by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|Later that night, Stan Chitwood was in the lobby of the hotel Montgomery stayed in. His back was to the elevator when Montgomery stepped off it carrying his briefcase. Chitwood pretended to watch the TV in the lobby. What he was really doing was looking at Montgomery's reflection on the screen. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed as Montgomery left the lobby.
'He's on the move,' he said. He put the phone back in his pocket and followed him out of the lobby.
Montgomery waited as the valet retrieved his car. Chitwood used the time to get to his and drive to the exit of the parking lot. A few minutes later when Montgomery drove away, Chitwood followed a hundred yards behind him.
Four miles later, they were both stopped at a traffic light. Chitwood was now only four cars behind Montgomery, but had his turn signal on, indicating to Montgomery if he should look in one of his mirrors that he was turning away. The first of his men had joined him and would take over the tail, giving him time to dart ahead and wait for Montgomery to catch up to him.
Then, before the light changed from red to green, Montgomery gunned his car and shot across the road. A bus coming from the cross street skidded and stopped in the center of the intersection. There was no reason for the bus not to move once Montgomery passed across, but it stayed in place, blocking all traffic.
'DAMN!' Chitwood yelled. He realized the bus was staying in the intersection to keep Montgomery from being followed. He called his teammates. Both of them were close, but the resulting traffic jam prevented them from moving. It took twelve minutes for the police to clear the blockade. The instant he could move again, Chitwood raced across the intersection, ignoring the shouting of the police officer. He eventually found Montgomery's car three miles down the street. It was abandoned and the keys were still in the ignition. As he looked on, a couple of passing teenagers saw the empty car. They jumped in it and took off.
Chitwood did not bother himself with them. His concern was that Montgomery was gone and he had no idea where. He would reacquire, but it would take time.
Whitingham told The Assassin about the cabin in French Town. He volunteered to take him there, but The Assassin told him he would only get in his way. He did take the keys to his car.
An hour later, he pulled off the dirt road three miles before reaching the cabin. The car was driven deep enough into the forest that it would not be seen by anyone driving by. His plan was to take out the three he was hired to kill tonight. According to all Whitingham told him, they seemed to be the more difficult problem. Once they were out of the way, he would capture the Sheriff and turn him over.
He had over a dozen different costumes to choose from. He selected the one matching closest to the terrain he was in. Once dressed, it covered him from head to toe. He eye slits were specially designed. He could see out, but the white of his eyes did not show. One other feature made this particular combat outfit useful. There was a patch of material over his chest and across his side and back designed for the sole purpose of absorbing the sound of his heartbeat. When he designed the outfit, he debated with himself if that feature was really necessary. He finally put it in because he could hear the heartbeat of another person. If he could do it, there might be someone else out there that could do it also. He opened the other trunk and pulled out what he needed. Then he vanished into the woods.
Three miles away, Sheriff Johnson was pushing his plate away and putting a hand up. 'Please, no more. I could not eat another bite if my life depended upon it.'
He started to get up and take his plate inside, but Diane stopped him at once. 'Stay seated, Rick. You're our guest. I'll put the dishes away.'
She and Tonya gathered the dishes and Eddie stayed at the picnic table with the Sheriff. 'How was the first day back at work?' he asked.
'Not a lot different. I wasn't away that long. There's been a lot of calls from the media about the bank robbery, but that's old news now and they seem to be losing interest.'
'That's good, but I don't think Robinson Sr. has lost interest yet.'
'That is something he will have to deal with. I wish as much as he does that it had not happened, but there was nothing I could have done different. The entire time I was at the mansion, I went over it every angle I could think of. With the exception of letting them drive away, there was nothing that could have kept them from dying.'
'Hey, enough about bad feelings,' Diane said. 'Come on in and let's play a couple of rounds of canasta.'
The Sheriff looked at his watch. 'I guess I can stay another hour or two before going home.'
'Great,' Tonya said as she took his hand. 'You and me will kick their canasta butts.'
It took The Assassin over an hour to get close to the cabin. He moved slowly, being careful not to make the slightest of sounds. If he wanted, he could lift his head and see the cabin over the eighteen inch tall mound in front of him. He did not do that because an observant person might see the top of his head. Instead, he pulled out a small periscope lens. It was only one inch in diameter and the color of the earth. The lens was tinted so it would not reflect light. He slowly moved the top of the periscope to the top of the mound and looked to see what waited for him. The cabin was two hundred yards away.
He lay there with no movement for thirty minutes. He could see shadows occasionally as the people inside the cabin moved around. It did not take long for him to know there were four people inside. If three were the ones he was to kill, there was an excellent chance the fourth person was the Sheriff he was to capture. The stars were out and the moon was not yet up. His eyes adjusted to the dark and he could see the land around him better than most people could see their surroundings at noon.
He was ready to move forward ten more yards to the next area he selected to continue his observation. Before he started, there was a sound to his right. He slowly turned his head so sudden movement would not draw attention. Sixty yards away was a deer. The animal had no idea he was there. He stayed where he was. If he startled the deer it would dart away, making noise in the process.
Over the next five minutes, the deer moved closer. It was only eight yards from him. The deer still did not know he was there. Then a chill went over him when the deer stepped on a twig and it snapped. He was not the one that made the noise, but that would not make a difference if one of the people in the cabin heard the sound.
The card players were ready to deal the next hand. The Sheriff and Tonya were in the lead by a hundred and twenty points. The Sheriff was shuffling the cards so he did not notice when the three pack members looked to one of the windows.
'It's a deer,' Tonya said after a few seconds.
'What's a deer?' Rick asked.
'There's a deer a couple hundred yards south of us,' Eddie said. 'It's stomping around out there making all sorts of clatter.' He stood and looked out the window. He saw the deer as it continued to graze. 'Hey, I think I'll take a little break. I could use a breath of fresh air.'
Rick looked at his watch. 'I need to be taking off anyway. I have a busy day tomorrow. I have a couple of new deputies starting and I want to get them started out right.'
'Yeah,' Diane said. 'If we leave now, we can catch the last movie.'
'Oh, yeah. I've been waiting to see it,' Tonya added.
'Come on, Eddie. Go with us,' Diane said. 'It's the latest werewolf movie.'
'I've already seen it. I got to admit it's a little better than most. You two go on. I'm going to watch the stars and moon.'
'We're going to the mansion after the show. We'll see you tomorrow then.'
Two minutes later, both the girls and the Sheriff were gone. Eddie stepped out the door to look at the sky. He had a small telescope he used to use, but he could now see objects in the sky with his eyes as well as he used to be able to do with the telescope.
The Assassin was still in his spot. The deer was at last moving away. He watched as the Sheriff and the two women left. For a short time he believed he would have to wait another day before completing his contract. Then he saw the male was staying. That was good. He would take him out and wait in ambush for the others to come back.
He watched him as he walked around, looking at the sky. After a short time, he moved to the picnic table and sat down. The Assassin studied him for another minute. His back was to him. He put the periscope away and for the first time lifted his head to see over the small hill. His target was still facing away. He moved over the rise and moved ten yards closer. He was happy to see the target was still at the table.
Eddie was doing his best to figure out why he was so edgy. He focused his hearing, seeking any trace sound from something that should not be there. He heard nothing unexpected. He jumped to the top of the cabin and scanned the area, using his incredible vision to spot anything. Again there was nothing. He leaped back down and returned to his seat. It did not make sense to him. His ears and eyes told him nothing was wrong. He finally figured out what was wrong. His sense that he was being watched kept trying to kick in, telling him there was someone watching him. It was close to coming on, not only letting him know he was being watched, but also the direction he was being watched from. Close, but no cigar. As far as he could tell, there was no one out there. That did not make sense either.
This was the feeling he had when he and the pack members hunted each other in the forest. He knew they were out there somewhere looking for him as he looked for them. Sometimes they spotted him first and they won, but most of the time he found them first. If he were playing the game with them, he would think he was on the verge of being discovered. Miranda and Sara were in Texas. Diane and Tonya were at the movies. All the other Wolves were in Russia. That meant there were no Wolves left to hunt him.
He decided he would scout the area. If after a thorough inspection he did not find anything, he would say it was a case of jitters from being away from Miranda for so long.
