December 8, 2016

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 92: 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 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 (70,000+ words as of now), drop me a line and I’ll send you the unedited version.

Abedne Halle-Theilen sighed, “Besides, while I trust you, I have nothing but contempt and suspicion for your Chief of Dome Security, Hanam vo’Maddux. She could easily have had you followed – or have a transmitter sewn into your clothing.”

Aster Theilen, his daughter and current Consort of the Mayor of Opportunity, Mayor-for-Life, Etaraxis Ginunga-Gap’s eye bugged out and for the first time since the Mayor had brought her to the Pylon, where she 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, guttural growl as she said, “She wouldn’t dare…”

“I wouldn’t expect her to hesitate at all. She’s got her own plans.”

“She’s the Chief of Dome Security, Dad. She has a job to do.”

He shrugged, “I’ve no doubt she does her job very well, but who gives the orders?”

“The Mayor, of course.”

He nodded then said, “I hope so, Aster.” He sighed, “All right, daughter. I can take you Under and introduce you to the other orphans in Opportunity.” He stood and went to a closet and pulled out a coat made from multiple-colored squares of cloth.

“Why are you getting that? Isn’t the Underground part of the Dome?”

He studied her for a moment as he tied a wide belt then said, “The Dome doesn’t waste resources on what no one will ever see.”

Aster bit off an angry retort, took a deep breath and said, “Well. They won’t be blind to it much longer.” She looked around his apartment, grabbed a thin blanket off the couch and said, “Let’s go.” He nodded and led them out of the apartment and toward the end of the corridor. Once they were there, he turned another corner that dead-ended. He put both hands on the wall cap and pushed. Nothing happened at first, then the wall pivoted on a center hinge and swung to one side. He jerked his chin and slipped between the hinge and wall. He paused after she stopped beside him and tapped the door so it swung shut. “How long have you been doing this?”

“Better if you didn’t know details. Just stay close. This part of the Dome’s a little…different than what you’re used to.”

For a moment, she didn’t know whether to be intrigued or hurt. “You raised me here, Dad. My time in the Pylon hasn’t been enough to hide my birthmark under bits of plastic surgery.”

He shot a look over his shoulder at her, nodded and said, “Glad to hear it.” Continuing in silence, they headed deeper into a corridor that gradually darkened as light fixtured first dimmed, then remained dark. After she was breathing heavily, Abedne stopped.

Aster said, “When will we reach the orphan’s quarters?”

“They don’t have quarters, dear; and they’ve been with us most of the time we’ve been down here.” They reached the last light in the tunnel and its illumination spilled out of an arch and into a huge room, high ceiling disappearing in inky darkness. Small, rubber wheeled cars, standing alone or hitched together in trains of two to ten, stood parked, backed into charging units. Dark blue artificial humans sat on the seats, sometimes cramming six or seven into a single car. They were utterly silent. He began, “Be…”

Aster cut him off, “No drama, Dad. This is the saddest day of my life. Let it be for now.”

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