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Rise of Mars


 
written by Chris Schubert on December 13, 2002 | forum profile
number of views: 76718 |   printable version (text) (PDF)



Prologue:
Somewhere off the Pacific Coast
Year: 2008

Willard Ames sank respectfully into his grandfather’s old chair. Sitting by the fire Ames stirred his whisky with the rotation of his hand. It had been half a year since the tragedy, and still no one had recovered.

In 2005 NASA sent an Earth Return Vehicle to Mars in the first step of the Mars Direct Plan formed by Robert Zubrin. All seemed to go well for the next two years; the ERV made its fuel and sat waiting for the astronauts to come. So this year they sent the Hab to Mars, carrying four astronauts: 2 aeronautical engineers and 2 biologists. The flight was flawless. Until the small “tuna can” craft attempted to enter Mars’ atmosphere.

The aeroshell attached to the front of the craft used for a heat shield and an aerobrake cracked off because of the pressure. The Hab has thrown into a violent spin and was exposed to the full force and heat of Mars\' thin but still deadly atmosphere. It was thought that most of it burned up in the atmosphere.

Ames took a drink from his glass. But they decided to be optimists and sent a small probe to Mars hastily built and named Savior 1. This probe made use of the new ion engine technology. It could get to Mars in 4 months. At the same time they ordered the ERV that followed the hab, which had with enough food and supplies until it finished making its fuel, just in case there were any survivors, to descend to the Martian surface at the approximate area of the crash site.

So the unmanned probe rushed to the Red Planet, hoping to find some evidence of crew survival. But it would seem that Mars had yet another surprise. Just before the ERV was about to make its way to the surface and 1 month before Savior 1 reached Mars a Dust Storm arose on the surface, within the month it had enveloped the whole planet. The probe followed its plans and went into orbit around the planet. The ERV continued on into the storm, there was no way of telling whether there was a safe landing or not, the chances were however, that it wasn’t. So for three months the little probe orbited the planet, there was no way of seeing the surface so all it could do was wait. With each passing the day the chances of finding the crew alive grew thinner and thinner.

Finally the storm cleared. The dust settled, and Savior 1 got its first unobstructed look. What it saw was plainly nothing. There was no crash site, no ERV, either of them, the 2005 and the new one were both gone. No rubble our debris of the destroyed Hab. No evidence of humans ever being on Mars.

This sight hit home the hardest. Many compared it to an allergic reaction. Humans came to Mars and it had an allergic reaction and the Dust Storm was its medicine. But they did not think about this metaphor before they said it, thought Ames. Because no matter how much allergy medicine you take, they always come back.

No current government would ever look into a Mars mission now. They had all been scared by the tragedy. So now thought Ames, it was someone else’s turn. It was time to give someone new a shot. Many were afraid of the idea, but Ames saw it as nothing more, then a challenge.






Chapter One: Beginning Again
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Year: 2019

Chris Hawk suddenly snapped awake in a cold sweat. He looked around his room, the only light coming from the moon outside. The soft light coming in through the window only shed light into two corners of his small apartment. The other two were dark, some how he kept that childish fear of the dark. It scared him to not know what was there. He flicked on his lamp next to his bed. The dark was no more. His eyes stung at the sudden appearance of light. He glanced to the side and looked at the small black alarm clock. It read 4:24 AM. He had to be at work in an hour.

Chris had been working for MIT for some time now, teaching a Bioengineering class. He had to be at the main building, every morning to teach an early class. Then it’s a full day’s work of being a mindless drone in front a hundred kids every hour.

He decided to get up and dress now. He grabbed his thin frame glasses from the nightstand and made his way to the bathroom. Inside he turned on the light, more stinging. Once his eyes adjusted he took a look in the mirror, there man that looked back at him looked about 32 years old with short blonde hair and a brown mustache and goatee. The mans eyes were brown and looked tired, despite just waking up, either that or they were bored, one of the two. Chris took a quick shower and dressed. By that time it was 5:00. He sat down in his living room and turned on the TV. It was the news.

The newscaster began her report. “Relations between the United States and India yesterday soured at the United Nations Conference. Indian Ambassador Amal Zaxx left the room, saying he was disgusted with the ‘United States Terrorism Control Policies and accusations.’ These policies include Military Police posted in every terrorist country for security purposes.”

“Children.” Chris snorted. Despite Iraq’s defeat in 2005, the United States can not stop thinking they are the world’s baby sitters. They continue to get involved where they don’t belong. And there was no reason that they should be posting police in other countries. Let there own government figure it out. They suck our money in taxes at least they could put it somewhere were it will do some good.

After the news he left his apartment. Chris walked down the stone stairs of the lobby and crossed over to the front door, giving a slight acknowledgment to the clerk at the counter. He walked up to the large glass door and put his card key into the slot. He had to do this when he wanted to get in or out. The computer keeps a log of who goes in and who comes out. “Security purposes, Ha” Chris thought to himself as he waited for the computer to access his card.

“Good-bye, (pause) Chris Hawk.” The computer droned. His name had sounded especially robotic.

Chris walked briskly towards the building he was scheduled to “teach” in. The fresh morning air helped him clear his head and get out of his grumpy morning attitude. He looked around the MIT campus; it was a lovely place. There were trees and bushes and fountains, and birds. He heard what sounded like thousands of chirps coming from the trees. The birds were “trying to wake up the sun” as his mother had told him as a child. It was amazing, life was really amazing, its really just a series of chemical and physical reactions, but yet it was more then that, emotional reactions. Even though feelings and emotions like love and happiness, are still chemical reactions in our brain, they are something above the normal laws of science. The birds continued to chirp as the sun peeked over the horizon.

“So you see, if we-.” Chris said pointing at the image of a plant nucleus and DNA and RNA on the projector in the middle of his lecture with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
“Excuse me, Mr. Hawk?” a student called from the top row of the auditorium, where the lectures could get especially boring.
“Yes?” He stopped. The boy looked like any normal student, jeans, then new “hip” “space vest” and had his long black hair drawn to a ponytail in the back.
“What do you think about the current controversy of the whole, Mars colonizing and terraforming proposal?” he yelled.
“Well, I-. I haven’t given it a lot thought…” Chris said taken aback by the sudden participation of his pupil. Chris had engaged in a conversation a long time before with a colleague on the same topic. He had done some preliminary research but never really devoted a lot of time to the subject. But with everything going on in the world today it made a completely different argument. “I do know this. I think that...that the United States right now is to involved with world politics to even think about a space program. We might have to rely on some kind of private….”
“Time to go.” A student’s voice from somewhere in the middle section called, obviously annoyed with the current conversation.
“Wait!” Chris called suddenly interested with this new topic, “If anyone would like to discuss this topic with me after class if you have anytime, feel free.”

About ten people stayed. They all moved down into the front row.

“Okay how much time do we have?”
“About ten minutes.” Said the student who had had the initial question, looking up from his watch.
“Well. As I was saying. I think we will have to have a private group initialize the mission to Mars. On the subject of terraforming, we will have to have Bioengineers,” he said making a gesture with his hands toward the students “there to work on combining some plant genes to make a moss, umm, lichen that can survive in the harsh Martian climate. Gears in Chris’s mind started to click. He stepped off the stage and crossed the large room to his desk, still talking to the small group in a steadily louder voice the farther he got away from them. Chris started scribbling notes furiously on a piece of paper.
“Of course there would be other methods, such as-.” He continued.
“Professor?”
“Yes?” Chris stopped abruptly.
“It’s time for us to go.”
“Yes, of course. Dismissed.”

The students left in a hurry trying to make it to their next class. Chris sat back in his chair and sighed. All these new thoughts were churning in his head now, new ideas. He needed to write them down, he needed to do research, he needed to…his stomach growled with hunger, get dinner.

When Chris got home he took a TV dinner from the fridgerator and put it in the microwave. After this meal he headed quickly over to his computer. He pulled up the MIT website and searched ‘Mars terraforming’, He only found one site that had both the words mars and terraforming in it, of course there were 2 thousand search results for just mars, but after quickly skimming these he discovered they were not what he wanted. The site he did find didn’t help him much, but it did give him some new ideas on terraforming and the general plan of action that would be taken to terraform Mars. He concluded that a pessimist made the website. Everything to them wasn’t technologically feasible, or would take “100 000 years.” He leaned back in his chair and sighed. Then another thought popped in his head and he quickly went back to his computer and began to search again.

Chris looked at his watch as he ran down the sidewalk. He was going to be late. He was headed to a meeting that he had found out about after another half-hour of Internet researching. The subject was terraforming alien planets. By alien they mean foreign. He walked up the steps of the Earth, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences building and stuck his card key in the slot.
“Come on, come on!”
“Welcome, (pause) Chris Hawk.” Chris rolled his eyes.

He quickly pulled the door open and walked down the hall looking at the room numbers as he went. Finally he came to Room 307. He opened the door and stepped in as a tall boy, maybe 6-foot, finished a sentence.

“But its not technologically feasible!”

All the heads turned at once, as soon as they heard the heavy door clang shut. There were about seven of them, he recognized some faces from the small group that he had had during his afternoon class. Chris took of his coat and set it on the back of a chair that he pulled out and sat in.

“Professor Hawk! What are you doing here?” asked a woman.
“Well, a student sparked my interest in this topic today, so I did a little research and I end up here.” He answered.
“Welcome, we were just discussing the feasibility of placing mirrors in orbit around Mars meant to melt-.”
“The Ice caps.” He said cutting her off “Well it would depend on whether it’s the Northern or Southern. Because the Northern is Water-ice and the Southern is-.”
“Frozen CO2. We know. We’ve been meeting like this for about 5 months now.”
“Touché.” He said, realizing that he had just made a fool of himself “I don’t believe I caught your name.”
“Rachel, Rachel Gibbons. Geologist.” She said with a smile.
“Chris Hawk, Bioengineer. Well I-Wait a minute! Rachel Gibbons? The Rachel Gibbons? I read your article on past surface water on Mars it was fascinating!”
“Thank you, and may I ask how long ago you read my article?”
“…About 15 minutes, in fact that’s why I’m late, I was finishing it up.”

