Tag Archive | Little White Lie

A Little White Lie – Part 18

The mission isn’t going exactly as Wil had hoped. He’s already lost a few men and he still hasn’t found Aurialonus. However, they have rescued the royal family and Wil got to have a cool knife fight. Things are looking up. Now, if he could simply find the wretched dictator, he’d be happy.

Wil looked around for Emory and didn’t see him. Ben didn’t appear alarmed, so he waited. Emory came back a few moments later, smiling smugly. A whispered conference with the king, who smiled and nodded, and the grin widened. He trotted up to Wil.

“Royal stables to the south. Twenty-five thoroughbred horses, all saddled by the grooms. They are still loyal to the family and as soon as I explained what we were doing, they were happy to help. The guards there are no longer a problem.”

He chuckled remembering the short, brutal battle that had taken place. Pitchforks and riding crops made formidable weapons in the right hands.

“Can all of them ride?” Wil asked hopefully.

Emory nodded, “Yes, sir. The king confirmed it.”

“Get them out of here. Ben, you’re with me. We’ve got to find Aurialonus.”

Ben’s lips snapped shut on his comments, knowing it would be pointless to interject common sense. He gestured for the others to leave.

“Contact base camp when you get off the palace grounds. They’ll meet you,” Ben told Lance.

“Good luck,” Emory said, suddenly worried. He looked as if he wanted to speak to Wil, but there was no time for him to find the right words.

Later, he promised himself, he would talk to Wil and try to explain. If there was a later. Sighing inwardly, he squared his shoulders and took point, leading the way to the stables across the gardens. The men in the garden were still out, but the gas would last only another ten to fifteen minutes. They hustled along, careful where they trod, even a gassed man would wake if someone fell on him.

Wil and Ben exchanged a look, which in Wil’s case could have meant anything. Ben’s was one of puzzlement. Aurialonus had never been the main objective, but Wil was determined. Probably his bizarre code of ethics again.

“How do you propose to find the lunatic? He could be anywhere.”

“He’s still here.”

“How do you know?”

Wil shrugged, moving his weapon to the other hand as he drew a cheroot from his shirt pocket and lit it. “Matter of pride. He’d never give up when he’s come so far. To him, the palace represents power. Even without hostages, he considers himself as King. He’ll stay.”

“What a putz.”

“Yeah, well no one said he was smart.”

They were picking their way across the ballroom; empty save for dead bodies. They had no light, but each man moved with confidence in the dark.

“Got to be a safe room somewhere, a bolt hole,” Wil wended his way toward the servants stairway at the back of the house. There was a veritable warren of these, he knew since the blue-prints of the castle were feeding through his cybereye.

A Little White Lie – Part 16

Things aren’t going quite as well as Wil could have hoped. Already, he’s lost some of his team. He expected casualties, but not minutes into the operation. What he doesn’t know is that his fun is just beginning.

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.

A Little White Lie – Part 15

Finally on planet, the mission’s just getting underway and already things are going wrong. People are dying and the quarry is missing. What else can possibly happen to screw up Wil’s night?

Wil cursed quietly. What had they done with the lunatic? Muttering every obscenity he knew, Wil searched for his men. He found them both by the door, their throats cut. He could do nothing for them, so he moved away. Emory closed their eyes, murmured a prayer and followed Wil, shutting the door softly behind them.

A thorough search of the suite revealed nothing. Aurialonus was not there. The objective now was to get the prisoners free. If he had to, Wil swore he’d set the whole damn palace on fire just to smoke out the petty dictator.

Remembering the booby trapped door to the balcony, Wil and Emory cautiously made their way out of the bedroom. From sheer vindictiveness, the two Marines cut the throats of the unconscious guards.

Nothing stirred in the palace. It resonated with sepulchral silence. Even the usual sounds a large building makes in the cool of the night did not seem to penetrate. It was as if a muffler had been wrapped around the palace grounds, deadening the ambient noises. Wil realized it had been sound proofed.

