Red Rock City: Burn Night 2063

by Terry Gotham

(This is a minor experiment on my part, instead of thinking about what is, I’ve decided to meditate a little bit on what can or will be. Let us know in the comments if you want to hear more about the story of Isabella Pope & the first burn on Mars.)

It was so beautiful I could hardly stand it. The glittering, supremely temporary city, a blinking triumph to anti-authoritative striving, stood. But, for now, a brief reminder of how we got here.

The provisional government only gave the greenlight for the first attempt after the Deputy Magistrate revealed himself to be a Burner. Even then, the cowboys weren’t coming if things went tits up.

While travel to Mars had become accessible to the elites, the lucky & the ambitious, the red planet didn’t have much of a party scene. Mostly because of necessity, but with more corporations touching down all the time, the “Zone of Freedom” where movement was permitted outside of The Domes grew steadily. For years they refused to light any structure on fire inside. For good reason, but they’d gotten pretty massive at that point, so we pleaded.

You get tired of people telling you it can’t be done. You get tired of the excuses, the attempts at mollification, the distractions and the cries for sensibility. That didn’t get us to the desert in the first place, so of course, they were ignored once again. After a little over a decade after M1 Touchdown, scouts with jump jets moved as far out as where Curiosity landed way back. A couple of weeks into the nightly close range topography scans, Crystal Gypset took one look at this particular crater & thought “we can actually do this. We can burn once more.” Plans were made, secrets were kept, a date was chosen. Looking back, I’m still impressed that many of us managed to keep it a secret.

The party rovers, long used by high-stakes gamblers, frustrated venturepreneurs & wild kleptocrats were retrofitted in a style impeccably reminiscent of the Art Cars of yore. They kept you alive on the journey out to the Burn, as most suits would run short on O before you even saw the site on the horizon. The nicer ones stocked Red Bubble brand sparkling wine, with the Rough & Ready fire drone system they’d rigged up, patrolling the sealed dome on alert.

I’m not entirely sure how they managed to both build a Martian Man &  enclose it in that dome. None of us saw the dome coming and most didn’t believe we’d be able to get it up and burned safely without being spotted. We racked out after a particularly long build night and when we woke up, it was just there. A couple of militia exosuits must have wandered off base to pull this off,  as the thing was twice as tall as the Opulent Profit rover & could not have been built by any civilian-grade tech that we had access to. The word “Beginning” pulsed across the feeds for the rest of the day. The rest of the preparations went quickly, people work fast when they’re motivated. With all parties assembled, Isabella Pope lit the super structure.

You forget what fire looks like when you leave Earth.

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