Fiddlestix’ day isn’t going well. First, she is given a hell of an assignment, then she finds out that Lieutenant Frieze, who was supposed to be in command, is probably malingering. To confirm this, she goes to the infirmary to find him doped up on pain meds.
“He came in complaining of a pulled muscle. Honest, Stix, I couldn’t find evidence of it, no matter what tests I ran. He didn’t have a bump, bruise, strain or—bulge,” his voice caught and he gasped as her hand moved up his thigh. “Nothing, babe, I swear. He’s as healthy as you or me.”
“But yet he’s doped to the gillies, why’s that?”
“He insisted. Low pain tolerance, he claims.”
“Is that in addition to his yellow streak and cold feet?”
Brant chuckled seductively. He held the same opinion of Frieze and McLain that she did. His hand fell on hers gently, holding it at the top of his thigh, moving her fingers between his legs a bit.
“Hey, why don’t you come by later? I get off shift at 1900.”
“Can’t. We’re ready to bug out. I have to go.”
“Will you come by if you get back?” He turned worried gray eyes to hers. “I don’t have a good feeling about this, Hannah.” He only used her given name when he was concerned.
“When I get back, I’ll come see you.”
“Be safe, Hannah. I know you’re not religious, but I’ll be praying for you.”
Heedless of what others might think of him associating with a non-commissioned officer, he leaned over and kissed her lingeringly. “Be careful. Listen to that little, paranoid voice of yours and do exactly what it says. I’ve never known your hunches to be wrong, Hannah.”
“I’ll be careful, Brant. I promise.”
She left the infirmary, feeling even less confident than before. Muttering and mumbling to herself, she nearly walked into Captain Ingrid Bark. The captain stopped Fiddlestix with one arm, nearly clotheslining her.
“Whoa,” she said sharply, grabbing the other woman by the shoulder. “What’s up, Master Sergeant? I heard your squad is going into combat without Frieze?”
“He claims he’s injured, ma’am.”
“Does he really?” She didn’t like Frieze either.
“Let’s just say that I’m skeptical, shall we?” Never one to gossip, she wasn’t going to start now.
“Do you need me to go?”
“No, Captain. I can handle it. Do me a favor though?”
“Anything, name it.”
“Watch my back. Have me a way out. I don’t like this one, Ingrid. This is not wise, entering Shine Clan territory without asking. It could be construed as an act of war, and that’s a giant we don’t want to wake. We have no idea what their actual manpower is.”
“McLain can’t contact them?”
Fiddlestix shrugged. “Can’t or won’t. Take your pick. I need to go. Thanks for your help.”
“Come back safe, Hannah. I’ll get the ball rolling for you before you lift off.”
Fiddlestix tried to smile, but it was nearly impossible. She ran to the airship just as Kaz was jumping out to come after her.
“What about Frieze?”
“He’s not coming.”
“I got that. Is he really hurt?”
She gave him a level look. Kaz turned away, bellowing at the members of the elite force.
“Heads up! Master Sergeant’s in charge! Sit down, shut up, mind your manners!”
The airships took off, carrying them in stages to the drop point. Twenty miles from the target, they were unceremoniously jerked out the back in a low altitude drop that left Fiddlestix slightly bruised and breathless. After her people regrouped, she did a headcount, ordering everyone to take a few minutes to eat. She would have preferred to take a smaller group, no more than twenty well trained men and women, into the mountains. Upwards of forty were too many to keep track of. They were nervous and that made them unpredictable. Going after the cyber unit was scary enough, but the idea of going into hostile territory to get them made it worse.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes