Tag Archive | Fiddlestix

Fiddlestix – Conclusion

The time has come for truth and confrontation. Who will win?

“You can come out now, Don!” Scarlet’s voice sounded like artificial sweetener in Fiddlestix’ ears.

Varin came back in from the garage, surrounded by his bodyguards. Deacon was behind him with Stumpy and Loki, their hands behind their heads.

“Well, Scarlet,” Don Varin didn’t sound very happy to see his wife. “So the wheel comes full circle.”

“Save it for someone who gives a shit, Don. I came back for what’s mine. Jesus, can’t you even die properly? I thought I got all the clones.”

Don Varin smiled gently, taking another step toward her, his hands in the pockets of his suit coat. ” This isn’t a clone. The doctors figured out how to cure me.”

Scarlet’s mouth twisted into and ugly, contorted caricature of a smile. “Really? What a pity.”

“You can’t get out. You’d be dead before you left.”

“You underestimate me, Don. But then you always have, sweetheart.” She smiled her saccharin coated smile again.

“So it wasn’t Don’s decision to build substandard housing?” Fiddlestix could see the story coming clear now.

“Don wouldn’t have had the balls to do that.”

Scarlet was too busy gloating, she didn’t notice the slight movement of Fiddlestix’ body as she turned to aim her wrist mounted gun. Praying the damper was disabled, she held her breath and concentrated on her wrist mount. Her long, full sleeves concealed the weapon as it slid silently out of her forearm. All she had to do was concentrate on her target, the weapon did the rest.

Scarlet didn’t make a sound as she fell. A look of surprise on her face, a gasp as the slug hit her chest and it was over. Scarlet’s body slumped in a heap.

Don Varin’s mouth dropped open and he gaped at the growing red stain on his shirt just below his heart. Scarlet’s weapon had found its mark even as she died. Fiddlestix watched him die with a blank expression.

Deacon and Loki, using the distraction, disarmed the bodyguards nearest them.

“Get Tully back to the boat,” Fiddlestix ordered. She turned to the bodyguards. “Call off your dogs. We have no argument with you. Cooperate, and everybody lives.”

“Attention,” one spoke into his headset. “Stand down.” He didn’t bother to explain. His men didn’t need it.

“Thanks,” Fiddlestix’ smile wasn’t as friendly, but it was full of appreciation. “We need to get our friend some medical attention.”

“He’ll be okay,” the bodyguard said. “I hit him with a tranquilizer slug. He’ll wake up with a hell of a buzz. Mr. Varin didn’t want nobody hurt but her,” he pointed at Scarlet.

Loki picked up Tully, slinging him casually over one broad shoulder. They walked quickly back to the boat.

“I’m confused,” Stumpy said grumpily. “Who really was the bad guy?”

“Both of them,” Fiddlestix replied absently. “Don was pulling shit over on her and the same time, Scarlet was working him.”

“So,” Stumpy continued. “What happened in there?”

“Justice,” Deacon said quietly.

Fiddlestix didn’t want to talk. Instead, she went on deck, glad to feel the wind and salt spray in her face. Deacon came over, standing beside her with his arm around her waist.

“I thought I’d lost you,” she whispered. “When I saw Tully go down, I panicked. Did Varin fall for our setup at all?”

“At first, yes, but then he took my prints off the arm of the chair, ran them through a very sophisticated search and blew my cover to hell.”

“Why didn’t he kill you?”

“He only wanted Scarlet.”

“I feel terrible that I got you into this mess.”

“But if you hadn’t, think what Varin would have done to the Harlichs. You did the best thing, Hannah.”

He put his arms around her, holding her close. For the first time in her life, Hannah Braun looked at the horizon and didn’t see an end, but a beginning. She cuddled next to Deacon and smiled.

The End

Fiddlestix Part 32

It’s getting near the finish and things are about to get crazy! Can Fiddlestix protect her friends or is it all going to explode in her face?

“What kind of hardware do they have over there, Buzzard?” Fiddlestix went into command mode immediately.

Buzzard did a scan of the compound, whistling low and long. He pointed to a line of heavy artillery that lined the roof.

“Gear up,” Fiddlestix prepared to storm the compound. She donned a bullet proof vest as Scarlet entered the cabin.

“What are you planning?” It wasn’t so much a question as a
demand to know.

“Deacon’s safety is my responsibility.”

“If you go running in there with guns blazing, you’ll blow the whole deal.”

Fiddlestix checked her weapon and chambered a round. “I’m willing to risk it to keep Deacon safe.”

She and the others gathered around the monitor. It was a quiet standoff that could go down hard any second.

“Don, I’m sensing something’s changed around here. Mind filling me in?”

“Changed? Not at all.”

“Shall we get going? I’m anxious to see the property so we can get the ball rolling.”

Deacon started to rise, but the nearest bodyguard clamped a hand down on his shoulder, pushing him gently but firmly back into the chair.

“Not until you tell me what you really want, General Scott.”

Deacon frowned. “I beg your pardon? Did you call me Scott? Don, what the hell goes on?”

“Enough pretense! You’re not Preston Keith! Your name is Deacon Scott and you’re no more a business man than I am a hired gun.”

Loki tried to fire, only to find his cyber ware didn’t work. There must be a cyber-damper in effect. The bodyguard nearest Tully drew and fired at him before the skinny man had a chance to react. Tully fell, clutching his chest.

“NO!” Fiddlestix screamed as all hell broke loose. “We’re going in! Take out that damper!”

Buzzard and Blacksmith flanked her with Deacon’s men directly behind them. Scarlet brought up the rear, gun ready.

Heedless of resistance, Fiddlestix ran recklessly to the backdoor of Varin’s house. It was open, saving her the trouble of breaking it. Holding up her fist, she made the men halt outside. No one was in the room except Tully’s limp form.

“Where did they go?”

“To the garage,” someone told her from the boat. “Be careful. It could be a trap.”

“Ya think?” She wished she could talk to Deacon and the others.

“Get Tully out of here,” Fiddlestix told the medic.

“I don’t think so,” Scarlet said, her gun leveled at the young corpsman as he rose with Tully on his shoulders.

The kid froze, eyes riveted on her weapon that was leveled at his forehead. He set Tully down slowly, raising his hands.

Fiddlestix – Part 31

Things are getting pretty tricky. The situation is escalating rapidly. It’s up to Deacon and Fiddlestix to contain it before someone gets killed.

Around 2:00 in the morning the perimeter alarm sounded. Search lights lit the compound, tacking back and forth slowly. There was a large armored vehicle at the gate.

“I’m not about to let that in,” Karl told them. “I want a team all over it like flies on shit.”

Dirk and his team tested the vehicle with everything they owned.

“Either the bugger’s not rigged or it’s so cleverly concealed we can’t see it,” Dirk told them after their search was complete.

“Leave it outside,” Karl told them. “It’s not an accident that it’s here.”

A feeling of disquietude was creeping up Fiddlestix’ spine making her shiver. “We’ve got to get it out of here!”

“What’s wrong?” Deacon was worried, he’d never seen her so afraid.

“It’s evil, Deacon! We have to get it out of here!”

“Should I tell Tully to blow it up?”

“NO! We have to take it away.”

They chained the Hummer to the rear of the car and towed it away from the compound. Loki took the car to the abandoned quarters of the Château Noir and ran like hell back to the Harlich compound. Hearing an ominous sound behind him, he turned and saw the woods alight with a sick blue glow.

Putting on a turn of speed, he ran as quickly as he could back to the Harlich compound. Thankful for two cyber legs, he leaped over the fence without waiting for them to open it. The light was visible above the trees.

Loki’s eyes were wide with horror. “What is that thing?”

“Sweet Jesus,” Tully gasped. “Where the bloody hell would he get one of them?”

“What?”

“It’s a sanitizer!” Tully whispered, horror stricken.

“A what?” Loki was scared and that made him angry.

“It’s a bloody bomb, in’t it? That kills every living thing in its radius and then dissipates. Course the building’s left, a’ight? But the people are gone in a flash.” He snapped his fingers under Loki’s nose.

“We’re awfully goddam lucky you played that hunch, Hannah,” Karl said quietly.

“What do you think Varin will do now that he thinks we’re dead?” Blacksmith put into words what they were all thinking.

“I think he’ll be giving Preston a call in the morning,” Deacon said calmly. “Telling him that the owner’s reconsidered and taken him up on his latest offer.”

The call from Donnan Varin came around 9:30. Deacon did his best acting job ever, sounding pleased that Don had given him such good news. Fiddlestix could see the tightness at the corners of his mouth.

“That was by far the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had in my life,” he admitted sadly.

“It’ll be okay, Deacon. We’ll win this,” Fiddlestix assured him.

Fiddlestix and Deacon went upstairs dressing quickly and met the others on the boat. An aura of disquietude fell over them as they headed up the coast to Donnan Varin’s house. Varin didn’t come to the dock this time, but had sent a small contingent to greet them.

Varin met them at the door, inviting them in with an insincere smile. “Preston! Good of you to come by! Please, come in.”

“So, Don, did your deal go through as planned?”

“Couldn’t be better,” Varin told him with a grin. “The fellow who owns the land turned very cooperative when I upped the ante.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes.

Scarlet Varin gazed at the computer screen, watching Don. “He knows something,” she said flatly.

“You think Deacon’s cover is blown?” Fiddlestix was starting to worry.

“I think it’s very possible.”

Fiddlestix – Part 30

Having set up a good persona, Deacon and the others decide to try to beat Donnan Varin at his own game. They set about conning the con artist.

“Your friends are welcome to have a seat,” Varin said with false good humor.

“Thank you, they don’t sit, Mr. Varin. I don’t think the boys’ knees bend.” He chuckled, smiling in his most disarming way. “Say, let’s stop all this formal stuff. I’d be proud if you’d call me Pres. May I call you Don?”

“Certainly!” Varin’s smile was forced and he kept looking at the three bodyguards. “May I offer you some refreshment? I’ve got a fine selection.”

“Thanks, no, Don. I’m not a drinking man.” He smiled as
Don was served a drink and leaned back in his uncomfortable chair.

“Mr. Keith,” Varin began.

Deacon held up a well manicured hand, his gold and diamond pinky ring glittering richly in the light. “Now, Don, we agreed. Call me Pres.”

“Pres,” Varin corrected himself with a forced smile. “When your people contacted me, they said you have a business proposal for me?”

Deacon’s five star smile flashed across the room nearly blinding in its sincerity. “I do indeed, Don. As my assistant told you, I’m looking to expand into the Florida real estate market.”

Don leaned back, crossing his legs and grasping his left knee in his interlocked hands. “As a matter of fact, I have a piece of property in mind that would be ideal….”

“I’d sure like to see it,” Deacon grinned, preparing to stand.

“Oh, it’s not quite ready for settlement yet, Preston.” Varin nearly jumped from his seat. “We’re still negotiating with the current owner.”

“I see.” Deacon frowned. “Don, I thought we were clicking here. Maybe I need to be talking to the land owner one on one, not going through you.”

He stood, preparing to leave. Varin leapt to his feet, face registering his alarm.

“Now, Preston, let’s not be hasty! As a matter of fact, the owner is seriously considering my offer. I expect to hear from him tomorrow.”

Allowing himself to be placated, Deacon sat again on the edge of his uncomfortable chair.

“Well, Don, that’s got a nice ring to it. I reckon I can wait another day before I go elsewhere.”

Deacon signaled that it was time to go. Don accompanied him to the dock and saw him off.

“Well,” Deacon said once the shore was out of sight. “Y’all heard. So what do you think?” He kicked off his shoes and loosened his tie.

“You were very convincing,” Scarlet said.

“He’s such a greedy bastard,” Deacon said angrily. “How could you marry a man like that, Scarlet?”

Scarlet’s eyes lost their gleeful glitter. “Don wasn’t always so bad,” she told him. “He changed after awhile.”

“Money and power change a man,” Deacon said undoing his
jacket and slipping it off. He shook his head sadly. “Kind of have to pity a man living like that.”He lay down, putting his head in Fiddlestix’ lap.

“Don’t make the mistake of pitying Donnan Varin.” Scarlet said scathingly. “He’s made a fortune off other people’s misfortune and he’ll keep doing it.”

“What would you do with the company, Scarlet?” Fiddlestix was playing with Deacon’s hair.

Scarlet’s expression changed from anger to nostalgic. “I want to complete what Don started, making affordable housing for the poor. That was our noble purpose. It sounds foolish now, like naive children.”

“No,” Deacon answered sleepily. “It sounds like you had a dream in common. Kinda sad to see a dream die.” His voice got soft as he drifted to sleep.

Fiddlestix heard Scarlet sniffle and looked up at the other woman with concern. “You okay?”

Scarlet nodded, then shook her head adamantly. “I don’t know. Part of me hates his guts and the other part still loves him so much it hurts!”

“I understand, Scarlet. Except for Deacon, every man I’ve ever loved has made me feel that way.”

“I don’t want to kill Don, I just want him to be himself again.” She wept uncontrollably.

Fiddlestix rose carefully, putting Deacon’s head on a cushion. She went over and sat by Scarlet, hugging her tightly, she let her cry.

“Love sucks,” Scarlet sniffled.

Fiddlestix glanced over at Deacon’s profile, so handsome and peaceful. “Just when you love the wrong person. When it’s right, there’s nothing better.”

They sailed to the Harlich compound quickly. Deacon woke shortly before they docked. He and Fiddlestix went immediately to Karl’s office.

After another conference to discuss what had transpired at Varin’s they ate a quiet supper and went to bed early.

Fiddlestix – Part 29

Now that Bobby and the Noir are out of the picture, it remains to take out Donnan Varin. Is a military maneuver their best option? Or would some handy manipulation of Varin’s greed serve them better?

Amber Garwood, aka Scarlet Varin, sighed heavily, sitting down at the table with them. She laid her head on her arms, shoulders hunched as the tears fell.

“Please don’t tell Don you found me,” she begged. “He wants me dead.”

“I figured that out,” Fiddlestix told her. “What I don’t know is why.”

“I told about the buildings.” Scarlet Varin raised her head. “He says the decisions were made without his permission, but it’s not true. Before his death, he gave instructions about the housing developments. It was all in files that I took with me.

“He’d been pulling his illegal activities for years. I finally decided I had to tell someone. I took the files to the district attorney, only to find out he was in Don’s back pocket. I had to run.”

“So this whole thing about wanting to find you was just a blind?”

She nodded rapidly. “But it’s more than that. He’s been secretly supporting Château Noir for years. He was trying to get Bobby to take over the Harlich land for him.

“You see, this is prime property. If he could get his hands on this and build expensive houses in a safe environment for the ultra rich, he could make a fortune.”

“But it’s only safe because of Karl and the Harlichs,” Fiddlestix was appalled.

“Exactly, but he was figuring on the protection of the Noir. With them behind him, no one else would dare to mess with him.”

“I just can’t believe I fell for it!”

“Don can be a pretty convincing actor when he wants to be. He had me fooled for years, and I lived with the man!”

“So are we taking this Varin guy out?”

Deacon had been quiet for awhile, but Fiddlestix could see he was fuming.

“Is he really a threat anymore?” This from Karl. “He no longer has the Noir to back him. How dangerous is he?”

“Very,” Scarlet Varin said adamantly. “He’s a rich, determined man. He’ll just hire someone else and try again.”

“There must be a way to get to him!” Fiddlestix told them. “There has to be!”

“There is a way,” Scarlet Varin whispered. “But it’s going to take all the cunning we’ve got.”

Scarlet smiled disarmingly, the genuine delight making her face light up. Most of her makeup had been rubbed off since morning and her hair was no longer helmet hard. It made her look far more friendly and approachable.

“Deacon, how well can you act?”

Several days later, they headed to Varin’s island estate, approaching his compound from the ocean using the Ophelia.

Deacon was resplendent in a shiny, royal blue suit. His blond hair was neatly plaited, falling down his back in a long queue. Loki, Tully and Stumpy flanked Deacon were dressed as corporate bodyguards. The three of them looked uncomfortable in their black suits and narrow ties. Tully was understandably distressed at having to leave his arsenal behind. However, he couldn’t play his part if he clanked.

Varin met them at the dock. Smiling like a movie star, Deacon walked off his boat surrounded by his bodyguards. Hand extended, he approached like Don Varin was his best friend.

“Mr. Varin,” Deacon said loudly in his best Southern drawl. “Preston Keith, pleased to meet you.” He pointedly ignored the bodyguards.

“Mr. Keith, welcome to my humble abode,” Don Varin said with false modesty. “Won’t you all come in,” he invited with a gesture.

Loki took in details of the house transmitting them to the boat with his cyber eye. Fiddlestix and Deacon’s soldiers watched on a computer screen and listened to the conversation on their earpieces.

“Please sit down, Mr. Keith,” Varin gestured grandly to the most comfortable couch Deacon had ever seen.

Instead of sitting on the luxurious, dove gray leather, Deacon sat on an uncomfortable looking chrome chair because it had the best vantage point in the room. He couldn’t help thinking like a soldier even if he was pretending to be a corporate. Stumpy, Tully and Loki took up positions around him, each scanning the room as discretely as possible.

Fiddlestix – Part 28

The battle won, an enemy defeated, there still remains the problem of Donnan Varin. Can they beat him too? Or is he too well protected?

Loki shimmered into sight, heaving with exertion. Halfway back to the Harlich line, Loki staggered, the wound to his chest bloody and ragged. Blood oozed slowly from the tear in his reinforced skin. The pellet had not penetrated, but had left a scarlet bruise between his ribs. Garwood ran out to meet them.

“I’m fine,” Loki gasped. “Stumpy got hit bad.”

Garwood and two of the Harlich soldiers ran to the field and found Stumpy crumpled in a heap, the ground around him soaked in blood and cyber fluid. They carried him to the nearest house, turning it into a field hospital for all the wounded. After a furious 30 minutes, they had the small Oriental man stabilized.

“Garwood,” Fiddlestix hated what she had to say, but knew it was right. “Thank you. You did great today.”

Garwood blushed and smiled. “You did too,” she said shyly.

Dirk was resting at Karl’s, his wounds clean and bound. Fiddlestix was chatting with him when a commotion at the front gate distracted her. Someone was talking very loud and extremely fast. She knew that voice.

“Deacon?” She gasped, rushing from the room.

Dashing out of the house, Fiddlestix ran to the front gate. Deacon and a large group of soldiers were there trying to identify themselves.

“It’s all right,” she told the sergeant in charge. “He’s General Deacon Scott of the Shine Clan. He’s here to help.”

The Harlich soldiers let Deacon and his men in, their vehicles taking up most of the town square. Deacon set some of his men to work rebuilding and reinforcing the walls and gates. Another group joined Karl’s men to hunt down the Noir.

Having done his duty, Deacon turned to her with a grin. “You’ve been in a mess, girl,” he chuckled. “I can’t let you out of my sight for a minute, can I?”

“No,” she kissed him. “I’m hopelessly lost without you.” Her eyes glittered happily. “Let’s find Karl, you two need to meet.”

Karl was standing on the shore looking at the Ophelia with awe. The dock was in ruins. Their boats were destroyed and at bottom of the river. There were men in diving gear gathering the debris and clearing the inlet.

“So this is Deacon!” Karl shook the taller man’s hand with great enthusiasm.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Deacon told Karl.

“Haven’t heard a damn thing about you,” Karl joked. “Fiddle’s not been home for awhile. Though I hope that will change now.” He faltered slightly, but Deacon held him up.

Karl’s shoulder was bandaged but starting to ooze blood again. Fiddlestix insisted he go back to his house with them and rest.

“No one will mind if you sit down for a few minutes,” she told him gruffly.

Together, the three of them walked back to Karl’s house. Deacon demanded a full recounting of the battle from both Karl and Fiddlestix before he was happy. It took a long time to tell because he kept interrupting with questions, but eventually he had a clear picture.

“So Garwood came in handy after all, huh?” Deacon was amazed.

“She’s not Garwood,” Fiddlestix said abruptly.

“Beg pardon?” Deacon gaped at her.

“She’s Scarlet Varin, I’m sure of it.”

“What is she doing pretending to be Amber Garwood?”

“We’ll have to ask Garwood that,” Fiddlestix said simply.

“Ask me what?” Garwood walked in quietly while they were talking.

“I know it’s you, Scarlet,” Fiddlestix told her. “I don’t know why you chose to go to Texas and pretend to be Amber Garwood, but I’m sure you have a good reason.”

Fiddlestix – Part 27

He just blew up the truck, but has Tully unleashed something far worse?

What stepped from the rear looked no more like a man than a tornado looks like a Ferris wheel. It was well over seven feet tall and bristling with weaponry. It moved unsteadily as if something was wrong with its hydraulics.

Tully slowly and carefully sighted his weapon. Fiddlestix could see him counting to himself and thought she caught his whispered, “Take cover in five, four, three….”

A blinding flash of orange erupted from the chest of the cyber soldier. He faltered mid-step, spinning a hundred and eighty degrees in a graceful arc of flames. Righting himself, he stopped to get his bearings, then swiveled around to face Tully once more. Fiddlestix saw what was left of his face set in determined lines as he moved toward the demolitions expert. He might be a walking tank, but he was slow and clumsy.

The cyber soldier turned his body to take aim at the annoying gnat of a man. With a roar, he fired at Tully. The heavy metal pellet whizzed toward him. Despite its speed, the walking explosive dove out of its path as the pellet flew past him and buried itself in the ground where he’d been standing.

“Bollocks!”

Suddenly the cyber soldier stopped dead in his tracks, swiveling around to his left. He was searching for something.

“Bloody hell,” Tully cursed loudly. “What’s he up to then?”

A shadow slipped out of the trees opposite the warrior and another to his left flank. Only a blur of movement was visible to Fiddlestix, but she was sure her men were attacking.

“He’s on Stumpy and Loki.”

“I see that. They’re barking mad!”

A whirling blur set upon the cyber soldier from the left. Deep cuts appeared in his skin and cyber hydraulic fluid gushed out. Another whirling shadow attacked from the rear, pounding into the cybered man like pile drivers.

“Quit playing, gents,” Tully muttered into his mouthpiece. “Finish the bugger off.”

As if in response to his command, the cyber warrior crumpled to his knees, flattened and bleeding from dozens of wounds. With a mighty crash, his head was smashed by an invisible blow.

In a shimmer of silver light, Stumpy and Loki reappeared standing over the dead cyber warrior, panting and grinning proudly. With a roar that rivaled their opponent’s they raised their hands above their heads.

A shot rang out and Stumpy staggered back a step. Another caught Loki in the chest, spinning him around with such force that he lost his footing and fell on the dead cyber warrior.

“NO!” Fiddlestix rose from her hiding place and ran forward. With her cyber arm, she ripped out a section of the fence.

She heard the report of a weapon and a lump of turf near her left foot whizzed into the air. She ran toward the source of the shot.

“Hannah, No!” Karl stood up, waving at her to come back. Another shot took him down, wounding him.

Screaming like a Rebel soldier, Fiddlestix ran into the woods. She knew it was Bobby and she was taking him down. Ten yards away she saw him. He was dressed in his dirty black uniform, red sash of office across his chest like a gaping wound.

A flicker of movement to her right told her that at least one of her friends had survived Bobby’s shot. She kept her eyes locked on his, willing him to pay attention only to her.

“Stop right there, Hannah, or I’ll shoot.”

“You don’t have the balls to kill me!” She challenged.

Struggling with some inner demon, he raised his gun aiming at her head. His hand shook uncontrollably, sweat poured down his face.

“I’ll kill you, Hannah!”

She took a step toward him. “No, you won’t.”

Bobby gave a gurgling cry and fell to his knees, his chest
erupting from the back with a three pronged blade. He died face down in the dirt.