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An interview with Jeffrey Busybees

And now we speak with Jeffrey Busybees, the founder of BusyBee, the world’s largest Internet retailer.

We’ve automated just about everything in our warehouses for years now. The delivery trucks are driven by computer. We do find it’s helpful to have an actual human jump out and hand the package to the customer. Put a human face on it, you know? Most things in China’s factories are being built by robots. Automation is Good.

Our next step? Well, that’s to automate consumption! We’ve already implemented that on the production side. When factories, warehouses or the delivery system need something, the robots just place an order with BusyBee. The next step, and I believe this is a natural leap, is to have robot consumers. Humans are fairly predictable, but not predictable enough. Humans are inefficient. If we are going to continue to have the kind of share value growth we want, we need to drive consumption on the curve we’re looking for by ourselves.

That’s why we’re introducing our new BusyBee Robotz. They will have their own bank accounts and apartments across the world. This will keep the humans busy building new apartments for Robotz, construction crews can order anything they need and get it delivered same-day from BusyBee. When we want more sales, we will simply have the Robotz buy stuff. Lots of stuff. We take our cut at every step of the way. When the Robotz apartments are completely stuffed with kitchen appliances, home electronics, wonderful toys of every description… That’s where the humans come in again.

You see it’s quite hard to automate recycling to reclaim as close to 100% of the raw materials as possible, and we need to feed those raw materials back to the factories. Humans are great at smashing things. Give them a hammer and they will smash stuff all day. Then they sort the bits into the correct bins, which we sell back to the factories. All the BusyBee products the Robotz buy, they get recycled. This is going to be great for shareholder value, the economy and the entire world!

Yes, you are right. There is still a yawning demand for fresh raw materials if we are going to continue to grow our consumer economy. That is why we are going to Mars and the Asteroid Belt. Endless supplies of the raw minerals to mine, absolutely zero environmental degradation. It’s a win / win!

Have you had a chance to interview any of our BusyBees on Mars? Talk to my people and we’ll get it set up. See you on Mars!

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Illustration of Mars.

“Tell ’em that one,” rumbled Hank as he set his Mai Tai back on the bar. “The one about Hazy Jim and how he finally got back to Earth.” Big Eddy stretched his lanky body like he was looking to make more space inside it and glanced between Hank and the tourist couple seated in the palm fronds. They had dressed for the occasion in snappy Hawaiian shirts. She even had a plastic flower in her hair.

“Now, Hank” started Eddy. “You know these nice people came in here for their colony required doses of Vit-C and Vit-D and not for crazy stories that don’t end well.” Mrs. Entz spoke up, the curiosity clear in her voice “One of the colonists got to return to Earth?” Hank reached for his drink again, knocking back the nutrients that are essential to maintaining Human life on Mars. “Wahl, sure. In a way.”

“How’d he do that? Sure, thanks to the Musk Foundation, we get a round-trip in return for our social-media influencer status.” Mr. Entz spun a ring on his pinky and the tiny camera eye on the Flamingo Room pin on his bright shirt flashed briefly. “That one’s going on our Tiki Bar Blog. We’ve got elite status among the Vlergs.” He gave a little wink and a knowing nod. “You guys doing the work of keeping this place going… not so much. I mean about getting a return trip.” One quick slurp and his Zombie achieved zero extra liquid mass. “Tell you what, I feel like I could use another dose of Vit-C. Tell you what. How about you line me up another Zombie, and if you put an extra drop o’ Tink in it and a story, I’ll make sure there will be something extra for you in your end.” There’s that smile, little wink and nod again.

Eddy produced his shaker and jigger and commenced measuring rum. “Okay fine-sees then. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He jabbed a thumb Hank-wards. “You see that genius there? He survived.” A sly smile creased Hank’s pale face. His big fingers toyed playfully with the parasol in his Mai Tai mug. “Curiosity didn’t injure this Ocelot. I’ll tell ya, it was quite a ride.” Clearly the colonists had the tourist’s attention now.

“You see, Hazy Jim used to get bored quick.” Eddy was carefully metering the lime juice. “Punch me, Eddy. I need to feel something.” he used to say. “He kept getting in trouble for trying to do donuts in the surface rovers. He once managed to lock himself in one of the sun rooms for almost 24 hours. We called him ‘Lobster Man’ for a long time after that.”

“He just lived in kind of a haze, that’s why he’s been known as ‘Hazy Jim’ since.” explained Hank. “So, sounds like he didn’t take to living on Mars?” asked Edna. Hank gestured a few feet away to a wicker chair under a large sun lamp with a palm tree. “He used to sit in that chair and make up stories about Hawaii. He’d never even been there.”

“Somehow he managed to plant a secret avocado tree, that’s kind of restricted you know as the colony still needs to be careful with our limited supply of fresh foods. When they came and took it away, man you should have seen him cry.” Hank looked mournful. “Yeah, he missed God’s Green Earth, but he had years to go on his contract before any chance of a ticket out.” “That’s when the really crazy stunts came out of him.” Added Eddy. “‘I gotta get out of these tunnels, man!’ he used to say.”

“How about that time he decided to go hang-gliding? Imagine.” Hank stretched his arms out wide, making whooshing noises with his mouth. “How’d that go?” asked George between slurps on his straw. Hank worked on his own straw. “Jim figured, less air but less gravity. Just make the wings bigger. Almost worked. He got lucky. When he augured-in he found himself in a soft dust dune canyon close enough to get picked up by a rover.” Eddy refilled Hank’s mug with colonist-class pre-mix. “About that time I decided maybe I should hang around him more, maybe keep an eye on him some. For his own safety.”

“This place is a bit like living in a submarine.” spoke Edna quietly. Hank breaks in “…and drinking your own pee.” Hank tipped his mug towards the woman, who now looked at her own mug, a bit concerned. “They don’t like to tell you that, but ha’in’t much water on Mars.” Edna spoke up again, “Ok, I’m starting to see why a man might take some desperate chance to get back Earth. How did it happen?”

Eddy leaned both arms on the bar. “You know how when Elon Musk’s ‘Mars Mining and Exploration Company’ discovered Martian Lava Worms… now there was money on the table so that’s when they invented the Rock Launcher. You probably toured that yesterday.” George rattled the ice in his mug. “Sure, that’s where those rails come down to the mountains with the Lava Worms to that big building and shoot them into space, right?”

“Right, so me and Jim are up on the side of the Pindus Mons works where the auto-diggers are cracking the big chunks out of the mountain and he’s looking at that big open hopper on wheels and that long rail down the big hill to the valley and even with our visors on I could see the wheels turning.” A husky hand set a small dish of salted peanuts in front of Hank. “For you señor.” Marigold’s voice was serious. Surprised, Hank asked “what did I do to deserve these?” “It is a hard story you are telling. Be sure to tell it right.” and with that the Mexican man vanished into the foliage as quickly as he had appeared.

Clearly surprised: “His name is ‘Marigold’…?” Edna blurted, forehead crinkled. “Sure is,” replied Eddie, “but that’s a story for another time.” “Well, don’t that beat all?” She turned to her husband. “Hon, did you get that?” The ringed fingers of George’s left hand were dancing about as if he was playing an invisible piano. “Just sent it out to the Vlergs, darl.” He leaned forward. “Say, are those snack peanuts I see in there?”

“Yes…” Hank leaned forward presenting the bowl to the tourist couple. “As our honored guests you should have them.” They both leaned back and shook their heads. “Oh no… Thank you, but no thank you.” The couple glanced at each other for a moment. Edna began solemnly , “We couldn’t possibly, we know what those mean up here. We know what it means to have a snack. We want you to have them.”

Hank held their gaze for a few seconds and then returned the dish to the bar in a spot in reach of both himself and Eddy. “Very well, thank you ma’am. I’ll share them with Eddy.” He selected a peanut, examined it for a moment and then chewed it quietly, eyes closed. Finished he took a breath and sat up. “Now where was I? Oh, yaas.”

He continued. We’re on the side of this mountain looking in this hopper car and I’m watching Jim trail his gaze down its track to the launcher long and slow, like he’s thinking about something. He turns to me and says, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Hank reaches for another peanut. “No Jim. I do not. Sex maybe? The way boobies float in zero-G?” “Not this time my buddy.” Jim pats the side of the hopper car. “How long has it been since you rode a roller coaster? How long is it gonna be?” Jim leans in close to me, and I can tell he’s got one of those wicked grins on his face. Ya know, like he’s got one of those ideas.

