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

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