It’s worth checking out even if you’re only vaguely interested in my story, it’s origin, or my own dubious superpower. Check the interview out at the Midnight Echo site or on editor David Conyers’ website.
To further entice you, here’s an extract of “Graveyard Orbit”:
System: HD 209458 (designation: Osiris).
Distance from Earth: 150.4 light years (Pegasus Constellation).
“What in hell is that?” Walker pointed to the brown-yellow smudge on the central viewscreen.
Lost to his interface with the ship, Peng took a few moments to answer, “What?”
“You mean, ‘what, Captain,” Walker said with distraction. He’d spent the entire three month journey reminding his subordinates of his position, and correcting them had become an automatic response.
“Uh, yeah, what, Captain?” Peng said, although he remained interfaced with the ship and didn’t bother to turn to address him.
Peng’s crewmate—and the Wellington’s first officer—Huang was also interfaced, but he appeared to quiver slightly. Although his back was to Walker, he was sure Huang was suppressing laughter.
“Enough, you two,” Walker chided. “I want a full spectrum analysis on that planet. Thermal, radiation, gravity density mapping, atmospheric composition, the works.”
“Sure, Captain.” Huang swivelled in his chair to face Walker. “Although if you just interface… oh, very sorry, I forgot, you’re not enhanced.” The wireless pods embedded in Huang’s temples pulsed with lights. The magnetically insulated strips that ran up the sides of his neck and disappeared into his hairline strobed in a lightning-fast sequence of flashes.
Walker grimaced. The instant information Huang was accessing from the Wellington’stelemetry arrays was more of a slap in the face than his words—and Huang knew it. It wasn’t the first time his subordinates had mocked him for his humanity. Mundanes such as Walker were fast becoming obsolete. If he hadn’t owned the Wellington, he’d be unable to pick up work in interstellar exploration.
“Just show me what you have, Huang.” Walker sighed. “Main screen.”
The image was still grainy. Walker rubbed his eyes. The advanced telemetry of the *Wellington’s* equipment should have been able to display the visual with crystal clarity. Even with Huang’s tweaking, the image refused to resolve itself.
“Serious ionisation,” Peng muttered.
“Speak up, Peng,” Walker said.
Peng muttered something inaudible, lost as he was to the interface with the ship. Huang, too, was silent as he absorbed the data.
Walker thumped the arm of his chair. “Come on, guys! Don’t drift on me. I need answers!”
Peng straightened in his chair but took a few seconds to disengage from the data stream. “Osiris II has an atmosphere of approximately six hundred klicks. Apart from the ionisation, I’m getting no readings at all.”
“Something wrong with the equipment?” Walker asked.
“No,” Huang answered after a pause. “I ran a diagnostic and the arrays are in working order.”
Walker glanced at the planet on the main screen again. “Strange. It looks like pollution haze. Reminds me of home.”
Although his vision was unenhanced, Walker pressed his face to the nearest viewport. Until today, Osiris II had been an unclassifiable planet, identified only as a gravity distortion by telescopes in far orbit in the Sol System. Walker’s best guess was that it was akin to Venus, a rocky planet covered in a thick layer of gasses, but he needed a closer look.
“Move us into low orbit.” Walker commanded as he returned to his chair. “I want to pierce the veil.”
Within moments, the ship lurched to the right, and Walker’s stomach with it. The planet loomed in the viewport larger by the second.
As their approach vector changed, Walker spotted something.
“Stop the ship!” he called to the crew. Within seconds, the ship slowed and stopped. Walker’s stomach lurched a second time from the deceleration. He was forced to grip his chair tight to avoid being dumped on the floor.
“See that debris? What is that?” Walker asked.
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