Dog World: Gone to Hell Lucky number 13

Chapter Thirteen

“Vitals are dropping,” yelled Sutton as the gurney carrying Demarti was rushed down the hallway. “We’ll lose him if we don’t get into the OR now!”

Two medics rushed alongside them, barking for those in the way to make a hole.

Demarti was bleeding profusely; the dark red flow appeared to have no end.

They burst into the underground operating room. The bright fluorescent lighting made everything about Demarti’s condition appear worse.

“You don’t need to be here, Cameron,” said Jeanue, taking her by her blood-covered hands. “Wait outside, okay?”

“I want to be here.”

“I know. I also know you want to make a difference topside. They’re going to need all the guns they can get right now.”

Mitchell considered Jeanue’s words. They held more than a little truth. She knew she would only be in the way. “Right. You’re right. I’ll go topside.” She squeezed Jeanue’s left shoulder, before moving away from the doors.

Jeanue disappeared through the OR doors.

Inside, Sutton and another surgeon had cut away Demarti’s ACU jacket and were swabbing the wound.

Jeanue paused, staring at the surreal scene. It seemed somehow impossible that she was about to assist in the operation of saving another friend.

“Piss or get off the pot,” Sutton called to Jeanue. “If you’re just going to stand there then you need to either get to work or grab a gun and fight. Pick one.”

Jeanue snapped to immediately. She cleaned her hands, grabbed a surgical smock and then cleaned her hands again. A nurse assisted her with putting gloves on, and she took a position beside Sutton.

“What do you need me to do?” asked Jeanue.

“Make sure the incision stays clear for starters. We were able to stabilize his vitals and stop the bleeding but the trick is getting the bullet out.”

“You’re a neurosurgeon, why are you doing this?”

“I started out assisting in spinal injuries before I went into neurosurgery, and my eyesight’s better than anyone here.”

Sutton probed the wound. “Found it,” she declared. “Wipe my forehead please, Maggie. This would’ve been so much easier if we had x-rays.”

Someone knocked at the door. Jeanue turned to see Kunpai’s serious face peering through. “It’s Omi.”

“Get rid of him,” snapped Sutton. “We don’t have time to deal with concerned people.”

Jeanue went to the door and Kunpai opened it for her. He was accompanied by two soldiers that stood in the opposite room. An olive drab case marked Rifle, Individual, M4A1, along with three ammo cans sat between the soldiers. She eyed the containers with a fearful eye. “Sutton wants you gone,” she said pulling her eyes to Kunpai’s. “Whatever you have to say better be said in a minute or less.”

“Vance has brought armor to the fight. What tanks we have are engaging them.” Kunpai fell quiet for a moment. “We don’t know if we can hold him off. Roaches have breached the interior and we’re tied up between maintaining the perimeter and engaging them. Vance has air support, too. We’ve got Hornets inbound from Coffer Airfield. Their ETA is five minutes.”

Jeanue was incredulous. “We’re in danger of being overrun?”

Kunpai cast his eyes away. “Look, I’ve brought weapons. If push comes to shove you’ll have to fight your way out.”

“I can’t bring those into the OR,” she protested.

“And you can’t afford to leave them out here either.” He turned to one of soldiers. “Private, uncrate the rifles. Lock and load each one.”

“Now see here, Omi -”

“No, you see here, Colonel. We’re fighting for our survival now, and if we get overrun I don’t know if we can come for you. You have wounded besides Paul. You take these damn weapons or I’ll take them into that room for you.” Kunpai wasn’t kidding.

Jeanue looked at the OR doors and then back to Kunpai. “Obviously there’s no getting rid of your toys so take them in, but stay out of everyone’s way and don’t stop to…ogle things. Open the crate first, and then place it at the far wall, and stack the magazines on top of them. In and out, that’s all you’ll do.”

“Do as she says,” ordered Kunpai. They quietly and quickly moved past Jeanue and Kunpai. They performed their task in a matter of seconds.

“This makes me feel a bit better, Maggie.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“Vance has a hard on for that Collins guy. He means to get him.”

“Let him come,” warned Jeanue. She returned to the OR, leaving Kunpai and the soldiers alone. Silently they left for the battle that raged above.

Sutton had removed the bullet in the time that she’d talked to Kunpai, and was currently closing the wound. The deformed projectile lay in a sterile solution, trailing red streamers as the antiseptic worked its cleaning magic.

“Why’d you let them bring guns into the OR?” Sutton cast a harsh glance at Jeanue. “They broke a clean environment to bring in a case that undoubtedly contains dust and multiple germs. Not the brightest idea you’ve ever had, Maggie.”

“Omi says that we’re in danger of being overrun.” Jeanue’s voice was flat and sounded tired. Her words caused everyone to stop what they were doing.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” inquired a male nurse.

“It means exactly what it means,” answered Jeanue. “Vance has tanks and aircraft out there. Better pray he doesn’t have bunker busters or we’re screwed.”

Sutton growled. Most eyes in the room went wide and to her. “Out-fucking-standing. The only way we find out that Vance is here is by getting Paul sent to us with a bullet in him, which leads to us being told that the literal wolves really are at the gate. And now they tell us he’s got tanks. Can this day get any better?”

“What’s his status?” asked Jeanue, changing the subject.

“He’ll live. We have plenty of his blood type on hand so that’s a blessing. As far as walking goes… it’s 50/50. If Vance’s people breach then it won’t matter either way. He’ll never realize he’s dead until he’s meeting St. Peter.”

“Get his transfusion going,” ordered Jeanue. “Christ, get a freaking poodle to donate if you have to. I don’t care what you do, I just want him well.” Jeanue ripped off her surgical gloves and smock and threw them into a bio-waste can. She only stopped to snatch up a loaded M4. “If anyone wants to help set up a defensive perimeter in the hall they’re more than welcome to join me.”

Jeanue stuffed spare magazines into her pockets before checking the rifle’s chamber. It had been loaded and she caught the round before it hit the floor. Her dexterity surprised her more than anyone else.

A male nurse followed Jeanue’s example. He stripped off his surgical gear, picked up a rifle, three magazines, and offered to move any patients quartered near the entrances.

Jeanue didn’t answer the nurse. She spoke only to Sutton. “Patch him up. We’ll be down the hall if you need us.”

She exited the OR, briefly wondering if she had made the right decision in picking up a weapon. In the end she knew it be the right call. If Vance breached the building he would kill her just as surely as he would anyone else he found on the floor.

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

 

Detrick was alive with activity. Civilians outside of shelter were ushered under cover to mess halls or to nearby underground facilities. Gunfire from somewhere on Detrick’s grounds punctuated the urgency for cover.

Hughes entered his quarters and hurriedly donned his boots and war gear. He was sure that battle would be close in and had armed himself with an M1087 automatic shotgun for his use. He snapped his helmet onto his head and picked up the shotgun.

Kunpai waited outside in Kunpai’s command vehicle. “All stations this net, all stations this net. Report status. Over,” he called into a handset handed to him by a radioman.

One by one the various outposts, sniper positions, and patrols called ready for action. Kunpai felt better in the knowledge that the troops were in a state of readiness. He hoped Hughes would feel the same.

A soldier ran to Hughes as he left his quarters and handed him a small stack of reports. He glowered at what he’d been given. “When did this happen?”

“Less than five minutes ago, sir. They overwhelmed Gate Two. We’ve secured the area. We have four KIA and three walking wounded.

“Shit.” He paused. “It’s all a diversion.” Hughes knew what was coming. He hoped that FortDetrick was prepared for it.

Hughes and the soldier stepped into the late afternoon sun, and looked for any vampires that might be nearby. Sporadic gunfire stuttered in various areas. He looked at the other reports. “Civilians were taken? How did this happen?”

“An unknown number of roaches overran a squad in route to their positions, sir. They’ve taken some of our people along with civilians.”

Hughes’ stride slowed as he read the reports. He grimaced as they moved toward his command vehicle. Belle waited in the driver seat and kept a watchful eye on Kunpai.

“Colonel Belle,” snapped Hughes coldly. “Secure a vehicle and break off a machine gun team. I want you to visually inspect the perimeter. Report any contact.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Belle.

“Gimme the radio,” said Hughes, sitting in a command Hummvee’s back seat. “All stations this net. All stations this net. Standby for sitrep.” He hurriedly looked through the papers once more. “Enemy elements have breached the perimeter and been verified as vampire in nature. Enemy is numbered between eighty and one hundred. Contacts are unarmed, but should be considered hostile. There have been casualties, and civilians have been taken along with three of our people. Do not engage if you are confronted by hostiles with hostages. I say again, do not engage if hostiles have friendlies mixed in. Contain them but do not agitate them. Hoo-Ah. Detrick Actual, out.”

A call came over Kunpai’s radio. It was Zellar. Her voice was tense, bordering on stressed.

“Say again,” said Kunpai leaning an ear toward the radio. “Copy that. Out.”

The sudden crump of detonating grenades and more gunfire mixed ominously with Hughes’ and Kunpai’s words. The noises of battle sounded closer than before.

Kunpai tapped Hughes’ shoulder and leaned toward him, whispering.

“All stations, all stations, standby.” Hughes looked at Kunpai. Disbelief crossed his face. “What? Where?”

“All stations, all stations. Do not engage new contacts in route to Gate Four! I say again, do not engage new contacts approaching Gate Four. All units on perimeter security secure your areas and stand by for further instructions.”

Kunpai whispered to Hughes once more.

Hughes was about to speak to Kunpai, but was interrupted by a call from Belle. Belle’s news confirmed Zellar’s.

“Mount up everyone,” called Hughes to the men and women.

The drive to Gate Four left the occupants of the Hughes’ vehicle wishing that the approaching column had been Demarti’s.

The unknown column had arrived and a number of soldiers had dismounted and taken firing positions three hundred meters away. A lone figure dressed in Army camouflage stood between the gate and the halted vehicles.

“They arrived a few minutes ago.” Mitchell gave the situation report. Mild agitation tinged her words. “They stopped at their current position and troops took up positions outside the perimeter. They’re being reined in well. No one’s fired a shot or given any Demands. I’m betting the bulk of their forces are here.” She cleared her throat. “He’s been standing out there alone since they got here.”

Hughes and Kunpai didn’t need binoculars to tell it was Vance that stood alone in the road.

Vance’s stance was akin to Clint Eastwood’s in one of his Man with No Name movies. His absolute arrogance outraged many at the gate. He stood in the open, defiantly daring anyone to shoot, though he knew no one would. It was fear of Vance that stayed the numerous trigger fingers, but Hughes’ order and the question of what repercussions Vance might have planned should happen if someone take the wrong initiative.

Zellar was one of many that itched to take a shot. “I can drop him easy, sir,” she said to Hughes, taking a prone position.

“Negative, Private. There’s a good chance you’re being sighted in, too.” Hughes smelled more trouble than he cared for. He knew the best Vance would offer FortDetrick in an attack was death for everyone within. The worst would be allowing the humans to remain alive with a select few lycans, such as him, left for torture.

Walinski and Tan jogged to Hughes and Kunpai. Tan raised her M4 to her shoulder. Looking through the scope she couldn’t believe Vance was there, leaving himself open for revenge.

Walinski felt his evil intentions burn into her mind. Behind her eyes, Dolly and Clarice vied to be released. The internal conflict for violent action was all together new to Walinski. Seldom did Clarice and Dolly agree on anything.

“Well?” asked Walinski impatiently. “What are we going to do?”

“We,” Hughes stressed the word, “aren’t going to do anything. I’m going to hear the man out.” Hughes’ eyes remained on Vance as he spoke.

“All due respect, General, but fuck talking,” blustered Dolly. “We have an opportunity here. Let’s not squander it…sir.”

“She’s right, General,” added Walinski.

“Suggestion noted, Chief. Now, until you’re in charge this is my call.” Hughes licked his lips. “What do you want, Shepherd?” Hughes’ yelled to Vance across the space between them.

Vance appeared to laugh before he began walking toward the gate.

“What’s he doing?” asked Kunpai, sighting his own weapon on Vance.

“I think he wants to talk, General.” Tan nearly said that she could talk fine with her weapon.

“Ka-pow,” whispered Zellar. She gave another mock squeeze of the trigger, and another ka-pow drifted from her lips. Her M16A4 was on safe. Still she uttered the word and squeezed the resistant trigger over and over again.

Hughes looked down to Zellar. As much as he wanted to order her to stop, he couldn’t. In theory, and in practice, he agreed with her. Still, he knew that even with her safety on there was a danger the rifle could discharge. “PFC Zellar. I’ve given out some promotions lately. How would like to become a Specialist?”

“You’ll make me an E4 if I shoot Vance?” she answered hopefully. She kept the scope to her eye, and spoke without looking at Hughes.

“No. I’ll make you an E4 if you don’t.”

“Thanks, but I’ll stay a PFC if that’s your deal, sir.” She uttered Ka-pow again, faking slight recoil with the pretend shot.

Hughes grunted. He’d come to like Zellar, mentally unbalanced or not.

“Hey, hey, Timmy boy,” called Vance jovially, stopping thirty feet from the gate. “Are you certain you have enough guns on me? You act like I’ve just killed the world or something.”

“What do you want, Shepherd?” Hughes spoke through gritted teeth, and thinned lips.

“Why are you using that name, Timothy?” growled Vance. The sound of his true name infuriated him.

 That’s your God-given birth name, isn’t it? Reginald Vancey Shepherd?” Hughes’ teeth unclenched as he taunted Vance.

“I’ve got a lost puppy in there. I’ve come to collect him. He’s so loved and I miss him so much. I’ll even pay you a finder’s fee.”

“Who are you referring to, Shepherd?”

Vance’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t play games you can’t afford to lose, Tim. You have my tech head traitor, and I want him back.”

“Or what? You’ll kill us if we don’t give him up? I don’t even know to whom you’re referring to.”

“Again with the games, Tim. You have Collins and I want him. I know you personally killed Rexler. That twat didn’t matter much anyway. I have to give you credit though. I never thought you’d put a bullet in her. Either way, we both know you have him.”

Hughes looked over his shoulder. “Lieutenant Colonel Kunpai. Do we have any new personnel on base?”

Kunpai joined Hughes. He didn’t like the Hughes’ game either. Why deny something that everyone knew to be true. Still, Kunpai forced himself to play along. “White guy, my height, kinda good looking? Let’s see, an Army captain and a lycan, right?” Kunpai momentarily played at giving it thought. “Nope. The description doesn’t ring any bells.” Omi Kunpai had said very few things that he regretted in life, and he regretted what he had just
said immediately. For someone that hated vicious games, he was certainly excelling at making a shit situation worse.

“Smartass lap pup, aren’t you?” Vance made a melodramatic show of smelling the air. “I smell newborn all over you, boy. I’ll gladly deal with you later. Tell me something. Had any cravings yet, Major? Oh wait. I see you’ve been promoted. How does it feel being the bitch? That’s right. You. A bitch. With cravings. They look tasty, don’t they?”

Kunpai bristled at the insult, but he contained his knee jerk reaction to defend himself against playground taunts.

“We have your boy,” said Hughes, breaking in, “and you can’t have him back. Finder’s keepers, Shepherd.”

“Oh, I couldn’t agree more.” Vance toggled a small hand held radio. “Bring ‘em,” he growled. “Remember what I said about playing a game you can’t afford to lose? You really should’ve just given me my dog back. I would’ve given you yours.”

It was a heart stopping moment. A military deuce and a half truck ground to a halt behind Vance. From the truck’s cargo bed came four of Vance’s soldiers, and three hooded prisoners.

Mitchell couldn’t help her change. It overtook her with all its pain and glory. “You son of a bitch! You goddamn mother fucking son of a bitch! I’ll fucking kill you!” She lunged forward but was restrained by Hughes, Kunpai, Walinski, and Tan.

Mitchell fought against them, viciously trying to get free. “You know who that son of bitch has! Let me go!” Tears stung her eyes and she fought against those as well.

“Who does he have?” screamed Walinski. “Calm down!”

Vance removed the hood from the first prisoner. Walinski’s heart froze before dropping to her feet. It was Demarti. “Oh Lord no,” she whispered.

Kunpai’s grip tightened on Mitchell’s midsection. A harsh low growl came from his throat. He could feel his own transformation spreading through his body. He snarled, “Let him go,” at Vance.

“Oh, ho. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I never knew Captain Demarti was both a ladies man and a man’s man. You swing both ways, Captain?”

Mitchell lurched forward, almost pulling Walinski and Tan off their feet.

Hughes asked for Mitchell’s forgiveness before bringing the grip of his Sig down against the back of her head.

Mitchell’s body relaxed as Walinski and Tan guided it to the ground. Kunpai stood erect, his lips drawn in, his hand tightening on the grip of his M4.

“What do you want?” asked Hughes. He kept the Sig pistol in hand, sorely tempted to shoot Vance where he stood. But to shoot might needlessly end lives.

“You always were either deaf or stupid, Tim.” Vance moved to the prisoners. “And behind door number two we have…” He pulled the hood away, revealing Sims. “And our next surprised guest is…” Lewis was underneath the last hood. “Give me what I want or I kill them in front of your eyes. Each and every one of them.”

Sims looked to Hughes. Anger and sadness filled his eyes. “Sorry, General. Bastard got the best of us.”

“Whoever he’s after, you keep them, sir,” spat Demarti. “Don’t give-“

Vance kicked Demarti in the back, knocking him to the ground. His hands were bound behind him and he couldn’t do anything as Vance fired his pistol.

Hughes didn’t blink, and was silent as Walinski, Tan and Zellar screamed “no” together.

“You have one hour, Timmy boy.” Vance spat on Demarti’s back. “Consider this a good faith payment.” He then ordered his men to load up and fall back. Sims and Lewis were loaded onto the deuce and a half. The truck made a Y turnaround and trundled back toward the other vehicles.

 

*******

 

It was only by chance that Vance had stumbled across Demarti’s column. He had smelled the odors of overworked engines, death, and blood fifteen minutes before coming across the bogged down vehicles. Vance had no idea what lay ahead though he was certain that he could make it work to his advantage.

The vehicle behind Demarti’s Hummvee reported an overhearing engine and that it needed to pull over for inspection. Demarti didn’t like the idea of stopping with less than an hour from Detrick.

He grudgingly called a halt. He knew the vehicle’s engine was in a bad way. Steam poured from under the hood and two soldiers stood over it, waving the hot fog away. The air stank of the sweet smell of boiling antifreeze and acrid burned oil.

“Good thing for me this happened, Captain,” remarked Charles from the passenger seat. “I could use the bathroom break.”

“Don’t stray far,” warned Demarti. “You’ll need an escort too.”

“I’ve got no problem with that.”

Demarti called for a soldier to escort him across the blacktopped highway. “Try not to be longer than ninety seconds, sir,” he called after them. He approached the crippled vehicle, inquiring if it could make it to Detrick.

“We can add more water, sir,” answered the vehicle’s driver, “but in ten minutes or less we’re going to be at it again,” He took a drink from a two quart canteen. Demarti knew that between men and machines overheating, he would always pick a machine over a man any day.

The engine was on beyond salvage, and Demarti knew that. “Understood. You men ride in the Piranha with the Marines. I know it’s crowded, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.”

He looked at the vehicle. It sat askew blocking the vehicle next in line. He was on his way to order the driver to drive it off the road when someone called out, “Hostiles, nine o’clock!”

“What?” exclaimed Demarti. From twenty meters away a rocket streaked out from the brush. It detonated against the Piranha’s wheels, sending burning shrapnel and rubber out wards. The blast pushed the vehicle halfway across the road. A second rocket followed the first. It struck the turret, destroying it before it had a chance to turn toward the incoming fire.

He searched for the female Daytons. His inability to find them melted his worry into fear. “Where’s the Daytons?” he yelled. “Anyone got eyes on the Daytons?”

Several soldiers answered with negative reports. The day had gone from shit to worse. The reason they were out in the boonies had vanished into thin air.

A soldier working the dead vehicle’s .50 caliber machine gun called out that he’d seen them moments after the shooting began. “The women ran off toward where the hubby went to piss. Past that, your guess is as good as mine, Cap’n!”

Demarti yelled obscenities as he broke cover from behind the Hummvee. He tripped over his own feet, cursing himself for his clumsiness. Rounds impacted on the vehicle’s body where he had been. His cursing was quickly replaced with muttered thanks to God. He crawled under the vehicle as machine gunfire kicked up dirt around his feet.

Another rocket took out the vehicle he’d been riding in. He looked to it, knowing that Urbane’s body had been inside. What ammunition had been with Urbane exploded. The smell of burning flesh and hot metal made him want to expel his stomach’s meager contents.

Demarti swallowed the bile in his throat as he went fired his M4 on full auto.

“Where are they?” yelled Lewis, firing his SAW over the Hummvee’s hood. “Who’s shooting at us this time?”

Sims called out target locations, and add, “It’s lycans this time,” he said, dropping beside Demarti. “They sure as hell ain’t friendly either.” He squeezed the M14’s trigger in successions. From Demarti’s right Shelby shouted a suggestion to pull back.

Demarti gave the order to retreat. The fire was too concentrated and as long as they had an exit to the opposite side of the road he would take it.

“Get our wounded and fall back, Colonel Shelby,” yelled Demarti above the din.

“Most were in the Piranha, Captain. We’re what remain,” answered Shelby.

Demarti calculated his assets, and realized that those able to walk were fewer than before. Fall back to the tree line at our current six! Sims, Lewis, and I’ll cover you and the others!”

Shelby crawled to Demarti. “We’ll fall back and cover your exit once we get to safety. Don’t be long.” He patted Demarti’s arm. Even under fire the Brit’s smile made everything seem okay.

“Copy, now go!” Demarti swapped magazines. He threw the empty behind him and zeroed in on the figure that had suddenly appeared in his sight picture. He gave two quick bursts, dropping the enemy in the middle of changing positions.

Shelby assisted a soldier with a leg wound. Bernerd, Mulcahey, and two others ran toward the trees. If it weren’t for their wounded the column would have traveled a more overland route, bypassing the paved roadways. The return journey had been risky to begin with, and hadn’t paid off in the least.

“To the tree line, lads,” screamed Shelby. “We’ll be all right once we make it to the trees. Then we’ll cover Captain Demarti and the others.”

Shelby and the other survivors had gone fifteen feet inside the tree line before being attacked. Seven lycans leapt out and surrounded the six men.

“One time offer only,” said one. “Drop your weapons and the fight is over.” The lycans wore black combat uniforms and were armed, as any soldier would be.

“Piss off,” screamed Mulcahey, firing his L85. His fire impacted a magazine in the vest of the lycan that had spoken. The rounds set off the ammo, sending detonating rounds through the lycan’s body.

Shrapnel struck a lycan on its left. It went down screaming as it clutched its bleeding face.

The denial of surrender outraged the remaining five. They lunged forward. Shelby dropped one, but a second grabbed him, and threw him into the air. Shelby’s finger was still on the trigger. The finger’s position was more accidental than intentional. A three second burst tore into a lycan that grappled with one of the surviving soldiers. The shots instantly killed both.

The second column survivor had had enough fighting. He retreated further into the trees.  A lycan overtook him before he could disappear from within sight of the skirmish. With his last effort of fighting, the solider pulled the pen on a grenade, killing them both. The wetness of the crump it going off made the explosion sound duller than normal.

Mulcahey dropped to the ground, and rolled away from a lycan’s attempt at grabbing him. He fired into its rear end. He was about to finish it, but another grabbed him by his ankle. The first thrashed around, crying out about its wounded ass.

“Fuck taking them alive,” roared the ankle grabber. “And shut up about your ass, Noddingham!” He raised Mulcahey as a cudgel, slamming him into the screaming, fallen lycan.

Mulcahey’s rifle flew out of his hands. Two more times the lycan used him to club its friend.

Mulcahey felt that he would suffocate. The blows didn’t allow him to catch his breath. Then something cracked in his back. The sound was loud and painful, and he hoped whatever it was wouldn’t leave him a cripple.

A burst of automatic fire caught the lycan in mid swing, collapsing its head. It collapsed, sending Mulcahey crashing one final time into the beaten to death lycan.

The last lycan stopped its attack against Bernerd. It stared wide eyed, amazed at how the battle had turned against him and his teammates.

“Now you surrender,” called Bernerd, underneath a lycan. He raised his Beretta to its head. He looked away as he squeezed the trigger. Blood, fur and skull fragments fell to his face. He hoped that none would seep into his ear, infecting him.

Bernerd pushed the body away. He panted heavily from the exertion. “Now that’s how-”

“Shhhh,” called Shelby. He motioned for the Mulcahey and Bernard to follow further into the treed interior. Bernerd and Mulcahey understood the order.

Mulcahey’s back protested the movement. If he stopped they would die, and he wasn’t yet up for that exercise.

They moved as best as they could, and stopped after arriving at what appeared to be a quarry. “What about Cap’n Demarti and the others?” gasped Mulcahey, fighting for breath.

Shelby sighed. “I don’t know. We have to trust that they’ll be fine. We’re in no shape for a rescue.” He looked at Mulcahey. The soldier’s face advertised that pain was up for sale. “What’s wrong, Sergeant?”

“It’s me back, sir.” He grimaced against the pain. “Something snapped there when that poodle used me for a hammer.”

Shots from the former battle space rang out. They looked back in that direction. There were no answering shots. Shelby assumed that whoever had been charge had executed the lycans for their failed mission to capture them.

“They’ll be coming along soon,” said Bernerd. “I think we should duck into that water down there. Might be safer to use it to mask our scent.”

“Good call, Captain,” agreed Shelby. “Can you make there, Sergeant?”

“Still in it, sir. I’ll make it.”

They made their way to the murky gray water. It carried the smell of things that all three dared not imagine, but it offered the best chance for survival.

“Helmet’s off, lads, and gas masks on. If you have earplug with you, now’s the time to use them.” Shelby took his helmet off, and slipped his mask on. He checked the seal and stared at the others.

“All due respect, sir, but what is a mask going to do for us? Water can get in through the filters,” said Bernerd.

“Cut some of your uniforms off , and stuff them into the filters. Afterwards grip the drinking apparatus in your mouth,” Shelby’s voice muffled by the gas mask, “ and hold the end of the drinking tube a tad beyond the surface. Use it to breath.”

Bernerd’s face lit up. “Brilliant, sir.” He donned his and helped Mulcahey.

Mulcahey couldn’t raise his left arm enough to get the mask on. He was thankful for the help, but felt like a he had become a hindrance. Masks on and earplugs in place, they submerged into the stagnant water.

They stayed close to each other near the surface. Even at four from the surface the dark water all but suffocated the light trying to filter in.

Dull machine gun fire echoed around the quarry. It lasted for a minute before deafening explosions took their place. Their pursuers took no chances and had begun lobbing fragmentation grenades into their liquid shelter.

The shock waves shook them and the explosions battered their barely protected ears. Mulcahey receded further into the water than he wanted. Water flowed into his drinking tube and he was near to panic by the time Shelby reached him, putting his tube against Mulcahey’s.

Water splashed into his mouth, followed by Shelby’s breath. Shelby helped the wounded solider back into position.

Grenades and gunfire shook the quarry for another five minutes, and then it abruptly stopped. Ten minutes later, Shelby motioned for them to surface.

Bernerd climbed out of the murkiness first and lifted Mulcahey out with Shelby’s assistance.

Mulcahey collapsed on the rock and clay bank, fighting to breathe while Shelby and Bernerd surveyed the pit’s brim.

“Think they’re gone, sir?” asked Mulcahey, sitting up.

“I’m willing to bet they left some rear guard action.” Shelby raised his rifle to his shoulder. He scanned the top through his Sight Unit, Small Arms Trilux scope. From what he could see nothing moved. “Plan of action is to get our happy asses back to FortDetrick. As far as I’m concerned, the fun is well and truly over.”

“Escape and evasion,” mused Bernerd, looking through his own SUSAT. “No engaging unless absolutely necessary. Standard op crap from here on out, eh?”

“Spot on as usual, Captain,” answered Shelby.

“My back feels funny,” muttered Mulcahey, standing. He wobbled but gained his balance after some effort.

“Ian, you’re on point. I’ll assist Jon.”

“My back’s not that bad, sir,” protested Mulcahey. “I can walk.”

“Now’s not the time to be John Bull, son. You need help and we’re here for you.”

“Thank you, sir, but I want to walk as far as I can.” Mulcahey grinned at Shelby.

Shelby had been correct that he needed help, but like the thickheaded soldier Mulcahey was he didn’t want to be a burden on his team. “I’ll sing out when I need help. Promise.”

“Good on you, Sergeant. I’m holding you to that. Let’s move out. Remember sound discipline. Ready, Ian?”

“Ready here, sir.” Bernerd moved up the man-made rocky ramp. His boots squelched as he walked forward. The sun was setting and he hoped that what night vision goggles they’d packed had been safe in their airtight, water proofed containers.

Mulcahey suffered through the agony his back gave him. His steps were measured and he prayed they wouldn’t have to do any running. He wasn’t sure if he could move any faster than an extremely lazy jog.

They crested the ridge and turned their attention to where they’d entered the quarry. The area appeared deserted, but none would have taken a bet on it.

It took half an hour to recover ground that had once taken six or seven minutes.

The bodies of the lycans they’d fought lay where they had fallen. The wounded had been executed where they fell.

“No time for the wounded,” remarked Bernerd. He checked the bodies for spare magazines. The British L85 rifle took the same magazines as the American M16 and M4, but he found none. The bodies had been stripped of all things useful.

Mulcahey kicked at one of the dead out of frustration.

“Steady, Jon,” warned Shelby. “Don’t want to go pissing off any injuries more than needed.”

“Right, sir,” he answered in a sour voice.

“Now we got you, you rat shit bastards,” came a voice coming from the trees.

Five more of Vance’s black clad warriors appeared from the growing gloom. They moved with a silence that left Shelby envious.

“Weapons on the deck,” said a female lycan. “Now, I’m not going to ask again.” She motioned slightly to the ground with her bayonet fixed M4. Three of the five’s rifles were fixed the same.

“Do it, boys,” ordered Shelby. “Looks like the fight’s over for us.”

As they laid their rifles down another female lycan remarked, “Now’s as good a time as any.” She turned her rifle on a male lycan to her right, and bayoneted him the neck. She swept the blade outward, and bubbling gurgles accompanied by a surprised look illuminated the lycan’s face.

The other two alternated in stabbing the second to death. Both lycans died with a look of surprise etched onto their faces.

Bernerd reached down for his rifle but was stopped by the female pointing her rifle at him. “Don’t,” she urged. “We may have killed these two, but we’re a long damn way from being friends.”

Bernerd righted himself. He stared cautiously at her. “If you’re going to shoot, do it.”

“Speak for yourself, Ian,” said Mulcahey. His pain forgotten, he stood erect, waiting for the shot.

The female lycan that had first spoken resumed her human form. She moved forward to Englishmen’s rifles and kicked them to her friends. She then demanded the three to sit cross-legged on the ground.

“Keep your hands behind your head.” The woman spoke with a slight Texas accent. “We’re gonna have a little palaver.”

The Brits did as ordered. They had little choice in the matter, and each wanted to see where the encounter was going.

“The name’s Abigail Darmond. As you’ve guessed, I work for General Karl Vance. But that’s on the surface. In reality I work for a lycan named Victoria Pegg. She was a colonel in the British Royal Air Force before Vance started his shenanigans. But make no mistake, boys. She hates you pigs almost as much as she hates Vance.”

“Why spare us then?” asked Shelby. “If she hates us as much as Vance then why help us? Why do you even care what happens to us?”

“I said almost. You’re right though. I don’t care much for ya’ll, but what I do care about is not destroying the world. I don’t think we can live alongside each other at any given time. Up to me, we’d still be a secret. But it ain’t up to me and the cat’s outta the bag now, and what Colonel Pegg wants is set things to right.”

“How does she propose to do that?” asked Mulcahey. His vision swam with sudden lightheadedness and he felt himself wobble.

“You’re not doing to well, are you, boy?” Darmond sniffed him. “You’d best get that back of yours looked at. It’s starting to get infected with something. Best do it soon or you’ll end up gimpy.”

“Why do you fucking care? Why tell him what’s wrong with him when you just told us that you could care less about us?” inquired Bernerd.

“I don’t care, but I don’t believe in cruelty for the sake of itself. Your boy’s all messed up, and it’s starting to make my stomach turn. Now fucking listen to me ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once. Me and mine are going to escort you home. Then we’re gonna let you go and you’re going to give a message to your General Hughes. Got it?”

“I understand,” said Shelby, stiffly. “What’s your message? And how did you even know we’d be here to get it? All this seems a little too convenient.”

“You people are like the vampires. Fucking cockroaches scurrying around, doing your thing, oblivious to how you’re spoiling everything around you. There’s no balance to anything anymore. Originally I was supposed to infiltrate your base and hook up with Hughes when Vance sent the sappers in to extract that nerd boy he’s so hot after. We found your convoy instead and that was like a goddamn Godsend to Vance. After that, the plan changed. Now I can get the message to where it needs to be without running the risk of getting my ass shot off. As far as I’m concerned, you get to live and so do I. It’s a win/win situation. Now shut your dick hangar and listen.”

Darmond leaned to Shelby’s ear and relayed the message that Pegg had given her. Her injured side grumbled at position. She was mostly healed from the self-inflicted wounds, but had still volunteered to join Vance’s column. It was a risky venture, but those were the chances Darmond took as Pegg’s go-to woman.

She leaned back and stared at Shelby with her steel blue eyes. “You get that?”

“I’ve got it, Ms. Darmond.”

“My first name is Tech Sergeant, Colonel. Now get up, we’re moving out.” She turned to her comrades. “Clear their weapons. Condition four for each of ‘em.” She turned to her prisoners. “You’ll get full magazines when reach Detrick. I don’t expect you to play nice, but I want your word that you won’t do something stupid like open up on us once you’re home free. It don’t mean much to most folks these days but a person’s word means something to me.”

“You could promise the same to us, but your two mates could,” said Bernerd, taking an empty rifle from the second female lycan. Suspicion filled his voice. “Or you could turn, and rip us a new one, or turn us. Hell anything-“

“Goddamn but you love to talk, don’t you? Now I think you got a pretty voice and if you were like me I’d go out with you, but you need to shut that gapping pussy in your face. Nothing’s going to happen to you so long as I’m around. I’m not planning on dying anytime soon and Parkes and Laskle aren’t either. You’re fucking safe. Now move out before I forget that it only takes one to deliver a message. Now give me your word. Each of you.”

Mulcahey, Bernerd, and Shelby promised they wouldn’t fire at their escorts once they reached Detrick. Shelby was reluctant to follow through with his promise as his word was one of the things he was proud of. Bernerd felt the same, but Mulcahey was sure he’d fire on them if he had a chance. He lived by the all’s fair in love and war rule and he’d give as good, if not better, then he got.

Darmond on the other hand would’ve shot all but Shelby if Bernerd had spoken again. She didn’t have any ill will toward them personally aside from being human. After living for over ninety years she’d seen what mankind was doing to the world, and it sickened her. In some circles, lycan or human, she would’ve been called a tree hugger for her beliefs.

She didn’t think any plant or animal was worthy of needless killing any more than she believed that lycans were superior to humans. Darmond simply recognized that the world couldn’t sustain any more growth. If keeping populations under control meant killing a few million humans and lycans then so be it. In her thinking, Vance was right in a lot of ways but genocide wasn’t anything that she or Pegg wanted a part of. The planet needed all species to live if for no other reason than its own continued survival.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

 

Posted in Dog World Insights, Dog World Press, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

 

FortDetrick’s gates had been empty since the assault by Vance’s people. Sutton and Mitchell took the time waiting for Walinski’s arrival to allow Kunpai to test his new lycan abilities.

All three were changed and save for Kunpai, Sutton and Mitchell ran barefoot.

“Why do I have to wear boots,” groused Kunpai. “My freaking feet are killing me.”

“It’s to get you used to the feel of your feet being restrained by the extended growth,” answered Sutton.

Sutton loped along to Kunpai’s right and Mitchell on his left. The three hurtled over downed trees and brush as they tore through the surrounding woods.

Mitchell added advice as they ran. “From now on you’ll need boots at least a two sizes larger in the event that you need to transform.”

Kunpai’s feet thumped on the forest floor. They ached with each step and he was sure that sooner or later he’d either break a few toes or burst through the suede.

“It’s obvious that you’re stronger than most, but what you don’t know is that sex is going to be a problem.” Mitchell leapt onto a tree and then sprang from it, landing beside Sutton.

Kunpai skidded to a halt. “Hey now,” he growled. “Let’s not go there, all right? My love life isn’t anybody’s business.”

Sutton and Mitchell hadn’t expected his sudden stop. They’d run ten feet ahead before realizing he wasn’t with them. They walked to him, chests heaving with the run’s exertion.

“You’re right,” panted Sutton. Her clawed hands rested on her hips. “It’s your business, but think back to the weight room. Think about what you did there. Now, think about an activity that you normally just go along with. Imagine what you could do.”

Kunpai went to scratch his nose, but ended up smacking his muzzle with his calloused hands. “Damn, that hurts.”

“See what she means?” added Mitchell. “Things you once took for granted no longer apply. You have to be mindful of every move you make, every emotion you have, and everyone you come into contact with.”

“Are you saying that I could kill Tori while we’re…you know? That.”

Sutton and Mitchell exchanged looks. Mitchell shrugged her wide shoulders.

“It’s happened,” answered Sutton. “Sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose.”

“Well do me a favor and don’t take the fun out of things.”

Sutton spread her hands. “Just a warning.”

“Oh, and buy condoms. Lots of them if needed.”

“What the fuck?” exclaimed Kunpai. “Now I’m getting the sex talk from you? What the hell does that mean? ‘Buy condoms’?” He spoke in a mock impression of Mitchell’s voice.

“You can infect Tori, Omi.” Sutton stepped toward Kunpai, and looked him eye to eye. “Oral gratification for both
parties is now a thing of the past unless it’s with another lycan.”

“Hey now,” he said, holding his shaggy arms out. “I like you both, but not like that.”

“Be serious,” said Mitchell, punching his left arm. She pulled the blow just enough to be affectionate while trying to get him to take their words seriously. “This isn’t anything for you shrug off. With great power…”

“Comes no felattio,” finished Sutton. She shrugged her shoulders, and held her palms out once more. “I’m just saying is all.”

Kunpai jerked his head away and rolled his eyes. “This conversation just took a turn for the mucho uncomfortable. How’d we end up talking about things in the first place?”

“I don’t know, but I’m enjoying seeing you blush. It’s kind of cute.” Sutton moved to his side, and slapped Kunpai’s rear. “Nice. Very nice.”

Mitchell laughed with Sutton as Kunpai nervously shifted away from them.

Kunpai wasn’t sure if lycan’s could blush, but he felt his face fill with blood. “And Tori tells me that I’m not right.”

“That’s us,” said Mitchell. “Always wrong and never right.” His lycan face spread into an unmistakable grin.

“Listen,” grunted Kunpai. He looked to the sky. “Inbound helo.”

Mitchell and Sutton looked up as well. Sutton’s left ear perked higher. “I don’t hear anything,” she whispered.

Sutton was about to lower her head when she registered the far off sounds of a helicopter. “Do you hear that, Cameron?”

“I do.”

Both women looked at Kunpai, wondering how he was able to hear it first.

“What?” he asked innocently. “I’ve always had great hearing.”

“Maybe, but now its better than most.” Sutton wanted to perform more tests on Kunpai. Some lycans had better hearing than others, but Kunpai had heard the approach minutes before Mitchell and her.

“Let’s get to the flight deck,” urged Kunpai. “That’s gotta be our girls.”

“You go on,” responded Sutton. “We need shoes first.”

“Right.” He smiled. “I’ll see you shoeless hippies there.”

They watched Kunpai run away. He remained clumsy on all fours, but was still fast.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it odd there’s nothing special about any of us being silver in the past and yet he seems to be?” Mitchell found Kunpai’s developing abilities interesting if not befuddling.

 Sutton crossed her thoughtfully arms. “No, you’re right. Silver’s the albino for us, but him… Omi seems to be maturing at a rate that should be impossible. He’s still clumsy on the move, but am I out of shape or did he not seem bothered on the run? No panting, no tiredness, nothing. In fact, he halted so perfectly that I’d swear he’d been doing it for years if I didn’t know any better.”

“What did you do to him?”

“Nothing that I know of. I guess I elevated him to greatness.”

Mitchell laughed. “Greatness? The newly minted Lieutenant Colonel Omi Kunpai? He’s exceptional, but great? Really?”

“I think so. And that’s what scares me.”

Mitchell didn’t know how to react. Even as they changed on their way back to post, she was at a loss on how to respond. She had no idea why Sutton should be concerned let alone scared, but it worried her. It didn’t worry her enough to lose sleep over, but enough to make her want to assist Sutton’s research.

 

*******

 

The rescue helicopter touched down and Kunpai greeted it. He shook each of their hands, pleased to have them returned in relatively one piece. Hughes’ executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Belle met them as well.

“General Hughes wants an after action ASAP,” snapped Belle.

Kunpai was about to say something rude to Belle but didn’t. He thought that the time had come for him to take Mitchell’s advice on watching himself. He said nothing, surprising even himself, and watched the base XO walk away. “Rude little prick,” he said, giving into the urge.

“What was that?’ yelled Walinski over the sound of the rotors. She twitched her shoulders. Dolly groaned and Clarice gasped as they all realized what had changed about Kunpai.

“Nothing.” Kunpai ushered the women to the hangar.

Once clear of the noise, Tan had to ask about the new rank and his torn uniform. “Get into a fight after getting your new brass?”

Three medics approached Tan and Zellar. Both women were in pain, but were more curious about Kunpai. The medics accompanied them as they walked to the hangar. Neither woman wanted to miss Kunpai’s tale.

Kunpai looked to the three soldiers walking with them. One was a male lycan while the remaining two was male, female, and human. “There’s been a few changes in the time you’ve been gone,” he answered cautiously.

“We’ve only been gone for eight and a half hours, sir,” observed Tan.

“Aren’t you supposed to be gravely wounded or something?” Walinski grabbed Kunpai’s left arm. She stepped in front of him, and turned his head to see his ruined left ear. “What’s this?” she said, stepping back, motioning to his face. “When did you turn?”

Zellar and Tan took a collective step back. Tan’s hand went to her pistol while Zellar rubbed her hands through her hair, exhaling in mild shock.

“He’s a poodle?” asked Tan. Her hand gripped the pistol tighter.

Kunpai looked left and right, annoyed at the proverbial cat being let out of the bag prematurely. “Yes I am. Thank you very much, Walinski spoilsport. I am now, officially, irrevocably a car chasing, ball licking, fetch the stick poodle.”

“He’s okay,” said Dolly. “If he weren’t I would’ve dealt with him myself.”

“With your kind permission I’d like to conduct this little interview in privacy.” Kunpai wasn’t in the mood to discuss any new occurrences in the open air.

Walinski slipped her arm into Kunpai’s. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like what was coming. “So? Are you housetrained or do you need puppy pads? What is the standard length of time to housebreak a poodle anyway?” said Clarice in a mocking tone of sweetness.

“You’re not funny,” scowled Kunpai. “If it’s not blowjob advice from those other two supposed lycan trainers, I’m getting shit from Donna Reed and the walking wounded Brady Bunch. Don’t you have a report to fill out and injuries to have tended? Get them to sick bay,” commanded Kunpai to the medics.

“Maybe so,” answered Walinski, “but this is much more fun. Come on. Buy me a cup of coffee.”

At the medic’s urging, Tan and Zellar allowed themselves to be led to the infirmary. They did so only after Kunpai’s promise to catch up to them later.

“Your turn, Brenda.” Kunpai waved his hand in shooing motions that Walinski ignored.

“So who was it? Mitchell? No. Not her. She’s working on turning Demarti.” Walinski teased. “Oh, I get it. It was Sutton.” She sniffed Kunpai’s ruined ear. He recoiled at her closeness. “Yepper. It was Sutton all the way.”

“And? Look. Did you kill Cotton and that kid that went with you?” Kunpai hoped to change the subject.

“No. Tan and Zellar topped them. I was knocked out the whole time.”

“You got sucker punched? Seriously?”

Yeah and if you tell anyone about it, I’ll make your ears match,” warned Dolly. “By the way,” broke in Walinski, “I thought werewolves were supposed to heal from almost anything.”

“The ear is the almost part. It came off. It was destroyed and there was no bringing it back.”

“Wow. I actually like the scarring. Makes you more… dashing.” Walinski widened her eyes as she spoke.

“Flirty little thing, aren’t you?’

“Not really. Just stating a fact.”

“You seem to be taking the whole Cotton and his kid partner thing pretty well.”

Kunpai looked around, realizing that they had arrived at the commissary. The smell of food hadn’t registered to him until they came to the front door.

“How else should I take it? The guy tried to kill the girls and me. I’m not about to waste tears on him for that.”

“So what now?”

“Coffee and some kind of sugary treat for me.”

Walinski and Kunpai entered the cafeteria and were startled to see it filled to near capacity with civilians. The smell of baked ham and vegetable soup filled the air. A third of the refugees were children. The sight made Kunpai grateful that his family wasn’t in a similar situation.

To Kunpai’s horror he caught himself looking at the adults hungrily. Here and there his rebelling mind picked out which man or woman might be the most delicious.

“I have to go,” he stammered. “I…I need to get some air.”

“Not hungry?” asked Dolly. She sensed a sudden change in Kunpai that alarmed her greatly. “Or maybe you just had a sudden ravenous urge?”

Kunpai’s breath became ragged. “I need to leave.” He walked briskly for the door.

Walinski grabbed his shoulder, stopping him. “It’s harder than you thought, isn’t it? You’ve been okay around people you know and love, but it’s only around strangers, right? Strangers bring it out, don’t they? They bring out the desire to feed. Like they’re the fucking cattle that Vance and his bitches believe the human race to be. Tell me I’m wrong?” There was a pleading need to know in her, they’re, eyes.

“Get your goddamn hands off me, meat.” Kunpai growled deep within his throat. “Get it off or I swear to whatever God may exist that I’ll rip your esophagus out through your ass.”

Dolly didn’t blanch at the threat and her grip tightened on his arm. She had threats of her own to level at the man that all Walinski’s called friend. Her right hand went to the 1911 in her shoulder holster. She saw the change slow in coming.

Clarice and Brenda screamed for her to release Kunpai. “If he turns right here and now it’ll panic the refugees and it’ll be your fault,” they screamed in unison. Dolly wasn’t in the mood to comply. She further tightened her grip.

Kunpai’s lips parted slightly, his eyes narrowed. He reached to her wrist, grabbing it tighter than he wanted. Dolly grimaced, but held tight. “Turn me loose, Chief. Last warning.”

Walinski’s brown eyes replaced Dolly’s lavender one. “Think of the kids, Omi. And get help. I don’t care where you get it, but get it. Otherwise I’ll bury you myself.”

Walinski’s words made him blink rapidly. He looked around the room at the children eating at the long horizontal tables. Some spoke in longing voices to their parents. A few sat alone save for a soldier or another adult that had taken charge of them. The questions that his hearing picked up were split between, “When can we go home?”, “Is Mommy okay?”, or “Where’s Daddy?”

Kunpai released her wrist. Walinski freed his arm once realization of what had almost happened crossed his face.

“I’m sorry, Brenda.” His voice was low and his face showed the emotional devastation he felt. “Please. I need to go.” He rushed through the doors. As they swung shut she saw him moving at a full run.

“I don’t want to kill him,” she muttered aloud as the doors clanged shut.

“Like we do,” said Clarice. “Why didn’t they tell him this would happen?”

“Seems to be a lot of no communication going around these days.

Walinski refused to say anything more. Ultimately she agreed with Dolly. Too many secrets and things left unsaid always had a way of destroying cherished things and peoples’ trust. The world situation merited a new move to nothing being held back. Yet the Walinski sisters knew that it was hard to let go of the old ways. Especially when everything you’d once taken for granted was gone.

 

*******

 

Kunpai ran into the woods that he’d raced through an hour before. He’d gone in deeper than he’d meant to, but it was for the best. He raised his head to the late afternoon sky, howling with rage filled madness.

He paced back and forth, furious at what the world and fate had thrust upon him.

“Son of a mother fucking bitch,” he spat, punching a tree. “Why me goddammit? Why me? I didn’t ask for this shit. None of us did!” He beat against the tree and in time his knuckles split under the blows. The chipped and damaged wood and bark dug into the wounds, but Kunpai refused to acknowledge the pain.

Kunpai ran into the woods that he’d raced through an hour before. He’d gone in deeper than he’d meant to, but it was for the best. He raised his head and howled his fury toward the uncaring late afternoon sky.

He paced back and forth, furious at what the world and fate had thrust upon him. Filled with hate he began punching nearby trees. In time his knuckles split under the blows. The destroyed wood and bark dug into the wounds, but Kunpai refused to heed the pain.

Exhausted he finally collapsed against a battered tree. “Why me?” he grumbled, looking at a nearby skittering chipmunk. The chipmunk stopped, its curious and nervous noises fading in the air. It sniffed the air, but not at Kunpai’s rage, but at something else.

“It’s okay,” Kunpai grumbled to the chipmunk. “I’m done hitting shit so you free to return to whatever you were doing.”

He’d been so wrapped up in his own emotions that he hadn’t noticed Hughes, Sutton, and Mitchell’s nearby scents. Their musty lycan scents stung his nose, and he found it pleasing.

“I was worried for the chipmunk,” said Sutton, emerging from the shadows. “I’d hate to beat you up because you killed the cute little critter.”

“I’m not going to eat it,” answered Kunpai. His strength was returning. He chuckled, looking at his hands’ healing wounds. “I don’t think you could beat me up anyway. You’re a lab jockey. I’m a Marine.”

“You’re acting more like a kicked dog in the street, Colonel,” said Hughes, sitting down beside Kunpai.

“Walinski told us what happened at the DFac.” Mitchell joined them.

“You know what? Being told that little tidbit about the possibility of looking at people like a side of beef would’ve helpful.”

“It’s something you had to find out for yourself,” explained Mitchell. “It’s like the old saying of trying to explain green to a blind man. You had to experience it yourself. No amount of warning in the world could’ve prepared you for the first time it hits.”

“The point is you didn’t give in. You fought it,” added Hughes. “The next time it hits, and there will be a next time, it’ll be easier. Before you know it, the urge won’t even exist. All three of us have tasted a person. That’s a stain you don’t want, son. What’s that saying you Marines use when going through Boot or OCS?”

“Live every day chow to chow and every week Sunday to Sunday.” It was a phrase all Marines, regardless of rank, knew.

“Right. And that applies to now more than ever before.” Hughes patted Kunpai’s knee as he spoke.

“Still would’ve been nice to know.” Kunpai stared at his knuckles. The healing was complete. It was like he’d never bashed any trees to begin with.

“I still want to kick his ass,” said Sutton gleefully. She stood as the others sat. Her hands opened and closed into fists.

The three looked up at her, confused.

“May I ask why, Doctor?” said Hughes, climbing to his feet.

“He’s never had to fight another lycan before. I want to see what he can do.”

“Let me,” volunteered Mitchell. “I’m a soldier. I’ll do it.”

Hughes padded to Sutton, and whispered, “You’re in heat. If I can smell it so can he. Let Mitchell do it. Remember, he’s married…with kids.”

“Who? What? Hold on.” Kunpai was alarmed. “She’s in heat? No fucking way. Uh-uh. This ain’t happening.” He backed into the tree.

“No, I don’t want to mate with you!” laughed Sutton. She gave a quick shudder as she thought about the act. “Okay, maybe a little, but it’s that time of the month anyway. No, no, no on that. He’s my ‘brother’ now. It’s my blood in his veins and I only want to see how he can handle one of us in a fight.”

Hughes looked over his shoulder to Kunpai. “Fine. You can have him.”

“What?” exclaimed Kunpai. “Is this a joke?”

Sutton roared, and leapt at Kunpai. Her speed was amazing. After all he’d seen and done it still startled him. As astonishing as it was he felt his instincts cut in.

Kunpai moved left, avoiding Sutton’s body. She landed where he had been. Kunpai raised his left leg to deliver an axe kick to Sutton’s shoulder, but she moved quicker than he’d expected.

Sutton went to all fours, and jumped away from the kick. With a series of rapid slashes, she tore open the front of his uniform blouse. He felt her nails scrape against his hardened skin.

He balled his right hand into a fist, and moved to punch Sutton in her upturned face.

With the grace of a gymnast she flung her back to the ground, stopping herself with her hands. Swinging both feet into the air, she clipped Kunpai in the jaw. She was shoeless and her toenails racked the underside of his chin. In a stunning display of skill, Sutton allowed the swing’s momentum to carry her to all fours. She held her head high, and a ravenous grin split her face.

Kunpai’s strike hit the tree again. He wondered whose side the tree was really on. He’d done nothing to it yet it had worked against him twice.

“I’m no tactical expert, sir, but I do believe she’s kicking your ass,” chided Mitchell. She and Hughes leaned against another tree, watching. “Is it your plan to beat Sue by bleeding on her? By the way, watch the tree. I think it’s working with her.

Hughes laughed. “Maybe he should move to a pet shop. Lord knows she’s making him her pup.”

Kunpai roared defiance. There was no way he would allow a civilian, even if she were former Air Force, to beat him. He ran at Sutton. Closing with her he threw a series of uppercuts and crosses.

Sutton blocked or ducked his blows. He included kicks in his attack, but she jumped, blocked, or rolled away from those also.

He had thrown another unconnected right cross when he felt her hand reach past his armpit and grab his throat. It was then that she made the only two fighting moves he could understand: a shot to his testicles, and a punch to his diaphragm.

The air left his lungs and his eyes widened. He felt like his eyes were about to bulge from their sockets. As far as he was concerned, either shot would have dropped him just fine.

“You kicked me in the balls,” he whined, sinking to the ground. “Dirty boxing, bitch.” He didn’t mean the insult. He respected her triumph even though he had no idea how she did it.

“I must agree, Doctor.” Hughes was applauding. “As a male the knee was a bit much.”

Mitchell laughed. “Oh boo-hoo. They’ll grow back.” She knelt beside Kunpai. “Are you okay, sir?”

“She kicked me in my man-gina!” The pain was already fading slowly. It was the mental sting that was the worst to bear. He pushed himself to all fours. His breath was returning, but stars still danced before his eyes.

Sutton changed to human form. She brushed her hair from her eyes, revealing sweat on her forehead. The chest of her t-shirt was soaked as well. “I bested you-”

“Bested?” interject Hughes. “I haven’t used that word in that context in over a century. What year are you from?”

“Shhh,” Sutton said, placing a finger against her lips. “Class is in session.” She turned her attention back to Kunpai. “Now, I beat you…” she looked quickly to Hughes, “because you fought with a human will. If you want to win, you fight as what you are, and what you are is a wolf. You fight like a wolf that happens to have human tendencies. Don’t fight with only grapples and punches and the like. You also fight with tooth and nail. You become an animal because that’s what you are.” She moved to Kunpai, and helped him stand. She tensed slightly, expecting a retaliatory punch.

He performed his own transformation to human as he rose. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

“Please do. If you fight against one of us, acting like you’re any old human then you will die. If this had been that type of fight I’d have done more than tag you a couple times.”

“I have so much to learn,” Kunpai groaned.

“If you feel the urge to sample anything past a cow, you come see me,” said Hughes, taking Kunpai’s hand into his. “You think she gave you what for…” he smiled at Kunpai, realizing for the first time that Kunpai’s mind was elsewhere.

A new smell had entered Kunpai’s nose. It was acrid, musty, and had a tangible dirty feel to it. He didn’t know how he knew what the odor was, but he did.

“Roaches.”

The word felt filthy to Kunpai. To him the wooded area seemed to be teeming with them.

“Vampires are in the area, sir. I can smell them.”

Hughes sniffed the air, and he caught their scent as well. It was faint, but there.

“He’s right.” Hughes uttered the words, knowing more than anything else that something he wanted dead was approaching.

Hughes looked at the hand he still held. It was human again. The owner’s face was twisted into a sneer that meant war had been declared.

Hughes pulled a radio from a cargo pocket. “Colonel Belle, Hughes. State base sitrep, over.”

The radio crackled before Belle’s voice came forth. “Belle here. Area’s secured, General. Is there a problem? Over.”

“Go to condition one. This is not a drill. I say again, not a drill. We have hostiles in the area. Out.”

The order to move out didn’t need to be given. The four lycans hurriedly ran through the forest. Halfway back to Detrick they came across five vampires clothed in filthy rags, clustered in a circle. The lycans heard their high-pitched unintelligible babble as they entered the vampires’ line of vision.

Two of the creatures turned, startled by the werewolves approach. One screeched in panic, alerting the remaining three. They looked confused for a moment before attempting to flee. Mitchell leapt onto the one that had sounded the alarm. She tore its throat out with her nails, and then leapt to another.

Hughes took a third as it turned to run away.

Sutton’s target was feeling rather brave. It was clothed in what had once been a red evening gown. She threw the vampire to the ground and began pounding on it with her fists. She found it strange that she should notice the dress.

The dress had once been green, and the red was only old dried blood. She found it fascinating in some strange way. That fascination gave way to a semi-controlled rage.

The vampire’s soft head gave way under her assault. She looked to Kunpai and his vampire.

He held it by the wrists, and was twisting the arms together. The intertwined limbs resembled a rotten Twizzler. The arms made wrenching, ripping sounds as they snapped off at the shoulders. The vampire squealed in pain and then fell silent.

Kunpai held the arms over his head, arched his back, and howled in victory. The bestial scene froze Sutton’s heart for reasons unknown. She’d killed, and seen killed, vampires and lycans before, but there was something different in Kunpai’s case.

“Come on,” urged Hughes. “We need to get back!”

They sprinted off, determined to meet whatever lay ahead.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Ten

I’ve been terrible and derelict in my duties. I haven’t posted a new chapter in a month. Exactly. Bear with me. We’re undergoing some changes here on Planet McKinney, but we haven’t forgotten you, are faithful readers. Here is the latest installment of Dog World: Gone to Hell.

Chapter Ten

 “Timmy boy thinks he’s got this figured out,” whispered Vance. He rose from his chair in the communications room. “Well he doesn’t.” Rage crept into his tone as he looked around the room. The radio that Hughes had found on Rexler was a meant to be found. It transmitted a signal but the real radio had been a micro implant in Rexler’s neck.

The radio signal had transmitted until Rexler’s body was cremated. Letting Collins escape with Rexler had not borne the fruit Vance had wanted. He hadn’t expected Hughes to be so brutal. The risk of letting the tech go had been outweighed by Vance’s certainty that Hughes would accept the young pilot.

Vance felt that he was allowing himself to get too lackadaisical in his operations. He hadn’t known until it was too late that Collins had transmitted the data of sleeper agents to human and Underground forces. Vance had suspected that Cotton was compromised and that he might lose him, but the reward of getting another agent on the inside of Hughes’ group was too great to pass up. Now he had no one on the inside on top of his increasing doubt that the encrypted, time triggered Trojan viruses on Collins’ laptop had gone discovered. Hughes’ hubris caused him to perform against type.

“Arnolds,” he snapped at a nearby soldier monitoring satellite communications. “Get the roach wrangler and Lieutenant Colonel Pegg to my office immediately.”

Vance left for his office; content that Arnolds would do as instructed. Within three minutes a lean, muscular female and a slight unassuming male entered his office.

Vance looked the two over appraisingly. Of all the lycans he’d known, these two were the ones he kept close and a close eye on.

As far he knew, both harbored a hatred of humans that bordered on sociopathic. They were aggressive when it came to performing their jobs and both had flair for brutality that Vance was certain could be turned on him at a moments notice.

The female lycan, Lieutenant Colonel Pegg, and the male lycan, Oliver Dabney, stood quietly in front of Vance’s desk. Vance stared quietly at them.

“Lieutenant Colonel,” he said finally. “What’s the status on locating the three little pigs?”

“We’ve got a ground team moving to intercept. They appear to be traveling on a west by northwest track, but they’re clever pigs.” Pegg’s voice never ceased to surprise Vance. She sounded like a phone sex operator with a hint of grating glass underneath. “They’re well versed in escape and evasion, even against us. Our people will pick up a scent only to lose it a few yards later. I believe they’re masking their scent somehow.”

“Well fix it and fast, Colonel. I want that pilot bitch and I want her forty-eight hours ago. She’s the most valuable of the three.”

“The order to shoot the two with her still stands, sir?”

“That goes without saying. They’re worthless. This bears repeating, Colonel. You bring me a corpse and I can assure you that not even DNA tests will be able to ID your body.”

“Understood, sir.”

Vance eyed Pegg suspiciously. As good as she was he had grown paranoid since Collins had performed his double cross. Could Pegg be allowing the three through the net? Were there others like Collins looking for Walinski, Tan, and Zellar with the intent of letting them escape instead of capturing them? It was at times like this that he had no doubt Stalin was justified in purging the very navy that had put him into power.

“Mr. Dabney. I need you to wrangle up some roaches for me. I need fifty of the most emotionally unbalanced critters you can find.” Vance didn’t understand why he spoke to Dabney differently from everyone else.

Oliver Dabney was a civilian, but that wasn’t the reason Vance treated him differently. He’d found Dabney through law enforcement channels in Australia. Dabney was well on his way to becoming the most notable serial killer in human history. He would have had a more infamous form of notoriety if his lycan nature had been exposed. That is if he’d been captured. Dabney was a different kind of sickness. He enjoyed hunting humans, lycans, and vampires alike. The man loved to kill and the competition of brutality Dabney provided was something Vance wanted to keep close, hence his recruiting Dabney for the organization.

The slight man raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Why so many if you don’t mind my asking, boss?” Dabney’s voice was the opposite of Pegg’s. It was high pitched and harsh on the ears. Vance often pondered why he couldn’t bring himself kill the lycan on that basis alone.

“We’re making a trip, and I need the expendable element more than I need our people. Is it a problem to gather so many from the pens?” Vance hoped the low growl in his voice would startle Dabney, but it didn’t. Dabney continued looking at Vance with his trademark vacant stare.

“No, sir, boss. Won’t be a problem at all. I can get fifty easy. I’ll need troops to help keep them in line though.”

“You’ll help with that, Colonel. Make sure he gets what he needs.”

“Roger that, sir,” answered Pegg.

“Dismissed. Both of you.” Vance waved a hand at them.

Pegg snapped to attention and gave a salute that irritated Vance while Dabney flicked the brim of his battered cowboy hat to him. Both left to him brood on what he was planning to do.

Vance’s plan daring but at the same time he was bored. It had been almost a week and he was already becoming complacent with being a world ruler. The excitement hadn’t lasted as long as he’d expected. His plans would fix that nicely though.

 

*******

 

The extraction of Walinski and the others occurred without incident. During their travels, Zellar couldn’t escape the feeling of being followed.

Being on point gave her a chance to keep her guerrilla skills sharp. More than once she stopped them, sure that somewhere within two hundred meters multiple sets of eyes watched them. She’d given the signal to halt and get low five times in the first hour of their journey.

Each time she and the others visually swept the area, certain that an attack was imminent. None came, but Zellar was confident that hostiles loomed at the razor’s edge, straining for the order to attack. None came and that made Zellar all the more paranoid. “Is it really paranoia if you’re truly being stalked?” she muttered more than once.

Time and again she gave the clear sign and they moved forward toward the extraction site. By the time they arrived, Zellar was keenly attuned to her surroundings.

Urban warfare was vastly different from fighting in a wooded area, but the basis was the same: Know your surroundings. Listen to anything out of the ordinary. Animal sounds are your best alarms. The problem was once they left the helicopter animal sounds had become scarce. It was like the wildlife were watching what was watching them.

A Marine Corps Huey touched down, accompanied by three friendly Cobras. The sight of the helicopters set Tan and Zellar on edge. The memory of two of their kind trying to kill them was too fresh.

The three took position at the doors as the helicopter rose into the morning light. No one spotted movement below nor did any gunfire or rockets scream at them from concealed positions. Still, all three knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that in the last hour of their trek they’d been observed on two different sides.

Below, watching the helicopter rise, were six lycans. The six were the team that Vance had sent to intercept the female soldiers. They maintained position away from the three. The refrained from attacking under Pegg’s orders.

“Accalia Six, Hunley two-six. Do you copy, over?” The leader of the hunting party watched the helicopters until they faded over the horizon.

The leader, a female lycan named Abby Darmond, had never taken her eyes off of Zellar. She couldn’t solve the puzzle of how Zellar had known about their presence. Four of the five times Zellar had called halt, she’d been correct that the lycan hunting party was nearby. Of those four, three times Zellar had looked directly at her. Even at 120 meters away, Zellar’s sight had somehow rested on Darmond.

Darmond’s blood ran cold the second time they’d locked eyes. She was sure they’d been spotted. She was also sure that Zellar couldn’t have seen her. She was convinced of it. The first time gave her heart a start.

“How can a human know we’re here,” wondered Darmond. “It’s inconceivable.” The second time Darmond was sure the literal jig was up. She breathed easier once they moved on, but the subsequent times left her feeling vulnerable in ways she’d never experienced. In her mind, Zellar was as big a threat as Walinski.

Pegg’s voice came over the radio, pulling Darmond from her thoughts. “Hunley two-six, Accalia Six. Standing by for sitrep, over.”

“Targets have been extracted,” reported the male lycan leader. “No contacts to report. Am standing by for further orders.”

“Initiate alpha contingency. You know what to do. Accalia Six, out.”

The team leader handed the receiver back to his radioman. “Wait here,” he said, moving to the edge of the brush that concealed them. Thirty-five meters away sat the three other team members that had lain in wait.

He rushed to their position, sliding to a stop in front of them. “Alpha contingency is a go,” he said to the fire team leader.

“Roger that,” answered the female soldier. With no consideration whatsoever so turned her squad automatic weapon on the two soldiers with her.

Both men died with a look of utter surprise as the machine gun fire tore through their bodies.

“Cover right, I’ll flank left.” The leader said moving away from Darmond. He toggled his radio, screaming that enemy infantry had compromised their position. “Hostiles, left flank,” he bellowed, and fired his rifle away from his original position. “Contact! Contact!”

The two left behind quickly broke cover, changing as they ran toward the sound of the guns. “What’s the enemy numbers,” called one over the radio. “What’s their disposition? Over!”

“Enemy numbers are-“ began the male. He sighted in on the farther of the two and fired a burst. The rounds hit the soldiers face, reducing it to pulp. The one in the lead turned swiveled his head to look at his fallen friend. He died running as the female fired on him with her SAW. The rounds cut him to shreds and he fell with a terrible sound, firing his weapon.

The male and the female left their positions. They walked to the last to fall, and the male poked the lycan with the muzzle of his weapon. The dying lycan’s last word was “Why” before the male fired a round into his face.

“Call this in,” he said, turning to Darmond. “Alpha contingency accomplished.”

“Not yet it’s not.” Darmond fired her unholstered pistol into his head. She watched with icy eyes as his body slumped to the ground.

She reached into a pouch, and retrieved a radio. “Accalia Six, Aria one-one. Alpha accomplished. Moving onto Bravo. Out.” She tucked the radio away and moved to the dead RTO. She flipped him onto his front and switched the radio off. Distraction was not part of the coming action.

She moved to each fallen soldier, taking an occasional grenade and/or spare magazine from their gear. She hurriedly taped up the safety levers to four grenades and pulled the pins once satisfied that the tape would hold the levers in place.

