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Abduction 
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Post Abduction
Well, I went and did it. I got a bug in my brain and couldn't shake it. So I'm going to subject you all to this.

This story shouldn't get dark, but I'm trying to stay on the "serious with flashes of humor" line. Not sure how well I'm pulling it off. More to come in coming days.

***************
Abduction

Where had it all gone wrong?

That question had come up so many times. He searched his scrambled memory. There had been a time when his life had been on track. Then it had all fallen apart.

Furiously, he scribbled in his notebook, jotting down every thought that passed through his head. The more he did it, the more that he realized the answer.

He looked again at the strange object on his desk. It was telling him its secrets. It was giving him the right questions.

The answers lay in Babylon Gardens.

**
King sat on the grass and watched his pups at play. The three of them raced though the playground with all the energy they could muster. And they could muster a lot.

There was a slight chill as the sky was just beginning to darken. Summer was all but over and the change to fall was in the air. There was an additional chill when a shadow fell across the Corgi. “You left your phone at home.”

He looked up to see Fox smiling down at him. “Did I?” he asked in mock surprise. “How forgetful of me.”

Fox sat down next to his friend and joined him watching the pups. “Bailey sent me to find you. She said dinner is almost ready. Besides, you need to take Pueblo home.” Fox indicated the young cougar that was currently being dogpiled by the pups while all four laughed.

“Fine, give them a second. I think we may finally have them tuckered out.” King never tired of watching them at play. There was a time that he imagined a moment like this and thought it was just chemistry. Now, he wasn’t so sure.

“How’s he doing, anyway?” asked Fox, jutting his nose toward Pueblo. “Bailey said you’re tutoring him?”

King let a smile play across his muzzle. “A little, mostly in history. He’s doing fine. A few more months and he’ll easily test at grade level. Gale wants him to start at a regular school as soon as possible.” King laid back, “That kid is smart as a whip. If I’d been that smart, I wouldn’t have dropped out of college.”

Fox smiled, “You know, if you hadn’t…”

King sighed. The subject of his past didn’t come up all that often, but it was true. If he’d stayed in college, then he might have gone on to get a degree and a job. Maybe a different life, but not one he would care to dwell on. He glanced at the cougar cub with a bit of jealousy. “He’s going to be a real lady-killer when he gets to high school.”

Fox winced, “Maybe don’t use that term around the humans?”

The Corgi stood up and stretched, “Yeah, I know.” He started waving at the kids, “Olive! Ace! Rook! Time to go!” There was a chorus of disappointed voices, but then came when called. “You mind going past Gales place first? She’s not far out of our way.”

Fox shrugged, then marveled as the cougar easily hoisted Rook on his shoulders. “That kid is strong,” he mused aloud.

“They won’t admit it,” said King in a mock-whisper, “but I think he’d give some of Miles cubs a run for their money.” He could tell the cougar heard him, but only responded with a smile and a wink. The two dogs each took a pups hand and headed across the large grassy area toward the sidewalk.

King and Fox made small talk as they walked with Pueblo leading the way. He enjoyed the time in the park, but he was eager to get home. Bailey and Lucretia had been up to something in the kitchen since lunchtime and they wouldn’t allow him inside. The smells were… confusing. He was sure that they were trying to figure out some human recipe and wanted his honest opinion. He really didn’t care what it turned out to be. He was a dog, he’d eat it.

Fox slowed his walk and started sniffing the air. “You smell that?”

King sniffed. His senses were at least as good as the husky, but even after all these years he wasn’t as apt at identifying what they told him. “You sure that’s not Baileys cooking? I mean, I love her, but she’s not the best…”

The side door of an older commercial van suddenly flew open. Fox pushed Olive toward King in time to get her out of harms way as a wired dart struck him in the chest. King recognized the sound of a Tazer, as Fox went down.

He shoved both pups toward Pueblo, “Run!” he screamed as he turned back toward their assailant. Without a second though, he leapt at the hand holding the device and, for the first time in his life, bit down hard on the wrist. He didn’t feel flesh, but rather padded leather. King was trying to figure out his next move when he felt a slam against his head. He let go of the wrist and fell to the ground. He was conscious long enough to see Pueblo running away, a pup under each arm and the third clutching his head.

Then the world went black.

**
He stuffed the unconscious dogs into the kennel and locked it. Firing up the engine, he pulled out as fast as he dared. He hadn’t expected the cougar cub, or the husky for the matter, but it couldn’t be helped.

He would make do.

He took his planned escape route, careful not to draw too much attention. He had planned to have much more time before the police got involved. He figured that cougar would be able to call the police pretty quick.

Thankfully, they didn’t exactly call out the army for a couple dogs.

**

“Miles, can you clear your stuff off the kitchen table so we can set it?”

Miles glanced up from the papers he was grading. He’d lost track of time since getting back from school. He was technically still a substitute, but one of the regular teachers was on maternity leave so he had a regular class for the next few months. “Sure, I’ll finish these after dinner,” he said as he gathered the papers.

Lucretia appeared at the kitchen doorway, her apron and fur sprinkled with flour and blood. Bailey was behind her, struggling with a stack of plates. “Why don’t you do that in your office? Isn’t that why you have one?”

Miles rolled his eyes, “Tell that to DeeVee. He’s said he’s filming a speed-something or other and needed my desk…”

His voice trailed off and he looked suddenly to the door. He was already rising when it flew open and Pueblo tumbled through it with the pups. It was the first time that anyone had ever seen anything remotely like fear on the young cougars face, and he looked terrified. “He took them!” he managed between gasps, “He took them!”

Miles and Lucretia were at his side in moments. “What happened?” he asked. “Who took who?”

Pueblo gasped, “King and Fox, a human took them! White van, near the park!” Bailey dropped the plates with a deafening crash as she raced across the room gathering her pups to her.

Miles didn’t wait. He was out the door in an instant.

Bailey fumbled for her phone, her hackles already up. “Dad! Someone took them!”

**

Babylon Gardens is a quiet neighborhood.

Most of the time.

Tonight was not one of those times.

If it had been just King then the police would have been looking for him, but King was, after all, just a dog. He was important to those that cared for him, but he wasn’t a human. He was just a dog. You don’t call out the army for just a dog.

The abductor had also taken Fox. Fox was a police dog.

The first police car showed up in less than five minutes, long enough to learn that the dognapping had taken place near the playground. The human officer barked into his radio to redirect some of the responding officers in that direction, while others sealed off the neighborhood. Word traveled fast, either by phone, police radio or pounding on doors. Off duty police and K9s headed toward the park, others to the Wolf house, some in and some out of uniform.

Baily sat on the couch, hugging all three of her sobbing pups to her, while Lucretia knelt down in front of Pueblo and calmed him. “Just tell us what happened?” A human officer that Bailey didn’t recognize stood behind her taking notes.

“We were just walking back from the park. I heard something behind me, and by the time I turned King was shoving Olive and Ace at me and telling me to run.”

“Did you see who did it?” asked the officer.

Pueblo shook his head, “He had a hood on, but he was human. Big. I think he was alone.” He looked tearfully up at Bailey. “I’m so sorry. I should have helped.”

Bailey felt a lump in her throat and took the cub by the shoulders. “King told you to run?” she asked. Pueblo nodded silently. “He trusted you with his children,” she said quietly. “You did exactly what he wanted. You brought them home safe.” She wiped away her own tear and hugged him, “No matter what happens, you did everything you could. My puppies are safe because of you.”

