New Regime (Rune Alexander Book 5), p.1
By Laken Cane
Copyright © 2014 Laken Cane
All rights reserved.
The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, association with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment. Ebook copies may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share with a friend, please buy an extra copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
For more information about the author, you can find her online at
To my amazing street team-- I’d be lost without you guys. To Dawn Anderson, a beautiful person we lost too soon. To my awesome fans for their incomparable support. To:
Sasha Lovell Anderson
Melanie Patrick Harrell
Tammy Lawson Sullivan
Table of Contents
About Laken Cane
“Let me know,” Ellie said. ”I have transport and medical on standby, half a mile from you.”
Rune probed the shadows with her narrowed, Other gaze as Ellie’s quiet voice slid into her ear. He was safely ensconced in a control room in the new Annex building miles away.
She’d finally gotten accustomed to wearing a headset but it had taken a while. The techie guys had managed to create an earpiece she was comfortable with, and if she was being honest it made communication a million times easier.
Still, she rebelled against the changes the Annex kept shoving at the crew. She didn’t like the new regime, or the secrecy, or the feeling that Shiv Crew was somehow less significant than they’d been with RISC. And she couldn’t shake her mistrust of the Annex.
Eugene Parish made her uncomfortable, and she wasn’t exactly sure why. It was a gut feeling that wouldn’t go away, and she’d learned to trust her gut.
The Annex had taken over, and not slowly. Once they’d decided RISC was worth their notice, they’d taken control.
Had taken right the fuck over.
“I see movement,” Jack murmured. “At the back. One of them is coming out for a bathroom break.”
She winced at his voice, which wasn’t as silky smooth as Ellie’s. Jack wasn’t a whisperer and his deep, rumbling tone tunneled into her brain like a jackhammer through rock.
“I’m on my way,” she said.
With Owen and Lex at her side she loped noiselessly toward the back of the old slaughterhouse, the same building to which Lara Book had been nailed by COS.
The crew had the slaughterhouse surrounded. The killers weren’t getting away. Not this time.
“Go in soft,” she murmured. “Don’t spook them and give them a chance to off the girl.”
At the corner of the building she slowed and crept in, hugging the wall as she made her way closer to the men they’d been chasing for two days.
Those men had hacked their way to Ohio after leaving piles of murdered females in Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Not all the bodies had been found.
Then they’d left at least three dead girls in two Ohio counties before they’d made the fatal mistake of taking on Spiritgrove and Shiv Crew.
The assholes were about to go down.
The human assholes.
One perk of belonging to the Annex was that human law enforcement couldn’t force the crew off cases involving humans. They had to share, at the very least.
Parish and his second in command, a withdrawn woman named Iris, ruled the River County branch of the Annex calmly, but firmly. Iris had only approached the members of Shiv Crew once, and Rune had a feeling that was because Eugene Parish had insisted.
Still, unfriendly as she was, she wanted what they all wanted—to get equality for Others and to take out the bad guys.
These particular bad guys had a nasty habit of picking up female Other runaways and prostitutes and doing very bad things to them.
Rune shook her head, hard, to dislodge the sudden vivid image that shot through her damaged mind. The memories of her rape were sometimes hard to ignore, to push away, to hide.
“Stop,” she whispered.
“Rune?” Strad’s voice was low, but worried.
“Close in,” she said.
“We’re in position,” Raze said. He and the twins wouldn’t let anyone escape through the front, if by some chance the slimy snakes managed to slither past Rune.
And that wasn’t going to happen.
“Let’s get the fuckers,” she muttered. “Alive, if possible.”
Not that she cared if her crew killed the bastards, but Eugene frowned upon executions that might bring his organization under scrutiny. The Annex didn’t want publicity—good or bad.
She ran, but didn’t release her claws until she spotted the guy pissing into the bushes.
“I got it,” she said.
The man turned toward her, likely spotting the blur of motion from his peripheral vision as she ran at him. His dick was still in his hand. “Wha—”
Her entire body shuddered as she sliced through his neck with her lethal claws.
He fell, blood spraying.
“Shit,” Jack said, running up behind her.
“Rune,” Ellis wailed.
She lifted an eyebrow. “Sorry. Let’s go in and get the rest of them.”
