“Our Rover’s gone!” exclaimed Marcus.
“The one with the coffin in eh?” said Jonas knowingly.
“Hey man, those guys had their OWN Rover” said Spyder after reviewing the cameras. “I guess they’re chasing someone in the stolen Rover.”
“That Rover’s worth over 500,000 Big Ones!” said Cecilia. “We can’t afford to lose it Marcus: you’re the Big Shot Adventurer. DO SOMETHING!”
And so it was that nursing sore heads, upset stomachs and lack of sleep, they set off in pursuit in the second Rover. Normally Marcus would not have considered driving in darkness on Mars, but both Jake and Jonas were superior drivers, and they were following a clear trail of the other rovers: the vehicle IR had no difficulty in highlighting the route they had followed. It was perhaps four hours before dawn.
“The route goes north towards some hills” said Marcus. “Other side of those is a gully which leads west towards the Vladescu place. Never been there, but its supposed to be in a canyon or valley. It’s all a bit secretive really.”
After about two and a half hours they had made good progress. Jonas and Jake had changed positions, and the others were catnapping. Outside in the blackness of the Martian night, the temperatures were slowly beginning to rise again.
“I can see lights” said Jake. “I think they must have stopped.”
“Muzzle flashes” said Doc. Orlov. “People are shooting.” Jake killed the engine and they could hear a series of sharp cracks.
With her heated Mars Suit Katrina took the electronic binoculars and exited onto the roof.
“Maybe half a dozen men” she called. “I think they cover fire and work their way towards stolen Rover. They shoot it up real good.”
“That’s my Freaking Rover!” yelled Marcus.
“Easy Boy” said Jonas. “Whatever’s going on here this isn’t our business. Those gunmen upset a few ashtrays but they didn’t harm anyone.”
“Neither did the Vampire man” said Spyder, ignoring Doc. Orlovs snort. “Didn’t really harm anyone – tried the goat first….”
“I Love that Goat!” yelled Marcus.
“Hey whatever floats your boat Man” said Spyder. “Anyway, the stolen rover is sending out some sort of tight beam transmission. Could reach somewhere close.”
“Like the Vladescu Place” said Marcus, and then he paused. “There’s no gear like that in the Rover”
“Maybe its in the coffin?” suggested Jake.
“Wait! Wait!” said Spyder. “There’s a wave coming through – text only”. They all peered at the screen.
“Greetings Neighbour, and Merry Christmas. It is most unfortunate that you should be caught up in this, but Good Neighbours should always strive to help one another, especially deep within the lonely Martian Wilderness. Without safe delivery of this cargo you will not receive payment, and given the impending urgency of the situation I am sure an additional bonus might prove worthy of your assistance. Do Diamonds interest you at all? Choose swiftly.”