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The Martian Tragedy


ONE
Though never before loved on Mars, Akbari, premier of Tharsis was now revered.
The high regard brought hitherto unknown delight to the leader's heart, b yet he worried
that popularity could lead to popular intrusion into his exercise of power. Still, no matter
how shallow, the affection of the citizenry gave spirit to the self-proclaimed premier as
he hunkered down to do battle with the immense power of the solar system.
After centuries suffering from the effects of living on a planet not by nature suited
for their species (despite the assurance and hopes of an earlier century), the Martian
citizens, sickly, chronically depressed, and doomed to early death, now put their faith in
the Martian politician who stood like a lion rampant, roaring with pride in the face of a
domineering Mother Earth. During the decade of his administration, the common people
had had few good words to say about the glad-handing governor, but now Premier
Akbari's picture hung in taverns and homes. Although he ruled only one of the three
Martian provinces, his portrait was on view across the planet. Even in Dolores Town, the
skid row of Tharsis, the new hero was venerated and blessed daily in the slurred
mumblings of the dispossessed.
Head up, back straight Akbari leaped down the roseate hallway of the
Administration Building, the seat of his government and his home. The pink Martian
adobe walls resounded with the clomping of his boots. Three tribunes (officials elected
by the popular vote for oversight of the executive branch's daily doings) scurried
breathlessly with their own less vigorous hops behind the premier. Adapting to low
gravity, Martians hopped like kangaroos (hence the derogatory Earth slang for a Martian
was „roo'). It pleased Akbari to make the legislators hop briskly. Exhibiting physical
vigor let him strike back at the smug tribunes' unspoken notion that he was a lesser man
than they. However much the Tharsisian people now esteemed him, in the eyes of his
governmental colleagues, the chief of state was a man of mere oratory and charm, a hack
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