rating: 0+x

All that was left after the first euphoria was boring routine. Technician Adams wished he could feel as high as then, back in January, when everyone at Mission Control was in a state of constant exaltation. One could almost touch the tension on that day. Even the recluses from the Theoretics Department came to the Control Room and gathered around in shy, self-contained groups at the far back. Everyone was staring at the big screen intensely, although it only showed diagrams and debug output from the probe. The smell of coffee and sweat, the permanent humming of voices around him had excited him somewhat unusually, given his rather cold nature. Now Adams had fully adjusted to the strange surroundings he could see through the eyes of the Rover.

Adams sighed with delight at the memory while he was cautiously moving the control stick in front of him. Some minutes later and 230 million kilometers of empty space away, the Rover rolled forward on the red dust with two strange moons rising on the horizon. The daily goal was to drive a few meters further away from Cape York and then gather another sample of the endless rusty soil that covered everything the machine could lay an electronic eye upon. Meanwhile, he replayed the scenes for the hundreth time in his head. Davies calmly, but nonetheless relieved, announcing the successful dropdown. The whole room starting to cheer. Papers flying through the air, Sampson spilling his coffee, Edwardsson patting him on the shoulder. And then, the first picture from the ground. It didn't really show anything much: Just the landing platform and the Rover's shadow. Still, it was a wierd feeling of being only a few inches of computer screen away from a different world. Everything at Mission Control was bright white, shiny and looked artificial and out there was an endless waste no man had ever set foot on. True wilderness in every aspect.

On the distant planet, the machine came to a halt. Sampson came by and left a cup of hot black liquid awakeness on Adams' desk. Greedily slurping it down, Adams panned the camera down and took a look at the ground below the Rover. Still dwelling in fond recollections, he was about to initiate the sample process, when he thought he saw something odd. There, almost buried in the reddish desert was a hint of light blue color, barely visible through the feed. While he activated the manual access for the grapplers, Adams called out for Edwardsson and Sampson, who were talking about some movie three rows of computer screens below. He threw the feed on the main screen to get a better look, then slowly began wiping away the dust until he could perceive the shape of his find.

There was an eternity of absolute silence when the Rover finally lifted the object up. Adams could almost hear the looks of his now assembled co-workers as they blankly stared at the big screen. The item he had found up there moments, years, aeons ago was now clearly visible, red dust falling off it and being blown away by alien winds. Adams gazed in disbelief at a miniature globe, a small replication of his own planet, spelling out all the countries and capitals of his world. Including South Sudan.

The mission had started on 07/07/03.