Chapter 39: Lars
With the ambulances arriving, I really wasn’t needed here. The cops and EMT’s were nervous with a huge black panther sitting there watching them, so I moved away.
I started running in the direction Gunny had went. My cat instinctively knew how to track, and his nose easily followed the trail the two big cats had left behind. I was becoming more comfortable with my new form by the minute, and soon I was moving quickly and quietly to catch up. My paws were large and soft, moving almost silently across the ground. We didn’t bounce like the wolves when we ran, we glided.
I had been moving for maybe ten minutes when I heard the roar, and I knew something was wrong. I started to sprint, hoping I wasn’t too late. “Lars I’m hurt, he got the drop on me. HELP!” His scent was getting stronger, I was close. I kept up the sprint, weaving between the rocks. “Tell Rose I love her,” I heard, and it was weak. He roared again. “Semper fi.”
“You hold the fuck on, Gunny, I’m not explaining this to Rose,” I sent back. Moments later I had them in sight. Gunny was holding on to Clayton’s leg with a death grip, the rest of his body was limp. Clayton was tearing into his shoulders, right until I crashed into him.
I hadn’t slowed down and he didn’t notice me, he was so focused on killing Gunny. My shoulder hit his just above his missing leg, and sent him flying ten feet away. I didn’t stop, I leaped on him as he rolled and got his neck into my teeth. With a hard shake, I heard a loud crack and he went limp.
I dropped him and shifted, moving back to Gunny. He was out of it, his eyes had rolled back in his head. I could see the blood coming from his shoulder; I stuck my fingers in, searching for the artery. I found where the blood was coming from, and pinched it with my fingers. “HELP! HELP!” I yelled then listened, there was no one. “Can anyone hear me? Anyone?”
“This is Alpha Craig Anderson, who is this?”
“I’m Lars Thorssen, I’m with Gunny. He’s badly hurt, about four miles northeast of the house. I’m holding an artery shut right now, I can’t move him. He needs medevac right NOW.”
“We’re close, I’m on the medical helicopter with Doc Terry and Nurse Wendy from the Gila Pack.”
“I can hear you now.” I looked around and the helicopter flew over a few moments later as I waved frantically at it. It banked and looked for a landing place; there were too many rocks, so the pilot just hovered over a rock and Doc jumped out, landing nimbly with his medical pack.
He jumped down and ran over. “Dammit Gunny, quit getting hurt,” he said as he opened up his kit. “You got your fingers on the artery?”
“Yes, about four minutes now.”
“Keep holding it, I have to get some fluids in him.” He started a large-bore IV with whole blood, then another with fluids. As soon as it was done, he pulled out two clamps and moved on the other side of the wound from me. “I’m going to work my way down your finger to the artery and clamp it,” he said. I felt him move it down as he retracted the torn flesh so he could see. He closed the handle and grabbed the second. “All right, when I count to three I want you to remove your hand. Three, two, one, now.” I pulled my hand back, the artery seeped blood as it was clamped but it wasn’t spraying like it was before. “All right, I want you to gently squeeze the blood bag and force it in there.”
So, I sat there on my knees, holding a blood bag up in one hand, the IV bag under it. He asked me to slide my legs under Gunny’s back legs, elevating them to keep the blood in his head. I watched as he sutured the artery closed before removing the clamps, restoring the blood supply. By the time he was done, the blood bag was getting close to empty, so he took a moment to change it out. As soon as it was done, Wendy and Craig arrived with a stretcher. “Bring that over here, we need to move him now,” Doc said.
They set the stretcher down and the four of us shifted his heavy cat body over, keeping his injured neck and shoulder up. They quickly attached straps, then each of us took a corner and we lifted him up. We ran as fast as we could back to the waiting helicopter, where Doc and Wendy got in back with him. Craig closed the doors and banged on the window twice before he pulled me clear of the rotors. We turned away, covering our eyes, as the helicopter lifted off.
When the rotor wash was gone, Craig turned to me. My cat could sense his power, it was like what Gunny had. “You may as well change, I didn’t bring clothes and this ground will suck on human feet,” he said. I shifted into my cat. “Wow, you’re a big one. What’s the story?”
“I was Gunny’s spotter in the Marines, he asked me to help him on this mission. We got the woman, Maitea, but there was another shooter.” I walked over to the dead panther, pushing it with my nose and verifying he was really dead. “Gunny Matthews was a sniper instructor during part of the time Rico was assigned to the training command, but he volunteered for duty in the Rockies during the Were War. He lost an arm and was medically retired. Anyway, he got the drop on me, when I shot Maitea, he found and shot me.”
“Gunny changed you?”
“He didn’t have a choice, I would have died before help arrived.” I looked up at him. “I asked him to do it, Alpha.”
We started walking back towards the house, Craig was silent, clearly linking others and thinking of things. “It was a hell of a risk, without an Alpha here. How did he control your cat when it burst forth?”
“He grabbed me by the neck, talked into my head until my cat submitted to him.”
“He shouldn’t be able to do that. He’s a Beta.”
“Whatever, he did it. Honestly, your power feels the same.”
“Fuck this, I need to run.” Craig stopped and removed his clothes, tying everything into his T-shirt before shifting into his wolf. He was huge, standing taller than me at the shoulder but not quite as long. He was strong but not as muscled as Gunny and I were. His fur was a glossy black, with a white stripe on his chest and a white tip to his tail. He shook out his fur and howled. “Come on, let’s run.” He picked up his clothes by the knot and started to run back towards the house.
