Jack rubbed his hand over his face as he looked at the report General Hammond had given him. The mysterious deaths that had been occurring during the night in small parks had concerned Hammond and although it was not obviously connected to the SGC, the cases were off enough to have warranted Hammond asking SG1 to have a look.
Jack, personally, was very puzzled. It looked like a wild dog attack but the neighborhood the attacks had been in had been peaceful before and it wasn’t even close to the woods, where there might be wild dogs. Recent environmental surveys had found that the numbers of small animals in the woods was quite high, so it wasn’t like there was no food in the woods. Another thing that struck Jack as being wrong was that the victims had both been adult males, one of whom had been in the army, and they had both been tall, strong and fit. The bite marks left on their bones all seemed to be coming from one animal, so Jack was suspicious that a single animal had brought down and mauled to death two adult men. Something was very obviously not quite right and Jack was determined to get to the bottom of things before a third person lost their life.
Willow eyed the weaponry that lay in the heavy chest that Giles had given her when she’d left Sunnydale before letting out a sigh and beginning to sort through the things she would need. As a last line of defense, the crossbow was a must, as well as a dagger. Remembering Jack’s rule one, Willow let out a reluctant sigh before picking up the tranquilizer gun and the darts that went with it. Resting the gun on her knees, Willow carefully loaded it with the darts until it couldn’t hold any more. She put the spare darts in the bag she would be carrying. It had been a long time since she’d had to use the gun and she didn’t know how accurate she would be.
Of course, knowing what she did of werewolves, Willow knew that in all likelihood she would only get one shot at it before she herself was mauled to death but Willow knew it would be best to have the gun fully loaded, to eliminate the risk of running out of darts right when she needed them.
“You ready?” Xander asked from the doorway to Willow’s room. “Jack just called. He’s going to be late tonight.”
Willow nodded. “That’s good. If we’re not home when he gets back, he’ll just assume we’ve gone to bed or something.”
“He asked me if I knew about the attacks and told me if we were going to go on a training run, then to stay away from that area of town.”
Willow smiled at the gesture. “Well, it’s not like we’re going to break the rules. He said if we were going to go on a training run... We aren’t. This is the real deal.”
“I guess. I still kind of feel bad about this,” Xander admitted.
Willow nodded in understanding. “I know that he’s trying to protect you... us, Xander, but we’re trying to save lives here. We’re just going to catch the werewolf and then, in the morning, we’ll talk to them about how we can help them deal with it.”
“I know, Willow. I just don’t want to disappoint him, that’s all. He’s my dad, after all.”
Willow nodded and got to her feet, giving Xander a quick hug.
“It’ll be okay, Xander.”
“Yeah. I’ve got the chains.” Xander jiggled his bags a little and Willow heard the clinking of chains within it.
“Where did you get those?”
“The garage, I think that they were from an old tire swing or something. I’ve got some rope too, for its mouth. Let’s go and catch us a wolf.”
Willow hurried and picked up her bag, slipping the safety on the gun and putting it in the bag, along with the other weapons, before the two teenagers slipped out of the house and into the darkness, walking through the light provided by the full moon towards the stalking ground of the werewolf, desperately hoping that they would find it before it found its next victim.
Jack let out a sigh as he, Sam, Teal’c and Daniel patrolled one of the parks in the same area that the attacks had taken place. The problem was that the attacks had taken part in two different parks in a neighborhood that had quite a few pockets of parkland, so they were not exactly sure where and when the attacker would appear. A couple of the SG teams were monitoring the other parks, leaving SG1 only a couple to patrol.
“I don’t think that it will strike again, Jack,” Daniel said. “Not with so many people about.”
Jack shrugged. “If it was an ordinary wild dog or a wolf or something, I would agree with you but you saw those saliva samples that the coroner ran tests on. It’s not a wolf and it sure as hell isn’t a normal dog. This is something completely new and I don’t want to get caught out.”
Daniel sighed and nodded. He knew that Jack was convinced that somehow the Goa’uld had smuggled some sort of dangerous animal onto earth and that it was this animal that was mauling innocent people to death. Daniel, however, didn’t think it was likely. If it was a plague of the animals, then yes, it probably was a Goa’uld but only one did not seem to be... dramatic enough for a race of beings that had repetitively tried to obliterate Earth from existence. Goa’ulds were, after all, very big on their image and regarded themselves very highly. A single animal was not in the style of the Goa’uld, not any that Daniel had met anyway.
Of course, just on the off chance that he was wrong, Daniel wasn’t going to say anything until he was certain of what was going on (which, he was reasonably sure, would not be happening for a while).
“Everything’s quiet here, sir. No sign of anything remotely canine, not even a stray cat,” Sam reported, lowering her night vision goggles. Jack grunted. Traipsing around the neighborhoods of Colorado Springs looking for some alien hell hound was not how he wanted his Friday night to go. He had planned to spend a quiet night at home with Xander and Willow, catching up on what was going on in the teens’ worlds and continuing to build up relationships with them. Xander, it appeared, had begun to accept him but Willow was still reserved and keeping her distance from him. Jack respected that she was sixteen now and that she wasn’t his biological daughter and that she did not know him but Jack hoped that, one day, Willow would at least trust him enough to talk to him if she had any problems, rather than trying to cope with everything on her own.
Still, maybe everything would be wrapped up soon and the rest of the weekend could be spent with the teenagers.
“Alright, let’s head off to the next park,” Jack ordered and the group headed off down the street to their next location.
