Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group) (8 page)

BOOK: Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group)
3.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Did our per diem get raised when I wasn’t looking?” Carter
wandered through the lavishly appointed suite, admiring every inch of it. As a
boy, he’d dreamt about staying at the El Tovar hotel even though he never truly
believed it would happen. Considering the clientele they served, he was lucky they
let him into the lobby.

“Nope. This is all Julian’s doing. He worked his cyber magic
and… Poof. Instant reservations, paid in full.” Even someone trying to blow
them up didn’t dampen Han’s spirits.

Tearing himself away from the magnificent view off the
balcony, Carter forced himself to join the rest of the group as Myrine began
laying out their plan.

“We’ll head out immediately after sunset. If we can catch
them by surprise, this will go a lot easier for everyone.”

“That might be a problem,” Carter said. “They’ll be
expecting an attack in retaliation for their raid on my village.”

“I’m sure they will, but they’ll be expecting the Havasupai,
not us. Han, did you get anything from Ranger Christner?”

Han grabbed his tablet and nodded. “Yeah. She sent directions
to a place we can stash our cars and a rough drawing of their village. She’s
been there several times and knows the layout pretty well.” Han placed the
tablet on the ornately carved dark wood coffee table so everyone could see.

“They’re definitely isolated, so that’s a plus,” Myrine
said. “But they have easy escape routes in almost every direction. We’re going
to have to surround them before we make our presence known.”

The plan, if it could be called that, was simple. Each
member of the Omega Group would come at the Yavapai village from a different
direction. If they encountered any resistance, they were to quietly subdue and
restrain using non-lethal force. Their sidearms, all they had left after the
jet crashed, would be loaded with the rubber bullets Myrick had found at a
local army surplus store. Tranquilizer guns, another handy surplus store
purchase, would be used should the Yavapai get any ideas about shifting into
their bear forms.

With a quick glance out the window at the setting sun, Myrine
addressed the team. “Is everyone ready?”

Mumbles and nods to the affirmative were the only responses
as the members of the Omega Group went through their final weapons check. Their
confidence, well earned over the years, was apparent in their casual postures
and light small talk.

Carter, for the first time that he could remember since
joining the team five years ago, didn’t share their certainty. Although their
target was a simple village, its occupants were anything but. Even without
their newfound shape-shifting abilities, they were formidable. Being reviled by
all their peers for generations gave them an edge that couldn’t be dismissed.


Without the benefit of their communications gear, Carter had
no way of knowing the status of his teammates. He only hoped the silence
surrounding him meant their advance had been unimpeded.

They’d set up their target area like a pie chart split into
perfect thirds. Their ten-person team was divided into three groups, each
assigned to one piece of the pie. Before leaving their vehicles in the area
recommended by the ranger, two of the teams were dispatched as close to their
designated areas as possible.

 Carter had almost reached the outer perimeter of the
Yavapai village. Although he couldn’t see them in the low light created by the
crescent moon, he knew Han and Jackie would be in position on either side of
him. He could picture the whole team in his mind’s eye tightening the circle
around their target. If all went well, they’d have the village secured and all
of its occupants rounded up before they had the chance to organize.

He couldn’t help but think about Gina. She would be in the
village, as unsuspecting as the rest of her tribe, and could easily be hurt.
His team might be using rubber bullets and tranquilizers, but the Yavapai
wouldn’t be. If anything went wrong—and things almost always went wrong—she
could be caught in the crossfire.

The sound of a twig breaking off to his left stopped Carter
mid stride.
Definitely not Han.
It was too close, and Han would never be
that careless. Inching his way toward the source, Carter felt his adrenaline
level rise. The hairs on the back of his neck stood as more sounds made
themselves apparent.
Is that music?
It was muffled, but as he closed in
he could hear the distinctive beat of a rap song.

