The multiverse of megafania 
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:19:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Bayard 
Subject: tale the first: the multiverse of megafania

Friends, Fegs, countrymen, lend me your eyes.  I have a story of glory and
gory lore, a tale true and bad, and it badly needs telling.

You have received transmissions before from my colleage, one Dr. Oswald
Fane, Professor of Reknown.  There is not much call for this field anymore
these days and I fear he had entered into an uneasy retirement and may
have died.  He has left it to me to complete his dire warning and select
a Champion who might vanquish the horror that threatens to destroy us all.

I was made aware of him, as a wizard might, by a strange combination of
magic and technology.  Or was he made aware of me?  I was never sure... in
any case, this Champion, whose name I cannot reveal for fear that this
manuscript be discovered by the Enemy, contacted me from a land far
distant.  "O great wizard," he said to me, "I yearn for an Adventure, for
exotic lands and deeds of valor and great Reknown."  At these words I
startled and wondered if this stranger was in fact my friend Fane, for who
else would seek Reknown in these dark days?  "Why do you trouble me?" I
replied, for I am something of a curmudgeon.  "I know quite well that your
land has its own wizard, who would be better put to the scut of providing
such entertainments."

"Great one, our wizard is but a charlatan, a fraud, a single-band wiener
in comparison to your mastery of Space and Time," the man replied.
"Mmmm.. I *do* have intimate knowledge of the curvature of Time, the
spherical nature of Space..." I mused, accidentally speaking aloud.  "Then
you will help me!" the stranger cried.  "...Or is it the other way around?
Oh, bosh.  Very well!" I shouted.  "I will provide you with a quest.  But
it is not without peril.  You will very likely perish.  For you will be
seeking the Greatest of All Evils, which can only be found in the Worst of
Both Worlds, or should you go very far afield, the Worst of All Possible

"This I shall do, and gladly."

"So be it.  Your journey begins... now!"


L'HOTEL DE VERRE WAS, or rather is, a saloon and boarding house on the
edge of the West, that is to say, the Frontier.  Our Traveller entered the
customary swinging doors and a passel of gunfighters whirled guiltily to
face him, much like people checking their email at work.  "Er.... Howdy,
y'all," said the Traveller.

"Howdy, Stranger," said the leader of the gang.  "My name's Runyin, but
they call me Mike the Viking - I don't know why."

"I'm D--"

"SHH!" hissed another cowpoke.  "Your name you must not reveal, lest it be
discovered by the Enemy!"

"Oh.  Yeah."

"My name's Lem," said the cowpoke.  "Lem Stanislaw.  This here's Terry the
Mark of Normalcy, Dignan Graves, and Tommy Clarkson and Shark Holster from
the Apple Plumping Gang.  The Viking you've met.  Behind the bar is
'Topher Biggs, the barkeep."

"Please to meet you," the Stranger replied.  "I come from a distant land
on a vital quest.  In interstellar burst, I'm here to save the Universe.
I seek the Greatest of All Evils."

A wince shuddered through the gathered throng.  "Greatest - that'd be the
Shirriff, that would," offered Dignan.  "Crooked as a shadow on a broken
mirror, or my name's Eric Broome.  Rode up into town with the Posse many a
year ago, broke off from them and set to ruling this town with an iron
claw.  It's never been the same since!"

"The Posse?  Who is this Posse of which you speak?"

The throng creaked back in their chairs.  "Ah, the Posse," sighed
Clarkson, whose chair seemed to have wheels and an entirely anachronistic
jetpack on the back.  "There was a wonderful bunch.  The tales, the dirty
jokes, the all-night revels!  The Posse really knew how to party."

"Indeed," agreed Terry of Normacy.  "I've the marks to prove it."

"If only the Posse would return, and rout that foul Shirriff," lamented
Shark Holster, so named for his sharp teeth and glassy flesh.

"The Posse is headed up by one Eddie West, also called Wild Eddie,"
offered barkeep Topher Biggs.  "A true Re-Evolutionary, that one, though a
bit over-sell-us."

"Why don't you confront the Shiriff yourselves?" inquired the daring

The cowpoke looked shocked.  "Never!" he gasped.  "He has a terrible
bodyguard and thug in Ebony Bill, progessional gunslinger, mudslinger and
Insulter.  Not to mention certain, ah, photos..." The cowpoke reddened.

