Clean Energy from Mars
by David Gittlin
The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars. One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects. A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer. Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.
When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.
Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist. While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.
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The team had two primary directives. Their first task involved the investigation of two deaths caused by an industrial accident. The world and its governments needed closure on the tragic incident. They wanted enhanced safety precautions to prevent more accidents. The team’s second task held a higher priority; a status unpublished to the media. The team needed to audit the efficiency of the subcontractor’s mining operation.
Back home, the sun brought life-sustaining energy and warmth to every living thing. Without the slightest hint of judgment, the sun made life, in all its diverse forms, possible. There was evidence that the sun had once nurtured life on Mars to an infinitely greater extent than it did now. The maps of the planet which Logan had studied depicted ample evidence of plains that might once have been teeming oceans and ravines that might once have been rushing rivers or canals. Manned and unmanned expeditions to Mars had found microbiological life beneath the planet’s surface. Scientists speculated that the microbiological evidence represented the vestiges of complex life forms that once thrived on Mars billions of years ago.
While the debate about the history of life on Mars continued, one fact remained: human beings now lived on the planet’s surface. Martian Mining Interplanetary, a subsidiary of the Courtland Aerospace Corporation, had established a mining colony on Mars after securing a lucrative mining contract sanctioned by the World Energy Council.
Although he dreamed of commanding deep space exploration missions, Logan could not imagine signing up for seven-year tours of duty like the Martian mining colonists had. Spending years in a state of suspended animation was okay. Just don’t ask me to stay in one place for too long. Somehow, he knew that if he didn’t die flying in space, he’d live to an advanced age on Mother Earth, hopefully surrounded by loving family members and fond memories of glorious extra-terrestrial adventures that advanced the cause of his species.
He had a long way to go in the loving family department. For starters, his relationship with his Air Force Colonel prick of a father was a lost cause. If the man had any love in him, it was as hard to find as a puddle of water on the arid planet he stared out at through the porthole of his living quarters. He often wondered if his mother’s highly premature death from a brain tumor had resulted from an unconscious death wish she developed from the certain knowledge that the man she’d married would never make her happy. The wishy-washy woman his father married after her death, he suspected from early on, hung around only because she had no better place to go.
Logan’s upbringing left him with an empty hole in his soul that nothing filled, no matter how hard he tried. The deep dark pit of emptiness inside him was too painful to experience for more than a few seconds. If he stayed too long, it felt like the dark place would drag him down like some dinosaur that suffocated horribly in the La Brea tar pits millions of years ago.
His watch chimed. The time had arrived for his breakfast briefing with the audit team. Now began the regrettable business of investigating two tragic deaths and the delicate job of eliciting cooperation from the secretive mining colonists.