Despite his embarrassingly hyper patriotic name, Yank E. Flagg wasn’t enjoying his fourth of July. His ship, the USS Monkeyspank, had taken a pounding at the hands of the evil Bahamian Space Force three months back. Half the Fifth Fleet had been destroyed in the initial onslaught, but fortunately Comrade Captain McNeil had pulled the most remarkable strategy anyone had ever seen - running away - and as a result, America’s last Fightercarrier had survived. The war with the Bahamas was going badly enough that merely surviving was considered a victory these days.
They’d managed to limp to the nearest friendly port, Saint Friedrich on Ganymede, where most of the surviving crew had been rotated back stateside. Comrade Ensign Flagg was the Fire Control Officer - not the exciting kind of Fire Control that got to shoot at people, mind you, but rather the kind of Fire Control that was in charge of keeping the extinguishers in the kitchen fully charged - and as such, he was one of the unlucky five hundred or so who’d been forced to stay on the ship as part of the repair team. It had been three months of backbreaking labor - despite the low gravity on this particular moon - with the prospect of at least another three months ahead of them, before the ‘Spank was in fighting trim again. The war would likely be over by then, so, really, the entire project was an exercise in futility. “Tiela estas la militista vivo,” thought Flagg, philosophically.
The thing that made this so particularly galling was that Ganymede was probably the single most boring place in the entire solar system. Colonized a century or so before by puritanical atheists fleeing the perceived decadence of religionist tolerance on earth, the society they’d set up had been intended as a ‘city on a hill,’ a shining example of what humanity could accomplish once we’d put our silly gods behind us, but it didn’t work out that way. Once the grand ‘opiate of the masses’ has been abolished, the Ganymedians naturally started going after some of the lesser opiates. First drugs, then extramarital sex, then entertainment, then dancing (Which was actually quite fun in the low gravity), then computer games, then political parties, all had ended up on the chopping block, first censured, and then criminalized. A few weeks ago, Flagg and a couple of his shipmates had grown stir crazy and snuck out at night. One of them - Comrade Bosko - had almost instantly attracted the ire of the locals for “Whistling on a Tuesday.” Almost instantly they’d been surrounded by an angry surgical mask-wearing mob chanting “There is no God, and Madeline Murray O’Hare is His Prophet! There is no God, and Madeline Murray O’Hare is His Prophet!” Flagg had barely been able to make it back to the ship, but his two friends had been arrested, and were even now cooling their heels in some stark art deco cell somewhere.
Today would be different, however, Flagg convinced himself. It was the fourth of July, and the entire crew had been given leave. They’d suffered through the endless “Appreciating the Oneness of the Local Culture” lecture the night before, informed of the local taboos, and asked to please return their official Navy-issued prophylactics before leaving the ship, since “No one here is into that at all anyway.” After a fitful and anticipatory night’s sleep, he dressed up in his civies and left the ship, and whistled for a cab.
Instantly, a rickshaw pulled by a skinny metal android on a unicycle pulled up.
“Lord Running Cab, at your service,” the android said. Flagg got in, trying not to stare. The android was no big deal, but he was from Nebraska, and had never seen a rickshaw before. ‘Hey, what do you know,’ he thought, ‘this could be fun after all!’
“Where can I take you, Comrade Ensign?” Lord Running Cab asked.
“Is there a nightlife on this moon?”
“Regrettably, no sir,” the cab replied, “It’s as dull as a nun teaching geometry around here.”
“Is there a nightclub you could take me to?”
“Oh my lack of God, no sir!” the cab sounded aghast.
“What about a bar?”
“Alcoholic libations dull humanities’ awareness and hence your species need to stand on its own two feet without the aide of various psychological crutches.”
“Violence and Prurient interests were among the first things the local regime went after, once they’d gotten rid of God, sir.”
“I suppose a brothel is unlikely,”
“Right out, I’m