Hell to Pay

Riazi sat on the rustic hardwood floor with her back against the foot of the couch and her knees drawn up to her chest. The ashtray on the floor beside her was overflowing with butts and ash. She lit up another cigarette anyway. It was frivolous, but it helped her feel human. Which, of course,… Continue reading Hell to Pay

Contact

Ryden sloshed through the toxic muck that sucked at his boots beneath the tangled thorn grass. It wasn't grass, of course—that was terracentric thinking—but on strange planets the mind tries to force things into familiar shapes. His unit was twelve days into its march with no obvious end. Twelve days of orange fog and swatting… Continue reading Contact

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

Ghosts of the First Era

A fog rolled in between the sheer face of the cliff and the jagged limestone columns that towered over the valley, riding a sulfur breeze that tickled the nose. She hadn't understood what all the fuss was about, but now that she was here, Elise was spooked. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants,… Continue reading Ghosts of the First Era

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

With Only Moons to Bear Witness

The sulfur sky was a thin fog that smeared the horizon like finger paint and turned the three moons—Miya, Dota, and Castelor—to triplet discs devoid of definition. It smelled like pig shit. Jorge tried not to talk to keep the taste out of his mouth. "How far you think that tower is?" asked Dom. Jorge… Continue reading With Only Moons to Bear Witness

The Ru Rempisa

Fallon had nearly given up, and was at that moment considering turning back, when she saw them over the next rise. There were two tall figures wearing dark hooded cloaks the color of red clay. Each held a long black pike. And between them, in similar garb, was Ira. They stood as if they'd been… Continue reading The Ru Rempisa

Prepared for Anything

The Cada's crescent outline still faintly glowed violet in the skies above Nova Aparanta as the lingering exotic matter decayed and fell away from the ship's shielded hull. Omari was among the survivors, looking down at unnamed continents and murky freshwater oceans, knowing their fates were chained to this unknown world as sure as the stars… Continue reading Prepared for Anything

Fate of the Denali

"Commander, this is Spatha Six." Horace stood alone on a grassy outcrop overlooking a calm river that curved to the south through brilliant grasslands. But there was tragedy here. "Go ahead, Six." "I've got something you'll want to see, ma'am. I think I found the main drive system." The quiet hum of radio noise shushed… Continue reading Fate of the Denali

Fall Guy

Augustus stood at the edge of the scaffolding stretching out from the landing pad atop the headquarters of Cormorant Communications. High above the pointillism of the city lights in the late evening, the wind tugged at his scarf and jacket and made his knees weak. His stomach felt like it was on tumble dry. "Augustus!"… Continue reading Fall Guy