Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 152

Aleameth is a planet with a cruel master: her sun. Her people live in fear of the end of their world; crammed into covered cities, only their ancient taboo against conflict and violence sustains their fragile society. One scientist conceives a bold plan, and, gathering together a loyal and determined group, sets about trying to save an entire race of people. However, their efforts pit them against powerful foes, who, just when it looks like they are about to succeed, unleash an implacable and terrifying force. In desperation, they turn to an unlikely ally.” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faisollus-Kate-Charles-ebook/dp/B00557KLAW Prelude The dark yellow star dominated the ship’s small viewscreen, the curve of its horizon just visible in the lower right-hand corner. The star’s edges were blurred by the constant eruptions from its disturbed surface, throwing super-heated gases millions of miles into the void surrounding it and causing the pin-pricks of light from more distant stars to shimmer and blink in the haze, mimicking how they might be seen from the planet’s surface. Although the ship had thick plating protecting its occupants from the heat and radiation, and the temperature inside the craft was set at a constant temperature considered to be the optimum for working, the two scientists still sweated inside their loose jumpsuits. It was, Getri reflected, probably partly due to a psychological reaction to being so dangerously close to the star itself, and partly the pressure of this excursion, which was considered by all of them to be the last chance they would have to gather the data that would prove their theories before their funding ran out. With that thought, she turned to her husband, sitting just to her left, and monitoring several screens at once. His face was set in a frown, but she knew how much he would be enjoying himself, never happier than when immersed in data. Smiling, she leaned across, “Soqal, how’s the data stream to the surface holding?” He nodded, turning his head in her direction, but still looking at the screen. “Fine, no problem, stream is good. Front-end collection is taking too long though. We need to be closer.” Getri turned back to the screen and considered. They only had a limited time off-planet, and a rapidly diminishing number of trips they could make. They needed to get all the data they could, as quickly as they could risk it. The unceasing activity on the star’s surface was largely unpredictable, but their algorithms, calculated after months of data collection, should be able to give them an indication that an eruption was building in their area. At this distance that should give them enough time to get clear before the boiling gases enveloped their ship, an occurrence that no amount of shielding could guard against. Any closer and they would have much less warning, perhaps no time to get clear. Soqal shifted and looked at her briefly. As she was guiding the ship, she was nominally the senior on this trip, and it was her decision. The look, though, told her that they needed to do this, that the risk was necessary. Getri returned the look, and nodded, toggling the communication link to the planetside base. A rectangular comms window superimposed a view of the base onto PAGE 151