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02 December 2017 @ 08:00 am
_Stone_ part 24  

I opened my eyes. The paved road turned south to something . . . a big solar power plant? The unpaved road ahead dipped down into an arroyo. But the dirt road was graded, the dip not too abrupt.

"Why are there fifteen ways to cross here?"

"Umm, people having fun with dirt bikes and things? This isn't the pristine desert I was imagining." I closed my eyes. "The last ones are straight ahead, almost out of range."

Mike drove carefully, following the most obvious trail down into the arroyo. As we climbed back up, I started feeling something.

"Look for a road, or just tracks, off to the right. North."

"Yeah, there's another graded dirt road. I'm a city boy. From the East Coast. I didn't think . . . I mean, there's not even gravel!"

I grinned. "Well, me too, but I suppose in a desert with little rain and less traffic . . . I wonder where these roads go?"

"They must go somewhere." Mike stopped the car. "Turn here?"

"Yes. And . . . those things up there? Let's park behind them, and get as close to out of sight as possible in a flat desert."

He turned and drove slowly. "It looks a little hilly further on."

I felt . . . "No that's too close. Are those joshua trees? That thicker bunch there, they're well off the road, get in between them. Are you armed? A rifle would be nice. Yes? Excellent! We can sneak up on them. You find a good watching spot and I'll sneak around and see what I can do about their prisoners."

And thinly from Mike's pocket, "Don't trust him! He'll betray you to the werewolves."

Mike reached into his pocket. "Sir? I'm going to sign off now to conserve my battery. Do you have an ETA?"

"Twenty hundred hours."

"Eight PM? That's . . . the Sun will be completely down by then." I swallowed. "They start the ceremonies when the sun touches the horizon."

I got curses in reply.

Mike gulped. "I'll call you with an exact location, when we find it." Click. "I'm going to be tarred and feathered and run out of the Agency on a rail as part of the firing process."

"Sounds like fun." I started taking off my shirt.

"Leo! You're not going to, to . . . "

"Oh yes I am. I suspect one more big dog has a better chance of getting close enough to rescue those women than a man."

"Oh. My. God. I'm not going to look!" He scrambled out of the SUV and went around to the back. I got out my side and took off my shoes and socks. Reached for the dog-form as I peeled out of pants and boxers.

Chapter Rescue

The desert was beautiful. The sun was a hand-span above the horizon, throwing long shadows across the dusty red soil. There must have been rain recently the sparse clumps of tough dry grass were showing new green blades. There were even tiny flowers to focus on and pretend reshaping bones and muscles didn't hurt.

And that the tape on my shoulder wasn't pulling hair out as my should shape changed. I reached around with the last of my human flexibility and ripped it off. Bleeding again, dammit.

I stretched, then padded around to watch Mike loading up with extra ammunition.

He eyed me warily.

I gave him my best grin and tail wag.

He glowered at me. "I'm going to wake up any minute now and laugh at this absurd dream. Lead on."

I trotted further up the road. there were cars parked haphazardly in a slight dip, and beyond the next rise, all the auras, good and bad, that I'd tracked here. The women were on the north side, so I circled to the right and, glancing at Mike, crouched down and eased up to the crest. Mike followed, bent over, then flattening to crawl. He stopped beside me, and I felt him stiffen. It was a drop of only about four feet to the dance floor. The women tied to posts were far enough to out right that Mike could shoot out at the Hunters without endangering the women.

Until the ceremony starts. And they start slicing up the sacrifices.

I ran a quick head count. Thirteen men, seven dogs.

The five large dogs had the same sickly glow as the men. The two pups, running around, excited, didn't.

I'll bet they do . . . after they've danced with the Demon. I shrugged my right shoulder uneasily. Cut by the sacrificial knife. I wonder what my glow looks like.

The ground rose behind the women, rocky hills beyond them and mountains silhouetted against the darkening sky. On the far side of the cleared circle, the ground fell away into another arroyo.

I put a paw on Mike's shoulder and pressed down.

He nodded, and snuggled down with his rifle. I hoped he was a good runner. I backed up and slunk further north. I needed to get down to those women. In dog from I had a serious bite and sharp teeth. I could easily cut them loose.

If they didn't panic and alert the Hunters before I had them all free.

Please don't panic!

And while I'm at it, Please, no one see me. I'm an invisible dog, nobody to bother noticing, one of us, yawn . . .

There wasn't much in the way of cover, but the low sun helped with maximizing the shadows of brush and tall clumps of grass.

I made it around to the west end of the line of poles and slunk into the circle and up to the first lady. She certainly saw me, and whimpered.

Well, I had no way to tell her I was the good dog of the bunch. I crunched down on the rope that was tied tightly around one ankle, then ran behind the pole to her other ankle. Short enough to pulled her feet back behind her center of balance and leave her teetering on her toes and held back from face-planting by the ropes that bound her wrists together. It did not look comfortable.

She scooted her feet out and leaned back against the pole. I reared up a bit to munch the wrist ropes.

Then I dropped back and peeked around her legs. No one looking. Except that lady. Wide-eyed. I slunk over to her pole. Bit through the bottom rope, Reared to gnaw at the knot around her wrists.

Half done. I slunk to the next pole. The woman was sagging limply. I sliced the bottom rope, but she was so out of it . . . I headed for the last pole. A terrified woman, trembling and shrinking away. Bottom rope . . . She started crying—loudly—as I chewed.

The rope snapped, and as I'd feared, she staggered forward, attracting a whole lot of attention as she wobbled, realized she was free and ran.

The leader cast a quick glance at the other three then headed for the runaway, half the crowd with him, the rest watching.

I dashed back to lady number three and chewed desperately through her ropes.

And to my astonishment, ladies one and two were there to grab her and haul her out of the circle.

I bolted after the first group as the snap of rifle fire echoed off the hill and the first man crashed to the ground.

I blindsided a big dog and tumbled across the ground, jaws locked on his neck, front claws hanging on and back claws raking. Dropped him as blood spurted, jumped a man and crushed his shin bone with a single bite.

I turned and charged two men running toward the trio of women. I knocked one flat, then leaped side-ways to intercept another dog. Got my back feet into his belly and left him screaming on the ground. The last man fell at a loud report. I herded the ladies east, and when they spotted the cars, they grabbed the fainting one by the arms and rushed her to a blue Chevy. The hysterical woman spotted them and bolted to them, leaping for the driver's door. The smart ones shoved the fainting lady in the back seat. One piled in there, the other into the passenger seat as the car roared to life, backed in a half circle, hitting two men, then roared forward over a dog and disappeared in a cloud of dust, orange in the sunset.

And suddenly lights everywhere.

Big black vehicles with headlights and search lights disgorged men in black SWAT gear . . . and Mr. Wright.

"Simpson! Where are you!"

"Here, Sir!" Mike paused a beat to make sure the SWAT types weren't going to shoot him.

Not a chance. They all had their guns pointed at me.

I'm a good guy, I'm a good guy!

Mike hadn't missed that, and trotted across to me. "You okay, Leo?"

"Woof!" I wagged my tail, careful to show no teeth at all. I mean, these SWAT guys were trained to kill puppies these days. They looked a little less tense.

All right, so it was only half of them. Well, a couple. The others were corralling the lightly injured . . .

"Simpson, step away from the werewolf."

ekuah on December 2nd, 2017 03:08 pm (UTC)
Oh great...
...an idiotic boss.
Hellbent on getting rid of any any evidence/witness of his own incompetence.

(Anonymous) on December 2nd, 2017 07:08 pm (UTC)
RE: Oh great...
Can Wright tell the difference between dogs? Mike obviously can.

matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 02:20 am (UTC)
Re: Oh great...
He can. He wants them all dead.
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on December 3rd, 2017 06:07 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Oh great...
He is an idiot isn’t he. Pity he can’t e bit and infected.
cnmckenney on December 3rd, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh great...
I could postulate that he is another kind of para-human and the WW can out him so he wants them all dead to protect himself and maybe others. Or he has an arrangement with the WW leaders/demon and is trying to eliminate the link that can mess with them. Or he is just an AH and likes the power trip of killing.
matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh great...
Or he has something in his past that triggers the "Nuke them from orbit!" response.

I haven't gone into that, but I've considered and when I pick this back up, I may go deeper into it.
mbarkermbarker on December 2nd, 2017 11:35 pm (UTC)
With 20 bad guys — okay, some dead or injured, but... running away in the background? Mr. Write, I hope you dropped a containment group, too!
matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 05:37 pm (UTC)
The actions of the Hunters screwed his plans and his time table. He was planning an urban raid on a building with finite exits.
matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 05:44 pm (UTC)
However, see above. Mike's a good shot.
mbarkermbarker on December 4th, 2017 12:57 am (UTC)
He's also an incompetent twit...
ekuah on December 3rd, 2017 12:35 pm (UTC)
Stone need a...
...Police/FBI/SWAT or something jacket for his canine form.
You know those (sometimes bullet proof) things that the K9 units wear.
(Can't put up a picture link here)
Hey even a jacket with "Service Dog" would help against trigger happy fingers.

Also i'm not sure if it would be imposture. I mean pretending to be an officer is at least a misdemeanor. But pretending to be a police dog???
I would love to see how they try to find a judge for that. ;-)

matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Stone need a...
With any luck, Stone will be content with this story and this won't turn into another series. But if it does, he's going to need something like that.

Of course in this case, creeping up on the enemy camp, he couldn't wear it. He needed to be taken for "one of us" if one of the Hunters looked his direction.

Edited at 2017-12-03 05:45 pm (UTC)
ekuah on December 3rd, 2017 07:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Stone need a...
I think his action "chew through the ropes" pretty much blew that possibility.
matapampamuphoff on December 3rd, 2017 08:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Stone need a...
At that point he's behind the post and the prisoner. Before that he needs to just be one of the dogs walking around. He'll never pass a serious inspection. He just has to not raise the suspicions of anyone who notices him.