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Issue 42 March 15, 2008

 Pg. 2
Ray Gun Revival
Table of Contents
Overlords (Founders / Editors):
Johne Cook, L. S. King, Paul Christian Glenn 2 Table of Contents
Venerable Staff: 3 Overlords’ Lair
A.M. Stickel - Managing Copyeditor
Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening
5 The Space Knights T’mplaar
ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee by R. Cruz
Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand
L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse,
12 The Great Escapade
webmistress by Alice M. Roelke
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle
washer
17 Featured Artist: Francis Tsai
20 The Adventures of the Sky Pirate
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors): Chapter 21, For Blood and Glory
Scott M. Sandridge
John M. Whalen by Johne Cook
David Wilhelms
Shari L. Armstrong 34 Memory Wipe
Jack Willard Chapter 19, The World of Fire
Serial Authors:
Sean T. M. Stiennon
by Sean T. M. Stiennon
John M. Whalen
M Keaton
41 The RGR Time Capsule
Lee S. King March 1 - March 14, 2008
Paul Christian Glenn
Johne Cook

Cover Art: “Can You Fix It?” by Francis Tsai

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Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008 
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Overlords’ Lair

One of the things that fascinates me about the reclaim a relationship with her as his singular shut out the world while I write. Or would,
writing life is the unexpected—and sometimes motivation, and that kept me watching long if I had a real cave or office. However, my
unintended—collaboration that occurs between after others gave up on the show or on him. computer at home takes up one entire wall of
an author and his muse, his surroundings, his what used to be the dining room. So in lieu of
friends, and his fans. So to make a long story short, I took no offense a physical cave, I create a virtual one with good
when my friend disliked one of the characters in noise-cancelling headphones. I pop those on
John Gardner has said that an author is ‘a TSP. However, that discussion came at a crucial and the rest of the world goes away for awhile,
gregarious loner.’ That describes me very well. time in the development of this latest chapter. leaving me free to lose myself in the characters,
I like being around other people, and I always I’d actually written the first draft of this section the situations, the ramifications of invention.
benefit from rubbing elbows with others. For all the way back in November of 2004, and when
the author, anything can serve as inspiration, it came time to update it for 2008, I discovered I’m immensely pleased with how our
grist for examination. that the action sequence I’d drafted no longer collaboration turned out. I may have an edge
made sense. I was casting about for what to do because I know what the ultimate character
For me, the impetus this time around came next when I had my discussion with Dan. arcs are, but how these gaps are filled in is as
from my friend Dan, my minister, who is a tried- much a mystery to me as my readers, and I’m
and-true fan of The Adventures of the Sky Pirate. And then the miracle occurred (a shout-out fascinated by the things I see that perhaps others
We were talking about this latest chapter in the to D$, if you’re listening, heh.) I realized that don’t, at least not yet. I trust that when it all
saga and he mentioned in passing how much he what I was facing was the perfect opportunity is revealed, this collaboration between author
disliked one character in particular. As a fan of to get inside the mind of said character a and reader is a mutually fulfilling project.
other works by other authors, I know how that little more, and that started the sequence of
goes. Everybody’s temperament is different— falling dominoes that led, in short order, to the Thanks, Dan, for sharing your opinion, and
everybody values slightly different things. I overdue completion of this latest chapter. thank you, the readers, for sharing in this
think of the reality tv series Big Brother on CBS. collaboration with us.
This last season, many viewers—including my It was a collaboration of ideas where what I
wife—hated Evel Dick Donato. However, I was had originally planned on doing was subverted The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz
intrigued by his focus on the game and his love by a plot device that no longer worked and The young Space Knight called Grey wanted a
for his estranged daughter. As an a author, I was by a discussion that revealed the appropriate simple, routine mission, but what he got was
fascinated by the brash, brazen, but ultimately replacement element. much more than he ever imagined.
cunning way he played the game. I didn’t like Once I knew where I was going with the new
him because he was likable, but because he direction for the story, the rest was pretty cut- “Greetings, Brother Turin,” Grey called over
did what he did despite being likable. In the and-dried. As a guy, I retreat to my cave and his com-system. “Please explain your actions
end, I saw love for his daughter and a desire to at the Huygen and Keel treaty signing, so I

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008 
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may stand beside you and give supporting around the tiny metal room; the prisoner addict. He’d leap when he should walk,
testimony during the hearing.” winced. Baxter sat down opposite the man. innovate when he should stand pat, attack
“I suppose you’ve been informed of your when he should retreat.
Sir Turin was a Quest Knight. Of the ten rights?”
thousand active T’mplaar knights this small And where the captain went...
faction were undoubtedly the most spiritual. “Only that I didn’t—” began the man in
Upon heeding the call, they dedicated their a twangy voice. His head snapped up. Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire
every waking moment to greater study and “Jem! It’s you.” A smile suffused his long by Sean T. M. Stiennon
mastery of their connection with T’mplaar features. Takeda finds an unexpected ally on Caulthor,
metal. Some even possessed the ability to Zartsi and Esheera are at the mercy of the
transform their armor beyond the standard Baxter blinked.
Suto Enclave Council, and Sherri fights
three configurations. The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, madness imprisoned in isolation.
For Grey there simply had to be a logical For Blood and Glory by Johne Cook
“On your mark,” she said to Milsu.
reason why Brother Turin was present Alacrity’s R&R is interrupted by an
during the shuttle’s explosion and the overwhelming fleet of Sylvan warships. One Zartsi stepped back, along with Ratch and
young T’mplaar was obligated to discern of the crew thinks they can even the odds the other guards, as Rizzik stepped into
the brother knight’s rationale before with a little rash action. the polished circle. It was no more than
notifying the proper authorities. Protocol twelve feet in diameter—no room for
demanded no less. Captain Flynn whirled to search the horizon. much maneuvering. Esheera splayed out
The sails of the enemy ships were distant her feet.
The silent Turin’s response was a vertical but distinctive. The Sylvan war fleet was
sweep of his broadsword, aimed at the sailing straight toward Roarke’s Island. “Begin,” Milsu said.
young brother knight’s head, barely missing
him. “That was fast,” murmured Flynn. “Too fast.” Then Rizzik charged her.
His black eyes hardened. He stroked his jaw
The Great Escapade by Alice M. Roelke as he did when deep in thought.
Collaboration is where you find it. Keep
The prisoner claims to be Baxter’s buddy. From Clarissa said, “Do we flee or do we fight?” your eyes and ears open—you never know
a parallel universe. when the next miracle will occur.
Eggplant watched Flynn turn to Clarissa
A single bulb hung from the ceiling in the and he saw, in the space of that moment, Johne Cook
windowless room. A guard stood by the the fire light behind Flynn’s eyes, sparkling Overlord, RGR
table, and a seated man. The prisoner’s fair as they did in the face of overwhelming Breezeway, Wisconsin
head bowed as if from the weighty glare of odds. If Eggplant didn’t know better, he’d
the bulb. He didn’t look up. think the captain was crazy.
Baxter nodded to the guard, who saluted But he did know better. It was worse than
and left. The door’s slam reverberated insanity—the captain was reckless, a thrill

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 5

The Space Knights T’mplaar
by R. Cruz
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. fingers and aggressive nature, were extremely and xenophobia even more.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses, 1842 poor and socially disadvantaged. Their homes
and buildings varied from simple wood-like Suddenly, to his right, Grey noticed a
Surveyor Knight shacks with rusty metal roofs to well main- narrow yard filled with a phalanx of clothes
lines with bed linens and garments fastened
T
tained stone structures. All suffered from a
he red sun was at its zenith just as the on them. It wasn’t what he wanted exactly but
similar malaise of a lack of unpolluted water,
religious reenactment was reaching its beggars couldn’t be choosers. Just as the rabid
electricity, sanitation and other basic services.
crescendo. The church leader spun with mob arrived, there was a brief flash of blinding
the freshly decapitated head grasped firmly He diverted from the steady stream of white light. It would be hours later when the
within her talon-like fingers and displayed it people in the crowded alley as soon as he crowd begrudgingly dispersed. So ended the
to the faithful. The elevated stage where the spotted a vacant small alcove on a side street. chase for the face changing ‘monster’ with the
ceremony had played out helped all the people Rather than wait until he was airborne, Grey P’ranians accrediting the entire experience to
filling the town square observe, with bated ordered his face field to lower slightly, which various and, at times, contradicting explana-
breath, each step of the long and detailed would help relay a clear message back to the tions of hallucinations egged on by a child’s
ritual. Now their chorus roar of approval filled nearest T’mplaar Outpost. He wished to inform hyper-imagination.
the air and gave the priest her cue to continue them that the surveying mission on P’ran was
executing the other four sacrificial gifts, before ending early. It was a huge mistake! A young #
a reasonable facsimile of a downed space ship, P’ranian, similar in age and size to an eight
as it had been ordained by their god during year old human, spotted him accidentally. Blessed silence, he sighed happily to
every harvest season. Upon seeing the obviously alien creature, the himself.
P’ranian opened a mouth filled with blade-like
Hidden by long shadows, in a darkened alley flat teeth and let out a terrified high-pitched Already the angry crowd’s bloodthirsty
just northeast of the square, a hooded figure scream. cries and the pungent smell of P’ran’s putrid
shook his head in disgust. Grey, the T’mplaar alleys were fading into the recesses of his mind.
Space Knight, had seen all he had needed The reaction to the child’s alarmed cry was Only the whoosh of the wind could be heard
to see, and decided to leave the planet. The swift; P’ranians opened windows searching as he passed from the planet’s troposphere
cloak he had chosen to mingle with the P’rana for its origin or stopped walking and charged to the stratosphere. The T’mplaar armor’s
was superficially similar to that of a cleric. This towards the sound. Grey spun, sprinting as fast Flight Configuration gave him the aspect of a
garb, coupled with a “False Face” field, gave as he could, searching for an isolated corner in humanoid shaped, sleek silver bullet as the
him freedom to walk unchallenged through the dirty back alleyways somewhere. Within armor’s anti-grav impulse field took advantage
the overcrowded and filthy streets of the city. seconds the vicious crowd had begun gaining of the planet’s magnetic field and rotation and
on him. The knight required only a few micro- flung him towards outer space at a speed of
Just like a slum on any other developing seconds of solitude or else he would be forced thirty-six thousand meters per second.
planet, Tupigua City was a heavily populated to transform into his T’mplaar armor in their
urban area characterized by substandard presence and witnessing that act would exas- Just as he crossed the planet’s Karman
housing and squalor. The fierce inhabitants, perate the P’ranians’ already extreme violence Line, and into the cold star filled vacuum, Grey
despite their black lidless eyes, talon-like

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The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 6

mentally ordered his face mask to re-configure retrieved from Hope’s wreckage seems to be Moreau, a Way minister, a few decades
into observation mode. A thin, unbreakable the best explanation of P’ran’s enormous leap older than Grey, owned an ever present smile
tinted glass bubble formed around his head, in science and technology from their Dark Ages, and friendly eyes. Wearing a wistful expression,
allowing him to enjoy all of the celestial beauty. at the time of Hope’s launching and subsequent he said, “What an exciting time those years of
The corners of his mouth turned upwards as disappearance, to the post-industrialization expansion were! If only the Protectorate had
he made a wish of peace for P’ran. Grey was city and culture I witnessed first hand.” met and allied itself with the T’mplaar knights
still grinning widely as his armor automati- back then. So many ships filled with coura-
cally vented tachyon particles, opening a tiny The male senior knight nodded to his geous families ready to explore and colonize
wormhole, and he sped to home base gently female counterpart, and they both deferred to worlds beyond our boundaries. Solving the
carried by the currents of a trans-warp stream. the Protectorate representative who nodded in mystery of those few arks we lost is always of
agreement also. Father Moreau then addressed great comfort to our High-Father and the Pro-
the young knight, “The unfortunate incident tectorate citizens.”
with the P’ranian child not withstanding, we
Outpost Inquiry thank you for your detailed briefing. Do you “T’mplaars are always honored to be of
The enormous star shaped space station, have any final recommendations Sir Grey?” service,” Grey responded.
T’mplaar Outpost Ten, was more than a rest Grey replied curtly, “A quarantine beacon “Sir Grey, forgive my curiosity, I was
spot for weary knights traveling the fringes should be placed in orbit around the planet and wondering what your immediate plans were?”
of the frontier of the Hahn Protectorate, it periodical probes sent to monitor and measure
was a bejeweled beacon of civilization in the cultural contamination.” Shrugging his shoulders casually, the young
this otherwise lawless and harsh quadrant knight explained, “I was thinking of passing by
of known space. Two senior knights and one All three nodded again and the male senior the outpost’s mezzanine and catching up with
Hahn Protectorate representative sat with T’mplaar knight rose, “For the record: this some old friends, then rest in my quarters a
inscrutable faces on a slightly elevated bench, concludes our inquiry into the early termina- little. Why do you ask?”
while Grey stood on a center dais, his T’mplaar tion of the survey mission on P’ran. This board
ring touching a lighted oval pedestal that was agrees that you acted in a manner that exem- “Oh, nothing really, I was going to invite
downloading his holographic briefing. plifies the best of T’mplaar codes of conduct you to a late evening Mass being held at the
and Hahn Protectorate established directives. outpost’s chapel but I see you already have
“...as evidenced by the scans I took at You are excused, Sir Grey.” plans,” Father Moreau patted Grey on the back,
the square where the Death to the Demons “Perhaps, another time?”
Above ritual was taking place—” Grey pointed The knights began to vacate the briefing
with his free hand to the various highlighted room but Father Moreau lagged behind, “Sure,” Grey said, as the Way minister shook
items on the holo-screen, “—you can see that gesturing to the young knight, “Sir Grey, may I his hand and took his leave. That was odd, Grey
buried beneath the surface are metal fragment have a word, please?” mulled. Although he was socially familiar with
remains that match metallurgic compounds the Hahn cleric, they were not close friends. It
characteristic to the Space Ark Hope. The “Of course Father,” Grey bowed his head was certainly not unheard of for Way clergy to
ceremony itself was, I believe, a reenactment slightly. The knight wore his armor in its Repose attempt to convert a T’mplaar knight. Shrugging
detailing the ultimate fate of the survivors of Configuration. Its appearance this time was a his shoulders again, Grey walked towards the
the crash when confronted by the primitives of silk-like smooth silver tunic; grey jumpsuit with lift that would take him to the mezzanine level
that era. a metallic sheen and no headpiece. “I wish I and then decided that instead of resting he just
had brought back better news.” might volunteer and take another assignment.
“Cultural contamination from items

