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Chapter 2. The Martian Dream


    On a small hill on the surface of Mars, leaving shallow footprints in red sand, a young scientist Maxim Minin was walking, arriving twenty minutes ago with an INKIS passenger flight to the Tula cosmodrome at the invitation to work in the leading Martian corporation 

Telecom-ru. Maxim sincerely believed that there was no conspiracy of the Martians against the rest of humanity, and the revelations conveyed in a drunken whisper in the kitchen after the third bottle were just miserable excuses for the marginal losers. He was going through hard work with the support of his sophisticated mind to reach a warm place somewhere at the top of the Telecom pyramid. Max sincerely believed in the realization of his Martian dream.

    He was dressed very casually: in a woolen knitted sweater, slightly worn jeans and black boots with thick soles. A whirlwind of fine red dust shot up above the stones, but the sand-obedient programs of the grains of sand, falling on a person, instantly melted like early snow.

     On Mars, personally owned by Max, everything was like this: half real, half fictional. Not far from the hill, a translucent wall of a huge power dome broke off vertically into the ground; it was created by super-powerful ring emitters of an electromagnetic field, crowning metal towers of kilometer height. All seven towers that formed the regular heptagon, and the eighth, the highest, located in the center, were visible from where Max stood. The nearest tower, with its gray gloomy bulk, propped up the dark Martian sky, the distant ones were visible with thin dashes crossing the horizon. Each of them had its own nuclear power plant to power the emitter windings. A crown of miniature lightning sparkled and cracked around the rings, recalling the terrible power coming through the metal body of the towers.

     The heptagon, inscribed in the circumference of a dilapidated shallow crater, covered an area of ​​several hundred square kilometers with a power dome. In a space filled with a breathable atmosphere, a completely ordinary earthly city arose, and vacant places were filled with pine groves and transparent ponds, sweet to the heart. Even many species of feathered inhabitants, not to mention animals, have adapted to life inside.

     At Max's whim, to the place where he stood, he heard the sounds of a big city to which he was accustomed in Moscow: the buzz of crowds, the sound of cars, rattling and ringing, measured blows from construction sites. Of course, these Martian cities are hidden deep in caves, there are no dangerous and expensive power domes at all, and when detectors detect any life form other than human, a biological alarm signal is triggered. But virtual reality gives wide scope for any fantasies.

    Under the side of the power dome, like an artificial lake, a flat concrete field of the cosmodrome spilled with bowls of radars and control towers along the edges. At the mooring locks, there were several heavy, cargo ships. They resembled giant bugs with a fuselage smoothly turning to the bottom of the engine nozzles. Passenger terminals were reddish domes melted with plasma 3D printing from Martian sand and stones. They even built transparent areas for admiring the surroundings, only slightly inferior in strength to the meter-long ceilings of the dome.

     On a granite pedestal in front of the passenger terminals of the cosmodrome, a silver bird proudly looked up with short wings and a characteristic angular hull of the first shuttles. Frayed and beaten by a long life, she miraculously preserved the thirst for great discoveries in the predatory brilliance of the black nose and the leading edge of the 

wings. The best cars always carry a strange combination of properties - the spirit of the machine, which makes them almost alive. The silver bird on the pedestal was just such a machine. She never sat on the surface of Mars, delivering only the descent vehicles

, but enjoyed an honorable rest here. Every day, technicians in spacesuits blew the ship with compressed air, knocking out red dust from the smallest cracks of the hull that began to collapse. They worked especially carefully near the inscription “Viking” on the side of the

 ship. The nose of the Viking was oriented to the geographical north pole of Mars. On the opposite side of the terminal, “The Storm” looked south, from the west and east the INKIS space center was guarded by “Orion” and “Ural” - four famous ships that won leadership for Russia in the world space race at the dawn of the era of interplanetary flights.

     Against such a background, Max was standing. He read the message, although in his opinion a short chat message would have been enough. But his girlfriend demanded the illusion of lively communication, and fast communication was too expensive.

     “Hello, Masha, I flew normally, without any special incidents. INKIS ships are completely reliable. True, spending three weeks in cryosus is below average pleasure. There are also two transfers at orbital stations, moreover. But the prices, as you know, for INCIS flights are much lower than those of competitors. I’ll immediately recognize Telecom - presses, damn it, on a business-class coupe on the NASA-Spacelines liner, which reach Mars in five days, will not fork out for anything. They say that one must be a patriot, although what the hell is patriotism now.

