Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 13 by Dellani Oakes

among-the-shine-clan-coverThey have managed to shut down one cyber-warrior, but their handler seems to be blocking their device. Gathering their wounded together, Deacon and Fiddlestix regroup to come up with a plan.

Deacon sat heavily beside her, covered in blood and cyber fluid. “Now what?” He panted, taking a sip from a bottle of water he’d taken from a cabinet nearby. He handed her the bottle and she took a grateful sip.

“Now that the signal’s jammed, we have to find Livingston, their handler. We have to take him out.”

“Okay, how we gonna do that, Hannah-Belle?” He grinned, his blue eyes sparkling.

“They’ll protect him,” she said half to herself. “If I were a half crazed, cyber handler, where the hell would I go?

“Want to see a schematic of the area?”

“Deacon, I’d love to see that.”

“Cool,” he grinned again, jumping to his feet.

She took his proffered hand, even though she didn’t need it, simply because she wanted him to touch her. He motioned her to follow him to a view screen on the wall. Tapping in a few commands, he showed her a floor plan of the compound. Zooming in the image, he brought it to their position.

“There’s us,” he indicated the green blips representing their small force.

“If we plug in the scanner, can we use this to find Livingston?”

“We can but try.” He whistled sharply. “Jasper.”

His younger brother walked over. Deacon explained what Fiddlestix suggested. “Can you do it?”

“Hell, yeah, Deacon. Piece of cake. Give me fifteen minutes.”

“You have ten.”

“Cool, I only needed five.” Laughing, he went to work.

Deacon led Fiddlestix away from the others, turning off his communicator. Figuring he wanted a chat between leaders, she did so as well.

“You’re a hell of a warrior, Hannah-Belle,” he whispered.

Taking her in his arms, he kissed her. Shocked at first, she pushed away from him, but he held her tightly. After a moment, she realized that she didn’t want to push away and clung to him almost desperately. Warming to his touch, she matched his intensity. Most men would have been intimidated and pulled away, but Deacon wasn’t like most men. Their kiss lasted less than two minutes, but left them both breathless.

“I really didn’t mean for that to happen,” Deacon backed shyly away a few steps.

“Me either,” she admitted awkwardly.

“It was damn good though,” he chuckled.

“Oh, yeah!”

“Hannah, when this is over….”

She put her hand on his lips, stopping him. “When this is over, Deacon, I’ll go back to work.”

“I understand,” he whispered. “But before you do….” He left the invitation unspoken.

“Yeah,” she agreed with a sharp nod. “You better.”

Jasper whistled to get his attention. Suddenly, she and Deacon were back to business.

“It’s done.”

Fiddlestix looked at the schematic. “He’s not here!” She frowned, looking even more carefully. “Am I missing him?”

Deacon and Jasper were looking just as intently. Harmony came up behind them, also gazing at the wall.

“He’s not here,” Fiddlestix grumbled. “He’s not here!”

“We’ll find him, Hannah.”

“He could be anywhere! Oh, God,” she turned wide eyes on Deacon. “The rest of the compound. He’s taken the others to try a frontal attack. This was just a diversion! Dammit!”

Deacon didn’t follow, so she explained. “Look. We found only three of his men. Where are the rest?”

Deacon, Jasper and Harmony gazed at the map that was zoomed in to show their immediate area.

“Where,” she said, unzooming the image. “The hell are the rest?”

Red blips showed up moving slowly around the outside of the compound. One group was headed to the east, the other to the west.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 12 by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-coverFiddlestix asks to see the cyber warriors on the video feed. Alarmed, she sees that they are getting updates from their controller. Insisting that she be taken to their location, she wonders why the area wasn’t better protected. Sadly, it was, and all the men are dead.

The cyber warrior was inside, working the consoles quickly. He paid no attention to them. Deacon aimed and fired at the creature’s head. His bullet ricocheted off the skull casing, narrowly missing Fiddlestix. The cyber soldier turned slowly, eyeing him with a bland expression. Smiling cruelly, it bared sharp, metallic teeth, advancing on Deacon slowly, haltingly. It was then that Fiddlestix noticed it was damaged. The dead men had not died without a fight. The creature could hardly move. His legs were damaged. Cyber-hydraulic fluid leaked from a half dozen wounds. A puddle had gathered underneath him.

