Probably THE biggest story on the interwebs last week is the murder of Cecil the lion. Wikipedia has an unemotional couple of paragraphs of the facts. Essentially, American dentist Walter Palmer paid two men in Zimbabwe $50,000 to deliver a lion for him to kill. They lured the cat out of a national park, where Palmer shot and wounded him with an arrow. Cecil was later killed with a rifle, and his body skinned.
I suppose our American dentist thought he was brave, accepting the challenge to bring down a lion with an arrow. Adventure, you know? Excitement. Blood lust. Killing. A photo with a dead lion. “I did that.” But in the end, it was a high-powered rifle that did the dead. Excuse me while I vomit.
The aftermath of this event has been quite remarkable. Facebook, Twitter and the like have erupted in outrage. The two Zimbabweans who Palmer paid are facing charges, and it seems Zimbabwe wants to extradite Palmer for poaching. Zimbabwe does allow hunting of wildlife, but only in designated areas, under a quota. And though I don’t like the idea, I suppose I can understand it. There’s only so much space and so much game for top predators. But the two Zimbabweans didn’t follow the rules. I have no sympathy for them, but they at least are facing the legal consequences.
Palmer, safe at home in the USA, is another matter. A large crowd reportedly converged on Palmer’s dental practice in Minneapolis, causing him to close his office and go into hiding with his family. Yes, it all does sound like a witch hunt, a lynch mob baying for Palmer’s blood. He’ll be fine. The fuss will die down in a few weeks, or days, when something else excites the public imagination. But the lion is still dead.
Mobs baying for blood is wrong, but I make no apology for adding my two cents worth to the chorus. Palmer is not the only one. We often see photos of “hunters” posing with dead animals on Facebook. I wonder how stupidly short-sighted these people can be. Our world is bursting at the seams with one invasive species and everything else gives way before its voracious demand for land, water, air – everything. Remember all the animals in your childhood picture books? Lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, leopards, gorillas, urang utans? They’re all under threat because of US. You and me. People. This is why I wrote my two paranormal tiger books, and why I donate the proceeds, little as they may be, to tiger conservation.
I’m delighted to say that the Government has banned hunting trophies from entering Australia. The uproar over Cecil’s death has provided an opportunity to have the same legislation passed in the US, and maybe other countries around the world. Add your signature to this petition. It’s a small thing, but it might make a difference. If these so-called “hunters” can’t bring home the heads and skins of their victims, they may not bother.
Please, please give a thought to the wild world. We humans should be part of an ecosystem, just one component of a complex tapestry of life on this Earth. We’ve upset that balance so much I doubt we’ll ever be able to bring it back completely. And on that happy note, I’ll end.
Vale, Cecil. May your death not be completely in vain.
Look, I’m a space nut. It says so on the header up there. So when NASA announced the discovery of “Earth 2.0″ I was as excited as the next space nut.
But let’s put this into context, people. What do we really KNOW about this planet, as FACT?
- It’s in the constellation of Cygnus, 1,400 light years from Earth.
- It orbits a star slightly larger than our sun, but of the same solar type.
- The planet has an orbit of 385 Earth days.
- It’s slightly larger than Earth.
And that’s it.
Let’s face it folks, astronomers have done a LOT of conjecturing on what amounts to a slight dip in the brightness of the star as the planet passes across its face. Science Alert has a rather good article about the discovery, with a little less hype.
We don’t know how long its day is. We don’t know the composition of its atmosphere. We might think it’s rocky but we can’t be certain. We certainly can’t suggest for a moment that its surface looks like the wonderful artist’s impression at top left. We should remember that Mars and Venus are in our sun’s habitable zone. Venus, in particular, could be seen as Earth’s twin – from a distance.
That said, (and to quote Captain Piett) it’s the best lead we’ve had. He was promoted to Admiral not long after that. Maybe we should send a star fleet to check Kepler 452b out. Maybe we’ll meet some Klingons.
Spaceships are not prominent in the universe of the Grand Masters. The majority of interplanetary transport is via the portal web. Travel is almost instantaneous and any discomfort experienced by spinning through the void disappears in a picosecond. An interesting effect is that it is faster to port to your friend on the opposite side of the galaxy than to phone them. Phone messages travel at the speed of light and will only be effective between adjacent planets, for example, Earth and Mars. Messages can be written on paper or keyed into a com chip and then delivered by portal through the Interplanetary Communications System. The Grand Masters have a type of miniportal in their coms for exchanging messages, but this advanced technology is not available to ordinary folk.
