to leave. He kept his eye on me, until he
you’ll be leaving, right?” Not trusting Bobby stomped his foot, and I would have laughed reached the door, then he turned to look at
and his partner, I kept my eyes on May.. . if it were a different situation. Oh, who am I May. “This is not over, treasure hunter! You
kidding, I let out a small chuckle. will answer to our justice, one day!”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Alien Cafe by Russell J. Fellows Pg. 7

He left, and everyone relaxed. They Russell J. Fellows
returned to their seats, and I could feel the col-
lective sigh of relief as it swept over the place. Russell J. Fellows is editor-in-chief of Perpet-
ual Magazine, and a writer with stories fea-
And then I heard the laughter. tured in Bohemian-Alien.
I turned to see Sasha laughing so hard she
almost choked on her burger.
“Glad to see you enjoying yourself, Sasha.”
“How could I not? It’s so nice to find
someone else who hates the two of you as
much as I do. Can I have another of your Earth
fizzy syrup drinks?”
“Even so, thank you for defending May; I
know that must have been hard.”
“I did not do it to defend her, but to keep
them from stealing what will be my glory one
day.”
I turned toward the soda fountain, and
quickly glanced at May. She stood, and had her
eyes fixed on Sasha.
I remember thinking, as I went to pour
Sasha her drink, that May wouldn’t be foolish
enough to do anything. I knew she was rash
and all, but not crazy… I’ve come to realize I’m
not that great at judging people.
Crack!
Bam!
“Aaaaa!”
And here I was worried about pirates.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 8
Calamity’s Child
Chapter Two: Potlatch
by M. Keaton

Part One in the heat and his charcoal skin glistened with gun and all. Spinning him, the guide pushed
sweat. Ivan passed him the pistol and pointed. him down the hillside. “Jeep! Now!” he
I van resisted the urge to slap at the insect
biting the back of his neck and spoke into his
radio. “I’ve got one spotted. Go ahead and bring
The seven-foot-tall giant’s hand engulfed the
slug thrower and he raised it to his eye. “There,
Herr Groten,” Pharaoh said, his voice a smooth,
commanded.
“I’ve got suppression,” Ivan called, shifting
Herr Bwana up.” He shifted the belt anchoring deep roll like molasses flowing in a riverbed. his weight around the tree until he had a clear
his micro-howitzer to something resembling a “On the horizon.” field of fire into the valley below. Pharaoh was
more comfortable position, leaning his back half-dragging the confused, protesting Groten
against the bole of a nearby tree—assuming Where Pharaoh was at ease in the planet’s through the brush.
it was still considered a tree if it had red fur burgundy jungle, Groten was Earth to the
instead of bark on its trunk. hilt—old fashioned and old money. Despite Even over the ringing in his ears left by
the temperature, he wore the traditional safari the rifle shot, Ivan could hear the snapping of
In the shallow valley behind him, the engine outfit complete with a pith helmet covering his wood ahead of him. At this distance it sounded
of the lodge owner’s jeep grumbled, then thinning gray hair. The rifle he clutched against like branches, but Ivan knew better; it was
coughed to a stop. The chance of something as his chest was taller than he was and weighed tree trunks. The forest canopy across from his
small as a jeep spooking a langer was remote, easily over twenty pounds. With a grunt, position began to disappear in bursts—clusters
but not worth the risk. Langers were unpre- Groten lowered himself to the jungle floor, of destruction that quickly focused into a line
dictable at best. wrestling the inverted ‘V’ of the muzzle rest of defoliation headed straight toward him. He
into position, the gun’s considerable length released the safety on the micro-howitzer and
It would take awhile for Pharaoh to lead tried to square his hips with the bole of the
braced against his prone shoulder. “Where?”
the heavy-set German client up the slope on tree.
Groten asked, staring through the sight.
foot. Ivan let the tree support the bulk of his
weight and pulled his pistol, using its scope to “Track east along the horizon from where The langer breeched the treeline with a
scan the horizon. Aside from a decidedly russet you are now,” Ivan replied. claw almost twice the size of Pharaoh’s jeep,
hue, the sub-tropical jungle looked the same shattering tree trunks several feet above the
as a dozen other worlds Ivan had been on. The “Ahh, there…the dinosaurs. Yes, I see them soil, sending wood fragments spraying across
ground sloped away from him, clearing to a both.” the valley. The langer’s turquoise claws them-
band of brush and vines, then rose again into selves were chitinous and hinged,like a crab’s;
a heavily wooded hillock. Above the canopy, “Both?” Ivan started to ask as the thunder muscular stumps emerging from the front of
a pair of long necks stretched and dipped, of Groten’s rifle slapped his eardrums. In the the creature’s body functioned as shoulder,
tearing foliage from the upper branches like distance, one of the waving necks jerked, col- arm, and elbow, organic pistons that drove the
brachiosaurs of Old Earth feeding. lapsing like a snipped string. claws in an underhanded, scooping motion.
Pharaoh pushed through the light brush “Got it! One shot!” The claws were not the langer’s only
next to him. The man was stripped to the waist similarities to a crab—most of its body was
Pharaoh yanked the tourist to his feet,

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 9

sandwiched below a gleaming turquoise shell launcher hammered his pelvis against the tree gave up; the movement of the jeep made the
almost as tough as steel and above a layer of for agonizing seconds. Ivan clawed at the belt’s magnified view a hopeless blur. He tried to
chitin only slightly weaker. A wave of flexible buckle with vibration-numbed hands. It popped calm his breathing. Bringing the rifle nearly in
muscle fibers protruded though small gaps in open and he shrugged free of the shoulder line with the langer, he fired.
the lower chitin, then rewove to form a single harness, abandoning the launcher, running
rippling foot, moving the langer like a land- toward the squall of the horn, mindless of the The gun bucked, almost dislocating his
based cuttlefish. The only opening in the upper branches tearing at his skin and clothing. shoulder, and Ivan roared in pain. The langer
shell was jammed with the pulsing myoid rams was gaining, undulating its way straight through
that drove the claws. From one edge of the shell The open-top jeep waited at the base of the undergrowth, while the jeep was forced to
trailed the false neck and head shot by Groten, the incline and Ivan threw himself into the follow the crude paths cut through the brush.
its companion decoy invisible somewhere back. Pharaoh shouted something he could He forced his cheek back to the scope, fighting
inside. not hear and slammed the jeep in gear, the vertigo.
vehicle lurching into motion even as the langer
Ivan triggered the micro-howitzer, sending crept over the top of the hill. Groten was next He fired repeatedly, emptying the rifle
a trio of high-explosive canisters arching to Pharaoh, pointing behind them and yelling before the pain had time to register, fighting
toward the langer’s motion. They detonated orders. Ivan ignored him, pushing his arms to keep the muzzle in line. High-velocity slugs
like hammer blows on an anvil with fire and away and grabbing the rifle the big German mushroomed into the langer, several splashing
thunder, stripping away the last of the vegeta- still held. into the muscle mass at the front of the shell.
tion hiding the alien predator. By the time the last slug fired, Ivan was crying
Ivan twisted into a sitting position facing from the pain in his chest and shoulder.
At the first explosion, the building-sized disc the rear of the jeep, putting his feet against the
of the langer’s shell slewed sideways, the near back of the jeep and shoving, pushing himself The jeep slowed to a halt. Ivan struggled to
edge gouging up chunks of soil. A heartbeat as far forward as he could. Almost comically, get free of the vehicle before the langer hit it,
later, it was moving forward again, sideways he fought to brace the weight of the rifle with then realized that the predator had stopped.
this time and slower. the jeep’s frame and his feet. Pharaoh jerked The blackened blue shell lay on a pool of flaccid
the wheel and Ivan felt the vehicle rise up on muscle.
Ivan tripped off another series of canisters, two wheels, landing with bone jarring force.
slower this time. Nothing short of armor- “Dead!” Pharaoh shouted, swinging out
He lost his grip on the gun, the muzzle striking
piercing rounds could penetrate a langer’s of the jeep. The dark giant lifted the rifle off
him painfully on the shins, the bouncing of the
shell, and its curvature would deflect most of of Ivan. With slow deliberation, he reloaded
jeep trying to pitch it over the side. He clamped
those. He could not hurt it, but he could keep it it, sighted, and emptied another clip into the
his hands around it and shoved harder with his
down—for a while. The langer pulled its claws langer. “Now, definitely dead.”
feet, until he was lying almost flat on his back
close to the front of the shell and continued its with his knees up, the rifle resting the length Ivan rolled out of the jeep and let himself
slow progress, the bright blue-green of its shell of his body. fall to the ground. “Now kill Groten,” he gasped.
darkened and blistered black. Pharaoh tossed the gun into the back of the
“Steady! Hold it steady!” he shouted in a
A pair of gunshots and the sustained blare jeep and knelt, helping Ivan to his feet.
voice just short of a scream. The jeep bounced
of the jeep’s horn penetrated Ivan’s own noise and the rifle butt cracked against Ivan’s jaw. “You ruined my trophy!” Groten yelled
and the growing ringing in his ears. He clamped indignantly across the hood of the jeep. Ivan
down the trigger and emptied the rest of the He forced his cheek against the stock, shrugged free of Pharaoh’s grip, wincing, and
micro-howitzer’s load in a sustained burst. The squinting into the scope. A moment later he bore in angrily on their client.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 10

“You,” he shouted back, “almost got us ovich.” The German glared at the two other the helicopter, sprinting away from the packed
killed! Can’t you read?” men before sulking away. dirt that served as a landing pad.
“It’s burned and cracked…worthless! I did Ivan sighed and rubbed his forehead. Rather than see the lodge medic, Ivan
not pay you for this.” Groten gestured wildly “Thanks.” headed for his guest room. Probing gingerly
toward the langer carcass, striding toward it. and daubing away blood with a damp rag,
“Ruined.” Pharaoh shrugged. “The man is a fool. I he decided nothing was broken—just a lot
would not have asked you to help if he were of scratches and bruising. The skin from his
“Langer is short for land angler. You’d know easy. It is my fault—I should have known better chest up his neck to the side of his face was a
that if you’d read your tour briefing. Hell, it’s in than to let him talk me into trying a langer.” mass of green and black, and swelling quickly.
the contract that you will not shoot until one By tomorrow, he would probably have one
of us tells you it’s safe to shoot.” “Nobody’s fault.” eye swollen shut. His teeth felt loose, but the
“True. Nobody’s fault, except his, and he damage was cosmetic. After a shower and
Groten kicked the edge of the blasted shell.
pays me enough to make up for it. Go back to a change of clothes, he headed for the main
“Ruined. I came for a trophy shell and now it’s
the lodge, and let Martha pamper you. I will lodge building and its kitchen.
ruined. I’ll sue for this.”
take Herr Bwana around, let him shoot, as you “You,” ordered Pharaoh’s wife as Ivan
Ivan reached for his pistol, realized he’d say, some of the dumb cows of this planet.” slipped through the rear door, “get ice. Fill bag,
lost it, settled for his knife instead. “I ought to Pharaoh laughed at his own joke. “And do not wrap in towel.” The diminutive woman was a
take your head as a trophy! Land anglers wave worry, my brother, he paid in advance.” sharp contrast to her husband.
those two fake heads around to draw in prey.
And you fell for it like the dumbest cow on the “I think I’ll take you up on that,” Ivan said. Martha reminded Ivan of a hornet—small,
planet.” Groten flushed bright red and balled “You going to tell Groten that the burning on bright, and loud, buzzing constantly from place
his fists. Ivan spun, jamming his arm deep into the shell can be stripped and polished away?” to place, verbal stinger at the ready. Before
the bloody mass at the shell’s edge. Jerking out Pharaoh had, literally, stolen her away, she had
“Why? He did not kill it—so did not earn
the thick tendril that formed the false head and run the kitchens of a corporate mining enclave
it.”
neck, he shoved it at the German. “You want a at the edge of Hegemony space. Managing
trophy?” He slashed the muscle free with his Once the twin engines of fear and anger the staff and facilities of the hunting lodge
knife and threw the pulpy mass at Groten’s had spun down, Ivan was more than willing to was marginally smaller in scope, but she ruled
feet. “There’s your damn trophy! More than sink into the padded seat of the two-man heli- them with the same militant efficiency.
an idiot like you deserves.” copter. The oldest of Pharaoh’s two sons took
care of the driving. She moved to block Ivan’s path and
Groten surged toward Ivan, but was inspected him. “Soup. You go set. I make for
stopped abruptly as Pharaoh’s hand closed on “I know Pop calls you Crazy Ivan,” joked you soup.”
his shoulder, pulling him back. the younger man in a voice only slightly higher
in pitch than his father’s, “but I never figured “I’d rather—”
“Let us all settle down a bit now,” Pharaoh even you would try to wrestle a langer.”
said slowly. “Ivan, I think you’ll be needing to “Soup!” she interrupted. “Ten, maybe
go back to the lodge for the doctor anyhow. “I won, didn’t I?” he answered, leaning his fifteen minutes you be too swelled to chew.
Mister Groten, if you please, return to the seat back. Ivan was asleep before they cleared Take ice bag. Wait for soup.”
jeep and call the lodge on the radio. Ask them the canopy. He awoke when they landed,
to send out a flyer to pick up Mister Stepon- Ivan knew when he was outgunned and
thanked the pilot with a nod, and ducked out of

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 11

acquiesced, filling a bag with ice, wrapping it jurisdiction, Mister Graves. The Hegemony The ErSec agent’s face hardened. “In the
in a towel, and stepped into the dining room. ended a few billion miles back.” past two years, you have systematically sought
The lodge never had more than a half-dozen out, killed or arrested every one of Casey’s
guests at one time, and the room was designed “True,” Graves said, folding his arms across known cut-out men.”
accordingly—small and social, a pair of long his chest, “but we have ways of getting things
wooden tables and an untended bar. The done, even on the frontier. It seems to me “And two you probably didn’t know about.
room’s only other occupant leaned against the that you’ve cashed in your share of ErSec So?”
bar, drinking alone and not looking at anything bounties.”
“Looks to me like a pattern.”
in particular. Ivan took a seat on the other side Ivan grunted noncommittally. “I’m on
of the room, working the ice pack into place “Maybe.” Ivan shrugged. “Maybe Casey
vacation, helping out a friend. So why’re you
under his shirt so that the cloth held it in place just hangs around with a lot of bad people.
surprised I’m here?”
against his shoulder. You’re the people put the bounties on their
“I originally expected to find you with your heads—I just bring ‘em in.” He leaned back
“Hell of a way to make a living,” the other partner on the Orion.” from the table and waved for attention from
man said, loud enough to be heard across the the kitchen. “If you’d put a marker on Casey,
room but not shouting. Ivan ignored him. He “Don’t have a partner.” I’d bring him in.”
was a new arrival, after they had taken Groten
into the field. The man finished his drink in “Really? A rather large red Cillian with a “We’d like to, very much in fact, but there’s
silence, refilled it. One of the kitchen staff penchant for murder doesn’t ring a bell?” the small matter of evidence.”
brought Ivan a tray of food—soup, bread, a
second bowl of what appeared to be stew or Ivan sniffed the stew suspiciously, then Ivan snorted. “You’re trying to tell me you
very thick soup—and he began to eat, gingerly took a spoonful. “Spicy, but not too bad.” He can’t gin up enough evidence to get a convic-
spooning the liquid to his mouth with his left chased it with a tuft of bread. “Red Dog isn’t tion in absentia?”
hand. my partner. We just work well together.”
“Not for a man with Casey’s political clout,
Once they were alone again, the man lifted “And often,” added Graves. “Still, have it no,” Graves replied seriously. “Even without
glass and bottle and moved to sit across from your way. But your regular association with the income from his criminal activities, his
Ivan. “Got to admit,” he said in a casual tone, “I him does make you easy to keep track of.” mining holdings in the Outer Hedge alone keep
was a bit surprised to find you here.” him solidly stocked in lawyers and politicians.”
“Didn’t realize I was hiding. This is a fas- He paused while a waiter put another basket
Ivan lifted his gaze and kept eating. His cinating conversation but, unless you have a of bread on the table and passed a fresh cloth
new companion was tall, most of the length in point, I’d prefer to eat alone.” napkin to Ivan. “No, we need Edgar Casey with
his legs. He looked to be in his early thirties, his hand in the cookie jar—and someone to
Graves smiled indulgently. “Edgar Casey.”
hair cut short, almost military, facial features shoot him before he pulls it out.”
strong and squarish but unremarkable. “Do I “What about him?”
know you?” Ivan asked around a mouthful of “Sounds like you’ve got your work cut out
bread. “Name doesn’t ring a bell?” for you.” Ivan pushed his tray to the center of
the table. “You know what I like about the way
“No reason you should. Hyland Graves, Ivan tapped the edge of the stew bowl with Martha runs her kitchen? You need something,
Mister Steponovich. I work for Earth Security.” his spoon. “I’m almost done. When I am, so are she’ll make sure it gets to you. Like this sonic
you.” projector with a second helping of bread. This
“For an ErSec agent, you’re outside your

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 12

range, it’d probably shatter half the bones in Hegemony outlawed it, the games moved to “The decision was made over my head,”
your legs.” The edge of Ivan’s lips twitched the frontier and the stakes have kept getting countered Graves. “ErSec figures we can pick
toward a smile. “Why don’t you tell me exactly higher. If there’s a game, Kor will be there.” up Kor when we want to—Casey’s the real
what ErSec wants from me and why?” Graves stopped, drained his glass. “You mind?” target. That justifies the risks and costs.”
he asked, jerking his chin toward the bar.
Graves placed both palms on the table. “I Ivan shrugged the ice pack from his shirt
think you’re bluffing, but I’m not pushing. We “Go ahead.” Ivan laid the sonic pistol on the and laid it on the bar. “All right, we play it your
both want the same thing—Casey. I can’t offer table and stood as well. Graves poured them way for now. So you play. Spell it out for me.
you that, but I can go the next best thing.” both a drink and Ivan joined him at the bar. What’re you after?”
“Albert Kor.” “There’s a Kwakiutl colony about three “Potlatch takes a lot of command and
thousand miles northwest of here,” Graves control. When you start destroying high value
Graves nodded. “The big man’s right hand. continued. “They shuffle and deal in three items, you need oversight, plus some things
And if we play it right, maybe a line on more.” days.” don’t even fit inside the building. That means
there’s going to be a lot of communications
“How?” “I know them—descendants of old Selous’ traffic between the people running the game
original bearers when he settled the planet,” and between the players and their adjuncts.
“Potlatch.” Ivan said. “You want me to bring Kor in?” You can play potlatch on a cash-only basis
Ivan frowned. “Go on.” but, for most players, it defeats the purpose
Graves shook his head. “Nothing so simple.” of the game—this is about destroying things.”
Graves leaned back in his chair and folded He sipped his drink. “I’m going to play.” He paused for breath, drained his drink. “I’ve
his arms again. “Casey started off in the already got an ErDef escort cruiser in orbit moni-
“That sounds stupid. Care to explain?”
rackets, brought his own men up from there. toring and recording all that C&C. The informa-
You know that—it’s how you caught half of Graves laughed. “No wonder Red Dog’s tion dragnet alone ought to get us something.
them. His entire organization has a gambling your partner, you’ve both got the same social The Earth Defense ship can intercept Kor when
problem. Kor’s one of the worst, likes to play skills. Look at it this way. We’ve got Kor—that’s he leaves the planet.” Graves turned to lean
for the big stakes. They don’t get much bigger a given. ErSec’s tracked him down and pinned his back against the bar before continuing, “…
than potlatch.” a location on him. Pick up is the easy part. The assuming I lose.”
next question is, can we get more—follow?”
“That’s the game where they blow things “And if you win?”
up?” asked Ivan. “Sounds like politics. Just bring him in and
lean on him. If you get too fancy, you’ll lose “These people play for high stakes—things
“It’s more or less a mix of poker and beyond money—especially late in the game.
your fish.”
baccarat with a heavy dose of voodoo thrown Trading technology and information is common.
in. Supposedly, it derived from the religious “Casey’s people don’t roll over on him— If he’s pressed, there’s a chance Kor might put
rites of the Kwakiutl aboriginals on Earth. they’re more afraid of him than us.” information about Casey on the table.”
They took conspicuous consumption to a
new level—the richest man was the one who “Maybe. But if nothing else, when you keep “If you win.”
could give away the most stuff. Except that taking down his stand-ins, sooner or later he
more and more often, they just destroyed it to has to do his own dirty work, and then you’ve “If I win.”
show that they could. After a few generations got him.” “Assuming Kor doesn’t detect the cruiser
of colonists, gambling got mixed in. After the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 13

and skip the game.” helping get to Casey was enough.” “Yes or no.”
Graves shook his head. “He’s already on “Hardly.” Ivan did not try to hide the sneer The muscles in Graves’ jaw clenched.
planet. I made sure of that before I contacted in his voice. “First off, I want a copy of every “Done,” he said bitterly.
ErDef. Besides, we’re talking about Earth bit of data you get—if Earth Security gets it, I
tech—no way the junk you’ve got out here on get it.” “When do we leave?” Ivan asked.
the frontier is going to pick it up.”
“Fair enough.” Graves snorted in disgust, and strode from
“If you say so. How reliable is your source the room ignoring Ivan’s sarcastic smile behind
on all this?” Ivan asked, leaning forward. “You “Second, since this is your genius plan, not him. “Dawn,” he snapped over his shoulder.
know a lot about a man who has a vested mine, I want the bounty on Kor—whether we
get him or not.” Ivan watched him leave, then headed back
interest in not being found.” for the kitchen. “Martha, mind if I use your
“We’ve got a man on the inside—another “We’ll get him.” vid?”
player. That’s how I found out about the game “Then it shouldn’t be a problem.” She bustled across the room and stopped in
and managed to wrangle an invite.” The ErSec front of him with her hands on her hips. “You
man flashed a thin-lipped grin. “With two of us “Fine, you get the bounty.” leaving with new friend? Always work, work,
playing, we can whipsaw Kor—both play into work with you. Okay go, I tell Pharaoh. Where
him and set him up.” “Third, if I do this, I want Earth citizen- you go now?”
ship.”
“Risky.” Ivan finished his drink and waved “I’m just running up to the Kwakiutl enclave
away Graves’ offer of a refill. Graves face twitched in surprise. “Didn’t for a few days.”
think that was something you’d care about,”
“Easy,” countered Graves. “You in?” he said finally. “Kwakiutl. What? One langer not enough
“Where do I fit?” for you?”
“Not for me. I know a colony kid—I want
her to have Earth citizenship.” “What do you mean?”
“My security. Each player is allowed one
bodyguard—the Kwakiutl guarantee the safety Graves lips twisted up at the edges. “So you Martha made a noise like an overlooked
of a player at the table but not for whatever can send her to all the best schools?” tea kettle. “Langer everywhere around that
happens outside the game. I want you. You enclave. All the time you see five or six.”
were on my short list to begin with. That you’re “Yes,” Ivan replied flatly, turning to stare the
already here—on the same planet anyway— other man in the eyes. “That and all the extra Ivan frowned. The langer was a major ter-
cinches the deal.” legal protections you horde for your own.” ritorial predator; one usually roamed around a
ten mile area and did not brook any competi-
One of Martha’s helpers jogged from the “I’ll see what I can do.” Graves looked away, tors. “Any idea why?”
kitchen, carrying a bag of ice. Ivan took it from staring across the room.
him, passing the previous pack in exchange, “Trash,” the woman snapped. “Throw all
and nodded his thanks. “The gun too,” he said. “Yes or no, right now, or you’re on your their garbage into sea, sea wash it back up.
“Tell Martha thanks.” He worked the ice onto own.” Scavengers everywhere.”
his shoulder. “What’s in it for me?” “Anything else?” Ivan nodded in understanding. “And with
Graves frowned. “I would have thought

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 14

that much prey in one spot, in come the to stand as close to the screen as possible. “Potlatch?” Red Dog interrupted, his entire
langers.” “Red Dog is less unhappy to see you than any carapace suddenly clattering with excite-
other human.” ment. “Ivan go to Kwakiutl enclave to play
“Right. You go, you be Careful Ivan, not potlatch? Potlatch is Red Dog’s favorite game
Crazy Ivan.” “Good to see you too, you murderous psy- in universe!”
chopath. How’s the kid?”
He laughed. “You got it. The vid?” For a moment, Ivan considered letting Red
The image resolved into a gigantic triangle Dog take his place, then decided against it.
“You know where is.” She waved him off, of rough chitin topped by a pair of multi- “It’s bodyguard work, Red. I’m guarding one of
already turning to give more orders to her faceted eyes and razor-sharp mandibles that the players, just going to bring in Kor while I’m
helpers. snapped closed millimeters from the camera. there.”
“Tough grub. Goes through many tests. Hates
Ivan ducked through a side door into fool human doctor.” The two-ton alien calmed marginally,
Martha’s office. He activated the screen, managing to sound almost disappointed. “True,
punching in an access code, and sat. A moment “Who doesn’t?” replied Ivan. “She’s holding Red Dog very bad at keeping humans alive. Not
later the screen filled with the image of a well- up?” Red Dog’s expert area.”
endowed brunette standing seductively against
a background of stars. “Yes. No thanks to Ivan who leaves.” Ivan suppressed a laugh at the Cillian’s
understatement. “Is Max still on station?”
“Welcome to the Orion communica- Steponovich let the barb pass without
tions—” comment. He figured he deserved it. When “Is game Hamatsa sanctioned?”
Pharaoh had asked for help, Ivan was already
“Dell, forward me down to medical.” looking for an excuse to get away from the “I think your translator is messing up.”
luxury starliner Orion. The frustration of
The brunette vanished, replaced by a blank “All Hamatsa sanctioned events are
standing idly by as Kylee struggled to recover
screen. “Transferring now,” intoned a decidedly recorded. Red Dog owns copy of every game.
from her ordeal was causing his stomach to eat
male voice. Ivan will bring Red Dog recording.”
its own lining. “I’ll be back soon,” he assured
“Med lab.” A white lab coat filled the screen the Cillian. “Any idea how long ‘til she’s up and “What the hell is a Hamatsa?”
as the doctor who answered spoke over his around?”
shoulder. “Hey, Bug! It’s for you!” Red Dog swung his head side to side in irri-
“Fool human doctor says two weeks most. tation. “Hamatsa is secret society of priests.
“Red Dog is not bug,” came a series of Ivan be here then.” It was not a request. Oversee all major potlatch. Does Ivan even
hums and clicks, strategically augmented by a know how potlatch is played?”
“I’ll be there. Listen, if anything comes up,
translation implant in the chitin of the speaker. I won’t be here. I’ll be at the enclave north of
“Who calls Red Dog?” “I’ve got it, all right? It’s like poker and
here. I’ll leave instructions with Pharaoh about then they destroy stuff. I need to get in touch
The doctor walked beyond the vid’s edge, how to get in touch with me. Let House know with Max and—” An explosion of sound inter-
grumbling. “Get over here and find out. I swear, too.” rupted him as Red Dog ground his chitin panels
House doesn’t pay me enough—” together. Ivan stopped and stared at the screen
“Bounty?” asked the Cillian.
until the alien fell silent. “You got something to
“Ivan,” the screen was suddenly a red blur “Albert Kor. He’s supposed to be at some say, Red, say it.”
as its camera struggled to focus. Red Dog liked card game—”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 15

“Ivan need to understand. Potlatch Ivan cursed softly. “I got it, Red. Thanks.” back,” he noted, stepping away from the flyer.
important. Potlatch religion. Ivan mess with A good two hundred yards of bare white stone
Potlatch, all Hamatsa mess with Ivan. Ivan need “Red Dog not care.” The alien’s upper cillia separated the front of the hotel from the
to understand game or Ivan get killed. Red Dog waved in what might have been a shrug. “Is nearest growth.
does not care if Ivan killed, but grub care if Ivan important to grub.”
killed, so Red Dog make sure Ivan not killed.” “A clear field of fire, as it were,” volunteered
“Tell her I’ll be there when she gets out of a plump gray haired man, strolling toward
“Your concern is touching.” medical,” Ivan said distractedly, “and have Beta them. “Hoffield,” he said, extending a hand.
Max call me.”
“Every round, one bid set for U’melth. “Graves,” the ErSec agent replied, shaking
For Raven is black chip. Black chip is potlatch. “Yes,” Red Dog replied. “Cease now?” the man’s hand. “You here for the game?”
Other chips just money. Anything player has “Goodbye Red.” The screen went blank. The older man shrugged expansively. “In a
can be black chip. Hamatsa sets value. Raven
bid is forced like poker blind. Only bidder manner of speaking. I play at the edges—stay
knows what black chip is. Other players only around betting in the side pots until I have to
know after hand. Half of raven bid is potlatch. Ivan took his breakfast through a straw and put up a black chip, then cashing out. There’s
Ivan understand?” slept most of the ten-hour trip while cortical a wonderful little eatery on the second floor
steroids worked on his injuries. where I’ll watch most of the match on the
“Black chips can be anything.” hotel’s internal broadcast. I’m a tourist real-
“Guess which building we land at,” joked ly—dabble at the cards during the day and
The Cillian snapped his mandibles in frus- Graves, banking the flier in a slow turn. watch the langer from my hotel room in the
tration. “Anything player has can be black chip. evening.”
Hamatsa sets value. Player can bet self. Player The commune’s buildings clustered on
can bet you.” a short peninsula sticking out into the lime “Langer are the dinosaur-looking things?”
green sea like an inflamed thumb. The finger- Graves asked. A quick scan of the jungle below
“What do you mean, bet me?” nail was a packed cluster of irregular block revealed a half-dozen of the bobbing ‘heads’.
buildings that, from the air, looked more like
“Potlatch is religion. Potlatch of raven chip “Oh goodness, the lures are just the tip of
bombed out rubble than residences. A strip of
is sacrifice to Kakwas—King of Ghosts. Winner the proverbial iceberg. Fascinating creatures,
more modern appearing brick-and-steel con-
keep half—half destroyed as sacrifice. Player the langers—I’m a bit of an amateur biologist,
structions resembling warehouses marched
can bet anything player has. If player has Ivan you know,” Hoffield gushed, warming rapidly
up the rise to the peninsula’s knuckle. It was
bodyguard, player can bet Ivan bodyguard.” to his subject. “The langer are a real rarity,
there, on the highest point on the isthmus,
that the enclave’s architecture almost literally a predator that preys exclusively on other
Ivan thought for a moment. “If a player
turned its back on the rest of the settlement. predators. Those dinosaurs, as you call them,
bets an employee, is that betting the person or
Like a twenty-story golden horseshoe, facing are actually lures. The langer moves them
the service?”
inland, a superstructure of glass and steel around to mimic a large harmless herbivore to
“That Red Dog’s point.” towered over the nearby jungle, a curtain wall attract other predators that it, in turn, eats for
of opulence between subsistence squalor and its own sustenance.” He tried to press a pair
“Well, which is it?” savage nature. of field binoculars into Graves’ hands as he
spoke. “The beauty of the system is that they
“Ask rules committee. Hamatsa set value. Graves feathered them smoothly onto eat their competition but, of course, one would
Understand?” the hotel’s roof. “At least they cut the jungle think that the scale of ecosystem necessary to

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 16

support this kind of two-tiered system would have to check in, but I look forward to seeing to cause confusion.
be quite impossible. And let’s not forget that you at the table.”
the langer appears to be a land-based relative After a carefully worded call to Pharaoh
of both cephalopods and crustaceans.” “Of course. And a drink afterwards, and a stop at the reception desk for directions,
perhaps.” he rode the elevator down to the first floor to
“How do they keep them from coming up inspect the playing area.
the hill?” Ivan asked. Graves nodded and Hoffield bustled away,
back to the roof’s edge and his binoculars. The room was closed for the evening but
“Sonics. The langer do just about every- not locked. Ivan let himself in, sliding the door
thing by feel and aggression—something Given the nature of the place, Ivan was closed behind him, and surveyed the layout in
attacks their lures, they charge toward it. not surprised to find the building’s main desk the twilight sifting in from the window forming
Something gets in their way, they attack it located on its highest level rather than the the entire eastern wall. The black metal grid
until either it gives or they get tired and go lowest. The dour-faced woman working the supporting the glass framed the jungle into
around. They even get their sensations of heat reception area took a single glance at Graves’ a series of puzzle pieces, the downhill slope
and taste through feeling the ground with false ID and slid them a pair of key cards without of the hillside making the bare rock invisible
their pseudopod. Rather than build a wall to speaking. Beneath Ivan’s was a folded piece of through the window. Though high-ceilinged—
keep them out like most places, the Kwakiutl hotel stationary. close to twenty feet—the chamber was not
put in low frequency sonic projectors aimed overly large, certainly no bigger than the
Graves watched suspiciously as Ivan opened
down the hill. Look, you can see them just average hotel ballroom, and no provisions
it.
there, the short white towers.” Hoffield tried were made to accommodate spectators. Ivan
to aim Graves in the right direction by pulling “From Pharaoh,” Ivan explained. “Found my suspected there would not be any, not within
on his arm, bobbing his head excitedly as he custom .45 where I dropped it. He’ll have one the room itself at least. A rolling tripod mount
talked. “It mimics the vibrations of the water of his boys run it up tomorrow.” Ivan stuffed and dozens of wall-mounted cameras would
crashing on the shore and the langer think the note in his pocket and patted the sonic on record the event for broadcast. An oversized
the continent ends down there instead of out his hip and smaller slug thrower in his shoulder oval table commandeered the bulk of the space,
here. They hate the water—which is really holster. “I think I’ve got enough firepower to its top covered in cobalt blue felt, a notch in
surprising given their similarities to other get by until then.” its wider side allowing the dealer the reach of
aquatic lifeforms—because the weight of their the surface. Partially concealed in depressions
shells and high muscle density precludes any Safely settled in his adjoining room, Ivan along the table’s edges, electronic plugs and
chance of flotation. Even silt and loose sand examined the actual text of the message. “Sky jacks waited for the players’ convenience. Ivan
are a threat to them. The hotel probably could eyes. Cowboy drives. Call codes on page 145.” counted a total of twelve low-backed chairs in
have saved a fortune in sound equipment just Most of the message, including the simplistic the gloom.
by putting in a sand moat across the base of rhyme scheme, was to confuse anyone who
the slope there. I’ve always wondered why the might see the message and convince the hotel The players arrayed across from the dealer
langer didn’t develop some form of breathing staff there was a complex code system in use. would have a clear view of the sunrise over
apparatus through its lures so that it could hunt In actuality, the message meant what it said. the jungle, and the camera crews would have
underwater, but…I am so sorry. I tend to get a Beta Max was in place with Cowboy as his the glare at their back. Judging by the number
bit carried away,” Hoffield interrupted himself, pilot. Idly, Ivan wondered if this was one of the of light fixtures adorning the ceiling, lighting
clapping his hands over his mouth. Cowboys he knew; it seemed like every pilot on would not be a problem no matter how long
the frontier called himself Cowboy, and their the game went on.
“No problem,” Graves said, smiling. “We life spans usually weren’t long enough for that

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Calamity’s Child,
Chapter Two: Potlatch by M. Keaton Pg. 17

To his right, against the wall, was a small
wooden bar, its front molded into a stylized M Keaton
cubist thunderbird in gold against dark wood;
to the left, a langer shell had been cut and Growing up in a family with a history
fashioned into a short turquoise wall about of military service, M. Keaton cut his
three feet high, hiding the mass of cables and
spare broadcast equipment that would be linguistic and philosophical teeth on
used. the bones of his elders through games
of strategy and debates at the dinner
The walls were draped in the same table. He began his writing career
unadorned cobalt as the table. Checking over 20 years ago as a newspaper rat
behind the hanging cloth, he found two other in Springdale, Arkansas, U.S.A. before
exits from the room, one opening into a control pursuing formal studies in chemistry,
room bursting with electronics, the other into mathematics, and medieval literature
the hotel’s kitchens.
at John Brown University. A student
He paced slowly around the table, inspect- of politics, military history, forteana,
ing the room again. Three entrances plus a and game design, his renaissance
full-wall window, no substantial cover beyond education inspired the short television
the poor concealment of the draperies, and a series: These Teeth Are Real (TTAR).
small area of play—assuming their hosts’ own
security did their jobs, it was a simple enough His literary “mentors” are as diverse
area to guard, a killing field if they did not: as his experiences. Most powerfully,
twelve players, twelve possible hired guns. the author has been affected by the
With a final glance at the jungle below, Ivan works and writers of the “ancient”
let himself out. world, including the Bible, Socrates,
and (more modern) Machiavelli, Tsun
Tsu, Tacitus, and Von Clauswitz. (This
horribly long list only scratches the
surface; M. Keaton reads at a rate of
over two books per week in addition
to his writing.)

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Paul Davey Pg. 18

Featured Artist
Paul Davey
Name:
Paul Davey, Mattahan
Age:
18
Country of residence: 
United States
Hobbies:
Drawing, Painting, Being outraged by political news, sitting
Favorite Book / Author: 
Watchmen/Alan Moore (I don’t read a lot)
Favorite Artist:
James Jean, Most people on my watchlist
at Deviantart
When did you start creating art?
I can’t say for sure, I’ve been doing some
thing artish for as long as I can remember.
What media do you work in?
Mostly digital, I dabble in acrylics every
now and then but I just don’t have the
patience for it anymore. 
Where your work has been featured?
-The Gimp 2.4 Splash Screen
-The MOCA’zine, a teen magazine
published by the Museum of
Contemporary Art in North Miami. I did
illustration and page layout for the past
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Paul Davey Pg. 19

two issues (they come out annually). My work was featured on
last years cover. I’m also working on the forthcoming issue.
-I did a mural for The Mall at 163rd Street in North Miami Beach
during my senior year in high school. It was displayed from 2005-
2007
-My icons have been featured on countless tech savvy desktops,
twice on Deviantart’s daily deviation page, and on various other
customization sites forums and blogs.
-I’m definitely forgetting something...
Where should someone go if they wanted to view / buy some of
your works? 
mattahan.deviantart.com
How did you become an artist?
Practice. There’s a lot to be learned from art classes/school, but
I’ve never really benefitted from that kind of environment. I’m
mostly self taught, I believe that diligent practice combined with
research and a willingness to learn from mistakes is the best way
to progress artistically.
What were your early influences?
Sonic the Hedgehog and Dragon Ball Z. I have countless binders
filled with furry characters with super saijin hairstyles. 
What inspired the art for the cover?
It was to be a dp-spread in an abandoned comic i was working
on. The story revolves around two runaways, their helper robot,
and a mercenary they hired for protection. In ‘We Can’t Win’, The
trio have run out of food and are without a place to sleep for the
night. A dwindling fire and a few slices of bread are all they have
left... 

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Featured Artist: Paul Davey Pg. 20

How would you describe your work?
Pseudorealisticlyafrocentric? 
Where do you get your inspiration / what inspires you? 
People around me, Jamaican women ;)
What are your favorite tools / equipment for producing your
art? 
Corel Painter X, Oil pastel tool. Photoshop. My Graphire3
What tool / equipment do you wish you had?
A Wacom Cintiq 12WX(I’d like any Cintiq, this one is reasonably
priced)
A MacBook Pro
What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
I don’t have any lofty goals in mind when I create something, I
make art that I like. I always try to buck the prevailing stylistic
trend, though.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 21

JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon!
by Paul Christian Glenn
T annen Stamp lay awkwardly on his side in
a pseudo-fetal position, his face turned to
the dull metal wall. The bunks on this ship had
these renegade jeepers. They were in trouble—
deeper trouble than they knew, from what he
could piece together—and aligning himself with
the portal cover over the top of the ladder as
he came.

never been big enough to comfortably accom- their cause wasn’t a good bet. Still, as long as The “receiving deck” was nothing more
modate his hulking frame, and the throbbing he was on board the Jasper, he was relatively than a small prep area, with one door leading
pain in his leg now accentuated the issue. safe. It wasn’t freedom he wanted, exactly, nor into the engine room and one door leading
a new alliance. What he wanted was someone out to the boarding lift. A locked cabinet next
Inadequate bunk design wasn’t Captain on this ship to trust him—a long shot. to the lift held an assortment of surface suits,
Spill’s fault, of course, but Stamp resented mobile air supplies, and other sundries.
him for it anyway. If he wasn’t confined to this “Stamp.”
holding cell, he could at least have stretched out Spill glanced up at the closed portal, then
on the floor of the deck to relax his wound. At the sound of his name, he grumbled and spoke quietly. “We have a problem,” he said.
twisted around to see Captain Spill standing “Your old buddy Ixter’s planted an explosive
Lying there, staring down at the tiny just beyond the invisible cell field surrounding somewhere on this ship, and he means to
rivets that held the shell of the deck in place, the bunk. detonate it if we don’t show up on Tarpius II
Stamp focused on his predicament. He always as expected.”
dissected a problem by first identifying what “Yeah?”
he wanted to get out of the situation. Trouble “You running?” asked Stamp.
“We need to talk,” said the captain, “in
was, for the last ten years, the answer had private.” “Not exactly, but I need to make a pit stop,
always been the same: freedom. Whether and Ixter’s friends aren’t of the ‘patience is a
it was under the thumb of a brutal gangster Stamp rolled over and pulled himself up as virtue’ persuasion.”
boss, locked in a sterile jail cell, or indebted to the captain punched a code into the panel on
a string of unprincipled shock dealers, he had the wall. A track of green light lit up the floor Stamp nodded. He had expected Ixter to
always only wanted to escape, to walk away around the bunk, indicating that the cell field plant an insurance device on the ship, but
unfettered, to be free. was deactivated. hadn’t expected the captain to change course.
This was an interesting development.
This time, however, freedom was the one “Lower deck,” said the captain, nodding
thing he couldn’t risk. Not only was he running toward the ladder in the center of the room. “Now, I know you’ve got some experience
from the usual GPF types, but his last boss—a “You first.” with this ship,” continued the captain. “You
powerful man—had made it clear that any knew enough about the workings to disrupt
further failures on his part would make him Stamp tried to read Spill’s face, but the my navcoord back on Wroume. You don’t want
persona non grata in the underworld. Thanks captain gave nothing away. He simply stood to talk about it—okay—but I need to know if
to the sting operation that landed him in this with his hand on his shooter, as if waiting for you can dig into the engines and disarm the
holding cell, he was left with nowhere to hide. Stamp to do something stupid. Unwilling to explosive without mucking up our systems.”
oblige the unspoken dare, Stamp limped over
So if the answer wasn’t freedom, what was to the ladder and lowered himself down to the Stamp shrugged. “Depends on where it’s
it? He certainly didn’t want an alliance with receiving deck. Spill followed directly, sliding mounted, and whether it’s wired into the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 22

prime directory.” Once inside the engine room, it didn’t take had just saved the lives of everyone on board,
Stamp long to locate the explosive. It had been which should buy him a little leeway while he
“I figured as much,” acknowledged Spill. cobbled together in a makeshift fashion, and was in their custody.
“There’s a tracking device on board as well. I’m soldered to the interior shell of the primary
hoping it’s attached to the bomb.” drive. A man much smaller than he must have Thinking about it now, however, he rec-
shimmied up under the frame to get it mounted, ognized the hole in his plan. He had, indeed,
Stamp shook his head. “Not likely. It’s and Stamp had to lie on the floor and contort saved the lives of everyone on board—includ-
probably mounted to the exterior hull to avoid his body to get a good angle on it. ing his own. No doubt the captain would see
interference from the nav signal.” this as an act of self-preservation as much as a
After squinting at the detonator, he deter- gesture of goodwill.
Spill considered this with gritted teeth and mined two things. First, whoever installed it
a long sigh, then waved it away. “In that case, hadn’t bothered to commit the wiring into the His best angle was to play cool about the
there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve got a ship’s prime directory, so disarming it wouldn’t whole thing and hope the captain took his
good lead on Ixter’s men if he decides to come affect life support or the navcoord. Second, indifference as a death wish. It would at least
after us.” and far less comforting, was that the receiver give the impression that he had disarmed the
was tuned to an open starnet frequency for bomb for everyone else’s sake. Maybe, if Spill
“He will.” said Stamp. “If he’s promised was feeling generous, he would reward the
your bodies to Kremm Stathora, he’ll get ‘em remote detonation—a chance encounter with
any stray signal containing the correct trigger favor with a little less snarling and incarcera-
there, one way or another.” tion.
sequence could activate the damned thing. It
“Let me worry about that,” said Spill. “I’m was sloppy work. He tapped the com panel on the wall and
going to lock you down here while you search. waited for the captain to answer.
Tools are in the engine room. If you find what Stamp was no expert on these matters, but
you’re looking for, I’ll be in the cockpit. Use the he had planted a bomb or two in his time, and “What have you got?” asked Spill, sounding
com.” figured he could disarm this slapdash piece of distracted.
work without killing everyone on board. And
The captain grabbed the ladder and started if he was wrong, well, everybody’s problems “Fixed your blowin’ up problem,” said
to climb. were solved. Stamp. “Couldn’t find the tracker, though.
Must be outside.”
“Why bother going out of your way?” asked #
Stamp. “You want to find out what this is all “Good,” replied Spill. “We’re coming in for
about, why not just fly straight to Tarpius II?” Twenty minutes later, he emerged from a landing. I’ll be down in a minute.”
“You keep your secrets, Stamp,” called Spill, the roaring engine room, sweat dripping from Stamp leaned back against the wall to ease
over his shoulder, “and let me keep mine.” his lumpy brow, the detonator wires dangling his leg. He looked around the room, and his
from his fingers. The door slid shut behind eyes rested on the storage cabinet beside the
With that, the captain disappeared up into him, and he leaned against the cool wall of the lift. Immediately, a new plan took shape in his
the main deck, and the portal cover slid shut receiving deck, working out in his mind how he mind, and he glanced up toward the top of the
with a dull thunk. was going to play this. ladder. If this was going to work, he would have
Fair enough. While scrunched up under the drive frame, to act quickly.
he had thought about how he might use this Without a second’s hesitation, he opened
# favor as some kind of leverage. After all, he

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 23

the door to the engine room and scurried back Spill examined briefly, then tossed into the As they approached the house, Cadet Rey
inside. He grabbed the toolbox and sprang open toolbox. took the lead, her steps quickening to the
back out to the receiving deck. The Jasper familiar sight of home, and Stamp watched
swayed lightly as it approached the surface of “Good,” said Spill. “That’s one problem her practically skip toward the dusty plot that
the planet, and he realized he had less time solved. You want to get these tools back into served as a front yard. She was a lithe young
than he thought. the engine room where they belong?” thing, and it wasn’t the first time he had surrep-
titiously admired the way her form-fitting GPF
With another glance up at the ladder, he Stamp glared at the captain to mask his getup clung to her body. She had a tomboy’s
pulled a crowbar out of the box and jammed relief, then picked up the toolbox and stepped figure, tight and compact with subtle but
it up into the top hinge of the storage cabinet. back into the engine room. He placed the tools decidedly feminine curves. She looked good
After a swift yank, the bolt popped loose and back on the supply shelf, then adjusted the in action, too—something that always got
he was able to pull the top half of the door small bulge below the small of his back. Despite Stamp’s pulse pounding a few degrees hotter.
away from the frame. He reached inside and the close call, he was feeling good about this
fumbled through a mess of hanging surface new plan. He wanted out from under Spill’s As she reached the door, a young man with
suits, feeling his way to the back shelf. He ran thumb, and there was no sense waiting for the dark hair, flashing eyes, and a broad smile
his fingers along the shelf, tossing aside first aid captain to give him what he wanted, when he emerged from the darkened doorway of the
kits and pieces of climbing gear, until he found could just as easily take it for himself. house. She ran to him and he took her in a deep
what he was looking for: a shooter. embrace, and for a moment Stamp thought he
# might be her lover. As the two of them pulled
The weapon was secured to the shelf with apart, however, she gave him a playful shove
a leather strap, and as he felt the ship land Cassion was just as desolate as advertised. and tousled his hair with a familiarity that
softly on the ground below, he worked his The Jasper rested in the middle of a recently bespoke siblinghood. As Stamp drew nearer
fingers frantically to free it. He heard voices harvested bean field, the roughly-hewn stalks with the rest of the crew, he knew his second
above, and footsteps, as the crew prepared to of which stretched out in parallel lines before guess was correct. The resemblance between
disembark. them. The dull brown sky blended seamlessly Cadet Rey and the young man was unmistak-
into a flat horizon, broken only by the dark able.
Finally, the buckle sprang free, and he silhouettes of the Rey family farm, just ahead.
pulled the shooter out of the cabinet. It was a “Captain,” said Rey, “I’d like you to meet my
From what Stamp could see, it looked like
DL-10, a light weapon, but powerful enough to brother, Kedran.”
nothing more than a house, an old barn, and a
get the job done. He shoved it into the back of few low lying storage sheds.
his trousers and thrust the cabinet door back “Pleased to meet you,” said the young
into place. The voices were directly over him Captain Spill had allowed Stamp to man, his eyes brimming with curiosity. Stamp
now, and he slammed the hinge bolt back into accompany the squad, likely out of fear that he wondered if Jasper Squad’s renegade status
place just as the portal above slid open. would break his prison cell and abscond with had made news yet on this forsaken world.
the ship. It felt good to be out in the air again,
Stamp spun around and leaned against the The captain put out his hand and greeted
stretching his legs and breathing something
cabinet as if nursing his wounded leg, while Kedran with a polite nod. That formality seen
other than city smog. In the fading light, he
Captain Spill descended the ladder, followed to, Rey turned back to her brother and said, “I
noticed a few small birds flitting across the sky,
by Melendez and the two cadets. “Show me have so much to tell you…things you wouldn’t
and reflected on how long it had been since
what you got,” said Spill. believe.”
he’d last woken to the sound of birdsong.
Stamp handed him the detonator, which “Things I’ve tried not to believe,” said a

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 24

deep voice from the doorway. A tall, heavy the story. Meanwhile, Kedran served a supper horizon, the stars blazing like a million candles
man with deep-set eyes and a formidable of hot, spicy stew and warm bread. The meal on vigil. As they walked toward the shadowy
beard stepped out of the house and stood with was spare, as they hadn’t been expecting garden beside the house, Stamp wondered
his arms crossed, sizing up the visitors with an visitors, but the stew was chock full of meat what it would have been like to grow up in a
apprehensive eye. chunks and fresh vegetables from the garden. It place like this, far away from the workings of
had been a long time since Stamp had a home- the galaxy. He couldn’t imagine someone as
“Father!” cried Rey. She ran to him with cooked meal, and he savored every bite. impetuous as Rey trapped on a rock like this,
open arms, and he embraced her so crushingly and considered it no wonder she ran away to
that Melendez gasped with apparent concern Between the fire, his full belly, and the the Academy.
for the girl’s wellbeing. The large man released insipid drone of Spill’s voice, he couldn’t help
her, then looked her up and down before but doze. When he came to, he found the They stepped into the garden and waded
turning his attention to Captain Spill. fire reduced to heap of glowing coals, and through the low-lying foliage. Stamp paused
Jackaby and Melendez fast asleep on the floor. to stretch, and watched Rey instinctively reach
“It’s a relief to see my daughter here The occupants of the house had presumably down to pull a few weeds from among the veg-
and whole,” said the large man, “but we’ve retired to their bedrooms; Spill was absent, etables.
been hearing news from town that’s terrible but Jenna Rey was awake, seated in a wooden
confusing.” He squinted at the stripes on Spill’s chair beside the coals. “Don’t know how you can see what you’re
jacket. “I expect you can clear things up.” doin’,” remarked Stamp.
“You up too late, or too early?” asked
Spill stepped forward and saluted casually. Stamp, pulling himself up on his elbow. “I pulled weeds in this garden for fifteen
“Captain Muriel Spill, Galactic Patrol Force. years,” she shrugged. “I could do it in my
We’ll do our best to fill in the blanks for you, “It’s about midnight,” she replied. “Captain’s sleep.”
Mr. Rey, but I’m afraid I can’t do much to ease out scouring the Jasper for a tracking device.
your mind about these matters. At the moment, I’m on watch.” “That why you went to the Academy? Give
we’re about as confused as you are.” your fingers a rest?”
“This place is barren as an old lady,” said
Mr. Rey glanced down at his daughter, the Spill. “What’s to watch?” “I went to Academy so I could make
proud cadet, then back up at Spill. “Sounds like something better of myself. My mother lived
a story that oughta be told over supper,” he “You.” her entire life in these fields, never saw so
said. “And call me Del.” much as a spaceport. I didn’t want her kind of
Stamp let a smile escape. “Right.” life, but to do something important.”
# “You were moaning in your sleep,” said “Don’t blame you,” said Stamp. “Still, a
Rey. person could get used to this kind of quiet.”
Stamp warmed himself by a small, open
fire in the center of the room. Smoke drifted “My leg. Fact is, it could use a stretch. Mind “Sure,” she said. “A person could get used
up through a circular hole in the farmhouse if I take a walk?” to being hungry, too. Or living in a drafty,
roof, and the distant sparks of starlight were run-down house. Or not having enough money
She reached over and took her shooter
just visible beyond. to see a doctor when they should. A person
from the table beside her. “I’ll go with you.” could get used to a lot things, but that doesn’t
Captain Spill brought Del up to speed, with make them acceptable.”
They stepped out of the farmhouse into a
many interjections from Cadet Rey peppering vast night. The sky was cloudless from horizon to

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 25

Stamp kicked the dirt a bit. “What about “Yeah? Well, you’ve got a deadly weapon onto our exact location about three hours ago.
your brother?” he asked. “He got ambitions?” in your hand. What if I came at you right now? I’m guessing we’ve got an hour before they’re
What if you shot me in the leg like a good here, which means we need to get ready for a
“He’s smart. He’ll leave one day, too, but soldier, and I just kept comin’, my big ugly fight.”
not until Father’s gone. Kedran knows what hands reaching for your throat? Would you kill
this place means to him.” me?” “Why don’t we just leave now?” asked
Stamp. “Tracker’s dead, so they won’t be able
“Now, that’s something,” mused Stamp. “If I had to,” she answered, and he saw to follow us.”
“Imagine a kid giving up the best years of his her hand tighten around the handle of her
life for the sake of somebody’s feelings.” shooter. “They know where we parked, and I don’t
trust your buddies to politely knock twice and
Rey tossed aside a handful of weeds and “So, what would that make you?” leave,” said Spill. “We need to ensure that this
stared up at the sky. “I don’t think you’re as farm goes unmolested.”
cold as you make yourself out to be,” she said. She stood frozen for a moment, then relaxed
“I think you like the idea of doing something and slowly holstered her weapon. “Don’t play “We wait for the ship, then draw them
nice for somebody.” games with me, Stamp.” away?” asked Melendez.
He looked at her as she stood in silhouette, He grinned in the darkness. “I wouldn’t “Exactly,” nodded Spill. “We make them
hands on her hips, her head cocked to one dare.” chase us, then take them on once we break
side. The moonlight reflected the soft red of atmo.”
her hair, and even in the darkness he could see Captain Spill’s voice rang out from the edge
her eyes piercing into him. of the garden. “You two,” he called, “what’s “My daughter’s not going with you.”
going on?”
“I don’t make myself out to be anything, They all turned to see Del standing in the
‘cept what I am.” Stamp turned to see the captain’s shape in doorway of his bedroom. He looked haggard,
the moonlight, his shooter drawn and aimed at like a man who hadn’t slept in days. His dark
“And what’s that?” Stamp’s head. bushy hair was sticking out in all directions,
and his evening robe was rumpled, but he
“A fellow whose resume happens to contain “Your cadet’s trying to make me feel like a stood with an air of authority nonetheless.
a few disreputable organizations.” bad person,” said Stamp.
“With all due respect,” said Spill, “That’s not
“A thief?” “Glad she isn’t straining herself,” said Spill. your decision to make. The cadet is a member
“Back inside, now. We’ve got trouble coming.” of this squad, and we’re going to need her.”
“Sometimes.”
Inside the house, Spill roused Melendez “As I understand it, your squad ain’t official
“A killer?” and Jackaby. The crew gathered around as the no more,” said Del. “She ain’t goin’.”
captain held out his hand to show them the
He let her question hang in the air for tracking device he had pried from the roof of Rey stepped toward him. “Father,” she said.
a moment while he considered it. “A man’s the Jasper. “I know you don’t like it, but this is my job. I’m
actions don’t necessarily define who he is,” he not deserting my squad.”
said, finally. “I plugged it into our reader and looked
at the response record,” he said. “The return Del crossed his arms, and took a step
“I disagree.” signal’s been getting stronger, and they locked forward. His dark eyes glinted suddenly with

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 26

water, and he pulled his lips back against his “We could take them with us,” he muttered, the screen impatiently as he rocked back and
teeth, sucking in a deep breath of air. “Baby,” almost inaudibly. “Set them up on another forth in his chair. Stamp had already figured
he said, “you don’t have to do this. We can world, someplace busy. Ixter wouldn’t bother out that Jackaby wasn’t built for combat, but
hide you here until everything blows over. to keep looking.” this looked like something other than jitters.
We can…” He choked back another gasp, then He made a mental note to keep an eye on the
looked at the floor. “If only it were that easy,” she sighed. twitchy cadet.
Kedran appeared in the bedroom door “I’ve got some money,” continued Stamp, “Good,” replied Spill through the cockpit
beside Del, and put his hand on his hand on looking at his feet. “It’s not a lot, but it’d be portal. “Keep an eye on their frequency and let
his father’s shoulder. “She’ll be okay, Dad,” he enough to keep ‘em goin’ until it’s safe to come me know if you pick up any useful chatter.”
said. “You know Jenna never found a scrape back.”
she couldn’t get out of.” With that, the cockpit portal slid shut, and
She looked up at him, eyebrows raised, a the Jasper’s engines fired up. The captain’s
Del sighed deeply, then dropped his hands surprised half-smile crossing her lips. He caught voice echoed out over the com.
to his sides. He looked over at his daughter the look, and scowled back.
with hard eyes. “I told you not to go,” he said “Here they come,” he said. “Melendez,
“I just feel somewhat responsible, is all. hold your fire ‘til we draw them away.”
quietly. “I told you, and now look…” Ixter was my contact.”
Stamp felt uncomfortable with the level of A moment later, the ship rocked with an
She looked ahead at the rest of the part abrupt takeoff, and Stamp grabbed the edge of
emotion on display. “Maybe we ought to let as she continued walking. “Father won’t leave his bunk.
these folks work it out,” he muttered. the farm,” she said. “But it’s...kind...of you to
“Despite you sayin’ it, that’s a good idea,” offer.” “Now!” called the captain, and the crackling
agreed Spill. He looked at Rey. “We’ll be on report of Melendez’ laser cannon rang through-
Stamp’s face grew warm, and he looked out the ship.
board, prepping for takeoff,” he said. “Don’t be back at his feet. He hated it when anybody
long.” talked down to him—even pretty girls. Ixter’s ship returned fire, and Stamp heard
Stamp stepped outside and readjusted the deadly laser bolts sizzling past the hull. The
his hidden weapon. He looked up at the sky # Jasper banked hard, then shot straight up, the
once again, and saw the gentle light of dawn g-forces pinning Stamp against the wall as the
peeking over the edge of the flat horizon. The Forty-five minutes later, Stamp was back captain steered them toward the stars.
others followed, and had only taken a few steps in his holding cell, sitting on his thumbs while Jackaby flew sideways from his chair and
toward the Jasper when Rey emerged from the Jasper Squad prepared to engage to the enemy. crashed into the floor. His workpad skidded
house and caught up with them. Spill was in the cockpit with Rey. Melendez had across the deck and collided with the invisible
climbed the ladder up into the tiny rooftop gun
“Everything squared?” asked Spill. field surrounding Stamp’s bunk, sending a
port, and Jackaby sat at the conference table spray of sparks up into the air.
with his workpad, tracking the incoming signal
“It’s fine,” said Rey, not elaborating. They from Ixter’s ship. “Dammit, kid, buckle yourself down!”
walked in silence toward the ship, and Stamp
found himself trailing at the back of the party shouted Stamp.
“Two minutes to visual,” called Jackaby.
next to Rey. He had been mulling something Stamp noticed that the kid looked agitated. Jackaby flailed across the floor of the deck
over. He sweated and fidgeted with his pad, tapping toward his workpad, shaking harder than he

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 27

should have from the fall. He grabbed the pad going down fast.” Then, they were gone. Stamp sat for a
and pulled himself back toward the table at moment and listened to the sounds of the
the middle of the room. The shift in gravity was nauseating as firefight outside, until, unable to sit any longer,
they swung back down toward the surface of he stood and began pacing in his cell. He had
Above them, Melendez fired again, more Cassion, and Stamp gritted his teeth against the never felt so much like a caged animal.
rapidly this time, which meant Ixter’s men were bile. Jackaby wasn’t as resilient, and the gooey
closing the gap. The Jasper shuddered with pieces of his half-digested stew flew up out of At last, he heard the hiss of the lift hydrau-
the residual impact of a near miss. “Well, that his mouth and splattered against the ceiling. lics, and the sound of footsteps on the deck
one was closer than I like,” mumbled Stamp, below. He was about to call down, when he
to no one in particular. He closed his eyes and Seconds later, a small portal opened above realized he could still hear the sound of firing
tried to distance himself from the peril. Didn’t them and a ladder descended through the outside. Something wasn’t right.
usually work, but— vomit. Melendez slid down the ladder and held
tight to the rungs when she hit the floor. A moment later, he heard boots on the
“Oh...” Jackaby had pulled himself back into ladder, and saw the last face he expected
his chair and was staring hard at the workpad, “How’d you miss it, Cadet?” she poking up onto the bridge:
screwing up his eyes as if he had trouble seeing demanded.
the screen. “Oh,” he repeated. “Oh, no...” Ixter.
“I don’t know,” moaned Jackaby. “I just
He slammed his trembling hand down didn’t…see it.” “Well, naw,” sneered the greasy weasel,
on the com panel. “Captain,” he said, clearly “ain’t it just like old times?”
The Jasper landed with an ungraceful
trying to keep his voice steady, “there’s, um...a thump, and they heard the cockpit slide back “Let me out of here, Ixter.”
second signal on their frequency. It’s another into it’s locked position. A second later, the
ship...looks like it’s landing near the farm.” “Sure enough, sure enough.” The skinny
portal flew open and the captain bounded
onto the deck, his shooter drawn. Rey followed little creep leapt up onto the deck and walked
If Spill was anywhere near as furious as
close on his heels, a look of steely fear on her toward Stamp’s bunk. “They got you all locked
Stamp would have been about the oversight,
face. up a skurnet, naw, don’t they, just? Why’s that,
his voice didn’t betray it. “Lieutenant,” he I wonder?”
responded, “you catch that?” “Men on the ground, near the house,”
said Spill. “We come out blazing and take the “I’m a prisoner,” said Stamp. “But I’d rather
“Yes, Sir,” said Melendez. “Give me one
perimeter before we try to talk.” He pointed his be a workin’ man, and it sounds to me like
more pass, with crossfire from your end.”
finger at Jackaby. “Grab your shooter, Cadet. you’re suddenly a few hands short.”
The Jasper banked hard again, and the We’ll talk later.” Ixter broke into a wide, multicolored grin
sound of fire from above meshed with the
Rey was the first to the ladder as the squad and hissed with laughter. “That much sure is
sound of the Spill’s light cannons as the cockpit
headed down to the lift. true,” he said. “But if I was to take you on, the
swung around the perimeter of the ship. percentages might be a bit thin, seein’ how
Stamp heard, coming from beyond the hull, “What about me?” called Stamp. your rep is all mangy these days.”
the muffled explosion of their pursuers being “I don’t need you down there mucking “Beats rottin’ in here,” replied Stamp. “Let
blown into a thousand pieces of debris. things up,” said Spill. “I like you where you me work my way up, and we’ll see about my
“Hang tight,” called the captain. “We’re are.” rep later.” He tilted his head toward the control
panel on the wall. “The code’s 88168,” he

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 28

said. the Jasper’s cockpit as they landed. He heard The others must have had the firefight well
the sound of firing from around the house, in hand, because the captain relaxed his stance
Ixter raised his eyebrows and tilted the and bodies littered the field, but he couldn’t and lowered his weapon, taking a deep breath.
corners of his mouth downward in mock admi- figure out what had happened. Half the dead Seeing his opportunity, Stamp leapt forward and
ration. were wearing GPF uniforms, and the other half kicked the shooter from Spill’s hand, knocking
were unmistakably Ixter’s thugs. Had they both him backward onto the ground. When Stamp
“The captain of this vessel ain’t as slick as arrived in the same ship? put his heavy boot on Spill’s chest and shoved
he thinks,” grinned Stamp. the point of his shooter into the captain’s face,
He reached into the rear of his trousers Spill grimaced, but said nothing.
Ixter stepped to the control pad and tapped and drew the shooter he had tucked there. The
the keys. The red track lighting on the floor small storage shed he spotted to the left of the “You tried to kill me back on Candlevar,”
flickered, then went green, and Stamp stepped house seemed like an ideal place from which breathed Stamp, “but somebody was there to
out of the cell. to plug a few nasties while he tried to get a stop you. Now the situation’s reversed, and
“You got a shooter tucked?” asked Ixter. better perspective on the scene. there ain’t nobody here but the two of us.”

“Yeah, but I don’t reckon I’ll need it just He put his head down and scrambled toward “How’d you get out?” asked Spill.
yet.” the shed. Once there, he threw the door open
and huddled inside, peering out through the “Ixter came snoopin’ around the ship,” said
In a flash, Stamp grabbed Ixter by the neck loose wooden slats of the wall. Stamp. “I used my particular skills to break him
and lifted his thrashing body off the deck. The in half. You see, Captain? That’s what I am—a
little man clawed at Stamp’s massive forearms The squad must have made it inside. Five killer. I got no qualms about dealin’ death to
as the air was choked out of his throat. When or six men—three in GPF uniforms—had taken those who deserve it.”
Stamp slammed him against the wall and position in the front yard and were taking fire
from inside the house. Stamp pounded one of “You don’t want to pull that trigger,” said
blood spurted out from behind his head, Ixter’s
the slats out with his fist and aimed his shooter the captain. “Tell me what you do want, and
movements slowed appreciably.
at the nearest jeeper. Before he could get a let’s both walk out of this shed.”
“Yer messin’ with the wrong people this shot off, however, some movement at the rear “What I want,” said Stamp, “is a little mutual
time,” croaked Ixter, his eyes bulging. of the house caught his eye. trust between the two of us. See, I could kill
“I was about to say the same thing,” He drew back into the shadows and watched you here, and nobody would be the wiser, but
growled Stamp. He jerked his hands to the left, as Captain Spill slunk stealthily toward the I’m not going to do it, ‘cause I want to show
and heard the crack of Ixter’s scrawny neck shed. Stamp’s adrenaline began to rush. This you I’m the bigger man. I didn’t ask to be part
beneath his fingers. A familiar fire burning in was the moment he had been hoping for since of this crazy-ass conspiracy you’re mixed up in,
his belly now, he spat in the dead man’s face he took this weapon from the supply cabinet. but I believe I’m pullin’ my weight, and it’s time
and tossed the body across the deck. you recognized the fact.”
Spill disappeared from his line of sight for a
Wasting no time, he raced down to the moment, then suddenly dashed into the shed. Spill sighed and closed his eyes. “All right,
receiving deck and stepped into the lift. A Unaware of Stamp’s presence, he knelt down Stamp, if you put that thing away, I’ll get off
moment later he was outside, where the scene and checked the power supply on his shooter, your back. You keep your nose clean and we’ll
greeting him was chaotic. The air was thick then crept back to the open door and peered put our issues aside.”
with black, billowing smoke. Ixter’s ship was out. Stamp grinned and lowered his weapon.
burning—Spill must have gotten a shot off from

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
JASPER SQUAD
Episode 09: Strange Horizon! by Paul Christian Glenn Pg. 29

“See there?” he asked. “That’s all I needed to jagged stone in her fists, and she banged it but busied herself by making the burial site as
hear.” against the Galactic Patrol Force insignia on the pretty as possible. She tied planks together in
front of the ship. Her body was shaking with a makeshift marker, and collected flowers from
He stepped back off Spill’s chest, and the rage as she smashed the rock against the hull, the garden to adorn the grave. At dusk they
captain stood up. “Sounds like the fight’s over,” again and again, until the metal insignia finally gathered around the mound of lumpy dirt, and
he said. “Keep the shooter, but fix the firing cell broke loose and clattered to the ground. Spill gave Mr. Rey an official memorial service.
before you hurt yourself.”
With a final shriek, she spun and hurled the Stamp stood behind Jenna Rey, looking
The captain walked out of the shed, and stone toward the smoldering wreck of Ixter’s down at the wispy hair on the back of her neck.
Stamp looked down at his weapon. He pulled ship. She had let it down for the ceremony, and
back the loading panel and looked at the with her head bowed earthward, all but a few
mechanism. It was backwired. Had he pulled “Lieutenant!” called Spill. strands dangled down in front of her face.
the trigger, he would have blown his own head
off. “They did this, Captain.” She stalked toward As the captain gave the final rites, Stamp
Spill, the early morning breeze blowing her watched Rey’s shoulders stiffen, then begin
# long dark hair in wet strings across her face. to shake. Without thinking he reached up and
She stopped beside him, then looked over at put his big, dirty hand on her shoulder. With a
Rey and spat in the dirt. “They did this. I don’t weak cry, she reached up and grabbed two of
Jackaby was listlessly dragging bodies know what we are now, but we’re not them… his fingers with her tiny fist, squeezing so hard
into a pile out in the field as Stamp and Spill not anymore.” he thought her knuckles would break.
approached the house. Smoke hung over the
scene, and the stench of blood filled the air.
# Stamp wondered if she knew whose hand
“So what is this?” asked Stamp. she was holding.
The afternoon was spent burning bodies
“Ixter brought the GPF with him,” replied in a heaping pyre. Stamp and Melendez dug
Spill. “Or it was the other way around? Either a grave for Del at the edge of the bean field,
way, they were working together. I can’t for the while Jackaby slept and Spill did his awkward
life of me…” best to comfort the bereaved.
The captain’s voice trailed off, and Stamp At supper, Spill offered Kedran a bunk on
followed his gaze to see Rey slumped over a board the Jasper. “It’s not much,” said the
hulking body in the doorway of the house. captain, “and the ride gets bumpy from time Paul Christian Glenn
Kedran stood above her, his face in his hands. to time, but you’re welcome to fly with us ‘til
Stamp couldn’t hear the sobs, but the shake of you find someplace to settle.” Paul Christian Glenn is an Overlord (Co-
her shoulders told him everything he needed founder and Editor) of Ray Gun Revival
to know. Del was gone. “Thank you kindly, Sir,” replied the boy,
“but I ain’t leavin’ here. This place needs to magazine, and has been writing for as long
“Damn it all,” muttered Spill. be rebuilt. Harvest ain’t but half done, and as he can remember.
Father…” He didn’t finish the thought, and Spill
A loud clang shook Stamp from behind, and didn’t bring it up again. It should be noted, however, that he has a
he spun around to see Lieutenant Melendez
standing before the Jasper. She had a large, Rey remained silent throughout the day, notoriously short memory.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 30
Deuces Wild, Season Two
Chapter 3: Fractured Facets, Part Two
by L. S. King

T he news that Addie had been kidnapped
stopped Slap in his tracks halfway up the
ramp to the ship, but Tristan kept moving, his
so much. Diamond is the most widely used, for
it’s crystal purity, inherent strength, and clarity.
Synthetic sapphires, rubies and emeralds exist,
“She’d taken a cab to the city. He returned
with her jacket and this note.” Carter handed
it to Tristan.
mind kicking into hyper-drive. “Polk?” mainly for use in tuning industrial cutting lasers
and for medium-sized, megawatt-range laser Simple e-paper. Tristan read it: a mere
“Well, I’m not sure. It’s not his style, but weapons.” message for her father to bring an inordi-
who knows about his employer.” nate amount of E8 synthetic diamonds, gold,
Tristan listened in awe as Carter rambled and platinum to the planet in one week. The
Tristan snorted. “Which one?” without taking a breath. How long could he go minimum it would take for LeJeune to arrive.
on?
Carter paused, frowning. “Oh?” He handed it absently to Slap and entered
The engineer continued, “For synthetic the bridge, dropping into the pilot’s chair and
“Later.” Tristan stood at the hatch and after metals, we have SynTi, tri-titanium, synthetic rubbing his head. No instructions for him; no
all three men were inside, he hit the panel to aluminum, polysteel, and plasteel—which is word from Polk, the Confeds...or Dray. Could
close it. “What do you know about the kidnap- doped with other metals, yttrium for example, this be unrelated to him or to Carter? An actual
pers?” to prevent crystallization and yield a glassy mere kidnapping by some cheap goons? He
“They sent a note with her jacket. They metal, and can be turned into a foam and used twisted to look up at the engineer. “You might
want her father to pay the ransom in diamonds for lightweight and extremely durable, well, have hit on what they want the ransom items
and refined rare metals: gold and platinum.” anything. A potential downside is they’re still for, which could give us a few clues as to who
metal, and thus very conductive of electricity. they are. These materials—with the war, they’d
Tristan stopped and stared, his mind Polysteel and plasteel are used for everything sell big on the black market right now...”
braking and switching directions. Ransom— from starship hulls to structural building parts to
not a hostage? “Wait. What?” public and private transportation to handheld With a look of disbelief, Carter opened
tools and weapons to decorative pieces. his mouth as if to contradict Tristan, then
Slap waved a hand. “But aren’t there slowly shut it. “Yeah. They would. And the
synthgems? Is there that much money to be “And as for natural metals, platinum Confeds don’t care who they buy from for their
made with jewels and metals when we can and gold are used to form circuitry, not to gadgets.” He scratched his head. “You think it
make what we want?” mention—” wasn’t Polk?”
“Oh yes,” Tristan said. Tristan waved a hand to stop Carter’s “I think it’s possible it’s unrelated. However,
babbling as he began walking to the bridge. there are other possibilities...” Tristan leaned
“Well, synthgems, but we don’t have that He’d have to wait for another time to see how back. “LeJeune was somehow involved in the
many synthetic metals.” Carter’s eyes lit up. long the man could talk. “I need to do some Mordas. It could be he also had off-world con-
“But see, Slap, even with synth, there’s a huge research. Give me the details.” nections. This could be a way to get to him.”
market out there. As a matter of fact, there are
so many uses for synthgems, such as thermal Carter and Slap both ran to keep up. Carter sank into the other seat. “Yeah.
conductivity, data storage—we rely on them for Could be...but how do we find out who really

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 31

is behind it?” abilities to pass on news or find out what my you?”
clients might want to know, yes.”
Tristan stared at the wall, going over possi- Tristan finished wiping the sweat off his
bilities. “I think...the best thing I can do is force “Good. It’s come to my attention that a face. “You’re wrong. I do care. It’s bad for
their hand.” young lady named LeJeune has been detained business to allow a client’s daughter to get
by some very boorish types hoping to benefit killed.” He tossed the towel at Slap. “You either
Slap, leaning against the door, crossed by extorting her father. Now,” Tristan paused trust me, or you don’t.”
his arms. “Now, wait. I ain’t sure what you’re for effect, “I would appreciate it if you could
planning, but regardless of what you feel put feelers out and find out who these unen- As Tristan crossed to a long, rolled-out mat,
about Addie, I won’t have you putting her in lightened individuals are.” Slap threw the towel down. “He makes me so
danger.” mad!”
“I take it you have a personal interest in
Tristan’s mouth twitched in a smile, the this situation?” “But he’s right. There’s nothing we can do
ancient story “The Ransom of Red Chief” going until we hear something.”
through his mind. “Considering everything, “Perceptive, as usual.”
I wonder who’s in danger.” He took a deep Slap started to retort, then stopped and
breath. “But no, I think this is the best way to “I’ll see what I can do.” sighed. “I feel so helpless.”
get her back in one piece.” Tristan broke the connection and turned to “We all do. But trusting him is our best bet.
“What is the best way?” Carter asked. face the two worried men—Carter most likely Her best bet.”
because of the chance of Polk’s involvement,
“I’m going to turn over some rocks, and see and Slap, undoubtedly, for that girl. “Now, we “Yeah.” Slap scratched his head, scowling.
what crawls out.” Tristan accessed the comm wait.” “Yeah...” He watched his friend flip end-over-
network and the code for a local fence who end down the length of the mat. Waiting
knew him. When the man’s slender, lined face # sucked like a black hole.
appeared in front of him, Tristan lifted his chin
slightly. Slap stared at Tristan with his mouth open #
in astonishment as the wiry man whipped
The fence’s brow ridged, then he smiled. Carter stuck his head around the doorway.
around the bar. “How can you do that with
“Mr. DeVry.” “Got something coming in for you, Captain.”
Addie in danger?” He turned to Carter, who
“Glad to know you remember me, was fiddling with something inside a panel on Tristan rose from the table, Slap following
Antreas.” the wall. “Can you believe him?” on his heels.
“Always good to see you. I take it you just Tristan stopped in a handstand on top of The two men stood out of line of sight as
arrived with some merchandise?” the bar, whipped around it again, let go of the Tristan sat in the pilot’s chair and hit the comm
bar, spun through the air, then landed feet-first panel. When Antreas’ image appeared in front
“Arrived, yes, but it’s not merchandise on the mat. He straightened and grabbed a of Tristan, the man’s grave, lined face gave
I’m interested in. It’s information. Is your towel off the nearby rack. “Would it do her any away something was very wrong. “Give me
network as extensive as your entrepreneurial good for me to pace and worry and wring my good news, Antreas.”
expertise?” hands?”
“As far as anyone knows, she’s still alive.
Antreas grinned. “I pride myself in my “You don’t care if she’s hurt or killed, do

