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Chapter 32: It's the po-lice!

I turned back to look at the big safe, disgust in my stomach as I realized what we were dealing with here. Luis wasn’t just a traitor, he was a killer. He and his sister were working together to kill and terrorize her kind.

I wanted his blood on my teeth, on my claws.

I took out a camera, taking photos of the safe and of the room. I was working my way to the end of the shelf when I saw something hidden, something that made my insides sink. “Shit. Check this out.” Gunny came over and I pointed to the object, it was clearly a hidden camera. I reached up and pulled it off the shelf, the wires pulling loose. “Find out where this is going,” I said.

The wire disappeared into the wall, he listened carefully as I pulled the wire taut. Following its path as I pulled and relaxed it, he made his way around to a router behind the desk. “Fuck, it’s hooked up to his computer.”

“POLICE INBOUND GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE,” Josh roared. I looked at Gunny, we looked at the open safe, the weapons, the explosives.

Blow it or blow town?” Gunny was already moving towards the open safe.

Blow this shit up, we have to destroy his computers and hard drives and hope he doesn’t store them offsite or have a remote link up,” I said. He pulled out the C-4, grabbing a timer fuse from an adjacent shelf. I ran out of the room, we needed more than just an explosion. I headed for the garage, finding a full container of gasoline I grabbed it and headed inside again. I splashed it on the furniture, then down into the rooms off the hallway as Gunny slammed the door of the safe closed. He ran out of the room, and I tossed the gas can on its side in the doorway before I followed him.

The police cars were just pulling up when we exited the back door. We both shifted, racing for the back wall and leaping over just before we heard someone climb the gate and drop into the backyard. We raced away, seconds later there was a huge explosion that lit up the sky. Chunks of stone and wood started raining down around us, but we didn’t stop moving. Gunny got to the bottom of the hill and found a thicket to hide in. “Josh are you moving?”

“Two minutes to pickup for Charlotte.”

“Keep going west, we’ll follow this creek down to the backup extraction.”

“Got it, Gramps. You move pretty fast for your age,” he teased.

“Just get Charlotte and shut up before Gunny loses track of how many ways to make you suffer in training,” I told them. Gunny chuffed at me, then started working his way along the creekbed. The house had rapidly gone up in flames, the night sky was lit by it. I just prayed none of the police were hurt in the explosion. I was glad I took a few photos, they might prove important later. “Josh, no cellphone calls or anything, I don’t want any traces of this,” I reminded him.

Got it Mom. They know what we are doing, I’m sure they’ll figure it out from the news. I’m pulling up to Charlotte now. See you in ten.”

We kept moving, me following the big cat in front of me. The creek was barely a trickle, and the smooth bottom made for fast movement. The extraction point was a bridge a mile and a half downstream from where we started, and it didn’t take us long to make it there. We moved up the side of the canyon to where the roadway came down and waited in the trees for Josh to appear.

It felt like a lot longer than the two or three minutes it was until he got there. He had warned us mentally, so when the SUV approached with its lights out and windows down, we didn’t even let it stop. Gunny jumped through the open window. Charlotte had put the seats down after she was picked up, so he quickly shifted and rolled back out of the way, so I could jump in. I wasn’t quite as graceful as my big man. My rear legs didn’t have enough clearance, so they caught on the door and I face-planted onto the carpeted platform. Gunny pulled me in and I shifted in his arms. “Go,” he told Josh.

“Fuck that hurt,” I said as I rubbed my right knee. He handed me my sundress and I pulled it over my head and down. He pulled on shorts and a T-shirt, our sandals were still on the floor where we left them. We pulled the middle seat back up and climbed forward. Charlotte handed me my wig and I put it on followed by the hat, and we were back to looking like a tourist family.

“Scanner is clear, police are searching the area, but that explosion pretty much cut off any active search for a while,” Josh said. “Also, sounds like no serious injuries to the cops who arrived. That’s the good news.”

Oh shit, I could feel it coming. “The bad news?”

