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Mars in the First Degree
If, at a certain time of day – you stand at an exact spot, in the middle of the intersection where West Broadway crosses Paris Drive you can catch a very tiny sliver of natural sunlight filtering down through the walkways joining the 2250 floors of the Cities above. It was in this spot that Mars stood now, stock still in the middle of the intersection. If you were to look at him, you would see his messy white blonde hair reflecting the rays of the natural sunlight, causing an almost rainbow like effect which wouldn’t have happened in any artificial light.
He had no shirt on, as it got quite hot on the lowest level. He wore only an old loose fitting pair of jeans, which were faded, frayed at the bottoms and ripped in some places as well. Beneath them poked the toes of his rubber, soft soled shoes. They were very feminine shoes, but effective for his job. His lithe body looked smaller and paler than ever in the attire, but it wouldn’t matter down here. Mars knew no one would mention anything to anyone. They would ‘comply,’ with the Governmental Group’s wish to secret irregularities such as people who were lean, and excessively white. Those who had blue eyes rather than the usual green and were prone to ‘non-compliant actions.’
Mars classified as a ‘mutant.’ Something the Governmental Group didn’t want the people of the other levels to know about. Mistakes did not happen with the Genetic Engineering, and as long as they didn’t happen, Mars didn’t exist. He had learned to use his ‘mutation’ to his own benefit a long time ago though and was happy enough to be a social outcaste, as long as he could enjoy his ten minutes of natural light once a day.
It never bothered him that such enjoyment meant standing exactly in the middle a major intersection. He knew he would be okay, standing where he was, as there was no traffic to disrupt down on the ground level. No one other than himself could afford such luxuries here, so there was no fear of getting hit, or of having his favorite spot found out by anyone else. Few people down here would have noticed the difference between the tiny shard of natural light, and the fake light which was generated to every city level below the very top level.
Maybe it was because he had grown up on that very top level, that Mars noticed it. It felt different to the artificial sunlight somehow. He was told, they all were, that the generated light contained all the same UV properties and vitamins as natural light. It was supposed to be exactly the same. Except that Mars knew it wasn’t. You only had to stand in that tiny space for ten minutes or so to feel that it wasn’t the same. There was a tingle which came with natural light that you never got from the generated light. It didn’t have that effect of hazing people’s minds like the generated light did either.
Not that the hazing affected Mars, but it did affect most people, and he could tell, more than most, that the properties which caused it weren’t there in the natural light. It was a relief. It was like the difference between your body fighting a sickness successfully and not having to fight it. This was very much what Mars felt when he stood in that shard of light. It was as though he didn’t have to fight anything off for those ten minutes of the day.
Not many people knew about the hazing. Those properties which were applied in Genetic Engineering (GE) and Brain Prostheses (BP) to make people compliant were enhanced by chemicals and vitamins in the generated light and air. Mars was aware of it for two reasons: The first being that his father had been the Councilor in charge of ‘Compliance Policies,’ the second reason he knew, was that it turned out he was immune to all of it.
It was this immunity which had taken him from a childhood on the 45th Floor of the 50th city level, which was the very top floor of the top level, down to where he was now. No one was meant to be immune, and definitely not the child of the man who was in charge of it all.
The “Governmental Group,” who ran the fifty cities had found it suspicious, which it was. It turned out that Mars’s father had ideas of his own for the Genetic Improvements Project which fell outside of his directive. The men in charge wanted a program which would enhance intelligence, increase life expectancy and still keep the populace ‘compliant,’ with the Government.
Like all men at that level though, the Councilor for Compliance Policies was more than a little corrupt. He, like the rest of them, had an agenda of his own, and had enough power to convince the scientists in charge of IVF, DNA, GE and BP to “comply” with his wishes without telling anyone.
Allpregnancies went through laboratories in order to apply these changes to every human, before they were even actually conceived. This was done more than happily by the population who could this way ensure that their child would not only look a certain way, and be suitably intelligent – but would also be free of any physical or mental diseases that might be inherited.
As part of his role in charge ‘compliance,’ these labs fell under Mars’ father’s control. So, he had used the labs, under the guise of increasing compliance, to create his own version of super-sapiens. A version of Genetic Modifications which fell distinctly outside of the government’s ideal.
Due to the sheer number of changes to the DNA of the unborn fetus ordinarily employed, it was inevitable that unwanted “mutations” were not uncommon. Because of this, the Councilor’s plot to inject non-compliant, extra fit humans into the populace had gone mostly unnoticed. After all, such things weren’t obvious like the cases where a child was born with a missing limb, or an extra limb, or purple hair. It would have stayed un-noticed, had he not applied the changes to his own son, whom the politicians lived closed enough to, that they would notice the oddities. Which of course, they did.
It had been quite a deal at the time. Every representative from every city had gathered together all at once to decide what to do about the situation. It was the first time in decades that the Governmental Group had resembled the mythological ‘United Nations’ that it had been originally designed after. There was a representative present from every floor of every city. That was forty-five floors per city and fifty cities, totaling 2250 representatives plus the City Overseers and Specific Project Representatives. Over four thousand men in one very large hall on the top floor grouped together to discuss only person. Mars Luther Olivier, the son of prominent Councilor (and secret activist,) Poaul Cesar Olivier.
It turned out that Poaul Olivier had been preparing for such an occasion from the time of the creation of his first super-sapiens. So, by the time the case of Mars was brought before the Group he had enough money to buy off every man in the room. Whilst they couldn’t do nothing, they could allow the councilor to keep his position, as well as allow Mars to live. Unfortunately for Mars, “living” was a broad term and he was relocated to the very secret Mutant Facility on the ground floor. After all, they obviously didn’t want someone resistant to the compliance modifications in a position to affect the populace. So he was hidden away where no one would see him.
The Governmental Group had thought at the time that this would be sufficient. After all, they had no way of knowing the full extent of what Poaul Olivier had done. Needless to say it had not worked, but by that time the Governmental Group either had to continue to secret the existence of Mars, or else admit to the bribes, and the Mutant Facility.
So it happened that Mars could do whatever he wished with more freedom than even the Councilors themselves enjoyed. An irony not lost on Mars; as it had been they who had provided him with a fake identity, and it was they who ensured he was never recorded on any ‘CityTV’ cameras. Mars did not exist, and had been raised with the knowledge of how to use that to his own purposes. Or rather, Mars supposed they were his father’s purposes really. Something he occasionally resented. Those thoughts came only once in a while though, in those moments when Mars wished he were like everyone else – blissfully ignorant, and moderately happy. This wasn’t one of those moments though. In this moment, Mars realized, those people would never know the wonderful feeling of natural sunlight. Not the way that Mars knew it to feel.
As the sun passed over, beginning to put the intersection once more into shade, Mars felt a vibration on his wrist attachment. He sighed to see the end of his daily ritual and pushed a button on the wrist device. A light shone out of it projecting a hologrammatic image in front of him. Mars recognized the almost elf-like, delicate face in front of him instantly. How could he not? She had been his first ever girlfriend, back when he was eleven and still living on that top floor. He had loved her ever since and still often wished that he could live his life with her. It was not possible though, not with his precarious position in the world. Still, he liked to dream that it could happen and smiled tenderly at her image, enjoying the sight of her coffee colored skin, light brown hair, and bright green eyes.
“Mars! It’s always good to see you.” She grinned happily before continuing. “I have a job you might be interested in.”
“Oh yes?” Mars replied. He and Vennah had been doing this for a number of months now. She would say she had a job for him, in case anyone was listening in. They would arrange for him to pick her up to discuss the job. Then, they would drive to the lowest level where no one noticed anything, and have lunch, see a movie, or go bowling. The activities were different every time, but always, they would go back to his small apartment.
“Could you pick me up in say an hour, so we can discuss the details?” This never raised suspicion, as for Mars it was not unusual. His business deals were always discussed in his car. This way, no one would be able to identify who was hiring him, or listen in on what they were hiring him for.
“Can we make it an hour and a half? I have another job to do on the way up.”
