THE HEARTSIDE OF PLUTO
by R.E. Hilburn
July 2015, NASA released an image forever touching our hearts.
The New Horizons Space Probe launched on January 19, 2006 to answer questions about Pluto, its moons, and Kuiper Belt objects. On July 14, 2015 it was successful in its Pluto flyby mission and transmitted back to Earth an image that showed us that the dwarf planet possessed a heart. This image was THE HEARTSIDE OF PLUTO.
You might have wondered what the fuck an archaeologist was doing on the surface of Pluto, right in the heart of the planet, but if you knew the whole damn story the madness of it would make sense. I’m Dr. Aidan Rossetti, self-proclaimed asshole and badass archaeologist. I specialized in ground penetrating radar. It’s a tool that lets you know what’s under the surface without digging. It’s a useful tool for an archaeological dig, but for space exploration--?
It all started three years ago when NASA contacted me at my icy archaeological site in the Antarctic, where I was working on the Ross Sea Party site. I was in the process of looking at ice penetrating radar images of what could be a boat buried under the thick pale blue ice. A graduate student was filming me as the key images came up on the computer monitors.
“Make sure you get the images and me in the frame. Do you hear me? I don’t need anyone else stealing my credit and this video offers hard proof that I found this shit. I’m risking my life in the most extreme conditions Earth has to offer to make a name for myself, so get it right,” I grabbed the camera lens directing the angle. My assistant Angela ran in interrupting us.
“Dr. Rossetti, satellite call for you,” she pushed the clunky piece of junk in my face.
“Is it my fiancé?”
“Then tell who ever it is to suck off. I’m in the middle of the biggest damn discovery of my career.”
“Rossetti… it’s NASA. You want me to tell NASA to suck off?”
I grabbed the phone from her expecting it to be a joke, “This is Rossetti.”
“Dr. Rossetti, I’m Mission Operations Manager Jen Tract at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. We’ve contacted you to ask if you would be interested in working on our TRRM project? How would you like to go to Pluto?”
With those words, my part in this insane space mission began, but no one could foresee the insanity that would unfold once we landed. It was part matters of the heart, part matters of the mind, and all a matter of science. The matters of the heart don’t only point to our landing point, the heart of Pluto, but to my own heart as well. The dark side of my heart, that is.
It has often been said that Hemingway, and all of his close kin, were driven to suicide due to a build up of too much iron in the brain. An observation I can now empathize with. When this all began, I, nor anyone involved knew that all these factors stacked on top of each other would result in the unfortunate events that happened on the TRRM project.
TRRM – TOMBAUGH REGIO RECONNAISSANCE MISSION
The mission, in short, entailed landing in the heart shaped region of Pluto known as the Tombaugh Regio to gather images below the icy surface with ground penetrating radar. Penetration, my specialty, and why NASA needed me.
It was a classified mission, due to the astonishing nature of the recent finds that prompted NASA to send me. They were finds that would send society, as we knew it, into chaotic freak-out frenzy. We’ve seen it all before play out in the movies when findings such as these are unleashed to the public. Mass suicides, cults, panic, armed fear, and the total and complete screwing of all things systemic. No, the world wasn’t ready for this. So it was kept classified until more data could be gathered in the form of a reconnaissance mission. So what is this damn Earth shattering find you might ask? I’ll tell you, but are you ready for it?
A Pluto Rover exploring the western icy plains of the heart, or the Sputnik Planum as that area is called, had picked up an artifact that could only be described on Earth as space junk, or so it seemed. On closer inspection it was obvious that it wasn’t just any space junk. It had writing all over it in a language we had never seen, though it looked similar to two known ancient languages. One was Archaic Chinese script and the other was Cuneiform. These engravings on the artifact ruled it out as being just space junk and we knew it had to be something much more. The Pluto Rover could be housing the biggest find so far in human space exploration AND archaeology combined in its storage bay. Perhaps it was just as many outsider archaeologists had always theorized, that archaeological finds and space exploration were one in the same. That kind of thinking would always get you shunned by the science journals so only the bravest, or craziest archaeologist ever dared make such proclamations. Now, it seemed this key piece of evidence would back them up so hard, you could actually imagine those archaeologists smugly giving the bird to all their skeptics. They would probably even jerk off to it.
