CH. 66 «But Where To?»

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07-08-2310

Fondgrid sat forward on Dannae’s bed, hunched over the glow of the large sized Droid in his palms. He was engaged in a match of his favorite strategy game as I waited for the downloads of the new apps he suggested I acquire to finalize and install. A bowl of fire lay smoldering between us, not knowing for certain where it was going next.

“So this is it, you’re moving huh?” the dark-haired, pale skinned Amazonian asked, not really taking his eyes off the game but giving me full attention with his pointy ears. “The last days of your life on Mars.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” I said remorsefully, setting down Nomi, my faithful robotic companion, and scooping up the bowl to reignite its aromatic contents. “I’ve gotta take advantage of everything this place has that Earth doesn’t,” I spoke while exhaling.

“You don’t really have much time to do that, right?” Fondgrids blue eyes made contact with something other htan the screen as he took a moment to set down his Droid and receive the glass pipe I was offering.

“Less than a week, then I take one last trip for a handful of days and I’m off this desolate, red world for at least a year…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to come back as soon as possible,” I admitted, retrieving Nomi to double check something on my itinerary.

“There’s always some sort of last hurrah with you, Klay,” he chuckled, aware that I can’t just walk away from anything without leaving a lasting impression or going out with a bang. “But where to?”

“You know, I’m not really sure yet…though I really need to decide if I’m going to do anything, time is running out after all.” I consulted Nomi, bringing up notes I had been making over the past few weeks as I’d tried to determine just that. “What do you think about the wastes out towards Daedalia Planum and the Three Sisters?” I felt confidence in asking a native these sorts of things as opposed to automatically trusting the recommendations my droid makes.

Fondgrid almost choked on the air he was breathing and coughed out “Tharsis? That desert? What’s out there that you could possibly be interested in?”

“I don’t know” I muttered, glancing down at my Droid to check what note I had made on the region. “Isn’t a lot of silver supposed to come from there?”

“That was just a myth, I thought, propagated by prospectors, settlers, and probably the same people who came up with the idea of the Gold Rush,” my Amazonian friend’s statements came charged with spite, probably because he hated that dried up, shriveled feeling one gets in arid climates.

“No, if I remember correctly,” he continued, realizing it would be more helpful for me not to have his appraisal clouded with cynicism, “the only things out there—besides all the squamata—are a few scattered desert settlements existing from when a charter of settlers lost their bearings and crash landed far away from their intended coastal destination.

“Desperate desert-folk?” I pictured it. “Ok, what about up in Cydonia?” I inquired about the next bullet on my list, “I heard there was some sort of life stemming from there.”

“You heard wrong, my friend. It’s quiet and very much asleep around those parts, and the same goes for all the territory of Arabia. Lot of green plant life, but not too much of the social life you’re looking for.” He paused a moment to strike a lighter and inhale, exhaling as he said “But you do like to stay home and smoke all day, so who knows, it might work out for you.”

“I’m not quite sure if I want to spend my vacation the same way I’ve spent the past 4 years of my life…that would sort of defeat the purpose of finding an exciting place to travel to, especially if it’s going halfway around the planet to get back to business as usual.” I sighed and looked back down at my droid. “What do you know about Knossos?”

“In Elysium? You know that’s the land of the dead, right? Nothing goes on up there,” Brick’s words were again charged with a noticeable bitterness.

“What about the visual and music scenes, aren’t a lot of really interesting artists from that area?” I replied, slightly dismayed by his reaction to this destination. “I always thought that it was even more astro than Novus Angelicas.”

“You are sort of a hipster…and you do like to complain about it being too hot and sunny all the time here, but do you seriously think you could withstand nine months of down pour?” he asked genuinely.

“Well, as great of a contrast to the nine months of hot sunshine I’ve been getting living in SoAm you’re probably right, I’d get sick of the rain real quick. Anything that doesn’t change at least once over the course of a week tends to drive me insane,” I said, slightly defeated until I glanced back down at Nomi. “Ah, but its summer, now! It’s not going to be nearly as miserable as any other time of the year would be.”

“Look man, unless you can afford to go to shows or you know someone who can be your personal tour guide, I think you’re going to be bored to tears up there.”

“I thought it was a popular, lovable place…” I whined, refusing to admit defeat, “…but maybe I’ve only heard that from people who were raised there.”

“Notice you never met any of them up there; they all moved down here cause they think it’s better,” Brick stated.

“Meh…this place,” I muttered.

“What’s so wrong with this place? N.A. and OC are the ultimest spots on this planet, and everyone in Sol knows it,” I had the Amazonian defending his hometown now.

“See, that’s just the thing. I don’t wanna offend, but I just don’t think it’s as cosmo as everyone thinks it is. There’s something integrally wrong with this place; it’s just too plastic and fabricated.”

Fondgrid chuckled to let me know he didn’t take it personally and said “Well, what do you expect? It’s the most modern location this side of the Main Asteroid Belt. Modern means pre-fabbed plastic. Across the Solar System I think Japeth is the only place that tops it. That’s as far as publically available technology and conveniences go.”

“Or Fortuna,” I mentioned, reminding us again of how much more opulent that small rock of a world was than any moon or planet.

