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This story is set in the world of the novel Ship of Destiny, the March 2020 entry in Frank Chadwick’s Cottohazz series. Frank Chadwick is the New York Times number one best-selling nonfiction author of over two hundred books, articles, and columns on military history and military affairs, as well as over one hundred military and science fiction board and role-playing games. His game Space: 1889 was the first Steampunk game and remains a cult favorite. His other game writing credits include legendary fantasy game En Garde!, groundbreaking SF role playing game Traveller: The New Era, and many others. Chadwick’s SF novels include Cottohazz series novels Come the Revolution, How Dark the World Becomes, Chain of Command, and Ship of Destiny, as well as steampunk thriller The Forever Engine, all from Baen Books.

The Estate of the Honorable Arigapaa e-Lotonaa on the Planet Hazz'Akatu, about three hundred light years from Earth

Day 11, Tenmonth Waxing, Year 301 of the Cottohazz (28 December, 2133 Earth Dating)

Alex was crying—probably hungry. Marrissa unbuttoned her blouse, picked him up, and as he fed, she walked out onto the broad balcony on the east side of the main house. This close to Hazz'Akatu's equator, there were only two seasons: rain and dry. Although they were going into the rainy season, the skies were clear today. Aurora would have a smooth flight in. Marr looked across the east grounds. Sasha and Tweezaa were running laps on the track below, the track whose grey crushed stone surface traced a long oval around the two large topiary sculptures which hid surface-to-air missile launchers—not that anyone attempting an attack would be surprised by them. The ornately trimmed trees were meant to conceal the launchers from the family's view. Everyone knew they were there, but there was no need for a constant visual reminder of their necessity.

Sasha and Tweezaa rounded the near turn and ran past her below the balcony, both waving without breaking stride. human and Varoki, running in step. Where else but here? Marr smiled and waved back. A year ago, Tweezaa had struggled to keep up with Sasha. Now she clearly was holding back, letting him keep up with her. How could she have grown so fast?

A glint in the eastern sky caught Marissa's eye and, as she watched, it grew into an atmospheric shuttle on its approach path for the landing pad beyond the tree line. A ground car was already waiting there to bring the shuttle's passenger up to the house. As the craft flared to land, she pointed to it and turned Alex so he could see.

"Look, Alex. Your Auntie Aurora is coming to see you."

At least that's the excuse Aurora had given for the visit. Marr had her doubts.

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Les Johnson is a husband, father, NASA physicist, and author. Publishers Weekly noted that “The spirit of Arthur C. Clarke and his contemporaries is alive and well . . .” when describing his 2018 novel, Mission to Methone. His 2018 non-fiction book (with co-author, Joe Meany, Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World was reviewed in the journal Nature, excerpted in American Scientist and on Salon.com. His latest anthology, Stellaris: People of the Stars, coedited with Robert Hampson, was released by Baen Books in 2019. You may learn more about Les on his website: www.lesjohnsonauthor.com

The countdown was going according to plan, which shouldn’t be unusual, but Elaine had been involved in too many space projects to believe that any countdown, no matter how well the engineers planned, could proceed to launch without a hitch on the first try. But she had to admit, this one was going very smoothly.

Elaine scanned the status displays and saw that the first twenty chipsats were deployed from the seeder ship with their 10-square feet reflective graphene sails fully unfurled. Each of the tiny chipsats weighed less than a gram, about the same as a dollar bill. Each sail was attached by three tiny buckytubes that, if all went well, would soon be pushed to the limits of what materials science could do to protect them from the hellish environment that was about to be unleashed upon them.

When the countdown clock reached zero, a series of events beginning in the Andes mountains would send the chipsats on their way to a flyby of the Alpha Centauri star system in about twenty-five years—on the scale of true interstellar travel, this was practically the next day.

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Seventh Annual Contest for Best Original Fantasy Adventure Story To be Presented at NASFIC 2020 in Columbus, Ohio

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Over 170 titles from Baen Books to be published as audiobooks over the next three years

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Baen Ebooks is proud to announce an agreement to distribute the English translation of Judgment in Moscow by Vladimir Bukovsky on its retail ebook site, as well as offering a selection of other ebooks from Judgment in Moscow publisher, Ninth of November Press.

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J. J. Cragun takes home the top prize for his short story “Treason Properly.”

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Matt McHugh of New Jersey has won the grand prize in the 2019 Jim Baen Memorial Award competition for his short story "Burners."

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Baen Begins Selling Challenge Coins Through Baen.com

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When in the course of human events, in this case the passage of twelve years, it becomes necessary to change the look and feel of the company website . . . well, we do. We’ve tried to keep things Baenish and familiar to frequent users, and even more intuitive and helpful to new ones.

We’ve combined the ebooks and print books pages, so everyone can find everything they want in one place. (We will still be selling mostly ebooks here, our own Baen Books and those of other distinguished science fiction publishers, but we are also starting to dip our toe into swag merchandising as well! About which more later.) We added several filtering tools to make sorting through and searching for books more slick, and we’ve kept the ever popular “My Books” and “Not My Books” function.

We hope you’ll find the account interface more user friendly, and we’ve added a sidebar to the homepage we also hope you’ll find helpful in accessing the rest of the site.

Of course we’ve kept all the free stuff—the monthly stories and nonfiction, the extensive Teacher’s Guides, and the Baen Free Library. We hope you enjoy it, and we always welcome feedback. Feel free to stop by Toni’s Table at Baen’s Bar or for technical problems Administrivia or simply email us directly at baensupport@principledtechnologies.com.

And finally, a big shout-out to our Barfly beta testers! Love you guys. . . .

Good reading!

Toni Weisskopf
Publisher, Baen Books