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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 21[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Archon's Private Office
The Triad, Tharkad
District of Donegal
Lyran Alliance
21st March, 3058

"Well, that could have gone better." an unexpected voice from the doorway shook Liz out of her funk.

"Henry?" She spun round, dropping the cigarette she'd been in the process of lighting, "What are you doing here?"

"Funny story there." her brother sauntered into the room, hands thrust into his uniform pockets, "I was with my regiment on Coventry, when suddenly I get an immediate summons to Tharkad..."

"That ****** bitch!" Liz spat, already starting to connect the dots.

"Indeed, it seems that my presence was requested and required by our esteemed Archon-Princess." Henry continued, "And, being the good little soldier I am, I did as I was told. I grabbed my kit and boarded the DropShip."

"Then how did you get here?" Liz asked, confused, "Tharkad is in the complete opposite direction."

"That is, I'm sure, under investigation. It seems the JumpShip navigator got all turned around, and nobody noticed in time." Henry sat, "Coincidentally, my arrival in-system coincided with the end of my term of enlistment. As such, any orders pertaining to Hauptmann Henry Ngo are invalid, and Henry Ngo, Baron of Hue, is far to busy looking after his pregnant wife to go running off to Tharkad on such short notice. Oh, yes, by the way: Shelby is expecting. You're going to be an aunt."'

"YOU BASTARD!" Liz laughed as she swatted him on the arm with the end of her Cain, "Next time, lead with the good news, okay?"

"Message received and understood." her brother rubbed his arm, "Shelby sends her apologies, but unfortunately the trip took a lot out of her. She headed directly back to ours to rest up. She'll come see you soon as she recovers."

"Tell her, as much as I'm looking forward to seeing her again and not to rush." Liz perched herself on the edge of the her desk, "We've had far too excitement around here lately."

"Yes, I saw Nathan on the way in." Henry frowned, "Why didn't you tell me you'd progressed to Stage Two?"

"I'm dying. What does it matter if it's a little sooner than we'd hoped?" Liz asked with a shrug.

"Nathan also said something I didn't understand." Henry sat back, folded on leg over the other and pressed his fingers together, "He said something about a potential cure..."

"Oh, he is so sleeping on the couch tonight!" Liz hissed, "That man needs to learn to keep his damn mouth shut."

"So, there is a possible cure?"

"No, what there is is a damn fool trying to change the universe through sheer force of will." Liz lamented, "And, for once around here, it isn't me."

"The only other person around here crazy enough to attempt the impossible is..." Henry stopped, a worried expression on his face, "What. Did. She. Do?"

"I assume you're referring to your esteemed rescuer?" Liz asked, "Well, shit. You'll find out eventually, but you'd best pour us both a good strong drink, because you're gonna need it."

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