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Chapter 58: Go go go!

“I’ll get the house, you get the shed,” Lars sent back. I stood and pulled off my Ghillie suit, then ran naked down the hillside with my pistol in my hand. I went straight to the dead men, watching the house as I rifled their pockets. The big man had a key ring, I grabbed that and went to the door of the shed.

The padlock was a Masterlock, I saw a key with that logo and put it in. The padlock opened, and the chains dropped. “Es hora de que llegues aqui,” a man said. (About time you got here.) I pulled the door back, keeping myself hidden, then burst through with my gun up. The man was sitting at a table, he reached for a gun but I was faster and soon his brains were spread on the wall behind him. I looked around for others, my stomach sinking as I saw what was here. “Shed’s clear, a dozen victims alive,” I sent to Craig and Lars.

Need help,” Lars replied. “I’m pinned down in the back yard.”

I could hear the gunfire, I had to leave them. “We’ll be back, we’re here to rescue you,” I told them as I raced back to the door. Shots were hitting the shed door, someone was firing from the house at me. I shifted into my panther and ran at full speed across to the house. The shooter was too shocked or slow, I made it there intact. Running hard, I turned my head and put my shoulder into the door, breaking it open.

Two men were at the front windows, both turned and looked at me in fear as my huge panther landed in the hallway. Before the first could recover from the shock, I was on him, my claws ripping his gun arm into shreds before slicing across his throat. I left him spurting blood as I leaped on the second man, who got a shot off. I ignored the pain in my back leg as I knocked him down. I opened my mouth wide and clamped my teeth on his head. He screamed in agony as my long teeth bit into each side of his face and my claws raked his chest and arms. I bit harder, there was a loud crunch as his skull caved in and he went limp.

I dropped him and changed to human form, grabbing the AK-47 off the floor and a spare magazine. I ran through the hall to the kitchen where the gunfire was coming from. A man popped out at the end of the hallway, I put a burst into his chest and kept going. Stopping at the end of the hallway, I could see three more men firing through the back windows at Lars. Raising the rifle, I sent a burst at two, just as Lars shot the last one through the window.

It was quiet again.

Stay in position, I’m going to sweep the house,” I sent. I moved quickly, making sure each man was dead. “CLEAR,” I finally sent.

Good, I was getting a bit pissed at being pinned behind the birdbath,” Lars said as he approached. He had pulled off his Ghillie suit and was in his black pants, shirt and boots. I grabbed a shirt out of one of the dressers and used it to bind the bullet hole in my thigh, it had grazed the outside. It would heal on its own in a few hours.

We need to secure the barn,” I said.

I’ve got that, you go get dressed so you don’t scare them.”

I ran out of the house and back to my kit, dressing quickly. I shoved the Ghillie suit and camera in my pack, then shouldered it and grabbed my rifle. I could hear paws thundering towards me. “Craig, have them stop. Go back to the cars and drive around, we have about a dozen to evacuate and we will need Doc and his ambulance,” I said. “The Alphas and Betas should come see this now, though. Oh, and get dressed before you arrive, we don’t want to scare the humans.”

“On it, Gunny.” The pounding stopped, and some of them started to run back. I ran back down the hill, picking up my pistol and holstering it as I walked through the barn door. Lars had taken the keys out of the padlock and was starting to release people from their bonds.

The place was a pure and simple torture chamber. There were chains attached to the walls, eye bolts set into the concrete about ten feet up with collars at the end. The captives were standing against the wall; the chains only had a foot or two of slack, enough for them to move a little, but not to sit down without choking themselves. It was an old and effective means of breaking people down, because they couldn’t rest and couldn’t sleep without choking themselves.

The center was the real torture station. A woman was hanging naked by her arms, a pair of chains attached to the beams high above and keeping her arms spread in a ‘V’. Her feet were chained to the floor, ensuring she couldn’t kick or twist out of the way. Bright lights shone down on her wile the rest of the room was in semi-darkness, showing the whip scores on her back and legs. My body recoiled at the smell of this place; blood, piss, crap and fear.

I grabbed a stepladder by the door and set it next to the woman; she was unconscious, her face bloody and battered. I could tell she had been raped, repeatedly; blood and semen trailed down her thighs. I pushed back my anger, the men were dead, we needed to help them now. “Craig, you and the medical team in here, keep the others out. We’ll frighten them if too many show up.”

“OK, the rest are going to the house to see what we can find.” Craig came in a moment later and ran to my side.

