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One Way To Mars
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given the order to put on helmets and belt up for landing, when there was a slight bang and they
fell like a stone. Foreman had just secured Monkley in the harness in his cage, when down they
went. He had tried to return to the others in the main cockpit and his seat, when they began
spinning out of control. The 'G' forces were Foreman's final undoing, and he was out for the
count until Monkley woke him. How the GenMoP, Genetically Modified Primate, had freed
himself, wasn't something Foreman had time to concern himself with. Not when several fires
Monkley started to panic, being after all, just a glorified chimpanzee. Turning his air supply on,
Foreman opened the airlock and attacked the main exit hatch. That side of the ship had sustained
minimal damage, so the hatch opened with a hiss as the pressure equalised. Monkley beat him
outside, and Foreman jumped down, not bothering with the steps, landing heavily on the soft
sand just a few feet below. Monkley jumped up on his shoulders, and wrapped his arms about his
neck, and Foreman began running. He made fifteen paces before the ship exploded behind them,
sending them crashing to the ground.
'That's gratitude for saving your hairy backside.' Wiping the sand off his visor, he turned to look
back at the ship. 'Right. Cremation it is, then.'
The ensuing explosions reduced the small craft to a tangled shell within minutes. He sat with
Monkley for a while, and with a sigh, got to his feet. One thing they didn't have the luxury of was
time. They had about twenty three hours of suited oxygen each before they would be as dead as
the others. Only three humans had died on Mars, and Foreman didn't want the dubious honour of
being the fourth. They had one shot at surviving, and one only. Find the base.
It looked hopeless. They might as well have been in the Sahara desert as far as he could see.
Ahead of them was a large dune. From the summit they could get a clear view for miles.
'Come on, Monkley.'
Holding Monkley's hand, they climbed the dune. When they reached the top, they scanned the
'Nice beach. I guess the tide must be out.'
'You and me both. Sorry, pal. We know there are pockets of what we call water here and there,
but we'd need to dig one hell of a hole to get at it. The little ice caps are mostly frozen carbon
dioxide with more than a dash of acid. Not recommended. We gotta find the base or...We gotta
find the base.'
Wishing he had paid more attention, Foreman scanned the horizon. He knew the planet was
smaller than Earth, and the lower gravity meant he weighed less than half of what he would on
Earth. At least that made it easier to make some distance.
'Ah. Now. See that? Biggest damn mountain in the solar system. I mean huge. Now. The base is
less than fifty miles away from there. I guess we might as well head that way.'