Tag Archives: anthology

Beach Nights – Countdown to Launch

For those of you within driving distance of Rehoboth Beach, DE next Sunday, November 13, consider stopping by Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue, just two blocks up from the boardwalk. Between 2-4PM, Cat & Mouse Press will be launching their fourth annual Rehoboth Beach short story anthology, BEACH NIGHTS.

In Beach Nights, readers will encounter a ghostly WWII tower (Phil says: Hey, that’s my story!) and a couple with an unusual annual tradition; a girl who finds her voice at a jazz club and a boy who learns the snow cone king has a secret; an old lady who is inspired to get a tattoo, and a despondent man who is resurrected through the tango.

Beach Nights opens with a funny and romantic story involving a high school prom, and continues through tales that involve a mermaid’s moon, a “Vampire Surf Club,” senior disco queens, a seemingly haunted Funland ride, a murder at a Rehoboth hotel, a moonlit sea turtle rescue, and a kid who sneaks into a James Brown concert and meets the man himself.

Many of the authors will be in attendance to sign copies of the book, as well as the editor and judges. Refreshments will be served, and prizes will be given away!

Beach Nights

 

The View From On High: The WWII Towers of Delaware

 

Beach NightsIn case you missed my other five or six posts about the Rehoboth Beach Reads short story contest, my paranormal tale, “Tower 16” took second place and will be published in the anthology, Beach Nights, coming in November from Cat and Mouse Press.

In fact, the book launch is scheduled for November 13, 2-4PM, at Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue.

My story focuses on lonely WWII veteran and Rehoboth Beach resident Reggie Prell and his doting granddaughter, Hannah, who is visiting him during summer vacation with her parents. In between regaling Hannah with stories of his army career, Reggie is confronted by the ghosts of his brothers-in-arms, all of whom have passed away over the years leaving Reggie the lone surviving member of his battery. Realizing that his end is near, Reggie reveals to Hannah the legend of Tower 16—which only materializes to claim the souls of those who served in the fire control towers along Delaware’s coast. Will Tower 16 come for Reggie next?

I was told by the editor of the anthology that my story actually made one of the judges cry. I know it certainly moved me as I wrote it.

So What Is This Tower You Keep Referring To?

I’ve been fascinated by the WWII fire control towers along Delaware’s coast for years and always wanted to write a story about them, but it was not until the Beach Nights contest was announced that an idea finally came to me.

After all, tell a paranormal fiction writer that you’re looking for stories that take place at night and whaddaya expect to get?

My connection to Rehoboth Beach seems to sDelaware Beaches Plaquestrengthen each year. I was married there, and as I write this, I am back in town with my wife as we celebrate our anniversary.

For the past four summers, she and I have rented a house for a week every July with friends, and we take the occasional day trip here as our schedules permit.

When at all possible, I also try to include a visit to Tower 7 in Cape Henlopen. It is the only tower open to the public at present, but there is a growing movement to restore and open some of the others.

This past July, I had the pleasure of visiting Tower 3 near Dewey Beach, which I’d spotted earlier in the day during a parasailing excursion.

 

Of course, trips to the beach wouldn’t be complete wiTower T-Shirt and Plaquesthout stimulating the local economy. This time, I finally bought a few tower-themed goodies from the local shops, including a t-shirt and two wooden plaques as pictured here.

Below are several pictures taken not only of the tower in Cape Henlopen, but images of the ocean, the bay, and surrounding park taken by me  from the very top of the tower.

 

The Purpose of the TowersFire Control Tower2_Long

The Fire Control Towers were constructed by the US Army in the early days of WWII to protect the Delaware Bay from potential incursion by German vessels.

There were 11 total concrete towers built between Cape Henlopen and Bethany Beach. Across the bay in New Jersey, two were built in Cape May and still exist, while the pair in Wildwood have been demolished.

Further north in Delaware, five metal towers were raised in Fort Saulsbury, but only one remains at Big Stone Beach as shown below. Photo credit: http://www.fortsaulsburyde.com

Fort Saulsbury Tower

The towers were mostly constructed in pairs in order to triangulate the position of enemy ships. The information would then be transmitted back to the gun crews.

Cape Henlopen was also the location of Fort Miles army base. Today, the base remains as a tourist attraction with many of the large caliber guns on display alongside the buildings as shown below.

Fort Miles Mobile Gun2 Fort Miles Rail Gun Fort Miles Massive Gun Fort Miles from Tower

Below: From the top of Tower 7, views of Delaware Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and Tower 12 in Cape Henlopen State Park.

Ocean from Henlopen Tower3 Ocean from Henlopen Tower2
Fire Control TowerCape May Ferry

Below: Tower 7 in Cape Henlopen State Park on a perfect summer day.

Fire Control Tower 7

References:

Fort Saulsbury, DE website

Fort Miles, DE website

 

Shore Leave 38 Convention Recap!

My trek to Shore Leave last weekend was much different from any previous year in that I arrived at the con directly from a marvelous week’s vacation in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Clear skies and sparse traffic made driving through the bucolic town of Denton, MD simply serene.

For a fisherman like me, traversing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was indeed a religious experience. Looking right and left, the view was blue straight to the horizons. Gorgeous.

Then I reached the 695 Beltway right at the beginning of rush hour. Let the road rage begin! Ugh.  Nevertheless, I finally reached the Hunt Valley Wyndham Grand, checked-in, registered for the con, unloaded my car in the blistering heat, took a shower, and missed my 5PM discussion panel.

After dinner at Noodles & Company with friends Sharon and Cyndi Van Blarcom, Lance Woods, and Renfield, we met up with fellow scribe and Firebringer Press publisher, Steven H. Wilson, with whom I had spent the aforementioned week in Rehoboth Beach along with his family and several friends (click here to see vacation pics!).

Friday night at 10PM brought the traditional Meet the Pros book fair where all of the con’s writer guests gathered to sell and sign books. It also celebrated the release of two new books for Firebringer Press–Steven H. Wilson’s fourth novel, Sacrifice Play: A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles, and Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, the second installment in our speculative fiction anthology series. Seven of nine (pardon the obvious pun) anthology writers were on hand to sign copies including Daniel Patrick “Renfield” Corcoran, Michael Critzer, Susanna Reilly, Stuart Roth, Steven H. Wilson, Lance Woods, and myself. The night was so busy that it’s all a blur to me now and I did not have the time to take too many pics…

Special thanks to Ethan Wilson, Christian Wilson, Jessica Headlee, Jill Mardesich, Tim Marron, and Cheyenne-Autumn Christine Reilly for volunteering to shlep boxes of books from Steve’s car to Meet the Pros and then from there to my hotel room afterward!

Crazy 8 Press at Meet the Pros Firebringer Press at Meet the Pros Renfield at Meet the Pros Lance and Steve at Meet the Pros Susanna at Meet the Pros Michael Critzer and Phil Giunta Peter, Bob, Michael, at Meet the Pros

Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity

Saturday and Sunday brought about a myriad of discussion panels on writing and publishing. My panel schedule was lighter than usual this year. On Saturday morning, I was a panelist on “The Whole Package” with Richard White, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, Mike McPhail, and Jim Johnson. We discussed all that goes into quality editing, layout, and cover art.

Afterwards, I made my way down to the lower lobby to meet actors Michael Forest and Barbara Bouchet who each guest-starred on episodes of classic Star Trek.  They were both very friendly and I picked up an autographed photo from each of them.

While there, I was stopped by an attendee and asked to sign a Shore Leave trading card with my picture! I was honored, because after all, as Lucy Van Pelt said in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas Special, “How can you say someone is great who’s never had his picture on bubblegum cards?”

Phil on Trading Card

I then sat in on the Crazy 8 Press panel as several of the authors, including Peter David, Russ Colchamiro, and Michael Jan Friedman read excerpts from their latest books.

Crazy 8 Press-1 Crazy 8 Press-2

At 4PM, I had the pleasure of sitting in on John Noble’s talk in the ballroom. Mr. Noble is known for such shows and films as Fringe, Elementary, Lord of the Rings, and much more. He is an eloquent and engaging speaker.

