the symphony of jupiter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A quest of four young men uncovering the secrets behind the Glow, a phenomenon in Europa, a moon of Jupiter, that contains potential life and water sources.

The Symphony of Jupiter

  • “How thick is the ice?”

“15 to 20 kilometers”

“That’s right. All right, last question. What is our purpose?”

“To figure out what the Glow does.”

“That’s right. What is the Glow, then?

“But you said that was the last question.”

“Just answer already.”

“It is that the moon of Jupiter ‘Europa’ glows mysteriously without the light of the sun, and when it came on 2049, it harmed every-”

“It killed them. It killed them except a man to tell the tale. It killed them right after they had the false hope of living on it instead of that junk yard that they, themselves, nuked and wintered. That is what the Glow is. A proof that humanity lacks humanity, and it’s paying for it. But don’t you worry, little guy, I will be your shield!” A conversation, more like a one-sided consultation, between Luke, a 15- year old who is accompanied by a company of three young men, and Reverend, the most enthusiastic of the group, about their quest to uncover the enigma of Europa, a moon of the 52 moons of Jupiter that shrouded the minds of men aspiring to vacate from the blemished Earth; the northern bisection of the earth was not as fortunate as its southern counterpart, for it was in an unending nuclear winter as an aftermath of the war. The two divided groups of the eight young men, Luke’s company, and a different company on the other side of the moon, formed the 2nd missionary to ensure the prolonged sustenance of life on the moon, although the 1st was not ‘lucky’. The Glow was the reason. The Moon would glow without the sun’s light, which is thought to be due to the intense radiation. Interrupting the conversation, Alexander, the leader of the bunch, says, in an optimistic tone:

“We will be just fine, if we stick together, we will know the secret. Or am I wrong, Noah?” Noah, who was sitting there harkening to everyone’s talking, nods, and answers sarcastically:

“Oh, yes, we will be. We are just going to be stuck on a self-heated rock orbiting a ginormous sac of gases that is covered by a plate of ice of a bigger ocean beneath it with an unknown mystery associated with total annihilation. How better could it be?” Reverend laughs, Luke grins, and Alexander snatches Noah by the shoulder and pulls him to a different room on the ship while Revered continues yelling that he likes ‘this Noah-guy’. Alexander closes the hatchway and says:

“Your 15-year old brother is with us. Say something good or be quiet.”

“Say, we have been here together for only two days now, right? You don’t know him. He’s fine. You see how big and strong he is,” replies Noah. Alexanders sighs and sits, and so does Noah.

“How are you here?” asks Alexander quietly, ensuring the secrecy between them. In a mix of faint signs of anger in his tone and wider hope in his eyes, Noah says:

“Why are you asking me this?” Both stare at each other silently for a few seconds, in a tacit exchange of trust.

“I… he’s not my brother. I… before the Winter… why should I tell you?” Noah asks a question that he, himself, knows the answer to. “What you said was precisely veracious. Hell, it is almost guaranteed we’re dying here. Sending a group of eight youths into space, only to make sure their preparations, with all their space task force, is fully functioning when the time comes. We’re a literal sacrifice. Good grief. But if I can take chances to save that gentle giant that your brother is, I will do everything in my power to achieve that. And that is exactly why I must know everything about you two. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Neither did we. We were all forced into training for this, except you. You chose to come with him. You are not qualified. I don’t understand how you did it, but I know why. It is commendable. And so, I have taken it as my duty to get us out of this misery. Now, how did you join us?”

“It was my father’s will. He has some power in the Station. And it is my fault that Luke lost his father. We were Aurora hunting in Yellowknife’s mountains. I was cooking the fish we caught, and he was just there… staring at the Northern Lights.” Alexander interrupts by putting his hand on Noah’s shoulder right after he notices a subtle change in his complexation, into one of sorrow.

“I do not need to know then.” Alexander smiles, and so does the teared up Noah. In a trice, the alarms siren and the four companions gather in the cabin.

“Everything’s set, so are the coordinates,” Says Reverend.

“Alright then, everyone, prepare for landing!” The ship lands safely. Everyone’s feet are cold, but even so, their objective is clear, and their resolve is firm.

