Author : Olivia Black, Featured Author
Eve poked at her bowl of noodles again. She hadn’t been hungry when she’d ordered that food over an hour ago. Now, the broth was cold and the noodles gelatinous.
“Ick,” she sighed under her breath, dropping the chopsticks back into the bowl. The chef glared in her direction, annoyed that she was still there. She rolled her eyes. It wasn’t like the place was packed or anything.
She turned her attention to the crowd passing by outside, their faces ashen in the constant twilight aboard the station. It was late evening and no one was in a hurry. She was searching for a familiar face. Adam said he’d be here over an hour ago. He wasn’t exactly the punctual sort, but this was pushing it, even for him. They did have a rather tight schedule to keep, if she’d understood his plan correctly. Worry began filling the pit in her stomach where those noodles were meant to go. What if something had happened to him?
A flexi printout hit the laminated counter top with a crisp slap, making Eve jump. It was a ticket for the midnight flight to Mars Orbital. She stared at it, then at the woman in the three-piece suit who sat down beside her.
“I’ll have the dumplings,” the woman said to the chef, her red lips stretch into a smile as he acknowledged her order. “Zu makes the best dumplings on the station.” She turned to Eve with the same smile.
Eve shrugged. “I’m new to the station.”
“Yes, that’s right. You used to be a teacher on Baron Station until a month ago, didn’t you, Eve?”
“How did you –“ Eve started to ask, but then clamped her mouth shut.
“Missy Russell, with Station Migration Authority,” she said, producing her holo-badge. “We need to have a chat about your future.”
Eve felt herself go cold. “What about my future?”
“You’re going to have to make a tough decision concerning your brother,” Missy said as Zu placed a basket of steaming dumplings in front of her. “You want?”
Eve shook her head and looked away. She couldn’t possibly eat anything now. Nor did she particularly know what to say, so she waited.
“Half an hour ago, Adam was seen emptying bottles of generic pain relievers and replacing them with exotic pheromone capsules,” Missy explained while she waited for her food to cool. Eve tried her best to keep a neutral expression.
“Pheromone capsules fetch a pretty penny on the black market, but they’re difficult to transport. And it looks like your brother has enough to set you both up for months. Except with his record, he’d never make it off the station with them. You, on the other hand…”
“What about me?” Eve said more belligerently than she’d meant.
“Your brother is counting on your pristine record to get you through station customs without being searched, but that’s not what’s going to happen. The pills will be found and you will be charged with trafficking restricted substances.”
Eve’s eyes widened.
“So my question is: do you love your brother enough to spend five years in cryo storage for him? And ruin all prospects of a career after that?” Missy asked, popping a crispy dumpling in her mouth. “Or would you rather take this one way ticket to Mars and forget this whole thing happened? I hear they’re in desperate need of teachers these days.”
Eve stared wordlessly. How was she supposed to answer that?
Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer
Across a starfield as vast as it is unexplored, two pinpricks of light crawl. Getting closer, their crawling progress is revealed to be a trick of distance. Both specks are moving at tremendous speed.
“How far, Davey?”
“Less than an AU, kid. How much less depends on how dead we want to be before the fuel runs out.”
“How much further do we need to go to outrun them?”
“Across the drift. Which we don’t have the fuel for. A fact that may be irrelevant.”
“We’ve picked up a close tail. One who can track us by vessel lock, not emission trail.”
“One we don’t have the fuel to shake?”
“Even if we had the fuel, the drastic manoeuvres required would attract the attention of the Roekuld, and delay us sufficiently for them to make up a lot of the head start your folks died to give us.”
“How dangerous is the close tail?”
“It’s an Urson Destroyer.”
“My mother’s people! Didn’t we have treaties with them?”
“Until the Senate tried to placate the Roekuld by reneging on them.”
“What do we do, Davey?”
“Remember, I can only advise. It’s royalty who make the decisions, kid.”
“Not really. Mum and dad were royal. They always tried to keep what they called ‘the pomp and circumstance’ away from me, at least until I got a little older.”
“That’s the problem with being Blood Royal, kid. Getting promoted usually involves heartbreak and tough decisions.”
“I’ve done the heartbreak. Anything else will be easy.”
“Then wipe your eyes, Eagle Princess of the Sunward Towers, and rise to be Queen of the Sunward Reach, with her one loyal retainer, David Knight.”
“It seems that I am in dire straits, good Knight.”
“You are, milady.”
“Then heave to and make parlay with those aboard the Urson ship. I will take their anger as fairer than the hatred of the Roekuld who slaughtered my family.”
“You do the queen thing well, kid.”
“Let’s see how short my reign is to be, Davey.”
“This is Sunward Talirand hailing the Urson Destroyer in our wake.”
“Hail to you from Destroyer Bearclaw. We note your ‘Sunward’ claim, Talirand. You have royalty on board?”
She places her hand on my wrist, then leans forward to speak clearly into the pickup: “Maliean Mar, Eagle Princess of the Sunward Towers. To whom do I speak?”
There is a pause. Then a warmer voice relies: “With regret, dear highness, we recognise and declare you to be Mar the Second, Queen of the Sunward Reach.”
I feel a tear splash onto the back of my hand.
“I suspected it would be so, Grandmother Chantrie.”
“You recognise me, Maliean? Well done.”
“We would have stopped sooner, but we thought you were chasing us.”
“No, granddaughter. We were overlaying your emission trail with ours, like the ‘Bear Follower’ in the nursery tale. The Roekuld are cowards. They will never provoke a confrontation with the Urson unless they can get someone else to do so.”
“What now, grandmother?”
“You and yours come aboard, Maliean. Then, again like the bear in the tale, let us carry you to safety. Once there, you can start to build your court-in-exile.”
Across a starfield as vast as it is unexplored, a pinprick of light hurtles. Far behind, a cluster of pinpricks mill about for a while, then turn away.
Author : Beck Dacus
The year is twenty – twenty seven. An archaeologist squats in the dirt, staring stupidly at a hair pinched between her fingers. An outside observer would have no idea that she was marveling at her way to bridge science and religion.
For years she had felt like she was forced to choose between science and religion. That the two would never agree. She was told that evolution was a bunch of lies spread by the devil, despite the fact that all the pieces fit perfectly. She was told that the universe had been spontaneously made, despite the fact that it was beautiful and logical in a way she felt only an intelligence could design. They were like two parents that couldn’t stop fighting, and she just wanted them to compromise and accept her.
And this could be the key to it. This hair, buried in Nazareth, would end the argument. There would be a second coming, but it would not be accomplished by magic. Jesus would return through cloning.
The Bible had been correct. Jesus would return from the dead. She would take him to America first, and he would circle the globe in that direction. He would come from the east, no matter where you were.
There was the matter of Judgement Day, as that would most likely not happen. But much of the Old Testament would come to be realized. And it would be accomplished using science. He would not magically return from the heavens, as predicted. He would be brought back using an orderly, proven procedure. He wouldn’t remember anything from the year zero, either.
The perfect compromise. The two would agree, and she could live in peace. If the involved parties weren’t too stubborn.
Author : Edward D. Thompson (edacious)
It’s just like hunting, Marcus thought, as he scanned the past at double speed. Know where the good spots are, know how to watch and wait, and mostly, it was just dumb luck. He let himself go, drifting up the current of the past, waiting, watching.
Silva’s hungry whimpering only distracted him for a moment. Poor Sil, it was hardest on the youngest. “I know, Sil, I know,” he whispered to himself. “I haven’t found a good catch for a few days. One’s coming soon, I promise. I won’t let any of you starve.”
He avoided the more crowded focus spots, the landfills, the strip malls, the fairgrounds. Those would be picked over, and the temporal dampers wouldn’t let you harvest too much from one place. Too much chance of changing the present, they said. He didn’t see what would be so bad about that.
If anyone glanced out the begrimed windows, they’d see the present in all its over-harvested, dustbowl, sun-bleached-skeletons-of-the-starved glory. It could use a little changing. But he was in no position to argue; he was lucky to have the transporter at all. You did what you could to survive.
A small town, not too small. A few modest but busy eateries. He slowed around a promising site. And there! He scrolled back to watch the moment again, then forward to make sure no one else grabbed the stuff. Nope, it wouldn’t be missed. Just a little less waste in their already overfull landfills.
He scrolled by again, half speed. There was the moment when they decided to toss them. Then the moment when an employee dumped the trash. Marcus locked in on the boxes, but didn’t retrieve them. Not just yet. He skimmed forward slightly. There was the moment the restaurant closed. He tried not to think about the hefty people making their way out of the building. So much. They had so much and they just threw most of it out! Now, no one was around. He initiated the transfer, pacing impatiently as the unit teleported the target from the past to the pad. In the past, the boxes winked out of existence instantaneously; on his end it would take a while for them to rematerialize. He watched Silva and the other children, lost in the fitful, restless sleep of the hungry, and smiled sadly when the first whiff of hot meat and bread wafted through the room and he heard stomachs growl even before they woke.
And there they were. Six flat boxes, steaming slightly in the cold air. He waved the kids into the dining area. They knew better than to rush him, no matter how hungry they were. Slowly he slipped the top box out of the unit and looked over the contents. One medium supreme pizza with some moldy lettuce stuck to one side. Could be worse. He smiled, they’d feast tonight! And tomorrow, he’d resume the hunt.