Outside of the geodesic dome the temperature was -34 Celsius, about the warmest that it ever got on the surface of Mars. Inside of the Buckminster-Fuller dome, though, solar capture technology kept it at a ‘balmy’ 2 Celsius, just a little above freezing. The dome covered a large area where trenches had been dug into the duty pink Martian soil.
“We’re taking too long.” Professor Ulyanov said. His breath frosted on the air as he stared at the archaeological dig.
Ulyanov was an expert on the Cydonians, the disappeared alien race who appeared to have lived on Mars more than a million years ago. The Cydonians had been on Mars at the same time that the dominant hominid species on earth had been Homo erectus. Where they had originally come from, where they had gone to, even what they had looked like, were things which were still unknown. But part of the reason for this archaeological dig on Mars was to try to answer some of those questions. They had certainly not evolved on mars, though – native life on the planer had never evolved beyond the microbial.”
“We need to ingress down to the level of a million years ago, and quickly.” Ulyanov said. “We should use controlled big-bangs to remove the matter on top. The longer that we taken the greater the chance that somebody comes along and takes this site away from us.”
Professor Mailer shook his head. To say that he and Ulyanov did not get on would be an understatement. The two men loathed each other. Their methods were very different. Mailer went by the book, and never cut corners to get results. But, to Ulyanov, all that mattered were the results, and not how you got there.
Ulyanov saw himself as a modern Heinrich von Schliemann; as a modern Sir Flinders Petrie, as a modern Howard Carter. Had Howard Carter gone slowly when he had seen ‘wonderful things’ when he had glimpsed inside Tutankhamen’s tomb? No, he had broken inside.
“Big bangs? Ingress? You’re already using Martian slang, and you’ve only been here a few weeks.” Mailer said.
“I pick up things like Lingo quickly.” Ulyanov said. He was good with languages – especially dead ones. “Anyway, since you prefer Standard English, what about using explosives?”
“Absolutely not.” Mailer said. “You might be some wunderkind archaeologist and Cydonian expert from earth. But I am the senior archaeologist here. I am the one in charge of the dig. What I say goes, and I’m overruling you on this. This is an archaeological dig, not some treasure hunt. I heard about your methods at Nan Madol, and I can’t say that I approve.”
“I completed the dig on time. No artefacts were damaged. No knowledge was lost.”
“You were lucky. You take too many risks, Ulyanov. Do what I tell you or get off my dig.”
That was the beginning of an argument which would get worse over the next few days. It ended up with the two men almost coming to blows over the way that the dig should progress. But Mailer was, technically, the senior archaeologist, and what he said went.
In the end there was only one thing which Vladimir Ulyanov could do, and that was to leave. The recent discovery of FTL travel, based on previous discoveries of Cydonian technology on Mars, was opening up the galaxy to exploration. a half dozen space stations had been constructed between the stars, from where exploration ships could head out to new planets. Ulyanov set out for Space Station Epsilon. Somewhere out there, there had to be more Cydonian sites – and he intended to be the one to discover them, and the secrets of the ancient alien race.