Space Shorts showcase

  • Wormholes and Revelations

    by Tintin Nguyen

    “Yeeeee-hawwww!”

    I uttered an indescribable sense of excitement like when I savored my first roller coaster drop, except that it was a gravitational slingshot by an intermediate-mass black hole. Taking advantage of the immense gravity of the black hole, this dramatic altercation in motion propelled the spacecraft into nearly the speed of light.

    In a few moments, literally before I could finish this sentence, the spacecraft entered another zone of extreme turbulence as a dazzling marble emerged in the desolated vast space and surrounding galaxies became increasingly warped. An astonishing whirlwind of red-hot plasma swirled in front of my eyes under the extremities of spacetime curvature. Pink Floyd’s timeless classic "Dark Side of the Moon" album passionately played in the background to complete this stunning psychedelic audiovisual space traveling experience. Under the incredible maneuver skills of the crew, we had landed safely on an artificial gravity space station, which was stably constructed at the Lagrangian point, where the outward centrifugal force equaled inward gravitational influences, of the binary system consisted of the white dwarf BPM 37093 and the wormhole Thorne.

    Fun facts time! BPM 37093 was a sparkling crystalline core remnant of the dead star, so astronomers had nicknamed it “Lucy” according to The Beatles track "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Meanwhile, the wormhole was named after Kip Thorne, the pioneer of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which made the first observations of black hole heavyweights colliding with each other.

    There were many fascinating sports and games that could only be possible on an artificial gravity space center. Imagine a nerf war showdown in the presence of adjustable gravity where you can make insane acrobatic moves to dodge or shoot bullets in all kinds of trajectories you can dream of. However, my insatiable curiosity in cosmology did not allow me to leave the research office of Dr. Greene, my research advisor. “I am pessimistic about natural wormholes,” I once inquired Dr. Greene, “Quantum fluctuation allows submicroscopic wormholes to pop in and out of existence in God’s game of dice. But as gigantic as Thorne? I can’t wrap my head around it.”

    “Higher-dimensional beings might have created Thorne,” Dr. Greene casually replied.

    “How so?” my curiosity was piqued.

    “Let’s say a two-dimensional subject is traversing back and forth, left and right on this plane,” he slowly elaborated as he took out a piece of paper. “Normally, it has to travel quite a long way across the paper. If I, a three-dimensional figure, wrap the paper and connect the two edges of the sheet, it has an alternative shortcut to accomplish that.”

    Inspired by the conversation, I joined the Survey Corps to venture into Thorne and seek answers to my inquiries. Through Thorne, which acted as a traversable bridge, Thorne alpha or Thα was found located at 150 billion light-years away, outside the observable universe. However, it was the mystifying gravitational-wave signal detected inside Thorne that spurred the interest. Slowly but surely, the Survey Corps, a collaboration of physicists, logicians, computer scientists, cryptanalysts, and linguists, developed a quantum decoder to tackle the enigma.

    “From the CREATORS...” we gasped at the first deciphered words but were soon perplexed by what followed, "...of the universe."

    “You. The universe. Are all part of our simulation. All those chaos. And randomness. Are programmed.”

    The revelation has arrived. Our three-dimensional cosmos is nothing but an illusion, a virtual reality of an ultra-advanced four-dimensional civilization. We are sentiment and autonomous programs in a world dictated by zeros and ones.

    “So our first interaction in Thorne is in your plan?” the Survey Corps responded through emitted gravitational waves.

    “Yes. It’s time to integrate our worlds.”

    Author Biography: I am a sophomore majoring in Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation, I aspire to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and a research career in Black Holes and Cosmology. Every time I stare at the ocean of sparkling stars in the sky, my problems become non-existent at the realization of the limitless mysteries and possibilities out there in space. When I am not daydreaming about space science, I enjoy listening to rock music, playing tennis, watching movies, and volunteering in educational activities.

  • Pulsating Life

    by Wade Olsson

    I am standing on a gigantic, fascinating rock, slingshotting around the Earth in an almost-perfect elliptical orbit. I am the youngest person on the Moon at age 29 and I’m here because of Henrietta Leavitt. As commander and astrophysicist of Artemis 6, I lead our incredible team of two physicists, a pilot, and a mathematician. We’ve trained together for six years. My team's LHM (lunar habitation module) is located at the Philolaus Crater near the South Pole. Our lunar lander (nicknamed The Moth) stands on the edge of the crater. The drone (Leavitt’s Fruit Fly) is about 50 meters away and lies in its capsule. Its job is to detect Cepheid stars. When we launch Leavitt’s Fruit Fly we will open up the capsule, revealing a gleaming metal octagon with six thin poles called magnetometers, which detect magnetic fields of stars. Underneath the drone there are three small monopropellant hydrazine thrusters. Once unpacked, we’ll put it in our lunar rover (The Jackrabbit). My team and I will take it out to the far edge of the crater, place it on pad 3A, and launch to neighboring Solar Systems. The stars have guided us home before, and now, they guide us through the unknown.

