• Return to the Sea

    I had come down to the sea. Why I no longer remember. What I do remember is that I swam out away from the shore, far enough out that the sea stretched to the horizon and the swells blocked the shore from my sight so that I was alone in the blue-green waters. I dove beneath the surface and saw that there was the surface of another sea beneath me, waves crashing on the rocks of an underwater shoreline. I somehow perceived that this was the surface of an ancient sea from long ago and that I was above its ancient shoreline. I was swimming through the air above that ancient sea and this air was different from the air above me. It was newer air, air that had not been breathed by countless generations of creatures and so still retained all of its vitality. Though I was beneath my own sea I could breath the air of this ancient time and so swam out to explore this ancient sea. For a long time I swam along this shoreline, watching the waves break against the rocks of a strangely barren land. Then, I reached a point where I could see objects far out to sea and I, desiring a change from the endless rocks, breaking waves and empty beach, swam towards them to see what they were. I discovered the towers of a city, rising from the ancient sea which broke with increasing ferocity about them. The towers were of

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  • Dreams of the Dreamer’s Dreams

    I donned my dream suit and lay in my bed and was deep within my dream. In the dream I was in a world of shafts and corridors, doors and windows. As I climbed and walked and slid between them I passed others. They smiled and nodded as I passed but I did not stop them on their journies nor did they stop me in mine. Soon I came to the door I was seeking. The guard outside hesitated then smiled and stepped aside, proceeding on his way. I entered to find my bed wtih myself lying in it. But the bed was wide so I lay beside myself. I slept into another world, this one of warm inviting waters and islands covered with cool, dim forests. There were others here too, but I did not ignore them nor did they ignore me. We talked and laughed and traveled together, lying on the warm sand or swimming in the cool oceans. But inevitably after the long days I became tired again. One of my companions and I slipped into the forest where we found the small, guarded hut. Its guardian smiled in recognition of me and stepped aside, allowing us to enter the room with the wide bed. There were suits there for both of us and we donned them then lay together in the bed. We slept into a world of magnificent mountains and abysmal valleys. For days we explored this world together, climbing to the peaks of the

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  • Sunset

    Sunset was almost over when the first of the planes flew overhead. A chill had set into the air and a number of the abnormally large number of guests that had set the staff of the small cafe scrambling throughout the day had gone inside, but they came rushing back into the flagstoned courtyard at the sound of the engines. Three V-formations of large bombers passed overhead, their support fighters flanking around them like remoras pacing a shark. Many of the watchers whispered excitedly to each other, pointing towards the skies. Others shouted angrily and one cheered wildly until he was silenced by others of his group. But most simply watched silently. A few wept. I had been here often enough that I no longer looked at the planes. Instead, I watched the crowd of tourists. What drew them here, I wondered, to this place. To this event. I had first come here many years ago, for me anyway, because it seemed to be an out of the way place. While many came to visit Paris, or Normandy, or Berlin or even Auschwitz, very few came to Le Fleur de la Mer, this small cafe on the northern coast of Belgium. Most were now engrossed in watching the next wave pass overhead, though a few others watched the crowd as I did. We glanced at each other, nodded slightly in recognition, then returned to our observations of the others. The staff has been struggling to handle the unexpected number of

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  • Foundations

    I woke up in a cleared field. Somehow I wasn’t surprised. The three of them were there, watching as I sat up from the bed in which I found myself. The three of them sat around a banquet table which was loaded with food and drink. There was a fourth chair at the table, waiting. I walked over and sat down; there really was no reason not to. We all knew why I was there. “A fascinating device.” Blue spoke first, holding up a dunderschlag. “Immediately obvious as to its use and obviously useful.” He pointed it at me and I briefly flinched but he seemed more impressed with it than threatening. “We don’t care about that!” snapped Green. She took the device from Blue and pointed it at me herself. This time I didn’t flinch. I suspected half her anger was due to the fact that she couldn’t use it and knew it. None of them. That would certainly anger her. “What we want to know is how you acquired it.” I shrugged. “I made it.” “We are aware of that.” said Red. “As we are of everything. But we are not aware of this.” It pointed at the dunderschlag which Green still held in a firm grip. “It has no source. No template. So where did you get it.” I shrugged again, dismissively. “Not everything has a template. You know that. We make new templates all the time.” “Yes you do.” Blue spoke again. He seemed almost genuinely

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  • Level 5000

    I had been climbing for days. I don’t know exactly how long I had been on the ladder. I had tried counting for a while, numbering each rough, corroded rung as it passed in the dim glow of my biolight, but I had lost count somewhere in the tens of thousands. I do know I had slept three times, hanging clipped to the ladder, but in the darkness of the shaft I had no way of determining how long I had gone between sleeping. So I continued to climb. I was starting to wonder if I should climb back down and try to find another upward access from the maze of vents I had previously been traversing when a change in the shadows indicated an end to the shaft. The ladder finally ended in a horizontal panel. It was frozen in place, but a few sharp blows were sufficient to break the seal produced by decades of oxidation and it finally, reluctantly drew aside. I pulled myself up into the room beyond and lay for a long time, allowing my arms to rest as I lay motionless on the padded floor. After some time I stood up and looked around. I was in some sort of maintenance closet. Several machines I did not recognize stood along one wall, a faint, almost unnoticeable vibration being the only indication that they still functioned. Part of the air circulation or food fabrication systems I presumed. Certainly not one of the enormous electromagnetic generators

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  • At the Array

    The beacons and the sweeping beams of the Interdiction Array glittered ahead of me, an out-of-place brightness against the faint dusting of the Void. I sat in the command chair, eyes half-focused on the view outside and half on the image on the overhead monitor. There, the Sun hung faintly against the darkness. Out here, at the edge of the Void, it was but a little brighter than the only slightly dimmer and slightly more distant stars beyond. Still, it was the only Sun I had ever seen in the sky and the thought that I would probably never see it again caused me to doubt once again the course I had sat myself upon. I rested my hands on the controls and noticed that they were shaking slightly. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and the shaking diminished but did not cease. I sighed. I had been waiting out here too long. Unfastening my harness, I allowed myself to drift upwards out of the seat a bit and stretched. I then punched the heat button on the coffee pod and fumbled for a cigarette. I would have liked something stronger but after several days with no sleep I couldn’t take the chance of getting too relaxed. “At least I’m not talking to myself yet.” I thought, then winced. I had said it out loud. Oops. So much for that. I lit the cigarette and took a deep pull from it. The shaking faded and I released

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  • The Road to Phaedra

    The sun had just gone down when I got to the town gates. Some places closed up tight at sunset but this one looked like it stayed open. There was almost no other traffic and the guard barely glanced in my direction as I passed, instead concentrating on using a torch to light the large beacon over the main entrance. The usual tourist spots were just inside, torchlight streaming from most of them though the burger and coffee joints had their typically anachronistically artificial lighting, the cost of which I suspected would be reflected in their prices. I went a bit further down the main road before taking a side street and finding a smaller place with a more subdued illumination scheme. Inside I found a seat at the end of the bar. The bartender was busy with a couple of guys in typical traveller garb but indicated that he had noticed me with a nod. I settled my pack at my feet while waiting and looked over his current customers. Their gear was a bit too neat and clean and coordinated a bit too well. New on the Road. I winced as the bartender handed them a couple of Buds. Really new then. Previous customers served, he grabbed a towel and came over to where I was sitting. “What’ll you have?” he asked, wiping the towel quickly across the bar in front of me. He glanced over my own clothing as he did. It was similar to what the

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  • …And All the Stars a Stage

    A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY… PART I – THE BEGINNING Chapter 1: Exile (Hythoth village, Rodia, Tyrius system) Later, Tans could never remember exactly what it was that woke him. Perhaps it was Khesta’s cries. Perhaps it was the screams from outside. Or, perhaps it was the unmistakable sounds of blaster fire and combat. Then again, perhaps it isn’t important. Instead, maybe all that matters is that he awakened suddenly from a peaceful sleep; the last he would have for many cycles. “Tans! What is it!” gasped Khyla, bolting upright in bed beside him. “Clan raid.” said Tans grimly, his hand automatically going to her shoulder. It was dark, well before dawn, but the room was being illuminated by flickers of weapons fire from somewhere outside. The bright flash and deafening roar of a thermal detonator erupted from somewhere nearby, prompting another round of screams. “Go get Khesta!” he said, rolling out of bed. He turned, seeing his mate still staring in shock out the window. “Go!” he said again. She started, then leapt to her feet and ran past him. As she left, Tans quickly moved to the armoire and pulled his blaster rifle from the top shelf. Seldom used but well maintained, it had been a gift to him from his father; an accomplished bounty hunter who had hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. He had been alternately dismayed and enraged when Tans met Khyla, a dancer in the local theatre,

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  • The Feast of Departure

    It was the Day of Leaving and we were celebrating with the Feast of Departure. Everything we were taking with us had been packed or loaded into the wagons and carts, but there was even more that we would be leaving behind. We had therefore prepared as much of the food as we could and all of us feasted on the stored provisions of many seasons. The children, many of them already in their travel clothes, laughed and ran and played around the tables while we adults ate our fill and reminisced over the seasons we had spent here. Some, newly come to adulthood since our last travels, were nervous about what we would face as we left our home and made our way across unknown lands and those of us who had made the journeys many times before reassured them that our group was strong and would encounter no dangers in the world beyond. Our leader had looked to the sky and the wind and decided the path we would take when we left this place forever but we did not know how far we would have to travel or what we would find along the way. If we encountered a group like ours while out in the world we would be sure not to be taking their path, though sometimes members of our group would decided that they liked the others’ path better and leave to join them just as some of them would come to join us.

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