Here’s the third chapter of my new book. I’ve got the draft completed and am working on the final version – there’s still time for changes, so please comment. I’d love to see what you think.
If you missed the beginning, start reading here.
Spaceplane concept – NASA – AC86-0699-2
The next morning, slightly nauseous and heads aching, the S-3 crew boarded a spaceport sand coach and set out eastward across a broad desert valley. After a while, Emma looked up, then over her shoulder. The spaceport was hidden by a colorless slope behind them.
“Have you followed the cat debate?” Liz asked. “They’ve been at it all night.”
She used the coach’s link and played some messages out loud. It seemed the colonists started talking to Lunar Base about a cat months ago, ever since the Loonies announced a litter of kittens was on the way – kittens to be born on the Moon and raised at the Collins Space Dock. Emma roused herself enough to wonder why they’d kept it a secret from MEX.
Colony Mars engineers, quite reasonably, balked at adding an element to their mission at the last minute, especially a live animal. But Lunar Base had a complete proposal ready. They’d provide everything, including a plan for feeding a cat long-term on Mars. After Ingra’s extraordinary suicide, the psychologists were inclined to approve anything the colonists requested. The added mass of the cat’s supplies was well within the transport ship’s margin of error for fuel. A cat was formally added to their mission. Claude and James seemed noncommittal, but Liz was delighted.
The coach bounced and Emma squinted out a wide window.
“Where are we?”
“Jornada del Muerto,” the driver called out cheerfully. “Named by the Spanish who first explored this desert. The Journey of Death.”
“Ironic name, isn’t it,” Liz said. “We’re on a journey of life.”
“It’s a long ride,” Emma said. Continue reading