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Escape Pod 843: The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 1)


The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 1)

by Jordan Chase-Young

Back then, we liked to scour the docks of Termina Celeste for starships to tag: sleek crafts with hulls like vast canvases and cabins that were mostly unattended because the space-lagged passengers were off in the city somewhere, getting drunk or on business or both.

Blaise Landry was the leader of the crew, being the oldest out of the five of us. I was his lieutenant. That meant whenever Blaise was out, decommissioned–because sick or in deep trouble with his dad or whatever–I got to be in charge that day, which meant I got to choose which ship to tag.

Our evening began like every other: calm and lubricated with a little beer. No hint of the chaos you may’ve read about or seen on holotrope feeds. That all came later.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 842: Love and Supervillains


Love and Supervillains

By Caroline Diorio

The gals here at the Raleigh Women’s Asylum for the Nefariously Gifted have a little saying they like to share with the newbies: fuck a superhero once, shame on him; fuck a superhero twice, shame on you.

Well, technically my first super wasn’t a hero. Or even all that super. Davey could control metal with his mind, which came in handy whenever the little gears in the ice cream machine at our after-school job got jammed, but he couldn’t budge anything heavier or thicker than a can of tomatoes. He auditioned for the Southeastern Sentinels at their headquarters in Charlotte two months before our high school graduation, and while they didn’t laugh directly in his face, they thanked him for his “radical vulnerability” and told him they would “give him a call if they ever needed his skillset,” which was almost worse. He was a sweet boyfriend, though, always fixing my necklaces when they broke. We lost touch after we broke up for college, but in hindsight, I really should’ve looked him up back when I still had Internet access. Or any access to the outside world. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 841: Deepo 12


Deepo 12

By Jeff Hewitt

Nothing made Deepo 12 feel more alive than doing its job.

Its actuators sighed as another cassette slid from its workstation, tinted blastic masking the rainbow sheen of the wafers inside. Dim strip lights curved over the protective casing as it clicked into place.

Then Deepo 12 waited.

Meep. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 840: The Tyrant Lizard (and Her Plus One) / Alien Invader or Assistive Device?


The Tyrant Lizard (and Her Plus One)

By John Wiswell

Dinosaurs don’t want to kill you; they just don’t care that you’re there. More people have been sat on by brontosauruses than have been eaten by all the theropods combined. Since I joined security on the archipelago, 82% of dinosaur-related human casualties were from tourists who got too close during mating season. And the four times I’ve seen a deinonychus attack someone, they’ve always left them uneaten. Why? For the same reason bears and sharks tend to leave victims alive: because humans taste like shit. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 839: Universal Archive of Human History: FAQ


Universal Archive of Human History: FAQ

By Arturo Sierra

The Gran Gliese Universal Archive of Human History contains over 5.7×1035 books and an innumerable collection of shorter works. Moreover, it is continuously growing, thanks to additions from spacefaring traders such as the ones who ferried you here. We buy all works of the human mind that the interstellar pilgrims bring to Gran Gliese, often from the furthest reaches of the Sphere of Settled Space. The oldest files are as ancient as writing, meaning we store over a gigayear of human culture in our vaults. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 838: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 4 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Conclusion)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Agápe

Now

 

The Parliament was a larger replica of the last building that had housed the original Kairi Parliament; before the wars and the erosion of the islands beneath rising oceans forced her people from their home. Then, as now, it was nicknamed the Red House, and the physical one on New Kairi was vast enough to hold half of the continent’s citizens at any one time in the public galleries.

This Red House was for those occasions when all citizens were required to attend a vote. Wherever Siblings were, whatever they were doing, they would find a safe space to go into upload mode and citizens would find themselves under the maroon colonnades and high ceilings of the old colonial architecture, now also outfitted with expanses of arched windows that gave gorgeous views of the large parks and silently patrolling Guardians that surrounded the Parliament.

Cousins she hadn’t seen in years hugged her as she entered the Gomez family box. Uncles and Tanties nodded hello or gave her a smile, depending on the state of their relations. Sibling-Beryl air-kissed her cheek and remarked in the Gomez family chat room how her husband must be treating her good because she was looking “healthy.” Eva rolled her eyes at the veiled insult and moved on to hugging her daughter. For a moment, she wished for Dee’s easy, charming presence, but only Primarchs whose parents were both Kairi could vote in War Parliaments. Not that cheerful moments with her family could do much to dispel the somber, dark mood that hung over the Red House today.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 837: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 3 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 3 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Storge

Now

She woke when he rose from the pallet, his naked body barely visible in the faint light from the approaching dawn. The tension in his body made hers go still.

What is it?” she signed.

He held up a warning hand for her to stay where she was before he crept out the open doorway. She sat up, dragging on her shirt and following him into the main living space. He crouched next to the locked front door, unlocking it with one hand while keeping his back against the wall. His eyes widened when he saw her, and he shook his head.

An insistent vibration in her arm distracted her. She glanced down just as he got the door open and crept outside, closing it behind him.

Green lights chased each other in a circle under the skin of her wrist.

Fuck. He was trying to protect her.

She ran for the door and dragged it open.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 836: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 2 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 2 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Eros

Now

For several days, she lay on Dee’s pallet while he slept somewhere in the room outside. Every few hours she would check the Kinnec, but it remained resolutely purple.

Dee brought her food, water to wash, and fresh clothes. He apologized for not having an entertainment node and shared his hololibrary instead. He spent a lot of time outside, or moving around in the kitchen, doing chores. He was an excellent cook who scaled and gutted fish out in the yard with glittering flashes of his nimble knife. He was fond of ground provisions, which she usually shunned at home but enjoyed here because he often roasted them over an open flame.

During the day, he left the front door open to let fresh air in and allow her a view. She watched as he worked in the garden, lean muscles rippling under brown, sweat-sheened skin.

Whenever he broke for a drink of water, he’d pour the last of it over his head. She would follow the trail of the water down his bare chest until it disappeared under his loose work pants. On the third day, after he wiped a hand over his face, he caught her looking. She didn’t drop her eyes to the holobook she was reading, wondering idly what he would do.

He dropped the dipper back into the barrel near the stairs, gave her a quick wink and went back to work.

She had to give up reading, having lost her place in the book and any interest in the tale.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 835: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 1 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 1 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Brother-Adita paused at the top of the ridge and rotated one eye to take in the shells climbing the path behind them. They gestured beyond them with a limb, a habit picked up from their young, excitable sibling.

“Quarter-march, west-north-west,” came their voice through the Kinnec.

“Acknowledged,” the other two shells replied.

Metal clacked against stone as the scouting party made their way over the rocky terrain until a half-crumbled hillside came into view above them. Freshly fallen boulders lay cracked and scattered on the flats below a large irregular hole. The hole was dark, the opening blackened and fused from heat.

A recon drone unwrapped itself from the diplomat’s shell.

“Unnecessary,” Brother-Adita said. “Shell destroyed. Only core remains.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 834: Anticipation of Hollowness


Anticipation of Hollowness

by Renan Bernardo

Having an obsolete best friend meant I had to put up with constant warnings about her plight.
“Software needs to be updated,” Lyria said and stopped abruptly on our way to the Algae on Wheels. Her hands slumped and stiffened against her sides. “Software will shut down unless updated.” A few meters ahead, the floating algaewich rickshaw honked twice, announcing its imminent departure.

“Well, Lyria,” I said, chuckling, “you’re way too predictable. Have I told you?” I waved to Roberto, the algaewich vendor. He was gliding the rickshaw away across the street. Its buffed surface reflected the rosy skies giving way to the darkness of night. Roberto flashed a wide smile when he saw me. He steered the Algae on Wheels into a parking area designated for bicycles, rickshaws, and the like.

“Janet, about predictability, I would like to—”

“Shush, friend. There’s our man.”

I ran. Lyria followed me as she always did. Her feet clanked unevenly on the asphalt.

It tastes like algae, but it’s hidden among slices of bread! advertised a small hologram floating in blue and yellow around the roof of the Algae on Wheels, sometimes crossing through the round solar panel on it.

Lyria tried to keep up with me, but her legs were old, marred by time and use, unable to run without making her look like an unwieldy dancer. Nothing about her age was new for me. Her alerts had been warning me about her obsolescence for more than two years.

(Continue Reading…)