Gabriel managed to pilot the failing Renegade for almost two more hours, keeping his speed as high as possible without burning out the engines. His pursuers had fallen back long ago, but he did not slow down until he was far from ELA or Novan controlled space. As the Kniv began to lurch and stumble with every step Gabriel finally brought it to a gradual stop.
Opening up the cockpit he carefully pulled himself free from the harness and dropped to the ground, leaving a thick trail of blood behind him. The wound on his back had yet to stop bleeding fully, but the injection from the Kniv’s life support system had slowed the bleeding significantly. He would bandage it later.
He glanced around the open plains he had escaped to. Back the way he came was Sanctuary, a name that held a somewhat ironic taste now. To his left was Freeport. To his right was a mine that was currently disputed between Nova and the ELA. And in front of him…
In front of him was uncontested territory. Vast swathes of harsh land aligned with neither the ELA nor Nova. And beyond that… He didn’t know.
Gabriel peeled off his helmet and sucked in the crisp evening air before he reached into his pocket. His fingers closed around the note Rachel had slipped into his palm when she had shaken his hand. Slowly he unfolded the paper and read the single word.
A simple message that had needed no explanation when combined with Sani’s insistence that he use the Titan. He closed his fist around the note and returned it to his pocket. Shaking his head he climbed into the Kniv and retrieved the survival pack from beneath the seat. It contained enough food to last a week, water purification tablets, a transmitter, and a collapsible hunting rifle.
He left the transmitter in the cockpit and ran his hand along the partially destroyed controls, activating the Kniv’s autopilot. Even though he had already ripped out the tracking device, along with any other systems that transmitted to Nova, from the Kniv’s cockpit, he still didn’t trust that the Kniv couldn’t be traced. He hopped down gingerly as the Kniv began to move, its great body lumbering onward. He estimated it would continue on for another hour or so before it broken down completely. Maybe two if he was lucky.
Gabriel spared one final glance up at the sky where he knew Nova was orbiting high above before he shouldered the pack into a more comfortable position and began to walk.