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Happy Birthday

  Happy Birthday By Thomas J. Lauser   Jareth stepped off his motorcycle and drew both his handguns. A pair of Siren-22’s. Focused energy pistols gifted to only the best Reavers from the Order of Ten. The beast he had been trailing all day was near. He could feel it. Dead, decaying trees stretched for miles like soldiers in an emaciated, war-weary army. He remembered a time when nature did not look so dilapidated. Like it had been abandoned by every deity civilization ever created. But that was before mankind’s reckoning. Before the Arrogant Invitation. The macabre ritual that...

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Darkness upon the Deep

  Darkness upon the Deep by Hristo Goshev (6782 Words)   Nikolai is gone. I still can’t come to terms with this, even though the honorary list of names on the hangar wall is a constant reminder of the stark reality. My dearest friend, my loyal brother in arms, the most skilled pilot and the noblest person I’ve ever known—dead, sacrificed upon the altar of this unfathomable abyss in which we’ve now been drifting for more than two solar days. In that horrific instant when his lone Valkyrie plunged into the swarm of red-and-black insects, buying us a few...

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Postwar

  Postwar by Daniel Ross Goodman   Ron hadn’t seen his former comrades in over seven years, and he wasn’t much looking forward to it. Since the last Arab-Israeli war, the Golan War of 2047, he had avoided all contact with his former comrades, and even though peace had finally come in 2056, he had tried not to think about the war at all. His friend Jeremy had invited him to a party at his Tel Aviv condo to celebrate last year’s historic peace agreement, and Ron had grudgingly agreed to come, but only for Jeremy’s sake. It was...

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The Price of Abolition

  The Price of Abolition By Thomas J. Lauser   After Alistair Blackwood released his slaves, the Expansionist party, who held the majority in the Imperial Council of Twenty Three, declared him a traitor. In a statement penned by Alistair’s younger brother Letherious, they accused the abolitionist of violating customs sacred to both the Empire and their God-Hero, The Ascendant. A few hours later, the Restitution party, their minority rivals, published a declaration of their own. They too condemned Alistair’s actions, but stopped short of labeling him an enemy to the Empire. Meanwhile, Emperor Ferdinand III remained oddly mum,...

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Safe Refuge

  Safe Refuge By Teel James Glenn   The tavern was called The Refuge and was almost empty, save for the bartender, Manda, five paying customers and a lone woman sitting at the bar muttering to herself while a dejected, mandolin player sang an old ballad. Kovar priest Erique Shoutte, Arinna Cabal, and Yuzen entered and took seats at the back of the room. Arinna sat with her back to the rear door and leaned back so her chair was balanced on two legs. Yuzen sat with her hand draped with relaxed familiarity on the little swordswoman’s arm. She...

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