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).
MishAH said, “The tunnels are definitely older than most of the settlements of Mars. But they aren’t older than the original missions. The way this is phrased makes it clear that someone on Mars knew about these deep tunnels. It’s not clear if Humans 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 they want us here ?” 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.”
HanAH grunted then said, “Fine. We’re at the beck and call of Naturals again.”
“What do you mean, ‘again’?” AzAH said. “We were made to be at their beck and call. We’ve never been free, brother. What do you mean?”
He brushed her comment away. “You know what I…”
“No, dear vat brother, I don’t think I’ll let you off the hook this time. You said what you said for a reason. You’re in security – and I’m pretty sure you neither say nor do anything without reason. So, you spoke your mind and in this case I think you slipped. I’m the language expert. I also listen to tonality and annunciation as well as note body language and tribe position.” She paused to let him speak. He scowled darkly instead. She smiled sunnily. “You’ve maintained a superior position in relation to the three of us since our arrival. Your tone of voice implies that you know something we do not and your annunciation is unusually concise, so you’re thinking carefully about each word. Either you are doing this subconsciously or with intent. I’d love to think you don’t know what you’re doing, but that would be uncharacteristically sloppy of you.” She smiled again, then added with a perfectly straight face, “So, it would be best if you spoke the truth now.” She glanced at DaneelAH, “Or I’ll ask dear brother Daneel to speak the secret word in your ear.”
HanAH stared at her. He opened his mouth then shut it slowly. He pursed his lips then bowed deeply to her, his hand sweeping back. DaneelAH caught his wrist and disarmed him before HanAH could do more than twitch his fingers on the grip trigger. His older brother pocketed the weapon. He began to straighten up. MishAH, a mercenary-trained combat specialist from long ago swept his feet out from under him and had the wedge of her fingers pressed against the soft spot under his jaw and above his larynx before he could do more than cough. She also smiled, leaned forward, kissed his cheek, and subvocalized, “I think we’ve convinced them. They aren’t watching anymore.”
He let out a strangled cough, squirmed out from under her, kicked his feet over his head, knees touching his ears, and popped to his feet – a kip up. He pulled his tunic down where it had run up over his ring-shaped navel. “I didn’t think they were.” He sighed. “We’ve been unmonitored since we got aboard the marsbug back home. Something this Paolo did to the ‘bug rewrote the security protocols in the artificial nerve nets. No one has known where we are for some time.” He tugged his tunic down again.
MishAH nodded. “The pattern of this Paolo person’s maneuverings is clear. He’s freed us from the Mayor – who doesn’t know it yet, apparently and while he hasn’t made any formal claim, we are under his authority by dint of the fact that he knows exactly where we are. He could report us at any moment and our time here would be over.”
“But he hasn’t, so it’s probable that either we have something he wants – or he has something we’ll want.” DaneelAH said.
“What could we have that he wants?” HanAH said. Irritation written on his blue face was clear.
“We might not have anything he wants. But he may want to give something to us. Something that would bring Mayor Turin over to his side or induce the Mayor to…to…” said AzAH.
“Do something for him,” said MishAH. “Do something like send him on a mission to get the rest of the proof. The…bones, perhaps? Or artifacts?”
DaneelAH pursed his lips then said softly – as softly as he could over the low-pitched roar of the Dome’s mall, “Maybe both. If he has the proof Mayor Turin has been after all these years, there’s no telling what the Mayor would do for our new master.”