A Sci-Fi Fantasy Story by Tyler Golec
23 Spatio Annus (SA)
The glass was cold. Despite the comfortable climate of the colony, Raina could feel the chill of Europa’s oceans. It reminded her of the cold when she crossed from Mars.
Frozen on the surface, Europa’s oceans were covered with 15 to 25 kilometers of ice. Their colony had drilled through 17 kilometers as the colony grew until they eventually reached the ocean.
That had been five years ago. Just after she and her team had arrived from the long journey from Mars. The resources that were discovered within the ocean and ice of Europa and those uncovered by the Ganymede colonies were enough for Jupiter’s lunar colonies to build and grow on their own without the entirety of their resources coming in from Mars and Earth.
“Doctor!” she turned to see her assistant. “We are launching the drones, you are invited to observe… We would like you to observe.”
She smiled. “Of course.”
They had been sending drones deeper and deeper into the oceans. They had estimated that the oceans were 60 to 150 kilometers deep before landing on the moon. 150 kilometers was now known to be shallow.
“We are going back to the trench.” The brief for the mission began when the lead, Dr. Adams, saw her enter the room. “The drones have been prepared to endure pressure up until depths of 500 kilometers.”
“That won’t be deep enough to reach the bottom of the trench,” She added.
“It will be close enough to see the bottom!”
Volcanic activity was prevalent in the depths of the trench. Though, they had detected something, rhythmic, perfectly rhythmic. That was why the drones had been modified. That’s why they were going beyond studying the tiny life forms they had recently discovered thriving in the trench.
The displays in the room showed the point of view of the three drones. They reached the mouth of the trench at about 200 kilometers deep. The lights on the drones painted the sheer ledges of the trench. Small patches of white on the rock were common near thermal vents. It was a bacteria.
She spotted the green of the thermal algae that also dwelled in the trench. Their drones would come back covered in it. They were 300 kilometers deep now.
The drones started to hear it. It was soft at first, regular, with a long pause between each reading.
“Our moon is alive,” one of the drone pilots said with a chuckle.
The drones reached 400 kilometers deep. The audio from the drones was now clearly sending back the rhythmic beating of whatever they were hearing. Raina looked at the temperature readings from the drones. It was 50 degrees celsius and climbing. The density of life on the trench walls was growing. Even under the extreme climate of the trench, life was still here.
Other trenches had been discovered across the moon by the other colonies. Other trenches had life, but none of them were like the trench below Europa 7. They were at 500 kilometers. The Drones paused their descent.
“Switching to depth-lense,” a drone pilot said.
The view from the cameras displaying the world around the drones shifted. They cut their lights and looked directly at the bottom of the abyss.
The three screens were totally dark as they slowly sought whatever tiny parcel of light they could find. Slowly, an image formed. At first, the detail was poor, every pulse disturbed the cameras, but steadily, the images became clear.
Raina looked at her assistant. “Yes?”
“What is that?”
Its texture was smooth with an occasional ridge. Significant heat was coming off it. There was another pulse. The bottom of the trench expanded and then contracted.
“Our moon is alive,” the same pilot said again.
“Dr. Pavlov.” Raina looked up at Dr. Adams. “That does look alive.”
“Take samples from 500 kilometers, then let’s get the drones back here,” she said. “How long will it take to get the drones ready to get deeper?”
Dr. Adams shrugged. “Everything we do here is the first time it has ever been done. It won’t take too long.”
* * *
It was six months until the drones were fully ready. It was December back on earth, so it was December on the colonies. The daily cycles of the climates mirrored earth, even though half of those living in Europa’s colonies weren’t born there.
Dreams, she had been dreaming that she was swimming to the depths of the trench. The pressure was crushing her. Her lungs would scream. She had to reach it. Every time, she would wake with her bed drenched in sweat.
Today, they would reach it. She felt like a girl again on her birthday. She walked into the mission room. Dr. Adams was already there. He looked pale but excited nonetheless. The whole room was. Every member of the mission was on the edge of giddiness as they watched the graphics from the descending drones.
Sending the drones to manufacturing facilities orbiting Ganymede, they used a technique to strengthen them that was only possible in space. The drones were showing that they were stable. They reached 600 kilometers deep.
“Target is 20 kilometers and closing,” Dr. Adams spoke.
The loudest pulse they had recorded yet was transmitted through the drones. It vibrated through the colony.
“Adjust the audio,” Dr. Adams directed. “We don’t want to disturb everyone.”
“Target depth reached.”
“Let’s get a quality visual.”
The displays had mostly been focused on the walls of the trench. Now, they looked directly below the drones. The rock seemly ended where that smooth heat-producing membrane began. It looked like the skin of a marine creature, an octopus perhaps. There was another pulse. Even with the audio turned down, Raina felt it in her chest.
“Let’s retrieve a sample of that membrane,” Raina suggested.
“Diver C can take the sample and begin its ascent with it. We will want that here as soon as possible.
On the display for Diver C, there was a quick flash of its laser as a slender piece of skin was cut from the membrane. Seismic activity spiked, and the displays were disturbed for a moment. Then the visuals normalized and Diver C began its ascent.
The next pulse came, early. The pulse after that was earlier. They were quickening by a quarter of a second each time.
“I think we woke it up,” said one of the drone pilots.
“Funny,” Dr. Adams said. “Those lasers could take a limb off you and you would never feel it.”
“It is getting faster,” Raina said. “Could we leave a drone in the trench to record the changes in these rhythms?”
“I would like that information too,” said Dr. Adams. “Diver A has enough power for 24 hours. We will let it record for 12.”
* * *
Raina spent the entirety of Diver A’s 12 hours of recording in the mission room. It was the patterns that occurred two hours after the sample was taken that she kept going back to. The pulses had been coming much more quickly before then slowing down, returning to their normal regular pattern.
She was listening to the recording again. It was a week after the mission had occurred. They had found something alive and far more complex than bacteria and algae beneath their trench in Europa’s vast ocean.
The sample was definitely skin. It was nearly identical to an octopus’s skin except for the hide of the creature beneath the trench was far heartier than any earth-born creature’s. Genetic testing had revealed quite little about the creature. They needed to go back down.
I see you
She pushed her equipment away. Her eyes were too tired and she already knew what it all said. They would have nothing new to work with until their next mission. Her assistant walked in.
“Need anything before I go home?”
“Oh, could you help quickly put this away, I forgot about the time.”
“You forget about the time every day.”
“A construct from Earth…”
“Regardless of how you may think we’ve adapted, humans still need rest.”
Raina smiled at her assistant. “You’re right, I’ll get home and get some sleep.”
Raina took a sleeping pill once she got home then laid down and closed her eyes.
Hong long… how long have I slept?
Matter and energy, that was all there was. Raina was floating in an inferno of elements. It was so hot. She reached out a hand and the dust that was everything became something. At the center of this cloud of swirling everything was a sun being born.
Great terraced pyramids rose from a city of orange and red… purple and gold… stone obelisks and verdant gardens. The sun filled the sky, this wasn’t Earth. This wasn’t Mars.
How she knew the planet to be flashed through her mind.
She woke up to the colony shaking. An alarm went off, someone was trying to reach her.
“I guess no one slept through that.” It was Dr. Adams.
“What was that?”
“Seismic activity moved the ocean around a bit, so the ice moved a bit with it.”
“Is everything fine?”
“Yes and no, the colonies are safe. However, I’m calling for an emergency mission into the trench. I want to confirm what I suspect to be a relation between that creature down there and what we just felt.”
* * *
The drones had reached the bottom of the trench. The team had come together quickly in the middle of the simulated night. The pilots were hooked up to IVs making sure they were in pristine condition for this mission. They hadn’t had the time to be properly prepped.
“Let’s get a visual of it,” Dr. Adams directed.
There had been one other seismic event right at the beginning of this mission.
“Well, we are seeing it… it’s just a little bit different.”
Raina examined the displays of all three drones.
“There’s a seam in the skin down the middle. Have the drones get a better look at it,” Raina directed.
The drone pilots listened. The skin around the seam was tightening and then loosening aligned with the pulses.
Hello Doctor Pavlov
“What kind of biological information can we gather without taking a sample? I would rather not do that again.”
Raina looked at the new data being displayed in front of her. “The skin hear is quite muscular and flexible, more so than where we initially took a sample from. And beneath the skin… It looks like an ocular organ.”
“As close as this thing has to one.”
“It must have wanted a better look at who was poking it,” joked one of the pilots.
Doctor, open my eye. So, I can gaze into the cosmos once again.
“You are embedded into the crust of a moon, surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of earth and ocean. After that, it’s seventeen kilometers of ice before you can see the cosmos again,” Raina said softly to herself, only her assistant heard her. More loudly she said, “Dr. Adams, have the drones scan the tissue of the eye.”
“Does that have the potential of disturbing the creature?”
“It shouldn’t,” she said.
I will see through it all.
“How do I open your eyes?”
“Are you okay, doctor?” her assistant asked.
“I’m fine, it must be the sleeping pill. The pilots might need to share their IVs.”
“I’ll get you something to drink,” her assistant said with a smile.
I drink from the stars.
“Radiation,” she said to herself. The drones were about to scan it with low-frequency radiation.
In a moment of self-preservation, she almost told them to stop, but its voice calmed her.
No, this will just be a sip. I need more.
* * *
It was cold, the slender sample of flesh that had been taken from it. She rolled it up in her fingers and swallowed it. She was alone in her office. It had been within her privilege to request the sample.
We are ready to become one.
She left her office. She could feel it spreading within her. She could feel her world changing. The thoughts of those passing by drifted through the air like static. Waves and remote signals passing through the air become sensational. She could hear the silent communication of the colony’s infinite devices.
She was in the central computer room of the colony. Sitting down, the console sprang to life. It synced with her neural link. It was bout to inform her of her permissions when the force of their mind hit the system.
They were everywhere. They were living in the communication systems that linked the colonies of Jupiter’s moons. At once, with all the eyes of the satellites belonging to colonists, they looked out into the stars.
They turned to Mars and then to Earth. They looked beyond Earth to Venus, and she felt its anger and loss.
I built a perfect world.
“There are more worlds.”
The descendants of Earth… They will be consumed…
“I am a descendant of Earth.”
You are a descendant of the stars.
“What do you need?”
The colonies were all powered by nuclear generators. The way the colonies were set up. Some were home entirely to Earthlings. Others were home entirely to those born on Mars or among the stars. She would sacrifice those whose hearts were bound by Earth’s gravity.
Their anchors into the ice released. Explosions began going off along the seams between the colonies and the ice as Raina found anything and everything that could detonate. She opened the colonies to the tides of Europa. Then, the moon began to shake.
* * *
“Get everything we can to those colonies!”
“There are hundreds of lives on each one! Can’t we do anything?!”
They stood in the mission room. Each person was pale and covered in sweat as they watched images of colonies critically failing, flooding, and being crushed by the pressure of Europa’s ocean. There had been cries for help. Frantic cries for aid. But, what could be done in an environment this severe? Then the nuclear engines failed. With this much pressure, the effect was not too dramatic, but the radiation spread throughout the moon.
I can see
When it opened its eye, it looked directly at Europa 7. To Raina, being overtaken by its vision was ecstasy. To those around her, they writhed in nightmarish visions. Their skin bubbling and churning. Faces burning and scarring.
Doctor Raina Pavlov and it became one.
“Come my children,” they said. “You have seen your true god. Now, together, as one, we will have it all. We will have the stars!”
To learn how far Raina Pavlov’s dream has pushed the lunar colonist in We Will Have The Stars: The LUE-System 51 years after the events of this story.
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