The police officer talked a bit more with the cub, getting the details that the van was white and had old lettering on the side, before he went out to relay that information to the squad.

Gale showed up a short time later. She didn’t collect her son and go home. She quietly took a spot out of the way and observed.

**
He pulled off the two-lane road near the river where he had a different van stashed. It was a ridiculous precaution, no one cared about a couple dogs, but he didn’t want things to go wrong. He had a plan and didn’t need anyone interrupting him.

Both the husky and the Corgi were still out cold. He risked opening the kennel door long enough to zip tie their arms and legs. He stripped off their collars and cursed when he found the husky had a phone. Quickly, he smashed it on the ground.

He picked up the muzzle and started to put it over Kings head, but stopped and switched to the husky. For the breed, he was bulky and looked like he could cause trouble. He thought about dispatching him right then and there, but something held him back.

It wasn’t the dogs fault that he was a prisoner of his own mind. He’d at least give him a chance to switch sides. He shoved the muzzle over his mouth, at least two sizes too small, and relocked the kennel. He struggled transfering it to a different van. He paused for a second to catch his breath. The husky seemed so familiar. He shook it off and slammed the door.

Before he abandoned it, he covered the interior of the stolen white van with a couple bottles of bleach, then tossed in a bug bomb for good measure. Let them get a fingerprint, DNA or a scent off of that.

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Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:13 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Great start.


Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:10 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Really like how this is going so far! You made a great start! As I said before, as long as they don't die at the end, I'm sure this fanfic will actually be really great! Awesome job! ^_^

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Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:45 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Good job so far, I love that you’ve involved Pueblo and Gale.

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Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:48 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
Really like how this is going so far! You made a great start! As I said before, as long as they don't die at the end, I'm sure this fanfic will actually be really great! Awesome job! ^_^


Not in the plans, no. I rather stupidly posted something last night that was wildly inappropriate and got very properly admonished by one of the admins. Thankfully, I never intended for this story to go super dark. I plan on some peril, occasional PG violence and a few characters likely acting a bit (unintentionally) out of character, but no gore.

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Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:35 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Wow :shock: The title alone had me worried, then you started the story with the children... You're an excellent writer! This is a great start to a new fic.

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Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:42 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Gale's involved. I doubt a peaceful resolution to the perpetrator.

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Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:04 am
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Post Re: Abduction
I was concerned as well when it started out with King's pups :lol: but it turned out really well so far! Looking forward to the next part!

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Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:33 am
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Post Re: Abduction
D-Rock Wrote:
Gale's involved. I doubt a peaceful resolution to the perpetrator.
Oh, yeah, he’ll definitely be lucky to be arrested and locked up before Gale finds him. Pueblo is suck a sweet cub, I’m glad he is being comforted, because I want to hug him.

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Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:16 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Abductions are always a little unnerving. And fascinating. I'm hooked.


Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:24 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
D-Rock Wrote:
Gale's involved. I doubt a peaceful resolution to the perpetrator.


Gale? Not to mention Bailey "touch-my-pups-and-you'll-be-wearing-your-digestive-track-like-a-Mardi-Gras-necklace-" Lindburg!! Yikes.


Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:16 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Next part I think here. I'm trying to do this in 5-6 page chunks. The early scene in this with Bailey was the basic kernel of the entire story.

Its also amazing how characters come out of the woodwork when you're writing something like this. Especially when you've got a cast of thousands to choose from. 8-)

********************
Over the next hour, the neighborhood began to look like a Hollywood movie. Police cars buzzed around, lights flashing. The K9s were out in force, but no one found anything. Eventually, Miles returned to the house looking visibly frustrated and talked with Lt. Lindberg, who was coordinating from the Wolf front lawn. They exchanged a few words before he came back into the house

Lucretia met him at the door and he silently shook his head before coming into the house. Bailey was one the couch, still not letting go of her puppies. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly as he fell to one knee to be at her level. “I was too late to find them.”

Bailey nodded, “I know. My dad talked to me a few minutes ago. They got away before the police could respond. They’re gone.”

A dark look crossed Miles face, “They are not gone,” he said simply. He clearly wanted to say more, but excused himself and went into the garage. It was soon followed by the sound of a heavy bag being struck repeatedly as the massive wolf tried to work off his frustration

Bailey was going crazy. She felt she needed to put on a brave face, but all she wanted was to run after King and Fox. She just didn’t have a direction. A thought crossed her mind and she turned to Lucretia, “Could you give the pups some food? I need a second.”

Lucretia nodded and took the pups to the kitchen. Bailey slid off the couch and went into her bedroom, closing the door and taking a deep breath. Then went to the closet door and flung it open.

Kitsune, unsurprisingly, was sitting on the statue pedestal. He wasn’t smiling, but looked sad and conflicted at the same time. “I was wondering how long it would take you to seek me out.”

For just a second, Bailey felt hope rise, then it fell again, “You’re not going to help, are you?”

He wouldn’t meet her gaze, “I can’t.”

The husky grabbed the Celestial fox by the fur on his chest and pushed him against a wall. He hit with enough force to knock the family photo off the wall where it fell to the floor, shattering the glass. The fox could easily have prevented this, but allowed Bailey to vent her anger on him, “I know you can snap a finger and have them both right next to me! Why won’t you?”

“It was part of the deal…” Kitsune started.

“Stuff your deal!” she shouted. “Send me to them, then! Let me take Kings place! Even that monster Pete allowed that!”

Kitsune looked upset, even hurt. “You know this is different. This isn’t a prank, this is destiny. Yours, his, and Fox.”

She let go and turned away, “Are they dead?”

Kitsune hesitated, “I’m not allowed…”

Bailey turned on him, a look of anger that took even the creature of Heaven aback. “If I find out that you or your stupid game caused this and you did nothing to help, after everything you put us through, I swear to Heaven that I will cut each of your tails off and stuff them down your throat.”

The Kitsune had no response, but it was one of the rare times dealing with a mortal where he had a feeling she would indeed find a way to carry out her promise. “I’m sorry, Bailey. I really am.”

She wouldn’t turn to look at him, “Just go. And if you’re not going to help, then I never want to see you again.” When she finally turned, the fox and statue were both gone.

The photo was back on the wall, the glass repaired.

**

It had been two hours since Pueblo had burst through the door of the Wolf house. The kitchen table had turned into an impromptu war room. Lt. Lindberg stood at one end, a couple of human officers flanking him.

Bill Lindberg had been Foxs’ owner for years and they had always had a close relationship. Bill had a gruff reputation but he had a soft spot for Fox that was unfathomable to even other loving dog owners. No one was prouder when Fox had become a K9 officer. That man loved his dog and would do anything for him.

Miles, Gale and Bailey stood around the table as well. A handful of K9s were discretely off to the side, waiting for orders. The rest of the wolf pack were scattered around, some talking quietly others just… waiting. The tension in the air was palpable. The dogs sensed it and were all on edge. Even the humans could feel it.

Ralph, the Sargent in charge of the K9s, had a map spread out across the table and was pointing at the playground. Since the victims were both dogs, the K9 squad was technically in the lead. “We found the markers from the Tazer here, right where the cub said they were taken. We’ve sent photos to Terrance. He’s trying to run the serial number now. It’s only a block from the park, but the back fences of the houses on that street are there. No one else saw anything.”

“Did you find anything else?” asked Lindberg.

Ralph shook his head, “The rest of the squad is spreading out from that location in all directions. But nothing yet.”

Bill looked back at one of the other officers, “What about the van? Anyone report it?”

The human nodded, “A couple of people saw it leaving the area at a high rate of speed. It was older, had a company logo on it but no one caught it.” He looked frustrated, “We’re still canvasing.”

Gale was looking at the map intently, then slowly reached out to it and turned it, annoying Ralph but he didn’t say anything. “Where did they see the van?” she asked.

The officer looked at the cougar in surprise, like he’d hadn’t noticed her before. “Uh, here,” he said tapping a spot on the map, “And here,” tapping another. “We think he was maybe headed for the interstate, that way out of Babylon Gardens takes you in that direction.” He looked over at Lindberg, “We’re already coordinating with Highway Patrol. They’re road blocking the interstate as we speak.”

Gale kept looking and glanced at Miles who seemed to catch on to her thinking. “He avoided the manor,” he said simply.

Lindberg looked between the two apex predators. “What?”

Gale traced the most direct route that connected the sightings. “He’s a predator turned prey. The moment he took Fox and King, he was on the run and he knew it. This neighborhood is a mix of dead ends, cul-de-sacs and twisted roads. He needed to take the most direct route to get into the open where he could flee.”

Miles nodded, “And that route from the playground should have taken him past Milton Manor. But he avoided it. The route that he took was twice as long. Why did he do that?”

“Because we have the most high-tech security system outside of Fort Knox,” came a high voice from the front door. “He’d have been caught on camera, face recognition and tracked by satellite.”

Lindberg turned to look at the ferret standing in the doorway. “Mr. Milton? What in the world are you doing here? And just how long have you been standing there?”

“King is, technically on paper, my dog. Remember?” he said, ignoring the second question. “I’m actually a little upset that no one thought to call me right away.”

“You think this is about you?” asked Ralph.

The ferret smiled thinly, “It’s always about me, you should know that by now.” Keene climbed onto a chair, “I don’t know if this specifically is connected to me or not, but I’m prepared to help.”

Lt, Lindberg shook his head, “This may not be a problem you can just throw money at. We have no idea who took them or why.”

“Lets work on the why, why don’t we?” said Keene. “I understand that the dognapper came prepared? This wasn’t spur of the moment?”

Ralph nodded, “He had a Tazer that he surprised Fox with. The cougar cub says that King tried to bite him on the arm, but was clubbed for his trouble.”

“If King was the target, then he’d hardly have needed a Tazer,” mused Keene. He glanced at Bailey, “No offence, but your husband is hardly a formidable opponent.”

“You think Fox as the real target all along?” asked Ralph, “Why?”

Keene shrugged, “I don’t know. Between the two of them they have interrupted the plans of entities far more powerful than me.”

“Fox wasn’t supposed to be there,” said Bailey suddenly.

“What?” asked Lindberg. “What do you mean?”

Bailey struggled to get the words out, “King forgot his phone. I asked Fox to go fetch him.”

“And the dognapper was sitting and waiting by the park,” said Ralph. “Not the house.”

They all looked at each other. “King was the target,” said Gale finally.

Miles met her gaze, “Or the puppies.”

“Or all four, “ said Bailey quietly. She looked at Gale. “He was going to stun King, then take them all. If it wasn’t for Pueblo, they’d be gone.”
*******

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Last edited by D-Rock on Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mod Edit: Please do not use that particular word in that manner.



Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:06 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Who thought that anybody at ALL would be able to scare Kitsune like that even in statue form? I need to make a note to myself. Never **** off Bailey.

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:49 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Will I blame Kitsune? I could. But he did warn that King would be at the whims of fate, through the good and the bad.

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:05 am
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Post Re: Abduction
D-Rock Wrote:
Will I blame Kitsune? I could. But he did warn that King would be at the whims of fate, through the good and the bad.


That was my thinking when I wrote it. Kitsune can easily break a story like this since he does have the power to just solve it. Him hiding, in a sense, behind the conditions of fate was my out.

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:10 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
Who thought that anybody at ALL would be able to scare Kitsune like that even in statue form? I need to make a note to myself. Never **** off Bailey.


I already had “don’t make Bailey mad” in my notes.But, I think I’m going to underline it heavily now. Good work on this chapter, dr_erik!

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:57 am
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Post Re: Abduction
dr_eirik Wrote:
D-Rock Wrote:
Will I blame Kitsune? I could. But he did warn that King would be at the whims of fate, through the good and the bad.


That was my thinking when I wrote it. Kitsune can easily break a story like this since he does have the power to just solve it. Him hiding, in a sense, behind the conditions of fate was my out.


Rule of Non-Interference and all that sort of thing...


Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:16 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
Who thought that anybody at ALL would be able to scare Kitsune like that even in statue form? I need to make a note to myself. Never **** off Bailey.


No kidding... but I admire her strength. So far the K9s are doing a good job of making the most of what little they, but if anyone needs to whip them into shape it's her.

Nice job with this story so far. Not many fics can pull off a serious tone, but you do it well.

NHWestoN Wrote:
Rule of Non-Interference and all that sort of thing...


And it makes for good storytelling.

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:21 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Nathan Kerbonaut Wrote:
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
Who thought that anybody at ALL would be able to scare Kitsune like that even in statue form? I need to make a note to myself. Never **** off Bailey.


No kidding... but I admire her strength. So far the K9s are doing a good job of making the most of what little they, but if anyone needs to whip them into shape it's her.

Yeah, I'd still like to see Rick do a story where a female tries to join the K9s, and Bailey would make an excellent candidate (Daisy also). Or a non-canine like Maxwell or Marvin.

Nice job with this story so far. Not many fics can pull off a serious tone, but you do it well.

NHWestoN Wrote:
Rule of Non-Interference and all that sort of thing...


And it makes for good storytelling.


Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:35 am
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Post Re: Abduction
At least we didn't have to see a scene of Bailey strangling Kitsune and then Cerberus arriving and putting her in a Hannibal Lector mask. :lol:

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Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:30 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Here is the next section. No real comments here, other than the bit with the Keene in the beginning I think I was channeling Raymond Reddington from Blacklist. Almost wanted to give him a hat. I'm also making an assumption about a character later in the tale.

Enjoy!

************************
Everyone agreed that the theory made sense, but still didn’t know what to do with that information. Keene was convinced a ransom demand was coming, so went with a couple of detectives to the manor to wait for a possible phone call. “I’ll pay whatever they demand,” he had said as he left.

“Aren’t you worried that might encourage other kidnappings?” Lindberg had asked.

Keene put on his glasses, “I didn’t say they’d ever spend it.”

Now it was a waiting game, either for a call or a tip. It was about an hour after Keene left that Uncle Deadeye came from his room and walked silently though the gathering of people and animals as if none of them were there. Miles turned to watch him cross the room and leave through the front door. Without a word, he followed.

Deadeye was standing in the middle of the yard, his nose pointed into the breeze, lit by the flashing police lights and a full moon. Miles stood next to him. “King?” he asked. Deadeye said nothing, but very slightly moved his nose upward until it pointed at Sirrus, then straight down until it pointed at the distant hills.

By this time, Lucretia had joined them. He looked at her, “Gather the pack.”

There was no general call, no scramble. One moment the two wolves were alone on the lawn, and the next they were surrounded by their entire family. Only Lucretia hung back, keeping a paw on Baileys shoulder. The neighbors who were gawking at the scene from across the street were stunned into silence. It was no mystery that the wolves lived there. It was hardly the first time they were even all gathered together in their yard. Those other times had been for parties or gatherings. This was different.

Miles took a deep breath. “King is our pack,” he bellowed. There was a rare force in his voice, even some of his cubs had not heard it before. This was not the same wolf that taught math earlier that day. “He is as much our pack as if he was related by blood.” He let his gaze wander over each member of his family, “Fox is our pack. He was taken trying to protect King and his pups.” He turned to face the Dog Star, “We protect our pack. They are out there, and they are alive and waiting for us until I say otherwise.” His gaze didn’t falter, his nostrils flared, “Tonight we are hunting a predator. We come back with King and Fox, or we don’t come back at all.”

The gathered wolves stood still, determined. There wasn’t a sound from them. Lt. Lindberg started to step off the porch to stop whatever was about to happen, but Gale put a paw on his shoulder and held him. He would later notice the four fingered bruise there.

All at once, the pack howled. It was a long, mournful call into the night that sent shivers down the spine of anyone who heard it. It was so primal that it triggered some of the dogs in the neighborhood to join in. Ralph had to struggle to keep himself from doing the same. In the nearby woods, every feral animal dove for cover and stayed there, some wouldn’t surface again for days. It even reached the deep, animal core of the humans who heard it, and it was a sound that carried far beyond the borders of the neighborhood.

The howl was both a message to their lost pack members and those that would take them. It was the same message: We’re coming.

When it was over, the wolves were gone. They slipped into the night with impossible silence, following the direction that Deadeye had pointed. A heavy quiet descended on the neighborhood. No one made a sound.

Gale was the first to shake it off. She leaned over toward Lucretia. “Can Pueblo stay with you tonight?”

She looked surprised. “You’re going to join them?”

“I think I have to,” she said simply. “I need to make sure that he doesn’t do something he regrets.”

“You think he’s going to kill someone?” asked Lindberg.

Gale looked at the police officer, “No. Maybe a few years ago, before he came to live here. Miles wouldn’t. I also don’t think that he’ll allow any of them to do anything beyond a rescue. But none of you have known him as long as I have. He is channeling his rage.”

“He looked pretty controlled to me,” said Ralph, even though he didn’t feel like it was true.

“Miles is an exceptional pack leader,” she admitted. “You don’t become that and lose control all that easily. He hasn’t lost control, but if he finds King and Fox and they are hurt…” she trailed off and took a breath, “I fear he’s going to do something he can’t come back from.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Bailey. She wanted to follow the wolves herself so much that she could taste it, but she would not leave her pups undefended.

Gale looked toward the distant hills, “The pack is a blunt instrument. Effective. It’ll get the job done.” She looked back at Bailey. “I’m surgical.”

She started walking back to her house when Lucretia asked, “Aren’t you going to follow the pack?”

Gale turned and smiled, “I know where they are going. And if I wanted to run all that way, I wouldn’t have bought a car.”

**

King finally stirred hours later. His head pounded hard and his nostrils burned with the smell of some overpowering citrus air freshener. He slowly opened his eyes. It was dark, but enough light came from the moon shining through the windshield that he could tell he was in the back of a van.

He stayed still, listening. Whoever grabbed him was not in the van. They were parked. His nose was overwhelmed with the air freshener, but he could hear frogs and crickets outside. He stained his ears, but heard no sounds of civilization at all.

He couldn’t move, realizing soon that his arms and legs were bound. For a moment, he thought that he was pushed up against Bailey until the memory flooded back, “Fox?” he hissed. “Wake up!”

The husky stirred slowly at first, then opened his own eyes and looked around. He tried to move his body for more room, but they were both crammed into a kennel for a dog about Kings size. It was a tight fit. He looked up and tried to speak, but the muzzle was too tight. He looked at King with pleading eyes. “Yeah, it happened again.” King allowed a slight smile, “How many times is it now?”

Fox narrowed his eyes. It was clear he didn’t see the humor here. Then he looked around frantically.

“I have no idea where we are, other than inside a van somewhere parked outside, I think in the woods. Wasn’t it white?” Fox looked at him, nodded, then looked desperately at the muzzle on his face.

King continued, “He must have switched vans while we were out, this one is a dark color.” He started to say something else, then looked away, “I think the kids all got away. Last thing I saw was Pueblo carrying them.” He sniffed, then regretted it, it burned his nostrils. “There is so much air freshener in here, I can’t tell if any of them were ever in the van.” He looked down at Fox again, who first looked sympathetic then desperate again at the muzzle. “Oh, you want me to remove it? My hands are bound.”

The huskys eyes narrowed and a very slight growl rumbled from deep inside.

King relented. “Fine. I was hoping you would have a way out of that without me resorting to this,” King twisted behind Fox and started gnawing at the heavy leather strap that held the muzzle in place. He spat a few times to clear bits of leather and gray hair from his mouth before it finally broke and fell away.

Fox gasped a few times, wincing in pain. “When we get back home, Bailey and I are giving you a crash course in actually being a dog. It’s not all just fur and tails, you know!”

“I got it off, didn’t I?” He said as he spat again.

Fox panted hard, “Any idea how long we’ve been out?” Fox asked.

King shook his head, “No idea. It’s dark and the moon is up. At least a couple hours. Maybe more.” Fox took a breath and winced, he tried to stifle a whine but King heard it. “You’re hurt!”

“I’ll be fine,” Fox panted. “I think I cracked a rib.”

King looked at him with concern. “We need to get you to a vet.”

Fox tried to laugh, then winced again, “Ow. I’m with ya, chief. Just ask the nice dognapper to drop me off when he gets the chance.” Fox struggled against his bonds, “Can you chew these off?”

King tried to shift position, but couldn’t. They were too wedged in. “Sorry.” He started panting himself. The van was cool, but being jammed up against a husky was like having your own person space heater. “You think they’re looking for us?” he asked finally.

Fox gave him a quizzical look. “What kind of question is that? Of course they are.”

King sighed, “We’re not exactly high priority for the police. Lost dogs are an Animal Control problem.”

Fox smiled despite his pain, “Sure, you. But I’m special.”

“Oh, right. Police dog,” said King flatly.

Fox nodded, “That, and the wolf pack will be out looking. And Bailey.” He thought a moment, “What about Kitsune? Doesn’t he sorta live in your house?”

King tried to shrug, but the quarters were too tight, “He occupies that statue when he feels like it. I’m not sure you could say he lives with us. And if he was going to help, I think that he’d be here by now.” It was Kings turn to think, “What about your Celestial girlfriends? You told me they promised a visit.”

“Yeah, but they aren’t Celestials, just spirits. The last time I saw them was a special case.” He looked wistful. “At least the last time I saw them in person.”

King blinked, “What does that mean?”

The fur started to redden around Foxes ears, “Uh, I kinda dream about them. A lot. Almost nightly.” His ears reddened further, “Sometimes more than once a night.”

King stared at his friend. “Did it ever occur to you that those dreams were them visiting?”

The fur got redder and redder, “No! That’s just dreams! Those are figments of my imagination!”

“Fox… have you told them you think they are figments?”

The husky turned away in embarrassment, “A couple times. They keep insisting they are real. I think they think it’s funny that they can’t convince me.”

King smiled despite everything. “Well, if you manage to dream them up again, ask them to send help.”

Fox turned his head suddenly, “Someone is coming.”

The back door of the fan suddenly flew open and the light came on. “Oh, good, you’re both awake.” The man stepped into the light and sneered down at King. “Nice to see you again, Joel. It’s been a long time. I remember you as being taller.”

King felt the blood drain from his face. It was Orwell Johnson.

*****************

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:43 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Great chapter! I like the dynamics of Fox and King and how you talk about the respect that Gale has for Miles. Keep up the good work m, on this, I am looking forward to reading more.

