Today I met the King of Europe.
He lives in a large, bare apartment in Port Robinson, the old Martian capital; from his windows you can see the huge, ancient city, thousands of years of architectural styles competing for attention.
On the horizon, when the air is clear, the beacons of the beanstalk can be seen blinking their warning in the pale sky, apparently hovering above the distant canyon Juventae Fons .
King Roland, as he styles himself, has a court of several score Old Europeans, who regularly press his claim for recognition to the Goddess of Earth.
As a direct descendant of Charlemagne, King Roland considers himself the rightful heir to the Holy Roman Empire, which would consist nowadays of a few tribes of Cro-magnon cave-dwellers living in the forests and cave systems of what briefly was known as France.
On his wall he often displays a huge real time image of Western Europe, beamed direct from a godwatch geostat in active suspension a million kilometres above the old planet, outside the exclusion zone. The artificial farmlands of the North Sea have been washed away, and little trace of human civilisation remains; but Roland has evidence that the ancient court of Charlemagne at Aachen has been preserved, just as the Pyramids and the White House are kept, at the whim of the Protective one. One day he hopes to occupy this building as the rightful King, which he is convinced has been preserved specifically for himself.
Of course if his claim was ever accepted he would have to be radically altered to live in the thick atmosphere and heavy gravity of Earth; Roland and his Old Europeans have been adapted to the half terraformed atmosphere of Green Mars for too long.
Before I leave this ancient world I personally will need to be radically altered myself to return to my normal environment; but this is something I have grown used to after so much traveling.
By Steve Bowers More Traveller's Notes
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