    Author Biography: Homeschooled, swim teamer, space enthusiast and fish fanatic. I like to read, play piano, and build things.

  • Purple and black background with a swirling brown/orange orb with the script text saying "The Solaris," The planet inside a human's mind

    The Solaris

    by Samantha Soriano

    Sol didn't have any family that she could recall, nor anyone who is close to her heart that she
    remembers. It had always been the cold grey bars of her cell and the harsh treatment from
    the scientists that ran the place. Every now and again around evening time when she was
    truly asleep, she longed for voices.
    Voices that seem...familiar.
    But everytime she opens her eyes in the morning, she just gets disappointed. She barely
    remembers anything about what she has dreamt nor the owner of the voices she has heard.
    It seems like deja vu. She hoped only on the chance that she would remember someday.
    They didn't know her, however now and again she was in their dream fluxes, an
    inconsistency that apparently shouted out for help, yet from what they weren't sure. They had
    consistently been there for one another, twins that were so similar yet not at the same time.
    The improbable couple that endured being nothing, to fighters, and afterward to cutting edge
    heroes for the auto-bots.
    It appeared to be however that both were unavoidably tied on some more profound degree
    of awareness to the teenager young lady that couldn't recall. It wouldn't be until in a little while
    that they met. A predetermination of destiny worked in the stars, a preliminary of difficulties
    and pain, yet bliss would come to sprout in the center.
    She would turn into their beginning and end, their everything, and they would thus turn into
    her everything as well.
    “Please let me go! Don’t do this to me!” Patient 07 cried out as the nurses held her towards a
    dark room. The testing room was filled with whimpers, her mind was filled with hazy thoughts.
    She has gone through this dozens of times yet every time those two patches was sticked to
    her temples it feels like the very first time.
    A scientist appeared. “Machine starting in 3…2-“
    “NO! P-Please no..” Sol continues to cry and exclaim. But everything seems like darkness
    when she felt those lightning bolts enter her body, straight to her mind. She closes her eyes
    as she groans loud because of the pain, but her whines slowly lose with the weakness she
    perceived as she closes her eyes and falls in a deep sleep.
    ‘Dream fluxe, now initiated,’ a robotic figure said.
    The scientist smirked in satisfaction and looked at a nurse that was previously holding the
    lady. “Patient 07 seems to be the most interesting.”
    Sol wakes up when she felt that she was having a difficulty in breathing. She can’t see
    anything but a thick smoke. She escapes the bed and walks with her bare feet to escape the
    fog, she closes her eyes to prevent it from the pain the smoke was bringing.
    As her eyes rise from being closed, she was greeted with a bunch of stars that shines a lot
    brighter than normal. She roams her eyes and saw eight round figures surrounded by stars,
    moons, and the… sun? Her brows furrowed at the sight. Was she in another planet? But
    there are only eight planets! Where could she possibly be at?
    She rejects to think more.
    Sol felt her bare foot touch grainy particles. Oh, sand. She walks further when she hears
    water and saw a breathtaking sea. The stars seem to enter her eyes when they twinkled on
    the beauty of the sky. It was filled with pretty colors that are reflecting in the large sea.
    “Solary!” A voice of a lady was heard. “You’re finally back!”
    Sol turns to her back to find where the voice came from. She saw an older woman who is
    wearing a knitted sweater. The lady ran and hugged her. She felt warmth, comfort, and…
    home.
    “M-Mother?”
    Another figure appeared, a tall man who strangely looked at her. He was holding a kid who
    has a teddy bear on its hand. “Father! Ethan!” Solary runs to the two, realizing it was her
    family who approached her.
    “Welcome back home, my daughter.”
    “ Me and my teddy bear misses your stories!”
    “We missed you a lot, our sunshine!”
    It wasn’t just her family but his friends and relatives too. They greeted her back one by one.
    How could Sol possibly forget them? Something was familiar, though. She felt a pang on her
    chest when she recognized the voices. Those were the voices that she was hearing in her
    dreams.
    Her eyes starts to water with the mixed emotions she was feeling. She doesn’t know where
    she is, but she is sure she was happy. “I- Wherever I am now, I don’t want to be away from
    it.”
    The crowd of students clapped at the unique story they heard. The speaker looks at them,
    she noticed one girl who has a frown on her face. The wondering kid raised her hand and the
    speaker quickly accommodated her. “Do you have any question, sweetheart?”
    “I don’t understand. There are eight planets and Solary saw them all. Where could she
    possibly be? And where she‘s at seems to be strange. Is there really a ninth planet?”
    The speaker smiled. “Yes there is, darling.”
    All the students’ brows seem to furrow, making her clear out her statement.
    “There are eight planets outside the Earth, and the last planet..” the speaker pointed her
    brain. “Is in our mind.” Her lips rose. “The stars symbolized her eyes who always wonder, the
    sea for her calm yet unwavering spirit, and the sky for her whole personality… it changes yet
    it’s still attractive. Our thoughts are also filled with the people we love- our family and friends.
    She wasn’t in an ordinary planet… she’s inside the Solaris. The Solaris is a living planet that
    reflects who Solary is. It’s the planet of her thoughts.”
    A student stood up. “I heard that name before.”
    The speaker chuckled. “Did you perhaps heard it when I was introduced? Because yes, my
    name is Solary. The creator of Solaris.”

    Author Biography: Samantha is a high school student who loves reading a lot. She believes that each species in this world has a planet of their thoughts, which made her write Solaris. This story is the product of her imaginary thoughts about the celestial bodies and love for writing.

  • Manned Mission to Asteroid

    by Peyton Kowalski

    Shooting up fly high
    Burning through the atmosphere
    Docking in orbit

    Docking finishes
    Computer asks "are you sure"
    The universe warps

    Flying through space
    Slowing to a stop soon
    Centrifuge is on

    Starting science
    Checking the apoapsis
    Temperature check

    All systems stable
    Preparing for E.V.A
    Checking the airlock

    Tying tethers
    Sampling asteroid
    Floating back to ship

    Author Biography: My name is Peyton I'm 14 and just started high school at TVHS. Go Hawks!

  • One Stellar Rose

    by John Jariel Dale S. Uychua

    There was once an old man who unfortunately got infected with a fatal disease because of taking
    a whiff from an intoxicated rose, which was ironic since the rose was his favorite flower. The
    incident caused him to be confined in a hospital in hopes to cure or lessen the pain caused by the
    disease.
    “Can I be cured doctor?” he asked.
    The doctor replied, “Since this is a quite rare case, it might take a long time and the chance of
    being fully cured is very low.”
    The old man was shocked for a moment, but quickly regained his composure and said, “Well, it
    is not impossible, so I guess that’s fine.” The old man thanked the doctor, and she left the room.
    Alone in the room, the old man slowly drifted to sleep. He was awoken and found himself in an
    unusual place. Suddenly a mysterious shining figure appeared, he could not see it well, but he
    presumed it was a man.
    The figure said, “Welcome David.” The old man was perplexed to hear that the being knew his
    true name.
    David asked, “Who are you, and how do you know my name?”
    The figure replied, “That is not important, the important thing right now is you.” The figure
    pointed at David’s chest. “What is your biggest dream, David?” The figure asked. “Since I was a
    child, I’ve always dreamt about exploring the galaxy with my friend,” David replied. “Let’s go
    then.” The figure said, “Hold my hand.” Confused, David held the being’s hand and miraculously
    went back to being a kid again and now in front of the literal moon.
    Puzzled, David asked the being, “How?” Instead of answering the being just gave him a cheeky
    smile.
    Still confused but somehow composed, David and the being walked in space as if there was land
    to walk in. Together, they explored the solar system and saw the different planets, they even
    found Jupiter’s 80th moon. As they walked in the dreamy environment, they saw a group of
    unfamiliar life forms.
    “What are those?” David asked. “Those are Amphybirons, they are the life-forms inhabiting the
    planet Siq.” The being answered.” “That seems rather unfitting but at the same time we are
    called humans despite living in a planet called Earth, so I guess that’s fine,” David said.
    They continued their journey and stopped by some planets and experienced several exotic and
    unique cultures and cuisine. They went star gazing but kept being alert since they were in a zone
    where they could be hit by asteroids at any moment.
    While on their journey they found a planet that seemed very similar to earth. They decided to
    take a rest on the planet for a while. 
    As they were taking their rest, David asked the being, “Can I call you Lai?” The being then said,
    “May I ask why?”. “Well, it’s just that I see my late friend in you.” he answered,
    “He died when we were young, we were supposed to watch the first-ever meteor shower visible
    to our town that night.” “I waited hours for him, but he didn’t return.”
    “I only knew of his demise when I went home, if only I was with him that time, maybe he
    would’ve been with me until now, just like what we always say, together with the stars, together
    with you until the end of time.”
    David broke to tears as the being, now called Lai comforted him. “Of course you can David, you
    can call me Lai if you want.”
    They went to sleep and as they woke up, they found an unexpected number of meerkats just
    staring at them. It turns out that the planet they found that looked like Earth was inhabited by
    meerkats.
    They readied themselves and waved goodbye to the meerkats as they take the space flight once
    more. As they continued their exploration they found several space warships, some active and
    some abandoned.
    They were gliding through the stars until they found an out-of-place garden just floating around
    in space without any other planets around it. They decided to check it out and found it full of rot
    and decayed plants. Noticing some slight hints of footprints, they figured that someone or
    something once inhabited it before it fell from its beauty. As David was searching for possible
    souvenirs, he found a healthy and most beautiful rose.
    “Take a look, it’s a healthy rose”, David said to Lai with amazed eyes. “What a find.” Lai said,
    “Why don’t you keep it as a souvenir.” “Of course, I will it’s my favorite flower,” David replied.
    “Said by the one who caught a disease because of sniffing one.” Said Lai chuckling.
    “Hey! Don’t say that, it’s my favorite flower, and besides, how did you know I have a disease and
    it was caused by a rose?” David said with an annoyed look on his face.
    “Uhm, oh we have to go now since it's already time for our opera show by the Pladyians come on
    we must be quick,” Lai said. “Wait slow down let me pick up the flower first,” David replied.
