Thursday, August 20, 2015


Zeta Vaucouleurs Triangulum 10k(602)-39e (Concolir)
By E.S. Wynn (on Zero Dusk)

When you cross back into flat reality from the tides and swirling violence of between-space, you find yourself sliding immediately into orbit around a world that shines yellow and green, its surface cut and scarred by rough rivers of glassy black. From orbit, it looks alive, looks like one of those rare worlds in the endless sea of galaxies upon which an ecosystem has taken hold, evolved to colonize almost every inch of surface within its reach. A mote-probe sent on into the atmosphere turns up something else almost immediately, though – high concentrations of sulfur and chlorine in the thick air. Volcanic particulates, and even before your tiny sensor suite can reach the surface, it becomes clear that the gleaming shades of yellow and green aren't evidence of life at all – they're rivers of peridot and other precious shades of olivine, all long ago solidified and polished to shining by the carving hands of vicious winds laden with grains of fine, cutting sand. More recent rivers of rough, black basalt divide the gemstone glaciers in wide ribbons, some still cooling, still steaming, still breathing streamers of hydrochloric acid into the heavy, poisonous air.

Riding the tiny wings of your mote-probe over the surface, you chase a glassy river of peridot so clear that you can almost imagine you can see the core of the little world through it, that among the bubbles and lines of trapped air deep within, there are flickers of the planet's inner fire, violent and churning. When you cross into another plain of cinder and char, you follow it until the rushing, buffeting winds lead you to an active vent, and then you ride the thermals cast off by that fountaining firestorm exploding out of the world's turbulent depths, ride them into the dusty clouds of the upper atmosphere. Setting your mote-probe to return under its own power, you wait for it to dock with your ship before you turn again, spin up your ship's phasedrive and drop back into the rush and wail of between-space. Bound for other stars, other points of interest in the endless cosmos around you, you make a notation on the world, upload it to the database, silently reflect on what you've seen.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. Explore more alien worlds on Zero Dusk.


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