Fiddlestix explains that she thinks McLain sent the cyber warriors in on purpose, to attack the Shine Clan and punish them for how they had treated him. She further says that her team was sent, in hopes they would all die at the hands of the warriors, or the Shine Clan. Deacon doesn’t want to believe her, and storms out of their meeting.
“Could I talk to Deacon alone? Maybe without everyone else around, we could hammer this out.”
“Sometimes having to be in command in front of an audience makes it hard to think logically,” Frank agreed. “When you have to be strong, defiant…. I think talking to him is a good idea.”
“But will he do it?” Jasper asked his uncle.
“Hell if I know, boy. But I’ll ask.” He rose hesitantly as if his wounds had stiffened while he was sitting down. Grasping his side, he limped slowly to the door. “Jasper, take these folks for some victuals.”
“Yes, sir.” Jasper rose.
Followed by Fiddlestix and her men, he walked casually down a corridor, made a few turns that she couldn’t keep track of, and eventually led them to a large, high roofed dining hall.
Eyes followed them as they walked to the cafeteria line. Fiddlestix was aware of the stares, but didn’t let on that she knew. Instead, she chatted with Jasper, laughing and joking as he led her through the line. Her plate was piled high with different foods that he felt she should try. Unsure she could eat it all, she agreed so she wouldn’t disappoint him. He was sweet and charming in an innocent way. She wasn’t surprised to find out that he was barely twenty. Drawn to him, she would have liked to spend some time in his company, but sensed that would be a terrible breach of protocol. Besides, he was a little young for her. She liked her men seasoned, with experience. Deacon, who was six years older, was hot, spicy and seasoned just right.
When they finished their meal, she realized she’d eaten most of what she’d been served. Kaz and Harmony went back for seconds and had two slices of apple pie each. Jasper ate just as much as they did. Heaving a delighted sigh, he tipped back in his chair, placing an arm casually behind her shoulders. It wasn’t a come-on, it was just Jasper.
He grinned at her. “Nothing like a pretty dinner companion to make a meal, eh boys?” he directed this comment at her soldiers.
Kaz and Harmony hadn’t ever really thought of Fiddlestix as anything but Master Sergeant. Thinking of her as a woman was a new concept. Since that pretty dinner companion could easily eviscerate them or rip out their hearts with her cyber arm, they tended to remember that instead. But they agreed with Jasper so they wouldn’t offend her.
Jasper’s grin faded slightly and he looked over his right shoulder toward the door. Standing there, rather lost and alone, was Deacon. His face was haggard, drawn over the bones in tight lines. He said nothing, but looked at Fiddlestix, jerking his head toward the door behind him.
“Excuse me, gentlemen. I think I’m being summoned to the royal presence.”
Jasper took her hand gently as she stood. “Don’t be too hard on him, Hannah. He’s a good man and a strong leader. The last couple days haven’t been easy.”
Nodding sharply, she strutted casually to Deacon’s side. He allowed her to precede him through the doorway, watching as she passed with more than a little interest. Jasper saw his brother’s expression and smirked.
“If she don’t charm the pants right off him, she can slap my ass and call me Sally,” he chuckled.
Kaz and Harmony exchanged a knowing look. They hadn’t missed Deacon’s expression either. They were still floundering around, trying to imagine Fiddlestix as anything but a ruthless killer. It didn’t work.
“If she don’t kill him first,” Harmony mumbled, frowning deeply. “You don’t know The Sarge like we do. She don’t take no for an answer and she don’t much like being argued with.”
“I’d match her against my brother any day,” Jasper smirked. “And bet heavily on Deacon. Not that it matters. What matters is getting this situation resolved. We’ve already sent in reinforcements. I’m organizing another platoon to go out. You boys want to come?”
“I’m stuck till I know what Sarge wants to do,” Kaz replied.
“I’ll go,” Harmony agreed. “Fiddlestix don’t need me for right now. I know a thing or two about how these boys work,” he told Jasper as they walked out the door. “I used to be a handler for another bunch.”
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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