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26 November 2017 @ 11:09 am
_Stone_ part 18  
 And the end of the first book, probably, but NaNoWriMo, so I've kept writing.


He stumped carefully in from the garage and grinned at the sight of the big dog under one blanket on the floor and his sister-in-law wrapped in another blanket on the couch. Neither of them stirred as they passed. He eased into the kitchen.

Nicole shook her head. "I'd kiss you if I could figure out where it wouldn't hurt. And would you like breakfast, or would you like some soup like your fellow hero?"

"Soup sounds like a good idea." He eyed her worriedly.

She snorted. "This wasn't your fault, or even your job's fault. It doesn't really even have anything to do with Stone. They were babbling things like what strong auras we had, when they'd seen us, they had to have us and so forth. Maybe Stone can explain, when he changes back . . . he will change back, right?"

"I think so. He said the last time he was injured it was five days before he could change again, so don't expect anything soon. Oh, and he may not know. I was investigating him." Kris looked around as Rachel trailed in, yawning. "He was orphaned or abandoned when he was five years old, raised by some nice, elderly foster parents. Meeting his blood relatives . . . has no doubt been a bit of a shock."

Rachel nodded. "He was terrified of them . . . I figured he was a coward. Or he'd done something horrible that his family rejected him for. Oh brother, did I get that all wrong."

Nicole shivered and leaned carefully on Kris's right shoulder—the one without stitches. "I had no idea . . . things like that were real."

Kris nodded. "Me neither, and in three weeks I'll probably decide it was all a drug induced hallucination. Except, well, Stone."

Rachel nodded. "Are they, I mean, Those NSA guys who told us to never talk about it? What will they do with Stone? Or to him?"

"I don't know." Kris looked toward the sleeping werewolf. "He may need to quietly leave the area."

***

"Mexico might be your best bet." Kris eyed the young man, sitting so uncomfortably on the couch.

"No passport, and yes, I could just trot across the border. But while I speak Spanish, I'll never pass as a native. All things considered, I'd rather stay in the US.

Kris eyed the books on the table. "Nothing on werewolves?'

"I've read everything ever written, over and over. As far as I can tell, it's all hogwash." The young man crossed his arms and thrust his jaw out stubbornly. "I don't believe in magic."

Kris sighed. "Leo . . . you're a werewolf."

"Dog. Sort of a dog. With lion claws. Doesn't mean there's not a scientific explanation. I see no reason to believe in demons and . . . things."

"You saw the same thing I saw."

"I breathed the same nasty smoke you did. Some hallucinogen. Just suggestion and smoke. I have no interest in pursuing the least sensible idea. I need to get somewhere, find a new job, get back to work and just be normal." He bit his lip. "Do you know anything about them? I . . . nothing ever leaked about actual . . . weird stuff?"

"The only weird I knew about was that the DNA traces from victims at every site had two extra chromosomes. We called them the Forty-eight gang."

"I see . . . every site? How many . . . how long has this been going on?"

The oldest kill site we've found is twenty years old. Thirty-five sites, the remains of a hundred and two women and two men."

"Err . . . "

"Not counting the two bodies between Albuquerque and the Arizona state line." Kris sighed. "I worked the sites on either side of the North and South Carolina border. There's a couple in Upstate NewYork . . . Were you in Maine?"

"And New Jersey and Connecticut. I found a couple of places I sort of remember from when I was little. Then I had a dream about a woman—I've dreamed her before. I think she was my biological mother. In the dream she said "I miss the desert." So I decided to head for Texas and see if anything stirred up any memories."

"Did it?"

The young man shook his head. "They spotted me in a restaurant. Or maybe they can see me the way I can see . . .feel . . . them."

"From two miles away, you said?"

"Almost three." He started looking cautious. "You said four clusters?"

"Southern California through Phoenix—and now extending into Albuquerque. And the Pacific Northwest."

"Is there anywhere that you've never heard of their activity?"

Kris shrugged. "They've got both coasts pretty well covered, but the middle . . . Denver, maybe?"

"Oh, that would work. I'd just need to get there without going through Albuquerque."

"I don't know if the NSA is watching the airport here. But I can drive you to Tucson." Kris pulled out the pre-paid credit card. "I owe you a hell of a lot more than a plane ticket."

"Oh. But . . . won't they trace it? The NSA?"

"They may. There are no guarantees in life."

"Right." Leo looked beyond him.

Rachel walked down the last three steps. "You can't stay, can you?"

Leo met Rachel's gaze. "I don't dare."

Kris looked back and forth between them . . . got up and left quietly.

***

Rachel sat down beside him. "I . . . Leo? Umm . . . "

There was sad acceptance in his eyes. "Rachel . . . I'm not close enough to normal myself to ever dare . . . a normal life . . . with, umm . . . "

"A wife. Children . . . I don't know if I'd dare have half-werewolf children."

"I don't know what they'd be like. Maybe the NSA can figure it out from the . . . people they captured. Of course they'll never tell us." Leo smiled wryly. "So why don't we just be friends, until I leave, which I probably ought to do fairly soon."

"Yeah, you know, you're a really nice dog and a nice person."

He grinned. "I like to think of myself as a person with both a human-form and dog-form. There's no . . . wild beast instincts taking over like in the movies. I hate werewolf movies. And it's not contagious. I think it must be genetic."

"I'm afraid to ask how you know that."

"Mom and Dad—my foster parents—said we had to know. They argued for a week over which one ought to be bitten, because the other one had the moral fortitude and ability to rid the world of the menace and so forth. And another week before I nipped Mom. And she scolded me and made me really bite her. I ran outside and barfed, at the taste of blood. Nothing happened. Then Dad talked me into biting him, just in case it only infected men. Nothing."

Rachel was stiffling giggles.

"Yeah, It was pretty funny, afterwards. It was actually a relief." I leaned my head back and stared at the ceiling. My relatives are not my problem! The FBI and the NSA can deal with them!

My problem is this gorgeous blonde leaning in for a kiss.

"I have to leave." I stumbled to my feet. "I have to." I turned and walked out the back door to collect the rest of my clothes.

***

Kris eyed Wright. "You want me to take over all the investigation and clean up for both Albuquerque and Phoenix areas? Everything?"

Wright nodded . . . grit his teeth. "Agent Kovac, much though it pains me to say this, my small group has spent the last twenty years investigating UFOs, Bigfoot sightings, crop circles, and chupacabras. As you might well imagine, this was considered a punishment assignment, and a place to put the politically incorrect agents. Fortunately, no seriously incompetent people. And real, actual, werewolves has us scrambling for personnel, not to mention facilities for our captured werewolves."

Kris paused . . . "Yes . . . I guess finding out you weren't a joke has been . . . interesting. How many werewolves did you capture?"

"Five dogs and seven men and boys who are sometimes human and sometimes canid. And six women we managed to track down when one returned to the houses we had under surveillance for something she'd left behind. Apparently none of them can change, but they've all got one or the other of the extra chromosomes. You and your buddy Leo killed nine and wounded eight. We found four more out in the desert and captured them."

Wright scowled. "So we're pretty busy, and really short on trained, experienced, investigators at the moment. And while we can request assistance of any of the various agencies . . . we really would prefer someone who already believes in werewolves."

Kris sighed. "All right, but only temporarily. Then I'm getting back to plain old crime."

Chapter Offer

L

Albuquerque

I'd only lived in Albuquerque a week. I'd stayed two days in a motel, then rented a grubby efficiency in a poor part of town. The biggest surprise was that my car was still there.

It was no problem getting into the apartment—years of unexpected changes had trained me in redundancy—the spare door key was where I'd left it, the car keys were where they'd been hidden inside.

Well, everything I owned fit right back in the six boxes I'd taken them out of . . . had it really been less than a month? I wasn't even late on the rent.

I humped the boxes out to the car, rolled up the futon and dumped it on the backseat.

Straightened to eye the man leaning on a post, watching me.

He shoved off the post and walked closer. "Moving again, Mr. Stone?"

"Yes." I eyed him. Government. Crap.

"Los Angeles is beautiful in the fall." He dipped his fingers into his shirt pocket. "Call me when you find your family again."

"I was hoping to avoid them."

He held out an envelope. "We need to find them. Stop them."

Oh Shit.

I'm neither a hero nor a cop.

Yet.

I reached out and took the envelope.

 
 
 
cnmckenney on November 26th, 2017 06:00 pm (UTC)
Cowed minions can be dangerous
I read a story years ago(don't ask) that seemed to me to be something that government agencies should read and profit by.

Main character gets recruited by combination of blackmail and threats. Spends years as GOOD little cowed minion. Follows orders, takes training, never tries for promotion, supports his bosses, says only enough wrong to not stand out. When he is ready he cuts loose and goes thru the clandestine side of the house like the Terror. Dead bodies with no leads, missing and corrupted files, blown covers and trashed operations all over the world. And disappears. Leaves a message with the one least obnoxious agent. "Don't find me."

Seems to me that minions that do not have your best interests at heart are a bad idea, philosophically as well as practically. Maybe someone in NSA(????)(seems like wrong agency for this kind of kerfuffle) gets a clue and works Leo with carrots rather than stick.

Edited at 2017-11-26 06:02 pm (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on November 26th, 2017 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Cowed minions can be dangerous
Oh yes.

Except Leo's a good guy and doesn't need much co-ersion. Not that Wright understands that, but he's not the best and brightest. He was sidelined into this dead end joke of a job . . . that is suddenly a big deal.

It's gone to his head.

Leo just needed a little nudge. Wright sees him as a dangerous animal, to be used and disposed of.

He will get what he deserves . . . eventually.
cnmckenney on November 26th, 2017 06:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Cowed minions can be dangerous
Ohaaaaaaaaa!! (evil laugh) Rubs hands together. Mwaaaaaah! I can hardly wait. I LOVE watching morons get their JustDeserts (Where is Michael when you need him?).
mbarkermbarker on November 27th, 2017 05:40 am (UTC)
Sequel, sequel, sequel... the continuing adventures of Stone, part-time Werewolf! Yay. You need another series, doncha?
matapampamuphoff on November 27th, 2017 01:16 pm (UTC)
No. However, this may well be Part One of the stand alone novel. Part Two . . . I will start posting in a few minutes.