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The King of Mars

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As Stiles stepped out of the landing vehicle onto the rocky, red surface of Mars, the toe of his space boot caught on a rock and he stumbled forward. Luckily, hours of training in the space suit kept him from falling flat on his face.

“Nice one, Stiles,” Allison teased over the space suit in-helmet communication system.

“First trip on Mars, I like it,” Scott said as he reached over and slapped Stiles on the shoulder.

“Ya, ya. Don’t you have some other best friend to harass?” Stiles shot back as he swept his arms out to gesture at the wide red expanse.

“Since we are currently the only people on this entire planet, I’d say there is a low chance that Scott will be able to find another best friend. Unless Isaac is volunteering.” Malia interjected through the comms as Stiles looked up to see that she was the farthest away from the landing vehicle.

“Let’s just enjoy the moment, shall we?” Isaac tried to run to catch up with Malia, but his space boots made it look like he was doing more of an uncoordinated shuffle.

“I can hear you rolling your eyes, Kira!” Scott scolded and Kira laughed softly as she continued walking with Isaac.

Stiles tuned them all out as he finally just stared. The planet was a deep red, like it was made of baked clay. Varying rock formations dotted the surface and the terrain reminded Stiles of the deserts in southern California. The sky was dimly lit and everything seemed to be cast in a faint red glow. Years of planning, months of training, thousands of dollars, and a few million calculations later, here he was 33.9 million miles away from home.

Scott interrupted his thoughts. “You coming, Stiles? We have equipment to set up. There will be plenty of time to admire Mars.”

“In a minute.” Stiles smiled. Scott was right, they had 30 days to explore. The 124 days space traveling and the descent from their spacecraft in the landing vehicle to the surface of Mars had all been executed textbook-perfectly. Getting here was supposed to be the hard part. The rest should have been gravy.