Losing Steam

Cerys kept nodding off, her head tipping downward and jerking back up again. It was a special kind of punishment. Three days. They'd been pursuing the sapphire class freighter for three days as it tried uselessly to lose them beyond the horizon as it fell endlessly around the incomprehensible curvature of Mu Cephei. The hypergiant… Continue reading Losing Steam

Shiver

Reef thawed out in a rubbery basin. The chemicals prevented his body from shivering, but not from feeling the cold. It was a biting, terrifying cold. He felt like icicles were pinning down his limbs so he could be cleanly dissected. He was glad he was alone; no one else had to endure his screaming.… Continue reading Shiver

Terraforming Terra

Cole sat slowly down, owing the slowness to the low surface gravity, and nestled his body down. The armchair shifted on its own to hold his doughy body more comfortably. He bit the tip off of a thick, tightly rolled cigar—imported from Europa—and lit it with the small butane lighter he kept beside the armchair… Continue reading Terraforming Terra

Reasons of Their Own

The human settlements that dotted the Martian surface with light and color and smoke were as varied as the people who built them. Mars had become a world of people, and they each came for reasons of their own. Some came for love, and some came for money. Some came to feed their wonderment, their… Continue reading Reasons of Their Own

No Prisoners

"Bring them out." Par Acaces had no question as to who the ruhl meant by them. The par gathered the feeble space-weakened prisoners, with their wet eyes and their dry elastic skin, and marched them in a shackled line off the hulking battle transport. Ruhl Shald  was waiting on the narrow bridgeway, pacing and clomping about… Continue reading No Prisoners

The Child From Qas

Rin stood at the counter in the orphanage's galley when the boy entered. At first he just stood beside her, watching her scoop the guts out of several sugar squash—the guts are the only digestible part—grown right here on Nayim. The boy waited to get her attention until she'd finished with the squash in hand.… Continue reading The Child From Qas

Invisible Ladder

Kendi's feet hurt. It was an unseasonably cold September—record-breaking, as it seemed every September had been all her life—but her toes were especially frigid. She put thermal gel in her thick socks, but nothing seemed to help. As many pregnant women did these days, she tried to focus on her work. But unlike them, she… Continue reading Invisible Ladder

Game Theory

"Am I the first?" asked Arcus, kneeling. "I'm afraid not." He looked up, surprised despite the likelihood of the answer. The eye contact appeared to make the Ascendantary uncomfortable. Something new, then—a deviation. A good sign. "How—" "A great many. I have not kept count." She had known his question before he'd fully formed it… Continue reading Game Theory

Deep Beneath Damascus

Dr. Regina Crane looked down at Damascus with despair. She'd gotten 1.5 billion miles from home without issue—so much so that she'd battled bouts of boredom—and now she'd fumbled within the one yard line. The other sulci mocked her with their stillness: Alexandria, Baghdad, Cairo. Only Damascus Sulcus was active, its cryovolcanoes blasting tons of… Continue reading Deep Beneath Damascus

Lux Apocrypha

Lieutenant Colonel Randall Jung watched alone from the observation spire of his command cruiser, the Fate Arisen, as the drop ships poured from the formation of carriers by the thousands. The starfield beyond was completely blotted out. To think, such an imposing show of force, and still it would not be enough. A million soldiers… Continue reading Lux Apocrypha