“Alive?” Owen grinned.
“Yeah.” Then she shrugged. “At least one of them. We need the locations of the unrecovered bodies.”
They followed her through the doorway at the back of the slaughterhouse—Owen, Jack, Lex, and the berserker.
“We’re coming in through the front as soon as you have them cornered,” Raze said.
The men in the large, echoing room jumped from the floor—she counted seven of them in the flickering, dim lights they’d set around the place.
She didn’t spot the victim.
The fugitives had guns, of course, and the crew had gone in prepared. Another perk of the Annex—they had an entire lab staffed with carefully chosen people who created weapons and protection from weapons.
And those people loved their jobs.
Rune and the crew had been given multi-threat vests created especially for Annex ops. Completely bulletproof? No. But they were resistant to bullets, blades, fangs, and claws.
Rune didn’t have to worry about a mere bullet killing her, but enough bullets could certainly cause her a lot of pain and slow her down. Slow her down enough for capture, even. And there was nothing worse than capture.
The fugitives dove for cover and opened fire.
Raze and the twins entered the room but Rune was almost immediately distracted as a man arose from behind one of the piles of metal.
He held a girl in front of him, one arm around her neck, the other holding a gun to her head.
“Stop shooting,” Rune ordered the crew.
The man with the hostage spoke into the sudden silence. “We were ready to move on anyway.” He pushed his gun into the girl’s head, causing her to cry out. “Toss your weapons over, all of you.”
“Rune?” Jack asked.
She held up her palms, hoping she’d retracted her claws before the guy had seen them. “Take me, dude,” she told him. “Let’s trade. Me for the girl.”
“Why would I want to do that?” But even in the dim light she could see his stare raking her body.
“I’m valuable. It doesn’t matter if you’re holding the girl—my crew will cut you down. Even if they have to kill her, too.”
The girl cried out again, but Rune continued. “They won’t take a chance on killing me.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I don’t like seeing innocent girls hurt.”
“Now that’s sweet. But she’s not innocent anymore.” He gestured with his head. “Drop your weapons and get over here, then.”
“I’m not stupid,” she said. “Let the girl go.”
“I’m not stupid either. Johnny,” he called. “You’re going to let old Johnny handcuff you and bring you behind our little wall, here. Once I have you, I’ll let the girl go. And then, if your men don’t walk away, you’re the first one who’s going to die.”
She smiled. “Deal.”
Johnny, a bulky man with short hair and two black eyes walked toward her. He didn’t seem concerned about Rune—he kept darting glances at her men.
The girl moaned, then began sobbing weakly.
Her captor tightened his arm around her neck. “Hush, sweetheart. You ain’t hurt.”
Rune clenched her fists. “Bastard.”
He grinned at her. “You sure are brave, taking me on, honey. I like a brave girl.”
Johnny pulled her hands behind her back, not handling her especially roughly as he restrained her.
“What do you get out of hurting women?” she asked.
Johnny didn’t answer but the man holding the girl did. “We only get one life. Might as well have fun.”
“Fun,” she said. But really, she wasn’t surprised. She’d been up against her share of monsters. They no longer shocked her. “Johnny has me. Let my crew take the girl out of here.”
The man shrugged, then holstered his gun before lifting the girl into his arms. “Catch,” he said, and tossed her over the pile of junk protecting him from bullets.
Jack rushed forward, snatched the girl off the floor, then backed away.
“Rune,” Strad murmured, his voice barely coming through her earpiece. “See you outside.”
“Let’s get this show on the road,” the leader said. “Before they decide to do something stupid and get you killed.” He winked at her.
The men followed his lead, coming out from behind their cover, and waited for him to tell them what to do.
He wasn’t afraid. He knew he was living on borrowed time.
“Get the van,” he told one of them. Then he looked at Johnny. “Bring her.”
“Wait,” Rune said. “I have a question.”
“You do?” The man bowed. “Then by all means, Princess. Ask.”
“Did you leave any of your victims alive? Stash them away somewhere and forget to go back?”
“Nope. When we leave our women, we leave ‘em dead.” He spat on the floor. “But first we leave ‘em satisfied.”