The Assassin was grateful his outfit hid his eyes, because he knew they had to open wide as he saw his target jump from the ground to the top of his house as easily as taking a stair step. He watched him move away. Then it seemed as if he became invisible as he stepped into the forest.
The Assassin did not wait, but took off at once. The advantage was still his. He knew the area the target was in and the target did not know where he was.
In a few seconds he reached the house. He peeked around the corner, throwing star in hand in case it was needed. There was no one there. He would not cross the open spot between the cabin and the picnic area. Instead he turned back the way he came. He moved to the back of the cabin. The trees started six feet behind it. A single leap and he vanished as rapidly as the target only a minute earlier.
Eddie no longer felt as if he was being watched. That could mean one of two things. The first was there had been no one there to start with. The second was he was no longer seen once he entered the woods. He stopped and again checked the area around him. He still heard and saw nothing but insects and the deer that was now leaving the area. The last sound he heard before he started feeling so jumpy was the snapping of a twig from the deer. He moved to the area where the noise came from. A minute later he was two hundred yards south of the cabin. He saw a deer print and the broken twig on top of it. He paid no attention to the twig, but looked hard at an area close to it. The grass was flattened from where someone or something had been lying on the ground. It could have been the deer.
He kneeled next to the depression and sniffed. Human. There was no doubt about it. The scent was incredibly light for a person, but someone had been there recently. He began searching for signs of movement.
Seventy yards behind the target, The Assassin again had his periscope out, peering over a small boulder. He was astonished the target located his initial observation point. Before that happened, he did not think there was another person on the planet beside him that could do such a thing. He felt a thrill of excitement move over him. This could prove even more challenging than the time he destroyed his clan. He would take the target's head as a memento of the occasion.
He was curious. It looked as if the target was smelling the area, trying to pick up his scent. He thought on that. Almost every adversary he ever faced used only their eyes to hunt and for battle. The really efficient ones also used their ears. It appeared the target added the sense of smell to those items, giving him an extra edge.
As he considered everything, he figured out a way he could use the target's ability to track by sense of smell against him. He watched the target begin a circle around the cabin, looking for him. Luckily, the target started the circle moving away from him. He watched him move for twenty seconds before again he disappeared into the forest. He did his best to estimate his speed so he would know approximately when the circle would be completed and he would be back at his starting point. The more accurate he was in his estimation, the likelier he was to finish the kill quickly.
He left his spot and returned the where it all started.
Eddie had never believed there could be a human out there so effective at hiding. Until tonight, he would have sworn on a stack of Bibles only a pack member could have such skill. He also knew he was being stalked. That was okay with him. He and the pack members stalked each other all the time, and he did not doubt that soon his abilities would overcome the skills of the one hunting him. He had the scent of the person now. He would keep circling the cabin, working his way in with each pass until he picked up the scent. Then as a bloodhound he would track him down. He was not certain he would kill the person after he caught him. Such a talent as this human possessed was unique and he would not destroy it if all the person wanted to do was kill him. He would demonstrate what he was attempting was impossible and if the person agreed never to search for him or a pack member again, release him.
As a shadow, he circled the cabin. Then he began to backtrack, spiraling back out into the forest. Every so often he picked up the scent and knew he was getting closer. It was not long before he was almost back to where he started. He froze and searched the area in front of him. His respect for the person he was after took a huge fall. He saw the top of his hood from where he stood. His concealment was efficient enough that a human would not have spotted him, however it was nowhere near the efficiency he displayed to that point.
He stayed hidden as he moved closer. He stopped behind a tree only ten feet from where the man lay in the depression. He could pick up his scent well now and burned it into his memory. He stepped from behind the tree to take the man captive. He only took a single step before he paused. The only thing in front of him was the hood the man had worn.
He walked forward and picked it up. When he did, he saw what looked like a lump of play-doh fall out of the hood. Inserted into the lump was a counter. He saw the number on the counter change from 2 to 1.