Now, NASA needed to get a handle on what the hell it was and decided to launch its first manned mission to the surface of Pluto to retrieve the artifact and bring it back to Earth. Since it was impossible to launch a full-scale archaeological dig like on Earth, they needed another way to gather information from the surface. That’s where the ground penetrating radar came in. That’s where I came in. As I said, icy penetration was my special skill.
That is how I ended up in this current state of deep sleep inside a stasis sleep chamber spinning through space on a journey to Pluto. Now, three years after leaving Earth, we would wake up.
My assistant Angela Charlotte, and myself Dr. Aidan Rossetti, were on this wild space ride in the company of NASA’s finest. The crew, or my space roommates as I called them, were -- ridiculously smart Latina astronaut & physician Dr. Crystal Medina, Mensor Hawke the giddy pilot and engineering genius mechanic who refused to fly anything unless he also knew the mechanics of it inside and out. He could literally rebuild the damn thing if he needed too. Last and the very least, Jake Austin the lead mission specialist and fiancé fucker. Yeah, that’s right -- fiancé fucker. Jen Tract at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama supported us on the ground. That’s if she was still alive. It had in fact been three years since we left Earth. Who knew what the hell could have happened in that time.
The mission leader, Jake Austin, was as cocky and arrogant as they came and I hated every fiber of his being. Why? Because he reminded me of myself, but an even bigger reason was the exchange I saw between him and my fiancé hours before we left Earth. My fiancé Elizabeth once told me she fell in love with me because of my long unruly hair, strange way of dressing, and cocky intelligence. Jake also had all these superficial hipster nerd qualities, and Elizabeth had noticed.
He was six feet tall, charismatic, lively, and had a need to own every room. It was like looking in the ego mirror. We were even the same age, 35. Even more so, we were the same in opposite, like the bizarro versions of each other. We were both explorers, but he explored the heavens above, and I explored the treasures underground. He bothered me beyond freakin’ belief because I needed to be my own original person, and he was too much like me. In the Antarctic, I was the badass scientist with my own team. Now, I was with a version of my evil twin and that equilibrium I felt on my expeditions of being one of a kind, was gone. I knew it was my damn ego, but at least I acknowledged it. In short, Jake Austin was a threat to my very existence, and the more time I spent with him the more this thought seemed to take root in my mind.
I knew we would butt heads on the mission, but I was not expecting a complete and utter maddening silent hatred for the man. Something that I was justified in feeling, I assure you. These were the thoughts and dreams that were on repeat in my state of stasis sleep for three years. Then -- I suddenly felt my dreams fade out and something catch in my throat. I began to cough uncontrollably. I violently gasped for air.
“It’s okay. Just keep coughing. You’re just adapting to the air,” Dr. Crystal Medina was at my side soothing me and checking my diagnostics.
I was still vertical in the full body swing in the stasis sleep capsule. It was designed to move our bodies in a walking motion for thirty seconds every few hours for three years. The swings, along with the electrical impulse electrodes, were designed to fend off atrophy. Judging by Medina standing on her feet next to me doing her physician checks, it worked.
“Here take a very small sip when you can,” Medina handed me a small mouthwash sized cup of water.
My coughing fit finally ceased and I was unsure of my mind. I had to ask, “Is this a dream? Or are we really awake?”
“We’re really awake. It’s been three years. We’re approaching Pluto. Seventy two hours to go,” she said.
I looked at her confused, “How do I know? Everything you just said I already know. So I could put that in my dream. I could have you say it. This could be a dream. Just like all the other false wake up dreams I keep having.”
“What can I do to make you believe you are not dreaming?” Medina lowered the swing until I was on my feet. “Stand. Hold on to the capsule if you need to. Readings look good. Diagnostics normal.”
