Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reformation: Chapter Thirty

Notes: A little longer today, yay! Prepare for...baaaattles iiiiin spaaaaaaaace! Next week will be Cody and Ten making more questionable decisions, which should be lots of fun.

Title: Reformation: Chaper Thirty


Chapter Thirty

The air reverberated with the sound of alarms, yellow and red lights almost blinding as they blinked in time with their auditory accompaniment. Darrel sat fixed in his chair, hands gripping the seat so hard he couldn’t even feel them anymore, heart racing.

“Forward shields down to fifteen percent, sir! Ventral shields down to five. One more strafe across the bottom and we’re going to start venting!”

“The Cleaver is dead in space, sir! Full evac ongoing, but two Starshatterers are closing in on it.”

“Captain Obede says he needs another five minutes before he can safely break formation, sir.”



“All firepower and shields forward, full weapons spread and engage wherever we get a lock. If our shields are low, theirs have to be close to tatters.” General Caractacus’ voice cut through the babble like a scalpel through flesh. “Put as much of our bulk between the Cleaver and her pursuers as possible. Acknowledge Obede, but tell him to shave two minutes off that time, because we’re not going to be able to maintain our position for longer than that.” He paused for a moment, then continued. “And signal our own evacuation. All non-essential personnel are to proceed to the escape pods immediately.”

“But sir—”

“We’re not going to survive many more direct hits. We don’t have the power or maneuverability this close to the other ships, but if we don’t stay close to cover their retreats, more lives will be lost. Signal the evacuation now. I want to see progress with our battery, give me a status update!”

More happened, the timbre of the alarms changing, more orders shouted, officers scuttling to obey, and yet for Darrel everything felt like it was coming at him through gauzy layers of cloth. Even his breaths, tight and short as they were, seemed muffled, like he was inhaling into a pair of pillowcases, not lungs. They were the best ship in the fleet, and they were evacuating. What did that mean for everyone else?

Clumsily, Darrel pulled up his seat’s nav screen. He could have looked over Lieutenant Reyes’ shoulder, but he didn’t want to risk distracting her. He scanned the numbers, desperate for a sign that the general was overreacting, that things weren’t as bad as he feared. But…no, it was bad enough. Their original contingent of eighteen was down to twelve, nothing but the smallest ships and their own super-destroyer still bringing the fight. On the other hand, the pirates had gone from twenty-nine ships to fifteen, and even as he watched, another one of their signals flared briefly, then died. They still had their own destroyer, though, and if the Triumph went down, it would be able to pick off the remnants of the fleet, mostly Skyblazers, built for speed but not meant to sustain heavy damage. On the other hand, if they could take out the destroyer first, then the Skyblazers would have an even fight ahead of them, slightly outnumbered but better prepared to move and dodge.

There was no way, though. All scans of the enemy destroyer showed robust shielding still holding at fifty percent, and the ship had no compunction about ordering smaller vessels into the path of the Triumph’s fire to save it from more damage. It was a bulky, clumsy thing, but in a toe-to-toe fight right now, it would win. It was winning, because Miles was concerned with saving his people’s lives, and the enemy captain clearly wasn’t.

“Pirates, my ass,” he heard Reyes mutter, her hands flying over her screen. “No pirates are this disciplined. They should have cut and run like the Hammerfall an hour ago.”

“Update on the Cleaver, sir, all crew accounted for and away.”

“Including Captain Gorion?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And our own evacuation?”

“Fifty percent and—enemy ship rolling beneath us, sir, we’re going to take fire!”

“Shift all power to ventral shields, maximum thrusters for a portside roll, now!”

The Triumph began its maneuver, but Darrel was positive they were too late. Their belly was raw and exposed, and even a little ship like that could do enough damage to send them reeling. If they hit the engines, the super-destroyer would be blown in half. He and everyone else on the bridge held their breath as the nav officer said, “Taking fire in three, two—missed us, sir!” He sounded amazed. “Not entirely, some hit the starboard edge, but we’re doing all right. Ship is—”

“Continue the roll.”

“Sir, then we’ll hit the enemy ship!”

“Exactly.” He sounded darkly satisfied. “Brace for impact.”

Darrel braced, but it still wasn’t enough to keep him from feeling the vibration of the blow all the way into his teeth, the ground-shattering feeling of two enormous vessels of war colliding in an otherwise frictionless environment. More alarms sounded, but it hardly mattered at this point—they couldn’t get any more distracting. Vaguely, Darrel felt a fluttering at the edges of his mind that he knew was Grennson, desperate for answers. He should have evacuated already…

“Sir, we’ve lost our portside thrusters, shields down to two percent!”

“Evacuate the essential personnel and pass me helm control. Get yourselves to the escape pods.”

There was a moment of pure, stunned silence on the bridge, and then an outcry from every person there.

“We can’t leave you to—”

“I can stay, I can—”

“Let us—”

“Please, don’t—”

“This is not up for discussion!” There was the scalpel voice again, and this time it stabbed Darrel straight in the heart. “Give me control of the helm and get to your pods, now. That’s an order, people, move!” And reluctantly, unhappily, people did.

Reyes touched Darrel’s arm, drawing him out of his distracted state. “C’mon, cadet,” she murmured. “We have to go.”

Darrel didn’t respond, watching the new course Miles plotted on the nav screen. He was heading straight for the destroyer, a lurching, tilted charge thanks to the loss of one whole set of thrusters. The destroyer was already backing away, firing full tilt at the same time. It was a race to see if the Triumph would reach it before it exploded.

<Darrel? I’ve saved a pod, come meet me!>

He sent back a general feeling of wait before getting to his feet. There was something he needed to do first. “I’ll be right there,” he said. “You go, Lieutenant. Thank you.”

She frowned. “Cadet, I’ll make it an order if I have to.”

He smiled unsteadily. “I’m already disobeying one order, I’ve got no problem disobeying another one. Go on, I’ll be right there.” He had to keep Miles from doing something stupid, first.

In another thirty seconds, it was just the two of them on the bridge. “I believe I told you to evacuate, Cadet,” Miles said, but the ferocious sense of purpose had gone out of his voice.

“I will, sir, but only if you come with me.”

“Don’t worry about me, I don’t intend to commit glorious suicide today.”

Darrel bit his lip for a moment, then rushed ahead. “Captains never do, but eight out of ten times in similar situations, they do it anyway. My father did. I read all the transcripts of the battle he was in, I analyzed it over and over, and—he could have gotten away. He could have lived. He chose not to, because he thought he was helping more people by staying behind, but he didn’t. I’ve aggregated reports for every major battle of the past fifty years and investigated similar scenarios, and with very few exceptions, when a captain stays behind, they do so for no palpable gain. But they do it, because something about being in charge makes you feel too responsible.” He risked a touch of Miles’ arm. “Don’t do that to your family, please. Cody would never get over it.”

Miles raised one eyebrow. “I feel like you’re blackmailing me, Cadet.”

“Maybe I am, sir.”

“And I think it’s working.” Miles shut his eyes for a moment, then his fingers began to fly across the nav screen. “All right, I’ve autoset our course. If that destroyer gets smart we’ll miss it entirely, but we’ve still got a chance of hitting it.” He got up out of his chair. “I assume Grennson is holding a pod?”

“How did you—”

“Oh please. He wouldn’t leave without you. Lead the way, Darrel.”

The halls were empty of people now, and they couldn’t walk more than five steps without being sent staggering as another explosion rocked the ship. By the time they got to Grennson, Darrel was afraid the Triumph would break apart under their feet.

“Oh good!” Grennson beamed at them, and it was like sunshine in the middle of Darrel’s mind for a moment. “You brought him! Get in, everything is prepped to go.”

The launch sequence seemed to take forever, even though realistically, Darrel knew Miles was working as fast as he could. Finally the airlock closed, and the mechanism gave the pod a gentle push away from the carcass of their ship. The three of them clustered around the single window, watching as the Triumph gradually came into view.

“Poor girl,” Miles murmured. “My poor, poor girl.”

“You did your best by her, sir,” Grennson murmured comfortingly.

“Perhaps. If not, then it’s too late for—” His voice cut off abruptly as the ship suddenly flared with light, a coruscating series of explosions breaking it into pieces at last. “Boys, get dow—” They didn’t have time to strap in before the shockwave reached them, though, and sent the pod hurtling toward Pandora at breakneck speed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Reformation: Chapter Twenty-Nine

Notes: Finally a new chapter! I'm doing better, as evidenced by the fact that I can write at all. It's slow going, but I shall persist :) Have some scheming Garrett.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Twenty-Nine


Chapter Twenty-Nine

It was amazing to Garrett how much authority was conferred by numbers. Population, mineral resources, planetary wealth, personal investments: it was a web that even a supercomputer had a hard time tracing, some lines thickly tethered together, others so thin they were barely visible, but still vital at the same time. Numerical superiority in the Senate meant the difference between representation and willful ignorance, face time and brushoffs, dedication and criminalization. There were a few outliers whose policies were driven more on principle than profit, but they were few and far between. For not the first time, Garrett considered the merits of complete and total anarchy.

“That wouldn’t get you anywhere, darlin’.”

“It would make me feel better,” he snapped at his hallucination of Jonah. “I could do it with what I’ve collected already. I could burn the entire Federation establishment to the ground, ruin every leading political figure in the eyes of their own constituents, cut off the head of the snake.”

“Too many people rely on Federation programs for their lives. A disruption like that would mean an awful lot of people are going to die.”

“Maybe they deserve to as well, for being so fucking gullible.”

“Garrett.” He didn’t look as the hallucination leaned in, warm breath feathering across his cheek. “You’re tired, and you’re stressed, and you’re sick. I know you don’t mean that.”

“I suppose not.” Although the more he thought about it, the less sure he was.

“Besides, that would make you into just another dictator. You want that burden on your shoulders?”

Garrett closed his eyes. “No. I want to go home and lie down on my bed with you and forget about everything else.”

“And you will, darlin’. Soon. I promise. We’ve just gotta get this situation in hand first.” Jonah leaned back. “What’s next on your list?”

“I’ve got the shipyard numbers from Liang. Looots of interesting and completely illegal activity going on there. I’ve got the latest figures from Berengaria on her family holdings, and the computer is working on the relationships between those and other members of the Senate.” He glanced at the glowing red icon in the far right corner of his implant’s visual screen. “The battle is still being fought above Pandora. The last I checked—” two minutes ago “—our forces were holding steady.”

“Good. And now?”

“Now?” Garrett tilted his head back and stretched his arms above his head. He hadn’t been enjoying much of life lately, but he was pretty fucking sure he was going to enjoy this next part. “Now I give my grandmother the opportunity to recuse herself from the shitstorm that’s about to occur. Because she might be a dried-up, embittered, single-focus excuse for a human being, but she and I both care about family.”

“Very gracious of you, darlin’.”

“I agree.” Garrett relaxed and stared pensively at the ceiling for a moment. “She doesn’t really deserve the consideration, but Miles would be disappointed if I didn’t make the attempt.”

“Why do you dislike her so much?”

“Because Dame Mildred Caractacus is a flimsy paper mask of a person who would rather pretend that everything is perfect than put the work into fixing what’s wrong. She adored my mother because she raised my father’s ‘profile,’ but that changed after my mom’s suicide. I’ve been tainted by association ever since, and so have you and Cody.” He snorted. “Not that she’s ever even bothered to talk to Cody, because of his ‘obvious flaws.’”

“A lot like his other grandma,” Jonah said pensively. Garrett glanced at him.

“You’re pretty insightful for a hallucination.”

“Now you’re just complimenting yourself.”

Garrett shrugged. “Maybe. Doesn’t matter. I’ll give it a try and we’ll go from there.” He sent out the signal that should end with a direct call to his grandmother’s personal line, and waited for her to pick up. And waited. And waited…he was just about done with waiting by the time she finally responded.

“Garrett.” Her perfect, twenty-five-year old face appeared in the screen. Mildred Caractacus was not the sort of person to enter her old age without a fight to the death: in this case, the death of her dignity. She had the form of a young woman, but the mannerisms and movements of someone well beyond her second century. It was a nauseating dichotomy. “What do you want?”

“I can’t just call to check in?”

“You never have before, so I don’t see why you’d begin bothering with basic courtesies now.”

“Good point,” he agreed. “You’re right, I don’t really care how you’re doing.”

Mildred arched an eyebrow. Garrett imagined he could hear her muscles creak. “The feeling is decidedly mutual. Why are you calling, then?”

“Because I want to offer you the opportunity of a lifetime.”

She chuckled. “You sound like a bad investment scheme. I can’t imagine there’s any sort of financial advice you could give me that’s worth listening to, and if what you want is my money, well. Perhaps this will teach you to regret cutting ties with your family so completely.” She reached out to end the connection.

“I’m going to ruin the economy.”

Mildred paused. “What?”

“Or at least vast swaths of it,” Garrett continued. “Everything that President Alexander has personally invested in, certainly. I’m going to ruin it. I’m going to break it down into its component parts and get it reduced, reassessed, and reassigned. I’m going to do this within the next forty-eight hours.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Exactly what I’m saying.” He leaned forward and made sure their gazes connected. “I’m going to take down President Alexander in the ways that will hurt him most. I’m going to ruin his reputation as a leader, a politician, and a businessman. I’m going to destroy every positive facet of his public personality until it’s completely broken, and everyone can see him for the stinking, shriveled piece of offal that he is. I’m going to obliterate every trace of his influence and make him into the most hated man in the Federation, and once that’s done, I’m probably going to get him killed.” Garrett shrugged. “I might even give him the opportunity for a trial first, but that all depends on what happens at Pandora.” No Jonah and Cody, all bets are off. Fuck having a trial, he won’t even have a grave.

“Pandora? What…what does that backwater have to do with anything?”

“It has everything to do with it,” Garrett said gently. “As you’d know, if you ever bothered to come out of your chrysalis and talk to your son.”

“You can’t do this.” She sounded more confident now. “You can’t do any of this. You don’t have the means or the influence. You’re not the Senator, not the Governor—nothing like your father. You can’t—”

“It’s a terribly bad idea to tell me what I can and can’t do,” Garrett advised her. “It makes me angry in ways I’ve got very little voluntary control over right now. This is a courtesy call, Millie, nothing more. I suggest you divest our family’s holdings from big Federation institutions as fast as you can, because they might not be around much longer.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You realize I could take this threat to the president himself?”

“Why would he listen to you? He knows who I am, and he doesn’t think I can do it either. He would laugh in your face, call you too credulous, maybe call you a threat yourself.” Garrett shrugged. “Do what you want, but I’m going to act soon. It’s up to you whether you want to be bankrupted or not. But Miles and I, and our families? We’ll be fine.” He had seen to that years ago.

The red light in the corner of his vision started flashing. “I have to go.”

“Wait! We’re not done here, Garrett. I need more details—I need more information about this!”

“I don’t have time to give you any more.” He cut the connection and opened the icon. It took less than a second to realize why it had started pinging him.

“Oh.” Garrett stared at the ship indicators numbly. “Oh, no, please. Oh no, nononono…”

“What is it?” Jonah asked.

“It’s…” He couldn’t say anything, though. He could only watch in helpless thrall as the worst thing he could imagine happened right before his eyes.


Friday, March 17, 2017

So, that sickness thing...

Being sick as a dog has been no fun, but now that I've been to the doctor and have better living through chemistry on my side, as well as a positive assessment of my health, I feel like I can pass on: I've got all-day morning sickness. Because, yay, I'm a little over 10 weeks pregnant!

I didn't want the word to get out before I'd been to see my doctor, but there was no hiding the fact that I was so sick some days I couldn't actually stand up, much less make it to work or focus on my writing--I couldn't even focus on my computer screen for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I'm hoping with the help of some anti-nausea meds, that'll change really fast for me and I can get back to storifying.

So, that's some of my good news. That story excerpt I gave you Thursday--Dreamspinner accepted the novel for publication in Sept/Oct, which is awesome, so I'll pass on more details to you asap! Also, Where There's A Will is a finalist in both the EPIC and Foreword INDIE awards, so I'm incredibly pleased by that. I'll let you know if I win.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Illness and an Excerpt

So. It turns out that I can't focus on my computer screen for long without beginning to get ill. Reading is easier than writing, but even that I can't handle for more than about half an hour without needing to stop and put my head between my legs. Yeah, I'm sick. I'm seeing a doctor in two days and should get some answers, but for now--I'm so sorry, but I don't have a new chapter of Reformation. But! You can have an excerpt from my subbed-but-not-accepted werewolf novel, because I might feel like crap but I feel worse leaving you with nothing.

Thanks for the lovely comments last week, by the way. The funeral was as good as those things get, and it was nice to see most of my family.


You couldn’t sneak up on a werewolf.
It wasn’t possible. Everyone agreed on that, from a million pop culture references to the people who actually ran ops with the real ones. Werewolves had hyper-developed senses, and they were incredibly protective of their territory and their pack. You could trap a werewolf, you could trick a werewolf, you might even be able to bargain with a werewolf―I was banking on that―but you couldn’t sneak up on one. They could tell where you’d stepped almost before your foot hit the ground.
So why was I standing outside a chain link fence in the snowy twilight, slowly freezing to death while waiting for someone to notice I was there? I’d been counting on being found quickly; I really hadn’t packed for the snow. My bad―Davis had told me I needed more than a sweater and a jacket better suited to a California winter than a Colorado one, but I’d been too frantic to listen to him.
If I died clinging to a fence in the middle of nowhere, Davis might bring me back to life just so he could kill me again for being such an idiot.
“Avoid the guardian,” he’d said, thin lips terse as he’d handed me the map. An actual physical map, not GPS—nothing I could program into my phone. “You can’t take the obvious road without getting stopped, so you’ll have to hike in to another part of their preserve. And burn that map when you’re done with it. I’m fuckin’ serious, Ward. If that’s found by the wrong people, it could cause a domestic terrorism incident.”
“I’ll destroy it,” I’d promised hastily, glancing at it before I stuffed it in my pocket. At that point, Ava had been gone for three months. At least she hadn’t been missing, not anymore. Davis had located the pack she’d been sent to. I’d just had to find it, get the nearest werewolf to ask questions before shooting or biting or whatever appealed most at the time, and persuade them to let me stay.
Well, at least I’d managed the first part of it.
“Don’t you people have cameras?” My lips were so cold I could barely articulate the words, but the act of speaking seemed to break through the layer of ice that had chilled my anger ever since I’d started hiking.
I’d gone seven miles through the snow after abandoning my car, the pale winter sun doing little to warm me as I trudged along, hoping against hope for a sign that I was going in the right direction. Finding the fence had felt like a godsend at the time, but I’d been here for over an hour now, waiting for anything and getting nothing at all. My breath rasped in my thin chest, and I’d had to stop and use my inhaler twice. Much more than that and I’d be courting real trouble, so I kept my breaths shallow and my scarf pulled across my mouth.
“Seriously,” I went on. “What wolf pack doesn’t have cameras covering every part of their territory? If you’re not as goddamn paranoid as I was led to believe, I’m going to be so pissed.” Also probably deceased, but that was my problem, not theirs.
Actually, no, I was going to make it their problem too.
“I will climb this fence,” I announced to the growing darkness in front of me. “I’ll climb this fucking fence and I’ll get all snarled in the barbed wire at the top and then you’ll wish you’d found me while I was still alive, you assholes, because you’ll be untangling me for fucking hours!” I don’t think I’d sworn this much since my brother’s funeral.
Okay, I was angry but I was also being serious. Someone should have seen me on camera by now. Davis had been very clear about that. Maybe the one I was closest to was dead—I needed to move, then. I needed to pick a path and go, because if I didn’t start walking now I might not be able to before long. Right or left? Which direction had the road that passed the guardian been on, again? I’d already burned the map, shit, shit…
I went right. If I hit the road, at least the guardian would probably keep me alive if they found me. I wouldn’t be able to help my daughter if I was dead. My feet felt dangerously numb, and my nose might’ve been blue by now. The wind made my eyes water, and tear tracks froze on my cheeks. I clung to the fence, using it half for guidance, half for support. “I’m gonna find you, baby.” I would. “I’ll find you.” I had to. I wasn’t going to sit back and let the government take her from me just because she’d turned out to be a werewolf.
The mutation had been around since the early forties, when a super-soldier experiment resulted in men that, instead of having all the heightened senses of wolves, actually turned into wolves. They escaped the confines of Pine Camp in northern New York, crazy with fear and adrenalin, and went on a biting spree. Most of the bitten died after turning into wolves.
A few of them managed to turn back into people, though.
The government took responsibility for their mistake and divided the werewolves that had survived into packs. Hollywood loved them, scientists wanted to study them, and bigots wanted to kill them, but for the most part werewolves stayed firmly out of the spotlight. The only exception to that rule was when someone turned unexpectedly. Someone like my Ava.
The bite didn’t manifest in lycanthropy for everyone bitten. Some people, a tiny percentage of those exposed to the mutation, were simply immune to the shift. They could carry it, though, and they could pass it on. For Ava, the gene must have come from her mother. Carriers were almost always incredibly healthy, and I was far from a model of vitality.
Every now and then, maybe half a dozen times a year, a child would shift. Usually it didn’t happen until puberty, or some other time of extreme stress. For my daughter, it was her first day of preschool.
“Daddy, nooo.”
I could still hear her voice from that morning in my head. I’d been running late, stressed by the start of a new semester and the challenge of trying to get my daughter dressed, fed, and into her car seat before eight in the morning. She’d been clingy, more than usual.
“I want to stay with you!”
“But you’re a big girl now, sweetheart. Big girls go to school. You’ll have so much fun and make so many new friends.”
I’d gotten the call about her change at lunch, right after dismissing forty freshmen from my Physics 101 class at the community college where I’d taught. I hadn’t recognized the number at first―I’d almost let it ring through to my voicemail. “Hello?”
“Mr. Johannsen?” The woman’s words had been almost too warbly to make out. She’d cleared her throat. “It’s Maria Kostakis. Ava’s teacher.”
“Oh, boy.” I’d sighed and sunk down into my chair. “Is she okay? She’s not sick, is she? She was pretty unhappy this morning, but she wasn’t running a temperature back at the house.”
“She’s…” I’d never had a professional trail off like that with me. It made my heart beat harder in my chest.
“She’s what?” I’d snapped. “What?
“She’s turning.” Those words seemed hard to get out, but once she’d managed them, Ms. Kostakis had continued faster and faster. “She told me at snack time that her hands hurt, and when I looked at them I saw—there were claws coming out the end of her fingers, and her palms were changing color. I got her to the nurse’s office before things got much worse, but our school doesn’t have the sort of containment facilities needed to handle a shift, so—”
“Containment facilities?”
“It’s standard procedure, Mr. Johannsen. If a child shifts in a public environment, they have to be contained immediately so they can’t infect others. The nurse called the police, and when the SWAT team arrived—”
“A SWAT team? She’s four years old!” I knew the basics of dealing with an unexpected shift—I worked in public education—but SWAT seemed excessive.
“A four-year old werewolf. The danger she put our entire school in, I just…”
“She’s a kid, not a bomb!”
“She might as well be a bomb!” Ms. Kostakis had shrieked at me.
It had taken longer than I’d wanted to get the rest of the chain of events out of her. SWAT had come, ushered my baby girl into a cage and taken her to the nearest government facility equipped to deal with werewolves. By the time I’d gotten there, Ava had already been transported again. And this time—
“We can’t tell you where she’s gone, Mr. Johannsen.”
“The hell you can’t.” I’d never been so angry in all my life. Never: not when I’d been laid up in the hospital for weeks at a time, not when Rick and Davis had enlisted, not when Ava’s mother left us.  “She’s my daughter. I’m her parent, her legal guardian. You can’t just take my child from me.”
The state official behind the bulletproof glass had weathered my outrage without batting an eye. “Actually, under the Safety In Isolation Act of 1946, we can. Your child is a member of a protected but dangerous species, and the best place for her is in a pack where she’ll get proper care and oversight. Werewolves need to be in packs in order to be mentally and emotionally stable.”
“How will ripping her away from everything she’s always known make her emotionally stable?” I’d demanded. “Ava is an only child―she just started school this morning! I’m all she knows, and she needs me. We need to be together.”
“Werewolves adapt differently to change than humans, and Ava is very young. She’ll do better in her new situation than you’re giving her credit for. Regardless, Mr. Johannsen, you’re not going to be allowed to see her.” Cool eyes had regarded me dispassionately. “It’s best if you accept the government’s transition payment and forget you ever had a child.”
“I refuse.” I’d stood, furious enough that I barely had any energy left for standing. My breaths had been so shallow I was lightheaded, but I’d be damned if I showed any weakness in front of a soulless bureaucrat. “You can expect to hear from my lawyer.”
“If that’s how you want things to go. You won’t get anywhere with it, though.”
“Fuck you.”
I’d left full of righteous indignation, enough to drown out my fear. Eventually the tables had turned, though, and fear replaced confidence as I learned that the official was right. No lawyer would take my case. The law was ironclad: werewolves weren’t classified as human. They were a dangerous subspecies, and they were the property of the government. Any attempt to locate my daughter would result in my imprisonment, which I’d have risked if I could have gotten anywhere, with anyone.
In the end, the only person who would help me was Davis, and I still didn’t know everything he’d had to do to get the information he did. I’d asked, but he wasn’t sharing his sources. I didn’t care as long as he was right. His information had led me here, to Middle Of Nowhere, Colorado, where he said I’d find Ava.
God, I was so cold. And when had my feet stopped moving? I glared down at them through my frozen lashes, willing them to get going again, but they refused. How far had I come from where I’d first found the fence? Was there another camera? My arm felt as heavy as an anvil, and it was so hard to keep holding onto the fence when all I wanted to do was rest. Just for a moment. Just…
Pressure so light I barely felt it against my hand made me turn. There was someone on the other side of the fence—an actual person. Hallucinations might be able to talk, but I wouldn’t feel them, right? She was mostly concealed by a hooded, fur-lined parka, but I could see the top half of her face. Her eyes looked worried.
“Please,” I croaked. The cold had ripped my voice to shreds. “Let me see her. I need to see my baby.”
“Who are you talking about? How did you get here?”
“Ava. My kid. She―I know I’m not supposed to be here, they told me to just forget about her, but she’s all I have. Please. I’ll do anything to see her.” Anything at all.
Her mittened hand gripped mine harder. “What’s your name?”
“Ward Johannsen.”
“How did you find us?”
“Please.” I was so cold, and my hand was so heavy. It fell from the fence, even though she was trying to hold onto it. My knees collapsed, and I heard the woman cry out. “P-please.” I leaned my head against the unforgiving metal links, the only things that were keeping me from pitching into the snow. She knelt down on the other side of the fence and stared at me.
“Mr. Johannsen. Mr. Johannsen! Ward!” I blinked at her.
“Shit.” She glanced away for a moment. “Henry’s going to kill me.” She looked back at me. “Fuck it. I’ll be to you in two minutes, Ward. Do you understand? Don’t lie down.” She shook the fence for emphasis. “Do not lie down! Say you understand me.”
“If you lie down, you’re not going to get to see Ava. You hear me? Ava needs you to stay awake!”
My baby needed me. “I’ll stay awake.”
“Good.” She pushed to her feet. “Two minutes, Ward. I’ll be right back.” I heard the crunch of her footsteps vanishing into the dark, and I pressed my forehead hard to the fence.
Two minutes. I could do that.

As long as I didn’t die first.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Delay next week

Hey there,

Due to a death in the family, I won't be able to keep to my writing schedule this next week. I'm afraid the next chapter of Reformation will be delayed, but as soon as things settle down I'll get back to it.

It wasn't an unexpected death (my grandma was 96) but a lot of people, including myself, will be flying cross-country next week. So...yeah. Take care of yourselves, be safe, back soon :)