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CAPTAIN BOGEY OF CANINE COMMAND

CAPTAIN BOGEY OF CANINE COMMAND THE BALL OF YARN INCIDENT By Rory Steves   “According to reports from our INTEL department, the Feline Federation have been developing an additional new weapons system.” Admiral Fido paused to scratch behind his ear. Lieutenant Bogey wondered at that; there couldn’t possibly be any fleas aboard Station Frisbee. Bogey paid close attention as the admiral continued. “Most officers still shudder at the horrific attack by the Felines against Station Knotted Rope. The station was totally destroyed by the bombardment it received from six Feline Battleships equipped with the new Scratching Post cannons. And we had thought nothing could be worse than the Hairball Cannons the Felines have used for so long. It was a terrible defeat for us.” Bogey knew the horror of that attack still produced nightmares among his crew. They had managed, barely, to pull two damaged cruisers away from the station before it blew. While he waited, he wondered why he, a mere lieutenant, was at the admiral’s briefing. His ship wouldn’t be considered dangerous even by kittens. A quick ear scratch and the admiral continued. “The Felines’ latest weapon is called the Screech. Good news; reports indicate they only have one working prototype.” A few hopeful barks and tail wags followed the remark. “Bad news; the prototype has been installed on the Feline command ship Ball of Yarn.” Frustrated...

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The Hunt

The Hunt By Julius Vagdal     I watch the bead of sweat as it rolls down the face of the lean merchant sitting across the table. It tracks its way over the edge of his jaw, and down his neck only to disappear under the collar of his stained tunic. I’m only half listening to Reginald DeShong as he blathers on and on in a low voice. Clients can sometimes go on about the worthiness of their commission, as if it weren’t the weight and the purity of their coin that made all the difference. That is the one undeniable truth about what I do. Now that the sun is below the rooftops, the air is cooling nicely. The city is beginning to slow around us, the individual people taking more time as they move through the press on their way home. I enjoy the gentle breeze as it ruffles the awning overhead. I take another sip of the strong black coffee, made in the dessert fashion just the way I like it. I savor the subtle hints of chocolate and caramel across my tongue. Warmth seeps through the tiny porcelain cup into my hand. Although the streets are still well traveled, the coffee shop’s evening rush has not yet started. For the moment we are the only ones sitting on the shop’s veranda. More out of habit...

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If the Shoe Fits

If the Shoe Fits By John C. Tremblay   Crystal Meadows was frills deep in a bog of hungry mud. Had she willingly departed from Oldport to ride with the Lord whose disposition was as sour as his stench, she would’ve swallowed her pride and sent for help. But since she’d been kidnapped, all she could do was pray to Annūté she escaped—without shaming the guild in the process. “It’s already the tenth of Summersend, and my son is still wavering,” Lord John Thomas Lousen II growled, “You must speak with him; make him see the error of his ways.” Crystal pretended she was dealing with a rational patron. “Your Lordship, we have a number of mothers better suited for such tasks. As I tried to explain before you…” Took? Forced? Threatened? No, he was combative enough. “… enlisted my services; I’m only an apprentice.” Lord Lousen’s nostrils flared and his pungent odor filled the rumbling coach. He reached into an ermine trimmed bag. Crystal flinched, expecting a dagger; he drew out instead a thin piece of willow wood. He handed it to her and said, “You’ve got the tools now, so you have no excuses. As soon as we arrive at my manor house, I expect you to get to work.” Crystal feigned a smile and tried to stave off panic. All she knew how to do with...

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Kitchen Life for the Greater Good

Kitchen Life for the Greater Good By Opal Edgar   Young Lord Freeland was repugnant and even he knew it. Why he bothered us with toothpicks was beyond everyone. I did have a strong hunch that it was only so he could see us scurry about, panicked and scared, as we had no such thing—but hey, that was only a hunch. “Oof!” cried Almir, the second kitchen-hand and my friend, inexplicably winded. “What the . . .” I started. Then I turned round, because every face stared in terror at something in the region of my left shoulder. The...

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Watchers

Watchers by Christopher Buecheler   Stef sighed, adjusted the feeding tube at her side, glanced over at him with her big, grey-green eyes and asked, “Can they cure it?” “It’s not going well,” he replied, and she rolled those lovely eyes at him, looking back out the port window. “Well, no kidding. What does that mean?” “It mutates faster than anything we’ve ever seen. By the time the body even figures out how to attack it, it’s changed.” Stef made a noise: psssshhh, and rested her forehead against her hand. “It’s almost worse that it didn’t come from us.” “What do you mean?” “Like, from Earth. We managed to avoid all that stuff down there, disease and global warming and war, for what? So some rock could crash-land in a field somewhere … bam. That’s it?” “That’s it.” Stef shook her head. “Jesus Christ.” “Lots of people calling for Him, down there,” he told her. “I don’t think He’s going to show.” Stef looked up at him again, eyelids tinted red at their edges. Her cheeks were mottled pink, her brow pinched, her whole face twisted. Dark brown curls of hair were plastered against her forehead; others stuck out at odd angles from around her headset. He thought about the last time they had been naked together, seventeen days ago, making love standing up in the steam and heat...

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