John NobleJohn NobleJohn Noble

The “Firebringer Press Presents” panel occurred at what has become its traditional timeslot, 5PM. Of course, this is opposite the con’s official autograph lines for the celebrities and the dinner hour which often results in the panelists outnumbering the audience.  Nevertheless, it was a fun and lively discussion about current and future projects as well as our brand new aforementioned anthology, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

Phil at Firebringer Panel Stu and Sue at Firebringer Panel

Steve at Firebringer Panel

After the panel, a few of the anthology writers gathered in my room for a book signing party, including Steven H. Wilson, Stuart Roth, and Lance Woods.  Once all of the Kickstarter books were signed, it was time to gather with friends for a delightful dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

Back at the hotel, it was another round of book signing with Susanna Reilly. We chatted for a few hours with Stuart and his wife, Maria, before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning saw me finally participating in Shore Leave’s Writers Breakfast in the Cinnamon Tree restaurant. Every year since becoming a writer guest, I committed to attending and every year I failed to do so. I sat with Stuart Roth and Shore Leave Co-Con Chair, Dr. Inge Heyer. Inge is a longtime friend who has been involved with Shore Leave as a magnificent writer liaison for many years.

By 11AM, I was in the autograph line for John Noble and Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica, Castle, Big Bang Theory). The lines moved quickly and both gentlemen were wonderful to meet and chat with.  Afterward, I had about an hour to relax in the comfy chairs that line the hallway near the elevators. I was joined there by veteran writer Aaron Rosenberg. We chatted for about 30 minutes about writing, vacations, and life in general before it was time for my final panel of the con.

Shore Leave 38 Autographs

At 1PM, I joined Joshua Palmatier, Mike McPhail, and Michael Jan Friedman for “Building an Anthology”.  We had no official moderator, but questions from our audience members guided the discussion, much of which was spent on the topic of how to use Kickstarter to fund anthologies.

Near the end of my day, I once again crossed paths with artist Todd Brugmans who created the artwork for several Farpoint program books as well as Heroic Park, the debut novel of Lance Woods. For Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary, Todd was commissioned to create cover art not only for Farpoint’s program book, but for Balticon and Shore Leave’s as well. Combined, the images create a triptych and I happened to have all three with me for Todd to autograph!

Farpoint, Balticon, and Shore Leave program books

Alas, it was then time for me to say my goodbyes to every friend I could find in my final patrol of the hotel before beginning my voyage home.  All told, it was yet another enjoyable, albeit frenetic, Shore Leave filled the typical cast of colorful characters.

Phil with Crazy 8 PressTrek and Roll!Orion Slave Girl Science Officer Saavik Rock on and Prosper  Klaatu Judge Q

Mon CalamariJoker with Bomb

Jill Mardesich             Jessica Headlee Cobra CommanderBorg

R2 Unit-2R2 Unit-1

 

 

Time Shadows: A Doctor Who Anthology for Charity

Congratulations to longtime writer pal, Stuart Roth, who has a story in the upcoming Doctor Who anthology, Time Shadows by Pseudoscope Publishing. Stuart has also contributed to both volumes of the Middle of Eternity anthologies that I created and edited for Firebringer Press.

Time Shadows Cover
Doctor Who anthology
Time Shadows is a new, unofficial, unauthorized Doctor Who short-story anthology for charity from Pseudoscope Publishing. All sales proceeds will be donated to the Enable Community Foundation.
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Click here to read more about Time Shadows on the publisher’s blog!
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Synopsis
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“A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition’s night, an inspiration and a prophecy.”
— Robert G. Ingersoll, “Voltaire”
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Tipped off by a mysterious raven man, the Twelfth Doctor and Clara travel to Refuge, home of the last vestiges of life near the end of the universe. There, they discover an ancient, powerful Time Lord relic. No sooner does it activate, than new thoughts, new memories form in the Doctor’s mind: new adventures of all his past selves.
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Someone or something is tampering with time, changing the destination of the TARDIS, and altering the Doctor’s past. He and Clara must travel into danger, into darkness to set things right.
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Edited by Matt Grady with Samuel Gibb. Foreword by Gary Russell.
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Featuring stories by Violet Addison, John Anderson, David Black, Andrew Blair, Simon Blake, Christopher Colley, John Davies, Abel Diaz, R.P. Fox, Stephen Hatcher, Chris Heffernan, Ian Howden, Pete Kempshall, J.R. Loflin, Kevin Mason, Roger McCoy, David McLain, Christopher Olsen, John Peel, Stuart Roth, Dale Smith, David N. Smith, and Nick Walters.
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About the Enable Community Foundation
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The Enable Community Foundation advances and extends e-NABLE, a fast-growing global network of digital humanitarians using technology to design, fabricate, and disseminate free prosthetic-like hands and arms to those who need them.
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Thank you for your support! Allons-y!
Time Shadows Full Cover

