CyberWolf: The Whelping

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One Hell Of A Day

The hovercraft smelled, and looked, like a Learjet. Specifically, like a horrible mélange of sweat, socks, donuts, and tobacco.” I was glad I hadn’t eaten anything at Starbucks. Otherwise, I’d be retching now. Our task was air patrol.

“Interesting coffee break,” Jake opined.

“Yep,” I concurred. The meeting with Simbano was on both our minds.

“Simbano is a tough customer.” Jake said.

Our hovercraft hovered eight-hundred feet above the highway. The sky was grey and overcast. I sat before a monitor which showed our current altitude and armament. I made sure the machine guns were cleared and loaded and all of the missiles were primed.

“No. Passive resistance mode rookie!”

“Oops. Um sorry.”

Jake grumbled something about trigger happy rookies, as I keyed the computer for non-lethal pacification and armed the Tasers.

“Now you’re thinking rookie.”

I gave him a smile out of the side of my mouth and tried to still my trembling hands.

“Somethin’ I forgot to ask you rookie. What’s your name?”

“Cainus.”

“What the hell kinda name is ‘Cainus?’”

“Mine.” I said

Jake must have heard me bristle at that remark because he kept silent. I kept my eyes locked on the ground scanner. I needed to keep an eye on what was happening on the ground after all. We were flying over the old Pike Place Market now. There was a carnival going on. The scanner showed me a little boy bright and innocent eyed as he begged his father for Cotton-candy. His dad smiled as he gave his money to the vendor and handed the boy the sugary snack. The boy beamed like the sun as he grasped it. I found myself beaming like a child as I smiled down at the scanner. My nose flared as it filled with the remembered scent of cotton candy. My stomach clenched as I remembered the horror of the worst day of my life.

“How did you like the Carnival, Jack?” Pop asked me.

“It was great dad Thanks!”

He took me by the hand and we walk together toward a stand that I read in the way of six year olds everywhere, “Cot-ton candy.”

Pop smiled. “It looks like a cloud,” I said.

“Sure does,” said pop. “It tastes good too.”

“You eat it?”

‘Sure, what else do you do with candy?”

I started eating the candy. It was good. I could feel my teeth rot. The sun was setting. The sleepy evening light haloed the scene and clothed everything in shadows and darkness. It was eight PM on Thursday July, 18 2023, past my bedtime and time to go home.

We were almost to the parking lot. One of the shadows detached itself from the gathering twilight and spoke. “Gimme Money.” The voice frightened me. It sounded like a Lion’s roar that formed words, his teeth gleamed menacingly in the moonlight, “Money, Now,” The beast spoke again.”

“No,” Pop said, “I’ve spent all I had on me. Let us go.” I heard two loud bangs and a Smokey, tangy smell. Gun, the word invaded my mind like a thief and stole away my reason. I howled in horrified denial and came at my attacker with brutal, savage strength. Though I was small in size, the desperate strength of frightened rage, flooded my adrenalized muscles and allowed me to take my enemy’s feet out from under him. He hit the ground with a hard thud and I heard a great whoosh as air escaped his lungs. I leapt astride him and clawed at his hairy face, not even conscious of the alert sirens in the distance.

The alert sirens shattered the moment and brought me out of my reverie with the abrupt quickness of a rabbit bolting from his hole. The persistent whoop in my ears made it difficult to concentrate. Jake’s loud strident voice carried over the ear splitting tumult of the alarms. “I saw something out of the corner of my eye and triggered the alert. Check the ground scanner.” I was still caught traveling the nebulous road between past and present and was caught off guard.

“Er um”, I said distractedly.

“Hurry up, rookie” Jake said.

I zeroed in on the ground with the scanner. Humans were running and screaming like a crowd in an old monster movie. After a few more seconds of looking, I saw the probable reason why. Two thug-like leopard men were beating on a squat humanoid; an honest to God, two foot five inch humanoid rat.

“Lab-Rat” Jake breathed

“Who?” I wanted to know

“Lab-rat, the Animen tech guru and science dweeb. If we could lean on him and get him to talk, maybe we could finally learn about that kubdilasha of theirs, and how to circumvent it”.

“I’m calling for ground support,” I saidand spoke into the radio. “Attention all units, this is SPD air unit 21, requesting background support. “Three Animen endangering human life, respond code three to our Old Pike’s Place Market. Respond code three!”

“Ground units are coming to take care of his pursuers,” I learned from the radio. We need to go after Lab- Rat.”

“Go, Cainus!” We took off like a shot after lab-rat. There’s something about a high speed chase which sets the blood burning with excitement this was my first one and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to scream In excitement or fear. Finally, we overtook lab rat and his adversaries. I said “SPD.” harshly into the loudspeaker, “stop and lay down on the ground with your hands where we can see them.” My heart hammered as the criminals decided whether or not to comply. As they struggled with figuring out what to do, I tried to identify lab-rat’s pursuers, I could see that one of them was a woman, lithe, and beautiful, covered with ebony fur, Panthra, Simbano’s woman. she truly did look like a human Panther, complete with a tail, and clawed hands and feet. She glared at lab-rat with a gaze that offered both menace and invitation. She opened her mouth and spoke to the cowering lab-rat but, I couldn’t hear what she said.

“What about the other two with her, the snake men?” I asked

“The brothers, asp and cobra”, hit them with Tasers. I trigged the stun weapons, they appeared to have no effect on the Animen, until I had a brain storm. “They have to breathe,” I said,” I’m dropping the gas bombs.”

A hissing gush of air and noise enveloped the scene sounds of combat ceased as the cops came and dragged lab-rat into a car. Panthra and the snake men were already starting to come around.

As the cop car with lab-rat started to roll Jake said, “They need our air cover rookie.” I oriented the hover craft so it faced in the direction of the car and sped off after them. Fortunately, nobody followed us as they took Lab-rat over to a hotel in Bellevue, The Red-lion. Hmph, I hoped to God, we didn’t run into that Simbano, creep here. Jake flew the hovercraft back to the station, while I stayed behind and listened to Lab-rat’s interrogation. I looked around the hotel, which looked more like a rat hole. Cock roaches outnumbered the tenants. Paint was peeling and smelled putrid and vile. Detectives Charlie Briscoe and Tom O’bannon were in charge of interrogating lab-rat.

“You’re the Animan they call Lab-Rat correct?”

“Yes”, said the prisoner. His voice was high and squeaky. His fur bristled, a pair of pointed ears twitched spasmodically on the sides of his head a pointed triangular and noise extruded from his face. Buckteeth were framed by lips which formed a frightened frown. Whiskers formed an X below his nose. A business suit hung like rags on his squat rodent frame. It would have been comical if he wasn’t shaking so hard his teeth chattered. The two detectives leaned hard on the creature. “Why were you running?” they asked.

“Chimera’s gone crazy. He’s going to eradicate all of the normals, normal humans I mean.”

“And how does he intend to do that?”, asked Briscoe.

“He’s created a virus, he calls ‘Tinn’ it is keyed to kill anyone whose cells are not saturated with Kubdilasha.”

“Where’s you proof, Lab-rat?”, the detectives wanted to know.

In response, Lab-rat undid a button on his black, frayed jacket and put it onto a dusty table. It looked to be an unremarkable button, like ones I’d seen on many clothes. The yellow color and metallic sheen brought gold to my mind. Lab-rat noticed me looking at the button and pressed the center with his thumb. “Gentlemen”, he said, “My invention, the Holotron.”

The button glowed with dazzling light and showed all sorts of evidence, including a chemical formula.

“What is that? Briscoe asked..

“This is a ‘Holotron’ a portable hard-drive and hologram viewer. It’s also a camera and can take holograms of anyone, or anything, its pointed toward.”

“Interesting.” I heard myself say.

His button also contained biographies on some of the Ani-men. Most notably, Simbano. He was a member of the Yoruba tribe in Africa. They were primarily located in southwestern Benin. His human name was Jakara. He was exiled from his tribe because he was accused of masterminding a bombing in Kenya. There was no proof of course, but suspicion was enough.

Jakara made his living as a mercenary. One day, Jakara tried to assassinate the Kenyan prime minster. The authorities were ready for him. And almost shot him to death. Sometime in 2020, he met a man who called himself Sgàile. I read the name and I felt a great chill invade my soul. I’d heard that name before. The night Pop died. I felt my eyelids closing and it felt as if a hand was on my forehead. There was a darkness. I grunted as I hit the ground hard. The creature had thrown me away from him like a rag doll. I could barely see because of the tears in my eyes.

“Let the boy go.” Said an ominous male voice.

“Silverwol,f” said the creature.

I turned my head and saw a human figure backlit by the setting sun. I could make out none of his features. He seemed to be fire incarnate.

“Let him go, Sgàile.”

“Make me,” said a menacing voice, as smooth and dark as oil. The last tones of the voice faded like a haunting melody.

I felt bright, searing light cooking my bones like meat and voices I didn’t recognize say “fractured skull, concussion and light fractures in the back. Get him to OR three.”

“Okay.” Said a nervous uncertain voice.

“Quick! His brain might ooze out the back of his skull. Hurry rookie!”

“Hurry rookie!” said O’bannon

“Huh, Er, what?”

“Pay attention, dammit!”

“Um, sorry,” I said sheepishly.

“Drive- Lab-Rat to the safe house in Bremerton, rookie. We’re finished with his interrogation.”

“Yes sir, detective, um did you get much from him?”

“Not as much as we’d hoped.”

“You have the chemical formula for Kubdilasha now don’t you?”

“We ain’t got shit as far as I’m concerned.” said Briscoe. “We’ve got a bunch a gibberish and numbers that the rat-freak says is a some sort of a formula, for mixing your genes with animal shit, and some bullshit story about a mole in the police department.”

“A mole?” My voice sounded pained. It was hard for me to think that one of my fellow officers in the police department might be working for the Animen. Did he say who it was?”

“No,” said Briscoe. His voice suggested he was tasting feces. Drive the mutant to the safe house in Bremerton.”

“Uh Bremerton isn’t in Seattle sir.”

“That’s right!” Briscoe said.

“The rookie can be taught” said O’bannon.

It gradually dawned on me that I was supposed to take O’bannon to an FBI safe house in Bremerton.

“May I gather I am to take Lab-rat to the FBI Safe house in Bremerton?”

“Might be a good idea rookie.”

Briscoe handed me a set of coordinates. “Input these into your car’s GPS and follow them.”

“Yes sir.” I took Lab-Rat out to the car.

The Sun was high in the sky now. It wouldn’t be long until my shift ended and I could go home. But first I had to take lab rat to a safe house in god awful Bremerton of all places. Why? I didn’t know, but mine is not to question why.

Men fear most what they cannot see, or so I’d heard. But it was not what I saw, when I exited the hotel that bothered me. it was more what I felt or didn’t feel. A cool breeze made the hairs on the neck stand on end. The air felt oppressive with dread. Danger was close. I’d heard force veterans talk about their, instincts, sharpened like a blade, honed, on the whetstone of experience, to such a degree, that it gave them an almost preternatural danger sense. I’d not yet felt such a sense, but I believed I was feeling it now. Perhaps it was just Lab-rats claims of a mole in the police department. The notion frightened me. I wanted to get this particular assignment over with as soon as possible. That was probably why I didn’t notice that we were being followed and that it was my friend.

The feeling did not dissipate on the road. If anything, it intensified. Lab-rat must have felt it too for he started making whining noises and hissing to himself. “They’re coming,” he whispered.

“Who is coming?”

“The Animen.”

“What do you think they’ll do?’

“They’re going to kill me.”

I turned around so that I could look him in the eye from the front seat and said, “I will do my very best to make sure that doesn’t happen.“ I hope I sounded sincere.

Lab-rat look me in the eye for a long moment, then, his coarse, furry finger touched mine and said, “I’m trusting you.”

For a minute, man, and monster were in accord as we drove out into the sunset. That promise would lead to the longest night of my life, and force me through the gates of death.


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