This Valley Of Ours
Wakan ran around a corner giggling as the gray-haired geneticist ran around. Feigning a hard chase as he ran around the house looking for the little wolf-morph. Wakan growled once before jumping out and grabbing his leg. Laughing as he held on while the man walked with him clinging to his leg. He finally yelped once as his tail was caught underfoot.
"Ahhhh! Christ," The man stooped and picked up Wakan as he inspected the tail. Wakan whining as the man sat down after setting Wakan down facing backwards so he could look.
"Youíll be alright," he said before patting Wakanís head and sitting down next to him.
"It still hurts though!" Wakan whined before spinning around and grabbing his tail so he could stroke it.
It was later when he was in bed when he heard a crash and yelling. Wakan crept out of his room to look down the stairs to see men in black with sub-machineguns holding his father back in the chair next to the study desk in the living room.
"ÖYou are hereby charged with crimes against humanity for the proliferation of Genetic Knowledge and Technology. The sentenceÖ" Wakan growled and ran down the stairs for the first man as he spoke. There was a loud crack as the butt of the compact gun hit the side of his head, just forward of the right ear as he fell to the ground.
It was hours later when Wakan woke in a bed, a strange smelling room, and an odd man standing above him.
"Ahhh, so the gene-freak is awake. Sorry state you were dropped off here in. And now, they took your previous master and youíre left with me arenít you? Going to have to teach you not to be so rashÖ"
Wakan woke with a gasp as Cloud turned from the TV mounted on the far wall of the hotel, Hannah and Fred having stayed at the house last night. This morning they would switch off again for the next few nights.
"Bad sleep?" Cloud asked as Wakan shivered once before sitting up in bed, letting the sheets fall around his hips.
"Yeah, just a bad dream, always have it when I get bad feelings," Wakan grumbled before glancing at the screen.
"Yeah, about that bad feeling. I got some too," Cloud turned and enlarged a section of land west of the Rocky Mountains. The one spot that was cloudless, until a brown dust rose in lines from the desert floor. Cloud zoomed until lines of vehicles could be seen, tanks, LAVís, huge MRAPís. light gun-buggies, supply trucks. And above them circles of UAVís and helicopters. The satellite link cut off as Cloud switched to a different view to the north. A similar scene unfolded below the satellite.
The satellites Cloud had taken had been protected by ground-based servers. All Cloud had done in the past weeks was gain a hard-wire link to a satellite-service dish atop one of the mountains near the resort. From there he could link to a geostationary satellite that had been owned by the company that stayed in our hemisphere. From there Cloud had learned how to hack access codes and control sequences of the satellites that hadnít been hacked or taken already, a simple procedure for him. There was a field day when he had first found out how to do it weeks ago and had gained high-resolution imaging satellites, two of which now doing a fly-by of our hemisphere.
"Call Hannah and Fred. That attack the humanist propaganda keeps ranting about is starting," Cloud waved at Wakan as they both stared at a single tank turn its turret and blast at a gas-station forward of the convoy. The shell blowing out half the station as the rest crumpled. A single fur was spotted by the satellite running before falling under a helicopter gunship.
Hannah fell against the granite shower wall as I shoved her back. Only to growl and rebound back, kicking out my legs and landing on my midsection as I lay on the shower floor. I flipped over to lie on top of her pulsing body, teasing her mouth with my own before feeling Hannah guide my shaft into her. She murred as the water flowed over us and pooled around Hannah as she lay over the drain.
The phone kept ringing as Hannah dragged blunt claws over Fredís back, depressing tiny points of skin as she gave a long whine. She finally gave a loud yelp that echoed out of them room over the fourth series of rings as Fred shoved her into the granite floor. Red lines followed her claws as she pulled Fred closer before having her whines silenced by Fredís mouth. She gasped as he finally drew away. Her heat feeling better already as Fred lay for a moment before tickling her sides.
"Your heat feeling better?" I asked as Hannah squirmed under me.
"I think another round would help make me feel better," Hannah replied as I stopped tickling her. Then abruptly got up, pulling out of her and rinsing for a second before shutting the water off.
"Keep on thinking, because Iím done," I stepped out of the shower. Before pausing at the door to the stall and turning around to extend a hand down to Hannah.
"Done only for now," Hannah shot back before grabbing a towel and twirling it.
"Whip me with that an OW! FOR FUCKS SAKE!" Hannah giggled as I felt the angry red welt on my shoulder before grabbing another towel.
The cell phone rang once before clicking to audio immediately.
"Hey, can you guys pick up the phone sometime?" Cloud asked as Hannah unfurled the towel and covered herself. I did the same in case the video was on.
"How the hell did you get on without us answering?" I asked before flicking the silver rod once before the screen fluttered out and lit.
"All I did was crack your phone. Anyways, you guys should probably see the uplink to the satellite I sent you.
Hannah watched muted as Cloud disconnected and the phone switched to movie mode. The whole screen showing a connection status before lighting up with a desert landscape of the American west, in an aerial view.
"What the hell am I supposed to do about this?" I asked as Hannah watched the satellite show a group of refugees miles in front of the fast-moving Humanist army reach the western foothills of the Rockies.
"Stop them?" Hannah whispered before taking the phone and flicking the screen shut.
"Stop them! Thatís a god-damn army on this highway, heading for us; the most we could do is run, Hannah, and hide somewhere else," I walked to the tub next to the shower stall and sat down. Hannah sat down beside me, rubbing my arm before starting on my back.
"Couldnít you use mines or something that came in the truck?" Hannah whispered.
"Yeah, that would take out all of like ten vehicles. And that would TOTALLY slow them down," I shot back. I really didnít feel like running from humanists again. But it looked like it would happen again.
"You donít have to be sarcastic to let me know it was dumb, Fred," Hannah sighed before looking at the steel rod, then throwing it aside.
"Is there any way we can do something else other than run away and watch them kill more furs on the east side of the Rockies? Like slow them down?" Hannah asked as I got up and filled up a cup, my mouth was already dry.
"I donít know Hannah," I sighed before getting up and walking out of them room. Hannah stared at the far wall.
Cloud and Wakan rechecked the sentry guns that day. They decided to load up belongings from the hotel, like computers, sensors, and various weapons before sleeping at the house with ourselves. It wasnít until that night when I was sleeping when Hannah snuck into my room during the night.
"Youíre awake?" Hannah asked before sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Been awake," I answered before sitting up and running a hand down her curved back.
"Have you considered anything other than running?" She turned and set her legs on the bed beside me.
"Have you considered that we might die as it is currently?" I leaned back and stared at the ceiling.
"Well consider the options, Fred," Hannah swiped her tail over the blankets I had washed earlier. It still smelled like cleaner.
I sat upright again. "Oh right, howís íbout we stick here and die huh? Lets see, I can sit on the middle of the highway surrounded by landmines with the 20mm rifle. That would totally stop them."
"Why donít you stop being so narrow-minded and consider ALL the possibilities. You saw those refugees and how fast that army was moving. DO you want to see it repeated in the east?" Hannah pulled her legs up and hugged them to her chest, rocking back on the bed.
"I wonít have a chance to see them decimate the east if I try to even slow them down," I glared at her in the darkness. I could only see her outline, but I knew she was there. And she was staring back at me. "I know youíve been thinking about ways to slow down an army, Hannah. And the only thing I can think of is by taking pot-shots at them until they decide to spend resources on hunting us down.
"Have you considered an EMP, Fred?" Hannah whispered before laying back on my legs.
I hadnít considered that possibility, but even so there was still problems, not only were they hard to make, even for the military and the few individuals who posted videos on the internet that could get the materials. Even so, most vehicles and gear, save the light ones, were shielded.
"No I havenít, but let me ask you this, why are you trying to talk me into slowing down this army?"
"Because I care about my future, and others," Hannah said softly.
"Right, but if you consider what I said earlierÖ"
Hannah rolled forward and placed a knee on my chest. feeling like a rock on my sternum as she sat for a moment tracing the vein on my neck slowly as I stopped talking.
"Just consider the possibilities, Fusatani," Hannah whispered before pushing her palms off my shoulders and laying down. "Can I sleep with you tonight? Itís hard to sleep by myself now."
"Yeah," I grunted as she rolled off the bed to let me raise the covers.
"Did she mention the FCG to you, Fred?" Cloud asked as he sipped on a cup of coffee he had mixed with Jack Daniels.
"What is a FCG," I groaned sleepily from the counter. The floor did the same as I drifted to the coffee machine. Doing the same as he did to my own coffee that Wakan had brewed earlier before going out.
"Flux Compression Generator, used for EMP," Cloud said before holding up the screen-tablet. A single piece of translucent glass rimmed by brushed steel-like material, it was able to be bent around almost any way to a certain degree. Good for surfing the web and doing basic things.
Cloud went through the basics of the FCG. Explaining how the explosives and the coupled coils that were used to generate a powerful Electromagnetic Pulse. The device itself was small-scale on the diagram, but could be scaled up. The only issue would be storing enough power, then releasing it to the coils fast enough when the explosives detonated to create a pulse.
"Can you make one?" I asked as Hannah walked down the stairs slowly limping.
"Yeah, but itíll take a while," Cloud leaned back as he waved a hand over the tablet. The semi-translucent screen shutting down after his hand like a wave passing over a pond.
"How long?" Hannah asked as she leaned on my shoulder before sniffing the coffee and wrinkling her nose.
"NOT THAT ONE!" Hannah yelled as she grabbed the coffee. "Itís too early to drink." Hannah blew a raspberry before dumping the coffee and began to walk toward the stairs. She hadnít straightened out her tail-hairs which were all ruffled from the previous night.
"I swear, I was going to say seven hours," I said as Cloud just wrinkled his muzzle and put his cream-filled cannoli down.
"I guess that goes to show you where her mind was," Cloud mumbled as he tried to lick the white filling off his muzzle inconspicuously.
Cloud gathered materials after breakfast for beginning the project while Hannah sat and watched more satellite images. During the night Cloud had decided to take a few older satellites nobody had used in years. And nobody had hacked as of yet. And dedicated them to watching the advance of three columns of vehicles approaching the Rockies.
"FRED!" Hannah yelled from her place on the chair she had dragged in front of the TV in the study.
"What, Hannah?" I asked from down the hall, collecting and cleaning the guns one by one.
"Just get over here!"
I racked the slide of the Glock 35, the magazine slid in smoothly before I set it on the table with the clean guns.
"Whassup?" I poked my head into the study before Hannah simply pointed at something on the screen.
A group of refugees were walking on a highway. Many of them in pick-ups and trailers. Ahead of them, several miles out, in a series of gullies and hills several groups of light tracked UGCV Ripsawís with machineguns began to take position.
"They passed the group a few minutes ago. Then circled around to where they are now.
"Hey, you guys doing anything important or can you help mÖ" Cloud poked his head through the door before seeing the screen and freezing at the view of the imminent ambush.
"CLOUD! Canít you hack a radio or something!?" Hannah almost yelled as she looked at the refugees nearing the ambush.
"I can hack a radio, if they had a computer, and even if it was on I mighÖ"
"JUST DO SOMETHING!" Hannah screamed.
"LIKE WHAT!?" Cloud yelled back as he saw the Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicles roll forward slightly as the refugees crossed a crest of a hill roughly two miles out.
"RADIO THEM!" Hannah yelled back.
"Christ, by the time I radioed them theyíll all be dead. Hell, you SUPPOSE that if they get a radio theyíll believe me? OR EVEN ESCAPE?!" Cloud shot back.
Hannah glared at him before standing up and walking out of the room. She came back only a few seconds later. Her claws clicking on the wood floor as she briskly walked back into the room.
"Hey, HEY!" Cloud yelled as he backed up. Hannah cocked the S&W once before raising it.
"Do. Something. To. Help." She growled as began to raise the gun.
Hannah gasped as her legs were swiped out from under her with one foot. A hand grabbed her wrist with the pistol before she hit the floor, wrenching her around during the fall to a sudden stop. The Smith & Wesson clattered to the floor, making a little gouge in the wood as it hit hammer-first. I flinched as I watched it clatter to the side.
Hannah gasped again as I yanked up to bring her to her feet before twisting the captive arm around making her face Cloud as I pulled her back to me.
"Say youíre sorry, and then explain why I just flipped you around," I growled as Hannah breathed heavily. A long whine escaping her muzzle.
"Iím sorry," She hiccupped before I twisted again. Making her spin to face me.
"You already know why I did that. I can see it in your eyes," I whispered as I brought my face to hers. She flicked a tongue over her nose, refusing to look away. "Donít be stupid anymore, youíre better than that."
Hannah glared at me as I let go before bending down to pick up the S&W. She looked back before lifting the pistol sideways, then pressed hard on the mag release. Nothing came out of the butt.
"I donít care if itís unloadeOMPH" Hannah whipped the pistol down before turning around and stomping around the room.
"Jesus man, you had to pick her for a girlfriend, didnít you?" Cloud watched as I gasped, holding my rib-cage.
Cloud looked up as a link opened up on the TV screen. The refugees were at a mile and a half now.
"I wish I could do something, I really do. But what she suggested is pointless," Cloud walked forward before tapping a few keys.
"I could do one thing, but it might give away the fact weíre hacking a few satellites," Cloud mumbled before looking at the screen.
Another satellite activated as he found one in a degenerating orbit. The boosters firing as he sent command signals for a destruction sequence. A graph on the side of the screen showed the trajectory of it hitting the atmosphere in a long arc.
The refugees paused a mile out from the drones as they watched a comet streak through the daytime sky. The satellite on the main TV screen showed a few vehicles slow down; others drift for a second before continuing.
"What did you hope to accomplish by dropping a satellite?" I asked as Cloud sighed.
"Maybe they would have stopped in another life long enough for them to think," Cloud shut the TV off as the first Ripsaw UGCV rolled over the hill toward a pickup.
Wakan came back for dinner as Hannah stayed upstairs. The rest of us three eating in silence as the weather outside darkened. Bringing rain and thunder as we ate what fresh food hadnít begun to expire. Cloud was the first to leave the table, walking to his room while tapping a few keys on him palm-interface. The room lighting up as computers turned on. Wakan soon followed him before I placed all the dishes in the washer before walking up to my room.
Hannah slept in my bed as I looked for a clean pair of boxers before walking into the shower. She kicked the sheets before I closed the door, the light narrowing down in the dark room before cutting out.
Hannah shifted as I got in bed behind her. Pulling her closer as she murred before waking up, rubbing my hand over her belly. She didnít say a word as she leaned back into me. She was warm, and soft. I pushed my head into the pillow as she murred again before rubbing my arm, gradually slowing down as the both of us drifted off.
Cloud stared at the satellites in their individual orbits on his tablet. Folding the screen to control the view, the refugees still on his mind as he looked at the individual probes pointed at earth until a certain pattern caught his mindís attention.
Eight long satellites stood on end over each quarter of the globe. Sixty-four oddly-spaced satellites, either stationed over seas or land. Each one with an indicator above it, most of them reading 10, except the one near the center of the U.S. 6. He looked at thin blue lines connected to three surveyor satellites in each hemisphere also. He paused in disbelief at his own ideas, wondering if they were even his own before beginning to rap on his keyboard.
Hannah woke up first, nuzzling the covers before turning around on her sore wrist. She stared at the man laying next to her before pushing his long black hair out of his face, he really needed a haircut.
"You didnít have to hurt my wrist yesterday," Hannah whispered as Fred woke. Still stroking his rough hair before pulling herself closer, feeling his chest below her breasts.
"Heat again?" Fred mumbled as he felt her slip her thumbs under his waistband.
"Hard to tell when Iím around you, always feels like Iím in heat," Hannah giggled a little before pulling the boxers down to Fredís knees. Then slowly reached up to feel his growing morning wood, using her other hand to prop herself up.
"Gonna get you pregnant at this rate," Fred mumbled before Hannah shifted closer and pulled the tip of his shaft into herself. She paused for a second before hugging Fred and rolling the two of them so she was above Fred. He grinned once as he clutched her back and rolled again. Using his weight to pin her to the mattress, Hannah only growled back before rubbing her hips back and forth.
Cloud paused once at Fredís room before continuing walking as he began to hear Hannahís whines increase to loud gasps.
Cloud walked out the door and sat next to Wakan as they both looked out over the lawn and driveway into the pine trees.
"Did you tell them what you started to do with the Kinetic Strike System?" Wakan leaned against a wooden support beam.
"No, theyíre trying to make little Satoís in a wedlock," Cloud leaned back. "Plenty of time left to tell them. Code-breaking on a server that size is going to take my computers, all of them, days to get finished."
This Valley Of Ours
"You did what?" Fred looked at Cloud leaned back in his chair. Looking smugly at the screen showing a status indicator slowly increasing as it counted off floating point calculations.
"I said, I hacked the KSS, most of the servers were ground-based, of course thereís the last-line of defense servers but thoseíll only take a few daÖ"
"YOU FUCKING HACKED THE KSS?" Fred thundered as Cloud flinched. Hannah looked at the ground as Wakan fingered the wooden chair he sat on with a single claw.
"YEAH! I mean look, you guys wanted me to do something. I did something," Cloud shot back growling as his hackles rose as the chair slowly heightened.
"YEAH? And I think it was a dumb-fuck move! What if they track us? What if they find out about it and decide to use it again so you canít?" Fred stopped as Wakan coughed.
"They canít track it, Iím using different dishes all over the damn hemisphere every hour! Not only that if they decided to hack it I would know! Look, this little Ďstuntí might seem extravagant. But imagine all the lives this would save. Did you forget THEREíS A FUCKING INVASION!?" Cloud growled as he glared at Fred.
"Get the fuck out," Fred looked at Cloud.
"Do it. Now," Fred growled as Hannah stepped away from the door so he wasnít pointing at her.
"Why? You know this is logical, itís safe, and itís moral. Youíre just being hard-headed," Cloud shot back.
"Safe? What if you screw it up? Thereís always a margin for error!"
"Fine, if Iím wrong, Iíll leave, if Iím right, thenÖ"
"If youíre wrong, we die! Do you understand? We DIE!" Fred yelled the veins in his neck looking like bruised cords.
"If we die, at least we tried," Hannah whispered.
"What?" Fred spun. But not unkindly, more in surprise.
"I donít think youíre considering how big this is, Fred," Hannah continued. "What if, IF he hacks the Kinetic Strike? Have you considered what that could do?"
Fred stared back at Hannah while the computer hummed.
"Fine," Fred finished before walking out the room. The argument was gone as quick as it had started, almost bi-polar in nature. Hannah shrugged and walked over to Cloud before patting his shoulder and walking out likewise. Wakan watched her walk out before leaning back further in his seat.
Night was upon the cabin again as Cloud continued working in the basement. Wakan had quickly learned how to built, what was hoped, a set of working EMP devices. Soldering the leads of what parts they had needed scrapped from various cars. From the ignition coil of generators to heavy-duty wire.
Fred on the other hand lay in bed. Hannah was in the other room, hadnít snuck in yet. Fred knew what would happen though. She would say she wanted some alone time, then change her mind.
He turned his head. "Hannah?"
"Couldnít sleep either?"
He sighed, "You could say that."
"Whatís going to happen to us Fred?" She asked as she sat on the edge of the bed near him before pulling his hand onto her lap.
"Hey, I told you nothing was going to happen that I didnít allow. You doubtiní me now?" He grinned in the night, even though he could feel Hannah stop rubbing his hand.
"Iím not doubting you," She began but stopped.
"Then thereís nothing to worry about," He said before pulling Hannah down for a hug.
"I'm sorry for overreacting to what happened earlier," Fred whispered into her ear.
"It's alright to be worried," Hannah whispered back.
The next morning dawned early as the sun peeked slowly past the shutters into Fredís room. Hannah woke first, snoring coming through the open door from downstairs.
Fred slowly opened his eyes, as Hannah turned. He had thought about what Hannah had said, and had stayed up well past her, thinking.
"Ready for another big day?" Hannah asked as she snuggled closer to Fred.
"Somebody sounds a little cranky," Hannah smirked as she ruffled Fred hair. Getting a grumble in return before feeling her tail being ruffled backwards.
"Maybe," Fred grinned back. Then slowly rose on one elbow before swiveling over the edge of the bed and standing up.
"Work today?" Hannah pulled the sheets back over herself.
"You know it with that invasion rolling in." He rolled out of bed, striding over to the restroom, pushing the door open before stepping inside. Not bothering to close the door behind him.
"Canít we spend more time together Fred?"
"You make it sound as though something bad is going to happen," Fred asked before gargling in a cup and opening the shower stall to turn the hot water valve open.
"You make it sound as though nothing is going to happen."
"Maybe nothing will happen," He felt the water in the shower before throwing off all his clothes and stepping inside. The glass automatically turning into a frosted tint as the home's systems adjusted to a body in the shower.
Hannah quieted; it was useless to argue more. Cloud, Wakan, and Fred had already made up their minds. They would set up a series of EMP devices in a town several miles to the west. Hopefully slowing the invasion down, then, from what she gathered, Cloud would simply put the KSS into degenerative orbits. Rendering them useless to everybody, and thus, harmless. And they would leave the town as the invasion force regrouped and considered what they were facing.
She listened to the shower hissing in the next room as she rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. After they stopped the convoy, then what? The soldiers would disperse, and? All four of them would have to hide, maybe for a few days or weeks as the soldiers retreated by foot. The entire force wouldnít be destroyed because theyíd be using multiple highways. But it would help. Maybe they would give up and turn around? Wakan said they would. But she was doubtful. A few useless vehicles, and they were only miles away from the edge of the range. She didn't want to mention it. Or even think about it. But there was the very real possibility of the force continuing.
God! She felt so restless as she rolled over again and rubbed her abdomen. More stuff to worry about. She should have had her heat by now, or, more like a week ago. She looked again at the shower room and thought about the Pregnancy Test kit she had brought home from the abandoned supermarket just in case. And even though it was for humans, she hoped it would work on her also. Slaves, or, in this case, ex-slaves had very little options if they got pregnant.
Wakan sat over the coils of the EMP as he soldered several more pieces of copper wire together to complete the last line of capacitors. He leaned back and stretched as his massive frame arched toward the ceiling while his back gave loud retorts in its own way of communicating its relief.
Cloud looked up from his workplace. A half-eaten breakfast sitting in front of him while his laptop monitored the progress of his desktop on the first floor above them.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Cloud queried.
"What thoughts?" Wakan growled before looking at the finished EMP, three more to go.
"About the fighting, about everything," Cloud waved his hand over the food, watching the light refract in his fur over the colors of the eggs and waffles.
"About everything? Well, I noticed something the other day."
"Whatís that?" Cloud spun his chair around and scooted over to Wakan to look at the EMP.
"Have you noticed anything different about Hannah?"
"Like what?" Cloud said, lifting up one of the coils to look at the soldering job. "Only thing Iíve noticed is her scent, thatís about it."
"You know what that smell is?" Wakan poked Cloudís side before leaning back in the chair.
"No idea, enlighten me."
Wakan looked a little nervous before finally blurting out. "Sheís pregnant."
Upstairs Hannah looked at the two red lines on the test kit, and looked at the box again before tossing both of them. Then stopped and looked at the trash before picking up the box and kit before shoving them elbow-deep in the trashcan, making sure that they were well buried. She even waited to make sure the shower was still going.
By the time noon came around, Cloud had predicted how much time it would take before the convoy hit them. At their current rate they only had two days, two days of preparation. Two days of choosing where to hide. And two days, for what? I hadnít said we would be hurt, much less die, even though Hannah seemed to think otherwise.
There was a drone in the air as Hannah slowly stirred on the bed. The curtains parted as the binoculars pushed past them. Another recon drone following the highway, all evening they had been flying back and forth, turning about at the end of the mountain range a few miles away, then passing back over us. Tonight we had to go set out the EMP devices before readying the house and gear for hiding the day after.
"Fred?" Hannah moaned from the bed before squinting at the dusk light still seeping through the crack in the drapes. The purple growing darker by the minute.
"Are you going out tonight?"
"I think so, good time to set out the EMPís before they get any closer." The curtains fell back in place as the binoculars made a dull thud on the table.
"Fred?" Hannah got up and walked beside me to look into the mirror over the drawers.
"Will you marry me?" She slowly pulled out a box.
"I was wondering where I put that." My hands brushed the velvet case as Hannah let me take it from her hand.
I stared back at the window. "You know whatís going to happen if I say yes?"
"Please Fred, not now."
"Something bad is going to happen, always, so for now, I want to say no," I sighed as the box clicked open in my hand.
"But, I didnít finish. I said I want to say no. But Iíve been saying a lot of things for myself, not for anybody else recently." The ring slid out of its groove in the white satin holder as I found her soft hand.
"Hannah, yes, I will marry you."
There was a heavy pause as I passed the ring through my fingers and around her finger. Tears welling up in her eyes before she grinned.
"You make me so happy," Hannah whispered before hugging, then let go before she pointed at the clock.
"We should get ready to go in an hour or so."
"That you are right," I grinned before hugging her again and planting a kiss on her.
Cloud sat up stock straight in bed and looked at the door.
There was a small knocking on the door. Cloud paused for a moment before walking to it and opening it.
"Ready to go?" Fred asked as behind him Hannah tried to peek in to look at Wakan.
"Yeah, I got ready before dinner, remember? I just have to check to see how the uplink and the decryption are doing then we can go." Cloud sleepily turned around and waddled to his dresser, pulling on a pair of pants and a jacket.
"Can I wake him up?" Hannah asked as she walked into the room past Cloud to look at Wakan.
"Yeah, heís supposed to go anyways," Fred said as Hannah looked him over once.
"Well, can I have fun with waking him up?" Hannah asked as she poked one of his ears only to giggle as it flicked in annoyance.
"Sure, why not. Iíll help you." Cloud said as Fred looked at the clock.
"Yeah, Iím in also, we have the time." Fred said before looking at the bed.
"We could tie him to the bed," Cloud said before Hannah looked at him.
"Or I could give him a rude wake-up call," Hannah smirked, showing her teeth.
"Or we could do them both," Fred grinned also, before turning around and walking out the door for the room. "Iíll bring the rope."
Wakan turned in the bed. He hated trying to wake up in such a warm bed. But something was bothering his leg. He reached down as he pulled his leg up to scratch the ankle. He felt a lump around it as his leg stopped short.
"Wadda fuk is dis?" Wakan growled sleepily before his eyes opened wide.
"BITCH BETTER DO AS I SAY OR HE GETS A SPANKING!" Hannah yelled as she hefted a kayak paddle over her head in her black lingerie.
He rolled over to the side as Hannah brought the paddle down with a loud crack on the mattress before hefting it up again.
"SHIT!" Wakan yelled as he got up and leapt for the door as Hannah grinned evilly.
Just as Wakan leapt, the rope around his ankle caught the leg of the bed. It was a smaller queen sized-bed. Just as he dashed in front of Hannah to get to the door with the rope stretched in front of her, it finally hit its end and instantly became taut. All two-hundred sixty pounds of timber wolf morph jerking the entire bed over by its rope as he went muzzle-first into the carpet. Hannah gave a small squeal as the bed knocked her legs out and threw her back on the mattress as Cloud and Fred hysterically laughed from the doorway. They laughed harder as Wakan scrabbled at the carpet and dragged the bed a few more feet before snapping the rope and rolling his body into the wall.
Hannah looked up from the bed before making a feeble attempt to lift the paddle before she too collapsed, gasping for air.
"You guys are such assholes, you know that?" Wakan gasped as Cloud dropped to the floor laughing.
"No, youíre just too easy to play!" Fred gulped in-between bouts of laughter as he leaned against the wall before Wakan glared back.
"Iím going to rape you one of these nights and itís going to be Hannahís fault." He grumbled before smiling himself. All the animosity gone already.
The night seemed to go by faster as they drove seven miles out to the next town. Putting the EMP devices on the slopes and hooking them up to a chain of cars. Each device was put inside of any car lying about. Then driven up a mountain where the battery, now fully recharged after idling, would be re-wired to the EMP devices. Then Cloud hooked each of them up to a laptop he had Ďborrowedí from an electronics store, and then hooked them up to an outlet inside of the car, also wired into the power cell battery.
There were six cars total. All parked in various spots around the smaller town. Just a few houses and a store, gas-station, and restaurants, a motel sign towered over the gas-stop sign. They had picked their resistance here, in this small town, where they had to cross a bridge before they entered it's limits. The granite peaks towering over them as the moon slid behind the peaks. An elk bugled in the distance as the foursome walked back to the truck Fred and Hannah had picked up on the first day of fighting, what seemed like an eternity ago.
"Do you hear something?" Cloud stopped and tilted his head before asking the other three. Wakan stopped as did Hannah and nodded in unison.
"Whatís up?" Fred whispered before he stopped with them.
"Engines, lots of em," Wakan whispered before looking around. "We better get going or hide, right now."
"Do you think they have UAVís?" Fred hurriedly asked before Cloud shook his head. Hannah looked at the truck across the street.
"Nah, it sounds like lots of cars."
"Then get in the truck, we should go and get all our stuff packed in. Cloud, whereís the highway security thing you set up? Shouldnít we have gotten an alarm by now?" Fred said before walking to the rear of the pickup.
"The tablet is in the cab man," Cloud replied.
"Alright, well Wakan, can you drive? Iím going to sit in the bed in case they see us. Fred struggled to keep up with the faster morphs.
Wakan simply nodded as Cloud reached the truck and tapped the screen on his tablet, quickly scrolling through the options that he had set up. Just before Hannah jumped in the back seat of the truck, she quickly changed her mind and hopped into the bed of the truck. Fred caught up finally and jumped into the bed also. Taking his rifle that had been laying on the plastic mat covering the bed and flipping open the scope covers as he scooted his back to where the cab of the truck met the bed.
The town receded quickly, almost disappearing around the gradual bend of the valley as Cloud received a satellite uplink in their hemisphere for a climatology probe. He entered the latitude and longitude co-ordinates and Fred and Hannah kept watch over the back of the truck. It was only five minutes before Cloud received a conformation on his uplink. He frowned as the column behind them, roughly two miles behind them, stretched out at least three miles. And another several hundred miles behind that was the Humanist convoy. But this closer one, looked like a huge number of civilian cars.
"How far back are they?" Wakan asked as Cloud began to check what the auto cannons on the highway were reading out.
"Too far back at the rate theyíre travelling to catch up with us by the time we get back and settled in if thatís what you want to know." Cloud mumbled back as he set the cannons to safe mode so as not to hit the moving convoy. He looked back to see Hannah and Fred still staring in the bed of the truck as it rumbled down the highway.
As they reached their own town Wakan slowed near an open storefront, letting Hannah and Fred jump out as Cloud and Wakan sat for a minute in the car looking at maps before doing the same.
"So, have two here and two at the house?" Wakan asked as had been the plan should they encounter anything such as this. Behind him the convenience store next to the exit ramp sat dark and foreboding as the wind whistled down the highway past the near-pitch black town.
"Thatís always been the plan," Hannah quietly said as Fred looked at the rifles in the back of the truck.
"Then the final question is which partner stays where?" Cloud mumbled back as he looked at the surrounding peaks. His fur shimmering in the patchy moonlight coming between the clouds and hitting the landscape in its calico patterned waves.
"I say we switch up," Hannah said. Everybody froze and looked at her.
"Of all the times you could have said to switch up, you bring it up now?" Fred asked incredulously, a rifle still sitting in his hand mid-way out of the bed of the truck as he continued to stare at her.
"Why not?" Hannah shot back. This time Wakan broke the silence as a dark shadow passed over them.
"Well, we work better in the pairs weíve been working in, and of all the times you could have said it, now would perhaps be the worst time to bring it up." Wakan suddenly stopped talking, looking as if he had just yelled at Hannah. He meekly turned around and faced the truck. There was a pregnant pause before Cloud spoke up.
"Well, lets get this show on the road, Wakan and Iíll stay here first," He offered as Fred mutely nodded. Hannah simply continued to stare at Wakan before turning to help unload what was in the truck, medical equipment, rifles, ammunition, etc.
Just as they finished and Fred walked to the truck Hannah stopped him while Wakan and Cloud headed into the convenience store. Soon they were heard on the roof.
"I need to go and talk to them, wait for me ok?" Hannah asked Fred as he nodded and hopped into the truck. Another light patch of moonlight wafted over the town like an apparition from the graveyard as Hannah walked into the store. Slowly making her way to the back where there was a ladder for access to the roof.
"Hey, can I talk to you a little bit?" Hannah asked as she popped her head up the hatch for the roof access as Cloud and Wakan turned from their unpacking.
"As long as you donít beat me," Wakan smirked before walking over and kneeling.
"I wanted to tell you this before we heard the convoy. But Fred agreed to marry me," Hannah whispered as Cloud and Wakan gave a nod, and then stopped as the fact sunk in. Their muzzles spread in a huge grin.
"And thereís something else," Hannah began but was cut off by Wakan as they continued their silent talk on the gravel-top roof.
"You wanted to say you were pregnant?" Wakan asked as Hannah put her ears back slightly.
"Howíd you figure that out?" Hannah asked as Cloud looked at her.
"Easy Ė we have noses," Cloud said as he leaned over to flick Wakanís long muzzle. Only to get a growl in response.
"Well, what I wanted to add to that was that, donít tell Fred, ok?" Hannah said as she looked directly at them.
"Why not? Wakan kept grinning as he stopped kneeling and sat heavily.
"Because, if Fred finds out, he isnít going to let me help you all when the convoy hits the town," Hannah whispered.
"I still donít see why he wouldnít like that info," Cloud said as he too sat down.
"Because, heís always been protective of me; imagine how paranoid heíd be if he found out I was pregnant," Hannah hissed back before hearing the truck door open and close below.
"Sounds like heís coming to see whatís taking you," Wakan whispered before getting up.
"Alright, I better go back to him, but remember what I said," Hannah shot back at him as she began to turn.
"Alright, alright, you donít need to gat your fur in a twist," Cloud said as he patted himself off as he too got up.
"Better not tell him, or both of youíll be skinless," Hannah grumbled before sliding down the ladder.
"Everything ok?" Fred whispered as Hannah met him halfway to the entrance of the store. Hannah leaned over and hugged him tightly before kissing him.
"Fine, just nervous about the coming storm," Hannah whispered as she led the way out of the store.
Miles away from our foursome squad, hundreds of military vehicles moved along the highway. Above them a contingent of UAVís flying recon. At the forefront was UCGVís. Or Unmanned Combat Ground Vehicles. Followed by heavy tanks, APCís, and trucks. All of them had a green circle with an "H" in the middle painted onto their bodies, looking very much like miniature helipads. The convoy made a serpentine pattern in the mountains as dust was kicked up and blown about the valleys for miles about them. Visible to all satellite cameras as they continued their trek eastward, toward Fur and sympathetic human counterparts grossly outgunned by the enormous amount of armament that made up the convoy.
This Valley Of Ours
It's always darkest before the dawn. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. They guide me in the darkness with its light, and the shadows recede. The light that guides. The light that fights. The light that empowers. And until the dawn can come, it is the light that protects the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It is the light from thy staff that brings the golden light. ~ Forgotten Nevermore
The sun rose over the valley slowly, as if reluctant to herald the new day. Slowly creeping over groups of buildings in the valley as the last of the refugee convoy escaped past the town and continued eastward, Wakan and Cloud had watched them pass their position from the roof of the convenience store. And now Hannah and Fred watched the motes of dust creep down from the sky into rays of sunlight as they looked at screens laid out on small boxes atop the rooftop.
"You guys have the watch now?" Cloud sleepily asked Fred as he nodded in mute acknowledgement.
"Well, Iím going to check on the EMPís and the KSS stuff from back in the cabin and."
"And try and get some rest," Hannah finished for him as she watched Wakan groggily raise his rifle and begin down the ladder.
"This afternoon we set off the EMP?" Hannah confirmed with Fred as he nodded. They looked at the monitor Cloud had left propped up against a wall. The red lines he had marked as enemy slowly creeping across an overhead view of a map.
The noon passed them, like the line on the map creeping ever closer to their position, it was at one when Cloud and Wakan came back, their arms loaded down with food for the wait. All they had to do was remotely detonate the EMP and voila, stopped convoy, go back to the cabin, and hide. A little later, when Cloud had access of the KSS he would dump them in the ocean and be rid of those weapons, even though he could do that now, he had decided to wait.
Hannah began to pace as the hour neared when the four of them would set off the EMP. All of them felt nervous at the prospect of what was to come. Fred began to count the ammunition he had and tried to recall what was in the emergency backpack that had more in the MAV. He was sure that he was off by several dozen before Wakan nudged him.
"Cloud is going to run one last check on the EMP stuff before the convoy gets there, just to see if itíll work."
"You havenít done that already?"
"Sorry, slipped our minds." Wakan turned around to watch Cloud, signaling to Fred that the conversation was closed.
A few minutes of tapping passed before Cloud nervously looked at the other three before he went back to the screen. He mumbled.
"We got an issue."
What was that?" Fred looked up from the map he was looking at.
"He says we have an Ďissueí" Hannah filled in for Fred, swiping her dark hair from her eyes.
"Well, what kind of issue?"
"EMP isnít working," Cloud tapped his tablet before looking up at Wakan.
