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At The Whiskey-A-Go-Go

Max stepped into the room; it was early afternoon and the bar was particularly empty. It didn't tend to pick up until evening when the bands take to the stage. He glanced around and saw an old friend sitting in a booth and sipping Jack Daniels on the rocks. Max could see several cigarettes butted out in the ashtray as well, with several sheets of paper scattered about. 

"Yo, Jimbo" Max said as he approached. He slid into the booth across from him. 

"Max!" the fellow said as he saw his old friend approach him. "What you've been up to?"

"Oh, traveling," Max told him. "You know, like opening doors to here and there."


From The Journal of Suki

Dear Diary,

It's been three days since I was brought into this secret club. A club of warriors, fighters, criminals, madmen (and also madwomen as well). What madness have I gotten myself into? I'm scared, I'm happy, I think I'm in a dream world and will wake up soon as well; but I don't want to!!!

Diary I got to admit this to you. The past three days have been awesome! Terrifying as well, but mostly awesome! We've been studying Norse literature in school, and this got me thinking! 

I think Max is the god Loki in disguise!!! He has to be. I have discovered three things...

wait... gotta go... subway is finally stopping and it looks like it's gonna be a big one.

Will update later.... maybe...


The Selection

"What are we going to call this operation?" Darius wanted to know. "We should give it a cool name... you know, for the files."

Max leaned back in the chair and reached out for a book behind him; he closed his eyes and flipped the book open and stopped at a page. He then put a finger down on the page and then opened his eyes to see what word he had picked.

"Backbone," Max stated.

"Backbone?" Darius questioned. "What kind of a stupid-ass name is that for an assignment?"



He wandered through the city streets, looking for the symbols on the side of buildings. Letting him know where the safe haven was. It'd been three days since he had been here and he was getting to the point where he thought he would be stuck here forever.

Well, it wouldn't be a bad thing, since it was kind of nice here. The coffee was good, the smokes were to die for and the people were friendly. But he missed the adventure, his companions, and most of all he missed her.

"You look lost mister?" someone asked.

"Yeah," he replied. "I am."

"Maybe this will help," the young kid told him, holding up a map of the 'stars'.

Max saw the map that the young girl was holding and he saw the symbols on them and he cracked a huge smile; he glanced up at the heavens and said, "Thank you Universe!"


Rock Breaks Scissors

"Okay, on the count of three," Suki said to him. "Let's do it."

She counted up to three and then produced scissors; Max had brought up rock.

"Damn it," she said. "That's ten in a row! How the hell you do that?"

"It's magic," Max said. "And if I told you then I'd have to send you to another reality!"

"Well, you do that on a daily basis, lunkhead!" she told him.




Page 7 of 122

HENDORS: He walked right past me as if he didn't recognize me.

LAWYER: You mean he ignored you.

HENDORS: Yeah, I guess so.

LAWYER: So what did you do then?

HENDORS: Well, I ran up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. I said, "Max, what the hell is going on with you?" He said, "Sorry fellow but I think you have the wrong person."

LAWYER: And what did you do next?

HENDORS: I kind of stood there shocked. Since I knew this fellow from when we were kids growing up in Queens. He was my best friend. So when he went into the subway station, I followed him. Because I knew that I was right as rain it was him.

LAWYER: And what happened next?

HENDORS: On the platform there were just three others. Max stood there waiting for the subway and I ran up to him and said, "Max it's me, Chet!" And that's when he smiled at me and told me, "I'm not the Max you are looking for."

LAWYER: So what does this incident have to do with...

HENDORS: It was one of the chain of events that led me up to it. Max was always a quiet fellow, though this one it seemed was like.... You ever see that sci-fi show about a man who leaps through time in other physical bodies? I presume it's like that: this version of Max was from another time or place or whatever and had leapt into my Max's body...


Am I?

I am the night
I am the moon
I am the calling of the loon

I am the sun
I am the stars
I am the gasoline in your car

I am Me
I am You
I am the person next to you

I am who I am
That's what I am.

