Category Archives: Characters

Amber’s Mission

Last week marked the anniversaries of the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia accidents.  Those old enough to remember one or more of those tragedies recall the feelings of shock and sadness.  Eventually we moved on, however, recommitting ourselves to the noble endeavor of manned space exploration.

But what if a spacecraft vanished without a trace?  And what if, decades later, you had the chance to solve a mystery that most had given up on, even if they hadn’t forgotten?  That’s the challenge facing 14-year-old Amber Jacobsen:

There was an ocean of data from the Ares missions and the subsequent exploration and settlement of the planet…surely there was some clue, something that had been missed.  She looked up at the portraits again.  What if it was right in front of everyone, and they couldn’t see it, because they were still thinking like Earthers? 

But shewasn’t an Earther.  She looked around the cabin at the memorials to the Ares III crew.  Mars was her world, the only one she’d ever known.  If something had been missed, maybe she could see it.  Why shouldn’t she be the one to find the truth? “I’ll do it.”

“What’s that?”  Aaron had drifted over to the other side of the cabin.

“Find out what happened.  You know, figure it out.  I’m gonna do it.”

The Mysterious Mr. Rana

There’s more to Rajiv Rana than we let on in In the Shadow of Ares:

He paused, then added simply, “You’re quiet today.”

“Am I?” she asked coolly as she pulled on her immersion goggles and rings.  You’re part of it.  Margolis said so herself.  I know you’re hiding something.  That’s why none of the Green’s survey data from the past two years is available.

“Yes, you are,” he replied, noting the tone in her voice with a slight narrowing of his eyes.  “But, if you don’t want to talk to me, well, that’s okay.  We can talk again when you’re in a better mood.”

She yanked off her goggles and turned to face him.  “What makes you think I’m in a bad mood?”

He shrugged.  “Your…moodiness?”

“What?  Oh.  Well, maybe I am mad.  Shouldn’t I be?  I know you’re hiding something…” She stopped short when she saw his face suddenly become an expressionless mask.

There was an uncomfortable pause.  “Hiding?” he asked cautiously.  “What is it you think I am hiding?”


His dark eyes bored into her own.  “Go on.”

Me and my big mouth. “The, uh, the cavern…”  If possible, his face became even more expressionless when she mentioned the cavern.

“The cavern?  What is it you think I am hiding about a cavern?”

Think fast. “I, uh, I know you’re hiding something down there.  There’s…  something down there, isn’t there?  That’s why Grantham won’t let anyone go in?”

“Oh, that again.”  Rana pursed his lips and rolled his eyes.  The tension between them seemed to evaporate suddenly.  A little too suddenly, perhaps.

What could he be hiding? And how did he really break his nose?