Guest Room

Kara sat up in bed and clutched her chest. There was a familiar pounding at her front door. She threw a robe around her toned frame and went to answer it without bothering to check the time—at some point the hour no longer mattered and it was just late. Without flipping on the porch light… Continue reading Guest Room

Return of the Maleficarum

As a young man, Rich Speyer thought he'd seen the last of the Maleficarum. At the time, he commanded the special joint task force responsible for the Sweep—the rounding up of the dissenters, the objectionists, the pacifists, the skulking members of the anti-party-party, and shuttling them off world to take their deviant ideas to the stars.… Continue reading Return of the Maleficarum

Projecting

Ava Graves stepped cautiously out of the escape pod and onto the alien ship. There was no one to greet her. No one to lovingly vivisect her for scientific pursuits, either, but still, the solitude after such a long and lonely stretch was maddening. A long corridor stretched before her, its every angled surface reflective… Continue reading Projecting

Ineffectual

Captain Forsch was bathed in the mint green glow of the Kelp Nebula as he sailed by the scattered formation of the protesters. The small escort fleet from Freespace Private Security kept the protesters' ships outside the work zone, but nothing could be done about their relentless transmissions. The Kelp Nebula is a limited public… Continue reading Ineffectual

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

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

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

Third Time’s a Charm

Terrance waited at the communication console at Central Command in lunar orbit. The survey teams were operating just within the orbit of Uranus and the signal delay was over two and a half hours. Whatever was going to happen had happened already. The first ship had been closer, nearly within Jupiter's sweep, albeit on the… Continue reading Third Time’s a Charm

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

Escaping the Nonpareil

Sparks came down like molten rain. Drea ran through the neon smoke and darkness, clawing at the air in front of her. Sometimes she caught stray cables hanging like cobwebs, or severed ducts that breathed hot steam onto her face, but mostly she only swatted uselessly at the emptiness. The Nonpareil was bleeding to death, but… Continue reading Escaping the Nonpareil