A Tale to Tell

The gnarled tangles of swamp brush refused to bend or break, forcing Cliff Asna to make his way forward in a zigzagging fashion like an old drunkard. It was cold and it was dark, but it was no use at all being caught in the open during daylight hours—Betelgeuse would fry your suit and broil… Continue reading A Tale to Tell

When It Rains

The facility was enormous—fifteen miles to a side according to the odometer—and, after circling the entire complex in an old battery-converted Jeep, Dustin resigned to the fact that there'd be no easy way in. High steel-and-concrete walls left no gaps in the perimeter. The various and spread out gates all looked the same: impregnable. He… Continue reading When It Rains

Coronation

The crowd was in a frenzy. The colosseum's towering reaches held a quarter of a million people, and it was over capacity with thousands more pressing in to witness this historic upheaval. They were here beneath the sweltering summer sun to see her: Supreme Commander Scandere. Barely beyond her third decade, she'd had enough blood on… Continue reading Coronation

A Scar Upon Our Souls

Shune and Dobar watched from a ledge under the chilly shade of one of the valley's iconic monadnocks, the Five Sisters. Standing motionless in the coppery hues of early morning was an Interfederal Argema-373 passenger ship, its body retracted over its folded legs. It looked like a 3,000-ton chrome mosquito. Shune shivered with disgust and… Continue reading A Scar Upon Our Souls

Agent Ouroboros

"You've done well, Captain, and you can expect your effort to be rewarded," said Ouroboros. She'd been born Olivia Shen, but she'd given up that identity along with everything else to become an Agent, one of the shadowy operatives who lived between the stars. They were the movers and shakers around whom this galaxy spun.… Continue reading Agent Ouroboros

The Rift

Zane began to sweat as his suit's cooling system ran low on power. He should have been there by now. He trudged along through ankle-deep mist and against a wind that seemed to blow counter to whatever direction he tried to move. The harsh divide of the horizon sliced through the haze of brightly colored… Continue reading The Rift

Make Yourself Useful

Make yourself useful, he said. Some goddamn nerve. Two years, Lin had served on the Dauntless. Two long years, without so much as a weekend's leave, making four jumps a week while under-crewed and poorly maintained. And not once had she ever missed her mark. Never. She'd been telling Captain Sayre from day one that a… Continue reading Make Yourself Useful

Hopes and Dreams

When the sound of her flatcamel's hooves changed from a shifting of sand to a clopping of stone, Perla allowed herself to grow hopeful. She'd heard many stories about the rocket lands, but this was the first evidence that they'd borne any truth. The fiery breaths of a thousand human-made engines upon the sand had… Continue reading Hopes and Dreams

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

Contact

Ryden sloshed through the toxic muck that sucked at his boots beneath the tangled thorn grass. It wasn't grass, of course—that was terracentric thinking—but on strange planets the mind tries to force things into familiar shapes. His unit was twelve days into its march with no obvious end. Twelve days of orange fog and swatting… Continue reading Contact