With a flick of her thumb, Fiddlestix’ communicator went back on. “Kaz,” she spoke sharply. “Initiate Shut Down Code Three Three Alpha.”

There was no response. The warrior continued to advance. “Dammit! Kaz!” It was then she heard the gunfire outside.

The thump of a heavy shoulder mounted cyber cannon was distinctive. She heard screaming over her headpiece and knew the others were in trouble. A wet ripping sound filled her ears. Turning toward the sound, she felt sick.

“Master Sergeant!” It was Harmony. “Kaz is down.”

“Coming! Deacon!” She motioned for him to follow her.

The cyber soldier couldn’t maneuver easily. It slipped in its own fluid, moving at less than half its normal speed.

“He’ll keep. We need that computer!”

She slid to a halt at the corner, glancing around to see what lay beyond. One cyber warrior was down, obviously disabled. The other stood over Kaz’ limp form, firing on the rest of the group. Pocked with bullet holes, he kept fighting as if nothing troubled him.

Fiddlestix ran up to him while he was turned the other direction, distracted by one of Deacon’s men. Sliding the cyber blade out of her arm, she stabbed up and under the metal casing that surrounded his chest.

“Harmony, activate the code!”

Harmony held Kaz’ computer in both hands. He didn’t hesitate, but looked at her in surprise. “I’m not coded to it, Master Sergeant.”

“I lied,” she replied tersely.

The cyber warrior had drawn a bead on Deacon’s man, lowering his heavy shoulder thumper to fire. His movement slowed to a stop. He shut down, falling face first to the ground.

The warrior who had been following Deacon stumbled around the corner. He didn’t fire his weapons as he searched for the best target. Without being told, Harmony pointed the computer at him and pressed he initiation code. It didn’t work.

“Stix!” his voice caught as the warrior looked his way.

“Initiate Shut Down Code Three Two Delta.” Nothing happened.

“Shit! It’s being jammed.” Taking the scanner from Harmony’s limp fingers, she jumped over the downed warrior, landing nearly at the feet of the other one. He was bleeding out his cyber fluid slowly. She decided to see if she could speed it up. Her cyber blade slid neatly into his knee joint, severing the plastic artery. His left knee collapsed and he went down.

Fiddlestix tried the code again, but it did no good. This called for good old fashioned brute force. Raising her cyber arm, she hammered the face plate of the downed warrior. He tried to fight her, but by this time, half of Deacon’s force had him surrounded. All of them were armed with brutal knives, stabbing at unprotected areas of his body.

Deacon took up a heavy gun from one of the other cyber soldiers. With all his strength and body weight, he swung at the cyber man’s head, smashing the face plate with one brutal blow. Jasper fired at point blank range into the creature’s face, blowing its head off. With a cry like a wounded animal, it fell to the floor. Blood and blue cyber fluid flowed out of his body, pooling into dark, murky purple puddles.

“Fall back,” Fiddlestix bellowed.

Dragging Kaz and the other wounded with them, they regrouped in the computer room, barricading the door.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 11 by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-cover

Fiddlestix asks to see the cyber warriors on the video feed. Alarmed, she sees that they are getting updates from their controller. Insisting that she be taken to their location, she wonders why the area wasn’t better protection. Sadly, it was, and all the men are dead.

The cyber warrior was inside, working the consoles quickly. He paid no attention to them. Deacon aimed and fired at the creature’s head. His bullet ricocheted off the skull casing, narrowly missing Fiddlestix. The cyber soldier turned slowly, eyeing him with a bland expression. Smiling cruelly, it bared sharp, metallic teeth, advancing on Deacon slowly, haltingly. It was then that Fiddlestix noticed it was damaged. The dead men had not died without a fight. The creature could hardly move. Cyber-hydraulic fluid leaked from a half dozen wounds. A puddle had gathered underneath him.

With a flick of her thumb, Fiddlestix’ communicator went back on. “Kaz,” she spoke sharply. “Initiate Shut Down Code Three Three Alpha.”

There was no response. The warrior continued to advance. “Dammit! Kaz!” It was then she heard the gunfire outside.

The thump of a heavy shoulder mounted cyber cannon was distinctive. She heard screaming over her headpiece and knew the others were in trouble. A wet ripping sound filled her ears. Turning toward the sound, she felt sick.

“Master Sergeant!” It was Harmony. “Kaz is down.”

“Coming! Deacon!” She motioned for him to follow her.

The cyber soldier couldn’t maneuver easily. It slipped in its own fluid, moving at less than half its normal speed.

“He’ll keep. We need that computer!”

She slid to a halt at the corner, glancing around to see what lay beyond. One cyber warrior was down, obviously disabled. The other stood over Kaz’ limp form, firing on the rest of the group. Pocked with bullet holes, he kept fighting as if nothing troubled him.

Fiddlestix ran up to him while he was turned the other direction, distracted by one of Deacon’s men. Sliding the cyber blade out of her arm, she stabbed up and under the metal casing that surrounded his chest.

“Harmony, activate the code!”

Harmony held Kaz’ computer in both hands. He didn’t hesitate, but looked at her in surprise. “I’m not coded to it, Master Sergeant.”

“I lied,” she replied tersely.

The cyber warrior had drawn a bead on Deacon’s man, lowering his heavy shoulder thumper to fire. His movement slowed to a stop. He shut down, falling face first to the ground.

The warrior who had been following Deacon stumbled around the corner. He didn’t fire his weapons as he searched for the best target. Without being told, Harmony pointed the computer at him and pressed he initiation code. It didn’t work.

“Stix!” his voice caught as the warrior looked his way.

“Initiate Shut Down Code Three Two Delta.” Nothing happened.

“Shit! It’s being jammed.” Taking the scanner from Harmony’s limp fingers, she jumped over the downed warrior, landing nearly at the feet of the other one. He was bleeding out his cyber fluid slowly. She decided to see if she could speed it up. Her cyber blade slid neatly into his knee joint, severing the plastic artery. His left knee collapsed and he went down.

Fiddlestix tried the code again, but it did no good. This called for good old fashioned brute force. Raising her cyber arm, she hammered the face plate of the downed warrior. He tried to fight her, but by this time, half of Deacon’s force had him surrounded. All of them were armed with brutal knives, stabbing at unprotected areas of his body.

Deacon took up a heavy gun from one of the other cyber soldiers. With all his strength and body weight, he swung at the cyber man’s head, smashing the face plate with one brutal blow. Jasper fired at point blank range into the creature’s face, blowing its head off. With a cry like a wounded animal, it fell to the floor. Blood and blue cyber fluid flowed out of his body, pooling into dark, murky purple puddles.

“Fall back,” Fiddlestix bellowed.

Dragging Kaz and the other wounded with them, they regrouped in the computer room, barricading the door.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 11 by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-coverFiddlestix and Deacon have finally calmed down enough to talk professionally about their mutual problem with the cyber warriors. She asks him if they are under surveillance and he assures her, they are. They’re sitting quietly, with a blue light flashing on their necks.

“Oh, shit. Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Why, Hannah, what’s wrong?”

“They’re recharging, getting new orders. It’s a satellite uplink straight from the commander’s office. Take me there now.”

“Hannah, I….”

“Now, Deacon. I’m not kidding!” She rose, marching for the door.

He followed her, his long legs eating up the distance between them. Suddenly all business again, he said, “Follow me.”

“My man, Kazinski. We’ll need him.”

Deacon spoke into his communication set. “Deacon to Jasper. Find the man Kazinski. We need him. Hannah and I are on our way to the north gate. Meet us there.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jasper wasted no time explaining that Kaz wasn’t going to be happy being interrupted when he was in Betsy’s company. He knew Deacon wouldn’t care. They’d both been interrupted often enough when an emergency came up.

Deacon led Fiddlestix to a vehicle depot. Vaulting into a Jeep, he rammed it into gear and took off at top speed. He drove quickly to the north gate. Jasper, Kaz and Harmony pulled up only minutes behind them. To men in their position, uninterrupted sex was a luxury. Deacon dashed over to a small alcove off the main hallway. Inside there was a sophisticated surveillance set up. Striding to the screen, he zoomed in on the cyber soldiers. Something weird caught Fiddlestix’ eye as she watched the screen.

“It’s a loop,” she gasped. “They’ve circumvented your security system. They could be anywhere!” Knocking Deacon aside with her hip, she tapped some commands into the computer. The loop ended and they saw the hallway was empty.

“Damnation!” Deacon bellowed. “Find them.” He told his men. “Find them now.”

Jasper brought Kaz up moments later. Wasting no time, Fiddlestix held out her hand to him.

“Scanner.”

“I’ll find ’em for you, Master Sergeant.” He plugged into the console quickly.

Under Kaz’s magic touch, red blips appeared on his screen. The life signs of the cybered men appeared. Breathing slowly, trying to keep calm, Kaz held the scanner for her to see.

Fiddlestix went pale. Some of the men were coming down the branching hallways, not more than half a mile from their location.

Deacon blanched. “What now, Hannah-Belle?”

“Now we gear up and fight, Deacon.” Using hand signals, she directed her men to follow her.

Deacon removed the cyber damper from her arm and handed them weapons. He and his men armed themselves and followed. Fortunately, the Shine Clan used a system of signals close to their own. They were able to communicate without speaking. As they moved forward, Fiddlestix told Kaz to key in the fail safe codes for the warriors. He knew to initiate the codes when each soldier came in range. Fiddlestix hoped to take out Pete Livingston. He would be well guarded. The cyber teams took preservation of their handler very seriously.

Unwilling to let them come to her, Fiddlestix made her way down the corridor, seeking the nearest warrior. By the scanner, he looked to be in a side room. What the room was or why he was there, she didn’t know. Turning off her communicator, she indicated Deacon should do the same.

“What’s in that room?” She pointed to Kaz’ scanner.

Deacon sighed heavily. “It’s a computer sub station. From there they can tap into anything they want. Life support runs through there, power, water, blast doors. Everything.”

“Why was it left unguarded?”

“It wasn’t.” Deacon looked sad. “It was well protected.”

“We cry later,” she whispered, taking his hand firmly.

His eyes met hers with a grim determination. His mouth was set in a defiant line as he nodded. Together, they went quietly to the sub station room. Dead and dying littered the hall. Forcing himself not to look at them, Deacon led her to the doorway.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes, Uncategorized

Among the Shine Clan – Part 10 by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-coverAlthough Fiddlestix and Deacon had a confrontation, they know they must work together. She asks to speak to him privately, as leaders. Once he’s calmed down, he comes to get her. Much subdued, he invites her to go for a walk. She goes with him, leaving Kaz with Harmony, who soon leaves with Jasper to plan their next attack.

Kaz sat quietly at his table, suddenly at loose ends. Several of the Shine Clan women eyed him curiously. Used to the men of their clan, they found the outsider interesting. The most brazen approached him, sitting across the table from him.

“Howdy,” she said quietly. “My name’s Betsy. What’s yours?”

She made conversation very easy and following her to her quarters even more so. Kaz quite decidedly enjoyed Betsy’s style of Southern Hospitality.

Deacon Scott walked beside Fiddlestix, his arm barely touching hers. He’d said nothing since leaving the dining room five minutes earlier. He walked her to an isolated part of the underground bunker. The door opened and she found herself quite unexpectedly, outside. After examining the place, she realized they were still inside, but that the cavern had been landscaped and lit as if they were in the woods. There were birds and small animals making noises in the trees and bushes. A few deer grazed nearby. A gaggle of geese swam in the pond a few feet away. He showed her to a cast iron bench, sitting after she settled herself. Picking some grass, he fiddled with it for a moment, then cast it from him.

“It’s an illusion,” told her quietly. “The geese and deer, squirrels and all. But the plants and water are real. It gives us a place to come and relax.”

She nodded, gazing around her with longing. One didn’t see this kind of untouched beauty anymore. “It’s beautiful,” she sighed. “Even if it’s not real.”

For the first time since meeting him, he smiled. A distant expression filled his eyes. He hesitated, as if he wanted to say something, but didn’t know how. Instead of playing a game, he was genuinely at a loss of words.

Fiddlestix decided to break the silence surrounding them. “I think we got off on the wrong foot, General Scott.”

Deacon’s smile flashed again. “Still not used to that. My father was General Scott. I’m just plain old Deacon.”

“Hardly plain,” she blurted. Stopping suddenly, she blushed and looked away. Smooth, Hannah, she castigated herself. Really great. Let the man know you have the hots for him, why don’t you? Tip your hand early. Dumb ass!

“Why, Master Sergeant Braun, was that a compliment?”

“Maybe,” she teased, still not looking at him.

“I agree. We did. I guess I took those insults you hurled my way a little too personally.”

“I had to get your attention,” she said in her defense. “It was all I could think of, short of stripping myself naked and dangling from the trees by my tits.”

