Martin on Mars – The Barsoom Bar and Lounge – Day 2.1

Martin Coswell : April 9, 2151 24:00 to 24:37 hrs

Detective Log: Mars 2.1

Mars gets an extra thirty-seven minutes a day compared to Earth. And that’s led to some interesting habits among the Martians.  Rather than happy hours at five o’clock, Martian drinking establishments offer up discount food and beverages starting at midnight. To correctly observe the ritual, one is to fill their Mars suit drink sacks with the purchased alcoholic beverage of one’s preference and saunter out beneath the stars. Over time the EVA’s became less frequent, and typically are done only when one or both of the Martian Moons are visible. This spectacle is said to be quite worth it. The night cap adventure has become competitive in the nightlife entertainment district, and is on the bucket list of pretty much every tourist that visits Mars.

No moon was out tonight, but I very much wanted to check out the famous Barsoom Bar and Lounge, named after Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantasy Mars stories of long ago. It is the most popular bar on Mars, and happens to be right here on Olympus Mons. In fact, the practically nonexistent atmosphere atop the solar system’s largest volcano makes for incredible views of the universe, and is highly touted by the bar as the absolute best nightcap experience on the planet.

The Barsoom Bar and Lounge is located at the top of a tall spire that almost brushes the top center of Olympus Dome. A dish shaped building resembling a cross between the Seattle Space-needle and the Jetson’s house. It’s meant to look futuristic, to embrace the new age of a dual planet civilization. Fifty years ago that had seemed pretty amazing, but then warp bubble technology had come along and proven Albuquiere to be right. Now humans had spread to thirty-four other worlds with atmospheres much more inviting than the poisonous and thin air of Mars that had been the first step of mankind’s expansion to the stars. Things have changed a lot in the known universe, and now the architecture and style of the Barsoom is considered quaint and quirky, most definitely retro, and on the Picard List of Twenty Places You Must See In The Universe.

I didn’t really care about the popularity of the place, but the view is said to be the best way to see the city all at once. I also wanted a beer, and I’d never had a Martian beer. I wanted to know if it held up to its reputation. So after taking copious amounts of notes based on today’s interview with Daughtry and mulling it over and over in my mind, I found myself taking an elevator up to the Barsoom. There are three overlapping transparent decks that start large in diameter at the top and shrink smaller at the bottom. In this way you can not only look out to the horizon on Mars, but also down at the city, if you are lucky enough to get seated in the outer ring of the decks. I dropped a few plastic Martian dollars on the hostess to make sure I’d get one of those seats.

I sat down and looked out the glass to my right. We were up about a hundred and fifty meters above the ground. It was plenty dark, but you could see where the starlight stopped and the horizon started. Also a few lights from distant facilities shone from outside the dome. You could definitely see quite a distance. Looking down through the glass table and floor I could see the lights of the city spread out below us.

The waitress came by, a pretty brunette girl in her mid-twenties. I ordered a local beer that looked interesting and a steak meal. When the beer arrived I picked it up and walked the floor around once to get a good feel for the layout of the city. I found the correctional facility and was able to orient myself based on where I’d been earlier that day. Being under a dome, the city was, well it very much just a circle. But the streets were also printed out that way, in concentric rings.

Martian infrastructure is pretty much all printed: dome, roads, buildings, water pipes, electrical conduits, air and sewer pipes.  When it’s time to build more space, a fleet of multi-wheeled printer vehicles is deployed, and robot convoys transport the raw materials to and from the site. Soon a blueprint that exists in a computer becomes a city.  Then humans move into the dome and put the finishing touches on everything. That’s how it’s done in the twenty-second century.

I finished my sightseeing and sat back down at my table. My beer was empty so I ordered another. There was a unique taste to it. It’s good, but a little strange, like the air, the water, the food here. They all have a trace of something odd in them. It might be due to the recycling, or the soil of Mars, which eventually would work itself into processed metals, water, air systems, food, people. A planet has a way of getting inside of you, one way or another.

It was about that time that she showed up. A woman walked up to my table by the window and sat down across from me. She wore a long golden gown embellished with metallic gold scales. She was slender and athletic, with blond hair.  Her smile dazzled me with white straight teeth.

“Hello Martin.”  She held that smile.

“Hi Chalie,  what are you doing here?”

She pouted playfully at me.  “Oh, did the big tough guy not need me babysitting him on this assignment? Don’t worry, I’m just supposed to check in and make sure you are getting the cooperation you need from the locals.”

“So far, Broderick has been very helpful.  But that might change.”

“Oh, what gives?”

“He’s under the mistaken belief that Martians don’t commit murder.”  I took another sip from my beer.

“There is some historical precedence to support that theory. On earth, the country of Iceland has virtually zero murders. I’m sure in the beginning it was probably true here on Mars.”

“But why would a Martian Constable hang on to such notions. It doesn’t make sense.”

“It’s likely a cultural phenomena. You know, like saying all Englishmen are polite, or Frenchmen are good lovers. Martians are nice, and they don’t kill you. ”

“Or maybe they do kill you, but they are nice and cover it up well, or they have nice neighbors that help them cover it up.”

Chalie smiled. She’s pretty, not beauty pageant pretty, but that smile most definitely lit up a room. Her face is attractive, and the grey-blue eyes have a steely strength to them. I could sense the muscles rippling under her dress, sort of like watching a big cat not doing anything in particular, just padding around, while you see the power under the pretty cuddly fur as it slinks, coiled and ready to un-spring on you, lightning fast. She was like that. A beautiful, exquisitely dangerous, tiger.

“What are you looking at?” She smirked.

“Nothing.”  I dropped my eyes to my beer.  “I was just thinking, I’m actually glad you’re here. You’re good in a fight.”

“You expecting some trouble?”

“Not expecting; betting on it.”

An awkward silence threatened to take over. I’m not particularly fond of you OIS guys sending an agent out to check up on me. But at least you had the good taste to send a beautiful woman.

She looked over at me with those heart melting eyes. “You know about the nightcap tradition right?”

I nodded warily. Chalie like to play this little game of cat and mouse with me. It was a familiar old game that somehow had gotten started when they’d run me through on a fast-track through the OIS academy. After one particular hard day of training some the OIS wise-guys took me out for a drink and set me up next to Chalie. I didn’t know she was an agent that night, and you all watched me make a complete fool of myself hitting on her. You had a great laugh, and I was the butt of many jokes for the remainder of the training. But Chalie had continue to tease me about it in ways that always left me wondering if she was seriously pursuing me or not. I’d learned to just play along and dish it right back at her.

“There’s another tradition that the tourists don’t know about. If you take a girl out on the star walk, she’s obligated to make sure you get lucky.”

“Even crusty old middle aged private eyes?”

“Especially those.”  She grinned and laughed musically.

I finished my meal and my beer and we got some drink bags to go. Ten minutes later we had rental mars-suits fully equipped with high octane drinking fluids and headed out one of the dome airlocks. We weren’t alone. There were a few others out there walking in the dust beyond the city. The sky on Olympus Mons was impressive. Only in the black of empty space have I seen a sky like that. But there’s something about seeing it from the surface of a planet that never gets old.

Well that wraps my log for today. You OIS jerks can continue to wonder what else happened tonight.