Bird in the Hand

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
They came to this moon, Europa, to prove themselves right and to expand their horizons. But what they found was not what they expected.

Submitted: June 19, 2017

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Submitted: June 19, 2017

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The opening scene shows a massive space craft landing on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The ship is a command base with drilling rig capabilities and housing compartments for workers, crew members, surface exploration vehicles, and submersible water craft.

Commander Southerly is in charge and Captain Sierpinski is the vessel's Captain.

"Commander, touchdown and surface lag-attachments are complete."

"Very well, Captain, put those rough-necks to work. We want to penetrate that ice surface before the next cycle is complete. I'm assuming they have their equipment ready."

"Yes Sir, they have already fitted the elliptical drills and have tested the drive motors."

The Commander smiles just a little and says, "Good! Oh, and be sure our communications people download everything and store it to hard-drives. We will have no communication with earth after this cycle is over; at least, not until we depart and move our ship out from behind the planet.

This will be a historic time, Captain Sierpinski, so we do not want any of its history lost."

"Copy that, Commander Southerly !"

(Hours pass into days, then...)

"Commander, the drilling is complete and the submersible water craft is ready for departure. We have dropped detection sensors down the hole and they detect what we believed to be true all along, there is a vast ocean down there. And Sir, it is not frozen, in fact, the surface temperature is nowhere near freezing."

"Well good," stated the Commander Southerly, "that should speed things up here and time is of the essence.

Have the crew of the submersible board the craft, then start launch sequence."

"Captain Sierpinski, the Submersible's crew has boarded and all hatches are secure," said first Officer Chan"

Captain Sierpinski looked intently at the viewing monitor and said, "Lower the Submersible to water contact, and well done people, well done!"

"Commander, we are ready for launch, on your order Sir."

"Launch the Submersible, Captain."

"Copy that! --- Launch beginning in ... three, two, one. ..."

A hour passes.

"Commander, we received word from the submersible.The crew of the Silverfish awaits your order to begin a grid search."

"Begin search."

"Copy that, Commander."

The Ocean's search begins...

***

Meanwhile, in the midst of a very futuristic city and somewhere on the moon's actual surface, two somewhat strange looking humans are having a conversation.

"They have drilled into the ice shield, Governor Neruda, and now they are starting a grid search. The council must institute the Guardian Rule or we may lose everything to the past."

"What must be done must be done, Aquinas, for the first time in my lifetime the council shall be called into emergency session. You shall have an answer very soon."

***

Back aboard the surface spacecraft the Captain is franticly speaking to the Commander, "Commander, we have lost contact with Silverfish, just after they entered the North-west quadrant."

"No contact at all?"

"No Sir, it was as if they just vanished."

***

Meanwhile, back in the futuristic looking city and in a large room.

OK people. All those from the Silverfish, listen up. I am sure you are wondering why these people helping you look so strange, me included. You are all educated people so I am not going to go into lengthy explanations.

The gravitational pull on this moon is less than earths, the oxygen levels are slightly higher, and we get no direct sunlight to our skin. Thus, we are taller, thinner, and our skin is all the same color. Our brains are larger due to, well, it just is.

We came from earth about 12 thousand years ago to set up this moon for colonization, shortly thereafter, about 100 earth years, the morons on earth decided to have another stupid war, and that wiped out about 98% of the earth's human population.

If you had been around in those days, and you lived in the mountains, desert hills, or anywhere far from the cities and rural communities, you might have survived.

Yes, you are in the second attempt at earth's human evolution. If you look really close at some of your historical and religious traditions you will find stories that try to explain what happened; not well, but they try.

Now, you have been assembled here so you can be better informed about your situation.

As you already know, your submersible was running out of oxygen and you all passed out.

Now here is what you do not know. We found your vessel on the surface of our ocean and near our shoreline. We revived you and provided medical manipulation to your organs so they would function properly; this included your brains, which might have been damaged otherwise.

We have been listening to you communications and that is how we were able to find you along our vast shoreline. We have been tracking your movements from the instant your ship landed on the protective artificial surface."

"What do you mean by artificial surface? Isn't this moon covered in a layer of ice?" said the communications officer, Darrel Mont.

"Think of a balloon within a balloon, the inner balloon is the actual moon, the outer balloon is actually an ice barrier our people fashioned when we first migrated to this moon, some 12 thousand earth years ago."

Mina Sang, a biologist asked, “If you have inhabited this moon for 12 thousand years. Why haven't you made any attempt to contact us?"

"To be blunt, we do not want anything to do with earth. We monitor your radio signals and digital transmissions, but we have destroyed all transmission devices that we once had. We could not send a signal even if we wanted to; which we do not.

We see that earth is still following the same old path that caused the last human disaster. We have no doubt that earth will destroy their civilization all over again; and we do not want to go along for the ride."

The crew member chatted among themselves and then Juan Salazar, the submersible pilot, asked, "This ice surface was your doing, you built it?"

"Sure, we just covered this moon with a thin ball-like structure and then created a pressure system to eject ocean water into space; the water settled on the structure surfaces and froze. The more that froze the thicker the ice became and soon the moons actual surface was protected from all sorts of things, including smaller meteors.

The more water that was sent to the outer surface drained the ocean enough to allow more of the continent and islands to emerge. After that we had more land available to inhabit and to cultivate.

We grow our food and fish the ocean, the cycle is complete and we give back for what we take.

And another plus was ours as the ice formed, the surface of the moon grew warmer and so did the ocean."

"Where does the light come from, you are shielded from the sun’s rays, right?" Asked Mina Sang, as she looked all around the room for light fixtures.

"Right again! We reflect light from several large artificial sources and we bounce it off heat shields that are mounted on the interior of the ice dome above us. We can simulate day and night very well and do so for sleep cycle purposes.

All our power comes from ocean currents turning turbines and most heat is tapped from the molten inner core of this moon. No raw materials are needed.

Bill Fry the math whiz stood up and said, "Well, I'm sorry, the math just doesn't work. As population grows, so grows the need for more."

Aquinas replied with a crocked, thin-lipped, smile and said, "But our population has not grown in ten thousand years, we do not allow it. A fluctuation of a few hundred occurs, but no more. We have a sustainable system so why mess up a good thing?

We have overcome sickness and we live well over 100 years. When a vital organ goes, it goes quickly, there is no lingering death cycle."

"So when someone dies you just let them die?" asked Darrel Mont.

"Well of course, but I should explain it this way, we value the guilty of life, not the length of it.

Are you really living when confined to a bed with hoses and wires sticking out of you? That is just false hope to the inevitable end. Besides, after 120 to 150 years, you are ready to go anyway. And if you are not, it happens so quickly that you do not have time to worry about it."

Juan Salazar asked, "Don't any of you ever want to get off of this rock, I mean, it must get boring, right?"

"Actually, no, when you are born and raised within a structured society, like this one, you think as they do.

I believe you have a saying, {"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."}, but that is a derogatory statement and quite often used to mean the opposite. I believe you use another phrase that is much more accurate, {"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."}. We have a bird in our hand. So why choose the other side of the fence, or the two birds in the bush?'

"And you have never had a war, ever?" asked Bill Fry.

"We consider ourselves fortunate never to suffer the physical and emotional loss that comes with war. There is a saying among us, {"Why should it take an army to rid society of a tyrant?"}.

No one here goes hungry and everyone is employed. We live full and productive lives and we want for nothing. So why mess it up?"

Everyone in the room started talking again, discussing what was said, and weighing the differences of opinion.

Then Juan asked, if you don't want earth to know that you are here, then why are you telling us all this? Are you saying that we are not go back to our surface ship, to go home?"

"Not at all, we are giving you the opportunity to join us, to stay here and to have a better, longer, life. However, there is no changing your mind if you do stay.

We will give you some time to think about it," Aquinas said as he brought the meeting to a conclusion.

Everyone started talking again, It was scary, the thought of staying in a strange place and not knowing anyone. Even with all the perks the uncertainty mounted.

***

Back at the Surface Spacecraft things have gotten hectic. Too many cycles have now passed and there is little hope that the crew members of the Silverfish is still alive.

"Silverfish, this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy? Silverfish, this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy? Silverfish, this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy?"

"How long are you going to call them, Commander? They are a lost cause, you know that. We should have left by now.

No-one goes more than six cycles without receiving a Oxygen recharge. They just don't carry enough and we all know that is true."

"I do not care, I am Commander and I will not give up on them until after the seventh cycle is complete!

Silverfish, --- this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy? Silverfish, --- this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy? Silverfish, --- this is Pond-skimmer. Do you copy?"

Suddenly a faint and broken message is heard! "Pond-  immer, thisfish, over. Pon -skimm  ,isfish,  over."

"Silverfish, this is Pond-skimmer. Keep transmitting, we are receiving faint signals and trying to lock in. Do you copy?"

"Copyat. --- Com  ncing  transmission... The sound track from a 1950's record album begins playing. 

 

"Silverfish, this is Pond-skimmer, we have you locked and we are reeling you in. --- Do you copy?

opyat Pond-skimmer!"

"Silverfish, I am afraid you will have to make hull attachment to the tow-line, at the docking station. Do you Copy?" --- "Silverfish, You will have to make hull attachment to the tow-line. Do you Copy?"

"Copyhat Pond-skimmer! Can do!"

"Well Captain Sierpinski, do you still think humans can't survive for more than four cycles?"

"I still don't know Sir. But you were right; at least they are still alive. --- Thank God."

"Yes, can I help you Captain Sierpinski ?"

The Captain thinks to himself, {"Damn, I wish they had thought up another acronym for that dammed computer."}

No thanks COD.

On second thought, --- play some soothing music; piano please, COD."

"Brahms Lullaby playing, in three, two, one."

 

{Some time later at the docking bay.}

 

"Commander, I am so grateful that you did not give up and depart for earth."

"Who are you and where are my people?" The Commander yelled at the tall, thin man that stood before him.

"No time to explain, Commander, but even if I did you would not remember anyway," said Aquinas as he activated a hand held devise, --- Zzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

"All right, you communication people, let's get informative data replaced and those communication transmissions changed, as far as the rest of you, to your assignments. Let's get this done and leave before they wake up."

***

After Aquinas and his people were locked onto and transported back to their city the Commander and crew woke up. But they didn't just wake up, they woke up doing the exact same things that they were doing before the Docking Bay doors opened. It was a real freeze-frame moment, unfrozen.

"Where is the crew?" asked the Commander.

The Captain hurried inside the submersible and then called for the medics.

"What's going on?" asked the Commander.

The Captain replied, while sweat trickled down the side of his face, "They are all in there and alive. And they appear to be OK, Sir, but they are unconscious."

The Commander looked inside the craft after the crew was removed and when he came out he asked, "Well how in Hades did they attach this craft to the tow line? It was done manually."

"Your guess is as good as mine Commander. I guess we will have to ask them when they wake up. But for now, let's be happy that they are all safe on board."

 

Hours later, and well after the massive spacecraft had left the moon's surface, the Commander and the Captain is in the mess-room getting coffee. Then a rather one sided conversation begins.

"This moon is not one that I am recommending for colonization, Commander, it is just far too dangerous without better communications and submersibles equipped to carry more Oxygen.

Besides, the data we did receive from silverfish revealed a very cold and hostile environment down there, with no hint of life.

It would be far more trouble and expense than it is worth. Don't you think? I mean, after all, one exploratory excursion and we almost lost a vessel and its crew; mainly because we couldn't remain in contact. That is a big negative right there."

"My report will say the same things Captain, the very same."

Oh, by the way Captain, what did the submersible crew have to say when they woke up?"

"Not a lot that we didn't already know, Commander. They all claim that after they passed out they don't remember a thing. How they made it back to the docking station is a mystery."

Lack of Oxygen can do strange things to the mind, Captain. I'm sure that is all it was.

Copy that, Commander.

 

D. Thurmond / JEF --- 06-18-2017


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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