1. Life pops up sporadically across the vast desert, clustered around oases of water flavored with ancestral magic.
2. There’s an ancient corded phone hanging on my aunt’s wall that only rings when someone dies.
3. Killing one nanobot is easy… assuming you notice it’s there. The problem is you don’t notice, at least not until the damned things have multiplied to the point you have to EMP the entire complex.
4. Out the port window the stars smear across the void as light warps around the incoming beacon.
5. “This was my masterwork,” said the leatherworker as the prince lifted the belt from the workbench with trembling hands. “I poured the last of my magics into it to bind the curses deep below the surface where you couldn’t see.”