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Shadow Unit 4
Shadow Unit 4
Shadow Unit 4
eBook265 Seiten3 Stunden

Shadow Unit 4

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Contains "Lucky Day" by Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear, "Sugar" by Leah Bobet, and more.

Erscheinungsdatum15. Sept. 2011
Shadow Unit 4
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Emma Bull

Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her subsequent works have included Falcon, the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-finalist Bone Dance, Finder, and (with Steven Brust) Freedom and Necessity. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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    Shadow Unit 4 - Emma Bull

    Book 4

    Emma Bull

    Elizabeth Bear

    Leah Bobet


    Publishing Information

    Hafidha Gates’ journal, 2008-06-11 16:37:00

    Lucky Day by Elizabeth Bear & Emma Bull



    Going Over Home 1

    Lability 2


    Mythology 3

    Mirror Writing 4

    Sugar by Leah Bobet


    Publishing Information

    © 2007-2011 Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Will Shetterly, Stephen Shipman, Amanda Downum, Leah Bobet, & Holly Black. Cover design and photo @ Kyle Cassidy.

    First edition. Published by CatYelling.

    Smashwords Edition.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

    All seasons of Shadow Unit are available online at

    Hafidha Gates’ journal, 2008-06-11 16:37:00

    Current mood: cheerful

    Current music: Meredith Brooks - Watched You Fall

    Hey, Platypus?

    The notaboy wants to know if he can come visit.

    I could bring him by tonight if you're up for company.


    cvillette @ 2008-06-11 09:11 pm

    As long as he doesn't mind me following the laughing with the occasional Ow ow ow. Sure thing.

    trollcatz @ 2008-06-12 01:47 am

    Notice she waited to bring him by until the stitches were out?

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 03:07 am

    A few days sooner, and the story about the guy filling in for his friend behind the counter in the sex toys shop might have set my recovery back weeks.

    trollcatz @ 2008-06-12 03:08 am

    damn, I'm sorry I missed that.

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 03:14 am

    Almost got us all thrown out. Was good. Missed you, though.

    Sleep now. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    trollcatz @ 2008-06-12 03:16 am

    You wish it had gotten you thrown out, eh?

    *tucks in*

    Sleep, Prince Charming.

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 12:55 am


    Did I mention you can keep that one?

    I mean, as long as you want to.

    0metotchtli @ 2008-06-12 01:47 am

    Oddly enough, him having a Girl makes it all much easier. I'm not having random undeserved urges to bite him for breathing, or being nice to me.

    Is this the healing process? It sucks less than I expected. Sure takes a long time though.

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 03:09 am

    Aw. If it is, I'm glad it sucks less. If it isn't, whatever it is, I'm glad it doesn't uniformly suck.

    Why don't you want people to be nice to you?

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 03:12 am

    Never mind—ignore that. Late, tired, percoset or something like.

    Thank you for visiting, and bringing the notaboy. I had fun.

    0metotchtli @ 2008-06-12 03:13 am

    Your retraction was printed too late. Now you have to live with the answer.

    0metotchtli @ 2008-06-12 03:12 am

    Not people. Boys.

    Because Boys are only nice to you to get you to let your guard down. And then you start to trust them, and as soon as you do that and expect them to be there if you really need them, you really need them. And then they ditch your ass in the weeds by the side of the road, and it's a long walk home.

    cvillette @ 2008-06-12 03:17 am

    I am not a Boy, but I will nevr ditch ur ass anywhere.

    0metotchtli @ 2008-06-12 03:18 am

    No, sweetheart. You're a People.

    Lucky Day by Elizabeth Bear & Emma Bull

    Act I

    Washington, D.C., June 24, 2008

    Gray Putnam was reaching for his door handle when the semi went past, rocking his Audi on its shoes and drowning the driver’s side in a wall of water. He watched taillights vanish behind a curtain of rain and twilight, and thought Maybe I’ll just slide over and get out on the passenger side.

    But another truck roared through in the slow lane, and the Audi wallowed like a sailboat in a trough. Gray looked down at the drained cellphone plugged into the dead dashboard and cursed. So much for Triple A.

    Piece of shit, he said to the Audi conversationally, and thumped one hand on the steering wheel.

    He was just trying to figure out the best way to get his knees past the shifter when something large pulled up behind him, a glare of headlights and blue and red flashers running behind the grill all he could see in the rear window, through the rain.

    Thank you, Jesus, Gray thought, as a big dark shape swung down out of the tall vehicle—did cops drive pickup trucks now?—and crossed behind the Audi to approach on the passenger side. His rescuer, a powerfully-built man in a dark suit—Gray caught a glimpse of a blue shirt getting soaked and a black leather belt snugged around a trim waist—paused by the Audi’s center pillar on the passenger side and leaned down to rap on the window. Off-duty, then, and just playing the good Samaritan?

    Gray hit the button to roll the glass down and cursed. Of course the electric windows didn’t work. He leaned over and indicated with gestures that he was going to open the passenger door a little. The cop waved permission, displaying blunt hands with neat fingernails. Don’t cruise the Rescue Ranger, Gray.

    He cracked the door. Rain spattered the leather seats, but Gray didn’t care. Boy, officer, he said. You have no idea how glad I am to see you. I think it’s the alternator. My whole electrical system just died, and my phone isn’t charged.

    Even in the watery glare of headlights, the face that appeared under the top edge of the frame when his rescuer ducked down just about made him stammer like a kid. The cop was gorgeous. Thick hair—plastered-wet and indeterminate in color now—dripped down over a classic nose, stuck to cheekbones right out of a cowboy movie poster. Gray’s mouth went dry; his palms squeezed tight on the steering wheel.

    I’m not a cop, the cop said. "Okay, not that kind of cop. Aw, shit—!"

    Another big truck, and an arc of filthy water slammed into the Audi and, incidentally, drenched the guy crouched by the open passenger door. Bleh, he said, shaking his hands like a tiger flicking dew off its paws. He looked up at the sky in disgust. Fuck me sideways.

    Oh, Jesus, Gray said. I’m sorry—

    The not-a-cop laughed. "Well, you weren’t driving the truck. Look, I’m Danny. Brady. His expression dared Gray to say something about it. You want a ride?"

    Gray, Gray said. Gray Putnam. And oh, brother, do I.

    Was that a flirting eyebrow in response? Too much to hope for, maybe, but Danny’s gaze was lingering. And not just on his face.

    Gray extended his hand, meaning to shake, but somehow Danny got ahold of his wrist in callused fingers and slid him out of the car effortlessly, so he was on his feet in the rain before he knew it. Strong, he thought, and felt an answering kick in his belly.

    Grab your stuff, Danny said. Let’s get out of here before we attract another fleet of trucks. And then, as if he’d only just realized he was still holding on to Gray’s wrist, he let go like it was hot, cleared his throat, and looked down.

    Gray grabbed his keys, wallet, and the dead cellphone and charger. As he was shutting the Audi’s door and locking it, he patted the automobile surreptitiously on the roof. Maybe he owed the car one, after all.

    Falkner’s work phone only managed the first three notes of Viva Las Vegas before her hand wrapped it. She quelled a shock of adrenaline—worry, excitement, relief—and pressed the phone to her ear. Chaz? What are you doing up?

    His laugh sounded tired, which hurt but did not surprise her. I’m not up, exactly. What are you doing up?

    Falkner sat back in her chair, surveying a kitchen table awash in sheets of newspaper, white glue, and flour paste. Across the surface, her younger daughter peered up at her through a banner of glossy hair and waved. Helping Deborah with a papier-mâché project. She says hello.

    Tell her I said hi. Look, I had a—sort of an insight into one of Reyes’s pet projects.

    Falkner didn’t like the bright, brittle tone, but she knew better than to let him hear her unease. Part of effective leadership was the appearance of calm, the ability to wrap your subordinates in the sense of being needed and safe.

    Tell me whose arm I should break for bringing you work, she said, and kept it dryly humorous. Deborah, recognizing the underlying tone, suddenly found a need to slide out of her chair and wander towards the bathroom. Wash the paste off your hands before you touch the towels! Falkner called after her.

    In her ear, Chaz chuckled. She heard the bedcovers rustle. He wouldn’t be shrugging, not without wincing.

    The wince was in his voice when he answered, The work was already in my head. I mean, I had all the pieces. I maybe just needed a little down time to work it out in.

    You’re supposed to be resting, Chaz.

    He laughed again. "I was resting! I dreamed it! Look, remember the cluster of deaths by misadventure that Reyes has had us dogging all over the f— the Southwest? Weird, completely random stuff. A woman killed when the glass in her kitchen door shattered and sliced her carotid artery. A guy who literally—literally—slid on a banana peel and fell under a bus. And Hafs and I have been saying it was nothing, there’s no connection, his hunch is a dud. They’re just accidental deaths. Right?"

    I’m hanging up the phone now, Chaz. Go to sleep.

    "Falkner, wait. Wait. I think we were wrong. A statistically significant fraction of the most suspicious-looking non-suspicious deaths—the really freakish freak accidents, the ones that are just weird enough for Final Destination part twenty, whatever, have a consistent victimology."

    All right, Falkner said. I’m listening.

    "They’re all assholes, Falkner. They’re the sort of people where, when you hear something terrible has happened to them, you kind of shake your head and think well, he had it coming. The kind of people you really wouldn’t mind seeing fall under a bus."

    Nobody deserves to fall under a bus— She was, she knew, speaking for her own outrage and wrath.

    And she also knew Chaz was going to call her on it, so she grinned when he did: Falkner. Stop it with the reaction formation for a minute and listen to me. You don’t have to Mom my aggressive impulses into more socially acceptable forms.

    It was sublimation, she said. Not reaction formation.

    Of course. Your defense mechanisms are sublimely healthy. But here’s what I was saying. It was almost impossible to pick out because there’s so much background noise, but the really weird deaths that fit that victimology all happened in clusters.

    Geographic clusters?

    "Clusters in time. He was tiring already. She could tell by the sound of his breathing, which rasped across the cell pickup. There’ll be a cluster of five or ten, all within two or three months, each cluster eight months to two years apart. Here’s where the geographic profiling comes in, though—if you apply it to those particular deaths as clusters they suggest a progression—a route—within that time, though the route isn’t the same from one time-cluster to the next."

    Salesman, she said. Trucker.

    Drug distributor, he suggested. Senior citizen with an RV. Do I have permission to generate the profiles and email you?

    She was pressing the cell too tight to the side of her face. She could feel the sweat puddling between the plastic and her skin. No hauling bricks, she said.

    Only in my sleep, he answered. Call me if you need me.

    He cut the connection, leaving her leaning on the hand that cupped around her phone.

    Solomon Todd ground his fingers into the inside corners of his eyes. As if I could dig out the tired, he thought.

    He stretched his spine against the padded back of a chair rolled up to the briefing room table. A good, relaxing sensation—just enough to remind him of his underused bed in Bethesda, and how nice it would be to crawl into it and stop taking money from the taxpayers. He could go back to journalism. It had been long enough that the people he’d pissed off now admired him for it. And he’d bet Cokie Roberts had been photogenically snoring since ten p.m.

    Who are you kidding? If you weren’t in a briefing room in the Hoover Building, you’d find someplace less comfortable to lose sleep in.

    Reyes, in his designated chair, looked every bit as rested as he had since Texas, which was not at all. His dark skin had the ashy, drawn look Todd had seen on people who’d been at the front lines of disaster a little too long. Who are we missing? he asked.

    The moment of twitchy silence, Todd decided, was inevitable.

    Hafs will be here in a minute, Daphne Worth said. Her voice was crunchy and pitched lower than normal, and she clutched her coffee cup like Leo DiCaprio clinging to Kate Winslet. She’s printing out Chaz’s stats.

    What? Nikki Lau looked up from the open file box in front of her and scowled; her strong, small hands clenched the cardboard on both sides. Who’s been letting Chaz get statty?

    I wouldn’t say ‘let.’ Falkner stepped into the room, then sideways along the wall as if following a guide wire under the carpet. She was flawlessly crisp, but her pale skin made a nice contrast to the shadows under her eyes.

    Good thing we’re all looking and feeling our best.

    Worth shrugged at Lau. "It’s not like we can say, ‘Chaz, stop thinking.’"

    Quick footsteps beyond the door pushed the conversational pause button. But it was Daniel Brady, and the held-breath sensation lasted only an instant.

    Speaking of the climax of Titanic, Todd thought. Brady’s hair was darkened to near-brown and flattened to his scalp, his shirt soaked at the collar and down the front where his jacket hadn’t covered it. Todd hated to think what the jacket looked like.

    Brady, with every reason to be irritable as a cat in bath water, smiled at the room. Evening, all. He tugged out a chair ‘til it bumped the wall and settled into it.

    You were kidnapped and thrown in the Potomac, Lau offered, her eyebrows trying to make contact with her hairline.

    It’s coming down like a pissing mare. Maybe you noticed?

    Aaand...that made you want to stand under a downspout? asked Worth.

    Lau made a noise like an air-filled balloon leaking.

    Brady rolled his eyes. Stopped to help a stranded driver.

    Ah. Todd nodded. Which involved deep-water rescue. Damn those freeway culverts.

    Don’t any of you quit your day jobs, Brady said, but mildly.

    Hafidha Gates swept into the room. She wore a staggering verdigris-colored short dress under a black coat—No, rewrite for vivid and accurate—under the red-headed stepchild of tails and an eighteenth-century highwayman’s greatcoat, in black. Her braids were joined at the ends with a daisy chain of beads, and her eyes were an unlikely grass-green. She must have been clubbing when Falkner’s call reached her.

    Hafidha dropped her sheaf of paper on the table in front of Brady. Take one down and pass it around. Nikki, sweetie, you pull the case jackets?

    Right here. Lau tugged folders out of the file box and made five stacks of them in the middle of the table. Five ranges of dates, forty-two deaths ruled accidental. Chaz tagged all of these?

    Just the ranges of dates, Falkner corrected. Some of these cases will fall off the list when we look hard at them. We’ll start with geography and victimology.

    Brady dealt Hafidha’s printouts to the team. Todd studied his copies. A list of accidental deaths, grouped by dates and locations. And an annotated map of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

    They’d plotted these cases by location before, trying to spot clusters, proximity to a single area, common industries, shared past trauma. Now connect-the-dots constellations overlaid the map. Possible routes, five of them, each a different color. 2007 in red. 2005-2006 in green. 2004 in yellow. 2003 in blue. 2001 in Pepto-Bismol pink. They crossed, overlapped, diverged, like the work of a spider on acid.

    He looked up from the printouts to the five piles of case jackets and sighed. I never grudge the Bureau my time and attention. But can’t you just bring these up on your monitor and look for pretty colors?

    Hafidha rolled out the chair next to Todd, slid into it, and patted his arm. Duke, you know I wouldn’t make you slave over a hot desk if you didn’t have to. The files don’t go Technicolor. They’re accidents.

    Except Chaz says that’s statistically unlikely.

    Reyes leaned forward. Or it’s statistically likely they’re murders. I know I’ve been driving you crazy with these cases for months. But Chaz may have given us a way into them. He pulled a folder toward him off the nearest pile. Let’s squeeze these bastards ‘til they yell.

    They each snagged a case jacket. Todd suspected they all heard what he had, the unspoken statement: Chaz used up a little more of his time for this. Let’s not waste it.

    Two hours later, they had a preliminary sort of twenty-seven cases and a wheels-up time of five a.m.

    Wow. Lau slumped in her chair and sighed. Twenty-seven thoroughly unpleasant people dead by accident.

    But given the geographic spread and total lack of anything else the victims had in common... Worth trailed off and looked around the table. doesn’t seem possible that this can be a personal vendetta, Reyes finished for her. You’re right.

    Brady tilted his head. But we won’t rule it out.

    They really don’t want to hear about this one Down the Hall, said Falkner.

    That pried half a smile out of Reyes. This is going to be about legwork and data-sifting. Hafidha, Worth, Todd, and I will head out and work the scenes.

    And we’ll shuffle paperwork, Falkner finished. She stretched where she stood. As if it were a signal, most of the team gathered notes, files, and belongings and straggled out of the room.

    Lau restacked folders with elaborate care. Brady paused beside the door, watching the others into the bullpen and waiting for Todd and Lau. He turned, eyed Lau’s bent head, raised his eyebrows at Todd. Todd shrugged. If Lau was waiting for one or the other of them, she’d have to speak up about it.

    Bring back some salsa, Brady said, and stepped into the hall. Lau didn’t call him back.

    Todd tucked his papers under his arm. Or maybe she just wants to be alone. Ah, well, time enough for sleeping in the grave.

    Duke. She said it like a cough.

    He laid the files back on the table, lined them up with the edge. No hurry. By the time he was done, she could straighten her shoulders and meet his eyes. A lock of shining dark hair swung forward over one cheekbone; she poked it behind her ear.

    Is Chaz going to make it?

    If he’d listed things Lau might want to ask him in private, that wouldn’t have been near the top. "Nikki— Dr. McCoy’s line from Star Trek? The opposite of that."

    It got him something that was almost a smile. ’I’m a spook, not a doctor?’

    He drew himself up very straight, which was what it took to look down his nose at her from a sufficient height. I beg your pardon. I’m a law enforcement professional and an employee of the Justice Department. Spook, indeed.

    She laughed, but barely, and looked away. I just wondered if someone...if you’d heard something I might not have.

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