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Phoenix III, Log 24

Sept. 19, 2016, noon

It was finally time. No one thought the launch window for 2024 was realistic. No one thought the program would make enough money for this. No one even believed that we would ever get to this point. I had faith though. Honestly, I'm not sure why, but I did. I guess I was just too invested in it. I dedicated my life to this and now we're enroute. Through all the training, the tests, and finally the simulations I had one though in my mind: If the Egyptians could build the great pyramids, then we can make it to the final frontier. ' And now it's time.

The Phoenix III team and I are currently aboard the transport truck heading to the launch site. I don't really know if I can contain myself, but I have to at least appear in control. I know everyone is worried, and I can't let my own fears affect my squad. But, then I suppose they put in charge for a reason; I've always been able to keep my cool, that's what three years of CQC will do for you.

For the sake of posterity and anyone who may listen to this in the future, I'm going to give a quick overview of our program. My squad is from all around the world. We were chosen based upon our abilities and one major criteria: we were willing to die on another planet. The program was described to us as an achievement for humanity and the next logical step in our evolution into a space faring species, but that there would also need to be sacrifices. We're the point men; the first ones in. Automated shipments have been hitting the surface of Mars for the past three years and it's finally time for us to head up. Upon landing we'll secure the previously delivered cargo and begin to set up camp; which if all goes to plan will be the start of the human occupation of Mars. But, damn, this is a huge endeavor.

If we miscalculate food production, we die. If our oxygen filters become irreparable, we die. If our water filters decay, we die. There's no help for us if something goes wrong. And whatever happens, there's still no way for any of us to come home. This is the ultimate trigger pull; once that button is pressed and the engines fire up, we're gone. I guess it doesn't really matter what happens then anyway; whether we die or if we make it there, we're gone from this world either way.

 

* Pause in recording, and some inaudible chatter

* (Probably between Cpt. Grimm to his squad)

 

We're almost there; I can see Phoenix III. And for future reference, Phoenix III is a highly advanced vacuum capable launch and space travel system that we'll be taking to Mars. It's based loosely around the old SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavies, but with some major breakthroughs. The pod itself retains the repulsive landing technology, but is now more capable at keep us alive all on its own. I won't get into the technical details here, but essentially speaking the Phoenix III is highly advanced even for our times.

The company launching us, Talon Operations, has also graciously provided us with something most space companies would probably find odd: armaments. While the Phoenix III isn't armed itself, the crew and myself have all been provided with a personal defense weapon called the SIG MPX-P. I know what everyone must be thinking about this, and no, Talon Operations doesn't believe there are alien lifeforms on Mars. They're official reasoning for this move was that they believed, 'Our operators, and astronauts, should be prepared for anything regardless of how unlikely it is to happen.' This statement of course brought up some arguments, but I think I know the real reason they're sending us up there with the MPXs is to deter any foul play and to prepare for the conflicts that will likely occur at some point in the future. ' But that's just my personal opinion. We've just reached the launch site; I'll keep the log going for posterity.

The Phoenix III is standing in front of us in the center of the launch pad. This is actually the first time I've seen the whole thing up close and it's fucking massive. Over to the South I can hear cheering and shouting.

 

* Cpt. Grimm turns to face the crowd in the distance

 

From reports I've been told there are more than 50,000 people here. All gathered to see the first men and women begin their flight to a place no man has walked ever before. ' This is all I've ever wanted; to see the final frontier. ' It's a shame I won't be able to come home. I'll miss my parents and my brother; but I made my decision long ago' and it's way too late to change my mind.

 

* Phoenix III Team is given the signal and rides the elevator to the crew module

* Phoenix III Team enters the crew module and the door is sealed

 

I don't know if this will become my coffin or my ascension. ' I've never been a religious man, but some of the squad are clutching their various religious pieces. Normally most of them would be made of wood, but we can't have flammables so metal renditions were sourced out. ' We made sure we had enough weight left for them. Religion had such a huge hand in the formation of early societies, it was decided that we needed to create as much of a diverse environment for it as possible on Mars. No one in the pod shares the same religion. It's actually an extreme amount of diversity and a massive source of contention in some parts of the world to the point where few organizations have vowed to stop the program by any means. ' It's all not really an issue for me though. I'm fairly certain I represent the atheistic element considering I don't really follow a religion. I'm not sure what's out there' that's why I'm going to space; to find the answers.

 

* Hostile element begins attack

 

I think I just heard gunfire. ' We just received a message from Control; they're under attack by a currently unknown, but well-armed group. ' They're trying to make it to the launch pad. ' And they've carrying heavy weapons; ones big enough to shoot us down. Fuck. ' Control! This is Grimm, we're launching now! Override the safety protocols, fuck the countdown, and get us in the air!

 

* Control replied to Cpt. Grimm with an affirmative

* Civilian elements are being escorted away from the scene by the 14th Mechanized Infantry Division, and the Talon Operations 2nd Division.

* The Talon Operations 1st Division is engaging the hostile element at Control's atrium and the Launch Pad Ramp

 

Phoenix III crew! Prepare for launch!

 

* Control counts from 3

* Phoenix III achieves lift off

 

We're away! Jesus, this isn't how I wanted to go. But the systems seem fine and we're rapidly getting out of the AA weapons' range. I think we'll be ok. ' I feel bad leaving the world like this. Just pulling out when everyone's in the midst of what most think will be World War III; it's really taking a toll on me. ' I hope my family will be ok.

I can't let this consume me though. I have the squad to care for now. And' even if the worst happens on Earth, humanity will still exist among the stars. '

This is Captain John Grimm, signing off.

 

* Log was received as Phoenix III left Earth's atmosphere

* Additional logs can be found at the New Library of Congress