January 22, 2015

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 64: 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.

She looked up toward the surface of Mars. Opportunity was largely underground with fields, research, recreation and manufacturing under the Dome but still on the surface. In the center, a vertical shaft plunged nearly a kilometer into the crust of Mars. The first five hundred meters of the shaft was wrapped in a gently sloping ramp, broad and nearly transparent to allow the light from the surface – magnified by Solar collectors – to stream to the floor far below.

Coming down from the Administrative Offices, Hanam vo’Maddux had stopped to snipe at Aster a bit. The woman was crazy jealous of Aster. vo’Maddux thought that SHE was the woman for Mayor Etaraxis. In fact, Aster was certain that the Mayor’s head of security thought that she was The Woman for Opportunity. Mayor-for-life seemed to be the title she was angling for.

Aster sighed. She didn’t exactly love the Mayor, but it was clear to her now that she didn’t exactly hate him, either. He was a product of the environment; a politician no different than the first politician on Earth to climb out of the primordial ooze and tell a group of people what to do. But there were some things he was right about. She stood a bit straighter as the group of children made their way down the ramp. The children’s query marker guru smiling, laughing, and doing his darnedest to keep the passel of multi-toned kindergartners under control turned to walk backward and waved to her. The children did the same, smiling and waving with every bit of energy a kindergartner could muster. Every one of them was an orphan of a system that had created then discarded them. “No different than anyone else,” Aster muttered to herself.

Squinting, she imagined what a swirling mass of children would do to woo the local politicians –especially if they were mixed with the local wealthy. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell if there’s any difference.” Frowning, she pulled out her tablet-computer and lifted an image from the screen to make the air glow in front of her.
There’d be no trouble finding a venue – all she had to do was mention the Mayor’s name. She could have any place she wanted. But she needed a place that wouldn’t intimidate the children, either. And something elegant. The event could echo the Solstmas Ball – but be for common folk as well.

Common folk – what if she ran two events, one for the elite; one for normal people like herself and her father. She could certainly be a both places. In fact, she might use one place on the surface, one place underground. The children could start above, playing in one of the gigantic parks...

By the time she’d started texting the appropriate people, she was humming. When she got to the Mayor’s office, FardusAH was hard at work. When she looked up and saw Aster, she wiped he hand through her workscreen and said, “Your Majesty!”

“I told you to never call me that in public,” Aster said with mock severity.

FardusAH grinned and said, “Of course, Your Majesty.”

A vividly purple Artificial Human, FardusAH had become one of her few friends in the Mayor’s Office. She’d be the  perfect person to bounce ideas off of. And the PERFECT person to institute a bit of rebellion into an otherwise staid occasion. Aster said, “Listen, I have some...things I have to run by you…”

FardusAH’s eyebrows rose as she said, “Some ‘things’, eh, Your Majesty? These I can’t wait to hear!”

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