Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Every morning there’s a scenic mist that rolls away as the sun rises. The bugs stop biting if you ask them to. The locals send fresh food every week.
I hate this place.
There’s nothing to do. All our digital devices are secured on the drop station that’s behind the moon. Apart from my assigned duties and training, I’m on my own. Sergeant Druthers goes out birdwatching, Corporal Ayres helps out at the store down the road, the rest of my team are off digging irrigation ditches for the duchy next door. I’m left sitting on my arse, quite literally watching paint dry, as I finish another chicken coop. Apparently the locals are really impressed with the idea of little houses for their poultry.
I don’t care.
There’s magic here! I signed on to get with the wizards and make my fortune from videos of bearded alien weirdos doing their impossible-to-science best for an appreciative offworld audience.
I got the idea after seeing the bootleg clips from Breskin. They locked that place down so fast, only one source got anything. But the clip of a lady making a rockslide pass her by, and the other one of a horned bloke growing a tree by stroking it have made millions for them.
I want my millions.
So I arrived here, and they first thing they did is knock us out and take our enhancements away! Then they confiscated our technology, stripped us naked, and sent us down here with primitive tools. No beam-cutters and everbonding. Saws and hammers, screws and screwdrivers.
We even have to do laundry! That’s when you wash clothes and hang them up on a line to dry in the wind. Who thought that was a good idea? When it rains we have to rush outside and bring it in, only to go out and put it back up after the rain passes.
I hate laundry.
“Hello, warrior. I’m come with your victuals.”
This is what I mean. I could be making a mint just from a clip showing the bearded wonder who brings our food. On his own. Enough for all of us for a week, and it’s all floating along in the air behind him!
“How do you do that?”
He looks back at the hovering supplies.
“It’s simple enough. As you packs them goods, you puts a lifting on each bundle. Not too high, mind. It’s no good if you can’t reach it to bring it down. Once you have it all done, you put a gather about the lot, top it off with a follow-me, and here I am.”
Cheerfully explaining the impossible like it’s real.
I hate him.
With a little nod, he carries on. I watch the boxes and bags go by.
Might as well make another coop. Got nothing else to do.
I’ve done two by evening. I’m thinking about cutting the wood for a third when a cheerful voice makes me wince.
“Hey, misery guts.”
Corporal Caroline Ayres: proper, polite, pretty, provincial. She’s so small town it’s pathetic. I turn slowly, giving myself time to think up something clever to reply with.
Our hardware supplies are floating behind her!
“Who did you do to get that?”
She frowns, then waves a hand. My feet leave the ground!
“I did that. Turns out not being a self-obsessed arsehole lets this place get to you. When that happens, your magic arrives.”
It what?
She drops me.
“Command tells me I can’t leave, but that’s no problem. Especially as you are. Being somewhere you’re not will be good.”
I hate her.