"We both find satisfaction. Only one of us finds truth. Now tell me, who is more likely to have truth, the movie directors or the Truth Himself?"
"So long as you reserve the right to define your deity as the embodiment of truth, you will never lose this argument."Smyrna smiled, "And if we define Him as anything else, He isn't God anymore, and you win this argument."
Nic returned to studying the successful methods of his scientific colleague at fire inducement. Apparently the reduced surface area of the wound up log of paper gave it more sustainability. In the case of natural disaster, natural selection might favor Christians after all.
They both sat there looking at the fire for a moment longer, then Smyrna retreated to a corner of the room, behind a pile of junk. Nic listened to the silence for a moment, then returned to the infinitesimally small hum and hiss of the embers. The old man was praying, undoubtedly.
The ex-governor considered his options among plans. He had the weapon, both of them, the virus and the Red Rain. The best part was that no one knew it, which gave him more time. Still, Nic could barely make sense of his own actions. He had never really decided on what his true course was. He had played off both sides when it came to contracting to make Red Rain happen. He had then abandoned one of them in randomly escaping, but here he was unwilling to give over his weapon to the others. He did not like the anarchists idealism, or their methods of procuring it, nor did he like the fascists and their totalitarian arrogance. In the words of a fantastic creature from a centuries old epic, he was on no one's side, because no one was on his side.
Or maybe in his case it was the opposite. No one would take the Dr. Nic who could defeat them at anything except maybe running a marathon. No one would take the man who had been evicted to Mars and there been one step from being history's greatest terrorist. The school valedictorian with a criminal record. And now, apparently, he was nothing more than a loose end to a group of religious vagabonds that lived like worms. Only a few people had ever really tolerated his contradictions, and only two had loved him despite his volatile tendencies. Cea had stuck with him always, an essential support. They had taken the other one.
No matter the craze of his circumstances, Nic remained calm for one reason. He knew he had the trump card. He was in control here. If captured, all he had to do was plea bargain his way to freedom by offering Red Rain in return for whatever he wanted.
What he most wanted, though, was to be back on the red planet. Back away from all these frivolous people who seemed to all be either caught up in worshiping a God or persecuting those that did.
There was a stirring over on the female side of the room. Nic turned, but his eyes had adjusted to the firelight, and looking into the darkness he could see nothing. He listened, trying to guess who it was. A sudden sniff that had stifled a gasp told him. It was that Christian girl named after one of the oldest cities in North America.
Nic felt the eye-contact at the same time. He turned back to the fire, but it hardly lessened the awkwardness. Nic made a joke of the situation, "Don't worry, it isn't Hell. I know that it is dark, and there is a fire, and I am here, but that doesn't make it Hell. If I remember right, Hell has something about dragons and sulfur and stuff."
Philadelphia just stood in the semi-dark in the same clothes she had worn since she escaped from her own prison. That wasn't the same Nic she had dealt with before.
(to be continued after I go eat dinner)