2020, Literature, Revenant

Revenant: Helljumper, Chapter 1.

31 July, 1917. Ypres, Flanders.

The portal split the air with a crack like a cannon going off- and then a cannon really did go off.

An artillery shell exploded ten paces distant. One second Quinn was stepping through a circle of light that was every color and none all at once. The next second, she was standing knee-deep in mud and someone’s intestines, and suddenly there was ballistics fire coming at her from every direction. Quinn’s eyes widened. A trio of bullets ricocheted off her chest and thigh with bruising force. Something cracked deep in her chest; a rib, it felt like. She doubled over with pain and glanced around. To her left was a line of barbed wire. Men were charging out from behind it. Each man was wielding an ancient-looking ballistics-type projectile rifle, and a triangular dagger was affixed to the business end of each rifle. Farther behind those men, even more soldiers were erupting from the ground.

Fixed-frame steel-barrel rifles, non-reconfigurable. Bayonets. Trenches? Who uses trenches anymore? Quinn blinked and looked around again, this time to her right across the crater-riddled moonscape of the no-man’s-land between the two lines of barbed wire. Men wearing a different uniform were propped on an embankment about fifty yards away. Olive-green and scarlet. She caught the harsh, throaty consonants of their shouts.

Germans? She glanced back at the other side, who were now running directly into the hail of machine-gun fire that the Germans were directing at them. Her HUD finally flashed up at the corner of her viewfinder with a barrage of information. British? French?

SATELLITES UNDETECTED. LOCATION: UNKNOWN. The HUD highlighted some of the armaments and diagrammed them out for her, and then a usage date flashed up beneath the information. 1911-1924.

Her knees went weak.

“Holy shit,” Quinn breathed. “I overshot it. I’m in the middle of the First World War.”

And then another artillery shell went off not five feet from her. Had she been anyone save who she was, the force of the blast would have knocked her off her feet, and the shrapnel would have cut her to ribbons. As it was, a golden cloud swept up in front of her and absorbed the worst of the explosion. She staggered a little from the concussion. The frags pinged harmlessly off her armor and bodysuit. Something passed through her hair with a tug. Quinn paid it little heed. For a second, she contemplated simply sitting down where she was and waiting out this particular confrontation- it would be interesting to see how it played out, after all- but then one young man staggered and jerked, gunned down by machine gun fire. Blood spewed from the holes that the bullets ripped in his legs, his chest, and his head, and he went down. He skidded to a stop not two paces from Quinn’s feet.

Green eyes met hers. His mouth worked for a second while he gasped out his final breath- and then he fell still. His pupils dilated.


She stared. This young man was small, not yet grown, so young that there was not even peach-fuzz on his chin. He could not have been more than 15 years old, and now he would never see another sunrise. Something thick and hot and ugly welled in the back of Quinn’s throat. She spun around- but the portal was already gone. It had probably collapsed as soon as she had passed through it.

No going back. Her heart pounded in her temples. I’m stuck here, now. Time to pick a side and jump right in.

I don’t want to, whispered another, more traitorous part of her.

If I want to survive here and find Kora before we both go off the deep end, I have to.

The realization tasted like gall on the back of her tongue.

She ground her teeth and slung her mag-rifle off her back. Quinn dropped to one knee, and as she sank into the mud, she propped her elbow up on her other leg and thumbed off the safety on the side of her rifle. Her gun whirred to life. White light flashed inside the turbine and the energy funnels opened up on either side. With a whine like a vacuum cleaner going to work, the electromagnets inside the compression chamber engaged. Fragments of metal zipped through the air. They were sucked through the funnels and started rattling around inside the turbine. In the space of a second, the gun was charged, loaded, and ready to fire.

Quinn turned to the German side of the line, sighted up the machine gun that had taken out the boy near her feet, and squeezed the trigger.

A round shot out of the barrel. Her HUD clocked its muzzle velocity at five kilometers per second. The projectile slammed into the embankment where the machine gun was mounted. The entire thing- gun, nest, embankment, and gunners- exploded into a cloud of shrapnel and bloody mist. Screams and shouts went up from the German side. She turned. There was another machine gun spitting bullets across the field a few hundred feet down the line. Quinn’s rifle whirred again, and a second later, the second nest met the same fate as the first.

The remainder of the allied British and French troops made it across the pockmarked wasteland and poured into the German trench, and the air filled with screams of fear and the crack of gunshots and the moans of the dying.

Once no more machine guns were shooting at her, Quinn paused. Time to make a decision, Major. Entente, or Central?

She seriously debated it for a moment. On one hand, the Entente Powers’ winning of the war would lead to the Armistice that would impoverish Germany, and that impoverishment would eventually lead to the Second World War. After World War II, there would be a general peace, but everything would slowly go to Hell until the End of Days happened, and then things would become infinitely worse. That was fact. It was fact, as sure as the fact was that the sick golden glow of a forcefield overhead was a haven, not a prison.

On the other hand, a win for the Central powers was uncharted territory. Were Germany to win the First World War, where would that leave the world?

Probably in the grasp of a totalitarian regime not unlike that of the Eurasian Biodome, she mused. Total control over every aspect of the people’s lives.

Her stomach churned.

Tobias’s last words to her echoed through her head. What right does anyone have, to have that level of control over another person?

The question floated through her mind, posed in a familiar baritone. Tobias’s expression had been dark, stormy. He had knelt over his brother’s body and closed Phillip’s eyes, and in that moment, something had died between Tobias and Quinn, something intangible. Tobias had turned to her, and Quinn had felt the change like the cold winter wind on the back of her neck.

Someone screamed nearby.

The ballistics fire had been redirected from her, and the screams were coming from the French and British soldiers that were now invading the German trench, and from the Germans who they were killing.

Quinn stared at the line for a second. If memory serves, the goal of the German high command during World War One was to cripple France’s military and economic power for at least a generation, and annex French lands for the production of weaponry.

Tobias had been right. While Quinn doubted she would ever see him again, he was right. One person or nation should not have totalitarian control over another people or nation.

Never again, Quinn thought, as she had before she had come through the portal and left her world behind forever. Her grip firmed on her rifle. No more genetic experimentation. No more WINTERS soldiers. No more degredation. No more living under the thumb of self-serving old men. No more tyranny. Quinn took a deep breath. It’s time I chose my own destiny, for once.

Quinn stared out over the no-man’s-land in which she was standing, and made her decision.

With a deep breath, she shifted her grip on her rail-gun, pulled herself out of the sucking mud with a squelch of water, slogged forward through the quagmire toward the German trench, and settled into that blue space in her mind where everything went cool and calm and quiet. Her gun’s turbine started whirring again. Shards of artillery, fallen bullets, and pieces of barbed wire whizzed through the air and flung themselves into the gun’s electromagnetic funnels. The firearm rattled and jerked in her hands.

There was another machine gun nest a good way down the line. Quinn focused on that and increased her pace to a fast jog. Men were going to die if that gun went to work again. They would charge up the field and be mown down like wheat before the scythe.

You made me to be a machine of war, she thought, but I choose to be an ender of wars. I choose life.

She came into range.

Quinn took a knee, braced her elbow on her raised thigh, took aim-


She jerked her head up, wide-eyed. An artillery shell screamed in toward her. It was going to be a direct hit!

Quinn bellowed her defiance and flung up a hand. A cloud of golden dust blasted from the ports in her bodysuit. The fog raged through the air. In an instant, the round hit the cloud- and stopped dead, unexploded. The sparkling golden particles latched onto the metal as though drawn to it by a magnet, and sparks began dancing along the surface of the artillery shell. Its outer casing began dissolving. Quinn turned her attention to the German line, took aim once more with her rail-rifle, sighted up the machine gun turret, and let fly her shot.

It vaporized the gunners in an instant.

She looked up again. In the space of the two seconds it had taken her to fire, the artillery shell was gone, eaten by the golden mist. When Quinn opened her hand again, the dust streamed back into the ports of her bodysuit. With it came a sudden rise in power. Her HUD brightened for a moment with the influx of energy. The nanites went to work redistributing the metals from the shell’s casing and wirings throughout the weave of her bodysuit, which further strengthened her armored shell. The picric acid that had been inside the shell was then stored in a chamber of her wrist gauntlet for later use.

Her HUD flashed a warning at the corner of her eye: biosuit 15% power, nanites 50%, mag-rifle 10%. Quinn winced. She had expended too much already, and she had only been in this time for less than half an hour. Her tech could take a lot, but this was stressing even its capacities, and frankly, the rapid drain on her resources was worrying. The biosuit had never drained so quickly, before, and usually she could go three days before having to change her rifle’s battery. The nanites? They could replicate themselves, of course, but without a ready source of platinum, copper, titanium, and other precious metals, there was no way they would be able to rebuild their numbers. She could not replace those.

