Swamped Chapter 23 Page 4

“Before we get down to that, was Mudviper in there?” you ask. “I just realized I never made sure she went to her room, and I can’t be sure she didn’t distract herself with some other business after stopping to see me.”

“Yeah, yeah, she’s resting. I, ah, needed to go in, she was still real tired. Said Doc threatened to strap her in if she got out of bed again, so I left the, ah, spare clothes in there and excused myself. Wouldn’t suggest going in there, she’s real irritable.”

“But the door’s not locked?” Rivers asks.

“Well, no, but I don’t think she wants anyone seeing her like this. Can’t say I blame her, myself. I mean, I’m not really one to have heroes, not my thing, but there’s a lot of folks here who look up to her. And a good number of them still do after last night. Some even more so, I hear. Ah, well, I’d really best be getting on with my rounds…”

He’s not even halfway through when Rivers flings the door open.

“Rivers, what are you doing?”

“I’m checking to make sure our friend here didn’t leave a little surprise for Mudviper,” she says, marching in. Oh hells, you’ve stepped deep in it now.

“Er, I really wouldn’t do that, Viper needs her rest,” Crook calls after her, but you know it’s no good. Your best bet is to march in after her and take charge, so you head on in.


It’s Mudviper. She’s lying in bed, holding an open book, and looking more than a little upset.

“Would you care to explain why your squadmate barged into my room? I need my rest.”

“She seems to have gotten it in her head that you might be hiding an escaped prisoner,” you sigh. “So we’ll just do a quick inspection and then leave you be, since clearly you wouldn’t do such a thing.”

“In the closet,” she sighs. “I’ll explain what I can to the Council later, I suppose. For now, I just can’t deal with the stress.”

That wasn’t what you were expecting. But the biggest surprise is yet to come, as Rivers flings open the closet door.

“The hell? Marshall?”

“Sandra? Is that really you?”

You get the distinct feeling this whole mess has gotten even messier. Now what the hell are you supposed to do?

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this is neither the time nor the place

Author’s Note:

First off, Marshall’s comment is a reference to something much earlier in the story. You can read that here if you want a refresher.

But to clarify my process a little, I only made the decision to have Rivers be Sandra two days before this. I got a suggestion about “movies” from someone who probably wasn’t following closely. Movies don’t fit with the overall technology of the setting, but theaters are another matter.

And I happened to remember that I had a previous note about a theater. On top of that, I realized that Marshall and Rivers had never seen each other before this. Finding Marshall was already going to be a big deal, so I used this to make the moment even more dramatic than expected.

It also serves as just one more complication for Corvus to deal with.