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I Promised

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plays in the night after Shattered Souls: Scars

Fog from the cryogen wavered around the heavy boots of the heavily armored guards. The room was cold enough that their breath was visible. With this trooper the hibernation process had to be even faster than with the others. This one didn't respond to the incapacitor half as well as the rest had. All too soon, the biodefenses would wriggle their way out of the artificial hold, and then all Hell would break loose.
     The commander was watching the procedure as stoically as he had watched all the others before. Some people said it was to pay his last respects; more people said it was to see his files properly closed. Whatever the reason was, two more guards stood vigilantly in front of him, their hands lying on their service weapons. More than one trooper had tried to claim his throat on the occasion.
     The shot that shattered the prisoner's skull exploded in the long, narrow tunnel of the cryocrypt, previously filled only with the hiss of cryopumps and the shuffling of armored boots. The disoriented guards, their service weapons drawn, searched frantically for the source. One after another, slowly, disbelievingly they turned toward the commander, registering the still-smoking HEBpistol in his limp hand.
     "I promised Gooseman that he wouldn't be frozen," he said calmly, and–

–sat straight up in bed, sweat-soaked, gasping for breath.