voyage to Europa took only two hours. Impressively short, especially for
As soon as HMS Death Reaper had entered a low orbit around the icy moon
Captain Codd gave what seemed to be a suicidal order to the ship’s
pilot. “Set full descent speed. Dive!”
The giant submarine angled down and headed down towards the surface.
Pan was concerned about his emergency batch of doughnuts. If the ship
crashed, the doughnut’s may not survive the impact. “Erm...
Justin? I may have missed something here, but I think we’re going
to hit the ice with quite a bit of force. Isn’t that a little bit
mad? Think of all the vital equipment that could be damaged.” He
pointed at the doughnut maker on the side of his seat.
Justin smiled, his toothless blood-clotted gums exposed for all to see.
“There’s nothing to worry about. The S.C.D.T.G.U.T.T.I.W.I.E.
will create a temperature on the nose of this vessel almost equal to that
of the centre of the sun. When we hit Europa, the ice immediately around
this vessel will melt within a millisecond. We will slip effortless into
the moon like a lubricated…”
Ross interrupted Justin and made his useless contribution to the conversation.
“Fuck it! Let’s go faster!”
Peter was curious. “What is the S.C.D.T.G.U.T.T.I.W.I.E?”
Justin explained. “That’s the Supremely Cool Device That’ll
Get Us Through Extremely Thick Ice With Incredible Ease.”
Peter nodded. “Wow, what an amazing abbreviation!”
Peter, Ross, Pan and Justin watched the main screen as it displayed the
ever growing surface of Europa. Impact was just seconds away.
The Supreme Layzee Sponjer, formally know as Lawrence, was lurching about
at the back of the bridge. He had escaped the bonds of his chair once
again. “Ya fuckers is mad! Ya’ll doomed, ya bastads!”
The ranting of the Supreme Layzee Sponjer was ignored.
Everyone instinctively blinked as the ship hit the surface of the ice
moon. But there was not even a jolt. HMS Death Reaper slipped smoothly
and effortlessly into the moon’s icy surface.
Captain Codd spoke. “Pilot? Update, please.”
“We’ve penetrated six miles already, captain. We should break
through into the ocean in a few seconds.”
“Excellent. Once were through, begin a sonar search for the…”
A deafening clang echoed round the bridge. Everyone fell to the floor.
Several power conduits on the ceiling ruptured, sending white hot sparks
in all directions. Incredible gravitational forces pulled at everyone’s
bodies, only the ship’s anti-inertia system prevented catastrophic
Ross was not happy. “What the fuck’s happening?!”
The pilot spoke through a mouthful of blood. “My console shows we
hit the Lentil Seed, but we’ve been shot back out into space. I
don’t understand how!”
Justin examined his console’s screens. “Damn, you’re
right. We’re heading back into orbit!”
“How could that be?” Peter asked, confused.
Justin was not a happy chap. “Their research into repelling technology
is much more advanced than we’d thought.” He turned and explained.
“Basically, if a vessel tries to ram one of their ships it creates
a reflective shield which has an atomic polarity field opposite to that
of the ship or object that hit. Simply put, the colliding object is pushed
away with the same force with which it hit.” He turned and looked
back at the main screen. “It was most unfortunate that we hit that
ship down there. What are the odds, eh?”
Pan was looking at the screen. “Another idea is brewing in my mind.”
Everyone waited in anticipation. Pan’s ideas were legendary.
After a second or two of silence, Pan spoke. “Justin? Is the tunnel
we melted though the ice still there?”
Captain Codd checked his screen. “It is.”
Pan was excited. “Awesome! We can board down to that bastard hippy
vessel, break inside it, and take control!”
Ross had a question. “But won’t the fuckers just repel us?”
“No.” Justin answered. “Their repelling device is only
activated on large metal objects, not small carbon based life forms such
“Less of the small!” Ross shouted. He flexed his biceps with
Peter was grinning like the Joker. “Pan’s idea is fantastic!
We haven’t been snowboarding for months. Let’s do it!”
Justin nodded. “I agree. I can’t think of anything better.”
Ross was in the process of flexing the rest of his muscles. “It’s
a fuckin’ great idea!” He positioned his body in a full-muscle
pose, held the pose for two seconds, and then punched the air with both
fists. “Fuckin’ great, I tell you!”
Everyone shouted in unison. “Yes!”
“There’s no time to lose.” Justin said with more than
a touch of melodrama. “Let’s get down to the air lock and
get kitted up. Follow me.”
The ship spoke. “WARNING: VESSEL APPROACHING.”
The main screen at the front of the bridge switched to a display of the
Justin recognized the smooth dark lines of the vessel. “That’s
HMS Arse Kicker! I had no idea another Royal Navy sub was in the area.”
The communications console crackled to life. “HMS Death Reaper?
This is HMS Arse Kicker. General Kath speaking. Please respond.”
Everyone cheered. It was Kath!
Justin replied. “HMS Arse Kicker? This is HMS Death Reaper, Captain
Codd speaking. Great to hear from you, Kath!”
“The Navy contacted me. They thought you might like some assistance
from an old friend.”
Ross shouted, offended at the suggestion he needed any help. “We
can handle anything ourselves, and you fuckin’ know it!”
Peter, Pan, and Justin glared at Ross.
Ross nodded and modified his attitude. “But you’re welcome
to join us, Kath. We’re about to create carnage on a grand fuckin’
Kath spoke. “Sounds great! We’re pulling alongside now.”
Justin said. “We’ll be down in airlock four on deck twelve.
Once you’re docked, come and find us there.”
“Will do. HMS Arse Kicker out.”
“Right,” Justin said. “As I mentioned before, we really
do have no time to lose. Let’s go!”
There was a cackling noise from the back of the bridge. Lawrence was waving
his arms around and laughing like a twisted old lady.
“We’d better tie him up again before we leave.” Justin
Airlock four was large, at least by airlock standards. And it was brimming
with lockers, cupboards, cubby holes, and racks filled with specialist
and advanced military and sports hardware.
Peter, Pan, Ross and Justin where kitting themselves out for their latest
mission objective – a snowboarding ride down to the Lentil Seed,
deep below the ice of Europa. All of them had already put on their state-of-the-art
Pan, as usual, grabbed as much equipment as he could - many a game of
paint ball had taught him the value of loading up with as much ammunition
as possible. Justin was more conservative and chose nothing more than
an ultra-strength plastic assault rifle and a few spare clips. Peter grabbed
a handsomely designed shoulder-mounted missile launcher. Ross grabbed
a large and well-made baseball bat. Ross and a baseball bat were a lethal
and bone-crunching combination.
There was a loud whoosh as the side entrance to the airlock opened. Pan,
Peter, Justin and Ross looked round. They gasped. General Kath stood in
the entrance, her long wavy blonde hair billowing wildly for a moment
as the air pressures equalized. She was holding a massive gun in her right
hand. With her free hand she brushed it slowly through her hair, shaking
her head slowly as she did so. The soft orange light behind her added
to the effect.
Peter was impressed. “Wow!”
Ross and Justin were speechless.
“Hmm… Incredible!” Pan said, taking a large bite out
of a bacon sandwich that he had just pulled out of the airlock’s
Kath grinned. “Hello, chaps!”
Pan looked up from his sandwich. “Who’s that behind Kath?
It looks like Schwimmer!”
Cowering behind General Kath was indeed the diminutive Private Schwimmer.
He stepped out into the open. “Erm… Hello.”
Schwimmer was immediately ignored by everyone.
Although Kath outranked Justin, this was his ship and his mission. He
was still the commanding officer. He decided to assert his authority and
began issuing orders. “Right, everyone. It would be nice to stand
and chat but we have work to do. Lock yourselves into your suits.”
Everyone did as ordered.
Justin put on his own helmet and lowered the visor. There was a short
hiss as his suit pressurized, then only the intermittent whirr of the
air pumps. He was now sealed off from the rest of the universe in a self-contained
environment complete with a drink and snack dispenser, toilet, music system,
and a high-definition heads-up display capable of showing TV, movies,
and stunningly realistic video games.
His suit was still in its ‘boot-up’ phase, so Justin called
up the TV guide. It appeared like an apparition before his eyes. He smiled.
Ten new episodes of The Simpsons had recently been downloaded. Excellent!
The suit finished its ‘boot-up’ with a burst of the Itchy
and Scratchy theme. Justin turned and looked at his friends. Peter, Pan,
Ross and Kath were all suited up and ready for action. A sense of pride
washed over him.
On the floor of the airlock, Schwimmer was writhing around. Somehow, he’d
managed to get both his legs jammed into the left arm of his spacesuit.
Justin resisted the urge to vaporize the private. “Private Schwimmer!”
the captain of the Death Reaper shouted over the suit’s com system.
“Get out of that suit! Your incompetence will be of no use to us
down on Europa. Go up to the bridge and wait.”
Schwimmer managed to pull himself out of the suit. He stood and looked
around at the suited figures in the airlock in awe. He nodded to Justin
and scurried out of the airlock in a classic Mister Bean-style manner.
“And don’t touch anything!” Justin shouted after him.
Ross’s voice screamed over the com system. “What the fuck
are we waiting for? Let’s fuck with the enemy!”
Justin operated a control on the wall of the airlock. A panel slid sideways
revealing a cabinet filled with snowboards and skis. “Take your
Ross, Peter, and Pan chose the slimmest, meanest, and fastest boards they
could find. Kath – an accomplished SAS skier – chose a pair
of highly-polished paisley-patterned skis. Justin, who could neither board
nor ski, chose a plastic dustbin lid from the back of the cabinet.
“What are you gonna do with that?” Pan asked as he fastened
“Sit on it.” Justin replied. “Bin lids are quite fast
on ice.” He pulled a large yellow lever on the wall. There was a
high-pitched hissing sound. Within seconds the airlock was silent.
The Death Reaper made an announcement over everyone’s com system.
“DEPRESSURIZATION OF AIRLOCK COMPLETE. OUTER DOOR OPENING…”
Quickly and silently, one side of the airlock descended into the floor.
A brilliant white light filled the room. Within milliseconds, everyone’s
visors darkened to compensate. The glare of the sun on Europa’s
frozen surface was blinding.
Peter shuffled himself and his board to the edge of the airlock and looked
down at the jagged surface of the ice moon as it scrolled by. “We’ll
need to reduce our velocity if we’re to break orbit, otherwise we’re
just going to drift along with the ship.”
“That’s what these are for!” Justin said. Immediately,
a small rocked appeared from out of his backpack.
“Cool” Pan said, as rockets appeared on the back of everyone
“These are preprogrammed.” Justin said. “They’ll
fire at the correct moment to ensure that we reach the surface at the
entrance to the tunnel the Death Reaper melted earlier.”
Ross could not wait any longer. “Enough talk! Let’s fuck to
The foul-mouthed hero leapt out of the airlock and drifted quickly away.
The others followed.
After a few minutes Ross, Peter, Pan, Justin and Kath had drifted several
hundred metres from the ship. What a sight! HMS Death Reaper was silhouetted
ominously against the bright ice of Europa, and behind Europa the gargantuan
orange disk of Jupiter almost filled the field of vision.
Justin examined his heads-up display. “Ten seconds to firing.”
Pan prepared himself in the only way he knew how. From the snack menu
he selected ‘Double Chocolate Doughnut’ and set the quantity
value to ‘Max’. Several doughy snacks were pumped into his
mouth. He chewed like a maniac.
“Three seconds.” Justin announced. “Brace yourselves!”
Three seconds later the rockets fired.
“Fuck! Yes!” Ross yelled, as a nine gee deceleration crushed
his very soul.
With their orbital velocity already significantly reduced, the five heroes
fell rapidly towards the surface of the icy moon.
The rockets ceased firing. A feeling of weightlessness returned.
“Our altitude is three miles.” Justin said. “We’ll
reach the surface in less than one minute.”
Peter looked thoughtfully at the approaching surface. Deep and jagged
crevasses could clearly be seen in all directions. “This place would
make an awesome winter resort!”
Pan agreed. “All we need to do is build some lifts and steak restaurants
and we’re sorted!”
“Impact in ten seconds.” Justin said. “Assume your positions!”
The entrance to the tunnel could now be seen dead ahead. Peter, Ross,
and Pan crouched low into their boards. Kath bent her knees slightly and
brought her skis together. Justin held his dustbin lid onto his backside.
They entered the mouth of the tunnel.
Peter and Pan were the first to hit the surface, slamming into the ice
at almost two-hundred miles per hour. Without even a second of imbalance,
they began to arc across the smooth surface.
Kath hit next. She landed with the grace of a pelican and sped down the
tunnel in a series of perfect curves.
Ross’s turn. With fearless skill he began to carve his board across
the ice, sweeping up and down the tunnel walls. In what seemed like no
time, he’d overtaken Peter and Pan. They both cheered as Ross sped
by, impressed by their friend’s incredible boarding prowess.
And finally, Justin. He slammed into the surface butt-first and, without
any control whatsoever, began to skim wildly into the tunnel.
After a few seconds of travel, the tunnel became very dark. Automatically,
a floodlight on each spacesuit switched on producing an eerie look to
the tunnel walls.
Justin’s description of his dustbin lid as ‘quite fast’
turned out to be an understatement. Spinning like a fairground Waltzer,
he bounced past Kath and Peter and Pan. After a few more seconds he caught
up with Ross.
Ross watched as the out of control Justin raced by. The though of being
beaten by a man on a plastic dustbin lid filled Ross with anger. With
perfect determination, the foul-mouthed hero crouched even lower on his
board and accelerated after Captain Codd. The sensor information on his
heads-up display indicated that the end of the tunnel, and the vast sub-surface
ocean, was only two miles away.