The Untold stories of Mars Story 2: To Boldly go were No Martian has Gone Before

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Kira Krieger, Copy Editor

Odin was staring at the ceiling of his bedroom from his bed as he threw a ball against the wall, repeatedly. It had been a year since the incident in Aphrodite and since then, nothing had the same thrill of being on the lam and dealing with gangsters. Nothing had been quite the same since he met Ambrose, especially after he moved him and his family.  “Must you do that?” Ambrose asked, drowsily rolling over in the other bed in Odin’s room.

“Sorry for wake you, but … you know … things have been boring since … I can’t believe I’m saying this … since they stopped yelling that the top of their lungs in the middle of the night.”

“Well, I find it calming that your parents arguing no longer disturb the natural sound of Phobos Delta.”

“What natural sounds?”

“Silence is a beautiful thing. You should learn to love it,” he said, cozying back to sleep.

Odin tried to follow Ambrose’s lead but wound up nerves and anxious thoughts kept him up. “Ambrose,” he moaned, “do you still know where your ship is?”

“That’s a silly question. I still remember what you were wearing the day we met.”

“And what was that?”

“The outfit you’re wearing right now.”

“Not fair!” Odin protested, sitting up with his feet on the floor. “Where is it?

“Behind a rock outside of Aphrodite.”

“I don’t understand. How could they not find that?”

“Alexandronian ships turn invisible so less advanced cultures don’t get exposed to higher technology and advanced cultures won’t steal them.”

“That makes sense, I guess. Do you think it would still fly?”

“I’m not going back to sleep if I say yes, will I?”

“No, I can’t say you will.”

In response, Ambrose rolled back over and didn’t say a word since he knew he would have to lie to fall back to sleep. Odin repeated his name as he fell asleep, getting frustrated enough to break the number one rule they came up with for Ambrose’s stay: no touching. After the few minutes it took for Ambrose to calm down after his panic attack, Odin apologized up and down and added, “It’s just you’ve come so far and I can barely get a measly dozen million miles without being dragged back home,” as he fell back upon Ambrose’s footboard.

“Can’t this wait until morning?” Ambrose asked, sitting, balled up, in the corner of the bed. “Agent Venice said no more running away and your parents won’t be home from their date night until the morning.”

“Okay, you win for now,” Odin said, getting off of his bed, making room for Ambrose to lay do. “In the morning, we will see who’s winning then,” he continued as he tucked Ambrose back in.

Ambrose fell right back to sleep, but, like before, Odin couldn’t sleep, couldn’t even think about it. The only thing that was on his mind was the heavens and the hundreds of thousands of stars and planets in it.

 

Ambrose was just waking up that morning when Odin burst back into the room. Being to dazed to understand what he said, Ambrose asked him to repeat. After sitting on the floor near Ambrose’s face, Odin said, “What I said, you sleepy head,” trying to resist the urge to mess with Ambrose’s bedhead, “is they said yes!”

“Okay,” Ambrose said, on the fence on whether he should be happy or not about it.

“Now, what do you say? I was thinking last night, and I don’t want to make you leave if you don’t want to. If you want to stay, I guess I can stay too.”

“You mean it?” Ambrose said, propping himself up.

“Why would I lie?” Odin said, mimicking Ambrose from their first meeting and bringing up their second rule.

“I have been wanting to go back to Zonzoria and Artibus wouldn’t be too bad.”

“Does that mean yes?”

“On one condition, you don’t shout in glee if I do say yes.”

“Okay?”

“Yes, it means yes.”

Odin jumped to his feet and almost did what he said he wouldn’t before he caught himself. Trying to distract himself, Odin switch topic. “I almost forgot,” he said, dropping back down to the ground and reached under his bed. When he can back up, he had a box in his hand and sent it gently on the edge of Ambrose’s bed, knowing he could catch it if he threw it. “Happy Birthday.”

“You remembered,” Ambrose said, analyzing the box.

“How could I not?” he announced, switching to a whisper “It’s not like you haven’t been counting down the hours for the last week.”  He watched Ambrose look at the box for a while before saying, “Ambrose, I didn’t just get you a box, you need to open it.”

“But I like the box.”

“Ambrose, you can open it then close after you get what’s in it out and it will be exactly the same as it is now.”

“Okay, since you insisted,” Ambrose said, opening the box slowly. After he opened it, a shiny rectangular prism fell into his lap.  He picked it up and said, “Cool… What is it?”

“It’s a camera. It takes pictures. Now, you can show people what you’ve seen. Just slide the two ends together.”

Curiously, Ambrose pushed the ends towards each other and a flash blinded him.

