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

Shocking

Kamari squirmed under the glow of the black lights. He bounced between the balls of his feet and shook his hips back and forth. Braylee finally picked her head up from her notebook and chucked her pen at him. "Hey, psycho, what the hell are you doing?" "I'm photographing the core samples before I slab… Continue reading Shocking

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

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

Wandering on Hinterland

Harper sat sullenly at the top of the habitat's spire, looking out above the canopy as the first—and brightest—of Hinterland's two suns tucked itself below the horizon. At least it would cool off a little. She took the stairs down to the surface level, passing Brielle in the mudroom leading to the garage. "I'm going… Continue reading Wandering on Hinterland

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

Mantis

The Kalypso III sailed onward toward the bright center of the muddy red nebula they'd taken to calling the mantis. The visual required a touch of imagination and some squinting, but the name had stuck. The brain is funny in that way; latching onto any idea, no matter how implausible, is better than the shapeless chaos of… Continue reading Mantis

Ghosts of the First Era

A fog rolled in between the sheer face of the cliff and the jagged limestone columns that towered over the valley, riding a sulfur breeze that tickled the nose. She hadn't understood what all the fuss was about, but now that she was here, Elise was spooked. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants,… Continue reading Ghosts of the First Era