The council had agreed. Euthanization of the immigrants would happen today at the high moon this 2052 MY (Mars Year) 549 Sol. Most were in poor health anyway, some would stay for continued scientific examination, and four of the youth who survived information intake showed educable promise would receive Partial Martian citizenship. Quatek had attended the meeting with her mother, Supreme Empress Quarmine. Quatek practiced her self-teleportation and levitation. But the word euthanized sharpened her already pointed ears. As part of the population control reform, her grandmother, the fourteenth Supreme Empress, had enacted, and last year on her two- hundredth birthday died as number 16587, becoming a member of the new Grand Guiding Ancestors. The reform called upon the Euthanization of all Martians on their two-hundred birthday. When she signed the reform, she was signing her own death certificate. Quatek still missed her grandmother, tears falling far too often for a future Empress, according to her mother. Grandmother had taught her to have an open heart; her mother taught her to have a steady hand. Quatek knew that many of the councilwomen believed her mom had advised the Euthanasia Population Control Reform. Her mother refused to accept chemical or medical control of life. The all-female population had evolved to self-reproduce only three-hundred MY ago. Their numbers were small back then, but now they were running out of space. To assure a quality life for the babies, sterile older women had to die. It would be a sacrifice, but after death, they transformed into the Grand Guiding Ancestors and held in reverence.
That was the same year the immigrants came. Their ship landed near the craters of Aquanis and Anquiteka. Fearful they would attack the water and easily defeat the aged community, these immigrants were transferred into the trans-tunnels and held in Section 1, an antiquated abandoned living area. The area still had all the essential water, air, food delivery chutes, and temperature control units. Old and lacking systems but suitable for immigrants, some now called invaders. Over the last year, observation and experimentation became commonplace. Suspicion waned, then grew when several Observants, a party of 6 women, were in the migrant’s ship. After entering the vessel, an unanswered security breach alert led to a self-destruct warning, and finally, the ship exploded. The Earthling migrants explained that after so long with no one onboard their planet, set up this security device to keep their craft out of alien hands. This lead to talk of euthanasia for no life capable of such a barbaric tactic to kill would be worthy of life.
Anxious, Quatek wandered out of the council chambers and down the red stone tunnel. Light fell in spots from the escape airlock hatches above. The hatches secured into the bottom of the shallow craters on the planet’s surface existed as emergency exits in case of a tunnel collapse. At the third spot of light was her mother's office, not even her daughter status would get passed the guards on duty at the door. It would only be a few years, and the office would be hers. Surely a few moments inside wouldn’t be wrong, just educational. Quatek pressed her green-tinted palms together, lifting her elbows. Rubbing her hands, she applied her warmed palms to her hidden third eye in the center of her forehead. Seconds later, she appeared behind her mother's desk undetected. Sitting in the royal seat, she viewed the screen, which appeared on default along with the holograms. The screen showed the twenty migrants, who would die, there was nothing she could do. Quatek paused at Mary’s image. She and Mary became friends over the year. Mary would stay at the request of Quatek, though Mary’s parents would die. It would be hard, but she would be with her. Help her. That is when the sidebar came into view.
“Noooo!” she muffled her scream with her hand. The final order, signed by her mother, appeared. Quatek read all immigrants euthanized so more Martian babies could be born. “This can’t be,” Quatek whispered.
The guards entered and began questioning her. She had to save Mary. She rubbed her hands and transported to Area 1. Spotting Mary, Quatek wrapped her arms around her and transported them both to the far path. This historical path, sacred as a tribute to her people’s first exodus from the surface to the climate controllable tunnels constructed with primitive tools. They climbed the stairs of the sphinx. Both suited up in the airlock within the sphinx eye. They had come here many times. Taught each other a crude sign language and eventually fell in love. Quatek conveyed everything to Mary, there in that eye, looking out at the red sands on the surface of her home planet. Tonight, she told Mary that the Martians themselves had once been migrants from the green planet Merus. Only the Empresses and the Chief Historian know this fact. Quatek’s ancestors arrived here after their planet died. The Meronians brought with them viruses that killed the red indigenous people who lived on the surface. That is why they don’t breathe the Mars air even though they adopted the Martian name. It is why they are in tunnels, why Quatek glows with a green tinge, and why no males we’re born after the first several years. Perhaps the heat of the sun or some environmental induced genetic malformation. And likely why Mary and her people became feared by the governing council. Finally, she shared the worse news of all. All the Earthlings would be euthanized tonight. They held each other a long time then walked back. Mary shared that her mom would give birth soon. Could they wait until after the birth? Could there be a first Earth-Martian if only for a while?
Just then, guards accompanied by the Superior Empress arrived and shackled their arms and legs with force field cuffs.
“Mother listen, you cannot kill them.”
“We are not killing them; we are putting them to sleep for the benefit of them and us. They have no home and no way back, and I cannot exchange our lives for theirs. I have a responsibility to my fellow Martians to life.”
Fellow Martian, huh? You believe a new life replaces old life, right? The right to be born is more important than the right to continue as a life lived. Isn’t that your belief?” Quatek paced. The Empress stood in silence. A scream was heard, then a high-pitched cry. “Mary’s mother just gave birth. Isn’t this new Martian life worthy of saving? Isn't all live worthy?” Mary’s father brought the new child to the front and held him up near the clear security glass that held them, prisoners. There was a sudden silence as the new life sucked on the finger of her father.
“How long have you co-mingled?” the Empress demanded.
“Nearly ten months.”
“Guards put Mary with her family. Child of mine be released and transport to my office immediately.” The cuffs fell of Quatek as the guards carried Mary to the cell.
Hours later, an hour before euthanasia, the council tired from compromise, at last, agreed. At the hour of the immigrant’s end, there came a new beginning. Hundreds gathered in Area 1, bringing food, clothing, and bedding. They removed the glass between them, and cautiously embraced this new life on their planet. Not just the new life being passed around like a crystal goblet of wine, but all life—all life brave enough to fight beyond its bounds of gravity and enter a new world. The decree came to pass that an annual celebration called Thanksgiving of Life would include a new flag of red and blue and green and a grand feast of shared food and gratitude.