Kitty Goes to War Page 9

I shook my head. “These guys had no independence under Gordon’s leadership. Without him, they don’t have a clue. They’re running on pure instinct—especially if Vanderman killed Crane for going outside the pack. That shut down any chance of sanity they had. I’ve seen this kind of thing before—do you realize how dangerous those men are?”

Stafford looked even more uncomfortable, if that was possible. Holy crap, we weren’t done with the story yet?

“We thought we could work with them, rehabilitate them, maybe even return them to the field,” the colonel said. “From a training and tactical standpoint, these men are incredibly valuable. We had to try something.”

“Not to mention the fact that they’re too dangerous to release on a medical discharge,” Shumacher said more softly. “We had to either find a way to retrain them or find a way to heal them.”

Neither of them mentioned a third option, but I could see it in their expressions, in the way their gazes kept dropping, in the tang of anxiety touching them. Oh, God, they hadn’t already… what did I even call it—terminate the experiment? I glared at them, my hands resting in front of me, my shoulders tense. Aggressive body language, daring them to stand up to me. A stalking wolf. Stafford’s eyes widened—he recognized the stance. He’d probably seen in it his rogue army wolves.

“It’s time for you to tell me why I’m here,” I said. “You don’t think I can help these guys become happy, well-adjusted werewolves, do you?”

“It’s more complicated than that—” Stafford started.

“It’s more urgent than that,” Shumacher said, leaning forward. “We never had any intention of bringing an unauthorized civilian in on this. If all I needed was advice I’d have just called you. But I needed to warn you, and we need your help. Kitty, Gordon’s unit escaped custody. They left FortCarson this morning. They’re on the loose, and they’re heading north.”

Chapter 4

OKAY. PACK of highly trained Green Beret werewolves are heading north, toward my territory. My city, my family, my wolves. My pack, which the wolves of Gordon’s unit would see either as followers to be recruited, or rivals to be destroyed. They had to be stopped, and Stafford and Shumacher didn’t have a clue. Right. I could handle this.

Maybe.

“You’re the fucking army,” I said. “You couldn’t stop them?”

“It’s not that simple,” Stafford said, speaking calmly to hide that he was just a little flustered—sweating, tapping his fingers on the table. He probably didn’t even notice he was doing it. “These men have the best escape and evasion training in the world.”

“But you know where they are?” I said.

“We lost them in the foothills north of Colorado Springs.”

“They’re fast,” Shumacher said. “They might even be moving as wolves in wilderness.”

Stafford said, “We tried microchipping them, but their bodies rejected the microchips.”

“It’s the superimmunity,” Shumacher explained. “Werewolf physiology rejects invasive technologies.”

“Really?” I said. “So if I ever wanted to do something like, oh, breast implants?”

Shumacher gazed at me warningly and shook her head. Oh, wow, that was kind of sick. She may not have been up on the psychology, but I was always learning new medical tidbits from the doctor.

“The way Dr. Shumacher is talking,” Stafford continued, “this isn’t just a matter of getting my people back under control. She says they could pose a threat to the civilian population.”

“Yeah, they could, if they’re out of control enough to attack people,” I said. “Not to mention my people. Werewolves are territorial, just like the wild version. They might go looking for my pack to take them out.” This was sounding worse all the time.

“That’s part of why I called,” Shumacher said. “I thought you should be warned.”

“For what purpose? So I can worry about it?”

“That wasn’t the only reason,” Stafford said. “Doctor Shumacher says you have a lot of experience, that you’ve encountered some similar problems with violent werewolves, and that you might know how to handle this. We wanted to ask for your advice.” Stafford tightened his jaw; he probably didn’t ask people for advice very often.

Resisting an urge to rant, I leaned my head on my hand and considered. If these guys couldn’t figure out how to stop the rogues, I had to do it. Or face an even bigger problem in, oh, a day or so. I had to call Ben and the rest of the pack, to warn them. I could even call Cormac—he knew more about hunting werewolves than anyone I knew. Stafford and Shumacher ought to be talking to him.

I tried to get at the problem step by step. We had a group of out-of-control werewolves. What did they want? What were they after? If they were operating mainly on instinct, which they seemed to be, they’d be looking to set up a territory. Maybe even looking to join an existing pack—if they were between Colorado Springs and Denver they’d probably get a whiff of mine. The thing was, they were big, aggressive, dominant werewolves—they wouldn’t just want to join—they’d want to take it over. That was what we were trying to prevent. I had to work with Stafford to head these guys off, to protect my pack. And then what? What did wild wolves want after they set up a territory?

Oh. I had an idea. A crazy idea. But not any crazier than the rest of this situation.

“Let me make a couple of phone calls,” I said to them.

WHILE I was making my calls, Stafford heard from his guys in the field. They’d tracked the rogue pack into the mountains of the Front Range, then north. And how had they tracked them? They’d found a body: one of the remaining pack members, Sergeant Estevan, mauled to death, head torn from shoulders. More squabbling within the pack. They were arguing, and Vanderman dealt ruthlessly with dissenters. We only had three werewolves to capture now, but they were tough, angry, and homicidal. My plan seemed even flimsier, but the news made trying to stop them even more important.

Three hours later, a group of us stood in the forest off Highway 285, south of Mount Evans, west of Denver. We were going to try to intercept them. The group included me, Shumacher, and Stafford. I’d brought Ben along because I always brought him when I could. It didn’t hurt that he was a lawyer. I also had my secret weapons.

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