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. They are HanAH, the security expert (m); DaneelAH, xenoarchaeologist (m); AzAH, language expert (f); MishAH, pattern recognition (f).
AzAH smiled faintly, crossed her arms over her chest. “What could the Mayor of Burroughs possibly want from the Southern Wastes?”
HanAH said, “The whole planet is a waste – what would the Mayor of one the Five Domes of Mars, possibly want with…”
“He would want evidence that there was alien life on Mars at one time,” DaneelAH said.
HanAH snorted, “What kind of evidence of alien life did Mayor Turin have?”
“Sorry to interrupt the dash into science fiction, people,” MishAH said, “but we’ve got patterning evidence of unusual branching, subsurface markings.”
“What?” said HanAH.
“Tunnels,” said DaneelAH.
“Tunnels where?” said AzAH.
DaneelAH took out his t-comp, his tablet computer then said, “Under Burroughs.”
HanAH snorted, “Of course there are tunnels! There are service areas under…”
“Not just service tunnels. Compared to the other Domes, the tunneling under this crater is more than ten times as dense.”
MishAH scowled, snatched DaneelAH’s comp from him and hunched over it, tapping, swiping, then holding it up to project a holographic image nearly as wide as he was tall. He suspended it then stepped back, his hand going to his hairless blue chin, forefinger and thumb stroking them.
AzAH leaned to DaneelAH and said, “I love it when he slips into his Sherlock Holmes persona.”
HanAH said, “I hate it – he thinks he’s so smart. I’m the security expert – and I’ve even read the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and books. Even the pastiches. They’re garbage, really. Seems like if the Domes are going to ban books, they should have started with those stories rather than religious texts. It’s not like I don’t know…”
MishAH cut him off, saying, “Yes, brother. You’re the expert. But sometimes someone looking at the same data with eyes untainted by the paradigms of your profession can see things you can’t.”
He reached into the hologram with his fingers pinched, then spread them. “See here?” They all looked closely.
“What are we looking for?”
“There are tunnels below the tunnels, other connecting them. There are also shadows beneath the ones that are mapped that indicate there may be a layer of chambers below these.”
“How old are they?” asked AzAH.
“Hard to say.” He fiddled with the images some more, then pulled up a side screen. “These say that the initial tunnels were laid down about four hundred years ago.”
HanAH, DaneelAH, and AzAH turned to stare at the image. HanAH said, “You’re telling me that they’re older than the Bradbury? Older than Human civilization on Mars?”
MishAH held up a finger, though didn’t take his eyes from the document now floating in front of him. “The tunnels are definitely older than most of the settlements of Mars. But they aren’t older than the original missions. At the end of the 21st Century, there were Humans here…”
“True, but those were just science stations and experimental weather and concept testing sites! There were no real colonies back then!”
“That’s what we’ve been told, but I’m reading an old government document.” He cleared the map and enlarged the document. The way this is phrased makes it clear that someone – likely a whole bunch of someones! – on Mars knew about these tunnels. It’s not clear if we made them or not, but we know about them.”
DaneelAH pursed his lips then said, “Then that makes it even more important that we connect with this Paolo and the Hero of the Faith Wars. I think they must be working together.”
“Why do that want us?” AzAH said. MishAH, HanAH, and DaneelAH turned to her.
DaneelAH said, “When we find that out, they we’ll know where we’re going and why.”