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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Saturday, Sol 38 (001.2.38)  14:30 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Tuesday, 12 April 2016  2:00 PM PDT 
  • Distance traveled:  166,726,440 kilometers   Time Delay:  4 mins 12 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  225,683,312 kilometers

Within thirty minutes of Megan DeLuca’s arrival, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center was filled with ESEP Security and San Jose Police. Megan had three layers of vetted ESEP security around her and no one, not even the San Jose Police, were allowed close to her. ESEP administration ran background checks on any hospital staff that attended to her and once cleared, they were given provisional ESEP security badges.

Based on the tranquilizer given to Joseph on the Sagan, the attending physician quickly determined that Megan had been given something similar. She was given a drug to counteract the tranquilizer and she regained movement and speech minutes later.

The toll of the attack at the spa was heavy. Megan’s personal assistant, Emily, was killed. Two ESEP security people were killed in the subsequent bomb blast, and two were injured. Twelve employees and fourteen customers were killed in the blast, and over twenty were injured. ESEP managed to get Emily’s body, and the body of the FSB assassin out before the blast.

It was standard procedure to recover ESEP personnel and anyone harming, or threatening to harm ESEP staff whether they were alive or dead from a scene. Local law enforcement didn’t like the policy, and it was against the law in most countries, but ESEP was able to stretch diplomatic privileges in any situation that involved the security of the internationally operated Mars space program.

Ken gave a briefing to the Command staff of what had been learned in the past day. Ken said,

“…the masseuse had been hired by the spa last month after Megan had been promoted. Apparently the FSB knew she used that spa and set a plan into motion to assassinate her. Some of us believe that they might not have intended to kill her when they put the agent in place. FSB strategy has been to put people in places of contact with the intention of gaining the confidence of ESEP personnel, and then obtaining information, or in an attempt to influence them, but after the breach was discovered at ESEP, we believe the FSB, and most likely, Vladimir Putin, was seeking revenge.

Megan’s personal assistant, Emily, saved Megan’s life by sacrificing her own. She apparently heard the pop when the other masseuse was killed and raised the alarm, then walked in the room, forcing the assassin to deal with her. When the security team reached the room, the assassin was within a second of plunging the hypodermic needle into Megan’s heart.

The method of kill was also meant to send a message. It was the same method used to kill Joseph. Megan and Jessica’s tea was drugged, and the assassin had two syringes. It is believed she planned on killing Megan, and her friend Jessica. Putin wanted to make it clear who was responsible, and wanted to let us know that killing ESEP staff was not enough, but anyone associated with us.

The bomb was meant to be insurance that the job would be done, and meant to cover up any useful evidence that might be left behind. Fortunately, our security team pulled out the assassin and her bag before the bomb went off. We probably won’t gain much useful information on the assassin, because her existence only extends back for three years; however, we are building a solid knowledge of how the FSB plants agents into foreign countries. They have a consistent pattern that law enforcement agencies around the world are using to identify FSB agents.

Already the United States has discovered hundreds of potential FSB agents in the Republican party. Putin’s endorsement of Donald Trump was not a coincidence.”

Ken sat down and Jenna said,

“I think we can relax a little on the Sagan. We lost one of our Command sections, but we were able to recover both ICP drive sections. We will miss Jeramy, and work through that loss, but we can stand down. The likelihood of a FSB agent being aboard is remote. We have vetted all the Charlie One crew and they all have cleared the investigations.

Let’s start focusing on Mars, again. In a little over a week, we will be halfway to our rendezvous with Mars. With the added crew and equipment, our mission has new possibilities. I think we should move our current plan aside and start rethinking the entire mission. Let’s start discussing a new strategy at tomorrow morning’s briefing.

That’s all for now.”

The Command team broke up and began leaving, but Jenna kept Ken. When they were alone she said, “Putin’s not going to stop, is he?” “No,” Ken replied, “I have some ideas of how to deal with him, but I need to be Earthside.” Jenna’s eyes became wide, “We can send you back. We have a spare ICP Drive, but that means you’ll not be going all the way to Mars.” Ken said, “It won’t do any good for me to reach Mars, only to have more people die Earthside.”

Jenna said, “Make your plans and pick out a return crew. We’ll discuss this with the Command team at mess. You have an ideal window to get back. Mars and Earth won’t be this close for two years.” Ken responded, “I know. It seems bizarre that we’ve taken 48 Earth days to get this far, and it will take me a little over two weeks to get back.”

Ken then added, “We should not let Earthside know, yet.” Jenna nodded, “We can keep it quiet until Claude needs to know…Ken, is it as bad as I think?”

Ken said, “If you think we’re at war with Putin, it’s as bad as you think.”