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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 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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Hunting Gryphon

  Hunting Gryphon By Patrick S. Baker   The land gryphon leapt from the dark wood, grabbed one of the teenage boys by the head and bit it off with a sickening wet snap of its beak. The two other boys screamed and ran. Four older men, guarding the women and children and all armed with muskets turned to the noise. Another gryphon broke from cover and made for the large group. Two of the men fired; both inch-wide lead balls struck the creature in its feathered chest. The monster fell back, wounded, but not dead. The whole mass...

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