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11. Independence Declared

     When Saunders and Drummond walked into communications, there was a man already in there waiting for them. As the two men entered the high tech room, the man walked over and extended a hand for both men to shake, which they did.

     "Gentlemen," the man started, "Welcome to Mars Space Observatory, also know to the grunts up here as the M.S.O."

     "This is Commander Devon Jackson," Eric said to Drummond, "The commanding officer of the station."

     "I've heard of you," Drummond said, after he shook the man's hand. "You used to work for NASA, right?"

     "That's correct," Devon replied, "I was in command of the international space station for over a year."

     "So this is second nature to you," Drummond said, realizing that Eric cut no corners looking for the right people for each job.

     "I'll admit this place has a lot more perks," Devon said, smiling, "And the chance to take a fighter for a cruise every now and then is a lot of fun too, as I'm sure you found out earlier today."

     "What's the status of our communications with Earth?" Eric asked the commander, getting down to business.

     "We've been communicating with Earth for the better part of two weeks, only through text messages. It felt like having a conversation on twitter, a little frustrating." The Commander explained, "My experience with NASA has made communication civil, as I've been talking to Houston and people I've known for quite some time."

     "I was hoping that was the case." Eric said as he walked over to one of the three comfy chairs that were in front of a massive screen.

     "Did they give us much detail on why it took so long to re-establish contact?" Drummond asked.

     "The asteroid has high levels if iron and other various metals." Devon replied, "That and the debris from taking the big rock out also obliterated every satellite that was in existence. There's so much rock up there, attempts to replace any of them were taken out as well."

     "At least they survived!" Drummond said, letting out a deep sigh.

     "I don't have many details about that," Devon replied, "I don't think it was a cake walk for them as NASA has been rather shy to give me the nitty gritty, and I really cranked up the charm. No dice."

     "What's different about today?" Drummond asked.

     "Today is going to be our first video connection," the Commander answered, "Earth is using a satellite that is so far out of orbit that it's about halfway to the moon, and we're using Stargazer Five to relay the feed. We should have a clean connection with no more than a fifteen second delay. This is going to be epic, the first actual phone call between Mars and Earth."

     "When are we expecting the call?" Drummond asked.

     "Take a seat," Devon replied, "It's almost time. Just let me do the talking and we'll try to keep this as civil as possible."

     Saunders and Drummond took seats on the outer parts while Devon Jackson sat in the middle as he was the ranking officer on the station. Moments later the screen started to beep, and Devon hit a button to activate the screen and accept the call that was coming in. When the screen came in, there were also three people on the other side of the call, as instructed. When negotiating the event, it was agreed that no more than three people on each side would be present to lower the chance of people talking over one another. On the other side of the call were three very familiar people to Drummond and Jackson. The first one was Owen Smith, the man was NASA's chief. The second man there was Peter McCain, known to Drummond as the Secretary of Defense. The man in the middle chair was familiar to all three of them. So much that both Jackson and Drummond left to their feet and saluted, standing there like statues. Moments later, the man in the middle spoke.

     "At ease, gentleman." He said, appreciating the respect being shown even all the way from another planet.

     After the two men sat down, Drummond was the next one to speak. "Mr. President, it's good to see you."

     "Thank you," the President replied, "I can't begin to tell you how lucky we all are to be having this conversation. About four months after your final vessel left Earth's orbit, the other programs started their campaign to destroy the asteroid. While many attempts were outright failures, one of our more dangerous and ambitious plans was successful. Our success was not met without sacrifice. There were still large fragments that were able to get through re-entry and cause horrific devastation. Whole cities, and even a few small nations were completely obliterated, by either mammoth tsunamis or the asteroids hitting land itself. But the one that threatened to obliterate all life was turned away. We were able to rebuild and prosper."

     "I can't begin to tell you how happy we are to hear that, Mr. President." Jackson said, resuming his plan to do all the talking.

PJ Lowry

Edited: 01.02.2020

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