If anyone had asked Wil VanLipsig where he’d be in five years, he surely wouldn’t have said he’d be fighting the ultimate evil on an unknown planet in a lost galaxy. Fighting a war, probably. Killing off insurgents, righting political wrongs, following another man’s agenda, decidedly. Funny how life throws things in our paths that we must overcome. Wil is no different. With the help of his wife, Matilda, their good friends and benevolent aliens, they battle the Kahlea’s slaves, wondering when the Grand Master himself will arrive. What’s next for this tiny, insignificant oddment of miners and marines? Travel to the forgotten world of Shakazan and find out!
The Maker is Book Three in the Lone Wolf Series, with more to come. The story is far from being told.
Wil dragged Matilda back down the tunnel. Roaring, Surau rushed them from the rear. Ben and Marc took shots at him, but they didn’t have time to aim carefully. The shots went wild, zinging around the tunnel dangerously. They holstered their weapons and provided a meat shield for Matilda. Wil ran, dragging her down the tunnel.
They encountered nothing until they got to the first junction, where the metal passage intersected with the stone tunnels. Instead of being empty as it had been, they found themselves facing tall, dark humanoids. These carried lethal looking spears and didn’t appear angry, just startled. Raising their spears threateningly, the dark men charged the group.
Finding the way blocked, the unlucky humans veered off down the metal passage, footsteps echoing hollowly as they ran. Matilda tripped over her skirt, as it wrapped around her legs. Taking one set of claws, she slashed a portion of it away, freeing her feet to run more efficiently. Wil’s grip on her arm was painful, bruising her skin, leaving her muscles feeling numb. She did her best to keep up, but his legs were far longer than hers, his stamina greater. The passage grew increasingly dim as they went further in. They had never been so far from Sentience and her repaired networks before. They initiated their Kindred suits as the air around them thinned and grew stale.
The dark men surged down the tunnel after them, their numbers overwhelming. Ben and Marc formed a wall, with Wil directly behind them. He tried to contact the ship to teleport them out, but there was too much interference. Backing slowly as the men advanced, Marc picked off two with carefully aimed shots. Ben joined him, taking out a couple more. Their weapons were set to stun, but to the dark men, their comrades appeared to be dead.
Instead of stopping, the men grew more determined, advancing rapidly. As one, they suddenly lunged forward, making a grab for the small, retreating party of humans. One grabbed Marc, who crushed the dark man’s skull with a blow from his gun butt.
Another held Ben, who summarily broke his arm, yanking it from the socket. The dark man screamed in pain as Ben’s blow to his head killed him. Wil kicked a third in the teeth, before aiming down the tunnel, targeting the leader. His kill shot was true.
The dark men stopped advancing as their leader’s head exploded. With a mighty roar, they made a last, monumental attempt to grapple with the humans. Wil pressed his wife behind him, trying again to contact the ship. There was a crackle of static and a faint acknowledgment from Hammer.
“Smith, get us the hell out of here!” Wil roared into his com.
The dark men gathered their dwindling numbers, preparing for a final assault. Growling angrily, they reformed their ranks around the fallen, glaring at the humans with hatred.
Wil shouted to his wife, “Run, Matilda! We’ll catch up to you! Run! Run!”
Matilda hesitated a moment. The passageway was dark, she could feel it surround her. Even the Kindred suit couldn’t compensate for the complete lack of light. Her nightmares came back, freezing her in place.
“Wil, I can’t! I can’t see a thing! Oh, God, Wil, I’m so scared!”
“Babe, it’s okay. Hammer has us. He’ll get us out of here. Please, keep going a little longer.”
Hesitantly, she picked her way along, the floor sagging beneath her feet. The ceiling was partially collapsed, filled with so much rubble, she had to stoop to move. The others were engaged in combat, she could hear it. All her instincts screamed at her to go back, to fight beside her mate.
Wil’s voice echoed down the passage, “Run!”
One of the dark men broke through their line, scrabbling over the stones, nearly on top of her. Matilda knew Wil was aiming at him. Flattening herself against the wall, she pressed back as far as she could.
“Now!” she screamed. “You have a clear shot!”
The weapon fired as she ducked, turning further away, sensing the electromagnetic pulse from Wil’s gun, hit the dark man in the back, hurling him toward her. She tried to dodge him, but a hand shot out from his dying body, clutching at her flowing dress, dragging her with him. The floor collapsed beneath their combined weight. The man fell like an anchor into the nothingness below her. Kicking wildly, Matilda struggled for a hand hold, screaming hysterically.
Wil heard her scream, felt the give in the floor and ran full speed down the passage. The ceiling collided with this forehead, the sides of the passage snagged his clothing. “I’m coming! I’m coming! Hang on!”
“Wil! Oh, Wil! I’m falling! Wil!” A scream ripped from her throat, fading away as she fell.
Wil reached for her a second too late. He saw her dropping into the bottomless pit. His cry of despair turned into a howl of grief. A moment later, the men found themselves on the bridge of Hammer. Matilda wasn’t with them. Wil lay on the floor, still as death.
“Oh, God,” he whispered. “Oh, God! No!”
Dellani Oakes is a Tennessean by birth, a Floridian by a quirk of fate. She resides in a town south of Daytona Beach where her constantly changing household usually has at least one grown child in it. Dellani loves science fiction and grew up reading the greats. She always felt something was missing from their story lines—a little romance. Taking that idea to heart, she began her Lone Wolf Series, incorporating all she loved about sci-fi, but adding a strong romantic bond between Wil and Matilda.
Bio: Dellani is an avid writer, but when she’s not writing, she’s reading anything she can get her hands on. She leads a small writers group through the Council on Aging, enjoying her time away from home. She also hosts two blog talk radio shows a month, Dellani’s Tea Time – Every 2nd Monday of the month, and What’s Write for Me – every 4th Wednesday. She and her co-host, Christina Giguere, interview other authors.