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»

CH. 06 «Letting Go»

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I had to let go.

Their little beating hearts were clutched firmly to my chest, but I knew I had to let them go eventually. The sooner the better too, no use in prolonging the inevitable. I spoke to them like a mother to her infant, as they were the closest to a child I’d ever had. They were our children, and I gave them the best advice I could; cautioned them to stay out of the hot sun and away from the creatures of the night, and if they ever got in trouble just to run, run as fast as their furry little legs could carry them. I told Ginger to take care of his sister and I set them down on the path alone.

They were our babies and I let them go by myself. She was supposed to come here to see them off, she was supposed to meet me on this trail at sunset. She… had better things to do it seemed. It wasn’t even my idea to release them into the wild, she suggested it, and still she couldn’t follow through. I never wanted them in the first place, but like so many weak things I’d conceded to in the past, I’d done it to make her happy. And I had eventually grown to love them.


On our breaks at work we’d gone to the pet store to hold the puppies and caress the cats, and she’d always wanted a cuddly creature of her own. I’d never found the ability to justify getting an expensive, smelly, little critter, knowing I’d have to pick up the slack and clean up after it when she was done squeezing them. I finally reasoned to get her a rabbit, they were only є30 as opposed to the kittens we saw marked at є1000. I know we could have gone to a shelter to get a cat for much cheaper, but it wouldn’t be the same to her–animals are only cute when they’re babies. She found out that I was getting her a rabbit, tricked it out of me a week before I was going to make the purchase, so I had to up the ante. I’ve always been a performer, always loved to see that shock on people’s faces, and knew as appreciative of a bunny she was, she’d have known it was coming; so I bought her two. With the help of her sister I acquired them, along with a cage and some food, and snuck them into my apartment. I wish I had done more research though, known what I was getting myself into. But there wasn’t time, Christmas was upon us after all.

I had parked my crawler at the end of her parents’ street and began to walk with them in my old back pack, a quarter of a mile along the aptly named Skyline Drive. The sun had just gone down and already the cities and suburbs in sight that stretched as far as Novus Angelicas were ablaze in their nightly passion. I crossed the street to a gravel path, the portal was luckily still open though this trail closed at nightfall. It was a nature preserve for fire sage scrub, wild squamata and snakes. In spite of the latter, I’d reasoned it a relatively safe location for the oversized rodents; there haven’t been any squoyotes here in decades, right? Just a couple of paces up the path, by a sign denoting the sanctity of the location, I set my back pack down and unzipped it, taking a rabbit in each hand and holding them to my chest.

It made sense why I had to do this: I brought them to her in the first place, I had cared for them for the past several weeks on my own, I should be the one to see them off. They were getting neglected in her new party lifestyle, the smell was too intense for friends she invited over. It had been over a month since I’d released her from the burden of caring about something. I couldn’t blame her though, they were odoriferous creatures and unaffectionate, not even very pet-like. They were a prey species after all, they didn’t come when you called, only ran for cover when you reached for them, and they never liked to be held; not too unlike her.

I didn’t mind taking care of them though, they would let me hold them, for a little while at least, and it felt good to have a soft, warm heart beat next to mine, even if they would eventually claw and bite their way free as if to say “That’s enough love for today,” then return to their incessant munching. I didn’t even mind the smell, as long as I cleaned up their waste everyday, but its what the smell brought that eventually drove them out.

The persistant odor from the rabbit enclosure had attracted other creatures into the unit. Unwelcome scaly varmints that chewed a hole in the screen of the window and began gnawing another one into the molding around the back hatch of the unit. When my roommate, Pashan, and I began to spot signs of reptilian life left on the floor and counter tops, we knew it was time for change. I informed them that night that this was their notice of eviction as I embraced each of the squirming rabbits in turn.

They were uncharacteristically comfortable with me now though, both of them in my arms at once, as if they didn’t want me to let them go. I didn’t want to either, but we have to do what’s necessary. I set them down together on the edge of the trail and watched them inspect their new, low lit surroundings. They’d never been out like this before, only a little cage in a grassy back yard had prepared them for this experience, and even then we always gave them a bowl of food and water to sustain them. They stayed very close to each other, one always running to stand beside the other if they strayed too far; I took it as a good sign that they’d stick together. They didn’t seem to want to leave though, all they desired was to be locked up in their stinky cage and fed again. But I couldn’t take them back now. It would be too cruel to them, pretending that they were welcome in my home, though they most certainly were as far as I was concerned. And I couldn’t fool myself into thinking I’d ever scrounge up the credits to surrender them to a shelter, where they may even become more neglected than they were at their last home.

All I had to do was turn around and leave them, trust that instinct would overcome their poor domestic teachings and they’d be able to survive on their own, even for a little while. As I reached for my bag, Freddy made one last attempt to get back in it, struggling to get over the side and into the comfort of a confined space. I pushed her away, picked her up and set her in the other direction, into the a break in the scrub, and did the same with Ginger who had tried to follow. I set him down and immediately stood up, zipping my bag and turning away, the longer I lingered the more it would hurt us both in the end.

I turned my heart cold and lit a Martian Spirit as I began to walk away, wishing I could just smolder into nothing like the glowing orange end in front of me. I looked back over my shoulder and could only make out the black lump of my Freddy’s coat in the bushes, her shining eyes catching a last glint of light from the city far below, and then she was gone from sight. On the long walk back to the crawler I kept looking over my shoulder at every rustle the wind blew through the leaves, every snap or every scrape of gravel beneath my feet, wondering if they had followed me down the trail. I was glad they didn’t, comforted to think they’d never make their way down to the road. Better to be further away from any dangers. I hoped they would enjoy their new home. When I finally got to my crawler I lit another cigi and began the slowly burning, lonely journey back down the hill and home.

The first thing I did when I got there was take their wooden, urine soaked cage with all their dishes and bottles, and carried them to a large dumpster beside my row of units. Punctuating the evening I forced it up over the lip into the unknown. I returned inside, swept the remnants of feces and bedding out the hatch and washed my hands.
Letting go is easier when there’s nothing left to remind you of what you had.

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PREV: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

PREV: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

NEXT: CH. 07 «Never Terraformed»

NEXT: CH. 07 «Never Terraformed»

CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

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My Earthling father always said tattoos stamp you for others to plainly see what you are; scurvy spacefolk. An ancient cultural practice unheard of by Earth until sailors and soldiers stationed on Saturn began to come back with warships and hula girls embossed across their chests. Traditions of native tribes all across Sol have included inking important images on each other’s flesh for millions of years. Versus our narrow-minded world where its only ever been decorated servicemen and low-life criminals that choose to mark themselves. But there’s no need to for tattoos to be so taboo anymore. Since everyone got linked-up to the nets, the practice has become better understood as an important ritual and more widely accepted.

On Mars, the tattoo is a rite of adulthood, because…you can’t have one unless you’re an adult. Or have an ID that says you’re 18. Or received your parent’s permission to be tattooed because they’re cool enough to let their teenager get inked. Anyone whos’ sleeves are covered to the wrist are probably a musician or some kind of artist that doesn’t have to make a living off corporate jobs. On a planet where being rich and famous is more important than being a productive member of society, a person that transforms their body into a living canvas is held with high esteem by Martians.

If I want to blend in with the locals I’d better get some ink done, I decided to myself one evening. I’ve always wanted to have tattoos but never thought I could get one. Up until recently I thought my life would revolve around working as an actor. I realize now being an artist and an individual is what’s important to me and I felt compelled to portray something about myself on my body instead of keeping it blank for some potential casting. As someone interested in the symbols of ancient cultures I had plenty of ideas for what I’d want to depict first on my body. Its merely a coincidence Leucosia just told me she was going to get a tattoo on her wrist soon, she simply reminded me that I wanted to make an appointment at the Fender Tattoo parlor that next morning.

I strode in at sunrise with my sketchbook in hand, ready to consult with whomever would become my tattoo artist. An enormous Martian man with faded gray lines all over his skin and earlobes stretched out by giant plugs greeted me from behind the counter. Introducing himself as Big Jim and shaking my hand with a fat sweaty palm, he took the paperpad I’d brought with his other.

This giant led me through the shop, past another artist painstakingly etching a long helix into the spine of a poor girl laid face-down. Big Jim’s short-walled cubicle was hardly private. Definitely not the office you’d hope to find yourself meeting with the person about make a permanent change to your physical form. It might have been something to do with the grinding electric buzz of a lazer needle zapping away and sound of thrashing heavy metal music blasting over the speakers. Maybe it was just part of the song, but I swear I heard a tortured scream distantly shouting from an unseen dungeon. I felt nervous about what I’d walked into.

The huge Martian thumbed through my private sketchbook to the page I’d bookmarked, probably scrutinizing all my art along the way. I’ve learned to tune out peoples’ thought processes as they’re looking at my work, mostly to prevent me from biting my fingernails down. I glanced around at the pictures tacked up to the bulletin boards panels dividing us from the mutilation scene beside us. Most were images of trashy pin-up girls from various planets, possibly Jim’s favorite area of interest. Some studies of skulls on fire and nautical stars assured me this was the not the artist I’d seek for his particular style. I just needed someone who could transfer an image I’d drawn for myself to my skin. Permanently. Could I trust this Big Jim?

This the one you want here, chief?” he asked, turning the damp sketchbook back to me and pointing with thick finger at the image I had circled. I nodded. He looked at it again, wincing a little. “And why do you want a tattoo of this…this..” the name he looked for to describe the shape escaped him.
“It’s an ancient Neptunian symbol but I believe it holds signifigance to humans across all of Sol. It’s thought to mean eternal life…and I want it to represent the beginning of my new life,” I spoke until he seemed satisfied I’d done my homework. I think the tattoo artist was mostly looking for assurance that I had enough intention to get this permamark to have performed a Zillion search. I could have gone on; about how the symbol was originally an image of the goddess of our star system or even how it was shaped after a mushroom, which I thought held incredible importance to our evolution and heritage. I wasn’t sure if Big Jim was ready to have his little mind blown.

“Cosmo, man! That sounds astro as slag if you ask me. I can make a transfer of this directly out of the book onto your skin, no prob. Hardly take any prep. I’ll pencil you in for next week and give you a heads up if any sessions open up before then,” he offered as he handed back the soaked sketchbook. I accepted, and with a dripping handshake bid the Martian giant a good day as I went home to begin preparing mentally.

I didn’t have long to get ready. The call came a day later, Big Jim had a client drop out of one of his evening slots. I was hoping I’d have time to scrounge up a few more creds to give my artist a nice tip. It meant going light on lunch to save a fresh 20 card in order to show my appreciation. With nothing more than a hot dog sitting on my stomach, I headed to the tattoo parlor to endure my ordeal.

I had Big Jim set a digitally drawn trace of my tattoo upon my left wrist; the feminine side. He had me lay with my arm extended straight out. I felt all the tendons and veins in my wrist pulled taught in this position, like strings of an acoustic instrument drawn tight all the way to the heart. Then he went to work with the humming strum of a lazer inscriber on the tender flesh of my wrist. I began to feel incredibly uneasy about what was about to begin.

And then it was suddenly too late. I was beginning to panic that this decision couldn’t be undone, and I was going to have to live with the results of this hastily conceived art project for the rest of my life. I started to think about how I might be received if I went back to earth, and what my parents would say when they’d seen what I’d done. If imagining that didn’t get my heart racing hard, the painful stab of the tattoo gun repeatedly inscribing into my flesh was hard to ignore. Especially when Big Jim drew the line of his needle across any of the raised tendons of my wrist. It literally felt like someone plucking a string tied to my core. I didn’t feel good.

I was drenched in perspiration from the panic and the pain. I was felt nauseated, then light headed and faint, like I’d stood up too fast though I remained seated still. Jim must have noticed something, possibly all color evacuating from my face. He asked if I was feeling alright or if I need him to take a break. I shook my head and breathed a heavy sigh when the buzzing ceased. He inquired into my state of being, if I slept well or if I ate well enough. I shook my head again and listed the things I’d eaten today on one hand.

Big Jim ran next door to the bagel bakery to grab me a doughnut and some orange juice. I was only able to get one bite down. It, and whatever remained of my light lunch, came right back up. I felt awkward to be the guy retching loudly over the needles buzzing away all around him. I’d purged anything good I had left in my system and felt absolutely depleted. Jim gave me a hard slap on the shoulder. “Glad to see your still with us! When you went pale I didn’t actually expect you to get sick like that. Most people straight pass out! You’re fortunate, we could keep going if you’d like?” He was actually serious.

I don’t now how he thought I wasn’t done already, but he continued to blast away. I was completely drained of nutrients and shaky as a bug; still soaking in sweat, too. The cool desert wind of the Martian evening began blowing in the front hatchway of the joint when the sun went down. I was shivering as my artist proceeded to finish the outline. Jim was having difficulty keeping the target of his lazer on track with all of my involuntary movement. Using his utmost concentration to time lazer bursts between my convulsions, the big guy closed the loop and completed the outline of my first tattoo.