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 7

But something routine and boring this time, the shuttle. Bits of metal and shrapnel from Another brief check of his surroundings
he added. the aft section were peeling off! The T’mplaar helped Grey discover his T’mplaar ring on
knight instantly tried to raise the captain on the night table beside the bed. The knight
his communicator, but after a few precious replaced the ring on his finger, reestablish-
seconds, there was no answer. ing his connection to the T’mplaar metal. He
Knight Escort instantly felt better. Tentatively placing his
Diverting immediately towards the bare feet on the cool floor, he paused momen-
I am really bored, Grey lamented ironi- obviously distressed ship, he noticed how hair tarily on the edge of the bed. A short wave
cally to himself. Several times his mind drifted -line fractures began to appear and spread of light-headedness and vertigo stopped him.
off and he had to catch himself from reliving frighteningly fast
childhood memories aboard the cargo freighter They were followedthroughout the fuselage. When he was confident he found his balance
by tiny explosions, which and strength again, he crept quietly towards
his parents operated. cascaded into an enormous blast. As the full the door. Peeking through a small crack, he
Flying in his armor at this range, several destructive force wave caught him in its wake, surmised he had awoken late at night or early
thousand meters from starboard, the knight Grey sunk into unconsciousness. His thoughts, morning because of the almost complete lack
could observe the entire, fin shaped, diplo- before blacking out, were of the loss of life, and of medical staff.
matic shuttle. Aboard the five decks of multi- he prayed that their deaths would not signify a
colored spacecraft, along with the compliment failure at achieving a new era of peace. Perfect, he thought. For what he was about
of crew, were two important delegates of the to do, the vacant terminal in his room would
recently ended interplanetary war. The Pro- serve nicely. Sitting at the tidy workstation,
tectorate ministry, after years of negotiation, Grey placed his ring against an active monitor
Battle on the Ring
had accomplished a minor miracle. Before with the Outpost’s medical emblem and quickly
the intervention and the recently signed non- For what seemed to be an eternity, from barked instructions. As he perused files, he
aggression treaty the most the Huygen and Grey’s perspective, he had fallen into a limbo sadly confirmed that the Huygen and Keel were
the Keel would agree upon would be that they comprised of time-lapse vignettes. Faces he indeed on the brink of restarting their war. So
came from planets within the same system. recognized, and others he did not, hovered much for valuing the sacrifice of the lives lost,
Such a polarized nature on so many petty of throughout a fog aggravated by the effects of he thought angrily.
issues had fueled their war for centuries. recuperative drugs and short bouts of semi- Grey located—then opened—the video log
consciousness. Some seemingly detached
The escort mission that Grey volunteered voices tried to be soothing: “Don’t worry, Sir of the shuttle’s explosion downloaded from his
for, so far, had gone by the numbers. It was Grey there was nothing you could have done.” armor’s memory cells. With the destruction
a simple drive around the “block.” The knight Others informative: “It seems a suicide bomber happening so swiftly, there had been something
took solace that as soon as the shuttle docked, sacrificed himself in order to stop the truce.” the young T’mplaar had noticed at the time
at the space station strategically located at but had been unable to confirm. He froze the
coordinates between both worlds, he could When Grey finally awoke, he was alone in image time index just when his sensors noticed
open a trans-warp stream and go home. And his room at the Outpost’s sick bay. His throat shrapnel detaching itself from the aft section of
this time he would lock himself inside his was parched and he instinctively reached with the shuttle. Taking advantage of the Outpost’s
quarters and rest until called for. a shaky hand toward a glass of water already superior amplification software capabilities,
placed for him. He gulped greedily, slowly the knight pinpointed and enhanced a section
A chirp announcing a scanning alert quenching his pressing need. His mind imme- of debris that partially hid something...uniden-
activated a display screen within his face diately felt clearer, Grey then noticed he was tified. After closer scrutiny, the revelation of
helmet and Grey focused more intensely on wearing a patient’s hospital garments. the partly hidden object stunned the knight

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The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 8

long after he confirmed its veracity. metal. Some even possessed the ability to Knight needed.
transform their armor beyond the standard
# three configurations. Turin scored a devastating roundhouse kick,
striking Grey squarely on his red, phoenix crest
For Grey there simply had to be a logical chest plate, which sent him and his sword flying
Travel through the trans-warp stream was reason why Brother Turin was present during into the dirt. The silent foe wasted no time
easily traceable, and once an entry point was the shuttle’s explosion and the young T’mplaar and pounced, his sword positioned overhead
discovered, an exit point could be quickly deter- was obligated to discern the brother knight’s with the intent to deal a final blow. The young
mined. This particular exit point led Grey to a rationale before notifying the proper authori- T’mplaar rolled sideways at the last possible
star system of gas giants, and specifically to the ties. Protocol demanded no less. second, the point of the broadsword scratch-
ring of one on its farthest edge. The colorful ing his armor and imbedding itself to the hilt
ring, surrounding the dour appearing gas The silent Turin’s response was a vertical on the sandy ground.
giant’s equator, had many gaps and ringlets of sweep of his broadsword, aimed at the young
iron oxide, silica rock, even ice particles ranging brother knight’s head, barely missing him. Grey pounced on Turin and both grappled,
in size from smallest specks of dust to sizes as trying to gain the upper hand from each other.
large as shuttles. The unnamed planet’s strong Immediately, the young knight’s sense of The silent knight, however, proved too strong.
gravitational pull had also captured several decorum vanished, replaced by his training, With hardly any effort, he broke an arm lock
house-sized asteroids, and it was towards one battle experience and innate survival skills. and flipped Grey on his back, allowing Turin
of these types of rocks that the T’mplaar knight Grey grimly realized that dialogue was no enough time to retrieve his sword. The young
was headed. longer possible with this highly-respected knight, however, also had reclaimed his weapon
Quest Knight. He faced, instead, a finely-honed and stood ready.
Grey landed gracefully, several feet away warrior willing to take his life.
from a brother knight who stood with both “Enough!” Grey roared angrily through
hands holding the hilt of a broad sword, its point The knight commanded the amazing his com-system. “You are not Sir Turin, Quest
buried in the sandy surface. Grey’s scanners T’mplaar metal to supply him with an equal Knight of the Nova-burst crest! Reveal yourself,
confirmed a small gravity bubble maintained broadsword. Responding to his order, at the imposter!”
by the other T’mplaar and no doubt enhanced speed of thought, a tiny cylinder he intui-
by the heavy minerals within the asteroid. Both tively retrieved from his armor’s slim weapons Turin’s face mask re-configured into obser-
wore their armor in Combat Configuration. pod secured at his waist, transformed into a vation mode and through the tinted glass, Grey
matching sword. Now Grey would meet Turin’s could see the malevolently grinning face of
“Greetings, Brother Turin,” Grey called over deadly force with deadly force. Father Moreau. “How did you know, Sir Grey?”
his com-system. “Please explain your actions
at the Huygen and Keel treaty signing, so I may Both knights swiftly parried, ducked, and Grey ignored Moreau’s question and posed
stand beside you and give supporting testimony
jabbed at each other, deftly searching for the several of his own, “How is it possible that you
during the hearing.” slightest weakness in the other’s defenses. wear T’mplaar metal? Where is Sir Turin?”
Although Grey’s mind was mostly clear and
Sir Turin was a Quest Knight. Of the ten focused on his opponent, he telepathically “Ah, yes,” he cynically replied, “The fabled
thousand active T’mplaar knights this small felt a minute sense of despondency from the gene making it impossible for any one else,
faction were undoubtedly the most spiritual. T’mplaar metal of both armors. Engaging in other than ‘knights,’ to take advantage of
Upon heeding the call, they dedicated their deadly combat with a fellow knight was strictly this metal’s amazing properties. After years
every waking moment to greater study and forbidden. That mere micro-second of distrac- of experimentation our scientists finally syn-
mastery of their connection with T’mplaar tion was all the opening the deadly Quest thesized a generic compound, which enables

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The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 9

anyone to connect with the incredible T’mplaar our secrets. Yet, you all share his blindness to mercy. Repent from your actions, and I will
metal. Of course, sadly, the unwilling donor the truth of T’mplaar metal. How naïve for you plead that the armor spares your life.”
fails to survive the extraction operation. We all to think that T’mplaar is a simple tool that
haven’t quite perfected that yet.” anyone can easily study and master. This divine Images ripped from Moreau’s memory
metal was old when the universe was new; it is flashed at him, he vividly recalled the smell of
It nearly took all of Grey’s mental discipline a unique, wise, and powerful life form. A knight burnt flesh; the cries for mercy as he super-
to not charge and attack anew. “Why are you may exhaust his lifetime in communion with it vised and participated in Turin’s torture. It was
doing this?” and never fully understand all of its secrets. the T’mplaar metal! It was invading his mind,
judging him and finding Moreau, his heart
Moreau shook his head. “The correct “The Way only sees the metal’s military and soul... lacking. The ghostly visage of the
wording is: why are ‘we’ doing this? I am not potential...a means to further the High-Fa- wounded Turin suddenly appeared before him,
the only one to master this divine steel. There ther’s and Protectorate’s ambitious goals, like and the shock of the ephemeral image made
are many more of our new knights and even restarting wars. We see a capacity to freely the Way holy man drop the broadsword. The
other collaborators within the Protectorate travel through the stars, to further enlighten ghost Turin did not react and simply waited.
that help us monitor and track all of you. It ourselves of things both spiritual and physical.
amazes me. How can you knights survive for so With the added gift to defend ourselves from “What say you, Father Moreau?” Grey
long traveling through the darkest reaches of those that seek to do us harm and a sacro- demanded.
space by being this naïve? Can’t you see? The sanct calling to assist those in dire need. We
are not some elite chosen or special individu- for “No!”
Way guided you and brought you to us. Moreau screamed. “What I did, I did
als. This ‘gene’ your scientists discovered is faith! I reject of
the glory the Hahn Protectorate and my
“Our alliance has been nothing if not your mercy...I reject you and—”
nothing more than a marker that highlights our
mutually beneficial. It granted you T’mplaars voluntary submission to a life of righteousness, “Then so be it,” Grey replied flatly.
unfettered access to the bounty of our worlds, peace, and truth.
while we enjoyed stability and growth with the The image of Sir Turin charged at Moreau,
space knights as champions of our causes. But “By your words and actions, the Hahn Protec- and as it approached, its appearance became
from the very moment we became allies, every torate has offended our august body, betrayed distorted and menacing. Moreau screamed.
High-Father since had been charged by the the spirit of our alliance, and murdered knights. Grey turned away, leaving his com-system
Way to possess and learn the secrets of this And for that, there is a price to be paid. You active. He heard Moreau’s terrified cries until
holy metal for the glory of the Hahn Protector- wondered how I knew that Sir Turin was not they cut off abruptly.
ate.” in possession of his armor. As we grappled the
T’mplaar metal of my armor began to reestab- Lingering in silence for a few seconds
“Accept the inevitable and you will be lish the psychic link your scientists had success- more, he slowly turned his gaze at the spot
spared, Sir Grey.” The minister extended his fully circumvented.” where the traitorous Way clergyman stood.
hand. “As I tried to back at the outpost, I offer All that remained was a hovering ring of silver
you now an opportunity to join us, believe and Father Moreau began hearing unintelligible T’mplaar metal. Opening his palm, the ring
trust in the Way, and become a true Protector- whispers and fleeting movements from the floated smoothly towards him. When Grey
ate citizen.” corners of his eyes, “Wha–what is happening?” and the other ring touched, the T’mplaar
Grey sighed. “It may be true that every knight promised that he would find it a worthy
Grey solemnly replied, “The T’mplaar metal successor.
High-Father since our arrival in this quadrant of Sir Turin’s armor has finally discovered your
has been longing with covetous eyes to possess masked presence. You still have a chance for The young T’mplaar knight transformed his

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 10

armor into Flight Configuration, leaving the gas His publishing credits, under the pseudonym
giant’s icy debris behind, and headed towards RCee are The Year of the Tiger, in the Success
Outpost Ten. As the trans-warp stream opened, by Design SF & F website edited by Dr. Howard
he sadly concluded that the actions in the
upcoming future required to root out the cor- W. Penrose. Bushi: Tales of the Warrior
ruption would make for long days and even Class known as Street Samurai, in Chaos
longer nights. Theory: Tales Askew edited by Dr. Arthur
D. Roberts. Spike in Beyond Centauri and
Weapon of Mass Consumption, in Aoife’s
Kiss (website) both edited by Tyree Campbell.
The Future Present an online essay, in Brew
City Magazine, edited by Kenneth Brosky.
Ricky Cruz Red Eyes in Multiverse Magazine (online),
edited by Matthew Wayne Selznick. Tales
of the Silver Knight in CyberPulp Magazine,
Ricky Cruz has had varied experience both as
edited by G.W. Thomas. The Adventures
an Air Force veteran and a civilian employee of
of Crimson Falcon: Trickster in Adventure
the Federal government. His resume includes
Fiction Online, edited by Jonah Lissner. The
jobs as a Personnel Specialist, Corrections
Courier in The Fifth Dimension, edited by
Officer, Mail Handler, an ATF Inspector and a
J. Alan Erwine. The Tic-Toc Detectivein
IAR (Initial Assistance Representative) for the
Neometropolis issue 0x02 and Inheritance
IRS.
in Neometropolis issue 0x06 both edited by
On his off days, he is a licensed Private
John Jacobs. The World’s Greatest Olympian
Investigator for Puerto Rico operating his
in A Thousand Faces Issue #3 edited by Frank
small firm, Ronin Investigations, out of his
Bryns.
home.
On occasion, under the pseudonym Old
School, he contributed reviews of movies
and television science fiction programs such
as Lost and Battlestar Galactica and Op-Ed
pieces, in both Spanish and English, for (the
now defunct) Geekeando.Com.
He is enrolled at the Interamerican University
of Puerto Rico, with hopes to complete his B.A.
in Education (English as a Second Language
for Elementary Students).

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Space Knights T’mplaar by R. Cruz Pg. 11

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Great Escapade
by by Alice M. Roelke Pg. 12

The Great Escapade
by Alice M. Roelke
“W hat’s his name?”
“James McLean. We got that off
twangy voice. His head snapped up. “Jem! It’s
you.” A smile suffused his long features.
“I come from a parallel universe where
the United States had a war in Vietnam. The
Jeremy Baxter from my world died there. I
his ID. Funny one, though—not a very good Baxter blinked. know there’s not a chance in a million you’ll
forgery.” The guard stood by the closed door listen to me, but hear me out. I got to this
in the long hall. McLean’s smile faded, and he slumped. “I world with a device I was testing. It broke
should have remembered it wouldn’t really be during the trip. Some cops arrested me, and
“And he won’t tell you anything?” Baxter you.” they’ve been trying to get me to talk ever since.
accepted the metal and plastic baseball-
“Who did you think I was?” Perhaps this I don’t quite know what to tell them. I’m not a
shaped device, regarded the wires connecting
would be a good way to begin the interroga- spy like they seem to think.”
different parts of it and the cryptically labeled
buttons. tion. Baxter stared at him. “Of course you’re a
“I thought you were Jeremy Baxter.” spy. Why else would you have a Confederate
“No sir. Boys at the lab never seen anything accent? Why else would you have been found
like it.” The side of Baxter’s face twitched. Just lurking in a sensitive government area?”
“You sure it’s safe?” how good was their information on U.S. gov-
ernment staff? “That’s my name.” McLean leaned forward. “I was trying to get
“Near as they can figure, it doesn’t do something for my device. Where I come from
anything.” McLean gave him a searching look, and there is no Confederacy. The Union won the
nodded. “Yeah.” Civil War, and there’s only one America, not
“All right.” Baxter slipped the device into two obscure little countries always feuding.
his pocket. He straightened his threadbare All right, so they knew his name. “How did Where I come from, the USA is a world power.
suit jacket and moved towards the door. you find out my old nickname?” No one had
called him that in years. “You and me got to be buddies in Vietnam.
A single bulb hung from the ceiling in the I probably know almost everything about
windowless room. A guard stood by the table, McLean stared at Baxter for a long moment. your past, assuming it’s the same here. Listen,
and a seated man. The prisoner’s fair head McLean’s pale eyelashes made his eyes look could any spy know this? Your favorite color’s
bowed as if from the weighty glare of the bulb. naked and unguarded. “This is going to sound sky blue, although you don’t like to tell people
He didn’t look up. nuts. But maybe you will believe me if you’re that because you think it sounds stupid. You
Jeremy Baxter.” had your first kiss when you were twelve—
Baxter nodded to the guard, who saluted Jenny Digby, behind the butcher’s. Your wife’s
and left. The door’s slam reverberated around Baxter frowned at him, but sat back, maiden name was Sara Polanski, and you were
the tiny metal room; the prisoner winced. crossing his arms. sick for a week before the wedding when you
Baxter sat down opposite the man. “I suppose were writing your own vows.”
“The Jem Baxter I knew died in Vietnam.”
you’ve been informed of your rights?”
Baxter blinked. “Where?” Baxter glared at him, ashen-faced. “I don’t
“Only that I didn’t—” began the man in a have a wife. She died three years ago in the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Great Escapade
by by Alice M. Roelke Pg. 13

smallpox epidemic.” again.” At the front gate, the guard glanced at
Baxter’s ID. Beside him stood McLean, looked
“Oh. I’m sorry. On my world, there was no Baxter watched him closely. “What do you disreputable in a guard’s uniform that didn’t
epidemic.” push to get home?” quite fit. “This guy new?” The guard reached a
hand out for McLean’s ID. Baxter hit him.
Baxter frowned at the wall. This interroga- McLean stuck the device into his pocket.
tion was not his best ever. “Can’t do it in a building.” Together they dragged the unconscious
man into a small booth by the gate. Baxter
McLean’s spoke. “But I’m not lying. You’ve # drew the guard’s gun, stood back, and fired a
got to believe me. I’m no danger to your gov- shot into the mechanism that opened the gate.
ernment. I just want to get home. I wish I’d Baxter punched a button on the intercom “Might slow ‘em down a bit.” He tossed the gun
never agreed to test the stupid machine for beside the door. “I’m ready to come out,” he into the shrubs on their way to his car.
that inventor. Help me get out of here. Join me told the guards.
and—”
#
“All right.” A voice replied through the gate,
“What? ‘We will rule the galaxy as father sounding not unlike a stormtrooper’s. “We’re
and son?’” Baxter tried not to smile. Baxter pulled away from the stop sign, the
coming in first.” fuzzy dice on his rearview mirror flying about
“Well, at least that’s the same.” McLean Baxter nodded at McLean and they in terror.
grinned. “So will you help me?” flattened themselves against the wall, one on “I’ll pull over and let you start up that device.”
Baxter’s shoulders inside his jacket relaxed, either side of the doorway. Baxter kept his eyes on the road.
and he shrugged. “Why not? I could use a good The door opened and one of the guards
adventure.” But he thought: Sara! Alive! “Actually...”
stepped inside. “What? Hey! Where’d—”
McLean smiled. “Thanks, Jem. I knew you McLean jumped forward and hit him. The other Baxter’s fingers tightened on the wheel.
wouldn’t let me down. I didn’t want to mention guard jerked back, reaching for his gun. Baxter “Well?”
this earlier, but I did save your counterpart’s leaped from behind the door and yanked him
life once.” into the room. “I need plutonium.”

“One time too few, apparently,” said Baxter. The first guard dropped. McLean shook out “Thought you said it broke down?”
He grew still when he saw McLean’s face. his hand and turned in time to punch the other
guard who was swinging at Baxter. “It did. It malfunctioned, needs extra fuel to
“Sorry.” function. I need another batch to get back.”
McLean leaned back and stuffed his hands Baxter nodded curtly, breathing hard. He
pointed to the taller guard. “He’s about your Baxter turned his hands one over another
into his pockets, wrinkling the area around his
height. Better change quickly.” He stepped on the steering wheel. “Why were you trying
eyes in a strained smile. “Any idea where my
outside to keep watch. A few minutes later, to get it from the government?”
device is?”
McLean emerged and Baxter locked the door. “Well, where else would I find it?”
“Right here.” McLean’s eyes roved the halls until Baxter
hissed for him to knock it off. His long, loping Baxter snorted. “That proves you’re no spy.
“Thanks.” McLean accepted it and turned it strides kept pace easily with the shorter Any fool knows you can get plutonium on the
over in his hand. “I never thought I’d see this Baxter’s quick steps. black market, if you’ve got money.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Great Escapade
by by Alice M. Roelke Pg. 14

“What?” McLean gaped. “Why doesn’t the “Keeps me running. I’m ready. Grab had joined two belts together.
government do something about it?” something and let’s go.”
“Unstable item,” he said.
“We’re trying, we’re trying,” Baxter McLean pulled a bag from behind a jar of
muttered. spaghetti sauce. “All right! Your mother’s prize- “What kind of unstable item, in particular?”
winning fried chicken!”
“Well, you know someone who can sell us “Plutonium.”
some?” Baxter stopped with his hand on the door. Al drew back, his three chins quivering.
“Now, how’d you know that?”
“I work for the government, remember? “That’s hot stuff.”
If I knew anyone selling radioactive material, “I used to be your best friend, remember?” “I can pay.”
I’d have turned them in long ago. But I’ll find He grabbed a soda. “Come on, I’m ready.”
someone.” “How much plutonium are we talking
# about?” Al’s eyes flicked to the chicken.
Baxter drove to his apartment above
a garage, and they slipped in. “Hope the Baxter turned at McLean, and waited.
The bar looked small and dirty despite the
neighbors didn’t see you. It won’t be safe for poor
long. Soon as they figure out what hit them, Baxterlighting. They sauntered inside. Actually, McLean wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
sauntered, looking mean and dangerous
they’ll come here.” “Um,” he said, his mouth full, “Bout a grain.”
despite his lack of height. McLean strode, his
“Then why’d we come here at all?” McLean limbs long and loose, glancing around as he “So how much you asking?” Baxter turned
tossed clothes off one chair and on to another gnawed a drumstick. to Al, who gazed longingly at the fried chicken.
so he could sit down. Baxter cleared his throat.
Baxter leaned across the bar. “Is Big Al
“I need some things. I don’t suppose you here?” “Uh, eight thousand.” Al pulled his gaze
have any money?” away.
The steak-faced barman opened his mouth
“Nope.” to answer. “Eight thousand!” exploded Baxter. “That’s
outrageous! I won’t pay more than six.”
“Didn’t think so.” Baxter swept around the “Who wants to know?” asked a gruff voice
messy apartment, fetching a gun, ammuni- from the shadows. An obese man with a gray- “Seven,” said Al promptly, without turning
tion, and an envelope from under his mattress. and-black beard stepped towards the bar. from the chicken.
He stuffed rumpled clothes into a knapsack. “A potential customer,” said Baxter. “Six and a half.”
McLean blinking once or twice, watching him.
Then he wandered out into the kitchenette and Big Al jerked his head toward the back room. “And the chicken,” said Al.
looked in the fridge. “Follow me.” The two men did. McLean still
“Make yourself at home,” said Baxter sar- held the bag of fried chicken, eating slowly. “Okay.”
castically. “What kind of customer?” In the greasy They left carrying a small, silver-colored
kitchen, Big Al hooked his fingers through big cylinder. McLean hunched, frowning, his
“Hey, I’m hungry.” McLean pulled out a limp leather belt. Baxter glanced at it, noted the hands in his pockets. “You didn’t ask me what
slab of pizza. “You call this food?” rivets that made it look as though someone I thought.” He kicked at a stone on the weed-

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Great Escapade
by by Alice M. Roelke Pg. 15

grown parking lot. McLean blinked. He shrugged. “Couldn’t find a number for
myself, but they had one for my mother. She
“It was my chicken.” “Hi. Excuse me.” Baxter leaned on the hasn’t heard from me in six months. Apparent-
counter. “We’d like ten minutes internet.” ly I’ve been away working for the government,
While Baxter drove, McLean got out his
device, and slid the cylinder into it. “There.” He “That’ll be a dollar ten,” slurred the gum- haven’t been in contact.”
leaned back and sighed. “All ready to go.” chewing clerk, eying the two with sullen green “Maybe you really are a spy.”
orbs. Baxter shelled out the money and she
“Seems like it should have been more pointed. “Ha ha. Let’s go. I want to get out of this
difficult than that,” remarked Baxter. world.”
“It’s getting more expensive all the time,”
“I don’t see why. Stop whenever. Needs a Baxter muttered as they walked over and slid
clear, open space to work properly.” #
into the booth.
“Can you wait a minute?” Baxter typed furiously. A few minutes later, The dice flew and the car dipped up to reach
he turned his head towards McLean, without the road. McLean cradled his device in his lap,
“Sure, why?” McLean raised his eyebrows. removing his eyes from the screen. “Anything and peered out the window, looking around.
“Something come up?” you want to see online? We still have another “We need a secluded place.”
“I want to turn in Big Al.” five minutes.” “Yeah,” said Baxter. “Sure.” His brows
“No, but—” He nodded towards a telephone furrowed. He tapped the steering wheel with
“And that won’t take more than a minute?”
booth in the corner, just as someone vacated his fingers. “About Sara. Is she...” McLean
“Barely.” Baxter pulled into a parking space. it. “I’d like to see what my counterpart’s up to turned to look at him.
“I’ll lock onto the web and drop an anonymous on this world. Can we call West Virginia from Just then, two cars with flashing lights and
hint on the FBI’s homesheet.” here?” sirens pulled behind them.
“Don’t you mean log on? And homepage?” “It’s a bit expensive, but sure. You know the Baxter groaned. “Trouble.”
McLean shut his door. number? It’s probably different here.”
“I’ll call directory inquiry.” He waited while his “How’d they find us?” McLean whirled in
Baxter blinked. “No. Why would I? Keep seat and craned a look back at the vehicles.
your voice down. You kind of stand out when Baxter dug into his pocket, and accepted a
you talk.” McLean gave a laconic nod. He handful of change, then hurried to the phone. “Someone must have spotted my car. That’s
pushed the device into his jacket pocket. Baxter watched as he dialed, spoke. Watched what I get for being a respectable citizen.
he emotions play on his face, surprise, discom- Shouldn’t have stopped for that tip.” His voice
They crossed the threshold. Inside, people fort, and something like embarrassment or tightened. “We may have to forget about that
sat at tables eating, or in front of computers pain. He turned his back when he saw Baxter secluded spot.”
in booths. Some typed, others wore earphones watching.
and intense expressions, and moved their “Fine by me. But I still need an open area.”
fingers rapidly over keys. “This is a good set-up,” McLean returned. “Should’ve known that
murmured McLean, looking around. would be a mistake.” “I know, I’m pulling off.” Baxter wrenched
the car towards the frail, wooden guard rail.
“It’s kind of a necessity. Who could afford “What happened?” The car smashed through and bounced along
their own computer?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Great Escapade
by by Alice M. Roelke Pg. 16

a stubbled field. The trooper vehicles bumped earlier.” Alice M. Roelke
along behind them. “You got that thing ready?”
yelled Baxter over the sound of cornstalks Baxter grinned. He nodded, and stepped
hitting the bumper, and a grinding noise from through. The purple doorway began to collapse Alice M. Roelke could count as a starv-
the engine. behind him. The policemen approached, gaping.
One of the men’s faces hardened. He reached ing artist, if she were a bit hungrier and
“You bet!” shouted McLean. for his gun, raised it. McLean nudged Baxter, wrote more artful stories. She lives in
and they stepped sideways past the doorway,
Baxter sped up to get ahead of the police on either side. McLean fiddled with his device, the United States, and hates Wonderland
cars, which had slowed at the dip. He revved a poked a button. jokes.
last burst of speed from his car, then slammed
on the brakes. They jumped out. McLean The doorway fell shut, and its strange light
punched buttons on his device. Sweat shone and noise ceased. Baxter and McLean stood in Her speculative fiction has appeared in
on his forehead. a suddenly-silent field. The sounds of wind and
crickets prevailed. several publications, and she has a web-
“Hurry it up,” Baxter muttered. site at http://aliceroelke.googlepages.
McLean turned to Baxter, clapped him on
McLean held the device out in front of him. the back. “Welcome to my world.” com/home.
“C’mon, c’mon!”
Baxter glanced around and gave a short
A distorted, purple doorway-like outline nod. “Looks all right.” They started walking.
appeared midair with a rushing sound. The
same field showed through it, following all the Baxter stopped, half a step short of McLean.
same dips and curves, only instead of a corn- And hit himself on the head. “I forgot my bag!”
stalks grew proficient weeds.
McLean laughed.
McLean stepped through and jerked his
head. Purple light shone on his face and hands. “So tell me what Sara’s up to,” said Baxter.
“Come on!” he shouted over the roaring. “Tell me.”

Baxter glanced back. The sky was turning Talking, they walked towards the road—
to red sunset, the troopers closing in. situated in the same place, but this one with
a sturdy-looking metal guard rail. They walked
Now’s the time I’m supposed to say, ‘I through the tall weeds and gathering dusk.
have to stay and help my world,’ he thought.
But there’s nothing here for me, except maybe
a life sentence. And he’d wanted to go, since
McLean first said Sara’s name. Wanted in the
worst way to see her again.
McLean wore a lazy-looking expression,
grinned at him through the entryway. “Sara’s
still single, if that’s what you were wondering

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Featured Artist: Francis Tsai Pg. 17

Featured Artist
Francis Tsai
Name: Francis Tsai
Age: just turned 40—holy crap!
Country of residence: USA
Hobbies: art, music, cars
Favorite Book / Author: Too many to list—Leonard Shlain writes some pretty
interesting stuff. Snow Crash by Neal
Stephenson is probably in my top five most
of the time.
Favorite Artist: Even more too many!
When did you start creating art? Don’t
remember a start date.
What media do you work in? Mostly
some combination of pencil, pen, markers,
Photoshop, Sketchup.
Where your work has been featured? Um,
I’m not going to remember everything...
but a few examples are Spectrum, Expose,
Marvel Comics, ImagineFX magazine,
PCGamer magazine, Wizards of the Coast
products, various video game magazines,
“art of” books, etc.
Where should someone go if they wanted to view / buy some of your works? My
site, or in some of the products listed above.
How did you become an artist? Good question. I don’t know a good answer for that.
What were your early influences? Comic books, Star Wars—this is when I was a wee
lad.
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Featured Artist: Francis Tsai Pg. 18

What are your current influences? Anything that
catches my eye, art or otherwise.
What inspired the art for the cover? I don’t
remember exactly. Just wanted to try to capture
a certain kind of moment.
How would you describe your work? A half-
assed mish mash of all my influences.

Where do you get your inspiration / what inspires you? When I see or hear something
cool or exciting that I don’t think I would have done on my own.

Have you had any notable failures, and how has failure affected your work? Tried three
times to get a job with Lucasfilm. Some things are not meant to be I suppose. Otherwise,
I don’t feel like I have failed at anything I have tried. I would describe it more as being
made to figure out a different way around a particular obstacle.

What have been your greatest successes? How has success impacted you / your work?
I think just being able to continue working as an artist and being able to make a good
living at it counts as success in my mind. Or maybe I just have low standards!

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Featured Artist: Francis Tsai Pg. 19

What are your favorite tools / equipment for producing your art? For personal sketches and doodles, I have a few nicely
designed pencils and pens that I like. For most of my commercial work, the old standby of Photoshop + decent computer and 2
23” Apple Cinema displays.

What tool / equipment do you wish you had? Hm. If anything, maybe a large format scanner. Otherwise, I have pretty much
everything I need on a daily basis.

What do you hope to accomplish with your art? Fortune and glory, kid.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 20
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate
Chapter 21, For Blood and Glory
by Johne Cook
The story so far: his sleep and furrow his brow. Eggplant knew his loyalty was a double-
edged sword, and privately suspected it would
As the crew settled in for some much deserved It was ironic that one such as he, who fre- be the death of him.
rest and relaxation, Flynn and Clarissa met with quently felt so paralyzed in the face of everyday
the local village elders and revelations were life, was the pilot for the airship Alacrity, whose “I told you a storm was brewing,” he said.
made that informed them and infuriated her. job it was to place them all squarely—and pre- It was a burden to be right all the time, but the
cisely—in harms’ way. adept are their own reward.
They went for a late night walk and spend the
time together, baring their souls (but that’s it). Eggplant believed in Cyl, but privately Captain Flynn whirled to search the horizon.
They were awakened by a breathless Eggplant, wondered if others noticed Him play the The sails of the enemy ships were distant but
who informed them that trouble was on the trickster too, or if that was an epiphany distinctive. The Sylvan war fleet was sailing
horizon. exclusive to him. straight toward Roarke’s Island.
And so, when Eggplant first saw the many “That was fast,” murmured Flynn. “Too
sails highlighted against the distant horizon, fast.” His black eyes hardened. He stroked his
E ggplant was terrified.
His greatest strengths were also his
he knew exactly what it meant, and how much
additional jeopardy they were all in. And he
knew whose job it would be to deliver them all
jaw as he did when deep in thought.
Clarissa said, “Do we flee or do we fight?”
greatest curses—he was highly intelligent, right into the midst of all that oncoming peril.
loyal to a fault, and physically unremarkable; Eggplant watched Flynn turn to Clarissa and
And he suspected that Cyl was gently amused
thin, wiry, a head shorter than the burly sailors he saw, in the space of that moment, the fire
somehow at his terror.
on the crew, and much shorter than somebody light behind Flynn’s eyes, sparkling as they did
like Bola, who could kill him by accident, much Eggplant was never exactly sure what to in the face of overwhelming odds. If Eggplant
less if she really put her mind to wounding think about all that. didn’t know better, he’d think the captain was
him. crazy.
Thank Cyl that he, of all people, should
Not that she would ever notice one like have been seeking Captain Flynn at that place But he did know better. It was worse
him. She had her fair share of troglodytes. He at that time to make the first sighting. With than insanity—the captain was reckless, a
doubted she’d even know what to do with a such an early alarm, perhaps some people’s thrill addict. He’d leap when he should walk,
real man such as himself. lives would be saved as a result. innovate when he should stand pat, attack
when he should retreat.
Honest assessment of a situation was a Pity his own would likely not be among the
strength of his, however, that attribute mani- blessed ones. And where the captain went...
fested itself in his life as a state of perpetual
worry, ranging from cynical self-doubt to The captain would see the sails as opportu- Flynn was practically beaming as he turned
full-on panic. Not that there had to be any nity, not threat, and where the captain went, to face them, his decision already made.
obvious threat to elicit daily dread in him—the Eggplant went, so long as he was living. “Liberty’s over! It’s time we earned our keep.”
world itself was dangerous enough to trouble Which is precisely what terrified Eggplant.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 21

# town, Flynn pulled up to a stop and pulled up they served a variety of teas and kava and
a bucket of water. He passed around a wood tropical juices, and the smell of frying bacon
They trotted back down the sand toward ladle to drink from. Flynn waited until everyone and sausage wafted out from the kitchen. Egg-
town. drank and then slaked his thirst directly from plant’s mouth watered suddenly, but he had
the bucket, pouring the rest of it over his things to do.
Clarissa fell in beside Flynn, running easily, head. He wiped his face off and set the bucket
her copper hair shining in the sun. “You sound down. He walked around the place, peering into
like you expected this,” she said. corners and looking under tables. He spotted
Flynn said, “Mr. Pitt, gather the crew and a waitress from the night before. “Klari, I’m
Flynn looked over at her as he ran, shoo them back aboard and meet us at the looking for someone,” he said.
managing to look both calculating and sheepish Barnacle. Oh, and if you see Mr. Gillings, I have
at the same time. “It would add to my already something special for him. Captain MkDougal, She smiled knowingly at him and bumped
enigmatic reputation if that was explicitly true, please assemble the officers of the two airships. him with her hip. “Aren’t we all?”
however, I won’t lie to you. Yes, I expected a We’re going to need to coordinate this quickly.
quick token counter-attack. And by ‘quick,’ I He colored and took a step back. “It’s not
Eggplant, I’d appreciate it if you’d be so good
was thinking ‘sometime this month.’ However, I like that. I...” Eggplant swallowed and struggled
as to rouse or release Bola. And if you get a
didn’t expect a full Sylvan war armada showing to regain his composure—the story of his life.
chance, please stop by the local chapel and
up all the way down here at Roarke’s Island less “She’s hard to miss—a tall, athletic woman
alert Cleric Vaneras that we’ll need him on the
than a week after the fact. The only thing that with large...”
ship. If I’m any judge of character, you’ll be able
makes any sense is if they were preparing an to find Bola back at the Barnacle or sleeping Klari winked. “Coconuts?”
attack of their own, and we beat them to the something off at the local stockade.” Flynn dug
punch at Yempher by pure dumb luck. In fact, something out of an inner pocket and tossed it Eggplant’s face was getting redder by the
they must have only been hours away from over. “You may need this. Here’s a purse I set moment. “Appetites.” He must have looked
Yempher when we left. I daresay some Sylvan aside to release Bola. Get her and meet us at pretty mournful.
admiral is extremely vexed with me right about the ship. “
now.” His pretty tormenter took pity on him. Klari
Flynn looked around at everyone. “Everyone said, “If you’re looking for Bola, head down to
“If you didn’t plan this, do you have a contin- clear? Let’s get busy.” the stockade. She and her three boyfriends are
gency plan on how to handle their armada?” down there sleeping off a night of carousing.”
Eggplant nodded and trotted off. The rest
Flynn snorted. “A contingency plan for of them split up at the village and ran their Three? Eggplant shook his head sadly and
being outnumbered by a surprise armada that respective ways, ringing the warning bell and asked for directions to the stockade.
outnumbers us six to one?” rousing sleeping sailors and locals.
He passed by the chapel on the way. He
“Yes.” found a quiet man reading a manuscript and
#
making notes with a quill on parchment.
His laugh was his answer. Flynn didn’t “Excuse me, I’m looking for Cleric Vaneras. Is
appear to see Eggplant’s face go white to Eggplant jogged over to the Brazen Barnacle he here?”
the left of him, but Clarissa couldn’t help but and noted that even though it was just an hour
notice. past dawn, the place was already busy catering The man put his quill down. “Hello. He
to those looking to break their fasts from the was, but left last night, and I haven’t seen him
As they reached the well on the edge of night before. Instead of ale and flavored rums, since.”

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Eggplant was puzzled. “He didn’t stay here “Dropping off or picking up?” The voice in Having an embarrassing nickname was bad
last night?” his ear startled him and he jumped. He must enough. Having that moniker butchered was
have shouted because the denizens in the cell even worse.
The holy man shook his head. all woke and looked in his direction.
Through gritted teeth, Eggplant said, “Bola’s
“Do you know where he was going?” Including Bola. a member of our crew. We need her on-ship
right away.” Eggplant produced the coin pouch
“He stopped in, we spoke for a couple of “Picking up,” said Eggplant, his traitorous and tossed it to the jailor.
hours, and then he excused himself and left.” voice shamefully husky.
That serioused Genson right up, which
“Did you happen to see which way he The bearded man pulled a dagger and surprised Eggplant a little, but not nearly as
went?” started trimming his fingernails with it. “I’m much as when the jailor tossed the pouch back
Lieutenant Genson,” he said. If he was trying to him. “Keep your money. Despite appear-
“I’m sorry, no. When the wind kicked up, to intimidate Eggplant with the steel, he was ances, I run a clean stockade here.”
he wrapped up his conversation and made his doing a pretty good job at it. “And you are...”
departure. It was dark, and I didn’t see which Eggplant wasn’t able to keep the surprise
way he went after he stepped outside.” “Egon Palance, but everyone calls me from showing on his face.
‘Eggplant.’”
Eggplant thanked the man and continued Genson relented and explained. “The
on to the stockade, deep in thought. Genson nodded as if the nickname made stockade, here, was the closest place to the
sense. Barnacle to let her sleep it off. There are no
When he arrived at the stockade, he saw
a bamboo door without any apparent handle. charges. If you can get her out of there, she’s
Eggplant nodded toward Bola with his
He laid a hand on the door, and it swung open free to go.”
head. “I need her.” And then he had to fight
into the room. not to hang his head. ‘I need her?’ That was Eggplant thought that was a strange way of
artless. phrasing it, but he didn’t think anything further
Eggplant stepped inside and saw a desk
to his left and three cells straight ahead with of it at that time.
Genson chuckled. “You and every other
bars made of sturdy bamboo. He didn’t see scurvy dog visiting Parrot Bay.” He looked He walked to the cell door. “Bola, you can
anybody behind the desk that bore the placard Eggplant up and down and pointed the dagger come back to the ship with me if you come
“Lt. Genson.” He spied a thick younger man at Eggplant. “You’re a brave one. I’d think she’d here.”
with a bushy beard snoring in a hammock to break you like a twig.”
his right off from the main room. Eggplant left “On my way, Eggpants!”
him snoring there and walked back to the cells Eggplant was not amused to hear his own
looking for Bola. thoughts coming out of the other’s mouth. Genson sat behind his desk and tipped back
This day was getting worse and worse, and he in his chair, watching the exchange.
She was sitting in the corner with her head hadn’t even had breakfast yet.
back, sleeping. Her beautiful hair fell across Bola extricated herself from the tangle
her face, obscuring it from his view. She had Bola spoke up from the corner, her speech of drunken sailors and approached the door,
one arm around a burly sailor and another slurred. “Eggpants! Nice to see yah!” weaving a little. She looked suspiciously at the
slept with his head in her lap. door, and then started to push on it.
The bearded jailor raised an eyebrow.
Oh, Bola. You really are infamous. Nothing happened.

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Eggplant looked at the jailor, who seemed We’ll back shortly!” Chain nodded and went below.
vastly amused by it all. Bola pushed again,
harder. The bamboo creaked with the effort, And with that, Alacrity rose up out of the Flynn sent a sailor down to Chain to be a
but the door still didn’t open. She dug in and water, gathering speed straight up, her hull runner in case things got too hot—literally, and
really heaved, and the entire assembly creaked thrumming with the exertion but otherwise then made for the deck to get his first aerial
impressively, but held firm. light as a feather. view of the incoming ships. He left the altitude
to Eggplant and took the spyglass up the bow.
Bola gave up and returned to her corner Captain Flynn popped his head in the
and promptly fell asleep again. wheel house. “Take her up until I tell you to Flynn noted two tall ships immediately but
stop—this is going to be an up-and-down job.” the rest of the story didn’t become apparent
Eggplant turned to the jailor, who was He then sprinted down the steps, taking three until after they picked up some serious
otherwise no further help. “I’ll be back,” said at a time. altitude. One part of his head was entirely too
Eggplant. clinical about the fleet in front of him as it was
“What’s the plan?” asked Chain as Flynn gradually revealed, another was marveling at
Genson got up out of his chair and returned arrived in the engine room. the altitude this boat was racking up, and the
to his hammock. “I’ll be asleep,” he replied as last was gibbering in fear at the increasingly
Eggplant left the stockade. “We’re going to make a run for the sky, high distance that they were above the water
straight up as far as we can safely go, and and mother Menda.
Flynn would not like this. He would not like get a crow’s-eye view on the incoming fleet.
this one bit. We need a count of the ships and a view of He started to get a good view of what was
their presentation so we know what we’re up going on. He saw two ships of the line there in
# against. Do you have any idea what the max the middle—the sails that they’d seen initial-
altitude is for this beast?” ly—in the vanguard with another ten ships of
Running to Alacrity, Captain Flynn yelled, various smaller classes, raider ships all, five on
“No clue, Flynn. My one concern is heat.”
“We need to cast off as quickly as possible. I each flank.
want to take her straight up and get a crow’s “Heat?”
eye view of the incoming fleet.” “Wow,” he said. “Twelve ships total, two
“The higher we go, the more electricity it of them ships-of-the-line battleships.” He put
Chain and some of the other crew sprinted will take to excite the impregnated timbers away his spyglass and bounded up to go see
down to the dock. Flynn motioned Chain and and push against the water plane, and heat is Eggplant.
five sailors on board, and then Flynn stowed the by-product. I can vent some of it, but after
the gang plank himself. “Cast off!” he ordered. “How high are we,” he asked.
a certain point, it could get too hot to handle,
“When we’re free, Eggplant, take us up as soon and we’d run the risk of catastrophic failure. I “Fifteen thousand feet, if I’m reading these
as Chain gets the engine going!” just don’t know if that’s at one thousand feet instruments right.”
or ten thousand or something else entirely.”
Flynn spun and ran to the railing to yell “Amazing! Menda looks so much different
something to those who were assembling there. “Ok,” said Flynn. “Just keep an eye on your from up here. Seeing the world from this per-
“Get your belongings together and prepare to gauges and raise Eggplant when we need to spective is almost god-like.”
board,” he said. “When we come back down, reverse altitude and descend again. You have
I want to get everyone on three minutes and the override, Chain. Don’t be afraid to use it if Eggplant looked thoughtful. “You want to
take off again. Also, man all the available ships necessary.” hear something interesting?”
in the bay and have them prepare to launch.