Rachel cocked her head back and laughed sweetly. She looked older then most students, She had long brown hair, and dimples when she laughed. Chris guessed she was around 30. Maybe she was in another career then decided to go back to school.

“Chris, Rachel, Rachel, Chris, now that were aquatinted could we stop staring and get back on topic.” Said the tall boy.

Chris looked away immediately and started to focus on the topic, he hadn’t noticed he was staring. They started to talk about the possible effects of releasing large amounts of green house gasses to thicken the atmosphere.
“It would have to be mostly Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Argon.” Chris said looking at the list of gasses currently in Mars’ atmosphere.
“Why not Carbon Dioxide?”
“Its not breathable by humans.”
“But that’s not the point. The point is to get the planet warm just warm enough so that plants can survive. Then have the plants turn the CO2 into Oxygen.” Said a girl who he did not recognize from any of his classes.
“That would take 100,000 years!”

The rest of the meeting they started to talk about plants and how we could Biologically engineer them to be able to survive in the Martian climate. This is were Chris excelled at. He knew everything on this topic, and the rest of the group was impressed. But why should they be, he was a Bioengineer. The meeting got over around 10:00 p.m. Chris started to walk home when Rachel stopped him.

“Mr. Hawk, I was very impressed by your knowledge of this topic.” She said.
“Well, thank you Miss Gibbons, that’s very kind.” He answered
“I guess, I’ll see you at the next meeting.” She said as she backed away.
“Yeah, definitely.” he said
“Bye”

She turned and left in a light jog. Chris shrugged his shoulders and turned to continue on his way to his apartment.

One week later Chris was still meeting with the group telling them all what he had found that week on the Internet. Chris started attending classes in Microbiology and Earth, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences. He continued learn and try to find more information on Mars.

Chris spent his nights looking over endless sites on the colonization of Mars. He found the number of them had tripled in the past 10-15 years because of the launching of different space probes to Mars. The MER of 2003 and Beagle 2 had renewed interest in everyone’s interest in Mars including the governments, but as they all new that didn’t last long. After a long time he came across a site called Redcolony.com. The site hadn’t been updated for years but all the old conversations in the forums and the articles interested him greatly, he spent hours, until 1 in the morning reading them. The articles were especially informative because they were easier to read then the messages in the forums.

Chris became interested in writing his own article. There were already articles about Bioengineering, but high school students wrote them. They had the correct information but Chris had the ability to elaborate. So he spent the next week’s nights writing his elaborate paper on Bioengineering and its role on the colonization of Mars. Finally it was finished. But how would he get it on the Internet? Redcolony.com hadn’t been updated in years. So on again went his search. Looking for an active site where he could post his article. Finally his search was fruitful once again. Marsfirst.com.

It was just like Red Colony. Forums, articles, information. He got in contact with the site master. A high school student from Boulder, Colorado. Chris asked him to post his article and he agreed without hesitation. After two days his article debuted on the site. He was very proud of it and read it over twice the first time it was on the site. It was over 10 pages typed; a lot to read on the Internet but it was okay.
At the next terraforming meting, which was a week after that, he booted up the old computer in the corner of the room and had the ten other people gather around him as they waited for the ancient Pentium 5 to access the Internet. After a couple minutes he got on the site. He opened up his article and let them all read it. He got out of the chair and went to get some water. After about 20 minutes, or about a quarter of the meeting, Rachel finished the article and turned away from the screen. She smiled and congratulated him. He thanked her.

The rest of the meeting they discussed his article.

“Its very well written.” said Rachel
“Yeah but why didn’t you include anything about insects?” asked a short red haired boy
“I mainly wanted to focus on plants and bacteria.” He answered
“You should follow up with one on insects!”
“Maybe.”

After the meeting he went home and looked at his article one more time and read the reviews on it. Most of them were positive but there were others that asked him why he included this, and what about that and the like. He became very drowsy and suddenly worn out. Like all the work he did in the past week finally caught up with him.

For his classes the next day he put his article up on the large projector. There were many complaints but he just shrugged and had them read it. After that he went back to his desk and worked on grades. Most of his students were passing. He had faith in them even if he didn’t know all of their first names.

During his last class a message popped up on his computer. It was informing him that he had an e-mail waiting for him. Bothered by the pop up message he rolled his eyes and closed it; and went back to his grading.

When he got home that night he remembered the e-mail. He had recently added a spam blocker to his e-mail so it wasn’t e-junk mail. He quickly accessed his email address; there was a message from Rachel saying how great his article was. Chris continued to scroll down. Under that was a message labeled “Article-Mars Mission”. Chris opened it and read it:
Dear Mr. Chris Hawk,
I have recently read your article on Bioengineering and I am quite impressed. I have written this message to you to let you know that Ames Tech Industries is planing a Colonization Mission to Mars. I was wondering if this interested you. This mission has not been released to the public yet, but will be in the following week. I wanted to let you know in advance so to make sure you knew about it. I have included an attachment with the basic purpose and outline of the mission. I hope that you will take this offer into consideration. Please contact me on my private line at (345)-555-4563. Thank you.

Craig Rasmussen
Ames Tech Executive

This was it. Chris immediately printed off the e-mail. He ran as fast as he could across campus to the Earth, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences Building to find Rachel. He had her paged to the front desk.

“What is it?” she asked once she saw him
“Look at this!” he said as he shoved the piece of paper into her hands.
She rolled her eyes and took a look at the paper, but then those eyes went wide as she looked at the message. They were brown; he had never noticed that before.
“Can we use your phone?” she said to the secretary
“What!?! Now? You want to call him now?” Chris exclaimed.
“Yes! Why wait?”
“I don’t know it just seems sudden, don’t you think we should think about it?”
“You’re the one who ran over here, and called me out of a test to show me this!” she said shaking the piece of paper in his face.
“I-. Fine. Can we use your phone?” he said looking at the clerk who had been eaves dropping on our conversation.
“Uhh…Yes!”
“Thank you.” Rachel said to her.
They moved behind the desk and he picked up the phone and dialed the number. The phone range six times but no one picked up. Finally the answering machine switched on.
“Hello, this is Craig Rasmussen,” a deep voice said. Chris almost said hello to the answering machine but he caught himself. “Leave me a message and I will call you back.” Beeeep
“Hello, Craig. This is Chris Hawk. I am responding to the e-mail that you sent me. Well, I want to take you up on the offer and get some more information. I also have a friend who is interested as well. If you could give me a call at (617)-555-3987, thanks.” He hung up the phone. He sighed with relief. Rachel smiled and walked back to her class.
“Well, that’s that.”

Chris and Rachel announce the news at the next meeting. The kids were very excited for them. And they started to contemplate what Craig would tell them, and if they would have tryouts. After the meeting Rachel and Chris continued the conversation until 10:30.

“Wow, it’s late!” Chris said yawning and looking at his watch
“Yea we’d better get going.” She said as she picked up her coat and left.
Chris yawned again and got up to leave. He picked up his papers and went out the door.

After the ten-minute walk he stuck his card key in the front door slot.

“Welcome, (pause) Chris Hawk.”

Up in his apartment he took off his shoes and went to bed, thinking about Mars. He might actually be going there. To live out what he had only thought about. He now had a chance to get there and make a difference.
Chris woke up the next day and ate breakfast at a coffee shop on campus. It was Saturday and there were no classes. Kids were free to go and do whatever they wanted…provided its legal. He went back to his apartment to go to back to sleep because he was still tired when his phone range. Chris suddenly had a feeling of tension. He slowly walked over to the phone and picked it up.
“Hello?”
“Yes, Mr. Hawk.” Said a familiar deep voice.
“Mr. Rasmussen?”
“Yes, Mr. Hawk. I understand you called me.”
“Yeah, I did. My friend and I want to take you up on this offer of yours.
“Excellent. You will have to go to the interview this Thursday in New York. Did you see the press conference today?”
“No I didn’t.”
“We officially announced the Mission. We are expecting many other applicants.”
“Well thats great.”
“Yes it is. Be at the Ames Tech Industries New York Office this Thursday by 12:00.”
“All right.” He answered lightly
“Good-bye, Mr. Hawk.” Craig hung up.
“Bye.”

Chris put the phone back down on the receiver. He had to tell Rachel. He quickly picked the phone back up and called her.

“Hello?” she answered.
“Rachel!”
“Chris?”
“Yes, listen we have to go to the Ames Tech Industries New York Office this Thursday by 12:00!” Chris repeated what Mr. Rasmussen had told him.
“This Thursday?” she asked
“Yes, this Thursday!”
“All right. I have to go Chris. Talk to you later.”
“Bye!”

She hung up. He looked around his apartment. He was worried. What if the interview didn’t go well?
“Then,” he said out loud “I will just go back to this life.”

The week seemed to go by fast and on Thursday he awoke to his phone ringing. His eyes shot open wide as the loud sound came from his nightstand. He flicked on a light and picked up the phone, he had to close his eyes from the pain.

“Hello?” he said groggily.
“Hey, time to get up.”
“Mom!”
“I’m not your mother now get up we have to leave at 9:00.”
“Rachel? Rachel it’s….” he checked his watch that was still on his wrist. “5:30!”
“So….you still got to pack!”
“Pack? For what?”
“Didn’t you listen to yourself. Its in New York.”
“So, why wouldn’t we go home and let them call us?”
“Because that’s more traveling and I always wanted to see New York!”
“Are you joking me?…Fine, I’ll get up!”
“That’s good.”
“I hope you’re happy. I’m sleeping in the car!” Chris hung up.

