Making Do

At long last they took their seats for dinner. The four servantoids served the salads promptly. Gene and Judy had splurged on new servantoids—this year's model—but they were only allowed two due to the strict rationing. Their guests, Jude and Ginny, had to bring their own. Gene fumed to himself in his quiet way, and… Continue reading Making Do

Appraisal

The waiting room must have been 100°, and it was only the middle of springtime. It didn't bode well for the summer fires. There was a clean little stand with hot coffee, and hot tea. Inconvenient, but fiscally responsible, he thought. Who could afford to give away water these days? So showy. He dabbed his… Continue reading Appraisal

Hailing the Skybenders

Singulon wandered through the rooftop jungles in quiet contemplation with its metallic hands clasped behind its back. It rarely went below—indoors—to the precision of the glass labyrinth stacked a kilometer high and stretching like a mold bloom a hundred kilometers in every direction. That underworld belonged to the humans. Singulon found no comfort there, nor… Continue reading Hailing the Skybenders

Gravedigger

"Start digging graves," Dalton told the Lacuna Populous' android attendant. "Graves?" Dalton dropped the legs of the body he was dragging onto the deck and they thudded dully one after the other. He turned his irritated gaze to the android and rubbed his dark, thick beard. "Holes. Outside. To put the bodies in. Find something to… Continue reading Gravedigger

Hell to Pay

Riazi sat on the rustic hardwood floor with her back against the foot of the couch and her knees drawn up to her chest. The ashtray on the floor beside her was overflowing with butts and ash. She lit up another cigarette anyway. It was frivolous, but it helped her feel human. Which, of course,… Continue reading Hell to Pay

Life Ensurance

Janice tried to set down her wine glass and steady herself against the countertop at the same time. The result was a glittering galaxy of imported handblown glass shards across the pristine granite floor and an expanding pool of aged cabernet. But at least she hadn't fallen and injured herself. That was suddenly of paramount… Continue reading Life Ensurance

A Powerful Motivator

0micron rebooted in the dark. When it activated its optics it was unsure if they were still functional. It tilted its face upward—assuming the gyros were still calibrated—and found a distant point of dim light. It opened its apertures and shifted down the spectrum into the infrared. It was in a deep pit after an… Continue reading A Powerful Motivator

Summa

XIA-97 was broken. She was the only android aboard the Borealis Rouge, all its other passengers being FABs—Flesh And Blood—and therefore locked in their hibernation routines for another several kiloyears. FABs, useless as ever. And with the nature of her damage being neural—software, as they used to say—she could not diagnose herself; it was a fundamental… Continue reading Summa

The Hedron

When the door blew off its hinges it glanced off of Gartner's shoulder and sent him twisting through the air. The Shadows were inside the Temple. They crossed the chasm and shredded Gartner into wet leathery ribbons the color of plum wine before he hit the floor. Captain Erra didn't need the quantum mind of… Continue reading The Hedron

The Reckoning

She had a black hole for a heart, or at least that was the rumor. When you go around calling yourself The Reckoning, rumors like that are bound to follow like famine follows a locus swarm. In truth, she had no heart at all, just a pump. And a backup. There was no black hole,… Continue reading The Reckoning