No Rest For The Weary

Author : S. Tyrel Murray

Its cold all the time. I don’t mean cold, as in frozen. More like uncomfortable, chilly. Its still cold enough to die from hypothermia.

I was one of the first volunteers selected. They said we would travel. See the sights. They lied. They had us in cold sleep for the trip, so we didn’t get to see any of it. Even warping space and travelling at 27 times the speed of light, it took us more than 18 years to reach here.

There were sixteen of us when we left. We lost the first two a half million klicks from Earth. A secondary reactor in the aft storage module started leaking coolant. Johnson and Valasques went to shunt the coolant line so we could salvage some supplies, and dump the module. They were boiled alive. It wasn’t pretty.

You may be wondering, “Where is here?” “Here” is Kepler-186f. We found the planet orbiting an M class dwarf, a red sun, back in early 2014. It’s habitable, but barely. The air is breathable, the water is potable, the vegetation is edible. We haven’t seen any native fauna, but I’m no zoologist. That was Valasques’ job.

When we landed, and I use that term loosely, the wind was too strong for us to set up our survival equipment. We had to weather the storm in the crew module. It passed after almost a week, then we set about building our domed houses. Azzimi, a structural engineer, made sure our houses could withstand the high winds.

He was the first to disappear. We don’t know when it happened. There were no screams, and no bootprints or tracks to follow, thanks to the constant winds. Over the next four months, nine more men disappeared under the same mysterious circumstances. The rest of us were petrified to leave each other’s sight.

There are only four of us left, and we always have one person on watch. We’re all very tired, bored, afraid, and resentful. We haven’t been apart from each other in more than six months. We have begun to hate and fear each other. Suspicion runs high, but we still need one person watching at all times. It’s my turn for watch, so that’s what I’m doing.

They say familiarity breeds contempt, and I agree. I hate those guys so much. I think I’ll go for a walk.

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Author : Christine Rains

All they cared about was the color red.

When we landed on blue-gray gaseous Kepler 3, the squirrel-like beings greeted us peacefully. The Keps were primitive and living in small farming communities. They’d never even seen the full spectrum of colors, but they were intelligent and eager to learn. We brought them machinery to help with their fungi crops and technology to make their everyday lives easier. We even shared with them the secrets of space travel.

The first time some of their kind entered one of our ships on the surface out of the color filtering atmosphere of the planet, they cried out and some fell to their knees. Our galactic allied flag was brightly dyed, and the ship’s name was in red letters underneath on the wall. The Keps reached out their stubby hands, trembling as they traced each letter.

We were proud to have made new friends and allies. Not all beings we met in the galaxy were friendly. Yet we humans managed to make enough allies to help us flourish in the darkness of space.

The Keps worshiped us at first. And, not surprisingly, we liked it. Yet we didn’t stop to understand why. We assumed it was because we were strong and smart. They were small and comic in our eyes. We had brought them into a new age. We were gods.

We were blind to when it started to change.

They created a new flag for their world and wore uniforms. All red. We saw it as a tribute. They learned about weapons and strategy. They became great pilots and techs. Every farmer became a warrior. The Keps left their planet and made space their home.

When they helped us win wars, we gloated. When they conquered our most feared enemies, we congratulated them. We were the most powerful alliance in the galaxy.

Then they turned on us. We didn’t understand why. We had given them so much.

We lost several billion humans in the fighting. We feared we’d become extinct. When the Keps accepted our surrender, we thought they would kill off the rest of us. They were hungry for violence and glory.

They kept us clustered in camps on Mars. Earth was no longer habitable having been devastated by the war.

The Keps used us as entertainment, but mostly for livestock. They’d bleed us to stain their flags and uniforms. The red kept its intense color through ingenious fabric preservatives. Our blood was so different from the bluish-black ichor in their veins. Perhaps it was a statement to other aliens of their superiority, but in the end, we realized it was something more primal. Something that reached into their hearts and souls to bring out centuries of suppressed anger, passion, and hostility.

It was the color red they truly worshiped.

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Orbital Debris

Author : Aradhana Choudhuri

“No. There’s no funds, Mr. Lawrence. None. We work with what we’ve got.”

“Then you have to repurpose this satellite, Mrs. President, or we start losing vital assets. We’re deep in Kessler syndrome time — LEO and GEO are going to have one catastrophic collision after another, each spawning off more debris. Chain reaction.”

“I get all that. That’s why I gave you Webb! The science lobby’s gonna go nuts if I give you this one too.”
“It’s the only one left that can monitor that segment of the graveyard orbit, warn us before we start losing the Geostationaries.”

“Why can’t you build more telescopes on the ground? I can scrounge a few million out of discretionary.”

“Ma’am, Earth-based telescopes can only look out at night. We’re already using each and every ground asset we can just to keep the nightside covered from dusk to dawn. Anything sunside we won’t know about till satellites start going down.”

“What about other countries? China started this problem with their testing, and they’re the only ones with enough money left to spend on watching outer-space garbage. It can’t hurt to ask.”

“You want to ask the People’s Republic of China to launch a constellation of telescopes pointed at us?”

“Nevermind. Tell me why the Japanese repurposing their visible-spectro-thingamabob satellite wasn’t enough.”

“It was never designed to focus fast-moving near-Earth objects. Pointing requirements have been thrown out the window, delta-V budgets make any kind of repositioning? The point is, it’s not enough.”

“The science lobby is powerful, Mr. Lawrence.”

“So is the telecom lobby, Mrs. President, and it’s a helluva lot more relevant to the average taxpayer.”

“I’m aware of that. That’s why I’m here.”

“Yes Ma’am. This is no longer about competing priorities — it’s about threats to the vital infrastructure of this country. You think the ARGOS/NOAA-L collision was bad? We’re going to start seeing one like that every three months.”

“When will the next one happen?”

“In ten minutes? Tomorrow? Probability goes up to better than ninety in two months.”

“Allright, Mr. Lawerence. I’ll sign it. You’ll have Kepler by the end of the quarter.”


…peoples of earth…2051 by the…transmission…share…speck of light in a…static…we heard you…must have…scope…hear us…wait…response…


…earth…093…share joy…by now you…have telescopes…transmit…AMGE…hear…respo…




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Why I Hate the Colonists

Author : John Eric Vona

I don’t listen to all that propaganda from Earth Authority. I’m not some mindless rocket rider, I can think for myself. Government announcements about the “barely human filth” living off-world are just filth themselves. They’re no less human; doesn’t matter what gravity you grow up in.

Of course, ten hours in a Gravely MDP-19 will change your mind about a lot of things. The 19s barely have enough room for a rockjock to climb inside, no wings or atmo ability, just a big pod. Engine on the back two feet from where you sit, guns mounted on the flanks and a thick glass dome that curves around the front from your feet to your head. Most new legs never get their wings because they can’t deal with the vertigo-inducing view.

Problem is, you’re only supposed to be in the thing for a few hours tops. Sure, they’ve got all the plumbing set up so you can empty your bladder out, but that’s it. Can’t eat, can’t shit, can’t scratch two thirds of your body. That’s what they get for outsourcing the production to Mars. You’re only supposed to be in there long enough for a close range fight, and I guess that’s what Com was expecting. I’ve got nothing against the Callys, but the EA had been drumming support up at home to put down any signs of rebellion that might stop ore shipments. I don’t think you can blame a person for wanting what they’re due but the authority had everyone on Earth hollering about the greedy, subhuman garbage living off world.

Long story short, we fly half way across the system to Callisto to find a small fleet of ships put together by a new coalition of Jupiter’s moons. Admiral calls all stop and deploys us rockjocks to protect the fleet but the colonists don’t do squat. They sit there in low orbit waiting for us to attack. With no rush to be in another fight, I’m fine with that for the first two hours. After ten, I’m a little pissed that they went through all the trouble to put together a fleet and then don’t attack us. Between being cramped and hungry, my wingman, Max, is worried the MDP-19’s dome doesn’t protect against heavy doses of radiation (Com chucked a few nukes at the rebels but they were so far away they had plenty of time to shoot them down so they detonated some between the fleets to try and scare the cowards).

“It’s just glass, Joe,” Max lamented.

“Bullet proof glass.”

“I can’t do it,” he said. “I can’t sit here any more.”

“Quit acting like a leg.”

“Why are we out here if the Colonists aren’t attacking?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. I didn’t blame the colonists for not wanting to fight over an ugly rock like Callisto, but they made us come all the way out here. “They’ll recall us soon.”

They did too. About forty minutes later Com recalled the MDPs and charged into low orbit. The colonists tore us up good as we tried to get past them, lost more than a few ships, but our gunners were cutting loose too and once we got through Com dropped a nuke on Callisto city and threatened to hit Keplersville (former second most populous city on the moon), if the rebels didn’t surrender immediately. They did. I watched the whole thing from the hanger deck and went to tell Max the good news but found that a missile had ripped into the dining hall where he was eating to settle his nerves.

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