After laughing, Odin came and sat on the edge of Ambrose’s bed and took the camera out of Ambrose’s hand and placed it on the nightstand as he said, “At least we learned to hold it away from ourselves and don’t use it in a dark room.”

“You couldn’t have told me that before?” Ambrose asked, rubbing his eyes with his now free hands.

Laughing through his nose, Odin told him, “I’ll try to do better next time. But, now, get up, get dressed, breakfast is almost ready.”

 

After breakfast, Ambrose dropped a duffle bag by the door in front of Odin. “What are you doing?”

“Getting ready to go.”

“Where?”

“Well, Mars and after that, I don’t know yet.”

“Wait, we’re leaving, now?! We just talked about this, this morning!”

“We might of just have just talked about it, but me and your parents have been talking about for the last six months since your birthday.”

“Then why were you so shocked last night and this morning?”

“I didn’t expect it so soon and I don’t completely think it’s a good idea, but you go a lot of time to convince me.”

“Okay,” Odin said, still trying to wrap his head around how fast things were moving. “You know shuttles from the colonies and Mars don’t run daily.”

“Yeah, I memorized them from the last time we were at the station ~,” Ambrose said, looking for his key in the bureau next to the door as Odin cut him off.

“A year ago!”

“Only 363 days ago and there is one leaving in two hours so let’s get a move on,” he said, finding his keys.

“Okay?” Odin said, shrugged, picked up his bag, and followed Ambrose out the door.

 

The next few weeks, they planet hopped within the Martian empire, then moved their way outward to where no Martian has gone before. However, they didn’t do it without raising unwanted attention.

The two of them arrived on Zonzoria a few months after leaving Mars. Ambrose was having fun, telling Odin every little detailed he remembered of when he, his parents, and Dixie were there, which was every second of their week visit. Odin, however, didn’t mind: he hadn’t seen Ambrose so excited since he introduced him to ice cream, but this time he didn’t have the delight of seeing him have a brain freeze. “That’s where we stayed and over there… Odin, are you even listening?”

“Shhh! I think we’re being followed,” Odin said, looking behind them.

Ambrose thought he was just being paranoid until five ninja-like figures landed in front of him, seemingly out of nowhere. “Odin, they aren’t following,” he said, barely being able to get the words out of his mouth as he tapped Odin on his shoulder.

“Did we transport to Japan, Earth, and you didn’t tell me,” Odin said, turning around to face the figures.

“Though we are in the prime of the ninja culture, those are Hekau stealth warriors,” Ambrose shakily said, walking slowly backward until he bumped into someone behind them. With a shriek, he ran back to Odin’s side.

“What do you know about these guys?”

“Besides that their ruthless killers, spies, and bounty hunters, nothing much.”

“Well, that’s great,” Odin said, accompanied by a loud bang that sent Ambrose to the ground, holding his ears, and the men into action.

With a cloud of smoke forming, Odin found it hard to fight back with the little defense skills he learned on the streets of Mars let alone not trip over Ambrose. Before he knew it, he was getting punched in the face and was face down on the ground, but Ambrose was no longer on the ground. Waiting for another hit that never came, Odin didn’t get up until the smoke thinned to nearly clear visibility. When he was up on his own two feet, he saw Ambrose punching the last of ten guys, who fell to the ground unconscious.

After looking up from the man and seeing see Odin stare at him, Ambrose brought his hands to temples and winced in pain. Once he opened his eyes, he looked lost and confused, like he had no idea where he was, and he slowly brought his hands down, not recognizing the bruises on his knuckles nor the blood on them. Shortly after distinguishing between the redness of his skins and the red bodily fluid, Ambrose felt light headed and his legs gave out from under him.

“Ambrose!” Odin yelled, catching him at the last second.

As Odin cradled Ambrose, waiting for him to wake up since he was too big for him to carry, another group of Hekau stealth warriors surrounded them. As the warrior started their next wave, another bang went off with a bright flash that momentarily blinded the warriors and Odin.

By the time they regained their sight, it was too late. A third party had swooped in out of nowhere and defeated them. With Odin still dazed, one of three men picked up Ambrose from his lap. Not knowing if they were friend or foe, Odin jump to his feet, shouting, “What are you doing?”

As the man carrying Ambrose and another walked away like they didn’t even hear him, Odin said, “Hey! Wait!”

Then the last man grabbed Odin’s left shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, kid,” as he used his left arm to force Odin forward, “you’re coming too.”

Odin at first tried to wiggle out of the man’s grip, but it would only get tighter to a point that Odin just let the man take him to the group’s shuttle. Once there, the man placed Ambrose gently down on a bed in one of the quarters aboard the small shuttle while the one that was dragging Odin along shoved Odin into the same room then locked the door. His men stared at him blankly, not understanding his action, but as soon as he returned their gaze, they backed off.

Inside the room, Odin had picked himself up off his hands and knees and immediately tried the door. Annoyed with his situation, he kicked the door then sat at the edge of the bed to get off his hurt foot. As he rubbed his foot, his runaway instincts kicked in and began to look for a way out, but the only other opening in the room was a vent about his head height and only big enough that he could possibly get his arm in it. Feeling defeated, he laid down beside Ambrose and fell asleep as he thought about what he was going to do when the men unlocked the door. However, when he woke he didn’t get a chance to enact any of his half-baked ideas due to finding himself in a different room, but still behind a locked door. He looked back over his shoulder to the side of the bed he remembered Ambrose being on, but he wasn’t there, he wasn’t anywhere in the room.

 

Ambrose woke up in a hospital-like room with a man and a woman looking over him. “Joey? Are you okay?” the man asked.

“Just peachy, Mo’rin,” he said, in a lighter, more feminine voice.

“That was a close call, Johannus, the council won’t be too happy,” the woman said as she checked the intravenous drip.

“Thanks for your consideration, Sarol.”

“You know I worry about you, especially since your last venture. You know we can’t be everywhere.”

“You have to be more careful. Why did you have to leave Mars?!” Mo’rin protested.

“Me and Ambrose can’t live in a bubble: we’re born to move, not to stay in one place!”

“But Ambrose isn’t like any of your other hosts!”

“I know. I know. His oddities get in the way, but he’s the best host I ever had.”

“How’s that? What does he do for you?”

Taking a deep breath, Johannus said, “Humility. He teaches me humility every day, one thing we haven’t mastered yet.”

Mo’rin and Sarol paused at this, giving Johannus a chance to ask what was lingering on their combine mind. “How’s Odin?”

“He’s alright. A little roughed up from the attack and a few ruffled feathers from Pontiac, though,” Mo’rin answered.

“Can I see him?”

“You know that’s not my choice,” he said, getting a grieved expression from Johannus. “But I’ll see what I can do, so in the meantime get some rest, those bruised ribs are going to need it,” he continued, getting a smirk in return.

 

In his boredom, Odin took his ball out of his jacket and began throwing against the wall. However, when the door open, Odin missed the ball that ricocheted off the floor and sailed to the door. From his spot on the bed, Odin quickly turned his face towards the door, in time to see the person at the door catch it. Odin immediately sat at attention as the man came out of the shadows of the doorway. “Lose something?” Mo’rin asked, as he threw the ball up and caught it then tossed it back to him.

Barely catching it, Odin mumbled a thank you.

“I’m Mo’rin, Odin, how are you doing?” he said, extending his hand.

His hand was only met by Odin’s glare. After Mo’rin put his hand down, Odin answered, “As well as any prisoner could?”

“I’m sorry that Pontiac made it feel that way, but this is for your safety and ours,” Mo’rin explained, as Odin got more angered as he remembered that one of the men called the man that dragged him that. Trying to make Odin more comfortable, he said, “I expect you wanted to see Ambrose,” which did make Odin perk up. “Come on then,” he continued as he walked to the door.

Shoving his ball back into his pocket, Odin rushed after him. At the door, he was meet by two men that reminded him of defense officers back home right down to their weaponry, Hekau phasers. At the sight of them, he felt a deep seeded worry in the pit of his stomach that continued as the two walked behind them. “Now, there are a few things we need to …,” Mo’rin start, noticing Odin was paying more attention to what was behind them than him. Stopping in his tracks, he ordered the two, with a corresponding hand gesture, to leave.

“Our orders ~,” One of them began.

“Tell the council, I find it an insult that they think I can’t handle a kid. Now, leave us.”

When they were gone, Odin said, “Thank you, but I’m not a kid.”

“Compare to myself and everyone else here, your mere hundred and seventy-one years make you a kid around these parts.” After getting a nod from Odin, Mo’rin began walking again and went back to his to his original point. “Odin, there are a few things we need to talk about before you can see Ambrose.”

“Like what?”

“First of all, Ambrose isn’t entirely what he seems.”

“What do you mean?”

“How did Ambrose act when you were attacked?”

“Well, after reacting to a loud noise, he knocked out all ten guys, which impressive for a person who doesn’t like being touch, then he looked like he was lost, like he did know what he was doing, before fainting,” Odin said, seeing the events in his head.

“There is a reason for his strange behavior: it wasn’t him.”

“I’m pretty sure it was.”

“Do you know what the Hekua are?”

“A vile species that tried taking over Mars over than a hundred years ago.”

“Well, Yes, but they’re also a species of parasites that take over the bodies of humanoid species.”

“Why are you telling me this?” he asked, becoming more worried.

“The Gazers, on the hand, are from the same species but believe in a more symbiotic relationship, do you understand what I’m getting at?”

“Hekua bad; Gazers better,” he said hesitantly not sure he believed it

“Yeah, for the most part,” he said, contemplating Odin’s simplicity. “Well, everyone in this complex, besides yourself, of course, is a host to a Gazer.”

“Even Ambrose?”

“For over two years now,” he said, stopping at a door.

“What else do you have to tell me?” Odin said, hitting a peak of his worrying as he had flashbacks of when the Hekua came to Mars during the first time he ran away.

“I’ll just let her explain,” Mo’rin said as he turned the doorknob.

“Her who? I thought you were taking me to see Ambrose?” Odin said, walking through the door.

“He always forgets how to explain this, but I guess we can’t blame him,” a voice from inside the room said.

Hearing a hint of Ambrose’s voice in the voice, Odin got excited enough to run into the room and forget everything that Mo’rin told him. He was even more happy to see Ambrose. “How are you?” he asked, coming up to the side of the bed.

“I’m fine, but you better sit down, Odin,” Johannus said, pointing the chair in the small boxy room.

“What is it?” Odin said, pulling up the chair.

“Mo’rin will you leave us?”

“Just don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone,” Mo’rin said, closing the door on his way out.

“Now, I know you haven’t had good experiences with my species, but I need you to hear me out. And I know you’re not going to understand this completely at first and we don’t have a lot of time right now so I need you to just go with me here,” Johannus said rapidly, noticing Odin shell-shocked expression. Slowing down a bit, she continued, “Maybe I should start at the beginning, I’m Johannus,” then extended their hand.

“What?” Odin said, putting his hand through his hair as he realized he wasn’t talking with Ambrose. “How can you be one of them?”

Retracting their hand, Johannus explained, “We might be the same species, but Hekua and the Gazers are two different things like the Martian Mainlanders and the Martian Colonists. The Hekua take over Worlds; Gazers just experience them.”

“You could have told me instead of having me find out this way.”

“Ambrose wanted to tell you, especially after you telling him about the invasion, but I convinced him not to.”

Calming down a bit, Odin asked, “How did you get him to break rule two and a half?”

“I used your “I’m older speech” and it surprisingly worked pretty well, I wish I had thought of that when he was little.”

“I don’t think two years ago constitutes being little?”

“Well, no, but before Ambrose was my host, Dixie was.”

“I guess you can’t be too bad then,” he said thinking of all the stories Ambrose had told him over the last year about Dixie.

“Thank you, but I’m guessing you have a few more questions for me, so, knowing how much you like games, why don’t I give you 20 questions to learn whatever you want.”

“Oh, really?”

“19.”

Realizing that Johannus was serious and he had already used one of his limited questions, he got serious and straightened up in his chair. “Okay, not to be rude but why Ambrose? I mean…I guess I don’t know what I mean,” he said, running his hand through his hair again.

“It’s fine, Odin, I understand. At first, it was only because he was the closest one when Dixie died,” pausing for a moment so Odin could get his anger out so he would listen to her what she also had to say, “then, when I was given the chance to leave, I didn’t. And before you waste a question, I didn’t probably for the same reason you brought him home: because he needed someone.”

“Then why his aunt?”

“She volunteered. The Gazers had just met the Alexandronians and we wanted to learn more and we find it easier to learn if we experience it instead of people telling us. And, unlike like Dixie, I choose the short straw. Three down, seventeen more to go.”

They rambled through question and answer for a while, but when they got to 20 and Mo’rin still wasn’t back yet, so Johannus gave Odin his first question back. “Rea ~,” he began catching himself before he made the same mistake, “What’s with Pontiac?”

“It’s a mixture of him being bitten too many times by the mouths he’s feeding and not liking me. A lot of people here don’t approve of me taking Ambrose as my host: they didn’t see any benefit in it.”

“How did you get them to let you?” He rested his arms and bead on the side of the bed as Johannus let the extra question slide by.

“They didn’t have much of a choice but when the Congeries came to Alexandria, it was the day that the Gazers were coming because I had found out some information about Hekua battle plans, but after they came and made the Congeries retreat, everything was about me and Ambrose. So to get them to let me as you said, I kept the information from them since it wasn’t happening for a while.”

“Have you told them,” he said, through a yawn.

“Yeah, it was the only way Pontiac would let me see you.”

“You did that for me?” he asked, perking up a bit

“It was more selfish than that.”

“What do you mean?”

“You should get some sleep,” she said, putting their hand on his shoulder.

“But! What if I want to talk to you again, how’d ~.”

“Just ask Ambrose, he’s usually pretty fair about it.”

“Okay,” he said, finally drifting asleep.

Starting to follow his suit, Johannus was interrupted by Mo’rin’s return. “What did they say?” Johannus asked.

“How are you two? No trouble?”

“Just because he’s cute doesn’t mean I got into any trouble ~.”

“Johannus!” Mo’rin said, disturbed by her vulgarity.

“Grow up, you’re almost eleven thousands years old!” she barked. “Now, What Did They Say?!”

“Are you sure you want to know their answer?”

“Is it that bad?”

“Well, it matters,” he said, trying to keep a straight face, “how do you feel about being able to leave, about your ship coming into dock?”

“Yoooou!” she said at a loss for words, “Why do you always have to do that to me?”

“I think what’s more upsetting is that after a myriaannum you’re still falling for it,” he said, with the widest grin he could. Then he lost the grin and said, “Now, there are some conditions that go along with this.”

“Would I expect anything different from the council?”

“I guess you wouldn’t?” Pontiac said from the entryway.

“Didn’t anyone ever teach you that it’s rude to listen in on other people’s conversations?” Johannus asked.

“Do you want to leave or not?” he said, annoyed by having to be in her presence.

Weighing the options, she said, “Hit me with your best shot.”

“We doubt you’re going to end this little escapade of yours ~.”

“You know me so well.”

“Here’s our proposition, we’ll let you two leave and watch out your backs if you send us some information ~.”

“I’m guessing the fact of my devotion isn’t enough.”

“No. The Martian empire has been expanding seemingly without cause – Ambrose wouldn’t happen to be that reason?”

“I wouldn’t let him do anything that would compromise the safety of the galaxy,” she said, thinking of Ambrose’s arts and crafts project with Venice and hoping that wasn’t the reason.

“Just be our eyes and ears. It should be easy for you since how good you are at eavesdropping. This will help you contact us,” he said, placing a circular communication pin in their hand.

“Hey, I only permitted one guest,” Sarol said from the entryway.

“It’s alright, Sarol, council business.”

“Yeah,” she said, rolling her eye, “if you don’t get out of here, I’ll use my position of Speaker and call another emergency meeting, where we remove you of your position, now get!” She went over to check the heart monitor and after realizing Mo’rin was still in the room, she asked, “You still here?”

“I didn’t think you meant me since ~.”

“One Guest!” she said putting up one finger and preceded to get threateningly closer, “I said, One Guest and little bean over there equals one guest!” pointing with that one finger at Odin, who was missing out on all that night’s exciting events. “Now, leave now before I get angry,” she continued, scaring Mo’rin off.

“You didn’t need to yell at him,” Johannus said in a sleepy voice.

“You know how hard it is to be a woman around here, even if you’re in a male body like you. Sometimes you just got to be a bit hysterical for them to listen to you. Now, do I need to be hysterical with you to get to sleep before you lose control and I have to deal with a terrified Ambrose? I really don’t want to have to sedate him like the last time the two of you were here.”

“I hear you. I hear you. Can you turn down the lights?”

“I would usually say no, but who can say no to that face,” she said, squishing their cheeks.

“Thanks,” she said, cuddling up with the blanket that had been lying over their legs as Sarol turn down the lights.

Sarol went back to work, checking Ambrose and Johannus’ charts and vitals until Johannus was asleep and Sarol took the chance to finally look at their scar that Johannus wouldn’t let her see. “Oh, good heavens, child, what have you been up to?” she asked, placing a kiss on their forehead. She quickly finished what she had to do, so she could leave the two in peace.

 

When Odin woke up, he could barely tell the difference from where he fell asleep and the ship he’d spent the last few months due to the dim lighting. When he sat up, on the other hand, the motion sensor lights came on to reveal he was in the cockpit on one of the passenger benches. He looked across to see Ambrose rubbing his eye as he woke up. “Where are we,” Ambrose said.

“We’re on your ship. Don’t remember what happened, do you?”

“The last thing I remember is the loud bang,” he said, as his eyes widen in realization, “you met Johannus, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did.”

“I wanted to tell you, but it’s hard to argue with her. Did you like her?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Well, where should the three of us go?”

Walking to the viewing screen, Odin pointed to a random blip on the screen and said, “Why not that one?” as Ambrose came up next to him.

“Alrighty then,” he said, sitting at the helm and changed course before Odin sat down.

“Next time, I’m driving,” Odin said, pulling himself up into his chair.