Winter BloomThis blue-hearted bloom amid the snow
Sits upon the mountain's side,
And just from casual glance I know
My heart will always here abide.
The wind rips at her fragile petals,
Threatening to tear her limb from limb.
Yet I have a breastplate wrought of metal,
And can shelter her within.
Winter bites and snaps at me,
But it may do whatever it will.
While she is safe in my shield's lee,
I will heed no earthly chill.
She would be little more than a passenger on this voyage, and yet it was the most amazing and exhilarating experience of her life. It was also the most terrified she had felt since falling into her uncle's pond at seven years old, and she tried not to let it show as she walked down the agonisingly long footbridge to the airlock. Even the sheer number of cameras capturing every detail of the moment, right down to the beads of sweat she was trying to keep from emerging from her pores - with little success - was unprecedented. People would be watching reruns of this footage for decades, perhaps even centuries or more, from every angle and in three dimensions, on screens and in holograms all over the world. In fact, she reflected, if all went well they would be watching it on other worlds too before long.
Finally, she reached the airlock and it swung open in front of her. Without hesitation, she crossed the threshold, her boots clankin
VeritasIt was definitely getting wider, which had never happened before. It now covered or rather, negated a patch of sky as wide as Lheyand's thumb held at arm's length. At first it had seemed to move along with the motion of his eyes, as if it were a flaw in his vision; but now it remained stationary, yet somehow always visible. Nobody else was reacting to it as they shuffled past him in the hot, stifling air of the city centre at rush hour. Whether this was because he was imagining it, or because they were simply too blinkered in their own worlds to notice, it was impossible to tell.
He had never been like them, even before the sky started coming apart. He had never been able to shrink into his own world and shut out his surroundings. He had tried, of course at first as a means to fit in, but increasingly in order to dislodge the sense that there was something fundamentally wrong with the world.
He wasn't in the habit of carrying out the bidding of people who held knives to his throat, but this was something of a unique situation. Whoever had accosted him in that alley knew, if nothing else, how to get his attention. The mere mention of Opal, his home, had tightened his stomach and stolen the blood from his face. The thought of settling the old scores was one that had never truly gone away, and now it was being dangled in front of him like a carrot on a stick. And besides, hadn't he been feeling the familiar boredom again, pushing at his concentration and his drive, sapping his energy and driving him more and more often to the bar instead of his bed? Perhaps, even if everything his assailant had said and implied was false, this was the right time for a change anyway. If nothing else, his patients would suffer if he continued as he was doing.
By the time he realised that he had already made the decision, his hand
TUC: Unknowing - Part 1
She smiled down at him from the top of the building, and for a moment he hated her. How could he not, after what he had been put through, unwilling and unknowing? He knew well the arguments used to justify his violation and that of a thousand others like him, his friends and former comrades. But the knowledge that you were there first, that you had been better than everyone else for the majority of a decade, that you helped develop the most revolutionary technology since hyperdrive, could never repair the damage done. So he forgave himself the little pangs of disgust, and the bad taste left in his mouth by the new advertising campaign from ABLE Corp. Sure, the girl was pretty as only computer enhancement could ensure, and the slogan was catchy enough; but nothing could gloss over the fact that the entire enteprise was the child of secrecy and slavery.
Needing a drink to take the edge off of his newly-foul mood, Morg headed to the b
It was the smile that gave him away. Even the greenest recruit on the cosiest core-world assignment knew of General Heston's reputation, and the stories of punishments dealt out for the lightest offences chilled the blood of all who heard them. Those stories were to pale in comparison to the tale of Private Vetch, which was destined to be a guaranteed conversation-stopper around every Unity Navy mess table from Hope IV to Adamant Station.
It began one day in April. Colonel Lupe would later recount in great and embellished detail the circumstances in which Vetch came to be a member of 423rd Gunners, but the facts of the matter were disappointingly mundane. After a few years as a wrench monkey on an Arbiter Fuel Corp Atlas-class freighter, the kid had applied for Unity citizenship and a stint in the Navy. It was a fairly common way to earn points towards citizenship to do a five-year service for the Unity Navy, and there was nothing