He kept the trunk of a large tree between himself and
whomever was unlucky enough to choose tonight to wander off alone in the woods.
Carter pulled his tranquilizer gun out of its holster and leaned against the
tree. He peeked around the side of the tree and raised his weapon.

You have got to be kidding me.

Ben, the older, and less intelligent, brother of the boy
Carter had pulled off the cliff at Mooney Falls stood four feet away, tapping
his foot to the beat of whatever song was playing on his iPod. He zipped up his
pants, after relieving himself on an unfortunate sapling, and turned in the one
direction he shouldn’t have.

Carter couldn’t help but smile as his finger tightened on
the trigger. He’d been wanting to shoot this kid since the moment he met him,
not necessarily with tranquilizers. He watched the boy’s eyes widen in fear as
the weapon discharged, only to have the tranquilizer sail over the collapsing
kid’s body and lodge itself into a tree.

The scream that followed rivaled those of 1960s era horror
flicks. Carter ended it with a point-blank shot to Ben’s upper thigh.

“Son of a bitch! You shot me. You’re such an assho…” When he
lost consciousness, his head fell back to the ground.

Carter bent down to check the boy’s pulse. Although Ben’s
well-being wasn’t a high priority for him, his conscience won out. The smell
hit him almost immediately.
Unbelievable. I missed my first shot because you
slipped in your own piss.

Small weapons fire filled the once silent air, and Carter knew
their plan had gone sideways because of one teenager’s small bladder.

Sprinting toward the village, Carter broke through the tree
line at the same time as Han. In an instant, he absorbed the scene around him.
The village was in utter chaos. Women screamed as they pulled their children to
their chests, frantically looking for somewhere safe. They had no way of
knowing that Carter and his team would never hurt them.

Firing as he ran, Carter watched as, one by one, the Yavapai
men fell to the ground. The rubber bullets wouldn’t do any serious damage, but
their impact, and the pain they caused, would keep them down.

The bears were another story. Carter saw three of the
Yavapai men begin to change. A well-placed bullet halted one mid-shift, but the
other two became snarling beasts a moment later.

Replacing his side arm with a tranquilizer gun, Carter took
The two shots he’d wasted on Ben were all the gun held and
he hadn’t reloaded before entering the fray. “Han!”

His friend took less than a second to size up the situation
and shot the bear closest to him behind its ear. The animal shook its head
violently from side to side but continued its charge at Carter. Han let loose
another shot that embedded itself a few inches behind the first. A couple more
strides and the bear was down.

The other one, however, swatted Han to the ground with one
enormous paw, then turned his attention to Carter. With no tranquilizers left,
Carter did the only thing he could. He ripped off his clothes, shifted to his
wolf form, and met the charging bear head-on.

Carter’s wolf was no match for the bear’s size, weight, and
strength, but his speed and agility gave him a chance. The bear lunged as
Carter jumped, its claws coming within a hair’s breadth of tearing through his
chest. The wolf’s jaws clamped around the bear’s thick neck, tearing the flesh
until he was thrown off. He hit the ground hard, but the metallic taste of the
bear’s blood on his tongue more than made up for a few bumps and bruises.

Crouching on all four paws, Carter waited for the bear to
come to him. It was taking its time, apparently having learned a lesson from
its last failed attack, and Carter thought for a moment that it had given up.
When it began its charge, Carter bared his teeth but didn’t move. He needed to
wait until the very last moment. His agility was only an advantage if the bear
didn’t have time to react.

Carter’s haunches shook with anticipation.
jaws flexed with the promise of torn flesh and blood.
His muscles tensed
in readiness.

Carter sprang from the ground just as the bear lifted onto
its hind legs. His trajectory was too low and he knew he was in trouble. The
bear raised its paw as Carter hurtled toward it unable to stop his forward
momentum. All he could do was pull in his paws, curl into a protective ball,
and brace for what would surely be searing pain.

But it wasn’t. Carter felt only the rush of wind as he was
yanked through the air. He could hear the bear’s angry roar as it gave chase
but had no control over his flight. Mirissa must’ve used her telekinesis to
save his ass… again. If she would only put him down, he might be able to
participate in the fight.

Carter’s forward motion stopped abruptly and he dropped to
the ground as though Mirissa had heard his thoughts.
Can she do that now?
bear, only a few yards away, closed the distance and was on top of him. But
instead of giving the killing blow, it just stood over him, gently swaying back
and forth. Carter’s brain didn’t put the pieces of the puzzle together until it
was too late. Four hundred pounds of flesh and fur collapsed on top of him as
the tranquilizers did their job.

Shifting back to his human form to gain the precious extra
inches he needed to reach air, Carter saw Mirissa standing over him. “Any
chance you can lift this thing off me?”

“No way! I’m pretty sure you’re naked under there and I
don’t want to see anything that’s gonna make me have to bleach my eyeballs.”

He’d almost missed her snarky sense of humor these last few
days. Almost.


The Yavapai, those still conscious anyway, were herded into
a clearing at the center of the village. Han and Myrick retrieved the sleeping
Ben from the woods and dumped him at the edge of the crowd. The disgusted looks
on each of their faces told Carter the kid was still soaked in his own urine.
The unconscious bears were left where they lay.

“Why haven’t they changed back to their human form?” Jackie

Carter shook his head. “You’ve been watching too many
movies. If they’re like the Havasupai, they need to make a conscious choice to
shift. Whatever form they’re in when they fall asleep, or are knocked out, is
the form they’ll stay in until they wake up and choose to shift.”

Jackie nodded, reloaded her tranquilizer gun, and moved to a
position where she could keep an eye on the slumbering beasts.

Carter searched the faces of the villagers cowering in front
of him. Gina wasn’t there. Nor was Lou, pee-boy’s younger brother. Without
knowing all the members of the tribe, he had no way to determine how many
people were missing. “Myrine, we need to keep a lookout. There are at least two
people unaccounted for.”

Myrine directed Ken, Asteria, Myrick, and Greco to positions
in the woods surrounding the village. She then addressed the crowd. “My name is
Myrine. I have no wish to see any of you hurt, but every member of my team has
been instructed to defend themselves by whatever means necessary should their
safety be threatened. If you cooperate fully, the guilty parties will be
removed and the rest of you can go on with your lives.”

“Who the hell do you think you are? We’ve done nothing

Carter recognized the Yavapai chief as soon as he stood.
Chief Istaqa, unlike most in his tribe, kept his
hair cut
short, and he still wore the same offensive necklace he’d sported for years.
Wolf’s teeth and claws were strung together and splattered with red paint to
look like blood. Carter knew they weren’t from Havasupai wolves, but the
symbolism was clear, and it set his blood to boil.

Carter stormed through the crowd until he was face-to-face
with the chief. He called on his wolf to extend the claws on his right hand,
and used them to tear the necklace from the chief’s neck. It took every ounce
of his willpower to not do the same thing to the man’s throat. “You’ve done
nothing wrong? That’s all you’ve ever done, but this time you’ve gone too far.”

A sneer formed on the chief’s face. “I should have known you
would have something to do with this. It’s not enough that you violate our
women, now you spread lies about our tribe?”

“Lies? You —”

“Stop it! Both of you!” Gina’s voice cut through Carter like
ice water. She and Lou were being escorted to the group by an amused-looking

“I found these two on their way back to the village,” Myrick
said. “She didn’t get feisty until she saw you.”

His statement was accentuated when Gina tore loose of
Myrick’s grip on her elbow and stomped toward the villagers. “What the hell are
you doing, Carter?”

“What needs to be done,” Carter said through clenched teeth.
“Now sit down.”

 The flush on her cheeks turned three shades darker as
her temper flared. “Who do you think you are? You can’t —”

“That’s what I said.” The chief puffed up his chest, ready
to begin his own tirade, until Gina cut him off.

“You shut up too, Chief. I don’t know what you did to cause
all of this, but I will find out.”

The spark of anger in the chief’s eyes billowed into
outrage. “You insolent little bitch. How dare you speak to me that way?”

In a flash, Carter’s hand was wrapped around Istaqa’s throat,
pulling him close as he squeezed.

“Um, Carter? I think we might be getting a bit off track
here.” Han laid one hand gently on Carter’s shoulder.

His friend’s words slowly seeped through the rage that
enveloped him, and he loosened his grip, letting his hand drop to his side. The
chief buckled over, hands on his knees, gasping for air. Although Carter
regretted losing control like that, he couldn’t help but enjoy the chief’s
suffering just a little bit.

Gina spoke up, this time without the indignant attitude.
“What did he do?”

Carter took a deep breath to calm himself. “That’s what
we’re here to find out. Hikers have been disappearing for hours at a time, with
no memory of where they were or who they were with. Violence has skyrocketed
throughout the area. Something is very wrong here, Gina.”

“And you just assumed it was us?” Her irritation was

“Of course not, but as soon as our plane landed, one of your
guys opened fire on us. A few hours later your tribe raided the Havasupai
village. Then I get kidnapped and dragged here before two more of you tried to
blow us up on the side of the road. It wasn’t real difficult to connect the

The chief started blubbering about his innocence but was
silenced by a glare from Carter that said “speak and I will kill you where you

When he turned back toward Gina, he saw her eyes widen. Not
in fear as would be expected in this situation, but in what looked like shock.
When she finally spoke, she couldn’t even form a full thought.

“Oh my God,” she said. “I just assumed… I thought the
Havasupai were… How could I have let this happen?”

Carter walked over and placed his hands on her shoulders.
“Calm down, Gina. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.”

Before she could answer, a familiar voice came from the tree
line. “Am I too late?”

Carter stared as Greco walked a stricken-looking Bidzil
toward him. “This guy says he’s a friend of yours.”

Carter nodded. He could only imagine what the Havasupai
healer was thinking seeing him with his team, all holding weapons on the
Yavapai villagers. “It’s not what it looks like, Bidzil. None of them are
seriously hurt. We’re here to stop them from doing whatever it is that they’re

Bidzil let loose a sigh of relief. “Then I am just in time,
young one. You have been fooled.” He turned his attention to encompass everyone
there and opened his arms wide. “You have all been fooled. Your fight is not
with each other, nor is it with the Havasupai. We are all victims in this.”

Myrine came forward and introduced herself. “I understand
your wish to prevent any unnecessary violence, sir. I have always had the same
wish. But some, or all, of these people are the perpetrators of unnecessary
violence. They brutally attacked your own village, not to mention their
multiple attempts on my people’s lives.”

Gina finally found her voice. “The attack on your village
was in retaliation for the kidnapping of four of our men.”

“But we did not kidnap your men. Just as, I think, you did
not kidnap ours,” Bidzil said.

“But the man that shot at us at the airport was definitely
Yavapai. I don’t know his name, but he had a scar under his right eye the shape
of a crescent moon.”

Several people in the crowd gasped at his statement, and one
woman wailed an unintelligible cry. Gina looked at the chief, who had
thankfully stayed silent, then spoke to Carter. “That was Rick. He disappeared
more than two months ago. A few days ago, the day you arrived, I thought I saw
him in the woods by Long Jim Canyon. I tried to catch up to him, but he was too
fast. Then I heard the shooting coming from the airport. When I got there, he
was in his bear form and someone was shooting at him. I lost him again in the

Carter’s thoughts whirled through his mind. If what they
were saying was true, someone else had been pulling their strings this entire
time. Setting them up to blame each other.
I hate being a puppet.
Something still didn’t make sense. “How did you figure all of this out,

A self-deprecating smile decorated his face. “I didn’t. At
least, not on my own.”

BOOK: Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group)
3.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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