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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Sunday, Sol 29 (1.1.29)  1:29 PM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Monday, 1 February 2016  2:25 PM PST

The possibility that carbon dioxide was building up to dangerous levels in the Command deck once again crossed Castillo’s mind. He shook off the thought and continued the ceremony. He leaned to Mr. Duncan and quietly gave him a ‘go’ signal. 

Mr. Duncan was a former Marine and he was all business. His function at ESEP was Director of Security. Castillo knew Duncan was the person to bring order and dignity to this ceremony.

Duncan marched to the edge of the platform, looked straight ahead and announced, “CAPTAIN HART, REPORT!” Captain Hart, also former military, moved to Castillo and stood at attention. Castillo began,

Captain Kenneth Hart, you are given the command of the Queen Elizabeth II and also of the Carl Sagan. Upon arrival at Mars you will establish and assume command of Mars Spaceport Prime.

However, we have learned we have a problem.

When her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth was briefed on this mission she apparently pointed out an issue we have overlooked. She asked how can one person be Captain of two ships. She is, of course, correct. For this reason ESEP has promoted you to the rank of Commodore effective immediately.

During the enthusiastic applause Castillo took a small open box with his Commodore’s new insignia and a folder containing documentation of his new rank and his written orders and gave it to Hart.

Hart was not forewarned that he was being promoted. As he absorbed the announcement he realized that ESEP had solved an issue that he hadn’t thought of before. His status as Commodore would place him in charge of all activity to and from Mars Spaceport Prime, which would be odd for a Captain. Promoting him to Commodore made perfect sense.

Castillo reached out and shook Hart’s hand and warmly congratulated him, then leaned into him and quietly asked, “Are we going to have a carbon dioxide issue in here?” Hart replied, “You mean too many sets of lungs in here?” Trying not to show concern Castillo said, “EXACTLY!” Hart leaned into the Director’s ear and said, “No, we’ve upped the air. We’re good.” The Director smiled with relief and said, “Oh thank goodness, the last thing we need is alarms going off during the ceremony.” Hart replied, “Oh we turned off the alarms. If there is a problem we’ll all just die.” Hart smiled and backed away. Castillo hoped he was joking.