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 24

“What’s that?” two. I want to get a closer look.” Glorifizers down there.”
“We’ve only gotten to the fifth notch. There They passed by high overhead and Flynn #
are five more.” looked down on the lead warship with his best
telescope.
Flynn exchanged a wordless glance with Flynn saw Eggplant standing in the door
Eggplant. “That is very interesting. Good work. Mr. Yhen said, “What do you see?” of the wheelhouse, pensive, but not saying
“ He clapped Eggplant on the shoulder and anything. “Eggplant, bring us about and take
then went below to talk to Chain. “The usual—sailors, cannons, grapples, lots us back.”
of sails, and far too many of the enemy.” Flynn
“How is she doing?” continued to scan the decks, working his way “Yes, Captain.”
from stem to stern. Suddenly, he groaned. He
Chain looked up from his instruments. Flynn looked at Eggplant. ““Well, what do
passed the telescope to Yhen. “What do you you think?”
see down there mixed in with the sailors?”
“She’s handling it well,” he said. “One inter-
esting thing, though.” Eggplant was busy turning the ship, and let
“Uh, barrels, crates, officers, sailors, slip his real question. “You’re not thinking of
soldiers...”
“What’s that?” attacking them, are you?”
“Are you sure about those last?”
“My hunch was right—the higher we go, Flynn said, “Is that what you were worried
the hotter she gets. She’s well within her limits Yhen concentrated. “They’re men with about?”
at the moment but I can’t imagine what it’d be arms, rifled guns and a variety of cutlery.”
like it if we maxed her out. She’d probably burst Eggplant played it cool, shrugging, but not
her guts and blow up herself up in a massive “Yes. What do you notice about them?” admitting to anything.
fireball.”
“Their haircuts are different. Instead of Flynn said, “Fear not. Sometimes, you have
“Interesting. Stay close—we’re going to be Sylvan Navy regular short-cuts, they sport long to change things up. Sometimes, you have to
heading into battle just as soon as we set back hair tied back.” push, and sometimes, you have to pull. This
down.” time, we pull.”
“Anything else?”
“Aye,” said Chain, absently, intent on the “Pull, Captain? We only have two airships
gauges. “Instead of Sylvan sailor uniforms of white to their twelve sailing ships.”
and blue, they’re wearing bright yellow garb.”
“Ah,” said Flynn, walking to the railing and
# Flynn said, “Blast! Those aren’t just sol- pointing down to peaceful Parrot Bay, and the
diers—they’re mercenaries.” lightly-armed ships arrayed below. “That’s
 “There are a total of twelve ships, mostly where the local merchant fleet comes in!”
smaller raiders, but they are led by two large “Mercs?” Flynn walked away to find Mr. Pitt.
warships right in the center.”
“Right. And not just any mercenaries...” Eggplant’s eyes lit up. “Change things up,”
“Do you have a plan?” he whispered to himself.
“You know who they are, Captain?”
“I’ve got a number of things cooking, but
none of them look very attractive at twelve to Flynn was grim. “I’m afraid so. Those are #

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They’d drifted a bit while ascending and over those tall ships. I’m thinking of sending Then, you’ll bring them around and drive them
Captain Flynn had them put out enough sail the ships we have here to mop up on the flanks, right into the collapsing flanks. We’ll turn their
to bring them back to port. They had quite a left and right, while we go after those two line forces against each other and chew them up.”
crowd waiting for them when they put down ships.”
at the dock. Flynn told one of the sailors to put With that, he noticed Birot of Haw and his
out the rope ladders when they got down close “How do you propose taking them over?” tribe hanging around the edge of the dock and
and told Eggplant to try to get down within she asked. motioned them over.
twenty feet of the dock so they wouldn’t have “Those decks are sturdy but the men “Hello, Birot,” he said. “Are you interested
far to climb and they could take on a full crew aren’t.” He went on to explain his plan—in- in joining in this fight?”
as quickly as possible. cluding a cobbled weapon—that would take
out crew on-deck while preserving the ships “You know it,” he said. “The Haw stand
Flynn said, “We’re going to have a short
themselves. ready to do whatever we can.”
window of opportunity when we put down. I’d
like to rouse the troops, coordinate with the “You mentioned Yempher earlier. How’d
To her credit, she was shocked by the sug-
merchant captains, and then I’d like to get back you like a chance to get a more intimate view
gestion but admired the audacity of his plan.
in the air as soon as possible.” of that stronghold?”
They compared notes on what they’d need to
Eggplant asked, “How long do you think make it work, gave each other a quick hug, and Birot of Haw smiled and broke into his
we’ll be in port?” dispersed again to get moving. native tongue, still facing the captain. The
Flynn jogged back to the dockside where Hawsians broke into cheers.
“Maybe an hour at most.”
he found the other captains and their crews. “Does that answer your question, Captain
Eggplant nodded mechanically. “Alacrity He waved the captains over together. Flynn?”
will be ready to go when you get back,” he said.
He earnestly hoped that would be true. “Captains, we have a situation here. We “Indeed it does, Birot. Have you men gather
have twelve incoming Sylvan ships led by whatever they need and meet up with Mr. Pitt.
When they were still fifty feet or so above two large warships. Captain MkDougal and He’ll explain what and where.”
the deck, Flynn checked his skypack and I will meet those two warships with Tanith
dropped over the edge. He put down lightly on and Alacrity. We will take care of those ships. “Thankyou, Captain. This is a great oppor-
the dock and ran back to HMS Tanith. However, we need to divide our forces and tunity for the Haw to help.”
flank them on both sides, pushing them back
Clarissa MkDougal met Captain Flynn on into the center. That’s where you come in. “The pleasure is all mine, my friend,” said
the dock. She greeted him with a salute. Flynn Flank them and force them in and we’ll take Captain Flynn with a smile, then he took Mr.
saluted back, but added a sly wink just for her care of the rest.” Pitt and Mr. Ipness aside and told them what he
benefit, and then he brought her up to speed, was looking for. They gave him the same look
quickly sketching out his hastily-constructed He waved Captains Smythe and Kend to that MkDougal did, and then they got busy.
plan. him. “Captains, we have other plans for your
crews. Captain Kend, you and your crew will #
“We have it worse than I thought. Instead board the Tanith and Captain Smythe, you and
of mere Sylvan soldiers, they have enlisted the your crew will board Alacrity. We will clear
services of the fiercest mercs I know of. I think Eggplant jogged back to the stockade.
the decks of those two ships of the line and
we have to split their forces to pick them off The day was warming up, and the door was
you and your crews will take over the ships.
better, and the best way to do that is to take now open to let the breeze carry through the

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 26

thatched-roof building. moment that she wasn’t going to cooperate. Eggplant left the stockade and walked back
And then he had an idea. to the ship by himself. His heart was hammering
Contrary to his statement, the bearded in his chest. A burst of energy flooded his body,
jailor, Genson, was sitting behind his desk as “And Flynn gave me something for you.” and he felt he could take on the Sylvan fleet
Eggplant walked into the stockade. “Ah, Mr. He produced the coin pouch and held it in his all by himself as Bola’s whisper repeated itself
Eggpants! So good of you to return.” He grinned hand. over and over in his head; “Thanks, Egon.”
and waved his left hand toward the cell door.
“Round two!” She raised her eyebrows in the classic well, And, strangely, Eggplant began to under-
it couldn’t hurt to try gesture, and she reached stand Flynn’s recklessness just a little better.
Eggplant said, “I won’t be here long,” and out and hooked one finger around a bamboo
walked straight up to the cell door. “Bola,” he bar. She flicked it in toward her. #
said, “it’s time to go.”
The cell door swung easily open.
She opened one bleary eye and gazed at Mr. Gillings was milling around by the docks
him suspiciously. “We’ve already been through Genson clapped from his vantage leaning when Flynn came striding toward him. He was
this.” back on his chair, and Bola whooped, startling talking to Mr. Humble. “Oh, and get as many
the sleeping sailors in the cell. brooms as you can and split them between
Eggplant thought of everything he could tell Alacrity and the Tanith.
her, considering and discarding four different Eggplant grinned and stood aside. Thank
intricate arguments why she should do as he Cyl, it worked! “Brooms?”
asked. However, this was Bola, after all. Finally, Bola said, “Later, boys,” and strode out of “Yes. I’ll explain later. Mr. Gillings! Did you
it came down to one simple thing. “Trust me,” the cell. gather the merchant captains?”
said Eggplant.
She stopped by Eggplant. She snagged the Gillings fell beside the captain as they
With a groan, Bola pushed a sailor’s head pouch, whispered something in his ear, and walked. “They’re in the square waiting for your
off her lap, and he tumbled to the floor with a kissed him chastely on his forehead. Then Bola address.”
thump. She shrugged another off her shoulder turned. “See you next trip, Genson.”
with her left forearm, and she extricated herself Flynn said, “How was your liberty?”
from the pile of great unwashed. She stood, He tossed a lazy salute in her direction.
all six foot two of her, yawned and stretched, “Take care of yourself, Bola.” “I’ve been in port for a week. I’m ready to
showing the details of her chest to the room. get back to business.”
She slowly walked over to the door, cracking She nodded in return and sauntered out of
her neck and stretching her arms. She stood on the stockade, waving a hand indolently over “That’s the spirit! Very well. Let’s not keep
the other side of the cell door from Eggplant. her shoulder. them waiting.”
“I’m here,” she said. “Tell me what to do.”
Eggplant smiled to himself. “Thank you, Flynn and a small entourage of available
Eggplant spoke to himself as was sometimes Lieutenant.” officers and crew walked over to the square
his habit when he was thinking. “’Change it up,’ and found a colorful group of sailors gathered.
Flynn said. ‘Pull, not push.’” Genson nodded respectfully in his direction Some were dandies, some were obviously
and wearily let his chair drop. “Who wants wealthy by their extravagant clothes, some
Bola looked at Eggplant like he was the dim- breakfast? I’m buying.” were like Flynn—capable, if landless, men of
witted one, and he thought for one terrified the sea.

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All were curious. needn’t worry. We’ll be taking all the risks Eggplant followed not long after that. Flynn
ourselves. If we’re successful, they’ll have said, “Did you have any trouble?”
Flynn jumped up on a table and addressed gotten a good thrill, but no actual damage.”
them. “My fellow captains, we have little time, Eggplant just shook his head and smiled
so I will state my case plainly. A fleet of twelve “And if we’re not successful?” mysteriously.
Sylvan ships, including two ships-of-the-line,
is on the horizon. They will be here within “Sylvans don’t react well to those who run. Flynn said, “When you were in town, did
hours.” They track them down and utterly destroy you see the cleric?”
them. If we’re not successful, the merchant
A startled murmur went through the captains will surrender without a fight and Eggplant said, “I stopped by the chapel
group. they’ll be able to curse my name in peaceful earlier. The padre hadn’t seen him since last
captivity. They’ll be bitter, but alive.” night. The cleric did not stay there, but left
“And as it happens, fortune—or Cyl, take before midnight.”
your pick—has brought to Parrot Bay not one, “That sounds like the voice of experience.”
but two battle-tested airships in Her Majesty’s Flynn nodded gravely as Eggplant boarded.
Navy. We will not allow you to come to harm. “I fled from Sylvans once. I was able to get Flynn looked over at Clarissa. “That’s it, I guess.
However, in order to make that guarantee, we away, but it cost me an heirloom vessel near It’s time.”
need your help.” and dear to my heart. Keeping the merchant
vessels here is doubly wise. They don’t know Tanith and Alacrity were the last to leave,
“Help?” the Sylvans as I do; it is not only best for me, it giving the sailing ships a chance to board up,
is also best for them.” cast off, and make way, heading towards the two
“In order for this to work, we’d like to have flanks. When those ships were well underway,
you report to your ships and take them a mile “Why not just tell them that?” Captain Flynn gave the word for Eggplant to
offshore.” take Alacrity up, and Tanith followed.
“It all goes to intent— one giant victory
“And then what?” justifies a multitude of tiny deceptions, and my #
intentions are good.”
“And then stay there.”
So you say, thought Gillings. I hope you’re Onboard Alacrity, it seemed like Flynn was
A stunned silence settled over the group. right. everywhere. First, he spent a few moments
with Eggplant, then he worked his way up to
Captain Dohannon, one of the most the sailors on deck, telling them what they
obviously wealthy merchants, said, “But #
needed to do to get into position to approach
Captain, we’ll be sitting hens!” the warships, then he spoke with Captain
It was time to cast off. The merchant captains Smythe and Mr. Gillings on their roles if the
Flynn grinned impishly. “That’s the idea!” were on their way to the Flynn welcomed Bola gambit was successful.
back aboard with a broad smile. “How was
As they wrapped up and started walking your liberty?” “The plan is for you to get your men on
back to the docks, Mr. Gillings said, “Captain, deck as quickly as possible and take the ship
between you and me, do you really think the “I drank fast. Lieutenant Genson sends his by force. We’ll clear the decks for you and then
battle will play out that way?” regards,” she said with a wink and walked up it will be your job to board the prize as quickly
the gangplank.
Flynn snorted. “Not a chance, but they as possible. Watch your hands and feet—there
will be all manner of sharp things, can’t be

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 28

helped. If you need additional help clearing used to my hammock. I’m a creature of habit, Mr. Pitt rumbled, “Those Sylvan warships
out the ship’s interior, we’ll send it, otherwise, I’m afraid.” maintain something like one hundred and fifty
we’ll be strafing the nearest raider ships while men, if you count sailors and armed forces.
you prepare to come about and attack the Flynn roared with laughter and slapped the The captain had this idea to take barrels and
nearest ships to the East. Meanwhile, Tanith cleric on the shoulder. “At any rate, I admit I’m fill them half-full of gunpowder and nails and
and Captain Kend’s crew will be doing the same very relieved you’re here. We could use your broken glass. We rigged them up with a fuse
thing to the West. One more thing—keep half influence with Cyl in advance of the coming with oil-soaked rags and wax and will drop
an eye on the other warship. If they aren’t able battle.” them down onto their decks. It’s a relatively
to take her over, she’ll become your new first clean way to take out a man while preserving
Vaneras was guarded. “My what? Before
target. Hopefully, it will never come to that. If the ships themselves. Then would drop Captain
the what?”
you manage to accomplish everything and we Smythe and his crew down on deck and to
win the battle, make for port at Roarke’s Island Flynn grinned. “Let’s go get Bola. I’ll explain finish the task of clearing the ship below deck.
for cleanup and to take on fresh supplies. Then it to you both at the same time. I’m very glad After that, we would use the one large Sylvan
prepare to head out again right away—we’ll be you’re here.” warship against the remaining one.”
sending this fleet back to where it came from,
Yempher, and from there, points on the way The cleric looked quizzical and skeptical. The cleric was sober. “Sounds like a lot of
right up to Sylva itself. Any questions? Ok. Go “This can’t be good,” he muttered. bloodshed, to me.”
with Cyl!” Flynn nodded. “It’s worse than you know.
# Those aren’t just any mercs, they’re Gloryfiz-
The men roared in approval and prepared
to board the Sylvan warship, which loomed ers.”
Flynn took Bola, the cleric, and Mr. Pitt
ever larger in front of them as they descended over to the wheelhouse. “Eggplant, I want you Bola was so stunned that she stopped
on it from on high. to listen in on this. Here’s what we’re looking twirling her dagger in mid-sequence. “Red or
Flynn called for Bola and spoke to Mr. Pitt. at. We’re tracking an incoming fleet of twelve Yellow?”
“I wish I knew where the cleric was. We could Sylvan ships; two warships, and a collection
of smaller, faster sloops. We don’t yet know if “Yellow,” said Flynn, watching her closely.
really use him today.”
they were assembled as a direct result of the Cleric Vaneras looked very troubled. Bola,
Vaneras climbed the stair from below. “Did attack on the cliffs of Yempher, or if they had however, couldn’t have looked any happier.
I hear my name?” already been assembled before then and we Flynn watched the two of them closely.
just missed them by pure dumb luck. After a
Flynn whirled. “Cleric Vaneras! I was afraid quick reconnoiter earlier, we have reason to Eggplant asked the question from the
we’d lost you at port!” believe this is a fleet cobbled together on the interior of the wheelhouse. “Uh, who are the
spur-of-the-moment using particularly fierce Glorifizers?”
The cleric looked puzzled. “After seeing mercenaries instead of Sylvan soldiers.”
everything I needed to see at Parrot Bay, I met Flynn said, “Mercenaries.”
the doctor and we came back to the ship.” Bola perked right up. “Mercs? Who? Which
outfit?” Cleric Vaneras added, “Not just any merce-
It was Flynn’s turn to look puzzled. “You naries. Menorran mercenaries.”
didn’t spend the night at Parrot Bay?” Flynn said, “I’ll get to that in a moment. Mr.
Pitt will explain the practical plan.” Eggplant said, “I thought Menorra was just
The cleric looked sheepish. “I’ve gotten a legend.”

