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The Spider and the Fly

peterdnzl Aug 11th, 2014 (edited) 12,852 Never
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  1. Prologue
  2.                         Joe Daniels (USA, Retired)
  3.  
  4.     You hobble into the Mean eyed Cat on 5th street, sit down at the bar, and set your cane against the bar.  Despite what some may believe, the Mean Eyed Cat has always been the Mean Eyed Cat, even before Austin's surge of new residents.  It was still early afternoon, before the rush, but there was still a few regulars there, warming their stools.  You look down the bar and see Tasha.  Your eyes meet, and the Cheshire flashes a conspiratorial grin and winks at you.  Your business with her is done, but she makes you uneasy either way.  Betsy, the Holstasaurus bartender, gives you a smile and says, "Heya Joe, the regular?".  You smile and nod, and she sets a glass of ice on the bar and fills it with rye.  Betsy is looking particularly cute today, with a flannel shirt tied in the middle, showing off (as if it were possible to conceal) her large chest, along with denim Daisy Duke shorts.  It might be enough to cause a stirring in your pants, but you're not hopeful.  
  5.  
  6. "How ya doin' today, Joe?” she asks, her tail twitching a little to brush an errant fly away.
  7.  
  8. "Pretty good, actually", Betsy liked to worry, which was understandable, she had seen you pretty low.  "Better now that I'm here talking to my favorite bartender."
  9.  
  10.     "Oh, you charmer, you.” she says, fanning herself in a mock display of swooning.  She's sweet, and you feel safe around her, as much as you can with a monstergirl.  Most of them scare the shit out of you.  It was to be expected.  You'll probably never feel at ease around a Dragon, or a Harpy, or a Lamia.  Last week, you saw a Manticore coming in your direction down the sidewalk, and you instinctively crossed the street to be farther from her.  After your first deployment, it was bags of trash on the street that would cause this reaction.  You used to automatically change directions to avoid possible IEDs, but after your final deployment, if you can call it that, your focus shifted direction to the more menacing monstergirls. Old habits would die hard, especially because many of the wanted war criminals have yet to be caught.  You nearly had a panic attack yesterday meeting your new neighbor, a Jumping spider Arachne.  She seemed pleasant enough, but it took all of your composure to not start hyperventilating right there when she invited you in for tea.  You could see the new webs through the open door and almost cried.  You politely declined and went to your apartment and tried to control your shaking hands.
  11.  
  12.     The memory of that gives you chills, and you take a drink from your glass of rye.  You weren't very different from the loads of vets coming back from Central Asia, a generation of cripples in wheelchairs, walkers and loony bins.  Granted, you could still walk, and you weren't a gibbering idiot raving about unknown dimensions and demon lords, but if things had gone differently, it could've easily been you screaming and ranting in a VA hospital.  Broken ribs and shattered legs, healed and set incorrectly for want of proper medical care.  Some are paralyzed after a lamia broke their backs in a fit of passion, and some had their pelvises shattered by a randy Oni or an orc.  You think about the scars of bite marks on your body like track marks and consider yourself lucky you were able to detox from all the venom that had been pumped into you.  
  13.  
  14. "Whatsa matter, Joe? Looks like someone walked over your grave."
  15.  
  16. "It's nothing", you say, pulling yourself together.  
  17.  
  18. "You know I worry about you, Joe.  Maybe we could-"
  19.  
  20. "That's alright", you say, cutting her off before she can finish her proposition.  Last time you tried that, you ended up feeling worse than before.  Betsy looked down, sorry that she had brought it up.  You finish your drink and set the glass down, and reach into your wallet before Betsy stops you.
  21.  
  22. "This one's on me", she says, her eyes welling up a little.  She looks too cute when she does that, it almost makes you want to tease her a little.
  23.  
  24. "Thanks, Betsy.  I'll probably be back later tonight.  Just stopped by for a drink, but I got to take care of something tonight."  You grab your cane and slowly stand up from your stool.  
  25.  
  26. "Well, be careful tonight, it's not a full moon, but it's still Saturday."  You can see the concern on her face, and it's not unwarranted, Austin on Saturday night was weird before monstergirls moved in in droves.  A man could get attacked pretty easily walking down the wrong alley.  What would happen next hasn't been a problem for you in some time, but it's unpleasant nonetheless.  
  27.  
  28. "You know me, Betsy, Careful is my middle name." You smile when you say it, but you're pretty sure that Betsy can see through your act.
  29.  
  30. Betsy put a hand on her hip and smirked, "Last week you said Danger was your middle name."
  31.  
  32. "Well it was, but I had it changed."  You continue to smile as you limp out and walk to your car.  You wince as you bend down to get in your Camry, and you turn the key and start to drive to the industrial park.  You know how to get there, you've memorized the address and the route, but you still find yourself looking down at the slip of paper, as if it could provide some guidance for what was to come.  You turn on the radio.
  33.  
  34. "Heee-ey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand", wails Jimi.  
  35.  
  36.     You switch the station, you really like that song, but you can't help but feel like it's a bad omen.  You check your mirror, and see yourself looking back.  Your face is gaunt, and your beard makes you look much older.  When you consider everything that's happened in the past few years, you look pretty good.  Compared with normal people, you look like a bag of smashed assholes.  She would remember you either way, you were sure.  
  37.  
  38.     Here it was.  A dusty warehouse rented out by someone paying in cash, through the mail.  Someone wanting to remain anonymous.  Someone wanting their privacy.  If Tasha's info was right, you're on the way to finishing this.  One way or the other, at least.  You reach in the glovebox and take out the CZ-75 pistol that's been waiting for you.  You pull the slide back a little to check that there's a round in the chamber.  You set the hammer down with the decocker and put the shoulder holster rig on best as you can without getting out of the car.  When you fire a double action/single action pistol like the CZ, the first trigger pull takes more pressure to bring the hammer all the way back and then down on the firing pin.  Every pull after the first one is single action, and it takes less pressure.  In other words, the first trigger pull is the hardest.  Your mind wanders back to the joke that went around your unit about the Marine who was asked what he felt when he shot a Taliban fighter.  His response was, "Recoil".  We all laughed at the time, but the best humor has a grain of truth in it.  
  39.  
  40.     You slowly get out of the car, grab your cane and start walking towards the warehouse.  The door is unlocked, and you take this as a good sign.  Curiosity kills the cat, and you can be sure she's taken a few thieves looking for an easy score.  Cobwebs cover many of the old boxes there, and you strain your vision to see a few web cocoons in the corner.  She's been using this place, there's no doubt now.  
  41.  
  42. "Hmmmm. Oh my, if it isn't my favorite soldadinho."
  43.  
  44.     Your blood turns to ice as you hear that familiar voice, her soft accent carrying through the emptiness of the warehouse.  Your heart races as you try to fight the panic rising from the base of your spine.  
  45.  
  46. "I always hoped I would find you again someday, Joseph.  I just never imagined you would come find me."  She still hadn't shown herself, but if you knew her, she'd be up in the ceiling.  You decide you need to at least pretend to have your shit together and try to say something that sounds intimidating, or at least like you're still in control of your bladder.
  47.  
  48. "Well, you know the old saying.  'Home is where the heart is.'"  That doesn't even make sense.  Goddamnit.  
  49.  
  50. "Missing something in your life, are you?  Something you haven't had in years?"
  51.  
  52.     The words hit close to home.  Why are you here?  Revenge?  Maybe you need something baser.  More primal.  It's been years since you've seen Ana, but she's having the same effect on you as she's always had.  It's something you haven't felt in quite some time.  You start to feel your pants begin to get a little tighter.  You're reminded of what you are.  A junkie.  Someone who needs his fix.  You thought you had this beat, but a part of you knew it would come to this.  
  53.  
  54.     In the dim light of the warehouse, you can see locks of dark hair lowering from the ceiling.  Six glowing yellow eyes come into your view followed by an upside down smile of razor sharp teeth.  As she starts to laugh, you swallow hard.  
  55.  
  56. "Will you walk into my parlor?" she says, laughing.
  57.  
  58. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  59.  
  60.                             Part 1
  61.                         4 years ago, Camp Chapman, Afghanistan
  62.                     SSGT Erik "the Red" Nielsen, 3rd Special Forces Group, US Army
  63.    
  64.     You sit on the old cable spool, watching the SEALs with amusement as they lift weights.  You spit some dip into a plastic bottle and yell to them, "Hey, if you guys are doing ops tonight, you might want to wear camo, I hear the Taliban can spot Tapout shirts and popped collars from a kilometer away!"
  65.  
  66. Petty Officer Jenkins sits up on the weight bench, smiling, and says "Fuck you, snake eater!  Isn't there some ANA mouth breather you should be teaching how to shoot right now?"
  67.  
  68. "Yeah, it's right after your creative writing class, frogman."
  69.  
  70. "You're just mad because we do stuff that's actually worth writing about."
  71.  
  72. "You guys playing yourselves in the movie version?"
  73.  
  74. "Silver screen can't handle me, Red.  We're gonna be fuckstarting some Taliban faces real soon, and what we're about to do to them, you can't show in theaters."
  75.  
  76. "You're supposed to kill the Taliban, not fuck them."
  77.  
  78. "What's the difference?  Either way, someone's getting penetrated."
  79.  
  80. Jenkins had a certain logic to his argument.  "Well, make sure you wrap your shit up.  I know you've seen these Taliban fucks banging goats through your binocs before.  No telling what they got."
  81.  
  82. "Yeah, no doubt.  Not to mention Man-Love Thursdays."
  83.  
  84. You visibly shudder with the memory of the Air Force drone operator who showed some of the guys the videos he took of a group of Taliban fighters going at it in a big, sweaty pile.  Thank god it was from 10,000 feet.  
  85.  
  86. "Fuck you for making me remember that shit."
  87.  
  88. "Hey man, that's intel right there.  Someone in Langley got paid to watch that."
  89.  
  90.     Fucking Navy guys.  Bunch of pervert alcoholics.  You're just killing time at this point, you have a couple hours before your team is wheels up, you've been briefed, weapons are cleaned and mags loaded.  Being around these SEALs is beginning to make you nauseous with all their talk of fucking Taliban, so you head back to where your gear is and begin to suit up.  Intel says this'll be an easy night, but they've said that before, and they're never the ones calling in danger close air on a target 150 meters away while getting shot at.  A recent capture revealed that the al Qaeda operative known as Aslanbek was meeting his contact tonight near the Pakistan border.  Aslanbek is a serious dude, and had been fighting in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya, and Afghanistan again for years.  A hard core veteran of multiple wars who has been slipping between the Russians' fingers, and ours for years.  The goal was to take him alive, but you're not optimistic.  Someone like that doesn't survive for that long by making dumb mistakes.  You get the feeling that your team is being set up for a fall, but as you don't have any final say, and you've already voiced your concerns, the Major has overridden you.  The best thing to do in the situation is make sure your team is in one piece after shit hits the fan.  
  91.  
  92. You plop down on your rack and set your watch alarm for 30 minutes ‘til wheels up and catch a cat nap.  
  93.  
  94. You wake up an hour later, as refreshed as you can be.  As you stand up, Major Williams walks into your hooch, and tells you that he knows your team will get the job done tonight.  
  95.  
  96. "Always do, sir."
  97.  
  98. "That's what I like to hear."
  99.  
  100. Major Williams is a competent officer, but you suspect someone flubbed his psychiatric reports.  You get the feeling he believes he's on some kind of Holy Crusade.  The call sign you had to use on ops was a good indicator of that.  
  101.  
  102. "Anyway, Red, just letting you know we've got your back.  Paladin Actual out."
  103.  
  104. "Roger that, sir."  He just used his call sign.  In a face to face conversation.  Jesus leaping Christ.  You hold back your impending eye roll until he's left your hooch.  You check your watch.  Time to rock.  You leave the hooch and walk out to the flight line.  Everyone is ready to go, and you can see the sun setting, washing the camp in red orange light. The men of ODAs 3241 and 3242 were standing near the flight line, and you walk up on Weasel, one of the Weapons Sgts in your ODA.
  105.  
  106. "Sup, Red", Weasel says, making a fist for you to bump.  "You ready to tear shit up?"
  107.  
  108. "Born ready," you say, and you don't leave him hanging.  You've always been "Red", even from bootcamp, because of your bright orange hair and freckles.  After you got your green beret and deployed to Afghanistan the first time, you grew a big red beard and everyone started calling you Erik the Red because of the fact you look like a fuckhuge Norseman.  You were positive all those days under the sun with sleeveless shirts would give you skin cancer one day, but in your line of work, it's possible you could catch a bullet or a load of shrapnel anyway, so you don't sweat the small stuff.  Everyone starts boarding the Blackhawks.  The plan was simple, on paper anyway.  You get dropped off 10 klicks from the meet up, set up the ambush and wait.  Lot of things can go bad.  A few minutes later, the sun has set, and everyone's in the air.  
  109.  
  110.     No one is saying anything other than the usual crew to crew chatter.  Your eyes are still adjusting to the dark when you hear panicked chatter between pilots about losing hydraulics.  You look out the door of the helicopter to see...something latched on to the tail boom of the lead chopper.  Whatever it is, it has big wings and claws and is tearing things out of the body.  You are now positive your eyes are playing tricks on you, but this thing launches itself from the side of the lead bird at your bird.  Too fast for the pilots to respond, it lands on the front windshield, wings folded up behind it to avoid the rotor blades.  A smiling woman's face is pressed up against the glass as the pilots begin to panic, and it (she?) makes a fist with scaled claws (it has scales?) and effortlessly punches through the glass, pulling the copilot from his seat and tearing his seat harness out with it.  She pulls the hapless aviator into the windshield and you hear the crack of his helmet meeting glass over the rotors.  She throws him into the pilot, and the Blackhawk begins to spin out of control.  You look quickly at the other team members on board to see if that actually happened, that you are actually in a spinning freefall.  Everybody looks equally concerned as you, although concerned is an understatement to say the least.  Your grip loosens on your seat and the centrifugal motion almost flings you out right there, if you hadn't grabbed at the last second.  
  111.  
  112.     You're now hanging on to the seat with your legs hanging out as the Blackhawk continues it's death spiral into the side of the mountain.  Weasel lets go of his hand hold with one hand to pull you up, and you reach for his hand.  Your hands slip out of each other's grips as you fall out.  It seems like years pass as you free fall.  Everything goes black and stars shoot through your vision as you bounce off a tree and hit the ground.
  113.  
  114. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  115.  
  116.                             Camp Chapman
  117.                         Spc. Joe Daniels, 2nd BN, 75th Rangers
  118.    
  119.     You sit on you rack, carefully cleaning carbon off of the bolt carrier of your rifle while everyone bullshits with each other.  Your friend Spc. Adams leans over to you, and says in a conspiratorial whisper, "You know, if you what you say is true, the Shao Lin and the Wu Tang could be dangerous.  Do you think your Wu Tang sword can defeat me?"  You chuckle.  Exactly what you needed.  This whole QRF thing has got you and most everyone else on edge.  
  120.  
  121. "En garde.  I'll let you try my Wu Tang style", you say, giving the correct response.  
  122.  
  123.     You start to think about everything that can go wrong immediately after.  Like every good plan, it was simple, on paper.  Like every plan ever, it was bound to fall apart as soon as it's executed.  If the SF guys got their asses handed to them, Rangers load up on to the Shithook and pull them out of the fire.  This has gone wrong before.  All you need is for your huge target of a ride to take an RPG on a mountainside and then you're the star of Takur Ghar 2: Electric Boogaloo.  You're always on edge for these kind of missions but something definitely feels wrong about tonight.  SF are a scary bunch of guys, but sometimes that leads to them biting off more than they can chew.  Finished with cleaning your rifle, you begin to assemble it.  
  124.  
  125. "Heeeyy Wretch!"
  126.  
  127. Fuck.  Fucking Anderson.  This 19 year old kid fresh out of Ranger Indoc.  You look up from your rifle and give him your "Don't waste my time" face.  
  128.  
  129. "Something I can help you with, boot?"
  130.  
  131. He visibly flinches at the word boot.  "Fuck you, I'm not a boot.  I'm a Ranger!"
  132.  
  133. "You've been here two weeks.  It's your first deployment.  You have no CIB.  You're a boot.  More importantly, you annoy the shit out of me.  What do you want?"
  134.  
  135. "Just wanted to know if you were ready to pound some Taliban ass tonight!"  His facial expression suggests he spent his one semester in college doing kegstands at a local frat house.  You and Adams share a look, then look back at Anderson.  
  136.  
  137. "Have you been talking to the SEALs?” Adams asks.
  138.  
  139. "Yeah, who the fuck talks like that?  It's this kind of shit that makes everyone call you boot."  You wonder how this shitfist got into the 75th.  "Why are you wasting my time with this?  Are you ready to go right now?"
  140.  
  141. "No."
  142.  
  143. "Anderson, the whole point of a Quick Reaction Force is to be ready to go within ten minutes."  You finish assembling your rifle and lean it against your gear.  Anderson stands there staring for a few seconds.
  144.  
  145. "So get ready, retard.  We don't know if we're gonna get the call, and those guys left 10 minutes ago."
  146.  
  147. Anderson then walks off in the direction of his gear.  Adams turns to you and says, "What brand of duster you suppose he was huffing back in high school?"
  148.  
  149. "I'm just curious as to how many times his mom dropped him on his head."
  150.  
  151.     New guys are always an easy target, but it's like Anderson is trying to piss you off.  He calls you "Wretch" because he heard other Rangers calling you that.  It's an unpleasant nickname that you can tolerate because most of the time the guys calling you that were there.  Anderson wasn't.  You stick a thumb down your waist band to see if you remembered to put on the adult diaper after the brief.  You did.  Shitting your pants or pissing yourself under fire is a fairly common combat stress reaction.  Supposedly it happens to 1 in 4.  It only happened to you once, in Iraq in 2008.  When heading out to look for weapons caches in Ramadi, your platoon dismounted and immediately came under fire.  You, being the brand new guy, had eaten food bought by the interpreter earlier.  The combination of gunfire, explosions, and shady shawarma all created the perfect storm in your gut.  Crouched behind a wall, showered in brick fragments and dirt, you shit yourself violently during your baptism of fire.  You then projectile vomited all the shawarma out.  To your credit, you continued to return fire even after this happened, but you'd never fully shake the name Wretch.  
  152.    
  153.     Taking your mind off of the unpleasantness of pants shitting in combat, you take your picture of Tammy, your girlfriend and you out of your pocket.  You are at least 90% sure that she was the one you were going to marry.  The fact that you're smiling in the pic is partial proof of that.  She hasn't cheated on you, as far as you know, she has a decent job, and she hasn't pressured you into marriage so she can become a dependapotamus.  She doesn't seem the type to empty a joint bank account while you're deployed, or get double teamed by guys she meets at bars.  Your fears are strangely specific, because a lot of these things have happened to your friends or you when they have someone they love waiting at home.  You begin to make a checklist of different sexual positions you were going to employ with Tammy on the first night back.  
  154.    
  155.     Halfway between doggy style and piledriver, Adams interrupts your reverie with "Hey, you know that motor pool chick that just showed up?"  Wilkins.  He was talking about Wilkins.  5 foot 6, kind of plain, but a real nice ass hiding under those cammies.  
  156.  
  157. "Yeah."
  158.  
  159. "Gave her the bluefoot yesterday".  He was referring to the act of fucking in a port a potty, when lifting the woman's leg for access, sometimes the foot slips into the shitter, dousing the boot with that nasty blue chemical solution.  
  160.  
  161. "You dirty fuck.  Probably got a train run on her the day before, now you have Motor Pool's herp."
  162.  
  163. "Nah, it's cool, I always wrap it up when I'm with a clearing barrel."
  164.  
  165.     You put a slightly disgusted expression on your face.  Adams is easily your best friend here, but you sometimes wonder about his decision making process and impulse control.  Before you can tell him so, Sergeant First Class Washington barrels through the door, shouting, "ALL RIGHT MUTHAFUCKERS IT'S TIME TO LOAD UP AND ROLL OUT WE LOST CONTACT WITH THE GREEN BERETS AND WE ARE WHEELS UP IN TEN MINUTES HOOAH!", before barreling the same way out.  Sergeant Washington is a 6 foot 6 mountain of angry black man, and you sometimes wonder if he ever wakes up in the middle of nowhere, a foot shorter and a hundred pounds lighter, wearing only torn and comically oversized PT shorts.  
  166.  
  167. "Fuck."  You start put on all your gear, and you're walking out to the flight line to board the Chinook 6 minutes later.  You pass PFC Wilkins on the way and look down.  Her right boot has a blue stain around the heel and sole.  You look back up and make eye contact accidentally and she looks away quickly.  Adams, you nasty motherfucker.  You get to the Chinook and Washington is waiting there already in his gear.  Fuck, that guy's fast.  
  168.  
  169. "YOU READY FOR THIS SHIT DANIELS?"
  170.  
  171. "Hooah, Sergeant"
  172.  
  173.     You sit down with the rest of your squad and soon the QRF is loaded onto the Chinook, flying towards the last known position of Paladin team.  According to LT, there were no Predator drones on station, but there will be by the time we get there.  Not especially comforting.  The only suitable LZ is 5 kilometers from the crash site, so that's where you land.  Everyone piles out and turns their night vision goggles on.  No RPGs have come flying in off the side of the mountain, but that seems even stranger.  No way they didn't hear us coming, wouldn't we normally be getting shot at now?  The LT attempts to raise Paladin on the net.  No response.  The QRF splits up into their squads and start heading to the crash site.  
  174.  
  175.     About five minutes into it, you hear muffled screaming and rifle fire.  You hit the ground, and turn in the direction of the sound to see the grainy image of something slithering away.  At first you thought it was a snake in front of you about a foot away.  Your depth perception has always suffered from the night vision goggles, but you realize the snake is carrying one of the Rangers off.  You consider firing, but don't because the hapless Ranger is in its arms, and you don't even know what it is.  
  176.  
  177. "Sergeant.  Did you see that?  What the fuck is going on?"
  178.  
  179. "Trust in th'Lord, Daniels."  
  180.  
  181. You're about to ask what that means when you hear it again, gunfire, screaming, and the LT saying, "LIGHT THESE MOTHERFUCKERS UP!"
  182.  
  183. "What I tell you, Daniels?  Trust in th'Lord."
  184.  
  185.     Sporadic gunfire from the Rangers breaks out, shooting at shadows, glowing eyes and dark figures with little success.  Something with multiple legs fires some kind of sticky rope at 1st Squad, immobilizing them.  The hairy legged beast skitters over and carries two of them off.  An eight foot spider comes down from the trees on a web to carry off another.  You fire at these apparitions, wondering if they are physical things, or something from a dream.  All you know is to kill.  Whatever they are, it isn't working.  They are either moving too fast, or you can't shoot for shit.  What started as single shots turns into long undisciplined strings of fire, hitting nothing but air and trees.  You turn your head to 3rd Squad just in time to see some winged creature carry Adams off by his plate carrier.  
  186.  
  187. "Sergeant, this is fucked up."
  188.  
  189. "I know.  Just keep shooting."
  190.  
  191.     So you do.  LT is trying to raise TOC with little success.  He stands up and yells, "START FALLING BACK TO THE-" before a mass of feathers and claws carries him off, screaming and shooting into nowhere.  You begin to hear SFC Washington repeat "Trust in th'lord.  Trust in th'lord.  Trust in th'lord" to himself in between the screams and gunfire.  Good a time as any to find religion.  What appears to be a very large, muscular woman from a body building magazine darts between trees in your line of fire.  You stop firing to get a better look.  She appears to be roughly Sasquatch sized, with a red horn coming from the top of her forehead.  She's carrying a club the size of a tree branch.  Your curiosity ends up costing you.  She's right on top of you before it occurs to you to shoot this 7 foot Amazon.  She swings her bludgeon one handed in a golf swing, taking out Washington to your side.  You fire but miss and she moves too fast to bring your rifle to bear.  She's standing over you and as you look up and everything goes black as she swings her club down on your helmet.
  192.  
  193. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  194.                         SSG Erik "The Red" Nielsen
  195.    
  196.     You're lying in a pool of something.  Blood?  No, it's too cold.  Piss?  Last you checked, you don't piss from your back.  Water.  Your Camelbak popped when you hit the tree.  You wiggle your toes.  Good, you can still do that.  You come to the realization that everything fucking hurts.  That's good, you're not paralyzed.  You open your eyes.  You start to move your legs.  Nothing seems to be broken.  You move your arms.  Still good to go.  You remember that some scaly woman with wings punched through a helicopter and took it out of the sky.  Not good to go.  You consider the possibility that it's all a result of your possible head injury from falling out of the Blackhawk.  That doesn't make any sense, though, how else would you have fallen out?  Lots of questions, not a lot of answers.  You use your headset to try to call TOC, or someone.  
  197.  
  198. "Paladin Actual, this is Paladin Three."
  199.  
  200. No response.
  201.  
  202. "This is Paladin Three, anyone out there?"
  203.  
  204. Still no response.  Headset's trashed.  
  205.  
  206.     You prop yourself up on your elbows and look around for your rifle.  No sign of it yet.  You slowly begin to pick yourself up.  You draw in a sharp breath as pain shoots through your midsection.  Broken ribs, most likely.  You set yourself down and lean up against the tree.  You flip down your night vision goggles and get a look around.  A narrow beam of green light is shooting into infinity at an angle.  The PEQ-2 on your rifle.  You turned it on before falling out.  You get up slowly to follow the beam, and pick it up.  The EOTech is busted, so you flip up the iron sights.  You thumb the selector switch from SAFE to SEMI and shoulder your weapon.  
  207.    
  208.     You begin to walk in the direction of smoke trails in the distance, and you begin to hear gunfire, low claps of suppressed rifle fire and short bursts of LMG fire, it's got to be Paladin team defending the crash sites.  You keep moving, and you begin to realize you're not hearing any return fire.  No AK fire, no PKMs, no RPG fire.  This is worrying.  You remember the smile of the woman-thing pressed up against the windshield before she punched through it.  The suppressed rifle fire turns into full automatic spraying, and the LMG fire bursts become longer and longer until it's clear the fingers aren't leaving the triggers.  You pick up the pace.  
  209.    
  210.     You hear a woman's voice and some cackling, followed by a low moan.  Through the trees you see two figures, one lying on the ground and the other crouching over the one on the ground.  As you get closer you see the crouching figure is a woman, with black fur on her arms and lower legs.  She has pointed ears on top of her head and some kind of weird bat wings on her back.  She appears to be walking around in her underwear for some reason.  The most interesting thing is a seemingly segmented tail with a large bulb on the end, covered in sharp spines.  It pulsated and appeared to connect the two figures.  You slowly move forward.  It occurs to you that you haven't heard any gunfire for at least a minute.  
  211.  
  212. "Haha!  You're so fucking weak!  All of you, thought you were some bad motherfuckers, but you just hadn't met bad yet."
  213.  
  214.     The man on his back was Weasel, and he moaned and babbled incoherently as the bulb undulated on his crotch.  What the fuck.  She squatted down to get closer to Weasel's face and she ran her tongue up his face.  She moaned and purred like a cat.  
  215.  
  216. "Mmmmhhyou taste so good."
  217.  
  218.     You aim down the sights and slowly place your finger on the trigger.  You begin to apply pressure when you feel a stinging pain in your neck, sending the round high and wide.  You bring your left hand to your neck, and feel a long spiny needle coming out of your neck.  Fire begins to run through your body, and a feeling like electric shock drops you to the ground.  Your face flushes and you begin to sweat.  Your dick begins to get hard, and before you know it, it's throbbing and painfully erect.  You find it impossible to move, so you lay there and suffer from want of something to put your cock into.  You forget about Weasel, Aslanbek, Paladin team, and that cunt ex-wife who's probably getting air-tighted by three PFCs she picked up at the Applebee's in Fayetteville.  
  219.  
  220.     Days pass in your mind.  The woman with wings and the tail appears in your vision, standing over your prostrate body.  Is there some way you can stick your dick in her?  Her tail seems to read your mind and opens like some kind of meat lotus, insides coated with a mix of clear fluid and sticky white fluid.  Cum.  It's cum.  That thing is going to make you cum.  You don't know what it is, you just know you have to put yourself inside of it.  An intense need to do this fills your body.  She can sense this.  A smile creeps across her face.  
  221.  
  222. "Straggler, huh?  Better late than never, I suppose.  All the other girls got first pick, it's only fair I get two for the price of one.  Maybe you can please me better than your friend here."
  223.  
  224. Friend?  What friend?  Weasel?  Fuck that guy.  He doesn't sound like someone you can put your dick into.  Her on the other hand, she seems to be receptive to the idea.  She squats down, hovering inches above the painful bulge in your pants, taunting you.  
  225.  
  226. "Someone's happy to see me," she says, letting that last part hang.
  227.  
  228.     She puts a black furred paw (Paw?  It's a paw, with pads and everything) on your chest and lightly runs her claws down the front of your plate carrier.  She slowly runs her paw down to your pants and begins to undo your belt, slowly, on fucking purpose.  You furrow your brow in frustration, it's what you can move right now.  She can see the frustration in your face and her smile gets bigger.  
  229.  
  230. "Oh, what do you think is about to happen here, you fucking pervert?!"  She laughs.  “Think you get to have some fun with me, do you?  It's the other way around, I'm the one having the fun, you're just a dispenser to me."
  231.  
  232.     You ponder the word "dispenser" and wonder if that will have any effect on you cumming inside her.  She's about to get the zipper undone when you hear something you've heard many times, but in the haze of your delirium, it doesn't register at first.  It's the sound of lead hitting meat.  A neat hole is now placed in the middle of her chest and she's howling in pain.  You hear the same sound again and the hole is now a little larger.  You're angry that you can no longer put your dick in this tailed-cat-woman-thing but you can't help but admire the fact that the shooter put two rounds in the same spot.  Blood is pouring out as her tail begins to thrash around, shooting spines in wild directions.  Her wings flap furiously but can't generate enough power to take off, and a panicked look is on her face.  She rolls off of you and begins to crawl slowly away, leaving a slug trail of blood starting on your plate carrier.  A minute or so later a tall figure in dark green camo with a short, scoped rifle steps over your body, and you hear the muffled report of three shots in rapid succession.  
  233.  
  234.     The figure walks back to you.  He looks pretty tall.  You say he because you don't know any women who appear to be 6'5"+.  He's carrying a VSS Vintorez, a suppressed marksman's rifle from Russia.  Only in Russia.  He's Russian.  A patch on his sleeve becomes visible as he crouches down to get a better look at you.  The patch shows an owl plunging a sword downwards, with a white parachute behind it.  GRU Military Intelligence.  Airborne Spetsnaz operative.  Big league hitter.  He's wearing a hood over his head and a green bandana over the lower half of his face, so all you can see are green eyes with wide black pupils.  Squatting there, you hear the voice and watch the bandana move.
  235.  
  236. "Get up, yankee."  Heavy accent, throaty, almost a growl.  Something strange about it though.
  237.  
  238. "C...can't", you say with great effort "moovve."
  239.  
  240. You see eyes roll.  "Great.  Mne eto nado kak zuby v zadnitse."
  241.  
  242.     Your Russian is pretty rusty, but he doesn't sound pleased either way.  He slings his rifle over his shoulder and pulls a PK machine gun from the other side of his back.  He sets it down on the ground and picks you up with gloved hands in a fireman carry.  With his free hand he picks up the PK and points it ahead of him.  You wonder how strong this guy is to carry 250+ pounds of operator and gear on his back, only to hold a 20 pound machine gun in his free hand.  You wonder if you would be able to do it when your thoughts are interrupted by the Slav swearing.
  243.  
  244. "Ty che blyad?!  Hey, mudak, stay in your pants!"
  245.  
  246. You're confused at first, but then remember the raging erection you still have.
  247.  
  248. "Not, my fault."
  249.  
  250. "Right.  We need to move."
  251.  
  252.     The Russian begins to move.  Fast.  You're not sure if you could keep up with him even in PT gear, much less full battle rattle and someone on your back.  You come to a sudden stop, and look up to what appears to be a 7 foot tall She-Hulk cosplayer with a club.  She says in a loud voice, "Took you long eno-" and stops when she realizes the Russian isn't who she thought he was.  Looking down again at the PK, it raises up and levels at the green woman and cuts loose a long string of fire.  Hot brass rains out of the ejector and the empty belt trails from the receiver.  You look up again and the big woman is lying in the dirt, blood pooling beneath her.  The Russian begins to run again, somehow even faster, as you hear women's voices yelling behind you.  
  253.  
  254.     The Russian's energy is seemingly boundless as he continues to run for a while, up steep grades that would wind you easily.   In the dark you can't see a whole lot from his shoulders, but as he slows down, it becomes clear that you two are at your destination.  He crouches down to walk into a cave with you on his back and your helmet bumps against the cave wall.
  255.  
  256. "Fuck!"  
  257.  
  258. "Sorry.  Not used to so much dead weight."  You're set down on a cot and lain on your back.
  259.  
  260. "It will take time to get poison out."  Poison?  Is that why your cock is still hard as stone?
  261.  
  262.     You start to be able to move your feet and hands a little, but you're still horny as fuck and flushed with heat.  The Russian sets you down on an army cot and sets his weapons down.  You look around and see a lot of military equipment, some rations, a case of ammo and grenades and an RPG.
  263.  
  264. "Don't worry, I lost them before we got here."
  265.  
  266.     The Russian is facing away from you, and the voice sounds different.  The hood comes off the Russian's head, and long locks of yellow-orange hair striped with black come pouring out, and two round ears point up from the top of the Russian's head.  The Russian turns to you with bandana around her neck, and you see a beautiful face looking back at you.  This is a woman.  She regards you with some disdain, clearly remembering your manhood poking into her shoulder while she saved your life.  She removes her gloves, showing paws similar to the meat tailed lady with wings from earlier, but with orange fur with black stripes, like a tiger.  She takes off her camo overcoat, revealing a similar patterned camo blouse with a horizontal striped white and blue undershirt.  The overcoat concealed everything good about her figure, including a now noticeable bust, hips and ass.  Taking off the jacket also reveals a tail that is now free and slowly moving from side to side.  
  267.  
  268.     She then takes off her blouse, showing off her musculature and her chest, probably Ds, she has a pretty large frame for a woman.  The more you think of her tits, the more you remember that painful hard on.  With some effort, you slowly take off your helmet, and start moving slowly toward her.  Her ears perk up and she turns back to you, reading your intentions and they put a look of bemused exasperation on her face.  Like a bolt from the blue, she's pinning you on your back to the cot.  She's stronger than you, but it's still hard to move.
  269.  
  270. "I will let the Manticore venom in your bloodstream explain this," she says.  
  271.  
  272.     Your dick is desperately trying to escape your pants and enter her, mere inches away.  So close, and yet so far.  She leans in close to you and says, "I will not hold this against you, but if you try this after the poison is out of your body, I will kill yo-" She's cut off by you kissing her, and it happens for what seems to be an hour.  It's not an hour, but it was long enough to derail her train of thought momentarily.  She pulls back suddenly and shouts "MUDAK!" before head butting you.  Stunned, your head bounces off the cot, and she begins to mutter things in Russian in a low voice.  She grabs a few straps and starts to tie your hands to the cot.
  273.  
  274. "'snot...what I'm into, but...whatever floats your boat, babe," you slur through the pain.
  275.  
  276.     Her eyes get wide, ears flatten on the top of her head and she shows a set of fangs.  She then gives you an angry, low growl.  "We will see if you are ready to behave when the poison leaves your system."  She stands up, grabs her Vintorez and a pair of binocs and storms out to the entrance of the cave, leaving you to fall asleep.  Boner or not, it's been a long night.  
  277. ­­­­­_________________________________________________________________________
  278.  
  279.                         Spc Joe Daniels
  280.    
  281.     You slowly begin to regain consciousness to the sound of two angry women arguing.  You being carried roughly over someone's shoulders.  Your arms and legs are bouncing against the body of a massive woman, you know it's a woman because you can look down and see a distinctly muscled woman's ass, and you surmise that your legs are resting against her impossibly large chest.  Your ears begin to focus on the argument.
  282.  
  283. "-told you that you hit them too hard, Yuki!  If we get back and half of the catch is retarded because you scrambled their noodles, SHE is gonna be real pissed with you!"
  284.  
  285. You feel the massive chest under your legs begin to move as a big voice says, "Who's gonna tell her?  You?  Not good for your health, you know."
  286.  
  287. "I'm pretty sure she can figure it out on her own."
  288.  
  289. "Whatever.  I didn't hit them that hard."
  290.  
  291. "Bullshit, the big black guy is drooling with his eyes rolled back."
  292.  
  293. "Wanna make an omelet, gotta use eggs."
  294.  
  295. "Break eggs, retard."
  296.  
  297.     You hear the sound of a truck door shutting and you're tossed like a rag doll into the back of a large military truck.  The huge woman has a horn coming out of her head.  This is the one that clubbed you.  She sees your face and turns her head, saying, "See!  I told you they were fine!"  Two triangular ears poke over the horizon of the truck gate and a face follows it, framed with blonde hair and a few yellow furred tails moving independently of each other.
  298.  
  299. "Whatever, help me with this one."
  300.  
  301.     The truck gate opens, and the girl with ears is lifting up an unconscious body with some effort.  The horned one picks him out of her hands with a single hand and tosses him next to me.  It's Anderson.  Neither of you are armed.  More and more women begin to show up with more unconscious bodies, some drooling, some babbling, some are crying.  A woman with a forked tongue and a snake's tail for a lower body drops off Williams from 2nd Squad and winks at you with a clearish membrane.  A winged woman with green scales and claws on her arms delivers an unconscious Adams.  Someone with feathers and bird wings drops off the LT.  This continues, with different Rangers carried by different creatures until the truck is full.  A larger gate comes down over the back of the truck, locking you and everyone else in.  Someone yells, "Alright, let's go!"
  302.    
  303.     The truck, and several others from the sound of it, roar to life and begin moving to an unknown destination.  You don't know how long you're in the truck as you drift in and out of consciousness.   It's too dark in the truck to see other people's faces, so you say "Adams.  You awake?"
  304.  
  305. "Yeah."
  306.  
  307. "What the fuck, man."
  308.  
  309. "I don't know, something grabbed me and flew off with me.  Looked like a dragon or some shit.  Scarier than the time I had a parachute packed wrong and had me upside down when it opened.  I think I might've pissed myself.  What about you?"
  310.  
  311. "Some giant clubbed me and knocked me out."
  312.  
  313.     Sometimes all you can say is what the fuck.  Adams did so.  A short while later the truck came to a stop.  The gates of the truck opened, filling the back with dim light.  Everyone was herded out into a large indoor vehicle bay.  A heavy hydraulic door was already shutting about 20 meters behind the trucks.  One of the soldiers, Johnson, was closest to the door and began to make a run for the door.  He got about 10 feet when he tripped over his own feet.  There were white ropes around his ankles that weren't there before.  A big, hairy spider with a woman's upper body and big claws skittered over to where Johnson was and put him over her shoulder.  She had some kind of red bandana with weird runes over part of her face, and her legs looked like the ends of sharp teeth.  
  314.  
  315. "You won't get very far, if that's what you're thinking of doing."  A voice from above, smug and cruel.  Everyone's eyes look up to a cat walk above the trucks, and they're greeted with the sight of HER.  Light blue skin, with the expression of a spoilt child.  She looked to be no taller than five feet, and had dark blue horns protruding from the front of her forehead.  Black, bat-like wings were visible from her back and a thin tail with what looked like a playing card spade on the end waved back and forth.  She was wearing a black SS uniform with all the insignia removed, complete with jackboots and Jodhpur pants.  She slaps a riding crop into her clawed little hands and then adjusted her cap with the Death's Head on it.  She looked like the star of an S and M porn directed by Marilyn Manson, and the lack of any rank or decorations on the uniform led you to believe that this was more for her weird power trip kinks than any kind of actual authority.  Still, she exuded a dictatorial attitude over the other monsters present.  
  316.  
  317. "I assure you, escape is quite impossible!" Her voice was girly, but she still manages to make you flinch.  "Any attempts at escape will be met with harsh punishment."  You hear the hairy spider woman holding a squirming Johnson start to laugh.  
  318.  
  319. "Take them to their cells!"
  320.  
  321.     You're being led around this facility when you see that everything appears to have been carved from stone.  You're underground.  It must have taken decades to make this.  The wide hallway accommodates the large size of some of these creatures, and coming the opposite direction is an eight foot spider with brown hairy legs.  Her human section has dark brown skin with long black wavy hair.  She's wearing a long white lab coat and a button down shirt that cover a set of breasts that would be amazing if they weren't attached to a walking nightmare.  Over the lowest part of the human section is a black skirt.  Her face could be considered beautiful, but the 6 yellow eyes is jarring to say the least.  She sees you looking and you make eye contact with the largest pair of eyes.  Shit.  She smiles and walks over to you.
  322.  
  323. "Yuki, I will take charge of this one.  I have some tests I need to run on him", she says in a soft accent that you are unable to place.
  324.  
  325. The giant with the horn smirks and scoffs, "Whatever you want to call it, Doc, just make sure he gets to his cell."
  326.  
  327. "Oh yes, certainly, he will be taken care of."
  328.  
  329.     You panic inwardly at the implications of the conversation that just happened.  "Tests", and "taken care of" are not the things you want to hear pass from the lips of this abomination.  She gently places a clawed hand on your shoulder and says, "This way, please."  She leads you up a set of stairs and down a hallway into a dark room with white tiles.  There is a chair in the middle of the room and several cameras on a tripods, aimed at the chair from different angles.  You tense up involuntarily and she puts another hand on your shoulder to keep you in place.  "Try to relax, and we can make this more pleasant.  Please, sit."
  330.    
  331.     You sit.  The chair is bolted to the floor.  She turns on the camera and a blinking light comes on.  "What is your name?" she asks in a calm voice.
  332.  
  333. "Specialist Joseph Daniels, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers, U.S. Army."  You puffed your chest out a little, figuring you would never get a chance to be proud about it again.  She walks over to the other cameras and turns them on as well.  
  334.  
  335. "Joseph.  I like this name, Joseph.  You can call me Ana."
  336.  
  337.     You say nothing as she walks over to you.  You have this terrible feeling that things are about to get even weirder than they have been already.  Faster than a door being slammed, she's right in front of you.  Her lower abdomen curls downward, now pointing at you and you hear the faint sound of silk passing quickly through hands.  You look down and your feet are tied to the chair.  They can't budge.  As you attempt to process this, she brings herself in close, her breasts are pressing against your body and you can feel her nipples getting stiff.  Her arms are around the back of the chair, binding your hands.  It's only occurred to you now to start to struggle, but it happened too fast.  
  338.  
  339.     She drapes her hands around the back of your neck and smiles a smile of many glistening, sharp teeth, with two big ones particularly grabbing your attention.  You see a long, pointed tongue inside her mouth and she brings her face in close and forcefully kisses you, pushing her tongue past your lips.  Your teeth are locked shut by your jaw and she brings a claw under your chin, making her intentions clear.  You relent and the tongue slides into your mouth, wrestling with yours and coiling around it.  She holds this for a long moment and slowly pulls herself away, the tongue leaving last with a string of spit connecting you two briefly.  You begin to say something in protest and she quickly places a clawed finger over your mouth.  "Do not speak and ruin this moment", she says, her sultry voice seducing you and commanding you at the same time.  She takes off her lab coat and throws it to the floor, and then begins to unbutton your blouse.  
  340.  
  341.     She's holding her stomach against your crotch and she's gently grinding against you, causing your dick to begin getting hard.  Your heart begins to race as she unbuttons her shirt, unleashing her beautiful brown tits, held up by a large, lacey black bra.  You're not sure what's scarier, how turned on you are, or how you were right about them being great.  "You like this?” she says with a look of smug satisfaction, smiling.  She places a hand on your pulsating dick and moves her hand up, slowly to the belt, where she carefully undoes it.  She slowly pulls down your pants to see the adult diaper you forgot you were wearing.  She breaks into howling laughter and says "If you wanted to be treated like a baby, you should have told me Joseph! Ha ha ha ha!"  She immediately undoes her bra and shoves her soft breasts into your face.
  342.  
  343. "Suck on them, baby Joseph"
  344.  
  345.     You sit there stone faced.  She pushes them into your face, smothering you and she pulls your pants down and grabs you by your aching balls, your erect cock popping out and slapping you on your midsection.  "We can do this nice", she squeezes your balls just enough to let you know she meant business, "or we can do this the hard way".  You begin to suck on her brown nipples, running your tongue on the hot mounds of flesh shoved into your face.  Her grip on your balls relaxes, and now she's softly juggling them in one hand.  She slowly moves up to the base of the shaft and runs her hand lightly up to the tip, glistening with a bit of precum.  She rubs the sensitive glans, moving the precum all around the head of the dick.  You shudder from the contact, and she begins to slowly move her hand up and down on your dick.  She feels the beat of your heart in your dick and makes a low moan.  
  346.  
  347. "I think you're ready, Joseph."
  348.  
  349.     You feel her take you in her hand, and she rubs your glans against the soft lips of her opening, wet with her own juices.  She moves it forward a little to rub her clit, then back to the entrance, slowly lowering herself onto you.  You almost bite down on her nipple when the head pushes past the opening and she gasps sharply at the perfect mix of pleasure and pain.  "Not so rough, Joseph, we have plenty of time for that later."  She continues to lower herself down onto you, all of her eyes tightly shut when she reaches the base.  She tilts her head back and bites her lip and you feel contractions gripping you and moving up the shaft, squeezing you for all your worth.  Her eight legs begin to slowly pick up her beautiful brown body and she rocks her hips to move up the shaft, almost pulling you up along with her.  The muscles loosen the kung fu grip on your dick, allowing her to move up slowly and get to the glans, when she slams back down all the way to the base.  She repeats this process, of slowly moving up the shaft and quickly back down again for a while, her moaning and your grunting getting closer in rhythm and volume.  She begins to speed up, going faster and faster until you feel her body shudder and she cries out in ecstasy.  You feel her come and her walls grip down on you in midstroke, bringing you to the edge and then past the edge in one motion.  You grunt and begin to fill her with your hot seed, several jets of thick white painting her insides and running down your shaft to pool up with her juices at the base of your cock.  She pulls off of you and your dick, rapidly becoming soft and covered with liquid filth flops onto its side.  
  350.  
  351. "That was very good, Joseph.  I did not even have to use the venom."  
  352.  
  353. It doesn't occur to you to ask what that means.  She reaches down to your pants, down by your ankles and picks up a photo of you and Tammy, both of you smiling.  
  354.  
  355. "Is this your girlfriend, Joseph?"  She shows you the picture.  Fuck.  Tammy.  
  356.  
  357. "She's going to be very sad when she finds out she can't compare to an Arachne."
  358.  
  359. You look around the room at the cameras you forgot about, getting the action from all angles, and the realization begins to show on your face.
  360.  
  361. "Figured it out, have you?  When we take a prisoner, we send a proof of life video back to their families, just so they can know you're alive."  She smiled widely, showing those fangs of hers.  
  362.  
  363. You begin to shout, "NO!  DON'T DO THIS!"
  364.  
  365. "Do what, Joseph?  You could have said no."
  366.  
  367. "You never gave me the chance", you say, on the verge of tears.
  368. She holds you close and kisses your forehead.  "There, there, meu soldadinho.  Soon I can make you forget all about this woman."  She brings the side of her face to yours, moving downward slowly.  You feel two pinpricks on your neck and your body begins to heat up and you start to sweat.  Your cock begins to fill with blood again, this time painfully so.  It turns bright red and is throbbing in under a minute.
  369.  
  370. Panting, you say, "What are you doing?"
  371.  
  372. Smiling, she says, "I'm not done yet."
  373.  
  374. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  375.  
  376.  
  377.                 Red
  378.  
  379.     Your eyes snap open and you try to get up off the cot.  Your arms are still strapped to the metal legs of it.  You look down to see a tent in your trousers.  Morning wood.  Doesn't appear to be affected by the poison anymore, it just feels like your regular run of the mill stiffy.  Not the hot, painful affliction guiding your actions like last night.  Last night.  The crash.  Weasel being pumped by a meat bulb on a tail.  The winged cat lady standing over you.  The big Russian.  You slowly begin to jimmy your hands and wrists through the straps.  It was a hasty tie down, but still effective.  You pull your right hand free and untie your left.  You sit up and rub your wrists.  With the morning light creeping in through the mouth of the cave, you get a better look at your surroundings.  On your left you see the boxes of explosives and ammunition, rations and communication equipment, boxes stamped with Cyrillic writing.  
  380.    
  381.     You look to your right and see a number of maps, some local maps of Afghanistan, some larger ones of Central Asia, former Soviet republics like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.  Grainy pictures of dour looking men with beards and bushy eyebrows are pinned to the maps in different places, some with red circles around the faces, some are X'ed out.  The biggest picture is on a map of Afghanistan, some Cyrillic script underlined several times.  You recognized the man in the photo.  Aslanbek.  It only made sense that the wily Chechen would be on more than one hitlist, he's been a thorn in the Russian side for the better part of 30 years.  You wonder if the Russian planned on taking him and his team on by herself, and then you remembered her superhuman speed and reflexes.  In the corner next to the cot was your rifle and your helmet.  You pick up the rifle and begin to walk out to the entrance where the Russian was still sitting with her Vintorez and binoculars.  Her ears perk up at your approach and her striped tail becomes ram rod straight for a split second before going back to its normal, slow, back and forth sway.  The defined musculature of her back slowly begins to relax, not entirely.
  382.  
  383. "Feeling better, are we?" she growls, venom dripping from the statement.
  384.  
  385. "Uh, yea, about that.  I'd like to apologize about that, uh," you say, searching for a name you haven't been given.
  386.  
  387. "Kotova.  Captain Kotova."
  388.  
  389. "Staff Sergeant Nielsen," you say as you crouch down next to her as she surveys the landscape, "but most just call me Red."
  390.  
  391. She looks away from her binoculars and gives you a glance, staying with your beard.
  392.  
  393. "I can see that.  Tell me, why do you yankees feel the need to grow long hair and beards?  It looks...unprofessional.  Makes you look like a barbarian."
  394.  
  395. "Only way for the Afghans to take you seriously.  The men all grow beards, they won't listen to men who don't have beards.  Without them, you look like the English or the Ru-", you cut yourself off before saying Russians, and Kotova's pupils narrow and her ears flatten a little.  
  396.  
  397. "Only way they'll take you seriously," you repeat.  A dull pain echoes through your side and you remember that you fell out of a fucking helo last night.  You start to take off your gear.  She looks at you, thinking you're stripping down.
  398.  
  399. "Think I broke a rib last night when I fell out of the helo."
  400.  
  401. She arches an eyebrow and for a moment you tell yourself that this big tiger is at least a little impressed that you survived that.
  402.  
  403. "Why did you do something that stupid?"  She's not impressed.  
  404.  
  405. "Wasn't exactly my call."  You recount the events of last night, the cause of the crash and you falling out.  You leave out the part about your team going after Aslanbek.  You take off the camo UnderArmor that was underneath your multicams, twist a little in pain and see your right side with a big discolored bruise.  If not broken, then definitely in a bad way.  You reach into your kit and grab a bandage with gauze.  After you place the bandage, you begin to wrap your midsection carefully with the gauze.  All this time Kotova is watching.  
  406.  
  407. "What does that say?” she asks, pointing to one of your tattoos, an Eagle holding a scroll fluttering in the air.
  408.  
  409. "Hmm? Oh, uh...’our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.'"  The Iowa state flag.  Weasel was there when you got that tattoo, not long after the both of you got your berets.  Weasel's from Texas, so it always shocks him that someone would be proud to be from somewhere that wasn't Texas.  You thought of Weasel, lying on his back and fucking the end of a tail like some kind of drooling drunk.  Babbling and moaning incoherently.  No one deserves that, least of all one of your brothers.  
  410.  
  411. "I need to go back to the crash site."
  412.  
  413. "No.  Could be more of them, you'd get taken."
  414.  
  415. Taken?
  416.  
  417. "Taken where?"
  418.  
  419. "I don't know yet."
  420.  
  421. "Where are we now?  Show me on the maps."
  422.  
  423.     She walks in and points to one of the local maps.  You look, and following from the intended flight path and projected LZ from last night, you trace back to Camp Chapman on the map.  From what you could remember from the landscape last night, you think the crash site is about 10 km from here, on the nearby mountainside.  You grab your helmet and start putting on your gear, wincing a bit putting on your UnderArmor and Multicams.  
  424.  
  425. "You can't go", she says with the authority of an officer.  Too bad she was in the wrong army.  
  426.  
  427. "I don't know if you've noticed, but my entire team's been taken prisoner by some group of monster...women," you almost choke on the absurdity of the words you just said, "and my command has no idea what's happened to us.  And maybe it hasn't occured to you, but I don't take orders from Russian...Cat women!"
  428.  
  429.     Her ears flattened on top of her head and she angled her face downward, eyes wide and slowly baring her fangs.  "You would be wise to not call me that."  You begin to back away slowly, grabbing the last of your gear on the way out of the cave.  You turn around and start working your way down the rocks to where you believe the crash site to be.  You look for broken twigs and boot prints, finding a set of pawprints that had been loping up the mountain.  Must be Kotova's.  You follow the trail for a while, still moving slowly.  Keeping low, you see a small pile of shell casings.  You pick one up.  A big rim around the base of the casing, and stamped in Cyrillic.  These are Kotova's.  Which means...You look around and see a pool of blood with a trail and a lot of crushed grass and twigs leading away.  You look around for any sign of Weasel but find none.  You find more dried pools of something that resembles blood but are slightly different shades or colors.  You assume that the Paladins were at least scoring some hits at first.  
  430.    
  431.     You start seeing more and more shell casings, leading back to the crash site.  Brass 5.56 and 7.62 litter the area around the first Blackhawk.  Blackened spots where grenades went off and splintered trees were all over the place.  You see shattered rifles and machine guns, broken in two like twigs over a kid's knee.  Forming a ring around the helo, you see a last group of piles of casings, pistol rounds, 9mm and the occasional .45.  Paladins fought to the last round.  You're not sure how many were taken alive, but you know they weren't taken easily.  You check the cockpit to see if the radios are working, but everything has been smashed.  
  432.  
  433. "Don't you know it's dangerous to be out here on your own?"  An accented growl reached your ears, similar to Kotova's, but more malevolent, more sinister.  You spin around and take aim at a flash of green camouflage and black fur, the first two rounds miss, but the third wings your target, and a small spray of crimson mist hangs in the air as your target howls in pain.  Your target is still moving, and has covered the distance between you.  She knocks your rifle out of your hands and swipes at your face as you backpedal away.  You missed the full brunt of her black furred paw but still got hit with one of her claws, a gash cutting open your face from your cheek to your nose.  She bends down and picks you up by your gear and brings you close.  You finally get a good look at her.  She has ears on top of her head, like Kotova, but hers are Black and triangular, pointed upwards.  You see the place where your round hit her in the shoulder, blood still trickling from the entrance wound.  She's wearing the same camo pattern as Kotova's, but with a circular blue patch with a black bat.  GRU Spetsnaz, different sub unit than Kotova.  Her paws are roughly the same size as Kotova's but covered in black fur.  She motions to her shoulder and says, "I will make you hurt for this."  Blood is already trickling through your beard and you smile through pink teeth, "I've had worse."  She snarls a malicious smile filled with sharp fangs and says "We will see", after which she throws you like a toy into the side of the crashed helicopter.  You start to stand up when she plants a huge padded paw into your chest and pushes you back down.  You quickly reach for your pistol when she kicks your face, bouncing your head against the fuselage and sending stars into your vision.  "I will enjoy this," you hear her say.  
  434.  
  435.     You mentally prepare for the coup de grace when you hear an angry roar, a thud, and a pained yowl.  Your eyes focus on two snarling, clawed women at each other’s throats, and you recognize one as Kotova.  She followed you.  The one with black fur kicks Kotova off of her and they are soon both standing in fighting stances.  Kotova's opponent appears to be taller by almost a half foot, with a big black tail like a dog's.  They begin to circle each other slowly, speaking in low Russian, punctuated by feral growls.  You strain your ears and try to understand as much as you can.
  436.  
  437. "Well, cat...here to clean up...failed mission."
  438.  
  439. "...other problems...they've made their move...Aslanbek."  Your ears perk up at Kotova's mention of the Chechen.  
  440.  
  441. "We know.  Why I'm here.  Have to clean up the loose ends."
  442.  
  443. "Where's your sister, Lieutenant Volkova?"
  444.  
  445.     The wolf shows her teeth and growls.  "Senior Lieutenant!" she yells and rushes Kotova, claws out.  It was a calculated move to anger Volkova, and she grabs her arm and flips Volkova on her back, delivering a solid blow to her solar plexus after she hits the ground.  Volkova rolls over and gets up to take a paw swipe at Kotova, only to be dodged and have a fist planted into her ribcage.  Volkova grunts and Kotova hits in the exact same spot, and Volkova hunches over.  Kotova kicks her legs out from under her and seems to be getting ready to finish her when Volkova pulls a ballistic knife from a sheath and launches it into Kotova.  Kotova roars and staggers back, the blade lodged into her right thigh.  By now you've been able to collect your thoughts and you draw your pistol, hand shaking a bit from the injuries you've sustained.  Volkova licks her fangs and moves closer to the limping Kotova, who looks extremely dangerous, but probably no longer able to take Volkova.  
  446.  
  447.     You take aim down the sights and fire three rounds, two of them hitting Volkova in the chest.  She screams out and pink foam bubbles from the entrance wounds.  Lung shot.  You pull yourself up off the ground and begin to slowly limp over to the two wounded women.  Volkova wheezed and foamed and you stand over her, putting three more rounds into her chest.  The lights go out in her eyes and you pick up the handle to the ballistic knife that was launched into Kotova.  You turn to Kotova and say, "This is going to hurt."
  448.  
  449. She nods, lips pursed.  You grab bandages from an unused grenade pouch on your vest, and place them around the blade.  Gently, you begin to pull the knife blade slowly from her thigh, and her eyes narrow in a wince.  She doesn't make a sound as the blade exits, but she does put a paw on your shoulder.  You put pressure on the wound and start to wrap the leg up before you realize her claws are digging into you.  
  450.  
  451. "Thank you," she says.
  452.  
  453. "It's the least I can do."
  454.  
  455. "No.  Thank you for," she almost chokes on it, "saving me."
  456.  
  457. You look into her eyes and give her a small nod.  You point a thumb at Volkova.  "Coworker of yours?"
  458.  
  459. "She wanted to get me out of the way."  She's not telling you everything.  
  460.  
  461. "Talk about a hostile work environment."  Kotova gives you a weird look, as the concept of a hostile work environment as anything but the norm is foreign to her.  You stick the blade of the ballistic knife back into the handle, clean it off and put it in its sheath.  Always wanted one of these.  You clip the sheath onto your belt.  Kotova looks at you and says, "You're bleeding."  She's referring to the 4 inch long gash across your face that Volkova gave you.  Bleeding is an understatement.  She reaches into a pack and pulls out bandages and alcohol and starts to clean the blood off your face.  "It will need stitches."
  462. "I trust you."  She seems to be taken aback by the statement.  Trust is probably hard to come by in the intelligence community.  She pulls a sewing needle from the kit and takes a lighter to burn the needle.  She threads it and starts to work on your face.  You do your best not to move or wince, so you practice clenching and unclenching your hands.  It takes some time, but several silent minutes later she's done.  
  463.  
  464. "How's it look?"
  465.  
  466. Matter of factly, she says, "Ugly.  I'm not a seamstress."
  467.  
  468. "It's all good, chicks dig scars."
  469.  
  470. She ponders this for a moment, but you can tell the expression is lost on her.  
  471.  
  472. "I'll help you back to your cave, but I need to get back to Camp Chapman."
  473.  
  474. "I'll come with you.  If her presence," pointing at Volkova's body," means anything, GRU is trying to get rid of me.  They may already have operatives at the cave."
  475.  
  476. "This might be difficult to explain."
  477.  
  478. "Any more difficult than dragons and ogres carrying off your teammates?"
  479.  
  480. She had a valid point.  You stand up, grab her paw to lift her up and put her arm around your shoulder to help hold her up.  You begin to walk west with her.
  481.  
  482. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  483.  
  484.                             Joe
  485.  
  486.     8 hours after you meet Ana, she's done with you, "for the day," as she puts it.  She presses the call button on the intercom in the room and asks for a guard to take you to your cell.  "Right away, Doctor," the voice chimes back.  She takes the photo of you and your girlfriend and the mp3 player that always seemed to find its way into your pocket when you went on ops.  
  487.  
  488. "I'll just hang on to these," she says, smiling.  
  489.  
  490.     You can't muster the energy to tell her otherwise, and a minute later a 7 foot tall musclebound woman with green skin and sharp teeth protruding from her lower jaw walks in and picks you up by the collar.  She has to drag you because your legs are jelly.  Ana smiles and waves to you as you leave.  "Goodbye, Joseph, I'll see you tomorrow!”  The door closes and She-Hulk says "Think she likes you, Loverboy," smirking.  A few minutes later, you look up from the floor and see a barred door opening, and She-Hulk tosses you inside
  491. .  
  492. "Hey buddy, looks like that green bitch put you through the wringer."
  493.  
  494.     It's Adams.  No matter what happens, you can always count on being able to hang out with Adams.  Every working party, every police call and field day, every time you stacked up on a door, you'd be near Adams.  Looks like prison is no different.  
  495. You don't look up at him, you just want to sleep.  
  496.  
  497. "Spider," you say.  "Big brown one."
  498.  
  499. "She film it?"
  500.  
  501. "Yeah."
  502.  
  503. "Mine too."
  504.  
  505. There is small comfort that you're not the only one.  
  506.  
  507. "Who did you?"
  508.  
  509. "Don't know.  She had pointy yellow ears and a bunch of tails.  Then some kind of cat.  Then a snake.  I know there were more in the room, but," Adams pauses, trying to find an easier way to say it, "I don't remember everything.  They kept injecting me with something to keep me going, I blacked out after the third one."  You turn your head to look at Adams.  He looks like hammered shit.  His t shirt is torn to shreds, you see bruises and scratches everywhere.  
  510.  
  511. "Sorry, man."
  512.  
  513. "Don't sweat it, bro.  I guess my recruiter wasn't lying when he said that chicks dig a guy in uniform."
  514.  
  515.     You smile weakly, and Adams gets up and picks you up to put you in the bottom rack.  You get a better look at the cell.  Toilet, sink, two racks.  Not much else.  The walls are stone, the floor is stone, the ceiling is stone.  The bars are steel, but there's no discernible lock.  It would appear they are opened remotely from the outside.  Outside the cell, you look across the wide hall to see other cells.  You're on the first floor, there are two more stories up.
  516.  
  517. "Who are these chicks?” Adams says, interrupting your observations.
  518.  
  519. "I don't know."  You start running through similar questions in your own mind, "Why are they here?  Why are they doing this?  Where did they come from?"  There was no point in asking Adams, he knew as much as you, nothing.  
  520.  
  521.     Your eyes begin to get heavy, and you wake up to the sound of cell doors opening.  There was a woman, if you can call her that, with a lower body of a huge snake with a rattle on the ends.  She regards you and Adams with a disdainful look and says, "It's time for breakfast."  It's not readily apparent if she means yours or hers.  "Get up!” she snaps.  You and Adams roll out of your racks and leave the cell.  As Adams walks out, the snake lady smirks and says, "Good to see you again, sugar plums," before slapping him on the ass.  You see that all the other cell doors are opened, and men in tattered uniforms are being led out of their cells.  You begin to notice men who aren't in your platoon.  You recognize a few of the Green Berets that you were supposed to pick up a few nights ago.  You see a few of the SEALs from Camp Chapman and some contractors.  Some are wearing military uniforms that you haven't seen before.  You even see bearded Afghan men, some carrying the hard bitten look of 10+ years of fighting in the Taliban, some probably just poppy farmers or goatherds.     
  522.  
  523.     You're all led into a large cafeteria and everyone starts standing in line.  Finally, something that makes sense to you.  Almost comforting, really.  Standing in line is sadly the most normal thing that has happened in the past few days.  The men in line sport scratches, bruises, bite marks and generally a look of shame and amazement that a group of monster women have not only completely outclassed them in combat, but have also violated many of them.  You get to the front of the line and see Jimenez, from 1st Squad, shoveling food onto trays from behind the glass partition.  He has a black eye.  You don't say anything to him because it looks like he doesn't want to talk about it.  The rattlesnake girl from before spits in Adams' food and winks at him, telling him to eat every bite.  The food is unidentifiable, smells like shit and it makes DFAC chow look like fine cuisine.  You sit down, take a bite and long for a Country Captain Chicken MRE.  That's how bad it is.  The rattlesnake is standing (can you stand if you don't have legs?) over Adams to make sure he eats it.  He does and starts to turn red and begins to sweat.  The rattlesnake smiles and says, "See you after breakfast, sexy", and slithers away, weaving through the tables.  
  524.    
  525.     After breakfast, you're led into a long room, filled with folding tables with cardboard boxes.  You're given toiletries, shower shoes, slippers and your prison uniform.  Multiples of grey shirts and pants with draw cord.  A huge, muscular woman with cattle horns and hairy hooves for feet tells every man to strip.  Surrounded by leering she-beasts, not everyone is exactly champing at the bit.  She starts stamping her hoof and snorting, motivating everyone to move faster.  You feel eyes crawling all over you as you strip down, hearing wolf whistles and snickers. "Ohh, that one's packing heat," you hear, not sure who they're talking about.  A bearded contractor you remember walking around Chapman asks why there isn't underwear in the uniform.  The huge cowgirl smiles a big toothy grin and says suggestively, "Let me show you."  The contractor appears to have the fear of God in him as he's dragged off, hooves clapping against the tile floor.  Adams got dressed extremely fast, and you see why.  He's still red and sweating, and an erection is tenting his grey prison pants.  The Rattlesnake makes eye contact with him and flicks her forked tongue at him in a lewd way.  
  526.  
  527. "Thinking of me, are you?" she says in a faux innocent tone
  528.  
  529.     Ever the joker, Adams replies with "No, my seventh grade math teacher.  Sexiest teacher I ever had, shame she retired before I could give her the After School Special."  He thrust his hips when he said After School Special.  
  530. The snake narrows her eyes and hisses at Adams, coiling her tail around his feet and pulls, dropping Adams on his back.  He drops all of his things and is pulled out of the room.  You pick up his stuff and pile it on top of your own, and everyone who isn't carried off by a monster is led back to his cell.  You sit on your rack and contemplate escape.  You don't know where you are, your cell is made of stone and all the silverware in the cafeteria is plastic.  You are pretty sure this prison is underground, as you haven't seen natural light since the hydraulic door closed in the vehicle bay.  That would probably be the best plan.   You begin to draw a mental map of the prison, but after you were taken to the Spider, you don't remember the way from there back to your cell.  You shudder at the memory of last night.  As if on cue, a slender girl with pointed ears and four fluffy tails walks up to the cell door, and it opens.  
  531.  
  532. "Get up.  The Doctor wishes to see you."
  533.  
  534.     You have about a foot and a hundred pounds on her, you feel you could take her down, but you don't have an escape plan formulated yet, and attacking her would accomplish nothing.  The thought crosses your mind that she might be able to kick your ass regardless.  That is definitely the kind of week this is turning out to be.  At least, this is what you told yourself.  There was a nagging at the back of your mind.  Maybe you wanted to see her.  This is what you wanted.  You shake your head, as if the movement would shake the thought away.  It remained.  You stand up, and start to follow the girl to the clutches of the doctor.
  535. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  536.  
  537.                                 Red
  538.  
  539.     Shortly after you and Kotova limp away from the crash site, you two take an inventory of what you have.  You have 10 magazines for your rifle, 4 grenades, 3 magazines for your sidearm, a compass, map, and a first aid kit that's now short some bandages.  You have a few pieces of beef jerky in your cargo pocket.  You didn't bring food because you were only supposed to be gone for a few hours.  Kotova left her cave in a hurry to follow you, and brought her Vintorez and several magazines, a 9mm pistol, a knife, and her own first aid kit.  That left you with about 70 km of rough terrain to cover with almost no food, and both of you were injured in various ways.  
  540.    
  541.     You both walk in silence for about an hour, then you notice that Kotova's ears have perked up and her nose is twitching.  You both slowly drop to a crouch.  She shoulders her rifle, so you do the same.  She aims down the sights and fires once.  In the distance, you see several animals break for cover while the one drops.  She picks up her shell casing and places it in her pocket, and you help her to stand.  As you walk towards her kill, you see what she shot at.  An Ibex lays dead on the rocks.  You didn't even see the motherfucker, and Kotova smelled it, heard it, and shot it.  She is terrifying in her own way, but you haven't seen the right moment to ask her what exactly she IS.  Is there a proper way to do that?  The only sapient beings you've met before the last couple days have all been humans.  Was she an alien?  A genetic experimental supersoldier from the Cold War?  There's no easy way to ask this question, but for the sake of your sanity, you'll have to do it soon.  
  542.    
  543.     She pulled her knife from the sheath, knelt down slowly (you could hear her grunt because of the stab wound) and began to clean her kill.  
  544.  
  545. "If you don't want to eat it raw, get a fire started."
  546.  
  547.     You've spent years of your life training to be one of the strongest, most capable, and lethal soldiers the US Army has, but you can't help but feel irrelevant next to this muscled cat in camouflage.  You're almost positive she could eat it raw if she pleased, and she's annoyed at the prospect of making a fire that could give away your position.  You were almost resigned to building a fire that would undoubtedly be seen at least a thousand yards off when you remember your folding entrenching tool.  Finally, vindication for all the scoffs when other Green Berets would see you attaching it next to your camelbak, saying it was an infantry tool, and we're not infantry.  You never know when a few hours in the field turns into a week.  You begin to dig a pit, placing firewood at the bottom.  Kotova looks on, seemingly disinterested.  After the completion of the secondary wind tunnel, your Dakota stove is complete, and you build the fire.  You both eat your ibex sitting next to the pit.  She seems content to eat silently, but the question is driving you insane.  
  548.  
  549. "I don't know a polite way to ask this, but what, uh, what are you?  I've never seen anyone like you before.  What were those things that took my team?  And the woman who tried to kill us?"
  550.  
  551.     You expect a glare from her, but are surprised with a mere sigh.  "That's fair.  Since my handlers saw fit to send my rival to kill me, I have nothing to lose by telling you.  There's no word for what I am, I have never met any others like me.  My first memories are of a state run orphanage.  None of the children were human, they were, “she searched for the word, "different."  She stared into the fire.  "When I was a little girl, a man in a uniform arrived in a big black car and took some of us away.  I had seen men in other uniforms taking children away, the caretakers told us they were given a new home.  He took the Volkova sisters and myself to a training facility where they taught us to fight and kill.  It seemed only natural to us.  We knew we weren't the same as regular people.  There were others like us, but none like me."  She stops for a minute, and you almost see sadness in her eyes.  She didn't talk for a while, and you almost thought she was done talking about it.  "They sent me to Chechnya in a special GRU unit when I was 18.  Myself, the Volkovas and a Lamia named Zmeyvina were tasked with taking out different rebel leaders."  You don't know what a Lamia is, but you assume she has some kind of animal features.  She goes on to talk about hits in Chechnya, Georgia, Central Africa, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and other places.  She had been a busy girl.  She wasn't concerned with state secrets at this point.  If she had been concerned, she would've left you for the tailed bat winged cat thing.  Or let Volkova finish you.  
  552.  
  553. "Why did you save me last night?  If your entire existence is a state secret, why save an American who can ID you?"
  554.  
  555. "I have seen what a Manticore does to a man.  I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
  556.  
  557. "A manti-what?"
  558.  
  559. "Manticore.  She uses her venom to get men aroused, then forces them to fuck their tails.  The venom and sex gets men addicted, and without it, they are shambling wrecks, not fit to be called a man.  They are twisted sadists who get off on the suffering of men."
  560.  
  561. You remember being hit with the venom last night.  A powerful aphrodisiac indeed.  If what Kotova says is true, to say that she saved you from a wretched existence is an understatement.  
  562.  
  563. "I never thanked you for that by the way.  I'd like to apologize again about kissing you.  I guess the combination of the venom and seeing a woman got to me."
  564.  
  565. Kotova looks down, maybe embarrassed.
  566.  
  567. "Do you know why those women were taking my team?  What did they want with us?
  568.  
  569. Kotova looks back up, serious again.  "It's just that.  They wanted you."
  570.  
  571. "But for what?  Where did they come from?
  572.  
  573. "I don't know all the specifics.  Many of them are not from this world."
  574.  
  575. "Aliens?"
  576.  
  577. "I don't think so.  I'm sure someone in GRU or State Security knows, but I did not have that clearance.  As for what they wanted you for, slaves, breeding, playthings."
  578.  
  579. You ask her what she means by breeding.  "Apparently they can reproduce with human men."
  580.  
  581. You ponder this. "And Volkova?  Why did she try to kill us?"
  582.  
  583. She seems less ready to speak of her.  Reluctantly, she begins to speak of her operations in Chechnya.  Kotova was the leader of the 4 woman squad charged with all manner of unconventional warfare, assassination, sabotage, kidnapping and the kind of wet works that spooks have wet dreams about.  "We were moving through Grozny at night, staying in cellars in day.  We were discovered and...Zmeyvina didn't come back.  The Volkova sisters blamed me for it, wouldn't follow orders, the handlers moved me to another unit for a while, before transferring me to solo work.  Said it suited my nature."  That last part had a particular sour tone to it.  
  584.  
  585. You've both finished eating, and you suggest getting back on the road.
  586.  
  587. "There aren't any roads nearby."
  588.  
  589. "It's a figure of speech."
  590.  
  591. You put what is left of the ibex in a bag and throw it over your shoulder.  You put out the fire by filling the Dakota stove with dirt and attempt to cover all signs of the fire.  You take Kotova by her outstretched paw and help her up and begin walking.  The trek west continues much as before, with little talking.  
  592.  
  593. That night you dig a hasty fighting position to sleep in, and offer to take the first watch.  Kotova lowers herself into the hole, and asks "Did you mean what you said before?"
  594.  
  595. "Hmm?  Did I mean what?"
  596.  
  597. "That I'm a woman.  Did you mean that?"
  598.  
  599. "Well, aren't you?"
  600.  
  601. "Yes."  Her tone spoke volumes. "When I was being trained, I could overhear the sergeants calling me a beast.  A wild animal that could perform tricks, no smarter than a circus lion to be tamed."
  602.  
  603. "You made a decision to save my life.  It's what a person would do, Kotova."
  604.  
  605. "Call me Katya."
  606.  
  607. "Alright, Katya.  Get some rest, I'll wake you up for watch in four hours."
  608.  
  609. She seemed satisfied with this, and made a contented sound like a deep grunt.
  610.  
  611. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  612.  
  613.                                 Joe
  614.  
  615.     Adams was brought back to his cell about an hour after your visit with the doctor.  All told, you had been gone for 7 hours.  Both of you looked gaunt, with bite marks on your neck and other parts of your body.  For a while, both of you just sit there staring off into space.  
  616.  
  617. "I grabbed your clothes after the snake carried you off."
  618.  
  619. "Liz."
  620.  
  621. "Huh?"
  622.  
  623. "Her name's Liz.  She told me to call her Liz."
  624.  
  625. "Did you?  Call her Liz?
  626.  
  627. "I called her a future pair of boots."
  628.  
  629. "Heh."  Adams' smart mouth might get him killed here.  "How'd that turn out?"
  630.  
  631. "Don't know.  She squeezed me so hard I passed out.  At least I didn't have to smell that stank pussy anymore."
  632.  
  633. "Should be careful with her, she might kill your dumb ass."
  634.  
  635. "She loves me too much."
  636.  
  637. "Don't be an idiot."
  638.  
  639. "I'm not even kidding.  Told me she was gonna get me hooked on her venom, so I wouldn't love anyone but her."
  640.  
  641. "That's not the same thing."
  642.  
  643. "I've had worse girlfriends."
  644.  
  645. "Jesus, Adams.  We need to get out of here."
  646.  
  647. "Yeah, but how?"
  648.  
  649. "Word from the other guys says Anderson and LT tried to attack a bird girl when their cell door opened.  Made a break for it, but didn't get far."
  650.  
  651. "What happened to them?
  652.  
  653. "Taken away.  Don't know where too.  I think the doors we were brought in through are the best bet.  Don't know how we'll get there, but it's better than nothing.  I think we just need to be ready if the opportunity arises."
  654.  
  655. "Hard to be ready to escape after 8 hours of violent fucking."
  656.  
  657. Adams had a point.  There was nothing said for a few minutes.  
  658.  
  659.     A haughty looking woman with green wings, a long tail, and scales over her clawed arms and feet walked to the cell door.  She looks directly at you and says, "I've been instructed to take you to her."  She looks to her left and nods.  The cell door opens, and you stand up, expecting to be taken to Ana again.  What could she possibly want after forcing you to fuck her for 7 hours?  But instead you take a right where you should go left, and soon you are in a huge office with a large desk at the end of the room.  Several paintings depicting scenes from Dante's Inferno adorn the walls, or something about Hell and eternal punishment.  It looks grisly either way.  At the end of this long room with marble floors was the small blue woman who told all of you that escape was impossible.  Still wearing her SS uniform, it looks like she's sitting on a stool, or some kind of bench, because there didn't seem to be anything behind her back.  
  660.  
  661. "Come closer!” she yelled from across the room.  
  662.  
  663.     You start to walk and stop about 5 feet away from her desk.  "Closer!” she snaps.  She looks at you angrily and slaps her riding crop against her chair, causing her to wobble momentarily.  Her wings jut out in reflex, ready to fly away.  Her eyes widen momentarily, and she slaps her chair again, saying, "Be still!"  Now that you've come closer, you see that her chair is Anderson on his hands and knees, sweating.  Even a dumbass like him doesn't deserve this.  You get a closer look at your captor.  Her attractive features seem to always look angry, and you find yourself wondering if she smiles.  Her eyes are red, but her skin is light blue.  Her dark blue horns go forward from the crown of her head and curve a little.  As a result, her SS cap doesn't quite fit on top of her head, but she seems dedicated to the getup.  Her pointed tail sways back and forth slowly, and her wings appear to be folded up a bit.  You're not sure if she can fly with those, but you won't be the one to ask.  Her uniform was tailored for her wings, and also to fit her slight frame.  A small chest pokes out from her blouse, and standing over her desk, you can see the beginnings of womanly hips leading down to her rear, parked in Anderson's lower back.  
  664.  
  665. "You're probably wondering why you're here."  Even when she's talking normally, she still sounds pissed.  You just hope that you aren't Anderson's relief.  You begin to open your mouth to reply when she snaps at you and tells you to shut up.  
  666.  
  667. "The doctor has taken an interest in you, do you know that?"
  668.  
  669. You stand there, silent.  She glares at you, and you realize she actually wants an answer.  
  670.  
  671. "It would seem so, ma'am."  It's a habit to call a woman in uniform ma'am.  
  672.  
  673. "Mistress!  And it doesn't seem, it IS!"
  674.  
  675. "Yes," you find the strength to say it, "Mistress."
  676.  
  677. "She likes you, but I have no idea why.  I'd have you here as an ottoman if she hadn't stopped me," she says, looking you up and down.  She shakes her head in disgust.  
  678.  
  679. "Do you know what this means?"
  680.  
  681. You said you didn't.  She swats at you to remind you to call her Mistress.  
  682.  
  683. "It means if you fool around on her, I'll have you hanging upside down in the ant pit!"
  684.  
  685. You don't know why she thinks what Ana does to you is some kind of relationship, or why you would consider going to another one of these monsters for pussy when Ana already keeps you going for hours at a time.  You also don't know what the ant pit is, nor do you wish to find out.  You start to tell her that you wouldn't dream of it when you notice her face turning a dark blue.  Sweat forms on her brow and her expression has changed completely, her eyes roll back a little and her mouth hangs open.  You consider the possibility of her choking on something when her expression goes back to anger and she swats something under her desk.  "NOT SO ROUGH!" she screams, swinging her crop wildly under her desk.  You hear a meek "S-sorry, Mistress" from under the desk and you realize where the LT ended up.  Jesus.  She looks at you next, and says, "What are you still doing here?  Get out of here, you've been warned."
  686.  
  687.     You quickly turn around and start walking out.  You hear her say "On the desk, boy.  Let's have a little fun." but you don't want to see what that entails.  The door opens before you get there, and the dragon is waiting.  As she leads you back to your cell, you are troubled by what the blue devil told you.  "Ana likes you".  Why would someone who likes you do these horrible things to you?  It seems like a fucked up way to show your affection.  Adams is dozing off in the same place you last saw him.  He wakes up after the door opens.
  688.  
  689. "Back so soon?  I thought your date would've been longer."
  690.  
  691. You ignore his joke and say quietly, "I think I have a big problem."
  692.  
  693. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  694.  
  695.                                 Red
  696.  
  697.     You wake up on the morning of the fourth day of your walk to Chapman and Katya isn't there.  Quickly sitting up, you grab your rifle and start looking around.  You see her about 50 meters away, and there's someone else standing with her.  She has green wings and a tail, another monster.  But she and Katya aren't trying to kill each other, so moving cautiously, you begin to make your way over there.  You start seeing more details about her.  She's wearing a woodland type camouflage, different than Katya's, and an olive green beret with jet black hair tied into a bun underneath.  She has big clawed feet and her sleeves are rolled up her scaled arms.  On the sides of her face, green scales appear to be creeping up on the human part of her, and she has horns pointing backwards from the side of her head.  She has a black leather pistol holster, probably with a Makarov inside, and she's carrying a Dragunov rifle.  She sees you, but doesn't make any movements to indicate she thinks you're a threat.  Katya turns to look at you as well, nods at you and continues her conversation.  They are not speaking Russian, but it is a Slavic language, and Katya's end of the conversation is a bit stilted.  As you get closer, you see a number of hashmarks carved into the butt of the Dragunov.  Her magazine pouches can almost cover her sizeable chest, but you can't help but notice it, hopefully discreetly.  
  698.  
  699.     You notice that the Dragon is eyeing you.  She says something, and Katya turns to you and says, "She thinks you look like a mujh."
  700.  
  701. "Who is she?"
  702.  
  703. "Ah, I forget.  This is Zmajić, Dusanka Zmajić.  I worked with her in Grozny a few years back."
  704.  
  705. Zmajić hears her name being said and assumes it to be an introduction.  She nods at you curtly.  
  706.  
  707. "Name's Red", you say, knowing she probably doesn't understand.  "She's not Russian, how did you meet her?"
  708.  
  709. "She does...freelance work, in a sense.  She's from Serbia.  Really, she goes and fights where she pleases, mainly against those on a jihad.  That's how we met in Grozny, she was after some of the same Chechens we were.  She got to one target before we did, and we couldn't identify the body because it was burned beyond recognition."
  710.  
  711. "A woman after my own heart.  But what is she doing here?"
  712.  
  713. "Same thing I was, going after Aslanbek."  You remember the picture of him on the cave wall.  With the mention of Aslanbek, Zmajić starts speaking rapid fire Serbo-Croat and making hand gestures.  Katya puts her paws up, presumably telling her to slow down.  
  714.  
  715. "She says Aslanbek has something to do with the recent kidnappings and disappearances.  I suspected as much, but I don't have the full picture either."
  716.  
  717. Zmajić says something else, and jumps into the air, flapping her huge wings.  She salutes Katya, and flies off.  
  718.  
  719. "She said she would let me know if she learned anything new.  She owes me one."
  720.  
  721. "Can you trust her?"
  722.  
  723. "I can and I have.  We often have similar goals, and we agreed to not fight over who gets to them first."
  724.  
  725.     You and Katya gather your things and start walking west again.  You notice that Katya's limp is getting better, but she still leans on you from time to time.  About an hour after the Dragon left, you hear a familiar sound, the sound of rotor blades cutting through the air.  You see a Blackhawk in the distance and quickly grab your compass, aiming the small mirror attached in the case at the helicopter.  The helicopter swings around and looks for a place to land.  Katya pulls her hood over her head and puts the bandana over her face.  The Blackhawk lands and the both of you board.  You give your name and rank, and the gunner looks shocked.  He hands you a headset and you're plugged in to the comms.  You show him your ID to confirm it, he looks you over and decides it's you.  
  726.  
  727. "You're the only one of the Green Berets to make contact with us since the crash.  We lost the Ranger QRF too.  What the fuck happened?"  
  728.  
  729. "All captured."
  730.  
  731. "Monster Girls?"
  732.  
  733. You're taken aback.  This must not be the only incident.  You nod.
  734.  
  735. "Fuckin' figures.  Shit's been hitting the fan out there, Staff Sergeant, and I don't mean just around here."
  736.  
  737. "Who's this?” he gestures to Katya, then notices her striped paws and starts to freak out and gesture wildly.  "WHAT THE FUCK, STAFF SERGEANT?  THIS IS ONE OF THEM!"
  738.  
  739. You move quickly to put a hand on his shoulder before he does anything stupid and you calmly say, "She's the reason I'm still alive, Corporal.  She's with me."
  740.  
  741. He settles down some and, visibly shaken, says, "Well, you gotta see the CO when you get to the base, we're under orders to bring any survivors to him immediately."
  742.  
  743. "Roger."  The gunner turns back to the Minigun, but keeps stealing glances at Katya.  
  744.  
  745.     The Blackhawk shortly makes its way back to Chapman.  Military Police are already waiting at the flight line when you land, the pilots must have called ahead.  Everyone is giving you and Katya looks and you're quickly ushered into a Humvee, driving the short distance back to the CO's office.  After placating the Colonel about bringing a "monster girl" on base, you explain that not only has she saved your life twice, but that she's no longer affiliated with Russian military intelligence.  You brief the Colonel on the failed raid, the crash, the kidnappings and Volkova.  Katya adds in her suspicions about Aslanbek, and this definitely piques the Colonel's interest.  He sits at his desk, processing this information.  
  746.  
  747. "Staff Sergeant, I don't know what all you know about what's been happening out in the world, but it's not pretty.  We've been getting reports of people high in the Pentagon going missing, people in Langley and in Washington as well.  It's not just us, either.  London, Paris, Moscow," He pauses and looks at Katya again, "Berlin, Tokyo, Shanghai.  Everyone's getting hit.  This is way beyond your pay grade, but SIGINT has been lighting up with talk about 'monster girls' kidnapping men in all corners of the globe.  We don't know where they're taking them, but if everything you just told me is true, it sounds like you narrowly avoided it.  And to add to the confusion, some are out in the open now, claiming to be friendly.  Snake women, horse women, wolf women, Ca-," he cuts himself off, looking at Katya, "all kinds of crazy shit.  The rumors are pretty bad, but the hard intel that we have is even worse.  No one is sure where they came from, or why some of them want to kidnap men, but the others seem friendly.  So as you can see, having you back with some intel is a fucking Godsend.  So you didn't see where they were going?"
  748.  
  749. "Barely made it away from them.  They totally outclassed us.  I saw the crash site the day after and Paladins fought to the last round.  But they were definitely taken."
  750.  
  751. He sits there for a moment, deciding what the best course of action might be.  There is nothing in the manuals or anyone's personal experience that has any guidance for this situation.  
  752.  
  753. "I need to make some phone calls.  Go to the med station, both of you, and be prepared to make this brief to more people in higher pay grades than me."
  754.  
  755. "Roger, sir."
  756.  
  757. You and Katya leave the office and start walking to the aid station.  Katya regards everyone's intense interest in her with an equal measure of indifference.  She seems to be well versed in this.
  758. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  759.  
  760.  
  761.                                 Joe
  762.  
  763.     White.  All you can see is white, and you can't move.  From outside your shell, you can hear Ana humming to herself.  As soon as you walked in, she took off your grey shirt, you upper body covered with her "kisses", twin pin pricks of her fangs dotting your chest like Morse code.  With a slow pull, your pants are on the floor, and she makes a low moaning sound as she brushes the palm of her hand against the shaft of your soft dick.  You shudder a little, and she began to wrap you up in her silk as soon as you were nude.  Your struggles were quickly stopped with a firm hand on your shoulder.  The slowly healing scars of claw marks on your back were a reminder that your days were hard enough without more injuries.  Ana seemed delighted that even after a week, you were still struggling against her.  Still fighting.  Most men would've given up by now, accepted their fate.  You still maintained a foolhardy notion that you would escape, go home one day, marry Tammy.  If Tammy saw your "proof of life" video, she'd probably leave you and forget about you.  You hoped that it was all some kind of head fuck, no tape in the cameras, or maybe the guards just kept them for their own collections.  You think of your first time with Ana and remember the heat from the venom, your hips pumping frantically, desperately trying to breed with her.  Every time you finished, you were still ready for more.  Hours went on like that.  They go on like that every day now.  Your cock begins to get hard involuntarily at the memory, and presses against your silk prison.  You hear Ana giggle and say, "Patience, my love."
  764.  
  765.     You hear her continue to hum, and she starts singing the words to a song you've known since you were a small boy.  She must have found it on your mp3 player.  She starts singing, sometimes replacing English words with Portuguese.  
  766.  
  767. "Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens,"
  768.  
  769. Maybe some of the other Rangers would call you a faggot for listening to show tunes, but you remember being 7 years old and falling in love with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  You watched it with your mom and asked if you could marry the beautiful lady on the TV screen, and she laughed and said probably not.    
  770.  
  771. "Bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens,"
  772.  
  773. Ana's singing voice was like nothing you've ever heard up close, and the melodies of Rodgers and Hammerstein almost brought you to tears when they came from her.  She is a dark skinned songbird with eight legs, a brown Julie Andrews that violates everything you love.  
  774.  
  775. "Brown paper packages tied up with string," she giggles at the last part.
  776.  
  777. There was nothing in your life she couldn't destroy.  You despair, knowing she'll be injecting you with her venom soon enough.  Even through the webbing, she can read you.  Her body crawls over yours, slowly wrapping you up tighter, and you tense up from the contact.  All this time thinking about how she's killing you slowly, and you didn't even notice your erection pushing against the silken cage.
  778.  
  779. "These are a few of my favorite things," She stops for a moment and says, "Oh Joseph, you must be thinking of your favorite things too, darling!"  You feel pressure on your crotch through the web, her hands caressing you.  You hear a soft tearing sound and the faint scratch of a claw just barely brushing a circle around your groin.  You feel a combination of cool air and hot breath on your cock, and her fingertips rub the swollen glans in a circular motion, moving your precum around the tip.  You start to shake a little, and a long, pointed tongue begins to just barely brush the head, slowly moving around the crown.  It slowly slides from tip to base, the intense heat causing you to tense up and making your cock throb with anticipation.  Your heart is pounding and your breathing becomes shallow.  The tongue stops sliding up and down your manhood and you feel Ana's breath.  She does nothing but breath on you until it becomes unbearable.  You attempt to move your hips, but can't go very far because of the cocoon.  You hear her laugh a little.  "I will give you what you want so badly, Joseph," she says, mocking you.  You feel the kiss of her lips on the head, and slowly they part, leading you into her mouth.  The prospect of her razor sharp teeth don't even bother you anymore, you need her more than anything.  
  780.  
  781.     As she begins to take your length into her mouth, her tongue begins to run up and down, starting at the sensitive part under the head.  She slowly moves her lips down the shaft, taking her time, until she reaches the base.   She slowly begins to move her head back, traveling back up your rod with her tongue caressing the underside of your shaft the whole way.  You hear a faint popping sound as her lips break suction with the head of your cock.  She breathes heavily on it, and then goes back down, taking you all the way to the base.  On her way back up, she begins to hum the song, and you hear the words in your head.  As the tempo of the song increases, her tempo quickens as well, and soon you begin to feel your muscles tighten, and your mind is going blank.  Your throbbing cock swells in her mouth, and your balls begin to rise into your body.  
  782.  
  783. "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad,"
  784.  
  785. Through the web, you make a muffled grunt as hot, white cum begins to shoot from you, filling Ana's mouth.  You feel your cock jump 5 times, then another and hear Ana choking a little on your seed.  Your cock still twitching, you hear her say after a few seconds, "My my, Joseph, there's so much of it!  You must really love our time together!"  
  786.  
  787. You did.  Even after you would leave, you would wait for the time when you would again meet.  The hours in the chow hall, the cell, talking with Adams, it was just filler.  Every moment of the day just led up to your time with Ana.  You were still trying to fight it, but she would worm her way into your mind anyway, hiding in the dark corners until you were escorted to her.  You knew what came next now, and were preparing for it mentally.  Still, the only skin exposed was your cock and balls, so in that limited area around it, you were expecting her bite.  
  788.  
  789. It never happened.  You haven't gone limp yet.  
  790.  
  791. "Looks like we can go again before I have to give you my venom, lover," she puts an emphasis on the last word.
  792.  
  793. But you want the venom.  You want that heat, the sweating, and the pounding heart.  You want an excuse for how you feel.  Without it, you're just some guy who gets off fucking a half woman, half spider. That was the part that scared you the most.  That this is what you want.
  794. Maybe it was.
  795.  
  796. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  797.  
  798.                                 Red
  799.  
  800.     Camp Chapman was the busiest you've ever seen it, even more than when the suicide bombers took out the CIA employees a few years back.  Flights were constantly leaving and returning, looking for any of the missing soldiers, Marines and sailors that had disappeared in the last week.  Piracy in the South China Sea had skyrocketed, as well as in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  The Navy would have their hands full of Monster Girls as well. The news from home was even more concerning.  The Commandant of the Marine Corps was hospitalized with a broken pelvis.  The Chief of Naval Operations was found naked in a ditch, slowly rocking back and forth and muttering nonsense.  Men from the highest echelons of the Pentagon were turning up in stranger and stranger places, usually covered in various bodily fluids.  Petty Officer Jenkins from the SEAL team that went out the same night you did wandered back to the wire, dehydrated and in shock.  You saw him being brought in on a stretcher when you getting your stitches removed, covered in bruises and scratches, and one of the medics said he had no ammo on him at all.  Whatever happened to him, it was bad.
  801.  
  802.  In many cities of the US, police were rounding up Monster Girls into camps to protect them from angered citizens blaming them for the rash of disappearances and rapes.  Many of these Monster Girls were acting peacefully, but a group calling themselves the Monster Girl Liberation Army, or MGLA for short, were claiming responsibility for these attacks.  They were telling humanity to surrender all males aged 13-60.  No one took them too seriously until an attempt to kidnap the President was made by a Manticore and an Ushi-Oni.  8 Secret Service Agents went down getting the President away safely.  The President, now safely aboard Air Force One, made a statement to the American public declaring swift military action against this terrorist faction and promising the return of all the missing servicemen.  
  803.  
  804.     Fundamentalist Christians were calling for the extermination of all Monster Girls, naming them as abominations and affronts to God.  Biologists were running around like headless chickens trying to explain how these Monster Girls evolved, and everyone was asking where they came from.  No one seemed to be asking the Monster Girls themselves, afraid they might catch a disease or get raped.  Or both.  It seemed to you that all the rapists had already picked their side, and the ones who were peaceful and friendly were the targets of humans' rage.  It wasn't too unreasonable, really, to be scared at monsters and beasts from mythology and nightmares walking around the city streets.  It was even stranger for all of these beasts to have characteristics of beautiful women.  It was natural for humans to fear what they didn't understand, but you already knew from experience that not all of these women were trying to attack men.  If humans were to defeat this threat, they'd need help from Monster Girls.  Alternately, if Monster Girls were to gain any kind of acceptance from humanity, they'd have to help us see this fact.  
  805.  
  806.     After you had briefed the new Joint Chiefs of Staff on your experiences with Monster Girls, you told them that you believed the best course of action was to form and train a special unit of Monster Girls and Special Operators to combat this new threat.  Jump School, Combat Diver School, Unconventional warfare training, the works.  Monster Girls already had a huge physical advantage over even the most capable soldiers, if they were to be trained in the same way as Special Forces and Rangers, the MGLA wouldn't stand a chance.  There was silence over the teleconference line, and then you hear, "We'll consider it, Staff Sergeant."  You spend the next few days pacing your hooch.  You have no team, no brothers and no mission.  Katya is reacting similarly, you can tell she doesn't like being cooped up and being stared at.  "Makes me feel like an animal at the zoo."  You can't help but agree with her.  You decide to check on Jenkins and see if he's doing alright.  A quick visit to the aid station says no.  Jenkins lays on the rack, staring into nothing, occasionally mumbling.  You sit down next to him.
  807.  
  808. "Hey man, I know you're feeling pretty low, but I want you to know we're gonna get these girls."
  809.  
  810. "Ahmmm."
  811.  
  812. "They got my team too," you say, remembering Weasel."
  813.  
  814. Jenkins says nothing.
  815.  
  816. "The Army's got a plan to fight back.  I just hope you're ready to do this when the SEAL teams adapt too."
  817.  
  818. Jenkins looks at you slowly.  He nods.  
  819.  
  820. "Rest up Jenkins.  Your teammates will need you."
  821.  
  822. "I know."
  823.  
  824. You were surprised that he even spoke.  One of the Army medics there said those were the first words he's said since being brought in.  You have no doubt that he'll be back on his feet soon enough.  
  825.  
  826. You were called in to the CO's office three days after the brief.  
  827.  
  828. "You've got orders.  Get your Class A's and clean yourself up.  You've just been promoted to Sergeant First Class.  Orders to Ft. Bragg for new unit formation.  You're taking Captain Kotova with you, she'll be useful with the new assignment.  Officially, she's an advisor.  Unofficially, she scares the hell out of everyone on base."  You flip through the orders.  They say Extra Species Special Operations Teams, Ft. Bragg, Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Echo.
  829. "Looks like they thought your idea was a good one.  I'm not so sure."
  830.  
  831. "Roger that, sir."  You salute and are about to leave when the Colonel stops you.
  832.  
  833. "There's a lot riding on this Red.  Don't fuck it up."  Nice pep talk.
  834.  
  835. You nod and leave his office and run back to your hooch.  Katya sees you and asks what's going on.  
  836.  
  837. "We're going to Ft. Bragg."
  838.  
  839.     Two days later, you're standing on a parade ground at Bragg.  You miss your beard, but you think (and Katya agrees) that you cut a mean profile in your Class A's, wearing your beret and sporting a fresh scar across your face.  Katya stands off to the side in new civilian clothes, black cargo pants and a black polo shirt, with her arms crossed, looking intimidating to the women on the parade ground.  You look through your aviator shades at the collection of Monster Girls in front of you, and the CO makes his speech to the new recruits.  A lot of it is exactly what you told the Joint Chiefs earlier in the week, and you imagine that one privilege of rank is that you get to take credit for some of the good ideas that the men below you have.  As the CO drones on about cooperation between humanity and Monster Girls, you get a good look at the women you'll be training.  This is the first group of Monster Girls to pass the hasty battery of psychological testing, making sure that their real intention wasn't just to surround themselves with Army dick.  You wonder about the consequences of making all military women take these tests, but it's probably just a big shitstorm of Equal Opportunity complaints waiting to happen.  If the tests didn't do their jobs, Katya could probably protect you from some of the bigger Monster Girls, but she wouldn't be able to protect the rest of the cadre.  
  840.  
