Pelland, Jennifer: “Mercytanks”


by Jennifer Pelland

Tanjel stood on a small metal square in open space, squinting to see if the ship was in sight yet. With her own eyes, she would have been able to zoom the view, but this humanblank body she had to wear was woefully underequipped. Beside her, MackMACK shifted his weight from one foot to the other and grumbled about the oppressiveness of feet.

She tugged at the cuffs of her old-fashioned jacket with fingers that felt too short, and knew she was stalling. With an anticipatory wince, she opened up her mind to the streams.

*Ship decelerating.* / Ping Tanjel? It Noriko. You noshow last night at Cooley wrap. You K? / “And in other news, three more relativity ships are due to be intercepted this week alone, which will bring the total up to one hundred ninety seven. HumaniCo is, as usual, not releasing any details, but promises a spectacular show once the travelers are settled.” / MaPa’s up my rack again, Tanj. You lucky nono grow like that back when. / HumaniCo-fascism can’ keep past from us! WePe demand entertainment! Right right! Rally now! / Ping Tanj? Z’you on private feed? Body look buckysilly. / *Intercept in 230 seconds.*

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Ronald, Margaret: “Funeral Games”

Funeral Games

by Margaret Ronald

The visiting team gained possession of the ball, and the crowd exploded into bloody violence.

“Can we back up and see that again?” Min asked, scooting forward in her seat. The Protectorate official nodded and tracked the recording back. Again the ball went skittering over the field, and again the crowd surged to its feet, not celebrating but rioting, spilling onto the field in an ugly mass.

Not wanting to look squeamish, Min kept watching as the riot made its way closer to the recording eye. It was only after a spatter of blood hit the lens that Grigori, the intelligence officer, reached over and switched it off. Min cleared her throat. “This is what went out, right?”

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Stanger, Vaughan: “Family Tree”

Family Tree

by Vaughan Stanger

Sarah Henderson groaned as yet another round of applause echoed around
the courtyard. Any moment now she would have to respond to Principal Devlin’s
valediction, a prospect that made her bowels squirm like a snake prodded
with a stick. A quarter-century of teaching history to disinterested students
at Huntsville High had been a breeze in comparison, even this morning when
she struggled to keep her emotions in check.

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