Höllengarten

Ewelina was being punished for something. She just wasn't sure what. She patrolled the bottom side of the disc wrapping around the refinery's central pillar, sweeping her eyes over the electric aquamarine skies. Thunderheads the size of the Matterhorn angrily slid past, kept at a manageable distance by the positive pressure bubble the generators ceaselessly… Continue reading Höllengarten

The Gentle Crush of Outward Expansion

Cyclopea VII did not want to be tamed. In that way it was like all the other wild planets before they'd been swept into the Fold. The Scouts would break it, eventually. But this was to be a war of attrition. Kaixuan stood beside a loaded-up Colt, its multijointed glassy carbon legs firm beneath its… Continue reading The Gentle Crush of Outward Expansion

Adventure Awaits

The posters in the recruitment offices on Earth were brightly colored, depicting psychedelic landscapes and brandishing phrases like Adventure Awaits and See the Unseen! Abe couldn't wait to sign up. Then they sent him to oversee the auto-mines scraping niningerite from the regolith on DCKX1023. He was all alone, from one dark dead horizon to the other.… Continue reading Adventure Awaits

Where the Stars Can’t See

The high and textureles clouds made for a night devoid of starlight. The soldiers' headlamps along the plateau swirled like a galaxy though. An inversion of the absent sky. They were supposed to maintain line-of-sight with the Congaree, but Private Ramsey had other plans. He had to do some recon on a fresh stream. No one… Continue reading Where the Stars Can’t See

Canaries

Trent never committed a crime, but he found himself a convict anyway. Wasn't uncommon. He'd heard one in five citizens across the empire was a convict now—more than starvation, or even Phlox Syndrome. It was probably all exaggerated, but for every grain of salt there was a grain of truth to go with it. The… Continue reading Canaries

Charlie’s Anchor

The sky was clear and the suns were up. Light rays bounced off the dust particles in the atmosphere, making the daytime sky seem full of stars. Charlie tried to enjoy it. She liked being outside the settlement, even with the bulky envirosuit. She tried to marvel at the bioelectric technology that surrounded her as… Continue reading Charlie’s Anchor

Lifeforms on Aether Rex

Nia's backpack dug into her shoulders. It was heavy and hard, but it contained her suit's life support system. It made constant clicks and whirs and gurgles, almost white noise but more distracting. The worst part was that it probably wasn't needed. Aether Rex was perfectly safe by the initial readings. But Nia heard enough… Continue reading Lifeforms on Aether Rex

Chance Encounter

He appeared from the desert like a mirage, as conspicuous as a rain cloud. He wore a Colonial officer's uniform, but he was no officer. Didn't have the swagger. Lyric knew; she'd been an officer herself not so long ago. "You lost?" She stood slowly, wiping sweat from her forehead with the back of one… Continue reading Chance Encounter

The Seventh Moon

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

Ups and Downs

Nu stood in the warm tidepools and took in one last look at the blazing blue sun. It had no name, just like this planet. But with a little luck, they would both be in the catalogs in a couple hours. The planet was rich in drinkable water, breathable air, and stable landmasses, but luck… Continue reading Ups and Downs