Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Christmas Rescue

Just a little Christmas themed short story. It's not been edited so expect more than a few errors.
Enjoy!

Copyright © 2019 Rose Montague

The Christmas Rescue
by Rose Montague

“Wait on the front porch,” I told Tigger, a tiger of over four hundred pounds who happened to be my house cat. “You may growl, but don't attack. I want to see if they have the guts to walk past you.” I was a skinwalker, able to shift into many different forms and had met Tigger in the wild. He was extremely intelligent and really just a big pussycat. I had always liked the big cat forms the best.
I hadn't had visitors in many years, there were reasons for that. Two men approached my house, a sprawling log cabin style ranch in the middle of the forest. They had come on foot because of the sign at the entrance to my property which told them no vehicles were allowed past that point. It was a hot day and the nearly three mile walk had them sweating. They were wolves and I knew the first man from some work I had done for the CIA. The other was an alpha, most likely of the same clan as the man I knew, The Red Mountain Pack. The power radiating off him was obvious to those of us who shifted. It was as clear to see as if he were wearing a sign around his neck.
I was standing over the sink in my kitchen and had a good view of the front of the house. They had both seen me looking and I had smiled, showing my teeth. They had glanced at me but briefly, all attention now on Tigger who opened his mouth to show his teeth as well. A shifter knows a shifter in any form and the fact that this was a real tiger would be obvious to them. Tigger roared and they hesitated. When he didn't attack they continued on, walking past him, the alpha leaning over and rubbing Tigger under his chin.
I got to the front door about the time the doorbell rang. “Dog,” I said, leaning forward and giving him a hug.
“Cat,” he replied, hugging me tight. “It's good to see you again.” Dog and Cat had been our working names, he had seen me as various big cats before. The Seal Team he had been a member of had been carefully assembled and made up of all shifters. The CIA had known about us for many years, although the rank and file in the military and the government did not.
“This is Mike Lee, Alpha of the Red Mountain Pack.”
I shook his hand, “You may call me Cat as well,” I told him.
I led them into the living room where I had prepared a tray of glasses full of iced tea. They both drank deeply.
“What brings you to my neck of the woods?” I asked. “It's been a long time since I had any visitors.”
“Probably due to that big group of weres from the Gridiron Pack that came here ten years ago and never came back,” said Mike. “What happened to those guys?”
“They intended harm,” I answered. “I dropped the lot of them in an active volcano.” Shifters have a fine sense for determining the truth of a statement. They could tell I was being honest. “This is my territory, registered with the Shifter Council. I have a right to defend my home.”
“Most of us assumed they were no longer among the living. Good riddance to a bad group and a worse alpha. Still, it's understandable that most would stay away from a casual visit.”
“This would not be a casual visit then?” I asked.
“No,” Mike said. “We need help.”
“You, of all people, would come to me asking for help?”
“I was not in charge when that happened. I apologize for past mistakes on the part of the pack and am prepared to make things right. The lives of three of our kids is at stake. Paul, the one you call Dog, tells me that you have performed impossible rescues in the Middle East. That is what is needed to save our kids.”

…...............................................................

It had happened a little more than ninety years ago. A skinwalker had been born to the pack. I had offered to take her away and train her, making it possible for her to live with the pack without endangering them. Skinwalkers always had some witchy powers to go along with the ability to take many forms. Sometimes those powers could be quite dangerous. My request had been refused and an argument had taken place. I had a choice to either challenge that alpha for leadership, something that would make the pack uncomfortable as skinwalkers are generally feared even among the pack or stealing her away from the pack. I consulted the fates, asking for an Intervention and was also refused. My relationship with the Alpha deteriorated, resulting in him exiling me from the pack.
A few years later the pack had been on a hunt and had cornered a bear. The resulting fight had blood flying and the skinwalker couldn't control her powers, shifting into a huge bear and killing several pack members before being killed herself.
“Your Alpha was wrong,” I said.
“Yes he was,” Mike agreed.
Dog laid a folder on the table. “Two months ago three of our teenagers went on a camping trip and were kidnapped by a squad of Army Rangers.” They have been taken to a facility run by the FBI under a program investigating supernatural creatures led by Senator Bradford. They were on pack territory when this happened. The Shifter Council has used back channels to demand their return, without response. It is a pure and simple case of kidnapping. The kids are being experimented on like lab animals. Of course, with their connection to the pack, we know where they are being held. We believe we can rescue them, but not without considerable loss of life on both sides. There is a chance the kids might be killed as well. This folder contains all we know about the facility where they are held.”
“This carries considerable political implications,” Mike added. “The Vampires were the first to make a deal, before the humans had a chance to think about it much. The leadership in Washington now is one that stands against anyone who is different from the norm. Shifters like us have little chance in today's political climate. If we take action, it's possible the entire pack as well as other packs across the country could be in danger of being hunted down like wild animals. My daughter is one of those that has been taken. Unfortunately, I have to consider what's best for the pack.”
I took a big swig of tea and leaned back, thinking. “This will have major consequences and I will need to consult the spirit world. Leave the folder and your contact information and I will get back to you tomorrow.”

…........................................

With great power comes great responsibility. I had been granted power by the three Fates with the understanding that it's use would be with their approval, unless I was under personal attack. A case like this required a consultation. Deep into the spirit world I flew, following the signs left for me. I was pretty sure these three had once been witches who had been offered a position in the spirit world. Like me, they had a responsibility, and that was to maintain the thread of human life. Three lives meant little in the great scheme of things unless their life or death had a great impact on the overall thread. I had a feeling this was a key moment in history.
Cee, as usual was waiting for me. It's hard to surprise the Fates. They once had names but had long forgotten, focusing as they should on the future. I called them Bea, Cee, and Dee, weavers and snippers, they added strands as well as clipped them here and there on the main thread as well as special threads, like mine that they sometimes let me see. Time had little meaning here, I once spent several days with them on a particularly complicated Intervention project, returning at the same time I left.
“I am requesting an Intervention,” I told Cee. She already knew, of course, and led the way to the others. They had the main thread behind them, the place marked where, in the future, the Intervention would or would not, occur. The split was obvious, three strands, two leading to many deaths and a thinning of the main weave, one leading to a health and full strand. “Tell me what I am looking at,” I said.
“One of the two bad ones is if you do nothing. The other bad one is if you rescue the shifters but don't take certain actions that will prevent future violence. You must show your full powers, they will not take you seriously if you don't. You must also do something with Senator Bradford, his help is crucial in this. These are the three main possibilities, but other strands can develop, some with good consequences, some that will require much work and good fortune to correct. It's very important you follow our suggestions to the letter on this. Don't get side-tracked. Now sit down, listen, and commit to the plan.”
As plans go it was a good one. A simple and straightforward use of my main power, that of teleportation. I was not to hide my power as I had always done in the past, leaving false clues as to how I had done a rescue. I would have to go into hiding, leaving my land and home behind. The Senator was not a good person but if the plan worked, had a shot at redemption. I was to leave a powerful message, one that would get the attention of not only my government, but others as well.
On the way out, Dee showed me my thread. Big changes were coming but instead of just a few random threads interacting with mine, there were now many in my future. Some were bright and shiny new ones growing out from mine. I had seen enough threads to know these would be my children. “Who?” I whispered, afraid of the answer.
“The one you call Dog,” Dee answered. “It will take some time for folks to realize you were the cause of this. Use that time to get yourself a new identity, something he can help you with. Convince him to go with you and start a new life and a new family.”
I had been alone for so long. “Piece of cake,” I said.

…................................

