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Expanding a past
The Rage
Electronically capturing snippets from one of my quickly deteriorating notebooks, and hoping things continue on from there. Mostly from my sci-fi writing class of over 3 years ago.

Two heartbeats filled his ears, and in both haunting, methodical rhythms he heard a reflection of his own. Joaquim's heart was mere inches from his ear, a pounding rush that easily passed through muscle and sinew and bare flesh. Joaquim was asleep, sprawled across the bed as was his habit, and had barely stirred when Korin, indulging a sudden desire, had pressed his head against Joaquim's chest. The lungs expanded, transacted, deflated to Joaquim's soft cadence. And from across the room, a small panel sang as a star was dying.

There was an official name for the star; letters and numbers according to some system never fully explained. And it was present on all the official maps, a tiny dot cast out in the darkness. But there was no common name for the star, sitting so far on the edge of conquered space. Early on in the informal briefings, his superiors had only referred to it as 'the anomalous red'. At first, he thought it was disdain in their voices - a quirk of astrophysics beneath their efforts but bothersome enough to demand an answer. But the more they spoke of his mission, and the more they didn't say, the more fear he saw them desperate to hide.

Joaquim stirred briefly, just long enough to sleepily run his fingers through Korin's hair, and then turned away. Korin wanted more of his heartbeat, but let his lover settle back into slumber. The slow song of the panel now filled his ears as a painful solo that he dared not turn off. The star was being monitored in a thousand other ways for every conceivable change, but when they had stumbled across this radio pulse, he found it impossible to turn it off.

The 'anomalous red' was dying according to some, in ways that stars do not die. At least, that was according to the reports that had first prompted the mission. He never had the chance to speak to those with that opinion. Instead, he was quickly promoted to captain of a small science vessel staffed by a bare contingent of newly graduated officers (Joaquim among them), and told to embark immediately. Korin spent the months of drift-riding trying to pierce the ambiguities of the mission's official documents, but with no success. His ship and crew were to ride the known drifts as far as they could, complete an additional two months travel in blackspace and settle into an orbit for three years.

Joaquim had confessed to him an early infatuation, starting as early as the first crew assemblage. Korin had noticed him as well, fresh-eyed in his uniform trimmed in the green of the Astrochemists, but it was a passing notice. Korin was too overwhelmed in the first weeks of drift-riding, consumed by the pressures of a new command, a clouded directive and management of years out on the fringe of civilized space. But then they finally made it to the 'anomalous red', hanging in blackspace without so much as a dust-cloud in orbit, peering at them like a weary eye. In face of such bleakness, the crew found their pleasures where they could, and Korin returned attentions to Joaquim that he had been so oblivious to before.

He stood up and left the whole of his bed to Joaquim. Perhaps in the first months, there may have been some grumbling of favoritism, especially when Joaquim was a more frequent guest in the captain's bed than his own. But in the growing loneliness of the ship's orbit, such disputes soon melted away as petty and futile. What favors could Korin really grant his lover out here in the blackspace? There were no accolades or praise, no promotions or luxuries. Korin ate the same rationed portion as every member of the crew, wore the same uniform that was wearing thin in the same way as everyone else. And he suffered the same growing unease.

They had been in orbit perhaps 4 days when the pulse was discovered. After the months of cruising through blackspace at subliminal speeds, there had been great excitement to finally reach journey's end. Arrays of instruments blossomed across the skin of the ship, eyes and ears and minds suddenly piqued towards the supposedly dying star. The enthusiasm was blunted as each day passed, and the crew came to understand the wasteland that surrounded the star - little better than the endless depths of darkness they had just come through. But the star itself was rich with fascinating discoveries, one of which was a strange radio pulse on a frequency unknown to come from stars of this size. In haste, one of the officers had put it through audio transmitters, and everyone in the room stopped in their tracks, overcome by the sudden sound of what they now called the heartbeat of the star.

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Echoes of Solaris (the book, not the movies). That's what this reminded me of most, not sure why. Maybe the star as the object of study/ever present in the background of more human goings-on.

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