Visit to Victoria by Stuart Atkinson

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SUMMARY: A hundred years in the future, a young martian comes face to face with the best, and worst, of humanity's passion for the exploration of space...

VISIT TO VICTORIA

Hi dad! How are things on the MM Sagan? Can you see Saturn very clearly from your cabin window yet? Have you spotted those geysers through the ship's telescope yet, or is Enceladus still too far away? I still can't believe my dad is going to be the second man to set foot on Enceladus (you could be first, you know... just give Carmen a nudge out of the way and nip past her out of the hatch... I'm sure she wouldn't mind!)! Anyway, just thought I'd drop you a line to give you something to listen to in your room apart from that awful, tuneless wailing you call "music". I know you've tried to brainwash me since birth, but I still can't think what you see in the tortured tones of Madonna and what's that other one called? Oh that's right, "J-Lo". I know they were huge when you were my age, but sorry, your classical music just sounds like boring noise to me.

But never mind, I've lots to tell you about. I just hope this is recording clearly; my wristcom's making some very unusual buzzing sounds... I'll assume it's working and keep recording.

Well, dad, as you said when you were picked for the Sagan mission, you never know what's around the corner! I just got home from a lousier-than-lousy day at school to find great news waiting for me. Andrea you know, Andrea from the Mars Heritage Restoration and Preservation Team I help now and again - called; apparently she's heard, from one of her "sources" (we never ask for details!) that a group of Vultures (that's what we call the people who take pieces off probes, remember?) has been seen out in Meridiani, asking questions, and she's understandably very worried about Opportunity being damaged. She's got permission from Mars Heritage to get out there and check on it as soon as she can. Ben and Faye are available tomorrow... and she wants me to go too!

Now I know what you're thinking, but I asked mum and she said it was okay, as long as I didn't miss any school, so this time tomorrow after another dead day at school, I'm sure - I'll be heading south with the Crazy Gang again! Can't wait!!

Off to bed now dad but not much point; I **know** I won't sleep tonight, I'll be too excited..!

>> Journal Entry 005/BV1/013

I'm recording this in the rover now dad, heading south...

Luck was with me today dad, (don't know what I've done to deserve it, but hey, gift horse... mouth...) because school closed early to let the service team take a look at that air filtration unit which has been flicking on and off like a light switch recently. So, I rushed home, flashed Andrea an "I'm coming!" glyph over MarsNet and raced out with my bag over my shoulder. Of course, everyone was gathered by the rover already, waiting for me, fully kitted-out, and they cheered and clapped sarcastically as I ran into the bay. Didn't realise how much I'd missed them until Ben picked me up and lifted me into the rover and Faye told him to be careful with me! If I had a big sister I'd want her to be like Faye. Andrea, obviously impatient to get going, growled at us all to sit down and be quiet, but I knew she was as excited as the rest of us at the prospect of escaping into the Outback again.

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