The Red Planet: First Contact
This is a story I am writing for a little bit of fun. It is about Humans going to Mars. I want it to be a trilogy, if I ever get that far. I'll post updates as chapters are finished. Please tell me if I'm doing something wrong, or if you have any Ideas, etc. And, I try to use accents (such as a Russian accent in Chapter 2) I mean no offense if you find it very bad. I try to put into letters what they sound like, and sometimes I am wrong or it sounds funny. I mean no offense. Okay, Enjoy!
The hot, burning sun beat down on Southern Florida. Palm trees waved back and forth gently in the sea-side breeze. A large, metal scaffolding hung in the distance, framed by the shining, blue, Atlantic Ocean. The sun beamed through the holes in the scaffold. A large, white, luminous spaceship leaned up against it. The words The Odyssey were painted in large black letters on its side.
Elias Montgomery was a tall and blonde. His smooth, shaven face made him look much younger than he really was. He was thin, but strong. His heavy accent reflected that he was British by birth. He had moved to the States when he was twenty years old, and had formed the International Search for Life on Mars, or the ISOLM. It now held over three hundred members: technicians, researchers, and engineers.
Elias gazed up at The Odyssey. It was a magnificent sight. He never thought he would live to see the day it would be completed. He and the ISOLM had spent over three years building it. It had been funded by himself and several prominent members of society. Some were movie stars, others were Broadway stars, football players, and baseball players. And that was just a few. And now, it was done. Merely two hours to launch. Time to meet the crew.
Elias walked into a large, round, room. Seated at a desk was a small, wiry man in glasses. Elias slammed his hand on the desk. “What do you have Ron?”
Ron Findulas got up quickly. “There you are. Your half an hour late. What took you?”
“Never mind that. I need a crew. Who do you have?”
Ron motioned to the wall on his left as it rose up from the floor. “We have everything you want: techies, pilots, people with huge guns, we got them all.” An American man walked out. He was wearing a backwards hat, and spoke in a heavy Brooklyn accent.
“What’s up man? My name’s Wes Mandeedril. Don’t ask on that name. Long story. I’m gonna be your pilot from this rock to the big red rock in space. Glad to meet ya captain.
Elias nodded. “Good to have you aboard Wes.” Wes nodded his head slowly then left the room.
Ron checked the notebook on his desk for the next name. “Alright, let me see, ah, yes, Mike. C’mon in Mike!” A tall, broad man wearing an old Marine uniform walked into the room. “Elias, meet former Marine First Lieutenant Michael Wilson.” Mike saluted and then stood in the “at ease” position. “He’s going to be you commander of military operations on the shuttle.”
Elias shook his head. “Ron, what did I tell you? We aren’t even sure if Mars can support life. And, if it can, there may be nobody there. I hope there is, and I hope we can communicate peacefully, but the odds are against us.
“I know that sir, but he can’t hurt. Oh, and he comes with a full platoon of Marines,” Ron said with smirk on his face.
Elias sighed. There was just no talking to some people. Ron firmly believed that a military presence was necessary on Mars. Elias thought differently. If there were people on Mars, he was sure they would be able to resolve any matters peacefully.
Ron checked the list one more time. “Okay, only one name left. And he’s already in here…”
Elias sputtered the water he was drinking all over the office. “You?” he said with a laugh. “You’re coming? What can you do?
Ron smiled. “I will be ship’s head researcher and uber-geek.” He said proudly.
Elias laughed again. “Alright you can come.” He checked his watch, and said “We better get to the ship. It’s almost time for launch.” They walked out of the building, and down the paved walkway. The Odyssey gleamed and sparkled in the hot Florida sun.
Elias punched in a code on a keypad and the pressurized door popped open. They were in the ship’s cargo hold. It was full of boxes of food, toiletries, and weapons. Elias sighed. “I guess we just have to be prepared,” he thought. Weapons definitely took up most of the space. M16’s, M60’s, knifes, RPG’s, and more.
They continued up some winding steps. There were drawers for rock samples, tubes for liquid samples, containers for atmosphere samples, and tubes for living things, big enough to hold two humans comfortably. You just couldn’t be too careful.
They reached the head of The Odyssey. Wes Mandeedril was already seated at the controls, flipping switches and hitting buttons. Elias patted his back and said, “Just prepping for the trip Wes?
“Yeah, just checking rocket pressure, tile coverage, other stuff like that. No need to worry man.”
Elias smiled. “Will do.” Elias put on the headset and checked that the radio worked. Just as he did, a voice crackled over the headset.
“Odyssey, this is Daytona tower. Do you read us?”
Wes responded in his cool, Brooklyn accent. “Yeah, this is The Odyssey. We read you guys.
“Okay,” the voice crackled over the headset again. “We just finished filling up your fuel. You can go whenever you want”
“Okay Daytona tower. We’ll give you the message when we’re ready.” Wes looked at Elias. “Well?”
Elias nodded. “Punch it.”
Wes nodded with a big smile on his face. “Yes sir.” He pushed the transmit button on his radio. “Daytona tower, we are all set. Get everybody outta the way.”
“Roger that Odyssey. We are clearing the launch site now.”
A different voice boomed out loudly over the PA system. “Attention, Attention! Please clear the launch site. I repeat, for your own safety, clear the launch site. We are launching in five minutes.” Elias watched through the round window-hole. People looked like tiny ants on the ground from the height of the cabin. The others that were up on the scaffold were much more visible. They scurried and ran, some quickly, others slowly, but almost all of them carrying some kind of equipment away from The Odyssey.
After a couple of minutes, the voice came back through the radio. “Odyssey, you are clear to launch.”
Wes was almost quivering with excitement. Not bothering to ask whether it was okay or not, he flipped all the switches to the on position. Then he turned to Elias and asked, “Yo, Captain, you wanna do the honors?”
“No, you’re the pilot, you do it Wes.”
Wes nodded. “Thanks man.” Then he added quickly, “I mean Captain Montgomery.” And then, he punched it.
There were a couple of things I noticed here:
Chapter length is pretty good.
Problems I see:
A crew would not simply be picked at last second. They'd have been picked months, even a year or two in advance. They'd have gone through major training, working together and separately. Through this training, they'd get to know each other very well.
In a launch such as this, they'd have a designated launch time, not just sort of 'whenever you feel like it'. The people on the shuttle typically wouldn't have control of the shuttle until it was in space. If I'm thinking correctly, the launch is initiated by people on the ground.
Other than this, it's a pretty good start. You have the potential to be a pretty good storyteller... if you get the details right.
Chapter two. Here you are. Hope you enjoy it.
The space underneath the rocket lit up in a huge explosion. The sound of it was deafening to those close by. Three different rocket thrusters propelled the rocket up into the air. Those on the ground saw an awesome sight. Those inside, were greeted by a great sight and a great thought. They were going to Mars. They were actually going to Mars!
Wes fiddled with the headset until he had it comfortable. “Daytona tower, we have liftoff,” he said with a big grin. “We have liftoff.”
You could almost hear the smile in the tower operator’s voice. “Roger that Odyssey.”
Wes leaned back and put his hands over his head. “Well, captain, we’re on our way. Next stop, the big red rock!
Elias smiled. “Yep. Only 56,327,039 more kilometers to go,” he said with a smirk. “And going at 25,000 kilometers an hour… It’s going to take a while. About 2200 hours if my math isn’t wrong… And that means… Around 100 days, if I not mistaken.”
Wes grinned wolfishly. “What are the chances your math is wrong?”
Elias returned the grin. “Pretty big chance. I’ll go check out the numbers with Ron. I’m not even sure what this ship is capable of. Be back in a second.” He pulled himself out of the co-pilot’s chair. He almost fell down the passageway. “Argh,” he said. “I forgot, we’re still inside the atmosphere, and still going straight up.”
Wes laughed. “Yeah, that would put a damper on things.”
