After my knighting I was enjoying some off time again. I had resumed watching the restaurant, though with the new security installation it hardly needed my attention. In fact I was getting bored. I paid visits to Salome’s estate and had talks with Del, Brian and Elliot. But it was getting old very fast. They even started teasing my about me being knighted. They had started calling me ‘Your lordship’ and such. Even Salome joined in with them. So I didn’t feel much like going too often.
Hunting in the urban parts wasn’t fun at all, so I gave that up as well. I was thinking of going out on my bike for some rural parts to do some hunting and being outdoors in the wild again. But I still was on my community service time, so I couldn’t go out on a limb.
On day I was just watching the customers from a secluded vantage point, when 2 men in suits stepped in. Their demeanor and clothing screamed FBI or similar government agency. Gabe happened to be in the restaurant section and he was suspicious as well.
He approached them, “Hello, how can I be of help?”
One of the suits, with a bald head and a big red mustache, said, “We have a warrant for the arrest of one Lando Johns, also calling himself Sir Lando Johns.”
Gabe squinted at them, “Maybe we should talk in my office.” He showed the two men to the manager’s office. Fluidly I got up and followed them into the office, “What is the warrant for?” I asked growling.
The suits were impressed with my appearance, but quickly recovered and took a nonchalant attitude. “What business is it of yours?”
Gabe was about to speak up, but I beat him to it. “I’m Sir Lando Johns. I was knighted by King William of Great Britain a few weeks ago. So I ask again, why is there a warrant for my arrest?”
The men were visibly shaken and confused. They hadn’t expected me to look like this most likely.
Before they could recover I quickly said, “I would like to see some ID first please. I’ve been duped in the past and I want to see who I’m dealing with.”
The bald guy with the red mustache recovered first and produced an FBI shield along with an ID that said, ‘Special Agent Claude Peppe.’ His partner fumbled a bit, but produced his ID. It stated, ‘Special Agent Garret Tenney.’
“Okay, so you’re FBI!” I said neutrally. “What is the warrant for?”
Agent Tenney said equally neutral, “Credit Card Fraud. You have been buying items without actually paying.”
“And why is the FBI investigating a simple Credit Card fraud?” I asked casually. “It’s not something people like you have on your list of things to do.”
Agent Claude Peppe spoke up this time, “It becomes our business when certain items like Ammonium Nitrate and Nitro Methane are being bought.”
I sighed, “ANNH, I can see why you’d get into it.”
Gabe interrupted, “What’s ANNH?”
I explained, “It’s like ANFO, a concoction that will explode with great force. Usually used in bombs like Oklahoma.”
Gabe paled. “Oh, I see.”
I turned my attention to the Feds again, “What else has been bought?”
“Well, there is a sports-bicycle and several bodybuilding equipment. Along with health spa visits and even erotic massages.” Agent Tenney said looking at a list on his eCom.
“Well, that should already prove that it wasn’t really me. I have no need for a bicycle in my current form, nor bodybuilding equipment. And I’m not even considering the other two items. It wouldn’t be practical nor proper in my case.”
Agent Peppe confirmed, “Yeah, that is true. Also you said that a few weeks ago you were in England? What date would that be?”
I told him the dates and it turned out that some purchases were done on those days in Houston, Texas.
Agent Peppe said, “Okay, so we can rule out that you committed fraud. Likely this is a case of identity theft then.”
“That is the only thing that makes sense. I don’t use credit cards, nor do I have a bank account by myself. My niece handles my bank affairs. I think it would create some problems if I went into a bank to open an account.”
Agent Tenney said, “May I ask what your occupation is?”
“Currently I’m on call for performing community service. It was the deal for my exoneration of my alleged crimes.”
Both agents cried out simultaneous, “Crimes?”
I sighed, “I was framed into something that led to me becoming public enemy number one on the FBI’s most wanted list.”
“I didn’t see your name on that list. I check it every day,” said Agent Tenney.
“It’s under my code name. I’m called Feral.” I said with resignation.
Agent Tenney looked a bit paler now. “You’re Feral? I’ve heard about you. I should have known though. There aren’t many sentient black panthers I gather.”
I grinned, “I haven’t seen another one yet, so I think I’m unique. But you never know. As for my line of business afterwards, I’m a Security consultant.”
Agent Peppe smirked, “Don’t you mean mercenary?”
I just answered him in one word, “Semantics.”
Agent Tenney was about to react agitatedly, but Agent Peppe quickly said, “Okay, moving on. We’ll alert the field office in Texas to be on the lookout for this identity thief. If you happen to come across something, please contact us.”
I smirked, “I’m still on call, so I can’t look into it. But as soon as I can, I’m going to find him and turn him over to the authorities myself.”
“I’m warning you not to impede in an ongoing investigation!” said Agent Tenney.
“Threats have an adverse effect on me. I’m one of the best trackers in the country, which is why I’m now working for law enforcement and such to search for people. I could track that guy faster than anyone in the bureau.”
Both agents tried to warn me again, but I considered the matter done and stepped outside. Moments later they left and I went back to my secluded spot thinking about some asshole that wanted to steal my identity. Well, he would regret ever doing that.
In the mean time I had something else to occupy myself with. My driver’s license was about to expire and I needed a new one in this state. Also my old license was still showing my old self. This would be a real challenge, I needed some help with this. I called Gavin Benson to hear his ideas on the matter.
