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Issue 31 October 01, 2007

 Pg. 2
Ray Gun Revival
Table of Contents
Overlords (Founders / Editors):
Johne Cook, L. S. King, Paul Christian Glenn 2 Table of Contents
3 Overlords’ Lair
Venerable Staff:
A.M. Stickel - Managing Copyeditor 6 The Mouse That Ate Civilization
Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening by Steve Poling
ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee
Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand
12 The Golem, Part Two
L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse, by Robert Mancebo
webmistress 20 Featured Artist: Jeff Michelmann
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle 24 The Pasadena Rule, Part Two of Six
by Ben Schumacher
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors):
30 There Interview
Scott M. Sandridge by L. S. King
John M. Whalen
David Wilhelms 34 Deuces Wild Chapter 16
Shari L. Armstrong Strange Bedfellows, Part Three
Jack Willard
by L. S. King
Serial Authors:
Sean T. M. Stiennon
41 The RGR Time Capsule
John M. Whalen September 15 - September 30, 2007
Ben Schumacher
Lee S. King
Paul Christian Glenn
Johne Cook

Cover Art: “Starlit Night” by Jeff Michelmann

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Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007 
Pg. 3

Overlords’ Lair

R ay Gun Revival magazine wasn’t created
in a vacuum. Each of the founding
members came to the endeavor with different
Our target audience skews a little older.
However, we try not to flaunt our freedom,
and for the most part, our publication is also
employ. It doesn’t mean that the author
endorses the speech or behavior of a
character when it occurs, simply that the
expectations, different hopes. I knew Paul something that can be enjoyed by an entire character in question uses that mode of
from his work as an indie film director and family. speech. By the same token, it does not mean
member of various music lists that we both that RGR endorses such things, either.
frequented. I met Lee at the legendary Deep In this issue, we ran into something that I
Magic e-zine. And, of course, there was the frankly expected to encounter into far earlier We do, however, endorse good writing, and
common fascination with Firefly. in our run, when language strays over the line, Ben Schumacher’s work is good writing of a
and how to juggle author’s works as-written sort we don’t often see at RGR. His is the
Deep Magic was published monthly for versus editorial preference. Keeping our closest thing we’ve gotten to harder sci-
four years, and was the publication that target audience in mind is a tricky balancing fi, but the characters are so accessible and
introduced many of us to each other. DM’s act, but we’ve had a pretty good run thus far, the situation so taut that we jumped at the
tagline was ‘Safe Places For Minds To and I trust you’ll agree that we’ve arrived chance to feature his work. In this issue, a
Wander’. We respected the quality of their at our decision this issue as a result of couple of the characters use language that
product while making a deliberate decision appropriate discussion and consensus. may be offensive to people of the Judeo-
to consistently publish works that an entire Christian faith. As language, it is nothing
family could enjoy. The ongoing serial work, “The Pasasdena that many of us don’t hear commonly or
Rule” by Ben Schumacher, is a frank and frequently, and yet perhaps we wish that
As we set the foundation for what RGR would thrilling look at life out in the wildly exciting we never did have to hear or read it, and we
look like, and how we would operate, we and starkly unforgiving vacuum of space. The respect that as Editors.
very much went to school on the DM model, author, a physics professor, does an artful
especially with an eye toward the overall and compelling job painting the realities of In fact, one of our number raised an
quality of the publication. We have adopted life in an unforgiving environment, and he immediate concern, the sort of concern that
the same model of producing a regular .pdf also gives us a wide spectrum of characters, was at least latent in the other two. That
zine with stellar cover art, going so far as to including those who speak in the colorful sort of language crossed a line for them,
build on their actual cover artist boilerplate. fashion that one might experience in such an and that left the collective Overlords with
However, we diverge a little in areas that environment. a challenge. We assembled the three of us
play to our strengths: we publish biweekly and addressed the issue between us. Two of
instead of monthly, we focus on space opera At Ray Gun Revival magazine, we take salty us were of an opinion that the language of a
instead of fantasy, and we’re a little more language on a case-by-case basis. It appears character doesn’t necessarily reflect on the
daring than DM. sometimes in our own works out of a sense author, and certainly doesn’t represent us
of being true to the various characters we

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Overlords' Lair Pg. 4

as a publication. We were inclined to allow that they may not have bargained for. At mutually exclusive passions. If there is any
the original language of the author under the same time, we don’t want to miss out quality at all to RGR, it is because I believe
advisement, and the remaining Overlord on the opportunity to publish what is a in aiming for the highest quality publication
went with the consensus of the group. genuinely fine story of scientific discovery, that we can. I won’t discuss my personal
wonder, tragedy, the fellowship of a tightly faith any more in this editorial space, but
Without making a big theological discussion knit group, problem-solving under duress, if you’re interested in catching up with me
out of this, I want to convey two things: we sacrifice, and love. in the forums or offline, my virtual door is
aren’t passing judgment on the material in open.
question (other than to observe that it is a So what does it mean, exactly, to take
really good piece of sci-fi writing overall), God’s name in vain? RGR co-founder Paul Corporately, it means that RGR remains
and we are trying to be cognizant that such Glenn forwarded a website that was very committed to our target audience. Our
language may be off-putting to some. illuminating on the issue of what it does— target audience skews a little older and
and doesn’t—mean to “take God’s name in more mature / world-wise than DM, our
In my reading and thinking, I’ve split the hairs vain.” mentor ‘zine, we are willing to accept
in this way: I’m defining profanity here as “a language that is a little more mature than
secular indifference to religion or religious I believe that ‘taking God’s name in vain’ they were comfortable with in the desire to
figures.” However, there is a stronger, darker doesn’t mean what most people probably tell good, smart stories without censoring
use of language—“Blasphemy is a more thinks it does, ‘to use the name of God in an our authors.
offensive attack on religion and religious irreverent manner’. However, I do believe
figures.” ‘bearing the name of God’ means that So far, we’ve handled this on a case-by-case
everything a person of God does or says basis, and allowed the story ratings system
For the purpose of general policy, we’re reflects back on Him. to stand in where families reading to kids
going to attack the issue this way—we’ll might want that visibility.
allow a little profanity at RGR on a case-by- What does that mean for RGR? Two things,
base basis if it strengthens the characters one personal, and one corporate. We believe publishing “The Pasadena Rule”
or the story, but draw the line at full-on is a triumph of reason and consensus, and
blasphemy. If that’s the kind of story you’ve Personally, as a result of researching this I very much hope that you’ll give it a shot.
got, there are plenty of other places where question, I’m going to take this opportunity It’s a smart, compelling story, and we’re
it will receive more traction. At RGR, we to make something very clear: Hi. I’m Johne. excited to publish chapters three and four
believe there are enough other fish in the (Hi, Johne.) I am a believer in Jesus Christ, in this issue. You’re not going to believe the
sea, and that’s where our focus is. and believe my purpose in life is to glorify improbable but scientifically plausible idea
the God of the Bible through the holy Spirit that Jack comes up with to try to rescue
As a result, we’re going ahead with our of God. I’m not shy about that, it is who I Katya. The very idea is so desperate, so bold,
plan to publish the story as-written, with am. that I was cheering—when my heart wasn’t
the caveat to warn people sensitive to in my throat. You won’t want to miss it.
religiously-charged language that there are But I’ve been that guy from the beginning,
three or so instances of speech that may and if you didn’t know that, it is because Johne Cook
be offensive in one particular story. We the purpose of this magazine to proselytize Breezeway, WI
don’t want to cause our readers distress one thing—space opera. I love God, and I October 1st, 2007
by not giving them visibility to something love science fiction. I do not see these as

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Overlords' Lair Pg. 5

The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve “You want us to hold it? Hold it against the Deuces Wild: “Strange Bedfellows, Part
Poling whole army of them?” Kyle demanded. Three” by L. S. King
In all our feverish nightmares about how “How can we—” The figure pushed the As if infiltrating an enemy mob, avoiding a
the coming singularity will bring down our group of them roughly through the door shadowy assassin, and being ordered to
civilization, we never figured that a simple and closed it behind him. kill his best friend aren’t enough, Tristan
kitchen appliance would be the first domino to now attracts the attention of a dangerously
fall. But in the age of internet appliances and Then the armored figure drew its sword and beautiful woman.
ubiquitous connectivity, it’s not as outlandish turned to face the oncoming horde alone.
Tristan let go and paced, not only to give
as you might think. “He can’t!” Lyra whispered in horror. “He’ll the impression he was talking out his plan
NSA wanted to find needles, subversive be killed!” of attack, but to distance himself from her.
messages from terrorists, in a haystack of “Killing my former passenger isn’t enough.
“He’s not alive,” Kyle told her. Ewan Campbell must die too, and a few
the message traffic on the net. Campus
housing provided a lot of realistic data “He’s not—what do you mean?” other key players. McCarty learned a few
for us to use for modeling that haystack. tricks in his time with me, and I have no
Nobody asked, and we didn’t tell. We The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher doubt he’ll be teaching them to the rest.”
weren’t supposed to be able to associate Chapters 1 and 2 introduced us to Jack and “So, what are you planning?”
anybody’s name with the data for privacy Katya, the couple in space separated by an
reasons, but I knew Jack’s IP address. accident and the unforgiving realities of an “I’m trying to plot where this...resistance
apparently impossible situation. might be attacking next. With a good strike
I ran a filter to get Jack’s data and saw a force, we might be able to take out all the
ton of traffic flooding his network and saw Chapters 3 and 4 ratchets up the tension and leaders in one fell swoop.”
something that bothered me a lot. the story really takes off. As I mentioned in the
Editorial, there is a little profane language, but “I already have a team working on that.”
I called my boss. “Maurice, I’d like you to Betts’ calculating gaze told Tristan she
look at a spike of network traffic that’s just a little, and given the circumstances, well,
I can understand where some go there in the wasn’t totally buying his story. “Perhaps
hammering several major corporate DRM you could join them.”
servers.” heat of the moment.
Oh, I still think this is the best golden age sci-fi He lifted his eyebrows and smiled.
story you’ve read in ages! “Perfect.”
The Golem, Part Two by Robert Mancebo
In the midst of a brutal alien infestation, a There is an unwritten, almost unspoken
mysterious defender silently teaches a group code among those who travel in space, a
of survivors what it is to be a hero. code about catastrophe and how to face it.
The code does not have a name, but if it did,
The armored figure made a pushing motion it might be called the Pasadena Rule.
and pointed a finger at them all.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 6

The Mouse That Ate Civilization
by Steve Poling

“T ell me about the end of the world,
“No, it wasn’t a virus like SDA, more like
“I know, but after my toaster quit, my
cable modem started flashing funny. I couldn’t
check my email until I unplugged the toaster. It
The old man chuckled. “The world didn’t NSA. Hush, or I won’t tell you how the world worked, but it was really slow.” While he spoke,
end. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.” ended.” I checked my email. Nothing but a few dozen
spam messages had arrived overnight.
“Come on. You know what I mean.” “OK, Grampa.”
“You’re saying your toaster took down your
“Are you sure you want to hear it again?” # home network?” I asked.
The old man poked the fire with a stick.
The Network Lab at ESU was a pretty good “Yeah, it all started when my kid’s toast got
gig. After my dot-com went belly-up, I had gone stuck.” Jack paused. I expected him to say he’d
“OK, long ago when I was a young man and back to college. I figured I’d get a Masters’ or done something stupid. “I tried fishing it out
dinosaurs ruled the earth...” something while waiting for the economy to with a butter knife. It sparked some, but I got
pick up, but I never got around to leaving. the toast out without electrocuting myself. I
”You’re not that old, Grampa.” used a dry dishrag to hold the knife.” I almost
I worked in a ten story glass-and-steel box choked on my coffee when he mentioned the
“Well, these dinosaurs weren’t lizards. They full of computer labs and faculty offices. Lowly butter knife. “Then the next slice of toast came
were monopolies.” grad students like me worked in Dilbert cubes. out funny.”
Happily, mine was close enough to a window
“What’s a monopoly?” It took me a few seconds to stop laughing.
that I could see outside. When the weather
“Something big, slow, and predatory.” The was nice, the tank tops came out. “How is toast funny?” I said in a deadpan
old man’s eyes were drawn to the palisade wall voice. “The bread goes in white and comes out
It was that kind of morning. Walking across
where the child’s older brother walked guard brown. It was bread you were toasting, wasn’t
campus on my way to work, I had to duck the
duty. it?”
Frisbees. I had just settled down at my desk
“Tell me how the world ended.” and taken a sip of Starbucks when it all started “Well, this toaster doesn’t just toast the
with a phone call. bread.” Jack sounded sheepish. I figured he
“Quit interrupting me. I had survived the
“Hey, Kevin, my toaster quit working.” It didn’t like the idea of admitting he’d bought
was Jack, one of the younger faculty members something frivolous. “It prints the outlines of
“Was there an atomic war?” in the English department. cartoon characters in darker brown. Then my
kids use jelly from squeeze tubes to color them
“No. But there was a virus.” “Why are you telling me?” I logged onto my in.”
computer. It took a bit longer than usual. “I’m a
“A global epidemic, like AIDS, SARS, or network engineer, not an electrician.” I rolled my eyes. “What was acting funny?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 7

