Danger Close to Home

I was at my station, sitting between Rosen and Yamashita, when we got hit. There hadn't been any warning siren or inertial jerk to indicate a defensive maneuver. Hell, Kovacic had been pouring coffee and was halfway through a joke. Maybe if Rosen stopped taking half-hour showers we wouldn't have to— I remember the sound.… Continue reading Danger Close to Home

Weak Stomach

Before today, the only time Specialist Gordon saw live fire was on the range, and he'd anticipated it staying that way. The Tarnhelm was a patrol frigate that stuck to the mercantile routes, mostly performing random inspections and enforcing trade permits. He never imagined he'd get into a firefight on a pirate vessel, and now that… Continue reading Weak Stomach

Winners Take All

It seemed the sky itself was on fire. Ruby and sapphire beams crisscrossed in midair, arcing toward dozens of growing white points of light—cruisers from the Accord descending like falling stars on this most noncompliant of colony worlds. With all the firepower it was easy to forget it was nighttime. "Randolph, get your ass over… Continue reading Winners Take All

This Is Not a Drill

As soon as Airman Rhodes reported for duty at the rear of the wash house he let his feelings be known. "Aw, shit. Eight hours with you?" Airman Berd awkwardly flapped one hand in the air and forced a toothy smile. "Together again, huh Rhodes?" It was painful enough folding freshly steamed laundry all shift,… Continue reading This Is Not a Drill

52 Pickup

"What do you think, Spaulderski? Still feeling lucky?" "Oh yeah. There's money in the river. I can already feel those coins weighing down my pockets." "Nah, you're just feeling the double portion of dessert you had last night." Specialist Spaulderski rolled his eyes and smiled sheepishly. "That's right; I saw that shit." "Just deal it,… Continue reading 52 Pickup

The Day That Lasted Forever

You're tired. Sure, you haven't slept in 22 days, but that's not the source of your exhaustion—you might not ever sleep again and you wouldn't miss it a bit. No, the problem is the repetition. The unending déjà vu on top of déjà vu, like standing between two mirrors, surrounded by infinite reflections of yourself.… Continue reading The Day That Lasted Forever

Keeping Score

Once we cracked it we became unstoppable. Most people thought we were unstoppable before, but that's only because it had been so long since we'd been stopped. We were only overwhelming back then—still impressive, but not quite the same as unstoppable. Our chances of ever losing another battle went from non-zero to zero. It was a… Continue reading Keeping Score