Thursday November 5th, 2015

The exercise:

Let us return to The Colony.

And let us all find out what I'm going to write in this, my second to last installment.

Yes, that includes me.

The exercise:

As it turns out, keeping Vassily and his other crew away from the compound can be that hard. I mean, what exactly do we have to ward them off with for seven and a half hours? If we see them coming too early we can't set off an extra explosive or two to ward them off - that would just let them know what we've got waiting for them. I suppose we could just set one of them off the moment they drove close enough but... I don't think I have the stomach for such direct measures.

Besides, what if they happen to just drive through one of the open stretches we would have to leave between explosives? Then they'd be on us and we'd have nothing to fight them off with but, what? Rope and butter knives?

That's my real concern here. Obviously.

And what if they know the dust storm is coming as well? We can hardly assume that they don't. What if they decide to wait it out and launch their attack afterward? Assuming they'd even be able to find us. Thirty-six hours is probably enough time to get buried, isn't it? Is it?

"Computer? Any thoughts on the compound's status after enduring a day and a half of dust?"

Are you asking if you will be buried alive?

"Uh... basically, yes."

Unlikely. Possible, but unlikely.

"How possible? Come on, you've got to be able to give me odds on this. You're a computer, isn't tha-"

We can discuss this later.

"What? No, we're talking about th-"

You have other things to worry about at the moment.

"... What do you mean? What's going on?"

Three vehicles are approaching from the west. Fast.


Greg said...

West? West? I'm choosing to believe that you can't spell antispin.
Hmm, damn, I was hoping that Vassily would need a couple of hours to get to the other camp and a couple of hours to get back so that the dust storm would become a viable way of stopping them. Since I don't see how we can have a third group on Mars, also unknown, at this late stage, I guess we need another way of getting out of this. Drat. Still, you mentioned rope and butter knives, perhaps there's something we can do with that....

OK, blogger is claiming this is too long (but a word processor says it isn't...) so I'll post it as two entries. Sorry!

Greg said...

"Robbie, what are you doing?" Eliza practically runs into Commander Vassily's cabin. I'm in here because he's got access to everything in the camp and it's easiest to find out where everything is. I was actually checking my hair looked ok after all the fuss we've had, but Eliza never takes my hair seriously, so I don't tell her that.
"I was finding out how much explosives we've got left," I say. I point to a screen that's got the interesting data on, and the computer conveniently highlights it for me. I don't know how it does that.
"They're coming already," says Eliza. "I think we may to evacuate and hope they don't destroy everything." I don't know what to say to that, it feels like someone just took my stomach away and left a hole in its place. Like when we were launching and all the gravity disappeared. The highlights on the screen flash but Eliza looks away. As soon as she does a message appears underneath it.
Remind her about escape velocity.
"What's escape velocity?" I ask. "Is that like how fast we have to drive to get away?"
"Oh Robbie." Eliza sighs and strokes my hair. "No, escape velocity is how fast you have to go up to get into... orbit...." She's staring at the screen now. "Oh. Oh yes, that much explosive could lauch one of their buggies into orbit from Mars," she says. "It's only one, but that's one less. Are you some kind of idiot savant, Robbie?" I recognise that she's speaking French or some other language at the end but at school my language teachers used to ask me when I expected to finish learning English. I've no idea what she's asking.
"Look," I say, to distract her. "These are shaped charges."
"Right?" She's looking at me like I'm cleverer now, and it's weird. I'm just describing the diagram the computer showed me earlier though. "So if we put the buggy in front of it and make it explode, it pushes the buggy out, fast," I say. "We can get away faster. Look." I bring the diagram up again, and Eliza studies it.
"Where did you find this, Robbie?" she asks, but then she looks at the numbers in the corner of the screen. "Never mind," she says. "We've got just enough time to set this up. Let's go!"
Eliza does the explosives under the sand stuff, so I don't know what she does exactly, but we lock the doors except for one, like she said, and put the explosives outside the unlocked door. We close it though, so they have to stop. I put the shaped charges against a rock face, and then all of our butter knives get stuck into the opposite sand-wall. This is really, really odd, but Eliza says that that's what the diagram says.
When they arrive, they go round two gates before they find the one we "couldn't" lock because the lock is "broken" and they stop right on the explosives. Eliza doesn't give them time to get out; the buggy shoots into the air, and she high-fives me. I think she might have dislocated my shoulder though, she's strong. There's a big hole in the ground they have to get past, so the second buggy is barely moving at all when it reached the shaped charge and gets blown into the knives. The sand collapses over them, and I get out of the way before Eliza can high-five me again.
But the third buggy gets in.

Marc said...

Greg - antiwhatnow? :P

Yeah, I guess I managed to bring Vassily back a little too quickly. Sorry about that. I'm glad you found time to prepare for his arrival though!

Two out of three ain't bad at all! Now we just have to deal with the last one, which I have to assume has Vassily as one of its passengers.

Hmm, December shall be interesting :)