until some fifteen years ago when the Manned Mars Mission was in the early planning stages.
“One of the many problems facing the scientists working on the Triple M project was how to fit
enough water, food, and oxygen for two or perhaps three astronauts on board a craft that would
also have to carry scientific gear and enough fuel to get them safely to Mars and then, of course,
back home again on a journey that would last some sixteen to twenty months.”
Unable to sit still, Hudson got up and began to pace the length of the office, but was drawn
back to the view of the city from his huge windows that formed two walls of Carter’s office. He
stared down from his lofty position at the teeming millions of people below as he continued
speaking to Carter. “ They had obtained some insight from past experiences with the Mir Space
Station, as well as the International Space Station, such as how to recycle both air and water, but
the Triple M project had its own set of problems. If the astronauts were to run short of supplies a
hundred million miles from Earth, there wasn’t going to be much anyone could do to help them.
Of course, they were going to try and produce some of their own food during the trip – using a
system of hydroponics and the like – so the processed food they carried would only be used as a
supplement, hopefully, but even so, two years is a long time for food to just sit around.”
He turned back to face Carter before going on. “ Then, one of the scientists on the project came
across the research done on the sequoia gene. He found that if that gene was introduced into the
cells of the processed foodstuffs, it slowed the breakdown of the cells, essentially keeping food
from spoiling for months without the necessity for added preservatives or refrigeration.” Carter
didn’t appear overly impressed by this breakthrough and Hudson moved over and put his hand
on the desk and leaned toward the man.
“ That meant that they could stock the Triple M ship with more than enough food for the
extended trip and didn’t have to worry about any of the food going bad before they returned to
“ I understand that part of it,” Carter said with a wave of his hand, “but how did we become
involved with the Mars mission?”
“We didn’t,” Hudson replied, moving away from the desk and back to the window. “We became
involved after they returned. Something happened on that long trip to Mars, something that no
one has yet been able to understand.”
He became silent and Carter waited for him to continue. When he didn’t speak for sometime,
Carter finally asked, “So what happened?”
Shaking off his inner thoughts, Carter went on. “We know what happened, we just don’t know
why. Somewhere out there in the blackness of the space between the Moon and Mars the sequoia
gene changed. It mutated, for lack of a better term. It may have been the extended lack of gravity
or perhaps it was cosmic radiation – nobody knows for sure and why it happened isn’t really that
important. What is important is the result of the mutation.” He turned back to Face Carter, but
didn’t leave his place near the window.
“When the mutated gene was ingested and digested by the astronauts, it managed to attach itself
to cells in their own bodies and then did the same thing to their cells as it did to the food cells. It
slowed down the cell deterioration.”
Not sure if his friend meant to imply that this was good or bad, Carter had to ask, "Is that a good
or bad result?"
Hudson sighed, again. "It depends on how you view the future of the human race," he answered,
which didn't help Carter to understand the situation any better, at all.
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