1. THERE ARE NO RULES. That’s what your uncle tells you, after he finds you stowing away in his transport ship, the Celeris, which you used to call the Celery when you were growing up, back when you only dreamed of getting off the crappy planet your parents brought you to as a baby.
KV-62 went supernova today. Well, according to the news, it went supernova on March 14, 1592, but we’re just now finding out about it. Other things that happened on this day in history: Eli Whitney got a patent for the cotton gin, Charles I granted a royal charter to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and I was fished out of a trash can in the Union Square subway station.
A man was far ahead of her on the road. Walking and breathing. So far, so good. That he was a man, Nayima was certain. His silhouette against the horizon of the rising roadway showed his masculine height and the shadow of an unkempt beard.
It was an apocalyptic sector. Out of the red-black curtain of the forward sight-barrier, which at this distance from the Frontier shut down a mere twenty metres north, came every sort of meteoric horror: fission and fusion explosions, chemical detonations, a super-hail of projectiles of all sizes and basic velocities, sprays of nerve-paralysants and thalamic dopes.
The spaceman shows up on a hot summer afternoon, not in the dead of night when you’re crouched in the garden peering through a telescope that shows you the endless glories and wonders of the night sky. There’s no spaceship making a bright arc against a star-spangled sky. Just a man in a spacesuit, standing at the edge of your hammock.
The old house had been hit by something sometime during the war and mashed nearly flat. The front was caved in as though crushed by a giant fist: wood pulped and splintered, beams protruding at odd angles like broken fingers, the second floor collapsed onto the remnants of the first. The rubble of a chimney covered everything with a red mortar blanket.
A drink arrived that Culin hadn’t ordered. No one sent drinks to the crowded annex where Culin sat, crammed in with seven other people, all with contagion bands on their sleeves and matching tattoos on their arms. Sending drinks was an affectation Culin didn’t see much in the Dead Engine at all.
As they crossed the Great Plains of America, Harry was certain she’d never seen anything so astonishing in all her life. The Kestrel hadn’t had such a long stretch airborne since she crossed the Atlantic. Even on the third day of it, Harry leaned out a window to watch the land passing beneath them, and what seemed to be all of heaven passing above.
It’s all over for humanity, and I’m heading east. On the seat beside me are an M1 carbine and a Thompson submachine gun. There’s a special reason for the Thompson. I traded an M16 and 200 rounds of ammo for it to a guy in Barstow.
Karol hung in the lock and yawned, which he’d have told anyone was his way of readjusting to the air pressure inside Hengist. Many around him were yawning too. All outworkers knew that a pressure yawn had nothing to do with tiredness.