The Third Age of Sail

The First Age of Sail lasted for 400 years, marking a period when wind-powered ocean vessels were the principal means of human commerce before the rise of steam engines. The Second Age of Sail was a reaction to rising average global temperatures. Wind propulsion, combined with the advent of electric battery technology, again dominated mercantile… Continue reading The Third Age of Sail

Something in the Machine

Xyrl dipped the little twin-engine skimmer below the landing pads of Tower LN-T6. The air was thick with smog. Fullerenes doped with xenon and argon made for a wild violet dawn. Xyrl was just pleased that the pollutants provided some lift and saved fuel. It kept the skimmer near the spiring arresters of the lightning… Continue reading Something in the Machine

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

Void Phantasma

I'm not like all those crazy people. This is different. It's real. Imagine flying a starship. Most people can only imagine, because most people never leave the planet they're born on. Still, even if only a small percent of people ever take a starflight, a small percent of an enormous number leaves you with a… Continue reading Void Phantasma

The Right Price

The six-worlds rule had been a fact of life for thousands of years. It predated even the Solidarity. Long enough that no one questioned it anymore. It was a fact that turned a healthy profit for savvy pilots like Kadence. She wasn't famous, but those in the know knew her. The six-worlds rule said that no… Continue reading The Right Price

You Had One Job

Elsinore Corona didn't look nearly as wavy as it did from orbit. Guy squatted and leapt off Miranda's surface. The rock and ice receded below his feet. Five meters. Ten meters. He'd be up here awhile, but at least the view was nice. The distance between Miranda and Uranus was only a third of that… Continue reading You Had One Job

The Seventh Moon

The six inner moons of Avalon—a typical ice giant out on the fringe—were fine places. Rocky bodies, essentially spheroids, rich in ices and metals. Good for industry, and more than capable of supporting associated settlements. But the seventh moon—that was the prize. If you could get to it. Preliminary data indicated a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, temperate… Continue reading The Seventh Moon

Ghosts of Tomorrow

The Empress of the SUGRA Skies sunbathed at a hangar on Eta Convex while Sawyer watched from the shadows. He stood to stave off the urge to sleep. He could rest when he was back on board, after the next jump, but not now. Not while there were hands other than his own touching the Empress. The… Continue reading Ghosts of Tomorrow

Special Cargo

The pilot made Lula feel extremely uncomfortable. The pilot likely felt nothing at all for his part. Him? Was the pilot a man? Not in the philosophical man-or-machine sense, but biologically. She'd assumed he was a man based on his bulk and the breadth of his shoulders, but she supposed those were not meaningful indicators.… Continue reading Special Cargo

Using for the Cause

"Braindead" hauled herself out of her chair—it took a little effort with the flight suit—and locked herself in a toilet stall in the locker room adjacent to the on-deck lounge. "Braindead" wasn't her name—could you imagine?—but her call sign. She got it back in flight school when she didn't realize her mic was hot and… Continue reading Using for the Cause