Monthly Archives: May 2014

Life Along the Terminator

A world half molten, half colder than ice. A thin strip of land between, where humans can barely survive, where a mining company has sent you to extract minerals and gemstones, where your only sustainable source of food, your tiny hydroponic farm, is giving anomalous readings…

The orbital insertion was not easy, as the dropship had to fly most of the way in the shadow of the planet, then quickly nip around and avoid melting while landing on the small habitable section. Living and working in a mining base on the terminator of a tidally locked hot Mercury is fun to talk about, but the G-forces of the abrupt turn before landing were almost like launching from a standard-G world.

It was really beautiful, though, seeing just a sliver of the molten red hot side, and the false blue colour from the sensors looking at the cold side, to zoom in at the tiny green dot which would hopefully sustain you while you complete your tour here, hoping to make a name for yourself (and get rich at the same time).

It’s too bad you couldn’t share that beauty with anyone, though. It’s hard enough finding people who would want to be alone for the years required, never mind the expense of a capsule big enough to sustain a person for that long. Far simpler to send an automated task force (and quicker, what with G-forces not sending electrons to the feet of robots).

As you land, you think again about the message sent: “Anomalous readings from plant matter. Plant matter showing periodic and changing visual anomalies. Plant matter showing unknown and changing composition. Safety tests show no adverse effects on bacteria. Analysis suggests plant matter still consistent with and edible by human biochemistry.” Not that there was anything you could do about it, as you were already decelerating when you received it, but here’s hoping the computer was right this time, or it’s going to be a long trip home on emergency power…