At nine o’clock Rachel buzzed his room.
“I’ll be down in a minute he said into the microphone.”
He ran down the stairs and stuck his card key in the slot.
“Good-bye, (pause) Chris Hawk.
“You too.”
They loaded his stuff into the small hydrogen car and took off towards New York City. They agreed that Rachel will drive the way there and Chris would drive the way back. He was sure to make it clear to her that calling him at 5:30 was not appreciated. She said she was sorry. Chris immediately fell asleep.

He woke up an hour later, Rachel was singing along with the radio, trying to be quiet about it but to no avail. Chris sighed and sat up. He looked out his window at the Massachusetts coastline. He saw the waves crash against the shore; it was hard to think that maybe he would have a part in making an Ocean like this one on Mars.

After another hour of driving they finally got to New York City. They drove around for another 45 minutes on Manhattan Island trying to find the building they were looking for. When they finally did they parked in front of the tall office building. They got out and went into the building; it had a large sign in front if it that said AMES TECH INDUSTRIES in front of it. The clerk inside the door informed them that the interviews were being conducted on the 14th floor. They rode the elevator up to the floor and stepped off. They walked into a waiting room were about three other people were waiting, two men and one woman.

The first man looked of Japanese decent. He had black hair cut in the traditional Japanese style and his eyes were thin. The second man was an American or so he guessed, because he saw no characteristic that set him in a different ethnic group. The woman looked Asian with black hair that went down to the middle of her back.
They went to the clerk at the desk, feeling all the eyes of his fellow interviewees fall upon him as he did.
“Chris Hawk.” He told the clerk.
“Rachel Gibbons.” Rachel said right after him.
“Have a seat and wait your turn.”

They quickly moved to the chairs. Chris picked up a magazine and started to read. The article was about Ames Tech.

AMES TECH INDUSTRIES TO GO TO MARS
THE NEW RISING POWER IN THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD IS OVER NIGHT SUCCESS, AMES TECH INDUSTRIES. THE OWNER, MR. WILLARD AMES, CLAIMS HIS SUCCESS IS BASED ON HIS SKILL TO “SNIFF OUT A GOOD DEAL.” WHETHER IT’S HIS MASTERS IN BUSINESS OR JUST LUCK, AMES TECH NOW HAS SOME OF THE MOST ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES IN THE WORLD. THEY SELL THEIR THECHNOLOGHY TO THE GOVERNMENT AND ALSO OTHER PRIVATE INTERESTS. SEVERAL WEEKS AGO MR. AMES SAID HE WAS CURRENTLY WORKING ON A SECRET PROJECT AND WILL ANNOUNCE IT SOMETIME SOON. THAT TIEM IS NOW. AT THE LAST PRESS CONFERENCE HE ANNOUNCED THAT AMES TECH INDUSTRIES WOULD BE SENDING A GROUP OF COLONISTS TO EARTH’S NEIGHBOR, MARS. THEIR MISSION IS TO LAY THE FOUNDATIONS OF PREMANENT HUMAN COLONIZATION. THESE BRAVE PEOPLE WIL BE STAYING ON THE RED PLANET INDEFINETLY.

The last sentence hit home with Chris. ‘These brave people will be staying on the Red Planet indefinitely.’ He had known it before, he had taken it into account when choosing whether or not to tryout or not. But not until then, sitting in the waiting room, that he realized what it actually meant.
“Chris Hawk?”
“Yes, that’s me.” Chris said as he got up and went to the clerk.
“Right through that door.”
Chris walked through the door into a dark office. The walls were lined with books, and small statues.
“Chris Hawk is it?”
Chris looked to where the voice was coming from. The man was siting there with a pen and a piece of paper labeled CHRIS HAWK.
“Yes.”
“Come sit. I am Mr. Igma, I’ll be interviewing you today.”
“All right.” Chris heard himself say as he sunk into his chair.
“Will you please tell me what you got your degree in.”
“Bioengineering, doubling in Physics at MIT.”
“Good, very good. Have you taken any further education?”
“I am currently studying Microbiology and Earth, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences at MIT.”
“Excellent.” Mr. Igma made a note on his paper. Chris couldn’t see what it said. “How did you find out about this interview?”
“An executive of this company e-mailed me and told me.”
“Really? What was this person’s name?”
“Craig Rasmussen.”
Mr. Igma suddenly lifted his brow. He turned to the small laptop next to him and typed in something. He stared hard at the computer screen for over a minute.
“There is no one at this company by that name.”
“What!?”
“It could be a glitch…don’t worry about it, we will investigate.” Mr. Igma assured him. But Igma himself looked perplexed. He continued with the interview.
“How long have you been interested in Mars and colonizing it?”
“About 3 months now.”
“And you all ready want to go there?”
“Yes.”
“I admire your courage. You may leave.”
“Thank you sir.”

Chris quickly made his way out of the room. He sighed with relief as he closed the door.

“Rachel Gibbons?”
“Here.” Rachel called.
“Good luck.” I said to her as she passed.

When she closed the door Chris sat down and started to think. If there was no Craig Rasmussen then whom had he talked to? Who had told him about this mission?

After two days of waiting they finally got their answer. Both of them were permitted to go to the tryouts in Miami, Florida. On the drive back it was pretty quiet. Rachel seemed absorbed in her book.

Chris was nervous now. He didn’t show it though. He hoped he could pass the try-outs, this was the biggest thing in his life. He had to pass. Somehow he wanted Rachel to pass too. Just so he would know somebody. Or maybe it was for a different reason…

The rest of the drive was peaceful. They got back at 8:00 p.m. Sunday. Just after they pulled into the MIT campus the terraforming group greeted them.

“So, how did it go?”
“Well-,” Chris started purposefully being suspenseful. The look on the kids’ faces saddened “Were in!”
Their faces lit up with happiness. We all went out and celebrated that night. When he got home he flopped down on the bed and went to sleep. He would have to be up in a few hours.

He was tired all through the school day. After work he went home to eat some dinner, and do more research. He found a lot of sites on the Internet that told him what might be conducted at a tryout for a Mars mission. After reading about all the endurance tests he decided to run a mile or two everyday till the tryouts. And he started to lift weights daily too. He hoped he would be prepared.

Finally after one month both he and Rachel received a notice from Ames Tech.:

Dear Mr. Hawk,
We are proud to congratulate you on your success with the interview. In all we had 567 applicants to be on the Mission. We only accepted 300 for the tryouts in Miami, Florida. If you will please report to Miami Beach High School at 10:00 a.m. on the 5th of August for the tryouts that would be appreciated. Best of luck.
Willard Ames
CEO Ames Tech Industries

When Chris got home from his last lecture he decided to watch some TV. As he skimmed through the usual news casts of the fighting going on in the Middle East between the now super power Israel and Palestine, a fight that had been going on for centuries.

One reason Israel was now a world power was most likely because of all the support it received from the United States, with its money, troops, and political backing they were a force to be reckoned with.

Chris was concerned for the people of those countries. But he didn’t particularly give it a second thought. They always have been fighting and always will be fighting is the way he saw it. Even if one side did manage to beat the other. And in this case it would seem Israel would soon win the age-old fight. Of course who wouldn’t with the United States on their side. With all their resources Israel could roll over Palestine. It was just another case of the United States thinking they are the World’s Policemen.

Finally he found a news report that not only interested him but also made him feel to a certain extent proud. It was on the press conference given by Willard Ames today. He formally announced the mission to the general public, and announced the names of the people who would be going to the tryouts. The middle aged but white haired man rattled off 300 names of the people who were invited.

Mr. Ames spoke in a loud clear voice “And finally Jameson Zebb of San Diego.” On the screen he saw Mr. Ames reach down a grab a glass of water and take a drink, then he continued,

“Now let me make it a point to remind all of you that only a fourth of these applicant will be going. 75 people, no more, no less. I wish to all the applicants the best of luck. See you on the fifth. Good-night.”

Chris clicked the TV off and sighed deeply. The anxiety and anticipation of the tryouts were beginning to weigh down on him. Just then his phone broke the silence of his living room.

“Hello?”
“Christopher John Hawk!” the booming voice of his mother rang in his ear.
“Yes mother?”
“What is this business of you going off to some High School in M-Miami to try out for some mission to Mars?” she demanded
“How did you know?”
“We saw it on the news!” she exclaimed
Chris cursed the news show he had just been watching for saying where he lived. Otherwise they would have figured it could have been some other Chris Hawk.
“A lawyer! I told you he should have been a lawyer!” he heard his father call from somewhere in the house.
His parents hadn’t been completely of supportive of his decision to become a Bioengineer. He hadn’t really taken into account the reaction of his parents. But why would they matter he was 32 years old! This was ridiculous!

“I have found a new career mother. Whether you support it or not doesn’t make any difference.”
His mother fell silent from her incessant rambling.
“I am a grown man mom, this is ridiculous the way you’re acting!”
“I’m only concerned about your safety!”
“Don’t worry! I’ll be fine. Hell, I might not even make it so just stop worrying. It’s been a long day and I am tired. Good night mom!”
Chris quickly hung up the phone. His parents were both 67 years old and very reluctant to change. But it didn’t matter what they thought. Mars was the only thing on Chris’ mind.

He awoke the next morning feeling depressed. Or some form of medical sadness. The stress of the tryouts was continually bearing down on him. Rachel had called late last night to tell him she had seen the telecast. Immediately after the forty-second phone call he fell asleep.

He called the clerk at his building and told her that he would not be teaching today. He decided to take a walk around the campus.

He stepped out of his apartment building.

“Good day, Chris Hawk.” Chris mimicked as he turned on the sidewalk. It was a warm summer day on the MIT campus and it helped clear his head, as his walks tended to do. He began to ponder what he would contribute specifically if he was selected for the mission.

Of course his knowledge of Bioengineering set him in that category. He was actually excited to meet the other “applicants” for the job. Obviously there was more to the tryouts then the mile run and standard IQ tests. They would be watching to see how people acted, who would work well together, and possible personality clashes. Any problems with how the group interacts with eachother could mean certain failure to the mission. Chris would have to keep his aggressive side on a short leash he had any hope of making it in.

