October 9, 2014

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 60: Aster of Opportunity

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.

Aster Theilen, late the consort of the Mayor of one of the five largest Domes on Mars, was the one woman who stood the best chance to make changes. The first change would be to somehow inspire the rest of the planet to donate their hard-earned, hard-inherited credits to support children and young adults who had been an experiment in genetic engineering. The Martian Child Foundation worked tirelessly to provide for children who were supposed to be the future of Mars – who ended up being an embarrassment to all Humanity.

Because of that, they were hidden; ignored; scraping by on donations and the leavings from government trust funds – even that was regularly challenged during budget negotiations on every Council.

Etaraxis did what he could, but he was a political figure against whom some people would cast a vote to airlock their own mothers if he told them to vote to save her life. He stood little chance of doing anything more than convincing cats to crave catnip.
Their account was near empty. He needed an unexpected windfall. “He needs a miracle,” Aster muttered to herself as she watched Hanam vo’Maddux walk away. The woman could blow up her rocket on the launch pad if she chose to. But there was something about her. Something that seemed sad rather than frightening. Aster shook her head and turned to head in the opposite direction.

She needed an idea. Something that would capture the minds of Opportunity’s half million people – engaging them without repelling them. Poster children were out right away. There’d been enough of those attempted in the ten Martian years since the manipulations and births happened. People now only turned away. She found herself strolling to the Core. It was early afternoon so the sun poured down, magnified and reflected and augmented by Solar-spectrum lights until she had to squint. There were people wearing sunglasses as they strolled the vast spiral leading to the top levels, just under the greenhouses and Solar mirrors on the surface. Higher still, parked in an arestationary orbit, webs of solar cells connected to powersats beamed abundant power down to each of the largest Cities. From there, power was beamed or travelled through cables to outlying Stations and Outposts.

From Highest Olympus, the space station serving Mars’ connection with the rest of the Solar System, she had seen the pocks of green on the rusted surface of the Red Planet. The green spread a bit every year, and botanists had claimed this year that they had finally developed a tough, straw-like lichen that could live outside on the Martian equator and in the deepest parts of Valles Marineris.

It was stunning enough that she felt that, had she the voice or any musical talent whatsoever, she would have written a song and sung it then and there! As it was, she had tapped a pathetic poem, thinking it the most evocative thing ever written. Hidden in an encrypted file now, she shuddered...

Down the ramp from the surface came a class of children, their query marker guru smiling, laughing, and doing his darnedest to keep the passel of multi-toned kindergartners under control.

“Kenisha! Don’t go so close to the railing! Mohlee – keep your hands to yourself! Onorio, you and Keiko just have to share until we get back to the park!” He paused, scowled, then called, “All right, everyone, let’s sing ‘Belka v on korzinu’!” He glanced at Aster, started, and said, “Let’s ask the Mayor’s Consort to sing ‘Squirrel In The Cart’ with us!”

The children gathered around her, and Aster hummed along as they sang. Smiling, she knew exactly how to run the funding drive for The Martian Child Foundation.

No comments: