June 2013

Are you suffering from cellulite, crow’s feet, sun damage, or general aging? Have conventional beauty products completely and utterly failed to stem the relentless march of time? There’s no getting off this train we’re on.

But there is a product that can help!

Shinra Electric Power Company, sole supplier of electricity, arms, and consumer goods worldwide is pleased to announce the MAKOPLASTY™ beauty procedure! Your friendly one-world megacorporate government has your best interests in mind, and those include the ability to defy the natural aging process while maximizing shareholder value.

The MAKOPLASTY™ infuses your skin with raw Mako energy, the life force of the Planet ripped directly from the Lifestream and refined into clean energy by Shinra’s network of Mako reactors. Yes, the same miracle energy source that eliminated the need for polluting coal power can now be put to work for you.

After the safe and clean MAKOPLASTY™ infusion process, you will find that your skin suddenly had both dramatically improved tone and a healthy glow. You’ll also get the striking “Mako eyes,” famous for their appearance among The Shinra Electric Power Company’s elite SOLDIER security forces. There are absolutely no side effects!*

With prices starting at 50,000 gil, you can’t afford not to consider MAKOPLASTY™. MAKOPLASTY™: The Lifeblood of the Planet, In Your Face!

Shinra Mako Clinic
997 Sector 1, Upper Plate, Midgar
Ask for Dr. Hojo

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Shinra Electric Power Company Food and Drug Administration, nor should it be, as all Shinra products are inherently safe and effective. Rumors of side effects including but not limited to mutation, decreased HP count, MP deficiency, AP drain, the Jenova Reunion, and subjugation to the will of Sephiroth are completely false. Report any rumormongering to your local branch of the Investigation Sector of the General Affairs Department, or the Department of Administrative Research.

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In 1965, one of Detroit’s most striking modernist, brutalist skyscrapers, the Lenore, was in deep financial trouble. Market troubles had meant that Lenore Automotive Glass Company, the building’s namesake and primary tenant, was unable to pay for the remaining construction. For a time it looked like the half-finished building would blight Detroit’s skyline for years before being unceremoniously hauled down.

However, the United States government stepped in and leased the remaining office space, providing the money needed to top out the building. It took over the topmost 10 floors, while Lenore and a variety of smaller tenants took the space below.

In most respects, the Lenore was the standard, boxy, functional skyscraper that was in vogue at the time. However, each of its topmost three floors had what looked like a frosted, latticed window set into it, three stories high and angled slightly. One window faced in each cardinal direction, and the area behind them was always lit. There was speculation that Lenore was running a testing facility or perhaps a basketball court there. The architectural drawings simply labeled the area “mechanical space.”

Less than a month after the building was open, amateur radio enthusiasts throughout the Midwest began noticing a strange and powerful signal interfering with their transmissions and receivers. A series of stuttered electronic clicks, the signal was quickly nicknamed “Woody Woodpecker” and was the cause of considerable frustration, as it was most active at night, when most amateurs were on the air.

Eventually, the signals ceased, and by 1985 the Lenore was all but abandoned, with only a handful of tenants and a mountain of debt. Finding a security door rusted out and unlocked, a group of Wayne State students made their way up to the top. The area, apparently abandoned in haste, confirmed that “Woody Woodpecker” was a powerful prototype over-the-horizon (OTH) radar array built into the building. The government’s lease had been a mere cover story.

Unfortunately, the explorers soon found out why the project, and the building, had been so abruptly abandoned.

Only one of them lived to tell the tale.

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“Hold on, let me recycle this.” Jenna, being a considerate earth-first type, moved to put her empty water bottle in the nearby recycling bin:


“Hey!” A nearby airport security guard cried. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m…recycling a plastic water bottle?” Jenna said.

“Can’t you read? That bin is for plastic aluminum only!”

“Um…isn’t this plastic water bottle plastic enough?”

The guard narrowed his eyes. “Plastic. Aluminum. Not plastic, not aluminum. Plastic aluminum. Read the sign. Because you know who has to pick out the stuff that isn’t right from that bin? Me. That’s who.”

“Okay! Geez.” Jenna pulled back her bottle and walked off. “What does that even mean, plastic aluminum? Weirdo.”

Another woman approached and deposited a pop can that was somehow both brightly injection molded and metallic into the bin.

“Thank you!” the guard exclaimed. “Finally, someone who can read!

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Fawn Delacroix Pivec owned a small library of books about the little chinks through which magic might seep into our otherwise mundane world. Lewis and Lewis, C. S. and Carroll respectively, were first and foremost in the collection, and her peers in school had long grown tired of endless book reports and dioramas on they and their literary successors.

So, when standing longingly in a fairy ring at the very edge of the Pivecs’ five acres, Fawn was delighted but unsurprised to spy a fairy flitting back and forth among the stinging nettles and wild raspberries tumbling over the old fence.

“Take me with you,” she whispered breathlessly, at once afraid to cry out and scare the delicate being away and unable to contain her joy upon seeing it.

The tiny fairy cocked its head and regarded her.

“Take me with you,” Fawn said again. “Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you. I’m ready to see your world. I always have been.”

“Oh, child,” said the fairy, in a voice that was birdsong and cicadas, summer rain and running water. “My poor precious child. You dwelt in our world for an aeon and verily became our most beloved friend and queen, ere you returned. But mortal memories cannot hold that where we dwell and dance, so it has already slipped away from you like sand in a spring tempest.”

From an idea by breylee.

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At first, the Brixx™ brand building toys were a laughingstock, poor injection molding compounded by what were roundly described as “the worst boxes on the face of the planet.” The Norwegian firm of Aeki GmbH, makers of the much more popular Logg-O™, sued OCYT Inc., the conglomerate behind Brixx™, alleging that making their building bricks compatible with the older, classic sets was copyright infringement.

But, unexpectedly, things took a turn for the better. Aeki GmbH lost the suit, as the relevant patents had expired and the “geometric dimenstions” of Logg-O blocks were held to be un-trademarkable (as OCYT’s lawyers had cannily advised them). A change in Chinese manufacturers and a general retooling brought the Brixx™ blocks up to a level of quality that met (and sometimes even exceeded) that of Logg-O. The Norwegians, manufacturing in Japan, weren’t able to meet the lower price point of their competitors.

In addition, an innovative licensing program found popular cartoons and other more esoteric franchises on Brixx™ boxes. By 1987, popular Saturday morning cartoons like Darcy the Cat were on OCYT’s (much-improved) boxes, and a line of military bricks won US Army endorsement (on the condition that the kits ship with recruitment brochures and OCYT provide industrial grade bricks to replace the Logg-O pieces Army robotics engineers used for prototyping).

One would have thought that Brixx™ were destined for a strong market niche, the Pepsi to the Coke of Logg-O™. But by Christmas 1989, OCYT had declared bankruptcy and Brixx™ sets were available for discounts as high as 90%–destined to become highly sought-after collectibles.

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It was the Ur-Vase, the very model of both the structure of he universe and its tiniest building blocks. Nestled between a 17th-century Ming and a 19th century French porcelain, the Ur-Vase kept the cosmos ordered and intact.

It’s too bad the movers didn’t know that.

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“We specialize in buying notable but troubled brands,” said Gemini Marketing Consultants LLC CEO Apollo Abrams. “Pixee snack cakes have been renowned in popular culture as the food most likely to survive the apocalypse. And while it’s true that Pixees have an expiration date on the wrapper, that’s a matter of statute rather than necessity.”

Since the removal of milk from the recipe in 1977, Abrams adds, Pixees have been shelf-stable for as long as the old Purser Bakeries was able to run tests. And with the move of the restructured company to Arizona, which has a much looser snack cake regulatory tradition than Purser’s 110-year home of Pennsylvania, that “matter of statute” has been eliminated. “No expiration date on the new Pixee wrappers anymore,” Abrams laughs.

Abrams and his Gemini Marketing Consultants LLC staff are speaking to us in the former Strategic Helium Reserve complex in Toadwater, AZ. Formerly a US Army depot for stockpiling helium to keep American zeppelins in the air in case of a supply interruption, the SHR is now the new home of Purser Bakeries and Pixee snack cake production. It is a massive underground complex hollowed out of the living rock of the Montañas del Muerte hills.

“The government sold this place to us for $1 thanks to the sequester,” says Abrams. “They just didn’t have the cash to follow through on their plans to turn it into an underground fallout shelter for Congress. Natrually, that suits us just fine!”

All Pixee cake production will be conducted underground, in caves rated to withstand a 100 megaton blast. Abrams is developing the long-lasting and blast-resistant snacks as the centerpiece of a combined recreational area and paid disaster shelter. “For only $3000 per square yard of space, people can reserve shelter space alongside the only food item certified to survive it: Pixees! When the Big One drops, the production line and the raw materials to sustain it will be able to support up to 100,000 people for five years. And, as part of their plea deal for getting their jobs back after union action killed the old Purser Bakeries, employees get a 25% discount!” And, in the meantime, factory tours and disaster preparedness courses will keep the curious coming in the door.

Abrams’ company plans to open “The Pixee Survival Shelter and Resort” as soon as they can find a set of 100-megaton-rated blast doors. Gemini Marketing Consultants LLC, a subsidiary of major local employer GesteCo, has announced that the production line should be operational–and Pixee cakes back on store shelves nationwide–by the end of summer.

Inspired by this and this.

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“So you have come to see Acapla, the Lama of Amall Monestary,” said Dilemac the Tibetan monk. “He has spent the last 50 years of his life in intense contemplation and concentration. His meditations are so intense that he can heat or cool parts of his body at will.”

“Yes, we know,” said Sandy, holding Chris’s hand tightly. “That’s why we’ve come to commune with him.”

“Ascend with me to his mountaintop, pilgrims, and speak,” said Dilemac, leading the Canadian tourists up to the summit where Lama Acapla sat cross-legged.

“O great lama, we beseech thee to share thy wisdom with us,” Sandy said, bowing elaborately while babbling excitedly.

The lama regarded the pilgrims with deeply-creased features and eyes both rheumy and clear. “Say it, do not spray it.”

Shocked, the Canadians looked to Dilemac.

“Alas, that is the way of things,” he said. “50 years of meditation means that the lama is great for parlor tricks but not much for conversation.”

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It is a question oft-asked: why, with magic fading from the world, do the fae seem to be increasing in numbers? Every other creature of magic and spirit is becoming increasingly rare as reason assaults belief, which is the basic necessity for the existence of the transmundane. And why is it that no one has ever seen a young fae, despite intense interest in their habits on the part of innumerable scholars?

In truth, the solution to that riddle has long been known by the learned of the nations, just as it has been vehemently rejected by their peers.

Man has long been known to be unique among the creatures of his world because he is equal parts spiritual magic and mundane clay. The mundane animals hunted for food or kept as companions are all mundane clay, while the dragons and will-o’-the-wisps and such are pure spirit and magic. In man alone are they present in nearly equal measure.

In the waning days of bronze, when man first began to master the forces mundane and magical of his world, the fae were exceedingly rare and regarded as symbols and portents, their tiny flitting forms omens of great good or calamitous evil. In the present age of iron and reason, they are common enough that whole areas are infested with them, so much that one of the few callings remaining to those skilled in the ark and knack of magic is shooing them away.

The bitter truth is that the delicate and ephemeral fae are, in fact, the sloughed-off spirits of men.

When mankind gives itself wholly over to reason and cruel calculation, tearing out the part of itself that deals in wonder and magic, that ripped-out soul takes the form of a flitting fae, all the spirit and magic of humanity in miniature. That is why they bear no young, and that is why they only seem to fade and die when nobles, mercenaries, or men of means themselves sicken.

For, although separated, they are still bound by a silver thread of common destiny. Sorrowful predictions, unheeded by those who have cast out the spiritual from their souls, see mankind as a race wholly divested of its fae shards within the next hundred years at the current rate.

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Some people are Takers, siphoning inspiration and creativity from others, willingly or unwillingly, able to turn even the most brightly-colored room into grey misery without batting an eye.

Not so Dot. Dot was a Giver.

Inspiration and creative energy followed in her wake, and she seemed to fill even the dullest rooms with color and light. People who had never had an imaginative idea in their life would suddenly behold a vibrant, verdant world of centaurs and satyrs in her wake. The effect could last for days, even weeks.

Fate would seem to dictate that she be an artist, a designer, a high-paid and well-kept muse.

But Dot preferred to simply be a dreamer, a wanderer, a watercolor artist painting real life with broad brushstrokes.

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