The calm before the storm. That’s what Captain Belcheck called it; the peaceful moments that occurred as two vessels soundlessly drifted around each other, waiting for the long cannons to come into range. Halson watched the enemy Cray elegantly glide around a large nimbus clouds. They were close enough to see the crew, scurrying around the rigging like tiny ants among the fragmented steel plates. It was a rather common rule to never start firing until you could tell what your enemy was wearing. Captain Belcheck rarely followed the rules though. Two of the port sniper cannons were being loaded

“Ain’t no job for a lady, that.” The man who spoke typifies the kind of south of the river sleaze-on-the-make that I spend the best part of my days trying to avoid. I stand beside the little red and white tent, hands on hips, eyebrow arched with dangerous intent. He wavers on the edge of the pavement, wondering whether to continue with this conversation or to quit while he is ahead. I don’t try to deny what I do for a living, though it may be a little difficult to hide sometimes; the thigh length waders and heavy-duty gloves are

Q It used to be considered as a disease. Parents told about abnormalities in the amniotic fluid would weep inconsolably, and consider the option of a late termination, fully supported by the medical world. Those who believed the presence of life outweighed the ability to endure it bore children into a world they could never truly understand, other than through pain and confusion. As science, and society grew in strength, and illnesses vanished, and the scope of normal was stretched beyond the narrow confines of the 19th century, which itself was wholly permissive by the standards of the 16th, several

The blood pooled in the foreigner’s beige shirt, just over his belt. Some of it spilled over the side, filling up a red lake beneath him. Littlebig listened for the foreigner’s shallow breathing, and waited for the dark. Dark brought cover and a chance of rescue for the boy and the foreigner. “We know there are two rebels there behind the wall,” came the sniper’s voice. “And we are going to come for you. Do you think we are afraid somehow to come down there? I assure you we are not. We are waiting for you to come out.” Littlebig

The portable classroom was larger than Joan Ellen had expected. Lit from overhead with fluorescent lights and busy with seventh-grade artwork, it smelled of chalk dust, old books, and refrigerated air. It reminded Joan Ellen of home. These days, most everything reminded Joan Ellen of home – or at least how far she was from it. She tried to pay attention, but now Joan felt the yawning chasm of distance, the thousands upon thousands of miles between Tunis and DC. “I’ll put this as simply as I can,” Mrs. Thornton said. “Patrick is a brilliant boy.” Liz Thornton was Patrick’s

“Wait for the next transporter to go by, then force the door,” Jenkins said. I liked Jenkins; he looked after me. Others wouldn’t, most wouldn’t even talk to me. I liked his Welsh accent, the way he smiled and treated me like a younger brother. I was nearly a foot taller and 10 kilos heavier but he still looked out for me. I waited behind the rear door to Med7 and surveyed the camp; dozens of soldiers moving with purpose over the desert sand, shifting crates to piles next to where the planes were loading. Despite the late hour, the

Chapter 1 He’d stood in that doorway probably a hundred times before, and shouldn’t have been surprised. The real surprise was that he always was. Over on the peeling whitewash of the window-side wall, just above the old Boxford lathe, the well-oiled centrefold of the resident, very buxom and scantily clad lady, still hung by the same rusted nail in the lintel; thermal long-johns and a hot water bottle would have been more practical in the workshop. It had taken a minute for his eyes to grow accustomed to the half-light that struggled through chicken wire and grease; but she

Boredom was killing Prism. Not literally though. To die, one must be alive. So when he captured the thought inviting him to attend the School, he became exited. Other young ethereals captured the same thought, and most of them transmitted their responses in the same resonance as that of the caller. Like Prism did. “When did you capture the thought?” Prism thought in the same resonance as Maze and Infinitesium, his two acquaintances who had also accepted the invitation. “Just a few teirons ago,” Maze thought. “Same here!” Infinitesium added. “What’s this about?” “I don’t know,” Prism thought. “But I’m