“Those cameras in the house, they were broadcasting through an Internet link. The guy who called 911 had a description of the burglars, he showed a screen shot to police. You’re going to be identified soon as the people responsible.” Oh shit, out of the FBI for less than a week and I’m already on my way to jail.

“Let’s get out of this area quckly, then,” Gunny said. He leaned back in the seat and I leaned into his big chest. “Turn news radio on.”

Charlotte started looking for the station while Josh drove back to the main roads. “Where to,” he asked. “If they’ve identified you, we can’t go back to Gila. They’ll be waiting for us, they know we are staying there.”

I looked over at Gunny, hiding was a sniper thing. “El Paso is one possibility, they are allies.”

He shook his head. “Too much risk being on the road that long,” he said. “As soon as the APB goes out for us, it won’t take long.”

“You’re right, and I don’t want to be out of the loop. We have to find this woman fast; if we capture her, everything with her brother comes out and the FBI will have to listen. Then, they will understand why we did what we did at his house.” I thought about it for a minute. “Head towards Albuquerque, they won’t expect that.”

As we got closer, I had Charlotte look up hotels near the building we were using for the investigation. We found a nice one, and soon were pulling into the underground garage. I had Josh book a room under one of his alternate identities, ones they maintained from their time on the Panama island. He left us in the car as he went up to check in.

Melanie?” I sent the query over the link, hoping she was still at work in the task force room.

Rose? Fuck, Rose, are you guys all right?”

“We’re fine, holing up for a while. What’s going on?”

“It’s a shit storm of epic proportions,” she told me. “Luis is furious, he has video of you two breaking into his house. He’s laying in to Craig right now on a conference call with Washington, DC. He’s demanding he turn you over to them, they are already drafting indictments. Not just breaking and entering, Federal explosives and terrorism charges.”

“Craig would never turn us over, Melanie.”

“We know that, but he’s under intense pressure. Oh shit, the meeting is ending. Stay hidden, I’ll update you when I can,” she said before she cut the link off.

“Well, it’s about to get real,” I said. “Melanie confirmed Luis has video of us and the Feds are preparing indictments.”

“That won’t go over well with the Packs,” Gunny said.

“It’s smart from his end,” I said. “Terrorism charges mean they can hold us without trial, without lawyers. They can disappear us.”

“Josh is already dead,” Charlotte said, “What are they going to do? DOUBLE-DOG disappear him?”

Shit. “Josh is not safe either. If they know Gunny isn’t really dead, they will soon figure out Josh isn’t dead either. It’s not like we can produce the body.”

“I guess he’ll be going dark as well, then.” I looked away from her just in time to see Josh emerge from the elevator. He waved us forward; Charlotte took the bag containing Josh’s equipment and we all walked over. I kept my hat and face down as we walked into the elevator and up to the fifth floor.

“Aren’t you worried about surveillance footage, Josh?”

“I’ll fix it later,” he said. “Right now, they still haven’t issued alerts.” We moved through the hallways and he opened a door, handing me the other card I opened it. Charlotte followed him in, while Gunny and I went into our room. The first thing I did was open the connecting door and knocked on theirs. Charlotte opened it a few moments later, her face a little flushed, her lips a little puffy.

I gave her the Mom look before I glared at Josh. “You two behave,” I said.

“We will, Mom. You’re right next door and you have cat hearing now, it’s not like we are on our own.” He pulled Charlotte into his chest, leaning down he kissed her deeply as she molded her young body to his. “Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll be lacking for things to do.”

“Just keep it PG,” I said as I turned back to the room.

“You too, Mom,” Charlotte teased.

“Purely Gunny? I can do that, Char.” I closed the door as I started to laugh, and Gunny wasn’t helping. “I’m tired,” I said.

“Take a shower, I’ll get some room service ordered,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’ll have it delivered next door, and I’ll make sure no one sees Josh.” I went into the bathroom, the hotel was upscale and the bathroom was pretty nice. I heard Gunny talking with Josh on the other side of the room as they ordered dinner.

