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Be sure to Subscribe and Follow this blog to keep updated on the FREEZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If you or a friend are interested in submitting your short stories or longer works for daily serialization in a future issue, please contact us at freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com, and we will reply in due time. Thank you for your participation in helping to support this nonprofit creative writing platform. Don't miss out on the current issue featuring Sanford Meschkow, John Shirley, Brian Stoneking, Vincent Daemon, and Bruce Boston. Featuring art by Will Ferret, Jason Heckenliable, Kara Koma, Marge Simon, and Shasta Lawton. The Freezine is a permanent installation. It may only carry on with the enthusiastic support of its followers, readers, and writers willing to submit their hard earned material for free. This webzine takes the form of a blog incepted in April of 2009. It is controlled by a microscopic fleet of nanobots sent from the future. With your participation it may continue to fluorish on the electronic worldwide vine. Submit original short stories or novellas to be serialized on a daily basis to freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com and the editor will eventually get back to you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

SKY PIRATES:Part 4

by John Shirley




They hired two fast enta'tallies from the village near the woods, and rode the tall, galloping two-legged beasts toward the starcraft—tallies, the mounts were called, for short, with a profile like three-yard-tall human beings but with flattish, reptilian heads, triple-jointed arms ending in pincers, and enormous, leathery legs. From a good distance a tallie rider looked like a child riding piggy-backed on a human adult.

They rode the tallies across the fields, toward the windbreak of poplars and brush that here divided the Gollden estate from the Grelle.

Jann didn’t much like riding tallies: the saddles held one almost vertically in line with the animal’s spine, yet you felt you might at any time fall off backwards, and the ride was bone-jarring, rump-rawing.

Vonn a Vleet, however, was a great tallie rider, and much preferred them to the sky-herds—he made himself ride the behemoths, now and then, “because a man should conquer his fears”, and he showed no outward sign of terror when he did it, doubling with Jann. But Jann had seen Vonn’s white knuckles on the behemoth lines, his quiet relief on returning to the yielding soil of Paradine.

Now they leapt over fences and irrigation ditches, zig zagged between hay ricks and herds of stock, startling sheep into bounding away. They came to a dirt road that wended beside Glimcrack Creek, and followed it south till they were within sight of the windbreak.

Vonn signaled with his hand, in the mute gestures the S’Leorna used when hunting.

We will approach under cover. We will observe without being seen.

Why? Jann wondered. There were laws—the Kastillians might be getting away with bending them, but they would submit when confronted. They had to, really. Jann was, after all, a DemiLord, one of the fifteen most powerful men on this planet. They would have been instructed to show at least a modicum of respect to the local hierarchy. And they would not want to pay a fine to the Terran Authority for recklessness.

But again Jann deferred to Vonn and reined his tallie to a trot. They approached the starcraft slowly and indirectly.

Jann felt an almost perverse relief on seeing that the ship was still there. He could make out the mercuric gleam of its triple hemispheres between the tall green poplars; the breeze brought him a few murmurs from the ship’s crew, or perhaps passengers, and the oily smell of landing fuel.

Vonn signaled to dismount and they tied the beasts to a wiry shrub near a patch of green grass.

Vonn a Vleet took the lead, half crouched as he eased up to the windbreak of trees and scrub. In an open field just fifty yards on the other side of the brush-lined fence was a group of Kastillian soldiers, most of them listening to an officer reading from a wordboard, maybe giving out sentry and maintenance assignments; they were all male, in the patriarchal tradition of the Kastillians, most of them in chin-to-toe deep-blue EKCW uniforms— the acronym standing for Enforcement of Kastillian Collective Will. Kaswills, in the vernacular.

LCD letters marched along their epaulets and armbands, indicating their rank and medals. Most of them were armed with stropps; some carried microwave pulsers. Looming over them was the triple-rounded silvery bulk of the spacecraft, big as a Lapis Mall, its windows sealed. It was shaped something like a legless insect landed on its belly, with head, thorax and tail-section connected by complex tubes. Along a ramp up into a circular hatch in the “thorax” a couple of Kaswill Lowers herded three tallies, using electronlashes. The stolen tallies, raising their heads to give out their eerie wails of distress, were probably from the pastures of Gollden Manor.

Crouching beside Vonn and peering through the brush, Jann tensed with outrage. “Do you see? It’s said they like the taste of roast tallie. They’ve stolen at least three for their dining table! First they kill my behemoth and now they steal the Gollden’s stock!”

“Keep your voice down, boy,” Vonn hissed. “Yes they’ve killed your animal, they’ve stolen a few beasts—but ‘do not pursue the Stinger back to its Hive’.”

“Old sayings won't save our stock from these thieves,” Jann grumbled softly. Their conversation continued in whispers. “I don’t understand why we’re hiding. There is a treaty, the law is with us—and I am a DemiLord. I say we identify ourselves, Vonn, immediately. We demand the animals back-- and demand their landing papers. It’s likely they have no permissions whatever. If we emanate Kreitos, as you taught me, they'll respect our authority!”

“They just might be immune to our emanations of Kreitos,” said Vonn ruefully. “And of course they have no landing papers—not when they land in secret. But do you think they’ll let a couple of local bumpkins order them about? That's what they'll think, DemiLord or not. They’ll laugh in our faces—they may do worse. There are rumors of offworlders taking slaves on Paradine...”

“What? The Kastillians use slaves onboard ship, it’s said—but no one from Paradine could have been taken! We're protected by treaty! We have allies!”

Vonn shrugged. “I don’t know that it was the Kastillians. But then--why are they here?”

“Let's demand an explanation. We have the force of the treaty--we have the Terran League...”

“The Kastillians know full well that the Terran League will fight for us reluctantly, if at all. The balance of power between Earth and Kastillia is chancy, Jann.” Vonn turned him a narrow eyed look. “You didn’t read the System Histories I gave you?”

Jann looked at the Kaswills: Lower, Intermediate, Advanced and Higher orders, each order with its various sub-ranks, now spreading out to their various tasks around the starcraft. “I don’t think this is the time for a scholar’s examination.”

“This situation is the examination, boy—” He seemed to be counting the sentries, tracking their movements about the clearing.

“What do you think we should do, then?” Jann asked.

“Nothing. We will report this...”

Jann had a sickly feeling of disappointment in his mentor. Had the legendary warrior surrendered to the cowardice and cynicism of old age? "That will do no good. We need to confront them—find out what they're up to!"

Vonn shrugged, still watching the sentries around the starcraft. “They could claim anything. They could be up to anything. Security is an illusion. There is none.”

“You’re not hearing me, Vonn!”

“I tell you for the last time, keep your voice down, you fool!” Vann hissed. "I have reasons to avoid a confrontation. More than I have time to explain."

Jann suddenly felt like striking the older man—instead, he looked angrily away. The Kastillians were still at their enigmatic tasks, seeming unaware they were being watched.

Vonn glanced back as one of the tallies snorted and pulled free of its stake, shuffling toward forage. “That badly trained beast is going to wander into their line of sight and call attention to us.”

“The Kastillians may do a personnel scan at any moment,” Jann pointed out. “They will pick up our body signatures. We seem like skulkers behaving this way. We should present ourselves to them—once they know I’m a DemiLord...”

“No—I'll tell you what we'll do, boy—” He leaned nearer so that Jann could catch his whisper. “They're doing some repair work on the ship. They'll be here for awhile. I'll ride to the Free Ranchers, see how many armed men I can shame into coming—Probably won't need them but it's good to show strength. You go to the Manor, use the communicator to contact the Peacekeeper Station. Report an illegal landing, stolen livestock, the killing of your behemoth. Request a Peacekeeping Force. By midnight we'll have it resolved, one way or the other. We will demand reparations. Now just go—I'll meet you at the Manor.”

“But—they could commit any number of crimes in that time!"

“They’re putting up perimeter posts like they're planning to stay the night—so they're probably not getting ready for an expedition. Now go! Ride to the Manor, to the communicator! Quick, before they deploy their Personnel Scanners!”

Jann almost defied him. He was on the point of insisting on a meeting with the starcraft’s captain. Vonn would have to yield to insistence, if he was to remain in the service of Grelle Manor.

But a long habit of deferring to Vonn held Jann back. And at last he turned furiously away and stalked back to his tallie.

Moments later the two riders were thumping off in separate directions, Vonn a Vleet to the Free Ranches, Jann toward Grelle Manor...

Vonn had called him a fool. That grated.

And what about Liana—and Gollden manor? Those were the Gollden's tallies the Kastillians had taken. If he confronted these Kastillian raiders over it, demanded reparations, what could they do? He was a Paradine DemiLord—and if he got reparations, immediately, even got the tallies back before they were slaughtered, it might help him get the Baron's permission to marry Liana.

How would Liana a Gollden regard him if he stood by and allowed outworlders to raid her father’s tallie herd? Already she seemed distant from him.

And by the time Vonn got some kind of back-up for a confrontation with the Kastillians, the ship might have departed—Vonn was only guessing about the Kastillian plans to stay overnight. But if they were faced down now, they’d know that they were being watched, that steps were being taken.

Jann reined in his mount and turned to look back at the Kastillian ship. The three silvery arcs seemed once more to embody a great opportunity. Hadn't Vonn taught him to seize opportunities? He would not get too close to the Kastillians—just close enough to shout his demands. Once he had identified himself as a DemiLord they would surely not molest him. If they refused to respect his demands, he could ride away to the Manor—they were on foot except for the starcraft, and they would surely not rouse that great monstrous ship just to pursue him in anger. He could easily get away on the tallie if he needed to.

He found himself riding at first slowly, then more and more rapidly back toward the Kastillian spacecraft. As he approached a gap in a windbreak, he was aware of a certain inner alarum of fear and dismay. But he dismissed the feeling as a childish fear of the unknown, and spoke the command that made the tallie leap the fence, so that he came down squarely in view of the Kastillians.

A Kastillian shout of warning went up immediately, quickly followed by a muted siren that was half buzzer and half warble, and a dozen hostile faces turned to him from various quarters, in the shadow of the spacecraft, which now loomed above him like a great anomalous building.

Jann felt an impulse to turn and ride away but he quelled the panic and trotted his tallie a few steps closer to the nearest Kastillian officer. He reined in and ordered it into “Address Posture”-- a half turn and squat, leaning forward-- so that he could face the officer squarely, and not too far above him. Shouldn't be this close, he thought. But it was too late to back away—he'd look weak.

When the Kastillians saw that he was alone, and unarmed but for a crossbow, some of them laughed and babbled dismissively in their language. His comprehension of Kastillian dialect was weak and he understood only phrases here and there.

“...some farmer’s son...how ridiculous those beasts they ride...”

“...look he rides like a child playing at rumpity-back...”

Inwardly furious at their disrespect, his statement to the Kastillians in “System Wide”, was harsher than he had intended: “I am Jann a Grelle, DemiLord of Grelle Manor and a protector of Gollden Manor! I must first protest that you killed an elder behemoth of my skyherd, with wanton and proscribed weapons-fire in violation of treaty! I demand to see both your landing permissions and ownership papers for the beasts I saw driven into the ship but minutes ago!”

His own voice sounded cracked and reedy in his ears, and he felt his face burn when the Kaswills laughed at his demand.

The officer Jann had confronted was a tall, broad-shouldered, red-faced man with his eyebrows grown together. His wide mouth twisted into an amused sneer as he responded in System Wide. “Back home on Kastillia we have a way of dealing with children who make demands on their elders! We find the electronlash gets an improved response—except when it induces them to wet their diapers!”

Now all the Spacers laughed in one great roar, and Jann was forced to reach deep within for the stoic self-control Vonn had tried to teach him. “I spoke formally, and definitely, but I do not intend disrespect. You men landed here illegally—and you're bound under the Seventeenth Agreement to address my demands.”

As he spoke, three armed sentries hurried up to stand behind the officer; Jann was distantly aware that others were moving behind the tallie. Would they attack a DemiLord of Paradine?




Click Here for Part 5 of SKY PIRATES,
by John Shirley






FRIDAY, JULY 10: Johnny Strike's NIGHT FLAMERS

Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning when the FoFaSF hosts a short piece of post-Interzone flash fiction from Johnny Strike, author of the short story collection A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above and the novel Ports Of Hell, recommended by William S. Burroughs. Johnny Strike also happens to be one of the lead founders (guitar/vocals) of the 70s underground proto-punk band CRIME. NIGHT FLAMERS is sort of like the "title piece" from Johnny's short story collection.

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sanford Meschkow's
INEVITABLE

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE RECIDIVIST



Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE MEMORY SECTOR

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's
NOETIC VACATIONS

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)
GROUND PORK


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come
explore.

Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found here.


Johnny Strike's
AS YOU WISH



Johnny Strike's
NIGHT FLAMERS



Johnny Strike's
THE HOMELESS MUTANTS



Johnny Strike will beat you with his guitar
and leave you lying in the gutter wishing you
had never dared enter his under ground world
of fake passports, lucky amulets, rain soaked
hotels, and occult mystique. If you don't leave
nice comments under his story, he's sure to sic
his band CRIME on you. He also wrote the novel
Ports Of Hell (Headpress), recommended by
William S. Burroughs. You don't receive kudos
from William Lee himself unless you are the
epitome of cool. Besides, have you listened to
CRIME's album Exalted Masters? It was
released in 2007 on the Crime Music label,
on vinyl only, featuring a slew of their old
rare hits. Its real punk music from seasoned
veterans. Now go track yourself down a copy
before its out of print. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction is proud to host the story
that contains the line which titles his first
From Above (Rudos and Rubes).


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
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David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
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and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
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founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and
‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
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writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
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is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
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Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
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OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
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Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
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with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
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J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
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K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
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has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)