She picked up the M16 rifle from the lycan she’d killed last, as well as the rifle from the lycan he’d killed. She laid rifles close to the bodies after making sure that the magazines were a quarter to half full and then dropped empty magazines around the bodies.

With her subterfuge complete, Darmond pulled out her map and calculated her position, taking care to memorize it.

She breathed deeply, knowing that the easy work was over. The hard part to come was what worried her.

Calmly she propped her weapon into a limb, the barrel facing her left midsection. She began transforming and searched for the perfect sized branch. Halfway through her transformation, she positioned her body a foot from the barrel and pushed the trigger with the branch.

The pain was excruciating as the assault weapon’s burst impacted or grazed her side. She collapsed, grabbing the hot barrel of the weapon for support. It fell on top of her as she sank to the ground. “Jesus Christ,” she moaned as the pain seared itself into her mind.

Her body was caught between healing as a lycan while transforming back to human. She made sure to retrieve gather the spent brass even as her vision blurred. Wobbly she made her way to the radio, dropping the shell casing onto the ground.

Nestling the handset into her helmet she picked up her SAW with her right hand. The pain screamed at her as she squeezed bursts into the air. Switching the radio back on, Darmond screamed about her ambush.

“Echo four, Sierra six, do you copy? We’ve been hit by a counter-ambush! Neilson and Prentice are down! Do you copy, Echo four? I say again, we’ve been counter-ambushed!” As she spoke she fired her SAW and one of the rifles into the air. Her nail sliced through the tape on a grenade. The lever flew off and she tossed it for added effect. The pain of the movement was excruciating, but she had to get lower as the grenade went off closer than she had her intended throw.

“Copy, Sierra six. What is your status, over?” The answering voice wasn’t Vance’s, so the female lycan could get away with what she was about to say.

“Are you fucking stupid? We’re under attack!” She read off the pre-memorized grid reference as she fired a burst from the M16, and another from the SAW. Tossing the spent M16 aside she threw another grenade, and then another. “Request immediate air support and evac,” she screamed. “I say again, request…” she toggled the radio off in mid sentence.

She stood, exhausted from blood loss. She repositioned the radioman into a sitting position and fired her last burst of the morning. It destroyed the radio. The rounds knocked the lycan’s body face first into the dirt.

Darmond shambled to her original hiding spot in the tree line, dragging her weapon along. She collapsed to her knees, and removed the hand held radio. “Accalia Six, Aria one-one. Bravo accomplished. Out.” With her last amount of strength she tossed the radio into nearby underbrush.

 

*******

 

Hughes stared at Collins from across his desk. Both men had sat in silent since entering the office. Hughes was taking his time appraising the young lycan just as much as Collins did with Hughes.

Finally Hughes spoke almost congenially. “So, what brings you to FortDetrick, Captain Collins?”

“I thought it was the end of the world, but what do I know?” Collins tone held bitterness and defiance.

Hughes laughed. It bordered between hollowness and insidiousness. “Fair enough. Now my next question is what can we do for each other?”

Collins reached into his flight suit’s left breast pocket. The two MPs behind him moved forward, rifles pointed at Collins’ head. Hughes waved them back as Collins froze.

“Please. Finish what you were about to do.” Hughes no longer smiled widely, but the small grin was hard to miss.

Collins produced a flash drive. “This,” he said, leaning forward,” contains the remaining names of sleepers within the remnants of humankind’s governments.”

Hughes plucked the drive from Collins’ hand. He held it up to his office lights, turning it over as if it were a rare gem. “This could come in handy if what you say is true. More so if it doesn’t contain something that will compromise my installation. You know we have our own lycan sniffer on station, don’t you, Captain?”

“I do. Our…” Collins hesitated at the use of a word that no longer applied. “That is, Aberration intel suggests that Chief Warrant Officer Walinski is only ninety percent effective. She can be fooled or thrown off track with the proper mental conditioning. What I’ve just handed you is one hundred percent effective.”

“We’ll see. On an up note I do want to thank you for the intel you provided when this mess started.”

Collins sat still, looking at Hughes, confused about what he was being thanked for. “Intel? General, I didn’t provide anything to you before now.”

“Hmmm? Really? That wasn’t you?”

Collins couldn’t read Hughes’ expression. It appeared to be one of indifference, but could have been contemplation instead.

“Do you have any idea who did send it then?”

“It was Ella Daughtry.” Collins’ head dipped for a moment. He jerked it back up.

“And she is?”

“’Was’ is the best way to put it. She sent the information to you before hanging herself over Vance’s desk.” Collins’ voice was sober as he recounted what had come next.

“She sounds like a remarkable woman. Human?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, her death won’t be in vain. And if her actions elicited that strong of a reaction from Vance then I owe her more than you know.” Hughes stared at Collins for a time that felt like hours.

Collins had no issues with breaking the silence. “What else do you want from me?”

“I want to get into his network.”

“I can do that.”

“I’m sure you can, but I have zero assurances that you’re truly a defector. For all I know you could be a sleeper yourself.”

For both, the psychological war of lycan will and intentions had been a long running game.

“If I was, I’d be dead and you know it.”

Hughes scoffed. “Maybe I’m keeping you around for-”

“For what? Torture? You could, but then you’d have no way of knowing that the intel I’d give you would be any damn good. No, sir, General. You’re keeping me around because you trust me. You have to trust me and you know for a fact.”

Hughes rolled his aching shoulders. He didn’t know whether to admire Collins’ pluck or dislike him because he had called his bluff. Hughes knew that anyone closely associated with Vance would have stones made of titanium. Hughes settled on liking Collins. “You win this round, kid.”

Hughes rose from his seat and extended his hand. “Welcome to the Underground, Captain. Make no mistake though. You double cross me or my people and I’ll end you like I did Lieutenant Redwall.”

“Rexler,” corrected Collins. He stood and took Hughes’ hand.

“Whatever.” Hughes smiled.

Collins looked at the smile and knew that if a fight came down between Vance and Hughes, then he’d put his money on Hughes. The grin made Hughes look as evil as Vance. It gave Hughes the appearance of a cornered dog that was fully capable of doing anything to break free.

The game was on and Collins hoped he could deliver on Hughes demands. The problem with being the best was staying the best. Being such meant that you’d have to stay on top of your game and constantly be looking over your shoulder.

 

*******

 

Charles Dayton first heard the cacophony of battle in the distance. Even though the sounds had been well over two miles away, to him it might have been at the front door. “Maddie, get Lucy to the room.”

In the back of the main bedroom was a small, well-stocked panic room. It had been built by a contractor friend with the intention to sustain a hit from a 40mm high explosive grenade. Dayton wondered for the first time if the walls would be enough to protect his family. It was commissioned for a “what if” he’d hoped would never come.

Madeline Dayton moved toward their daughter Lucy. The slight twelve-year-old girl resisted her mother’s touch. “No,” she screamed before demanding a weapon.

“Not going to happen,” answered Maddie. “You’re going to stay out of harm’s way. Do you understand, young lady?”

Far off the sound of 20mm guns barked, chasing the sound of an explosion.

“Mom, I want to fight. I want to protect you and dad.” Lucy was small for a girl her age, but she had the strength of a lower class weight lifter. And her mother was far stronger.

Charles joined the conversation by placing a gentle hand on Lucy’s shoulder. “Listen to your mother, Lucy. You get to safety. If worse comes to worst, you’ll get your a gun. I promise.”

Charles then moved from window to window, looking for any indication of approaching unfriendly forces. He’d known Demarti and the others were coming to evacuate them, but hadn’t expected them to be welcomed in such a way.

In the past few days he’d seen no activity indicating that they’d been discovered. He wasn’t confident that the battle involved Aberration forces though he could think of no one else that would be engaging the relief forces.

“No, I won’t,” defied Lucy once more. “Mom’s got a gun and she’s ready to fight. I want to help.” She crossed her arms and defiantly stood against a wall separating the living room from the kitchen.

“Here take this then,” relented Charles. We can’t have you being stubborn and unarmed in a fight.” He slid a Glock 23 to her.

With knowing hands, Lucy dropped the magazine and checked the chamber. It had been loaded and she swiftly snatched the .flying 40 caliber round from the air.

Charles smiled at Lucy and the scowling Madeline as he moved to the front windows. Charles looked out a window and felt sick at the sight of smoke drifting over the treetops. He knew at that moment his family’s rescuers were having a difficult time reaching them.

“Did you hear that?” asked Maddie.

“Engines,” he answered.

The sound wasn’t close enough for human ears to hear, but the Daytons heard it clearly. The area beyond the house had gone quiet save for the roar of approaching motors. The revving vehicles stopped and Charles swore that he’d heard a collision of some kind.

Ten minutes later the sounds of revving engines resumed their cadence.

Charles lifted his scoped G33 to his shoulder. Two Hummvees jumped into the scopes reticule. “They’re coming,” he muttered to Maddie.

As practiced, Maddie took a firing position in the den, and sighted in with her M40 sniper rifle. An M16A2 leaned against the wall beside her. Maddie Dayton had trained hard to be a better shot than her husband and had succeeded. The assault rifle stood ready as back up in case of an interior breech. In the house, the bolt-operated sniper rifle would be useless.

She looked at the lead Hummvee, blinking to make sure that she’d seen correctly. “It’s Patrick,” she shouted happily.

“Who?” Charles was confused by her declaration.

“It’s Lieutenant Lewis. And Captain Demarti is with him!”

Charles moved to another window. He looked at the passenger seat of the first vehicle. The sight of Demarti gave him ease he hadn’t felt in days. He looked to the vehicle’s turret and spotted Sims manning the machine gun. The sight of the friendly lycan eased his mind completely.

Troops secured the home’s exterior as Demarti leapt up the steps two at a time. His booted feet clumped heavily, coming to a stop at the door. Charles rushed out, and shook his hand.

 “What’s your sitrep, Captain?” Charles looked to the two Hummvees. He instinctively knew there should have been more vehicles.

“We’ll brief you on the way, sir, but right now we have to leave. I’m calling this area a hot zone and extraction is the priority now. Please, Mr. Secretary, gather your wife, child, and whatever you need. You’ll be in the second vehicle and we’ll be wheels up in five.” Demarti spoke urgently. He went down the stairs as quickly as he’d come up, shouting to the men that they’d be leaving in less than five minutes.

The Dayton’s gathered what they couldn’t live without, and mounted the vehicle in less than three minutes.

On the way out, Demarti informed Charles of the ambush by friendly troops and the prisoner they’d taken.

Charles was stunned by the news. He’d thought he’d smelled people close by, but the scent was faint and enigmatic. He’d assumed that whomever had been about had simply moved on.

Charles looked out the rear window and his breath caught in his throat once he saw the still Urbane.

Charles looked to Demarti. “Is he going to make it?”

Demarti looked up to Sims, who’d bent down into the passenger compartment.

“He died about four minutes ago.” Sims voice held an uncharacteristically solemn tone. “I’m sorry, sir.” Sims returned to the gun’s position.

Charles wanted to howl, wanted to lash out at any and all nearby. Leonard Urbane had been his friend for far more than a century. The loss was almost more than he could bear.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Nine

I’m sitting here, working on Dog World: Reclaiming Hell Book one, listening to the opening theme to High School of the Dead (Writing a werewolf book while listening to a rocking zombie apocalypse theme is weird, right?) when it hits me; it’s been two weeks since I released a chapter of Dog World: Gone to Hell. Totally my fault guys! I seriously apologize. Here you go, and until next time, stay delicious my human peeps!

 

Chapter Nine

Hughes smelled Kunpai and the others well before his adjutant opened the door to announce them.

He’d been expecting Kunpai from the moment he had sent Walinski out on her mission. Hughes had felt remorse at the entire deception.

“What can I do for you, Major?” said Hughes, leaning back into his chair, and rubbing his eyes. It had been four days since he’d slept.

“Permission to speak freely, sir?” Kunpai stood at the position of attention. He looked odd as he stood before Hughes’ desk wearing boxer shorts and an OD green tee-shirt. Even dressed as he was, he still looked like a Marine.

“Have you come to give me an earful, Major?”

Kunpai repeated his question.

“Easy Omi,” said Jeanue, touching his arm.

“I’m fine,” hissed Kunpai. Again he repeated the request.

Hughes relented by waving his hand nonchalantly to Kunpai. “I say again, Major. Have you come to give me an earful?”

“All due respect, General, but what were you thinking? You sent three of our people out with one confirmed lycan and one suspected lycan to the middle of nowhere and expected what? For them to execute Cotton and his little bitch, and for that to be that?”

“That’s exactly what I expected to happen, Major. I expected my people to act accordingly to the articles of war, and to follow all lawful orders. Now, I’m not in the habit of advising or even explaining myself to subordinates, but I’ll make an exception just this one time.” Hughes joined his hands together and leaned against his desk. “At 0130 today I received an encrypted transmission from an only until then unknown source. The source appears to be an Aberration defector. The defector provided names and before unknown locations of combat units operating in this hemisphere. Why this lycan didn’t give us locations to eastern hemisphere operations is unknown. But, and I stress but, his intel was solid. An hour later I transmitted the received information to the remaining forces we are still in contact with. At 0400 I instituted a lockdown of this installation, placing numerous individuals under arrest. Said individuals have been executed.”

“Then why send Cotton out with Walinski? Why not arrest him with the others?”

“Capt. Cotton was in direct contact with Vance. He was the handler for this installation and I wanted him as far removed from the others as possible. Sending him out with Walinski before I instituted the lockdown was the best way to get him to go without suspecting anything. Making him believe that he could get Mr. Dayton and Walinski in one fell swoop was vital to securing Vance’s stooges with little to no bloodshed. We lost two good pilots and two birds in this gamble. We couldn’t afford to lose either as it was, but we did. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I regret the loss of those two lycans in the Apache? You bet your ass I do, Major.” Hughes leaned back in his chair once more. He kept his left hand on the desk, drumming his fingers, waiting to see Kunpai’s reaction.

Kunpai said nothing. He blinked at Hughes, letting the information sink in. He knew that Hughes wouldn’t lie to him or the others any more than he’d put people in needless danger. Finally he spoke. “I’m sorry to bother you, sir. Has an SAR bird been deployed?”

“It’s overland all the way. The column left ten minutes ago.”

“Permission to catch up and join the column?” Mitchell and Kunpai spoke together.

Hughes stared at them, continuing to drum his fingers on the desk. “Go ahead,” he sighed. “You’ll only chase after them anyway if I say no.”

“Sir,” they both responded, and turned to leave.

“Kunpai,” Hughes said, opening a desk drawer. He pulled two wooden boxes from a drawer and rose from his chair. He walked to Kunpai and stopped. “You were due these five days ago. Unfortunately we’ve had a few things come up in that time.” He opened a box, looked at it, closed it and then opened the second. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Colonel.”

Kunpai stared at the silver oak leaves. It took a lot to make Kunpai speechless and the promotion had done just that. “Sir…”

“It’s informal and you’re not in uniform, but what the hell. You’ve been a light colonel for five days. It’s my fault you’ve been out of uniform. Matter of fact, so has Major Demarti. His promotion came two days before yours.” Hughes gave the box to Kunpai. “You’re his CO now, and I’m pretty sure he’d be proud to get these from you.”

“Thank you, sir.” Kunpai didn’t know what to say. He’d given up on a promotion almost two years earlier.

“Whatever, Lieutenant Colonel. Get out of here and bring our girls home.”

“Aye, sir.” Kunpai and the others left, leaving Hughes to deal with another problem. He hadn’t figured out what to do with the defector Leland Collins and his “chauffer” Daria Rexler. He’d have to come to a decision sooner or later. He was sure that if the worst-case scenario occurred no amount of bright and shiny collar devices would soothe things over.

 

*******

 

Collins and Rexler were less than a hundred miles away from FortDetrick when two contacts appeared on the Eagle’s radar. The aircraft were on an undeniable intercept course. “Contacts twenty miles out and closing,” called Rexler over the intercom. “No hailing signals so I’m considering them hostile.”

“Um, what are you going to do?” asked Collins. He hadn’t handled the ride well. He knew he’d blow the literal chunks if the aircraft went into evasive moves.

“I’m hopefully going to outrun them. You okay with that?”

“Not really. I had a big dinner.”

“Too bad because they’re now ten miles out.” Her voice became more serious. “Unidentified aircraft on bearing one eight zero, squawk ID and intentions, over.”

“On guard, Air Force Eagle, this is Gazelle one-seven-six-four, you are to decrease altitude to 1500 AGL and turn to on bearing one six-niner and land at FortDetrick on runway three. If you do not comply we will knock you out of the sky. Over.”

The two aircraft zoomed by, closer to the Eagle than Collins liked. In his mind a collision was imminent when they peeled off. One took position on the F15’s right, the other on the left.

“Good goddamn,” exclaimed Rexler. “Those are Raptors.”

“And? So?” Collins turned to see where the two war birds. The sleek aircraft had a beautiful yet lethal look to them.

“And so nothing. If I try to engage them, it’s over. The Eagle’s a good bird, but there’s no way I can survive one Raptor, let alone two. Especially if there are better jockeys then me at the stick.”

“Aren’t we going to Detrick anyway?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think they’d be this pissed at us.”

“Air Force Eagle tail number three-four-three-seven, acknowledge or you will be fired upon. Over.”

“Gazelle one-seven-six-four, Eagle three-four-three-seven, acknowledging new course of one six niner, descending to 1500 AGL on approach to runway three. Raptor, my call sign is Limper, over.”

The Raptor on the left edged closer. Collins and Rexler could see the pilot clearly now. The pilot spoke in a tense male voice as it addressed Rexler. “Air Force Eagle, do I look like I give a flip what you’re called?” The Raptor angled its belly to them, allowing Collins and Rexler to see the full missile racks. “All I’m concerned about is you doing as ordered. Stand by for Detrick tower to talk you in. Out.”

The Raptor resumed its watch over the Eagle. The intercom came alive again with a woman’s voice directing Rexler’s landing.

“Be ready for the welcome wagon,” added Rexler, decreasing the F15’s altitude. Moments later they made a perfect landing, taxiing to where they where directed. A line of Hummvees met them as the Raptors resumed their overhead combat air patrol.

Collins and Rexler climbed down the ladders positioned by the ground crew. The airmen moved quickly away from the aircraft as soldiers surrounded it. The F15 was called secured and the Raptors turned to on their approach.

“Stay still. Hands on the top of your head and do not move,” called a soldier. It wasn’t the welcome that Collins had hoped for.

The soldier that had given the order, a female staff sergeant, moved to Collins and Rexler with three others. The defectors were disarmed with practiced ease. The female soldier relieved Collins of his laptop and handed it to Hughes. “Prisoners are disarmed, sir.”

“Excellent work, Sergeant.” Hughes moved toward the prisoners. He addressed them, giving his name and rank before asking for theirs.

“First Lieutenant Daria Rexler. 322nd Interceptor Wing”

“Captain Leland Collins. 601st Army Intelligence Analysis Battalion.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Captain, Lieutenant.” Hughes looked to Rexler. Her face was filled with disgust. She glared at Hughes in something more than defiance. Hughes grunted and pulled his Sig Sauer pistol from its holster, and shot Rexler between the eyes.

Collins gasped, eyes snapping shut in expectation of being next. He heard collective sharp intakes of breath from other soldiers. Most had not expected Hughes to act as he had though it was clear that some had.

Hughes holstered his weapon and stepped to Collins. “You’re fine, Captain. Open your eyes. I’m not going to shoot you. Lt. Rexler was a traitor and got what she deserved.”

Collins looked to Rexler’s body. A pool of blood had formed from the back of her head, and pooled around her helmet. “Oh my God,” he said breathlessly. “Oh dear God. What have you done? Why did you…?”

“I received word that before take off she sold you out. In selling you out she also gave the initial impression that she’d turned on Vance as well. I can appreciate sticking your finger in Vance’s eye, but to do it because you have no choice is something I can’t tolerate. She was a traitor to both sides and as far as I’m concerned she’d turn on us…again.”

“You fucking shot her! She was unarmed!”

“And how would that have been any different from a firing squad?” Hughes appreciated the lycan’s morals and wondered how he’d gotten mixed up with Vance in the first place. “Do me a favor, Captain. Lower your hands.”

Collins had forgotten his raised hands, and did as instructed. His hands shook with nervous fear and simple anger. He heard rustling behind him and was fearful that Rexler hadn’t died, but was still alive and transforming. He cautiously looked over his shoulder and found two soldiers searching her body.

“We’ve found this, sir,” said one. “It appears to be a transmit only job.” The soldier handed a thin black one inch tall box to Hughes.

Hughes turned it over in his hands as he examined it. He grinned at it. “I know you heard everything, Karl. I’ve got your boy and you’re next. I promise you.” He dropped it to the ground and stomped on it. “Burn the body,” said Hughes to the two soldiers that had performed the inspection. “We know the cause of death so all that’s left is disposal.” He looked back to Collins. “Now, let’s get you settled in and acquainted with everyone.”

Hughes handed the laptop to a nearby soldier, ordering him to give it to his tech experts. He wanted a full sweep of it to make sure that Vance hadn’t compromised it.

Collins climbed into an open air Hummvee with Hughes and two other soldiers. Cold sweat tickled the back of his neck as it dripped into his flight suit. He hoped that he hadn’t made the second biggest mistake of his life.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Dog World Insights, Dog World Press, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

 

The Apache assumed a covering pattern as the three soldiers from Walinski’s Blackhawk dismounted to begin their search. Walinski waved to them before giving a smile and thumbs up. Tan returned both gestures before taking position behind Isling and Tan.

Tan disappeared into the brush with Isling and Zellar. Each held their rifle at the ready, prepared for any trouble as they searched for Dayton. Both women kept a safe distance between each other. Tan walked point, six feet in front and to the right of Zeller while Isling kept to the rear left.

Tan’s body tingled with nervous anticipation. She didn’t like the idea of their rear being covered by someone unfamiliar.

Isling had been quiet the whole trip, and only spoke when spoken to. He was very hard for either woman to read. He was aloof yet and kept to himself, but his attitude had changed once their boots had touched the ground. He became jumpy and irritated. It didn’t take long for Tan to grow impatient with him.

They walked down a small overgrown slope to another open field and Tan called a halt.

“Chief, we’ve got nothing on our end.” Tan spoke into her mic while shrugging at Zellar.

“Roger that,” answered Walinski. “Goose egg here as well. Search the area for another five and return if nothing pops up. Give me a radio check in two. Understood?”

“Understood, mother,” answered Tan.

“Maintain radio discipline at all times. Out.”

“Meow,” joked Zellar, joining Tan. “The bitch is back.”

Isling remained six feet behind them. He appeared more intent on watching the women than searching for anything.

“There’s nothing here.” Zellar looked to Isling as she spoke to Tan. “There’s got to be a mix up on the coordinates.”

“You sound pretty sure, Carla.”

Zellar shrugged. “You’d think so, right? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the coordinates. I’ve never flown with Walinski, but she doesn’t strike me as someone that gets land zones wrong.” Zellar cast a look to the forested area. She was tired of being around trees and grass. The more she stood looking at the trees, the more she longed for city settings.

“Then why are we here? Hm?” Tan looked to Isling. He had been examining the area as Zellar had, but now he seemed more intent on keeping an eye on her and Zellar.

“Gloria, this stinks,’ said Zellar in a low voice. “You notice how Isling hasn’t joined us?”

“It’s a little hard to miss. He looks pissed.”

“Bring it in, guys.” Isling spoke in a forced throaty growl, approaching them. “I think we’re on a wild goose chase.”

“Chief says we look for another five, so that’s what we’ll do, Corporal.” Tan walked to him. “You’ve been antsy as shit since we touched down. What’s your deal?”

With deft hands Isling disconnected his rifle from its sling with one hand while backhanding Zellar with the other. Quickly he unsheathed his bayonet, intent on using it on Tan.

Tan moved to tackle Isling, but was thrown to the ground. Her rifle butt dug into her armor under the armpit and she heard, and felt, something crack. She flipped over, sharp pain shooting through her. She looked up to find Isling’s boot coming toward her head. She scrambled away from the stomp as it landed on the ground.

Nearby Zellar staggered to her feet. She saw Tan roll away from Isling, his attentions focused away from her and on Tan. Isling pursued her, bayonet still in hand. She aimed and pulled the trigger but her rifle jammed. “Shit,” She hissed through pain and anger.

Tan unsnapped her rifle from its harness as she scrambled to her feet. She drove the rifle butt into Isling’s left temple, making him stumble back. His hand refused to drop the bayonet. “Drop it,” bellowed Tan. “Fucking drop it!”

Zellar rushed up, rifle pointing at his head. “Why hasn’t our air cover spotted this shit?” She looked up, discovering that they had unwittingly moved under a stand of trees. “The Apache can’t see us,” she added grimly.

Tan flicked her eyes to Zellar. Isling saw her distraction and stepped forward, delivering into a kick into Tan’s groin. It had been years since she’d received such an injury and her thighs became jelly. She collapsed, rolling to her side. She didn’t want to vomit. What she wanted to do was cry after she killed Isling.

Tan’s stomach convulsed. She heard Zellar scream in anger as she forced herself to stand. The world was filled with brilliant pain and she was vaguely aware of Zellar straddling Isling, digging her thumbnails into his eyes sockets.

“Carla! Wait!” cried Tan over Isling’s shrieks.

“Fuck you,” screeched Zellar.

Tan hobbled to Zellar as fast as her wavering legs could carry her. She grabbed at Zellar’s body armor to pull her away.

“I said fuck you, Gloria. This bitch dies,” roared Zellar, knocking Tan back while not taking her eyes from Isling.

Zellar tore away Isling’s body armor before standing. She pulled her own bayonet from its sheath and fell on him. He screamed and clawed blindly as Zellar’s blade tore through unprotected fabric and flesh.

Tan grabbed Zellar by the neck of her armor, struggling to pull Zellar off Isling. Zellar turned enough to elbow Tan in the face. She stumbled backwards. The pain screamed at her to stop and give in, but she rushed forward again.

She grappled Zellar by her flak jacket. It took strength she didn’t realize she possessed to separate Zellar from the dead man. Finally she pulled Zellar off and flung her to the ground.

Zellar landed some feet away, stunned by the fall.

“He’s a poodle,” Zellar screamed. “We have to make sure he’s dead!” She rolled to her feet and charged once more to the body.

Tan intercepted Zellar in a bear hug. “I don’t think he’s getting up again, Carla. I don’t even think he was ever a poodle. He’s human. That’s all!”

Zellar’s raging expression eased into confusion. “Human? He fought us… he acted like them. He’s not a muppet!”

“He’s a… a… muppet, that’s all.” Tan tightened her hold. Her shoulder protested at the strain, but Tan held firm. “He’s human, Carla. He’s human and he’s dead. All right?”

Zellar blinked at her friend. “I’m okay,” she said almost breathlessly. “Get off me. I’m fine.” The rage was still in her eyes and heart, but she’d regained control.

Tan released her though she kept her hands on Zellar’s shoulders. “Come on. Let’s get back to the helo. We need to let the others know.”

“Right.” Zellar shrugged Tan’s hands from her.

They collected their fallen gear and rearranged themselves. Tan took a moment to spit on Isling’s body before striding up the hill.

Clearing the brush they came into full view of the waiting Blackhawk.  Both saw Cotton and Walinski but their attention became distracted by the sound of two approaching helicopters.

Their Apache broke its covering pattern, turning toward them. The pilot wasn’t asleep at the wheel. He dove and turned quickly, barely escaping an air-to-air missile.

The two new arrivals were Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters. The Cobra crews were Aberration and flew to challenge the lone Apache.

The Apache driver was almost as good as Walinski. He dove and jinked the gunship into position behind one whose pilot wasn’t as good as the Apache’s.

The Apache’s 30mm cannon belched fire on the Cobra’s tail, sending it to the ground.

Tan and Zellar came within sight of their Blackhawk in time to see Cotton strike Walinski.

Cotton unbuckled himself from his seat and opened the door. With a kick, Walinski tumbled from the helicopter, landing face first in the grass.

“Hostile at twelve o’clock!” screamed Zellar. They rushed forward raising their rifles. The Blackhawk engine’s thrummed loudly as it rose into the air. The noise drowned out the battle between the remaining Cobra and the Apache.

The warring attack helicopters had taken the battle a few miles away. The Apache was wounded but hung in, firing its rockets in a last ditch effort that paid off.

One missile missed while the other slammed into the Cobra’s tail boom, sending it into the ground.

A few moments later, the Apache crew, whether wounded or unable to keep their bird in the air, followed the Cobra into the ground. The helicopters’ impacts with the earth, followed by their explosions, shook the night.

Tan and Zellar didn’t give the distant crashes and explosions a second thought. They were focused on keeping their Blackhawk from leaving the area.

“Take out the engines,” ordered Tan. “Shoot for the turbines!”

“I know how to take a helicopter,” argued Zellar as she repeatedly squeezed her rifle’s trigger.

Black oil jetted from the impacts of their projectiles. The helicopter fought for more altitude, but was too severely wounded. It thumped back to the ground, its shocks sagging hard under the impact.

The rotors whined as they ground to a stop. Cotton leaped from the cockpit. He turned, firing over his shoulder at Zellar and Tan with his MP5 submachine gun. The shots went wild.

He took a few more steps before falling to face them in a prone position. His shots came closer to them with every squeeze of his trigger. They returned fire, stopping only to reload.

They crouched low and advanced. Tan held her left hand up, calling for a halt. Neither was surprised to see Cotton stand, transformed.

“He’s pissed,” called Zellar. Her bloody hands slid along the hand guards.

Cotton took advantage of Zellar’s attempts to aim correctly. He’d seen her hands, and could smell the blood on them, and knew that she’d be unable to fire correctly. He charged at them, running on all fours, foam dripping from his mouth, and rage filled screams emanating from his mouth. Words flew out, but neither Zellar nor Tan could understand what he shouted as they opened fire.

“I’m out,” Zellar sang out, reaching for another magazine. “Reloading!”

With the first few shots from Zellar’s rifle, Cotton finally collapsed. It was none too soon for Tan. Her weapon had run dry as well. She dropped the empty and loaded a fresh one.

“Careful,” Tan said, slapping the bolt home. “He could be faking it.”

They took steady steps to where Cotton had fallen. He was undeniably dead. His body was transforming back to human. He’d taken more shots than either cared to count.

Tan poked Cotton’s body with the muzzle of her weapon before fixing her bayonet. She jammed it into Cotton’s head while squeezing a burst. “You can never be too sure,” she said, pulling the bayonet from the mess she’d made.

For the first time since her escape from Tripler   Army   Hospital, Zellar vomited the contents of her stomach.

“I’m going to check on Brenda,” said Tan, patting Zellar’s back.

“I’m okay. Go,” muttered Zellar, wiping her mouth.

Zellar didn’t know how Tan felt but her legs were like weighted putty as she walked to the crippled helicopter.

“Did you understand anything he was shouting at us?” asked Tan over her shoulder. She sounded matter of fact in her question.

“Sounded like, I don’t know, German maybe? I couldn’t understand a word.” Zellar drank from her CamelBak, attempting to wash the vomit taste away.

“I heard ‘shitze’ and I know that’s shit, but other than that it’s beyond me.”

Walinski lay unmoving in the grass. Tan knelt beside her. “No pulse,” she said, urgently. “She’s got no pulse and she’s not breathing.”

Zellar took a knee opposite Tan and angled Walinski’s head back as Tan unzipped Walinski’s flight vest and flight suit. “I’ll handle mouth to mouth, you do chest compressions.”

Zellar pinched Walinski’s nose and began blowing air into Walinski’s lungs.

Tan pressed on Walinski’s chest, silently beseeching whatever passed for God to not take her friend away. She paused, pressing an ear to Walinski’s chest before counting off chest compressions again.

With a great inhalation of air, followed by a sputtering series of coughs, Walinski sputtered. Her eyes fluttered open, and then closed, before her body grew still again.

For a moment both thought they’d lost Walinski again until she muttered something about taking a bus the next time she had to travel. Dolly’s voice fluttered past Walinski’s lips in agreement.

“She’s breathing. Her pulse is getting stronger.” Tan stood, sighing in relief.

“Get a blanket,” urged Zellar, double checking Tan’s observations.

Tan found one in the Blackhawk and covered Walinski with it. “What a fucking shit storm.”

Zellar looked up at Tan, and noticed her shoulder injury. “You’re wounded.” She reached to touch the bloody, drying fabric.

“So are you, but I don’t hear you complaining.”

“Maybe, but I’m going to look at it anyway.”

“What about your side?” Tan sat beside Walinski.

“It’s nothing major. He grazed the bone, but I can deal with it. Undo your shirt.”

“Screw that. You’re side’s gotta be worse. You undo your shirt.”

Zellar scoffed as she unbuckled her belt and unbuttoned her pants to free the shirt bottom. Raising her arms to take it off was as painful as the initial strike. “Easy now,” she said, wincing as Tan pulled up her cut sports bra.

“You might need stitches. I don’t know. It’s clotted though so that’s good. He got you pretty good. You should’ve shot his ass.”

“That would’ve let Cotton know that things had gone south. If we’d shot him then Brenda would’ve been dead before we could’ve done anything. I’m pretty sure we would’ve been screwed, too.”

Tan laughed. “Yeah, buddy. Those assholes straight up skipped foreplay, didn’t they?”

“No doubt,” agreed Zellar.

Zellar tended to Tan’s wounds. Tan broke the silence, asking what she meant by calling Isling a ‘muppet’.

“What? I’ve never used that around you?”

“No.” Tan grimaced as Zellar placed gauze over the knife wound. “You used it twice like I should’ve known what it meant.”

Zellar grunted. “Muppet is a combination of meat and puppet.”

“Meat puppet?”

“Uh-huh, meat puppet. Muppet.”

“Hmm. I like it. It’s kinda catchy.”

“Well, that’s all we are to Aberration, right?”

“Yeah.” Tan pulled her blouse back on, and zipped it to her neck.

“See what I mean? They’re meat and being controlled by Vance like puppets. Meat puppets. Muppets.” Zellar smiled as she stood, stretching her back.

“Muppets,” mused Tan again. She loved the way it sounded.

 

*******

 

Walinski “awoke” to find herself in Clarice’s house, which was Clarice’s mental projection of her section of Walinski’s mind. It was no longer the homey serene place of comfort it had once been. The house stood dark, and a foreboding atmosphere filled the June Cleaver looking living room and the comfortable couch that Walinski lay on was now stiff under her back. Even with her eyes closed she could tell that it reflected her current real world situation.

“What happened,” she murmured, sitting up.

“Sumbitch clocked us is what happened. I have a feeling that he didn’t pull his punch either.” Dolly sat in a Lazy Boy rubbing her temples. “He rocked our worlds.”

“You think?” asked Walinski sardonically. Even in her headspace, her head hurt. “Why are you dressed like that?”

Dolly wore one of Clarice’s immaculate polka dotted dresses and her hair was made up in the 1950’s hairstyle that Clarice usually wore. If it weren’t for her movements and attitude, Walinski would have mistaken Dolly for Clarice.

“Hell if I know.” Dolly looked down at herself. “I woke up like this. Pisses me off even more than him hitting us.” She let loose an evil chuckle. “You’re not going to believe how Clarice is dressed though. Even I wouldn’t been seen out with what she’s wearing.”

Walinski looked around the dimly lit home. The vibrant colors were faded and that alarmed her more than she cared to admit.

“Where is Ms. Thing?”

“Hey Clarice,” bellowed Dolly. “Get your rocking ass out here. Let Brenda get a look at you.” She laughed again.

“No!” wailed Clarice from the kitchen. “I absolutely will not let Brenda see this monstrosity. I look…” Clarice paused, searching for the right word. “I look horrible!”

“What’s she wearing?” Walinski’s curiosity grew by the second.

“Wait for it.” Dolly sat erect, and rubbed her temples. “Come on out, girl!” She winced at her yell, massaging her temples harder.

A set of clumping footsteps could be heard on the kitchen linoleum. From around the corner came Clarice.

Walinski couldn’t laugh; she was too shocked. Her eyes widened at the sight of a punk rocker that could have been Clarice, but looked more like a total stranger.

Clarice wore a red and black checkered mini-skirt that was torn in several areas, a black baby tee-shirt that looked like it was painted on, exposing her bare stomach, exposing an uncharacteristic belly button ring.

Most horrific of all was Clarice’s make up and hair. The lipstick, mascara, and eyeliner were all exclusively black and her face was plastered with a pale foundation. A thin chain linked her left nostril to her left ear. Her hair had been cut short by the right ear while the rest had been gelled into spikes.

Any other time Clarice’s new look would have been funny to Walinski, but she was horrified by her alter ego’s new look. Dolly on the other hand didn’t suffer from a lack of laughter.

“Ha, ha, ha,” scowled Clarice. “Just go ahead and laugh, Dolly Walinski. You’re the one that looks like you should be packing the Beaver’s lunch.”

“If that skirt were any shorter we’d be seeing Beaver’s lunch.” Dolly guffawed at her own horrid joke.

Dolly and Clarice had retained their individual personalities but Cotton’s attack had done something to their appearance. Walinski hoped that it was a temporary issue and not a permanent one. She wasn’t sure she could associate with them as they were. To her, it was unholy.

Suddenly the house shook violently. From nowhere rain clouds dropped a typhoon on exterior.

“What the hell?” called Dolly and Walinski in simultaneous dismay. It felt like a tornado was approaching and for a moment Walinski wondered if the mental construct had a basement.

“It’s nothing,” said Clarice, arms folded across her chest. “It’s Zellar and Tan trying to wake us up.”

“How do you know that?” asked Walinski.

“Because I’m the only one paying attention,” Clarice shot back sarcastically.

“I can hear ‘em a little over the headache,” muttered Dolly. “Am I the only one with a goddamn headache?”

“Yes you are,” growled Clarice. “Brenda’s sending it to you exclusively because you’re an ass.”

“It’s your damn fault we’re in this situation.” Dolly looked at Clarice and Walinski furiously. “If you’d shot him when Hughes and I said to, we wouldn’t be here. It’s your damn fault, Brenda! We’re at war and both of you hesitated like bitches!”

“Bullshit, Dolly,” hissed Walinski. “There was no way of knowing that transmission was authentic.”

The sound of Zellar and Tan’s voices rose in her ears. Before she could say more she was snapped back to reality with a large splash of cold water.

“Wha… what?” gasped Walinski. Light from a flashlight flooded her eyes. In moments her nose picked up the faint smell of a fire. The oily odor smelled like it was everywhere. She looked around, but the flashes from the flashlight flickered before her eyes.

“Welcome back, Brenda,” said Tan, brushing Walinski’s hair from her eyes. “We lost you there for a second.”

“What do you mean lost me?” Walinski wrestled up to a sitting position.

She looked around and found the Blackhawk sitting where it had landed. Next to it, laid out neatly were two blanket covered lumps.

“Is that…” she said, pointing to the lumps.

“Damn right it is,” answered Tan angrily.

“Why didn’t they tell us what they were before we took off? I would’ve shot them before we even got into the air,” groused Zellar. Her uniform jacket was still off and a white bandage under her sports bra shown against the gloom of night.

“I guess the old man didn’t want us tipping them off, even by accident.” Walinski pointed to Zellar’s bandages. “You’re wounded.”

“It’s nothing. It didn’t crack a rib or anything, but it hurts like a bitch.” Zellar’s hand went to the bandage, touching a tiny spot of drying redness. “Besides, you were the one with the major problems. We don’t know what he did to you, but he got you pretty good. Your heart stopped.”

“Scared the hell out of us.” Tan offered Walinski a canteen of water. “We did CPR and brought you back, thank God. There would have been a lot of pissed off people if you had died.”

“So that’s what was shaking the house,” grumbled Walinski.

Zellar and Tan looked at each other quizzically, and then Zellar spoke up, “Don’t know anything about a house, but we gave your heart a couple of good thumps.”

“Yeah, the water was my idea. It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Tan raised her canteen in mock salute.

“What happened? I mean how did it all go south so quickly?” Walinski tried to stand, but was urged stay seated by both women.

“You tell her, Carla,” said Tan. “You’re the one that realized it first.”

Zellar nodded. “Isling tried to kill us. He was a muppet. He acted all poodle, but never changed. He went to butt stroke Gloria but ended up getting his balls turned into peanut butter instead. He went down and then got up like it was nothing. The fight lasted longer than I would’ve liked or would’ve thought so we figure he was juiced up on something serious. Tan tackled him and he threw her off like she was nothing. He pulled out his bayonet, stabbed Tan in the arm and that’s when I went ballistic.”

“Hell yeah she went ballistic,” Tan said with a chuckle. “She threw herself at him and beat his face in before stabbing his noodle with her bayonet. What a freaking mess that was.”

“It wasn’t hard deducing that Cotton was a traitor after that.” Zellar spoke matter of factly. “Especially when we saw him knock you around. He gave you a push out the door and tried to take off but we stopped him. We took out the rotor engine or something before he tried to run off. He pulled out his piece and tried to fight, but we got him.”

“Wait…you shot up my ride?” yelled Walinski. “Why in the hell did you do that?”

Zellar felt betrayed by Walinski’s attitude toward downing the helicopter. “We were in danger of losing it anyway. Either he took it and got away or we shoot it out from under him and get him too. Come on, man! We’d be stranded behind the lines regardless and probably dead to boot. It doesn’t matter. He didn’t get that far off ground and we got the bad guy.”

“Yeah. You did just that.”  Walinski rose unsteadily. “Was there any fire or just smoke?” She didn’t wait for an answer, and took careful steps to her wounded bird.

“I didn’t notice flames. You see anything, Gloria?”

“Nope. I saw spray of something black, but that was it. He got like twenty or thirty feet off the ground, and then ditched once he saw he wasn’t going anywhere. He tried to run, but I got him. You’ll need his dog tags to ID him now.” Tan spoke with no small amount of pride in her marksmanship. “Wanna see?”

“Not really,” answered Walinski. She didn’t know why she resented them doing what they’d done to the helicopter, but she did. She regretted the feeling because if it had been her on the ground, she would’ve done the same thing. “It’s the radio I’m concerned about.” Walinski didn’t have to investigate to know that the bird had more than likely suffered catastrophic hydraulic damage. “We need to request immediate evac and fast.” She looked up at the night sky as she continued to the Blackhawk. “What happened to the Apache?”

Zellar and Tan looked at each other and their glances spoke volumes about the bad news that neither wanted to deliver.

“They had air support,” answered Zellar timidly. “Two gunships appeared out of nowhere. Good news is the Apache brought one down without a problem. The second was a bitch. The Apache got it, but not before it took serious hits. It crashed about five klicks northeast of here.

Walinski looked around. She could see three separate greasy lines of smoke staining the sky, but no flames. There should have been flames. “How long was I out?”

“Five hours,” answered Zellar.

“Five hours? I was out for five hours?”

“Yep,” said Tan her voice more level than a moment ago. “We couldn’t move you. You didn’t have a heartbeat when we got to you, and it stopped again a few moments before you came to. It seemed like a better idea to keep you in one place.”

Walinski sighed. “You did the right thing. It’s my fault anyway. Hughes radioed me with orders to kill Cotton. I should’ve done it right off. Dolly was going to, but Clarice and I blinked. Stupid hesitation is what happened, and he got us. Now, let’s see what we can do about leaving.”

The radio in the helicopter was functional, but the main engine hydraulics was shot. Five seconds into starting the turbines, the engine whined and screamed in protest. The onboard warning systems lit up with multiple warnings of engine and hydraulic failure.

Walinski shut everything down, and then went to auxiliary power. She slipped her helmet on and tuned the radio to Detrick’s communications net. “Sand Trap, Sand Trap, Raptor Three Six, Over.” The radio crackled with static. Walinski tried the secondary frequency and was rewarded with an answer.

“Raptor Three Six, Sand Trap command. Stand by for Detrick Actual on previously secured frequency.”

Walinski blinked in confusion and then remembered the receiver that had been sneaked into her helmet. “Standing by, Sand Trap.”

She didn’t have long to wait before she heard Hughes’ distant voice over the hidden earpiece.

“Chief, Detrick Actual. If anyone’s listening they’ll hear only your transmissions. What’s your sitrep? Over.”

“Claw Two One is down. Two hostile birds engaged us. Both are no longer on the board. Two hostiles that accompanied us are also no longer a problem. My bird’s down. Am requesting immediate evac at previously established coordinates. I have two walking wounded, but are able to move out. Over”

“Negative, Chief. Area’s too hot. Make your way to map coordinates three five one, Charlie eight seven.” Friendlies will be in the area to evac you out. You have four hours to make it to dust off. Do not say coordinates, only acknowledge transmission. Over.”

Walinski hurriedly fished a pen and pad from her flight suit and asked Hughes to say his last transmission again. He obliged and recommended she destroy her notes before proceeding to the evacuation site.

“Received and understood, sir. Moving out now,” answered Walinski, verifying what she’d copied.

“Roger that, Chief. Good luck, Godspeed and see you in a few. Detrick Actual, out.”

Walinski removed her helmet, and let it fall to the floor. “Memorize these coordinates,” she said, handing the notepad to Tan. Both women had been standing outside the pilot’s door, intently trying to listen in on the conversation.

 Walinski retrieved the map case from Cotton’s seat and climbed from the helicopter. “We need to make it to those coordinates by,” she paused, checking her watch, “…by 0720 if we’re to make evac. Are you two up for it?”

“Got no choice,” answered Tan.

“I’ll take point,” volunteered Zellar. “I’ve got the most experience on poodle escape and evasion.”

“Really now?” grinned Tan.

“Damn right I do. You’re in my arena now, bitches. Let’s get going.”

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Dog World Insights, Dog World Press, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s love and remembrances

It’s the first day of 2014 and I wanted to take a moment and honor and show love to those we love,

Tab

My wife, Tabitha AKA Valkyrie Killer

Chris

My son, Christopher AKA Young Marine Corporal Get Some

Sarah

My oldest daughter, Sarah AKA Gerbil Squeak

Emily

My youngest daughter, Emily AKA Crazy Spice

those we’ve lost,

Renita

Renita Jones, mother of Antonio Jones

Gerald Ramsey, my father-in-law with very young Christopher

Gerald Ramsey, my father-in-law with very young Christopher

Linda McKinney, with a very young me

Linda McKinney, with a very young me

and those we hope to meet some day soon.

Antonio Jones, my werewolf bestie

Antonio Jones, my werewolf bestie

Janet Sked, my human bestie

Janet Sked, my human bestie

Diane Hershfield, my best all around bestie with her most awesome lycan offspring, Ethan

Diane Hershfield, my best all around bestie with her most awesome lycan offspring, Ethan

Theresa Coggins, my Most wonderful East Nashville bestie and aviatrix pioneer

Theresa Coggins, my Most wonderful East Nashville bestie and aviatrix pioneer

In this new year, let’s strive to be the best that we can be, and to hold closely onto the memories that warm us and to those that love us. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Posted in Life Happenings!, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Merry Christmas, werefans!

Image

 

 

It’s the time for giving and for joy and as a giving type person (lol), I offer chapter six and seven of Dog World: Gone to Hell. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good bite!

Chapter Six

 

“Cotton’s a traitor?” murmured Demarti in disbelief. He sat in the front passenger seat of a Hummvee driven by Lewis.

He and the others had been tasked with retrieving Charles Dayton from his Maryland safe house. They were two hours into their three-hour drive to the rally point and the column was prepared for anything. Hughes had been able to pull two Marine Corps LAV-25s from a nearby humanitarian operation to serve as support for the six Hummvees that formed the bulk of the convoy.

“Eh, what can you do?” responded Bernerd. “It seems that Walinski’s dog powers aren’t perfect but again, what can you do?”

“I’m worried about her not picking that shit up,” groused Lewis. “She’s starting to make some costly judgment calls.”

“Nothing’s perfect,” answered Urbane. “I’m counting our lucky stars that she’s picking up on what she does.”

“She’s never liked the guy anyway,” responded Demarti. “I don’t know if it’s her ability, or womanly intuition, or what, but she’s said at least once that there was something she didn’t like about him.”

“See that, yeah?” said Mulcahey from the gunner’s turret. “She’s not totally useless. May be a bit dodgy herself, but she has her uses.”

“Watch it, mate,” advised Bernerd, punching Mulcahey’s thigh. “She’s come through in a pinch for us and like the man said, nobody’s perfect.”

Mulcahey laughed and Lewis answered, “She’s a pit viper if you get on her bad side. No matter how I feel, she’s one of us and solid.”

Everyone grunted agreement.

Demarti stared out his window, saddened by how American streets now held the same disturbing, and sad feel as any zombie movie.

Numerous times they skirted blood–stained, abandoned vehicles as they drove through abandoned neighborhoods. Demarti’s mind itched for him to be happy, but he couldn’t comply. He knew vampires were about. Why else would he feel the need to be happy?

“Does anyone else feel the desire to be happy?” he called to the others.

“Damn right I do,” answered Mulcahey uneasily. His .50 caliber machine gun was trained to the left of the column. He’d seen what looked like greasy, dark gray shadows ducking into even darker shades.

Fires burned from deserted homes, and empty automobiles, giving the neighborhood they drove through a hellish backdrop. The streets were clear of bodies though blood marked where many had been. On the column’s right the far horizon was tinted orange in what were fires sparked from the nuclear blast over DC. The sight was mesmerizing but few kept their eyes on it longer than thirty seconds.

“I’m checking in with the other vehicles.” Demarti picked up the handset. He wasn’t surprised to find one of the Marine Piranhas filled with joking Marines. “Square yourselves away,” he said sternly. “We have hostiles present right and left, so stay frosty.”

“They’ve been briefed, yeah?” Bernerd felt a happy tickle rise, but ignored it. “Surely this isn’t their first go around with this mess?”

“They’ve survived enemy poodle contacts,” said Urbane, “but they’ve never had contact with the roaches. It’s new to them. It can get to you if you don’t know what’s happening.” Only a few in the convoy remained clueless on what to expect from vampires.

“They’d best unfuck themselves,” said Lewis. He looked at the digital clock on top of the radio, and asked Demarti if they were near the final checkpoint.

“Yep, almost there,” confirmed Demarti before performing a radio check with the other vehicles.

The neighborhoods gave way to open fields and wooded areas. They slowed to a crawl as they looked for the hidden entrance to Dayton’s location.

“It’s supposed to be marked with a big ‘W’, right?” asked Lewis. He leaned over the steering wheel, focusing on the ground. Nothing indicated that vehicles had entered the weed littered dirt road in some time.

“You’re funny,” answered Bernerd sarcastically. “I’d say that it has become a mad, mad, mad, mad world indeed.”

“There,” announced Shelby from the vehicle behind Demarti’s. “Two ‘o clock of my position, coming up on four o’clock of yours.”

Demarti strained to see the rusted strand of barbed wire marking the entrance.

“Roger that,” responded Demarti. “Whiskey three, take up position covering our rear. Whiskey five, take position covering forward. Keep a clear line of sight and be prepared for a quick exfiltration.”

“Copy,” radioed the Piranha commanders. They moved into position, taking up most of the road while leaving space for the Hummvees to maneuver quickly if needed.

“Whiskey Two, Whiskey Four, dismount and give assistance to road block and perimeter.” Demarti climbed from the vehicle, and walked to the barbed wire. He cautiously examined the logs and brush that had been arranged to look like the surrounding area.

“They did a decent job camouflaging the entry,” observed Shelby, stopping beside Demarti. “I don’t like this, Captain.” He sounded more professional than usual. He looked around, switching his L85A2’s button safety off.

“Yeah. I’m not sure I like this either, sir.” Demarti looked around as three soldiers began clearing the path. “All Whiskey elements. SSDD applies. Report contact or anything suspicious, out.”

“We’re not alone,” announced Sims, joining them.

“You smell something, Master Sergeant?” asked Shelby.

“No, sir, and that’s what’s bothering me. I’m not smelling shit. We’re off the beaten path, in the woods, and I don’t smell so much as squirrel shit. What I do smell is piss. Lots of it. Pull everyone back now, Colonel.”

“Contact rear!” came a cry from the rear Piranha. “Hostiles, five o’clock.” The turret machine gun erupted, followed by the chatter of M4s and Squad Automatic Weapons. A moment later the rear of the armored vehicle exploded. The Marines that had been beside the vehicle were enveloped inside the blast.

The Piranha behind lurched backwards. An anti-tank round flew into the road nearby, showering it with debris. The vehicle’s 20mm canon thrummed in response to the attack. Leaves and splintered wood rained down as the rounds impacted the trees.

“Ambush,” screamed Demarti, hating to state the obvious. A wet snap echoed beside him and something heavy fell slumped into his shoulder. It was Sims. “Man down, man down!”

Demarti grabbed Sims’ by the back of his body armor and drug him to their vehicle. Shelby laid covering fire at an unseen enemy that could clearly see them.

“Get him in, get him in!” called Lewis. “I’m running the road block!”

Bernerd fired at where the enemy fire came from. “Jon! Throw some HE into the brush at our nine o’clock! Flush the bastards out!”

Mulcahey turned toward the tree line. With practiced ease he fired 40mm high explosive grenades from his launcher one after another. Screams came from where they landed, followed by lighter automatic fire, which soon grew in intensity.

“New contacts left flank,” hollered Mulcahey. A grenade rolled to a stop seven feet from him. “Fucking hell. Grenade! Grenade!” He dove under the Hummvee as it exploded. Sharp hot metal flew into his leg. “I’m hit. Goddammit I’m hit!”

Machine gun fire surrounded them. Urbane, already in lycan form, reached under the vehicle, pulling Mulcahey out with one hand. “Better learn how to duck, Tommy!” he said, tossing the wounded soldier into the rear of the vehicle.

“Fuck you, poodle,” responded Mulcahey with a grimace. “I ducked, they just got lucky!” Mulcahey grinned as he righted himself. Urbane turned to the new enemy contacts and ran toward the tree line. “What the bloody fuck are you doing, First Sergeant? Don’t engage alone!”

Urbane wasn’t engaging the enemy alone. Burned but still in the fight Marines, accompanied by soldiers, charged both sides of the ambush. All had abandoned their human forms for lycan.

Human troops poured on suppressing fire for the charging troops. Lewis threw his Hummvee into reverse, and turned to the cleverly concealed roadblock. Inside, Demarti struggled to keep a changed Sims still while applying a tourniquet to his neck.

Demarti’s concentration was strong on Sims and he didn’t notice voices calling out, “Dogs! The column has dogs in it!” and “Poodles! Enemy poodles in our lines! Drop ‘em! Adjust fire!”

“It’s only a goddamn flesh wound from a pissant five-five-six,” growled Sims, pushing Demarti off him. “I’d be worried if it were a fifty. Let me up. I gotta get into the fight.”

He pushed Demarti away and leapt into the fray from the moving vehicle.

Lewis slammed the accelerator, bursting through the trees. “All stations this net, all stations this net! I have an exit! On me, on me!”

In front of Lewis’ vehicle lay two US Army soldiers manning an M240B machine gun. They looked up, and died surprised to see the vehicle hurtling toward them. A 40mm grenade impacted the passenger side fender, flattening the tire. The explosion deafened everyone inside.

Something hot pierced Shelby’s lungs. He tried to scream but nothing other than pain and air left his lungs.

Lewis fought to keep the vehicle on the road that opened to him, but the tire made the struggle pointless. It slammed into a tree, sending him and Demarti into the dashboard.

Mulcahey slammed into the back of the driver’s seat. Shelby was thrown into the front, while Bernerd tumbled from the gunners hatch and onto the hood. He limply fell from the hood to the ground.

The second Hummvee swerved wildly almost hitting them. It skidded to a halt and soldiers poured out to save the others and to engage the enemy.

Demarti, Lewis, and Shelby stumbled or fell from the destroyed vehicle. Demarti threw up, and Shelby helped Lewis stand after collapsing.

“Bernerd,” called Shelby. “Sound off, soldier!”

Two soldiers ran to Bernerd who tried to sit up.

“Everything looks wonky,” Bernard said, wiping his eyes. He cried out as he pulled his hands away from his face. It was covered from hairline to chin in blood. “I’m okay. Leave off, I’m fine,” he protested as he was assisted to his feet.

At the ambush site the battle wound down. Howls of fury and of triumph echoed through the woods, and were punctuated by sporadic small arms fire. The uninjured formed a defensive line to hold the ground against a possible counterattack.

The sounds of combat faded, and cautious footsteps were soon the only sounds. “Friendlies coming in.” It was Sims. His lycan form appeared seconds later, assisting a wounded Urbane.

Urbane had reverted to human. His body armor had been stripped away and his chest was bloodied. Behind them were three lycan soldiers that had gone on the offensive against the ambush. Two of the infantrymen pushed a couple unfamiliar soldiers forward.

“What’s the First Sergeant’s status?” asked Lewis.

Sims ignored Lewis and laid Urbane next to Bernerd.

Mulcahey poured a canteen of water onto Bernerd’s face. Bernerd sputtered as the water cleaned flowed over his wounds.

Mulcahey could see that Bernerd’s eyes were okay though numerous splinters jutted from his face. “You got lucky, mate. You have a few new scars for Janie girl to marvel over. And you.” He looked to Urbane. “You need to learn how to low crawl.”

“Piss off, punk. I knew my chest would stop those rounds. It was all part of my plan.” Urbane coughed, and blood splattered against Mulcahey’s chin and neck.

Sims remained quiet. He stood, and pulled Demarti to the side. His mind worked on how to explain what he’d found.

“What’s the damage, First Sergeant?”

“First thing’s first. Urbane’s not going to make it.”

Annoyed, Sims removed his neck bandage, and reverted to human before Demarti’s eyes.

The sound of shrinking muscles and bone resembled far off twisting metal. It was a sight and sound still made Demarti uncomfortable.

“The damage to Urbane’s midsection is too much.” Sims rubbed his hand and glanced to Urbane. “He’s got an hour at best, Cap’n.”

“Shit. What else?” Demarti had a feeling that Urbane’s condition was the good news.

“The ambush was sprung by friendlies.”

“Say again?”

“Friendlies attacked us. Those two…” Sims motioned at the captive soldiers. “They were part of a platoon sized force running guerilla operations in this area.”

“They thought we were hostile? How in the hell did they end up in this area?”

“Got me, sir. The fact is they were here and two miles down the road from our package. I think we’re farther behind enemy lines than we originally thought. If you ask me we need to get what we came here for and get the fuck outta dodge. We’re getting shot at by both sides.”

 

*******

 

“So tell me again what I’ll be able to do?” Kunpai’s recovery had been remarkable. Neither Sutton nor Mitchell had ever seen anyone with such injuries recover as quickly. His face had nearly healed to what it had been; however his destroyed ear would never grow back. It was a mangled mass of scar tissue, but Kunpai wasn’t concerned with its appearance so long as his hearing wasn’t affected.

Sutton sat with Mitchell and Jeanue in one of Detrick’s gyms, explaining the new abilities that a freshly turned human could perform.

“You’re going to live a very long time. Longer than everyday people, but you’re not immortal. Vance is one of the oldest known lycans but he, and Mr. Dayton, show signs of age. Your body will begin to naturally break down over time. It’s just the sad truth about us carbon based life forms.”

“So I can live to be thousands of years old?” He rested his elbows on the table they sat at, leaning his chin into his hands. “Like Yoda, right?”

“Yes,” answered Mitchell. She was unsure that Kunpai understood the gravity of his new situation. “But you won’t be immortal.”

“Immortal, I will not be is what you mean.” He smiled and for a second the gleam in his eyes told them why Tori thought the world of him.

Sutton sighed impatiently. “Yes. Immortal you will not be. Look, Omi. Are you going to take this seriously or not?”

“Oh, I am. Make no mistake, I am. If I’ve heard right you’re saying that the more I don’t change, the more my body will age like a human’s and the more I do change the longer I live.”

“Correct,” agreed Mitchell. “Also, the more you change the easier it will be to do so. The less you do it, the more painful and the slower it will be. The more you do it, the younger you’ll remain.”

“So it’s like reverse dog years or something?”

“Something like that,” answered Mitchell. “Speaking from experience, I age twenty years to age one human year with constant change. If you stop changing on a regular basis you’ll age like a regular human after two or three years of no change. After that, the virus goes dormant until your next change. Be advised, Major. If you change anytime after those prolonged period of inactivity, it’ll be as painful as your first time.”

“Sounds great to me. Once this shit is over I’m going to be plain ole Major Omi Kunpai, USMC Retired, and I’ll grow old, have grandbabies and die like a normal man.”

“Is that your only concern?” asked Jeanue as she placidly took notes.

“Hell yeah that’s my only concern. Until then, I’m a freaking super soldier. Like goddamn Captain America or something.”

“They did a Cap Wolf miniseries you know,” said Mitchell. She walked to a set of weights. She quickly changed before adding weight to a long bar. “It wasn’t half bad.”

“Gotta find that one,” said Kunpai, watching her. “What are you doing?”

“Adding weight to see what your body can handle.”

“Psssh. Worry about that later. When can I start to change?”

“Anytime you want, as long as it’s later.” Sutton joined Mitchell. “What’s your plan here?”

“I’m going to give him a comparison between his two forms.” Mitchell added a series of twenty-pound weights on one end before moving to the other.

“He’s not ready yet. His body is still adapting. Don’t push the newborn, Cameron,” Sutton whispered.

“Only one woman can call me a baby, and she’s never used ‘newborn.’”

Mitchell and Sutton turned to him, unsure of how to respond.

Jeanue looked at him, and then to the others before writing faster than before. “Subject named patient’s hearing has obviously surpassed boundaries that were supposedly unreachable at this point in his transformation.”

“I’ve got a name, Colonel. It’s Major. Middle name is Omi, surname Kunpai.”

“For science purposes your name is Subject Named Patient or SNP for short.”

Kunpai threw his hands up, and then held them out, palm up to Jeanue. “Look at this, woman. Will you look at her? She’s like a kid with a new chemistry set.”

“It’s like Christmas for me, Omi. You’re a chance to study lycans at ‘birth’. So to speak.”

Kunpai rolled his eyes. “Well, I feel fine.” He walked to Sutton and Mitchell. “What do you want me to do, Cam?”

“Curl this,” she picked up the bar one handed, holding it out to him.

“That’s 240 pounds! I’ve only been able to do 125.”

“Is that a fact?” Sutton spoke with mock scorn. “Are you sure you’re infantry? You sound like an office weasel to me.”

“She’s right. One-twenty-five is for office pouges, not hard charging jarheads.” Mitchell joined the mocking.

“Screw you both.” He scowled and placed his hand around the bar. Flashes of light from his right distracted him. The weight took him to the floor.

“What the hell?” Kunpai turned to see Jeanue with a small Nikon, taking pictures. “Again, look at this. The woman’s got a damn camera. And you’re telling me that I’m not taking this seriously? She’s getting jiggy with a camera, taking pictures of me for her scrapbook.”

“It’s all for science, Major. Now, if you don’t mind I’d like a nice rear shot.”

Kunpai grinned and flipped her off instead. “Freaking pervert.” He stood, stretching his back. “If I pick this up what does that mean?”

“It means you’re strong,” answered Mitchell.

“Your difficulty in lifting that determines how fast the Plague virus is adapting to your body.” Sutton’s look to Mitchell said, ‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’

“He can do this,” reassured Mitchell.

“Work it, honey,” chirped Jeanue.

“Perv,” quipped Kunpai.

His forearms, biceps and shoulders strained at the weight. He slowly reached full stance.

“Curl it,” urged Mitchell. “Come on, sir. Curl like a beer.”

Kunpai curled the bar with less effort than the two older lycans thought possible. The effort took more than Mitchell had estimated, but she was pleased with what she witnessed.

“Out-fucking-standing, Major,” Mitchell said, smiling. “You proved me right. Stand at ease.”

“Order disregarded. Two.” Kunpai gave a small grunt as he lowered the weight and raised it back to his chin. “Three…four… five.” Kunpai showed less strain with each successive lift. “Yeah, buddy. That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Don’t push yourself, Omi.” Jeanue stood beside him, worried that he might overexert himself. X-Rays had shown that his wounds had healed, but Jeanue was paranoid that secondary wounds might appear.

What appeared next shocked those watching into silence. With each movement Kunpai grew taller, and hair sprouted from his face, legs, and muscular pumping arms.

His gym shorts split at the seams. His dark green Marine Corps t-shirt split apart at the arms and armpits. The stitches gave loud pops as the shoulder seams gave way against the growth. Kunpai grunted with each repetition. Sutton and Mitchell knew the grunts came not from the weights, but from the transformation.

“Feel the burn, Marine,” he muttered as his count passed fifty. “That’s it. Come on now.” His voice held a deeper baritone than normal. He worked, oblivious to his transformation. His eyes remained closed as his count progressed.

The change had been unbidden, and what stood before them was shorter than Mitchell’s lycan form, but no less beautiful to the women.

Kunpai’s height had stopped shy of seven feet, but his muscle mass had spread his shoulders wider than even Sutton’s. His hair wasn’t the dark brown or even black of his head as everyone had guessed it would be. Kunpai’s hair was a color so silver that it was almost platinum.

“Oh my,” muttered Jeanue. “Thundercats, ho.” Her mouth hung open as she snapped shots of Kunpai’s werewolf form.

“He’s silver,” whispered Mitchell, hand over her mouth. “Sue, he’s silver.”

“I see it. I don’t believe it, but I see it.” Sutton sat on the weight bench. She could believe her eyes no more than Mitchell could. Omi Kunpai had become a silver werewolf.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Walinski circled the landing zone, confused at the lack of a habitat below. They’d been briefed that a simple one story home would be nestled in the hills, but nothing could be seen except grass, trees, and waist high brush. The area didn’t seem like it could be home to any exiled lycan family. She supposed that anything could be possible though.

“I don’t see anything down there, Brenda,” yelled Tan from the crew compartment. “It looks deserted.”

“It’s a wild goose chase,” added Cotton bitterly. “Are the coordinates right?”

Walinski checked her copy of the map before glancing to Cotton’s. “According to the maps we’re in the right place.”

“Should we land?” asked Zellar. “Maybe they’re in hiding or something.”

“I’m calling this in,” answered Walinski. She toggled the radio, giving their situation as they flew another lower circuit around the field.

The answer she received ordered her to land and search a within a quarter mile area of the landing zone. She shook her bewildered head and complied.

Upon landing Tan and Zellar exited the helicopter with Isling. The rotor wash kicked up dirt and tore blades of grass from the ground, throwing it into their faces.

They moved quickly away from the helicopter to begin their search.

The Apache lifted into the air once more to provide a protective eye.

“Chief Walinski,” came a distant sounding voice.

“What?” She looked at Cotton. She’d been busy looking out the window, watching for any movement.

 “Hmm? I didn’t say anything,” he answered.

“Walinski, Hughes. Remain calm. I’ve been patched through via a pirated frequency. No one else can hear me, except for you, and you are not to speak, only listen closely. Cotton is a plant from Vance.”

Hughes detailed Cotton’s duplicity, mentioning that Isling was also Aberration though not as important as Cotton. Isling was a grunt and expendable to anyone he fought for. She looked out the window as Hughes spoke, trying to locate Tan or Zellar. It bothered her that she couldn’t see either of them or Isling.

“Do not take him prisoner,” came Hughes’ voice. “I say again, do not apprehend. Eliminate infiltrators with extreme prejudice. Hughes, out.”

“Fuck,” she spat aloud. “I can’t do this,”

“Do what?” responded Cotton. “Are you okay? You’re not spazzing out on me, are you?” He cautiously stared at her. “I thought I heard some weird buzzing coming from your helmet. Do you want me to check it?”

