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white lie coverLance comes in handy taking out the robotic guard dogs. He lets them take hold on his arm, smashing the lead dog’s head against the wall. Unfortunately, they did some damage to him. Fortunately, it’s not serious.

“Hardware?” Billy looked puzzled.

Lance held up his dripping arm. Billy realized the fluid was blue not red.

“Cyber synth-blood,” Lance told him. “If it all plays out, I’ll be useless.” He took a kit from his belt and started sealing his leak as Ben and Billy moved away to drop the gas.

“Weird shit,” Billy muttered. “Just ain’t right.”

“None of it was right,” Ben whispered.

“How much more of him, you figure?”

Ben gave him a withering look. “Ask him,” he moved away to drop the gas.

Billy walked in the opposite direction, going carefully and cautiously. A few minutes later, they rejoined Lance, whose arm was bound in flesh colored plastic.

“You okay?” Ben asked, concern for his man and the safety of the team foremost in his mind.

Lance nodded. “Good as new.” He flexed powerful fingers.

They moved forward together, preparing to enter the ballroom from the terrace. Taking up a three point position, they examined each door. Lance stopped to check for explosives. Ben waited impatiently for him to finish.

Strangely, no explosives were on the axillary doors. Only on the main terrace door did they find crude booby traps, hastily done by amateurs. There was no alarm, another puzzler. These people sure didn’t think in terms of security.

Movement to the west side of the terrace caught Ben’s eye and he signaled a hold. He and Wallace dropped to the ground while Lance moved into the deep shadows under the eaves, easing himself parallel to the wall. A click and flicker of light revealed Wil’s stony visage and Emory’s diminutive shadow in front of him. The other three relaxed a little.

“Ben, you’re losing it. I made all kinds of noise to let you know we were here,” he muttered.

“Aurialonus?” Ben asked.

Will shook his head. “Pay attention, ladies,” he stepped forward, taking point bedside Ben. “On three.” They counted silently as Lance eased the door open. Swinging inward, it gently tapped someone who was curled up on the floor.

Startled dark eyes in a pale, frightened face jumped open, but the little girl made no sound. Finger to his lips, Lance leaned in. His hair glowed slightly in the ambient moonlight. He did a quick recon of the room, scooped up the little girl, and deposited her on the terrace. He held up five fingers, then one. Six men in the room.

Wallace moved the girl gently to the side between two statues, motioning for her to be silent and stay put. In an uncharacteristic gesture, he took a small poncho from his fanny pack and laid it over her shivering shoulders. A tiny, cold hand touched his briefly before the child settled down with a smile.

Wil was in first, Ben right after with Lance and Emory in the rear. The guards slept with hands on their weapons. Three by the inner door to the palace, one by each of the outer doors. The others must have gone into the hall. Careless, Wil concluded and highly beneficial to his team.

Ben stumbled over a guard, falling noisily against the wall. With a yelp, the man tried to jump up, hands caught in his weapon strap. It was enough noise to alert the others, all of whom leaped up, trying to fire. One yelled for the men in the hall. Ben’s knife ended the guard’s life, but the damage was done. Wil cursed as he dropped on the floor. Ben squatted behind the dead guard. Lance ducked back out the door, aiming into the dark room. Emory had time to flatten himself behind another statue, sliding down the wall.

The corridor door burst open, the sentries rushing, guns blazing, shooting anything that moved; two of their own men. A ricochet caught Lance in his damaged left arm and another random slug buried itself in Emory’s thigh. Not serious, but annoying.

Members of the royal family had the sense to stay low, but pandemonium ruled for several seconds until the team members sorted themselves out enough to kill the guards.

Ben got two, Lance shot a third and Emory threw a knife with lethal accuracy at a fourth. Six down. Two members of the royal family clipped a guard in the knees, bringing him to the floor, where they summarily pounded him unconscious. One prince was hurt, a poorly aimed shot had caught him in the shoulder. Not a crippling or mortal wound, Wil noted automatically. He calmly shot the gunman in the head.

The third man dropped his weapon, hands on his head. Lance yanked him to his knees, cutting his throat. The final fanatic grimaced at Wil, tossing his gun aside, drawing a knife, inviting Wil to fight.

It would be a pointless waste of time, Wil knew it, but he loved a challenge. The man had earned a right to fight for an honorable death, and Wil adhered to an odd form of chivalry fathomable only to himself. Ben saw the look in his eye and started to round up the family members. With the help of Lance and Emory, he herded them out of the room.

Crouching in a fighting stance, the guard motioned Wil again as the lithe Marine sized up his opponent; shorter, but just as heavy, and well muscled. His confident movements showed Wil he knew what he was doing with the knife.

Standing with nonchalance before him, back straight, Wil presented an inviting target. He waited. A twitch in his cheek, a flinch of his right hand, and the soldier launched his attack on Wil, roaring like a lion.

©2015 Dellani Oakes

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