A few hours later they were back on the highway, and the thing about Martian highways is they went for hundreds of kilometers through utter wasteland. Colcorp made sure that as few people as possible were going to die out on the road. So they built rest stops, emergency shelters ever fifty klicks or so. And, a couple of klicks from one of them, he stopped the rig.
“I’m turning here,” he told her. “A couple clicks ahead, you’ll come to an emergency shelter. But the rest stop should be very well stocked. You can stowaway on the next transport that stops there, or maybe call for help and get someone to take you home if that’s what you want.”
Every one of those small concrete structure had a communications system built onto it. She’d be fine.
Tory crossed her arms, reminding him that she was still a brat.
“Or you can start walking,” he told her, then pointed out into the red. “The Field’s in that direction. Might be a rig one coming in the next while that will take you there. Best I can do. You know that. You either get out here, or I kick you out here. Your choice.”
She argued with him for a few minutes, but eventually gave in, and more importantly trusted him.
“Fine,” she said looking out ahead. The rest stop wasn’t visible, but it seemed like she believed now that he wouldn’t just leave her to die. “I guess It’s better than being a hostage again. One last thing before I go though.”
“What’s that?” he asked her.
“How long?” she asked. “Before your friends threaten to use the bomb?”
“They aren’t my friends,” Gurminder told her. “And I don’t know. Soon, I think, before it’s too late for any of us. Soon. But I don’t think they’ll bomb a colony or anything. They’ll have some other location in mind. Military probably, or communications.”
“You’re sure about that?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“No,” he told her.
A few minutes late she was ready, and they were standing at the rigs airlock.
“What do you mean too late?” she asked him. “To late for what?”
“There are already ten times more of you than there are of us, another year or two, that might be fifteen times, and with the shutdown of the old bases, most of who’s left will be forced to live in the Colcorp colonies whether they want to or not.” he stated. “Now, time for you to leave. Did you check your tanks, all the linkages, all the meters?”
“Yes, I checked them all” she said, sounding unhappy though, looking to him for something. “It was fun, wasn’t it? Doing all this together.”
Fun. What a crazy kid.
“Yes,” he said anyways. “About as fun as stealing a nuke can be with a runaway firstlander whose more annoying than anyone I have ever met in my life. Now remember to keep your mouth shut, because if you don’t, there’s no going back to Earth for you, understand? They’ll lock you away in a place that’s a lot worse than The Hole. Marsec takes their nukes seriously. I don’t care who your parent’s are, they can’t save you from them.”
Tory nodded. She knew what was at stake, at least for her, and that was all that mattered in the end.
They didn’t hug, for whatever reason. Maybe he expected her to, and she didn’t want to. She just stepped into the airlock and a minute later was out on the ground. He watched her for a while. She looked back a couple times, but didn’t wave.
Gurminder went back to the cockpit got in his seat, he turned back to the rig dashboard and entered the destination in the rig’s computer. He leaned back in his chair as it pulled out, and didn’t look back.
Varlamov wouldn’t be happy with the decision he’d made If he dared breath a word that he’d done the job with a teenaged newer girl, but as with the Chin who never showed up, screw him, screw them all. It seemed Tory had reminded him of something, which came as a bit of surprise when he mulled it over. She’d reminded him he didn’t have to do whatever he was told. And maybe it was time for him to do what he wanted. Change his direction. Get out of a war that his kind could only lose no matter how they fought it, because by the time he was old, there’s be so many more bornehere’s than them. Everything his people had done would just be a footnote and forgotten, erased in time.
He nodded to himself and then leaned back to take a nap. He’d be free in a few hours, free to chart his own future, even if that meant he’d likely never hook up with Mina again. Well, as mind-blowing as it had been with her, That would probably be for the best.