The last of the huge sleeper ships left Terra a millennium ago, although isolated human colonies can still be discovered in remote regions. Humans are tenacious. Space Corps employs a fleet of spacecraft and drones to explore uncharted regions of the galaxy. Even the Griffin Grand Master uses drones in his search for the ancients. When an inhabited planet is found, a portal can be installed by the technicians on the spaceships. The Space Corps scouts play a key role in repairing the portals during the crisis when portals fail at random.
Violet uses a shuttle to travel from the moon to the planet when she visits the dragon lords of Sythos. She also flies a skimmer, or small personal aircraft, when traveling from the nearest portal station to visit her mother or her tutor.
Spin across the galaxy as Violet and her Grand Master hunt their enemies.
Cracks in the portal web threaten galactic civilization, and suspicions fall on the mysterious Grand Masters with their immense psychic powers. Once, there were twelve Grand Masters, humans and aliens, on the Council. Now there are eleven. One was killed when the young pawn, Violet, rescued her Grand Master, Athanor, from the Red Queen’s dungeon. The Red Queen fled the fight and now she lurks out of sight, regenerating her energies.
Athanor devises a risky plan to expose his enemies on the Council and force the Red Queen into the open. His strategy will employ Violet’s empathic skills as his secret weapon. Meanwhile, she wrestles with her erratic talents and doubts about their unequal partnership. In their search for revenge, they contend with the portal crisis, psychic traps and hostile aliens. In the inevitable battle of Grand Masters, Violet and Athanor each will face their worst nightmares. What is the sacrifice for victory?
Buy Link: Amazon
Two men in gray uniforms entered the conference room, burly Sergeant Hepple followed by slim Private Ronyang.
The Sergeant’s broad face was creased in a worried frown. He brightened on seeing Violet and greeted her warmly, “Miss Hunter, our paths cross again.”
Ronyang threw her a quick smile before his olive face reverted to seriousness.
After briefly introducing the two scouts, Kondric said, “You remember Violet Hunter. Her companion, Griffin, exchanges information with Space Corps on planets outside the portal web.”
He waved a hand at the table. “Take a seat. I called you here to discuss our little problem.” Kondric took the chair at one end of the oval table, intending to preside over the meeting. The two scouts took seats near the door, while the Grand Master pulled out the chair next to Violet. He laid his arm across her shoulders with casual possessiveness and Violet was amused by his unconscious impulse in the presence of possible rivals.
He caught her flash of insight and sent, “You are my pawn. Would you prefer me to ignore you?”
“Of course not! I love your touch.” She suppressed a smile in deference to the glum faces of the Space Corps men.
Effortlessly exerting his superior authority, Athanor glared at the two scouts and barked. “What happened on Haven?”
Private Ronyang glanced nervously towards Kondric, who was the senior officer at the table. Kondric gave a nod of consent.
His gaze glued on the Grand Master’s grim face, Sergeant Hepple explained in a rush, “We’d parked the ship in orbit round Haven to stock up on fresh food. Our team hopped to the portal station outside the town of Muddybank. When we got the message from Major Trenet, we reconfigured the portal for bulk transport. As usual, we set a roster for guard duty. I got the evening slot. Late in the evening, red lights flared over the town and we heard explosions. Two of our men raced back from the town and reported an attack.” He paused for breath and glanced at Ronyang.
Athanor’s brows lowered in a frown. “Who attacked?” he asked.
Sergeant Hepple gestured to his left. “Private Ronyang saw what happened.” The Sergeant nodded at him to proceed with the report.
Ronyang gulped and burst into speech, “I was walking through the town when a whole bunch of giant insects dropped from the sky. They had shiny black bodies, two pairs of wings and six red eyes. The ugly critters grabbed the nearest townsfolk in their huge mandibles. Their screams were awful! Everyone else scattered, running for their lives. I did the same. In the distance, I saw a red giantess rise over the roofs of the houses. She tossed lightning at the terrified inhabitants. So, I raced back to the station to report.”
“Our enemy, the Red Queen!” Violet gasped in dismay.
“Outrageous!” Livid with rage, Athanor leaped to his feet and leaned his hands on the table top. His disguise slipped. He loomed as a grim figure of menace with the eerie blue fire in his eyes. “By the fires of Hades,” his voice boomed. “The Red Queen has gone too far. She has broken the Council treaties by attacking an unprotected human colony. You couldn’t bring worse news.”
