April 30, 2015

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 68: 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.

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!”

She snapped, “Don’t call me your Majesty!” then she grinned.

“Yes, Ma’am!” FardusAH snapped a salute this time.
Aster rolled her eyes to the ceiling then said, “Enough absurdity! I need you to be the voice of the common woman in Opportunity Dome.”

FardusAH’s face fell. She said, “I’m not a woman.”
“You are in my eyes,” Aster said, “Different, but not less Human. So, you’ll give me your honest response?”

FardusAH was familiar with Lady Aster’s viewpoints. They’d have gotten her killed just to speak them in some of the Domes. “You’re the Mayoral Consort – your wish is my command!” She grinned to take the sting out of the statement.

Aster understood, but even as a shadow passed over her face, she nodded firmly, “That’s all I can ask.” She led the way to an empty conference room. One window overlooked the Core, the other three held holographic, framed paintings. She sat and gestured to FardusAH. When they were both settled, she said, “I want do something that will undermine the status quo.”

FardusAH’s eyes glanced reflexively to the ceiling.

Aster nodded, “I know we’re being monitored, but I’m pretty sure that what I want to do with the Orphan’s Ball is not exactly on Security’s number-one shunt list.”

Her eyes widened. Not only were outsiders not supposed to the existence of the shunt confirmed –they lived in a sealed environment, surveillance was a given – but if they wondered about it, government staff were trained by the best Martian psychs with methods for diverting the conversation. Mars had a society that an ancient science fiction writer had predicted with uncanny accuracy – a transparent society. Of course, he’d been entirely wrong about aliens in outer space. Humans were alone as far as they knew. Probes had swooped through the Alpha Centauri binary system as well as Epsilon Eridani and soon GJ 674 would come into view of its probe – but no one had signaled them. In fact, despite the fact that the first two had worlds in the “goldilocks zone”, the Earth-sized planets were watery and devoid of life. The Dome was transparent in more parts of the EM spectrum than just the visible. “You’re probably right.” She could alert Security and they – probably vo’Maddux herself – would happily spy on the Consort. On the other hand, FardusAH couldn’t stand the Humanist prig. She folded her hands on the table gave the Consort her complete attention.

“The problem with the Orphan’s Ball is that it’s always excludes the people who have less power and low status – the people that orphans end up becoming. If the intent is to help the kids we all created, then shouldn’t we all be responsible to lift them up and help them meet the people they need to meet in order to grow up empowered?”

“But they aren’t even Human!” FardusAH exclaimed. “Some of the little freaks look like furless kangaroos!” She felt her face darken to black when she realized what she’d said. She leaned back in her chair.

Aster fixed her with a look, though it wasn’t judgmental. It was compassionate, patient, and even worse, faintly challenging. She rushed through all of the things she said and finally arrived at, “If Etaraxis lets you go, he should retire for a complete brain reboot.” Shaking her head, she added, “I can see exactly what you want to do.” Leaning forward, she fixed Aster with a gaze that could only be called voracious and said, “Where do I sign up?”

No comments: