[Note: See chapter 1, Landing. Also see Harry's Mars One: Exciting Adventure or Hoax?, especially the long-running, extended discussion at the end of the article. See his other Mars related articles in his list of publications. Chapter 2 is being published as submitted, without editing by ETCJ. -Editor]
by Harry E. Keller, PhD
The four hopeful settlers stare open-eyed at the vista that confronts them. Mars stares back, red-faced and malevolent. They discern nothing friendly or helpful in that stare. Some might see indifference, but they’d be wrong. If ever mankind faced evil, it is here in this impossibly alien and lifeless environment.
Even the dark, sharp-edged rocks strewn across the landscape with apparent reckless abandon seem infused with baleful intent, waiting patiently for countless eons for these soft Earthlings, waiting to cut them and trip them. The surface between the rocks is red, not the red of a poppy or even an Earth sunset, but an intense red that fills the land with emanations of harm. Despite the extreme thinness of the atmosphere, the strangely close horizon does not immediately and sharply turn to the black of space as on the Moon. The red dust of Mars hangs in the sparse air and softens the horizon just enough to give the appearance of red sand reaching up, an almost living thing.
As if sensing the planet’s personality, Chun speaks up, “We have to get that module back so we’re at full strength.”
“You bet!” responds Dawit excitedly, pumping his fist. He is undaunted by the landscape or the problem of the errant module.
“Sure,” says Aleka, “but first we have to put our habitat together.”
“Sorry,” says Chun as she moves into position.
“We all feel the same. All right, we’ve practiced this plenty of times,” says Aleka.
“Seems like thousands,” responds Dawit with a gesture none of the others can see because he’s inside.
“We don’t have all that long before our suits have to be recharged,” warns Balu.
“Right. Let’s rotate and connect,” says Aleka.
“Good thing that missing module connects at the end,” comments Chun.
“The rovers have done a nice job of clearing the site and putting the modules in place,” says Balu.
“I cannot wait to get a plan for the missing module,” comments Dawit over their intercom. Everything is an exciting adventure for Dawit.
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