I have here the beginning of another collaborative tale, for your inspection and continuation!
Ps: There are a couple references in here. They are only made in good fun, it's not my idea to link this story to the canon of stories.
Scott Hernandez paused in his work, as he did at the end of every long day, to watch Jupiter set and the sky transform from its usual light orange to brief crimson, and then deep, starry black. It was this magnificent display he was waiting for; the luminous river of the milky way, the dancing aurora caused by Jupiter’s colossal magnetic field, the constellations brilliant in the thin Ganymedean sky. He looked for the roving stars that would be Amalthea, Pasiphae, bright Callisto, or any of a myriad of sister worldlets orbiting their shared primary. He imagined, as he always did, what it would have been like to be one of the early explorers he had idolized as a child, Natasha Hin or Viron Zuff, and be the first to set foot on one of those spinning orbs.
But he had missed his chance. He had come home from Occator Flight Academy on Ceres, a certified astrogator, to discover his mother was sick and his brother Bradley had barely been keeping the farm together on his own. He was furious with them for keeping their troubles from him, but his dream of boarding an exploratory rocket and blasting off for the frontier was well known to them. His brother told him they would sooner have lost the farm than call him back from school. It was that very selflessness that made him realize he had to stay, that he couldn't let them lose the farm.
It wasn’t that he was too old to make a spacer, he was only forty, and astrogators were welcome everywhere, from the oldest ice hauler to the most advanced government vessel. It was that he felt too old. Rocketry had evolved since his days at Occator, and he suspected his skills, already rusty from disuse, would be utterly useless on a modern vessel.
Bradley sometimes half-heartedly suggested he look for a job on one of the “Grand Tour” cruise ships that luxuriously floated between Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. He would argue that they would provide a suitably low pressure environment for Scott to bring his abilities up to date. But they both knew that wouldn’t be enough for him. Flying several thousand tons of rocket for the entertainment of the rich wasn’t the same as penetrating the unknown.
Besides, Scott had learned to be content on the farm. He spent his time trouble-shooting the harvester drones and going down to New Memphis, the nearby capital, for drinks with his friends. Sometimes, when his friends had gone home, he would find his way to the Mary Down Docks and watch the sleek, silver rockets push their way to the sky.
“Scott!” Bradley called from the house, pulling Scott from his reverie. “Finish packing up that drone so we can go to sleep!”
Inside the house, Scott removed his muddy boots and farmer’s jumpsuit and sat at the kitchen table for his evening glass of whiskey. This time, unusually, Bradley joined him.
“You know, you ought to try this Sergir, it’s Venusian, but it’s good.” he said, holding the dark red bottle before him and pouring himself a glass. Scott shook his head.
“Every time you drink that stuff, you don’t stop until you’ve passed out.”
Bradley sat facing hid brother quietly. He took a few tentative sips before finally setting the glass down.
“Not thirsty after all?”
“I've arranged an interview for you tomorrow.”
The sudden change in subject left Scott baffled.
“What, like a job?”
“Yeah, at the Ganymede Institute of Astronomy.”
“Like a teaching job? I'm happy here!” Scott insisted.
Bradley shook his head. “You and I both know you aren’t. You want to see distant moons and strange new worlds.”
“And how will teaching astrogation take me to strange new worlds?”
“It won’t. It's not a teaching job. It's a rocket job.”
There was silence as Scott absorbed this.
“GIA has a rocket?”
Bradley shrugged. “Dunno. Old Uranian Orbiter, I'd guess. They need pilots taught how to run ships from that generation, and I put your name in. Been working on the application for weeks, whilw you were sleeping.”
Scott was dumbfounded.
“You shouldn't have! What about the farm?”
“It's no problem, we have farmhands now. To be honest, we don't need you, old man.” Bradley said wryly.
“A mission to Neptune, I assume? I can't believe it. Is the GIA trying to beat Earth out there? They haven't sent anything but probes, maybe they want to send the first manned mission.” Scott was lost in reverie again. Bradley leaned forward and grinned.
“I've not even told you the best part. It's not Neptune.”
Bradley’s smile widened.
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