“You could… take your top off.”
“In your dreams Rossetti.”
“Move your arms, if you can. Take a few deep breaths.”
I moved my arms and followed the doctor’s orders while I looked around the infirmary. Mensor Hawke and Jake Austin were sitting on examination tables. Angela was still asleep in her capsule. The swings were moving her body and it was odd and fascinating to watch. Austin turned to me and flashed that blinding grin of his. As soon as I saw it, everything came flooding back, everything with Elizabeth my fiancé.
When my training with NASA began, Elizabeth agreed to move into NASA housing with me. She was a writer and her office was wherever she wanted it to be. She was an independent woman that needed that sort of freedom. With my archaeological career she was used to being apart from me for months at a time or she would accompany me at times. She called it separate togetherness; an ideal she said kept relationships fresh. I believed her. This mission would be six years and it was a lot to ask of her. Nevertheless, I could not pass it up. The insatiable curiosity in me is what led me to be an explorer in the first place, and this was the ultimate of explorations. Not to mention the superiority I felt by having my ego inflated by the fact that NASA came looking for me. Just the thought of it made me hard. I would be making a name for myself as an archaeologist and as an astronaut. I’m not sure it got any better than that for an asshole like me. I desired to be known for my findings above all else. It was a desire that put me in dangerous situations. I didn’t mind. I would die for it.
Elizabeth assured me she would half wait, meaning she would do her best to wait for me, and if she was single when I returned we could pick up where we left off. I guess that was fair, but I could see it behind her eyes that she didn’t know if she could wait at all. She was her own independent woman; it was what I loved about her, but also what I feared. I did fucking love her. Shit, I asked her to marry me. She was the one, but my ego was forcing me to go. Still, I’m positive she was already feeling like I was gone before I left Earth because of what happened. Pfff…before I left Earth. Never thought I would say that sentence.
It had been at the end of the six months of training with NASA and being at home very little, that I came home early from the MSFC with my routine bouquet of flowers in my hands to find my fiancé Elizabeth acting unusual. She was hiding something and acting too obvious that she was not expecting me home that early. Later that night as I got ready for bed I found the evidence for her behavior, a condom wrapper -- an open and empty fucking condom wrapper. We had not used condoms since we moved in together two years before. I confronted her about it and an exhausting argument ensued. I now knew that she had a lover, but it wasn’t until two days later at pre-flight that I knew who that lover was.
There we were, the entire crew saying our last goodbyes before the L-10 and mandatory quarantine period surrounded by family, loved ones, and mission control. Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes and issues unresolved between us, held me close. Then when she pulled away, I saw it, the exchange between her and Jake Austin. It was a look between lovers who could only say things with their eyes. My blood boiled and I was ready to leap on the bastard just as we walked away to be sterilized for isolation. What was I to do in that moment? It was minutes before everything we had worked for would finally be set into motion. I couldn’t blow a once in a lifetime mission to Pluto for a good hard sucker punch. It would stop the mission. But… now three billion miles from Earth, there was no one to stop me.
“Take a few steps if you can. Slowly, it will take a while to get your space-legs,” Medina undid the very last strap holding me in the stasis capsule.
“And you might blow chunks… like I did. It’s not pretty,” Hawke gestured at me from across the room. “Liquids and shit in your system for three years. Worst stench you can imagine.”
I took a step and another, and then had that feeling. It felt like my legs had been asleep and now blood rushing into them in pins and needles. I grabbed onto the table, “Shit, dick, shit.”
“It’ll pass in a few seconds. Just shake it out,” Medina said as she worked on waking Angela in her sleep capsule.
I shook out my legs and arms and slowly took steps with the aid of clutching on to the tables. I zeroed in on Austin. I was going straight for him. He didn’t even notice, that self-involved prick.
A few more steps then – Boom!
I got in one sloppy sucker punch right across his jaw. But in my weak state I’m not sure it did much damage. He fell over on the table, but I think that was due to his dizzy state. With the momentum of the punch swing I kept going and hit the floor. It was the sloppiest space punch of all time. It still made me feel good though.
“What the hell Rossetti?!” Medina ran over.
Hawke only laughed curled up on the exam table. Austin looked around confused like a lost puppy.
“Austin? Jake, are you alright?” Medina looked him over.
“Oh sure see to Jake the snake, I’m only lying on the floor here doctor!” I shouted.
She came to my aid and helped me to my feet. She sat me down on the table, “What the fuck was that? You can’t attack our mission leader like that.”
“He’s not our mission leader, he’s a fiancé fucker!”
Austin looked at me startled. Clearly he didn’t know I was on to him until now.
“Yeah that’s right fiancé fucker. Why don’t you tell the whole crew how you’ve been fucking my fiancé? Yeah, I realized that shit yesterday. The way you two looked at each other. I’ll fucking kill you!”
“Oh shit, for real Austin?” Hawke added in while Medina just looked on in shock.
“Three years ago,” Jake grinned at me. “Not yesterday, that was three years ago.”
“What the fuck ever! It was yesterday for us,” I yelled in frustration.
“Let it go Rossetti. Three years is a long time. Do you think she’s going to wait six years for you to come back? Who knows, she’s probably got a new lover by now and replaced us both.”
Blood boiling I took another sloppy swing at him and didn’t even make contact.
“Enough! Enough! This is a NASA classified mission! Can you two act like you deserve to have the privilege to be here! I can’t babysit you. I have to see to Angela. Hawke I got you out right after me. How are you feeling?”
“I think I’m solid now,” Hawke stood up and walked around in a circle.
“Good, maybe you can walk Austin to a sleep bunk. Keep these two separated for now. I can’t deal with this.”
Hawke grabbed Austin and helped him walk out of the infirmary. Austin of course gave me a backward glance with that annoying grin.
Four hours later we were all up and solid on our space-legs roaming the spinning sphere of a spaceship called Sphaira. Yes, a sphere. You see twenty years ago space engineers finally took a cue from nature. That is - everything in space is a round ball - yet for years we were sending phallic shaped spaceships into space wondering why they didn’t travel far. So finally a new way of space travel was invented. It consisted of three spheres inside each other almost like a Russian nesting doll. The outer sphere spun clockwise, while the second sphere inside it spun counterclockwise using a combination of the magnus effect, angular momentum, and spinoptics to travel through space. The third and innermost sphere, or core, is where we were located and it had a slower rotation to maintain a state of gravity inside. This meant we could walk around and things stayed on the floor, as they should, just like on Earth. I didn’t really understand how this all worked, but it made sense to me that mimicking round objects in space was the way to go.
Angela and I worked in the small equipment room running through checks for our GPR equipment. It had been sitting for three years so we needed to run it all to make sure it still worked before taking it out onto Pluto. I laughed to think that what we had here was probably already out of date on Earth, as new advancements were constantly being made ever since computer technology became the new ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
“Medina told me what happened after you woke up. You assaulted the mission leader?” my assistant Angela scolded me as she worked through her checklist of items.
“I would hardly call that an assault. It was more like slapstick. How’s that rover package coming along?” I said as I hit play on Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon.”
“It’s all done. Ready to sweep the surface and bounce back to the receiver. How do you know he was fucking Elizabeth?”
I gave her a look implying I did not want to discuss this maddening topic. Still she pressed on.
“It’s been three years you know. Maybe it’s best just to let it go,” she added.
“Three years for you, but for me it was just yesterday. That’s how I choose to see it. If I try to wrap my head around this three years crap I’ll go mad. I still don’t know what memories are real and which ones are things I dreamed up during three years of sleep. Now I know how a coma patient feels.”
“Then are you sure that Elizabeth and Jake were fucking? Or did you dream it for three years and trick your mind into thinking it is reality?”
