Sep 19, 2011


Most people would have shut their eyes and prayed. This is not what Emma did. As death approached, she sat there and watched herself bleed. Part of her hoped that she would bleed to death before her assailant figured out she was helpless and came to finish the job. It would be the strangest way of sticking it to him, but to Emma, this is better than nothing. She considered using her knife, the one her father had given her when she turned nine, but Emma would not take her own life. It simply was not her way.

Her pistol was too far away to make it an option, especially in her present condition. Not only was her right arm, her good shooting arm, shot, but also her right thigh. Her arm was merely grazed, deeply but only so. She was also reasonably confident that the shot to her thigh was only a flesh wound as well, but her clothing prevented an examination. In any case, there was no moving. Emma Mitchell was immobilized and, for the first time in her life, helpless.

She looked out to her right and saw LeFleur's corpse. His death was doubtless. The rifle round went straight through his head. His dead brown eyes looked towards Emma, but not at her. She expected them to move, to look into hers, but they never did. It frustrated her. She wanted to call out to him, but knew she couldn't. And despite what her instincts tried to persuade, no matter what, it would not matter what she said. Christophe LeFleur was dead.

Emma knew she had a few seconds left. She decided what she wanted her last thoughts to be. She could give her last musing to LeFleur, the man who had just given his life. She knew that he loved her. While Emma liked him, she would not call it love. Still, she imagined that perhaps one day she could have loved him. Chris LeFleur was a good man and not an unattractive one. He was not the bravest or the toughest, but his heart was in the right place. Emma respected him for that. A lot of people in the post-apocalyptic world grew to look out only for themselves. Not LeFleur, who was a true humanitarian.

But no. Not LeFleur.

Emma thought of her parents, the two who had brought her into this world. Her mother, Lena, was a dork, but there was no one who loved Emma quite as much as Lena. And then her father, Hank, was the most respectable man she had ever and would ever meet. Giving her last thoughts to him would have been noble and definitely a fine choice. Hank had taught her everything she knew about surviving. Emma was daddy's little girl.

But instead, she chose Liam, her brother, her partner in crime. To the outside observer, Liam and Emma hated one other. They constantly rattled off insults, some of them deep. Liam and Emma, however, shared a connection which transcended niceties and pleasantries. Their bond was one of necessity, one forged in true fire. They relied on one another for survival. So it was only natural she would think of Liam. She equated her brother with life, with survival. To think of him was to retain hope.

Finally, Emma closed her eyes and accepted death. It was coming, it was near, and she was ready. Emma very faintly smiled. It was just enough to curl her lip just a bit, but it was there. Death would not take Emma Mitchell miserable or afraid. Never.

A shot rang out. And then a second. It didn't hurt. There was no pain at all. Emma knew then that she was right not to fear death. It came so quickly and it came so painlessly. Emma had heard stories of painful deaths and was thankful for being spared the agony. She took a deep breath and-

Emma opened her eyes. She was not dead. Those shots were not made for her. What?

Footsteps approached. The new situation baffled her, so Emma clutched tightly her knife. Her acceptance of death turned to curiosity, which also activated her self-defenses. She tried to move to get a better look, but it was too painful.

Around the car came a man in a tan suit with a blue shirt, but no tie. In his hands was a second-generation Walther P99, which he slid into a shoulder holster under his jacket. Emma lowered her knife and sighed in relief. It was obvious that he had no intention of killing her. “Who are you?” Emma asked, letting her caution be known through her hostile tone.

“The name's Fleming,” he answered in a British accent, with a slight tinge of Russian. “Sergei Fleming.”

“Fleming,” Emma thought aloud. “I know that name.”

Sergei got down on his knees and looked her over, “You're losing blood.” She looked into his eyes. They were a bright blue, which made for an interesting contrast to his suave dark hair.

“No crap,” Emma winced. “I'm feeling- I'm feeling-”


“Yeah, something like that,” she whispered.

“Well, come on, let's get you back to your ship,” Sergei took her in his arms and helped her to her feet. She put her arm around his shoulder and they hobbled towards the Holdsworth.

“Wait, what about- what about Chris?”

“The dead man?”

Emma nodded.

“We'll worry about him later. You need a doctor.”

Emma saw his logic. And then realized that meant seeing Dr. Lorentz. Dammit.

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