    But because of the local gravity, more serious problems arise: I’m flying all over the walls with overclocking and knocking down the locals. It will be necessary to enroll in a special gym, otherwise in a year or two I can only ride in a wheelchair on Earth. In general, you can easily get used to gravity, wean a little harder, but you can, too, what really bothers me here is Martian troubles with the environment. This, of course, is another extreme, the ecology

 in Moscow is so bad that rats and cockroaches die, but as everyone knows, they don’t give a damn. And before flying to Mars, I was tortured with tests of environmental literacy on Earth, and during the flight, training films were constantly turned on, and I must install special programs on my chip that monitor my law-abiding behavior. It feels like that on Mars, all earthlings by default are considered some kind of pigs, striving to spoil everything

 around. Such a local kind of redneck, such as visiting fools, and we, the native Martians, will teach them the mind to reason. And God forbid, I’ll throw a cigarette butt or a stub on the floor, my own chip will immediately tell where it should be, that is, the environmental service, and they will impose a huge, enormous fine on me, and in case of relapse, they can also solder a prison term. After all, come on, and there are no more states, and the eco-service was scary more terrible than the native KGB or MIK, at the mere mention of it, the Martian hands and legs are immediately taken away, disgusting, damn it. my own chip will immediately tell where it should be, that is, the environmental service, and they will impose a huge, enormous fine on me, and in case of a relapse, they can also solder the prison term. After all, come on, there are no more states, and the eco-service was a scarecrow worse than the native KGB or MIK, with the mere mention of it, the Martian hands and legs are immediately taken away, disgusting, damn it. my own chip will immediately tell where it should be, that is, the environmental service, and they will impose a huge, enormous fine on me, and in case of a relapse, they can also solder the prison term. After all, come on, there are no more states, and the eco-service was a scarecrow worse than the native KGB or MIK, with the mere mention of it, the Martian hands and legs are immediately taken away, disgusting, damn it.

     I don’t know whether abandoned garbage is so dangerous, whether it can cause a mass epidemic, or whether any near-term horseradish can provoke an accident in life support systems. All this, in my opinion, is as scary as it is unlikely. Death in an isolated sector from an unknown infection or death from decompression is a terrible thing, but, as they say, be afraid of wolves - do not go to the forest. It was necessary to settle on a planet with a hostile external environment, in order to then shake over every incomprehensible speck: "Ah, suddenly this is an alien mold, it will enter the body and Martian fly agarics will sprout from me." Honestly, people who have lived a bit on Mars become like crazy on this topic, I heard enough of such horrors in flight, which is enough for several first-class thrillers. It seems that someone purposefully introduces into the mass consciousness the fear of accidents, fires, and, sorry for the term, "garbage." All Martians are so clean, damn it. But cleanliness is purely external, does not extend to the cultural sphere of life. I am shocked by the local advertising in general: no wit, one unprincipled emphasis on consumption and base instincts.

     However, as I said, you get used to everything, and too much to the excesses in Martian "domestic politics". I don’t smoke, and I’m used to cleanliness from childhood, so there’s no reason for me to be afraid of environmental services. The main thing is that I will work in the best Russian company, for the sake of a chance to achieve something in life, you can tolerate a bit.

     And yet, I have not yet met a single true Martian. Remember my grandmother scared everyone: “They are huge under three meters tall, pale, skinny with thin whitish hair and black eyes, like underground spiders.” I thought, the closer to Mars, the more terrible the Martians, and they were not in the ship or at the stations. But this is probably 

understandable: they rarely fly to Earth and, by any means, do not trust INKIS with their precious bodies. Maybe the city will be different. But by chance I met at the station one employee of the Telecom security service. Says he flew on a business trip. It is strange that similar types work in Telecom. It shows that he is not a simple security guard, and why

would a simple security guard fly on business trips. In this Ruslan, Caucasian roots are clearly traced: both facial features, and the manner of speaking, of course, he does not get confused with faces and cases, but nevertheless there is a characteristic accent.

 No, you know, I normally relate to people of other nationalities ... But this Ruslan, in short, is slightly similar to some kind of gangster. So, of course, don’t we have a lot of personalities hanging around under the windows. I probably imagined Telecom somewhat idealistically: the Martian corporation hoped that the Martians would rule everything - reasonable

, executive, conscientious. I thought Mars is a world of nanotechnology and virtual reality. And what about Mars, while there are only continuous strains. The eco service is still flowers, here copywriters are a real beast here. All free services and programs are littered with advertising on the roof, and try to lock something, the eco-service will seem like a mother to you. Come on, pirate programs, it’s clear to at least any fool that this is not

 good. But about the law on bots, you probably have not heard. I forgot to add a signature to the bot that it is a bot and that’s it, dry the crackers and welcome to the uranium mines.

    So, in summary, I must honestly admit to you, dear Masha, that my first acquaintance with Mars did not meet my best expectations, however, no one promised that it would be easy. In addition, if there is complete rotten meat, I will return back, as agreed, but if 

everything is fine, then you will come in a couple of months when we complete all the documents. Well, okay, I have to go round, I’ll write more in the evening. Say hello to everyone, most importantly, you also send letters, do not use this quick connection: she is dear as hell knows what. All, kisses, I have to run. "

    Max added several picturesque landscapes of the red planet to the file: an indispensable view from the top of the twenty-kilometer Olympus and the grand sheer walls of the Mariner Valley and sent a letter. He jumped out of virtual reality and began, cursingly, to close the 

advertising windows, which were an unpleasant bonus to any "free" application. He calmed down only when a translucent menu of the user interface remained in sight. He gently 

moved his stiff limbs and irritatedly pulled on a synthetic shirt and similar trousers. He really did not like Martian clothes, very durable and beautiful, but without a single natural villi or speck of dust, which could cause allergies among weak local health. Grandmother's sweaters, socks, as well as the rest of the "environmentally dirty" clothes were sewn into sealed bags at the customs.

    A new acquaintance was approaching the table of the network cafe where Max was located. He was dressed in a gray suit made of expensive synthetics, which looked and felt like wool, while retaining its special environmental properties. Ruslan was tall, tightly knocked down and stocky, very strong looking, as if, and did not live with half the force of gravity. This, of course, would set him apart from the crowd if he knew that he did not use cosmetic programs. They did not really work on INCIS ships, but on Mars the “natural” 

appearance was met as infrequently as clothes and food, in general, as well as everything natural. As the eternal advertisement read: “Image is nothing, provider is everything”! Max would love to adjust the image of Ruslan: to his proud eagle profile, high cheekbones and dark skin, it remained to add a turban, a crooked scimitar on the belt and white minarets in the background to create a beautiful image in its completeness. Well, in no way did he 

bother with the image of an executive security officer who spends working days on the network, carefully watching the internal life of the corporation. Physical training is not needed for such a job, and maintaining it with a small gravity is not easy: it is impossible to do without medical intervention and daily training. It is unlikely that Ruslan is such a fan of a 

healthy lifestyle. Maybe he is a certain executor of delicate orders, or, according to Russian tradition, the task of the security service is to catch employees dissatisfied with the working conditions who are fleeing the company. Max was aware that his assumptions were not supported by anything, much more likely

    Ruslan with a “bouncing” gait, which is usually characteristic of people who have recently arrived from the world with normal gravity, approached the table, crept away the empty chair and sat opposite, folding his hands on the table.

     - Well how are you? - Max asked casually.

     “The prosecutor’s case, brother.”

     Ruslan looked away a heavy look, drummed his fingers on the table and asked a counter question.

     - You have an old chip?

     - Well, it's on Mars that you can change the chip at least every year, but in Moscow it’s a little expensive and a bit risky, considering the quality of medicine.

     - This is understandable, only in the company of locals who mow under the Martians, do not blurt out such a thing. It’s the same as recognizing yourself as a complete sucker.

     Max winced a little, his interlocutor lacked a sense of tact at all, which, in principle, was expected.

     “And what is so here?”

     - No need to drive your hands and pull your fingers, you can immediately see that your chip is controlled by movements, not thought commands. Put yourself some makeup to hide it.

     - Yes, there is nothing more to do, or what? Why are these cheap show-offs? To control the chip normally only with thought commands, you must be born with it in your head.

     - To the point, Max, you weren’t born with a chip in your head, unlike Telecom bosses.

     - No, I was not born. Like you were born? - in the voice of Max intertwined annoyance and distrust.

    He tried to think less about the fact that a lot of people should be working in Telecom, namely those born with a neurochip in their head. And, in terms of skills in working with neurochips, he, most likely, is not good for them. Although, however, human resources specialists at the Moscow branch of Telecom rated his knowledge very highly. “Damn this new friend, thought Max, yes, he would have gone in a certain direction.”

     - If you do not care about public opinion, really do not care, you can do as you prefer and not take a steam bath. But, the tough Martian guys manage electronics with the power of thought, but the rest of them do it in one place. It does not reach the point that one must be born with a chip in his head and learn all this from childhood. It’s like playing a football, if you didn’t play when you were ten, then Pele’s laurels no longer shine. So it’s easier and cheaper to press virtual buttons. Would you like to play like Pele?

     - In football or what?

     - Not football, of course, is that so, figuratively speaking?

    “What a cynical cattle I came across,” Max thought rather irritably. “After all, it continues to hit the most sensitive place.”

     - This is generally a dubious statement.

     - What statement?

     - About the fact that if you have not played since childhood, then you can’t see real successes. After all, not everyone knows from an early age what talents he has.

     - Yes, all talents are laid in early childhood, then you can’t change anything. Fate is not chosen.

     - There are exceptions to any rule.

     - It happens, one in a million. - Ruslan easily and indifferently agreed.

    These words were uttered with such cold confidence that Max was already caught in a slight chill. It was as if the ghost of a certain generalized Martian Pele had arisen nearby and began, with a barely perceptible smile of complete superiority, to work out his inaccessible feints with the ball.

     - Okay, it's time for me to meet with the local football coach.

    Max already didn’t especially hide that he felt a slight discomfort from communicating with a new friend.

     - I can give you a ride, my car came for me

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