“Working the System” by Phil Giunta

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise nearly $1,100! However, we have only 14 days left to raise  the remaining $1,400 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

For now, I’m excited to offer you our second story sample. “Working the System” is a science fiction tale set in the same Phil Giuntauniverse as “Water to Share”, a story I wrote for our first anthology, Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity. The events in this story are concurrent with those from the first tale about an interplanetary government that orders the destruction of all artificial intelligence…and the human casualties that result. I hope you enjoy the story and considering supporting us.  Thank you for reading!

 

 


WORKING THE SYSTEM

by Phil Giunta

The deck was littered with bodies.

At the captain’s orders, they’d been callously dumped in the cargo hold. Practically all were riddled with blaster burns. A few had been dismembered to varying degrees. The last one had lost a chunk of his head during the morning’s violent incursion in the Ghanzing Belt.

Drug lords are afforded the dignity of body bags, while our own casualties are tossed in here like garbage. As he weaved his way through the dead, Lieutenant Cameron Glazier clenched his jaw against the bile rising in his throat. He knew how the captain felt about them, but that didn’t justify this.

Wait until Michaud sees this. Glazier considered ordering body bags down here before—

“What the hell is this?”

Too late. Oliver Michaud stood in the doorway staring at the congeries of corpses. A biomechanical engineer for the Geary Corporation, Michaud had been assigned to the Kindred as a civilian contractor.

“Wasn’t my idea, Ollie,” Glazier said. “Captain’s orders.”

“This is not happening.” Michaud stormed into the hold, gaping at the scene. After brushing past Glazier, he crouched beside the last body. Delicately, he turned the man’s head to conceal the gaping wound that had been the right side of his face.

“His name was Vance. We used to play chess. Some of our games went on for weeks. He was fascinated by stories about even the most mundane things we take for granted.” Michaud looked across the hold at the others. “They’re programmed to appreciate kindness and friendship. Did you know that, Cam? In many ways, I’m more comfortable around androids than my own kind.”

“I know.” Glazier nodded solemnly. “They were good…people. They fought well. Sorry you had to see this, Ollie. How are the survivors?”

“Once the nanites finish repairing their injuries, they’ll be fine.” With a sigh, the engineer rose to his feet.

Microscopic robots administered through injection, nanites were capable of healing non-fatal wounds, both internal and external, and curing certain common diseases. Each of Michaud’s androids had been manufactured with nanites in its synthetic bloodstream. However, those that lay strewn across the deck had been damaged beyond even the nanites’ capability to restore.

Michaud sighed and shook his head. “Such a goddamn waste.”

“Better them than us,” a new voice said.

Both men turned as Sergeant Amira Ecklund approached, rounding the pile of bodies without so much as a glance. “Isn’t that the whole point of your androids, to spare human lives?”

Michaud pointed toward the bodies. “And this is how you express your gratitude?”

“They’re machines, Doc.”

“They’re biomechanical, with emphasis on bio! Don’t forget they’re also—”

“Property of the System,” Ecklund said.

Michaud let his arm drop to his side. “Look who’s talking.”

Ecklund opened her mouth to respond when Glazier’s commphone buzzed. Hoping to escape yet another debate between these two, he pulled it from his belt and peered at the screen. “It’s Commander Zamora.” Glazier pressed a button. “Glazier here.”

“Lieutenant, I need you and Ecklund in the main conference room immediately, and bring Dr. Michaud. This concerns him, too.”

***

In the conference room minutes later, Glazier, Ecklund, and Michaud took seats opposite Commander Elyen Zamora. As with most people indigenous to the continent of Lhaneshka, Zamora’s orange eyes were in striking contrast to his dark complexion. Even when seated, the commander cut an imposing figure in both height and physique. He greeted them with a solemn nod, thick hands folded atop the table.

“Lieutenant Glazier, Sergeant Ecklund,” Zamora began. “Congratulations on a flawlessly executed assault today. You managed to eliminate nearly seventy percent of the illegal drug trade in the System, especially yhezerin. Commendations are in order for both of you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Glazier and Ecklund replied in unison.

Zamora shifted his gaze to Michaud. “And you, Doctor. Your androids performed commendably. I think it’s safe to say that today’s expedition provided irrefutable proof of their value to the military. You must be proud.”

Michaud smiled thinly, his eyes downcast. “Yeah, thanks.”

“Commander, I get the feeling we were called here for more than a pat on the back,” Glazier said. “What is this about?”

Zamora shrugged. “It’s the captain’s meeting. He should be along shortly. All I can say is that he did not sound pleased.”

Ecklund frowned. “With our performance?”

She spoke just as the conference room door slid aside. “Not at all, Sergeant.” Captain Veikko Jorgen strode into the room and took a seat at the head of the conference table. Jorgen was a gaunt, middle-aged man with platinum hair trimmed close to his pale scalp. As he sat forward, his wide gray eyes locked onto Glazier in what had become known among the crew as the ‘stare of steel.’

More like ice. If the man’s eyes had ever held any compassion at all, two decades in the System military had robbed him of it. Glazier’s shoulders tensed as the captain began.

“Damn fine job out there, Lieutenant. In fact, I admit to a certain degree of personal gratification in your success.”

It was no secret that Jorgen had lost his daughter to an overdose of yhezerin eight months ago. When manufacture of the drug had been traced back to a laboratory in the Ghanzing Belt, a ring of asteroids orbiting the 11th planet in the Noltaq system, he had volunteered to lead the assault.

“I’ll get right to the point,” the captain continued. “In the fourteen months since we left port, we’ve all watched the political situation back home steadily deteriorate. Since the New Fundamentalists attained increased representation over the past two elections, they’ve exerted more influence over policy than the Progressives.

“Even as we decimated the Ghanzing drug cartel today with the assistance of Doctor Michaud’s androids, the Fundamentalists finally managed to pass their law banning the development of artificial intelligence and biomechanical technologies regardless of their purpose.”

“That’s impossible!” Michaud blurted. “The System can’t just stifle decades of scientific progress because some politicians hold a fairy-tale belief in a non-existent deity.”

“I sympathize, Doctor. I despise the idea of our government turning into a theocracy, but right now, the religious zealots have control.”

“What does this mean for us, Captain?” Zamora asked.

Jorgen looked at Michaud. “It means that Doctor Michaud is hereby ordered to deactivate his androids.”

The engineer stared at him for several seconds, his incredulous expression hardening to anger.

Shit… Glazier tensed. Here it comes.

“You mean kill them,” Michaud seethed. “They don’t have off switches, Captain. They’re not automatons.”

“I was trying to be delicate, Doctor.”

Michaud threw himself back in his seat and stared at the ceiling. “This is not happening.” The room fell silent, all eyes on Michaud. After several seconds, he held up both hands. “OK, wait. Captain, what if you let me have a shuttle? I could take the surviving androids into the Empty Quarter and disappear. No one would ever know.”

An expanse of unclaimed space stretching about 50 light years, the Empty Quarter separated Noltaq from the next populated system controlled by the Zhoreen Alliance. It contained few planets, most of them uninhabitable.

Zamora nodded in support of the idea. “We could turn over the androids from the cargo hold as evidence of their destruction.”

“You of all people should know the penalty of lying to the System, Commander.” Jorgen turned his scowl on Michaud. “Even if I could use your dead androids as a smokescreen, explain how I’m supposed to account for a missing shuttle.”

“Lost in battle.”

“That would require tampering with the ship’s logs. This hole you have me digging would become my grave. I’m sorry, Doctor, but the orders stand.”

Michaud shook his head. “I don’t think you’re sorry at all, Captain. I think you’re pleased. You never wanted my androids aboard your ship in the first place. You were probably hoping the Fundies would push their law through. You’re no better than they are.”

Glazier shot a sidelong glance at Ecklund. Both knew that Jorgen would maintain his composure only for so long. Insubordination, even from a civilian, was not tolerated.

“I’m far from a Fundamentalist, Doctor Michaud, but you’re right. I don’t trust androids. I don’t trust artificial intelligence at all, no matter how much it resembles a human. System High Command ordered me to test your products on this mission and now they’re ordering me to destroy them. I follow my orders. It’s that simple, Doctor.”