“Nah, I’m good. But I have to pee really bad.”

“Can’t you hold it?”

“With an hour ‘til we’re RTB? Screw that. I gotta go now.”
            “Fine.” Cotton gave her an annoyed look before returning his gaze to the ground.

“Do it now,” screamed Dolly. Dolly pounded relentlessly on the walls of their mental home. “Fucking pop his ass now, Brenda!”

“We don’t know what’s going on. It’ll be murder,” protested Clarice. She stood in Walinski’s mind’s eye, arms crossed, right foot tapping impatiently.

“It’s war, Clarice. Hughes says he’s rotten then you can fucking believe it,” retorted Dolly.

Walinski rested her hand on the door handle, ready to step out for a make believe piss when she saw Zellar and Tan emerge from the foliage. Both were sweaty and Isling wasn’t with them.

“What’s wrong with Zellar’s arm?” asked Clarice.

Walinski activated her night vision. Zellar’s right arm was bloody. Her rifle was slung across her back while Tan held her rifle at the ready with blood stained hands.

Walinski whispered “What the hell” without realizing it.  Dolly had been correct. Walinski knew they were in a situation that had evolved beyond potentially ugly.

Walinski felt the wind pick up through the open door. In the corner of her eye she saw two helicopters appear over the nearby tree line. “Do you see that?” she asked, Cotton.

Cotton turned his attention to Walinski’s side of the helicopter. Walinski turned to him in time to see his furious face. His eyes were wide as he slammed his back handed fist into her face. Walinski’s vision went black

“Well fuck-a-doodle-do, ain’t this a peach. The last time we were in a helicopter we were knocked unconscious.” Dolly’s face floated up before Walinski’s eyes.

“It’s becoming a trend. We should probably stick to driving,” added Clarice as her visage replaced Dolly’s.

“There’s some wisdom there,” mumbled Walinski into the dark.

 

*******

 

Colorado Springs, once a vibrant bustling city filled with tourists, was a ruined shell. It was a point of vanity for Vance to have his headquarters in the middle of the city. His was the only building that now appeared out of place. It gleamed like new compared to those burning uncontrollably, or standing dark, their sides dotted with ruined windows.

Collins felt ill as he guided his motorcycle around destroyed civilian vehicles and military equipment.

He stopped beside a destroyed Bradley Fighting Vehicle to get his bearings. His GPS said that he was going in the right direction, but three Hummvees blocked the intersection he needed to turn at. Even from four hundred yards away he could see blood splatters on the vehicles’ windows and steel bodies.

The smell of evacuated bowels, bladders and carnage filled his nose. He couldn’t help but wrinkle it against the smell. The more he saw, the more disgusted at himself he became.  

“It’s official. I’m a Baltar,” he muttered to no one. “Better get moving, sellout.”

“Don’t move,” called a voice from behind. “Hands up, fingers interlocked behind your head.”

Collins’ hand tightened on the throttle. He forced his hand to ease up. If the speaker belonged to one of the Vance’s patrols, he could talk his way out. If it were human military he’d surrender. If it turned out to be a marauder then it would be their unlucky night. Calmly he complied and turned to the voice.

Fear shot through him. Three men and a woman, all in US Army combat uniforms and gear, advanced on him, weapons leveled at his head.

They eyed his uniform and motorcycle as they advanced.

“Human, or one of us?” asked the woman.

“Can’t you smell me? I’m a lycan like you,” answered Collins in a cool voice. “I work for the Boss.”

“Sure you do, pal,” responded one of the males in snarky tone. “Got any ID?”

“Yes. Can I get it without being shot?”

“We should shoot you anyway to be on the safe side. Only the terminally stupid and humans are out tonight,” growled a second male. His words confirmed their allegiance to Vance. Collins felt a bit of odd relief at discovering they were Aberration.

The most ill tempered of the group moved the fastest to Collins, and it made him edgier the closer he came.

“Hey, Ficks. Stupid and human are one and the same,” laughed the third male.

“Shut up,” snapped the first male. He was clearly the leader. “Remove your helmet and get your ID out, but do it slow.”

Collins slowly pulled his helmet off and then lowered his right hand to his pocket. He produced his green, white, and red-bordered Vance Industries ID card. The cards had become standard issue to all of Vance’s people in the weeks leading up to the overthrow. The red border signified that only a select few reported to Vance directly. The card and responsibility was a curse and an honor.

He handed it to the lead soldier whose eyes widened. He composed himself and scanned the card with a hand held scanner. A shrill, single two-second beep emanated from the device.

“Sorry to detain you, Captain,” said the soldier, returning the ID. “We’ve had human and Underground scouts in the AO, hence the show of force.”

“You can’t be too careful, Corporal,” said Collins. “May I put my hands down?”

“Yes, sir. You’re free to go. If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your destination?”

“I do mind actually,” snapped Collins in a manner that suggested his station put him above answering subordinates’ questions. “I’m on a priority one mission, and I’ve wasted enough time here.”

“We mean no offense, sir,” said the female soldier. “We only need to make sure you won’t run into any insurgents on the way. There are a few hot spots in the area.”

Collins chuckled. The word ‘insurgents’ was something he had never expected to hear on American soil. He didn’t know why but it struck him as funny. “If you must know I’m heading to Schriever AFB. And that’s all you need to know.”

“Schriever’s outlying area is a hotspot for insurgent activity, Captain. We’ve yet to eliminate the human personnel problem.” The leader chuckled aloud. “They think they can retake the base.”

“They should really know better,” Collins said dryly. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” He revved his bike but was stopped from leaving. “What?” he snapped as the leader laid a hand on his shoulder.

“That way’s mined, sir. Bastards laid magnetic mines against our armor. It’s all near the CityCenter. Our EOD people are dealing with other parts of the city so that area’s been declared off limits. You’re better off hooking left a block up and then turning right on Stangler Avenue and then left on 42nd   Street. It’s a little out of the way but it’ll take you to Schriever. That area’s secured, even though we’re running clean up ops there.”

“Running clean up ops… but the area is secure,” repeated Collins. “Right.” He didn’t understand how it could be secure while running clean up operations. He assumed he’d find out when he arrived.

Collins nodded and lowered his helmets faceplate. The dark tint prevented the soldier from seeing Collins sticking his tongue out. “Thanks for the heads up, Corporal.” Collins revved the bike, sending bits of debris at the three soldiers. The trigger-happy soldier called out angry curses as Collins peeled away.

He made the first left and immediately wished he’d simply navigated the mined area.

Earthmovers had removed rubble and abandoned vehicles to make room for tractor-trailers. The entire three-block area had become a transportation and processing hub for humans. The sight was painful to see though he didn’t lose sight of the fact that he and not they had retained freedom. He was stopped and rescanned like anyone entering or leaving the area of operation.

“Get this shit outta here,” yelled a soldier to another standing at the top of a processing truck’s off-loading ramp. “Come on, move!”

Collins felt vomit creep up his throat and his hand caressed his Sig pistol with an intent all its own.

“I wouldn’t do it,” said the lycan MP at the roadblock. He towered above Collins’ seated human form. “I get what you’re feeling, sir, but rest assured that he’ll get his soon enough. Poplar is brutal to his own pack, so why should humans be any different? You’re headed to Schriever, right?”

The question surprised Collins. He hadn’t told the lycan anything about his destination. “How…” Collins cleared his throat. “Yes.”

“Stick by Big Bear, Captain. He’ll get you out of this shit. Be careful, comrade.” The MP handed the ID back, allowing Collins to leave.

Leaving the city allowed Collins to gather his thoughts. His mind replayed what he’d seen.

Coming upon Schriever Air Force Base’s main gate snapped him out of his troubled thoughts. Two Marine Corps M1A2 tanks stood watch at the gate and a mix of Hummvees, Bradleys and armored personnel carriers patrolled the interior.

The airmen asked only what his purpose was before waving him through. Collins delivered his lie of air traffic control and guided missile systems checks flawlessly.

The base was nearly as pristine as Vance’s headquarters. Craters from artillery pocked the ground here and there, but for the most part the roads and runways remained unscathed.

As he neared where F15s sat, he saw the burned out hull of the main administration building. The scorched walls were evidence that the Air Force personnel had put up a fight before being overtaken. His nose filled again with the smell of burned meat, wood and insulation. He braked forty feet from the building, and stared at it. A Hummvee stopped in front of him, blinding his vision with its headlights.

“Now’s not the time for sightseeing, myshka,” called Medklova from the passenger seat. “Perform your checks, and then move along. Schedule’s tight.”

“I’ll follow you to the first set of guidance checks,” he answered.

The Hummvee led him to a set of offices closer to the fighters. The aircraft sat like bright beacons of hope. Collins had never flown in a fighter before so he considered it an added bonus to escaping.

“What you need is inside,” said, Medklova, exiting the vehicle.

“What’s the security situation here, sir?” Collins moved his eyes to the soldiers now standing guard.

“Trustworthy, Leland. These men, I would trust my life with.”

Using Collins’ first name was a sign that Medklova took the situation seriously. Their collective actions were the same as banging on a proverbial armed nuclear weapon with a hammer. The situation wasn’t supposed to be volatile, but the possibility was there.

“Inside, please.”

The room was well lit and a simple round table with four chairs sat in its center. A black female Air Force lieutenant sat at the table, nervously tapping a pencil on a notepad. She stood up as Collins and Medklova entered.

“Is this Collins?” The lieutenant sounded just as wary as she looked.

“Yes, this is the man and the legend,” answered Medklova with a smile. “He’s ready to do what needs to be done. Captain Leland Collins, Lieutenant Daria Rexler.”

“Nice to meet you, Captain. First off you’ll need a flight suit.” Rexler moved to a rack with a single suit and flight gear hanging from it. “Put this on.” She threw it to Collins and then collected the flight gear. “Come on. Don’t be shy. The clock’s ticking.” It was her attempt to take the edge off, but her worry was noticeable.

“Not a problem,” answered Collins. “I’ll get near naked for a pretty girl.”

“Come on, come on,” urged Rexler as Collins zipped up the coverall. “Quickly now. Gear, too. Here. Take this pistol. It’s loaded.”

Rexler was rushing him faster than he could follow. Instinctively he removed the Beretta pistol from its holster and checked the chamber. A round flew out as he pulled the slide back. Rexler had been truthful when she said it was loaded.

Collins picked up the errant round and put into a front pocket. He went to his discarded thigh holster and removed the Sig and its magazines. Hurriedly he thrust the pistol into the back of his flight harness and the magazines in the flight harness’ unused pouches.

“Why the rush?” He knew the answer and only spoke because the silence and urgency made him more nervous. Hurriedly he slung his laptop across his back. The laptop was just as important to the Underground as he was. To leave it behind would be a travesty to humankind.

“We’re stealing a jet from an Aberration held base and flying you to friendly territory. What rush are you referring to?” She thrust a helmet into Collins’ hands. “Put this on. We’re leaving.”

“Come, friends. Time to see if the grass is greener.” Medklova held the door open for Collins and Rexler. They stepped outside but stopped short at the sight of five figures looming in the glow of the airfield.

“The grass isn’t green on the other side,” came Vance’s voice as the door closed behind them. “It’s actually red and stained with the blood of humans and pack traitors. You look like a man leaving for a momentous trip, Captain Collins. And you Colonel Medklova. I expected more from you. You performed admirably, Lieutenant Rexler. I almost hate to kill you, too, but… well… you sold them out during your portrayal of selling me out. I just don’t think I can trust someone like you.”

“But I did every thing you said. You can’t -” protested Rexler.

“Shut up.” Vance barked the ordered at her. He had little use for beggars, or pack traitors, and especially if the two were mixed.

The soldiers that had arrived with Medklova were dead. Their necks had been broken; no silenced shots had been fired to not alert the others with cordite-fouled air or the scent of freshly spilled blood.

Soldiers flanked Vance’s sides and all were in lycan form. Vance stood still, his neck and bare arms bulged as he transformed. “Going to be… a…pleasure… getting info… from you…and Big Bear, Captain.”

Medklova’s eyes slide to Collins’ Sig. He pulled it faster than Vance’s lycans could react and fired a shot, striking Vance below his left cheekbone. Medklova had been aiming for Vance’s forehead, but Vance’s jerking, transforming head caused him to miss. It still gave the pack traitors precious time to fight.

Vance screamed and grasped his face as he collapsed. The transformation was finalizing as blood streamed from the open wound. “Kill them! Kill the bitch and the commie fucker! Leave the pip squeak pup mother fucker!”

Medklova fired once more, striking a lycan guard in the right eye. The shot exited the back of his skull, killing him instantly. A second, discarded his rifle, and leapt onto Medklova, knocking him to the ground.

The two wrestled as Medklova changed. The pain was excruciating to the Russian. He’d never performed a transformation as quickly as then. When he was fully changed the battle was quickly decided in Medklova’s favor.

The second made a grab for Rexler, who remained in human form. She kneed the Lycan in the groin, and slammed her helmet into his head. It howled furiously as she kicked it once more in mid fall. Outraged at being betrayed, she drove her helmet into its muzzle repeatedly until the satisfying crunches gave way to a wet pop. The lycan went limp as its muzzle bones splintered into its brain.

Medklova was on his feet before Rexler. He rushed to Vance, kicking the rising lycan in the ribs, sending him howling and scrambling across the asphalt.

The third lycan had restrained Collins as the others fought. Panicked he hurled the smaller angry lycan at Medklova.

Medklova leapt over Collins, lunging for Collins’ captor. “Run!” he bellowed as he drove Vance’s goon to the ground. “Run for the plane, now! RUN GODDAMN YOU!”

“Come on!” called Rexler, grabbing Collins’ arm. “Come on, stupid! We’ve gotta get the fuck out of here.”

Collins was torn. He needed to escape but his friend needed him as well. His options were limited and only one was clearly the right choice. An Aberration column filled with troops rapidly approached with ill intentions.

With a sickening crack Medklova ended the fight by crushing his opponent’s sternum onto its heart. “Leave me. I will be okay,” he said, his chest heaving. He moved toward Vance. Vance had recovered faster than anticipated.

Vance elbowed the Russian lycan in the stomach before raising the top of his head into Medklova’s jaw. Medklova staggered back.

Collins almost fell under Rexler’s insistent pulling. He pulled free, scooped up his helmet, and joined Rexler in the mad dash to a waiting F15. At the ladder were two dead aircraft handlers.

“My God,” whispered Collins.

“There’s no helping them. They did what was needed, now move your fucking ass!”

Collins scrambled up the ladder, followed by Rexler. Quickly Rexler secured herself to the seat and closed the canopy. Without waiting for Collins to figure out how to get buckled in, she taxied the aircraft into position for take off.

He’d spent more time securing the laptop than he had himself.

As Rexler increased the Eagle’s take off speed, Collins realized what buckle went where. A series of sharp snaps brought a semi relieved smile to his face.

From the front, Rexler called for him to secure his mask. “We’re going straight up. You’ll be dead without it!”

Collins looked back toward Vance and Medklova. The two fought hand to hand.

Medklova gave to Vance as good as he received, but he knew it wouldn’t be enough. Medklova knew when it was over. He stumbled to the fallen Sig, retrieved it, and aimed at Vance.

Collins screamed as he saw an approaching machine gunner open fire on Medklova. He heard the muffled thumping of a fifty caliber machine gun as the rounds tore through Medklova.

Collins wanted to cry, but couldn’t. He watched as the vehicles ground to a halt. Vance leapt onto one, and tossed a gunner to the ground. After watching his friend die, he couldn’t spare sympathy for the soldier whose head was crushed under a Hummvee’s wheel. He turned forward.

“Spinster One One Four Seven. Shut down your engines now. Abort take off, Spinster,” called the control tower. “Shut down now. You do not have clearance, and you are under arrest.

“Negative, boys and girls,” answered Rexler, accelerating faster. “I’m blowing this dog pound.”

“A bit corny, aren’t you?” said Collins bitterly from the rear. His eyes went to the secured laptop. No matter what happened he had to make it all worthwhile.

“I’m just speaking the truth.”

Machine gun fire danced across the F15’s fuselage as some of the arriving Hummvees gave pursuit. The rounds gave frighteningly musical rings as they struck the aircraft’s body. With a jerk of the stick, they were airborne. Red tracers followed the aircraft into the air. No more struck the body and Collins let out a sigh of relief that was more of an exclamation of joy. He glanced down at his crotch, fairly sure that he hadn’t pissed himself.

“Don’t get too excited. We’re still in their airspace, big boy.” Rexler spoke like she’d read his mind. “He’ll be scrambling chasers, and then we’ll see how good a pilot I am. First time in a fast mover?”

“Yeah,” he answered distantly.

“You’re getting your cherry popped in a helluva way. Enjoy the ride. It’s going to be bumpier than shit.”

 

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog gone! More Dog World: Gone to Hell!!

It’s that time of year again! No, I don’t mean sacrificing a lamb to the lord and lady of werewolves (though that does sound like a capital idea). What I mean is Christmas. For me that means more overtime (no! really?), and Christmas shopping, which eats the minds of every parent on the planet. Back me up here, fellow parents. It’s busier for me personally due to my company moving to Cool Springs, which adds another 148 miles a week to my drive time (trust me, the raise I got in September doesn’t even cover a days worth of added fuel consumption) and forces me to look for another position. Hey, that’s life, right? But the reason I called you here was to present chapter five of Dog World: Gone to Hell. Enjoy!

Chapter Five

 

In a LCD lit room, deep within Vance’s hardened headquarters, sat a youthful looking lycan that was the secret heart of Vance’s technological world.

Vance made sure that the lycan’s abilities were shielded from prying eyes and intruding ears. He was sheltered from those that would use him to destroy Vance. Ironically the danger of betrayal was closer than Vance had ever thought.

The lycan’s name was Leland Collins. Collins had signed on with Vance hoping to put the world to right. He was a lycan of several centuries of experience like Vance, and like Vance was disgusted with the human race, but for different reasons.

It was his desire to put space between him and humanity that led him to Virginia in 1618. It was his encounter with a lycan the following year that he began his true separation from humanity. In time he pulled himself further and further from the world as the United   States reached westward, spoiling the land with their overpopulating and petty squabbles over invisible territorial divides.

But Collins didn’t stay hidden forever. His first glimpse of a steam boat in action ended Collins’ self-imposed exile. From that moment on, whenever new, interesting technology presented itself he did what needed to be done to learn all he could about it. Computers were the pinnacle of that.

When computers were introduced he set himself to learning everything he could about them. In time he helped build a computer company that wormed its way into every facet of everyday life. The company was worth billions and had named itself Apple. The name was fitting due to the fruit’s reputation for leading to Adam and Eve’s banishment. It was poetic justice that the company had unknowingly and significantly contributed to the downfall of man.

His brilliant mind made him wealthy and gave him an easy in to being one of the key programmers at the Pentagon Cyber Defense and Research Initiative. Joining the Army ten years earlier had been his idea of helping, and that’s where Vance had found him.

“Want to change the world, Captain?” asked the grinning lycan years before.

“Yes, sir, I do,” was Collins’ only answer. Even then he’d known he’d spoken too soon.

Vance had appeared kind, caring, and concerned about where humankind was taking the world. “They just need to be ushered into an age under us. We’ve been around longer than even their oldest. We’ve seen things they’ve only read about, and we can prevent history from repeating itself again. We can do this, Captain.”

Collins knew that a bloodless revolution was a fairy tale, and he was prepared for casualties. He listened to Vance’s plans and did some asking around about him. What he’d found disturbed him, but he remained hopeful. Later, after it was too late to turn back, he discovered what Vance was really about.

He was a month into knowing the charismatic general when his fellow Army captain, and lycan, Nadine Donovan, approached him, and inquired about the high ranking officer that had taken an interest in him.

“I’ve heard whispers that he’s Aberration, commented Nadine over lunch one afternoon.”

“Not possible. I’ve done some checking around. What I’ve found dates back to the time I was turned.”

“Oh really? You’ve done research on him?” she teased him.

“Yes, Nadine,” he said, annoyed. “I’ve done research. If he’s Aberration, he’s doing a shitty job hiding. Hell. He’s been a soldier for most of his life. Humans would shit a brick if they knew where to look for him in historical archives. He’s left a paper trail any lycan or overly inquisitive human can follow.”

“Maybe you were meant to follow it to what he wanted you to see.”

They’d had the discussion in the Pentagon commissary that afternoon. Looking back, they should have been worried about being overheard. Collins was positive their conversation had led to her death a week later.

“Maybe you’re paranoid, Nadine. Maybe it’s all in your head.”

“Maybe you’re naïve, Lee. Jesus Christ. I’m half your age and more situationally aware than you are.”

“Don’t forget to mention that you worry too much.”

“And you don’t worry enough. Listen to me. Just think about what I’ve said, okay? And watch your ass. I’ll talk to you later.”

Eight days later she’d died in a hit and run. The human driver had said over and over again that he was sorry. A month later the man was dead from choking to death on a piece of prison steak and his family the victims of a murder suicide committed by the man’s wife. For Collins it was more evidence that humans needed lycan help. Their carelessness had cost him a friend, and a man his life and family. At least, that’s what he’d stupidly thought then.

By the time he met Elaine Daughtry it was too late to do anything except serve. She’d been Vance’s secretary among other nefarious things, and had educated him on the real Karl Vance. She’d introduced him to other lycans that had served with Vance and had lost their taste for subjugating humans.

Collins and the others banned together under Ms. Daughtry to stop Vance from within, or at the very least delay him. In the grand scheme things, their attempts had made little difference.

Together they fed intelligence to law enforcement agencies filled with human sympathizing lycans, hoping to close down scattered Aberration cells.

Collins himself had fed info to Bismarck PD about Zellar’s location the night of her capture. He’d personally hacked the departments police call center, making sure that the unit that captured her would be human and unaware of werewolves’ existence.

He’d been tracking Zellar from the time she’d taken out her first cell. Being the head of Aberration intelligence gave him free reign in keeping Zellar under Aberration radar. Vance was oblivious to her existence because of Collins. Collins and Daughtry were the reason she was with Hughes and not dead, or worse at Vance’s hands.

That was a success they all celebrated. The defeat they mourned over was Daughtry’s suicide. Before she’d hung herself over Vance’s desk, she’d transmitted a sample list of traitors within various governments and world militaries to USCENTCOM. There was no doubt that Ms. Daughtry knew she would be caught and that she would have given up her comrades under torture. Collins couldn’t stop from wondering what her final thoughts were. Had she thought of him or the others as the rope strangled her, or had the rope snapped her neck, killing her quickly. Those thoughts didn’t matter in the present. What mattered was her gift to him, the full list, an insurance policy that would guarantee his acceptance into the Underground.

