The sun was touching the horizon as the swirls of colors filled the sky. Clouds streaked the view and mixed with pinks and purples as dawn settled. The shadows grew fainter near the hills of dirt to the left of the skiff.
Inside the vehicle, I sat at the wheel facing the windshield and staring out at the spectacular colors in this hour before sunrise illuminated all of the land.
I may never see anything this beautiful again.
The skiff remained steady in its mission as it plowed forward on its path. Outside, the temperature had dropped considerably during the night but the climate control system kept the skiff comfortable inside. The wind blew and even howled at times, which would help to cover if any very faint tracks had been left in the wake of the skiff.
Shifting into gear, the craft continued on this leg of the journey. This next hour would be the most enjoyable as I could watch the beginning of the day as darkness exited. There was enough cover in the shadows now to make it difficult, if not impossible, to be detected as a needle in the haystack of a planet.
I shifted weight in my seat as my back ached from sitting up and driving throughout the night. My achy bones were ready for a break. Reaching out, I grabbed another square of chocolate bar to try and boost my energy. There had been times at night where my eyelids had grown heavy, but I pushed through the exhaustion.
In the distance, a mountain of sand loomed as it kept watch over the barren and dusty lands. The dawn of a new day was starting to make an attempt to break through the horizon. When I was younger, my parents had taken me to some of the national parks in the western United States. Although there were no hoodoos here, there were some echoes of Bryce and Zion. The shadows of the desert this morning were as beautiful as I had ever seen.
So far, I had covered about eighty kilometers of the journey, placing me somewhere well beyond the boundary demarcating Sector VII. For now, I traveled without sound knowing that later I might turn on music. This was a time to appreciate the natural beauty of the red planet, in case I actually went home and one day might miss this life here. I would eventually sketch this moment in colors.
“Clutch time, and I don’t want to send this penalty kick sailing over the score board…” I muttered as I stared out at the miles and miles of new territory. “I’m queen for now…”
This brought a small smile to my lips as I gripped the wheel. Concentration over the next hour was imperative. The smallest of ravines could pose a life-threatening emergency and I had to be careful not to wreck the skiff. For this reason, I was making slower time than anticipated.
To pass the time last night, I tried to envision what the other outpost held. Would they welcome me with open arms? Would there be a fight? Would I be put in jail? And there were thoughts of Adam as I wondered just who exactly the boy known as Viper was.
Focusing on the road ahead took most of my energy. I left the lamps on for better visibility of the gravely, sandy stretches in front of me that were still somewhat dark. To my right, I monitored the MPS to ensure that I was en route and not off course. I was now less than twenty kilometers away from Pangaea II.
“Ready or not, here I come,” I whispered out to the brightening horizon.