The girl beside her kept wriggling. She shifted positions and flung both elbows on their shared armrests. Tomas sighed internally. If she showed annoyance it would encourage the child, but this was getting ridiculous.
“Can I help you with something?” Tomas did her best to sound stern. It didn’t work.
“Are you a dangerous person?” The little girl asked. Tomas blinked. The girl couldn't have said that, children hadn’t gotten that weird in the years since she was one. This was a side-effect of her incarceration. Lingering stress or something like that. As the box trundled along the barren surface of this white-washed moon, Tomas closed her eyes. No way was she letting some random kid get to her.
Images from prison flashed against her eyelids. She had spent so long there – on that asteroid made of glass. And then, the massacre. Bodies floating everywhere, armed patrol officers in 0-G boots. The bank decided to close its investment. Most prisoners died. The useful ones, the ones they could rationalize paying for, didn’t. Tomas had always hated the bank. Now she was running errands for them. Missions that no one else would do. Tomas was the first arsonist this galaxy had seen in fifty years. She had no rights. No one who would sue the bank in her memory. What a profit margin.
Somebody else was sat to the right of Tomas, the girl’s mother? Most of the people in this mega bus were tourists come to see the opulent city of Pundoon. Tomas was going to feel bad when she started a fire there. The woman to her right was asleep, her mouth opening and closing – like a fish above water. Tomas imagined all the oxygen ripped from her lungs. Her eyes would expand, and her tongue would distend.
That’s the thing about settling on barren planets. All your colonies are stuck in little bubbles on the surface. That or underground. Oxygen has to recycle, and the population must be kept under strict control. An arsonist, a pyrotechnic? Hell, might as well have been a serial killer.
“Why’d you ask that?” Tomas turned towards the little girl. They both spoke Standard, but the girl talked with a slight moon-belt accent. Manifolding starchasers. She drew her eyes away from the floor.
“My mommy said people with tattoos cannot be trusted,” the child said, “and that makes you dangerous.” Tomas laughed, the sound was dry and throaty. She needed another hydration tablet.
“Always listen to your mother kid,” Tomas said, and glanced down. At the bottom of Tomas’s left ankle, where the bone stuck out, was a small tattoo of a candle.