2016, artificial gravity, astronauts, communications, crew morale, Earth Space Exploration Program, engineering, ESEP, ESS Carl Sagan, Jenna Wade, Ken Hart, Mars, Mars Mission 2016, NASA, Noctis Labyrinthus, Noctis Standard Time, NST, Pacific Standard Time, science, space, space travel, spacecraft
- Mars Date/Time: Year 1, Sur Two, Thursday, Sol 1 (1.2.1) 15:52 NST
- Earth Date/Time: Saturday, 5 March 2016 2:00 PM PST
- Distance traveled: 29,740,392 kilometers Time Delay: 96 secs
- Distance to Mars Rendezvous: 362,669,360 kilometers
Keira and Zeke had been sent to inspect the four construction pods. Zeke took the opportunity to give Keira a quick orientation on the construction pods and what they could and couldn’t do. She and Zeke had a pilot to pilot understanding and she worked with Zeke a few times at Earth Prime, so they had already developed a friendship.
Zeke was telling Keira a story about a pod pilot that failed to close the pod’s interior hatch before undocking when they both were ordered to report to the Auxiliary Command deck.
As they floated down the core they noticed the lights were down near the hab sections. The only thing glowing were the color coded gravity indicator lights running down the Command Quill. They headed down into the Quill to determine the problem, but at the entrance to the third section there were two people in space suits blocking their way. The sun visors were down so they couldn’t tell who was in the suits.
The space suit on their left held out its hand. His voice was coming through the ship’s intercom and he said, “Halt! You are not one with us!” The second space suit pointed at Keira. It was a female voice and they recognized it to be the First Officer, Anna, who said, “What is your name Earthling!” Keira kind of smiled and said, “Keira?” Anna then insisted, “YOUR FULL NAME!” Keira shrugged and said, “Keira Choi.” Anna fired back,”Your REAL Full Name!”
Keira was a little mystified. Her father was Korean and her mother was Japanese, but Keira had lived in the United States since she started school. Her first teacher called her Keira, which she discovered made it easier to fit in with the other kids. She hadn’t used her real first name in two decades. Keira quietly responded, “Mariko Choi.”
Zeke was a little surprised by this revelation that Keira’s name was not Keira, but he didn’t have long to consider it as the male spacesuit pointed at him and demanded, “WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME?” Zeke looked at him and said, “Ezekiel Apollo Jackson.” The voice continued, “Mariko Choi and Ezekiel Apollo Jackson, you are to go immediately to the Command deck and await your trial!”
The two in spacesuits moved aside and Keira and Zeke continued down the Quill. The sections were still dark until they reached the Command deck in section five, but lights in that section came on as they passed through the threshold. Crew members were standing at the edge of each deck as they moved into the section and came to the Rear Admiral and Commodore’s deck.
There the Director of Science, Lanny Deaton, and the Director of Communications, Naomi Pierce had them move on to the deck where Jenna and Ken were standing. Ken began, “Mariko Choi and Ezekiel Apollo Jackson. You stand accused of failure to be assimilated. How do you plead?”
Zeke timidly said, “Guilty?” At this all the crew began stomping their feet and yelling out “Guilty!”
Ken said, “Mariko Choi and Ezekiel Apollo Jackson you have been found guilty…” At this Keira said, “I didn’t say I was guilty.” At this Ken said, “A Denier! She must be cleansed! Take her to the showers! At this crew members moved in to Keira and started to take her off the deck and she yelled, “WAIT, WAIT…I’m guilty, I’m guilty, just like Zeke.” At this the crew moved away from her and Ken resumed, “As I was saying, you have been found guilty and are to be sentenced immediately! Rear Admiral Wade, the suspects are guilty and await your sentencing.”
Jenna stepped forward, held a cup with a clear liquid in it and said, “Crew of the ESS Carl Sagan. We have two that have been found guilty of failure to be assimilated. As today, the first day of Sur Two, is declared to be Assimilation Day, I, as Rear Admiral of this mission to Mars do assign the sentence for Mariko Choi and Ezekiel Apollo Jackson be made to drink this Potion of Assimilation.”
At that point she gave the cup to Keira who tentatively sipped from the cup to the boos of the crew. Jenna put the cup to Keira’s lips and tipped it up until she had emptied it. A small amount spilled from each corner of her mouth and she shuddered as she swallowed it. Naomi stepped forward and filled the cup halfway. Jenna turned to Zeke who reached for the cup and downed the contents without spilling any, then he held out the cup to Naomi for more. Wild laughter broke out among the crew.
Amid the noise and celebration all monitors in the Command section went black. Everyone stopped and looked at the blank screens. Seconds later all the screens were filled with the following message: