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COUNTDOWN sf

Story ID:4791
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2009
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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“My esteem is to present in this Great Room, the Grand Council of Mars,” said a voice from within the numbered gathering. The single sentence was easily heard in the precise audience of 257,381 tabulated through recorders installed in each triangular pad of comfort, called pilos.

The Speaker wore a long velvet robe similar to each Council member. It had a thin, white trim with the Royal emblem of an Ursus on the right side of his chest, a U crossed through with a lightning bolt. All members voted in by the assembly belonged to the Royal House and common practice was to simply allow the garment to hang over one’s shoulders. Walking to the center of the large assembly allowed the Speaker to display his odd lurching style, as if having difficulty across the flat surface. But it was the normal gait of a Martian being. He was less than two meters tall, lanky; his face pale, voice soft, non-threatening, nor demanding.

It was simply the custom in a non-violent society eager to thrust aside any vestiges of war memories and the devastation it brought upon them, almost three centuries before.

And now parading in single file, the seven Grand Council members entered on a wide lazer beam of green, as a path guiding them to their individual platforms. First in line was Rock’si meaning Wisdom, then Platuna for Truth, Orsa for Honor, H‘tun meant Strength, Mech was Helper, Sa for Worker, and Totia for Chosen. In combination they represented the dictated conduct of Martian resolve and was meant to be the heritage of acceptance for generations to come.

During this past century, Martian society developed the need for only single names since all were united in spirit and desire. None of the seven knew the personage or background of each other, so no one could use their position of authority in a personal way. Each lived separately in their individual hausa or dwelling, dedicated to a life of serving the greater number. At their disposal were the magnificent libraries and musical scores of Martian artisans. Each had Personal Aides trained in secretarial duties, preparation of meals and a companion for conversation.

Everyone among this gathering had worthiness and proper standing, since all eagerly attended each presentation. They knew seven representative voices listened, and spoke in wise counsel for citizens of this Federation. Now everyone stood, rising up from his or her leg-crossed sitting positions throughout the spacious auditorium. Ornate pilos were left strewn about, their triangular shapes blended with wisps of color floating in the misty air. And all crossed wrists signifying the Bondage, which led to massive wars, which had decimated their population.

Then after the rendition of “Freedom Mars,” all leaped in the air as an act of Overcoming, then waited anxiously until the seven Grand Council Members sat down on their own pilos, which began to rotate on a circular platform in the center of the gathering. The Grand Dias hummed with placid sounds of peacefulness, along with a sweet scent of roses causing enough of an impact to subdue any hostile thoughts. Nothing was left to chance ensuring all voices heard the proceedings without interruption. This was an honored occasion in the shadow of Phobos and Deimos.

. . .

“It is my esteem to be allowed to speak forth!” a raspy voice suddenly boomed. There was no mistaking Kraw, holding the authority of Military Field Commander; defender of Martian Colony. His craggy features came alive under the light probes, lighting up the scar-burns on his face as his speaker platform rose in the air for all to see and attune to words of delivery.

He was among the tallest, and as his custom in events of importance such as this wore his full military uniform. His Bulk Pack although weightless, rode high on his back, and the blue uniform along with helmet and Ray Glasses showed him to be an imposing figure. Missing items of attire were side armaments all defenders of Mars once wore, since their military was to be armed only if aggressors threatened their way of life. And his role during these placid times had simply developed into one of overseeing a protecting force rather than an aggressive one.

“I bring forth my report, however brief it may be. As you know I am not one to prattle on since I leave it to the Philosopher, whom I am certain will follow my own presentation, since he desires to continually enunciate the glory of our history. However, I am concerned for the present, my capable self, being responsible to all citizens. And I share these details of my latest excursion. Our fleet of observer craft returned before any cyclonic storm hurled its fury…”

“There he goes, on and on under the guise of an efficient use in precise statesmanship. He is nothing more than a fop. And mesmerized by his own importance.” A pause, then further words from the Philosopher, as he looked down at his constant companion, Se’all, a shorter figure of about one and a half meters. He looked much different from other citizens with his chestnut mane curling from head to halfway down his back. And he was amused about how often Philosopher told those nearby, “You must not touch me, for I have the disposition of a very sensitive man.”

“Why must we endure what there is not to endure? I am so pleased you await my statements, my mite friend of no pretensions.” And the Philosopher, adviser to the Grand Council waited patiently for his own opportunity to speak. “Sometime soon the buffoon will desist with rhetoric,” Philosopher continued.

Se’all only smiled. He looked up at the taller man, splendid in his royal robes, a sign of the important station he held in the Grand Council. For none other had such wisdom for the seven who relied on him for a multitude of thoughtful ideas, even if he did speak in riddles at times. Besides, it was his honor to be considered like a son and to have access to all Grand Council conversations, since only Philosopher was allowed entry to their private domains.

. . .

“…and round about Sirius, we encountered a strange sighting, unlike the earlier satellites of planet Earth,” continued Kraw. “Hopefully, it was not a landing craft, for if it were thus, we should be quite fearful. Remember those days of caution when craft from earth-beings began to invade our territory seeking knowledge. Ha. I believe it was for the desired colonization now taking place. First they sent rovers named Spirit and Opportunity. Words of conquest led to a sampling of the integrity of our fair planet. From our knowledge, these earth-beings are indeed fearsome, unlike the acquired gentleness of our own citizens. And their trustworthiness is at risk. Must we once again raise up arms in combat? And yes, I will defend. Nay, I will become an aggressor, should the will of our gathering desire it so.”

Shouts of “NO MORE WAR!!” sounded loud and most clearly across the heads of all in attendance. “NO MORE WAR!!” rose most emphatically, especially from elders who knew dire consequences arose from armed conflict. Memories shuddered through their beings as they recalled videos of fleets encountering all manner of weapons used, even into outer space.

“That is why, as your Commander,” Kraw’s voice droned on. “I have full authority to utilize the fleets of Mars to defend, encounter and possibly destroy any intrusion into our territorial space. As you are aware the assault of our airspace began with the simplest of methods. First came earthly probes in 1969, followed by Lunar Landings, then observer satellites right up to Galileo which they themselves savaged, a true masterpiece of their technology.

“It decries their wastefulness and complete disregard for whatever does not suit their needs. We know of these things since our careful observation of their development for a millennium of time. And now behold what awaits us…”

With a sweep of his arm he motioned for the monitor to begin and a low humming began, as the entire roof of the gigantic auditorium lit up as a screen showing the composition of the universe. Within the auditorium dials flickered, and the screen quickly passed from collections of star designs, to galaxies until it centered on one particular planet, unknowing it was the central figure in the minds of those living so far away.

“Behold!” Kraw shouted, “The seedling of Dr. Christopher Bluewood from ancient days is about to embark on a journey to our beloved planet. The name of this pup is, John-Chris Bluewood, otherwise referred to as JC.”

As if on cue an image of the earth being showed up on the huge screen, and for the first time all were made familiar with the blue-eyes, brown haired earth being. Little did they know at the time, he represented the greatest threat to their way of life, since the awesome wars, which had relegated their population to a pocketful of survivors, when once there were hundreds of millions.

No one heard Kraw’s quiet mutter, “And I’ll decide when force is required.”

. . .

Indeed there was renewed interest from earth, in what could be seen as Mars, the red planet. It’s presumed canals, and guesstimates that oceans once existed on the red planet were all proven to be true and when earth’s population became overcrowded, the planet eventually became a destination for Earth’s population development. Right now it was an oddity for anyone to travel there. Unless of course you happened to be an archeologist interested in discovering untold secrets. Such a person was Dr. Bluewood and now a young man with similar seeking desires had taken to heart the illogical stories circulating about his ancestry from so many years before, and the mysterious manner of his ancestor’s death.

“FINALLY!” Philosopher exclaimed too loudly. “Oh me,” he said to his companion Se’all, aware he had disturbed the concentration of those seated nearby. “And now is my desire to remind all, of our place among the stars, sacred, never ending. Oh, my mute friend, I wish above all else to counter those Kraw’s hints of conflict.” Then Philosopher stood to thunderous applause, for he was a favorite among the Martians, striding triumphantly across an impressive laser beam of green, his favorite color.

And now the anguish of a new Martian thrust is set in motion.

***

© Richard L. Provencher 2003
All rights reserved.