Now until the 11th of May, The Five Elements Anthology is available at Amazon…for free. Just click on the link below to enjoy some of the best science fiction short stories by some of Oregon’s most talented writers.
Want a sample? Sure thing Hear’s a bit of my humble contribution:
Badges of Authority
Clayton J. Callahan
Lord Rodger gazed out the window of his apartment on Alexandria Station wondering, as he often did, if humanity had any chance out there in the black. At least the view was awe inspiring. The planet Tlaloc rotated gracefully 450 kilometers below, its sun cresting the horizon, sending diffuse beams of red light refracting through the oxygen-neon atmosphere—spectacular. Just then, however, his attention focused on the 50,000 ton warship now docking near the station’s central hub. A bad way to start a week if ever there was one. It was Sunday, January 30th, 3025 AD, by coincidence the anniversary of his first marriage.
“Do we have visitors?” Sheela asked as she rolled over on the bed.
Rodger turned and looked over his shoulder; Lady Sheela was well into her fifties and still beautiful in every way. A good woman from a fine family. Naturally, she was from a fine family, her father a count, the marriage arranged to elevate Rodger’s family back on Capital. True, his mother advanced to dame soon after the wedding, but there were other reasons for the marriage as well. After the death of Rodger’s first spouse, his mother thought Sheela would help him get back on his feet. And indeed, she had. Lady Sheela was as good a partner as he could have hoped to find, smart, loyal and most important of all, a good friend.
“My dear,” he sighed. “I regret to inform you, it’s the Agamemnon. Duke Flavious’s flag ship has come to pay us a visit.”
She sat up in the bed. “Duke Flavious? What would a duke be doing at a frontier outpost like this?”
He shrugged. “I’m sure I have no idea, my lovely. But I expect we’ll find out soon.”
She rose out of bed and advanced on the closet. “This is no time to wear your service uniform with those faded epaulets.” She reached for the purple coat, resplendent with medals and decorations. “I had your new braid sewn into the collar, but the pants still have the soldier’s red stripe, not the gold of a sector governor.”
Lord Rodger smiled. He’d been sector governor for over ten years now and had added only gray hair and a few wrinkles to his ensemble. But out here, few would recognize the proper marks of imperial rank even if he did wear the correct colored stripe. “I think that will do. He’s not likely here to pull a surprise uniform inspection.”
Lady Sheela gave a sardonic snort. “Inspections of any kind have been in short supply these past years. Coups on the other hand, they’ve been rather common.”
“What?” he said. “Only thirteen coups in twenty years. How bad could that be?”
“Bad enough when four of them have been in the past eighteen months,” she replied. “Earth vendors must be selling ‘season tickets’ to Imperial coronations by this point.”
“Capital, dear.” He admonished. “It’s called ‘Capital’ now. First Edict of Empress Mi Lin the XI.”
“Capital then. You always did know how to use your words carefully, Rodg.” She looked him in the eye. “Use them carefully now. I commanded a warship or two in my day. That dreadnought could knock Alexandria from the sky with only half its arsenal.”
“I will, my dearest. Stay here; I’ll deal with his Grace, the Oaf of Terra, and see what reason he’s selected for this visit to our humble corner of the galaxy.”
She smiled. “Capital, Rodg. He’s the Oaf of Capital.”
Chuckling, he replied, “Too right, darling.”