Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

This is a spin-off of my sci-fi series, "The Lone Wolf" coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. I took two of the main characters and expanded upon their backgrounds and how they were interconnected.

Wil VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf, is a mercenary, assassin, ex-Marine who was genetically enhanced at the age of 26. Since then, he hasn't aged a day. Matilda DuLac is the eldest daughter of Wil's closest friend. Though he's much older, Wil finds himself falling in love with the beautiful, self-confident teenager.
For part 2: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/

Tortured winds ripped through the mining camp which clung to the inhospitable cliffs and crags of Saltulle. Synonymous with Purgatory in miner’s vocabulary, Saltulle excelled in two things: providing the Mining Guild with ores and gems unavailable almost anywhere else and turning out the most experienced miners in the galaxy.

The hurricane force winds drove the blinding rain in horizontal sheets, stinging exposed skin. At times, the rain turned to sleet which could sheer flesh from bone. Scorching sun, torrential rain and gales were on the surface, the real fun started underground. There dwelt the beasts of the dark.

The beasts were subterranean cave dwellers who long ago had been driven to deep cover by Saltulle’s foul weather and solar flares. Their shaggy coats were a mottled calico of burnt orange, dirty brown and rusty red. Their teeth were nearly nine inches long, with claws of equal length and lethality. Their disposition matched their environment.

Those who encountered these formidable creatures rarely lived to tell about it. The beasts could see in the dark, and track miners through solid rock. Lightning swift attacks made them nearly impossible to kill. The miners had set traps for awhile, only to find them decimated when they checked them. Often as not, they were ambushed by the beasts for they were diabolically clever animals.

It was here that Edmund DuLac and his wife, Mary, had lived for nearly eighteen years. All three of their daughters were born on Saltulle. Matilda was fifteen, Brigette twelve and Amie eight.

Ed went through his morning routine automatically, fixing coffee and waking the girls. Mary hated rising early, but Ed’s day began at 0500 each day. He usually had to drag Matilda up too, but the other girls were early risers like their father. Ed made breakfast while Brigette made lunches for three girls and one miner, who could eat as much as all of them combined. Today was special though. The atmosphere of the small, sturdy house was charged with anticipation. Even Mary and Matilda were up for it was Matilda’s first day of work. Ed had pulled a few strings and gotten her hired as a log runner. Her training was over, now she was a full fledged Miner One, lowest rank in the Galactic Mining Guild.

Log running was a relatively safe job for a teenager, for it merely involved going from one base camp to the next and logging their hourly dig rate. This job was done by comunit most places, but Saltulle’s environment made communication virtually impossible. Special underground lines were in place for extreme emergencies such as a collapsed face or beast attack, but nothing short of life threatening condoned their use.

Matilda felt awkward in her uniform, which consisted of a khaki colored, ill fitting jump suit; heavy, steel tipped boots, safety goggles, hard hat and gloves. The gloves were more like chain mail gauntlets, articulated across the knuckles and reinforced with strips of tanned beast hide. Stronger and more durable than faux leather, they protected the miners’ hands better than metal alone.

Ed gazed at his tall, athletic daughter and grinned approvingly. Her sisters giggled at her and her mother smiled supportively. Matilda tried to smile, but her nervousness prevented it.

“My baby girl, a miner like her old man. I can’t tell you how proud I am, Tilda.” Her father clapped her on the shoulder as he would have a son. “Following in her daddy’s footsteps.” He chuckled.

Breakfast was cleared away and the two younger girls left for school, still giggling. Matilda took her lunch in its insulated thermal box and followed her father to work. She had to check in with the supervisor before starting to work.

The mining supervisor was a man who had known her father over twenty years and Matilda her entire life. His name was Ivan MacHale, but the girls always called him Uncle Mac. Today, her father had warned her repeatedly to call him Supervisor MacHale and not to slip if she knew what was good for her.

Knees shaking, hat and goggles in her hand, she was given her first assignment. Her lunch and portable computer logs packed securely in a heavy floater cycle, she followed a flashing yellow arrow on her console to Mine Base One, about twenty clix away.

The floater cycle handled like a lumbering elephant, but remained stable in all but the most severe weather. Each cycle was equipped with state of the art weather gear so she should have plenty of advance warning before a storm hit.

She was about two clix from Mine Base One when her spine tingled unpleasantly. The hair on her neck rose and her nerves jangled, making her very alert. Curious, she checked her weather report, but saw nothing unusual. It was a calm, clear day on Saltulle.

Absently, she noted her relative position on her map and continued to Mine Base One.

Part 2 is at: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Check it out!