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Flynn said, “Not only is Menorra real, I’ve arguments do not sway them, and they have already know that you have the mettle to take
been there, and I’ve seen these mercs in action utterly no mercy. But give them a chance to part in any battle. But while many of us can
first-hand.” enshrine their names in history, and they’ll go fight, only you can, uh.”
to the end of the world to battle the Adversary
Mr. Humble walked by. “What’s real?” himself.” Vaneras looked at him. “Cooper Flynn, are
you asking me to sit this battle out to focus
“Menorra.” Flynn said, “Exactly. Which is what makes on communing with Cyl on behalf of the crew
them so completely implacable. But that’s not during the battle?”
“Who?” to say they can’t be influenced.” He turned
and looked at his own mercenary. “And Bola, Flynn looked at his feet, took a deep breath,
“It’s a place. Menorra is a utopian society
that brings us back to your part in this. I have and then met his eyes. “Yes. Please.” And then
on the other side of the world, a city state
something for you so dangerous that I wouldn’t he went to talk to Bola.
where the denizens don’t believe in labor.”
even think of recommending it for anyone Cleric Vaneras went below. He passed
“Who does the work, then?” else.” Chain walking past the galley.
“That’s their dirty little secret. Anyway, the “I’m in!” she said. Chain said, “Are you going to board those
common Menorran believes in the doctrine of
Cleric Vaneras put his hands up. “Uh, Bola, ships with Mr. Pitt and Bola?”
Requiescence—peace, calm, breathing space,
happiness, rest, relaxation. It is a religion you really might want to ask what the plan is Vaneras shook his head and said, “The
of prosperity and ease. However, not all before making any rash decisions...” captain asked me to stay here and entreat Cyl
Menorrans believe in peace and relaxation.” on everyone’s behalf in battle.”
She whirled and looked down at the cleric.
Mr. Humble said, “Let me guess—these He was a good sized man at six feet two, but Chain didn’t quite roll his eyes. “Ok, then.
mercenaries are a rogue offshoot?” she was another couple of inches taller even Best wishes with that.”
than he. “Why, ‘Rash’ is my middle name!”
Flynn nodded. “They don’t officially exist. As Chain went his way to the engine room,
However, they are lucrative enough that the Mr. Humble exploded in laughter until he Vaneras nodded his head to himself. He started
city fathers indulge their borderline heresy caught her glare, and then choked it into a to walk again. However, instead of going to his
as long as the coffers keep sailing in, and the thinly-manufactured coughing spasm. hammock, he went to Flynn’s cabin, quietly
Menorran Mercenaries are some of the best entered the room and closed the door. He
in the trade. Their one affectation comes in # walked around behind Flynn’s desk and sat in
the form of their appearance—their garb and his chair. He put his face in his hands. “Oh, Cyl,”
their hair. Unlike common mercenaries, they As Alacrity approached the incoming fleet, he whispered. “I think I’m in deep trouble.”
care little about filthy lucre. It is a means to an Captain Flynn had Mr. Pitt bring up the barrels
end.” and make ready with a lit torch, just in case. He #
saw cleric Vaneras walk past. Flynn reached a
“What do they fight for, then?” hand out and grabbed the cleric’s arm. Flynn found Bola. “I’d like you to take a
Cleric Vaneras said, “Glory. That’s how they Vaneras stopped and looked over at Flynn. stock of rifled muskets and pour down fire on
got their nickname, ‘Gloryfizers.’ They fight His expression was unfathomable. those mercs. Keep them on their toes. It will
for posterity, to put their personal stamp on dangerous because you’ll be up front in the
history. They don’t listen to reason, normal Flynn said, “Cleric, I have a favor to ask. I nets, exposed to the deck. Can’t be helped.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 30

However, you’re a crack shot, and I trust you to The next fell halfway down and broke on Despite popular opinion and all recent
make your presence felt.” a lower yardarm. It was almost better, raining history to the contrary, this time, Bola knew
fire and sharp bits down onto the deck. Mr. Pitt exactly what she was doing.
“Aye, Flynn,” she said, her eyes sparkling. dropped four more until they had covered the
ship from stem to stern in raining death. Her job.
Flynn went back to the wheelhouse. “Mr.
Pitt. Are we ready?” “Bring her around to Starboard, Eggplant, She fell toward the Sylvan warship with
and take us close enough to board. And bring considerably more confidence than the first
Pitt steadied the first barrel and prepared time she’d tried this maneuver. She’d ended up
out the brooms.”
to light the fuse. He nodded. in the water that time. This time, she watched
“Aye, Captain,” said Eggplant. the ship get larger and larger beneath her and
Flynn watched Mr. Yhen for the signal to aimed herself at the band of yellow tunics
indicate when they were approaching the first “The what?” said Bola. beneath her. She engaged her skypack enough
warship. “On my mark, cant her to Starboard to arrest the bulk of her fall until she was ten
and keep her steady as she goes until you “The foredeck is essentially impassable feet above the deck, and then she cut it again.
hear my mark, and then heave to hard to right now. We need to make another pass to
Starboard.” clear the central deck, and then we’ll need She fell into the midst of the fiercesome
to get a lot of bodies down onto that ship as Menorran Mercenaries, flattening four of them
“Aye, Captain.” quickly as possible. After the next pass, we’ll with her fall, and knocking over another ten by
drop sweepers off to clear paths and then drop simple chain reaction. She bounced to her feet
“Three, two, one... Now, Eggplant! as many sailors as possible to follow them up and whirled her sword over her head in a circle,
The ship started to rotate to Starboard, and and finish taking the ship below deck. Inciden- slicing everything around her. Before the mercs
Mr. Pitt lit the first keg. tally, I’d like you and Mr. Yhen to provide cover could get their bearings, she’d darted forward
fire for the sweepers while they’re making and dropped three more of their number. She
“We’re going to get one shot at this,” said their first pass. Keep a sharp eye on the stairs waved her sword in front of her and charged
Flynn. Mr. Pitt, you drop the kegs. You men coming up from below. Mr. Pitt. Please keep into the press of shellshocked mercs in front
bring them forward for him to light and drop, one keg ready in case we need to make one of her, bulling through the crowd, felling
and we’ll clear the decks for the sailors. Ready? last drop.” mercs left and right with her sword. She broke
Let fly!” through the line and sprinted toward the wall
Bola rushed to the railing. She yelled, “I of fire left by the dropped kegs. She bounced
Mr. Pitt braced his foot against the rail and have another idea. Cover me, Yhen!” lightly and engaged her skypack, alighting on
had a rope tied around his waist. He lit the the far side of the maelstrom.
first keg and heaved it overboard. Flynn ran to And then she kicked off over the edge.
the rail, and looked over, ready to punch his She turned and faced the hired killers, her
“What is she doing?” growled Mr. Pitt.
skypack. hair whipping around her face in the wind,
Flynn bellowed, “Hold your fire! Mr. Pitt, blood dripping off her sword, a feral smile on
The keg fell down, down, and landed on prepare the attack squad. Eggplant, bring us her face.
deck, exploding as it did. There were screams. about as quickly as you can! Bola’s down there
by herself.” Her heart beat within her chest as she got
“Well, that worked,” said the Captain, her breath and assessed the impact her surprise
grimly. “Keep ‘em lighting and dropping until attack had on the deadly mercenaries.
we pass over. #

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 31

There were so many times she felt like It was hard to tell from his vantage, but it “Prepare to take us down on my mark,”
what she was, an orphan without a home, a looked like he was clapping. bellowed Flynn.
warrior woman in a society that didn’t know
what to do with her skills. The only man who’d # #
ever treated her as a peer was Cooper Flynn,
and the only place she ever felt at home was The effect was muted through leather Gravin was sprawled on the deck with
on Alacrity. But even there, she was a freak, a gloves, but the merc was clearly clapping. The Bola’s sword at his throat when Flynn’s boots
long blade in a short scabbard. She never really thuds were slow, deliberate, menacing. The hit the deck. “I beg you,” said the compromised
had a chance to redeem herself. merc was of average height, slim but wiry, mercenary, “are all your swordsman as good as
possessed of cold, intelligent eyes. He was you?”
Until now. Cooper had bit off more than he smiling, but it was a humorless appearance. “I
could chew this time. The only reason Glorifiz- “Nah,” she said. “Better,” she said. “I’m not
am Gravin,” he said.
ers understood was brash, brazen, completely even the second best swordsman on the ship. I
hopeless action. “I am Bola,” she replied. just happen to be more rash than the others.”
Which, as it happened, was her one true “That was some show you put on. Do you Flynn approached, his signature sword
specialty. do anything else that doesn’t rely on surprise, buzzing and snapping as he activated the stud
or is that it for you?” in the hilt. “So, Bola, did you leave any glory for
She waited on the far side of the fire as they the rest of us?”
collected themselves and got their bearings. “Come over here and find out,” she said,
her mind curiously calm as she weighed her “I’m afraid not, Captain, unless you want to
And then things would really get interest- next move. tackle that sister ship over there.”
ing...
Gravin’s eyes flickered down and took in “Perfect!” said Flynn. “Sword hasn’t drunk
# the scene. And then, meeting her steady gaze from the sanguine pool yet today.”
and holding it, he strode though the flames,
“Well, that’s it,” said Mr. Humble, mourn- and her next move was made for her. Gravin said to Flynn, “Is that what I think
fully. “She’s stone crazy.” it is?”
“They will sing tales of your bravery when
“Crazy like a fexi, perhaps,” mused Captain you are dead,” she said. And then she drew Flynn looked at Gravin. “You’re from
Flynn, trying to keep an eye on her exploits her sword. “Which will be about thirty seconds Menorra? You know what this is?”
down below as Alacrity fought her way around from now.” Gravin nodded, looking more intrigued
in a circle to come back to the warship below. than cowed.
He saw her drop into the midst of the mercs #
like a stone and then saw bodies fly every “I’m not giving it back. I won it, and I’m
which-way like an explosion. He saw her blow The smoke from the fire kept obscuring his keeping it.”
through the mob and flip over the fire to a view, but Flynn saw enough—the Merc leader
clear part of the deck. walking through the fire, the two of them Gravin stood without permission from
trading jibes, their briefly furious exchange, anybody, receiving the attention of two swords
And then he watched one merc approach pointed at his chest. He appeared utterly
the sword that went flying.
her by himself. unconcerned. “Are you serious about taking

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 32

over the other warship?” but they’re your responsibility.” warships, one was sent fleeing back north to
Sylvan waters with a skeleton crew to relate
Bola said, “Just as serious as I am about Bola looked at Flynn with a droll expres- the news, and the rest docked at Roarke’s
taking over this one.” sion. “Yes, Captain. I promise I’ll have them go Island. As far as casualties went, ten mercenar-
on the paper.” ies fell in the space of a single minute to Bola’s
Gravin thought for a moment. “We could sword, but achieved great glory in the process
help you with that.” Flynn laughed. “There’s no way that should according to their way of thinking, and their
have worked.”
Bola snorted. “I don’t need your help. I brethren privately envied the place those ten
don’t want your help.” Bola said, “Only a lunatic would ever have names would have in history. Legends would
attempted it.” And then she smiled and walked be written, songs would be sung. Seventy-
Gravin scratched his cheek lightly with his through the fire. five Sylvans died when they foolishly resisted
index finger. “Please?” the turncoat mercenaries.] Okay, I’m tired,
“Crazy like a fexi,” murmured Flynn to so maybe that’s it, but I don’t get this... Not
Bola looked at Flynn. “Captain?” himself, and he followed after them. one Haddirronian was so much as scratched,
although two in particular were a little singed.
Flynn said, “Don’t look at me. This isn’t my
decision.” #
Flynn returned to his cabin and strode
into the room. The light of the setting sun
Bola sighed and rolled her eyes. “Captain, The rest of the day was an exercise in sur- streamed in from the window, revealing a sil-
Flynn, can I keep them?” reality. Alacrity disappeared into the clouds, houette slumped over the desk. Flynn heard
the SRN Gumpter suddenly changed course
Flynn corrected. “May I.” quiet whispering.
and veered over to the other warship, SRN
Drender, and then, inexplicably, fired a shot “Cleric?”
Bola said, “I thought you said it wasn’t your over the bow of her sister ship.
decision.” Vaneras took a deep breath. “Thank you,”
The Gloryfizers on the Drender rushed to he whispered, “So say we all.” And then he
Gravin laughed. the railing to repel an invasion when they were sat up. He stretched and rose. He looked a
Flynn said, “Figure of speech. Gravin, are greeted with the first wave of mercs dropping question at Flynn.
you and yours willing to come fight with us over with skypacks, led by Gravin and Bola.
for the sake of glory alone, doing what I say as There was a brief discussion between the Flynn smiled. “You’d better go topside. I
long as I deliver to you moment of opportunity mercs in yellow, and then the Sylvan sailors have no idea how to explain what happened.
on a regular basis?” were unceremoniously herded below-deck How, uh. How did it go for you here?”
and locked into the brig. The Drender fired
Gravin’s eyes were hungry, but he played one cannon and Alacrity reappeared out of the Vaneras grinned gently. “I have no idea
it calm. “Walk through the fire with me, and clouds, dropping sailors onto the decks of the how to explain what happened.”
you have an agreement.” And he strolled back two warships. After that, the Gumpter turned Flynn snorted. “Fair enough.”
through the maelstrom to the mercs on the west and the Drender turned east, and they
other side of the deck. started pulling up alongside the sloops, one by Vaneras slipped by and started to leave.
one.
Flynn looked at Bola. “You really are As he reached the door, he heard, “And
amazing. I’m still not cleaning up after an army The ‘battle’ was over before the sun set cleric…”
of mercs. You want them, you can have them, for the day. Of the twelve incoming Sylvan

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 21, For Blood And Glory by Johne Cook Pg. 33

Vaneras stopped and cocked his head. Eggplant chuckled and then told him about Flynn to support my impulse without landing
the battle: how Bola knew something of the all the troops and spoiling my gambit. Thanks,
“Thanks,” said Flynn. history of the yellow Glortizers and literlly flew Egon,” she said, and she winked.
to the attack on the Menorran mercenaries by
Vaneras waited a moment and then The cleric’s brow raised. “I think that’s the
herself. He told about the skirmish on the deck,
nodded, once, closing the door behind him. As first time I’ve heard you call you by your given
and how Flynn had joined her down there, two
he walked down the narrow corridor, to past name.”
against many.
the galley, he passed Chain, who said, “Well
done, cleric.” “The captain’s real genius was building on Eggplant grinned despite himself. “You
Bola’s success recruiting the Menorran mer- need to get out more—that makes twice
Vaneras stopped. He opened his mouth, today.”
cenaries. He split their forces between the
closed it again in thought. He shook his head Alacrity and the Tanith with the understand-
slightly. “Chain, I think I don’t know that I really The cleric laughed out loud and clapped
ing that there would be ample opportunity for
did anything,” he said. Eggplant on the back.
blood and glory. For her part, after spending
Chain adjusted his glasses. “I think I believe the night in the stockade at Parrot Bay, alone
among all the hangers-on, Bola found herself #
you really did.” He clapped the cleric firmly
on the shoulder and went back to the engine worshipped as the warrior goddess of her own
mercenary army. And Captain Flynn won a Hovering high overhead above the scene,
room.
major battle without losing a single soul.” as twilight faded to evening, a black albatross
Vaneras bobbed his head once to nobody in observed everything with unblinking eyes of
particular and climbed the steps to the deck. Eggplant cut the power and settled Alacrity neon green.
into the water at the dock. “It seems the
The cleric stretched his back and cracked merchants’ trust in Flynn was redeemed, and
his neck as he reached the deck. He walked to now you have a new flock to minister to.”
the rail and saw they were descending to make
port again at Parrot Bay. He could see the two The cleric smiled softly. End of Chapter 21
Sylvan warships making for the port. At that moment, Bola walked past the The Adventures of the Sky Pirate continue next
He heard a sound behind him and watched wheelhouse. She reversed her steps and stuck month.
as a group of yellow-clad fighters walked calmly her head in. “Hey, cleric. Thanks for asking to
past, chattering among themselves about your god to help me. That idea came clear out
the action seen during the day. One of them of the blue—maybe it was you, and maybe it
nodded at him, and he nodded back. was me, but it saved many lives today, and I
have a great story to tell.” Johne Cook
He walked to the wheelhouse and stuck his
head in. “Hello, Eggplant.” Vaneras seemed comically stricken. “Does
everybody know about my private prayers?” Johne is a technical writer, help author,
Eggplant looked over. “Hello, cleric.” creative writer, and editor.
Bola grinned. “What’s the expression?
Vaneras said, “What did I miss while I was ‘No private nobility goes undisciplined.’” She
below-deck?” turned to Eggplant. “And you,” she said. “Mr. He likes prog rock, space opera, film noir,
Pitt told me how your quick thinking persuaded and the Green Bay Packers.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 34
Memory Wipe
Chapter 19, The World of Fire
by Sean T. M. Stiennon

T akeda’s muscles were so sore he could
barely walk. An awkward hobble was the
best he could manage, even drawing on his
Tong. He couldn’t make any noise, just in case
a crewman above heard him and pried up a
panel or two to investigate.
He jabbed one finger at Takeda. The last
joint was missing. “Those aren’t proper clothes,
and you don’t walk like one of the Hands. What
powers, and he had to keep one arm braced you doing in this quarter?”
against the concrete wall of the building at his Still, he had survived, and he had really
side. It still felt warm hours after sunset. thought he’d be caught only once. Inspectors Takeda racked his exhausted brain for a
boarded the ship a few hours before landing. response. Even his mouth felt stiff after weeks
Crimson panels mounted on eight-foot He had been able to hear their boots on the of inactivity. “I’m...I came with a merchant
poles spread garish light across the dirt streets. panels above him, hear their muffled voices. ship. Just looking for a drink.”
Deep ruts had been worn in the roads from
decades of vehicles grinding along the same Caulthor’s night lasted seventy hours. “No one here’d give you a cup of third-
routes. Gray dust drifted up with every weary Takeda estimated that about five of those had round piss. What, you think Rockmen have
step Takeda took. Every metal door he passed already passed. He had waited through many fancy wine ready to spare for any spacer with
was closed, and there was light underneath long hours of unloading, hearing shipping a few coins?”
only a handful of them. The buildings were crates scrape and thump overhead, hearing the
crewmen swearing at each other, praying that Takeda opened his mouth to answer but
largely identical lumps of gray concrete, made
none of them would notice missing rations or was cut off. “We got nothing, and your coins
lurid by the red lights.
the panel he had forced up. aren’t worth shit. You go haul your white hide
He looked up at the sky. Deep, unbroken back to your ship and leave hard-working men
black, reflecting nothing, showing nothing. At last, however, the cargo bay had grown in peace.”
It was like one of his nightmares, but every silent, and Takeda had wormed his way out of
the ship’s guts and into the city. Another door swung open, just behind and
throb of his muscles and every breath of dry to Takeda’s right, and a second voice—just as
air reminded him that he was fully awake. On “Hey, you!” a raw voice barked from behind raw and even more thickly accented, barked
some level, he knew it was a massive dome him, Imperish and heavily accented. out, “Quiet, Jace, and give us some peace! I’ve
dark enough to filter Caulthor’s harsh sunlight got another hour left before my shift’s over,
during the planet’s day cycle. Takeda turned, surging energy into his and I’d appreciate quiet.”
muscles so that he might stand a chance of
For two weeks of voyage, Takeda had running. A man had emerged from a doorway Jace stabbed his cut-off finger at Takeda.
remained curled up in a dark crawl-space fifteen feet behind him. He wore a pair of “Look at him! He’s no Rockman, Metalman, or
beneath the cargo hold. Occasional runs for battered gray workpants smeared with thick Wheeler. Just some soft-finger who thought
food or water when he thought the crew was black dust and a jacket of some rough material he’d chase our women a bit.”
sleeping only made it more difficult to go back over a bare chest. His skin looked like it was
into the darkness. The air and metal around him The new man looked even more careworn
colored a deep, burnt red, but that might just
had been so cold, sometimes he had worried than the first, but his beard had been hacked
have been the streetlights. He probably wasn’t
he would freeze to death in his sleep. He had short recently, and his hair was tied back in a
older than thirty-five, but the creases in his
thought about everything and nothing—Sher- neat braid. He shifted his bloodshot eyes to
face ran deep and ash-gray stained his hair and
ri, Zartsi, Esheera, Lashiir, Vass, Walking Evils, Takeda. “You know...the Domemaster’s got a
beard.

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Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 35

tavern for your kind. Loose girls there. You can “Put that down,” the man David said. “I a minute before he let the energy dissipate
stay away from ours.” think he’s telling the truth, Jace, at least about throughout his body.
the stowing away. He doesn’t look like any
Both men were lean with muscle, and spacer I’ve seen, and he’s not one of us.” “You want to come in?” David asked,
Takeda felt a twinge of fear. He should have holding his door open. The light inside seemed
found someplace to rest, recover his strength Jace’s face went a paler red as blood drained bright after the darkness of the streets.
and speed, before venturing into these red out of it. “You don’t think...he’s a Hand after
streets. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I wasn’t looking all? Or one of the Lord’s men?” “What will you do if I don’t?”
for trouble. I’m just lost.”
“If he was, you’d have lost your eyes the “Lock my door, get another hour of sleep,
“Lost going where?” the new man asked. moment you stopped him. The Lord doesn’t then head to my shift in the pits. Nothing
His voice was hard, but not angry. Takeda need seeing men for the deep mines.” much, and you’ll still be wandering around like
thought he might have some chance of getting a sixty-hour drunk.”
away without having to run or fight. “And don’t Takeda back-stepped away from Jace,
putting David fully into his field of vision. Energy Takeda felt himself smiling for the first time
give me some story about deserting your ship.
crackled in his palms, making his skin tingle. since he had left Zartsi and Esheera behind.
That’s no spacer uniform.”
The Lord—Tong. The man who had kidnapped There was no danger in this man, and he didn’t
That knocked Takeda off-balance, and he Sherri and summoned Takeda to Caulthor in have any better place to begin his search for a
spent long seconds scrambling for another the first place. way to rescue Sherri. He nodded.
lie. Jace growled behind him. “We should just
David turned to him and raised one heavy “All right. I’ll stay for a few minutes.”
knock him over the head and be done. I haven’t
got time to haul him back.” eyebrow. “You want to come in an talk for a David held the door open, then shut and
minute? You’re the strangest thing I’m likely to barred it after Takeda had entered the room. It
The truth. Nothing else would do him any see before these bones stop moving. Plenty of was lit by a single bulb that cast weak yellow-
good. “I was a stowaway,” Takeda said. our boys try to leave, but I’ve never heard of tinted light. The few pieces of furniture were
anyone trying to get in.”
“You mean they caught you and kicked you molded from rough, dark-colored plastic: two
out?” the second man asked. “You sure that’s a good idea?” Jace growled. chairs, a table, a locker, a stand with a screen
Takeda noticed that he had stuck his hammer on it, a few cupboards. An open doorway
“No...no, I mean I stowed away to get here. back into its place on his belt. across the room led into darkness. Takeda felt
I wanted to find work.” fresh beads of sweat welling up from his skin
“Don’t you have a shift to be getting to? as he entered the room’s heat.
Jace’s laugh sounded like a whip cracking. You don’t want whippers knocking down your
“Damn, and I thought I had trouble lying. I think door, mate.” “Just your basic one-man unit,” David said,
two chances is enough, don’t you, David?” gesturing with one hand. “Have a seat if you
Jace grunted. “Right. Careful, though, like. It’s been a while since my last hand-out,
A hammer had appeared in Jace’s hand—not David. Don’t die earlier than you have to.” but if you want some food, I can probably find
one of the tiny utility hammers Takeda remem- something.”
bered from the casino, but a sledge that must “I don’t plan on it.”
have weighed four pounds. He tensed, drawing Takeda pulled a hard-angled chair out from
energy into his hands. “I’m not lying,” he hissed. Jace gave Takeda another hard look, then the table and sat. “You live here alone?”
“I stowed away to come to Caulthor.” strode away into the crimson twilight of the
dome-city’s streets. Takeda watched him for “I had a wife and a couple boys. Boys died

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Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 36

when the rock-chewer they were working went a little confused...or maybe just thought he’d “Don’t mention it. So...given that I already
wrong, wife died of exhaustion. The Hands sneak out and get a look at our homes first- know enough to bring the Hands down on you,
haven’t decided to give me a new woman yet, hand.” won’t you be honest with me? I’m not exag-
and I don’t think they’re going to.” gerating when I say you’re the most interesting
Takeda tensed once more. Perhaps this thing ever to wander down that street.”
“The...Hands?” hand been a mistake. Did David have some way
of contacting these “Hands”? Takeda licked his cracked lips with a dry
“The Lord’s men,” David said, sitting down tongue. He didn’t have anything to gain and
across from Takeda. “Now, are you ready to tell “Would you earn a reward if you turned me everything to lose by telling this miner why
me the truth about why you’re out here in the in?” he asked. he had wormed his way onto Caulthor. But if
Rockman quarters? Hell, why’d you come close the man was lying...he was good at it. Better
to this damned province in the first place?” “Yes. They’d probably let me have a wife than Takeda could imagine a poor miner being.
again, up my water ration, maybe give me a What reason would David have to lie? If he had
“I don’t think I can answer that,” Takeda grog ration too.” wanted to contact the authorities, he would
said, staring at the pebbled pattern on the
He met Takeda’s gaze evenly, and his voice have made some excuse, offered Takeda his
table-top.
was completely honest. His honesty made bed, and went to fetch them.
“Imperial spy, huh?” Takeda feel more at ease than if he had tried “Count Tong took a friend of mine,” Takeda
to downplay the benefits of handing him over.
Takeda jerked his head back up. David’s said, softly. “I’m here to save her.”
“Have you contacted them?”
worn face was creased with a wry smile. “Am David’s blood-cracked eyes widened in
I right?” “No.” leathery sockets. “I didn’t know he took off-
“No,” Takeda said. “No, I’ve never worked “Would Jace?” worlders. She in the mines?”
for the Empire.”
“I doubt he has the guts.” “I don’t know,” Takeda answered. “I don’t
“Ah, well. It was a fine guess. Your kind think so. But he took her...and I can’t let him
usually go the Domemaster and tell him you’re “Will you tell your foreman as soon as I keep her. I’ll take her home even if I have to kill
beginning an inspection. Then they crush you, leave?” Tong to do it.”
and a message goes back to the Emperor that David shrugged. “I like being honest. It David’s breath wheezed out of his lungs
you never arrived.” would be a great comfort to be allowed to in something halfway between a cough and a
“Not much information seems to get out of marry again. And a man can never have too laugh. “You know, there’s a man in my pit who
Caulthor,” Takeda said. much water. I’d like to. But I’m not going to. thinks little worms live in his ears and talk to
You know why?” him at night. He rants every minute they aren’t
“Right. You’re probably surprised I even beating him. Still...I don’t think I’ve met a crazy
know there’s an Empire. We figure things out. “Why?” man until today.”
The spacers and their whores talk sometimes, David bent forward, narrowing his eyes. He scratched his beard with one hand
and the Hands can’t keep everything out. I “Because life is too bad as it is without making while staring at Takeda as if he had started to
know that what goes on here would boil some it worse for anyone else.” combust. “You realize that you’ll probably die
blood in other provinces. Offworlders come
sometimes, asking questions, and precious few before you see the sun again? I can see you’ve
Takeda sighed. “True enough. Thank you.”
of them ever leave. I think you’re one who got got muscle, but the Hands...they aren’t like

