Mars or Bust!
Chapter 13: Go Figure

Copyright© 2021 by GT Dodge

“Oh, Olgu! Let Johnny tell it. I can’t.” She put me saying that on the Special.

Johnny’s voice stayed strong, “It took so long, eight long weeks. Sharmaine stopped crying whenever Linc’s face came on TV. I think she cried at night. Me? I never cried all that time. I never cried since, neither.

“The build down, right on target. Linc grinning his wild grin, pointing off camera at Mars. Most everyone on Earth knew now that Linc was crazy. A True Believer one orbit from an ecstasy orgasm. Great line, but too long for a bumper sticker.

“In the days before the landing with everything waiting for the proper alignment, Linc was kept busy loading and testing a new program into one of the Roving Robots.

“That was my bright idea. No one had sold the TV rights to the landing. Go figure. They weren’t even going to video the landing.

“First of all, the Habitat shed its antennae for re-entry. Mars has atmosphere. The antennae would burn up during the descent. Until the Rovers erected another antenna, the Habitat could not transmit.

“Secondly, even though Linc had deployed an orbital communications satellite, there was nothing to transmit. Who would hold the camera?

“To shortsighted people, that spelled out no TV coverage during the landing.

“To me? It spelled opportunity, with a capital OPP. I got a bid from Fox to improvise something, anything to televise the landing.

“Turns out le Foundation held no grudges just because I once tried to sell them a fake. I sold them a simple gimmick: Don’t shed the antennae, let them burn off. Rover-One could rocket along next to the Habitat, carrying a camera to video the landing. Chase him all the way in, filming all the way. Rover-One, it can’t land, it crashes. We just transmit as long as we can. NO DEPOSIT! NO RETURN!©

“I convinced the Promotion Agent for le Foundation that the cost of the video cam and loss of Rover-One was peanuts compared to the income they’d get broadcasting a TV shot of the landing. Even if they had to split the take with me. Even if I held the copyright. I could see the muscles in his jaw working hard when I said ‘copyright’ but we shook on it anyways. Fifty/fifty! A handshake for millions of dollars. Linc pulled those strings for me. Pulled them all the way from Mars! We go way back!

“In the meantime, Linc set up a short-range radio link from the Habitat to Rover-one. We couldn’t see him but at least we would have his voice during the landing. Better than nothing, hey! I borrowed Sharmaine as Executive Producer, (courtesy, Wannabee Motor Homes) to handle details of the impromptu broadcast. Me? Just an idea man, dontcha know. My best idea? Hiring the Cossacke Cosmonaute, Olgu ... Something, as Director.

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