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Timothy Zahn’s Soulminder – Excerpt 2 (Sponsored)

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Sommer sipped at his mug, his stomach burning with acid as the cold coffee reached it. God, he thought, I hate this.

Behind him, a chair squeaked. “I’m getting fluctuations,” Jessica Sands announced quietly. “Won’t be long now.”

Sommer nodded. Pushing the morose thoughts away as best he could, he forced his mind back into work mode. “Mass reader is holding steady.” He gave the instruments arrayed before him a quick scan. “Nothing showing on the Kirlian yet.”

“Might want to switch the Mullner off stand-by,” Sands suggested. “I still don’t trust the Kirlian to give us enough warning.” She paused as the blinds rattled again, louder this time. “Hope the lightning holds off until it’s over.”

“Oh, certainly,” Sommer growled. “It’d be a shame for him to die without us getting any useful data out of him.”

The words had come out with more bitterness than he’d intended them to, but for once Sands had the grace to let it pass without retort. For a long minute the wind and the drone of cooling fans were the only sounds in the room, and then Sands’s chair squeaked again as she turned to look over her shoulder at him. “I’ve been thinking,” she said. “After we’ve finished with this set, what say we move operations somewhere else for a while? LA or San Diego, for instance.”

Sommer eyed her. “Something wrong with right here?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said too casually, and her eyes slipped away from his gaze. “It’d be a nice change of scenery, for starters. Climate’s supposed to be better there, too.”

Sommer felt his lip tighten. “Climate. As in they have fewer thunderstorms?”

Sands threw him a glare that was half resignation, half impatience. “What are you trying to prove, Adrian?” she demanded. “That you like the feel of knives twisting around in your gut?”

In his lap, Sommer’s hands curled into impotent fists. “Running away isn’t the answer,” he told her stubbornly.

“I’d like to know what is, then,” she countered. “Standing there and getting your feet knocked out from under you every time a thunderstorm moves through sure isn’t doing you any good.”

“I do not get my feet kn—”

“Hold it!” Sands cut him off, swiveling back to her instruments. “I think it’s starting.”

Check back tomorrow for more Soulminder

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