by Sofie Bird
Nothing sharpens my isolation like the pinprick of Sol on the horizon after dusk. She
cradles our motherworld a thousand light years away while we cling to our deadly, beautiful
foster-planet. For all we know, she's already long gone.
My suit's ten-minute warning pings. I pull my gaze from the constellations, glittering behind
the meteor startrails. Around me, the rock spires of our world Azure grasp at the sky, their usual
hue lost to midnight ink in the darkness.
I try to keep my breaths slow and shallow as my suit's O2 meter hovers above red.
I should get moving. Anna's been out here even longer than I have; she'll be running on fumes
by now. I have to find her - no, I know exactly where she'll be, I knew when I walked past her
quarters and I didn't hear her obsessive mutter through her door. But while I'm looking for her, I
don't have to go back.
I turn east, along the giant vertebrae-like ridge we nicknamed Atlas, following the opalescent
cords of minerals that sweep along the rippled stone. In the sunlight, you're an insect in this
sculpted world, a minutia, towered over by stone spires and rock formations in every blue and
green of the spectrum. Above you, the burnt-orange sky fades to amber near the horizon, and
blazes with purple flames of aurora every sunset, before the meteors come. At night, without a
moon, you're a ripple beneath shadowy gods.
I round the crest of Atlas' ridge and there she sits, slumped against the rock where a spire
curves over like a doorway to her canyon, Hades. Her favourite place. The rock is scoured almost
a kilometre down to stone ripples of a blue so brilliant it defies the depth.
A blip on my headset: Anna knows I'm here.