“Here puppy, here puppy, come here puppy,” Xander called as he and Willow crept through one park after another. Willow looked at her best friend, her eyebrow raised comically.
“Really?” she asked. Xander shrugged.
“Well, it was worth a shot. I don’t really want to be out here all night.”
“Hmm, good point,” Willow agreed. Although it was only November, there was a definite chill in the night air and Willow was beginning to wish she’d thought to wear an extra jacket. It had been a foolish mistake on Willow’s part and she regretted it as she walked, trying to keep warm.
Xander glanced up at the moon as it hung in the clear, cloudless sky, “At least everyone’s staying inside,” he observed. Willow nodded in agreement. The houses that they had passed had all been shut up and they had not seen anyone else walking around. Willow was a little surprised that they had not seen any police patrolling the area, but then, if it was something supernatural, then something similar to Sunnydale syndrome might be at work.
The pair continued on their way, walking across a park that was located close to the two that the werewolf had already attacked people within. Xander and Willow stayed alert as they walked, all trace of their playful interactions gone. They couldn’t afford to joke around during slaying anymore, not when they didn’t have Buffy there watching their backs and doing the majority of the work.
A bush rustled as they walked past it and they both spun around, raising their weapons instinctively. The bush, however, remained still before it rustled again and a stray cat shot out, running into the darkness. Xander gave a shaky laugh.
“We’re jumping at shadows, Willow,” he told Willow, who gave a weak grin in response.
“I know. I hope we find it soon, I can’t take much more of this... My heart is pounding.”
“Tell me about it,” Xander smiled as they kept walking. They passed through the park without incident and then made their way to the next piece of parkland, which was a long and thin strip of land that was lower that the two streets it ran between and, as a result, had a steep, grassy hill at both ends. The sides were lined with trees and other plants. Knowing that the plants offered good coverage, Willow and Xander wordlessly split up, each of them taking a side as they peered into the foliage, lowering their weapons in order to use their flashlights. Willow’s side was less vegetated than Xander’s, so she found that she was moving along faster than Xander. He, however, was not far behind her.
Satisfied that the werewolf had not been hiding in the plants on her side of the park, Willow walked up the hill, planning on waiting for Xander on the pavement. However, Willow spun around as she heard Xander’s fearful yell, feeling the hair on the back of her neck stand on edge as she saw the very large werewolf that had emerged from the trees on Xander’s side of the park not far from where Xander stood, obviously having been disturbed by the light.
“Xander, run!” Willow screamed, although she didn’t need to. Xander was already running, trying to get a safe distance away from the werewolf so he could prepare his weapons properly. Willow’s hands shook as she fired the crossbow at the werewolf, her shot going hopelessly wide. Her heart leaped into her mouth as she saw the werewolf lash out with its claws, sending Xander flying into a tree.
“Xander!” she screamed again, taking off down the hill towards the werewolf and her best friend, raising the tranquilizer gun as she did. The werewolf ignored her yells, focusing instead on Xander as it advanced on him, a hungry look in its eye. Xander rolled onto his back and raised himself up on his arms, trying to crawl away from the beast while still watching it. He could feel its hot breath on his face and smell the odor of rotting flesh in the air that the werewolf exhaled. In the distance, Xander heard someone yell his name in a voice that was certainly not Willow’s. He was too busy focusing on the werewolf that was closing in on him quickly to pay the voice any attention however.
A quick glance at his belt told Xander that the knife he had tucked there had been dislodged when he’d been knocked into the air by the werewolf and that he was without a weapon. The werewolf was almost on top of him before it pounced, leaping into the air, intending on landing on top of Xander so it would be ideally placed to begin ripping him to shreds. Xander saw the werewolf lift the ground and, for a fear-filled moment, knew that his life was over.
Jack, Sam, Daniel and Teal’c made their way towards the next park they had been assigned too, exchanging worried glanced when they heard voices drifting through the night air, coming from the park. Voices that sounded suspiciously familiar.
They hurried to the entrance to the park. The park was set below the street level and at the entrance SG1 stood at and at the opposite end, there was a grassy hill. Two figures were walking through the park, one on the left-hand side the other on the right-hand side of the park, separated by a wide green space. The pair seemed to be examining the bushes, trees and plants that lined the sides of the park.
And the entire team knew who those two figures were instantaneously.
Willow was farther into the park than Xander, already halfway up the hill at the opposite end, while Xander was about ten meters behind on the other side. He was hurrying to catch up with Willow when a large shadowy figure burst out of the greenery that Xander had just been looking at. Xander gave a shout of surprise and began to run and Willow whipped around and screamed at him to run. Sam’s jaw dropped when Willow fired... something that looked suspiciously like a crossbow over Xander’s head at the creature but the shot went wide. Jack and the team were already running towards Xander as the teen was thrown through the air by the... thing and Jack yelled his son’s name fearfully. Sam could see that Xander was trying to get away, although she imagined that the teen would be pretty sore after being tossed like that, although from the angle they were approaching at and the darkness, it was difficult to get a decent shot at the creature. Jack raised his Zat gun, ready to take the monster down, but the monster jumped, as if it was about to leap on top of Xander where the teen lay.
It was then that the gunshot echoed through the park. A.N.Okay, please don't hate me for the cliffhanger. I promise that everything will work out...eventually. And yay, another attempt at an action sequence. What do you think. Reviews and feedback are much appreciated.
Next chapter will be up soon.