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First pages

Chapter 1

Alya placed her bag on the scanner and watched as the flickering light searched for weapons.

“Clean,” a bored security guard said and handed it back to her.

She gave him a smile – not so small that she looked too nervous, but not so big that it seemed unnatural – and took the bag in one hand.

The weight was reassuring.  It was just the size of bag that someone travelling to the colony for a six month study period would have.  Nothing unusual, nothing remarkable.

The spaceport was loud and shiny and cold.  Alya wrapped her coat around herself more tightly.  It was supposed to adjust to different temperatures, but either the heat panels weren’t working or the cold was all in her head.  That was very possible.

Alya realised that she was holding her breath and she let it out gently.  A man in a blue uniform glanced over at her, but she kept her eyes straight ahead.  Of course, he might just have been looking at her scruffy clothes and ash blond hair pulled back into a loose ponytail.  Everyone else was in business suits or they looked like they stepped right off the catwalk.  But Alya knew that she was dressed exactly like a student would dress, so that was okay.

“Boarding pass please.” A woman in a shiny suit with a shaved head held out her hand.  Alya tried not to look too surprised as she gave the girl her datapad to scan.  Normally it was all automated, but the Continuum must have felt it was worth the extra to employ a human being for this mundane job.  A little taste of luxury for travellers.  Alya’s eyes lingered on the Continuum logo on the woman’s top.  Or a reminder of who was in charge.

There were two men in the shuttle and an old woman who had already fallen asleep, her grey-speckled braids of hair gently bobbing with each snuffling breath.  Both men looked up as Alya took her seat.  She kept her eyes down.  Her Polish background had gifted her with high cheekbones and almond shaped eyes that men seemed to find attractive.  But today she wore no makeup and scruffy clothes in the hope that no one would find her worth looking at.  When one of the men opened his mouth to speak Alya knew she had failed even at that.

“First time?” The man had a beard that was a bit too manicured to pull off the rugged look he had probably been hoping for.  He sat with his legs spread wide in a way that Alya found immediately irritating.

“Yes,” Alya said.  Would it be better to appear chatty or nervous?  What would seem more natural?  She had left too long a pause anyway so she returned her gaze to her feet.

“You don’t look like someone who can afford this sort of trip.  No offense of course.” The guy with the beard smiled, his teeth popping into view like burrowing insects.

“I’m a student at NAU.  I’ve been granted a six-month study placement on the moon colony.  I’m learning about the mine expansion.  I’m a student,” she said again when the guy didn’t say anything.

“Right.” The guy with the beard turned back to his friend and rolled his eyes. Alya swallowed.  Careful.

Bearded guy’s friend was skinny with white blond hair and he looked like he might be about to be sick.  There was a pinkness around his eyes that probably meant radiation exposure.  Alya wondered if he was from Scandinavia somewhere.  They had been hit by the radiation leaks much worse than Poland, and his pale colouring suggested he was from the North.  Alya wanted to ask him but decided not to risk it.

There was a brief announcement in English and German and then the shuttle moved off smoothly.  Alya’s stomach clenched but she forced herself to stay calm.  At least they could stay seated for this part of the ride.

Alya glanced out of the windows out of habit, but of course there was nothing to see.  The shuttle would stay in the tunnel until it reached the launch pad.  As the metal carriage moved along the tracks there were frequent flashes of electrical wires, giving the impression of an underground storm.

Alya felt an answering flicker behind her own eyes and looked back down at the floor.  She had forgotten to keep up with her breathing exercises.  Or was it the bearded man that had upset her?  She felt her nails dig into the plastic fabric of the armrest.  Now was not the time to lose control.

“Please enter the sleeping compartments,” a robotic voice called out, loud enough that Alya flinched.

The pale faced man shot out of his chair and stumbled over to his sleeping berth.  Alya wondered what would happen if he puked in his berth.  That would not be pleasant.  His friend slapped his back and went over to his own bed, shooting Alya a sleazy grin while he did so.

“Sleep tight.” He chuckled as he climbed in.  Alya waited until he had closed the lid on his compartment before getting into hers.  She didn’t like the idea of being unconscious around that guy.

The sleeping compartment was painted bright white and covered with a glass ceiling but nothing that the moon shuttle company could do would make it feel comfortable.  It was like getting into a coffin.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Alya stepped in with deliberate care, one foot then the other.  The instructions told her how to attach the straps with a firm push and the foam sides then gently molded themselves around her body.

Alya felt kind of proud that she had managed to keep her anxiety down to a small tingle in her nerve endings.  All the practice at home had paid off.  She had kept her panic at bay, for now.

But the worst part was about to start.  A cold gas began to fill the coffin.  Sleeping berth, Alya reminded herself as her temples began to sweat.  She forced her eyes closed as the metallic taste entered her nose and mouth.

It took every particle of self-control for Alya not to give in to the power as the blankness washed over her brain.  But somehow she managed it, and as she slipped into sleep a smile of relief played on her lips.

 

Alya woke up covered by a thin layer of moisture like a blade of grass on an autumn morning.  She tried to move her legs, but then she realised she was paralysed.  A wave of anxiety washed over her before a mechanical voice told her to stay calm, she would be released soon.  Alya went through her exercises, gradually slowing the thumping pulse that she could feel in her eardrums.  Did everyone get the calm down message, or had the pod somehow read her vitals, seen her inflated heart rate?  And if it saw that what else did it see?  Alya shook her head, even though she could barely move it against the foam material that pressed around her.  Paranoia was sometimes useful, but when it led to panic it was the enemy.  Do not let yourself panic.

As soon as the cheery tone sounded, Alya pushed the lid of the sleeping pod upwards and scrambled out.  She was the first one out of her compartment so she was the first to rush over to the window.

And there it was.  The moon colony.  Continuum Base One, as it was properly called now.  A miniature city encased in a dome that looked like glass but was actually something much more complicated.  Alya pressed her hands against the window of the shuttle.  She knew that the view was actually deceptive: ninety percent of the moon base was underground.  Hollowed out from the surface of the moon itself, the material ground down and remade into lunar concrete to construct buildings and roads many metres under the ground.

Alya’s chest constricted with emotion until she could hardly breathe.  Had she really come this far?  She could almost taste the air.  Just a few more minutes.

“It’s amazing it’s still up there at all.  Considering it was built by Geeps.”

Alya managed to stay still, but she couldn’t help bunching her hands into fists.  Thankfully the men had forgotten about her.  She slowly turned away from the window.

“Do you think we’ll see any?” The white blond guy had got a bit of his colour back.  For a nervous flyer, the worst was over.  Well, apart from the landing, but maybe he hadn’t heard about that one.

“What, Geeps?” The bearded guy barely looked outside.  How many times had he made this trip to become so used to such a spectacular view? “Sure, there’s the odd one still about.  The ones that submitted to treatment, sterilization, all that jazz.  They say they’re safe now but I never get up too close, if you know what I mean.”

“Don’t you feel kind of sorry for them?”

“Why, because they can’t have kids?  Sure, but they had to stop the contamination.  I mean, what if the mutation got into the gene pool?  Then we’d all end up like them.”

Both men shuddered.  The bearded man’s shirt had sweat patches under the arms.  Perhaps he’d been more nervous than he had let on.

Alya heard a thump and looked down to see that her bag had fallen off the bench.  All by itself.

“Careful child,” Alya felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see a pair of penetrating black eyes surrounded by a wrinkled sepia face.  She hadn’t even seen the old woman move.  The woman picked up the bag and held it out to Alya.  She took it with a blush that she couldn’t stop.

“Thanks.” Alya stared into those dark eyes for a second while the wave of energy inside her subsided. “Must have knocked it over.  I guess I got a little space sick.”

“I guess so.” The woman put a hand on her shoulder, held onto it for a second, then let go.  She shuffled over to her seat and brought out a datapad, immediately lost in her own world.

Alya glanced over at the two men, but they seemed to have forgotten about her.

She tilted her head towards the window and looked at the moon.  And the colony, stuck on its side like a parasite.  Welcome home, Alya.

Chapter 2

The mechanical voice had promised that the landing would be a small vibration.  Instead, it was the sort of thud that pounded from Alya’s feet to her teeth.  She looked across at the other side of the shuttle and was pleased to see that even the man with the beard was sweating.  His companion looked like he might throw up at any moment.

They had been allowed to sit on their chairs for the descent – no need, thankfully, to re-enter the coffin-like sleep pods – but had attached the seatbelts that had extended from the walls behind them.  Alya rubbed her collar bone, feeling the future bruise where the belt had dug into her skin.

Too late, Alya remembered to look out of the window, but the shuttle had already passed into an underground road or tunnel of some kind, so the view of the moon was gone.  She was sort of glad.  The moments of descent where the surface of the moon had been tilted and shimmering due to the shuttle’s trajectory and speed had left her feeling distinctly queasy.

While she was checking her breathing, the shuttle moved along the corridor.  Flashes of light on the walls as it passed by gave her a sense that it was moving fast, although the ride was smooth enough.  She closed her eyes and found her centre.  Perhaps it would all be okay.

The shuttle gave a lurch and her eyes snapped open.  Opposite, the old woman was staring at her without shame.  She had a small grin fixed on her thin lips.  Alya looked away and saw the strip of LED lights come on next to the shuttle exit.

The man with the beard climbed out of the shuttle in an athletic bound, calling for his companion to follow him.  The pale man looked back at her and actually managed a smile.

“Good luck,” he said before disappearing through the opening.  A friendly comment?  Alya tried to take it as such, but her paranoia made her bite her lip.  Did she look like someone in need of luck?

She grabbed her bag and headed for the door of the shuttle.  There was a large step up to the platform.  Alya looked back and offered an arm to the woman who was now shuffling towards the exit.

“Don’t mind me, sweetheart, I can take care of myself.  And if you ever need a friend, you come to Mama’s Place, first floor next to the laundry.  Okay?”

“Sure,” Alya said, more touched than she showed.  Although the woman would have hardly made such an offer if she had known why Alya was there.

The woman grinned, showing a set of surprisingly perfect teeth, then leaped onto the platform with the agility of a fox.  She hurried along the platform and disappeared, leaving Alya staring after her.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Alya climbed up on to the platform. 

Alya couldn’t help but be a little disappointed when she exited the shuttle.  She had expected something like the spaceport back on earth - ultra modern, sanitised white with high glass ceilings.  She realised as soon as her feet hit the floor that she had been stupid to expect something similar here.  Space was at a premium on the moon, where every piece of real estate had to be chiselled out of the very rock itself.  The spaceport was long and low, the ceiling only ten feet high.  There were doors off to each side where people could access shuttles, although there only seemed to be a couple actually in use.  This was not surprising given the expense of space travel.  But it worried Alya – she had hoped for more people, a crowd that she could disappear into.  This clearly was not going to happen.

Her fellow travellers were fascinating, with outfits that suggested all the different post-freeze nations of earth.  The mix of skin colours and facial features made the space station seem more egalitarian than any earth nation.  Of course, appearances were deceptive.  Alya made herself stare at the floor – she didn’t want any more people to remember her face than she could avoid.

Arrows on the floor pointed the way through the terminal.  Alya passed a dozen shuttle bays before the space opened up into the main floor of the terminal.  Still, it was much smaller than those at Cape Town and Amur Oblast.  There were people about, sure, but not the busy throngs that there were on the earth bases.  It made sense: earth shuttles went all over the world, the moon’s shuttles only went back down.

Plastic barriers corralled Alya and the other shuttle passengers towards a bank of security booths.  Only two were open and Alya took her place in line.

A woman with a beautiful headdress that Alya thought made her possibly Sudanese in origin checked her paperwork with a thoroughness that Alya found unnerving.

“Student permit?”

Did it matter that her hands shook as she handed over the datapad?  Alya pressed her palm onto the screen in front of her and tried not to dwell on the moist mark she left behind her.  Damn, it was hot down here.

“Hot, isn’t it?” She said inanely while the woman tapped away on a view screen.

“Always is,” the woman replied, then handed back Alya’s data pad. “Enjoy your stay on the moon, Alya.”

“Thanks.”

As Alya walked out of the spaceport she had to keep reminding herself where she was.  She had watched so many simulations of the moon base, had walked through the same tunnels in virtual space, that actually being there felt like an illusion.  She found herself unconsciously reaching up to her eyes to remove a VR headset that wasn’t there.

Like every other new visitor to the moon, she headed straight for the Dome.  Only the central Boulevard – a ridiculously grand name, it had been known as the Street before the Continuum had taken over – was open to the public, but it was enough.

Back when she had had a friend, they had often spoken about what it would be like to visit the moon.  More than a century ago men had taken their first steps on the lunar surface.  Now anyone – with the money and the means to get there – could do the same.  But the lunar landscape had never lost its mystery and Alya felt its call more than most.  She walked along the Boulevard to the viewing platform at the edge of the Dome and stared out at space.

The earth was in what Alya knew was called its quarter illumination.  Knowing the physics didn’t make it look any less weird.  The way the earth hung in the dark sky, only partially illuminated like someone had covered it up with a dark shawl, was very, very strange.

A small surge of power pulsed at her temples, nothing that she couldn’t control, but just enough to serve as a warning.  She wasn’t here for sightseeing.  She turned away from the earth and went to work.

Chapter 3

“Why exactly are you here?”

Alya felt a flush creep across her face. “I understood that my department had been in contact with you, Professor.  It was all arranged months ago.”

“No, no.  That’s not right.” The Professor shook his head.  It was quite a sight.  Professor Blake, a pale Englishman of late middle age, had corpulent jowls and the movement was oddly fascinating. “I’m sure I would remember.”

He tapped at the screen of his computer in frustration.  Alya found herself practising her breathing again.  If the Professor sent her back then she might never get another chance.  Was this the usual academic incompetence, or was there something else going on?  Had someone tipped the department off about the background of their newest researcher?

“I can show you documents if you want,” Alya said, holding out her datapad.

“No, no.  That’s not necessary.  I suppose we must find something for you to do.” The Professor sighed as if the weight of the entire colony was on his shoulders. “Why did you say they sent you?”

“To learn about the mine expansion.  They plan to use some of the same techniques down on earth.”

“The underground city plan?” The Professor gave a derisive snort. “Does anyone still believe in that one?  That human beings can just hibernate their way through an ice age like bears?”

Alya felt an unfamiliar urge to defend the people of earth. “They have already started digging.  There are sites on five continents.  Along with the off-world option and the Ice Ark, there are governments investing heavily in the subterranean solution.  The plan is to replicate some of the techniques that were used here in the early days of the colony.  That’s why they’ve sent me here to research them.”

“The founding days?” A shadow crossed the Professor’s face but Alya pretended not to notice it. “Records from those days are patchy I’m afraid.”

“Why?” Alya asked innocently.

“Well, that was before the Continuum took over.  Before the war up here.  And down on earth.”

“Before the Continuum.  Right, and why did they take over again?”

A mistake.  The man’s eyebrows shot up.

“Everyone knows about the war with the Continuum.  What exactly are you playing at?”

“Of course.  Sorry.  I just meant why would that effect the records?”

The Professor let out an exaggerated sigh. “Because the records were in the hands of the Geeps.  And when they realised that the Continuum were coming they destroyed it all.”

The Professor looked down at his empty coffee cup. “The poor mad bastards.”

Alya pressed her nails into her palms. “That’s why my department sent me up here.  Any records that are left have been locked by the Continuum so they can only be accessed directly in the archives.  I suppose they didn’t want just anyone accessing them.”

“I suppose not.” The Professor’s eyes were clear and sharp, unlike the rest of him.  He was staring at Alya with a guarded expression. “Who knows what they might find.”

 

Alya made her excuses and left the Professor’s office before he could see her hands shaking.  It had taken all of her control to appear interested in the large man’s chatter about research projects and fieldwork.  She had finally had to fake a yawn and claim exhaustion just to get out of the room.

Once out of the Professor’s domain the feeling returned.  Alya hugged her arms to her chest and hurried along the corridor, looking for somewhere, anywhere, that she would be safe.

Here!  She banged through the door to the ladies toilets.  There were only three stalls and thankfully they were empty.  She pulled a bin across the floor – a dreadful scraping noise that she prayed no one heard – and pushed it up against the door.  Hopefully, that would be enough.

She staggered over to the sinks and glared at herself in the mirror.  She had been stupid, to let herself get into this state, almost ruining everything.  She should have realised that meeting with the Professor after the shuttle ride would be too much stimulus.  She took a deep breath but it did nothing to stem the tide.

The crawling feeling under her skin meant that the power was fighting to get out.  She looked in the mirror again and saw nothing more than a girl looking back at her.  The girl gave a half grin.  Looks could be deceptive.

A flash came into her mind.  The men on the shuttle.  The way they talked about the Geeps.  The Professor and his pity.  A cramp gripped her side and she let out a small moan.

No.  Now was not the time.  Summoning her last bit of self-control she pushed the power back down.  It worked, though she could still feel it behind her eyes.  Contained, for the moment.  She would need a release soon, but she might just manage to get out of there without totally losing it.  Maybe.

She ran the tap and splashed her face with cool water.  Nothing to worry about, right!  Her forced-on grin looked fake in the mirror, but to people who didn’t know her it might just look okay.

Time to find somewhere to sleep.

Chapter 4

After the sanitised restraint of the University, the noise and the lights and the people and the smells of the Core were overwhelming.  Part of the reason for this was that there were few barriers to sound.  The central shaft of the colony went down ten floors, and each floor was connected to it by metal walkways.  All of this was open to the air, although of course the entire structure was completely sealed by the dome to stop the air leaking away into the moon’s atmosphere and leaving them all to suffocate in an instant.  Breathe in, breathe out.

