July 8, 2016

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 84: Aster of Opportunity

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/pv5BzHM3TJ8/hqdefault.jpg 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  and I’m sorry, but a number of them got deleted from the blog – go to SCIENCE FICTION: Martian Holiday on the right and scroll to the bottom for the first story. If you’d like to read it from beginning to end (60,000+ words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

The Mayoral Consort, Aster Theilen smiled bleakly at FardusAH’s earlier response: “But they aren’t even Human! Some of the little freaks look like furless kangaroos!” She’d had the grace to blush black when she realized what she’d said. But FardusAH, with her network of assistants to all of the other Mayors of Mars, would be her most powerful ally.

In vo’Maddux’s mind, as was always the case with the Mayor’s head of Security, Aster should have been ensconced in the Pylon, starting party plans that would be little different – and have as negligible an effect – as her the ones her predecessors had made.  

Instead, Aster headed down to her Dad’s. Her father was very familiar with the proletariat, the person-on-the-street; those who had been called “blue-collar” workers back on Earth in the middle of its Twentieth Century. Those were the men and women who listened to her dad; who attended his secret Christian churches – and who quite literally kept Opportunity Dome from falling apart. She needed to let him know that what she planned wasn’t “a stunt” by the Mayor’s Office.

She needed to form a new union of Martians, is what she needed to do. The elite – which she realized uncomfortably – now included herself. She’d spent her first two decades as an adult doing secretarial work. On Mars. She sighed. Who’d have thought that Humanity’s first extraterrestrial colonies would be just as mired in bureaucratic red tape as the colonies had been when the term was first coined? Her own life had been focused on survival and living her “own”, unquestioned style. “More questions,” she muttered to herself as she headed for the lift shafts. She didn’t want to waste any more time walking the thirty floors down to where Dad lived.

“On the other hand,” she paused. Following the spiral down would take her from the wealth of the upper levels to the lowest levels where the poorest birth Humans lived. She’d only heard rumors that artificial Humans lived under the city, in the maintenance tunnels and sewers. It wasn’t much different from the way the poor had lived in the supposed White Age of North American civilization when people whose skin was the wrong color were ostracized and forced to live in separate neighborhoods so that their appearance was hidden from whatever color the dominant wealth was.

She set off, looking carefully for the first time in a long time. While each level had been constructed from a master plan and was identical to the one above it, differences had crept in. Near the surface, forty units might have had the walls removed and the resulting space was occupied by one person or a small family. At the bottom, the same forty units had been divided four times – and held nearly two hundred people. The corridors gradually filled with the equipment, detritus, and signs of crowding the farther down she went.

Dad lived ten levels up from Zero; comfortably. He had a large unit to himself. He’d moved down from Fourteen when she moved into the Mayor’s Suite on the Pylon. Level One Oh One was actually two levels below the surface of Mars. One Oh Three was directly under the surface and was primarily water storage – to protect against surface radiation and micrometeorite strikes – warehouses, and heavy manufacturing. One Oh Two was light industrial and research labs as well as the University of Mars, Opportunity Campus. The Pylon itself passed through the Dome, a kilometer into the thin Martian atmosphere. She’d stood at the huge picture window for hours at a time when she first moved there.

“Now I’ve gotten used to it.” To wealth. Privilege.

By the time she reached Dad’s level, she was thinking about going Deeper; the biggest question though was how to reach the lowest levels. How could she even see where artificials lived? Pursing her lips, she went to the railing and looked over the edge. While she was only fourteen levels up from the bottom, the light farther below seemed to dim until she wasn’t sure she was even seeing the very bottom of the shaft.

There was only one person she knew who might actually be able to tell her how to reach the sublevels, but she doubted FardusAH would be willing to guide her. After a bit more thought, she smiled. Dad once said the Christian church had spread most deeply among oppressed peoples. She wondered…then set off, at her best stride, one guaranteed to leave friends behind and get her where she needed to go as quickly as possible.
Image: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/pv5BzHM3TJ8/hqdefault.jpg

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