Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018
The evacuation of Heffe VIII occurred when Jeaunia was only a pup. Her memories of waiting in the long lines on the hot spaceport tarmac were dim. She did remember playing games with her cousins on the crowded flight to Crossroads Station afterward, and she thought she could remember the view of the swollen Heffen sun through the spaceship’s rear windows. She couldn’t be sure, though. The bloody smear of red giant sunlight in her memories could have been a fabrication. She had been very young. Continue reading “The Promise of New Heffe”
Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, July 2017
Jeko stared out the window at the asteroids and curled her elephantine trunk. She didn’t want to be in class with a bunch of dumb Heffen kids and newly sentient robots. The Heffen kids acted like stereotypical canine aliens and kept to their packs, and the robots weren’t really kids like her… They showed up one week super-naive and talking all stilted, like computers, and a few weeks later they were smarter than… well… computers, and they graduated out.
Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, November 2017
Maradia was working on the specs for a free-flying, zero-G maintenance unit when she heard a customer come into her storefront. She was glad to put the work aside — it was almost entirely a hardware job with barely any creativity to it. She left the workshop area and entered the storefront to see a tired looking woman with bags under her eyes and a perfect, golden-haired child nestled on her hip.
Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, May 2017
The asteroid amphitheater rocked with applause as the suspended final note of Star Shaker’s encore vibrated the atmo-bubble over everyone’s heads. The reptilian pop-star bowed and spotlights shone off of her rainbow-colored scales, making her glitter like the stars all around.
Chirri had loved Star Shaker’s music since she was a little kitten. Once, she’d even shaved off her fur and drawn little Vs all over her naked skin, hoping they’d make her look like she had scales. It had looked awful, but she’d been too young to care. All she knew was that it had made her feel closer to her hero.
Everything felt right when Chirri listened to Star Shaker’s golden throated singing.
The applause died down, and the other fans — all sorts of aliens, from the fuzzy to the feathered, antlered, or scaly like Star Shaker herself — began leaving their seats, heading to the airlocks at the back of the atmo-dome. But Chirri didn’t want it to be over. She stayed in her seat, clutching her bag of supplies — snacks, water, vid-com — hoping to catch one more glimpse of Star Shaker.
Of course, it was the fleet of Roboweiler guards who cleared the stage. It was silly to think Star Shaker would come back out, but Chirri couldn’t let go of the feeling she’d had while watching her hero, dancing so close, singing in the same air — real sound waves from Star Shaker’s silver forked tongue directly to Chirri’s eager pointed ears.
Reluctantly, Chirri stood and started edging her way back through the rows of seats, each pawstep taking her farther away from those perfect moments during the concert. She sighed, accepting that the magic had melted away, and it was time to return to her normal life.
Then Chirri saw her: Star Shaker’s scales were simply silver-gray without the stage lights, and she was small — a full head shorter than Chirri. But it was her. Alive and real and strutting toward Chirri with a Roboweiler on either side of her. The Roboweilers’ mechanical red eyes glowed, menacingly.
Chirri stumbled backward, nearly falling over a seat and tangling her hindpaws in her long tail. When she recovered herself, she could feel that her fur had fluffed out. There were only a few seconds until Star Shaker would pass her on the way to the airlocks, and there would only be a moment then — but there would be a moment. What could Chirri say to her hero in a moment?
Chirri remembered the snacks in her bag — she was a baker and had brought some of her signature Aldebaran sugar cookies. It was stupid… but maybe she could give Starshaker a cookie. Something she’d made for someone who’d made so much for her… Because Star Shaker’s music always felt like it was made only for her. She knew it sounded that way to everyone… That was Star Shaker’s appeal; she was a reptilian alien, but her heart could have been anything — fuzzy, feathered, photosynthetic — she spoke to them all.
But it didn’t matter. Chirri wanted to give her hero something, as a kind of thank you. She dug one of the cookies out of her bag; it was star-shaped and glittered with grains of Aldebaran sugar. Chirri had made the batch especially for this concert. She’d been so excited. And it had been everything she dreamed.
