The explosive conclusion to the Outer Earth trilogy, following on from Tracer and Zero-G
The meteor tears a hole in the sky.
The low-hanging clouds glow gold, as if the sun itself has dropped into the atmosphere. Then the white-hot rock rips them in two.
There’s a shape behind the flames, just visible past the corona. A long cylinder, black against the clouds, attached to the meteor by a shimmering cord. The cord breaks, and the crack is loud enough to knock frost off the trees below.
The man on the ground throws himself to the dirt, hands over his ears, as if the pieces were passing right above the tree line. Icy mud soaks his skin, but he barely notices.
His cheek is pressed to the ground, the world turned sideways, but he can still see the pieces. Their white heat has faded to a dark red. Most of them are vanishing over the eastern horizon, but at least one seems to be plummeting right towards him, screaming down through the air. He scrambles to his feet, trying to run. But the piece is nowhere near him – how could he have thought it was? It’s going down in the east, the red metal fading to scorched black. His heart is pounding, and in the split second before it vanishes over the horizon, its shape leaps out at him.
That’s not just a meteor.
It’s a ship.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the roar begins to fade. There’s a final crackle, like fading thunder, and then it’s gone.
His legs are shaking, but none of his companions notice.
They’re as stunned as he is, staring up at the sky.
One of them is moving, pushing through the brush, yelling at them to follow him.
“Think there’ll be survivors?” someone shouts.
“No one survives a crash like that,” comes the reply.
But the man isn’t so sure. A long time ago, he was in one just like it.