He was faster than me, I was tiring quickly while he didn’t even look winded. I fell farther and farther behind as we went. Luckily, it wasn’t that far a run. By the time I arrived at the house again, Craig had already shifted and dressed behind the garage. “Mitch, get Lars some clothes, he’s about your size,” he said to the big Pack warrior standing by the SUV. He grabbed some from under the seat and brought them to me. I shifted and quickly dressed in the shorts, shirt and slip-on shoes.
“Thanks, Mitch.” I looked him over, he was trying to figure out who I was. “Lars Thorssen, I served with Gunny.”
“He bit you?”
“Yep. About thirty minutes ago.” We went over to the house; there were Sheriff’s Deputies all over the place, taking statements from Alex and taking pictures of everything. Maitea was long gone, only the bloodstains and chunks of her flesh remained next to the evidence numbers.
“Good news, Alpha,” Alex said as he stood up. “Doc says Gunny is going to recover. Lars, he said to tell you that your quick thinking saved his life.”
“We’re even then,” I said.
“Well, the warriors have been turned around now that the threat is gone. Alpha Robert is still coming, he’s about five minutes out.”
“That’s good,” Craig said, “Because things are going to get interesting here real fast.” We looked where he was looking, a convoy of black SUV’s was coming at high speed down the highway, hidden lights flashing.
“Fucking FBI,” I said.
“Yep. I’ve got a surprise for them, though. Rose has been busy.”
The FBI arrived in typical fashion, rolling in like they were kings of the mountain. Four vehicles stopped, and men in dark suits and sunglasses poured out. In front was a familiar face, Agent in Charge Luis Hernandez. “THIS IS NOW AN FBI INVESTIGATION,” he called out. “Who’s turning over to me?”
The lead deputy stepped forward and started to brief him. “Aren’t you going to join them,” I asked Craig.
“Nope. I’m waiting for the fireworks.” He pointed to the road, where another Suburban was approaching at high speed. This one was white, not black. As it pulled in, I saw the logo of the US Marshals.
The new vehicle was ignored by the FBI, but the men who got out were intimidating. Dressed in khaki pants and polo shirts, their stars hanging from their belts, they stepped out and made a beeline to Luis. “Agent Luis,” asked the lead marshal.
“Agent in Charge Hernandez,” he said with a sneer.
“Luis Hernandez, you are under arrest for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder,” he said as his men surrounded him, removing his firearm and cuffing his hands.
“What the fuck are you doing, Marshal?”
“My job, Luis. What you should have been doing. Jones, read him his rights.” Luis was red-faced and yelling at the Marshalls as one calmly read him his rights. One of the other FBI agents approached and asked to see the warrant; his mouth fell open as he read. He handed it back, then spit on the ground by Luis’ shoes before walking away. “Mr. Hernandez, do you understand these rights as have been read to you?”
“Yes, you pigfucker.”
“Get him out of my sight,” the Marshal said. The men moved the rather uncooperative agent to their vehicle and stuffed him in the back seat.
“Come on,” Craig said to me. We walked over to the vehicle as the lead Marshal continued to talk to the local law enforcement and FBI. “We can’t let him leave just yet.”
“Because the fun is only starting.” We stood there watching as another vehicle turned into the drive, this place was becoming an SUV convention as the big Ford Expedition arrived. “Alpha Robert Hastings is here now.”
He exited from the back seat and came over, giving Craig a quick hug. “Our man is here, right?”
“Yep, in the back seat, cuffed and ready courtesy of the US Marshals.”
“Good. Keep him here while I have some fun.” He turned to a tall, well built black man who was carrying a thin briefcase. Together they walked to where the Sheriff, FBI and Marshals were all gathered. “Gentlemen, I’m Alpha Robert Hastings of the Gila Pack. I have a warrant for the arrest of Luis Hernandez for murder of Pack members.” He took the papers the black man offered and passed them to the Marshal.
“That’s nice, Alpha, but we already arrested him. We’re taking him to Albuquerque for processing.”
Robert just laughed. “No, you’re not. You don’t have jurisdiction here, I do.”
“You only have jurisdiction on Pack lands per the treaty,” an FBI agent said.
“True. But, these are Pack lands.” He was handed more papers, and showed them to the Marshal. “These are land designations, signed by the President, making this property we own Pack lands under the law. He hurt Pack members and is on Pack lands, and I’m not turning him over.”
The Marshal ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “Fuck. I’m going to have to call this in and verify.” Just then his phone rang. He answered, his face showed that he was losing his arrest and he wasn’t happy. “Yes sir, I understand.” He ended the call and looked at his men by their vehicle. “Transfer the prisoner to Alpha Robert’s car,” he told them.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Marshal. Here are your copies of the transfer order.”
I watched as they opened the back seat and pulled Luis out again. He was smirking. “Finally came to your senses, huh?”
The Marshal laughed. “Oh yeah. Jail is too good for scum like you. I don’t like werewolves that much, but I do admire their swift justice. I bet you’re dead by the weekend.” They started to move him over towards Robert’s vehicle, and when he realized what was happening he started to struggle and scream about how they can’t do that to him.
“Come on boys, let’s go home,” Robert said as he headed for his vehicle. He motioned for me to come over. “I can smell your panther, but I don’t know you.”
“Lars Thorssen, I served with Gunny in the Marines.”
He shook my hand as we walked. “How long have you been a werepanther, Lars?”
“I don’t know, what time is it?”