Author: Anisha Narayan

Soaring, soaring through the sinuous labyrinth of taenite trails that twisted like a tangle of veins through the terrain of Erasmus, Myka and Ylla glided, smoothly and effortlessly. They hurtled along chrome-hued paths reflecting their hoverboards as mere blurs of color, carving through looming canyons enshrouded in shadow. Nimbly they weaved their way between rocky spires enveloped in a misty, pale pink fog, the softly approaching night sinking the binary suns, casting a magenta glow against the lands. As the suns disappeared into the horizon, the luminous magenta strip gradually grew thinner and thinner. Dusk on Erasmus gave way to a supernal indigo, lit by thousands upon thousands of stars scattered throughout the inky sky, reflections twinkling in the tributaries of taenite. Spiraling across the ground like silvery serpents, these nickel-iron deposits engraved mazes into Erasmus’ surface, along which hoverboarders could glide, taking advantage of the rich magnetic mineral sediments formed many millennia ago during the planetoid’s nascent stages.

As the trail curved sharply and plummeted down, down into one of the canyons, Myka bent her knees to brace herself before she rapidly plunged, careening ahead like a comet, and Ylla followed suit. A cluster of meteors briefly lit up the stratosphere as the pair ascended again, rising back out of the canyons toward the bejeweled sky. They had been on their boards for nearly an hour, until silhouettes of dune-shaped formations in the distance indicated their desired location, as they finally approached the vernal gallium seas.

The gallium bubbled up from its ore in pools during the high season, now resembling acres of flat, smooth mirrors at the foot of the dunes, still and completely unperturbed—until Myka spun to a halt, slammed off her hoverboard’s power, and jumped in. She submerged herself in the silver liquid, this far-heavier-than-water element which felt both strange and pleasant against one’s skin, and looked even stranger. After filling as many jars of gallium as she could carry for use in her semiconductors, Ylla now sat idly at the bank, dipping only her feet in. With its remarkably low melting point, the liquid metal could coat every inch of a person’s body, every eyelash on a young girl and every wrinkle on an old man, and she watched as Myka broke through the surface. Emerging from the pool, Myka climbed back onto the bank, a silver human phantom, shaking off the liquid metal in heavy mirrored droplets. They gathered and gathered and coalesced in beads that met along her body to form larger beads, converging into a puddle of liquid silver at her feet, traveling sluggishly down the bank to meld with the main pool once again. Here, it would continue to remain undisturbed until the low season, when the molten mirror would be slowly swallowed and re-absorbed back into the lands.