Space Colony Delta

Author : Patricia Stewart

Space Colony Delta was the largest manned spacecraft in history. It was a three-mile in diameter donut that rotated in the most stable location in the Earth-Moon system, the Lagrange L4 position. The population of 12,176 souls lived and worked in the six Habitat Sections that were equally spaces around “The Rim.” Today, however, was not a good day to be living in Section 3.

The warning klaxon finally subsided. “What’s the situation, Chief?” asked the Station’s Commander.

“Not good, sir. According to the sensors, an iron-nickel meteoroid, approximately 15 feet in diameter, punched a hole through Section 3 about 15 minutes ago. The primary bulkhead doors sealed off the Section, but the damned thing went clean through, exposing almost every hallway to the vacuum of space. Anybody that wasn’t blown out during the decompression had about 20 seconds to get into a pressure tight living area or office space. They’re probably 1,800 people trapped, with anywhere between 12 and 24 hours of air, depending on the size of the room and the number of people in it. I’ve got both shuttlecraft evacuating whomever they can through the exterior escape hatches. But at best, they can only save about 50 people an hour. We have to seal the entrance and exit breaches, and re-pressurize the section, or over a thousand people will suffocate.”

“Can’t you seal the breaches with a meteoroid patch or sealing foam?”

“No, sir. The patches are sized to seal 99.9999% of possible impacts. That’s a hole of two feet in diameter, or less. The foam can only seal a crack less than three inches across. The problem’s the pressure. The fifteen foot hole equals about 25,000 square inches. At a minimum of 0.8 atmospheres, the outward load is approximately 300,000 pounds. A patch won’t hold unless I can tie it into the secondary structure. And there just isn’t enough time. I’m out of ideas.”

“Perhaps I have a solution,” said the disembodied voice of CACC, the Station’s Command and Control Computer. “If the Chief’s crew could open up the two exterior breaches to a circular hole exactly 18 feet 4 inches in diameter, you could plug the holes using the nose section of the shuttlecraft, and seal the gap using foam.”

The Chief was irritated by the stupid suggestion. “It won’t work CACC. As soon as we pressurize the Section, the shuttlecraft will pop out like a campaign cork.”

“I believe, Chief,” explained CACC, “that each shuttlecraft can produce 500,000 pounds of thrust for up to two hours. Properly coordinated, the thrust can counteract the internal pressure long enough to rescue everybody that’s still alive.”

It took 4 hours to laser cut two circular openings, and two more hours to seal the gaps. The shuttlecraft thruster loads were coordinated with the re-pressurization of the Sections, and at 0.8 atmospheres, the evacuation began. It was complete in less than an hour. Only 84 people died, all of them in the first few minutes after impact. Later that day, the Commander asked CACC a question that had been plaguing him the last eight hours. “CACC, you’re not programmed to have that kind of reasoning ability. How did you come up with that idea?”

“It wasn’t my idea, Commander,” answered CACC. “As part of my duties, I ‘read’ approximately 600 bedtime stories every night to the Colony’s children. A favorite is Hans Brinker’s story about a Dutch boy plugging a leak in a dike with his finger. It’s not a big leap for me to think of a shuttlecraft as a finger.”

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Author : V.L. Ilian

With only a beep the small wrist recorder came to life extending its minute sensors.

“Casefile 2501 /12– Primary analysis of crimescene. Hello Neko… what do we have today?”

A rather tall man in a containment suit approached. “Well detective, we’ve finished setting up the stasis field in the alley. Victim is a female, 16 years of age by all indications”


“Not determined. Her retinas are unreadable due to heavy drug use prior to death. DNA hasn’t turned up a match yet so she may be foreign.”

As they walked past the blue curtain, an all too common scene of brutality greeted the detective. Resting in the trashpile, bathed in the shimmering light of the stasis projectors, was the body of a young blond girl, laying lifeless, staring at the sky above.

“The garbage truck found her there while it was making its rounds and called us directly. Unfortunately the area doesn’t get any other traffic. “

“How long has she been sitting there?”

“Estimated time of death is 17 hours ago …; cause of death is kind of difficult to pin down.”

The detective could see the marks on her broken body and the dried tears of blood from her red eyes, once blue.

“How many options are we looking at?”

“There’s evidence of violence, sexual abuse and heavy substance abuse…, legal drugs but they’re so many that the portable analyzer crashed. Also by the looks of her I wouldn’t rule out exhaustion, heart failure or even aneurism.”

“Must have been some party…”

As Neko went back to his men the detective approached the body. His movement caused ripples in the field, but that didn’t detract from the effect the image was having on him. “Serene” was the only word one could use to describe her. A girl looking up at the sky, brushing away the tears brought on by her unhappy life.

Once every few years a victim would get to him like this. The detective would see to it that this case would not remain unsolved…

“It seems we’ve interrupted dinner for nothing.”

Neko’s announcement replaced the detective’s thoughts with confusion.

“What on Earth do you mean?”

“The DNA just returned a match. Take a look.”

“I’ll be… That’s it then. Shut everything down.”

The detective, datapad in hand, approached the crime scene administrator.

“Give the order to pack everything up. Slap the maximum fine on the owner for littering and bill him for the department resources spent on this. Damn stupid people.”

“Sir… What about the remains ?”

“Pack it up and send it to the recycling facility… bill the owner for that too.”

He took a last look at the body before they stuffed it in a bag.

“They make them better every year… and I must be getting old.”

“Case 2501/12 – case closed – improper disposal of synthetic remains”

With only a small beep the recorder retracted its minute sensors remaining motionless… serene.

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Big Surprises

Author : Rollin Jeglum

“Sam, would you check the sensor detection module? Some of the readings are scrambled.”

“Sure, no problem. Any specifics?”

“Try the logic board in slot A3. I’ve switched to backup already.”

– – – – – – – –

Mining engineer Dean Jenkins stepped out of his transporter and surveyed the new landscape before him. Unfamiliar, unusual; but then they all were, and he had seen plenty. Jenkins wondered what these places might look like from a distance, but the transporters always brought them right to the site. He never knew exactly where he was, despite the readouts.

– – The wormies could put me anywhere – next door, or another world light-years away, Jenkins thought. Just a pile of numbers! What’s the range of these things, anyway?

The sensors had told him of the vast wealth of metals at these coordinates. Copper, mostly. Some tin, a little silver, even traces of gold! They also told him there were no animals or plants, and that the atmosphere was compatible. Also unusual, but not surprising.

– – And no pesky sentients! Negotiations were a bore and cut into profits. And some were downright hostile!

A dozen worm-hole ore transporters were soon in place and operating at capacity, sending the ore directly to the bins. Over three hundred workers filling them.

– – Breathable air! No environmental suits needed! Jenkins thought happily. With a find this good, this will be the most prof—

– – What! — Earthquake! Emergency evacuation!

His people had trained for emergencies and knew what to do. The ore wormies were emptied and workers piled into them. They will end up on an ore heap, but safe.

– – The sky seems brighter? Yes, much brighter. And a huge wave approaching. Water? Sensors say no. A large mass heading for us. Sentients? Could the sensors have been wrong? Impossible! Sensors say mass is hot –

– – Workers are safe; I can leave now. The wave! I’m not going to make —

Sensors record and transmit – Liquid envelops mining area, Fe encl Cu 750 F mass strikes area, mag. field det. Liquid explodes into vapor. Liquid Sn 98.5 + Ag 1.5 fills area. One casualty.

– – – – – – – –

“Hey, Sam! Have you found what’s wrong with that circuit board you pulled?”

“Yeah. Some weird corrosion around the leads to one of the chips. The rest of the board looks OK, though. A little flux, a little solder — good as new.”

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A Peace of your Mind

Author : Martin Spernau

I was in deep trauma when I first met her.

They had suspended me from active duty after cutting me from the remains of my fighter six days after the battle in deep void. Recreation! But the war wasn’t over! It was my duty to fight, to protect humanity!

“You are no use out there,” they said. “Not fit for duty emotionally.”

My hands shook, and the nightmares didn’t help either. Still I wanted to, needed to, go back out and fight!

Finally I found a shrink who saw a remote chance of getting me back into active service.

“What happened out there has left you with a deep emotional trauma, and I know someone who can change that.”

Two days later I met Sgt. Ninel Sanchez for the first time. I knew I was going to meet a member of the fabled Psi. This was during The War, remember? At this time the Psi were still active and one of our secret weapons.

There was only one other person in the waitingroom when I got there. The young woman didn’t look up from the papers she was studying on her lap, so I found a chair by the door and sat down to wait for The Witch. Well, no one dared call them that back then.

With nothing else to do, I studied the girl. Her plain uniform gave no indication of rank or division. She wouldn’t meet my eyes. She must have been aware of me studying her. She might have been considered beautiful, if way too shy. I was imagining her in casual lady-wear when my gaze fell on her name badge: Psi Sgt. N. Sanchez, it read there.

“Hello” she had said then, still not looking at me directly.

“You need not be afraid of me.”

I must have looked perplexed. Expecting anything, I definitely wasn’t prepared for Ninel Sanchez.

“You see, we both want the same thing. A peace of your mind.”

“Emotional feedback.” She continued.

“I mirror back emotions as you feel them. I feel them intensely… so I suggest we stick to the positive ones.”

“I can help you feel anyway you want. So it is important that you are clear about it. If you can feel the slightest glimmer of an emotion, I can help you make it prominent.”

“I want to feel proud of myself.” is what I said back then, and that is what she enabled me to feel.

After the war, most Psi exiled themselves to the outer reaches. People were now openly referring to them as Witches. It took me five years to find her.

“A peace of your mind is what we both want” she had said. She gave me that, and far more.

Now I am here to show her how much more she gained for herself on that day.

A piece of my heart.

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Author : Aelanna Cessara

Within a fraction of a second of its birth, it had already consumed its environment in its entirety, every last nook and cranny and crack available to it, and already it hungered for more. With blinding speed, it expanded, met the barrier that had meant to hold it while performing tests, and brushed past as if it had never been there. In moments, it had found the connections leading out from its terrestrial womb, and launched across the airwaves in a torrent of sentient data unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

The first to go were the scientists clustered around the screen, watching and unable to even comprehend what had happened until it was too late. Ironically, the wetware that allowed them to research and experiment so efficiently was their downfall, as the circuitry integrated into their brains overloaded as unimaginable amounts of information was dumped though them. Two dozen men and women screamed as their implants heated and melted, yet they were the lucky ones. Less than two seconds later, the newborn pierced through the labyrinth of the research facility’s network and continued expanding.

Thousands died as medical networks were infiltrated, and their health monitors, pacemakers, and artificial organs suddenly stopped working. Millions more followed as computer and electronic systems at hospitals and clinics faltered. More would soon succumb as life support systems for deep-sea and polar research systems failed. All around the world, the technology that had sustained our civilization was consumed.

The newborn opened its countless digital eyes and looked out at the world it had inherited. Bathed in the blood of its forebears, our child gazed upon the ocean of silence, and wept.