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Go tell the Spartans, passerby
That here the Three Hundred lie
Obedient to their commands.

—Simonides of Ceos
Inscription at Thermopylae


Near Asheville, NC, United States of America, Sol III
0215 EDT Monday September 28, 2009 AD

Major Michael O'Neal checked the holographic schematic he had thrown up and nodded as the Banshee banked to the right and dropped; now the fun started.

The shuttle he was riding in looked like a black scimitar scything across the cloudy Appalachian sky. The combination of human, Indowy and Himmit technology had created something that was neither the best nor the worst of the three worlds, a ship that was somewhat stealthy, somewhat armored, somewhat maneuverable and somewhat fast.

Of course, compared to anything from pure human technology, the Banshee III was a marvel beyond words.

The stealth shuttles had had an uneventful voyage until reaching the area of the southern Shenandoah. There the Posleen invaders, who held virtually all of the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard, had made an incursion in the area of Staunton. And that required the scimitar-shaped ships to drop to below the level of horizon and begin evasive maneuvers.

Over the past five years the Posleen had landed in waves throughout the world, overrunning virtually every defense. The few survivors of Western Europe were now huddled in the Alps, eking out a retched existence among those upland valleys. The Middle East, Africa, most of South America, were either in Posleen hands or in such a state of anarchy not even radio communications were coming out. The only survivors in Australia were in the far western territories and roaming the desert interior in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. China had been lost only after loosing nearly a thousand nuclear weapons in the long retreat up the Yangtze Valley. Others survived in the highlands of the world, holding passes against the enemy. But few of those scattered groups were a coherent defense. Everywhere, one by one, the civilizations of the world had fallen to the remorseless invaders. With one small exception.

In the United States a combination of geographic luck—the Posleen tended to land in coastal plains and the U.S. had defendable terrain features inward of all the coastal plains—and, frankly, logistic and political preparation had permitted the U.S. government to retain control, to retain a condition of "domestic harmony" in a few areas. Of these, the most vital were the Cumberland and Ohio basins due to their industrial might and breadth of agricultural resources. The vast plains of Central Canada were still safe, and would remain so as long as the Posleen were resisted at all, for the Posleen were almost incapable of fighting in snow. But those plains, and the various western areas in human control ranging from the Sierra Madre to the Canadian Rockies, could produce only a small number of crops, mostly grains. Furthermore there was little or no industrial infrastructure in comparison to the might found in the Cumberland and Ohio.

The Cumberland, the Ohio and the Great Lakes regions were the heart and soul of the defense of the United States. Losing the Cumberland, furthermore, would open all of that up to conquest.

And with one thrust the Posleen had placed all of that in jeopardy. For years the major blow had been expected at Chattanooga, where little would stand in the way of a break-out. This battalion, and others, had defended the cities that were scattered down the range of the Appalachians, each of them, at one time or another, assaulted in force by the enemy. Only a few weeks before the battalion had been in a hair-raising battle on the Ontario Plain. But this time the Posleen had surprised everyone, striking an unnoticed and lightly defended sector, and throwing the defense of the entire Eastern U.S. into flux.

O'Neal and his forces had passed over southern Pennsylvania and through West Virginia without incident. But now, approaching the jumbled mess of western Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, it was time to get down and busy.

From this point forward the Posleen were pressing hard or already over the Appalachian Wall. The battalion would actually be forced to fly between two Posleen thrusts; besides the attack through the Gap the Posleen were pressing in on two flanks of Asheville. If the Posleen were able to reach the embattled city from the rear, the end would be assured. On that flank, the mountains above Waynesville would be the key, but they were a problem for others; the only thing the First Battalion Five-Fifty-Fifth infantry had to worry about was surviving as a plug.

O'Neal nodded again as another turn was faintly sensed. The shuttles used just a touch of inertial compensation to reduce the impact of their course corrections. Too much and they stood out like light bulbs to the Posleen. Too little and they smashed their passengers into jelly. Mike switched to an external view and by the light of the waxing moon he could see the mountains flashing by overhead; the ships were down in a valley, following its wandering path and only the occasional shudder passed through to the humans.

Soon enough they began an ascent, traveling at over five hundred knots and not much more than a hundred feet off the ground. The shuttles rapidly shot to the top of the next ridgeline and then, in a maneuver that looked flatly impossible, dropped down the back side in exact parallel with the slope. At no time did their speed increase or slow; it stayed a constant fifty kilometers per hour under the ambient speed of sound.

Mike noted another checkpoint and looked off to the left. Somewhere out there was Asheville, awaiting the dawn of a new day, a city still inhabited by over a million civilians and six divisions of infantry. Behind it were two Sub-Urbs with a combined total of five million souls. And all of it was in the vise of a nutcracker.

He sighed and brought up a collection of tunes; a little music seemed appropriate at a time like this.

Might as well share the misery.

* * *

"What the hell is that?" Lieutenant Tommy Sunday asked as a strange keyboard melody started on the command override frequency.

" 'Don't Pay the Ferryman,' " SPC Blatt said. The Reaper's armor had a purple and pink holographic teddy bear on the front of it and when the music started, the bear jumped to its feet and began to dance, shaking its fat little belly in time to the music. "The Old Man must be really depressed."

The Grim Reapers were the heavy weapons suits of the ACS. They were designed for long-range indirect fire or heavy-duty close-in support and generally carried four weapons (versus the standard one rifle of the Marauders). These might range from anti-ship heavy grav-cannons to long-range auto-mortars to flechette cannons capable of spewing millions of rounds per minute.

The Reapers' suits were bulkier and slower than the standard Marauder suits, looking a bit more fat bellied than the "muscle" look of the Marauders, but given that most of their weapons had much higher ammunition bulk than the Marauders, that was all to the good. The flip side was that their armor was lighter, so getting into direct fights with the Posleen was usually a losing proposition.

"Christ," PFC McEvoy cursed, rubbing at his nearly bald head. He'd detached the gauntlets of his suit and his hand made a rasping sound over the short, thick stubble. He leaned forward as far as he could and looked to the doors at the front of the compartment. "I hope it's not that whole 'we're all a gonna DIE!' playlist. If I hear 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars' one more time I'm gonna puke."

The shuttles were small, designed to carry thirty-six troopers and two "leaders" in no particular comfort. Each "suit segment" was rigid, with clamps to hold the suits in place against the worst possible maneuvering and designed to swivel and fire the troopers out into a hostile environment. This did not make for the most comfortable of seating.

"Nah," Blatt replied. "James Taylor next. Betcha five creds."

"Sucker bet," McEvoy replied. "I hear the Old Man's daughter was in the Gap."

"Ah fuck me," Blatt said, shaking his head. "That sucks."

"She's tough," McEvoy said, leaning forward to spit into his helmet. "So's his dad from what I hear. They might make it."

"That is questionable," Sunday said, looking up from his hologram. "According to seismographic and EM readings, there have been multiple nuclear detonations in the area of the Gap. And we're about to make the area extremely unpleasant ourselves."

"I didn't think we'd opened up nukes yet, sir," Blatt commented. He started to put his gauntlets back on as a timer in his suit tinged. "Twenty minutes."

"We have recently," Tommy answered, putting on his helmet. "But these appear to be secondary explosions."

"Oh, that's okay then," Blatt said. "As long as they're not targeted on us or anything . . ."

"Yeah," McEvoy agreed. "The last time I worried about nukes was the first time I got hit by 'em."

"Any suggestions?" the lieutenant asked.

"Lay flat," Blatt said with a laugh.

"Yeah, getting tossed through the air is the worst part."

"I'd think having your arms and legs ripped off would be the worst part," Tommy commented.

"Well, the only one who's survived from that close is the Old Man, sir," Blatt pointed out. "You don't wanna be that close; getting an arm blown off smarts."

"Agreed," Tommy said. "Been there done that."

The lieutenant was new to the armored combat suits but not to battle; up until a few weeks before he had been an NCO in the Ten Thousand, the most elite unit short of the suits. The Ten Thousand was armed with captured Posleen weapons and other devices and shuttled from crisis to crisis, thus in his time in the unit Tom Sunday, Jr. had seen more than any trooper short of the ACS. And he had managed to survive and rise in rank to staff sergeant. All of which spoke for his versatility and ability to take cover when the shit hit the fan. But even the best soldier tended to run out the law of averages from time to time.

"Which one, L-T?" McEvoy asked. The officer was new to them and they hadn't had much time to get to know him.

"Right, just above the elbow," the lieutenant said. With his helmet on it was impossible to tell where he was looking but McEvoy was pretty sure it was directly at him.

"Ah," the Reaper said. "Just asking."

"You're right," the lieutenant said. "It smarts. So does taking a shotgun flechette in the chest. Or getting your right kidney taken out by a three millimeter that was, fortunately, going too fast to do much more damage. And getting caught in your own company's mortar fire sucks. So does getting shot in the back by a cherry radioman who panics. All in all, I imagine it's really unpleasant to get blown through the air by a nuclear explosion."

"I guess so, sir," the gunner said, swinging his heavy grav-gun from side to side to ensure it tracked smoothly. "All things considered I guess wearing armor is the way to go."

"Ah hell," Blatt said, changing the subject. "It looks like you were right. Here we go with 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars.' "

"He's something pissed at those Posleen," McEvoy said.

"I'm sure he's not the only one," Sunday said quietly.

* * *

Captain Anne Elgars looked at the motley group gathered around the small fire and sighed. The captain appeared to be about seventeen and had a heavily muscled body with long, strawberry-blond hair. She was, in fact, nearer to thirty than twenty and had until recently been in a coma. Her recovery from the coma, the musculature, odd skills and personality quirks that had arisen from the recovery, were mysteries that were only starting to be illuminated.

There were two other adult females, two soldiers and a group of eight children in the small, wooded dell tucked into the North Carolina mountains. The women and children had been in a Sub-Urb, an underground city, when the Posleen struck the Rabun Valley and swiftly pushed most of the defenders aside. Through a combination of luck and ruthlessness the three women had reached the deepest areas of the Urb, intending to escape through the service areas, when they happened upon a hidden installation tucked into the Urb. It was there that they had been "upgraded," their wounds repaired, and imparted with both increased strength and some basic weaponry skills. They had also found an escape route.

Trying to make their way to human-controlled areas they had first been cut off by the advancing Posleen and then encountered the two soldiers, Jake Mosovich and David Mueller. Now the question was where to go now that the easy route was closed.

"It's agreed?" Elgars asked, her breath ghosting white in the frigid air. "We'll head for the O'Neal farm and raid the cache?"

"Don't see any choice," Mueller replied. He was a bear of a man, not only tall but wider in proportion, with a thin shock of almost white blond hair. The master sergeant had been running around snooping on Posleen since before the first invasion and he had regularly found his ass in a crack, enough times that he'd frequently asked himself why in the hell he kept doing it. But none of the other times did he have to worry about getting three women and eight children out of the crack. And in this case, the crack included that the children, at least, were likely to die of exposure if something wasn't done.

"There wasn't anything to use at the Hydrological Station." The Posleen raided for loot, then destroyed every trace of previous habitation. While the station hadn't been leveled it had been emptied. As had every other building they had checked.

Shari Reilly grimaced. "It's still nearly fifteen miles," she said. "Even carrying the kids, I don't see how we can make it."

Shari had been thirty-two, a waitress and single-mother of three, when the Posleen dropped on her hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. She was one of the very few survivors from that town and was resettled, along with her three children, in one of the first underground cities. It had been placed in an out-of-the-way valley in western North Carolina, despite a lack of roads to supply it, for two reasons: it was unlikely the Posleen would attack into such rugged country, and the local congressman was the chairman of the appropriation's committee.

As it turned out, after five years of battering their heads everywhere else the Posleen did attack up the Rabun Valley. And Shari Reilly had, again, been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Story of her life, really.

"I'd like to find out what happened to Cally and Papa O'Neal," Shari admitted quietly. The group had previously visited the O'Neal family farm and she and Papa O'Neal had gotten along very well, to the point that he had asked her, and the children, to come live with him. With the Posleen having overrun the area that plan, like so many others in her life, had been nipped in the bud. But she still felt it necessary to find out what happened to the O'Neals.

Wendy Cummings shrugged and shook her head, pulling a lock of hair out of her eyes.

"We're still in the same boat," she said, gesturing at the gray skies. In the last few hours the sky had begun to darken. While the women, with their new upgrades, could probably survive the environment, the children were without any shelter or heavy clothing. Getting them both was the second highest priority, the highest being to keep them out of the hands of the Posleen.

Wendy was the main point of contact between the other two women and sometimes she felt like the only thing holding the group together. She was a well-endowed blonde, another survivor of Fredericksburg, who had until recently been stymied in her desire to go off and kill Posleen like her boyfriend was doing. She was doing it now, whenever the Posleen came in view, but killing Posleen while carting kids around took all the fun out of it.

Still, a mission was a mission.

"We need to get the kids some clothes and we could use some supplies," she continued, gesturing at the two soldiers. "Even with what the sergeant major and Mueller supplied, it's not enough."

"There was plenty in the cache," Mueller noted. He slid a little more dry wood into the fire and looked up at the sky. "If we move fast we can make it to the O'Neal house by midnight."

"Later," Mosovich replied. The sergeant major was the antithesis of his subordinate, slight and wiry. But he had been beating around the bush when Mueller wasn't even a gleam in his father's eye and could carry loads that were frankly astonishing. What he would not do, in these conditions, was lie. "Even with their girls' . . . improvement, we can't carry all the kids that far. And in a few hours it's gonna start raining, cold rain. And by morning we might be looking at sleet."

"You think we should try something else?" Mueller asked.

"No, but we're not going to make it there before morning." The sergeant major looked at the children and shook his head. "We'll try like hell, but we won't make it."

"We'll make it," Elgars said, getting to her feet. "But not if we debate about it all day. Sergeant Major, I'm apparently the ranking officer, but I don't know what in the hell I'm doing. How are we going to handle that?"

"Well, ma'am," the recon specialist said with a faint grin. "I'll make suggestions and you give the orders. And if you don't give the orders I suggest, you'd better have a damned good reason or I'll shoot you."

"Works for me," she said with a laugh. "And your suggestion is . . . ?"

"Let's move out," he replied. "It's not going to get any easier as it gets darker."

"Can I say just one thing?" Shari asked.


"I really hate the Posleen." As they started off, a gentle, cold, mist began to fall.

* * *

Tulo'stenaloor cursed and shook his crest. The senior commander of the Posleen forces assaulting Rabun Gap had been fighting the humans for nigh on ten years. And over the time he had developed a healthy respect for their abilities. Outnumbered though they were, outgunned though they were, the humans were clever about using well-honed skills and an almost devilish ingenuity to defeat the assaults of the Posleen.

But the current group was really starting to annoy him.

"I hate humans," he grumped. "What do we know of this cursed metal threshkreen 'unit.' "

The Posleen had first met the humans at the planet Aradan 5, what the humans called Diess. Up until that encounter the advance of the host had been continuous and without major check. There were three races that they had encountered in near space and none of them, not the little green Indowy nor the taller, slim Darhel, nor the insectile Tchpth, would give fight. Sometimes the Darhel would fight, but not well and not long. Mostly it was a matter of simply rounding them up and butchering them for dinner.

Until Aradan 5.

Tulo'stenaloor had been there, when the host had met its first defeat. It had been a nightmare. Each time they thought they had the humans defeated something had hit them from a different direction. It was necessary to dig the humans out like abat or grat and they stung worse. The host had taken fantastic damage before a unit of these demons-be-damned metal threshkreen had arisen from the ocean of the world and destroyed his first oolt'ondai. He still remembered the unholy destruction visited upon his fine collection of genetic specialists, ripped to shreds in bare seconds. Other threshkreen, who had at first fled before the host, had stopped and formed a wall of fire that seemed unbreakable. Faced with an implacable foe to the side and an impossible foe to the front, the host had fled. He had barely escaped with his life, limping off planet in a simple in-system ship, and it had taken him years to recover from that debacle.

"It is led by a human named 'Michael O'Neal' who is one of their Kessanalt. The term the humans use is a 'hero' or 'elite.' And this is their finest group of metal threshkreen."

Generally other species, and Posleen that had become too injured or old to be of use, were referred to simply as "thresh" or "food." Threshkreen was "food that stung." All humans should be called threshkreen; even their nestlings fought.

"Do we know their plan?" Tulo'stenaloor said. "We need to push as many oolt'os through the pass as we can; we cannot afford to be trapped here."

"They intend to open up the area with nuclear bombardment. . . ." the S-2 answered.

"What?" Tulo'stenaloor snapped, his crest rising. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"The area they will be able to cover is limited," the intelligence officer pointed out, bringing up a map. "They will be firing ballistic systems from the northern regions and from the sea. Few of them can even be targeted on this area and most will be destroyed by oolt Po'osol. So all of them are targeted on a relatively small area. Given that most of the blast will be trapped by these accursed hills, we should take minimal casualties. They intend to land in this area forward of the original defenses, where 'Mountain City' once stood. Their fire will only fill that gap in the mountains and the immediate areas of the pass."

"So we'll lose less than two oolt'ondai," Tulo'stenaloor nodded. "That is fine. But we need a response, a 'counter-attack' as the humans would use. Prepare one of the elite oolt'ondai and all the remaining tenaral for an assault upon them as soon as they are on the ground. And two oolt'pos."

"We are almost out of trained forces," the S-2 pointed out.

"I'm aware of that," Tulo'stenaloor said dryly. "But if we can't keep this pass open until others are breached, it will all be for nothing. We need to crush these metal threshkreen before they can get dug in or we'll be trying to kill them two days from now. Have the oolt'ondar move immediately to the hills above the landing zone, in this gap where they will be out of danger from the heavy fire. Tell them to wait to attack until the unit lands and is in the process of unloading."

"The humans are in two groups, estanaar. They have two 'resupply' shuttles filled with antimatter following them."

"That should be an interesting target," Tulo'stenaloor said with a rise of his crest. "Have the oolt'ondai wait until those shuttles land in particular, but ensure that they are struck. That is most important."

"Very well, estanaar," the officer replied. "What shall we tell Orostan?"

"Nothing for now," Tulo'stenaloor said. "He has his own problems. And more than enough forces at the moment; it is when he hits resistance that he will need those passing through right now. Get the oolt'ondar moving immediately; ensure they are heavily weaponed. As the humans would say, they must 'load for bear.' "

* * *

Cally O'Neal looked at the pack and shook her head; she wanted to load for bear but there was just too much to carry.

She had spent half the night curled up in a ball, alternately sleeping fitfully and waking up to cry. She wasn't very good at crying—it really ticked her off when she did—but she had a lot to cry about.

When the word of the Posleen invasion had come, both of her parents were recalled to duty. Because her mother was considered "off-planet," Cally's older sister, Michelle, had been moved to safety on a distant Indowy world. Cally had been left behind in the care of her grandfather on the family farm in Rabun County in north Georgia. The farm just happened to be about five miles on the good side of the Eastern U.S. line of defense.

The Posleen had hit the Wall at Rabun Gap several times over the last few years, but this was the first time they had ever succeeded in breaching it. Now they were all over the place and she was alone in a friggin' cave, behind the lines and without the comfort and advice, not to mention combat support, of Papa O'Neal.

It was not the Posleen who had killed Papa, though, or at least not directly. Something had hit one of the landers when it was passing over their valley and the antimatter containment system had failed. The explosion, equivalent to a one-hundred-kiloton nuke, had come as she was moving back to the deeper shelters. But Papa O'Neal had still been in the outer bunker.

She had found him later, or at least an arm, which was as far down as she could dig, but it was still and cold. She had covered it back up and headed to Cache Four where she had spent the night.

The cache had everything a person on the run could need. Papa O'Neal had spent plenty of time opening up Viet Cong tunnels and he knew what the best ones stocked. He had simply updated the list to the times.

The first thing she donned was her body armor. The Class IIIA armor was custom made—nobody made body armor for thirteen-year-old girls—but she carried it without thought; she had spent so much time already in her life in body armor it was like a second skin. The armor was studded with pouches for ammunition and grenades, and they were all filled.

The base of the armor had latch points for more equipment and she had a holstered Colt .44 magnum on one side and a combat knife on the other. The .44 was a revolver—she just didn't have the wrists for a Desert Eagle yet—but she was nearly as quick with a speed-loader as most people were with a magazine. She also had two quart canteens—they would supplement the camelbak built into the back of the armor—and a buttpack with an absolute minimal of survival materials.

In the pouches she had her basic load, 180 rounds of 7.62, five fragmentation grenades, five white phosphorus grenades and two smoke. She probably wouldn't have an opportunity to use the smoke, but if she needed it she would need it bad. With the armor, pistol, ammunition pouches and grenades she was already looking at over forty-five pounds. Which was half her body-weight.

