Field Notes from the Hunt for Life on Mars
Science Volunteer Smith’s log, Caseo Research Dome, Mars, 2166
Science Volunteer Smith’s log, 28th May Our communications system has clearly been tampered with and yet there is no sign of a breach as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, I don’t have the skills to sort it out. I will attempt to continue our mission, despite Clancy and Kozlov having not returned. I thought I spotted a signature on the scanner this morning, but after double checking, it seems I made a mistake. The second team will be arriving in a month’s time. Meanwhile I am studying the samples the mini rover brought back. Today I am listening to Bach’s Cello Suites.
Science Volunteer Smith’s log, 30th May Where can Clancy and Kozlov be? Surely it cannot take three days to retrieve the damaged probe. We realised early on, not only had life been here in the past, as suspected in the early missions- it’s absolutely everywhere. The fossilized Stromatolites were just the beginning, which is why they brought along a herpetologist, me. I’m going out to check on the UV boxes – see how the organisms like it under there. It just occurred to me, maybe Clancy and Kozlov went to Vedra Valles Research Dome, but why? Today it is Rachmaninoff.
Volunteer Smith’s log, 2nd June I want to go home. I wish the second team would arrive and take me home. I wish Clancy and Kozlov would just get back here, I am not qualified for this shit. Something must have happened to Clancy and Kozlov. 2nd June, supplemental Oh, dear Lord. What is out there? I went to check on the micro-organisms under the UV boxes then decided to have a look around. I followed the rules to the letter; remaining within the flagged boundary, passing through the bio-shower on the way out and back in and taking all prescribed equipment. At the farthest boundary point I scanned with the in-helmet binoculars. At first I passed over it, then I saw it. The rover probe lying on its side. It wasn’t so far away, I knew I could easily walk there and back in an hour. So I did. My skills are in reptiles, not machines, I have no clue what is wrong with the probe. There were marks in the dirt around it. It seems incredible, almost fantastical. I swear it is true. There were footprints and not just from Clancy and Kozlov. I ran back as quickly as my suit and gravity would allow, I tipped over four times and it felt like my Re-breather was running out of oxygen. If there were locks on the Dome – I’d lock it.
Volunteer Smith’s log, 3rd June Listening to music all day – loudly. The place is filled with it, from the access bay to the botanical dome. I am not working…
Volunteer Smith’s log, 5th June I need to pull myself together. It is clear now that I am alone here, at least until the second team arrive. I am sure that I could drive one of the Landrider vehicles, then I could drive to Vedra Valles. I’ve never been, but there are maps. I was going to check Kozlov’s records on his terrain work, but it’s all in Russian. Who writes in Russian on a mixed nationality research unit in the field? God that man is so annoying. I have checked the maps and find that it is about 100 kilometres away, it will take about 4 to 6 hours, I’m not sure of the Landrider’s top speed. I will need to ensure I have enough pure oxygen for the Re-breather. And my music, never go anywhere without it.5th June, supplemental Midway to Vedra Valles, there was an odd effect in the sky. The red planet turned blue around its horizon momentarily, somewhere out where Phobos and Deimos orbit. I seem to remember Clancy mentioning some similar event before he headed out with Kozlov. Why didn’t I look at Professor Clancy’s logs dammit? Mind you, if he returns and finds some no-mark has been reading his logs, he’ll be mad as hell, he is a stickler for hierarchy. I bet the pair of them are whooping it up with the Valles lot, probably having a good laugh at my expense. The Martian Newbie they had called me. I stopped the Landrider to see if the blue glow would happen again. Listening to Gustav Holst, The Planets, makes me feel a bit like a warrior from past times. I wonder why people have always associated Mars with war.
Volunteer Smith’s log, 20th June (or thereabouts) I am not absolutely sure of the date. It seems an age since I was last here at Caseo. Time has passed strangely. I have met them. Martians is what we would call them on Earth. I cannot begin to describe the sensation. Obviously, intense fear was my initial response. However, these beings are as like us as a rose is to a volcano. They are slender of stature but weighty at the same time. Bipedal, with a reptilian quality, their skin shines golden like polished brass. I believe that it was my music that drew them to the Valles dome. Valles was empty when I arrived, no sign of life at all. The strange beings attempted to communicate at first by copying the music. Then they switched to what I can only surmise was their form of speech; an odd sound like a cross between whale song and clicks and pops. Then they attempted a kind of sign language. I remembered my basic sign language from school, it seemed to dispel any misgivings they harboured about me. Over time, I learnt their story. A sad tale of the self-destruction of their planet, Ta’al, is how it sounds. They have lived in dwindling numbers on, or should I say, beneath the surface of Deimos, for centuries. They fear us, we humans. They fear our arrival, our space vessels, our research facilities; our take over. They believe it will come – eventually. We humans believe we have the right to travel anywhere and everywhere. Which is why I must destroy the research stations – all of them.