February 19, 2011

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 14: DaneelAH Out of Malacandra

On a well-settled Mars, the five major city Council regimes struggle to meld into a stable, working government. Embracing an official United Faith in Humanity, the Councils are teetering on the verge of pogrom directed against Christians, Molesters , Jews, Rapists, Buddhists, Murderers, Muslims, Thieves, Hindu, Embezzlers and Artificial Humans – anyone who threatens the official Faith and the consolidating power of the Councils. It makes good sense, right – get rid of religion and Human divisiveness on a societal level will disappear? An instrument of such a pogrom might just be a Roman holiday...To see the rest of the chapters, go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story.
A speaker on the roof squealed with feedback then a voice boomed from it, “Artificial Humans Daneel, Az, Mish and Han please board this ship under orders from Malacondran Mayor Angaleese Turin, your owner.”
The Marsbug sitting before them didn’t move or speak. Neither did they. Finally, DaneelAH asked, “Where are we going?”
The ‘bug boomed, “Outpost Cydonia.”
“We’re going to the Face On Mars?” MishAH exclaimed.
“The Face On Mars?” DaneelAH exclaimed.
A soft voice hissed from inside, “The Face On Mars…”
AzAH scowled and said, “Outpost Cydonia isn’t at the Face. It’s a couple hundred klicks south, nearer the equator.”
The ‘bug said, “Get in, property of Malacandran Mayor Angaleese Turin! I am programmed to operate within a limited time frame and am authorized to stun you and alert authorities that you have been resisting a direct command.”
DaneelAH bit his upper lip then stepped into the ‘bug. “We don’t have anything to lose – and nothing to gain if the thing has to stun us. The Mayor might decide to get rid…”
HanAH pushed past him, bending over to slide inside and snorting. “Like that would happen. We’re valuable property.”
MishAH pushed his backside as she followed him into the ‘bug, “Don’t let it go to your head, buddy.”
“It’s not…” When all four of them were inside, the door slid shut and the ‘bug started rolling, making for the exit airlock on the other side of Malacandra.
They’d reached Barsoom Avenue and their ‘bug had neatly inserted itself into the traffic flow of robot freight carriers crossing the thirty kilometer wide pressure dome. The city sat in a crater, the walls of Martian stone acting as the base for the massive construct. The glass and steel allow was supported by girders but also a pressure force screen as well augmented by antigravity units that constantly adjusted the distribution of weight. Repellor units worked to keep dust from settling on the glass, but still needed the help of regular, physical cleaning to keep the dome transparent.
The exit lock was a few hundred meters ahead of them when the ‘bug seemed to pause. The lights flickered and a shudder ran from the forward end to the propulsion unit.
Another voice said, “My name is Paolo and I am a bondservant – a slave – of Christ Jesus, set apart for the gospel of God, whose son was prophesied by the Bible and declared God with power by the resurrection from the dead…”
HanAH snorted, “Lunatic.”
MishAH shook her head, “More properly, ‘marsatic’.”
AzAH hissed them quiet, adding, “Lunatic or ‘marsatic’ or not, this man compromised Malacondran security and somehow put this message in here.”
The voice continued, “I know that you are also bondservants of Mayor Turin…”
AzAH, “And he knew that we were the intended pick up of this particular Marsbug.”
The others fell silent as the voice continued, “…and like all artificial humans, have suffered under persecution by the City Councils of Malacandra, Robinson City, Burroughs, Bradbury and Opportunity….”
“No poop, Poirot,” intoned MishAH.
Paolo continued, “I’ve programmed this ‘bug from under Hellas Planitia where I am joining,” the voice paused.
AzAH said, “His tonal inflection suggests he’s being held against his will.”
DaneelAH pursed his lips and added, “Which also suggests he knows that you’re a translator and would notice tonal inflections and could interpret them.”
HanAH used an expletive usually reserved for his security associates – artificial humans rarely had friends. DaneelAH nodded. Paolo was saying, “…Free Martian Fellowship. Their interpretation of events leading to the formation of the Face on Mars is fascinating and creative, but leaves me with questions. I know the Mayor has planned to download a forensic xenoarchaeologist database into Daneel,” all four of the artificial humans looked up at the speaker as the stranger left off the appellation denoting their status as material possessions. “I have information that might contribute to the Mayor’s interest in the Face. This ‘bug has been programmed to take you to where I am. You may also override the programming, in which case it will be deleted and become unrecoverable. You have five minutes to decide whether you will allow the programming to continue or not. If you wish to follow up on my offer, simply say, ‘Compliance’. Thank you for your time.”
DaneelAH glanced at his friends and after an instant of silence, sat up straight and said, “Compliance.”

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