Under the Ice Blades (Dragon Blood, Book 5.5)

By: Lindsay Buroker
Acknowledgments

After I finished the fifth Dragon Blood novel, I planned to take a break from the series, but the characters wouldn’t stop popping into my head, sharing snippets of dialogue and telling me about their escapades. I soon came up with ideas for Book Six and for this story, an adventure starring Captain Kaika and a certain male character that we hadn’t heard much from yet. I had intended Under the Ice Blades to be a side story, one not crucial to read for those following along with the series, but a new “problem” arose in this one, and we’ll see it again in Book Six, so I’m glad you’re checking out this story! We’ll also have more of Cas and Tolemek in Book Six—I know some of you are wondering what’s going to happen with Cas after the events in Book Five. That will be answered soon, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this adventure.



As always, before you jump in, I would like to thank my beta readers, Cindy Wilkinson and Sarah Engelke, my editor, Shelley Holloway, and the cover designer for this series, Deranged Doctor Design. And thank you, good readers, for following along!





Chapter 1

Captain Kaika kept herself from running down the corridor of the Nightclaw Infantry Brigade’s headquarters, but only because numerous colonels and generals were wandering about, holding stacks of papers and carrying coffee mugs, their eyes still bleary with sleep. She tossed quick salutes as she weaved past them, feeling none of their enervation, even though she had been up most of the night celebrating life—and the impressive strength and flexibility of one of General Zirkander’s handsome flier mechanics.

Who could be tired when a new mission was on the horizon?

She came to a halt in front of General Braksonoth’s door, quivering with the anticipation of a hunting dog on point. Where would she be sent this time? Would she be assigned a new partner? The elite forces teams almost always worked in pairs, especially overseas. Who might she be assigned? More importantly, where would she be going? It had been nearly three weeks since she had helped Zirkander, Sardelle, and the others free the king and drive off the Cofah invasion. That was an eternity of time to loiter in the rear without a purpose.

Her knock had the enthusiasm and force of a small explosion.

“Come in, Captain,” the general’s voice came through the door, soft and dry.

Kaika tried to march in with stately decorum, but she couldn’t keep from bouncing on her toes as she came to attention on the rug in front of the desk. Getting a new mission was better than fifteen-year-aged takva, better than sex, and even better than blowing up enemy strongholds. Of course, a new mission often led to blowing up enemy strongholds, so that was part of the appeal. But the constant element of danger kept her more alert and alive than she ever was back at home.

“Reporting for duty, sir.” Kaika gave the general a much more professional salute than the ones she had tossed in the corridor. Unlike the rest of the officers in the building, Braksonoth, commander of the intelligence battalion, held her fate in his hands. Even though the elite forces teams were technically a part of the infantry brigade and often worked in conjunction with the combat soldiers, they received orders from this man. “Do you have a new mission, sir?” she couldn’t help but add.

Braksonoth folded his hands on his desk and gazed blandly up at her through his spectacles. The soft-spoken, gray-haired officer weighed less than a hundred and fifty pounds and looked up at six-foot-tall Kaika even when they were both standing, but she knew better than to underestimate him. She’d seen his record, the part that wasn’t classified. He had been on over a hundred spy missions, taken down critical enemy fortifications, and survived countless battles that others on his teams hadn’t walked away from. He knew everything about this job, and he could send her on the most amazing missions... or he could send her to the kitchens to mash turnips. She’d done both for him in her fifteen years in the unit.

“I have new orders for you.” Braksonoth licked his finger and slid the top sheet of paper off a stack.

“Orders, sir?”

Orders weren’t a mission. Orders were a... who knew what? A transfer to a new army fort or to a training school. But she’d been to all of the training schools. And why would her superiors send her to another fort? The elite forces had always been based out of the capital.

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