Written by James K. Sterling Jr.

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The next morning the news that greeted him wasn’t what James wanted to hear. There had been three bombing attempts during the early morning hours. James had struggled to sleep for so long he slept right through the alarms and intercom notifications. “Three more fucking bombs?” He thought to himself as he dressed for the day ahead. Looking down the bunks he saw Brian, one of his most trusted confidants.

“Hey, what do you think of the shit Mary was just in my ear about?”

Brian walked down and lent down with both hands still on the top bunk. “Well Jimmy, we might be fucked!”

“Right?!?” They both laughed genuinely, even if a little nervously. There was no sense in freaking out about that shit too much or it would cloud their judgment and hinder the mission.

As James walked towards mission control he made a call back to Mary Jo. “So you said we have those chips all fixed that you were so worried about?”

“Yeah, I finished it last night during the chaos. Why, you handing out medals because that was pretty much a miracle?” She smiled at some volunteers and motioned for them to exit the room she was in. “Jim, did you hear me, where is my medal man?”

“Oh, hahaha! I’ll get right on that the second we land on Mars. That’s what I was calling about. We’re leaving tonight.” James entered mission control as he spoke the words. “Did you hear that everyone? Today. The risks are becoming to great with every moment that we aren’t up in the air. Now what’s it gonna take?” The room had went silent. With no one answering one of the young men decided to speak up.

“Well, we just got word that Mary Jo and her team completed the chip diagnostic tests this morning and everything checks out okay now so, I guess whenever the weather permits we’d be okay to go. I mean, the trip will take considerably more time than the six months we had planned but that really shouldn’t matter as long as everyone is up for it.”

This guy knew what he was talking about. When he wasn’t building the world’s first DMT vaporizer delivery system, he had designed the modified liquid fluoride thorium reactor to fit the energy needs of the spacecraft and their terrestrial dwelling once they had arrived. Joe Smith. That was the name he claimed. Nobody knew if that was his real name, what with it sounding so generic though, it was a general suspicion everyone had. James knew him as Drew but he never spilled the secret. What could anyone do? He was amazing at what he did and he was handpicked through their “rigorous” selection process. Plus, he was a long time friend of James and the crew had already given him enough shit about the people he hired who they did know he knew. It was best kept between “Joe” and him.

“So today then, good! Alright, everyone get their shit and get ready ao we can get this fucking heap off the ground before those bastards bomb us and strand us here forever!”

A raucous applause rang throughout the room and boomed down the hallways as the news spread. They were getting off this rock…for good…