Based on an original idea by Barry Quinn.
Mimic: Part 3
By Alicia Bruzzone
Oscar and Ursula shuffled over the surface of the distant planet, red dust swirling low and unnoticed under their space boots.
Ursula’s hands, still wet with Nadia’s blood, sweated inside her thick gloves as they left the safety of their terraformed habitat. The exhalation of reaching Jupiter was forgotten, attention fully absorbed on the small device emitting a shrieking beep intermittently, beating like a low pulse.
They followed the sound of the locator with religious fervour. Only moments from now, their time investment would come to fruition, years of dedicated training and space travel nearing conclusion.
“We should have done this weeks ago,” Ursula muttered under her breath, breaking the stilted silence of their journey. “It was the whole point of coming here.”
Oscar’s nerves thrummed with unspent adrenaline, suddenly reminded of why he should be keeping his distance from Ursula. “We came for knowledge.” As a team.
“Exactly,” Ursula said, clutching at Oscar’s arm. “We could have learned so much while Nadia stalled us from our final mission.” Her breathing became heavier over the communication circuit, eyes widening under her visor. “We should have been investigating this.”
Her right arm was outstretched, pointed to something mostly hidden by swirling Jupiter mists. She’d found them. The aliens were here.
Ursula forged ahead while Oscar’s knees buckled in astounded supplication. Humanoid in appearance, the race they had travelled half a solar system to greet appeared to be led by a figure bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Roman god Jupiter. His head was caressed by a mop of silver ringlets, tangling into a roguish beard that nestled on a bare chest. He stood two heads taller than the rest of the Jovians in the welcoming party.
“Finally!” Ursula screamed triumphantly, allowing the locator to fall uselessly to the barren ground as she raced towards her chosen destiny. Everything she had sacrificed, every decision in her life led to this moment. She was to be the first Human to meet another superior race. History would recall her as a pioneer, a hero at the dawn of a great new age. Nadia hadn’t possessed the true vision required for a task of this undertaking, but Ursula had prevailed.
“Halt!” the leader called, and with a flick of his palm thunder bellowed through the layers of atmospheric gas, concentrating on the air surrounding Ursula.
Her temples throbbed in a searing burst of pain. Spider web cracks began to splinter Ursula’s visor, the space suit struggling to maintain integrity under the onslaught.
“I am Jove. You will bow in the presence of a God.” Another flick of his wrist, and the sky burst apart in a painful cacophony of power and thunderous rage. “You should not be here. We left the Earthly realm for this forsaken wasteland, and you defile it further with your presence. Only one of you is worthy to join my court.”
His eye’s flickered to Oscar, who was still genuflecting to the other race.
Ursula knew in her heart there was none other than herself that Jove could be speaking of. She took a step, and the fragile tension on her helmet began to waver, cracks slipping further along the visor. Her heart pounded like an eager warrior as she turned to Oscar. He had something she would require if she was to remain in the presence of the ancient God.
Oscar’s head was furtively bowed when Ursula attacked, bowling him over in swirls of dust.
The God merely grunted and retreated with his followers, disappointed that millennia later humanity had still not yet evolved beyond barbaric.
Ursula jubilantly unclamped Oscar’s helmet from behind, her arms snaked around as if in a lover’s embrace. In the heat of the moment she removed her own too quickly, the pressure of emerging crushing her skull before she had a chance to replace it with Oscar’s undamaged unit. She fell lifeless to the surface, arms still wrapped around her former teammate as they were absorbed into the ethereal mist.
Qadir and Rafael were suffering problems of their own with the prolonged forced proximity, the men already wearied as they began their descent to the Jupiter base.
No one from the habitat responded, so the men focused instead on tracking their locator units. Only one was operational, found neglected in the dirt mere metres from Oscar and Ursula’s intertwined bodies.
“I’m not sure what happened down here,” Rafael remarked, looking upon their embraced bodies. “But I am glad than when they faced their deaths they did so with the strength each other provided.”
Qadir nodded his agreement. “It truly would be cruel to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of humanity and forget what that entailed in the process.”
Jove watched from a distance in silence. Perhaps there was hope yet for the race he abandoned.