Two Hearts, Two Minds
by Jo Thomas | 2,100 words
The packet ship appeared exactly on time. One moment, there was nothing and the docking space was empty and in the next it was not. The beauty of the jump drive.
“Permission to dock, Xenologist Arri merk-Gweld.”
Arri smiled. Tome showed manners older than the ship she was in charge of. Would she be like this every visit? Or did she show this semi-formal deference because it was his first packet delivery?
The Tale of the White Tiger
by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt | 3,999 words
Blind Li Xiao surveyed the marketplace. The sensor net embedded in his storyteller’s robes fed signals directly to his brain. The citizenship transponders exactly matched the number of heat signatures. A world firmly loyal to the Empire, then. Or one too afraid to act otherwise.
A passive scan showed at least two peacekeepers in the market. Probably more secret police. He would have to be careful in his story selection. Something from one of the official chronicles. Something he could use for his own purposes.
by S.P. Parish | 4,523 words
“It says here that you scored at the top of your class in strategy, combat maneuvers, and hand-to-hand.”
An average cadet in their last year of training would feel pretty smug right about now.
“You do, however, have a few things here that concern me.”
…too bad I wasn’t your average cadet.
Cuddly Furballs of Contentment
by Erik Peterson | 3,999 words
Merek’s family had been on the planet for six months when his daughter Kemmy heard something bleating under a cover bush as they were hiking back to camp from a surveying expedition.
“I think it’s hurt,” she said. “Don’t you think it sounds hurt, Dad?”
“Might be. It’s dangerous down there.” He meant it as a warning to her, but he knew it would make her more eager to help whatever it was, and help it now.
The Phantom Frigate
by Eric Del Carlo | 2,346 words
A giant carrot walked into the bar. No, this isn’t the start of some joke. It glanced around, spotted me and Hitchcock drinking beers, and headed for our table.
“Is this the guy?” Hitch asked anxiously. Anxiety was pretty much his default emotional mode.
“No,” I said, setting down my Bongo Boy. “I’m sure it’s some other Purturalii who just wants an autograph.”
by Michaele Jordan | 6,007 words
David Atchinson scanned the test scores. His own grade, he barely noticed, was a 97. He did, however, observe that his classmates’ grades ranged from 58 to 96. Nearing the bottom of the list, he prepared to heave of sigh of self-congratulation. His eye lit briefly on the third name from the last, and swept on triumphantly to the end. Then, with a sickening double take, he backtracked to Younger, S. – 97.
He pondered Younger, S. at some length, trying to recall who that was.