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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 1, Sur One, Tuesday, Sol 59 (1.1.59)  17:10 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Thursday, 3 March 2016  2:00 PM PST
  • Distance traveled:  22,530,600 kilometers   Time Delay:  72 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  369,879,152 kilometers

Nick was glad that Jenna was over 22 million kilometers away from the people around him. He didn’t think she was a violent person, but she would have cause to injure the Director of ESEP Engineering, Paul-Henri Giroux. He and several top engineers had demanded this meeting to ‘get the Admiral set straight.’

In a usual move, the engineers had found an ally in the ESEP Counseling team. Their concerns about crew morale seemed to be strengthened by the radical merger of the two ships in less than forty minutes. It demonstrated that the leadership of the Mars mission was asserting their independence from ESEP and that, from an organizational standpoint, was a possible symptom of instability of leadership.

Paul-Henri had his engineers go through a long list of procedures that had been violated or performed out of sequence in the deconstruction of the Queen Elizabeth II, and the merger with the Carl Sagan. His twenty-minute presentation of engineering sins was meant to emphasize the concerns of the ESEP Counseling team.

Jenna patiently waited until Paul-Henri was through. There was now a one minute and twelve second delay in her receiving the video. About two and a half minutes later Jenna responded,

“I believe you’re correct. Our crew violated all of those procedures. What you fail to understand is that those procedures were for ship deconstruction and construction under your strict clinical limitations. Limitations that are outdated and over cautious. We’re past clinical ship construction and now we are doing it. We rewrote the procedures and sent them to you. We weren’t asking for your approval because it would be a waste of everyone’s time. As for our mental state and motivations, we have learned something in the short time we’ve been a crew. We’ve learned that Mars doesn’t favor the cautious or the timid. It would be easy to let every problem or issue chop away at us and reduce our confidence. What you are a witness to is our response to the challenge that is before us. We are going to Mars, not to Disney World. We have to step up our game, and we are. I would suggest you do the same.”

The silence was deafening. Jenna did not step on anyone’s toes, rather, she took a hammer and crushed them.

Paul-Henri broke the silence and he knew his words wouldn’t reach the Rear Admiral until after he finished, “Nick, I’m sure the problem is obvious. I know this makes it difficult for you, but it is apparent that the Rear Admiral must be relieved of command.”

Nick looked down, and then looked at Jenna on the main monitor. Finally, he spoke,

“Jenna, I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go…………..to do whatever you need to get done. My apologies for putting you through this, but I had to find out if they could handle the transition. Paul-Henri, thank you for your service to ESEP. You’ll find Mr. Duncan has some people waiting outside the room to help you transition out of ESEP. People, there will be other changes and some of you are going to be leaving ESEP tomorrow. You’re role was important to get us where we are; however, that role is complete. We now have an operational space program and our new role is one of consultant and advisor, not overlord and master. We don’t make the decisions, the crews do. NASA got bogged down with people who never left the ground, trying to tell the people in space how to do their job. That isn’t going to happen here. Counseling team, I think it’s great that Wendy is willing to work with you. If she ever decides that you are not a valuable resource for her, you’re gone. She, and every other Counselor on a mission will be your superior. I don’t have time for your second guessing and contrary analysis. You’re not there, so don’t pretend you know more than Wendy or the Command team of the ship. You either make the transition to your new role or you walk. “

Nick ended abruptly. He then turned and looked at the monitor. “Jenna, again, my apologies. I think we now have an understanding among the ESEP team. I got your notes on the holiday. Assimilation Day. I like it. I would like to share a drink with your crew on the first around five in the afternoon if they’re up for it. Maybe we can get ESEP to the point of assimilating with your team by tomorrow….but it may take us a little longer. Sleep well tonight, you deserve it!”