1. "The First Drop"
Lieutenant Commander Adler tapped nervously on the screen in front of him, flipping back and forth between external camera views. All the cameras showed different views of the same thing, “Mass 17” a mess of strings and ropes half the size of Jupiter but only maybe two thirds the mass of Earth. It was weird, too weird for Alder. In fourteen years as chief science officer for the LOP Duster, he'd seen a lot of weird things. Planets in counter rotational orbits, biospheres composed entirely of Sulfur eating sludges, he'd even watched two stars smack into each other from a distance of only one light year. But, he'd never seen anything that he couldn't explain with good old Terran physics.
He'd been a lot younger when he approached the League of Planets to request inclusion in one of their deep space missions; young and excited to see what was new, to be part of the first wave of human explorers to leave the star systems around Sol. Now, fourteen years