You’re Not Yourself

Meredith Aves looked upon her husband's ashen face through a veil of hot amber sparks that erupted in the space between them. His voice carried a dread she'd never before heard as he asked her pleadingly, "Are my eyes open?" She awoke with a start and barely suppressed a scream. Carter was standing beside the… Continue reading You’re Not Yourself

Set the Stars Aspinning

Magamyar enjoyed its work—at a surface level, anyway. Pushing particles into clouds with its magnetic wings, caressing and coaxing them into hot little eggs, and after they hatched setting them spinning like tops. It was slow mindless work that allowed for contemplation. It was good for the soul. But it was without meaning—congealing dust until… Continue reading Set the Stars Aspinning

Meeting Your Maker

What would have been a simple excavation on Earth took more than nine years at Sinus Iridum. Still, it was worth the extra effort to be the first xenoarchaeologist. He'd sold all his worldly possessions, alienated his family, and watched his coworkers turn into tentative friends and then into casualties as Luna did its very… Continue reading Meeting Your Maker

Collider

Drs. Ellen Duffy and Ingvar Torvik were inseparable, so it seemed only natural that they were both among the final three players left at the table. Poker was a game of evolving probabilities, and the other researchers and physicists had already cashed out and left for the evening when the numbers turned against them. All… Continue reading Collider

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

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

The Astromancer

When the wormhole appeared, we sent through six ships. Each ship brought 36 passengers, including ambassadors, religious figures, military officers, and career astronauts. Only 14 souls returned; a random selection from five of the six ships. They were gone less than a day, and they were recovered drifting naked in open space save for an… Continue reading The Astromancer

What They Say About Us

Major Poppy Seaver exited the airlock and used her MMU to propel herself smoothly toward the Well. "Command, I'm on approach." Earthside, Command could see everything she was doing. More than 100 technicians filled the massive control room and crowded around monitors and control stations on countertops, on wheel carts, and occasionally on the floor. They… Continue reading What They Say About Us

Abandonist Massacre

The flames in the night lit the right half of Mercia's blood-splattered face, mirroring the gibbous moon that shined above, disinterested in the plights of lesser humans. The ground shook mightily as another rocket exploded on its launchpad on the other side of the complex. Mercia picked herself up, pumped the charging primer on her… Continue reading Abandonist Massacre

Contact

Ryden sloshed through the toxic muck that sucked at his boots beneath the tangled thorn grass. It wasn't grass, of course—that was terracentric thinking—but on strange planets the mind tries to force things into familiar shapes. His unit was twelve days into its march with no obvious end. Twelve days of orange fog and swatting… Continue reading Contact