“Rune,” Ellis said, breathless and afraid. “Please be careful.”
“Always,” she told him.
“Yeah,” the leader said. “Always. Except for the little lady you traded yourself for, and she’ll be dead before morning.”
“All your men know where the bodies are?”
He gestured impatiently, turning away as he spoke. “Shut your mouth. Bring her, Johnny. If anybody is waiting out there, make her scream. If they open fire, shoot her.” He turned to stride from the room.
She’d keep Johnny alive and hope he could give them the locations of the bodies. The rest were dead. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” she asked Johnny, her voice bland, unemotional. Those who knew her would have heard the dark, eager promise in it.
He didn’t answer but pushed the gun into her temple with a little more force. Johnny wasn’t a talker.
With an almost gentle tug, she broke the chain connecting the cuffs. Before Johnny—or any of the men—understood what was happening, Johnny’s gun was across the room, he was unconscious on the floor, and Rune stood blocking the exit door toward which the men were headed.
“The fuck,” the leader said, his disbelieving gaze going from Johnny’s prone form to her. “You’re not fucking human!”
“You’re right,” she agreed. “My name is Rune Alexander. Allow me to introduce you to my monster.”
She shot out her claws and dropped her fangs.
Almost as one the men lifted their guns, but she was on them before they could cause any real damage. One of them managed to shoot the wall, then gave her a terrified look, threw his gun, and ran.
She dropped him before he got three steps.
The leader lay on the floor bleeding out, his body twitching as he fought the darkness that had come to claim him.
She stood over him, her rage black and heavy. The other men were dead or dying, except for Johnny.
“Are you Death?” the leader asked, his voice weak. “Are you the Reaper? Finally?”
“Yeah,” she whispered. “I’m Reaper Rune.”
And maybe he wasn’t quite as ready for death as he’d thought, now that it stared him in the face.
“Hey now,” he begged. “Come on. Come on now. Don’t…”
She’d retracted her claws without even realizing it. She leaned over, put the tips of her fingers against the man’s forehead, then sent her claws out with all the rage inside her.
And even when he was good and dead she continued
Her shame, even.
She became aware of Ellie’s voice through the earpiece as he tried to talk her down. Tried to calm her.
Someone put a hand on her shoulder. “Rune. Rune, enough.”
She looked around, dazed.
Raze was hauling Johnny away. Strad was behind her, squeezing her shoulder. He squeezed harder when she stared up at him. She concentrated on the pain of his grip.
“All right?” he asked.
She nodded, and took a deep breath. “Where’s the girl?”
“Jack and Lex have her outside, waiting for medical.”
Again, she nodded. “Okay. Okay.” She looked at the man she’d destroyed as though seeing him for the first time. “I lost it for a minute.”
“Yes.” He said nothing more, just watched her.
“We’re sending one of them in,” she told Ellis. “The rest are dead.”
“We’ll get a room ready,” he replied. “Transport is on the way. Are you sure you’re okay?”
She rolled her shoulders, trying to loosen the knots. “I’m fine, baby. See you in a little while.”
She walked out of the slaughterhouse with Strad beside her, the beautiful twins at her back.
The hideous gang would never hurt another girl. She was sure when Eugene was finished with Johnny, he’d be put down as well. Hell, she’d do it for him if he’d give her the chance.
The night, for Shiv Crew, had been a success.
After she’d been debriefed—one of the many activities put into place by those who ran the Annex—she was too jittery to go home and sleep.
“Lex,” she said, grabbing the girl before she could exit the building with the twins. “You tired?”
“Not even a little bit.” The blind Other nodded at the twins. “I’ll ride home with Rune.”
Rune stared after them as they walked away, uneasiness causing her chest to tighten. The twins, especially Levi, hadn’t recovered fully from their abduction by COS. At least not mentally.
But then, neither had she.
“Fucking COS,” she whispered.
“Rune?” Lex wrapped her fingers around Rune’s wrist and vibrated gently.
Rune shook Lex’s fingers from her arm out of habit. She doubted Lex really needed to touch her to read her. They’d bonded closer than ever since the battle with the demon. Or maybe it’d happened even earlier, when Lex had pulled Rune and Strad into some sort of power circle.