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As part of the first manned mission to Mars, Philip knew he would be part of history. But after the accident left him alone, with no way to contact Earth, he assumed he would be not only the first person on Mars, but the last.

He tried to find any way to survive. Most of the supplies were lost in the accident. He had food for a while, if you could call it food. But long-term survival would require some terraforming. He needed to find a water source.

As he arrived at the nearest valley, he examined the surface to see if there was any evidence of past water, and where it might have gone. But what he found was ... curious.

Some fibrous tissue. A rope? No. A net. If he didn't know better, he'd think somebody was fishing here. But, that was impossible. Even if there had been life, including both marine and intelligent land-based life, this net couldn't be more than 150 years old. And 150 years ago, we certainly would've been able to see lakes and villages on the Martian surface. This is impossible. It's something else. A strange rock formation, or something.

"Excuse me."

He jumped. He hadn't heard a voice for days. Now there was a woman standing right above him.

"What are you doing out here? And in that ancient suit?"

"What? I just got here. Who are you?"

"Alara. Pleasure to meet you. And you are?"


"Philip! How funny! You've got such a silly old-fashioned name and you're wearing that ancient suit, like you see in the movies about the first Martians, and when they settled here. You know, like before they adapted to the climate, and before they destroyed the climate. Your parents must be old fashioned to give you a name like that. Why don't we head back underground together and you can tell me why you're wearing such a silly costume. Are you an actor?"

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I stood before the great beast that had terrorized the small fishing village for months. The village elder had messaged the capital, saying that a giant, rabid halcyon had been attacking them.

I suppose a halcyon is the closest thing that these people might recognize. But this bird was no halcyon, calming the winds and the waves, helping the fisherman.

No, this firedrake was far from its home. And it was angry. And, they couldn't see it, but it was also scared.

Thankfully, they hadn't called for a knight. A knight would've just cut the beast down.

No, in their confusion, they had thankfully asked for me, the duke's chief birder, although most just called me the bird whisperer.

I could understand and help all avians, including this lost and scared firedrake.

It took time. I had to teach it to trust me. Rather, I had to teach her to trust me. In time, she told me her name. There's no way to write it unfortunately, and I couldn't pronounce it. She let me call her Branwen, "Blessed Raven", and she chose a draconian name for me.

By this point, she no longer frightened the village, and was no longer frightened by the village. She even thought about staying. They had come to respect her.

But she had family. She needed to see them again. So, we left together. I knew how to get back to her land. I'd been there before. I'd even met her village elder.

But before she left, she promised to return. They would miss her, this strange halcyon that had come to mean so much to them.

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I've been using this account as my primary for about a week now, and I'm think I'm settled on using it for the foreseeable future, so I guess it's time to do another post.

I'm a dad of four kids, and a web developer. I have a college degree in (or ) and had aspirations of being an actor. I kind of fell into web development as a career. It was a hobby back in high school, and I just needed to pay some bills after college, so I ended up doing this.

I always have aspirations to do other things, but for now, I'm pretty happy spending most of my time as a dad and husband.

Some day, I'd like to get back into , or maybe do some . I also enjoy and will, from time to time, post some , usually from somebody's .

I love , and usually watch at least one episode nearly every day. I like all really, though, as well as . I used to read a lot, but find I don't have as much time or mental capacity for it as I used to. I also enjoy watching , and have really been enjoying the new episodes of lately.

Feel free to follow me if you think we have similar interests, and I may follow you back, if I think likewise. πŸ‘‹


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Merlin has finally emerged from the castle.

Nobody had been able to breach the walls in the centuries since he'd entered. His magical protection was too powerful.

No one's quite sure how long he's been in there. It's been longer than the stories have been recorded. Most people didn't even believe he was actually there; just a myth that old wives told one another.

But now that he has emerged, nobody could doubt any longer.

But, what has kept him in there for so long? Some say that he had cast such a powerful spell, he's needed these many centuries to rest.

But really, it's was just clinomania. And since he's been FaceTiming with a new therapist, he finally felt ready to get out of bed.

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The warriors had already left the planet. They conquered the aliens, razed cities, and then left, as usual.

And now we were sent in to go through the wreckage and salvage remaining usable resources, as usual.

The warrior caste never really respected us. We were the "clean-up crew", but those of us in the reclamation caste knew that without our work, our way of life, our whole civilization, would be gone. If the warriors simply destroyed planets and we never came in to make use of their spoils, we'd all eventually just have to go back to our own planet, and only use what she provided us. And since our many wars had put her on life support, that wasn't even an option any more. We couldn't support our civilization's needs without our caste figuring out how to make use of the resources the warriors just ignored.

In any case, this world wasn't that interesting. The warriors had certainly conquered more advanced civilizations before. They didn't even have a real name for their planet. We'd translated many of their languages so far. Some of them called their planet "Globe", while some just called it "Dirt", which was strange since only about 30% of it was covered in dirt.

My team was going through an archipelago in the western edge of their largest ocean. And then we discovered something very interesting. In the midst of one of the heavily battled areas, we found one of their defeated warriors, wearing a very interesting battle suit. An inscription on the suit read "γ‚ΉγƒΌγƒ‘γƒΌζˆ¦ιšŠ", which we translated as Super Squadron. Couldn't be all that super if they were defeated.

But, for the fun of it, we tried on the suits. The aliens were about the same size as us, so it fit pretty well.

Well, these are no ordinary battle suits. The abilities it gave us were incredible, and when combined, gave us access to an incredibly powerful warship.

I honestly don't know how our warriors defeated them. But, we decided to keep these quiet, store them away. They might come in handy in the future.

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How long had we been chasing that whale? Every time we thought we had it, it got away. It pulled men under the waters with it. Half the crew is sleeping with Davy Jones.

And we've gone far, far from port. We've lost track of the shore. The stars are unfamiliar. Will we ever get back to Otago Harbor?

Where has that blasted whale brought us? I've never seen that lighthouse before. It's wrong somehow. These cliffs are completely unfamiliar. Are we even still in the South Pacific, or have we made it to the River Styx?

The Wellerman will not come.

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I've been here, on my island, alone, for years. It's how I've always wanted it.

When I finally got here, I took apart the ship. I used the wood to build my cabin. I saved the lifeboat to putter around the island and go fishing.

I've been very happy on my island, all by myself, for the past fifteen years. I'm comfortable and safe. A typhoon every once in a while, but never anything too bad.

Tonight, I was sitting in my front room, reading Of Mice and Men for the 200th time. I stood up, and looked out the window.

Was I seeing something? Was that really a person, standing on my dock?

I thought I wanted solitude. I thought I'd been happy this whole time. But as I looked out, and saw another person for the first time in so long, I began to weep. Tears of joy, my heart overflowing. I would not be alone anymore.

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T. L. Ford (@[email protected]) Designers & Developers