An Elegant Madness

Hey, that’s what I’m calling it…

I completely forgot posting today, partly because no, not ready to continue Elf Blood.

I’m up to my nostrils on family stuff today — no, you REALLY don’t want to know.  Noting bad, but the ducks are nibbling me.

So…

If you have a desperate desire for my blather The Book Plug Friday article might be of interest to you.  It’s on the advantages indie DOES have.

Here’s the beginning of my story in the Baen Big Book of Monsters…

 

From Out The Fire

 

Sarah A. Hoyt

 

“What do you mean fire snails?” I said. “Do you mean… living creatures?”

We were in gear to go out, in blessed camo, and armed per regulation: .45 automatic, of our own manufacture, every part blessed in making, though often cursed in use and an M4 with grenade launcher — and of course the super soaker of holy water at our back, and the blessed salt in our pockets, too. Those were regulation.

There were six of us, myself and Nerio, arguably my best friend in the outfit. Not that we had friends as such. Or not very often. At least you learned fast not to have them, because we lost so many people in each of our operations. The rest of the group were people I didn’t know well. New recruits. I knew their names, of course because we never had too many of them at one time, and they were introduced in meeting every Monday, Manfred, a muscular blond German, who looked far too young to have been able to swear the oath, much less to risk his life in an operation; Ropharz, slim and dark, who spoke with a marked French accent and smoked the stinkiest cigarettes I’d ever smelled; Daria, with dark hair, blue eyes and an Eastern European accent, and Lilly blond and slim and looking much like she should have been anywhere but here, and be wearing anything but combat fatigues, blessed or not. Except when you look in your eyes, what looked back was blankness. Not as though there were no one there, but as though she had disciplined herself, through the years, to show absolutely nothing. You couldn’t even see her magical power, and in most new recruits you could see it bright and clear, and estimate exactly the limits of their ability. It was only later they learned to veil and obscure. Because if your colleagues could see it, so could other things. The enemy.

Lilly might be… interesting. The others–

Nerio and I traded a look that said there was hardly any point learning the kids’ names. They wouldn’t be around long enough to matter. We’d seen them come, and we’d seen them go: blown up, burned, stabbed, shot, and sometimes just made to vanish.

It was said that The Magical Legion was the last place you came to. This was often literal. In our chapter house in Colorado, the names of our lost brethren were engraved into the crystalline walls of memory hall, just like the row upon row of names engraved in the smoke-dark walls of a tavern in ye old England, and the row upon row of names on brass plaques in the marble halls of our Sorrentino chapter. We all knew eventually our names would grace a wall, somewhere. Because you didn’t leave the legion. You died casting your last spell.

The Magical Legion was the last place you came to, and they buried you. But it was also the last place you came to, when you’d run out of places to hide. As I had.

Nerio had got his tobacco pouch out, and was rolling a cigarette. I suspected it was some Italian peasant habit, from wherever and whenever he’d started out. He did it all the time, particularly when he was trying to pay attention. But even with papers and tobacco, he didn’t manage to make as stinky a cigarette as Ropharz smoked.

He rolled the paper reflexively and looked at the person briefing us. “What in heaven’s name are Fire Snails, anyway?”

 

2 comments

  1. Do you have _any_ idea how deep my pile of unread books is? I didn’t think you could stack up enough electrons to actually see! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Do it again.

  2. I usually order Baen titles direct from Baen, so that they don’t have to split fees with Amazon. But I’m on the road and had to have it, so one-click it was! Sorry, Toni.

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