Issue 3: Action, That's How! (A Caper in Time Part 2)

by Evan Forman and Michael Robertson - One Chapter a Week Starting 27.11.16


Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - King Zaedar is Introduced, He Learns of Our Hero’s Exploits in Issue #2, and A Mysterious Force Awakens™ From The Depths of The Ancient Past
Chapter 2 - John Boss - Incredibly - Escapes from "The White Palace of Death”, Shoots A BUNCH of Dudes, and Makes His Way to The Relative Safety of Dryadora’s Coal District
Chapter 3 - Dhubagèl Escorts Aerin Through The Sewers of Dryadora, But Maybe Also His Subconscious? What I Mean is We Get to Know More About This Previously Mysterious and At Points Unsettling Character, and The Subterranean Setting is Associated - in Jungian Psychoanalysis - With The Subconscious, So That Works
Chapter 4 - That Relatively Sedate Chapter Was Just a Break from The All-Important Action! As John Boss and Chel Make Their Way Through The Coal District In Their Attempt to Find Safe Refuge, But Not Without The Police Giving Chase
Chapter 5 - John Boss, Aerin Liette, Dhubagèl Shaen, Chel Hagar, and More are Finally United, and Ready to Strike Back Against King Zaedar’s Brutal Regime
Chapter 6 - The Past 30 Years of Aerin's Life Are Unlived for the Sake of the Plot, by Which I Mean Primarily the Plot of This Book, but Also the Plot Which the Red Hand Formulate in This Chapter, Which - If That Wasn't Obvious to You, Reader - Is a Clever Bit of Wordplay on the Similarities between The "Diegetic" Rebellion's Plot Which Requires Sacrifice, in a Very Fatalistic, Heroic Sort of Way, and The "Non-Diegetic" Aristotelian Plot Structure Which Requires Sacrifice in a Very Ritualistic “High-Maintenance Volcano God” Sort of Way
Chapter 7 - In a ‘Baroque Formalism’ Power Move, Four Conversations between John Boss the 34th and the Three Members of the Dryadora Red Hand Cell Are Intercut with a Scene of Domestic Mundanity, and a Scene of Great Heroism Which Is Also a Flashback into the past of John Boss the 41st. For the Purposes of Light Genre Parody, a Minor Character Has a Silly Name; A Minor Character Waits for a Bus, Which Doesn't Actually Move the Plot Forward or Contribute to The Themeing in Any Meaningful Way, And a Minor Character Mentions Things from Wurld’s past but Doesn’t Explain Them, Which Gives You That Kind of High-Fantasy Texture without the Bogged-Downedness That Comes with Fields of Exposition: All the Flavour of Fantasy with None of the Nutrition, and I Think That's Beautiful
Chapter 8 - The Night before the Operation, Aerin — Overcome by Insomnia — Hides Away in His Study and Distracts Himself from His Fear of Tomorrow's Events with the Comforting Familiarity of His Self-Loathing. Kreida Tries to Comfort Him and the Two End up Comparing Notes on a Relationship Forged under the Crucible Pressures of Mental Illness. It's Actually Really Nice.
Chapter 9 - There's a Flashback to an Episode from Chel Hagar's past with Revealing Parallels to Another Episode from Chel Hagar's Past: Chapter 7 of Issue #2. You Might Assume This Is Our Only Reason for Jumping Back a Few Years in Time, but Only If You Pay Attention Will You Notice That We're Subtly Reminding You of and Expanding on the Sub-Sub-Plot of Dryadora and / or the Whole Elvin Empire's failing Electricity System, Because That's Going to Be Important Later. We Then Seamlessly Transition into the Red Hand Cell's Infiltration of the DTV Station Where the Tapes of What Actually Happened in the Arena Are Kept. Being the End of Act II / Beginning of Act III, Things Go a Bit Skiwhiff and the Chapter Ends on a Thrilling Cliffhanger That You'll Have to Wait 'Til next Sunday to See Resolved!
Chapter 10 - Aerin and Krieda Spend Most of the Day in Dryadora's Pearl District, a Nice Day out Which Is Actually a Ruse by Aerin to Get near the Arena Where the Prime Minister Is Making His Speech. Krieda Is Conveniently Scheduled to Visit Her Parents in the Afternoon, so This Gives Aerin the Perfect Opportunity for a Heartbreaking Goodbye Scene before He Goes to Infiltrate the Press Crowd and Place Lockswell's Signal Jammer on the DTV Van's Satellite. Aerin and Dhubagèl Engage in Some Breathtakingly Suspenseful Scenes of Social Deception, but Are They Wily Enough to Avoid Detection by the Already On-Edge Members of the Prime Minister's Elite Guard? Also, How Good Was Doctor Who Last Night?
Chapter 11 - The Red Hand Defend the Control Room as Their Broadcast Goes out to the World. They Flee, and after a High-Octane Chase Scene They Escape into the Forests. All Hope Seems Lost, but Then They Are Saved by a Mysterious Character from an Earlier Point in the Story in a Way That Is Surprising but, Crucially, Still Made Inevitable by the Aristotelian Clockwork We've Established up until This Point. I Liked This Week's Doctor Who a Lot More Than Frank Cottrell-Boyce's Last Episode. It's Good That We're Getting More Fully-Realised Alien Planets In The Show Again
Chapter 12 - The Twelfth One

IN OUR PREVIOUS ADVENTURE...

“Once upon a time, about two hundred years ago, there was a man. This man was known far and wide throughout Wurld. Some knew him as a hero, some knew him as a scoundrel, many didn't even believe he was real. But wherever there was trouble to be got in, an adventure to be had, buckles to be swashed, that man was there. The old stories say this man had accrued bounties in every kingdom over a thousand years old, and so phantasmagorically high, that the person who handed him in dead or alive would surely become the richest person on the planet. But nobody did. Nobody ever could. Because legend has it that one night, after saving the little town of Ludorena from a pack of rampaging bandits, the man simply...disappeared off the face of the continent."

"So? What does this have to do with anything?"

"Hello. My name is John Boss." He snapped his fingers, and the handcuffs magically sprung off his wrists as he reclined in his chair. "You may have heard of me."

~~~~~

Aerin struggled to avert his gaze from the painting as he stepped over the various objects on the floor. Dhubagèl's enthusiasm faded. "Alas, The Red Death was met at the gates of Dryadora by the entire massed armies of King Praeon's newly formed empire." Dhubagèl stood back next to Aerin to appreciate the picture, his hands behind his back. "It was a war for history itself, the last great battle ever fought in this land. And we lost. By some cruel absence of fate, he lost. The Red Hand's city-burning days are long over, but we still fight to keep the story alive."

Aerin inspected the painted landscape. What was once the city of Dryadora lit up the background below a constellation of flaming arrows which tore across the night sky. In the fields on the left of the painting, little elvin soldiers were being chewed up and spat out by demonic creatures with five faces. The composition was dominated by the figure of The Red Death himself, standing on a cliff and literally painted red with what looked like the blood of his enemies. Despite the huge black beard with framed his grimace, Aerin still recognised his face instantly. He wore some steel vambraces on his wrists, the pelt of a monster whose stuffed face roared at the viewer, and a gold metal eyepatch decorated to look like another open eye. In his right hand he held an axe, bloodied by the elvin soldier who lay dead behind him. And in his left hand, raised defiant against the black night, was a flaming red scimitar.

~~~~~

The surgeon's rubber thumb peeled John's eyelid upwards, and beads of sweat rolled down his forehead as he frantically struggled against the bindings. John couldn't speak, couldn't do anything but grunt and growl as the cold steel spike slid across the veiny surface of his inner eyelid and gently pressed down on the back of his left eyeball. He was terrified it was going to burst like a grape. "And a three..."

He took a little hammer and positioned it against the blunt end of the spike.

"Two..."

He gently raised and lowered it, lining up the angle before raising it properly.

"One."

AND NOW, THE MIND-STRETCHING NEXT INSTALMENT OF OUR THRILLING STORY!

"No, look, here’s the question you should all be asking: ‘what kind of story are we trying to tell here?’ What you need to do is emphasise that this was a calculated move by the terrorists, and that we must not let the political unity of our country unravel in the face of these attacks. That much should be clear." The elf grasped at his thinning black hair, elbows resting on the vast circular table. "You could have...news reports showing the units in combat! Yes!" His finger stabbed the wood, bent and quivering. "Remind the people of all these machines have achieved in just a few short years. We need to make it simple: the Red Hand are deluded, psychotic villains threatening to destroy our history, our people, our very way of life, and a Siran X-01 in every borough would be a triumph for peace and safety in our nation."

"Yes, Prime Minister." A young elf wearing an immaculate suit with slicked-back hair nodded along with every pause in Priomar’s tirade as he scribbled it down into a little notebook. The Prime Minister downed the last of his sandwater coffee. He looked at his digital watch: 11:38PM.

"But what of the instigator, the creature responsible for this mess?" croaked an ancient elf in slippers and silk pyjamas at the opposite side of the table, his voice muffled by an oxygen mask. Behind him, a wall-to-wall-floor-to-ceiling tapestry depicted Ai Shub'fhalma, god of nature and lord of all beasts which sprung from his seed. His eyes were closed in a vision of serene wisdom and his muscular arms were marked with the figures of all creatures of his creation, some of whom stood around the scene and looked in awe at its focal point. Between his palms, in the centre of the image, floated a crown of branches adorned with green leaves and weaved into a circle; below that crown, the red flames that burned across the bottom of the image turned yellow around their source; and in the centre of it all, arms outstretched and burning white: the silhouette of a man, obscured by holy light.

"I'm just looking at the reports right now, your majesty,” said a wireframe elf behind wireframe glasses. “Apparently, it didn't have an electronic chip or any kind of identifying marks. The only name we can put to it is the name it gave the police who captured it and the name given to it by the arena managers: ‘John Boss’. Now, here’s the thing-” he paused as he searched through his binder for the relevant piece of paper.

The king sighed in the meantime, fiddling with his ornate cane as he turned to the prime minister. "’John Boss’. Do you hear that, Priomar? We are gathered here tonight because of a clown."

The Prime Minister took a short breath, then stopped. The silence he left was interrupted by a little door in the far corner of the room creaking open as a hooded monk in ascetic brown robes scuttled over to the king. “Your majesty-”

"Quiet!" He spat. "Whatever bloody pills you want me to take this time, they can wait. Is it so hard for you to fathom that we are discussing matters of national importance here!?" The monk stood still for a moment, then pulled up the sleeve of his robe and stabbed a button on a wrist-mounted remote. He stepped away from the king as the tapestry of Ai Shub'fhalma parted down the middle and retracted to the sides with audible weight. The stoic monk’s voice trembled as a tear spotted the stone floor below his hood. “H-he’s awake, Zaedar. He’s awake.”

King Zaedar Valler the Third grunted as he heaved his bloated body out of his chair, the wheels of his oxygen tank squealing as he dragged it to the section of the room that had been hidden behind the tapestry. By the time he’d reached the dusty console of dials and levers, the curtain had parted totally, revealing everything behind it in dim candlelight. The other elves at the table stood up, some visibly moved by religious awe, all paralysed by silent horror.

The king’s shaking fingers grasped a stiff dial and yanked it from 0 to 10. Two dusty speakers in the corners of the room crackled and popped into life, and a monotonous electric voice began to chant: "John. Boss. John. Boss. John. Boss. John. Boss. John. Boss."

Nobody dared to speak first.

The old king didn't turn around for a while, transfixed by the voice drumming against his ears, and then he spoke. "Mr. Cennard, what else do you know of this...John Boss?”

It took a second before Mr. Cennard’s arm responded to the signal from his brain, his eyes fixating on the thing behind the curtain. He picked up his file, adjusted his glasses and spoke over the synthetic mantra. “As I was going to say, your majesty, the naming of this beast is as troubling as it is strange. You see, ‘John Boss’ is a name that appears in documents we’ve recovered from the Red Hand a number of times. John Boss is a near-mythical warrior of legendary stature among their ranks. Proficient in every known form of combat, John Boss is reported to have been captured on three occasions, and on three occasions has crippled military outposts single-handedly. John Boss has also led several devastating attacks on various bases and pieces of military, governmental or agricultural infrastructure throughout the Collisterra territories. Boss has been a consistent threat for the better part of a decade, which we thought would have neutralised when we raided the Red Hand’s main headquarters - ‘The Manor’ - six months ago. We identified all one-hundred and six corpses, none of them John Boss. Since then, we have only had one reported sighting, which was later dismissed as rumour.”

Mr. Cennard closed the file, not convinced that its official language had quite expressed the gravity of whatever situation they were about to get into. “John Boss is, quite simply, the most dangerous woman in the world.”

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - King Zaedar is Introduced, He Learns of Our Hero’s Exploits in Issue #2, and A Mysterious Force Awakens™ From The Depths of The Ancient Past
Chapter 2 - John Boss - Incredibly - Escapes from "The White Palace of Death”, Shoots A BUNCH of Dudes, and Makes His Way to The Relative Safety of Dryadora’s Coal District
Chapter 3 - Dhubagèl Escorts Aerin Through The Sewers of Dryadora, But Maybe Also His Subconscious? What I Mean is We Get to Know More About This Previously Mysterious and At Points Unsettling Character, and The Subterranean Setting is Associated - in Jungian Psychoanalysis - With The Subconscious, So That Works
Chapter 4 - That Relatively Sedate Chapter Was Just a Break from The All-Important Action! As John Boss and Chel Make Their Way Through The Coal District In Their Attempt to Find Safe Refuge, But Not Without The Police Giving Chase
Chapter 5 - John Boss, Aerin Liette, Dhubagèl Shaen, Chel Hagar, and More are Finally United, and Ready to Strike Back Against King Zaedar’s Brutal Regime
Chapter 6 - The Past 30 Years of Aerin's Life Are Unlived for the Sake of the Plot, by Which I Mean Primarily the Plot of This Book, but Also the Plot Which the Red Hand Formulate in This Chapter, Which - If That Wasn't Obvious to You, Reader - Is a Clever Bit of Wordplay on the Similarities between The "Diegetic" Rebellion's Plot Which Requires Sacrifice, in a Very Fatalistic, Heroic Sort of Way, and The "Non-Diegetic" Aristotelian Plot Structure Which Requires Sacrifice in a Very Ritualistic “High-Maintenance Volcano God” Sort of Way
Chapter 7 - In a ‘Baroque Formalism’ Power Move, Four Conversations between John Boss the 34th and the Three Members of the Dryadora Red Hand Cell Are Intercut with a Scene of Domestic Mundanity, and a Scene of Great Heroism Which Is Also a Flashback into the past of John Boss the 41st. For the Purposes of Light Genre Parody, a Minor Character Has a Silly Name; A Minor Character Waits for a Bus, Which Doesn't Actually Move the Plot Forward or Contribute to The Themeing in Any Meaningful Way, And a Minor Character Mentions Things from Wurld’s past but Doesn’t Explain Them, Which Gives You That Kind of High-Fantasy Texture without the Bogged-Downedness That Comes with Fields of Exposition: All the Flavour of Fantasy with None of the Nutrition, and I Think That's Beautiful
Chapter 8 - The Night before the Operation, Aerin — Overcome by Insomnia — Hides Away in His Study and Distracts Himself from His Fear of Tomorrow's Events with the Comforting Familiarity of His Self-Loathing. Kreida Tries to Comfort Him and the Two End up Comparing Notes on a Relationship Forged under the Crucible Pressures of Mental Illness. It's Actually Really Nice.
Chapter 9 - There's a Flashback to an Episode from Chel Hagar's past with Revealing Parallels to Another Episode from Chel Hagar's Past: Chapter 7 of Issue #2. You Might Assume This Is Our Only Reason for Jumping Back a Few Years in Time, but Only If You Pay Attention Will You Notice That We're Subtly Reminding You of and Expanding on the Sub-Sub-Plot of Dryadora and / or the Whole Elvin Empire's failing Electricity System, Because That's Going to Be Important Later. We Then Seamlessly Transition into the Red Hand Cell's Infiltration of the DTV Station Where the Tapes of What Actually Happened in the Arena Are Kept. Being the End of Act II / Beginning of Act III, Things Go a Bit Skiwhiff and the Chapter Ends on a Thrilling Cliffhanger That You'll Have to Wait 'Til next Sunday to See Resolved!
Chapter 10 - Aerin and Krieda Spend Most of the Day in Dryadora's Pearl District, a Nice Day out Which Is Actually a Ruse by Aerin to Get near the Arena Where the Prime Minister Is Making His Speech. Krieda Is Conveniently Scheduled to Visit Her Parents in the Afternoon, so This Gives Aerin the Perfect Opportunity for a Heartbreaking Goodbye Scene before He Goes to Infiltrate the Press Crowd and Place Lockswell's Signal Jammer on the DTV Van's Satellite. Aerin and Dhubagèl Engage in Some Breathtakingly Suspenseful Scenes of Social Deception, but Are They Wily Enough to Avoid Detection by the Already On-Edge Members of the Prime Minister's Elite Guard? Also, How Good Was Doctor Who Last Night?
Chapter 11 - The Red Hand Defend the Control Room as Their Broadcast Goes out to the World. They Flee, and after a High-Octane Chase Scene They Escape into the Forests. All Hope Seems Lost, but Then They Are Saved by a Mysterious Character from an Earlier Point in the Story in a Way That Is Surprising but, Crucially, Still Made Inevitable by the Aristotelian Clockwork We've Established up until This Point. I Liked This Week's Doctor Who a Lot More Than Frank Cottrell-Boyce's Last Episode. It's Good That We're Getting More Fully-Realised Alien Planets In The Show Again
Chapter 12 - The Twelfth One