THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 48
…We have two people alive on Mars and we will not rest until they are safe, back here on Earth!…
“Space Colony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” A dazed technician stands, face paled by disbelief.
“It’s gone…” All he can do is point at the mission mockup and the flashing light that no longer shows an orbit line around Mars. With all the distractions, no one had been monitoring the status lights; one green blink on the surface, none in orbit.
“Mr. Crippen, what has happened,” Aldona Afridi has more than a passing interest in the goings on?
Roy frantically seeks out key faces around the room. Total shock applies, with some tears on the move, spreading among most of the assembled 100.
They mourn the realization that any further contact with the McKinneys, now helplessly stranded on the Plain of Xanthe, would be impossible. The orbiting Colony was their only lifeline and that now seems utterly destroyed.
As good a good leader does, Roy Crippen collects his thoughts and regroups. There are contingency plans for such an unthinkable occurrence as this. He must sort through the options; no matter how limited they seem at this point.
“Mr. Frodo… sorry Afridi,” he has Tolkien on his brain.
“We will be in touch with you in the near future. In fact I will arrange for you and your family to be picked up by American operatives in Turkey. Thank you for trying to warn us, perhaps we will find a place for you after all. Please leave your contact info with Mr. King.”
“I thank you for your kind offer, but isn’t the Space Colony project now terminated,” assumes the guilt-ridden accidental coconspirator?
“We have two people alive on Mars and we will not rest until they are safe, back here on Earth!”
The McKinneys are aware that Roy Crippen will not give up on them.
“Please ready the Mayflower for immediate liftoff,” Crippen commands, “zero hundred hours. No later!”
A rare midnight launch and don’t spare the afterburners!!