“Okay, everyone, again, the plan is as follows: We will drop here on and walk to the excavation site, we will use the vessel to sail on the fissures on the site’s ending and sample the waters. While at that, we must avail ourselves of the cellular-thermal scope, so to search for any life forms underwater. Remember, we must finish our mission in less than thirty minutes to avoid the next wave of comet showers. We will take shelter under the bunker of the Whipple Shield of the site. Then, depending on the sitch, we will send someone back to the ship to analyze the data and send a status report to HQ while the rest set up the Geiger Counter to prepare for the Glow. As from now, the Glow will take place in 10 Earth minutes, or to be specific, 2 hours and thirty minutes from now. Reverend, you will keep an eye on the Glow and comet showers and the security of radiation to avoid any surprises. Luke, I want you to feast your eyes on watching for any life forms, taking the samplings, and, hopefully, analyzing the data sent back to HQ. Noah, you use your muscles to transport the tools.” Everyone laughs and nods while wearing their suits, except Noah who didn’t laugh, dissimulating that the joke was ‘not haha-worthy’.

“All right, boys, let’s go have some fun,” says the leader, and the crew follows with no hesitation. Alexander the leader, Noah the handyman, Reverend the passionate, and Luke the prodigy undertake the mission of discovering the secret of Jupiter’s fourth moon, Europa.

The stairs are deployed, and the crew moves to the rusty-looking, nickel ground.

“Nickel is sharp, be careful where you step,” says Alexander. Luke stares into the ground and bends to grab a rock from the ground. He says fervently:

“Oh, silicate, interesting.” Noah looks at him and says:

“Don’t touch anything.”

“It’s quite alright,” says Reverend. “That reminds me, look at all the ice! All life stuff! I bet we’ll find some life on here, I am telling you there is! Hey, Noah-guy, how much do you want to bet?”

“I’ll bet on your existence… given the circumstance.” Answers Noah sarcastically.

“Quiet! We are here,” Alexander notes, an admonition to their arrival at the site. “Noah, the vessel.”

Noah nods, taking the vessel and depositing it on a fissure of water.

“The water looks like black Opaque Coolants,” says Luke. Noah installs the vessel to be put to use as he starts activating, shaping it in the figure of a boat to be initiated like a snowmobile.

“Hop on,” Noah tells his companions following his setting the seal on the functionality of the vessel. They get on the vessel and Noah starts driving it, caring not to go as fast as to have the gravity lose them away. Alexander points to Luke to start collecting samples of the snowflake-like sublimes of penitents on the water.

“Time is very short, this plan is unrealistic. There is much space for error,” whispers Reverend to Alexander. “We already took some time to come here, and we took a lot longer to come here than anticipated.”

Alexander ignores Revered, gazing the other way while exhibiting a face of distress.

“What was that?” asks Noah. “We just hit something.”

“It’s probably an ice vase, nothing to worry about,” answers Alexander.

“ Underwater? Really? I bloody well hate this place already,” comments Noah.

“Oh, no, no, no, dear Noah-guy, I have won the bet! This is a Spinosoraus, a nightmare in the oceans!” Says Reverend while giggling like he never has.

  Noah sighs and says:

“God, help me.”

“Knock it off, Reverend, look at what you did to Luke!” Alexander points out while comforting Luke.

Luke gives the face of a nincompoop, shaking like a leaf, and declares as he stands up to say:

“I-I bloody well hate this place already.”

Reverend laughs very hard, Alexander tells Luke to sit down with a broad smile on his face, and Noah facepalms. Instantaneously, a gigantic shrimp-like creature appears out of the water in a swift jump then to disappear into the dark water again.

“What was that?!” shout Luke and Alexander simultaneously, and Noah picks up the speed of the vessel.

“Oh, Reverend, you crazy lunatic, you were right! Reverend?”

What they feared came to be, except that it was worse, they went around to see the reason for Reverend's silence to see half of his arm amputated. They stare at each other stilly, and suddenly, all panic in their own manner. However, Reverend’s words were unexpected ones:

“Yes! It’s here! We are going to kill it! We will be rich! Oh, I am delighted! The Beast, the Great Shrimp, the Lord of Europa! We come for you! We will cut you apart, shred you, sell you, and be rich!”

Alexander yells at the crying Luke to apply pressure on the wound, while waiting for Noah to get the medkit to use.

“Keep your mouth shut, you psychogerm,” says Noah to Reverend. Reverend stares into Noah’s eyes while having a cloth wrapped around his suit before the blood is lost, and the oxygen is gone, and tells him: “I will be called a hero, a hunter, a warrior. I will be in a great state of affluence, I will finally make mother proud! I will finally buy her a bigger house! I will buy Big Bro the fast cars he loves! I will buy Big Sis the violin she adores!

“Shut up, Reverend!” Says Alexander, who was indecisive as to whether he should pay heed to the crippling monster nearby or to his fallen companion, a dilemma of taking a chance to swotting the monster, or saving a friend on the verge of dying. A dilemma of the Greater Good. A promising prospect to the secret of surviving the Moon, or a mere human.