There is a contest at Bitten by Books and an interview with a gorgeous cover model. Check it out! http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=11150

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Among the Shine Clan - Part 11

They made love so many times, they lost count. Each time was different and better. They experimented, discovering everything they could about one another. They knew their time together was short and they were determined to use it to the fullest. Finally, exhausted, they fell asleep, not waking until noon the next day.

Jasper was pounding on Deacon's door. Despite the privacy light, he was determined to wake his brother. Deacon answered naked and angry.

"What?"

"Have you forgotten that you're expected somewhere in half an hour?"

"Shit!" Deacon grabbed a clean uniform out of the closet.

Flinging on his clothing, he realized Fiddlestix had nothing to wear but her filthy uniform. His clothes were miles too big. He tossed a robe at her, telling her to be patient.

"I'll find you something. Betsy and you are about the same size." He went down the hall and banged on Betsy's door.

After a short explanation, a sharp slap and a brief apology, he got her some clothing.

"Next time you visit, I promise to have clothes in your size for you to wear," he smiled as he watched her dress.

"You know, I didn't like you much when we first met," Fiddlestix told him. "But damn if you didn't grow on me."

"Kind of like a fungus?" He winked. "You should marry me, Hannah-Belle. I'd make you mighty happy."

"That's just the sex talking, Deacon. You don't want me. I'm a soldier, not a wife."

"I don't want just a wife, Hannah. I want someone who will stand beside me and help me lead, like my mama and grand-mama before her. Our women don't take second place, they're equal to their mates. Think about it, Hannah. The offer's open."

"Thanks, Deacon. I will."

"I'm serious," he told her, taking her hands in his. "I've never met a woman I wanted more than you. Stay with me, Hannah. Forget the Army. Stay here with me." His kiss was compelling, inviting her to forget everything else.

"I can't," she whispered. "This is who I am, Deacon."

"But you could be so much more."

Dropping the subject because he could see it made her uncomfortable, he led her to the main gathering area. It was a huge auditorium lined with benches, set up like an amphitheater. They walked to the base of the steps. Deacon held out his arm to her, walking beside her up the stairs. Her soldiers were already gathered on the huge stage, Harmony and Kaz in the forefront. Deacon escorted her to the front of the line and walked to the center of the stage.

Holding up his hands, he signaled for quiet. The chatting and whispering stopped and almost complete silence fell. Fiddlestix was impressed. She had never seen a quieter, more orderly crowd.

"We are gathered here today to honor those who came to our aid. Let us rejoice that our home is once more safe and secure!"

Wild cheering filled the room, echoing off the metal lined walls. Deacon let it continue a few moments, then held up his hands once more. Silence fell again.

"For bravery in combat and continuing to fight even though he was sorely wounded, The Fire Star goes to Corporal Walter Kazinski of the North American Army."

Kaz limped forward, one arm in a sling. His bruised face was wreathed in a happy grin. Betsy stood by his side, supporting him. Deacon put the medal around his neck. It hung from a red and gold ribbon. They exchanged a complicated handshake and Kaz stood to one side.

"From now on, Walter Kazinski also holds the rank of Guard Sargent in the Shine Clan Militia."

Fiddlestix knew that Guard Sargent was equivalent to her rank and was more than just an honorary position. If Kaz ever returned to live with the Shine Clan, his orders would be honored
and followed like any other officer's.

"For bravery in the face of the enemy and his assistance in shutting down the enemy soldiers, The Silver Star goes to Private Steven Harmony."

Harmony strutted forward and was given his medal on a blue and silver ribbon. He took his place beside Kaz.

"Private Harmony now holds the rank of Lance Corporal in the Shine Clan Militia.

"Finally, for bravery, courage under fire, tenacity, and ingenuity, the Shine Clan Golden Star goes to Gunnery Sargent Hannah Braun."

Wild cheers exploded around the auditorium as the gold and white ribbon slid over her head. The Shine Clan members were only marginally louder than Fiddlestix' own soldiers. Even when Deacon held his hands up for silence, it was several minutes before quiet descended again. When everyone finally settled down, Deacon continued.

"As an additional honor, Hannah has been awarded a captaincy in the Shine Clan Militia. Also, the Clan adopts her as one of its own. From now on, Hannah, you are a member of our family, second to none."

He extended his hand. When she took it, he drew her to him and kissed her passionately in front of the entire assembly. He held her close, whispering in her ear.

"One day, Hannah, you'll stand here as my wife."

Fiddlestix didn't know what to say. She was stunned by her reception by this clannish, secluded people. They treated her like family, called her friend, and extended the warmth and comfort of their hearts and home to her. Even among her own people, she had never been so well accepted. Tears threatened to fall. To hide them, she took Deacon's head in her hands, bringing his mouth down to hers once more. They kissed hungrily as the crowd went crazy.

Someone in the audience started yelling, "Speech! Speech!" Everyone took up the chant. There was nothing for it, she would have to say something. Deacon led her to the center of the
stage and the crowd grew quiet before being asked.

"I'm not good at giving speeches," Fiddlestix grinned rather nervously. "But I do want to thank you all for your kindness and generosity, as well as your bravery and sacrifice. Everyone here lost someone they care about. Therefore, I honor your dead by swearing to you that I will always do my best, no matter what, to protect the Shine Clan. You are my family now. Thank you!"

She stepped back by Deacon, trying to lose herself behind his massive body. He took her hand, leading her forward once more. To loud, joyous applause, he took a bow, encouraging her to bow as well. Blushing furiously, she backed up to hide in the ranks of her soldiers. They parted enough to let her into the front row, but refused to let her go any further. They were proud of her too and they thought she deserved all the praise she was getting.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Among the Shine Clan - Part 8

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.

He took her in his arms and 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. She clung to him almost desperately. Warming to his touch, she matched his intensity. Most men would have been intimidated and pulled away. Deacon held her gently, but securely. 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.

"We have to get back there now," Fiddlestix gasped.

"They're on foot,"Deacon assured her. "We'll get there first. Don't worry."

"What about this lot?" Jasper motioned to the downed warriors.

"They're not going anywhere," Deacon assured him.

"Kill them," Fiddlestix warned him.

"You're supposed to bring them back, aren't you?" Harmony asked her.

"The parameters of the mission just changed," Fiddlestix said. "Take them out, Harm."

"Yes, Gunnery Sargent." He chambered a round on his heavy weapon.

Standing a safe distance from the shut down warrior, he emptied his magazine into the control panel at the base of the skull. Reloading, he moved to the other, doing the same thing.

"Is that satisfactory, Gunny?"

"That'll do," she grinned. "Let's move out, people!"

They left the wounded in the hands of the medical personnel, Kaz among them. Fiddlestix didn't stop to see how he was. She hoped he would still be alive when she got back. There was no time to worry over him now. Others needed her more.

Loading up the Jeeps took a couple of minutes, but they made up for it in transportation time. On the way, Deacon contacted the commanding officers at the other three gates, warning them what was coming.

"We want the handler," Fiddlestix told them. "Take him out, the rest will be relatively easy."

"I don't think I like how you qualify that statement, Hannah-Belle,” Deacon smirked.

"Nothing's ever easy," she grimaced. "But if we take out Livingston, it will be less difficult. Still have to tag them within a line of sight."

"True." He leaned back, putting his arm around her as Jasper drove.

"Which way, Deacon?” Jasper demanded “East or west?"

"Did we get a visual of Livingston on the scan?"

"No, sir."

"Find me a screen, littler brother."

"You got it!"

He turned right without slowing down much. Pulling up in front of a room, he left the Jeep running while Deacon and Fiddlestix jumped from the vehicle. Dashing into the room, they accessed the scanner again. Livingston didn't show up on any of the scans.

"He must be somewhere out of range," Deacon muttered, glaring at the screen as if it had done him an injury.

"Is there anywhere he could hide that's shielded? Could he be inside, but hidden?"

"Oh, God," Deacon groaned. "The cloak room."

"You've got a room for coats?"

"No, no the cloaking device. The thing that made your people disappear. That area is shielded because it has an independent power source that makes our other instruments go all wonky otherwise."

"Where's it located?"

"Shine Peak. About a quarter mile straight up."

"Can we get there from here?"

"You good at mountain climbing?"

"Tell me there's an elevator."

"There is, but if he's up there, do you really want to trust it?"

"Good point."

"Jasper," they hopped back in the Jeep. "Take us to the fire station."

"You got it, Deacon."

He swung them around in a tight arc, heading back the way they'd come.

"Saunders, it's Deacon." He spoke into his communicator.

"Go ahead."

"Have me a two man flitter set up. I'll be there in less than five."

"Yes, sir."

No questions, just instant response. No one knew what he was planning, but they didn't second guess his orders. Fiddlestix had to admire that about him as well as his people.

"We'll fly in," he told her. "Can you handle a two man flitter, Gunny?"

"Rating ten, General."

"Great. I'm only an eight. You fly."

"As the general wishes," she winked.

For Part 7: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/
For Part 9: http://www.myspace.com/dellanioakes

New from Dellani Oakes - So Much It Hurts

Coming November 1, 2017 from Tirgearr Publishing – So Much It Hurts! This delightful romance is set in a big city somewhere up north. I'...