Chapter 15.4

Once on the ground, it was a short six-minute drive from Ellington Air Force Base to the Johnson Space Center. No one in the ATAC party seemed to be all that concerned, neither with the posted speed limit nor with the traffic signals during the wee hours of the morning.

With having previously been a regular fixture on the base and being well known by the Space Center checkpoint personnel, Commander Cody easily gained access to his objective. Known as a man of integrity and honor, his word was good enough for them as he vouched for Captain Thomas and his men. Had there been any idea of the firepower in the car’s trunk, the base would have been locked down tight. Assuming a jovial attitude, Ty informed the guards that he and the others had arrived for the anticipated Mars landing.

Ty had stopped using his cane a little over a month ago, but hadn’t done much exercising in nearly a year and a half. As he marched along with his entourage, his leg began aching, but the determination in his gait masked most of his pain, which was only slightly evident in his limp.

In the Mission Support arena, there had been a general murmur over the past three hours, with voices steadily growing louder and more apprehensive. Technicians were frantically trying to redirect additional satellites to search the path which the Hab would have taken after firing the thrusters, while others were busy trying to re-establish contact with Bolo One. As the craft had apparently fallen silent, just as it was firing the thrusters, the team at Mission Support was fearing the worst. So, Mars Observer was directed to scan the Hab’s last known co-ordinates as it came round the planet and into range. As the satellite breeched the horizon, it captured an image of multiple objects burning through the atmosphere. It was feared that the crew of six had been lost.

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