Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

The Ancestor

by Kat Beyer

The first time Dana Yamamoto seated herself on a College horse, she had a fleeting daylight vision: she was riding south down a steep slope, holy Mount Fuji in the narrow view of her helmet, her armor heavy on her shoulders.  She blinked; the vision was gone; she didn’t remember it until that night in Hall, when someone passed her a message from her mother the General.  She thought then, ‘I should ask Mother about that.  Some ancestor of mine, perhaps?’

She felt she might even guess who, as she felt sure the warrior riding down the slope had been a woman.  One of the greats, maybe—Tomoe Gozen, or Nakano Takeko?  Were they in her lineage?

It was spring on Skye; Dana had been at the Women’s Battle College for nearly a year.  The next day she sat with the reins in her hands, looking across the bay to the hills beyond, while her horse shifted beneath her and stamped one hoof, sensing her mood.  She wanted to turn him, jump the fence and ride straight across the moor to the Red Cuillins, firing arrows and practicing saddle cuts all the way, howling like a mad warrior.  Had her family had a war cry?  She thought again of asking her mother.

It felt good, the weight of the shield, the bow and the quiver on her back, the padded wooden sword thrust in her belt.  These weren’t the weapons of a modern soldier, it was true, but her mother had sent her here to learn more than modern soldiering.  She waited, daydreaming, while everyone else arrayed themselves and mounted; waited some more, daydreaming, until she realized Dr Somerville had been speaking for several minutes.

Oh gods, what was she supposed to be doing?

Dr Somerville rode towards the gate.

“We will proceed at a trot, remaining on the trail to avoid laming our horses.  When attacked, we will strive to give good account of ourselves.  Please take a moment to check the padding on your weapons as I would prefer nobody lose an eye today.”

She looked them over, her hand on the gate.

“At the ready, then.  I will wait, and follow you.”

They rode out the gate.  The vision Dana had forgotten returned again; in the pounding of the hooves she thought she heard a woman laughing through her helmet.

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