This night is for Nic.

There is a certain amount of cheering with a “whoop” and “fuck yeah” thrown in. The night hunt has begun.

“Target identified. Southwest. 120 degrees. Nine running on the east west road north of the large structure…”

Michael has the large pack he brought from behind the walls with him. Running out into the night earlier with the many behind him, he knew he had to expand his area to find food for this many. But with this many, he also knew he could trap prey easier. There just wasn’t much left in the area he hunted on night’s prior so he headed further out to look for and track down food in greater amounts. He knew he could always go into the surrounding buildings looking for the packaging that held food but he wanted to find a good hunting ground for a pack this size.

Running down a street with the loud sound of feet echoing in the night, Michael hears a roar in the sky above. It’s the same sound he heard many nights ago. He stops and looks in the direction of the rumbling. He feels uneasy not knowing what it is in the air above. He has his senses open to the other packs and has had several smaller packs join his this night. He hasn’t sent a call out for others to join yet wanting to find a suitable hunting ground before doing so. He stares into the starry sky feeling other packs in the area. The rumble is still a distance away but its appearance makes him anxious.

A buzzing sound from the sky mixes with a throaty growl. He looks up to see a bright stream of light pour downward toward the ground; some of it rebounding back into the air. He immediately loses his sense of one of the packs hunting in the area. They weren’t close but they weren’t far either. The roar grows closer. The buzzing sound accompanies another stream of light. His sense of another pack disappears. Michael knows that whatever is up there is somehow eliminating the packs.

He sends a message far and wide. Into the buildings, he sends. Abandon your hunt and seek a lair.

He directs his pack into an enormous building ahead. They race ahead into the night with a howl. He enters the building and presses into the interior going through several doors. The inside is sizeable with several levels. A large wooden floor sits in the middle with stairs going up in several places. He recognizes the objects by the stairs as places to sit. Looking upward, he sees many more. This location has no windows in the interior and is large enough to fit a pack ten times the size he has with him. Fortune has smiled on him with this find. This will be the perfect lair.

Outside, he senses other packs vanishing from his mind. He sends an image of the fire from above and the danger. Hide, he sends. And then come.

The night’s hunt has been good even though it just started. Her pack has eaten well during the previous nights, filling up the reserves they burned getting to the area. The aches and pains from the long travel have faded with the success of the hunts. She has had a few quick glimpses of the strong one she came to this area for but she is still cautious about approaching. Her young one weighs heavily on her mind. She knows that having her own pack will allow her to provide. She doesn’t want to become just another pack member. She knows she would be treated well and have food because she is carrying a young one, but caution keeps her where she is.

The image sent comes abruptly. She has had a sense of the other strong one for most of the night but the hunt has taken precedence. Into the buildings, the image says. Abandon your hunt and seek a lair. The message startles and confuses her as she doesn’t perceive any danger. She hears a slight rumble from far away but doesn’t associate the foreign sound with the danger the message indicates.

She ‘hears’ another message. It’s one of danger from fire above. The message conveys the danger of the sound she faintly hears. Hide. And then come. The ending message says. She turns in the direction of the one she senses. She can only feel him from this distance because of his strength. She begins to run through the night in his direction. She will come.

“Three targets. East. 080 degrees. Two targets on the east-west road. One south of the warehouse building and one a half mile further east. One additional target on the north-south road a half mile south between the two groups. Target one is a group of six, target two a group of eight, target three a group of four,” Robert announces. “Engage target one.”

I see the groups he is talking about and set up an orbit on the group of six. The screen is filled with the white bodies of night runners in the area. They have been all over. I had no idea there were so many and this is definitely what they call a target rich environment. I look out to see the now familiar stream of fire exit our aircraft. Looking back to the screen, I see the tracer rounds dance among the shapes. They fall unmoving. I start toward the larger group of eight. I watch as they turn and vanish into a nearby building.

“Target two in the rectangular building. Target three also vanished into the small square building to the south,” I hear Robert say.

I look to see the scope pan out to capture a larger area. The once target rich environment has disappeared. There is only an image of one night runner vanishing into a building. What the fuck? I think. That happened all at once. I open up to see if I can sense anything but only detect a few below. We’re almost a mile up so I can’t “see” very far out. I can, however, clearly distinguish a couple farther out. There is strength in those ones. I don’t really know how to explain the feeling but that’s the impression I get. There are some still below us. Images of fear and confusion enter my mind. I shut back down to concentrate on flying.

“Switch to the 105. Take the buildings out where they went in,” I tell Robert.

“Okay, Dad,” he replies and begins another round of coordination.

We identify the buildings which erupt in white flashes on our screens. We switch to taking out the other buildings in our area but stay vigilant for signs of other night runners on the streets. We only find two more packs the entire night. Weariness sets in as the night progresses but we systematically destroy all of the targeted buildings in the area. With dawn not far away, we turn north toward McChord. There is a lot less people on the roof of Cabelas but there are a few. I transmitted the info on the night runner packs as we engaged them but stopped when we concentrated on the buildings. We land and shutdown. Weariness has taken its toll but we are all smiling. Dawn arrives and we stumble to our vehicles to head back home.

I give a quick briefing on our action before trudging off to bed. Today, I will sleep and it’s hopefully a coma- like sleep that lasts through the night. I’m exhausted. Tomorrow we will cover where we are and what needs to be done. There is also the fact that time is running out to search for the rest of the families. My mind doesn’t allow these thoughts to take hold before I drift off into a dreamless sleep.

I feel a shaking and it’s a while before I realize it’s someone trying to wake me. I am barely able to open one eye but make out Lynn standing over me.

“Jack, wake up,” she says.

“I had better be on fire,” I say hearing my voice as if at a distance.

“Come on, Jack, wake up,” she says again.

“I don’t really want to do that just now,” I answer.

“Okay, Jack, you’re on fire,” Lynn says.

“Fine, just roll me over then,” I say but my mind has now caught up to my barely open eye. “What time is it?”

“Time for you to get up. You’re going to want to hear this,” she says.

“No, I’m actually not,” I say but rise to a sitting position anyway. “Okay, what is it?”

“There’s someone calling on the radio. Seriously, shake yourself out of it and come downstairs,” Lynn says planting her hands on her hips.

I know this is her ‘I’m being serious move’ and does more to wake me than anything else. I ignored that posture once. That will never happen again.

I make my way wearily down to the radio. Squelch breaks from the speaker and I hear a voice calling, “This is the USS Santa Fe on UHF guard. Anyone read?”

Вы читаете Awakening
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату