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Blitz leaned over my work bench, dangling a memory stick in my field of vision. "You're gonna love me for this," he said, grinning.

"I am?" I had a hard time believing that, because what I would have loved was some peace and quiet to finish reconfiguring my new deck. He blithely ignored my pursed lips.


"And why is that, Blitz?" I sighed.

"Because this, chief, is a bootleg vid of a concert in London, shot in the summer of 2035."

I looked at him blankly. "And I care because...?"

"Because the band in question is an obscure German punk group. Most people have never heard of them. But you have." He waggled the memory stick hypnotically. I blinked.

"That's a recording of a MESSERKAMPF! show? Really? How'd you get it?"

"Turns out there's still a small, but very dedicated fanbase on Shadowland. Ask the right people and there's all kinds of goodies out there."

"No kidding. I wonder if Dietrich knows that." I chuckled, bemused, and took the memory stick from him. "Wanna watch it with me?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

The cinematography wasn't going to win any awards, and the sound quality wasn't all that great either. And as for the band themselves...well, the lead guitarist seemed to only know two and a half chords, and lyrically, they were not blazing any new trails. But none of that really mattered. It was all background to the guy out front with the microphone. Even the indifferent resolution of the shaky handheld video couldn't disguise the fact that the camera didn't just love Dietrich Farber, it wanted to buy him flowers and dinner, and then do completely indecent things to him.

He was mesmerizing. There was no other way to describe it. He prowled the stage, confident and insouciant, wearing the whole of the tiny venue like it was his to do with as he pleased. The sheer presence he projected was captivating, and the crowd was enthralled by him, screaming back to him, reaching for him, pumping their fists. Dietrich had told me once that he'd been 'good at riling up a crowd'. That wasn't the half of it. No wonder fans just like these would, in a few short years, follow him into Hell on the Night of Rage.

Also, he was shirtless, and if Dietrich at forty-seven was a remarkable example of keeping it together in middle age (with an assist from Dragonslayer, I’m sure), Dietrich at twenty-seven was, quite frankly, beautiful. And it was obviously hot under the lights in that little club, a fine sheen of sweat glistening on his chest and the hollow of his collarbone and his jeans were just low-slung enough I could see the little divot above his hip and -

"Um, Zee?" Blitz's voice broke my trance. "Do you need to be alone for a minute?"

I cleared my throat and twitched my shoulders like a ruffled bird. "I'm fine."

"...Right." His skepticism was obvious, and well-founded. "Dietrich's totally gonna get jumped when he gets back, isn't he?"

I smoothed my hair, collecting myself, and then said, honestly, "That is absolutely going to happen, yes."

"He can thank me later, I guess."

"Much later."

"I'll find somewhere else to be this evening."

"That's probably a good idea."