September 18, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 59: 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.

Stepan-whose-given-name-was-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? Why do Humans discriminate against non-Humans?”

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.”

“My beliefs would say that it was sin – not what God intended, but what we chose because we wanted freedom from God.”
His father sighed then looked up at him and said, “What do you need?”
“I’m starting a rooftop community garden – I’ve got a community contact now…”

“Quinn.” Stepan/Nathan took a step forward, lifting his hand. His dad said, “No need, son. We can do it.”
“You can get people to support my garden?”

He shook his head, “Not your garden, this ‘Stepan the do-gooder’s garden.”

Stepan opened his mouth as his temper flared. He knew his cheeks were red as well – he’d never been able to hide anger or embarrassment from the world. His red hair and pale, freckled skin coupled with his temper had earned him the nickname of Kū, a Hawaiian god of war. But he wasn’t the same man he was when he chose his own life and left home and his parent’s beliefs behind. He said, “Agreed.”

His dad nodded slowly. “Good. You’ve grown up.” He stood up and went into a back room and came out with a parcel. He held it out.

“What is this?”

“Your mother and I were going to give it to you when you left home, but you left before we could give it to you.”

Stepan took it and held it. The material was smart – it slithered until it hung in his hands. “A rauba?” He frowned and said, “Vestments?”

His dad snorted. “Don’t get too excited. Your mom and I,” he voice caught. His wife, Stepan’s mother had died shortly after he’d left them for the Rim. Dad had never forgiven what he felt was Stepan’s betrayal. The betrayal had killed his mother. He continued, “It was your mother’s acknowledgement that you were going to be different than the kid we thought we’d raised. It was my parting shot. Your mother thought it was cruel and that I shouldn’t have done it. But I was angry.”

Stepan pursed his lips and said, “I was, too.”

He shook his head, “What did you have to be mad about? We gave you everything.” He glared.

“Except the freedom to make up my own mind.”

His eyes widened, then he dropped his gaze. “Yeah. Freedom for everyone but our kids.” Shaking his head, he suddenly smiled. “I thought it was a function of youth rebelling against their parent’s wacko religion – Christianity or Judaism or Islam, obviously. What I never realized until years later is that once we trained you to have a brain, to make the right choices. I just figured you’d make the same choices I did.”

Stepan smiled as well, “It was close, dad. If you wanted to listen, I’d have talked your ear off – and maybe even stuck with you.”

“Your mother listened.”

Stepan nodded, “She did. But I wanted you to hear me. You’re my hero.”

He opened his mouth, then turned away abruptly. His voice came weakly, bouncing off the wall. “Just go.”

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