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transmission BEgins. lamBEnCY dEtECtEd in inCrEasing rangE of EXisting lifE-forms inClUding lEViathans and smallEr marinE CrEatUrEs. two PrEVioUslY Unknown sPECiEs now sPrEading: amBUlant PolYPs aPPEar to ParasitiZE fast-growing organiC strUCtUrEs niCknamEd “stalks.” PolYPs sElf-dEtonatE. PlEasE adVisE. data and imagEs to follow. Cog PErsonnEl fEniX, santiago, stroUd UnharmEd. transmission Ends.
(transmission soUrCE: Unknown. rECEiVing station: Unknown.)
boAThouse 7 worKshop, nAvAl bAse, new JAcinTo: lATe sTorm, 15 A.e.
sam’s laughing her ass off. she’s been fixing her bike and giggling to herself for a while now, and then she just busts out laughing like someone invisible told her a joke. now, i get moments like that too. but it’s the hooch. you understand, don’t ya? it’s been a long, long war. We all cope the best way we can. so i ask her. “you gonna share?” she’s almost crying. she has to set down the wrench while she gets her breath back. “dizzy, have you seen baird?” “yeah, plenty. but he ain’t that funny.” “i mean his new workshop. his private workshop.” “can’t say i have.”
“he’s . . .” she takes a deep breath and tries again. “it’s . . .” finally, she screws her eyes shut and takes a run at it, ’cos it’s the only way she’s gonna get it out, i reckon. “it’s in the old lavatory block. he’s set up his kit in one of the stalls and he’s using the crapper for a seat. i saw him.” that does it. she’s bent right over and i can’t hear anything now except wheezy gulps of air, but eventually she straightens up and there’s tears running down her face. damn, it’s a nice thing to see someone laugh like that. however bad things get—and shit, they’re bad right now—some folks can still see the funny side of life. see, if you don’t concentrate on the good stuff, you go crazy. you gotta laugh, or you gotta love, or you gotta drink; that’s how you get through the day when you’ve been at war for as long as anyone can remember. the one thing you just can’t do is look it in the eye and see just what a goddamn mess we’re in, or else you end up like hoffman. or marcus. both of ’em with the weight of the world on their shoulders, and a lot older than either of ’em needs to be. but . . . lord-almighty know-it-all corporal damon s. baird sitting on the john, all full of piss and importance? this i gotta see. “i better go take a look.” “he’s out on patrol this morning,” sam says. “i’ll take you over there tonight. We’ll grab a camera from barber and stalk him. record the moment for posterity.” she starts giggling again. “caption contest. baird, full of shit . . . ah, so many jokes, so little time.” “What’s he doing, then? What’s so secret?” “no idea. i think hoffman’s given him something to fix.” she winks. “but he spends a lot of time tinkering with that bot, too. i think they want to be alone.” she’s laughed herself out now, so she carries on working on her bike. but i can see she’s still thinking about baird sat on his porcelain throne, because every so often i catch her grinning to herself. “sometimes i’m glad he’s such a tosser,” she says. “i need an outlet, you know? a focus for my negative side. like that thing they have on ships’ hulls.” she gestures with the wrench, frowning like she’s forgotten the word. “come on, diz, what’s it called? you were in the merchant navy. you know what i mean.” “a sacrifice block?” “that’s it.” “it takes the hit and stops the other metal getting corroded.” “exactly. that’s it. baird’s my sacrifice block.” she laughs and gets back to work. the world ain’t funny at all, truth to
tell. We’ve run and run for fifteen years, and now we’ve painted our asses into a corner. this island’s just about the last nice place left on sera because the locust couldn’t tunnel this far out into the serano ocean. but the lambent— those assholes found us. they’re worse than those goddamn grubs, believe me, and now they’re here, right on our coast, blowing up our boats. they detonate, see. Walking bombs. they come in all shapes and sizes—crab things called polyps, tree things called stalks, even whale-sized things and butt-ugly eels— and they got this weird glow about ’em kinda like jellyfish. that was why the grubs came out of their tunnels and started killing us. the glowies was down there killing them. Well, that’s one mystery solved, anyhow, even if we still don’t know squat about the glowies. and now we got nowhere left to run. damn shame. it’s a real pretty island. i thought it’d be a good place for my girls to grow up safe, but all i done was drag ’em somewhere else even more dangerous. maybe we shoulda stayed stranded. you can hide better. you’re just a little rat in a sewer. nobody knows you’re there. anyway, it’s all quiet again—for the moment. i’m changing betty’s gearbox fluid. the old girl’s showing her age. it’s tough to find parts for grindlift rigs, so baird helps me make ’em. he ain’t so bad really. as long as i keep his mind on the nuts and bolts, he forgets that he thinks i’m a bum. so anyway—i’m under betty, draining her reservoir, and i hear the doors open. i see boots walk by and i hear colonel hoffman say, “sam, you got five minutes?” “yes, sir,” she says, and the two of them wander outside. she’s gone for some time, maybe half an hour. by the time she comes back, i’m working on betty’s electrics, so i can see sam’s face as soon as she walks in. she don’t look so happy now. “What did hoffman want?” i ask. the colonel’s real strung out at the moment. it’s the latest polyp attack. it’s started him fretting over anvil Gate again, just when he oughta be forgetting it. “everything okay?” “he finally told me how my dad got killed.” sam sort of shakes her head. “he thought it was time i knew. all this polyp siege shit’s brought it back to him.” the siege of anvil Gate was more than thirty years ago—way back in the pendulum Wars, when we didn’t even know what a grub or a glowie was. hoffman’s taken his own sweet time with that. it ain’t like him to be so squeamish. sam’s named after her old man. he never lived to see her born. damn, that just breaks my heart.
“you wanna talk about it, sam?” “it was quick.” i can see she’s hurting. “but dad decided to stay.” and then she just stops. i got daughters. i can handle this. “sorry, sweetie. i don’t understand.” “he stayed to defend the fort,” she says, picking up the wrench again like she needs something to take her mind off the news. “hoffman said dad had the chance to leave anvil Gate when they evacuated the civvies. he could have left with my mother. but hoffman said he wouldn’t leave his platoon behind.” now most folks would call that a hero. damn right: a man who stands his ground for his buddies, that’s a hero. the best man you can be. but i can tell sam don’t agree with that. Gear or not, she’s still a little girl who never knew her daddy. i gotta pick my words real careful now. “must have been a tough call for him, sam.” she nods and starts working on the bike again. but her mind ain’t on it. she’s just going through the motions, working a plug this way and that without really moving it. “i hate myself,” she says at last. “all i could think at first was that he left me and mum to stay with his mates. but i’m a Gear. i know it’s not that simple.” no, it ain’t, and it ain’t simple being a dad, neither. i didn’t exactly choose to join the army, see. i got drafted—operation lifeboat, prescott’s smartass idea to turn stranded bums like me into Gears. you do your bit, and the government gives your family food and medicine. i let the coG press-gang me to save my little girls. you’d be amazed what a fella will do for his kids. “your dad must’ve been real scared that you and your mom wouldn’t make it if he let the indies win,” i say at last. “like i was real scared my girls would die if i didn’t join the coG. hardest goddamn thing i ever did.” i didn’t know sergeant samuel byrne, but colonel hoffman says he was a good man. that’s word enough for me. i’m just telling sam—samantha byrne—the truth as i see it. she looks up at me, eyes kinda glassy. you know what i like about her? she ain’t afraid to admit what she’s feeling. tough don’t mean keeping it all bottled up. i hope she’s getting somewhere with dom—poor bastard, still grieving— because they’d fit real well together. it’d do ’em both the power of good. “thanks, diz,” she says. “i’ll be okay.” you can look at it a couple of ways. either sam’s dad stayed at his post, or else he abandoned his family. i don’t know why sam’s dad chose to stay and
die. he had a whole lot of reasons, i reckon. some of them wouldn’t make a speck of sense to anyone who wasn’t there, so they can just shut their mouths until they’re in the same shit and have to make the call. but i know Gears will die for their buddies. and i know that i’d do anything to make sure my girls grow up, even if i’m not there to see it. because that’s what good fathers do. and your kids might not always love you for doing what’s best for ’em, but that goes with the territory. the right thing ain’t always the popular thing for a fella to do. you just gotta hope that one day they all understand what we had to do to survive.
Gallery books a division of simon & schuster, inc. 1230 avenue of the americas new york, ny 10020 this book is a work of fiction. names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. copyright © 2011 by epic Games, inc. all rights reserved. Gears of War®, marcus fenix™ and the crimson omen® are either trademarks or registered trademarks of epic Games, inc., in the united states of america and elsewhere. all rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. for information address Gallery books subsidiary rights department, 1230 avenue of the americas, new york, ny 10020. first Gallery books hardcover edition august 2011 Gallery booKs and colophon are trademarks of simon & schuster, inc. for information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact simon & schuster special sales at 1-866-506-1949 or email@example.com. the simon & schuster speakers bureau can bring authors to your live event. for more information or to book an event contact the simon & schuster speakers bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com. manufactured in the united states of america 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
isbn 978-1-4391-8395-3 isbn 978-1-4391-8409-7 (ebook)
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