I froze as I thought over Angela’s words. It’s true that I never saw any hard proof other than an empty condom wrapper and an obvious look between them. But Jake didn’t exactly deny it after I punched him. I winced at the pain in my head as I tried to understand the logic of all of this. In NASA training they really didn’t go over how to deal with the psychological effects of having your mind still active while your body was inactive for three years. It was probably because they didn’t know much about it. The only way to truly study the effects were to go through it yourself, but then would someone that had been asleep for three years be of sound mind to conduct a psychological study on themselves? I think not. Therefore it was just kept a dark secret of the NASA program.
I needed to distract Angela from continuing to talk about her theories on my psychological state. Damn her. She was smart as hell, which is why I hired her on the Ross Sea Party site, and brought her here. But you can’t hide anything from a smart person like her. She was too observant with wheels always turning.
“Now, I think we’re done here. Do you remember the drills?” I ripped open a saline bag and chugged from it.
Her nose wrinkled at my behavior, “Yes, first we track down the rover and retrieve and examine the artifact then we pick a spot for Ground Penetrating Radar set up. Then we penetrate the bitch.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
“Why are you drinking…?”
Whoosh. The door opened and Austin walked in, “Rossetti what is that?”
“A saline bag.”
“Yes, I can see that but why are you chugging from it like a frat boy trying to impress his peers by being the best douchebag possible?”
“Because, I emptied out the saline and replaced it with gin. It was the only way I could smuggle it aboard the ship, and no you can’t have a drink?”
“Of course you did. Keep those out of the infirmary will you. The last thing I need is someone getting gin straight to the artery.”
“Sounds like a party to me,” I took another gin bag shot.
I turned up the volume on the stereo and sang along with the “Brain Damage” lyrics, “-- and if your head explodes with dark forebodings too – I’ll see you on the heartside of Pluto.”
“Really? That’s the level of clever you’ve achieved?” Austin huffed.
“Oh you like that? See what I did there? I replaced dark side of the moon with heartside of Pluto,” I arched my eyebrows implying he was too stupid to get the joke.
“Yeah, I get it. I just think it’s shit. Don’t get drunk. I want you both on the flight deck in ten. We’re approaching Pluto.”
I grabbed his arm on his way out. I was ready to interrogate the bastard about what the hell happened between him and Elizabeth. But the tense moment was interrupted with Angela loudly clearing her throat. So instead I said in my most serious scientific tone, “Is it true what they say? Does Pluto really have a hard on? A heart on… get it?”
Angela laughed. Austin rolled his eyes at me and left the room.
“I thought it was funny,” Angela added.
“That is why you’re my assistant.”
Ten minutes later we were on the flight deck strapped into our seats.
“Everyone ready?” Austin said as more of a command than a question and then continued, “Coming out of hibernation mode.”
Austin, Hawke, and Medina flipped switches and the ship came alive.
“All systems check. Call it out Medina,” Austin commanded.
Angela and I sat back as the crew checked all the systems and the ship examined itself for any damage that could have been sustained by spinning through space. I thought it was a miracle that rogue asteroid chunks did not hit us. Then it was time to slow the spin of our space balls and get a look out the window.
Slowly the inner and outer circles slowed in their spinning and aligned. This allowed for windows to be aligned and uncovered. Then there it was, through the windows, the black vastness of outer space.
“Holy shit,” I was breathless at the beauty of the unknown.
“Is this real? I can’t believe this,” Angela whispered.
The rest of the crew smiled in congratulations of each other. Angela and I were the outsiders here and the epic reality of what we were experiencing was too much to fathom from our previous existence of being Earth diggers.
Then the dwarf planet itself came into view through our window.
“There it is,” Hawke rejoiced.
“Yep, there it is. And look, it’s got a heart on for us,” Austin yelled out.
Medina and Hawke laughed at Austin’s clever joke. Angela gave me a look because we both knew the prick stole that joke from me.
“Oh, what the fuck Austin?! It wasn’t enough for you to steal my fiancé you’re stealing my jokes now too? I freakin’ hate your soul”.
His attempts at being me were eating away at me. He was stealing my damn identity!
