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01 December 2017 @ 06:50 am
_Stone_ part 23  

"Oh . . . a career bureaucrat. I backed a practical, intelligent fellow on a project . . . Bloody internal office politics and power mongers."

"So here you are. Tracking werewolves."

He laughed. "I'm fucking sitting next to one! Just don't tell me there really are chupacabras."

"I haven't a clue. I wonder if some of the Hunters take down livestock? But then I suppose someone would be complaining about coyotes or . . . are there wolves in the south?"

"There are some, except they're mostly coyote-wolf hybrids. I always figured they were the cattle mutilation perps. I'll have to reconsider, now."

"Ha!" I closed my eyes again. Sipped coffee . . . "I think there's one way out Highway 14. Drive that way. There must be more than one of them, and maybe we can catch another closer to home."

I closed my eyes again, tracking him . . . but what if he spotted me? No, he was driving. Paying attention to the road and the other cars . . . as we got closer I turned my meditation inward thought about a shield between me and traffic coming from the other direction. If he's going 60 one way and we're going sixty the other . . . I stifled a giggle at the thought of this as one of those stupid algebra problems . . . I counted out a minute and peeked out . . . we'd passed him and were pulling away . . . and there was another, no, two in one car.

I swiveled my mental shield around to face them and peeked out at road signs. They live further out than this.

"There are two more coming toward us. Do you have a dash cam?"

"Of course. It's watching you."

"Turn it around and get in the left lane. Let's see if we can pick up some license plate numbers." I peeked around my shield. "That clump of four cars? They're in the first car in the center lane."

"Nissan Altima. Light silver." Mike rattled off the plate number. "We're coming up on the exit to ///."

"Keep going." Rear Shields, maximum power! I looked forward . . . nothing. "What's ahead? Lancaster?"

"I think Palmdale's first, fifteen more miles, maybe? Shall we scope it out?" Mike looked over his shoulder, to change lanes.

"Wait. We've got more coming. Third car in the left lane, then in the center lane . . . " I was in and out of looking and "looking" for a few minutes, and getting a head ache before I ran out of Hunters.

"Seven of them in five cars. So ten total. Let's keep going and make sure we've run out of werewolves, then we can do sweeps on our way back and see if we can pick up anything."

Those were the last I felt, so we did a quick sweep of Lancaster, and headed back for Palmdale. I check the thermos. No coffee.

"I'll find a Starbucks." Mike sighed.

I pointed. "MacDonalds. Their coffee is no worse and a whole lot cheaper. And I can get something to eat."

Mike pretended to shudder, but he turned in.

"Park I'm going to hit the restroom." I swung out and headed inside. Look, poke all the fun you want. They have clean restroom and cheap food. What more did I need?

I looked at Mike, squeezing into one the seats outside.

Oh, right. Adult sized seating.

I bought a large coffee and two sausage biscuits and walked over to join him. Looked down the sidewalk and put everything down hastily. "Watch. Don't interfere."

Two medium sized dogs, puppies. Short haired, more of a yellow lab coloring than my brown, but they had my same smallish ears just flopping at the tips, the square muzzle a bit shorter than say, a Great Dane. Broad muscular build, big paws with prominent dewclaws.

They were sniffing around, excited, pretty much like any escaped puppy. Three, maybe four months old? Hard to say, since I knew so little about werewolves.

One spotted me and froze. The other looked around flinched back and crowded up next to his brother, hackles coming up.

I closed my eyes. Bright little sparks, no noxious overtones.

I opened my eyes at their high pitched growls. "Morning. I'm new in town. Can you tell me where to find . . . " I stopped talking as they turned tail and fled.

Mike joined me, to watch them bolt around the next corner and head west.

I closed my eyes and watched them, tried to gauge how far they went before they crossed the street and mixed in with a half dozen other auras.

I opened my eyes to find Mike watching me.

"They don't feel like Hunters, but they surely do look like them. Let's take a drive past and then we—or rather you—can call Mr. Wright."

We were sort of between Palmdale and Lancaster, the houses on the right of the street more spread out, a couple of empty lots. On the left, several businesses, a couple of houses converted into businesses, and a warehouse with eleven glows . . . five of them sickly greenish.

I read the address aloud, assuming that the dash cam would pick it up. We drove past, not pausing or slowing. Just normal traffic, nothing special.

"Well. Not bad for a week's work." Mike was grinning. "I suspect Mr. Wright will want us to watch them tonight, and see of the . . . Hunters . . . come back tonight. To the warehouse or elsewhere. So lets go park well away from here and I'll call him."

They parked along a side street in Palmdale.

Leo cranked his seat back and closed his eyes. Sort of watching the highway, but mostly listening in to Mike's half of his report.

After the basics—the warehouse address, the car descriptions and licenses—there were a whole lot of "yes, sirs" and "no, sirs." Way too many "but, sirs."

He finally clicked off. "They'll raid the warehouse at midnight. I'm to take you home and keep an eye on you, you evil creature. So you won't warn them."

"Gah! We don't even know if that's where they'll be at midnight!" I sat back up and eyed Mike. "All right. Are you willing to go by the purpose of the orders, or are you going to stick to the letter of the orders?"

Mike eyed him. "What exactly are you talking about, here?"

"Going . . . What do you think? Ten miles north? I'll be way out of range of possibly warning anyone. But, first point, that's one direction they might go if they don't go to the warehouse. We might have a fifty-fifty chance of being in the right place to see where they go. Second point, if things go tits up at the warehouse, if they need help, we're only ten minutes away."

"You're going to get me fired!"

"In the long run? Getting you fired would probably save your life. You really ought to get out of the werewolf hunting business."

"Umm . . . Yeah. I can see that. All right, let's get out of here." He glanced at his watch. "It's only ten in the morning?"

"Morning started early. There's a sign for a park. Follow it, we can pretend to picnic and take a nap instead."

Mike bit his lip, then nodded.


We moved north at three, found a restaurant and found a nice restaurant an early dinner.

The first Hunter drove past as Mike was signing the credit card slip.

He called Wright—they were still in LA, getting organized for their midnight raid.

Wright . . . well, I could hear him yelling and the phone wasn't even on speaker. He was cussing up a storm, I reached over and tapped Mike's shoulder.

"If they are heading out into the desert, they may be planning a dance tonight. We have to follow them, right now. If we can't find them . . . "

The invective from the phone changed. "Don't trust that son-of-a-bitch-werewolf" was coming up twice as often. Mike tucked the phone into his shirt pocket and led the way to his car. Two more Hunters drove by and we followed at a hopefully safe two miles distance.

Until more came up behind us. I checked the map.

"That huge windfarm is off to the right, up ahead. I suspect they'll turn left somewhere up here. You will keep going straight until the ones behind up are out of range, then we'll turn back and follow them."

More cussing from Mike's pocket.

"If," I raised my voice, "they are just clearing a dancing floor, we'll hang back and observe. If they have kidnapped some people to sacrifice, we'll hold off as long as possible, so you can get here, but we will try to rescue them if the ceremony starts."

I ignore the noise coming from the phone. It was getting repetitious.

"There's a dust plume to the left, like a car on a dirt road."

I closed my eyes to check.

"Oh fuck there's more ahead. In a car coming at us. Just drive along, don't even look at them." I sank down out of sight and thought about mental shields. Really? This is so stupid, there's no such thing, I'm just psyching myself out of seeing-feeling them.

Uh Huh? Like this is any different than feeling them in the first place?

"There's three cars. Turning off ahead . . . Bacus Road . . . Leo . . . this woman threw herself against the car window. I think she may have been screaming." Mike sounded like he was hyperventilating.

I edged my magic shield down a notch. Eight sickly auras and four clean white ones. Behind us the car turned off as well.

"I pretended I didn't notice." Mike's voice was a little high pitched.

I eased back up and looked. Several miles west, dust plumes hung in the still air. "We're going to need to drive very slowly. Let's go two miles, turn around and park for a bit. We really don't want them coming up behind us . . . Okay, another . . . two cars behind us. Seven more hunters . . . That's eighteen, a bit more than we thought were here." Two other glows . . . I know them, those are the pups we saw.

Behind us, the two cars turned to follow the others. I concentrated on looking south and felt nothing . . .

"All right. Turn around." I looked hard both directions. "All right. Let's sneak up on them really slowly."

I closed my eyes and left the driving to Mike.

"Uh, Leo, we just ran out of paving."

(Anonymous) on December 1st, 2017 04:11 pm (UTC)
Leo's gonna get to be a foster dad?!

Lots of first/third person switches. That'll be fun to clean up later! (Reminds me of editing my college roomie's freshman English papers-but she didn't know she shouldn't.) You're still getting a feel for which this will be?

matapampamuphoff on December 1st, 2017 08:15 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to do Leo in 1st, and the other POVs in 3rd. It's amazingly difficult to switch.
muirecanmuirecan on December 1st, 2017 08:09 pm (UTC)
From those mind touches it looks like the young might be able to be saved up until they take part in one of those damn dances.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on December 1st, 2017 08:22 pm (UTC)

Congratulations on the 37K words so far.
matapampamuphoff on December 1st, 2017 11:08 pm (UTC)
I hit 50K Wednesday, with a day to spare. And halfway through the climactic battle with the HEA to go. Actually there's a lot of repetition and worldbuilding and such that'll get trimmed out and/or incorporated in small chunks.

Really, I'm impressed with the number of page views I'm getting, as raw as this is. You guys are tough.