Casual Play Astrogation

Alpha Zeyhiri Maas 8p (Hyphomonii)

Reality shifts and flexes, carries you out of between-space and back into the starry void. Thrusters flare in bursts, drop your ship into orbit around a world of high clouds that linger together so thick and so still that they give the sky an appearance of glassy opaqueness, as if the whole planet were made of polished marble. No entries on this system in the database, so you push a mote-probe toward the atmosphere, follow it into the white-gray abyss and ride it with your mind.

Layers of frigid wind restrained between strata of misty cloud cover slide by as the mote-probe drops toward the surface, rolls across sharp, sudden currents, then drifts back into still air again. When you finally reach open sky, you're less than half a kilometer above the surface, emerge over a still sea of glassy-clear water and an endless bed of smooth, vibrant stones polished to gleaming by the barest whispers of tides working slowly, stirred by breathlike breezes over the course of billions of years. It's beautiful, stirring, and as you chase the flare of the sun across the waters, you see so many brilliant colors slide past, see gentle dips and ridges that give greater texture to the chilly, autumnal rainbow sprawling out beneath you.

Captured samples of the world's thin air return little of interest, find no trace of life, not even in its earliest, most primitive forms. Mesmerized by the stones, by the clarity of the water, you linger in the skies for a while, savor the world's natural beauty in silence. As you fly, the planet's modest yellow sun drops from noon to dusk in the space of a scant few hours, gives gold edges to soft, silvery clouds as it descends from the quilt above to the clear seas below. When night comes, it comes blue-purple, and the stones disappear as the endless ocean turns to shining, silver abyss. You linger for only a moment more, then set your mote-probe on a return course back to your ship, withdraw to your body, wait in silence.

Reflecting on the images in the pause, the majesty of the world below, you replay some of the sensor data in your mind before binding it all up, sending the data on to the network. Almost surreal, the beauty of Alpha Zeyhiri Maas 8p. A treasure amongst the cosmos, and a testament to the artistry of nature.

There's a ping in the back of your mind as your mote-probe docks and locks itself into your ship again. Almost reflexively, you reach out with your mind, turn your ship toward the next point of interest, then slip fluidly back into between-space.


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