Building Atmosphere by Alexander Mandradjiev

Building Atmosphere by Alexander Mandradjiev

14.7 ± 0.3 psi, surface, Earth standard, milspec, per contract.  It was a lofty goal, but one that was drummed into us by corporate on every terraforming colony.  Never once have we actually hit that target, but we never stop trying.  The closer we get to this unrealistic target, the bigger our bonus.  Heart attacks drop dramatically the closer we get to Earth standard atmospheric pressure.  Hél 13 was no exception.  We’d been here for twenty years:  melting ice caps, vaporizing subsurface water, spewing dust into the atmosphere, cracking the crust with nukes to release carbon dioxide, essentially using every trick in the book to warm up this little ball of shit.

Building Atmosphere by Alexander Mandradjiev
Concept art of the day:
Building Atmosphere by Alexander Mandradjiev.

Why?

Military ops and expansion of course.  The invasion of the Vek homeworld waited for no one, or no planet.  Five years from now Hél 13’s sulfur rich atmosphere would be scrubbed free and ready to accept the first ships of the invasion force.  I had maybe one more forming operation in me before retirement.  Who knows, maybe the war would be over by then and I could retire early.

One thing humans had finally learned was patience.  Wars were no longer fought in years, but centuries.  In all truth none of us have ever breathed Earth standard anyway, so milspec be damned.  Earth had its atmosphere stripped away 320 years ago.  Revenge is a dish best served cold, unexpected, and without remorse.

About Neal Ulen

Neal Ulen
Editor/Webmaster - Neal is a writer and recovering engineer who likes pizza, the insidious power of sarcasm (and pizza), and debating science fiction (and pizza). You can also find his writing on Omni, Geeks, and other media platforms.