Author : Beck Dacus

Earth is largely habitable. There are some places that are especially hot, cold, dry, irradiated, and toxic. And, sometimes, the entire Earth is subjected to extreme conditions; mass extinctions, periods of volcanic activity, Ice Ages, snowball Earths, and so on. But this does not happen often. To be direct, the chance of one of these things happening to an exoplanet just when humanity wants to colonize it is extremely low.

But it happened anyway. Not only had Kepler-438b been recently hit by a magnetic pole shift, it was also in the middle of a snowball planet phase. As I looked out at the cold, irradiated surface of this goddamned, supposed-to-be-beautiful planet, these were the infuriating thoughts that raced through my mind.

Over the radio, I’m pretty sure everyone else could hear my labored breathing. They definitely saw my clenched fists and the shaking of my legs, as i was about ready to fall to my knees and start screaming.

“This had 100 times less of a chance of happening than winning the lottery,” Arida said from behind me.

“What are we going to tell Earth?” Vonan asked.

“We almost did it,” Shalla added.

“We won’t be able to live here for thousands of years,” Irnen.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to pound on the ice until one of us broke. I wanted to slaughter everyone around me.

I wanted to die.

But I knew none of those would solve the problem. Nothing would. So, against all my natural instincts, my nature, and my pride, I turned back to the ship… and set us on a course home. Wounded. Defeated. Deprived.


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