Gregor says openly that his skeptical analysis is for the sake of crewism. At this point it is as much about all of us making it out alive as it is about getting that damn cone as far away from the Capitol Wastes as possible. He repeats this as Viktor and I pile in to the T-33 and shove the refugee cloaks as deep under the seats as we can. Behind us, Lars is busy adding as many any small touches as he can to that long black lozenge in an effort to make it look like a normal container.
“We’ll be fucked if they want to do a tare on this thing,” Lars states flatly, mostly to himself. Even with the dress work he’d already done on it, the sarcophagus-sized cone looked nothing like any Soy Guild receptacle I’d ever seen. Lars looks up and wipes his forehead with his coverall’s sleeve. He looks like he’s aged about ten years in twenty-four hours.
“Have any of you actually made a delivery to an ICCC asylum before?” grumbles Jayna, who had barely said two words since we’d embarked on this whole endeavor.
Viktor coughs, looking sheepish. He gets out a pocket knife and digs at the bits of pale colored debris on and under his nails, pretending to check out of the conversation.
Jayna exchanges knowing glances with Marcus and taps into another packet of medware for his wound.
“I’m going to need more time,” Lars says from the back, waving a fistful of multicolored wires and grey polymer mesh.
“Those drones will fix on us again in under an hour unless we make for Port Calvert in the next few minutes.” Gregor’s fingers strangle the steering grips. He cranes his neck up and around, scanning what he can see of the dull sky.
“What makes you so sure?” Lars asks. “We found the thickest tree cover for probably two hundred square clicks.”
Gregor’s jaw sets. “Did you lapse into unconsciousness through that whole ride? Those were Pacifica drones chasing us!” He turns around to face the crew, searching their eyes for support. “The instruments were firing off every warning and caution it can make. There’s no doubt they ID’d us and uploaded this cruiser’s signature into every hunter drone they’ve got covering this region.”
Jayna rolls her eyes and knocks a fist against a window in frustration. “Half the cautions out of those instruments are too ambiguous to conclude that.” Crewism guided her statement away from an attack on Gregor’s knowledge of the cruiser’s onboard systems. “There’s no way to know for sure if they positively tagged us or not.”
Gregor returns his fists to the steering grips. “And how can you be sure that they don’t have our signature?”
I step back out of the truck and zip my blue coverall the rest of the way up to cover my throat. The scrubby trees itch at the scabs of each other’s branches, animated by a tepid westward wind that smells like frying eggs and hydrocarbons.
Into some revisions lately… Thanks again to everyone that volunteered to do some proof/impression reading on draft two. I appreciate it…