“I just got a message about a camp not far from here,” Pierrot looked up from his computer screen. “We could do some damage if we liked.”

Collie yawned and looked away from her husband. The image of the chimera was still vivid in her mind, the gray-washed horizon still spattered with rain. She felt a chill inside herself and she couldn’t seem to get warm again.

“What’s it?” Quinn asked jovially.

“It’s a ‘printing’ company. Slave site. Bones have been dug up, they marked it. It’s a go. Scouts reconned the area and messaged me directly.”

“Run by bots or posties?”

“Intel says both,” Pierrot said softly. “But they haven’t got much else.”

“I almost prefer robots to post-humans these days,” Collie said lazily. “They’re much less sentient.”

“Well darling, that’s because they are less sentient.”

“I’m not sure this is a realistic conversation,” Collie puffed out a breath of air and rubbed her hands up and down her arms. The chill did not abate.

Pierrot was eying her, not unkindly but not warmly, and she felt suddenly scrutinized and stood up. She moved to the window and gazed out like a petulant child.

“You’d do well to stay away from the windows darling. Don’t really know what’s about,” her husband said calmly.

Collie yanked open the patio door and stormed out in a rustle of fabric and a flurry of hair. She felt foolish as she didn’t want to go outside, the chill seeping deeper into her bones, but she wanted to display her independence.

The door immediately reopened and Quinn stood silhouetted against the gloomy background of the woods.

“Why are you in such a mood?” he asked with a gentle tone. His eyebrows were uplifted in mock severity.

“I’m not really sure Quinn. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Pierre is on my mind lately. I can’t shake this cold feeling. I think my very bones have been bitten with frost. Do you think the chimera is prowling around?”

His eyes danced as he walked up and wrapped his arms around her, pressing his body against hers. “There love. I’ll warm you again. If the beast is out here, I will protect you. Shield you with my body and all that.”

Collie buried her face in his shirt and waited for the tears to come. But they didn’t. After snuffling noisily for a moment, Quinn pushed her back to examine her face and brushed a stray hair out of her eyes. Her eyes which were dry, no hint of wetness.

“Oh Collie,” he whispered softly. His voice was barely a breath above the soft, chill wind that whipped their clothing tightly to their bodies. “It may start raining again any moment,” his voice now rasped.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said, her lips moving, but she didn’t look away from Quinn, her eyes riveted on his face.

Quinn leaned his head towards hers, enveloping her tighter in his space. A delicate cough from the direction of the house made them both jolt with guilty surprise. Pierrot stood leaning against the doorframe, puffs of breath floating around him. His face was inscrutable.