"Well, can we fix it?" Hannah asked for Fred, her ears bent back a bit, mirroring her anxiety.
"We might have to go to the EMPís" Cloud glanced at the other tablet showing where the convoy was. "And I think we have just enough time."
"Well, who should go?" Fred was also now nervous. They had been waiting on the rooftop for this next hour before they went to hide once they knew the convoy was stopped.
"I think I should anyways," Cloud timidly said. No objections were made.
"And Iíll go with you," Fred added after a few seconds of silence. Hannah looked at him with an expression of nervousness etched on her features that was not lost to Fred.
"Nothing will happen Hannah. I mean, this should be a minor fix anyways." He got up and looked at the gear. He picked up the ACR he had been holding earlier and slung the M24 over his right shoulder.
"Be back soon!" Fred chimed as the stoic Cloud went down the ladder first.
The MAV rumbled over the barren highway as Cloud held a HAM radio and his tablet showing diagrams of the EMP. Slowly studying one while tuning the other so that Fred and himself could talk to Wakan and Hannah should anything be needed.
The town was in sight faster than usual, Fred driving a bit faster out of nerves so they could start and finish faster on their work.
"Which one first?" Fred asked before looking at Cloud for an answer. He immediately pointed to the exit, motioning to the right as Fred slowed for the turn-off.
The EMP sat as it had been left in the back of a car. The exposed voltage coils gleaming in the patchy sunlight that was darkening quicker by the minute under the graying sky.
Cloud quickly checked the squat cylinder while Fred looked around at the mountains, keeping a tentative and nervous watch. Cloud muttered as time ticked past. On the tablet Fred could see they only had forty minutes before the first of the convoy would reach them. He hefted the ACR in his hands into a steadier grip while the M24 tugged its strap into his shoulder.
"How long is it going to take Cloud?"
"Just a few minutes man, donít worry about it, weíll be done, and outta here," Cloud pushed a screwdriver into a socket, loosening the coil quickly.
Minutes ticked by as Fred watched, finally giving a sigh of relief as Cloud began to reassemble the EMP. Cloud stopped and raised his hand.
"Hear something?" He said before he tapped on his HAM.
"Wakan, can you check the cameras on the highway? Over," The HAM clicked as Fred began to walk to the MAV, Cloud following close behind as Wakanís voice came over.
"Might want to hurry back, a couple of Ripsawís on your way, you only have a few minutes to get out of there." Wakanís radio became fuzzy before focusing again.
I looked at Cloud, then at the other places where the rest of the EMPís would be hidden.
"Fred, I donít have the time to fix all of them, thereís an issue with the power supply and the fuses for them trip. We should go now." He nodded at the MAV.
My mind slowly came into focus, all morning everything had passed like a dream, was I really risking my life right now? Something that could very well be other people, or furís battle, something that I could back out of now? Before I knew anything was happening the two of us were already making our way to the car. Hands shaking the M24 found itís way into the second row seats as the MAV rumbled to life, Cloud nervously looking at me.
"Letís make like a tree and get the fuck outta here man," Cloud hissed as the car turned down the highway. Quickly accelerating as my sweaty palms left moist prints on the steering wheel every time I released the circle to turn. Cloud was checking his rifle now, making sure that his extra magazines were full, tapping them on his paw-pads and placing them in the door pocket.
Now everything really was a blur, everything in the passing landscape was noticed, my mind knowing and acknowledging whatever vegetation or rock outcropping we passed. But even though they were there, at the same time they werenít. My mind forgetting them as soon as we passed, only the cameras that we passed imprinted themselves in my mindís eye. Knowing without thinking that Wakan and Hannah were watching Cloud and my progress as we raced back.
"Just a few more minutes," Cloud said as we rounded another bend, the opening in the valley marking where our resort town started before we even saw the first homes on the mountain or the convenience stores on the side of the highway.
Hannah and Wakan were waving from the same rooftop; the back of the pickup was loaded with all the equipment they had moved from the roof down into the bed.
"We saw about nine of those Ripsaw unmanned scouts driving down the highway toward you," Wakan said as Hannah ran over. Ears tipped back a bit before hugging me.
"Time to run?" Wakan said before Cloud shook his head.
"I only got one EMP fixed, thenÖThe others arenít going to be fixed."
Wakan and Hannah stared, I turned away. We had planned for problems, but on the way back, in the panic of being found, we had forfeited fixing the other EMPís.
"What do we do about the Ripsawís coming for us if we only have one EMP to stop an invasion force?" Wakan asked, despair nestling itself into his voice.
"If any of us knew we wouldnít be in this shithole now would we?" I blurted out, snapping at Wakan as he stared back. His eyes narrowed.
"You know, I didnít almost die in Denver to have you bitch at me," he growled.
"Well fine, maybe you can take your car and go back to Denver to die there you sonofabitch!"
The grey wolf gave out a single grunt as he swung his fist, making its way with its claws out toward my head. I ducked, only to hear both him and Hannah yelp. Feeling, before looking, knowing without watching, what had happened.
Hannah dropped like a sack of mortar as Wakan retracted his fist as it had been lit on fire. Looking down at Hannahís prone body.
"Ohhh fuck," Wakan gurgled before turning to the side and throwing up.
No words were needed, I knelt, feeling her facial fur, wishing she would wake up. Feeling under her muzzle, a pulse thudded back.
"Take her back to the house," I croaked.
Wakan coughed phlegm onto the ground, heaving as he turned back. The fur on the edges of his eyes were damp.
"Oh shit, shit, Iím sorry," Wakan began to mumble, low whines cutting the dialogue.
"Just take her back to the house, and keep her safe," I began to choke. Looking at Cloud as he turned away.
"Sheís going to be okay, I swear Fred, I didnít mean to," Wakan began to openly cry.
Before I knew it, I was hugging Hannah, Wakan crouched over me, still at ends on what to say.
"Take care of her," Iíll meet up with you soon.
"Donít worry, I wonít forgive myself, Fred, not for her, not for the kits," Wakan coughed. Cloud looked at him sharply.
"Kits?" I asked, there was a pit growing in my gut.
Wakan looked away before mumbling.
"Fred, youíre going to be a father."
Cloud shifted on the dusty ground as my gaze drifted to Hannah. Slowly, I knelt before moving her hair back, dusting it off, cleaning it to make it neater.
"How long before the Ripsaws make it to the town?"
"Fred, weíve got twenty to geÖ"
"Youíve got twenty to get out and set off the EMPís," Hannahís fur shifted below the back of my palm as I felt her cheeks. Her head resting in my lap as I shifted her.
"What the fuck are you saying, Fred?" Cloud finally shouted after a slight paused.
"Iím saying you need to set off the EMPís. Iím going to fix the others. How hard is it to fix a fuse?"
"Fred, the fuse is in the back of the EMP coil tube, itís going to take longer than twenty minutes to fix ONE. Are you listening to me?" A stray tuft of fur had landed on Hannahís shirt.
"Use the KSS on the convoy," Without thinking the words simply found itís way in my head and out my mouth. Wakan continued to stare at her. Hannahís steady breaths that escaped her making the single strands of hair near her mouth wave.
"I said, use the KSS on the convoy. Space out the darts so that you hit as many of them as possible, and drop them on the convoy." The jacket on my back slid off as I bundled it up before sliding it under Hannahís head, gently rising so as not to disturb her, as if she was asleep.
"Get me a vest from the truck, and all the ammo you can find for the ACR." I shrugged off the sling holding the S&W .500 holding the hammer down while I pressed the trigger, handing the revolver over to Cloud.
"Take care of it, for whomever becomes my child."
"Fred, youíre fucking stupid, you know that? You canít just go and expect to fix an EMP in the time you have left." Cloud refused to take the pistol.
"I donít expect to fix the EMP," I said, it was like floating on clouds, talking like this to a person. I had never focused on my feelings when I spoke like this to a person. But now that I could, it left like an out-of body experience.
"Then what do you expect to do?" Cloud continued to acknowledge the revolver in front of him.
"I expect to do what the EMP failed to do," I finally shoved the revolver into Clouds arms.
"We can still run Fred, we can still get away, you fucking moron," Cloud sputtered.
"Are you telling me you want to leave your home? Your computers? I donít want to run with Hannah pregnant. I donít want the kits to grow up without a home. You think weíll have a home if we run?" I looked at Wakan as he got up. "This is my chance to give you three a normal life, away from this war. Cloud, if you drop the KSS, drop a single dart east of us, disconnect the highway so nobody else comes."
Cloud stared at me as Wakan got up, walking toward the truck before grabbing a vest from the bed.
"Youíve got eight clips here," Wakan mumbled as he handed over a vest loaded down with two magazines per pouch. Next to it was the spare ACR that had been kept in the truck, a full-length 6.5mm Grendel chambered rifle with an ACOG mounted on it.
"You really are going through with this arenít you?" Cloud said. Wakan stood back, still mute in his fright from knocking Hannah unconscious.
"Yeah, and are you going to drop the KSS?" I asked as the black vest slipped over my shoulders, the helmet I had grabbed weekís earlier waiting in the MAV.
"You know how long thatís going to take?" Cloud rubbed his hand over his eyes and up his forehead.
"Iím thinking like twenty minutes, maybe thirty, not including the additional twenty itíll take to arrange them over us." Cloud scratched the back of his neck before looking at the sky.
"Make it five to take full control of them, thatís twenty-five minutes for me." The single point sling from the rifle adjusted over my left shoulder as I checked the other pouches, all loaded down with equipment.
"Youíre fucking stupid, Fred, youíre stupid for doing this, and you know it. And Iím not just saying it for my sake, but Hannahís too. What father leaves his wife and children?" Cloud gripped the revolver still in his hands, holding it by its barrel as he stiffened, the hair on his neck standing on end as a growl emanated from his chest.
"What kind of life is it to live on the run, always hiding?"
"What kind of life is it when youíre DEAD?"
I looked at Cloud before turning around, walking toward the MAV.
"You promised Hannah, I know you did, you promised to her nothing would happen," Cloud began to yell.
I picked up the helmet and turned it over in my hand. "Keep me posted on whatís going on, Cloud, Iím counting on you."
"Youíre a moron and an asshole."
The MAV started up as Wakan and Cloud watched. Hannah still lay on the ground. Her hair bunched up on the jacket as Cloud held the Smith & Wesson by its strap in one hand. I nodded once, then released the brake before rolling up the onramp.
With all the driving we had done in the MAV, it was surprising to see the tanks still at a bit above half-full and fully charged on its batteries. The speedometer ticked as it reached each ten-mile per hour increment, the wind whistling through the open windows so loudly after the eighth that the numbers didnít matter, only if I got there before the Ripsaw tanks did.
There was a crackle over the helmet, I reached over the seat to grab it before pulling it over my head, the straps fitting comfortably around my hair.
"Fred, before you go in, I can set off the EMPís,. Buy you a bit of time."
"What good would that do?"
"Well, considering the Ripsaws stopped there and a few light vehicles, it might help that you didnít get blown up the second you showed yourself."
"Go for it," I said as the twin screens mounted on the helmet slid down. The radio crackled for a split second as Cloud shifted on the other line.
"Done," Cloud said as I neared the town, crossing a small bridge over a ravine before pulling off to the shoulder.
"Positive, theyíre running around like ants if my satellite is correct," Cloud shifted again. "Iíve got about twenty more minutes left here for the KSS to become active. You still have time to turn a..."
"Cloud, how long do you think itíll be before they realize something is wrong once the convoy catches up?"
Silence filled the other end of the line.
"Exactly, so Iím going to sit in this ditch and see what happens, and until you drop the KSS, Iím going to be right here."
The MAV rolled to a stop behind a stand of pines as I looked back at the bridge.
"How long until the next section of the convoy reaches the oneís we just electrocuted?" I asked before looking in the back of the MAV.
"Ten minutes at the most, otherwise Iíd say five."
"Well, Iíd better get busy," The helmet shifted slightly as the strap below my chin clicked on the right side of my face, the clasp locking into itís mate right above my right jawbone.
There were three mortar shells in the back of the truck. All of which I planned to use on the small bridge near the ravine.
The entire bridge narrowed and conjoined the six lane highway, making a flat miniature plateau of concrete.
A single shell sat on the median of the bridge, the other two on the ground, one of them a tad bit further out than the other two. The two closer to the median had their fuses set to impact. The last mortar clicked in my hand as I twisted itís midsection to align with two vertical lines. Impact, five second delay.
"How far am I from the town, Cloud?" I spoke into the helmet. Waiting for a response as I jogged back to the MAV behind the scrub, opening the driverís side door and propping my foot against the jam in-between it and the frame.
"About a mile and a half, Fred," He clicked on the radio. "The convoy is going to reach the town in about five minutes. You got fifteen minutes for the KSS left."
"Just what I wanted to hear," The M700 propped up above the joints holding the door in place. The scope resting over a straightaway over the highway as my eye met its line of sight.
Hannah was pregnant, it was a simple thought, something that shouldnít have been so surprising, not because of the sex, but because she was, Hannah. There was a nagging feeling starting at the back of my mind, something that eventually seeped through, finally forming a piece of coherent thought as I concentrated on it. Time seemed to pass quicker as my body slowed, almost making a bubble around me, like a rock in a stream, water flowed around it, but this time, it was time.
"You donít deserve her; you broke a promise you never should have."
The rifle shifted as my knuckles turned tight, in the distance there was a rumbling noise.
"You left her with kits to raise on her own."
One round cycled itself into the chamber of the M700, the safety clicking to fire as the sound of distant engines reverberated through the valley.
"You abandoned her."
The helmet hummed as Cloud came over the headset.
"You got five minutes for the KSS and they should be coming around the bend ahead of you any second now."
"I got them," Without knowing it, I whispered into the microphone. Everything becoming second nature as the ACR carbine was moved from the passenger seat to the dashboard. The M700 shifting as the heel of my boot rested on the edge of the seat. My left arm curving over the raised knee, the rifle resting in the crook of my arm as the elbow rested bent over my knee. Making a perfect natural rifle rest.
The visor slid down as I looked through the scope, the glass screen stopping right above the stock. But just before it was shifted out of the way, a single Panther Light Attack Vehicle came around the corner, a Ripsaw unmanned tank driving beside it. Red lines traced itself from the screen on the headset, matching the cross hairs on the rifle as numbers began to flicker, windage, range, elevation, speed & velocity of the vehicles.
"Oh this is gonna be too easy."
The rifle bucked without me even recollecting firing it. The exhilaration of combat hitting me like a tidal force as the crosshairs rested on the Ripsaw as it rapidly slowed. Another retort of the weapon as blue sparks erupted from the gun-mount of the Ripsaw. Another shell rocketed downrange as yellow sparks shot out from the action of the gun mounted on the Ripsaw.
"Fred, you should slow down, we still have four minutes to the KSS." Cloud hurriedly announced through the headset.
"Show your face bitch," I mumbled as the crosshairs snapped back to the Panther as movement came from the red windshield.
"What?" Cloud queried just as another crack of the rifle drowned out the helmet.
A single man inside of the Panther, half a mile away, slumped forward as he tried to focus on the screen controller for the gun atop the Panther, the other two men began to run up the highway.
Before a thought about what was going could form one of the two men running fell. The last man looking behind him before zig-zagging as he ran. Dropping his rifle as he began to sprint.
The rifle clicked dry just before the lone man intercepted the crosshairs of the rifle.
"Shit," The glove compartment clicked open as I reached for a box of twenty shells.
The man was still running as the bolt worked again, cycling the brass into the cylinder. Lines on the screen reappeared, crisscrossing before it began to track him yet again.
The last man fell in the scope as the sound of the gunshot echoed back through the canyon a split second later.
"Fred, get out of there, now" Wakan came over the headset as I noticed a new sound.
"Whatís going on?" I looked up the highway. "Oh shit."
Tanks began to roll around the gentle bend of the highway, going slowly as they scanned for enemies, the first one stopping as soon as the people inside got a view of the destroyed vehicles and dead men on the highway. Well, the Ripsaw wasnít destroyed, just spinning circles as one of its tracks lost control and kicked like a grasshopper without a leg.
"Fred, fuck the EMP. Cloud is finalizing the KSS right now, just come back." Wakan shouted into the headset as I shook my head, slamming the door and twisting the ignition.
The engine turned over, and died.
"Fred, whatís wrong? Tell me."
"Tell Cloud to drop the KSS on me, right now." I hissed into the headset. Taking the key out before reinserting it and turning the ignition. Nothing.
Cloud came over the microphone.
"Fred, just get out, Iím not dropping the KSS on you." Cloud said as tapping resounded in the background.
"Cloud, the MAV died. FUCKING DIED. Drop the KSS right now, Iíll be out of range before it comes down," The engine continued to splutter and groan as I twisted the ignition.
"Fred, there is no possible way you can run and maÖ"
"DROP. THE. KINETIC. STRIKE. SYSTEM. NOW. YOU. MOTHER. FUCKER!" The headset screeched back in retort before the strap ripped itself off my chin, leaving a red mark as I wiped it off. Slamming in into the dashboard with one hand, the other turning the ignition, the engine coughed once, and roared in anger.
"FUCK,DRIVEBITCHDRIVE!" I screamed as the helmet popped back onto my head. Dirt churned under the wheels as the transmission groaned from the torque.
The suspension dipped in the ditch before swinging back up and hitting the highway, the rear end of the car sliding as I aimed one tire for the mortar shell lying on the bridge only a few hundred yards away. A single light turned green in the dashboard as switches for the electric motors were turned on. The carís RPM gauge jumping forward as the speedometer lunged across its circular orbit.
An orange shell whistled past the MAV before impacting a granite wall, showering rocks across the highway and MAV. The tanks had begun to fire. A thump resonated through the car before sharp staccato *pings!* began to impact black steel.
Even in the cab of the car a shudder could be felt as the MAV pulled to the right.
Above the highway, miles into space, a series of satellites aligned themselves in a crooked line. A cosmic shooting squad aiming for its two hundred mile target, a stretch of highway in Colorado. Sixty-four satellites in all, each with ten darts, six hundred and forty darts. Four of which was all it took to destroy Denver. Three darts per mile in narrow valleys, rocky and hard material. The humanist army had been stupid in sending a majority of their force through the easiest and shortest route in the Rocky Mountains.
Two thumps shook the MAV was Fred hit the mortar, running over it as he shot across the bridge.
He looked back in his mirror, watching a wall of smoke rise as the bridge was obliterated. He began to loosen his hold on the steering wheel before a single blur flew out of the smoke and hit the MAV.
The 140mm shell impacted the rear axle. Shattering it before exploding, most of the explosion was caught by the shallow V-shaped hull of the MAV. But at the speed both it and the vehicle were travelling were too much. The MAV lifting into the air as it cart-wheeled before landing nose-first on the concrete, tipping forward before landing on its roof, sliding across the highway as it spun from the drag. Black steel sparking and heating up as everything in the car was flung to the roof. Something hard hit the back seat, ripping it as it cut the leather before shooting into it.
Cloud watched the MAV slide before he looked at the KSS system activation.
No sound penetrated the black emptiness as the darts were unlocked, across the line the executioners shot in synchronization at the blue and green expanse below. A few seconds into the flight, rockets fired right before the shells hit the atmosphere like a hypodermic needle, the rockets tracing long streaks of light after it.
Fred coughed, feeling his face before fumbling with the seat belt. The lock clicked before he hit the roof. His chest twisting as he turned to not be sitting on his neck, the discomfort greater than the headache he had. He sat up on the hot roof.
Everything, every noise was a loud ring, almost a hiss, piercing the air as he slowly realized that it was his ears. He reached up to feel them. Both of them were numb, but luckily, not bleeding.
"Holy shit," he mumbled without even hearing himself. Everything was blurry as he cracked open his eyes. Slowly he was able to focus, looking at the huge black mark on the highway behind him as he looked at the black flames on the highway where the shell had impacted the axle and shattered the diesel tank. Creating a smoke screen across the concrete plain, a thick black cloud that he didnít even try to look through, he shrugged.
He sat for a second before looking around at the roof, the ACR on the dashboard was gone, that was a no-brainer. He looked beside him, the M700 was gone too. He sighed. The MAV, well, that was definitely a loss. He crawled forward before sucking in his breath. One of his fingers was broken. He gingerly lifted the hand before he hobbled out on threes and flopped backward to look at the sky. His combat helmet was still on, for some reason the straps had fit him so snugly it was still on! He grinned, blood welling up from cracks on his lips. The OLED screen flickered before they again started to trace lines.
"Cloud, thank god you listened," he muttered to himself as green lines on the screen disappeared as Fred folded the visors. He squinted into the grey sky as he saw a flash of light.
Without thinking, he crawled back into the MAV and lay on the warm floor. Folding his arms across his chest and closed his eyes.
Concrete shattered as the Kinetic Strike System darts impacted tanks, vehicles, throwing up dust and rocks that hit and suffocated helicopters and UAVís. Fire began to ignite as towns too were blown away.
At the cabin, Cloud and Wakan turned away from the windows. Feeling the earth shake, but luckily only a shiver as all the monitors but one shut off, the systems for everything they had been running shutting down.
Hannah shivered as she lay on the bed behind them. Her eyes flicking before she felt the shiver of the earth. Her tongue felt like moss.
Fred groaned, getting up a second time.
"Well, thatís somethingÖnew?" He grumbled as he looked out, the highway looked the same, but everything was grey. Something was falling from the sky as he crawled out. He inadvertently shivered. He could swear it felt cold. The sky overhead was grey too. If only he could see if it was going to snow soon.
He looked around, nothing. He looked at the sky, nothing. And his hearing and smell, nada. Fred sat on the highway, crawling back to the midsection of the MAV before sitting upright and resting his head on the twisted steel. He put his better hand on the ground before reaching back, his spine itched.
He felt something cold.
He slowly turned his whole body, everything was sore, to face what he had felt.
A silver tube poked out of the leather. Pointing at him as if waiting for him to pull on it, Fred blinked.
He pulled on it with his good hand. It didnít budge. Fred cursed before propping his leg against the steel, his leg felt stiff. And PULLED. Both hands be damned. He could feel something rip as he fell backwards and looked at what he had dragged out.
The M700 gleamed at him, the scope, bipod, everything still on, albeit if the bipod was loose.
Fred hobbled up, staring at the rifle before looking west, the direction the Humans First had come from.
The rifleís bolt clicked smoothly as Fred faced the west.
Story and Characters are copyright © 2011 G.F.D.
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Chakat universe is copyright of Bernard Doove.
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