February 9, 2017

MARTIAN HOLIDAY 96: 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.

Aster Theilen, current Consort of the Mayor of Opportunity, Mayor-for-Life, Etaraxis Ginunga-Gap 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,” said her father, Abedne Halle-Theilen. They reached the last light in the tunnel. Illumination spilled through an arch from a huge room. As they passed through, they stopped under a ceiling so high, it disappeared into inky darkness. Small, rubber wheeled cars, standing alone or hitched together in trains of two to ten, had been neatly parked, backed into charging units.

In the harsh light, Aster saw dark blue artificial humans on the seats, sometimes cramming six or seven into a single car. They were utterly silent. Her father began, “Be…”

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

He closed his mouth and nodded slowly as Aster stepped farther into the circle of carts, crossed it and stood in front of the one on the other side. She bowed to the four Artificial Humans seated before her. They stared at her, neither hostile nor accepting. Their faces betrayed nothing. Though they looked to be in their early twenties, they could be anywhere from fresh out of the vats, to real-time early twenties. Some of the “vat-grown” were created to be life-time companions, servants, and nannies for those who could afford to have them grown. Most had a design lifespan of two decades, though she’d heard that some were granted a span of however many years they could manage to live with the understanding that if they no longer served their purpose, they could be disposed of or simply terminated.

“There’s an entire underground industry that sells reusable intis,” he used the vulgar slang, “or ay-aychs, if you prefer.” He fixed her with a long look, adding, “Seeing you’re in elevated company now, perhaps I should just say, Artificial Humans.”

Aster scowled, “Dad? What’s going on?”

He shook his head sadly, “Nothing. That’s what worries me. I thought you’d be able to make changes in Opportunity; maybe help the Christian community – and the Muslims, Hindu, Jews, and Buddhists maybe even the ay-aychs.” He sighed. “I had very high hopes for you.”

She shook her head, pursed her lips, then said, “I haven’t told you everything, Father.”

“What do you mean?”

She shook her head. “I can’t tell you what’s going on in the Pylon. I don’t want to tell you what’s going on there.”

“Why can’t…”

She held up her hand. “Because it would place you in all kinds of danger. I am doing exactly what you hoped I would do, but it’s not going to happen fast. There’s a tremendous amount of groundwork we need to lay before anything important can happen – and I’m doing what I can until then.” She gestured to the blue faces regarding her solemnly. “They are why I came here with you. I know how much you’ve invested in their lives. Now I need for them to do something for me – I am making a request of them, and of you, Dad, as the Consort of Mayor-for-Life, Etaraxis Ginunga-Gap.”

He looked startled then stepped back, sweeping a bow to her. “Then speak, your highness.”

“You’re teasing, but in my place, what I am about to say has the effect of law. It can only be withdrawn or contradicted by my husband, the Mayor of Opportunity.”

“You’re kidding…”

“Not at all, Dad. Members of the Artificial Human community, oppressed by those of us who are natural-born, I request and require,” she turned slowly meeting the eyes of every Artificial Human she could see, then said, “that you no longer take your orders from my father. You take orders only from me – or a duly appointed mouthpiece of mine, who will only act when he or she presents a sigil representing my Voice.” She looked at her dad and said, “Sorry. It’s necessary for the plan.” She spoke loudly, “Please signify your understanding and acceptance of my request and requisition by raising your right hand.” A moment later every hand was raised, every face solemn. She turned to her father and said, “Sorry, Daddy. You’ve been voted out.”

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