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Flash Fiction – Spy Games May 1, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.

The compound had gone quiet, except for the groans of the wounded men and the occasional whinny from the horses.  Nox ached everywhere.  The energy that the creature’s claws had channeled through her was still making her muscles spasm, but she forced herself to stay standing. Her father had drilled that into head at an early age – a good commander never showed signs of weakness in front of the men.

Grimm gave her a worried look.  “Are you okay, little one?  Your aura took quite a mauling.”

“I’ll be fine,” she lied.  “Remember when I tried to bottle lightning?”

The hound snorted in amusement. “Your hair stood on end for three days.”

“Yeah, it felt about like that.  I’ll live.”  The muscles in her legs were still feeling twitchy, so she stayed put.  A faceplant would not instill confidence in anyone.

One of the guards trotted over to her and saluted.  “Ma’am, we’ve got thirty wounded and twenty two dead, including every ranking officer. Excluding yourself, of course.”  He gave her an apologetic look. “We’re still trying to get a head count for the civilians.  No one seems to know where the log books are for the gates.”

“Keep looking, and send over the owner of that trading caravan. We can at least get her people accounted for.”

“Yes ma’am.”  He snapped another salute and jogged back to the inn.

Grimm had his nose to the ground near the palisade wall.  He paused to peer closely at one of the trees.  “Take a look at this, short-stuff.  I don’t think this is standard issue at a waypost.”

She walked gingerly to his side.  There was a shattered wooden disc embedded in the bark of the tree trunk.  “Well, I’d say you found the focus for that dormancy spell on the trees.  These carvings channel the energy, works like a siphon to draw up power to run the casting. I didn’t think you could do it with wood though, these are normally made with stone.”

“If it’s an elemental casting, then someone had to touch it to activate it.  Like priming a pump.”

“Which means they were in the compound.  They probably stole the log book too.”

Grimm let out a rumbling growl. “They may still be here.”

“I guess we’ll have to flush them out then.”

The hound gave her a stern look.  “No. You are not playing bait, you can barely stand.”

“Do you have a better idea?  Any residual auric energy burned off the disc when I shattered the casting.  Whoever built this knew how to cover their tracks. I’ll bet that you can’t get a scent off it either.”

“Only the gunpowder from the shot you fired at it.” He flattened his ears. “I don’t like this one bit.”

Nox’s expression turned bleak.  “And I don’t like someone trying to murder my people. If we hadn’t been here, everyone in this waypost would be dead.”  She walked slowly back to the inn. “C’mon, let’s find this bastard so I can collapse.”

Chandra pulled Loki aside.  “What in the Hel is Nox doing?” she said, her voice a tense whisper.  “She just told her four-footed bodyguard to go get some sleep.  Then she announced to everyone that she can use that wooden disc to track down the people who messed with the palisade wall.  She may as well have painted a bullseye on her back!”

Loki looked across the common room of the inn at Nox.  “They’re up to something. Grimm never sleeps.”  He put a hand on her arm. “I need a favor, CC.  I have to ditch this courier disguise.  I can’t protect her if I’m running messages between wayposts.”

“Come up to my room, you can change there.”  She got up and gave him a smoldering come-hither look over her shoulder as she walked to the stairs.

The guard at the next table grumbled as Loki got up to follow her. “Couriers get all the girls. You lucky bastard.”

Loki smirked.  “Chicks dig guys that ride fast.” He hurried upstairs, as if eager to get his evening started. Chandra let him in, and then locked the door behind him.  He pulled out a hip flask and uncorked it.  “One fresh application of masking potion and I’ll be a new man,” he quipped.

Before he could use it, there was a loud knock at the door.  The guard that had talked to Loki called from outside.  “The Lady Ice requires the services of every courier.  Sorry pal, your evening ‘s about to be cut short.”

Chandra quickly mussed up Loki’s hair, shirt, and left some lipstick on his collar.  “So much for that idea. Be careful, Red.”

“I always am.”  He winked, and swung out into the hall, cussing loudly about having to leave her warm bed.  He stopped short as a rumbling growl came from the shadows.

Grimm materialized in front of him.  “I was wondering who would take the bait.  Did you think I wouldn’t smell the magic on you?  You have been following us for days, courier.” The hound loomed over him.  “You are going to start talking. Or I will kill you and question your shade.  Your choice.”

Nox walked down the hallway, the guard at her side. “Who did we catch, Grimm?”  Her eyes widened as she saw the man that had saved her only hours before.  “You?”

Loki could feel the armband Serenna had given him prickling madly as it countered Nox’s aura sight, and Grimm’s senses.  The disguise was holding, but it wouldn’t last much longer.  “Please, I’m on your side.”

Nox looked at the buttons on his collar.  “These alter his voice, Mother designed them for our spies. I think he’s one of ours.”

The guard took a step to the side and blew a glittering powder in their faces.  “He is. I’m not.” Even Grimm swayed drunkenly as he inhaled it. “Sweet dreams.”

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1. Laura Eno - May 1, 2010

Can I have the next installment NOW? Please…? You are the queen of cliffhangers, Angie!

techtigger - May 4, 2010

woohoo, glad to know i still hold the crown *grinz* Next installment is in the works, and there will be a bonus 1-shot for the mother’s day blog tour on Sunday 🙂

2. Sam - May 1, 2010

Yes, what Laura said! You can’t leave us hanging like this. An awesome installment – it’s amazing how much intrigue you’ve managed to shoehorn in here, and make it look effortless. If this story ever comes out in print, put me down for at least one copy.

techtigger - May 4, 2010

Heh, my beta reader is yelling at me to hurry up and send more chapters – and they are also in the works 🙂

3. Gracie - May 1, 2010

Have I said I love these characters? Well, I do. You weave the threads so well, and your writing is pretty much flawless.

I’d like a copy when it comes out in print, too.

Excellent and addictive.

techtigger - May 4, 2010

thank you! always glad to hear that people love my characters as much as i do!

4. 2mara - May 2, 2010

hehe “Couriers get all the girls” that is so true.

I am ready for the next installment 🙂

techtigger - May 4, 2010

*heehee* dashing young men riding hell-for-leather, what’s not to love? And of course bad-boy Loki goes for that as a disguise 🙂

5. ganymeder - May 2, 2010

OMG, what a cliffhanger!

I can’t get enough of this. When’s the book coming out? Ebook form, I hope…Please? 🙂

techtigger - May 4, 2010

I would hope to have it in ebook and print – just have to hurry up and finish it! 🙂

6. Mariana N. Blaser - May 2, 2010

Nothing further to add, except that I’m ready for next week’s session. (of waiting torture, that is, heh)

Can I hate that you do cliffhangers so well? I want MORE! 😛

techtigger - May 4, 2010

*muhhwaahaahaaaa!* Still the queen! 🙂

7. Marisa Birns - May 3, 2010

Marvelous! Great way to end last paragraph.

Another page turner for me. 🙂

techtigger - May 4, 2010

thank you! flashfic is generally supposed to have a twist in it – for me, it’s usually the cliffhanger 🙂 Though I have tossed it in the middle a few times

8. Jen Brubacher - May 4, 2010

This line: “Remember when I tried to bottle lightning?” is fantastic. It makes me want to read that installment, too. 🙂

techtigger - May 4, 2010

I love tossing in lines like that – need to have a bit of fun amidst all the mayhem 🙂

9. xantojones - September 5, 2010

I love how you can keep these cliffhangers coming one after the other! Great job!

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