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.”