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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Tuesday, Sol 46 (1.1.46)  2:09 AM NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Wednesday, 18 February 2016  2:00 PM PST

Everyone at ESEP knows the Director of Security as “Mr. Duncan,” and only a handful know his first name is Edward. Mr. Duncan is a former Marine with Special Forces training who rarely lets his ‘all business’ persona down. He is not the type of man you would feel comfortable calling him by his first name. 

Duncan had wanted to send a Security officer on the first Mars mission, but that idea was declined. Instead he was allowed to train four of the crew in security and safety procedures that were above and beyond their normal responsibilities. They were also sent to a Special Forces boot camp for five weeks. The four were Anna Flores, the First Officer, Jeramy Prater, the Munitions Officer, Ian Banks and Peyton Rhodes who were both reserve members of the crew. 

It was just after 2:00 AM NST when he got a call from Ian on the ESS Queen Elizabeth II. He was sleeping, but he answered the call within three seconds, “Security Actual.” Ian said, “Mr. Duncan, I’m sorry if I woke you.” Duncan did not do pleasantries and said, “What’s the problem.” “It’s happened again,” Ian replied. Duncan was now completely awake and said, “Same place?” Ian said, “Not exactly, but the same section, and the same equipment. Should I wake the Admiral?” Duncan’s mind went into combat mode. He said, “No. I’ll set up a call for later this morning. Send me pictures of where it was and a report on how you found it. Be sure you give me the section number. I need it within thirty minutes….and then stand guard in that section until I send relief,” He ended the call before Ian could respond.

It was shortly before 6:00 AM NST that Jenna checked in with the Comm Center. Paige was on night shift again. Paige said, “Good morning, Admiral. How did you sleep?” Jenna smiled. Four days ago she thought Paige would be leaving the crew, but now Paige was the morale officer of positive emotions. Jenna responded, “Great actually. How was your night?” Paige said, “Good. Ian has some issue that came up last night. Mr. Duncan has set up a call with you and the Director to talk about it. I tried to schedule it for eight, but Mr. Duncan insisted it be at 6:30.” Jenna said, “No problem. I’ll get ready and come up.” Paige quickly replied, “Oh, Mr. Duncan wants you to take it in your quarters.” Jenna was now more concerned, “Alright. Where’s Ian?” Paige scrunched up her forehead and said, “He’s in one of the cargo sections. Apparently Mr. Duncan asked him to guard something.”  Now Jenna was really concerned.

Jenna showered and dressed, then went up to the mess and prepared a breakfast ration then returned to her quarters. She had made tea and was scanning her emails. She was tempted to contact Ian to find out what was going on, but she learned a long time ago that sometimes it’s better to let information come to you than to try to out maneuver the messenger.

At exactly 6:30, she was sitting at her workstation and the message icon began blinking. She touched it and the Director, Nick Castillo appeared on one screen and Mr. Duncan appeared on another. Nick and Jenna said, “Good morning,” but Mr. Duncan said, “I have Commodore Dubois and Commodore Hart on standby and I’d like them to join this call.” Jenna said, “I’m fine with it.” and Nick nodded. On two more screens Claude DuBois, the Commodore of the spaceport, and Ken Hart, the Commodore of both ships, appeared.

After they said, “Good morning,” Jenna broke in, “Mr. Duncan, would you care to explain why one of my crew is guarding an non-hab cargo section?” Jenna had not been accusatory, but everyone knew that Mr. Duncan had no authority to order any of her crew to do anything.

Duncan knew that he was on thin ice and did something he rarely did. He apologized, “Admiral, I apologize for my actions. I needed someone to keep a watch on the area and I didn’t want to wake you up to get authorization to put one of my people on board.” Jenna understood, but she knew she would have to talk to her crew about taking orders from others.

Nick said, “What’s the problem?” Duncan continued, “When we performed security sweeps four days ago on your ship we found some equipment that was not registered in one of the cargo sections. It was some oxygen equipment and a low pressure, thermal suit. I didn’t want to alarm anyone because there could have been several reasons for it to be there by accident. We logged it, removed the equipment, and I notified your security crew to check the section periodically and report anything unusual.”

Jenna asked, “What happened last night?” Duncan corrected her, “This morning actually. Ian was on night shift and decided to check the section. At about two AM he found another pressure suit and oxygen.”

Ken said what everyone was thinking, “We have someone who wants to join our crew.”