“That would have worked better,” he eyed her more like a man than a warrior. “I wouldn’t have been so pissed off then.”

“True. But would you have been able to concentrate?”

“What do you think?” He grinned, holding out his hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Deacon Scott, and you are?”

“Hannah Braun, also known as Fiddlestix.” She took his hand.

“Pleased to meet you, Hannah Braun.” He raised her hand to his lips, kissing it.

“And I you, Deacon Scott.”

Hardly able to stop himself, Deacon leaned forward to kiss her. She made him giddy. He wasn’t used to that. He was always in tight control, so much so that he never let his guard down. She’d gotten in under his guard, taken him totally by surprise, infiltrated his personal security, circumventing his defenses. The funny thing was, she hadn’t even tried. His lips brushed air as she moved out of his way, neatly avoiding his clumsy embrace. Suddenly embarrassed, he sat back, trying to pretend none of it had happened. Fortunately, she let him.

“So, tell me about our problem. Right now, things are quiet. That makes me suspicious.”

“Have you got them under surveillance?”

“Yes. They aren’t moving. They’re just sitting in one of the tunnels they took. There’s this little blue light flashing on their necks. They’ve been like that for the last hour, since y’all got here.”

“Oh, shit. Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-coverFiddlestix 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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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 8 by Dellani

among-the-shine-clan-coverNeither Fiddlestix, nor Deacon Scott, are happy with one another. They’ve decidedly gotten off on the wrong foot. Of course, the curses she hurled at him, in order to get his attention, might have something to do with it. Both realize they have to work together to capture the rogue cyber warriors, but it doesn’t mean they have to like it—or each other.

“I didn’t ask to be sent here, General Scott,” she turned back to Deacon. “But if I’d had my way, I’d have asked before I barged in. I would have brought no more than twenty people and we would have taken care of this nice and quiet. Unfortunately, I had no way to contact you.”

“Why do you think McLain sent you in like this then?” Deacon couldn’t keep the curiosity out of his voice.

“Slap in the face to you and a burning desire to see me cut down. He hates me. He’s a dumb ass and I’ve told him that more than once. I used to be Captain Hannah Braun. About six months ago, he busted me to Master Sergeant. Only because he couldn’t really take me any lower without raising a few eyebrows. There’s not a man or woman on my team who hasn’t had some sort of confrontation with him.”

“Except Lieutenant Frieze,” Harmony added quietly.

“Yeah, well, look where that sorry sack of shit’s hiding out,” Kaz added vehemently. “Doped up in the hospital. Coward.”

Fiddlestix grinned, her eyes twinkling. “Oh, Kaz, is that any way to talk about our superior officer?” She snorted derisively.

Harmony and Kaz joined her in a short, hearty laugh at Frieze’s expense.

“Superior, my ass….” Harmony chuckled.

One look at Deacon and the laughter stopped. His eyes were hard, like crystals. His face bland, dangerous.

“So, you’re telling me,” he said quietly. “You think this whole thing was McLain’s way of getting even with us and taking you and your people down? Is that it? That’s your brilliant theory as to why all this transpired? My father is dead because of this! My men are dying, my people terrified. I’ve got a society that’s falling apart around my ears and you think it’s for revenge?” He leaned over the table once more, banging both fists on it forcefully.

“Deacon,” Frank Lord spoke so softly, Fiddlestix barely heard him. “Sit down, son.”

Deacon’s glare turned to his uncle. He pointed angrily at the older man. “I’m not your son. Don’t be thinking because we’re kin that it gives you any kind of advantage here. I will see hell burn before I believe this is simply revenge.”

He headed for the door, his men in his wake. All but Frank Lord and Jasper followed him. Deacon hesitated at the door. Shrugging his shoulders, he tossed his long, blond hair aside. Jerking the door open, he nearly took it off its hinges. Without another word, he was gone. The silence settled in the room somewhat uncomfortably.

“Well, that was fun,” Jasper smirked.

“Not really.” Fiddlestix didn’t smile. “Jasper, I know I’m right about this. McLain isn’t a devious man, he’s not smart enough. To him, this makes sense. To me, it’s stupid as hell, but he would see it as the perfect way to get rid of a number of pesky problems.”

“I don’t disbelieve you, Hannah. Deacon believes you too, he just won’t admit it. He took our father’s death hard. It has registered with him that he’s the man in charge now and our daddy was a hard act to follow. He’s got big boots to fill. He can do it, if he’ll let himself. Can’t grieve and lead.” His eyes grew sorrowful and he stopped talking abruptly.

“What do you need from us?” Frank Lord asked her politely. “I want this over and done.”

“I have to get close. I’m serious when I say I have to have line of sight. I can’t do my job without help.”

“What if you gave us the codes, let us handle it?” Jasper asked.

It was more than just a question. It could be interpreted as a veiled threat. Fiddlestix chose to take it at face value.

“It’s voice coded as well as imprinted. The codes will work for me or Kaz. No one else has been coded to them. So if we both go down, you’re stuck with those guys until hell freezes.”

“F**k me,” Jasper whispered. His dark eyes sparkled and he smiled disarmingly. “You could, you know.” He left it at that.

Fiddlestix’ laugh popped out loudly. She’d heard some come-ons in her time, but that one was certainly unique. Were the circumstances different, she’d have gladly taken Jasper up on his invitation, but they had a job to do.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 7

among-the-shine-clan-coverFiddlestix has met the leader of the Shine Clan, General Deacon Scott, newly promoted after the death of his father. Though they don’t really trust one another, they have an uneasy truce. Fiddlestix says she’s been sent by General T. H. McLain. The name resonates with Deacon – and not in a good way.

“He used to be one of us,” Deacon sighed. “There was some trouble about twenty years ago between him and our father. He got tossed out on his ass.”

Fiddlestix took in this information without blinking. Her mind clicked into high gear. All sorts of new, unpleasant possible scenarios popped into her head. As she sorted through them, she listened to what Deacon Scott had to say.

“This makes your story somewhat less plausible, Miss Braun.”

Fiddlestix pursed her lips, relaxing her pose. “I’d say it has pretty much the opposite effect, Mr. Scott.” If he was going to leave off her hard earned rank, she’d do the same. “Sounds to me like we just validated everything. McLain’s a snake. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d done this on purpose.”

“With what motivation, Miss Braun?” Deacon rose, leaning across the table.

“Well, Mr. Scott,” she stood up, looking small and vulnerable in comparison. “I can think of half a dozen different reasons. You look like a relatively intelligent man. I bet if a little, bitty girl like me can think of that many, a big, strapping man like you could come up with a least—four.” She hid a smirk, but it was in her voice, the tilt of her head, the angle of her shoulders. She was laughing at him.

Deacon wanted to throw something. He fought the urge to roar, punch the wall or toss his chair across the table at her. He heard Jasper snicker, trying hard to make it sound like a sneeze. At least three of his men were also finding humor in this confrontation. If it hadn’t pissed him off so damn much, he’d have been laughing too.

Fiddlestix’ men looked terrified. They saw an enormous, angry man looming across a narrow, flimsy table in a room deep underground with no sure way out. What was Sarge doing? Why was she baiting him like that? Shouldn’t she be negotiating? Playing nice? Maybe doing whatever a woman did to a man to make him more compliant? So far, she’d done everything except shoot him. If it was possible to verbally castrate a man, she was working on it. Kaz, who was a short, wiry built man, swallowed with difficulty, his hands shaking. Harmony, who wasn’t used to feeling small, was. They didn’t dare speak. Neither man wanted to draw attention to himself.

“Suppose you share one of your theories with us.” An older man with graying hair leaned over, striking a pose much like Jasper’s.

Fiddlestix’ eyes flickered over to him. She liked what she saw. He was slightly shorter than Jasper, lean built, but strong. His green eyes glimmered with humor, his lips twitched with suppressed humor.

“Yes, sir,” she sat smoothly, crossing her legs elegantly. Despite her combat gear, she comported herself like a lady.

“No need to sir me, Master Sergeant. We’re the same rank. Master Sergeant Frank Lord.” He nodded at Jasper and Deacon. “Their uncle. I was by their father’s side when some of those wild men cut him down.”

She saw now that he carried himself carefully, as if nursing a wound. There was a tightness around his lips that spoke of great pain. He’d been wounded, rather severely, but he’d never in a million years show weakness in front of her.

“Yes, Master Sergeant Lord. I’d be happy to. Provided General Scott doesn’t object.”

Frank Lord glanced at his nephew. “He don’t mind. He’s just a dumb hillbilly who can’t control his temper.” He nodded sharply at Deacon to sit. Fiddlestix suppressed a smile as Deacon sat without argument.