That was not even to mention the battery for her rifle. Where she would find the materials to craft a miniature frission reactor small enough and stable enough to use in a reconfigurable mag-rifle… well, she did not think it would happen.

I could be in serious trouble, here. She bit her lip. At least my biosuit can recharge itself, even if it can’t engage or repair the shell mechanism without the nanites. Just have to make sure I don’t get shot.

Quinn raised her head and glanced around. The sounds of battle were dying down, and now that the third machine gun had been destroyed, another line of British troops was going over the top and running through no-man’s-land toward the German trench up the line. Their battle would begin in a moment, but the fighting closest to Quinn was nearly done. She would be discovered soon enough.

It was time to hide.

Quinn pressed the button on the side of her rifle, and it automatically reconfigured itself into the fashion of a Colt model 1911 sidearm pistol with a magazine full of 9x19mm Parabellum rounds, fashioned from the metals the gun had previously ingested. With a thought, her bodysuit shrank down from her cheeks and jawline and melted away from her hands, and that was when she went in search of a uniform.

She found a body nearby. The young man was about her height, though he had been slimmer in the hips than she was by a good margin. Quinn avoided looking at his face as she stripped him out of his uniform, and it was only when she had dressed herself fully in his trousers, boots, gaiters, shirt, suspenders, and coat that she engaged the shape-altering abilities of her bodysuit. She groaned as the ‘suit compressed her belly and thighs slightly.

“I hate this part,” she hissed, and then groaned again as the biosuit tightened around her chest. It pushed her breasts flat against her body and compressed the rib that had snapped when she had been shot, earlier. Pain shot through her. It was like being punched in both boobs at once while simultaneously getting that rib broken all over again. She doubled over with a gasp.

“Oi!” The shout turned her attention to a young man who was trudging toward her, and Quinn quickly pulled the dog tags from the neck of the corpse at her feet and slipped the chain over her head. She grabbed the man’s wide-brimmed helmet and plunked it onto her head- and immediately grimaced. The man had been killed by a shot to the head, and now blood and brain matter were dripping into Quinn’s hair. She winced, grabbed the soldier’s ammunition belt and the Lee-Enfield .303 rifle beside him, and slogged over to meet the man who had hailed her.

When she finally got near enough to get an eyeful of him, Quinn’s mouth nearly fell open.

He was the most handsome man she had ever met. There was a scar on his face that curved across his left cheek, over the bridge of his nose, and split his right brow in two like a backward check-mark, but it only accentuated his high cheekbones and drew attention to the straight line of his nose. The look was complimented by a strong chin and jawline that were obscured by a haze of overgrown dark stubble, and beneath a pair of coal-black eyebrows were some of the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Those eyes flashed at her as he glanced her up and down and took in her fine-boned features, the small joints of her slender hands, and the curvature of her hips beneath her uniform.

“I havenae seen you, before,” he commented with a frown. He spoke with a distinctly Scottish brogue. Quinn swallowed. He had a rich baritone voice that resonated through his chest. He could probably make himself heard from there all the way down the line, if he wanted. The man squinted at her. Then his eyes widened. “Wait… You’re the lass I just saw blow up those gunny’s nests.”

Right. Quinn shoved her pistol through the belt around her waist- the holster attached to it already held a Webley model 1887 service revolver- slung her new Lee-Enfield rifle over her shoulder by its strap, and held her hands up and made a show of displaying her open palms. The man’s grip on his rifle eased just slightly.

“Did anyone else see?” she asked him. “What else did you see?”

His breathing was still a little heightened from his struggle across the wastes, but when the man met her gaze, there was wonder in his eyes. Quinn saw no fear, there.

“I heard an a’mighty crack an’ saw ye tumble out of a rift o’ light,” he replied, and the words came slowly and his gaze was ponderous as he glanced her up and down yet again. “I dinnae ken whence ye came, lass, but ye seem tae have sommat against the Germans, so ye cannae be all that bad.”

He had watched her come through the portal. He had watched her lay waste to the Germans’ machine guns, and now he was watching her standing there in the uniform she had stolen from one of his dead comrades-in-arms, and he was not panicking. He was not calling witchcraft or raising the alarm.

Quinn stared at him. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

His eyebrows rocketed up toward his hairline, but the scar on his face twisted the skin and tugged the interior edge of his right eyebrow down so that the entire expression was cockeyed and almost comical.

“Excuse me?” he demanded. “’What the hell is wrong with me?’ You’re the one who just fell oot o’ the sky an’ ripped the Hun apart like wet paper! Wha’s wrong wi’ me, wha’s wrong wi’ you?

Quinn and the stranger stared at each other for a moment, and then her lips twitched and she started laughing. He gaped at her while her arms fell back to her sides.

“You’re right,” she chortled. “You’re right. Oh my God, you’re right. I just did something that you think should be impossible, and here I am, asking what’s wrong with you.”

“Aye, I ken it.” He was still staring at her. “Ye’re mad. Ye’re a madwoman.”

Quinn gave him a pointed look. “Says the man who just charged straight into machine-gun fire and tossed himself into an enemy trench without a second thought.”

He pursed his lips. “Well, when ye say it li’ that-”

A crack split the air. Mud sprang up around Quinn’s feet, and the young man shouted and tackled her to the ground. They hit the mud with a squelch. Then the ground gave way beneath them, and they just as quickly slid down into a water-filled artillery crater. Quinn howled the entire way. The man’s weight drove Quinn down the steep side of the embankment, and then they hit the rancid soup at the bottom with a great splash and liquid closed over Quinn’s head.

Then the ground gave way beneath them, and they just as quickly slid down into a water-filled artillery crater.

Water filled her nose and mouth. It tasted like blood and earth and rot. Quinn struggled up. She managed to clear the water just enough to suck in a breath, and then the man crashed into her and she went under again. She choked and sputtered. Mud swallowed her arms and legs and waist and sucked her down. Quinn could not move. Encumbered by the mud as she was, she could not get the leverage to push the man off her. He was too heavy.

Panic shot through her chest.

Oh, God, she thought. I’ve come so far, done so much, and this is how it ends. The mighty super-soldier, killed by three feet of water and a suck of mud. She screamed into the water and bucked against the man atop her. Hell no!

Her air ran out. Her body convulsed and inhaled. Liquid rushed down her throat. It burned like molten fire.

Then a hand grabbed her by the lapels and hauled her up. Quinn’s face broke the surface. She coughed and choked into the air and heaved a rush of water and sludge all down her front, and then her companion hauled her up against the side of the crater and covered her with his own body.

“Sniper!” he gasped, and spat into the dirt beside them. “Stay doon!”

Quinn just hacked and gagged and prayed that the Serum would prevent her from getting pneumonia or bronchitis or any of the myriad infections that were doubtless stewing in the soup she was swimming in. She wiped at her eyes, and spotted a dead horse lying halfway in the pit-water.

Quinn shuddered.

The man caught his breath and wiped at the muzzle of his rifle, and then he scrabbled up the side of the crater. Quinn watched him peer up over the lip of it, and then something clanged and he toppled backward and splashed into the water again. This time, he did not come back up. Quinn reached down into the soup and grabbed him by the belt. When she pulled him up, he started coughing again, but aside from a mouthful of sludge, nothing came up. The man pulled the helmet off his head and ran a shaking hand through his hair. He was not bleeding, though there was an abrasion across his forehead. His shallow helmet had a pair of holes drilled in it.

They both stared at it for a second. Then he leaned over and puked.

“Close call,” Quinn managed once he had finished adding to the soup in the bottom of the crater. He caught his breath and plunked his helmet back onto his head. The man was shaking like a morphine addict gone too long without a fix.

She watched his expression flit through a variety of emotions before he finally turned to her.

“We need tae get ourselves back tae the British line,” he muttered, and craned his neck and peered up at the edge of the crater again. “There’s a bloody wee sniper up there waitin’ fer us tae show our heids an’ send us tae our Maker.”

“Did you get a bearing on him?” He gaped at her, flummoxed by the question, and Quinn spat into the mud beside her and scrubbed a hand across her brow. She had lost her helmet somewhere in the water and mud, and she had no intention of trying to dig through the horse guts and puke to find it again.

“Did I get a bearin’ on him?” The man raised his voice to a mocking soprano and then sneered at her. “Did I get a bearin’ on him, what do ye think I am, the A’mighty? O’ course I didnae get a bearin’, I didnae hae the chance tae see a’fore I was gettin’ shot!”

