Conversation with a mechanical horse

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Conversation with a mechanical horsefantasy novelette

Nico the Mage took his family, his heritage, his freedom. Now, captured and caged, Markus’ very life hangs in the balance. To kill time, he tells his life’s story to Barno, a passing Automaton horse. .

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Publisher’s Weekly reviewed Writers of the Future Anthology, Vol.XX:
The human element remains at all times paramount in the 15 SF stories gathered in the 20th edition of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future series, at this point the most enduring forum to showcase new talent in the genre. […] The series continues to be a powerful statement of faith as well as direction in American science fiction.

Conversation with a mechanical horse

 

As he got up and grabbed his sheathed sword Tomaz was laughing. He seemed off guard and had his back to me. I jumped off the haystack, one hand around my scabbard, the other on my hilt, unsheathing the blade as I landed. This time, at last, I almost beat Tomaz to the draw. But he wasn’t Swordmaster of the Keep for nothing.

With incredible speed and dexterity, he dodged without looking around, correctly predicting the direction of my attack, and drew his own sword in time to parry my second attack. Locking my blade under his for a second, he looked me in the eyes and grinned.

“Not bad, young Master, not bad at all!”

I flicked my wrist, freeing my blade, and our exercise resumed under Father’s approving eye. After another hour, Tomaz’ greater experience and endurance began to tell. I signaled end-of-training and withdrew to one of the embrasures in the curtain wall to watch Tomaz work with the guard, demonstrating some techniques for fending off multiple attackers at once.

Then the breakpoint came, and nothing was ever the same again.

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