CH. 07 «Never Terraformed»

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With the end of the Martian-Terran War Io was forced to give up the last of its colonies on Luna to the rule of Earth. The white satellite world had long been linked to space lines of the UTE and progressive colonization by its growing population brought ad-hoc terraforming into an infrastructure that could support the atmostphere of the Moon. The Outward Expansion movement had taken off; powered by the spirit of Earth’s daring pioneers and their Earthling Dream. The annexation of Luna’s last territories by laser-armed acquirement was seen as a great achievement by some within a nation growing a sense if industrial imperialism. This competitive capitalist machine had been driven by its people to conquer an entire world beyond their own and it brought home prosperity by the starship. Self-Manifested Destiny.

The treaty that ended the unnecessary war also granted to Earth all the territories of Mars’ Northern Hemisphere. The deed included the highly exalted territory of Amazonia, renowned for its broad golden coastline and remarkable weather year-round. All of new land was deemed a great financial opportunity to the growing Earthling nation but it would be a little more difficult to incentivize its people to pack their bags for Mars. The red world had poor air and was too windy and sun beaten; the weak magnetosphere struggled to hang on to the shreds of atmosphere that remained enshrouding the dead desert planet.

After all, the small civilization of Ionians that lived there rarely even tread upon the surface of Mars. Instead the colonists and missionaries learned to intermingle with the native Martian society and intertwine their civilization inhabiting the ancient subterranean tunnel systems they used. Of course, by intermingle I mean dominate and destroy through interbreeding…and by intertwine I mean steamroll, exploit and flood with images of their god.

The first step to turning any planet into a habitable one is to remove the existing inhabitants. Either that means you exile them from their ancestral lands, cordoning them off into smaller and smaller reservations; or you could just eradicate them entirely. The Insta-Terraforming Kit usually includes plenty of Lasers, Germs and Plastics to help aid the pale human in clearing out those pesky natives. Any extant remnants will usually be taken care of with a little alcohol. I know, pretty grim way of looking at it… but take a nano to think about the way the ground you own now was first taken away from somebody else.

The second step is to bring the space lines in. Linking Mars to the existing transit and freight systems of Earth was an arduous feat, but the completion of the Trans-Planetary Line brought our red sibling within reach of the common Earthling. Boomtowns sprouted up around every major stop and gave harbor to the workers needed to labor on the land. Their dream-driven hands built the electric grids, irrigation systems and atmosphere generators that support us today. And without the explosion of industrial agriculture the plains would never have been seeded with the oxygen bearing crops that would give the settlers sustenance.

The final step is to then populate your freshly prepared planet. It seems like the most effective way of doing this is to spread rumors of precious minerals and the people will bring themselves. Thus arose the Martian Gold Rush of 2149; prompting a mass-migration of exodus proportions. Earthling families loaded up the caravans and set a course towards unknown adventures and untold fortunes outwards. Whether this great act of faith was precipitated by a genuine gift from the heavens, or a good story fabricated to exploit the Earthling Dream; the Martian Dream was born. Its call to come outwards could be heard by any who felt its divine entitlement.

For the record: I never believed Mars completed terraforming before everyone Headed Outwards. I still maintain the opinion that this desolate rock is as dead as our Earth will soon be. No matter how much we’ve tried to transform the face of this planet, we can only make it appear like home. It’s just a front. At its core, the planet is cold and silent. Mars could never support life the way Earth can, and anything that tries to convince you otherwise is part of a masterfully crafted illusion. Novus Angelicas is in the business of suspending our disbelief.

Mars isn’t just like it looks in the movis. The air quality is the worst in Sol, with a majority of the non-urban population sequestered within their life-supporting home biospheres. Those in the cities are privilege to the highest levels of smog and exhaust fumes found in the Union. The green patches that Martians call lawns wouldn’t last without constantly irrigating sprinklers and/or chemical enhancement. But all the palm trees, coastal scrub and xeriscaping just make up the meager façade this place puts on in visage of fertility. Not to say I haven’t seen impressive displays from succulents and cacti, but that’s only in over-watered neighborhoods where every unit on the hill runs on a timer set to go off at least twice a day. Meanwhile, there’s an ever-present water shortage concern world-wide.

I’ve lived a year and a half here on a street just across from the abandoned sector of the city; a windswept borough encroached upon by ruddy sand a foot deep in some places. The fact that there is an abandoned sector is a sign I probably shouldn’t live in this town. Gork—who even thought to arrange their home adjacent to the desert? I know Mars should feel a little unusual to an Earthling but it seems downright unnatural to me. Like being surrounded by all the blasted Squamata! Its not easy to remind myself thats just the way life evolved on this planet. Instead of birds in the sky, they’re reptiles. It isn’t rodents or raccoons getting into the garbage at night; they’re reptiles. The wild dark isn’t filled with lions and tigers and bears; its’ reptiles and reptiles and reptiles.

Maybe what’s strange is the notion that other civilized worlds wiped out the beasts that threatened them at night. History is ripe with stories of our noble ancestors slaying the last of the dragons and making their homes safe. Strange that the seemingly savage Old Martians wouldn’t have hunted down all the big bad lizards, but instead have honored them. How could they choose to co-exist with such cold-blooded creatures? The natural world is far too unpredictable to trust. Take if from Earth: its better to kill off what you can’t control if it puts your livelihood in jeopardy.

I try not to subscribe to the ethos of Earth. Though squamata might scare the slag out of me when I hear them slithering across the pavement at night, I rather like them. I’ve always wanted a pet squog…but I shouldn’t think about that right now. I can barely afford supporting myself and keep up rent in my slaggy apartment unit… which will probably be buried under crimson sand in a couple years. In the meantime I have to worry about uninhibited rays of the sun, the deviously diligent dust storms, the unsettlingly frequent tectonic activity, and Martian Motorists.

As if this planet wasn’t dangerous enough to live on.

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PREV: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

PREV: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

NEXT: CH. 08 «The Martian Motorist»

NEXT: CH. 08 «The Martian Motorist»


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