The Longest Shard: 24

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 1561


“So, Nyal’s not dead,” Renny said as Gideon finished describing the safecracker’s last day in Morton. 

“Nope.” 

“You know, you could have led with that.”

“Could have,” Gideon agreed. “But this was more fun.”

He didn’t even complain when the next bony projectile bounced off his shoulder. 

Renny heaved a prodigious sigh. “So who else made parole since I left?”

“Kneecaps got out last year,” Gideon told him. “And Xi.”

“Who?”

“Right.” Gideon glanced over. “He didn’t show up until after you…” Gideon waved at their surroundings. “Tzu Xi’s a second-story man out of Epsilon. Took the eighteen months in Morton over five years in Guinness.” 

“Ah.”

“Pavel got out too.” 

Seriously?” 

Gideon’s lips quirked in understanding of Renny’s shock. “He was back in less than a month. Oh, and Kamal and Menk left,” he said, thinking of the two guards. “Together.” 

Black winged brows shot up. “You’re joking.” 

“Not even a little. Put in their retirement papers and drafted the marriage agreement at the same time, right before flying off to join an agricenter near Kamal’s hometown in Fuji.”

“But… Kamal and Menk?” 

“I guess it’s true what they say about still waters,” Gideon said. 

“Well, yes. But there’s still, and then there’s stagnant,” Renny pointed out. 

Gideon choked on the laugh, then wondered how he could find anything funny just now. 

Probably the delirium, he thought. 

Then the delirium spoke again. “What about Cassandra?” 

At the question, Gideon felt a chill that had nothing to do with the impending nightfall. “What about her?” 

“Shouldn’t she have been paroled by now, as well?” 

“Should have,” Gideon agreed, but couldn’t quite bring himself to meet the dark gaze on the other side of the skeleton.


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