“Everyone shut up!” Hawke shouted, his eyes wide with fright.
Through the window there was something coming at us, and fast!
“What the hell is that?” Angela’s voice shook with fear.
“Space dust! Everyone hold on!” Austin shouted as space rocks pummeled us like hail. It was small at first sounding like the last kernels of popcorn popping, then a complete barrage like a machine gun.
“Ice from the Kuiper belt!” Medina yelled as her hands frantically hit switches.
The sound of the ice rocks hitting the ship was the most frightening sound I had ever heard. I knew the look of fear and anger on my face was evident. I was pissed that this would be the end after lasting three years floating through space while we slept, and now so close to landing we were going to be done in by a bunch of rocks. No, not just rocks, ice rocks! I had battled ice for years in the Antarctic and yet it still found me in the far reaches of space. Fucking ice!
I watched as Hawke expertly maneuvered around the larger chunks that would have caused serious damage. He was focused, like a hawk. Then, there was total silence once more. We had made it. Everyone cheered. I finally breathed and let out a long string of, “fucking, shit, fuck.”
We landed our spaceship sphere on the surface of the icy plains of the dwarf planet Pluto. This was it. Giving up six years of life on Earth had all come down to this. Everyone clapped and cheered as the landing gear settled in nice and firm. The view was otherworldly. No, seriously. It was constant twilight here during the day, which was equal to 6.4 Earth days. We all stood at the window, speechless. Until…
“Now we can establish contact. Medina set up comm. Satellites check. We can contact MSFC and then download messages,” Austin commanded and Medina went into action.
“Messages?” I asked.
Austin just gave me a look, but he didn’t answer. Hawke answered in his place, “Yep, video messages hopefully from our family recorded over the last three years. After we establish contact, base will send up the payload. It will take several hours for them to reach us and download. Should be ready in about ten hours or so if all goes well.”
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. In fact, now that I thought of it, I was feeling foggy headed. We had all been up for over twelve hours through final approach. I was surprised that after three years of sleep my body had reverted back to a biological clock of needing regular sleep patterns, or perhaps it was the gin.
“Get some shut eye. We meet with the Pluto Rover in nine hours,” Austin ordered. I was more than happy to obey that order and lay down for a bit.
When I woke up hours later I had the worst hang over. I guess drinking gin after three years of hibernating like a bear was a bad idea. My head was pounding. That wasn’t going to stop me from doing what I did best, mother effn’ exploring. It was a passion that was driven by my insatiable curious nature, and I was going to explore Pluto if it killed me. The door of my bunk swished open. I stepped into the hall to make my way to the staging area to get dressed. I was excited until another door swished open and Jake stepped out. Now we awkwardly walked down the hall… together.
“Did you do it?” I asked without looking at him as we walked.
“I wondered when in these six years you would ask me,” he said.
“That’s not a fucking answer.”
“Let me ask you this, if it were the other way around, would you?” he asked.
I knew that meant he did, because yes I would if it were the other way around.
Boom! I pushed him against the wall. Another swish sound as Medina came out of her bunk.
“What the shit? Not again. Are we going out onto the surface or are you two going to screw it up for us?”
She was right. I let him go and walked ahead trying to calm my mind and not think of that fuck face fucking my fiancé. Only the prospect of walking on another planet could get that image out of my mind.
We all dressed in our space finest. The latest space fibers, bulletproof glass domed helmets, and specialized projections and sound inside the suit. Everyone except Hawke suited up for our first space walk on the icy surface. He would stay behind on the flight deck and guide us to the Pluto Rover. Our space suits were the standard used, with the exception of one specialty item for Pluto, crampons. We had to wear them due to the icy surface. Something I was completely used to, but not in space.
We sat in the fancy space car inside the bay of the spaceship as the door lowered like a drawbridge. Then, there it was, the surface of Pluto. Nitrogen ice flurries swirled around like a light snowdrift. The terrain was icy and in the distance, mountainous. We all laughed cheerfully at what we were doing. It was in a sense, a very crazy thing to be doing. Austin drove the rover out of the ship and onto the surface.
