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C2IP: The Agenda War I

Previously in v.Western...


It was a dark time for Omega Canyon.

A year had passed since The Incident at Judgement Grotto. The rumours about what had happened far outnumbered the facts and the townsfolk were content to let the tales be, as if telling them was like to summon trouble. 

While the certainties about what had transpired in the graveyard that night - and about how it had led to the ranch of a mysterious horsebreeder being burned down - were few, there were some details about what followed that were plainly agreed upon.

Logollos and his corrupt ways were gone. Driven out or shot down, folks wouldn't offer a guess either way. He wasn't missed.

The lawman Dexter Washington had given up his badge and taken up residence in the Canyon, opening a small schoolhouse.

The marshal Wednesday Wraith had also unpinned her star and become a part-owner of the local printing press. She had began publishing a newspaper.

Callan Lokk had won The Hanged Man Saloon in a card game, kept the original owner in his employ, and given up gambling.

A new graveyard had been fenced-off and consecrated - the final act of the priest Darius Angelus before he disappeared.

The last of the strangers who had ridden into town the day before The Incident had also disappeared, the bounty hunter Mags Magenta. 

Those were the handful of facts but out of the many, many rumours one was generally considered to be true: that when the grave of the strange drifter Sugarcube had been opened that mysterious night it was not his body they found inside.

However odd, The Incident and what came of it had actually changed the fortune of the Canyon for the better. The reversal of that fortune, and the cause of the current troubles, began shortly after when the Office of Frontier Affairs arrived and announced the discovery of oil in the land surrounding Omega...

to be continued


Chronoplex: Domino

She handed her phone to Yuri.

"If I'm not back in an hour call the number saved on the screen."

"Okay gramma."

They'll be fine, she lied to herself.


Less than five minutes up the path she saw the first marking, a sigil carved into the trunk of a tree.

She remembered.


The next sigil was scraped onto a rocky outcropping where the path took a sharp curve. She glanced back but couldn't see where the car was parked through the veil of trees.

She looked back at the sigil.


Twenty minutes in and the sun was going down. The third sigil still caught her eye though, scratched into the dirt. She wondered if other hikers had noticed the markings, what they might mean to them.

It reminded her of a clock.


She almost didn't notice the last one. Blamed that on the twilight and her aged eyes. She had stopped to have a smoke and realized that the branches of the tree she was leaning against had been woven into a pattern.

Patterns, art, clues.


She knew the next one would be the last one.


In The Writer's Room

"What do you mean they are giving us another season?" Brad said. He entered the room and tossed a briefcase on the table. "We wrapped everything up in that two hour finale in May! Now they want us to continue on?"

Allison sat at the table and glanced at the white board up on the wall; they were brainstorming ideas for another season to see what they could come up with. She was afraid to put forth the idea she'd been wanting to run ever since they shot it down in Season Three.

"I wished the network would of given us a heads-up," Brad stated. "Freakin' Morley moved on over to the Ultra-Men series after. They snapped him up like that."

"Ultra-Men also hired Angst as a recurring character as well this season," Benjamin added.

Benjamin was tapping the pen in his hands on a pad of paper. He had written: 

Season 12 ideas:
  • Max travels across the land with a dog.
  • The Ark of the Covenant is found in an attic.
  • Maggie discovers who her mysterious benefactor truly is.
  • Introducing a new character: Oliver Cousins!  No... not that.
  • A musical episode where everyone sings?
  • Frank is killed. Again. And brought back as a demon. --- nope, nope, nope.
  • Introducing the Soda Wars.


Synchroplex: Real Problems Gather for the Regular Playing Group

Tim said, "I'm really sorry to hear that."

Dexter said, "Please don't take it personally, my friend. I've loved every minute I've sat at this table."

"You've been a great addition to the group, Dex. Congratulations though! Getting accepted to university is a big deal."

"I'm excited. And nervous. I've always wanted to get out of this town, but I'll miss it at the same time."

"I get it. It's complicated."

Dex smiled. "Very. Very 'metaplex' as Max would say. Not being able to game is another downer."

"There will always be a seat for you here and the coffee will always be on."


"So, what are you going to do with Frank then?" Wednesday asked.

Tim winked. "Now that would be telling. Actually, since Frank is Dexter's character I'm going to let him decide, and I will adjust the campaign around that."

"This is maybe a bad time to bring it up, but... Well, it looks like my promotion might be going through."

"That's great news!"

"Except it means I will be travelling every other weekend..."


"So we may have to figure out a reason for Angst to be missing every other session... If you think that would even work?"

"We'll make it work somehow."


Callan sighed. "I suppose I wonder if it all still works. The overall story, I mean. If Frank gets written out, and Angst only appears occasionally... Maybe it's time we start a new campaign?"

"But what happens to Goner and Suki then? Are you tired of playing Goner?" Tim asked.

"Not at all. The new cyborg angle has been really interesting. But how many changes can you make to a story before it doesn't make sense anymore?"

"Games aren't stories, though."

Callan smiled. "And we're back to the central question, aren't we? When we get together every Saturday night what exactly are we doing? Playing a game or telling a story?"

"Or is it a magical ritual, as Max would say?"


Tim sipped at his coffee. "So it comes down to you, Darius. Dexter's leaving, Wednesday's only going to be able to play half as often, and Cal is having some doubts about the story continuing. What do you think? Keep going with the adventures of Goner and Suki and sometimes Angst? Start a new game?"

Darius sipped at his coffee. "Actually Tim, I have some news..."


Holy Daze

Previously on the Holidays...


(And a Shout Out to the H247 Dragons who are keeping watch over crisis transmissions during the ritual time)


Paraplex: Archival

The third punch knocked the heavy metal door off its hinges. After the clanging, silence. Some oddly coloured vapours drifted from the dimly lit room. Strange smelling too but since the Upgrade toxins didn't seem to affect her anymore.

She was here to try and understand how and why the Upgrade had happened. She was here to try and learn what was happening to Max, if he was having another breakdown or if everyone else was or both.

A man named Marshal had texted her this location. She thought she recognized the name but couldn't be sure. Couldn't be sure if her memories of being a secret operative throughout history were real or just TV shows she had watched once. Had she always been like this or was this something Max had done to her?

Stepping into the chamber. 

Six suspension-tanks. Not unlike the ones she and Max had climbed out of in the Atlantis base one of the first times they had met. I think I was blonde then. She couldn't make out the figures floating inside them but each one had a digital screen.

Riveta - Status Unknown

Stone - Version Indigo

Scorpio - Version Elephant Tiger

Mayganne - Version Sting Ray

Donnelly - Signal Lost

Susanna - Signal Corrupted

That made her feel sad. She had vague, dream-like memories of a woman with that name who took care of her at a time she was lost and alone and hurting.

Beyond the tanks and the clusters of wires and tubing that fed into them were four doors. Each had a label.





Maggie suddenly felt afraid.


Max Not Max

Germany, 1977.

The stage was set for the band to hit, Max was sitting at the bar sipping a lager and tapping out a cigarette from the Morley Brand smokes he kept in his pocket. It was the end of summer, a hint of fall was in the air but that didn't matter at all when you were deep indoors a pub that was underground.

"Ein anderes?" the comely bartender asked him.

"Ich werde eine andere," he replied as he glanced at his watch. His contact was late.

He didn't know when he picked up German but he presumed it was all part of the package deal. The words sounded strange and foreign to his ears but it conveyed his answer. He didn't know who this contact was and why he was supposed to meet them here. His brain was a hazy fog of jumbled memories and strange flashbacks as well.

He felt like Jason Bourne but then he remembered that couldn't be right since 'The Bourne Identity' was written in 1980. That was three years from now. Why did he know this?

There was a sound of high heels on the hardwood floor approaching and he turned to see who was coming and then he realized...


Hyperplex: Battle Part Two

Shortly after the Dragons began infiltrating the Museum the building came under attack from a LEGACY tactical team. A furious three-way battle erupted.

The Ashen Tradition deployed their psycho-theurgic toxins, transforming infected LEGACY soldiers into ravenous human-beast hybrids that turned on each other.

LEGACY operatives fired swarms of nano-enhanced smart-rounds that used echolocation-sensors and micro-fluid architecture to course-correct in mid-flight and track their targets.

Aqua, safe in the armour of her Mech, alternated pulses of autonic energy to disrupt the AT toxin fields and quantum-chaff to destabilize the trajectories of the LEGACY munitions.

Goner fired bursts of energy from his upgraded arm and Angst evoked designer combat-spirits from Liminal Space.

And Mags jumped into the middle of it all, punching and throwing and kicking.

From the shadows, Frank scanned the minds of the Tradition Mages and the LEGACY Agents, infiltrating their psychic defences like a ninja or occasionally smashing through their conditioning like a tank.

He learned that the source of intel that had tipped off the Ultraviolet Lodge to the Tradition's portal was someone they had pegged for a System operative. Which suggested that the Tradition were in sync with Counter... Except that more hidden thoughts revealed that the Tradition had been pointed to the Hyperplex by another operative who also seemed to be serving System. And that same operative appeared to be the one who leaked the Tradition's plan to LEGACY.

Was one of the leaks actually a Counter agent? Or had the System set all of this up as a trap for the Dragons? Or did they want the Dragons to reach the Hyperplex?


An Addenda

Sheet of paper found on the floor of an abandoned business:

Addenda To Joint Report 

I met Max Cube, editor of Metaplex Magazine, in Copley.  He is a very knowledgeable fellow and has a huge reference of science fiction and fantasy novels.  I also believe, that he was the ghost writer of several episodes of  Morganfokker's Follies as well. Though, he would not admit to it and just alluded to the possibility.  Max mentioned to me that he was currently working on a science fantasy novel with an interesting concept and left it at that. 


Manaplex: Merlin

My teacher of Magic, the ancient multi-dimensional wizard from legend. An older man with brown hair and a beard, typically in robes, sometimes in a suit. Occasionally gruff and bossy and harsh and demanding. Wise and very smart. Knows much lore. Able to fashion magic objects. 

Lesson of the Key, Lesson of the Staff, Lesson of the Amulet, Lesson of the Scroll*

Role: guides during magical work for self and others. Provides knowledge and inspiration and technical expertise. Motivates and inspires and teaches.

Feelings: reasonable, urgency, frustration, authority, clarity

Conditions: working on design ideas, talking about magical work or therapeutic work

Symbols: staff

Signs: voice and language tone

Abilities: casting spells, designing rituals, analyzing patterns, teaching lessons and mysteries, teaching techniques, binding demons, naming spirits, recognizing omens and signs

Blessing: useful and creative and energizing

Curse: lack of compassion, overly technical

Tools: staff – will, secondary appraisal, detachment, direction



The floor was hard and cold; it was the colour of an overcast sky. His head ached, a dull throbbing pain which seemed to echo inside his skull. Probably due to the gun butt that had struck him there. His eyes spotted the shiny black boots before him, so polished to perfection that he could see his reflection in them.

"Who are you?" the voice asked.

He didn't answer.

"Who are you?" the voice asked.

He didn't know what to say so he kept quiet.

"Who do you work for?"

He sat up and looked at the crisp, clear figure before him. Noticing that his hands were shackled before him.

"Your mom," he replied.

That's when the stranger's boot kicked him.


Ultraplex: Assessment

"Max! Focus!" the voice shouted.

Max was flipping through the nineteen folders. He was confused; they were filled with looseleaf pages of handwritten notes and pieces of graph paper covered with hand-drawn maps.

"Okay, let's talk about another time when you did choose to intervene."

A file folder appeared on the table in front of Max with symbols on it that Max couldn't decipher.

He flipped open the folder and scanned the documents inside.

[Halogrhin Excerpt]

"The records on your actions in World: Halogrhin are, of course, spotty. Are you able to give us any insight into the process by which you and the Dragons became aware of the threat, the means by which you access the -"

Max interrupted. "Can I get a coffee? I need a coffee. How much longer is this going to take?"

A different voice (was that three now?) shouted: "Mr. Montgomery, you are in no position to -"

Max interrupted again. "It's math! It's just math alright. You identify the risks and you identify the protections. If there's more of the former than the latter we go. We help. That's all. No big secret, no complex magic formula. We're variables in an equation. We don't care where the monster came from, unless learning that helps us kill it. We don't care what the monster wants unless that helps us kill it. We show up, kill the monster, balance the equation, and then we're gone."

The Prefalta folder, the Halogrhin folder and the nineteen other folders were gone. There were five new folders on the table.

One of the voices said, "We understand that you want it to be that simple. That the 'equation model' allows you to compartmentalize the work you do in the Ultraplex and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. But is it really so straightforward as 'balancing the math'? How does that explain these records?"


Psychoplex: The Hanged Man


The Hanged Man arcana functions as a symbolic map of my experiences of being both bound to the world and apart from it. The Tree represents the world, both physically and experientially, all the branches and roots are the repeating fractal patterns of possibility. The world is diverse and complex, strong and vital, but the Hanged Man is bound to it, not climbing it but also not cutting it down. So he has access to it all but isn’t free to leave or fly away. He is also inverted, so even though he has direct contact with the world he experiences it from a distorted or reversed way, seeing first the roots rather than the branches, always forced to understand the tangled web of causes that grow all the effects. From his position the Hanged Man can look out and up at the stars, other worlds, but cannot reach them. His binding is a prison but a ritual one, because the inversion and sacrifice are what gives him this special vision – he can see more than the tangled branches and rough bark. He is trapped between worlds but has access to both. A constant liminal magical state. But he can’t easily act in either world.

How It Feels To Hang

* feeling suspended between worlds

* not understanding the nature of reality, of events surrounding me, their causes and effects

* unable to extrapolate a course of action because I want to act towards a type of truth but I’m not sure what it is

* no sense of ground, of a foundation to make decisions and judgments from

* seeing extreme possibilities, even contradictory versions of events and interactions, leaves me unsure which way to move, which way to respond

* In this sense I am bound to the world > I can’t act only from my own wishes, desires, needs – I need to have feedback, validation, harmony with the way (I think) the world works

* Feeling hanging at the edge of the Otherworld – total fantasy, delusion, magic, dream, madness, imagination > unable to float away because of my need/desire to find truth, my doubt, skepticism, my sense of responsibility

* Feeling deep philosophical uncertainty about my experiences and perceptions


Omniplex: CD Four

The Passion of the Cube
The Original Soundtrack for the Mind

(interior artwork: Max engaged in a fierce gun battle, firing Joy and Pain at unseen enemies. Caption: 'COMING SOON')

Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
Go Home Productions - Beatleg Bootles Part 1
Nicknack - Crystal's Better Tomorrow
Dropbass - Big beat mania
Jx - Fark the Farking Rohypnol (Blacksmoke vs Prodigy Mix)
djbc - Golden Peace Frog
DJ Tripp - Spin Me Harder
Jirob - Wheres Your Talking Head At
Instamatic - GodLife
Lenlow - Chocolate Cake
Laptop Orchestra - Plastic Orchestra
Jet Set Willy - Failed Weekamix
Lenlow - Vegas Baby
London Symphony Orchestra - Hey Joe


C2IP Update.3

Marshal stepped into Mick's apartment. He had used a Neo-Linguistic Programming technique from a library book to convince the superintendent to give him access. Mick had only disappeared a few days ago but somehow there was already a thick layer of dust coating every surface, almost like ash. 

The kitchenette was a mess of take-out packaging. The living room was a ruin of videogame cases and controllers (many smashed in rage), cigarette butts, CD cases, sketches and hand-written poetry.

In the small bedroom (just a sleeping bag on the floor) Marshal found the map Mick had been working on, pages pasted to the wall with lines and circles connecting them, a shot straight out of a conspiracy movie. It was the outline for Mick's next novel. 

Marshal had read Illiciterati and Evanjaculist and had been eagerly awaiting Mick's newest book. Except he had been having all these strange dreams and when he performed his ritual meditations to Odin and Merlin the gods had been telling him that something more was happening, that Mick was involved in something deeper. Then Marshal had started having these really potent daydreams at work, imagining uncovering a covert war between something called The System and a group calling themselves Counter, and it was all connected to Mick's writing. The dreams and visions and daydreams became more and more intense until he was compelled to come here...

One page was titled 'Chronoplex'. The name 'Suki', 'version GrownUp?', 'version Grandma?'. 'Project Realtime?'. 'Can we access the Missing Season?'. 'Can we learn what happened during the Millennium Incident?'.

Another page labelled 'Paraplex'. 'So what happened to the Initiated Dragons?'.

The next: 'Ultraplex'. 'Are these reports that the Counter-System was broadcasting? Or are they made up? Propaganda or just fiction?'.

'Hyperplex'. 'The Plureality Dragons Upgraded'. 'The Diner Dragons?', crossed out. 'Darius?', circled and crossed out.

'Omniplex'. 'Art, journals, music, RPGs?'. 'Project Horizon?'.

'Synchroplex'. A list of dates.

'Manaplex'. Mostly illegible. 'New job?' circled. 'Project Ellipses?'.

And in marker, scrawled over many of the pages: 'BETRAYAL'.

Marshal had no idea what any of it meant but could feel that it somehow explained everything.

He also noticed a copy of a magazine on the floor. Profile Celebrations. The cover story was about a man named Vlad Akimoto. Marshal scanned the article:

International fitness business empire mogul. Founder of "The Timeless Warrior" training regime, based on ancient lost arts of body purification through testing one's physical limits, combined with the introduction into your healthy diet of designer herbal infused beverages. Proposed by some in the fashion industry that Akimoto was the father of the "hipster" movement. Rumoured a) to be majority owner in the up and coming "Citadel" independent music label, b) to have founded the online "Barbarian" clothing line which specializes in custom design t-shirts, c) to own a number of fashionable craft beer eateries in Tokyo, St Petersburg and Munich.

Why was Mick researching this guy?


The Battle for the Hyperplex Part One: E.S.P.ionage

The intel indicated that the Ashen Tradition was seeking a powerful relic called The Hyperplex.

Collateral information referenced the Hyperplex in contradictory fashion; sometimes it was described as a Staff, others a Chalice, sometimes a Sword and, of course, a Disc. Max had lots of ideas about what the Hyperplex could be, what it might mean, how it might relate to the other Plexes they were learning about; he was the idea guy, after all. 

The rest of the team knew that ideas were important but sometimes not as important as taking action. So Max hunkered down to try and figure things out and the other Dragons went to work.

Angst learned from a contact in the Ultraviolet Lodge that the Tradition had a large-scale portal operation running in a secret sub-basement of the local Museum. 

Frank conducted some psychic eavesdropping on people entering and exiting the Museum; he confirmed that the portal was indeed active but could not determine where it led to. 

Goner was able to hack the Museum's security and Angst was able to counter the protective wards that the Tradition had set up. 

They had put the call out to Aqua and to Maggie, anticipating that things would likely get hostile once they made a move on the portal. 

When the team gathered, after a few minutes of warm reunion, they prepared to enter the Museum...


Miles To Go

The kids had finally fallen asleep, sprawled on the motel bed. She had let them watch a late night talk show and snack on candy bars from the vending machine. Yeah, maybe she was going a bit soft. 

Suki stepped out the door but left it open a crack so she could still hear the cute little snores. Scanned the parking lot. She had started learning counter-surveillance habits when she had been roughly the same age as Yuri and Hira; she wondered if she should start teaching them.

Lightning flashed in the dark, still miles away.

She lit a cigarette and took out her phone. The screenshot was a selfie of her and Olivia from... seven years ago? A few less wrinkles. Olivia was kissing her on the cheek and Suki was frowning, pretending to be irritated, but her eyes betrayed her, the sparkle in them. Suki suddenly missed her so bad it felt like a bullet in her heart. Actually, Suki knew what that felt like and this was worse. Just to brush her fingers across her cheek...

She shoved the phone back in her pocket and took another drag.


Spilling Milk

Mags Qute looked up from the book she was reading and over at Axie and waited for him to speak. His bright blond hair stood up in messy tufts as the sun streaked through the dark room. Providing light in the abandoned house.

"We've been here for three days now," she stated. Or has it been longer? Placing the tome on the table as she reached for the coffee. "When do we move again?"

Haven't we moved already?

Axie glanced at her and smiled. He had been sharpening his knife on a whetstone. "As soon as Franz and Loner return."

"Maybe they got captured?" Mags stated. They've been captured already, we know they have, so what are we doing here? Back here? "Then what do we do?"

"I guess we can cry over the spilled milk then," he replied.

No, not again...


What was that Barthes' essay about killing writers?

When they came for him none of his neighbours were surprised. 

For years Mick had been a 6.6-on-the-Richter-scale nuisance in the building. Loud music, loud video-games, loud movies, loud shouting at various gods and goddesses. Aileeza, the tenant in 2B ("Or not to be!" Mick would always shout at her when they passed in the hallway) would often point out that his whole shtick was a knock-off of that character in Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan. The other tenants didn't get the reference but they got the fact that Mick hated Warren Ellis and therefore hated the comparison, and they took some pleasure in that. Petty maybe, but they had endured and were entitled to some small retributions.

Evicting Mick wasn't an option, despite it being a cause that would have unified Democrat and Republican, Israeli and Palestinian, Team Angel and Team Spike. Mick's residency was secured due to the funding agreements as arranged by the local Arts Council and the local Mental Health Agency. Mick's presence was what kept the rent so low and ensured the other tenants could continue living there. 

"'There is no war, there is only the Dalang!'" Mick would shout about the way he both embodied and transcended the dualities of the situation, to which Aileeza would point out that he was only quoting Grant Morrison, another comic writer whom Mick rather liked but nevertheless resented being accused of imitating (although he most certainly was).

And so it had continued until the day it stopped. When they finally came for him. The other tenants weren't sure exactly who 'they' were, or what Mick had done to finally warrant apprehension - for all his sound and fury he never signified anything actually violent. 

Of course he did a fair bit of shouting as the men and women in nondescript clothing (the kind of outfits that operatives in those Bourne movies always wore) took him away in their black SUV. 

"I fucking made Max! He's nothing without me! If I had never taken that assignment for Opi8 he'd still just be a figment of your fucking imaginations! And who do you think has protected him all this time? Do you have any fucking clue how hard it is for him to even be in the world? If I hadn't kept all you assholes distracted with my rants and my jokes you would have seen right through him and he'd be thrice as fucked as he already is! So you thinking you're helping Max? You're fucking killing him!"

Three or four days later the tenants began commenting to each other on how unsettling the quiet was.


CD Two

Max Cube vs The Interdimensional 
Corporate Mofo's
The Soundtrack

(interior artwork: Max suspended upside-down in the position of The Hanged Man from Arcana 12 of the Tarot in front the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah, with the Sephirot replaced by popular icons: Keter = Yin-Yang, Binah = Radioactive, Hokhmah = Watchmen clock, Gevurah = The Invisibles' blank badge, Hesed = The Bat-signal, Tiferet = Peace symbol (on Max's shirt), Hod = Warning sign, Netzah = Crosshairs, Yesod = X-men symbol, Malkhut = Happy Face)

Track 01: ReFlex - The Politics of Dancing
Track 02: Crystal Method - Comin' Back
Track 03: Rolling Stones - Shattered
Track 04: Cardigans - Erase Rewind
Track 05: Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff
Track 06: Fishbone Beat - Goza Goza
Track 07: Air - Talisman
Track 08: Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus (Pump Mix)
Track 09: The Doors - Maggie McGill
Track 10: Juno Reactor - Conga Fury
Track 11: Kajagoogoo - Too Shy
Track 12: Destiny's Child - Bootylicious
Track 13: David Holmes - Gritty Shaker
Track 14: Cornershop - Brimful of Asha (Fatboy Slim remix)
Track 15: Queen - Now I'm Here



“There's surveillance everywhere! Every-fucking-where I go I'm being watched!”

“Max, okay, let's slow things down,” Angst said softly.

“Don't try and de-escalate me, I'm the one who fucking de-escalates people. You know it's true – they are watching me everywhere I go. And don't you dare cast one of your fucking spells on me. I don't want to be calm.”

“Okay,” she said. “That's fair.”

Max could tell he was scaring her. He took a deep breath and activated the appropriate implant. The equations began processing.

“I'm sorry, Angst. I'm not mad at you. I just got scared.”

Her posture relaxed slightly. “I know. And you're not wrong – you are being tracked. We know that.”

Max rubbed his forehead. “Do we? I mean... Jesus, it's just that everywhere... It's so loud everywhere, you know? All I hear is alarms and cries for help. And even the silences between them are just spaces for more alarms to fill. And I'm trying to figure out this whole System thing, and the Counter-System. If they're even fucking real. How do I know? It's something Control told me, but what if it's just another thing I made up. Like Maggie.”

Angst tensed again. “Maggie's real, Max. I've met Maggie.”

“How do I know you're real?” He looked at her, his eyes wide.


Happy Halloween 3

Previously on Halloween...

The Dragons' Costumes (version.Sense8)
(Max, Tatter, Suki, Goner, Frank, Angst, Marshal, Maggie)

The Professor and Morganfokker's Costumes (version.Sense8)

Morganfokker's Costume (vesrion.HalfLife)

Max's Costume (version.Multiversity)



Max snapped a fresh clip into Joy then another into Pain. He blinked his eyes, steadied his breathing. The wall was cold against his back, and for a second he flashed on a vague memory of being in some sort of Dome, like a sci-fi underworld. Sometimes the flashes of alternate versions shook him to the core, left him dizzy and spinning. And other times they reminded him that he was a superhero after all. Max spun into the hallway and started sighting, squeezing, repeating, breathing. The guns sounded like a giant beating a drum, shattering the air, the arms and chests of the targets shattering, their black suits exploding in red, their sunglasses hiding eyes gone wide and empty. Max was graceful in the violence because he wasn’t really there; his mind was drifting in a vision of reciting poetry to a shining hologram of his one true love. The rhythm of the words and the rhythm of the weapons ended and the hallway was quiet, the LEGACY hit squad destroyed, Max breathing steadily.

Speakers imbedded in the walls crackled on. “That’s quite alright Mr. Cube. Even as you stand there reloading and no doubt indulging in some fancy psychic technique the nanofabric of the carpeting is absorbing DNA from the blood you have spilled and funneling into microtubes that will be launched into orbit, retrieved by one of our satellites, and bonded to alien-robot hybrid hunters we have in stasis. They will be set loose to track you down, all their superkilling talents infused with the vengeance of the guards you just killed.”

“That’s actually really cool,” Max said.

The speakers crackled. “… Um, sorry?”

“I said that’s really cool. How you’re doing all that stuff with all your crazy technology.” 

“You mean you aren’t scared by it?” the speakers blurted.

“You’re going to all that effort to customize an advanced multi-type team of assassins from space just for me. I’m flattered. And slightly insecure that I won’t live up to the hype.”

The speakers fuzzed and went quiet. Just then Max’s cell rang. The Professor’s voice barged in as soon as the phone flipped open.

“Max, while you’ve been battling LEGACY in their Tower Maggie had been targeted by another supervillain! I believe the villain may be in league with Morganfokker! Her name is-“

“The Cheerleader. I know her. We’ve actually met.” Max lit a smoke. 

“Max, this is serious! All the data I have on The Cheerleader indicates that she is an Omega Level- waitaminute… You’ve met her?”

“Listen Prof, I’m not surprised to hear Maggie’s going at it against DeeGee.” He inhaled, staring down at the carpet, imagining the tiny robots in the carpet gathering up the molecules of blood. It was beautiful in a way. Maybe when the alien-robot hunters finally caught him they could figure out a way to reprogram them or something. A way to give even a bit of these guards a second chance.

“DeeGee?!?! Max what are you talking about?”

“Maggie’s undergoing a ritual and-“

“Another one? She just got out of the Initiation Chamber?!?!”

“Calm down, Prof. She’s invoking the arcana of the High Priestess in order to attain a greater level of wisdom, self-understanding and inner peace. Sacred combat against her shadows and dark sides is part of the ritual. Maggie’s no doubt engaging the Cheerleader to serve as an iconic manifestation of that darkness.”

“Ahh…” The Professor went quiet for a moment and Max could hear the sound of typing and some beeping. “I’ve updated my file, but I still think we have a problem and that Mags might be in danger.”

Max pushed the button on the elevator. Getting out of the LEGACY tower would be a hard job, even with the initial hit squad stopped.

“Why’s that?” Max’s tone grew serious.

“Based on my readings Maggie’s psychic waveform is oscillating between her identity as Ms. Magenta and, if you can believe this…”

The elevator doors slid open. “Think who you’re asking.” 

“Well. Maggie, even as she is in combat with The Cheerleader, is phasing back and forth into a tiny little faerie named Misfit…”

Max stepped into the elevator. “Gotcha. I’ll give her a call.”

The cellphone signal sputtered slightly inside the shielded elevator. The Professor’s voice warbled, “Which one?”

Max flicked the cigarette through the closing doors. “Think who you’re asking.”


Sympathetic Magic

In talking about it, and writing about it

he placed his burdens

on display, the fashion of anguish.

Making the effort to extend and externalize,

begging to be objectified, handled,

caressed, placed on her night-table,

the last thing seen before sleep,

a dream totem. Small and easily held,

her hands all about him.

He was counting on the gravity of his suffering,

the exquisite curvature of his past and future,

drawing her deep into the well of his now,

like a pit, like euclidian trajectories bent

into the circles of inferno. He felt warped,

and warping, and needed someone to act

as the planet, the source of his distortion,

its cause become the effect,

a want into need like matter into energy.

In his behaviour he offered up his troubles

in a performance to imaginary gods

in the covert hope she'd arrive to reveal

that they were in fact alone and therefore only together

and therefore his troubles hers and hers his only,

and he pretended his performance of faith

only for the day when she

might come to break it, another faith hidden

and nesting within the hollow husk.

He imagined it might be like the spreading of

an infection, his burdens passed onto her

and they becoming alike in swelling and fever.



"Maybe we should be out looking for Darius instead," Dexter said.

Wraith poured herself a glass of wine. "He can handle himself. You never really believed that, did you?"

"It's the cop in me," he replied, a self-conscious shrug. 

Callan entered with a large cardboard box, placed it on the couch. Wraith had charged the suite to the media conglomerate she was currently under contract with. They thought she was working on a story about the latest Big Pharma scandal - a rash of medicines proving toxic after they hit the market. Maybe I am; maybe it's all connected, she thought.

Callan said, "I told the girl at the print shop that I was working on my Ph.D thesis and needed a hardcopy backup. Hm, maybe I am; I could probably get a doctorate out of trying to explain Max."

Wraith noted the similar phrasing: 'maybe I am'. This kind of thing tended to happen when Max was involved.

"Is this so we can't get hacked while we're researching?" Dexter asked.

"In part," Callan said as he started to unpack the file folders from the box, arranging them on the coffee table. "There's a different magic to paper too."

It is like a spell of sorts, Wraith thought, taking a sip of wine.

All the blog posts, all the letters and emails, all the writing by the man they knew as Max Cube that they could get their hands on. This was phase one; the next step would be to hit up all of their contacts for relevant police reports, psychiatric files, military records and so on. That, however, was a move that wouldn't go unnoticed.

Dexter watched Callan laying out the documents. "The hardest part is going to be figuring out what are journal entries, what are essays, what are short stories and what are delusions..."


The Man With The Many Names

"Who's that?" the child asked as she leafed through an old book and a faded picture fell onto the floor. The child picked up the photo and looked at it and then showed it to her mother.

"Just someone that I used to know," the mother replied. "A long, long time ago."

"He looks like he was lost," the child stated.

"In a way he was," the mother answered. "But, he still went out and did what he had to do, because the world - or one of the worlds - needed him."

The child flipped the photo over to see the names Machs, Mexx, Maxe, Max, M'aX, Mech, Matt, written on the back with lines drawn through them.


The Observed

I hate the way you watch movies

as if they're a mirror painted

black set before candlelight

as if they are in endless conversations with you,

like you see them as teachers, as if

the mountaintop has been blasted into fragments and

scattered about our living rooms, 500 Guru Universe,

because you never talk to me or listen to

me like that.

You go on and on about the way that

animals talk in commercials, how that is

proof we live in shamanic times, but

you never read omens in the way I look

at you or do my hair before we go out.

And you complain that magic is real but misused

but you never think that maybe just maybe i'm just

in love with you.

And I hate the way you're always reading

articles on the internet or

checking your email account like

you are waiting to be rescued.

I watch you constantly silently

plotting strategies for you to arrive in

the culture, to hold a talk and have an audience and

make people like you and agree with you and want to

hear you, pay money for your words and hope

for your ideas, when you're staring into space

I can hear you imagining that happening, but

I want you and when

did you stop imagining this happening?


"Kaze Wo Kirutabi Kimochi Yokutte" [version.Upgrade]

The Sidhe had dispatched a Sluagh hit-squad after Max. He didn't know if that meant the Unseelie Court had ties to the System or if it was just another unlucky roll of the dice. He did know that if the whispering swarm of sharp-edged shadows caught up to him he would at best be captured, more likely changed...

They had managed to herd him to the bridge over the river that split the village. He knew they'd catch up to him if he tried to run across. He couldn't risk jumping in the water; the elemental transition would only make him more liminal and more vulnerable to the faeries' magic. Sometimes he still regretted giving up Joy and Pain. A last stand at the bridge would at least make a good story.

Suddenly a light flared in the night sky and something large and heavy crashed into the approaching Sluagh like a meteor. Some of the creatures were crushed, others disintegrated in a wave of energy that washed off the massive object. The remaining fey assassins began to take cover.

Max grinned as he watched the object rise and unfold from the crater it had made: a fifteen foot tall mecha. He had been trying to be stealthy but the villagers would be awake now with a tale to tell (a better one than my last stand).

The surviving Sluagh started to rally, hissing and shimmering, when the panels on the bulky forearms of the robot warrior slid open and dozens of micro-warheads launched like a swarm of furious fireflies. They swirled and buzzed until they locked on their targets, their trajectories becoming lethally straight. The creatures became ash upon impact.

The panels on the back of the mech unfolded and Aqua climbed out. She perched herself on the robot's shoulder. She was wearing cool goggles. She smiled.

"Bishop helped me build it out of the wreckage of the subway car. Re-purposed 'The They' technology. I based the design off of those Golems from that Citadel videogame you always used to play. So there's a full-suite of offensive and defensive armaments and yeah, it can can still travel between dimensions.

"Sometimes you need more than just gauntlets and only a brand new outfit will do."

Max grinned. "I missed you."


CD Five

To The Max

(cover art: a black and white photo of people boarding and exiting a subway car)

Allandean - Rapture Riders
Jeff Wayne - Brave New World (Remixed)
Atomphunk - Boogie Down (Kneedeep Mix)
B.B. King - Messy But Good
Barry Devoran - The Warriors Three
Jeff Beck - Where It's At
Berlin - The Metro
Taco - Putting On The Ritz
The Grid - Swamp Thing
New Order - Ruined In A Day
Holyman - Counterstriked
Bill Withers - A Beautiful Day


Of Reboots, Remakes and Reimagings

".... and that's all there is that I can recite at the moment," she said into the mic. "If there is anything else that I can add to this recording I will."

She hit the stop button and both the play and record buttons snapped to attention, aligning with the other buttons on the tape deck. Summer had a feeling this is what Sarah Connor felt at the end of the 'Terminator' movie. The original one, not the sequels and the pallid reboot.

Clint Eastwood was perfect in the original movie, playing the machine robot to the hilt, chasing after Melissa Gilbert's Sarah Connor in order to delete her from the timeline. She had read in a teen magazine that Gilbert had accepted the role of the mother of the future warrior in an effort to shake the squeaky clean image of her 'Little House On The Prairie' days. While Eastwood played the futuristic robot that was sent back in time to track her down.

"Was Eastwood in the original?" she said to herself. "I'm sure it was someone else... A body builder at one time that was."

Summer ejected the cassette and put it in its case. She took the sleeve out and labeled it Recollection #42. She smiled at that; 42 was supposed to be the answer to life, the universe and everything.


Lay the Memory Down Gently

Lay the memory down gently

dressing the garden for arrival

Lay the weeping down gently

caressing the face for remembrance

Bend down closer now

you've come so close to death

and faeries bright and whispery

that there is only one greater story to be told yet

Fasten each phrase about her neck

like jewellery or a noose or a ribbon

And look back in time and forward and sideways

To see her unlacing each phrase

in movement

Someone is telling your story

beyond the hills and beyond these cities

you have come to know

there is somewhere where you

are a story told

a particular feeling

an applicable memory



like a trigger for lucid dreaming

they will think of you and want and have

in just the way you do