Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising, a celebration of women and non-binary authors.
In Their Image
by Abra Staffin-Wiebe
When I stepped off the shuttle and breathed in the dry grass scent of Trade City, I was still confident I could launch the first human church on Landry’s World. My fellow passengers had been politely non-interested when I explained the mission my church had sent me on. A few had shaken their heads as they glided away. I thought maybe they objected to a female preacher. Or maybe it was because I’m an ex-marine. I’m an “ex-” a lot of things: ex-marine, ex-atheist, ex-drunk, ex-wife, and ex-mother–that last because I was a poor enough mother that when my kids grew up, they washed their hands of me.
The heavier gravity made my normal stride more of a shuffle, but my spirits were high as I walked to meet the young woman waiting for me. After all, I was here at the request of Amber Sands Mining, the major human employer on the planet. The indigenous government had approved; they even volunteered the labor to build my church. My denomination’s elders were delighted to have finally found a mission suitable for an ex-marine with other-world experience.
My guide held a sign saying, “Preacher.” She bestowed a chipper smile on me when I approached. “Welcome to Landry’s World! I’ll take you directly to the church so that you can get started.”
As I fell into step beside her, I said, “It seems odd that a planet with indigenous life is named after the captain who discovered it. Discovered isn’t quite the right term, either, is it?”
“Landry’s purpose in life was to find and name this world, and the Teddies honor that.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Teddies?”
“Oh, dear. I hope you didn’t memorize their long-form name! You don’t need to worry about that. We need to say that in the welcome packet.”
I remembered the images that had come with my briefing. The locals of Landry’s World were seven feet tall, ursine, and covered in bright pink fur. “Wait. You’re telling me that this place is populated by pink teddy bears?” I asked incredulously.
She grinned. “Yup. Here’s the road. Watch your step. I thought we could walk instead of taking the transit tube.”
The golden sand between the borders of the road appeared identical to the sand that stretched into the distance on either side. “What’s the difference?”
“Everything in its place.”
“And what’s your place? When you’re not shepherding green recruits, I mean?”
“This is my place.”
“Of course, but this can’t take up all your time. I meant, what else do you do? What are your plans for the future?”
“This is what I do,” she answered stiffly.
A few failed attempts at conversation later, I let silence fall between us until she stopped in front of a crystalline three-story castle. Sunlight danced across jutting, sharp-edged planes of glass. A Teddy the color of raspberry sherbet rose from the shadow of the building. I’d been so dazzled that I hadn’t even noticed him. (Continue Reading…)