General Katutian stepped from her shuttle to survey the subjugated armies of her foe. Against advice, she cracked the seal on her helmet and breathed the sour air. She knew the power of symbolic gestures.
She admitted a grudging admiration for her enemy: appearing and disappearing at will, their brave but ineffectual rearguard actions. But fifty thousand slaves would bring handsome reward.
And then the sight of the massed ranks of Bethlussians shimmered and she realized that they were never there. It was all a chimera.
Her trophy slaves disappeared, and with them the planet. And with it, the atmosphere.
Robert Bagnall lives on the English Riviera, within sight of Dartmoor. His speculative fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, websites and anthologies since the early 1990s.
His novel ‘2084 – The Meschera Bandwidth’ and anthology of previously published short stories, ’24 0s & a 2′ are available from Amazon. He can be contacted via his blog at meschera.blogspot.co.uk.
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