Mantis

The Kalypso III sailed onward toward the bright center of the muddy red nebula they'd taken to calling the mantis. The visual required a touch of imagination and some squinting, but the name had stuck. The brain is funny in that way; latching onto any idea, no matter how implausible, is better than the shapeless chaos of… Continue reading Mantis

Ghosts of the First Era

A fog rolled in between the sheer face of the cliff and the jagged limestone columns that towered over the valley, riding a sulfur breeze that tickled the nose. She hadn't understood what all the fuss was about, but now that she was here, Elise was spooked. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants,… Continue reading Ghosts of the First Era

Not Alone in the Dead City

Martina crouched low as she picked her way through the dead city, sprinting between scattered debris. It was hard to tell what used to be a street and what used to be a building and what used to be a body. She popped out from behind a twisted rail switch, wrenched up from the ground… Continue reading Not Alone in the Dead City

No Philosophers Aboard the Prism

"What do you know, Doc?" The small contingent of science-minded survivors loitered around the lower level of the observatory like dead leaves without a breeze to carry them. The other--the religious, and the despondent, and the most insufferable of them all, the indifferent--migrated around the gargantuan alien spaceship in endless, meaningless loops, passing the time… Continue reading No Philosophers Aboard the Prism

Scavengers

Deadeye saw it first, no surprise. We rode toward the smoke. Loud Mouth couldn't stop giggling, interrupted every so often by that disgusting clicking noise the stump of his tongue made against his uvula. I ran my palm over the smooth end of my left arm, which terminated at the mid-forearm. It was an interstellar… Continue reading Scavengers

Blessings of the Arc

Zin Zidel awoke hot and sweaty, tangled in her swaddling robes. She pinned her feathery black hair atop her head and went digging through the cart's many trunks and baskets for something to busy her moaning stomach. She settled for tough jerky, though there weren't many choices left. "Smithlin Caust, do you never sleep?" she… Continue reading Blessings of the Arc

Deathmind

"You are the Deathmind." Tul shivers, though the humid blackness that envelopes him is warm. A salivating steel maw. The solitary red point of light shifts in an implacable way. "A weak statement, more so for its implications than its approximations." It hurt just to hear the Deathmind speak, like its voice turned Tul's bones… Continue reading Deathmind

Zyz’s Syzygy

Zyz awoke staring straight into the sun through a shattered skylight. Full charge. Elapsed down-cycle: 14:11:55.25. She remembered now wandering the tunnels for days in the dark and then scrambling to find a place to recharge before a forced shut down. In the end she'd had to tap into the aux capacitors to stay conscious;… Continue reading Zyz’s Syzygy

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Seek Vengeance

General Welkar took the podium. "Congratulations, cadets. You are still here. When I addressed this group a year ago, you numbered more than a thousand. And now? Thirty. Those others did not share your grit, your intellect, your skill, or your boldness. They quit. They were cut. Some believed they had no limits, and they… Continue reading If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Seek Vengeance