Collins missed her. Hers was another layer of blood on Vance’s hands. And her blood was on his hands too. Over one hundred million people had died because of him. It was lot to atone for.

He tiredly rubbed his eyes and left the room, pausing only to insure the environmental seals and magnetic locks engaged behind him. He ventured into the commissary and paused at a coffee machine before loudly popping his back. A fellow tech examining the candy bar selection at a vending machine glanced at him; her face wore a malignant smile. “You should change and work those muscles out. And maybe get something to eat while you’re at it. Feeding’s are in the open, now. Nothing is holding us back.” She gave Collins a wink, which soured his stomach.

“I ate an hour ago. Nice little MILF with a toddler. Kid couldn’t have been more than three. Now that was good eating.” He smiled as he lied. In fact, it had been well over five years since he’d eaten a human, at least not an innocent one. He’d eaten the proverbial scum of the city, but had never touched anyone that was by definition innocent.

Jelisia, the female tech, laughed. She didn’t bother with a last name. She made it a point to say that such things were for puny humans. Quite often she’d struck him as a perfect companion to Vance. Whenever Jelisia said, ‘puny humans’ she reminded Collins of the Incredible Hulk comics he used to read. He hated her.

“Going for a break then?”

“Going for a piss if it’s any of your business. Are you interested in helping me shake?”

“Don’t tempt me, Lee. I just might.” She winked again. “Don’t be long though. I may need your help with some encrypted traffic. I think it’s from the Harry Truman carrier battle group. Intel indicates it’s the only group in the region. We think they’re moving into position to augment the human and pack traitor positions in Boston. You know how the Old Man gets when we don’t move fast enough.”

“Not a problem, just give a sec. Let me do my business.”

Jelisia grinned again and left with two Payday bars. Collins went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. He took a moment to stare himself and curse his luck for running into to Jelisia.

Collins knew without looking that it was the Harry Truman and her guided missile cruisers and support ships. Jelisia and others like her had difficulty deciphering more than half of the human militaries traffic because of him.

He’d surreptitiously added code deep within the mainframe to randomly recode ‘enemy’ communications chatter as it was intercepted.

“Can’t you confirm if it’s the Truman or not?” said Collins from behind Jelisia. “You shouldn’t have that much trouble with their encryption.”

“You’d think, right? When we crack their encryption the transmission comes across garbled, cryptic or even coded in some weird language.” She looked over her shoulder to him. “Can you make anything out of this?” She called up a transmission that sounded like a mish mash of Irish Gaelic, Swahili, and Japanese.

“What’s that crap? None of it sounds useful.”

“Exactly. I’m running it through translation software and all it comes back with is garbage about chicken livers and All washing detergent. If I didn’t know better, I’d say we have a virus. I don’t see how the puny humans could’ve infected our systems, but it’s a possibility.”

“Run diagnostics and let me know the results.”

“Roger that.”

He made it to the door before she spoke again. “Is that offer to help shake still open?”

“Maybe after the scan. How’s that?”

She smiled again. Collins once more restrained the urge to smack her in the face with a five-pound sledgehammer. He forced his own grin and left.

The urge to have her accompany him was strong. She was “in season” and her pheromones were strong. Even with that her attitude was shitty at best to him.

He entered the bathroom, and found Oleg Medklova standing at a urinal.

Oleg looked at him before turning his attention back to business. “How is my favorite computer worm?” said the Russian.

“Good, good. How’s my favorite vegan bear?”

The answer got a soft laugh from Medklova.

Medklova was a Naval Infantry Colonel and defector from the Soviet Unions’ Cold War Kremlin days. He wasn’t a large man height wise, but he looked the very image of a brute. He was the same five foot, eight inches tall as Collins, but was built like a professional body builder. Offsetting all of that was his quiet voice and high intelligence.

Medklova was a lycan that could easily crush anyone short of Vance in the Aberration. Vance was also the only being that frightened Medklova. He was executive officer of Vance’s covert operations team, and had also been slipping information on Aberration black bag ops to the Underground for the past fifteen years.

It was over a game of chess that the two had become acquainted. There was something in Collins that Medklova had seen and identified with. It didn’t hurt Collins’ standing with Medklova that he bested the Russian in three out of four chess matches. Medklova was a skilled player, though not as skilled as Collins.

Over the following months of playing chess, the two men became friends.

“I see you do not associate with butchers and sheep rapists, my friend,” mused Medklova over lunch one day.

“I have no stomach for needless bloodshed. I’m pickier these days about who I call ‘friend’.” Collins paused, a forkful of cantaloupe an inch from his mouth. He felt that he’d slipped up and insulted Medklova. The black ops group was brutal and to be in the top command stations one had to be extremely brutal.

Medklova saw his concern, reached across the table and squeezed Collins’ free hand. “You aren’t in trouble, myshka. Sometimes, you must be brutal to one in order to save many.”

The truth of Medklova’s words struck Collins. Before he knew it, he’d told Medklova his own regrets and thoughts concerning Vance. In time, both knew that they had made the right choice in “joining” Vance’s cause. From within they could save more lives than from without.

Now in the bathroom Collins half sang and half muttered, “You gotta help me out. Yeah, don’t you put me on the back burner.” It was Collins’ code for a plan that he’d waited months to implement; his defection to the Underground.

“You really shouldn’t sing that,” answered Medklova. “You will only bring yourself down. You need to run free with freaks like yourself.” The laugh Medklova released filled the room.

A smile crossed Collins’ face. He hated the cloak and dagger act, but the consequences of open sedition against Vance was well known. Open dissent happened once and the blood bath that followed would have made Joseph Stalin proud.

Regardless, Medklova’s response meant that he would help him that very night. It would be a long few hours before the plan would be implemented but the wait was worth it.

“You should run with me and my freaks, Oleg. You’d fit in.”

“Nyet. Freaks such as myself run where we can do more damage. You best stick to your own pups. There’s no room for old war dogs like me in that world.”

There it was. Medklova would be staying behind. Collins knew the Russian was a danger junkie, but not reckless. Something was off about Medklova’s attitude at that moment.

“Be careful, myshka. Sometimes freaks are never what they seem. Be well.”

Medklova rested his hand on Collins’ shoulder and then left.

“Yeah. I’ll see you later, Big Bear.” The door closed before Collins could speak. It didn’t matter what happened. Once the sun finished setting, Leland Collins would be a free lycan.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Dog World Insights, Dog World Press, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Four

Again life has gotten in the way. Blown minivan radiators, overtime at work, and Veterans Day parades that the kids are marching in have caused me to be late again. For that I apologize faithful readers. With that said, enjoy Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Four.

Chapter Four

 

Tori Kunpai took the news better than any of the three could’ve hoped. Each had expected either defiance or outright denial of the life saving transfusion.

Instead she sat still, in her room with Michael and Joanna resting their heads on a leg. She stroked their heads as she listened to what would be needed to save Kunpai’s life. “He’ll turn,” Sutton had stressed that fact over and over. She wasn’t keen on turning anyone any more than losing a friend.

Tori brushed tears away as she focused on Sutton, Jeanue, and Demarti.

“For twelve years I’ve let that man go to wherever the Corps sent him to fight. I knew what I was buying when I married him and…” Tori’s breath hitched in her throat and tears reappeared in her eyes. “And I am not losing him forever until I tell him it’s okay to die. He’s a Marine and he’ll follow my orders or else.” She tried to smile. “We have a deal. I die first. Not him. I won’t live without him.”

“He’ll become… like Dr. Sutton,” said Jeanue. She knew she was pushing the issue to the point of annoying redundancy “Sutton is confident that he won’t become Aberration, and I’m confident in her. But when he wakes up he might be a little miffed.”

“Let him be as pissed as he wants to be. He may even hate us all forever, but I’m not going to look at our children and speak those words. You save him. You get in there and save Omi.” Tori looked at Michael and Joanna. Michael was fast asleep while Joanna concentrated on what was being discussed.

“Will Daddy be okay?”  Tears trickled from her eyes, but her voice was steady

“Your daddy is going to be fine. Better than fine.” Demarti took a knee in front of her and took her hand. “He’s the toughest man I know.”

“Mommy says that Daddy is too stubborn and angry to die. She says he hasn’t gotten her okay to die yet.”

“Men like your father never die, sugar,” added Sutton, joining Demarti on the floor. “They only get meaner toward mean people and more cuddly to the people they love. Daddy’s going to be okay. I promise.” She kissed the Joanna’s head and rose to her feet.

There came a knock at the door and Bernerd’s head appeared between the frame and it. “Hey, hey,” he said, softly. “Janie wanted to stop by and see the kids. I see that we’ve come at a bad time so we’ll…”

“No, you won’t go anywhere,” said Tori, wiping her eyes once more. “Come on in, Ian. You, too, Janie.”

“We’ve brought friends,” said Janie, shuffling in behind Bernerd. Shelby and his wife, Allie, filed in with Patty between them.

“Sorry to barge in,” said Allie, hoping they weren’t being rude. “Janie insisted we come and Patty wanted to see the kids, too.”

“With everything going on, we…” Shelby paused. He had no idea where to go with what he was saying. “That is…”

“The children needed some stability. All things considered they could use the distraction.” Tori glanced at the clock. It read 8:10PM, though it felt later. “Please come in.” She shook Michael awake and his eyes lit up at once when he saw Shelby’s daughter, Patty, and Bernerd’s sister, Janie.

The children gathered in a loose circle in the living room and began talking among themselves.

“We’ve got work to do,” said Jeanue, excusing herself and Sutton from the discussion. “Come on, Paul. I’m sure you have other things to tend to before bedtime.”

Demarti nodded in agreement. The three left, leaving the parents and children to their own conversations.

In the hallway, Sutton stopped Jeanue and Demarti. She spoke to them in a quiet voice. “We’ll commence the transfusion as soon as we get to his room. Paul, I want you to be there the whole time. He could awaken as soon as the transfusion starts or not until it’s finished. The change depends on the person, but I want you to be there. In the event he reacts badly.”

“Do I need a weapon?” His concerned thoughts filled his face. “If he gets violent or worse we could be in trouble.” He looked to them. “Why am I even having this conversation? This is Omi Kunpai. He’ll be fine.”

“There’s a one in a hundred chance that he could turn out wrong. It’s been known to happen,” offered Sutton.

Demarti looked at Jeanue and she returned his gaze with unblinking eyes.

“Did you know this, Colonel?” The procedure began to worry him again.

“I’ve been briefed. Dr. Sutton will be there and ready to deal with any threat that should arise from that small chance.”

Sutton crossed her arms like she was defying Demarti to say anything else.

“Fine,” he said crossly. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

*******

 

Clarice sang Miss Murder, making the song sound like a melodic chorus instead of a rock anthem. The Flying Walinskis, as Dolly called the collective personalities, were in the air again and they loved it.

Cotton sat in the co-pilot seat, providing back up as Clarice sang. In the passenger compartment of the Blackhawk were Tan, Zellar and a third soldier named Isling. They, along with an Apache attack helicopter flying with them, provided security against any ground-based fire.

Clarice glanced out the window as the Apache flew its measured distance from them. All three of the personalities looked at it from time to time, longing to fly the war bird instead of the combat taxi they were assigned to. Flying the Blackhawk was a small consolation, albeit an appreciated one.

What they didn’t appreciate was the feeling that something was off about the mission. Dolly or Clarice would receive a flash of ill intent from within the helicopter. It vanished as soon as either personality reached out for it. “It’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle,” groused Dolly inside of Walinski’s mind. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone here isn’t what they say they are. I don’t like it.”

“I can’t quite grasp it either,” added Clarice. “For heaven’s sake. It could even be Gloria or Carla. Neither is keen on flying with poodles even if they are friendly.”

“Don’t think I haven’t thought that.” Walinski added her thoughts to the conversation. I can see Tan fragging Cotton though. Simply on the basis of what he is, I mean. She’s got revenge issues. I don’t get anything off of Isling. He’s human.”

“That don’t take him out of the running, girl. We’ve never met him before today.” Dolly’s scowl flashed before Walinski’s eyes. She grimaced at the sight, wondering if she was that ugly when she did it.

“Don’t you ever get tired of being paranoid, Dolly?” asked Walinski. In her mind she saw Dolly grin fiendishly as she answered no.

“I do,” said Clarice, frowning. “I grow weary of being on the alert. It makes me tired beyond belief.

Walinski felt what Clarice was talking about. The fatigue was almost overwhelming and her hand shook on the stick for a second.

“We’re nearing our third check point,” announced Cotton, checking the navigational systems. “We should be receiving those additional orders soon.”

“Hopefully they’ll clue us in. This secrecy is killing us,” responded Brenda. “The surprise addition to the mission package makes me nervous. She eyed the onboard Geiger counters closely to see if they made any movement. They were outside the DC blast zone, on the safe side of the fallout, but just barely. An errant wind could blow low levels of radiation at them, which wouldn’t be so bad, but a steady prolonged gust could theoretically prove fatal. It was a theory none wanted to test out. Intense exposure to radiation would kill lycans just as surely as it would humans.

Walinski reached to Cotton, and shook him out of his reverie. He’d been looking out of his window like he’d spotted a tail.

“You see something?” asked Dolly, looking out her window.

“Nah. We’re good. I’m just paranoid. I’m not sure I trust out wingmen. We don’t know much about them.

Walinski agreed with him, but Dolly distrusted his attitude. He’d been okay when they’d taken off, but the further they flew from Detrick the more he looked at his surroundings. Clarice had brought him out with a song, but that only went so far.

The radio came to life, dragging their minds back to the mission. “Raptor three six, Sand Trap five. Stand by for Detrick Actual, over.” The voice was Shelby’s and it comforted Walinski to hear it. “Roger that, Sand Trap five. Standing by. Over.”

“Raptor three six, Detrick Actual. How are you doing up there?” Shelby’s voice was replaced by Hughes. Walinski marveled how the man could sound so confident with everything he’d been through.  “Everything five by five? Over.”

“Roger that, Sand Trap. We are in the pipe. Zero contact since we’ve been airborne. It’s pretty much dead here. Over.” Dolly mentally slapped Brenda in the back of the head.

“That’s what we figured, Six.

The intelligence Hughes had given them suggested a motorized artillery battery supported by an infantry regiment was moving into position around there an hour ago. It was their scouts that Lewis’s S&R team had had contact with earlier. After the meeting Lewis had been told the gravity of what he’d experienced. It left him thanking his lucky stars that it hadn’t been worse.

“We’ve seen evidence of motorized traffic, but not a lot. If they’re out there they’re keeping their heads down and moving by the book. Zero contact,” said Walinski, looking out her window once more. Nothing stirred from what she could see. Her eyes lingered on the raging fire that had once been WashingtonDC. “I say again, zero contact.”

“Roger that,” responded Hughes. “Your new mission package is as follows. Turn to bearing two three zero, grid reference three three five, delta seven one. You are to secure a priority one package and accompanying security. Package will be marked with yellow smoke once you enter his airspace. Acknowledge.”

Walinski’s brow furrowed. “’His’, sir? Is the priority one a person, General?”

“Affirmative. It’s Secretary Dayton, Chief. We believe his position could become compromised and I won’t allow that. Acknowledge orders. Over.”

“Roger, Detrick Actual. Turning to on bearing two three zero for grid reference three three five, delta seven one. We are in route, sir.” She covered her mike, looked at Cotton and mouthed what the fuck to him.

Cotton shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

“Outstanding. Good hunting, Raptor three six. Detrick Actual out.”

“We’re picking up the SecNav?” said Zellar over the comm. She sounded as surprised as Walinski.

“Yepper,” chimed in Cotton. His voice and demeanor was buoyed by the news. “Now we’re going to get a pay off for all this.”

“Let’s hope for a quiet extraction,” added Zellar. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not up for a fire fight.”

“Second that,” agreed Walinski.

“Just looking for payback is all I’m saying,” answered Cotton. His voice held a whine that sounded like an admonished puppy, but his eyes were alive with the prospect of action. Walinski hoped he wasn’t going to do anything stupid. As a pilot she was wary of flying with strangers and she hadn’t known Cotton long enough to be comfortable with him.

 

*******

 

Tori Kunpai stood in front of Jeanue’s desk, watching the sleeping doctor that had just saved her husband’s life. “He’s awake and asking for you,” she said gently shaking the doctor.

Jeanue had fallen asleep at her desk with Sutton curled up on the office couch. Sutton’s cat, Dickens, slept on Sutton’s upturned left hip. With everything that had happened, Tori still thought of a werewolf owning a cat as surreal.

Jeanue raised her head and blinked her tired, red-rimmed eyes at Tori. It had been five hours since the transfusion. Sutton indicated that the effect would be noticed in as little as twelve hours so no one had expected any reaction so soon.

“He needs rest more than he needs to be alert,” muttered Sutton from the couch. She faced the couch back so her voice was muffled. Dickens stretched lazily and yawned at the sound of her voice.

“He’s thick-headed, obstinate, and a Marine. He barely listens to me. What makes you think he’d listen to two doctors?” retorted Tori.

“All due respect, Mrs. Kunpai, but your husband may need to have his hearing checked if that’s the case. I think he’s suffering from early deafness.” Jeanue stood and stretched her arms over her head.

“That’s not a problem now.” Sutton wiggled her hips in an attempt to get more comfortable. “His hearing will be better than fine. Now hush. Dickens is trying to sleep.”

Jeanue came from behind her desk to Tori. She held her right hand against her mouth and whispered, “Excuse her. It’s her time of the month. She’s grouchy.”

From the couch, Sutton raised her left hand and extended its middle finger. A low growl came from her throat as she lowered it back under the olive drab blanket.

Jeanue laughed. They were halfway down the hall to the elevators before Jeanue spoke again.

“She’s okay, Mrs. Kunpai. Doctor Sutton hasn’t slept in four days. She’s been working nonstop on refugee aid. It was at my insistence that she finally slept and that was after before she demanded to sleep in my office with that cat of hers. Ugh. Ghastly creatures, cats. Worse than dogs.” Jeanue gave a shudder as the elevator doors opened.

“And yet, here we are. We have a poodle sleeping on the couch and a cat sleeping on her. Everything’s a damn nightmare. Dogs sleeping with cats. It’s truly the end of the world.”

“Funny little world before. Upside down crazy world now.”

Tori smiled, and said nothing more.

They entered Kunpai’s recovery room, and found him sitting up, flipping through the TV channels broadcasting what varying news on the attacks. His face held a peaceful look that surprised both women.

“A thousand channels and nothing on but dog shows.” Kunpai dropped the remote on the bed. “You’d think the world was under attack by werewolves or something.” His attitude seemed to be better than they had hoped.

“How are you feeling, Major?” asked Jeanue, walking to his bed. She checked his pulse, unsurprised at its strength. “Any complaints? Headaches, nausea, ears ringing, blurred vision?” She put a stethoscope to his chest. His heart beat stronger than any base drum.

“Only one complaint. This place is running a deficit in burgers and fries. I could do with a chocolate shake, too.” He smiled and looked from Jeanue to Tori. The smile was unnerving to both. It was the smile of a piranha eyeing a potential meal.

“How’s our patient?” asked Sutton, coming through the door.

“Oh look. You brought the cat.” Jeanue eyed Dickens in the same wary way that Dickens eyed her.

Kunpai laughed. His laugh, even though it was of his usual amused variety, didn’t alleviate any worries. “Come here, kitty.” He held his arms out and took Dickens from Sutton. He stroked the calico, causing it to purr loudly. “Nice to not be allergic to them anymore.”

 “Major… Omi,” began Sutton. “I think you should know…”

“I know. I got a couple pints of you in me now. It’s okay.” He dropped Dickens to the floor. She walked to Sutton, pausing to rub herself against Jeanue’s leg.

“And you’re okay with that?” Sutton picked up Dickens. The cat’s purrs increased in intensity. To Kunpai the purr sounded more like a roar.

“Why wouldn’t I be? I feel better than I ever have, I get more years with my kids, and I’m still in the fight.”

“We’re just worried, baby.” Tori sat on the bed and took his hand.

“And rightly so, babe. The effect of Sutton’s blood was questionable, but c’mon, sweets. I’m an asshole, not a fucking asshole.” He looked to Sutton and Jeanue. “You did what needed doing. Sure I’m a freaking poodle now, but it’s because of a good one. My life was saved by a friend and I’m grateful to you for it, Sue. Now… when can I get the hell outta here for a kick ass BK value meal?” He smiled again, but it was a deeply vicious smile.

 

*******

 

Lewis, Shelby, Demarti, Bernerd and Mulcahey sat in the mess hall with Urbane and Sims. The room was silent as the soldiers ate from the tin trays Urbane had delivered. Lewis picked as his food and moved his baby carrots around nervously.

“Gotta eat, son,” said Sims, shoveling cherry cobbler into his mouth. “Didn’t they train you to eat at basic or AIT?”

Lewis looked at him, and for the first time noticed that the Master Sergeant had dropped some significant weight. “I’m not hungry, Sergeant.” Lewis stabbed his carrots with the fork.

“What’s up, El-Tee? You look like Atlas and the weight’s getting to you.” Urbane sipped his coffee. His gaze rested on Lewis’ face.

“We all have that weight on our shoulders, First Sergeant.” Mulcahey wasn’t attacking his food with as ravenous of an attitude as Sims, but he ate steadily. “Personally I’m glad to be out of the comms shack. I hate being cooped up with all the action going on. Know what I mean?”

Shelby spoke up, unable to stand the malaise at the table any longer. “We did just as much good in communications as we would standing watch with a rifle. Gathering intel on who’s what is as important as combat operations. If what we’re hearing around the globe is correct, then all is not lost.”

“Are we sure we’re actually getting info from friendly units and not Vance’s sappers?” Bernerd didn’t like speaking the possibility aloud, but he knew it would come up at some point.

“We don’t know one hundred percent, but the actions of the units we’ve had contact with are matching their words. We have to take it all at face value,” Demarti said, supporting Shelby.

“I don’t understand how you people can eat,” mumbled Lewis. “Everything’s gone to shit and you’re stuffing your faces.”

“Never pass an opportunity to eat, bucko. Surely they train you yanks the same as us.” Mulcahey smiled, waggling his fork at Lewis.

“Can’t save the world on an empty stomach,” Sims chimed in, scrapping cobbler remnants from his tray.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” said Hughes, entering the mess hall. He sat down next to Lewis and grasped his shoulder. “Hang in there, Patrick. The world isn’t lost to us. We’ve still got a lot of fight left in us.” He looked to the others. “So, who wants to rescue the Secretary of the Navy?”

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

Posted in Dog World Insights, Dog World Press, Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment