Previously on The Martian Muckraker: For months Sarah of Earth and C’therax of Mars traded information by interplanetary transmission to aid the cause of freedom on both sides of Earth’s Great Barricade. Earthling authorities want Sarah, an influential political agitator, arrested or killed but lack the political consensus to do so. C’therax and his allies on Mars are not so lucky, and have been arrested. Sarah and a group of Martians stranded on Earth and hiding from the hostile Earthling government plan their next moves…
“Looks l-like our transmissions are b-being effective. C’rululian autho-r-rities have disclosed that C’therax, Sp’Rark and Dr. Vyryn will n-not be moved from M-Mars and are agre-e-eing to regular health c-confirmation checks with f-foreign peace keepers,” Sarah said to the gathered Earth-bound Martians as she fought her usual stutter.
Her cousin Michael continued, “Based on the transmissions we have received it looks like home-world Martian sentiment have strongly turned against the C’rululian Empire. There are calls not only for their release but even for separation.”
F’delty burst in the door behind them. “We have company!” he hissed.
The whole room tensed. F’delty summoned a hologram using his wrist communicator. The secret underground Martian compound used a comic book shop as its above ground cover. Outside, a man kept circling the property.
“One man?” Michael asked, his hand already reaching into his coat. A Venus Phoenix blaster was kept there, Sarah knew. She tensed. Don’t be so trigger happy Michael…
“I suspect he is just the point man. Earthling authorities, when they suspect a Martian compound, will have a civilian dressed point man keep watch outside. Nearby there are sure to be armed agents.”
“He can’t stay there forever, ” Michael said.
“They will trade out point men at regular intervals. They know we have limited food,” F’delty said.
“W-Why n-not just atta-a-ck if they know w-we are here?” Sarah asked, her wounded throat producing its typical stutter.
“They probably only suspect that we are here. They don’t need a warrant if they stay outside, nor will they risk the bad press of being wrong if they just send a point man. They know that if they just keep surveillance up long enough, eventually we will have to sneak out to get food,” F’delty answered.
“It’s worse than that. Sarah’s movements are tracked. When she goes missing, they will wonder why…and if someone is smart enough to notice that Sarah went missing once this sting started…” Michael began.
F’delty finished, “Then they may take the risk and raid. It will look odd enough already when we don’t open the next morning to sell comic books. ”
Sarah grimaced. They had several trapdoors into the comic book shop and the Martians had the gear necessary to pass as humans. But if the shop was being tracked and someone noticed that the “shopkeepers” were spending the night…that would not look good.
“E-everyone t-take a n-nap,” Sarah said. The room looked at her, confused. She continued, “What-ever decision we make s-should be done well r-rested…The Earthling above will keep for a few hours.”
About two hours later, Sarah, Michael and the others considered their options.
“If we radio for help, other Martians may attempt to make a distraction or to help us fight our way out. But then we risk their security as well,” Michael began.
“Option two: We have those outside Martians that are raring to fight, attack the Prison where Martians are being held. If the firefight gets explosive the whole city may be required to evacuate. That would give our shopkeeper identities reason to not show up for work…but also gives the guards out there reason to move in. No one will care about a warrant in those circumstances,” F’delty continued.
“We s-start a fire,” Sarah said.
Everyone turned toward her. She outlined a plan. No one liked it. “A-all your other plans w-will t-t-urn e-even more E-E-arthlings against us. Open w-war won’t s-solve this p-problem,” she said in response to their objections.
Dia’dymn, Sarah’s pet Venus Blue Back Spider, returned to the underground compound with the speakers from each smoke detector in the comic book shop above in his pincers. All gathered gave a sigh of relief that Dia’dymn was able to remove and place all necessary components undetected. Sarah gave the signal. If it were daylight, the guard outside would have noticed a slight flicker of smoke in the comic book shop. Thanks to Earth’s Great Barricade, night was as black as pitch. The smoke detectors, now speakerless, did notice and an automatic 9-1-1 call was placed. Sarah was thankful that Martians were good chemists and that the Humanity First movement was bad at coordinating with local governments.
Once sirens were heard, Sarah gave another signal and several martian explosives were detonated, filling the comic book shop above with flames.
“NOW!” Michael shouted. A battle cry let loose among the Martians, and they started charging out of all trapdoors. An Earthling Alien Enforcement Vehicle rushed in along the street, but was blocked by the firetrucks. An argument could he heard breaking out among some of the firemen who, confused, wanted their trucks to have the position necessary to keep the flames from spreading. The delay was momentary as the drivers decided to retreat and make way for the Enforcement Vehicle. The fact that the Enforcers threatened to open fire on the truck if it was in the way made this an easy decision. Nonetheless, a moments delay was all that the Martians needed.
In seconds, the comic book shop was evacuated and disguised Martians were running in all directions. Sarah and Michael grouped up together and charged towards a dark ally where they hoped to make their escape. They were both wearing masks to hide their identity.
Dia’dymn gave a scared shriek from Sarah’s shoulder. She turned to see an Anti-Alien Enforcer a mere 10 feet behind her and gaining fast.
She gave a shout to Michael who turned and drew his Venus Phoenix and let out a purple beam of energy. The officer dodged and tackled Sarah, throwing her to the ground. He raised his gloved fist, which was crackling with electricity (a weapon Sarah had not seen before) and stated to drop it down on Sarah.
There was a flash, and then sounds of combat. When Sarah recovered, she saw the Enforcer and the disguised F’delty trading blows.
“Sister! Go! You are needed alive!” he called. Sarah was dragged to her feet by Michael, and, urged on by Dia’dymn’s cries, she broke out into a run. Behind her there was a flash that caused her to look back.
Looking over her shoulder, there was no doubt. F’delty was dead, lying on the floor. Green Blood was washing down into the rain gutter.
Fighting back tears, Sarah and Michael ran off into the night.
To Be Continued…