Mapping the Tetra

"Seen one Tetra, seen 'em all. What'd I tell you?" "More than I asked for," said Pia. "I hired a pilot, not a color commentator. Stay the course." The impossible bulk of a Predecessor Tetra loomed before them, a lightyear to a side and as smooth and as black as any human tool could measure.… Continue reading Mapping the Tetra

Into the Black

Deloza followed behind Metsker, bouncing lightly across the Tirawa basin on Rhea. After a generation of studying from afar, using orbiters and rovers and all variety of instruments they were finally here in the flesh. Humanity had reached the anomaly. Radiance Base was 15 klicks away. They'd taken a buggy most of the way and… Continue reading Into the Black

Oxygen Leak

Working and living on a Sunrise sat was actually a pretty easy gig. If you could drive a bus—even an automated one—you could fly a sat. Gus had been up here for four months and barely lifted a finger. It was great. He looked out a porthole. Below, the sun's last rays cast stark shadows… Continue reading Oxygen Leak

In the Moment

It looked like I might be in the bathroom at Club Manic, but it was tough to know for sure. I mean, there was no mistaking Manic's bathroom—red lit like the waiting rooms in hell; white subway tiled walls with dark grout, graffitied in kanji; narrow enough to make a cave diver feel claustrophobic; muffled… Continue reading In the Moment

Terra Nullius

The object flashed by the Earth so fast that we didn't even have time to photograph it. We didn't even know what it was, but its path was perpendicular to the ecliptic, or nearly so. A piece of it broke off—or was ejected with purpose, depending on your own inclination—and made landfall. It was called… Continue reading Terra Nullius

Where the Stars Can’t See

The high and textureles clouds made for a night devoid of starlight. The soldiers' headlamps along the plateau swirled like a galaxy though. An inversion of the absent sky. They were supposed to maintain line-of-sight with the Congaree, but Private Ramsey had other plans. He had to do some recon on a fresh stream. No one… Continue reading Where the Stars Can’t See

Something to Fight For

Jules stood alone in the Proteus desert on Empyrean. He'd never been first before, not in any of the trillions of light cones. Good. He was at the front then, making a real change. He wouldn't be alone for long. But as the seconds dragged on he didn't know what to do with himself. Always… Continue reading Something to Fight For

An Old Rock Climber

Shreya stood in her little office on the Eisenmenger, occasionally pacing, staring at her globes. They'd expanded from her shelves many years ago, colonizing her desktop, cabinet, and even areas of the floor she was sorry to say. Old starship manuals were stacked in piles just to give her globes a little variation in height. She… Continue reading An Old Rock Climber

Coming in Hot

"Let's just cool off and talk in a few days, right? I lo—...well, goodbye." That slimy son of a bitch almost said I love you. Martin had spoken that lie so many times it was habitual. If he was in front of her right now she might kill him. He wasn't, of course, but he would… Continue reading Coming in Hot

Beneath the Snow of Jetzt

The lander rocked gently as it descended toward Jetzt, the capital city of Schwarzer Regen, a tidally locked world on the fringe in an unremarkable system. "Sloppy flying," chided Ambassador Sterne. "This is how they greet the son of Grand Empress Sonne IV?" Hoff, slovenly splayed over a lounger, drink in hand, said, "Excellent flying.… Continue reading Beneath the Snow of Jetzt