Fiddlestix has been hired by Donan Varin to find his wife. She, and two bodyguards, are on their way to see the Harlichs south of Daytona. But first, they have to go through the hostile Chateau Noir territory. Their leader has put a substantial bounty on Fiddlestix’ head.
They turned east, skirting the shoreline. The night-sight helped a lot. With luck, they would make it to the Harlichs without Bobby knowing they were there. Luck wasn’t with them. A guard station caught them by surprise. They weren’t as startled as the guards were. The disorganized men were dispatched in short order. However, the noise alerted the other stations. The hunt was on and they were the quarry.
“Press the yellow button,” Blacksmith said.
They hit the yellow buttons and a turbo boost kicked in, spurring them to speeds well over a hundred. Flying blindly through the woods, they dodged trees, holes and bogs. The map could not update fast enough, so it was a combination of blind faith and guesswork. Despite the boost, the guards were closing. Knowing the terrain helped their pursuers. It was going to be close.
“Ride together and hit the orange button!” Buzzard cried.
A clicking whir and Fiddlestix saw something fly from the rear of her bike. Nothing happened until the first of their antagonists entered the zone/ Shrapnel filled mini bombs exploded, riddling the group with razor sharp steel springs and rods. Others scattered a field of whirring motion sensor razors. Pandemonium ensued behind them, slowing their attackers.They road at a furious pace, making their way through the woods on prayer and adrenaline. A few more miles flew past and the going got somewhat smoother.
“We’re in Harlich territory.” Blacksmith announced, slowing his bike. “Noir won’t follow us in here.”
“There should be a guard station about half a mile to the west,” Fiddlestix told them. “I think it would be better to announce ourselves formally, don’t you?”
They displayed the orange sashes openly, riding confidently to the Harlich compound. A guard detached himself from his surroundings, weapon leveled at Fiddlestix’ bike. She stopped as soon as she saw him. Setting her kickstand, she rose slowly. Hands well out from her sides, she walked forward. Removing her helmet and goggles, she squinted at the men, looking for familiar faces. She saw none.
“State your business,” the guard yelled in heavily accented English.
“I seek an audience with Meneer Fumler,” Fiddlestix replied in flawless Dutch.
“Meneer Fumler does not see just anyone,” the guard replied. “Who are you?”
She cleared her throat before replying, unsure of her welcome. “Tell him, please, that Hannah Braun wishes to speak to him.” Once her name would have opened any door here, but now she feared just the opposite.
“I’ll check. Wait here.”
The guard was back in less than five minutes. Opening the gate, ushered them in. The sun was just peeping over the river as they walked onto the compound.
“Your bikes with be tended. Follow me.”
It had been so long since she had been here, yet little had changed. The buildings were sturdily built of limestone and coquina. The houses were in orderly rows, neatly trimmed yards in front of each. All the houses faced a huge center square where the office buildings stood.
Fiddlestix forced herself to watch the guard’s back as they walked along. As they reached the main building where Karl’s office was, a flutter of fear passed through her.
“I will announce you.” The guard left them outside the door. He returned a moment later, beckoning them to follow.
Fiddlestix stood before Karl’s door, taking a deep breath, trying to relax before entering. The guard opened the door, standing aside for her to walk through. She was completely unprepared for who stood on the other side of the desk from her. This was not the fatherly figure she had anticipated, but the smiling, boyish face of Karl the Fifth!
He stepped around his desk, arms open for a welcoming hug. “Hannah, it’s so good to see you! I’d heard you were back.” He ushered her to a seat. “Why have you waited so long to come see us?”
“I was unsure how I would be received,” she replied shyly.
“I see.” He looked pensive for a moment, then curiosity took hold. Karl looked at them expectantly. “What brings you here? I assume that this is not just a social visit?”
“It’s such a surprise seeing you. I expected Papa.” She could not help falling into the old, familiar pattern of speech.
His face clouded and it was his turn to hang his head. “He died, Hannah. Cancer is indiscriminate.”
Impulsively, she reached across the desk, taking his hand in hers, squeezing gently. “I know you miss him. He was a fine man. Where are my manners? I haven’t made introductions.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes