Tuesday, 8 March 2016


The girls came down the stairs and joined us, so pilot talk was suspended. After I made them drinks and topped up Nick’s and mine, I was about to sit down when there was another knock at the door.
“Who the hell could that be?” I said.
I opened the door to see Dick and Courtney on the doorstep.
“Hi, guys, come on in!”
After drinks were distributed and pleasantries exchanged, Dick (typically) got straight to the point. “I’ve updated the flight plan and downloaded it onto all the starships nav computers. I reset the frequency on the starship’s R/Ts to our frequency as well,” he said.
“Well done, Dick. When do we launch then?”
“Tomorrow afternoon would be perfect. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the updated flight time as well. We will arrive in Earth’s orbit sixteen days after launch and arrive back on Mars in a further twenty days. Add, say, two days for transferring the crew and their luggage on board.”
“You’re joking, mate! Five weeks to fly to Earth and back? You said it would take nine months in the Albatross! How fast is that starship?”
“I don’t know; their systems of measurement are different from ours, but obviously it’s a damn sight faster than our ship! I will say, however, that it may not be using its top speed to reach Earth and return to Mars. We could have traveled to Mars at a much greater speed than we did in the Albatross if we’d wanted to, but then, paradoxically, it would have taken longer for us to land on Mars. It’s all to do with astrophysics, theory of relativity, and other such technical stuff that I won’t bother to bore you with. If Nick is right in his assumption that the Martian crafts are in fact starships, which I happen to agree with, then they are capable of far greater speeds when traveling to other star systems. The distance to Earth from here is not that great a distance relative to that, so the speed is adjusted accordingly. Suffice it to say that they are bloody fast ships! I doubt she’ll get much above idle in the whole trip. I dare say that now the destination co-ordinates have been entered into the ship’s computers, it will take you there as fast as possible if you think fucking fast when your wearing the control headphones.”

“Well then, it’s decided. We launch tomorrow afternoon. Be on board at fourteen hundred hours and we’ll launch whenever we feel like it. Do you have any idea what the propulsion system of the starship is Dick?”