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VII. Mine and Mathilde’s

1.

Clay and Rachel had a smoke in the lee of the cliff, then got back into Clay’s Ghost and made love with the hatch open, then napped together, then woke and kissed and talked softly to each other, and then they got themselves up out of the fighter in the evening sun. They stretched, and then they laughed at each other. “Dinner?” Clay suggested.

“Here?”

“As opposed to going down to Ville de Quebec and seeing what’s the special at Zoot? I don’t think we’d like it.”

“Okay,” said Rachel, “your waste or mine?”

“Speaking of,” said Clay, “I’ll be right back.” He started off toward a patch of brush near the upward ciff.

“But Clay! You mean you’re just going to pee over there?”

“Yes, Rachel, I am just going to pee over there. I don’t know. I might take a bit of a dump actually, if it’s okay with you.”

“But—!”

“You worried about me polluting the environment?”

“No, no, but what about your food-waste system? You’re losing mass here. And/or water. Don’t you need to replenish the waste system’s—um, well, like, mass?”

He just smiled. He went over and took pee, and then he really did feel the need to do more, so with another smile back at her—she was still naked, busying herself about something around her own fighter—he got behind a bush and did more. Then he had a look at the result, which was quite solid; further details are not needed in the present narrative. Then he picked up a double handful of dirt and pine needles and walked back to his Ghost.

“Okay,” said Rachel, “show me what you’re doing.”

“Happy to,” he replied. He used a thumb to get a small outside hatch open, and he dropped his pile of dirt and needles into it. Then he left the little hatch open and went over to where a drizzle of water came streaming down the cliff and fell into a little pool, and he scooped some of that up with two hands and carried it, dripping, to the little hatch. There was more than enough. He shut the hatch, made absolutely sure it was sealed so that the skin of the Ghost closed solid over it, and then he walked back over to Rachel. He gave her a kiss, then bent to pick up his vac suit. “You really should do that too,” he said. “Padfoot told me it’s good for the system.”

“All right,” said Rachel, perhaps a bit miffed, “I will. Oh, you’re not getting dressed yet, are you? Boo.”

“Just to clean up,” said Clay. He pulled his vac suit up and zipped it partway up just to make it snug, and he pulled his hands into the suit’s gloves. He twiddled his fingers. “Ahhh. Feel the clean.”

Rachel gave him a funny look. “Well, then,” she said, “if Padfoot thinks it’s a good idea, I’d better do it myself, huh?”

“If you’re looking for a place to take a dump,” said Clay, “try a different bush.”

“I do not take a dump,” said Rachel. “I am a lady. I merely relieve myself of some more ex-boyfriend.” She left her grin behind her as she walked away. Ah, that mole.

A few minutes later, they were both in their vac suits, and while Rachel was measuring out cups of what looked like red wine, Clay was using a composite lid from his Ghost to fry up what amounted to tofu over a little twig fire. Some minutes later, no longer in their vac suits, they sat side by side on a big rock eating and drinking.

“This is the life,” said Rachel.

“Yep.”

“So,” said Rachel. “What is our next move? Is there anyplace you want to visit before we leave Earth? Your home town maybe?”

“No,” said Clay. “It’ll be wrecked. Anywhere coastal would be. The operations in the Atlantic would create fluctuations that would make the Bay of Fundy tides look like ripples. And the wave action is probably pretty bad too. For all we know, Camden is underwater, or it might be high and dry, or it might just be all smashed up. I don’t even want to see it.”

“Bangor? You lived in Bangor, and that was inland, right?”

“Yeah. No. I don’t want to go there.” He smiled at her. “I’m fine. I’m, as they say, good to go.”

“Okay,” said Rachel, talking a drink. “So go. Go where? Do we want to do anything about the mining operations?”

“Rachel. We can’t. We—!”

“Okay, good,” said Rachel, cutting him off with a wave of her cup. “It’s really pointless. If this were an adventure video, it’s what we’d do, like in, I don’t know, Star Treks or whatever. In the real world, I mean, the real universe, we’d get blown up.”

“On the other hand,” said Clay, “maybe there’s a base left they didn’t find. Mathilde?”

“I was thinking that,” said Rachel. “But we have to be careful, obviously. We don’t want to lead any bad guys to them. And of course, we could do some good learning about the operations. Don’t you think?”

He took a good drink. “I think so, sure.”

“And then,” said Rachel, “Alpha Centauri.”

“Alpha Centauri,” agreed Clay.

“Because, you know, we can’t do much about old Earth. But if these assholes come to Bluehorse, we need to say something about it.”

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