Mapping the Tetra

"Seen one Tetra, seen 'em all. What'd I tell you?" "More than I asked for," said Pia. "I hired a pilot, not a color commentator. Stay the course." The impossible bulk of a Predecessor Tetra loomed before them, a lightyear to a side and as smooth and as black as any human tool could measure.… Continue reading Mapping the Tetra

Into the Black

Deloza followed behind Metsker, bouncing lightly across the Tirawa basin on Rhea. After a generation of studying from afar, using orbiters and rovers and all variety of instruments they were finally here in the flesh. Humanity had reached the anomaly. Radiance Base was 15 klicks away. They'd taken a buggy most of the way and… Continue reading Into the Black

The Heart of Elatus

The air was stale, but the fact that there was air at all was something of a miracle. Demetri was the first person to walk the halls of Elatus in a thousand years. He shut his visor. Breathable as the air might be, it was damp and there were thick carpets of mold overhead, as… Continue reading The Heart of Elatus

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

Breakfast on Mars

"Desmond, it's time for breakfast." He was completely engrossed in cataloging the root structures of the young bean sprouts he was growing, and he ignored the reminder. For a third time. A voice came over the intercom. Not the virtual assistant again, but the commander. Desmond couldn't ignore her. "Stop working and come eat." He… Continue reading Breakfast on Mars

City People

The clouds were catching on the pointed tips of the skyscrapers like stray threads on a cotton sweater. A light drizzle spilled from the tears. They weren't supposed to be here, and that's what made it exciting. They were explorers, rediscovering ancient secrets and pocketing old-world treasures. Mikey found a little black rock—a pebble, really—with… Continue reading City People

Big Dipper

The tether was made of exotic matter and wrapped in an energy sheath she couldn't begin to describe, and perhaps it was that modicum of incomprehension that made the dip so exhilarating. Of course, the crisp black edge of the supermassive black hole dominating her vision gave her a rush too. Sagittarius A* sat at… Continue reading Big Dipper

Hope Incarnate

Soft orange light bathed the Trailblazer III as it tumbled out of bulkspace, and the captain of the expedition, Paz van Dijk, finally set eyes on the citrine sphere that was UDF 2457. The red dwarf didn't even have a proper name, but to Paz it was hope incarnate. "Nice and easy," she said. "Maintain… Continue reading Hope Incarnate

When It Rains

The facility was enormous—fifteen miles to a side according to the odometer—and, after circling the entire complex in an old battery-converted Jeep, Dustin resigned to the fact that there'd be no easy way in. High steel-and-concrete walls left no gaps in the perimeter. The various and spread out gates all looked the same: impregnable. He… Continue reading When It Rains

Buried Questions

Dr. Mae Cassendor wheeled yet another load of spoil to the heap. Sweat beads spilled from her brow down her round cheeks, and not just from the physicality of her work; her suit's heat exchanger was reaching its max. Though the outside temperature was just below freezing, the atmosphere was too thin for her suit… Continue reading Buried Questions