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 37

workers. They have power.” Takeda nodded. “I’m sorry.” David rolled his eyes up towards the ceiling
and curled his cracked lips. He tilted his head
Takeda could have melted the table resting “Not your fault. We Rockmen...we don’t in one direction, then rolled it back the other
between them in seconds and could probably know much. There are programs on the vid- way. “You know...there actually might. But
have demolished the concrete house with a screen, but only ones the Lord allows, and we time’s getting on and I have a shift to make.
little bit more time. He suspected he could do don’t move around much.” You can stay here—I’ll just have to kill the
more than most of David’s Hands. Showing him lights. Anyone comes knocking, hide under the
that might make the temptation to turn him in He bent forward slightly, putting his elbows mattress and keep quiet for your life’s sake.
too great. up on the table. “I can tell you this, though—the Have a drink, but leave me a liter or two.”
Lord lives in a mountain near Caulthor’s south
“I know it’s dangerous,” Takeda said. “But I pole. There’s a small settlement there, with He pointed to one of the cupboards, then
have to try.” a little spear-gem mining and not much else. stood up. A rough smile cracked his features.
But there’s another spot about...maybe eighty “You know, I never asked your name. What is
David tapped his fingers against the table. miles away, where they strip out raw iron. A it?”
Takeda couldn’t help but notice how rough lot of men work there. They tend to take older
his hands were, criss-crossed by so many miners who they can afford to lose.” “Takeda,” he said. Tong knew the name,
old wounds that scar tissue seemed to have but David seemed to be taking a great risk by
replaced his skin. He was missing entire finger- “Why’s that?” letting Takeda stay in his apartment.
nails.
“The volcanos down there are active. The “Good to meet you, Takeda,” he answered.
“You know, I think you’ve been telling deeper mines get hot enough to kill a man, and
the truth since you sat down. I won’t try to sometimes there’s a magma leak.” He collected a belt with a few simple tools
dissuade you. I’d just ask you how you plan to from a peg to one side of the door and put it
accomplish that.” Takeda tapped his fingers. “I see,” he said. on. Then, without another word, he stepped
“How far is that from here?” out into the crimson street and shut the metal
Takeda shrugged. “Good information about door after him.
Caulthor is hard to find. I couldn’t figure out “Three thousands miles, give or take a few
exactly where Tong’s capital is located, and I hundred.” There was still a chance that David was
don’t think he allows any ships to land there. going to bring Tong’s enforcers down on him.
The despair touching Takeda’s heart
I thought I would worry about getting myself They’d take him, torture him, kill him. And
deepened just a bit as he thought about the
here first, then find a way to get to Tong.” Sherri would die with him—they’d have no use
number. “Not possible,” he said. for her, once they had him.
He noticed that David flinched slightly “You bet your ass it wouldn’t be possible to
every time he pronounced Tong’s name. “Are But if he didn’t trust David...attempting
get that far on foot. Caulthor soil can support
you all right?” he asked. three thousand miles of blasted wasteland
plants in some places, but I don’t know of many would be like trying to voyage between galaxies
David shook his head. “It’s nothing. Nothing edible without engineering. Water would be in an atmospheric jet. Impossible.
to you, at least. But here...any of the hands even harder. It’s just not there.”
heard me talking about the Lord so casually, And Takeda had forfeited his life the
“Is there any way an offworld stowaway
they’d whip me into bloody rags and send me moment he had snuck aboard the Gallant
could make his way down there, then?” Takeda
out on a triple-shift.” Snatch. He could hardly consider himself fully
asked. alive until Sherri was safe once more. There

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 38

was no way to avoid mortal danger—he could female with lines of golden beads gleaming in from trade, passenger hauling, smuggling, or
only select which risks he would take from the snow-white of her hair. A robe of deep red mercenary activity.
among the thousands facing him. hung from her shoulders.
The ice-haired female answered without a
He chose to trust David. He seemed to be “Ratch Suto,” she said, in a voice just above pause. “Ridiculous.”
a good man. Takeda accepted the miner’s offer a whisper. “Who do you bring before us?”
of a drink, taking just enough to wet his throat, The warrior who had spoken before added,
then turned out the light and groped his way Ratch—a lean warrior with his black hair with a snort, “You’re not content to show your
back to his chair through the darkness. When tied back in a steel chain—stepped in front of ugly snout here in the first place. You have to
David returned from his shift, they would Esheera and gave a stiff bow. He had been all try and rob us into the bargain.”
talk about how Takeda might cover the three swagger greeting Esheera.
Esheera felt anger burn away a little of her
thousand miles separating him from Sherri. “Esheera Nii and her companion, Zartsi,” fear. She was the daughter of Eshmauk and
he hissed. Raidi, the wife of Jaago Laan. She had worked
# hard all her life. No being had any right to insult
One of the councilors made a loud choking her.
The Suto Enclave Council held court deep sound, and Esheera looked up to see one of
within the moon’s crust, in a chamber that the warriors rise to his feet, shaking his wing- “I’m a widow,” she hissed, tilting her head
looked as if it had been hacked of the gray stone flaps loudly. “And why do we need Nii bastards to display the gray beads in her hair. “I have no
with rocksaws. The walls gleamed with specks here?” he spat. money, no home, no ship, no livelihood. I am
of quartz in the pale gold light that poured from Nii, but I haven’t let my pride prevent me from
ornately decorated lanterns hanging from the The old female turned towards him. “Quiet, coming to you.”
ceiling on chains. Rich hangings obscured much Rizzik,” she said, and those two words were
of the raw stone, depicting events ranging from enough to silence him. “Pride?” the warrior hissed. “It’s pride to
the romance of Sheetis and Vak to the slaying think the Suto owe you a can of used oil.”
She turned to Esheera. Her gaze was
of the Hot Fang. anything but comforting—Esheera felt a fresh “Quiet, Rizzik,” the old female said again.
The Suto warrior Ratch led Esheera and wave of cold wash over her as she looked into Then she turned back to Esheera. Her gaze was
Zartsi down a curved ramp to stand in a circle those deep-set eyes. “Speak, Nii,” she said. cold. “I will give you one more minute before I
of smooth rock. Abstract carving embellished have Ratch space you.”
Esheera breathed deeply and released the
the circle’s perimeter and Blacksnout guards breath slowly, trying to calm herself and slow She spoke in the Rover tongue, but Zartsi
surrounded them. Esheera’s insides wormed the pounding of her heart. “Aged councilors, understood—he dropped into a fighting crouch
themselves into knots as she looked up at the I’ve come to request the Jallinza right from the and his hands went to his daggers. “If they
stone dais looming above her. Suto clan.” attack, I kill,” he hissed to Esheera in Imperish.
Nine Vitai sat on the council, every one Under the terms of that right, Esheera would The warrior councillor, Rizzik, twitched his
wearing the black face paint of the Suto. A be allowed to draw upon whatever reserves of wrist, cocking his volgi. “Are the Suto so weak
couple were obviously warriors, with blade- scrap parts and hulks the enclave possessed. they have to kill widows?” she spat, anger
throwing volgi strapped to their arms and In exchange, she would operate her new ship superseding fear.
iron rings in their ears and noses, but others in the name of the Suto clan and give them a
showed streaks of white in their hair and deep “You knew our clan when you came here,”
substantial portion of any money she made
lines in their skin. The eldest sat in the center, a the female said.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 39

“Yes. I thought you would enjoy seeing how wrestle?” Rover men gave their women a knife at the
much I’ve debased myself. You think my family beginning of the courtship. It symbolized his
would like to know I came crawling to you?” Shocked expressions appeared on a few desire to defend her, and in practical terms it
faces. The elder female—Milsu—looked gave a woman a way to defend her virtue from
The female shook her head. “Your request surprised for the first time since the hearing him if he grew too eager. Jaggo had pressed
remains denied.” had begun. Esheera heard Ratch snort, and this blade into her hand over a decade ago.
one of the other guards laughed harshly. Zartsi
The male sitting next to her—a merchant, tensed further. Esheera prayed to all the kind She lifted it to her lips and gently pressed
judging by the silver chain looped around his stars he wouldn’t do anything stupid. the back of the blade against her nose as she
neck— snorted loudly from her side. “That’s kissed the grip. Jaggo, she thought, give me
not entirely fair, Ash Milsu,” he said, his voice “So that’s going to be your demonstra- the strength to throw this Blacksnout down.
smooth like snake-skin. “We haven’t given the tion?” the merchant asked. “Show us what Whether he would have approved of this
poor Emshi a chance to prove her worth.” strong arms you built up beating your slug of gambit or not, he wouldn’t want to see her
a Laan mate?” killed by Suto.
“How do you suggest?” Milsu asked.
She clenched her fists. “No. I’ll show you And if she did fail...she’d see him all the
The merchant waggled an ear at Esheera. that a Nii widow is more than a match for a sooner.
“What do you say? Anything you can do to Suto warrior.”
prove you’re worthy of being a Suto Jallinza? Esheera held the blade and offered Zartsi
Juggling or rope tricks, perhaps?” The reaction from the council—particularly the grip. “Keep this safe for me,” she said.
the warriors—was immediate. Wing-flaps
She ignored his scorn. “Zartsi will confirm flushed a deep, dark red and nostrils flared “What happens?” the Lithrallian hissed.
my honesty.” wide. Earrings and bracelets jangled. Even
the snow-haired Milsu was angered—Esheera “Rover grappling,” she said. “I just need to
“A Lithrallian who can barely keep his get his shoulders pinned, and I think I’ll have all
saw her eyes narrow deep within shriveled
weapons sheathed? I don’t think so,” the the scrap parts I want.”
sockets.
merchant answered. “All right, Ash Milsu.
You’d better have them hauled away. Watch Rizzik stood and leapt off the dais, already “Are you certain you wish to do this, Rizzik?”
the lizard.” working to unfasten the buckles of his volgi. the elder female asked, her voice cold.
Ratch took a step towards her. Esheera “I accept, Nii,” he said. “Yes,” the warrior said. “Someone has to
glared at him, saw the uncertainty on his face. show the woman her place.”
Would he really force her out an airlock if He handed the volgi to one of the guards.
ordered to do so? He was young, but the Suto Three knives, a twelve-inch stiletto, a tiny She let out a long, weary sigh. “Very well.
were hard warriors by any standard. four-shot revolver, and the pulser holstered Esheera Nii, if you can defeat Rizzik Suto in
on his hip followed. Esheera pulled out her grappling—judged by the council—the Jallinza
Warriors. A last, desperate gambit occurred own knife—the only weapon she carried. The right will be granted to you.”
to Esheera—one she would almost certainly weapon was simple but functional, with a
lose. But she couldn’t let Jaggo’s ghost see Rizzik pulled off the red leather jacket he
six-inch strome blade. Her eyes went to the
her suffocate in space without at least trying wore and tossed it to one of the guards. His
words engraved in the dark wooden grip: To
something. chest was left bare. He crossed his arms, and
Esheera, my only love. thick ropes of muscle strained against his skin
“Wait!” she barked. “Do any of you as he tightened them.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
Memory Wipe, Chapter 19, The World of Fire by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 40

Esheera spat on the stone at her feet. She She wondered if she had gone insane, or Sean T. M. Stiennon
shook her arms to loosen her joints, ignoring if she had only imagined light and her life on Sean is an author of fantasy and science fic-
Rizzik’s scowl. Belar. She thought of her father, her friends, tion novels and short stories, with many pub-
her co-workers, Takeda, the routine of work lications under his belt. His first short story
“On your mark,” she said to Milsu. at the Silver Sun and wondered if any of it collection, Six with Flinteye, was recently
had ever been real. Her hair never grew back. released from Silver Lake Publishing, and he
Zartsi stepped back, along with Ratch and She wondered if someone shaved it while she won 2nd place in both the 2004 SFReader.
the other guards, as Rizzik stepped into the slept. com Short Story Contest and the Storn Cook
polished circle. It was no more than twelve feet
in diameter—no room for much maneuvering. Infinite amounts of time passed. Razor-Edged Fiction Contest with his stories
Esheera splayed out her feet. “Asp” and “The Sultan’s Well,” respective-
Then, some time after she woke up from a ly. “The Sultan’s Well” has been published
“Begin,” Milsu said. particularly deep sleep, an opening appeared in the anthology Sages and Swords. Sean’s
overhead. The light was blinding, seemingly short story “Flinteye’s Duel” was published
Then Rizzik charged her. in Ray Gun Revival, Issue 01, and “Flinteye’s
too bright for her to tell the color. She instinc-
tively moved away from it, clutching herself to Sabotage” was published in Issue 35.
# hide her nakedness. A raw croak came from
her throat. Sean’s work tends to contain lots of action and
Only the fresh bowls of water and dry food adventure, but he often includes elements of
that appeared in her stone cell gave Sherri any Her eyes filled with tears, preventing her tragedy and loss alongside roaring bat-
way to track time. She couldn’t tell how many from seeing more than a dark blur standing in tles. A lot of his work centers around con-
times they fed her each day, or even what a the light. The voice that called to her, however, tinuing characters, the most prominent
day was. She ate and drank as a necessity and was soft and gentle. Feminine. “Are you hurt? of whom is Jalazar Flinteye (Six with Flin-
slept curled against the curving wall, her knees How long has it been?” teye). He also writes tales of Shabak of
tucked against her chest. No light broke the Talon Point (“Death Marks,” in issue #9 of
darkness. Sometimes she sang, hummed, or Sherri was too surprised to do more than Amazing Journeys Magazine), Blademas-
slapped her hands against the stone just to croak. The voice went on, “I’m sorry, I can’t ter (“Asp,” 2nd place winner in the 2004
break the silence. Even the food came silently, stay. He won’t kill you yet, I promise. I’ll come SFReader.com Contest), and others who
out of a panel in the floor which no amount of again soon.” have yet to see publication.
clawing or scraping would open. Then the door slammed shut, and Sherri
was smothered in darkness. Sean loves to read fantasy and science fic-
She cried often but quickly stifled her tion alongside some history, mysteries, and
tears. She feared that someone, somehow, historical novels. His favorites in-
was watching her every minute, staring out clude Declare by Tim Powers,
of the darkness at her nakedness. Sometimes the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
she crawled over every inch of the stone pit, trilogy by Tad Williams, Stephen Lawhead’s
sweeping the floor with her hands to make Song of Albion trilogy, and King Solomon’s
sure there was nothing alive in her cell but Mines by H. Rider Haggard. He has reviewed
her. Once it occurred to her that there might books for Deep Magic: The E-zine of High
be spiders swarming over the ceiling and she Fantasy and Science Fiction, and currently
would never know it. reviews books at SFReader.com.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008
 Pg. 41
The RGR Time Capsule
March 1 - March 14, 2008
Sci-Fi news from the Ray Gun Revival forums
RGR Date: March 08, 2008 Mutterings among critics and writers indicate I frankly don’t read much SF, haven’t for a long
Battlestar Galactica in 8 minutes that space opera may be on the rise again. What time, so I don’t know if space opera has taken
http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1807 are some themes from classic space operas of over the written word, but it sure dominates
Haven’t been keeping up in Battlestar Galac- the 50s and 60s that you’d like to see SF writers on the silver screen. Even one of the few mov-
tica? Here’s your 8 minute synopsis to catch taking on again? And what are some themes ies I’ve seen recently that seemed to be trying
up (and it’s frakkin’ for at least a smidgen
hilarious). of scientific accuracy,
Sunshine, was pretty
Do I really have to stupid.
slap the Spoiler tag on
this?
RGR Date:
http://io9. March 13, 2008
com/364874/battle- Speaking of space mon-
star-galactica-back- keys
story-in-8-minutes http://raygunrevival.
com/Forum/viewtopic.
The last survivors of php?t=1822
the human race join
up in a rag-tag fleet http://io9.
of ships following the com/367243/the-
Galactica through greatest-space-mon-
space, where cameras keys-of-all-time
have a difficult time Space Chimps, com-
keeping up. ing this summer, is
an animated movie
about the grandson
RGR Date: March 10, 2008 you’d just as soon leave behind? of the first chimp in space. Ham III gets blast-
John Varley: “Space opera... has conquered all” ed into space by an unscrupulous senator.
Space opera has not only arrived, it has con-
http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1815 Then, somehow, he gets zapped to a faraway
http://io9.com/365907/io9-talks-to-john-varley- quered all, since the release of Star Wars. Don’t star system, where he has to help overthrow
about-climate-disaster-and-space-opera get me wrong, I loved that movie (and none of the evil ruler of another inhabited planet.
the sequels), but I don’t see it as science fiction. Good thing two other smart, resourceful
Space opera was the topic of a question in an The 50s and 60s, as I remember them, was the chimps are on board his spaceship.
interview with noted sci-fi author John Varley. time when SF was moving away from the pulp
This is how it went: crap of L. Ron Hubbard and hacks like him, and
into more concerns of sociology and character.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 42, March 15, 2008

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