Aurora Springer is a scientist morphing into a novelist. She has a PhD in molecular biophysics and discovers science facts in her day job. She has invented adventures in weird worlds for as long as she can remember. In 2014, Aurora achieved her life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven romances set in weird worlds described with a sprinkle of humor. Some of the stories were composed thirty years ago. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the keyboard. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like gardening, watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.
Aurora has published science fiction romances in two series, two novellas and short stories. Her first series, Atrapako on Eden, describes the interactions of humans on the terraformed planet of Eden with scaled aliens from the hostile planet of Vkani. She has published two books in this series: The Lady is Blue and Dragons of Vkani. Her second series is Grand Master’s Trilogy. Book 1, Grand Master’s Pawn, was published in March 2015. Book 2, Grand Master’s Game, is available for pre-order and release on July 17th. Her short story, Gifts of Jangalore, is set in the Grand Masters’ Universe. Her standalone novellas are: A Tale of Two Colonies and Captured by the Hawk.
Getting older has its trials. You get sick of the endless “old fart” comics and jokes about hearing loss, memory loss, libido loss etc. You get sick of the equally endless round of emails pointing out how much better it was ‘back then’. Or the ones that ask if you remember what the relationship was between a cassette and a pencil. You get sick of being told you’re only as old as you feel. In a way, of course, that last one’s true. There was a meme going around Facebook (correctly spelled and everything) that said “Inside every old person there’s a young person wondering what the hell happened.” The brain is alive and well and firing on all cylinders but the body… the body’s suffering from shell shock. Not so very long ago I used to be able to stand with my feet together, and rest my palms on the floor in front of me. These days it’s a painful struggle to put on a pair of socks.
You’re probably wondering what caused this particular rant. Death. That’s what. I read a blog post this morning written by an online friend. She related the demise of a backyard robin at the paws of next door’s cat, then talked about three human deaths, all different, with different impacts on the living. One stood out to me – the fellow who had a massive heart attack. The doctor wouldn’t accept death and tried all manner of invasive treatments to resurrect him. In the end, his son told the doctors to let him go. And the blogger related the story of the deceased as he’d been eighteen months before, aware of his mortality, aware of the limitations caused by his condition, and resigned – even content – that death comes at the end.
An hour or two later I read an article written by Graham Richardson, well-known political commentator and a stalwart of the Hawke government. About the same age as me, he explained how he’d been diagnosed with cancer in 1999. How he should have sought treatment earlier, but being a typical bloke, didn’t. The first op kind of worked, but some of the deadly cells remained to spring up and grow again. As they do. The article (in the Weekend Australian 4th July 2015) is well worth a read, and gives an insight into chemotherapy, cancer treatment, and its effects. It now seems Richo will have to have an operation to remove his bladder, bowel, prostate, colon and rectum. He will be fitted with colostomy bags which would have to be emptied regularly. The man is already in constant pain.
And I thought to myself, “Not me.” When you get to your mid-sixties you can pretty much guarantee you will have seen death in many different guises. My mother died of bowel cancer, as did my oldest sister. Another sister wiled away the last years of her life in an old folks’ home where she needed help for just about everything. Three or four people I know died of pancreatic cancer, the one where the diagnosis is always too late. The doctors can take bits out of you to offer a semblance of being alive, but who wants to live like that?
Well, let me tell you, folks, when the seven-foot skeleton with the scythe and the brilliant blue orbs in his eye sockets comes to call, if the options are the living death of constant pain, or being eviscerated, or coughing my lungs into a handkerchief, I’ll move along, thanks.
There has been outrage amongst my circle of writer friends about the response to E.L. James’s new contribution to literature. For those just emerging from a cave or whatever, this is Grey, the same story told in her Fifty Shades trilogy, but from Christian Grey’s point of view. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be disappointed and frustrated to learn that Grey sold in excess of one million copies in four days. The question, inevitably, is why?
It’s not JUST marketing. Whether we like it or not, James’s faux BDSM rode the crest of a popularity wave, from whence it was picked up by Random House. Despite the cries of lousy writing, lack of editing, and the depiction of an abusive relationship, the books have out-sold everything except the Bible. People queued for this latest missive.
I should be so lucky.
James hit a nerve. She excited people’s imagination – even, dare I say, the many, many people who bought the books just to see if they were really as awful as everyone said they were. I read a few excerpts online but BDSM erotica (if that’s what it is) is not my thing, so I wasn’t tempted to read any more.
And that brings me back to the real point of this post – reader expectations. If you get it right, as James clearly did, riding on the coat tails of the mystifyingly popular Twilight, you make a killing.
My very good friend, Nya Rawlyns, writes in a variety of genres but these days her books seem to be classified as gay romance. Which is sad, because often it isn’t true. Take her latest offering The Eagle and the Fox.
Marcus Colton buried his long-time lover and best friend three years ago. Lonely and still grieving, Marcus finds solace in keeping his business afloat but that doesn’t help him get through the long, dark nights.
Damaged souls converge as violence wracks the small community of Centurion, WY. The town protects its own so when Kit Golden Eagle shows up, it’s easy to place blame on the stranger.
Kit Golden Eagle is running. From poverty, from abuse. Forced to live by his wits, the Ojibwe teen slowly succumbs to living a life of hate and lies.
It looks open and shut, but for Josiah and Marcus the facts simply don’t add up.
Something’s rotten in Centurion, something that smacks of a hate crime…
Unfortunately, this excellent book is diminished by reader expectations. Some look at the cover and expect a paranormal with shape shifters. (The eagle and the fox, you see.) Others will read the blurb and realise Kit Golden Eagle and Josiah Foxglove might be the eagle and the fox. That, and the fact no mention is made of shape shifting and the book isn’t listed as paranormal. Heck, it’s not even listed as a romance, yet it has been judged as one.
Expectations, you see.
If it’s listed in gay literature, it has to be a romance, it has to be steamy. Except it’s not. Sure, there’s a romance arc – with sex, even. Life tends to be like that – love will find a way. But it’s a loooong way short of the whole story.
What this book is is a slice of life in a small American town, where the drought hits hard and despair hits harder. Foxglove is a war vet with PTSD. Marcus is an in-the-closet gay man who has lost his partner. Petilune is a vulnerable young girl with a learning disability and Kit Golden Eagle is an embittered Native American kid making his way in the world as best he can. And, as the blurb says, something’s rotten in Centurion which will enmesh the whole community.
I love the way Rawlyns brings the tiny town of Centurion, overshadowed by Wyoming’s Snowy Range, to life. You don’t have to be American to relate. Transfer the story to a dusty wheat belt town in Western Australia and it’ll still make sense. Because it’s about the characters, you see. It isn’t a boiler plate, paint by numbers romance, it’s a slice of life with all the complexity that involves. Nothing like the nasty, fantasy world of Christian Grey.
This book is very difficult to slot into a box. I’ve spent some time considering where I’d put it on a bookshelf. Let’s see now… a slice of life starring a range of disadvantaged, damaged people. A small town mystery, hope and despair, starting again, love and loss… <Sigh> I guess it’s just going to have to go into Literature.
Oh – and for those to whom these things matter, it’s beautifully written. Go on, give it a try. There’s a link on the cover.
I awake in darkness. My stomach feels like an old Victorian boiler, all churns and gurgles and gasps of gas. But my head doesn’t hurt. Not yet. I know if the headache comes, so will the vomiting. I ease myself out of bed, careful not to disturb my slumbering husband, and make my way through the familiar darkness towards the kitchen to find pain killers. But I don’t get there. The Victorian boiler objects, adding compression and cramps to its increasingly violent protests. I’m going to be sick, I’m sure of it. I divert to the toilet, crouching on all fours above the bowl. My body burns, my hands so wet they slip on the tiled floor. The urge to vomit eases, but I’m so hot. I’m in a state of near collapse, confined in this narrow space. Not good. I crawl backwards, then stagger to my feet, clutching at the door frame for support.
The words filter through and I recognise my name and Peter’s voice, and that I’m lying on a floor. But I can’t respond. The me inside my head has no control of my body. He tries to move me, tells me to put my arms around his neck but I can’t. There’s no panic, no frustration. I just can’t. Then I’m face down on the tiles. They’re so cool on my fevered skin it’s pleasant lying there. Peter pushes a pillow under my head.
I fight to speak. “Cool.”
“Should I call an ambulance?”
I’m back. I’m panting, and burning hot but I’m aware of my body, and that it needs the toilet. “No. Toilet.”
