Lying motionless, seemingly lifeless, in the cryogenic glass and metal chamber, you resemble a techno-mummy in display. Only the readouts and blinking panel lights reveal there is indeed a heartbeat, though its rate crawls at a tenth of its normal resting state. When you put your head down in the comfy cushion of the cryogenic chamber and took a deep, prolonged breath, you knew two months would pass before you would open your eyes again, at which time you would be approaching the lunar space station. “Then I’m headed for the mountains,” you told yourself, giving in to the overwhelming feeling of elation induced by the chambers’ gases. But fate had other plans for you.
As your probe enters the large nether region between Mars and Jupiter, coming within a few thousand miles from the asteroid belt, the navigation system eases the ship into a complete stop. A chain reaction of commands and subroutines restores breathable air in the cabin. Meanwhile, the chemicals in the chamber self-adjust to normalize your metabolism. As consciousness returns and the clouds of deep steep begin to dissipate, You see yourself headed for the mountains. But you’re still dreaming. Any premature feeling of euphoria is swiftly squelched as the seal of the cryo-chamber breaks open. The high-pitched shrill you hear is an unmistakable distress code signal.
Moving with the characteristic stiffness of one whose body has just been awakened from suspended animation, you move to the console to find the source of the transmission that caused the ship to stop. Much to your amazement, there are two incoming signals. One is from the scientific Martian outpost in Phobos. The other signal beckons from the smaller facilities on Io, the outermost moon of Jupiter. You immediately think of the Anomalies and wonder whether the United Aerospace Corporation’s experiments with inter-dimensional space travel are to blame for whatever’s happened.
Before embarking on your long scientific mission, you pleaded with UAC’s board to postpone human experiments until more studies could answer basic questions about the Anomalies. But the giant conglomerate could not wait. The Anomalies were the single most important scientific discovery of the century. Apparent ruptures in the fabric of time/space, the Anomalies opened the possibility of instant space travel. This was of great interest to UAC and not only for scientific reasons. Potential for profitable military, industrial, and commercial applications was immeasurable. UAC moved quickly to set up bases in Phobos and Deimos, the twin Martian moons, where the Anomalies were first discovered.
Many scientists, who, like you, had also voiced their opposition to UAC’s experiments, were quickly “relocated” to other projects. A good number of your colleagues wound up on Io and Callisto, Jupiter’s outer- most and innermost moons, respectively. After confirming the location of the transmissions, you only hesitate for an instant as you ponder what you should do. You know there is a large contingent of Marines on Mars. Surely they have already mobilized to help Phobos. Io and Callisto, on the other hand, only count with marginal military support. In the blink of an eye, your mind is made up. Though science is your main interest, you’ve been a Marine before. You know how to fight.
Your hunch about the Anomalies, as you will find out soon enough, is dead on. The gateways have become completely unstable. The human subjects who dared to jump through are emerging as blood-thirsty killers. But even more disturbing, a host of interdimensional creatures are also materializing in our universe. No one in Mars, Phobos, or Deimos could imagine that the interdimensional aliens were also materializing in Jupiter’s moons. But then again, no one could possibly know that Jupiter’s Red Spot was the largest gateway to Hell in the entire Solar system.
With a last click on the keyboard, the course for Io is set. You don’t know what evil awaits you, but you’re sure the mountains of Earth will have to wait just a little bit longer.
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