(July 4, 2011)
The Sikorsky landed with a touch as sweet as a kiss, the landing gear settling on the turf and bearing the heavy chopper's weight.
Inside the two person cockpit, I sat there for a moment, unwilling to move. But I knew I had to some time, so after a minute, I started flipping switches. The only things I left alone were the climate controls and lights for the passenger cabin.
Crammed into the passenger baai, bay of the Sikorsky S-76C light helicopter were as many of the Jasper wolves as I could get; Candu, Hutch, Winston, Eve, Tony, Ela, Candy, Salty, Shakey, Mooch, Garth, Olliver (Scar's brother), Kim (Olliver's mate), Nell and Karina (the first two shown in the moonlight howl).
That made 15 wolves in a cabine meant for 11, and everyone I had talked to wasn't even here yet. I had wired money to Uriah and Brandon and sent Kate out in Scar's C63 AMG to go pick up Rich and Sweets.
With all these people and wolves coming, it made a grand total of twenty two individuals looking for Scar, not including me.
I could hear the turbines of the helicopter winding down as I cleared my throat.
"Guys, I want to thank u all for coming. I really appreciate the fact that all of u are able and willing to help Scar out. If she knew, she'd want to hug every single one of you," I said.
"Look," zei Nell, "I don't know you. But Scar is like a sister to me and Karina. Whoever did this is going to seriously wish they hadn't!"
I nodded at his kind words. Eve kept the ball rolling.
"Us Jasper wolves are a family. We stick together. If someone fucks with one of us, they've fucked with all of us! And they will pay!"
A chorus of wolfish yelps and me clapping followed on the heels of this crude, if effective, statement.
"You guys want to go inside? I'm expecting a few others," I asked.
"Who else is coming?" asked Garth, raising his eyebrow.
"Rich and Sweets, Uriah and Humphrey, and Brandon and Lilly," I said. "Oh, and Kate's here too."
Garth's tail started to wag at the notion of seeing Lilly and Kate again.
"Garth, keep it together," I warned.
Something in my expression must have told him that right now is not the best time to be himself.
While everyone piled out of the helicopter, I took a little detour into the cockpit to shut down the generator and the interior controls.
"You guys go on in and make yourselves comfortable in the living room. I'm waiting on the others."
A few minuten after I sent everyone inside, I heard the distinctive sound of a Mercedes Benz C63 AMG. A seconde of two later, I saw the lights turn into our driveway. Kate was back with Rich and Sweets.
The sedan pulled into the cirkel and stopped. Kate got out, as did Rich and Sweets. Rich, I was glad to see, had brought his double barreled shotgun like I had asked.
"Thanks for coming, u guys," I started to say, but Rich stopped me.
"Save it for when everyone's here," he zei softly. "Sweets, honey, why don't u and Kate go inside and say hi to everyone?"
Sweets nodded, sensing the need for privacy. Kate led the way inside, chattering about things I really didn't care about at the moment.
Rich and I didn't say anything, but at a gesture from me, he handed me his weapon.
I checked it out and found that it was an old, well used weapon, but Rich kept it in good shape. The receiver had two shells in it.
I shouldered the gun, but kept the barrels pointing at the ground.
In a few minutes, a cab pulled up to the house. I couldn't see what human it was, but I didn't have to. I could see the distinctive mane of one Humphrey, who pawed at the window at the sight of me.
I paid the cab driver, Uriah and Humphrey got out, and the cab sped away. Uriah sent Humphrey inside with the prospect of being able to talk to Kate, leaving the three humans outside.
A minuut later, a seconde cab pulled up and disgorged Lilly and Brandon. I paid that driver too, and Lilly went inside.
"Look, this could be dangerous," I said.
Brandon interrupted me. "Let's go inside, tell everyone at once."
I nodded and followed the others inside.
Before tonight, the largest amount of people my living room had contained was four, including me and Scar. It had seemed crowded at the time, but that could have simply been the people that were in the room with Scar and I.
