8FOLD: Mighty Medley # 29, May 2016, by Messrs. Brenton, McClure, Russell, and Stokes

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Thu May 12 04:11:59 PDT 2016

-------------EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS-------------
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-------------- ISSUE # 29    MAY 2016 --------------
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-----------SAXON BRENTON--ADRIAN McCLURE------------
-------------TOM RUSSELL--COLIN STOKES--------------
--------------- Editor, Tom Russell ----------------


"Science-Blades of Terra Alter" Part 1
   by Adrian McClure

It begins here: an epic for our times! Love and loneliness, each three
months at a time. Of an old life and the new, assassins on campus,
Atlan gates, and a Science-Princess.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Part 27
   by Tom Russell

On the deficiencies of your narrator, and the qualities of the source
material. How the Irish invented civilization. Adams finds himself in
Peake's power, and Peake makes a startling discovery.

"Empress of Pages" Part 14
   by Colin Stokes

On the nature of Fn'ordh's prize. Reading between the lines, as it
were. From five, six; from the unwritten, writing. Pleasures of a good

"Beyond the Fields" Part 28
   by Saxon Brenton

The truth about the Green Gloves. A theological discussion turns
heated, leaving Joan no legs to stand on. The secret in Deidre's eyes,

"Letter of Complaint"
   by Tom Russell

Concerning a correspondence, and the vagaries (and limitations) of a
ten-point scale. Don't tell Snake Master.

-----------------THE SCIENCE-BLADES-----------------
-------------------OF TERRA ALTER-------------------
-----------------------Part  1----------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Adrian McClure------------

Elaine woke and found herself still sleeping alone in bed. She’d been
spending most of her days alone now for quite some time. It wasn’t so
bad before, waiting for her husband to come back, but then they’d had
to move and take a new job in a place where she knew nobody. So here
she was.
   It had been so simple at first. She and Jason had met through
fencing back when they were both working on their theses, her in
medieval studies and him in archaeology. She'd known they'd have to
spend a lot of time long-distance-- his interest in studying the
Minoans would take him away for field work. She'd resigned herself to
dealing with that, since he was worth it-- sweet and considerate and
   Then there'd been the earthquake in Crete, caused by Megataur's
attack, and she'd thought for the longest time he was dead. At first
she'd just ignored the whole thing because it didn't feel real--
people she knew didn't get involved with superheroes or supervillains.
Gradually she'd gotten used to the truth that he'd never be back, and
resolved to move on and find someone else.
   And then, three months after the quake, he did come back. The story
he'd told was strange and unbelievable, but no more so than his being
here. He'd fallen into a gate beneath the earth, built by the
Atlanteans, that led to Terra Alter: a funhouse-mirror version of the
world he knew, where magic reigned and science was a secret
underground tradition. There, he'd become a hero and gotten married.
His new wife was Antinea, Science-Princess of New Atlantis. But while
he had his duties as Champion of Terra Alter, he valued his old world
and life too, especially Elaine. So the Atlan gates would take him
between Earth and Terra Alter every three months. And marriages with
more than two people were common there, so he'd come home to ask
Elaine if she wanted to marry him too. She'd agreed, not without some
mixed emotions.
   After five years she'd gotten used to the arrangement. She'd always
have to be vague about what her husband was doing when he was away.
He'd also had to give up teaching most of the time, even though he was
good at it, since he could never stay for a full semester. The old
dean had known about that business after assassins from the School of
Night on Terra Alter had gone after the campus, and let him take a
research position. But then the administration had changed and the new
dean wasn't going to accept vague explanations for someone who'd be
away for long periods of time. So they'd have to move to this school,
which had a not insignificant number of superheroes on its faculty.
   And then there was the loneliness. And while she didn't want to
begrudge him his other life or his happiness, and she was thankful
he'd stayed with her at all, but... While never jealous, exactly, she
was sometimes angry there was a whole part of his life she'd never
understand. She sighed and headed to the living room to do some
crocheting. Like Penelope, she'd taken up weaving.
   There was a knock at the door. Her heart leapt-- could it be her
husband? She opened the door and found it wasn't. It was a woman-- a
foot taller than her, with lustrous dark hair and warm dark eyes,
wearing magnificent red and white robes and a golden crown. It was
   "You're Elaine, aren't you? He's told me a lot about you." Elaine
nodded, not really sure what to say in this situation, especially
since she was still in her pajamas. "As you have no doubt guessed, I
am Antinea, Science-Princess of New Atlantis. Our spouse is missing,
and I need your help..."

--------------SEVEN 'GAINST THEBES------------------
---------------------Part 27------------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell--------------

By the time Hank and Gulliver were done with their spirits, the doctor
was done with his patient. They found Skin of Snake awake, if groggy,
his skin no longer a painful and well-blistered red, but a smooth if
raw pink. The scar along his throat still remained, and rendered him
unable to speak.
   This resulted in considerable consternation, as Hank was most eager
to hear what became of Celine.
   The injun looked at them with an equal amount of consternation on
his own part, and with his right hand wrote with the air on something
he didn't hold in his left.
   "Paper and pencil!" demanded Hank.
   The doctor knew better than to let Hank ask him something twice.
   "The injun can write?" said Gulliver, flabbergasted.
   Skin of Snake looked offended.
   "I didn't mean it like that," said Gulliver. "I can't even read,
and we Irish invented civilization."
   Soon the paper and pencil were produced, and Skin of Snake began
writing it all down. I won't get into every word that he done put
down, mostly because your present narrator drew rather heavy-like from
those pages in drafting his own summary of what transpired that night.
You can probably tell what I took verbatim from the original, and what
I invented, because the good parts were all his, and the clunky parts
all mine. And so across the ages, from my time to his, and to your
time as well, I tip my hat respectful-like.

It won't surprise you none that while all that was going on, Adams
found himself manacled to a wall in Peake's workshop.
   "I ain't afeared of dying, you know," said Adams.
   "Yeah?" said Peake. "Well, pretty soon you'll be afeared of living."
   Adams shrugged, the effect of which was somewhat muted by the
constriction of his arms in his present circumstances.
   "You're going to scream," said Peake. "You're going to cry and rent
your hair and you're going to beg for death, but it's gonna be a long
time coming."
   "I might," said Adams. "Hurt a man, and he's sure to holler. Maybe
I will beg you to kill me, like I was a broken man. Don't mean it's
true. Don't mean that I mean it in my heart, and that I'm broken for
   "It don't need to be true," said Peake. "You're still going to say
it, and I'm still going to hear it, and that's good enough for me. You
think you're so slick with your pretty words. Words are words are
words. And that's all they are. That's the problem with you johnnies.
You speak your flowery words. You say that in your hearts, you were
unconquered. But Atlanta burned and Lee turned tail just the same. You
lost just the same."
   "Ned Strife still got your knife in his belly," said Adams. "That's
good enough for me."
   Peake screamed and there was a flash of steel. A thick, jagged slab
of skin hung bloody and pulpy from Adams's left arm.
   "Oh, that does smart," said Adams. "Oh Lord, Oh Lord, it does. But
methinks you're getting a little sloppy, Peake. This ain't your best
work. What's the matter? You lose that famous precision?"
   Peake turned his back on Adams. When he turned back around, he was
holding a bullet. The bullet. "You said you were gonna kill me with
this. But here we are. Words are words are words. And it's your injun
friend that's..."
   For the first time since they got down here, Peake looked at the
husk strung up next to Adams. "Redskin's gone," said Peake in surprise
as he felt the insides. He looked down and saw the mark on its ankle.
>From his butcher's block, he picked up the fake Celine and looked at
its ankle. He laughed. There was something broken in that laugh. He
put the bullet back down on the table, and turned to Adams. "Now," he
said, "you will tell me where he is."

---------------- EMPRESS OF PAGES ------------------
----------------------Part 14-----------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Colin Stokes--------------

