Mimic: Part II
By Barry Quinn
On a distant moon the five NASA astronauts lived in a terraformed world as human. But dissent was growing amongst them. Some wanted to stick rigidly to their mission of first scoping out Europa, whilst some wanted to deviate and head straight for Jupiter. Arguments arose. Fighting erupted. Then five became three and two.
Qadir and Rafael remained on Europa. Adhering to their mission brief they collected rock samples, recorded atmospheric levels outside of their terraformed dome, and searched for any forms of live-giving properties. These results were relayed back to NASA, though it would be some time before they received a response.
Ursula, Nadia and Oscar headed down to Jupiter after modifying one of the escape pods. Nadia opened her eyes onto the cold metal of the modified transporter, reality slipping and adjusting at the edges. She felt bad. As leader it was her job to take command, and yet under her rule her team had dispersed. So far from home, with little comforts to console her, Nadia slowly became unhinged. The long journey only amplified her annoyance.
The three astronauts descended beneath innumerable layers of gasses to reach the hidden core of Jupiter.
“Where’s the base at?” Ursula asked, her voice muffled from her astronaut suit. She looked around. Jupiter wore a rocky landscape, ethereally wreathed in mist.
“You don’t know?” Ursula queried. Another shrug. “Well then turn your locator on.” A further shrug. “What’s wrong with you?”
“They’re back up there!” Nadia screamed, throwing her hand up into the general direction of Europa.
“It was their choice,” Oscar said. “They’ll be down here before long anyway. I wouldn’t worry.”
“NASA won’t be happy,” said Nadia, her voice breaking. “I thought they’d come with us straight away, when they knew we were leaving. We shouldn’t have left them.”
“What are NASA going to do anyway?” asked Ursula. There was a slight chuckle to her voice. “We’re so far from home. We’re never returning. They can’t do anything. By the time the next spaceship comes we’ll be nearing death. It doesn’t matter.”
Ursula took charge then. She snatched Ursula’s locator and searched for the frequency of the habitat located on Jupiter. She stormed off. Oscar swiftly followed. Nadia trailed in their wake, lost within herself.
It took the three astronauts much longer to build the second habitat. Qadir was the builder within their group.
“What about the signal?” Oscar asked one evening over a bland meal.
“It’s still there,” replied Ursula. She glanced to the locator. A shrill beep burst from it.
“We should check it out. I don’t know why we’re waiting.”
“We’re waiting on Qadir and Rafael,” Nadia mumbled.
“That could be weeks, months!” Ursula shouted. “Oh no, I’m not waiting. It took us long enough to get here.”
“We’re to go together. All of us.”
“Ladies,” Oscar said, trying to smooth everything out. He could feel the growing tension.
“I’m going.” Ursula snatched up the locator.
“The hell you are!” Nadia jumped to her feet.
“Try and stop me.”
A fight broke out then. Oscar left them to it. He headed outside and sent a message to Qadir and Rafael, asking when they would be coming to Jupiter. By the time he received a response (“The reply from NASA should be coming any day now, and then we’ll be down”) the fight within the habitat had died out. Oscar headed back inside.
Blood was smeared upon the walls. Nadia lay at Ursula’s feet.
“We can’t even live here together!” screeched Ursula. “Five of us, and we can’t even get on! What’s gonna happen when the others come?”
“You killed her,” was all Oscar could say in response.
And then the signal sounded.
“They’re coming,” said Ursula, looking over at the locator. “They’re coming for us.”
Their animosity fizzled out immediately. They forgot Nadia. Grabbing the locator, Oscar and Ursula headed out onto Jupiter in search of the aliens. That was why they had come, after all.