You can find Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p6LAko-Om
Part 3 of 5
Photo by https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/images/index.html
We changed the subject. None of us had the answers. It bothered me that people wanted to separate from Earth. I mean, that’s where we’re from, right? I was alone reading my homework assignment on a public terminal, when my comm chimed. It was the Korian’s. I glanced at the time. They’d taken three hours. Good for them. “Hi, David.”
“Hi, Helga. We’re ready for some questions.”
“I’ll be right there.” I closed my book and hustled off. The door opened as soon as I pushed the announcer button. Ali was in the doorway. She must have been standing right there.
“Come in.” She grinned and waved me in.
“Yes, Helga. Tea?” Idai was in the kitchen.
“Thank you.” They’d found the cupboards and their starter supply of groceries.
We sat around the kitchen table and the questions started. David wanted to know about the lab schedules, Idai was concerned with water rations and the cost of air. Zane wanted to know about sports groups. Seems he was into basketball. Ali’s only question was, “Does Mars celebrate Christmas?”
“Of course. You’ll see on the Main Concourse. It’s decorated, you can buy gifts at the stores. There’s an increase in the sugar rations for the holiday so stock up now.” I could see everyone visibly relax.
Then David asked. “Is it safe? The video talked about a separatist group.” Idai stopped smiling.
I shrugged. “There’s some discussion. Why?”
“No attacks on new arrivals? On government offices?” David stared hard at me.
“Nothing. It’s safe. You can go anywhere that’s not restricted. No one will bother you.”
I watched Idai take David’s hand. “It’s just,” she paused, “a little unnerving to get here and find out there are people who don’t like Earth. Maybe they don’t like new colonists.”
“No way. We’re growing. We like to have new people come.” I finished my tea and stood up. They didn’t look totally convinced. “Shall I walk you to the Main concourse?”
Ali leapt from her seat. “Yes. Can we, Mom? Dad? I want to see it.”
Idai and David exchanged glances. “Yes.” David stood. Idai and Zane did too. “Let’s look at our new home.”
I made them open and close the few closed doors. Most stood open all the time except during drills or emergencies. I had to spend a whole day last year in the garden when the pressure dropped in my tunnel. All the doors slammed shut while I was working the compost pile. I was the only one in there. I’ll admit I was afraid with only the periodic announcements to keep me company. The garden was in the best shape ever by the time the doors were opened.
Ali was delighted. She danced up and down pointing out the different shops and the holiday decorations.
I pointed out the public terminals. “I was doing my homework here while I waited for you.”
Zane looked interested in that. “You can log in from anywhere?”
I nodded. He nodded back. I finally impressed him.
We walked the length of the concourse and back again. “You ready to be on your own?”
David nodded. “I think so. Appreciate the tour. We’ll stay a little while. Idai wants to do some shopping.”
“Sure. Keep your rations in mind as you buy. Use your comms to keep check.”
Idai smiled. “The same as Earth, really. Rations there too.”
“Have fun.” I waved and left. Mom would be making supper and I was hungry.
At dinner dad asked how my sponsoring went.
“Good. They were a little prickly at first but they seemed good when I left them in the Main Concourse.”
“Scared, Helga. They had all the training and briefings but still, they’re on a different planet, in a hole in the ground.” Mom passed me the potato mash.
“Sure. I was nice. They have a daughter my age, Ari.” I took my share of the potatoes, Mom had made gravy to go with it, my favorite.
“What’s the father do?” Dad took the potatoes from me while mom passed the green beans.
“Biologist. The mom, Idai didn’t say what she does.”
“We’re expecting a couple more computer techs in this wave. Maybe I’ll meet her.” Mom said.
We were nearly done with dinner when the separatist conversation came to my mind. “Do you know anything about the separatist movement, Dad?”
He stopped mopping his plate with his roll and looked at me. “Why?”
I shrugged. “I heard some of the kids talking about it. That Earth is taking stuff from us. It was in the video’s the Korian’s watched and David asked if there was any danger.” I ate the last of my soy-beef while dad composed his answer. As a security officer, he’d know the truth.
He took a deep breath. “There is a sentiment running through the colony that Mars should be more autonomous.”
“Independent, dear,” mom answered.
Dad nodded. “Right. There’s no organized group, per se. But there are members of the council who have broached the topic. They believe we’re strong enough to govern our own affairs.”
It sounded dull to me. “Oh. So Earth government doesn’t take our research and inventions from us for nothing?”
Dad scowled. “They pay for a lot, it’s only fair they get a return on their investments.”
Finance. That sounded more boring that government. “Sounds fair, I guess.” I picked up my plate and headed for the dishwasher. “I’ve got homework to finish. Great dinner, Mom.”
“Thank you, Helga.” She stood up and grabbed empty bowls. “I’m glad you liked it.”
Dad laughed. “You made potato mash and gravy. She thinks it’s great every time.”
Later in my room I finished my homework and started a game. As I shot alien ships from the screen I thought about what Amber and Tayln said in the concourse. They seemed pretty upset about Earth. I wondered if maybe Dad was holding back information. Maybe I’d ask around in the morning.
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