After a few rings he picked up, “Gavin Benson, MORFS center, how may I help you?”
“This is Sir Lando Johns speaking,” I said with an inner smile.
I heard him laugh a bit before he spoke, “Feral! To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I need some documentation stating who I am and why I look like this now. My driver’s license is about to expire and I think going like this to the DMV will cause a riot.”
Gavin laughed out loud now, “I can picture it already. When do you want to do this? I can get some paperwork for you and explain the situation in person. I am a government employee after all.”
“Fine,” I said, “How about tomorrow morning early? I don’t want too many onlookers and I think you’d better inform the police as well. Wouldn’t want them to respond to crank calls about a panther running lose in the street.”
“Not to mention inside the DMV,” Gavin added with amusement in his voice.
The next morning I was waiting for Gavin and the opening of the doors of the DMV office on Eisenhower Drive. Gavin showed up a minute before the doors opened. He was about to say something when an employee unlocked the doors. I made my way directly to the entrance and Gavin just followed without a word.
As soon as the people inside saw me they started scrambling away for cover. One heavy set black woman stood her ground and said loudly, “You can’t take an animal like that in here. Please leave it someplace safe”
I answered her, “But he’s harmless, I only need him to clarify things!”
Gavin chuckled at the joke and the woman paled visibly, well visible to me anyway. “You’re a MORFS?” She stated the obvious.
I approached her and stood up on my hind legs. “Hi, I’m Lando Johns. I would like to renew my out of state and military driver’s license to a Georgia License.”
Admirably the woman recovered quickly and stated, “All right then please follow me.”
She took us to a secluded office that gave us some privacy and started getting some digital holographic papers. She looked at me and said, “So, your name is Lando Johns? Do you have your current license and proper ID?”
I gave her my old license, she took one look at it and said, “Well, this obviously isn’t you.”
Gavin interrupted, “That was Lando before he morfed. I have proof of that here.” With that he gave her some holographic paperwork, with certain things blanked..
She looked through the papers and asked, “I can’t read everything, some things are blanked.”
Gavin answered her, “Those things are not needed and have been deemed classified. Miss…eh.”
“Tracey Endsley,” she automatically answered. “Okay, then I have your SSN, ID and old license. Do you have proof of Residency?”
Gavin produced another holo paper, which stated that I lived at Gabe and Maren’s home.
‘Where did he get that?’
Tracey moved on, “How about a vision test?”
I snorted and looked at the board at the far end. “The bottom line says ‘Made in Taiwan’ on that vision test board.”
Tracey sighed, “Fine, I can see you’re a comedian. Last thing is the 53 dollar fee. Would you like an old fashioned card of digital license?”
“Digital please, I don’t have much room to carry stuff,” I answered.
My holopicture had been taken in the meantime and Tracey copied it into the system before starting the process of having a protected RFID programmed. Moments later she produced the holographic representation of my new license with a scanner.
It showed my usual imposing big black panther self and the information that I was licensed to operate motorcycles, cars and even trucks. Also my weight, height and eye-color was mentioned.
Tracey said, “Well, that is it. Is there anything else I can help you with?” Just as she said it, the system gave a warning sign.
She looked at the data and said, “This is interesting, it seems that you also applied for a driver’s license in the state of Texas. A person calling himself Sir Lando Johns applied with the same original data as yours.”
I growled a bit, making Tracey flinch. “I have already been notified by the FBI that someone is stealing my identity for nefarious purposes. When I have the time I’ll go looking for him. Is there a picture available?”
This was news for Gavin and he looked at me with surprise and curiosity. He kept quiet though and together we looked at the bad picture that showed an ordinary looking man with no special markings. He had sandy brown short hair, brown eyes and sort of a sneer in his facial expression.
Tracey asked, “Why does he call himself Sir Lando Johns?”
“Because I got knighted by the King of Great Britain a few weeks ago,” I answered.
“Oh, I see,” Tracey said. “I hadn’t heard that an absolute morfs had gotten that kind of award.”
“I was the first,” I said. “ King William told me that himself.”
Gavin interrupted, “Most interesting. How do you know about the application in Texas. I thought all the states were independent on the driver’s license application.”
“It is,”Tracey confirmed. “But recently we also have a data hookup that alerts us if people apply for a similar license in other states. To prevent misuse and identity thefts, like this.”
“Is there anything you can do to stop the man from getting the license?” Gavin asked
“Not really, but I can call the Houston office and see what they can do.”
“Don’t,” I said. “I don’t want him alerted that people are on to him. I will track him myself and persuade him turn himself in.”
Tracey shivered thinking about what I might do, and Gavin was rolling his eyes. We had concluded our business and went out of the office eliciting lots of startled looks as we crossed the waiting room to the door opening to the street.
Back on the street, I was about to say goodbye to Gavin, when his eCom chirped. He answered, “Yes, this is Gavin Benson. As it happens I’m with Feral at the moment.”
Before I could ask, my eCom started buzzing. I answered it after seeing that it was a government number. “Feral here, how may I help you?”
Gains holographic face came up from my eCom. “Hello Feral. We have a job that may require your special talents. I would like you to go to Alabama asap.”
Just then my eCom buzzed again. “Hold on Gains, I’ve got another caller.”
I selected the new call, which was a blocked number. “Hello?”
“Feral, this is Wendell.” The colonel had blocked his Holocam. “if you’re not too busy would you mind going to a place called Turnerville, Alabama? There is a situation there involving not only law enforcement, but also military.”
Sarcastically I said, “You really should coordinate things with other government agencies.” Then I hung up on him and resumed my call to Gains. “So you want me near Turnerville? The situation is that bad that not even the military are equipped to assist law enforcement?”
Gains looked dumbfounded, “How did you know? Oh, let me guess, the military just called you. Well, can you help us out?”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ll drop everything and go there at my earliest convenience.”
Gains signed off and I turned to Gavin who finished his call at that moment. “Feral, I got a call for help from one of our operatives. There is a situation…”
I interrupted, “Near Turnerville, Alabama. Involving law enforcement, military and ASA?”
“How did you…” Gavin started.
I interrupted him, “You government types really need to learn to coordinate among each other. I got calls from both Gains and Wendell for this job, and if yours was ASA, as I suspect, all three are there for the same thing.”
“Fine,” said Gavin. “I’ve got a teleporter inbound. Get ready to move.”
I sighed. I wasn’t very fond of travelling by teleporter. It made me queasy and it was gut wrenching. Gavin took me to an abandoned building, where moments later a young woman, more a girl actually, materialized. She smiled at us and said to me, “Ready?”
Before I could respond, she grabbed a hold of me and teleported to an open spot near Turnerville, Alabama.
I shook her off me and said, “Next time I would like some more warning. Some people don’t like travelling by teleportation.”
Her face fell, “I’m sorry, but they said to hurry. Why don’t you like teleporting?”
“It upsets my innate cat sense of stability and orientation. Just be a little patient next time okay?”
She looked like she was about to cry, but toughened up and said with a wry smile, “Okay Feral. I’ll alert you next time. Now half a click that way is your reception committee.” She pointed towards my right.
At a fast trot I went towards a camp consisting of tents and the new kind of fast blowup dwellings. As I neared the camp, some familiar scents registered in my nose and I almost groaned. I would have some awkward moments ahead of me.
My arrival was noticed and a familiar man strode up to meet me. “Hi Feral. Nice to see you again after that adventure in New Jersey. I hope you can help us out here as well.”
“I’ll do my best. Now, why are there Delta guys here? Isn’t that prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act?”
One of the guys I was talking about came forward to us and responded, “Well, it normally is, but one of the hostages is a ranger. Besides, with the terrorist threat of purists, we got called in anyway. Hello Feral, nice to see you again. Especially since we’re on the same side now.”
He put his hand out towards me and I stood up to shake it. “Good to see you didn’t suffer too much from the beating I gave you guys last time. No hard feelings I hope?”
“Nope, you showed us that we’re not invincible and what we need more practice in. Now if you’ll follow me, I’ll introduce you to the rest of command and get you up to speed on the situation.”
As I neared the group of people that obviously were in command of the operation, Don, the ASA operative, said to me, “It’s a really complicated mess. There is myself for you-know-what agency and further, there are ATF, FBI, Marshal’s office, local sheriff and the US Army on this.”
My nose picked up another familiar scent. The Delta leader was about to give introductions, when I beat him to it. “Hello John Dillinger! Rob any banks lately?”
“Hilarious, Feral!” Said an annoyed sounding marshal Dillinger. “I hear you squared everything with the law?”
“Yes, after my community service which this is one of, I’m free again. So, what’s your stake in this adventure?”
Marshal Dillinger sighed, “There are several escaped convicts holding out in that purists compound. Since the others got their own claim, we decided to join forces with them.”
“If you’re quite ready, Feral?” asked the Ranger. “I’m lieutenant Hyram Tippets. You seem to already know Marshal John Dillinger and Don Blain. He’s from some agency that he failed to mention.” He motioned at quite a tall woman wearing sheriffs badge on her uniform jacket. “This is sheriff Phylis Cashion, she’s the local law here.”
Sheriff Cashion stuck her hand out and wasn’t even surprised that I shook it. A slim oriental woman was introduced next, “This is Orimi Yuke Long. She’s from ATF”
Well, I could hardly miss the big letters ATF on her flak vest. A man in a cheap suit stuck his hand out to me. “Gordon Martines, FBI.”
I shook his hand and looked at the last man whom I didn’t know yet. He said, “Sim Sherburne, I’m from CID. I’m also the one who called Lt. Tippets and his team here.”
“So, who’s the point man on this and what is this all about?” I asked eyeing each of them.
Martines spoke up first, “Mr. Blain seems to know most about it, and he also carries FBI credentials. In order to spare inter agency squabbles we decided that he takes point.”
I looked at Don in a questioning manner. He cleared his throat, “The situation is this: Several purist sect members kidnapped some hybrid morfs survivors and some patrol officers. They locked themselves in that building over there.” He pointed to a large, dimly lit house with some annexes about a kilometer away. “They were joined by some federal fugitives and other unsavory types, along with undercover operatives from CID and FBI. We’re not in communication with either of them and don’t know if their covers are blown or still held up to scrutiny. Now for the tactical situation I want to give the word to Lt. Tippets.”
Tippets took over directly, “We can’t get anywhere near the house at the moment. There is a minefield along the perimeter of the house. We don’t know exactly how widespread the field is, estimates are from two meters to ten meters. We have tried aerial surveillance and satellite imagery, but the mines are very sophisticated and of a new type. They are what we call EDM mines, Electric Discharge Mines. The mines detect anything around them and even a floating drone isn’t safe as they have electronics detectors that will set them off. We already found that out during our first tries. Even worse the mines don’t blow up themselves, they just fry everything organic or electronic within a 3 meter radius and recharge themselves. They are ready for use after some 15 minutes. Satellites aren’t of use as well, since there is some kind of image diffuser at work. Every image from more than 4000 feet is blurred beyond recognition and recovery.”
I was about to say something, but he continued. “We can’t fly higher out of range of those detectors, the house has an aerial defense system that shoots anything higher than five meters of the ground. Bulldozing in isn’t an option as well, since they have high explosive grenades available.”
“Why don’t you just ask some hybrid with flight capability to fly in just over the detection height of the mines.” I asked.
“We would, if there wasn’t a mesh of wires set up just inside the perimeter. We’re pretty sure that it’s electrified. And even if it wasn’t, it is still connected to their alarm system.”
Sheriff Cashion spoke up unexpectedly, “We can’t turn their power off as well, they have generators in there.”
“So, Feral. Do you have any ideas on how to proceed?” Don asked casually.
“Well, you could ask my niece to come here and EMP the whole compound into the stone age. It would mean however that any town behind the compound would get blacked out as well.”
“You have such a powerful niece?” asked Tippets.
Don answered instead, “Yes, he does. Forget that plan, I’m sure that they would kill the hostages and hybrids directly in retaliation. We can rule out teleports as well, the compound is shielded against all Psi users, so teleports, telekinetics and telepaths are not an option.”
“I think I need to observe the situation for myself then. Got some scope I can use?”
Tippets motioned to someone and a ranger trotted up with a sniper rifle. He was about to hand it to Tippets, but he pointed at me. The man smiled at me and asked, “Want me to explain how to use it?”
I snorted. “I’m a sniper myself. I use a Barrett 110 usually.”
His smile evaporated and he handed the rifle to me. Pointing it to the compound I admired the picture from the scope. It was infrared with an overlay of starlight amplification. I toned down the light amplification, as my own cat eyes already enhanced the light.
I looked at the minefield first, they were right about the width of the field being hard to determine. I barely managed to see a few mines, others were so well hidden that I couldn’t see them. Of course it could mean that they weren’t there, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Apparently the field started with a low to the ground electric wire. Probably there to keep the wildlife out of the minefield. It ended at least 10 meters behind the low wire, since that was where the mesh of wires started. The mesh wasn’t that dense though, a person would have no trouble getting through without disturbing it. Someone with wings however wouldn’t be able to get through it.
Next I pointed the scope at the compound itself. I saw several persons walk inside the house and even some around it. Automatically I started counting, to know how many adversaries we would be up against. But then I lost count as I saw someone familiar. I growled, “What the …”
Without putting down the scope, I reached for my eCom and autodialed the first number in the memory. The other end picked up directly, “Hello?”
“Maren! This is Feral. Did you receive a warning that your father is out of prison?”
Maren answered with confusion in her voice, “No, why?”
“Because I’m looking right at him at the moment. He’s with a purist sect that is under siege.”
“You mean he escaped from prison?” Maren asked clearly agitated.
“There is little doubt about that. I’ll get to the bottom of this. I’ll not let him get away with it this time. I’ll talk to you later.”
I gave the rifle back to the ranger and turned to the command group. Addressing John Dillinger, “Marshal, why didn’t your office notify my niece that her father was one of the escaped convicts in the compound. And while I’m at it, why didn’t Gavin say anything, Don?”
Don looked at me with confusion. “I wasn’t aware that Synergy’s father was in there. How do you come to know this?”
Instead of waiting for an answer from me, he turned to the marshal, “Care to explain Marshal Dillinger?”
“We didn’t want to frighten the daughters unnecessarily.” John Dillinger started.
I interrupted, “He tried to kill them. Don’t you think they would appreciate a heads up? Synergy can take care of herself, if she is warned to be on the lookout. As it is I will take care of my brother personally now. I wasn’t there for the family last time, but I’ll damn well make sure I won’t have to in any future.”
Dillinger started, “Now listen, Feral. We do not condone plain murder under a guise of law enforcement. With your qualifications you’d have no problem making short work of any person.”
I interrupted, “Stow it. I’ll not initiate any hostile moves, but knowing Lars he’ll not go down without a fight. I’ll defend myself with extreme prejudice this time.”
We were about to start a fight amongst ourselves, but Don intervened and made us both stand down. He warned me not to be too blood thirsty, and warned the marshal to be more open with information. Dillinger was also told that I was allowed to kill in self-defense when necessary.
Tippets asked, “Do you have any ideas to get us in there?”
I answered thinking out loud, “Well, since the mines are electrical, the best thing would still be my niece or her fiancé to absorb the blast charges from the mines. They could walk through there without any problem.”
Sheriff Cashion said, “But they’re still civilian and even if we were to use them, they’re not bulletproof. The purist sect members will start shooting directly when the first mines set off the alarms.”
“Synergy does have the power and ability to stop bullets, but I’m not eager to put her in harm’s way. She can take care of herself though and if she wanted to do it I wouldn’t stand in her way. However there is no telling what she might do when she encounters her father, so you’re probably right not to have her come here. I need some time to think. Since I’m also hungry I’ll go hunt me a snack.” With that remark I trotted off away from the gathering of law enforcement people and started searching for some prey.
Tippets called out after me, “Good hunting. I’ll alert the sentries to your presence. That might prevent them from shooting you.”
The land was flat without any trees around, so I had to go out farther than I wanted towards the forest or try to surprise a gopher or something. Suddenly my nose picked up a rabbit, which had probably wandered out further than it should. Quickly but quietly I trotted towards it and surprised it near the edge of the minefield. I halted my approach, but the rabbit had noticed me and in its desperation to get away from me, it jumped high into the air into the minefield. For a moment it flew through the air unharmed and unnoticed. However since it couldn’t jump the whole distance of the field, it landed smack in the middle of the field. Immediately a mine sensor caught it and fried the poor critter about 2 inches from the ground.
I ducked down to the ground and stayed still as the alarms started wailing in the distance. As a search light started checking the minefield and surrounding area I closed my eyes and stayed completely still. Since my black fur didn’t stand out against the background, I probably wouldn’t be noticed, but my eyes might reflect the light, so I had to close them.
It didn’t take long before my sensitive ears picked up someone saying, “Nah, probably another dumb animal jumped into the field. There are some scorched remains and nothing else I can see.”
I waited for about a half hour before sneaking away, they might look at the area with night scopes for all I knew. Minutes later I was challenged by a sentry as I approached the camp.
Tippets had briefed the sentries well as I had no problems identifying myself and getting clearance to go on in.
As I neared the command group, Don asked me, “What happened out there Feral? Did you try to enter the minefield?”
“Not really, I surprised a rabbit that jumped into the minefield. It got fried, and I had to duck so I wouldn’t be noticed. It did give me an idea though.”
Tippets was interested, “What idea?”
“Well, first I want to know something from you.” I started, “Do you have shadow-bangs with you?” At his confirming nod I continued, “Can you set those off without the bang? Just the blackness?”
Tippets called in someone from his team and asked him the question. His reply was, “We can disconnect the bang, but it will still give some noise as the gas disperses."
“Ok, my plan is this.” I said. “I want you to set off at least two, preferably more shadow-bangs on different sides of the perimeter. Through the blackness of one of them, I’ll jump across the minefield and through the mesh. Once inside I’ll locate the off switch for the minefield and give you a signal to come in. It’ll have to be a visual signal, since I can’t risk taking any electronics or metals with me on the jump.”
“But how are you going to avoid touching the mesh. The darkness from the shadow-bang will even obscure your cat eye view. You wouldn’t be able to see it until you’re on top of the mesh.”
I looked at Tippets, “I have a telekinetic sense that allows me to feel around in total darkness. I’ll work my way through the mesh without touching it.”
Don piped in, “Well, it looks like we have a plan. I would like a contingency, not that I doubt you Feral. But just in case, you know!”
A long discussion later Don had his contingency plan, though it wasn’t much of a plan and not very usable either. It consisted of going with brute force through the minefield and hoping that they would be fast enough to rescue the hostages. I did offer them the services of Maren or Gabe again, since they would get everyone fast enough through the minefield. But they wouldn’t hear of endangering civilians. So we went with my plan.
Just after midnight we implemented the first stage and at four points a modified shadow-bang was launched above the minefield and I was waiting at one of the sites to start my run. As the shadow-bang made the dark night even darker, I sprinted as fast as I could towards the edge and jumped as straight as could at a height of between 1.5 and 2.5 meters across the minefield.
My speed carried me clear across the minefield and I was already reaching out with my telekinetics to ascertain where the wires of the mesh were. As I was getting close to the mesh, my telekinetic feeling suddenly disappeared. I was blind in the induced shadow and hurtling towards an electrified mesh of wires!
I knew that I had already aimed myself towards a large gap in the mesh using my telekinetic view. I just had to hope that my aim was true and that I wouldn’t come into contact with the wires. If I did, I would alarm everyone in the compound, endangering myself and all the hostages in the process.
Luck was with me as I sailed through the gap and landed safely in the grass behind the mesh. I was still inside the induced shadow and I still couldn’t see, both with my cat-eyes and my telekinetics. Because of that, I sprained my left front leg on landing. Most likely I was at the edge of the shadow, since it was dispersing and I started to see things around me. There wasn’t much cover around, so I limped towards the nearest building I could see, which had a tiny weak light on the wall and pressed myself against the wall away from the light. I didn’t want to advertise my presence here. Between the dark night and the large shadows I succeeded in making myself invisible enough.
I thought, ‘Why did my telekinetics cut out?’ Then I remembered what they had said. The compound is shielded against all Psi users, so teleports, telekinetics and telepaths are not an option. This meant that the shield also cut out my weak telekinetics.
As I took a moment to compose myself and examine my injury, I noticed two men coming my way. ‘Did they notice my entry?’ They didn’t seem on guard, so it wasn’t likely. They could be faking it though, to put me off. I remained vigilant and ready to start fighting. The men walked in a straight line to a point just to my left, where the tiny light was shining like a beacon. ‘Maybe because it is a beacon’.
Anytime now they would be able to see me even in the dark. They weren’t using lights but going in a straight line to the light. One man pressed a remote and the ground near the wall rose up hinged on the wall somehow. With my cat eyes I could see it quite clearly and I was glad that the men didn’t wear infrared or light amplification goggles. The men disappeared into the hole and on a whim I followed them in before the hatch could close again.
