In light of the possible discovery of oil on Titan, I offer this short:
The lander shuddered in the turbulence of Titan’s atmosphere. The Mission Commander, a half-invented title the Company had given one John Wilkins, space redneck, cursed under his breath.
“Jesus, landing this thing is like trying to find Rosie O’Donnell’s junk in a snowstorm.
“Fucking pigs,” Sandra, the team’s botanist muttered under her breath, barely audible over the din of the lander’s reentry.
Carlos quickly understood the Commander’s gross metaphorical allusions more completely. The rockets fired and the lander bucked like a bronco in the ring. He tried not to think about the possibility that their damn-fool Mission Commander was going to get them all killed.
Instead he tried to drown out his fears, pondering the nature of the oil deposits on Titan. Earth had been running low on the sludge for decades, perhaps centuries. Nobody had figured out how to get the oil off Titan, supposing it actually existed, but “top minds” had been paid far more than his meager salary to solve that particular problem.
Carlos just had to confirm its viability, bring back samples, and make recommendations as to extraction methods.
Still, he was a roughneck, not a fucking astronaut, he thought to himself as the lander settled down.
“You can pick your balls back up out of your seat, Carlos.” The Commander seemed relieved, somehow. Carlos tried not to think about what that meant.
“You want the honors, amigo?” The Commander snapped on his helmet and pointed to the airlock. “Just think, Border Patrol’ll never find you here.”
“Fuck you, John. I’m legal, bitch. Even got a real trailer in the park, just like all you gringos. Bud light, John Cooper Mellencamp and everything.”
They laughed, and Sandra just crossed her arms in annoyance. The diversity quotas needed filling, and she wanted to be the first woman beyond Jupiter. Nobody expected to find plants on Titan. The Company just figured they were lucky to find one Carlos Rivera on their Gulf rigs. So only one extra body was needed.
Being the first man to step foot on the moon was an honor. Being the first Hispanic roughneck on Titan meant something less than nothing to the folks back home, still debating on whether or not dragonkind counted as otherkin for the purposes of the Animal Soul Equality Bill mucking around Congress.
Carlos silently opened the airlock and trudged down in Titan’s lower gravity. For a moon out on the ass end of the Solar System, it sure looked vaguely Earth-like. He knew that was a lie, of course. The freezing temperatures would kill him faster than he could suffocate if he took his helmet off. And the “land” was really just a bunch of ice floating over a liquid surface.
But still, it was better than sitting in the lander all day with Sandra.
Unsure of where to start, he just decided to walk a little ways away from the lander and get the lay of the land. Control said this was a good place to start the hunt for oil, and Control generally knew what it was talking about.
“Carlos,” John echoed in his ear piece, “I’m picking up motion ahead, coming right toward your position, 12 o’clock.”
Carlos felt a shiver travel down his spine. Motion? On Titan? The last probe had failed a decade before. It couldn’t be one of them. He squinted, and barely made out what look like three human figures trudging toward the lander.
It was clearly apparent that they wore no helmets or suits. Which meant that…
“…fucking aliens.” He muttered.
“Come again? Didn’t receive your last.”
“I said fucking ALIENS. They aren’t wearing suits!” He was a roughneck, not a linguist, or a biologist. In fact, the whole crew was completely unqualified for this. A pilot with a bad sense of humor, a useless botanist from Berkeley and a Hispanic roughneck. What a First Contact crew that was.
John’s reply didn’t even make sense, and sounded even more consternated than he felt.
The first alien was upon him, looking nothing if not human. There were differences, of course. The skin was a strange shade of blue that almost glowed in the low light conditions on Titan. But aside from that, he could have almost been a man.
“Uh… hola senor?” Carlos reverted to his natural Spanish. “Como estas?”
The alien regarded him a moment before greeting him in turn.
“Allahu Ackbar.” The Alien shouted, then looked back down on him. “Mohammadun Rasulu Allah!” He lifted what looked suspiciously like a weapon. “We learn your religion, human-kaffir. Language. Allahu Ackbar!”
“Fuck.” It was the only thing Carlos could think of. Of course it figured. Even on the moon of Saturn, the nearest oil supply to an oil-starved Earth, there were Space Muslims. “Guess that’s the end of my astronaut career.”