Saturday, July 8, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Seven

Ky was restless the remainder of the week. He couldn’t decide what to do about the incident in Nayenezghani’s region. The god didn’t just show up when you called him. Reporting it to the natives in the area did not seem the right action and reporting it to Raven was definitely the wrong thing to do. So, Ky did nothing but worry.

He lie in bed at the hostel and tried to reason it out. The man must have built the goggles and therefore, the obvious thought was he could build another set. If he built them again, what would the professor do? Come back to investigate further? Maybe the region would be lucky and a bear would eat him. Maybe he wouldn’t come back… They had the Laurel to thank for that. He might be too scared to try again.

By the time Ky reached the end of his work week the only real conclusion he had come to was that he was sure he needed to visit the Land of Nayenezghani to see if Professor Nathaniel Clayborne had returned to The Realms.
*****


At first Nat was concerned he would not be able to convince the General of what he found, but then Hawthorne heard his men’s testimony of the young man who turned into a wolf and he saw the actual footage on the surveillance cameras. By the time that was finished playing he could hardly wait for the professor to build six more pairs of goggles so he could send a team in to capture the wolf and bring him back to be studied. The general's mind was brimming over with ideas of how to utilize a wolf-shifting-man in combat and as a stealth weapon.

The team was armed with long range tranquilizer guns. The dosage was based on the estimated weight of the wolf from the lab footage. The professor, who intended to accompany them, was taking everything from sophisticated GPS equipment to a simple compass. Something had to keep them on course once they were on the other side. He also equipped the goggles with binocular capabilities this time.

The team would consist of Commander Daniel Hawkins, a decorated officer familiar with combat maneuvers, and his four men: Riley, an expert in K9 behavior; Prus, an expert tracker; Stone, their resident medic in case the wolf decided to take another chunk out of someone; and Younce, the best sharp shooter in the Committee’s employment; plus the professor. They were equipped to spend up to three nights, but hoped to find the ‘wolfman’ quickly.

The project was now Super Top Secret. Nat was asked to explain to Chelsie why she was no longer needed in the lab. That was difficult because he was not allowed to tell her anything about what he discovered. Eventually, the General and he agreed that the HR department should just reassign her, as if it were not anyone’s fault, just the bureaucracy having its way with the little people of the Committee. Nat never actually spoke with her.

By the end of the week, the goggles were built and the men equipped. Launch time was 7:00 am the next morning.

*****

“None of those are him,” Nat whispered.

It was the second day and the team was downwind from a pack of wolves feeding on a large elk.

“Granted there is not a gray among them, but who’s to say that he can’t change color as well as shape?” Hawkins asked. The General let them all see the footage of the shape shifter so they would know what they were up against.

Nat really could not argue with the man. He had no idea what Ky could do. “He said there were no others like him in this land.”

Hawkins squinted at the professor in disbelief. “You think he would tell you the truth?”

“I say we go by size,” Riley interjected, dismissing the other two men’s argument. “The largest black, and the white one, are the right size. Leave the other smaller ones behind.”

The Commander looked down the line of his men all lying on their bellies behind the large fallen tree. “Younce? Do you think you can take down both?”

The sharp shooter had the black in his sights already. “No worries Commander.”

“Prus, be ready to get on them. I don’t want to lose them because we didn’t see which way they ran once we darted them. Riley, you and I will keep an eye on the black. Stone and Younce keep an eye on the white.” Hawkins trained his binoculars on the black. “Take the shot when ready.”

The wolves scattered when Prus darted the black, but not before he put a bead on the white and caught it in the hindquarter as it turned to run. The team was lucky, the two stuck together and the dosage was high enough that they didn’t run far. They went down a few feet short of each other. The younger wolves backed off when the men showed up, but they howled their displeasure from a distance.

“This one’s a female,” Riley said as he removed the dart and rolled her over. “Got a litter of pups somewhere too.”

“I don’t know a lot, but I doubt the shifter can change sex, leave her,” Hawkins ordered.

“No…” Nat spoke up. “You’re right… what if Ky lied to me. Lied to protect his… his…”

“Pack is the word you’re looking for Professor,” Riley filled in.

“Yes… well, what if he did. She could be even more valuable than the male.” Nat knelt at her head and stroked the fur around her neck. “Imagine a breeding pair.”

“Okay, frankly, even after the footage we saw, I am having a hard time believing we have anything here other than two wolves. Overly large, I will grant you, but still just animals.” Prus said.

“Well, we will see,” Stone said. “After those little people last night, I would believe pigs could fly in this crazy world.”

The night before, the camp had been raided by the little people. Over the course of the evening, and into the night, the team’s equipment was repeatedly pilfered of flashlights, cooking pots, pillows, and Stone lost a pair of good wool socks. They saw the little people, in fact, the Laurels teased them by staying just out of reach, but they couldn’t catch one.

“We’re going under the assumption these are what we want. If they aren’t then we’ll come back and try again. Stone, you keep the wolves sedated until we muzzle them and build another sling. Get to it men,” Hawkins ordered.

They only anticipated bringing back one wolf, so they were only equipped with one muzzle and one sling to carry the animal to the gate. They weren’t far from the gate, about a half day’s walk, but they still couldn’t just pick the beast up and carry her.

Riley put the muzzle they had on the male and then fashioned another one out of his belt and Stone’s. They bound the black’s paws and then rolled him into the sling. They made another sling out of one of their bedrolls by slitting holes in the bottom and pushing two long saplings, they cut, the length of the material and out the far end. They nestled the white in that sling and decided, based on the previous days, they could make it back to the gate before dark if they hurried.

However, they hadn’t considered the arrival of another wolf… A large silver tipped gray.

Art by Kasia of DA

If you are enjoying this story, 
why not download the 1st book in The Twin Cities Series
It is another shape-shifting wolf's story.
It's FREE

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