Alya checked her datapad for the address of her hotel.  It was on the second level, which meant it was cheap.  The more expensive establishments were on level one along with most of the restaurants and entertainment.  The really posh places were up in the Dome, but that was for celebrities and high ranking Continuum officials.

Alya had decided not to stay in the University housing.  She had reasoned with the department that it would be too expensive – it was – and a third rate hotel room would be much better.  It had been Jenny, the over-worked Secretary that had okayed it.

“Guess you want to see a bit more of the place, eh?  Won’t be much fun with all those phd’s and academics.”

Alya had smiled, even though she wasn’t planning on having fun.  But Jenny wasn’t wrong about the academics.  They were an insular bunch, bad enough back on earth, and Alya could only imagine that the isolation of the moon would make them even more introverted.  Well, that was fine, Alya wasn’t exactly a party animal herself.  But one thing that academics definitely were was curious – nosy even – and that she could do without.

So the tiny suite in the visitor’s sector suited Alya just fine.  If she stretched out her arms she could touch both sides of the room.  A sofa and table folded down into a bed at night time.  There were no windows.  To afford a view of the stars took considerably more spending money than Alya had ever had in her life.  Ninety percent of the architecture on the moon was underground.  Only the homes of the super-rich and a few special building allowed access directly to the dome.

Instead of the window was a large view screen with an irritating flicker in the corner.  Alya swiped the menu on her data pad and synced it up with the screen so that she could sit back and view her files.  No messages yet.  That was good.  She thought about opening up her research documents, but she was just too tired.  She decided on a shower to wake up.

Two minutes was the longest the shower would stay on for.  Understandable, even if Alya would have preferred an hour under the spray.  Water supplies were kept tightly controlled on the moon.  Along with everything else.  Time to get out.

As she reached for the shower rail she slipped on the wet tiles.  She flung out her hand to steady herself and knocked a row of bottles off the shelf.  They ricocheted off the wall of the shower and began to shatter.  Until they didn’t.

Alya looked in horror at the pieces of glass and splashes of liquid that hung suspended in the air around her.  Like a photograph taken at exactly the moment of impact, they were paused in a single second.

Her ears rang.  Crackles of blue light appeared around her making her skin itch.

“Stop!” She shouted, feeling the last pieces of control slipping.  Suddenly the broken bottles re-joined normal time and shattered all around her.

The noise of the bottles breaking shocked Alya and she staggered backward.  She fell into the bedroom and a tinny noise reached her ears.  She looked around at the plastic sheeting on the walls and watched in horror as every screw in the room started to pop out of place.

She forced her hands out of the tight fists they had made and drew them up to her temples.  Trying to block out everything around her, Alya put her fingers against her hot skin.

Breathe in, breathe out.

A cup on the table stopped rotating and became still.

Breathe in, breathe out.

The screws fell to the ground.

Breathe in, breathe out.

The vibration stopped and the only sound was of her heart beat gradually slowing from superhuman to merely incredibly fast.

Alya opened her eyes and surveyed the destruction.

“Damn,” she said softly.

Chapter 5

It took her two hours to tidy up the mess.  All the while she was expecting a knock on the door, someone from the hotel coming to complain about the noise.  She sent a message to the Professor saying that she was feeling space sick and would work from her room.

Eventually, she was so hungry that she had to venture out of her hotel room.  She checked her maps.  Having made excuses to the Professor she couldn’t risk the University canteen.  But she wasn’t sure she could face the busy first and second floor restaurants that would be crawling with visitors.  She zoomed in on the datapad and notices there was a public canteen on the eight floor, which seemed to house the gravity generators.

Excellent.  She could eat and do some undercover investigating.  Eight flights of stairs to walk down.  At least she would have earned her lunch.  She grabbed her bag and headed for the canteen.

By the time she had spent five minutes on the eighth floor she was already regretting it.  It was a maintenance level, and the only people there wore the light grey Continuum uniform worn by people who were cleaners or technicians.

She hurried to the canteen, eager to find somewhere where she wasn’t quite so clearly out of place.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t any better in the canteen and she was the only person there not in grey.  Every person in the canteen was what was termed a low-status worker.  It always surprised Alya that in the twenty-second century there were still cleaners and plumbers and other people doing manual work.  Everyone had thought those sort of roles would be automated by now.  But it turned out that human beings were cheaper than robots, even allowing for feeding and accommodation.  So there were plenty of maintenance workers on the moon.  Alya didn’t envy them.  Her grandmother had been a cleaner and she knew what a tough job it was.

