August 2, 2012

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 32: Aster of Opportunity – Faith

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.

Flushing red from equal parts embarrassment and fury, Hanam vo’Maddux left the Mayor of Opportunity’s office.

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

Destroy her.

Sweeping down the corridor, she gathered her security detail without slowing down. Once she was in her own office, she dismissed everyone but her own lead security guard, Mason Akayev and said, “We need dirt.”


“Dirt!” Hanam shouted, rising from her chair. Clenching her jaw, she fell back into her seat until she had wrestled her temper back under her control. Closing her eyes, she tried a relaxation technique some Buddhist monk had taught her just before she’d had him executed for proselytizing in a public place. The man had thought that if he gave her something she wanted, she’d give him his life back. She HAD apologized – just before he’d been pushed out through the Execution Lock. That was as far as she’d been willing to go. After the fifteen minute exercise, she was back to her old self. Opening her eyes, she found Akayev still standing at attention in front of her. “I need evidence regarding the disloyalty or possible criminal activity of the Opportunity citizen, Aster Thiel.”

Akayev snorted as his arms fell to parade rest.

“What’s wrong with that request?”

Akayev shook his head, saying, “Better if you asked me to investigate you, Ma’am. You have a spotless record.”

“Of course I do! I wrote it!” She paused. “You mean this woman has a spotless record?”

“You had us investigate her before she accompanied the Mayor to the Solstmas Ball.” He shrugged, “She was clean.”

Hanam leaned back in her chair, lids partly closing. She steepled her fingers before her nose and said softly, “I’m not asking for an investigation this time, Akayev. I want evidence in order to press charges for criminal activity.”

She and Akayev had started working together for nearly a Martian decade. He’d been one of the people the Mayor had dug up with her. While he’d sent her first to the Marines followed by a college education and then what the Mayor euphemistically called “finishing school”; he’d sent Akayev into the Marines and left him there. The man had traveled all over the planet, ostensibly in the service of the Council of Cities. He’d really been in search of information that would help the Mayor of Opportunity not only consolidate his base in the City – but to lay groundwork for a Council of one in some undefined future.

Hanam wasn’t stupid. Some of the information Akayev gathered was on her. But doing double duty wasn’t a problem for him and she usually got first hearing on things that might have an impact on her job.

Her lead security wasn’t stupid either. He lifted his chin a fraction. He understood what he was to do. She added, “She’s moving in on my territory, Om. I don’t intend to hand twenty years of influence over to some office bimbo.”

“Understood.” She waved him away and he disappeared. Getting back to work, she let documents, reports, data, memos and summaries relax her. Even the Religious Climate of Mars document was lighter reading than usual. She paused and sat back, playing a dramatized public service message provided by the Committee For Freedom From Nonoperational Religious Fanaticism, colloquially, The Freedom Committee.

“For ten thousand years, Earth was home to religious belief systems that did nothing but foster a philosophy of war, persecution, institutionalized torture, brainwashing, genocide, murder and hatred. With the birth of the United Faith In Humanity, this philosophy has been largely replaced by one of peace, inclusion, personal assistance, mind-expansion, genoraphe, preservation, and love. Join us and help return Humanity to its rational, sympathetic, generous free of outmoded religious belief systems.”

She ran the message again. When it was over, she was smiling and the facial posturing had nothing to do with peace and love.

Word construct: geno: “race or kind” + raphe: "seam, suture" (medical), Modern Latin, from Gk. rhaphe "seam, suture (of a skull)," from rhaptein "to sew together, stitch" (see wrap)

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