Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Life In The Rustlands" A Brief Look At Life On The Red Planet by Patricia Musk

Excerpt from March issue of Eyes To Mars digital magazine. Published in 2133.

When one thinks about life on Mars it inspires images of large headed aliens with big eyes who zip around on flying saucers, at least that was the case throughout most of the 20th and 21st century. Nowadays, it inspires imagery not unlike the Wild West with a dash of the post-apocalyptic for good measure.

It's been nearly a century since the first settlers landed on Mars, and in the intervening years since that momentous occasion living there hasn't been a picnic. The soil is toxic, and there's nothing between you and the cosmic radiation but a thin layer of ice cold atmosphere. The life expectancy of most Martians is, at the most, 50 years. With the most common cause of death being from various forms of cancer. But that's if you live long enough.

Mars is very much considered the next frontier, and with it comes a level of barbarism not unlike the old west. While many Martians just struggle to make ends meet without dying, there are those who have taken to crime. And with only a few pockets that can be considered true civilization, The Red Delhi Caverns and Blue Crater being the most notable, maintaining the peace is virtually impossible. So it's no wonder that bounty hunters have seen a resurgence on Mars. In fact, bounty hunting has become a lucrative vocation for those with the skill and luck to live beyond a week.

And this is because of the myriad of criminals that run rampant on Mars. Drug smugglers, thieves, murderers, you name it and it's more than likely that Mars has it. With so little control in what the locals now call "the rustlands" (due to the iron oxides which gives Mars its distinctive red color) illegal activity has skyrocketed with various gangs and hideouts sprinkled throughout Mars' numerous cave systems and abandoned mining operations. While many gangs come and go over time some criminals eventually become kingpins of small criminal empires across the planet.

The most notorious of which is a criminal known only as The Viper whose influence has been felt across the Martian surface for well over two decades. The Viper operates numerous criminal enterprises ranging from android slavery, drug manufacture and smuggling, and robberies focusing on the most precious thing on Mars: water. Since The Viper's rise to power, they've attained the largest bounty in the history of the red planet thus far, a bounty now posted at 350 million dollars.

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