Just like that, he’s used one hand to vault over the side and into the hopper. “Jim, you’ve got the control box… right?” A giggle comes over the radio. “Sure do, good buddy. Are ready for some Earth Fun?” I start to freak out, I can already feel the sweats hitting me. “Are you nucking me? You want to end up in the launcher and out in orbit?” It doesn’t take but a moment and he comes back with, “Nah, don’t worry. We don’t have the mass those big hunks o’ Larva Lava have. Hopper’ll slow down and we’ll just jump out. Don’t think about it too long. I’m going with or without you.”

The bar has been pretty quiet. “So, what did you do?” asks George. Hank put his hands on his hips and regards the couple silently. “Well, I’m sitting there thinking. Fool me, I also left him with the authorizer for the rover. Figured it made him feel like he was in control of something. Cheezus, he’s going to get hisself killed for real this time. I’m sweating, looking down that longgggg slope towards that launcher, then the hopper, then back down the mountain and I’m biting my lip and all along Jim’s giggling over the comms.”

“Didn’t you try to stop him?” asks Edna? “With what? A stick? We’re on Mars! Then it comes to me. I’ll leap in too, and real quick like, I’ll just grab the control box out of his hands and we’ll be safe.” Hank’s making snatching motions with his hands. “So that’s what I do. Two hands, I’m over the side.” Hank’s miming all the movements. His audience is leaning forward, listening close. “Sure as shit, shinola and a shoe-shine that laughing bastard sets the hopper rolling down that hill.” Hank stands up and reaches for another peanut.

Edna breaks the silence.”…and…you grabbed him, right?” Hank shakes his head. “Yeah, I wish. Larva Lava hopper cars don’t have what you’d call a smooth ride. In a half of two seconds we’re both crumpled against the back wall bouncing up and down like rag dolls while that thing gathers speed. Sure, mine rail is a cheap and fast way to get your petrified mars worms down the hill, but it sure ain’t made for humans.” Hank starts waving his hands again. “All this time Jim’s giggling, he’s having a great time. I’m just hoping not to lose all the atmo from my suit. Dang, if the thing isn’t like a roller coaster you can take my left nut. We’re bouncing up and down, zipping down that mountain faster and faster. I can see that fool has smashed the control box. No chance of the e-brakes now. I’m seeing big black dots in front of my eyes … I must have passed out … then…” Hank sits down and reverently picks up another peanut and regards it slowly. “…then, that’s when things got bad.”

“The hopper flips over and we’re flying towards the running conveyer belt that runs to the launcher to orbit. Jim lands on the belt in front of me and I’m looking for something, anything to stop me before it’s too late but they don’t put safety rails in those things. I start crawling back towards the hopper, and I’m not making much progress because the damn thing is bouncing and moving faster than me. Jim’s pulling away from me, still giggling like mad. Damn, I wish they’d let us have cigarettes here.”

George is doing a tap dance with his ringed fingers again, rapt. “I hear a final WHOOP! out of Jim and the comm goes quiet. Totally quiet. Nothing. I pause for a second to look behind me, and it’s right there – the orbit slingshot. I have a half second to think FUCK YOU ELON MUSK! and then it’s POW!” Hank smacks his hands together, launching one off the other. “I’m gone like Long Tom Tomorrow. I black out from the G’s. When I wake up, I’m in space.”

“Say, what?” asks George. “You survived that?” looking askance. “It was a surprise to me, too.” Hank sits back down. “I’ve got this incredible headache when I come to and I’m slowly spinning. I’m seeing Mars. Then Jim. Then Mars. Then Jim. My atmo meter says I’ve got about 30 minutes of breathe time left so I do my best to calm down and I start punching every alert button on the comm before it happens.” “Before what happens?” asks Edna.

“Before we’re swept up by the orbiting slingshot that shoots the rocks out towards Earth, you know that. A big nudge in the right direction, on the right path and in a few years they are snagged by that net in Earth orbit. Or hit the moon, depending where Musk & Co prefer to pick ‘m up.”

“So, you’re here. Where’s Jim?” George asks. Hank picks up another peanut softly, chews it slowly. “That’s just the thing. Bradbury Base was alerted to anomalous behavior by the hopper just in time to be watching what happened. They could tell those two objects were not the rocks they would expect.”

“So,” Edna interjects “when you hit up your comms they came and caught you.” Hank nods, “yeah, just in time.” George perks up a questioning eyebrow, “but what about Jim? Wait. Jim didn’t turn on his comms.” He pauses. “Do you think he was…” “Dead?” Hank finishes the thought for him. “Well, I kind of hope so, but we’ll never know for sure.” The man looks into the distance for a moment.

“Jim finally found his way back to Earth.” Edna adds with finality.

“Yeah, yeah he did. Well, it’s a long trip. It’s gonna take a few more years.” Hank raises his mug. “Here’s to Hazy Jim.” The other three join in. “To Hazy Jim!” Down the hatches, all. George sets his drained mug on the bar. “Hey, I think I’m done in. I’m a lightweight, even back on Earth!” Edna chuckles, “if you don’t mind Hon, I’m ready to go too.”

George sticks out his hand for shakes all around. “Thanks for a great story, gents. Make sure this all goes on our tab.” Eddy nods, “Thanks for coming to Mars.” As the couple turns to leave Edna quietly takes something out of her purse and places it on the bar. Then they are gone.

Marigold appears out of the back. “Holy crap, you’re never going to believe this.” exclaims Eddy. “We’ve never had a haul like this!” follows Hank. Marigold comes in close for a look.

“Dios Mio!” he gasps. “Its chocolate!

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Kid Banana Gets a Pet

Banana Man is a mild-mannered janitor at night. Straps a banana to his head and fights crime during the day. Mostly littering. Twice a month he gets his son for the weekend. Kid Banana

Returning from Banana Patrol, Banana Man is cornered by The Landlord on the stairwell before he can get away.

“Dammit! Where’s my pet deposit? That’s $100. And I need it. IMMEDIATELY!” The Landlord is not happy. As usual. His face is turning red. “And take that damn banana off your head, you look like an idiot!”

Mumbling, “I’ll get you a check by monday.”

“You better!” The Landlord stomps off.

In the apartment Banana Man stares at the ferret in the cage. The ferret stares at Banana Man.

Banana Man stare.

Ferret stare.

Banana Man stare.

Ferret stare.

Stalemate.

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Time Horse Makes an Appearance

Banana Man is a mild-mannered janitor at night. Straps a banana to his head and fights crime during the day. Mostly littering. Twice a month he gets his son for the weekend. Kid Banana.

Dad: Look sharp, Kid Banana!

Son: But dad, my banana hood itches… [sfx: head scratching]

Dad: Good! That will keep you sharp.

Banana Man peers around, keeping a sharp eye out. For anything.

Son: [sfx: wet squish sound] Dad! I stepped in it!

The both look down at the pile of fresh horse road apples on the ground, still steaming.

Son: (wails) Ah, man! That wasn’t there a moment ago.

Banana Man looks down, hands on hips, lips trembling. You can almost see the smoke coming out of his banana. He raises his fists to the sky.

Dad: (screams) TIME HORSE!!!

[sfx: horse] In the distance we hear Time Horse whinny. A haunting laugh.

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Banana Man at Home

Banana Man is a mild-mannered janitor at night. Straps a banana to his head and fights crime during the day. Mostly littering.

Sunlight filters through the dusty blinds, throwing a few rays over the figure of our hero, sitting in his stained tighty-whities in the battered beige Lay-Z-Boy facing the unblinking eye of the TeeVee.

The TV is not on. Banana Man is staring at the motes of dust floating in the sunlight. He is thinking about his #1 nemesis: Time Horse.

How do you catch a villain who can simply time travel away just as you are about to apprehend him? Also he can gallop.

Banana Man narrows his eyes. He has no plan, but it Must. Be. Done.

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Banana Dad and Kid Banana

“Dad, my banana is slipping.” Kid Banana fusses with noggin-mounted banana.

“Yeah, they do that. Let me take a look.” Banana Dad fiddles with Kid Banana’s headgear. “There, that’s better. Let’s go.”

They are in the park, fighting crime.

“Dad, Mom says you’re weird.”

“You mom says a lot of things. The court says you’re with Dad alternate weekends. On weekends we fight for Justice.” Banana Dad scans the area for crime. Doesn’t take long. A crumpled gum wrapper in the grass. The perp? Long gone, but still.

“Kid Banana? Fight for Justice.” He points to the wrapper. “Grab that. We will dispose of it properly. Let’s keep going.”

“Ok, Dad.” They slowly perambulate the park in a circular fashion. Eyes sharp on the lookout. They smell it before they step in it. Road apples, a huge steaming pile. Horse pucky appears in the path directly in front of our heroes.

Banana Dad balls his fists and screams to the sky:

“TIME HORSE!!!!!”

Who is Time Horse?

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Banana Man vs. The Landlord

Banana Man is a mild-mannered janitor at night. Straps a banana to his head and fights crime during the day.

Banana Man huffs down the stairs. It is time to fight for Justice before his shift. Nearing the ground floor, he slows. He knows who often lurks in the tiny lobby by the battered mailboxes.

The Landlord.

On the second to last step Banana Man stops, and carefully peers around the corner.

Sure enough, he is there. The Landlord. Damn! Looks like he’s mopping the floor.

Sticking his back to the wall, Banana Man silently creeps back up the stairwell, staying out of sight.

The Landlord smokes fat, cheap cigars while he works. Sweating through his stained wife-beater t-shirt. Banana Man can hear him grunting. Banana Man waits.

Slop, slop. Grunt, grunt. Finally. Banana Man hears The Landlord heft the bucket of dirty water and retreat to the basement. Banana Man careful descends the stairs again. A quick look – the coast is clear. He sprints across the slippery floor and is out the door!

Onward to Justice!

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Batman Is Not Pleased

Banana Man is a mild-mannered janitor at night. Straps a banana to his head and fights crime during the day.

Batman:
Tinder, for Superheros. Go out and find some new members for the Justice League they said. It will be fun they said.

Banana Man:
You’re a guy in a costume. I’m a guy in a costume. We both fight for Justice.

Batman:
We are not the same. You have a banana on your head.

Banana Man:
No really, we’re just guys in costumes. Bat-thing, banana-thing. What’s the diff?

Batman:
You have a banana strapped to your head.

Banana Man:
Yeah, that’s my costume. You got a bat-thing, I got a banana-thing.

Batman:
I hate you. I hate you so much. If I let free my hate-waves, they will destroy this Starbucks with a blast of heat and fury like 10,000 angry suns.

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Banana Man vs. Ice Cream Guy

Banana Man: By night a mild-mannered janitor. By day, a crusader for Justice.

He’s got his yellow leotard: on!

Yellow hood: on!

Banana: strapped to head!

He’s in the park again, eyeing Ice Cream Guy. Ice Cream Guy has the ice cream stand, he sells ice cream.

Banana Man is watching. And waiting.

Customers come and go.

A child rips the wrapping off her ice cream, drops it on the ground.

Time for Justice! Banana man steps forward and points to the wrapper on the ground.

“Hey! Pick that up!”

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Former VP Mike Fence in the Tiki Bar

“Former Vice-President Mike Fence! What brings you to Mars, sir?” asked Marigold with surprise. There was no mistaking that glorious head of eagle-white hair. “I didn’t know to expect you.”

The former veep glanced left, right and then down at his standard issue colonist utilitarian grey overalls. “You recognized me?”

Marigold smiled, slicked back his own luxurious locks and replied, “It’s hard to miss that hair sir. Welcome to Mars! What can I get for you?”

Mike looked around nervously and carefully set himself down on a bar stool like Jesus was watching and shaking his head with concern. “I uh, I am not normally in a place like this. I mean, a bar.” Looking around at the combination of incomprehensible colony life support technology sticking out from the walls attempting to be artfully concealed by the best of tropical decorations cobbled together by the staff from colony cast-offs.

“…but there’s not a lot of public space for a man to go to on the colony, so let’s give it a try.” He thinks for a moment. “You don’t have milk, do you?”

“Ah, it’s white, but not really milk.”

“I guess I should have known that. Um. Maybe some kind of gin fizz without the gin.”

“Coming right up!” Marigold gets busy behind the bar and places a bubbly mug in front of the former Veep. “I’m Marigold. Pleased to meet you.” Mike picks the mug up carefully and considers it.

“This isn’t recycled pee, is it?” eyebrows cocked.

Marigold shrugs, “We don’t like to call it pee, we like to call it ‘Mars Gold’. We have had some luck extracting water from the soil, but we haven’t yet found it in large enough quantities to really impact our supply.”

Pensively, Mike takes a sip. “Ok, it’s not bad.” He seems to relax for a moment, slumps a bit on the stool then straightens. “So this is Mars. So far it feels like being in a submarine.”

“Yeah, they don’t tell you that on Earth, do they? Rather paint a picture of that lovely Martian sunset with the moons in the distance. Sells better.”

Mike toys with his mug, examining the handmade hollow pagan idol with a mixture of curiosity and WTF. He coughs for a moment, gives Marigold a glance like he’s got something to confess. “I had to get out of Dodge. That’s why we are here.”

“Oh?”

“You saw the vids from the last Earth election?”

