"The Barfight at Simplicity Genoid"

"The Barsoom Princess is ready to fly." Felton Lamy of the Medelhanian military officer caste looked down at me disapprovingly with his red eyes. I was far from ready to go.

"That woman is here isn't she?"

I smiled.

"I don't know why you have to see her every time she’s on a world we visit." He sat next to me and waved for a drink.

"Call it devotion."

If a woman wasn't of the genetically engineered caste Lamy was approved to mate with, he had no interest with her. Me, I liked Earth women on the rare occasion I could get them. Simplicity was probably the last world in the System I'd expected to find any Mudders, let alone my dear Sarah Durrah.

Simplicity was a backwater genoid off the Belt’s trade vectors. It was a hollow cylinder of rock, barely larger than a Bernal Sphere housing about twenty thousand "Simpletons." Like the Amish of twentieth century USA, the Simpletons didn't believe in “modern” technology, but they did believe in modern cash. Simplicity meant no danger from the League, just prudish local leaders.

They weren’t overly religious. The no-technology kick was more a philosophy than religion. They didn't believe in god any more than anyone else in the System. Their moral code did not extend to seedy bars, prostitution, or thankfully to, let’s call it exotic dancing.

The house lights went down, the stage was limned and tinny music played. Technology of the twentieth century was backward enough for these people. Electric lights and canned music were fine.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the voiceover announced, "please join me in welcoming a very special performer, Miss Sarah Durrah!"

Sarah leapt onto the stage. She was from Earth, with Earth grown muscles and bones. They were far more than adequate for the System Standard Gravity employed on Simplicity. SSG, dating back to the first missions to Mars, was equal to the gravity on that planet. It was used whenever humans had control of the level of gravity.

For Sarah Durrah it meant that she had to be careful not to launch herself into the ceiling or let her act get too acrobatic. She didn’t want to give her origin away to the xenophobic Simpletons. She was a master though, and within those constraints, she was amazing.

She jumped and twirled around the chrome poll center stage. She wore sheer silk pantaloons and a blouse, but their translucency revealed only promised glances as her body moved and swung in great arcs. Like a true artist, she was suggestive and exhilarating without being salacious, although the audience would later swear that she wore less and showed more than she ever did.

It was over all too soon. Long minutes had passed with no one noticing. The audience was satisfied, but not satiated. In content delirium, they gave her a standing ovation as she left the stage. I took the opportunity to grab Lamy's arm and encourage him to follow me to the back of the bar.

This place was so poor they didn’t have a backstage, just one dressing room for all the acts with a door leading right from the main room. Sarah made her way along the wall that led to the door. She had to wait for the next act, a blues band called The Old Chicago Five, to pass her.

As she moved and waited, men harassed her. They wanted a more personal dance, but she wouldn’t do that for all the money in this backward rock. They ignored her refusals. By the time we were close enough to hear, she had had enough.

The leader of the rude crew grabbed a couple of pieces of her topography that should have remained terra incognita and she forgot herself.

She delivered a right uppercut that broke his jaw and not only lifted him off his feet, her Earth-grown muscles, unleashed, threw him over the heads of those behind him.

Even the Simpletons couldn’t ignore her muscles and their undeniable origin. The cry went up, “Alien!”

Those that witnessed the punch knew the alarm was for Ms. Durrah, but not everyone had seen the earthly feat of strength. The majority only saw a crowd descending on their object of desire with intent to harm. Those rose to her defense. Some near us thought the warning was regarding Lamy, whose massive bulk and fiery red eyes could only be tolerated if he were spending money and his departure were imminent. Neither was true now and he posed a perceived threat. They attacked him.

I somehow escaped notice. I knew that if no weapons more dangerous than a falling piano were brandished both Sarah and Felton Lamy were in no real danger. Our mission on Simplicity was though.

I examined the situation for an exit strategy when I noticed the sax player from the band beckoning me toward the stage. I positioned myself so that Lamy’s fight would be canalized toward the stage. I had to throw a couple of elbows and knees, but I kept him moving in the right direction.

By the time we got to the stage the different native factions were so busy fighting each other for the chance to defend Sarah or to alternately attack her or Lamy that they were too preoccupied to actually fight either one. I focused Lamy’s attention to the aged sax player.

He seemed like a spry centenarian, old but with all his faculties. That is, until he opened his mouth and said, “Where are you from Miss?”

At that point I realized that the course I had designed for myself and my crewmate was also made clear for the originator of the fight. Sarah Durrah stood next to me and put a hand on my shoulder.

“Earth,” she shouted above the din. The old man rolled his eyes.

“Where on Earth?”


“Ah! I thought so. I’m from ‘da cidy’ myself, but I left a hundred years ago.”

“Really?” He didn’t seem that old. He was well preserved.

“That’s why they call me ‘Old Chicago.’ Listen, we’re regulars here. There’s no back stage, but there is a back door. For a fellow Chicagoan and such a pretty lady to boot, I’ll show you the way. You’re with her, right?” He nodded to Lamy and me.

I hesitated.

“Falcon Butler, if you’ve got a fast ship I’m with you. I’m going to need a ride.”

A chair flew over my head, indicating that they belligerents had remembered their true enemy, but it didn’t register in my mind at all. Sarah Durrah knew my name. Sarah Durrah was coming with us. I was going to save Sarah Durrah.

“You got a boat Romeo?” Old Chicago asked. He had moved to the worn velvet curtain at the back of the stage.

“Yeah,” I looked into her eyes and she smiled.

“Then come on.” The old man pulled the curtain aside to reveal a door.

I later heard that the apes of Simplicity never did figure out our vanishing act. They took their frustration and xenophobia out on each other and the furniture of that bar until there was nothing left.

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