Chapter 16.1

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 (Wallyday, Aries 30, 0031)

“Bolo One, this is Houston”, began a well-modulated voice, with Commander Tyler Cody’s countenance suddenly appearing on the craft’s monitor. “We received your marvelous transmission. First of all, I want to let you know that Commander Morgan Lewis has now been officially relieved of duty. And, I’ve recently resumed active duty. We send our most heart-felt congratulations on your historic, successful landing on the surface of Mars.

“Secondly, I have just conferred with the staff here in the control room, getting up to speed after my extended absence, and they have assured me that the methane and oxygen tanks are all holding full pressure. Apparently, if the drill penetrated the outer hull, it missed the tanks, and the area containing the tanks was unpressurized anyway, so no harm done. Be sure to plug those leaks before pressurizing that area, if and when you need to do so.

“I can also assure you, we do not have any robotic rovers or other homicidal machines in your area. Therefore, if in your best judgment, you feel the safety of the crew and/or the mission is in jeopardy, feel free to take whatever action you deem necessary to defend yourselves. As the round trip communication lag time is currently approaching sixteen and a half minutes, I assume you have already taken such action.

Ty continued, his voice getting scratchy and eyes shining with unshed tears, “Claire Base… Thanks for that, Tom. That particular name means the world to me. And, from the images we are seeing on our monitors, Penny Bright Crater is also aptly named as a tribute to the memory of your beautiful wife. Please give us a read on those rock piles at your earliest convenience. I’m sure there must be some significance to the stockpiling.

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