Wednesday, November 25, 2009

nano post 56

Nelson handed her a sheet of paper. “Here's the basic script for the interview. Feel free to phrase things your own way, but Dandelion wants to make sure that the right image is presented. This is a system wide broadcast, you know.”

Dejah shifted in her seat. The hard plastic chair looked good on the screen, she assumed, but there was no way to get comfortable in it. She was dressed in an olive green shirt with the Dandelion logo emblazoned on it in a warm white shade, and clean black pants. “We want you to look like you've just come in from the field,” the wardrobe consultant had told her, bypassing the more professional outfits in the dressing room. “But I don't look like this when I come off the field, I'm covered in dust and sweating like a pig.” “Well, this is what they think of when they think of the field, so we're giving it to them,” came the reply.

Dejah looked over at the interviewer, a pleasant faced young woman with dark hair and a red dress suit. She was busy reading her notes, and hadn't looked up in the last fifteen minutes, except to have her lipstick reapplied.

“So, um, did they fly you in all the way from Opportunity?” Dejah asked uncertainly.

The woman looked up, and smiled slightly. “Yes. The station is there, but I fly all over for the interviews.” She turned her eyes back to her script, and Dejah decided not to question her further.

She saw Nelson standing nearby, and waved him over. “Hey! How many of these do I have to do? My team can't run sims without me, every day I'm stuck in an interview is a day we can't work.”

“There really aren't that many, perhaps ten days in all? We've scheduled two and three broadcasts for some days to cut down on the time you take away from the mission training.” he laid a hand on her shoulder, and whispered, “Come on, Ms. Sorenson. These interviews and broadcasts are going to inspire the next generation of explorers. You want others to have the same chance you had, don't you?” He patted her shoulder awkwardly, and retreated.

“Two minutes to air!” one of the cameramen called out, and the interviewer set aside her script.

“Or my sudden and untimely death on the Aresian polar desert will convince them that the age of exploration is finally over,” she muttered.

“One minute!”

She shifted in her chair again, and wished she could block out the bright lights that the studio had set up.

“Thirty seconds!”

the interviewed checked her makeup for a final time, and turned to face Dejah.

“Ten seconds!”

Dejah felt herself starting to sweat, and a bead of perspiration trickled down her back..

“Five! Four! Three!” The last two seconds were ccounted down silently, and the director pointed at the interviewer, who was suddenly smiling an improbably bright smile at Dejah.

“Good evening! This is Tricia Halpert of the Information Solar System Network, coming to you live from Bradbury Dome, where we were fortunate to get an interview with Dejah Sorenson, the scout who had been tasked with the major goal of retrieving the Phoenix Lander. Not only has she promised to get the Phoenix, but she has sworn to get it back in time for the Mars Heritage museum opening! Dejah, what inspired you to go and find the Phoenix?”

Dejah tried not to squint as she gave an inward sigh, and steeled herself to get through the day.

“Good job on the interview, Sorenson,” Nelson said as he escorted her out of the space that the studio was using. “I think we'll have to work on your presence a little bit, but hopefully people will just see that as authenticity.”


Nelson turned toward her, wondering if he had misheard. “Excuse me?”

“I said, no.” She stopped walking, and stood, hands on her hips. “I'll do the damn interviews, and the classroom broadcasts. I've agreed to that. But I'm not rehearsing for them. If they don't like me the way I am, that's just tough for them.” she walked away, ignoring his protests, and made her way to the gym.

It was empty, and she quickly changed into her exercise clothes,. Powdering her hands, she looked up at the rings again. She'd been able to make some progress on them, but didn't feel like trying today. No, after the interview, she wanted something that would require physical exertion, but not mental.

She found herself drawn to the wide expanse of the mat, and smiled. “Alright then.”

Dejah stepped onto the mat, and stretched for a moment, feeling the tension begin to drain out of her body. She reached high above her head, then launched herself forrward in a long chain of handsprings. She cartwheeled and spun across the mat, tumbling until her mind was fixed completely on the moment.

Her feet hit the mat, and she came to a stop, breathing hard. “Still here,” she muttered. “Still me. I'm still here.”

A thought struck her, and she quickly ran to the locker room and dressed. She made her way through the building, and out into the warehouse. It was closed for the night, but she scanned her ident badge, and heard the door open.

She saw what she was looking for almost instantly: the line of rovers near one of the smaller doors. She scanned her badge again, registering one of them to her name for a few hours, and drove it out into the night.

The airlock would be closed, she knew, but there were still places in the Dome that one could go to get away. She drove out on the plateau, away from the City.

She pulled the rover to a stop a few hundred meters from the edge of the Dome. It looked like a huge glass wall from there, sloping only slightly as it shot up into the sky.

Dejah got off the rover, and turned her back to the dome,. She lay on the cold sands and looked straight up into the sky, watching the stars slowly turn.

She closed her eyes, and felt the chill of the ground seeping into her body through the suit, and knew she would need to get up soon.

She turned her head, and let a stream of dust run through her fingers. It looked almost purple in the starlight, she realized. The land seemed to stretch away forever, past the dome and out into the night.

“It's still home,” she whispered.

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