Boots on ground

At long last our travelers make it to the Martian surface. Things inside Princess Kira’s head continue to develop. Funny to see that even in an experimental station on another world, people just go about their business as best they can. Seems things are settling down a little, so there’s no reason not to think that Laszlo and Kira won’t be able to… what’s that light in the sky?… a plot point?

After my abject failure with no podcast last week, I have been able to record and edit this Friday’s. Further, as I have DayJob this weekend, I plan to record next week’s ‘cast this Friday. I always wanted to get at least 1-2 episodes ahead but to-date have not had a chance. Will try to rectify that.

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Fifteen minutes of that led to another twenty of questions.  With those concluded they drifted or bumped their way to a kind of locker room where their clothes would be kept, their bodies cleaned, and used but sterile skinsuits issued.  As they diverged to the men and women’s side, Kira quipped, “We’re on a schedule here!  Behave, boys!”  They did, limiting themselves to a kiss and emerged into another corridor at the same time as the girls.

It was now Medved who led them not back to the spacedock but instead to a much smaller bay containing a single lifting-body gig.  Les’s eyes noted the main rocket and thrusters but his lines also picked out the small reactionless motor at its core.  Medved would act as co-pilot to the man already seated and performing checks.  The others arrayed themselves men on one side and women on the other in four of the eight seats facing each other.

With no warning they were free of Control with the motor thrusting opposite their vector of travel, dropping them lower and lower until a shudder told them they bit into the thin atmosphere.  The tiny gig had no signal so Les was unsure as to their final destination.  It was only once the shaking ended and he no longer perceived any anxiety from the pilots that he voiced his question.

“What is our on-ground destination?” he asked into his helmet’s mike.

“Arabia Terra, northwest edge, on the Chryse Planita inland sea,” Medved replied.  “We’ve a fairly extensive research station setup there.  And, all of you get to see land and sea.”

At that name, Laszlo quickly looked straight across to Kira.  Something more than concern but less than panic was there.  Another few turns as the pilot, to Les’s disproval, did a very poor job in shedding their speed, had nothing but water visible outside their tiny portholes.  There was suddenly land as the gig turned in a great circle to make a landing.

“I…!” Kira’s voice was in their ears.  He looked again at her and was surprised.  Her nature had finally caught up with her eyes:  the color that Mars had been, but impossibly bright.  “I can hear!”

“What’s that, Kirry?” Annie asked from her left.

“That’s what I want to know!” Nikky called, pointing at his little sister’s helmet.  “What’s happened, Les!”

“Bioluminescent eyes are a hallmark of people such as us,” he began as Annie twisted her sister’s head around to look.  “Why now?  I’ve no idea.  What is that you hear, Kira?”

With a last bump, the little ship’s legs flexed as it touched down.

“This whole world.” Her purple eyes began to cry.  “Mars is singing to me!”

No one knew what to say to that so, led by Medved, they climbed down the short ladder to the surface.  Most of the dust was still reddish or adobe, but streaked with some yellows and oranges.

“Careful as you walk,” their guide cautioned.  “Gravity is only forty percent of Earth’s.  We’ve had our share of twisted and broken ankles over the years with people stepping or leaping too high and coming down wrong.”

“As least I don’t feel fat” Annie laughed.

“You’re not fat, sister,” Nikky chided her.

“No.  Just Russian!” she teased back while they followed Medved toward a group of about a dozen one and two-story prefabbed buildings.

“No permanent structures yet?” Les asked.

“Some in Tharsis and a few scattered here and there,” was his reply.  “Within a few years this area will be under fifty to one hundred meters of water, so nothing permanent.”

Falling silent, except for Kirry’s increasingly heavy breathing in their ears, they passed between two two-story buildings connected overhead with a sealed walkway.  A few people without suits regarded them from inside but quickly returned to whatever their tasks might be.

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