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RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

1.

Time was strange for me. I looked at the stone and listened to the bird’s call and breathed deeply under my mask to take in the heavy air of the seaside morning. It could have been five thousand years before. There might have been a ship made of timber and pulled by rope-harnessed wind just about to crest the horizon. The pace of the world does not change, only the things in it become different.

Very different indeed. The vessel that did arrive harnessed the atom rather than the wind. Its crew sailed very different seas. Yet a warship was a warship in any era. The arrival of The Cassius bespoke of a world I had long since stepped out of. One may leave the dance floor. The music will play on. Humanity itself existed like a proxy state in the celestial conflict of two great stellar nations. Humanity was the shore, while the land and the sea made war as a tide.

The Regent had experience to prop confidence on her shoulders and the weight of ambition to hold it there. Her uniform told me one story. Her scars told me another. The great golems on each side of her told me how much I was no longer in favor of the Parliament.

I warned her.

Favor is like the weather. Sometimes a storm is welcome, sometimes it is not. I still bore my crown. It lingered there above me and reminded her that regardless of her authority in the territories, I was still a King. She reminded me of a King’s responsibilities. She dared remind me of my Oath.

My daughter was quite like me in that regard. I was proud of her for that.

She insisted.

RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

2.

Ships of the Ninth Fleet closed on the city of Illium and found that she was ready. The flotilla moved like tiny schools of fish around a bloated mother.

Inside the orbital city I was to rescue a woman the Parliament considered paramount to their war effort. She had come in peace to offer an alliance. Illium had already switched sides. I assured them I was not the man for it. The Parliament had insisted.

My daughter had insisted.

Long ago I weighed the meanings and the reasons and the righteousness of conflict. In a short life such things matter greatly. In a short life such things are paramount to crafting a impetus for one’s actions and a reason to take the risk. In a long life it is much different. Now I care little for the politics of knives and instead follow a single simple value.

My Oath.

Arimestes was with me. The Automatic has been a dear friend through the ages. Arimestes understands how it feels to stand outside of human time. Like me, he will not age. He may wear down, he may be killed, but he will not die. “The 9th is waiting for the command,” Arimestes said. “Send them,” I said. The hoplites were well-suited to this, they had trained since nine-years-old to move about without gravity. They are anxious to engage in battle. Their paradigm had been one of servitude, honor and grace. Careful social development crafted a group willing to care passionately for a cause but not feel grief at the loss of a comrade. Humans are social animals and as such, easy to manipulate. There was a time that people believed robots would make the best soldiers. History has proven that to be incorrect. Robots are expensive to produce and repair, robots find it difficult to adapt beyond their environment. Intelligent machines can easily calculate the waste of conflict. People, by contrast, are cheap to produce and easy to program. Social engineering and population management can establish a nearly limitless wealth of warriors with almost no oversight required. Arimestes is an Automatic: a robot with self-awareness. His intellect and unlimited knowledge, as well as his immortality and perspective, made him worth a million men and women on the battlefield.

My hoplites swam across void. The Gravity Well of Illium pulling them slowly toward an arbitrary “down”.

Within my sensorium I could hear the warriors laughing.

To be joined by their King. A young man, Fellion by name, exploded and dissipated in a flash of superheated plasma.

The hoplites cheered. Only one thing gave them more pleasure then dropping through a gravity field into battle.

I entered the fray astride my warwing. A genetically engineered beast of my own design, its ferrous skeleton rode a magnetic current as sure as any creature ever took to the air. The Drones came. Nothing about me made sense to their remote pilots. Nothing about me fit their paradigm of conventional war. I sliced through their ballistic-ceramic shells and swatted aside their raybeams. I pressed deeper into the gravity field and took ancient war and magic with me. Somewhere in the Illium Cortex a cadre of drone pilots roll and flail biofeedback through their sensoriums ripping their nervous systems to shreds. Their commanders scream at the technicians at how impossible this is, how the purpose of the drone is to save lives. I am impossible. To face me in combat is to risk death.

The warwing boiled inside then erupted in a splash of fire that blossomed and swelled in the low gravity. Below me on the surface of Illium the fighting was thick and mechanized. My landed hoplites where overmatched and overexposed to the heat-rays and microwaves of the Illium remote defenders. Crashed starcraft gouged the surface and pockets of the invaders fought to gain entry below the industrial strata of Illium’s surface. The defenders resisted with verve and the hoplites died a hundred at a time. A terrible waste of warriors and ships, if one saw time only in the moment. Perspective told me otherwise.

