A fast-paced adventure, not the type that Interzone features that often. We are plunged straight away into the titular vehicle as it plunges towards a potential crash on Mars, and then the clock is rolled back to find out how we have arrived at this point.
The background and world-building is the best part of the story. The two main characters have been tasked to protect a diplomat at a time of tension. Shai Laren is a novice in the ‘church’ to which they belong, and they wear distinctive veils and clothing, their skin has ‘iridiphores’ that enables their skin to change colour, and they wear a ‘pneuma machine’, an exoskeleton lattice of hi-tech that interfaces with them neurally, offering input and guidance.
The story itself – murder on the train, betrayal, dramatic knife fight on the roof of the train (including somersaulting gymnastics and lots of detail on the choreography of the fight) is fine enough. And having set up an interesting background, the story leaves the reader in a position to read more about it, as the conclusion has the novice suddenly deciding to leave behind her ‘church’ and job to seek out truth and resolution to the bigger picture, which doesn’t sit quite comfortably with her earlier inexperience and lack of confidence.
And an improvement in