Ferst grimaced, gritting his teeth as he lifted his pint glass to his lips. He really didn’t want to waste any more energy on thinking; he’d had enough of that for today. All he wanted to think about was the rapidly dropping level of liquid in the glass.
But try as he might, he couldn’t totally block out the grating, strangely high-pitched voice of the guy in the booth next door.
“…and it took us at least ten years, maybe longer – we lost some of the records, damp, you know – but we’ve finally got the proper translation! This one makes sure that only the small holes open, and we retain full control…”
Maybe if he got drunk fast enough, Ferst would lose focus in his ears, his hearing growing blurry like his vision tended to do. He focused on gulping down the last of his pint, but even the satisfying thwack of the glass hitting the scarred tabletop wasn’t enough to fully block out the whining voice. Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 9.1, here.
Read it from the beginning, starting here.
Axiom 9: Don’t lose hope.
The first difference that hit me, after I stepped through the door at the top of the stairs, was the silence.
Of course, this might have been the first thing that I noticed because, despite all my survival instincts screaming at me to keep my eyes open, those lids were firmly shut as I passed through. I’m not sure why – maybe I thought that, if I didn’t look at any of the eldritch horrors on the other side, they wouldn’t be able to hurt me.
But after a couple seconds of listening to silence, I finally opened my eyes.
Books. My first impression came as a single word. Books, millions upon millions of books. Continue reading
I picked up the cheap-looking pair of glasses from the bar’s countertop, turning them over in my hands. “And what are they, again?” I asked.
“Beer goggles!” replied Dave, standing behind the bar and beaming back at me. “Great idea, see? And they’ve got the bar name on the side, so we can hand them out as a promotion!”
“Well, they do have the name, I guess,” I admitted, trying not to hurt the guy’s feelings. “But they also don’t say ‘beer goggles’ on them, Dave.”
“Yeah, they do! I got it printed on the other side. One side says ‘Dave’s bar’, and the other one says ‘genuine beer goggles’! Isn’t it clever?”
I turned the pair of glasses around, holding them out to him. “Bear goggles, Dave.” Continue reading
“To this day, there’s still arguments about how they chose their landing site. I mean, clearly, we can throw out the whole mumbo-jumbo schtick about the aliens listening in on our television broadcasts. If they’d been listening, they would’ve just come crashing down in the middle of Times Square.”
“Hell, if they did that, it’d probably take hours before anyone even noticed them. Someone would toss spare change at their spaceship. Now that would be a hell of a welcome to Earth.”
“Whole thing’s immaterial, now. They chose where they did, and now we all have to deal with the consequences.” Continue reading
Continued from Part III, here.
Start from the beginning here.
A second after Walter Raleigh announced his intentions to rescue Francis Drake from Luna, whatever spell had held the room silent came to an end. Chaos erupted, as every single voice in the large chamber began offering its opinion, loudly proclaiming the challenges, the nonsense, the reason why a rescue mission should be an extremely low priority.
“When on the battlefield, we cannot think about the individual soldiers!” bellowed a large gentleman on Watson’s right, decked out in full military livery and with dozens of medals pinned to his very broad chest. His oversized white mustachios flapped with each exhalation, like streamers in the wind. “We must think tactically!” Continue reading
Start from the beginning.
Continued from Part II, here.
Before long, more Queen’s Guards came pouring into the Dauntless, their red uniforms and gleaming brass buttons at odds with their stern countenances. They quickly found Tycho Brahe, although their first attempt to approach was met by a stern glare from Watson.
“Keep back!” he commanded, his respect for authority momentarily buried beneath the physician’s natural protectiveness. “He’s severely injured and unconscious, and doesn’t need you lot crowding around him!”
The harsh tone of his voice made the men pause. They didn’t back down, but instead remained in a standoff as they looked back at Watson, perhaps waiting for some order to come through from a superior.
Less than a minute later, that superior officer arrived, strolling in casually on light feet and looking around like he’d entered a rather dusty and unclean antique shop. Short, his head barely reaching Watson’s shoulders, he still carried an unmistakable air of command.
He was, to be frank, not at all what Watson had expected. Continue reading
Part I can be found here.
No one knew which of the three explorers might emerge first, and indeed, several clubs of debatable repute set up private wagers on the topic. So when a figure appeared in the entrance to the Dauntless, all eyes (and telescopes on roofs) trained their gazes upon him.
The man turned out to be Walter Raleigh, eliciting a groan of disappointment from many; given as how Tycho Brahe funded the expedition, a good number of bettors had expected him to step out first, claiming the lion’s share of glory.
As Raleigh stumbled down the ramp, however, murmurs broke out among the assembled crowds. The man didn’t carry himself with the confidence and assuredness of a triumphant explorer. He looked haggard, his eyes wide and darting back and forth.
“Send for aid!” he shouted out, his voice ringing out over the discomforted crowd. “Brahe is hurt!” Continue reading
The phrase bounced around the halls like a child’s rubber ball, jumping from lips to lips. It hid in the presence of work, but emerged from the corners, creeping out like a playful cat.
For weeks, the topic dominated all idle conversation, speculations flying wildly back and forth. Just a month, half a month, a week, less, until the return of the gallant explorers and their tales of what lay beyond!
Astronomy, that noble pursuit of staring up into the night sky, exploded in popularity. Enterprising street vendors hawked cheap telescopes, selling out their stock in minutes. At night, the roofs were covered with people, all of them staring up into the twinkling blackness and searching for that bright spot of Luna, our sister planet, rushing back to greet us. Continue reading
Link to Part I.
Link to Part II.
This time, Elizabeth must have known that I was chasing her. Her trail got harder to follow; she even left Goldy behind at one point in a stable, selling her off to some no-good breeder that looked at her like a piece of damn meat.
Needless to say, I got my horse back.
But I kept on tracing her. Elizabeth. I couldn’t get her out of my head, couldn’t shake that tug of her. Every time I thought about giving up the chase, I just sensed her out there, and knew, somehow, she needed my help.
Damn woman led me all the way to Boston before I found her. Continue reading
Part I is here.
Took me two months to track her down. Would’ve gone faster, if she hadn’t stolen my damn horse.
Of course, that was what got her in the end. Horses are worth their weight in plat, these days. Hell, more than that. I’d gladly trade a king’s ransom in plat for another Goldy, although I wouldn’t mind if my next steed didn’t have quite the attitude problem. And maybe a little more loyalty, too.
But when I finally hauled my ass into the next little collection of broken-down shacks that someone decided to call a town, I asked around, and sure enough, they’d seen my horse. Continue reading