  841.     You see several Centaurs, an Oni sporting a big red horn, Werewolves and Dire Wolves (Although sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference for you), Lamias, Cat girls, and all manner of different Monster Girls.  Wings, tails, paws, horns, pointed ears, if you had never seen this kind of thing before, you would assume it's some kind of dedicated cosplay thing at a comic book convention, or extras from Lord of the Rings.  Most of them haven't been fitted for uniforms yet, and will be a quartermaster's nightmare to get them outfitted. You see a huge, purple Cyclops with a horn jutting out from her forehead, and standing next to her is a Cyclops of human size, looking pissed.  Maybe she doesn't like being compared to the big Cyclops.  If she's got a problem with being around other Monster Girls, she probably won't make it through selection.  There is little doubt in your mind that all these women are faster and stronger than you already, but without mental toughness, they wouldn't get far.  The CO finishes his speech with some Army Strong rhetoric, and everyone is dismissed.  
  842.  
  843. You walk over to Katya.  
  844.  
  845. "What do you think?"
  846.  
  847. "Most of them will not make it," she says.
  848.  
  849. "I think so too.  Just hope we have enough left at the end to take on the enemy."
  850.  
  851. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  852.  
  853.                                 Joe
  854.  
  855.     There exists in the military an information and acquisition network that the CIA would kill for.  A network of junior enlisted personnel, usually E-4 or E-3 and below, that makes things happen without red tape and paperwork.  Marines call it the Lance Corporal underground.  The Army has their Spec-4 Mafia.  If you speak Tagalog in the Navy, the Manila Mafia can hook you up, and even if you don't, you can find a third class or seaman who's ready to do midnight maintenance or hangar bay shopping.  If the CO is going to grant a 96 hour liberty, chances are the barracks knows before it's even announced.  First Sergeant is doing a surprise inspection of the barracks?  The Underground knows already.  If you need extra food, ammo, or supplies and the command is dragging ass, ask junior enlisted.  So it was in prison, and it didn't surprise you when you heard down the line that an escape plan was in the works, passed down with whispers, secret notes and codes.  Adams told you that Jimenez told him one of the Green Berets was planning an escape next week.  It was simple, but probably not going to end well.  One of the contractors had become the favorite of a large Minotaurus, and after she was done with him, she'd often pass out.  He would then (if he could, a session with a Minotaurus was exhausting and painful) steal her keycard.  Then later that night, his cellmate, the Green Beret, would hit on one of the night guards until she let him out, and incapacitate her.  Since they were relying on the fact that most of the men would be extremely tired at night, they usually had smaller, weaker guards at night.  From there, the Green Beret would open all the gates, and we'd have to run to the vehicle bay and take the trucks out of there.  Your jailers would be awake by that point, and would be rushing to keep us in here.  
  856.  
  857.     It was possible, you had never seen any cameras throughout the prison.  They were underestimating us, and all their interactions with us before reinforced their belief that we were weak, slaves to them, and slaves to our dicks.  It would rely on surprise, but mainly luck.  Everyone who was in on the plan knew that we may all end up dying or maybe only one of us making it out.  If only one or two made it out, they could tell the world about this horrible place, where it was, and all the men trapped in it.  You feel that anything would be preferable to dying slowly in here, turned into a venom addict and used as a spider's plaything.  You remember what happened to Anderson and the LT, and you still haven't seen them since you were in the succubus' office.  You begin to understand that this happening to you is also a possibility.  You remember the succubus talking about the ant pit, and you shudder when thinking about it, it's mere mention sending chills down your spine.  You don't know what manner of ants lived there, but you had a feeling that they probably had similar properties to the monsters keeping you here.  If the monsters keeping you here didn't want the ants around them, who knows what they were like?  
  858.  
  859. "You're in, right?"  Adams interrupts your thoughts of ant monstrosities living beneath the prison.  
  860.  
  861. "Yeah."  The idea of dying for freedom, or democracy, or Afghans never bothered you as much as the idea of living as someone else's toy.  "You think it'll work?"
  862.  
  863. "I need it to work."  All the times you had gone on ops with Adams, you had never seen desperation in his eyes, never seen true fear.  He knew that everything was riding on this, and even he didn't feel like making jokes about it.  He had lost weight, like you, and like you, had more and more bite marks across his body.  He surely felt the pain of being away from his Lamia tormentor the same as you did after Ana was done with you.  You both had dark bags under your eyes, and a haunted look.  You try not to think about what true withdrawal from venom would be like.  Would you get the shakes?  Would you throw up every meal?  Every man here who was still in charge of his faculties needed to get out of here.  Some of the men told themselves they liked it here, all the pussy they can handle and then some.  They've already been lost, and couldn't be trusted not to blab about the escape.  Just like in the military, there's always one guy or two who will rat you out because of "the rules", and those guys in here had already adapted to "the rules".  And the "rules" were, if a monster wanted you, and you weren't already someone's favorite, they'd take you, wherever and whenever they pleased.  Every time men were in the showers or any public place, at least one would get pulled away, sometimes they'd fuck him right there on the floor.  The best thing to do there was try to pretend it wasn't happening, lest they think you wanted in on it too.  It hurt to think that you couldn't help someone you knew, or even someone you didn't know, from being raped in front of all of his comrades.  You had already seen what happened when someone intervened, and it wasn't pretty.  An Afghan man attacked an Oni who was jackhammering the man's teenage son, screaming that it wasn't right.  His punches didn't do much to slow her down, only made her angrier, which made the trauma on the boy's pelvis even harder.  She backhanded the dad into the wall, he was carried off, and no one's seen him since.
  864.  
  865.     An eight foot tall minotaurus rattles the bars, snapping you out of your memories, and says, "Lunch time, bitches."
  866. The doors open and everyone piles into the cafeteria.  You sit down with Adams and begin to eat your shit food.  Krieger, one of the infantry Marines captured, sits down next to you.
  867.  
  868. "You guys hear about the escape plan?" His eyes dart from side to side, and his toothy smile puts you on edge.  
  869.  
  870. "Nope."
  871.  
  872. "I didn't get all the details about it man, help me out."  If he didn't get all the details, that means no one trusted him with the information, and he's working with eavesdropping.  You had your suspicions about Krieger, but this confirmed it.  It seemed like he went out of his way to put himself in situations that the guards would take notice of.  
  873.  
  874. "I haven't heard anything about it, Krieger."  It's getting harder to contain your contempt for him.  He gets up, disappointed.  "Fucked up, man, you can't even help me out?"
  875.  
  876. He walks to another table, undoubtedly to pump more people for information.  You and Adams share a look.  Adams leans over to another table and whispers something.  The guy getting whispered to nods once, and the men at the table huddle for a bit.  They all nod.  Such was the Underground.  Hopefully we could contain this leak before it drowned us.
  877.  
  878. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  879.  
  880.                                 Red
  881.  
  882.     You've never been a Drill Sergeant, so your main purpose at this point is to observe and the let the DS's do their jobs.  Specifically, you let SFC Jackson do his job.  There are two other DS's, but it's clear that Jackson's in charge.  You took the time to look through his records.  Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, all with infantry units, and he had no jump wings or air assault badge.  He was a ground pounder through and through.  A Purple Heart and a Silver Star for kicking down doors in Fallujah in 2004, he took a bullet to the shoulder and killed an insurgent with his bayonet to avoid setting off the homemade bombs that were all over the room.  He wasn't muscled from constantly going to the gym, but he was wiry, a 5 foot 6 knot of anger with piano wires going up and down his arms.  His voice was like if Popeye was from Georgia and smoked two packs a day.  He didn't take any shit from recruits, be they 18 year old kids, or an 8 foot tall centaur looking down at him like he was an anthill.  On day one of Basic, he grabbed a step ladder and got in the face of a frightened looking Minotaurus, screaming, "YOUR SIZE DOES NOT INTIMIDATE ME, RAH-CRU-IT!  FRONT LEANING REST POSITION, GET THERE!"  She stood there, confused.  "IT MEANS PUSH UPS, SHITBIRD!  BEGIN!"  The Minotaurus looked like she could cry.  She dropped down and started doing pushups, they didn't seem to be physically demanding, but being ordered around by someone you tower over can have a strange effect on you.  
  883.  
  884.     It soon became clear that the formula for pushing boots wouldn't work the same way it did for the Monster Girls.  Centaurs and Lamia couldn't do pushups or pullups, so Jackson had them "Run 'til I get tired."  Once uniforms finally came in, there were no new guidelines to inspect with for some of the species, so Jackson did it by ear, instructing recruits the best way he could.  Some beds need to be specially made for the size and shape of the recruit.  Weapons would require larger trigger guards and pistol grips.  You admire his bravery, but you suspect one of these Monster Girls would take a swing at him and take his head clean off.  Your fears are soon realized in the second uniform inspection.  He was jabbing a bony knife hand in the face of a 6 foot 6 werewolf, telling her to fix it.  He walked to the next recruit when he heard a growl.  
  885.  
  886. "OH WHAT'S THIS?  SOMEONE IS TRYING TO VOICE THEIR DISPLEASURE WITH ME?!" He did a textbook about face, and confronted the growling wolf.  "I HEARD WHIPPED PUPPIES SOUND MEANER THAN YOU, RECRU-IT, YOU TRYING TO THREATEN ME, OR MAYBE YOU THINK I GOT A MILKBONE IN MY POCKET!"
  887.  
  888. She snarled, showing her fangs and the fur on her paws stood up, along with her bushy tail.
  889.  
  890. "LOOKS LIKE YOU WANT A PIECE OF THIS, RECRUIT, AM I RIGHT?  IF YOU'RE FEELING FROGGY, I CAN TAKE OFF MY RANK AND WE CAN TANGO!"
  891.  
  892. You start to feel concerned for the safety of the Drill Sergeant, but you can only intervene if things get out of hand.  You watch, ready to act, as Jackson takes off his campaign cover and ACU blouse, setting them on a recruit's rack.  The Werewolf leaps at Jackson, claws out, fangs glistening, and you see a blur of movement, and a pained yelp.  Jackson went under the wolf's arms, grabbing one and throwing her over his shoulder with some simple judo, then twisted her paw around until he heard her yowl with pain.  
  893.  
  894. "Need any help, Sergeant Jackson?"
  895.  
  896. "We's just sparrin', Sergeant.  She knows what the deal is now."  He gives her paw another twist and you hear her yelp again.  "Don't she?"
  897.  
  898. The wolf quickly nodded, whimpering, and he let go.  Her arm dropped down to the floor and he helped her up, standing her back up at her rack.  Her tail would've been between her legs if she hadn't been standing at attention.  SFC Jackson didn't have any discipline problems from her, or any other recruit after that.  
  899.  
  900.     Weapons training had their own set of challenges.  The Onis, Minotaurus, and the big Cyclops could not use weapons as small as M-16s and M-4s, so they were issued M2 .50 caliber machine guns, weighing 84 pounds unloaded.  They wielded them with ease, firing them from the hip in an impressive display of strength.  You noticed the Cyclops had the best fire control, and along with the smaller Cyclops, they were both easily the best marksmen in the bunch.  You make a mental note to recommend they go through sniper training.  An idea pops into your head, and you make a few phone calls after leaving the range.  Katya sees you looking happy, and asks "What is there to be so happy about?"
  901.  
  902. "You'll see.  Should be here in a few days."  You can barely contain yourself.  You've always wanted to see this.  Two long days later, a few large crates show up, with thick instruction manuals.  You have them loaded onto a truck and drive them out to the range.  
  903.  
  904. "Sergeant Jackson, could you call over Smith, Johnson, and Williams?"  Many of these women had no last names when they came, so they picked a generic name when they enlisted.  
  905.  
  906. You soon found yourself at chest level with a Minotaurus and two Onis.  
  907.  
  908. "Open these crates"
  909.  
  910. They easily pull off the tops of the crates, nails and all.  Their eyes grow wide and you fight back a smile.  
  911.  
  912. "Because of your unique, uh, abilities, the Army feels that it's a waste to keep you supplied with such inadequate weaponry.  Ladies, meet your new best friends."
  913.  
  914. Smith, the Minotaurus, reaches into her crate and pulls out an M134 6 barreled minigun.
  915.  
  916. "How do I use it?"  
  917.  
  918. "Instruction manual's right here.  Read it, and be ready to use it by tomorrow."  You turn to the two Onis marveling at their crates, "Those are M3Ms.  Same as the M2, but with about twice the rate of fire and a shorter barrel."  They look at you like its Christmas, if they even have Christmas where they're from, and for a second, it seems like you might soon be on the receiving end of a bone crushing hug.  They quickly regain military bearing, and soon they are out on the range, blasting away at not only their targets, but other recruits' targets as well.  They're having too much fun with this, but you can't blame them.  Smith sits by her crate, reading the instruction manual.  The next day at the range, everyone has stopped what they were doing to see Smith with a huge ammo canister on her back, and her right hoof planted behind her in a stance preventing her from toppling backwards.  
  919.  
  920. BRRRRTTT.  BRRRT.  BRRRRRTTT.  It's beautiful.  Ever since you were a kid and saw Predator, you've been waiting for the moment when a single soldier could fire a Minigun standing up with no supports.  Hot shell casings form little piles at her hooves, and targets are obliterated down the range.  She has a wide smile on her face and you think you can hear her laughing over the gunfire.  A Holstasaurus recruit folds her arms and snorts.  
  921.  
  922. "Big deal.  I could do that, probably."
  923.  
  924. You doubt that, but you don't even bother looking away from Smith to tell her so.  This is something to remember, to savor.  You could die tomorrow, and you'd be fine with that.
  925.  
  926. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  927.  
  928.  
  929.                                 Joe
  930.  
  931.     Tonight was the night.  Even if you wanted to, you couldn't sleep.  You nervously scratch your beard (no razors allowed here) and think about everything that can go wrong with this plan.  What if the guard doesn't let the guy out, or just wants to fuck through the bars?  What if he can't get to the control room and open the doors?  What if he just decides to bail and leave the rest of us holding our dicks?  That would make sense and make less noise than the entire prison opening up for all the guards to hear.  You had to trust.  Had to believe that you would make it out.  You hear light snoring from the top rack.  Only fucking Adams could sleep on a night like this.  Your ears perk up and the snoring stops.  You hear a low voice, and you're able to make out the sounds of the Green Beret and what sounds like some kind of werecat.  
  932.  
  933. "...you're looking pretty sexy tonight, you know that?"
  934.  
  935. "You're not so bad yourself nyaa!"
  936.  
  937. "I'd love to get my hands all over you and stroke those cute fluffy ears, maybe give that tail a pull."
  938.  
  939. "Sounds pretty good, are you gonna give me what I need?"
  940.  
  941. Jesus, what a slut.
  942.  
  943. "C'mon, big man, give it to me right through the bars."
  944.  
  945. Fuck.
  946.  
  947. "How am I supposed to hold you in my arms through the bars?"
  948.  
  949. She purrs audibly, "Wait here, sexy!"  She giggles and you hear the soft slap of paws running up stairs.  A door opens and soon you hear a single cell door opening.  It's like hearing Beethoven's Ode to Joy for the first time.  
  950.  
  951. "Nyow, where were we?"  Purring for a short minute.
  952.  
  953. "Right here."  You hear a muffled snap, and a body is slowly let down to the floor to make the least amount of noise.  We're committed now.  You didn't know he was going to kill the guard, but you don't feel the least bit bad about it.   He moves, quieter than the werecat, up the stairs.  He hits some switches and the cells begin to open.  It's so loud.  Everyone can hear it.  You and Adams start to run out of the cell block, a mad rush to escape.  Some stayed in their cells.  They're broken.  You will be too if you don't get out.  You follow the ones in front of you to the vehicle bay, and you start to hear angered voices behind you.  The slap of paws hitting metal, and skittering legs grows louder and louder.  On instinct, you duck and a big Werewolf slams into the guy in front of you.  You move around him and keep running.  An Oni takes one guy out, and an Orc takes out the other.  An Ushi-Oni takes one down with her web, and laughing demoniacally, starts to take him right there.  Turn left.  A blue Oni, stinking of alcohol, is standing in your path with her legs shoulder width apart, the others have made it past her already.  She burps and laughs, wiping her mouth.  You keep running and slide underneath her legs, and she reaches between her legs drunkenly and falls forward as you get up and keep running.  All along your path, harpies, werewolves and arachnids have pinned their prey down and are having their ways with them.  It's only because they're too busy with the others that they don't bother with you.  You want to save them, but it would only trap you here with them.  When you reach the vehicle bay, about half of the prisoners are taken down already.  There's a truck sitting in the middle of the bay, the Green Beret has already made it to the driver's seat, and is starting it up.  You jump in the back with a few others, the monsters closing in fast.  
  954.  
  955.     You remember that someone has to open the gates.  Someone will be left behind.  You look out the back of the truck into the control booth at the top of the bay, and see Adams.  He's frantically trying to find the right switch.  Outside the door is the rattlesnake Lamia bashing herself against the door, trying to break it down.  You can only watch as he hits the right switch and the door begins its painfully slow travel upwards.  There are Monster girls surrounding the truck now, but the driver hits the gas and you feel the tires roll over something, and a sharp scream.  The Lamia breaks down the door, strikes Adams and coils around him.  As the truck rolls out of the door you begin to see him turn blue.  You couldn't help him, all you could do was watch.  Tears begin to fill your eyes as you start to see where you are.  It's mountainous here, but it's too dark to make out any significant landmarks.  You try to remember how long it took to get here when you were first captured, but a groan and shriek of twisting metal pierces your eardrums like a nail on a chalkboard.  You are airborne briefly, flying forward and hitting the cab of the truck.  After a brief moment, the truck is vertical, and you see the dark night sky coming in through the back of the truck.  You think maybe you're going off a cliff, but you don't have the weightless feeling that goes with that.  
  956.  
  957.     You're weightless now, and the truck is tumbling.  You didn't fall.  You were thrown.  You hope that whatever happens kills you, so you don't have to go back to prison.  The loud crash of steel hitting rock is all you hear, maybe the last thing you hear.  A blinding white light shoots through your body, and intense pain follows it quickly.  This is it.  It's dark now, and you feel the sticky warmth of blood all around you.  You wait for the inevitable, the white light at the end of the tunnel, but there is none.  The sound of steel bending fills your ears again.
  958.  
  959. "I hope you didn't kill all of them.  Someone has to answer for this."
  960.  
  961. "No, the driver's still alive."
  962.  
  963. "Check the back.  I know there were some in there."
  964.  
  965. A ripping sound of canvas and steel bars being pushed out of the way.  A face with a horn pokes in.  
  966.  
  967. "I think a couple are still alive"
  968.  
  969. "Pull em out, dumbass!"
  970.  
  971.     A big hand reaches in and grabs you by an arm.  You scream as pain shoots through your body, and in the new light, you see a bone sticking out of your leg.  She ignores your screams and keeps pulling, dragging you through the hole in the canvas top of the truck.  The truck is on its side, and a few more prisoners are pulled out, some yelling and screaming, some silent.  A scaled face of a Lamia looks over you, smiling a wicked grin, and says, "You're in deep shit, now, little man."  Her tail strikes your broken leg, and you pass out from the pain.
  972.  
  973. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  974.  
  975.                                 Red
  976.  
  977.     BCT was nearly complete for these recruits.  Boot Camp has never been at Fort Bragg, but because all of the recruits are prospective soldiers of Army Special Forces, they set up an area just for them to be trained, and they would go directly to the JFK Special Warfare School at Bragg, and some would go to San Antonio for Combat Medic training, followed by Jump School and Selection.  The two Cyclops would be going to Sniper School if you had your say.  Some of these women might take a bit longer to get to the unit, assuming they made it.  A lot had happened in a short amount of time, especially by Army standards, and you think that this fact might even be more unbelievable than the existence of Monster Girls.  
  978.  
  979.     It crosses your mind that if the Russians had some of these women working in secret military and intelligence units, then the Americans would too.  This might be the execution of a back up plan to a back up plan written long ago.  It's the only thing in your mind that could make all this happen, short of magic.  Some courses were going to be condensed, provided the women could hack it.  The more you observed them, the more confident you were in their potential.  You had never seen men with this kind of strength and endurance, and they picked up information like sponges.  You were positive that they would make better soldiers than even you, and even Katya was impressed by their ability to learn all of this at a quick pace.  
  980.    
  981.     As you watched the unit get smoked for a stray thread on a uniform, you feel a paw come down on your shoulder.  You were so focused on your observations that you nearly jumped.  Fatal Funnel, keep situational awareness, etc.  You turn and Katya's standing there.  She smiles at you.  "Cat got your tongue?"  A joke.  A dumb one, but still a joke.  She was starting to loosen up a bit.  Being completely isolated from other people and only being somewhere to kill someone tends to wind people up tight.   Between observing the training cycle, practicing at the range, and your own intense workout schedule, you were pretty tense yourself.  You, and the rest of the Special Operations community were in uncharted waters, quite literally in the Navy's case.  Naval Special Warfare Command started recruiting and training Monster Girls right after the Army did, and their class was just completing Recruit Training in Great Lakes now, with some going to Corps School, and others going right to Coronado to begin BUD/S and other training schools.  
  982.  
  983. "You sure you want to know?  You know what they say about curiosity and the cat."
  984.  
  985. She stares at you blankly.  She didn't know.  Apparently she hadn't learned all the sayings in English about cats.  Her English was definitely improving, though.  
  986.  
  987. "Never mind, don't worry about it.  What's up?"
  988.  
  989. "You look like you could use a drink."  Now she's really speaking your language.  It's been almost a year since you've had a drink, what with being deployed and all.  Sure, there were ways to get booze or even make your own, but it didn't make sense to you to dull your senses when you could get mortared or rocketed at any time and have to respond immediately.  
  990.  
  991. "Lead the way, Captain."
  992.  
  993. You follow her to her small office.  Next to her desk is a crate with Cyrillic print stamped on it.  The crate is filled with ammo and some uniforms.  She quickly explains that Zmajić got her some things and sent it here.  
  994.  
  995. "Live ammo?"
  996.  
  997. "She's a dragon, very wealthy.  Enough gold can make anything happen."
  998.  
  999. You drop the subject, not wanting to think about the many greased palms it took to get that crate into the country and a U.S. Army base.  
  1000.  
  1001. She produces a bottle of Vodka with a green and gold label and two shot glasses.  
  1002.  
  1003. "Do you have any orange juice?  I could go for a screwdriver."
  1004.  
  1005. She looks at you like she just stepped in you.  "Juice is for children.  You are a man, yes?"
  1006.  
  1007.     This won't end well.  Most of the bottle is spent trading war stories, some is spent talking about your cunt ex-wife, and the rest is spent trying not to look at Katya for too long.  As boozed up as you are, it's probable you'd say or do something unprofessional, and shitting where you eat is not recommended.   She finishes the last of the vodka, and pulls another bottle from the crate.  God damn, is she trying to kill you?  Suddenly, you form a plan to stop drinking to keep from her pickling your liver.  It's a great plan, and it's going to work.  You're so confident it will work that you put a hand on her wrist, motioning for her to put the bottle down.  She looks at you confused momentarily, and you cup her face with your hands.  She seems to understand now.  You lean in and kiss her.  She kisses you back.  This might not have been the best plan.  This will complicate things.  It doesn't matter now, there's no use in half measures.  
  1008.  
  1009.     Both of you pull away from the kiss.  She hadn't headbutted you yet, so you think that she may be receptive to more.  Time to infiltrate.  You brush her hair past where her ears would be if she were human.  You realize that she doesn't have ears there.  That move usually works on women who have ears on the side of her head.  You seamlessly (you hope) move your hand to the top of her head, rubbing her ear gently between your thumb and forefinger, and she makes a chuffing sound.  You kiss her again, deeply, and rub her ear while you do it.  Another chuff.  You lead her to the couch and lay her down on it, following her to the couch.  You move a hand up her shirt, feeling her firm breasts.  She moans and moves to pull her shirt up quickly, showing a simple black bra.  Before she can struggle with getting it off, you move closer to kiss her again and move your arms under her back, undoing her bra.  Still got it.  She takes it off the rest of the way.  They serve as a perfect complement to her muscled stomach, and you see her nipples getting hard on her immaculate tits.  You kiss her neck while groping her, and slowly move down until your mouth is over her nipple.  You gently run your tongue along her breasts and you feel a deep vibration as she chuffs again.  She takes your hand and shoves it down the front of her pants.  Soaked, with the soft hair trimmed close.  You maneuver your hand down her panties and rub her clit and she arches her back a little.  You sit back a little and take off your shirt, any more of this will stain your civvies.  You're hard as stone now, and soon after taking her pants off, she moves up to unbuckle your pants and unzips your trousers.  She smiles a big grin when she pulls down your underwear and your manhood bounces out, standing proudly.  You lean down to kiss her and push her back onto the couch.  
  1010.  
  1011.     You lift her legs into the air and rest them on your shoulders, the striped fur of her lower legs rubbing against you.  She guides you into her womanhood, the lips gently parting at your advance.  You slowly begin to push yourself into her, and it feels...different.  It's tight, but it's different than any woman's you've ever felt.  She gasps and grabs your chest, her claws out a little and drawing blood.  You keep moving slowly until you've reached the base.  As you slowly begin to pull out, she grips onto you like she doesn't want to let you go.  Her muscle control allows her to ease up a little until you can move again.  You begin to move a little faster, picking up your rhythm and putting your hands on her hips to drive you in further.  She tenses up and grabs onto your shaft even harder now, her claws digging into your Iowa state flag tattoo on your chest.  You're thrusting powerfully, the wet slap of her and you is the only thing you can hear other than her yowling and moaning, and she grinds herself into you in prefect unison.  You feel yourself reaching the edge, and she feels it too.  You prepare for one final thrust by taking her paws off her chest to get closer to her and kiss her, and you begin to unload into her.  You fill her with your seed and she responds by covering you with her juices.   She bites your lip so hard you have to pull back a little, and you taste blood while your cock twitches inside of her.  She lets out a powerful and terrifying roar, and for a second you thought you were going to go soft from the fear.  It had the opposite effect, and you were still harder than ever.  You lay with yourself still inside her for a moment, your seed dripping out of her.  In your drunken haze, you completely forgot that you hadn't had any sex for almost a year, and had also abstained from beating off while deployed.  You slowly pull out, and make eye contact with her.  You had never noticed how beautifully green they were, and she looks at you like you're the center of her universe.  You lay with her on the couch for a minute or two, and she breaks the silence first.  
  1012.  
  1013. "You're bleeding."
  1014.  
  1015. "Yeah."
  1016.  
  1017. She gets up and walks across her office, and you see the beautiful, graceful movements of her ass and legs.  She bends down to get something from her crate, and you get a perfect view of her dripping sex.  You smile at your handiwork.  Good effect on target.  She comes back with some gauze and bandages and starts to clean your scratches up.  You could get used to this, even if this is what you were afraid of.  Things were about to get complicated, but you didn't give a shit now.  You begin to drift off to sleep as she bandages your chest.
  1018.  
  1019. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1020.  
  1021.  
  1022.                                 Joe
  1023.  
  1024.     Pain starts to come back to you slowly, and you wake in bed in a familiar place.  You have an IV in your arm and everything hurts.  You're where you never wanted to go again.  The infirmary.  Ana has taken you here many times and fucked you here in between working on patients, men with bruised pelvises, broken ribs and black eyes.  She would always come back to you and stroke your hair, telling you she would never do such terrible things to you.  She skitters over to you.  She looks like she wants to do those terrible things to you.  Her arms are folded under her generous chest, and anger lines her face.  You've seen her crazy, but never angry before.  You begin to brace yourself as much as you can for the onslaught, claws, teeth, webs, everything.  In your condition, bracing means scooting back on the bed a little and trying not to cry.  The look on her face breaks, and you begin to see her squeezing her eyes shut, small tears running down her face.
  1025.  
  1026. "I...was...so worried about you!"  She says this between racking sobs, her breasts moving with each sob.  Tears from all of her eyes run down her face.  Now you are even more scared of her.  
  1027.  
  1028. "Why did you run away?"
  1029.  
  1030. There's no answer for this that you can tell her, as all of them include variations on "Well, sweetie, you're a sadistic rapist poisoning me every time you want to get laid, and I think it's killing me."  She looks at you expectantly.  She wants an answer.  
  1031. You slowly open your mouth, but the words don't come out.  What can you say?
  1032.  
  1033. "I was afraid."  Keep it vague.  
  1034.  
  1035. "Of what?  You have everything you could possibly want here.  Food, Shelter, a beautiful woman who loves you." Fuck, she's even crazier than you though-did she just say she loves you?  "I'm the only reason you haven't been punished with the ringleader of this little plan.  I couldn't stand the thought of you being thrown to them!  Your friend was kept from them too."
  1036.  
  1037. You look around in a panic.  You see Adams in a bed across the infirmary, hooked up to a respirator and unconscious.  He's alive, but just so.  You feel small relief.
  1038.  
  1039. "Liz broke his back.  I don't think he will walk again.  It will serve as a lesson to you not to run away from those who love you."
  1040.  
  1041. "O-of course.  I don't know what came over me, I was running on instinct."
  1042.  
  1043. "If you hadn't ran, you would not have broken your leg, Joseph.  I don't think it will heal very well, but at least you learned your lesson, and you can't run away from me anymore."
  1044.  
  1045. "I did.  I did learn my lesson."  Words are coming from your mouth that you could never have imagined.  You just want her to not hurt you anymore.  At this point you'll agree with everything she has to say.  You tried your best to escape, but the deck was stacked against you from the start.  
  1046.  
  1047. "That wasn't so hard, was it?  Now we can be together always."  She wiped some tears from her face and started to smile.  It was a beautiful smile, even if it is filled with razor sharp teeth.  She leans in close and plants a kiss on your forehead, and her hands on your shoulders moves your body a little, shaking your leg.  You cry out a little, and she pulls back, frightened that she hurt you.  
  1048.  
  1049. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Joseph!"  There is real concern in her face.  She cares for you, in her own fucked up way.  It would be sweet if she weren't constantly biting and poisoning you.  It's only a small comfort that she wouldn't be fucking you when you were laid up with your leg healing.  All you needed to do was hold out until help came.  Someone had to be looking for you guys.  The US government had to respond to this many guys going missing.  There were more every day, some from Infantry units, some supply and aviation units were getting taken in too.  Most of them just stood around dumbfounded while the guys who were there originally made their escape.  The ones who caught on did so too late, and were the first to get taken down by the swarm of monsters rushing the cell block.  Not that it mattered, none of us made it out.  
  1050.  
  1051. She kisses you again, on the lips.  "Does that feel better?"  You would be lying if you said it didn't, and she definitely doesn't want to hear that anyway.  "Yes, it does."
  1052.  
  1053. "I'm happy.  I made you a cast for your leg with some of my silk."
  1054.  
  1055. You look down.  There is indeed a cast.  
  1056.  
  1057. "Thank you, Ana.  It's good to know you care."  This sounds like a good thing to say.  She beams with pride.  She starts to move a clawed hand down your shirt, going down the front of your pants. It feels good, but you cry out in what you hope sounds like pain, causing her to back off, worry creasing her face.  It worked.  "I'm so sorry, I got carried away!"  
  1058.  
  1059. "It's alright, Ana, I know you meant well."
  1060.  
  1061. The sound of a man screaming out interrupts your conversation, and both of you turn to see an Oni try to mount one of the men in the infirmary, his arms in casts.  Ana gets off of you and shoos the Oni away, saying he wasn't ready for any kind of activity like that.  She comes back to you and tells you to get some rest, and then hits a button for your IV drip.  You start to drift off before you can ask what's in the IV bag.
  1062.  
  1063. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1064.  
  1065.                                 Red
  1066.    
  1067.  
  1068.     You wake up with Katya in your arms and groggily open your eyes to the morning sun creeping in under the blinds.  Katya's in your arms.  That's right.  She wakes up with your stirring and looks at you, her green eyes looking at you a bit quizzically, then it seems she remembers what happened last night too.  Thank God for that, it would've been really weird to try to explain why you fucked her when she was blackout drunk.  Probably would end in violence too.  You are suddenly aware that your head is fucking pounding.  She notes your pained expression and says "Hangover?"  You nod, trying not to move too much.  She gets up from the couch, still nude and grabs a few things from her minifridge next to her desk.  There's beer in the fridge, but she grabs an egg instead and a few other things.  You look on in horror as she covers a glass with a little vegetable oil, breaks an egg into the glass, and adds some salt and pepper.  She adds a little vodka and swirls the whole thing with her finger, tasting her finger and making a face.  She hands the eldritch horror to you.  You know what comes next.  You almost gag on it and choke it down.  You don't feel much better, but it's a start.  She looks at you, amused.  "I didn't think you would actually drink it."  You glare at her.  "Relax.  People in Russia have been using that remedy for years."
  1069.  
  1070. "They've also been dying of exposure in the snow after a week of drinking for years too."
  1071.  
  1072. "Well, if you like, I have heard of a cure for hangovers that doesn't involve a raw egg."  She arches her eyebrow at you, smiling.  
  1073.  
  1074. You smile, catching her drift, and she pounces on you.  She's a lot more dominating when she's sober (or hungover), and 15 minutes later, she lays on top of you in a sweaty heap, the both of you panting.  
  1075.  
  1076. "Do you feel better now?
  1077.  
  1078. "I do."  She stays there for a while, while you think of how best to address the situation you are both in.  
  1079.  
  1080.     You begin to tell her that you and she should stay as quiet as you can about this, and that no one needs to know about what happened last night.  
  1081.  
  1082. "Does this mean you don't want to do this anymore?" She asks, slowly and lazily drawing a circle on your chest with her claw.
  1083.  
  1084. "No, believe me, that was the best time I've had in years.  I want to keep doing this,but if we are going to work together, it can't exactly be known to the instructors and students that you and I are fucking like teenagers."
  1085.  
