Roger’s Blog

COMMAND DECISION
Samantha never wanted the position of Mission Commander, intending to simply be a mission specialist that would allow her to focus on whatever genetics she found on Mars. The thing is, we already looked up to her as a leader so when we voted on it she was the unanimous choice.
This week required her to rise to the occasion when we were confronted with evidence of hostile intent. The first thing she did was calmly take action by telling Dave and Remora to take evasive maneuvers as we approach Mars. Once that was done she gathered the crew together and laid out her course of action and the reasons for it, giving us all the information that was available. The result was that everyone bought in.
So now a mysterious planet grows larger with each passing day. What was once merely silent and devoid of life may hide secrets no one expected.
Oh, and one other thing on something else that came up this week.
Just.
Fund.
NASA.

ROGER’S BLOG

TARGET PRACTICE
As I’ve previously mentioned, we didn’t launch with all the supplies we need for the mission. Instead, during the voyage we regularly pick up shipments launched years earlier, waiting in space for us.
The last of these resulted in much consternation, as it was peppered with holes. As Samantha said, it could be that it ran into a swarm of space debris…or something’s been shooting at it. Samantha’s been thinking along those lines ever since a rock almost killed Luis by breaking his tether on a spacewalk.
So what do we do? Since we need Mars’ gravity as a breaking mechanism to return to Earth, there’s nothing can do but proceed to the red planet. We have no choice but to enter Mars orbit. Once there, however, we can circle it while staying behind Mars’ moon Phobos to block any further potshots.
As for the shipment, it contained goo for our 3D printers. Luckily we just lost 17% of the load from the hits.

ROGER’S BLOG

RETAINING WATER
The big Mars news this week was the discovery of water beneath the ice of the planet’s south pole. It’s a big lake, actually, although it won’t involve our mission. We’re landing in a completely different area, and even so, we have nothing that would be able to break through the ice to get to the water. That will be up to future missions.
Here on Fastrack One, Thomas continues to heal from his surgery. He’s at a dangerous stage, when he thinks he’s healed and ready for activity, but still vulnerable to ripping out the sutures if he’s not careful.
Samantha’s been visiting him in order to prevent him from getting restless, and for her own peace of mind. She also collects as much data on her condition as she can, to document humanity’s first pregnancy in space. She’s a scientist to the core.

ROGER’S BLOG

RECOVERY
Thomas is in good spirits and the medical prognosis is all positive. He just has to be careful for the next few weeks until he’s fully healed. The mission can’t afford for him to re-tear his incisions by trying to come back too soon. So, Maria is restricting his movements as much as possible (although she does allow him to hang carefully from his trapeze for limited periods of time).
As Samantha heads to the final weeks of her pregnancy, she’s a frequent visitor to Sick Bay in order to monitor her baby’s health. She and Thomas talk about pregnancies, of which Thomas has personal experience. (Long story) He’s actually more empathetic to Samantha than Jenny or Ming. The other mom on board is Maria, of course, who is strictly professional about the matter.
Remora, meanwhile, is demonstrating that she’s a more than capable co-pilot. Still, Dave makes sure to perform the really important maneuvers; what Remora does is keep the ship steady while Dave takes off for his normal shifts of sleep and down time.
Mars looms ever closer.

ROGER’S BLOG

POST OP

We don’t know exactly how much surgery Maria will do in the next thirty years until she comes back in time to join our voyage, but it was enough experience to successfully extract Thomas’s appendix. Let’s not forget Don’s role, too. He only recently got his nursing degree and he was fantastic. Thanks to the two of them Thomas will make a complete recovery.
That got us over the first hurtle. There’s more to come, though, as it’ll be weeks before he can resume his piloting duties. Remora insists that she can fill in for him, but we’ll have to see. Out here, there are no do-overs if a mistake is made. It’ll be Dave’s call whether she can actually pilot the ship during his sleep hours.
Thomas is in good spirits, except that he feels he’s let us down with his illness which is ridiculous. It could’ve happened to any of us.
The prognosis is that he’ll be able to resume his full duties in a month, just a week before we enter Mars orbit. That’s when we’ll really need him. In a sense we’re lucky this happened now and not when those maneuvers will determine whether we safely orbit the planet or be flung off into to the Oort Cloud.
No pressure.

