Swamped Chapter 24 Page 6

You almost laugh.

When’s the last time you gave a damn about orders?

You grab Marshall by the arm and start running.

“Hey! Where are you going, Boss?” Rivers calls out.

“After Rider!” you say with a chuckle. When you’re in this much trouble, might as well dive in all the way.

You rush after Claws, and soon you hear her yelling again.

“There you are! Rider, I don’t know where the hell you’ve been or why you’re in such a rush, but…”

“Claws. I do not have time to talk about this right now. And you had best stand back, unless you want a second absence on the Council.”

“Is that a threat? Are you actually threatening me, Rider? After all the times I’ve backed you up at council meetings?”

“No, I mean…”

He stops, because you’ve finally managed to catch up. Rivers isn’t far behind.

“Rider,” you say, gasping. “What the hell’s going on?”

“This really isn’t the time, Corvus,” Rider groans. “But if you’re here, you may as well make yourself useful and persuade Claws to get out of the gateway’s range.”

“Gateway?” Claws asks. “Why don’t you just say what you mean instead of being so goddamn vague all the time?”

“Fine,” Rider says, frustrated. “Long and I have spent the last day in the desert. We found a way back, but he was too weakened by fever to make it through. I’m going back there to rescue him and find the cause of our recent troubles with the desert creatures, as is anyone else who’s standing too close in the next two minutes or so. Does that satisfy you?”

“The hell? Now I’ve got even more questions!”

“They’ll have to wait. The gateway’s about to open, quite possibly for the last time. I really don’t recommend coming along, but at this stage it’s too late to argue. Your choices are to stand back, or to learn firsthand just how much worse the desert is than the swamp.”

“What about my father?” Marshall asks.

“Your father is safe. For now, that is all I can say.”

You suddenly see a strange green glow behind Rider.

“It’s opening. You should all stay back. I can’t guarantee your safety if you don’t.”

Claws backs away, though you can see she’s clearly upset.

What about the rest of you?

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Author’s Note:

I thought about rewording Corvus’ question to himself to be a little clearer, but decided against it.

It’s less that Corvus never takes orders seriously, and more of a contrast here with Rider’s willingness to respect orders even when he’s opposed to them. If Corvus gets a bad order, he’ll toss it aside without a second thought.

In addition, I had to make some tricky decisions about where to split the chapters here. There are several major events, but I didn’t think they all warranted their own chapters. At the same time, I didn’t feel it was right to keep them all together.

Ultimately, I decided that running off to find Marshall connected closely enough to the actual discovery to put those scenes together. Rider’s appearance, however, was a huge shock, and even more than that a massive disruption to the overall plot up to this point. EvenĀ  if it was only a few pages, I felt that needed to be its own chapter.