April 5, 2012

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 28: Aster of Opportunity – Right Place, Right Time

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.

Mayor Etaraxis of Opportunity buzzed Hanam vo’Maddux a week later, “Please come to my office and make sure we’re completely alone.”

Hanam smirked and strode in, using the common door rather than the formal entrance to the Mayor’s office. It’s the one he had his intimates use. It was the one she hadn’t booby-trapped to within an inch of the life of anyone passing through it. The formal door could derail a fully-equipped assault rhino in depleted uranium body armor.

This one she knew each and everyone one of its delicate secrets and entering through it unbidden could be a painfully deadly experience if you didn’t know how to deprogram its secrets.

Once she was through and had shed the usual security guards, she gave herself a more sensual walk, tugging downward on her blouse in order to expose a bit more cleavage than usual. She was nearly certain that he was going to propose an alliance between them that would be mutually beneficial as well as a really good time when they weren’t in the public eye.

The Mayor looked up, his attention caught – and then he turned away. “Madame vo’Maddux, I have a question for you.”

She paused then continued until she stood beside but slightly behind him. He was looking out over the city, though he’d raised his office so it actually projected above the Dome. He could see the city below, but his interest seemed to be the Opportunity Mass Driver, largest one on Mars and by far the best situated so that it could fling ore and other non-compressible items into orbit using the rotation of the planet directly by aligning with the equator. Fifty kilometers away, it still stretched an appreciable length of the horizon, glinting silvery red in late morning light. “Lovely, absolutely lovely,” he said.

She nodded, looking out the transparent aluminum window, echoing, “It’s one of the ten engineering wonders of the Solar System and it will eventually lead you to dominate Mars.”

He looked sideways at her then laughed, saying, “Not the Mass Driver!” He strode away from the window and continued, “I’m talking about Aster Thiel! What an incredible intelligent woman! She knows something about everything – she might even be one of those true...what do you call them? Renaissance women! She can cook, sew, keep the books, file, requisition – she even made a suggestion for beefing up security in the Mayor’s House!”

“What?” Hanam exclaimed. “What could she possible know about the security for your House? She’s just a secretary from the office pool!”

When he turned to face her, he said, “That was all you were until I sent you off to the Marines. Even less than that as I recall – didn’t one of my sergeants pick you up on the Rim of Burroughs when the Mayor there called us to put down one of their interminable food riots?” He shook his head. “You were a scrawny thing.” He smiled appraisingly then sniffed, “Never quite filled out into a proper woman though, did you. Always vaguely masculine.” He turned away shaking his head. He picked up his pad from the desk and aimed it at her. “Here’s the suggestion Aster made last night. See that it’s implemented and then tell me when you’re ready for it to be tested. I need to have it ready in time for the wedding.”

Hanam vo’Maddux blinked and rocked backward as if she’d been slapped. “The what, Mr. Mayor?”

“Wedding. Aster’s what I’ve been looking for. She’s smart, she’s served me – us,” he shot her a dangerous, hooded look, then continued, “Check out the hole she found in your supposedly perfect defense of my house. It was big enough to drive a copboard through.”

Vo’Maddux snatched the pad, scanned it and caught her breath. “It couldn’t have been that easy,” she breathed. It appeared that the airtight security surrounding the Mayor’s personal residence could be breached via an education link and protocol installed when a Mayor some eighty years ago had had a mob of children and chose to homeschool them. Her husband was, in fact a licensed educator and they’d used the equipment and links to great advantage – of the ten, three owned their own interplanetary transportation fleets, six had served in some governmental capacity on Mars, the Moon, Earth or in the Cloud Cities of Venus. One had died a heroes death saving a bus load of children from a Buddhist terrorist’s bomb during the Unification of Faith in Humanity on Earth forty years ago.

But no one had ever canceled the link or cut it. Conceivably an sort of computer virus could be invisibly injected into the Mayoral system. She looked up to catch the Mayor’s eye; to promise sexual favors in abject apology, but his eye was elsewhere. He said, “That will be all Chief.”

Flushing red from equal parts embarrassment and fury, she left the office.

There was only one thing she could do about this Aster of the Mayor’s.

Destroy her.

No comments: