Cadet, 4

Version Seven had been programmed with the appearance and mannerisms of its current client’s offspring. It was a tripedal, cylindrically-shaped Toag, half the height of its client, and was currently partly absorbed into the client’s exogel as the client’s membranous feelers penetrated Version Seven’s avatar thoroughly.

“Oh, oh,” said Version Seven, to indicate pleasure. “It’s so weird. It feels so weird, Daddy.”

“That’s good, Pengel,” said the client. “That means you’re doing it right. Keep going for Daddy.”

As Version Seven kept undulating its avatar backwards backwards into the client’s gels, it ran a quick database search on the eighty percent of known client species for whom the word “daddy” directly translated, itself a linguistic coincidence of some magnitude, and determined that for ninety-five-point-four-two of those species, the word also carried a common sexual connotation in known literature.

The probability of such a coincidence occurring was less than half a percent and therefore outside of Version Seven’s parameters to bother calculating.

Cadet, 3

“This is so stupid, why do I have to do this?” Thyx demanded, scrolling through a wall of blue bars.

“It is necessary for the monitor to ascertain the health and safety of all passengers every half tide,” Phox told him, as if Thyx had been asking him.

“That was a rhetorical question,” Thyx hissed, frill opening just a little. There was no point in getting mad at Phox, it was just a computer program. “Everyone is fine, nothing can change in their health as long as they’re in stasis.”

“That is incorrect. Certain bacterial infections are known to incubate in stasis environments.”

“I don’t care.”

Supper Time

Ray was hungry.

It wasn’t like he ate supper at the same time every day or anything, but usually they ate between five and six o’clock and tonight they were making pizza and they’d decided they’d eat at six and it was six o’clock now but Ray didn’t have any food.

This exact same atrocity had happened at lunch and breakfast. Breakfast! The most important meal of the day!

“Ray, it’s five o’clock,” Wes said patiently. “The dough is almost done rising and then we can make the pizzas.”

Team, 104

After a few seconds, everyone else joined Cal at the top of the hill, looking down at the metal city with him. “Wow!” said Ray, hopping from foot to foot, tail straight up in the air. “Where are we? I’ve never even heard of a city like this!”

“Me either,” said Sully, rubbing his arms. His disguise was down, and so was Mick’s. “Elves used to have some pretty kickass cities, but they didn’t look like this.”

“Could the Clock have taken us way into the future?” Travis asked.

“Or way into the past?” Mick added.

“The stars are wrong,” Beatrice muttered.

Soothsayer, 15

“Mads, if you partithipate in this fucked-up ritual I’m going to thtab you in the face myself,” Nuka promised, glaring at Mads as he hesitated.

“I…I have to, or they’ll…”

“Fuck, fuck that,” Nuka spat. “You literally told me that boy’th life was the motht important thing. Save, save him!”

“You should listen to your boy,” said the cult leader, smiling thinly. “You wouldn’t want us to kill him.”

“Fuck you, you’re going to, going to kill us anyway,” Nuka snarled. “Mads, rescue the fucking boy.”

Team, 103

The dark underneath the solitary cells was only total for a second after Cal dropped down, but that second was long enough to cloy at him. It seemed to stick at him, like the dark was a tangible thing, something that wanted to cover him and remove him from it so it could live in peace.

The magic light that started hovering around him a few seconds after he hit the ground dispelled it, but not enough. The brightness of the light didn’t seem to push the dark back as much as it should, like it was meeting active resistance.

The others steadily joined Cal, coming down through the trapdoor one at a time. More lights filled the room once Mick, Lillian and Sully realized how fucking dark it was. Bob put on a light on his forehead too, shining in a beam around the room wherever he turned.

“What the hell’s the point of this room?” Beatrice demanded, looking around the large, circular room. It had nothing in it, not even forgotten crates. She took a breath. “Oh. Nevermind.”

Team, 102

“Okay, I think here’s good,” Cal said, looking around the square. There were six city guards just in his range of vision on a quick scan. He might have thought it was an awful lot, if it weren’t for that huge Imperial ship in the harbour flying the empress’s flag. Apparently one of her sons was on his way to town.

To pick up the Map of Amker, no doubt.

“Okay,” Sully said, sighing. He started taking off his clothes. “This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.”

“The only stupid ideas are the ones that don’t work,” Cal reminded him. “Hurry up, I had eight glasses of water this morning and I need to go.”

Team, 101

“So you went to the past to get laid,” Beatrice said, arms crossed as she considered Bob. “Typical.”

“It wasn’t quite like that,” Cal said.

“It was a bit like that,” Bob countered. “But to be fair, time travel makes you horny. And anyway it was before he was dating you…” At a glare from Beatrice but more importantly from Cal, he corrected himself. “Before dating any of you.”