Previous installments in Winter Kill:
Previous installment in The Azren Chronicles:
(Which I would recommend reading, if you haven’t already, before reading Winter Kill, otherwise you might have some trouble understanding Winter Kill properly). Quick note: Just because the previous Azren Chronicles book – The Trouble with Pies (And Why they Are Necessary) – is a comedy skit DOES NOT mean that any other book in The Azren Chronicles has to be a comedy – there is no such rule saying that. I am allowed to make this one be dark(ish) and serious if I want to.
Anyway, on with the story!
Rue climbed out of bed. Who’s knocking? she wondered as she wiped her eyes. There was another knock. “Who is it?”
“Me,” Bond replied, his voice muffled by the door.
Oh. Rue went over to the door and opened it. “Is anything wrong?”
“Could be,” he said uncertainly.
Rue frowned, confused. “What’s the matter?”
Bond sighed. “Racquel’s here.”
Rue entered the lounge carrying a tray with a pot of tea, three empty mugs, and some biscuits. She saw Racquel standing infront of the mantel piece, staring at a framed photo. Rue looked closer and saw it was a photo of Jones with his arm around his new girlfriend, Amelia, and Bond at a beach. That’s right. We were on that holiday we took after helping Azalea and John.
She cleared her throat.
Racquel turned around, startled. Rue noticed that she was wearing a red long-sleeved top and a red mini-skirt. “Hi, Rue. Sorry. I didn’t hear you come in.”
“No need to apologise,” Rue assured her.
Racquel nodded and glanced at the picture again, then back at her and Bond. “I hope you don’t mind me looking at this.”
“No. Feel free,” Bond and Rue said in unison. Walking over, Rue saw another framed photo to the left of the one Racquel was admiring. It was taken at the same place – but it was of her, Jones, and Bond posing for a photo which they had gotten Amelia to take of them. Bond was doing the famous James Bond pose, Jones was doing the famous Iron Man pose and Rue was mimicking a Black Widow fighting pose.
Pity Amelia doesn’t want to talk to us anymore.
Racquel laughed as she saw the photo. “These are beautiful photos, you two. Do you mind if I ask where they were taken?”
“I don’t remember the name,” Bond commented. “Something with the word ‘Pearl’ or ‘Pearls’ in it.”
Rue scratched her head. “That famous tourist resort. With the candy store where I bought that Ruby chocolate and fell ill. Remember that?”
“Actually, I’d rather not,” Bond replied dryly. “I did love that beach.”
Rue narrowed her eyes at him. “The beach? Or specific people?”
“Let’s put it this way: I loved the specific people on the beach.”
Racquel snorted. “Watch what you confess to – you are in the presence of a Criminal Defense Attorney.” Rue and Bond cracked up laughing.
“I never confessed to anything,” Bond replied.
Rue turned to Racquel. “Sit down. Would you like some tea? Or coffee?” Racquel sat down on a recliner.
“No, thank you,” she declined. Bond and Rue sat down opposite her on a couch. “I’m sorry to hear about Jones. I really am. He was a great guy and a good conversationalist.”
“Thank you,” Rue replied.
“I can’t help but feel partially responsible for what happened,” Racquel continued.
Bond shook his head. “No. Don’t. You were just doing your job. What happened…had nothing to do with you,” he reassured her.
Rue nodded. “It’s no-one’s fault but Ver’thad’s. Are you sure that you don’t want anything?”
Racquel nodded. “Yes. I didn’t come here for tea, though it is really kind of you to offer.”
Rue and Bond glanced at each other. “What did you come here for?” Bond asked warily.
Racquel took a deep breath. “I think I’ll take that cup of tea now.” Rue silently poured her a cup. What the heck is she talking about? Racquel drank half of it in one gulp. Rue raised an eyebrow. That is not like her in the slightest. She cleared her throat and continued. “I…need your help,” she said tentatively.
Rue leaned back in her seat.
Bond let out a sigh. “I don’t think so.”
“No, no! You’ve misunderstood me,” Racquel rushed to reassure them. “Not for any missions. Just as an escort.”
Rue’s ears perked up. Escort? “Keep talking.” Bond shot her a look, but kept silent.
“I’m traveling to the planet Tarlyles on a legal case and, unfortunately, between here and Tarlyles is overrun by bandits and space pirates. The Aidiwen Kingdom cannot spare any of its soldiers due to the recent scares with Ver’thad and His Majesty Dritz wants double patrol, protection, etc., to prevent anything else being stolen. So is the rest of our planet. It’s just a simple escort job to Tarlyles and back – and maybe having to deal with some space pirates,” Racquel explained.
“Do any of them wear eye patches and go by the name of ‘Long John Silver’?” Bond quipped. “Because I think there’s more going on than what you’re saying.”
Racquel frowned. “Come to think of it, there is. Iron Man’s also coming along.” She then sighed. “Bond. Come on. I’m repeating the facts here.”
Rue leaned forward. “We accept.” Can’t wait to get out of here.
Racquel let out a sigh of relief and stood up. “Great! Be at the space port tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.”
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