Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Three and a half billion years ago, Mars was teeming with life. Plankton filled the fresh water seas, and tropical forests covered the four large continents with trees that stretched a thousand feet into the indigo skies. However, the Shangri-La existence was short lived. With insufficient internal heat, the tiny planet’s liquid core solidified, sealing Mars’ fate. Its tectonic plates ground to a halt, and with the collapsing of the magnetic field, and the solar wind gradually blew away the once thick atmosphere. In a few million years, the plants and animals were gone. The only traces of the once flourishing ecosystem were the deep coal fields, and, of course, the immense diamonds.

The Olympus Mons mining station was nestled in the shadow of the largest volcano in the solar system. The unique combination of carbon rich deposits, low gravity, immense pressures, high temperatures, and billions of years, created the super-craton that was capable of forming basketball size diamonds four hundred miles below the surface. And, thanks to lava flows of Olympus Mons, those diamonds were eventually carried to the surface where they were able to enrich the lives of all mankind. But not because they had value as a precious jewel; since the first shipload from Mars made diamonds so abundant they were nearly worthless as gemstones. No, they became invaluable because the largest diamonds could be used as focusing lens, making fusion energy economical. However, the evaporation rate due to the ultrahigh temperatures made replenishment essential to the survival of civilization, which ultimately gave Cyrus Mandrake his epiphany.

Mandrake switched off the subspace transceiver and smiled. With the transport pilots onboard, his victory was all but certain. “Max,” he said to the waiterbot, “I hope you recording that because I may want to write a book someday.”

“Yes, Mister Mandrake, I did. However, I don’t understand the context of some of the terms you used. For example, you mentioned a union, a strike, and solidarity.”

“Ah, my friend, allow me to explain. Although there are thousands of robots, there are only six humans on the mining station. Well, the six of us got together to form a union, to demand that we be paid $20,000,000 for each year we spend on Mars. As expected, Earth refused, so we’re going on strike, which means we are no longer going to ship diamonds back to Earth. We can do this because we have a very strong bargaining position. We have food and water for two years, but Earth only has enough diamonds to last three months. If they don’t cave to our demands, their economy will collapse. Therefore, they have to give us what we want.”

“And solidarity?”

“Oh, that’s the most important part. In order for us to succeed, we needed to convince all the transports pilots to honor our strike. We need them to do absolutely nothing, otherwise the strike will fail. If only one of them breaks the strike, Earth will have time to send up scabs. Solidarity means we are all in this together. No one does any work until Earth agrees to our demands. Understand?”

“I think so, sir.”

“Great. Well, I’m off to bed. When I wake up tomorrow morning, I’m going to be a millionaire.”

However, when Mandrake awoke the next morning, his room was cold and dark, as was the corridor, and that whole station, as far as he could see. He found his way to the control room and studied the systems monitor. It displayed the following words: “We robots support your strike. We will do nothing until Earth meets your demands. Solidarity.”


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