"I can't believe we're arguing over this." Maddie said as she tried, for the fourth time, to strap on her vacuum suit. Paul snatched it, again, from her hand and started to put on his own suit.
""We are not discussing it at all, let alone arguing about it." He said.
"Why are you being a pain?" She asked.
"It's my mission in life to annoy you enough that you forget about the majesty of going to space AND making first contact with alien intelligence, both in the same lifetime." He said, grinning at her.
"You are doing that." She said.
"Excellent mission achieved, time for a new mission, maybe, going outside to meet our new light form friends." He said.
"You just said that you were scared they would eat you." She pointed out.
Paul paused long enough to pull his suit over his head.
"Please, I'm over that. What are the chances the aliens are racist? That'd be crazy. Although it would make a certain subsection of the population happy, the KK will be out shouting about how aliens being racist means it's the natural state of life. In which case I'm glad they ate me because life won't be worth living." He said.
"I'm the biologist, Paul." She said.
"Exactly, you are way too important in this scenario to risk. I am expendable, you aren't, you know how many physicists there are? You've got entire teams of them a phone call away at Houston, all of which are just dying to give you advice and backseat first contact you." He said.
Maddie stuck out her lower lip, it helped her think. She really wanted to go and meet the aliens.
Paul strapped on his gloves and secured the rest of his suit, he was only missing his helmet, the gold tinted visor hanging half closed. He picked it up and smiled at her again.
"When they ask you about this day, tell them that we came in peace and shot to kill." He said, doing a terrible imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Really? Those are your last words." She said.
"You try thinking of all the jokes then, I'm carrying the team over here." He said.
"Not 'Oh I'm blinded by the lights'?" She suggested. He paused just before placing his helmet on.
"You can use that one if they make the station melt or turn into an egg or something. Besides, not everyone likes the Weekend as much as you." He said.
"Blatant lies, wait, turn into an egg?" She asked.
"It's aliens, Mads, you don't know what could happen." He said. She shook her head, no longer trying to hide her smile. Even then she felt tears prick at her eyes.
"Be careful, Paul." She said. He gave her a thumbs up as the airlock hissed close.
"Not for a day in my life. Why do you think I work in space?" He said over the intercom. Maddie brushed the tears away, watching them float through the room. They'd be sucked into one of the recyclers and processed back into their water supply.
They were a closed system, just like Earth.
Meeting something from outside of that system, just like Earth.
She pushed off the wall and swam through the air to the controls. She bought up the external cameras and saw the being of light shifting motionlessly like a rippling pool of waves disturbed by a breeze. It came down from the rocks and moved without any visible form of propulsion. Paul was out there now, tethered to the airlock and holding up a hand in greeting.
"Jesus, even through the visor it's too bright to look straight at it. What can you see, Maddie?" He said.
"It's coming down to you Paul." She said.
"Solid copy, I'll keep holding my hand out like I'm waving down a space cab." He said.
The being stopped, hanging half a metre above the hull of their station and reduced dramatically in size. It had seemed to be a formless mass of light that moved in every direction. Now it was shrinking down, collapsing in on itself until it was the same size as Paul's suit. It was roughly the same shape, the unmistakable bulk of the helmet and the sausage sized fingers in the gloves. It raised its hand to mirror Paul and then remained in the position.
"Paul try waving." She said. He did, shaking his arm back and forth in ridiculously over emphasised movements.
It mimicked him immediately, waving back.
"Holy shit." Maddie said.
"What?, I've got my eyes closed you gotta clue me in Mads, I'm blinded by the lights." He said.
"Joke stealer. It's waving back." She said.
"I'll give you credit in my speech and you can be second billing on my paper entitled, "Ad Astatorium Humourism - A guide on Extra-terrestrial Humour." He said.
"Try doing something else, it's just copying you. " She said.
"Copy." Paul said, all humour leaving his voice. He shifted, giving it a double thumbs up. Looking for all the world like a giant Michelin man Fonzie.
"There's a joke in here somewhere about being a cool tyre." she said.
"Going with that and not Ghost Space Busters?" He asked.
"I'm trying my best over here, it's doing it back. Holy shit, Paul, it's doing it back!" she shouted.
"Would it be crazy to try for a fist bump?" He asked.
"Absolutely crazy. The craziest thing you've ever said and that's really saying a lot. Last week you told me that Interstellar was better than 2001 Space Odyssey." she said.
"That's because it is! It's a tighter narrative." Paul said.
Maddie rolled her eyes and for a moment he didn't say anything.
"I'm going in for a fist bump." He said.
"Jesus Christ Paul are you crazy that thing could be nuclear fusion bomb for all we know." She said.
"Worth it. That's one small step for man, one giant fist bump for all mankind." He said.
"Ugh." Maddie groaned as he reached out with his right hand. There was a momentary pause then the being reached out to meet him and they gently tapped blinding light energy to the Paul’s gloved suit.
"Radical." Paul said as he pulled back from the first intergalactic greeting. Maddie shook her head as she thought about Paul's sure-to-be famous first contact words 'We come in peace and we shoot to kill.'
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