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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



Marshal double-checked that the office door was locked. He turned back to the computer terminal. The desktop picture was from Serial Experiment: Lain. There were three video-chat windows open, conferenced with each other. "Ok, go."

Angst spoke in the first window. "Yeah, so. Not good. So not good. None of the contact rituals for Odin, Merlin or Kele-De are working. The Infrared Lodge and the Ultraviolet Lodge are in open conflict. And the Ashen Tradition is claiming to be on the verge of locating a relic they are calling 'The Hyperplex'."

Frank was next. "LEGACY has apparently negotiated a truce between the Manticores and the Basilisks. If that's true they will undoubtedly try and loop in the other Legend Gangs as well. There's also rumours that they are looking to recruit Lanight into the fold."

Marshal sighed, "So things are fracturing in one direction and consolidating in another. Everyone knows by now that something is happening."

Goner spoke up. "More bad news: my intel says that Throckmorton, Angus Mode, Mr. Clean, and Verdi are all bidding on an assassination contract. Maybe Nell and Ally, maybe Meelos and Legos. Or, maybe, The Future."

Shit, Frank thought and they all heard him.

"And the target?" Angst asked.

"Max," Goner said.

"Well, Max better watch out," Marshal said.

The others looked confused. 


The Stars Aligned

Derek Moore sat on the car looking up at the stars; his father, Andrew, leaned against it making sure that Derek didn't move too far on the hood. It was dusk and the evening was claiming the sky, fading away the blanket of blue and revealing the stars slowly but surely.

"I think I see Max," Derek said as he looked up to see a group of stars clustered like a man flying through the air in some gun-fu maneuvers. "And Maggie is right next to him."

Andrew's eyes looked to the heavens and saw that Max and Maggie were there in the clear evening sky, his eyes taking in the constellations of the cat, Trump, and the bird, Crow, as well.

"It's beautiful sight," Andrew said.

"That it is, Dad," Derek said. He loved the nights he spent with his dad since it meant sitting out under the stars and looking at the constellations.

"Look, there's Aqua," Andrew pointed. "Looks like she has her friend with her as well."


C2IP Update.2

The ground shook again, dislodging more rubble from the bombed-out buildings. Shadows swept across the ground from the light of the flares in the night sky, voices hollow and fuzzy with static calling out over malfunctioning sound-systems, repeating emergency protocol directions that were very 'too-little-too-late'. Mick strolled down the centre of the cracked and scorched street as if all the lights and noise were a massive party; this wasn't his first apocalypse. In a lot of ways he felt at home in disaster zones; they were somehow more honest. 

His contacts were less brazen, with good reason Mick figured, given that of the ever-increasing number of factions in what appeared to be a cold-war-turned-hot-turning-nova most likely had capture or kill orders out on them. They signalled to him with a pre-arranged series of flashlight blinks from the shadows of a ruined hotel lobby.

"Okay," Mick said, hunkered down behind the front desk. "First off, no I haven't gotten any leads on who the double-agent is. I don't doubt your intel, especially given the source, but there are so many variables in play right now...

"Second, Goner's rejoined Max, Frank and Angst, so they're active again as a cell. Plus they've gotten a lead on Mags - sounds like she's changed too.

"As for Suki, it looks like she's actually shifted along the Chronoplex - that's what we're calling it now, right? She seems to be in a much older version of herself. I know, it's not the first-time Suki's age has altered. No idea if or how she's going to intersect with the others.

"The Diner crew... Things are still different with them too... Like they're on a different frequency from the other Dragons? I dunno, I feel like something's brewing there.

"Max has got his spirit guides in play, the bird and the talking cat. Still nothing from Aqua. Oh, but get this - I found this weird urban legend about this strange warrior-monk type-guy who wanders the globe, actually walking, no planes or buses. He's this dirty bearded vagabond, stops briefly to debate about things like Confucianism or Norse Mythology. Sometimes does a bit of intervening on a street-level if there's some injustice happening, and ain't there always? There's versions of the tale where he seeks out a vision at holy places, the hidden Temple of the Sky on Everest, the sacred glass monolith at the centre of the Sahara Desert, the keystone of the Great Wall of China that contains the last essence of the demon Hrarchuta who sacrificed his immortality to save his love, the angelic Yuriti... It's great stuff; I wish I'd written it. But it's got to be our boy Akimoto, right?

"And lastly, just so I'm keeping track, so far there's the Chronoplex, the Paraplex, and the Ultraplex? Now, how about you share with me: do we know yet what exactly has kicked off this whole mess between the System and Counter-System?"

The contacts exchanged glances.

Suddenly a swarm of sirens began wailing outside and the thunder of helicopters erupted overhead. Mick sighed. "I get it, 'to be continued'."


The Irreducibility of Explication

"Max! Focus!" the voice shouted.

He blinked and tried to follow the order. He was lost in a memory or a series of memories about a time he was driving around looking for something to eat and just feeling absolutely completely emotionally and mentally fucked up. Of course he had the thought that maybe he still was driving around and that this was another delusion. If he had ever had any delusions; maybe everything that he had thought happened had actually happened?

The voice was sounding frustrated, or maybe it was a different voice? Joining in? "We need to understand more about your actions in the Ultraplex. We need to know about what happened on World: Prefalta."

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

What's the Ultraplex?

"Go ahead," the (first?) voice said. Max flipped open the folder and scanned the documents inside.

[Prefalta Excerpt]

"Specifically," they continued, "why did you order Aqua to intervene in this scenario? What criteria were met that required this action to be taken? Why did you select Aqua from the roster of Dragons who were available? What was the desired outcome of the intervention?"

Max suddenly had this strong sense that he was immersed in a tutorial for some type of advanced videogame, that the answers he selected to the questions being asked would set his preferences for the gameplay to follow... But there was also a very real chance that the videogame idea was just a psychological defense mechanism allowing him to minimize his responsibility in the incident they were discussing.

"The most important question is, perhaps- " the voices said.

Max couldn't really remember ever giving Aqua any orders... He hadn't even seen Aqua since... 

"- why did you choose to intervene in this incident and not any of these?"

Nineteen more file folders landed on the table in a rough stack.

Max felt nauseous.