“Yeah, but you don’t wanna go trying to look for life in any of those places; it’s way too expensive to stay long enough to find any conclusive evidence or results…even more costly than it’s been for you here,” he could only guess how much It had truly cost me to maintain my Martianhood.

“Heh, you’re probably right…where do you suggest I go to find life? Down south of the border?”

We both burst into laughter before I could finish those words. “Yeah right, you can’t call that life,” he eventually replied.

“I didn’t think so either…it seems like kind of the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. I’m not looking for a rags-to-rags story here,” I snickered.

“Well, maybe it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to visit just Martia City…or maybe some of the safer, Earthlingized resort towns. Tiwan might be interesting if you’re looking for contrasts,” he halfheartedly advised, not really wanting me to head south of the boarder and disappear forever.

“Ugh… just no…I could be going to be in Pratus in a week or two, so I’m going to have all the disgusting, drunk-party city experiences I’ll be able to stand, and then some.”

“Just a thought, I wouldn’t really wish that trip on anyone. I guess it’s just a convenient way to get off world if you live in SoAm, but only if there’s nowhere else in the entire Solar System that you’d rather go,” he laughed. “Still, I don’t want you to end up dead or less any organs.”

We continued to find good reasons to shoot down each other’s ideas for another half hour before we were joined by Dannae, Brick’s lovi. She had literally just returned from a month-long journey through Jupiter. She’d been taking her time rinsing off the stardust and smell of rocket fuel in the shower and was relieved she didn’t miss my little farewell party. It was tradition on Mars to bless moving off-world, and the ceremony usually included the passing of the pipe. I might not be getting a cake or a keg at this send-off, but I got to hear some travel tales and sage advice for my eminent adventure. Dannae brushed out her damp brunette hair as she recounted each day of her trip, gesticulating with a plastic comb.

“I’ve been keeping up with your feed—you know, cause we’re mutual friends with Brick. I saw what you posted about making some stops on your trek home. Where are you thinking of heading?” the light-eyed Amazonian girl pointed the comb at me and asked.

“Well,” I again sat down the Droid. It was probably the reason I’d appeared to make a surge of updates recently. “as I was just saying to your lovi; I want to see as much of Mars as I can before I launch but I don’t know where the gork I’m going. I mean, I know I should probably try to just hit all the big capitals and cultural hotbeds along the coast north and through Tempe, and journey all the way to Elysium and Antoniadi in Ganymedean Gaia.” She nodded, of course knowing the coastal route I was drawing in my head. “I Just think it’s going to be a bit expensive to travel to and stay in all these places.”

“Yeah, much cheaper to travel in groups. Watch out with that flying solo” she cautioned. “Where after that?”

“Heading back in to Earth. I’ve already got arrangements for my stuff to be shipped back in a container, and I just have to end up at my old unit before it arrives; in about 2 weeks. But I think I’m going to be staying on Luna for a few days of the trip. I’m not sure where yet, but I’ve never been to Le Pratus, I liked Crater when Brick and I saw it, and I can’t help but hear great things about Tycho; also I know people who will be in all of those places, and I should be able to couch surf the moon to make it cheaper,” I explained to them. Dannae seemed attentive, obviously bitten by the travel bug, and Brick spending as much time looking up as staring down at his fancy Droid.

“Maybe you should spend more time there than you do on Mars, if that’s the case,” a suggestion came surprisingly from Fondgrid, whom I’m sure was giving more focus to whatever game he had running. “You know you’ll be back here soon enough to keep reporting about this place, and not lose a beat on your correspondence or whatever it is that you write all the time…who reads that anyway?” he asked somewhat ambiguously.

“You guys…I thought…” suddenly concerned my linked-on friends on Mars weren’t even keeping up with my tlog.

“Oh, no; we do,” Dannae said, giving a confident nudge to her lovi, “he meant who’s supposed to read it? I just always wondered if there’s someone specific on Earth who you keep the netlog for, just by the assumptive tone you take in your rants.”

I chuckled. “No, there’s no one in particular that I’m addressing them to at all..maybe myself in the future of some other dimension. My little brother, perhaps. They’re really for anyone to read, though. I mean, whether I’m a Writer or not, I am a tlogger, of course I want everyone in the whole Solar System to be unceremoniously forced to read it in some official publication. My words are for anyone who thinks they might apply to their lives.”

“Well, good luck with that, friend,” Fondgrid said with a forlorn smile.

“And best of luck with your travels, Klay. I hope you can get back to Mars and see us soon, but until then I’ll at least be getting updates on your whereabouts from your thingie,” Dannae assured, her eyes expressing how sad she was to see me go.

“Don’t worry, you guys are probably right. I’ll be back in this forsaken place before I know it,” I agreed, and forced an optimistic smile as I added “it’ll be just like I never left.”

CIRCULARCROP-itlom118-chapter-butwhereto copy

PREV: CH. 65 «Words on Parting Mars»

PREV: CH. 65 «Words on Parting Mars»

NEXT:  CH. 67 «Packing Up The Pod»

NEXT: CH. 67 «Packing Up The Pod»

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