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Curious to know how Orwell learned of this. Next update, I suppose. And the dynamic between Gale and Miles is interesting to see. Especially the note of the fact that if it wasn't for being among civilization for so long, Miles would react much more aggressively to the kidnapping.

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I am really loving where this story is going so far! Great job!

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:16 pm
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You've got me on the edge of my seat -- and I have a hundred questions I need answered. Guess I'll have to be patient. Seriously, nice job with this story!

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Post Re: Abduction
Nathan Kerbonaut Wrote:
You've got me on the edge of my seat -- and I have a hundred questions I need answered. Guess I'll have to be patient. Seriously, nice job with this story!


I'm not sure that I have enough material for hundreds of questions! 8-)

There will be more posted soon. As I write this, I've posted about 16 and a half pages of 29 that I've already written. I'm trying to post only when I feel comfortable that I don't need to make alteration to what I've written. I've also had trouble coming up with an ending that brings it all to a nice close, but I think I've worked those out. The problem is that a few general ideas I had went way to far down the trail to "grim-dark". I finally figured out how to get the effect I wanted without going in that direction. I guess we shall see how well I pull it off.

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:56 pm
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You’ll do fine, you’re doing great so far.

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:12 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Next part of the tale.

**********************
Kitsune stood next to the river under the blazing sun and tossed a few rocks into it. It was his favorite place on this Earth to go think, near the headwaters of the Nile. He tossed another rock in, and as the water stilled he saw a familiar reflection in the water. “Thanks for coming.”

Cerebus leaned against a rocky outcropping, all three heads looking at him with concern. “You’re awfully serious, what’s going on?”

“I need to know, did you collect Fox and King?” he asked without turning around.

Cerebus was surprised at the question. “No! I know you have a connection to them. I’d have told you right away.” She looked at him curiously, “You’d sense them in Heaven, anyway.”

He tossed another rock in, which despite being shaped like a baseball skipped halfway across the water, “I don’t sense them at all,” he admitted. He hadn’t exactly lied to Bailey. He honestly wasn’t allowed to interfere. At the moment, though, he couldn’t help even if he was willing to break every Heavenly rule to do it.

Cerebus looked at him oddly, then all six eyes widened, “Me neither. That’s not possible.”

Kitsune jumped to his feet, a smile finally playing across his muzzle, “No, that’s a loophole.”

Her heads tilted in curiosity. “A loophole? You know you can’t get involved.” She glanced upwards, “You know how much trouble you can get into.”

His grin widened, and the fabled fox creature started to look more like himself. “I can’t interfere, but something is blocking both of us. I can at least go looking for that.” His grin widened impossibly, “And if I happen to find a couple of lost dogs along the way? Whose to say that’s not destiny.” With that, the Kitsune faded away.

Cerebus chuffed, “Our boss! That’s who!” she yelled into the desert sky.

**

It was still dark where Kitsune appeared, now not far from the Milton estate. Normally, night here was relaxed, but not tonight. The nocturnal animals were much more quiet than normal.

He thought about going back to the treehouse and waking Craig. The crazy little fox kit would almost certainly be asleep by now, being a slave to his new biology. But he’d been keeping a close watch on him and his sister. They tended to poke around the ruins of the temple, but they were rapidly forgetting why. He knew, however, that there were others that did the same without fully understanding how dangerous it was.

He hid his extra tails and walked to the base of a large, old oak. Moving a couple of rocks, he peered in and heard a cry of alarm. “Ink! It’s fine, it’s just me!”

He saw the light reflected off her eyes and an audible sigh of relief. “Are the wolves gone?”

Kitsune made a show of looking around. He knew where the wolves were and they were all headed away. “It’s fine, why aren’t you with Jessica?”

“I was out with Tum when the wolves howled. This was the first place I could find to hide,” she said as she climbed out, handing her kit to the fox.

“It was good that I found you,” he said, “I needed to talk to you. Let me walk you back to the treehouse. You’ll be safer there.” He didn’t mention that it wouldn’t be long before Jessica went into the night looking for the lost raccoon and her kit. Kitsune didn’t want to deal with another emergency tonight. He carried Tum, and then just pushed a tiny bit to put the tiny raccoon to sleep and insured good dreams.

“Oh, you’re so good with him.” Ink was on edge, but she kept close to Kitsune. “What did you want to ask me about?”

“A bunch of you still worship the Opener, right?” he asked. She just nodded, too nervous to launch into her usual deification of the unwilling domestic rabbit. “Are you collecting any artifacts? Maybe from the temple ruins?”

Ink looked sternly at him, “We have a few relics, but only believers can see them!” she said.

“Of course,” he said trying to calm her down, “ I was just curious what kind of objects you’ve found.”

She looked frustrated, “We have a few things, but a lot has gone missing. We had scrolls some jewels and even a scepter from the temple. A lot of it vanished a couple months ago.”

Kitsune mused over that. He had thought that everything in the old Gryphons temple would have vanished when it collapsed, but clearly more survived that he realized. “Do you have any idea who took it?”

“I thought it was Falstaff for the longest time,” she admitted. “But I think it was a human. Back then there was one hanging around the woods near the temple rubble.”

That was the first time that he’d heard that. “Did you know him?” He asked.

She shook her head. “No, not at all. He’s not from the neighborhood. He just smelled bad, that’s all I remember.” She blinked, “Wait, how did we get here so fast?” she asked as she realized that she was suddenly at the treehouse door.

Kitsune smiled, “Shortcut,” he explained. He handed Tum back to her. “Make sure that you stay here until I tell you to come out. Spread the word. The wolves are worked up and we want them calmed down.” Ink nodded and closed the door behind her.

Kitsune waiting until she was in her room, then stepped back into the woods. Moments later, he was back at the hole he’d found her and Tum in. He knew that she’d never trust hiding him somewhere that she didn’t feel secure.

He climbed down and soon found a treasure trove. Well, most of it was junk, things collected from the exasperated rabbit whether he knew it or not. But there were bits and pieces here and there: A couple of coins, a couple of scrolls, a handful of semi-precious stones. He sighed and sent those back to Heaven where they couldn’t cause any trouble, replacing them with harmless duplicates. He was surprised that he hadn’t felt these items before. He knew there was a coin out there, but that had entered into several destinies and he couldn’t interfere. These were free to dispose of.

He felt the rock and dirt and roots around him, trying to figure out this little mystery. It took a few seconds to realize that the walls themselves had absorbed the power of some of the items. Whatever the item was, it was blocking his senses. He grinned slowly. “Oh, Pete, you were being a bad boy, weren’t you?” Kitsune slowly realized that Pete had been hiding something from him, something to cheat the game. Now, it was in human hands.

He sniffed a bit, relying on good, old-fashioned senses. At least, those multiplied by his abilities. He noted a bad scent, too faint for even the sharpest mortal. He barked out a laugh. He hadn’t hunted like this in eons.

It should be fun.

**

The Wolf house was quiet. The pups slept in their bedroom, where Pueblo had joined them. Bailey was checking on them every five minutes before Lucretia, somewhat forcefully, told her to go to bed. “There is nothing you can do right now,” she said. “And you’re not leaving those puppies unguarded.” The mama wolf sat with her gently stroking her head until she fell asleep. Then she stayed, alert, guarding all five of them.

It was a little after midnight when Ralphs phone rang. He glanced at the caller ID then answered it. “Terrance? You’re on speaker.”

“Sarge,” he started in his clipped British accent, “Sorry it took so long, but we just finally got someone at the cell phone company to get back to us. We got a ping off Foxes phone.”

Everyone perked up, “You did? Where?”

“It hasn’t pinged a tower in a couple hours, but it was last at a small park near the river. You know Bristol Park?”

Ralph looked around the room and saw several K9 and humans nodding. It was a small place, but common enough for dogs to go there to swim in the river. “We know it.”

“We’re already on the way,” said Terrance. “Oh, and the Tazer? It was a dead end. It was stolen from an office near Denver two years ago.”

Ralph first felt disappointment, then tilted his head, “An office? A police station?” he asked.

“No, oddly it was a PETA office. Not sure why they need stun guns.”

Ralph felt like the mystery was coming together. “Terrance! Forget the park, we’ll bring the evidence to you. I need you to go back to the station and check on the status of two previous felons. One is Joel Robinson, the other is Orwell Johnson.”

**

Orwell struggled with the kennel from the van all the way into the old vacation house in the middle of the hills. He huffed and puffed as he hauled it through the door, then dropped it carelessly on the floor. Fox yelped in pain.

“Stop it!” cried King. “He’s hurt!”

Orwell said nothing, but opened the kennel and roughly pulled Fox out, causing him to yelp and gasp again. Then he pulled King out. “Better?” he said with a sneer.

King looked at his friend, he was clearly in pain. He was sure that the cracked rib he’d complained about earlier was broken. “Whatever you want with me, leave Fox alone!” he said. “He needs a vet!”

Orwell looked at King in surprise, then over at the husky. “Fox? Fox Lindberg?” he said. “I thought you looked familiar.”

“I look a lot different without a fat guy trying to smother me,” he said between gasps.

“What do you want with us?” King asked.

The fat man took a chair and sat down near the dogs, “You don’t deny it, then? You are Joel Robinson?”

King sighed, there wasn’t much point in drawing things out. “I was, once. As far as I’m concerned, he died the day I turned into this.” He looked Orwell straight in the eye, “I’m King Milton now.”

“How do you feel about this revelation, Fox?” he asked with a slight sneer in his voice.

Fox just mustered the angriest look he could manage. “I’ve known this for a long time. King is my best friend.”

The smile vanished, clearly he had expected a different answer. “This may work out just as well, then.” He stood and used a foot to gently poke Fox around the ribs, drawing a few involuntary winces. “You see, I had intended to get your children… sorry, your puppies, to hold as leverage. But a best friend will have to do.” He pulled his foot back to give Fox a kick.

“Wait!” shouted King. “Don’t! I’ll do what you want! Just don’t hurt him!”

Orwell stood up and walked to a wooden chest on a nearby table and opened it. “So, what can you tell me about a mystical Gryphon?”

*************

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:15 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
I am really hoping that Orwell gets torn apart now. Its is the LEAST he deserves.

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Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:16 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
I am really hoping that Orwell gets torn apart now. Its is the LEAST he deserves.


The two most difficult things to write in this story has been Orwells treatment of Fox and his fate. The first because I considered having him outright torture Fox, before I realized there was no way to write that without getting unacceptably dark and that King would fold rather than let that happen, anyway.

His fate was harder because my instincts were to go graphic. I thankfully never committed my first few ideas to paper. What I came up with should be... satisfying.

BTW, there is a good reason I injured Fox the way I did. I tripped and fell back in June and broke four ribs and punctured a lung. It hurts like... a lot. In my mind, Fox is being tougher than I was just trying to escape. There is a slight HP connection with me and that injury. I was laid up in the ICU for almost 5 days with very little to do. Rick ran a couple of streams at the time and they were the first ones I really had a chance to watch. A rare bright spot in that whole mess.

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Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:44 am
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dr_eirik Wrote:
His fate was harder because my instincts were to go graphic. I thankfully never committed my first few ideas to paper. What I came up with should be... satisfying.


So far you've added the perfect amount of dark-ness -- enough to get invested and trigger an emotional response. Serious writing should have a purpose, rather than be dark for the sake of being dark, but you've done a good job of avoiding that so far so I'm not worried.

dr_eirik Wrote:
BTW, there is a good reason I injured Fox the way I did. I tripped and fell back in June and broke four ribs and punctured a lung. It hurts like... a lot. In my mind, Fox is being tougher than I was just trying to escape. There is a slight HP connection with me and that injury. I was laid up in the ICU for almost 5 days with very little to do. Rick ran a couple of streams at the time and they were the first ones I really had a chance to watch. A rare bright spot in that whole mess.


Yikes, sorry to hear about that :shock: They say good writing draws from real experiences, and I suppose doing so for your injury ensures something positive came of it.

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Eep! Sorry to hear about your injuries. I’m glad to see Kitsune isn’t giving up. Good job on showing the devotion that King and Fox have for one another. As for Orwell, there is a wolf pack, and a puma after him, so I suspect he’ll come to regret his actions, to put it mildly.

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trekkie Wrote:
Eep! Sorry to hear about your injuries. I’m glad to see Kitsune isn’t giving up. Good job on showing the devotion that King and Fox have for one another. As for Orwell, there is a wolf pack, and a puma after him, so I suspect he’ll come to regret his actions, to put it mildly.


Originally, I had intended for Kitsune to vanish for the rest of the story once he made it clear that he couldn't interfere, but that felt very wrong to me. As I fleshed it out, i realized that he'd never just go away if he could do something.

As for Orwell, to quote a famous movie title, There Will be Blood.... ok, no, there won't be. I decided to get creative. I'm actually pretty close to the end of the final few pages, so I may have the next bit up today, with one or two bits after.

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Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:29 am
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Post Re: Abduction
Orwell could end up with a beating that makes Fox's beatings of Bino look like playground roughhousing.

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Post Re: Abduction
And here is the next part, in which I introduce the one and only original character who deserves a name. 8-)

Just because I'm a motor-mouth, I'll blurb at the end where the name comes from... it is not interesting in the least, but I liked it.

***************
Gale pulled her car up to the ranger station and got out, shedding the blouse and suit jacket she had been wearing. The station was closed at this hour, but it was a location she knew well.

This had all been her territory not so long ago.

She didn’t have a clear idea where to start, but she trusted Deadeyes instincts. The old wolf seemed ancient when she herself was a cub and he knew more about these woods than anyone. It was a mystery to her why he voluntarily left them.

It had to be voluntary, since even Miles couldn’t have forced him to come.

She took a deep breath. If Deadeye thought the dogs were out here, then they were. But this was a huge area to cover. She assumed that they had been taken by a human, Pueblo had been scared but he was observant, but then where would he have gone?

Her first thought was one of the dozens of vacation homes that the humans had plopped down over the years though this area. They were isolated and it was the end of the season, so most would be empty. Searching them all would take a week.

She started into the woods, making far more noise than she needed. She made sure to rustle the leaves and break some branches. It didn’t take long for her current prey to find her. He thought he was sneaking up, but Gale swept an arm back and grabbed the cougar by the neck, throwing him to the ground. He looked up at her, stunned.

“Gale!” he sputtered. “I thought you’d left the woods!”

She smiled warmly. “I did, Pueblo and I are living in a human neighborhood now. How are you doing Joshua?” She offered him a paw to help him up.

“I was doing fine until you wounded my pride. What are you doing here?” He looked at her suspiciously, “You ceded this territory, remember?”

She held up her paws, “I know, I know. I’m hopefully going to head back home before dawn. I am on the hunt, though, and I hope you can help.”

He eyed her suspiciously, “A hunt? My territory, remember?”

“I’m hunting a human, a specific one. He dognapped a couple friends.”

Joshua whistled, “That’s a dangerous game. The Rangers don’t like finding human bits around their station.”

“I’m not planning in killing him,” she said with a bit of frustration. “But Miles is looking for him, too. And I don’t want him to kill him.”

A flash of anger went over Joshuas face, “Miles? What is going on?”

She put her arms over his shoulders and drew him closer, “Trust me, this is only for one night, maybe two. We only want to rescue our friends.” She rubbed her nose against his, “I can make it worth your while. Ever tried roasted meat?”

His expression turned sour, “Cooked meat? Never understood that.”

She smiled, “Don’t knock it til you try it.”

His head tilted. “What does that even mean?” he asked.

Gale laughed, “I’m not really sure, it’s something Pueblo keeps saying.”

Joshua thought a few seconds, “You bring him out with your roasted meat, and I’ll help you out. Deal?” She nodded. “Most of the human cabins are empty. There are five occupied and three groups of campers in the area. Two of those are scout troops, the other is a group of teenagers with no adults.”

Gale nodded, “I suspect he’s in a cabin.”

“Of the five, three are families, two of those with dogs. Of the last two, one I think is a couple of brothers that can’t stop arguing with each other. I think they are either up here to fish or drink themselves to death.” He turned and pointed into the dark. “The last one is a bit odd. He’s not using those human lights. He’s only using fire.”

Her ears perked up, “You could have led with that one,” she grumbled. “Thanks. Do me a favor and just stay out of the packs way. I promise you they won’t be around long.”

Joshua smiled and nodded, “When do you want to pay me back for this information?”

“Keep your eye on the ranger station,” she whispered into his ear. “It won’t be long.” She embraced him, then slipped off into the night.

**

Ralph was out of the passenger side door of the police cruiser in an instant, but he didn’t race toward the van. They didn’t know what they were going to find here, but the humans were the ones with the weapons. As the two police officers carefully approached the white van, Ralph waved for them to stop. “There is a really strong odor coming out of there,” he said. He took a deeper breath, then gagged and almost threw up. “Smells like bleach and something else.”

“Bug spray,” filled in Fido, who was lagging a bit behind him with Mungo and Kevin.

One of the humans looked concerned, “You think someone is in there?” he asked.

Ralph shook his head, “I doubt it. The smell is so strong that I think anyone inside would be overcome with fumes.” Even as he said it, he felt his ears droop. “We better get it open,” he said.

The humans approached with their guns drawn. One tried the back door, finding it locked. Ralph glanced at Mungo, who jogged up and tugged open the door like it was made of tissue, leaping out of the way.

The two humans, neither of whom had worked with the Great Dane before, both stared in bewilderment at the dog before remembering what they were there for. The pointed their guns and flashlights inside but found it empty other than puddles of bleach and a spent bug bomb.

They all fanned out and quickly located Foxes phone, smashed to pieces, and both dogs’ collars. Beyond that, they had nothing. They knew that the dogs had been here, but there was no clue where they had gone after.

Ralph sat on the passenger side of the cruiser, feeling helpless. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He needed divine inspiration.

“Evening, Sarge,” said a way too friendly voice. He looked up to see a light colored fox standing over him with a grin. He seemed familiar, Ralph was sure that he’d seen him before around the neighborhood. “Can I help?”

Ralph looked at him sternly. “This is a crime scene, friend,” he said.

The fox looked pleased, “I’m so glad that I found you, then!” he said. “I was following a trail of my own when I found this out in the bushes,” he said as he handed over a single key on a plastic keyring with “604” written on it. “I suspect this might be part of your investigation.” He paused and tilted his head, “You should get that.”

Ralph almost opened his mouth when his phone rang. “Terrance? What did you find?”

“Well, Sargent sir, I found quite a lot,” he said crisply. “Joel Robinson is a ghost. As you know, he escaped custody from the courthouse years ago and hasn’t ever surfaced. The last note in his file was that he was presumed dead.”

Ralph nodded along, he had suspected as much. “What about Johnson?”

“That one is a bit more interesting,” was the reply. “He was released from jail after the attempt on Keene Miltons life about six months ago.”

“That’s pn;y about a year in jail!” he exclaimed. “How did he get so little time?”

Terrance sighed, “He got more time for the destruction of the limo than trying to kill Mr. Milton, I’m afraid.” The spaniel chuffed in frustration, “The jail didn’t even see fit to warn anyone he’d been released.”

Ralph took that all in and sighed. “Any idea where he might be now? I think I really want to speak with him.”

“Not for sure,” was the reply. “I’ve been doing some digging, though. He dropped off the map after being forced out of PETA, seemed that he became too radical even for them. Then he surfaced here, but no one was really keeping track of him. I looked for a last known address and came up empty.”

“So it’s a dead end, again?” asked Ralph grimly.

“I didn’t say that,” he replied, his voice more chipper. “Seems his parents used to own a vacation cabin out in the hills north of town. 604 West View Drive.”

Ralph blinked, then looked at the key in his hand. Then he looked around for the fox. “Where did he go?”

**

“How did you find out who I was?” asked King. He was still bound on the floor next to Fox. The husky was in a lot of pain, but he was alert and obviously looking for a solution. King wasn’t sure what either them would be able to do, but he had to wait for any opening he could find.

Orwell was almost giddy. “You might say a little raccoon told me,” he said. “You see, I still want to get rid of the Equal Chance Program, but my little attempt on Milton backfired. Not only did the little weasel survive, but he got good press out of it. It moved the needle in the wrong direction.” His expression darkened, “Even those idiots at PETA turned on me.”

King kept letting him monologue while he inched slowly into a better position to help Fox. If he could chew off the bonds on him, then Fox could go for help. Even injured, Fox would make better time in the woods. “So, why not leave them alone?” he asked. He took a moment to lay an ear against his friends chest and heard a gurgling sound whenever he took a breath. King realized that Fox was far more hurt that he was letting on, it sounded like he’d punctured a lung.

“Because the Miltons are the source of this sentiment!” he snapped. “Get rid of them, and it dies!”

King wanted to roll his eyes but held himself. Orwell was always a little nuts, but now he was clearly around the bend. “What does any of this have to do with me?”

“I was scouting the woods for a while, looking for a way into their Manor, when I found those strange ruins. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, until I stopped by one day and heard a religious service going on.” He got really animated, “I was afraid at first that they had been contaminated with some human religion, when I realized this was some cult centered around something called The Opener.”

King and Fox exchanged a look. They’d both heard about this, something to do with Zach and the ferals that Zach really never wanted to talk about. They also knew that it had something to do with the Temple. “Orwell, you ever heard of getting to the point?”

Orwell opened a wooded box on the table, “You recognize this, Joel?” He lifted out a scepter. It was about the size of a baseball bat, gold and green, with a large green jewel on one end. It had been battered pretty badly and was covered in dents and scratches.

King looked at it, and in all honesty shook his head, “Not a clue, pal. Not a clue.” Orwell stood up and started to make like he was going to kick Fox. King got more serious and shrieked, “No! I honesty don’t recognize it!” Now that it was closer, King could see the design on the side, which had once adorned the temple door. It was a gryphon and a dragon. “I recognize the artwork, but not the scepter!”

That seemed to satisfy Orwell and he moved away. “Good, then what it’s been telling me is true, then.”

“Telling you?” asked Fox. “It talks?”

