Hurry up and wait. It’s a corporate mantra. Robin Tarbet of Blue Corporation was hosting Kells the CEO and as such the time of exploration launch was under his control for this year. We would have to see about securing Ms. Kells’ attention for next year.
In the interim each Corporation satellite was using their water supply to animate Squishy and Crunchy in preparation for the release to drop our units to the surface of Mars and have a look around.
I found myself staring at the blurry surface of Mars. The Mars surface used to be clear as day with storms, ancient waterways, plains, mountains and canyons, but now it was obscured with a shimmering alien haze. Shimmering because looking at it only left you with the impression of shifting beige and red blurs and alien because it was alien technology that was the root cause. The first surface explorations discovered the presence of a long dead alien world, before the upper atmosphere had been stripped away. Indeed, scientists claimed it was the alien tech that must have caused Mars to lose its all important magnetic field.
Probably the same scientists who decided that upon finding said alien technology they should start fiddling with what they thought were the controls. Inevitably they set off something alien in origin which obscured the surface from space. An ancient machine with a camouflage purpose long forgotten. While we had previously mapped the surface, the planet rotated under a blanket of obscurity further complicating matters. Sensor gear didn’t work in the vicinity of Mars and communications were spotty. Rocket telemetry was annoyingly dangerous. Good old fashioned boots on the ground were your only answer to exploration and conquest.
Earth ingenuity had created technology that interfered with the alien camouflage, but it was too expensive and too local an effect to plant in every sector and clear up the entire Mars surface.
The Corporate satellites were lined up around the equator, equidistant from each other. Each Corporation had already established an expensive but unobscured landing zone on the planet surface under each satellite.
I activated the external cameras and could see the landing sectors clearly from the satellite as a point of unobscured surface with boiling clouds around it, slowly moving away from my satellite. Slowly moving because CEO Ms. Kells had ordered the end of our geostationary orbits. We would be fixed in space along the equator and Mars would be allowed to rotate under us. Every month or so, the next cleared landing zone would slide under my satellite and continue along its path.
It was ingenious and practically cruel. She called it “moving fronts” as in the front line of a war that shifts constantly. Kells had said it would show who could think ahead and react to changing markets. I think it was her dark side showing. Drop your men down to the planet and watch them rotate away from your support all the while your enemy forces rotate under your landing point. Mind you, it meant being able to drop your troops behind enemy “lines” as well. This could actually work out well.
I brought up the conflict map for reference. We were situated in orbit around the equator and our playground was going to be the entire northern hemisphere. Smack in the middle was the northern ice cap, a thousand kilometers of open white water and carbon dioxide ice also cleared of the visual obscurity. A must have sector, chocked full of water resources.
But there were other water sources out there and finding them would be key to success of the conflict. With them a company could afford to send more units planetside without needing to resupply them from space.
Bend over, Grunt, and take a drink. There are more unpleasant ways to resupply your water ration. You’re not called a ‘Squishy’ for nothing.
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