The canteen was still polished and efficient – there was no true poverty on the moon – but it definitely wasn’t as lavish as the other floors.  Alya hurried over to the serving tables and ordered a bowl of noodles, paying on her card.  At least it was cheap.

She sat down at an empty table and tried not to eat too quickly.  She reasoned it would make her look even more suspicious if she wolfed down her food.  She tried to look like someone just innocently out for a cheap meal.

A couple of the workers stared at her, but most just ignored her.  They were definitely wolfing down their food, sitting chatting in little groups of friends.  They were mainly white, mostly from the parts of the world that had suffered badly from the freeze.  They all seemed quite happy, enjoying their break from what was probably a tough job.  Alya wondered if the academic canteen should be more like this one instead of a bunch of silent introverts.  But then she would have to talk to people too.  Probably better not to.

The door banged open and Alya looked up.  Her mouth fell open.  In the doorway was a Geep.

She recognised the symptoms immediately even though she had never seen the man before in her life.  His physical form had been twisted and changed to leave him with only the barest of resemblances to what he must have been like before.  The man was at least a foot too tall.  Even taller if he had been able to stand upright.  He was stooped over so far that his arms drooped in front of him.  His whole body was a ‘C’ shape.  He must have been a fair age – it was twenty years since the war, after all – and his hair had thinned, leaving a few wispy white tufts.  Alya had no idea how he managed to walk.  She dropped her eyes to her plate, horrified to see that they were filling with tears.  She had no idea that the Continuum would allow a Geep to stay on the station like this.  At least he was alive, she told herself.

She heard a crash and looked up.  The old Geep had dropped his tray, sending food flying.  She hurried over and salvaged what she could, putting it back on the tray.

“Can I carry it for you?”

The man nodded.  He pointed to a table in the corner, and Alya put the tray down for him.  He gave another nod which she took to mean thank you.  Then he sat down with his back to her and started eating.

“Do you need anything else?”

The Geep looked up at her for a second.  His skin sort of sagged around his face and his eyes were watery and oversized.  He shook his head slowly.

“Okay.  I’ll be over there, just let me know if you need a hand.”

Feeling like she was causing the poor man more embarrassment, Alya headed back to her table.  She forced the noodles down her dry throat.

“Mind if I sit down?”

A balding man with a large stomach and skinny legs sat down at her table before she had the chance to answer.  He was wearing the same grey uniform as everyone else, but his shirt had some white piping round it, presumably to denote some kind of supervisory role.

“No,” Alya said, trying to make it clear that she actually meant yes, but the man didn’t notice.

“You don’t look like a floor mopper.”

“I’m a student actually, at the University.  Just doing a bit of exploring.”

The man grinned. “Must be pretty bored up at the uni to come down here.  I’m Dara Hanlon.  Shift supervisor on the generators.”

Alya just smiled faintly.  Dara’s brows creased.  He clearly expected her to reply with her name, something that Alya had zero intention of doing.

“I see you met Old George.” The man waved his hand at the Geep who was finishing up his lunch.

Alya gave a small nod.  She wanted to find out more about the Geep, but she didn’t like the way the man said his name like it was something distasteful.

“We used to have a few Geeps working here.  Right after the war.  Old George is the only one left now.  Of course, they don’t tend to live long.  That sort of poison in your veins… Even the ones the Continuum let live didn’t survive much beyond the first few years.”

Alya pushed the rest of her noodles away.

“Leaving already?” Hanlon asked.

“Yes,” Alya said, but she couldn’t stop herself asking another question. “Why do they leave him here?” The power flickered under her skin.  She was barely in control.

“As a warning.” The man leaned forward.  Alya could see a smear of sauce around his lips. “They left Old George here to let everyone know exactly what happens to Geeps in the long run.  Well, it makes it pretty clear that the war was the right thing to do, doesn’t it?  I mean, looking at Old George you can kind of see why they did it.  Imagine if we all ended up like him?”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

T E Olivant writes science fiction and fantasy books, mostly slightly strange ones where the two categories overlap. She loves reading any sff, particularly authors like Terry Pratchett, Neal Stephenson and Tim Powers. She once wrote a PhD on Lord Dunsany, an awesome writer who should be more famous than he is. When not writing she mostly spends her days persuading small children to put their socks on.

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A.
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