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A short story by

Kal-El Bogdanove

Strong was, in Rin's opinion, the least apt name Choss's D-rep could've had. He delivered about five percent of what he pledged—and this was for Quijadas, credit for credit the wealthiest town on Choss. Rin shuddered to think what his track record was like for Zeb, the ranch village ten klicks west, where most of the custodial staff for the resorts lived.

But Rin had emphasized the life-or-death nature of the situation, and Strong had promised to send Dominion assistance on next morning's freighter. It wasn't a minute too soon. The night had brought another attack closer to town.

Rin should have known better than to believe Strong. When the hundred-pound bookworm in the wool sport coat (Wool! For a Choss summer!) hailed her as he disembarked, she actually leaned left to see if maybe the Longbolt missile turrets she'd asked for were coming out on pallets behind the nerd.

"You must be Marshal Shearon," he said, and paused. "Marshal Shearon." He chewed the words quietly. "Lotta 'sh's in there." Then, having deemed her name satisfactory, he extended a hand. "Brad Champlain, Special Research Operations. I understand you have a mutalisk problem."

Rin fought the urge to yell. "That's an understatement, Mr. Champlain. Don't take this the wrong way, but I was sorta expecting you to be a large stock of ground-to-air missiles."

"Really? I'm sorry, Marshal; they keep us pretty insulated from all that in SRO… Um, could I possibly persuade you to continue our conversation somewhere air-conditioned? I fear I may not have been fully prepared for your moon's heat."

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