Dust, Blood, and Fur Part One.
#2 of Dust, Blood, and Fur
He remembers an explosion. He was unsure of its origin; it could have been an attack, an escape attempt from that god forsaken â€˜re-education' camp, or it could have just been dumb luck. He just remembers a hole in the wall, and his mind...his feral instincts...yelling at him, "Run!" And he did. He forgot for how long, but the sun was starting to rise when exhaustion finally got to him. His adrenaline fueled sprint slowed to a slow, clumsy jog. His lungs burnt, his blood ran as acid, yet a part of him was screaming, "Don't stop! Don't fucking give up!" But then he looked down at his chest. What was once proudly covered in fur was now blood encrusted and dripping, once healed wounds reopened. Blood loss was getting to him. He came to a stop, and he just stared. He stared down the direction he wanted to run: over the wastes of what used to be lush forests, but was now war-torn and devoid of life. But he had to run. He had to get away. He tried to jog a little ways, but fell to all fours. His growing determination picked him up, but his waning strength only got him a few feet. If he can't run, he can certainly crawl. His crawling only got him a few more feet before he collapsed onto the ground. He picked himself up a few inches before falling back to the dust. There was nothing now. He wasn't going to survive, to get revenge, to save his sister, to even see the downfall of Red Water. Then there was only death in his mind as he let darkness take him.
"Good morning Sergeant Lovecraft and Corporal Fredricks," a gentle, feminine voice called out. "It's seven AM and 68* outside with an Easterly wind."
Tanner Lovecraft rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. The dreams kept him awake again. He looked down at the long-healed scars on his torso. They focused on the torso, since they didn't want any of the scars to be visible when in uniform. They wanted a perfect army of soldiers, and they are close.
He was a mixed canine, or junkyard dog, which is the epitome of a mutt. Generations of interbreeding within the canine species left few details of his ancestry, but made him the definition of a â€˜Cultural Melting Pot.' His most dominant traits are as some sort of collie (Border, it seems), but with some walker hound, Doberman, and German Shepherd qualities thrown in. Black and white fur covered his body where there weren't any scars, and he had the build to his body that one would expect from a soldier.
Standing in the center of the room was a hologram of a female gryphon, the one who called them awake. "Hey, Keri. Anything new about the war?"
"Commander Jenkins and her squad were able to successfully sabotage a supplies delivery. Other than that, nothing new has happened, Sergeant."
He had to chuckle at her calling "Sergeant." It was a quick promotion, but he has proven himself since he started. He still has yet to get used to being called by his title and not his name. The most unusual thing about his title is that he isn't really in the military, and yet these rebels use the ranking system of the military.
Soon after the dog was dressed, his roommate woke up, albeit not completely. The leopard simply grumbled and rolled away from the light emanating from the hologram. "Get up, you lazy fuck!" the hologram called out in a far from feminine voice. The loudness and harshness of this call caused the feline to jump from his bed. "Thank you," Keri said, back in her soft feminine voice.
"Gah, fuck you, Keri," Trevor muttered as he rose to his feet, nursing his head.
"Physically impossible, Corporal. If it were, I'd say no."
"Heh, they updated her with a sense of humor," Tanner mused. "C'mon, get dressed. We got a big day ahead of us."
Though they tended to employ hit-and-run guerilla tactics and sabotage, some times called for a direct approach. This was one of those times. A headquarters south of the city has been found and is currently under siege. Tanner and his unit were coming in from the West of an artillery placement while two more teams were coming in from the North and South West. Adequate forest cover would hide their advance. They would draw fire as the rest of the squad would come in and finish them off.
He militaries tactics were predictable enough, but both sides wanted to finish this skirmish before Red Water gained knowledge of it. Their tactic was to wait for the battle to be over, and then wipe out whoever was left. Knowing this, they had to work quickly on this placement then make their way to the headquarters to help defend or dismantle it.
Tanner led his unit through the forest. There were eight including himself: Four riflemen, two machine gunners, a sniper, and a light artillery. The sniper covered their advance from a treetop. He and the other three riflemen assumed a closer position, while the machine gunners and the light artillery laid suppressive fire. The sniper would take high priority targets, like anyone who may start lobbing explosives in their direction.
"Fire-squad one in position and awaiting orders."
Soon after came fire-squad two and three, then the go-ahead for his team.
"Coordinates set, Commander!" A wolf called out as he prepared another shot.
"Alright... Fire!" At the sound of the cannon, the commander fell to the ground. The shock of seeing their commander drop in front of them bought Tanner a few more seconds of suppressing fire. "We're taking enemy fire! Call in support!" That plan wasn't available after a rocket destroyed their communication tent.
"Fire-squads two and three, move in!" Tanner called out over the comms.
"Fire-squad three, taking heavy fire!" came back from their end. "We have visual of a pair of tanks!"
"Squad three, deal with the tanks! Squad two, proceed as planned!"
"Copy that," a calm voice said over the comms. A team of twelve came from the Southwest and opened fire on the placements.
"Advance on target!" Tanner ordered. He led the charge into the camp and took cover behind a concrete barrier. After reloading, he came out of cover and laid suppressive fire as a rifleman prepared to destroy the artillery with explosives.
About halfway on his way, the horse fell to a shot to his knee. "Fuck, Calvin! Get to fucking cover!" Calvin prepared to move to cover when a burst of fire ripped through his chest. "Goddamnit! Alright, cover me!" He took a runners position before darting over to the downed horse, unloading the rest of his clip into his enemies along the way. He kneeled next to him and pulled him the last few feet to cover. "Alright, Cal. You're gonna be fine." At that moment, he noticed one of the shots went through the soldier's neck. There was no return from that. "Alright, just sit still, I'll be back buddy."
The horse nodded and held his neck, and Tanner cursed to himself as he left his friend to die. With the explosive package in paw, he charged to the artillery and took cover behind it. Attracted all enemy fire to him.
"Fuck," he muttered to himself. "This might hurt." With that, he darted from the safety of the artillery piece to cover with Calvin again. Swearing the entire time he ran, Tanner finally slid behind cover next to the dead horse and prepared the detonator. A flick of a switch, a press of a button, and a satisfying explosion later, the cannon was reduced to smoldering rubble.
It wasn't long after the destruction of the cannon that the rest of the soldiers surrendered. There were only two left, and both came out unarmed. "Don't shoot! We give! We give!"
Tanner came closer to the two and leveled his pistol at them. "On your knees, hands behind your head!" They complied and dropped to their knees. Trevor made his way to the camp, sniper rifle slung across his back. "So, we won?"
"Yeah. Come help me with these two, and Gerald." A bull came up to them, also with his machinegun slung on his back. The two held their prisoner's paws behind their backs as Tanner tied them with riot cuffs. "Alright, now stay. We gotta make a call."
Tanner walked away and went on the comms when another shot rang out. He turned and drew his pistol to see the leader of fire-squad two as he executed one of the prisoners. The other looked in disbelief and tried to crawl away. "No, please!"
"VINCE!" Tanner called out a second to late to save the second one. A long trail of blood and brain matter was in font of the two prisoners. "What the fuck, Vince?"
"How could I tell if they weren't being tracked," the lion asked, his tone as calm as ever.
"They fucking surrendered!"
"And what would we do with prisoners? Hmm? Keep them as toys? Torture them until they broke? If anything, I gave them the easy way out."
"You fucking asshole..." Tanner snarled. "You've pulled some cold shit, and how you get away with it beats me." He walked up to the killer. "But I'm fucking done with it. I've had it with you. Either shape up, or I show you what they taught me at Red Water."
"I can't wait to see you try," the lion replied with a smug grin.