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

Ups and Downs

Nu stood in the warm tidepools and took in one last look at the blazing blue sun. It had no name, just like this planet. But with a little luck, they would both be in the catalogs in a couple hours. The planet was rich in drinkable water, breathable air, and stable landmasses, but luck… Continue reading Ups and Downs

Entering the Throat of Kraken

The little boat was getting tossed around more than she'd expected and it was making her a little queasy. The reduced gravity only served to amplify the effect. Dr. Hena Hanover was entering the Throat of Kraken. Officially it was the Seldon Fretum, a narrow straight separating the northern and southern basins of Kraken Mare,… Continue reading Entering the Throat of Kraken

Hunters

Pelpoloi saw the first of Kepler-22b's satellites rise over the mountain peak and scrambled into a narrow crevice in the rock face. Pelpoloi didn't know what a satellite was and had no need to. The entire concept of the HXX—Habitable Exoplanet Exploration initiative—would confound him. His language lacked so many of the words needed to… Continue reading Hunters

Lure

At long last, Jimenez saw the blazing white lance of the beacon in the slate green haze, and after a few more steps forward Leroux's slim profile appeared near the beacon's base. He wasn't moving. She tried hailing him. No response. No surprise; she'd been hailing him for hours. Jimenez approached carefully over the crevices… Continue reading Lure

Nothing Comes From Nothing

The tunnel walls were smooth as blown glass, hard as diamond, and cold as everything else in the empty depths between the stars. A brown marbling splintered across the cream-colored surface like veins. Jiten had never seen anything like it anywhere in the solar system, and he'd been to three rocky planets and a hundred… Continue reading Nothing Comes From Nothing

Unbound in the Shade

"Entering the Shade in 30 seconds," said Ecliptious, the Resolution's onboard AI. It was the smartest member of the crew—though they were all gifted scientists and explorers—even bound as it was. The risks of this mission were unknown, but the risks of an unbound AI were well understood. The mission proceeded, and Ecliptious remained bound. No… Continue reading Unbound in the Shade

Bigger Problems

He triple-checked everything, sticking to the official checklist. Alone, on the night side of Viviani—a rocky subsatellite in the Poerava system—was not the time nor place to play cowboy and go off script. As frustrating as that may be. "Aleksander to base, still ready to make the splice." "I said stand by," came the reply… Continue reading Bigger Problems

Priority Message

It came from beneath the ice dear God what was that thing it came from beneath the fucking ice! Waverly Thompson ran for her life over a frozen rock-littered waste the color of burnt molasses. Her heart raged in her chest as it failed to satiate her oxygen-starved muscles, but her scramble didn't slow. It… Continue reading Priority Message

Reasons of Their Own

The human settlements that dotted the Martian surface with light and color and smoke were as varied as the people who built them. Mars had become a world of people, and they each came for reasons of their own. Some came for love, and some came for money. Some came to feed their wonderment, their… Continue reading Reasons of Their Own