Part 1 of a ‘jovial’ adventure in space.
Mimic (Part I)
By Barry Quinn
On a distant starship the five NASA astronauts slept in hibernation. Their journey was a long one, but it was nearing its completion. Rafael, Nadia, Oscar, Qadir and Ursula were the best of the best. They had also woefully given up their lives in the hunt for knowledge. They would become iconic in their deaths.
Black was all around. Black tarred with the darkest blue. A smattering of stars twinkled dully, illuminated by the distant sun. The astronauts were so far from home that they felt no natural heat. Most had forgotten what home looked like. They had adopted another. The planet they had left was their parental home; the starship they inhabited was their rented little flat; the awaiting moon would be their first house share; and, hopefully, the star it orbited would become their permanent abode. As the only life there, they would own the entire planet.
Qadir awoke first. He looked out at the burnished moon ahead. It was frozen white, with streaks of golden land, and the most beautiful sight in the solar system.
One-by-one the astronauts awoke and they each feasted upon sights of their new home. Excitement fizzled in the air.
“What will we do first?” Ursula asked.
“We’re to stick to NASA schedules,” Nadia said sternly. “Build the temporary habitat, scope out the moon, and then send the probes to explore Jupiter.”
“But we’re gonna deviate a little, right?”
Nadia switched off the signal that radioed their communications directly to NASA. Her eyes twinkled. “Naturally,” she smiled.
Rafael rehydrated food as Ursula and Nadia spoke. The astronauts shared a bland meal.
Over the coming days Europa drifted ever closer. The majority of their journey had been taken at lightning-speed; the crux of it was tediously slow. The astronauts were clamouring to escape their ship, to stretch their legs in the air of a (hopefully) hospitable atmosphere. A probe had long been sent ahead with androids to cordon off a section of the moon and terraform the atmosphere for their impeding arrival. The probe was unmanned, the robots incapable of communicating on a human level. The astronauts could only hope that they had succeeded in their mission.
Eventually the starship reached Europa. Jupiter II was dwarfed by its namesake, wreathed in the faded halo of Jupiter’s ring system. Both planet and moon were intoxicating to behold. The astronauts spied several other moons nearby, though none were as striking as their temporary home.
Plans were made to descend to the surface. Their starship would remain in orbit, latching onto the gravitational pull of the moon to become a manmade satellite forevermore. It would not be returning to Earth.
The front-section of the starship broke away in two sections. One powered automatically towards the moon; the other blasted for a pre-determined area on Jupiter. Inside each was their temporary habitats, though it was currently unknown whether the astronauts would ever make it to Jupiter. Five pods were then dispatched to Europa. Housed within each was a solitary astronaut and mounds of supplies.
The preemptive probe and its automated androids had done their job perfectly. Within a domed area of Europa air spiced with nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium and methane formed the basis of a mirror image of their home planet. Plants danced in a chilly breeze, and a rabbit or two scampered across fields of stark green grass.
Though their new home was on a distant star, the astronauts mimicked what they knew. They built the temporary habitat akin to a home back on Earth, and lived there as human rather than Jovian.