“The next piece of toast came out with their questions. that up into smaller parts and put each part
big block letters ‘FBI’ on it. Then the network inside a packet.”
activity light went on solid.” Jack’s problem puzzled me. His apartment
was on campus and I could call up a log of his The child nodded without a trace of under-
“And you noticed your network was network traffic. We didn’t tell anybody about standing
down?” this. The Network Lab had a big contract with
NSA through a think-tank in Princeton. All of it “A packet is like an envelope holds a
“Yeah. Why would my toaster take down was hush-hush. letter.”
my network?”
NSA wanted to find needles, subversive “But…”
“Your toaster downloads the images it messages from terrorists, in a haystack of the
prints on the toast. Then it pays a licensing fee “Just write down the words you don’t
message traffic on the net. Campus housing
to the copyright holder,” I said. understand, and I’ll explain them to you one
provided a lot of realistic data for us to use for at a time later. Now quit interrupting me or I’ll
modeling that haystack. Nobody asked, and
“So that’s why my credit card bills have been give you a Math lesson now. Would you like to
we didn’t tell. We weren’t supposed to be able
so high. But what’s wrong with my network?” know what a binary number is?”
to associate anybody’s name with the data for
“I don’t know. Maybe you fried the toaster’s privacy reasons, but I knew Jack’s IP address. “No, I’ll write down ‘binary number.’”
Plutonium chip. We’d have to put the toaster I ran a filter to get Jack’s data, saw a ton of “Good.”
on a test bench to know for sure.” That was a traffic flooding his network, and saw something
hassle I didn’t want. that bothered me a lot. #
“There’s plutonium in my toaster? Does the I called my boss. “Maurice, I’d like you to look
CIA know? Isn’t the radiation dangerous?” Maurice showed up wearing a Hawaiian
at a spike of network traffic that’s hammering
several major corporate DRM servers.” shirt, munching on a glazed cruller and slurping
“It’s not that kind of plutonium. The his trademark caramel-hazelnut double-latte.
Plutonium chip is a cluster of circuitry that
# As he leaned over my computer to see what
is incorporated into every CPU.” I paused, was wrong, he dropped bits of glaze onto my
realizing that Jack didn’t know that all his keyboard, but he was careful to hold his coffee
appliances had built-in processors and they “Grampa, what’s a DRM server?” mug out of the way. I wished he would be
talked to each other on the Internet or even
“DRM stands for Digital Rule by Monopo- as careful about the sugar as the coffee. He
knew what a CPU was. The task of explaining it
lies. It was part of the Honorable Computing figured a sticky keyboard wasn’t a problem,
all seemed daunting. “Hey, I’d like to help you
Law. It reflected the honor of politicians who but a shorted-out one was.
out some more, but I got to get back to work.”
passed the laws.” His coffee mug showed a stylized face
“Well, thanks, Kevin. Let me know if you
“I don’t understand the words like packets of Che Guevara with two large black circles
find out anything.”
and stuff.” behind the head where, in a corporate logo,
“If I can.” circular mouse ears might go. One of Maurice’s
The old man poked the fire, taking his time affectations was to rail against what he called
I liked working in the Network Lab because to think of the simplest explanation. “When communist and corporatist tyrannies. I tuned
it had fun toys and it provided an opportunity computers talked to one another, they used out when he talked politics.
to earn favors from faculty members answering long strings of binary numbers, then they split

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The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 8

He whistled when he saw the packet traffic. warding evidence for subsequent prosecution. Maurice spoke into the darkness. “When
“Will you look at that? Mickey is totally slash- That’s all stuffed into this little packet here.” did your friend call?”
dotted. This looks like the Mother of All Dis-
tributed Denial Of Service attacks.” “But that IP address isn’t Jack’s toaster.” “About ninety minutes ago.”

“No, it’s a toaster.” “Follow me. This is important. The toaster Maurice nodded.
thought someone was stealing copyrighted
“I’ve never heard of a toaster attack. What’s material so it started broadcasting to every- After a half-hour’s search, we found the
that? A new Microsoft worm?” where on the net. But...” Maurice paused for generator and started manhandling it back to
emphasis. “…the rebroadcast packets say the the lab. We got as far as the stairwell when an
“No. A toaster toaster. A post-doc in the forwarding machine is in violation, too.” intense white beam of light blinded me.
English department stuck a knife in his toaster
and started all this.” I pointed to a log of I scratched my head. “The Plutonium chip “Who’s there?” Maurice asked.
network traffic on my screen. “It stopped when is wired to prevent IP spoofing. It eventually “Special Agent J. Gordon Kirby, Homeland
he unplugged his toaster.” shuts down any machine that it thinks is com- Security Division, FBI. Are you Maurice LeFleur
“No it didn’t. Let me drive.” and Kevin Michaels?”
“Exactly, and how long does it generally
I slid over and let Maurice use my computer. “Guilty as charged, Special Agent Kirby.”
take a Plutonium chip to come to this conclu-
He scooted his chair into my spot and started Maurice said. I thought he was altogether too
mousing around. casual. It wasn’t as if we ran into government
“About two hours.” agents every day.
“Holy Guacamole. The chain-reaction is
really propagating. Look, here.” Maurice poked Then the lights went out. “I’m from the government and I’m here to
a fat finger at a line of output near the bottom. help. I was told you’d be down here. We have
“This is the same packet, but its IP address is “Looks like the power grid computers are what looks like a national emergency. Haul
different. This came from another appliance infected.” Maurice thrummed his fingers on that generator back up to the Network Lab.”
in the same townhouse. I’ll bet everybody’s the desk. “Your computer’s down. It looks like Inspector Kirby was a tall blonde man with a
fridge is on the fritz, too.” the chip regulating your UPS is infected, too.” flattop haircut. His six-foot, three-inch frame
didn’t carry an ounce of fat. He looked like he
Maurice was a keyboard Paganini. It “What now?” I asked. lifted weights and ran three miles each morning
clattered under the impact of his fingers. He before breakfast. Later, I found out that he did.
“There’s a generator in the basement. The
had designed the packet-filtering software and Kirby turned on his heel and marched up the
University bought it ten years ago—just before
knew how to make it do almost anything. After stairway ahead of us.
Congress passed the Honorable Computing
five minutes he leaned back. Act.” I muttered something about his lending us
“Dig this.” His finger hovered over another his MagLite, but he didn’t hear.
We fumbled our way down five flights of
line of output. stairs in the dim light of Maurice’s keychain The five flights back up to the Network Lab
“Those outgoing packets?” flashlight. The basement wasn’t musty damp were a lot harder carrying a generator with
like my parents’ basement. The air was dry and another geek sharing the load. Maurice was
“Yeah, the Plutonium chip notifies the FBI stale like a computer museum. A thin patina of ten years older and further out of shape than
when someone subverts its DRM circuitry, for- dust covered everything. I was. After three flights, we sat down on the

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The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 9

stairs to catch our breath. one with the beer gut can take my flashlight died, and students milled about. A party-like
and I’ll carry half the load.” atmosphere had settled on campus.
“FBI has gotten involved in less than two
hours. The fit must have hit the shan. I wonder We both reached for it. I had seen a white-painted maintenance
if there’s any news?” I asked, being the first to shed three buildings away, but I had never
catch my breath. “Not you.” Agent Kirby handed the flash- stopped in there before. It was one of those
light to Maurice. semi-circular roofed Quonset huts left over
“This is too big. We won’t be able to get from World War Two. We found an old guy
any news off the web with all the Plutonium Kirby hefted his end of the generator and sitting in a sun-washed doorway of the shed. He
chips imploding.” Maurice rubbed the bald started marching up the stairs. I struggled to started to hassle us about university property.
spot on the top of his head. His attitude had keep up with my half of the load. It was a little Kirby flashed his badge, blustered, pointed out
changed as we climbed the stairs. He’d gotten easier with Maurice holding the beam steady the billions that Homeland Security paid the
quieter and quieter. I figured he was just out on the steps as we climbed. university, and generally browbeat the old guy
of breath. into silence.
At the fifth floor we went into the Network
“I don’t understand how the power grid Lab. Maurice stopped. “I’ve got to get As we walked back with a gas can, some oil
could be taken down by a DRM issue. They something. I’ll be back real soon now.” and a thick exhaust hose Agent Kirby said, “The
don’t have any copyrighted material on their FBI computer experts are trapped in Washing-
I grew irritated wondering what Maurice
switching computers.” ton. The last I heard they told me to get over
might think more important than the problem
at hand. Kirby and I set up the generator next here and find out what I can. You’re a geek.
Maurice shrugged. “That doesn’t matter.
to a window that didn’t open more than six What’s going on?”
They’re interconnected and they’ve all got a
Plutonium chip in the center of their little silicon inches. I shrugged. “All the computers have quit
brains. That deadly packet your friend’s toaster working, particularly the ones you don’t
“That window doesn’t open,” Kirby said.
sent has gotten to them and they’re shutting notice—like Jack’s toaster.”
down so they won’t violate any copyright laws. “And generator fumes won’t be good.” I
The effect will spread exponentially.” wondered how long it would take him to notice Agent Kirby raised an eyebrow. I told him
we were both stating the obvious. about the toaster and how computers talk to
I noticed a flickering light above me. I each other. He nodded. And I reminded him
paused, watching it define itself into a too- “I’ll get some kind of exhaust hose.” how each computer has a Plutonium chip at its
bright white flashlight beam. heart.
“We’ll need gasoline, too.” I confirmed the
“Why are you guys sitting around?” Agent generator’s gas tank was empty. “And a quart “The Honorable Computing Act was
Kirby asked. “A national emergency is develop- of oil. Check the groundskeeper for lawnmower designed to keep terrorists from spreading
ing.” stuff.” computer viruses.” Agent Kirby fidgeted with
his holster.
“Our sitting around might have something “I’ll get everything.” Kirby marched off.
to do with the weight of this generator and the “Yeah, that’s what we were all told. The
fact that we’re catching our breath,” Maurice “You don’t know where to look.” I chased Plutonium chip determines which programs can
said. after him, puffing hard and trying to keep up. run or not. It stops any program that’s not cryp-
tographically signed so that some guy in a cave
Kirby paused for a second. “All right, the Classes had dismissed after the power in Afghanistan won’t corrupt our computers’

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The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 10

precious bodily fluids. But 90% of the circuitry Things Work, you’ll be welcome to stay. Guns senses a copyright violation?” He posed the
is designed to enforce copyrights.” and ammo will be useful, too.” question as if administering an Oral Exam.
“So, something in this toaster spread to It took a moment for what he said to sink “When the Plutonium chip senses a
other computers, who in turn think they’re in. I was afraid he’d completely lost it. Maurice copyright violation, it sends two sorts of infor-
violating copyrights, and are shutting down. had always seemed to be wound a little too mation: First, it sends the copyrighted material
How can that be?” Agent Kirby asked. tight about some things like the NRA—a con- with the computer’s serial number. Second,
tradiction in a contradiction-filled guy. He it sends an accusation that the violation has
“I don’t know. Ask Maurice.” carried around his Che Guevara coffee mug, occurred. After that it waits for a go-ahead
but I expected gun nuts to dislike communist from a certified DRM server.”
We walked the rest of the way to the revolutionaries.
Network Lab in silence. We looked around but “Correct. That’s the spec.” Maurice closed
couldn’t find any sign of Maurice. “I don’t get it with you, Maurice. You should his eyes and nodded before asking his next
be trying to fix this. But you’re bailing?” question. “How is this data serialized?”
“I’ll go look for him,” I said. “Can you set up
the generator?” He gathered himself before answering. I sighed. “The evidence and accusation are
“Kevin, my dissertation was in emergent partitioned into packets and trans—”
“Sure. Tell him I want my flashlight back.” phenomena. This is definitely an emergent
phenomenon. I understand now what we “Stop right there.” Maurice spoke quickly.
I went up the two floors to Maurice’s
saw in the lab. That toaster sent out just one “How many packets?”
office. It was even messier than the last time
I’d seen it. I found him pulling batteries out of packet.” I scratched my head at the question. It
all his gear and stuffing them into a bulging didn’t make much sense. “I don’t know. Dozens.
“No, it sent out thousands.”
backpack. Hundreds. It depends upon how much data is
“I mean that it sent thousands of duplicate being pirated.”
He looked wild-eyed. This was not a good copies of just one packet—one unique
time for my boss to wig out. “What if only one packet was sent?”
pattern of bits. It broadcast this packet to
“What are you doing?” I yelled at him. I every computer within reach. Each of those “The copyrighted material wouldn’t be
shouldn’t have lost my temper. This outage computers proceeded to forward copies to deleted. But that can’t happen.”
was growing more and more serious by the every computer it could. After 90 minutes,
millisecond. all the computers in the entire network were “That did happen. Everybody assumed the
wedged and the network was flooded with evidence and accusation are sent in separate
He shook his head and looked down. Closing nothing but copies of this one poison packet.” packets. All the testing was predicated upon
his eyes he took deep breaths and bobbed his the assumption of multiple packets. But we saw
head a couple times. I’d seen him perform this “That’s what we saw. Maurice, we have to only one packet coming from that toaster.”
little ritual whenever he was stressed. “My figure out why.”
uncle’s got a country place, that no one knows “How can both evidence and accusation
“I can tell you why.” Talking steadied Maurice
about. It’s up in the mountains. Things are fit in just one packet? Evidence consumes
a little. He was used to giving technical pre-
going to be hairy for a while. Maybe forever.” megabytes or gigabytes. No way would it fit in
sentations. Explanations were a big part of his
He paused, grabbed a listing and turned a page a single packet.” I shook my head. “The packets
job—something familiar that he could handle.
over and started drawing on it. “These are the are too small.”
“OK. What happens when the Plutonium chip
directions. If you bring books, like The Way

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Mouse That Ate Civilization by Steve Poling Pg. 11

“Everyone in the DRM Task Force thought
the same. Suppose the evidence represents
hours of infection.” Steve Poling
just three black circles.” Maurice grabbed his Maurice hefted his pack over his shoulder,
coffee cup and obscured Che Guevara’s face scanned the office one last time and said, Steve Poling was born, raised, and lives
with four fingers held together. “Imagine a “Don’t lose that map. If I’m right you’ll need in West Michigan with his wife and two
black circle where my hand is with two smaller it.” He paused for emphasis. “And guns—lots
of guns.” kids. He is a C/C++/C# poet by day, with
black circles like this. That is a corporate logo.
Three circles. The data is hardly more than a degrees in Mathematics and Computer
few bytes.” # Science, who writes Subversive Fiction
by night. Steve has an abiding interest in
“That shouldn’t matter.” “What happened next, Grampa?” philosophy and potato cannons.
Maurice nodded. “It shouldn’t but it does. The old man shrugged. “There were riots
The Plutonium chip doesn’t flush packet data and looting. I stuck close to Special Agent See for a
until after processing it. But the accusation Kirby. He had a Glock. At the first gun store we
data in the back half of the packet retains the longer bio.
found he flashed his badge and talked the clerk
data in the front half.” into selling us guns and ammo on government
credit. He taught me how to shoot.”
“Because the evidence and the accusation
fit in a single packet, it sticks around?” “I know. Then you and Elder Kirby joined
Elder Maurice here. Tell me how you rescued
“Right. The Plutonium chip in the receiving grandma.”
machine forwards the original killer packet.
Then it sees undeleted copyrighted material The old man shook his head. “Nope. You’re
and concludes that the machine has been young enough to have nightmares. When you’re
compromised and broadcasts its own packet older you can read Elder Kirby’s report.”
to DRM servers with the receiving machine’s
serial number. Every machine along the way “Grampa, will the computers ever start
gets infected and makes the problem worse.” working again?”
“That explains why the DRM servers were The old man sighed. “After the copyright
hammered.” Then it occurred to me. “With the expires.”
serial numbers changing, none of the routers
will filter out the poison packets.” “When’s that?”

“Right. The DRM servers were swamped “A hundred years. Congress isn’t around
by the rampant lawlessness and they melted to extend the time limits.” The old man tossed
down. This invalidated their cryptographic some more licensed merchandise into the
keys. Now they can’t unlock anything.” fire.

“If you’re right, every device with a
Plutonium chip will lock up after about two

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Golem, Part Two, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 12

The Golem
Part Two Mild language
* see the Overlords’ Lair editorial
by Robert Mancebo

“J ust kidding—I was only—” Don stuttered
as he felt the edge of razor sharp steel
touching his throat.
were broken or burned out. The light became
dim, and they all grew tense.
“Oh, of course.” Kyle slapped a hand against
his head. “That’s what the Teflon coating is for.
So the webbing won’t stick.”
The gray figure moved ahead of them with
But the sword only rose above his head a determined tread and would frequently He banged his knuckles against the figure’s
and dropped to tap him sharply upon the stop when they reached areas that might have armored chest and said loudly, “Good idea!”
shoulders, left-right-left. Then the armored been danger points. When it actually became
figure pulled him back to his feet and slipped dangerously dark, he turned on an illuminator “He’s not deaf,” Lyra scolded Kyle.
its own long dagger into Don’s belt. It put Jen’s on the side of his helmet. They followed his But their savior ignored what they had to
hand into Don’s again and turned to lead them shadowy figure through the echoing corridor. say and waved an animated hand for them to
all further down the corridor.
Then he stopped. He pushed out with an follow.
“Don’t look now, but I think you were just armored hand to point to, but not touch the “Do you guys hear something?” Don asked.
knighted.” Somehow Lyra found the strength slim, silver strands of webbing that had been
to laugh as she passed by him. The thought of run across the corridor. The armored figure waved his hand again.
Don having to take care of Jen was so ridicu-
lous she couldn’t help it. “Well, just cut them,” Kyle gave a slash “Maybe,” Kyle turned to look back the way
at them with his spear. The armored figure they’d come. “It’s hard to make out with all
“Naw, you have to be a king to do that,” shoulder-butted him away, but it was too late. the—”
Don argued at her retreating back. “He’s not The spear touched the fibers and stuck.
a king.” Giving up on gestures, the armored figure
“Whoa, take it easy!” Kyle backed away and pushed Kyle’s spear into his hands, and shoved
“We might be the last ones left alive on this left his spear to dangle. him down the corridor. He pushed Lyra along
rock,” Kyle said as he followed. “He can call behind him.
himself Emperor if he wants to. Hell, at this “Well how do we cut through it if every-
point he’s got my vote.” thing sticks to it?” Don asked. “I got it, go!” Don said before he was
pushed or pulled. “I’m right behind you.”
Jen stood wide-eyed looking from Don to The armored figure moved with sudden
the others, not quite knowing what to do. speed. He ripped Kyle’s spear loose and threw They ran down the corridor. Their speed
his full weight against the webbing. increased as they heard the noise of clicking
“Oh, come on,” Don finally said. He took grow closer behind them.
her hand as though she were a child and led “Hey be careful there—” Kyle warned but
her after them. there was no need. The massive figure ripped “Even their small webs must be set up
loose the strands of tangling fiber as though with some sort of alarm so they know when
As they passed through the corridor they they were kite string. they’ve caught something,” Lyra said between
found that more and more of the illuminators breaths.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Golem, Part Two, by Robert Mancebo Pg. 13

“Spiders set up an alarm?” Don scoffed. evidently, and no one maintained their func- “But, it won’t close now,” Jen whined. “We
tioning. The silent suit of moving armor lit their can’t keep them out!”
“Sure,” Lyra insisted. “That’s why they all way, and they could only follow closely or be
came out when Jen ran the car into the web in left in the darkness. The armored figure made a pushing motion
the street.” and pointed a finger at them all.
“I don’t like this,” Kyle called at the armored
“And that’s why he didn’t want me cutting figure’s back. “This is exactly the sort of place “You want us to hold it? Hold it against the
the web in here!” Kyle agreed. “Of course. Sorry those spiders like. We could be heading into whole army of them?” Kyle demanded. “How
about that,” he added in embarrassment. their main nest.” can we—” The figure pushed the group of
them roughly through the door and closed it
“I think they’re catching up,” Don called “He’s not going to answer you,” Lyra told behind him.
from the rear. Jen let out a terrified sob. Her him between panting breaths. “I think we’re at
knees were buckling in terror, and she kept the ‘just run or get left behind’ point here.” Then the armored figure drew its sword
almost falling, but he took a tighter hold on her and turned to face the oncoming horde alone.
hand and dragged her along. They suddenly came to a door. It was a
security door, sheet metal with a wire-core “He can’t!” Lyra whispered in horror. “He’ll
Their protector suddenly stopped and glass window set in the middle. It was also be killed!”
looked back. They were at a cross corridor. locked.
He stood there, unmoving then flipped open “He’s not alive,” Kyle told her.
a plate on his armored arm and pushed in a “We’re trapped,” Kyle barked and instinc- “He’s not—what do you mean?”
sequence on some buttons. He stood still tively turned at bay and raised his spear. Jen
again. said nothing, but was clearly hyperventilating “I mean he’s a golem!” he told her. “You
as she hung desperately onto Don’s big arm. see how he never breathes hard or gets tired?
“What’s he doing?” Jen demanded in a
trembling voice. “Can you get through?” Lyra asked the There’s no one inside that suit!”
armored figure quietly. “A golem?” Don demanded as he pushed
“How would we know,” Kyle snapped back. forward to look through the reinforced glass.
It nodded and began trying passcodes on In the light
“I think they’re almost here!” Don pushed of the figure’s helmet they could
the keypad next to the door. Once, twice, three see a black wave
Jen behind him and raised his spear. flowing through the corridor.
times he tried different sequences. Each one
was refused by the access system. “Not really a golem, I mean, he’s got to be
The armored figure was suddenly moving
again. He turned to the left and began to trot. some sort of a defensive robot. Or maybe it’s
“Umm, guys I don’t think we’re going to operating
have time for that,” Don called back to them. “A golem isona remote control.” Kyle told them.
“You know that this leads away from the fantasy creature. Centuries ago
“I think I see shadows—”
port!” Kyle called out to him, but the silent people used to believe that powerful wizards
gray guardian didn’t answer. The armored figure didn’t wait to hear what could create a figure of stone, mud, or metal
he might’ve seen. He pushed Lyra back out of and magically give it life. They called them
“Isn’t he going to answer?” Jen demanded. the way, raised his right hand and there was a ‘golems.’”
“Isn’t he going to say anything?” sharp echo of a blast. The door latch was ripped “No!” Jen insisted with a shudder. “After the
Even the scattered illuminators all disap- apart and the door swung open. The armored cybernetic rebellion in the twenty-first century,
peared around them. This was an unused area figure pushed them through the open door. all defensive robots were outlawed. They could

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007 
Pg. 14

turn on us at any time! Everyone knows it’s as way out from under the smoking pile and rose They walked for what seemed to be a long
good as the death penalty to give computer- indomitably to its feet. It sheathed its sword time before Kyle became frustrated enough
ized machines weapon capability.” without any show of emotion and tromped to demand out loud, “Does he have any idea
through the crunching mess to the door where where we’re going?”
“Well, somebody did,” Kyle asserted, and they waited.
nodded at the window. The figure stopped and turned back. It
“I told you,” Kyle said. “It’s not human!” opened the protective hatch on its gauntlet
The wave of spiders smashed against the and pressed in a series of buttons.
form outside the door. There was a momentary They opened the door cautiously and
roaring of weapon fire and an oozing channel allowed the metallic figure to enter. It walked Instantly a projected image of a complete
was riven through the horde of hurtling arachnid through the door, took Jen’s spear, and jammed map of the area shone upon the wall. The
bodies. Then the weapon went silent, and the it against the damaged portal to keep any but figure pointed to a spot in the many twisting
black wave pushed forward once again. the most determined group of arachnids from corridors and then followed along an indicated
following. rout to what was clearly the space dock.
The armored figure began to swing his
sword. On and on he battled, and the entire “Are you all right?” Lyra began but it waved “You mean you’ve had a map all this time?”
area was choked with twitching spider bodies her off when she got too close. Kyle snapped. “All this time and you didn’t tell
and the oozing green ichor of their blood. us?”
“What’s the matter?” she asked.
“He’s down!” Lyra shouted as they watched The figure simply turned away and began
morbidly through the window. The scuttling In answer the figure wiped a gauntlet to proceed forward.
wave of crawling black bodies piled onto the across the mess that covered it and held it up
armored figure, burying him alive in a writhing for them to see. “Looks like we just have to have faith,” Lyra
mass eight or ten layers deep. “He’s down!” said and followed him.
“He is kind of gooey.” Kyle said. “We don’t
“Damnit!” Don threw down his spear in want to get too close until he’s hosed off.” Kyle swore, but there was nothing else
frustrated rage. to do. He followed, grumbling obscenities to
The figure pointed at him and nodded. It himself.
“Can’t we do anything?” Kyle asked in an began to walk down the corridor again, not
empty voice. looking back to see if they followed. Their guide became cautious when they
reached a stairwell that went up. He drew his
“Not unless you have about ten thousand “Pretty concerned for our welfare, this sticky sword and walked warily up the concrete
gallons of bug spray in your pocket!” soulless golem of yours.” Lyra said to Kyle as steps.
they followed.
Suddenly, the crawling pile of frantically Lyra began to follow but Don stopped her,
attacking arachnids was ripped apart by a “It’s just programmed to do that,” Kyle saying, “Not too close. Give him some room to
halo of synthetic lightning. Electricity arched assured her. work.”
in lashing bolts, and the entire gruesome “Let’s keep up,” Don suggested. He was At the top of the stairs the figure waved to
pile smoked and shriveled. Scorched spiders pulling Jen by the hand, but she didn’t need them to follow. They climbed in a hurry.
scrabbled and ran shrieking off into the long, much encouragement to follow along. She was
dark corridor. like a frightened child. When they passed through the door, they
A green-splattered, gray form pushed its left the protected world of the corridors and

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007 
Pg. 15

broke out into the wider living spaces of Tannan Kyle picked up one of the heavy canisters The figure pointed for them to look out an
Station once again. But they were right across and his eyes followed after their rescuer. “Four observation window.
the street from the space dock. out of six,” He said to the others as he tossed
the power canister back down with the other “A transport ship!” Don exclaimed. “Oh, yeah,
Their silent guide led them across the street empties. “He’s dropping them to reduce weight. baby! Now we know where we’re headed.”
at a jog and up the rows of decorative steps He’s running out of power.”
that ringed the entrance. Once there, he did The figure pointed at him and made the
something they could not see to the lock, and “What then?” Don asked. gesture of working a steering wheel of a ground
the door opened. transport.
“If he is a machine, he just stops function-
The group pushed inside behind him as ing,” he replied. “If he’s a man, I expect he has “Can I fly it?” Don translated the pantomime.
fast as they could. It was a fearful thing being to get out of that suit before he asphyxiates.” “No way, guy, I only load ‘em.”
out upon the open street where the army of
Jen pulled at Don’s hand to encourage him “I can fly a transport,” Lyra cut in. “And I
arachnids could attack them from any direction
to follow. Her eyes were pleading but she didn’t can program the nav-com to get us to Brighton
and in numbers too massive to count.
say anything. Station or somewhere nearby.”
There was no attack though. They were in
“Yeah, we’re going.” Don jerked his head The armored figure nodded its head and
and the door clicked shut behind them with a
after the armored figure and began to walk. waved for them to follow again. The group
loud ker-chink. All of a sudden, it seemed as moved through the port quickly. The corridors
though they could breathe again. “It was the plasma field it created. That had were long and empty, except for maintenance
They’d come in through a locked side to be what used up all its power,” Kyle said as doors that led off into unknown areas of the
entrance. It was more of an overflow access they walked. “It takes a tremendous amount of complex.
area for times when there were multiple juice to create that much synthetic lightning.” They followed a clear route to the waiting
ships in port. The figure led them through the “Well, those are just standard C-11 power ship. Jen was actually ready to run, but Don
wide empty hallway with confidence. It even cells it’s using. They’ll have more in any of the held her back to let their protector go first.
brought them through a maintenance area ships,” Don told them. “We use them on all the
where it stopped for a few moments to use a power-lifts.” When they arrived at the boarding area,
service shower to wash off the spider blood the figure stopped and turned to face back the
and venom that hadn’t naturally dripped off “That’s right,” Lyra said. “You work here, way they’d come.
its coated armor. don’t you?”
“What’s the golem looking at now?” Kyle
“So, this is it then?” Don asked when the “Well, not here, but over at Dock Three. asked lightheartedly.
figure came out of the shower. “We just get on They’re set up just a little differently, but
a ship and go, right?” they’re close.” “I don’t know,” Don answered. “I don’t
think he really ‘looks’ at anything. I think
The figure didn’t nod it simply pulled two “Well, unless you know wherever he’s taking he’s got some sort of radar or x-ray vision or
power canisters from their sockets at its hips us,” Kyle snapped at them. “I suggest that you something. Watch him for a while. Half the
and dropped them to the ground with an hurry up!” time he doesn’t even turn his head when he
unnaturally loud thunk. It dropped a second reaches for something. He just knows where
pair and then waved a hand for them to follow They trotted to catch up to their guide, but everything is around him.”
and began to walk once again. by the time they’d managed it he’d stopped.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
 Pg. 16

