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Issue 30 September 15, 2007

 Pg. 2
Ray Gun Revival
Table of Contents
Overlords (Founders / Editors):
Johne Cook, L. S. King, Paul Christian Glenn 2 Table of Contents
Venerable Staff:
3 Overlords’ Lair
A.M. Stickel - Managing Copyeditor 5 The Golem, Part One
Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening
ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee by Robert Mancebo
Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand 12 The Fear of Going Digital
L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse,
webmistress
by Jordan Lapp
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle 21 Featured Artist: Mohd Haris Amran
washer 24 The Adventures of the Sky Pirate
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors):
Chapter 15, The Ruined Man
Scott M. Sandridge by Johne Cook
John M. Whalen
David Wilhelms 33 Memory Wipe, Chapter 15
Shari L. Armstrong
Jack Willard
Memory Rush, Part One
Serial Authors:
by Sean T. M. Stiennon
Sean T. M. Stiennon 47 The RGR Time Capsule
John M. Whalen
Ben Schumacher September 1 - September 14, 2007
Lee S. King
Paul Christian Glenn
Johne Cook

Cover Art: “Kantoi” by Mohd Haris Amran

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Rev: 20070915b
Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007 
Pg. 3

Overlords’ Lair

WIelcome to Ray Gun Revival, Issue 30. you can take. I just wonder which of these The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp
fictions will seem like commonplace fact in a
was away with my family this past week, few decades. A crystalline substance within a derelict ship
and spend the time at a vacation resort within enslaves a salvage captain, leaving a lowly
driving distance of my home. The Wisconsin Johne Cook navigator to decide his fate.
Dells are known for their natural beauty. I’d Overlord, RGR
been there a number of times with my family as Breezeway, Wisconsin “We have to get Tremaine.”
a kid. I remember a smallish tourist town, kind Finally, the words registered, and she pulled
of quaint. I remember a wooden fort with a The Golem, part one by Robert Mancebo
Wild West showdown, Paul Bunyan’s restaurant away from him. “Tremaine’s dead.”
with a big statue of Babe, the Blue Ox out front, In the midst of a brutal alien infestation, a
the Biblical Gardens, Tommy Bartlett’s water mysterious defender silently teaches a group “No, no. He’s not. I told you. I got a
of survivors what it is to be a hero. transmission from him just before you
ski show, Mirror Lake. boarded. He gave the all-clear.”
What a difference a few decades makes. I The armored figure made a pushing motion
and pointed a finger at them all. Something wasn’t right. Meeka’d seen the
barely recognized the place. The entire area has life drain out of Tremaine’s body. How could
been built up this time around. This is now the “You want us to hold it? Hold it against the he have given the all-clear?
waterpark capital of the world, and the largest whole army of them?” Kyle demanded. “How
waterparks are here, both indoor and out. I can we—” The figure pushed the group of “Wait! Rooster! This doesn’t make any
was staggered at the engineering involved, the them roughly through the door and closed sense! I saw Tremaine go down,” she called
amount of materials, the number of people it behind him. after the hustling pilot.
to operate these huge complexes, the sheer
volume of water to operate all those parks. Then the armored figure drew its sword and In the distance, across the boarding
turned to face the oncoming horde alone. umbilical that still connected them to the
As we worked our way around just one Protarian vessel, Meeka heard the faint
of the monster resorts, I thought of what “He can’t!” Lyra whispered in horror. “He’ll echo of Tremaine’s voice. “Mine! My ship!”
passes for science fiction in one era can be a be killed!” it cackled insanely.
commercially viable science fact in another. My
son and I rode one ride, The Hurricane, which “He’s not alive,” Kyle told her. Rooster sat in the cockpit of the Dauntless.
resembled a giant funnel laying at an angle. It “There’s no life signs on board that ship. But
was exhiliarataing, but I don’t know when I’ve “He’s not—what do you mean?” look at this. It’s the feed from the Protarians’
felt more physical fear. “I mean he’s a golem!” he told her. “You see communications network.”
how he never breathes hard or gets tired?
Our stories this issue have it all—wonder, There’s Rooster tapped a corner of the wall
fear, emotional resonance, and all the action no one inside that suit!” monitor with his thumb. When it flickered

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
 Pg. 4

to life, Meeka couldn’t suppress a into their very midst, paying no attention
frightened gasp. Tremaine’s cackling to the slowly dropping, approaching ship.
face occupied most of the screen.
“Who are you, and what is the meaning of
this?” snapped the captain of the Florence.
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15: “Captain Cooper Flynn at your service,” said
“The Ruined Man” by Johne Cook the captain, bowing low..
All it takes is the love of one good woman to
really ruin a man.
Alacrity dropped her mainsails as directed
and slid down next to the Florence. Eggplant
dropped her aft thirty feet above the water, Memory Wipe, Chapter 15: “Memory Rush”
and then settled the bow down until they by Sean T.M. Stiennon
were maybe a chain away. The captain Alien assassins, crooked cops, Walking Evils,
strode forward and bellowed over to the and his past catch up to Takeda Croster.
medical ship.
“Hullooo! This is Captain Cooper Flynn of Something dropped from the roof ahead.
HMS Alacrity coming alongside. Permission Lights gleamed off dark exoskeleton.
to come aboard!” Takeda grabbed his pistols, jerked them
out of their holsters, and squeezed off
Without waiting for a reply, he untied one two shots as the thing swept into motion.
of the ropes from the mainspar overhead, Blank yellow eyes gleamed, dusty stingers
pulled back until the rope was taut, and swung through the beams of the colonists’
then went soaring over the expanse lights, the thunder of gunfire bellowed in
separating the two ships. He swung the the cramped passageway. Krane dodged
rope until it reached the end of its arc high back. The thing had to bend over, curling
over the HMS Florence. And then he let go the black and blood-red plates coating its
of the rope. stomach. Four arms, each with a barbed
stinger like a rotten fruit, spread out from
Dropping fast, Captain Flynn waited until its torso. Long legs curled beneath. Dark
he was fifteen feet above the deck and then ichor splattered the walls and flecks of
slapped his chest, kicking in the skypack. He exoskeleton hit Takeda’s face. Esheera’s
dropped down on the deck of the Florence hotchoker spat a jet of yellow-orange flame.
nice and soft like he’d been doing that stunt A man screamed—raw, hoarse, the howl of
all his natural born life. a man having the life torn out of him.
The medics were focused on the flamboyant
captain who dropped from the heavens

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 5

The Golem, Part One
by Robert Mancebo Mild language

“B lock the door! Block the door!” Lyra
screamed as she tried to support the
portal with shaking hands. Don took three
ready to brace the door.
“We’ve got it,” Kyle shouted to Don.
dome lost integrity, the pressure inside would
be forcing outward—”

running steps and rammed his full two hundred “Move!” “We need something to fight them with,”
twenty pounds against the bulging wood. Don cut her off, kicking a cabinet in frustra-
The big man leaped aside and they heaved tion. “One troop of soldiers could clear out
“Someone help him!” Jen shrieked while against the couch. Without his body weight the entire nest!”
remaining ten feet away behind a kitchen to support it, the door latch broke free of the
table. jamb and the door crashed open a crack to “We don’t have any soldiers assigned to
bang against the sliding couch. Tannan Station,” Kyle pointed out. “I don’t
“Jen, help me with this couch.” Kyle began even know if there are any people left.”
dragging one end of the heavy couch without “Push!” Kyle shouted, and the three of
waiting for her. them shoved the couch against the opening “We’re left,” Lyra said with a determined
door with all their might. Spindly, intruding scowl, and her dark eyes flashed combatively.
Outside there was a hideous scratching, legs were jammed in the closing door and
scrabbling sound against the decorative wood smashed off to lie in an ugly, twitching pile “Four out of four thousand?” Jen wailed.
of the door as many heavy bodies forced their upon the floor. Outside, the maimed arachnids “This is what we get for living in a colony
weight against it, and sharp claws tried to split the afternoon with a medley of high- that won’t allow any sort of arms for its citizen.”
scratch their way through. pitched shrieking. Don cursed impotently to himself. He was a
“Help him! Help him!” Jen waved a flailing “Their screaming will call others!” Jen physical man, a loadmaster from the space
arm toward where Kyle was dragging the couch. gibbered. “More of them will come! They’ll docks.
The winsome girl seemed unable to assist find us. They’ll come through the walls. They’ll “We can try to go out the back and take
anyone in any useful action but had a plethora dig us out!” a ground transport to Space Dock Two,” Lyra
of ideas for everyone else to act upon.
“Oh, why don’t you shut up!” Don suggested. “From there we can find a transport
“Get over here and help!” Lyra shouted as snapped. ship or an escape pod or something.”
she left the door to Don and tried to drag the
“We’re safe for now.” Lyra swept a lank “Of course,” Kyle agreed. “This is a first class
other end of the massive couch by herself.
curtain of dark, curly hair out of her eyes. domicile—they’ll have a ground transport in
“I can’t!” Jen was shaking uncontrollably, “This is a first class dwelling; the windows the garage. As long as we don’t run into too
her face dead white and her makeup hideously are armorglass in case the city dome loses many spiders we should be able to drive right
smeared by tears. She was a Premier Citizen. pressure.” through them.” Kyle was a pale slim man, an
Giving orders came naturally to her; following administrator from the city control center.
orders did not. “Well that door sucks,” Kyle snapped.
“What if we do run into too many of them?”
Together, Lyra and Kyle managed to “It’s made to hold pressure in, not an Jen demanded in a cracking voice.
manhandle the heavy couch into position arachnid army out,” she explained. “If the city

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 6

“Well, you’re welcome to stay right here, if worth a damn. She ain’t.” shrug. “But you’ve heard the broadcasts. There
you’d rather,” Don snapped. “I don’t think any are arachnids in every city. Their attack caught
of us will miss you.” “Tell you what,” Kyle said leaning back, everyone by complete surprise. No one had
against the door. “I’ll sit here and be a door any idea they were around.”
“Or you could call the mayor’s office,” Kyle stop, if you two want to go check the garage
added. “I’m sure someone on your daddy’s for ground transportation.” “Do you think they came in with food
staff will send a groundcar right over to pick shipments, like they said on the Tri-D?” she
you up.” “We’re on it,” Lyra grabbed a handful of key asked while she rummaged through an assort-
rings off a decorative series of hooks on the ment of tools for something big enough to use
Jen glared through red eyes. She wasn’t wall and moved toward the garage. as a weapon.
used to having anyone question or correct her
except her father, the Mayor of City Three. Like “Yeah, we got it,” Don hesitated with a nod “I can’t think of how else they’d get here,”
everyone else, he hadn’t been heard from for of his shaggy head toward the kitchen. “While he replied with a shrug. “They had to come
more than a day. you’re sitting here, make sure Miss Prima from somewhere. They sure haven’t been
Donna doesn’t slack off.” living on this little piece of rock for the last ten
The door banged hard against the weight million years.”
of the couch, and Don put his shoulder back #
against it. She hefted a big wrench she’d chosen as a
They found two, expensive, ground- weapon and tried a series of keys. She found
“While you’re over there,” Don called to Jen, one that fit the vehicle’s lock. The ground
transport vehicles in the underground garage.
“make yourself useful and see what food there transport’s sleek access panels slid open.
Tannan Station itself was built upon a sixty-
is.” square-mile asteroid. It was a barren piece
of rock heavy with minerals and had been in. “I’ll drive,” she told him when he tried to get
“What?” she demanded. She tossed the keys up and caught them as
colonized for nearly a century. At some point, she said, “It’s the benefit of a Premier Citizen
“This ain’t your daddy’s country club, brat!” millions of years before, Tannan had been part education.” She eased into the driver’s seat
Don snarled at her. “Get some food while you’re of a larger, planet-sized body. There was a and ran the vehicle’s function check.
hiding in that kitchen, or I swear, I’ll leave your heavy deposit of ice across its dark side which
fancy ‘Premier Citizen’ butt here to feed the the colonists actively converted into hydrogen “Good choice,” Lyra nodded as the displays
spiders!” to use as fuel, and oxygen to breathe in their lit up. “Hydrogen tanks are full. Oxygen tanks
four sealed cities. are full. CO2 scrubber’s been newly serviced.
“You wouldn’t—”
“Whoa, they’ve got a Roma VII,” Don cooed dome ready
We’re to go, even if we have to leave the
“Do it!” he roared. and drive to another city.” She appropri-
as he ran a hand along the sleek side of the ated a yellow scarf where it dangled from the
ground transport. “The new 2305 model. Man, rear view display and
With a melodramatic sob the girl began tied it around her head
these folks were really loaded!”
rummaging through storage cupboards with to keep her wayward hair out of her face.
an enormous amount of slamming. “They might still be alive somewhere,” Lyra Jen burst through the door, her arms flailing
said as she looked around the garage. “They
“You know,” Lyra told the big man in a level in terror and her eyes bulging. “They’ve broken
might’ve made it to somewhere safe. We
tone. “I’m a Premier Citizen too.” through!” she shrieked. “They’ve broken
should leave a note.” through!”
“Yeah, I know,” he grumbled. “But you’re “Could be they made it,” Don said with a

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The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 7

“Where’s Kyle?” Don demanded. when the door first bounced. I had to go back Don dropped the dazed girl onto the
and grab the food—hey!” vehicle’s hood and looked to where Kyle was
“They got him!” she yelled as she jumped holding a shoulder against the door he’d so
into the back seat of the vehicle. “More of They all turned at the sharp snap of the recently escaped through.
them must’ve come! They were breaking down vehicle’s access panels. Inside Jen was fighting
the door.” with shaking hands to get the transport “Lyra—Keys!” Don shouted as he slid off the
started. hood and ran to help Kyle.
“Breaking down—” Don snapped. “Then
you didn’t see them take him?” “What’s she doing?” Don demanded. Lyra found a key to the other transport
among the pile she’d dropped earlier, opened
“No, I ran, you idiot! You think I’m going to “She’s leaving us!” Kyle snapped. it, and fired up the engine.
stay and get eaten?”
“She can’t!” Lyra said in shocked horror. “If “How is it?” Don shouted to be heard over
Don and Lyra looked at each other for just she opens the garage door—” The vehicle’s the engine.
a moment, then leaped from the vehicle. Lyra engine roared to life.
hefted her wrench and Don took a firm grip on “Not as good as the other one—oxygen’s
a hammer he’d picked up. “Stupid little—” Don roared an incoherent low—but good enough!” she shouted back.
curse as they saw her fumbling for the remote
They raised the weapons when they to open the door. Don snatched the wrench “Bench!” Kyle motioned at a workbench as
approached the door and listened for sounds out of Lyra’s hand and jumped onto the hood he held his back against the door.
of battle on the other side. It was silent. A nod of the vehicle. He gave the tool a two-handed
passed between them, and Don reached for swing and smashed-in the front windshield. It “Got it!” Don released the door to drag the
the handle. shattered at the first stroke, but he hit it again workbench over to help block it. The force from
and again viciously until he’d cleared most of the other side bounced the failing door against
The door swung open with a jerk, and a the clinging fragments from the opening. Kyle’s back. Jen screamed and scrabbled for
hurtling body knocked them out of the way. the safety of the undamaged transport.
Kyle swung a heavily loaded pillow case against “No—No—No—No—” Jen’s horrified wail
a forty pound arachnid as it leaped after him. was piercing. “You can’t! Now they can get “Ready?” Don asked as he jammed the
Lyra pushed off the wall where she’d been in! Now they can get in!” She dissolved into a bench against the door.
knocked by the swinging door and slammed it useless, quivering mass, almost comatose in “Ready!” Kyle agreed with a nod.
shut again. her terror.
“Go!” Both men released the door and
The injured spider rose to its feet dazed, Don reached a big hand down and dragged ran for the transport. Don slid over the hood
but Don heaved the hammer with all his her out by her slim neck as though she weighed and dove into the passenger’s side while Kyle,
strength. The iron head drove deep into the no more than an infant. slowing only long enough to grab the sack of
black abdomen and the spider rolled, twitching,
“If you ever do anything like that again,” he food, jumped into the back.
upon the ground.
shouted as he shook her. “I’ll feed you to them “We’re in!” Kyle called, and he hit the
“What happened?” Lyra demanded of Kyle. myself, you sniveling little—” control to close the access panels.
“They were starting to push down the door, “Don!” Lyra screamed at him. “They’re Lyra put the vehicle in gear and pressed the
so I braced it with a chair and ran,” he replied. here!” control to open the garage door.
“Little Miss Muffett there took off running

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The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 8

The door opened onto one of the well-lit of the sack. “Hey, Miss Debutante, didn’t you Don mused.
streets in the third city of Tannan station. It grab anything we could actually eat? We don’t
was completely clear. have a stove to cook this stuff on, you know.” “Oh, they’re out there all right,” Kyle told him.
“They’re out there. They hide in the shadows
As they pulled out of the garage, a black “I was just—” Jen answered dazedly. like spiders under your porch or in your attic.
wave rushed over the house and tried to cut They’re hunters. They’ll sit out there waiting for
them off. The bodies of a multitude of spiders “And no water? You grabbed food that needs their prey to pass on by, then—wham! You’re
were crushed as they backed out of the to be cooked and no water to cook it with? dead!”
driveway. More were smashed as Lyra changed What kind of an idiot—” He pulled a six-pack of
gears and drove onto the street. beer out of the sack and hesitated. Jen let out a pitiful sound when he said it,
and Don just laughed at her in contempt.
“Oh yeah!” Don yelled. “Spider pizza! Let’s “Okay, so I guess we don’t throw you out
do that again!” the window after all,” Kyle said as he yanked “Here’s our turn-off,” Lyra said as she turned
a beer off the six-pack that Don held up. But onto the side street. “It’s eerie how few trans-
“Let’s not,” Kyle told him. “If they flatten then he added, “Yet.” ports there are—look at that!” She slowed the
a tire or bung up any of this vehicle’s cabling, vehicle for a better view.
we’ll be out there walking with them.” Jen wasn’t listening. She simply sat looking
out the window with a dazed expression. There was a tall stack of vehicles lining each
“I’ve still got a signal from Port Two,” Lyra side of the road. Each transport was bound to
told them as she checked the indicator on They drank beers shaken nearly to the point others by strands of nearly invisible webbing,
the auto-locating map display. “That’s only a of exploding as they drove through the deserted and each one had its windows smashed open.
couple of miles away.” city. There was little enough damage to show There were no people to be seen anywhere.
that the inhabitants had been murdered
“Go for it!” Don said. wholesale by an arachnid army. Here and there “This doesn’t look good at all,” Kyle said as
a door was broken down. That was all. Bodies they looked at the piles of vehicles.
“Try an alternate route though,” Kyle had been dragged off for food and, unlike a
suggested. “If there’ve been any wrecks on the human army, there was no fire or weapons “It’s like they knew there were people inside
main route it might be blocked.” damage. Everything was just inhumanly quiet. them,” Don said. “Are they smart enough to
know that? Can they tell?”
“Good idea.” Don clapped him on the “What’s with Ms. Prima Donna?” Don asked
shoulder. “A thinkin’ man. I like that.” nodding at Jen who was just gazing out the “Probably not,” Kyle told him. “They
probably just follow the movement and then
“Okay, if we just pull off to Beacon street—it window. break through to the inside as though the
parallels Main,” Lyra told them. “We can still “Nervous breakdown,” Kyle said with an transport was some sort of a shell or exoskel-
join up with it at the White street crossing. If we unconcerned shrug. eton covering another big bug. When they
do that, we’ll be right next to the Spaceport.” break through—”
They turned back to observing the vacant
“Well, you’re drivin’.” Don reached back to streets. Normal lighting and power were in “They find—people!” Jen finished for him
rummage through the food bag. “I’ll see what’s evidence everywhere. It could’ve been any in a quavering voice.
for supper.” other day on Tannan Station, except for the
lack of people. “Yeah, crunchy on the outside, but chewy
“ D r i e d — d e hyd rate d — b oxe d — ”   D o n on the inside,” Don said with a sick laugh.
grumbled as he pulled rattling packages out “It doesn’t even look like they’re out there,”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 9

“So, what do we do?” Lyra asked. “I don’t “No, there’s nothing—” Kyle began but “Lyra don’t—” Jen shouted, but the other
want to ditch the transport and try it on foot. he stopped, staring out the rear window and woman ignored her.
That’s suicide!” pointed. “What the hell is that?”
Helmet and armored boots both added
“Well they can only go so fast. They’re what, It was not a spider. It had a glossy gray exo- height, so that the figure was fully seven feet tall.
thirty or forty pounds? You get this baby up to skeleton but it was biped, definitely human- In her wonder, she showed no backwardness
speed,” Don patted the dashboard. “and we shaped. about staring at the suit, the molded titanium
could roll right over a thousand of ‘em. As a plates, the micromesh mail that allowed the
matter of fact, I’d like to see that.” “Is it a person?” Lyra asked. joints to flex, the reflective faceplate that
showed no emotion. She was actually bold
“I think he’s right,” Kyle agreed. “If we move “It is! It’s human,” Kyle said. “He’s got some enough to run a hand along the strange coating
fast they can’t stop us.” kind of armor on or something.” and realize it was Teflon. The entire suit was
“It’s—it’s a knight.” There was a note of coated in a fire-resistant, non-stick finish. By
“All agreed then,” Lyra said with a nod.
wonder in Lyra’s voice when she said it. the roughness of it, it had been hastily applied
“I didn’t agree,” Jen whispered. over the plating. It gave the gray titanium an
“A—?” Don began, but Lyra cut him off. almost stone-like look.
“No one asked you,” Don snapped at her,
“because no one cares what you think. You “It’s a knight! Look at the sword!” “Who are you?” she asked.
might look great in a designer skirt and a
push-up bra, but to us you’re just a whining that“I looks don’t know about knights,” Kyle said. “But The figure did not answer but shifted the
like some sort of armored pressure broadsword it carried to its left hand and
liability. You can follow along with us, or you helmet. The suit looks completely sealed and reached out to shake hands with her. When
can get out and walk!” self contained. Those are powercell compart- they had shaken hands the silent figure waved
There was a series of loud bangs, and the ments at the waist and—” for her to follow.
transport suddenly swerved. Lyra almost lost “And that is a sword he’s carrying,” Don “Wait, what?” she argued. “Guys? He wants
control as she slowed to a stop. broke in. “Who the hell is this guy? What, did us to follow him.”
“What was that?” Don demanded. he wake up this morning and say, ‘I think I’ll
wear my iron underwear today?’” “Where? Where are we supposed to be
“The tires,” Lyra said with a scowl. “It felt going?” Kyle asked.
like the tires just blew!” “We could ask him, I guess,” Lyra suggested.
“Atmosphere reading from outside is normal. “Where are we going?” She relayed the
“What could they have done to the tires?” The city dome hasn’t been damaged yet.” question as though he couldn’t hear the people
Kyle demanded of no one in particular. in the transport as well as she could.
“I don’t know if I really want to step outside
“They’ve got us trapped!” Jen’s voice and stand within arm’s reach of a nutcase who He gestured to a side street and waved to
threatened to rise to a hysterical level, but Don carries a three foot razorblade around with the occupants of the vehicle to follow.
waved a big fist in her face to silence her. him,” Kyle told them. “Well, what do we do?” asked Don.
“I don’t see them! Do you see them?” Lyra “Well someone has to, he’s here!” Lyra “He’s managed to stay alive.” Kyle said. “He
turned her head trying to look out every popped the access panel and stepped out of seems to know what he’s doing. Let’s follow
window at once. “Does anyone see them?” the vehicle to meet him. him.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 10

They exited the transport and began to pavement impotently, but the webs held fast. more adamantly.
follow the armored stranger. As soon as they
had left, however, the vehicle’s engine roared The armored figure reached the vehicle The armored figure drove the pommel of
to life and the access panels slammed shut. only moments after the spiders did. A swipe of his sword through the driver’s window, and
his sword swept them clear of the top. Another then completed its destruction with a titanium
“Jen,” Kyle hissed. and another left a score of them twitching and plated fist. It reached inside and unlocked the
oozing upon the ground. access panel, then dragged the dazed girl out
“That stupid little—” Don’s curse was cut off of the vehicle. Sword sheathed, it swept her up
by a spinning of damaged tires, and the vehicle “What can he do?” Don demanded. “There into its arms to carry her over the ring of fire
lurched forward. are so many of them!” still burning around the wreck.
The armored figure raised a hand in mute Even as he spoke, the armored figure Once outside the flames, the figure dropped
warning but the vehicle wove off down the leveled his left fist at the oncoming swarm and her to her feet, and pulled her hand, making
street. She had some trouble controlling it there was a staccato blast that cut an oozing her run along behind.
because of the flat tires but she managed swath through the wave of arachnids.
to keep it on the road and got it up to about They could hear her wailing like a child as
twenty-five miles an hour. “It’s a gun of some kind,” Lyra called out. she was dragged along, “They killed everyone!
“Built into the armor.” My mother, my sister! They killed them there
Then it stopped. It stopped as though it in front of me and ate them! They ate their
had slammed into an invisible wall. There was “Who the hell is this guy?” Don demanded. skin off while they were still alive, screaming
no smashing sound but the vehicle seemed and kicking—” She was completely hysterical
“Who the hell cares?” Kyle said with a laugh.
to bounce back and hang there with its nose and only moved because the massive figure
“As long as he’s on our side.”
slightly elevated as though supported there by wouldn’t let her simply lay down in the street
steel cables. The gray figure suddenly bounded up onto and die. “They were screaming, and I couldn’t
the top of the vehicle in a single motion. A blast help! I couldn’t help— I couldn’t help—” she
“What the—?” Kyle began, but the armored of flame showed that his leap was assisted by sobbed over and over.
figure was already moving. He held up a hand rocket motors integrated into the suit.
to indicate that they should stay there, and he Their rescuer never slowed to motion for
ran for the vehicle. The long sword flipped into its left hand and the others; he just ran past, towing the hys-
the right waved in a sweeping circle around the terical girl. The rest of them followed without
“It was a trap!” Lyra said. “There are webs! transport. At the motion, a spurt of liquid flame hesitation.
There must be hundreds of them. They’re pale, vomited forth from the gauntlet and encircled
almost invisible.” He led them to a maintenance corridor of a
the transport in a protective ring of fire.
building complex. Once inside, he passed them
A wave of black foam seemed to be Spiders shriveled and burned in that fire and each a short spear from a stack just inside the
billowing out of the buildings upon either side the writhing, churning mob gave back before it. door. They were obviously ersatz weapons he’d
of the road. No one had to tell the spectators The remainder of the arachnid army scattered collected there. Each one had a simple sheet
what it was. Their web had moved; it was like a and scuttled back to their hiding places, while steel head and a crossbar so that any spiders
dinner alarm to every arachnid in the area. those who had been too close twitched and stabbed couldn’t wriggle up the shaft to get at
The engine of the groundcar roared and burned in a horrible fashion. the wielder.
the rear wheels skidded and burned on the “Who the hell is this guy?” Don demanded Then he waved for them to follow. Sword

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Golem, Part One, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 11

out, the figure led them through the dimly lit
corridor. There were no other sounds but the
The armored figure stepped near to her
and waved Don over. Don obeyed curiously.
Robert Mancebo
tapping of their shoes and the deep clanging of When he stepped up next to her, their savior
his armored feet. pulled up the tail of Don’s open flannel shirt I’m a former soldier, locksmith, and
and wiped the weeping girl’s face with it. technician. I’ve had dark and historical
“This shaft runs under the street to the
spaceport, doesn’t it?” Kyle asked. “Whoa! Whoa! What’s that all about?” Don fantasy published both on-line and in
protested. There wasn’t much he could do various magazines.
The armored figure turned back long about it short of ripping the shirt to get away.
enough to nod.
“Oh yeah, bitch-snot and eye make-up.
“Don’t you talk?” Lyra asked tentatively. Thanks. Thanks very much. Just what my shirt
The armored figure turned back fully at that needed,” Don complained sourly.
question and shook his head, ‘No.’ He gestured The armored figure took Jen by the shoulders
for them to follow and lumbered off down the and his blank faceplate seemed to look at her
corridor. until she stopped crying out of pure, mesmer-
izing curiosity. Then one, huge armored hand
The armored figure made a substantial took her hand and put it in Don’s.
amount of noise. Even though there was some
sort of vulcanized coating on the bottoms of “You want me to what? To look out for her?”
his boots, it was hard to muffle the pounding Don’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You’re not
of that much weight. serious? He’s not serious, is he?” he demanded
of the others. “I’d as soon toss her to the
When they had jogged two hundred yards spiders myself!”
the armored figure stopped to let them catch
their breath. He didn’t seem to be struggling The armored figure placed both massive
despite the several hundred pounds the armor hands upon Don’s broad shoulders and leaned
must’ve weighed. all his tremendous weight upon the man,
“I’m—I’m sorry,” Jen sobbed. “I felt like the pushing him down to his knees.
world was closing in on me—like I couldn’t “What—I—” he began to protest, but the
breathe. I had to go. To run! To get away! I grim gray figure that loomed above him drew
couldn’t help myself!” his sword and held the polished blade against
the side of his neck.
“You’re just lucky that this big, bug killin’
machine was there to drag you out of your End, Part One
own mess,” Don snarled. “None of us would’ve
gone to get you!”
“I told you I was sorry! I couldn’t—I didn’t—”
her sobbing became entirely incoherent. The
others looked on without pity.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 12

The Fear of Going Digital
by Jordan Lapp
Mild language

“S houlder the rifle, Meeka. It’s nothing
but quartz,” said Captain Tremaine. The
beam from his helmet swept past her, and
navigational equipment lay dark, its projectors
standing like dark craters that the crew would
once have crowded around. The pink quartz
game of poker, a game that had been inter-
rupted when Rooster’d picked up the Protarian
Niemitz-Class Destroyer on the Tandem. He
Meeka felt his hand on her ass as he went by. It substance was everywhere. It lay plastered professed a love for the game, and suggested it
lingered too long, cupping her buttock through over nearly every electrical component of the often, but Meeka avoided playing against him.
her silvery boarding suit, but she ignored it. bridge, glittering malevolently in the reflected It was only a matter of time before he leered
Instead, she calmly flicked off the safety on light of their lamps like a living thing. The rest over his chips and suggested that she bet her
the three-foot assault rifle that she cradled. of the ship was completely dark. They’d found shirt.
She’d endured Tremaine’s unsubtle advances it drifting lifelessly in the stellar winds of the
for nearly a month already—it was old news. Clamshell Nebula, completely intact but for the As they followed their spotlights through
The pinkish crystal that coated the Protarian pink quartz. Most disturbingly, they’d found a the darkened corridors towards engineering,
vessel’s main viewscreen was new. three-fingered glove half frozen on the pilot’s she couldn’t help but watch the pink quartz.
console, draped over one edge as if its owner It snaked along through the life support pipes
“It looks like someone puked pink Jelly-O had suddenly seen the pink crystal creeping above them, branching down corridors towards
all over this ship, then froze it. You ever seen over it and yanked his hand away. Sick Bay, Aft Cargo, and Auxiliary Navigation.
anything like this?” Tremaine asked the third The metal grating that made up the floor of
member of the little boarding party. “Damn. We can’t do anything here until the passageway rattled under their footsteps,
we get the power turned on,” swore Tremaine. and Meeka could see a second vein of crystal
“It ain’t Protarian, unless it’s some new Then, into the radio link, “Can you start the running underneath. It felt like they were
weapon that hasn’t made it to the HyperNet power remotely, Rooster?” inside a living ship, with the quartz as giant
yet. It ain’t in any of the databanks...” answered blood vessels.
Mingo. When he looked at Meeka, the “That’s a big nada,” answered the crackly
headlamp shone directly in her eyes and cast voice of the young pilot of the Dauntless, seated, “I wonder how it got here?” Meeka asked
his dark-skinned face into shadow. It was easier no doubt, in the plush captain’s chair reserved Mingo, running a finger along a nearby vein of
to see the cockpit-shaped nest of beat-up, only for Tremaine. “Scan says the power coils crystal. “I mean, the crew must have left before
plastic buttons  that surrounded him  than the are shut down. They’re in the back.” Meeka it covered everything, but the escape pod is
man himself. could tell from the young pilot’s tone that he still in place and we had to cut our way in here
was bored out of his skull. Probably had both with the laser torch.”
Meeka had never seen the inside of a feet up on Flight Control, playing Commando
Protarian vessel before, but it was drastically Kill on the Handheld. “I know what you mean. The ship is nearly
different from Tremaine’s tiny scavenger ship, intact. The Protarians don’t just leave a working
ironically named the Dauntless. The riveted, Tremaine rolled his eyes and sighed loudly Niemitz floating in the Void,” answered Mingo.
silver metal that plated the Protarian Destroy- for effect. “Those stupid bugbears can’t do He walked slightly ahead of Meeka, fingering
er’s bridge was scored and burnt, perhaps anything the easy way.” He was upset because his Mantron 46 handgun. He nervously watched
by an electrical fire. Sophisticated holographic he’d finally coaxed Meeka and Mingo into a the crystal snaking above them. “Rooster said

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 13

he picked up Twisted Pair Gamma waves coming and too little smile. “Meeka doesn’t mind. If The small circle of light cast by her helmet
from the cargo bay. That means this ship’s got she did, she’d say something. Wouldn’t yah, lamp illuminated two giant transparent
a Hyperdrive on board. The Protarian salvagers honey?” cylinders with blue plastic accordions folded
shoulda been here days ago. There’s something inside. The glass looked intact, but the control
going on here that we ain’t gettin’. I don’t see He turned his eyes on her and Meeka felt panel underneath was overgrown with crystal.
how this pink rock could have anything to do like he was channelling her father. She’d been
with their disappearance, but everything else beaten for talking back to her old man, and she Seeing there was no danger, Tremaine
looks normal. I’ll be damned if this isn’t the found she couldn’t rebuke the captain for some pushed his way past Meeka and crossed to the
strangest shit I ever seen.” Pavlovian  reason. She felt guilty that she was power coils, forcing the others to jog to keep
letting Mingo down, but stayed silent. up.
“Screw the Protarians,” said Tremaine from
up ahead. “Let’s find the power switch on this Tremaine grinned in victory and turned Meeka saw the control panel before
baby. I wanna grab the Hyperdrive and make back down the corridor. “Let’s light this puppy Tremaine did. A stalactite of crystal dropped
for Arcan Station before 2200 hours.” up!” he roared. from the ceiling and through the center of the
panel. Blue plastic buttons were cracked and
“Maybe Mingo has a point, Captain,” said # scattered where the quartz had pierced the
Meeka. She hated contradicting him, but if electronics. “I don’t think we can repair that
Mingo was worried, maybe Tremaine should “You should be nearing Engineering,” said kind of damage,” she said.
slow down a little bit. “Either the Protar- Rooster through the crackling link. “What the
ians lost the ship—which I don’t believe for Tremaine scowled at her, then at the control
hell is that pink stuff?” He’d obviously gotten
a second—or there’s something about this panel. Meeka could almost see his thoughts
bored of Commando Kill and checked out
Destroyer they don’t want to mess with.” flash across his face. He was pissed off that the
Meeka’s vid-feed for the first time. Protarian destroyer was being so difficult. He’d
“Snuggle up if you’re scared, sweetie,” he “I don’t know, but it gets thicker the further expected a few hours of easy salvage then a
answered. Tremaine knew just what to say to back we get,” answered Meeka. The streaks month-long journey back to Arcan, but the ship
make Meeka feel like a worthless little girl, and of pink crystal that ran along the walls of the was fighting him. “Half the panel’s still intact.
she withered under his sarcastic glare. corridor like spider webs seemed to converge Maybe it still works,” he grumbled. “Only one
on Engineering from every part of the ship, way to find out,” he added, jamming a thumb
As usual, Mingo came to her defense. down on the big red power button.
snaking over air ducts and twisting like grasping
“Leave her alone, Captain. She had to run all fingers around corners.
the way into the Void to escape one sexist They waited for several seconds before
pig. She don’t need you pushing yourself on Tremaine stood aside so Mingo could break they heard a dull thump from the depths of
her.” Meeka winced. Everyone on board knew apart a vein of crystal that reached clear across the ship. The lights began to come on and
about her father, but she hated to be reminded the door to Engineering. Meeka had the big gun the accordions in the two cylinders started
of him. Still, Mingo thought he was doing the so she was the first one in, but she hesitated. to pump in an alternating rhythm. Slowly, the
right thing by coming to her defence,  so she The door opened into a darkness so thick the giant viewscreen that dominated the far wall
forced a smile. beam from her helmet was swallowed up. flickered to life.
Tremaine wasn’t intimidated. He sauntered “Stop right there,” called Rooster over the In the unsteady light, Meeka could see
back down the corridor until he stood nose to link. “Move your head back to two o’clock. I Mingo crouched before a smooth pile of rose-
nose with Mingo. He drew his lips back over his think those are the power coils.” coloured quartz that had cascaded against the
teeth in a smirk that showed too much canine wall like a wave. Suddenly, he leapt backwards

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 14

and cursed loudly. Barely visible under the Three howling Protarians emerged from the Just then the sound of shots echoed down the
translucent crystal were three frozen Protar- darkness and began pounding on the inside of corridor. Tremaine had left them behind.
ians, their bodies twisted in agony. the viewscreen.
“That slimy son of a—” Mingo cursed.
A dull sound began to emanate from the “Meeka! Use the gun! Use the gun!” He took two more shots at the crystal entity,
walls, hollow and low at first. Soon the dis- Mingo’s frantic yelling snapped Meeka out then pulled Meeka into the hall. The quartz
tinctly digital tones of computer-simulated of her trance and she lowered the Windon. twitched across the floor after them, but in the
voices emerged, rising in pitch, then rising Mingo’s  46-calibre pistol lit up Engineering in hall it lashed about wildly. The great vein that
again into a chorus of terrible screams. Meeka’s bursts, but the shells only chipped small chunks ran along the ceiling had pulled itself free and
eyes darted around the room looking for the out of the crystal entity. Meeka squeezed her extended into the passageway like liquorice.
source of the awful sound, and she backed into left hand on her rifle grip and the radar gauge Tremaine was just down the hall, hammering
Tremaine accidentally. For once, he didn’t grab burst to life, measuring the distance to  the the trigger of his  pistol. Slugs were tearing
her ass. entity. Mingo began to disappear under a into the quartz, holding it at bay, but as they
dozen pink branches, still firing wildly, but if watched the metal floor grating beneath him
“It’s coming from the vidscreen!” yelled Meeka took the shot before the gun had pro- twisted and a second crystal arm lanced out of
Mingo as he drew his pistol. grammed the destruct distance into the heavy the hole. It reared up behind him like a viper
shells, they’d tear right through the quartz and and shot forward, spearing him neatly through
The screen was filled with a fog of grey plough through the hull. the gut. The life went out of him before Meeka
pixels from which flashes of white emerged had time to raise her weapon.
and disappeared like shapes in the clouds. The “C’mon, c’mon!” she pleaded with it, her
gurgling screams rose to a howl, and a three- voice cracking wildly. Finally, the weapon “This way,” said Mingo, pulling Meeka down
fingered paw scraped down the inside of the beeped twice, and Meeka braced herself. the hall after him—away from their ship.
screen, leaving digital streaks in its wake. “Mingo!” she called in warning, then squeezed
the trigger. “We’re docked near the bridge!”
“What the hell! What the hell—” Tremaine
was beginning to panic now. His eyes were The weapon kicked hard into her shoulder, “I know. There’s too much crystal between
wide, and he fumbled at his belt for his pistol. and a cross-shaped burst of light flared out us and the forward airlock. We’re going out the
from the muzzle. The shells howled across the back.”
“This stuff’s mo-ving!” Mingo drew his room, tearing into the entity and sending pink
weapon and staggered backwards, eyes #
shrapnel flying into the walls. What few blasts
filled with horror. The wave of crystal that missed their target exploded harmlessly within
entombed the Protarians flexed and spasmed a few feet of it thanks to the radar distance They would have been sunk without the
like a psychotic patient receiving electroshock gauge, but the rest took the entity apart like Windon. The crystal that had coated the walls
therapy. He stepped back, but it shifted, breaking glass. and run through every corridor came alive
extending diamond-faceted branches after and reached diamond-faceted tentacles after
him. “C’mon, Mingo! We’re getting out of here!” them, but every time it did the rifle howled and
she cried as the big man pulled himself out of chunks of quartz went flying. Still, by the time
Meeka stood frozen while the room disin- the entity’s clutches. they’d run the two hundred yards to the rear
tegrated into chaos around her. The shifting
images playing across the viewscreen held her airlock, Meeka was looking at a nearly empty
“Where’s Tremaine?” he asked.
captive. The shapes swirled slowly together, and ammo gauge.
it soon became apparent who was screaming. “I don’t know. He was right behind me.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 15

The airlock sealed behind them with a hiss her away from the gurney. “Meeka, let the Protarian vessel, Meeka heard the faint echo of
and Meeka hit the cycle button. They could auto-medic handle him. This is way beyond us. Tremaine’s voice. “Mine! My ship!” it cackled
hear the entity thrashing against the airlock We have to rescue Tremaine.” insanely.
door, but for now, they were safe. It took only a
minute for the powerful fans to do their work, Meeka blinked back tears, then hugged #
but before Mingo could hit the door release, Rooster. His lean frame wasn’t as satisfying to
Meeka spotted a hiss of air escaping from his hug as Mingo’s muscular body, but she needed Rooster sat in the cockpit of the Dauntless,
suit like steam from a kettle. some human contact. She hugged him until she sheathed in a cocoon of instruments, lines
felt his hand tentatively stroking her back. of reflected red light from a nearby monitor,
“Mingo. You’re holed,” she said.
“Easy now, Meeks. He’ll be okay. But we etching purple streaks through his sky-blue
He looked at her grimly though the smudged have to get Tremaine.” irises. “There’s no life signs on board that ship.
Plexiglas of his helmet. “I know,” he said as he But look at this. It’s the feed from the Protar-
punched the door release. Finally, the words registered, and she pulled ians’ communications network.”
away from him. “Tremaine’s dead.”
Rooster tapped a corner of the wall monitor
# “��������������������������������������������
No, no. He’s not. I told you. I got a trans- with his thumb. When it flickered to life, Meeka
mission from him just before you boarded. He couldn’t suppress a frightened gasp. Tremaine’s
Meeka was sick with worry by the time gave the all-clear.” Rooster brushed his fiery cackling face occupied most of the screen.
Rooster opened the external airlock of the red hair back across his skull and walked into Unaware that he was being watched, he shook
Dauntless. “Give me a hand with Mingo! He the crowded corridor that led to the airlock. his head, then madly scraped his fingers over
might be dead,” she sobbed as she dragged his “I’ll grab a ‘suit and we’ll go get him.” his eyes and ears. Behind him, the Protarians
body out of the lock. pawed at the sides of the viewscreen like bugs
Meeka stumbled after the young pilot, in a display case.
“What happened in there?” asked Rooster shaking with exhaustion. Something wasn’t
in alarm. “The link broke as soon as the power right. She’d seen the life drain out of Tremaine’s “It sucked him into the computer...”
came on. I just re-established contact with body. How could he have given the all-clear? whispered Meeka.
Tremaine a few seconds ago.”
“Wait! Rooster! This doesn’t make any The computer Tremaine turned quickly to
He motioned for Meeka to grab Mingo’s sense! I saw Tremaine go down,” she called look at the Protarians, his long black hair flying
legs, and together they hauled the big man after the hustling pilot. out wildly. “Shut up shut up shut up shut up!”
to sick bay. In space, Meeka had managed to he yelled at them. “I can’t think with all these
manoeuvre both of them towards the Dauntless Rooster was halfway to the starboard screaming polar bears!” Then he turned back
using controlled bursts from the Windon, but airlock when the ship heaved violently to one to the viewscreen, and a smile spread across
in a gravity well Mingo weighed twice what she side, throwing him into a clothes locker. Stacks his face like a virus.
did, and it took all of their combined strength of paper rained down around his head and a
to lift him onto a gurney. When they stripped heavy book clunked to the floor at his feet. “Meeka—” he called. Meeka shied away
off his suit, Meeka gasped. Mingo’s nose and “What in the hell was that?” he cursed when from the monitor, forgetting for an instant that
lips were burnt black and a thin dusting of frost he regained his feet. the feed was one way. “Meeka—” he called
had frozen his eyes shut. again, like he was coaxing a kitten out of a tree.
In the distance, across the boarding “Where are you, baby? You should get a load
“Meeka—” Rooster coaxed, gently pulling umbilical that still connected them to the of my new body!” He flexed his arm on the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 16

screen, and the Dauntless shook. Rooster shrugged. “Hey, taking one or would order her to lose her uniform, either in
two courses doesn’t make me an expert. We his quarters or on her way to the unemploy-
“He can’t get on the ship, can he?” Meeka know the entity’s all tangled up with the ship’s ment line. She’d trained herself to avoid him,
asked Rooster, grabbing the back of  his chair electronics. Maybe it’s  unintentional—like but now that he’d gone insane she was even
for support. a crossed wire. Maybe it doesn’t know the more terrified. How could Rooster ask her to
Tremaine-thing is in the computer. Hell, it’s go back in there?
Rooster frowned and tapped a string of possible the crystal entity isn’t even sentient.”
words into the keyboard in front of him. “No,” “Look. I’d go myself. But we both know
Rooster watched Tremaine on the monitor with
he said as he was typing, “I closed the main he wants you,” said Rooster. He dismissed
fascination. “But it thinks it’s Tremaine. Maybe
umbilical after the ship shook the first time. Tremaine’s image from the wall monitor with
we can work with that.”
But a 200 kilogram mass of silicon just grabbed a wave and cued up footage from Meeka’s
the starboard wing.” Meeka knew what was coming next. headcam, playing her journey through the
Tremaine’s leering invitations echoed dully Protarian destroyer at triple speed. “Maybe we
“Silicon?” through the hull of the Dauntless like a conver- can see something in the vids that’ll give us an
“Yah. The whole entity is made of silicon. sation heard through a tin can phone. Rooster advantage.”
No eyes, no heart, no lungs—at least, not the turned to her and opened his mouth to speak,
but she cut him off. After only a moment he spotted something.
way we understand them. I’ve never heard of “The entity’s attached itself to the power coils,”
anything like this, and I took a couple of Xeno- “—I can’t go back in there. I can’t face he said, fingering the screen. “All we have to
biology courses at BSU. It looks like it hooked him.” do is jack the power up high enough and we’ll
itself into the silicon computer chips on the fry it like Frizzles-on-a-Stick.”
Protarian vessel, but either the crew cut the “Meeka. You’ve got to go back in and
power before they died or the entity accident- convince him to let go of the ship. Either that “Tremaine said the controls were broken,”
ally shorted out the ship’s electronics. Without or destroy the Entity.” said Meeka slowly. She hated to interrupt him
power, it couldn’t move. Then we show up, when he was on a roll, but if she was going in
flip the coils again, and the whole thing starts “I can’t. I just can’t.” there she wanted him to have all the details.
over.”
Rooster pushed his face into his hands. “I “I’d have to override the security protocols
“But how could it pull  him into the don’t understand you,” he groaned. “You just anyways. They’re computer controlled. I’ll have
computer?” shot your way out of a Protarian destroyer and to hack them.”
you’re afraid to even talk to Tremaine?”
“Yeah. It was like it just grabbed him by the “You can hack a Protarian computer?
soul and made him digital, eh?” Rooster arched Meeka shifted uncomfortably, shrinking. They’re aliens! Don’t you have to speak
an eyebrow. “But I don’t think that’s it. Silicon’s She wanted to get away from the situation. Protarian or something?” exclaimed Meeka in
an especially good conductor—that’s why it’s She didn’t want to let Rooster down, but she’d surprise.
used in computer chips. Our thoughts are no never been able to stand up to Tremaine. The
more than electrical impulses, right? Maybe captain had a way of talking to her that made He shot her such a look of sympathy that
it just copied Tremaine’s thoughts into the her feel like she should be handing out drinks at she just had to laugh. “No. You don’t have to
computer. I’m guessing that thing is no more the hover track. It didn’t matter how accurate a speak Protarian to hack their computers,” he
Tremaine than I’m a Naval cadet.” flight path she charted, Tremaine would simply said like he was explaining arithmetic to a five-
look at the chart, look at her chest, and shrug. year-old. “Some kid leaked most of the code
“How? Why would it do that?” She lived in fear of the day that Tremaine to their OS on the HyperNet last year. Real

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 17

primitive stuff. My mom could hack it. The real plastic butt against the small of her back was you?”
problem is delivery. Tremaine and the Protar- little comfort. She’d much rather have had the
ians have control of the computer and they Windon, but she knew that would just provoke “Please let go of the ship,” she squeaked.
don’t look very...cooperative.” Tremaine. Her real weapon was the optical disk “������������������������������������������
Come closer,” he ordered with all the con-
she clutched in one hand.
“Can’t we just reason with the captain? Get fidence of a cat with a bowl of cream. But he
him to turn on the power coils?” The disk, Rooster had explained, contained terrified her, and she stood frozen, staring at
code that would trick the computer into the floor to avoid his eyes.
“And fry himself? Not likely. Trick him, believing that the power coils were func-
maybe.” Finally, Rooster’s voice crackled over the
tioning below the minimum wattage required link, and he spoke calmly and succinctly like
to retain a charge. The automatic response in
Rooster scrolled through the vidfeeds again, the director of a theatre production feeding
such a case, he had assured her, was for the
suggesting and discarding different plans, but lines of dialogue to his actors. “I’m here to play
wattage to be increased until it reached that
Meeka stayed silent. It disturbed her that she that game of poker we had planned before we
level. Since Rooster’s program made it impos-
felt so little guilt for what they were doing. In found the destroyer.”
sible for the computer to ever believe that the
effect, they were plotting the murder of their minimum wattage had been achieved, it would She gulped audibly, but gathered strength
captain—the ultimate mutiny, but more than end up frying itself within minutes. from the knowledge that Rooster was there with
that, he was someone they’d spent long months
with in space. No matter how despicably he’d her, at least in spirit, through the link. When
The problem, of course, was delivery.
treated her, he was still human. Still a life. But she repeated Rooster’s words, Tremaine’s eyes
Tremaine wouldn’t be much inclined to just
the place inside of her that should have wept opened wide in surprise and he rubbed his jaw
let her insert the disk into the computer. That
was filled instead with relief. No longer would thoughtfully.
was why she’d brought the small deck of cards
she have to endure the subtle weakening of from the ship. She needed to distract him long “Presumably, you’re here to win freedom
her self-worth that Tremaine so gloried in. She enough to get the disk into the computer. for the Dauntless. Am I right?”
would do it, murder the digital representation
that was all that was left of her former captain, Engineering was crowded with instru- She nodded.
and be glad to be rid of him. ments, from the blue power cells on the right
to giant tubes that pulsed red light on the “What would I do then, eh? I’m a little stuck
“Do you have a plan?” she asked. left. It was Tremaine’s face that dominated here. My furry friends,” he said, indicating the
though, occupying the whole wall across from mute polar bears with a wave, “have asked me
# her. It pressed down on her from above like real nice to stay, and it would be so rude of me
a murderer holding a drowning man’s head to refuse their invitation. You’re asking me to
It wasn’t until Meeka entered the Engin- underwater. His eyes followed her as she put up a pretty big stake. What’re you offering
eering Bay of the Protarian Destroyer that the entered, and wherever he looked pink quartz in return?”
reality of what she was about to do set in. The heaved itself aside for her. Silence lay about
trip down the cluttered maintenance corridors the room—Tremaine had even cowed the Pro- She waited for Rooster’s words in the link,
had been surreal. Tendrils of pink quartz tarians. They stood mute and unmoving in the but he was silent. His breathing was ragged,
beckoned her onwards like bowing courtiers, viewscreen behind him. and he started to say something then stopped.
moving aside, then closing in again as she Suddenly Meeka knew what he’d been trying
passed. She wasn’t completely unarmed— “Meeka,” Tremaine purred, prolonging the to say, but couldn’t.
Rooster had insisted she pack a Mantron just “M” sound like he was contemplating a meal.
“Welcome back. I bet you missed me, didn’t “If you win, I’ll stay here with you,” she said,
in case—but the feel of the weapon’s smooth

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 18

without waiting for Rooster. He hadn’t wanted destroyed, but there was a small optical cube “You wouldn’t be trying something, would
to sacrifice Meeka, but he’d known Tremaine slot under Tremaine’s monitor. She breathed a yah, sweetie?”
would accept no other offer. Strangely, once sigh of relief. The drives were fairly standard, but
the offer was made, Meeka felt a huge weight the Niemitz was a military ship. There’d always Rooster, listening through the link,
lift away from her, as if she had been a flower been the danger that the Protarian equipment whispered forcefully into her ear. “Ignore
crushed flat beneath a boot, and now was once wouldn’t be compatible with the cube, but it him.”
again exposed to the sun. looked like they’d bought their equipment off Meeka hesitated. A branch of pink quartz
the shelf. She took a step towards it, but the
“That’s not much of an offer. I’m getting twitched not three feet away like a cat’s tail.
quartz branches surrounding her shifted to
used to my new body. With no more than a flick How fast could it reach for her?
follow her movement and covered the slot. Her
of my wrist I can use the entity to make you hand clenched on the optical cube. She would “No, sir,” she said, casting her eyes towards
stay with me,” Tremaine answered slyly. Lumps have to stall until the slot cleared once more. the deck. It was a mistake. The crystal entity
of quartz slid along the floor towards her, lashed out at her, not towards her body but
rattling the floor grating like a child dragging She knelt carefully on the metal deck and towards her hand, and the Mantron sailed into
a stick along a picket fence. “I’m not sure you dealt Tremaine’s cards to him, face down. It the air with the crack of splitting thunder, and
realize the depth of my transformation. I may was awkward to deal with the Mantron in the with it went the optical disk. The deck she’d
be trapped behind the screen, but this ship is same hand as the deck, but she worried that held next to the pistol exploded into a cloud
my body and within its confines I am God.” if she didn’t hold it close at hand, Tremaine of falling cards, raining down around her like
would simply seize her and squeeze the life out
Smooth and confident now, Meeka drew confetti at a wedding.
of her.
the Mantron and held it before her, pointed “Game over,” crowed Tremaine victoriously.
down at the floor, but ready. She dealt three cards face up: a jack, a ten, “I’m bringing you into my world now. Out there,
and an ace. Tremaine didn’t suspect a thing.
“Stand down. If I see a single one of your I had to worry about the law. If I’d dragged you
His eyes were hooded, and he watched Meeka
pink fingers slithering towards me I’ll put a screaming into my cabin, I’d have had to kill
as a circus lion watches its trainer, but there
bullet in my brain. I don’t think the entity will Mingo and Rooster to keep it quiet—and then
was no suspicion in his eyes. Merely a desire
be able to suck me into the computer without I’d have had to explain it to the cops. But that
to conquer.
that,” she said. Her body was the ultimate bar- ain’t true no more. In here, I am the Law. And
gaining chip, and Tremaine knew it. She had The entity seemed to physically respond you have to obey the Law.”
the power now. He was nothing but a shell, a even to Tremaine’s unconscious desires, pulsing A shard of crystal seized Meeka around the
poltergeist in the destroyer’s computer. twice, and slithering along the control panel. For torso. She felt sharp barbs pierce her boarding
a moment, the optical slot was clear of crystal.
The entity’s crystalline branches pulled suit and cut into her skin. The pain brought with
Hope flared. Meeka shifted her position to get
back, clearing a space for her. The image of it a sense of animalistic drive, a terrible will to
closer. The Protarians, silently watching from
Tremaine on the monitor looked annoyed, but live, and she tore at the crystal arm, clawing at
behind Tremaine, began whining in a peculiar
he waved at the floor before him. “Deal,” he it like a feral beast.
wail that spoke of hopelessness and fear, as if
said meaning it both ways. they sensed their oncoming death but had no She could hear Rooster screaming over
will to fight it. The wailing unnerved Tremaine, the link but, in her struggle, she paid him
Meeka stepped forward slowly, scanning and he frowned at her in suspicion. no more attention than a buzzing wasp.
the room for the square slot that would accept
the optical disk. The electrical panel was “Hold on! I’m firing on the Niemitz’s arti-

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 19

ficial gravity generator,” he shouted just systems and blow that son of a Gandramar- bite into her neck, but she concentrated on her
seconds before a  deep vibration  shook the ian hooker out of the Void before he fires his search. Where was the disk?
Protarian  Destroyer.  The Dauntless’ weapons thrusters again! I won’t have him blowing my
weren’t powerful enough to penetrate the ship apart!” The Protarians leapt into action, Several more quartz tendrils slithered up
hull of the destroyer, but they might be strong splitting apart and running off-screen. Above her body and into the tear in her helmet seal.
enough to damage its gravity generator. her, Meeka could hear the ominous hum of a Hard branches of living rock extended into it,
Weapons discharges echoed through the hall, spinning turret. The link gurgled and burst with slipping around her neck. Her throat tightened,
and a series of small explosions shook the static like someone fiddling with a radio dial, and she coughed involuntarily. The sound was
ship. then cut out entirely. music for Tremaine, and a smile opened up his
face like a chasm in an earthquake.
Engineering tilted onto its side.  Rooster Meeka was alone.
had definitely hit the gravity generator, and “I don’t know what I’m going to do to you
the damage was skewing gravity all across the She needed to destroy Tremaine before he first. A body like yours? I’m gonna show you
ship.  Meeka suddenly found herself hanging could fire on Rooster. She ignored everything how to use it on a real man. You don’t mind, do
instead of standing. A rain of electrical compon- else but the mass of cards before her. The yah, honey? If you did, you’d say something,
ents and loose panels fell past her and bounced only way to help Rooster now was the find the wouldn’t cha?”
onto the monitor that was now the floor. Out of cube.
She felt as if she wore a necklace of sharp
habit, the computer-Tremaine shielded his face “Meeka!” chastised Tremaine, turning his pearls that was far too tight. She could feel
though he was in no danger. His distraction was attention back to her. “Quit struggling.” She blood running from her neck, down between
enough to loosen the entity’s grip, and Meeka felt like she was crawling on his face, and the the curve of her breasts. Her vision became
slipped free, falling with the rest of the junk. It feeling repulsed her, but she wouldn’t be dis- dim and murky, and it was as if twilight had
wasn’t far, but her ankle crunched when she tracted. Instead, she pawed more cards out of descended on Engineering, but somehow, her
landed, and she rolled with the impact. the way. Still no cube. fingers found the edge of the cube. With her
She summoned her strength and pulled last reserves of strength, she plunged it into
Tremaine snarled. “I remember when I the optical slot.
herself onto her side, using her arms to lift picked up your contract. I’d interviewed nearly
herself as far away from the monitor and every chick on the station, and then you come “I...mind...” she choked, and then the world
Tremaine as she could. Panels and components along,” he said, shifting so that his eyes peered went black.
lay were everywhere, and micro-cracks etched directly up at her from the floor monitor. “You
the surface of the monitor. Scattered about didn’t look me in the eyes once, the entire #
her, she could see the convoluted patterns of interview. You never fight back, never say a
her playing cards. The optical slot was now free word. That’s why I hired you. You were mine It would take her nearly two days
of quartz, but the optical cube was nowhere in then, and you’re mine now.” to regain consciousness. During all that
sight.
All around her, pink crystal serpents time, she bathed in the cool waters of the
Tremaine was apoplectic. He beat against slithered to life, sliding across the monitor med-tank and dreamed she was skinny
the inside of the monitor with his fist, glaring towards her. A tendril grabbed her legs, sliding dipping with Mingo in the lake at Briar’s
out into the Niemitz with red tinged eyes. His sensuously up her inner thigh. Another coiled Farm.
snarl was bear-like, as if some Protarian ursine around her neck, and she felt fingers of hard She had suffered third degree electrical
quality had bled into him. “Rooster! That quartz pry at her helmet. Filaments pressed burns around her neck and arms. Hypother-
jumped up  Void Tug pilot! Arm the weapon into the seal, and Meeka felt a knife of cold air

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Fear of Going Digital, by Jordan Lapp Pg. 20

mia had lowered her core temperature to
twenty-eight degrees before Rooster finally
found her. The redheaded frat boy was her
first sight when she woke up, and she loved
the sight of him, but the man she really
wanted to see was in the next tank. She
could just make him out through the murky,
green liquid. She pulled the breathing tube
over her shoulder and pressed her hand
against the glass.
In the other tank, he pressed back.

Jordan Lapp
Jordan Lapp is currently attending classes
at Simon Fraser University. He is the
recipient of the Canadian Millennium
Excellence Award, and the Dean’s
Award at BCIT. He has been writing for
approximately one year and has had
stories published in DKA magazine and
the Vancouver Courier.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Featured Artist: Mohd Haris Amran Pg. 21

Featured Artist
Mohd Haris Amran
Name:
Mohd Haris Amran
Age:
24
Hobbies:
Drawing and video games
Favorite Artist:
I love the clean work of Range Murata,
the ideas of Masamune Shiro, the
style of Yoji Shinkawa, and lots and
lots more that I can’t think of right
now, and also talented artists from
deviantART.
When did you start creating art?
Well, I started at a very early age. As a
kid, I would draw using crayons, color
pencils, do paintings and such. The
walls of my house would sometimes
be my canvas. I started doing art
digitally in my university days about six
or seven years ago—all self taught and
still learning.
What media do you work in?
I sketch using art pens and cool, grey
markers, mostly I prefer it in digital—
much more effective to me.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Featured Artist: Mohd Haris Amran Pg. 22

Where your work has been featured?
Mostly in deviantArt.
Where should someone go if they wanted to view /
buy some of your works?
http://greyhole.deviantart.com/
How did you become an artist?
It came naturally; whenever there’s paper around I
would just start sketching. I got into digital art when
I noticed a friend using Photoshop to paint his work.
That’s when I started experimenting and then things
moved on.
What were your early influences?
Early television cartoon shows such as Dragon Ball,
Transformers, Thunder Cats, and much more. My
toys, especially my Lego set, inspired me to create
models of my own and develop new ideas. Also from
watching movies.

What are your current influences?
Anime to Hollywood movies, my music, artwork from artists all over the world, and video games.
What inspired the art for the cover?
It started as a motivation for me to create detailed backgrounds, which is always something I prefer not to do. The character
was inspired from an anime movie/series, Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell; it was the idea of the movie itself
that triggered me to highlight “girls with big guns” with my own interpretation.
How would you describe your work?
Guns, babes, and machines 
Have you had any notable failures, and how has failure affected your work?
None that I could remember.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Featured Artist: Mohd Haris Amran Pg. 23

What have been your greatest successes? How has success impacted you / your work?
Having completed my university days, which has improved my way of thinking, design approach and concept, venturing more
into digital art, etc.
What are your favorite tools / equipment for producing your art?
Mainly, I use Adobe Photoshop and my PC tablet.
What tool / equipment do you wish you had?
Maya, I wish I had full knowledge of using it.
What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
To be able to share it with the rest of the world.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 24
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate
Chapter 15, The Ruined Man
by Johne Cook
The story so far: Captain Cooper Flynn walked briskly back “It was just controlling the rate of descent.
to the wheelhouse. Lieutenant Gillings fell It couldn’t be that hard to shed altitude in an
The crew of the antigravity ship Alacrity in alongside him. “Captain, let me get this airship,” muttered Eggplant, but he was already
engineers a thrilling escape from the dock at straight—you intend to set down next to that looking at his gauges and making adjustments.
Bitten Bay. Finally getting underway, they spot Haddirron medical ship in the service of the
the Haddirron naval medical ship, Florence, Navy, and board her?” Captain Flynn called Mr. Humble to him and
and decide to take on supplies and crew. dug in his vest, drawing forth a shiny object
“Yes, Mr. Gillings. I intend to do just that.” attached to a leather loop. “Mr. Humble, I
Mr. Pitt recognizes the ship as his estranged Flynn sized Gillings up out of the corner of believe you know what to do with this?”
wife’s assignment, and is conflicted. his eyes. “Blurt it out, son. What’s on your
mind?” “Yes, Captain!”
The captain presented him with the bosun’s
M
Gillings looked sheepish. “Captain, are you
r. Pitt stood at the railing looking down whistle. “Mr. Humble, if you would be so kind
sure you want to do that?”
at HMS Florence. Flynn meant to board as to call ‘all hands on deck.’“
that ship and take on supplies and crew. And The captain barked a laugh. “There’s a world
Deena. He thought there was nothing worse in what you’re not saying! I suspect I will hear Mr. Humble squared his shoulders, took a
than being separated from his wife. He ached that question a hundred times before we’re deep breath, and blew the distinctive whistle
for her, for the love they’d shared, for the through.” Flynn stuck his head in the wheel- known by mariners in this age and the former
warmth she brought him inside and out. house and clued Eggplant in on the plan. “We one. The crew, such as it was, quickly assembled
have a Haddirron med ship sailing ahead of us, on deck behind the wheelhouse.
Lieutenant Mui Gillings walked up to him, three miles out, three points to starboard. I
stopped, and stood at Pitt’s side. “Everything Mr. Pitt reported, “All present.”
want you to do your best to put us alongside
sunny with you?” at an altitude of fifteen feet. We’ll drop sails Bola wandered over to Flynn, paring her
Tearing his eyes away from the ship they when we’re a couple of lengths behind. You fingernails with her fancy dagger. She gestured
were pursuing, Mr. Pitt looked at him and think you can do that?” toward Mr. Humble with her blade. “We’re
raised an eyebrow. already here. Was that really necessary?”
“I’ll try, Ven,” said Eggplant.
Gillings gestured down. “Your fingers are “It’s more of a formality at this point,
“If you have any questions, ring for me and
leaving marks in the railing.” Gillings flashed a but with our first boarding action coming
I’ll come running,” said the captain.
smile, popped him on the shoulder, and went up, we may as well start right.” The captain
away shaking his hand in pain. “He wouldn’t let the captain down,” said drew everyone around him. “Very well, listen
Eggplant of himself, his face strained but deter- up. We’re going to board our first ship. Even
Mr. Pitt released his grip on the railing with though this ship is one of ours, keep your head
mined.
a conscious effort. It didn’t help. on a swivel, and you can’t go wrong.”
“You’ll do fine,” said Flynn, and then left
# the wheelhouse. Flynn said, “I want everyone in skypacks.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 25

Eggplant will pilot us down to wave-top level No killing unless they kill you first.” get rich stealing bandages.”
and draw us in close. We’ll slip the mainsails at
my mark, and then I want grapple hooks ready. The crew laughed. #
I’ll give the signal and we’ll throw the hooks. I’d “Talk sweet if you can, talk straight if you
like four lines over, but even two will do, fore The captain made no comment about
please, don’t talk at all if you can help it, but
and aft. We go over, I’ll introduce ourselves to Eggplant’s piloting as they approached the
we’re not leaving without our supplies and
their captain, and we’ll present our creden- HMS Florence, but the others had no shortage
our staff, and we’re not hurting anybody who
tials.” of glares, stares, and rolled eyes. It wasn’t
listens.”
quite like a bucking horse, but it was almost
“‘Credentials,’ hah,” said Bola, sheathing “And if they don’t listen?” asked Humble. comically inept. First, the bow rose, then they
the dagger at her hip. canted over to starboard, then the aft rose,
“Then bring them to me,” said Captain and so forth. The crew rolled with it all, mostly
“This is a medical ship supporting some- Flynn. “We do this my way and nobody gets because they could see they were gaining on
body’s fleet, no doubt, but the rules of engage- hurt, we get needed provisions and a good the medical ship, and were dropping altitude
ment are changing, and we are the new front sawbones for when the action gets thick, and at an appropriate rate.
lines. We will need supplies and staff more they get a story to tell their grandkids, how
than they will.” they were robbed, sorry, how they ‘reprovi- Also, as bad as it was, there was no better
“What are you saying, Captain?” asked sioned,’ the Alacrity on her maiden voyage as pilot onboard.
Humble. she sailed into history.”
It was two bells after noon before they
Flynn said, “I’m saying we’re going to “You really think that will work, Captain?” closed in enough to see the sailors scurrying
appropriate half their medical supplies, and asked Gillings. “I mean, we were caught by around on-deck. They raised their medic flag at
we’re going to take on additional staff.” surprise with a green, skeleton crew in the three bells as Alacrity approached, but other
middle of the night. We’re moving up on this than that, there was no cannon or small-arms
“Begging your pardon, Captain, but won’t medical ship in broad daylight, her being fire.
they be vexed?” asked Ensign Gillings. a blooded medical ship of the monarchy. I
imagine she’s probably had her share of action However, as Alacrity dropped down and
Flynn grinned. “Oh, yes. I expect they’ll of her own, and can take care of herself, medical pulled up alongside HMS Florence, there was
be hopping mad and imperious as a drenched ship or no.” a right good collection of steel in display there
abbot—don’t ask—but we have a Queen’s Writ on deck. Mr. Humble was sweating visibly,
and we have the right of arms.” He winked. “It’s up to us to state our case quickly, Mr. Pitt’s brow was furrowed, and Bola was
“They’ll do as we say.” clearly, and firmly,” said the captain, and that grinning like a vandor.
was pretty well that.
“And if they don’t,” asked Bola, excitement Alacrity dropped her mainsails as directed
sparkling in her eyes. “Mr. Humble, go to the starboard rail and and slid down next to the Florence. Eggplant
call out distances to the ship as we approach. dropped her aft thirty feet above the water,
“Then Mr. Pitt and I will just have to ‘explain’ Mr. Pitt, take Chain aft and prepare for boarding. and then settled the bow down until they
things to them,” he said. “Let me make this very Bola and Mr. Gillings, with me.” were maybe a chain away, although still taller,
clear; they won’t like us boarding their vessel—I altitude-wise. After that approach, Gillings
know I wouldn’t—but we are still serving the “We’d better find some better ships,” she observed that he was ready to heave over
same Crown and I don’t want any bloodshed. muttered under her breath. “I’m not going to onto a ship that was merely tossing about

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 26

all normal-like in a nice, safe sea when the the flamboyant captain who dropped from your mind at ease with regard to the requests
captain strode forward and bellowed over to the heavens into their very midst, paying no that I shall now make of you.” Having delivered
the medical ship. attention to the slowly dropping, approaching that speech, Flynn bowed with a flourish, and
ship. waited in apparent high good humor.
“Hullooo! This is Captain Cooper Flynn of
HMS Alacrity coming alongside. Permission to Speaking to Mr. Humble, Gillings said, “I An effect that was, as it happened, totally
come aboard!” wonder if this stunt was something the captain wasted on the captain of the Florence. “Writ?
planned, or if he improvised it on the spot to Requests? No, Captain, you are mistaken. We
Without waiting for a reply, he untied one give Eggplant time to jockey the ship in.” are sailing to Dorcah to prepare for an upcoming
of the ropes from the mainspar overhead, action. I have orders and they do not include
pulled back until the rope was taut, and then Humble said, “At this point, I wouldn’t put transferring my cargo to the hold of some kind
went soaring over the expanse separating the anything past the captain.” of sky pirate.” He spun and snapped an order:
two ships. He swung the rope until it reached “Summon the captain of the guard at once.”
the end of its arc high over the HMS Florence. For his part, the captain had his hands full
And then he let go of the rope. with angry medic mariners. Flynn’s face darkened, and his good humor
fled. “Belay that!” snapped Flynn. He produced
“Who are you, and what is the meaning of
# his Queen’s Writ, that most valued document
this?” snapped the captain of the Florence. spoken of by so many and possessed by none
Dropping fast, Captain Flynn waited until “Captain Cooper Flynn at your service,” said but himself, and displayed it to the fuming
he was fifteen feet above the deck and then the captain, bowing low. “And you are...?” captain. “Your orders are superseded. I have
slapped his chest, kicking in the skypack. He delivered myself into your midst without my
dropped down on the deck of the Florence nice “—losing my patience! What is this ship weapons as a sign of good faith. As a sign
and soft like he’d been doing that stunt all his and why are you here?” of your good faith, you will comply with my
natural born life. instructions out of allegiance to the Queen.”
“This is HMS Alacrity and I have already
“Wow, would you look at that,” said introduced myself. We are at the vanguard of a “Or what?”
Humble. clandestine new plan to buy time for Menorra
to arm herself or acquire suitable defenders. Flynn smiled, but it was no friendly thing.
“Show off,” said Bola with admiration. We are also charged with harrying the enemy, “Or else, Captain.”
capturing or sinking her ships, and capturing
Chain nodded and checked the gunpowder “Nobody tells me what to do on my ship!
her loot from the islands of the Telonic Ocean,
of the rifle he was loading, just in case. Guards!”
and returning that loot to Her Majesty’s coffers
to help to outfit an armada of ships such as this Flynn snapped his fingers and four grappling
Gillings spoke to Mr. Pitt. “What do we do to meet and defeat the ever-increasing threat hooks dropped down from Alacrity. Three of
now?” He was answered with the universal from the mystery fleet of dirigibles from the them dropped neatly onto the deck and then
symbol for “stop, wait, hold,” so he did the Steamdrivers in the north. I have additional were drawn firmly back against the rail. The
next thing and went to ask Eggplant to drop duties that I cannot, in good conscience, share fourth bounced off and dropped into the water.
them down just a little closer to the ship so that with you, my good Captain, but which will place Flynn could hear Bola cursing from where he
they would have a better chance to land their our crew in harm’s way, and will doubtless incur stood. It was difficult not to smile.
grappling hooks. He then returned to the railing, injuries, casualties, and pain and misery. I have
paying close attention to what was happening a Queen’s Writ here which will no doubt put Four guards rushed forward to place hands
down on deck. The medics were focused on