"And you don't even know what exactly it does?" the Librarian
inquired, dubiously.
   Fn'ordh's lips compressed into a thin line of frustration. "No one
does, save the Jade Throne; but it is surely our best chance at
quickly turning the tables." He had spent the last several minutes
explaining his exploits to the lady while she looked through the five
volumes and their confusing script, occasionally asking for
clarification on some point but mostly just taking it all in. Her eyes
might not have been that gleaming gold color, but Fn'ordh could sense
the fearsome machinery working behind them nevertheless.
   "I do love a good book," she mused after a moment with the hint of
a smile in her voice, "even if it hides behind a veil of obfuscation I
must first pierce." A soft click-hiss sounded in stereo from beneath
the Librarian's jumpsuit, and a host of thin and delicate wires snaked
out from her shoulders, lifting up all the books at once and
suspending them before her, Fn'ordh watching from the side. "This is
too much for me to handle alone, however."
   But you're never alone, are you, Librarian? Fn'ordh didn't say, shivering.
   =Fortunately,= the fused voice continued, the brunette's eyes
flaring golden once more, =data processing and manipulation are my
specialty.= The wires started flipping pages all at once - forward,
mostly, then backward in some books. The original cross orientation
was rotated, then rotated again, then back partially to make an X
instead. Then a horizontal line. Then a pentagon. All while the pages
turned, faster and faster, back and forth, too much for Fn'ordh to
track or even comprehend, so much that he was forced to look away for
a moment.
   And when he turned his head back, all was silence and the books
rested on the floor in a T shape, closed. He looked over at the
Librarian's face, and saw the glow of success shining from her
features; and so the daemon waited.
   =Perhaps /now/ that title becomes me,= the golden-eyed lady mused
quietly, the picture of serenity as she retrieved an odd-looking cable
from the wall using one of her wires and plugged it into a small
receptacle recessed into the floor. With that deliciously sharp, sweet
scent, a hexagon of cold white light appeared around the books, which
then started to themselves gleam after a moment.
   Fn'ordh's eyes widened as all five opened, each to its back page -
without the touch of wires this time - and the writing within started
to vanish, right to left, bottom to top, as if being unwritten. And as
this was happening, the ghostly outline of a sixth, much larger volume
appeared in the air, solidifying more with every vanished letter or
number or symbol. "Title?"
   The final pages unwrote themselves, and the lady snatched the fully
constructed tome before it fell, its covers and bindings a dull
grayish metal and something the daemon couldn't quite read written in
forest green letters on the front. =Merely a replacement for
'Librarian',= she returned with a small smile, =which seems...
unimpressive. But now, I think, I have /properly/ become the Empress
of Pages.=
   "Empress," Fn'ordh repeated, not quite sure how to take this, and
looked at the woman again - the laborer's clothing she wore, her
messy, unstyled hair, her face smudged with grease. That face, shining
with those golden eyes, sharp enough to pierce anything; the patches
of silver and carbon-black in place of flesh on her arms, with the
threat of those wires ready to come bursting out at any time; and most
of all, the massive tome gripped in one gloved hand, the tome that was
almost certainly what he thought it was, and had never dreamed he'd
see in person, much less reconstructed before his very eyes.
   The daemon inclined his head respectfully. "Empress."
   With a bright, almost avaricious smile, the Librarian- no, the
Empress scanned the cover's green script. =You said this was the Tome
of Royal Lineage, yes?=
   "So I understand," Fn'ordh returned, taking a seat on the metal
platform where he had appeared after the summons. It had the summon
circle of his true name permanently engraved in its surface; he wasn't
quite sure how to feel about that. "I can think of nothing else that
would be in the vault."
   =That is not the name of this book,= she returned with a smile that
just seemed to get wider and wider as she flipped slowly through the
pages, taking her time. =This is the 'Capsule World Manual', and it
contains far more than a list of true names - though I suspect that
may be found easily enough, once I master what you have given me. You
see, Fn'ordh,= the Empress continued, closing the volume with the soft
squeaking of its metal bindings, =I hold the very keys to the
Underworld in my hand now; all I require is the lock in which to use
   The daemon's eyes widened. "All of this you can tell from a glance?"
   =As I said, I /do/ love a good book,= she replied with a quiet
laugh. =And at last, I have the opportunity to study a most
/fascinating/ one.=

-----------------BEYOND THE FIELDS------------------
---------------------Part 28------------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Saxon Brenton-------------

   The other-dimensional horror masquerading as a man glanced again at
the angel that was contained within the force field. Obergruppenfuhrer
Dane's face grew hard, and he mocked: "Yes, the Many Angled Ones are
that old. Old enough to remember when your YahwehAllahChrist was just
one of the seventy sons of El Elyon, your original creator god, rather
than pretending to be him."
   Joan began to spit out a heated reply, but the Man With The Green
Gloves dismissed her with a blast of raw power casually shot from one
hand. Deidre instinctively threw herself to one side. Joan took the
blast full on and was thrown back against force box with a bone
crunching sound, one arm and both of her legs vaporised away. Deidre
fought down her gag reflex against the smell of burning meat, and
looked away. So she was looking at the Man With The Green Gloves and
saw what happened next.
   The Man With The Green Glove's eyes were hard as he continued, "And
we are not impressed with the self-aggrandisement and mythologising of
your tribal religion." Then Dane's eyes flickered back across the room
to Marcus Oustler, and there was the hint of a triumphant smile...
   Just in time to be blown away as Oustler cut down the senior
Reichsmage with his own power blast.
   .oO( That was impulsive of him, ) thought Deidre. But on the other
hand there would probably never have been a better time to attack him
with an ambush. Then she caught sight of Marcus casually adjusting a
pair of green gloves that he had not been wearing a few seconds ago,
and a number of pieces of information fell together. Demons and
possession and multidimensional Lovecraftian abominations.
   Dane had not been a man wearing green gloves. The Many Angled One
was a pair of green gloves that had been wearing a man!
   The Man With The Green Gloves had enough time to give a cursory
inspection of the smoking remains of his previous host before the
kitchen door burst open and a small number of Schultzstaffel soldiers
entered with guns drawn. Oustler calmly gave them a password that they
had arranged in advance, clearly in preparation for just such an
instance of body theft. The sergeant in charge saluted him in return.
   Along with the soldiers came the Hund that had pursued Joan and
Deidre back in the crowded New Years streets of Berlin, and for the
first time Deidre was able to get a proper look at the hulking
   It was a heavy set creature that reminded Deidre of the terror dogs
from the original Ghostbusters movie, impossibly agile despite its
bulk. Its bestial face also retained an unmistakable resemblance to
Lee Ardock, the human it had once been.
   The Man With The Green Gloves saw Deidre's look of horrified
surprise.  "You know Herr Ardock?" he asked with amused interest.
   "He was supposed to be back on Earth," said Deidre. "He kept
interfering, so we stranded him back home, where he'd be safe."
   "And yet here he is.  He obviously followed you, somehow. And once
he was here, he was so helpful in supplying information about you and
your angel companion, that it would have been a shame not to recruit
him into helping us further."
   Deidre's legs gave way beneath her as she buckled backwards against
the force field wall immediately behind her, then slowly slid into a
crumpled sitting position on the floor. Her face was a mask of horror
and despair.
   The Man With The Green Gloves watched this, then briskly turned
away, happy with the warm inner glow of a job evilly done but restless
to move on. More fool him. Deidre had never mastered the art of being
able to properly dilate her pupils when she pretended to go into shock
or fear, and so the Man With The Green Gloves missed the sign that she
as faking it.
   "Prepare to move out," the Man With The Green Gloves told the
sergeant. "The operation has been a success. In fact, better than I
had anticipated," he added, flexing one hand and generating a glow of
power around the resulting fist.
   That did not sound good. Not considering what the plans of the Many
Angled Ones entailed, thought Deidre as they group marched out.
   Once they were gone, Deidre turned to Joan's still smouldering body
and said, "Okay, they're gone. Let's compare notes. I've thought of
one, maybe two ways to deal with this. Do you want me to kill you?"

---------------LETTER OF COMPLAINT------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell--------------

April 18, 2016
Potts Trading Card Company
New York, NY 10108

Dear sir or madam:

   Lobsterman writing to express outrage regarding events which only
recently come to Lobsterman attention. Lobsterman referring to
Lobsterman card in your 1994 Black Capes Collectable Trading Cards
set. Lobsterman card number 84 in series for your reference. Card
riddled with inaccuracies and Lobsterman seeking redress.
   First, Lobsterman not seven feet tall. Lobsterman seven feet and
two inches. Also, Lobsterman eyes not brown. Lobsterman eyes hazel.
Lobsterman very sensitive about Lobsterman eyes. This is not big deal
for Lobsterman; these things happen. Lobsterman understand.
   But Lobsterman really upset about power ratings. On scale of one to
ten on card, Lobsterman strength is six? Lobsterman think you will
find Lobsterman power is eight, easy, maybe even nine. You ask anyone
who fight Lobsterman. They say, Lobsterman eight, Lobsterman not six.
Ha! That is them laughing because you say Lobsterman is six.
Lobsterman laughs too. Ha!
   Lobsterman not laughing about intelligence. On card, Lobsterman
intelligence is three. Lobsterman very hurt by this. Shows card-man
does not really know Lobsterman. Card for Snake Master is four.
Lobsterman smarter than Snake Master! Snake Master big dummy!
Lobsterman not Einstein, but Lobsterman at least five. Lobsterman
knows how to use semicolon; Snake Master not even use punctuation at
all. Lobsterman civilized, with expressive prose style. Lobsterman
intelligence not three, card-man.


Earbox Super Security Prison

April 26, 2016

Dear Lobsterman:

   We received your letter of April 18, and wish to express our
sincere apologies regarding the factual errors in our 1994 set. You
may be pleased to hear that your height and eye-color were corrected
in the 1997 set, as we had discovered that errata during an in-house
   Regarding the power ratings, it is an admittedly imperfect system,
and highly subjective. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we
need to account for everyone from King Kudzu (rated 1 in strength) to
Devil Prince Satanor (rated 10). On that scale, a six is very
respectable, and certainly a force to be reckoned with. If we were to
raise you to an eight as you suggest, the rating for Satanor would
need to be increased to at least fourteen, which renders the ten-point
scale unworkable.
   Similarly, please be assured that we meant no insult regarding your
obvious and considerable intellectual capabilities. Einstein, who you
mention in your letter, would likely rate only a five himself, as he
is hardly the All-Knowing Over-Brain. Your point about Snake Master is
well taken, and his rating will be revised to 2 in next year’s set.
(Please do not tell Snake Master this.)
   Thank you for writing to express your concerns. We hope that we
have shed some light on the subject. I hope you understand where we
are coming from.
   Incidentally, I find your prose to be refreshingly elegant and direct.


Peter Potter
Potts Trading Card Company

-----------------SEE YOU NEXT MONTH-----------------

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