ROGER’S BLOG

CRISIS MODE

Thomas, our co-pilot, has come down with appendicitis. Maria has him in sick bay, and has determined it hasn’t burst. Yet. As of this moment Maria and Don are prepping him for surgery.

Before launch we all went through every physical test known to medical science. However, this is just one of those things that comes out of the blue.

How does this affect our mission? A lot. At this point of the voyage Dave can handle things by himself by waking up every four hours, but obviously that’s not sustainable for more than a day or two. We need Thomas.

Right now, though, we’re more concerned with his health as friends who’ve known him for ages. Remora and Marlon need our support, too.

ROGER’S BLOG

JENNY’S DREAM
Why is Jenny a member of the crew? She has no obvious skill set other than negotiating contracts (at which she’s very good), but she could represent Bambi, Ming and Dave while remaining on Earth. (Those are her only three clients, and Dave is retired from basketball.)
One can see that she wants to stay with her husband Luis, but I’m away from Marcie and we’ve worked it out, so it can be done. Ostensibly she’s in charge of making sure Bambi records singles on a regular basis, but Bambi’s a pro and doesn’t miss deadlines.
There are still a lot of tasks in maintaining the ship that don’t require deep technical knowledge, but just the ability to follow instructions. Being detail-oriented, Jenny is fantastic at that and has proven herself to be highly reliable. She doesn’t get any credit for it, though.
This probably is what led to her having a dream in which her role became crucial. That’s an understandable reaction.
BTW, Samantha didn’t really sneak around in the dark to create new undergarments for herself. On this ship privacy is pretty much a thing of the past.

Roger’s Blog

ALIENATED
Samantha came clean to Remora about where merfolk came from. Answer: not Earth.
This goes back to over 15 years ago, when Samantha found herself transformed into a mermaid. Unwilling to give up her human life, she quickly sequenced the merfolk genome in order to change herself back.
What she found a block of human DNA (which allow merfolk and humans to mate), aquatic DNA of various water-dwelling species and a block of Something Else. The later had no relation to anything on Earth. Fortunately she was able to manipulate the Earth-based genetics to restore her original form, which led to the breakthroughs she’s made since.
She never mentioned these details to anyone, not even Rupert or Rosalind, but it was around that time she begin voicing a desire to go to Mars.
Anyway, now Remora knows, but she has reservations about the theory. We’ll find more, soon enough.

ROGER’S BLOG

BLINK
Our flight manifest doesn’t include a sizable addition to cargo. No, not the dodo stowaways (or even the stowaway inside Samantha!) but the elephant in the room that no one talks about: that there’s something moving around the Martian surface waiting for our arrival.
Whatever it is, it’s moving the wreckage of our previous failed missions to a point near a suspicious circular opening that begs exploration. So, we’re going to explore it.
Until then, our only course of action is watch it with our cameras currently In orbit. It remains inscrutable, so in the meanwhile we avoid bringing it up. All we’d be able to do is speculate inefficiently.

Roger’s Blog

With Roger’s regular site still down, we’re presenting his weekly report from space here.

PLANET DAY CARE
Now in the sixth month of our interplanetary voyage, we’ve settled into one of our primary tasks: Keeping four inquisitive children occupied. Adding to the degree of difficulty in the anti-boredom department; one of the kids is the young Leonardo da Vinci.
Thanks to our 3-D printers we have plenty of toys, and when they get tired of them we simply melt down the plastic and build new playthings out of it.
Every day there’s a school lesson sent from Earth by Sue Havens. The kids respond to the assignment, but the signal delay does interfere with the interaction.
Finally, each child has a simple, non-mission-critical task to perform every day which is written on the daily log sheet along with everyone else’s. This ensures that they feel like they’re actual crew members like their parents.
When we return to Earth their reward will be a lot more than a lousy T-shirt. (Although they’ll get those, too!)