Elias laughed with him. “Yeah. That would have probably hurt.”
A short while later, The Odyssey was pulling out of the atmosphere and into the void of outer space. The sun pulled into view. The Earth was covering the sun just enough to paint a beautiful picture to the inhabitants of The Odyssey. Elias found his way to the research wing of the ship. He found Ron hunched over a notebook and scribbling with a pencil. “Hey, Ron!” Elias called out.
Ron looked up from his calculations. “Yeah?”
“Me and Wes were wondering how long you think this trip will take. Going about 25,000 kilometers an hour, I figure we’d hit Mars in about 100 days. What do you figure?
Ron laughed. “First of all, you got the speed way messed up. I can go at least twice that. The Odyssey is outfitted with a brand-new plasma drive engine. Yeah, we finally got plasma to work. Going 25,000 kilometers an hour will be like sitting in Manhattan traffic. Maximum speed is around 100,000 kilometers an hour, and I figure we’ll be going around 75,000 kilometers an hour for most of the trip. So I figure about a month all around.
Elias smiled. “Thanks for that info, Ron. Don’t hurt your brain with all the big numbers.”
Ron smiled back. “You got it captain.”
A knock sounded on the door of the research wing. A voice was heard, yelling though the door. “Captain! This is Lieutenant Michael Wilson! I want to talk to you!”
“Okay, Mike!” Elias yelled back. Now completely out of the atmosphere, Elias found it harder than it should have been to get to the door. Crawling and pulling along the ceiling, he finally made it to the door. He pulled it open and floated out. “What’s up Mike?”
Mike tried as hard as he could to stand with proper form in front of a ranking officer, but the fact that there was no gravity made it difficult. He eventually gave up. “Sir, just to be safe, I would suggest that all personnel on this ship undergo marksmanship training. You can’t be too safe.”
Elias groaned. “You couldn’t be too safe,” was beginning to become a motto for him. But it was true. You couldn’t be too safe. “If that’s what you want to do, then do it. But, how can you shoot? With no gravity?”
Mike turned and floated down the hallway. He beckoned for Elias to follow. “Come on. I’ll show you.” The main hallway was distinctly easier to traverse than the rooms. A long chain of hooks ran down the hallway, and a person could easily pull themselves along the hallway. They came to the end of the ship. They entered the last door on the left. It was dark. Mike flipped a switch and the lights came on. It was a firing range. Targets lined the far wall, Machine Guns were set up, and designated firing areas were painted on the floor.
Elias floated to the top and inspected the area from above. “This is great, but there’s still no gravity. How do you fix that?”
“Easy,” Mike said. “You better get down.” Elias started pulling himself down. “Too late,” Mike said with a smirk. He pulled the lever and gravity was instantly placed in the room. Elias fell downwards to the floor and landed with a thud. Mike laughed. “You didn’t move fast enough.”
Elias got up rubbing the back of his head. “Yeah, I guess so. Anyway, I’m going to grab some weapons and ammo. What do you want?”
Mike shook his head. “No need, we have an armory right here. I’ll give you the run down. All of our weapons are provided by the United States Army. And they are the best.” Mike walked down to the first firing station. “Here we have your basic M16A2.” It’s your standard issue assault rifle. Most soldiers will be carrying this, with the exception of specialist weapons, such as mortars, deployable machine guns, and the M-4 Carbine with an added M-203 grenade launcher. Lucky them if trouble comes.”
Elias picked up an M16A2. It was surprisingly light. Elias had always thought that weapons were heavier than that. “Well, let’s get started. Show me”
“Okay.” Mike picked up an M16A2, and set the stock against his shoulder. The M16A2 has three modes of fire: automatic, three-shot burst, and single shot. Most of the time, burst is most effective. It has an even amount of accuracy and rate-of-fire. Flip the selector level to burst, and let the lead fly.” He fired the weapon. Elias jumped. He was expecting it, but the sudden sound still made him jump. Elias looked at the target downrange. Three bullet holes were set in the bulls-eye of the target. Mike smirked. “Your turn.”