Using Wil’s tracker, the two men made their way downstairs to the ballroom. It was slow going as each doorway had to be checked for explosives. Not having Krall’s eye or experience made it more difficult. Wil did pretty well, but there were things even he might miss.

Emory held up a hand, stopping their progress. A questioning look from Wil, and he pointed to their left. A door was open and they heard voices from the end of the hall. According to the palace plans Wil’s eye accessed, there was a kitchen down there. Servants, guards, fanatics? To be safe, they rolled two knockout bombs down the six foot hall, listening as the bodies hit the floor.

Next stop was the ballroom door. They waited outside for a signal from Ben. Wil saw them on his scanner. They were close, but not moving. Vitals showed green, but something was keeping them stationary.

Time to backtrack, Wil decided. Go out the way they knew was safe and go see what the hell was wrong. A cryptic motion to Emory and he ran back upstairs, out the adjoining chamber and over the line to the wall. He did a quick perimeter check, then slid quietly to the ground. They followed the path they had seen the others take and made their way to the back of the palace.
* * *

Things had gone well for Ben’s team until they got near the doors. The people camping around the palace grounds were more scattered and prevalent than anticipated. There were tents everywhere with the odd person rolled up in a blanket near a statue or under a hedge. They nearly stepped on two of them and had to cut a couple throats just to get by.

The Marines hadn’t counted on robotic dogs. Their recon had not revealed their presence. Ben could think of no way to disable them. Knock out gas would obviously have no effect. So far the dogs had not alerted the soldiers, but it was only a matter of time.

“What now?” Wallace signaled.

Ben shrugged. The dog nearest him gave a low, metallic growl.

Freedrick shifted his weight slightly, earning another growl. He whispered into his comlink. “Those dogs steel alloy?”

Wallace replied just as softly. “Not top of the line, that’d be no.”

Freedrick smiled, eyeing the four dogs with gleeful anticipation. Cracking his knuckles, he stepped forward slowly. “Drop the gas, I’ll take ‘em.” His smile became predatory.

Ben and Billy slowly pulled the pins on two gas canisters and tossed them as far as they could. Waiting a few seconds for the gas to take effect, Freedrick took another step forward. The dogs growled again, moving toward him.

“Nice doggie,” he crooned, taking another step. The point dog leaped toward him, the robot legs launching it directly at Lance’s face. He blocked with his brawny left arm, grabbing the dog with his right.

The other three dogs followed, all getting a firm grip on his forearm, their powerful, metallic jaws grinding against the bone. Moving near the wall, blood dripping from multiple wounds, he swung with snakelike swiftness, dashing the lead dog’s head against the stone.

The dogs hung on, digging in their teeth, shredding the flesh. Blood gushed but Lance merely swung at the wall again. Three more strikes and the lead dog’s head shattered, a ruin of metal, wiring and plastic. The other dogs shivered, shuddered and fell off Lance’s arm as he dropped the lead dog on the ground.

“Take out the first, the others die too. They’re linked as a team.” Just to be safe, he stepped on their heads, cracking the cranial casing, and removed the control chips, grinding them under his heel.

“Drop the rest of the gas,” he said quietly. I’ve got a bleeder in my hardware.”

“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.

A Little White Lie – part 14

Finally on their mission, the team is now going after their various objectives. Wil’s hoping all will run smoothly, like clockwork. Why is it that things rarely run like the scenarios?

The second shot was successful and Emory went across followed by Wil, Bennett, and Krall. Lance, Ben and Billy headed down via the ropes Emory had attached. They repelled along the inner face of the wall, landing lightly at the bottom. They were on the wrong side of the building and had to go around. At Ben’s command, they moved cautiously into the confines of the gardens.

Wil watched until he lost track of them in the dark. Motioning the men forward, he sent Krall and Bennett through the adjoining suite. He clamored over the balcony railing after Emory, who was already squatting by the door. Holding up a hand, Emory showed five fingers, then added two more. Seven people inside.

Using a soft tap on his mike to signal Wil they were in place, Bennett indicated four more outside the door. There were usually six, so where were the other two?

A little sleeping gas and the guards went down. The door to the suite was unlocked, but Krall stopped before entering, checking carefully for booby traps. His paranoia was elevated, this place gave him the creeps. Whole mission stank like bullshit!

Wil was not the only one equipped with a cybereye. Krall’s was specifically attuned to explosives and their components. Having the capacity to record and retain information he came across, it was quite sophisticated. The man’s expertise in tandem with it made it nearly infallible.

He saw a trip line, a single strand of filament, thin as a golden hair, running across the base of the doorframe. He signaled Wil to hold and checked more carefully, finding this was merely a dummy. The real trap was further up, and not very high tech, but surely lethal.

Around the door frame, holes had been drilled and filled with lead pellets. If the door opened without the thumb print of one of the guards, it would explode. “Explains why it wasn’t locked,” he thought.

Ripping the glove off a guard, he held it up to the scanner. A green light flickered on and the door eased open soundlessly.

The other two guards were inside and had not been affected by the sleep gas. Leaping at them unexpectedly from the dark, the two Marines hardly had time to yell before they were down. Enough sound escaped Krall’s lips for Wil to hear him. None of the team would have broken radio silence if it wasn’t important, so Wil and Emory prepared to enter the chamber from the balcony.

Easing the door open, they crept in low, but Emory hadn’t thought to check for explosive devises like Krall had. Had they been upright, their heads would have been taken off. As it was, shrapnel flew in dozens of directions, stinging their skin through their protective clothing.

“Wil, two!” Bennett gasped, his breath ending in a guttural gagging noise. Wil knew he was dead. Nothing more was heard from Krall.

The two guards attacked Emory and Wil as soon as the smoke cleared. If they had thought to shoot the two interlopers, they might have been successful, but they rushed them instead, knives out, brandishing them wildly.

The guard nearest Wil fell suddenly, scrabbling at his throat. Blood went everywhere. The second guard hesitated a moment too long, Emory took him out with a projectile hook to the eye. The man’s head exploded as the hook expanded in his skull.

Another guard lunged at Wil from the shadows, flailing his arms furiously. Yet another leaped from the opposite side of the room, jumping Emory from behind. As Wil blocked the flurry of blows from his assailant, he realized these and the first two accounted for only four of the seven original occupants.

The guard threw a lucky punch, getting in under Wil’s guard landing on his chest. With a howl, the man fell back, clutching his knuckles. He had hit Wil’s utility and ammunition belt that was strapped across his chest.

“Hurts, doesn’t it?”

The guard looked up in surprise as Wil’s fingers came up and jabbed him in the throat. He collapsed with a wheeze, eyes rolling up in his head.

Emory was not fairing well. The guard was somewhat shorter than Wil, but about thirty pounds heavier. Wil ended the disagreement with his blade to the back of the man’s neck. The guard collapsed, spurting blood all over Emory and Wil.

With the back of his hand, Wil wiped his face, smearing the blood in ruddy streaks. A quick look around the room showed him that they were alone, except for corpses. The bed was empty! Where the hell was Aurialonus?

A Little White Lie – Part 13

It’s now or never for Wil and his team. Things change rapidly when dealing with a psychopath. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Word came after dinner that Aurialonus had changed plans. The youngest daughter was to be executed the next morning if his demands weren’t met. In addition, he’d demanded fifty million Uberbucks, the standard denomination of cash on Starflatz.

“That’s roughly seventeen thousand Galactic,” Krall told them. “Stupid lunatic can’t even ask for a decent amount of cash. Uberbucks aren’t negotiable anywhere but Starflatz. Does he actually think he’s gonna stick around once he’s got it? Moron,” he muttered. “What bullshit!”

“He’s not gonna get to spend it anyway,” Wallace pointed out as he gathered his gear. “We’re gonna kill him first, right?”