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 27

on Captain Flynn, but he slapped the button Cooper Flynn spread his arms theatrically cargo net and let’s get this medical ship, uh,
on his chest and shot up into the afternoon to encompass, well, everything. “We’ve just operating.”
sun. The guards converged where he had just landed a boarding party to press my claim on
been and stood gaping up after him. At that your resources, you’ve just been outmaneu- “‘Operating,’” said Deena. “I hope you
moment, the remainder of Flynn’s crew—save vered on-deck, and my first officer has just didn’t hurt yourself trying to work that in.”
Eggplant—dropped down on deck behind the been addressed in a rather familiar way by “I hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you
guards. They whirled and drew their swords. your doctor.” let go of Mr. Pitt, here,” he said, “because
Everyone on deck felt it—the moment of
“Horatio? Your name is Horatio?” whispered you’re going to be our guest for awhile, and
conflict had arrived.
Bola at Pitt’s elbow. it would be a shame to subject a beautiful
But then something odd happened that creature such as yourself to undue stress as a
stalled the battle and arrested the attention The four medic guards clearly wanted result of marital strife.”
of combatants from both sides—the sudden nothing to do with the barely contained
emotion radiating away from the big man, and “Me?! Who left whom?” she asked, tartly.
female exclamation from the stairs leading
retreated back to their captain. “How dare you...” She grabbed a pistol out of
below-deck. Mr. Humble’s belt and pointed it at Flynn.
“Oh, my dear Cyl,” she said, her matter- Flynn took the opportunity to breeze past
them, collecting their weapons in transit. “You Flynn didn’t move. “Doctor,” he protested,
of-fact voice cutting clearly through the thick
gentlemen will get these back when we leave. smiling broadly. “I will not raise my hand to my
tension on deck. “Horatio, is that you?”
We’re firm, not unreasonable. Hello, Deena,” friend’s wife.” Then, he adroitly lowered his
Captain Flynn dropped lightly back down on he added. “You’re looking radiant.” volume and stepped to the side, sweeping his
deck, and grinned. “Greetings, Doctor. I believe hand to the side in a flashy reveal. “However,
you’ve met my first officer.” “I asked a question,” she said, looking at Bola, here, has no such scruples.”
Mr. Pitt.
Mr. Pitt sheathed his sword and stepped Deena looked from Flynn to Bola, who was
forward. If he had a hat, it would have been in “So you did,” replied Flynn. “Mr. Humble,” practically purring.
his hands. “Hello, Deena,” he said softly, and he barked. “Take two of these guards, follow
Dr. Prentiss to her quarters, and help her pack. Flynn stepped forward to Dr. Prentiss
all heads turned in his direction.
Feel free to explain on the way.” directly then, meeting her gaze eye-to-eye. He
dropped his voice to a soft, neutral, matter-
# “Pack?” she said. of-fact tone. “Deena, I suggest you go ahead
and give her the pistol, and then retire to
It was an interesting transformation. “Explain?” asked Mr. Humble. your quarters to gather your effects. The fact
Her face paled and then flushed. A world of remains—you’re coming with us, and we leave
emotional turmoil played out over her face “Yes. You and half the supplies of the rather sooner than later.”
before she composed herself. Her voice was Florence are coming with us.”
calm, but her hands were kneading some Eyes storming but in possession of herself,
She didn’t quite stomp her foot. “I am not!
helpless cloth, her knuckles white. “What are Doctor Deena Prentiss did just that. Bola
We just... You just... How...”
you doing here?” seemed greatly amused by it all, even accepting
“The Queen begs to differ,” said Flynn, the pistol with a flourish and a bow—surprising
“Somebody please tell me what’s going on Captain Flynn, if nobody else.
showing her the Writ. “Off you go, now, we
here!” demanded the captain of the Florence. don’t have all day. Mr. Pitt, please organize a

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For his part, Mr. Pitt didn’t say one word, they weren’t able to engage in an immediate the intricacies of the airship mechanisms, and
but radiated the impression of a man who was battle against overpowering odds, the least his knowledge is growing very quickly.”
just waiting for an excuse to smash somebody, they could do was give him some manual labor
anybody. His barely restrained, silent menace to do to take his tortured mind off things, so he Glances were exchanged behind Flynn’s
was so potent that it should come as no surprise threw himself into the work. And when Mr. Pitt back, but he was already moving on.
that the rest of the transfer went smoothly and threw himself into anything, everyone around “This is First Seaman Karver Humble. He
quietly thereafter. knew it. will be in charge of your health, well-being,
As they made to leave, Flynn approached “New recruits,” Flynn said, pointing to one and duties. If you have any questions about
the other captain—whose name he never did of the new recruits, “help offload this cargo anything, start with Mr. Humble and work your
win free—and confided, “I’ll need more crew and then line up with the others over there by way up the chain of command to yours-truly.
to help achieve success for Her Majesty. This the railing.” “Next to him is Mui Gillings, formerly an
will also be a chance to send someone along
When the cargo was piled off to the side, Ensign in Her Majesty’s Navy, but now First
to ‘protect’ Dr. Prentiss. How many will you
Flynn had the cargo net stowed and then Lieutenant serving under Mr. Pitt. Congratula-
choose to spare for this mission?”
directed Eggplant to resume altitude. He asked tions, Mr. Gillings,” said the captain.
Mr. Humble leaned over and whispered to Mr. Humble to take the new sailors and make Chance gently elbowed Gillings by way of
Mr. Pitt. “Protect? Protect from who?” sail, which they did in short order. Then, when congratulations, which earned him his own
fully underway again, he called for a meeting
“Whom. It’s a ruse to get more able-bodied moment in the light. “Back there is Chance
on deck.
sailors.” McDewitt. We just call him ‘Chain’ and he can
The newcomers couldn’t help but look design or fix anything. In my experience, this
The Florence captain was furious, but was overboard as they rose to 250 feet. One is not hyperbole.” The captain looked over at
no fool. “Go ahead and take everyone I don’t crewman turned white but stood his ground Bola.
require to physically sail this ship. I will turn without complaint. Flynn noted that with quiet
around and make sail back to the nearest port. She saw his glance and said, “I followed
approval.
Rest assured, I shall report this while I take on that. His reputation is obvious.”
fresh provisions and crew, and it will not go well With the ship safely back at altitude and The captain broke out in a hearty laugh.
with you should our paths ever cross again.” underway, he took a closer look at the doctor “Yes, exactly. And speaking of well-deserved
and her nine sailors from where they stood by
“Thank you, Captain,” said Flynn, with reputations, I’ll introduce Bolivar Lunshelm.
the railing, ten new souls, all told. “Welcome
complete sincerity. “That’s all I ask.” Then he We just find it easier to call her Bola, like the
to Alacrity,” said Flynn without preamble.
nimbly grabbed hold of the slowly rising cargo weapon, which suggests her expertise. Bola is
“First off, introductions are in order. I am
net and rode it back up and over to Alacrity. an expert in more weapons than most of us
Captain Cooper Flynn. This is Mr. Pitt, my first knew existed. I expect that she will be instru-
officer. The ship’s pilot is Egon Palance. Egon is
# mental in the actions that we shall encounter
a mouthful to say, so he prefers ‘Eggplant.’” in the near future. Bola knows how to take
It was the first chuckle of the day. Listening care of herself and heaven help the one who
Mr. Pitt was already back up on the ship
in from the wheelhouse nearby, Eggplant mistakes her for ‘just another woman.’ If you
when Captain Flynn rose the bulging cargo net
leaned out and grinned. ‘hit’ on Bola, she might ‘hit’ on you.
over the edge and jumped down to Alacrity’s
deck and guided the cargo net to the deck. If “Which brings us to the good doctor, here,”
The captain continued. “Eggplant is learning

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he said, earning a smile from the new sailors ment modifies these needs to create desires. the tears of pride and joy in her eyes, the shy
and a raucous cheer from Alacrity’s existing Desires, combined with incentives, lead to per- smile of complete happiness. And then Flynn
crew. “We know the doctor from a former life formance, into which are figured factors such burst into the hall and his love was challenged
at the Haddirron Naval Academy, and we trust as rewards, punishment, justice, and group by his loyalty to a man he’d already betrayed
her abilities and judgment. While on Alacrity, dynamics that influence the behavior of indi- once. When vows compete, love dies. There is
she holds a rank equal to Mr. Pitt and answers viduals. no way around it. Or so he told himself as the
only to me. captain droned on.
“The officers and crew in a ship must be
“So let us meet the rest of you. Please share motivated to be successful. The effectiveness Something about the new sailors wasn’t
your names with us.” of a ship in combat may be directly affected quite right. Mr. Pitt let his reverie go not
by the attitudes of the people who serve on without some relief. Anything was preferable
They met the nine sailors: Smyth, Murfree, board, and their reaction to various situations. to emotional wounds. Even danger. But was
Nomherst, Donkins, Bells, Chellsey, Yhen, Motivation occurs by attending to the needs of there danger? Ever since they’d spotted the
Lamur, and Krewes. Their introductions were the individual. It is an observable fact that the Florence, Pitt’s ordered thoughts were all over
brief and a little chilly, except for Mr. Krewes— proper motivation of a ship’s company is vital the place, so very much not like him.
Lamur did the introduction for him, explaining and will result in favorable morale. In under-
that Krewes was mute. standing morale, there are ten tenants that “Sixth, comradeship,” said Flynn, his arms
when properly applied, will contribute to high behind his back as he waxed eloquent. “Com-
The captain nodded and continued. “I will radeship is a sense of loyalty, a sense of family,
morale, and this is how they work onboard in
be the first to tell you that my title is less a and a sense of humor within the group. Com-
practical terms.”
reflection of my excellence as a master mariner radeship gives the ship a reserve of strength
and more a reflection of my overall leadership Mr. Pitt’s thoughts wandered as the captain during difficult times. This leads to the next
abilities. This will not be the last time that the spoke. The events of the past week moved so principle...”
particular dynamic of an airship will differ from quickly that he hadn’t had the luxury of time
a more classic sailing ship. to process how quickly his life changed from Comradeship. Pitt never needed to be
loyal husband and naval officer to estranged popular, to get along with anybody. Instead,
“We have passed down to us certain he just wanted to know that his loyalty would
ex-lover and de facto outlaw.
documents from the other world, Terra. Our be appreciated and returned in kind. Pitt
knowledge is spotty—very deep in some His life had been so perfect as a newlywed happened to catch Deena looking at him and
aspects, woefully thin in others. To avoid rein- and an officer candidate about to graduate redirected his gaze back to the pacing captain
venting the cart before the horse, we have from the Haddirron Naval Academy when Flynn with an effort. So much for that. Now he had
used every effort to copy those principles that showed up the night of the final graduation. betrayed both his best friend and his only love.
make sense at present, and have discarded Pitt could just curse the gods for the supremely What use was his loyalty now?
those that do not specifically apply to us. As a awful timing of it all.
result, we use some sea-going terminology and Pitt was sure there was...something. What
not others. We have some common animals Flynn strode back and forth in front of was it? Something not right about the supplies?
and not others, and so on. However, there the makeshift crew as he continued to speak. The new recruits? His estranged wife? Deena.
are some principles that have stood the test, “Third is discipline. It is vital that discipline is It was her first assignment away from the
not only of time, but of place, and have come administered equally...” academy after graduation. Pitt wondered if they
down to us now. For instance, everyone has were still married, or if she’d had the marriage
needs onboard a ship. The shipboard environ- Pitt still remembered how Deena looked at sundered before leaving. If so, it pleased him,
him as he prepared to receive his commission,

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however, illogically, that somebody was still encroaching evil.” Captain Flynn rested his right hand reaching forward.
loyal to her principles, even at the expense of hand on his sword.
his one shot at true love. If only she’d held fast Moving faster than any being they’d ever
to Pitt, as he had held fast to... “I wish there were more of us, but that is seen, Krewes slammed into the line of sailors,
out of my hands. We are one of a handful of knocking them sprawling down the line like
Pitt’s mind went blank. He almost had it. elite units that are moving outside the normal tenpins. There was a snikt sound and Krewes
military structure to rapidly strike at the leapt toward the captain with a low, vicious
“Eighth is the awareness of spiritual needs. very heart of the growing darkness before it swipe of hands that now sprouted spikes from
While this is not something that I claim to consumes us all.” his fingernails.
understand myself, I have seen, first-hand,
the benefit that awareness of this area has for Pitt saw Deena staring at him, but stared Flynn bounced into the air and watched
those who do believe...what they believe.” right through her, unseeing. He almost had it. the swipe rip through the space where his legs
He went back over the introductions of the had been, and he brought the sword down in a
Pitt gripped his sword, his mind racing. His new recruits in his mind’s eye. lightning slash at Krewes’ head. Without hesi-
mind clambered back up from his self pity. He tation, Krewes reached up and grabbed the
started again, going over everything Flynn said “I really don’t mean to get melodramatic blade in his fist. The captain wrested the blade
when they first got everyone up on deck. with this, but desperate times call for desperate along his palm and Krewes’ hand exploded in a
measures, how desperate we have not just dis- sea of red.
“If we do our respective jobs with regard to covered, nor how close. And make no mistake,
these ten principles, these tenants of morale the darkness is closer than we know.” The Two things happened—sparks flew, as from
will combine to form a strong feeling of fel- captain stopped and regarded the last of the metallic contact, and Krewes didn’t release his
lowship and brotherhood onboard ship. Which new sailors at the end of the line. “Isn’t that hold. He tore the blade out of Flynn’s grasp.
leads me to one last point. We have a pretty right, Mr. Krewes?”
democratic group here. Anybody can call for a Flynn saw something out of the corner of
vote on anything at any time. However, once And then all hell broke loose. his eye and stepped nimbly out of the way.
the captain has been determined, the captain
is the final authority. As the current captain, I Krewes darted away from the line of Pitt slammed into the smaller Krewes at a
highly recommend that we find ways to work sailors and threw three spinning things at the full run with his formidable bulk and a really
things out amongst each other. If an issue captain. good head start. Pitt grunted as the air went
comes before me, my word will be final. I out of lungs and he bounced off the crewman
Flynn pulled his sword from its scabbard, like running into a brick wall. Shocked, he
simply don’t have time to second-guess issues. the sound of scraping steel shrill in the air. grabbed the hilt of Flynn’s sword on his way
When necessary, I will act swiftly and firmly,
and will not look back.” backward.
Mr. Pitt sprang forward with a roar, running
right at Krewes, but everything happened too Pitt fell as if poleaxed but at least succeeded
The captain started walking slowly back fast. He was too far away. in pulling Flynn’s sword free of Krewes’ myste-
and forth between the two groups of sailors,
meeting the eyes of each of them as he walked. rious grip.
His sword sparking, Flynn parried the
“Which brings us to the reason why we’re spinning spheres away with a shower of sparks, Pitt hit the deck with a whoof and sent
here. There are unprecedented forces at work cling-clang-cling. He assumed an en guard Flynn’s sword skittering to his right toward
in our world right now that threaten to destroy position, a savage smile wide across his face. Flynn.
not just Haddirron, or Menorra, but us all, and
we are here as a first line to stand against this Pitt covered one step, two, bellowing, his

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 31

Krewes darted back to the rail and grabbed was audible to those by the railing despite the it’s not dead.”
seaman Chellsey, holding the frightened sailor altitude.
in front of himself as he would a shield, his eyes Bola whirled around. “What was that...
darting around with the unsettling sensation Pitt looked up from the deck, his breathing thing...that can take a direct round to the back
of something reptilian. a raspy wheeze. of the head and not die?”

Before anybody could move, Krewes Flynn rushed to the railing. Eyes dancing, “Riven,” said the captain from the deck,
grasped the jaw of his unfortunate victim and Bola grinned with feral satisfaction, but the muffled. “It was Riven.”
pulled firmly straight up over his head, creating captain just stood there, blinking, his knuckles
white where he gripped the railing. Flynn From the expressions of the people
crunching sounds and leaving a cry of anguish
sheathed his sword loudly in frustration. assembled, you would have thought he spoke
that was cut off as suddenly as it burst out. It
“Damn,” he said, “...it got away.” the name of Lucifer himself.
was all the more macabre for its brief, intense
duration. All things considered, maybe he had.
#
Bedlam erupted as people finally started to The captain slowly rose from his knee and
react to the sudden action. Chellsey’s guttural, The sailors recovered and gave the corpse sheathed his bladed with a slow, measured
wordless cries added a layer of horror to the of their friend a wide berth. Captain Flynn stroke, finally returning his blade to its home,
deck. kneeled on one knee before body of the as if loath to end the action without resolu-
ruined man, one hand grasping the dead man’s tion. Then he deliberately drew off his fancy
Seeing an opening, Flynn scooped up his shoulder, mindless of the blood spattering on captain’s coat and gently laid it over the head
sparking sword and stamped forward. His his fine, white shirt. of the now-departed sailor. Standing there in
sword darted in to deliver a quick, merciful his bloused cotton shirt, the wind whipping
thrust to Chellsey’s heart, ending his misery Several of the new recruits helped Mr. Pitt his sleeves, he looked like a man trying to
and silencing his screams. to his feet. He grimaced and held the ribs on withstand the combined pounding of the seas
his right side, but otherwise made no sound. and struggling beneath the task. And yet he
Krewes took that opportunity to bounce up Doctor Prentiss started toward Mr. Chellsey was a man standing—battered—but standing
in the air, rotate his frame nimbly in mid-air, but ended, somehow, in the arms of Mr. Pitt, against the tide.
and land on the rail of the ship facing outward burying her face in the left side of his chest.
to starboard. Mr. Pitt’s arms were open as if he didn’t know It would be an image burnt into the collec-
“Bola!” cried the captain. what to do before awkwardly drawing her into tive minds of the crew, and they knew from
his sheltering embrace, holding her through then on, that this was a fight unlike any they
She coolly drew and fired the musket pistol her shuddering. had ever been in, had ever even heard of. They
she’d gotten from Gillings the day before. The also feared that it would not be the last.
musket ball caught Krewes at the base of his Gillings looked around at the shocked crew
neck behind his head. and then walked over to the captain, laying his “We’re going to need more help,” stated
hand gently on Flynn’s shoulder. the captain grimly, looking toward the heavens.
There was a thick explosion of his skull, and Humble and Gillings looked at each other and
he pitched forward out away from the railing. Bola was beside herself. “I nailed him. He bent down to move the body. The captain put a
His macabre form dropped away like a rock and should be dead!” hand out to stop them and shook his head. He
disappeared down and away out of view as it stooped and put his hands under the shoulders
Flynn said, “You shot it, certainly, but it’s
hurtled toward the water. The heavy splash of the ruined man, and lifted. They each picked
not human, not strictly speaking. That’s why

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The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 15, The Ruined Man by Johne Cook Pg. 32

up one of his legs. The captain led the way
down into the ship, leaving Mr. Pitt and Deena
other ship, but on Alacrity, they accepted his
presence among them without a word.
Johne Cook
on deck.
The sun dipped below the horizon and Johne is a technical writer, help author,
After a timeless moment, the doctor firmly Mr. Pitt felt rather than saw the great shadow creative writer, and editor.
but gently pushed herself away from Mr. Pitt’s overtake the ship. The darkness he felt that
chest. Fingers trembling, she ran an unsteady night had nothing to do with the slumbering
hand through her wild and windblown hair. sun—it was the passing twilight of something He likes prog rock, space opera, film noir,
Without meeting his eyes, she said, “Thank good, the coming of a greater darkness. and racquetball.
you, Horatio.” She raised her chin and took a
step away from him, but almost brought herself At dawn, he’d thought there was nothing
up short as if thinking of something. worse that being separated from his wife. He
was wrong. At dusk, he thought there was
She stood there, her back to him, chin nothing worse than being separated from his
clenched, her kerchief crushed in her left hand. love.
Then, without turning, she said, in a very small
voice, “I think you had better show me the The sun finished slipping below the
way.” horizon. Night fell on Mr. Pitt without mercy.
He shivered, but it had nothing to do with
Pitt stepped forward past her but then the sudden chill. He wrapped his cloak tighter
stopped. On reflection, her offered her his around himself.
arm.
It didn’t help.
She stepped forward and gingerly took his
arm. The space between them was a chasm as
they carefully walked downstairs below deck.
It was not unlike a funeral procession.

