Author : Richard “Zig” Zagorski

Harmonia, in low orbit, drifted over the red planet just as she had done for over a year now. Her electronic ears constantly straining to hear the voices of her children down below. It had been too long since she had heard from some of them.

“No mother should outlive her children,” she thought to herself.

Three years ago, Harmonia left Earth atop a blazing rocket. For two years, she traveled through space toward Mars. The entire time protecting her precious cargo: Harmonia’s nine daughters. Nine rovers meant to land on the red planet, each named for one of the Muses. She kept all of them safe from the vacuum of space – from cosmic rays and the extremes of temperature. The probes slept peacefully the entire voyage, only beginning to awaken after Harmonia settled into her orbit.

Once in orbit, Harmonia checked each probe to make sure they were ready; then she seeded the red planet with her precious children.

From the start, it was emotional. Letting her children leave her embrace … the sadness was intense. It intensified further when no signal ever came from Melpomene. Her keepers back on Earth were of the opinion that the poor rover’s chutes never opened.

The rest of her children made their landings successfully and shortly were sending back data. Harmonia knew great pride in the work her children would do over the following months. However, with that pride there came a growing sadness as, one by one, her children went silent.

A few months after landing, Clio had a problem with her solar array and slowly went quieter and quieter as the strength of her signal diminished.

Next was Polyhymnia. She’d gotten too close to the edge of a crater and went over as the precipice crumbled beneath her treads. After tumbling down no word was ever heard from her again.

Terpsichore, being untrue to her namesake, the muse of dance, managed to get stuck while moving between two rocks. The rocks blocked any direct sunlight from falling upon her solar panels. She also slowly went silent.

Erato got trapped in a sandpit and was gradually buried, never to be heard from again.

Poor, dear Calliope managed to snag one tread and for the past few months had gone in circles crying for help. Help that Harmonia couldn’t provide her with.

Euterpe, since landing, had been silent. She would simply advance three meters forward, then retrace her steps, then begin again. The same three meters … over and over and over endlessly. No acknowledgment of receiving commands. Just back and forth, month after month.

Thalia was a great success scientifically, finding further evidence of water on the red planet. However, not very long after, she was caught in a sandstorm, which must have covered her solar array. Since then, no word or even carrier signal were heard from her.

Urania, the muse of astronomy, fittingly was the last daughter to still function at peak level. Making her lonely sojourn across the red planet at the commands relayed to her from Earth by Harmonia. Sending back valuable data. For now she lived, but Harmonia knew what was to come. In time, Urania would also die and Harmonia would be left behind. A lonely mother who had watched as her children died one by one.

“No mother should outlive her children,” Harmonia thought to herself …

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