“In a manner of speaking,” he admitted. “It’s like the memory of the gyphon.” He looked over at King, “And boy, did he hate your guts.” He held It aloft and spoke softly, “Its been telling me how to save the world.”

**********************

Ok, the name of the male cougar may seem slightly odd, but I was trying to riff off the name Pueblo and what natural features you might find in the same general area where you'd find an actual pueblo. I hit on Joshua Trees. Common around the American Southwest a bit away from where I grew up, though I camped at Joshua Tree National Park a few times as a Boy Scout. So I envision that his full name is actually "Joshua Tree", but decided that would look and get tedious to write out.

I also intentionally left out exactly how Orwell found Inks stash. I was writing it out, then it felt like King was rolling his eyes at me to get on with it. ;)

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Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:44 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Really wonderful job on this chapter! I really want Orwell to get the crap beaten out of him soon. :evil:

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Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:58 pm
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Post Re: Abduction
Things are converging pretty fast already, but I feel that this is still only the start. Also, the banter between Gale and Joshua was pretty adorable.

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Post Re: Abduction
Amazee Dayzee Wrote:
Orwell could end up with a beating that makes Fox's beatings of Bino look like playground roughhousing.


One can hope. Good job on this chapter. Nice use of Kitsune. I like the interaction between Joshua and Gale and how you’re keeping Terrance in the story. Keep up the good work!

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Post Re: Abduction
Nice job on this chapter! I like what you've done with Kitsune, it's satisfying to see him use his cleverness for a good cause. I also like Joshua, he's a cool dude :)

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Post Re: Abduction
Nathan Kerbonaut Wrote:
Nice job on this chapter! I like what you've done with Kitsune, it's satisfying to see him use his cleverness for a good cause. I also like Joshua, he's a cool dude :)


I've never really seen Kitsune as malicious, even when he's going a bit over the top in his pranks. Like what he did to Lester, he (I think) tried to teach him a lesson but didn't hurt him.

I'll attach a bit shorter next part here. I'm coming quickly to closing out this tale, but I want to edit the final bit first.

***************
Gale found the cabin quickly enough. It was like so many others around here, a simple structure to give the humans some comfort during the summer. Most were not set up well for winter. This one, by chance, she had been inside a few times. When she was a cub, the owners made a point of leaving it unlocked for animals to take refuge if need be. Her mother had taken her here a couple of particularly bad seasons.

Now, the place looked dark and foreboding. A dark cargo van was sitting near the front door. She briefly considered going through the front door, but decided against it. She didn’t know how many were in there, or even if this was the right place. She sniffed the air and felt the bitter smell of some artificial air freshener.

That made her even more suspicious. Humans never used that stuff up here.

She crept though the woods to the back of the cabin. When she was a cub, there had been an attic access door, something that could be used to get out if the place were buried too deep in snow to use the door. She found it right where she remembered, quietly climbed up the side of the building and slipped in.

In was dark, but her night vision was good enough to see with just the light of the moon through the door. She made as little noise as possible while getting into a position right over the living room. That’s when she heard it. It was King talking to some human. Using a claw, she started working loose one of the large plywood boards that made up the attic floor and living room roof. She didn’t want to tip her hand before she knew what she was getting into.

**

Ralph held a paw out on the dash of the police cruiser while it sped wildly off the old state highway that led up into the mountains. Usually, he’d have admonished the officer behind the wheel, human or not, to be careful. At this point, he felt like they were so close to the end of this that he couldn’t wait to get to this cabin.

A new flashing light came up beside them, then the motorcycle shot past like they were standing still. Lt. Lindberg, who had initially stayed behind at The Wolf house to wait for more information, seemed to think this lead was good enough to join them.

His phone rang again, “Terrance, you get the warrant?”

“No,” he said with frustration. “Judge Pickett is supposed to be at the courthouse for this kind of duty tonight, but he called out sick. They apparently forgot to assign anyone else.”

Ralph growled, “We need that warrant! If we go in without one, then this guy might get off!” He calmed himself. “Check the database and get Judge Beauregard’s address and get over there. He loves dogs, he’ll sign it. Then take a photo and get it to us.” He hung up. “I hate procedure sometimes,” he muttered.

The human driver shot him a look, “You do realize that if you sniff them out, then you can go in without a warrant, right?”

Ralph looked out the window at the passing landscape. “Yeah, but look at what that guy did to that stolen van. I think he’d got that covered.” He felt anxious as the small caravan of police vehicles drove past the range station.

They were almost there.

**

King stared at the man that he once thought was a friend. “Save the world? I can tell you that’s not the Pete that I knew.”

Orwell held the scepter aloft. “This has been telling me a lot and warned me that you’d lie to me.”

King shook his head, “I’m not even sure what I’m doing here!” he yelled. “If that’s going to save the world, then why do you need me”

Orwell walked over and grabbed the bound Corgi, roughly dropping him on the heavy oak kitchen table. For a second, it looked like he was going to strike him with the scepter, but he stopped. “I need you because this needs a sacrifice, and it specifically wanted you.”

“What?” he asked with a hush, he could see Fox straining even harder against his bonds now. “Pete was a self-absorbed, narcissistic monster, but even he wouldn’t have gone in for a sacrifice!” He struggled against his own bonds. “That thing is either lying to you, you don’t understand it. or it’s damaged!”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t take your word for it,” he said as he leaned in close to Kings nose. “You should be happy! In a few minutes, everyone is going to have what you have.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” asked King.

He held the scepter aloft, “This is going to use your life energy to do to the world what Pete did for you,” he said proudly. “No more humans! The animals will take back the Earth!” he said proudly.

“You’re going to make all the people disappear?” King asked, bewildered.

“Not disappear,” he said proudly, “but change. I’m going to do to everyone what Pete did to you.”

Fox coughed, “You’re going to make a world full of Corgis’?” he asked through clenched teeth.

Orwell turned on him, “No!” He paused, “At least, I hope not. But it’ll make everyone a random animal! Think of it! Everything will go wild again!”

“If that thing does that, you’ll kill thousands right away! Planes are going to crash! People… animals will die!” screamed King. “The survivors will just rebuild a different society!”

Orwell glared at the Corgi, “A few people will get hurt, but enough will survive. And by the time people recover from the shock, they’ll see the benefit of what I’m giving them. I’ll be a hero.”

“You’re insane!” King snapped. “Even at his height, I doubt Pete had that much power! And there’s no way that scepter has enough, even if you do drain my life away!”

“Again, Joel, you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe you.” He smiled, “I’m only sad that you won’t be alive to see it.”

King was afraid that Orwell was going to stab him with the decidedly blunt end of the scepter but was even more afraid when it started to produce a light show of its own. The cabin, up to now lit by only an old kerosene lamp, started to fill with green and gold light, with the occasional electric spark shooting off.

King closed his eyes. He knew he’d be reunited with Bailey someday.

**

Gale looked down with amazement at what she was seeing. It had to be the ravings of a lunatic, but King was most certainly playing along. Either the Corgi believed it, or he wanted his abductor to think he had.

She was curious where all this was going, but she was out of time. She tensed every muscle in her body. It was time to strike.

**

The police pulled up, no lights or sirens, to the edge of the clearing where the old cabin sat. There was a black van sitting near the front door, but the storm shutters were all closed. From more than thirty yards away, even the humans could smell the strong, chemical citrus smell.

Ralph cursed quietly. They weren’t going to get exigent circumstances without a lot of luck. The four human officers and four K9’s crept closer to the cabin, looking and sniffing for anything that would allow them to get into the cabin.

**************************

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Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:40 am
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