“Reminiscent of early Heinlein … Exceptional!” —OtherRealms
“Breathless adventure…Entertaining, thoughtful, excellent!” —Newsday
“Claremont has a talent for action.” — Publishers Weekly
From the award-winning, bestselling creator of Marvel Comics most beloved X-Men stories and characters, comes a tale of courage under fire, friendships tested to the breaking point, an adventure in space, our last unconquered country, The High Frontier:
The brass called it a by-the-book mission. Lt Nicole Shea was too green to know that in space, there is no such thing. Here’s the account of the supply ship Wanderer, and what it found on Wolfe Station, deep within the asteroid belt. This wasn’t no milk-run, even though it was Lt. Shea’s FirstFlight
From the best-selling comic book writer of all time, and science fiction’s Beth Fleisher, comes a dark, contemporary fantasy rich with all the characters and plot-twists Claremont’s X-Men stories are known for:
Cass Dunreith lives the writer’s life in hipster Brooklyn, loves too hard, drinks a bit too much, and is always on deadline. But once a year she sheds all that, joins her old college friends, and dons the garb of Lady Sioban, King’s Champion, known to one and all for her prowess with the sword, and a heart that no-one’s ever won. Weekend warriors descend on a campground in Pennsylvania, to shed their grown-up selves and wander into the world of make-believe, play-acting the medieval life as kings and pages, buxom courtesans and chivalrous knights, culminating in a huge mock-battle. But this year someone has unleashed a potent curse: The Wild Hunt, grim-faced warriors from the depths of legend, descend on the camp. Suddenly Cass finds herself in a world where the swords have edges and people can die. Only one person has the courage, the honour, and the heritage to stand between her friends’ fantasy and a very real bloodbath: herself.
by Chris Claremont
Copyright © ClearMountain Creatives LLC
Was that doubt I heard in his voice? Did he really think the odds were that high? He turned his gaze full on me, almost as though I’d spoken aloud. “Yes, child, I am that concerned. You’re acting on impulse, charging in blind,” he made a face and snorted in mockery. “Same as Yellow George.” Another reference to Custer, this one showing no mercy to the man who’d led his command to their death. “Wherein d’you see that as being smart?”
“Can’t call the police, Gran’pa,” I told him flat, standing my ground. “D’you want I should do nothing? Would you, in my place?”
“There’s a time for daring, little girl,” he shot back quietly, “but also for knowing when to take care. I’d like to figure, if I do something so supremely stupid as this, I’d also know how to handle myself.”
“You think I don’t?” I couldn’t help sounding snotty; what he just said struck way too close to home.
“Words speak for themselves, JD. This isn’t the time for hot blood; that’s what’ll get you killed.”
I couldn’t help what came out next, or the bitter passion that gave the words their edge: “D’you really think anyone’ll care?”
“Your friends … ” he began.
“You know what I mean.”
His eyes flashed; the way I’d spoken, those words had gone too far.
“You sass your elders, Juliana Delcourt Duran, you’d best be prepared to take the consequences.”
I knew he was talking about a whole lot more than this little exchange.
“I’m not trying to play some kind of hero or anything, I’m not stupid. But what’s happening with the kids in school is really weird. I look at some of them and things just feel – wrong. T’ hear them talk though, you’d think they were having the richest time.”
“You tempted t’ follow their lead?”
“The way they make me feel?” I shook my head vehemently. “No thank you, sir, no way.” Then I sighed. “But my friends, they see things differently. They’re tempted.” I thought a moment, mostly of the conversations I’ve been having with my friend ‘Becca, hearing again the eager, almost desperate desire in her voice as she spoke of the game, and I came just like that to my final decision. I signified it with a simple shrug. “I figure I’ll take the lead and find out what’s really there.”
“And then?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Dunno. I haven’t a clue.”
Great-Gran’pa nodded. “Fair answer, better’n I expected.”
That compliment made me smile. Great-Gran’pa didn’t give them often, especially when it came to business.
I looked out from where we sat, towards the eastern plains. This was high country, framed by the Rockies, where the flatlands in the distance lay better than a mile above sea level and the mountain slope where we were perched, close to another mile beyond that. The peaks themselves rose even higher.
A decent brook cut across the slope off to the right, fairly wide and surprisingly deep in spots, even when it wasn’t flushed to bursting by summer snowmelt. The water was fresh and clean as could be and farther down towards the flats there were fish galore, ripe for the catching, provided you kept a fair eye peeled for the not so occasional hungry bear.
Here, I hiked, I climbed, I swam in the big pond up by Great-Gran’pa’s house; he even let me ride his horses, once I’d grown big enough and learned how to properly care for them. I so loved it here.
Nothing at all like home.
Quick as that thought came to mind, I tossed it aside. Some things, you filed under “dreams.” Others went back into the bin labeled “reality.”
I sensed tension close beside me. Great-Gran’pa wasn’t the slightest bit relaxed; his eyes never stopped moving, sweeping back and forth across the immense view below us, searching for the slightest thing out of place. His Henry rifle lay at rest across his lap, a gun that was almost as long as I was tall, seemingly at ease – until you noted that his right hand was resting on the grip, the proper finger’s-reach from both hammer and trigger.
“Great-Gran’pa, is something wrong?” Five words, and just like that my voice lost all its strength; all of a sudden, I was sounding girly and scared.
“Force of habit, child, no more’n that. Sure now you’ve everything you need?”
“Won’t know that for sure ‘til I get there.” Unspoken was the thought that was plain to us both: and by then, it’ll be too late.
I finished the last stitches on my wrap and shook it out. I already wore the trousers; pulling on the top would complete the network. Just before I started, I took a moment to look from me to him and back again. Outwardly, even after three full generations, you could see Great-Gran’s mark on me dominating all the rest. He was Top Soldier of the 10th Cavalry, senior to all the other non-commissioned officers; she was Cheyenne. My skin and hair followed her coloring; the one was russet, a bit like mountain leaves in autumn. My hair was black as black could be and hung so straight off my skull it was like each strand had its own individual weight attached to hold it properly down.
The wrap was a smooth, snug fit, long-legged, long-sleeved, fitting easily over my shorts and t-shirt.
“What now?” he asked, genuinely intrigued.
“Microfibers,” was my instinctive reply, only to realize as I spoke the word that he likely didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. “Imagine the telegraph, Great-Gran’pa, or electricity lines, only a whole lot smaller and able to carry a whole lot more stuff. They’re integrated into the thread that forms the cloth. That in turn draws its power from the biological energy of my body. Each element of the base network has its own specific function: one provides the cloak to hide me, another the sensor stream to record whatever’s around me, while another acts as armor to protect me.”
“That cloth’ll protect you?”
His words made me grin. And that, I knew the moment we first met, I got totally from him.
“You’d be surprised what my cloth’ll do.”
... to be continued