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Natural Selection

“Desdemona is a dangerous planet,” the guide called out to the group, “but only if you don’t respect her ways.”

James rolled his eyes. He hadn’t wanted to come to Desdemona, but human-friendly habitable planets were few and far between, especially now that Sol was trending toward red giant these days.

“Most of what lies beyond the energy barrier could kill a person in a blink,” the guide continued. “This bit of safe haven you’re standing in has been carved out with a lot of sweat, blood, and tears.”

And that was when James spotted the maintenance hatch down the path a little way. Making sure no one was watching, he nonchalantly walked away from the group — they were all distracted, anyway — and opened the hatch, using the adjoining service tunnels to get out beyond the barrier.

Sometime later, James finally stepped into the open air and took a deep breath — and a razor-sharp leaf spiraling from a nearby tree sliced cleanly through his skull.

Desdemona was not kind to invading, incautious species.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

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So Long, Jack

It was a small memorial, only two to witness the laying of the casket into the ground.

“So long, Jack. We hardly knew you,” one said.

The other quirked up an eyebrow. “That’s it?” he asked. There was a note of amused incredulity in his voice.

“What’d you expect?” A ghost of a smile. “This is, what, the eighth time we’ve buried you now?”

A nod. “At least.”

“Does it ever get old?”

Jack shrugged and pushed his hands down into his pockets. “Hasn’t yet. I’m good for at least another half dozen deaths, I think. There hasn’t been any detectable signal degradation yet.”

“Well, that’s debatable.” The first man sounded sullen now.

“Oh, c’mon, Charles. This project was as much your idea as mine. You don’t get the right to be grumpy about it.”

“I’m not. I just—” Charles broke off, leaving the thought unfinished. A pause. “Do you remember what it feels like each time? Y’know, after?”

Jack grimaced. “Every bloody detail. I’m thinking I’ll go for something less violent next time.”

“Fine. I’ll arrange it.”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.