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Once again, Ellie found herself in yet another class she didn’t want to take, yet it was somehow required: Mars Geography 101
That geeky guy, Nick, sat a few chairs in front of her, going on and on about how great Zamler was with their little adventure outside. Ellie took out her mirror and mascara, trying to ignore him while she applied another layer to her eye lashes.
“Seriously,” said a girl with long blond hair. “How boring is this class going to be with an A.I. teaching it?”
Most of the others grumbled in agreement.
“No, no,” Nick said. “Zamler’s not like the other A.I’s. He's got personality and helped me pass the outdoor basics class.”
Ellie cringed, having avoided that class one semester after another. Mother had her wear a suit once inside to get used to it. It was hot and confining, not to mention the helmet flattened her hair.
Nick went on and on, “Then he taught me how to drive a jeep!”
The guys lit up, all wanting to drive a jeep, of course.
“Oh goodie!” Ellie said sarcastically. “Like driving over some dust is a big deal.”
Most of the girls laughed.
Nick stared at her. “I’m only saying, I think Zamler is a good guy, even if he is an A.I.”
“Yes, we know what you’re saying,” Ellie said. “But I’d rather be on Earth and learning Earth geography because it’s not the same thing over and over again.”
“Yeah, I’ve been bored of orange for a long time,” Molly said.
Ellie and Molly gave each other high-fives.
The door opened and in came Zamler. He stopped by the screen in front of the class and turned around. “I know it will be difficult, but you must be silent and listen if you’re to pass this class.” He picked up a controller and on the screen behind him a picture of a big mountain came up with of course, surrounded in an orange sky.
Zamler motioned toward the screen. “Does anyone know what this is?”
“Olympus Mons,” Nick said.
“Correct. Olympus means the House of Zeus….”
Ellie rolled her eyes. Her tablet vibrated with an incoming call from Jake. She got up and headed for the door.
“Ellie, where are you going?” Zamler asked.
“I have to take a call.”
“Your boyfriend can wait.”
The rest of the students chuckled. She spun around, her face hot.
“You need to take notes because failing this class might further delay your return to Earth.”
All her girlfriends looked at her with their mouths hanging open.
Ellie didn’t want them to know yet. “Stop talking about me!”
Zamler’s face wrinkled in confusion. “Go out there and you will receive an E for the day.”
“Fine!” she returned to her seat, plopping down and shoving the tablet into her bag. Thanks to that idiot all her friends were going to be questioning her.
Zamler continued, “Now everyone, be sure to take notes because there is an open note quiz at the end of class.”
The students raced to get out their tablets.
He clicked the controller, showing another side of Olympus Mons.
“This dormant volcano is 25 kilometers high and has a diameter of more than 500 kilometers. The long lava flows are a result of higher eruption rates and lower surface gravity in comparison to Earth.”
“But why is it so massive compared to volcanoes on Earth?” Molly asked.
“The crust on Mars doesn't move the way it does on Earth. On Mars, the crust remains stationary and the lava piles up in one, very large volcano. There are very few craters on its slopes, indicating that it is geologically very young. Olympus Mons is presumed to be less than 100 million years old.”
“Could you take us there to see it in person?” Nick asked.
All the boys started begging them to go for a ride in the jeep out to Olympus Mons.
Zamler held up his hand for them to be quiet. “I agree it would be a good field trip, but I’m not authorized to go outside anymore.”
She noticed a enjoyable hint of sadness in his expression. “Could it be because you’re not perfect anymore?”
Instead of answering, Zamler stood there in some sort of daze. Several of the guys tried to get him to talk, but he just stood there.
What’s wrong with that defective bag of bolts now?