It wasn’t going to be a very good day, Fiddlestix could tell already. Not even 0800 and already she’d had six serious confrontations, three semi-serious and two minimal ones. Admittedly, some of the confrontations had been her fault. She had just finished a briefing with General McLain and wasn’t in much of a mood to be messed with. She hated days that started by putting her people on report, but the mission had everyone on edge, including her.
Nine heavily cybered soldiers and their semi-psychotic handler had gone AWOL nearly three days ago. Their last known position was deep in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee in an area known to be owned and protected by an organization who called themselves the Shine Clan.
The Shine Clan held to the principle that “The South Shall Rise Again”. They hated to admit that the War Between the States was over, and that their side lost. They were highly intolerant of outside control or contact, deciding long ago that they had no need for a corrupt government.
It was an attitude that Fiddlestix could understand, finding herself less than impressed with the United States leaders in the Year of Our Lord 2047. As a member of an elite attack force in the U.S. Army, she wasn’t in a position to voice her discontent, but that didn’t stop her thinking that not only were the leaders corrupt, they were downright stupid.
This opinion extended to General McLain. No, she corrected herself, it started with McLain and ended with the President. After a brief confab, the general and his buddy, President Bob Harmon, had decided that Fiddlestix and her squad were going to infiltrate the Shine Clan territory, track down the cyber unit and bring them back alive, but incapacitated. She had codes to shut them down, but she had to find them first. The fail safe had to be initiated with line of sight contact.
“Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance,” she muttered as she checked her equipment the last time.
“Hey, Sarge” her corporal yelled.
“Yeah, Kaz. What?”
Corporal Walter Kazinski dog trotted over to her side.
“We’re set, Master Sergeant. Everybody’s loaded up and ready to go.”
“Great. Tell Lieutenant Frieze.”
“Uh—He ain’t goin’.”
“What?” She blinked hard, trying to focus on his face as she processed what he’d said. “Frieze isn’t going? When did this happen?”
“About twenty minutes after you went to talk to McLain. He pulled a muscle or something on the wall. He says he can’t possibly function or some such bullshit. He ain’t goin’.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” she growled as she ran a hand through her spiked blonde hair. “Give me ten minutes with him. He’s going or I’ll blow his balls off.” She stormed out of the barracks, yelling over her shoulder. “Stow my gear!”
She pointed to the carefully stacked items with her right arm. The gunmetal cyber-arm caught the morning sun, glinting angrily. At least it seemed angry to Kaz—or maybe that was just because Fiddlestix was so pissed off.
“Yes, Master Sergeant!” He grabbed her kit and ran back to the waiting airship.
Lieutenant Myron Frieze wasn’t career Army. He was some geek who’d signed on for a minimum stint because he’d been in college on the Army ROTC program and needed to pay the government back for his education. He was a bigger idiot than McLain and even more cowardly.
“Pulled a muscle my Aunt Fanny! Piece of chicken shit doesn’t want to go. I’ll kill him. Then they can throw me in the brig and I won’t have to go either!”
The mission wasn’t sitting well with her. She was to a point that she didn’t want to have anything to do with the Shine Clan, the cyber unit, the U.S. Army, or more particularly, General McLain. Frieze wasn’t in his quarters. She found him in the infirmary so doped on pain killers that he wasn’t capable of conscious thought.
“Is he really injured?” she demanded of the doctor who was a friend of hers.
In point of fact, she and Brant Henry were occasional lovers. He’d tell her anything with the right persuasion. She used that now, playing up to him and stroking his thigh under the edge of the table where no one else could see. Brant fidgeted under her erotic touch. There was power in her fingers and he didn’t even want to think what she was capable of if he disappointed her.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes