In the weeks and months after the Soviets
hijacked the joint mission to Mars (in the year 2017), there was much debate among the
generals, scholars, scientists, politicians, and theologians of Earth on what to do about
the fourteen renegade Soviet cosmonauts.
The American Generals proposed a nuclear strike.
The scientists were outraged by the thought
of having the virgin Martian ecosystem contaminated in such a drastic and vile manner.
They joined with the theologians to defeat the proposal.
Scholars and academia believed the
Soviets were no threat, and the small Soviet outpost would eventually wither and die.
Whatever the course of
action, the politicians were concerned about the prohibitive cost of
dislodging the Soviets from a planet millions of miles away in what would be
the 21st century equivalent of
crossing the English Channel.
So, they did nothing. Anyway, Earth was
having problems of its own. China, having intimidated Taiwan into capitulation under a
weak American presidency, was hungrily eyeing Australia and New Zealand. A new Islamic
Confederacy was ready to once again pounce on Israel. Hardliners in Russia, riding a wave
of patriotism as a result of the Soviet capture of Mars, were seeking a return to the old
Meanwhile, the fourteen cosmonauts were hard
at work forging a new world. They weren't about to wither and die. In fact, the bleak
Martian environment was, in many ways, no different from Siberia. Besides, everything
they needed had already been pre-staged on the planet in anticipation of the mission's
arrival. This aspect of the proposed mission had been carefully and calculatingly planned
by the Russians from the beginning.
NASA had originally proposed a smaller
mission for mankind's first trek to the Red Planet. Five astronauts were to travel to
Mars, spend about 500 days on the surface, and return. The Russian space community, led by
Dr. Groz Korelev, proposed a much more ambitious project. In hindsight, their intentions
were apparent from the beginning.
The Russians proposed establishing a
permanent colony on Mars. Their reasoning was that if the industrialized nations were to
expend such great effort in such an undertaking, that it might as well have permanent and
lasting value. Their plan called for up to 50 individuals to travel to Mars. Once there,
the colonists would begin building a new life and a new world, just as the Pilgrims did
400 years earlier in America. Everything the colonists would need would already be
pre-staged on the planet. The cash-strapped Russians even (uncharacteristically) pledged
to cover much of the extra costs associated with such a mission.
NASA readily excepted
Russia's generous and ambitious proposal, however, the final number of
individuals making the journey was eventually whittled to 28 (14 Americans
and 14 Russians).