#

Mr. Pitt stood at the railing looking out over
the water at the setting sun. He’d installed Dr. End of Chapter 15
Prentiss and her belongings in his own cabin for
her privacy. She didn’t protest, and he didn’t The Adventures of the Sky Pirate continue next
insist. He gathered a few things and his clothes month.
into his rucksack, brought her traveling cases
into the room, and left.
He carried his rucksack to a hammock in the
open hold up front with the rest of the crew. It
would have been a breech of etiquette on any

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Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 33
Memory Wipe
Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One
by Sean T. M. Stiennon
The Story so Far:
Three years ago, Takeda Croster woke up in
O n the first sublevel, Takeda learned why
this extraction would be so difficult.
smelled something besides warm rock and
unwashed flesh: something sharp and thick,
like...the smoke from scorched wood. The
the city of Greendome on the colony world of The spiral stairs stopped abruptly in a heap scent wafted from just ahead of them.
Belar with no memories, no connections, and of shattered rock and twisted steel. As the
no possessions aside from the clothes he was colonists played their lights across the rubble, “Wait, Krane,” he said.
wearing and an Imperial citizenship card with Takeda saw a gaping bite taken out of the sur-
his name on it. He worked at the Silver Sun rounding rock. The collapse had been engi- “Yeah?”
Casino, ignored by most, until one night when neered. The implications sent shivers down his “There’s an Evil just ahead.” It disturbed
he began to manifest superhuman powers in spine. The Evils had blocked up the stairwell, Takeda that he couldn’t hear the thing
a fight against two corrupt cops: enhanced to drive the humans into the tunnels...where breathing...but he had once read that they
senses, great strength, lightning-fast reactions. they could be hunted. were among the most silent creatures in known
He seriously injured both cops. Strange dreams space. “Maybe more than one.”
and a feeling of great exhaustion followed the Krane led them on into the mine. The
encounter. craggy rock had been stripped out years ago, Krane sniffed, nostrils flaring. Takeda heard
leaving a spider web of vacant passages. Deep Zartsi and Esheera readying their weapons.
Takeda now travels with the Lithrallian hunter shadows lingered everywhere the colonists’ Esheera rustled her wing-flaps nervously. Other
Zartsi, who saved his life after he fled into the lights didn’t reach. The heat pulled thick beads colonists raised their guns. Takeda heard them
jungles of Belar, and the Vitai Rover Esheera of sweat from his skin. Takeda had never been breathing fast, heard their hearts hammering.
Nii, who granted them passage for nothing so grateful for Esheera and Zartsi, walking close The smell grew stronger. Men chambered
more than a little money and their life stories. at his sides. They were near the front, looking rounds, preparing to fire. The tang of sweat
into the darkness ahead. Their lights showed
On the desert planet Nihil, Walking Evils have filled the air.
nothing but bare rock, debris, and an occa-
wiped out the colony of Hope’s End and trapped sional abandoned or broken tool. The place Something dropped from the roof ahead.
the colonists in one of their own mines. While was like a tomb. Lights gleamed off dark exoskeleton. Takeda
they await rescue ships, Takeda, Zartsi, and grabbed his pistols, jerked them out of their
Esheera have been recruited to help extract a Krane seemed to know where he was holsters, and squeezed off two shots as the
group of colonists who have been stranded in going, but Takeda would have been hopelessly thing swept into motion. Blank yellow eyes
the Evil-infested depths of the mine. Brian Vass lost in minutes. Tributary tunnels yawned to gleamed, dusty stingers swung through the
and the alien assassin Lashiir pursue them, the sides, and shafts were carved into the rock beams of the colonists’ lights, the thunder of
even as Takeda continues his search for Cramer above and below. Takeda could occasionally gunfire bellowed in the cramped passageway.
Orano, the only man who might be able to tell see the remains of rails which had once trans- Krane dodged back. The thing had to bend over,
him anything about his forgotten past... ported ore carts. curling the black and blood-red plates coating
Takeda amplified his senses, seeing deeper its stomach. Four arms, each with a barbed
into the shadows, hearing the breath of every stinger like a rotten fruit, spread out from its
man around him. Almost immediately he torso. Long legs curled beneath. Dark ichor

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Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 34

splattered the walls and flecks of exoskeleton heard Zartsi’s rifle crack, saw a hole appear in magazine slowly, and Takeda saw anger in
hit Takeda’s face. Esheera’s hotchoker spat a the center of one’s eye, but couldn’t see any his blue eyes. “Hard prey indeed,” he hissed.
jet of yellow-orange flame. A man screamed— effect. Flames from Esheera’s hotchoker went “Must be some way to kill cleanly.”
raw, hoarse, the howl of a man having the life up again, filling the tunnel with hellish light.
torn out of him. She had gotten closer, shoving her way through “Sure,” Esheera said. “Ram a grenade down
the massed colonists. Krane’s voice rose above their throat. If you can get close enough.”
Takeda aimed every shot carefully. His the gunfire, roaring, “Move back! Move back,
bullets cracked into an exoskeleton stained She sloshed the fuel tank attached to her
damn you!”
with dark blood. Hundreds of other bullets hotchoker and seemed satisfied. “You boys
chewed into the Evil—it filled the tunnel, and One Evil lurched, its legs blasted out from alright? Tak?”
every man had a clear line of fire. A stinger underneath it. The other one toppled forward, “Yeah,” he said. His voice sounded soft
raked the air just inches away from Takeda’s chitinous arms splayed wide. It speared even to his own ears.
chest. Another man wasn’t so lucky—Takeda another man between the legs before the
saw the barb punch through a man’s cheek. others pumped enough bullets into its head A hand thumped his shoulder. Takeda
He screamed silently as venom spasmed into to finally stop it. A third blast from Esheera’s jerked, but heard Krane’s voice an instant later,
him. hotchoker ensured the death of both. saying, “Thanks, Croster. Keep your sniffer
open.”
But the Evil staggered and crumpled, black Takeda holstered his pistols slowly, realizing
liquid boiling from a hundred wounds in its that he was shaking. He felt the urge to vomit. They continued on into the darkness. Takeda
carapace. Takeda smelled cooked meat, the The stench of death and violence and terror heard dry sobs among the colonists, and it was
tang of venom, the burnt-wood odor of the filling the passageway almost overwhelmed only with an effort that he kept himself from
Evil’s flesh, the stench of sweat. He kept firing him. He fought to dampen his senses to a man- spewing up everything in his stomach.
bullets until both his magazines clicked empty. ageable intensity. The faces of the dead were
The Walking Evil writhed slowly, almost gently, horribly contorted and swollen from liters of #
for a few seconds before it lay still. It died in venom.
complete silence.
“How many dead?” Krane asked. For the Vass jogged through the darkness, clutching
Another man screamed—behind Takeda, first time Takeda heard real emotion in the his pulser in one sweaty hand while he held a
at the rear. More burnt wood. He dropped the man’s voice. flashlight with the other. Jiza loped at his side,
magazines out of his pistols and fumbled for breathing fast, and the others came close
replacements even as he pivoted on his heels. “I...at least eight. Shao’s dead,” a weak behind. They moved in a tight clump—none
He saw Zartsi ahead of him, raising his rifle at reply came back. of the men wanted to be far from their leader.
the towering beasts filling the tunnel behind. Their hearts had been hardened in the dark
“All right. Ganji, cover the rear—whatever alleys and factories of Freesail, but still they
Two Evils had moved up behind them. Takeda happens up here, remember to look backwards. feared the towering beasts that haunted these
watched one lift a man into the air, pinned on You look back even if there’s a dozen of them mines.
two stingers, and tear him in half with one coming from the front. Let’s keep moving. Pray
quick jerk. Their long, narrow heads showed no Larson’s crew is able to draw the rest of them There was no room for fear in Brian Vass’
expression—just dome-like, staring eyes and off.” heart. Hate and anger rushed through his blood,
broad mandibles enveloped by ridges of armor. blotting out every other emotion. Croster had
They were fast. Takeda saw trails of blood flying Takeda switched in fresh magazines with been so close. But his gun had come out first,
off their stingers. Men screamed and died. He trembling hands. Zartsi refilled his rifle’s and it infuriated Vass that, for a moment,

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Croster could have killed him with impunity. “More money for me, then. I’ll live like the liness over the years. Lashiir was not so stupid
Here, in these dark tunnels, this chase would Emperor himself—a sprawling house on some as to squander them while they might still have
end. And Vass would see Croster’s life bleeding nice, quiet planet with all the food and wine some use for him. Both men carried powerful
out onto the rock. and women I want for the rest of my life. rifles with expanding bullets which might have
some chance of stopping an Evil.
Jiza panned his light across the sprawled “So,” he continued. “Which is it? A few
bodies of two Evils, lying in pools of black more years as a hired gun on Coalsmoke, until The Evils intrigued Lashiir. Their dark exo-
blood. Their exoskeletons had been practically some drunk half-wit finally takes you out, or a skeletons reminded him of his own people, and
shredded. Bullet casings littered the tunnel. shot at a life you’ve only fantasized about?” they too hunted in silence. In many ways they
Vass saw human remains, too—organs and seemed the perfect predator—strong, cunning,
blood and bodies bloated with venom. There He gave them a few seconds to think it over. resilient, and swift as a shadow. Lashiir could
was another Evil carcass ahead. The stench At last, one of the men—Vass couldn’t connect only admire their dark beauty. He hoped he
of carnage was almost enough to make Vass his voice to a name—whispered, “I know I would encounter one before his hunt ended.
retch. won’t live forever. May as well score.” To quench Tsiika in the flesh of such a beast,
and record the kill on the fanglurker-tongue
“This...does not look good,” Jiza hissed. Jiza jerked his head up and down once. pages of his black book...
“Aye,” he said. “If I have to die, might as well
“Yeah,” Gather said. “I’ve seen a lot of bad do it with my finger on a trigger.” The tunnels were long, their turnings
shit. But those things are the worst.” complex, but still Lashiir managed to forge his
Vass smiled. “Then let’s keep moving.” way through them. He trailed his claws along
Vass patted his pulser gently with one hand.
They walked over the carnage staining the the rock and paid attention to the currents of
The strome barrel was warm and faintly moist.
tunnel floor. Vass’ boots squelched as he went air created by openings. He had successfully
“You boys want to turn back?”
straight through a torn corpse. His men picked obtained and memorized a map of the mines.
Jiza grunted. “There’s doing a job, and then their way more carefully. Now it was just a matter of finding his way to a
there’s suicide.” point where he could intercept his prey.
# Then, finally, his hunt would be over.
Anger bubbled up in Vass. The obvious
threat occurred to him—if any man refused Hot darkness covered Lashiir like a second #
to go on, he would shoot them. But he knew cloak. He almost thought he could feel it
he couldn’t get more than two or three before slipping between his claws like thick smoke, a
the others killed him. And he couldn’t die. Krane shut the great strome door person-
tangible presence with smell, sound, taste. But
Not without killing Croster and celebrating on ally, and a resounding clang echoed through
still it was imperfect. Enough light remained
Hyderra with a few of their legendary courte- the antechamber. Takeda could feel tension
to show Lashiir the way, even if Thomas and
sans. ease in the men around him. For a little while,
Heziah were all but blind. at least, they were safe from the Evils. The
“You remember what Clane is paying?” he colonists’ diversion seemed to have worked—
A part of Lashiir wanted to kill the two
said. “It’s enough to make you all rich.” Krane’s party had encountered only one more
humans now, with two quick slashes of Tsiika. It
would be good to be alone, as he had once been, of the beasts, and they had lost just one man
“Money’s no good if I don’t live to spend
just himself and the darkness of the mines. But to its death throes.
it,” Jiza answered.
he had put years of effort into training them, Law Krane wearily lifted a communicator
Vass half-turned his head, smiling coldly. and they had acquired some measure of dead-

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 36

to his mouth and spoke into it. “All right, Hin. with a wry smile on his face. “I’d drink to that. croak came out. A woman came just after and
Bring your people down to the Number Two Cursed with a hot sun and more sand than I picked him up, shushing him. She didn’t look
Shaft. We’re here to escort you up.” ever wanted to see in a dozen lifetimes. I’d any better.
just like to see their profit reports. This iron
Takeda heard a voice mutter in reply but must make a damned lot of money for them to Women, children, men with hollow eyes
couldn’t make out the words. Krane answered, bother with it.” and thin arms came flooding out. Only a
“Slightly less than forty. Bring your own relative handful carried any kind of weapon.
weapons.” “It gives the government some place to Some of them resembled specters that had
send people who need work,” Takeda said, perished from thirst long ago, with pale, gaunt
Takeda nervously checked the magazines trying to avoid looking at Krane. faces and dry hands.
in his pistols. Both full. He had changed them
four minutes ago. Esheera had taken the The big man was moving among his men, “Why so many children?” Esheera hissed,
brief moments of inactivity as a chance to muttering encouragement wherever he could. softly.
hunch against the stone wall, resting her legs. Every one of the colonists was drenched in
Zartsi simply stood still, like a statue, with his sweat and black dust. One seemed to be “This was supposed to be the safest area,”
rifle clutched in both hands. The Lithrallian’s mumbling some kind of poem to himself, Krane said. “We thought the Evils would
eyes were wide with some emotion—Takeda over and over. Another was cleaning his rifle penetrate at ground level if anywhere, and
couldn’t tell whether it was anger or something without a brush, so he did nothing but smear we’d be forced down.”
else. more dust into it. Krane gently interceded and One of the men wore a gray security
reassembled the weapon.
“Takeda,” he said, softly, “humans should uniform and carried what looked like a thirty
never have come to Nihil.” Takeda tentatively tapped him on the year-old pulser carbine with streaks of rust on
shoulder. He straightened up slowly, cocked his the barrel. His dark face was obscured beneath
“Don’t talk like that here,” Takeda hissed, head, and asked, “Something the matter?” a thick layer of mine dust. “Hey, Law,” he called.
looking around to make sure no one else had “Thanks for blowing us out.”
heard. “No...just a question. What does Cramer
Orano look like?” “I haven’t done it yet. How many guns do
Zartsi smiled tightly. “Apologies. But Takeda, you have?”
you have seen Evils fight—even seen them “Hm. Why so interested in the guy?”
work with others. I have seen many beasts on The man—Hin—shot a pained glance
Lithral and other worlds. Some hunt alone and “He...I think he used to be a doctor on back over his shoulder. “There was an Evil
some in packs. But none do what these Evils Freedan. I was told he knew something about incursion...just two of the things, but we lost
do.” my condition.” some men before we could seal the crack. I...I
think I count twenty who aren’t hurt.”
“You...you don’t think they could be “I’ll point him out when he comes in.”
sentient?” Krane’s eyes swept over the ragged group,
Ten minutes later, a sliding door at the making his own tally. He grunted. “All right.
Zartsi shook his head emphatically. “No. antechamber’s far end grated open. The first We’ll break into two groups and collect all the
Certainly not. But there is some curse on this person to come through was a child, probably women and children in the middle.”
world to make it spawn such.” not more than six or seven years old. Halos of
red skin surrounded his eyes and his skin was The groups of colonists mingled. Men
Esheera laughed softly and looked up as pale as milk. He tried to speak but only a greeted friends and acquaintances, and some

