Karen Walker had been in the malodorous gravity chamber for almost an hour, gradually dialing up to an unpleasant 0.8 Earths as she pounded the cross-trainer. She was pushing it, but not too hard, careful after what happened to Rashford. Her straw-colored hair was dripping and her vest ringed with dark sweat marks when she finally gave in and stopped. Passive conditioning time now in the tiny, mildewed Alu-foil chamber. She sat, dialing the crushing simulated gravity up to full Earth. Karen closed her eyes and let her heartbeat slow, drifting as she tuned into to the familiar bass note...

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FOOL noun \ˈfül\ 1: a person of poor judgment 2: a person formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment, typically dressed in cap, bells, and bauble 3: a dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard, served cold # It was Maria’s own mountain berry fool which would be destined to set things off this time. And how. The most luxurious concoction of wild airberries, conanberries, and cheenas imaginable, all creamed together through some recipe she had adapted for the local flora. Because Maria was, like us, a settler. Much as I liked the idea of...

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The lobotomies worked out so well that everyone wanted one. And the whole world changed. The first beneficiary was Milo Arthur French, a multiple murderer residing at the California Correctional Institution near Corcoran. This large vulgar man who bore a permanent sneer on his face agreed to submit to the latest of Dr. Marls Krieger’s radical surgical experiments. The partial lobotomy performed with laser surgery and a supplemental pharmacological therapy would, in theory, abate the patient’s atavistic impulses. After twenty years of disappointment Dr. Krieger had little hopes that this time would be any different. French was prone to extreme...

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Forty-five The man in the alleyway wasn’t someone you found in the White Pages, or Craig’s List, or any website for that matter. It had taken Zalia a month to track him down, but in this dank dingy corner of the city, she began to doubt the man here could save her mum. Zalia shone her torch at him, but the cobblestoned building and industrial dumpster behind him absorbed all light. She smelled him before she could take in his appearance. A stagnant mix of Old Spice, decaying fruit and cheap bourbon wafted towards her, inflaming her nostrils and all...

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She wanted to see where the books came from. In a more innocent age, before the war, before the arrival of the Seraphim and all that entailed, it would have just been a quiet date. Not anymore. Not when a trip to the library meant venturing into the fallout zone. Accordingly, Storm Hamilton took the two old pistols from the drawer of his antique writing desk and stuffed them in a leather satchel. For a moment he considered bringing an extra box of ammunition, but decided against it. They would only be out for a short time, a couple hours...

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“They say you can never go home again.” Bartholomew Quasar leaned back in his deluxe-model captain’s chair as the star cruiser raced toward Earth. “But I tend to disagree.” “Humph.” Hank, the very hairy, four-armed helmsman of the Effervescent Magnitude, seldom replied in more than a monosyllable. A cross between a large sloth and an orangutan in appearance, he sat hunched over his console in front of a massive viewscreen mounted on the fore wall. Somehow, despite the captain’s frequent interruptions, Hank managed to remain focused on the task at hand: maintaining the ship’s trajectory while dodging flurries of perilous...

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He pulls into the diner’s carpark just after midnight. Back stiff and eyes heavy from staring through a windscreen more splattered bug than glass. There is no one else there. He parks and then sits there for a long time, a hand on the steering wheel, chewing his lip. Now and then he glances at his phone, and in its bleaching light his face is zombie-white and gaunt. Eventually, he takes a deep breath and steps out. The air is familiar and nuzzles as if alive and curious. Pieces of styrofoam and paper and dry grass skitter across the asphalt...

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“Feels good to finally be off that blasted ship.” Ben breathes in so deeply that his shoulder rubs against my bare one, a touch so slight I wonder if I only imagined it. The elevator rattles as it carries us down the mineshaft, into the depths of this planet whose name I can’t even remember. Maybe it doesn’t have one. Not that it matters. They’re all the same as far as we’re concerned: barren hunks of mineral deposits, surrounded by unbreathable atmosphere. They’re ugly, cold, and unwelcoming, without a thing to make us want to remain on their surfaces. Without...

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OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY ETHICAL PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES FOR THE RESEARCH OF EXTRATERRESTRIALS The Special Commission on the Protection of Extraterrestrial Subjects of Biomedical and Social/Behavioral Research AGENCY: Department of Health and Human Services ACTION: Publishing of report for public comment DATE: November 28th, 2045 Summary: On March 10, 2041, Congress signed an update to the National Research Act, creating the Special Commission on the Protection of Extraterrestrial Subjects of Biomedical and Social/Behavioral Research. In reaction to, and in the calm after, catastrophic and unprecedented events involving the race known colloquially as the “Marconis”, Congress charged the Special Commission with...

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Cardilingos arrived on Winchett Four in the hold of a cargo ship. There was no discount for being jolted about in the emergency chair, observed by a crowd of robots. A4 robots guarding 28 crates, each labelled with a red cross for explosives. Contents prohibited on passenger vessels. When the ship landed, the roof opened, and the long arm of a crane descended to lift the crates. Cardilingos stared up at the famous twin suns, adjusting his finger to local time. The crates went onto a trolley that carried them across the tarmac. The robots exited through the front of...

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