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Running in the Bear Empire 42: Home

First: Running in the Bear Empire
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“You know, we could probably live here pretty comfortably forever.”  Carrone looked at the door of the cabin and back to Deline before setting his pack on his shoulders.  “I’d get better at hunting eventually.”

“I’m not sure you’d say that in winter.”  Deline smirked at him, although she could guess easily enough what was going on in his head.  They were leaving, which meant they were going to the capital. When they got there, everything could change. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 41: Discovery

First: Running in the Bear Empire
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Carrone was staring at Deline.  She didn’t care; she had a whole pack to go through. “Seriously,” he complained,  “why are we looking for a pebble in our packs? Do you know how long I’ve been carrying this pack?”

“Possibly as long as I’ve been carrying mine?”

“Probably longer!  What are you looking for?”

“Something larger than a pebble that isn’t something you packed,” she reiterated.  “Carrone, I will go through your whole pack myself if I have to.” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 40: Spies

First: Running in the Bear Empire
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Deline shifted, not quite meeting Carrone’s gaze.  “How do you think you know anything about this?” she snarled, the first thing that came to mind. What was she doing, anyway?

“I’m a hunter, Deline, I think I know about being hunted just a little bit.  For starters, let’s get back to the – the place before we finish this argument, shall we?  In case our friend gets loose or someone else is looking for you.”

Deline set her jaw and nodded.  “Back,” she agreed. She stalked towards the cabin, barely minding things like cleaning up her trail.  What did it matter, when the Haloran spy was probably going to tell the Talon exactly where she’d been, anyway?  And then the Talon would put two and two together and- Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 39: Prices and Paranoia

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Loyalty

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Deline didn’t so much freeze as she tried to strip all tells from her body language and expression.  Where’s your loyalty?  That was a good question.  Did she want the answer?

“My loyalty?”  Carrone sneered at the Haloran spy.  “I’m a bounty hunter. My loyalty is to the highest bidder.”

“Then I’ll pay you more than whoever’s paying you right now!  Come on, you know the Haloran government has deep pockets.”

He turned to look at Deline, raised an eyebrow, and looked back at the bounty hunter.  She held her breath.

“You can’t meet what she’s paying me, I assure you.   And I wouldn’t want you to.”

He turned his back on the woman, who kept shouting.  Deline did not smile.  She held his arm and started walking, hoping he would walk along with her.

You can’t match what she’s paying me. Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 38: Loyalty

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Halorans

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“Like this place?”  Carrone shook his head.  “No, you weren’t. You were going stir-crazy staying in one place.  I can’t imagine what you’re like at — at home. Cooped up in a single building…”

“Well…” She let a smile linger on her lips for a moment. “It has its benefits.”

“I was trying to explain those to our friend here, but she didn’t want to hear it.  I mean, if she’d listened to me telling her it was an Imperial Cabin…”

“Well, then maybe she might have left when she had a chance.  Unless you were offering to show her exactly how nice the Imperial Bed is…?”

The woman squirmed but said nothing.

“Would you be jealous if I did?” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 37: Halorans

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Guests

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Deline froze.  The voice in the cabin didn’t sound like the Talon, but she couldn’t be sure.  They were both female voices, that was certain, and how, otherwise, had she gotten past the wards.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Fine.  Settle in, here, have a drink, and we can wait for whatever you’re waiting for.  But you can move that knife any time now.”

“What, so you can attack me?”

The accent was different.  It was probably – probably – not the Talon.  

“I’m not going to attack you. You attacked me first, remember?  And we’re both Halorans.”

“Yeah, so what are you doing way out here in the middle of the Bear-Empire Mountains?”

“I could ask you the same thing.  We’re in the same cabin together, after all.” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 36: Guests

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Hunting

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She watched the pebble flow true and thunk hard against a forehead before she had time to process who was standing there.  No weapons out, no Imperial insignia, not someone she knew — they looked startled and took three steps back.

She dropped her slingshot in a pouch and grabbed her longknife.  “Hello.” If they had darts, they’d be going for a pouch; a wrist-dagger, they’d be shifting their wrist, a sword or blade, reaching for their back or thigh.  Sher shifted her weight to her back leg and got ready to block with a wrist or an elbow if she had to.

The woman had her hand halfway to her neck when the “Hello” seemed to make her pause.  With her hand still hanging in the air over her shoulder, she cleared her throat. “Hello.”

“Are you here to kill me?”  The woman had the same blonde Bear-family hair as Deline, the same blue eyes and broad shoulders. Probably not a Deklegion bounty hunter, but it didn’t do to take stupid risks.

“Depends.”  The woman rubbed her forehead where the rock had hit her.  “Who are you?” Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 35: Hunting

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: What’s Your Name?

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“Are you sure you know how to hunt things that aren’t people?”  

Deline was teasing Carrone – mostly.  They had been living in the cabin for four days, and she was beginning to get more on edge than she wanted to admit.  

It was easy enough to settle in to a routine – gather and hunt in the morning, cook a big meal in the afternoon and settle in to bed in the evening.  It was easy enough to pretend that they were just having a little rest stop along the way, getting to know each other. But Deline knew that they were hiding, and she knew that she had to get back to the capital, and she knew that with every day she didn’t – with every day she didn’t make it back, there was a chance that they wouldn’t make it back, and if they didn’t, her information died with her.  And that wasn’t acceptable.

So she was teasing Carrone for losing another deer.   Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 34: What’s Your Name?

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Consummation

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“Wait.”

The thing about an Imperial Bed was, even if it wasn’t exactly comfortable in an emotional sense, it was always perfectly comfortable in a physical sense. The spells that Deline used to keep her lodgings tolerable were the basis of the magic on the Imperial bed, but then there were layers and layers of other work there.  One could lay here forever and not get the slightest bit uncomfortable – or at least for decades, until the spells wore off.

Continue reading