The Senator was at his desk, in his office at the Capital. I had used my powers to teleport straight in behind him. I extended a claw from my finger and scratched him on the back of the neck. He exclaimed and jerked around, grabbing hold of the wound and bringing his hand back around, staring at the blood on it. With his other hand, he went for the button under his desk but I was faster and stronger and grabbed both of his hands in a painful grip. “Shout all you want, your secretary has left for lunch and most everyone else has left for home. You are one of the few still working on Christmas Eve.”
“What do you want?” he demanded, trying to rise from his chair. I pressed down, letting him feel my strength. He was no match for me.
“You have just been infected with the shifter virus,” I told him. Ninety-nine percent of those that are infected will die at their first full moon, only a week away from today. With the help of the shifters you can cut that chance of dying more than half.” I let go of him, he was now looking at me in shock. The shifter community needed an ally and I had just given them one. “Call this number,” I told him, handing him a card with a number written across it. “They will send a car to pick you up.”

…....................................

Christmas Eve and an hour before midnight, there was just a skeleton staff in the building with roughly a third of the usual guard detail around the building. I took the guards first, letting them keep their guns but leaving their radios and cell phones behind. Then I took the rest of the staff, scientists, and medical personnel, again leaving them no means to call anyone. I dropped them all in the middle of Yellowstone. It would take them a day or two to get back to civilization.
I took the kids last teleporting them straight to my living room. They had been asleep but woke immediately from my living room floor, looking wild eyed and afraid, focusing on Tigger, sprawled across the sofa. “You have been rescued!” I shouted, and handed Mike's daughter my cell phone. “Call your dad, tell him you are at Cat's place and they will come for you. They should make it here by morning. If you are hungry, there's steaks in the fridge, already thawed and a grill on the back deck. Make yourself at home. Give the biggest one to Tigger here. He won't hurt you and he loves attention.”
“Where are you going?” she asked me.
“A few loose ends to tie up,” I replied. “I'll be back before you know it.”

…......................................

I wasn't sure if it was a really big meteor or maybe it would be called a rather small asteroid but it was the one the Fates had picked out, giving me both the trajectory and entry point, keeping the speed the same as it was currently traveling. Big enough for a half-mile wide crater. The Fates had assured me if I moved everyone out there would be no collateral damage. It was an super secret facility and isolated for that very reason with only one road in or out. I hadn't done anything this size before but followed the instructions they gave me, double checking I had the right angles before I moved it.
Definitely a sight I would never forget and a really big boom. That place was vaporized, instantly. Popping back in on the kids after a few minutes they were eating their steaks and watching it on the news.
“You smashed them,” they said.
“I got the people out first,” I told them. “They are on a camping trip in the middle of Yellowstone. I bet it's cold out there this time of the year. I thought it would be only fitting under the circumstances.” Everyone got a laugh out of that one.
I called Dog. “Are you on the way?” I asked.
“We're coming,” he said. “Almost to the entrance, then we'll have to hoof it.”
“I'll suspend the no vehicles beyond that point, just for once.” I answered.
“No volcano?”
“Not this time.”
It was a great reunion with Mike, his mate, and the other parents that had come. I sat next to Tigger and watched all the hugging going on. It was the middle of the night, but also Christmas morning by now. I couldn't think of a better gift to have than to see that happiness. As they were getting ready to leave back to pack territory, Dog sat down next to me, reaching over to give Tigger some attention but also brushing against me at the same time. I liked him and could easily see myself falling for him. We had done a little flirting but nothing serious when we had served together. There was always something dangerous going on. He was still holding out for a true mate, I knew because I had done a little snooping.
“Why don't you come back with us?” he asked. “Spend a few days and get to know the pack over again.”
“What do you know about weaving?”
“Weaving?” he questioned. “Not much.”
“There are some bright and beautiful strands I want to talk to you about. Stay with me a few days. I think you will be intrigued.”
“I would love to,” he said, and snuggled up against me even closer.
That's when I realized it was me that had been rescued that Christmas morning.


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