Paolo Marcillon bit his lower lip as he studied the viewscreen on his marsbug. Burroughs the Benighted Dome loomed behind him. His pulse pounded in his ears and his breathing still came in ragged gasps. Even though he’d done what he could, the persecution of Christians and anyone else the Five Councils didn’t like still teetered on the brink of pogrom.
While he knew his history of Mars best, he knew enough of Earth’s sad history to understand that the times here were not only looking grim, they’d just become more complicated. The Cydonia Fellowship of Free Martians itself had incontrovertible proof that something had lived on Mars and left its complex bones behind – something that had a fin like a dolphin. There hadn’t been oceans on Mars for three and a half billion years. Given that the Solar System was only four or five billion years old, that left no time at all for complex life – let alone intelligent life – to have evolved on Mars. The Free Martians believed that the dolphin things had come from somewhere else.
The promulgation of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and all the other religious flavors of Humanity, as well as a uniquely Martian abolitionist movement in the more liberal Robinson City that had started a campaign to allow that artificial Humans deserved rights…he shook his head. Add that to evidence that Humanity had been subjected to the scrutiny of some alien overlords a zillion years ago...
Mars was in trouble. He was in trouble. They were all in trouble.
He goosed the marsbug. The young man he’d met here – what was his name again? Stepan – with the rooftop garden and the odd following on the Rim; he might be a key to changing things in Burroughs. He also might become a martyr for Christ as well. Everything was beginning to depend from a thinner and thinner thread. Paolo hoped it would remain strong enough. Maybe the legendary carbon monofilament cable that was supposed to make the Tsiolkovsky elevator possible would be sufficient to hold everything up long enough for Mars to figure itself out.
At least he’d been able to connect Lewis and Stepan as well as leave them the name of the woman in the floater chair, Procula Fitzsimmons Aurelius Mann. A prominent Robinson City socialite, she might have the credits and the political weight to held them if they needed to disappear before the possible pogrom...
He shook his head slowly. How had he become so involved with Martian politicking? He was a simple man...he laughed then. Hardly simple. His parents had been heavily invested in the initial effort to bring Artificial Humans to Mars. They still held enough voting shares in CorporateAH, Inc. to influence the Board. He was their only child and had enough stock of his own to be someone with whom the Board had to deal. Even so, he was certain God wasn’t calling him to fight the battle between CorporateAH and the abolitionist movement.
He was to win souls for Christ. He floored the ‘bug’s accelerator. He needed to make it to Bradbury first. Then Ares Station between Bradbury and Cydonia. Last stop would be the Face On Mars – at least it was traditionally called The Face. What it was, was a rock; possibly a volcanic dome. No one had taken the time to dig much deeper than the surface.
Then again, the bones had come from there, so someone was running an excavation. The question he was going to try and find out before he reached Cydonia, was WHO?