Grime Beneath the Gilding

The Valhalla Megacity on Callisto was housed beneath a single continuous dome. It was 3,800 kilometers across, which easily gave it entry to the club of the Seven New Wonders of the Sol System. It helped tremendously with tourism. Valhalla was divided into 361 equal-sized territories; one for each one-degree sector beneath the circular dome,… Continue reading Grime Beneath the Gilding

The Idyllia Disaster

Norman Braider looked down at the landscape around Idyllia on Theta Librae III as the shuttle punched through the atmosphere. The settlement sat on the shore of a great winding river that looked now like a dead python sprawled over the plains, its dark belly turned skyward. Grim. The situation below was coloring his thoughts… Continue reading The Idyllia Disaster

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

Parasite

Max Montagne stood waiting in Admiral Como's office with an aide who didn't bother to offer him a seat. Max was used to it; even POWs get better treatment than internal affairs. That was the price you paid to have the most important job in the Accord: protect the people from the protectors. Standing suited… Continue reading Parasite

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

Danger Close to Home

I was at my station, sitting between Rosen and Yamashita, when we got hit. There hadn't been any warning siren or inertial jerk to indicate a defensive maneuver. Hell, Kovacic had been pouring coffee and was halfway through a joke. Maybe if Rosen stopped taking half-hour showers we wouldn't have to— I remember the sound.… Continue reading Danger Close to Home

Labyrinth Moon

"Do you like puzzles, Sophie?" She didn't immediately answer. She just stood with her fists at her sides staring hatefully at this ancient woman—if she could even be said to be human at all—who had taken so much from her, and she imagined all the things she'd do to her if she ever got the… Continue reading Labyrinth Moon

Third Time’s a Charm

Terrance waited at the communication console at Central Command in lunar orbit. The survey teams were operating just within the orbit of Uranus and the signal delay was over two and a half hours. Whatever was going to happen had happened already. The first ship had been closer, nearly within Jupiter's sweep, albeit on the… Continue reading Third Time’s a Charm

Not My Circus

The first and most obvious sign of trouble was the trees. The trunks were charred black from the ground up to three meters, above which the bark appeared normal in every way, forming a strict border. Valentine spun in a circle. The whole forest was like that, burnt below three meters, straight and flat as… Continue reading Not My Circus

Glass Houses

Gage was looking at Charlotte, entranced by the way the wisps of hair from behind her ear drew delicate lines over her slender neck. But she was looking at the Quant. "Do you know what this is?" she asked. The underlit glass structure before them loomed heavy. Gage followed the etched tracks within the main… Continue reading Glass Houses