Suicide GambitIt took maybe five minutes on rough terrain before Spikey barked for Suicide to stop. The trail around the ravine had never been designed for motorized vehicles to travel, not even off-road vehicles. The barrow, a truck with two rubber-rimmed wheels in the front, a pair of treads in the back, a two-passenger cab, and a long bed in the rear, was not exactly an off-road vehicle to begin with. Farmers liked the vehicles because they could handle muddy terrain and haul cargo. However, they were little good in the rocky game paths of the foothills to the north of the Townships. Unfortunately, Suicide did not own any other vehicles. She came to own this one only as war surplus.
They rounded the foothill where Suicide lived and saw the white and red flashing lights of Carruthers’s patrol vehicle before they reached the site. Caruthers had the crashed object flood lit already. A long tube, which looked like a missile, lay partially embedded in the ground. Carruthers had the canopy open. Suicide could not see who or what was inside.
“It’s an emergency life pod,” said Carruthers, a large dark-skinned man with a little bit of padding around the middle. Rejuvenation would have taken care of the weight problem, but in many ways, Amargosa was still a frontier world. The natives still disdained rejuvenation as a core world extravagance. “Two females inside, a woman and a child, both Gelt. The child is not quite an adolescent. If she were human, I’d say she was around nine or ten years old.”
“Any idea where it’s from?” said Suicide. Her heart leapt into her throat. She already had an inkling of who was inside. “Did it have its own projection drive?”
“According to Alpha Orbital Station, it came through on a projection drive sled. The drive is still up there, but it’s tumbling towards re-entry. The Navy is going to try to retrieve it. Looks like the pod was launched in a hurry and specifically sent to this location. Were you expecting anybody?”
Suicide now knew who it was without even asking. With growing trepidation, she approached the life pod. Inside, wrapped in impact foam with oxygen masks over their faces, sat a Gelt woman with long, shimmering white hair down to her shoulders. Suicide didn’t need to see the entire body to know that the woman was wearing some sort of gown. In front of her sat a Gelt child roughly six years old, maybe seven. For a Gelt, that was the cusp of adolescence. She recognized both of them immediately.
“The woman,” she said, “is Lattus Tishla, First Citizen of Hanar. The child is her daughter, Athena.”
Carruthers blew out his breath and looked at Spikey. “Well, there goes the nice quiet shift tonight.”
Spikey barked once in agreement.

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