Author : Rocky Hutson

Opius peeked out from behind a small birch tree. Seeing no sign of his adversary, Burhan, he stepped into the open. He’d only gone a few yards toward the portal when Burhan stepped into the open and pointed at him. Opius knew he had to act fast to avoid Burhan’s imminent attack.

“Stone,” he said, waving his arm to indicate the size and shape. A gray boulder appeared in front of Opius just in time to block the cloud of shrapnel Burhan flung at him.

“A thousand arrows from the sky,” Opius ordered.

Burhan looked up to see a blurred sheet of arrows descending on him. “Armored dome,” he yelled, as a thick silver shell formed over his head, deflecting the arrows.

“I am more clever than you Opius, and I will reach that portal first.” Burhan scanned an oak tree behind his opponent and made a sideways chopping motion with his hand. The trunk of the tree severed as if cut by an invisible saw and the tree began toppling onto Opius.

“Toothpicks,” Opius spoke as he looked up at the falling tree. The oak shuddered and fell to the ground in tiny pieces.

Opius checked the distance to the portal. Roughly thirty yards and he’d be there.

He had only managed to travel a mere ten yards when he heard Burhan bellow.


Opius fell to the ground. He struggled as a thick rope materialized around his ankles. He heard the sound of running and looked up to see his adversary descending on him. Opius grimaced as Burhan lifted his right arm and a gleaming sword appeared in his hand.

His Mind spinning, Opius wielded an invisible knife and slashed at the rope. His legs were now free but Burhan was upon him, chopping down with the sword. Opius rolled but the sword cut a deep gash in his right bicep.

“Shield,” Opius screamed. Relief flooded over him as a newly formed targe blocked Burhan’s second sword strike.

“Crystal case.” A clear crystalline structure rapidly encased Burhan. Opius knew he didn’t have long before Burhan devised an escape, but he might have just enough time to get to the portal. He looked down at his arm and saw blood running from the gash down his forearm and dripping off his fingers.

“Heal,” he said softly. He felt a tingle as the gash closed and sealed and the blood flow stopped. Reaching the door, he pressed the red button. Burhan had gotten out of the case and approached him but there would be no more attacks.

A voice boomed from a box above the door, “Thank you gentlemen, I’d say Molecular Nanite Test Number Three was an unqualified success.

“Sorry about that arm, Tom,” Nathan Burhan said.

The door of the enormous testing room opened and the two men exited together. “It’s all right Nate, just another day’s work at Landry MicroTech.”

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Cold Night

Author : Sarah Mendonca


Slumped in the alley, the woman repeated the name like a prayer, mostly forgotten long ago. No, that wasn’t it.


Passersby ignored her: just another failed rebel unable to move on.

She looked at them all, so young and old, so clean and untainted. Her battered and swollen nose saved her from smelling how low she’d sunk, at least.


Years earlier the revolution had swept through the system faster than a plague. Their charismatic leader had been a breath of unpolluted air. She smiled, the corner of her mouth cracked and bled.


And then the Union crashed on them faster than a solar flare. Even today the heat of their weapons scorched her dreams.


Her leather jacket was the only thing of value she had left. They hadn’t taken the abhorrent thing, and she was too cold to throw it away.

“No, it started with a K.”

Her anger kept her warm for a long time. Slowly, she lost it, as her friends fell in ones and twos and whole ships disintegrated into sparks that faded in the void. Not even losing her sister during their most recent hyper jump could bring it back.


A pair of men stopped in the market place, leaning against a wall, and talking in low tones. They looked at her.


The suns began to set, the sky burning red once more. Curfew began in less than an hour, and vendors were starting to pack up their wares. Would the shelter already be full? The woman tried to get up, and fell back to the ground. Her stump aching from the cold.

“Kris… that’s it.”

She’d finally met their leader while huddled around a solar heater at the main camp, too tired to even make small talk. Sometimes, the revolutionaries envied the townies or people in the orbiting habitats; at least they had a warm place to sleep at night. The woods were cold, and dark, and wet.

One by one everyone went off to bed until they were the only ones left. She’d lost her warm coat the night before; it had protected her from the worst of the white phosphorous, but been burned to shreds in the process. He put his arm around her to keep her warm, but his kindness was lost on her. The cold ate at her worse than any wound. As she shivered in his arms her mind became paralyzed with despair like frost. After all the guns and ships, sub-primal blasters and ectoplasmic grenades, all it took was a blunt knife to kill the rebellion.


Her bleary eyes looked at the end of the alley. There she saw the man that could have saved them all. His icy blue eyes stared down at her.

“Kris. I’m sorry.”

The man frowned, cracked her head against the wall, and wrestled Kris’ jacket off her shoulders. The suns were setting. Winter was on its way, and the nights grew colder with each passing day.

