Chapter 2: Prisoner of War
Wolf Base B
The flash from the back side of the mountain lit up the sky and shocked them into action. The concussion didn’t arrive for another few minutes, and by then the mushroom cloud was rising into the sky.
Four of the team fell to the ground right after the flash lit up the night sky like noontime, shifting to wolf form and howling their loss into the sky. Their mates and young were back in the caves, and were now gone. Red, Joe, Mike and Billy would be useless for a while until the shock wore off.
“What the hell was that” yelled Renee at her second, Andy, as they dove for cover in the command trench. “It could have been a small nuke, but I can’t see them using one on their own soil, so I bet it was a MOAB.”
“Mother of All Bombs. It was designed back during the first Gulf War to take out underground command bunkers and storage facilities. It’s the largest conventional bomb ever made. It’s so big you have to use a...” He smacked the wall in frustration. “It’s delivered by cargo plane, it’s too big to drop from a bomber or fighter.”
“Fuck... they went after our caves.” Renee shuddered at the thought of what just happened.
A cry of “Jet coming from the East” got heads back in the game. They could see the single aircraft approaching supersonic at low altitude, it was an F-15E Strike Eagle. Renee jumped up on the nearby log and yelled, “The bastards are going after the survivors! Doug, Jerry- use the Stinger, shoot it right down his throat as it passes over. Everybody else, gear up and hide out until he passes. MOVE!”
Eagle 31 out of Cheyenne Air National Guard Base
Captain Gary Johnson’s heart rate was elevated as he approached the northern Rocky Mountain area. The plan so far had gone perfectly, the massive bomb had been delivered within a hundred yards of the cave entrance and drone video showed massive devastation in the area. He and six other F-15E Strike Eagles were the next wave- going in fast and low, using their Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and laser guided bombs to find and eliminate any survivors. The intel they had did not disclose if there were any escape routes or other entrances to the cave system they had identified.
The job was a rush. Competition to get the Eagle was fierce, starting at the Air Force Academy and continuing through flight school, but he always got what he wanted. There was nothing in the world like doing MACH 1.2 just a few hundred feet off the top of the mountains. It was an adrenaline rush of major proportions. They could only do it in remote deserts and Were exclusion zones, and it scared the crap out of any living thing in the forests below.
His concentration was fully on the navigation and terrain avoidance portions of his Heads Up Display. Low altitude flight was dangerous, and the Were were known to have .50 cal machine guns, so speed was safety. His focus was so strong on the maneuvers needed to avoid the next two mountains that he didn’t notice the FLIR indications of a dozen or so spots of heat just below the top of the next foothill.
The missile DID get his attention as it launched at 10 o’clock low. He had less than two seconds to impact, and a second of that was wasted as he recognized that it was too late to do anything. His right engine exploded as he tried to bank away, and just before the jet rolled into the mountainside he pulled the eject lever and was launched into the night sky. He was knocked out before he cleared the fireball.
“I got you you bastard!!!” Doug shouted as the plane exploded over him.
Debris scattered on the mountainside as the fuselage slammed into the hillside just to their north. Multiple fires started as the squad gathered whatever equipment they could carry. Everyone knew that the crash would bring all kinds of attention from planes, drones and troops. They needed to bug out quick. “Chute!” Andy pointed to the pilot just before his parachute caught in the trees just a hundred yards below their position.
A shout of “Medic up!” sent Ann over to check Joe. He was trapped below a thick branch, and it took three of them to free him. His leg was obviously broken, and she quickly applied a field splint and got Red to take him in a fireman’s carry back to the rest of the squad.
Renee called everyone to form on her as they worked their way down to the chute. A captured pilot opened up all kinds of possibilities.
Two minutes later they had the pilot cut down, still unconscious. “Is he alive?” Renee asked. Ann quickly checked him over, finding no major injuries, but his pupils were not reactive indicating a concussion. “Strip him. He probably has homing devices on him.” Another minute later and he was lying on the ground in his compression shorts.
“Boss, what do you want to do with him,” asked Andy. “We’ve only got fifteen minutes or so before the rescue team shows up with all their air cover, maybe less for any other jets they have up there.”
Renee thought about just killing him, but the intelligence and propaganda value of a pilot was too much to give up so easily. “Tie him up and put him on the field stretcher, we’ll carry him out of here. If we get lucky we’ll make the dense woods on the back side of this pass before the rescue helicopters make it.” Jerry took off for his tent, it doubled as the medic shack and their only stretcher was there. “OK, everyone check each other for shrapnel and shout out if you are injured. Ann, how is Joe?”
“Broken left femur. I’ve got it splinted, but it’s bleeding internally and moving him is a bad idea. Jerry and I can hide him and wait this out. I’ll do what I can to make him comfortable, but without surgery he still might not make it until morning.”
“No!” Joe lifted his head up and looked in Renee’s eyes. “You’re not risking two more people for me. My cubs and mate are gone. I have nothing left to go back for. You guys take off and I’ll give you a little time to escape, and maybe I can get a little payback.”
Renee thought about it, and a plan came to mind, but they had to hurry.
155th Air Force Pararescue Wing, Cheyenne Air National Guard Base
“GO GO GO! Aircraft down!”
Capt. Jay (JJ) Jennings did final checks for rollout of his HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter as his crew sprung into action. His bird was the lead of two “Ready 5” helicopters, able to take off within five minutes of notification of a downed pilot or medevac. The base was closest to the Were territory, so they had two helicopters ready anytime there were pilots in the air or troops in the exclusion zone. Saluting the ground crew, he released the brakes while pushing the collective lever down to send max power to the engines. “Pedro 155, ready for departure.” Immediately Capt. Robinson in the second helo followed with “Pedro 162, ready for departure.” The tower immediately responded with clearance to 10,000 feet heading 260 and they were off.
Each helicopter was designed and manned for one purpose- to get people out while under enemy fire. The two pilots commanded a crewmaster, two door gunners and two pararescue men. These pararescumen were elite, highly trained warriors capable of securing a landing zone under fire. They also were flight medics with advanced training and equipment. The Pedro’s mission was to get people out, stabilized and into a field hospital within the “Golden Hour” after injury when the chances of survival are highest.
The pilots were updated on the emergency beacon location as they climbed to altitude. Both the pilot and the ejection seat had a radio beacon that activated with the ejection seat deployment. The satellite showed the pilot wasn’t too far away, and not too deep into enemy territory; they had been through worse in the early days. The door gunners test fired their weapons and the medics prepped blood and IV’s while the crewmaster tested the door winch. Ten minutes later, Capt. Jennings pointed at the fires from the wreckage were in sight and announced they had a visual on the beacon from the ejection seat.
Pedro 162 was the backup on this mission, so it circled the crash area at altitude while Pedro 155 headed for the beacon. A flare shot up from the dense trees just before they arrived, and soon 155 was hovering over the downed pilot. The canopy was too dense for landing, so they lowered the penetrator down through the trees. The penetrator was a weighted fold-out seat designed to drop through brush and trees. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to ride, but it had been proven effective in Vietnam.
They watched as the pilot crawled over to the penetrator and opened the arms to sit around it. “Looks like he injured his leg, he isn’t putting weight on it.” A minute later he was in the helicopter and was being laid back on the stretcher. No one recognized the satchel charge clipped to his flight gear in time, and they couldn’t stop his hand from reaching the pull cord. “You fuckers can burn in hell for what you did to my family...”
Pedro 155 exploded in midair.
Pedro 162 immediately called for assistance but did not approach as it didn’t know what had taken out the other helicopter. No one was looking on the back side of the mountain as the squad made its escape.
It would be a week before the bodies were recovered and DNA results could show that Captain Johnson’s body wasn’t Captain Johnson.
Woods west of Pack Cave
Derek and Amanda shifted back to human form as they pushed the branches off them and looked around. Rising unsteadily, they resorted back to mental communication as their ears were still ringing from the sound of the explosion. After verifying his mate was not injured, Derek started sifting through the pack bonds to see who was gone. He quickly figured it would be faster to count those who were left.
His once proud pack was down to thirty-three. Checking in with each, he verified they were OK and directed them to return to him as soon as possible. The realization of the loss crushed them both. No one in the caves or surrounding area was still alive. He could still feel the two squads out on patrol and the squad who was scouting out a new area for a base camp, but no one else.
