May 16, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 55: Stepan in the HOD

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, go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story.

Old Man Gillard threw back the hood as they entered the main room of the adobe. Built against the outer wall of Burroughs Dome 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 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?”

Stepan scanned the room. Spartan, as he had expected. He walked to the bookshelf that occupied an entire wall and touched a book. “You still take care of them?”

OM Gillard laughed and said, “They would have been yours if you’d stuck to your guns. Your mother and I raised you as philosophy-free as we could. You were supposed to...” he waved everything away. “As it is, they’ll pass into the public domain. Probably make the house a library or something after I’m dead.”

Stepan turned to his father, saying, “It didn’t have to be this...”

He grunted and said, “Once you publicly renounced the Unified Faith In Humanity – something I helped start, as you might remember – you pretty much took things out of my hands. If you’d...”

Stepan returned the gesture subconsciously. “That part of our relationship is over, Dad. I’ve come to the HOD for another reason.”

“Which is?”

“I need money to feed the poor out on the Rim.”

His father laughed, shaking his head. “What kind of trouble you got yourself into this time, Nathan?”

“I go by Stepan now.”

Dad lifted his chin, “Like the martyr Steven in your christian fairytales?”

Stepan/Nathan shrugged. “Seemed appropriate at the time. I really don’t expect to be around very long when word finally gets out that I gave up your artificial religion.”

His father sighed. “It worked for L. Ron Hubbard – and we have better reasons for creating it.”

“How is it that you…” he chopped the air. “Enough of the old argument. I’d like help to establish a sort of colony that people with money problems or in trouble with the law can come to start over. I’d like to be able to eventually create a credit pool so I can award people who are ready for it to start farms, maybe do produce items like wine and silk.”

His father snorted. “Lofty goals, boy, for someone who gave up everything – for nothing.”

Stepan/Nathan shook his head, “Not for nothing, Dad. My ideals are as strong as yours and Mom’s. They’re just different...”

“And divisive.”

“No more divisive than your Unified Faith in Humanity has become. Why are there still Five Councils after a hundred years of us living on Mars?”

His father waved away the accusation then finally went to a straight back chair and sat down with a sigh. Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t know.”

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