“I am delighted!” shouts the dying Reverend, “Welcome to Europa! If you are too eager, you will end up on a spike! And if you are too meager, you will be withdrawn!” Reverend resumes chuckling, while the other two yell at one another as to the action to be taken. Although it all happened in a few seconds, the agitated Luke runs up to the driving seat and motors to the shore as fast as possible. The concerned Noah holds to be aware of the monster if it emerges, whereas the apprehensive Alexander folds the maimed Reverend in his arms. The decision, made clear by each’s action, is to save their friend. Alexander, the leader, makes it official:

“Change in plans. We return to the ship right now!”

“Is my death… meaningless?” Mutters Reverend, in a sound of sorrow, enough to force Noah to turn his back to the water and gaze into Reverend’s eyes to say: “You don’t dare say that again.” These words propagated hope in Reverend, giving him the will to survive to ‘tease Noah-guy’ with them. Reverend, in what seemed like his last moments, hears the slight, soft noise of the thermal scope’s indication of a heated body closing the gap between it and the vessel, smiles and says:

“My death is not meaningless. Now, I can warn you of the monster approaching.”

Reacting more sprightly than last time, Luke says:

“Get him off the boat!”

They have finally reached the ground, Alexander picks his injured friend up on his back, and Noah carries the instruments of science that they will not use anytime soon. However, despite their best efforts to the contrary, nature is not a foe easily avoided. The approximately 3.5 meter tall behemoth reveals itself slowly, and slowly to prepare for a strike. And so it does, shooting a penitent-like projectile into Reverend, and contracts it to pull him into the water. Albeit their efforts were plainly futile, the crew fought dearly by holding onto their fellow spacemate. Even so, life is not an ally, and plans are always thwarted. But, nature is not an enemy, and coincidences are always adjudged. Abruptly, Luke, who was also pulling Reverend into safety, stops. Noah looks at him, saying:

“Keep it up, you fo-”

Noah sees his brother staring at his very own left hand missing an index finger.

“A comet shower! Get down!” screams Alexander.

Luckily, Luke’s hand was not the only victim, but the titan also was. The monster lets go, diving back into the deep ocean to fight shy of the raining rocks. However, the three weak humans on the moon do not have the faculties to do the same. Alexander, with the severely injured Reverend on his back, starts running, while Luke and Noah follow, dodging what they can from the commencing comet shower. Luke, splitting his attention between covering the wound that could drain him from oxygen and the disaster that has befallen them, loses his way. Mercifully, he finds a structure that seems like potential cover. A man-made vault under a hill ice spikes. It is the final destination. The location at which they will get the best view on Jupiter. The location of the Glow. On the other side of the large excavation site, Noah, Alexander, and the deceased Reverend make it inside the Whipple Shield bunker. Reverend the passionate is dead.

“Is everyone fine?” asks Alexander.

“Oh, very fine, there is a dead guy on your back and the kid’s injured,” rejoinders Noah, having had a bad run of ‘luck’ till now.

“Wait, Noah, where is he?

“Where is who?”

“Who else? Luke.”

Alexander lays Reverend’s body on the ground, and finds reserved oxygen tanks and comms to HQ.

“We’re almost out of oxygen, come,” says Alexander. Then, after no reply from Noah, Alexander looks at him, and realizes that Noah, who was maintaining sharp eye contact with him, is determined to look for his brother.

“You can’t go now. It is showering literal rocks.”

“You? Did you just say you? You promised you were going to get us out of here,” says Noah in a very calm voice, creating a pressure by his mingle of unrelenting anger and resolve.

“If we go out now, it is suicide. We have to stay here until the comets end,” says Alexander, who is also holding back his own conscience from ripping itself apart from guilt.

“You are making sure he dies, or something?”

“Do not say that. That is not-”

“What is it then? He might be dying as we speak. He was already hit, and now, as we argue, he might be dying. We could save him!”

“I will not allow it! We can’t risk both of us dying for the possibility that he… that he could not get to safety.”

“I am not standing for this,” says Noah as he fills his tank with oxygen to rescue his brother. As a last effort to beat sense into Noah, Alexander says:

“There is a good chance that he took refuge in the vault. Knowing Luke, he must have remembered that the comets come from the direction of Jupiter, which will remain there for the whole day, meaning he could follow it to get into the vault of the Glow.”

Noah’s face lights up, and asks Alexander:

“Why didn’t you tell me from the beginning?”

Alexander gives a faint smile and responds:

“I just remembered.”

As Reverend said, time is short, for they spent twenty three minutes walking to the excavation site, four minutes on the vessel, and three under the bunker, waiting for the hail of comets on the tip of their toes to save and not regret again.

“Noah, now that the showers are over, I am going to stay here and try to reach HQ for any sort of help we can get, and I may be able to communicate with the other team. You, in the meantime, will look for Luke. However, and I plead with you, keep time in mind. The Glow will occur at an interval of fifteen minutes. If you do not find him, take refuge in the vault. Do you promise?”

Noah nods, opens the door of the bunker, and leaves on a quest to find his young adopted brother. Meanwhile, Luke realizes his whereabouts, and so, he sets up his gear, awaiting the Glow. The fate of a whole team’s mission, as well as a country lacking sufficient space task force, is up to the youngest of them. And that is the way it is. A combined human effort against relentless odds of misery. An orchestra to observe. And this orchestra, like all the ones that came before, is one of pain and pleasure, happiness and sorrow, victory and loss, and most importantly, faith and doubt. This is the orchestra of Jupiter. Nevertheless, in this battle, after seven minutes of trials, a beacon of hope has been lighted:

“Hello? M95, Do you copy? M95, Do you copy?”

“I hear you. We lost a man. The team has been separated by the comet shower after being attacked by a shrimp-like creature, but we can be ready for the Glow.” Alexander answers the beacon, the call from Headquarters. However, although Alexander had them know of the hardship and dejection that has befallen him and his crew, they seemed to be uninterested.

“The mission is called off. You must return immediately.”

“Why is that, if I may?”

“A crew member with the name of Luke Harlow has blood type AB-. The survivor of the last missionary had it, and it seemed that it was the secret of his survival of the Glow. Where is Luke, as of now?”

“In the vault of the Glow.”

“The other team has also been contacted to find him. Bring him back immediately.”

Alexander stares into the palm of his hand, pondering and thinking about the grim fate that awaits Luke, and the action he should take. Alexander, again, has been put in the unfortunate position of making the decision, or in other words, the ruling. He is, like before, in a dilemma of the Greater Good. A promising prospect to the secret of surviving the Moon, or a mere human. Alexander’s soul has suffered much, and now his resolve is firm. He knows the action to take. Meanwhile, Noah, who was also looking for Luke, is running out of time. The Glow will take place in a few minutes, and he knows it from the view of Jupiter. But Jupiter did not only suggest danger, but also yearning. Noah finds the vault, and in it, the best sight of his life. His dear, sweet, younger brother.

“There you are, boy,” says Noah.

“Noah? How did you find me that fast?”

“You were always bad at hide and seek,” answers Noah cheerfully.

Both laugh, but, just like the last time, they have no time for a break.

“Did you refill your oxygen?” asks Noah.

“I did,” answers Luke.

“Good job,” says Noah.

 Luke instructs Noah not to remove the veil, for The Glow has started, and it is very bright. In a vivid, magical display of lights, Jupiter, in all of its grace, sends its colourful clouds in the sound of thunder, almost as if the Romans had already known about it.

“How long will this take?” asks Noah.

“It should take around half a minute, and then we will need to be very careful with the clouds. Let’s hope that the Geiger Counter is not caught in the middle of one.”

Thirty seconds or so later, Noah stands up to see through, and the Glow is, indeed, over. They lived through it. There was room for the possibility that the clouds had taken the ship, equipment, and in another scenario, the vault, down, but now, they have to keep moving. Luke exits the vault with one thing on his mind: the Geiger Counter results. And so does Noah, with one thing in his mind: the safety of his young brother. Unfortunately, what Luke feared was realized; the Geiger Counter is in a cloud.

“Radius is approximately six meters, which will take me about seven seconds to reach the center. I may be able to manage to get it out, but seconds is too much radiation. I won’t be able to wash it off, besides, it might kill me while I am in because of the vibration of the oxygen atoms,” explains Luke, telling his brother that he, in fact, is insisting on going in.

“You are not-”

“ Didn’t you hear his last words?” asks Luke. “He said his death is meaningless. I will not allow it. His death will not be in vain.”

“Him dying does not mean you should die too! We can start over again, he won’t be glad to have you die right after him!”

“Start over again? Our country, our planet, our very nature has no time. I need to do something.”

“I will go in, then,” says Noah.

Luke smiles, and runs slowly (because of the gravity) towards the cloud and into it. Noah, wanting to cry so much to the point of being speechless, stands there, hoping a miracle would happen. Alongside the speechlessness, Noah counts from one to seven. In the fifth second, Luke gets out in the other direction, coughing heavily. Noah comes over to him when Luke yells at him to stop there.

