“I still don’t understand how you became captain.” “Acting Captain,” Day corrected Zunzheim. “Acting Captain.” Zunzheim rolled his eyes. “Because after the accident I was the only one qualified. I tried to turn it down. When all the dust settled, it was me, a nurse practitioner, three marines and half of the maintenance department left onboard. Maintenance didn’t want marines in charge, so it’s me. Boucher was the ranking marine, so she is first officer.” “Maintenance would rather have a suicidal, misanthropic captain than a marine?” “Maintenance is suspicious of authority figures,” Day answered. “They have their own informal command...

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Chester “Ched” Edwards, one-time heir to AllRound Enterprises, spits out gobs of dirt and dried blood and takes a gulp from his water line. It tastes like warm piss. The horizon strobes magenta, each spike followed by a pitch-shifting whine, loose and ghostly. If this is a storm, it is unlike any he has ever seen. He unzips his landing suit, feeling around for his radio, keying in the number he’s been given. “Chester Edwards, customer 412-695-B. Waiting for agent.” Nothing but white noise. His pod is still visible as a trapezoid lump, overtly geometrical against the marshy flatness. He...

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“I’m Harry Meers.” A simple answer to a simple question: “Which of you is Mr. Meers?” Kendra Wilk glanced up and scanned the reception area outside of Mr. Reber’s office. She’d hung up the phone as she’d asked the question, eyes downcast after her boss had berated her for making Mr. Meers wait. She scolded herself for her carelessness. Everyone thought her just a pretty face, and in her drive to prove them wrong, Kendra bungled. Again and again she bungled. Repeatedly. Certainly she could manage to identify Mr. Reber’s next appointment. Certainly she could identify Mr. Meers without a...

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“No – you just look at that and tell me I’m wrong.” Sahl had seen many dawns in her life, and Earth’s had never featured among her favourites. The Solar System colonies had so much to offer in this sense – some of them of uncanny beauty. And from the stunning, week-long West Sunrise Parties in the Venusian Floating Cities to the blue hues of the Martian skyline, Sahl had seen them all. No nostalgia or misplaced sentimentalism for a well-travelled Solar System astrobiologist born in a faraway colony. But when, embedded in her heavy exoskeleton, she went out in...

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Marco crouched next to his master in the shadow of two leering demon statues standing sentry at Bongeunsa Temple’s arched gates. His hand rested on the hilt of a dagger tucked into his belt, and he gazed down the one thousand steps leading to the sacred summit. The slender woman had emerged from the tree line in her steep ascent up the temple’s stone stairs. When she finally stood before Marco and his master, her pale skin bore a light sheen of sweat, and she breathed heavily from the exertion of reaching the high peak. “I am honored to be...

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Susan always had Chatty Katty, Canada’s favorite gossip hour, on the wall screens on Tuesdays, and “Celebrity Crashes” on Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were Elijah’s days. Then it was CNNetNews in the bedroom, the bathroom’s HUD holo-mirror and the kitchen’s wall screen. The rest of their home was wired for audio only. Elijah knew she hated that. There seemed to be a lot of things Susan hated these last few years. It wasn’t something they ever talked about; but sometimes the notion that something was wrong would take hold of him, but something else always seemed to come up...

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The walls around the town of Bootstrap are mostly old cars stacked one on top of the other and welded together. Outside Bootstrap, market stalls made from patchwork tarps and rusty pipes lean on either side of the wide gate. They are temporary places for the people who live inside to trade goods with the people stuck outside who need in. People like Pup. He looks up at the guard by the gate, who is thicker, but not much older. Probably grew up inside the walls. He looks as if he’s been well-fed, even during bad years. His skin is...

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Some claim that the Creator has infinite facets, that every deity ever prayed to is one and the same. Following that line of thought, one might conclude that every temple ever constructed is equally valid, that He of Infinite Aspects exists in every church and sanctum, and can be praised and pleaded with pretty much wherever. Such an assertion is surprisingly accurate, but only up to a point. Similarly, in the realm of quantum mechanics, there exists a many-worlds interpretation, which states that every single event—from stomping a snail to detonating a thermonuclear weapon—acts as a branch point, birthing parallel...

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Man, as history had known man, was dead to Earth. For a generation and a half, the blue-green planet had been ravaged by a world-encompassing plague the likes of which had never been dreamt of in the wildest of fictions. The plague had thieved away from its victims the capacity to communicate through any form of language, oral, written, or sign, like some demented anti-Prometheus. Now the ruins of civilization were, in the general consensus of the Martian populace, no more than a playground for savage beasts, human only in physical appearance, to wage battle against one another over the...

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They say that hell is other people, but that isn’t true. Hell is no one. It is being completely, totally, and utterly alone. Anyone who has been to space knows this. And few people know what it means to be alone in space the way that I do. They also say that war is hell, and that is very true – I know this from experience. If you are familiar with the history of Gliese Prime, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I’m from Zarmina, the smaller of the two inhabited planets in the system. Librus is the...

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