“Well then—” Kyle stopped as the figure Don spun the manual override and pulled us out of here. He never speaks. He hears
raised its hand for silence. It turned toward the hatch open. things halfway across the terminal. He can
them and pointed at the ship, then held up its see through walls. He’s collected forty or sixty
hand with the fingers spread. “Get back!” a voice screamed from inside. people already.
“What?” Kyle demanded. “Do you want us A man appeared in the hatchway with wide “He’s the only reason I’m here. I was
to go in or not?” eyes and a threatening pry bar in his hand. knocked out by the crowd when the news first
hit. People were wild to get off-planet. I tried to
The figure nodded, pointed at Lyra, held up “What are you yelling for, you idiot?” Don help organizing the lines but some stupid Yard
five fingers, and then motioned away with its sagged back against the ship’s hull for a Ape grabbed a lady’s ticket and almost split my
thumb. moment to catch his breath. “You almost gave skull with a suitcase when I tried to stop him.
me a heart attack!”
“You’re going somewhere.” Lyra translated. “It was survival of the fittest in here, I’ll tell
“You want us to leave in five minutes if you’re “Gave you—? I thought that they’d figured you. I’ve never seen anything like it.
not back?” out how to open the door for a moment there!”
The man inside the ship replied with wide, “Anyway, I woke up a couple of hours later
The figure nodded and motioned for them haunted eyes. He was a thin, well-dressed and everyone who could get away was gone.
to go. man with trimmed hair and a maintenance I think maybe the arachnids got inside and
badge displayed on his chest. The badge said cleared out the rest. Anyway, he dragged me
“Here,” Lyra took off the yellow headband ‘Supervisor’ across the top and ‘John’ across in here to wait while he got more people. He
she’d been wearing and tied it around the the bottom. loaded the other ships and sent them off. I’ve
figure’s right arm. “A knight shouldn’t go into just been watching and waiting my turn.”
battle without a lady’s favor.” “Is he with you?” he asked in a half whisper
as he looked past them. “I guess that would be along with us,” Lyra
The figure hesitated and looked as though said.
it would’ve spoken if it was able. “No it went back for something,” Kyle told
him. “Well get in—get in,” the man encouraged
“What’s that for?” Don asked. nervously. “I’m not using my head here. I don’t
“Back for something?” The man gave a short
“For luck,” Lyra replied with a smile. “He bark of scoffing laughter. “Back for someone, even know if the port is still safe.”
understands.” you mean. “Oh, I think it’s okay,” Don said. “It’s a sealed
When they hesitated and tried to pursue building—” he was interrupted by the sound of
“This is the third ship he’s begun filling. I
the conversation it pushed Don roughly toward saw him send off a charter ship and some old a human scream and a flash of yellowish light
the door. from a long way back down the corridor.
trading scow he managed to get off the ground.
I’m glad I wasn’t on that one. I don’t know if it “I really—really don’t like the look of that,”
“Okay, okay, I’m going!” he griped. The will make it.” Kyle said.
figure left at a trot, back the way they had
come. “What do you think’s irking him?” “You mean he’s collecting people to save?” “Lyra—” Don began but she had already
Lyra asked. “People to send off-planet?” pushed past the maintenance supervisor and
“Gone for more power cells somewhere,
maybe,” Kyle said with a shrug. “Let’s get inside was headed for the cockpit.
“Well yeah,” the man assured her. “I think
and get ready to go.” he’s a robot someone programmed to get The rest of them hesitated just inside the

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007 
Pg. 17

hatchway and looked back to see what was The movements of the armored figure were Don ran up behind the armored figure.
coming. slowed. He seemed to swing his sword with “I’ve got him!” He shouted as he approached to
great effort. Even then though, he would not make sure the rescuer knew that he was coming
“It’s good,” Lyra’s voice called over the PA leave the man he was dragging. up behind him. He didn’t know what the golem
system. “She’s a heap, but she’ll travel. Fuel, could or could not see, and he didn’t want to
air, water— everything’s loaded and ready. He dropped the man for a moment, stepped surprise him while he was being attacked.
Engines are already prepped and I’ve got them back, and loosed a blast of flame across the
set to fire upon command.” floor. As the arm swept out the flames stuttered Don grabbed the fallen man’s collar and
and died. It had slowed the oncoming rush but dragged him across the wet floor toward the
“How long has it been since he left?” Don it hadn’t stopped it and obviously his weapon hatchway while the armored figure doggedly
demanded. was empty. swung his sword into the multitude of foes
that he barely held at bay.
“Maybe two minutes,” Kyle replied. He grabbed the man and began to drag him
again. Slowly, step by step, smashing or slicing One time Don had to stab a spider that
“Then in three minutes we go.” any spiders that dared to get too close, he got past their defender, but only once, and he
“You’re not going to leave him?” the main- moved toward the waiting ship. was more than happy to do it. He was tired of
tenance man said with a touch of horror in his running from creatures he felt that he should’ve
“Help him!” Jen pleaded. “Someone help been smashing with his shoe. For some reason,
voice. him!” the arachnids seemed to be focusing nearly
“He said for us to go in five, if he wasn’t “It’s not alive!” Kyle snapped at her. “It’s all their ire upon the armored figure that had
back.” Don replied coldly. balked them so many times that evening.
just a machine!” Maybe they perceived its violent defense as a
“But this is the last ship. There aren’t any “Yeah, well, the guy he’s draggin’ isn’t!” Don more serious threat than the nearly helpless
more in port,” the man argued. snapped. He looked around at the others and prey that was escaping them.
“Those were his orders.” hefted his makeshift spear. “Anyone else going “Get them in!” Jen pleaded with the people
with me to bring him in?” gawking through the door. “Get them in!”
“Look!” Kyle pointed down the corridor.
There was a group of running people. One man No one else volunteered. Other hands assisted Don once he was
fell with a cry of pain and was nearly trampled within arm’s reach. They dragged the injured
“Yeah, whatever!” Don pushed past them
by several others as they ran past him. There man inside, then helped Don in too. Then they
and into the terminal.
were six of them, and they were all wide-eyed sealed the door.
in complete terror. The heat from the defensive wall of flame
set off the building’s fire containment system, “I thought you’d be killed!” Jen sobbed as
The group of people already in the ship and the room was suddenly sprayed with water she hugged Don frantically.
moved aside so that the newcomers could from the ceiling sprinklers. The arachnids
run through the hatchway without slowing. cringed at environmental change. The shock told“Yeah, well, I’m a knight now, y’know,” he
The man they’d left behind was rolling on the gave the retreating figure a few moments a few spiders.”a thin laugh. “I can’t be killed by
her with
ground holding his ankle. An armored hand respite, but the arachnid army got over their
grabbed him by his collar and dragged him surprise almost immediately and renewed “He’s down!” John, the maintenance super-
along. their attack. visor, shouted. He was looking at a wide views-

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
 Pg. 18

creen that was designed to look like a window. to plug those into him?” Kyle asked when Don hefted his spear and looked around. “We’d
“He’s down!” showed up hefting a power cell in each hand. better go. I think the natives may be getting
They all turned to see the black moving “I am,” Lyra said immediately.
lump of spiders that had already covered the “But—” Lyra began but Don cut her off.
armored form. Even as they watched, the wet “And I am,” Don added.
pile of arachnids were lit up by a blinding white “It may take a complete factory re-boot to
“Lyra, You can’t go. You have to pilot this get him started again. I don’t know, and there’s
flash. It was not like the massive lightning ship,” Kyle told her. no time to stand here and find out. We tried,
storm he’d created before, just a momentary
electrical blast that left a scattering of burned okay? We tried.”
“Well then you’d better come along and
spiders twitching all over the corridor. watch my back,” she snarled. “Because I’m The sad group began to walk back toward
going!” the ship, but Lyra turned and rushed back. She
But the armored figure underneath had
ceased moving also. knelt among the crunching arachnid bodies
“So am I,” John chimed in. “I’ve watched and slammed a hand hard upon the armored
“That last burst must’ve drained all of its
him people all day. I’m not going to leave chest.
Not while there may be a chance.”
power,” Kyle said as the figure simply lay there.
“It’s shut down.” “Don’t you die on us!” she screamed at the
“S-so am I,” Jen whispered. She held onto silent form. “Don’t you die! Wake up! Wake up!
Don’s pocket as though reluctant to allow him
“Or he’s dead,” Don said. There are still people who need you to be alive!
to get more than a few steps away from her. People need you to give them hope!” Her fists
“Don!” a voice barked and the group looking beat upon the rigid form without effect. She
Lyra opened the hatch. They stepped out
at the screen turned to find Lyra had left the cautiously, tried to shake the massive figure, but its weight
their crude weapons held ready.
bridge and was standing behind them. “You There were some made her strongest efforts futile.
spiders moving amongst the
said that those were the same power cells that slain and wounded but no black wave rushed
you use in a cargo lifter, right?” “Damn you,” she gasped between sobs, “I
forward to assail them. need you to be alive!”
“Yeah,” the man replied. “Let’s go!” Lyra hurried them. She took one “Lyra,” Don called to her but she ignored
“So won’t this ship have a powered cargo of the heavy power cells from Don and trotted him.
lifter for loading and off-loading?” toward the twitching mound.
“Lyra!” Jen screamed. She looked up at
“In the,” he was already moving when he They used their spears to clear aside the that.
began speaking, “cargo bay!” mass of dead and dying spiders. Those that still
moved they stabbed unmercifully. She was in time to see a half a dozen huge
Don had off-loaded hundreds of ships of black bodies supported by sharp-toed, skeletal
similar configuration and he didn’t need to be Lyra seated her power cell into a plug legs crawling over the pile of their dead
told where to go. As big as a space ship seemed first. Don was only a few moments later. They brethren to attack her.
to be outside, it really wasn’t that big inside. In watched and waited. Nothing happened.
less than two minutes he was back with a pair Lyra jumped back so quickly that she tripped
“He’s—he’s dead,” Jen whispered.
of power cells. and fell onto her back. She rolled and staggered
“Or he was never alive,” Kyle said as he to her feet, but stopped her headlong flight at
“So, who’s going to walk out there and try the incongruous sound of a blade ringing upon

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007 
Pg. 19

the floor of the spaceport. moment, as though awaiting something. The figure motioned for them to enter the
ship. They all went in except for Lyra. She took
When she looked back she saw the “Don’t worry,” Don assured him. “I under- hold of the exposed hand and simply stood
arachnids twitching out the last of their lives, stand.” He glanced at the others, slightly embar- there.
dismembered by a single mighty swipe of the rassed but continued, “It’s not the sword, it’s
slashing sword. in here.” He thumped his chest. “The sword is “What are you doing?” Don asked her.
just a tool you pick up when you need it.” “We’re ready to go.”
The armored figure rose and walked heavily
toward the ship. It slowed long enough to take The figure clapped him on the shoulder “I’ve programmed the ship for take-off and
her gently by the arm as it passed, and lead her with a heavy hand and returned the dagger to the course is plotted. Jen can take you out.
along. its sheath. She’s a trained pilot too. It’s the advantage of
being a Premier Citizen, you know.”
No one spoke until they reached the ship’s “Good luck, then.” Don held out a hand to
entrance, where the armored figure stopped shake. “What?” Kyle demanded. “Why?”
and waved for them to board.
The figure stood there for a long moment “Because I’m staying!” she called back.
“You’re not going with us, are you?” Lyra then, instead of reaching out with his armored “John’s right, there must be more people
asked. “You never planned on going. You were gauntlet, it gave its titanium cuff a quarter turn trapped. They’ll need rescuing too.”
just going to lie there and play dead until we and pulled. The gauntlet came off with a sucking
were gone.” hiss and a human hand was uncovered. The armored figure tried to move her
toward the hatch, but she held onto his hand
The armored figure nodded. The hand was dripping with an oozing, with both of hers. The blank faceplate looked
gelatinous substance that volatilized into down at her in its silent, stolid way.
“There are people in the other cities who steam as it was exposed to the air.
need to be saved too,” John said with a nod of “Oh, come on, hero,” she encouraged the
understanding. “That’s what he’s here for.” Don took the powerful hand in his without silent form. “You know you can use the help.”
hesitation. She banged a hand upon his armored chest.
“I told you,” Kyle said. “It’s just in his pro- “Someone to charge your batteries, ya know?”
gramming. He’s a golem.” “He’s packed in there inside some sort of a
liquid?” Kyle stammered. “No wonder he can’t
“No he’s not,” Lyra corrected. “He’s a hero.” talk!”
“Whatever,” Don said with a shrug. He “I’ve heard about the military using
was obviously uncomfortable with such ide- something like it,” Lyra said. “Gelled atmo-
alistic titles. His own goodbye was simple and sphere. He’s suspended inside the armor like
pragmatic. a baby in a womb. The gel protects him from Robert Mancebo
“Thanks, big guy. You’d better take this back.” impact injuries. It must be like breathing jello.”
He pulled the dagger from his belt and handed I’m a former soldier, locksmith, and
“That’s why he never seems to get out of
it to the armored figure. “I expect you’ll need breath,” Don looked at the warm gel steaming technician. I’ve had dark and historical
it more than I will.” off where he had touched the man’s hand. fantasy published both online and in
The figure took it but didn’t move for a long “That gel must carry a hundred times the various magazines.
oxygen we’re breathing out here.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Featured Artist: Jeff Michelmann Pg. 20

Featured Artist
Jeff Michelmann
My name is Jeff Michelmann. Not very typical for a German
guy with an Indonesian background, is it?
I was born in 6-13-1988, which makes me 19 years old at the
Many people say that they have too many hobbies to name
all of them. But I don’t. My few hobbies are: bicycling,
bowling, playing cards (such as poker, blackjack, or even
Uno), learning about scientific stuff, watching TV, surfing the
internet, drawing and digital painting, and so on... I guess, I
have too many after all....
Favorite Book / Author:
I loved reading the first three books of Harry Potter. I even
read the fourth and the fifth books, too. But I didn’t like them
very much. That is why I have stopped reading Rowling’s
Harry Potter ever since.
Favorite Artist:
Oh, there are many artists that I’m a fan of, it would be too difficult to choose just one favourite artist. Some of them are real
veterans of the branch of celestial art, but many of them are newcomers, too. And many of them have been featured in Ray
Gun Revival magazine.
When did you start creating art?
That’s a question I’m asking myself, too. I am not really sure, when I started creating art. Well, I’ve always loved to draw since I
was a child.
The PC, in combination with Photoshop, gave me a whole new world of opportunities. When I was 16 years old, I started using

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Featured Artist: Jeff Michelmann Pg. 21

Photoshop for the very first time. The first several
months, I only played around with the variety of
features and filters Photoshop had to offer.
And after three months, I found the “Gradient Tool.”
My very first success!
What media do you work in?
I work on the PC most of the time. Half a year ago, I
started to draw again, trying to get out of the rusty trap
of inability.
Where your work has been featured?
My works have been featured two times on the front
page of deviantART, which I am really proud of.
Where should someone go if they wanted to view /
buy some of your works?
I have a full gallery of my works displayed at and my own print shop at
How did you become an artist?
To be honest, I don’t know. I think it was at a time,
when I’ve started to play videogames online. After surfing and browsing through many forums, I have noticed small little
banners, called “signatures,” under everyone’s comment. They’ve inspired me to try to achieve something like that on my
What were your early influences?
The major influence was definitely deviantART in all its glory and variety. I’ve spent the first weeks looking at art and others’
galleries only.
What inspired the art for the cover?
I think it was Taenaron. A great artist.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Featured Artist: Jeff Michelmann Pg. 22

How would you describe your work?
Hmm. That’s a tricky question. I don’t
know. I have too much to say about
my art. I am always trying to capture
a specific and especially calm or
sometimes even striking mood with my
But the question that has been on my
mind for quite a time is, “How would
you describe my work?”
I know, I’m the guy they call “curious.”
Where do you get your inspiration /
what inspires you?
Music and videos, especially anime, are
the things that inspire me the most.
They really motivate me to create some
pictures with certain feelings. That is
why I always need to listen to some
songs or watch some videos while I’m
creating new works.
Have you had any notable failures, and
how has failure affected your work?
I had several notable failures, nobody’s
perfect. But failures are things that shouldn’t push you back. Failures are things that will push you forward. At least that’s my
philosophy, and it has worked so far.
What have been your greatest successes? How has success impacted you / your work?
Oh, well, haha. I said that failures push me forward. I think you can tell now, how successes are influencing me. I get lazy. And
that’s something I really don’t want. But there are times when success motivates you even more. I think one of the works I am
most proud of, is the cover art for this release.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Featured Artist: Jeff Michelmann Pg. 23

What are your favorite tools / equipment for producing your art?
My favourite tools are: a mouse and keyboard, and pencil and eraser; the invincible duos.
What tool / equipment do you wish you had?
I wish I had a better PC. That is all. Seriously. Sometimes it’s really frustrating, when you just sit there and wait until the
computer has finished calculating your steps.
What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
I’ll better warn you right away. This will sound very soppy. I want to give something to others. That is why the majority of
my works are in wallpaper sizes. A piece of work which you can look at for more than just 10 seconds. Let’s just say, I wish to
convey certain feelings and moods with the maximum amount of application.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 24

The Pasadena Rule
Serial Novel: Part Two of Six Brief language *
* see the Overlords’ Lair editorial
by Ben Schumacher
3. had been damaged, or else Katya had simply lander was at the edge of this and sustained
forgotten to plug it in properly. Knowing Katya, damage.
D ieter and Bill were back inside, the probe
reeled in and stowed in its cradle. There
was a pretense of a meal. Max and Madeline
I could imagine other reasons.
Of the second suit, the one worn by Jules
Aphrodite: Where is J. B.?

were taking turns at the communicator panel, Bertillame, there was no sign. Virgil: Jules is dead.
coaxing information in dribbles from the
Everyone expected some sort of verbal Aphrodite: Can you confirm, Virgil? Jules
Aphrodite. Eventually, the satellite feed was
communication almost immediately, but it is dead?
restored and we could monitor everything
ourselves. was twenty-five minutes before anything Virgil: I am sure of this. I saw it happen.
came. Max put it on the speaker at once. He was in the path of the slide, and it swept
Virgil was damaged, no one knew how
Virgil: Aphrodite, this is Virgil. Please him away. I found a piece of his suit cladding. I
badly. The high-gain antenna had been
acknowledge. think the rest of him was buried.
hurt, so all communications were routing
through the low-bandwidth omnidirectional Aphrodite: Understood.
system. This was good enough for telemetry
and voice—or would be, when the on-board It was her voice, businesslike enough, but
computer figured out that it should switch the a little shaky. Bill gave a hoot of relief until
voice circuit over—but the omni channel was We all understood. If the thermal integrity
Madeline’s sharp look shut him up.
too narrow for video. The environment inside of J. B.’s suit had been damaged, he would be
the crew space remained nominal. This last dead in minutes, even if the landslide had not
was the best news, since even a small breach crushed him.
of the lifesystem would quickly make the ship Aphrodite: This is Aphrodite. (The voice
uninhabitable. from orbit was Arkady Rudin, one of the other
lander pilots.) Katya, this is Arkasha speaking. Aphrodite: Virgil, Aphrodite. What is your
The lander airlock was proceeding through We’re glad to hear from you. personal condition?
its long depressurization. There was one
occupant, wearing Katya’s suit, who had linked Virgil: Yes. I am also glad. (Deep breath.) Virgil: I was out of the main path of the
the suit to the umbilicus inside the airlock and The situation here is very bad. slide, in the shelter of an outcropping. My suit
initiated the cycle. The link with the suit was was damaged, but I was able to make it back.
Aphrodite: What is your situation?
strange, though. She was hooked up to the
oxygen system, the electrical power, and the Virgil: There was a ground tremor, followed Aphrodite: What is your physical condition?
heat exchanger, but the data link with the suit’s by substantial slides of material down the slope. We aren’t getting your biomed telemetry.
biomed system appeared to be disconnected. This area is not as stable as we thought. The
The chief theories were that the suit connector Virgil: I’ve disconnected the system.
slide included about one-third of the LZ. The

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 25

Aphrodite: Say again, Virgil? I heard someone whisper, “Sweet Jesus.” I hours. In a week, it would in theory be as hot
had been expecting bad news, but that did not as a star—but sooner than that, its own insula-
Virgil: Don’t make me say everything twice, make it any easier to take. The two steerable tion would burn through and the ship would
Arkasha. I said I’ve disconnected the biomedi- ducted fans, Virgil’s propulsion system in become a holocaust. If you shut down the heat
cal readouts. I am sorry. But don’t worry about the dense lower atmosphere of Venus, were pump, the heat build-up in the cabin would be
me. I am okay. I can function. wedged tight under however many kilograms no less deadly. By sudden fire or by slow suf-
of rock. Without the propellers, Virgil could focation, death would be inexorable.
not even leave the ground, much less reach a
But Katya, I suspected, would not die that
Madeline’s eyebrows went up. “Does that rendezvous seventy kilometers up. way, either.
mean what I think it means?” Katya was trapped. Her lifesystem was
I nodded. “She’s hurt, maybe badly, but she intact for now, but it would not last forever. #
doesn’t want us to know the details. So she’s The only question was when, and how, she
pulled the data line.” would die. I knew the lander inside and out, so There is an unwritten, almost unspoken
I could make a pretty good guess. Unless there code among those who travel in space, a code
“Why would she do that?” Dieter asked, was more damage than we knew, her electrical about catastrophe and how to face it. The code
bewildered. power could last for weeks. Virgil was too small does not have a name, but if it did, it might be
for a full recycling setup, so oxygen supply and called the Pasadena Rule.
Because she doesn’t think it matters, I carbon dioxide removal would fail earlier than
answered silently. that, even with only one occupant. And despite The Pasadena disaster occurred in the
almost perfect shielding, the ferocious heat “good old days” of liquid-fueled chemical rocket
and pressure would eventually have their way, motors, finicky things with high thrust and low
Aphrodite: Understood, Virgil. How do you squeezing the hull until its seams parted and specific impulse, so that a spacecraft had to
read the condition of your craft? then crushing, and roasting, its contents. operate pretty close to its fuel margin. The
Pasadena was a shuttle that made the rounds
Virgil: I can’t tell everything from here. But long before that, I knew, Katya would between low Earth orbit and the lunar surface,
I’m still in the lock, pumping down. The inner be dead from her own waste heat. The two or three days each way. It was returning to
cabin environment reads normal on the panel, foil-thin thermal insulation layer that covered Earth, sliding down the geopotential gradient
so ECS and thermal shielding are holding. I’ve both Virgil and the hotsuits was as efficient at with a complement of light cargo and four
lost the high-bandwidth DCU, so I’ve switched keeping waste heat inside as it was in shielding human beings, two crew and two passengers.
over to the omni. The computers seem to have against the outside conditions. Waste heat About twenty hours out, the Pasadena started
cycled through a soft crash. I can’t find out from machinery and crew was drained by a heat a fifteen-second engine burn designed to trim
about main power or propulsion from here. pump and stored in a special heat sink built up its approach for the aerobraking maneuver;
into the airframe of the craft. The cabin stayed but something went badly wrong and the
Aphrodite: Can you take off? cool, but the heat sink grew hotter by the hour. engine did not shut down on time. It was a
As it did, the heat pump required more and triple failure: a control system glitch, a stuck
Virgil: Nyet. Both of the aerofans are partly more of the ship’s power to keep up, adding its relay, a jammed manual cut-off switch. The
buried in loose rock from the slide. Even if I own increasing contribution to the waste heat engine fired for one hundred and seventy-one
have the power, I cannot start them. Either the budget. It was an exponential process. While seconds, until the fuel tanks were empty.
fans won’t move or the blades will shatter. the ship operated, the heat sink’s absolute
temperature would double every twenty-four It did not take the crew long to discover

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 26

their predicament. No matter what they self-pitying messages to his wives and children you like, you can find your own way out, take
did, they would miss the Earth’s atmosphere back in Teheran. Only the second passenger, an a pill or slice your wrists or vent your cabin.
entirely, swinging in a hyperbolic arc past the engineer named Macallister, seemed to keep Whatever seems easy and quick.
planet and out into deep space. No ship on his cool. “I guess we know what’s coming,”
Earth, in orbit, or on the Moon could possibly he said in his soft Texas drawl, as the Earth #
catch them and rendezvous for a rescue. dwindled behind them. “Meanwhile, we’re
taking this thing one day at a time.” Arkady Rudin was back on the line, talking
First part of the Pasadena Rule: Sometimes
On the fifteenth day after the Pasadena’s Virgil.Katya
with about the obstructed lifting fans on
you’re screwed. Period. I’d missed the first part of the conversa-
fly-by of Earth, after ninety minutes of weeping tion.
Those aboard the ship were as good as dead. and breast-beating from the Iranian astrono-
Still, it might take them a long time actually to mer followed by two hours of psychotic ravings
die. The Pasadena had power from an auxiliary from the co-pilot, Macallister appeared on
array of photovoltaics, and it could scrub CO2 the link. “This has gone on long enough,” he Aphrodite: . . . . wants to know if you can
and recycle water as long as there was power. In said. “We’re all real grateful for what you down go back outside and clear the fans manually.
its cargo was a tank of liquid oxygen extracted there have done for us, but it’s high time we
from lunar rock that could support the crew went off the air. I’m about to disable the comm Virgil: Nyet, Aphrodite. I saw the problems
for years. The only constraint was food, and link. God bless you all. Pasadena out.” There with the fans and tried to unblock them, but
the ship’s food supply, if rationed, might last as was a shout in the background, and then the I couldn’t stay outside long enough. My suit
much a sixty days. Two months to starvation— transmission ended abruptly. The Pasadena suffered some damage in the avalanche. Parts
and in all that time, they would remain in full was never heard from again. of the cladding are . . . compromised. I had to
communication with Earth. get into the airlock.
Ten years later, a microprobe made a fly-by
For two solid weeks, the Pasadena was at of the Pasadena as it pursued its orbit around Aphrodite: Could you make another EVA
the top of every news package. The biogra- the Sun. A blurry infrared image showed the later on?
phies of the crew and passengers. The shocking ship, all systems except the radar transponder
accident. The grim arithmetic that made rescue shut down, the airlock door open wide. Virgil: My suit is damaged.
impossible. Interviews with the doomed men.
From the fire-storm in the newsies after suitAphrodite: Can you make repairs to the
Excerpts from supposedly private conversa- and continue clearing the fans?
tions with the ground. Rumors of a bidding war Macallister pulled the plug, you might have
for the viddie rights. supposed that he had murdered the other Virgil: (Pause.) No.
three for their rations and tossed them naked
At first the four men held up well, but after out into space. But real space-faring people Aphrodite: (Captain Bell’s voice.) Please
a week their morale began to break down. knew better. To them, Macallister was a hero. detail your suit damage, Virgil. We have some
The pilot retreated to his five-cubic-meter They told each other, “It wasn’t doing anybody people up here who may be able to suggest
cabin and refused to use the communication any good, the way it was going. He did the right some temporary repairs.
link, even to talk to his family. The co-pilot thing.”
launched into rambling accounts of paranoid Virgil: It isn’t just the suit. I also am damaged.
fantasies, possibly fueled by drugs from the And that became the second part of the I cannot make another EVA.
ship’s pharmacy stores. One passenger, a radio Pasadena Rule: When you’re screwed, you do
astronomer returning from Farside, sent endless your job and then you sign off. After that, if Aphrodite: (Long pause, then Rudin’s voice
again.) Understood, Virgil. Stand by.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 27

Time passed. The airlock in Virgil lowered 4. Katya had gained her dream, while I had lost
the pressure toward the one-atmosphere level. it.
It seemed like a slow process, but in truth it was Once Katya was inside the cockpit of Virgil,
amazingly fast. A century ago, decompression she managed to send a few still images of the Through the open door I heard a voice from
from ninety atmospheres would have taken exterior of the ship over the low-bandwidth the cockpit. Madeline was talking over the link
days, not hours, or else bubbles would form in data channel. Virgil had been turned and tilted with someone aboard the Aphrodite. I couldn’t
the bloodstream. They called this “the bends”; by the rockslide, and some of the aerodynamic hear the other half of the conversation.
it was excruciating and sometimes fatal. But surfaces showed damage. This was not too
serious. But both of the ducted propellers, “. . . . bearing up well enough, I think,” she was
the life support system in Katya’s backpack was
port and starboard, were blocked by several saying. “He’s catching some sleep.” She waited
linked directly into her bloodstream, so that
hundred kilograms of loose rock. If the fans a while, then said, “What did you expect? God
blood gases were continuously removed by a
were started, they would not move, or else damn it . . . . Yes, we’re standing by. Still here.
the gas exchange unit. Other blood chemistry
they would break. No, nothing like that. Just asleep—I can wake
was also monitored and controlled. The suit him up any time he’s needed. Well, I think he
helped the wearer combat thirst, fatigue, and It was maddening. Katya confirmed that would, don’t you? I wouldn’t want to be the
shock. If needed, a pain killer could be added the propulsion and power systems were one to tell him later if . . . . Damn it, Frank, I
to the stream. I wondered what dosage Katya workable—minor failures only, with sufficient don’t think you can make decisions like that.
was using. backups to cope. Katya dutifully talked these They’re married, for Christ’s sake. Certainly, we
over with the Aphrodite. Yet everyone knew have to respect her wishes. But do you really
that there was only one problem that mattered: think that she . . . . okay, I’ll hold.” The “Frank”
Virgil: Is Jack listening? the rocky debris blocking the propellers, just a told me that she was talking to Captain Bell,
few meters away from where Katya sat, but as the mission commander, and it did not take
Aphrodite: I’m sure he is. We are passing unreachable as the surface of the Sun. a genius to guess the subject of their discus-
our signal down to platform Gamma in real sion. A minute or two later, and Madeline said,
time. Would you like to talk with him? # “Roger that. I’ll have him on in five minutes.”
Virgil: No, not now. There will be time I heard Madeline come into the wardroom,
enough for that. Eight hours after the accident, I pretended so I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “Awake, Jack?”
to take a cat-nap in the wardroom, mostly to she asked.
Aphrodite: We can set up a link right away. prove to my shipmates that I did not need a
Just say the word. sleeping pill. There was no chance that I would “More or less.”
sleep. I reclined with my eyes closed, listening
Virgil: Um. That’s okay. Just tell him that I’m to the wind moan softly through the rigging “Are you up to talking on the link?”
sorry about all of this. I’ll talk to him later. outside the gondola. The vibration and slight
sway of the dirigible were usually comfortable “Who with?”
Aphrodite: All right. sensations, but not now. Outside the air was “Katya,” she said, and I felt my heart acceler-
thin and freezing, not much different from the ate and sink at more or less the same moment.
conditions aboard the High Jump, in the strato- It was not a pleasant sensation. “She’s about
sphere over the Pacific. But far below, instead to go into a sleep period,” she went on. “We
of a warm tropical sea, there was a waterless thought you might want to talk to her before
desert of unimaginable heat and pressure. she does. Can you do it?”
Katya and I had both dreamed of going there.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 28

I sucked in a couple of deep breaths, but I could hear nothing. Finally I said, “Hello?” I smiled in spite of myself. “As I recall, things
they didn’t steady me. “Yeah,” I said. “I can went to hell pretty much right after you said
manage it, I think.” Katya said, “Jack? Is that you?” She sounded that.”
more tired than I could remember.
“Because if you’re not sure, it’s okay. You “It turned out well, though,” she said. “But
can talk to her later. When she wakes up.” “It’s me,” I said. “How are you?” I could I tell you what. Now that I am on another geo-
have kicked myself as soon as I’d asked it; the logically active planet, I take it back.”
What Madeline did not say, because she answer was horribly clear to us both. But if I
knew we were both thinking it, was that Katya tried to stay away from painful subjects, then We shared a strained laugh. “I have been
might not wake up. She knew the Pasadena there would be nothing to talk about. lucky to have you, Katya,” I said, instantly
Rule. Sometimes you’re screwed. And when aghast at the verb tense I’d chosen.
you’re screwed, you don’t add to the sufferings “I’ve been better,” she answered, trying to
of other people by spinning it out. Shutting make light of it. “And you?” “Jack, it has been so good between us. I
down for a “sleep period” could be a graceful remember when I took you home with me, just
“Not bad. Aside from the obvious.” before we left Earth. It was all so perfect.”
way to sign off for the last time.
“That is good,” she said. Her voice seemed We had been married in a restored
“No, no. I’m all right for it.” to relax a bit. I realized that mentioning the Orthodox church in Katya’s home town in
She looked at me with a skeptical eye. Was obvious, even obliquely, was a relief to her. We western Siberia, a month before our departure
I the sort to break down on the radio, to make would not have to dwell on it, but we would from Earth orbit. “That was a good time,” I said.
Katya’s ordeal worse? Maddie would have no not have to ignore it, either. “It makes me happy to think of it now.” I didn’t
way of knowing, really. At last she nodded. um, following things pretty closely sound happy.
“Okay,” she said. “Grab some coffee and come up “We’re,
here.” There was an awkward moment, and I cast
down to the control pod. You’re on the air in
three minutes.” around in my mind for something to keep
“Yes, I know. Thank you.” the conversation going. It seemed to me that
# “And we’re all very sorry about J. B. He was each word was a precious thing, but they kept
a good friend.” slipping away.
The others were filing out of the control “Jack,” Katya said presently. “I am very tired.
“Yes. But for him it was over very quickly, I
pod when I came in, leaving only Madeline think.” It has been a hard day. I think I will go to sleep
to stay with me while I talked to Katya. It now.”
was a generous gesture, but they spoiled it “That’s right,” I agreed. “We can be thankful
by avoiding my eyes, as if they were afraid for that much, at least.” “Wait.”
to look at me. I sat at the co-pilot’s station
next to Madeline, who was speaking into her There was a very long pause, until I “I’m sorry, but I have to sign off now.”
headset to set up the conversation. I heard her wondered whether she had closed the con-
say the word “private” about three times. She nection. But then she surprised me. “You know, you“No, please, wait a moment. I want to ask
a question, and I want you to answer it
looked inquiringly at me, and I nodded. I felt Jack, I seem to remember telling you once that truthfully.”
calm—way too calm, and cold. At a signal from we were lucky to live on a geologically active
Madeline, I picked up my own headset and put planet.” She seemed to consider. “What is the
it on. question?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The Pasadena Rule by Ben Schumacher Pg. 29

“Katya, are you in much pain right now?” I
asked, working to keep my voice even.
I heard her let out a deep breath. “Not
much, Jack,” she replied, matching my tone.
“But I am medicated.”
“Okay,” I said. “Listen, I want you to do me a
favor. Will you do it?”
“That depends on the favor. I will try.”
“Katya, I am not finished talking with you
yet. But you’re tired—hell, I’m tired too. So I
want you to go to sleep. But here’s the favor. I
want you to call me back when you wake up.”
“You understand? Go to sleep, but then
wake up and call me back. Will you do that for
“Yes, Jack, I will do that. For you.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you,
Katya. Goodnight then.”
“Goodnight, Jack. I love you.” Ben Schumacher
“I love you too. Talk to you in the morning.” I am a physicist who teaches at
I took off the headset and slumped back in my Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. My
chair. I wiped my sweaty palms on the seat
fabric. Madeline was frowning at the bright major research field is quantum infor-
cloudscape beyond the window. She would mation theory, though I have also
not look at me. I could tell she disapproved. As dabbled in black hole physics and ther-
far as she was concerned, I had just persuaded modynamics. I’ve been a science fiction
my wife to prolong her suffering for another
day—and for no better reason than that I writer longer than I’ve been a physicist,
was not yet ready to say goodbye. God damn however, having sold my first (and so
it, I wanted to say to her, I’m not ready to say far only) story to Analog magazine at
goodbye. Not now. Not ever. But I stood up and age 16.
left the control pod.

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
There Interview, by L. S. King Pg. 30

There Interview
by L. S. King

E ver wanted to go into space? Silly question
to ask if you’re reading this zine.
Through the vision of the station’s owner,
Jamestar, and its main builder, Sojka, this place
is growing and has become an important part of
RGR Interview with Jamestar,
creator of the space station in There
Most of us will never get the How long have you been
chance, but now, we have the in-world?
next best thing, courtesy of the
Internet: virtual environments. Coming up on my three-year
These aren’t games, but worlds birthday on the Jamestar avie.
where people can meet and build My oldest avie is almost four. I’ve
relationships. Yet, these worlds been here since the beginning.
offer even more. They allow one When did you begin building
to live dreams. this space station?
In one such virtual environ- Back in the beginning of There
ment, There, we have discov- when we were exploring every-
ered a unique place that was where, someone actually put
of extreme interest to us, being a backpack on, set a macro
SF geeks. It’s the Space Station program to fly straight up, and
P3X-420. “discovered” that There had
We can now go into space, Space. It wasn’t too long after
fly using back packs, check out that it was discovered that the
the ships docked in the station, paz (port-a-zone) only needed
visit a lounge and casino, start a to have one corner post on
war with—or befriend—aliens, something solid to remain at that
become part of shady research height. Through the cunning way
being conducted in secret, plot the overthrow of “stacking” two player score-
of galactic governments—the possibilities are the There world. They both graciously granted boards, which can be dropped without a paz,
endless. us an interview. the very first “Space Paz” was set out.

Recently, Ray Gun Revival became part The person to introduce me to Space was “Jubi,”
of the station, and our headquarters are offi- no longer in game. From that paz and the put
cially housed in the Overlords’ Lair. Visitors are back trick, the First Space Community formed
welcome, but beware of the space monkey with people dropping pazes off one another.
guarding the door. This was a collection of houses and parks; there
wasn’t space stuff yet. Who knew? lol

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
There Interview, by L. S. King Pg. 31

Randra_Loqqet made the first members to something other
green space station parts, than “hoods” and chat groups.
and I decided to break off To allow them to go “wow”
the community and began (that word has the potential
stacking far away to create an to unlock greatness).
actual space station. It was
crude at best. What types of events do you
currently have, and what are
What inspired you to build a future plans?
space station in There?
With the inconsistency of my
I work as a civilian at Wright work hours it’s very hard to
Patterson AFB. There’s an area run events...instead I have
similar to the Sci-Fi channel’s created a platform for others
Eureka. The first practical 3D to run events but not many
virtual world was created in do. I’d like to see more people
those labs. It was created get involved. I’d like to start a
for actual multi-craft virtual spades group up here.
training missions. It was that
very platform There used to
create the world we love so
much. The creators of There
took that world and mastered
avatar-centric communications. keep it fresh.
RGR Interview with Sojka,
I had my niece check it out because of a post Does the station’s name, P3X-420, have signifi- noted space station builder in There
on our community board about the commer- cance, or is it just some letters and numbers
cial applications of the military’s 3D worlds, you threw together? How long have you been in-world?
she dragged me here,  and I  fell in love. How One of my all-time favorite shows is/was Stargate I’ve been a member since June 24, 2006
could I not do a space station? It’s in my genetic SG1. Those  who are fans have already figured
make-up. that out, but for those who aren’t...during the How long have you been building, in-world
How many hours a week do you estimate you height of the show, when still exploring, the and out-, and how did you learn? Did you take
spend working on it? planet designations always began  as “P3X.” If classes, or are you self-taught?
you need an explanation of “420”, you won’t
As often as my work allows. I’m very busy for understand it anyway. lol I attended a four-year art college for computer
weeks at a time and pop in only to pay rent, but animation about ten years ago. Since then I’ve
also get weeks off and do some real building. What purpose do you hope this space station been working in the video game industry on a
During the Christmas holidays, I created the start serves for the users of There? variety of projects animating, building, texturing,
of the station you see now. I was in There eight rigging, and designing.
To expand horizons. To lift boundaries and show
to twelve hours a day for two weeks. Now I just that anything is possible here. To introduce new Although I didn’t learn much of anything useful
switch things around and add new designs to

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
There Interview, by L. S. King Pg. 32

directly from any of my CG classes, the fun- and disarray, I—ah, I did none of those things excited! Until I determined…
damentals of color, concept, and design have I just said.
been invaluable. Not to mention gave me the No one seemed interested in looking at a bike
basic knowledge to get into the industry. The 3D What I did do was switched to hoverbikes. Things that was not one of the older, more renowned
modeling and texturing skill set was all learned started off slow. It took me two weeks to get the developers, and getting the first one sold was
on job. first bike ready for submission. I had to figure definitely a hurdle. Most people, from my chats
out the hows and the whys and what all the with them, buy bikes in a fashion similar to how
What tools do you use? limits meant. Rather confusing, too confusing cliques work, only following people they know,
to be honest. I was very nervous about making or developers who are hot for hot’s sake, and
I was initially trained on Alias/Wavefront back a mistake but the time was well worth it. The not being the social type spreading the word
when Silicon Graphics machines were all the bike submitted with no issues. Success! I was was not easy.
rage. After school
most of the work But after some time,
was done on one I finally sold my first
of the 3D Studio bike. Selling the
Max additions and first one allowed
Photoshop. me to submit the
next, and so on.
What inspired Eventually, I had a
you to build on a small, very small
“space” theme, and following, who
when did you begin wanted everything
building pieces for I put out, mostly
this space station? one player by the
name of Vesputo.
What got me into In the hope of con-
wanting to build tinuing the style
in There were the beyond just bikes,
buggies. So I created I ventured out to
an avie and got to new items.
‘concepting.’ After a
week of diving into The desire for
the tools provided serious space
by the website I -oriented struc-
discovered that tures was apparent
building a buggy after talking with
was not an option. J a m e s t a r.   H e
I fumed, I yelled, wanted a serious
I tore through the space theme—this
neighborhoods was obvious—and
casting destruction I wanted to do a

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
There Interview, by L. S. King Pg. 33

serious space theme, something I could really More importantly, I consider customizing a styles, colors, and symbols based on faction.
get into. All and all, this worked out well. frigate bridge or smaller starcraft. These are a
perfect alternative to the typical houses. Plus, Generic space is fine, but I’d like to see it grow
Right out of the gate, I knew that I did not want they have the huge advantage of being expand- to the next level of focus, and nothing makes for
to build in the same cartoon-y retro style that able. a more exciting diorama than a real-faux role-
seemed very common throughout the world. playing conflict.
I desired something grungy, hard, cold, and Is there anything else you’d like to leave us
—most of all—mine. Once I completed the basics with?
for space I wanted to explore doing actual star
vessels. Multi-drop ships that combined much Heck yes! I envision a developing story line
like that of a train and train cars. The idea was to environment, where an invading force or hostile
build something modular that could be mixed raiders terrorize the shipping lanes and other
and matched so the builder could use his or
her favorite pieces to build whatever ship they
wanted, but the real goal was to see something
big… real BIG… a gigantic starship that would
cast a shadow over the settlements trapped on
the surface. Something I could look up at and
feel that I had made my mark. Currently, the
largest assembly of ships can be found at Jame-
star’s Station P3X-420. I believe he has a single
ship that clears 200 meters.
I am still refining my techniques to improve the
amount of detail and overall quality in every-
thing I supply.
How much time would you estimate goes into
a single item you submit?
My strongest asset is I’m fast at production. I
can take an idea to concept, from concept to
3D, and 3D to submission in between one and civilian traffic. I like to see several sides arm
two days, assuming I have the days to use. Com- up to engage each other for control of the sur-
missioned hoverbikes and hoverboats, I can rounding space. I’d like to see heroes emerge in
typically deliver to the patron within a week. a universe where a ship can become legend and
I’ll take this moment to say I am happy to per- whose captain is admired. A solar system whose
sonalize any item. I currently have nine com- fighter squadron is honored. Imagine space
pletely different bike styles, several of which stations with large cargo vessels docked and
have customizable variations. a surrounding asteroid belt armed with auto
cannons, each with completely different visual

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16, Strange Bedfellows, Part Three, by L. S. King Pg. 34
Deuces Wild
Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three”
by L. S. King

T ristan took a sip of his drink to gather his
thoughts, his gaze on Betts’ smug face.
“Let’s assume for a minute that McCarty is out
in his game.” He lowered his voice, and spoke
through gritted teeth. “I don’t like to lose.”
like the same line you tried to sell Myers.”
“Are you buying?”
of the picture. What are your plans?” Her chin lifted, she met his gaze with
determination. “Neither do I. I’ll do whatever “You want to be my partner.” It wasn’t a
“To drive the Separatists out, of course. it takes.” question.
This planet doesn’t have an abundance of
She thought he was looking for affirma- Tristan snorted. “That would be hubris at
green land. And they have most of it.”
tion of her resolve, Tristan realized, and was this point in time. Let’s say, I want to earn your
“I wasn’t referring to your objectives. trying to show how strong she was. Whether trust. Work my way up.”
What exactly are you planning to do? Will you she truly had the stomach for it or not, she “I’ll...have to think about it, but...” She
continue as Lyssel did? Burning them out and just put herself in the same league as Dray paused, her stare becoming more calculating.
killing them?” and Myers. He was right to want to take the “If you take this contract and kill McCarty, I’ll
Mordas down.
Betts’ eyes glowed. “You’ve thought me give it serious thought.”
weak. I know you have. But I’m not.” She “First things first.” Tristan picked up his Tristan raised his drink in a conciliatory
leaned forward. “Yes. I’ll do whatever I need to glass and took a sip. “If I’m going to work for salute. So, I’m on the inside—if I kill Slap.
in order to get that land.” you, I have certain conditions.”
“Even killing innocents? Children? Betts frowned. “What do you want? I told #
Babies?” you I’d pay any price.”
Tristan snagged a basket and slowly walked
Her mouth drew tight, showing the lines Tristan shook his head. “I want in.” around the kiosk, testing and choosing various
around her mouth. “Is this a trick question? vegetables and fruits. He pretended not to
You did save that child from Myers.” “In?” The ex-madam sat up straight, her notice that the vendor kept flicking his gaze
eyes narrowed. “What are you really after?” to Tristan. Finally, he asked the man, “You’re a
Tristan’s back stiffened; those first on the
Tristan waved his glass in a dismissive member of the Merchant’s League?”
scene—and her parents—had called him a
hero. It still rankled. “I told you—don’t attribute gesture. “Not to take over, if you’re thinking of “If I weren’t, they’d run me out.”
virtue to that. Letting that kid die would have that line of muck I told Myers. But,” he smiled,
been a net win for Myers, that’s all.” a difficult task with his stomach turning over, Tristan gave the vendor the basket. “What
“I think we could...make a good team. Cover percentage do you pay?”
“She would have just been collateral each other’s weaknesses.”
damage.” “Same as the rest.”
Slowly, with deliberation, Betts leaned
“No, he turned her into a target, an objective back, eyeing Tristan warily. “This does sound “And that is?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 35

The vendor told him. her. Someone had just tried to blow up the house.
From the configuration of the blast, it was
“And that includes the cut the Mordas While the herbs steeped for his tisane, he probably the same weapon that had previously
take?” began chopping mushrooms and onions, his been used against him. Whoever was after him
mind wandering to the last time he’d worked in must be an idiot to try to attack a force-shield-
The vendor licked his lips, his eyes a kitchen. It was on Giselle, with Slap. He drove ed house.
darting nervously up and down the street. the knife into the cutting board with a thunk
“The Merchants’ dues are separate from the and ground his teeth. This was not the time to He pulled on a pair of pants, snatched up his
Mordas’s.” get sentimental. With a see-saw motion, he PBG, and headed for the door. The perimeter
worked the blade out of the board and con- scan showed clear. He hit the latch, and the
“And what do you pay them?” centrated on cooking the omelet. door slid open. From here, he was still inside
When the vendor answered, Tristan whistled the shielding, but could see the street. Two of
After his meal, he poured another cup Betts’ men stood outside, PBRs drawn.
through his teeth. “Seems like the Guilds and of tisane, sipping it as he paced, mentally
Merchants both cut their own throats when reviewing his plans. Juggling all the pieces of “She was on the roof, Mr. MacCay,” came
they got in bed with the Mordas.” this game at all times was going to be a difficult the one man’s voice through the wall comm by
The vendor didn’t answer, but instead told act. A stronger drink would suit him about now, the door. “We saw her jump from one building
Tristan the cost for his purchases. Tristan paid but he needed his wits about him. to another. Three of our men are chasing her.”
for his produce. What he should be doing was sitting at Her? Tristan’s mind skidded to a halt. What
“Do you wish us to deliver, sir?” the vendor the comdesk, working, but he was fatigued, her could want him dead? Not Betts, and he’d
asked. mentally as well as physically. A shower was met no other women on this planet.
what he needed. He set the tisane on the end
“No. I’ll carry them.” table by one of the chairs and went to the Tristan wanted to join the chase, but by
bedroom. now they were too far away, and besides, he
Bag in one hand, Tristan wound his way was barely dressed. He nodded at the men
through the marketplace, watchful and alert, # through the shield as he keyed the comm. “Let
shopping and asking questions. me know when you catch her.”
Finally, he started toward his rented house, As hot needles of water of attacked his He closed the door and stood motionless,
eager to be out of the hot sun and dry desert body, he felt himself reviving slightly. One his thoughts in a muddled whirl. Her?
air. A large dog ran past him, tongue lolling. advantage of being downside; water instead of
Space was much better: invariable tempera- sonic showers. He scrubbed the planet’s grime Some moments later, the chime sounded,
tures, cleaner, and—he sidestepped the dog’s and sweat from his body, then just stood under interrupting his train of thought. He checked
generous deposit on the road—no animals. the jets, trying not to think, eyes closed. the security vid. A woman, blonde, tall, not
really a beauty, but with sparkling, blue eyes
He keyed himself past the security safe- A light rumble and tremor made his eyes fly and a wide, full mouth waited between the
guards and entered the house, shivering in the open. He jumped out of the shower, dashing two guards. This couldn’t possibly be her.
cool, climate-controlled air. He put his groceries water from his face, and listened. A sound
on the table with a sigh, wishing he were on from his security board in the foyer indicated “Yes?” he asked through the comm.
Giselle, but the sleight of hand of seeming to a matter requiring his attention. Water still
dripping from his hands, he keyed the display. “Mr. MacCay? My name is Tanya Daniels,
sell her to the Separatists was likely safer for

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 36

and I represent a guild which wishes to discuss “That’s between her and me.” Tristan had barely begun his assault; he
matters with you.” didn’t even have his big guns assembled yet.
“Which brings up a question: what is What had she gleaned already? Without a
“Which guild?” between her and you?” doubt, this woman was dangerous. But, for
“The Courtesan Guild.” “That’s none of your business.”
She approached, and he had the feeling
Tristan bit his lip. They even had a guild for “Hmm.” Her eyes teased him. “I might want of being stalked. He didn’t allow himself to
that? “Betts didn’t send you.” it to be my business. I saw you in the doorway move, keeping his eyes on her face, not the
earlier. A shame you got dressed before letting
“She...probably won’t like that I’ve come to cleavage that was conveniently at eye level
me in.”
see you. No, she has nothing to do with our from his perch on the chair arm. This woman
guild anymore.” “I’m not in the mood for flirting, and I have had naturally what Betts strove for desperately
work to do.” yet failed to achieve.
This could be interesting. Tristan lifted
a finger to key her entry, realized he only “Score one for me. You went from being Steady on—don’t let her know she’s gotten
wore pants, and instead said, “Give me a few willing to wait for me to start the conversation under your skin so easily. “And whatever it
minutes.” to urging me to get to business.” is you think I’m ‘up to,’ you don’t think Betts
would have her own sources handy to pass on
After getting dressed, he allowed her “Which is?” the puzzle pieces?”
entry and watched as she passed through the
scanner. No hidden weapons. “There are a few places where secrets are “She might get a few, but not enough.”
most likely to be leaked. One of them is the Tanya’s dazzling smile lit her face. “I’ll pass on
She gave him a blinding smile. This woman bedroom.” anything I hear. You just remember that when
had natural grace and style, and impeccable whatever it is you’re ‘up to’ is going down.”
taste in clothes. He waved her to the living “Go on.”
room and watched as she settled herself into She stepped back with a knowing look. “I’d
“My girls are trained to pay attention and better go before Betts is told I’m here. She’ll
a chair. He sat on the arm of another chair and pass on anything that might be of interest.” likely have words for both of us. But I can
let her scrutinize him. She paused, obviously waiting for an expres- honestly say I wasn’t here long enough to do
“Aren’t you going to ask me what I want?” sion of interest. Tristan kept his face bland. Her anything but tease.” She headed for the door
she finally asked. eyes twinkled. “You are good.” with a soft laugh.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me.” She rose and began to wander about the Tristan rose to key her out. As the door slid
room talking, her fingers touching a lamp, an shut, he let his breath out in a slow exhale,
Tanya laughed. “I like you.” She leaned objet d’art, trailing the back of a chair. “Now, running his hands through his hair. He needed
forward. “I want in, Mr. MacCay. Whatever my girls probably wouldn’t see much, only another shower now. Cold, this time.
you’re up to, I want in.” getting bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle,
but I’m seeing a pattern. A very interesting #
“I’m not ‘up to’ anything except what Betts pattern. And I think you’re definitely ‘up to’
has hired me to do.” something—much more than whatever you’re A little later, Tristan sat at the comdesk
doing for Betts.”
“And what is that?” with a cup of steaming tisane and attempted

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 37

to push the her, Tanya, and Betts all to the back The chair creaked as he leaned back with “It’s your favorite vintage.” He lifted his
of his mind. He must force his thoughts on the a sigh. He reached for his tisane, took a sip, glass. “You have good taste.” A sip. He set it
now. After checking the installation of all his grimaced, and set it down. Cold. How long had down and leaned back. Waiting. Predator
own custom software, he opened one of the he been sitting here? He rose, tossed the drink, setting his prey.
applications. and busied himself brewing a fresh pot. As he
turned toward the living room, he stopped, “My fav— What are you up to?”
Eyes narrowed, he opened a second arrested, as a lingering whiff of perfume hit
program and began making notes. He under- “You asked me that once already.” Tristan
stood the basic power structure of this lifted his glass and sipped again. “You’ve come
hierarchy but needed to know details, spe- This woman wasn’t going to blindside him a long way from the abandoned child you were.
cifically strengths and weaknesses of each tier. a second time. Sipping the tisane, he reseated Your drive has taken you from the streets to
Most especially, the rich. Striking against them himself and opened a new interlink... being the president of your Guild. You’ve let
felt like a mosquito attacking an elephant—a nothing and no one stand in your way.” He
herd of elephants. # named several incidents from her past, enough
to let her know he had dug deep.
A call interrupted his research. He didn’t Tristan was in his element, and doing one She took a long gulp of champagne and
bother with the ear comm, just hit receive. of the things he could do best: wait. The res- licked her lips. “How did you find my past? I’ve
“Yes?” taurant was one of the finest; only the most been very careful to keep it locked away.”
“We couldn’t get her, Mr. MacCay. She was elite dined here. And Tanya had made a reser-
like a...ghost. She just vanished. We’ve been vation—for one, as usual. Telling. The waiter arrived with their meal, and
searching, but it’s no use.” Tristan set the napkin in his lap, waiting for
The table was in a dim corner, allowing a privacy.
Tristan wasn’t surprised. He’d had no luck modicum of privacy. It would be enough.
tracking her, and he was the best. Whoever she As the waiter withdrew, she stared at her
Soon, the waiter approached, a tall blonde plate and murmured, “My favorite food.”
was, she was a mixture of inexperience and in his wake. She was as alluring as he remem-
experience. His curiosity was piqued. bered. “When I research, I do a thorough job.”
“Thanks. Keep on it.” He broke the connec- She pulled up short, her mouth dropping She bit her lower lip, making her seem
tion with a frown, closed his eyes, and shook open. “What are you doing here?” vulnerable—and even more sultry. When she
his head. Two women invaded his world on the looked up, the discomposure was gone. Her
same day. He had to set both Tanya and her He stood as the waiter seated her, then assurance, her intelligence shone in her eyes.
aside. With a sharp sigh, he focused his mind reseated himself. He nodded to the waiter, “Would you, by chance, consider a partner-
on the display. who bowed and left. ship?”
Finally, a pattern emerged: weak points “I thought it only right to repay your visit.” “What did you have in mind?”
easily exploited. He cupped his chin in his He poured the chilled champagne. “I ordered
hand. If you can get just one elephant going in the meal already. Here. Enjoy.” A finger traced the rim of the goblet. “I
the direction you want, the others will follow. think partnerships are best when they combine
She took the stemmed glass with a discon- personal and professional interests.”
He opened an interlink window and began certed frown. “You’re very presumptuous.”
working... Tristan hesitated, to quiet the thudding in

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 38

his chest and steady his voice. “I think...I might No! Payment now, or the deal’s off!” Her fin- The comm buzzed, and she ticked at the
be interested.” gernail flicked the ear comm, and she swiveled ear comm. “Yes?”
toward Tristan.
# Her eyes widened as she listened, and she
Would Tanya look so pitiful when she shot to her feet. “What?”
aged, he thought, while aloud he asked lightly,
The door slid shut behind Tristan. Betts sat Tristan kept his expression one of polite
at her desk, talking into her ear comm, and she interest, wondering which news she was
didn’t look happy. She indicated the sofa with She waved her fingers, trying to be noncha- hearing.
an outstretched hand. Keeping to habit, he sat lant, but her make-up had set in ridges along
instead in the chair opposite and waited. His her worry lines. It must have been a long day. “No one hijacks my shipments! You find
mind wandered to Tanya, and inevitably he who did it. And get our merchandise back. Do
compared her to the woman in the room with “How can those rich slugs have no money? you understand me?”
him, making Betts seem seedier than usual. Three of them now have not paid me and
blamed their banks. Something about elec- Tristan wished he had a drink to raise
“Would you, by chance, consider a partner- tronic robbery. But I know it’s a lie—it’s not in a toast. Cheers to the new leader of what
ship?” possible to hack into a bank and steal the had been Myers’ Mercenaries. Their mystery
money. Their systems are foolproof. Besides, employer had paid them well, but they’d be
His thoughts whirled as he realized how losing that when their bank was hit. They’d
they all have money in more than one bank.
he had changed from a year ago. He’d come resell the wares eventually and make a profit.
They’d still have access to funds.”
here to harass Myers and, inadvertently, the
Mordas. He didn’t care about mobsters, or “Nothing is completely foolproof,” Tristan Betts tossed the ear comm on the desk.
the people they controlled and terrorized. said, “but I agree, the banks are very secure. “That’s the second shipment I’ve lost! The first
People were marks, no more, no less. What Especially the out-systems banks.” Where was bungled through—they claim—a clerical
am I doing? This isn’t me... Taking down a mob, various criminal factions hid their money, as error, and this one was stolen!” She glared at
helping people—how did this happen? did most of the rich in the Three Systems—as Tristan. “And you—I want to know what you’re
it was ill-gotten and, therefore, tax free. Those doing.” She stood and walked around the desk.
Somehow, in hooking up with Slap, he‘d “What did Tanya want with you? And you with
banks existed to serve those who skirted or
changed. And he wasn’t sure he liked it. And... her?” Her eyes narrowed, and she hissed, “I
shunned the law of the galactic governments.
did he need to destroy the Mordas? He could found out you had dinner with her last night.”
seize control and—a vision of Tanya swam in “Precisely. I imagine you have money in
front of him—run it with a partner. one of them yourself?” And with Betts’ spies, if they’d done more
than dinner, she’d know it, and he’d have likely
He yanked his mind off Tanya and her Tristan inclined his head. gotten a raving visit from her before the night
proposal and listened to Betts’ conversation. had been over. “She seemed to think I was dis-
“And your bank hasn’t been ‘robbed,’ has criminating against her guild by overlooking it.
“I don’t care about your bank’s troubles. it?” I assured her I wasn’t. I’ve been examining all
You owe me that money, and I want it paid the guilds. Fascinating system.”
now.” Her fingernails tapped against the “Not as of this morning. Yours?”
desktop as she listened. “I’ve held up my end, “That’s another thing! You’ve been seen
but you haven’t. If you wish, I’ll withdraw all She shook her head. “No. It’s a ludicrous all over the city this week, talking to the
my men, and you can provide your own... No. claim.” merchants, to various leaders of the guilds—

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 39

what’s going on?” key players. McCarty learned a few tricks in “We’ve tried to guess where they might hit
his time with me, and I have no doubt he’ll be next. These are the most likely spots.”
Very good. Mentioning the guilds diverted teaching them to the rest.”
her from ranting about Tanya. One crisis Tristan peered at the map. Slap was being
averted. “Look, you want me to fight the Sepa- “So, what are you planning?” too predictable, and that made finding him and
ratists. I need certain knowledge for the job. his allies easy. He sighed. At least make this a
Some of those in the Guilds and Merchants are “I’m trying to plot where this...resistance challenge, cowboy!
sympathetic to them.” might be attacking next. With a good strike
force, we might be able to take out all the “So are you setting up an ambush?”
“I want you to kill McCarty!” leaders in one fell swoop.”
“Yes, sir. On all three sites.”
“His death alone won’t stop the Separatists “I already have a team working on that.”
now. They’ve found a backbone.” Betts’ calculating gaze told Tristan she wasn’t Tristan nodded. “Good. Show me the
totally buying his story. “Perhaps you could details.”
“They never fought before now! Not until join them.”
he arrived.” Betts glared, leaning forward, her Leddy and his cohorts did, and Tristan had
hands on the back of the sofa. “Not until you He lifted his eyebrows and smiled. to admit, the plan was solid. “Good job. Nice
brought him back.” “Perfect.” to know the Mordas isn’t all frills and lace
Tristan leaned back with a smile. “Took you #
long enough to find out.” One of Leddy’s men turned a laugh into
a cough. A second said, “Betts might not like
“Why didn’t you tell me he was your friend Tristan went through the building to where such talk.”
when I told you I wanted him dead? You’ve Betts’ team was gathered, his mind racing. He
been stringing me along, all this time—” got off the lift and leaned against a wall, feeling Tristan swung around to meet the man’s
light-headed. Run the Mordas with Tanya... eyes. “Was the Mordas run the same under
“Hold on!” Tristan rose and strode to Betts. Lyssel?” He let his gaze grow intense. “And
She flinched, her expression a gratifying one of Slap would never understand or agree with do you think you should worry more about
fear. “He’s not my friend. Get that clear. He did it. He’d fight. To become the new leader of the Betts—or me?”
me a favor, and I returned it. I was glad to get Mordas, he’d have to sacrifice the cowboy.
rid of the hick.” The men shifted stances and glanced at
“Would you, by chance, consider a partner- each other, but no one answered.
He grabbed her arm, teeth clenched. “You ship?”
renewed the war Lyssel started. And the real However, Leddy’s eyes glinted as he met
Oh, he was. He most certainly was... Tristan’s gaze.
leader of the Separatists isn’t McCarty, but his
father-in-law—Lyssel murdered his daughter The door slid open. Betts’ men nodded
and grandson.” and murmured greetings. Tristan’s mind spun #
as they brought him to the table. He shook
Tristan let go and paced, not only to give “Mr. McCarty! Mr. McCarty!” The boy
himself; he must concentrate.
the impression he was talking out his plan rushed into the house where the men were
of attack, but to distance himself from her. “They’ve been hitting targets closer and seated, poring over a map.
“Killing my former passenger isn’t enough. closer to Zanti City,” Leddy, Betts’ minion said.
Ewan Campbell must die too, and a few other Slap turned. “Call me Slap, kid. Everyone

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
Deuces Wild, Chapter 16: “Strange Bedfellows, Part Three” by L. S. King Pg. 40

else does.” Except his father-in-law, who always “He’s working with the Mordas and is
just called him “Son.” helping plan the ambush. I was told to tell you
to be very careful. He’s extremely dangerous.” A science fiction fan since childhood, L.S.
“Er, yes, sir,” the boy said, bobbing his head.
“I was told to give you this.” He held out an ear A chill swept over Slap. Tristan—working King has been writing stories since her
comm. with the Mordas? “Are you sure?” youth. Now, with all but one of her chil-
If they had been in Zendi Valley or the “Oh, yes. Word is, he’s lovers with Betts. dren grown, she is writing full-time. She
mountains, the comm wouldn’t work, but here He’s already killed a mercenary who was has developed a sword-and-planet series
in the desert they could use the most modern threatening her. We think he’ll end up being tentatively called The Ancients. The first
technology available. the real power behind the Mordas before it’s
done.” book is finished, and she has completed
Slap took the tiny device and twisted it into rough drafts of several more novels as
position in his ear. The familiar motion made Slap thanked the spy and took the comm
him almost homesick for ol’ Bertha; he’d taken from his ear. He set it on the table, frowning well.
care of most of the communications traffic blankly into space. Was Tristan up to something
while with Tristan. or really now on the other side? Tristan had
She serves on the editorial staff of
never really ever indicated Slap was his friend,
“Yes?” Slap asked. The Sword Review, is also their
only someone he owed his life to. And they’d
Columns Editor, and writes a column
settled that up when he dropped Slap off and
“The Mordas are planning an ambush on left. for that magazine entitled “Writer’s
wherever you hit next,” whispered a voice he
recognized as their spy. He knew what Tristan meant to him, but Cramps” as well. She is also one of the
“And how do they know where we’ll be what did Slap mean to Overlords, a founding editor, here at
attacking?” Slap set his jaw. He didn’t dare trust his... Ray Gun Revival.
former friend. How could he possibly out-think
“They’re guessing, based on your previous him? Outfight him? But he had to, somehow. She began martial arts training over thirty
raids. They have three places staked out.” The
spy told him the areas, and Slap muttered an He turned to his fellow Separatists. “We years ago, and owned a karate school for
earthy word under his breath; all three were have to make new plans...”
on his list of future targets, the next scheduled a decade. When on the planet, she lives
for tonight. in Delaware with her husband, Steve, and
their youngest child. She enjoys garden-
“And that’s not all.” To catch up on previous episodes of
the adventures of Slap and Tristan, visit: ing, soap making, and reading. She also
“Oh?” likes Looney Tunes, the color purple, and
“You ever hear of a man named MacCay?” Deuces Wild is dedicated to the memory of is a Zorro aficionado, which might explain
Slap snorted out loud. One of Tristan’s my best friend; my inspiration for an enduring her love for swords and cloaks.
aliases—the one he was known by here,
obviously. “Yeah.” L. S. King

Ray Gun Revival magazine Issue 31, October 01, 2007
The RGR Time Capsule
September 15 - September 30, 2007
Sci-Fi news from the Ray Gun Revival forums
RGR Date: September 17, 2007 The first collection released includes 106,000
RIP Robert Jordan, 58 pages, consisting of Heinlein’s complete manuscripts—including files of all his pub-
RIP, Robert Jordan, author of the monster lished works, notes, research, early drafts
bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time. and edits of manuscripts. The documents of-
Jordan had been suffering from a chronic fer a window into Heinlein’s creative process
illness for some years now, making it hard for and provide background and context for his
him to finish new installments in the series — work.
he died with the books unfinished. Some of Other collections soon to be added on the
his friends and colleagues are discussing his online archive will feature Robert and Vir-
life and death on Making Light. He was 58. ginia Heinlein’s business and personal cor-
Photo credit: Jor dcon2005.jpg, by Wikipe- respondence, scrapbooks, photo albums, and
dia user Valorian, released under a Creative unpublished works, including communica-
Commons Attribution-ShareAlike image. tions with Heinlein’s editor and agent.
RGR Date: September 07, 2007 For more information, go to www.heinlein-
The Flight of the Conchords prize. com. RGR Date: September 25, 2007
Heroes revelations at ComiCon 2007 in San Diego
“The complete archive of renowned American
science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein will be
made available online, thanks to an unusual I haven’t seen this kind of hype since Firefly.
partnership of the University of California- I’m totally digging the show, and love how
Santa Cruz and the Heinlein Prize Trust. it’s unfolding.
Heinlein, who lived in Santa Cruz for two
decades, was one of the grand masters of eoid=157040
science fiction. He became a pop icon in the Santa Cruz Library’s Special Collections since
1960s with the publication of “Stranger In My favorite moment occurs with 35 mins
1968—have been scanned in an effort to pre- remaining when they unveil Heroes: Origins
A Strange Land,” one of the most successful serve the contents digitally while making the
science-fiction novels ever published. He died and the surprise director comes on-stage. “I
collection easily available to both academics just don’t want to be the guy that ruined
in 1988. and the general public. The digitization proj- Heroes. ‘Clerks’ guy ruins show’. “ Heroes:
ect was the brainchild of Art Dula, director of Origins starts in April and runs for six epi-
The entire contents of the Robert A. and the Heinlein Prize Trust.
Virginia Heinlein Archive—housed in the UC- sodes through May.

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