Our First Year

One year ago this month we released our first issue. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long already, but it really has. Sometimes I have to pinch myself while looking at a calendar just to make sure it’s true. In fact, I’m about to try it out again in another minute just to be sure I’m not still asleep.

Over the last year, I feel that I’ve learned a lot, not only about publishing an electronic magazine, but also about myself. One of the largest lessons I’ve learned during this year is that I can’t do all of this alone. There are always things that will pop up that can’t be prevented. But the show must go on. And if I were to do this all alone, the show wouldn’t even be able to happen.

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Heir of Mercy by John Frochio

Heir of Mercy
by John Frochio | 3,434 words

Marshall Bruner crossed the fire field in bounding strides, the little girl clutched to his chest like a prized possession. The clear protective sheath that encircled their bodies like a deformed egg was not designed to withstand a constant bombardment of flames. The temperature climbed steadily within the casing.

“Come on, you damned super polymers!” he said in a strained whisper. “Show me what you’re made of!”

As sweat poured down his body in waves, he focused all his attention on the rocky ground and the concrete shelter a thousand feet ahead. A pair of camelback swoopers buzzed him, wondering perhaps if he was something edible. He was thankful that the child in his arms was unconscious, oblivious of their treacherous circumstances.

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The Sgovari Stratagem

The Sgovari Stratagem
by Alex Shvartsman | 4,082 words

Jenkins watched through the small porthole in his cabin as yet another spaceship detached itself from the station and accelerated toward the stars.

Guess that one had no berth for me, either, he thought bitterly as the Navy ship became a distant streak of light, then disappeared into the vastness of the cosmos.

Dr. Ethan Jenkins, noted xenoarchaeologist, expert on alien psyche, and a one-time consultant to the Navy, was stuck. The Diplomatic Corps wanted his help, so he’d been plucked from Earth and flown half way across the galaxy to assist in the negotiations on Tycho. And when that mission was over, they’d dumped him in this floating Navy fortress, to wait until there was a vessel heading for Earth which had the spare room to take him home.

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Planet Texas by Lance J. Mushung

Planet Texas
by Lance J. Mushung | 2,363 words

I sat in the center of the spherical view screen in Austin’s cockpit with my pilot, Candace Weiss. With only the dim blue glow of our console marring the darkness of the cockpit, it was easy to imagine we were floating in space, surrounded by the splendor of the cosmos. I swiveled my chair to look outside, gazed at the breathtaking blue and white ball that was Earth, and felt a wave of melancholy. I’d never see Mother Earth again.

I righted my seat. With the view screen at standard magnification, the Liberty Disk at Lagrangian Point Four was visible only because of the blinking lights around its circumference. When we got closer we’d see a thin silver ring, like a platinum wedding band hanging in dead space, barely noticeable. Conversely, the massive facility that powered the disk would have been obvious even without its flashing red lights. It was a dark spot that blotted out the stars behind it. To the right of the disk, I could see the amber lights of the Bessel Space Telescope constructed by the Allied States of Earth. It was ostensibly a deep space telescope, but everyone knew the ASE built it to spy on the Liberty Disk.

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The Only Thing by Conor Powers-Smith

The Only Thing
by Conor Powers-Smith | 2,811 words

You tell yourself you can’t be afraid. That even if you’re afraid, you’ve got to hold the line. You’ve got to be strong. And when the time comes, you run anyway. In every single engagement to date, if you were a human being, and you were in their way, you ran. Except for one group, on one day. And I’m going to get to them.

I’ve been in three engagements. The fear… The fear, sir… I ran every time. I’m not ashamed. I used to be. But you can no more resist it than a dead frog can resist twitching its leg when you run a jolt of electricity through it. That really happens. I had two and a half semesters of med school before the invasion. That’s how I ended up in the medical corps. The frog thing’s first-semester stuff.

This is the same. It’s a physiological response to a stimulus. The fact that we don’t understand that stimulus doesn’t make the response any less real. And frankly, sir, we don’t understand it in the least. We don’t even know if it’s generated through technology, or some biological process in the bastards themselves.

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High Maintenance by Jeffrey L. Morris

High Maintenance
by Jeffrey L Morris | 1,545 words

George Daly thumped his vis-screen on its side. Nothing. He hit it again, a little harder. “Crap.” He shut it down and ordered the nanobots to get to work, making tiny, tiny repairs to its insides. The machine ground to a halt and the microscopic minions got to it. The slow, slow recovery back into cyber-consciousness began, wheezing and gasping like all these old models did. He sighed and went for a cup of coffee.

“Morning George,” said Al Burpkip, collecting his own morning pick-me-up.

“Morning Al,” he replied, hiding his grainy brain with a 9:45 smile. The new lighting they’d installed in the office had his head ringing. ‘Omni-ance’ they called it. It came from nowhere, just was everywhere, and left no shadows. It was crap. After it was installed he’d spent the first two weeks bumping into things and he still suffered terribly from vertigo every time he lifted his head from his desk. Everybody else claimed they loved it. The women said it flattered them, though judging from the bruises on their elbows and shins they had the same problem as George spotting open drawers and such in the bleached light.

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