The Martian Enigma

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“I’m concerned about Andrew,” Angie said, almost in a whisper.

Chris Bowen, NASA Director of Flight Operations, took in a deep breath, on one hand steeling himself for what Angie might be about to say and on the other, trying to ignore the sexual attraction of the stunning woman seated across the desk from him, an Android Generation III, her title shortened to the nickname, Angie.

He chose his words with care. “Andrew is the android commander of Ares V, the first craft slated to land on Mars. Before you speak any further, I must caution you that I will be required to address any concerns expressed about one of our commanders. Any unfounded comment could place Andrew’s career and indeed, our whole program in jeopardy.”

Angie lowered her head and grimaced, biting her lower lip. In a moment, she raised her face and stared Bowen in the eye. “I thought all that through before I asked for this meeting with you, and—”

“—stop right there,” Bowen interrupted. “You and Andrew have a very close—”

“—intimate—”

“—relationship. Uh, . . . I didn’t want to make it any more personal than it needs to be.” Bowen said. “But I have to be sure this isn’t about some lover’s quarrel.”

“Damn you!” Angie said. “Do you think I’d risk Andrew’s career and the whole mission to Mars for some petty argument?”

Silence. Followed by “No.”

“Shall I go on, then?”

“Now that we understand each other, yes.”

Angie spoke haltingly at first, but then her voice crescendoed into despair. “No one else in the program could see it, but I can—because of our relationship—and he’s changed.”


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