I got undressed and into the shower, letting the hot water soak away the tension. My mind was furiously going through different scenarios, but one thing kept coming back to the forefront- we had been caught red-handed burglarizing the home of a senior FBI agent. It didn’t matter that he was dirty, that he was the one who had killed people and built the bomb meant to kill my daughter. In the eyes of the law, he was the victim and we were the criminals. I reached out over the Pack bond again. “Melanie? What’s going on?”

“The task force is over, Rose. Craig refused to hand you over, he won’t cooperate in them finding and arresting you. The Justice Department threatened to have him arrested for obstruction, but he stormed out of there first. As of right now, the Werewolf alliance is no longer part of the FBI investigation. They wanted to kick us out, but I reminded them that this floor is rented and controlled by the Packs along with all the equipment. So, the FBI is leaving instead. They are taking all the data, all the evidence with them and going back to their building.”

“We have all the data, Melanie, Josh made sure of it.”

“True, and we can keep our investigation going. We just don’t have authority now. All of our FBI credentials have been revoked, as well as our access to the Federal building. Agent Luis has been given full authority over the investigation.”

Talk about the fox being put in charge of the henhouse. “Melanie, could you bring Charlotte home for me? If they find us, I don’t want her involved. So far we’ve been able to keep her on the legal side of things. I want her back under Pack protection.”

“Of course, Rose. I’ll be leaving in a few hours, I’ll give you a heads up.”

“Thanks Melanie. I’ll tell you where to meet her then.” I ended the conversation and turned the shower off, drying myself quickly. I grabbed a hotel robe, it was thick and comfortable, and I didn’t have any clean clothes with me. I went back out and updated everyone on what was going on.

Charlotte stayed in her room until the food arrived, then she brought the cart over. I smelled the food, sorting through the sharper and more complex scents with my improved nose. “Steak and potatoes with vegetable medley?”

“Yes, Mom. I have the medium rare filet, the rest of you got the Porterhouses… rare.”

“I don’t like rare,” I said, but my nose started saying differently as Gunny placed it on the table. The juices were leaking onto the plate, and my tongue started moving over my lips.

“You will find your tastes have changed, love.” Gunny sat next to me with his plate. “I found I did not like overly processed food, artificial ingredients or overcooked food. Just try it.”

I took a bite, the flavor of the beef exploded on my tongue. I was wrong, this was fantastic. “You’re right.”

“Of course I am. Just wait until we can hunt together, love. There’s nothing like a fresh kill.”

My human side was unconvinced, but my cat was loving the idea. We finished the meal, enjoying the time together as a family. My gut wondered if this was the last time. “Charlotte, you are heading home with Melanie tonight. I want you back under Pack protection.”

She looked at me in horror. “But Mom! I need to be here with you!”

Gunny shook his head. “She’s right. Josh and I aren’t supposed to be alive, Rose is going to be a wanted fugitive. We need you out of the way, so you stay safe.”

She looked to Josh for help, I worried that he would take her side, but he surprised me. “They are right, my mate. Things could go bad quickly, and I need you safe. You’re my future, love. Please… do this for me.” He cupped her face, his thumbs wiping her tears away. “Please, go with her.”

She pulled his face to hers and kissed him deeply. “You stay safe,” she whispered. Melanie sent to me she was getting ready to leave, so I set up a meeting place. “There is a park four blocks south of here,” I told her. We looked at the aerial map on her phone. “She will meet you at the southeast corner, you can wait in those benches by the fountain.”

We all hugged her, and she walked out of her room to the elevator. Gunny went to take a shower, and Josh went back to his room to do some work on his computer. I turned the news on, and what I saw shocked me. I was expecting to see photos of Gunny and I, with WANTED crawls underneath them. They were there.

What I didn’t expect to see was a photo of Charlotte, taken from a camera that must have been on the front porch of his house. Her face was clearly visible, and we had just sent her out into public alone.

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