“We have to get to the water.”

“Are you all right?”

“I am… well… fine, for now. I forgot that I had a very small opening because of my index finger, so some got into the suit.”

Noah’s face becomes pale, staring at his brother’s smile, and almost goes mad. He does not say a word. The two of them reach the fissures, and, surprisingly, find their third companion there.

“Alexander! Long time no see!” says Luke.

Alexander does not give any sign of response, as he was just sitting beside the vessel near the water.

“Any luck with the comms?”inquires Noah, feeling that something is off.

“Oh, I did not hear you, my bad. Yes, they sent us saying that we must go back home. Because I told them of what occured, they want us to give a final try of sampling deeper water. I did not think we would use it, but we could use the Vase Rod. It will be very quick,” responds Alexander.

“Are they mad? This is terrifyingly retarted. Give me that.”

Noah grabs a Vase Rod, and Luke warns Alexander to stay far from him because of the radiation. However, Alexander asks him a question that seemed peculiar:

“What happened after you got out?”

“I… coughed?” Luke answers, unsure of what Alexander means.

“That’s good.” Alexander says.

Noah puts his Rod away, takes his brother to talk to him in secret, and says to him:

“Luke, go back to the ship. We’ll come after you.”

“ No. I am not leaving.”

“Are you disobeying me?”

Luke looks down and says:

“Why?”

Noah, for the first time in his time with Luke, grins, and tells him:

“When did I ever become this irrational? It’s just a hunch, but I want you to take the ship, run, and don’t look back.”

Luke does not understand his brother’s words, who seemed to know that something does not add up. Suddenly, Noah’s stance changes, and falls on his knee. Alexander stands behind him. Luke discerns that the Alexander he knew is no more.

“Just run!” Noah yells.

Luke dashes towards the direction of the ship. Alexander pulls the pentanent that he stabbed Noah with and starts to run after Luke, when Noah makes it clear that isn’t happening. Noah holds onto Alexander’s leg and says:

“You promised to protect him.”

“Oh, Noah, how does it feel? Oh, the guilt, Noah! The guilt, it is beautiful! Look at what it does to a human!”

“You are mad!” says Noah.

“Oh, no, no, don’t say that. I am doing this for humanity. But you? You are doing this for yourself! For ‘your brother’ who is not even of relation to you! I will not make the same mistake again! I will not choose the individual! I will make the death of my comrades of meaning! I will make sure of it. Reverend is the last,” declares Alexander. Alexander swings the spike while saying:

“I am the one who caused all of this! I am the one who convinced a prodigy to come with us! I am the reason behind Reverend’s death! If I hadn’t tried, none of this would have happened. If I hadn’t existed, you would be on earth with your brother! How does it feel, huh? Knowing that you have no one to blame but yourself? Fight back! Kill me!”

“You can’t kill a dying man!”

Noah dodges Alexander’s spikes, blocks a few, and tries to disarm him, but soon, after a few of Alexander’s endeavours, Noah falls on his own. Alexander looks down at Noah and starts humming a song Noah recognizes.

“Stop it,” says Noah.

“I knew you’d know it. It’s a song very well known in Yellowknife,” says Alexander while walking away after Luke. However, his walking is of no meaning, it is a last ‘stab’ of his guilt. Alexander plunges on the ground.

“I am sorry, Noah. I am so sorry,” says Alexander, when he starts crying.

The moon’s sky becomes reddish, the stars become more vivid, and Jupiter’s beauty glows. Then, both of them see the ship take off and in it a lantern of love and hope. Noah reckons that a few words more and his air runs out, and so his blood, and says:

“Just… keep your mouth shut, and enjoy the view, captain.”

Alexander the leader and Noah the handyman die, both redeemed in their own ways. Reverend the passionate, their dear friend, is dead. But, Luke the prodigy, their shared hope, in their own ways, still lives to either take action, or to be taken into action. Luke, flying a ship to be controlled by two on his own, looks at Jupiter, and says to himself:

“It is about time we bring Jupiter’s symphony home, for our dear Earth heals itself, and we must fire-fallow cultivate it off the worms that live on it.” Luke has the resolution he needs, and it is this resolution, this fury caused by a lust for justice in the midst of suffering that creates a benefactor of greatness, be it good or bad, it is greatness nonetheless. A marvelous symphony in many forms, but, this time, the symphony of Jupiter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: January 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 alkasim jallul. All rights reserved.

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