Marigold snickers a little. “Yeah, we got ‘m. Takes a while for them to arrive, but we got ‘m.”

“They really were chasing me through the corridors of Congress shouting, ‘Castrate Mike Fence!’. Can you believe it?”

“A sad day, sir.”

“…and afterwards… the constant death threats …. the abuse. Nowhere to hide.” He puts his head in his hands. “Karen and I … we just had to make a change. A big change. So here we are.” He sighs. “I hear the second amendment is rather moot up here, right?”

Marigold smiles, “Things that shoot bullets are a bad idea in a pressure dome sir. People who have a need for guns stay on earth.” Marigold waves a hand around, “Anyhow, where’s there a place for someone to hide? We have other ways of resolving disputes.”

“Yeah, the vids were edited so it sounds like ‘Hang Mike Fence’, but that’s not what they were chanting. I give thanks to Jesus every day that the Secret Service got me out when they did.” He takes a pull on his fizz. “God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house.” Mike touches his heart.

“Would you believe he demanded that I present an alternative slate of electors printed on waffles with syrup?” He shakes his head.

“That’s not quite what we heard.”

“Yes, well that’s what he wanted. I told him, ‘Mr. President, can’t we at least use paper?‘ He said, ‘No, it has to be waffles. Good for the constitution! Saw it on TV! Channel 28!'”

Mike lays his head down towards the bar. “I just couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t.”

“Don’t feel bad sir, you did the right thing.”

He lifts his head up again. “You wouldn’t believe the pressure. Ugh, I had a front-row seat to that clown parade God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house, held in front of him for four long, long years. That drunken Rudy Gull and raving Cindi Powells had him by the … the … you know.” He makes a gesture.

“Those two will do anything to bill $300/hr and be on TV.” He sighs again. “And that knee-sock guy? He was the worst. Just being in the oval office made him drool.” He takes another sip, leans back.

“To think I quietly put up with that for four years.” Shakes head again, “The ‘ideas’ from General Bin, disgraced felon, actually convicted of the crime of Stupidity.” He gives Marigold a look. “Did you know that in some cases, being incredibly stupid is actually a crime?”

“No I did not, but now I’m extra glad to be on Mars.” Marigold performs the sign of the cross over his heart.

Mike gives the bar a gentle pound. “These are the people God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house, these are the people he decides to take advice from.” Mike slumps on the stool again.

Marigold puts his hand on Mike’s shoulder and gives him a look of pure compassion. “You did the best you could, Mr. Vice-President. You really did. That’s in the past. You’re on Mars now. You and Mrs. Fence are safe.”

Mike straightens up. “Yes, yes you are right. Best not to keep thinking about all that. In the past.”

Pause, a sip. Marigold sets himself down on his stool. “So now that you’re a free man, and on Mars, what do you think you’ll do?”

Mike smacks his lips and looks Marigold right in the eyes. “I’m thinking… I’m thinking I’ll start a church.”

stay tuned Mars fans…

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On Mars Air is Money

On Earth, you can never be too rich. On Mars, you can never have too much air. On Arrakis, “He who controls the spice, has it made.” You won’t hear it spoken of openly around here, but the three oxygen generation/regeneration stations are each controlled by a different faction. When the Council meets and decisions are made – each faction eyes the other with some suspicion, but knowing that they at least have their own oxygen supply.

You’ll find that people hoard it. Got an extra suit tank? Stick it under your bunk, just in case. Lay hands on a rogue regen unit? Plenty of room outside, where you can grab it when you need it. Even full tanks for crawlers have been known to walk off to be hoarded.

How important is this stuff? Cross the wrong person and you may wake up in the morning and find the pressure door to your cabin sealed and the emergency atmo cutoff engaged. Quite the negotiation tactic.

News of this kind of stuff doesn’t make it back to Earth, of course. We still need those shipments of choco bars, chips and of course, fresh Chorizo. Wouldn’t do to upset the Earthies, though new arrivals go through a bit of “re-orientation” you might say.

When someone arrives who’d expecting a return trip, well. We keep ‘m in the dark. The smart ones eventually figure out that something is going on, and the real smart ones keep it to themselves.

Yeah, there’s a lot of horse trading that goes on. The hydo farms need waste CO2 to keep the plants growing so mostly the peace is kept, but we keep our eyes on each other. Yet a Marsy can go a long time without food, a few days without water. Yet, how long can you hold your breath?

Yeah, that’s why air is money here.

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