In the distant future, humanity has expanded to fill every corner of the Solar System. Over 100 billion people live on its many planets, orbital rings and asteroids, and the resources are running out! Desperate measures need to be taken: humanity must find new places to go to and ways to manage what little it has left. But the universe is full of surprises! Between upheaval at home and hostile intelligences aboard, humanity will have its hands full. But no one said survival was easy!
The Martian soil. A cloud of frozen vapour passed in front of his eyes as a small gust of wind blew from the far horizon. The deep blues and indigos of the night sky shone in the scattered pools that cut through the red sand dunes. It was the magic hour, when the far sun was beginning to recede and sink into the earth. Terra hung in the distance, its orbitals twinkled like rings of silver lace and its lit-up side emitting pale shades of blue and green.
Delphus knelt down in front of the nearest pool. He scooped up the night sky and watched the stars slip between his fingers. Where it landed, a thousand sighs echoed in his ears. Distant Earth grew brighter, its oceans shining a brighter blue and rings of clouds forming in its skies. He felt a cool wave rush over him. Another gust of wind blew in, carrying the soft hints of a voice in it.
The sound was unmistakable, and it was beginning to grow in intensity. He turned to look in its direction and saw a dancing whirl of sand forming in front of him. The sand began to collect and take form, the voice becoming louder and identifiable as it did. The sand form became his second, and he had news.
“We’ve tapped the Virgin source, sir.”
“Is it good? Is it as good as we hoped?”
“It’s everywhere, sir. More than we can imagine. More than we could drink in our lifetimes, sir! Everything we could ever want, sir. It’s here! IT’S HERE!”
He knelt in the sand. The pools began to overflow and form into spouts. Water, crystals and starry eyes merged before him, washing over him and casting him adrift in the night. He was floating in a great sea of burning embers, ferried to somewhere far off.
The voice called again, this time it was much more distant.
He ignored the voice. It was unwelcome. Why was it unwelcome? Did it not hear the His eyes snapped open. The ceiling of the cavern appeared before him. Closing his eyes tightly, he cursed his luck. He was awake, and back on Phobos. Somehow, he knew it was too good to be true. The operations centre and its bleeping consoles roused him to full wakefulness, as unwelcome to him as the voice that had been shouting in his ear. Looking over to his right, he saw the source of it, sitting there and staring at him impatiently.
“What’s the time?” he asked aloud.
“Fifteen minutes to the ho
More by Matthew on obooko: Smartbomb; Liability