Another addition to the Ashes of Jove series of short stories.
Jenifer’s Ashes by Frederic Beauchamp
Jenifer Young. Of all the new doctors of this doomed generation, she had always kept hope. Jenifer had been fantasizing about the Galileo Expedition for years. Her grand-father had been part of the team behind the Juno mission and had always told her about the stories of its epic journey to meet Jupiter. She spent restless nights peering at the planet through a telescope. From the simplest stories about space told by her grand-father to the exceedingly tedious astrophysics classes at MIT, all of that only reinforced her dreams of following the footsteps of that famous probe.
It’s thanks to the newfound understanding of Jupiter’s magnetosphere and radiation belts that the Galilean colonists could actually populate the Jovian system. Until Juno, no one would even have considered sending any manned spacecraft to Jupiter. The amount of shielding necessary was still unknown and the risks were far too great as the only practical way to slow down was by aerobraking through the upper layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
It has since been about 30 years since the first Galileans made it to Europa. Videos of the expedition were all over the news and a new batch of colonists were sent every 3 months on their one-way trip to one of the only safe places in the solar system.
Jenifer was a young woman, still a little girl to most people that surrounded her, but more notably her father. He was very protective of her; he worried endlessly when she was away from home to study. He called her everyday but this time it was to arrange plans for her honorary doctorate graduation. He had never been so proud.
“Yes dad, I get it, you want it to be perfect, don’t worry! You already booked the hotel and you have your plane tickets and even several backup plans.” She lingered on the phone to try and absorb some of her father’s agitation. “Dad, what about mom is she around? Can I speak to her?”
Jenifer’s mother had fallen into depression after losing her father; her fear of losing all that she cared for was consuming her. But for once she sounded happy. Glad that her daughter represented the only hope for a good outcome out of their family.
The graduation ceremony went well; eager young doctors were celebrating all night long after finally achieving something truly great. They spearheaded their generation to become one that laughed in the face of the apocalypse. Many of them were doing it under the expectation that they would be selected to become citizens of Galileo. All knew too well that only a portion of them would be selected, but they didn’t care, tonight was their last night as students and they deserved to live it like their last night alive.
The next morning, Jenifer met with her mother and father at the café. Her father was holding a letter with a red seal. “This was delivered to us a few days before coming here Jenifer, it’s for you.” They both stared their daughter intently as she devoured the envelope with her ever curious scrutiny. “It’s from GSI! Could it be? Oh shit it’s gotta be!” “Just open it Jen!” her father urged. She then tore the envelope open and quickly read the letter.
“Dear Dr. Jenifer June Young
On behalf of the recently established Global Space Initiative (GSI) we would like to inform you that you have been selected as one of the prime candidates for the Phoenix mission.
You have 7 days upon receipt to accept this mission, failure to communicate with us will be considered as a refusal and the next candidate will be considered.
You will find attached to this letter our contact information.
We hope to hear from you.
GSI Interstellar Operations Manager”
“Yessssss!” Jenifer cried out. Her dream of finally taking her life to the stars was a reality. “I’m going up there, not just to Galileo, but I’m part of the phoenix crew!”
“That can’t be!” Her mother replied. “That’s wonderful news!” her father exclaimed. They both held their daughter tightly against them and let out a soft relieved sigh. Their daughter was going to escape the dread of a dying world. She was going to soar to brand new horizons, to a place full of hope, a resource now tragically scarce on Earth.
When her grandfather passed away a few years ago, Jenifer knew that she had to go to space, to join the Galileans, to follow in the steps of Juno and beyond. Even her middle name was given to her as a tribute to the famous goddess that could see through the giant’s shroud. Undoubtedly, it was her destiny all along.
Jenifer’s Ashes © 2014 Frederic Beauchamp All Rights Reserved