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Author : Morrow Brady

I sensed the click of my empty handgun moments before I heard it, while impact shrapnel, ricocheting across the upturned chassis of my downed cruiser sang out cries of retreat.

With the soft belly of vulnerability in the air, I made my exit from the street-side exchange and vaulted over some hoarding into the nanite building site.

Site security lit up the forecourt as the smell of complex bonding chemicals grew. The incomplete amorphous apartment tower floated before me. It would be finished in a week. Nanobots never took holidays.

As I passed a stack of white pilotless fly & supply cubes, I was momentarily entranced by the pink hues of sunshine scattered through the vacuous cotton candy façade. Behind me, my pursuers rammed my cruiser through the hoarding and caught sight of me as I ran inside.

As my security clearance commenced handshakes with the Site OS, I surged deeper into the translucent building, noting the salty metallic taste of FlyNites as they merrily lazed their way through the humid air.

I ascended a stairwell lit by the fiery veins of SupplyNites discharging static. On level three, the floor was sticky with elemental adhesives and the air stuttered with the silent roar of ImpactNites. A green peripheral glow told me that Site OS was now under my control along with it two hundred million strong nanite army. I allowed a brief smile to escape.

The first pursuer, mindlessly tracking my thermals, took ten paces into the level three lobby and sank into a quicksand floor. My NanGineers had severed a single joint of each of the floor’s triangulated micro-frames. He quietened as soon as his brain mass merged with the level two ceiling ducts.

The second criminal walked through a nanite filament splayed across an open doorway. It adorned his torso like a ceremonial sash. The nanites had a simple instruction. In pairs, one either side of his chest, they would travel directly toward their partner. The victim literally fell to pieces.

My next assault was airborne, as two more pursuers inhaled a swarm of FlyNites delivering cleaning acid and floor epoxy. They fell in five breaths.

When a tall Amazonian, lured by the sound of impact bots, opened a double doorset, the handles disintegrated into a frenetic mass of DemoNites. By the time pain registered, she was incapable of wiping free the chaos. Her two shrouded sidekicks swiftly back pedalled but not before putting three in her back.

The shrouded pair closed fast. Their bulks, layered with defensive fields, repelled the airborne attacks and they kept clear of the architecture. As they crept down the corridor, the floor slab above them was severed with a deep earth crack. The tonnage, hinged on steel reinforcement, swung down to impacted their flank, sending them flying through the external HexMesh wall. My thermals tracked their limp forms as they plummeted three floors.

The final pursuer, biding his time within a darkened niche, caught sight of me as I returned to the stair. I never felt the first blade as it entered my chest nor the second that plunged deep into my side. He however felt the AbrasioNites as they transformed from my doppelgänger into an all enveloping tornado.

I returned to the street, setting my micro-army to clean up mode.

“Evening Detective” said a Constable emerging from a wall of flashing lights.

“Constable” I replied.

“Everything ok?”

“All good. Nothing to see here.”

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Author : José A Harkhan

He flew that night. His dreams flooded with visions of ecstasy. The blue of that river. The black of those eyes.

They hove into the light of day that shone through the Pleasure-Dome’s glass shell. Like white-cloaked wraiths. Fixated. Forgotten legions in a perpetual ritual. Cords drooped from medication towers like bleach-white veins. He secured a cord to his abdominal catheter. Milk of paradise flowed into his stomach. He sat still, awaiting relief. Others sat around him. Hummingbirds. Born-addicted. Some lay sedated. Others giggled luridly. Some broke into un-tempered screaming. Once they became tolerant of the drugs in the milk, many killed themselves by flying into the glass shell of the dome. Their bodies lay perfectly preserved.

Sedation eluded him. As he waited, he strained to focus on the world outside the dome. He saw it now as he had never done before. A deep chasm ran past, carving the vivid, green, velvet, tundra in two. The river, at its base, ran far into the umbra of the land whereupon it poured into a looming and distant darkness. Overwhelmed with such chaotic beauty, he wept.

Something moved.

The next day he didn’t bother to medicate. He sat close to the glass with the hysteria behind him. He scanned. Searching. He had been watching all day before he saw her.

Just as the sun set sinking into the chasm, he noticed a female figure perched naked at the edge. He stared. Transfixed. She was looking down into the violet aurora of the setting sun, scintillating as it refracted through the surging water. She tilted her head with a graceful motion as if in song. Calling. She turned to catch his eye. Darkness fell and she was gone.

She reappeared the following day. Closer this time. Facing straight at him. Her existence went against everything he knew about the outside world. Full of superbugs that kill and inflict suffering. The only beings that had survived the four pandemics were freaks of nature. Mysterious, grotesque creatures to be feared as much as the pathogens. Yet she looked so healthy and strong compared with him. Her mere appearance erased a hundred years of lies. Her long black hair played over her figure as if moved by an invisible force. He could see her eyes now. Cassiterite. As black as night.

It was then that he knew he must leave.

He stepped into the airlock and the door slid shut behind him. He knew he couldn’t go far before the pathogens would take him. So long as he could reach her, then it would be rich to die.

He clamped his eyes shut but the light burned through the lids. His pupils boiled in their intraocular fluid. He staggered through the flashing tundra until he reached the chasm’s edge. The air was alive, humid and thick with the scent of the grasses. It rippled over his body in all directions. It whispered in his ears, enticing him down.

He had fallen to the river’s edge at the foot of the great chasm and was bleeding. The thick pale blood diffused through his white robes and mixed with the fertile earth beneath him. She surfaced. Effortlessly swimming against the current, maintaining a steady gaze upon her subject. His heart soared. Propping himself up with one arm, holding the other out towards her. She drew closer and took his hand. She saw that he was bleeding and she kissed the cuts. The icy water clung to her lips and his lungs contracted when he felt her touch. She sang to him of fools and kings and of the end of days. With melodic melancholy of purest serenity, the liquid notes pierced the turbid ether. And the river, seething with ceaseless turmoil, carved its chaotic course.

Then she dived.

Dragging him under the stygian water. Her body coiled tight around him, breathing life-giving air into his mouth. The torrent dragged them lethe-wards into the ultraviolet abyss. Fathoms of water forced down upon him. He could feel his body breaking but she made him strong.

He realised that until now, as he lay in the shadow of death, he had never truly lived.

He awoke on the shore of a sunless sea of shimmering indigo, met by an immeasurable expanse of black sands. The shore, teeming with naiads, black eyed angels, feasting on white clad carcasses. His lungs were full of water.

Numbed by blissful lethargy, he adored the feeling of her teeth setting into his neck.

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Author : Henry Peter Gribbin

Most of us have been home alone late at night when we heard a strange noise coming from downstairs. Clutching a baseball bat or a golf club we proceeded slowly down the steps, all senses on alert. Finding nothing we felt a sense of relief and headed back upstairs. But how many of us have come face-to-face with an intruder? If this happened to you, then you know what real fear is.

I never knew this feeling of intense fear, that is until one night this past October. It was a cool, clear night. I was sitting in my backyard on my picnic table. I had been working on my car, and I was enjoying the autumn evening with a cigar in one hand and a can of beer in the other. Suddenly the trees were bent as if a gale force wind had blown through. I found myself swept off the picnic table and thrown hard to the ground. I was thrust almost back to my feet as the earth shook violently. This was followed immediately by a very loud thud. Then all was still.

I picked myself off the ground and steadied myself on the table for a moment. A strong odor, like that of sulfur, caught my attention. Smoke was coming from a vacant lot right over a small hill from my house. I hopped a fence and cut across my neighbor’s yard. When I reached the lot I came face-to-face with a rather large object halfway imbedded in the ground. Smoke was coming out of an opening, but at a steadily decreasing rate.

I walked over to the opening. There was a light coming from the object. The light shone upon a body lying halfway inside the object. I thought it was a child’s body, but as I looked closer it looked alien. It had incredibly smooth and shiny skin. There was a clear fluid coming from a gash in its back. It was dead. I had come this far so I proceeded into the object. Because of the crash everything was at an angle and walking was difficult. Every now and then I would come across another body like the one I found at the opening.

From the time I had been thrown off the picnic table up until this point I had felt like I was on an adventure. I felt like an archeologist uncovering an ancient tomb. When I turned a corner that feeling turned to fear. What I came across was a clothed human woman strapped to a table. Overhead of the woman was what looked like a x-ray machine, only this one had a small drill feeding out of it. It was inches from the woman’s rib cage. There were several dead alien bodies in the room. I looked back at the woman on the table. I thought she was dead, but suddenly she opened her eyes. This gave me a jolt, and for one moment I wanted to run. But I undid her straps. She immediately sat up on the table, braced herself for one moment, looked up at me and reached for some kind of an implement that was laying on a stand next to her. She proceeded to hit me in the head with it. I staggered backwards, and as I did so she bolted from the room. For a moment I saw stars. Then I followed her lead. I bolted out of that room and out of the object as fast as I could. I cut through my neighbor’s yard and reached the street. From the first impact of the crash till now a matter of only a few moments had passed. I just kept walking and did not return home for two days. By that time all evidence of the crash was gone. The local news mentioned a small airplane crash.

I used to enjoy science fiction books and movies. Now I avoid them. They only serve as a reminder of that horrible day this past October. I never did find out what became of the woman I found. I hope she made it home, wherever that may be.

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