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The Dogs of War 
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
You should write scripts for war films or something. I mean, jeez.

There's not really anything to complain about. I personally would've used dashes or semicolons to make some sentences longer. For example, this:
Quote:
Their work was done. It was time to rejoin the others.


Would be this:

Quote:
Their work was done - it was time to rejoin the others.


That's entirely my tastes speaking, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:23 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Great job once again, Coatl. always look forward to these updates. CAn't wait for the next one!

Well, Anselmo is in trouble....

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Rollofthedice wrote:
You should write scripts for war films or something. I mean, jeez.

Heh, thanks! It probably has something to do with the fact that about 85% of what I write involves combat of some sort. Once I'm done with this, I'll probably try something completely devoid of fighting/action scenes, just to shake hings up a bit.
Quote:
There's not really anything to complain about. I personally would've used dashes or semicolons to make some sentences longer. For example, this:
Quote:
Their work was done. It was time to rejoin the others.


Would be this:

Quote:
Their work was done - it was time to rejoin the others.


That's entirely my tastes speaking, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

Both ways are valid. I suppose it does just come down to personal preference.
copper wrote:
Well, Anselmo is in trouble....

Just a bit, yeah. :3

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Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:51 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Well, I was going to have a chapter ready for today, until I realized that I'd essentially written myself into a corner and decided to scrap most of it. Frankly, I'll be surprised if I can pull this off in a way that... well, in a way that makes sense. =P

Eh, I'll figure something out. Bear with me.

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Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:46 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
I am sure you'll figure something out. You are too good not to! I anxiously await the results of your hard work whenever you do finish! :D

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Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:49 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
And... commencing second round of heavy revisions. GRR. >:(

Hmm... maybe if I tried plotting out the last few chapters beforehand to make sure everything makes sense. Wait. Why didn't I just do that last time? ARGHasofniASEGgaga HNN- [Coatl Ruu cancels WRITE: too insane.]

Ahem. Right. I'll just go do that then. Until then, please... ah... continue bearing with me. =P

EDIT: Actually, I do have a little snippet prepared. Just to prove that I HAVE actually been writing.

----------

Chapter 6.5: The Infirmary

“Hey. Achilles. You awake?”

Letting out a low, muffled groan, the Doberman rolled over on his side and looked at Sebastian with a tired stare. “I am now,” he muttered. “What do you want?”

Achilles and Sebastian were lying down in a pair of hospital beds positioned a few feet from each other. The wing of the infirmary they'd been assigned to was nearly empty. Aside from one heavily bandaged man, who was fast asleep at that moment, the other dozen or so beds were vacant. Clean white linens tucked in and stretched across the mattresses with the kind of precision only seen in the military, blank white walls, white tiled floors... the room looked as uniformly bland as was physically possible.

“You think Duke and Bailey are alright?” Sebastian whispered.

Achilles let out a soft chuckle. In the near silence of the hospital ward, it seemed many times louder than it should have been. The pair looked apprehensively to the door, waiting for the base veterinarian to rush in and start squawking about how they 'needed their rest'. When no one came, Achilles went on. “I think they'll be just fine. It's not like this is the worst scrape they've ever been in, right?”

“Yeah... I guess.” With a sigh, Sebastian rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. “Still, I wish we could do something to help. You know, rush in with the cavalry to save the day, somethin' like that.”

Achilles couldn't help smiling at that. “So do I. But I don't think you'll be rushing anywhere for a good long while, buddy.”

Sebastian lifted up his injured, bandaged foot and wiggled it a bit. “Oh, I don't know about that,” he said with an appraising look in his eye. “I'm sure I'd manage to gimp along pretty quickly.” Silence fell. Achilles rolled over, looking like he was preparing for sleep once again.

“You know,” Sebastian continued. “If they make this into a book or a movie or something, we're barely gonna get a footnote. We'll just be those two guys who drop out about halfway through. Bailey and Duke are the ones they'll remember.”

Achilles' only response came in the form of soft, steady breathing. With a sigh, Sebastian rolled over and tried in vain to find sleep.

----------

Autuor's Nose: And with that, I go back to agonizing over every little detail of Chapter Seven. -_-;

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Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:33 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
:lol: Way to lean against that wall!

Nice little snippet.

Ewww!!! The author's NOSE!?!? :lol:

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Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:32 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
It's not even the Author's nose! It's some person named Autuor!

I do enjoy the fourth wall.


Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:41 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Yeah, it's fun to play with the fourth wall. =P I was actually toying with the idea of writing a bit of fanfiction completely without a fourth wall. All the characters would be aware they were in absurdly written fanfiction. And shenanigans would ensue.

I'm kind of surprised you two didn't notice the "Autuor's Nose" thing. I've been doing that for at least the past four chapters. XD

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Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:34 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
You totally have been, and I didn't even notice D: My grammar nazi senses have failed me for the first time *shame*


Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:43 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Heehee. :3 One time I even made it a link to a dramatic reading of the hilariously bad fanfiction the phrase came from.

The beginning explains, with an autuor's nose, how uncycyclopedia (which is online encyclopidia like wikiped) said author was writing story called Quarter Life: Halfway to Destruction, and doesn't know where come. But he decide to write anyway.

... It hurts to write like that. But now you know!

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Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:58 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
I did not notice it.... Good reference joke.

Can't wait for the next part!

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Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
that was a cute shorty. Liked it! :D

Also, DON'T YOU DARE TO BRING OURS FAVORITE GI DOGGIES IN BODYBAGS, YOU! :twisted:

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:27 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Good news, everyone~! I have the last couple of chapters planned out. Chapter 7 is almost half done (wrote about 1000 words of it today =3 ) and I should be able to get it out by, say, Monday.

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Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:09 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Dude! Awesome! I am waiting for that! What a way to perk up my monday...

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Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:45 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Making deadlines feels good. 'Nuff said. :3

----------

Chapter 7: No More Running

“We are almost arrived.” Zara pointed through the windshield of the truck. Ahead there sat a small collection of brick buildings, looking like dusty smudges on the horizon. The cracked street went right through the middle of the small village.

Bailey squinted at their destination with a skeptical eye. “Looks pretty deserted to me.”

Zara shrugged, not taking her eyes off the road. “They have heard us coming and hid.”

Bailey crossed her arms and leaned back in the seat, staring off into the distance with narrowed eyes. They traveled for the next few minutes in near silence, until Duke stopped the truck just outside the village square and pulled the key out of the ignition.

“Well?” Bailey finally asked, shattering the oppressive silence. “No welcome wagon?” She looked at Zara with narrowed eyes once again. “Thought you said that we could find help here.”

Zara nodded absently, still looking with a watchful eye out at the buildings.

There they stayed for the next few minutes. The truck was the lone occupant of the sand-swept village square. The sound of the wind whispering over the paved surface may as well have been the only sound in the world.

Finally, just as Bailey was about to lose what little patience she had left, a trio of jackals stepped out of the shadowed doorway of a broken-down building almost directly across the square from them. The largest of the three was in the lead, marching forward with purposeful strides while the other two trailed behind, apparently attempting to look in every direction at once.

Zara nodded calmly. This was what she had expected, no doubt. “I will be going to meet with them. It would be for best if you all were to wait here.”

