Author: Alzo David-West

Ubn Kal-Zar, sovereign prince of Neo Ara, was extremely pleased with his family’s accomplishments and his kingdom—a vast, atmospherically controlled, self-sustaining network city encircling the equator of Mars. That Ubn’s line and nation would be the pioneers of the Martian Age was never apparent in the twentieth century, but became increasingly so into the mid-twenty-first, after the famed linear city was constructed on Earth-based Old Ara. Indeed, in retrospect, the off-Earth development was self-evident. After all, did the great civilizations from Sumer to Babylon not form in the midst of far-flung, torrid terrains, mostly dry, desolate, and dead? And what was Mars but a massive desert land, something within the age-old experiences of the earthy desert peoples.

Ubn Kal-Zat, Ubn Kal-Zan, and Ubn Kal-Zar were the three royal scions who successively commissioned and turned the network city from a speculative fantasy into a concrete reality, establishing Neo Ara to exploit a wealth of natural resources—frozen water, inorganic elements, wind energy, geothermal energy—and to honor the forefathers and the foremothers. Neo Ara, a city built for men, women, and children, the scions maintained, not for machines, and founded on the principles of ecology, efficiency, and equanimity, under the benevolent will of the all-powerful All Knowing. While the Ubn dynasty prided itself on the law-abiding, theocratic, absolute monarchy on the red wanderer—home to 2.9 million subjects and stably growing—rival governments, organizations, and industries on the planetary neighbor Earth were unfavorable to the Martian Kingdom, making several attempts to undermine, even overthrow, it by means of ZamaNet hacking, space embargoes, and agitational propaganda.

The first group to be tried for the attempts of civic disruption were some two-hundred partisans of the ultra-leftist Popular Planetist Party, who were publicly beaten and beheaded on the charges of terrorism, sedition, and atheism. In a way, the network city was a fortress of durability and rectitude—because of its place, population, and personalism. The liberal, progressive, and radical tendencies made a hue and cry over Neo Ara, condemning it as abominable and unconscionable, a model of space tyranny and despotism—an abattoir of transhuman rights abuses and crimes against humanity. While the Martian Kingdom was not free of imperfections—despite its advanced design—Ubn Kal-Zar and his ruling family had a mass base of support: the chieftains, the clerics, the intellectuals, the magistrates, and the mothers, whose loyalty earned the social groups material privileges, spiritual followings, lifelong tenures, legal influence, and domestic stipends—along with maids, mansions, swimming pools, and escalator schools.

Ubn Kal-Zar was on the third floor of his palatial villa, observing the miles and miles of the network city composed of serene districts, farms, forests, gravitrons, heliostats, parks, preserves, roads, temples, and waterways. Beyond the rim of the urbanscape, the outlands were cold, dry, and stern. The ancient sun poured over the realm. The prince held up his palms, closed his eyes, and said, “The All Knowing is good and wise.”