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Ongoing 683 Words

In A Puff of Smoke

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"Watch your six!"  Preston shouted, shouldering his musket.  "Sniper on the roof!" 

"Got him, Colonel!" 

"Medic! Over here!" 

"Move up! Move up! Go, go, go!"  Preston ducked behind a tree as laser fire shot past him on all sides.  "Get under the overhang!" 

"Aye sir!" 

"Targets at 10 and 2!" 

"2 Down!' 

Preston wiped sweat from his brow, popping up and aiming.  "10 down! Move!  Get up the courtyard" 

People pushed past him as he reloaded his musket.  Sweat poured down his face.    

"Oof."  Nick Valentine dropped to a crouch beside him. "Damn trigger-happy, good for nothin…" He muttered to himself, reloading his revolver. 

"All that and more." Preston sighed, peeking over the hedge as the rest of his squad secured the courtyard.   

The radio on Preston's sash cracked.  "--pinned down--- point charlie---- Danse wound--- use a hand here!"  Aubrey's voice cut through the static. 

"Damn." Valentine huffed.  "Can you cover me across the yard?" 

"Got your back, Valentine." 

They darted around the barricades walling off the courtyard and bolted for the third squad's attack point. 

Aubrey was crouched behind a barricade, blind firing her laser at a group of Gunners holed up maybe 20 feet away.   Danse leaned against it, one hand holding a rapidly darkening rag over his side, the other tossing hastily prepared Molotov cocktails over the wall. "Watch out for--" 

The crack of gunfire from the Gunners drowned out the rest of Aubrey's warning.  

Time slowed as Preston darted from his cover, ignoring Valentine's grip on his sleeve.  He'd be damned if he let the Gunners rob the Minuteman of another good general. 

"Preston, NO!" 

"Colonel!"

"Garvey, STOP!" 

Preston readied his musket. 

Inhale. 

Hold. 

Aim. 

Pomf.  Something landed in the grass beside him. 

Fire. 

A single beat.  

Inhale…

White. 

Black.  Ringing

I've got him! 

Get a Stim in that leg!  Danse! Get my vertibird out here NOW. 

"Gen--" 

Bright. Blue. Red.   Ringing. 

Here, Curie, use my coat.  Lord knows I don't need it. 

Hang on, Preston. 

Darker. Blue. Tan. Gray and amber. 

Where's that goddamned 'bird?! 

Hold on Preston, just hold on. 

Blue.  Dark blue.  Still ringing. 

Stay with us, pal.  You're gonna be alright. 

Blurring. Dark blue, light blue, gray and amber. 

Preston?  Preston!  Curie, we're losing him! 

Shadows.   

Black. 

"Where the hell is my husband?!" 

"Please, Sturges.  He's resting.  Curie says he'll be alright, but she's only just finished with him." 

"Ngh…." Preston tried to sit up, but pain ripped through his body.  "J-Jack?" 

"Let me in there, General." 

"I don't think that's a--" 

"I didn't stop you when Valentine was over in my shop, in pieces; now let me in there!" 

"Jack…" 

"General… Aubrey.  Please." 

"… Alright.  Just… be prepared… he's in bad shape." 

"I can handle it." 

Preston winced against the light from the hallway as the door opened.  "Jack?  That--" He winced.  Breathing was hard.  "That you?" 

"It's me, sweetie." He stepped in the door, blocking the light.  "How--"  He stopped short, the words catching in his throat.  "Well, I guess asking how you're feeling is probably a stupid question, huh?"  He smirked.  

Preston offered a small smile.  "Probably looks worse?" 

"I… yeah.  Yeah, it probably does."  He grabbed a nearby chair and brought it to his bedside, taking his hand and rubbing his thumb over the knuckles.  "The hell were you thinkin'?  Running in front of a grenade?" 

"General was pinned down.  Needed to help her…  She…she okay?" 

"Yeah… she's fine.  Got a bit singed, but she's fine.  So's everyone else.  Think Valentine lost some more skin." 

Preston nodded, letting his head rest on the pillow.  "What happened?  I don't." 

"You ran in front of a grenade bouquet.  You were damn lucky it didn't go off completely."  Tears welled in Jack's eyes.  "Aubrey had you evac-ed.  You've been in surgery for hours." 

Preston swallowed.  "How bad is it, Jack?" 

"Preston… you need to rest. We can worry about--" 

"Jack… How. Bad?" 

Jack looked away, pressing his forehead to Preston's fingers.  "Curie did everything she could… but there was too much damage, she said.   You… your leg…  Babe, I'm so sorry.  Your leg's gone." 

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