by Paul D
a Mars adventure.
|Charles Jansen tapped the Personal Compact Computer on his left sleeve. Suit integrity verified flashed on his face-plate. He was really not looking forward to this trip. His wife, Penny, wanted to travel to Mars One Colony to see her grandfather on his 100th birthday.
It wouldn't be so bad, except her brother, Carl and wife, Jill, and their four kids were coming along with her sister, Trish, and husband, Robert, and their three children.
When they were added to their two kids, it made a total of fifteen. The only redeeming part was that each family would travel in a separate Mars Recreational Vehicle.
The MRV was somewhat similar to the Earth RV. It had over sized balloon tires with a very high frame that could climb almost any obstacle. One big difference was its nuclear power plant. The MRV was a self-contained unit that was pressurized. It was indeed a home away from home, but it was cramped for a living space, and he foresaw squabblings along the way.
He went to each vehicle and performed a systems check. They would be traveling the wide open spaces for much of their 800 mile journey. Fortunately, he had a Dro-mech that would be able to fix almost anything. The only worry was if a part failed for which there was no replacement. He put that worry aside. There was no reason to borrow trouble, which only paid nasty dividends.
An hour later, all the systems were checked and he said, “PCC; com-link; Jansen family; Okay guys, it is time to get this show on the road.”
Charles was firmly strapped into his seat. The “road” to Mars One Colony was traveled infrequently. They started out at fifteen miles an hour, which was truly a snail's pace, but the hazards of the road prevented them from going any faster.
The MRV had the latest technology. The Terrain Analyzer was one tool they could not do without. It bounced sound waves off the road continuously and displayed data from the results.
The TA display read, Turn 12 degrees to port, crater on the starboard side. He passed on the information to the other MRV's and made the adjustments. He was grateful that the day cycle on Mars was very close to that of Earth. They would travel while it was daylight (12 hours) then camp though the night.
The journey for him was extremely boring. The terrain was mostly the same hour after hour. At least, the rest of the family could watch mods or engage in other activities. The MRV had an auto mode, but he would never trust it. There were too many reports of accidents.
That first day had to be the longest on record, and there were still six long days to go. On the third day just after midday, Charles noted that the horizon was indistinct, which meant a dust storm. Dust storms on Mars were extremely dangerous. He sent a message for everyone to stop.
The MRV had two stabilizers on each side, and the stabilizers also had anchors. The head of the anchor looked like a giant screw. It was almost five feet long. Once the stabilizers were in place, Charles entered a code into one of the anchors and set the timer for ten seconds. A strong explosive charge sent the anchor deep into the Martian ground. It took most of an hour to set all the anchors.
The MRV shook like a rat in a cat's mouth. Penny said, “How much longer will this storm last?”
Charles tried to keep a calm face. This second day of the storm seemed to be worse than the first. “The weather report does not show relief any time soon.”
Somehow, they survived the three day storm with minimal damage, which the Dro-mech was able to easily repair.
* * *
All the MRV's came to a halt. Everyone departed the vehicles to look at the chasm that stretched out in both directions for as far as they could see.
Carl said, “Do we have enough material to build a bridge?”
Charles sighed. “That was my first thought as well, but we will need the support of Mars One Colony to do that.”
“So what do we do now?” Penny asked.
“Fortunately, Mars One is only seven hours away, so I will send a message,” Charles replied with a smile.
For the next two days, they all watched as Mars One Colony built a bridge from the other side of the chasm. The colony had builder-bots and the material to get the job done. There was a tremendous celebration when the bridge was finished.
Penny said, “Grandfather's birthday is tomorrow. We're going to make it just on time.”
“Yes, so we need to get moving again.” Charles was nervous as the MRV moved out onto the bridge. He tried to look toward the horizon. The drop to the bottom of the chasm was too scary to contemplate.
The rest of the trip to Mars One Colony went quickly. Charles smiled to see banners strung about the colony welcoming them. The MRV's all came to a stop. There was a massive building that served as the colony's meeting hall, and they all entered it.
Grandpa sat in an Airchair. He looked rather sprite for his age. He said, “I don't know what all the fuss is about. I'm only a 100. I expect to live another 100. What kind of party will you throw for me then?”
Penny laughed. “It is so good to see you Grandpa. I could almost believe you'll live another 100 years.”
“What kind of nonsense is this 'almost believe;' of course I will, The Cyborg Corporation guarantees it.” As he levitated off his chair, the blanket fell away, and his robotic body was revealed. “Isn't modern technology wonderful?”