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 37

of Takeda’s party seemed to be reuniting with maybe you could.” hear you just fine.”
wives and children. He felt out of place and
somewhat embarrassed as he saw one man “Beinnen...I told him not to point anyone Zartsi stepped into place on his other
start crying in his wife’s arms. Had Orano found after me. You could have been one of them.” side. The Lithrallian had his rifle slung over
a woman here and married her? Did he have his shoulders, but Takeda noticed his hands
“One of who?” hovering down by his daggers. “Tell Tak what
children?
he wants to know,” he hissed.
Orano waved the question off. “Never
“Hey, Croster!” Krane called. “That guy.” mind. If you had been you would have killed Orano’s face twisted in anger. “You don’t
He pointed to an African man of middle me already.” know what you’re asking. Every day since I
height, with a thin comb of beard stretch- escaped I’ve tried to forget that nightmare.”
Takeda took a step closer, feeling his hands
ing from ear to ear. He didn’t look older than curl into fists. “Then you can help me.” Esheera snorted loudly and pointed a
thirty-five, but his head was mostly bald, with
what looked like burn scars stretched across it. finger at him. “Look—I haven’t know this boy
“Help you? No, boy, I can’t do that. I don’t
There was muscle beneath the dark skin on his for long, but I’ve seen how much pain he’s in. If
think anyone can. Don’t you remember?”
arms. you know anything, you’re going to tell it. For
Takeda clenched and unclenched his hands. all of us.”
Orano looked up at Krane’s shout. His face If Orano didn’t tell him anything, he couldn’t
seemed to have frozen in a permanent frown, Zartsi laughed softly. The sound came out
promise that he wouldn’t try using force. “I
with eyebrows lowered over deep brown eyes. as a quiet hissing noise. “For once we agree,
can’t remember anything before three years
Takeda closed the distance between them. Rover.”
ago. That’s why I need you to tell me...what I
Under any other circumstances he would have am. Who I am, if you know.” Panic flashed again in Orano’s eyes. “You’re
been shaking with nervousness. But he had attempting to threaten me?” he whispered.
gone through too much to find this man to let A wild expression flitted across Orano’s face. “I’ve lived in more fear than you can imagine.
shyness hold him back. It looked like panic. He glanced over Takeda’s Just go back wherever you came from, young
shoulder, as if searching for something in the
“Who are you?” Orano asked, with a voice man. I can’t imagine how you got loose, but
gloom. He seemed to be sweating more than
that seemed to echo deep in his chest. if you’ve stayed free this long, you might have
he had been a minute ago. some life left to live.”
“I’m called Takeda Croster. I knew...I talked “Look, Croster. I’ve managed to stay alive for
to a Lawrence Beinnen, in Freesail. He examined “I can’t go back,” Takeda said, hearing his
four years because I’ve tried never to mention
me. You worked with him, right?” own voice rise. “My powers got me in trouble
anything connected to what happened before with the police, and they’re still chasing me,
those four years.”
Orano stared, his eyes stretching wider. even here on Nihil. I can’t ever go back.”
“Croster, you said?” “What happened?” Takeda asked, trying Orano frowned deeply, but this time
not to shout. “What am I?”
“Yeah.” his panic didn’t fade. “Have you heard of
“You’re a damned weapon, that’s what!” Caulthor?”
“What did this examination turn up?”
“No need to shout,” Esheera said, and Takeda tried to remember. “It doesn’t
“He told me that I had organ and bone sound familiar.”
Takeda realized that she was standing at his
structures he had never seen in a human being side, arms folded across her chest. “Tak can
before. He couldn’t tell me why. But he thought Orano grunted. “Do you realize that

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 38

Lawrence Beinnen might already be dead?” unshouldered his rifle with the other. Esheera thank whatever god watched over gangsters
jogged just behind, and Takeda followed, that they hadn’t encountered an Evil.
That struck Takeda into silence. Beinnen feeling simultaneously guilty and thankful. He
dead? Who would have killed him just for had heard the pain and the terror in Orano’s “Well, then. What caused the collapse?”
examining a patient? How could they even voice, and if Zartsi and Esheera hadn’t inter- he asked, snapping on his own flashlight. The
have learned about the examination? Before vened, he wasn’t so certain he would really tunnel seemed to enlarge dramatically just
he could regain his poise, Law Krane’s voice have had the conviction to force anything out before the rock fall...it almost looked as if the
thundered through the room. of Orano. stone had been scooped out by a massive
claw.
“All right, people. Men with weapons They went out into the mines once again.
around the women and children. No one gets “I...either the colonists engineered it them-
left behind but we’re going to move fast. If # selves for some reason, or it had been coming
someone needs a hand, give it. Otherwise, stay for a while, or those things are strong as
alert and be ready to shoot. The Evils aren’t hell,” Gather answered, cracking his knuckles
“Another rock fall,” Jiza hissed. His tail
glutted yet.” nervously.
whipped angrily at the dusty air. “Are these
Orano drew a battered old pistol from his mines dug like shit, or did they do this on Vass gestured angrily with his pulser.
waistband and tried to dart between Takeda purpose?” “You’re asking me to believe that the Walking
and Esheera. Zartsi stepped into his path and Evils did this?”
Gather panned his flashlight beam over
caught him by the shoulder. “Not so quickly,” the shattered boulders and rocks, laced with “I don’t know. It’s possible the miners
the Lithrallian hissed. “I think we will stay faint streaks of iron ore. Clouds of dust showed brought it down themselves, maybe to discour-
close.” in the light. He walked up and kicked the fall, age Evil pursuit.”
Orano’s scowl took on a fresh savagery. hard. Pebbles rained down from above.
“How much did you pay for the thugs, Jiza clawed out a stone slightly larger than
“You’re sure they came this way?” Vass his skull. Almost immediately, similar rocks
Croster?” asked. shifted to fill the gap, and Vass saw one boulder
Takeda couldn’t keep a smile off his face. grind slightly lower. He backhanded the Lithral-
Gather aimed his beam down at the floor.
“Nothing, yet. The money I gave Esheera was lian across the head.
“Almost certain. This is the best route left by
just for passage.” the other collapse. So...this fall is recent. An “Don’t touch it,” Vass growled. “At best
Zartsi leaned in close to Orano, his nostrils hour ago at the latest.” you’ll waste your breath, at worst you’ll crush
flaring. He had to bend down far to put his us.”
“We heard it happening, didn’t we?”
eyes on a level with the doctor’s. Crystal blue
locked with earthy brown. The Lithrallian’s He turned back to Gather, ignoring a snarled
About twenty minutes ago, Vass’ men
scaly lips peeled up to show the pointed teeth curse from Jiza. The Lithrallian had already
had nearly panicked as a sound like the roar
that edged his jaws. “You will tell all. I have learned to obey his authority. “What route will
of hyperengines came crashing through the
saved Takeda’s life too many times to see him they take on the return trip?”
narrow tunnel, jostling fragments of stone from
defeated now.” the tunnel walls. It had sounded as if the entire “Hm...good question. I didn’t study the
mine was collapsing on top of them. A few maps for long, but...there are several routes,
He strode to join the colonists, hauling carefully selected words from Vass had been but I think the most direct would be through...
Orano in his wake with one hand while he necessary to keep them moving. He could only

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 39

the deepest mine here was dug over a particu- “You mentioned Caulthor,” Takeda asked, Orano hesitated. His bald head glistened
larly rich web of iron veins that went straight slowly. “What is that?” with droplets of semi-opaque sweat. Zartsi
down. So they created an underground strip gripped his shoulder, digging in claws, and the
mine to exploit it. There’s a passage leading up “A planet,” Orano whispered. man flinched. Takeda started to wave the Lith-
from that which should get them to the upper rallian off, but Orano spoke again. “He made
“Where?”
levels.” you. Hell, Croster, I helped him! That’s why I’m
“Vodrune Province.” running...because I spent five years on Caulthor
“You think Krane will go that way?” helping him rip people apart.”
Takeda remembered the name. He had
Gather shrugged. “It’s my best guess. I can’t A lump of ice formed in Takeda’s heart.
heard it on the broadcast news in Beinnen’s
tell for certain.” “Wait...do you recognize my name?”
office, and it had come up in his reading.
Vass stared at the wall of rock blocking Vodrune was a small province bordering Another long pause. Orano’s breaths were
the passage for a moment. “Can you get us Canghi, with two systems. Ruled by...Takeda heavy and raw, like the wheezing of some huge
there?” couldn’t remember the name. machine. “Yes...” he said at last. “He didn’t...
“Caulthor is Jezai Tong’s capital,” Esheera let you have names, just numbers, but Takeda
“I think so.”
said from the darkness behind them. Croster...was a planned identity for one of
“All right. Lead on.” you.”
Orano shuddered. “Correct. Count Tong.”
“There’s...more like me?”
# He turned and glared up at Takeda, his dark
eyes seeming to absorb the diffuse glow from “Yes. More. Many more. I wasn’t high up
Zartsi kept Orano close to his side. A their flashlights. “Croster, you can’t realize enough to know exactly how many.”
couple of the colonists had come to the man’s what I’m risking. If...I’m damned surprised they
defense, making Zartsi release him, and Orano Takeda listened to their footsteps rever-
haven’t already found me. Even more surprised
had managed to worm his way up to the front, berating off the rock, like drums in his head,
they haven’t tracked you down. I’m using a
away from Takeda. Then they had encoun- and the steady rasp of breath up and down
false name—I wasn’t born Cramer Orano—I
tered the rock fall blocking their way back up, the tunnel. He didn’t smell any Evils. For
got a new citizenship card, I tried to burn every
showing all the signs of having been triggered the moment, they were safe. So he tried to
trace...and there’s hardly been a night when
by Evils. Some of the men from below had remember. Tried to remember Tong, Caulthor,
I’ve slept easy.
started crying. Children howled plaintively. anything. Was Caulthor the world of fire he
In the confusion, while Krane restored order, “That’s why I don’t want to tell you anything. saw in his nightmares? Who was the woman
Zartsi had been able to slip up to Orano and Because if they find you, they’ll torture you, he saw, too lovely to be real?
drag him back. and you’d tell them everything they wanted to Had these people...Orano and whoever he
know and more.”
Guilt and eagerness warred within Takeda had worked with...really made him like this?
as he looked down at the stout man’s bare “Tell...who?” He couldn’t imagine the technology it would
head. The haunted look in his eyes hadn’t take to modify a normal human so extensively.
faded, and his sweat-drenched face looked “Tong, damn it!” And what kind of person had he been before?
simultaneously fierce and pitiful. But he was Had they cloned him, grown him in a vat with
Takeda wiped sweat off his brow. “What these modifications already encoded, or had
the only man who could tell Takeda what he does Tong have to do with me?” they wiped his memory and hacked up his
had to know.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 40

body afterwards? Takeda glanced up. The rock face they darkness, and a raw scream echoed off stone.
had emerged from was about ten feet high, The stench of cooked flesh filled Takeda’s
Why? forming another shelf of rust-tinted stone. nostrils. He spun his head to see a man collaps-
Other shelves ascended up into blackness. He ing with a gaping hole burnt through the meat
He couldn’t remember a thing. It was just could barely make out the rough face of the of his leg. Horror twisted his gut. The shot had
blackness, nothing, as if he had been born in ceiling, far overhead. This pit was shaped like a been meant for him.
that sparse hotel room on Belar. He didn’t know gargantuan corkscrew. A strong metallic smell
how he had arrived there, who he had been His eyes went to the beam’s source.
filled the air, and Takeda could taste bitter dust
before, whether he had family somewhere Enhanced sight showed him a gleam of metal
on his tongue.
among the stars...nothing. in the darkness, a few hundred feet ahead on
Krane led them along the upward slope. the next level up. Gunshots thundered through
“Quiet,” Krane shouted. “Keep your eyes Except for the muffled cries of one small the mine. Takeda heard automatic weapons,
open and your guns primed.” child, near-complete silence had fallen over heard bullets crashing into stone and flesh. The
Takeda looked up. Through the ranks of the procession. Takeda expanded his senses, screams of wounded men and women were
people ahead he could see flashlight beams sniffing the air and scanning the darkness with deafening. Krane roared something, and the
stretching into an open space far larger and his eyes. The dust motes drifting in flashlight colonists returned fire. Another pulser beam
wider than any of the tunnels. The golden beams took on sharp definition. lanced past Takeda and hit between Zartsi’s
beams lanced out into vast darkness. legs as the Lithrallian balanced his rifle against
They had processed two levels up and were one shoulder.
“Just follow me and keep together,” Krane on the opposite side of the pit when Takeda
said. “Don’t stray—there’s a long way to fall.” scented something past the odor of rusty iron. Vass. It had to be him and his thugs. Cold
A smell like scorched wood. guilt filled Takeda even as he felt his body
Holding his questions in took an active come awake for combat. The colonists were
effort, but Takeda stayed silent as the group Terror jolted through him. The smell was all completely exposed—there was no rubble, no
stepped out of the tunnel. He had to concen- around them. “Krane,” he hissed, pushing his abandoned loaders, nothing except a pair of
trate to keep his footing on a slope of loose way forward. “Krane!” steel rails in the middle of the ledge. Vass and
stones. Zartsi scrambled down ahead of him, his men were down on their stomachs, shielded
“Quiet!” Krane barked back.
rifle balanced in both hands. from below by the rock itself. Takeda saw one of
“Evils!” Takeda shouted. them jerk up, spasming from a bullet wound to
Ten feet in front of him the ground dropped his head, but the others continued to poor fire
away into a gulf of blackness. He aimed his A child screamed. Takeda heard the down. The stench of blood was everywhere.
flashlight beam down and saw hints of a hole stuttered clicks of men cocking their guns while
with a diameter equivalent to four train cars laid flashlight beams swept the cavern. He drew his Takeda rolled forward as the pulser lanced
end-to-end. It seemed to descend in enormous pistols. “Surround the women and children!” out again. He came up in a crouch, a pistol in
ridges of umber stone, with black steel rails Krane bellowed. “Best guns in front!” each hand, and slammed the triggers back. He
coiling down along them. He stepped up to the tightened his arms as recoil rolled over them.
edge. His flashlight beam couldn’t reach to the The sizzle of a pulser beam burning dry He felt strong, as if he could tear pieces out
black emptiness at the bottom. air rang in Takeda’s ears, and he saw red light of the stone with his bare hands. A body fell
mirrored in the whites of men’s eyes. He spun. from the shelf ahead with a choked-off cry.
“Keep moving,” Krane’s raw voice hissed The beam had raked the stone just a couple Zartsi’s rifle brought down another. Takeda
back. Zartsi’s clawed hand pulled Takeda back feet past his head. heard Esheera’s voice, faintly, but even his
from the edge. enhanced hearing couldn’t catch words in the
He ducked. Another pulser beam split the cacophony.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 41

So much death. Vass was after him, and slipped on the steel. The colonists were dying. Bodies littered
these colonists paid the price in blood. Takeda the shelf. The beasts were towers of iron
felt another emotion burning through him: Stingers moved like turbine arms. A colo- muscle coated with armor. Takeda emptied his
hot, violent anger. nist’s head rolled off his shoulders, knocked pistols into one’s chest, watched fragments of
flying by a single sweep. Takeda stepped back chitin break away as his bullets tore into the
The burnt-wood smell came from all around as he fired, saw Esheera run closer, screamed flesh beneath. He dropped them and grabbed
him, stronger even than the stink of blood. at her to get back and couldn’t hear his own a rifle from the cold fingers of a corpse with its
Chitin scraped against rock and mandibles voice. She aimed her hotchoker straight up at chest torn open. He pulled the trigger back. His
whirred. Below in the pit, splayed out on the one of the beasts as it towered over her. One strength was more than enough to fight the kick
steps above, lurking in the darkness ahead of its stingers began to descend. She triggered as bullets sprayed from the barrel, shredding a
and behind. He could hear their steady breath, her weapon, mixing two volatile fuels which jagged line up the Evil’s torso. It teetered for a
smell their acrid saliva. exploded into flame on contact. Fire went all moment, like a fallen tree, then fell forward,
up the Evil’s torso, slipping into its armor and mashing corpses beneath its weight.
The colonists were surrounded. cooking the muscle underneath. But the stinger
still came down. Takeda saw it as if they were Esheera raked a plume of fire across three
Chaos was all around him. Roaring struggling through water. Esheera wouldn’t be beasts, one of them already limping. Takeda
weapons, stone slicked with blood, flashlight able to move aside in time. saw Krane with a pair of rifles braced against
beams—many now at the level of his feet. He his meaty shoulders, pouring fire into beasts
heard Zartsi shout in his own language, heard He leapt forward, firing. Bullets struck the on all sides. Other colonists were still standing,
the distinctive crack of his rifle. Takeda turned arm halfway down, shattering chitin. The Evil still firing, and bullet casings rolled through
towards the edge of the shelf as hooked recoiled just slightly. Takeda dashed forward pools of scarlet blood reflecting the white
stingers latched onto it like ancient grappling and launched himself into the air. beams of fallen lights. Takeda looked for Zartsi,
hooks, pulling up a pair of blank yellow eyes feeling horror rise in him as he imagined a
and a pair mandibles like obsidian blades. A foot-length of stinger and talon clattered Lithrallian corpse among the torn humans...
They swarmed up over the side, silent, hungry. on rock, and black ichor stained the edge an Evil shambled in front of him, trailing flame
Takeda turned and shot one through the eye. of the bone-colored blade sprouting from and rivulets of blood. Takeda slapped his hands
Black fluid leaked out, but the beast didn’t so Takeda’s forearm. He hit the ground, rolled, against its legs, felt warm chitin, and let energy
much as twitch. and caught himself on the lip of stone. Another flow out of him and arc from his fingertips. The
Evil standing below raked at him. He slashed its
Red light glowed in the facets of their black Evil toppled, but Takeda leapt away, faster than
stinger off and emptied one pistol’s magazine
carapaces for an instant as the pulser raked its arms could reach him.
into its cranium. It toppled slowly, making
through the colonists again. Takeda leapt just room for another beast from farther below. He saw Zartsi’s rifle on the ground, lying in
ahead of it, rolling through a pool of blood, Takeda scanned the area around him. More of a flashlight beam. The barrel had been slashed
over a burnt corpse. He came up firing. A them were rolling down from above, charging off a foot above the trigger guard. His eyes
flare from Esheera’s hotchoker engulfed one up from behind. Blood slicked their carapaces went up and saw white blades gleaming against
Evil’s head in fierce orange-and-white flames. as they slaughtered men, women, children. a backdrop of bloodstained rock. Zartsi’s back
It ascended with tongues of fire still crackling Takeda heard a high scream and looked up to was pressed against the wall. A shadow stood in
in its eyes sockets, with nothing but a high- see men jumping down on the shelf ahead. The front of him, and a blade blacker than darkness
pitched wheeze to show it had been hurt. red beam of a pulser flared in the darkness. moved in a whirlwind around him, barely held
Takeda dropped his spent magazines out and Evils had come up behind Vass. back by his daggers.
reached for a fresh pair. His sweaty hands

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 42

Takeda saw Lashiir’s hooked beak a moment looked down the black barrel. Takeda had never seen him before, but he
later as the two circled, slashing at each other. knew the man’s name. Jezai Tong.
Even his enhanced vision had trouble following Death. Anger. Orano’s broken body. Zartsi’s
the sweeps their blades carved in the air. The blood, spattering on rock. A wordless howl Tong stood. His cloak fell to his ankles, and
Clordite’s weapon seemed to have no clear from Esheera—a howl of pain. his red breastplate seemed to absorb light. His
outline, as if it were coalesced fog rather than voice hissed between scarred lips. “Answer
Evils all around. me.”
metal. It whined oddly as it clashed off Zartsi’s
defenses, and the Lithrallian backstepped with The hollow barrel of Vass’ pulser. “I...I don’t know,” Takeda croaked. His
each blow. Lashiir fought in silence, his features throat was dry, and he was so cold.
impassive, while Zartsi’s lips were pulled up in #
a snarl. Then Takeda saw the body lying nearby, “Good.”
his bald skull split open. Takeda was naked. The stone floor beneath Tong took a single step down. He still loomed
Cramer Orano lay dead on the stone. him had been polished to the smoothness of high above Takeda. “I’ll tell you why. Because
ice. When Takeda stared at it, it looked black, you are a healthy male in your early twenties
For an instant, Takeda felt only shock. He but in the corners of his eyes he thought he with excellent immunity and endurance. You
knew Jezai Tong’s name, knew the name of could see highlights of brilliant scarlet. He have the correct height and a generally solid
the planet, knew that he had been...made. But shivered. constitution. There is no other reason. Tell
nothing more. And now Orano was dead. The
“Why are you here?” a voice said from me...do you remember your parents?”
only man who could tell him anything more.
somewhere ahead of him. “No...I can’t.”
Another man dead. Another hope lost.
Takeda’s eyes went over all the dead men, He raised his head slowly, afraid of what he Tong’s mouth opened, showing yellow
watched another colonist die, spasming as might see. Columns of the same black stone, teeth which had worn away to points. “Good.
venom flooded his veins. Evils strode towards webbed with veins of burning orange, were You have no name. You will have no name until
him on all sides. He saw Esheera backing arrayed around him in a great circle. He knelt I give you one. For you...you are mine, little
towards him, still spraying flame at them. He at one end. The other end held a dais, raised man.”
saw Krane’s corpse lying on the rocks. Zartsi high off the floor, with a throne situated atop
and Lashiir fought on, unaware of the death it. Takeda shivered, huddling in on himself,
crowding around them. Here, beneath the terrified of the specter looming over him and
A man crouched in that throne, dressed in
desert and uncountable tons of stone, Takeda ashamed of his nakedness. But then, suddenly,
crimson armor that gleamed in the dim light.
would die, his life of three years ended. the floor was gone, and he lay on his back in
His scarlet cloak fell to one side and hands like a room that was stiflingly hot. He screamed
Then he saw Brian Vass, standing on top of a raptor’s talons clutched the stone arms of rawly. Agony laced him.
a torn Evil corpse twenty feet away. His pulser the throne. His eyes were yellow, the color of
came up, slowly, and he ignored the Evils closing rotten egg, with pinhole pupils in the center. “More!” a voice bellowed somewhere
in on his back, cocking their stingers above His mouth was a black gash in pale, desic- close. “More, before he passes out!”
him. Other Evils were beginning to feed in the cated flesh. His nose seemed to have been
darkness behind him, slurping down warm chopped off—it was just a pair of slits. His hair A pinprick of white pain lanced through the
flesh and blood. The pulser’s barrel came up. was pulled back into a thin black queue that torment that seemed to cover every inch of his
Vass’ ice-blue eyes burned with hatred. Takeda dangled against one armored shoulder. flesh. He screamed again, arching his body,
but thick, hard bands held him down. He could

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 43

barely twitch without pressing against them. head. behind them. Takeda moved among the Evils,
He opened his eyes but could see nothing tearing, clawing, slashing, blasting them with
except shadows drifting in a mist of red. He felt something break open on his bursts of energy from his hands and shoulder.
shoulder, and he felt muscles he had never They fell back from him, detecting the danger
The pain faded suddenly, and he soared known he possessed. The weapon on his he posed.
through darkness and shadow. The screams of shoulder acted like a pulser beam, powered by
other men were all around him, their sources the energies of his own body. He fired. The bolt Blood dripped from a cut on Esheera’s
unseen. He called for help, wept, howled, but struck Vass in the chest, knocking him back forehead. Her ears stood straight up as she
no one heard him. He was alone forever. before he could aim another shot. saw him. Takeda heard his own voice as a raw
croak. “We’re leaving!”
You are mine. Takeda advanced. Blue-tinted strome
spread over his hands, hardening into talons Then he lunged at Lashiir, just as Zartsi
Memories rushed in. He remembered eons on his fingers. Bone colored blades jutted out launched a series of jabs with both daggers in
of torture as they tore him apart, bone by from both forearms and his knees. He felt sequence, pushing the Clordite back. Takeda
bone and organ by organ, and rebuilt him as strong enough to chew steel, fast enough to swung back one arm, aiming a decapitating
something else, something terrible. A weapon. outrun sound. Vass moved in slow motion as blow. Lashiir half-turned to face him. Takeda
A monster. He remembered Tong coming to see he fell back, his left shoulder blasted apart. could find no expression in the black plates
him in his pit, coming to stare down at him and Takeda bore down upon him. His claws seized covering his face.
smile. He remembered surgeons with gleaming the former policeman out of the air.
blades and saws and syringes. He remembered Takeda’s arm sliced open his hood as the
glimpses of Caulthor’s landscape, a wasteland Vass’ mouth opened in a silent scream Clordite dropped onto his haunches and rolled.
of ash and fire where pockets of miserable as he saw Takeda’s face. Takeda gave him no Pain blossomed from Takeda’s leg, and he looked
colonists struggled to survive in domed settle- time to speak. This man had taken his home down to see a slit in the strome armoring his
ments. from him, had committed numberless crimes thigh. Dark blood leaked out. Lashiir’s vibrating
in Greendome. He swung Vass back with one sword had cut straight through his armor.
Takeda remembered Count Jezai Tong. arm. There was no strain on his muscles.
The Clordite came up a few feet away and
# He hurled Vass over the lip of the pit, down held his quivering blade in a guard stance.
into the mine. He heard the body thump down, A hiss like that of steam leaking from a pipe
Takeda’s body had already lunged into heard Vass scream, heard him roll over and slipped out of his beak. “You are changed,
motion. The pulser beam sizzled a millimeter over. Then silence. Takeda Croster,” he said, speaking through his
past his cheek. He had seen its trajectory and translator.
Takeda whirled, swinging one of his arms
dodged even as Vass pulled the trigger. But he up to catch the stinger descending upon him. Takeda fired his shoulder cannon as Zartsi
wasn’t burnt. He tore the limb from its socket, ripping apart dived forward with a roar. Lashiir flipped away
A thin layer of strome had spread to shield chitin and muscle. He fired two bolts from the from his shot as nimbly as any acrobat. Then
the soft flesh of his cheek. Beinnen had told weapon in his shoulder. The Evil’s head fell from he rushed to meet them.
him there was metal in his sweat glands. It rose its shoulders. Takeda ran between its legs.
The Clordite didn’t notice the Evil lurching
now, spreading from every pore, covering his Esheera and a single remaining colonist down on him until it was too late. It threw
skin in gleaming armor. Takeda felt only a cold held off a handful of Evils, while Zartsi and itself into Lashiir, trailing streaks of fire from its
burning, like having ice water poured over his Lashiir fought in a whirlwind of movement back and shoulders—Esheera had already hurt

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 44

it. Lashiir screamed thinly as the Evil’s weight with a jolt of agony. Takeda winced beneath side, cradling his arm—apparently Lashiir had
carried him down. Takeda watched them roll, the mask of strome covering his face. The pain succeeded in cutting him to the bone, and
so fast it was hard for him to look, and tumble intensified as he activated the jets. His bones fighting had only worsened the arm. One of the
deeper into darkness. had been reinforced to bear the accelera- ship’s medics had given him a quick bandaging
tion, but still a net of pain seemed to stretch before moving on to the dozens of others
Zartsi stepped up to the edge, his fangs throughout his body. Esheera’s weight settled more seriously injured. Esheera squatted on
showing in a snarl. “I must kill him,” he hissed. tighter on his shoulders. the floor in front of Takeda. Her wounds were
“Kill him now.” worse: a glancing shot from one of Lashiir’s
He leapt into the air just ahead of a pack of men had nearly split her skull open, and one of
“No!” Takeda shouted, grabbing his arm. Evils. His eyes could penetrate the darkness— her hands was burnt badly.
The Lithrallian turned on him, eyes burning. he had no need for light. Takeda soared high
“No, we have to get out!” above the mine, carrying his own weight and “Clordite is alive,” Zartsi hissed, slowly. It
that of three others. The strain exacted a fast was the first word any of them had said. His
There were still Evils all around, some toll, and he gratefully dropped them before the voice echoed far among bulky plastic shipping
already beginning to feed on the slaughtered exit just beneath the mine’s ceiling. crates.
colonists. They lurked a few feet back, wary
of Takeda and his companions, but Takeda He gasped for breath. His lungs burned, “I doubt it,” Takeda whispered. “The Evils
doubted he could kill all of them. And the like they were full of coals, and he doubled must have killed him.”
rescue ships would be arriving soon. over. The strome armor coating his skin bent
to match his movements—it had been mixed “No,” Zartsi answered. “That one couldn’t
He threw his arm around Zartsi’ waist while die so easily. He is best swordsman I have
with flexible polymers by a process known only
the Lithrallian struggled to get free. “Don’t known. I...could not kill him.”
to Tong.
fight!” Takeda roared. Speaking was difficult.
“Let’s go,” he said, stumbling forward into Anger tinged every word. Takeda knew
He dragged Zartsi with him as he ran towards some of that anger must be towards him. But
the passageway.
Esheera and the one remaining colonist who what else could he have done?
stood with her. “On my shoulders!” he told her. “Tak...what happened to you?” Esheera
“Hold on tight!” asked as she jogged after him. Esheera tapped the fingers of her uninjured
hand against the bulkhead. She was shaking
She didn’t ask questions, and the colonist “I’ll talk later. We have to go.” slightly—Takeda hoped she hadn’t gone
didn’t fight as Takeda picked him up with his feverish. “Are you all right, Tak?” she asked.
other arm. The man’s gaze was hollow. #
He smiled grimly. “Better than you. My leg’s
“Let go!” Zartsi roared. “Clordite!” already starting to heal.”
The transport’s hold was dim and
Takeda ignored him. He was strong enough quiet—two things Takeda prized right now. His She glanced down at the torn leg of his
to pin Zartsi against his side as he felt for the head throbbed with a steady beat and he felt pants. The flesh beneath had hardly needed a
muscles he knew were coiled around his spine. too exhausted to do more than slump against bandage—the flow of blood had slowed to a
Beinnen had told him about an unidentifiable the bulkhead. His belly was full, painfully trickle by the time they had reached the upper
bone structure in that region. Now Takeda so—the first thing he had done aboard ship levels.
knew what it was. was devour enough rations for four men.
“What happened to you?” she asked.
The hoverjets extended through his skin Zartsi crouched in the darkness at one

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 45

“That’s what I am. That’s...that’s what my especially not if he takes a new name, or jumps “I’m not interested in your woman.”
body does.” ship off-world.”
Brian smiled jaggedly. Some of his teeth
“Count Tong made you like this?” “Then we go back?” were missing, leaving black holes. “This one
knew Croster. It’s an idea I had, in the dark...I
Takeda nodded, slowly. Every breath came Five-Five considered the question. To got many ideas, but this one was good. She
hard. “Yes. I remember him. Not everything, go back would be to face him. To face him knew him, I think she liked him...and he liked
but him...I remember what Jezai Tong did to and admit failure. Five-Five didn’t relish that her. He just might come for her if he knew she
me. And I think I remember why.” prospect. But he saw no other choice—and he was in danger.”
would want a report. Death was unlikely. Only
He slumped back against the bulkhead. It punishment. “What if we can’t find Croster?”
was cool, soothing against his sore back. “I’ll
tell you everything...later,” he whispered. “Now “Yes,” he said at last. “Bring any useful “You can find her...with my help. And it’s
I need to sleep.” data.” easier to get a message where Croster will hear
it than actually find him, isn’t it?”
They were still with him as he drifted away, Suddenly, Five-Five heard ragged coughing
watching him and guarding him, as they always from somewhere behind him. He turned, his “Perhaps,” Five-Five said, slowly. He made
had. eyes easily seeing through the darkness. No, his decision quickly. The Count would be
not coughing. Laughter. A man was standing, happier with something than nothing. And this
# slumped against the wall of the mine. His man’s scheme might work. If it turned out to
clothes were soaked in blood, and every breath be mere delusion, they would simply eject him
Five-Five was unhappy. In the past day, he came ragged, but he was alive. with their ship’s waste.
and Four-Two-Six had gone up and down the “You want Croster?” the man asked, voice “Bring him, Four-Two-Six.”
mines, cracking every computer they could find raw. “I do too.”
and clearing out lingering beasts. They found
nothing but old blood and a few dry corpses. #
Five-Five frowned. “Who are you?”
Most had been eaten before the surviving Evils
abandoned the mines for their desert homes. “Brian, I think. It’s hard to remember. It’s Lashiir had fallen, his body crushed beneath
not easy, staying alive down here. Not with the the Evil’s weight, and for a moment he had
Scraps of chitin and a thick layer of dried up Evils. Not easy to hide with a broken arm and been utterly confused. In that moment he had
blood and ichor was all that remained of what your ribs smashed back into your lungs. But I dropped Tsiika, letting her clatter to the stone
must have been an impressive battle. Five-Five hid. Hid from the Evils, then ate what they left. as he rolled with the beast, its arms wrapped
let his lips curl up in a snarl as he looked over Bitter stuff.” around him.
the enormous strip mine. Nothing.
He lifted his hand and bit off a chunk of But then Lashiir had remembered himself.
“What now?” Four-Two-Six asked. some dried meat. “Bitter,” he said again. He stayed close, where the beast’s stingers
couldn’t reach him, and used the techniques of
Five-Five grunted, arms crossed over “Is there any reason I shouldn’t kill you?” beak and talons he had practiced for so many
his chest. “If Croster died here, the remains Five-Five asked. hours since his third year. It had been easy
have been consumed, and if he lived...he had enough to tear plates of chitin away and rip
enough of a head start to vanish again. I don’t “You can’t kill me...not until Croster’s dead. at the muscle and flesh beneath. The Evil had
think we can track him through Coalsmoke, And I know a woman.” died hard, biting and swiping at him, and some

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
Memory Wipe, Chapter 15, Memory Rush, Part One, by Sean T. M. Stiennon Pg. 46

of its venom had entered his blood before it off. When they did, he would follow them Sean T. M. Stiennon
perished at last. wherever they went, and see what sort of man Sean is an author of fantasy and science fic-
Count Tong was. tion novels and short stories, with many pub-
A fever had come upon Lashiir, deep in
the mines. For hours he thought he had at lications under his belt. His first short story
last gone into Darkness’ dreamless embrace. collection, Six with Flinteye, was recently
But there had been nightmares. In his fevered released from Silver Lake Publishing, and he
brain he remembered his expulsion from the won 2nd place in both the 2004 SFReader.
Dark Sphere. His exile. His shame. com Short Story Contest and the Storn Cook
Razor-Edged Fiction Contest with his stories
When he awoke, the poison having finally END, PART ONE “Asp” and “The Sultan’s Well,” respective-
left him, he realized that he had failed again. ly. “The Sultan’s Well” has been published
Thomas and Heziah dead. Croster, the Lith- in the anthology Sages and Swords. Sean’s
rallian, and the Rover still alive...or perhaps short story “Flinteye’s Duel” was published
Memory Wipe will take a two month hiatus in Ray Gun Revival, Issue 01.
the Evils had devoured them. Still, it had not and return in December, 2007. Tune in then!
been his hand which took their lives. He had
failed again. Cold hate had flooded him as he Sean’s work tends to contain lots of action and
climbed up from the pit, searching for and adventure, but he often includes elements of
finding Tsiika. The darkness had been broken tragedy and loss alongside roaring bat-
only by white beams from still-activated lights. tles. A lot of his work centers around con-
Not perfect darkness, but nearly enough for tinuing characters, the most prominent
him to contemplate its beauty. of whom is Jalazar Flinteye (Six with Flin-
teye). He also writes tales of Shabak of
He had seen the two men arrive in a ship Talon Point (“Death Marks,” in issue #9 of
which would have cost the lives of a hundred Amazing Journeys Magazine), Blademas-
ordinary humans. He had followed them ter (“Asp,” 2nd place winner in the 2004
through the mines, watching what they did, SFReader.com Contest), and others who
pondering whether he should kill them. Croster have yet to see publication.
seemed beyond his reach, and Tsiika thirsted.
Sean loves to read fantasy and science fic-
But, in the end, Lashiir had decided it tion alongside some history, mysteries, and
would be better to wait until they left... historical novels. His favorites in-
then follow them to their master. Lashiir had clude Declare by Tim Powers,
despised Nathaniel Clane, but he had hired out the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
his skills for a reason. Alone, his killing would trilogy by Tad Williams, Stephen Lawhead’s
have no purpose, no savor. With a master, with Song of Albion trilogy, and King Solomon’s
another’s dark purpose to fulfill, the killing Mines by H. Rider Haggard. He has reviewed
had meaning. The names written in his book books for Deep Magic: The E-zine of High
brought him some honor. Fantasy and Science Fiction, and currently
He still had Despair. He sat in its command reviews books at SFReader.com.
throne now, waiting for the two men to lift

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007
 Pg. 47
The RGR Time Capsule
September 1 - September 14, 2007
Sci-Fi news from the Ray Gun Revival forums
RGR Date: September 01, 2007 * Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola RGR Date: September 07, 2007
2007 Hugo Award Winners The Flight of the Conchords
http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1402 * Best Semiprozine: Locus ed. by Charles N. http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1429
Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong and Liza Groen This New Zealand comedy duo, The Flight of
The results of the 2007 Hugo Awards, as an- Trombi
nounced at Nippon 2007, the 65th World Sci- the Conchords, are a comedy group pretend-
ence Fiction Convention, in Yokohama, Japan, * Best Fanzine: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly ed. ing to be a folk duo, pretending to make
on September 1st 2007, are as follows: by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan, and Randy music, which is all genuinely sidesplittingly
Byers funny. They seem to be channeling Jonathan
* Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge Coulton with their quirky song “The Humans
[Tor, 2006] * Best Fan Writer: Dave Langford Are Dead.”
* Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert * Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu Shout-out to Overlord FireflyFellow for this
Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006] particular earwig.
The winner of the John W. Campbell Award
* Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell RGR Date: September 04, 2007
McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006] Magazines and administered on their behalf Ewan McGregor’s least favorite role: Star Wars
by the World Science Fiction Society, is: http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=1408
* Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by
Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006] * Naomi Novik Of all the films in which he’s acted, ‘young
Obi-Wan’s’ least favorites are the Star Wars
* Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tip- films:
tree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by
Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006] http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/a74923/
ewan-mcgregor-regrets-star-wars.html
* Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guiller- I seem to remember reading that Liam
mo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro Neeson nearly gave up acting after SW: EP
[Picturehouse] 1 - it wouldn’t shock me to learn that Ewan
felt the same way. However, to his credit, he
* Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: did see the series through, so I suppose that’s
Doctor Who - “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) something.
Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros
Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1] I’ll always think of EP 1 - 3 as missed oppor-
tunity. It appears I’m not alone in that.
* Best Editor, Long Form: Patrick Nielsen
Hayden
* Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 30, September 15, 2007

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