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

21 HOURS, 39 MINUTES, AND 23 SECONDS

The black van trundled up the stream of wet mud passing off as a country road. “The Secretary of State for Energy has today blamed the three-day blackout that affected Dryadora City and the surrounding area on freak weather,” said the voice on the radio. “At around 11PM last Sunday, a short rainstorm fell over Valebar power station. When lightning struck the building it caused a ‘chain reaction’, which led to a complete power outage across a thirty mile radius. The Energy Secretary also expressed his ‘deepest condolences’ to the fifteen people who died as a result of the blackout, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the power outage that affected Dryadora City for a week in the winter of 2174. That’s all from me just now, but I'll be back at 6 with all the latest headlines. Back to you, Kanan.”

Atair caught sight of his right sideburn in the rear view mirror, fingering the overgrowth of dark brown hair. “D’you think I'm going gray, Chel?”

She watched the tadpoles of rainwater slithering down the window and crashing into each other’s tails. “It’s all we’ve been talking about for the past three weeks.”

He smirked and laughed through his nose, then his mouth fell into genuine concern. “No but really.”

“It’s fine, it’ll suit you. You’re ripening.”

His head fell into his hand in despair. “Oh, god.”

Chel cackled as the van slowed to a stop over the rumbling gravel at the edge of the farm. In the middle of a darkly vast expanse of wet grass, wire fences, hay bales and cow shit sat this anonymous metal shed. She had seen a hundred others like it on various road trips in her life but — she would later think to herself — never had she bothered to think about what might be inside.

The shed’s large door slid to one side and out walked a woman wearing a white coat with ‘OONER BLANK / BLANK OONER’ printed above the breast pocket and a long plastic glove that covered the entire length of her arm. She greeted the officers anxiously. “You’re here about the theft, yes?”

“See, that’s the thing,” replied Atair. “How do you know it’s a theft? Could just be a disappearance. That’s what we’re here to find out.”

Chel tried not to screw up her face as the smell of hay flooded her nostrils and pricked the back of her throat. The woman laughed a little beneath her anger. “I highly doubt that these swivel-eyed buggers could figure out which way to run even if they did escape their pens.” The shed stretched forward just about as far as Chel could see, and she was flanked on both sides by chest-high gates separated by rough brick walls. The compartments were identical: the same cool concrete floor with the same mound of hay and the same ring with a chain with a collar with an ape on the end. They didn’t look like people, Chel thought, they looked like parodies of people. Their skin was always patchy and discoloured regardless of their breeding (even the most consistently dark had odd palms and soles), and their round little faces had none of the aesthetic refinements of higher evolution; no cheekbones to speak of and the hilarious circular ears which gave away their origins in the wombs of gorillas.

Atair was taking notes on a little pad of paper. “So can you describe what the missing humans looked like? Who do you think might have taken them? What motivation might they have?”

“Well what the hell do you think they looked like?” snapped the woman. “They’re humans, they look like humans. As for the fuckers that stole them, it’ll be breeders. They’ll be looking to expand their gene pool on the cheap, it’s the season for it. I’ve found a bloodstain on the fence where they took them, I'll show you just now.”

“Right. Chel?”

“Mhmm?”

“Get the forensics kit from the van, look for fingerprints on the handles of doors and gates. Catch up with us at the fence.”

“It’s just out there,” pointed the woman. “Straight across from the side door, you’ll see us.”

“Sure.” Chel nodded and walked back in the direction of the large main entrance, likely used for trucks moving the cargo about. Atair and Ooner’s voices faded outside.

Somebody whispered from the dark. “Shell.”

Chel stopped dead and looked around, there was nobody else in the building. “Hello?”

“Shell is a nice name.”

“It’s…who’s there?”

A chain rattled in the distance, stirring some of the sleeping humans. “Here, Shell.”

She crept over to the source of the noise. Assuming she was talking to an unseen farmer, she was looking over the pens - not inside - when the chain rattled insistently. Her eyes widened when she saw him. His head had been shaven some weeks ago, and his veiny arms clung to the chain which kept him sat at the other side of the pen. “I see your surprise. They don’t thought I good breed Elvish, but I do,” he whispered.

Chel heart was racing, and adrenaline coldly sluicing through her, not sure if she should shout for Atair or kill the thing. “H-how…can you…”

He grinned with all three of his teeth. “Allow me to say hello oneself. Your name is Jonathan.”

She swallowed for the first time in minutes. “Hello, Jonathan Henry. My name’s…Chel.”

“Shell. Good.”

“No, Chel. Emphasis on the ‘ch’.”

“Shhhhhhh-”

“Nevermind. Jonathan Henry…what are you doing here? How can you speak?”

“Yes!” He flailed his arms in some exaggerated shrugging motion. “Shell Elvish. Elvish want to slaughter Jonathan… Henross.”

“Yes, Jonathan… Chel Elvish. Listen, do you know anything about what happened here, last night?”

“Oh!” He slapped his bony hands over his mouth. “Sob Goss knows. Jonathan sometime call Sob Goss.”

Chel stepped forward, her fists clenched to hide her trembling hands. “What do you know?”

Jonathan Henry smiled. “Don Goss knows words. Lon Coss knows all the best words, Shon Ross knows the secret words that get your tongue eaten! They used to break rocks!” He held up his fists. “Rob Boss now is too small to break rocks, too small to lay bricks.” He stood up and pointed at his legs. “Bob Ross now will go to eat!”

“Jonathan, stay down! You have to stay down!”

Bob Ross stood up and gasped as he stood up over the wall of his enclosure and down the length of the shed. “Light!” He pointed ecstatically at the open doors through which sunlight was starting to reflect off the wet grass outside.

“Yes, Jonathan.” Chel stated flatly, slightly confused. “Light. Now, why don’t you just sit back-”

“Light’s come back. The light touched Bob Ross once, in the pit,” said Jonathan. “See around these people?” He pointed at the neighbouring cages. “Very pale, the light never touch them. Not ever.”

“Sit down, Jonathan, please, then I can speak to you. You don’t want to get tased, do you?”

“Taste! Yes! Food’s over here, Bob Ross show you!”

Bob Ross shot over the length of his pen, the end of his chain tearing from beneath the pile of hay. Chel’s hand grasped the trigger of her taser gun, her arm whipped back upwards and her finger pulled back on the trigger. In half a second, the translucent wire that connected Chel’s gun to its dart was flailing around as Bob Ross danced. The taser hit the ground and Bob Ross howled as he fell onto a puddle of his own piss.

Atair and the farmer came running in. He had his gun ready as he bolted around the corner and landed like a bomb at Chel’s side. “What the hell happened?!”

Chel stood with her arms dangling at her sides. Her eyes fixed on the corpse, the corner of her lips that nobody could see quivered. “He wasn’t chained up right, he just started shouting about food then he launched at me.”

Ooner, who was considerably smaller than the two police officers, spoke up. “I don’t know how he…” She opened the gate — her hand in a shiny plastic glove that covered the whole length of her arm, like the condom a snake would wear if that were even remotely how that worked — and inspected the emaciated corpse in the brown puddle. “The whole ring’s come off, he must’ve loosened it from the actual ground somehow.” She stood back up and faced the officers. “I am so, so sorry about this. Is there anything-”

“No.” said Atair. “I have my leads anyway. Unless there’s anything else you think I should know…”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll phone you if I remember anything else.”

Chel walked ahead of Atair, looking straight ahead at the light from the door, down past the dozens of cages with wide eyes that reflected back at her in the musty dark. She held up her hand, shielding her eyes from the sun as she made it back to the van. She tried not to slam the door.

Tried.

Atair got in and started the engine. The farmer stood at the door and waved limply as the van rumbled backwards over the gravel, and she’d turned to go back and clean up the mess before the van had lurched forward down the slope again.

“It’s really bright now,” said Chel, squinting as sunlight glistened off every puddle.

“You’re not okay so I'm not going to ask,” said Atair. “I will say that it was you or him, and the world is better off with it not being you. Anyway, it’s an animal.”

“It spoke.”

“So do parrots. It’s just repeating the few Elvish words its brain can hold. Don’t lose sleep over it, lass.”

“Suppose you’re right,” she muttered, compulsively scratching at the soft bit between the bones where her thumb and pointer finger connected to the flesh of her left hand.

Atair glanced over at her. “My sunglasses are in the glove compartment, if you’d like.”

