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03 December 2017 @ 09:51 am
_Stone_ part 25  

Mike's head jerked around toward his boss. "What?"

Wright was aiming at me. "You can't trust him. Get out of the way."

Mike was backing up and I was staying behind him. I don't know if it was accidental, but we were shifting west toward the arroyo. I suspect it wasn't accidental.

Since all the action had been to the east, most of the good guys were over there. A helicopter circled in lights shining down . . . But one of the SWAT guys was paying attention this direction. He went one way, Wright the other.

I bolted for the arroyo, leaping and dodging, then yelping loudly and barrel rolling off the edge.

It was only about ten feet deep, the side far from vertical with a lot of loose rock.

I scrambled across as it made an impressive crash and ran as silently as possible and skidded into a jumble of boulders as searchlights swept the ravine.

I froze.

Just another rock. No dogs here!

Just a fruitcake who needs to be taken away from his silly magic books!

The helicopter swung back to the dance floor, and I moved—suddenly stiff sore and hurting everywhere. My shoulder was bleeding again, and one of my back legs wasn't working very well, and hurting while not doing anything.

I didn't know if Wright had shot me, the Swat guy, or maybe I'd broken something going down into the arroyo. I didn't like the sound of 'broken' and just three-legged it down the dry stream bed as fast as I could quietly go.

I closed my eyes, and spotted the people all around me.

No one searching far out. Yet. I set myself for a long walk. I'd have to avoid Lancaster, they'd be looking for big short haired dogs . . . so I had about ten hours to find a place to hide for the day. And maybe the next night I could get out of the valley. Sooner or later they'd be out here with infrared scopes in the cold nights, and well I'd better just walk my three legs off tonight.

Chapter Cleanup

"What are you doing?" Mike backed Leo toward the lip of the arroyo. "Leo's on our side!"

"Get out of the way you stupid . . . " Wright dodged left and one of the anonymous guys in full SWAT gear headed right. And suddenly he wasn't pushing Leo anymore. Wright started firing, a scream, and Leo rolled off the cliff.

Wright ran forward teetering on the edge. "Get a light over here!" He spun and glared at Mike. "You! Get back there and clean up this mess!"

Shit, shit, shit!

"He just saved those four women's lives. He has broken three major clusters of the Forty-eight gang, that we've never gotten close to before."

Wright shoved him. "Shut up!"

"How are you going to locate the Pacific Northwest cluster? Mid-Atlantic? Upstate New York?"

"We know what they look like now. We'll have no problem finding them, tracking them down, and killing every single one of them. We will not work with one of them!"

"Leo was orphaned as a little boy and raised to be a normal American citizen. And he has never been a member of the gang, and has help the FBI and now the NSA."

Another anonymous SWAT guy walked up. "Sir, Agent Wright? What do we do with these?" A puppy dangled by the scruff of his neck from each hand. "They were little boys just a minute ago."

"Kill them. We're leaving nothing alive here."

"Including due process? We don't kill little kids." Mike growled.

Wright turned, his gun coming up . . . Mike's fist hit his jaw, and he went down. Out cold.

Mike grabbed his hand. "Ow! Ow!" He looked around at the black helmets. "Well, I don't suppose you brought anything to containerize werewolves?"

"You actually . . . " The one without puppies pulled his helmet off in exasperation so he could glare properly.

"We have some captives, from the Phoenix raid. The scientists are delighted. And a couple of youngsters who can be raised right? That will be a major break through." Mike looked over the cliff. It wasn't sheer . . . a pile of stone at the bottom shone clear as the helicopter's searchlights swept up the arroyo. "And since we've probably killed our only asset, we'd best do a damn good job of raising them."

The man holding the puppies swiveled his head, looking at his captives. "Werewolf puppies. I'll be damned."

Mike shrugged. "Not really wolfish, but . . . Do you guys have something you can lock them up in?"

The helmet-less one shook his head.

"If there's a pet store in Lancaster, we could buy some doggy crates." The puppy carrier sounded practical. Or maybe totally mindblown and past hysterics.

"Right." The first one grabbed his phone and poked a button. "Murphy, where are you? Good. There a pet store . . . "

Mike looked over at the men coming in, and raised his voice. "I need a count. Before it went to hell, there were eighteen men and five big dogs, and these puppies. What have we got? And the four women they were planning on killing? They took off in a car. Can we find them?"

"The women wrecked their car, not badly hurt. What do you want done with them?"

"Ambulance. Hospital. We'll talk to them tomorrow." Mike looked over as another man walked up.

"Fifteen dead humans, three injured. Five dead dogs. Not counting the one that went over the cliff. Did you say he was . . . friendly?"

"Yes." Mike looked down at Wright. "Well, I guess I'd better call his boss. I know Mr. Wright will want to fire me personally as soon as he's conscious."

He inspected the three injured, set a guard and walked back to the arroyo.

About the time he'd shifted enough rock to be reasonably sure Leo wasn't there, the local head of the NSA had arrived with a clean up team.

He growled a bit and muttered something about never questioning field decisions.

Mike refrained from asking if that was about Wright's field decision or his. Dr. Reid arrived, breathlessly excited to have two "hopefully not indoctrinated" specimens, and took everything, bodies and injured men, away.

The warehouse raid produced four women who said nothing. Dr. Reid had a fast test for the specific genetic abnormalities he was interested in. The women had forty-seven chromosomes each, and were hustled away.

It's all going to disappear. I'll be lucky if I don't disappear too.

The Bosses Boss finally pointed him at his car. "Go home. If Leonard Stone survived, he might return. Watch for him. I'll send a team to search his apartment."

"Yes sir." Mike headed out immediately. One of the SWAT types intercepted him. "Kemper and I . . . decided we didn't see what happened to Wright. What a thwat." He thumped Mike on the shoulder and sloped off into the desert.

Mike sighed. "Yeah. What a thwat."

For better or worse, he didn't fall asleep at the wheel. He showered off a ton of dirt, and blood that he didn't even remember getting on him or shedding from abrasions and cuts he didn't remember getting.

Fell into bed and let the world go away.

Two days later Wright scowled and wrote him up for unspecified unprofessional behavior in the field.

Chapter Mrs Armstrong

The rain was probably the only reason I didn't die in the desert. And I swore to never ever eat raw rabbit again. Especially road kill rabbit. Even if it was fresh.

So I limped, soaking wet and cold, back to my apartment.

Sort of. I needed clothes, and I knew it was foolish of me, but I really wanted Mom and Dad's pictures. I suppose I had to write off the car, but . . .

I slid into the back of the parking lot, through one of the multitude of holes in the fence. If I started at the uphill end of the building, I could go from balcony to balcony and only have to climb up one floor. Which sounded like a good idea, as tired as I felt.

My leg felt pretty good . . . the way the metal bits had oozed out of the hole they started in had been somewhere between fascinating and yucky. I'd taken a chance the first day, and made it across country to I5. I'd stowed away in a rusty old truck at a gas station. It had taken me most of the way home before it left I5 and I'd bailed.

And I'd better do the climbing right off, so there was less distance to fall if I slipped. I wasn't at all sure about my leg and jumping.

Wretched metal railing around all the patios. Nothing a big doggish sort of critter could get his claws into. And stucco walls. I eyed the third floor patios . . . There was one with a planter made from a wine barrel cut in half. It was full of plants, but there was plenty of wood showing.

Right. That was going to have to be how I did it. I walked back up hill and jumped up on a corner of a patio railing. Wobbled. Stretched across to the next and managed to not fall off. Teetered along and stretched across to the next and to the other corner and looked up.

There was the wine barrel.

At full height and stretch I could almost reach it. I crouched back. Leaped. Both paws through the rails and the left snagged the barrel and the right wrapped a rail. I dangled, got my good hind foot up. I slid my right front up enough grab the top rail and I was up and over. I laid there a minute, panting. Then the rain started again. I forced myself to get up, get back on the wet, slippery, rail and across to the next, and the next, where I slipped and fell with a thump. Onto the patio, not the three floor fall it could have been.

I edged into the thin shelter against the doors and laid down to catch my breath and find some enthusiasm for another couple of crossings. I'd lost track of where I was. I tried to find the enthusiasm to go look and see if I could tell where I was. How far I had to go.

If I had the energy to change it would have been pretty easy.

I was already soaked, so the difference between being wet and being actively rained on was minimal. I was shivering, and even so I think I dozed off for a few minutes.

The door slid open, and I looked up at Mrs. Armstrong.

"How in heaven's name did you get up here?" Oh that familiar glower!

I propped myself up and tried my most friendly smile, and wagged my tail.


mbarkermbarker on December 4th, 2017 12:54 am (UTC)
Now what is Mrs. Armstrong going to do when she discovers she has a naked man in her apartment...
ekuah on December 4th, 2017 08:59 am (UTC)
Does anyone remembers...
... the scene in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' where Bob Hoskins enters the wrong room with the 'wrong Jessica'?
Imagine that would happen to Stone. ;-)

If you don't remember, just search for 'Roger Rabbit-A Maaan' in youtube.
matapampamuphoff on December 4th, 2017 10:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Does anyone remembers...
Tsk! At 70 years of age? She'd be pretty unimpressed by naked man.