He leaped backwards at once. He was five feet in the air and five feet further away when the plastic exploded. The blast wave caught him and slammed him into a tree hard enough to slash his side open. His ears went numb from the blast. A rock shot by him, ripping the side of his face open. The vision in his right eye was blurred from the explosion. He felt it healing, but for the next fifteen minutes until it did, his vision would be reduced by fifty percent. The air was knocked out of him and he was dazed.
He rolled over and tried to stand. He put an arm out to push himself up. Before he could move further, his arm was kicked out from under him. A foot crashed into his back.
Anyone else on the planet except for a pack member would have died. He was not anyone else. What he was was cut, dazed, winded, bruised and half blind. More than anything else, he was pissed. All notions of letting this guy live vanished as fast as the explosion. He felt pressure waves along his face, telling him another foot was moving at his head. He reached out, caught the foot and pushed.
The Assassin was as stunned as Eddie was. The target had been almost at the center of the explosion. He had actually vanished for a half a second inside the blast, yet he survived. He saw him trying to stand and kicked his arm out from under him. He spun around and smashed his foot into the target's back. He had snapped four by four beams of wood with that kick, but the spine of the target did not break. He brought the other foot around to kick the laceration on the target's face to keep it bleeding. He did not understand how, but it seemed that already the blood flow was slowing down. Before his foot made contact, the target reached out and caught it. His grip felt like a steel vise and he was hurled away.
His skill was such that instead of crashing into the ground, he landed on his feet. At once he turned back to resume the attack. He pulled out a shuriken in each hand and hurled them. The target rolled out of the path of one and put his hand up to stop the other one from ramming into his head.
Eddie made the first throwing star coming at him miss, but since he was still on the ground could not move fast enough to avoid the second. He reached out and stopped it from going through his head by sacrificing his hand. He shouted in pain as the blades of the weapon dug into his palm. With his other hand, he pulled it loose and threw it back.
The Assassin avoided the return of his weapon by moving a foot to the right. He was shocked as he watched the target make it back to his feet. There should not be a person on the planet that could survive what he had done to the target. Even the vampires he faced in New York were nothing compared to him. Then he remembered what one of the vampires asked him. At the time, it did not make any sense and perhaps it still did not. He would find out. He stared at the man facing him. 'Are you a wolf?' he asked.
'Yes, indeed I am. I'm a Wolf and I am howling mad. Bad news for you.'
Instead of fleeing, The Assassin resumed his attack. If he was to die it would be in battle. He pulled out another shuriken and charged. At five feet he hurled it at the target's head. As he expected the target to do, he reached out and caught it. This time his fingers landed between the blades so he was not cut. While the target used his concentration to protect himself from the shuriken, The Assassin spun around and kicked his legs out from under him.
'Aw, crap,' Eddie said when he found himself once again on the ground. Before he could get back to his feet, he felt the pounding of nunchaku against his head. Each hit caused a split in his scalp and blood began to pour down his face again. For the first time, Eddie started to worry. He realized it was possible the person fighting him might actually kill him. He managed to reach up and catch the hardwood handles slamming into the side of his head. He pulled them away and threw them. They soared out of sight.
Undeterred, The Assassin began smashing his fists into Eddie's face. These were not the wild swings of a desperate person, but calculated strikes to do the maximum damage. For decades The Assassin had rammed his fists into boards and concrete. That dedication paid off here. Each strike produced another cut. He concentrated on one area, trying to do the most harm to one section of the target.
By the time the fifth hit was delivered, Eddie was able to grab one of The Assassin's hands. He tossed him as he did the nunchaku a minute earlier.
The Assassin shot thru the air. He was able to twist so he did not ram into the tree with his head, but he felt two of his ribs cave in from the impact. He fell to the ground, barely able to inhale. For thirty seconds he lay there before he was able to overcome the pain and sit up. He saw the target standing over him, looking down at him. He could not understand how it was possible for the target to be alive. 'How is it you can do the things you do?' he asked. 'These things are above the ability of man.'
'Like we talked about, I'm a Wolf. Technically, I'm a werewolf. The ones of us that are have speed, strength, and abilities far above most humans. Before I met you, I would have said all humans. Now I will have to rethink that. It has been fun, but all good things must end.' Eddie reached down to snap his neck.
