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==EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS ITS 100TH PUBLICATION==
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============== ISSUE # 1 JANUARY 2014 ==============
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==== SAXON BRENTON, ANDREW PERRON & TOM RUSSELL ====
=============== Editor, Tom Russell ================
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CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE

"Open Letter", by Andrew Perron
In which a plea is made for assistance against an extra-dimensional invasion. On the nature of the enemy, both physiologically and metaphysically. An ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure. As it ever has and ever will, Las Vegas inspires regret.

"Terror of the Tribots!", by Tom Russell
In which a different invasion, both robotic and viral, is repulsed. On the perils of cross-ocean jogging, especially for the clumsy. Also: a cyclone with a comet's tail, the coinage of the word "knifely", the appearance of a familiar face, and royal romance rebuffed.

"Beyond the Fields" Part 1, by Saxon Brenton
In which a story begins. Providing a useful contrast of the headspaces of humans and angels, and the perils of pretending. A secret meeting. On the wrongness of a particular object.

"Up To Their Necks In It", by Tom Russell

In which the Sisters of Battle find themselves in a most unwelcome predicament. On the assignment of blame for said situation. How having no idea might be considered worse than the wrong idea, plus an elegant if unsavory solution for a being-eaten-by-dinosaurs problem.

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================== "Open Letter" ==================
========== copyright 2014 Andrew Perron ===========
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   If you're out there, I could really use some help.

   Not so much with the fighting of the giant horrible monsters from the other dimension. I'm doing pretty well with that. Unless you've got one of the Seven Crystal Swords, then hit me up!

   But the thing is, the massive tentacles, the flailing claws, the mouths – well, beaks, but that's beside the point – they're only a small piece of the actual Dyzen'thari. In fact, they're actually sort of like – living wiggly wavelengths on the emotional band of the universe? And they vibrate against different emotions, so there's Dyzen'thari of fear and anger and grief. There's also Dyzen'thari of happiness and delight, positive emotions, but they mostly don't try to invade our universe.

   Well, that's how it was explained to me, anyway.

   But the important thing is, they open their rifts by vibrating against space – vibrating sympathetically against the emotional tones filling that space. So, therefore, to get through and start wrecking stuff, they have to find a place that's already filled with fear or bitterness or whatever.

   So here's what I need you to help me with:

   Love each other.

   Seriously, it's actually the number one strategy that I've got. Think of it this way: If there's less sad people in an area, you don't get Dyzen'thari of grief. If there's less people who are living in fear – especially chronic fear, the kind you get when someone's been waiting to pounce on you your entire life – you don't get Dyzen'thari of fear. And if people feel that they're loved, you don't get Dyzen'thari of loneliness or isolation or any of a hundred different kinds of pain.

   And the thing is, people don't need to be happy all the time. Nobody's happy all the time. But if people – like, when people support each other, they have good days and bad days, and they can shore each other up when they're down. That sort of thing.

   Do that, and there won't be the consistent wavelength that's needed for a transcontinuum wave transfer. There'll be fewer rifts, and the ones that do open will be easier to deal with. And maybe... maybe I won't have to do what I did in Las Vegas ever again.

   So, yeah, um, love. Be nice to each other, is all I'm saying.

   And if I'm in the area, and you need some help, you're feeling crappy, well, I mean, I'd be a terrible strategist if I didn't follow my own advice. So, if I'm ever in the area, we can talk, you know?

   See you then!

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============ "Terror of the Tribots!" =============
=========== copyright 2014 Tom Russell ============
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Melody Mapp's wristwatch gives her super-speed. It's also keeping her alive. She doesn't have much time left, but she's going to spend every second on the run as the third, final— and greatest— DARKHORSE.

The Atlantic, 2013.
   She hates running on water. It's not just speed that keeps you topside, but also grace, and she can be clumsy; one wrong step, you're barreling under at seventy miles per second. Terry was there to pull her out last time. But, hey, she's the hero, this is her story, she doesn't want to be rescued, thank you very much.

France.
   The Leclercs made short work of the tribots. She wishes she had some of that backing her up in Atlanta. But they were needed in Washington and New York. Darkhorse drops off the antiserum and is on her way.

Germany.
   She gives the doctors their share of the antiserum, then heads back to the autobahn where four Tribots are wreaking havoc. She learned in Atlanta that these things are clumsier than she is. Laser turret and CPU up-top, supported by three spindly impossibly long legs. Darkhorse spins around, forming a miniature cyclone, sucking dust and debris into her orbit. Then she's running at the tribots, darting around them, the rubble whipping behind her like the tail of a comet. The legs crumble and turrets tumble. Then she plunges her vibrating hand knifely into each hull, frying the circuits.

Russia's been hit the hardest by the alien invaders and their plague, and needs the antiserum the most. She has to keep reminding herself of that as she races across the freezing wastes of Siberia. Is there anything she hates running on more than snow and ice?

The Pacific.
   Oh, right, water. She drops off the antiserum in Japan (purely preventative; the invaders kept clear of that kaiju hot-zone) and Australia (stopping long enough to help Interceptor clobber a couple Tribots) and is making a bee-line straight towards South America when the waves ahead become turbulent. A submarine surfaces, chameleon metal taking on the color of the sky and the sea. The top opens; a young man appears. Chalk-white skin, black eyes, all pupils, no irises. "Prince Terak of Lemuria bids you welcome!"
   She leaps up to the submarine, thankful for something solid beneath her tired feet. "Hiya, Terry. Here's the antiserum."
   "You have my thanks. Though we dispatched the aqua-tribots with ease, their disease has proved harder to banish from the divine blood of my kin." He then asks her (not for the first time) to become his queen consort.
   She rolls her eyes. "Maybe some other time. I got ten more places to hit. Take it easy, Gills," she teases.
   "Be swift as the current, black pearl of the surface."

Atlanta.
   The CDC releases a statement thanking her for the record time in which the cure for the alien disease has been distributed. Everyone's been following her itinerary, and it looks like she'll have to deal with all that unwanted attention the next couple days. For now, she has the unwanted attention of Aunt Dani, who teases her about the rendezvous with her "Lemurian lover".
   "We're just friends," Melody says as she lowers herself into a hot bath. "Fish eyes don't do it for me," she continues, probably lying.
   She takes a deep breath and slips beneath the waves.

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=========== "Beyond the Fields" Part 1 ============
========== copyright 2014 Saxon Brenton ===========
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   An angel walked into a bar.

   It was, as these things went, a perfectly respectable bar. Not what could be called a dive. As she ordered a drink Joan Smith (one of the pseudonyms she used for interacting with mortals) wondered if the person she was meeting would have chosen a dive if they knew the importance or nature of what Joan wanted to talk about. Probably not. Hopefully not. In Joan's experience of humans, people like that were either chronically prone to thinking in film noir cliches or were conspiracy theory crazies.

   Of course, sometimes that made it easier to direct someone's line of thinking, if that was what was needed. But by contrast it could be profoundly annoying if it was a type of thinking that was getting in the way of the mission at hand. And even under the best of circumstances, role playing within the limits of a human's idee fixe was fraught with potential peril. Angels could study human nature all they wanted, but the truth was that they didn't live in the same headspaces.

   Joan collected her drink, glanced around as if looking for an available place to sit, then walked towards the booth where her target was seated. "Hi, is this seat free?" she asked.

   The woman glanced up from a small item she was examining and gave Joan a brief appraising look before smiling. "No, it's not." She gestured with her hand towards the empty bench opposite her. "Feel free. I'm Deidre, by the way."

   "Joan," she replied. She sat down, then glanced at the thing on the table top as if with curiosity. It was the source of the sense of wrongness that had led her here, but fortunately it did not reek of Hell. At a distance it could have been mistaken for a computer tablet or other electronic device. Up close it was obviously a small oil painting. Joan raised an eyebrow. "You an art lover?"

   Deidre smiled ruefully. "Not normally. And certainly not where this thing is concerned. Here, have a look at it for yourself," she suggested, handing it over. In a conversational tone she added, "Just try not to let anyone else get a good look at it. I've noticed that it has a strange effect on people who aren't actively trying to resist it's influence."

   Joan took note of that last comment, even if she was already on her guard. The picture was a stylised pastoral scene painted in oil. European peasants toiled cheerfully in the foreground, harvesting grain. Rolling hills in the background gave way to dramatic mountain landscapes. It felt proud, and nationalistic, and ideologically correct, and had all the sinister wholesomeness of a propaganda poster. And in the bottom corner was the artist's signature: Adolf Hitler.

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============ "Up To Their Necks In It" ============
=========== copyright 2014 Tom Russell ============
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It comes to pass, one steaming hot day on ancient Earth, that Quasha Oathbreaker, who wields the damned sword Thirteen, and her companion, cunning Danalee, mistress of the sword Dart and the pistol Arrow, find themselves hiding naked and weaponless in a stinking pile of relatively fresh dinosaur dung. How the Sisters of Battle find themselves in said predicament is the subject of much discussion between the two of them, and only the two of them, as the one thing both know and agree upon with certainty is that they will never reveal the circumstances of this adventure to anyone.

   "Which is why we must get out of this alive," insists Quasha. "If I should die here, in this heap of dung, and you must explain to Nerrine and the others how it was that I at last expired, I swear by the goddess I will make you pay for it."

   "How, friend Quasha?" says Danalee. "You'd be dead. And not so loudly, mind. You'll attract the attention of the beast from which we hide."

   "I'll be as loud as I want," says Quasha crossly. "It won't try to eat us. Not here." She sniffs the air about them and instantly regrets it. "I should think that no matter how long and often I wash, for the rest of my accursed days, nothing will ever try to eat me again."

   "We'll have to haul some back for the others, then," says Danalee. "Elegant solution to our being-eaten-by-the-natives problem."

   "Wouldn't mind drowning that little harpy Ress in it."

   "I don't know why you're complaining, anyway," says Danalee. "This was your idea."

   "My idea!" broils Quasha.

   The dinosaur from which they are hiding appears to take notice of the sound. Silence follows.

   Then, modulating, "My idea. How is this my idea? I'm searching for your worthless hide and I find you already knee-deep in the stuff. And then you motioned for me to get in it with you..."

   "And you did. You're the one that climbed in. So it's your idea."

   "I put my trust in your faculties," gripes Quasha. "Surely, there must be some reason Danalee is within ten meters of it, let alone two meters in it."

   "That reason being that your sword, my sword, and my beam pistol are on the other side of that pond, and between us and the pond, is something that wants to eat us."

   "Let's go for a swim, Quasha," says Quasha in what the Oathbreaker must assume is a passable imitation of Danalee (really, it just sounds like Quasha all over again). "We've earned a swim."

   "I fail to see how this is my fault," says Danalee pointedly.

   "You wanted to go for the swim. You made me leave my sword. 'Who goes swimming with a sword, Quasha?' You had us jump soaking wet into the pile of dung freshly-squeezed from goddess-knows-what."

   "I'm sure Kellin can help you figure out that part," says Danalee.

   "I'm not responsible for any of this," Quasha concludes. "Your. Fault."

   "I maintain that the fault is yours, dear Quasha," says Danalee. "True, I suggested the swim; true, it is because of that that we left our weapons on the shore; true, I climbed first into the dung."

   "I wait for your conclusion with bated breath," says Quasha, who had actually been doing that all along whenever it was Danalee's turn to speak.

   "This whole time, you've just been following my lead," says Danalee. "You've not contributed a single thought or plan of action. Really, I expect more from she who turned the tide on the Battle of the Last Day. I've just been improvising while waiting for you to do something, anything really, and you've just plain dropped the ball."

   Quasha unleashes a warrior's blood-scream in anger. The dinosaur now sees them, takes a deep breath while it's still safe, and rushes in. Danalee grimaces. "That's better, Quasha, but not quite what I had in mind."

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=============== See you next month! ===============
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All characters and stories are the copyright of their respective authors.

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