Casual Play Astrogation

Zeta Nero Duran 16b (Concolir)

Heat warnings flash in your mind as you slide out of between-space, coast into the boiling void just beyond the corona of a huge, red-orange sun. Arcs of nuclear fire rise and fall from the blinding sea of light beneath you, reach out like hungry hands, fall apart as the vacuum steals their heat, their zeal.

And that's when you see it, tearing through space at incredible speed, beautiful and terrifying– a planet, a worldlet screaming across the face of the sun with a tail of blue and white fire reaching out behind it. Enchanted, you scan it as it roars past, then hooks around the sun. Metallic traces click through your mind– lead and potassium heated to plasma by the planet's proximity to its parent star. When it comes around again a few minutes later, you meet it head-on with a mote-probe, throw the sensors on the little dust-speck-sized sensor suite into high gear. Only a few seconds of data come through before the probe is vaporized, but it's enough. The surface of the little world is entirely liquid, magmatic, mostly lead with a hazy potassium atmosphere that shines almost pink-purple over a sea of burning silver-blue. It's beautiful, and as it disappears behind the sun again, you sift through the data, replay the feeds of its passing, marvel at the colors flickering and flaring across its tail, its surface.

A few more times, you watch it rise, cross and sling itself back into darkness again. It's amazing how quickly it makes a circuit around its sun. Each year on the surface is only minutes in length, each day only seconds. In a few thousand, maybe a few million years, it'll probably be gone, be nothing but a memory, a memory you were lucky enough to stumble across, lucky enough to see, to appreciate, to witness. As the little worldlet roars across the face of the star again, you smile, say a silent goodbye, spin up your ship's phasedrive and turn toward other suns, other places where other wonders still wait to be discovered.


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