The Spirit of Mars: Fund a Sacred Journey to the Red Planet by Andrew Penn Romine

Andrew Penn Romine is a writer and animator who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, his cats, and way too many books. His fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Paizo, Crossed Genres, Podcastle, and Three-lobed Burning Eye as well as the anthologies Fungi, What Fates Impose, By Faerie Light, Broken Time Blues, and Rigor Amortis. His work has received honorable mentions in Best Horror of the Year (Datlow), and Tangent Online. He’s also written non-fiction for Lightspeed and blogged about cocktails at The Functional Nerds. You can find him online at, or blogging about writing at Follow his day-to-day adventures on Twitter @inkgorilla.


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Funded! This project successfully funded on Sept 10.



pledged of Φ30,000,000

seconds to go

JOIN US on an interplanetary pilgrimage to the mysterious FACE on MARS, and help found a NEW TEMPLE to the sacred SPIRIT of MARS.


Project Goals

My name is Jerrold Carver, and I’m the inventor of simPath.E, the consensual holo-haptic sharing service enjoyed by millions worldwide. Since being forced out of my own company by a short-sighted board, I’ve turned my attention to the exciting commercial space ventures springing up everywhere in the wake of the first micro-colonies in our solar system. In fact, I helped design the haptic systems used in today’s spacesuits!

I’ve been fascinated by Mars ever since I was a small child. But for nearly a century, authorities have concealed our earliest discoveries on the Red Planet behind a veil of secrecy and obfuscation. Our first probes to Mars imaged a massive complex of what could only be described as cyclopean monuments in the Cydonia region. One of the best known of these structures is the Face on Mars, which is in reality an ancient temple built by our Martian forebears. For decades, data on this region have been deliberately altered to hide the truth of humanity’s own extraterrestrial origins on the Red Planet. My detractors abound.

But they cannot deny what we see with our own eyes.

I propose to begin a Martian colony of our own, an international spiritual venture where all are welcome—a permanent settlement at the very foot of the sacred temple at the Face on Mars itself: The Temple of Spirit and Intelligence!

My firm, Mars Adventure Group (MAG), have already purchased a sturdy lunar cargo hauler from the Russian conglomerate TLGK. It orbits within the circle of the Earth now, solar panel wings spread in a star-kissed tau. I do not have pockets deep enough fund this landmark venture on my own. Accounting my own personal investments, and the generous financing of our silent partners, we’re looking to raise a modest 30 million planetShares (Φ) to complete our refits to the MAG-1 spacecraft and train our astro-adepts for the spiritual journey of a generation. For backers who can’t join us on the actual mission, we’ll be carrying state-of-the-art haptic simPath.E suits to transmit portions of the experience back to Earth. A lucky few will get an opportunity to don our prototype q-suit here on Earth, a twin to the mission’s own Spacesuit Five. Spacesuit Five is a state-of-the-art, quantum-synched haptic-feedback rig. You’ll be able to experience “walking on Mars” in nearly real-time without having to be there!

Thanks to the MAG-1’s speedy plasma-ion drives, the trip will take a little under five months. As we approach Mars we’ll perform a special Consecration Ritual to celebrate our spiritual journey. The landing is planned for July 20, 2069, exactly 100 years to the day since the first human set foot on another world.

Risks and Challenges

As an inventor and entrepreneur with decades of experience at the forefront of cutting-edge startups, I am well qualified to wear the crown of leadership over an independent spiritual colony on Mars. Further, the Cydonia region has been an intense passion of mine since my childhood. There is no one more motivated than I to uncover the hidden truths awaiting us there. I will be aboard the MAG-1 when we make our historic landing.

Of course, travel between worlds is the riskiest venture that humankind has ever endeavored to undertake. Space is a vast and hostile place, but we have the great Powers of Spirit and Intelligence lending their aid. This is a trip for the most serious and daring of astro-adepts.

• • • •

Pledge Φ25 or more

325 backers

A MAG-1 Mission Tee in your choice of black or red, emblazoned with the “Seal of Mars” mission logo.

Pledge Φ100 or more

1225 backers

A padded crimson hoodie emblazoned with the “Seal of Mars” logo, with the dates of the mission: March 25th, 2069 – July 20th, 2069. Zip it up for a real “spacesuit” experience.

Pledge Φ170 or more

203 backers

A full-size replica of the MAG-1 Consecration Ritual Sword, engraved with the invocation of your choice!

Pledge Φ325 or more

219 backers

Your haptic-likeness, stored on the mission’s data drives to be simPathed by the expedition’s commanders during transit with personal thanks.

Pledge Φ1000 or more

236 backers

You will be entered into the Haptic Lottery plus you will receive two Seal of Mars hoodies.

Pledge Φ5000 or more

192 backers

A ticket to the Haptic Lottery, and your name will be set upon the pentagon seal at the Temple of Spirit and Intelligence on Mars. You will receive a signed, verified photo reproduction of your name being inscribed on this iron plaque.

Pledge Φ10,000 or more

16 backers

All of the rewards listed above, plus your name engraved on the Temple plaque, and two tickets into the Haptic Lottery.

Pledge Φ50,000 or more

19 backers

All of the rewards listed above, plus a 1-week stay at the CA Solangelo Resort in Baja preceding the launch. Up to five friends or family members of your choice may join you at the resort for the festivities! If you win the Haptic Lottery, you’ll spend all day in the q-suit, simulating life in orbit!

Pledge Φ100,000 or more

18 backers

PHILOSOPHER. All of the rewards listed above, plus the selected friends/family each also receive three days at the Mars Convocation at our training facility in the Sonoran Desert.

Pledge Φ500,000 or more

10 backers

ADEPT. All the rewards listed above, and your name will be entered into the Hibernation Lottery. Who needs Suit Five? You just may be going to Mars yourself!

Pledge Φ1,000,000 or more

13 backers

MAGUS. Subject to flight requirements, you’ll be assigned a hibernation birth on the MAG-1. Dream your way to Mars, and wake up on the Red Planet, refreshed and ready for enlightenment at the Temple.

Pledge Φ5,000,000 or more

2 backers

HIEROPHANT. Subject to flight requirements, you’ll be assigned a crew bunk in the Thaumiel crew module. There will be time to meditate upon the desired nature of opportunities for advancement and settlement leadership once you arrive at Cydonia.

• • • •


Dick Logan, Director CETS on August 9, 2068

Jerry, I always knew you’d pull this off. Congratulations, old friend. I hope you’ll accept my generous backing as the sincere expression of support and fence mending that it is. Spirit and Intelligence on Mars at last! “There is a secret way,” indeed!

AlChumley on August 15, 2068

what the hell i put in 65 bux to get my spacesuit hoodie on, but this is teh most rediculous thing ive ever heard, theres no face on mars lol

Creator JCarver on August 16, 2068

Read again, AlChumley. I never said it was an actual Face, but rather a monumental building, most likely a temple. Nonetheless, thank you for your faithful contribution.

HarrietBW on August 14, 2068

Hate to comment here, Jerry, but you’re not answering emails. Dick Logan? After what happened, are you sure?

Jonathan.D. on August 15, 2068

you really think the government will let you land? government, hell. it’s the martians you REALLY have to worry about. They don’t have corporeal bodies, you know.

Dick Logan on August 21, 2068

I can’t help but comment again. I’m so glad we’re together in this, it’s a dream come true. When will your people contact me about ritual training? I’m ready to get started!

Gray.P.L on August 25, 2068

I backed it! I always thought that Carver/Temple Grafiel were treated unfairly in the press after that big fire at the compound in ’54. Those deaths were an accident, people!

Dick Logan on September 3, 2068

Jerry, was I wrong to think we’d settled our differences? I’ve backed the project. Am I on the MAG-1? You should know, I have people telling me not to go on this mission. My lawyers. They say I’m wrong about you. I know I’m not. I hope I’m not.

K.Edward on November 4, 2068

oh come on Dick. everyone knows carver’s a raving nutter despite all that money he’s got. mission to mars to worship at some nonexistent temples with his space brothers and sisters? puh-lease. i thought you had more sense than that. No wait, I forgot, you’re a raving nutter, too.

Creator JCarver on January 10, 2069

Behold! The Lord of the Aeons opens his Unsleeping Eye!

Dick Logan on February 5, 2069

“Convenient” that you’re unable to accommodate me on the crew berth, Jerry. It’s my money that’s funding this goddamn mission. I backed ALL tiers. Oh, and remember. Your simPath.E suits work both ways.

BZBel on March 25, 2069

The stay at the Solangelo Resort was instructive, Adept Carver. Suit Five is a marvel of engineering, but its too bad you don’t have time to work out all the bugs. It’s Launch Day.

HarrietBW on April 30, 2069

Dammit, Jerry! >:-( There’s something wrong with Suit Five. You’re not responding to my messages. Maybe you’ll see this one. Vid me, DM me, simPath.E, anything! Please!

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BZBel on June 9, 2069

There is a secret way. Bid me within thy house to dwell. There is a secret way. Bid me within thy house to dwell. There is a secret way. Bid me within

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• • • •

Update #1 • Aug 9, 2068

Kneeling in Humility

Thanks to your support, and that of a very generous backer, we’re already at Φ10,000,000! By the unsleeping stars, our journey has begun!

Update #2 • Sept 8, 2068

A Thing of Cheer!

We are funded, and with a few days left to go! There’s more time to donate.

Update #4 • Oct 21, 2068

Consecrate The Instruments

Congratulations to backer Dick Logan, who will be traveling to Mars on the MAG-1 for the adventure of a lifetime! Installation of the ceremonial space aboard Taumiel is nearly complete. A replica in miniature of the planned temple on Mars itself, the Taumiel altar will be consecrated during the voyage, in a sacred ritual combining

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Update #6 • Nov 1, 2068

A Body of Iron and Brass

Operational tests on simPath.E Suit Five a success! Entanglement pipeline green across the board! We laughed when it moved on its own, but q-feedback is within expected ranges.

Update #13 • Jan 14, 2069

Outside the Circle

Refits to the MAG-1 are going well, but we have discovered engineering limitations in the crew module Thaumiel. Refitting extra Hibernation Bunks may not be possible. We are exploring increased access to the q-suits should bunks prove impossible to retrofit.

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Update #15 • March 25, 2069

Rise, I Say!

Launch Day! “By the Five Unsleeping Stars, ward us from the wrath of Mars!”

Update #16 • Apr 1, 2069

Thrice Around . . .

You won’t believe how beautiful it is up here! We’ve orbited Earth three times, and tomorrow we’ll wake up and adjust course for

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Update #17 • Apr 22, 2069

When All the Phantoms Are Vanished

A good morning discussing landing site with flight crew. Many of you have asked on our social feeds why the haptic suits haven’t been activated yet, especially Suit Five. While our hopes had been to utilize the new q-suit on the journey, Suit Five still exhibits irregular q-feedback, almost as if someone is wearing the paired suit back on Earth. Our engineers continue their tests, but the safety of our

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Update #22 • June 10, 2069

May Their Light Shine Perpetually in the Darkness

From MAG headquarters in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

It’s with deep sadness that we must confirm a depressurization accident aboard the spacecraft MAG-1. The trouble began in Crew Module Number 2 (Taumiel), but a system-wide failure spread throughout the vessel. There are no survivors. If possible, we plan to remote-orbit the spacecraft when it arrives at Mars and investigate the accident thoroughly. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the courageous astro-adepts on board, and we here at MAG mourn the loss of the leadership and vision of our friend, Jerrold Carver. A copy of this statement has also been placed on our website, and a press conference will be announced shortly. Thank you.

—Harriet Bao-Williams, Vice President Mars Adventure Group.

Update 19 • June 13, 2069

Before the Abodes of Night

[Video upload from MAG-1, download complete three days after accident. Transcript of video follows.]

A grainy red light, mottled with black fills the frame. Camera pulls back, the field shrinks to an indistinct orb. Camera resolves. An alarm light strobes crimson. Smoke (steam?) wafts past frame. Loud screeching punctuates the audio track. Under this wail (screaming?) an atonal, rhythmic chant barely audible.

“. . . There is a secret way. Bid me within thy house to dwell. There is a secret way. Bid me within thy house to dwell . . .” It repeats.

Shadows lurch through frame, knocking the camera aside. We see: bulkhead of MAG-1 spacecraft scorched black, a severed hose twists spasmodically, spewing thick white vapor that blushes red in the emergency lightning. A figure floats past frame, dressed in a red/black robe of mission. Jerrold Carver, clutches at the pentagram on his chest, his pale face frozen in a rictus of terror. Is the screaming coming from the jagged triangle of his mouth? Another robed person drifts into frame. We can’t see her face, but it’s probably Captain Alves-Foster, Carver’s Adjuvant. Her outstretched arm bumps the camera, blood in jeweled droplets spatters the lens.

The camera’s view shifts again. Spacesuit Number Five looms into frame, wielding the ritual sword. It swings the glinting blade in wide, jerking arcs. The visor of the helmet is up and it’s empty inside. A red mist fills the open faceplate, coalescing into twin lamps of ruby light (glare from the alarms off the mics inside the helmet?). The sword stabs past camera, there’s a strangled cry.

The chanting grows louder, embedded in the audio channel like feedback static. The void of the empty helmet swallows the frame and the pinpricks of arterial light bloom into twin orbs of baleful flame. The static grows louder and we can distinctly hear:

“. . . forth from the palace of seraphic stars. Avenge, oh Bartzabel, thou sprite of Mars!”

[Video cuts to black.]

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