Part 8: The Return
Hypernet News Service : 22 Sept 2199 : @ 1830
THE COSMIC COUPLE ARE RETURNING!
After 35 years of silence from the planet Jupiter a signal
has just come up from the static a few moments ago. The
observation station on Callisto Base has reported receiving this
"This is Jupship One, Captain Tordenskjold speaking. We are
ascending, should be clear of the atmosphere in 8 hours,
arriving Callisto Base 1030 wst. Do you read us?"
Reply was sent: "Callisto Base reads you...uh...Jupship. Is that
really you? They'd sorta given up on you a long time ago."
Message: "Understood. We've been locked in another relative time
frame, according to our instruments we've been gone over 33 years
6 months of your time. Exactly what IS the Earth-reference date
Callisto informed them that it was 22 Sept 2199.
Then the visual-band vidiex transmission cut in as well and the
observation crew saw Niels Tordenskjold and Marucia Alexandre
sitting at the controls of their ship, apparently the same age as
when they descended.
Marucia: "Then it really has been so long?"
At this point the vidiex communication with Callisto Base was cut
off. The Solar Ranger HQ informs us that Callisto Base is in
A statement from General D. Brin:
"Until we really know just who or what that is ascending out of
Jupiter, we're taking no chances of contamination. The signals
could be recordings made 33 years ago, the original crew could be
dead--and these returning "space heroes" could be Jupiterian
clones, copies of humans to pass as human, or changed, or
diseased--they're certainly not as they should be."
Professor B. Bova of Lunar University submitted an opinion:
"The SR may be overracting, but it's probably a very good idea to
do just that at this point, until we are sure that this is indeed
our Cosmic Couple come back, and without alien bacteria or baby
monsters incubating inside them...we've all seen the movies.
Just because the idea of alien threat is so cliched is no
guarantee that it can't happen. However, it is most likely that
these people have simply been in another time-frame, such as
experienced by interstellar travellers travelling faster than
light, who are gone 50 years to us, but have themselves only
lived 2 years of their own time.."
Hypernet News Service : 23 Sept 2199 : @ 0100 wst
WSS JUPSHIP arrived Callisto Base, immediately quarantined.
A vacuum-packed 4-man security team led by Lt R. Sheckley boarded
JUPSHIP with decontamination equipment, but found only crew
Tordenskjold and Alexandre aboard. Apparently healthy and
unchanged--except that Miss Alexandre was visibly in the final
stage of pregnancy. Radiation check negative.
Biocontamination scan negative. DNA Identification positive.
Crew co-operative, this procedure had been specified 33 years
before. Telemetric readings recorded. Code Words requested.
NIELS TORDENSKJOLD: Christmas Pudding. I guess Dr. Jane Asimov
isn't here on Callisto Base now? She was our liason officer.
LT SHECKLEY: Asimov? She gave up waiting. I don't know if she's
even alive after 33 years, but we can check on it. I'm your
liason for now. Where you guys been?
MARUCIA ALEXANDRE: We've been down there, in Jupiter, but it's
only been 9 relative-time months for us.
NIELS: What have we come back to? Any serious political
changes? War? What is our status?
Lt: You are quarantined until declared clean, and classified
until we hear what you've got to report. The World Government has
been rather stable, and we'd like to keep it that way, if you
don't mind. Did you meet the Jupiterians?
NIELS: Yes, and it was a bonafide contact with an alien
LT SHECKLEY: Stop, what you say next may be classified
information and we are under live media coverage.
MARU: Good. But this must not be classified; the Jupitarians
have requested us to transmit their knowledge to all the people
of Earth, not just the power elites...
LT SHECKLEY: Shut down the media! By order of the Government,
shut down the media, we are now CLASSIFIED!!
end of broadcast