Inside the tunnel were dim lights in intervals starting far enough from the access hole that it would shine out. I gave the men a head start and relied on my hearing and smell to locate them. I guess they didn’t suspect anyone following them as the marched straight to an excavated grotto. There they met up with another man and started a conversation.
“How is the progress on the rockets?” one of the men asked.
“Almost done with the second batch. You can do the third batch Matthias.” A second voice answered.
The third man remarked, obviously his name was Matthias, “Looking forward to it. Let’s hope these can get rid of those nuisances outside the compound.”
The first man responded, “I’m sure they will. These are mini rockets with person targeting capabilities. They’re fire and forget, meaning what you aim at when firing, will hit them, no matter how well they try to hide.”
I shuddered, ‘This means they have access to advanced weaponry. No wonder ATF is involved, though why didn’t she mention this in the briefing?’ This meant I had no choice but to try to destroy these weapons first. There would be no telling what casualties might happen if I killed the mine field and they barged in with these kind of weapons waiting for them.
Sliding stealthily into the grotto I got a view of the layout and near the entrance were several stacks of crates, probably loaded with the guns and rockets. The men were focused on the other side and with ease I hid behind the crates. Just in time too, as the men wrapped up their conversations. Apparently this was a shift change. As the man being relieved said, “Well, have a blast, Matthias. I’m beat, going to catch me some zees.”
Two of the men walked back to the tunnel and disappeared from view and later from my hearing. I kept an listening ear to Matthias and all indications pointed to him preparing to work on those rockets.
Patiently I waited till I heard the sound of a powered screwdriver and choose that time to come from behind the crate. Matthias was sitting with his side towards me at a table working on a small cylinder object. He must have seen something in his peripheral vision as he turned towards me and startled seeing a big black panther lurking so close to him. He froze and I didn’t hesitate. I jumped with a soft growl, straight at him before he could raise an alarm. My mighty jump landed me right on top of him and he fell backwards from the chair and bumped his head on the edge of the table. As my considerable weight came down on him, air rushed out of him with a woof and winded him.
Matthias gulped for oxygen, making him too busy to fight back right away. I took advantage of this and disarmed him. He was only carrying a handgun and a pocketknife, which I flung into a far corner of the grotto. As he was getting his breath back I growled to him, “Where is the off switch for the minefield and don’t make me ask twice!”
Matthias swallowed as he heard me speak. Then he found some courage and said, “Get of me you filthy MORFS.”
I growled with a low grumbling sound, “I told you not to make me ask twice. You’re dead meat now.” As I had said it, I opened my mouth wide and filled his view with flashing white big teeth.
He caved directly, “The main building, the main building. Just left of the main entrance is a control room. The mines are controlled from there. It’s the blue console with a touch screen. You can deactivate all or a portion of it using a menu.”
Dryly I said, “Thank you, that wasn’t so hard now, was it?”
Matthias just realized that he gave this hybrid the information he wanted. He snarled, “I hope you rot in hell where you belong.” He suddenly found new strength and managed to topple me and started running towards the exit.
With a low growl I jumped at him to incapacitate him, but he must have expected it and ducked. I overshot him, but I managed to swipe my right paw against his head. I don’t know what killed him, the impact of my massive paw, the breaking of his neck from the impact or the impact of his head against the rock wall that he flew into from my powerful swing. Fact was that the sickening crunch indicated that he was dead. I wasn’t feeling sorry. He was working on those rockets to kill lots of good people.
After hiding the body and relieving him of the remote, I set to work on accomplishing two things at once. I had decided to blow this cache of ammunition sky-high and with that give the signal for the troops waiting. There were some timer detonators available as well as radio detonators. I used the radio detonators on several key places and some of them hidden. The bad guys might do an inspection before I could detonate it. I wanted them to find a few for a false sense of security. I didn’t rely solely on the radio detonators as well. I might lose the trigger in a fight, so as a backup I set some timers with a large margin to avoid blowing it too soon.
I inspected my handiwork one last time and set out towards the exit of the cave. I made it as far as the last light when I noticed with my whiskers that there was a slight draft in the air. This meant that the hatch opened. I stayed still and as I had my back towards the last light, there was no light reflecting from my eyes. With minimal sound a man descended into the tunnel and luck was with me that he wasn’t wearing goggles for IR or night vision. It meant he didn’t see me, but I saw him very well with my cat eyes.
As he was right next to me, I rose up silently and gave him a death scare. A quick bite through his neck meant he was really dead immediately afterwards. I sighed, now I had to hide another body.
Sometime later I was stalking around the house towards the main entrance when people started pouring out of the door towards me. ‘Damn, they must have IR camera’s around the house.’ I thought as I prepared for a nasty fight.
Just then a canister dropped between me and the attackers and it exploded with a loud bang and expelling a large black cloud. ‘Someone is paying attention and fired a shadow-bang to aid me.’ Now I couldn’t see in the shadow, and my telekinetics were still out, but as I was alone, I wouldn’t have to care about friendlies getting hurt. They would most likely hit their own people, while I could wreak havoc at will. I tore through the place slashing around and connecting several times with a limb or a body. Screams of agony and anguish was all over the place, while I tried to stay on a straight line towards the door.
Luck was with me and as the black cloud started to clear, I could see the door just to my right. I ran into the house relying on my sense of smell and hearing to ascertain if people where nearby. Only one person was close enough for me that I had to take him out with a swipe of a claw through the carotid artery before I got into the control room.
One person was sitting in front of several screens showing the view of camera’s around the house. He turned to see me enter and tried to pull a gun from his holster. I jumped clear across the room onto him and bit down hard on his scrawny neck. He was dead in seconds.
Studying the controls for a moment I found the off switch for entire minefield as well as the switches for the other suppressors and turned them all off before driving my claws into the panel destroying it so no one could activate any of them again. I relished for a moment regaining my telekinetic sense, I had missed it, like going deaf and suddenly hearing again. Having accomplished my primary mission I got out a remote detonator and was about to press it, when it was shot out of my hand.
I turned towards the door where an evil grinning man sneered, “I knew it. They send in a filthy hybrid to attack our compound. Well, this is the end of the line for you, mongrel.”
He squeezed the trigger again, but forewarned I twisted out of the way and threw one of my knives into his chest. He looked astonished at the knife sticking out of his chest and hacked out, “Wha… how…”
I crept closer to him and finished for him, “How can a dumb animal get the drop on you? I’m a ranger, asswipe.”
He dropped to his knees and fell forward already being dead. I grabbed a second radio detonator and pressed the button. From outside came the loud explosion with several secondary’s as the weapons storage blew sky high. For a moment I contemplated to stay inside the control room, as going out there might be akin to suicide. Then again, someone would be going to the control room to kill the intruder and I needed to look for the hostages to safeguard them from any retaliation from the pure bigots.
Thought sprang into action and I burst out of the control room surprising two sect members carrying assault rifles. They weren’t ready for action yet and I took advantage of it, raking my claws across their necks and slicing open arteries and such to the extent that they would live mere minutes at best. I took both rifles and stalked off on my hind legs aiming the guns in front and back of me.
Keeping an eye out for enemies, I felt around with my telekinetic sense to get the layout of the house and the location of the hostages. But the complexity of too many people moving about taxed my ability and gave me a headache. I might concentrate enough to do the job, but it meant closing of my other senses and be vulnerable to getting shot by my enemies.
I crept through the interior of the house while feeling around corners and walls with my telekinetics to find enemy combatants lurking to surprise me. I got the drop on a few men, when I heard someone yell, “Will someone kill the filthy mongrels?”
I knew I was out of time to find the hostages. They might get killed any second now. In my haste I forgot to check the corner I was about to take and found myself face to face with a man holding an assault rifle pointed straight at me. We both were about to fire when he said, “Wait, Feral.”
I halted my action to shoot, at which point he fired his weapon. The bullets missed me by an inch and as I heard a gun falling to the floor behind me I turned to see another man drop dead on top of his rifle.
Turning back to the man who shot at the man behind me, he pointed his gun away from me and said, “Rangers lead the way.”
I didn’t lower my gun, but pointed it away from him and approached him. “How do you know I’m a ranger?”
He smiled, “All of us have heard about the morfed ranger that kicked Delta butt when they tried to arrest him. I heard it just before I went undercover in this sorry excuse for an outfit.”
“You’re the CID undercover man? I heard there was also FBI undercover.”
“You heard right, his cover was blown, he’s with the hostages, which reminds me we’d better get going to them. By the way, Flynn’s the name.”
I was about to say something, when I heard a high whine like something was charging a battery or capacitor for a discharge. Most certainly this was a weapon charging for release at me. With my telekinetic sense I felt behind the wall where I heard the sound coming from and pinpointed a person standing there. I also felt the wall between us and it wasn’t solid, just a flimsy drywall construction. So I aimed and fired a short burst straight through the wall.
There was a high scream and a woman holding a short ray-gun fell dead from behind the wall.
Flynn went to her to make sure she was dead and asked, “How did you know?”
I followed him there and picked up the ray-gun, “I heard the charging of this gun’s capacitor.”
Flynn looked at the gun, “I didn’t hear anything. What is it? Do you know?”
“I’m not certain, but if it’s the same as what was once used on my niece it shoots an electrical charge like lightning using a maser as a path for a straight shot. By the way, cats have an extended hearing range, that’s why I could hear it.”
Flynn nodded, “Well let’s go to the hostages,” he said as he ran to a staircase.
I followed close on his heels and went up to the second floor where Flynn went towards a door to his left. I followed suit and together we barged into a large room with a big metal cage in the middle.
Several men and women both normal and hybrid were kneeling down with their hands behind their heads. A man was ranting a monologue before them and a cold rage rose up inside me as I recognized him as my brother. He turned towards us and startled as we pointed our guns at him. I roared my battle cry and he panicked.
Lars dropped his assault rifle and jumped through the window onto the extended roof running around the house. I shoved my guns into Flynn’s hands and said, “He’s mine! You stay here with the hostages, arm them and kill anyone trying to enter.”
Flynn just nodded and I didn’t waste any time. I jumped right through the window after my brother. He had a short lead on me, but he had to take it easy dropping the 3 meters from the roof to the ground. I just fluidly took it in my mighty jumps covering the distance. However as I reached the ground, people started firing at me. I twisted around in the air and threw a knife into the sternum of a woman to my right. She dropped her pistol and fell down backwards. She was already dead before hitting the ground. From my left a man was still shooting at me, and some bullets grazed my back and hip. I roared again and threw my last remaining knife at him. He tried to duck but didn’t go down far enough and my knife connected just above his eyes into his skull.
At that moment I felt pain erupt from my flank and saw an arrow sticking out. ‘Someone is shooting arrows at me?’
Outraged as I was, I yanked the arrow out of me causing myself more pain and bleeding, I looked around and found the perpetrator. He was reloading his crossbow, and I threw the arrow at him. Luck was with me that I hit him and the arrow buried itself into his abdomen. He screamed out in pain and collapsed. I wasted no more time and went back to my original heading, going after my deranged brother.
Lars looked back and saw me coming at him. He screamed like a girl and ran blindly into the minefield. It was just his luck that I had deactivated the field, though he wouldn’t know that. For a moment I thought of warning him that he was in a minefield, but then my lust for the hunt took over and I charged after him.
It took several jumps due to my injuries to land on his back and he went down with my considerable weight on top of him. Because he went down so easily and my speed made me run over him before I could stop. I turned and Lars rolled onto his back and pulled out a snub-nose .38 revolver. With my left paw I swiped it from his hand and shredded most of the skin from his hand with my extended claws.
He started screaming again and clutched his injured hand to his chest. He said while sobbing, “Get away from me you monster from hell. You should all be exterminated.”
He was about to rant some more crap, when I said coldly, “I warned you twice before about threatening people! You already crossed the line when you tried to kill my nieces. But joining up with these assholes signed your death warrant.”
Lars had a confused look on his face hearing my words. “You warned me? When did I try to kill your nieces?”
I came a bit closer to him, “I mean your own children, Lars.”
Then the truth dawned on him, he looked with fear in his eyes at me. “You…”
I interrupted him, “Yes, I’m your brother Lando. I morfed by accident, and since then I’ve changed my views drastically. I was wrong in the past, but you went even deeper into that purist shit. I warned you not to hurt Naomi and the children. Since you tried to kill them twice you’re unfit to stay in this world.”
At that moment a man with a flak jacket came running at us. “Feral, don’t kill him. I want him alive.”
I turned slightly to Marshal Dillinger with a snarl when I noticed from a corner of my vision that Lars pulled out a knife with his uninjured hand. He was about to swing or throw it at me or the marshal when I whipped my body around and swiped my right paw across his face. The impact alone already broke his neck, but my extended claws also ripped half his left face to shreds.
Dillinger was stunned by my violent action that ended my brother’s life, and I stalked past him back to the house. He came after me, “Feral, I can’t condone this violence. Even if it was self-defense.”
I didn’t stop to answer him, but jumped up onto the roof around the house and went to the window I had exited the house earlier from. I stopped just short of the window and said out loud, “Rangers!”
From inside came the answer, “Lead the way!”
Satisfied that I wouldn’t get shot on entry I stepped through the open window and saw that Flynn and two other men were watching the doorway and the window with the guns at the ready.
Flynn asked, “Did you get him?”
“Yeah, he and a few others are worm food now.”
One of the other men with a gun turned to me, “Why did you kill them, they should’ve been brought to justice.”
I looked at him, he was probably the undercover FBI. The way he held his gun was very specific and military, so I asked, “You’re a seal right?” At his confirming nod I added, “I knew we had to save some lifeguard butt.”
He bristled at that and Flynn smiled. There always is a healthy competition between Special forces and Seals.
I looked at the hostages and captives in the room. Though had seen a glimpse of me earlier, now they fully saw what I was and some were very apprehensive, while some of the cat hybrids looked at me with interest.
We didn’t have to wait long before from outside the room we heard people approaching and my nose already identified Lt. Tippets. I called out, “Lieutenant, identify yourself, the room is secure with ranger and FBI standing guard.”
Tippets spoke up before peeking around the corner, “Lieutenant Tippets, Delta force. I’m coming in, hold your fire.”
He saw us on guard in the room and stepped in fully with a few other delta’s following him. He looked around and said, “The rest of the building is secure. I think we got them all. Hell of a signal you sent us, Feral!”
I grunted, “I had to, they were preparing personnel tracking rocket ammo. If they’d get to use them before you made it in, it would be a massacre, and not only on the assault force. As I understand the range was as far as your camp.”
The ATF woman Orimi Long came in at that moment and heard my comment. “So our suspicions were true then. They had extreme high tech weapons.”
I snorted and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me the suspicions, I could have taken that into account. As it happened I stumbled across them by accident. If I hadn’t, the death-toll would be too high on our side.”
Orimi sighed, “I was told not to reveal suspicions. Sorry about that.”
To no one in particular I said, “And that’s why I don’t want to join a group that can order me to do such things.”
After the hostages were taken outside for a checkup, we found out that some MORFS hybrids had been butchered and buried in a shallow grave behind the shed that I blew up. Unfortunately that meant that any remains were scattered in a large area if some remained intact at all. The explosions had taken care of that when I blew up the weapons cache. Marshal Dillinger still wanted to hold me responsible for killing Lars. He came at me while I was taking to Don and Sheriff Phylis. “You’ve got to answer for killing that man Feral.”
I growled at him and said, “For the last time Dillinger, He pulled a knife after faking giving up. Besides he was my brother and my responsibility to take care of.”
Phylis looked at me, “You killed your brother?”
I answered her, “He had escaped prison twice and tried to kill his own children twice. He was a fucked up purist and wouldn’t change. I had warned him before, it’s over and done now, period.”
Dillinger still wanted to object, but Don took him aside and though I would be able to hear what they were saying, I didn’t care and stalked off out of hearing range.