Author: Alastair Millar

I was on my way to Marvin’s to relax after a crappy day when opportunity reared its ugly head.

It had all started with my boyfriend telling me that “we weren’t working out” – but only after he’d stayed the night and let me make him breakfast, of course. Turned out he was dumping me so that he could share quarters with one of those slutty odalisques from the Ares Lounge’s famous Living Tableaux instead. Scumbag.

Then my shift manager had got on my case all afternoon about not having moved enough rubble this week. I told her, there’s a lot more iron in those rocks than we were told, and that means they’re harder for my boys and girls to break up, dammit, but no, apparently Mars is going to fall to pieces if the new shuttle pad isn’t cleared by yesterday, and it’s all my fault. Bitch, it’s never her getting her hands dirty.

So yeah, I needed a drink or five, some prettyboy holos to watch, and maybe some recreational sniffers if they weren’t too expensive this week – you know how prices always go up as the supply runs low, and TransCorp’s last delivery was a while back.

The roar and the bright light caught me on Gagarin Avenue, as I was walking past Central Hub’s tourist centre and trying to ignore its garish scrolling ads. I was unexpectedly airborne for a few seconds, and then everything went black.

When I woke up, I was here, in a ward full of strangers. It was tempting to play dumb; if I didn’t give a name, it would be longer before I had to deal with angry screens from my supervisor, or fake sympathy from my newly-Ex. Or anything else requiring actual thought, for that matter. But they’d just scan my iris and run it through Records, so in the end I figured the extra half hour wouldn’t be worth the effort.

A nurse who looked far too young to have qualified for an off-Earth posting told me that I’d been caught in a terrorist attack: the Arean League making a splash. Apparently they want a new start for the planet, by which they mean independence and something they call a “reset to harmony”. Sounds good, I could use one myself.

So here I am. The busted rib alone’s going to keep me out of my suit for a few weeks, and they say I’ll need physio before I can walk properly again. All for somebody else’s ideals. Guess I’m here for the duration. But at least I’ll be able to catch up on the soaps, and relax for a bit, with nobody on my case.

And in a few minutes, that handsome doctor’s due back, sympathetic and caring, with those deep blue eyes I could happily drown in. The girl in the next bed told me she knows his mother, and he’s still single because he was born a Martian, not a Terran. Most people don’t want a relationship that would have to end when they went back Earthside. Me, I always meant to be here for the long haul anyway, so if other people want to get hung up on stupid things like that, I’m happy to take advantage.

Somewhere in the background, hospital radio is playing, an old Industrial Era classic about love and how there’s got to be some good times ahead. Thanks Freddie, it feels right. Now to make it happen.