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.
There was only one person, Aster Theilen – better known as the Mayoral Consort – 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.
Dad answered the door after she touched it. “Aster! What brings you to the Underground?”
She smiled as she hugged her father. The door slid shut behind them and she moved away, no longer smiling, “That’s exactly what brings me, Dad. I need you to take me to the Underground.”
Her dad scowled. “Why would you need to do that?”
She paused, considered, then said, “I can’t tell you exactly why. I suppose I could tell you that the Mayor has a great new plan to raise up the downtrodden and set the captive free, but you’d know I was lying.” He snorted for emphasis and crossed his arms over his chest. “What I can tell you is that I have a plan to use the power I’ve been granted to make a difference in Opportunity.”
An eyebrow went up and he bowed her into his living room. He sat down on the couch and gestured for her to do the same. “So tell me about your plan.”
She did, leaning forward and swiping her hand through the air, concluding, “So, I need to have direct contact with orphans. I have a connection at Human Services and fostering children who can help with Human orphan. Few people on Mars – or Earth for that matter – consider Artificial Humans at all. When they’re separated from their employers…I hesitate to say ‘owners’, but it’s how they’re defined by Martian law…they have no one to advocate for them. So we’d like to connect some of the usual attendees at the Orphan’s Ball with some unusual orphans.”
Her dad leaned back and scratched his chin then said, “The idea is sound, but the kids down there…”
“How many are there?”
“No idea…” he began.
“You’re actually a bad liar, Dad.”
He sighed. “Under this city, there are over a hundred who appear to be under the age of sixteen,” he said. “Forty or so of those apparently look to be between five to ten years old.”
Eyes wide, Aster leaned back, then whispered, “There aren’t even half that many Human orphans.”
He nodded. “It’s a huge problem, and our Church does what it can…”
“What can they do?”
Her Dad snorted again. “Opportunity isn’t the only Dome on Mars – just because the Five hold political sway and virtually all of the financial clout doesn’t mean that they’re the only show in town.” He smiled with mock- innocence.
Aster scowled this time, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“So you really want me to clearly tell you that there are Stations and Bases all over the surface that don’t precisely hold with the pseudophilosophical drivel of the United Faith in Humanity?”
He shrugged. “I’m just pointing out that removing the divine from Human language and experience hasn’t removed evil from the picture – or from the surface of Mars or Earth. The use of Artificial Humans by Martian society without the commensurate acknowledgement of them as beings of worth in-and-0f themselves is a strong argument that the problem never has been with religion – but with the Human condition.” He sighed, “Besides, while I trust you, I have nothing but contempt and suspicion for your Chief of Dome Security, Hanam vo’Maddux. He could easily have had you followed – or have a transmitter sewn into your clothing.”
Her eye bugged out and for the first time since the Mayor had brought her to the Pylon was shaken to the core of her being. She also suddenly realized that she’d been shy of the power he’d granted her. Her voice dropped to a low, gutteral growl as she said, “She wouldn’t dare…”