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, “This Paolo person knows exactly where we are. He could report us at any moment and our time here would be over.”
No one spoke for some time. Finally DaneelAH said, “But he hasn’t, so it’s probable that either we have something he wants – or he has something we’ll want.”
“What could we have that he wants?” HanAH said, shrugging irritably. He swung his arms hard, then grabbed his hands behind his back.
“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 this Paolo has the proof Mayor Turin has been after all these years, there’s no telling what the Mayor would do for our new master.”
“The only thing he could want is information. In that case all he would have to do is capture us and torture us to get what he wants from the Mayor,” said HanAH.
AzAH shook her head. “The information he’d be looking for would be too precise to extract it that way. It would need to be accurate – and untwisted by us. Torture is too likely to distort whatever information he’s looking for.”
“What could Mayor Turin want that he wasn’t able to get from us after he captured us?” said DaneelAH.
“Something we didn’t know then – and have learned since,” said MishAH. She locked gazes with DaneelAH.
“What are you staring at me? If there was data to be gathered covertly, it would be HanAH’s purview.”
All three vatmates turned to HanAH. He shrugged, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
MishAH squeezed her lips with her right thumb and forefinger, then said, “Not consciously at any rate.” She paused, “I think you possess a key piece of information in this whole puzzle. For some reason, we’re linked to this Paolo. We don’t know anything else about him except that he’s a Christian and is underground. We’ve never heard of him...”
DaneelAH held up a finger, silencing the group. “More or less true – but he’s connected with a network of underground Christians here and maybe other places.”
“How can you know that?” MishAH exclaimed.
“Because we’re here and no one appears to be the wiser. We haven’t been met by force – in fact, even though we’ve apparently be brought here specifically. In fact,” he turned slowly, “no one seems to be interested in us at all.” He gestured to the crowds streaming all around them, parting then reforming as if the matched set of vatmates was a rock set in a stream of intelligence.
HanAH crouched slightly. AzAH, DaneelAH, and MishAH smiled. “What?”
“You always crouch when you think someone’s watching you,” said MishAH.
“I do not!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, you do,” said AzAH and DaneelAH together. DaneelAH added, “But only when you’re around us. In your usual Mayoral capacity, you don’t hunch.” He paused, “Not so that anyone who doesn’t know you as well as we do would notice.”
“So, what’s making you hunch?” said MishAH.
A young blue boy appeared out of the crowd, looked up at DaneelAH and said, “You’re new here, aren’t you?