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Episode 54 is part of the Autumn 2017/Winter 2018 issue! (Yes! It’s actually out now!)
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Oh, Give Me A Home
By Nicole Kimberling
Up along the edge of the ridge, Gordon could see them gathering. The mass of bugs formed a ragged silhouette against the hazy lavender sky. Each critter stood only ankle-high—about as big as a yappy dog—six-legged, like ants, with azure exoskeletons hard as crash helmets. Individually they posed little threat, but if only a few of them spooked, panic could ripple through the herd, bringing all thirty thousand of them swarming down.
The stampede could crush him and Paint flat.
From his position at the bottom of the crater, Gordon gave a long chirping whistle. Amplified by his hardsuit’s external speaker, the trill echoed through the crater. Gordon imagined it lifting up through the thin atmosphere to reach the three rings that encircled New Saturn. Here, near the equator, the rings bisected the sky in a thin, glittering band, shining apricot and peach, reflecting the light of the G-class star that shone down on him.
A few of the bugs—called microbe-seeding terrestrial injectors or MSTIs, by the terraforming corporations that had genetically engineered them—turned their attention toward Gordon at the sound, but still hesitated. The bugs were naturally fearful of new territory, preferring to follow the scent trails previously laid down by other bugs.
Gordon had loaded new scent into Paint’s dispersal unit before riding down into the crater, so he knew a perfectly good trail existed. The bugs should be following him to the center of the crater, where Gordon had spread a banquet of feed—so many white pellets they almost obscured the fine pink sand.
[Full transcript after the cut]