• It was only a small canister, but it was enough to get a good flame going for a few seconds. Alicia flicked the lighter under the spray, rounded the corner, and blasted the man in the face. As he screamed, his partner rounded on her.

  • the heat was oppressive in the crowded market. Alae’in shouldered their way through the press of bodies, searching for the stall that held what they sought.

  • The fireplace crackles. I rub the slightly scratchy wool blanket between my fingers. Every part of me that isn’t under that blanket feels the cold from the dark wet night outside. In here, though, I’m warm with you.

  • The bony helix was brittle and smooth, as well as bleached by the centuries. Ariadna couldn’t even begin to guess what sort of creature it had originally belonged to. Something that her primitive mammalian ancestors no doubt would have feared.

  • The nutrients flowed through the narrow tube connected to my abdomen. My instinct was to take deep breaths to counteract the anxiety, but my breathing was externally regulated. A machine was doing all my work for me, and it was horrible.

  • The insect fluttered in the strong wind, struggling to make headway. The wind picked up sharply, and the small creature was tossed against a rough tree. As Elaine walked by, she saw the butterfly trapped against the hard surface, fighting to be free, and she was overcome with a strong but undefinable emotion.

  • The stronghold of the HAL leaders was nothing like a fortress. It looked like the type of building one might find on a university campus. Squat, outdated in architecture, and with typical office-building directories out front, it looked innocuous.

  • The Grand Imperial Institute of AEtherial Sciences had several prestigious departments, of which Simon Bolger belonged to none.

  • It was just something he’d put in place long ago to safeguard the secrets this attic held. It was just a tripwire on the trapdoor, but it was connected to a particularly nasty projectile he’d rigged in the corner.

  • I left the tank in the late morning, around 11:45. The air stung, and the light burned. My newborn body fought against my ancient mind. My SELF will win.

  • The looming clouds pressed down on my psyche. I couldn’t get stormy thoughts out of my head. It seemed like time was racing and inching at the same time. I had to get to the station before everything broke.

  • The siren screamed overhead as the group ran out of the building. Gunshots spattered the night, and wails and cries slid through the darkness to my ears. We all knew that we could just as easily be them, as the lucky people we were. We were prepared.

  • The wood panel of the floor shifted slightly under Michael’s feet. Confusing, because he’d been in this room many times, and he’d never felt anything but stability. He bent down to feel around the edges, and the gap that had appeared was large enough to put his finger through, all around the long side.