March 17, 2016

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 79: Stepan of Burroughs, On the Rim 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.

The older man who had stopped the theft lifted his chin, “Let ‘em go. Maybe they’ll do some good. Come on.” The older man started walking. With a dark look at Stepan and Quinn, the younger man followed. From long experience, Stepan marked the face in his memory. He would see the man again; minus his older but external conscience.

Quinn’s eyes were wide when he looked up at Stepan and whispered, “How’d you do that?”

Stepan shrugged and said, “We have lots of work to do. Let’s go.” Together, they headed for the warehouse.

“No, really! I want to know! Them two’as as good as ready to stab us and take the thing and you talked ‘em down! How’d you do that?”

Stepan shook his head. QuinnAH tugged on his sleeve and Stepan snorted, “Fine then. You’re not going to like it though.”

“Try me!” said Quinn as he bounced around on the tips of his toes until he stood in front of Stepan.

Stepan shook his head then said, “Prayer.” He stepped to one side and kept on for the warehouse. He was anxious to get started. Besides, he wanted to get inside before his zealous new friend managed to inform the entire Rim that Stepan the crazy, religious whackjob had once been the world-famous “Natan Wallach, Hero of the Faith Wars!” The last thing he wanted to was to drag his father back into his life. That part of him had just been confirmed amputated. He no longer had an martian father; he merely had a Heavenly Father. He’d have to confess…

Quinn was beside him again and just before they walked into the warehouse, he stepped in front of Stepan and said, “I didn’t see you prayin’ right then.”

Stepan shook his head, “Of course not. I keep prayed up for times like that.” He stepped past the youngster, whose face was dumbfounded and frozen. He sighed and stopped at the door, leaning the antigrav disk against the wall and pushing the door open.

He turned to pick up the heavy contraption, but Quinn was already holding it. He didn’t move as he said, “OK, then, if this God you believe in can save you from getting’ murdered by a couple a thugs, then I pretty much think it would be a good deal.”

Stepan shook his head. “Being a servant of God doesn’t just mean I get out of betting beat up! If means I have to serve my God. I become his slave!”

Quinn shrugged. “Maybe big deal for one of you…” he used an extremely crude street slang word for those who had been born like millions of years of Humans. Stepan felt his eyes bug, but his young charge – dare he say convert? – kept speaking. “…but I was made to serve. I been slave to six and a ‘scaped from all of them. I could be a slave to someone who actually cares enough about me to keep me from gettin’ killed. Even if it was once, it’d be worth the deal.” He walked past Stepan, adding, “Let’s get the roof goin’. I think we can grow plants up there and then sell ‘em to buy some more equipment…I think we can get…”

Stepan stared after the young blue boy, then shaking his head, he followed, closing the door behind him. He hurried after Quinn, and said, “Who would do the selling?”

“Me, o’ course.”

“You? Who would trust you?”

“Trust me more than they’d trust you, Mister Man!” The headed deeper into the warehouse until they reached the wall below the hole in the distant roof. Stepan sighed.

Quinn said, “I bet this is where your prayer gets answered and I go op on the disk first, huh?”


“What?” the boy exclaimed.

Stepan slapped him on the back, took the disk, and said, “Just kidding, kid. Besides, it’s tuned to me. I’ll go up then drop you a rope.” He looked up, said a brief, silent prayer, then activated the antigrav disk.

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