From there, I recovered enough for him to help me to bed. Piecing it together from what I recall and what Peter saw, I think I got halfway standing up, then lost consciousness and slumped around the door frame onto the floor. He was awakened by the loud thump. He put his hand out, found I wasn’t in bed and went looking. I can only imagine his fear when he found me lying on my back, my eyes open, one eye looking up, the other to the left. He says I muttered, “Hot” but to him my skin was cold and clammy, and I don’t recall saying anything. He tried to get me up, but I passed out again so he laid me face down on the floor.
That’s when I started to recover.
I’m telling this very personal story because of how I felt. I remember trying to haul myself upright, but passing out is like going into darkness, stepping through a door into nothingness. A void. A place with no dimensions, no thought, no feeling, no awareness. When I returned from this place I had no idea what had happened or why I was where I was. But the scariest thing was being unable to move, or speak, when I desperately wanted to. And even though I desperately wanted to, no panic, no anger – just the simple recognition that I couldn’t.
Later, I wondered if that’s how people feel when they die. If it is, I’m okay with that. I’m happy to pass into a void. Not that I’m suggesting for a moment that this was a near death experience. But I’ve fainted before because of blood loss, and as soon as I heard the voice ask, “Are you okay?” I was able to evaluate my physical circumstances and answer with absolute certainty, “No.”
This time, when the void spat me out I was present. The driver was in the cab, hands on the controls. But the controls wouldn’t work.
It’s cathartic to write this down. I expect I’ll use it in a story sometime.
Hi and welcome to the Science Fiction Romance brigade’s summer blog hop. This year, we’re offering a menu of delights guaranteed to pique even the most jaded appetite. This week, the menu is space opera.
But first, let’s talk about food.
Dinner can very definitely be very sexy, a part of foreplay.
Food’s a nice thing to have anyway, isn’t it? So here’s my recipe for my wonderful starter that uses the best of the summer season’s produce in the sub-tropics where I live. Light and tasty for (naturally) two. (Pssst. It doesn’t really look like that – more seafood, less green. But just cross your eyes and pretend. Okay?)
8 large prawns, deveined and peeled.
20ml olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1tsp Dijon mustard
several handfuls of mixed leaves and baby spinach
Peel and chunk the avocado
Peel and chunk the mango
Arrange the leaves on 2 plates
Scatter over the mango and avocado
Fry the prawns in a little olive oil until pink. Sear the scallops for a few seconds.
Set aside to make the dressing – place oil, mustard, lemon juice and honey in a jar and shake well
Arrange the prawns and scallops on the plates.
Top with dressing.
And now for a reading space opera starter my stand-alone novella – A Matter of Trust
Princess Amira is ready to start a new life after the death of her husband, but that doesn’t include marrying the man her father picks out for her. Pursued by his agents, she races across the galaxy in a desperate search for a safe haven. Amid simmering tensions at the edge of the Empire, Amira renews her acquaintance with Imperial Admiral Ul-Mellor. Although his detractors call him the Demon Admiral, Amira finds him intelligent, articulate, and very attractive.
But Ul-Mellor is not human and Amira is a princess – far above Ul-Mellor’s status on his home world. He and Amira will have to overcome a gulf of cultural and class differences if they’re to turn their mutual attraction into a relationship. And what will Ul-Mellor do when faced with a choice – Amira or his hard-won commission?
Yes, they dined together. Here’s an excerpt from that encounter.
Ul-Mellor ushered her into his apartment, where his steward offered a pre-dinner drink. She sat in a chair, a glass in her hand, her legs crossed at the ankles. He stared at her, drinking her in. Caramel skin, black hair hanging around her shoulders, eyes like dark chocolate, lips like wine. The memory of what those lips were doing last time he saw her throbbed in his groin.
“Tell me what Brom and Ghaurondo had planned. What was that about piracy?”
Ul-Mellor explained the plot. “Brom has no love for the Empire. He blames it for the death of his son. And it’s true the needs of the outer provinces have been neglected.”
His steward caught Ul-Mellor’s eye. He stood. “Dinner, my Lady?”
He’d ordered the finest meal his chefs could produce at short notice, but he hardly tasted what he ate, too busy devouring Amira with his eyes. He memorized her features: the curve of her lips when she smiled, the wisp of hair falling over her forehead, the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s menu and enter for this week’s prize.
The Demon’s Eye is a 15k novelette with a passing nod to the aliens mentioned in A Matter of Trust, but it’s a stand-alone story.
Krystina Merkos is reluctant to leave her home planet, but agrees it’s best that her father doesn’t have to concern himself with her safety while he fights a civil war. The journey on an Imperial warship becomes much more palatable when she discovers that Ben Paulsen, an old flame from her high school days, is a senior officer on the ship.
But it’s not all plain sailing. The captain wants to seduce her, Ben’s trying to keep his distance – and pirates want to sell her to the murderous sect waging war on her father.
When the frigate is attacked by a pirate fleet intent on capturing Krys, she faces impossible choices. If she hands herself over to the pirates, she will die a painful death. If she doesn’t, everyone will die.
Unless she and Ben can contrive a way out for them all.
Krys straightened her back, squared her shoulders, and smiled her public, so-pleased-to-meet-you smile before she answered the soft knock at her stateroom’s door. The young man waiting there took a step backwards and cleared his throat, his eyelashes fluttering. Surely she wasn’t that scary. And certainly the dress she wore wasn’t especially revealing. A bit of cleavage, bare back that he couldn’t see, cinched around the waist but loose to the floor. Not what she’d wear to seduce anybody.
Stepping into the corridor she put as much charm as she could muster into her tone. “I take it you’re my escort?” This lad was an officer? Lordy, they seemed to be younger every year. Krys could swear he still had pimples. But there was no avoiding the shiny bars on his shoulder boards.
“Yes, ma’am. Lieutenant Boll, ma’am.” He ripped off a crisp salute, no doubt taking solace in established protocol. “If you’ll follow me.”
He marched in front of her, not too fast, probably afraid she couldn’t keep up. Being tall enough to give most men a crick in the neck, she’d given up wearing nose-bleed high heels long ago. And her dress gave her plenty of room to stride in sensible, low heeled pumps if she wanted to. Whatever. She let him set the pace and tried to get the funeral march out of her head.
The Demon’s Eye is available at
Backlash is the prequel novella to The Wildblood series by S. A. Hoag. Set on a near-future Earth mostly devoid of humans, this reveals some of the harsh realities facing people of The Vista, and how Team Three began.
Before Team Three became Team Three, there was The Blackout.
Vista Security is used to the feral bands of humans wandering the landscape since a brief and devastating war wiped away civilization. Sixteen years later, they’ve adapted to dealing with the challenges facing their safe haven.
That is, until a new threat appears, one they never expected and one they have little defense against. Security throws in everything they can muster; it quickly takes a toll. Their advantage – an untested team of officers barely more than children themselves; officers with dark secrets and a hidden agenda.
In a free-for-all battle to preserve one of the last sanctuaries of man, Team Three discovers their secrets are their strength and that their future will take them far beyond what they’ve ever known.
Action, a bit of romance and a good splash of sci-fi set the scene for Backlash, the prequel novella of The Wildblood series.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Shannon,” her radio crackled static, snapping her out of a restless sleep. It was Wade on his private channel.
“Go ahead,” she answered groggily. Her watch read 9:30 pm and she was supposed to go on duty at 2:00 am. An hour – she’d been asleep an hour.
“Gear up. I’ll be there in five minutes to get you.”
“What’s going on?” she wondered, rubbing her eyes.
“Don’t ask, just do.”
He didn’t sound like they might be playing wargames. Shan moved.
Her mother was in the kitchen. Deirdre Allen was five foot three, with pale blond hair, hazel eyes, and was one of The Vista’s actual doctors. She’d been twenty-nine when civilization ended. “The hospital just called me in,” she announced.
“Are you on-call?”
“I am now. Wade didn’t tell me why.”
“No,” Shan told her. “Not this time. I know you don’t like carrying, but I think this is serious. Take a sidearm, Mom, please.”
Deirdre nodded. “For your peace of mind I will.” She knew how to use it; she’d been forced to in the past and hoped she never would again. “Whatever it is, be careful.”
“I am, and Wade wouldn’t let me get away with anything else.”
She hugged her. “I mean it.”
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Shan said, hearing a car. “That’s Wade. If he tells me it’s practice, I’ll let you know.” She didn’t think it was likely, but he’d fooled her before.
The moment she dropped into the passenger seat, she knew it was real. “Can you tell me now?” She’d dressed in winter camos with body armor, both Sigs and a boot gun, clips in all her pockets, plus an array of knives. Her pack held spare ammo, food rations and various bits of survival equipment.
He glanced sideways at her, heading towards Station Two with a purpose. “We lost a Scout at Wisdom about an hour ago.”
“Lost?” she repeated, not expecting it.