By Stephen Baxter
Learning a brand new point, Anti-Ice, a mysterious substance that unleashes significant energies whilst warmed, a millionaire industrialist goals of energy from an merchandise that grants global peace--or international destruction.
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Here I found a slab of wall which poked like a large, irregular tombstone out of the shattered earth. This wall was uniformly blackened--save for an oddly shaped patch close to ground level; and this patch, I realized after some time, was in the shape of an old woman, making her painful way along the street. Father, the wall bore the shadow cast by that poor lady in the light of the anti-ice shell. Of the lady herself there was of course no sign; and neither did we find any survivors in that part of the city.
We were roused at dawn. The bugles and drums were silent, but nevertheless we were told to draw up in drill formation and to prepare to advance. And so I turned out, my fingers jammed into my cuffs to escape the gray cold of dawn, the webbing of my Minie chafing at my unshaven neck. The barrage from the artillery behind us went on unabated; as did, I noted, the replies from the redoubts of Sebastopol, and a sick apprehension gripped me. For if the Russian guns had not been subdued, our assault would be another suicidal charge.
I owe you some explanation of my conduct since leaving Sylvan, that dark day last year, and how I arrived on this remote shore. As you know I took with me only a few shillings. My mood was one of self-contempt, Sir, and shame; determined to atone, I made my way by Light Rail to Liverpool and there enlisted into the 90 Regiment. I joined as an ordinary soldier; I had of course no means of purchasing a commission, and in any event I had determined to descend, to mix with the lowest of men, in order to cleanse myself of my sin.
Anti-ice by Stephen Baxter