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.
“What do you mean when you say that there’s an outpost there? How can it not show up on radar? It’s physical…” said HanAH, surging up from his seat. He stared through the transparent aluminum. His lips pressed together into a thin line.
DaneelAH shook his head slowly then glanced at AzAH, motioning her forward as well. MishAH followed, stared out the window and said, “It’s fading.”
“Then reappearing,” AzAH said. She glanced down at the scanner. “It’s literally there, then not.”
HanAH said, “It’s a temporary dome, inflatable. Military grade. But it looks like there’s an underground passage, so they’ve been here long enough to create permanent quarters.”
“Who’s been here long enough?”
MishAH leaned forward and said, “Them.”
An airlock opened, spilling bright, Earth-brilliant light across the Martian dust. A figure in a suit stepped out, crossed to the marsbug and stood in front of the window and held out its arms. After a few moments, it lowered its arms and came around the side of the ‘bug. There was a knock on their door. AzAH said, “Pretty clear invitation there. Do we follow?”
“Why would we do that?” MishAH asked.
DaneelAH said, “Because Paolo had the ‘bug stop here.”
“So you think whoever lives here will tell us why we’re here?”
AzAH shook her head. “No, but they might have clues. Or hints. Or something. I say we go with them.”
HanAH pursed his lips and nodded slowly. “Let’s suit up.”
MishAH scowled. “How do you know we’re not being lured into some sort of trap? What if they’re one of those groups that are out to get rid of everyone who do have the right monothought?”
“You mean like this Paolo Conciliação person?” HanAH said.
DaneelAH said, “Let’s suit up. If there’s fewer than four of them, we can protect ourselves. If there are more, then we can still probably protect ourselves…”
“What if there are other artificial humans?” AzAH said.
“Then we do what we can. The Human who programmed this ‘bug has something in mind if he programmed us to stop here.” DaneelAH said.
“Only one way to find out. Let’s go,” said DaneelAH.
It took them twenty minutes to suit up. When they got outside, the space suit was waiting for them. It gestured them to follow and shortly they were in the airlock cycling through. The suit didn’t stop once the inner lock opened. The dome was spare, six suit racks with one empty; a dozen spare air tanks, a long metal bench with nearly racked tools and a set of square storage bins stacked on top of each other, stuffed with parts of space suits and dozens of machines.
It opened a second lock and bowed them in. They followed, waiting until the second lock opened and they followed the suit down a ramp and to another door. It opened and the suit turned around. Third door barred them from going any farther. The suited figure broke the helmet seal, twisted and unseated it and lifted it up.
Setting the helmet down, the very young man with a shaven head placed his hands in the Añjali Mudrā position, bowed slightly and said, “Namaste, friends. We’ve been expecting you.”