Gus and Sylnie were both waiting there for me. Sylnie gave me a seductive wave with her fingertips. I blushed in response.
“Boss-Man!” Gus enthused. “Welcome back to the land of the living!”
I frowned at him. “Gus….”
“Okay, okay, welcome back to the land of the deceased and damned,” he amended. He glanced at my new wardrobe. “Nice shirt,” he said. “Master of Puppets. I remember when that came out.”
“I’m pretty sure it came out before I was born,” I said abashedly.
Gus replied, “I was dead less than a year after it came out.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. So I changed the subject. “Uh, how long was I asleep for?”
“Quite a while,” Sylnie answered vaguely.
I blushed again. “Yeah, um, sorry I…fell asleep on you,” I mumbled.
She smiled. “Whenever you want to pick up where we left off,” she said with astonishing sincerity, “just say the word.”
Gus looked like he was struggling to hold in either a snarky comment or a fit of raucous laughter. It was time to change the subject again. “So is there any news to report since we beat the invasion?” I asked.
Gus shook his head. “All’s quiet on the western front, Boss-Man,” he said solemnly. “Although I have no idea what direction west is down here. But everything’s copacetic.”
“Awesome,” I said. “Maybe I can actually start figuring out how to run Hell instead of just keeping it from being overrun.” I sat down behind my desk. “So now what?”
“Now,” Gus began, but he was interrupted by the sound of the door behind him being thrust open from the outside. Before any of us could react with more than a cry of surprise, Niven rushed into the room, launched himself over the desk, forced me to the ground, and shoved his lethal blade into my chest.
Before my vision went dark again, I’m pretty sure I could actually feel the blood pouring out of my heart through a huge puncture wound.