2016, astronauts, communications, Earth, Earth Space Exploration Program, engineering, ESEP, ESS Carl Sagan, Jenna Wade, Ken Hart, Mars, Mars Mission 2016, Noctis Labyrinthus, Noctis Standard Time, NST, Russia, space, space travel, spacecraft, spacecraft design, Zeke Jackson
- Mars Date/Time: Year 001, Sur Two, Wednesday, Sol 35 (001.2.35) 16:26 NST
- Earth Date/Time: Saturday, 9 April 2016 2:00 PM PDT
- Distance traveled: 155,911,752 kilometers Time Delay: 4 mins 12 secs
- Distance to Mars Rendezvous: 236,498,00 kilometers
There had been no movement in the cargo area, nor any sign of life in the construction pod where Zeke believed Lars Wilson, the FSB agent, was hiding. It had been almost twenty-four hours and Jenna’s Plan A, to nab Lars outside the pod, had failed. It was time to put Plan B into action.
There were several steps to the plan. First, two crew members, Ian and Peyton, were to approach the hatch to the construction pod from inside the cargo area. They would listen and try to confirm that someone was in the pod. Regardless, the second step would involve Jeramy, who was already in a space suit and waiting outside the Quill, near the pod, to attach a tow line.
Zeke was in another pod hiding near Jeramy, holding position with the other end of the tow line attached. As soon as the tow line was hooked up, Zeke will move away from the ship. At the same time, Ian and Peyton will release the docking clamps holding Lars’ pod to the ship, and Zeke will pull it away from the Sagan. Jeramy is also prepared to drill a hole in the pod to breach it, rendering Lars unconscious within a few minutes. This will likely require him to stay with the pod after it detaches. It will all take place in seconds.
Ian and Peyton quietly moved into the cargo area and to the hatch where the pod was docked. The inner hatch was closed and sealed, but they couldn’t tell from the camera view if the pod hatch was closed. If it wasn’t, the plan wouldn’t work because the docking clamps couldn’t be released without both hatches closed.
As they approached they realized that the pod hatch was open. Peyton backed out of the area and let the team know the situation by using a coded message. She said, “Zeke, I can’t meet you for dinner. If you’re willing to wait, I can meet you later.”
Plan C was trickier. It meant that Ian and Peyton would open the hatch and try to grab Lars. Two other crew members joined them for the assault. Ian and one of the Charlie One crew members, Diego, stood ready to move into the pod, while Peyton stood behind them with holding a taser over their shoulders. She would shoot Lars and paralyze him, while Ian and Diego leapt into the pod and grabbed him. The fourth person, another of the Charlie crew, Sam, would open the hatch. Once they had the hatch open, the docking clamps could not be released, even if he managed to get the pod hatch open.
Sam held up five fingers to give them a silent countdown from five. Sam folded in her thumb, then one finger at a time. When she made a fist, she pressed the button and the hatch began softly clicking, then the hatch began to open…and then it stopped. Sam saw it first, a small wire was keeping the hatch from opening. She grabbed the hatch and took the pressure off the wire. She said, “It’s a booby trap!” They all froze.
Ian made a quick survey of the interior through the partially opened hatch. Lars was not in the pod, but there was a device wired to a small fuel pellet. It was luck and fast action that prevented the wire from pulling out and triggering the device. It looked to be a simple trigger. The wire was hooked on the hatch and it was just a matter of unhooking it. It was a trap in case someone got too curious about the pod, and it almost killed at least four people.
Peyton called again, this time her voice was less convincing. She said, “Uhm, Zeke, I’m not sure if we can meet later. I have a new problem to deal with and I need to call Jeramy for advice. I’ll call you when I’m done.” Sam immediately called on her tablet, “Zeke and Jeramy, I’m with Peyton. Just stay there and we’ll come to you.”
Sam immediately began typing a message to the entire team. It said,
“Lars not on pod. Booby trap w fuel pellet. Unhooked trigger wire. Close hatches & release pod? Z pull pod away? J ride pod out & open pod & dispose of bomb?”
Within seconds came the response from Jenna, “Go.”