I've been doing heavy duty hard copy editing, and as I said last night, I'm getting more satisfied, but not what I'd call happy with it yet. Through the two runs, the total word count in the first chapter's gone form 7.6k down to 6.k right now, and I've still got another third of the chapter to run through with the heavy editing. Realistically, I think it'll check in somewhere around 5.8-5.9 when done. Not a bad trimming down. That's removing almost 20% of fat from the steak.
She tore onto the landing field; freedom just feet away.
Her athletic shoes slid across dry, burnt orange ground before they gained a purchase, the sudden stop causing her to windmill both arms to keep balance. She spun around, blonde and red hair following the motion. It flopped over her face and the girl, raising a hand, blood running from several deep cuts on the back of it, pushed it away with a growl.
The girl licked suddenly dry lips, looking over her shoulder, then back where she came. Her lover, a young man, his burly shoulders rippling, sweat plastering his brown hair to his head, struggled with an older man. He gave up five inches the to guard, fighting to allow her escape, before looking over at her.
“Katie, run!” He shouted. “Go! Get to the shuttle!”
Kate took a couple steps towards Thomas, before stopping, and looked over her shoulder at a tall man standing on the shuttle’s cargo ramp. The turbines’ backwash lifting his short, salt and peppered hair, dust thrown up from the engines turning his black uniform an ugly shade of brown, and he shielded his eyes with a hand.
Tears ran down curved cheeks, and Rear Admiral Claudio Reyes, head of Fleet Intelligence, screamed at her, his voice barely audible over the turbines.
I can’t leave Thomas-what would I do without him??
“Goddamn it, Katie!” Thomas shouted again. “Move your ass!”
The guard pressing his greater leverage, muscular arms rippling, starting to gain an advantage as He shoved Thomas down to the ground, pulling a long, shiny knife from a sheath on his belt. Thomas, helpless to stop the events about to unfold, looked at her.
A quick flash of steel, and the man drove the knife deep into the side of Thomas’ throat, and guard pulled it out. Blood spurted from the wound, and flowed between his fingers, as he looked at her with tears in his eyes. He shriveled, eyes rolling back into his head, and toppled over onto his face.
Kate’s legs buckled, and she fell backwards, barely feeling the impact with the hard packed earth. “No! No!! NO!!!”
“Almir! He’s gone!” Reyes shouted.
She pushed herself backwards with both feet, then upright, the move mechanical, and Kate stumbled backwards, never taking her eyes off the guard. A sneer, combining joy over the kill and disdain of her, pulled the corners of his lips upwards, and the man’s eyes narrowed and he spat on the ground.
He reached onto his belt, pulled a grenade off, and, with his teeth, yanked the pin before tossing it. Kate spotted the tumbling weapon, while behind her, Reyes stepped forward, face contorting in rage.
“Shoot that bastard!” he screamed.
Gunshots filled the air, but Kate never heard them because as her mind raced, the world around her, moving at light speed moments before, slowed to frame-by-frame. She picked up the pace, watching the pineapple tumble through the air, every detail crystal clear. It’s ovular; armor gray exterior contained many round protrusions, each containing its antipersonnel shrapnel, with small squares covering the remaining surface.
“Almir! Get down!”
It started to angle down at her.
She looked over her shoulder, and then back at the grenade. It was already too late, and closing eyes, Kate awaited her inevitable death.
The explosion, blinding even with eyes shut, shook the air and she opened them at the same time a mighty fist slammed into her chest. Explosions of pain racing up the spine, Kate’s chest collapsing, her heartbeat dying. A spray of needles tore into the bottom of her face, which burned as if someone poured burning oil on it. Hot steel, rushing outwards at great speed, ripping through her arms and legs, adding to the agony until the crescendo overwhelmed her.
Kate slammed into the ground, the impact brutal and adding to the pain filling her consciousness. Pain spiking and racing, overloading her brain, the burning agony increasing to levels she’d never experienced. Screaming didn’t work, her voice gone, leaving Kate screaming in her mind, the horrible sound tearing deep into her consciousness, ripping sanity away.
The agony reached a peak, darkness grabbing at her feet, and it pulled her downwards.
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