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to arms

Updated: Jan 16

Spacers could care less, but most planet-bound types are quick to wrangle over the cause of the long and ongoing intrasolar war. Earthers claim it has to do with mother world sovereignty and maintaining primacy rights. Venusians argue they are protecting their unique bio-techno-cultural development. Martians seem to just love a fight, be it good, bad or ugly.

Few know the real story. Fewer actually believe it. I do because my mom told me. And she should know. She started it. How did a middle-aged mom who dabbled in amateur archaeology throw our local system into such a tizzy?

She triggered an arms race. A crazy, unbelievable arms race. For two literal arms.

Let’s take a step back. When humans colonized Mars some eighty years ago, nobody anticipated how deeply their righteous, maverick spirit would take root and develop into the Martian maxim: Don’t tread on Big Red.

Sociologists posited their fierce frontier attitude to be a good thing. Shared identity. Cultural cohesiveness. A necessary and understandable social survival mechanism. Though relations with Earth quickly became prickly if not downright prickish at times.

Venus came next. For potential colonists wanting to live on that hothouse world, even after decades of intense terraforming, it was a much bigger ask. As in ask yourself: Would I be happier as a droid?

Surprisingly, a good number of Earthers liked the idea of being radically cyber-augmented and bio-engineered to function in a barely livable pseudo-environment. I guess we have R2-D2 and C-P3O to thank for that. 

Venusians didn’t become as ferociously independent as Martians. In fact, a funny thing happened in that hellish environment. Those highly augmented colonists transformed by tech implants which muted physical sensation became a wee wistful, then doggedly spiritual, then obsessively monotheistic. And when longing for beauty, love and desire what better deity to worship than Venus.

Her cult became culture. And led to a feral fixation, a monumental mania: the Venus de Milo. To the Venusians it became the symbol of planetary identity, intrasolar respect, divine legitimacy, and an ordained destiny. All the trappings for the cluster to come.

And it came. The Venusian ruling council petitioned for the statue of the Venus de Milo housed in the Louvre to be relocated to Venus arguing that nowhere would it receive more care and reverence than on its namesake world. 

You can imagine the French reaction to that request. Still, each year the Venusian rhetoric and requests ratcheted up. Fearing vandalism or theft, the Venus de Milo became the most protected and closely guarded art piece in the solar system. It wasn’t going anywhere.

Until, my amateur archaeologist mom with a soft spot for lost causes had a mad idea and an even madder plan for making it happen. I don’t know how she really managed it, but by hook and crook she obtained the two missing limbs of the Venus de Milo. 

Then the maddest part of her scheme, she offered to sell them to the Venusian ruling council. Predictably, Earthers went ape and forbid it.

Tipping point reached.

“Two arms! To arms!” became the Venusian rallying cry.

My mom remains fatalistic about our interminable intrasolar war. After all, she explained to me, how could you expect anything different when the hand of the Venus de Milo’s left arm provocatively holds the Apple of Discord, the fairest seeds of which launched a thousand ships in the name of beauty, love, desire, betrayal, rage, and revenge. From wine dark seas to planetary colonies not much it seems has changed.

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