“Any luck?” he asked. She hesitated. She was trying not to find what she knew would be there. And as she passed the light over the stone carvings, she saw it: a bare spot where the inscriptions, lost secrets of ancient Menurabi, were now truly lost, and a circular marking carved over it instead. She pulled out a mid-sized book from her traveler’s bag, holding it in both hands, and recited magic words; her eyes glowed, and in her field of vision, the magical forces of the world were laid bare and visible. The arcane mark shone a dark blue and was indeed a glyph of a solar eclipse with a stylized zigzag, either lightning coming down or a toothy maw of darkness swallowing the sun.
Chan was feeling cooped-up in the laboratory. It wasn’t that he minded working for the professor, mad though he was, but the strange devices he made, often with no practical purpose (besides destroy everything, somehow) made him feel a little disconnected. He might read the news about the outside world, or see social media posts from this friend or that friend, but usually it was just work. The lab takes up too much of my time, Chan thought. He looked up from his printouts to the clock, and when he saw it was almost noon, he stomach growled, as if trained, on cue.
A sleepy woman pushes off from her desk, gliding over in her rolling desk chair to the screen with the flashing icon. “! NEO detected. Preliminary analysis rating at 10 on the Torino scale. Verification required.” Half-asleep she reads the message without understanding, once, twice, but by the third time she wakes up. A lot of people will be woken up, soon, for what the message means.
How things could be … * * * Chip walked through the door beneath the sign that read “Hull’s Shop”. It was a normal rectangular door, and looked mismatched against the architecture of the building: Some newfangled biomimicry nonsense you see more nowadays, Chip had thought when he first saw them being built, nearly …
Xeric scratched his short beard. The young man thought for a long time on how to word his wish. You had to be careful with djinn, he thought, and efreet were even more dangerous than them. In the dark basement storeroom, a pair of fiery red eyes gazed impatiently through the smoke. What appeared to be a horned man had a grin on his face, trying to look trustworthy. It worked surprisingly well.
Kara woke up and, yawning, got out of bed. She waved her hand vaguely towards the domestic robot, who had only just opened the door to her room. She was already awake, even though it was early for most other people, and could see its android silhouette in the morning light.