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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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He could go home now, crank up the AC, have a Scotch, and swim in the holos until he was numb and unafraid enough to sit down and fill out some bullshit report. REPO to the rescue! REPO hurrah!

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The two squads pulled back on each side of the lot entrance with unexpected alacrity as the armored vehicle glided toward them with remarkable smoothness over the warm asphalt. Suddenly, with a demented cry, Kleep charged the vehicle, his Coltorch primed and at the ready. A torrent of flame leapt from the ceramic nozzle to engulf the grill of the tow truck. The grill squirmed. And screamed.

A high-pitched skull-ripper of a sound. The truck rolled on its side and curled over on its back like a dog wanting to be scratched, its towing crane arcing like the tail of a scorpion, its many legged underside twitching in the hot flames. Again and again, as the tortured creature screamed in pain, Kleep laid a long torrent of flame along the side panels, which boiled and cracked like marshmallows on a campfire.

Acrid smoke billowed up in black clouds that had a less than delicate perfume. As Trapp watched, the thing in front of them began to shrink to a crisp with a rapid roar, feeding the boiling black column with thick grey flakes that danced in the smoke as if it were more substance than vapor. A half-melted piece of the grill separated from the disintegrating mass and began to worm its way toward Trapp, working its chrome-colored teeth in agony and rage.

A series of explosions startled Trapp, and he realized that he had unconsciously leveled and fired the shotgun in his hands, and was reflexively pumping round after round into the face of the snarling horror. It retreated, twitching, and was engulfed by a trickle of flaming fluid.

Fry, you creep! Fry in hell! He kept firing until the trigger clicked and nothing came out …. Somewhere off to his right, Kleep was dancing like a fat kid in front of a Halloween bonfire. He waved the flamethrower triumphantly. Kleep was right. No more worry about sending a signal for help. The smoke would be seen for miles. Fire, police, news sources, everyone would see it. Soon the finest lab techs in the world would be sifting this ash and taking tissue samples from the thing against the wall and the burned remnants of the thing still smoking on the asphalt. Soon netcams would be panning across this smoldering carnage, and everyone in the world would know that something truly strange had happened here.

Even the stuffy bureaucrats at MUTE would be unable to silence it, bury it, delay the terrible knowing of it. Nameless dread would be transformed into a call for action. And then the world as he had known it—might be saved. As Trapp raised his eyes to follow the smoke that spiraled skyward in a curiously cohesive column, a not quite formed worry teased at his brain: What else would the smoke bring?

He shook it off. Action was needed now. Only then did he turn back to face the unknown. Suddenly the empty lot felt like a trap under the pale lemon sky. No breeze stirred the lot, and there was no sound to be heard but the faint roar of traffic high above on the overpasses. Kleep, breathing raggedly now, had also returned to the trunk and was stuffing grenades into his donned flak vest. And how would they be able to tell if it was the real BR this time?? Things had gotten very bad very quickly—and something else was bothering him. The sound of a siren and the screeching of tires broke through the smoke that still boiled off the asphalt.

A bright red fire engine careened around the corner of the block—leaning strangely on the curve, he thought—and then roared toward the mouth of the lot. The two squads moved in at its flanks as it slowed, and slid toward them with an almost animal grace.


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The squad ignited in a puff of foul green smoke. A thick pale tentacle rose from the flaming cab. It was topped with a glob that looked a little like a head with a blue cap. A mouth opened on the side of it. Trapp opened up with the Beretta, pouring slugs into its wriggling undercarriage, apparently to no avail.

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The thing leapt convulsively forward and descended upon Captain Kleep—whose Coltorch had suddenly jammed! But Kleep did not retreat! As the grill of teeth closed on his gun arm, he seized the jumbo can of bug spray from where it sat on the edge of the trunk and hurled it into the maw of the monster.

Shaking off the horror that had paralyzed him for an instant, he slammed the fresh clip into the Beretta and poured out his fire—using the can as a target. It twisted toward Trapp, rippling its elastic, ladder-like arms, but then it was seized by a series of terrible convulsions, striking the asphalt again and again. That it could drive him mad! But then, with a terrible, brain-ripping noise, it rolled away from him and crashed into the wall of the parking ramp at the edge of the lot—trembled and lay almost still, twitching softly.

Kleep was a goner for sure. One shoulder was gone, and blood ran out like a dark river, pooling around the crushed fedora that lay nearby. I should have fired faster , Trapp thought.

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The damn thing got into my head! His eyes were beginning to glaze over. A thread of bloody foam appeared on his lip. But you know what, Trapp? A pathway to destiny and destruction that seemed suddenly inevitable. And who was he to stand in the path of this devastation? One deranged primate who knew with unambiguous certainty the threat to the human empire.

One sorry specimen of a species that had finally met its master. Surely, it was all over but the screams of the dying. Surely there was nothing he could do …. They came down out of the Yellow Sky with the bugs. They know how to put fear in your head. Trust nothing you see! And then he was gone. As the flames crackled around the dead squads, and an evil sweat trickled from his brow, Trapp said goodbye to the man who everyone should have listened to, the man who could have been his lifelong friend.

The family would have to be notified, he thought. If there was any family. If there was anyone to notify. If they would care if notification were executed. If anything anyone did mattered anymore, mattered at all!

He rose slowly, turned, and surveyed the lot. Trapp saw that Kleep had gotten the other squad with another of his grenades. In its death throes the fire-engine thing had lashed its ladders into the cement wall of the old parking ramp that edged the lot to the East. The wall had crumpled oddly—not like a solid barrier, but like the shell of an old pumpkin.

Through a gap Trapp could just barely make out the dim slope of one of the ramps elbowing back into the darkness like some fragment of a structure designed by Escher. Pulling a flashcard from his wallet, he warily approached the cavity. Carefully, he sidestepped the ladders which still twitched and rippled like dying tentacles, and approached the wall. Odd, he thought, a parking ramp of this vintage should be wrought of Tilt-Up SYMcrete slabs, but this one clearly had some sort of ceramic block structure that seemed curiously soft—the cross section perforated with five-sided honeycomb-like cells.

Stepping over the broken wall into the dim interior, an odd draft—cool and strangely sweet—fanned his cheeks. He stood there, dazed and still a bit in shock, grateful for a moment to be out of the hot sun and the insanities that lay in stinking ruin in the lot behind him.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw something moving there on the concrete surface just a few yards in front of him. Toys that squirmed and pounced as if they were made of soft rubber. Toys that looked like tiny microvans, utility vehicles, sportscars, smartsquads.

These are the parameters of the psychic vise, for growing numbers of women are the main or sole breadwinners for their families. When a woman delays children and partnership into her 30s to earn money and establish independence and then sees how her paths are blocked, it is perhaps no wonder that something like anguish is the result.

I was furious at Rory Gilmore for getting accidentally pregnant in the end — all that wasted potential! The professional stagnation my millennial friends report as an existential cloud is real. According to a new study by the Population Reference Bureau, fewer millennial women are working in STEM jobs than women in Generation X, unemployment among millennial women is higher than in Generation X, and overall well being measured by rising suicide rates, poverty, maternal death is on the decline.

She started the research last summer, she said, when there was a female candidate running for president, and her colleagues were hopeful that they would find significant measures of millennial progress. The awakening occurs slowly, it seems. Women enter workplaces filled with ambition and optimism and then, by 30 or so, become wise to the ways in which they are stuck. At all ages, millennial women say they feel that men get the plum international assignments — even though they also believe that the plum international assignments are crucial to advancing their careers.

In general, young millennial men feel more bought into work than young women — more supported and more contented at their jobs, according to data provided by the Families and Work Institute, even though the young women are likelier to report that they put their jobs first, over family. A dose of perspective is, perhaps, required here. The lesson of The Feminine Mystique was not that every woman should quit the burbs and go to work, but that no woman should be expected to find all her happiness in one place — in kitchen appliances, for example.

And the lesson for my discontented friends is not that they should ditch their professional responsibilities but that they should stop looking to work, as their mothers looked to husbands, as the answer to the big questions they have about their lives. We find people who are dual-centric to be most satisfied. If people put an equivalent stress on their life outside of their job they get further ahead and are more satisfied at their job. To be clear: This is not about settling, about making peace with the humdrum sexism of traditional workplaces.

Rage and revolution are called for, and such upheaval requires more professional investment by more females, not less. Instead, this is about a shift in perspective — an appreciation for imperfect circumstances and unmet yearnings as facts of life, and a willingness to seek gratifications and inspirations outside the boundaries of a job. Dogs are helpful in this regard. So are children and friends and sports and museums and live music and sex and activism and charity. Surely, that girl is as defeatable — or as undefeatable — as anyone. I know, my editor is very forgiving.

And yay about tattoos! Love tattooed characters. Qhuinn has seven studs in one ear.

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It used to be that anyone who had a tat was seen as being edgy, and an individualist. Not so much anymore. Soccer moms have tats. I have one. Now piercings are filling that role. StephB beat me to the punch. Yes, Wicked Lovely had a hero with plenty of body piercing.

Also, Molly Carpenter from the Dresden Files has multiple piercings, including one in her tongue and each nipple. I would love to read books where any of the protagonists have piercings, especially nipple or genital piercings. I recently read a modern erotica where the hero had a pierced penis, a ball ring, which I actually have no clue what it was. Um, ouch. I think that belly piercing is more mainstream these days.


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But two that come to mind are:. I was just thinking about this the other day! I would also like to read a romance contemporary, erotic, whatever featuring a male character with a tongue ring. And Ash is pretty much the hottest hero ever, except maybe Rourke, and he has bunches of piercings…. It was a bit over the line for me, but not because of the piercings. As for piercings, I fainted when I had my ears done, but love having them. His story was told throughout the trilogy Riding the storm, Unleased the storm, and Seduced by the storm.

The book is erotic romance and you can see the action of that tongue. In my novella DX in Shards of Crimson, my heroine has a navel ring. I know there are more, but those are the ones that come to mind right away. Not that I condone unlicensed piercing in real life, but this is erotic fantasy. And dyed hair. And tatts. Lots of nipple piercings there.