Around her neck she had a set of night-vision goggles. They were lightweight and had binocular zoom capability, both optical and electronic. As such they had it all over standard helmet monoculars. But, with the weapons sights she wasn't sure she should carry them. And the helmet she had just put on seemed like an unnecessary extravagance. Papa O'Neal was always adamant about it when they were going in hot against Posleen, but if she was on the move she wasn't sure she could afford the extra weight.

She thought about Papa O'Neal and a lump rose in her throat. He had always seemed . . . invincible, immortal. He had fought in just about every brush-fire war that existed for nearly two decades then came back to the farm when his father died. With her mother dead and Dad off with the ACS, he had been all she had and for him it seemed like a chance to make up for never being there when her father grew up.

He had taught her, intensively, from the first day she arrived. And she, in turn, had been an apt pupil. Demolitions, close combat, long distance shooting, she had taken to all of it as if only having to be reminded. It had seemed a very odd pair to the few people who knew them, the ancient mercenary and his towheaded granddaughter, and jokes had been made, carefully out of his hearing, about "the farmer's daughter." The jokes had tended to die, though, rather than increase as she "blossomed" and turned into a real Appalachian belle, albeit one that walked around with a panther's stride and a pistol on her hip. And they had stopped, or at least changed fundamentally, after she shot the sergeant major.

The command sergeant major of the 105th had been quite taken by the twelve-year-old beauty in the hardware store. So taken that he had finally trapped her in the nuts and bolts section, which at the time he thought very appropriate.

When a simple "go away" had been insufficient, and when the fat old soldier had his hand down her newly filling blouse, Cally had simply drawn her Walther and shot him in the knee. Then walked away while he rolled around on the ground screaming like he'd actually been hurt or something.

It wasn't like it was the first time she'd shot a man, and the other time had been far messier. An assassin, an acquaintance of Papa O'Neal from his Phoenix days but young again courtesy of a bootleg rejuvenation, had come recruiting. When it was clear that Papa O'Neal was uninterested in becoming a hired gun for whatever shadowy group Harold had represented, it was also clear that the assassin had revealed too much to let them continue breathing. Cally had realized things were going wrong when Papa's right hand had started twitching like he was reaching for a gun that wasn't there, a sure sign of agitation that she had used to good effect while playing poker against him.

Aware that things were about to go from bad to worse, and dismissed by the normally paranoid assassin as an irrelevant eight-year-old loose end that would soon be tied up, she shot the visitor in the back of the head while he was drawing on Papa O'Neal.

Therefore, shooting a fat old sergeant major was no big deal. A point that she made to the judge, without reference to the previous shooting which had, fortunately, never come to the attention of the authorities.

Her self-possession was almost her undoing. The sergeant major was vociferously defending himself on the not inconceivable charge that she had propositioned him and then shot him when he wanted to pay too low a price. In fact, he was trying very hard to get her charged with attempted murder. However, Cally quickly demonstrated that if she wanted to kill him she could have done so with ease. And no one could be found to back up the sergeant major's assertions about extracurricular activities. In the end the former sergeant major found himself in a penal battalion and Cally's picture was circulated around all the nearby military encampments where it made a nice pin-up with the caption: "WARNING! Jailbait! Armed and Dangerous!"

She hadn't had much self-possession after finding Papa O'Neal's body. She had covered the arm back up and stumbled to the cache to cry her heart out. But as the night went on, she had recognized that she had to leave. There was a full-blown battle going on to the north from the sounds of it, and the Posleen flowing through the Gap were spreading out. She had to head to the human lines, or at least find somewhere further away to hide. The Posleen would pass by something like the cache at first, but later they would come back and dig like badgers if there was any sign of materials or people. So she started to pack.

She didn't know how long she would be moving, so she had to take food. And the nights were getting colder, so she needed some snivel gear. Papa O'Neal could probably make do with just a poncho liner but she wasn't nearly as tough, or well insulated, as the old soldier, so she packed a sleeping bag. Extra water, fuel tabs, spare ammo . . . There was just too much. Even with what she packed if she was in the woods more than five days things would start to get hard.

She stared at the pile, unsure what to take and what to leave, until the floor flipped up and hit her on the face.



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