Sizzling fresh from a layer skin beneath the surface that now bore a bold black line; raised and red hot around the edges. I watched a wisp of smoke escape from the newborn goddess and thought this doesn’t hurt so much as far as fresh laser wounds go.

I clenched my teeth in anguish when Big Jim slapped my wrist with his gloved hand. “I think that’s all we can do for today, little man. It looks like you’ve had enough of this ordeal for one night. We’ll get you another appointment in the upcoming week and you just pay half for this session,” he politely offered. Whether he was going to make more money in the long run was no matter, this sounded good for my well being.

I nodded in agreement, accepted whatever time slot and new tattoo instructional care sheet the girl at the desk provided then slithered out the airlock with a bandage wrapped around my sore wrist whilst muttering to myself. I looked back at the tattoo parlor with distaste. They’re all surely laughing at me right now. Ventchutes! Big Jim will probably be made fun of for weeks because of me. Heavens blast the mother gorkers!

As I returned home I realized this may not have been the wisest decision of my life.

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PREV: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

PREV: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

NEXT: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

NEXT: CH. 06 «Letting Go»

CH. 04 «My Minifeed»



For the entire time I’ve shared the unit with my Jovian roommate we’ve complained about our occupations as wannabe net pirates. A wireless receiver—which can be found in practically anything from a texti or your imager to a soda can or a lotto ticket—will only keep you connected if you’re within radius of an access point. Most families can afford outfit their unit with a Home-Sphere; a wireless central hub that that integrates all the corresponding systems around your unit and in your pocket together in a local network.

Meager is the minimum wage compared to cost of life in OC and my roomie knew as well as I did it couldn’t win the battle over food and electricity; and why should we really? Our building was a conglomeration of tiny apartment units. We could easily find signal from various neighbors overlapping certain spaces in our home. The only problems you face with buccaneering some spheres are the measures people take to prevent hacking or leeching. You might think it simple since the obsolescence of the coaxial or the push away from fiber optics–you don’t have to splice your neighbors line anymore, rather you can just skim some bandwidth off remotely.

It’s not always as easy as I make it sound. Most people end up taking an unprotected signal versus tangle with password protection. Some people get too frustrated with a cramped jacuzzi they keep losing their place in, though. If you’re really willing to go the extra step and you can get through a password, be warned! You’ll likely be faced with a myriad of firewalls, hack traps, or even bots programmed to infect intruders’ systems with crippling computer viri. Some are particularly destructive strains, capable of mortally wounding key hardware components. I’m sure the Jovian, Pashan, is as unwilling as I am to seek such an encounter. Thus we came to a consensus and decided it was time to go legit and invest in our own access point.

I really shouldn‘t be trying to afford anything else though, what with being recently unemployed. I didn’t even save enough credits when I was working at the bookstore, barely making it out of there every Friday with my paycheck intact. There are so many unread hardcovers and trades just collecting dust in the living room, which is also probably coated by a thin layer of neglect. Clothbound novelties on all manner of subject from prehistoric art to goddess literature and studies of shamanic cultures throughout the solar system just aging. I suspect I could read a few pages instead taking 20 minutes just to check my mail with this weak signal. You don’t want to know how long it takes to get my whole minifeed.

Archaics and old fashioned families usually take in a full cast from the teli, but anyone who’s young or just synced-up and living on-the-go needs it in a more readily accessible, swallowable shape. Sometimes that means being delayed leaving the unit while I’m waiting for the condensed cast to trickle into my gadget. Then I can take my minifeed on the fly; though not giving the screen my undivided attention until I find myself at signal lights, straight-aways and the gridlock.

Sometimes it’s all I have to survive this murderous Martian traffic.

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PREV CHAPTER: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

PREV: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

NEXT: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

NEXT: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»



I stepped out of my unit into the belligerent wind. It was evening now and the clear, starry sky above looked more purple than black. Waiting a moment for the unruly breeze to die down, I caught the slight stench of the hundred cigis lying with the mulch around me. A moment to light another one was lost with a gust that brought that permanent burnt-blood smell of iron oxide to my nostrils, giving the distinct memory of bitten tongues. A feeling not unlike the sting on my exposed skin from the cold that accompanied the odor. I leaned back inside the hatchway to dodge the wind and soon only smelled the choke of the Martian Spirit I lit after another minute, instantly remembering why I didn’t like smoking them at all.

I had bought the pack at the filling station in desperation, not able to pick out any other familiar brands from all of the foreign labels in the nicotine bookcase behind the counter. I recognized these right away, they had been popular with hip kids back on Earth who were trying to be green or just trendy, the “healthy” cigis boasting liberation from pesticides and other additives–and from any discernible taste. I personally thought these pre-fab’d cigis were bland and took larger lungs to drag, and they take too long to burn in the blasted wind. I forgot about it until I heard a skittering to my right and leapt back to the airlock, reaching inside to flip the porch LEDs. I returned to the pale-blue illuminated patio alone; I saw no scaly tail nor heard the scratch of claws, so I felt safe to assume I was so. Wishing I had not lost my hat, I pulled up my collar and hugged myself with my smoke-free hand. I missed that herringbone dob, even if Leucosia gave it to me.

Another, larger wind-wrought clatter in the yard beside mine startled me from my lamentations and decided I ought to head in. It was too bitter out there to make the cigi worth the hassle. Stomping it out on the pavement before it ever had a chance to burn to the little printed ink graphic, I turned on my pressed toe and hurried back inside. The automatic hatch slid shut behind me. Its hermetic seal squealed as it cut off the atmosphere from outside… all except one tiny wisp of smoke that followed me back into my unit. circularcrop-itlom004-chapter-additivefreelungs copy

NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

PREV: CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

NEXT: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

NEXT: CH. 04 «My Minifeed»

CH. 02 «A Tlogger in Olympus»

Listen to Transmission Audio:

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Lo there, internets! Aren’t these new social media tools the ultimest invention since the micro-fusion reactor? Just when I thought I was alone in the universe, I’m able to connect to all my old classmates so we can keep in touch as we venture out into the worlds. Having a rolling feed of moments and memories from dear friends provided by apps and widgets which I can program to display on any surface at home that has a screen. Everyone’s lives brought within my fingertips.

With our social networks I can get my own thoughts out there amongst the crowd. Just like everyone else on sites like Spacebook I could use simple status updates to describe my most momentary feelings and post images depicting where/what/whom-ever I want to tag. But now that I’m a tlogger I have my very own feed where can express myself limitlessly; embedding within my transmissions any vids, images or links that I want to share with my followers. I can write on and on for pages if I so wish and everything I include in my entry will be condensed down into a tiny parcel your feed aggregators will pick up as soon as I post it. You receive a pretty imagegram of someone’s lunch or a character-limited rant in a Rippler post most times you have a notification. Any updates you get from me could contain a whole world of emotion and information thanks to my new tlog.

What better topic for a tlog than a charismatic Earthling chronicling their life on Mars? I feel like plenty of people could relate to the experience or find interest in learning more about my journey. After all it’s not too unusual a set of circumstances that brought me to the rust covered world; you would have done the same in my situation. You see, I moved to Mars for love.

I came to the 4th planet of Sol the same way everyone else does: by commercial rocket. After an arduous security screening and six nerve-racking-hour flight from the capital of Earth—complete with requisite layover and change of ships on the Moon—I’d arrived on the world of red beaches and palm trees. I knew Southern Amazonia would be a pleasant change the moment I stepped onto the landing pad. Immediately met by some of that nice weather everyone’s always posting about, I admired my surroundings now that I was on Mars.

The blazing sun was a sweltering pink disc in a vast scarlet sky. Endless and cloudless, not a drop of moisture could be detected in the air. The crimson canopy could make one feel miniscule. It seemed to stretch on for an eternity, coming to a stop only for the summit of mighty Olympus Mons. The iconic volcanic mountain rises 26 miles into the heavens and is visible from space…as well as half the territory of Amazonia. It’s the picturesque backdrop of Novus Angelicas, the uncredited character cast in every film shot at the home of the movi industry. Olympus was the only identifiable object in the skyline amongst all the square cement buildings of the urban sprawl surrounding the spaceport.

This is every scene taking place in NA. This is it everywhere you go. There are no other hills or ridges, or other features on the horizon. Just miles and miles of cement shapes with some palm trees and powerlines thrown in. Something like 4,000 sq miles to be more accurate, all laid out in square grids with squat square units seated along every street and squared corner as far as you can scan. With a population of over 10 million fit snuggly inside the county lines of this entirely incorporated supercity it’s more densely populated than a good number of moons. Every single person living here gets to play out their dramas on the very same set; all part of the Novus Angelicas experience.

