Prologue: Blast Off

You don't really remember the last forty-eight hours.

Rather, you don't want to remember the last forty-eight hours.

It all started outside the bar, like all good stories do. You were standing somewhere, leaning on something, God only knows or remembers.

"Your place or mine?" one of you might have said.

"I know something more fun than that." one of you might have replied.

And now here you are, strapped to a seat that's way too small for you, on a rocket ship currently in the process of blasting off to Mars.

The year is 2100. It's January third. New century, new resolutions, as they say.

The stupidity of it all hits you all of a sudden as the fancy cyber-drugs you two have been doing starts to wear off. If this were the start of a movie the protagonist would be waking up with a severe case of amnesia.

But you don't have amnesia. You remember everything way too clear.

"Shit," you say, looking around at your partner in crime, "Kate, what the fuck did we do?"

"My name isn't Kate." she says nonchalantly. Or rather, as nonchalantly as it's possible to be with all the jaw-ripping g-forces pushing her back into the seat.

"What? It isn't?" Maybe you don't remember anything clear.

"Yeah, that was a lie, name's Sonya. Sonya Wu." she says. "Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you Sonya, my name is Gray. Gray Dupont." you say. "Gray with an A. Very boring, I know."

"I thought you said your name is George." she says, looking surprised.

"Do I look like a George to you?" you say, trying your damnedest to do puppy eyes.

"You look like a Gray." she says with a shit-eating grin. "Gray as gray can be, you sad muppet."

"How long does it take to get to Mars, anyway?"

"Sixteen hundred hours." she says.

"In humanly understandable units of time would be preferred." you say sarcastically.

"Only a sad muppet like you wouldn't have a maths chip inplanted." She laughs.

You feign a hurt expression and pout as best as you can with your jaw dislocating out of your face.

"Excuse me for not being born into a wealthy family."

"You are excused." she says sagely. "How much do you have left, by the way?"

"In humanly understandable words and expressions would be preferred." you say, rolling your eyes.

"You know, the lottery winnings."

"Nothing." you say. "It's two million fucking American micro-pesos for two. I should have gone by myself."

"American dollars are worth more than most currencies." she says matter-of-factly.

"That is good to know, real good to know." you say sarcastically. "Tell me that again as we both starve to death slowly on the good old red planet."

"I'll set you up with my friend in Rosa." she says calmly. "Name's Darcy. Darcy Day."

"That is the fakest name I have never heard." you say. "Where's Rosa?"

"On Mars, you sad muppet."

You sigh. The conversation feels like it's over. You try to lean back before you remember you can't move an inch. Or even a millimeter.

Sixteen hundred hours to Mars. You have an uneasy feeling you're never going to land…