The six inner moons of Avalon—a typical ice giant out on the fringe—were fine places. Rocky bodies, essentially spheroids, rich in ices and metals. Good for industry, and more than capable of supporting associated settlements. But the seventh moon—that was the prize. If you could get to it. Preliminary data indicated a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, temperate… Continue reading The Seventh Moon
Knowing the Enemy
The ice giant Rosen is only a pale crescent in the violet sky of its largest moon. Ivodus looks up and thinks it looks like the closed eye of a sleeping god. Or a dead one. This place sets off strange and indistinct memories, more feelings than specific recollections, and he doesn't like it. It… Continue reading Knowing the Enemy
Church of the Falling Sky
The shuttle had no windows, but the sudden lurch told Lady Verity they'd uncoupled from Saint Donovan's Interment. The temperature in the shuttle quickly rose like it was a tin can in the summer sun, heated by the tremendous friction of the descent through Lachesis' thick sulfurous atmosphere. Four centuries of landings like this had pulverized… Continue reading Church of the Falling Sky
When the Stars Align
It was early—very early—but the air was warm and still. And Benoît, for his part, hadn't complained in the least. He'd even offered to carry the backpack she'd filled with breakfast pastries, a thermos of dark coffee, and an outdoor blanket. Kirsty thought she might love him, which was what made him worthy of what… Continue reading When the Stars Align
A yellow spark inched along a blue landscape. Claytor, a large moon in the 70 Virginis system, had all the blues of Earth but none of the oceans. It had valleys of kyanite and sheer cliffs of cordierite, and an abundance of copper that leant the thick, hazy atmosphere an aquamarine hue. As for the… Continue reading Not Alone
It came down like snow. Like a blizzard, in fact, smearing the space between the cloud tops and the ground into a disorienting blur of whirling, blinding, chaotic particles. For a moment, just before descent, Ken became absorbed in the abstract motion and found it profoundly beautiful. Perhaps it was this tendency—to become transfixed by… Continue reading Cosmic Justice
How Many Zeros?
"Let me know at what point I'm supposed to be impressed," said Zoe. "I'm sorry, you'll have to remind me: are you rich, or rude?" said Asher, folding his arms and looking sideways at the wealthiest venture capitalist interested in investing in terraforming. Her aide, Jonathan—a young professional who'd let stress prematurely age him a… Continue reading How Many Zeros?
Make Yourself Useful
Make yourself useful, he said. Some goddamn nerve. Two years, Lin had served on the Dauntless. Two long years, without so much as a weekend's leave, making four jumps a week while under-crewed and poorly maintained. And not once had she ever missed her mark. Never. She'd been telling Captain Sayre from day one that a… Continue reading Make Yourself Useful
"Start digging graves," Dalton told the Lacuna Populous' android attendant. "Graves?" Dalton dropped the legs of the body he was dragging onto the deck and they thudded dully one after the other. He turned his irritated gaze to the android and rubbed his dark, thick beard. "Holes. Outside. To put the bodies in. Find something to… Continue reading Gravedigger
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