DISASTER

Everything had been going so well.
On Fastrack One, the ship that will take us to Mars, all the systems were checking out with no glitches. The test crew was doing everything possible to uncover hidden issues before we left the vicinity of Earth, but all was working perfectly.
Then a rogue meteoroid sheered off one of our solar panels, sending it spinning onto the Moon’s surface. Fortunately no one on the test crew was hurt, and they still have enough power from the remaining arrays for their tasks, but we’ll need more for the actual mission.
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ABSENCE

It isn’t as if Samantha is never coming back to the Havens U. Genetics Lab; she fully plans to return when the Mars mission is over. It’s just that, for the time being, it will have to run without her for quite some time.
She’s done all she can to ensure that things will continue without her, but the truth is that she’s always been there before. Even now, being officially on sabbatical, she checks in often enough to keep certain individuals in line. That will change when she’s 140 million miles away.
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HALLOWEEN MAGIC

It’s not surprising that Feryl is doing so well with her magic act. After all, she was raised in that field from birth, and even though her father retired from it she’s still a part of the milieu. It’s not unusual to continue a family business from one generation to the next.
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HACKED

As previously stated, my role on the Mars mission will be as the interface between the ship’s internal tech and the crew. In that capacity my mascot costume will be monitoring every facet of the ship’s functions and keep everyone appraised of the status.
In that regard I was naturally concerned when the simulator’s computer systems were hacked this week. Fortunately these are completely separate from the ones on the actual spacecraft, so the mission was unaffected. Still, it was highly annoying and caused delays in our training.
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ROGER GETS PERSONAL

Of all the friends preparing to leave for Mars, most are in relationships. The exception is Bambi who, despite have tabloids linking her to dozens of other celebs, hasn’t had a significant other since high school. Of the rest, both partners are going on the voyage…except for me and Marcie.
Marcie and I have had our ups and downs (with the downs being my fault), but the Mars mission forced us to make a decision. About three years ago Marcie decided she couldn’t go, but acknowledged that I had to.
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DODO PROBLEMS

The dodos continue to be an issue for Samantha. Even worse, very soon she’ll be on her way to Mars and will no longer be around to control them.
I’ve previously stated that Vince and Feryl will be entrusted with keeping the pair in line, but that’s a lot of responsibility to place on two young people (no matter their abilities). That includes other non-human denizens of the lab such as Stan the spider. So, I’ve presented Samantha with the following solution:
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PREP FOR MARS

In this blog I generally avoid personal references and instead concentrate on the lives of the friends I’ve known since I was four. That will change during the course of the Mars voyage, where I’ll be the interface between the ship and crew.
That’s due to my mascot costume which is a fully-functioning technical device. While it outwardly resembles a standard smartphone, its abilities far surpass that. (It has to; once we take off, no hardware upgrades.)
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SABBATICAL

By necessity Samantha’s sabbatical had to begin with the Fall semester so that she could devote her time fully to the preparations for the Mars mission. She’s meeting her goals as the launch date approaches, but she’s also still living close by the genetics lab. That proximity makes it hard for her to completely let go.
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FIELD TRIP

Mankind’s first expedition to another planet will include four children under age eight as part of its crew. This raises the stakes as far as safety is concerned, since everyone wants to see them return home.
It also creates added challenges, since they’ll still require schooling during the journey. For this duty they’d have veteran teacher Sue Havens who has over three decades of experience. In fact, Samantha, Jenny, Dave and I met as four-year-olds in the day care center that she runs.
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VINCE’S ROOMMATE

After Vince was transformed from a mouse into a human, Samantha used her access into the university computer system to give him a private room in the dorm. With her leaving for Mars, that will no longer be the case. She did, however, give him a roommate she’s known for years: Patina’s brother Rusty Welding.
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