Reality Skimming

Excerpt from Without Bloodshed Part 2

Matthew Graybosch is a Romantic science fantasy novelist from New York who codes for a living. He’s also a gamer, a long-haired metalhead, and a geek who passes for normal by not talking about the nerdy stuff that excites him. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife, two cats, and a bicycle that nags him whenever he doesn’t meet his daily word count. He’s hard at work on the next Starbreaker novel. You can reach him by email or on Google+. His home page is at

Chapter 11, "Three Adversaries Walk into a Bar" (Scene 2) part 2

The Four Winds Bar lay just past the warehouses and factories, in a district which seemed allocated to bars, nightclubs, strip joints, and brothels. Motorcycles crowded the parking lots in front of several establishments, despite the plenitude of bus stops for the use of revelers too drunk to pilot a vehicle. Most of the stops bore public service posters displaying men and women passed out from drunkenness and slogans like "Too drunk to drive = Too drunk to fuck" and "Only losers take advantage." Others bore recruitment posters for the Adversaries, some of which were defaced by some angry hand to read, "We have control. We keep you safe. We are your hope." She used her implant to photograph one of them while passing. I bet Claire would like this. She's a Protomen fan.

As they dismounted and approached the entrance, their motorcycles parked away from those ridden by the Fireclowns, Morgan started a secure relay chat and invited Naomi. Though she usually worked alone, she approved of the connection between them, for it permitted real-time tactical coordination. I'm not used to working as part of a team. Should I just watch your back, Morgan?

Watch Sid's as well, and we'll both look out for you. Otherwise, I trust your judgment. We want the Fireclowns to respect us, and we want them to understand we're not here to fight.

Sid joined in. How's your empty-handed technique?

Rusty. The admission pained Naomi. As an Adversary she was as skilled a combatant without a sword as she was with one; her instructor insisted upon it. She lapsed after retiring from the IRD corps. However, I think I managed reasonably well with Thistlewood.

Both men replied at once, You did.

Sid held the door, and followed Naomi inside; she smiled as she took in the interior. Every booth and table sported plush leather seats, and the woodwork gleamed with fresh polish. Screens displayed various sporting events currently in progress, among them a fencing tourney, a soccer match, a Formula One race, and a baseball game. Despite Claire's opinion, the Four Winds Bar seemed a quality establishment.

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