My patrons voted for it, so we’ve got a fresh new chapter of Ozymandias to close off the month! Though they escaped the (first) group of infected Baheil, Harper and Adrianna aren’t out of the woods yet. Adrianna’s plan to escape the angler hounds through cryogenics has hit a snag: there are angler hounds in cryogenics and now that they’re awake, they are on definitive search and destroy. Worse, the battle in the main ziggurat isn’t going well. The women could very well find themselves surrounded, but there is one hope of escape…
…if they can get back to Barry. The Baheil VI is still operational and with him on their side, they can get out of the Great Prison, right?
Below is an excerpt from the chapter. Harper is considering her current situation. The conclusion: sometimes, a quick death is all you can hope for.
Cheery, isn’t it?
For the full chapter, and to see what happens next, check out the links above!
“When I got out of bed yesterday I didn’t really envision ‘quickly dying’ to be my best possible outcome.” Harper stayed silent for several steps. Maybe I should have. The angler hounds had shown what they’d do. If they weren’t equipped with their energy weapons, they’d rip their prey limb from limb and use its genes to modify themselves to kill others like it. Brutal and undeniably awful, but at least they just killed you. Her fears about what it was like to be infected were still rattling around in her head. Was there still a person inside someone infected by the Mirror? Were they screaming to be let out, were they dead or did they think nothing was wrong with them, their personality twisted by the disease. There was a question Dietrich had posed to her during her training, almost fifteen years ago. She’d asked how anyone could willingly join an organization like the Red Hand.
He’d smiled coyly in that way he had. It wasn’t patronizing, not like how some of the other senior agents had treated the ‘raw cruit’. She’d told him it was like an old man on a porch finally getting to share some of his experience. I suppose to someone barely out of their teens, everyone over thirty is old, he’d snorted. But the lesson he’d shared had stuck. Everyone is the hero of their own story, Harper. That wasn’t just a pithy quote; Dietrich had taught her to look beyond the surface. It had taken her a while to fully understand everything he’d meant by that.
Thinking of her mentor brought a brief sense of warmth to Harper, then a pang of sadness. Dietrich had gone undercover on a classified mission some years back. After it was over, he’d retired from fieldwork and devoted himself full-time as a recruiter, looking for other troubled youngsters like Harper that just needed a little boost to reach their potential. They still talked, and she often met his current proteges, helping them understand what CIS had done for her, and what it could do for them. Still, since that last mission he was different. He never talked about it, and it was heavily classified. All she knew was that it had nothing to do with the Red Hand; if it had, she would have been pulled in.
Unless they didn’t think the Red Queen’s daughter could be trusted for it…
Shut up. Harper licked her lips. She tasted the chemical residue of the antiseptic cloth. After this mission, she’d be different, too. Everything here would be black-bagged and buried, just like Dietrich’s assignment. Maybe then she could put all of this behind her.
You’re assuming you’re getting out of here alive. You think that’s likely?
She didn’t have an answer for that question. One step at a time. One cryopod, one room, one floor at a time. Don’t worry about what comes next until you get there. Because chances are, you silly bitch, you won’t.
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