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The Life Science Research Group facility on Europa was silent. The drilling command center had become hushed as they reached and passed the depth of eighty kilos through the solid ice crust of Europa. They had been drilling for three long Terran years to reach this point, the transition to liquid. The sensors indicated they had moved into a softer material, as predicted, and the computer-controlled drill head had translated it as icy slush. Smiles broke out across the control room. Two minutes later, they breached the liquid water ocean on Europa.

The silence erupted into cheers and congratulatory shouts. Twenty-five minutes later, the first sample arrived at the wellhead and was rushed to the highly secure bio-containment labs on the deepest level, for analysis. Within the lab, the chief of exobiology, Dr. Rubio, and her five closest assistants sat around a large table of monitors, each staring at their respective screen, examining the water for signs of life. Exclamations began to sound.

“Oh my God!” “What is that?" “They're growing.”

Half a day later, the staff of the Europa LRG were jarred out of their artificial nighttime by the lab’s bio-hazard alarm; a containment breach. The breach was contained within the main lab on level three. An hour later, they knew what had happened. Analysis of the computer data and video of the lab confirmed that the organism thrived in oxygen. In the oxygen-rich air of the lab, designed to support humans, they had overgrown their containers and burst from the culture storage unit as a pink ooze.

Two Days Later they met with the miners to request that mining be halted to protect the new life-form, but the miners were unconvinced and chairs scraped the floor as the miners lunged up from their seats and charged out of the conference room. Many pulled knives from their belts and a few unholstered hand-held sonic disruptors from beneath their clothing. They rampaged down the hall, breaking into any closed door. The Federation Police were called and though the staff of the Europa Life Research Group tried to prevent the miners from reaching the level one lab, they were unarmed and the miners rampaged through the facility. They broke enclosures and smashed equipment, and attacking any scientist who attempted to block them.

The Federation Police arrived just as the bio-containment lab was breached and took some of the miners into custody. Broken glass crunched underfoot as they struggled through the lab leaving puddles and streaks of deep ocean water samples on the floor and wet patches and pink smudges on their clothing and shoes. The Federation Police did not chase the few miners that escaped, instead choosing to load the ones that they had caught and arrested into their surface transport before heading back to the lockup at the police branch facility. The lab’s staff cleaned up the broken glass and the scattered samples before shutting down the lab.

Shortly later, the Ice Queen recieved an urgent call. “We require the Ice Queen to go to Europa immediately and investigate the loss of all contact with both mining colonies and the research facility … the whole moon. All of our ships are on the other side of Jupiter at the moment. We will rendezvous with you there as soon as possible. This is an emergency. We are commandeering your vessel and your personnel. Please inform your captain and get underway. More details will follow en route.”

Sci-Fi & Fantasy
February 19
F Hampton Carmine
Smashwords, Inc.

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