    As they went to Pou, the planet that where the supposed opera show was going to be held, David
    can’t help but wonder how Lai knew about his condition. When they landed on Pou, they were
    encountered by nothingness. It turns out that the planet the show was going to be held in is
    called Lou, not Pou. As disappointed as they were, they felt a pull on their back and presumed it
    was the ship of the opera show. Unfortunately, as they turned around, they were face to face
    with a black hole, which sucked them in.
    Now in a void of darkness, Lai surprisingly can’t help but be scared.
    “David, David!”, Lai kept calling for him but didn’t get a response.
    Now alone, Lai who was once shining as bright as the stars, slowly started losing his glow. He
    shed a tear as his eyes close, worried for David’s safety.
    He was suddenly awoken and found himself in a spaceship with David.
    “David?” Lai asked as David suddenly hugged him. “Where were you, I was so worried about
    you,” David said while crying. “I didn’t even know either but at least we’re both safe,” Lai replied
    with a sigh of relief.
    “Okay enough drama and crying you’re going to make the spaceship blow up.” A mysterious
    voice said.
    “Who is that?” Lai said starting to worry again. “Oh, it's-“The name is Mob. Nice to meet you,
    radiant one” David was Interrupted by a short robot-like being called Mob.
    “Hey! I was about to introduce you.” David said annoyed. “Well, I already introduced myself
    first.” Mob said with pride.
    “Okay now don’t fight.” “Nice to meet you Mob,” Lai said. “Nice to meet you too” Mob replied.
    “May I ask how are you able to operate this spaceship in a black hole?” Lai asked. “Oh, it’s
    simple, you see the environment within a black hole is not as scary as you think, if you ignore the
    darkness, you will see light.” Mob replied.
    Suddenly a dash of light dazzled the spaceship. “Oh, look we’re already here.” Mob said. “Uh,
    what exactly is this place?” David worried but still in awe asked. “It’s Metopia!” Mob replied
    with a happy look in his place.
    As the spaceship slowly landed, they were greeted by a village full of light and happiness. David
    and Lai were in awe as they saw shops, restaurants, and a whole population all full of smiles.
    After safely landing they decided to explore it. Again, they met a whole lot of different beings,
    some were tin cans, and some were even human. They filled their stomachs up with the village’s
    signature dish, Smile Steak. They found a resting place and lie down.
    “What a beautiful place, no worries, no problems, and full of smiles,” David said.
    “Yeah, it truly is beautiful, I wish my hometown was like this,” Lai replied.
    “What? I am sure that your hometown is as dazzling as you are Lai,” David said looking at Lai.
    “Ha! I hate to inform you that you are mistaken, all my life, I’ve been told to follow the rules and
    go with the flow even if I don’t want to,” Lai replied.
    “Lai,” David said with a saddened look. “But I don’t care about it anymore, I will just continue
    living my life as I am now,” Lai replied.
    “That’s good, just always remember that I am here for you Lai, cause you’re my friend,” David
    said.
    Suddenly the whole village slowly turned into the night sky, filled with stars. David stood up and
    invited Lai.
    “Come on Lai, let’s dance.”
    Pulling Lai’s hand, they danced together in the starlit night. Sharing the same look of happiness.
    The next day they asked Mob if he knew how to go back to Earth. Fortunately, Mob knew the
    way out of the black hole and offered to let them ride on his spaceship to go back to Earth. They
    accepted the offer and boarded the ship. As they traveled, they saw all the sights they visited. 
    They reminisce as they look at the starry sky in space. Finally, they were dropped off on the
    moon by Mob.
    “Well, I guess this is goodbye then,” Lai said.
    “Yeah, it has been a long journey, and I will always treasure it for all my life,” David replied
    smiling but holding back tears.
    “Well then, goodbye, Lai,” David said. “Goodbye, David,” Lai said as David slowly took his steps
    to Earth. Lai turned around and went the opposite way as David.
    Suddenly he heard footsteps approaching him. He turned around to see David, eyes filled with
    tears approaching to hug him.
    “Why didn’t you continue?” Lai asked.
    “I don’t want to go back anymore,” David replied still crying. “I want to stay here with you.”
    Lai replied, “You can’t you need to go back to Earth or else.”
    “Or else what,” David replied.
    “Or else.” “Or else my human body will die?” Lai startled was interrupted by David’s voice.
    “I don’t give a damn about my life on earth anymore, I don’t have any friends, I don’t have a
    family, I don’t have anything!” “So tell me why, why should I go back to that life that’s already
    gone anyway.”
    “If I’m already being offered everything, why should I even consider going back to nothing,”
    David replied full of emotion which makes Lai break into tears.
    “Because I want you to live!” Lai replied. “I want you to live your life.”
    David slapped Lai in the face and said, “You idiot, how am I going to live my life on earth if my
    life is here.” Lai couldn’t say a word.
    “Now let’s go, let’s continue our journey in this mystical place, called space.”
    David said as his heart rate went down to zero. The doctor rushed to enter the room and found
    that David’s heart monitor truly read zero, seeing this, Dr. Mobius declared him dead. Before
    leaving the room, she noticed a scarlet red rose and a mysterious letter beside David’s hospital
    bed. Curious, she opened the letter and it read,

