“That would require a thousand years to accomplish.”
“More like two.”
Suddenly I wanted to sit and think, but was almost reluctant.
Then I did and she joined me. “What do you want from me?” I asked.
The aircar began to move.
“When we return I will try to explain the journey you must undergo.”
“Great. What’s one more journey for a traveler like me?”
“You should not be bitter, Stanton. If you accept, and you don’t have to accept, you can wander out there alone, we will let your friend Margaret accompany you.”
It was then I felt intrigued, anxious too, but I live best when I have goals, even impossible to reach goals. I felt myself nodding and smiled.
“I see you have decided. You must care deeply for your twenty-first century friend.” She patted my shoulder gently.
“After you explain what your overlords desire from me, I’ll give you my final decision.” The term overlords made her wince just enough for me to see it, but not enough for me to determine whether it was a reaction because she didn’t want to be controlled or a reaction because she was one of the controllers.
Time will tell, I thought and sat back after adjusting the projectile weapon. Then I thought, we set mental traps for ourselves and blame others when they get sprung. Have I just set one for myself?
I honestly could not decide, stood and walked to the cockpit, opened the small door between the pilot and us, leaned in, lifted my laser set on stun and knocked him out.
When I turned back the watch my companion’s reaction, I saw the surprise and shock I expected, but also a strong hint of resignation as if I’d forced her to confront the false reality she attempted to establish for me by using my feeling for Margaret.
“Now here are my terms for your life.” I lifted the laser where she might see it easily and tapped the setting until the red kill light was lit. “You release Margaret and me in a place where we can not be assaulted by your army.”
I kept the laser pointed at her, waved for her to sit and when she did used rope from my backpack to tie her so she was helpless. “I will kill the pilot first. Right after I use the setting we soldiers call total disability on you. Even if you should survive the crash, you will be helpless for the remaining years of your life.”
“I made you a perfect offer. Why do you do this?” She seemed to think she sounded confused, but her eyes betrayed her. They were filled with rage and hate.
So I ignored her question, let her see me again change the laser’s settings and pointed it at the base of her neck where it would do as I said.
“And should you agree to my terms, you will be my hostage until I feel it is safe to release you.”
“That will not stop them from hunting and killing you both.”
I walked to where she placed her small tablet, tapped it and watched as the screen filled with data. I turned it to face her as if I thought she might be surprised at what I learned. “You are the daughter of the president of this place, whatever the hell you call it. You will not be killed, and therefore neither will Margaret and I.”
I dropped the tablet on her lap. “Decide now,” I said. “Your transportation is about to spiral out of control.” I pointed at the pilot. He was leaning against the control shaft.
“Once we are down at ground level and I have Margaret, I want an armored land vehicle waiting for us and body armor for both her and I. I will have a weapon pressed against the middle of your back so if I get shot or Margaret does, my finger will jerk reflexively and you die instantly. No one gets two choices. Tell your underlings that I will have no difficulty killing you if necessary and I decide what is or isn’t.”
She looked at me, green eyes hovering between real fear and acceptance. Finally she nodded. “Free my right hand and I will arrange everything.”