“If General McLain is who we think,” she continued. “Then none of this should surprise us. In fact, it fills in a lot of gaps in his narrative. I think it’s a good possibility that he sent them here to attack you. If they can get a toehold, they can wipe the whole lot of you out. There’s very little defense against these guys.”

“Why would he want to do that, Master Sergeant?” Lord asked quietly.

“Like I said, he’s a snake and a dumb son-of-a-bitch. He carries a grudge and he’s now in a position to do something about it. Even if they don’t take you all out, you’re weakened and vulnerable. Then he sends me in with my people, without asking, and that would, in my opinion, constitute a warlike act. I don’t take kindly to well armed interlopers on my turf. I don’t suppose you do either.”

Jasper’s eyes twinkled, but he didn’t speak. Frank Lord smiled gently, his eyes softening. “No, I don’t suppose we do.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan, Dellani Oakes

Among the Shine Clan – Part 6

among-the-shine-clan-coverFiddlestix, Kaz and Harmony agree to accompany General Scott and his men inside their fortress under the mountain. Part of the agreement includes them disarming, as well as neutralizing any cyber weapons. It’s not ideal, but they really have no other choice.

No one said anything until they were deep underground in a conference room. Deacon, Jasper and ten of their men took up one end of the table. Fiddlestix and her two men sat at the other. She waited for Deacon Scott to speak, but he just stared at her. Good at playing mind games herself, she stared back, letting her eyes travel over his body without expression. She lingered on his massive chest, her gaze drifting down to the tabletop, though one got the impression that wasn’t what she was looking at.

She didn’t appear to be impressed, but her mind was dancing around, singing a song of great appreciation. Deacon Scott exuded sexual virility. Like a scent, it surrounded her, burrowing deep inside. Never in her life had she been so attracted to a man. It really irritated her, because he was one of the most arrogant, annoying, hard edged, coldhearted men it had ever been her bad luck to encounter. He was a walking, talking contradiction from whom she got mixed signals. Priding herself on her ability to size up an adversary, she couldn’t get a handle on General Scott. She quit trying, waiting for him to speak. He seemed bent on the same thing. It was a silent standoff.

Fidgeting nervously, Jasper Scott nudged his brother. He didn’t play the silent game like Deacon did. It wasn’t that he couldn’t, he just thought it was a waste of time. He wanted answers as much as his brother, but he was willing to go about it differently. Given the need, Jasper could extract information from even the most reticent. Clearing his throat, he nudged his brother again. Deacon broke eye contact with Fiddlestix long enough to glare at his brother.

He didn’t say a word, but his eyes asked a question, “What?”

Jasper raised an eyebrow asking a question of his own. Deacon blinked, cutting his eyes at the three at the end of the table as if giving permission. Jasper leaned forward, laying his forearms and palms on the table in front of him. His dark hair flowed around him like molten chocolate. He too wore a thin, red tied braid.

“Miss Braun,” he started.

“Master Sergeant,” Kaz corrected automatically. Reddening, his lips snapped shut and he deemed it wise not to talk again.

“Beg pardon, ma’am. Master Sergeant. I’m sure you can understand our hesitation in accepting what you say.”

Fiddlestix nodded. “But you’ve had trouble at your north gate. I’d say, if it’s a well populated area, you’ve lost close to fifty people since they broke through. Probably took them roughly twenty-five hours to get in, now you can’t get them out. Am I close?”

The brothers exchanged a look that she couldn’t interpret. Deacon nodded ever so slightly.

“Twenty-four and a half to be precise,” Jasper said quietly. “Upwards of forty people. Mostly soldiers but a few civilians too.”

“Look….” She sighed heavily, running her fingers through her short blond hair. “I didn’t want to come in like this. I asked my commanding officer, General McLain, to contact you. He knew about your father, he knew this location.”

“How would he know that?” Jasper was incredulous.

“He didn’t share that with me, Jasper.”

She had no idea what his rank was. The Shine Clan wore identical uniforms but no insignia.

“General McLain?” Deacon frowned deeply. “Thomas McLain?”

Fiddlestix thought for a moment. Did she know the general’s first name. She visualized the nameplate on his desk. General T. H. McLain.

“Could be. I don’t know the general that well,” she smirked. “Not like the old man and I are on a first name basis. His initials are T.H.”

