The Longest Shard: 19

Shard

The Longest Shard, originally published in spring of 2020, is a time-hopping prequel to Soldier of Fortune, and offers no spoilers. 

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Day 865


“The Bounty,” Gideon said, his vision clearing, just in time to bat another feint from Renny’s shard to one side. 

“Yes,” Renny agreed, his teeth bared. “The Bounty.” 

“You were the guard at Fort Echo?” Gideon asked.

“Of course I was the smogging guard!” Renny shouted. 

“No. That can’t be.” Gideon frowned. 

“Why ever not?”

“That guy’s name was Butcher.”

“Butcher?” Renny said, so shocked he actually lowered the shard. “Are you deaf as well as blind?” 

“I’m just telling you what I heard,” Gideon said. 

“I very clearly said my name was Boucher.” 

“Well, it was raining pretty hard,” Gideon allowed. “But what about the Clarence? Oh,” he said, even as Renny’s lips curled, “never mind. Clarence… Renny. I get it.” 

“Give the man a gold rubik,” Renny said. 

“So you were the sergeant on the gate?”

“I was the sergeant whose life you ruined, and then promptly forgot,” Renny corrected.

“I didn’t forget you,” Gideon pointed out. “I remembered Clarence Butcher just fine. Maybe if you hadn’t been wearing one of those Adidan ‘hide from the world’ hoods, I would have put the two of you together.” 

“It was raining,” Renny pointed back. “Everyone was wearing their hood, except you… and your beautiful second.” Gideon watched Renny’s eyes warm as he mentioned Eitan. “I often wondered what happened to him.” 

“He’s on the wall of my cell,” Gideon said flatly.

“A pity,” Renny murmured. “But I suppose that’s what happens to people you touch. They die, or they’re ruined, so they might as well be dead.” 

“I’d like to point out you’re not dead,” Gideon said. 

“Always an answer,” Renny murmured. “You may have left me alive, that night,” he continued, flipping the dagger back to his right hand, “but your actions did cause a death. Two, in fact.”


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