Quinn turned her head and wiped her nose and mouth on her shoulder. It did little good in cleaning her up save to smear the mud around even more.

“Fair enough, you flippin’ daisy,” she muttered, and managed to flop over onto her belly- she had to pull one leg free from the mud at a time with a deep, sucking squelch that threatened to pull her boots off, gaiters and all- and then she pulled her new Lee-Enfield out of the mud and examined it. There was filth all over the barrel and the bolt was little better. She turned to her companion. “How’s your rifle? Is it clear?”


“Your. Rifle,” Quinn growled, and scowled at him. “Are the action and barrel clear? Will it shoot?”

He glanced at the rifle in question. “Òbh, òbh, aye, it’ll do, but-”

“Hand it over,” she commanded. He frowned at her and clutched the rifle to his chest.

“Are ye daft, lass?” he demanded. “Ye’ll jus’ get yerself killed! Leave Bessie out o’ it!”

Quinn glared at him. “If one of us doesn’t do something soon and either take care of that sniper or somehow distract him, we’re going to be stuck in this damned hole until morning, and I don’t know about you, but I feel the temperature dropping. I don’t fancy sitting in the water and mud and freezing my ass off with a rotting horse and a coward for company. Now, will you let me borrow your rifle or not? I have an idea.”

The man’s frown turned into a scowl, but he thrust his rifle at her with a huff nonetheless. Quinn nodded and handed him her own Lee-Enfield in return, and then she picked up his shot-up helmet from beside him and handed it to him, as well.

“Listen,” she started, and began the scramble up the bank. “I know this is probably the oldest trick in the book, but the lighting’s bad enough he might fall for it. I want you to raise your helmet on the barrel of the rifle just enough that it shows over the lip of the crater. When he shoots, I’ll get a bead on him and take him out.”

The young man scoffed and shook his head. “Daft. Ye’re daft, ye ken, and ye’re richt. It is the oldest trick in the book, an’ he saw me fall anyway. No way ye’ll take ‘im in li’ that.”

She gave him a pointed look and turned- and winced when she came face to face with a dead German slumped into the crater. Quinn shuddered and pushed the man away. The corpse’s sudden movement attracted attention, and rifle-fire peppered the body. It jerked in a disturbing parody of life and then tumbled down the embankment into the water.

Quinn groaned.

“Gah! Ew, so gross. So gross!” She gave a full-body shudder and pressed herself back against the mud, and gave her companion a wild-eyed look. “I am not going back down into that infection soup down there, so if you have a better idea, I’m all ears!”

He snarled something in some kind of Gaelic and plunked his helmet onto the muzzle of Quinn’s rifle. “Fine. Ready?”


The man shoved the helmet above the edge of the embankment, and a second later a shot pinged through it again and sent it dancing down the side of the crater. Quinn popped up over the lip of the embankment.


She brought her rifle around, lined up her shot, and fired just as the muzzle of the German man’s rifle flared. Quinn ducked behind the earth just in time; a spray of mud splattered her across the face and into her mouth.

Holy shit. Holy shit. Quinn crouched there for a long moment, staring wide-eyed and unseeing at the sludge before her face, and she lifted a hand to the blazing line of heat that cut across her left eyebrow. The shot had ricocheted and grazed her. It had gone deep enough that, when she probed it, she felt bone, and the rotation of the bullet had drilled a furrow through the surface of the bone itself so that it felt like someone had carved a line through her brow. The side of her jaw, likewise, was burning. Quinn’s hand was shaking when it came away from her bloodied temple, and crimson dripped down her face in a hot rush. Holy shit. That was almost it. He almost got me.

A hand wrapped around hers. Quinn turned wide eyes upon her companion, and his mouth was moving, but she could not hear the words over the ringing in her ears. She shook herself and pushed down the panic, shoved it down deep into that box inside her mind where it would sleep until she could deal with it later.

“Did ye get him?” her companion was asking. His blue eyes were huge in his fear-pale face. “Lass, did ye get ‘im?”

She swallowed. “I dunno. I didn’t see whether or not I shot him before he shot at me.”

They stared at each other in silence for a moment. His face was streaked with mud so that he looked as though he had painted camouflage oil-paint on his skin, but beneath the grime his cheeks had gone bloodless, and she could no longer tell whether his hands were trembling from fear or just from adrenaline or the creeping cold.

After a moment, he blew out a breath and let go of her hand. “All richt, lass. I’ll poke my head up, an’ you come up beside me, an’ if he’s still alive, well, I hope ye’ll shoot him a’fore he shoots me, ye ken?”

Quinn tightened her grip on her rifle. “I won’t let you get killed.”

“Deal.” He turned as though to start up the side of the crater again, and then he paused, gazed at her a second, and abruptly offered her his hand. “Tam.”

Quinn grabbed his palm with a bloody squelch. “Quinn.”

Tam shook her hand, and then they swarmed up the bank together, paused just beneath the lip of the crater, and then, as one, they poked their heads up. Quinn took aim toward where the sniper had been- and sure enough, there he was.

She fired.

The German jerked, slumped over his embankment, and went still. Quinn wasted no time. She pulled herself up and over the lip of the crater and reached down for Tam, fisted her hand in his belt and pulled. He came up with a grunt of exertion and a great sucking sound as the mud released its grip on him, and then they were both up and running as fast as they could for the closest duckboards. By the time they reached the planks, Tam’s lungs were wheezing like an aged bellows, and even Quinn’s chest was heaving. They scrambled up onto the duckboards and pelted down the walkway toward the British trenches.

“All richt, lass,” Tam panted, and then glanced over his shoulder at her again. “Wha’s a lassie doin’ on a battlefield, anyway?”

“You know what, let’s get out of no-man’s-land, and I’ll answer that one question.” Quinn stepped wrong, and her broken rib throbbed in response. She groaned and hunched over her side. “What’s your name, trooper?”

“I told ye, it’s Tam.” He gave her an odd look. “Why d’ye want tae ken?”

“I’m being civil,” she retorted. When he did nothing more than jump a gap in the duckboards and land with a hollow thud on the opposite side, she tried again. “Listen, Tam, I need your help. I am Major Quinn Russell of the WINTERS Battalion, North American Biodome Army, and I’ve come here to find my missing sister.” Still nothing. “Do you need my ID number and other biological information? Because I can give you that, too.”

He finally glanced back at her again before he turned his gaze forward once more. “Wha’s her name? This sister o’ yours.”

“Kora Russell. She went missing during a mission, and I suspect she may have been sent to this-” Quinn hesitated. “-area.”

“I see.” Tam went quiet for a moment, and then he stumbled to a stop with a curse and took a knee. Quinn followed suit. He swiped a hand down his face and when he glanced over at her, he was still panting.

“Barbed wire,” he explained, and then took a deep breath and offered her his hand for the second time that night. “All richt. I’m Leftenant Tòmas Drummond wi’ the Fifth Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.”

Quinn took his hand, and shook. He had a good grip, with strong hands as broad as spades. There were calluses all across his palm.

“Nice to officially meet you, Lieutenant,” Quinn replied. “Now what say we go find ourselves a nice, comfy seat in the mud and I’ll tell you a bit more of why I’m here.”

His lips twitched upward, and he squeezed her hand before he gestured toward the British trenches.

“Come along, then, Major.” He got to his feet, and they carefully picked their way through the barbed wire. He paused as he held a coil of it aside for her, and then gave her a strange look. “Ye talk like an American.”

She tossed him a smile and held another coil aside for him. “That’s ‘cause, technically, I am.”

“And I’m sure ye’ll be tellin’ me all aboot it.”

The smile widened into a grin at his wry tone. “Of course, Lieutenant, but certainly you can understand that a woman has to keep some secrets. Wouldn’t want to lose that feminine mystique, now would I.”

They passed by a corpse caught in the barbs and cleared the wire. The duckboards clunked wetly beneath their feet with every step.

“Major Russell,” Tòmas murmured.


“Ye seem a braw lass. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

Something squelched beneath Quinn’s boot, and she glanced down and wrinkled her nose.

“Ew.” She kept walking and took more care to watch her step. “I think you might be right, Lieutenant Drummond.”

Something sparked in those blue eyes, and he quirked a smile made cockeyed by the grime on his face and the scar on his cheek. “Fer the las’ time, lass, jus’ call me Tam. Everybody does.”

She returned the smile. “All right, Tam. Call me Quinn.”

They jumped down into the British trench with a squelch of mud, and as the shadows closed over their heads, Quinn wondered, What have I gotten myself into this time?

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