“Hold up.” As Zara was moving to open the door, she felt a paw clamp down on her shoulder. Bailey's, naturally. “I want to come with you,” the Boxer demanded.

“That will not be being necessary,” Zara responded in a calm, yet vaguely strained tone. She shook Bailey's paw off her shoulder and moved back to the door. “But I thank you for your offer of the help.”

“That wasn't what I meant,” Bailey said, grabbing Zara's shoulder again. “I wanted to go out there with you to make sure there's no funny business goin' on.” Duke sighed, rubbing one paw against his temple. Not this again.

“I assure you, I have no idea of what you are talking,” Zara snapped. She dislodged Bailey's paw from her shoulder, more forcefully this time.

“Then maybe I should try and put it in a way that could let 'understand what I'm talking',” Bailey said through gritted teeth. “How do I – WE – know that you aren't just going out there to, I don't know, call up more of your friends and tie us up again, or string us up and leave us to die, or hand us off to some other idiot with a gun, or- “

Finally, Duke cut in. “Bailey, you're being completely irrational,” he snapped.

Bailey turned to face the Shepherd with a low growl. “Oh, I'm being irrational, when you're the one - “

“Quiet, NOW. That's an order.” Reluctantly, Bailey snapped her mouth shut. With a string of dark, mumbled curses, she leaned back in the seat and turned her smoldering glare to the horizon. “Bailey,” Duke continued in a softer tone. “Zara has done nothing but help us since we met her. You have absolutely no basis for your accusations. Do you understand?” No response. Duke rolled his eyes. “And here I thought you could go on being professional about this.” To Zara now; “Go on ahead, we'll be waiting here.”

Zara nodded sharply, and finally opened the door and stepped out into the sun-scorched square.

----------

Fire. Oppressive heat. Scorching, choking, smoke. Alarms splitting the air. And pain, pain was everywhere.

Sergeant Jim Anselmo tried to get back to his feet, and the truth ofthat last fact was instantly hammered into him. It would have been difficult for him to find an inch of his body that wasn't sore, bruised or bleeding. The alarms continued, the smoke burned his eyes. Peering through the thick, blackened air, Anselmo did his best to take stock of the situation.

Well, to begin, with, he was leaning on a surface he'd been walking on just minutes ago. When the chopper had crashed to its final resting place, the walls had become the new ceiling and floor. In the back, a few of the soldiers were beginning to stir. The sergeant took a breath to call out to one of the nearest awakening men... and doubled over in a violent coughing fit. It felt like his lungs were on fire. “Crichton,” he managed to gasp. The corporal turned to Anselmo with a disoriented look in his eyes. And rightly so – the man was still strapped into his seat on the chopper's new right wall. Jim stumbled over and unbuckled him, barely preventing the heavyset man from crashing to the floor.

“Crichton, you with me?” Anselmo called. The man on the floor nodded, the confused look beginning to fade from his eyes. “Good. Start getting people off this wreck.” Corporal Crichton stumbled to his feet, aided by Sergeant Anselmo. “Good, good. Now don't pass out on me, got it?”

The corporal managed a weak, rasping laugh. “Got it, sergeant.” With that, he hurried again to the back of the helicopter. Anselmo went with him, pulling a fire extinguisher off what had been the wall on the way. While Crichton was forcing open the nearest escape hatch, Anselmo found the source of the oppressing smoke; a small fire in the very back of the cabin. A few powerful bursts of the extinguisher choked out that particular issue. Once he saw that Crichton had managed to knock open the hatch and was evacuating the first of his comrades, Anselmo moved back up to the cockpit, dodging past wires and piping that had been knocked loose in the crash.

If anything, the cockpit was more of a wreck than the cabin. Shattered glass littered the ground, the controls seemed half crushed. Even the reinforcing bars were warped and twisted. The pilot hung limp, still strapped into his newly vertical seat. A quick check confirmed the man was alive... barely.

Anselmo grabbed just one thing before he pulled the pilot out of his seat and back into the cabin ; the radio unit. Back in the cabin, Corporal Crichton had managed to evacuate almost half the occupants of the ruined chopper. After they'd sent the pilot through, Anselmo pressed the radio unit into the corporal's hands. “I'll take it from here. I need you to call in for backup.”

“Of course, Sergeant.” But just as the corporal was about to go carry out his orders, Anselmo grabbed his shoulder. “Backup, not extraction. One chopper to bring the injured back to base, another to bring us to our objective. Got that?”

Crichton hesitated. “Sergeant, this mission is shot to hell. If we wait - “

“If we wait, it's going to be too late,” Anselmo hissed. “Now go make the call.”

----------

Zara marched across the sandy courtyard with long, purposeful strides, keeping her shoulders back and her head held high. In other words, she was the very image of confidence. However, appearances can be deceiving. Zara wasn't confident. In fact, anxiety was worming its way through her.

Something had gone wrong.

These weren't the jackals she'd expected to meet.

Ahead, the largest of the three jackals stepped forward over the sandy pavement to meet her. He walked with a slight limp, but was hardly in poor health. Lean, tall, and muscular, he stood at least a few inches above Zara. Through his fur, a few long, knotted scars were visible. Zara noted one down the side of his bad leg with sudden alarm. She's met this jackal before. It hadn't been a friendly greeting.

“Hello, Hazid,” Zara said stiffly in her native tongue, offering him an almost imperceptible bow.

“Ah, Zara, was it?” answered Hazid with a thin smile. “Fancy seeing you here. It's been far too long.”

“I don't mean to offend, Hazid,” Zara continued slowly, ignoring his comment. “But you were hardly the one I expected to see here. Or wanted to, for that matter.”

“Zara. You wound me.” The strained grin didn't falter.

“I'm not in the mood for joking, Hazid,” she growled. “Where are the others? I was supposed to meet them here.” The two jackals behind Hazid shifted uncomfortably. Zara turned to them next. “I don't suppose one of you could tell me.”

The two looked pleadingly at Hazid. He offered them only a cold glare and a small shake of his head in response. They looked to Zara. Bared teeth and menacing stare. Once the pair determined that willing themselves to sink into the ground was a poor excuse for a plan, they settled for cowering behind their superior.

“Nobody hurt them, Zara,” Hazid said in a diplomatic tone. “At least... not more than was necesary.”

Zara let out a low growl. “I don't suppose you'd mind telling we what's going on here, Hazid?”

“Not at all, my good friend. Not at all.” Hazid gestured to one of his lackeys, who scurried back into the shadows of the doorway they'd emerged from. “See, you and your cohorts were planning on helping these four dogs - well, two as far as I can see – escape back to their human masters. Well, as it happens, the lord Rasshim is offering a fairly substantial reward for their return. I honestly can't fathom why he thinks they're worth quite that much, but I'm not in a mood to question it.”

Zara glared at Hazid through narrowed eyes. “So, you're planning on selling those two to that man?”

“Zara, Zara, hear me out.” Hazid accepted something from the jackal that had returned from the house. His free hand was extended in a placating gesture. “This isn't some act of cruelty for my own personal gain. My pack needs what Rasshim is offering. If a couple of dogs have to be thrown at his mercy for that to happen, well... I don't like it, but can live with it.”

Zara was almost quivering with rage. Anger at Hazid, anger at Rasshim... anger at the fact that, deep down, she though Hazid might be right. As much as she may have grown to like Duke and Bailey, they were just two dogs. Shouldn't the good of her own species come first?

She was already teetering on the edge, but Hazid wasn't going to give her a chance to back out. It was at that moment that Hazid revealed just what his lackey had given him. In the blink of an eye, Zara found herself being held at gunpoint.

“I'm giving you a choice, Zara,” he whispered. “If you agree to help me in this, I'll give you a fair cut of the reward. Decline, and I will gun you down right now and go get the dogs anyway. Make the right choice.”

Zara was silent for a few agonizing seconds. “Will they be hurt?” she whispered back.

Hazid let out a heavy sigh. “Zara, I'm not going to hurt them, but after... you know I can't promise that. Rasshim wanted them alive, if it's any consolation.”

Silence. Then, finally, Zara leveled her eyes with Hazid. “Fine,” she sighed, defeated. “I'll help.”

Hazid nodded approvingly. “You're making the right choice, Zara. Now come one, let's get this over with.”

----------

AUTUOR'S NOSE: Dun dun DUNNNNN!!!

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Last edited by Coatl_Ruu on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:05 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Great update as always! I am always amazed at your action sequences.

This is getting good. I hope Zara saves them in the end.

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Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:29 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Yay, finally an update!
Zara's got it tough, but like copper, I do hope that she'll come through in the end.
And Bailey has all the reason to be suspicious; this is enemy territory, after all. :P

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Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:49 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Yes, finally an update. I'm probably not going to be able to get another one in next week, though. Because band camp. Guess you'll all just have to wait a little while longer. =P

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Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:32 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
your first fic was cute, second was interesting, and Dogs of War is awesome. I love your action sequences.

also, you seem to like the phrase "grim satisfaction" a lot.

and now, my comments on chapter 7:
Coatl_Ruu wrote:
“Bailey, you're being incompletely irrational,” he snapped.

I think you mean completely irrational.

DON'T DO IT, ZARA! OR AT LEAST LET DUKE AND BAILEY KNOW THAT YOU'RE BEING FORCED!!! D:

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Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:03 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
RandomGeekNamedBrent wrote:
your first fic was cute, second was interesting, and Dogs of War is awesome. I love your action sequences.

Thanks!
RandomGeekNamedBrent wrote:
also, you seem to like the phrase "grim satisfaction" a lot.

Quote:
nodding in grim satisfaction

Quote:
Duke looked at his handiwork with a grim sense of satisfaction.

Quote:
grim satisfaction

Why, whatever would make you think that? XD
I do seem to overuse some of those phrases, though. That's something I should work on ...
RandomGeekNamedBrent wrote:
I think you mean completely irrational.

FFF- Right, I think I'll go fix that.

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Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:37 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Alright, good news/bad news. Good news: I've only got one chapter left. Bad news: I've only written a paragraph do far. And school starts soon. I can't go this far and then just not finish, so... bear with me, I guess.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
we'll be waiting with bated breath.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:42 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Don't. You might asphyxiate. =P

I will be working on the last chapter tonight, but no guarantees on when I'll get it out. Summer reading work needs to come first. Especially because I already put it off for three months. x3

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:57 am
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Alright, work continues on Chapter 8, currently entitled "Endgame". Albeit slowly. Fear not, I'll get it done. But by the time I'm finished, this is probably going to be the longest chapter so far.

Anyway, that's my little status update. Feel free to resume not caring ... now. =P

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
... I won't stop caring. 8-)

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
I care. and that "longest chapter" part scares me.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Wow. Chapter 8 is at around 4,000 words, and I'm not even 2/3 of the way done yet. So, I'm going to end up splitting the chapter into at least two parts, plus an epilogue.

The first part comes ... now. First update since August, initializing. Preparing to resume normal update schedule.

Formatting italics ...

Activating on-board grammar Nazi subroutine ...

Reticulating splines ...


And with that, I am back in business. ^_^

----------

Chapter 8 - Endgame - Part 1

Duke and Bailey kept a silent, tense watch over the four jackals from across the square. Duke was leaning idly against the truck, the hot metal warming him from behind while the sunlight from above soaked into his fur. Panting in a vain attempt to keep cool, the Shepherd watched Zara and her companions through eyes narrowed against the harsh light. The group was competing with the heat of the afternoon sun for his attention, and so far, he would have said the sun was winning out.

Bailey, however, had focused all her energy on observing the jackal pack across the square. She stood frozen in her spot, arms crossed over her chest, ears flat against her skull, not wasting any time on things like panting. It was almost like the heat was of no concern to her.

Finally, Duke pushed himself up and off the fender of the truck and, stretching his back, stepped slowly over to where Bailey was keeping her silent vigil. “So,” he asked lightly. “Has anything interesting happened so far?” Bailey made a small, irritated noise, flicked an ear, and proceeded to ignore him.

With a low growl, Duke opened his mouth and prepared to ask Bailey, amongst other things, why she hadn't answered the question, where she got the idea that that degree of disrespect for a superior was tolerable, and …

… he never got the chance. Bailey nudged him in the side, and, one finger extended and trained on the four jackals, said, “Something's not right here.” He eyes narrowed yet again. Duke expected, at that moment, at least one of the jackals felt a strange force bristling the fur on the back of his neck.

“What do you mean by that?” Duke asked quietly.

“I dunno,” Bailey murmured. “They're just... acting strangely, I guess.” She cast a sidelong glance at Duke, one eyebrow raised in an almost imperceptible accusation. “Makes you wonder what our good friend Zara is doing over there. Frankly, I think we should be on our guard.”

“I still think you're overreacting just a little. It's nothing,” Duke whispered back. But uncertainty seemed to have crept into his mind. He started to continue but his voice faltered. Zara saved them. Zara brought them here because she and her companions still wanted to help them. Zara wouldn't want to hurt them.

Zara wouldn't turn on him.

… Right?

“Well, 'Corporal Walters', look alive,” Bailey hissed in his ear. Duke started, immediately looking to the Boxer at his left. Bailey rolled her eyes and pointed off across the square. “In case you hadn't noticed, they're coming back.”

Duke blinked in surprise, turning away from his muddled thoughts to see the four jackals coming back across the square at a quick, clipped pace. Zara was at the head of the group, with the larger of the three other jackals almost directly behind her. The two others brought up the rear.

While Duke watched the jackals slowly close the distance between them, he was vaguely aware of Bailey opening the door to the truck, rummaging around for a moment, and slamming it shut before she took her place at his side again, hands clasped behind her back. It wasn't this that concerned him, though. There was something in the eyes of each of the four jackals that was vaguely unsettling. Something didn't seem quite right …

No. Duke mentally cursed himself for his doubt. Zara said she was going to help them. Why would she lie to him? He was just … tired. On edge. Seeing things that weren't there. That must be it.

“Zara!” he called. The female jackal nodded absently, giving him half-hearted wave. Duke's resolve wavered. “Zara, is everything alright? What's the plan?” At his side, Bailey let out a low growl. Duke elbowed her in the ribs.

Zara stayed silent as she walked up to Duke and Bailey, only making eye contact with them for fleeting moments before casting her gaze back to the ground. Finally, stopping just a few feet away form the pair, she took a deep breath. Seeming to steel herself, she clenched her fists, glared back at the other three jackals, and finally looked directly at the pair. “I... I'm sorry it has to be this way,” she said softly. “I truly am.” With that, her companions each drew a pistol from a holster hidden behind their backs. Bailey and Duke suddenly found themselves staring down the barrels of three separate weapons.

Duke reeled back, staring with confusion and growing horror at the scene in front of him. Zara's words had hit him like a punch in the face. “Wh... what?” he mumbled, looking with widened eyes from Zara to the jackals and back again, trying to make sense of what was happening.

Bailey had a rather different reaction. With a snarl, she revealed what it was she'd gone back to the truck for; the handgun she'd acquired just under an hour before. “You... you lying, backstabbing fleabitten mutt!” she roared, spitting out each word with greater force and vitriol than the last. Without an instant of hesitation, she had the barrel of the pistol aimed right between Zara's eyes. Her breath came in ragged gasps, her paw was clenched down so tightly on the pistol's grip that her arm began to quiver.

“I knew it,” Bailey spat, glaring coldly into Zara's downcast eyes. She shifted her aim erratically from one jackal to the next. A tense sort of standoff began to develop, neither side wanting to be the one that made the next move. The two jackals in the back flinched involuntarily each time the weapon came their way, but the one in the lead stood fast, casting a cold look right into Bailey's eyes. “Zara,” he hissed.

The female jackal looked back at him, her ears lying flat against her head. The leader only nodded sharply, tightening his grip on his weapon. Nodding slowly in return, Zara took in a deep breath and looked up to Bailey. And moved. Like a viper, she lunged out, clamping down on Bailey's wrist and knocking her gun-hand off to the side. With a snarl of rage, the Boxer pulled the trigger, sending a shot wildly off into the sky. Zara sidestepped behind her, twisting the gun arm behind the dog's back and putting her own arm around Bailey's neck. An instant later, the Boxer froze, abruptly ceasing her struggles.

Pressed tight against her flesh was the blade of the knife that had cut her free not a half a day earlier.

“Bailey,” Zara whispered. “Give me the gun and go quiet. No one has to be hurt.” Though Bailey was entirely at her mercy, Zara almost seemed to be pleading with her. Bailey whipped her head back and forth, slowly taking in the utter hopelessness of her situation. The other three jackals waited patiently, their weapons still trained on her.

Duke stood frozen off to one side, still looking on with that vacant stare, almost like a sleepwalker.

Finally, with a defeated sigh, Bailey clicked on the safety and dropped her weapon into the dust. It landed on the cobblestones with a dull clatter, and was almost immediately picked up by Zara. With that last barrier removed, the other three jackals holstered their pistols and moved in, tying the dogs' paws behind their backs with a practiced efficiency. Duke let the two subordinates grab him roughly by the arms, barely noticing the frayed bonds digging into his fur and the skin below. He walked along in a daze, letting himself be led across the square.

Bailey was not so cooperative. She spat and cursed throughout the process, squirming against the ropes binding her arms. “You'll pay for this in blood,” she hissed under her breath, a mad glint in her eye. “All of you.” For a moment she fell perfectly still. Then, with a suddenness that nearly made Hazid lose his grip, she thrashed widely, whipping her head back to stare Zara directly in the eyes. “Especially you.”

With a snarl, Hazid reasserted his control, roughly shoving the Boxer forward. The dog stumbled, then trudged on reluctantly, her eyes smoldering dangerously. Sighing heavily, Zara continued on, gesturing halfheartedly with Bailey's pistol in the dogs' direction. “That is better, Bailey,” she murmured. “Much better.”

The group trudged on in sullen silence, coming soon into the cool shadows of the broken-down building on the other side of the square. Hazid looked silently to the sky, where the sun was sinking sluggishly towards the horizon, painting the clouds above with deep reds and oranges. All around, shadows began to grow imperceptibly longer, inky fingers reaching out across the empty square.

The large jackal shoved Bailey again, quickening his pace. His lackeys mirrored his haste, dragging the sullen, unprotesting Duke along. The Shepherd trudged limply along with his eyes cast to the ground, seemingly oblivious to the jackals' rough handling.

Zara watched from the corner of her eye as Hazid nervously glanced skyward again. She didn't need to ask what it was that bothered him. His body language said it all. They were running out of time. With a shiver, Zara followed the others into the eerie half-light of the building.

----------

Duke sat hunched over in the dingy corner of the room, his eyes cast down at the dusty floorboards. The initial turmoil and confusion he'd felt just minutes ago was beginning the fade, replaced by a sort of numb acceptance. Zara had betrayed him. That was all there was to it. She'd helped them along the way, but it had all been a ruse. A lie. The quiet, helpful jackal he thought he'd come to know had been nothing more than a mask, to be discarded at the wearer's convenience.

And he'd fallen for it.

A few feet away, Bailey still struggled against the ropes that restrained her. Once the jackals had brought her into their dark, rundown hideout they had quickly realized that simply tying the enraged Boxer's wrists wouldn't be nearly enough to keep her down. Two of them had fought to pin her to the ground; each struggled to keep the writhing dog down as she kicked, bit, and screamed curses at the lot of them.

Now, Bailey sat in a dark, brooding silence that was enforced by the improvised gag the biggest jackal had tied onto her at the last minute. Her eyes followed that one around the shadowy room with a deadly glare. Duke had seen some of the new animal program handlers shrivel under the force of that glare. It gave him a small measure of satisfaction that none of the jackals dared to meet her gaze. Especially Zara.

Duke let out gloomy sigh. Just when he'd thought they might be home free... where had it all gone wrong?

----------

AUTUHOR'S NOSE: This is less than half of what I have written so far. Holy carp, this'll be a long one.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
YAY! it's back. I can't wait to see how they get out of this one. and how they find out that Zara didn't plan this from the beginning.

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:58 pm
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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
An update! Wonderful! I like this story. It is very character centered.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Thanks! It's good to hear that I've made this fic more than just action sequences. I'll have another update ready within the next couple of days ... and I'll be working on a little something extra to go along with the epilogue.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
What's this? Another timely update!? Inconceivable!

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Chapter 8 - Endgame - Part 2


Zara stood apart form Hazid and his two flunkies, watching them fiddle urgently with the contents of a backpack that had been stowed in a musty storage closet in the back of the room. One of the smaller jackals, who Zara could easily have labeled as mute if it weren't for his colorful repertoire of curse words, was slowly turning a series of small dials. He would twitch his ears occasionally throughout the process and listen intently to the low, garbled pops and buzzes that came from another part of the unit. The whole thing was reminiscent of a musician tuning his instrument, making infinitesimally tiny adjustments to its workings until it played exactly as it was supposed to.

In a sudden realization that left her feeling a bit foolish, Zara saw that tuning was exactly what that jackal was doing. That was an old, battered radio unit sitting on the cracked floorboards.

The jackal ran his fingers through his dusty, matted headfur and tweaked yet another dial for good measure. Finally, he got back to his feet and sidled over to Hazid, who was keeping watch over the two prisoners.

