And Todd Lockwood is working on the cover illustration! (he's either started later than last year or has better security ... I recall the initial sketch for "Protector" floating 'round the e-verse much earlier in the book's timeline)
Remembering the few words that chilled me for a moment in the previous volume the first time I read it (because the author doesn't often kill off characters but it has been know to happen)
Haikuti. He had never seen so much as a photo of the man--but he had no doubt.
"Banichi!" that man shouted, swinging his rifle upward.
Banichi moved. In a time-stretched instant, Haikuti went backward, Banichi spun and went down, bullets hit the bus, and a buffeting shock went through the ground.
Yep, I 'fess that that bolded bit freaked me briefly last year 'cause for all the firefights 'Nichi-ji has been in we'd never seen him drop when hit (he drips blood on the floors and sometimes his hair gets slightly mussed, but the man never goes down) so this was a VERY BAD THING. Yes, it's very easy for humans to get attached to atevi ***GRIN***