Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03

Þg. ¡
“Fragment in Space,” by Michel Merza
August 1, 2006
Issue 03
“Young Ones”
by Selena Thomason
by A.M. Stckel
Deuces Wild 02, “Reluctant Allies, Part Two”
by L. S. King
Jasper Squad 02, “When In Wroume”
by Paul Christan Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z
Overlords (Founders): L. S. King, Johne Cook, Paul Christan Glenn
Ray Gun Radio: Taylor Kent - founder, director, and producer, all things audio
John “JesusGeek” Wilkerson - RGR Disinformaton Specialist
Venerable Staff:
A.M. Stckel - Managing Copyeditor
Mike Loos - Proofreader, Technical Lead – PocketRGR;
Walter Rosenfeld - Proofreader
Mathew McConley - Proofreader
Paul Christan Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand, newshound
L. S. King - copyeditor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse, webmistress
Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, editorials, chief, cook, and botle washer
Slushmasters (Submissions Editors): Taylor Kent, Scot M. Sandridge, David Wilhelms
Serial Authors: Sean T. M. Stennon, Lee S. King, Paul Christan Glenn, Johne Cook
Cover Art: “Fragments in Space,” by Michel Merza
Without Whom... Bill Snodgrass, site host, Web-Net Solutons, admin, webmaster, database admin, mentor,
confdante, liaison – Double-edged Publishing
Special Thanks: Ray Gun Revival logo design by natchbox Creat|ve
Visit us online at http://raygunrev|va|.com
All content copyright 2006 by Double-edged Publishing,
a Memphis, Tennessee-based non-proft publisher.
Rev: b20060802
Table of Contents
Overlord’s Lair......3
Young Ones......4
Deuces Wild, Reluctant Allies: Part Two by L. S. King......19
Featured Artist, Michel Merza, aka DKF......25
Jasper Squad, Episode Two: When in Wroume, by Paul Christian Glenn......27
The Jolly RGR......33
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. |
1he M|ss|ng 5ense of Wonder
e at Ray Gun Revival have been thinking
a lot lately about what it is about space
opera that is different than regular fantasy or sci-
fi. It seems to us that one of the big advantages is 
in the concept of the ‘sense of wonder.’
For my part, I think of all those great old works
like Doc Smith’s Lensman series or the adven-
tures of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, from Edgar
Rice Burroughs. It seemed like there were new
wonders around every page, and that encour-
aged me to dream big dreams.
But something happened along the way. As
sci-fi matured, it also lost its sense of wonder
somewhere along the way.
But what is this ‘sense of wonder’?
I recently read that the term ‘sense of wonder,’
as it relates to fiction, was actually coined by Hugo
Gernsback himself to describe science fiction (yes,
that Hugo, the man after whom the most presti-
gious science fiction award is named after).
Ironic, that.
One modern definition for Sense of Wonder
goes like th|s:
“The Sense Of Wonder comes not from
brilliant writing, nor even from brilliant
conceptualising; it comes from a sudden
opening of a closed door in the reader’s
mind. [...] Arguably, almost any Sense Of 
Wonder-producing case embedded in an
SF text, no matter how weak that text
may be elsewhere, could be analysed to
show a comparable forcing of Concep-
tual Breakthrough.” -- John Clute, in The 
Encyclopaedia Of SF
Think of it as the ‘Aha’ moment, the sudden
glow from the metaphoric light bulb.
I’ve read on one website that a Sense Of Wonder
can be evoked in one’s mind by all sorts of things,
Futuristic technology
Deep space
Alien life
Changes of scale or perspective
And while all that makes sense, as Overlords,
we couldn’t help but feel there was something
missing, something in addition to that definition. 

You can get all those things in sci-fi, but space
opera has a flair for the dramatic, going a little
large, pulling out all the stops, and having a grand
time while doing it.
It was that sense of emotional involvement in
tandem (or defiance!) of a mental awareness that
has been pestering us since we started thinking
about these matters. And then, the answer came
up in conversation. When talking about what the
difference was between sci-fi and space opera,
the answer popped right out: “Science fiction
uses space, technology and other worlds to stim-
ulate your mind. Space opera uses the same tools
to stimulate your heart.”
The dictionary provides a word that seems
to capture that burst of insight and inspiration;
Epiphany: “A comprehension or perception of
reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization.”
That’s the kind of insight that can rock you from
your toes to your ears.
Space opera is all about taking ideas that
traditional sci-fi wouldn’t touch with a ten foot
sliderule  and  finding  value  therein,  and  adven-
ture, and a rip-roaring good time. That’s how
we can accept light sabers and anti-grav speed-
ers and semi-sentient droids without demanding
schematics and diagrams for the principles that
would allow those things to work. If the charac-
ters and the situations ring true, we can accept
the premise and be swept along for the ride.
Think of that as the sudden opening of a closed
door in the reader’s heart, as well as his mind.
That may explain how a simple story with
basic plot holes and logical errors can resonate so
fiercely, why we can accept the idea of a mythic
power like The Force but are repelled when
such a concept is rationalized away down into a
concentration of Midichlorians.
What we bring you at Ray Gun Revival is
fiction that captures the best of both worlds, the
opening of closed doors in mind and heart.
So look sharp and enjoy the ride—we’re just
getting started.
The Ray Gun Revival Overlords
Cver|ord’s La|r
by the Ray Gun Revival Overlords
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. o
Historian’s note: The events of “Young Ones”
take place shortly after those of “Verid.”
erid stared at the human reflection
in the mirror. She still wasn’t used to
it. But that was part of the Experimentation
Phase, trying on different forms and learning 
about them. All in preparation for The Choos-
ing. One thing seemed obvious; she wouldn’t
chose human form permanently. Something
about it just annoyed her.
However, the humans themselves were
interesting. After the incident with the Elani,
Captain Merrimore had agreed to let her stay
on  board  the  Hawking so she could learn
more about humans, and so the captain could
learn more about the Kedru. It was a mutu-
ally beneficial relationship.
Her com beeped. Then she heard Merri-
more’s voice.
“Verid, would you join us on the bridge?”
His voice sounded agitated. Or was it
worried? Verid was still new to humans and
their vocal tones were proving difficult for her
to read. Their facial expressions were easier,
but Verid suspected that was because with
the proximity she also got a little bit of infor-
mation telepathically. It wasn’t anything as
clear as what she sensed with other Kedru,
and certainly not the sort of link she could
expect with a permanent mate. But it was
something, a sense of what they were feeling
and thinking. And that made making sense of
their facial expressions much easier.
Verid left her quarters and headed towards
the bridge. “What’s wrong?”
“Ensign Brody didn’t come back from the
expedition. He got separated from the others
while they were shopping for supplies on the
promenade. Mitchell and Baty saw him being
dragged away by a couple of aliens. They fol-
lowed but lost him in the crowd.”
“I’ll be right there.”
Minutes later Verid stepped onto the
bridge. One look at Merrimore’s face con-
firmed that he was worried, not agitated.
Lt. Craig was giving a status report from his
communications console. “Sir, Shuttle Three
is heading back now. I’m scanning the station
for Brody’s signal.”
A slight shakiness in his voice betrayed
his place as the youngest, least experienced
person on the bridge crew. Verid made note
of the vocal tic and its meaning for future ref-
She felt for Lt. Craig. He was in an awkward
spot. Even though he wasn’t the lowest-
ranking bridge officer, he was the one with
the least amount of flight experience. The
helmsman, Ensign Santos, hadn’t applied to
the Academy until after he had spent five
years flying commercial cargo runs. Lt. Craig
often wished he had done the same.
“Let me know as soon as you find it,” Merri-
more said from his usual place at command.
Verid had an idea of what might have hap-
pened. “The people who took him, what did
they look like?”
Cdr. Michaelson offered the details from
her station. “Mitchell said they had yellow
and brown skin.” Noting confusion on Mer-
rimore’s face, she added, “He said their skin
wasn’t a solid color, that it was mottled, yellow
and brown swirled together.”
Merrimore raised an eyebrow. Verid
guessed that meant humans tended to have 
skin that was a solid color. Looking at the
humans  around  her,  that  did  seem  to  be 
the case. Humans came in a wide variety of
colors, but each person’s skin was only one
color overall. She was surprised she hadn’t
noticed that before.
“Did they also have brown fur along the
bottom sides of their faces and down the
back of their necks?” Verid asked.
Cdr. Michaelson didn’t seem to know. She
shrugged and waited for Lt. Cdr. Mitchell to
reply through the com. Apparently, he was
¥oung Cnes
by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¶
listening in from the shuttle. “Yep, short
brown fur on the face and neck,” he replied.
“And hands with three fingers plus an op-
posable thumb?”
“I didn’t get a good look at their hands, but
I think so.”
Verid turned to Merrimore. “It’s prob-
ably Maridians, then. Unfortunately, that’s
Verid saw more anxiety leap into Merri-
more’s face and felt a sudden need to reas-
sure him.
“Well, they won’t hurt him,” she added
quickly. “They will try to sell him off. Marid-
ians  are  thieves  mostly,  but  lately  they  have 
gotten into procuring fighters for the sports
corps.” Verid saw confusion in their faces. She
couldn’t blame them. It didn’t make sense
to her either. She tried to explain it anyway.
“One of the Maridians’ favorite pastimes is
watching people fight. Physical altercations,
I mean.”
“Like boxing?” Merrimore asked.
“I don’t recognize that term. But each corp
chooses a fighter, then they place the two
combatants in a cage and let them brawl until
one of them is incapacitated.”
“Sure sounds like boxing,” Michaelson
commented wryly from her station.
“So,” Merrimore began, “you think they
took Brody to be one of their fighters?”
“Yes. He is young and strong, likely to be a
good fighter. Plus he is a species they haven’t
seen before, which would make him even
more valuable. Novelty sells, after all.”
Lt. Craig turned from his console. “Sir, I
think I’ve found him.”
Merrimore tried the com. “Ensign Brody,
come in.”
There was no response.
“He’s not answering, sir, but I located his
signal. It’s on one of the lower levels, looks
like a landing bay. Wait, he’s moving.”
A small ship detached from the station
and sped away.
“Captain, he’s on that ship.”
“Follow them.”
Ensign Santos quickly sent the Hawking in 
pursuit. But the Maridian ship continued to
pull away.
“Stay with them, Ensign.”
“I’m trying, sir.”
Michaelson pointed to something on the
screen. “Anyone else see the problem in this
The on-screen smudge quickly became a
band of rocks.
Merrimore put the problem into words,
“An asteroid belt,” while everyone else stared
silently at the obstacle in their path.
“We won’t be able to follow them in there,”
the first officer said finally.
“I know,” Merrimore replied quietly as the
smaller Maridian ship disappeared into the
rubble. He exhaled in what seemed to be a
gesture of frustration.
“It’s okay. I know where they will go.” Verid
moved to the helm and pointed at something
on the panel. “There, set a course for that
system. That’s where the sporting complex is.
Sooner or later that’s where Brody will be.”
“Sooner or later?” Michaelson asked.
“Probably sooner. They will want to start
making money off Ensign Brody right away.
If you monitor their com channels, you can
probably even pick up when his first fight will
“You mean they will advertise that they
have him?” Merrimore said. “But wouldn’t
that lead us right to them?”
“It won’t be as easy as you think. They are
overconfident perhaps, but it isn’t without
cause. The Maridians have a somewhat pro-
tected status in these parts. And abducting
aliens to use as fighters is, well, commonplace.
The authorities won’t help you get Brody back
and there will be more trouble before you get
there. Let me know when we approach Bahiri
“How will we recognize it?”
Verid stared at Merrimore. It took her a
moment  to  remember  that  the  humans  had 
never heard of the Bahiri and would have no
idea where their territory was, even though
everyone else in this sector did.
“Look for a red giant with five planets. It’s
the first system in their territory. I’ll keep an
eye out also and return to the bridge when
we approach the border. I recommend that
you let me talk to them and not try to negoti-
ate with them yourself.”
“I just have more experience with them. In
fact, I have been Bahiri. It will be a little while
before we get to their territory, though. So
unless you need anything else…”
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. 6
“No, you can go. We’ll let you know if we
hear from these Bahiri or see the star con-
figuration you mention.”
As Verid turned to leave, the chief engi-
neer, Cdr. McGinty, bounded onto the bridge.
“Captain, I heard about the kid.”
Merrimore raised a hand as if to calm him,
“Don’t worry, Mac. We’ll get him back aboard
safe and sound. He’ll be tinkering around in
your engine room in no time.”
“I’d like to join the rescue team, sir, if that’s
“We’ll see, Commander. We’ll probably
want to keep the team down to just a couple
people. We’re likely to stick out like a sore
thumb over there. The fewer people we take
in, the better everyone’s chances.”
“But, sir, it’s my fault he got nabbed. He
wouldn’t even have volunteered for that duty
if we hadn’t gotten into that tussle yester-
“That was some argument you two had.
What was it about anyway?”
McGinty looked at the floor and rubbed
the back of his neck. Verid noticed that he
was suddenly avoiding Merrimore’s gaze.
“Just a stupid disagreement that got out of
hand. You know, Cap, we’ve been under a lot
of stress trying to get the repairs finished as
soon as possible, and the upgrades installed...
and the kid, well, he thinks he knows every-
thing, you know?”
“Don’t they always?” Merrimore replied in
a friendly tone, as if to establish, or perhaps
reinforce, a bond with the engineer.
“We just both lost our tempers. But I’m
the boss,” he pounded his chest a couple
times as if to emphasize the point, “I should
have handled it better. I should have kept my
“Well, that’s true.” He placed a hand on
McGinty’s shoulder. “But we can worry about
the finer points of that later. What matters
right now is getting Brody back. Maybe you
can help the search by figuring out how to
expand our sensor range. The sooner we pick
up Brody’s signal, the sooner we can get him
“Sure thing, Cap. I’ll get right on it.”
McGinty turned to leave and found Verid
still standing at the door. He just nodded at
her and went his way. She thought he seemed
glad to have something to do, some way to
contribute to Brody’s rescue.
“Did you need something?” Merrimore’s
voice broke into her thoughts and she real-
ized he was addressing her.
“No, sorry. Just com me if you need me,”
she replied as she left the bridge.
Verid watched the stars change outside her
window. A run-in with the Maridians was bad
luck. She hadn’t been Maridian for very long,
just a few days, but it was long enough to
learn that they were trouble. And the Bahiri,
well…they were their own sort of problem.
She hoped she would know the right thing to
say to soothe their prickly natures.
Verid had only the beginnings of a plan
when she noticed that a large, orange star
had come into view. With a start, Verid re-
alized she had gotten so wrapped up in for-
mulating  a  strategy  that  she  had  missed  the 
crossing into Bahiri territory. Why hadn’t
they commed her?
Just then, they did.
“We’re getting a signal,” Lt. Craig said.
Now you tell me, she thought. “I’m on my
When she entered the bridge, Merrimore
was already talking to the Bahiri. She was
furious.    I  told  him  to  wait.    But  then  she  re-
membered it was, after all, his ship. Who was
she to tell him what to do? Somewhere in the
back of her mind, she knew she was mostly
angry with herself for not paying closer atten-
tion. Still, she wished Merrimore had waited
like she suggested. It wasn’t going very well.
The Lead Bahiri shown on the viewscreen
looked offended and annoyed. Verid had
plenty of experience with Bahiri facial expres-
sions. Merrimore was being his most diplo-
matic, but it wasn’t working. Verid could see
that the Bahiri was becoming increasingly
agitated the more Merrimore spoke. It was
to be expected.
Finally the Bahiri interrupted him. “The
impudence! Who do you think you are?”
“As I said, I’m Captain Michael Merrimore 
“Such impertinence will not be tolerated
one moment longer!”
The Bahiri broke communications, restor-
ing the viewer to starfield. The Bahiri ships
began firing warning shots at the Hawking.
“Raise shields, Lieutenant,” Merrimore said
as he stumbled back to his seat. The concus-
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. )
sions rocking the ship diminished significantly.
“Well, that could have gone better.”
“You should have let me talk to them first.”
“All I did was say hello. I certainly didn’t
expect that reaction.”
“I’m sure that I can smooth this over if you
will let me talk to them.”
“They didn’t seem interested in talking.”
“I’d like to try anyway. Captain, what you
couldn’t possibly know is that the Bahiri con-
sider themselves a superior life form and are
deeply offended by anyone who approaches
them as equals. Please, Captain, you won’t
win this one by force. Let me speak with
“Very well. Lt. Craig, open a channel.”
“Modulate your hail to 3.142,” Verid
Merrimore raised an eyebrow at the
mention of pi. Verid took it as a good sign
that he recognized the number.
The lieutenant hesitated and glanced at
Merrimore, who nodded his agreement. The
Lead Bahiri appeared again on screen. Verid
moved in front of the viewer and fell to her
“Most Exalted One,” she said with her head
“You may rise and speak,” the Bahiri
As Verid stood, she introduced herself. “I
am Verid of the Kedru.”
The Lead Bahiri signaled a cease fire and
the shooting quickly stopped.
“You are a shifter.”
Verid nodded in reply.
“Is this the form you have chosen?”
“No, I am still in Experimentation.”
“Ah, a young one.” The Bahiri actually
smiled then. “When it is time for your Choos-
ing,” he said slowly, “perhaps you will choose
Bahiri form.”
Verid knew it was a trap. “No, I don’t think
I will choose Bahiri form. I do not feel worthy
of it.”
The Bahiri seemed to consider that the
correct answer. “Quite right. You are quite
right.” He gestured towards her as if invit-
ing her to speak. “And what business do you
bring before us today, shifter?”
“I want to beg forgiveness for myself and
these others.”
“You may proceed.”
“Thank you. You are most gracious. I beg
forgiveness for myself because I am only a
passenger on this vessel and was unaware
that we were approaching the sacred space
of the Bahiri. If I had known, I would have
contacted you sooner.”
“Your error is understandable.  You are for-
“Thank you. You are most gracious. I also
beg  forgiveness  for  these  others.    They  are 
strangers to this region. News of the honor-
able Bahiri has not yet reached their home
“Their home must be quite far indeed.”
“Yes, very far, I assure you.  Also, they are 
new to space travel. As such they have not
yet learned of the great Bahiri or of the proper
protocol for contacting you.”
“Well, we must be understanding of the
young ones, mustn’t we? We can’t expect
primitive cultures to be as knowledgeable as
we are.”
Verid  thought  he  heard  Merrimore  har-
rumph at that. Michaelson’s reaction was a
soft snicker. Verid could almost picture what
their faces looked like at this moment. She
wished she could turn and look, so she would
know for sure. But she knew that this wasn’t
the time.
“You are quite right, Exalted One,” Verid
continued, returning her focus to the Bahiri.
“You are most gracious as always. These
people would like to pass through the sacred
space of the Bahiri. If you allow them to tra-
verse your territory, I will use the passage to
explain what a great honor has been granted
“I will consider it,” the Bahiri replied and
began to turn away as if to end the transmis-
It was not the definitive answer Verid had
hoped for. They didn’t have time to wait while
the Bahiri considered their request. That
could take weeks. Ensign Brody couldn’t wait
that long. As strong as Brody was, Verid was
pretty sure he wouldn’t last long in the ring.
She could see plainly that Merrimore and his
crew were concerned for the ensign’s safety,
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. 8
despite any bravado they might display about
his capabilities, or theirs. Verid knew she had
to try something else, but it was risky.
“Most Exalted One, if I may request one
additional favor...”
The Bahiri turned back to the viewscreen.
Annoyance was evident around his eyes once
again. Verid hoped her gambit would not
“You are demanding today, shifter.”
“I know. And I plead for your leniency. If
you would be gracious enough to allow me to
make one more request, I will trouble you no
“Alright.    I  am  feeling  generous.    You  may 
“Thank you, Your Excellency. You are most
gracious. Would you relay a message to Chan-
cellor Drovin?”
The Bahiri clearly recognized the name.
“What message would you wish to send to
our chancellor?”
“Please  tell  him  that  the  Kedru  grieve  for 
his recent loss, but that we are confident
he will continue the honorable tradition of
service begun by his father, the former Chan-
cellor Zelith of the Vorath province. Will you
relay this message to Chancellor Drovin?”
He hesitated a moment. Verid realized
she was holding her breath. “I will relay your
message. You and your friends have my per-
mission to traverse the sacred space of the
“Thank you. You are indeed most gra-
“Good travels to you, shifter.”
“And to you as well.”
The channel was closed and the view again
showed starfield and ships. The Bahiri ships
moved away, much to everyone’s relief.
Verid turned to Merrimore. “They won’t
give you any further trouble, Captain.”
“Thanks for your help.”
“It’s a small thing in return for your hos-
pitality. The Bahiri don’t really mind people
traveling through their space. They just want
you to petition them for it so they can feel as
if they’re bestowing a great honor. It’s ridicu-
lous, I know, but it’s their way.”
“Why didn’t you ask them about Brody?
Maybe they can help.”
“They could, but they won’t. And we
mustn’t trouble the great Bahiri with our petty
little problems.” Verid rolled her eyes at that,
an expression she had recently learned from
Cdr. Michaelson. She didn’t get it quite right,
but  Merrimore  seemed  to  understand  her 
meaning. Verid heard Michaelson chuckle
from her station. “Do you remember when
I said that the Maridians had a protected
“Well, it’s the Bahiri who protect them.
The Bahiri consider the Maridians their chil-
dren—a younger, less experienced version of
themselves. Both have evolved in this region;
they are very similar genetically. The Bahiri
are just ages ahead of the Maridians in their
development. Actually, to hear the Bahiri tell
it, they are ages ahead of everybody.”
“Anyway, to make matters worse, the Marid-
ians are in their adolescence at this point, so
the  Bahiri  have  resolved  to  give  them  more 
freedom, leave them alone as much as pos-
sible, not interfere. In my experience, ado-
lescence is a difficult time in any species, but
when a whole species is at that stage—well
that’s a dangerous time for everyone around
them. Especially if their parents are trying to
stay out of it. Frankly, I think the Bahiri cut
their children loose too soon for their own
good. Certainly it’s too soon for the welfare
of everyone else in the sector.”
“So, the Bahiri won’t help at all?”
“No. And they won’t listen to any criticism
of their children either. In the Bahiri’s eyes,
the Maridians can do no wrong. Even their
faults are endearing. If you start complaining
to them about the Maridians, you’re likely to
find yourself escorted out of Bahiri territory
at gunpoint.”
“We’ll get Brody back, Captain. Don’t worry.
Adolescents are trouble, but they also tend
to not be very experienced. Between us, I’m
sure we have more than enough knowledge
to outsmart them.”
“Okay. I’ll let you know when we approach
the sporting complex.”
Verid was in the dining hall—watching as
usual, instead of dining. She didn’t need to
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¤
eat food, but the process was important to
all monoforms, so was always worth study.
Today she was taking special notice of the
social aspects of the meal ritual, especially
who sat with whom and what was discussed.
She had become particularly interested in
two people who sat in a corner by themselves.
They did something she hadn’t seen before;
they shared their food, ate from each other’s
plates, sometimes even fed each other. Verid
wondered what it meant.
Merrimore came in, but just nodded to her
as he passed. Verid watched as he went over
to where two women were sitting. One had
her head hanging down towards the table.
Her shoulders were shaking a little. Merri-
more placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, Callie,” he said. “We’re going
to get him back.” As Callie looked up at him,
Verid caught a glimpse of her face.
Verid had seen the woman before, but
wouldn’t have known her name. There was
another woman sitting next to Callie; she had
an arm curled protectively around Callie’s
shoulders. Verid couldn’t make out her words
but she seemed to be murmuring reassurance
to her friend.
Merrimore leaned down towards Callie
and said again, “We are going to get him back
Callie, I promise.”
She nodded a little. The shaking in her
shoulders seemed to lessen. “Thank you,
Captain,” she said.
“I’ll keep you posted, okay?”
“Sure. Thanks.”
Merrimore exchanged a look with the
other woman, but Verid couldn’t discern its
meaning. Then he patted Callie’s shoulder
one more time, walked back towards Verid
and sat across the table from her.
Before Verid could ask about the scene
with Callie, Merrimore said, “There’s no sign
of Ensign Brody yet, but we’ll find him.” He
glanced in Callie’s direction. “We have those
sub-dermal transponders implanted for a
“It does seem a sensible precaution. How
close do we have to be?”
“Within the same system at least. But Mac
is working on extending that.”
Merrimore fell into silence. He seemed
distracted. He looked again towards Callie.
Then he seemed to settle in.  Or maybe, Verid 
thought, he just felt the need to change
focus, because suddenly he looked up at her
and said, “The Bahiri seemed very surprised
when you mentioned this Drovin.”
“He was. The Bahiri don’t give their names
to outsiders. In their dealings with other cul-
tures they prefer to be known by their titles.
They consider names to be very personal. It’s
unusual for anyone outside of the Bahiri Con-
federacy to know the name of an individual
“So, did you know this Drovin?”
“No. But I knew his father, Chancellor
Zelith. When I was on Bahiri Prime, I spent a
good bit of time in his administration.  I got to 
know him pretty well. He was a good leader.
His death is a great loss.”
“Well, dropping names really did the trick.”
“I wasn’t sure that it would. There is some
dispute about whether Drovin should be
allowed to take his father’s place as chancel-
lor. By law, his elder sister Torval is next in line.
But Torval has shunned public life since she
was a child. When Zelith died, she refused to
succeed him. It was quite the scandal. Drovin
agreed to take his father’s place, but many of
the Bahiri consider him too young and inex-
perienced to lead the government.”
“Is he?”
Verid was silent for a few moments. “He
is young. And inexperienced. But he has a
good  soul  and  he  values  the  needs  of  the 
Bahiri people above his own. So, I think he’ll
do fine.”
Merrimore’s com beeped. It was Lt. Craig.
“Sir, we’re approaching the coordinates.”
“We’re on our way.”
The sporting complex was huge. It loomed
on the screen even though they were still a
good bit away. Six ships could be seen either
docking or leaving the station. More were
presumably on the other side.
“Report,” Merrimore said as he sat down.
Craig spoke up. “As soon as we entered
the system, we began picking up commercial
transmissions. We just got one that mentions
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡o
“Let’s see it.”
A yellow and brown face appeared on the
viewscreen. “Valon Corp brings you the first
fight of its kind. Join us at the Markim Arena
on Halk 5 for a conflict like no other, featuring
a fighter like no other. An alien, completely
unknown in this sector, unlike anything you
have seen before.” A picture of Ensign Brody
appeared alongside the announcer.
“Humans, they are called,” the announcer
continued. The date and time of the fight
appeared at the bottom of the screen, along
with “Buy your tickets now” and a string of
numbers. “This fighter’s alien, he’s new, and
he’s definitely more lethal than he looks.
Be the first to see this new breed of fighter.
Markim Arena. Halk 5. Be there.”
The commercial ended and the screen
again showed the sporting complex.
“Halk 5 is only a couple days away,” Verid
said. “We have to move quickly.”
“More lethal than he looks?” Merrimore
grumbled,  then  in  a  softer  tone  added,  “At 
least he looks okay.”
“I told you they wouldn’t hurt him,” Verid
nearly whispered. “As for the commercial,
Akil is a fight promoter, not a poet. The good
news is that he heads one of the bigger corps.
They have the resources to take good care of
Merrimore walked to Lt. Craig’s station
and hovered over him. “Have you found him
The  young  lieutenant  seemed  to  be  quail-
ing under the constant pressure of trying to
locate Brody. His hands shook slightly on the
console. He looked like if he had to say, “No,
not yet” one more time, he might crack.
Merrimore seemed to notice it too and
stepped back a bit.
“Um, no sir,” Craig stammered. “Not yet.
The station is pretty big. It may take a while
to get an exact location, even after we start
picking up his signal.”
“Okay, lieutenant. Just keep looking and
let me know as soon as you find anything.”
“Will do, sir.”
Less  than  an  hour  later,  Craig  finally  re-
ceived a hit from Brody’s transponder.
“He’s in the Maridian ship presently docking
with the station,” Craig told them. Verid
couldn’t help but notice that the lieutenant’s
hands had stopped shaking.
Merrimore’s face brightened. Verid real-
ized that the waiting had been getting to him.
“Great,” he said, “let’s get this rescue mission
under way!”
“They’re moving him,” Lt. Craig called from
his station, a slight note of panic returning to
his voice.
“They won’t leave the station,” Verid inter-
jected. “They are probably just moving him
into lodgings. It’s standard procedure. They
house all the fighters in a central dormitory.”
“Keep track of him, Lieutenant.” Merri-
more turned to Verid. “How do you know so
much about the Maridians and this sporting
Verid shrugged. “Captain, I’ve been Marid-
ian. And I’ve visited this station several times.
It’s a good place for people-watching.”
“Are there any species in this sector that
you haven’t been?”
“None that I know of.”
Merrimore laughed and turned to his first 
officer. “Cdr. Michaelson, I want you to begin
mapping the station and download it to an
HC. I want to have a route planned between
our entry point and wherever Brody ends up.
Plus, I want some alternate escape routes just
in case.”
“I’m on it,” Michaelson replied.
Verid knew that getting onto the station
would be the easy part. People were always
coming and going, and security was just
for show. Anyone who had currency was
welcome; she had learned that on her first
She was also not concerned about deter-
mining where Brody was being held. Between
his sub-dermal transponder and her prior ex-
perience with the complex, that part wouldn’t
be much of a challenge.
What would be difficult was getting into
the dormitory where the fighters were housed
or, more accurately, imprisoned. That would
take a little bit of ingenuity since the lodgings
were heavily guarded. After all, the Marid-
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡¡
ians  valued  their  fighters.    Fortunately,  she 
had a plan.
As she and Merrimore prepared to leave
the Hawking, Verid reached into her pack and
pulled out a pair of handcuffs. “Turn around,”
she instructed Merrimore.
“What else have you got in there?” he
replied, leaning in as if to take a look.
“Nothing exciting, I assure you,” she said,
gently turning him away. “Just a couple relig
cloaks. They’ll help you and Brody blend in
on our way out of here.”
“What’s a relig?” Merrimore asked Verid
as she cuffed his hands behind his back.
“It means a person who belongs to a reli-
gious order. There are always a few of them
around the complex, trying to turn people
from their wicked ways. There. The cuffs feel
“They’re fine. Are you sure about this?”
“It’s the easiest way.” Her fighter thus
secured, she morphed into Maridian form.
At the dorm’s entrance, a Maridian guard
stopped them, but it was out of curiosity, not
“Hey, I thought there was only one of those
new fighters,” he said as he stood and moved
to block their path.
“That’s old news, my friend. I found
another. See?” Verid pushed Merrimore in
front of her as if to display her merchandise.
“And  my  fighter  is  bigger  and  stronger  than 
that rookie Akil and his buddies have been
“When’s his first fight?”
“Still scheduling it. Probably later in the
week, after Akil’s fighter has had his debut.
Then we’ll show them what this new species
can really do.”
“What are they called again?”
“Humans.” The guard wrinkled his nose
and shook his head. “That’s a terrible name.”
“I know. I’m thinking I’ll come up with
something different, something with a little
more flash. For now, I just have to get him
secured in a room so I can start making plans.
Get the fight set, you know?”
“Of course. I’ll be looking for your match.
Good luck.” The guard stepped aside.
“Hey, don’t tell Akil, okay? I want it to be a
surprise.” A devilish smile passed the guard’s
lips as Verid handed him a few coins. “A little
something for you, so you can bet on the
fight. Just choose the right fighter. My guy,
you know?”
“Definitely,” he replied. “This one looks
like a winner.”
When they were out of earshot, Merri-
more said, “Not bad.”
Verid removed his cuffs.
“It worked, didn’t it? Now, where does that
hand computer of yours say Brody is?”
“Down two levels, on the left.”
When they got to the door, Merrimore
pulled off the lock panel and started fiddling
with the wiring.
Verid couldn’t fathom the intent of his
actions. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to get the door open.”
“Is he alone in there?”
Merrimore stopped and pointed the HC at
the door. “Looks like it. I’m only showing one
heat signature.” Merrimore tapped his com.
“Brody, you there?”
Brody’s voice sounded over the com.
“Captain. Yeah, I’m here. Where are you?”
“Just outside the door. Can you let us in?”
“No, I’m chained to the far wall.”
“You alone in there?”
“Okay, hang on. We’re going to figure a
way in.”
Merrimore went back to working on the
lock panel. Verid placed a hand on his arm to
stop him. “Captain, there is no need. You are
thinking like a monoform. Allow me.”
Verid’s Maridian form dissolved into a
gaseous cloud and oozed under the door.
Once inside, Verid could see Brody’s fright-
ened form at the other end of the room.  She 
quickly changed back to Maridian form. “It’s
me, Verid.” Some of the fear drained from
Brody’s face.
“Don’t worry, Ensign. We’re going to get
you out of here.”
She opened the door and Merrimore came
“Nice work,” he said to her as he made
his way towards Brody. He knelt beside the
ensign and started looking at the mechanism
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡z
that chained him to the wall. “How you doing,
“Okay. Sure am glad you’re here, though.”
Merrimore found the bolt that connected
Brody to the wall, and unhooked it. His hands
were still tied behind his back, but at least he
was no longer attached to the wall.
“Turn around,” Merrimore said. “Let me
Brody’s hands and feet were bound by
some kind of magnetic cuffs, but after a few
moments Merrimore was able to find the
release and remove them.
Verid pulled the cloaks out of her bag.
“Here, put these on.” Verid went to the door
to make sure no one was in the hall. “Which
way does your map say we should go?”
Merrimore glanced at the hand comp.
“Left, further down the hallway. There’s a
door that leads to the arena. The security’s
tight getting in from the audience, but there
isn’t any coming from this direction.”
“Alright, let’s go.”
They hurried down the hallway towards
the  arena.    Suddenly,  they  heard  a  shout 
behind them.
“Hey! You there! What are you doing back
Verid turned to see Akil and two other
Maridians coming their way.
Merrimore reached for his sidearm, but
Verid quickly stopped him. “No,” she ex-
claimed, “If we fire on them, the Bahiri will
have a fit. We’ll never get out of the sector
alive.” She nodded further ahead to the set of
doors. “We just have to get through there.”
“Alright then, I guess we make a run for it.”
He pushed Brody ahead of him and all three
of them broke into a dead run towards the
The Maridians were only a handful of
strides away when they got to the double
doors. Once they were on the other side of
the entry, Merrimore turned to Verid. “Hand-
cuffs. Hurry!”
Verid didn’t catch his plan at first but
handed them over anyway. Merrimore quickly
hooked the cuffs through the door handles.
He got them locked just as the Maridians
pounded on the doors. He jumped back, but
the cuffs held the doors closed.
“Get moving!” he yelled when he turned
to see Verid and Brody standing there, staring 
at him. “What? You think that’s gonna last?
The three of them sprinted through the
empty arena and didn’t even turn to look
when it sounded like the Mardians had finally
broken through the door. Moments later they
exited onto the crowded promenade and dis-
appeared gratefully into the mass of people.
They moved quickly through the throng, only
occasionally catching glimpses of their pursu-
ers.    Before  long,  it  seemed  that  the  Marid-
ians had lost track of them, but Merrimore
wouldn’t let his team slow down until they
reached the Hawking.
Cdr. Michaelson commed Merrimore just
as they stepped through the docking hatch.
“All aboard?” she asked.
“All aboard. Break away from the station
and leave the system as fast as you can. I’m
sure it won’t be long before someone reports
our unauthorized transport of that hot, new
fighter everyone’s talking about.” He slapped
Brody  on  the  shoulder.    Brody  returned  a 
slightly embarrassed smile.
“Aye, aye, Captain. We’re disengaging
from the station now. And heading out of the
system, best speed. And then some.”
Verid thought she could almost hear the
twinkle in Michaelson’s eyes when she said
that last bit. Maybe Verid was getting better
at reading their voices after all.
Back onboard, the doctor examined Ensign
Brody and pronounced him a little shook up,
but otherwise fine. Merrimore brought the
news to Verid as she sat in the dining hall,
watching the humans eat. One person had
small, burning sticks in her food.
Verid pointed at the odd sight. “What does
that mean?” She asked.
Merrimore looked where she was point-
ing. “Oh, it’s Callie’s birthday. The ritual is
that the person makes a wish then blows out
the candles. If she blows all of the candles
out in one try, supposedly her wish will come
“Does it work?”
“Never has for me.”
“What do you think she wished for?”
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡|
Merrimore laughed. “Probably for Ensign
Brody not to ever get captured again.”
Verid finally noticed the person sitting next
to Callie was Ensign Brody. Verid could see
his face as he turned and placed his mouth
briefly on Callie’s cheek. Callie then laid her
head on his shoulder.
There was something there, Verid realized.
Something she hadn’t noticed before. Then
Callie cut off a piece of the cake with her fork
and fed it to Ensign Brody. There it is again,
she thought, but what does it mean?
Merrimore tapped Verid on the shoulder.
“I’m going over to say hello. Do you want
Verid shook her head. She preferred to
watch the scene from afar.
Humans are so strange, she thought as she
watched Merrimore join the party.
Selena Thomason
Selena Thomason writes mostly science fcton, but 
sometmes feels called to other forms and genres. 
Although she holds a B.A. in Drama, writng contnues 
to be her frst love.  Selena is Managing Editor at 
Dragons, kn|ghts, and Ange|s magazine.
“Young Ones”, by Selena Thomason
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡o
1C 1nL 5nCkL5 CI 1kIÞLL, LLL!
      by A.M. Stickel
“Aw-right, Defectives, fall in! Welcome to
Camp Alpha. I’m Sergeant Lee… That’s ‘Sir’ to
the likes o’ you greenies.”
“Sir, yes Sir!” we sang out, hating Lee
already with all that was in us.
Still groggy from our passage through the
light gate, we raw recruits looked around,
entranced by the stark wilderness. Triple was
a planet aptly named, being only marginally
larger  than  the  furthest  of  its  double-moon 
sister bodies. Both visible by day, they hung in 
the blue above almost close enough to crush
us. Unofficially dubbed by us Cue  and  Eight, 
our scientists had named them Primus  and 
Secundus in a language older than the game 
of pool.
After Lee finished putting us through
pointless drills to check what he called our
‘cellular reintegration,’ we got the “At ease,
The red-and-brown striated rock where
we’d made camp looked to me like salt water
taffy frozen in mid-pull. My buddy, Reston,
said it reminded him of old chewing gum
gone mad. But our relaxation was brief.
“Hor—USS! Guard duty.” I yessir’d Lee and
quickly took up my position opposite Private
Solberg’s on the high rocks above the camp,
becoming part of Triple’s sculpted landscape
in my red-brown camo.
Reston was assigned to dome-setup. After
saluting Lee, he slouched off halfheartedly
with the others and a mumbled, “See ya’
later, Horse.”
We did meet again a few Terran hours
later in the chow line, where I intended to do
right by my nickname. Private Wolfe, across
the  table  from  me,  dug  into  her  share  and 
honored her own handle, ignoring Reston
and I as we elbowed each other and winked.
Finally, we just gave up and carried our trays
outside into the warm sunshine.
“When do you think the Dryl and the E-Lur
will join the party, Horse?”
“With the Dryl, you can count on their
shamans making a big ceremonial hoo-ha first.
The E-Lurians always consult their comput-
ers to make sure they have everything exact
down to the last nano-dot. Both races worry
more about losing face than we Terrans do.
Nope, we’ll always stake first claim because
we don’t wait for permission from the Great
Invisible, or from some inanimate hunk of
bio-metal either.”
Reston chuckled and added, “N’ we don’t
give a half-chort for face!”
Suddenly, we were in cool shadow. I
flinched, expecting Lee to be there. But, when
I looked up, Wolfie stood over us wiping the
gravy off her chin. “Horus, Reston, mind if I
join you?”
Without waiting for a reply, she plunked
her pretty behind on a nearby rock. “Ouch!”
Her tail scorched, Wolfie was up again in an
“We were going to warn you about that,
but you were too fast for us,” I said. “These
rocks’d make this place too hot for E-Lurian
comfort, and the Dryl are too superstitious
to deal with two moons hanging around so
“I still think there’ll be a fight,” said Wolfie,
crossing her arms. “Well, they’d better show
up for the showdown before I get tired of the
Reston gave his wheezy laugh, and agreed
in his own way. “They’re going to try to save
face, just like they always do. Then, we’re
going to wipe some more of it off when they
Wolfie fanned herself, mopped her brow
and took a swig from her canteen. “With a
whole galaxy as our genetic swimming pool,
we end up on the rim of the pool with two
other humanoid races! What are the odds of
that? Maybe there really is a Great Invisible.”
I looked around, and lowered my voice.
“Don’t let Lee hear you joking about it; Solberg
told me Lee’s grandma was Dryl. I think that’s
how he comes by calling us pureblood Terrans
‘Defectives’ like the Dryl do.”
Reston held his sides and hee-hawed,
“How about that—a Dryl Sergeant!”
And so, Reston’s big mouth got the three
of us stuck on permanent latrine duty. Why?
Because the next shadow over us was Lee.
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡¶
The  three  of  us  made  a  great  team. 
Between us, we worked out a way to rig our
blasters  in  tandem  so  that  they  dug  the  la-
trines faster than our laser shovels had. We
figured we might never see action, so why
not make use of our weapons in a practical
Lee was proud of our ingenuity, meaning
he was not as mad at us for wasting blaster
power as we’d thought he’d be. He’d watch us
sweating out our shift, showing up when we
least expected, solemnly saluting and asking,
“How’s the Dryl-Team doing today?”
“Sir, fine Sir!” We never said anything to
our comrades, too ashamed to admit to our
private joke. And Lee honored our silence
with his.
As day after day passed, under those mis-
matched moons, we saw no sign of our rivals
in the humanoid race for territory. Sergeant
Lee, though, took their absence as a purely
temporary oversight. “It’s not like you’ve seen
in holo practice, Troops,” he’d say. “When
it happens, it really happens. War is blood,
stinking guts and frying flesh. The Dryl will
freeze-ray you with cold ceremony and the E-
Lur will vaporize you with hot frag. After it’s
over, and they’ve found face, they’ll parlay
and exchange hostages. With them, the order
is always: (1) shoot to kill, (2) talk it over, and
(3) kiss and make up.”
The day they came, latrine duty—and
Lee—saved our lives. Many in the troop were
caught in the open. Lee was with us. “Get into
the hole, NOW!” He didn’t have to repeat the
order. The E-Lur and the Dryl, while they were
strafing each other, just couldn’t pass up the
chance to catch us with our shields down.
When the shields went up, we four found
ourselves on the wrong side, and, literally, in
deep doo-doo, but alive. The real fun of the
fight for first rights to the world of Triple had
Our refuge, fortunately, was one we’d
blasted  out  that  day  and  had  only  used  our-
selves. Wide enough for the larger two of
us—Lee and I—to stand on the bottom, the
latrine hole was deep enough for Wolfe and
Reston to stand on our shoulders without
head exposure. Surrounding blaster-hard-
ened walls helped brace us, as artillery shocks
rocked our world.
Trooper indoctrination had included the
details of our rivals’ torture methods. Dryl
grilling called for chemical drugging; the E-Lur
injected captives with nanites. Then they’d
simply wait.
We Terrans reversed the strategy by letting
the enemy waste their firepower against our
impregnable shields. Said enemy tried hard
not to damage property they were after so
as not to alienate their taxpaying, procreating
public. Since they did a lousy job of protect-
ing the landscape for the proletariat, their
governments were forced to call in Terrans
to repair the damage and public sentiment.
The fanatic Dryl and the ascetic E-Lur disliked
cleaning up their own messes.
BRAK-AK-AK-AK-AK! POW! The sky glowed
After that close one, Reston was first to
break our unspoken no-talk pact. “I think I’d
rather be Dryl-drugged than stay down here
much longer. Horse, I don’t know how you
guys can stand it where you are.”
Wolfe and Reston had their arms around
each other with her head on his chest. And
here he had the gall to complain! I waited for
a pause in the blast noise before I growled at
Reston, “Sarge is meditating.”
“Go ahead and climb out, Reston, if you’re
not anxious to celebrate your nineteenth
birthday or see your buddies enjoy theirs.”
Lee always did look on the bright side for his
solutions. I abetted him by gripping Reston on
the shin above his right boot top and squeez-
ing hard.
“Okay, okay, you guys. I’m sorry I said any-
thing,” Reston whined.
“I think I’m gonna barf,” admitted Wolfe,
“You wouldn’t want to do that to us,
Wolfie,” I said, reaching up and giving her leg
a gentler squeeze than I had Reston’s, adding,
“Reston, give her one or two of them fizzy
chews you always carry.”
Pretty soon I heard crunching sounds and
ungraciously blamed Wolfe. With a closer
look, though, I realized that the crunching
was marching feet. Too soon, the feet were
poised on the brink of our prison. What I saw,
before  a  bright  light  blinded  me,  made  me 
wonder why I’d ever left my nannies in the
crèche to become a soldier. It also convinced
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡6
me how absurd the rumor was about Lee’s
grandma being Dryl.
While the rest of us stood gaping, wetting
our pants and trying to shrink into them, Lee’s
blaster was out and fired. A terrible howl and
a thud told me I’d heard my first Dryl join the
Great Invisible…not any too soon for me.
The next thing I heard was my beloved
sarge saving our lives for the third time: “Out!
On the double! Head for the shield and don’t
look back.”
We’d almost reached Camp Alpha’s shield
when Lee yelled, “Duck and roll, Troops!” I
heard the shrill blast of a whistle, and recog-
nized it as the one Lee used to single out one
of us for discipline. Only, this time, there was
an answering echo from the shield, which
forced us to cover our ears as we rolled under
the wall.
Mama Hen Shield had just lifted her feath-
ers for her chicks. We felt the electrical itch
of the energy field brush across our bodies,
and then heard the satisfying splat of those
pursuers who had been a little too hot on our
Catching our collective breaths, Reston,
Wolfe and I finally found enough air for ques-
tions. Lee answered us patiently, one by
one, in order. The troopers not monitoring
the shield, or otherwise occupied, gathered
around to hear what their sergeant had to
“Reston, the enemy troops couldn’t follow
us because they have the wrong biosigna-
tures. A signal-addressed shield only recog-
nizes Terrans.”
“No, Wolfe, our Dryl discoverer, with
nothing on but boots and a freeze blaster,
wasn’t the usual breed of warrior. The see-
through skin signifies the suicidal warrior-
priest caste. Yeah, the sight of internal organs
was yucky, but the stink when they came out
was worse, wasn’t it?”
“Right, Horus, they were looking to take
prisoners. They keep hoping to discover
enough about our technology to even up the
score with the E-Lur, and then breed enough
Terrans for a homegrown slave population, so
they don’t have to pay for our clean-up work
Solberg’s reedy voice piped up from the
rear, “Why didn’t you guys run for the shield
in the first place?”
Lee narrowed his eyes and shook his head
at the stupid question. “We had to wait until
the strafing from above was over, and they
had their own troops on the ground. You
greenies still have a lot to learn.”
I chimed in, “Would it make sense for
them to risk hitting their holiest warriors with
friendly fire, guys?”
“What about the E-Lur, then, Horse?”
Solberg retorted, smirking. I could see he
thought he’d put both Lee and I on the spot.
Lee winked at me and motioned for the
group to follow him into the dome where
the shield monitors were hard at work with
their equipment. We were treated to a rare
sight on the big overhead screen covering
a huge section of our central dome. There
sat the shiny, heavily-armored E-Lur ground
troops, lounging among the rocks, watching
and waiting for the Dryl to finish wearing
their warriors out, before taking the offensive
Besides hating the heat, E-Lurians were
used to much lower gravity. Despite their best
efforts, they hadn’t been able to design ef-
fective armor that protected them from both
unusual heat and uncomfortable G-force.
Our screen also showed the Dryl, unbothered
by the heat, wasting most of their time ges-
ticulating skyward in warding motions they
thought protected them from the evil of Cue
and Eight. Every now and then the sluggish
E-Lur would rouse enough to vaporize a Dryl
who came within range.
The dome show went on. After check-
ing  the  bodies  of  those  fallen  in  the  initial 
onslaught, the Dryl freeze-rayed the dead
Terrans, as if disappointed about not getting
to us live ones, or to the safely armored E-
With a “Show’s over!” Lee called everyone
to order and assigned new tasks all around,
saying, “From now on, for at least awhile,
your  biggest  enemy  is  going  to  be  boredom 
unless you keep busy.”
The Dryl and E-Lur had moved their fight
to Terran Camp Beta, a short distance from
us on open, sandy ground. Having learned
our lesson, Alpha kept her guard up while our
shield techs worked on shifting the field to
cover the new latrine we’d dug. It also gave
them a chance to vent the area under the
shield, preventing toxic buildup.
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡)
“Horus, I want you and Reston to help
the botanist expand our camp’s greenhouse.
That way we won’t have to shift the shield so
often. The well we’re over seems like it can
support some pretty decent hydroponics.”
“Sir, yes Sir!” I saluted and went to work
immediately. I knew Wolfe had been reas-
signed to the nanite-detection squad, and
trusted in her ability to prove that our area
remained relatively uncontaminated.
Arriving  at  the  greenhouse  dome,  I  en-
countered Reston, who took me aside. “Camp
Beta’s in trouble. They got careless, and some
mean nanites crept into their fresh food
supply; they had to vaporize the greenhouse,
slag some latrines, and go back on synth-grub.
Still, a whole bunch of them had to be light-
gated to emergency quarantine facilities.”
“Looks like one or more of us will be
making some fresh-food runs to Beta. Who
do you think Sarge will pick, Reston?”
Reston shifted uneasily, “You don’t hear
me volunteering, especially after I peed in
my pants out there under the boots of a see-
through warrior.”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “We all did,
good buddy. Let’s put our bad scene behind
us, and tackle the hydroponics maze, okay?”
We set to work, both of us quiet and pre-
occupied. I hoped the E-Lur would realize
that contaminating Triple for us Terrans and
their Dryl rivals meant they were only making
more messes for their colonists—if they
won—which the colonists would probably pay
us to clean up, as usual. I wasn’t as worried
about the present hexes and future taboos
the Dryl would inflict. They only affected the
Dryl faithful, not infidels like us.
The hydroponics worked almost too well,
and we produced a bumper crop. Lee decided
to let two of us pair off. Only eight were com-
mitted enough. I wanted to continue missions
out in the galaxy, as did most of the troops.
Four couples put their names in the helmet,
two to a card. Wolfe and Reston won. The
next drawing was for two fresh-food runners.
Lee and I won that one.
Although everyone else was surprised
Lee’d put his name in, I wasn’t. I was also re-
lieved not to be making the run with a chort
like Solberg.
Thanks to the nearby moons, night on
Triple was almost as bright as day, but Lee
and I did have good camo, and shared a min-
iature stealth generator. Although not imper-
vious like a shield, the generator’s field would
dampen our heat signature, scent and noise.
The night of Reston’s and Wolfe’s pair
commitment ceremony, Lee and I set out for
Beta Camp leading an anti-grav sledge loaded
with delectable garden goodies. Instead of a
honeymoon, the newlyweds were posted at
the shield-interrupt site to guard our exit.
All was going according to plan as we left
with our cheeks burning from Wolfie’s kisses.
I manhandled the sledge down-slope onto
the sand. Lee kept an eye on both the multi-
viewer and the nanite-detector. When he
said, “Hot spot: veer!” and pointed, I jumped
to it. I didn’t want to end up in quarantine.
There’s an old Terran war rhyme about
a soldier returning home to his sweetheart,
ending with: “Lips that touched nanites will
never touch mine.” I didn’t want to find out
the full implications of the old verse, but sus-
pected it had a lot to do with almost all Space
Corps offspring being brought up in crèches.
Corps couples rarely lived long enough to re-
produce, let alone spend any time with their
kids. I hoped Reston and Wolfe could beat
the odds.
We were relieved to find everything
calm outside Beta’s shield. They knew we
were coming, but neither the E-Lur nor the
Dryl did. A low dune hid the Dryl transport,
although the call to prayer was being broad-
cast loudly from it. The faithful wanted to find
favor with the Great Invisible. Between the E-
Lur encampment and Camp Beta, a sacrifice
had been staked out to appease the moon
demons. E-Lur braves, not busy recharging
their armor like the rest, were having fun
turning the sand around the Dryl female to
glass. Some were making obscene gestures.
(We had learned about those before being
light-gated.) From the sound of her, she
wasn’t going to go down easy.
“She’s screaming, ‘Curse you, unbelievers!’
and other things not meant to be translated 
for tender ears like yours,” said Lee. I could
see Lee twiddle the control on the viewer
and heard him grunt in dismay. “We’ve got a
“Sir, I already know you have to whistle us
under Mama Shield Beta.”
“We’ve got more than one mama here,
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡8
“Let me have a look.” Sure enough, the
viewer was focused on the naked sacrifice’s
glassy belly, and it showed movement of a
tiny body within.
“That’s barbaric. Why would they sacrifice
her?” I gasped.
“We’ll find out after we rescue her.”
“Just how are we supposed to accomplish
such a rescue?”
“Greenie, leave that to me.” Then he blew
the whistle. When the shield went up high
enough, we dumped everything out of the
sledge, and he called to the surprised faces
within, “Sorry we can’t stay to chat. Enjoy the
chow. We gotta run along now.” The shield
slammed down.
The next thing I knew we were in the center
of the makeshift sacrificial grounds ready to
load up the struggling Dryl lovely and thereby
convince unbelievers of her Great Invisible’s
Lee proved remarkably fluent in Dryl-
speak, and finally succeeded in calming down
the would-be sacrifice. Finally realizing we
wouldn’t turn her over to the nonexistent
mercy of her own kind, she agreed to come
along peacefully, sworn on both her honor
and by her Divine Protector to behave.
Arriving back at Camp Alpha, Lee whistled
up the wall and went in alone, leaving me
with the transparent lady. I tried not to stare,
but she eyed me boldly as if she could see
my insides. Shame for the prejudices most
recently acquired from my time in the hole
made me blush. Compared to me, she was
brave, even if for the wrong reason.
Finally, Mama Alpha blanked her shields
for our prisoner long enough for me to hustle
her inside. She seemed to enjoy riding on
the sledge. We brought out a translation unit
so that the Dryl-speak could be turned into
Terran for the curious troops. She answered
our questions as patiently as had Lee.
“You’ve asked who I am. I was a warrior
princess of the Dryl until I was given to an
E-Lur prince as an experiment in peacemak-
ing. No, our names are not important. More
important is that, despite our differences, we
found love. The child I carry is our child. Dryl
science made him possible. Most E-Lurians,
however, still refuse to be one with the Dryl.
Those Dryl who feel the same killed my child’s
father. I heard the call of the Great Invisible
to join my prince. Even though this night
I escaped, I have lost the will to live. If you
choose to save my child by providing a host
mother, then you might yet accomplish what
his father and I have failed to do. Have you a
Wolfie came forward and put her hand on
the princess’s shoulder. She didn’t need to say
anything. They just looked at each other and
nodded. Reston followed his bride, for once
not twitching nervously, but standing tall
and proud. Lee motioned to one of several
anxious medics.
“Medic, prepare three for light gating,”
ordered Lee.
“Sir, yes Sir.” said the medic, helping the
Dryl princess from the sledge.
She gazed at us, one by one, as she was led
away, saving me for last. I felt a ripple of un-
derstanding sweep through me that needed
no translation.
Later, when I asked Lee about his famil-
iarity with the Dryl language, he winked and
answered, “Why not ask my grandma some
I  stood  at  attention  and  saluted  him, 
singing  the  song  he  most  loved  to  hear,  “Sir, 
yes Sir!”
And that, Your Majesty, is how you came
to be raised in the crèche like me, and why
I was chosen to take you to visit your other
two home worlds, since now you’re of age.
Seems like only yesterday I was eighteen,
myself. Inside I still feel eighteen. I think High
Commander Lee does too.
A.M. Stickel
This ~3550-word story was previously
published in DEEP MAGIC in 2 parts (in Sept. 
&  Oct.  of  2005)  as  a  winner  of  their  cover 
art  writing  challenge  contest.  Among  other 
publishing ventures, Anne is the managing
copyeditor for RAY GUN REVIVAL, Assistant
Editor (and contributing artist and author) of 
BLACK PETALS, and a nonfiction contributor to
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ¡¤
When we lef our heroes, they had blown up a fac-
tory along with the Lyssel, the leader of the local mob,
the Mordas. Now they are making their escape in a 
vehicle ‘borrowed’ from the dead gangster.
ristan banked the rover, and Slap could
see the spaceport’s lights glowing against
the night sky. They neared the entrance to the
private pads on the south side. Slap blinked
and wiped his face on his sleeve again. “Are
you really going to steal Lyssel’s yacht?”
“Of course.”
“I don’t know how I feel about stealing…”
Tristan glanced back for a moment. “It’s
not stealing to steal from a thief—especially
a dead one.”
That seemed to make sense. Slap remained
quiet, fingering the knife Tristan had returned
to him. As the vehicle approached the pad, he
asked, “What are you going to do?”
Tristan landed the rover without even a
bump. “Just play along.”
“How can I, if I don’t know what you’re
The dark man closed his eyes for a second,
then glared at Slap. “You’re my bodyguard, all
right? So just act the part and be a ‘yes man.’
You can do that, can’t you?”
“Yes.” Slap grinned and sheathed the knife.
Tristan jumped out of the rover, hailing
the guards, who brought their weapons up.
Slap clambered out and came up behind him,
hoping he looked tough.
“Lyssel asked me to check on the ship.”
Tristan nodded toward the vessel.
“He didn’t say anything to us,” one guard
said. “And we don’t know you.”
“Would I be using his rover if he didn’t send
me?” Tristan flashed a grin—a friendly, char-
ismatic grin—and Slap found himself almost
believing him. Brago’s Bands, who was this
guy, anyway?
“He’s hired me to take care of some of his
off-world business. He’ll be along in a bit. He
had a foul-up at the old Tellum factory, so told
me to come ahead and check the ship.”
The guard shook his head. “He can check
all he wants, but nothing’s changed. The parts
haven’t come in yet so the engineer hasn’t
been able to finish repairs. It’ll be a week.”
The guard gave them a hard look. “Why would
the boss send you when he already knows all
Tristan scratched his head and smoothed
down his hair, looking confused. “Why, I don’t
know. Does he have more than one ship?”
“Only the cargo ship.”
Tristan snapped his fingers with a grin. “Ah,
that’s it. Makes more sense, too. Don’t know
why I—well, I guess it was because he said
the rover had the coordinates, and I just…” He
shrugged, his grin widening. “Guess I should
have asked for clarification.” With a wink he
added in a stage whisper, “You won’t tell on
me, will you?”
The guards snickered. The one who had
been talking lifted his rifle a bit with a nod.
“The freighter is on the northeast end, at the 
cargo docks.”
Tristan gave a jaunty salute and hopped
back in the rover. Slap climbed in behind
him, unable to believe his companion could
so smoothly ease in and out of what should
have been trouble.
A voice cracked over the guards’ comm
system and in the rover as well. “Rory, Gale—
everyone! Lyssel is dead! We found him at
the factory, and the rover is missing. Be on
the lookout—”
The guards shouted, and Tristan muttered 
in a foreign language, jamming the throttle
forward. Slap grabbed the seat as the rover
rose, screaming. Pings hit the underside and
rocked it as they flew off.
Slap whistled through his teeth. “That was
“I can’t believe they found Lyssel so quickly.”
He grumbled quietly—most likely cursing in
his native language. “We need a place to hide
and regroup.”
Slap chewed his nail for a second. The Ze-
ndians wouldn’t be happy at his bringing an
outsider,  but  Tristan  had  saved  his  life  and, 
Deuces W||d
Reluctant Allies: Part Two  by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. zo
according to their ways, that made him a
brother. “I know a place.”
“The Zendi Mountains.”
Tristan twisted to look full at him. “Aren’t
the Zendi one of the native races on this
“Yeah, they only live in that one mountain 
“I’ve heard they can be unpleasant and
don’t like dealing with humans.”
“Not usually. But they’ll let us stay there.”
Slap met Tristan’s gaze and saw the distrust,
then added, “For a little while anyway.”
“Which direction?”
“Only way is to walk. You can’t bring any
vehicles or equipment near the Zendians.”
“Walk? How far is it? We don’t have any
“Couple a days.” Slap patted his pack. “Ev-
erything we need is in here, or I can get more
as we go along.”
“You’re telling me anything we need to get
safely to the aliens’ mountains you have in
that pack?”
“Forget it. It’s crazy.”
“Look, I know the land—”
“And I don’t.” Tristan veered the craft and
flew it lower. “Hold on. We have to ditch the
rover. I don’t know if they can track it or over-
ride the controls.”
Tristan set the vehicle down at the back of
a warehouse in an industrial area at the edge
of the city. Smart move. No one would be here
this time of night—or rather, early morning.
Dawn couldn’t be more than an hour or two
They hopped out, and Tristan whispered,
“Follow me.”
“Where’re we going?”
“Away from this area. Just in case.”
Slap followed him in the dark, almost
bumping into him, and once stepping on his
heel as they wound around buildings and
through alleys, sometimes backtracking. After
Tristan  hissed  at  him  for  stumbling  into  him 
for the umpteenth time, Slap grumbled back,
“Maybe you got eyes that can see in the dark
like a cat, but I don’t!”
“Then put a hand on my back, and by Orion’s
belt, try to be more quiet!”
Slap sighed as they continued on, heading
who knew where.
Tristan didn’t want to worry his companion,
but twice they had nearly fallen into confronta-
tion. Lyssel’s men seemed everywhere. Where
could they hide? He couldn’t see going into
the mountains, especially on foot. Too easy to
track and find while on the way. That—if he
trusted his companion. He supposed he did,
to  the  limited  extent  he  ever  trusted  anyone, 
but walking across unknown terrain to find
some strange aliens? With no supplies?
However, Tristan was running out of options.
They would be recognized by the Mordas any-
where they went. The answer struck him like a
shock prod. He stopped short, and the cowboy
knocked into him again, nearly sending him
sprawling. He steadied himself with a hand
against  the  side  of  a  building,  flaring  his  nos-
trils in irritation.
“What’s the matter?” Slap asked.
“Quiet for a moment, while I think.”
“Oh great,” his tall burden muttered.
Tristan didn’t deign to reply. He stared into
the dark, trying to recall gossip and where he
had heard it. What was the woman’s name?
Betts? Could she be trusted? Her story recalled
another one, from long ago. That woman had
been trustworthy. Tough call, but his choices
were limited. He glanced over his shoulder.
“Let’s go. I think I know how to keep us safe
and get us off-planet.”
“Good, cuz I’m tired of wandering around
and wondering if you’ve got us lost.”
Slap grunted as consciousness seeped
through  his  exhausted  body  and  he  fought 
to stay in the blissful, dreamy cloud. A sharp
smack on his backside made him roll over.
“Hey!” He sat up, blinking and scowling at
The woman, Betts, stood by the door;
he clutched the silk sheets up to his waist.
“Don’tcha know how to knock?”
Tristan  tossed  garments  on  the  bed.  “Get 
up. Here’s your clothes. We’re going to slip out
of here after dark, disguised as a young scion
and his servant. We’ll take a sedan to the port,
and once inside, we can commandeer one of
the idle rich’s yachts.”
“You gotta be kidding!” Slap looked at the
gold embroidery on the deep blue vest, and
the jabot that would ruffle down the front. But
Deuces Wild by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z¡
it was the tights that made him shudder. The
handsome woman walked up to stand next to
Tristan and grinned. This had to be a joke!
Betts, with too much make-up and not
enough clothing by Slap’s standards, had cau-
tiously taken them in. By the time they had
eaten, news had hit the street that Lyssel was
dead and she readily agreed to help them.
The vicious gleam in her eyes at the mobster’s
name Slap could understand. He didn’t know
what had been done to her, but Lyssel had
been greedy and heartless.
Slap scratched his curly hair with a scowl,
one eye on those tights. The nap hadn’t been
enough, plus he was hungry again. Both
tended to make him grumpy.
“Can you do it, Betts?” Tristan asked.
She crossed her arms across her ample bust
with a wry frown. “I’m no Henry Higgins.”
“He isn’t Eliza Doolittle, either.”
The woman sniffed and brushed a wisp of
blonde hair off her brow, then wrinkled her
nose. “First step is a bath.” She pointed to the
tub in the corner of the bedroom.
Slap narrowed his eyes. “Now wait a
“If you can promise to wash thoroughly, I
won’t stay and scrub you. Although you might
enjoy it.”
Betts’ voice was both humorous and con-
descending. Slap couldn’t decide if she was
serious. But his face flushed hot. “I certainly
ain’t getting in a tub with you in the room,
The corner of her mouth twitched, and
she turned to Tristan. “I’ll be back in awhile.
Have fun.”
When the door shut, Slap crossed his
arms. “You ain’t serious about this plan, are
you? And how do you know we can trust her?
I mean, I know she hated Lyssel but that don’t
mean she’s not going to turn us over to the
“‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ I
think I can trust her—just as I think I can trust
“Think you can trust me? Thanks a lot,
“How much trust should I give to a person
I’ve known for one day? We have a common
goal, but what more when this is over?”
Slap shrugged, conceding the point.
Tristan nodded to the tub. “Get in.”
“Now wait. I ain’t said I’d go along with this
crazy scheme.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“Well no, but I won’t be party to stealing a
ship. I don’t care if it is some rich dandy who
can afford the loss.”
Tristan  muttered  in  that  foreign  language 
again. “Then we won’t steal a ship.” He
paused and shrugged. “Not exactly anyway.
Now wash. And use the scented soap.”
Slap stood, glowering, curly hair slicked
down, as Betts adjusted the jabot.
Tristan straightened his own new clothes.
Or lack thereof. Slaves of the high class wore
only a loinwrap, sandals, and armbands, plus
their House tattoo. Betts had stained his skin
dark to pass as sun-bronzed and provided an
ink that would last through water and sweat
for the tattoo.
“Now,” Betts said, brushing lint from the
tall cowboy’s embroidered vest. “Who are
They had been reviewing this all afternoon.
Slap sighed loudly and intoned, “I’m a visit-
ing nephew of Amilie, late wife of old Lord
Barthew’s second son, Philip.”
“You must remember to use a clear, strong
voice when you speak.”
Slap scowled, pulling at his neckline. “Yeah,
Betts snatched at the jabot. “Stop it—I
had it straight. And don’t say ‘yeah.’ Say, ‘yes.’
And if you can sneer as you talk, that’s even
Betts stepped back, finger to her chin as
she looked him over. “Tip your head up and
look down your nose. Be condescending.”
Slap did as ordered, his frown turning su-
percilious. Betts grinned. “Perfect! And you
do look cute in tights.”
Slap’s face turned bright red.
Betts chortled. “Now, if you can remember
to enunciate and use proper language instead
of slang, you’ll be fine. And if you do run into
anyone unexpected, you have never visited
Zenos before, so don’t know all the customs
here. That will buy you leeway. Cash should
take care of the rest.”
“That’s no problem,” Tristan said. “Speak-
ing of which, are you certain I can’t pay you?”
Betts’ face hardened. “We discussed this
already. You took out Lyssel. I know someone
else will take his place; that’s the way of things.
Deuces Wild by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. zz
But my way is clear now.” She stuck out her
hand. “I’m glad to have done business with
someone after my own heart.”
“I have no heart.”
Tristan had no doubt she spoke the truth.
He shook her hand, his eyes meeting hers.
She smiled. “I hope we meet again
Tristan didn’t. For now they were allies, but
he wouldn’t bet on which side of the sheet
this woman’s loyalties lay from day to day.
One did not expect to see the high classes
on this side of the city, but Betts’ establish-
ment was one of the few exceptions. Tristan
wondered at the delicate balance between
the rich and the Mordas that held Betts
captive by Lyssel on one hand, yet relatively
safe from his reprisals on the other.
In any event, the sedan driver saw nothing
amiss that a young, rich scion would exit such
a place late in the evening. Betts stepped up
to the driver and pressed a gold piece into
his hand. “Milord wishes to be driven to the
private yacht gate.”
Not the best solution, but it got Tristan and
Slap to the space port itself, if not inside or
near the shipyard. Betts leaned into the back,
her endowments displayed to full advantage.
In a stage whisper sure to be overheard by
the driver, she said, “Come back next time
you’re on-planet, milord, and I’ll show you
some exotic ways used by the Saurans.”
The young man slouched, blushing, and
Tristan, kneeling on the floor by his feet,
clouted his ankle. Slap straightened, cleared
his throat and replied, “I’ll…I’ll do that.”
Betts grinned and winked, then nodded to
the driver. She backed away, and the sedan
rose slowly. The city fled under them and
the spaceport lights glowed ahead, illumi-
nating the sky. They neared the private gate,
and Slap leaned back with an audible exhale.
Tristan looked up, frowning, and gave a slight
shake of his head. He never relaxed until he
knew it was safe.
“Which yacht, milord?” the driver asked as
they approached the gate. “I need clearance
to fly to it, or else I’ll have to land you at the
“Land at the gate. My uncle expects me to
be waiting for him.”
Tristan winced. Arrogant, rich, young men
did not offer explanations. But the driver
merely nodded an affirmative.
The sedan landed within the lights flood-
ing the entrance to the private pads.
Tristan jumped out, unfolding the step and
bowing, eyes darting about, keeping alert.
But the driver didn’t move, and the guards
at the gate stayed at their posts. All seemed
Slap descended with a mincing step, head
high, looking around as if the place reeked.
Good. Tristan grabbed the bags and followed
his ‘master.’ The sedan flew off.
Slap approached the gate with a prim strut,
stopped, and put his hands on his hips. “Open
The guards exchanged glances.
“We haven’t authorization, young sir,” said
“Insolent lizard! If you don’t know who I am,
you should at least know how to use ‘milord.’
I demand to know your names! I will see that
Lord Barthew learns about your disrespect!”
Tristan kept his face impassive but could
not believe this ignorant cowboy was pulling
it off! The guards stammered as Slap railed,
shifting weight hip to hip as the fops often
did. Finally he slowed his barrage and took
out a handkerchief. He patted his face then
fanned himself, huffing all the while. Tristan
rarely had the urge to laugh out loud, but, in 
this case, he had to restrain himself.
“We meant no offense, milord. Please!
Enter!” The one guard keyed the switch and
the gate swung open. “Lord Barthew’s yacht
is on the northeast side—”
“Now, wait, Joe!” The second guard threw
out his arm. “We can’t just let him go in
without authorization. I don’t care who he
“But Lord Barthew—”
“Call him. The union will back us up even
against someone with his influence.”
“I have authorization.” Slap reached into
the fancy vest and pulled out a pouch. He
tossed it to the second guard.
The  man  stared  at  it  for  a  moment,  but 
tossed it down. “A bribe!” He brought up his
gun, but the tall local lived up to his name: he
slapped the weapon out of the guard’s hands
with a growl. He picked him up by throat and
crotch and tossed him across the yard. The
man hit hard, rolled, and lay still.
Deuces Wild by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z|
The first guard, Joe, stared with round
eyes. With a blink, he lifted his sidearm, but
Slap wrenched it out of his hands and threw
it away.
Tristan didn’t wait to see Joe’s fate. He
grabbed both weapons. A pitiful cry made
him look up. Joe lay against the guardhouse,
whimpering. From the angle, his leg looked
That galoot was a one-man army!
Slap snatched up the pouch and tossed it
at Joe. “For your trouble.”
Tristan lobbed one of the guns at Slap,
leading the way as they ran into the dark.
They had to avoid illuminated areas while they
headed toward their destination. Sirens soon
blared, and lights flooded the port, leaving
few shadows to hide in.
“Now what?” Slap asked, ripping off the
jabot as they hid on the dark side of a build-
ing. He wiped his face with the ruffled mate-
rial, then dropped it.
Tristan eyed it for a moment. “We have
to get rid of these clothes.” He peered in a
window and saw lockers. Was his luck actu-
ally changing? About time. He couldn’t wait
to be quit of this planet!
“Glad to do it. But if we put on our regular
clothes are we safe?”
“I wouldn’t count on it. Wait one minute.”
As Tristan melted into the dark, Slap
stripped off the dandy clothes—those tights
had to go! He scratched his legs and tender
areas, wondering how the rich wore that
stuff. His buddy returned a minute later and
shoved clothes into his hands.
“What’s this?”
“We’re maintenance workers now. Hurry
“Brago’s Bands! You never are short of
ideas, are you?”
“Just get dressed.”
Slap sighed and pulled on the overalls. They
gathered at the waist, and had a vest-style
top with open sides, a plus in this climate.
Tristan opened the bags and gave Slap his
pack. Slap tucked the one guard’s gun inside
the waistband of the overalls with the fleet-
ing thought that he was glad it had a safety.
Especially considering where the muzzle was
His partner shed his slave get-up and
quickly donned his new guise. He tossed his
black vest over one shoulder and arm, hiding
the tattoo and the gun. He carried his bag on
his other arm. With a jerk of his head, he indi-
cated they should start walking again.
Two maintenance workers shouldn’t be
noticed. Slap hoped anyway. They walked
through the gate to the shipyards without
anyone batting an eye. Tristan even waved to
merchantmen loading cargo.
“Which ship is it?” Slap asked, glancing at
the dock-pad numbers. “Betts did get that
info, right?”
“Yes. It’s just ahead now.”
Two men stood in front of the ship. It was
small, a private cargo vessel rather than the
typical huge freighter Slap had imagined.
An older model, too—perhaps Canary class,
probably one hundred years old, refitted at
least once. It didn’t look very space-worthy.
They walked toward the ship, Slap waiting
for Tristan’s nod. Just outside the circle of light
from the dock pad, they pulled the guns and
fired. Slap couldn’t feel sorry about two more
dead Mordas.
They ran up the ramp to the door and lis-
tened  for  a  moment.  Tristan  nodded,  then 
ducked inside. Was he taking a chance or
could he hear well enough to know no one
lurked nearby? Not waiting, Slap entered and
closed the hatch behind him. As a precau-
tion, he closed the inner lock too. Tristan had
found an access console nearby.
“I’ve locked out the cargo hatches,” Tristan
hissed over his shoulder. “No one can enter
from outside now. Make your way aft on this
deck, then around and fore to the bridge.
Check all the rooms, the crews’ quarters,
galley, heads, everything. And don’t get skit-
tish and shoot before looking. It might be
Slap rolled his eyes. He turned and headed
to the back of the ship, his heart pounding
as he expected to find a Mordas henchman
at every turn or inside each room. He sighed
with relief when he finally got to the bridge.
Tristan lounged in one of the chairs, now
wearing his black pants and vest. “Glad you
finally arrived.”
“I’ve been searching the ship, and you’ve
been sitting here?”
“I checked the lower deck—cargo bays,
engine room—ending up here. There’s still
a chance that someone is hiding aboard,
but we’re safe in here for the moment. I can
Deuces Wild by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
change the registry after we lift off—Lyssel
loaded a program that allows it. Makes sense
in his line of work. Anyway, it frees us to go.
Hook your pack and strap in.”
Slap secured his pack, and the gun, then
sat in the chair indicated, pulling the straps
Tristan called for clearance, and when the
tower questioned him, he reminded them
whose ship it was, and that although Lyssel
was dead, his business wasn’t.
After a pause, the reply came. “Cleared for
Slap swallowed, gripping the arm rests as
the ship lifted off. He couldn’t decide what
bothered him more—leaving the only planet
he had known, despite the sorrows it con-
tained, or the unknown in front of him.
Tristan looked over at him, a glint of amuse-
ment in his eyes. “You know, you looked quite
natural mincing about in those tights.”
Slap scowled. “They were binding.”
From the final part of “Reluctant Allies”
coming in Issue 05:
“Occupants of the freighter Manta, this
is spaceport security. You have pirated that
ship. Return to the spaceport. This is your
only warning.”
Slap gripped the armrests even tighter,
his eyes widening. “Brago’s Bands! What
now? Freighters don’t have weaponry.”
A red light on the panel drew Slap’s
attention. “Incoming!” The ship rocked and
shuddered, flinging him sideways. He grabbed
the sides of the chair.
Stay tuned as Deuces Wild continues next
To catch up on previous episodes of the adventures of
Slap and Tristan, visit: 

L. S. King
A science fcton fan since childhood — reading Hein-
lein, Asimov, Clarke, Dick, Bradley, Pohl, Vonnegut,
Anthony and many others – L.S. King has been writng 
stories since her youth. Now, with all but one of her 
children grown, she is writng full-tme. For the last 
four years, she has worked on developing a sword-
and-planet series tentatvely called 1he Anc|ents. The 
frst book is fnished, and she has completed a rough 
draf of several more novels as well. 
She serves on the editorial staf of The Sword Review,
is also their Columns Editor, and writes a column for
that magazine enttled “Writer’s Cramps” as well. She 
is also one of the Overlords, a founder and managing
editor, here at Ray Gun Revival.
She began martal arts training over thirty years ago, 
and owned a karate school for a decade. A mother 
and grandmother who lives in Delaware with her
husband, Steve, and their youngest child, she also
enjoys gardening, soap making, and reading. She has 
homeschooled her children for over ffeen years, and 
maintains two homeschooling websites. She also likes 
Looney Tunes, the color purple, and is a Zorro afcio-
nado, which might explain her love of swords and
Deuces Wild by L. S. King
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Name: Michel Merza
Age: 25
nobb|es: Fishing, darts, computers, making photos.
Iavor|te Art|st: Albert Bierstadt
When d|d you start creat|ng art: Basically, I started making art when I was very young. I loved to draw and always tried to
redraw any nice picture I’d see. Drawing has always been my favourite thing in school, any school.
What med|a do you work |n: I use Photoshop for the biggest part of my work. It is a fantastic program that lets you do basically
anything you can think of. I also used a little 3ds Max in some of my work. It can give you some very nice pictures but it is pretty hard to
Ieatured Art|st
Michel Merza, aka DKF
Where your work has been featured: Mostly
on deviantART. I started of on customize.org with some
abstract work, but I soon got bored with the community
there. Just didn’t like the way one admin said ‘your work isn’t
that good,’ and everyone else just agreed, and the other way
around as well. It didn’t get me anywhere, but deviantART is
totally diferent. The users say exactly what they think, and
although it was hard to get noticed in the beginning, I soon
improved my work and got more involved. It is just one big
living community with countless users and groups to join and
learn from.
Where shou|d someone go |f they wanted
to v|ew / buy some of your works: deviantART
would be the place to go. I once had a site of my own but I
just didn’t have the time to keep it updated all the time.
deviantART is a very good site and a great system to keep a user page and gallery. I encourage everyone that has some art or wants to improve
his/her art to go there. Check my art on the following link: http://dkf.dev|antart.com
now d|d you become an art|st: I don’t know; when does one become an artist? Being an artist can be defned in so many ways.
I think it started when I started drawing everything I liked to see. You try to improve drawing after drawing and you try to see every small
detail. You have to have an eye for detail in my opinion. That is one of the things that makes you an artist, at least in the part of art that I am in.
Composition is a big issue as well. If you have everything right but it doesn’t fow, it makes a piece unattractive to look at. You need an eye for
that as well. Those are some things that can make you an artist, and the sooner you start developing those skills the better you get. And then
there is imagination—very important as well. So how did I become an artist? I don’t know, maybe it is in you and maybe you learn it in your
childhood. It’s just going beyond your dreams, trying to create something that visualises your imagination. When you start doing that, you
become an artist.