“Like Hell it is.” Michaud leapt to his feet. “I’m contacting my company.”

“I’m afraid you’ll find that conversation a bit one-sided. System police have already seized Geary Corporation’s A.I. facilities. Your fearless leader, Doctor Isaac Geary is currently missing, but a warrant has been issued for his arrest. If he refuses to cooperate, he’ll be tried and probably imprisoned, or exiled. I would hate to see the same thing happen to someone as young and promising as yourself, Doctor.”

Michaud leaned over the conference table. “I realize they’re mere chattel to you, Captain, but these androids have become friends to me and many of your crew. I created them. How can you expect me to murder them?”

“I take it that means you refuse to cooperate?”

Michaud’s smoldering gaze met Jorgen’s frigid stare. “There’s obviously nothing I can do to stop you. Their blood is on your hands, Captain. I’ll have no part of this.”

“I see.” Jorgen kept the civilian in his sights as he spoke. “Sergeant Ecklund, please escort Doctor Michaud to his quarters where he is to be confined until we’re planet side. At which point, we’ll turn him over to military police. Let the System deal with him.”

Ecklund rose from her seat and stood beside Michaud. She placed one hand on her firearm and the other on his shoulder.

“This isn’t over, Captain,” he said.

“It is for you, Doctor. Thank you for your service aboard the Kindred.” Jorgen nodded at Ecklund. She turned him toward the door. Michaud shot a final threatening glance at Jorgen before departing.

When they were out of earshot, Zamora looked to Glazier. “How many androids survived the raid, Lieutenant?”

“Seven, sir.”

Jorgen smirked as he looked from Glazier to Zamora. “That’s all? The good doctor made it seem as if there were more.”

The captain and first officer rose from their seats in unison. Glazier’s shoulders tensed as he did the same. Don’t even say it.

Jorgen smiled thinly. “We’ll leave the method of their disposal to your discretion, Lieutenant. Dismissed.”

Dammit! Glazier felt the heat drain from his face. Sir, if I—”

“Is there a problem, Lieutenant? You and Ecklund can handle seven androids, can’t you?”

Glazier clenched his jaw.

“As I understand it, Lieutenant, your tour aboard the Kindred will end in two weeks.”

Glazier held steady against the captain’s threatening scowl. “That’s correct, sir.”

“I’d hate to see such a loyal officer spend the remainder of this expedition in the brig, not to mention leaving the service with a dishonorable discharge for disobeying an order from System High Command. That would forfeit your benefits and make it difficult to find a civilian job. Now do we understand each other, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir.” Bastard.

***

The guards assigned to Michaud’s quarters snapped to attention as Glazier approached. Ignoring them, he pressed the button beside the door. A few seconds passed before the door slid aside.

Glazier entered into complete darkness. Across the cabin, a porthole encompassed almost the entire outer bulkhead, permitting a sweeping view of the Ghanzing Belt. Countless multicolored points of light studded even the smallest of the asteroids, marking various settlements and mining operations.

“What do you want?”

Michaud was somewhere to his left.

“I came by to apologize, Ollie.”

Finally, Glazier’s eyes adjusted and found the engineer hunched forward in his chair facing the porthole. He spoke in a strained whisper. “He ordered you to do it. You and Ecklund.”

Glazier lowered his head and sighed. “Yeah.”

“I bet she enjoyed it.”

“Well, I didn’t.”

“I know.” Michaud lowered his head. “I still don’t get what you see in her, but I guess any port in a storm.”

Glazier let the comment go. His relationship with Ecklund was no secret among the lower decks. She was also part of the reason he was leaving the service, although he’d never reveal that to her.

“So how did you do it?” Michaud said. “How did you deactivate them?”

“Does it matter? It was fast and painless, I promise.”

Michaud sighed. “That’s more than I can say for myself right now. Political tides change and my life ends up in the shit can.”

“If it’s any consolation, I convinced Jorgen to dismiss what happened in the conference room. There will be no report of your refusal to cooperate. Once we’re back on Noltaq, you’ll be free to go.”

“Thanks, Cam. At least someone on this ship has a heart.”

“What will you do now?”

“I’ve been pondering that very question for the past few hours. I haven’t entirely decided, but one thing is certain. I’ll never forget what happened here today.”

To be continued in…


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