When Space Gives You Lemons

Minley Traveler, you are denied landing permission at Qechra Down, technical eval.  Maintain standard orbit, eight of twelve.  Do you desire re-routing to Qechra Orbital?  Qechra Local, over.”

“Ah, Qechra Local, clarify technical eval?  Minley Traveler, over.”

Minley Traveler, we have low confidence in your structural fitness for re-entry.  Qechra Local, over.”

“Qechra Local, we may not be a standard class, but if you check our spec plat, we are well within spec for re-entry on this world.  Minley Traveler, over.”

Minley Traveler, by your spec plat, we read you as a half-Hargis and half-Karakrayt slice-and-splice.  And that doesn’t disqualify you from landing, no, but I can see the weld lines on your hull from here by eyeball.  Qechra Local, over.”

“Local, we got here in one piece, didn’t we?  Over.”

Traveler, just ’cause Athnéël smiled enough to let that piece of kveth-lakh stand up to thrust ’til now doesn’t mean she’s going to keep doing it, so bring it in to Orbital under cold-gas or take it elsewhere.  She blinks at max Q, you’re looking for two landing spots and not likely to pay for either.  Not in my atmosphere, you don’t.  Qechra Local, clear.”

– overheard on local space-control channel, Qechra

At First Glance

We met for the first time on Qechra, the world of forges.  One morning at sunrise, standing on the Bridge of Chalcedony crossing the endless outpouring of Qechra’s ocean into one of its cooling gorges – where the spray of the falling water meets the steam boiling up from the ruddy-glowing depths of the industry below, sharp with the scents of salt and sweetness and hot metal, I looked up and saw her. Pale armor of spun glass and feathered silver gleaming in the dawn; wings as golden as her hair; gliding swiftly on the rising furnace-draught from light-tower to light-tower.

Even then, I knew, and all the clangor of the machinery was not so loud as the pounding of my hearts.

– from the private reminiscences of Octë Cyprium-ith-Avalae