Subject 17

"Okay, Ella, you just stay right here. You wait for me right here." Kaylie could hear the frantic desperation in her own voice. She hoped the rubbery muffle of her gas mask hid her fear from the child. Fear was contagious. The last thing Kaylie wanted was for Ella to be afraid. Not just because… Continue reading Subject 17

Special Cargo

The pilot made Lula feel extremely uncomfortable. The pilot likely felt nothing at all for his part. Him? Was the pilot a man? Not in the philosophical man-or-machine sense, but biologically. She'd assumed he was a man based on his bulk and the breadth of his shoulders, but she supposed those were not meaningful indicators.… Continue reading Special Cargo

Knowing the Enemy

The ice giant Rosen is only a pale crescent in the violet sky of its largest moon. Ivodus looks up and thinks it looks like the closed eye of a sleeping god. Or a dead one. This place sets off strange and indistinct memories, more feelings than specific recollections, and he doesn't like it. It… Continue reading Knowing the Enemy

Lost Places in Want of Finding

Trillium stood naked in the night fog, their amber body glowing softly through the obsidian black plates of their carapace. Before them was the temple of Manan Urrev on the world of the First Exilists, Mapmara. They'd been looking for it so long that they couldn't remember ever doing anything else, even with their enhanced… Continue reading Lost Places in Want of Finding

An Audience With the Presider

There was a peculiar scent in the air, a mix of spilled petrol and roasted pork with sweetsop. Bata had visited many of these metrolettes, and they all had their own smell. He removed the clear regulator mask from beneath his robes, the rubber hose snaking back beneath the folds, situated the mask over his… Continue reading An Audience With the Presider

Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

A couple of years ago Maggie would have thought it wasn't fair and become despondent that the chaos of the universe had a preference for her misery. But that was the fatalistic response of a child. She was 18 now—an adult; a woman of action—and the only words that fit were this is bullshit! It was… Continue reading Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

Loose Ends

Abe stood on the highest ledge atop the butte and regarded the exposed rock layers across the canyon. It had been a long time since he'd really stopped to look at them. A long time. A lot had happened. If you'd never been to 42 Orions B—no one could agree on a suitable permanent name,… Continue reading Loose Ends

21st Century Sirens

Jericho felt like dogshit. His spring allergies had been especially rough, and that was before he got the call from the top. Before he'd biked home, his mind racing faster than his legs could pedal. Before he packed his shit, kissed his partner, and said, "I'll call you when I can. Hopefully soon." That was… Continue reading 21st Century Sirens

Church of the Falling Sky

The shuttle had no windows, but the sudden lurch told Lady Verity they'd uncoupled from Saint Donovan's Interment. The temperature in the shuttle quickly rose like it was a tin can in the summer sun, heated by the tremendous friction of the descent through Lachesis' thick sulfurous atmosphere. Four centuries of landings like this had pulverized… Continue reading Church of the Falling Sky

The Last Wonder

Above, thick bundles of diamond nanotubes cut thousands of parallel vertical lines in the air, disappearing in low cloud cover. Below, the ruins. The buildings that were still standing were either skeletons or bloating, sagging corpses. Shipping containers were strewn about among the hulls of gondolas like a knocked-over bucket of Legos. Capsized ships and… Continue reading The Last Wonder