Yes it was true, even the mild tempered Professor Hawk had had his moments of rage. Mainly in grade school. But it wasn’t of as much of a problem when he was in High School, but college he had had some occasions where he lost his temper.

After his walk he received a call from Rachel, asking him if he was nervous as she was. He had been feeling better since his walk and he told her that he was nervous but not petrified. It was a long day; he spent most of it studying over Microbiology texts. He knew he was smart enough to go but was he strong enough?

His mother called for him again on the morning of the fourth. She wished him luck surprisingly. He met Rachel again outside of his building.

“Got all your stuff?” Rachel asked him cheerfully
“Yea. I think so. Well let’s get this show on the road!” he said. It was something his mother would have said.

They drove to the airport. Got on their plane and took off. The flight took three hours. Not including the delays caused by airport security.

In Miami they got a cab and made it to their hotel. It was 3:00 by the time they got settled into the respective rooms. Rachel decided to go shopping. He reminded her that she would only have a limited supply of personal items on the ship if they passed. Rachel shrugged her shoulders and laughed.

The next day they caught a cab at 9:00 and made it to Miami Beach High School just as they started registration. Two hours later they walked up to the man at the desk. He was wearing an Ames Tech jumpsuit. He asked them both their names and checked them off the list.

All of the “applicants” then gathered in front of a podium were Willard Ames appeared.

“Ladies and Gentlemen. You have been called here today to satisfy one question. Who is going to Mars?” The crowd cheered and applauded at that comment but then quickly quieted down at the gesture of Mr. Ames. “Unfortunately for all of you, there is more traveling to be done.” A wave of confusion set over the crowd, “There are five busses outside that you will be boarding and we will transport you to the tryout facility. Good Day.” He left the podium. A hundred conversations broke out at once. Chris turned to Rachel.
“What could he mean?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”

They soon found out. They were all told to leave the stadium. There were five hydrogen style busses parked outside. But one thing was different about them; they had no windows!

On the buss they were separated from the driver so they had no way of looking outside. Lights on the ceiling lit the interior. Rachel sat down next to him. He had what would have been the window seat; instead he had the “wall seat”.

The trip took about an hour. When they got out they were in a garage with the bay doors were the busses had come in shut. They were all talking to eachother; formulating theories on where they were; some figured which way the direction the busses were pointing and keeping track of all the turns. In the end someone figured that they had been going south for about an hour and were somewhere 60 miles south of Miami. Then Mr. Ames appeared at the back of the group.

“If you will please go through those doors all will be explained.”
“It had better,” cried a voice “This had better not be some sort of Willy Wonka joy ride!” Some people laughed at this.
“No my good man it is not. Just through the door.”

They all pushed through the double doors into a large chamber that was floored with AstroTurf. There was another podium platform in the middle. Mr. Ames walked up to it and signaled for everyone to quiet down.

“Please be quiet. Quiet. You are all now in Ames Tech Industries main Research & Development center; but we built this large underground, indoor, stadium for this very purpose.”

Chris looked around. It was true they were in an underground domed stadium, without the spectator seats, all they had was just the white walls of the dome. Mr. Ames continued.

“You will be broken up into groups by your specialized fields.” He then gave the name of the fields and where their group would be located.

After a couple of minutes they were dismissed and Chris made his way over to the North end of the dome were the Biological Engineers were. On the way he noticed a small video camera out of the corner of his eye. It was the same color white as the walls but he could still see it. It slowly tracked his movements for a few paces then went back to its position. Chris walked back wards and gave a little wave to the camera and continued on. He soon found his way over to the north end. As he arrived all the people standing there glanced at him and then went back to their conversations. They were all a little nervous. He looked around the group “sizing up” the other Bioengineers. He had to assume they knew just as much as he did, so he looked at their physical shape. No one seemed to be as fit as he is. There was one woman who seemed to be in good shape, but that was looking at it from an attraction point of view.

After joining a conversation about what the spaceship would look like a man came into the group and yelled to get their attention.

“All right everyone were leaving now. First were going to do the running courses, then the obstacle course, then outside to the gravity machine that we have made. It is almost an exact copy of the ones that NASA has. Then down to the South end for a physical, then we’ll take the IQ tests. Does everyone understand?”
Yes’ echoed around the group. Chris a deep breath and answered yes also. Then they left, as they were walking he talked to a man named Stan. He was thin, not very fit looking and had thick glasses.

“So where are you from?” Chris asked
“California. CALTech actually.” Stan answered.
“Really?”
“Yeah!” Stan then caught sight of the very video camera Chris had inspected earlier. “This whole tryout is joke.” He said in a lower voice that he had been speaking in.
“How do you mean?”
“I would guess there is at least one person in our group that is not a Bioengineer, not even trying for the mission for that matter.” He answered. Chris started to look around at the people.
“I think that there is a psychiatrist is planted with us to monitor us.”
“Then we had better not look so withdrawn and whispering to each other!” Chris said. They exchanged glances and then went back to the conversations around them.

On their way towards to the obstacle course they saw the Geologist/Explorer group. He spotted Rachel talking to a man who looked 35. She laughed at something he said. Chris felt a jolt of jealousy go through him but he pushed it away. He had to get focused towards the obstacle course.

His running must have helped him because he was the fastest runner out of the group and could run for the longest. But now he had to see how he measured up to a Military R.E.C. Obstacle Course.

Out of the 38 Bioengineers he finished with the fourth quickest time. He was doing pretty well. But his greatest fear was coming up. The gravity machine. The arm swung its chair around at a speed that made you feel the force of up to 8 Gs. He had read about it on the Internet but it was said to be one of the least likely tests to be done. They made their way outside of the stadium and around the outside of it down a white hall into another chamber, this one considerable smaller, it had a glass barrier between the gravity machine and the waiting area.

They received a brief informational course before getting started. They were informed that liftoff form Earth has a pressure of 4 Gs. On a side fact of that they were informed that they might not even be blasting off from Earth, it could be from Luna or a space station, but 4 G’s was still their goal.

They would go in the order of the number they were given at registration. Chris was lucky enough to go third. After the first person went Chris felt uneasy but not to the point of nausea. The second person, a woman by the name of Alicia only made it to 3 Gs before she hit the stop button located under a person’s fingers.

Finally it was his turn. Chris walked through the door and he strapped on his headgear, and put in his mouthpiece. He removed his glasses and gave them to the attendant. Their group leader and the gravity machines attendant strapped him in. Then they started it up.

At first he felt a small bit of pressure building up in his chest. His head pushed against the headrest. He was pushed back into his seat as the mechanical arm spun faster and faster. He tried moving his legs but to no avail. He began to get dizzy so he shut his eyes. A voice came over the speaker and informed him he had made it to 3 Gs.

“Keep it coming!” he croaked out.

He heard the humming of the engine get louder, and the pressure built.
“4 Gs Hawk, do you want to stop?”
“No!” Chris gasped
“5 Gs!” Chris’ head started to pound with pain, he had to squeeze all of his muscles to get blood back to his head. He tried to hold on but it was too much. He quickly pushed the stop button. The humming quieted and the pressure lessened. He greedily gasped for air once it was fully stopped. They let him out and helped him down the steps. He was unsteady on his feet. He walked out of the area and back into the waiting room.
“How many Gs you get?” he heard a voice ask.
“5!” he said leaning his head back once he had sat down, relieved that it was over.

The next couple hours went by fast as he had many conversations with the members of his group and they all had figuring out who had gotten the most Gs. No one got past five but a couple people tied it.

Next it was time of their physicals. This took a fair amount of time and made him quite bored. The doctor gave him a clear bill of health. The last step was their IQ tests. Chris felt confident about it. He was very smart and had ranked in the 96th percentile in his SATs.

They walked down another bare white hallway. Chris noticed another video camera. They walked into a room that had desks in it were they were administered the test. Chris began his test. It was pretty simple. He had a little trouble with algebraic problems though. In the end he finished fifth. He was permitted to leave the building and go and report over at the stadium when he was finished.

As he was walking out onto the AstroTurf he hear some shouting and a crowd gathered around the podium. Chris jogged over and met Rachel on the outer edge of the circle.

“What’s going on?” he asked.
“An Arab man and another guy are fighting!” she answered worried
“Why?”
“Who knows?”
“Are they stupid? If they fight they’ll never get picked!”
“I know I yelled stop but they won’t listen!” she pleaded.
All of a sudden a group leader came in and tore the two combatants apart.

“What the hell is going on here?”
Neither of them answered.
“Children, you’re acting like freaking children! All right everyone, you are all dismissed. You will all board the busses and return to the high school. Please stay in Miami for a minimum of two days in case we have a problem with any of your tests.”

The crowd quickly dispersed. Rachel and himself got on the same buss they got there on. When they got back to the High School they called a Taxi. They both slept on the way back to their hotel. Rachel fell asleep with her head on his shoulder; he smiled and drifted off into sleep too.

Rachel and Chris spent their last two days in Miami, Florida seeing the sites and relaxing on the beach. The beaches and piers were beautiful. He realized the world was a beautiful place when looked at from the right angle. Or maybe it was Rachel that made it beautiful.

He knew he was attracted to her. He knew when he first met her. He had never really had a girl friend. He recalled a girl in third grade who thought he was cute but other then that never. All through High School he had been to busy with his grades to even consider going out with some one. He couldn’t recall any of the girls from his High School, except those from the Science Team.

He thought she liked him too. But there was no way of him being able to tell. What with never flirting or sending signals in his life, he didn’t know what to make of any behavior that inferred a relationship, something about her smile…or her laugh…. Time would tell.

There were no problems with their tests because they went through the two days without interruption from an Ames Tech associate. Their flight home was delayed by the searching of a 57-year-old Arab man suspected for terrorism. Of course the search ended up fruitless, and left the Arab man feeling very segregated.

Back in Boston there had been a very bad accident so the traffic was backed up. When they finally made it back to Cambridge and the MIT campus it was late. Chris drove Rachel to her apartment complex and helped her haul her things up the steps to her apartment.

“Well there you go.” He said as he set her last suitcase inside the door.
“Thanks.” She said. “Would you like to come in?” she asked.
He wanted to say “Yes!” but all that came out was “No thanks, I’m kind of tired.”
“Okay, well I’ll see you.” She said looking down at the ground and then back up at him.
“Good-night!” he said as he left.

That was idiotic. Chris thought as he went down to his car.
“New rule, if a girl asks you into her apartment you say yes!” he said out loud once in his car.

Once back in his own apartment he took off his glasses and watch and went to sleep.

So for three weeks he and Rachel waited. Waited for any word from Ames Tech. Finally they both received a very short and brief message, telling them to watch CNN that Friday Night. So on Friday night they both had dinner at his apartment and turned on the Television to CNN to watch the evening news. The newscaster began her report.

“Tonight we have a special press conference from Ames Tech president and CEO Willard Ames. But first lets go to world news. Israeli troops retook Jerusalem today from Palestinian guerrillas after a…”
“Looks like we have to listen to world news first. “ Rachel said
“Yeah…” he replied quietly

Three days ago a very large regime of Palestinian guerrillas took over Jerusalem. They had advanced weaponry even for guerrillas. But today it seems Israeli troops just rolled back in. The odd thing about Palestine is it really didn’t have an army. There was a small faction, but it wasn’t really an army, but every able-bodied man had a gun. But citizens/terrorist couldn’t stand to highly trained soldiers and advanced weaponry of a United States fueled Israeli army. It would be a very long time till this fight was resolved.

The newscaster continued, “Now to New York for a press conference with Willard Ames.”

The screen changed to an empty podium. Then appeared the familiar face of Willard Ames. He smiled his welcoming smile and waved at the flashing cameras.

“Thank you all for coming tonight. I have a big announcement for all those involved in the Mission to Mars. We have decided the 75 people who will be the crew on this mission. It took us these past three weeks to decide and we have finally made a decision. I will announce the participants by their fields.” Ames paused “In the field of Bioengineering: The group leader will be Chris Hawk.” Chris sat there stunned. Even when Rachel threw her arms around him. He hadn’t expected to be a group leader… Ames continued, “The other Bioengineers will be Travis Boring, Steven Wald, Bill Herrick, Norman Endres, Mark Cress, Jeff Echevarria, Kayla Breeden, Bernice Embree, Elaine Carraway, Brittany Zaragoza, Nora Mach, Sherry Schiff, Bridget Riffe, and Kathy Moynihan.”

“Congratulations Chris!” Rachel said
“Yeah, thanks!” Chris said smiling still a little stunned.
“I can’t believe it! Group leader that’s fantastic!” she said smiling brightly.
“Okay, now quiet we have to listen for you!”
“Right.” She said quieting down as Ames continued after the applause from the present media.
“In the field of Biosphere and Greenhouse Development, the group leader will be Aaron Thaxton. The rest of the farm crew will consist of, Fred Isley, Joshua Sim, Steve Southerland, Daniel Littlejohn, Brandon Balderas, Sean Eiland, Martin Stoops, Travis Drummond, David Frisch, Harriet Escobar, Lynda Sinclair, Kristen Rodney, Mary Stacy, Celia Roseday, Jeanette Kurtz, Tamara Morgan, Leah Blythe, Anne Colton, and Kristin Snapp.” The press applauded once again after Ames finished this list. He began again after it died down.
“In the field of Geology, the group leader will be Lillian Pearl. The other Geologists and Explorers are Larry Larosa, Rodney Musgrove, Nathan Hufford, Brandon Cason, Kevin Tucci, Antonio Rameriz, Peter Delk, Brandy Markus, Sandy Hagerman, Janett Leuttrell, Amy Reinhardt, Roxanne Gaines, Sherri Fitzhughs,” Ames paused and reached down to grab his glass of water and take a drink. “and Rachel Gibbons. Lord knows I almost gave Rachel a heart attack.” This got laughs from the crowd and Rachel. Chris smiled and gave her a hug. She was stunned just as he was when his name was announced. They laughed and talked about what they were to expect all the while listening to the rest of the crew get announced.



In the end the crew roster was this:
Bioengineering: Leader-Chris Hawk, Travis Boring, Steven Wald, Bill Herrick, Norman Endres, Mark Cress, Jeff Echevarria, Kayla Breeden, Bernice Embree, Amy Reinhart, Brittany Zaragoza, Nora Mach, Sherry Schiff, Bridget Riffe, and Kathy Moynihan
Biosphere and Greenhouse Development: Leader-Aaron Thaxton, Fred Isley, Joshua Sim, Steve Southerland, Daniel Littlejohn, Brandon Balderas, Sean Eiland, Martin Stoops, Travis Drummond, David Frisch, Harriet Escobar, Elaine Carraway, Kristen Rodney, Mary Stacy, Celia Roseday, Jeanette Kurtz, Tamara Morgan, Leah Blythe, Anne Colton, and Kristin Snapp
Geology: Leader-Lillian Pearl, Larry Larosa, Rodney Musgrove, Nathan Hufford, Brandon Cason, Kevin Tucci, Antonio Rameriz, Peter Delk, Brandy Markus, Sandy Hagerman, Janett Leuttrell, Lynda Sinclair, Roxanne Gaines, Sherri Fitzhughs, Rachel Gibbons
Mechanical Engineering: Leader-Diana Tincher, Tony Peterson, Anthony Amey, William Paradise, Harold Werner, Walter Ranger, Deborah Rosenberger, Charlotte Glenn, Leah Woodward, Olga Zerchofski
Technology Specialists: Leader-Lawrence Stowell, Christine Prouty, Allen Sellers, Leah Woodward, Laurie Hoyle, Belinda Rumsey
Astronauts and Other Fields: Leader-Carrie Kidner, Ronald Monti, Leonard Oldham, Dale Howes, Glenn Parrish, Roy Scott, Emma Avalos, Jennie Link, Alicia Batey

Chris and Rachel celebrated until late that night. After she had left Chris cleaned up and smiled as he drifted off to sleep.

He awoke the next morning quite early. He decided to go for a walk. As he got out of his building and unto the University sidewalks he smiled and walked with a little more spring in his step. He looked around at the beautiful pink and white trees lining the sidewalk. He took a deep breath and smiled again. His days on Earth were numbered. He was going to Mars.








Chapter 2: Training Days

Chris looked down over the wilderness passing by underneath their plane. Chris and the rest of the Bioengineers were flying out to the Siberian tundra to observe some of the plant life for the next month. The other groups had also been scattered across the planet to get their own special training. They were told after this month they would be teaming back up with all the other groups to have even more training.

Chris looked around his seat. There were computer displays showing the height of the plane and how fast it was going and a personal computer. Chris decided to get ahead of their training and look up some of the arctic plants. He took a record of the ones that appeared area they would be training in.

The plane slowly descended into an open spot in the Arctic wilderness. They quickly unloaded their gear and had a look around. There wasn’t much to look at. Their habitat, which was half underground, was very loud against the plain and barren landscape. The group of Geneticists hauled their gear into the habitat one by one. The sleeping quarters was a tight room lined with bunk beds. Chris chose one on top, and looked for a place to put his stuff. He quickly learned that at the press of a button a personal storage compartment folded out of the wall next to his bed. Chris quickly arranged his stuff and went back to the main chamber of the habitat where everyone is meeting.

“Okay everybody.” Travis started projecting his voice through the room. “There is no one here to baby-sit us. We are all professionals here, so lets get quiet and listen to Chris. Take it away Chris.”
Chris was taken aback by the announcement. It then dawned on him that he was the leader of this group, he was in charge. The thought had completely slipped his mind. “Oh, right.” Chris started. “Well we are all unpacked here so I guess the next thing would be to find out what sort of schedule we are to follow while we are here.”
“Didn’t that associate tell us that there was an itinerary in here somewhere.” Said a voice from the group.
“Ahh yes, I remember that now.” Chris stated. “Does anyone see it anywhere?” Chris said as he began to look around. The rest of the group did as well. It was quite a site actually, they all looked and felt like lost chicks looking for their mother. Finally Chris located a package on a shelf in the corner of the chamber.
“I think I found it.” He yelled back over his shoulder. Everyone quieted down and walked over to where Chris was standing.

Chris opened the box and found what he was looking for, and some things he wasn’t. The first was a small digital tablet. Its only purpose was for viewing the itinerary for their entire stay and the experiment guidelines. Underneath that there were 15 wrist consoles. These fit around a person’s forearm quite snugly, they were used to record and look up data, a computer always readily available. They also found that they could communicate with them as well. The screen would display the other person as you communicated with them. There was one common link and the capability to have private links. They all experimented talking to one another through the wrist computer.

Once that was over they took a closer look at the itinerary. It would seem that they were to follow certain experiments for certain days. Not only that but that every other day would be a Sim day. On that day they could only leave the habitat if they were in special pressurized EVA suits. They were to act the whole day as if they were on Mars. There was an air lock for them to get in and out of.

There was nothing planned for the rest of the day. So they all decided to relax in the recreation room. Here there was an enormous library, comfortable chairs and a pool table. Chris walked around the room and talked to many different people. But after a while he grew bored. He decided to go for a self-guided tour of the habitat. He walked out of the rec. room and into the white hallway. Most of the habitat was white and any other color used was a dark green for the carpet and the color of the furniture. He heard some women complain about the color, but it didn’t really bother Chris.