What were your ear|y |nf|uences: My dad, for one. He liked to draw and he helped me a lot with composition, showing me what
to look for. We were encouraged to draw a lot in school as well. We did all our class work from Monday through Wednesday, and then had two
full days to draw, always trying to draw something more beautiful than the kid next to you. A little competition encourages you to develop
your skills. That is about all that infuenced me till I was about 13 or so, when a drawing teacher from another school infuenced me even more.
What were your current |nf|uences: Everything that happens around me. Your emotional status afects your art a lot. But also
other people’s art and pictures. Pictures form the Hubble telescope are just amazing to look at, and they give you so much inspiration. Also, the
things people say about your work can inspire you to refne some things or try some new things. Getting in touch with other artists is a must.
That is one of the biggest sources of inspiration for me in a genre where most things have been attempted already. Doing something original is
a hard thing, but once again, that is where your imagination falls into place and takes you beyond what you have seen.
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z6
What |nsp|red the art for the cover: The use of 3ds Max, I think. Making some very basic
things like those asteroids proved to be a big challenge for me, and when that worked out as good as it
did, I just had to put a lot of efort into the rest as well.
now wou|d you descr|be your work: Original, that is what I really want from my work. Not
saying “Oh, just another planet and a fare and a landscape,” but something new every time.
What have been your greatest successes: Accomplishing a dd on deviantART on the
cover piece is one of them. To be recognised and honoured for something you have put so much work
into is a great feeling. I still think you make art for yourself, but when you realise that you inspire so many
others, then you have accomplished something great.
nave you had any notab|e fa||ures, and how has that affected your work:
Sure, everybody has them. But that is a good thing from which you learn. Once you get some criticism,
you should consider why people say that. I have seen so many people that go straight into defensive
mode when someone makes a good point about their art. But that is not the right attitude in my opinion.
You can’t make something perfect; no one can. You can think your work is perfect today, and then look at
it a year later and think it’s only half as good as you used to think. And that is a good thing. You must stay
sharp and always try to improve on your work. And other peoples’ reactions are a great help to keep you
sharp and keep you developing your skills and art. I have become aware of that over the years, and I am
very open to suggestions and comments at this point.
What |s your favor|te too| / equ|pment for produc|ng your art:
Photoshop. It just is easy to work with and allows you to do whatever you dream or think of.
What too| / equ|pment do you w|sh you had: A big Wacom. If I can ever get rid of
rendered work or work based on pictures’ textures, then I’d love to draw everything. I just don’t have the
skills to use one yet to produce the best art. Maybe I will someday. Art is a learning process, so you never
know what you are capable of.
What do you hope to accomp||sh w|th your art: To inspire people in their own art
and imagination!
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z)
The Action So Far: Upon returning to
headquarters from a routine sting opera-
tion, Galactic Patrol Squad “Jasper” is mys-
teriously attacked by their own forces, and
forced to flee into deep space. In the heat of 
that battle, the squad’s sole prisoner, Tannen
Stamp, escapes his bonds, blockades himself
in the ship’s engine room, and takes control
of navigation. Meanwhile, the squad learns 
that they are inexplicably wanted for high
treason against the United Galactic Systems. 
With Jasper at the mercy of a dangerous
thug, the squad must regain control of her
and prove their innocence...or die trying.
he Jasper hit the atmosphere scream-
ing. High-pitched alarms screeched
throughout the ship as the hull shuddered
from the shock of sudden atmospheric pres-
sure. The ship pitched backward and Cadet
Rey lost her footing on the stairwell. She
slipped forward, and fell headfirst into the
boarding chamber below, where Captain
Spill was furiously trying to pry the engine
room door from it’s frame.
With painful spasms racing down her neck,
Rey jumped to her feet, positioned herself
behind the captain and trained her shooter
on the door. The captain either didn’t notice
her fall or didn’t care. The crowbar he had
jammed into the doorframe bowed under
the strain of his efforts, but the interior weld
held fast.
Rey felt a tickle above her left brow, then
blinked as red droplets fell into her eye. Only
then did she realize that her forehead stung.
Even as blood began running freely down
the front of her face, she dared not drop
her weapon. Not without a word from the
The ship rocked again, harder this time.
The  alarms  stuttered,  then  resumed  their 
ear-piercing wail. Frustrated, Spill ripped the
crowbar from its wedged position and flung
it against the engine room door. He spun
around to Rey and shouted, “What the hell
is going on up there?”
Rey, at a loss for something better, blurted, 
“Don’t know, sir.” The captain stepped
forward, put his hand to her face and wiped
her blood away with his thumb.
“Get me a report,” he said. “Hurry.”
“Yes, sir.”
The cadet quickly holstered her shooter
and scrambled up the stairs to the main deck,
which was still in complete disarray. With a
running slide through scattered workpads,
sanitation kits and assorted personal effects,
she reached the cockpit access port and
stuck her head through. Lieutenant Melen-
dez was in the pilot seat, wrestling with the
control rods. Jackaby sat beside her, glaring
at the ship’s integrity monitor and manually
redirecting the structural coolant systems.
Out  beyond  the  glass  an  ominous  gray  and 
white planet loomed dangerously close.
“Report for the captain,” gasped Rey.
Melendez answered without looking up.
“Planet: Wroume. ETA … any second now.”
“Fore shell won’t hold up much longer,”
said Jackaby. “We’re too hot.”
“Tell the captain to stop trying to the beat
the door down and start talking,” said Me-
lendez. “He’s got to get Stamp to bring us in
slower or we’re going to fry.”
Rey’s heart leapt into her throat but
she forced herself to speak evenly. “Who’s
driving?” she asked.
“Stamp’s got the broadspace nav system,”
replied Melendez. “But if we can break
stratosphere without burning up, Jasper will
automatically shift to manual control. Then I
can take over.”
“I’ll tell him,” said Rey.
“Cadet,” said Melendez, looking at Rey for
the first time, “I’ll have the steering wheel,
but Stamp will still have the thrusters, so tell
the captain to be nice.”
Rey nodded and withdrew from the
cockpit. She stood quickly and immediately
felt the effects of her head wound. Her head
Iasper 5quad
Episode Two: When in Wroume
by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z8
was so light that the ship’s deck seemed to
spin in two directions at once. Gripping the
access port, she squeezed her eyes shut to
gain her bearings. 
“Rey! You okay?” Melendez’s voice sounded
too far away.
“Yes, Lieutenant,” she shouted, louder than
she should have. She wasn’t about to crack
in the middle of her first field crisis. She had
worked too hard, come too far, to fall down
over a stupid bump on the head.
She forced her eyes open and saw red.
With a grunt of defiance she brought her
forearm to her face, wiped the blood away,
and pushed off from the wall, stumbling back
toward the open stairwell. As soon as she felt
the railing beneath her hand, she grasped
tightly and focused on her feet. Concentrating
carefully, she reached the boarding chamber,
where Captain Spill was once again yanking
violently on his crowbar.
“Well?” he demanded.
“Planet Wroume,” she said slowly. “Coming
in too fast.”
The captain immediately took her meaning,
released the crowbar and punched the engine
room intercom on the wall.
“Stamp,” he shouted. “I know you can hear
me! Back it off; you’re taking us in like a flickin’
No response.
The captain pounded on the intercom.
“Stamp, you’ve got to slow us down!”
Rey backed up to the wall opposite the
engine room door and slowly sank to the
deck. “Be nice,” she murmured.
The entire ship began shake violently, and
a sickening, throaty rattle echoed from the
outer shell. Rey envisioned the Jasper disinte-
grating into a million pieces of flaming cosmic
debris; despite her efforts to fight them back,
hot tears welled in her eyes.
The captain turned and saw her on the
floor. “Stand up, Cadet,” he said, through
gritted teeth. “Stamp is a dirtbag, but he’s not
an idiot.”
Rey pushed herself back to her feet and
looked her captain in the eyes.
With an acerbic whine the thrusters sud-
denly decelerated; the ship pitched forward,
then back again, and the shaking subsided.
“See?” said the captain.
The Jasper shimmied as the cockpit took
control, and at last the alarms ceased.
“You need a seal,” said the captain, nodding
at her wound. “Stay here until we’re planet-
side. I’ll have Jackaby bring a medkit.”
“Yes, sir,” she said quietly. Flushing inside
and out with shame, she wondered what
the captain was thinking as he ascended the
The cadet cracked under pressure, that’s
The next few minutes were a stomach-
churning affair as the ship swayed back and
forth, riding an uneasy balance between the
cockpit’s controls and the engine room’s
thrusters. Lieutenant Melendez and the
criminal Stamp were trying to anticipate each
other’s maneuvers, working independently
to achieve enough equilibrium for a nonfatal
Rey racked her mind for information about
Wroume. She recognized the name, so they
must have covered it at Academy, but she
was drawing a blank.
With a swoosh, the thrusters shifted down
to standby, and the Jasper was gliding. Stamp
was evidently guessing that they were close
enough to surface for a soft landing. Since
nobody was rushing down in a panic, Rey
decided he must have been right. The ship
began to swing gently as Melendez prepared
for impact.
Suddenly, there was clank on the other
side  of  the  engine  room  door.  Rey  stiffened 
and stepped forward, hand on her holster. An
electric hiss, and sparks began to fly out from
behind the doorframe. Dull metallic chip-
ping sounds confirmed her fear—Stamp was
breaking down the weld on the other side of
the door. He was coming through.
Rey drew her shooter and called for assis-
tance, but her voice was drowned out by the
abrupt sound of the Jasper’s belly scraping
along Wroume’s surface.
The Jasper lifted momentarily, and Rey
shouted for the captain, but again her words
were lost in the roaring grind of metal against
stone. The ship began to crash up and down
as she skidded toward an uncertain resting
Rey dashed for the stairs, but, before she 
could reach them, the engine room door
ripped open. Tannen Stamp leapt into the
boarding chamber, blocking her way. Rey
jumped back and pointed her weapon at his
leg, just as she’d been trained to do.
Jasper Squad by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. z¤
Though unarmed, Stamp was at least twice
her size, and his eyes blazed with mad purpose.
The Jasper continued her raucous, crashing
slide; yet Stamp advanced on Rey with sure
feet. Sweat ran from his reddened temples
down to his veinous neck as he focused on
her shooter.
“Stand down,” she shouted, firing a bright
red blast into his left thigh. 
Stamp winced, but—incredibly—didn’t
falter. Before Rey could react, he was upon
her. With giant, meaty paws he wrenched the
shooter from her and shoved her back against
the wall. Pain seared through her head and
she felt weak in the knees, but remained
With a deafening crunch, the Jasper finally
rocked to a full stop. Stamp stepped back and
opened the door to the boarding lift. As he
stepped inside, Rey leapt forward, knocking
him against the back wall of the lift. Stamp
spun around, grabbed her neck with one hand
and closed the door with the other. He hit the
descend button, and Rey’s stomach floated
as they dropped.
Stamp glared down at her. “Keep your ass
in the lift, girlie,” he growled. Rey pulled at
his hand in vain, struggling for breath as they 
reached the surface. The door whooshed
open, and Stamp dropped her. When she
looked up, he was gone.
“No!” she snarled defiantly.
She crawled out of the lift and found
herself on a cold stone surface. It was night
on this side of Wroume, and she blinked in the
darkness, straining to adjust her vision. She
struggled to her feet and fumbled forward,
frustrated that Stamp must be long gone.
Somewhere behind her, she heard boots
shuffling against the sandy stone, and a deep,
nasal voice rang out in the dark. “Stop moving,
or I’ll blow you apart at the seams.”
Rey froze. She opened her mouth to
respond, but heard Stamp’s voice instead.
“Cuttery, is that you?” he asked, with
strained joviality.
The nasal voice replied, “Who’s talking?”
“Tannen Stamp.”
No reply.
“We ran a couple jobs on Iliantris last year,”
said Stamp. “I’d recognize your voice any-
“Sure,” said Cuttery, “And I recognize the
distinctive flap of your lying tongue. As I recall,
you left me to take heat from the jeepers on
If the one called Cuttery had seen Rey, he
hadn’t said anything. She tested her luck by
dropping slowly to the ground and turning
around as gingerly as possible. To her relief,
she found a leg of the Jasper’s landing gear
directly behind her. She was hidden in its
shadow. If she moved carefully, she could
probably make it back to the lift without being
seen. Stamp must have had his back to her,
but she needed to see where Cuttery stood
before making move. She put her hands on
the landing gear and peered around it.
“Come on, Cuttery,” said Stamp, “you’d
have done the same thing. It was you or the
shock, and we both know what happens to a
man who abandons his cargo.”
Rey’s heart sank. Cuttery stood flanked by
at least ten armed men, and she got the dis-
tinct feeling that more lurked behind him.
“Nice ship,” said Cuttery. “You gone
“You know better,” replied Stamp. “Just
hitched a ride.”
Cuttery stiffened and cocked his head
back. “They’re on board?” he asked angrily.
“You landed a shipload of jeepers on my flickin’
At his signal, Cuttery’s men raised their
“Easy now,” said Stamp. He spoke softly,
but Rey noticed he was reaching for his own
weapon—her shooter. “I was in a jam. Just
needed a friendly port, that’s all.”
Cuttery glared. “You didn’t find one,” he
said, then looked at the man beside him. “Fix
Somehow Stamp got the first shot, and
Cuttery’s right-hand man went down. Rey
ducked behind the landing gear as the scene
erupted in a storm of laser fire. Spinning on
one foot, she lurched back toward the lift,
but was horrified to realize that Cuttery’s
men had already circled back behind the ship.
She dropped to the ground as red-hot bolts
flashed overhead, and looked up to see three
men taking position around the lift. She was
cut off.
The firefight was closing in. Hands over her
head, she jumped to her feet and raced out
into the darkness, away from the Jasper and
the mêlée. Sand slipped beneath her feet as
she ran, and then she was tripping forward
toward a mass of jagged rock. With the shouts
Jasper Squad by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. |o
of battle receding behind her, she staggered
on into some sort of cave with a thousand
forking tunnels. Surrounded by darkness,
she fell to her knees again, crawling blindly
through the maze of jutting stone.
Nauseous, Rey touched her head. Her
hand came away sticky and thick with blood.
The distant mêlée began to be drowned by a
rushing sound in her ears. She fell, feeling cold
stone against her cheek, and then nothing.
Rey awoke with a sharp pain in her
stomach. Something hard was pushing up
into her abdomen, and with great effort she
rolled over. With that motion, blazing light
burned through her eyelids and she groaned 
involuntarily. With all her strength, she sat up
and blinked in the morning sun. Her head was
It took a moment to remember where
she was, or, rather, to remember that she
didn’t know where she was. She remem-
bered landing, and following Stamp out on
to the surface, but everything after that was
hazy. She remembered the cave, but ... that
couldn’t be right.
She looked around and discovered that
she wasn’t in a cave after all, but an elaborate
tangle of towering stone. Giant rocky pillars
surrounded her, reaching thirty feet or more
toward the sky, their distant tips splitting out
into spiny branches, creating an elaborate web
of intermingled stone far above. It resembled 
a gothic forest sculpted from solid granite.
Warm, white shafts of sunlight trickled down
through the mesh, dappling the pebbly forest
floor with tiny pools of incandescence. There
wasn’t a hint of vegetation visible.
She stretched slowly to test her legs. They
seemed trustworthy enough, so she carefully
stood and took a better survey of her sur-
roundings. Winding paths snaked away from
her in every direction, each ultimately disap-
pearing into a hazy blur of mist and granite.
Convinced that she was alone, she began
walking in the direction that her feet had
been pointing.
She had to get back to the Jasper, that
much was clear, but what would she find when
she got there? She forced herself to focus on
the previous night’s events. The Jasper had
been surrounded by enemy fire when she
last saw her. What had become of the rest
of the squad? Had they found a way to repel
Cuttery’s small army, or were they barricaded
inside the ship?
A slow panic crept over her. Surely they
wouldn’t leave her here? She began to run
through the whole scenario in her mind. What
other option would they have had? Come to
think of it, no one even knew that she had left
the ship. What if, after seeing the fight erupt,
they had simply fired up the thrusters before
realizing that she was missing?
She cursed inwardly—her own bloody-
mindedness had caused this. She couldn’t
think of a single good reason why she should
have followed Stamp onto that lift. She had
been trying to prove something, just like she
had been doing her entire life, only this time 
she  had  finally  brought  disaster  on  herself. 
She imagined dying on this god-forsaken rock,
a  thousand  light-years  from  home,  and  the 
thought of dying a fool enraged her.
The stone forest was thinning enough for
her to see a clearing ahead, and she real-
ized she was nearly running now. As she ap-
proached the clearing, she slowed and began
to move cautiously from one stone pillar to
the next. At last, she reached the edge, and
there, to her immense relief, sat the Jasper.
Her brand-new hull was disfigured by explod-
ed shell bursts and ugly black burn scars, but
she was the most welcome sight Rey could
recall. Captain Spill hadn’t abandoned his
cadet. Of course he hadn’t.
The clearing was about a hundred yards in
diameter, completely encircled by the same
treacherous terrain that she had been navi-
gating. Behind the Jasper was a long, jagged
scar where Melendez had skidded across the
relatively smooth surface.
No wonder we ended up on Cuttery’s door-
step,  thought  Rey.  It was the only place we
could land without shredding the vessel.
She wondered if the rest of the squad was
holed up inside the ship, but that question
was answered as the boarding lift lowered
from the Jasper’s belly and two of Cuttery’s
beefy lackeys casually emerged. They were
both armed, but their shooters were hol-
stered. If there had been a fight inside, it was
long over.
A new fear emerged. What if they were all
dead? Rey couldn’t bear that thought. Shock
runners were ruthless, yes, but they would
have to be crazy to murder an entire GPF
squad in cold blood.
Jasper Squad by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. |¡
On  the  other  hand,  she  thought  quietly, 
Jasper Squad was a fugitive outfit at the
moment. Did Cuttery know that?
Creeping back into the recesses of the
stone  forest,  she  settled  behind  a  massive 
pillar. She unclipped the com from her belt
and tapped into channel 11, the standard GPF
frequency. If the team was alive, they would
have their coms on them. If she could let
them know where she was, the captain would
figure out a way to get her out of this mess.
“Cadet Rey to Jasper Squad,” she said
quietly. “Copy?”
The channel was clear of noise, which
meant someone nearby was receiving her
signal. There was a momentary delay, then
a deep, nasal voice sneered back at her.
“Another one, eh? How many jeepers do they
cram into those little ships, anyway?” It was
In her peripheral vision she caught a flash
of movement, but it was too late. A hulking
figure appeared in front of her, knocked her
com to the ground and smashed it beneath a
heavy boot. It was Stamp.
Rey stared up at him, stunned. Her first
instinct was to jump and run, but she thought
better of it. Stamp had a weapon and she had
nowhere to go. He eyed her for a moment, as
if sizing her up, then kicked the remains of
the com behind him.
“There’s a locator in that thing,” he said.
“Traceable signal. Anyway, Cuttery took your
friends last night. You can’t reach them.” He
took several halting steps back, and she saw
that he had tied a makeshift bandage around
the wound she’d given him. He sat slowly,
never taking his eyes off her.
Rey watched him curiously. His rugged face
looked agitated, but he didn’t seem ready to
hurt her at the moment.
“How did you escape last night?” she
“Gettin’ away is my specialty,” he replied.
“Thought you’d have figured that out by now.”
“Is he going to kill them?” she asked.
“Maybe,” he shrugged. “But I’m not stick-
ing around to find out.”
“Where will you go?”
Stamp grabbed the loose ends of his
bandage, grimaced, then yanked them tight.
“Xoinus, maybe, if your fancy little ship can
make it.” He looked up at her and grinned
nastily. “Come with me if you like. I overheard
Cuttery’s men talking last night, and from what
I gather, you’re one of the bad guys now.”
“You’re not going anywhere with that
ship,” snapped Rey.
“I can handle two of Cuttery’s halfwits. I’ll
get out of here, guaranteed.”
“That’s not what I mean,” said Rey. “The
initiation sequence is linked to Captain’s
Spill’s optic print. Without him in the cockpit,
you can’t activate a launch.”
Stamp snorted. “Nice try,” he said.
“Jasper’s a prototype,” shrugged Rey.
“You’ve had a good look. Ever seen a ship like
her before?”
Stamp made an indecipherable muttering
sound and dismissed her with a wave, but
Rey sensed that he was mulling it over. If she
was right, he could end up trapped on a dead
ship with Cuttery’s men surrounding him. He
clearly didn’t want to believe her, but it was a
dangerous gamble.
“So, what are your plans, girlie?” he asked.
“You going to bust into Cuttery’s hold, fists
blazing, and save the day?”
“I have to get them out,” she replied evenly.
“It’s the only chance I’ve got, and whether you
like it or not, it’s the only chance you’ve got.
Technically, you’re still under arrest, so the
captain has to take you with him.”
Stamp laughed out loud. “Good old Cap’n
Spill’s not as devoted to the GPF handbook as
you might think,” he said.
Rey narrowed her eyes and glared at him.
“He believes in the law,” she said.
“Sure he does,” said Stamp. “Listen to me,
girlie. Your captain and I go way back, and
you can trust me when I say that Muriel Spill
doesn’t care about anything but greasing his
own dirty palms. If he hadn’t been showing
off for you and that other kiddie-cop back
on Candlevar, I wouldn’t be sitting here right
Rey’s head was hurting again. With a frus-
trated sigh she stood up and put her hand to
her head. The blood had clotted, but her skin
was hot to the touch. She leaned back against
a stone pillar, then quickly withdrew. Some
vile, viscous fluid covered one whole side of
the rock, and now the back of her uniform
was coated with it.
Rey reflexively gagged, and Stamp sat up
sharply and looked around. “Does it stink?”
he asked.
“What is it?”
“Smell it!” he said.
Jasper Squad by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. |z
Rey wrinkled her nose, leaned forward
and took a whiff. It was odorless. She looked
at Stamp and shook her head.
“Then it’s not fresh,” he said, relaxing.
“Don’t worry about it.”
With her head in pain and her back covered
with unidentifiable goo, Rey felt her temper
rising. “I’ve had enough of this,” she said. “I’m
going to find the rest of my squad so I can get
off this rock. Do whatever you like, but let me
Stamp stood up slowly. “You’re beat half
to death,” he said, “and you don’t know how
to get inside. You’re not going to make it.”
Rey said nothing.
Stamp stepped forward, his massive frame
dwarfing her. “We go in together, and you do
exactly as I say. No questions, no arguments.”
Rey cocked her head back and glared at
He pushed himself up against her body and
lowered his face to hers. “I don’t like people
taking chances with my life,” he breathed. “If
I find out that you’ve lied to me about that
ship, I will shoot you dead in the center of
your pretty little face.”
Rey’s stomach trembled, but she stood
firm, her chin jutted, and stared him down
through sheer force of will.
Stamp squinted at her, then stepped back.
“Follow me,” he grunted. “And don’t fall down,
‘cause I’ll leave you.”
He struck off in a direction opposite the
clearing, and Rey fell in step behind him,
tramping deeper into the stone forest. Her
head throbbed, her body ached, and her
nerves were shot. Although terrified of Stamp,
Rey was lucid enough to know that he was
right. She couldn’t pull this off alone, without
his savvy, his strength, and, perhaps, his bru-
She desperately hoped that Stamp would
be incarcerated before he discovered that she
had indeed lied.
They walked in silence for hours, roughly
cutting a wide circle around the clearing, then
moving back toward the far end. Rey’s head
still  throbbed,  but  she  felt  her  strength  re-
turning. She was beginning to wonder if they
would make Cuttery’s hold by nightfall when
Stamp finally stopped.
“You’re wheezing hard enough,” he said.
“Take a break and get your wind.” He spoke
evenly, but she noticed that he favored his
wounded leg as he leaned against a scabrous
Suddenly,  a  hideous,  inhuman  moan 
echoed through the forest, followed by a
weird, wet sloshing like the entrails of a thou-
sand  men  being  dragged  along  the  stony 
ground. Shivers shot up Rey’s spine, and her
hair stood on end.
Stamp stopped short and spun around,
scanning the surrounding jagged maze.
“What is that?” whispered Rey, shudder-
“Run!” hissed Stamp.
Next Episode: Into the Labyrinth!
Want to catch up? Visit www.c|rhse|n.com/
[aspersquad.htm| for past episodes, character
biographies, canonical history of the Jasper
Squad universe, and more!
Paul Christian Glenn
Paul Christian Glenn is a feature film author and
director, lyricist, and all-around fiction writer, and
is able to do far more than he’s been given credit
for here.  
His bio reads like this: “Paul Christian Glenn has
been writing for as long as he can remember. It 
should be noted, however, that he has a notori-
ously short memory.”
Jasper Squad by Paul Christian Glenn
Ray Gun Revival – August 1, 2006                                                                                                                             Issue 03
Þg. ||
Overlord’s Lair Editorial
Fiction: Melpomene Run
by Michael Merriam
Lieutenant Lisa Cochrane’s unexpected stowaway jeapardizes her love, her career, and her life. 
The Adventures of the Sky Pirate,
Part Two: The Assassin of Patience Bay
Exclusive Serial by Johne Cook
Cooper Flynn has lost his best friend to the atack of a mysterious assassin and must gather himself 
and fnd answers to unknown questons if he is to avoid his friend’s fate.
ctly what he appears to be.” -
Featured Artist
Memory Wipe – Chapter Two, “Zartsi”
Exclusive Serial by Sean T. M. Stiennon by Sean T. M. Stennon
Takeda Croster woke up in the city of Greendome three years ago with no memories, no connectons, 
and no possessions aside from the clothes he was wearing and an Imperial citzenship card with his 
name on it. The sudden manifestaton of superhuman powers enabled him to escape a corrupt police 
force headed by Captain Brian Vass, but prompted more questons than they answered.  

Now Takeda fnds himself on the edge of the jungles of Belar lost, alone, and surrounded by an 
unforgiving jungle on one side and a vengeful police force on the other.  
Turns out, his pursuers are the least of his troubles...
Ray Gun Radio
Tune in to Ray Gun Radio on Tuesday, August 8th, 2006. The hour-long podcast is
hosted by Taylor Kent and features John “JesusGeek” Wilkerson as your friendly Dis-
informaton Specialist reading the news. This week will have the frst Ray Gun Radio
short story, “Stealing the Rose,” by Ian Stewart, read by a special mystery voice. This
episode also features the second half of the interview with the Overlords, and con-
cludes with another thrilling episode of those nearly Brit bad-boys, “Gits in Space.”  
1he Io||y kGk
Up next for Ray Gun Revival, Issue 04