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.
MishAH, AzAH, HanAH and DaneelAH – four purple artificial Humans who were the property of the Mayor of Malacandra – rode in silence in the Marsbug as it sped over the surface of the Red Planet.
They had been stolen.
“Paolo Conciliação disappeared...and he became a Christian?" exclaimed HanAH. He tried to stand up. The straps held him down, keeping him from banging his head on the ceiling.
DaneelAH pursed his lips then said, “Now we know where he is.”
“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 criminal.”
“Now he’s a thief,” said AzAH. She settled down into her seat. “It looks to me that after ‘we’ said ‘yes’ to his offer of a ride, we’re stuck in here for the next fifteen hours.” She shot a glare at DaneelAH, who shrugged.
“It seemed like the right thing to say at the time – and it seemed in line with what Mayor Turin has in plan for us.”
“How do we know she’s not as devious as Mayor Torgerson?” HanAH said.
“What?” asked DaneelAH.
“Torgerson tried to murder this Paolo not long after his grandmother died. She tried to pass the reigns of leadership to him – we have to assume that she had prepared him for his job.” MishAH paused, scowled then continued, “We also have to assume that she prepared him for this eventuality.”
DaneelAH exclaimed, “She planned for him to be murdered?”
“You’ve had a Complete Martian History downloaded into your memory. Try and tell me that that would have been impossible! She was brilliant, sly and a consummate politician. How else would she have run Mars as UN Governor General for forty years?” DaneelAH turned from the rest of them to stare out at the passing landscape. “She would have planned for this.”
“What would she have done?” asked AzAH, “Planned to haunt Torgerson from the grave?”
DaneelAH said abruptly, “There’s another possibility.” He said to HanAH, “Enlarge the image and then focus on Paolo’s face and Mayor Marcillon’s face.” She did. DaneelAH said, “Enlarge and remaster the resolution, extrapolating from all databases.” The image vanished then reappeared.” He studied the image.
AzAH said, “I’ve been translating all my life – and I don’t just mean words. When I work, I have to interpret unspoken language as well. I watch facial expressions, body position and listen to an analyze tone. I can tell you unequivocally that that young man is terrified. I don’t care what his words are, he’s afraid of something.” She swiped a finger through the other image. “That’s his grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt Marcillon and he expression is extremely intent – but not on her grandson. She’s looking over here.” He flipped the image so that it expanded and she poked a face, remastering it. After a moment, it resolved into clarity.
“Isn’t that Hanam vo’Maddux?” said MishAH.
“Seventy years ago.”
“He hasn’t changed a bit.”
DaneelAH rode out a series of harmonic bumps in the road then said, “I know who it is. My question is that she’s the Mayor of Opportunity’s Chief of Security right now. What was she doing on the podium between the Founding Mayor and the First Settler of Mars – in Malacandra short before the disappearance of the Founding Mayor’s hand-picked-for-succession grandson?”