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!
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.