“An hour and a half then.” She smiled, and Mars couldn’t help but enjoy how pretty she was. “The usual place.”
“See you then.” Mars grinned and pushed another button to end the conversation. This was going to be a good afternoon he thought. He had a job worth $30,000 and a date with Vennah lined up.
He had been shocked and ecstatic when she had first contacted him a few months ago. That first phone call had been an actual job, a very little and insignificant job, similar to the one he had today. But, they had spent some time together as old friends, and had very quickly moved their relationship to something more personal. Mars couldn’t help but still feel surprised at it all. He had always remembered Vennah, but attributed that to never being able to have another relationship since that first innocent one. It had never occurred to him, that she might remember him also.
When he had escaped the Mutant Facility, she had been his first thought. The pretty little girl he had held hands with at eleven. He had assumed this was just him though. That he was attached to something from so long ago because he had not had lived any real life since that time. Mars had not known what she would have been told about his sudden disappearance. He had assumed that such a relationship would be very easily forgotten for Vennah, as she was out living a life in the real world. Not shut away and isolated like he had been.
When they had first met up again though; he found out that she had always remembered him as well. She had been told at the time that he had died after falling off a walkway and tumbling down many city levels. She had been surprised when she had found out the truth as an adult, and had volunteered to be the one to negotiate the job with him.
Mars didn’t know very much about the lives of non-mutants. But it still seemed an amazing thing to him, to remember a person from your childhood when you had met so many other people since then. Mars doubted he would remember if the situation were reversed. Now was not a time for enjoyable reminiscing though, Mars decisively reminded himself. Right now he had a job to prepare for. With a moment of sorrow for the natural sunlight which had now passed over, Mars stepped out of the intersection, got into his car and drove back to his small apartment.
Once there, Mars put on his mask. Whilst he did not show up on CityTV cameras, he did still have to consider witnesses, and the mask helped a lot with that. It altered his entire facial structure, as well as skin and hair colorings. He now appeared to have coffee colored skin and deep brown hair like most of the population. His bony, almost feminine face structure now appeared to be something strong and more filled out, with a well-defined jaw-line and lower cheekbones. This was his favorite mask. It was entirely convincing and completely average looking.
In a large suitcase with thick padding, Mars kept his weapons. These were the tools of his trade, and he considered them to be more important than even the planning. Because if an assassin’s weapons failed at a crucial moment then he would most likely be caught. Because of his unique status, Mars could get away with all of it, as long as civilians didn’t catch him in the act. If that happened, he would be on his own. So, he always checked every inch of his weapons meticulously both before and after every job. This included everything from the barrel of the guns, to their cameras, computer systems, internal workings, batteries, ammunition’s and the various chemical cartridges. It was a very thorough check which once would have taken him much longer than it did now.
With his weapons passing his inspection; Mars double-checked his mask, and put a shirt on which made him seem more muscled than he really was. He then took the suitcase, lovingly placed it on the passenger side seat of his car and drove off to the transit elevator two streets away. The elevator would take his car up to the correct city and floor with much less time than driving up through the confusion of roads connecting the buildings of every floor along the way. It was a much faster, and less stressful, way to travel up the 1542 stories to the 12th floor of 34th city level. It could cause ear pains, dizziness and headaches, but, Mars would have suffered all the same symptoms driving up. At least this way, he reasoned, he could do something to dull the effects. He did this with incredibly loud music, which had a lot of bass, beat and electro-sonic pulses.
As the transit elevator took him up, and the music blasted away, Mars loaded the chemical cartridges into the top; and the weapons ammunitions into the bottom of his favorite gun. He then inserted a fresh battery for the computer systems and turned it on. While the gun quickly ran a systems check, Mars searched through the document files on his wrist attachment for the image of the target. By the time he found the correct image the gun was fully online. He pointed the gun at the image projection and pressed a little green button on the side of the screen to tell it to upload the image. The screen quickly blinked and displayed the image with a number of options. Mars pressed “Designate Target” and watched patiently while the gun processed the information into its various software systems.
While the elevator continued up, almost at the correct city and level now. Mars took a moment to appreciate his gun. He really did love this gun. He was proud of it. The gun did not have any name as yet, Mars had never been happy enough on any one name, and didn’t want to just allocate it a letter and numerals. He had built this gun himself with the aid of only a few stolen military secrets. In the end the only secret he had used in the final design had been a few of the software programs, the rest had been his own development. Even the weapons ammunition was his creation, unique to him only. Self-propelled bullets with a computer chip and lethal chemical release on impact for extra insurance. The bullets Mars used could travel as far as they needed to in order to reach the target. They did not rely on a trigger release, and could even go around corners. There was nothing else around which could hope to match the efficiency of this gun and its ammunition. This gun did everything, and it did it all quietly, quickly and with a lethal efficiency which could not be matched. It really should have a name Mars thought.
“City 34, Floor 12” the elevator announced blandly as Mars regretfully shut off his music.
As the doors opened, Mars pushed a button for his G.P.S and told it to take him to “The back window of SMP Laboratories” The car replied by speeding out, ignoring all the road rules that most cars were government programmed to follow. A very short while later, the car stopped, as instructed, outside of a very ordinary looking clear glass window.
There was no sign outside of this window. Mars must have driven past it a hundred times or more and not realized what it was. “SMP” stood for “Synthetic Meat Production.” This was the Laboratory that provided the Fifty Cities with all their Synthetic Meat. People ate well because of this Laboratory. In a few minutes, people would continue to eat just as well under new management of the Testing Department.
Mars noted that the staff were standing exactly as his client had said they would be. His employer for this job was the only person not as his own bench. Mars frowned; he thought that the man was being needlessly obvious by standing as far away from the glass as possible. Still, if his client were caught for his own stupidity, it would not affect Mars at all. He cast his gaze to those closest to the window and found his target. James L’Shaw was looking curiously back at the car. Mars noted to himself that stalled as he was, in the middle of an intersection outside of a random office window, he would need to do this job faster than he currently was.
Mars wound down the car window facing the Testing Department. Through the window, he pointed his gun at the target. The computer screen of the gun came to life.
On-Board Video Documentation – Recording.
Vital Organs Scan – Complete.
Obstacles Scan – Bullet-proof Safety Glass.”The monitor then showed a new pop-up.
“Approve release of Chemical Cartridge MY2 to remove Bullet-proof Safety Glass.”Mars pressed the section which read “Yes.”
The blue chemical cartridge shot out of the top of the gun, splashed against the glass and disintegrated it. Mars glanced to see workers of the lab screaming and moving away in fear.
“No more obstacles.”The computer stated on its screen. “Approve lethal release and indicate kill level.”
Mars pressed “Moderate Over-Kill”
“Kill level ‘M.O.K.’ information sending to bullets.”The screen showed blood-drops zooming across from right to left for a half a second before stating, “Information sent. Indicate readiness. Please note: This action cannot be undone once you approve bullet release.”
Mars pressed “Release,” and watched six bullets fly out towards the target, through the missing window and around a number of desks before connecting. Two shots in each lung, one in the heart, and one in the head. This kill was such a waste of his brilliant gun, Mars thought to himself, as he told the gun’s computer to stop recording and to send the file to his wrist attachment.
“GPS” Mars spoke to the car. “Take me to the transit elevator.” The car zoomed off on its own as Mars disassembled and checked his gun, before storing it in the case, together with his mask and muscle-shirt, in a hidden compartment he had built inside of the passenger side seat.
It was from this same compartment that he pulled out a new, clean shirt which he put on as he told the transit elevator to take him to the “Top Floor.” Normally he would never go to meet anyone with his gun and equipment still inside of his car, but he trusted Vennah, and would be late to meet her if he went all the way back down again, only to turn around and go up. He did wish he had showered before heading out, now that he realized he wasn’t going to have time to go home before meeting her.
* Continued in Part Two – http://www.bukisa.com/articles/446031_mars-olivier-part-two-motive-to-mars
Don’t like ads? The complete Mars Olivier is now available as a PDF for $2.50 usd through Lulu. http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/mars-olivier/15106263