“Shoot on sight?! That’s the orders that the Acquis have out on me?”
Tom had explained that one of the Acquis guards who patrol the university had shown him a picture of Lucy and had let slip that everyone in the Acquis police who had been given her photograph had orders to shoot her on sight. It had been a bad enough shock to see her face plastered over the newspapers and accused of killing Golden Eagle, but to know that she could not go out on the street without risking being shot was too much.
“How do they know I had anything to do with the killing of Golden Eagle?”
“They don’t. It is just a convenient way of making you out to be a criminal,” said Tom.
“What do I do now?”
Moira and Tom were sitting round the kitchen table eating lunch. Lucy was pacing backwards and forwards holding that morning’s newspaper. Tom had brought it with him together with bread, cold meats and cheese. Moira felt that a bottle of wine might at least lighten the mood a little. “Right now you sit down and have some lunch. Here, have some wine.” She poured a glass of white and set it down at Lucy’s place at the table and emphasised her suggestion with an imperious finger. Lucy sat and took a sip of the wine, “Hey! This stuff’s good!”
“I don’t serve any old plonk here you know.”
“The red you gave us the night of my big fight was a bit ropey.”
“I’m not good with reds. White’s my thing really. Besides, we’d been drinking already.”
Lucy took a piece of bread and spread butter on it then took a couple of slices of cold meat. “Actually, all this stress is making me hungry.”
“What it is to be young!” Moira poked Lucy in the ribs.
“Hey stop that! I’m trying to eat here.”
Tom took another piece of bread and paused thoughtfully. “You know the interesting thing about this is that the circle-fighters have chosen not to identify you as Olly.”
“Why would they? They haven’t seen my face and while the mask is not that great a disguise it’s enough. The picture the Acquis are using is from the university records when I was an undergraduate. After all, taking photos is an expensive business and that was the last time I had one taken. I had longer hair then and was a bit chubbier in the face. The one in the newspaper is grainy and unclear. Also, why would they connect a university Docent with a circle-fighter: seems unlikely, doesn’t it?”
“It does indeed!” Tom put on a dumbfounded expression. “Anyway, I’m not here to enjoy lunch with you.” Moira sat up to say something. He held up a piece of bread and said, “I’m not just here to enjoy lunch with you.” Moira subsided. “An exit route has been organised for you, Lucy, and you will be pleased to know that it involves circle-fighting.”
“How did you manage that? You know nothing about circle-fighting,” said Moira, “Besides, I thought we were going to use the RRs to get her out.”
“We were, but I had a stroke of luck. I met with a Resistance member that works in the Broken South Transport Department. The meeting wasn’t actually about Lucy. One of my roles is to act as liaison between the University Resistance members and those in Transport. I have been doing some research on the mathematics of logistics for some years now and have established a relationship with the Transport Department. I connected with a member of the Resistance there by sheer luck some time ago and we decided that we would keep in contact. So when we met he happened to make casual conversation about your fight, Lucy, or rather, Olly. It appears he is a great fan of yours. I took a risk and said that you needed to get out of New London and somewhere safe from the Acquis. He became very excited and told me he came originally from Minehead and that circle-fighting was very popular in the area. Furthermore, his brother still lived there and actually ran the circle-fighting events in Minehead and the surrounding area. He felt sure that he could get his brother to take on Olly if he recommended her.”
“Wait a minute,” interrupted Moira. “How is Lucy going to get safely all the way to Minehead?”
“You haven’t been paying attention, Moira. The person I was talking to works for the Transport Department. He can get Lucy to Minehead in a road train.”
“Oh! Wow! I love road trains! I took a trip to Weymouth to visit a distant relation on a road train. I took the road train to Plymouth from New London which stops for a lunch break at Yeovil. After that I took an omnibus. I just loved the journey, thundering along those long straight roads in a set of carriages pulled by a massive steam truck, watching the world whizz by and stopping in interesting places for a refreshment break or to reload with energy crystals.”
“Don’t get too excited. It’s likely to be a freight train without much luxury and you will need to do some cycling for parts of the journey.”
“That sounds great! Tell me when I get started!”
Moira and Tom found Lucy’s enthusiasm infectious and Tom was disappointed not to be able to give her any more details. “That’s good. I will talk through the details with my colleague at Transport and we will put together a plan. It may be a couple of weeks before everything will be in place. Meanwhile, Lucy, you are going to have to stay hidden here.”
After a week or so Tom visited with some camera equipment. He said it was time to change Lucy’s appearance. Moira cut her hair short. Tom had brought some black hair-dye from his chemistry colleagues that was permanent. It would not wash out in normal hair-washing. They dyed her hair black as well as her eyebrows. Moira applied eye-make-up to make her eyes look darker. Tom gave her a pair of glasses with thick frames. The overall effect was to make her look very different from the Acquis picture. He took several pictures of her with a variety of backdrops and left.