He walked slowly down the hall, examining every storage room with interest. Once he got out of that particular hallway he found himself back in the main chamber. There were several other hallways that branched off from this central room. He picked one to walk down and started on his way. He found that this hallway contained many different laboratories; Chris examined these with great excitement. He found that there was everything that they needed to Genetically Engineer an organism. He found this surprising, were they expecting them to actually start their work on making an organism that could survive on Mars?

Still plagued by this discovery, he continued down the laboratory hall and back into the main room. Choosing another hallway to investigate Chris walked across the chamber. This one was smaller and had stairs leading down to the lower levels of the habitat. Underground he found the airlock that the itinerary mentioned. This is where they would have to exit the habitat from when they were in sim. Also on the lower level there was an equipment room, in here where EVA suits, ATVs and all the other instruments they were need for their experiments. Chris was examining the ATVs when he heard a noise behind him.

Chris quickly turned and looked around the room. Nothing.

“Okay Chris, calm down.” He mumbled to himself.

Chris then started to look at the EVA suits on the wall. They were much smaller and lighter then conventional NASA EVA suits. Suddenly something touched his shoulder.

“Whoa!” Chris yelled as he spun around to meet the eyes of Amy Reinhart. “Jeez, you scared me.”
“Sorry” she said with a smile. “What are you doing down here?”
“Oh nothing, just looking around.” He answered.
“Ok, cool.”

Amy was a happy person. She looked about his age, with light brown hair and a great figure. Without another word they continued to too look around the level, somehow she just joined his little expedition. They looked around the lower level for a little longer then headed back upstairs. There was one hallway left to explore. Amy and Chris wandered down the hallway and entering the sole room that it contained. This room was filled with the computers that ran the habitat, a monitoring system for ATVs and EVAs that are in progress, along with the computer that had all the information for their wrist computers.

“This is interesting.” Amy said examining the wrist console server with great interest. “We can load any file we want onto this machine and then access it from our own individual console.”
“Hmm…” Chris said as he looked over Amy’s shoulder.
“I think I have an idea!” Amy said as she got and ran out of the room, leaving Chris alone the only noise the gentle hum of the computer. Minutes later she returned holding the digital notebook. “We can load the itinerary onto the server!” she exclaimed showing Chris the screen on the small machine.
“And…” Chris continued, “The experiment guidelines.” He stated as he flipped through the files on the small machine.

They quickly went to work transferring the files via inferred beam from the notebook to the server. When the transfer was complete they decided to tell everyone via wrist communication

Chris tapped onto the common frequency and began to speak. “Attention everyone. Amy Reinhart and I would like to announce that we have loaded the itinerary and experiment guidelines onto the server, and you can now access it from your wrist console. During the course of our stay, I would appreciate it if you could all load any data you collect onto the server at the end of the day so that we can use it for future reference. Thank you.”

Chris could hear some faint clapping echoing through the habitat. Chris checked the time on his own wrist console; it was nearing 10:00. Chris decided to go to sleep, for tomorrow he would have to start his work, or training, whatever way you thought about it. But the odd thing was, it was still light out, in fact he would have to get used to that because the duration of their stay would be in daylight. There would be approximately 20 hours of sunlight a day, The perfect time of year to observe plants.

The next morning Chris was up early helping himself to a light breakfast in the small cafeteria of the habitat. The itinerary said that there would be a shipment of supplies flying in halfway through their stay, but just to be on the safe side Chris ate less then what he wanted.

As he ate Chris looked over what had to be accomplished today. They would be split up into three groups, doing so would be a job left to Chris. Each group would have a task to do. Two groups would be going out into the field, out of sim, to start to make preliminary observations of the life in this region. The other group would stay here and help to set up the labs.

After everyone had eaten they met in the main chamber. Chris began to give instructions.
“All right,” Chris began. “We’ll be split into three groups, two out in the field one here. “Amy Reinhart, Travis Boring, Mark Cress, Kathy Moynihan, and myself will be one group out in the field. , Jeff Echevarria, Kayla Breeden, Bernice Embree, Bill Herrick, and Norman Endres will be the other. Everyone else stay here and follow the itinerary and set up the labs. All right everyone lets go.”

Those who were going outside followed Chris downstairs. He led them into the equipment room were they changed into there Jumpsuits. They were specially designed to trap body heat, breath and have heating filaments in key areas. The boots they were wearing were much like the EVA boots also with heating filaments the same went for their gloves. They covered their heads with heavy baklavas and masks. The harsh Siberian winds would make it hard to communicate so they used headset communication.

They exited through the main exit out of the habitat and began to explore. It wasn’t a very windy day but every once and awhile the wind would pick up and send a large gale in their direction, during these times as it was predicted normal communication was impossible.

“All right, my group will head out this way, and your group will head that way.” Chris said pointing in the different directions speaking to Norman Endres.
“Right, we’ll meet back here at…” Norman looked down at his console, “1300 hours.”
“Right.”

The two groups split and headed in opposite directions. The cold, thanks to their clothing was not a problem, they could easily walk to their research point. After 20 minutes of walking they stopped. Their site was an open area sloping up and off to the right there was a ridge.

“Ok, Travis, Amy and I will head over to that ridge, and you guys can look over there. Record your findings on your consoles.” Chris said to Mark and Kathy.
“Roger.” Mark answered as he and Kathy began to walk over to a large boulder.

Travis, Amy and Chris walked over to the ridge. Upon looking down they saw plants at the bottom. The ridge was about 10 feet high. They decided to climb down the ridge to investigate the plants. There were many ledges were they could climb down with ease. At the bottom they dropped to their hands and knees to investigate. The plant was a low lying one, they discovered that it was no more then an inch tall. But the single plant structure spread out at the very least 20 feet. It continued to spread past that but not very far as it started to get more out in the open.

Chris activated the plant database on his console and identified it as Salix lanata or the ground willow. It could not grow very tall because of the harsh winds that swept through the area. Travis and Amy continued to investigate and record information on the ground willow while Chris got up and continued to explore. Looking up the ridge he could see a small flowered plant. Chris climbed up the ridge at least 7 feet and began to investigate the small plant. It had small low-growing dense cushions of leaves. Upon further investigation on his console he discovered that the plant was a Sempervivum, it used its leaves to trap air in its leaves and actually have a small microclimate surrounding the plant. The pocket of air could be warmer then the air around the plant by as much as 40 degrees. Chris took a temperature reading of the air pocket close to the plant and the air outside the plant and found that this particular plant’s microclimate was 20 degrees warmer then the outside temperature.

“Chris!” he heard Amy yell. The yell startled Chris and knocked him off his balance. Chris fell off the ridge and landed on his right foot. A surge of pain shot through Chris’ ankle as he fell to the ground.
“Oh my god!” Amy yelled as she ran to him.
“Ah shit.” Travis exclaimed as he to ran over to him.
“Ahhh, Dammit.” Chris shouted in pain.
“I’m so sorry Chris!” Amy said from next to him. Travis was examining his leg. He removed the boot and started to feel the ankle. The harsh wind bit as his foot.
“I don’t think its broken.” Travis stated. “Just sprained.”
“Ok call Mark and Kathy.” Chris said “tell them to get down here.”
“Right” Travis pressed the button on his headset and began to broadcast to Mark and Kathy. Chris could hear Travis’ voice in his ear. “Hey you guys. You better get down here Chris is hurt.”
“We’ll be down there right away!” came the response.
“Amy.” Chris said looking over at her.
“Yeah?”
“Did you get a sample of the willow?”
“Sure did, right here.” She opened a pocket in her suit and pulled out a bag with some of the willow in it.
“Good, good. Now when we leave get a sample of that cushion plant up on the ridge.”
“Sure thing.”

Minutes later Mark and Kathy were at the bottom of the ridge. By then Chris was up limping around.

“He just sprained it. He’ll need some help getting up the ridge though.” Travis said.
“Ok.” Kathy answered

Amy had put Chris’ boot back on but not without some pain. She tightened the straps so the boot acted like a brace. His four companions slowly helped him back up the ridge. On the way he saw Amy stop by the plant he was examining and take a sample.

It took them twenty minutes to get to the ridge but it took them forty minutes to get back. By then it was nearing 1300 hours or one o’clock. Once they got back to the habitat they met up with the other group. They were all worried for Chris and helped him inside.

Inside they went to the cafeteria were they found the group that had stayed at the habitat. They were surprised to find that the group had gotten much accomplished. Almost all of the labs were operational everything was set up. Little needed to be done to finish the job and could be easily finished tomorrow. They had the rest of the day off besides the de briefing later that night.

Chris walked up to Amy and asked for the samples. Amy pulled out the samples of the plants they had discovered plus a sample of one that Mark and Kathy had found.

“Come on we have to plant them.” Chris said to her.
“Okay, lets go.”

They walked down the lab hall and entered into one of the rooms were they found some soil for keeping samples in. Together they planted and watered the plants. And put them under a plant light. This would ensure that they would grow.

“There now that’s done.” Chris said as he got up from his chair. Suddenly the pain flashed down into his ankle. “Ahh, God.” Chris exclaimed as he sat back down.
“Oh, we forgot to give you pain killer. Here I’ll go get some.” Amy said as she ran out of the room. She returned again with a small patch.
“It’s one of those patches that gives the medicine directly at the site of the pain. Where does it hurt the worst?”
“Chris removed his sock and directed Amy to the point of the pain and she opened the package and placed the patch on his foot.
“There we are.” Amy said smiling at him.
“Thank you.” Chris replied.

Together they went to the Recreation room and shot a game of pool, laughing and smiling and having a good time. After that it was time for a dinner so they went to the cafeteria and got some food. Everyone was eating at that time and after the meal was finished they met in the main chamber. Chris quieted everyone down bringing them out of their conversations.

“All right everyone. I think we had a good first day. I think we all have to applaud the group that stayed in the habitat from getting so much accomplished.” The room applauded. “As I am sure you have heard I fell from a ledge today and sprained my ankle. Nothing serious but I don’t want anyone else to get hurt worse then I did. There is climbing equipment in the equipment room and I would like it if everyone would use it if they are to be climbing up and down ridges.” Chris saw many nods of agreement. “Since I will most likely slow down any group I am with tomorrow and for the next couple days I volunteer to stay behind at the habitat and finish up here.” By the looks of things I will only need two other people, and then the rest of you can be out in the field. By the way tomorrow is a Sim day. So are their any volunteers to stay behind and help Gimpy?”

“I will!” Amy chirped in.
“I don’t know if I want you” Chris said jokingly “You might sprain my other leg.” Everyone laughed including Amy. “Just kidding. Anyone else?”
“Me too!” Norman yelled from the back.
“Okay good. We can divide everyone else tomorrow. If the groups that were in the field would please load any findings into the wrist console server that would be appreciated. Have a good night everyone.” Chris concluded.

The rest of the night everyone relaxed. Chris sank into a chair in the corner of the rec. room and got a book to read. The library was so extensive it was hard to choose. Chris finally chose a book on Astrobiology. He took the book back to the sleeping quarters with his and put it in his compartment at the end of the night. Finally he drifted of to sleep.


The next morning went by smoothly, the rest of the crew split themselves into 4 other 3 person groups and headed out the airlock.

“Yesterday’s habitat group had spilled over into today’s schedule so we are already half done.” Chris said to Norman and Amy “so lets get to work.”

They began by powering up some of the labs and moving equipment into place. This process was slowed a little because of Chris’ leg but not much. This part took only about two hours. The rest of the work was fairly easy. Re-arranging some boxes in storage and that was it, they were done.

Chris and Norman sat down in the rec. room and began to talk.

“So what do you want to do…when we get there.” Norman inquired.
“Well, I want to help with designing the plants for sure.”
“I mean after we are all done.”
“What do you mean?” Chris asked.
“Were not going to stay together and in one place forever. This is going to spark new interests in other companies. They are going to want a piece of the pie too. Other colonies are going to start popping up. What are you going to do once that happens?”
“I don’t know…I never thought about that. What are you going to do?”
“I’m not to sure either, I think I’ll start a research center or something.” Norman replied.

Five minutes later Amy joined their conversation.

“Oh that’s an easy one.” She stated “I’m going to move to a beautiful colony in the mountains. Don’t you think that Mars will be beautiful? I can’t wait to see it.”
“Me too.” Chris replied.

Like clockwork the rest of the crew returned at 1:00. Chris, Norman, and Amy helped them with their EVA suits, which they were happy to get out of no matter how restricting they may or may not be. The rest of the day was relaxation as usual.

Everyone took to the rec. room and exercise room. Some people couldn’t get enough. Chris went to check on the samples. They were not dying and were looking quite healthy. Suddenly there was a tap on his shoulder. Chris spun around quickly and saw Amy.

“Jeez, you have to quit doing that!” Chris exclaimed.
“Sorry, I tend to sneak up on people.” She answered “Anyway, here on some new samples. They were collected today.”
“Oh, thanks. I’ll plant them now. Chris went to work on planting the specimens all under the gaze of Amy. She seemed to be with him a lot, but he didn’t mind.

“I had fun today.” She said when he was finished.
“You had fun doing manual labor?” Chris inquired.
“No.” she replied with a laugh “I had fun…being with you.” she said smiling.
“Umm.” Chris hesitated “Me too.”

Suddenly Chris felt her hands around his waist and pull him closer to her. She kisses Chris and he feels his hands slide around her waist as well. They stayed in the room for a couple of more minutes before leaving, Amy hanging onto Chris’ arm, but he didn’t mind. She let go before they entered the re entering the rec. room.

After another dinner of soy burgers they had a meeting.

“I assume today was successful?” Chris asked the group. Everyone nodded and answered yes. “Good, I think that with the right painkillers I can be back out their tomorrow, and because all the work at the habitat is done we can everyone in the field!”
“Yeah!” came an overly enthusiastic yell, Chris couldn’t make out who it was but laughed none the less.
“Tomorrow should be loads of fun because we are dusting off the ATV’s. We’ll be spreading out away from the hab, and work our way back in over the course of our stay. So relax for the rest of the night and get some rest. And once again load any finding onto the server.”
“Why are you having us to do that so much?” said the voice of Jeff Echevarria.
“For future use here, our next training site and on Mars, we will be compiling our information with that of the other groups.” Chris answered. Jeff nodded in agreement.

Chris retrieved the Astrobiology book from its resting-place in his compartment. He laid down on his bed and began to read it under the light that was fixed above his bed. He read the book until the time he usually went to bed.

The rest of the week they rode their ATV’s around the area, collecting data and samples. Chris’ garden was steadily growing. On this particular day Chris was going out to investigate a large chunk of permafrost that was located in a ledge up to the North. Travis and Norman were coming with him.


It was a simulation day, Chris’ first. Since his leg healed he started going out into the field of course but today was his first time in an EVA suit. They walked down to the equipment room and suited up. After that they loaded the ATV’s into the vehicle airlock, an airlock on the lower level big enough for five ATV’s. It led onto a ramp and out onto the Siberian plains.

They rode out for an hour or so till they reached the ledge. They did tests on the ice to determine how thick it was. They were about to leave with the ice sample they took when Travis noticed something about it.

“Hey guys!” Travis called them over. “What do you think that is?” What he was looking at was a very small object trapped in the ice.
“How the hell did you notice that?” Norman exclaimed.
“I have good eyes.” He answered.
“Lets take it back to the habitat to find out.”

So very excited the traveled back to the hab. They called anyone who wanted to find out what the mystery object was to come into the biggest lab, everyone followed. They quickly thawed the ice and extracted the object. It appeared to be some sort of pod. Under a microscope they found that it was in fact a seed.

“A seed of what?” Kathy asked.
“I don’t know.” Chris answered her.
“How old do you think it is?” Travis said over his shoulder.
“Once again, I don’t know.” Chris answered, “But I do know how we can find out.”

Chris took a small knife and cut the seed in half. He took one side and out in a sample tube. And took the other and placed it carefully in its own spot in the sample tray where many different buds of plants were growing. He then turned around and explained his plan to the crowd.

“The supply plane is coming tomorrow. We can give them this sample.” He said holding up the sample tube. “They can carbon-date it for us and see how old it is.”

There was a murmur of excitement as they all left the lab. There had been finds such as this before, seeds and mosses dating back thousands of years, they might have found one…

That night went like most others. They gathered and talked about whatever came to the surface in their discussions ranging from sports to the genetic functions of a particular organism. During one such conversation they were interrupted by the voice of Mark Cress who was reading aloud from the book he was hold in his hands.

“Life, as it is, is very tenacious. Organisms have been found in some of the most extreme of environments on Earth. An example of such an organism is a bacterium that has been found at the bottom of the ocean. This organism survives by a process called chemosynthesis, it mediates chemical reactions involving the sulfur vents that it lives in and around. The temperatures in these vents can reach 600 degrees.” By now everyone was listening, some were nodding their heads as to suggest they had heard it before, and other were looking very deep in thought. “So…” Mark began again. “If life can survive in environments like that here on Earth why wouldn’t life in some form or another, survive on Mars?”
A moment of silence went by before Jeff answered. “Of course it could. It probably does.”
“But, why was it never found if it does?” Chris questioned.
“Because nothing was ever looking for it.” Jeff answered back quickly.
“Viking, Beagle-“ Norman started.
“Were both looking for different forms of Carbon.” Bernice stated “Which could suggest life was present. If anything is going to find life, its going to be us. We can process the equivalent of millions of high color resolution pictures per minute. We can think, draw conclusions from data as it comes in. No machine is going to find life on Mars.”

The people gathered in the room commonly agreed upon this. But soon it brought on a conversation that stirred a little more debate.

“So, what if there is life. What effect will that have on terraforming? That is why we are here? To create organisms that can survive on Mars right, so, effectively terraforming in its most basic sense.”
“Little effect, I would say.” Bill said coolly.
“What?” shouted Kathy Moynihan. “We would have to re-think it obviously. Do tests on the organism…”
“Slow down terraforming for a bacteria? Why would we ever do that?” Bill interrupted
“It would be the first organism outside of Earth found. Of course it would slow it down.” Chris stated. Bill and a few others seemed unconvinced. It reminded Chris of the debates he had had with the Terraforming Group, except a new realization struck Chris. What they were discussing was no longer theoretical, there was no more ‘If we go to Mars…’ They were going. These things they discussed were going to happen.


The next morning the plane arrived right on time. It unloaded its cargo of supplies to the future colonists and they stored it away in its proper spots. Many were eager to see that data cards for their wrist consoles had been brought.

“This is an update of all the research data that the other groups had gathered.” An Ames Tech associate told them as they passed around the cards and loaded them into their consoles.
“How come we never gave our data to them?” Chris asked.
“You did, through the wrist console server we pulled all your data and compiled it along with all the others.” He answered.
“I see.” Said Norman who was very interested in computers.
“We have a favor to ask of you.” Chris asked the associate. “We need you to carbon date this sample.”
The associate too the sample tube that Chris was holding in his hand. “Ok, sure. It should be done by the time we pick you guys up in a month.”
“Thanks.”

The plane left after an hour visit. After which Chris began to flip through the new files on his console. There were chemical combinations of rocks, soil experiments, diagrams on how the habitats worked, the list went on and on. Filled with information collected and compiled by the other groups. It was amazing what they as a whole had accomplished in just a month. Chris was sure that this information would be useful for the rest of their lives.

The rest of the week went by quickly, as did the month. They continued to compile information from their expeditions. They got used to using the EVA suits and began to use them every day that they left the habitat. Chris with the help of Amy, Travis, and Norman cared for the plant samples that the groups collected regularly. Now as their time at the habitat was waning they began to become more relaxed and open with each other. They became almost like a family. Sometimes Chris worried that this would make them exclusive to the rest of the group. Chris began to think of Rachel more often as the month went on, he didn’t really have a clear reason why though.

Soon as promised the planes arrived to take them back to the rest of the group who were already gathered in Northern Alaska on a small desolate place called Devon Island.

They flew west from Siberia to Devon Island. The island itself was classified as a polar dessert. To Chris it looked almost exactly the same as Mars. Their plane slowly descended down upon the barren landscape. Their were others gathered on the ground who Chris could only assume were the other Colonists.

The Geneticists filed out of the plane after they touched down, to the applause and cheering of the rest of the group. Chris looked around for Rachel and spotted her in the crowd, she pushed her way up to him. They both smiled and embraced each other. After they regained their composer they began to talk.

“How have you been?” Chris asked Rachel smiling.
“Cold. We have been here for two months already!” She answered him through her baklava.
“Really? We were up in Siberia, but it wasn’t so bad.” Chris stated. “So now we are all going to be here?”
“It looks that way” Rachel answered him.

Their conversation was cut short because an Ames Tech associate began to address the whole group.

“Congratulations on completing the first part of your training but you have another 3 months ahead of you. For that time period you will be living and working in the harsh environment of Devon Island.” The man started, gesturing his arms around him. “You will be split into groups of five, each living in your separate habitats. Here you will work with your partners on different schedules and experiments. Good luck.” After this first man was done speaking he left to get on a plane and another took his place in speaking.
“The first group will consist of Chris Hawk, Travis Boring, Anne Colton, Rachel Gibbons, and Christine Prouty. Please proceed to the first plane with your gear. Rachel smiled as they walked to the plan together and climbed aboard. The plane took off fairly quickly flying across the island, small talk filled the plane for the ten minute ride. Chris felt glad to be back with Rachel. He was sure they were going to have fun.

It was hard to believe that in three months their training would be complete. They would be on their way to Mars. To a new world and a new life, new things to see, and new experiences to gain. And it all was only three months away. At that moment the plane slowly started to descend back down to the barren surface.

The plane landed about fifty yards away from a smaller version of the habitat that Chris had just previously spent 2 months. They once again unloaded their gear and hauled it the habitat. The pilot waved goodbye and took off once again to the skies.

Their habitat had a very homey feel to it. Each of them had their own room, plus a common room, a small equipment room, an equally small lab, and a rec. room. Their rooms were marked with their names, Chris settled in quickly unpacking his gear and the reading material that he had “borrowed” from the last habitat, and he was glad he did. Their current residence lacked the extensive library that the first one had.

Instead of floor to ceiling bookshelves of books, they had exercise equipment, and a TV with an extensive Mini Disk library. Another digital tablet with their itinerary, the data they had recently collected and the Mission Parameters lay on the table that was also in the room, along with five comfortable chairs surrounding it.

The kitchen was to the left, it seemed that there was no cafeteria and they were to eat in the rec. room. A large supply of food was kept in storage. Chris had just gotten done exploring their stock of food when he saw Christine, a technological specialist behind the TV with a screwdriver.

“What are you doing?” Chris asked highly interested.
“Well, this TV only runs on this local circuit, namely all it does is play minidisk movies, but with a few adjustments…” Christine started. “We can make an electric feedback current that acts like an antenna, so theoretically we should be able to pick up TV channels.” Christine finished screwing something and closed the hatch on the TV and plugged it back in to the wall jack. She then went around to the other side and turned it on. By then everyone in the habitat was huddling around the TV.

The screen displayed only static. Chris felt a little disappointed, he would have liked to know what was going on in the outside world for the next three months. But all was not lost for Christine was flipping hopefully through the channels. Suddenly the static disappeared and was replaced by the face of a newscaster.

“Yes!” Christine almost shouted.
“The news world has the most information zooming around, we were most likely to pick up that.” Travis said.
“Alright everybody Shhh! Look!” Chris said, for on the screen was displayed the Ames Tech logo. Chris had seen it on the Stationary and letter he received from them. Now the newscaster was talking about the company as it was displayed in the corner.
“The AmesTech colonists are now currently entering their 3rd month of training. Ames is about to give a press conference on the subject in just a couple of minutes, we will join our crew in New York when that time comes, but on the same story, other corporations such as AlphaCorp. have publicly announced that they too are looking into possible Space missions, more specifically to the planet Mars, Bill Myers reporting.” The screen then switched to a man who was apparently standing in the lobby of an AlphaCorp. Building, the wall behind him had the company name and logo.

“Thank you, Jane. Corporations like you mentioned, AlphaCorp. are now starting to look towards space. Research centers across the world are now a buzz with excitement. New technologies and methods are being developed everyday. But why is this all happening now? Theories are that because the stocks of Ames Tech are rising dramatically others want to jump on the band wagon. But one Mars enthusiast commented ‘I think that this is the time when the private starts to take charge of Space. Its not a job of the governments anymore.’

Ironically, no government has currently made any comment to Ames Tech’s mission. Furthermore,” The screen cut back to the original newscaster.
“Sorry to cut you short there Bill, but its time for the Ames press conference.” The screen once again changed to a room filled with reporters and a currently empty podium. But as expected the old face of Willard Ames, who was aglow with smiles took the podium, seeing his face made you want to smile as well.

“Welcome ladies gentlemen. As I speak, the future colonists of Mars are hard at work training in the polar dessert of Devon Island. They will be training their bodies and their minds here for the next 3 months. At that time the colonists will be taken to space, to board their transfer ship. Frank Willkinson will release the details of the ship once I am finished. Are there any questions? You there.” Said Ames as he pointed to a random reporter. A young lady started to ask him her question.
“Mr. Ames, do you think it is wise to send 75 people to the Red Planet, without there ever being a successful manned mission?”
“We have done all the research and ran simulations, but of course nothing can compete with raw data. But all of our rovers, and robots have landed without trouble, we got unlucky once, I’m banking that it won’t happen again.” The same reporter continued with a follow up.
“What if the same thing is to happen again? What if a Manned lander during your mission, crashes?”
“Strength in numbers, Miss, if one were to go astray others would be quick to make their way to the trouble spot. And we feel we have developed the technology to avoid that.” Next question. The noise of reporters once again erupted and Willard pointed to another reporter.
“Mr. Ames, what would happen if one of the colonists were to become wounded or sick in the course of their training and are unable to participate the mission?”
“We have other applicants on a reserve list, that were told to keep themselves in top physical form, just in case such an event is to happen.” Next question.
“Mr. Ames, I was wondering if…” said a deep voice said from the crowd. The camera showed the man who was speaking. He had dark brown hair and had broad shoulders and a beard that seemed to fit his voice.

Chris recognized the voice; it was the voice of Craig Rasmussen. Questions started flying through Chris’ mind, Craig said he was executive, what was he doing posed as a reporter? Or was he even an executive in the first place; Chris’ interviewer couldn’t find his name on the database? Then how did he have all the information about the mission before hand? Chris came out of his thoughts to hear Ames answering “Craig’s” question.
“The water will come from the northern cap, as our settlement is located in the upper Northern Hemisphere. An excellent question, what was your name?”
“Craig sir, Craig Whittier.”
“Craig, thank you. And with that my job here is done. Good-bye, have a pleasant evening.” As Ames left the podium questions started flooding form the reporters mouths. But Ames answered none of them. Instead a man of small stature took the podium and began to introduce himself.

“Hello, ladies and gentlemen, I am Frank Willkinson, I am here to describe and answer any questions you may have about the interplanetary transfer ship, the Red Savior. The main shaft of the Red Savior is 100 meters long, this shaft is surrounded by an 50 meter long Helix, this Helix will be the main operating quarters of the crew, it will include their rooms, working space, labs, eating areas, and recreational areas. The Helix will rotate around the shaft, creating the sense of Artificial Gravity. The shaft, which is not rotating therefore is in Zero Gravity, a lot of this area will be used for cargo. Are there any questions? Yes, you there.” Frank pointed to a reporter. Chris quickly checked his watch they had been watching this for a little over a half-hour.
“Mr. Willkinson, large interplanetary transfer ships have long since been ruled out for a Mars Mission because of the cost. On the same note, large crews of people were also thought to be unnecessary. Why do you plan to go the old route?”
“Well, that is an excellent question, the truth is, we are not building the Red Savior, in essence we are rebuilding it. I see the puzzled looks on all your faces, the fact of the matter is, a large majority of the Red Savior is made out of the Ames Tech/Halo Corp. space station. Yes, we designed the Space station from the start to be able to be remade into a ship. The station has long since paid for itself, through research and new technologies. So, the Red Savior has already been paid for by itself before it had ever been built. Quite a bit of engineering though.”
Chris flipped off the TV. The others glanced at him but seemed to agree that they had learned enough for today.
“We know things that none of the other colonists know.” Travis said excited. “So that’s how they are doing it, using the old station as a ship. I have been there once it was a fantastic place.” Christine answered.
“Yes it is very exciting. Three more months and we will be taking that thing to Mars.” Anne exclaimed.
“Rachel, can I talk to you for a minute?” Chris said to Rachel.
“Yeah, sure.” Rachel followed Chris out of the room. “What is it.”
“One of the reporters,” Chris started “at the press conference, it was Craig Rasmussen.”
“Your informant about the mission?” Rachel quickly asked
“Yes.”
“Didn’t he say he was an executive or something?”
“Yeah, he did.” Chris answered her. “He didn’t use the same name today either, instead it was Craig Whittier.”
“What do you think he is trying to do?”
“I’m not sure yet…” Chris trailed off.
“But it doesn’t really matter anyway. In three months we months we will be heading towards Mars, with “Craig” left behind.”
“Yeah, your probably right.” Chris said. “Ok, I just thought I would let you know.”

But something still didn’t seem right to Chris What was Craig up to? And Why had he lied to him about his name?

The next day the schedule said that Chris, Rachel, and Anne, were to go out into the field for some studies.


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