For the first time, Deacon’s eyes twinkled. His face remained stony, but there was a glimmer of something in his eyes.

“If it’s Thomas McLain, it would explain a lot. Short guy, bad attitude, sort of exudes this aura of….” He hesitated for a word that wouldn’t offend a lady.

“Abject stupidity?” She nodded. “That’s our general. Dumbest son-of-a-bitch I ever met.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Among the Shine Clan

Among the Shine Clan – Part 5

among-the-shine-clan-coverAfter her people disappear, Fiddlestix is left with only Kaz and Harmony. Convinced that the Shine Clan are monitoring them, she hurls insults at thin air, until her men think she’s insane. Out of the woods, a group of huge men appear—not the least of whom is General Deacon Scott, leader of the of the Shine Clan. He’s not happy with her.

“Yes. Is there somewhere else we could talk? More private?”

“Anything you have to say to me, Master Sergeant, you can say in front of my men. You folks may keep secrets from your subordinates, but that’s not Shine Clan way.”

“The men who attacked you are AWOL, General Scott. Their handler, Pete Livingston, decided to walk out with his cyber unit.”

“Anyone know why a man would do a fool thing like that?” This from the dark man to General Scott’s left.

“No one shared that information with me,” Fiddlestix said. “That being the U.S. Army’s way.”

“Jasper, get the lady a stool. I think we’re gonna be here awhile.”

“Yes, Deacon.” He didn’t salute, but he treated the other man with deference.

Returning a moment later, he carried two camp stools. He set one behind Fiddlestix, carelessly brushing the back of her leg as he set it up. She had no doubt he’d done it on purpose, but she didn’t mind. Under different circumstances, she’d have encouraged him. Instead, she sat down and waited for General Scott to speak again. He sat slowly, warily.

“So, for reasons unknown, old Pete decides to go walkies with a bunch of cyber crazies? Has he gone addlepated in the brainpan?”

“Truthfully, General Scott, I don’t know. As you say, we do keep secrets. My general didn’t share that tidbit with me. McLain is playing this one close. I know very little about the circumstances of their leaving.”

“And yet you’re here to help? I fail to see how three people can help me and us at all.”

“I had a few more when I started.”

He didn’t respond.

“I know how to turn them off.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so? Do it, be my guest. Turn the bastards off and let us bury our dead.”

“It’s not that simple. I have to have line of sight with them. It’s a security measure. The receiver is very low range and the mountains drop it to just about nil.”

Deacon Scott’s eyes scanned Fiddlestix from the top of her spiky blonde hair to the toes of her combat boots. He allowed himself to be momentarily distracted by some parts in between. Despite the fact that she was an Army officer, she was all woman. Her tempestuous gray eyes met his confidently. The tilt of her chin and set of her jaw were defiant, challenging him to give her an excuse to kiss him…. He meant kill him. Yes, that was it.

He didn’t let himself linger over her firm breasts and taut thighs, focusing instead on the incredibly powerful cyber arm that marred the outline of her body with a harsh, metallic reminder that she was a deadly and capable warrior first and a beautiful woman second.

“Well,” he said softly. “Supposing I allow you into our territory, what can you offer besides you three and the codes? I don’t see how you’re in any way useful to me.”

“I had a squad of forty-four when I hit these woods, but I expect you know that already.” Her full, pink lips snapped shut.

Deacon nodded slowly, assessing the situation more closely. She was pissed about her people. He couldn’t say he blamed her, but she couldn’t fault him for protecting his home.

“That you did,” he conceded. “So?”

“So? I’d like them back, General Scott. We didn’t come here to cause trouble.”

“Deacon,” Jasper touched his shoulder hesitantly. “We should probably go inside. It doesn’t feel safe out here.”

Deacon’s eyes flickered over to his brother, taking in the concern. Jasper might be several years younger, but he’d be hard pressed to find a better soldier or a more cautious one. Knowing that Jasper’s wariness bordered on telepathic, he nodded slightly. Jasper motioned to the men who surrounded Fiddlestix and her companions, disarming them.

She, Kaz and Harmony allowed themselves to be escorted into the Shine Clan stronghold without protest. Even Fiddlestix said nothing when a man virtually twice her size and circumference attached a miniaturized cyber damper to her arm so she couldn’t activate her weaponry.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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