“A fool and his money are soon parted,” was Bennett’s contribution. The others stared at him. “What? I ran out of stuff to read in the brig, so I started a book of quotations.”

The team loaded into a shuttle which took them down to the planet. They landed at the one spaceport which was not held by Aurialonus’ troops and set up their base there. If anything went wrong, Ray would call the ship and Penny and Ishanti would go in, guns blazing.

Penny pulled Wil aside, apart from the others. Kissing him hurriedly, she gazed intently into his eyes. “Don’t die on me!” She whispered intently.

Wil allowed himself a moment of pure emotion, the last he would have until the operation was over. He kissed her deeply, all his unexpected desires for her expressed in that one act.

“You be safe,” he told her.

He turned to the rest of the team, switching to professional mode. A last glance at Penny and Wil disappeared into the darkness.

Aurialonus wasn’t too smart setting up his security. The prisoners were easily accessible on the ground floor on the back side of the palace which was flanked by the royal gardens.

Their surveillance showed no more than ten armed guards near the prisoners and about that many more on the second floor where Aurialonus slept—most of whom were outside his door. They weren’t guarding the balcony, positioned on the roof or any of a dozen other places Wil would’ve put people.

However, bivouacked around the palace grounds were several hundred soldiers who worshiped the ground Aurialonus trod upon. Since these soldiers and guards prayed every three hours even during the night, timing was dicey. Wil chose to go in two hours before dawn. Most of the soldiers were asleep and the guards were drowsy after being up all night watching the prisoners, guarding their leader and, in the middle of it all, praying fervently.

First they had to get over the seventeen foot wall circling the palace compound. Eight feet thick and made of native stone, it was nearly as hard as a diamond. Time for the monkey to earn his keep.

Emory produced lengths of fine, strong filament and fastened one to a grapnel hook attached to his weapon. Taking careful aim, he shot. A dull thunk and the hook automatically expanded in the stone, anchoring it safely. Emory scrambled up to lower lines for the team.

Watching the little man scamper up the line, Wil felt a shiver of doubt tickle his spine. It would be just as easy for Emory to alert the guards and have them waiting at the top of the wall.

A line dropped in front of Wil. Lance had another line in front of him and a third a few minutes later fell in front of Ben. Two men to a line, they scrambled up, lying flat on the wall before dropping to the ramparts. Emory was nowhere to be seen.

Wil switched to his cybereye, incorporating a special tracking feature. A sophisticated tracer located Emory a few feet away, moving toward the second story rooms of the palace. He was looking for vantage point from the wall to the balcony outside Aurialonus’ chambers.

Signaling the team, Emory attached another line to his gun mounted hook. He had chosen a spot where the palace was slightly closer to the wall. A quick scan with Wil’s cybereye showed that room was empty. Emory took careful aim, pulled the trigger and watched the hook and line play out across the empty space. It was the merest whisper in the dark, followed by a metallic chink of metal against metal, rather than the dull thunk of hitting stone. Wil and Ben exchanged a glance. That might have been heard.

The team lay flat on their bellies until Wil did a short recon. Using his cybereye, he checked for movement among the guards. Nothing. With a nod, he told Emory to try again.

A Little White Lie – Part 9

Now we meet the other players in this charade. Wil’s chosen his team, now they must assemble. Can he manage to whip such a disparate bunch into shape? Oh, ye of little faith–this is Wil we’re talking about!

Adam Krall slung his duffel bag over his left shoulder and picked up a ruck sack with his right hand. Travel light, huh? Bullshit, never could travel light! Too much shit to carry.” The tall, dark skinned man shifted uneasily, trying to ease his toes in the tight new boots.

“Slap a new rank on a man, try to make him feel important. It’s all bullshit.”

He headed toward the docking bay where a shuttle waited for him. He strapped in, leaning his head back so he could take a nap while he waited for the trip to be over.

“Bullshit,” he muttered.
* * *
“How much on there?” Lance Freedrick leaned over the barbells, looking at the weights.

