Endpoint Europa

Pierre slid through the slush, skimming the edge of the transition from milky ice to water. The cold made his bones ache despite his genetically altered thick layers of blubber. His parents would be furious when he came home after curfew, but he couldn't resist being here at this moment; when the Dark Side faced away from the Sun and interstellar light struck Europa, the stars shining blurrily through the ice. Pierre could see stars better on a viewscreen at home, but it just wasn't the same. When humans engineered Homo Delphinidae to live on Europa they gave them excellent low light vision and if he squinted Pierre could just barely see the pinpricks of light diffused through the icy shell. See the stars with his own eyes, nothing but the ice between him and the realms he longed to explore.

He'd tried to explain this to his parents, but it only enraged them. The Delfins were the forefront of space exploration once, humanity's audacious step forward. The Delfin colony was created in test tubes and Europa was colonized, Delfins swimming the water that lay deep under the ice. From Talos City they mined the riches of Jupiter orbit, running telepresence waldos that were practical with communications lags of seconds instead of hours. But Delfins could never visit space as they needed kilos of water to breathe and live. For generations Talos was the forefront of space exploration but now humanity spread beyond Jupiter, led by graceful long-limbed ZeeGees who lived their whole life in spaceships and habitats. Pierre sighed before turning towards home. He'd endure the yelling before falling to sleep where he'd fitfully dream of exploring the stars, of traveling farther than any other human be they Normal, Delfin, or ZeeGee.

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