twinmaker

TFYP + Glimpse of Crashland

This blog has been in a holding pattern for a few weeks while I write book three, but that is all about to end. Barring a disaster, the first draft of Hollowgirl (Fall in Australia) will be done next week. So, to celebrate, I have a NEW STORY lined up plus (hopefully) news on several fronts. It’s about to get interesting. Thanks For Your Patience!

Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse of Crashland, which is coming in October. It features Clair and a new character to the novels: the peacekeeper Kari Sargent, who previously appeared (with her friend, PK Forest, aka “the Inspector”) in the short stories “The Missing Metatarsals” and “Face Value“:

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Crashland“You’re wasting your time, PK Sargent. You should be out there trying to find those dupes who got through before the crash, not in here trying to good-cop me into telling you whatever it is you think I’m not telling you.”

“Is that what we’re doing? Good cop/bad cop? You should know that the Inspector hasn’t got a bad bone in his body. He’s a very smart cop, and if you’re lying about anything, he’ll know. Do you want to know how?”

Clair sighed. “I’m not lying. Everything I’ve told you is true.”

“It’s because of his face,” Sargent continued as though Clair hadn’t spoken. “There’s something wrong with his nerves. He needs muscle therapy to move anything above the neck, and even then he can’t just let it happen like normal people do. He has to consciously make every twitch and glance, because people can’t bear to be around him otherwise. Sometimes he uses that to put people off guard, and I suspect he’s doing a bit of that to you now, just to see how you react. That’s why the Inspector is so good at spotting liars. He knows things about people’s faces that they never dreamed of.”

Clair sat up again and opened her eyes. Sargent smiled, revealing white, even teeth. If she was trying to put Clair off guard in her own way, it was working, but only because Clair was too exhausted to fight back.

“Why do you call him that?”

“The Inspector? Because that’s what he would have been, way back when, before we were all called PKs. Old names like that are partly why I joined up. My nickname as a kid was ‘Sarge.’ It’s an old army rank. You know what the army was?”

“Of course.”

“Sorry, don’t mean to patronize you. And I know I’m babbling. I do that when I’m nervous.” Sargent’s long fingers wound and unwound around themselves. “This is big, Clair, perhaps the biggest thing ever, and it’s taking longer to fix than anyone thought. The AIs that run VIA didn’t boot up when the system restarted. There might have been deliberate sabotage; it might just be damage caused by what Q did; either way, VIA can’t operate safely without them, not without producing even more dupes or killing more people. We’re all worried about what’s going to happen if we can’t get d-mat working again soon. Do you know what’s going to happen?”

Clair shook her head. “I . . . wasn’t expecting to be here, remember?”

Sargent’s mouth turned down at the corners. “That can’t have been an easy thing to do. The hardest, probably. And the bravest under the circumstances.”

0145AU_Twinmaker10_Page_2 - smallerSomething broke inside Clair, something she had been holding in ever since she had arrived in the booth in Penn Plaza. She had been expecting to see Turner Goldsmith and a bag of grenades. In her heart and in her head, she’d been ready to die by her own hand to stop Wallace. Instead, she had been alive, and another Clair Hill had died, and there was Jesse, and the peacekeepers, and then the world had ended.

Her chest convulsed. It was like her body was trying to vomit, but all that came out was a single sob, startlingly loud in the cramped space.

She put her hand over her mouth and twisted her lips tightly together. Her eyes were hot and aching, but she promised herself that she wasn’t going to cry. Not while so many people were worse off than her.

“Are you all right?” Sargent said.

Clair nodded. She didn’t trust herself to speak.

“If I was playing good cop, I’d be patting you on the back right now and saying something stupid like ‘There, there, it’ll be all right.’”

Clair nodded again, heartily glad Sargent hadn’t done that. She didn’t know how she would have reacted. Screamed, maybe. Called her a liar at the very least.

“Here’s how I think it’s going to go down,” Sargent said. “Lawmakers are struggling right now. If we don’t want to, we won’t have to charge you with anything. You didn’t kill anyone; you didn’t break parity. The Clair Hill who did that is dead. But we can’t let you go, either. It’s not safe outside, not until the dupes who got through before the system crashed are rounded up. We don’t have an exact number, but there are thousands of them, and we have to act on the assumption that they’re still trying to kill you. So you need protection. We can provide that. We can move you away from here without anyone knowing. We can hide you while things settle down. It’s our job to keep the peace—and as the Inspector says, you are part of that process. We have a responsibility to you along with everyone else. Keeping you safe is my job. I want you to know that I’m good at it.”

Clair took a deep breath and lowered her hands. She felt as though the immediate emotional crisis had passed, and if Sargent’s little speech had something to do with that, no matter how small, then she was grateful. There was so much in her head, so much pressing her to act, to find Libby and Q, to finish whatever needed finishing, to do anything at all other than sit around talking. But she didn’t feel like she would explode into a thousand pieces if she wasn’t careful, not so much, not anymore.

 

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