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Atesh

Atesh climbs to his feet, shaking. Most of the shielding still glows, and he can hear little ticking sounds as it cools, scattered wide across a dark plain. His arms and legs sting, sleeves torn, exposed skin scraped and powdered by the air bags that saved him from impact. Nothing seems to be broken, though. Not that he can feel.

He looks up, automatically, though he knows there’s nothing to see. He takes a few wobbly steps toward the remains of his cockpit: crushed supplies, cracked and empty water tank, busted radio that hadn’t worked in weeks anyway.

“Welp,” he says.

Atesh

He’s long since passed terminal velocity, and the shielding glows day and night with air-compression heat. This far down the pit it’s the only light. He is still falling.

Cramped into his tiny cabin, he measures the radio lag in seconds. “You can still turn around,” pleads HQ. “You’re not past the retrieval horizon yet, Atesh.”

“I dive until I stop,” he says, checking the gyroscope status lights. “That was the mission. This is the deal.”

“Everything we know about physics—it has to end sometime. It can’t actually be bottomless!”

But what if it is. What if it is?

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