This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA’s curiosity Mars rover shows the “Marias Pass” area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone—the pale zone in the center of the image—lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone.
Part 5 of 6 – An apology here. I meant this to be a 5 part serial and it went a little long so part 6 and the end, is next week.
You can find Part 1 here:
It was after midnight when the blast doors opened and Mom’s comm buzzed. “Yes?”
I watched as she nodded. “It’s your father,” she mouthed at me. I sighed with relief. He was okay, then.
“Yes. We’ll go straight home. Love you.” She clicked off. “That was Ian,” she told the Korians who had come over to hear the news. “He said we should go back to our berths and stay there until we get further information.”
“So it’s not over?” David put his arm around his wife.
Mom shook her head. “Not yet. Let’s get home. We’ll be able to clean up and get some rest.”
I didn’t sleep well and woke up late in the morning with a headache. Mom made me sit and eat, which helped. “Any news from Dad?”
“No.” She sat down with a cup of tea. “The vid has been telling everyone to stay home.”
I nodded. “I’m going to call the Korians. Make sure they’re all right.”
Mom patted my hand. “Very thoughtful, Helga.”
While mom did the dishes, I called the Korians. David said they were all fine so I wished them a peaceful day and clicked off. That’s when the door chime rang. I opened the door and Tayln and Amber rushed in. Tayln grabbed my arm, Amber stepped around us and went into the kitchen, she had a blaster pointed at mom. My stomach churned.
“Stop everything and sit at the table,” Amber commanded.
Mom shut off the water and dried her hands. “Of course.” She walked slowly to the table and sat down. Tayln shoved me to a chair and I sat, reaching out to hold Mom’s hand.
“What do you want?” Mom asked.
Amber looked at me. “Your dad’s in Security, right?
I nodded. I could feel my heart racing.
“Call him.” She jabbed the blaster in my direction. “Now!”
I picked my comm up from the table and hit the number for dad. “Dad,” I said when he answered.
Amber grabbed the comm from my hands. “We have your daughter and wife, Daws.
I couldn’t hear what Dad said but Amber went red in the face. “You call off the chase, or it won’t end well.” She clicked off and threw my comm on the table.
“Why are you doing this?” I could see the moisture from my sweaty hands on the table.
Amber glared at me. “I suppose we have you to thank for our situation.”
I shook my head.
She gave Tayln a look that should have killed him. “And you. You could not keep your mouth shut.”
“I said I was sorry, Amber.” His shoulders slumped.
I realized he was scared. I’d never seen him so meek.
“Get me a glass of water and find something to eat.” Amber waved him out of her sight.
Tayln hurried to the kitchen. I could hear him drawing water. Then cupboards and fridge opening and closing.
Mom spoke to Amber. “You could turn yourself in. You’d be treated fairly.”
“You can shut up.” Amber pulled a chair out and sat down, the butt of the blaster resting on the table, pointing at my mom.
“We’re friends, Amber. Why are you doing this?” I wanted to get her to stop pointing that blaster.
“We weren’t friends. You and the others, hanging in the concourse, thinking you’re cool.” She took a deep breath and shook her head. “Brainwashed, all of you. Living hand to mouth on your ration cards while everything we grow and make gets shipped back to Earth. We wouldn’t need ration cards if not for that.”
Tayln brought out a glass of water and a plate with a sandwich on it and set them in front of Amber. “Soy chicken was all they had.”
Amber scowled. “See! Not even real meat. Something out of a vat.”
Despite her scorn, she picked up the sandwich and bit into it. If they’d been on the run since the blast, or maybe the roundup Dad told me about, she may not have had anything to eat in a day or more. Tayln returned to the kitchen then was back with his own plate and glass. He didn’t sit down though, he paced, sandwich in hand, gulping it down in huge bites. “What are we going to do? We’ve run out of hiding places.” he asked Amber between swallows.
She shook her head. “Get Daws to give us a deal.”
“You know he won’t do that. The council won’t allow it,” Mom said quietly.
Amber picked up her glass and drained it, then handed it to Tayln. “More.”
He stared at her a moment, then took the glass.
“What did Dad say?” I asked Amber.
She flushed red. “Told me we should come in.”
“You should, Amber. You’re smart. There’s no where to hide here. You can’t leave. What else is there?”
She pointed the blaster at me. “You can just shut up, too.” She brushed her normally smooth flowing hair back out of her face. It looked like it hadn’t been combed in a while.
Tayln brought her water back and put it on the table. He drank his own until it was empty. “She’s right, Amber. We’ve been running for the last twenty-four hours. There’s no where to go.”
“Call your father again.” Amber glared at Tayln, then me.
I nodded and made the call. When it started ringing, I handed her the unit.
“We need assurances,” she said.
I really wished I could hear what Dad was saying. Tayln paced behind Amber, pale and sweating.
“If I don’t get some concessions, I’m going to shoot both of them.” She stood up and pointed the blaster at my mom.
“No!” I cried out and stood, knocking my chair over with a crash.
Amber pointed the blaster at me. “I’ll do it!” she yelled.
I felt dizzy. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. The room seemed to get darker. I held onto the table edge. What was happening?
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