standing on an alien world. I’m reminded of The Little Prince, as the horizon disappears jsut a few dozen miles around me in all directions. Pressing two fingers together in the suit calls up some stats in the hud display of the ‘fishbowl’ type dome helmet. All looks a-ok, so I blink it off. Lookig up, the distortion is frighteningly close from this view. It would be trite to say that the photos and even holograms failed to do it justice on Lambda station, but the photos and holograms really failed to do it justice. It’s so large in my visual field from here that it’s hard to focus on. Cubes appear to be tumbling out of… out of nothing, it looks like, though there are theories that it’s some sort of rip in spacetime, and what we’re seeing is some kind of interdimensional colloid leaking in, crystalizing, then immediately subliming as it.

All that professorial hand-wringing was irrelevant here, though. It was constantly frightening, the cubic shapes, giant like a looming moon approaching, a feeling of impending collision, and then a wash of stellar radiation as it disappeared like a ghost.

the tether [strike]. I retrieve the drill from my back, picturing myself drawing it like conan drawing his broadsword, and positiioning it perpendicuary to the surface of the tiny asteroid. As the barbed tip punctures the ground, fluid emerges from the pierced spot — if I didn’t know better, it would look as if the planetoid were bleeding from a puncture wound. Pervious expeditions hadn’t been prepared for this, and it had driven several mad. Commander rogers on mission 2 had started screaming until his voice was hoarse, and he’d ended up leaping toward the rift without tethering down first. Rest his soul.

I steeled myself for the next part. It’s a planetoid. It’s not alive. It can’t feel. I remind myself over and over again, as I re-attach the drill to the bracing on my back, swapping it for the grapple. Carefully plunging the needle tip down into the drilled well, I pull the aparatus at the end of the rod, to deploy the hooks. As I do so, the planetoid flinches, the whole ground moving like a giant skin earthquake. The hole contracts tightly arond the grapple, affiixing it solidly. I check the line and confirm that it’s firmly attached to the winch at my belt, and that the ratcheting mechanism appears set properly. Letting out a few lengths of cable, looping them in one hand. I look upward at the strange, shapeless movement above. a deep hollowness grips in my chest, and the quote about the abyss staring back… I can’t think. I have to act, or I won’t act.

Squaring my feet, I crouch to a quarter squat, and leap upward, off the tiny sphere, and toward… no one knows.