“Two seventy-five,” the other man answered, glancing up at Lance.

He froze, suddenly terrified. Lance was nearly eight feet tall, broad as a barn and built like a stone wall. He had muscles in places the other guy would have paid real money to own. His abs doubled as a washboard and he could bend a steel rebar one-handed. His platinum blond hair was cropped short and his blue eyes twinkled from his well tanned face.

“Go ahead,” Lance gestured toward the weights. “Didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll spot you.” He flashed a friendly smile.

The other man looked intimidated, but took his position. With difficulty, he raised the weights to his chest, broke out in a sweat, turned red in the face and dropped the weights on the platform. Breathing hard and rubbing his arms, he stepped back right into Lance. Smiling apologetically, he moved out of the way.

“Mind if I have a go?”

“Sure, help yourself.”

Lance stooped and began adding weights to the bar. The other man’s eyes grew wider with each addition.

“How much you got on there?”

Lance looked casually at the bar. “Oh, around seven fifty.”

Taking his stance, he lifted the bar, the weight on the ends causing it to sag slightly. After a clean jerk, he put the bar carefully back down on the floor.

“Thanks!” He patted the smaller man on the shoulder and moved to another station.

The man shook his head in disbelief, staring at the weights Lance had so casually raised.

“Completely took to shame,” he muttered.
* * *

Billy Wallace sat watching a Tri-D action vid, stuffing popcorn into his mouth.

“This is the best part!” He said loudly, popcorn falling out of his half open mouth. “Just look!” He slapped the fellow next to him.

The other Marine eyed him carefully, deciding whether to take offense. He shifted his weight, scooting further away from the overly excited Wallace and focused again on the movie.

Billy stood, spilling the rest of his popcorn, striking a pose like the actor on screen. “By the power of Thor, god of thunder, I swear!” He said in unison with the actor.

Laughing hoarsely, Billy flopped back down on the couch. “Cool! I fuckin’ love this movie!”

Billy Wallace was a distant descendant of the brave Scottish warrior, William Wallace. Unlike his forefather, he wasn’t wild about battles, but since the military had fiddled with his DNA, he could do nothing else. Still a country boy at heart, he drank heavily, swore too much and chewed tobacco. The guys in his platoon called him Red Neck.

The comlink beside him beeped. He answered it distractedly, eye still glued to the screen. “Yeah, 23rd, Wallace. Go ahead.” He groaned when the hero got kneed in the crotch by the female, would-be love interest.

“Stand up straight when you talk to me, grunt!” The voice of command was unmistakable.

“Yes, sir!” Billy leaped to his feet, saluting the console.

The others in the room followed suit automatically as the visual flickered on. Their salute was returned casually as if the officer couldn’t be bothered by formalities.

“Which one of you sorry, low life bastards is Wallace?”

The Marine next to him pointed and Billy Wallace took a step forward, saluting smartly, even if he was in his skivvies.

“That would be me, sir!”

Ben eyed him critically. “You always watch a vid in your underwear, squid?”

“No, sir, Lieutenant. It’s just wash day, sir,” he concluded lamely.

“At ease.” The men relaxed into their stance. “Wallace, get your gear, you’ve been tapped for a special ops. You’ll be picked up at 1800. That gives you forty-five minutes to pack and get to the shuttle pad. Pilot has your orders.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir!” He saluted again, relieved when the comlink clicked off. “Special ops?” He scratched his head. “I knew I shouldn’t have taken those specialty classes.

Throwing his gear together, he grabbed his only clean uniform, wondering how to cope with his wet laundry. “Hell, y’all send that to me later, okay?”

One of the others nodded agreement. “Hey, Red Neck,” he called after Billy. “Be careful, man!”

Billy turned and grinned, his shiny shaven head reflecting a small puddle of lamp light. “Will do! Don’t wanna mess up my hair! Their laughter followed him as he walked quickly into the night.