Under Dark Sky Law
official name, but she’d spent
enough time in the trenches with Sanchez that it felt weird to have
him call her that.
    He stretched his arms back farther over his
head. “You know I have to go by the books around here. Can’t let
them think we’re fraternizing or something like that,” he said and
    “Right, heaven forbid,” she said
sarcastically, but it really was a big problem. She was pretty sure
they basically lopped off your dick in the decon process if you
fucked anyone from the pits. He widened his eyes at her, partially
in jest, but there was some genuine fear there.
    She smirked. “Don’t worry, I don’t kiss and
tell,” she said.
    He put his feet back on the floor. “I know,”
he said and paused. “Alright, enough of this chit chat. Let’s get
this show on the road before any other shit hits the fan.”

    She was visibly more comfortable once they
were out of the flats and back out in the wilds. Even though
technically the air was worse, she was more accustomed to the
particular mix of dust and pollution out in the pits, and there was
another critical difference—everyone out there knew she was the
boss, and you’d have to be completely stupid to fuck with her in
her own territory.
    Sanchez was at the wheel of the black
tactical vehicle, a full-face gas mask pulled over his head. “Yeah,
you know these budget cuts are murder—we can’t even get the
clearance to oxygenate and filter the whole cabin while we’re
driving anymore. It’s total bullshit. You can barely see the road
clearly with one of these things on,” he said over the mask’s
    Xero was wondering how much of it was budget
cuts, and how much of it was dwindling resources. From the looks of
the river running through the flats, shit was not going well on the
environmental front. Maybe things would change in her lifetime
after all.
    “You want me to drive?” she said.
    He scoffed. “Nah, I’ve gotten used to it, and
my CO would have my head if he knew I surrendered a vehicle to a
runner before being processed in the dome. Be thankful we won the
fight to let you guys hang onto weapons prior to an actual supply
run. We’ll be there shortly anyway,” he said.
    After too many expensive hunks of cargo had
gone missing they had reevaluated the weapons policy, and three
years ago they’d finally agreed to let lasers get issued to the pit
runners. It made runs that much more fun. Usually she only got to
play with lasers when they were on illegal missions inside the dome
where laser tracking was far less controlled. She loved new toys,
especially ones that go boom.
    “Thanks for the weapons upgrade, by the by. I
haven’t actually gotten my hands on one of these babies yet,” she
said and patted the shiny white laser gun on her hip. “I bet this
thing could smoke someone on the other side of the desert.”
    He nodded. “Fuck yeah! I don’t know how we
can afford these new upgraded lasers when we can’t afford oxygen,
but I’ll take it. Just be careful—they’re powerful enough that
there’s actually some recoil on them, like the old six shooters,”
he said.
    She smiled and leaned her head up against the
window. “Won’t be a problem for me. I learned how to shoot with
real weapons, long before these plastic things became the norm. Any
true weapon’s specialist should know how to handle a real gun,” she
    “Damn right,” he said. “These kids nowadays
get to cheat. Any bastard can pull off a half decent shot with some
of these fancy lasers.” She had seen his skills with old school
weapons, and he had the ability to back up his words with action.
He wasn’t as good as she was, of course, but still, not bad. Good
enough for her to trust him to cover her back in a firefight at
    The desert in this area was peaceful, but so
barren that it made her sad. The saguaro cactus in this area hadn’t
had enough time to recover and adapt properly to the influx of
pollution like they had

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