The hoplites were the feint. I was the weapon that would win this war. I was not here to lead their charge, they were my delivery system.

Thousands of years of experimentation and improvisation and innovation have not yielded the peaceful resolution of conflict that the philosophers had predicted. The human drive to feel exhilaration and the social status that conflict gave had never been rooted out. Perhaps that is why the city states of Sol were so easily drawn into this conflict. War is natural to us. As social animals we allow rank and status to direct us easily. We allow conformity to shape our drives. We value those with self-actualization but do not seek it in ourselves if we find a cause to follow.

Illium is a drone state. Long ago they gave up the weakness of flesh and its terrestrial bonds and build a stratified society protected from outside. The Illium Wall it is called. A robotic skin on their interaction with other citystates. None have seen a citizen of Illium on centuries. A hermetically sealed society. Illium technology cannot protect them from me. Arimnestes proposes a theory that my biogenic field interacts psionically with any whose attention is directed at me. His theory is that my altered aura has a autonomic defensive system that telepathically locates and attacks those who seek to harm me. To me Arimnestes’ theory is no more correct or likely as the original charm told to me by the Crossroad Witches of Dunsinane. Magic.

Those that would do you harm must risk the same.

The shattered fragments of machine proxies seemingly without end are meant to break the hope of a human attacker. The illusion is that these defenders are tireless, that there is no way to harm those you seek. The Illium Wall has a weakness. The Remote Pilots are human. I began to see their patterns. I began to see their training. I could see in the tapestry of their violence the entire shape of their philosophy. I could read in that philosophy the form of their paradigm behind their Wall. They were accustomed to superiority.

My attacks were reaching beyond their defenses for the first time. They had casualties, soldiers killed in action. Men and women would be screaming in pain and agony then falling from their sensoriums never to move again. I could feel hesitation in the entire force. I needed chaos more than death. I shifted my assault. I split limbs and joints, I pierced bodies but left them wounded. There beyond the Wall I imagined the people writhing in new agony. I imagine the horror of sudden pain, of bones splitting and blood pulsing across consoles. The horror of war suddenly thrust into the sterile womb of remote technology. The ripple effect was immediate. I could see another weakness in the Wall. Each operator was clearly a puppeteer with hold of hundreds of strings. The remote operators were a fraction of the population of the drones.

RAYGUN GOTHIC I was over the brink and descending.

A free fall through the rays and calls of two opposing armies down the cityshaft into the living levels of Illium.

Suddenly my hoplites surged forward closing in on flanks and breaking cover to bring the fight in close. I rode the momentum as openings in the remote defenders opened like gates in the Wall. Once more unto the breach.

I was prepared for the battalion of proxy men and women that awaited me in the promenades of Illium. I was ready to meet them with steel and blood and magic. “Peace,” said a robotic figure that marched forward through the mist of a hundred coolant systems. At once I could tell he was not a proxy. Not a robot puppet. He was a man. A cyborg chassis with a human brain. Perhaps more of a man than I am. “Peace,” he said again. “You are Sir Walter the Grim. The Anomaly Man of Tsar. I am Adrestus, a Champion of Illium. I come not for threats or violence. I come to you with flesh inside to offer terms. You come to rescue a women for the Parliament.“ “She is not our captive Sir Walter, we are hers.” He told me the women had come under the flag of peace, deceived his masters and taken hostage the population of Illium.

The pace of the world does not change, only the things in it become different. I cared nothing for such politics. My Oath drove me onward. “Stop fighting and I will take her away,” I said. “If we stop fighting we die,” Adrestus said. “Lady Astrel and her lover have the flesh of Illium in their control.” “Only a few of us with flesh inside are able to rebel. Yet we have nothing to tip the balance in our favor.”

“You do,” I said.

RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

3.

Here, in this time, the Impossible rule all. They take what they want. These two had come on behalf of the Parliament and instead of peace talks they took the impregnable Illium by force. I saw how they had done it as the renegades of Illium broke themselves against her.

For more RAYGUN GOTHIC please visit www.alchemicalpress.com

She was a rarity among the Impossible, so effortlessly human. I suspected a cyborg chassis of incredible sophistication. There was so much power in that slim body. I wondered if she had designed her own body. I wondered what miniaturized horrors of violence were hidden under her rubberized skin.

The drones were overmatched in their rebellion. Their pilots knew it too. Somewhere in a hidden bunker they marshaled what remotes they could. She spun about and their rays sliced one another as if she could orchestrate the whole group dynamic with her very presence. The Lady Astrel struck the bodies apart like a dreadnought in the body of a dancer. As the numbers of Illium rebels fell there were no more secret bodies to replace them with. Their hope was to contain the her until my arrival with the Illium Champion.

I was surprised to see Astrel so easily struck down. Her consort moved instantly to her aide. I believe he sensed I was watching. Astrel fell and remained down, breathing hard. She had a limit after all.

Though he was clad in heavy armor I recognized Astrel’s consort at once by his movements. The Baron Proxius. I had fought along with him at the Dorado Incursion. He was a dangerous man, but also a romantic. Proxius paused on principle too often. Another Champion of Illium took the field. Adrestus was gone. The Illium Champion

Ajax exposed his brain case to prove he was flesh. Proxius stated his intention to claim all of Illium for his consort. In such declaration was the Law of Contest. These two alone would take the field with their weapons and drones. None would interfere. I watched.

Proxius used shield and lance with great effect. He was sure and quick. Ajax flew the flank and closed quickly, letting his drones tangle Proxius’s defences.

In my own sensorium I saw Ajax bring power up suddenly to a raybeam armature. Proxius saw it too. A massive charge, enough to carve through any single shield.

Proxius pulled his shields in tightly to overlap each other and drove his lances hard to catch Ajax while the power was drawn from the giant’s electric armor plates. There was no blast from the raygun.

It was designed to seem to be a dangerous weapon, to trick a sensorium.

Proxius saw the ruse too late.

The power flooded back to Ajax’s armatures and the molecular blades as the bulk of the huge cyborg slammed and splintered Proxius’ shields with mass rather than energy.

A single thrust through the body cavity and it was over. Ajax was a direct and terrible foe. I admired him at once.

In every contest there is a victor.

In every conflict a Champion.

In every time a point to take advantage....

...or make an advantage.

Whatever else I might have accomplished there, I could also conquer Illium if I rid it of it’s Champions. Ajax knew at once. To know and understand takes an instant. In that time I was beneath his guard. One blade or a thousand, every swordsman knows they have a measure. I had taken the measure of Ajax and with it the ability to prevail. He had evolved to overcome the science of war. What I did was art. I could see the pulse of his nervous system, I could see the pulse of his power relays. A moment faster than he and I struck his limbs from him one at a time before he could shift energy to such point defence.

Ajax staggered and drifted in a loss of power and a sudden drop in hydraulic pressure. I was up through his armature in an instant. The tip of my sword sung its way into his brain, quivering as it sheared through his electric armor. I wasted no time on tradition or circumstance. Proxius had a lesson there.

I leapt straight at The Lady Astrel, carried forward by the momentum of victory. I would sweep away her limbs as well. I would capture her for the Parliament and its politics and capture Illium for myself. I had begun to believe I was unique. I had begun to see myself the way others did. I had begun to believe my own myth. Sir Water the Grim. The Immortal King. The Forever Man. The Peerless Warrior. It was too late that I realized she was not a product of human augmentation. She was not an enhancile, science had given her nothing that might match me blow for blow. Her hands danced through my assault with careful and calm precision. She was holding back just as she had done when the ray had struck her. That had been for my benefit. In that one “failure� she had set the Ajax against The Baron, and myself against Ajax. She moved people in her landscape as easily as she moved aside my blade. She had secret knowledge. I was a product of that secret thing but I had never been its master.

Magic.

RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

4.

Sunrunner: This is Advanced Reconnaissance Vessel Sunrunner to Mission Central. Mission Central: We read you Sunrunner. What is your status?

Sunrunner: I have dropped from trans-solar speed and followed the mission vector. As we suspected it was the an incursion of a foreign object into the planetary threshold that triggered our sensorium. The radiation readings and potential energy projections are near the edges of my scales. Object is now in visual range but Mission Central: What do you see Sunrunner? it isn’t an asteroid or a comet Mission Central.

Sunrunner: Well, sir it’s small, under twenty lengths, small enough to grapple, with no debris trail or frozen water trail. It reads hot sir and the motion calibration is shows tiny tremors. I’m sending through the data now Mission Central.

Mission Central: Affirmative Sunrunner. Please adjust to a parallel vector and wait for instructions. Sunrunner: Sunrunner confirms, adjust and hold.

Mission Central: Okay Sunrunner deliver this missive to your grapple and retrieval system. We’re going to run some tests on the exterior of the object then have you tow it to Gillroy Garrison in ninth sector. We want it out of the path of the next passenger liner due your way in a few days..

Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central,

RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

5.

I was visited by a warlock when I was still a boy.

He told me that if I grew up to be a good man, I would be visited by three witches.

The warlock told me that the Witches of Dunsinane would use their magic to make me a Champion.

The warlock told me that the Witches of Dunsinane would make me a king. Everything he told me came true.

Everything has a cost. I was to rid my world of unearthly evil. To be powerful, the magic had to be simple:

Those that would do you harm must risk the same. I was a mirror held up to my own death. As with all weapons I had been crafted in opposition to another. The Dragon had been sent to rule us.

The armies of humankind were simple amusements to the Dragon. The first of the worms I contested could smell the power in me. It offered to make me its Errant.

“Leave this world in peace, or stay as my enemy.� I said.

Rage at my insolence drove its true power outward. I felt as if a well filled within me. I was the Champion of humankind. I was Impossible. The more powerful my enemy the more able I became.

I hewed the monster’s limb from it’s body. A current boiled inside me. I was a storm cloud, each motion was wind and thunder and lightning. The Dragon spit his magic words at me.

That is all they were to me : words. What are words to a king?

The game we played had the world as it’s prize.

I was a weapon. I was a deterrent.

GMB Chomichuk is a Canadian writer, teacher, mixed media artist, graphic novelist and proud Winnipegger. He won the Manitoba Young Writers Award when he was 15. He won the Manitoba Book Award for Best Illustrated Book in 2011 for his graphic novel serial The Imagination Manifesto. His experimental sci-fi graphic novel experiment Raygun Gothic was nominated for Canada’s Best Graphic Novel and Best Illustrator by the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association. You can find his writing ( without pictures, gasp!) in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post Apocalypse and his illustrations accompanying many stories in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His newest graphic novel The Underworld ( with Lovern Kindzierski ) will be out this year from Renegade Arts Entertainment. Cassie and Tonk an all ages story about a girl and her robot at the end of the world ( illustrated by Justine Currie) will launch at the Toronto Book Fair in November. 2015 will see the release of Infinitum A full length time-travel-noir graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated for CZP. Watch his creative process unfold on the CBC documentary Artists By Night also out March 2015. Follow him on twitter or instagram @gmbchomichuk for visit www.alchemicalpress.com

Raygun Gothic the live draft is available online at www.alchemicalpress.com and issuu.com/raygungothic

When nessessary I fought to win the resources I needed and my legend grew.

Mine was an army with a pure mission. Find those who did not belong on this world and seem them off or see them dead.

No shore escaped us.

No Dragon escaped me.

I kept my Oath.

The Dragons left earth.

Now they want to destory it. If they cannot have it. None can. They have sent a terrible beast to ravage teh earth. We must reach it before it reaches earth. . It is aquiring power as it moves. Only one daughter? We would make it anew.

Why earth? Why in the thousand worlds of a a section of the stars a hundred light years across, what made earth so special. Arimnetes explained it to me once long ago. We are the only stop in a great Galactic dessert. An oasis. At an oasis many creatures come to drink, predators asnd prey alike. Out world was not the only one of it’s kind, but it was the only one of it’s kind for a hundred years travel in any direction. It was a waypoint in the travels of nine species that we knew of. Life was abundant here, and resiliant, and quick to reproduce. Our inlettegence made us excellent slaves and our tendancies to gather in large groups made us eay to catch. Our imaginations made our religions easy to manipulate.

When I had promised to defend my lands. The Oath had menat all of them.

All types of horros had invaded out land intent o make them their own.

As you were made a king to slay dragons, so was I made a monster to kill kings. The suble actions of the beasts had placed Errants in many places you might never reach for all your bravado and power.

I knew them all my their true faces. I became nessesary to take their beloved kings and show them as they were. Invaders. Outlanders. Monsters. THe Dragon’s Errants were many.

You hunted monsters, I became one. YOu protected the land. I protect the people from themselves.

You hunted creatures of the flesh I hunted their machines. Their dopplegangers and their automotons.

Their secret machines are what I was made to destroy.

I was not alone.

I had mad a promise to the Witches of Dunsimain. They would make me a king and I in turn would rid the land of monsters. I had made a promise and indended to keep it. My Oath kept me alive/

“We are both Impossible you and I, both shepards, bot better than we were born. What they intened what they wanted, does it matter what they wanted. Whay they promised it? They are alien after all. unknowable.” “They wanted us to be able to choose our destiny, to choose and grow without interfearance.” “They made you a king, for five thousand years you have been a king. Is it enough?” “I gave my word. It is my bond. My word endures. True endures. Honor endures.” “There has not been a xenomorphic spieces encountered in two thousand years. All the one that came you, or I or othere like us killed them.” “I know the monsters remain, and that I must kill them” “Why?” “If I was free of my bond, I would be able to die.”

The true talent of the powerful is to co-opt the genius of the weak. As observers they could calulate and monitor, but they needed catalysts to stimulate the changes they sought. It was a struggle humanity was suited to becasue it was in our DNA. To subvert one culture to suit another. It was two opposing forces doing battle with the population of a third. Humanity was a testing ground for weapons they were affraid to use anywhere else. But when you are met with defeat again and again there is not choice, abandon control or intervene personally.

To create evolution you must first introduce the possibility of extinction. Every world in the Human Empire was ruled by a single city state from which that world derived it’s name. No identity but the ruling class. Illium rulled a world through it’s technological dominance. This woman had taken over a planet in a bloodless coup. Now under the guise of her release the 9th fleet made war overhead.

I was defeated. wracked by pain I had not known for three millenia. Prostrate before a women who emerged from the her protected alcove. History knew her by many names. But I never forgot the very first I have heard. Morganna Le Fay. The Dragon’s Consort. She spoke to the tiny person in her arms.

“Say hello to your father. ”

RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk

presents

3.

“This was not the future any one of us imagined. Yet here it is.”

As some of your are aware, new operative agents have been given clearance level above black-secret in order to see and discuss this informaton. Occult Warfare and Logistics has again come into direct and measurable contact with esoteric societies in conflict. To date this is the most physical evidance we have ever collected, and most compiled data to ever be shared to a group as large as yourselves.

This is a flying man. The footage was captured on silver phosphate reel film, the most reliable method of recording impossible events. As digital technology contines to become ubiquitous less and less amature evidence becomes available. Usually we go ten or more years without a sighting this careless.

The same day in the same city in the same hour this image was captured by an undercover agent who had subverted an existing occult terror cell in San Fransisco

They went fully operational and we feared a major terror attack on the citizenry. Instead they targeted this man.

Our OWL agent inside the cell gave this report in his briefing after being revived in hospital. Agent Hickman is currently undergoing a seven month rehabilitation program. He is not expected to walk again. “Our orders came as always through a dream dilivery to the cell leader. We were each contacted and given the coded message that told us when and where to meet. It was an all clear. It means bring everything, every weapon and supply. When we arrived we were given a capture order. A room was prepared with the intent on prolonged torture, then dismemberment and decapitation, then incineration. That’s when I knew it would be a Impossible. I contacted my handler emidiatly. It was my job to attempt soul capture using silver film. We arrived on scene and took the place hard, all stealth was irgonred in favor of surprise. But that man was waiting for us. He was waiting there, sitting cross legged in that redicoulous head dress and suit. We breached with flash bangs and smoke and he just sat there calmly while we surrounded him. He,, he, he asked us to surrended. He stood up. Beaurillad told him to get on the floor. He just kept screaming. I took his picture. That shit doesn’t work on them. What a stupid idea. You can’t catch someone’s godamn soul in a picture. But i think that camera saved my life. My SMG was slung so I could use this big vintage camera, pop the flash goes then I feel my leg snap, and something hit me in the gut, low then I couldn’t breath at all. I’m on the ground, coughing and crying and screaming. But I’m alive I think because I didn’t have a gun on him.

He killed all of them in less time than it takes to tell you about it.

Agent Hickman then lost conciousness but physical evidence on the scene allows us to tell you what then transpired. The impossible left the scene traveling east and was intercepted by a helicopter. Eye witnesses confirm this.

That sound. Meat and bone splintering.

He killed all of them in less time then it takes to tell you about it.

Fredricks was last down turing for the door to run I guess. He cut of the Fredrick’s head with his hand.

I think what we are seeing is some sort civil conflict. I think something happened to their ruling class. Without structure and stratafication factions are all moving to fill the void int he power structure.

The danger here, the very real danger, it that one of these groups is going to view us as a threat. We are dealing with 13 or more factions all predicated on the notion that first strike provides them a possition of strength. If OWL is precieved as a threat we will be targeted and attacked.

“Hello.”


RAYGUN GOTHIC : Parts 1 to 5