Over the next hour, they went down the line, firing weapon after weapon. The M-4 with a M-203 grenade launcher, the M-24 and M40A1 sniper rifles, and the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW. It was basically a deployable machine gun. Next, mounted machine guns. The M-240 MG and the M-2 MG. Both could churn out over five hundred rounds per minute. More small arms came next. The M-9 pistol, the M-1041 combat shotgun, and the MP-5 sub machine gun. Next, Mike showed Elias the rockets and heavy weapons. “Wow,” Elias thought. “We have enough weapons to blow up Mars, let alone combat its inhabitants. I hope we don’t have to use any of this.”
The following weeks were spent drilling soldiers and training non-soldiers in the use of weapons. The gravity room could be altered to different degrees of gravity. They weren’t really sure what kind of atmosphere Mars had, and they had to be prepared. After all, you just couldn’t be too safe.
Exactly one month from leaving Daytona, The Odyssey was orbiting Mars. Elias gazed out the window. “Wow,” he breathed lightly to himself. “Mars. I never thought I’d live to see the day I would see Mars.” Mars’s larger moon, Phobos, drifted idly by.
“Ya know,” Wes said, “I’ve heard that Phobos is on what they like to call a ‘death orbit.’ It’s gonna collide with the red rock eventually.
“That may be so, but it’s not going to while we’re here. While we’re just sitting here in awe of the Red Planet, let’s take it in.”
Wes saluted. “Yes sir.” And The Odyssey plunged toward the surface of the Red Planet.
These guys don't seem to have gotten any training. If they had, they'd know when to get up and when it could be dangerous... besides, if they're leaving the atmosphere like that, they'd be unable to pull themselves out of the chair, even a little.
That's my point... with as much training as they've had (or should have had), that kind of slip wouldn't happen.
Okay, sorry that took a while. Stupid Halo2 take ups all my time!:D
The Odyssey plunged towards the red planet. Pieces of dust and space debris made clinking noises as the hit the ship. The entire crew was peering out small, round windows as the red planet approached. Wes turned to Elias. “Captain, we better get everyone to get seatbelts on. We’re gonna hit the planet in just a minute.”
Elias smiled. “Okay, Wes. But I’m staying up here. Not missing this for the world.”
Wes smiled back. “I wouldn’t either, captain.” He reached out and grabbed the announcement system transmitter. “Yo, everyone better get strapped in, ‘cause we’re goin’ down hard.” The crew of The Odyssey scrambled to get to harnesses and strap themselves in.
They were suddenly struck by a sudden jolt. The Odyssey was thrown violently backwards. Elias was up screaming. “What was that?”
Wes was flipping switches and dials like a madman. “Don’t know sir! Thrusters got hit, we’re drifting aimlessly right now.” He looked over to his right and saw something he thought he would never see. A huge, triangle-shaped piece of metal was floating around. Fire burst from the back of it as it sped towards them. A meteoroid collided with the ship, but it was cut in half by its razor sharp edge.
A strange voice crackled through the radio, barely hearable. But it was another language, and not understandable. “Gweega Zorf, Gweega Zorf! Intendi sil fer Gweega Zorf!”
Mike came stumbling into the cabin. “What just hi-“ He stopped short as he was the ship and heard the voice. “Uhh… Captain? What is that?”
Elias shrugged. “Not sure. But, I’m guessing aliens of some kind, and they don’t really like us intruding on their planet.” Just as he spoke, a flash of red light was seen on the ship and a huge beam careened towards the ship. It smacked it hard in the side. The Odyssey shook and spun under the impact. Elias started yelling orders. “Wes, make for land. I’m not sitting around to get shot up by an alien cruiser. Take The Odyssey to the surface.”
Wes nodded. “Just what I was thinkin’. But, the thrusters are out. We’re a sitting duck. We have one option though. Escape pods. Not normal, but for some strange reason we put them on. I guess you just can’t be too careful. But, we can fit some weapons and supplies on the pods, along with our men, we can make it to the surface. Ya game, captain?
