“Doctor, I’m…” The intern hesitated, looking down. “I’m not really sure what I’m looking at. The results in this sequence don’t make…sense.”
Adjusting her glasses, the doctor leaned in to look at the screen. A series of numbers met her eyes, dashed lines and spectra to show the results from the centrifuge and sequencer.
A single word was her only response. Then another intern, this one holding a datapad, stepped forward.
“Doctor, I have an idea that could explain this.”
The doctor nodded and gave that all too familiar twitch of two fingers. They all knew what that meant. Don’t dither, just speak.
“If you overlay the spectra on the known quasars, you get a map. I think it points to our home world.”
That made the whole room go quiet. For a long moment, the doctor just stared at the map projected from the data pad. Then she took a breath.
“This sample is pure, no genetic alterations or hybridization… I hate to say it, but I think you may have found the road back to Earth.”
Since the day of my coronation, I have done everything for my people. I gave them my best years and my heart. And still, here I am with the blade ahead of me and the past behind.
Since the day of the coronation, we have starved and cried in the streets. We gave the Crown our best years and our working days. And still, here we are with darkness ahead and graves behind.
Since the day of the coronation, the shadows have watched and waited. Let them give their hearts and their minds. Still, the shadows will be there waiting for the final stroke of the knife to fall so they may take all that’s left behind.
“Breccan, are you even listening to me?”
He wasn’t, of course. His younger half-sister followed after him with a frown on her expressive face. She was just a bit shorter than him with dark red hair she kept tied back in a braid.
“Genovefa, I heard you the first time you said you don’t trust her. And I said she’s not a threat. She’s lost, hurt, and starving. Do you really think I can turn her away? Is that hospitality?”
“One of these days, hospitality is going to get you killed, Brec.”
“I don’t think so.”
When they got back to the house, the woman they’d been discussing was sitting on the floor with her red cloak wrapped around her shoulders. She looked up, fear in her eyes but her jaw clenched with determination. Breccan just smiled and spoke in his accented Latin.
“I brought dinner. Are you hungry?”
She left the seat empty on purpose as she drove into the desert. The lore was clear: an empty seat was an invitation. She meant it. The horizon seemed rippled and bend as she drove. How long did it take? How long until something heard the call, saw her invitation, and came to join her? She glanced into the rearview mirror, not really expecting to see anything but needing to look none the less. Then she heard the scratching. It raced along the outside of the car and seemed to scramble through the closed door. She could hear it rustling around, settling itself on the empty seat. With an expression of unholy glee, she drove back out of the desert.
With the car parked on the street and the keys dropped in her Ex’s mailbox for him to find, she strode off to catch the bus. Pausing for just a moment, to look back, she wished his new spirit houseguest the best of luck.
Whenever a kingdom needs a hero, it seems like they always find a farm boy with hopes in his eyes and dreams in his head. We’re fresh out of those. Every last one recruited up into a military school at the age of 6 and taught to be soldiers loyal only to my uncle. We need a hero, but it won’t be one of them. So, it will have to be me.
But it was one thing to decide all of that standing in front of my mirror and entirely something else to stand in the hall and wait for a chance to strike. Watch as he led my father’s kingdom further and further into ruin. Watch as he slaughtered those who might still be loyal to my father. I knew perfectly well that the only reason I was still alive was because he didn’t believe a girl-child would have what it took to stop him in any meaningful way. That, and I was his means of legitimizing his rule. See, he could say, see how I protect my niece? See how I keep her safe from those who killed her family? And then he never once says that he was the one.
So here I stand with a hand on his wine bottle and a packet of herbs up my sleeve. He has no heir save me. No true friends. And he has created an army that will serve loyally. Adding the poison to his drink, I smile. I will rebuild my father’s kingdom but then I’ll have to find something to do with my new army. A slow smile crosses my face. I’m sure I can find a use for them.
Far-flung in space and time
holding on to nothing
holding back everyone
we know nothing of what we do
Flashes of light bursting in colors
explosions of nothing
watching the gates against the darkness
refusing to accept…
alone but surrounded
enemies on all fronts
yet all’s quiet on every front
only when they come will we know
but they are not…
spinning whirling never stopping
alone and hopeless
surrounded and helpless
the cosmic war shall never end
darting here, darting there
flying through the starry void
weapons cocked, ready to fire
upon our enemies
we’ve never seen them
but we know
we must kill them all
friends or foes
they come to us with arms out wide
to embrace their possible new allies
but we fire into the crowd
with our lasers, mow them down
they sent messages we couldn’t read
and greeted us with only friendship
but no more is there an alien race
for we have decimated them, one and all
they were different
and different is bad
so none are left by our hands
and again we float alone in space