Author : Mary Ann Back

Dr. Klatua wasn’t dead – yet. But ten minutes into my session, the only thing keeping me from killing him was the Heja Root I’d smoked earlier in space dock. He was a typical Martian, four-foot-ten, reptilian green with scales here and tentacles there. His voice was shrill and warbled like an Aldarian Loon.

“Bibi, Earth women have a hard time adjusting to marriage here on Mars. What you’re feeling is completely normal. Embrace those feelings. Own them.”

“Maybe you didn’t hear me right. I said my husband, Ashat, wants another wife; two wives – at the same time.”

“That is his right as a Martian – Mormon hybrid, Bibi.”

“But he’s invoked Rune-Pfar!”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Like I could end up dead!” A bronze figurine of Mensuc, the Martian goddess of war, mocked me from the coffee table.

“It’s true, Rune-Pfar is dangerous but Ashat has given you no choice. Accept your fate, Bibi, whatever it may be. With acceptance comes peace. ”

“Seriously? I’m paying you $250 an hour and the best you’ve got is ‘it sucks to be you?’

“Such a willful and impertinent creature you are! You have never assimilated into our culture. Human nature clouds your judgment and blinds you to the truth. You pay me for counsel and so I have given. I can do no more. Leave me.”

“Assimilate this, Moron!” I grabbed the figurine of Mensuc, hurled it through the air, and nailed him in his nardroids. Oddly, I felt better.

He cupped himself with a tentacle, glared at me through the tears welling in all four of his eyes, and scrawled ANGER DISPLACEMENT in bold letters across my chart.

“I see that!” I said, snatching the figurine on my way out of his office.

Halfway back to space dock, the distant thwack of a slamming door and a quavering curse reached my ears.

“Die Earth bitch!”

So much for psychobabble.


My star runner was a Condor XL, cerulean blue, and fully loaded with holographic G.P.S., antimatter hyper-drive, and fine Corinthian leather. It was one of a kind, like me. From Earth, also like me. Not so long ago, Ashat found us irresistible. We sat frozen in space dock, waiting for me to stop crying. Damned tears.

I glanced at the figurine riding shotgun in my jump seat. I wasn’t sure why I’d stolen it. The real Mensuc was a hard core bad ass, strong, and certain – everything I needed to be. And she’d have smacked the crap out of me if she saw me crying. Maybe that’s why I brought it along. I needed a good smack now and then.

I lit a spliff of Heja Root and inhaled so deeply it swirled inside my soul. Screw Rune-Pfar and screw Ashat. If my destiny held danger, it would be a danger of my own choosing – and not the whim of a Martian hybrid who knew nothing of love.
I nudged the Condor into open space and gradually set her free. Mars and Ashat disappeared into the black abyss of the wake I left behind. A boundless blanket of stars stretched before me like a lighted path to freedom. At the end of that path lay the Novarian Frontier. It seemed as good a destination as any. I slipped the Condor into hyper-drive.

Mensuc and I had worlds to conquer.


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