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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Friday, Sol 34 (1.1.34)  9:21 PM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Sunday, 7 February 2016  1:30 AM PST

Roman Guzman, the Director of Engineering had left the Rear Admiral’s quarters 45 minutes ago, and the ship’s physician, Kayla Summers just left. Rear Admiral Jenna Wade was now alone with Wendy Stevens.

In the last two hours they had discussed the mental and emotional health of the entire crew, with the exception of the four people who were in the meeting. Wade knew what came next.

Stevens began, “Why did you select Guzman?” Wade replied, “You mean to bring into this meeting?” Stevens responded, “No, I know why you did that. He needs to see the bigger picture and you included him so he would understand the human aspect of this mission…but why did you select him for the crew, and as the Director?”

Wade had been asked to be the Director of the first Mars mission almost three years ago and the given the Commander position in late 2014. She didn’t immediately pick her crew, but rather choose people to work in various functions on the project and evaluated them as potential crew members. She had brought Guzman into ESEP within weeks of taking the Director job in 2013, and he was the first person to be selected on her crew. No one had ever asked why.

Wade said, “You know I brought him into ESEP before right after I was made project director.” Stevens said, “Yes, and I know he came out of the Royal Navy like you did, but he served on one of the ships after you, correct?” Wade smiled and said, “Sort of, I was a Commander on the HMS Illustrious until 2009 and then left the Royal Navy for ESEP in 2010.” Stevens interrupted, “You were a shining star on the Illustrious and the Royal Navy probably wanted you for the HMS Queen Elizabeth II.”

Wade laughed and said, “I was good at handling events and planning and we were the best ship the Royal Navy had left for PR events. As for the HMS QE, I would have liked to serve on her, but I’m not convinced she’ll ever come out of dry dock. Regardless, after I left the Illustrious was put into a refit. As it was it was coming out of the refit they were having multiple systems problems. In early 2011, I was asked to take a short leave to return to the Illustrious to get it back on schedule.”

Stevens interrupted again, “And that’s when you met Roman Guzman.” “Not exactly,” Wade replied, then continued, “There was a Chief Engineer on the Illustrious that was a blowhard. I kept after him for answers to a fuel flow problem we were having and he kept giving me excuses. Then one day the problem is solved and the Chief Engineer claimed the solution came to him in a dream. I didn’t buy it and six months later I learned that it was Roman Guzman who figured out the problem and fixed it. I started looking into his record and realized he either was consistently lucky, or very talented in solving problems.”

Stevens said, “He tends to have a myopic view.” Wade replied, “Show me an engineer who doesn’t. He’s loyal to the cause as long as he knows he’s part of it. Are you concerned?” Stevens thought for a moment then said, “Knowing his history helps. It sounds like he is very protective, but that’s okay providing he doesn’t mark out his territory and go to war with you.” “Not a concern.” Wade said, “If he jams in his heels it’s for good reason, otherwise, he’s a team player.”

Wade decided it was time to move on, “Dr. Summers?” Stevens took a drink of wine and said, “I can’t tell much about her that you don’t know. Unfortunately, it will be a crisis situation where I’ll have the best opportunity to assess her, but that probably won’t happen until we’re in route to Mars.” Wade tried to reassure her, “Summers has a lot of ER experience. I think she will be fine.”

Wade knew they had come down to the final crew assessment and said, “And what about me?”