As Zara watched the jackal speaking in a hushed whisper to the imperious Hazid, her gaze began to shift, unbidden, until finally Duke and Bailey were squarely within her field of vision. She felt her heart sink still deeper into the pit of her stomach. Bailey's seething glare made her cringe visibly. Looking for some sort of consolation, anyone who saw her as anything but a pawn or a demon, she turned her gaze to Duke. Their eyes met only once.

Zara saw the all the emotions of Sergeant Duke Walters swirling in a muddled mess deep in his eyes. Confusion. Hopelessness. Frustration. But there was one that was directed at her and her alone, and it was this that cut the deepest: disappointment. Zara broke off her gaze in a rush, stumbling vaguely toward the other corner. She felt sick to her stomach. Until this moment, she had no idea it was possible to be this completely and utterly miserable.

She hadn't wanted to help these kidnappers, blood traitors... most likely murderers, as well. She was being forced at gunpoint to deliver her friends to their executioner. There was nothing she could do. She was just a helpless pawn in this scheme. Hot, angry tears welled up at the corners of her eyes. Zara was shaking her head, trying to blink them away, when Hazid came up from behind and put his paw down on her shoulder.

“Zara,” the hulking jackal hissed under his breath. The sound of her name was like a thunderclap in Zara's ears. An electric jolt shot down her spine and she spun around on her heel. Her ears lay flat against her head, and her heart beat out a rapid staccato against her chest.

“Don't... do that,” Zara hissed back as she regained her composure, smoothing down her bristling fur. “What is it?”

“We made radio contact. Rasshim and his men will be on the outskirts of the town within fifteen minutes. That is where the hand-off will take place. Is this understood?” Hazid looked intently into Zara's eyes. It was patently obvious what the answer to the question was supposed to be. Zara looked back with her eyes narrowed to slits.

Suddenly, Zara realized that there was a third option for her to take. One in which she would ideally escape with Duke and Bailey, and without bullet holes.

She was still carrying Bailey's gun. Hazid had never bothered to take it, and she had simply forgotten to let go of it. Was there still any ammunition left? Ideally, she wouldn't have to find out.

Ideally. But such was the nature of option three. Zara had a gun. And she aimed to make that known.

“Yes, Hazid,” she said quietly. “That is understood.” Zara took in a shallow breath, looking around the room one last time. Three hostiles, two hostages.

Zara exhaled. And moved. In a rapid strike, she smacked Hazid's paw off her shoulder, sending the jackal stumbling off to one side. With a low snarl, Zara lunged forward, clamping one paw in a vice-like grip around Hazid's throat. The other brought the pistol to bear. Hazid quickly became aware of the cold barrel pressed against his temple.

The whole maneuver took less than a second. For a period of time not much longer than that, the world seemed to freeze in a silent tableau. Hazid stood frozen, his eyes widened in shock, not daring to move. Zara loomed above him like an avenging angel, looking down with an expression of righteous fury. The other four, the two dogs and the two jackals, looked on in surprise and confusion.

Time slowed. Time stopped. And time began to move again. Hazid's ears twitched, lying flat against his skull. “Zara,” the jackal said in a quavering whisper. His commanding aura had evaporated. The other jackal had control now, and he knew it. “What... what are you-?”

“Shut up, Hazid,” Zara spat. “I don't want to hear it. Just hand me your gun and tell those two to untie the dogs.”

“But Zara!” Hazid hissed insistently, trying to make himself hear through his constricted windpipe. “Out pack needs-”

Zara gave the larger male an icy glare. “Our pack has always gotten on just fine without dealing with delusional war mongers. We'll manage. Now shut up, hand over your gun, and tell your flunkies to untie my friends.”

Hazid let out a wheezing laugh. “Your friends? Adorable. Don't you realize by now that we're only mangy 'ferals' to humans and their pets? Don't you-” Hazid's tirade ended in a choked yelp as Zara clenched down even tighter on his throat.

“Gun. Now.” Frantically, Hazid fumbled for his sidearm, dropping it at Zara's feet after a few heart-stopping moments. Obligingly, she let up her grip enough for the other jackal to breath. Hazid drew in a lungful of air in a rattling gasp, like a half-drowned rat. “Good. Now tell them to untie the dogs.”

“Do it,” Hazid snapped almost instantly. His widened eyes never left Zara as the other two rushed to free Duke and Bailey. Zara looked down at the disgraced, defeated jackal with a wide grin. “You're making the right choice, Hazid. The same one you gave me, incidentally.” She nudged him again with the gun's barrel. “Also, thank you for giving me an ETA for Rasshim and company. I imagine that will be very useful for us in the next few minutes.”

Most likely because minutes was all they had. Zara could still save Duke and Bailey, make up for what she had done. But they were going to have to do it fast …

----------

Bailey lay on the dusty floor of the room, stewing in pent-up rage. She was almost entirely immobile; even the slightest twitch was a painful reminder of the ropes binding her arms and legs. The gag stuffed in her mouth was the only thing stopping her from letting out an enraged tirade against her captors. Bailey lifted her head ever so slightly, ignoring the dull strain on her neck. She wanted to see the four jackals from a better angle.

With her eyes narrowed to hate-filled slits, Bailey cast her withering glare from one jackal to the next, lingering on the lone female. Zara. The traitor. Bailey felt a burning desire to tear all of them limb from limb, but the bulk of her violent fantasies were directed against the tan-furred canine standing uncomfortably in the corner. She looked like a small, nervous mouse, trying desperately to escape the piercing eye of a hawk circling above.

A low, rumbling growl escaped Bailey's throat, and once again she strained against the ropes holding her captive. It was to no avail; the rope bonds may as well have been iron shackles. With a defeated growl, she let her head slump back to the floor, feeling as though it were no more than dead weight attached to her shoulders.

Bailey watched the scene unfold with frustration and vague disinterest. The taller male jackal took Zara aside, muttering something to her that Bailey couldn't understand. Probably Arabic, she thought. The two shorter jackals, busying themselves with what looked like radio equipment, took little notice of the exchange.

Zara and the larger jackal fell silent. For a moment, Bailey thought she could almost sense an aura of hostility building around the pair. Even with that inkling, what came next shocked even her. Bailey watched with eyes widened surprise as Zara leaped at Hazid like a predator moving in for the death blow. In a split second, the female jackal had the larger male completely at her mercy.

Everyone and everything froze in place. Bailey's breath caught in her throat; it was almost as though the slightest sound would shatter the temporary silence and send the world around them into chaos.

The tense, clipped conversation picked up again. Bailey was still clueless as to the meaning of the words, but the tone the two jackals spoke in gave her more than enough to go on. Though her expression remained cold and hard, inside a tiny spark of hope ignited, still half-hidden by rage. A sense of cautious optimism began to replace frustration.

Finally, Hazid dropped his weapon at Zara's feet, gasping painfully for air. Bailey allowed herself a tight, leering grin at that. It warmed her heart to see that son of a charming young woman get what was coming to him. Suddenly, Bailey froze, feeling a paw brush against her leg. A quick glance confirmed that it belonged to one of the big jackal's mangy goons. Gloating was going to have to wait. This might be the only chance she had. The scrawny canine worked to loosen her bonds with feverish speed, casting an occasional fearful glance at the imperious Zara, still standing over Hazid with a gun in her hand.

Finally, the last rope dropped away, letting the gag fall aside. The jackal cringed in fear and started to back away as Bailey stirred, casting a cold glare directly into his eyes. Too slow. With a low snarl, Bailey lashed out with a sharp kick. It connected with the side of the jackal's head, sending him sprawling on the ground with a thud. An instant later, Bailey had scrambled to her feet and was standing in a low crouch, looking ready to spring with the slightest provocation.

That provocation came in the form of the second of the jackal pair. Bailey turned in time to see him swing a section of pipe at her in a clumsy arc. The Boxer ducked under the blow with ease and watched as the jackal fell suddenly off balance, stumbling awkwardly toward her. A swift kick to the stomach neutralized that particular threat.

And there they were. In the space of under a minute, the tables had been turned. Zara only gave Bailey a curt nod, gesturing at the rope left behind on the ground. “I might need some helping to tie him up,” she said curtly.

Bailey gave a quick nod in response, her rage temporarily forgotten. They could talk all they wanted later. Now was the time for action.

As she collected the ropes that had comprised her restraints just moment ago, Bailey caught a glimpse of Duke out of the corner of her eyes. The Shepherd had gotten to his feet and was standing in place, looking unsure of what to do next. Bailey shook her head slowly and picked up rope, neatly coiling the fraying lengths as she walked back to Zara, stepping over an unconscious jackal on the way.

She could deal with her emotionally compromised CO in a minute. For the moment, she would be content to cause the jackal cringing at Zara's feet as much discomfort as possible. The tall, arrogant canine looked strangely small and defeated with a firearm pressed against his temple. With a malicious, leering grin, Bailey stepped towards Hazid and Zara, pulling the ropes taught. “Now, just hold still,” Bailey sing-songed, not caring that Hazid probably couldn't understand her, “And trust me … you'll feel this one in the morning.”

----------

AUTUHOR'S NOSE: And so it continues ... >:3

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
good job, Zara. I knew you wouldn't go through wit this.

good use of PoV switching. and son of a charming young woman. I like that you used it.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Very nice update! Wish Duke would do something though! Just kind of standing there...

Well, Bailey, Zara..... we just need one more for Charlie's Angels! Or is that filled by duke? I am confused now...

Can't wait for the next part. This is a great story!

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Thanks! (though I only sort of get the Charlie's Angels reference =P). Don't worry, Duke will start pulling his weight again soon enough ...
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good use of PoV switching. and son of a charming young woman. I like that you used it.

I couldn't not use 'son of a charming young woman' there. It was the perfect opportunity to shoehorn in a reference to the comic fit perfectly. I never really had an issue with switching the point of view. I guess it helps to make it clear right after the page break whose view I'm writing from.

This is going to be a busy weekend for me, but I'll try to get some kind of update out by Sunday.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
Alright. So here's the deal. November is NaNoWriMo month. Which means that I'm not going to have any time whatsoever to write this fanfic. So, with that in mind, The Dogs of War will be on hiatus until NaNoWriMo is over. And with that in mind, here's a little snippet I had prepared. This is the end of Chapter 9. And the beginning of the end. I do hope you enjoy... even though it's absolutely tiny. =P

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Chapter 9 - Part 3

Duke stood in a daze. The events of the few tense minutes that had just gone by seemed to him a muddled blur. Everything ran together, turning the distinct events into a confusing, shifting maze of disjointed actions and reactions. But through that awful haze, there was one constant: Zara. Even as one of the larger jackal's lackey's began to cut away his bonds, that was all he saw. Duke felt like he could have jumped up and cheered. She wasn't a traitor after all...

Slowly, Duke's normal perceptions began to reassert themselves. Time slowed back to its normal pace, and Duke slowly began to take stock of his surroundings. The dusty floorboards and crumbling walls, the two unconscious jackals lying in a crumpled heap on the floor – he took all of it in in an instant. Finally, the garbled mess of confusion he'd felt clouding his mind since the moment the ropes were wrapped around his wrists again began to dissipate. In its place came a sense of hardened resolve. The tables had turned yet again, this time in his favor. It was time to make the most of it.

“I don't suppose you two need any help,” Duke said in a light, clipped tone as he stepped over to Bailey and Zara.

“Well, if it ain't Sargent Walters, back among the living,” Bailey grunted as she pulled an intricate knot around Hazid's ankles tight. She didn't bother to look up until the bond was firmly secured. “No, we've got everything under control here.” She gestured vaguely at Zara, who was standing a few feet away with her pistol aimed squarely at Hazid's head. The sight brought a Duke a twisted sense of satisfaction – it proved that Zara hadn't really turned on them. Unless this was all just another turn in some convoluted scheme … but Duke brushed away that thought. For now, he was content to simply believe his eyes.

For a brief moment, Zara's gaze shifted. Her eyes met Duke's for an instant. The Shepherd froze in place, then nodded almost imperceptibly. Zara bowed her head gracefully and turned back to the bound Hazid.

In that instant, a whole conversation seemed to have passed between them. Zara's stony features had softened; Duke felt the dull weight in his stomach lighten. She hadn't wanted to help them in the first place. But she needn't worry. All was forgiven.

It was Bailey who first moved from her place as an outsider in the silent exchange, and it was Bailey who first broke the peaceful quiet that had been established in the room. With a shake of her head and a tiny growl, she spun on her heels and marched to the open doorway, stopping a few feet away and looking back to address Duke and Zara. “Now,” she barked, the sound echoing in the enclosed space, “I say we get back to the truck and bug out. All in favor?”

Finally, Duke took charge once again. “Bailey, you're right. We're getting the heck outta here. Now.”

With that, Duke spun on his heel, stooping to pick up one of the jackals' discarded pistols as he stormed across the dusty, worn-out wooden floor to the door. For a moment, he stood in the open doorway, framed by the light of the slowly setting sun. “We might not have much time. We need to move.”

The other two canines nodded wordlessly, gathering up what weapons they could as they followed after Duke. The trio stepped out into the courtyard to meet the setting sun, to meet whatever obstacles might them. To meet freedom.

To meet their fates.

----------

I was going to save this doodle for the last installment, but I figured that I might as well share it now. Here's the group shot. From left to right: Bailey, Duke, Zara. I do hope you enjoy it and all its sloppiness.

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Post Re: Coatl Ruu's Fanfiction Repository: The Dogs of War
I love short updates. and I like the picture, but I can't help but view Baily as an effeminate man in that picture. I suppose because she's of a manly breed.

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Post Re: The Dogs of War
Hmm? New chapter due two weeks ago? I don't believe I said anything of the sort. *cough*

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Chapter 10 – Showdown

Duke, Bailey and Zara sprinted across the open courtyard, each footfall kicking dust into the air behind them. The sun was slowly dipping toward the horizon, and the canines' shadows were transformed into long, spindly outlines that danced across the hard-packed dirt. Duke had taken point in the trio's rough triangle formation, with Bailey and Zara bringing up the rear. At the speed the three canines ran, it only took them a few moments to clear the whole of the courtyard and come back to the ramshackle truck they had left parked under the shade of a tattered awning.

Not wanting to waste any time, Duke pulled open the dented passengers side door. The three wordlessly clambered into the cabin of the truck and onto the scuffed-up bench seat. When Duke had taken his place at the wheel and started the engine, they all finally paused, panting, to take stock of their situation.

As far as weapons went, they had only the the handgun Bailey had acquired on the way there, and the pistols they'd taken from Hazid and his associates. Bailey seemed to suddenly notice, with a sort of dull surprise, that she had a loaded weapon in each hand. With a tired grumble, she popped the magazine out the one in her left and tossed the weapon itself off to the side. “Feh. Darn action movies and their useless cussin' gun handling,” she muttered under her breath, talking speaking to no one in particular.

Duke, for his part, was too busy checking the number of rounds in his own pistol to notice. Good. All fifteen. He slid the magazine back in and began speaking. “Right, so we need to get away from here as fast as possible. I don't think there's a whole lot of gas left in this rust-bucket's tank, so there's always a chance – a good one, much as I hate to admit it – that they'll catch up to us. If that happens, well... I don't intend to go easily.” Duke racked the slide of his sidearm for emphasis, chambering a round with a loud click.

“You're cussin' right we won't,” Bailey growled. Her finger hovered over the trigger of her own weapon; she almost quivering with anticipation. Slowly, the Boxer looked down and forced herself to release her death grip on the weapon.

“If it is coming down to that, we will be killed,” Zara said flatly as she checked the rounds in Hazid's revolver. “Without doubt.” She snapped the cylinder back into place with a click. At that moment, all three canines froze in place, each one straining to hear a noise in the distance.

The deep, rumbling sound of an engine – several engines – was approaching with alarming speed. Duke and company tensed up, taking a white-knuckled grip on whatever their paws lay on. Duke was suddenly gripping the wheel like his life depended on it, which in all likelihood, it did; Bailey's grip on her pistol had returned, locking the weapon in her paw; Zara's claws had sunk into the plastic covering of the door as she braced herself for what was to come.

“Duke,” Bailey snapped, “drive. Now.”

The Shepherd didn't have to be told twice. He shifted into 'drive' and slammed on the gas, sending the truck surging forward. The tires spun and chewed into dirt and rocks into the air behind them before finally catching a grip on the ground. Midway through the courtyard, Duke suddenly spun the wheel to his left, hard. The back of the truck skidded out of control as Duke did his best to pull a passable U-turn.

The truck came to rest pointed right back at the road out of town. With his heart pounding, Duke glanced to his right. Bailey had been tossed up against Zara, and the two of them were sprawled against the passenger's side door, looking a bit dazed. “Get ready,” Duke said. His two companions scrambled to untangle themselves and get back on the seat.

Time to roll! Duke straightened out the wheel, then pressed down on the accelerator once again. The truck rolled forward, this time without skidding.

They were on the move. The plan was working! Until, that was, a house in front of the truck exploded. In a sudden panic, Duke slammed on the brakes and swerved to the right, bringing the truck to yet another skidding halt. When the dust cleared, it revealed a gaping hole in the wall of the run-down house before them.

“That was an RPG,” Bailey said in a carefully controlled tone as she did her best to get out from under Zara.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Duke growled. The sound of engines was growing louder, audible even over the racket their own truck's ailing motor was creating. Looking in the rear-view mirror, he could see about half a dozen of Rasshim's men stepping out of the shadows, all of them clad in baggy, mismatched robes, and sporting black turbans. The setting sun glinted off the barrels of their Kalashnikovs. Duke spotted one man, half hidden behind a dusty brick wall, who seemed to be reloading the RPG-7 launcher that had very nearly turned taken out the truck, and them with it. An icy clenched at the Shepherd's stomach

Evidently, he wasn't the only one who'd noticed. “Floor it!” Bailey and Zara barked in unison, but Duke was way ahead of them. The truck roared off, leaving Rasshim's gunmen in the dust.

As their vehicle roared down the narrow road, a second truck swerved around the corner of a building at the alley's other end. It was fifty feet away and closing fast. Duke slammed on the brakes, but the gap was almost closed.

“Hang on!” Duke roared. Bailey and Zara had less than a second before the two ton tin can they were riding in slammed against the onrushing vehicle. Duke's head shot forward into the steering wheel , and for a briefest instant, the shepherd's vision went black.

----------

A jolt passed through Sergeant Anselmo's Humvee as one of the vehicle's tires rolled over a rock in the ill-maintained road. The bump jounced the man in his seat, like all the others had. No one batted an eye.

Both the sergeant and the other three Marines under his command under his command sat silently, packed in the rear of the Humvee. They were very, very near the enemy, and they could easily be in the middle of combat in minutes Their appearances spoke of their purpose: bulky plate carriers covered in pouches stuffed with grenades, spare magazines, and pretty much anything else a soldier might need, all worn over a set of dusty fatigues. Battered boots, battered helmet. And in each man's lap there sat a gleaming black M4, fully loaded and ready for action.

Though he didn't show it outwardly, Sergeant Anselmo was beginning to worry. He and his men were still a good five minutes away from Rasshim's – and the dogs' – most recent location. The time might as well have been an eternity. Anselmo could see smoke rising on the horizon.

The sergeant's eyes narrowed. Rasshim couldn't escape now. But all the same, he was afraid of what they would find in that village. Or, perhaps worse still, not find.

----------

Zara was the first to recover. Through the black, choking smoke that billowed out of the truck's crumpled front end, she pulled herself back up and grabbed her new revolver off the floor of the cab. As Bailey and Duke began to pick themselves up and scramble for their own weapons, Zara leaned over the battered seat and heaved against the grate separating the bed of the truck from the cabin. After two more pushes, something cracked and the section of scuffed metal swung outwards. Zara pointed urgently out toward the bed of the truck, where the town square was still dimly visible through the choking smoke.

“Come on. We are needing to get out of here.” Zara was doing her best to keep her voice steady, but wasn't entirely successful.

Finally, Bailey climbed back on top of the seat, carrying one of the dogs' sidearms in each paw. “Duke. I got yours. Time to move.” With that climbed up the back of the seat and ducked through the small window in the back of the cab, dropping into the bed of the truck with a thud that was barely audible over the rapidly growing sound of the engine burning. She turned and poked her head back through the gap. “Duke. You alright?” No emotion whatsoever. This wasn't the time for it.

“Yeah,” the Shepherd groaned as he hopped back onto the truck's bench seat. “Just banged my head.” He followed Bailey through the window, though with a bit less grace, and Zara came through after him. Wordlessly, Bailey handed Duke his weapon. He nodded tersely, and the three of them peered out the back of the truck, trying to get a grasp of their situation.

“Alright, here's what we're going to do,” Duke said in a low voice as he leaned in closer to the other two. “We jump out the back, find whoever's got the RPG, then we -”

<”Over here!”>

Duke froze. Two gunmen were jogging over to the back of the truck, their AK rifles trained on the trio. They were exposed.

“Bailey, get ready.”

In the blink of an eye, Bailey had her liberated handgun clasped in both paws, trained on the onrushing attackers. She had a spare magazine clenched between her teeth, curling her lips into a fierce grin. “Bailey, on three,” Duke murmured. Bailey nodded sharply, never taking her eye off the target. The two gunmen had slowed, but by then they were only ten yards away. “Zara, when I say run, we run. Understood?” The jackal nodded almost imperceptibly. “Good. One.”

Bailey's grip on the trigger tightened just a a hair.

“Two.”

“Three.”

The instant the word left Duke's mouth, Bailey plugged off one, two, three, four, five shots in the direction of the two men coming at them. They ducked out of the way, each diving for his own piece of cover.

“Now RUN!” Duke yelled. He, Bailey, and Zara jumped to their feet, dashed over the wooden floor of the truck bed and leaped off the edge, landing on the ground with three separate thuds. Duke was in the lead, with Zara following and Bailey bringing up the rear. The two gunmen were just starting to recover when the three darted past and into the open square.

For a moment, they were greeted by absolute silence. Then an angry shout came from the north end of the town. A sound of gunfire came right on its heels. Bullets zinged into the hard-packed dirt at their feet and sent plumes of dust into the air. The dogs only ran faster.

From behind a low wall, Duke caught a glimpse of a black cowl and the glint of the sun off a long metal tube. There was target number one. The big Shepherd surged forward and covered the distance between them in the space of seconds. The shepherd vaulted over the low wall without breaking his stride and came down squarely on the shoulders of the armed - and very surprised - Afghan man. A swift whack in the temple precluded any attempts at resistance.

Bailey and Zara came to a skidding halt next to their teammate. After only a passing glance at the cloaked man now lying passed out on the ground, Bailey scooped up the few rocket propelled grenades lying at his side. With that, she followed after Duke, who had darted into a run-down house just behind the wall. Zara was right on her heels.

The instant his companions made it into the small room, Duke slammed the door shut and threw his back against it. Yet again, there was silence. The three dogs stood facing one another, each panting heavily and wearily. Bailey was doing her best to reload her beat-up pistol, but she fumbled with the fresh magazine; her paws were shaking.

Duke cocked his ear to one side and listened intently to the sounds from outside. Rasshim's men were slowly drawing nearer. Their muffled shouts gradually grew louder and louder.

“Well,” Zara murmured softly, “now what?”

Duke and Bailey locked eyes for the briefest instant, before slowly turning away. Neither wanted to say what they were thinking: It's been nice knowing you, but I don't like our odds here.

“Bailey, help me hold this door,” Duke said weakly. “Zara, check to see if there's a back exit. We might be able to slip out unnoticed.” It would only be a delaying tactic, but it was better than nothing. Barely.

Zara sidled off into a side hall, and Bailey walked over to help Duke. She came up to just a few inches above the Shepherd's shoulder, but the Boxer was easily his match in muscle mass. Duke remembered, on the first day of their training, a few of the other K-9 recruits had mistaken her for a male. She had made very, very sure that none of them made that mistake again.

Despite everything, Duke giggled under his breath. Against her own will, Bailey looked up at Duke with a lopsided grin. “Walters, wherever you went just now, I wish you would have brought me with you.”

Duke sighed as her stared off into space, his faint smile slowly fading. “Just remembering.”

“I can't say I expected to go like this,” Bailey muttered.

“I've said that same thing about five times in the past day,” Duke said. “And look at us: still kickin' enough to wonder if this time is gonna be it.” The shepherd sighed and turned back to Bailey. “But there's still hope.”

“I suppose there is, Sergeant Walters,” Bailey said. “If nothing else, I hope not to go quietly. I've still got about fifteen rounds left. God willing and something about cows, each one of 'em is getting a new home, nice and cozy inside someone.” But despite her attempt at confidence, the gun still trembled in her paws.

“Bailey, Duke!” Zara called softly down the hall. “Come on! I found a door. It's just down this hall, to the -”

A crash echoed through the small building. A high-pitched scream echoed down the hall, followed by what sounded like a sudden stampede. Zara flew into the room an instant later in a blind panic, with two AK-wielding men right on her heels.

In Duke's mind, time had slowed down. He could take in every detail of the scene: Zara's expression of utter terror, the two gunmen, the dark cowls that obscured all but their eyes and nose, the battered assault rifle each brandished before him.

He could watch as the first of the gunmen slowly raised the barrel of his rifle, aiming it toward the fleeing jackal.

No.

Duke lunged forward, firing shot after shot from his handgun, emptying the magazine before he even made it halfway across the floor. The gunman on the left lurched back against the wall, letting out a sharp cry as two of Duke's shots found their mark. The shepherd turned to face his second opponent, but was just a bit too slow. He found himself staring down the barrel of an AK.

Before the Shepherd had a chance to react, the room exploded with the sound of gunfire. Duke took an involuntary step back and squeezed his eyes shut, sure he would never open them again.

But as the last echoes of gunfire faded quickly away in the confined space, Duke opened one eye just a crack. He saw the second gunman slumped against the back wall, his AK having fallen off to the side. The man had forgotten about Zara, it seemed. The jackal had dropped into a crouch, still keeping the smoking barrel of Hazid's revolver trained on the lifeless militant.

Duke let out a near-delirious giggle. His entire body felt numb, distant. But he was alive. He was alive, Zara was alive, and their attackers were dead. The Shepherd took an awkward step forward, toward the downed militants.

That turned out to be a mistake. A dull pain lanced through his side, and his legs suddenly felt like they'd turned to jelly. With a groan, the big Shepherd collapsed to the ground and rolled over onto his back. His vision swam and darkened; his breath came in ragged gasps.

Bailey was crouched at Duke's side, looking grimly down at her teammate. The Boxer was trying to say something to him, but she sounded as though she were shouting from a thousand miles away. “Duke! Keep calm and don't move. Everything's gonna be alright. Can you hear me?”

“Wh... what...” The numb sensation had spread and grown stronger. He could barely articulate a single word.

Everything was slowly fading. Bailey's words had no meaning anymore. Nothing meant anything. Until he glanced down at his body. Even through the haze, he recognized two growing patches of dark red matting his fur; one was on the side of his chest, the other his thigh.

“Oh,” Duke murmured.

With that, his head fell back against the floor, and the Shepherd slipped into dark nothingness.

----------

Duke spent the next God only knew how long in a listless haze, just upon the edge of consciousness. He'd felt himself being lifted up, after lying on the ground for what felt like an eternity. Lifted up by two pairs of disembodied hands, and brought before a blinding light. Voices were all around him, murmuring just barely too quietly for him to make out what was being said. So this is what dying feels like, some small, functional part of his brain managed to articulate. Slowly, the light began to fade, and Duke drifted under yet again.

The next period of the Shepherd's life was nothing more than a progression of faces. First, two men in combat fatigues, looking down on him. One wrote something on a clipboard. Duke tried to speak, but Clipboard just gently scritched his ears and prodded him in the arm with something sharp. Darkness came again.

Two different faces greeted Duke the next time his mind began to shrug off the shackles of unconsciousness: two canines this time. Bailey and Zara appeared at the edges of his blurry vision, looking down at him with helplessness and worry. They seemed to be trying to speak to him, but Duke couldn't make out any of the words. It was all a murky drone to him.

But they were safe. He'd done his duty. They were safe...

As unconsciousness claimed Duke once again, the shadow of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

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Sequel to The Dogs of War~

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Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:23 pm
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Post Re: The Dogs of War
Poor Duke! Will the guy ever catch a break?

Excellent work, as always.


Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:54 am
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Post Re: The Dogs of War
indeed, great work, Ruu. though you missed a chance for an evil cliffhanger, there.

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Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:31 am
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