That experience paled in comparison to what I saw before me on July fourth, two thousand eleven.
Nineteen wolves and three humans were crammed into the space. The wolves had cleared spaces for the three humans to sit beside their mates, and as I entered the room, the last of them was sitting down.
"Can I have everyone's attention?" I asked.
No one, save Lilly, heard me. She reared up on her hind paws, put her front paws on Brandon's shoulders, and shouted, "Shut up everybody!"
The room froze. Most everyone was looking at Lilly, who was looking rather pleased with herself.
"Thanks," I zei to her.
She smiled back.
"Now that I've got your attention, I've got some things that I need to tell you.
"First, Tony, Ela, I know that this is probably the last place that u want to hear news like this, but before we go any farther, I have to get it out; Your daughter is pregnant."
In the thousand times I ran through this scene in my head, trying to come up with the gentlest way to break the news to them, Tony had, without exception, lunged for my throat and Ela had fainted.
In real life, however, it was totally backwards. Ela's face contorted in a ferocious snarl and she jumped. Since she and Tony were towards the back of the room, there was sufficient time for Garth to get to his feet and intercept his mother.
"Garth, let go of me!" Ela snarled, trying to shake free.
"No!" he managed to respond.
After about thirty seconden of furious snarls and growls, I'd had enough. With one fluid motion, I whipped the Walther P99 from its holster, clicked off the safety, and drilled two rounds into the ceiling. The thunder of the double tap bounced all around the room, loud enough to crack the glass of the coffee table.
"If you're through," I said, holstering the gun. "I'm sorry u guys had to find out this way, but I hadn't really had much of a chance to say anything."
Sushi suddenly made her appearance. Seemingly unfazed door the score of wolves, she picked her way through the throng and jumped into my lap.
I scratched her neck, feeling the lump of the subcutaneous tracker I had had put there.
Then it all came to me. The tracker!
"Son of a bitch!" I shouted. Everyone jumped. "The GPS transponder chip!"
Rich was the first one to stop looking like he had no idea what I was talking about.
"That's right!" he said. "It's the law! We have to have pets chipped in Washington!"
Sweets glared at him.
"You're not a pet, Sweets," he assured her.
I grabbed onto his statement like a drowning man grabs a rope thrown to him.
"Rich is right! The law in this state says that all pets need to be chipped. But, being me and paranoid that something would happen, I took every precaution. Sushi has 2 chips on her, one between her shoulder blades and one on her collar. Scar has three, the collar, the subcutaneous one between her shoulder blades, and one woven into her collar. When I took her in to get it done, they gave me the option of the normal chips of GPS chips. These chips are black plastic, about the size of a cheap digital watch. I took the GPS ones and upgraded them, plus I wrote a program for my computer that would pinpoint their location if something like this were to happen! But the catch is that the subcutaneous ones operate only when they're contacting blood. It completes the circuit. I went with those because a kraag can be removed in a second, but these can't!"
As I talked, I picked my way through the crowd to the dining room table, where my laptop was.
The laptop booted up, seemingly taking forever, although I knew that it was no meer than two minutes.
At the home pagina screen, I double clicked on the icoon that would pull up the GPS chip tracking program, which I had named "Findit!".
The aan het uploaden screen flashed up, then vanished.
I hadn't bothered making it all fancy, so when the command bar popped up, I typed in "locate Scar 1"
The cursor changed to the little hourglass icoon and it turned. And turned.
"Error! Chip not found"
The sight of those four words hit me in the gut like a physical blow.
"No..." I whispered.
A ragged series of yelps and cries followed.
(12:00 A.M. July 5, 2011)
My phone rang.
Numbly, I dug it out of my pocket and looked at the caller ID. Unknown.
I answered it and put it on speakerphone.
"Good morning, Mr. Browning," zei a strangely familiar, yet totally alien voice.
"YOU KILLED HER, u MOTHERFUCKER! u KILLED SCAR!"