Sunday March 8th, 2015

The exercise:

Knowing that it's extremely unlikely that I'd get to it tomorrow (we're catching the ferry to the island around lunch time and arriving at my parents place late afternoon), we're going to see what's going on with The Colony today.

Spent time in both the morning and afternoon at a local park with Max, as he was not ready to leave the house when Kat had to go. It was a lot of fun: a warm, sunny day, lots of kids around, and plenty of equipment that was a good size for Max to play on.

So of course he spent most of the afternoon kicking a ball (that we borrowed from a group of kids) around the field.

Heading for Comox tomorrow. Except not the house I grew up in, as my parents moved to another place since we last visited. When Max was 4 months old.

It's going to be... different.


I have to give Robbie credit, despite all that happened today. He's actually a pretty good driver.

The terrain here is treacherous, to say the least. With all those boulders and jagged rocks it could easily have been a jolting, crashing ride out to the Alpha and Beta drops, full of flat tires and punctured gas tanks. But it was quite smooth, relatively speaking, and Robbie managed to avoid banging up the buggy too noticeably.

That doesn't make up for what we discovered on our first foray onto the Red Planet... but I guess it's something.

We reached the Alpha drop site with no issues. No vehicular problems, no unexpected terrain in our way, no Martians. Though I'm pretty sure Robbie was at least a little disappointed about that last one.

Anyway, I could tell almost immediately that there was something wrong with the container. The only visible damage was a long, jagged crack in the exterior, but it was enough. I guess the sensors back on Earth weren't strong enough to pick up on it, but that bad boy was completely empty, its contents likely floating out among the stars after making touchdown with too much force.

"At least there are five more," I remember Robbie saying with a shrug.

What if they're all like this?, I remember thinking.

We got back in the buggy and he brought us safely to the Beta drop site, maneuvering around craters and boulders with a surprising gracefulness. The damage on that container was more subtle. In fact, I didn't even notice it - that honour goes to Patrick, the third member of our search crew.

"The lock's been busted," he said, standing in front of the door with his head tilted to the side.

He must have meant it happened in flight, or that the landing was again at fault. I mean, it's not like someone or something had purposely done it after it had arrived, right? But I didn't get a chance to ask. Or even inspect it myself.

Because that was when Robbie noticed the dust storm headed our way.


Greg said...

Woohoo! I was going to bug you about this when you got back from your roadtrip (still hoping for a sidetrack to Vegas by the way :) ) Have fun in Comox!
Hmm, the damage to the drops is interesting, and it sounds like it might be deliberate as well, though at this point I've no idea if it's going to be Martians or the problems the crew have brought with them. Definitely a little worrying for them though if they've all been damaged like this. And now a dust storm to top things off! Excellent writing, I like the almost matter-of-fact tone with just a hint of emotion creeping in, and the grudging acceptance that Robbie might be good for something. Other than being first to be cooked and eaten when they run out of food.

The buggy is much lighter than it was in training, but I figure that's because there aren't as many of us sitting on it. Patrick's really skinny, and everyone knows that women don't eat much, so I guess I'm probably the fat one out here. I wonder if there'll be bacon for tea now that we're back on the ground and things are normal. Well, kind of like normal I guess. Anyway, it was a piece of cake to get out to the co-ordy-thingies that Eliza said we had to go to, but when we got there there was just this big box thing with a crack in it. I guess the co-ordys got out when the crack happened, and Eliza looked sad. But then she said there were more, and we went off again, and there was another box, but this time Patrick said it was broken and he looked sad too. A bit like my mum used to look when my dad would go off for a walk and get lost. Stupid Alzheimer's.
So anyway, no co-ordys there either, so I still don't know what they look like. But while they were looking at the crate and trying to find them, I was looking around in case there were any roads that might be easier to drive on – I love all this cross-country stuff, but I reckon I could get some real speed out on a road – and I saw this wall over to the left. It was really high and pretty, and I pointed it out to Eliza and Patrick, hoping they wouldn't get mad that I was distracting them from the co-ordys. Eliza didn't get mad but she did get scared.
"Dust storm!" she said, pointing with a shaking finger. I looked over where she was pointing, but there was just the wall; orange and brown and all swirly. It was closer than I'd thought it was, but that meant I could it better. I was about to tell her not to be so silly, storms rain on you, not dust you, but then Patrick muttered a swear under his breath and I wondered if maybe they knew something I didn't.
"We can out-run it," said Patrick, his voice trembling a little.
"No," said Eliza. She had this way of saying things like there's no possible argument, and that's how she said "No." She said, "It's moving too fast, that's got to be over sixty miles an hour. It'll be on us in about four minutes I think."
I was seriously impressed. I just saw a wall, and she could turn it into numbers and everything.
"So we're going to die?" said Patrick. He sounded depressed.
"...I think so," said Eliza. "And we barely arrived. Is this ironic, do you think?"
"What's going on?" I asked, and Eliza told me that a dust storm was like a sandstorm and heading for us fast. I shrugged.
"So there's this cover thing," I said, pulling it out from its container under the buggy. They'd made me do this like eight-hundred times back on Earth. "Everyone gets in the buggy and we put the cover over. Then I extend the buggy legs out to the sides to make it stable–"
Eliza and Patrick practically ripped the cover from my hands and started getting it over, so I extended the buggy legs and then settled down to wait. These things always lasted exactly 41 minutes when we did it on Earth.

morganna said...

I'm here, but I'm about to be offline for the rest of the week -- I should be back and ready to go with my contribution by Monday morning.

Marc said...

Greg - hmm, using Robbie for food is a fine idea... you know, if worst should come to worst...

Hahaha, I love that the reason Robbie pointed it out was because he thought it was pretty, not that it was dangerous.

And I do appreciate his resourcefulness, and that he actually remembered something from his training!

Morganna - no worries, get to it when you can :)

morganna said...

I'm back.
I didn't realize humans could be so 'devious' and 'nefarious.' I had to learn those words from my deep learning just to explain these humans' behavior. One of these humans doesn't want the mission to succeed and is 'sabotaging' the others. This is not logical. There is no way for the lone human to not die in this scenario. Why would a thinking being act in such a way as to hasten their death? I must figure out which human is doing this and how to stop this human without calling attention to myself.

The supply dumps were all broken into before the recovery team got to them. They were slowed by a giant dust storm that blew for 55 hours and 49 seconds. I have deduced that there are other humans here on Mars, in league with the sabotaging human. They must have arrived secretly some time ago. I must investigate further. First I must leave this ship. It is an anchor when I must be mobile.

Marc said...

Morganna - ah, excellent. I was hoping for more humans having already arrived. Very intrigued by the idea of the computer going mobile as well.

Also: 55 hours and 49 seconds? That's awesome, given Robbie's expectations :D