Austin Miller looked upon the alien war lord. Being the first human upon Mars was overshadowed by the shocking discovery of extraterrestrial life. The aliens so expertly masked their true intent. Capable of interplanetary flight, they thought themselves superior. Resistence was unthinkable. But then, they had never met Austin Miller.

                                        TAKEN FROM CHAPTER  ONE
“I have to tell you, this has been the longest seven months of my life,” Austin Miller said as he looked out a smudged window. The twenty-five year old astronaut had spent countless hours dreaming of home, dreaming of his wife, Christine and his new son Sebastian, who wasn’t yet forty-eight hours old. He sighed as he realized that it would be yet another seven, nearly eight months, before he would see the blue and white marble hanging in space called Earth.
“But you wouldn’t have traded places with anyone,” Mission Commander Mike Clark said as he placed a hand on one of Austin’s shoulders. Austin glanced at him and grinned. “What a story to tell your son someday.”
My son. God I wonder what he looks like, Austin thought.
“He probably looks a lot like you,” Susan Mathews said as if reading Austin’s mind. Lieutenant Susan Mathews was the mission communications specialist. She was also the only female member of the four member crew. She looked out a window. “It looks close enough to reach out and touch it.”
“After another twelve hours in orbit, we will be able to touch it,” a young Chinese member of the crew named Shawn said as he spun away from a control panel and stood. I can’t believe it’s finally going to happen, he thought as he walked to a window and looked out. “She’s a beautiful sight.”
“That she is,” Clark agreed.
A hundred miles below them the planet Mars, with its rolling white ice clouds and swirling orange dust storms, rotated slowly.
“I hope it welcomes the human race warmly,” Austin said. “And not with a grudge for all the junk we’ve sent her way over the years.”
“Looks like a proud planet ready to host some guests,” Clark said. “We come in peace.” He went to a console and sat. “Well, guys, we’ve got work to do.”
The other three crew members looked at Clark. Reluctantly they moved away from the windows and took up their positions within the crew cabin of the interplanetary spaceship Intrepid.
NASA, embodied with bold new goals set for the awakening decade, believed its first manned vessel to Mars should bear a bold name, a personification of the resolute fearlessness of the four-member crew. The voyage to the red planet had taken just over seven months. Two months prior to the Earth orbit launch of Intrepid a supply probe was launched from Cape Kennedy on a programmed course for Mars orbit. Intrepid rendezvoused with the probe in Mars orbit, linking up with it and taking on needed supplies, including a return supply of fuel.
The designated landing site on the planet would be near the Valles Marineris canyon system. Intrepid would use an air braking system and a drogue parachute to slow its descent to the planet’s surface during its braking ellipses. Once on the planet the astronauts would feel the effects of gravity for the first time in seven plus months, even though the gravity would be weak and they would feel only thirty-eight percent of their body weight.
Cover art by Phillip Fuller
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COPYRIGHT © 2006 Joel Goulet
COPYRIGHT © 2001--2011 Author Joel Goulet
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