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).
“You always crouch when you think someone’s watching you,” said MishAH.
“I do not!” HanAH 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?
For a moment, none of them spoke. Finally HanAH lifted his chin and said, “Shows what you know.” He looked down at the boy and said, “We are. Who are you?”
“A resident. Long time.”
“You’re an inti just like us…”
“I’m not just like you. I work for someone who doesn’t consider me a slave.”
MishAH scowled, “No one but a natural born can do that – but there are forms in fifteen different files required to be completed before the manumission process can even begin.”
The boy waved her away. “I live on the Rim. No one cares about ework there. I work with my…” he used the extremely vulgar term for natural born Humans.
MishAH slapped him in the face and he staggered backward, right into AzAH’s bone-crushing grip. She might be a linguist, but she’d also been the Mixed Martial Arts champion four years running in Malacandra. She squeezed his neck and leaned forward, whispering, “We respect Humans of all kinds in our little group.”
The boy managed to tap out as he rasped, “OK! OK! I got it.”
She released him into HanAH’s tender embrace – a solid grip on the boy’s upper arm. “Are you an agent of Paolo Marcillon?”
“Paolo – an underground Christian agitator who’s wanted for sedition and terrorism.”
“No! I ain’t heard a no Polo! I work with the Rim Preacher!”
DaneelAH stepped up, gesturing HanAH to release the boy. Squatting down, he took the boy by both shoulders and said, “Your master…former master!” he said when the boy’s shoulders tensed. He loosened his grip. “Your former master is a Christian?”
The boy twisted free and DaneelAH let him go. HanAH and MishAH were close by. The boy glanced at them then shook his torso. “I guess, ‘cept I don’t know what that means. Zactly.”
"What's your friend's name?" DaneelAH asked.
"Stepan." He scowled at them and when no one moved, he added, "He's got an old warehouse on the Rim he gonna cover with dirt and grow plants and stuff to help feed us."
"You said he was a Christian. How would you know that?"
The boy shrugged. "He said something about it."
"Doesn't he know that being a Christian is illegal on Mars?"
The boy shrugged again, "Lotsa stuff's illegal that people do. Like experiment on our kind." He looked up significantly at MishAH and AzAH. They both twitched.
"Not every natural born is bad," DaneelAH muttered.
"Yeah. Stepan ain't. He's just sorta like a babe out where I live. But he do have connections in the HOD."
"The HOD?" HanAH said.
"Yeah -- Home Owner's District. We were there 'cause he had to meet with some old guy." He shrugged. "That was weird. They chased him out 'cause he wasn't someone they expected him to be."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"When we were there, they kept calling him Natan Wallach."
The vat mates looked to each other, then down at the boy, stunned. DaneelAH finally managed, "Can you take us to him?"