    Dear friend,
          See you at 7:30 PM, let’s go watch the meteor shower together.
    Lai.
    PS: “Please don’t be late I will be really sad if you do, and I will be worried if you get lost and get
    into an accident, so please be on time and be safe okay.”

    Author Biography: I am John Jariel Dale S. Uychua, a student from Pasig Catholic College located in the Philippines. I have always been fascinated by the idea of being able to create one story from an infinite amount of ideas. Though I am quite young, I have been told that I act like an adult, which might be a compliment or not. I believe that stories as short as one sentence, or as long as a compilation of novels, are still counted as pieces of art since it contains the essence of the one who wrote it.

  • Spacer

    by Henry Payne

    “You’re going to get us killed!” Derek Tracer shouted as the sleek, silver and black starship soared the black canvas of space like a supercharged bullet. 
    “Race you to heaven then, Tracer!” Dawn Pancamo, the pilot of the ship, replied back. He was sitting in his captain’s chair in a lean posture, as if the three electromagnetically propelled engines of their starship weren’t close to overheating and vaporizing them into star dust. His blond hair hung loosely and he constantly adjusted it to keep it out of his blue eyes. Right now, those eyes may as well be stars themselves as Derek took note of their mad glimmer.
    “I’d rather we race to Mars like we intended instead of that. Cool it with the throttle, seriously, we are about to come into orbit.” Derek said as the blue and green expanse of Earth grew larger in their view. Just beyond it, McDonalds was advertising its new “Lunar Burger” on the vid screen of a passing He3 cargo hauler. A dozen other ships drifted by in the busy traffic of Earth’s orbit. 
    Dawn eased on the engines and started drifted towards the lineup of starships where several independent camera drones and satellites had gathered. “I’d say we made record time, co-pilot. Looks like some of the other racers aren’t even here yet. Maybe they turned coward when they heard I was competing.”
    “That or they had the good sense not to risk a sentence on a prison colony for illegal space racing.” Derek chided. 
    Dawn just laughed. “Me and good sense broke up a long time ago. It wasn’t her, it was me. Great gal though, tell her I said sup’.” 
    “Well, I need to go to the lavatory before this gets underway. Don’t blow us up while I’m gone.”
    “The lavatory? Just call it a bathroom like the rest of the solar system.” Dawn said.
    Derek got up from his co-pilot seat and entered the lavatory a few moments later. He turned on the faucet and internal fan then flicked on the hidden interstellar communicator in his sleeve.
    “This is Agent Tracer; the suspect is at the race. No sign of the stolen equipment, but—” He was cut off by the voice on the other end.
    “That stolen equipment is worth more than your life, Agent. If we have to go back to the UN and NASA empty handed because some spacer trash like Pancamo ran off with their propulsion engines and you didn’t nab him with it we will be in a world of hurt.” His UN Intelligence mission handler told him.
    “I understand, sir. He is protective of his ship, despite him hiring me he still hasn’t shown me detailed speccs for his three engines. Though I’m certain he has the stolen equipment. There is no way a civilian can get ahold of a ship as fast as this one.”
    “Well, you need to work fast, Agent. Get evidence of the stolen equipment and cuff him. We need space jockeys like him behind bars and not on the space lanes, Mission Control out.” The connection went silent. 
    Derek let out a breath as he looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. His brown hair was a tussled mess and his green eyes were punctuated with dark rings of stress. He couldn’t fail this mission, he couldn’t fail the system. If there was no system there was no order and without order in a space age society there was potential for great catastrophe. He straightened himself up as best he could and exited.
    A few steps later he was back beside Dawn who was still lounging. This time he was engaged in a rare activity, he had a book in his hand.
    “Where did you get that—no, more importantly why are you reading a book?” Derek asked. 
    Dawn looked up from his novel with a lopsided grin on his face. “Same place I get most things, fell off a starship.” Translation: I stole it, Derek thought.
    “A physical paperback book could net a small fortune to the right buyer. Would have figured you’d sell something like that. What’s it even about?”
    “Us.” Dawn said simply.
    Derek blinked. “What do you mean it’s about ‘us’?” 
    Dawn’s smile grew wider. “Free men, renegades, banditos. It’s about friggin’ cowboys, Tracer!”
    “I don’t remember cowboys flying around on millions of credits worth of equipment in the vacuum of space. I suppose your no doubt homeschooled education took a couple liberties on that topic?” 
    Dawn chuckled. “Can it with the jokes, I’m serious. These are guys who are coming out to a place that’s desolate, unexplored, and ripe for opportunity if they have the guts and determination to stick with it. And if they do, they don’t have a laundry list of laws holding them back from living their best lives.” Dawn’s eyes glazed over as he turned out to the viewport, the sun rising over Asia far in the distance. 
    “Only difference is The West isn’t a frontier everyone is connected to. It’s a uniquely American thing. Like samurai or knights, it’s tied to a culture. But, being a take-no-crap spacer with a hot rod ship and zero rules? That’s not bound to a culture.” He turned to meet Tracer’s gaze.
    “That’s uniquely human.” 
    Derek pondered for a moment. He was certainly in a boundless expanse of opportunity, but he was far from free. He had a duty to uphold and he knew he had to fulfill it. But, there was something so appealing about this notion. That this was their generations “West”. And what was he doing? Conspiring to arrest a man who embodied that very idea he found enviable. He pushed his thoughts away and spoke. 
     “I guess I see your point. I’m still just curious how you became this new age cowboy in the first place. Lotta civilian engines out there, but yours runs like a dream. When are you going to give me a peek at the speccs?”
    Dawn merely smiled. “Tell you what, buddy, if we clear this first milestone at Luna I’ll let you take a deeper peek under the hood.”
    Derek smiled. “Agreed.” 
    “RACER START YOUR ENGINES” The synthetic announcer said over the radio.
    “Finally, battle stations, Tracer. It’s about to get good.” Dawn said.
    Derek and Dawn moved robotically as they flipped switches, turned dials, and pressed a series of buttons that would prepare the starship for the race. 
    “READY? THREE, TWO, ONE…GO!” 
    The starship shot off like an amped up jack rabbit as the myriad other starships were fighting to gain ground. Numbers flashed by the litany of terminal screens before Derek Tracer’s eyes. Engine temperature, conductivity percentages, Lorentz force readings and other data. This ship was a marvel of the modern age and it was leaving the competition in the space dust. However, an obstacle revealed itself to the unsuspecting racers. 
    “They have mag mines littered all over this route!” Tracer shouted as he read the ships scanners. Mag mines were magnetic devices that could activate and draw in any metal object within its several kilometer radius and activate an EMP wave once in range, effectively rendering the ship dead in the water.
    “Well, we got other problems, buddy.” Dawn said as Tracer took note of the blood red, axe shaped starship pressing up on their rear. Tracer recognized it to be the famed “Red Baron” of the illegal space races. A ruthless racer that gave no succor in their vicious ambition to be number one in the circuit. More than a few “accidental” collisions have been attributed to that racer…and right now he was coming in at ramming trajectory!
    “Try and juke him!” Tracer shouted.
    “That’s what I’m trying to do, hotshot. Tricky thing to manage with all these mag mines around.” As he said so, two starships were ripped from their paths in the race and were pulled into the field of one of the mag mines. There was a blue pulse, and the ships went into a dead drift.
    “Then you know what we need to do.” Tracer said.
    “This early? I don’t know man.” 
    “You hired me to be your co-pilot, Dawn. You told me you wanted someone who could keep up, not catch up. Act like a cowboy then and put your heel into this baby!” Derek surprised even himself with the steel and spacer flare he put into his words. Was Pancamo rubbing off on him, he wondered.
    Dawn just smiled. “You got it, chief.” He gripped a heavy red lever in the cockpit and jerked it forward as the three engines hummed in unison. The Red Baron was poised to ram the starship into a mag mine when his quarry suddenly bolted with force strong enough to shake the heavens. It was a silver and black blur on the space lanes as recording drones attempted to capture it in motion for the viewers across the solar system. What they had done was a risky move, they sacrificed one of their engines for a monstrous burst of speed that would propel them past the first checkpoint at the Moon. The first engine died down, dead from the sheer outburst of conducted energy. As they started to drift, the checkpoint finish line approached. A circular tube that was electromagnetically charged to jolt them across the expanse of space to the next starting zone.
    “Woo! Bet he thought he had a chance for a sec there, eh Trace? Punk should just jet off to the Venus circuit with all the other trust fund pansies looking to impress their college friends. Good call with cutting the first engine, it will lower our speed overall, but we are still half a hundred times faster than the rest of these junkers.” Dawn said patting Tracer on the back.
    He tried to remain professional, but he couldn’t help but smile. “I think the Baron will think twice about pulling a stunt like that on us.” He paused for a moment. “I can’t take all the credit thought, it was your maneuvering that got us away from him and away from the mag mines.”
    “Aww, you’re making me blush, Trace.” Dawn said teasingly. “I guess you want to see the speccs now, huh?”
    “I…” He felt his voice catch in his throat. The mission, Tracer. Stop paling around with Pancamo and find the evidence. He’s an interplanetary criminal, not your friend. 
    “What? Martian got your tongue? Or did you think your buddy Dawn was just talking hot vapor and wasn’t gonna keep his word?” Dawn said.
    “No, it’s just…I guess I can take a look at it another time. Let’s just celebrate right now before the next leg starts.”
    Dawns smile grew wider. “I’ll get the drinks.” He unstrapped himself from the pilot’s chair and rushed off to the back off the ship. Tracer’s communicator was pinging. He scurried off to the bathroom once more as he felt a jolt as the ship passed through the checkpoint.
    “This is Agent Tracer, go ahead sir.”
    “Give us a sitrep on your progress, Agent.”
    Tracer hesitated for a beat. “Pancamo trusts me enough to show me the speccs, but I don’t want to rush things yet. If I seem to eager I may make him suspicious. I should be completing the mission soon, but I have to let you know that the Red Baron is here, sir. I think we should make it a priority to take him in as well seeing as his rap sheet includes seven counts of—”
    “Agent, please stick to your mission parameters. The Red Baron is irrelevant and we need to focus on recovering that property.” The mission handler said icily.
    “I know, sir, but—”
    “But nothing, boy! You’ve been dragging your feet ever since you took that assignment. Either you follow your orders or I bust you back down to a desk job down in Baltimore! What’s with all these diversions and excuses? Don’t tell me you’re getting friendly with that piece of trash?”
    “No, sir, I’m merely just been going about completing my mission in the best way I saw fit.” Tracer said apologetically. 
    “Well then the parameters just changed. You get the evidence and nab Pancamo before he makes it to Mars or you’re through, am I clear?” 
    Tracer fought back a sigh. “Crystal, father.”
    The handler hung up without another word. 
    It was now or never. His father had never been satisfied with how hard he worked for the agency before. Despite the fact that Tracer always kept to the rules and never made a habit of thinking for himself. It was a new frontier like Pancamo said, wild and untamed and people like his father had nothing on their mind except for how to police it. An engine like Pancamo’s would never see the civilian market and if it did it would cost a fortune. Why shouldn’t a regular joe get a chance at exploring the stars, at blazing trails without a care for who’s stuffy regulations got in the way? Being orderly had never got him anywhere, perhaps it was time to make a change.
    He returned back to the co-pilots chair where Pancamo had the drinks ready. After swapping stories and bantering, they both received the alert that the second half of the race was about to begin. Mars awaited them. 
    “READY? THREE, TWO, ONE, GO!”
    They had a clear lead over the other racers, but it was not as large as it was previously. The sacrifice of one of the engines gave enough time for several starships to gain on their tail. One of them was the Red Baron. He juked to the left and knocked one starship off course that collided with another, causing both to crash and emergency escape pods to be launched. The red orb of Mars grew larger. In the distance, there was a large crowd of camera drones and floating red lights the denoted the finish line.
    “We can do this, Dawn! Let’s go all in, burn the second engine!” 
    “Ditto, chief!” Dawn moved his hand hit the lever when reading flashed across a terminal informing them that the Red Baron had just burned one of his engines.
    “Brace yourself!” Tracer shouted as he gripped the chair tight enough to whiten his knuckles. A hard collision was felt at the back of the ship as they both rocked violently. 
    “That little twerp has some gall, I think he just crashed one of our engines.” Dawn said as he desperately flicked switches and dials to try and bring it back online. “Get back there and see what you can do, take my access key for the terminal.” He said handing him said key.
    Tracer looked at it for a moment before steeling himself and rushing towards the engine room. It was a sparking, gibbering mess as he saw bits of metal had flung free about the room and wires hung loosely about. He plugged in the key and accessed the data on the engine room terminal. The speccs of the ship were laid bare, Pancamo had indeed possession of the stolen engines. But, Derek Tracer didn’t care anymore. He was going to patch things up as best he could and he and his friend were going to win this thing.
    “Hurry up back there, these bozos are passing us one by one! We’ll be lucky if we can snag 8th place!” Dawn shouted over the intercom.
    “I know, I’m working as fast as I can!” Tracer shouted back. His personal comm was buzzing once more. He answered.
    “Agent Tracer, reporting in.”
    “Hello, Agent.” An unfamiliar voice said. “I don’t suppose you care much about keeping your job?” 
    “Who is this?”
    “I believe you and I are decently acquainted. My ram and your aft section that is.” The voice said impishly. 
    “The Red Baron? How do you have this frequency.” Tracer demanded.
    “Because I gave it to him.” His father said as he announced his presence on the call. “Did you really think you were the only undercover asset on this mission, son? Did you really think I had that much faith in you? Well, I supposed I did at one point but you’ve proven beyond doubt you aren’t fit for the job. You always went on about wanting to see the stars and what was beyond your desk life. And the one chance I give you ends up being squandered because you get cold feet over a criminal buddy. The Baron has been instructed to take you in.”
    Tracer felt a pit form in his stomach and his knees felt weak. “I don’t believe this, you trusted a criminal over your own son? Someone known to sow chaos in his wake for the price of winning? If that’s order then I want no part in it.”
    “Order comes at any cost. The stars were meant to be organized, not explored at a child’s whim. Careful deliberation and regulation are needed to keep humanity going. Spacer hooligans are a detriment to such a society. If the Red Baron has to crash a couple spacers in the process in exchange for intel, I say let him.” His father said.
    “Then this is goodbye, forever. My life isn’t behind a desk on Earth. It’s out here in the frontier.” He hung up the comm and crushed it underfoot and resumed the repairs.
    Dawn felt a bead of sweat trickle down his brow as he saw more and more starships over take him. He was about to call for Tracer when he saw him burst in covered in sweat and engine coolant.
    “We only got one shot at this, partner. I jury rigged the engine as best I could, but only way we can gain back lost ground is on a gamble. Are you prepared for that?”
    Dawn chuckled. “Sure, Lady Luck and I go way back, Trace.” He moved his hand to the lever.
    “Dawn, there’s something else I need to tell you. It’s about me.”
    “What? That you’re a UN intel agent sent her to cuff me for those NASA engines I stole way back when?” He said without skipping a beat.
    Tracer felt as if he had been punched in the face. “How in the world did you know?” 
    “Two-way intercoms on the ship my friend, been hearing all your private “lavatory” transmissions.”
    “Why didn’t you say anything?”
    Dawn grinned. “Because I knew you’d make the right choice, cowboy.” 
    They shared a moment of understanding that went beyond words as Derek smiled back. 
    Derek Tracer sat down next to his friend and captain. He placed his hand atop his and together they sacrificed their two remaining engines and became the essence of speed as ships made way to avoid being smashed to the side. The stars became glowing slits in their view as they were pushed against their seats with incredible force. The Red Baron’s ship came into view and attempted to maneuver out of their sights. A vain effort as the tip of the silver and black starship collided with the engines of the ship and sent it into a tailspin so fast no one knew if it would ever stop spinning. They soared faster and faster as Tracer’s heart thundered in his chest like a mad gods storm. When he heard the melodious chime of the finish line being passed, he finally attained what he had been wishing for all his life.
    Freedom.

    Author Biography: I am a student at the university majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in English. I have a great love of fiction and reading and hope to become an accomplished author.

  • Humans, Irredeemable

    by Kaitlynn Bemis

    Please imagine it for me. Imagine the weightlessness, the beauty, the terror and remember that you are nothing but a speck of dust in the eyes of the Universe. Remember that in your last moments, you will see nothing but my power and you will reveal in it.

    You have already plundered and destroyed your own world; a world in which you were suppose to be the saviors. Earth is no longer a beacon of hope and beauty, it is nothing more than a host to a deadly parasite. And now that you have destroyed my lovely creation, you seek more to satisfy your hunger. At first I hoped you would see the errors of your ways but instead you only push the limits of what you were meant to do and now you must contend with my domain.

    I will not, no I can not, allow you to take more and so those you send will suffer. It hurts to punish the ones who dream and work to reach the heights of the Universe, to punish those who demand change. All the advancements, knowledge, rockets, and stations are all the more proof that the parasite has taken hold.

    With each step you make it closer and closer to where you have never been before. I fear if I can not stop you in time that Mars will fall as well. My beautiful red plant torn away from me just as Earth has been.

    So remember me and the betrayal I feel. Remember that a war for the heavens has begun. If you wish to provoke me, I will remind you why you were meant to stay on the planet that I created for you.

    You will remember the haunting beauty of the space that surrounds you and you will be afraid. You will remember in that in space no one can save you.

    Just imagine it for me if you will. Imagine my power and realize that if you want this war, I will destroy you all.

    Author Biography: Hello! My name is Katie. I am a senior at the UA and I love writing.