On a well-settled Mars, the five major city Council regimes struggle to meld into a stable, working government. Embracing an official Unified 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 – and I’m sorry, but a number of them got deleted from the blog – go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story. If you’d like to read it from beginning to end (36,000 words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.
From the back of the light-hearted mob that had grown abruptly silent came a heavy, gravelly, dark voice, “Who taketh my name in vain?”
Stepan stepped forward. The man was wearing a hooded robe, dark brown material thrown up and over a black, rubbery uniform underneath. He studied he man’s face as the man studied his. OM Gillard scowled and leaned forward. His eyes flicked with recognition, but he said, “Who are you?”
The woman who’d ratted on Stepan said, “It’s Natan Wallace! Hero of the Faith Wars! Vanquisher of Divisiveness! He’s come out of hiding to let everyone know how well we followed his program to free Mars from every form of...”
OM Gillard held up his hand and said, “I know what appellations have been attached to the name. But this is not The Hero. He’s an imposter!”
From the back of the crowd, a voice muttered, “I knew it was too good to be true.”
Another said, “Why would anyone claim to be The Hero then try and weasel out of it?”
Stepan-Natan briefly thought about pointing out that he’d never said what his name was. He wasn’t the one who’d claimed to be The Hero. The woman had identified him. She cried out again, “No! I know it’s him! I have his picture framed and hanging on my wall – the one where he’s standing in front of Olympus Mons and it looks like he’s holding that old fraudulent god in his hand and is ready to slap it like a mosquito!”
Another voice said, “That’s not The Hero! This guy looks like he crawled out of an ice mine a few days ago! He’s skinny and pale and doesn’t look like he could muster a declarative sentence let alone debate The Philosopher!”
Stepan glanced sharply at OM Gillard who muttered and said loudly, “Move him to my place. I’ll question him there where I can record his testimony.”
“What about the purp?” someone called, using an obscene street slur for Quinn. Several Hodfolk gasped at the crudity. Another person in the crowd must have shoved the caller, because the same voice said, “What? That’s what it is! A lousy purp...” A scuffle broke out.
The old man shrugged and said, “Bring it with. You can tie it up in the front yard to make sure it won’t wander around while I interrogate its master.”
Quinn opened his mouth to argue, but both Stepan and OM Gillard turned to glare at him simultaneously. The boy’s eyes grew wide and he shut his mouth with a snap as Stepan fell in alongside him. No one noticed. More people joined the group until Stepan felt like he was being paraded at the center of a lynch mob. Much like the mobs he’d inspired when he’d led the rebellion against religion twenty years ago.
OM Gillard led them to a huge adobe house – an Anansi-style pueblo backed up against the Dome. A ramp led up to a wide flat patio where the all stopped. OM Gillard stopped the group with an uplifted. They stopped immediately and listened as he said, “I’ll question our visitor and report to you shortly. Leave the artificial human out here.” He paused, leaning forward and said softly, “I will expect this living property to be well cared for. By everyone.” He turned and walked into the pueblo, gesturing for Stepan to follow. He paused and bowed slightly as the younger man passed him and into the cool interior.
The hooded elder threw back the hood as they entered and he closed a screen behind them. Stepan turned and said, “I see you’re still wearing the suit Mom made for you.”
The older man smiled faintly, tapped the thick leather of the black suit and said, “I go in and out all the time. Everything thinks it’s magic. No one bothers to pay much attention to the Original Settler’s ways.” He paused. “How are you doing, Son?”