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Zamler got the grappling hook and cable out of the jeep. As he walked over to the ledge, there were a few scattered track marks still left uncovered by the drifting dust. Someone had been there recently. He dug the hook into the ground, hooked the cable to his belt and descended into the canyon with the ease of a bird. Down he went and landed right in front of a crashed shuttle. Several of the panels had fallen off. The nose was crushed and main door missing. From the light layer of dust on the wreckage, this hadn’t happened too long ago.
He made his way into the shuttle. It was partially dark and he activated a light on his belt. There were no bodies left behind, except one - Suzy. She lay on the floor in front of the helm. Her eyes remained open and seemed to stare at him as if to ask for help. It’d been her job to fly shuttles. No doubt some human had missed a mechanical problem. Although those had happened before, and Suzy had always detected any problems. In any case, they should’ve had the decency to tell him about it.
The top of her head was taken apart. Zamler knelt down and discovered they had removed her brain core, but didn’t even have the decency to bring her body back. He clenched his fists, thinking of burying her somewhere, yet over time the shuttle would sink deeper and Mars would bury it. Plus, he didn’t want anyone to know he was snooping around. Perhaps Suzy could be restored since they had her brain core.
Zamler went back up the cable and pulled the hook out of the rock. Nick had waited patiently in the driver’s seat.
“Did you find out anything?” Nick asked.
“It’s an old shuttle wreck. There wasn’t much left of it,” he lied, not wanting to talk about it. “Now come here and pack these items. Do it neatly.”
Nick hurried over and struggled to wind up the cable by himself.
"No, you have to wind it tighter or it will never fit. Try to concentrate.”
"It's easy for you to say since you’re perfect.”
“But doesn’t anything ever distract you?”
“No.” Yet, he found his mind wandering. No doubt Adam, the manager of the A.I's, knew more about this. He had to see him at once.
“What about women? Do you even like them?”
“Yes, but not in a romantic way. Certain aspects of my personality and memories are blocked for safety reasons. Regardless, my brain core is highly disciplined to stay on task.” At least this evening, he would be back to work on biosphere W2 - a new one that recently passed inspection and was just starting to develop.
Nick finally wound up the cord correctly and went about repacking it.
As Zamler watched, for no reason at all, his mind wandered to an image of a woman. She seemed familiar as she set a table with dishes and plates.
You’ve been working all day, Mike, take a break and come eat dinner.
He recalled the scent of roast chicken and longed to eat it, even though he never had to eat. She smiled, her brown eyes lighting up, her face framed by thick brown hair.
I’ll be right there, Tess.
She waited for him, smiling, and always so patient with his long work hours. Mike Zamler got up and kissed her on the cheek.
“Zamler! I’m done packing. What do you think?” Nick’s voice broke through Zamler’s thoughts.
He found it hard to answer Nick as his mind spun. What did I just remember? What was that?
“Zamler, what is it?” Nick stood next to him, peering at him the best he could with that helmet on. “Are you alright?”
“Uh, yes.” Zamler realized he wasn’t even watching Nick.
“Is everything alright?” Nick asked.
“Oh, oh yes, and good job. Let’s go inside and you can get some lunch.”
“Awesome!” Nick hurried back into the driver’s seat.
Zamler sat next to him and realized he’d recalled a bit of the real Zamler’s life. He wasn’t supposed to be remembering that sort of thing. While he had Zamler’s personality, the memories of his past had been blocked years ago, before he even came to Mars. Dr. Zamler himself had said it was safer that way. Whatever he’d remembered, he wasn’t going to admit to it.
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