Is Jupiter Still There

The black void of interspace opened back unto the comforting star field of Sol system. The home of all humans; now disputed territory in a war between two alien factions.

“Is Jupiter still there?” May asked, impatient to know the status of our objective. We had abandoned the outer planets to the alien forces that sought to use them for resources. Earth had become a tightly defended planet with defenses re-engineered from ships captured from both sides. They had sent a few scouts and a small attack force, after that but then nothing. Maybe we were too a small a fish to go after as an enemy or ally.

“Hold on I’m reacquiring the signal.” Random background radio noise was slowly filtered out by the ship’s communication systems into a steady repeating pulse. “Got it. They’re still transmitting.” The signal was strictly speaking not form Jupiter herself but from one of her moons. During the race to return as many people as possible to Earth from the growing conflict, a many outposts were cut off by the alien invaders. Most were considered lost but one had begun transmitting a distress signal.

From a safe distance, we surveyed the moon. May saw it first. “They’ve built a factory within visual range of the outpost. What do you think?” she asked.

I studied the images. “Could be too close. A landing might attract their attention.” We had orders to not be seen by alien forces.

“What if we came up on the far side of the moon?” she asked, already knowing the answer. This was not the first rescue attempt we had been on.

“The researchers have no way of making it that far,” I said more for the official record than for May.

“So, no rescue attempt?” she asked, again already knowing the answer.

“No.” I paused and said a short prayer for those poor lost souls. Then I looked over at May and together we primed our ship’s weapons systems. We couldn’t save whoever had been left out here but we could put them out of their misery.

“Locking missile onto signal. Missile locked,” May reported.

“Fire at will,” I said. A single missile streaked away from us dutifully following the signal. It would impact and explode within the underground outpost cleanly and quietly. The aliens would probably never even notice it.

“Ok, let’s go home,” I said turning off the signal. The distortion drive engines torn open space and we flew into it. The black void of interspace swallowed us.