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 32

The people who took her...um, well, word has # Carter hesitated, his eyes on the table.
gotten around that you’re the one who single- After two false starts, he finally said, “I can’t let
handedly thwarted the Confederation invasion Slap and Carter sat across from Tristan at someone else suffer and perhaps die because
of Eridani Prime.” a table in the lounge watching him silently. of me.” He looked up, his expression fearful
He twirled his cup slowly, thinking. “This is a but committed. “What is your plan?”
Tristan leaned back, keeping a straight face. dilemma. I don’t know which one of you they
“No, that was my partner.” want.” He took a sip and frowned; the tisane “I think a preemptive strike is our best
was cold now. He set the cup down with a sigh. bet—for us and her. Polk is our card in the hole.
Antreas blinked. “Partner? Ahh.” He just doesn’t know it yet.”
“And, in either event, having you come with
A grunt, snort, and several soft shushes me is risking your lives.” “Who’s Polk?” Slap asked.
were all Tristan heard as Carter attempted to
keep Slap quiet. “We can’t do nothing,” Slap said. “A man with many secrets,” Tristan replied.
Tristan shook his head with a slight chuckle. “And a person with secrets is a person manipu-
“And he’s more upset than I am over the lated.”
missing young lady.” “Yes we can. But the thought of that pleases
me about as little as it probably pleases either “Before we go any further,” Carter said, “I
“Uh, well, the people responsible got cold of you.” He paused. “However, I have an idea.” want some answers about Polk. You said he
feet and were preparing to return her, but...” has more than one employer?”
The fence squirmed and swallowed. “The Carter eyed him warily. “What do you have
Confeds kidnapped her from them. Since I’m in mind, Captain?” Tristan nodded. “His ‘legitimate’ job is with
already go-between, I was dragged in. They He continued slowly. “Things have gone the Cirque. But as a young man he became a
want me to tell you they want to meet with from facile to probably fatal as far as Addie gambler, which inevitably led to debt and put
you.” goes. If the Confeds want us, they won’t him at the mercy of a...very unscrupulous and
release her in any event. So we have to strike dangerous man. Polk had little choice but to
Tristan felt a throbbing begin behind his begin to do dirty little assignments for this
eyes. Not the Confeds...not again. “Where and boldly. We will all be in danger either way.” He
bored into Carter’s eyes. “Unless we just cut man.” Tristan rubbed his neck. “How and when
when?” he also began working for the Confeds I don’t
our losses and leave.”
know.”
“They said to come to the spaceport’s
west gate market at midnight and bring your Slap’s mouth dropped open. “Cut losses?
Cut losses? How can you mean that? You’re “That’s very interesting...” Carter
friend.” murmured. “I don’t know much about him, but
talking about just leaving her here to be
murdered?” always got the idea the Confeds had some dirt
“Friend? Is that all they said?” on him.”
“Yeah. Sorry.” Antreas licked his lips and “It is an option. I won’t proceed without
knowing it’s what you both want to do.” “Dirt sticks to him like iron filings to a
shook his head. “Good luck.” magnet, so it wouldn’t surprise me.” Tristan
The image faded. “You don’t have to ask, Captain,” Carter rose. “Let me see what I can do about getting
murmured. this card to play in our hand.”
Tristan sat back, staring into space. Friend?
Which one? Slap—or Carter? “Even though you know the outcome if they #
get you back in their custody?” Tristan asked.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 33

Antreas shook his head. “I’ve put out word Ha, things indeed hadn’t changed. He didn’t He started to reach into his vest, but
about this Polk twice and gotten no answer. He reply, which she perceived as an answer and stopped and slowly withdrew his hand. No,
must be deep in hiding.” He pursed his lips, a smiled wryly. “No wonder he’s ‘sick’ tonight.” not yet. He stared at the palm plate, his pulse
smile in his eyes. “Perhaps he knows you are She sighed. “You can try talking to the midway pounding. Knowing it was foolish, he pressed
looking for him.” boss, Evžen Walczyk.” his hand against it. No surprise when nothing
happened.
“A possibility. Let me know if you hear Tristan’s spine stiffened, and through
anything.” clenched teeth, he growled, “No.” With a sharp inhale, he shook his head.
Foolishness. He had no time for the past; he
“I will.” She stared at him after the outburst of that had to save Addie’s neck, all their necks. He
one word. Swallowing bile, he started to leave, pulled out one of his tools, and in seconds, he
Tristan cut the communication and sat but did a double-take of her wheel. He couldn’t was inside the back yard. He strode quickly to
back. He had to get to Polk, and he had to do resist. He leaned close, and she did the same. the midway ship.
it now. And he knew where the weasel was. “Does Rabinovich know Walczyk has gaffed
A desperate situation was sinking him into a games?” The smells as he entered brought another
desperate past. Not that he was concerned cascade of memories. He accessed the directory
with the local authorities, even though murder The woman blinked, going pale. and found Polk’s room. As he wound through
had no statute of limitations. He sighed deeply, the ship, a small, fair-haired boy came around
calculating the odds of getting out of this Knowing she’d pass on that tidbit to Evžen, the curve of a corridor and started. “What are
without confrontations. It didn’t look good. which would make him squirm, Tristan smugly you doing on my ship, groundie?” the child
left her and wandered the midway. As he exclaimed in Polish.
He looked up at Carter and Slap. “I have to noticed the come-in start, he headed for the
go out. Keep the comm manned, and be ready “backyard,” where no outsiders were allowed. “Go back to your mama, boy,” Tristan
to leave if I give the word.” replied in the same language.
He stared up at the ships beyond the dome;
# one carried the main troupe, and the other, the The child’s eyes widened, whether at
midway ship, where his prey was most likely Tristan’s ability to speak what was considered
skulking. The fence-field now barred him from a Cirque language, the authority in his voice,
The crowds roiled and shoved, kids shouted, getting closer to the backyard. He had always or something else, Tristan didn’t know. But the
barkers called, music blared, and again, the been called groundie behind his back, and boy did turn and run back the way he came.
smells above all—damp sawdust, fried foods— sometimes to his face. He had worked his first
combined to bring back memories. Tristan seventeen years to prove he wasn’t. All in vain, The ship would soon be alerted to an
pushed through the mob of people and chose for now, he was; he could go no further. intruder. With almost everyone involved with
a young, blonde, game jointee whom he did the show or midway, few were here, but still
not recognize. “I’m looking for Jacek Polk,” he At least, not officially. his time was limited. He sprinted toward his
called to her over the clamor. destination, one floor up. He overrode the
But he would wager he could still get in. He
“He’s not here.” door code and slipped into Polk’s room. One
stared at the gate, the idea of this challenge person occupied the cabin. The sandy-haired,
making his heart race with anticipation. Surely
“Where can I find him?” heavyset man jumped to his feet as the door
that was the reason, not the fact he’d be on slid shut, his pudgy face turning white. He
Her eyes flicked quickly over him. “Poker? the other side of this fence for the first time wore his suit pants, but his shirt was askew and
No, a debt.” since he’d...been forced to leave. sweat-stained.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 34

“Wh-what are you doing here?” Polish. to say, about me or anyone. As a gambler, he is
invalidated as a witness by the Talmud.”
“You’re going to help us get that girl back.” “More debts, Polk?” asked the gangly one
on the left. Two mouths dropped open simultaneously.
“You’re crazy!” “That is what Zvi would say.”
The one on the right lowered his pistol
“Does Dray know you work for the slightly, his blue eyes showing hesitation. A new voice came from the open hatch,
Confeds?” “Should we stop him, Andrzej?” a deep voice that had haunted his dreams
and sounded like home. “Yes, that is what Zvi
Polk’s mouth opened and closed without a “Polk is Cirque. We can’t let a groundie take would say.” An old man, leaning on a cane,
sound, his hands shaking. him.” came through the door. His black hair was now
“And does Zvi? Interesting what might almost all white, and his solid frame seemed
They talked as if Tristan couldn’t under-
happen if all your employers found out about much smaller than Tristan remembered. But
stand their language—the first one he had ever
each other.” his dark eyes were as vital as ever. In Russian
learned. “I’m no groundie,” Tristan replied. he said, “Hello, boy.”
“And this debt goes back to before either of
“You wouldn’t!” you were born.” Tristan’s throat closed and his chest felt
“Have you ever known me to bluff?” They exchanged glances, and the one on squeezed. He couldn’t breathe, and never,
never had he felt so close to tears.
“But I don’t know how to get her away from the right asked, “Who are you? How do you
the Confeds.” know Cirque?”

“You can tell me what you know. Where are Polk twisted in Tristan’s grip. “He’s a
they holding her, what do they—no, who do murderer. He was banned from the Cirque. You
they want, and what do they have planned for have to help me!”
their midnight tryst with me?” Tristan shoved Polk’s arm up high, making
Polk licked his lips and began to talk. When the gambler grunt. “You can kill him to get me,
he finished, Tristan grabbed him by the neck. or let us go.”
“Now, let’s go.” “No!” Polk yelled.
“What? Where? No! Let go of me.” Both boys hesitated. Good. Tristan pressed
Tristan tightened his grip. “We’re in this his advantage. “Is he worth it? The headaches
together now. Do you understand?” he hissed. he’s caused everyone all these years? And if
things go well, he’ll be released in any event.”
Polk gibbered for a moment but had no
choice as Tristan escorted him out. They had Andrzej smiled. “Mister, we might be more
almost gotten to the door of the ship when likely to let you go if you keep him.”
two blond young men, boys really, stepped out To catch up on previous episodes of
“But what will Zvi say? To let a groundie the adventures of Slap and Tristan, visit:
to block his path, holding PBGs. Tristan quickly take one of us?” http://loriendil.com/DW.php
locked Polk’s arm up behind his back and set
him in front as a shield. “Zvi will likely say ‘good riddance’ if he Deuces Wild is dedicated to the memory of
doesn’t come back,” Tristan said. “Zvi would my best friend; my inspiration for an enduring
“He’s kidnapping me,” Polk shrieked in also say you should not listen to what Polk has friendship...http://loriendil.com/Starsky/
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
Deuces Wild, Fractured Facets, Part Two by L. S. King Pg. 35

L. S. King
L.S. began martial arts training over thirty
years ago, and owned a karate school for
a decade. When on the planet, she lives
in Delaware with her husband, Steve, and
their youngest child. She enjoys garden­
ing, soap making, reading, and all things
Myst. She also likes Looney Tunes, the
color purple, and is a Zorro aficionado,
which might explain her love for swords
and cloaks.

Like Londo Mollari, she wants to know
if the Hokey Pokey is really what it’s all
about.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008
 Pg. 36
The RGR Time Capsule
February 15 - February 29, 2008
Sci-Fi news from the Ray Gun Revival forums
RGR Date: February 16, 2007 these quality series and will allow the respec- tidbit about a possible Whedon / Glau col-
Chuck, Heroes, and Life reupped for 2008 tive producers to get a head start on their laboration side project.
http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1762 creative arc for next season,” said Graboff.
“As a result, they give us a lot to build on as Several people asked Glau why she always
we point to next year’s schedule.” plays somewhat robotic killing machines,
Now that the writer’s strike is over, we’re and she didn’t really have
due to see more from three of much of an answer. She said
my favorite shows of last year. her Terminator was similar to
http://www.aintitcool.com/ River, her character on Firefly,
node/35610 because both are “isolated
in the way they relate to the
BURBANK - February 13, 2008 world.” But a key difference
- NBC has picked up its fresh- is that River uses martial arts,
man drama series “Chuck” whereas her Terminator just
and “Life” -- as well as its hit uses brute force. So she’s hav-
“Heroes” -- for the 2008-09 ing to un-learn some stuff.
season, it was announced
today by Ben Silverman, Co- Glau is still hoping to create
Chairman, NBC Entertainment a ballet with composer/writer
and Universal Media Studios, Joss Whedon, but she’s not
and Marc Graboff, Co-Chair- sure when it’ll happen. “It
man, NBC Entertainment and was going to work out better
Universal Media Studios. when we were on strike. We
wanted to do the ballet for
All three series will have major years because Joss writes his
re-launch campaigns next year. own music and I do my own
dancing, so i thought it was
“We are thrilled to be bringing an amazing idea. But now he’s
back the high-energy dra- been thrown into an amaz-
mas ‘Chuck’ and Life’ for next ing project [the Dollhouse TV
season,” said Silverman. “Ad- show] and i have to go back to
ditionally, we will be saving and re-launching RGR Date: February 25, 2007 work. But we’re hoping to do it this season.
our #1 drama and most successful franchise, Joss Whedon / Summer Glau Planning An Opera? We’re nailing down concepts,” Glau said.
‘Heroes,’ so that it will run in all original epi- http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1779
sodes in the fourth quarter.” There’s a lot here about Summer Glau as the
terminatrix in the Sarah Connor Chronicles,
“These pickups are a sign of our confidence in but I, of course, was most interested in the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 41, March 01, 2008

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