TUC: TempleThe temple stealthily insinuated itself into his perception as he approached out of the thick woodland. First was the smell of incense, seeming to grow out of the resinous scent of the trees which had accompanied him every step of the way from the landing site. It was gradually joined by the music, which also seemed to rise from the gentle cadence of nature: the wind sashaying lazily through the trees; the creatures calling to each other in voices of every pitch; the streams providing a modest, rippling counterpoint. Without the barely-perceptible addition of human voices to this humble symphony, it would take someone with highly-attuned hearing or a lifetime of experiences in that temple to be able to distinguish the monks' instrumentation woven carefully between the natural melodies. He happened to have both.
Finally, he saw the temple itself standing on an outcrop from a cliff rising out of the surrounding forest. Most of it had
TUC: EncounterThe task force dropped out of hyperspace and all the pilots checked their instruments to ensure that the formation was steady. Soldiers who, only a few short weeks ago, would not have blinked before engaging each other in deadly dogfights now flew side by side in unison. It was too much to ask that they fully trust one another given the history of the corporate militias, but for the time being they had a common purpose.
Arbo shifted uncomfortably in his seat; he felt weak and powerless, despite sitting in the commander's seat of the most powerful ship in the fleet. He had been a fighter pilot for as long as he could remember, and he missed the feeling of being so closely connected with his craft that his slightest move would effect its own. It felt unnatural for him to be issuing orders to get things done rather than simply thinking them. He was not the only one who felt uncomfortable; the ship's erstwhile commander, Kerick, sat in
TUC: The Battle of Giants IIIThey say curiosity killed the cat. I've never let that stop me, because as adages go it's pretty discriminating: just because it killed the cat, doesn't mean it's going to kill me. After all, the cat wasn't flying an enormous chunk of metal under the protection of one of the most powerful corporations in the galaxy, was it? Not to the best of my knowledge.
It was in the later days of the ninety-eighth year of Unity; we'd just completed a fuel delivery to New Jørvik and my crew and I were preparing the ship for the jump to hyperspeed when the scanner steadily began to fill with contacts, all emerging from the atmosphere of New Jørvik. I began to worry that I'd forgotten to fill in the right forms before leaving the fuel depot, but the Unity ships ignored us and began to take up formation a short distance away. It must have been the entire New Jørvik fleet there: ten angels, the Unity heavy fighter of which you usually wouldn't s
TUC: The Battle of Giants IICommander Pelk strode through the corridors of the New Jørvik militia base, aware that, though there wasn't much time, things were progressing according to schedule. He was due to give an emergency briefing in two minutes, for which he had been preparing for the better part of two months. Everything had to be perfectly timed. Before talking to the rank and file, however, he had this one last errand to run; one last loose end to trim.
The office of his second-in-command, Lieutenant Farna, was only a few doors down from the briefing room, and he let himself in, closing the door behind him. Farna rose from his seat to greet his commander, but sat again abruptly as Pelk's bullets cut into his brain. The commander turned and left the room, stowing his pistol in the holster at his hip. He didn't allow himself to feel remorse at killing a good man. Today was not the day. Today was the day when everyth
TUC: The Battle of GiantsIt was the ninety-eighth year of Unity, and a lifetime since the threat of alien invasion had banded humanity together in defiance of a common enemy. For Gerad, it was the stuff of stories and legends, told by folk well into their dotage when they tired of everything but conversation. The worst battle fought in his own living memory had been just two years ago on New Jutland, the principal settled planet in a system neighbouring his. Rebels had somehow managed to construct a small but effective fleet on a distant moon in the system, and had assaulted the Unity forces stationed on the planet. They had failed, of course, but the toll had been heavy indeed.
Now there were reports of a fresh rebellion on a much larger scale, starting in the nearby systems Galapagos and Caledonia. The top military ranks seemed to think it was likely that the rebel forces' next move would be to converge on his own system of New Jørvik, and he had aw
JusticeIt was sundown when the gang finally left the town of Made smouldering behind them. The laughter, which a few short minutes ago had chilled the cores of a dozen working girls at Rosie's Palace and made children quiver in their hiding places, echoed between the hills, settling into silence with the clouds of dust thrown up by their machines.
Their leader rode out in front atop a contraption that belched black smoke into the air with every revolution of the engine, mingling with the dust thrown up by thick wheels. The other members of the gang spread out in some vague semblance of a formation behind him, each aboard their own two-wheeled device, avoiding the blinding, choking trails left by their fellows. They rode in this fashion for an hour or more until the leader waved his arm at some high ground off to their right. As a unit, they swerved and powered toward the shelter of a bluff that served as their campsite while they were in the area.
ParadiseDavy sat in the porch of his family's home and watched the sun set over Deadbolt. Even with his optical shades in place, his receptors were almost overwhelmed by the nigh-infinite brightness, but he enjoyed the sight too much to stop. Or he had done, anyway, back when he had known pleasure in anything. Now he looked more out of habit.
His joints creaked in their accustomed fashion as he levered himself to his feet, and he slowly wandered back inside. His bag was packed and waiting for him on the table, and he felt the now-familiar remorse as he surveyed the empty house that had once been so full of noise and life. What was worse than this absence, though, was the knowledge that it would never come back. He sighed as he always did when thinking such thoughts, and lowered himself to his chair to shut down overnight.
Awoken by his light receptors detecting the dawn, he stretched out his limbs and felt the power flow back th