Maggie put the piece of paper back down on the table and glanced around the apartment. There was no sign of Max. He had called her up fifteen minutes ago; his voice had sounded strange and weird, like someone talking in a huge empty room.

She walked into the bedroom and saw that it was made, as if it hadn't been slept in. She noticed the ashtray by the bed had one broken unsmoked cigarette in it.

"Weird," she muttered.

"Weird," a voice echoed back from another room.

Maggie left the bedroom and entered the living room. That's where she saw Taku sitting on his perch in the cage.

"I suppose you don't know what happened here," she asked the parrot.

"Weird," Taku replied back.


The Parcel

"Can you move?" Max asked.

"That I can," Frank replied. He sat up and reached up to take Max's arm.

The box was made from metal, a metal that Goner didn't recognize; it was smooth like silk to the touch and the weight of it was very light. He and Frank had picked it up and a jolt, which looked like lightning, had hit Frank in the chest and sent him flying against the bulkhead. The box dropped but there was a rustling sound coming from within as if something was alive.

"What the hell," Goner said. "Is there something in there?" 

Maggie emerged from the other room when she heard the clatter and her mouth dropped open.

"Is this it?" Max asked her. He had pulled out Pain and Joy and aimed them at the box.

"Sweetie," Maggie said to him as she brushed past him, waving him to put away his children back into their holsters. "Those things wouldn't penetrate its skin, even with the Pope's blessing."



Frank answered his phone. Suki answered her phone. The rain was heavy, the sky dark, cracked with lightning strikes. 

They both hung up at the same time. Looked at each other. 

She's just a kid, Frank thought. She never should have been brought into this mess

He's too old, Suki thought. He shouldn't have to do this kinda stuff anymore

“You first, Suki.” 

“After you, Frank.” 

Thunder. They were soaked. 

“It was Mags,” he said. “She's at the crossroads of Eighth and Tenth. There's an entire horde manifesting there – infernals, oni, yaoguai, vucari – and if we don't get over there to back her up the entire city will fall. Maybe even the planet.” 

Suki nodded. “It was Max. He's at the crossroads of Ninth and Twelfth. All the synchronicities and calculations are showing that the portal is going to open there. If we don't make it in time...” 

“We could be trapped. Or disappear. Or this whole version could disintegrate. Or the next version could collapse.” 

“Can Maggie retreat?” 

“Not an option. Can Max wait?” 

Suki shook her head. Lightning, more thunder. 

Which way do we go? they thought.



It's almost time for the Annual Morningstar Festival of One-Act Plays and the Jones Heights community theatre troupe Noo Media Productions needs a hit. For the last five years they have come in last in the competition, while popular (and well-funded) groups like Legacy Stage or The Angus Mode Players take home the trophies. It's all supposed to be a fun, friendly contest, but it's theatre and that means a lot of feelings and a lot of egos are involved...

So how are NMP looking this year? Well, the Board decided to bring in a first-time Director, Mallory Magrielle. And she decided to mount a production of a notoriously difficult play called 'Maxed to the Third Power'. Will great risk bring great reward? Except that the Set Designer Miguel Rogen and the Costume Designer Charlotte Stang are constantly arguing over what period the story is set in, while the Director refuses to weigh in because she feels that "conflict is essential to the creation of great art". Which has left Suki Fujimoria, the Stage Manager, over-worked and highly stressed - and Suki is known for her temper. No one has seen the Musical Director (and local DJ) Vlad Tiamook in over week; apparently he is furiously remixing the entire soundtrack to a create a "meta-temporal vibe" that will fit with whichever setting wins out, Rogen's or Stang's.

As for the cast... Ms. Magrielle gave the Lead Female role to Jones Heights' only (semi)famous citizen, Marnie Waters, who had a (semi)successful stint as a pop diva. Pandering or a subtle critique of celebrity? And instead of giving the Lead Male role to the long-standing, well-respected, troupe mainstay Frank Thamin - who thought the part could be his Prospero, but will instead be playing the Narrator - Ms. Magrielle cast THREE unknowns. That's right, she's having one character played by three different actors! How exactly Marshal Montgomery, Simon Light and Mick Scribe will split up the dialogue and action remains a closely-guarded secret.

Will opening night bring triumph or tragedy? Rave reviews or farcical folly?




The last time that the drifter they called 'Sugarcube' - some stories said it was his sweet disposition, others involved a penchant for using treats to lure horses away from their rightful owners - had been through Omega Canyon it'd been a quiet, restful place. A good town to find a bit o' work or to lay low if need be, for whatever such reasons as a wanderin' soul with a knack for trouble-makin', or at least trouble-findin', might have. The folk of Omega were welcoming and not likely to inquire, so long as the trouble stayed out o' the Canyon.

But, as is the way of things, the town had changed. A mysterious landowner had moved in and he had brought a lot of two things with him: money and bad intentions. Wasn't long before the man they called Logollos had bent the will and the ways of the Canyon to a murkier, downright poisonous, disposition. So when Sugarcube returned and voiced his distaste with the new cruelties he found in the former haven, well, it led, as it often does, to a showdown in the main street.

Whether Logollos won the draw fair-and-square or whether there was some species o' chicanery involved was a truth kept hidden by the townsfolk. And whether that was outta spite or fear was another mystery in itself. But truth always has its seekers, and mysteries beg to be solved...

And so it was that some weeks after Sugarcube was gunned down in the street that a misfit gang of gunfighters rode into Omega Canyon lookin' to avenge the death of their friend. A bounty hunter, a sheriff, a gambler, a marshal, and a preacher. And, to borrow a phrase, Hell followed with them.


All In The Dice 3

Dan stopped before the next door. He was trembling. "I can't do this. This is ridiculous."

Mark stepped up beside him. "Hey, we've got your back."

Tim said, glancing down at his notes behind the screen, "Alright, so Dex's assist will give you a +2 on your Will save."

"Right on. Thanks Dex," Max said, smiling across the table at his friend as he picked up the 20-sided die.

Angie placed her ear against the old, wooden door. Ran her fingers along the edges to check for any draft.

Wraith said, "I rolled a 7."

Tim said, his voice neutral, "You don't hear anything..."

Darius said, "Tim, I give him the copy of the book - I guess I'm hoping some of the buffs will transfer over to him?"

Chance handed Dan his copy of the Metaplex Role-Playing Game Rule Book. It was Chance's favourite game; he spent hours reading and re-reading it. He always told the rest of the group that, even though it was all made up by the writers from Plureality Studios, that it had a lot of guidance about living in its pages.

"Alright Max, that will be another +3 bonus, with Dex's assist for 2, plus Dan's Meditation skill bonus of 2, for a total of +7. And your target number is... 23."

"I got this," Max said as he rolled the die.

Dan reached forward and opened the door...


All In The Dice 2

Max slid across the tile floor with both guns blazing, bullets flying like carrier pigeons to their new homes. He only had a few more rounds left and he had to make them count.  

Dan looked down at the sheet and he only had 13 rounds left for "Pain" and only 12 for "Joy". 

"So, how many are left in the room?" he asked Tim.

Tim was in the middle of taking a sip from his coffee; he held up his left hand signalling one second.

Wraith popped up her head to do a quick glance and dropped it as soon as bullets began to rain down upon them again.  Control had told them this was a "Milk Run", nothing major was going to happen it was just a "verificaton" check. Boy, did Control get this wrong. 

Angie looked at the graph paper before them; it showed the warehouse they were in and a bunch of x's dotted about it like a football diagram. "From my count there looks to be 16-17 left," she said as she looked up.

"If they were Mooks this would be easy as pie," Dan replied. "But, no, they all have to be Named."

"You know, Dan," Tim said. "We could always play Little Fears."


All In The Dice

Max dropped down from the upper ledge and onto the platform, landing like a cat leaving no sound whatsoever.  He headed for the door and punched in the key code he had been given and the door unlocked and opened. A guard stood there at the door...

"A guard?" Dan asked. He picked up the dice from the table and held them in his hands, glancing down at the character sheet before him. "Shouldn't Max's sixth sense have warned him of the event before the door opened?"

Tim looked up from behind the GM screen and grinned. "He has his back to the door."

Max lifted the butt of the gun to conk the guard on the head but he hit the side of the door.

"FOR FUCK SAKES," Dan said. "A one. Come on, that should of been an automatic hit! I got the surprise on the Mook."


+ PLEX TOURS .7 The Bookstore

There was a lot that Susanna liked about Good Times, Good Tomes

For starters, it subverted the typical tale of small, local, independent businesses being bought up and assimilated by massive chains. In the case of Good Tomes, the building used to belong to LEGACY, one of those vast corporations whose name covered billboards and computer screens throughout the city but no one could tell you exactly what they did. Economic consulting? Technology development? Research? Production? Marketing? They still had dozens of offices and factories but one less than they used to, after that strange night last year when a blackout, a meteor shower and an earthquake had hit the city all in one night. The next day the building had been abandoned. Within a week, after a blitz of renovations, the bookstore had opened. 

Susanna liked the mystery of it all, too. Anyone who knew what (obviously wealthy) entrepreneur was behind the store's launch wasn't talking. Apparently the folks who staffed the place were hired on through a recruiting agency; they all seemed happy with their jobs and well-compensated. The cashiers, clerks, and cleaners were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and gender identities, some had physical disabilities and some were developmentally delayed; diversity was clearly a priority for the owner. It was a welcoming, friendly place. 

She liked the way that they categorized the books on the shelves – not by subject or genre, but by which tarot card the book most reflected. The aisle of The High Priestess might contain fiction by women authors or biographies of female politicians. The aisle of Justice might contain crime fiction or legal texts. The aisle of The Moon might hold books about astronomy or dreams. If you got lost or confused then the staff were sure to help, but the odd layout turned each visit into something of an adventure. 

Not to mention the decor, the music playing softly, the selection of teas and coffees, the comfy chairs. Or the discount that Susanna received because she was a teacher. And the community notice board by the counter was where Susanna had found the ad for the woman she now took guitar lessons from.

Most of all, however, Susanna liked the stories. Not the ones in the hundreds of novels that lined the shelves. The ones that the Book Club told. That was her nickname for them, the odd group of friends who would gather, usually on the second floor, and exchange tales. She was never sure if they were recounting books that they had read (maybe movies they had seen?) or if they were all writers work-shopping their latest ideas, or perhaps even actors rehearsing. And she was never sure when they would meet, but on the days they were here, Susanna would get herself a tea and try and find a chair nearby so she could listen in. 

She had picked up a bit about each member of the Book Club: there was Frank - who was a businessman, Angst – a cheerleader (for a team called the Dragons?), Goner – served in the military, little Suki – still in school, and Max – who seemed most like a writer. How they all knew each other was another mystery. 

A lot of their stories were violent, scary even. Most of them were science fiction. The thing was, Susanna didn't really care for sci-fi stories or violent stories, but there was something about the way that they told them... No matter what the story was about, or even if it didn't always make sense, she always felt it was really about something else. About things like friendship, or feeling lost, about trying to find your way. And there was something about the way that they told their stories, that no matter how weird and wild they were, somehow they sounded like they were true. 

Susanna kept telling herself that one day she would introduce herself to them, ask them if they were accepting members into the Book Club. On the subway ride to and from work she imagined what she would say to them. She imagined what stories she would tell them. 

For now, she listened, like they were music.


Interface Zero

Tatterdemalion's fingers danced over the keyboard. She was inputting code faster than her mind could come up with it.

"Dammit," she muttered.

"What the frak are you doing?" Gabriel 7 inquired.

"It's defragging!" she shot back. "There's only one thing to do!"

"Oh hell no," Gabriel 7 warned her. "You are only a watcher and not a participator!"

Tatterdemalion's fingers touched the screen and then she disappeared, as if she was beamed away by Scottie in that silly old sci-fi show she liked so much.

"Damn," Gabriel 7 swore.  

Crash Dump


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