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

Coronation

The crowd was in a frenzy. The colosseum's towering reaches held a quarter of a million people, and it was over capacity with thousands more pressing in to witness this historic upheaval. They were here beneath the sweltering summer sun to see her: Supreme Commander Scandere. Barely beyond her third decade, she'd had enough blood on… Continue reading Coronation

A Scar Upon Our Souls

Shune and Dobar watched from a ledge under the chilly shade of one of the valley's iconic monadnocks, the Five Sisters. Standing motionless in the coppery hues of early morning was an Interfederal Argema-373 passenger ship, its body retracted over its folded legs. It looked like a 3,000-ton chrome mosquito. Shune shivered with disgust and… Continue reading A Scar Upon Our Souls

Terraforming Terra

Cole sat slowly down, owing the slowness to the low surface gravity, and nestled his body down. The armchair shifted on its own to hold his doughy body more comfortably. He bit the tip off of a thick, tightly rolled cigar—imported from Europa—and lit it with the small butane lighter he kept beside the armchair… Continue reading Terraforming Terra

Game Theory

"Am I the first?" asked Arcus, kneeling. "I'm afraid not." He looked up, surprised despite the likelihood of the answer. The eye contact appeared to make the Ascendantary uncomfortable. Something new, then—a deviation. A good sign. "How—" "A great many. I have not kept count." She had known his question before he'd fully formed it… Continue reading Game Theory

Return of the Maleficarum

As a young man, Rich Speyer thought he'd seen the last of the Maleficarum. At the time, he commanded the special joint task force responsible for the Sweep—the rounding up of the dissenters, the objectionists, the pacifists, the skulking members of the anti-party-party, and shuttling them off world to take their deviant ideas to the stars.… Continue reading Return of the Maleficarum

Tenacity

"Excuse me, are you Tenacity? I'm Isla." "Yes, it's lovely to meet you. Please do sit down." Tenacity was taken aback. Isla may have a Confederacy name and a Confederacy home, but certainly not the look. She was thin; not the taut lengthiness brought on by generations of sub-standard gravity, but the thinness of a… Continue reading Tenacity

Standardized Testing

Calia climbed into the hollowed out stump of a fallen roof tree and made an effort to quiet her labored breathing. Her lungs felt sunburned from the sprint and her mouth was cottony, flecked with bitter congealing saliva. She wiped at the beads of sweat on her brow, not noticing the dark streaks she left… Continue reading Standardized Testing

Milo Meets the Civilgorithm

On the day before my 15th birthday, it occurred to my father that perhaps I was not ready. "Milo," he asked, "what will you tell the civilgorithm tomorrow? How could you best serve your life?" "I don't know," I said. He scolded me harshly, planting little seeds in my arms and back with his fists… Continue reading Milo Meets the Civilgorithm