“Maybe Paolo has a plan to free Mars from the Mayors as well as the United Faith in Humanity,” said HanAH, the security expert in their army [generic term for any group of clones of any number; derived from ancient “movie” STAR WARS].
“A way that doesn’t involve feeding all dissidents to the figurative lions,” said AzAH, whose expertise in language was quite literally inbred.
“In this case, I think the figurative lions are the very real near-vacuum on the surface via opened airlocks instead of the jaw bones,” said HanAH. He leaned into the joysticks and the marsbug raced forward until the walls began to hum. “Make sure you have your helmets handy. No one in here’s likely to pull a RubyMar this far from the Valley.”
DaneelAH, whose knowledge base was the broadest, though specialized in xenoarchaeology, snorted, “Funny you should mention her – she risked her life to save her ex-husband, way back in the Lunar Colonial days.”
“That’s not the allusion I was trying for,” HanAH said. “What I meant was…”
“That’s the allusion I got,” said DaneelAH, holding up a hand. “And that’s what I’m going with.” The marsbug bounced along the surface, heading steadily northwest and into the jaws of the lion.
MishAH spoke up, “I’ve been looking at our path.”
HanAH said, “How can you be doing that? I don’t know where we’re going yet and I’m the one...”
“I don’t think you really are. I think you’re being directed.”
The security expert snorted. “That’s absurd!”
AzAH said abruptly, “Let go of the controls.”
“That would be suicide!” HanAH exclaimed.
“I don’t think so,” said MishAH. “I think we’re only along this tour for the ride. This Paolo person sent the ‘bug for us. So far he’s taken us to places that appear to serve his purposes.”
“What’s his purpose?” DaneelAH asked.
“That’s not important right now!” HanAH interrupted. “This insane revival preacher isn’t in control here! We are and if it’s not exactly us, it’s Turin back in Malacandra. He sent us on this mission.”
DaneelAH said, “Did he?”
HanAH spun around, releasing the controls, “What’s that supposed to mean?” The ‘bug slowed to a halt, its autopilot guiding it so a stop.
“He sent us, that much is what we remember. But who made him send us? It’s not like this was a usual request,” he held up a finger as HanAH opened his mouth, “He must have known the ‘bug came for us. He could have stopped us at any time. If you say that Paolo suborned the system and kidnapped us, then you’re giving him exactly the kind of authority and skill that you’re trying to deny him having.” DaneelAH grinned, adding, “You can’t have it both ways. Either Turin is in collusion with this Paolo or Paolo’s smarter than Turin and has kidnapped us for his own nefarious purposes. In which case, we are exactly what MishAH proposed – being directed by Paolo to someplace to do something.” He nodded in MishAH’s direction. “We seem to be on a predetermined path – no matter how random our stops seem to have been.”
“Cydonia. This trail we’ve been on obviously terminates in the Cydonian Basin,” she said.
HanAH rolled his eyes, “No doubt at the Face On Mars?”
Abruptly, the marsbug jerked and started to roll forward again.Image: http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/images/d/d7/Young_Bolian_waiter.jpg