June 30, 2011

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 18: DaneelAH Leaving Bradbury Behind

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.

The Marsbug seemed to pause. The lights flickered and a shudder ran from the forward end to the propulsion unit. When the 'bug powered up again, it rolled forward smoothly, passing through the public lock and out on to the surface of Mars.
MishAH said softly, "At least he didn't repeat his ultimatum again like in the threedees."
"He didn't have to repeat it!" exclaimed HanAH, angrily. "He's got us under lock and key! He's stealing us!" He stood up abrupty and banged the hull overhead. "He can't do this to us!"
"At the risk of pointing out the obvious, he did give us a choice," said DaneelAH.
"You're defending him?" HanAH said.
"Not defending --just repeating. Besides, I think I recognize the voice."
AzAH shook her head. "You recognize the voice of a terrorist?"
DaneelAH pursed his lips -- it wasn't necessary for any artificial Human to make any sort of face to indicate concentration, expecially when AHs were the only ones present. But programmiung and repeated performance made for inelastic response routines. He said, "I know it. Long time ago." He closed his eyes as they 'bug accelerated out of Malacandra. Scowling, he reached up and pulled an arm-mounted flatscreen down into his lap and began to type. After a moment, he grunted and lifted his chin toward the forward viewscreen. "Look at this."
An image of a Human speaking appeared. The Human was on a platform, standing behind a podium. In seats behind him, four others looked on. The one on the farthest right was an elderly woman. DaneelAH froze the image and said, "Recognize the woman?"
AzAH leaned forward, then gasped. "E.R. Marcillon!"
Even HanAH's angry glare softened, "Eleanor Rockefeller Marcillon, the First Mayor?"
MishAH added, "She must have been almost two hundred years old in this!"
DaneelAH nodded. "According to the database, she was one hundred and ninety-three years old. Recognize the speaker?"
HanAH was the first one to see it. "Is that Paolo Conciliação?"
AzAH unstrapped herself from the seat and stepped forward to the screen, studying it. "It can't be," she said.
"The age looks right," MishAH said, leaning back in his seat.
"It's him," DaneelAH said, "And the voice print on the message we just listened to matches Senor Conciliação's in this and other archived speeches."
"He died," HanAH said abruptly.
"He was reported dead, but no body was ever found to confirm the report."
AzAH said, "He was just a kid here!"
HanAH snorted, "That raised a lot of eyebrows, I heard."
"We weren't out of the vats yet," MishAH snapped. "How would you know what anyone heard?"
"Nonetheless, it was quite a scandal, from what I heard." He sniffed, "Practically the first thing I heard about after I was decanted."
"We were decanted together," said AsAH, returning to her seat and strapping in.
"We weren't trained together, though."
DaneelAH said, "Enough about gossip -- the facts here state that he disappeared after the Interim Mayor was elected to the Mayorship fifty-six years ago."
HanAH shook his head, "The way I heard it was that Paolo there had been trained and prepped and picked by the First Mayor. The Interim -- what was his name?"
"Fortune Torgerson," DaneelAH supplied.
"Strange name," AzAH said.
HanAH's reply rose an octave as the 'bug rode over a rille, tossing them all up against the straps as he said, "You should talk!" After they laughed, he continued, "From what I heard, Fortune wasn't so keen on giving up the Interimship and wanted to make it permanent. There was plenty of gossip, too, about the First Mayor's relationship with her protege. Once Mayor Marcillon passed, Fortune was to train Paolo, then hand over the reigns. Instead, he tried to kill the kid -- he was sneaky at first, but toward the end, he was doing everything except degassing Bradbury to get rid of Conciliação. The problem was that the kid was honest and good and would have made a great Mayor. He had no choice but to disappear when Fortune threatened to do just that."
"What?" AzAH asked.
"Degas Bradbury - pop the cork, let the air out, deflate the Dome...Fortune told the kid the charges were laid and ready to blow if he didn't step down as heir apparent." HanAH paused. "He did."
"And he disappeared. All kinds of rumors surfaced over the years, and Security left his file open..."
"Now we know where he is," said DaneelAH.
"No," said HanAH, "We don't. We're in a locked Marsbug, on our way to a rendezvous with no idea of where we're going or what's going to happen once we get there. We may be in the hands of a homicidal marsatic."
"Well, at least we know what happened to him," MishAH said, tightening her straps.
Scowling, HanAH asked, "What?"
"He became a Christian and now he's a criminal."

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