"You can't escape."  The hologram of his pursuers flickered in front of him.  He walked through it to the modified fire truck he'd retrofitted to survive out here.  The baby girl he carried waved an arm at the hologram trying to reach it, frowning.

"You're really going to nuke every place I try to go?" Ned spoke over his shoulder at the flickering figure.

"If we have to."  The woman in the hologram frowned back at the baby.

"You are not hooking her up to that thing."  He lifted the child up into the truck, and belted her into the seat.

"It's why she was made."  The figure in the hologram rolled her eyes. "We need her to mature in it so she can run it when the old God dies.

"I don't care.  You can't have her.  If she wants to when she's older, we'll talk."  He walked around the front of the truck, and watched the mushroom cloud blossom where the settlement he'd been trying for had been.  "You're going to exterminate what's left of society to get her back.  Funny, don't see how that's saving them."

"Neither is stealing the battery and controller that runs reality."  The hologram slid a hand through her hair, pulling at it in frustration.  "She'll be a God."

"She IS a child."  He climbed into the truck and started it.  "Come on, sweetheart.  I think I figured out somewhere they can't chase us down."

He turned the truck north, and set off across the sandy wastes.

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