“This is unbelievable,” Angela’s voice was loud and clear inside my space suit over the comm radio.
“I bet you never thought joining me in the Antarctic would lead you to Pluto,” I added.
“Not in a million years. I knew I was crazy to go to the Antarctic, now it’s clear I’ve completely lost my mind to be doing this. We are all a bunch of crazy sons of bitches.”
The door slowly rose back up flush against the ship making it a round ball once more. Now, we were truly alone on the planet. A map was projected inside our helmet glass. We followed the direction of the red blinking pin, which was the Pluto Rover with the artifact we came to retrieve.
“Medina are you sure I’m awake? Because this looks like a dream to me, this is unreal,” I said taking in the sights. I looked overhead at the foggy dream like veil of an atmosphere and the constant twilight glow. I really was at a loss for words. We slowly crossed the ice field passing glaciers made of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane ice. They seemed to be flowing if only an inch per year. We passed ice volcanoes and I knew that I would never see anything like them in my life again. It was one unbelievable sight after another.
Then, the rover came into view. We were all lost in the wonders surrounding us until the beeping sound of the beacon became louder and faster.
Austin pointed, “There she is. She looks great.”
“Oh does she?” I said as we pressed on through the ice, “Try not to screw her. I know how much you like to screw things that look good to you.”
“Rossetti…” Medina said in a tone that implied to cool out even though I could only see the back of her head.
“What? Robot sex is a thing now. Or it was when we left Earth three years ago. I can only imagine the advancements,” I laughed.
“You said the rover had moved from the site that the artifact was picked up?” Angela asked.
“Yeah, it took hours for the transmission of the data of the artifact to reach base on Earth. Once the team saw the photos they stopped the rover in its tracks. Which is where it is now. So it picked it up hours before it reached the point it’s at now. We have the coordinates for that spot. Hawke can you activate the pick up point pin on our map?” Austin radioed back to the Sphaira.
“Yes sir coming right up,” Hawke’s voice came in through the radio speakers in our helmets.
Soon there was another blinking light on our map. I turned over my shoulder to take a look in the direction of the pin.
“That’s where it picked up the artifact, at the base of those mountains. The Hillary Montes.” Austin said.
We all looked over at the Hillary Montes Mountains. The ice sheet coming down the mountainsides made something in the foreground stick out in far contrast. In fact it was a few things sticking out.
“Son of a bitch,” I realized exactly what I was looking at.
“Is that…” Angela shifted in her seat.
“There in front of the mountain. That pattern. Do you see it?” I looked closer at the area. “Those are stones. I’m sure of it.”
“Stones? There are plenty of rocks and stones on this rock. What’s your meaning Rossetti?” Medina asked.
“Meaning there’s something there. It’s only the tops of it. It’s covered in space dirt and ice, they’re structures. There’s plenty of examples of it on Earth,” Angela added.
“That’s where we need to GPR after we retrieve the artifact,” I said excitedly. This was unbelievable!
“What examples on Earth? What the hell are you two talking about?” Austin added in frustration.
“Avebury,” Angela said.
“The Gobi Desert circles,” I added.
“And of course the most preserved one still partially intact, Stonehenge,” Angela said with such arrogance I thought I might be rubbing off on her.
The car was silent as Medina and Austin mulled over the shocking information we had just told them.
“So you’re saying those stones were placed there in some kind of pattern?” Medina asked.
“That’s what it looks like from here. It’s identical to what we see at these sites on Earth, standing stones. I would need to get a closer look and penetrate the bitch before I know anything else,” I rapidly said in such excitement that I thought my heart would explode.
The rover drove on and parked a few feet away from the Pluto Rover that had been exploring the surface for years. We all carefully stepped out of the space car and walked to it. Austin went to work opening the control panel and pushing buttons. The rover went into action. It’s robotic arm reached into its cargo hold and pulled something out.