Chirri held out the cookie. Her eyes locked with her hero’s, and the small reptilian alien said, “What is this felinoid doing here? I thought you guys cleared this place out.”
The Roboweiler to the right snarled and advanced, probably just to warn Chirri to keep her distance from the pop-star, but its mechanical teeth startled Chirri so much that she tripped all the way over the seat this time. She landed splayed on the asteroid amphitheater’s floor, ears askew, tail crimped beneath her, and star cookie smashed.
By the time Chirri dusted herself off, Star Shaker and the Roboweilers were well past her. The moment was gone. The moment had been horrible. Chirri relived it — seeing herself over and over again, tripping awkwardly, all dignity lost in front of the one being she most admired.
Chirri’s ears flattened and her whiskers shivered. She looked down at the crumbles of sugar cookie in her paw. Maybe she wouldn’t bake that recipe again for a while.
In fact, she didn’t think she would listen to Star Shaker’s music for a while either. At least, until the memory of this night faded. Because she needed that moment to go away, and she couldn’t imagine hearing Star Shaker’s voice without thinking about it.
The stars still stretched out all around the asteroid amphitheater, but for Chirri, the world had become much smaller, and nothing sounded right. At all.
Originally published in Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, November 2017
Diamma’s scaly green tail curled to one side, then the other, swaying uneasily, as she stood in the open hatch of her spaceship. Crystals of pink snow caught in her fiery, leonine mane as the flakes drifted down from the powder blue clouds of this world. Snomoth. For years, it had been a number in the registry on her ship; somewhere she would eventually go. For the last few weeks, it had been a dot of light on the main viewscreen. Now it was a faintly pink snowball, the color of cherry blossoms in the early spring, stretched out before her, waiting to freeze her toes when she stepped down from the hatch.
Commander Bill Wilker’s angular muzzle split into a wide Collie grin, and he smoothed down his ruff of fur that spilled regally out of the collar of his Tri-Galactic Navy uniform. “That’s a goddamned beautiful lookin’ planet,” he said. Continue reading “Questor’s Gambit”
Originally published in Inhuman Acts: A Collection of Noir, September 2015
Captain Pierre Jacques twitched his naked ears and swished his bare, pink tail as he stepped into the lumo-bay, a large, empty room with hexagonal, blue grid-lines on the walls. Even though he was a hairless Sphynx cat, Captain Jacques always held an air of dignity. No other cat or dog wore a Tri-Galactic Navy uniform with greater aplomb, but today Captain Jacques wasn’t wearing his uniform. He was dressed in a pin-striped suit and a floor-length, tan trench coat, split down the back. Continue reading “Danger in the Lumo-Bay”
Originally published in Luna Station Quarterly, Issue 020, December 2014
It was Avian Night at the All Alien Cafe. The avian population of Crossroads Station wasn’t large, but they were vocal and social. The double winged Eechies and the puff-feathered Rennten could always be counted on to attend, since they’d evolved as colony dwellers. However, occasionally, even a traditionally solitary, long-legged Ululu would show up and regale the crowd with stories of how his people had built high-pressure nests inside all the gas giants in a thirty light-year radius of Crossroads Station before humans even noticed them. Continue reading “The Little Red Avian Alien”
Originally published in Stories of Camp RainFurrest, September 2011
Any human in the room would have seen an oversized koala bear, a bushy red-wolf, a long-tailed, green lizard, and a large blue fish wearing a diving helmet, floating bizarrely above his barstool. But there were no humans in the room. It was the All Alien Cafe on the interstellar meeting point known as Crossroads Station. Continue reading “Where the Heart Is”
Originally published in The Furry Future, January 2015
The air was too cold and the gravity too strong. But, Druthel liked the cave-like architecture. He was on the moon-world of Kong-Fuzi, a naked rock without even an atmosphere — only a few small atmo-domes, a scattering of boxy, airtight buildings, and a subterranean tunnel complex connecting them all. It circled the planet Da Vinci, capital of the Human Expansion, and it hosted the renowned and arrogantly named Wespirtech, the Western Spiral Arm Institute of Technology. Continue reading “Lunar Cavity”