2154/10/18 Sol Observer news and events feed
Red Blood, Red Sky
Written by David Altman. Editor and Chief Mars office of the Solar Observer News service, Utopia Dome, Musk City
Time has Changed my View of the Red Planet. Today As Editor and Chief of the Utopia Office of the Solar Observer News service, I have come to find the Harsh red sands that still find there way into the Domes as a comfort.
When I return to Earth I feel the compulsive need to carry a vial of that iron Impregnated sand in the breast pocket of my suit. Well my Colleagues Wear their dress shoes I find my comfort in the heavy Soled rough terrain Boots of my red planet home. When they complain about the cold, I find myself sweltering. I am no longer used to the weight of a full G. My now fifty year old frame having long ago become used to only tipping the scales at 35 kilograms. Today I proudly Call myself Martian... That was not always the case.
When My Editor on that Hot summer's day in 2130 Informed me that he was sending me to Mars, Like many I cursed my fate. I begged him to forgive whatever error I had made that doomed me to exile. When that Failed I searched any opportunity to Find a potential alternative employment.
I saw Mars as many did in those days, as some still do. A place Of Exile, A Punishment for the failed hopeless cases. The planet was rated in Earth polls as the last place anyone wanted to be in the Solar system.
Funny how people once dreamed of Colonizing the planet a mere century before. but by 2130 People only went there to work, Those born Martians were looked upon as unfortunates, The Children of those to poor to return to a nice retirement on Earth or one of the O'neill Cylinders. At the time The Solar system's Economy viewed Mars only as a Place of stopping off. A way station for Ore Cloud mining and Helium 3 Harvesting. As a destination to itself it was looked at as a dead end. This was long before the Rise of the Red Sky.
I Began my Journey at Spaceport America's Spacex Virgin Galactic Terminal waiting for my orbital Clipper. A much younger man in those days. I still had a full head of hair and hopes of a long life earth side. I was single, I was Handsome and I was ticked off. My Flight was delayed, My options had Run out and I was trying to trim a few more Milligrams from my single Carry on extra luggage cost a small kings ransom and the Company would not reimburse for it.
Eventually I was allowed aboard. I was strapped in snugly and began the first, Shortest and most physically demanding part of my trip.
For Three days, I was more or less strapped into my capsule a two meter by one meter by one meter chamber that contained my living accommodations for that Three day period. I ate in it I slept in it, I bathed in it. When I was not trapped in it I was floating in true microgravity. This brought me to the Solar Liner SS Arandora Star.
I would spend 9 months aboard that liner. Acclimatizing to the lower gravity with strolls in the centrifugal habitat modules. growing used to eating the synthetic protein compounds that are substituted for meat. I had much to learn about my new Homeworld and the way of life before me.
Touchdown was at Face Terminal in Cydonia. The First person I met at the orbital Elevator was a held the ominus title of Manhunter. I had never heard of such a thing. I would learn though that Manhunters worked for the Habs. They serve as Bill collector, Pawn broker, part time real estate office, Unemployment office, Bounty hunter.
Back on the Blue ( Mars term for Earth) we take breathing for granted. On Earth Air is everywhere in varying qualities. On Mars Air has to be supplied. The facilities that maintain the air supply are the Habitats or HABs, Every Adult pays a fee for the generation of Air, Water and power. There is a set rate based on a average human air consumption per day. Water and power are cheaper and and metered on a less strict manner. Children take up less air and there parents pay for them. A good job will cover the Air fee as part of the benefits a not so good job saddles the bill on the individual and on Mars everyone pays the bill. That is where the Manhunter comes in. If you miss a Air bill he shows and wants to know why?, a little short? he can make a loan, Not making enough? He can set you up with a smaller place to live in, No Job? He has a list of positions, Sometimes quality work sometimes the Jobs no one else wants. Try to hid from him and he will hunt you down. This is part of the Reason for Mars strict immigration policy. You get a Job on Mars before going to Mars unless you can afford the Air independently.
Manhunters don't have free reign though and they are not the Law on Mars. That is the Marshal service, Like Manhunters Marshals also wear many hats namely Judge, Jury and Executioner. on a Planet where the Air is payed for everyone has to have a job, and Prisons are a luxury that cannot be afforded. most crime is dealt with through fines and manual labor. but Rape and murder get the maximum sentence of the law, death or Exile from the Habitat which is really the same thing.
Martials operate in small numbers. In the habs, with no need to hunt, Conventional firearms don't exist save for Tasers as a practical item, a stray shot could breach a thin Hab skin. The only exception The Marshals shotgun. Like the Tin stars of an Old Western, Marshals are the first and only line of the law armed with a revolver and a shotgun.
Most are recruited Blue side failed Police cadets, retires from the military, Private eyes, Bail Bondsmen looking for work. Others are found on Mars having come to the planet with a law related history and lost their intended Job, Which happens from time to time and the Manhunters found him a job no one wants.
And it was one such case One such Marshal Whose story would become legend and set into the course a series of events leading to the Red Sky rebellion and change my view of Mars from last place in the universe to proud home world.