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

Projecting

Ava Graves stepped cautiously out of the escape pod and onto the alien ship. There was no one to greet her. No one to lovingly vivisect her for scientific pursuits, either, but still, the solitude after such a long and lonely stretch was maddening. A long corridor stretched before her, its every angled surface reflective… Continue reading Projecting

Strange Creatures

"I hear there's creatures out here," said Vangel, his voice taking on a sinister quality through the synthesis of his helmet. The alien ground crunched underfoot like snow. But it was not snow. In the midnight darkness, snaking flows of viscous upwelling crisscrossed the rocky plain. The flows were dimly luminescent, whatever they were, and… Continue reading Strange Creatures

Labyrinth Moon

"Do you like puzzles, Sophie?" She didn't immediately answer. She just stood with her fists at her sides staring hatefully at this ancient woman—if she could even be said to be human at all—who had taken so much from her, and she imagined all the things she'd do to her if she ever got the… Continue reading Labyrinth Moon

The Hedron

When the door blew off its hinges it glanced off of Gartner's shoulder and sent him twisting through the air. The Shadows were inside the Temple. They crossed the chasm and shredded Gartner into wet leathery ribbons the color of plum wine before he hit the floor. Captain Erra didn't need the quantum mind of… Continue reading The Hedron