First Draft Excerpt from Moving The Pieces

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Copyright 2021 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved


"Are they gone?" A young girl peeked her head out of a back room at the far end of the hall, then came into the hall when she saw the three of us.

I saw Makis tense, and understood why. There had been fur on the back of her hands and partway up her arms. The 'little girl' was a shapeshifting likahn. Once she came inside my usual perception range, there wasn't any doubt. 'She' wasn't even a three dimensional being.

Ghent, however, was clueless. "Hello, what's your name?"

Why they let that idiot fly a fighter is beyond me, Asina remarked, can't think his way out of a paper bag and doesn't notice what's right in front of his face.

Maybe that's why, I told her, He qualified as a pilot, but here and now, fighters are the easiest and least important planes, and the first chance they got, they fobbed him off on us.

"Talana," the 'girl' told Ghent. It wasn't a common name, and it meant 'hidden treasure' in demonic.

Makis couldn't contain himself. "Ghent, get away from that thing! She's a likahn, not a human! She's got fur on the back of her hands, her hair can't make up its mind whether it's blonde hair or brown bristles, and the damned thing has hocks on its legs!"

"Nonsense! She's a normal little girl, just a bit frightened is all!"

"Makis is right, Ghent," I joined in. "She's a shapeshifting demon! Don't give it a chance at you."

"They're scaring me! Guardsman, don't let them hurt me!"

"See, you're frightening her! Stop it this instant! Poor kid's been through enough!"

"Girl, what were your parent's names?" Makis asked.

"Mommy and Daddy, of course!"

I thought the 'of course' should have been a giveaway for even the densest of jocks, but it didn't register on Ghent. "See, she's just a little girl!"

"Ghent, this is not the city," I told him, "People who live out here have to be alert to the differences and nuances. She's given herself away eight times over, and if we weren't here, you'd be dead already. The only thing keeping you alive right now is this 'little girl' knows if she attacked you, the two of us would kill her immediately."

"Preposterous!"

"Ghent, you don't have any children, do you? A real little girl would have just said 'mommy and daddy' if she didn't know their names. Which at her current age, she would. She's heard other adults call her parents by their names their whole life."

"What would it take to convince you this is a little girl?"

"A blood sample that looks human," I said.

"Barbaric! She's already been through an invasion of demons and you want to hurt her?"

"Just a couple drops from the end of a finger should be enough. If she's human, it will be red and stay red. But she's not human, are you 'Talana'?"

Her jaw set, and distended just enough to spoil the illusion. Ghent gasped, Makis drew and fired in one smooth motion, splattering blood everywhere. She fell, tried to rise, but opening her mouth showed a mouthful of sharp needle-like teeth. She lost control of the shape-change at that point, as her body began returning to its default state, but it didn't get very far before Makis fired a second time, this time a head shot that served for an immediate kill. The body twitched and resumed its natural form, a low-slung vaguely wolf-like creature, but the likahn was dead.

"It seems I owe the two of you my life," Ghent acknowledged. Give him that much. Most people would still be in denial and blaming us for killing a supposedly innocent girl who was in reality a demonic scout.

"I'm glad you understand that now, but it's not getting us out to the main road where Asina will find us."

"You still haven't explained how your wife even knows we've been shot down," Ghent accused.

I'd known we'd have to face the music on that one since the beginning. "We're both agaani. We've been together a long time. Our minds connect, even when we're apart. I think someday we're going to find out agaani can do a lot more than we know about yet."

If that's not the most comprehensive understatement I've heard in a while... Asina observed drily.

Not helping, my love.

"It can't hurt to see if the farm truck starts," Makis opined, "But it's time to get moving before any more scouts find us."

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on May 24, 2021 7:00 AM.

Blurb and Excerpt from The Gates to Faerie was the previous entry in this blog.

Character Interview: Joseph Bernard in Moving The Pieces is the next entry in this blog.

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