“Any port in the storm, Wes. Take me to them.”
Wes nodded. “Yes sir.” He got up from the pilot’s seat and floated to the middle of the ship, with Elias following. The ship was jarred again by the alien vessel’s big cannon. Elias grimaced.
“The Odyssey can’t take much more of this, Wes!”
Alarms were now blaring now, with blinking red lights flashing though the cabin. Wes grabbed the radio transmitter and slammed the transmit button down. “Yo, everyone better get to the escape pods, before this thing blows up on us all. I repeat, get to the escape pods if you want to live. Oh, and you might want to bring some weapons since Mars is now regarded as a hostile planet. That’s all.”
Ron burst through the door. “Who said we needed military!? Who said it!?”
Elias smiled. “You did Ron. But now is not the time. Let’s get off of this ship!” The ship shuddered again as the big ship’s beam hit it. “Elias grimaced. “I hope we can load up supplies fast, The Odyssey isn’t going to take much more of this.”
Mike came bursting though the door. “All loaded up and ready to go. We got almost everything in escape pods. Let’s get outta here!”
Elias jumped into the escape pod and strapped himself in. “Alright Wes, punch it!” The thrusters ignited and the pod soared into the icy vacuum of space.
Wes was struggling with the controls. “Man, this thing don’t have the smoothness of The Odyssey!” He pulled and pushed as he tried to bring the escape pod in for a smooth landing.
One thing confused Elias. “Shouldn’t we have hit the atmosphere by now? I’m feeling no resistance right now.”
Ron shrugged. “Who knows? I know Mars didn’t have much of an atmosphere, maybe it doesn’t have one at all?”
Elias shook his head. “No, that’s not possible. Everything has an atmosphere, no matter how small. Maybe it-“
“No time for that guys, brace for impact!” Wes yelled louder than was necessary. The small escape pod continued towards the surface. “Five…Four…” They could now discern landforms and large rocks on the surface. “Three…Two…” Small rocks could now be seen as they moved closer to the Red Planet “One!” The escape pod hit the red matter quite hard, although the escape pod’s occupants didn’t feel it. They passed right through it.
Elias looked out the cockpit window. The sight made his jaw drop. “They were passing through the red planet! “What’s going on!”
Wes was having immense problems with the controls again. The large joystick used to control the craft was shaking akin to having a seizure. “Guys, I’m not sure how long I can hang onto this thing!” The craft was shaking uncontrollably now. It was flipping and spinning out of control. Then, the shaking stopped. They were greeted by a sight no one had expected.
A beautifully carved world stretched out, as far as the eye could see. Green, tropical trees were arrayed in magnificent formations. Large, mushroom-shaped objects stuck their heads out of the trees. To the east was a rising mountain range, with valleys filled with volcanic lakes and ponds stretching in-between them.
Wes had regained control of the escape pod. “Okay, I’m gonna head for the clearing in the trees, backed by the cliff over there! Now you should brace for impact!” Wes’s skillful piloting led them to the clearing he had pointed out. This time, the ground was realistically hard. The craft landed roughly, skidding to a halt about ten yards away from the bottom of the cliff.
Elias was the first one to climb out. He looked back behind him. A waterfall fell down the cliff, into a small pond, as the sun glistened off of it.
Ron pulled himself from the wreckage. “Well, what do we do now.”
Mike grabbed an M16A2 and put it over his shoulder. “Easy! We find the others!"
That was an interesting twist... the 'red planet' isn't really red! It's just some kind of disguise... very interesting indeed. Keep it up... you've got me interested now.
Nice twist as wildjedi said..but having that amount of weapons on board? Seems a bit unrealistic...even for americans:p
A slight touch of deus ex machina, perhaps?:p
((2 : a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty ))
The last half of the second chapter is all about weapons! What do you mean deus ex machina!:p :p And, I couldn't put the on the "red planet" without weapons. Weapons are everywhere:D
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