When his hand was halfway there, The Assassin flung the powder in his hand into the target's face. Eddie shouted and jumped back as the powder coated his eyes. It was a special blend of The Assassin's own design. It consisted of pulverized particles of the hottest chili peppers on the planet, spitting cobra venom, and ricin, a deadly poison.
Eddie fell back, trying to wipe the powder from his eyes, but only succeeded in pushing it in deeper.
The Assassin made it to his feet and charged. His injured ribs reduced his speed and strength, but he attacked anyway. He screamed in agony as he slammed his foot into the Wolf's chin. He was rewarded with a jet of blood shooting out of the Wolf's mouth. He could not follow up immediately with the other leg because it was on his injured side. He jabbed his fingers towards the Wolf's eyes. He had inch long nails and his plan was to blind him permanently. Before his hand was there, the Wolf blocked him. In the same movement, the Wolf swung his hand at him.
The Assassin ducked, but the combination of his injuries and the speed of the Wolf prevented him from escaping untouched. Only the side of the Wolf's hand grazed his head. Even with almost a complete miss, his vision blurred and he almost lost consciousness from the power of the blow. Blood poured down the side of his head.
He stumbled away. His hits were taking a toll on the Wolf, but it took many strikes to do little damage. Just a glancing blow from his opponent almost removed his head. He knew he was too injured to continue the battle and needed to escape before the Wolf could recover. He showed a remarkable ability to quickly overcome injuries so he did not know how long he had.
Now that he knew what he faced, he would prepare himself better and have better weapons the next time they met. He vanished in the woods as he made his way back to the car.
Eddie fell to the ground. All night he lay there with hardly any movement. The sun was rising before some of the effects of the powder began to wear off. His body overcame first the peppers and next the venom. The ricin was a different story. It was a poison there was no cure for. His body was pushed almost to its limits before the effects began to wear away. Eventually, it felt as if grains of sand were in his throat. He spit them out. When they were on the ground, his saw it was the tiny particles of the ricin. His body formed membranes around them and moved them up his throat where he spit them out. He tried to reach the cabin to call the pack for help. He was able to make it to the doorway before he passed out.
An hour later, the telephone began to ring. The chimes of Diane's ringtone began to penetrate the fog surrounding him and he came to. When he stood, he realized the effects of the powder were fading. In another hour at most he would be completely recovered. He moved to the phone and picked it up.
'Hi, Toots,' he said.
Most times Diane would have told him he could not call her Toots. This time her response was different. 'What's wrong?' She asked. She could tell from his voice he was wounded.
'I did a tango with an oriental assassin. This dude is fantastic, with a strong emphasis on fantastic.'
Eddie could not hear Diane and Tonya as they raced to one of the cars, their movements were too efficient and too silent. He did hear the wind pass over the phone from the speed they moved. They would be with him in half an hour. He heard Tonya call out from the driver's seat. 'What do you mean 'is'? Why did you not say 'was'?'
'Because he is still out there somewhere.'
'Are you saying you didn't kill him?' Diane asked.
'It wasn't because I did not try. I tracked him, he tracked me, I hurt him, he hurt me. As I said, he is good. I would be willing to say with the exception of a pack member, there is not a person on the planet that could take him out.' He paused for a short time before adding, 'He knows I'm a Wolf.'
'WHAT!?' Diane yelled.
He heard Tonya say, 'If he didn't kill you, I sure as hell will. How did that happen?'
'I believed the battle was over. He had a couple of broken ribs and a few other injuries. He asked me if I was a Wolf. Where he came up with the question I have no way of knowing. I figured he would be dead in twenty seconds, so I confirmed it, telling him specifically what kind of Wolf, as in werewolf. Then he tossed some sort of powder in my eyes. They're still burning. I stumbled away in one direction, he stumbled away in the opposite.'
'You are going to have one hell of a time explaining this to Miranda.'
'Yeah. I have the feeling she is going to be pissed.'
As they talked, Eddie moved to the shower. He turned the water on cold at full force. He was fully dressed as he stepped into it and moved the showerhead so it streamed into his eyes. He was still there half an hour later when the car with Tonya and Diane skidded to a stop at the front of the cabin.