"The Striped One would make short work of us all," explained the one
called the Viking.  "There is none who can best him, save perhaps Wild
Eddie, who is long gone.  And, of course, the legendary Jay, who perhaps
was never here at all."

"The Jay could do it," agreed Dignan Graves.  "The Jay and none other.
Even Douglass the Cutlass, Thane of the Pirate nation of Pathetica, whose
blunderbuss fires bullets of pure pathos, met with disaster when he tried
to defeat Mr. Ebony.  Seems Ebony Bill's emotions were just too strong..."

"Pah," spat the overconfident Stranger.  "I will challenge this Ebony
gunfighter and defeat him handily."

The saloon doors creaked open behind him and a striped shadow filled the
dusty room.  The Traveller felt a chill from within.

"Will you now," came the gunslinger's mellow tones.  "Many have tried, but
none so far have done so -- not handily, nor leggily, nor with any other
part of the body."

The Stranger turned to face this nemesis.  Ebony bill wore a black hat,
and a black vest over a garish yellow shirt.  His boots were studded with
the bones of wild Newbies.  He was indeed a frightening sight!

"Now choose the manner of your demise," he offered kindly.  "Will it be a
contest of quick-draw, insults, or knowledge?  How about insults?  I'm
quite good at those..."

"Er... not really my thing, I'm afraid," the Stranger replied.  "And I am
unarmed... how about knowledge?"

"Fine," answered Ebony Bill.  "I'll be back at High Noon to defeat and
kill you."  He departed hastily, bones clinking on his fegskin boots.

"Well, at least I have until then," the Traveller sighed.

"It's 11:42," someone informed him.

"The Ebony One is undefeated in all areas of erudition," said the Viking
Runyin.  "He ate (for breakfast) even our buxom School Marm, Danny El, who
was a kind and most knowledgeable soul, despite bring cursed with a boy's

"And she quite enjoyed it," quipped Tom Clarkson.

Terror beginning to set in, the Traveller begged his newfound companions
for help.  "This world is completely new to me," he implored them.  "How
can I ever hope to answer Ebony Bill's challenge?"

"As the Visitor, you will ask first, so we need only think of a question
Ebony Bill cannot answer," answered Terry of the Mark.

"Still a daunting task," added Dignan.

"But we will help you," promised Shark Holster.

For the minutes that remain'd they conferred feverishly, frantically.
Finally Ebony Bill returned, wearing a smile and that accursed shirt.

"Well?  What feeble question have you for me?"  he smirked.

The Traveller stood and faced his adversary.  "Draw a link between Carl
Palmer and Robyn Hitchcock," he said,  --Ah! Easy, began Ebony Bill,
"...using only albums with three or less letters," finished the Stranger.

The gunfighter was confounded.  He wracked his mighty mind to find the
answer, to know avail.  He stared at his boots and muttered "I'll have to
consult the datab..."  He looked up, startled, as if he had not meant to
speak.  "You've won this round, Stranger.  But mark me well: we shall meet
in the next world.  The Next of all possible worlds!"  He turned on his
spurs and left the Hotel de Verre.

The Traveller was soundly congratulated all around and Mr. Biggs poured
free drinks all the rest of that day.  They made grand plans to storm the
Shiriff's hideout, now that his guardian was out of the way, but alas, the
strong drink made any more heroism, or even HeroSim, completely unlikely.

"Cheers to the gunslingerslayer!" they cried, and raised a glass of seven
grain ale.

"Cheers to the Goddess, who provides us Boose!" they shouted, and raised a
glass of Pumpernickel Porter.

"And Cheers to Boose!" they laughed, and drained another pint of Egyptian
Cream Stout.


I neglected to tell the hero that with each sleep would come a new world,
until finally he reached the Worst of All Possible Worlds.  Of course,
after this drunken revel, he soon was in a fine state of unconscience.
When he awoke, he was in the Next World, leaving the old one unsaved.
But fear not, the prodigal Jay returned and liberated the town from its
captors.  "El Jay," as she was known south of the Pecos, employed a number
of wiles and revealed to the world that Ebony Bill was Nice, and she also
used this power called "The Nice" on the Evil Shirrif, and I'm told she is
living with him in sin and great happiness to this very day....

NEXT WEEK: The Dark Enchantment of King Quail (and the answer to the
Stranger's challenge!)

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