“Sir, Captain Sir! Rush and Bogut are down just outside of Minneapolis. Radar shows that the wolves are closing in.”
Captain Curry looked up from where he sat lacing up his shoe. He wasn’t yet sure if he could trust Private Barnes. The young recruit showed flashes of promise, but proved inconsistent so far in their time together. Of course, he knew that was what other said about him and his goddamn ankle. He pulled tighter on the lace to make sure his boots were secure around the surgically repaired joint.
“Can we take them out with rockets?”
“No, sir. They are not in range.”
“How far into the woods did those two go down?”
“Not far, sir. Only a few clicks. The satellite shows sparse trees for another few kilometers before the forest gets any denser. There’s a large field that borders the forest. Should make it easy to get low and find a good position.”
“Do we need to watch out for bobcats in the area?”
“No, sir. The wolves had a run in with them earlier this week and were chased off. This is a new area for them. My guess is they’re getting hungry, perhaps a bit desperate. It looks like there’s only nine left in the pack.”
“That’s not many. But we need to be careful; they took out that rogue group earlier this week. We don’t want to end up like that. Those mavericks should have been able to fend off the wolves, but they took them down. They’re wily animals, and cunning.”
“Sir, yes. That is true, sir.”
Captain Curry bent down again to double-check his boots. Everything looked good. On the inside, though, it still felt shaky. It was probably all just in his head, but the ankle he injured 3 years prior had never really seemed to heal properly. His team needed him to lead, though, and he wasn’t the kind of man to let a little lingering pain hold him back.
“Let’s go,” he said to Private Barnes.
A short time later, the drop ship zipped toward the field, Captain Curry and his band of warriors ready to jump in and save their squadmates from the vicious teeth and deadly claws of the wolf pack. The buzzing of the engine made it hard to hear anything, but as soon as they’d jumped to the earth and the ship turned away, the arena for the upcoming battle went silent. There was probably a family in the farmhouse adjacent to the field in which they’d landed. They might be the only spectators that night. But Curry and his warriors would save them from the same savage fate from which they needed to rescue Sergeant Bogut and Corporal Rush.
Curry’s ankle twinged, even landing in the soft grass field. He cursed it, wishing not for the first time that he’d opted for the bionic replacement. At the time he’d talked himself into believing that he could perform just as well with his real, natural body after he’d healed from the surgery. But he heard the whispers that went around HQ, people wondering if he would ever be the same run-and-gun officer who people thought would lead the warriors into a new era of dominance. But the people he’d worked with back then were gone, replaced by youngsters, newly enlisted, and guys like Bogut who might never see a battle again.
The team scurried across the field, taking up positions spread around the perimeter of the woods. Curry watched and saw the glowing green eyes of wolves circling. Their body language said exactly what Barnes had thought: they were scared and desperate, their pack had been decimated and they were just trying to hang on.
“On my mark, we try to take them down from here,” Curry said, flipping his mic live. “Barnes, Thompson, you take the shots. Lee, Landry, prepare to move inside. Three, two, one, mark!”
Several quick bursts of fire tore threw the woods, taking down branches and splintering trees. Curry saw the wolves duck and scatter, but a moment after the gunfire stopped, they were back.
“Not working from out here,” Curry said, “Lee, Landry, get in there!”
The two hulking big men crashed into the forest, barreling towards the pack of wolves who looked scared and more than a little unsure. Two of them, though, a light wolf and a dark one jump straight into the path of the two Staff Sergeants and raked them with their claws, sending the officers back a few steps. The pair of wolves tried to get a grip on the warrior officers with their long canine teeth, but Curry’s warriors rebounded from the initial assault and tossed aside the two animals brave enough to resist. The rest of their pack had already turned tail to find a new hunting ground.
Curry rose from his crouch and called for the drop ship to return. He hadn’t done much, but most of the time it was better to play to your strengths and use what worked. He recognized the wolves were too fast to hit from long distance, so they got up close and secured the victory from a meter away instead of seven.
Lee and Landry came back helping Bogut and Rush into the ship. They pulled away from the site and Curry was sure they all wished it could always be so easy. As the ship sailed back toward base, Curry noticed a large swell of clouds on the horizon and lighting slashing from them, torching the ground below. Thunder echoed in the distance. He sure hoped they wouldn’t have to ride through that to get home.