It was an unassuming place by all accounts. It stood there off the beaten path but welcoming to those wanting of a beverage or two. Or so it seemed. John and Terry were on their way home after a series of meetings during the day when they drove by in their hovercraft and decided to stop. As soon as the pair walked up to the entrance, they were met by the Bouncer who unemotionally proclaimed that only Terry was really welcomed here.
When the two inquired as to why, they were told that no one of blue skin was allowed inside. When the two pressed the issue, saying it was ridiculous in this day and age, they came nose to barrel with an old fashion, but still lethal, shotgun. The Bouncer simply stated that should they try to enter, they would be blown to bits. Both of them. When Terry asked why both of them, he was told, "Because you brought Blueskin with you!"
Feeling rightly discriminated upon, the two attempted to gain entrance. John immediately grabbed for the shotgun when it went off right in John's face. As his head rolled down the steps, the gun went off again in Terry's direction and in seconds only his torso remained standing. The bouncer just stood there, unemotional, and called for "cleanup at the entrance." Soon, the bodies were quickly carried off and all was back to "normal."
The Monster was alive and well.
Star Date 3096.14
Water on Mars! It used to be a pipe dream. That was back centuries ago, in the 21st Century to be precise.
Now, in the 31st Century, 1,000 years hence, the landscape has indeed changed. Over the years, discrimination, while not usually this horrid, was rather commonplace. In a large, multicultural city like Sandstone, the disease was still rampant. It was as if the citizens were living in the 20th and 21st Centuries, not the 31st.
Cities now stand where thousands of years ago only a sand swept landscape existed. It is very much a multicultural metropolis now with inhabitants from across the galaxy. Travel to and from the Red Planet now only takes a matter of hours whereas long ago it could take months to get here.
To the casual observer, the planet's development seems normal enough. Progress and scientific achievement have been on a steady pace to deliver to the masses what has been needed. Though there have been ups and downs amidst the socio-cultural wars over the past fifty years or so, mostly any upheaval has been kept to a minimum.
Much of this relatively calm state has been the result of actions and governing legislated by one Admiral Martin Alvarez, current governor of the Sandstone Colony and a descendant of Vulcan heritage. He is joined on the Leadership Council by Commander Suzanne Coppersmith, whose descendants arrived from Earth on the third mission to Mars.
Not too far from Sandstone is another, more recently developed region, called Mariah. It's not as developed as Sandstone and has a much more rebellious culture and population. It seems hellbent on disruptive behavior and disdains progress, both tenets loathed by Governor Alvarez and his leadership council.
Even though the two regions have yet to clash in war, neither are prepared to do battle with an unknown force, so powerful that destruction is imminent. The Monster is already here.
Fighting a known, visible entity is one thing, but this version is unseen and unheard. Its invisibility is seemingly invincible. It creeps into the valley of the countryside not caring what's in its path. Those who come in contact with it are forever changed. The colony Mariah found this out the hard way.
Once embedded into the colony, the Monster made itself at home. Even though the residents were used to being selfish and rather brutal, they were no match for the Monster. Over time, and a very short one at that, they were overcome and, eventually, destroyed by self-inflicted madness.
Then, the Monster moved on. Next in its path was Sandstone Colony, population 8 million. An established city of respectable size, at least by Earth standards, Sandstone had obtained a status of refinement, culture, leader in education and every modern refinement one could think of. Its residents were progressive minded and forward thinking. Just the kind of tandem the Monster loved to obliterate. Given time, it would.
Over the years, Sandstone had evolved into a thriving metropolis and an enticing tourist mecca that attracted people from all over the galaxy. Tourists came from as close by as Saturn and Uranus, not to mention as far away as Vulcan and Romulus, two favorites of Earth.
Even in the 31st Century, evil still exists and can run rampant in the streets. The Monster is sometimes mistaken for the evil it really is. It can only be felt, sensed as in a horrid nightmare, terribly gone awry. Only those very sensitive to it might recognize it and be able to try and combat it.
Admiral Alvarez was one such person. He and his ancestors had been witness to it centuries before. They did not defeat it; they only minimized it for the time being.
Hearing rumors and listening to dangerous, idle talk, the Admiral advised the leadership council that circumstances would have to change and significantly if they were to avoid what happened to Mariah. For all they knew, the Monster had not only arrived in the city but had been present for some time.
Although this was a Martian colony, they knew they had to rely on their Vulcan heritage of logic and level headedness to get the best of the Monster. Whether or not they could defeat it was another matter entirely. The fate of Martian civilization was at stake.
The Council was quite proud of all the diseases they had eradicated over the centuries. However, discrimination had not been eliminated, much to their chagrin. What to do with it now and how to best deal with it was the question.
Meanwhile, the Monster was spreading far and wide.
In the spirit of social enlightenment, a crowd started to gather at Colony Centre for a political rally. Soon it began to have the look of a group of intellectual, progressive and civic-minded folks who only wanted sound and civilized suggestions for the next political race at hand. They appeared not in the mood for tyrants of the past nor any negative discourse that would run afoul of logic and even temperament.
In short, they wanted to support the candidate with the best ideas for solving pressing issues of the day. They wanted to leave personalities and emotions out of it. A purely Vulcan stance.
Still, a small group of detractors in the crowd began to verbally and loudly question everything the moderator wanted to say before introducing the candidates for Mayor. Their outbursts were just the opposite of what the majority of the crowd wanted to hear.
"Get that pink-skinned son-of-a bitch off the stage," they shouted.
"We don't need no blue-skinned bastard leading this city. All they want is only what's good for their people," insisted one protester.
As one of the candidates rose to speak, a bright beam of light from a phaser erupted from center stage right and the candidate crumpled to the stage, dead in a pool of blood.
This sent the crowd screaming and running in all directions for fear of what might come next.
Then, the sound of another phaser was heard and the moderator succumbed to the stage floor, his head split in two.
The dissidents scrambled through the crowd and out of sight. Their mission accomplished. Disruption became the order of the day. Murder was the side show. The Monster was the main attraction.
The Leadership Council, having witnessed the ordeal, was in shock that something this abhorrent could take place in mid-day in this society. They saw the monster first hand and couldn't stop the deed. They had no idea of its presence and intent. What would they do? What could they do?
The dissidents were being pursued and when caught would be taken to the Death Colony on Saturn to be put to death. No trial, no sentencing. Just death to any dissident, especially to those who murder.
The few times the Mars Colony had to deal with situations like this, death to the violators had been the only viable solution. It may not have been the best but it was the only deterrent they had come up with thus far. As a result, crime, particularly murder, was down to practically nothing.
The Leadership Council was still distressed that no other non violent measure had been tried to counter the actions of the few dissidents who apparently were obsessed with disruption. It was their way or no way. Sensing that this monster was beginning to gain strength left the Council perplexed. They were dealing with an uprising they hadn't faced in centuries.
This was particularly disturbing to Commander Coppersmith, who had experienced the Monster first hand years ago even on a progressive, but troubled planet like Earth.
During an emergency meeting of the Leadership Council that afternoon, following the assassinations at Colony Centre, Commander Coppersmith, an historian of ancient Earth, recalled a prolific writer of mid-20th Century Earth, Rod Serling, who said this about civilized societies . . . "No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized."
The Leadership Council held this truth above all else.
The Commander continued “Serling went on to say this about a darkness that pervades the landscape, a society’s inner soul if you will, ‘A sickness known as hate. Not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ - but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether.'"
But, it was not just hate.
Coppersmith declared "We must initiate a continuous counter offensive, starting with this council. Then we spread it to our people and let it grow until our darkness morphs into light and becomes unwanted by the Monster.”
Summing up, she said “I know this will take time, more than we realize, probably. However, I’m confident we can accomplish what we have to. We’ve not only Mars’ present society to consider but future generations as well. The Earth during the 20th Century had a rough time surviving.
Here on Mars in the 31st Century, peaceful and progressive as it is, society is being challenged by the Monster. Discrimination and racism still menace our people. Will the Monster ever be defeated? Who knows. A democratic and diverse society, however, must have the final say.”
After a resounding standing ovation, the Council set about forming a long term plan to overtake the Monster. Not surprisingly, the Commander was put in charge.
Even then, with the Monster, in all its ugliness and vile nature, not bound by normal parameters, its existence may be for all time. As it was back on 20th Century Earth, racism raised its abhorrent head in corporate board rooms, on playgrounds, in the grocery store and now has spread out into the galaxy. The Martian Colony Sandstone is merely the latest stop on this nightmare train to society's destruction.
The Martian people didn't quite know how to deal with the Monster, just like the people on Earth before them. Try as they might, logical thinking and clear-headed behavior proved insufficient. But being aware of the Monster may be the difference maker now. Even though it would spread its evil intentions throughout the galaxy, the Monster would be leaving Mars, the damage having been extensive, and seeds planted.