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Of Bone and Steel and Other Soft Materials


 Ryska froze as the staccato of Kalashnikov rifle fire rang out across the abandoned office complex. The length of copper wiring she’d tugged free of the crumbling wall hung in her hands as she focused on pushing away the memories that threatened to overwhelm her and tried to pinpoint where the noises were coming from.

The rifle fire rang out again, this time accompanied by angry male voices shouting. Not too close, probably coming from across the wide, overgrown square and beyond the low storage buildings near the main road. She relaxed a hairsbreadth and coiled the wire quickly before stuffing it into her bag. Her graphene whiskers twitched as Ryska cued them to a different sensory setting. She’d been running the sensors on low, letting her fingers and ears do the seeing for her while she dug the valuable wire out of the walls.

But with men around, she’d need more than her ears to get free of this place. Ryska mentally kicked herself for not paying more attention when she’d heard the truck noise. She’d figured they were just driving on by.

And where would they be going to? The glaciers? She shook her head. She hadn’t seen anyone out here before and she’d gotten lazy. Lazy might have meant dead. Wasn’t a mistake she’d repeat.

The landscape turned from foggy grey to many shades of blue as her sensors kicked in and the topography was revealed. Further away things were more blue than closer things, and objects with more solidity had more texture, fine lines zigging across them. Her sensors helpfully mapped out the clearest path out of the building with a hazy yellow line.

More rifle fire. Closer. Ryska pressed herself against the wall and rubbed her chilled hands together slowly. Not her problem. She’d get to her cycle and then bamph from this place.

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