A Grain of Sand

The grain - really a pebble, but at the large size of the definition of a grain at a gram or so in mass - was a crystal of meteoric olivine that had existed before the stars of the Evermorn-Armoa Binary System had even coalesced, the cast-off of a much older supernova event that had first seeded the surrounding space with elements heavier than carbon. A sharp fragment of a larger 'rubble pile' asteroid that had spun itself apart in eons past, uneroded by the touch of atmosphere or collision with other debris, the grain had traced a lonely path through dark interstellar space for untold millenia, beneath the notice of anyone until it was swept by the ionizing beam of a multispectral scope set to active scan mode. Even then, the paltry specular reflections of the grain's vitreous surface might have gone unwitnessed had those same scopes not been purposefully looking for such debris in preparation for the defense of a star ship encroaching on the grain's position in space at relativistic speeds.   WIth a silent 'puff' of silicon ions spalled from the surface, the grain punched through several layers of gossamer-thin graphene detection screens, further illuminating the grain's path as the plasma reflected more of the detection beams' high-frequency light. It was odd - normally, by now, even before the membranes transmitted their dire warnings to the ship's point defense systems, even a tiny ping on the multispectral scopes would result in laser pulses focussed in an instant on the grain, vaporizing it so that its ions could harmlessly pass through the collectors and accelerators of a fusion-catalyzed ramjet rocket system along with the more salubrious hydrogen and helium isotopes of the Sealed Kingdoms' nebular gasses. It was odd because, though the danger had been spotted, no such action had occurred.   If the grain had harbored some kind of sentience, it might have wondered at its' luck to escape destruction as it careened towards the titanium collision shield at just under a third of the speed of light, ready to add intrigue to the ESCI Revelation's otherwise uneventful journey...

Cover image: by Beat Schuler (edited by BCGR_Wurth)


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Oct 12, 2023 08:50

Wouldn't a brew made of such a rare grain just be awesome to try? "what is it?" "UH... Space Grain IPA".