Hunters

Pelpoloi saw the first of Kepler-22b's satellites rise over the mountain peak and scrambled into a narrow crevice in the rock face. Pelpoloi didn't know what a satellite was and had no need to. The entire concept of the HXX—Habitable Exoplanet Exploration initiative—would confound him. His language lacked so many of the words needed to… Continue reading Hunters

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

Worm Food

It wasn't raining this morning, so Eino didn't grab a poncho. But, as he'd come to expect, the weather on Kultainen Tunti could change on a dime. Without the weather mod-sats there was little that could be done about it. At the moment, things were not as golden as the name implied. Eino was soaked.… Continue reading Worm Food

A Little Chaos

Though the sky was the dark of night, interrupted only by the steady smiles of distant stars and the blue-green arc of the Ring, the clouds far below glowed with orange light. They looked remarkedly like hot coals ready to be fanned into glorious flames. Tareq sipped his cortado. He was fortunate, and he took… Continue reading A Little Chaos

Another Atonement

Esrik was unfamiliar with the customs of Capella II, and none more so than the religions. But, he thought as he stood at the steps of the Onyx Temple of Connectedness, they're all generally the same. He could get what he needed here. He climbed the steps and the grand doors parted for him. The… Continue reading Another Atonement

Children of the Reach

Westin walked the night forests of Giausar IV. The hydrogen-filled bubbles hung thirty feet overhead, each one rooted to the ground by a bioluminescent umbilicus too thick to get his hands around to throttle or snap. Long leafy ribbons hung down from the bubbles, rustling in the breeze and brushing his face. It was like… Continue reading Children of the Reach

Freewheeler

Brena sat by herself on the floor of her small dirt-covered habitat, sipping tea. Above her was her only window: a circular borehole filled with still water—for the radiation—terminating in a skylight. Through it was the familiar splash of the Milky Way spilled across the night sky. She didn't look up. Didn't need to. A… Continue reading Freewheeler

Lifespark

The jungles of Venus II were lush and verdant, much more so even than Earth II. The exoplanets were given rather uncreative traditional names that had more to do with history and orbital alignments than habitability. But the air here was still deadly acidic to fragile human lungs, so at least that was one thing… Continue reading Lifespark

The Scald

A lone, dark skeleton walked the Scald. The surface was made of standing waves the color of burnt cinnamon, cooked enough to stop from flowing, but not enough to blacken. The crust floated over an ocean of churning magma like a patella cut from its tendons. The skeleton thought it was supposed to have a… Continue reading The Scald

Lure

At long last, Jimenez saw the blazing white lance of the beacon in the slate green haze, and after a few more steps forward Leroux's slim profile appeared near the beacon's base. He wasn't moving. She tried hailing him. No response. No surprise; she'd been hailing him for hours. Jimenez approached carefully over the crevices… Continue reading Lure