On the Jupiter moon of Titan miners discover something frozen in the ice. Space Marines are tasked to escort Payload 6 to Mars base Alpha.

Excerpt of the short story “Payload 6” from “Cosmic Tales” by J.S. Hernandez.

Payload 6

Space has been privatized and the Earth has colonies on various planets and moons.  There is a thriving system of trade and mining among the various colonies.  The privation of space has created a booming economy of mining, food production, water transportation, defense and tourism.  Titan is a methane-rich planet with an atmosphere, liquids and has served as a good resource for fuel and minerals.  Several mining colonies are located there along with cities, hotels and casinos that focus on travel and tourism.  The Space Marines have just been called to transport something that was discovered during mining operations on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.  Due to a rebellion on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, the Space Marines were sent in a small transport shuttle.  The military transports are all being used for the Europa rebellion so they have sent the Mining Ship Newton to transport them and a classified payload to Mars Base Alpha, a military science and research base.  Space truckers Johnson and Flynn have been diverted to pick up the Marines and the cargo for transport to Mars Base Alpha.  They are in orbit of Titan awaiting arrival.

“Mining Ship Newton in position for transport of cargo and space marines to Mars Base Alpha.”  A voice responds, “Mining ship Newton, we read you, cargo shuttle Nebula is in route.  Please stand by for retrieval of Space Marines and Payload 6.” Cargo shuttle Nebula arrives and docks on the mining ship Newton.  The Space Marines unload from the shuttle.  Pay Load 6 is unloaded and placed on the ship manifest as classified.  Mining ship Newton is getting ready to pull out of orbit.  Space trucker Johnson gets on the com and says, “Titan base, Newton is ready to leave orbit.”  A quick scratch on the com and then, “Newton, you are clear to leave orbit.  God Speed.”  With a blast of the thrusters the ship leaves orbit and the ship wide com you hear a beep then, “Newton crew and passengers, we have left orbit of Titan and will reach Mars Base Alpha in three solar days.  This ride is going to be bumpy and communications will be down due to an ion storm.  So you better send your messages now because we will be down till we pass the asteroid belt.”  Flynn puts down the com and flicks a switch to activate the Steller Drive and says to Johnson, “We better get overtime for this diversion.  Why are space marines on this ship?”  Johnson spins his seat around and says, “This is a classified mission according to the manifest.  The cargo is going to Mars Base Alpha.  It must be some important cargo.  I heard some space chatter yesterday.  Some miners found something in the methane ice.  It must top shelf or they would not send it to Mars Base Alpha.  That base is top secret.  So whatever they found it must be important.”

The Space Marines fall into formation in the loading dock of the Newton.  The marines are upset that they are on this assignment and would rather be putting down the rebellion on Europa.  The team consists of four males, Mel, Jonsey, Skins, Keller and one woman, Kat.  Sargent Lopez walks to the front of the group, “Ok Keller, fall in line behind Jonsey!  Attention!  This is a classified mission.  Our assignment is to transport this package to Mars Base Alpha.  We will deliver this package on time.  Keep in mind that payload six is a fragile and flammable package.  It was found in the methane clathrate, that means ice, on Titan.  We have any questions?”  The group stands strait and then an arm goes up in the back.  “I have a question.  I want out of this bullshit assignment!  We should be getting some on Europa.”  Lopez says, “Skins!  Buckle up and fly right!  We got business to take care of and I got leave after this important assignment and Mrs. Lopez is depending on all of us to make it home in one piece.  Especially me!  So let’s get this package to Mars Base Alpha.  Dismissed!”  Mel says to Kat, “Let’s get a smoke.”  Kat follows Mel out of the room and into another space dock.  Mel pulls out some smokes, “Skins is right, this mission sucks.”  Kat lights her cigar and takes a big toke, “Another day another dollar.  Those rebels are lucky that I’m here and not there.  I’m not sure why they are rebelling.”  Mel lights his cigarette and says, “They want a bigger slice of the pie they produce and a new colony built with access to a water source.  They don’t understand that the resources are finite and securing the outer marker from a Reptilian invasion is worth the expense.  They invade and Europa can kiss their asses goodbye.”  Kat takes another puff of the cigar and looks up at the cargo ship hull and says.  “I can only dream of glory in a reptilian war.  God knows I love a good fight but this rebellion is an issue.  We need to bring order ASAP.  Let’s get this cargo to Mars so we can put down the rebellion.”  She puts out her cigar and stuffs it in her hip pocket.  “You ready?”  He flicks his cigarette and says, “I like your attitude Kat!  Let’s go.”  The cigarette slowly burns as they leave the loading dock.


…Continued in “Cosmic Tales”.


© J.S. Hernandez. All Rights Reserved.