Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"I often sit and wonder all the while my heart's a ponder, what faith brings forth today." The Wishing Well Saga
I first saw this wonderful woman named Icara when I was at a fund raiser. She was this stunning lady, with long black hair and hazel eyes. Her lips were full and rounded, pouting ever so slightly. Her legs were long and sensuous, while her waist complimented her full breast. To me, it was love at first sight, you know that feeling that you only get, maybe once or twice in your life? Well, with Icara, that was it for me. My name is Odex, I did outsourcing for Mayor Harper. I'd met the Mayor during his hard fought election battle between the incumbent Mayor Hughs, before she was suddenly found dead in her home, from an apparent accidental suicide. The poor woman had been drinking excessively, and she had a weapon, a bad combination. The official report stated that she had been drinking and stumbled over some furniture, all the while, carrying a loaded weapon. The weapon went off, and she died. Her body wasn't even discovered for about three days. Nasty business, politics. But. Icara was somehow removed from it all, even though she was the sister of the Mayor, she managed to keep a low profile, preferring to concentrate on humanitarian issues, like the Children of Mars project. The project got started because Icara was one of them. One of the lucky ones, who managed to grow up and find something beyond the social stigma of being an orphan on Mars. Like I said, my job, among many, was to do the ususal, security was also my speciality. So. I guess you could say that I was a Jack of all Trades. This skill would come in handy, because one night, I was at home, doing what a bachelor does on a weeknight, basically, I was drinking beer and playing interactive games. I got a call from Icara, she sounded upset.
"Whoa. Slow down, Icara. What's wrong?" I managed to put my beer aside.
"I need your help. Someone is targeting the kids from the orphanage. The one I was brought up in." Her voice was like music, even when she was upset.
"What do you mean, when you say someone is targeting the orphans?"
"I have a letter. A threat actually."
"What kind of a threat?"
"They want money or they are going to harm one of the children." She began to cry.
I watched her for a long moment, then: "Did you call the police?"
"No! They said if I call the police, that, they would surely harm one of the children. I don't know what to do. Please help me, Odex."
Hmm. Here I was, sitting at home, eating a sandwich that my social robot had made for me. When the woman I often thought about, suddenly calls me. And needs my help. "How did you get my number?"
"You gave it to me at a party. Don't you remember?"
If I was at a party, I wouldn't remember anything from the night before. I had a substance abuse problem. I know. It is ugly. And even uglier to admit, specially to myself. "I don't know what you want me to do for you?"
"Just come to me. Or. Have I overestimated our friendship?" She was looking like she was going to hang up. I assured her that we were friends, the kind that could count on each other. When I left my apartment, my Siamese cat Chow was busy begging me for more food and attention. Hell. He had a full bowl of food, he just wanted attention.
When I finally got to where Icara was at, she was a mess with concern. The orphanage was a serious project that she had managed to draw her entire family into. The Mayor had actually created social concern through his office. The previous Mayor had done everything she could to cut social programs that could help the poor and the disenfranchised. But. That was the difference between Mars and Earth. Earth had gone completely Idocratic, showing all sorts of concerns for the environment, human rights, hell, they had even outlawed money. Go figure, what type of people don't like money, right? But. Icara saw something in the policy of helping those who were less fortunate. And in this case, the logic was obvious. She had been a victim of the system, which had abandoned her when she was little and helpless. We'd all heard about the horrible abuses the Children of Mars underwent. Most at the hands of the Catholic Church and the perverted priest and nuns, that used religion, as a cover, for depravity. It did irreparable damage to the Institutions of Hope. So. When those who wanted to honestly help the poor came along, there was all this baggage that they had to overcome, let alone, do the good work that needed to be done. I examined the letter. It was signed by someone calling themselves Zarustra. It was an urban legend, this Zarustra was a clown, that was suppose to be the most horrible clown to ever live. There was this urban legend about a band of clowns that came to Mars, about a hundred years ago, they formed a tour, went to all the, then, small towns and villages, doing carnival stuff. But. They would steal and murder and rape, leaving chaos in their wake. Zarustra was suppose to be the leader of the evilness. He became legend. So. The Clowns of Mars became an infamous concept, that parents would tell their kids about, in order to keep them from wandering outside the protectiveness of the domes. I finally convinced Icara to call the police. She really didn't want to, but I told her it was for the good of the orphans. She finally gave in. After all the confusion had settled down. I got with Icara at her brother's estate, who was the Mayor of Diamond City. The Mayor and his wife were very concerned, but their concern seemed to be focused mostly on Icara's safety. This I understood. Rich people always cared more about themselves than others. It was just the way things were. Hmm? Where have I heard that before? I think, thinking like that was used to justify Slavery and Jim Crow, a few hundred years ago, back on Earth. Were we Slaves to the super rich? I convinced the family to let me drive Icara home and make sure she was safe.
"What a mess." Icara finally uttered in the aircar.
"What?" I had a few other things on my mind.
"This Zarustra. He is real, yes?" Her normally lovely voice trembled.