I took the pins out of the manacles on her ankles, tossing them to the side. Craig climbed up the ladder, I gently supported her waist as he took the manacles off her hands. She collapsed onto my shoulder when she came loose, and I carried her over to the table. Craig pushed everything else off, including the guy I had shot on the way in, and I laid her gently on her stomach. “Nothing else we can do for her now,” Craig said, “Let’s get the others.”

The other victims ranged from frightened to nearly dead, we sat them down in chairs until Doc could get here. Beta Daniel had raided the bedrooms of the house, bringing out shirts, shorts and blankets. He started handing them out to the people as they were freed, covering those who could not dress themselves. I counted thirteen people, eight women and five men. “Who are you,” one of the women asked as I wrapped a blanket around her shivering body; she was holding the hand of the woman who had been so badly beaten.

“Friends,” I said. “You are Kelsey Stillwater?”

“How did you know my name?”

“Your brother sent us,” I said. “This must be your mother, Daniella.”

She nodded. “Thank the Goddess you got here, she wouldn’t have survived another beating,” she said as she cried. “Don’t let those two men go,” she told Craig. “They are Pacific cartel enforcers.” Craig looked at them, they had tattoos of the gang and he left them hanging. Kelsey was shivering hard, probably in shock. I held her while she broke down, as the other people were tended to and walked out.

I could hear vehicles starting to arrive, and Doc came in shortly after with a gurney. “Female, late forties, unconscious, pulse 90. She’s been whipped badly,” I said.

Doc looked at her, lifting the blanket the clotting blood caught, and bleeding restarted. “Help me move her,” he said. Craig and I helped lift her, setting her on the gurney face down. We carefully adjusted the straps to hold her in place, avoiding the areas where the whippings were the worst. Doc attached an IV line to her hand, passing me the bag to hold. “Let’s get her out of here,” he said as soon as he verified the IV flow.

We pushed her out to the driveway, where the ambulance was waiting. Nurse Wendy had quickly checked the others, two had serious injuries and were already in the back. We loaded up the gurney and Doc jumped in with them. “Go directly to Alpha Carlos’ territory and take the helicopter back to Gila,” Robert said. “The driver can meet us on the way back.” I closed the door, and it pulled out of the driveway.

The captives were being loaded into Pack vehicles as we watched. Most of the women had been raped and couldn’t calm down among men, so Patricia loaded them into a big SUV to drive back. The others were divided up and sent on their way, leaving only the Alphas, Lars and I. I reached into my bag and pulled out the cellphone, sending a text to Alpha Carlos that we were ready for them. “Did you find anything in the house?”

“Not much,” Robert said. “We gathered anything that looked important. We’ve grabbed the SIM cards for all cellphones, and hard drives from the computers.”

“All right, time to put the plan into effect.” I walked back into the barn, picking up the pistol dropped by the man I had shot when I burst in. Looking at the Cartel men still shackled to the wall, I put two rounds into each of their chests, then wiped the grip with my shirt. I put the pistol in the dead guard’s hand, fired another shot into the wall and let the pistol drop to the ground again. “Leave this place as is,” I said. “When the packages arrive, we’ll make it look like they were killed in the shootout.”

We got back outside as Carlos’ vehicle pulled in. He stepped out, surveying the scene. “Successful?”

“Smooth,” I replied. “Those our guys?”

“Yep, fresh from a Pacific Cartel hideout. We left a few others behind, we piled their heads outside and put Z’s on the wall in their blood,” he said.

We took the men out, they had been knocked out. I carried one into the shed, standing him up I shot him in the face and left him there. The other guy was shot in the driveway. Wiping off the blood, I went out and grabbed a torch and some kerosene from the back of the second vehicle. Carlos had already left, and Lars grabbed the other torch. “Get the house and we’ll meet you back at the trailhead,” I said to Alpha Craig. Beta Alex took a can into the house, he would set fire to that and drive away with the others. Lars and I lit our torches after soaking the cloth in kerosene, we needed to burn the grasses and paths we used to hide our scents. With the dry air and the heat, it would start a wildfire, but it was better than being discovered. We made sure our hide locations were well burned, then continued up and over the hill. The trail where the Packs had come was especially strong in scent, so we set fires on each side of the trail. By the time we made it back to the vehicles, the whole mountain was on fire.

The victims were rescued, the Zeta Cartel members were dead, and it would be blamed on the Pacific Cartel. As we loaded into the back of the SUV, I was in a good mood. I held my right hand up in a fist, thumb up, while my left hand pointed at it. It was the universal signal for “Want a beer?”

We deserved it.

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