"October 2014, by Messrs. Alambre, Brenton, Perron, and Russell"
by Tom Russell
----EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS----
## ## #### ###### ## ## ######## ## ##
### ### ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
#### #### ## ## ## ## ## ####
## ### ## ## ## #### ######### ## ##
## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
## ## #### ###### ## ## ## ##
---- ISSUE # 10 OCTOBER 2014 ----
## ## ####### ######## ## ###### ## ##
### ### ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
#### #### ## ## ## ## ## ####
## ### ## ###### ## ## ## ###### ##
## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
## ## ####### ######## ######## ###### ##
----WIL ALAMBRE-SAXON BRENTON----
----ANDREW PERRON-TOM RUSSELL----
---- Editor, Tom Russell ----
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
"Venting the Cybercore", by Andrew Perron
In which the Golden Hawk, he of the laser quarterstaff, and Blazing
Qilin, mistress of white magefire, discuss notions of emotion, logic,
subjectivity, and corporate sociopathy whilst fighting a giant robot.
"Wetwork" Part 2 of 2, by Tom Russell
The Blackfin's assassin puts his plan (detailed in our previous
number) into action. What ensues is a split-second battle of wits
between the mercenary and his target.
"Beyond the Fields" Part 10, by Saxon Brenton
In which Deidre and Joan get down to hard tacks, which in these case
involves talk of alternate unrealities, consultations with heavenly
meme-smiths, and synchronicity. (They work in a highly-specialized
"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Part 9, by Tom Russell
In which Silke's employer expresses his disapprobation about Silke's
unwillingness to find the mysterious Mr. Peake, and his willingness to
undertake the liberation of Hank's wife before his ranch.
"The Hourly Report", by Wil Alambre
In which we law-abiding citizens tune in on a radio program intended
for quite a different audience.
---- VENTING THE CYBERCORE ----
---Copyright 2014 Andrew Perron----
"I don't know. As a person who tries to be reasonable, I have a lot of
discussions with people who want their emotional responses to be
validated. And, y'know, whatever, that's fine, there's no such thing
as an invalid emotion. But often, when I have an emotional reaction
that they disagree with, I feel like people are perfectly willing to
invalidate it based on whatever they consider as objective, logical
evidence that you shouldn't feel that way."
"Okay, but could we please talk about this when we're *not*
fighting a giant robot!?" The Golden Hawk slammed his laser
quarterstaff down on one of the machine's titanium joints.
"DESTROY THE DONGFENG BUILDING. I don't know," said the enormous
crablike robot, swinging at the Hawk with one of its hydraulic
pinchers. "I think it's relevant. I mean, isn't this conflict -
DESTROYing a BUILDING based on its political function - just one of
these discussions spilled over from interpersonal debate into violent
action? If people were more willing to listen to the viewpoints of
others without deciding beforehand that what they already believed was
what was correct, then such action would be unnecessary."
"Thank you!" said the Blazing Qilin, white magefire streaming from
her eyes and hands. "And it's like-" She paused to summon a shield,
dissipating the laser charge from the robot's cannon. Okay, that would
take two and a half minutes before it cooled down enough to be used
again. "It's like, just be honest about the reasons that you're angry!
If something hurts you, that's okay! It doesn't make you weak! But
no!" She pounded on the vandanium steel exterior of the robot, fists
burning. "We've got to make up IDIOTIC justifications about why we're
being EVER SO LOGICAL and not EVER actually FEELING anything, and THEN
we're all expected to subscribe to these STUPID ideas that are
entirely BASED in overwhelming emotion, and you're supposed to WANT to
WORK for the STUPID CORPORATION despite them NOT VALUING YOU AT ALL-"
"Pardon me," said the robot, "but you've completely disabled my
"Oh," said the Blazing Qilin. "Well. Good."
"But there's a bomb implanted in me that's set to DESTROY THE
DONGFENG BUILDING and also myself, and if you could stop that from
happening, I'd much appreciate it."
"Aw jeez." The Golden Hawk leaped atop the smoking robot. He
levered off the control panel using his laser quarterstaff and plunged
his hands into the tangle of wires. "Look, I know what you're saying.
But that's why we do what we do. We're trying to make a world where
people are suffering less, so they don't have to be angry or sad all
the time. Where having the time to think and not just make a snap
judgment isn't a luxury anymore. And we've got to keep fighting for
these people, even the irrational ones." He lifted out a hand-sized
metal box and flipped a switch. "Defused."
The Blazing Qilin sighed. "Yeah, I know. It's just hard." She
looked over her shoulder. "Whoops, here come the cops."
"Yeah, we'd better run. You going to be okay?"
"Oh, yes," said the robot. "I may even get a pay raise."
"Cool. Let's go!" The twosome took to the rooftops, disappearing
among the streets of Hong Kong.
---Copyright 2014 Tom Russell----
Two days later in Lemuria- two days where no one tried to kill Prince Terak.
"Maybe your brother's given up?" says Melody, half-seriously.
"Were that was the efjkgjeix," says Terry.
"What?" says Melody.
"Bivensk fjdksjfe, togdqjl?" He looks concerned, or rather they do,
because now there's three of him.
Something is distorting her vibrational field, and she's pretty
sure it's not that angler fish she ate this morning. (Still shouldn't
have had it, note to self: angler fish tastes worse than it looks.)
"Run, you idiot!"
Terry trusts her, trusts her with his life, and so he doesn't do
that annoying thing where he asks questions or tries to help. He
listens to her immediately, especially when she calls him an idiot.
(Might make good husband material after all, if she was going to live
If someone's intentionally disabled her vibrational field, it's
probably to stop her from telling which direction a bullet's coming
from. That's not cheap, either, which means it wouldn't be meant for
Terry; Blackfin always has two or three assassination plans ready, in
case one fails, and it wouldn't be his style to shell out that many
clams on yet another potentially failed fratricide. No, they want
Darkhorse out of the picture.
So, she can't sense the bullet. She scans the area for likely
sniper nests (which isn't easy with the vibrational vertigo). To her
dismay, the place is lousy with them. It could come from anywhere.
Best bet is to play defense. Put her molecules out of synch with
reality so any bullets just pass through her. Only, wouldn't they be
expecting that, counting on it? She snaps back to physical existence
just in time to feel a bullet tickling harmlessly through and past her
skull. Ghost shot: bullets that only hit a vibrating speedster. But
the next bullet might be real enough. People could get hurt (including
her!), so running away is not an option. She takes a moment to study
the ghost bullet, determine its trajectory, plus-minus three degrees
to account for the vertigo effect.
She gets to the nest, but there's no sniper. Out of the corner of
her eye, she sees a flash of light from the building across the
street. Another bullet? Real or ghost? She needs some kind of test
that doesn't involve her skull exploding. She quickly closes the
window. The bullet passes through the glass like light: ghost. She
remains solid and lets it pass through her, as well. She zips across
the street; sniper's gone. She looks across the street for the next
bullet. This one breaks the window. So he is changing it up. Good. By
which she doesn't mean good, but the opposite of good.
She doesn't waste time going to the nest. Instead, she determines
from which building one would have a clear shot on that one, and she
goes there. But that building's empty. It's then she realizes that he
didn't change nests; he was expecting her to catch on to his game!
He's already fired two bullets: one real, one ghost. One of them tags
her in the shoulder.
Now he'll be gone from the nest. He's fast, as fast as her. But if
it's another speedster, how can he function with the vertigo? Unless
he isn't really a speedster. (Which would mean, what? Hermys- liquid
speed? Man, they want her dead but good.) But Melody can use that.
Because really, everyone's part of the field; most people just don't
notice it. She vibrates the air around her, boosting the signal to
give everyone in ten miles the same lovely about-to-puke experience,
including the ersatz speedster.
In fact, and this is the best part, his stolen speed is going to
make it even worse. And like all speedsters the first time they notice
the field, his body's going to react by trying to cancel out the field
with a counter-vibrational frequency. Or, to put it another way, a
Exactly one right hook later, the assassin is unconscious and in
Lemurian custody. The vertigo effect is disabled, and Melody angrily
wastes one of her remaining 176 days alive recuperating from it.
-----BEYOND THE FIELDS-----
---Copyright 2014 Saxon Brenton----
Once outside Deidre started walking and said, "There's more to a
world than one ideology. I don't care what the one-track mind
fanatics say, what they're about isn't automatically what the world is
about. So this painting, does it contain only neo-Nazi mimetics?"
Joan nodded, and Deidre carried on, "So what are we talking about
here? The painting is a representative of a world, but a Nazi only
world? Is it from some sort of alternate unreality, like a dreamscape
or some sort of mishmash of pop culture ideas rising up from the
"Actually, the meme-smiths I talked to think you could make an
iconic embodiment of a world and then prune away all the non-Nazi
worldview, but it would take a very long time," said Joan. "And the
process would leave traces, which they couldn't detect in this case."
"Let's get down to hard tacks," said Deidre. "This Nazi world that
the painting came from. It's a real location. Does it correspond to
any alternative world that heaven is aware of?"
"So that means it's either a real world that has somehow been
shielded from your attention - which I don't put it past Hell to at
least *try* to do - or it's some temporary alternate unreality..."
"But possibly not so temporary if it's propagating itself," Joan pointed
"Deidre, what do you think you're up to?" came a new voice, but one
"Hello Lee," Deidre said, acting unperturbed. "I didn't see you
there." And this was true. They two women had made their way out
into the park, and the other people who were about were off in the
distance and out of earshot. They should have seen Lee coming. Bad
luck, carelessness, or something more sinister?, Deidre wondered.
"No, I shouldn't think so," said Lee hotly, "otherwise you
be talking this... this treason!"
And then Joan, whose body was at the upper end of human physical
ability, simply strode up to Lee and punched him square in the jaw
before either he or Deidre had time to react. While he was stunned,
she grabbed him by the front of his shirt, stared him square in the
face and commanded, "Forget." Then she gave him a far more gentle
shove to set him walking, dazedly, away from them across the park.
"I'm not so sure that will work in the long run," Deidre commented.
When Joan threw a querying glance at her, she said, "Feel the whiff of
magical synchronicity in the air. I don't think Lee being here was an
"Hmm. Some sort of automated defence reaction, perhaps?" the angel
speculated. She fished around in her pockets. "I think you're right
though: this type of thing will probably happen again. It's time to
leave, I think. You will want evacuate the area."
"I can go undercover with some don't-notice-me effects," Deidre
Joan didn't seem impressed. "Which as I recall affects the
conscious mind. It's unlikely to be useful if an antibody reaction of
an invading reality is using synchronicity to throw defenders at you.
They'll simply trip over you at exactly the wrong time. Perhaps
"They same could be said of you staying here."
"I'm not staying here," the angel disagreed. "I had been
intending to report back to you about what we had uncovered, then
while I was visiting the so-called Nazi world you would have more
information with which to continue investigating here."
"Then I had better come too."
Surprisingly, Joan seemed to take this suggestion seriously. "It
would be very dangerous. Scouting missions into unknown territory
always are. Are you sure?"
"Very well then," said Joan, and took Deidre by the hand. "We
step over... *this way*." And after a few short paces they vanished.
And then Lee, who was still someone stunned but was being led by
the synchronicity of the antibody reaction of an invading reality,
walked over and followed them through.
----SEVEN 'GAINST THEBES-----
---Copyright 2014 Tom Russell----
Hank then explained to the Marshal the circumstances of Celine's
abduction, and the predilections of her captor.
"I will assist you in the rescue of your bride," said Three-Nine.
"Flaying people alive is against the law."
"Indeed," said Adams. "Marshal, if I may hazard a question?"
"So long as your queries are shorter than your answers."
"You said you were the law around these parts. Which parts,
precisely? What's your, uh, jurisdiction?"
"Wherever I am located, that is where I am the law."
When they returned to the hotel room, Strife weren't too happy, and
that weren't just because the Marshal brought his mechanical horse in
with him. "I'd say it looks like you found me two more men, and two
more who manifestly aren't Peake, but I guess technically neither of
these are men. Please, introduce me."
"Oh," said Hank, "I'll introduce myself, alright."
Adams smiled sly-like. "You're starting to grow on me, Hank. Like moss."
"This is Hank High," said Silke. "He'll be joining us for the
duration, provided we help him find his wife, Celine. And this is
Marshal Three-Nine. He's just here to help us with Celine. Got no
interest in the Thebes job."
"Then I guess you can go fetch him to do that after I get my ranch
back," said Strife. "And after you find Peake."
"We find my wife first," insisted Hank. As if to illustrate his
point, he slammed his fist against the table, breaking it into chunks
and splinters of wood.
"The woman's life is in danger," said Three-Nine.
"See," said Strife, "you just had to say that. I'm not heartless.
You didn't need to... I mean, I'm going to have to pay for that
Silke, his boy, his posse, and his employer file out of the hotel into
the streets of Bleeding Branch.
"Mr. Silke," said Strife quietly. "It seems to me I hired you to
find six men like Peake. Not counting the Marshal of course, I make
five: yourself, Gulliver, Mr. Adams, the injun Skin of Snake, and, uh,
Hank. Which leaves room for one more, which would be Peake."
"Uh, no, not maybe. That's what I hired you to do."
"Find six men. Like Peake."
"Like Peake, and including Peake."
"Maybe. We'll speak to it after Celine."
"Again, no, not maybe. But touching on that. I think Mr. Peake's
particular talents would not only aid in the restoration of my
property, but also in the preservation of the life and the virtue of
Silke didn't answer, or if he did, Strife didn't hear it, because
sudden-like all around them was a terrible howling wind, orbiting the
group like a planet. Like a twister that sprung up out of nowhere, and
they was the eye of the storm.
"I come from your brother, Mr. Strife. Ned's awful sorry, but it
seems I've got to kill you. Money matters more than blood, don't it,
As the dust settled, they saw a tall man in black, leaning against
a split-rail fence. His holsters held no guns, just knives.
"The man what whittles wood," said Silke.
"He whittles more than wood," said Hank. "He's the one took
The man shook his fist, and passed it lazy-like back and forth
through the fence like it weren't even there. "I'm the swiftest man
who lives. Also the deadliest. Perhaps you've heard of me. My name's
-----The Hourly Report-----
---Copyright 2014 Wil Alambre----
Attention all rogues! This is your up-to-the-minute action report!
Given *on* the hour, *every* hour, by Crime Headquarters!
Reliable sources are indicating that Big Casino will be hosting a
high-stakes poker tournament this weekend. Once-popular celebrities
and a variety talking-heads will be at the tables, all under the
hungry eyes of *live* television cameras. Though the broadcast is
limited to select sports channels, the house is required to have cash
*on hand* to cover all bets made. It's a small-time spotlight and a
good day's haul for any act wanting to make a name for themselves!
Construction continues over on Main Street as city crews repave all
eastbound lanes. This means the normally quick traffic flow has been
reduced to a turtle's crawl... *doubly* so during our city's infamous
rush-hour. Better plan for an alternate escape route, reprobates!
There's opportunities at the harbour! A handful of shipping
containers *chock-full* of high-quality fur coats has just arrived,
and they're waiting to find their way to high-priced storefronts... or
to your secret sanctum! Now, we all know that fur is bulky and hard to
fence, but it's still a *classic* choice for *any* feline-themed
felons out there!
Some of our loyal listeners may have heard of the priceless diamond
on display at the Art Gallery this week. What you may not have heard
is that the diamond is a *fake*! Our hapless police department is
*completely* baffled as to how and when the real gem was filched. All
of us here at Crime HQ send out our congratulations to at least one
nimble-fingered fiend out there!
If you've got car trouble, I've got some timely news for you! One
mechanic has put word out on the street that he'll be taking a limited
number of jobs, all under the table. He's got facilities to handle
tune-ups, conversions, and even some customized bodywork. No
paperwork, no questions, and *cash only*!
Now, tonight's weather report: there's a light rain this evening,
but it'll be clearing up by midnight. Expect a cloudless night with a
bright, full moon. And for you listeners with "skin conditions",
sunrise is at seven thirty one.
And finally, our generous sponsors would like to remind you that
they're holding a *closed-door auction* this Thursday at the usual
haunt. On the docket are several *military-grade* weapons and a small
number of *exotic*, experimental toys. All bidding must be done in
person and there'll be *no* line of credit extended. See you all
This concludes this hour's crime-sheet! Tune in in *sixty minutes*
for more iniquitous updates, courtesy of Crime Headquarters!
-----SEE YOU NEXT MONTH-----
All stories are the copyright of their authors.
All characters are the creations of their authors.
"January 2014, by Messrs. Brenton, Perron & Russell"
by Tom Russell
Eightfold proudly presents its 100th publication, featuring "Open Letter" by Andrew Perron, "Terror of the Tribots!" by Tom Russell, "Beyond the Fields" Part 1 by Saxon Brenton, and "Up To Their Necks In It" by Tom Russell.