My first footsteps on Martian pavement felt like a homecoming. This was surely the place I was meant to be all my life, I was more certain with each tread across the tarmac. Slipping into the airlock of the small spaceport’s terminal building I was greeted by a couple hundred curious faces. Loitering around an out-of-date lobby, with far too few retro-styled seats to accommodate modern passenger load, all of the travelers looked up from their comms and tablets for a moment to evaluate me. The expressions of the first Martians I met at Porro Beach Spaceport seemed to say: Who’s that? Do I know them from somewhere? Are they in movis? Look, who is that? Did you get a good look? Don’t look like you’re looking! Equally alarmed and flattered at first, I’d learn its normal behavior in Novus Angelicas; where the celebrities walk amongst us.

An important part of the NA Experience: the chance to watch movistars walking their squogs down the streets or catching musicians nomming at late night diners. It seems like every actor and artist who’s anything in the Solar System makes their residence in Novus Angelicas. It’s a most integral industry town and at its heart lays the heart of entertainment itself: Polywood. Birthplace of modern movis and home to the fabled golden era of cinema, all the greats came to live somewhere in Novus Angelicas. This city’s name is synonymous with stardom and fame. It’s also often mentioned in the same sentence as false hope and trap. NA is a city in the business of dreams, whether they come true or not.

It was my turn to claim my fame and get my face on the 3D screen. The two travel cases I retrieved from the baggage carousel, the clothes on my back and my determination were all I felt like I needed. Along with my good looks, talent at acquiring skills and boarder-line genius intelligence I was certainly a shoe-in for success. I waited impatiently on the curbside in front of the spaceport for my ride. The Martian Dream was out there somewhere and it surely wouldn’t be waiting for me. This city didn’t seem like the waiting type.

It really is a fast-paced metropolis, its residents anxiously rushing about all day and night. At any given time half of them are overhead, zipping across the skylanes in aircars, shuttles and skipper transports. The bright LCD panels from billboards impart quick slogans simple enough for drivers to absorb as they zoom on by. Their images flash and dance and distract and loop over again, repeating for days before being updated or cycled out. They make up a constantly shifting background and at night assist a billion street LEDs in illuminating the city that never sleeps.

During the day you’ll find the other half of the population roaming the dusty surface. A good portion might work meaningless office jobs and remain crushed under the indomitable weight of their cubicles. Many could be stuck in their crawlers and rovers, cursing NA traffic as they sit bumper-to-bumper on one of the massive five-lane freeways. Others tramping along cosmopolitan crosswalks and strutting across star-studded walk-of-fames. And every single one of them with their eyes permanently affixed to a screen somewhere: their computers, workstation terminals or registers; their HUDs or dashboard and headrest telis; their comms, droids or their 3D-projector COGs; their BlueEye devices and even optical-nerve augs. The more portable your screen is the better in a lightspeed metropolis like NA.

Its sights sped past the passenger hatch of Leucosia MyLock’s rover until they became an orange blur. My lovi was giving me a ride from the spaceport, providing a place to crash and helping me get on my feet. My journey to Mars would have never been possible if I hadn’t started dating her. I was so grateful to have met this beautiful blond girl from Southern Amazonia, let alone maintain a long-distance relationship and be loved by her; I knew the stars were on our side. When the opportunity had presented itself I wasted no time in ditching my home on Earth for the high life on Mars. Leucosia wasted no time in ditching the surface streets and merging onto the elevated freeway.

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Downtown Novus Angelicas #mars #na #martian living #thebigcity #finallymadeit

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Beyond scuffed guard rails I could see over the flat rooftops, comm towers and palm trees. The scene shimmered slightly in the afternoon’s red heat, looking just like something I’d seen in a movi. A maroon Olympus Mons loomed over the tall shapes of the skyscrapers downtown. After we’d passed by them, weaving along at a hundred miles an hour, the enormous commercial structures seemed to get swallowed up by the urban sprawl. They disappeared into the horizon as we continued on our course away from the city center. We cruised towards the great mountain’s purple silhouette onwards to Olympus County… Further and further from Novus Angelicas.

You see, Olympus County is not the same as NA County. Not even remotely close. The industry’s nearly nonexistent and the famous don’t hang out down here; it’s just the synthetics. OC is opulent, but the most conservative county in all of SoAm. The teli shows and movis that gave it popularity over the past few years surely made it appear nothing but glamorous and lavish. That’s just movi magic: polishing up a heap of slag to sell you a pretty illusion. But it’s no Novus Angelicas.

They still play along every day pretending it is. Granted, their portrayal of NA might be closer to the movi version than the real one. In OC they believe decadence is a value and nothing is as important as status. Everyone has to look as if they’re living like a movistar: driving the fanciest rides, wearing the trendiest fashions and sporting the newest gadgets. Everyone stays slim on a diet of cigis and coffee. Everyone thinks whatever business they’re up to is the most important kind imaginable and the universe should bend to assist their needs. Everyone struts and cuts around as sharp as they can, vidchatting away on an eyepiece with a smartcomm in one hand and a jumbo-sized latte in the other. The OC is a soulless clone of Novus Angelicas…which might be saying a lot if you’ve found NA was a depraved and desperate being to begin with.

The town of Fender isn’t so bad, though. I ended up moving to one of OC’s oldest settlements, a nice little city with a bit of history. It boomed up when the first maglev rails passed through and used to export more oranges than any other municipality in the whole Union. It became the site of some of SoAm’s earliest oil wells. When gas-powered rovers became available and started showing up on Mars you could find the first corner filling station here. Fender was home to the oldest community college still operating on the planet. It was well established, conveniently located and a seemingly pleasant place to raise a family; a lot like my hometown, Vine. And just as boring. One of the first settlers called it ‘the most desolate and lonesome place in Sol’ which is a description I could agree with.

It turned out to be a bit too remote for me. Before I became a resident of Fender I had no idea how far away I would be from NA. I couldn’t imagine how long it would take to sit through traffic to get to a gig. And without my own set of wheels I couldn’t just bum 4-hour rides to make an audition. Was I seriously going to try to use public transportation to attend my acting classes? My dream of ending up on the screen would have to wait.

I was stuck on the wrong part of Mars. So close, but so far. At least I had Leucosia by my side, she was my starmate. I’d moved to this town so I could be closer to her; I figured I might as well make the most of living in Fender. I enrolled at the community college, found an apartment unit on the desert side of town, took a job at a mediastore in Nuport and got myself a new 3-hatched crawler. After a year I’d officially become a resident of Amazonia, the last thing I needed to acquire in order to feel like I was ready to take on my dream. But that’s when the slag hit the turbine.

If you hadn’t heard already, Leucosia and I broke up back in October. That’s putting it nicely, though. My first real love, the girl I left my homeworld for, my starmate… broke my heart and dumped me on Mars. I was devastated for months, it really shook up my reality. It’s been awkward for me to talk about it publicly because I’d hoped we could just get back together and put it behind us. She’s the only person I know on this planet and she had taken care of me, she wouldn’t abandon me now, right? It’s been so long since there was a chance of anything working romantic reconciliation here. She wrote herself out of the story before it even began.

At least I still had my mediastore gig to keep me occupied and my coworkers to keep me company… for a while anyway. I lost that recently as well. Blame it on workplace depression; Leucosia and I had jobs in the same shopping mall. You try starting every day you’re scheduled by being reminded you used to access the express lanes when you carpooled together. You used to take your breaks together in that food court, and used check out the cute animals at that pet shop after your shifts, and you’ve waited for her to try on clothes in all those stores and you never would have applied for the job or visited Style Isle if it hadn’t been for her.

You walk past all those memories on your way in to your underpaid, overburdened and immeasurably meaningless occupation; where you’re penned into the soon to be obsolete movi/music section and forced to hopelessly pedal media discs that everyone’s just downloading for free nowadays. How long would it take before you lose it and get terminated for misconduct?

I’m better off without the dead-end nine-to-five and the flighty Amazonian bird. I’ve still got everything I need to make my dreams possible; no one can strip me of my passion. And I still have you, all of you linked-up and receiving my feed. I’ve got the most useful tools to connect and communicate in this age of instantaneous information exchange and I’m going to utilize them to report my findings on Mars. If you follow my transmissions you’ll hopefully be imparted with the wisdoms of this harsh world I’ve had learn the hard way.

Sync ya later, folks. Take care until my next transmission, signing off from sunny Olympus County.



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NEXT CHAPTER: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

NEXT: CH. 03 «Additive-Free Lungs»

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