I had a dream. I was walking through a forest on all fours. I was one of my ancestors, a wolf. I was a grey wolf. I walked through a lush forest, thick with vegetation. There were trees that seemed to grow on for all eternity and not end. I kept walking along. I was alone in the entire forest, not a single living thing other than the plants. I kept moving and found a stream. I lapped up the water and then stopped, the river had turned into blood. I was covered in it. I tried to get it off of me the best I could but it stayed on me. It had the stench of death and it clung to my fur. Then I heard a female screaming.
I ran in that general direction and found a woman there. She was in her early thirties, had long, curly brown hair. She had the look of pure horror on her face as she looked at an object her hands, both she and what she held covered in blood. She then started screaming hysterically and embraced the object. She held it to her chest as she cried in horror and pain. I went closer to see what she was holding and she looked at me, tears streaming down her face. I saw what she was holding; it was her dead son. It was a child, covered in blood. Its lifeless body was limp and cold. I could feel its coldness without touching it. It wrapped my body with a pain that no one could ever know. The woman screamed at me, “Why! Why did you have to do this! Why!”
I ran away. I could feel the fear and coldness gripping my body. I ran as fast as my legs could take me. When I finished running I looked at me legs, I was human. I was in a void of pure white light. I looked around but to no avail. There was nothing. I was alone. I tried to run but I knew I was running nowhere. I began yelling to no one. I just screamed and yelled everything out. Every feeling and emotion that could possibly be felt I screamed out. I felt every emotion possible until all but two remained; lament and utter abandonment. When I finished I found only these words. I knew them for some time. I said them in a low tone, almost as a prayer.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega dog. I am the entire wolf pack.”
As I said these words, I transformed into a lupine. I had gained a dark grey coat with some streaks of white. I was about five feet and eleven inches tall. I had a fairly good muscular build and a look in my eyes that only a soldier after seeing his entire platoon die in front of him could have. I closed my eyes and opened them to find myself on a mountain ledge, overlooking the forest I was in. The trees did end. The river was still blood, but slowly becoming water again. There was a full moon out. I looked up at it, still a lupine, and howled. It was a deep howl of lament, love, anger, sadness, loneliness, and pure passion.
My eyes snapped open. I was alone in bed. I was naked, alone, and frightened from my dream. I was scared; my dream was all too real. I was dripping wet with cold sweat, my eyes showed the look of pure fear, my teeth were clenched, the fur on my neck was standing completely on end, and I was whimpering. Gen was next to me holding my arm and trying to calm me. I couldn’t hear her.
I had never felt a pain and coldness like I had in my dream. It was a feeling of total isolation and abandonment. It gripped me and choked every fiber of my being. It was worse than any death possible. My Gen was next to me trying to calm me. She had a worried look on her face. It took me some time to snap to that it was a dream. I wasn’t in that world anymore. I was in the real world. I looked at Gen and she caught me as I fell into her arms. I began to cry.
“It’s Ok now, it’s Ok.” She cooed. She was stroking my head.
“I was so scared. I was so alone…” I said.
“It’s OK now. Nothing can hurt you now.”
“I was alone, there was nothing but death around me. It was cold, so cold.”
“It’s not here anymore.” She was being very caring. She was extremely worried about me.
“I never felt that type of pain before. It was worse than death. I never felt…” I started to cry hard now. I couldn’t say anything, I could only let the tears run.
Gen let me cry on her. She put my head to her chest and started to rock back and forth as though I was a child. She stroked my head gently, reassuring me she was there. When I finished crying she looked into my eyes. She saw the hurt I had felt. She just kissed me softly and I began to tell her about the dream. I almost cried again when I got to the part where I was in the void. I kept going. She listened, quietly. When I finished she hugged me and pulled me close. I did the same. We sat there, embracing, for a sold ten minutes before we moved or spoke.
“Nothing is going to hurt you now.” She said, reassuring me.
“It hurt so much…” I began, she put her finger on my lips to quiet me.
“It’s alright, I’m here for you.”
She let me go so I could get dressed. I put all my clothes on quickly and we headed off to the showers. There were public showers in this building and we wanted to get there quickly before anyone else took up most of the hot water. It was still early. We showered quickly and got back to our room. It was the last day of our break. Tomorrow we would head out to rescue fellow soldiers. Intel told us that they were all secure and that they were not being harmed. Some were being interrogated but that was it.
Interrogation, in wartime, meant that they would hook you up to some gizmo and ask questions. If they didn’t like your answer you were in for a world of hurt. It generated a stream of neural impulses directed for the pain section of the brain. Sometimes, a really sick bastard would hook it up wrong and well… I swear, I would nail the bastard in charge of interrogating my men.
The dream was still on my mind. I had never had one like that before in my life. It triggered some emotions I had never thought to exist. I never felt that kind of emptiness and hurt. It worried me. I would have to ask Manawolf about that sometime.
Gen and I got most of our gear packed. Whatever we wouldn’t need for the day we packed up. The only things we left out were our sleeping bags, although, we had been sharing one for the past few nights, our assault rifles, my sniper rifle, and our lamps. We always kept our combat gear on when we weren’t asleep and always had our spathas ready. One thing I learned not to do from mock assaults was not to pack up a weapon that could be needed at any time. Common sense is not that common.
Gen ate a quick meal and we went for a quick jog out with some others. Jed and his team were leading with cadences. I really should memorize them so I could lead, but decided I didn’t need to add to the vulgar in my vocabulary. Yes, soldiers have morals. It’s terrorists that don’t.
We finished up our run and headed over for some food. I didn’t eat anything for breakfast, which wasn’t smart of me. I felt like throwing up but had nothing to throw up. I got to the main mess hall and wolfed down a ration. I felt somewhat better from eating but I ate too fast and that left me back at square one. I decided to rest a little while Gen went out and sparred. Jed came in about twenty minutes after Gen left and wanted to talk to me.
“So what were you dreaming about?” Jed asked me.
“What?” I honestly didn’t know what he meant. Then I remembered about my dream. I had almost successfully stored it into the back of my mind where nothing could reach it.
“You know what I mean. Half the people in the building heard you screaming.”
“It was a bad dream, that’s all.”
“Not form what I hear. Someone said you were crying.”
“What! Show me the bastard!”
“Dude, listen. I don’t want any of my men breaking on me in the middle of a battle. I need to know what happened.”
I looked at him long and hard. I decided he should know. “You better get comfortable. It’s a long story”
I spent about thirty minutes telling him my dream. He listened with a neutral look on his face. He didn’t show any contempt, dislike, or disgust at me. He only sowed understanding.
“It’s Ok.” Jed said. “You’re never going to be abandoned.”
“I know…” I replied.
“You won’t ever be alone. Gen isn’t going to die on you, not over my dead body. And this unit, we’ll always be there for you. We’re your family now. We’ll always take care of you.”
I looked at him. He had never talked to any of his friends like this. He was almost like the father I had never had. “Thanks.”
He left and I got some rest. I felt a little better. I was hungry again and went down to get some food. I ate slowly this time. It filled me up better than the first time and I decided to go see what Gen was doing. I walked a few city blocks and found her sparring. She saw em and smiled. She dodged a leg sweep, jumped into the air, spun, and kicked her opponent in the shoulder. She lunged and landed on top of her and put her in a hold of submission. She won that match. I always wondered how she knew where to hold me to keep me pinned…
We decided to go see if that diner was out there on the other side of the city. We walked most of the way alone before meeting up with a few people from another unit. We walked with them and talked a little.
“So that your girlfriend?” One of the guys asked me, quietly so that Gen didn’t hear.
“Sorta, yeah. Why?” I replied.
“She’s hot man.” He said as he put his hand over my shoulder.
“Yeah.” I took his hand off.
“You bang her yet?”
“What?!” He crossed the line there.
“You better shut your mouth.”
“Hey, chill man! I was just kiddin’ around!”
“You damn well better have been.”
We walked the rest of the way in silence. We found the place. It was a decent looking diner. They were serving something that smelled good. I walked in and looked at what they had. They were serving fish and poultry. I hadn’t had any good chicken in a long time. Gen and I got our food and sat down at a table. We ate half our food before the guy who was talking to me on the walk here came over.
“Hey man, I’m sorry if I invaded your territory. I was just kidding around.” He said, apologetically.
I just looked at him. I still thought he was a jackass.
“Hey, I’m really sorry. I was just kidding around. Lousy way to do it but hell.”
I just kept looking at him.
“Let’s just bury the hatchet and start over, I don’t like to make enemies with my own kind.” He extended his hand.
“Fine. Just make sure you watch your mouth next time.” I shook his hand.
“My name is Dave.”
“Shaul, call-sign ALPHAwolfOMEGA.”
He winced. “The ALPHAwolfOMEGA?”
“Dude, you’re only the best sniper in the entire platoon. Rumor has it you sniped over fifty guys on the attack coming in.”
“Nah. I only got about thirty.” I said in a joking tone.
Gen was in wonder during the whole conversation. I said I would explain things later. Dave sat down with us and we talked for a while. He was in the unit next to ours. His would be right with us as we attacked the prison camp. He was a swordsman. It was easy to recognize him since he was human. He had tanned skin and buzzed hair. He had plenty of muscle. I could take him but would have some trouble. We finished up and then finally said goodbye and left the diner. We had a long day tomorrow. We would be attacking the prison camp, which finally had a designation, Chez Chattan. Humans have weird senses of humor. When we got back we took a look at our plans. I memorized them quickly. We had done this type of raid many times over in training. I knew exactly what to do and knew all of the guys on my team. This should be easy. I said my prayers to the Guardian and went to sleep.
I got up early so I could go over the plans again before we deployed. The guys on my team were with me. It was a simple four-man team consisting of Gen, Jed, Ryan, and me. There were ten other four-man teams working with us. It was a simple and strait-forward plan. Ryan and I snipe with our assault rifles. We take out the front guards to the place and then go in as soon as the first five teams get past the gates. From there we go in with them while the other four teams go in through the back. They will have taken out the rear guards and gone in through the back entrance. Then we go strait for the prisoners and take out any enemies along the way. My team, Team 1, would help Teams 2-4 escort the prisoners to the extraction point. The four other teams would clear out the prison and make sure all our men were rescued. We had two SEALs giving us intel from their watch points. We did a mock raid a few times before lunch and then got our gear loaded. We headed out.
It would be a twenty-minute trip to get there. The base was thought to be ten miles out but turned out to be seventy-five. After five minutes of going over everything in my head I did my pre-battle ritual. I finished and got my gear ready and double-checked t make sure I had everything I needed. Everyone did the same a few minutes after I did. We were now about three minutes before deployment. Jed was in charge of the troops.
“Lock and load!” Jed yelled. Everyone loaded a fuel cell into their rifles and cocked them. “Move out on my mark and take up your positions!”
“Team 1 will be sniping from point Alpha. Teams 2-4 will fire off their rockets and move in on our mark! Teams 5-8 will go around the back and breach their rear defenses on command Bravo! Is everyone clear on that!” I yelled out. I was second in command.
“Roger that!” Everyone yelled back.
We hit the ground. “Move out!” Jed yelled.
The troops deployed quickly and quietly. We moved through the thick brush and got to our positions. We met up with one of Jed’s SEALs and he gave us the main info one the prime targets. My team got into position and waited for the others to get into theirs. When everyone called in I had already dialed in my first target. It was one of the main guard cannons on the left tower of the complex.
The prison camp had tall outer walls of reinforced concrete. It was a square wall and had four guard towers. Each had auto-cannons that fired off high caliber armor piercing rounds at phenomenally high rates. They could easily mow down a tank if they had the proper amount of ammo. They were just like the old Vulcan cannons, which lasted up into the late twenty-fifth century. The only problems were that they ate up ammo and overheated fast. Ryan had the guard tower to my right. The teams called in saying they were in place. I looked at Ryan to my left and he nodded. Jed gave the order to fire at will.
I squeezed on my trigger and heard the sound of my rifle fire. I saw the pulse of energy hit the target and shatter the barrel. Ryan obliterated the cannon and we took aim at our next targets. We destroyed the next two auto-cannons and set out to take any people dumb enough to not take cover. I took a guy holding the anti-tank rockets and nailed him. A perfect headshot and what was left of him just fell. Jed ordered the teams to proceed with the first part and to blast the gates. Teams 2 and 3 both fired off their armor piercing rockets and blew a hole into the solid steel gates. Team 4 waited a little and then fired off their anti-personnel rockets through the hole. Anyone inside that hadn’t taken cover would be wounded or killed from that series of explosions. Jed ordered everyone to storm the compound.
We entered guns blaring, killing most of the enemies that got into our way. The entire place was in chaos. People were running around confused about what had just happened and shooting in all directions. I used up all 100 rounds of ammo in my pulse rifle and reloaded. Gen was covering me. I looked up and saw a Chattan raise his rifle at us. I jumped up and grabbed Gen, throwing her to the side. The Chattan fired off and hit the ground in front of us. I took aim and fired off three rounds. I hit him in the chest, shoulder, and head. The third hit killed him. Now we had taken out most of the people running into the “courtyard” area. We regrouped and proceeded to the main cellblock. Teams 1-3 would go through there. Teams 4 and 5 would go to the opposite cell block where our men were being “interrogated”. I envied teams 4 and 5.
I took point and blazed through the halls. We met little resistance along the way and got to our destination. A human from Team 2 went and started to manipulate the wires to let the cells open. They opened and the lupines that were being held captive rejoiced. They ran out of their cells and got into the normal lines. These were well-trained troops. I wondered why they hadn’t been killed off. There were about twenty prisoners here with s. There were supposed to be ten others. I’m guessing they were in the other cellblock where they were being interrogated.
“Team 4 leader, report.” I said through my headset.
“Team 4 leader reporting!” He replied.
“What is your position?”
“My team is currently in the interrogation rooms. We have ten others here, pretty badly hurt. We need some help carrying them out.”
“Team 6 should be there soon.”
“I also found something else. We have some Chattan defectors.”
“You heard right.”
“I’ll see what I can do. ALPHAwolfOMEGA out.”
I looked at Jed, he nodded. I knew I would have to see what the other four teams were doing.
“Teams 5-8, report!” I said.
“Team 5 reporting!”
“Team 6 reporting!”
“Team 7 reporting!”
“Team 8 reporting!”
“What are you four doing?!”
“We finished clearing out the compound. We got most of the bastards in the courtyard. The rest ditched.”
“Teams 3 and 4 need some help. Go and provide some assistance. There are Chattan defectors with them. Do not shoot them.”
“Yes, sir!” They all yelled, in unison.
Jed nodded, and we moved out. We walked quickly through the halls and got to the courtyard. Teams 3-8 were carrying out comrades and escorting the defectors. We got out, Team 1 and 8 covering the rear. We moved quickly. I sensed something. I knew it was a bad one. I yelled and told everyone to double-time it. We sprinted our way to the evacuation point. There were three drop-ships waiting for us. We loaded up and then someone opened upon us. It was total hell. I jumped out and began to defend. Ryan and Team 8 did the same. We fought like hell, shooting at whatever moved. Everyone was loaded on the ships except for Ryan and I now. The firefight was getting worse. We were being surrounded. I knew that we had to get out of here now. Then Ryan got hit, badly. He fell to his knees and kept shooting. I went to his side and signaled for the others to leave. Gen was being held back by Jed. I yelled at him to go. He nodded and they took off. Ryan and I defended our position until the drop-ships were clear. Then I felt something hit me in the back and I passed out.
My head hurt and everything was dark. I was regaining some vision, though not all. Everything around me was blurry. I could make out a few voices, they were definitely not happy. They noticed I was awake now.
“So, you’re one of the little shits that killed my men?” One of them said. I could see his outline. He was a Chattan.
I kept my mouth shut and just looked at him. My vision had returned completely now. There were six of them in the room. I only had on my loincloth and was shackled to a wall. I was in an interrogation chamber. The walls were solid, reinforced concrete. They were soundproof, except for the door. There was a chair on the far end of the room with some electrodes. I knew, one way or another, I was going to be hooked up to that and well…
“ANSWER ME!” He roared out. He was a lynx.
I kept silent.
“Griff, check his tag.”
A large Chattan came toward me and searched my arms. Every Lupine or Chattan had a chip embedded into their arm once they finished up Basic Training. They were given the option of dogtags also, but most turned down the offer. The only people who took dogtags were humans.
“Found it. Lieutenant Shaul Trekome. Sniper and Swordsman, Force Marines.” Griff said.
“So, we have someone of value.” The leader said.
Four of them left and two remained. The leader and Griff stayed behind and took off the shackles. Griff was a tiger. He had the chest dimensions of half a keg. He had a scar going across his face, which offset his dark orange fur with a more crimson hue. He easily lifted me and tied me into the chair with some cables. They were made of some kind of metal. It didn’t stretch and it held pretty well. They tightened it so that if I struggled too much it would cut into my skin. They hooked up the electrodes and turned on the machine.
“I’m going to be simple about this.” The leader said. “I ask you questions, and if you lie you will be punished accordingly.”
I kept quiet. I knew if I said anything I would be beaten.
“Who are you?”
“Lieutenant Shaul Trekome.”
“What type of soldier are you?”
“Force Marine Sniper and Swordsman.”
“Who is your leader?”
I kept quiet. I wasn’t going to tell him anything except who I was. I refuse to tell him anything about my leaders that they could find useful.
“Who is your leader?” Griff repeated for his leader.
I kept silent. The lynx nodded and Griff toyed around with a few buttons. I felt a surge of pain travel throughout my chest. Every muscle in that area tightened. I felt as though something was stabbing me many times over. I couldn’t breath, I gripped the armrests tightly and clenched my teeth. I closed my eyes and tried to find a part of my mind that didn’t notice the extreme pain. I was snapped back to reality by a hand across my face. The lynx looked me in the eyes and motioned for Griff to stop.
“That, my friend, was on a low setting. If you comply, you will not have to feel that again.” The lynx said.
“What’s your name?” I asked, I had a tone of hate in my voice.”
“Who are you to be asking questions?”
“What’s your name?”
The lynx chuckled. “Hriss, Colonel Hriss. Now, who is your leader?”
I stared him in the eye. I would not give out any information about my comrades. Hriss nodded and Griff let loose the pain. I felt pain shoot through my chest again. It surged through every muscle in my body. I concentrated hard to try to block it out. I went to find the part of my mind that is untouched by the hell engulfing me. I don’t know how long it was left, but when Griff stopped the machine I felt as though I had gone through hell and back. I looked at Hriss; he had a demonic smile on his face.
“I’m impressed Lieutenant, you have survived more pain than all our previous… subjects. Now, I am only going to ask you once more. Who is your commanding officer?” Hriss said.
I remained silent. No matter how hard they tried, I will never disclose any information on my comrades. This seemed to anger Hriss. His smiled disappeared and he nodded to Griff, who just grimaced. He shook his head and muttered something, then he pushed a button and I felt the pain return. It was the worst I had ever known. Everything became dark. The world began to fade slowly. I held in a scream and then it stopped. Hriss put his face an inch away from me and held my chin up so that I had no choice but to look at him.
“You are strong. Foolish, but strong. Griff, do as you please. Make sure you get answers from him.” Hriss said.
“Aye, sir!” Griff replied.
I could hear the door open and then shut. I felt someone unstrap me and carry me over to a chair. Then I felt cords tying me down again. The world was getting dim now. I could feel it slip away.
“You’re strong, but not strong enough.” Griff said.
Then I passed out.