“Cheers.” She put them on and tried to put Bob Ross the human male with the big eyes and the shaved head and the skinny arms who worked in a quarry before he got too old or weak for physical labour but not too old or weak to work the chain out of the floor and who noticed the sunlight and decided to get food before you shot him exactly in the heart with a taser and killed him out of her mind. She turned on the radio, which blabbered pleasing distraction for the rest of the journey, until John Boss stopped outside the DTV broadcasting station and they put on their black visors.

“It’s the 18th day of the Suffocation and you’re listening to Channel 1. The Prime Minister is scheduled to make his address outside the Dryadoran amphitheatre shortly.”

Chel strode through the herds of nervous office workers, secretly actually quite impressed at this towering brutalist machine where they made The Stars Are Out Tonight, Addicted to Glamour, and Celebrity Speedeating, but deathly serious as she and her entourage of shadows were guided around various curves and corners by the little archivist who had been called up to the reception when they arrived unannounced. The archivist didn’t make any small talk as she nervously led them to the basement. Confiscations happened from time to time, some old footage was 'requested' for 'specialist study offsite' and was never seen again. By anyone. This was serious though, they usually didn’t send four armed officers to collect a canister of film. And it WAS just the one, she thought, by now the producers knew that any news reports showing even a still from the film would be contaminated, and thusly “relevant to the investigation”.

“If you’ll just take a seat here,” said the archivist when she closed the viewing room door behind them, “I'll have the film ready for you in a second.”

“Thanks.” Chel smiled as she sat down at the flimsy-looking faux wood table. Through the fat rectangular window in the door, the others standing around the room could see into the archive, a vast tunnel filled with rows of huge gray boxes which formed the clusters of shelves. The archivist was alone, John Boss the 34th watched through his visor as she pottered down the imposingly long corridor, to a tiny phone mounted at the bottom of a vertical expanse of concrete wall.

“The fuck is she phoning?” whispered Boss 41.

“Stay calm, maybe she’s got to get approval from someone…” the syllable dragged and deflated in Chel’s mouth “…or something.”

“‘Something’? As in she’s phoning the demon who runs TV?” whispered Lockswell.

“No as in just… ending a sentence with no actual end.”

John Boss the 41st crept over to the exit door and gently tried the handle. “It’s locked.”

“What?” Chel shot around.

“It’s just a little knob below the handle, nothing that could actually stop us if we wanted to leave.”

Lockswell put his hand on his gun. “Do we want to leave?”

John Boss folded her arms and paced around the room for a moment. She pulled out her radio. “Täikur, what are they saying on the comms?”

From his nest of wires and consoles Täikur responded over the radio. “Nothing but preparations for the speech. Dhubagèl arrived there a few minutes ago. Is everything okay?”

“She’s supposed to be coming back with the tape!” She shouted under her breath. “She’s phoning someone and she’s looking over at us and this was not part of the plan! I did not plot around this speccy goblin bitch- sorry-” she glanced at Chel “-if you hear a single word, call me.” She ended the call before he could respond.

Lockswell had been the most relaxed of the group. “Look at her, what’s she doing now?”

John strode towards the window and looked out at the archivist, who was now looking visibly scared even from all the way over. John calmly opened the door and leaned out. “Excuse me-”

The archivist screamed. John Boss the 41st threw open the door and started gliding towards her and coldly, calmly stated: “Why are you screaming, ma’am?”

“IT’S YOU!” She cried, the phone dangling pathetically beside her as she fell to the floor. “YOU KILLED THOSE OFFICERS AT THE HOSPITAL, DIDN’T YOU?! THE POLICE…” she gagged, then curled up and hid behind her arms.

“Look at me.” said John.

“W-whyyy?” she whined.

“Look. At. Me.”

The archivist weakly pulled her head up and saw her contorted, terrified face reflected in the visor. The person behind it spoke without inflection. “‘The police’, what?”

“They told us one of their own betrayed them. They told us you might come here.”

John spoke softly, applying a layer of compassion to her voice. “I’m not the person who shot up that hospital.”

The archivist saw the doubt on her own face in the black glass. She stabilised ever so slightly. “You’re not? Tell me you’re not.”

“We all look the same in this uniform, how would you know? I’m not the person who shot up that hospital.”

The archivist adjusted her glasses and breathed deeply, holding for four seconds, and repeat. At this point John flipped up her visor, and the woman tried to burrow into the wall behind her as she screamed in horror.

John Boss smiled with sadistic glee. “She, on the other hand, is.” She then stepped away to reveal Chel Hagar, who was stood still behind her.

“No no no no NO NO NOOO!” the archivist compressed herself into a ball as Chel approached.

Chel stepped forward and very calmly stated, “Miss, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You’re lying!” she whinged. “You’re a monster!”

“Monster?” John Boss bit her lip in anticipation. “Chel, you hear that? You’re a monster now.” She crept towards Chel, her feet gliding across the ground as she stopped at her side. “Embrace it, sweetness. Now’s your chance.” John took the gun from Chel’s belt and placed it in her hand, closing her fingers around its cool handle. “Look how she quivers at the sight of you. How long have you played at being civil? Bask in the terror of the society that hates you.” She took Chel’s arm by the shoulder and lifted it to aim at the archivist. “Bang.” She grinned and stepped back. Through glasses wet with tears the archivist looked up at Chel and waited to die.

“Your life depends on your answer to this question,” said Chel.

She wiped away a mixture of tears and snot with her sleeve and opened her eyes properly.

“Is this building surrounded by police officers, and are they coming for us right now?”

“Yes,” said the man on the phone.

Chel grabbed the archivist by the back of the neck, like a cat, hauled her up onto her feet and pressed the gun to her head. With her other hand she picked up the phone and looked into the security camera in the centre of the roof. “Hello. How can I help?”

The voice replied. "Give it up. We have this place surrounded!"

"And I have a hostage." Chel pushed the gun into her temple until her desperate cry could be heard on the other end of the phone.

The large double doors at the end of the room burst open. Police officers charged in and backed Chel, the archivist, Lockswell, and John Bosses 35 and 41 back against the wall. "Yeah…after everything you've put us through, we really couldn't give less of a shit about one life," explained the man on the phone.

Chel tightened her grip on the gun as she stared down a dozen barrels. "I WILL shoot her!"

On the top floor of the building, the police officer stood staring at Chel through the security camera while talking to her on the phone. "No need." He removed the radio from his belt and raised it to his mouth. "Fire."

One of the police officers surrounding the Red Hand shot the archivist between the eyes.

"Oh, well." John Boss the 41st shot the security camera. The room erupted.

The air became thick with lead. Police officers fired. Everyone dived behind two conveniently placed barriers at either side of the aisle. Chel landed in a combat roll and straightened into a kneeled firing position, years of training expressed in a single movement.

Boss 41 nodded to Lockswell who removed a flash grenade from his belt and threw it backwards over his shoulder.

With a cry of "GRENADE!" from a nameless voice, an explosion sent every loose object smashing and shattering against the walls. In the confusion, the Red Hand burst from their hiding place and leapt over the table, guns firing.

Officer 1 threw a punch at John Boss the 41st, who caught their fist and twisted it behind their back. She fired two shots in the faces of advancing officers 2 and 3. Twirling her pistol around until she was holding it by the barrel, she swung it like a club into Officer 1's shoulder, breaking his arm. She threw the pistol into the air and used the full force of her body to smash Officer 1's head into the desk, leaving a bloody dent in the wood. She spun, caught the pistol, and tore bullet holes through Officer 4 and 5.

Catching the vibrant red colour out of the corner of his eye, John Boss the 34th turned to see his descendant reach back into a sheath hidden in her vest and and pull out the scimitar of Doom Pirate Nazir Al-Zahabi.

With a smile, she looked at Officers 6, 7, and 8. "Looks like things are…hotting up."

As if on cue, the red blade of the scimitar burst into flames, as if the blade had been covered in fuel. Charging forward, Boss 41 effortlessly cleaved through her opponents.

Boss 34 punched Officer 9 full force in the face, knocking him into a coma, elbowed Officer 10 who was facing down Lockswell behind him. Officer 11 pumped a shotgun on the other side of the room. Taking a running start, Boss 34 - surrounded by film grain like the burning celluloid action / adventure programs burning and melting on the shelves around him - performed an immaculate power slide across the smooth floor, grabbed the end of the shotgun, and pointed the end of it downwards. No-longer braced safely against Officer 11's shoulder, the recoil sent the back of the shotgun punching backwards into his face, breaking his jaw. Boss 34 pulled the shotgun away from Officer 11 and whacked him in the face with it like swinging a bat.

Eventually, Boss 34 had fought his way to the centre of the room where he stood back-to-back with Boss 41. "Out of curiosity, how did you do that thing where you set your scimitar on fire?"

"Oh, it's quite simple," Boss 41 explained while casually ending Officer 12 and 13. "It’s been augmented with some kind of voice-recognition technology that listens for fire-based puns. It’s so dumb but it’s so good.”

"Huh," said Boss 34 as he uppercutted Officer 14 into the air. "Good to know…"

Mo Lockswell smacked Officer 15's machine gun to the left so that when he pulled the trigger half a second later he missed and riddled 16 with holes. Lockswell headbutted 15, breaking his nose and knocking him unconscious. Finally free of the fight, he charged into the archivist's office and started scanning the labels of the grey boxes for the film canister they needed. He saw a tray of films that hadn’t been stored yet. He looked through the boxes dated 17/09/14, as a bullet smashed the window, and found two films labelled “ARENA TAPES”. Now, thought Lockswell, as the door was ripped open by a police officer who was ripped open by John Boss the 41st’s scimitar: there was a score of arena fights earlier in the day and then there was the big primetime event later on. So one of these was definitely the tapes with the robot fight on it, and one of the officers who’d just throw a grenade towards the office was definitely running away as John Boss the 34th has batted it back at him with the butt of a gun. As he heard the assorted chunks of that officer slapping against the ground like heavy, meaty rain, he decided that since people read from left to right, and thusly imagine chronological time as something that goes from left to right (ask anyone to draw you a timeline of events on a piece of paper), of the identically-labelled canisters the one that had been rightmost on the trolley would be the one with the robot. Lockswell nodded satisfactorily, his clean-freak lizard brain fully sated, and turned back towards the chaos outside.

Chel stood by the office door, picking off Officers 17 and 18 as 19 ran screaming through the room after being set on fire by Boss 41's scimitar. In the centre of the room, 20 threw a punch at Boss 34 who blocked and punched back at ten times the force. Hearing a cry behind him, he ducked as Boss 41 swung her flaming scimitar over his head, beheading Officer 21. Recoiling her sword arm, she raised her gun arm and shot 22 and 23.

"I've got it!" shouted Lockswell.

"Okay! Everyone: to the control room." John Boss the 41st carved her way through 24, 25, 26, and 27, on her way across the room to the lift.

From down the hall, a fresh wave of heavily-armed troops charged into the building, pushing the Red Hand backwards. Chel backed into the lift just as Boss 41 shut the doors and they started to ascend.

The metal box they and their weapons had squeezed into carried them away from the sounds of gunfire and bellowed commands, immersing them in the sounds of casual, easy listening music. "Oh, I know this one!" said Boss 34, nodding towards Chel, who wearily told him to fuck off with her eyes.

The doors opened with a ding. Checking left, checking right, they made their way down the corridors which now seemed far too quiet.

"STOP THEM!" The 28th dead guard shouted. They couldn't pinpoint where the voice was coming from and they didn't dare stop to check. They just followed close behind Boss 41 as she lead them deeper into the TV centre.

She turned a corner and immediately un-turned it as Number 29 unloaded their bullets down the corridor at her. The un-turned corner shed chunks of plaster and flecks of wallpaper as bullets tore through it. Boss 41 could hear footsteps advancing towards the corner, but stayed motionless, counting off the bullets the footsteps were firing, until she head the click of an empty gun. On cue she emerged and ran 29 through with her flaming scimitar.

At the end of the corridor they found the control room and piled in. Boss 34 and Chel set about barricading the door behind them with filing cabinets and an old water cooler.

"Well, we're in. Probably not getting out." said Chel. "How are doing for time?"

The control room was a large but narrow space with dim lights and dozens of monitors. Lockswell approached the controls and starting loading in the film, looking at the large digital clock above the array of screens that read 1:17pm. "Aerin should have the signal jammer installed, we'll be ready to go in just a minute!"

"Did you know, in the remote nation of Binaria in the Erehwon islands, a minute lasts exactly eleven seconds?" Asked Boss 41, hearing more footsteps approaching.

After a failed attempt to push the door open, the officer's outside started to ram their way through.

"Got it!" shouted Lockswell. "We're ready to broadcast in three…"

A heavy force collided with the door, splintering it in the middle.

"Two!"

The barricaded filing cabinets fell away as armed guards stormed the small control room.

"ONE!"

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