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

I. Networking Opportunity “How much to be my date to this party?” Paul asked. “Why do you need a date?” Jan countered. “This crowd is so anxiety provoking! Look, not as a real date. On-site stress management companion. Very innovative! Could even be a good networking opportunity for you.” “Not as a real date,” Jan said. She named a number. The party was a silent auction at a modern art gallery in Little Five Points. Paul offered to pick her up, but Jan wasn’t telling him where she lived. Instead she bussed into downtown Atlanta, picked up a dress from

Day One “Who is your Original?” asks the doctor, shining a bright light in your eyes. You blink, glancing left and right. Either side of you are others, blank, damp and hairless like you. Doctors take their temperatures, their blood, their heart-rates. “…I — ” Your tongue feels thick and clumsy in your mouth, like you’ve never used it before. “Who is your Original?” he asks again, lowering his flashlight and peering intensely into your face instead. You feel ashamed for some reason, aware of your paper gown and scrawny forearms. You avert your eyes and shake your head, taking

The exchange took place in a dark alley. The woman watched from the tinted windows of her stretch limousine, licking her lips involuntarily as the package passed from the hands of the dealer to those of her driver. Once it was in his possession, he walked backwards to the limo, in case the man might try something underhanded. The woman willed her driver to walk faster, impatience tugging at her. She’d waited long enough already, bribing and blackmailing and spending a fortune, all to get her hands on that package. Her mouth watered just thinking of it. She didn’t even

Stravinsky’s Les Augures printaniers wasn’t as mad as he came off. It was more disappointment that made him protest to Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major BWV 1047 (First Movement) that they should scrub the whole meeting and head for home. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major BWV 1047 (First Movement) insisted however they give Earth a chance to make up for its disappointing first impression, a motion she was backed up on by “Der Hölle Rache” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute and “Chanson du Toréador” from Bizet’s Carmen. These weren’t actually the names of The Diplomats from

The Westbrooks could not help but feel a little intimidated as they stepped out of the elevator. The home of the CFO of TransSolar was verging on the palatial. Yet, inside, it was understated. Hussein Fars and his wife had good taste, and lacked the insecurities that plagued so many top executives. Darius Westbrook was a geologist and his wife, Paula, a theoretical physicist, both with the prestigious Lunar University. Fars had handpicked them for the expedition he had been planning, overcoming their every objection, even allowing them to bring their daughter along. “I’m still not sure about this,” Paula

“Listen to what the moles say and you should be fine.” Dieter nodded his head and tried to look like he was paying attention. He was, with that part of his brain that also listened to his wife and stored the information away in case he was put on the spot. Mostly, though, he was looking out the window as the pod descended down the space elevator to the planet’s surface. He hadn’t had time to study the complete histories – just skimmed them on his way to the station. Now, he wished he had read more. He couldn’t remember

FIRST CONSTRUCTIVE “We, as the negative team in this debate, propose that you exterminate the human race. The chief flaw in the affirmative team’s policy proposal lies not in the mechanics of how it protects people, but in the assumption that people should be protected. In your notes, judges, please label our overall argument: Wipeout. It is an overarching strategy with several interlocking components. Amit and I believe that you will find that the pieces fit.” # The debate final is underway, the arguments unraveling under flickering fluorescent lights, and Connor’s shirt sleeve is unraveling with them. His clothing is