"Oh. Naw. Zarustra is nothing more than an urban legend. Some asshole is trying to scare you into giving him lots of money. It is extortion actually."
"I don't know. We kids at the orphanage all knew that Zarustra was real. Strange and horrible things would happen to us, and we all knew that it was him." Icara began to weep again.
"Look, Icara. You did the right thing. I'll do my best to get to the bottom of this. I'm good at finding out stuff. I don't know why, but I have a talent for getting my nose into other people's business. That is why your brother, the Mayor, calls on me from time to time."
"I can tell you that the threat is very real, Odex."
"I'm not saying that it isn't. It is just that, evil people, try and feed off of other people's fears, in order to turn a buck. It has been like that, like, forever. Politicians do it all the time. Not that I'm saying that Mayor Harper is doing anything like that, I'm just saying."
It was a difficult time for everyone. At the Harper estate, there was much concern, as would be expected. The so called Zarustra had managed to directly contact the Mayor. While a large sum of money was demanded, there was an odd request made. It had to be delivered by Icara, herself, in person. That raised a red flag. I was curious as to why the money had to be delivered by her. I advised the family, after the so called officials had dissipated, that there was something very wrong with the scenario. You see, in most cases, like this, all the extortioners wanted was the money. They could case less who made the final drop. And the truth of the matter was, that, most rich people would never allow themselves to be put in a situation, where they could be kidnaped and placed in further financial obligation. This was known and understood, the rule of the game were very clear. In this case, I advised the family, who were worried beyond reasoning, that it sounded like a thinly veiled attempt to get at Icara. I could only guess as to the real motive, but I suspected that money played a far lesser role than it seemed. Not to say that they were not asking for a bunch of bucks, they were. You know, the extortioners would harm one of the kids if the money was not paid. In most cases, no one would even care. I mean, I hate to say it, but these were children, the Children of Mars, that no one really wanted. For whatever reason, they had be abandoned, cast aside like so much trash. I know it sounds harsh, but those were the facts. So. Why and how someone decided to play this game, where, in truth, most rich people would just go on, and not give a crap, was curious. Really. Curiouser and curiouser this whole thing became. Not that my voice was the only one in the room, they had so called experts, and I was just another talking head. But. I liked Icara. I thought she was beautiful and smart and funny and sweet. Yeah. I had a crush on her, but, it was a healthy one. I knew that nothing could ever become of it, because she came from a rich family now, and I was just some poor working slob, horny for a woman I could never have. Except in my dreams. It was awhile and I waited patiently, finally Icara and I had a moment.
"How are you holding up?" I just wanted to get a feel for her level of anxiety.
She had been given some medication so that she could relax, and she did so in a plush leather chair. "How can people be so evil, Odex?"
I shrugged. "All my life. I've asked myself that same question."
"So. You don't think that Zarustra is really behind any of this?"
"Okay. Let's reason this out. What would Zarustra need money for?"
"Zarustra is an evil demon. What would a demon like that care about money? He cares about hurting people, stealing their souls. You know? Supernatural stuff. Not lots and lots of money. No. This is a real person, trying to get rich."
Her eyes seemed to acknowledge my words but only for a moment. "When you are raised in an orphanage, you know that the squid-clown is real. I know of children, that just up and disappeared, Zarustra got them."
"It is an urban legend, Icara. Mothers tell their kid these thing, to discourage them from wandering too far from the protectiveness of the habitat domes. This guy, would have to be over a hundred years old, the legend is that old."
"Not if it is a demon, like you said."
Ah. She had me there. "Well. No. Not if it was that. But. Like I said, why would it want all that money?"
"Maybe it wants to leave Mars. You know, they are colonizing on distant star systems now. Things are not like they used to be, where colonization was limited to only our solar system."
I don't know. Maybe in sum way. Icara was exactly right. After all, stranger things had happened on Mars. I mean, who would have thought, that when we finally got the political will, because big business saw the mining potential of the Martian land grab, that Elves and other alien species, would also suddenly make themselves known in an obvious way? You have to ask yourself, why now? Was it that the mining and industrialization of Mars, would prove to be so lucrative, that the others wanted in on it? What history showed, was that alien presence, intelligent alien species, had been in contact with mankind, since the beginning. The problem with mankind, was that they were so deeply embedded in the human psyche, that no one really noticed all the alien influences, until, we actually, seriously, sought to make the stars our habitation. Oh, there was the obvious reverse engineering, that ushered in the era of technology. I mean, just think about mankind, for millennia, content to be farmers and shepherds. Then, suddenly, on the time line of mankind, technology booms. Coincidence? I think not. Political culture played a super big hand in suppressing the truth, first and foremost, because the mega rich couldn't figure out a way to capitalize off the alien presence. So. What do you do, tell everyone that those angels and demons that the Holy Bible talks about, are really aliens from some distant universe? Do you tell everybody that God is real and that the birth of Jesus Christ was the first birth of a clone? Cloned from God himself? No. The society was so deeply brainwashed into believing our own self importance, that it would take nothing less than the Second Coming, in order to make the sleepers wake up. But. Wake up mankind did. We discovered that there were all sorts of planets and trade going on. Wealth to be had and civilizations to be plundered. The demon seed had been well planted in the DNA of mankind's psyche. Greed and war quickly spread wherever mankind went. There would be no peace as the hopeful hand dreamed of. The problem was that we encountered species that were just as greedy and warlike as ourselves. So. The race was on to get the best and the most horrible technology out there. War. Even in the cosmos, was big business and mankind wasn't going to be left holding the bag. We had a lot of catching up to do and we were genius at figuring out ways to kill.
Eva sat me down in the elaborate study at their estate. "What is it that you want, Odex?"
I was at a loss. "I'm sorry? What is this about?"
"You have been a trusted friend of my husband's for years. But. In the course of time, I've had to learn a hard lesson. Friends are never what they seem." It was about that time that a woman came in with a business case filled with all sorts of money.
I just knee jerked reacted. "What in the freak is this?" Just about that time, in rushed Icara and the Mayor. "What is going on here?"
Larry looked disappointed at Eva. "Really, honey? Not everyone is the late Mary Hughs."
Icara was equally upset. "Why are you doing that, Eva? Odex is trying to help me. He has nothing to do with the threat to the Children of Mars. I was the one who asked him for help. He actually had to be convinced to come onboard."
Eva shook her lovely head. "No one can be trusted. I'm trying to protect my family. Specially you, Icara. You were not brought up into all this corruption. It is par-for-course in a wealthy family. But. Coming from your humble upbringing, you are naive to the ways of the rich and powerful."
Larry threw his hands up in the air. "And this is your way of protecting the family. Odex might be the only person we can trust in this matter. We can't turn on each other."
Icara took a seat. "No one believes me when I tell them that Zarustra is real. He is behind all of this."
I briefly took Icara's hand. "I do. I believe you."
The problem was that I had started to open my mind to the possibility, that at some level, Icara was telling the truth, as she knew it. I mean, just look at my limited views of religion and the supernatural? I believed all sorts of crap. Cloning invented by angels thousands of years before the first science would even entertain the idea as reality. Advanced beings living amongst humans, well, we all learned that, that was true, when we began to reach for the stars. So. Why couldn't this demon Zarustra actually exist? I gave it a lot of thought, what if, an alien had taken on the persona of that Zarustra, masqueraded as this boogeyman? Terrorizing little children. What better place to do this but in an orphanage? Icara was convinced that some of the children that went missing were actually victims of this horrible beast. What if she were right? Then the big question came to me. How does Icara play into all of this? Why involve her in an extortion scheme? It all went back to what I had told Icara. What would a demon want with money? Then I remembered something a priest had told me years ago, Mother Hannah was her name. She once said that the devil desires those things that is of men. What that meant was that, the wealth and the riches of the material world, were the domain of the Fallen Angels. This was the devil's Kingdom to the North? In passing, it all started to make a lot of sense. Why mankind could not find peace, even when he ventured into the stars. Because that same seed of damnation was within him. It took greed and depravity to pay for the ventures that led to the discoveries on other worlds. It was history repeating itself all over again. Like when they discovered the New World, across the sea. What motivated the exploration? Was it the need to find out new things? No. It was greed. The Queen of Spain wanted gold and natural resources. And what was fueling the colonization and exploration of the stars? Greed. The discovery of massive amounts of gold and other precious metals on various worlds. They even discovered that oil, which was thought for centuries, to be just a product of bio-degradation, was in fact, something all very different. Oil was discovered on worlds, where there was no bio-degradation, it came about from some other geological processes. This was called alien oil. On Earth, it came about from one source, but, on other planets, that same substance, was created through very different processes. Wealth was everywhere, and came about in very different ways, according to the alien geology of the different worlds.
I was following a lead and got a call. When I arrived at the building, at the other end was this figure. It was a woman. When I got closer, I discovered it was Icara. She was standing in the night light, completely naked. Her back to me as if she were basking in the night light. Something about what she was doing seemed liberating. "Icara? What's going on?" I looked about for trouble but found none.
"Have you ever bathed in moon light?" Icara's voice seemed subdued and distant. Her body was exquisite. All the right curves, from behind, her hips flowed and her shoulders were so perfect. Man. She was a gorgeous woman. She slowly turned towards me. Her thick full breasts moving ever so slightly. She came to me and then, placed her hands over my face and kissed me on the mouth. "I have to save them." She uttered.
I was aroused and confused at the same time. "Save whom?"
"I have to save my sisters and brothers." She stated and then began to wander on off. I followed at a pace.
"We will get to the bottom of this. I promise." I watched the woman move gracefully across the room. Her naked body calling to me, it seemed. I wanted her.
"Have you ever heard of the Gypsies of Mars?"
Everyone had. They were some of the first indentured laborers to settle on Mars. "Yeah. Why?" She stopped and I looked at her beautiful form, then she turned and walked away.