The small pinkish human pushes his round glasses back up his button nose and inclines his round-cheeked head, standing between two packed cylinders of silk thread taller than himself. He turns around and disappears through the shimmering portal. Zutroq attaches the silk-filled black cylinders to her carrying rod, which she subsequently hoists up onto her lean upper shoulders. With her lower left arm, she reaches behind her oval head and pulls up her kasa, shielding her eyes and face from the bright suns. The silk continues its journey. Produced on Earth – one of the newest members of the 27...

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Cephas again observed his body in the reflections of the broken glass in the control room. While lacking either male or female genitalia, the absence of breasts indicated a stronger likelihood of maleness. But there was no way to be sure. The people he watched and listened to were either male or female, masculine feminine, man woman, boy girl, guy gal, dude chick, gentleman lady, cowboy cowgirl, muchacho perra, gigolo slut. So far, Cephas had catalogued seven hundred sixty-two words used to designate male from female in a variety of contexts. When he watched their bodies move under grainy light...

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“Are you sure?” she asked, staring at the floor. “Yes, very,” I returned. “I think…” she began cupping her hand over her mouth for a moment. “I think it’s important that you understand this is an all or nothing situation.” “I do, I understand completely. I told you… I’m okay with it.” “It’s my fault… I just…” “Doc, look, I get it, there’s no room for failure. I won’t let you down. You’ll see.” “I’m just not sure if you’re ready, that’s all,” she said softly, turning her back to me. “Are you kidding me? I’ve been a Marine for...

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11,995 UC The Syana Galaxy East Cell The Ma’lumet System The Interstellar University of Syana (ISUS) The hum of the university perpetually occupied Seren’s being as it suspended in open space, slowly orbiting a lone G-type main-sequence star. She glared at the two men perpetually following her around the campus. They looked like they could’ve been twins with their matching black hair and square jaws. They were there when she woke up, when she went to class, when she ate, when she went to bed and everything in-between. She constantly tried to evade them but each time she was found...

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Three hours to wait and no free seats. Henry Polter shifted his laptop bag onto a less aching part of his shoulder. The bodies of sleeping backpackers littered the floor of the waiting lounge. Only the occasional wail of a child rose louder than the unhappy murmur. A winding metal staircase led to a dining area suspended above the waiting lounge. Here, the only restaurant not packed with diners offered ‘a taste of the Savannah’. Henry wasn’t hungry but took a seat at a two-seater table in the corner, facing away from the rows of corpse-like backpackers laid beneath the...

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There comes a point in many death metal songs when the down-tuned guitars begin to play a simple mid-tempo riff – it’s almost a chugging noise – and the music turns… visceral. Standing there, shoulder to shoulder in a crowd, the volume near-deafening, the music seems to beat a sense of unity into those present. A single organism, at one with the music – those with their gazes fixed on the stage; those too in the maelstrom of moshers, spinning and colliding and roaring together. Then the riff abruptly shifts into something far more complex. The time-signature alters. The drummer...

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The pressgangs never came around here. Why would they? Pickings for naval impressment were slim here in Albany. As one of the kingdom’s more remote regions and situated at the petering end of the Good Hope trade wind, the place was populated predominantly by farmers. Granted, there were plenty of scrapyarders and a handful of steel workers here, but experienced sailors were few and far between. And yet, the dreaded pressgangs had arrived. Rumours had been trickling in for a while now of young men snatched away from towns on both of Albany’s inhabited planets. The stories alleged that a...

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He wears the story of his life on his face. That first second, looking at him in person, is a rehashing of everything I know about him: The hardships, the battles, the killings, the fight for freedom, the struggle against the British Mandate, the wars with the Arabs, and the cruel battles against the traitors within. I can see the 1930’s and 40’s and 50’s on his face. Decisions and fates have been carved in the stone of his skin more than fifty years ago. So much of a person’s face is not captured on a TV screen. His eyes...

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“Warble, warble, warble, warble, warble…” My wristwatch beeper warbled annoyingly, and I woke up and fell off the couch. Crawling to my computer, I hit standby and ‘netted in almost immediately. “Are you there, chums?” I typed, seating myself, and waited. It was just after 2am, my time. A few moments later, the rest of the team came online: “I’m here, Nick,” said Simon, followed by “Good morning, Nick,” from Jazz. “What happened?” I wanted to know if our unwelcome visitor had returned. “The detectors that I set last night went off a few minutes ago,” said Simon, “and he’s...

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My mistress calls me her mimic. It’s as good a name as any, and I have had more names than I can clearly remember. Each has left a trace in my genetic structure, and, in a sense, I am all of those names and none. I am, however, whatever name I need to be at a given time, and today I need to be Cillian Truffant. Unfortunately, this name is already owned by another man. Not unfortunate for me, mind you, but unfortunate for him. From my position above the wide arcade in Titan’s Huygens City, I study Truffant as...

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