As Sasha's Luna 21 spacecraft touched down in the Mars base camp's airlock, she breathed a sigh of relief.
No problems. Good.
She was greeted by Grant, the group's engineer. "Sasha! Great, great. Everyone's here now! We can start the party!"
Sasha didn't smile back.
Instead, she raised her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.
Really? This was nothing to joke about. They had an important job, and here Grant was throwing parties?
No, this simply wouldn't work.
"Grant. Can you get everyone to come to the planning area? We have some things to take about."
"Sure thing, Sash!"
She smiled sweetly. "Oh, one more thing. Do not call me Sash, you bitch."
To his credit, Grant chuckled. "Noted. See ya, sweetheart!"
But before Sasha could finish, Grant was gone.
She grumbled to herself. "At least he sort of listens."
When everyone had gathered in Planner's Cove, Sasha filled them in.
"Our job is an important one. Very important."
She was pacing in front of the chairs, as she tended to do when she was nervous. Or worried.
"We need to murder Mars."
The room exploded with questions instantaneously.
A young Mercuri woman named Leanne asked, "How?"
Her brother Marc asked why.
"Well, if you would all settle down, I'd tell you!" Sasha twirled one of her dark braids around her middle finger, thinking of a way to explain.
"The simplest way to put it is, the Venetic government has instructed us to tunnel to Mars' heart. And destroy it."
The Uranian, Viktor, stood up. "What we use to orchestrate planet's downfall?"
"Actually, I still need to figure that out," Sasha admitted. "But I was hoping you could help. You, Cassie, Grant, Mirai over there, and probably Alexis too."
Viktor nodded his assent. "I get Lex over here? They're sleeping. Missed Grant alarm, apparently."
They both looked over to where Grant was whispering in Mirai's ear. The middle-age woman nodded, then turned to follow him to the Command Centre.
"That would be amazing, thank you." Sasha stood on a table to get everyone's attention.
She wolf-whistled, and all heads snapped up to their leader.
"Guys, I know it's confusing, but me and a few others will sort things out. Okay? We'll give you your marching orders later."
Marc saluted her, with Leanne quickly following suit.
Those Mercuri, Sasha thought, a smile curving her red lips. So fond of ceremony.
She bowed back, then spoke. "Leanne, can you take someone with you to check the greenhouses? Water the plants, maybe?"
"Yep! Kendall?" Leanne pivoted to face her.
Kendall nodded, and the two Growers scurried off.
"Well? What are all you weird-ass people doing? Go have fun!" Sasha said.
She loved her crew, but sometimes they were just too militant.
Her crew happily obliged and crammed through the doors.
In the Command Centre, the officers sat around the horseshoe table, Sasha in the middle.
She placed her hands flat on the table. "So. Any ideas?"
Mirai tried to speak, but Alexis beat her to it.
"What if we take explosives?" they asked.
Sasha shook her head. "Um, but that would blow us up too. Besides, can't you think of anything other than TNT?"
They seemed to think for a while. Their shoulders drooped. "No."
"O-kay. Any other ideas hat don't involve things that blow up?" Sasha looked down both sides of the table. "Anyone?"
Well then. Meeting adjourned!" If she'd had a gavel, she would have banged it. Sadly, she didn't.
As everyone was leaving, she asked, "Oh, Grant, please write a heading on a piece of paper; To Buy and one item: a gavel. Thanks."
He jotted it down on a piece of scrap paper that looked like one of his old math tests.
"Bye! See ya later!" He walked out the door, the last to go.
A few hours later, Beck, Mirai's son, walked into Sasha's quarters.
"How the hell did you get in here?" Sasha demanded. "Why are you in here? Leave, now!"
"Whoa, whoa, no need to be rude." Beck closed the door behind him. "Also, maybe if you don't want visitors, lock your door."
"Oh." Sasha blushed a deep pink, which was something she didn't do very often.
It was just the heat. Of course.
"You didn't have to come in, you know."
"Oh, really?" He leaned against the door with his arms crossed, his muscles bulging.
Realising she was staring, Sasha looked away. "Um, yeah. I don't need intrusions by teenagers."
"I'm not a teenager! I'm twenty-five!" Beck exclaimed indignantly. "You're younger than me!"
Sasha rolled her eyes. "Just go."
"Fine!" Beck slammed the door and stormed down the carpeted hallway, almost pushing the petite Cassie over.
She came into Sasha's living room-slash-office, carrying a pile of papers higher than her head.
She plopped them down on the leader's desk.
Sasha smiled. "Thanks, Cassie."
Now being able to see her turquoise eyes, Sasha could see that they sparkled mischievously within their owlish frames.
"Boy trouble?" she asked cheekily.
"Cassidy!" Sasha shouted. "You cannot tell anyone. Understand?"
"Perfectly." Still smiling. And occasionally giggling.
Sasha and Cassie were best friends, had been ever since school, so she knew Sasha's emotions crazy well.
"I swear on Saturn's rings, I won't tell!"
Sasha raised an eyebrow. Cassie nodded, half-convincingly.
"Okay, I believe you!" Sasha threw up her hands.
Cassie did a happy dance. "Yes! Oh my stars and galaxies, this is sooo cute!"
"Yeah, yeah, okay. I get it. Now come chat with me, Cass." Sasha patted the sofa beside her.
The two friends sat there for a long while, catching up on every little thing that'd happened in the time they'd been apart.
Sasha told stories of other planets, Cassie of running things here on Mars.
All in all, it was a nice visit, and exactly the distraction Sasha needed from her stressful duties.
When the dinner bell rang, Cassie hopped up from her place on the sofa and left, with a promise to come back sometime in the next two days.
Happy, Sasha stood up herself, stretched, and made her way down to the dining hall, where a delicious supper, prepared by Chef Nadine, was waiting.