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 Theil, former general secretary and assistant for the City of Opportunity, now Consort of the Mayor-for-Life, Etaraxis Ginunga-Gap, said, “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. FarduAH rushed through all of the things she might say to excuse herself and finally arrived at, “If Etaraxis lets you go – or worse – 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?”
Aster leaned back a bit. The intensity of FardusAH’s response wasn’t what she’d expected. “What do you think I’m planning?”
FardusAH cleared her throat, leaned back and said, “Sorry about that.” She paused, made a face then said, “You’re planning to force a paradigm shift onto this whole sorry society we have here on Mars.”
Aster sat back, unconsciously mirroring FardusAH’s pose. Finally she said, “You’re right, of course. If we invite the orphans themselves to the gala, then they become the focus rather than the benevolence of the givers.” She recalled a scene from an ancient movie her father had watched over and over again. In it, the main character had said something similar: “If...he…really wants to help...why doesn't he give the money per plate to the inner-city schools and eat a little bit lighter that night..?” She could accomplish both goals at the same time.
FardusAH was nodding. “That would mean we need to get the press involved as well as the foster families.”
Aster nodded slowly, “Most of the foster families live out in Last Ring, don’t they?”
“Ouch. I see your point…”
Aster grinned and said, “No, I don’t think you do.” FardusAH caught Aster’s gaze, held it, then grinned in response. Finally she said, “Oh, my.”
“Exactly. We’re going to mix classes; mix orphans and natural-borns; rich and poor; management and service...” They laughed abruptly together, neither one of them noticing the small man. His name was Shafter, and his eyes grew wide as he ducked back into the office. He’d just delivered a pile of encrypted, “Physical Transfer Only” chips to the Mayor’s desk – FardusAH had nodded him in with her typical, haughty demeanor – and he was on his way out when he heard the Consort and FardusAH talking. He loathed the Artificial Human – she acted like she was better than him! He was Human – he lived on the Rim, true, but that was just a matter of geography! He deserved better than some blue b...He listened, eyes growing wider until he couldn’t listen any more. He knew exactly where he had to go and exactly who he had to see. He straightened, tugged down the shirt of the penguin suit the Mayor insisted he wear and strode out past the woman and the inti. He also knew what the Mayor would do if he spoke the crude epithet out loud, but it was true! It was even a scientific word – it just meant the filthy inti had had all their introns removed – the non-coding sections of their Human DNA and were way less than pure Human. They couldn’t even reproduce without real Humans doing the hard work!
He’d just go see how much this little bit of intel would buy him at the source with Security Director vo’Maddux!