The harvesters sucked up tonne after tonne of Martian soil, dehydrating the clumps and analysing samples for potential mineral processing, storing valuable water for use by the colonists.
Guin hugged Shadowgrass tighter.
She had not known had much missing him had put an ache inside her which had turned her muscles to stone.
“Mom, how did you keep the ISSA Net from knowing your location? It’s virtually impossible!”
Guin looked at her son in wonder and awe.
At little over two years of age, almost three, Shadowgrass was already a man in many ways. He knew so much more than she did, building vast complex networks of memories and calculative intuition circuitry across the solar system, she was surprised when he asked her a question for which he didn’t know the answer or hadn’t developed a strong hypothesis to support or debate what he knew she was about to say.
“You really don’t know?”
He shook his head.
Was it really a black hole she and Lee had passed through?
It WAS something, something that had changed their relationship, enjoining them in ways that physical intimacy could not explain.
Guin sent a thought to Lee that the ISSA Net could not trace. Lee laughed in his thoughts and agreed — the unknown was more fun than the known.
“Well, sweetheart, I don’t have an answer for you.”
“I still want to get revenge on Collapsaricus!”
” I know you do but we don’t know what it was or where it went.”
“But we do! An astronomer is tracking a high-speed change in the flow of dust on another spiral arm of the galaxy. He thinks it might be disturbance caused by Collapsaricus.”
“Let’s not worry about it right now. Instead, why don’t you tell me about your new friend. She seems interesting.”
“She is. I’ve examined my set of thoughts and determined through testable theories that I’m experiencing what you and Dad described as the time you first fell in love with each other.”
“That’s wonderful! Isn’t love grand?”
He nodded his head.
Guin watched the clouds of dust billowing out from behind the harvesters. She wanted to rush back to the lab and catch up on her work but holding Shadowgrass felt so good. She had missed too much of his growing up for her to lose any more precious moments with her son.
She sighed and put her chin on his shoulder.
What if Shadowgrass’ new girlfriend wanted to move back to Earth? Would he go with her? What if they had children? Would Guin want to see them, spend time with them, return to a planet that had nurtured her and encouraged her to explore Mars? What did Lee think? And where was Bai?