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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“I'm glad to hear you're prepared to do what it takes,” Armin said approvingly.
Nellise scowled, but kept silent. “I do apologise madam, but I have made up my mind. If
you are uncomfortable with taking life, you are welcome to stay here tomorrow when we
leave.
“I am no stranger to battle, I‟m sorry to say,” Nellise stated, “but I will never let it be
my first option. I am coming with you tomorrow morning, and if an opportunit y presents
itself, I will call for their surrender.”
“And I would like nothing better than for them to capitulate at our request,” Armin
said. “But I fear that I must plan for the worst and hope for the best. I‟ll provide all the
details at tomorrow‟s briefing, so make sure you don‟t sleep in and miss it. Until then,
please make yourselves comfortable. The kitchen has some reasonably fresh food in
stock, and Duncan can help you with anything else you require. Colt, I trust we can stay
professional on this operation?”
“You can count on it, sir,” he replied, sounding genuine.
“Maybe there's hope for you yet. You're all dismissed.” With that, he turned and
walked into a side chamber and closed the door.
“That went well,” Duncan said, his face splitting into a grin. “I think the old man
hasn't given up on you completely, much to my surprise.”
“How could he not love this face,” Colt agreed. “You could launch ships with this
face.”
“It looks like someone's been doing that for years,” Nellise remarked casually.
“You wish you were as pretty as me,” Colt retorted, an uncharacteristic grin on his
face. They all had a laugh over the absurdity of that statement before Duncan took
charge.
“Alright, the kitchens are through the north door, so if you feel like a bite to eat, help
yourselves. Q uarters are up those stairs you can see over in that corner. When you want
to sleep, just head up and take any room past the first two – they're still being used, but
the rest are empty.”
“I think we should stop by the armoury first,” Colt advised. “I could use some
replacement leathers.”
“Yeah I was going to mention that,” Duncan said with an appraising look. “You've
clearly been in some pretty serious fights lately, and these suits weren't designed for
front- line combat. Why don't you go and talk to Sarah, I'm sure she can help you out with
some new equipment.”
“I think we'll do just that.”
“If you need me I'll be in the kitchens,” Duncan said.
“What, he's got you peeling potatoes?” Colt chided.
“Someone's gotta do it,” Duncan shrugged. “We're so short- handed at the moment,
even the commander is taking shifts in the kitchen.”
“Okay, well try not to poison us to death, if you can help it,” Colt grunted. “We'll
check in with you later.” He gestured for the others to follow him out of the mess hall.
After heading down a short hallway, they arrived at a heavy, metal-reinforced oaken
door. Colt knocked twice, and a few moments later the sound of a heavy bar being
removed from the other side could be heard. The door swung inward, and a tall, fit
looking woman with dark hair stood in the doorway.
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