Distant EncountersHellish wind howled over the short strip of sandbeach, bringing waves
out of the night to crash deafeningly against the shore. Where the
ground sloped upwards, a man tried desperately to climb out of
the wet sand, slipping again and again as his shoes failed to gain
traction. The cold, humid air found its way inside his tweed, draining
him of energy. He pushed harder, and noted with some relief that he
was now among the rocks seen from below. It was a good moment to turn
and look back at the dark shape of his father's tiny steam yacht, now
run aground courtesy of an unusually high tide caused by the planet's
three moons being in alignment.
It had been quite a shock to be awakened in the middle of the night
by the incipient storm, only to find out that the entire crew of six,
counting his own manservant, had abandoned ship in the rowboat,
leaving him to his fate. And fate had made it that they were now lost
at sea, while he was safely on solid ground. For certain values of
Second ContactThe two men fighting atop a cliff were at once alike and contrasting.
Both had red hair and fair skin, and wore identical khaki uniforms
criss-crossed with leather straps, now all tarnished with dust. But
while one stood huge and muscular, with a face that seemed carved in
stone, the other was lanky, and his big round glasses threatened to
slip off at all times.
He was hardly helpless, however. As the giant's fist swung at him,
he blocked, while his free hand went for the sidearm. But he was too
slow. By the time he managed to draw, his oponent's left hand grabbed
his wrist, and they struggled for a moment. Then the larger fighter
reached for his own revolver. That would have been the end, but for
a desperate wrestling throw which failed... except both guns went
flying, one into some bushes, the other clattering into the ravine.
The smaller man found himself on the ground, trying to back away from
the unequal confrontation.
"Why are you doing this?!"
"For the people!" bellowed the gian
Dragon's WishThe egg stood there one morning, among dirty tents and piles of trash, on the burnt ground within a circle of stones. It was as tall as a grown man, and suitably wide, its smooth jade-like surface criss-crossed by meandering veins of gold that swirled into ever more intricate patterns, smaller than the eye could see. High above, the tops of fir trees swayed in the wind, but under the forest canopy the air was still and almost warm.
Presently a man emerged from a half-collapsed tent on the edge of the clearing, wearing only a loincloth and a layer of grime. He stretched, knotted muscles coiling like snakes around arms as thick as an elephant's trunk, and walked groggily towards the boulder that stood watch off to a side, where a footpath started downwards among giant roots. Someone was sleeping there, bundled in a fur, and he prodded the prone shape with an impatient foot.
"Get up, you green brute. You were supposed to wake me at dawn."
The orc snarled, showing big yellow teeth made to