“Barring RealLife…”

The next morning, my boss asked if I could come in for half days over the weekend, as well as cover some over Thanksgiving.  Given the Dog with the Golden Nose and my lay-about wife, I’ll take what money I can.  But, that means I’ll be working two weeks straight.  While I’ve the spirit to come home and write, my flesh is rather tired, dragging myself through the door at 1745 in the dark and cold.

But I’ll keep trying.  Here’s some more of Nichole.  I need to write the last two segments from Joe’s POV, so I can weave them together in the editing phase.

She was pleased to see how well they were trained: Filks and the others in her view rolled for cover and concealment as they dragged their MOPPs on. She’d been given nothing of the sort, but, of course, didn’t need it. Still, it would be a huge tell if she didn’t assume protective covering…

There were more pops from the direction of the first. Seconds later, those shells landed just behind them.

A rolling barrage of gas, she realized. And, completing her thought, those Regulars…

There was one other, not a Regular. Without MOPPs.

She turned and ran back up the ramp onto the bridge. She’d make up some lie, later.

There was an open, broken mortar shell in the midst of the road before her. If I run through it, it will be all over my skin, and will kill whomever touches me!

She jumped. High.

Eighteen percent! her subprocessors screamed into her thinking mind. Overridden and ignored, she ran on. Ah! There he was, just where she’d left him! She waved with both hands for him to get up; he made it to one knee.


She leaned down and caught him, Joe’s stomach slammed into her left shoulder.


“Gas attack!” She yelled, accelerating even as she ran further up the bridge.

“Gas?” He managed.

“We don’t have suits!” She yelled back.

“Then put me – ahh!” He struggled slightly. Nichole tightened her left arm just shy of cracking his spine.

“Be still, stupid! I am faster!”

There was an odd, three note horn tone; ah! The captain’s signal for what was left of his command to return to the barge! That must mean…

As she carried her First Friend out onto the bridge, proper, she heard the wail of a siren from the far side. I wonder –

With a series of impossibly loud cracks and bangs, the metal around them and concrete below them began to fragment; the roadway dropped away from beneath her feet.

Of course, she thought. It would have to be one of the end spans; had they dropped the middle, it would foul ship traffic.

From what she’d seen on the barge’s way in, they were due for a drop of about thirty meters. Joe was yelling something as they fell, but all of her attention was twisting them about so that she’d land under him. Falling, she analyzed his flailing as his attempt to do the same to her.

So nice! But she was having none of it.

Just before they hit the water, a final twist of them both had their faces separated by inches. Joe’s fear and concern for her was carved into his features. She let her eyes flash as she wrapped her legs about him and pulled his head tight into her chest.


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