He shifted back, jumped on the nearest rock and let out a mournful howl, joined in his loss by Amanda’s howl.
No one answered.
They loped off to the top of the mountain to see what was left.
Mountains east of the Pack Cave
The fog was slow to lift from Capt. Gary Johnson’s mind, so it took him a while to figure out what was going on. His head throbbed and his eyeballs felt like they were popping out of his head. He couldn’t see a thing, but he could feel the blindfold on his eyes. He felt he was moving, he could hear the footsteps, it felt like a stretcher. He started doing inventory with his toes and worked his way up. Everything else seemed OK but his arms and legs were tied to the stretcher along with a couple ropes around his waist. It kept him from moving, but also kept him from sliding off as he was carried roughly across the uneven terrain.
Fucked. That’s what he was. Well and truly fucked. He’d been captured, something no pilot ever wanted, but he was captured by people who were going to be royally pissed off at what had just happened. People whose families had been killed. Sure, he’d taken SERE training, the Air Force had mandatory Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training since Vietnam. All that evasion training didn’t help now.
“Water! Please, water! Put me down!”
A female voice told them to take cover under an outcropping, and dispatched three to set up a perimeter. He was roughly set down on the rock. His stretcher bearers were grumbling about the interruption, they wanted to toss him over the nearest cliff. The Alpha wanted this guy for questioning and that was the only reason he hadn’t been torn to shreds already.
“I’ll give you a good watering.” He heard a zipper going down.
“MIKE!” The female voice again. “You are to care for the prisoner until relieved. Show some fucking discipline before I beat it into you.” Mike lowered his head and pointed his dick downhill instead. Meanwhile, the other guy had pulled a canteen out of his pack and was pouring a little water into his mouth. “Billy, keep an eye on him. We’ve got forty miles ahead of us before we start thinking about revenge.”
“Ten minute break and then we continue on.”
OK, so it’s Billy up front and Mike in back. Renee must be in charge. Keep focusing, if you get out of this Intel will want to know everything. He could hear a couple other people moving around. Maybe six or seven all together.
That was it; Renee had sent her second in command Andy, along with Jerry’s brother James and cousin Doug to scout ahead in wolf form. Renee was left with Jerry and team medic Ann, Red, Mike and Billy. The last three had all lost mates in the cave attack, plus Mike lost his 13 yr old son Matt and daughter Amanda. Having Mike and Billy on stretcher detail was a calculated risk, she was hoping the need for retribution would hold off any suicidal thoughts until they got back to the rest of the Pack. They needed everyone alert and on the job to make it back. Now that the sun was up, the infrared on the drones and aircraft didn’t work so they could move faster. You still had to plan your movements to keep under cover and not draw a Hellfire missile on top of you, and they were slower in human form. They needed to carry the gear and the prisoner, so it might take a few days. So far, so good... she could tell from the explosion and aircraft traffic behind them that Joe had done his pack proud. There was no indication their retreat had been spotted.
They had been in a fast march or jog for the last four hours and it was getting to her. She took a long drink, ate a few pieces of dried meat, then got everyone up and moving again. She wanted to make ten more miles by nightfall.
Hilltop Hide above the Pack Caves
Derek and Renee had dug in below a fallen log in view of the valley and caves that used to be their home. They could hear the Predator drones circling above with their sensitive wolf hearing, and they stayed in wolf form through the day and the next night, monitoring the area and sleeping in shifts in case any survivors made it back to the area. The advance team from Renee’s squad had arrived just before moonrise, and took up a position on the other side of the valley. So far there was no indication of survivors. The trees and vegetation were pretty much wiped clean within five hundred yards of the cave, and were blown flat all the way up the hills. The cave entrance and a few of the passages had collapsed under the incredible pressure and heat of the explosion. Nothing could survive, and nothing was left to bury. It was as if those seventy one members of those family had never existed.
Derek used his bond to get the updates on Renee’s progress. She had done well with the pilot capture, that was about the only positive thing out of all this. They needed to find out how much the military knew about them, and how they knew it. The bomb was too close to the cave entrance to be chance, and you wouldn’t use something that big unless you knew it was a deep cave system. They would get their intel from him and then they would get their revenge. Derek wasn’t worried about Geneva Conventions or POW rules; why give quarter to an enemy who denied your very humanity, and killed your people on sight? His wolf agreed; if he could make the people who did this die a thousand deaths beneath his teeth it still wouldn’t be enough.
The next morning, the military damage assessment team arrived. Derek and his four pack mates stayed well hidden while the squad moved through the valley. The damage was pretty easy to assess since everything was gone, and they soon left. Derek directed the remainder of his pack to the newly discovered cave ten miles to the north, then he and the others left the old caves behind at nightfall, moving in pairs and by different routes in case they were spotted.
When they arrived, Renee’s squad was there and the pilot was hanging from his arms by chains set into the rock, and guarded by two men. He was alive, he was bruised and scratched but no major damage. He was gagged and blindfolded since it would keep him off balance until the interrogation could start.
The interrogation didn’t take too long. The pilot admitted he was on a mission to wipe out survivors, and it wasn’t the first time he had attacked. He didn’t know where the intel came from, and Derek could sense he wasn’t lying. If he thought confession would gain him mercy, he was wrong. If he thought he was going to be traded, he wasn’t aware that the only Were in captivity had just been tortured to death a few days earlier. Derek and his pack wanted blood, and blood they would get.
The punishment Derek had in mind harked back to the days of the British Navy. When someone needed to be made an example of, they would use “Flogging Around the Fleet.” If you had 21 lashes coming and there were ten ships in the fleet, they would tie you to the mast of the ship and lash you twice in front of the crew. Then you would be taken to the next ship for your next two, and so on, until in the end every sailor witnessed you receiving your punishment. In this case, the pilot would stay in place while all the surviving family members and pack rotated through their their chance to get up close and personal with their revenge.
Derek gathered them all in the main cabin and laid down the rules. The pack would go in reverse rank order, beginning with the Omegas and ending with him. Each adult (or oldest surviving child of the family) was allowed one bite or slash, but nothing fatal. In between, the pack healer or medic would stop the bleeding, and ensure he was conscious enough to feel the next attack. It just wouldn’t do for him to die before everyone had their chance.
Twenty had already had their turn by the time Renee was at the front of the line. Captain Johnson wasn’t looking so good by now. Bite wounds and long claw furrows covered his body. A Beta who lost her two pups and mother had swiped diagonally across his groin, slicing open his scrotum and cutting a gouge out of the end of his dick before ending on his hip. There had been a slight delay while that got stitched up, and Derek reminded everyone about the rules.
Seeing the wounds already there, Renee changed her plan for how her revenge would go. She doffed her T-shirt and shorts and walked naked up to within a few feet of him, hiding the bottle of rubbing alcohol behind her back with her left arm. “Ooh, you are such a good looking man! I bet all the women at the Officer’s Club wish they could sleep with you.” Gary couldn’t believe that the voice he heard, the commander of the group that captured him, belonged to this absolute knockout of a woman. His bloodshot eyes took in her ample breasts, her taut stomach and the movement of her hand over her sex. His mind ignored the pain as the lust came forward, she was PERFECT. “I’m going to have to remember this for tonight,” she said as she moved a finger slowly between her folds.
Her exhibition had the desired effect. His cock started to harden, despite the wounds, and this caused him to scream in pain and she hadn’t even touched him yet. He kept screaming as she licked her juices off and twisted her nipples, and his growing erection stretched the stitches and scabs beyond their limits. No matter what he did, the image of her naked and aroused before him wouldn’t leave his mind. “Oh, I’m sorry, did that hurt? I do believe you tore something open. Please, let me help. I wouldn’t want you to get... infected.” With an evil smile, she brought her left hand out front and saw that fear in his eyes as he recognized what it was. He strained mightily against the chains but was unable to move out of the way as she squeezed the bottle and sprayed the contents over his torso.
The interesting thing about rubbing alcohol is that it really doesn’t burn. It fools the nerves by changing the setpoint for their heat alarm, making the nerves behave as if you are burning even though the temperature is the same. Without touching him, she set every cut, every puncture, every scrape on fire. His scream reverberated through the cavern as she approached him closer. Leaning close to his ear after he stopped struggling and collapsed onto the chains, she pressed her body against his as she whispered, “Don’t worry, it’s almost over. Only one more person before the Alpha kills you. I just wanted you to know you... are...” and then she breathed in.