Open The Expanse: Doors And Borders

Katyr Daval


Die Shize
Jun 8, 2024
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Martian Congressional Republic

How many times had he repeated this routine? Wake up. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Drink beer. Go to bed. Get up. Do it all over again. But this wasn’t corporate drudgery, his superiors told him, over and over again. No, he wasn’t some spoiled Earther, or some lazy Belter.

No, he was Martian. He was a soldier. The warrior and the hard worker were within his blood. That’s what they told him. That was the message on the television of his living room in the apartment he woke up in, went to bed in, lived in, from one moment to the next.

That was the message on the adverts as he passed hallways after corridors, halls beyond doors, over and over again. I am Martian. It was more than words, more than letters. To live in Mars meant you had to be tough to begin with, that strength is the essence of your blood, or else you would never amount to much. That was the message.

Or you would become crumbs and dust. An anthill beneath a mountain. A Martian ought to know it. The largest mountain in the solar system was Olympus Mons. It was more than a monument. It was a testament to Martian independence. To united ambition. To their shared strength.

These were the creeds of his heart. The words that occupied his thoughts. That’s what they said. That’s what they drilled into his head, from one drill sergeant to the next.

Yet, as he marched past his apartment, outside the complex if without the freedom of breathing the surface like some Earther, he ever related to the Belter in his predicament, such that he may never share with his superior.

He wasn’t scared. That wasn’t it. As he straightened the sleeve of his wrist, sporting no armor at the moment, but the cloth of his uniform fit for a militant, Corporal Katyr Daval felt like he was as trapped as he was free, like something in between.

At least the Earthers could breathe in the air of the surface. At least the Belters had the freedom of doing whatever they pleased. Martians? Ordered. Structured. Organized. Obedience meant life and death.

Yet, as he walked tall beyond the walls of apartments, surrounded by Martians, and marched in the hall of men and women, he stopped, paused to watch and listen. There were children on his left, instructed with lessons of science as much as obedience, but Katyr ever wondered.

Will they grow up like me, as soldiers clinging to a dream, trying to turn Mars into the world that Earth can no longer be? Into a hope that the Belt can never breathe?

Hands clasped behind his back, Corporal Katyr Daval sighed into the wind that didn’t exist beneath the surface of his planet. Perhaps, then, that was his truth. As much as the rest of the denizens of this universe, he was a hostage too.