  1086. "That is true.  But, could it be, that you are ashamed of what we did last night?"  She sounded curious, but there was just a bit of insecurity in her tone.  She knows she's different, and for a man and her to be involved like they were now would surely draw stares and jeers.  You lift your head off the couch and kiss her.
  1087.  
  1088. "If I was ashamed, I would've gotten dressed and left immediately after waking up."  
  1089.  
  1090. "You could just have been trying to get another ride from me."  Now her tone is mischievous.  You know where this is leading.
  1091.  
  1092. "Well if that's how you feel, we might as well do it one more time, and call it quits now."
  1093.  
  1094. She smiles, and says, "I like the first part, but I think we should give our relationship another chance."  
  1095.  
  1096. "If you insist."
  1097.  
  1098.     An hour and a half later, you crack the door open and see if anyone is around.  It's about 9 o'clock, Saturday morning, and no one is expecting you to be anywhere today.  Thank God for that.  You thought she was going to wear you out, but on your 5th go, you learned how she responds to having her tail pulled while you smack her ass with the other hand.  The response was favorable, to say the least, and you make a mental note not to use that one every time, lest it becomes a routine.  You start to make a bee line to your room with the shower, trying to blend in.  A group of Monster Girls are doing PT, and a werewolf with black hair and fur perks her ears up and twitches her nose at your approach.  She smiles and whispers over to a Manticore who's stretching, and the Manticore says "Roowr, go get em' Tiger!"  Fuck.  They smell the sex on you.  Keeping this under wraps will be more difficult than you thought. You keep walking like you didn't hear it and make it to your room, scrubbing the stink of mating off of you in the shower.  You ponder the word mating and find yourself wondering if you can even get her pregnant.  Would you marry a woman of a different species?  Suddenly in the shower, you begin to feel like Captain Kirk, banging as many women outside his species as he can.  Except if you cheated on Katya, she would know, and tear your arms off if you were lucky.  You've never been one to cheat on women anyway, despite what your ex-wife may believe.  
  1099.  
  1100.     As the AIT started to come to a finish, Katya would often sneak up behind you, and pull you to an isolated spot where you two would fuck like your lives depended on it.  Broom closets, gym showers, isolated spots in the woods, her office, your office.  You began to feel like she was hunting you.  Not that you minded, but you know it was only a matter of time before the both of you get caught.  When it does happen, you two are in the woods at night, connected at the waist when you hear a twig snap, and you both turn to see a Red Oni is staring, dumbfounded.  She picks her jaw up and starts to smile, and you feel your entire career about to fall apart.  She makes a movement with her fingers moving across her lips, like a zipper, and gives you two a wink.  And then she disappears back into the night.  After that, you both made a decision that she couldn't stalk and hunt you anymore, and to keep all nighttime activities in either her office or yours.  That didn't stop her from pouncing on you in your office the next day.  She must have broken into your office.  She was indeed a force to be reckoned with.  
  1101.  
  1102.     Your constant liaisons with Katya made the time go by much faster, and you didn't feel that the quality of your work had dipped as a result.  Soon the day came when all of the Monster Girls at Bragg were graduating from AIT, some of them had gone to Fort Sam to start Medical training instead.  100% graduation rates in boot camp weren't uncommon, and these recruits-Soldiers, you reminded yourself, were as uncommon as it gets.  They all stood on the parade ground in their custom Class A uniforms at attention.  The hard part starts Monday, but they had the weekend off until Monday when they started Jump School.  You had spent some time consulting with the parachute riggers discussing the challenges of 1000 lb Centaurs and Lamias jumping from planes, and all of the larger monster girls were brought in and were measured for custom rigs, with bigger parachutes that could still be controlled by the user.  Still, there's never been an airdropped horse in the history of the Paratroopers, and this was explained to the women that the chance of them dying was very real.  They accepted this.  They were going to be good soldiers.  
  1103.  
  1104.     You think you see someone familiar by the parade grounds, and your suspicions are confirmed when you walk up to him after graduation.  He's standing there in a polo shirt and gold rimmed glasses, a small smile on his face.  Even though you're probably about 6 or 7 inches taller than him, you can't help but feel like he's ten feet tall.  You walk up and shake his hand, "It's an honor to meet you," just barely escaping your lips.  He says "Likewise, Nielsen."  He knows your name.  Your name is on your uniform.  
  1105.  
  1106. "I've heard a lot about you, Nielsen.  You do good work."  This is coming from one of the original operators.  You stand there, unable to make any words in front of your hero.
  1107.  
  1108. "You know, you've got a huge challenge in front of you.  Helping to form a new unit with a new mission is going to be the most difficult thing you've ever done.  Mistakes will be made, and not everyone will make it back."
  1109.  
  1110. You nod soberly, thinking about your yet to be rescued ODA team.  
  1111.  
  1112. "Everyone in the community is talking about this, but it's important to remember the most important thing."
  1113.  
  1114. You look at him, waiting for the most important thing.
  1115.  
  1116. "Bring as many of your guys, and gals, back as you can.  You'll get the mission done any way you can, but make sure you bring them back.  Well, I've got to be going, I'll be seeing you."
  1117.  
  1118. You finally pull your nuts out and say, "Yes Sergeant Major, I'll see you around!"
  1119.  
  1120. He turns and says, "Only if I want to be seen."  He smiles, chuckling to himself, and walks off.
  1121.  
  1122. Before they were cut loose for the weekend, you give them a speech concerning proper behavior befitting Soldiers in the U.S. Army, as well as Monster Girls representing their respective species.  
  1123.  
  1124. "If you're trying to get some action, there's nothing saying you can't, but it needs to be consensual.  If I check the logs in medical on Monday and see a bunch of guys with venom in their systems or broken pelvises, I will launch an investigation and I will find who is responsible."
  1125.  
  1126.     Some of the girls look down, whether in shame that that might have been their plans for the weekend or, that their species' reputation was that of a bunch of rapists who kidnap men.  Some smirk at you, and you guess that more than a few have caught on to your and Katya's midnight get togethers.  Whatever, it's not fraternization if she's technically a civilian, and you don't feel ashamed at your attraction to a beautiful woman like her anyway.  You go on to remind them that Dishonorable Discharges are a real thing, and the brig is a very real place as well.  You can see them getting restless, so you begin to wrap things up with an offer to drive them back on base if they got too hammered, or at the very least, to call them a cab or shuttle.  They run off to change into their civvies and go get drunk in Fayetteville.  The cabs and shuttles were full as none of them had driver's licenses.  You and Katya decide to head down to Fayetteville and keep an eye out for trouble.  You don't harbor any illusions about being able to prevent every bad thing that can happen tonight, but even one soldier not going to the brig is one more to be ready on Monday.  You watch as a Lamia gets into the back of a white shuttle van, the entire chassis groaning with the effort.  Several Dragons begin to fly to one of the gates, showing their IDs and then flying off.  Tonight has the possibility of ending terribly.
  1127.    
  1128.     You and Katya end up in a small bar off of Highway 24, nursing a beer while Katya absentmindedly stirs a finger in her vodka.  Two Oni, one blue and one red, sit in a booth arguing about which rifle caliber could bring down another Oni.   Johnson, the Red Oni sees you and Katya and winks, then going back to preaching the gospel of .50 BMG.  Williams, the Blue Oni seems to believe that a sufficient quantity of 7.62 NATO will do the trick, depending on shot placement.  She's a smart one.  Shot placement is King, penetration is Queen, and everything else is Angels dancing on the heads of pins.  Still, you haven't seen many Monster Girls get shot, only the Manticore, the Orc, and Volkova, the Direwolf.  7.62x54r seemed to the job on that big Orc, but some of the Dragons seemed to be armored.  It's not like they'll let you shoot them to test it, so you'll have to cross that bridge when you get there.  If all else fails, just aim for the soft bits.  
  1129.    
  1130.     The big purple Cyclops, what was her name, something not chosen out of a list, Warforge, and her battle buddy Patrin, the smaller cyclops are sitting at the bar, Warforge is drinking a huge Oktoberfest-sized tankard of beer, and Patrin sips some brown liquor from a glass.  You watch as some 18 year old kid with a high and tight tries unsuccessfully to hit on Patrin.  She looks at him with indifference, and continues to drink.  Warforge, an 8 foot tall brick shithouse with a horn coming out of her head, slaps the kid on the back.  
  1131.  
  1132. "If you want to take a walk on the wild side, you and me can have a go!" With her huge hand on his shoulders, he nervously looks at his watch and makes a quick exit.  His friends over at a booth laugh at him heartily, and a bigger guy gets up from the table, and takes Warforge up on her offer.  She picks up the brave soul, probably bolstered with dutch courage, and hoists him up over her shoulder.  
  1133.  
  1134. "Don't wait up for me, Pat!  I'm gonna have me some fun!"
  1135.  
  1136. The big guy on her shoulder gets a rousing cheer from his table, and he gives a goofy smile and a thumbs up.  As Warforge passes you and Katya, you grab her shoulder (bicep, really, she's pretty tall) and say, "Take it easy on the guy, alright?"
  1137.  
  1138. "Don't worry, he won't break, Sarge."  She smiles widely and ducks out of the door, almost bumping the guys' head on the doorframe.  You shake your head and look at Katya, who shrugs.  You look over at Patrin, still fending off guys with her cold shoulder.  The two Oni look lecherously at the table of off duty soldiers, and they sit themselves down at their table uninvited, calling to the waitress for more sake.  Before long, all attention is on the raucous table downing paychecks worth of sake, laughing and cheering.  Looks like they're having a good time.  You ask Patrin if she needs a ride back to base, and she says no, looking into her whiskey the whole time.  You remind yourself to ask about her sometime, she always looks angry or morose.  
  1139.  
  1140.     You and Katya pay your tabs, not much for a couple beers and a vodka, and you aren't tipsy, so you and Katya walk to the bar next door.  This one is more crowded, and is playing a pop song from the 80's, as opposed to the George Thorogood that the last place was playing.  Anders, the lone Manticore from the unit is laughing loudly at some guy's dumb jokes, drunkenly draping her arm over the guy's shoulder to emphasize just how funny he is.  You recognize the song as Hall and Oates song Maneater.  She pulls the guy close and kisses him, laughing as they separate.  He gets the hint and they start to walk towards the door.  You stop them and say, "Watch out for this one."
  1141.  
  1142. She laughs, wrapping her wing around the guy's side, saying "Him, oh he's a big teddy bear, aren't you?"
  1143.  
  1144. "I was talking to him."  
  1145.  
  1146.     She frowns, giving you a distinct, "Don't cockblock me, bro" look before kissing him again and leading him out the door, her meaty tail bulb slapping him on the ass as he walks out first.  She turns to look at you, opening her arms and raising her eyebrows, mouthing, "Don't screw this up for me".  You'll have to check the logs tomorrow to see if anyone comes in with Manticore venom in his system.  
  1147.  
  1148.     There seem to be a number of Monster girls here, working their particular brand of magic on men.  You look at some human women sitting at the bar, but they look positively average next to a 7 foot tall musclebound direwolf flashing her teeth and wagging her tail at some guy.  Some of these women look pissed, but all the Monster girls could tear this bar apart, so they don't say anything.  There's a Kitsune working behind the bar, lighting flaming Dr. Peppers with her breath.  You didn't know they could do that.  It makes sense to hire a Monster girl, they probably get more in tips a night than a human woman.  
  1149. The two Centaurs from the group stamp their feet a little when they get their beers and clink the glasses together, downing a good portion in one gulp.  Some boozed up redneck with a flannel shirt and brown shitkickers decided it would be funny to slap the Centaur on her big brown rump, yelling "Giddyup!" and spilling her beer down her shirt in the process.  To her credit, she didn't kick him with her powerful legs, instead opting to turn around and face him.  She's fucking livid, and the redneck begins to realize that he's made a terrible mistake.  She slaps him with a powerful hand, sending him across the room, holding his jaw.  He's tossed from the bar, and the revelry continues like nothing ever happened.  
  1150.  
  1151.     By the end of the night, you're now positive you've seen everything.  A tipsy dragon is promising a drunk man a castle on her land, and a werecat is rubbing her cheeks on a guy who is petting her ears.  A Lamia is wiggling her tail in a guy’s lap, and she flicks her forked tongue at him suggestively.  The Centaurs have been left alone after one of them popped that guy in the jaw, and men jockey for the kitsune bartender's attention.  Everything seems to be going alright, as well as they could be, at least.  These soldiers appear to act like most others, they just want some booze and some tail after they get off work.  Your phone rings, and you dread that at least one of your new soldiers is now in the drunk tank or worse.  It's worse.  Patrin is in the police station after some guy got grabby with her, and she bounced his head off the bar.  So close to a perfect record.  At least she called you.  You've been slowly nursing beers all night, and you're still alright to drive.  You tell Katya what's up and she gets up and pays the tab.  Time to bail one of your guys out.
  1152.  
  1153. She's sitting there on a bench in the communal women's cell, a few barflies and hookers giving her a wide berth.  The arresting officer said she had broken the guy's nose, and that he was sleeping it off in the drunk tank.  The officer gestures to Patrin, saying "Hey, Leela!  Your superiors are here to pick you up.  Try to stay out of trouble, huh?"  She stands up and walks out without a word, following you and Katya to your car.  You look at Katya and she understands your intention.  She gets into the backseat, and Patrin goes to the front.  
  1154.  
  1155. "So what's the problem here, Private?"
  1156.  
  1157. Silence.  She looks out of the window.  
  1158.  
  1159. "You know, the reason you're here isn't to fight humans.  It's to help us."
  1160.  
  1161. She continues to stare into the night.  
  1162.  
  1163. "If you want to continue in this program, you need to tell me why you felt the need to break a guy's nose for getting a little gropey with you."
  1164.  
  1165. She continues to say nothing.  It's starting to piss you off.
  1166.  
  1167. "Alright, I'll turn you over to the MPs and we can get the paperwork to get you out of the program started tomorrow."
  1168.  
  1169. She looks over at you, knowing you'll do it.  Her huge, violet eye looks like it's welling up with tears.  Great, just what you needed.  Now you start to feel like the bad guy.  You try to salvage the situation by asking her again what the problem was.  Finally, she begins to speak.  
  1170.  
  1171. "I was married.  On Terra."  Terra was the place all these women claimed to be from.  Some kind of alternate Earth.  You think, scientists were still throwing shitfits over it.  "A war had killed many, but my Brion just wanted to live his life with me, and not concern himself with the war anymore.  Everything was beautiful.  We would work his land together, I would cook for him, and we would watch the sunset together."  She stops, stifles back her tears, remembering her husband.  "And then one day, they came for him."  They.  More than one.  You begin to see where this is going.  "I was out in the forest, collecting fruit for us both to eat, when I heard screaming.  I ran back to the house, and the door was broken down.  Windows were smashed, everything was torn apart.  I followed the foot prints until I saw an Ushi-Oni carrying him over her shoulder, two Lamias and a Succubus leading the group.  I lost control.  I ran to them, and the Ushi-Oni hit me so hard I was knocked out.  I was so weak.  When I woke up, they were all gone.  I couldn't save him." She's crying now, and you let her.  She's earned that much.
  1172.      
  1173.     You were about to say something, when she says, "For almost a year, all I did was cry.  There was no point to anything anymore.  I only did the things that kept me alive, because I was too scared to die.  Then, one day, I went to the nearby village.  Their houses looked like mine, with crying women and children everywhere.  I didn't need to ask what had happened here, but I did anyway.  They told me that the monsters took the men away, not only away from here, but to another land altogether.  Another world.  They want to do to this world what they already did to mine."  She's not crying anymore, and you look over at her, seeing her clench her fists until the knuckles are bone-white.  "I made my way to the capital, where I heard that for the right price, a man could take you to this new world, through a special door. Those...Monsters," she practically spat that word, "had already taken the Door.  I killed two of them with Brion's old sword, and made it through the door myself.  I woke up in the place called Nebraska, and when they found me, they took me to the camp.  A week later, men in uniform asked for volunteers to fight these whores, and I stepped forward."  She looks like she wants to punch the window out of your car and cry at the same time.  Now, a normal person might tell her that everything was going to be OK, that we were going to get back everyone that's been kidnapped and bring these awful monsters to justice.  You're not normal, though, and neither is this situation.  You have to be a dick right now, and you know that's the only way to get Patrin focused again.  You pull the car to the side of the road, and turn to her so you can look her in the eye.  
  1174.  
  1175. "I know you're hurting right now telling me this, but beating the shit out of people will only get you the boot.  You need to focus your attention on being the best soldier you can be so you can take the fight to them.  You aren't the only person who's lost someone important to you in all this, and if you want to do something about it, you need to pull your head out of your ass and get back to work.  That man sleeping it off in the station may wake up and decide to press charges against you, but I'm going to do what I can to make sure the command doesn't fuck you over on this.  I'm taking you back to the barracks, and if you don't want to continue with training, we'll get the paperwork started.  I know you don't want that though."
  1176.  
  1177. She nods and sniffs, still fighting back more tears, her one eye bloodshot.  
  1178.  
  1179. "Time for you to pull your nuts out, trooper.  It doesn't get any easier from here."  She's a little confused by the prospect of pulling her nuts out, but she gets the gist.  You start driving, and you reach Bragg soon afterwards.  You and Katya walk her back to her barracks, and Katya says to you, "It is worse than I thought it was.  They won't stop."  
  1180.  
  1181. "I know.  At least we have something they don't."
  1182.  
  1183. "What's that?"
  1184.  
  1185. "A lot of angry women who're ready to kill them."
  1186.  
  1187.     When Monday rolled around, all of the women were present, in uniform.  Some were still wobbling from their weekend of debauchery, and you think you see the Red Oni with a lip full of dip.  The jump school instructors flown in from Benning take over at this point, and proceed to run all of the booze out of their students.  Several stop to vomit, and it appears that Johnson has accidentally swallowed her dip.  It's a classic rookie mistake, and she wretches on the sidelines for a while before catching up, her face a paler shade of pink now.  Maybe that will teach her not to stuff her lip before formation.  The black hat instructors from jump school weren't happy to be at Bragg, and they took this out on their new students, pushing them harder than the average paratrooper could go.  The women practiced their parachute falls, and beat themselves up on the practice jumps from the tower, which was built from Airborne school specs while the women were in BCT.   Jump school posed its own challenges, and there were several broken legs and tails in the group.  The larger women wore specialized parachute rigs with chutes designed for cargo drops, and there were was to be no shuffling to the door for this bunch.  All tailgate jumps from C-130's and Chinooks.  The Dragons and the Manticore easily soared from the back of the planes in full gear, and made soft landings at the LZ every time.  The Lamias, on the other hand, had to coil their bodies up in the air, and stay like that until landing.  You stood on the ground watching all of these landings hoping against hope no one gets killed.  The Centaurs made perfect landings with no broken legs, much to your surprise.  When the women got their Parachute wings three weeks after the school started, you were amazed that only 5 suffered injuries.  They would be rolled back and go into another class once their tails and legs were healed.  
  1188.  
  1189.     The next phase of training would involve you working with and training the new soldiers, and you would be getting trained as well.  Army SF A-teams do a lot in training indigenous forces, but this new unit would be involved with more Direct Action, Reconnaissance, and Hostage Rescue, making it closer to Delta than what you've been trained in.  Some of the human members of the unit were from Delta, as well as some from SF and the Rangers.  The first two phases would be the same as the training you've already been through, with Selection, Advanced tactical training, and the Robin Sage exercise.  Phase two would involve Military Freefall School, Dive School and Sniper training.  After that, some would go to Medical training, and some would end up in Special Operations Intelligence training.  The ones that haven't gone to Intel or Medical would continue in further training, more shoot houses, more recon, more hand to hand combat.  The nature of the unit's foes meant that they could get close to you really fast, faster than most could draw a bead on them, so it was necessary to be able to use your hands to incapacitate the enemy.
  1190.  
  1191.     For a while, you observe the selection and training.  About 40% washed out in Selection, and the ones left after that pushed themselves harder so they weren't kicked from the program as well.  The SERE phase was particularly hard to watch, as your own memories from SERE school were unpleasant, to say the least.  Instructors knew they didn't have a physical advantage over the students, so they emphasized the psychological aspects of interrogation and isolation.  Dunking heads under freezing water, putting collars and leashes on them, treating the women like actual animals.  You recall a sobbing werewolf in a cage, having peanuts and popcorn thrown at her while an instructor announces her like some kind of circus freakshow attraction.  The Centaurs are fitted with saddles and paraded around the fake POW camp while an instructor tweaks their ears at any sign of rebellion.  SERE school is definitely designed to push people to the breaking point, and when they finally checked off the last box and were graduated, you could see the women looking haggard and spent, their uniforms torn and ragged, but their eyes proud as they saluted the flag.  They were working as a team, telling each other not to give up and working on escape plans from the get go.  A number of them made multiple escapes, but they were always brought back.  
  1192.  
  1193.     The world continues its downward spiral as you and the women train.  Families grieved as the U.S.S. Bulkeley went aground in the Gibraltar Straits, with all the crew either drowned or missing, captured by a group of harpies and sirens.  Piracy continued to rise, but the Somali and Malay pirates that had plagued the waterways for years were replaced with ruthless Monsters, kidnapping sailors and selling them to the highest bidder, or just keeping them for their own purposes.  Soldiers from around the world continue to go missing, and no one has yet escaped from their clutches.  In Egypt, a woman calling herself Pharoah had methodically taken over the Nile river valley and effectively enslaved the population, but the population didn't seem to mind.  Maybe having a strong leader is just what they wanted.  A shadowy Lamia had begun fighting the Pharoah's forces, calling for her deposal, but the President decided we had stuck our noses in enough conflicts in the Middle East to get involved with another that we don't understand.  At the same time as all this was happening, Allied countries around the world began training extra species forces, with few exceptions.  North Korean leadership went silent soon after Kim Jong-Un declared war against all other species.  Haven't heard a peep from them since that happened, but the satellite photos don't look that different, honestly.  
  1194.  
  1195.     You and Katya continued your relationship, despite the hectic training cycle.  The women in the unit could smell her on you, and you sensed a hint of jealousy from them, not because Kotova had "claimed" you, but because you and she actually had some free time to fuck.  While Katya stalked and "hunted" you, they were studying tactics, maintaining their weapons, and learning about more efficient ways to kill the enemy.  "Spots", the Holstasaurus, studied medical textbooks and practiced her combat lifesaving skills.  "Big Red", the Oni, worked out and found new ways to carry more ammo on her.  "Babe", the Blue Oni, studied explosives and engineering, looking for the best ways to smash through walls, with and without breaching charges.  Minnie, the Minotaurus, looked for ways to decrease the load she was carrying, as an M134 Minigun with ammo and power source weighed somewhere in the area of 200 lbs loaded.  Even she would get tired carrying that and battle rattle all day.  
  1196.  
  1197.     After the completion of the Robin Sage exercise, the women who were left (about 40) were awarded their Green Berets in a ceremony outside.  No family were present, and a few photographers marked the occation.  They were given a long weekend off before heading to going into Bragg's wind tunnel for Military Freefall, followed by 3 weeks at Yuma actually doing HALO and HAHO jumps.  After the brutality and pain of Special Forces Qualifications, the prospect of playing around in wind tunnels and jumping out of planes is a welcome relief.  You stay in Bragg for the month while the women go to Yuma.  No deaths, no broken bones.  The instructors there have their shit together.  Your month off is spent working out, shooting at ranges, and hand to hand training with Katya.  Hand to hand usually led to other things, but that didn't bother you in the slightest.  She was becoming more and more affectionate towards you, and anytime a woman, extra species or otherwise, gave you a look, she'd usually give them a hard stare telling them to keep their eyes to themselves.  When your ex-wife walked up to you in a Fayetteville bar, she verbally tore you a new one over these rumors that you were fucking some monster girl.  Which was also the exact moment that Katya came back from the ladies room, towering over your 5'5" ex-wife by about a foot.  You had to restrain her as best you could before she fucked your ex up.  After your bitch ex-wife made a hasty exit, Katya apologized profusely, saying she had lost control after hearing her accusations and, in her words, "smelling two different men on her".  You forgive her, but you're a bit concerned as to what can happen the next time a human woman tries to hit on you.  
  1198.  
  1199.     Dive School takes place down in Naval Station Key West, and you can see that the Navy has been keeping up with the Army in recruiting.  Several species of previously unseen (by you, anyway) monsters are both teaching and being trained at dive school.  Some don't even need the SCUBA equipment.  A shark girl stares at you lasciviously until she sees Katya staring back.  Once they make eye contact, Katya takes two "fingers" and points them up at her eyes in a "V" shape, which, to a Russian, means "If given the chance, I would gladly pluck your eyes out".  The Shark gets the message and proceeds to eye rape another human in the cadre.  In the pool, a Finnish instructor pulls the rebreathers off a Centaur and rolls her around in the water, fucking up her orientation in the water.  The Centaur thrashes about for a second or two, then calmly collects herself and rights herself in the water.  Apparently the Finn is an expert at this, and you see why.  She's a Näkki, a Finnish water spirit with silvery green skin.  The old Finnish legends say that she would pull small children into the water, drowning them.  You are unsure how the Finns thought it would be a good idea to recruit her, or why the Navy sought her out as a liasion officer.  One thing was for certain, she was definitely good at distracting the students and instructors.  One of the SEALs there said she had to be convinced to put on a wetsuit, as her nudity and silvery skin was affecting training.  At least Katya didn't catch you stealing a glance at her very womanly figure as she gracefully made her way through the pool, pulling the rebreathers off of your comrades.  Maybe she did.  She was kind of rough on you that whole time you were in Key West.  
  1200.  
  1201.     DARPA, in their zeal to make cool things at exorbitant prices for the government, had already begun work on Lamia suits/body armor when it was announced that there would be extra species women in the military.  Seeing a need for Lamias operating in cold weather environments and taking into account the Lamia's unique body, they set out to make cold weather gear for the huge snakes that would allow them to traverse the frozen wastes of Alaska.  It was a series of segmented "shoes" that were laced onto the snake portion of the body, basically sneakers that kept them warm and their bellies off of the ice.  The Lamias in the group were thankful for this, but they were still pissed that they were even in Alaska for cold weather training to begin with.  They begged and borrowed all the hand warmers they could find, and their dragon and salamander friends built fires for them at every opportunity.  The nature of the "shoes" allowed them to climb glaciers almost vertically with little climbing equipment, and while the Norwegian exchange elves and a big blue Jötunn taught them the finer points of mountaineering and surviving on the ice, they still swore up a storm at every given opportunity.  
  1202.  
  1203.     The main body of training was complete, and a few of the women, the two Cyclops included, went to the Army's 7 week Sniper course to refine their marksmanship and learn to conceal their sometimes huge bodies.  A week after they left you got the phone call from the CO.  
  1204.  
  1205. "Get your squad ready."
  1206.  
  1207. "Sir?"
  1208.  
  1209. "I can't talk about it over an unsecured line.  Meet me in my office in an hour."
  1210. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1211.  
  1212.                             Joe
  1213.  
  1214.     You sit in your cell, the cast off of your leg now.  Adams rolls up to the cell door with his Lamia "wife" and is let inside.  He positions his wheelchair next to the rack, and you help him out of his chair and set him in bed.  This was the routine now.  Your plan of faking pain to prevent Ana from raping you backfired horribly, and after a few days, you had the shakes something bad, and you begged her for her venom.  She knew you were hers now, and she happily complied, taking care of you right there in your hospital bed.  As soon as Adams woke up, he was the same and Liz would pump him full of venom right there, apologizing for hurting him so.  Adams seemed to accept this with the patience of a battered housewife, telling you that she didn't really mean to hurt him, but him trying to escape forced her hand.  What else can you do but agree?  Tell him he's full of shit?  You were in the exact same boat as him.  Well, maybe not the exact same, you could still walk, even if it was a painful hobble.  
  1215.  
  1216. "Hey Joe."
  1217.  
  1218. "Yeah?  What is it, bro?"
  1219.  
  1220. "I need to piss."
  1221.  
  1222. You pick up Adams and slowly get him to the toilet.  He pulls his pants down and you let him down slowly on the seat.  
  1223.  
  1224. "I never thought the Army would cripple my ass."
  1225.  
  1226. "Yeah, me either."
  1227.  
  1228. "I was more ready to have my humvee blown up or catch a bullet than this."
  1229.  
  1230. "I don't think any of us saw this as a possibility."
  1231.  
  1232. "Yeah, you got that right."
  1233.  
  1234.     You sit there in the silence of the moment and hear Adams do his business.  You try to remember what things were like before this, but your thoughts always lead you back to your capture, your violation, your imprisonment.  Adams seems to hear your thoughts, and asks, "Do you think they'll come to rescue us?"
  1235.  
  1236. "I don't know, man."
  1237.  
  1238. You help Adams off the toilet and set him on his rack.  You climb up to your top rack and can hear him sniffle a little as he fights back tears.  You had only ever seen him cry once, and that was when we lost Sergeant Brickton to an IED on your first deployment.  You consider finding a way to kill yourself, but where would that leave Adams?
  1239.  
  1240. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1241.  
  1242.  
  1243.                             Part Two
  1244.  
  1245.                                 Red
  1246.  
  1247.     In a dark situation room, lit by the flickering screens of computers and projector screens, you wait with your team and the other squad that makes up the operational arm of SFOD-E, XSOT 1.  On your squad, Babe was your Engineering Sergeant, Spots, Esses, and Minnie were Weapons, with Minnie acting as a one woman Machine gun team, and Anders the Manticore was Comms.  SSgt. Patterson was the Medic, a human, as none of the women sent to Medical training had made it back yet from school.  You weren't comfortable with having a Manticore on your squad, but she had proven a capable soldier in training, and had even managed to turn the negative opinion of her around with the other women.  Your memories of the last Manticore you encountered were still fresh in your mind, even more than a year later.  After learning of the new squad assignments a few days ago, you called Anders into your office and told her exactly what you thought of her and all Manticores.  
  1248.  
  1249. "Everyone else here has given me a chance, Sergeant Nielsen, why can't you?"
  1250.  
  1251. "Because I've seen your kind raping my friend, and they nearly got me too.  Just because you passed all the psych exams doesn't mean I don't know what you're capable of.  Why should I trust a Manticore?"
  1252.  
  1253.     She hung her head.  "You can't.  There isn't any reason to trust me.  My mom thought I was messed up in the head, all those years, for not attacking men like she did.  She wanted to have me put away.  I saw how those in my species cruelly treated men, and I thought it was wrong.  So I ran away from home.  To find a place that didn't expect me to rape men.  When I came through the door to this side, I found out the others had already got here, doing what they do best.  I was too late, everyone thought I would steal their husbands and run off with their sons, milking them til I got bored.  It's because of THEM," she gestures with her paw, pointing at nothing but indicating all of her species, "that everyone thinks I'm some kind of sick rapist."  She was portraying herself as the lone outlier, the one Manticore that wasn't going to shoot him up with her paralyzing agent and fuck him til he dies of dehydration.  You can't kick her off of your squad because she hasn't had any disciplinary disturbances.  You even asked one of the guys she picked up what she was like.  He said she was a real sweetheart.  You don't know what else to tell her, so you say you'll be keeping your eye on her.  She left your office, undaunted.  
  1254.  
  1255.     Your CO interrupts your memories.  "Ladies, Gentleman, I'd like you to meet Ms. Sibyll, from Intelligence Support Activity.  She'll be briefing you."  Ms. Sibyll has two green antennae coming up from the top of her head, with a green thorax extending behind her.  She has long, serrated blades extending along the length of her arms.  You've never seen a Mantis before, but you're pretty sure she is one.  If the Activity has Monster girls in their ranks, it's possible she's been here quite a while.  The Activity was the unit that most people hadn't even heard of, even in the Army.  If any Army unit were to have Extra Species women before Special Forces, it'd be ISA.  There are probably some spooks and shapeshifters at Special Activities Division in the darkest corners of Camp Peary, too.  She's wearing a simple black suit, tailored to her body, and wears no expression on her face.  She points a remote at the projector screen, and a map of Africa comes up.  It zooms in on Sudan and Egypt.  
  1256.  
  1257. "On the northern border of Sudan, near Lake Nubia, is Wadi Halfa.  Men from Egypt and Sudan have been disappearing lately.  While this may not sound like breaking news to any of you, what is important is we actually know where they're going.  ISA has a recon team on the ground, my team, and we have been developing an asset for some time now."  She presses a button on the remote and brings up a grainy photo of a woman with dark gray fox ears.  "Meet Jean.  She's our inside man.  She has been working at the prison since she came over a year ago, and lives in a small hut on the outskirts."  Sibyll clicks the remote and pulls up a picture of a slum neighborhood with trash everywhere, then clicks again to show an old factory.  "This is the prison, or rather, the prison is underneath this old building.  Jean will lead us to the underground facility and let us do our work."  She clicked the remote again to bring up rough sketches of the prison's floor plan, apparently drawn by Jean.  Sibyll ran through the plan to storm the prison, freeing the men, and taking prisoners where possible.  "Any questions?"  
  1258.  
  1259. Spots, the Holstasaurus Weapons Sgt, asks, "How many megs can we expect to be running this facility?"
  1260.  
  1261. "Approximately 25.  We only need the succubus in charge alive.  Jean says she's a nasty one."
  1262.  
  1263. Anders asks, "How do we know Jean isn't leading us into a trap?  Get us all killed pretty easily."
  1264.  
  1265. "She came over a year ago with the promise of finding a husband.  By the time she realized how she would find it with them, it was too late to back out.  The intel she has provided," Sibyll clicks through pictures of emaciated bodies, dirty cells, and dead men, "would implicate her as well in these crimes.  She needs us, we need her."
  1266.  
  1267. "Method of infil and exfil?"  You ask, remembering the important things.
  1268.  
  1269. "Nighttime HALO jump.  Have to make the least amount of noise as possible, we'll be landing about 5 kilometers from Jean's hut, then she'll lead us to the prison.  Exfil will be with Chinooks from the 160th, flying out of Southern Egypt.  We will be flying in medical personnel after the prison is secured to treat the survivors."
  1270.  
  1271. "Should we expect any interference from the Pharoah, or the Lamia leading the resistance against her?"
  1272.  
  1273. "Nothing in intel reports from Langley or Belvoir suggests that the Pharoah is interested in anything beyond the Nile Valley, and the same goes for Apophis, her only interest is dethroning the Pharoah.  If the Pharoah decides she wants the Suez, then it becomes the Navy's problem, not ours."
  1274.  
  1275. "A big fucking problem.  How do we get into this prison, exactly?"
  1276.  
  1277. Sibyll points the remote at the screen, changing to a picture of a steel door with a key console next to it.  "Breaching charges, normally, but the room leading to the door is set to collapse if explosives are used, trapping the breach team.  Jean knows the passcode and is in the retina scan database, so we need her to get us in."
  1278.  
  1279. "And if she can't?  If she ditches us, or is found out?"
  1280.  
  1281. "We have a contingency plan for that."
  1282.  
  1283. "Which is?"
  1284.  
  1285. "Breaking down the door."  
  1286.  
  1287. "Without explosives?"
  1288.  
  1289. "Yes."
  1290.  
  1291. You have no doubt that one of these women can kick that big ass door down, so you drop the subject.  Sibyll goes on to fill in the rest of the details of the mission, logistics, timeframe, expected resistance, etc.  None of these women were armed, at least not with firearms, but they were extremely dangerous.  The leadership of the prison involved a succubus, with two bodyguards, an Ushi Oni and a Minotaurus.  Probably be a good idea not to run point on that one, considering your limitations as a human.  Put Babe or Spots up front, Babe will be pissed that she couldn't blow up the door and be ready for a fight.  Katya and Esses, the Lamia can take up the rear with you in the middle and Minnie hangs back in case there's anything that needs to be turned into a puddle.  Team B would take the other side of the prison, and SFC Williams can set that squad up however he needs it.  The briefing is soon adjourned and everyone returns to their barracks to gear up.  
  1292.  
  1293.     On the long flight to Africa, you sit in your seat, watching how everyone is dealing with the prospect of their first mission.  Everyone looks determined and is silent, and the bigger women look pissed at the relatively small confines of the C130.  You look at Spots, and she looks as if she's about to cry.  Fear is a big problem, and you have to nip this one in the bud.  "You ready for this, Spots?"  She nods, not saying anything.  "You scared?"  She shakes her head.  "I'm scared."  She looks at you, surprised.  
  1294.  
  1295. "Really?"
  1296.  
  1297. "Anyone who says they aren't scared is lying.  Everyone here is scared, and don't forget it.  It's how you deal with your fear that sets you apart from the normal people.  The reason why I'm not pissing my pants right now is because I've got you next to me.  Those bitches on the ground aren't scared, but that's because they don't know we're coming.  If they knew, they'd be shitting their pants at your approach, because you're gonna kill more motherfuckers than Smallpox.  You're the Mad Cow, Spots, and Death trembles when you walk past."  A look of resolve is on her face now, and you've done your job as a leader.  "Thanks."
  1298.  
  1299. "Don't thank me, just remember to stop killing long enough for us to take a prisoner, you crazy motherfucker."
  1300.  
  1301.     Spots laughs.  Later, as the plane approaches the drop zone, the door opens and the crew chief stands.  Everyone on A team and B team stands, ready to make history.  The first Extra Species combat jump.  Everyone puts on their NODs, some can see in the dark already, but they need to be able to see the IR markers on their teammate's rigs.  The light turns green and Babe and Esses are the first out of the door.  Two by Two, they all follow them into the inky blackness of the night.  The cold night air rushes by your face as you see the women making formations in the sky, IR beacons blinking in time.  Parachutes open, and soon everyone is on the ground, folding up the chutes.  Sibyll is talking into a headset, on a different frequency than everyone else.  She's wearing a skintight suit of unknown origin, and she's equipped like some kind of super-secret operative from a spy movie.  
  1302. Everyone is gathered up, no injuries on the jump, and Team B begins to make their way directly to the factory for overwatch.  
  1303.  
  1304.     The ground begins to rumble a little, and you shoot a look at Sibyll.  "My team should be here soon," she says, unfazed by what feels like a small, localized earthquake.  Out of the sand comes a large, brown...thing.  It appears to be armored with a number of large red jewels in patterns of three on its carapace.  It looks to be ten feet long, at least the part coming out of the sand, and you can hear muffled arguing coming from within.  A huge circle of teeth opens up, and out comes a woman/arachnid, dressed similarly to Sibyll, but covered with slime.  She has a stinger, like a scorpion, and her short hair is silver.  She wears a mask over the lower part of her face, with a white print of a human skull on it.  She's quietly swearing, and a pink, wet mass in the shape of nude woman follows her out.
  1305.  
  1306. "You got all my shit wet, you dumbass!", the scorpion whispers, pissed.
  1307.  
  1308. "Not my fault your gear tastes funny!"  The pink woman folds her arms in a huff, pouting.
  1309.  
  1310. Sibyll cuts the argument short with a cold stare, and the scorpion and sandworm stiffen a little.  "Any new developments?"
  1311.  
  1312. "Bodyguards left the prison and came back an hour later, with someone bagged and cuffed."  The scorpion says, regaining her bearing.  
  1313.  
  1314. "Who did they capture?"
  1315.  
  1316. "Unknown."
  1317.  
  1318. "Then we make our way to Jean's as planned."
  1319.  
  1320.     The Sandworm goes back underground.  She'll be waiting near the prison.  Team A hustles to the slums where Jean lives.  Trash is all over the streets, and windows and doors are increasingly rare the farther you get.  Sibyll is leading the group, and she makes a hand signal to indicate the right house.  The team moves across the street while being covered from the other side, and when you get to the door, you see that it's been battered off its hinges.  You stack up at the front, and you hear quiet sobbing.  "Go soft", says your hand signal.  You're the first in, and you see a young girl carrying an old Kalashnikov.  Her hands raise the weapon.  "S-stop right there!"  She squeaks.  Normally, she'd be dead as Dillinger at this point, but you're in the target's home.  Half her face is swollen, with a big black eye forming on the left side of her face.  She's wearing a long, white t-shirt, and you can see the dark grey tail between her legs, a sign of fear.  You didn't even see her ears at first because they were flat on her head.  Is this Jean?  The rest of the team regards her with curiosity.  
  1321.  
  1322. "Jean?" you ask.
  1323.  
  1324. "They took her."
  1325.  
  1326. "What?"
  1327.  
  1328. "They took Mom.  I couldn't stop them."
  1329.  
  1330. "Where'd they take her?  Who took her?"
  1331.  
  1332. "They hit me when I tried to stop them, said they would make an example of her."  She's openly crying now, tears coming out of her unbruised eye.  Patterson gets between you two and starts to bandage her up.  Katya cuts the red cloth the girl's been using as a rifle strap and relieves her of her weapon.  
  1333.  
  1334. "What's your name, sweetie?" You ask.  
  1335.  
  1336. "Angeline.  Are you going to hurt me?"
  1337.  
  1338. "No, we're going to bring back your mom.  We need to know who took her, and how long ago it was."
  1339.  
  1340. "Two big Monsters, a Minotaur and an Ushi-Oni.  It was an hour ago.  Said she was a traitor."
  1341.  
  1342. "Patterson, stay with her” Patterson nods.  He's an excellent medic, qualified to do just about anything short of brain surgery.
  1343.  
  1344. The team moves even faster now, making our way to the prison.  Team B tells us that the sniper team has removed all external meg threats, quietly.  The sniper team, two Delta guys poached from the Unit to be in XSOT, changes to another overwatch position and rest of B team silently catches up with A team.  You see two werewolves near the door, vacant looks on their faces as they lay in twin pools of blood.  Two shots, right to the grape.  Those Delta guys were scary good.  You stack up near the door, and Babe kicks it in, coming right off the hinges.  Team A pours in, and the room fills with the flashes of light from suppressed rifles.  Two more down.  The Lamia and the Lizardman seemed to be the only ones on this floor, and Sibyll leads the team to the downstairs entrance to the prison.  
  1345.  
  1346. "That contingency plan you have?  Is it going to work?"  You whisper into your headset to Sibyll.  She nods, changes frequencies and speaks.  "Plan B, Sasha.  Execute it."  The ground begins to shake.
  1347.  
  1348. "Stand clear of the door."
  1349.  
  1350. "Plan B" begins to shake the foundations of the building.  Sasha comes in through the opposite wall and pushes into the door.  The door's heavy hinges buckle under the might of the sandworm battering ram, and a loud crash carries her into the prison.  The lights are now coming on, and you hear yelling in English and Arabic.  Not exactly subtle, but there is something to be said for Shock and Awe.  Sasha comes out of her mouth momentarily to wish us luck, and we pour into the new opening.  Spots is on point, with Babe close behind her.  You follow Babe and Esses follows you.  Sibyll, Minnie, Katya and Anders are in the second group of four.  Team B splits up into two fire teams and follows team A.  
  1351.  
  1352. "Check those corners, don't ride your sights, and stay out of the fatal funnel."
  1353.  
  1354.     The first room is a hallway with a plexiglass window at the end, with a very frightened looking werebat sitting at a desk, frantically pressing buttons and yelling into an intercom.  She must be the gatekeeper, no one gets in or out if she doesn't press the right button.  Spots fires three rounds into the glass, with no effect.  Babe aims her 12 gauge and puts buckshot into the glass, splintering it but ultimately having no effect.  The Werebat regains her composure and is smiling smugly now, safe behind her glass.  Babe, enraged, pushes her fist into the glass, shattering it, and grabs the bat by her head and slams it into the console.  Babe then presses the button and the next door is opened.  Team B breaks off and moves to the opposite side of the Cell block, both teams moving parallel to each other.  The cell block is in chaos, men yelling from their cells, and Monster coming out of the doors at the end of the block.  The first few, a Salamander and an Arachne, linger in the doorway, and the pointmen on each team cut them down with three rounds each, two to the chest, one to the head.  They slump over and a Dragon bursts through the confusion, her fire breath smoking from her mouth and nostrils.  Spots drills her with two bracing shots to the chest, and when that doesn't kill her, three more.  
  1355.  
  1356.     Past the cell block is the cafeteria, approximately two stories tall, with entrances from the top and bottom floor.  As both teams stack up and enter, a number of monsters begin to rush in from the other side.  Gunfire rings out, some suppressed, some not.  A Harpy swoops down from above and you see it just in time to get a bead on her, firing four times rapidly.  She drops at your feet, twitching, and you put two into her head, finishing her off.  Babe fires buckshot into a charging Lamia, placing a hole the size of a fifty cent piece into her midsection.  This slows her down, and Babe fires again, hitting her in the head.  The fireteams kept moving forward, and some of the smarter monsters fell back before they could get hit, rushing back from where they came.  A huge, hairy arachnid, with brown fur and green skin, skitters through the extra-large doorway.  She has big black horns and huge paws, and she's laughing.  It is not the laugh of someone who has heard a funny joke.  Minnie and Big Red (on B team) step out of their stacks, with their machine guns ready.  They've been silent for the most part, not wanting to hit prisoners with .50 cal rounds and Minigun fire.  Minnie's gun reels up, the whiz of spinning barrels telling you that shit is about to get real messy.  Minnie and Big Red both put a foot behind them, bracing for the recoil.  The Ushi-Oni is still laughing, and it's clear that she doesn't know what she's staring down, or doesn't care.  Big Red's fifty opens up first, making the sound of a busted zipper ripping denim at 900 rounds a minute.  Minnie's fires immediately after, the thunderous minigun making an awful ripping sound as hot shell casings rain down at her hooves.  The Ushi Oni jerks and twitches, green blood making a mist behind her, and pieces of the door frame crack and splinter as stray rounds and fragments hit the area behind her.  She finally slumps forward in a pool of reeking gore, her face a mask of blood.  Minnie's barrels stop spinning.  "No kill like overkill."  She says, and Big Red and Minnie fall back into the rear of the stacks again, pulling rear security.  
  1357.  
  1358.     Past the Cafeteria is a series of small, two bed barracks rooms for the prison guards.  Teams stack up on the doors, and Babe, with her shotgun, shoots the lock twice and tosses a flashbang in.  The room fills with blinding light and noise, and Spots is in first.  You, Esses and Babe run in, and Esses fires three times into her corner, and a winged insect crumples.  
  1359.  
  1360. "Left clear"
  1361.  
  1362. "Right clear.  Dead end."
  1363.  
  1364.     Stack up again.  Breach, bang, clear, repeat.  The other teams do likewise, and sporadic gunfire fills in the silences between breaches.  One door remains, at the end of the hall.  Stack up.  As Babe places a strip of breaching tape down the length of the door, the wall crashes down, and you are sent sliding down the floor.  Your vision blurs and everything is a bit foggy, it's a good thing for impact helmets. A big fist is poking through the hole in the wall, and Esses aims her M4 into the hole and goes cyclic, sending thirty rounds into the big hand and arm.  A howl of pain is heard and the hand retracts, pouring blood.  Babe finishes with the tape and the door explodes, falling into the room.  Your stack pours in as you get up, and gunfire fills the room.  As you run in, the huge Minotaur is slumped over in the corner.  A bloodied fox sits strapped to a chair, her face swollen and bruised, and a trickle of blood is issuing from her pointed ears.  A bushy grey tail sits in another corner, either pulled out or cut off.  This must be Jean.
  1365.  
  1366. "Room clear."
  1367.  
  1368. "Is she hit?"
  1369.  
  1370. "Not by us."
  1371.  
  1372. You swear and call for B team's medic, Sergeant First Class Anderson, and he comes in soon after.  He starts cleaning up her multiple wounds, lacerations to the face and body, battered eye, and the bloody stump where her tail once was.  He's asking her questions, but she stares at him with one eye, seemingly not hearing him.  
  1373.  
  1374. "Might be deaf from the gunfire.  Keep treating her."  Anderson nods and goes back to his work.  
  1375.  
  1376.     Down the hallway you hear the others breach a large steel door, going in through the wall instead.  A flurry of shouts can be heard as gunfire stops. Your team checks that there are no more doors to breach, and go to the last room.  Katya is holding a short blue succubus by the neck as she struggles for freedom.  "She tried to get away in a little escape tunnel."  You walk around the desk to see said escape tunnel.  Her bodyguards definitely wouldn't have fit.  The blue demon wriggles in Katya's paw, calling her all manner of insults, including "Cat Cunt", and "slave to humans".  
  1377.  
  1378. "You've sucked your last cock, shlyukha", says Katya, and she delivers a knockout blow to the succubus, finally shutting her up.  
  1379.  
  1380. You turn to Anders, saying "Facility is secured, call in the Nightstalkers."
  1381.  
  1382. "The 160th is already on station, I'm calling them up now."
  1383.  
  1384. "Good work, let's start freeing these prisoners."
  1385.  
  1386.     The control booth was manned by a terrified Kitsune, who hid in the booth for the duration of the shootout.  She immediately raises her hands in surrender and is cuffed.  Medics and doctors soon arrive after the Chinooks land, and begin to treat the prisoners for their bruises, cuts, broken bones and general malnutrition.  A few translators are walking through the mass of bodies, getting names and hometowns, people to notify.  Jean is wheeled out on a stretcher, and her daughter, Angeline is walking to the evac area outside the factory with Patterson.  She sees her mom being carted out and runs to her, crying and hugging her.  Angeline is shooting questions at her mom, rapid fire, but all Jean can do is smile, presumably because she's still deaf.  She reaches up to her daughter with great effort, and hugs her.  They're both crying now, but they're together.  Helicopters surround the old factory and prisoners are being led out, if they can walk, to get food and medical care.  XSOT 1 starts to load up onto the Chinooks and leaves the medics and support people to their jobs.  Chief Warren, the teams XO, pats you on the back.  "Good job, Red.  We really knocked the corn out of their shit.  Sibyll is going to need your help with the interrogations.  No rest for the wicked, right?"
  1387.  
  1388. "Right"
  1389.  
  1390. "Try to get some sleep, we'll be in Egypt real soon."
  1391.  
  1392. "Roger."
  1393.  
  1394.     Everyone on board is dealing with the post combat high, knees bouncing, people shivering from the adrenaline cutting off blood flow to the limbs, and nervous chattering.  The Succubus stares daggers at everyone, but especially at Katya.  You're about to knock out, but Big Red hits you up for a dip.  You hand her the can of Cope and tell her to keep it, you're quitting.  
  1395.  
  1396. "Big Cat doesn't like the smell, huh, little Red?" She winks, and stuffs half the can into her lower lip.  
  1397.  
  1398. "Told you not to call me that."
  1399.  
  1400. "Don't want to comment, right?  I don't blame you, Red, she's a firecracker."
  1401.  
  1402. "Going to sleep now, Staff Sergeant."  And you did.  You don't know how long you had to sleep, so you got to it.
  1403.  
  1404.     You wake up an hour or two later, as the helo is landing.  Some secret air base used for drones.  The Succubus and Kitsune prisoner are led off in hand cuffs, Sibyll following them as Babe and Big Red restrained the prisoners.  Sibyll called for you some time later, after you had showered in a conex box fitted with shower heads.  Through two way glass, you saw Big Red and the succubus, the succubus had a new shiner and a few bruises on her, and Big Red was wearing a T shirt with two white parachutes and the "AIRBORNE" uniform tab, with the words "Fort Bragg: Where Even the STDs are AIRBORNE".  The shirt has to be at least 2XL, but it's still too small, and the words stretch across her massive chest.  
  1405.  
  1406. "The kitsune gave up everything she knew.  Didn't even touch her."  Sibyll tells you.  
  1407.  
  1408. "What did she know?"
  1409.  
  1410. "Not much.  Been here a year, all the dick she could ask for, three meals a day.  Knows nothing about other facilities or leadership.  Only what's been going on where she worked.  We'll keep at it, she might remember something important to us."
  1411.  
  1412. "And the Succubus?"
  1413.  
  1414. "Aside from calling us all dykes?  Nothing."  Sibyll turns to you with a sample cup.  "I need you to fill this up."
  1415.  
  1416. "Urinalysis?  Look-"
  1417.  
  1418. "No."
  1419.  
  1420. It dawns on you, exactly what she wants.  
  1421.  
  1422. "But why?"
  1423.  
  1424. "Advanced interrogation techniques."  
  1425.  
  1426. You grumble and take the cup.  You can't even remember the last time you masturbated, Katya has been fucking you silly for some time.  Katya.  Thinking about her has got your cock at half chub already.  You get to a bathroom and start to imagine your fingers running through her hair as you kiss her, gripping her hips and slamming away, you're already at full mast.  You start to take care of business, thinking of Katya's firm ass and perfectly shaped breasts, you're almost there, losing sight of everything else.  Tunnel vision, your eyes roll back a little and then you're spent.  You close up the cup and wash your hands.  You open the door and Katya is standing there, arms folded.  
  1427.  
  1428. "I could smell you.  Why did you not ask for help?"
  1429.  
  1430. "Didn't know where you were, besides you'd probably take it all for yourself."
  1431.  
  1432. "Only the first time around."  She smirks.  "What does Sibyll need it for?"
  1433.  
  1434. "Don't know yet."  
  1435.  
  1436. You and Katya walk back to the room next to the interrogation room, where Sibyll was.  "I need you in there."
  1437.  
  1438. "Why?"
  1439.  
  1440. "Don't worry why, just stand in the back and don't speak to her."
  1441.  
  1442. You put on your Oakleys.  It would be bad if the succuslut saw you checking her out.  Worse if Katya saw it.  You walk in, and Big Red looks at you.  
  1443. "Sup, Red?  You here for the show?"
  1444.  
  1445. "Something like that."
  1446.  
  1447. "Hey Mister!  You like what you see?  A little girl on girl?  You like it when an innocent girl is handcuffed to a chair?"  The succubus was flicking her tongue lewdly at you, waggling her eyebrows suggestively.  You don't say anything to her.  Big Red plants a meaty fist into her side, and the air escapes in a gasp.  "Don't talk to him, you blue slut.  You're only allowed to talk when you have something to tell me."
  1448.  
  1449. "Fuck you, pinky.  You hit like a ten year old boy."  
  1450.  
  1451.     You stand there a while longer, not knowing what you're supposed to be doing.  The Succubus is handcuffed to the chair, which has hinges on the back two legs, allowing it to be placed on its back.  The hulking Oni upends the chair, and the succubus is on her back as her head hits the floor.  The Oni grabs a towel and a jug, and the succubus struggles against the Oni's immense strength.  The towel is placed on her face and water is poured on the towel.  After a few seconds the water stops and you hear the succubus choke and gag.  This repeats, with the Oni asking her if she has anything else to say.  The Succubus spits in the Oni's face.  "F...fuck you, skank!"  She spits more water out.  
  1452.  
  1453.     Sibyll walks in, dressed in a suit, with an attache case.  "That's enough, Staff Sergeant.  Ready to be more cooperative?”  The Succubus looks at her and snarls "Fuck off, slave."  The Oni picks up the sneering demon's chair and moves the table in front of her.  "You're all fucking slaves!  You could've been with US!  We would make you all queens!  That fucking Fox slut fucked this all up for us!"  On she went, ranting and frothing at the mouth, and Sibyll and Big Red stood there, silent.  Sibyll pulled a chair to the table and sat down, setting her attache case on the table, and opening it up.  The Succubus stops mid-sentence when she sees the contents of the briefcase.  Your sample.  
  1454.  
  1455. "Hey, uh, what's that for?"  Her tail is moving back and forth now.  Sibyll opens the container and places the lid on the table.  The Succubus breaths deeply, inhaling the scent.  "Are you going to share that?"  The transformation from crazy guy yelling about Area 51 to a chastised little girl is immediate, and unsettling.  "That depends.  On how useful you can be to us."  The succubus' tail is trying to reach down the front of her shorts.  Sibyll takes the lid of the sample cup and screws it back on, causing a cry of surprise to come from the blue demon.  She looks like she might cry.  "D-don't do that.  I can be reasonable."  Sibyll raises an eyebrow.  "Can you now?  I'm glad you can deign to speak to us mere slaves."
  1456.  
  1457. "Y-yeah."  
  1458.  
  1459. "So tell me.  About yourself."  And she does.  Sibyll questions her on prisons, locations, personnel and organization, the locations of the "doors" across the world.  She told Sibyll what she knew, and Sibyll would move the cup closer or further away depending on the answer.  Her tail seemed to be reaching towards the cup, just out of the grasp of the spade tail.  She didn't know where the servicemen in Afghanistan had gone to, but she gave us enough leads to find who did know.  One of them almost made you flinch.  A name you'd heard before.  Visions of you standing over a dire wolf and placing two shots into her chest filled your head.  Volkova.  Must be her sister.  You know Katya is on the other side of the glass, and she heard it too.  After Sibyll is done, she moves the sample cup within reach of the tail, which grabs it and pulls it to the succubus' mouth, greedily slurping it down with smacking sounds.  You think you might get a little sick, if you weren't so worried about Volkova's sister.  Sibyll looks at you, the first time you see any expression on her face.  She looks concerned.  Sibyll tells Big Red to take the succubus to her cell, and you and her walk out of the room.  You walk into the room on the other side of the two way mirror, and Katya is fuming.  She punches a wall, putting her fist through the dry wall.
  1460.  
  1461.  
  1462.  
  1463.                             Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan
  1464.    
  1465.     2 weeks of following the Volkova lead had led Central Intelligence and ISA to Tajikistan, where surveillance had shown that Volkova had been operating some smuggling business.  Normally, a Spetsnaz operative running illegal businesses in former Soviet republics wasn't necessarily the concern of US intelligence agencies, but when the operative in question is a 6 foot 10 direwolf possibly connected with the disappearance of hundreds of soldiers and Marines, they tend to take notice.  The NSA was busy with cell and satellite phone calls from the area, and Katya had listened to some of them, recognizing codes, and some of the voices as well.  All the phone calls were intentionally vague, never talking about what was being transported.  Air Force Special Operations Command had placed several surveillance Harpies (werebats at night) in the air above the origin point of some of the calls.  Most of the time, the caller led the Harpy back to a nondescript building in the Ismail Samani district, near the bazaar.  
  1466.    
  1467.     After acquiring an old building with a line of sight to Volkova's safehouse, Sibyll and some other ISA operatives set up an observation and listening post on the second floor.  They had set up surveillance equipment and monitored all the coming and going of the inhabitants.    Wilson, the intelligence sergeant with team B was poring over photographs of the men and monstergirls walking in and out, and the vehicles driving away from the building.  The building was two stories, with a door on the top floor leading to the lower floors.  No one moved through that door.  Possibly booby trapped to prevent insertion from the top floor.  The windows had iron bars to prevent rappelling through them.  An air assault was probably out of the question.  Most of the time, there was a man standing near the door, smoking and looking intimidating, with several others posted up and down the street looking for anyone who lingers too long.  Any vehicles used to rush the building would be immediately identified, and the element of surprise would be lost.  These were professionals, and it would be hard getting past these obstacles.  The sewers all were unguarded, but the manhole covers would be impossible for some of the team to fit through in their gear.  While pondering this, Babe, the Blue Oni, snaps her fingers in a Eureka moment.  
  1468.  
  1469. "Why don't we just go through the ceiling?"
  1470.  
  1471. "Could be booby trapped."
  1472.  
  1473. "We've seen regular activity on the top floor, they wouldn't booby trap a place they're working in.  They may have set the door to blow, but not the ceiling."
  1474.  
  1475. This is why she was an Engineering sergeant.  
  1476.  
  1477. "Set up a sniper team to neutralize lookouts, at night, and move in with those helicopters that DEVGRU used on the Bin Laden raid.  Blow the ceiling with breaching charges and sweep and clear.  Good thinking, Babe."  
  1478.  
  1479.     Sibyll and her team was living in this building, watching in shifts.  Call records indicated that Volkova would be driving east with a two truck shipment.  A plan was made to observe the shipment to see where it went, then set up the team for the next shipment.  When the shipment moved, Air Force had drones and a werebat following it across the length of Tajikistan.  There was an SUV at the beginning and end of the convoy, with three old Russian trucks in the center.  They pulled off the M-41 in the Pamir range, on an even smaller road, going up a grade in a switchback pattern.  The trucks stopped, then proceeded to drive into the mountainside.  Drone footage saw movement indicating a large door opening and shutting.  An hour later the trucks left, heading back down the switchbacks to the Pamir highway driving east back to Dushanbe.  The scope of the operation looks like it's changed, and it's beyond the capabilities of A and B teams.  The CO and XO, along with the rest of the team, draw up plans to enter and clear whatever's on the other side of the door.  If the trucks were carrying supplies there every week, there are a lot of people, and Monsters there.    The CO requested that the A team of XSOT 2, still untried in combat, would conduct the raid on the safehouse, while D team of XSOT 1 would conduct the convoy hit, then rendezvous with A, B, and C team near the prison entrance, using the trucks to gain entrance.  There was no intel about the floor plan, so extra care was needed to prevent a total clusterfuck.  The other 3 teams of XSOT 2 would be on standby in case back up was needed.  
  1480.  
  1481.     Katya seemed adamant about being on the vehicle hit, so you ask her about why the Volkovas wanted you dead.  "I believe they have something to do with the man Aslanbek, and it's connected to the sudden appearance of all the species from the other planet.  I do not have any real proof, but I think they set me up to take blame."
  1482.  
  1483. "So then where's Aslanbek?
  1484.  
  1485. "No sightings of him since before your crash."
  1486.  
  1487.     You furrow your brow.  There's pieces of the puzzle in front of your face, but only some of them fit together.  Your thought is interrupted when a huge purple hand lands on your shoulder, almost knocking you over.  You try not to show pain to Warforge as you turn to face her and Patrin.  You had almost forgotten all about the two eyed sniper team with all the excitement in the last couple months.  Apparently they had excelled at marksmanship in sniper school, even if it was somewhat difficult to conceal an 8 foot cyclops with purple skin and a horn.  
  1488. "Didn't think you'd make it, you big monkey."  You tell her, trying not to wince.  
  1489.  
  1490. "HA!  You fucking wish, Nielsen!  They couldn't keep me away from this op!"
  1491.  
  1492. "Too bad for us they couldn't send us a decent sniper team.  What about you, Patrin?  You ready to pop some grapes?"
  1493.  
  1494. She nods once.  Never had much of a sense of humor, you suppose.  Warforge and Patrin begin looking over satellite and Harpy photos to begin looking for suitable overwatch positions.
  1495.  
  1496. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1497.  
  1498.  
  1499. Dushanbe, Tajikistan
  1500.  
  1501.      Inge and Beth set up the overwatch on the 4th floor, two days before the op.  They pushed two tables together and set up the rifle on a bipod, along with the spotting scope.  Beth looked through the scope, her ears twitching a little.  Beth was sitting on her legs to be at the same level as the table.  It was going to be a long couple of days and no Centaur needs to stand that long.  She called out to Inge, "There's one down the street at five hundred and...twenty meters."  The Elf adjusted her aim.  "I see him."
  1502.  
  1503. "OK, the next one is on the same sidewalk.  475 meters."
  1504.  
  1505. "Alright.  I see him. "
  1506.  
  1507. "And the one at the door, 490 meters."
  1508.  
  1509. "Got him.  Now what?"
  1510.  
  1511. "We wait, I suppose.  Continue to watch them.  Gather new intel, if possible."  
  1512.  
  1513. "Hmm.  This will be a long couple of days."
  1514.  
  1515. Beth pulled out a vegetarian MRE and opened it up.  Long couple of days, indeed.
  1516.  
  1517.  
  1518.          Staff Sergeant Rodrigues sat in the helicopter, trying to avoid the stare of Staff Sergeant Kalbfleisch, who looked at him, smiling while wagging her tail.  He was going to have to either sleep with the werewolf or set her straight.  She had set her eyes on him early in training, but he had successfully avoided her advances by claiming that it was inappropriate for students and cadre to engage in intimate relationships.  After she graduated, she was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was no longer a student, but an operational soldier in XSOT-2, the same as him.  He could feel her eyes all over him, and she towered over him by about a foot.  Even though Rodrigues' excellent physical conditioning reflected his extensive training with Army Special Forces, there would be no way for him to stop a horny werewolf if she decided she was going to break off a piece of him.  He caught her eye again and he swore that she was panting at him.  It's time to put a stop to this.
  1519.  
  1520. "Hey, Kalbfleisch."
  1521.  
  1522. "Yeah?"
  1523.  
  1524. "Pull your head out of your ass.  I need you to focus on the job at hand."
  1525.  
  1526. She looked away.  "Sorry."
  1527.  
  1528. "Hey.  I need to talk to you when this op is over.  Til then, pull your nuts out."
  1529.  
  1530. She nodded once, her features hardening into a mask of determination.  This was good, she seemed ready to blow down house and kill everyone inside to get that talk with you.  Maybe it was bad, but Rodrigues wasn't sure yet.  The crew chief looked over at Master Sergeant Washington, speaking into the headset frequency.  The helicopters were nearing the target.  Washington told them as much, and everyone did last minute rechecks on gear and weapons.  Everyone had checked and rechecked back at the airfield, but it never hurts to check again.  Kalbfleisch checked her breaching charges, and that her rifle had a round in the chamber.  She was instrumental to the op, she'd be the one blowing that hole in the ceiling.  She had her gear ready to go and caught Rodrigues looking, she smiled a big grin full of sharp teeth, not malevolent at all, but still unnerving to him.  He had a bad feeling about this girl.  
  1531.  
  1532. Beth and Inge were already sitting at the table for a few hours when they got the word, peering down the scopes with the dope already dialed in since sundown. They watched and reported that the truck convoy had left an hour or two ago, three old Russian trucks and two Toyota Land Cruisers, loaded down with shooters and gear. They had been given the green light, permission to engage the three lookouts.    
  1533.  
  1534. "Wind coming from the south west at 3 knots" Beth said with her face full of spotter scope.  Inge adjusted the windage.  
  1535.  
  1536. "Fire.  Fire.  Fire." said Beth in her calmest monotone.
  1537.  
  1538. Inge gently squeezed the trigger, sending the round down range into the man's head.  From the distance, they wouldn't be able to hear the suppressed shot, and the round had no sonic boom.   Inge had already worked the bolt of the rifle, sending the casing flying across the table.  She adjusted her aim to the man at the door.  "Good hit, take the next one.  Fire. Fire.  Fire."
  1539.  
  1540. Another shot, another man slumps over, his face a bloody mask of gore.  Inge operates the bolt again, and chambers the next round. "Take the last one, Inge."   She aimed her weapon at the final lookout, who seemed like he might suspect that something was up.  He was slowly walking towards the door, but he still had about 20 meters to cover when Inge sent the round into his head, a pink mist staying in the air a split second after he dropped.  Looked like his legs gave out under him, but Beth knew.  She, with Inge pulling the trigger, had just killed 3 men.   She was shaking now.  She called it in.  
  1541.  
  1542. "Three lookouts down.  No other targets."
  1543.  
  1544. The voice on the other end told her to stay in position, and support the team making the assault.  She didn't bother telling Inge.  She had already nodded, hearing the order through Beth's ear piece.  Her ears were quite sensitive.  No one walked out of the front door, and they hadn't received any word that outgoing calls had left the building.  
  1545.  
  1546. "The team's here" said Inge, her ears twitching a little.  She was right.  The helicopters were black and angular, almost impossible to see in the dark, and had noise cancelling equipment that made them much quieter.  Quiet is still relative, but what was left of the Tajik air force hadn't detected them, so things were already going pretty well.  But that was usually when things went pear shaped.
  1547.  
  1548.      Kalbfleisch was the first down the rope, followed by Rodrigues, a short (relatively speaking) Oni named Brick, and a Werecat with pointed ears and spots affectionately named "Whiskers" by her teammate, despite the fact she didn't really have whiskers.  If she had been the one with an eye on Rodrigues, he had no doubt she wouldn't have been controlling herself as well as Kalbfleisch.  The Werewolf had already begun setting the charges before Rodrigues was on the top floor.  Everyone stood clear of her explosive set up as she detonated them, the det cord bringing down a square shaped hole in the ceiling.  All four of the team roped into the top floor to see a dazed and surprised man in a tracksuit reaching for a Krinkov AK.  Brick shot him twice with her rifle, then everyone else put two or three rounds into him before he dropped.  Four more from the team roped in, including the medic, Hartman, the Comms Sgt, "Slithers", who was coiled around the rope when she came in, Drake,  a Dragon weapons sergeant,  and a Salamander Engineering sergeant known as Fireball, not just because of her habit of drinking the foul whiskey of the same name.  Rodrigues' team had already begun moving downstairs when a man ran into their sights carrying an AK.  Rodrigues fired 4 times, and the man slumped over on the wall, leaving a trail of blood.  Rodrigues fired two more times.
  1549.  
  1550.     The other fire team was on the same floor when Rodrigues kicked the first door in.  Rodrigues went to his corner and everyone else went to theirs.  Room clear.  The other team was kicking down the only other door on the floor, and about ten rapid fire shots filled the room, and an AK barked out a magazine into the ceiling.  Rodrigues led the team down the next flight of stairs.  There were already people waiting for them.  AK fire filled the room with noise, but they weren't firing with any kind of care for where their shots went.  There wasn't any real cover in the room, so Rodrigues and Brick began to shoot into the desks that the men were hiding behind.  One stood up and Kalbfleisch got him with her shotgun.  The firing stopped and the team checked under the desks for any survivors.  Whiskers fired twice, and then there were none.  Only one door that wasn't the front door.  Rodrigues signaled for the team to stack up and fired his breach shotgun into the space between the frame and the doorknob.  He fired again and pieces of the lock and knob flew away from the frame.  He pushed open the door, to feel a familiar pressure.  There was just the slightest amount of resistance to the force of the door opening, then it disappeared.  A tripwire.  Everything went into slow motion as the spoon from a grenade flew off near his feet.  The familiar hiss of a fuze burning.  He heard himself say "Fuck" and he heard a loud pop.  He was flying now, as if the hand of God himself had picked him up and tossed him.  Darkness.  When his eyes opened, he expected to see angels and pearly gates, but was greeted with Hartman's face putting bandages on him.  
  1551.  
  1552. "You good, Rod?  Can you see me?  How many fingers am I holding up?"
  1553.  
  1554. "Three."
  1555.  
  1556. "Good.  You're lucky Kalbfleisch grabbed you when she did, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation."
  1557.  
  1558. Rodrigues looked over into the booby trapped room to see the werewolf frantically going through the desks, grabbing maps and discs.  She looked over at him and smiled, her tail wagging now.
  1559.  
  1560. "Lucky me.  How's it look, because it stings like a motherfucker."
  1561.  
  1562. "None of it's too serious, a few burns here and there, and small pieces of brick and shrapnel, but no major bleeding, you'll be fine."
  1563.  
  1564. Kalbfleisch ran over to Rodrigues' prostrate form, smiling and her tail wagging.  "I was so worried about you!  Doc had to tell me to get off of you so he could do his job!"
  1565.  
  1566. "I bet.  Is the building clear?"
  1567.  
  1568. "We've already called it in, we've got the intel, and the guys in XSOT 1 are gonna need to hear this before they hit that prison.  Get up, the helicopter's on the way."
  1569.  
  1570. Kalbfleisch extended her paw to Rodrigues, and she helped him up gently.  
  1571.  
  1572. Using her as support, Rodrigues began to limp his way up the stairs.
  1573.  
  1574.  
  1575. M-41 Highway, Tajikistan
  1576.  
  1577.      Katya sat on the bench of the Blackhawk, stewing.  She was thinking about what she was about to do.  Killing people never bothered her much, but someone she knew had it in for her, someone who had set her up to be killed, well, that would require special attention.  Would Volkova survive the initial assault?  Would Katya even get the chance to ask her questions?  Would Katya forgo questions entirely and just shoot her?  Even Katya didn't know for sure.  They had been waiting in the sky for a while, and were planning on intercepting the convoy in the next few minutes.  She checked the chamber of her rifle, again, and there was still a round in the chamber.  A voice came through her headset.  "Target in sight.  Prepare for landing."
  1578.  
  1579.      The helicopters opened their doors.  The convoy was in sight.  The helicopters swooped in in front of the convoy and behind.  Soldiers got out and began firing their weapons into the driver's seats.   The muzzle flash of multiple rifles filled the scene, as hot brass flew through the air.  The loud pops of unsuppressed gunfire filled the air around everyone as the sound of glass impacting from the rounds came right afterwards.  Men and Monstergirls alike crumpled under the continuous fire.  Some attempted to exit the vehicles, only to catch bullets to the back and drop like a sack of bricks.   The SUVs were pumped full of lead immediately, man and monster alike jerking and twitching from the impact of multiple bullets.  A man in a leather jacket leveled a Krinkov and Katya cut him down with three rounds from her Vintorez.  His legs gave out from under him, and a Salamander reached for his gun.  Katya didn't have time to ponder why she would reach for a gun, and Katya shot her as well.  Soldiers had fanned out taking out all resistance, and Katya could hear only one weapon returning fire, an AK, AK-74 from the sound of it.  A few grenades popped, and Katya ran to one side of the convoy, where fire was coming from behind a few large rocks.  A pair of black paws with an AK popped up and fired, rounds striking the truck, inches away from a fox eared soldier.  The paws popped up again, and Katya shot the wrist, forcing her to drop the rifle.  
  1580.  
  1581. "CHYORT VOZ'MI!"
  1582.  
  1583. It was Volkova, all right, no mistaking that crude voice.  Volkova popped up with her sidearm in her good paw, firing three times to get her adversaries to duck while she ran for it.  Katya fired twice, hitting her in the right knee and eliciting a yowl of pain.  Katya fired again, hitting her in the same  leg as she tried to limp away.  Volkova dropped and rolled on her back, aiming her pistol at Katya and hesitating, a look of surprise making its way through the mask of pain. She fired once, the shot going wide.  Katya had already covered the distance between them and delivered a savage kick to Volkova's paw, sending the Grach 9mm flying.  Katya stood on Volkova's wounded wrist and put pressure on it, causing her to wince and swear.  
  1584.  
  1585. Katya began to speak to her, in Russian.  
  1586.  
  1587. "Why did you set me up?  Speak now."
  1588.  
  1589. "Why?  You will kill me either way."  Volkova spat at Katya.
  1590.  
  1591. "Yes, but how much you talk dictates how I kill you."
  1592.  
  1593. "Fuck off, slut, you have a schedule.  You don't have time to do this slow."
  1594.  
  1595. "I can always shoot you in the gut, and come back tomorrow."
  1596.  
  1597. "Do it then, bitch."
  1598.  
  1599. Katya stripped Volkova of her knives, her grenades and ammo, and searched her for a backup pistol, finding it in her boot.  
  1600.  
  1601. "Can't have you taking the easy way out, can we?"
  1602.  
  1603. Volkova grimaced and it appeared as if she was getting ready to say something when three rounds slammed into her midsection.  Volkova screamed out in pain, blood pooling underneath her and soaking the front of her uniform.  
  1604.  
  1605. "If only you talked, you could have died quickly.  Like your sister did."
  1606.  
  1607. Volkova let out a bestial howl, stopped by a violent cough that sprayed blood into the air.  Katya began to walk back to the convoy while Volkova screamed and howled, where the other soldiers of C team were clearing the bodies and looking in the back of the trucks.  A dragon tore the top off of a crate.  AKM rifles in a row.  They were arming themselves.  There were also boxes of grenades, and strangely, gas masks.  Katya walked to one of the trucks where a shivering werecat sat, her small stature had prevented her death.  She was sobbing, and Katya pulled the body of a dead Hornet girl out of the passenger seat, unceremoniously dumping her on the side of the road.  Katya sat down next to the werecat.
  1608.  
  1609. "Hands on the wheel, kitten, or what happened to her happens to you."
  1610.  
  1611. She nods silently, still crying and puts her hands at the 10 and 2 positions.
  1612.  
  1613. "You will continue the drive to the prison.  You will act naturally, and you will get us into the prison.  If you signal them, I will know, and you will die.  Do you understand me?"
  1614.  
  1615. She nods again.
  1616.  
  1617. "Good!"  Katya allowed herself a small smile.  "Be happy, little cat.  Not everyone gets to live."  Katya looked out the window and got a thumbs up from a Lizardman Staff Sergeant after the bullet riddled SUVs were pushed off the road.  "Now drive.  And be careful, the road is treacherous."
  1618.  
  1619.  
  1620. The werecat restarted the stalled truck and put it into gear, and it lurched forward.  Katya got on her radio and called Red, telling him about what they found in the back of the trucks along with the food.  He confirmed, but didn't sound troubled. The trucks all started moving again, resuming it's trek to the prison, where Red and the rest of XSOT 1 was waiting.
  1621.  
  1622.    
  1623.                                     Red
  1624.  
  1625.     You waited for two hours, observing the front entrance.  There was a Lamia and a Wurm posted at the door, just waiting for the convoy's arrival.  They both were carrying AKMs, probably old surplus by the looks of it.  The Wurm had hers over her shoulder like some redneck with a shotgun.  The news that they were arming themselves wasn't as troubling as the last minute intel from ISA that suggested that some type of biological weapons were in the facility, unknown and previously unheard of, which was confirmed by XSOT 2's intel from the safehouse raid.  A few days in MOPP suits had everyone cranky and ready to get this done with.  You updated all the soldiers in the unit about them having weapons.  All the women in the unit exchanged nervous glances.  "What are you worried about?  A gun doesn't make you a soldier.  They're just amateurs with guns.  All of your training before now has been against armed targets.  Just use cover effectively and be faster than them.  Expect them to break cover, dump an entire magazine and wonder where all the bullets went.  It'll be easier than before, if anything."
  1626.  
  1627. A voice came over the radio telling the team that the trucks were approaching.
  1628.  
  1629.     Patrin and Warforge had been laying in the same spot for a few days now, and were more than a little anxious about their first op.  They were about 700 meters from the door, watching over the guard changes.  With the call that the convoy was approaching, they shifted almost imperceptibly.  Patrin stared through her spotting scope and Warforge looked through the scope of her customized Barrett .50 Anti Materiel rifle.  The suppressor wouldn't make the rifle completely silent, but at 700 meters, it wouldn't make much difference.  Patrin and Warforge heard Anders come over the comms.
  1630.  
  1631. "Leela, Grape-Ape, you have eyes on the convoy?"
  1632.  
  1633. Patrin rolled her eye.  She didn't much care for the nickname after seeing Futurama for the first time.  "I see it."
  1634.  
  1635. The convoy was snaking it's way up the switchbacks.
  1636.  
  1637. "Be ready to pop those two guards."
  1638.  
  1639. "Roger.  Scrambled eggs comin' up."  Patrin continued to look into the spotting scope.  "Wind at 7 knots, North-Northeast."
  1640.  
  1641. Warforge adjusted the windage on her scope.  
  1642.  
  1643. "You have authorization to take them down.  Give 'em their free haircuts."
  1644.  
  1645. "Roger."  Patrin steeled herself for this.  This is what she'd been training for.  "Take the Lamia first.  Fire."
  1646.  
  1647. "Firing."  Warforge squeezed the trigger, her large purple index finger applying a few pounds of pressure to the trigger.  A loud crack filled the air and a little more than a second later the round smashed into the Lamia's head, sending blood and brain matter all over the ground behind her.  The Wurm was looking the other way and jumped at the sound of the impact.  She turned around to see her other sentry lying in a heap covered in blood, but didn't have enough time to register it.  Warforge had already adjusted her aim and had sent the second round, and soon the Wurm had her strong skull fractured and crushed by a 671 grain round.
  1648.  
  1649. "Two megs down.  Good shooting, Grape Ape."
  1650.  
  1651. The trucks were pulling up at that point, and you led your team to follow the trucks.  The others on the teams were right behind.  
  1652.  
  1653. "Masks up."
  1654.  
  1655.     Everyone, including the soldiers in the trucks, put on their M50 gas masks, some customized for bigger faces.  The terrified werecat in the front truck spoke into the intercom, trying to keep her voice from breaking.  The doors began to open, slowly, and Katya handcuffed the werecat to the steering wheel and took the keys.  She spoke through her mask communicator, "Stay here, kitten.  We will be back for you."  The men and women of the teams began to swarm inside, peeling off from each other like a rope uncoiling itself, the strands spreading through the vehicle bay.  Gunfire cracked through the bay, and different monsters crumpled under the now dead weight of their bodies.  Only one got a shot off with her newly acquired AKM, and it went into the ceiling.  Total initial surprise had been achieved, but they were armed this time, and the surprise wouldn't last forever.
  1656.  
  1657.     Your squad was the first to move through to a long hallway.  Spots was on point when the door opened and a Hornet girl stood in the door way with her rifle at her hip.  She hesitated and Spots fired 4 rounds into center mass, causing the hornet to slump over on the wall.  You and everyone else step over her into the main cell block.  You try not to gawk at the size of it, as it is much larger than the facility in Sudan.  Monster girls with AKs are standing out of cover, and soon bullets are flying in both directions.  You aim your rifle and find a woman with pig ears who's aiming in your direction.  She never got off a round.   Men were yelling from the cells and the view from inside the mask was claustrophobic.  If you had time to consider this situation, you'd think it was the most surreal thing you could have ever imagined.  The teams spread out, staying away from the cell doors.  
  1658.  
  1659. "Up the stairs!"
  1660.  
  1661.     Spots takes point up the stairs and a Minotaur at the top fumbles with a rifle that's too small for her.  Spots and Esses drill her with about 15 rounds apiece and reload while the Minotaur tumbles over the rail and falls to the stone floor 15 feet below.  Big Red and Minnie remained on the bottom floor laying down heavy fire at a bluish insect girl and an Ushi Oni rushes the pair, swinging her massive clawed hand at Big Red, who missed the brunt of the paw, but still caught the edge of the claw to her face.  She swore loudly and dropped her .50 cal while Minnie swung the burning hot barrels of her minigun into the Ushi Oni's side, causing her to scream in pain.  The Ushi Oni wheeled around and faced Minnie, smiling a wicked grin and laughing.  Minnie planted a huge hoof into the Ushi Oni's chest, causing her to stumble, and Big Red jumped on her back and swung her huge Bowie knife at her head, making a sickening crack.  The hulking Red Oni draws her sidearm and dumps all 15 rounds into the Ushi's head to make sure.  She picked up her Machine gun and the two advanced.  On the second level Spots leads the way to the end, while you, Esses and Anders fire at targets on the lower level.  The last meg fell at the end of the cell block and Spots lead the squad down the stairs at the far end.
  1662.  
  1663.     They stacked up at the doors leading to the next room.  You look at Spots and say "Breach and flash 'em."  She nods once and points her breach shotgun at the door hinges, firing three times into the door and kicking it in, throwing a flashbang grenade into the room.  After a loud BOOM, the squad pours in.  It's the cafeteria, and the monsters are waiting behind tables with rifles.  Rifle rounds smack into the door frame and everyone finds cover.  The next squad comes in with Babe in the front, firing 40mm grenades from her Multiple Grenade Launcher, sending the megs scrambling out of cover in panic, to be cut down by rifle fire and Minnie's Minigun.  A lamia with four arms appeared at the far end of the cafeteria and began to throw grenades with each arm, showering you and everyone else with them.  Anders kicked one back, threw another and picked up a third, which exploded a few feet away from her after she threw it, shredding her red furred paw while she swore.  Another grenade went off with a muffled thump, and you hear Spots say weakly, "Doc."
  1664.  
  1665. Spots lays a few feet from you as Patterson runs over to her.  The four armed Lamia was killed by Big Red's .50 a split second later.  Spots had jumped on the last grenade, destroying her body armor and tearing her torso open.  The fire continues unabated as Monsters with AKs shoot wildly and soldiers fire three shots or less at a time.  You kneel down at Spots' side and ask her "Why'd you do it?"
  1666.  
  1667. "I fumbled it.  Couldn't throw it in time.  Is everyone OK?"
  1668.  
  1669. "Yeah, Anders is dinged up, but she'll be fine"
  1670.  
  1671. Spots smiles and says, "Good."  That's all she says, and her eyes stare into nothing.  You fight back tears and tell Patterson to see to Anders.  You lift up her gas mask and close her eyes for her and notice the firing's stopped.  The cafeteria's been cleared, and Anders is telling Patterson to not bother, as she's already got a tourniquet around her mangled paw.  Anders draws her sidearm and you tell her to stand down.  "Head back to the entrance, should be medics there by now, we'll keep going."  Anders looks at you, almost hurt by the suggestion that she can't finish the job and reluctantly nods.  You turn to Spots' body and take some magazines that were undamaged by the grenade.  You and what's left of your squad regroup, and move to the doors at the end of the cafeteria, which are already being breached by other squads.  Katya falls in behind you and you move into the labyrinthine hallways of the prison.  All the rooms are being cleared now, gunfire and grenades go off, and you hear "CLEAR" over the din.  You stack up on a white door with the words "SICK BAY" in block letters and kick it in, not throwing a grenade in because of the possibility of the presence of wounded.  There are no megs inside, but two men in beds, wearing casts, and one wrapped up in a huge spider web, and his dick was hanging out, it looked like it hurt.  
  1672.  
  1673. "S-she left as soon as she heard the shooting."  The man in the web looked like the other two men here, haggard and gaunt, with a scraggly beard and his left leg looked like it had had a bad break.  
  1674.  
  1675. "Who?"
  1676.  
  1677. "Her."  He obviously wasn't in the right state of mind, with that erection.
  1678.  
  1679. "Where'd she go?  What's your name?"
  1680.  
  1681. "I don't know where she went."
  1682.  
  1683. "What's your name?  What unit you with, soldier?"
  1684.  
  1685. With the word "soldier" his eyes lit up a little.  He was remembering.
  1686.  
  1687. "Specialist Joseph Daniels, A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers, U.S. Army."
  1688.  
  1689. "We're gonna get you out of here, Ranger.  Hooah?"
  1690.  
  1691. "Hooah."  It looked like he was crying.  
  1692.  
  1693. "Did she go through that door?"  You pointed to the door at the far end of the sick bay.  He shook his head no.  You still need to clear it.  The room has medical supplies, but that's not what catches your eyes.  It's the three web cocoons in the corner, each roughly the size of a man, and the open freezer door.  Inside the chiller are more cocoons, some larger than others, as if they'd been sucked dry.  Once you realize what they are, you lift up your mask and throw up the Chili Mac MRE you ate last.  You wipe your mouth and pull your mask down over your face again.  You turn back to Daniels.  If he knew what was happening here, he wouldn't want to talk about it now anyway.  You cut him down from his web and tell him to wait for the medics.  
  1694.  
  1695.     After you leave from the room, you hear a loud explosion.  You and the squad move to the source of the sound and see Babe and her squad running through a hole in the wall, next to a huge steel door.  You hear a woman scream "FUCK YOU!" before being drowned out by shotgun and rifle fire.  You follow them in to see a blue skinned succubus in a pool of dark bluish/black blood, wearing what was left of what appeared to be a Nazi uniform.  There were two smaller succubi cowering in the corner, they had horns, tails and wings, but not blue skin, and they were claiming to be Army Rangers.  They were pushed down on the floor and handcuffed.  There were a series of buttons under the succubus' desk, and one said "For the Troublemakers".  You press it and a secret door opens in the wall, with a stone staircase leads downwards.  The flashlights came on underneath the M4s and shotguns as you make your way downstairs.  The stairs end and you see something move in your peripheral vision.  On instinct you duck, and a shovel hits the stone wall next to you.  A loud, shrill screech fills the air and Katya unloads a magazine into an insect monster girl who swung at you.  Her six legs drop from under her and you shine your light on her face.  She looks like an ant of some kind, and her eyes and mouth have white dust caking the edges, and a small mushroom cap is coming out of her ear.  You pick yourself up and exchange a worried look with Katya.  You continue to move into the huge chamber, and your lights fall on a number of Ant women wielding shovels and pickaxes.  
  1696.  
  1697.     "STROBES!" you shout, and everyone hits their lights to strobe function, blinding and disorienting the Ant monsters.  The following minute of firing is chaotic, muzzle flashes filling the chamber, the silence between shots punctuated by changing magazines and hot brass hitting the stone floor.  When the shooting stops, at least twenty bodies lay on the floor in front of you.  The flashlights go back to the solid beams of light playing across the stone, searching for targets.  You motion for the search to continue, and tiptoe through the bodies.  You turn a corner and see a row of men in gray prison uniforms sitting against a wall, none of them react to having lights shone on them.  A few small girls are standing nearby, but they aren't girls.  Their feet are fused to some wet cracks in the floor, and they appear to be wearing red hats.  No, not hats, caps.  They giggle and sway, seemingly oblivious to the cacophony of gunfire that took place a minute ago.  You slowly get closer, and realize that they appear to be some kind of sentient mushroom.  You and the rest shine lights on the men, who stare into the void.  White spores line the outsides of their eyes and noses, and a few have small mushroom caps coming from an ear or both, just like the ant girls.   You recognize a few familiar faces, one you've only seen in pictures, and one that you haven't seen in more than a year.  Aslanbek looks similar to his picture, except his beard is longer now, and covered in spores.  Weasel doesn't have the same spark in his eyes, or anything in his eyes.  Weasel coughs, and a cloud of white spores puff out.  You start to think that maybe you should find another line of work while trying not to cry.  You just want to sit down, but being near what used to be your best friend probably isn't the best course of action.  You motion to the team to keep moving.
  1698.  
  1699.                                     Part 3
  1700.  
  1701.                                     Joe
  1702.  
  1703.     The phone rings.  You let it.  It's the third time this hour.  Your mind retreats back to the prison, like it does every day.  Medics wheeled you out, and your wheelchair pulled up to Adams.  He was asking, pleading with the medic to see Liz, just for one last time.  He frantically described her as a big mean rattlesnake, perhaps using a few too many details.  The medic wheeled him over to a big snake clutching a rifle in a death grip, with at least a dozen bullet wounds marking her torso and snake half.  Adams, with tears in his eyes, spat on her corpse.  
  1704.  
  1705. "Cunt."
  1706.  
  1707. "You alright, man?"
  1708.  
  1709. "No.  Probably not ever again.  I'd have kicked the bitch, but, well, you know."
  1710.  
  1711. "Yeah.  Guess we're going home."
  1712.  
  1713. "What's home?"
  1714.  
  1715.      You didn't have an answer, so you just looked away.  You, Adams, and others are lead out in stretchers and wheelchairs, passing the bodies of their tormentors and violators.  There's one you don't see, and in the back of your mind, you know.  Ana got away.  The thought of her on the loose raises the hairs on the back of your neck.  You're wheeled into the vehicle bay, where the dawn is beginning to poke up over the horizon.  You never thought you'd see the sun again, but there it is.  Outside the doors is a swarm of activity, a fleet of Blackhawks spinning their rotors at the bottom of the switchback roads, being loaded with wounded.  You and Adams waited your turn as the sun rose, blinding the both of you.  It had been almost two years since either of you had seen the sun.  The flight back to Afghanistan was spent in silence, and the next time you said a word was at the debriefing in the hospital at Bagram.  You painfully relived all of you memories for Army and Central Intelligence and were allowed to sleep.  
  1716.  
  1717.      The hard part hadn't even started yet.  The next day you were shivering and shaking from withdrawals, and no one knew how to treat a venom withdrawal, so the doctors gave you sedatives to put you back to sleep.  Adams seemed to be going through similar withdrawals, and both of you, along with the other venom junkies all had to be sedated on the flight to the Army hospital at Landstuhl.  The media was kept at bay from the hospital, no interviews allowed, so they used old footage from some of the leaked "proof of life" videos, censored them, and told viewers that it was graphic.  Not that you were keeping up with the news at that point, you had your own problems to deal with.  It had taken months to come off of the venom, you even had to be drugged for when some General pinned a shiny Bronze Star on you to go with your POW Medal and your Purple Heart.  You were told later that the General was the Chief of Staff, but you couldn't make out rank or faces while doped up, all you saw were stars.  Adams had it worse than you, and more than once you heard him waking up screaming.  There are some things that a Silver Star can't fix, and Adams had it bad.  His withdrawal symptoms seemed worse than yours, but it's hard to tell when you were shaking so hard you can't keep the shitty hospital food on your fork.  Another side effect of the venom was that you couldn't seem to get an erection.  Not even in the morning, when your manhood would normally stand proud, there was nothing now.  Porn, or thinking about your girlfriend, Tammy, that you hadn't seen since before deploying, did nothing.  You didn't want to consider thinking about Ana, but trying not to think about her only made you think about her more. The doctors and psychiatrists could only do so much, but the Army had little use for you anymore, and gave you full disability and a medical retirement for your trouble.  That's the thing about the government.  They use you until you're broken, then they hand you a few medals and some discharge papers.  Thanks for your service, chump.  
  1718.  
  1719.      Your parents didn't have much they could tell you to help.  Your mom didn't want you to join the Army in the first place, and Dad's experiences in Panama didn't have many parallels with being kidnapped and raped every day for almost two years.  Tammy didn't want to talk to you anymore, saying that she couldn't look at you the same way now.  Not that you blamed her.  Mom kept referring to it as "the accident" as if being kidnapped by a hitherto unknown species and used as a plaything for hours at a time was akin to a fender bender or stubbing your toe.  There was a lot of thinly veiled "I told you so's" at Thanksgiving, and you just wanted to get the fuck out of there.  You found yourself wondering how much alcohol it would take to drink yourself to sleep when you decided it wasn't even worth the trouble.  After Thanksgiving, you packed a few of your things and started driving.  You would find yourself in cheap motels or just sleeping off your drunk in the back of your car.  Your parents called, and your only response was to change your answering machine message on your phone to tell them you needed time to yourself.  You had plenty of back pay, and your retirement and disability pay could keep you alive, or drunk at least.   The drinking could keep your feelings of unease at bay, but you would inevitably become depressed the more you drank.  Every day you were reminded that she was still out there, somewhere.  You would see almost no monsters in small towns, but in larger cities usually you'd see a few, and have to suppress a panic attack.  After an elf winked at you in Oklahoma City, you made an internal decision to avoid cities.  
  1720.  
  1721.      The constant travel had no reason other than to keep you from being in one place for too long.  But even that wasn't enough to ease your mind.  You were constantly looking over your shoulder for her, you wouldn't think it was possible for an eight foot spider to be able to sneak up on you, but you knew how quiet she could be.  She was wanted, which meant she was still evading capture.  Was she still in the mountains of Tajikistan, or had she returned to civilization to hide in plain sight?  She told you more than once that the two of you would be together forever.  Your last memory of Ana was her kissing you deeply, telling you that the two of you would be together again one day.  No amount of whiskey was able to suppress that memory.  It was the nightmare you had the most.  You woke up from it in a Motel 6 today to see a spider crawling on the ceiling.  It was big enough to scare the shit out of you, but the end result was vomiting last night's Jim Beam all over the floor.  You tried to collect yourself, but the memories were wounds reopened by the sight of the spider.  Sweat pours from your every pore.  Is it fear?  Or just the whiskey?  Even the memories of being in the Army were more pleasant than those months in prison.   You grab your 9mm and clear the room, out of habit.  Dig your corners.  Don't ride your sights.  Stay out of the fatal funnel.  All of the things you think you could've done to stop this.  You could've kept Adams from getting paralyzed, somehow.  You could've stopped Ana from wrapping up all those inmates.  Your words could've stopped her, if you had known.  It wouldn't matter at all soon, but the phone starts ringing.  The phone kept ringing through the hour.  You finally take your pistol out of your mouth and pick up the phone, if only to kill yourself in peace.  
  1722.  
  1723. "Sup, mothafucka!  Why didn't you pick up?  Were you jerkin' it?"  A familiar voice.  
  1724.  
  1725. "What's up, Adams."  You set the CZ-75 down on the cheap nightstand next to the bed.  
  1726.  
  1727. "Don't call me that.  I'm not in the Army anymore, I'm a real human now."
  1728.  
  1729. "Right, how were the holidays, Calvin?"
  1730.  
  1731. "Could've been better.  How's the family up in Illinois?"
  1732.  
  1733. "Passive aggressive."
  1734.  
  1735. "Yeah, mine keep treating me like I'm a baby.  Everyone is walking on eggshells trying not to offend me.  It's sickening."
  1736.  
  1737. "Yeah, I hear you."
  1738.  
  1739. "Listen man, how you holding up?"
  1740.  
  1741. "Alright."    
  1742.  
  1743. "No, you're not."
  1744.  
  1745. There was silence.  He saw right through you, even over the phone.  
  1746.  
  1747. "I think I have an idea why you didn't answer the phone.  It could've just been you in the shower, but if it was what it could be, you need to get it together.  Some of those guys didn't come back, and a lot of others will never leave the VA hospitals.  If you want to check out early, think of all the guys you'd be doing a disservice to."
  1748.  
  1749. The silence over the line lasted a little too long, and Calvin asked if you were still there.  You say yes, wiping the tears and sweat from your face.  
  1750.  
  1751. "Hey, you should come down to Austin sometime.  We can hang out like we used to."
  1752.  
  1753. "We spent almost two years sharing a cell.  You sure you aren't sick of me?"
  1754.  
  1755. "Nah, that prison didn't have any booze.  Come on, man, come down to Austin."
  1756.  
  1757. A big city.  Not only that, but a city that was a little more accepting of extra species.  One of the largest door portals in the US was in Central Texas, and many ended up in Austin after they were judged non violent and sane.  
  1758.  
  1759. "I don't know man, I'm not really comfortable around that many...people."
  1760.  
  1761. "Dude, they're all safe.  Well, most of them.  Just get a taser, you'll be fine."
  1762.  
  1763. "How can you even live in the same city as them?"
  1764.  
  1765. "Well, one, I've always lived here, and two, as soon as I tell a human woman what happened to me, they want nothing to do with me.  Only girls with tails and paws and shit are still into me.  Besides, the pussy game unbelievable."
  1766.  
  1767. You start to laugh.  Calvin starts to laugh too.  It soon becomes uncontrollable, the both of you laughing so hard that you can feel tears coming.  When it dies down, you wipe your red face and hear him say, "Come on Joe, I'm worrying about you.  Not like you want to stay home in Illinois."
  1768.  
  1769. "Yeah.  Listen man, I'm gonna pack and start driving south."
  1770.  
  1771. "Fuck yeah, man, I'll text you my address."
  1772.  
  1773. You said your goodbyes, and started to pick up your things.  You looked down at the loaded pistol and cleaned off the slide where it was in your mouth, and put it back in its case.
  1774.  
  1775. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1776.                                     Red
  1777.    
  1778.     You sit in the reception area, wearing your only suit.  After 8 years of wearing only uniforms or casual civilian clothes, the prospect of putting a tie on but not obsessively checking your ribbons and beret was a foreign feeling.  It felt as if something was missing.  Shiny brass buttons and parachute wings, patches of rank and unit, all absent from the uniform of office drones.  Not that you were one of those guys who liked wearing Class As and dress uniforms all the time, they were still familiar to you.  Even worse was the fact that there was no weight of equipment on your back, no rifle in your hands.  But this is the future you chose for yourself.  One of the things drilled into your head was that in your business, there is no luck, only skill and reflexes.  But ever since finding Weasel in that damp cave coughing up clouds of white spores, you couldn't shake the feeling that you were only around because of your good luck.  The exact moment you were about to be raped and turned into a plaything by a spine tailed manticore was when Katya took the shot.  It could just as easily been you sitting in the dark, waiting for your turn to stick your dick in a mushroom.  Even if every other thing that happened as a result of your skill and the skill of your teammates, it was only luck that you were still here and Weasel wasn't.
  1779.  
  1780. "Mr. Nielsen, sir?" A woman who might have looked strange anywhere else was absolutely common here, and nothing new to you, was speaking to you.  She had orange pointed ears on top of her head and she beamed a big bright smile.  She was wearing a white blouse as she sat at her desk.
  1781.  
  1782. "Yes?"
  1783.  
  1784. "Ms. Hammarström will see you now."
  1785.  
  1786. "Oh, I guess I didn't hear the intercom go off."
  1787.  
  1788. "Oh?  I don't really need one with her, I can hear her from her office."  She gestured with an orange and white paw at her large ears.  She continued smiling and you could see the motion of a small tail wagging as you walked by her desk.
  1789.  
  1790. "Ah, gotcha."
  1791.  
  1792. "Good luck!"
  1793.  
  1794.     You'd need it, you can't even remember the last time you had a job interview.  You open the door to a large office with a window view and a wooden desk in front of a bookcase with weapons and framed photos on the shelves.  There was a chair sitting on the other side of the desk, facing the bookcases.  There didn't appear to be anyone sitting at the desk.  Already something was fishy.  You take a few steps inside.  Only one discernible egress point, two wall outlets, and windows overlooking the Colorado river and downtown.  Your eyes narrowed and you felt an almost imperceptible change in the air around you and the door shut behind you.  Without thinking you stepped to your left and saw a gray sleeved arm coming down to your right.  Before it could connect with your shoulder, you grab it, plant your feet, and throw a fast moving gray mass over your shoulder.  The mass is surprisingly light and hits the floor with a thud.  Looking up at you was a face only described as beautiful, but the effect was marred by a long, ugly scar going up the left side of her face, missing her eye by less than an inch.  A mess of dark black hair was splayed out around her head, and long, pointed ears jutted out from the hair.  She wore a grey suit with a knee length skirt.  
  1795.  
  1796. "Impressive.  Most humans only make it through the door and get the air choked out of them."
  1797.  
  1798. "Is this how you look for new employees?  By trying to kill them?"
  1799.  
  1800. "Of course not, I just need to see who is capable.  Mr. Nielsen, I'm Elise Hammarström, Director of Operations."
  1801.  
  1802. You cautiously extend a hand to help her up.  She takes your hand, but to shake it, not pick herself up with.  She stands up and dusts herself off, fixing her hair a bit and walking to her desk.  
  1803.  
  1804. "Please, take a seat."
  1805.  
  1806. You look at the seat for any signs of a trap and sit.  
  1807.  
  1808. "Right then, I've reviewed your resume, looked through every part of your record that isn't still sensitive information and tested your reflexes.  You have no criminal record and your tests show no sign of mental instability.  My only real question is why would you come to Executive Defense for work and NOT want to do field work?  Seems to me like you'd be wasted sitting in Ops staring at screens and directing support."
  1809.  
  1810. A valid question.  Even if you had been saved by luck once, you were still good at what you did.  Why wouldn't you want to keep working the only way you knew how?
  1811.  
  1812. "Had to get out while I was still ahead.  Maybe before it didn't much matter to me if I got killed or blown up, but it does now."
  1813.  
  1814. Hammarström smiled, and, perhaps unconsciously, brought her hand to her scar.  
  1815.  
  1816. "I can definitely see your point, Mr. Nielsen.  It's good for someone to know that they've pushed it as far as they can.  But at the same time, I feel bad that I can't convince you to go into field work with us."
  1817.  
  1818. "I'd like to work for this company, but not out in the field."
  1819.  
  1820.     She stood up from her desk.  "Come with me, I'll show you where you'll be working."  She walked out of her office and you followed her past the receptionist's desk where the receptionist gave you a double thumbs up (you weren't entirely sure she had thumbs on her paws) and into a door on the other side of the lobby.  A hallway led to a large, gunmetal gray security door with the words "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" written on it in red block letters.  A keypad was on the wall next to the reinforced door frame.  Hammarström keyed in a few numbers and the door buzzed.  She opened it to another security station, this time with an armed Blue Oni guard and a man in the same uniform.  Hammarström said a polite hello to them and you noticed the man wasn't carrying a weapon.  He saw you looking and said "I plan on standing behind her," while jerking a thumb in the towering Oni's direction.  The Oni snorted and chuckled.  Hammarström looked into a retinal scanner and the next door opened, revealing a state of the art Operations center manned by all manner of people, men, human women and extra species women.  Screens and maps blinked with lights, indicating teams working, intel assets, potential wanted fugitives, and hot spots around the world.  Indonesia, India, the Mediterranean, Central America and Equatorial Africa seemed to be the biggest problem areas.  
  1821.  
  1822. "This is your new office," the elf said, gesturing to the entire Ops center.  "I'll have you working with Hopalong", gesturing towards a woman with rabbit ears and big rabbit legs.  She looked over, annoyed.  
  1823.  
  1824. "Thought I told you not call me that, Hammerstorm," she said, intentionally mispronouncing her name.
  1825.  
  1826. She extended her hand and you shook it.  
  1827.  
  1828. "Erik Nielsen,but you can call me Red."
  1829.  
  1830. "Cassie." You noticed she had a baby carrot in her other hand, which she tapped against her console.  "They don't let me smoke in here."
  1831.  
  1832. Next to her a smaller woman with gray hair and large round mouse ears dozed off with a coffee mug in her hand, speaking into a headset specially made for her.  She didn't seem to be having any difficulty keeping up the chatter.
  1833.  
  1834. "Here you will direct teams and formulate plans with them.  You, along with Cassie, will be the "Eye in the sky", so to speak, for Team Green Rock, currently in Guatemala on the trail of an escaped war criminal from the conflicts in Brazil."
  1835.  
  1836. Cassie handed you a file and picked up where Hammarström left off.  
  1837.  
  1838. "An Amazon known as Big Sister was known for her sadistic tendencies, particularly when underaged boys were concerned.  Once the South American Union got their shit together and went on the hunt for Amazon villages and camps in the jungle, they started to realize the exact scope of what these crazies were into, and what they were capable of."  A picture in the file showed an uncovered grave with 10 skeletons in the ground, many with shattered ribs, arms, legs and pelvises.  Most had fractured skulls, presumably the killing blow.  The picture in the file of the target was grainy, but compared to the small Volkswagen she was pulling a man out of, she looked positively humongous.  Estimated height, around 7 and a half feet, weighing possibly 500 lbs.  Cassie handed you another file, Team Green Rock's profiles, all former special operations, Australian SASr, a Royal Marine Commando, JTF-2, a German KSK operative, a Critical Skills Operator from MARSOC Raiders, and a South African Special Task Force Soldier.  About half were human, the Royal Marine was a Lizardman, the German was an elf, and the Australian was an Arachne.  
  1839.  
  1840. "Big Sister's been one step ahead of Green Rock for a while, but they've been stepping up the pressure, trying to make her fuck up.  They should be closing in on her in the next hour if she doesn't find out they're coming.  The reason she's evaded the authorities for so long is that she's very good at disappearing, and even better at fucking people up."  
  1841.  
  1842. "Any aerial assets?"
  1843.  
  1844. "Drone on station."  She points to a screen in front of her console.  "Feed's right there."
  1845.  
  1846.     The feed showed infrared black and white, two figures lying on the jungle floor, one much smaller than the other.  Cassie explained that the small one was probably a local village boy.  The camera adjusted to show Green Rock slowly making their way through the brush, avoiding any traps that may have been set.  You watch as they slowly began to close in, with three teammates on one side, and three on another, forming an L shape.  Cassie was speaking to them through a headset.  
  1847.  
  1848. "...She's got a squeaktoy with her, make sure you don't ding the kid up.  Get her in alive if you can, if not, Brazil will still pay for the body."
  1849.  
  1850. She was tapping her carrot stick against the keyboard area faster now, only stopping to put it in her mouth and take a bite.  
  1851.  
  1852. "Alright, Green Rock, do what you need to do."
  1853.  
  1854.     The FLIR images lit up with flash bang grenades going off, and Green Rock was pointing pistols of some kind at Big Sister while she struggled to get up and fight back.  Little puffs of gas could be seen coming from the barrels, and you saw small shapes now sticking out of the huge Amazon.  Tranquilizers of some kind.  There were a lot in her, way too many for a human to handle.  Big Sister staggered towards a line of her assailants and took a few steps before dropping to the jungle floor.  Cassie switched frequency to call for the evac chopper, explaining there would be medical attention required for the kid.  Ten minutes later, the helicopter was picking them all up at a nearby clearing.  
  1855.  
  1856. "She's wanted in 6 countries, and we finally got her."  Cassie looked up from her screen to look at you. "Obviously, not every day is going to be this exciting, but the money's good, and intel and ops work is just as necessary as the guys on the ground."
  1857.  
  1858. Exciting perhaps wasn't the word you'd use to describe this, but you supposed there would be little chance of getting your head blown off here.  You told Hammarström you'd like to keep working here, and stepped outside to call Katya to tell her you got the job.
  1859.  
  1860. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1861.  
  1862.  
  1863.                                     Joe
  1864.  
  1865.     The drive down to Texas started to get warmer, and everywhere you stopped, you started to see more monstergirls.  After crossing the Red River, a Lamia flicked her forked tongue at you in Gainesville at a gas station.  In Waco, a short, red haired girl with dark horns and wings waved to you as you sat in a Whataburger, and giggled when you immediately looked down at your burger.  You weren't sure if you'd be able to go the rest of the way there, but where else could you go?  Your family would just give you more shit, and Ad- Calvin was one of two people you knew from your unit who wasn't a complete basket case.  It was either live alone, or live with your best friend, and you had to be willing to at least accept that these women were going to eye you up every chance they got.  The ginger alp asked you if you were ok, and you stood up from where you had been puking to tell her that it must have been some bad gas station food from earlier.  You thanked her for her concern, and got back in your car, careful not to drive over the vomit in the parking lot.  You checked your mirror and saw that the alp was still waving to you as you left.  
  1866.  
  1867.     Around Round Rock, you called Calvin to tell him that you were getting closer to Austin, and he told you he'd have a cold one waiting for you.  You told him that you'd need it.  A while later you were exiting off of 35 into Austin proper, and the first thing you noticed was how many monstergirls there were everywhere.  Tulsa had a few, and you'd see one here and there on the trip, but Austin was crawling with them, in some cases literally.  You stopped suddenly to keep your car from running over a Wurm's long tail as she crossed the street.  You were pushing your head into the steering wheel before you realized the car behind you was honking.  You kept moving through Austin's streets, seeing more of them, a Harpy here, a Werecat there.  You found Calvin's apartment and parked next to his pickup truck.  An apartment door opened and Calvin was sitting there in his wheelchair, holding two beers.  He tossed you one, and you caught it.  The beer opened with a crack and you took a swig of the Shiner he had tossed to you.
  1868.  
  1869. "Come in, you shady motherfucker.  We gotta plan for tonight."
  1870.  
  1871. "Good to see you too, asshole."
  1872.  
  1873. "Haha Yeah, what's up, brother?"  He extended his arms out for a hug, and you slowly lean down to put an arm around his shoulder.
  1874.  
  1875. "Damn, man, is your leg fucked up or something?  You should get that looked at."
  1876.  
  1877. "Very funny, motherfucker."
  1878.  
  1879. "Just pullin' your chain, Joe.  Lucky for me you chain is low enough for me to reach."
  1880.  
  1881. "Didn't your mom tell you not to just go for the low hanging fruit?"
  1882.  
  1883. "No, she told me to go for whatever would let me."
  1884.  
  1885. "That explains you fucking your cousin back in high school."
  1886.  
  1887. "That was all good, no blood relation.  Wouldn't have told you that story if she was blood related."
  1888.  
  1889. "Yeah, but you would have fucked her either way, huh?"
  1890.  
  1891. Calvin smiled wryly and brought his beer to his lips.  "Come on in, man.  Good to see you made it."
  1892.  
  1893. "Well, once you get on 35, it's pretty much a straight shot."
  1894.  
  1895. "That's not what I mean."  His face was serious now.  "I know how difficult it must be to see this many of them in one place."
  1896.  
  1897. "Right, that.  Almost hit a Wurm with my car a couple blocks away."
  1898.  
  1899. "Probably wouldn't have felt much, but the front end of your car would be trashed.  Does your insurance cover that?"  He was  wheeling himself in his apartment and you followed him in.  
  1900.  
  1901. "You ready to get fucked up tonight?"
  1902.  
  1903. You were, in fact, you informed Calvin you were always ready.
  1904.  
  1905. "That's good, because I'm betting you haven't gotten any ass for a while."
  1906.  
  1907. "I've had my fill, honestly."
  1908.  
  1909. "Well, after enough beers, you should be good to go, so drink up."
  1910.  
  1911. You felt that this line of logic had to have a flaw in it somewhere, but you were too tired from driving to think of it, so you drank some beer.  
  1912.  
  1913. "Alright, Joe, keep pregaming, because I've already been at it for a while, you and me are gonna go out and get shithammered and get some strange."
  1914.  
  1915. "Where are we going?"
  1916.  
  1917. "A place I know."
  1918.  
  1919. "A lot of girls with tails and wings gonna be there?"
  1920.  
  1921. "Probably.  But usually human women go there too."
  1922.  
  1923. "I don't know man, it seems like a bad idea."
  1924.  
  1925. "Trust me, Joe, you'll be fine."
  1926.  
  1927.     You decided that you would need more beer to get through this, so you finished yours and grabbed another.  An hour or so later both of you were getting into a cab big enough for a monstergirl, or in Calvin's case, a wheelchair.  A short drive brought you to The Mean Eyed Cat, where you could hear "Walk Away" by the James Gang playing from the speakers.  The place wasn't packed, but the ratio of women to men was favorable, even if a number of them weren't human.  Calvin immediately rolled up to the bar where a Kitsune and a Holst were sitting and started hitting on them shamelessly.  
  1928.  
  1929. "Hey sweetheart, like my shoes?  I hear they're pretty comfortable."
  1930.  
  1931. The Kitsune responded by giggling into her hand.  
  1932.  
  1933. "You liked that one huh, maybe you and me can take a ride sometimes, not too fast unless we're going downhill.  Just call me hot rod," he said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
  1934.  
  1935.     A lamia slithered up to him and whispered something to him, a forked tongue flicking his ear.  Calvin wheeled away from her a bit and said, loud enough for others to hear, "Ma'am, there's two things I don't fuck with, rattlesnakes and condoms!"  The Kitsune laughed loudly and the lamia slithered away, red in the face. Calvin introduced both of us to the Kitsune and Holst, both of them smiling at you.  Tera, the Kitsune seemed to be very interested in Calvin, laughing at his jokes whether or not they were funny.  Betsy, the Holst was eyeing you intently, even though you hadn't said much to her.  She was about 5 foot 5, with a pair of horns and cow ears.  Her breasts were impossible to ignore, they were big, but not comically large, but almost too large for her frame.  Almost.  Somewhere between her waist and her thighs (you think) she started to grow white and black spotted fur on her legs, and she had two hooves instead of feet.  A long, skinny tail would sometimes flick out from her large butt, and jet black hair went down to her shoulders.  You decided to finally start speaking to her when she accidentally cut you off, asking if you wanted a drink.
  1936.  
  1937. "Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you."
  1938.  
  1939. "Well, I was gonna ask you if you'd lived in Austin for long, but I guess that's a silly question."
  1940.  
  1941. She laughed awkwardly.  "So, uh, how about that drink?  You want a White Russian?  This place makes great White Russians."
  1942.  
  1943. "Yeah, that'd be nice."
  1944.  
  1945.     Betsy leaned over the bar and asked the bartender for two White Russians, and she got them soon after.  Maybe she knows the staff here or something.  She was right about the White Russians, they were the best you'd ever had, maybe the best cocktail you'd ever had.  Maybe you had pregamed too much, or they made them too strong, because after your second you were feeling pretty buzzed.  Betsy looked kind of tipsy too, and soon you were laughing at each other's jokes, regardless if they were funny or not.  Every once in a while you would catch each other's eyes.  4 drinks later, you and Betsy were stumbling out of the front door, stopping to kiss each other.  It was kind of hard to stay upright with your cane at your level of intoxication, and she guided you into the door of an old Ford pickup, kissing you deeply.  You can feel her large tongue push yours out of the way.  She pulls you off the door to unlock it.  It's her truck.  She gently, but firmly guides you into the truck, still kissing you.  She turns the key in the ignition and the radio comes on, and you hear the twang of country coming through.  You think you recognize the sound of Willie Nelson
  1946. singing.  
  1947.  
  1948. "Take back the weed, take back the co-caine, baby."  She guides your hand to her large chest and you feel her nipples standing up.
  1949.  
  1950. "Take back the pills, take back the whiskey, too."  She starts to undo your belt.
  1951.  
  1952. "Don't need em now, your love was all I's after."  You're still not feeling anything down there.
  1953.  
  1954. "I'll make it now, I can get off on you."  Nothing.  
  1955.  
  1956. "Uh, Joe?"  
  1957.  
  1958.     You were hoping to explain this away as whiskey dick, but it didn't seem right to lie to her, so you went ahead and killed the mood more than a soft dick ever could and explained to her about your time in Uzbekistan.  By the time you had finished she was crying.  There didn't seem to be anything else to say to her so you kissed her forehead and let yourself out of her truck.  You were hobbling back to the bar when you heard Betsy call your name.  You turned around to face her and got a face full of her as she grabbed you to kiss you, standing on her tippy hooves to do it.  
  1959.  
  1960. "I'm sorry that happened to you, and if you can ever get over your problem, I want to be the first to know."
  1961.  
  1962.     You smile at her, and say, "You'll be the first person I tell."  She smiles widely.  "You should come by to the bar tomorrow, when I'm working." That explains the fast service she got all night.  You tell her you will, and walk back into the bar to borrow a key from Calvin and catch a cab back to his place.
  1963.  
  1964. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1965.  
  1966.                                     Red
  1967. Katya had gotten up earlier than you today.  You wouldn't have known if she hadn't kissed your cheek and told you she needed your truck.  You were too sleepy to ask what for, so you just nodded and grunted assent.  You took the car into work today, the gaze of many women coming your way before they got a whiff of Katya on you, which usually sent them looking away, blushing.  It seems they can tell when your wife or girlfriend is capable of tearing their organs out through their torsos.  They didn't even try to make eye contact with you when Katya was with you.  Her size and presence was intimidating, to say the least.  
  1968.    
  1969.     Maggie, the receptionist, shot her biggest smile at you, like always, and welcomed you back to work.  The past few months at work had been an exercise in watching others do what he was best at.  Every day, you watched Green Rock from the sky, apprehending wanted monstergirls and taking out slavery rings in Central and South America.  It was like being hunched over a computer screen watching porn when you could be fucking.  But with twins on the way and a woman who wasn't going to cheat on you, you had a responsibility to not get yourself killed.   Katya.  You weren't positive when it happened, or how long it would take, but you were going to be a father soon enough.  The doctor wasn't sure how long she'd be pregnant for, or even if the babies would be healthy, but he knew for sure that Katya was pregnant.  Her diet had become strange, and she was likely to hunt while you were at work.  Whenever you would voice your concern about physical activity, she would just tell you not to worry.  She wasn't showing yet, and her physical prowess would put Olympians to shame, so you guessed you would cross that bridge when you got there.  
  1970.    
  1971.     You and Cassie coordinated Green Rock's pursuit of several Lamia sisters wanted in Colombia for their roles in a slavery and prostitution ring that resulted in more than 20 deaths of underaged boys.  The price for them dead was the same as alive, so Green Rock was advised to use lethal force unless the Lamias had hostages.  You looked up to see  Hammarström with a worried look on her face.  Most of the time she would be smiling slyly, as if she knew a funny joke about you.  It didn't bother you much, but Cassie always rolled her eyes at  Hammarström.  The look you and Cassie shared told you she had never seen  Hammarström looking this concerned.  She handed you a file and you opened it.  Your face blanched a little when you saw the name on the file.  “Dr.” Ana Aranha, the Armadeira, one of the murderers responsible for the worst excesses of the prison in Uzbekistan.  Pictures of silk cocoons opened with desiccated men inside assaulted your eyes, lairs and pictures of maps where she had left her mark.  Iran, Turkey, the Mediterranean, a cargo ship found cocoons with bodies after making port in Rio.  She had been traveling west back to Brazil.  A team from another PMC had been pursuing her through the Amazon rainforest had ended up hanging upside down with their heads hanging in piranha infested waters outside of Manaus, Brazil.  She'd been staying in the rainforest for a while, but now her trail was heading north through South and Central America.  Her last known location was a body found on a farm outside of Ciudad Victoria, in Northern Mexico.  
  1972.  
  1973. “Green Rock and Red Castle are both being reassigned to this case.  I understand you pursued her when you were still in the Army.”
  1974. You grimaced a bit at the reminder of finding your best friend coughing up spores in her escape tunnel and coughed to cover your discomfort.
  1975.  
  1976. “That's correct.  We never got authorization to pursue her across borders in Central Asia.  She already had an escape plan in place months before the raid.”
  1977.  
  1978. “She's evaded or killed everyone who's gotten too close to her.  We don't believe we can keep her from entering the U.S., but we've accessed some of the Border Patrol's drones and cameras to try to find where she's entering. More than likely around Laredo, but where she's going from there is anyone's guess.”
  1979.  
  1980. “Don't you think that Red Castle and Green Rock might be a bit much? She's only one spider.” Cassie was underestimating Ana greatly.
  1981.  
  1982. “That's what has gotten a lot of people killed, Cassie,” said  Hammarström.  “We don't let that happen to our people, at least not through carelessness.”
  1983.  
  1984. “What do you think she's after by coming to the U.S.?”
  1985.  
  1986. “We're looking into it, but we don't have any leads yet.”
  1987.    
  1988.     The rest of the day was a blur.  By the end of the day, you had an idea of who Ana was looking for, and his location would be known to you tomorrow morning at the latest.  Soon after you got home, the truck pulled in, and you saw Katya wearing an old set of fatigues and covered in mud and blood.  You were almost concerned before seeing her pick up a deer carcass out of the bed of the truck and hoist it over her shoulder.  She walked into the garage and placed it in the deep freeze.  You got a good look at her.  She had blood all over her mouth and neck, and the rest of her face was covered in mud.  She looked, and smelled, like she'd been running through the forest all day.  It was not altogether unpleasant.  
  1989.  
  1990. “Long day?”
  1991.  
  1992. “You could say that.”  
  1993.  
  1994. “You know, you don't have to hunt for all your meat.  We have things in the States called grocery stores.”
  1995.  
  1996. “You are so witty, wonderful man of mine.  But I need a lot of meat.  And there is no sense in going soft just because I will be a mother.”
  1997.    
  1998.     You could see that she was still excited from her kill, her slit pupils still slightly dilated from the rush and the low light.  You were almost positive you knew how this night would end.  You could see her transfer the hungry look from the deer back to you.
  1999.  
  2000. “Just take a shower before you get any ideas.  I don't want to have to replace the sheets again.”
  2001.  
  2002. “Red, they will be filthy no matter what.”
  2003.    
  2004.     She was right.  She began to advance on you, licking her lips, and you prepared for a long night.  You woke up the next day, sore, and went to work.   Hammarström was waiting for you, telling you that a body had been found south of Corpus Christi this morning, and it fit Aranha's MO.  She also handed you a file.
  2005.  
  2006. “This is who we believe she's after.  I believe you two have met?”
  2007.  
  2008. You had, but only once.  His pic of him in Class A's was a damn sight different than when you found him strung up on webs in Aranha's sick bay.  
  2009.  
  2010. “He lives here in Austin.  We've put surveillance on him in case she tries to get him.”
  2011.  
  2012. “You plan on telling him she's in the state?”
  2013.  
  2014. “If she gets wind of it, we'll lose her for good.”
  2015.  
  2016. “So he's being used as bait?  That's pretty fucked up.”
  2017.  
  2018. “I hear you have a saying in the military of this country.  'It is what it is'.”
  2019.  
  2020. “Then put me on the ground for this one.  This guy has been through a lot of shit, he doesn't deserve to be snatched up by her again.  I'll make sure to get her this time.”
  2021.  
  2022. Hammarström's pointed ears twitched a little, and her sly smile made you more than a little uncomfortable.  It almost looked like this was her plan to begin with.  
  2023.  
  2024. “You should start drawing up plans then.”
  2025.  
  2026. So you did.  It may not be possible to keep eyes on the spider, but her target would be easier to keep track of.  You called for Red Castle and Green Rock to return to Austin.
  2027.  
  2028. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2029.  
  2030.                                     Joe
  2031.    
  2032.     You walked into the Mean Eyed Cat, and sat down at the bar.  Betsy smiled and greeted you.  You asked for some rye, and she poured you one.  You looked around to see the regulars and you noticed a customer you hadn't seen before.  She had cat ears, one purple and one black, and her paws and tail were similarly colored, tail slowly swaying with the song on the jukebox.  She saw you and began to grin widely at you, her tail moving slightly faster than before.  You largely ignored it, starting to get used to the looks most monstergirls gave you.  The last few months had been difficult, but easier than living up north near your family.  Your new desk job didn't put too much strain on your leg, and it was a decent way to keep from staring down your gun every day.  Boring as shit, but it was money in your wallet.  Nightmares were common, but nothing a drink and a sleeping pill couldn't repress.  
  2033.    
  2034.     At the very least, you could go to see Betsy, like you were now.  Betsy was the one part of your life, however small, that wasn't actively killing you.  She may not know it, but she was one of the main reasons you weren't sucking lead out of your 9mm.  You thought about telling her, but how does one go about telling someone they're the reason you're still alive?  Put on “You're the Inspiration” by Chicago and express your love through the soothing voice of Peter Cetera?  Not likely.  She said she likes you, but what use does a monstergirl have for a man with impotence?  Not much.  You became suddenly aware of a presence to your left.  
  2035.  
  2036. It was the purple and black cat.  
  2037.  
  2038. “Hello.”  She was uncomfortably close, and practically purring in your ear.  Betsy was giving her the stink eye while she cleaned a few glasses.  You flinched from her slightly, and she grinned even wider, if that was possible.  
  2039.  
  2040. “A little jumpy?  I might be too, if I was you.”
  2041.  
  2042. “Is that so?  What do you think you know about me?”
  2043.  
  2044. “I know you're looking for someone.”
  2045.  
  2046. “I'm just looking for a low calorie light beer that tastes like regular beer.”
  2047.  
  2048. “Very funny, Joey, but I know what you're really looking for.”
  2049.  
  2050. “Sorry, miss, I'm afraid I don't have what you need.  I'm probably not much use to you.”  It just occurred to you that she knew what your name was.  Betsy was gritting her teeth now, she might break the glass in her hand.  
  2051.  
  2052. “Tasha.  I'm not talking about...that.”  Her purple and black tail was rubbing against your thigh, to no effect.  I'm talking about someone...else.  Someone you think about all the time, I'm sure.  I'm positive you dream of her every night.”  
  2053. You had an idea of who she was talking about, and the hair on the back of your neck stood up.  She put her paw around your shoulder, slowly sliding the soft pads of her paws on your upper arms.  Betsy looked like she was about to blow a gasket.
  2054.  
  2055.  “You should talk to me, and soon, Joey.”  
  2056.  
  2057. With her other hand, she finished her drink and stood up.  The paw on your shoulder lingered a little longer than it should have.  She put money on the bar.  
  2058.  
  2059. “His drink's on me.”
  2060.  
  2061.     She walked out, waggling her hips as much as she could without it looking too obvious, you could still see it in your peripheral vision.  You briefly wondered if Holsts were capable of laser vision, because Betsy was staring a hole into Tasha's back.  The door closed and when Betsy caught you looking at her, she seemed to realize that she had been drying the same glass for at least several minutes.  She quickly set it down with the rest of the pint glasses.  
  2062.  
  2063. “Looks like she got your goat more than mine.”
  2064.  
  2065. “What?”
  2066.  
  2067. “Just an expression.  You ever seen her here before?”
  2068.  
  2069. “Once or twice, but not on a regular basis.”
  2070.  
  2071. “Pretty weird.”
  2072.  
  2073.     After a few drinks, you paid your tab and walked out, finally opening your shirt pocket where the Cat had discretely put a small card.  It was sized the same as a business card, deep violet in color fading into black, with a phone number in raised glossy black print.  Nothing else.  You set it back in your pocket and got into your car.  There wasn't anything to be done about it tonight.  The mere thought of Ana set you to drinking a few too many, and you waited for the cab as you looked over your shoulder.  Every long shadow had her in it now, and you shivered at the thought of seeing her again.
  2074.    
  2075.     Your night was filled with a recurring dream of you in her arms, your dick hard as stone as she filled you with venom and you submitted to her completely.  She spoke to you in Portuguese in the dream, but you knew what she was saying.  How much she loved you.  How much you needed her.  You woke up several times in a cold sweat, and it was the same dream every time.  
  2076.  
  2077.     You call in sick to work for the first time since you started there and after getting your car from the parking lot at The Mean Eyed Cat, decide to call the number on Tasha's card.  The phone rings a few times and she picks up.  Before you can say anything she rattles off an address and tells you to meet her there in one hour.  She hangs up immediately afterwards.  You put on your holster and put your pistol in the holster, just to be safe.  An hour later, you're in some rundown neighborhood and pull your car up to park.  There doesn't seem to be anyone around.  A large smile materializes from the ether, kind of floating in mid air.  A pair of purple eyes appeared above the smile, and the rest of the face came into view, but nothing else.
  2078. “Glad you could make it, Joey.  Come with me.”
  2079.  
  2080.     You feel her paw grab your shoulder, and everything goes black for a second.
  2081. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2082.  
  2083.                                     Red
  2084.     You were in your command center when the surveillance detachment assigned to Daniels called you saying that the target had vanished, literally into thin air.  You advised them to stay in the area looking for him, and to use the infrared.
  2085. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2086.    
  2087.                                     Joe
  2088.  
  2089.     When you can see again, you're in a dark basement, and everything feels like you're upside down.  Your 7 ryes from last night come up hard and land on the floor. An unfamiliar voice says, “Better up than down, I say”, and laughs uncontrollably.  You wipe your mouth and spit a little.  Tasha was visible now, and you looked around this dark room.  Red lights filled the room, and a table was set with three girls at one end sitting way too close to each other, drinking tea and arguing.  One was a Dormouse, falling asleep with tea in her hand.  One appeared to be a kind of Wererabbit, and the third looked normal, except for the fact that she was dressed like the Joker with an oversized top hat with a pricetag that said “In this style, 10/6”.  Behind the table was an ornate Grandfather clock, with the hands on 6 o'clock.  You checked your watch.  9:34.  
  2090.  
  2091. “Most people throw up when I take them places.”
  2092.  
  2093. “So why'd you do it, then?”
  2094.  
  2095. “Didn't know if you were being watched or not.  You're not the only person looking for her.”
  2096.  
  2097.     Her. You tried to cover up your slight shiver at the thought.  She motioned for you to sit at the table where the three were arguing.  The one with the top hat was balancing the teapot on top of the sleeping Dormouse's head.  She didn't seem to notice.  The Rabbit stared into space and spoke idly about how much she loved carrots.  It appeared that the Hatter was the source of all the arguments.  She would ask no one in particular a riddle, then swat at the empty air on the other side of her, issuing sharp rebukes.  
  2098.  
  2099. “So what do you know about her?”
  2100.  
  2101. “I know she's been leaving a trail of bodies across Europe and South America.  I know she's here in Austin.”
  2102.  
  2103. “And how exactly do you know that?”
  2104.  
  2105. “I have ways.  I can't be seen if I don't want to be.  I have contacts all over the place.”
  2106.  
  2107. “So why are you telling me?  Out of kindness?”
  2108.  
  2109. “$5,000,000 bounty, dead or alive.  Good enough?  I only want half.”
  2110.  
  2111. “You never told me how she got here.  And why she's here.”
  2112.  
  2113. “She's looking for you.”
  2114.  
  2115. “And why is that?”
  2116.  
  2117. “I told her.  She's been looking for you for a while.”
  2118.  
  2119.     You considered reaching for your gun, but you felt an emptiness where there was once weight.  Tasha was hanging your gun by the trigger guard off of one of her “fingers” and grinning.  
  2120.  
  2121. “Can't have you doing anything stupid.  She contacted me anonymously to find you, but since I knew about your story, I can figure these things out with some digging.  She paid well for the information, too.  But she didn't pay 5 million dollars.”
  2122.  
  2123. “What makes you think I'll be able to stop her?”
  2124.  
  2125. “She'll pause before actually killing you.  She'd never believe that her love would hurt her.  Of course, you might not be able to hurt her anyway.  In which case, I can just tell her I led you to her, which is true.”
  2126.  
  2127. Tasha hands you a piece of paper with an address on it.  You take it from her, read it once, and place it in your pocket.  
  2128. “She's sure to have bounty hunters and PMCs trying to track her down.  But if they get her first, I don't get any money.  So you might as well go today. Or you can run from her, but she'll have someone else find you like I did.”
  2129.  
  2130.     She hands your pistol back to you and you holster it.  You're trying to wrap your head around this entire thing, but you figured you would spend the rest of your life trying to forget your tormentor, and looking over your shoulder.  But now she's here, you know where she is.  She knows you're in Austin, so you may as well go to meet her.  Tasha reaches out to you and puts her paw on your shoulder.  Everything goes black again.
  2131.  
  2132. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2133.  
  2134.                                         Red
  2135.  
  2136.     The surveillance team called again to tell you Daniels had rematerialized from thin air.  Infrared showed another figure with him briefly, and Daniels vomited on the sidewalk.  They then followed him to a gun store on Manchaca where he bought a taser.  You considered this odd, because he was already considered armed with a handgun he kept in a shoulder rig.  You were getting a bit wary, and put the team on alert.  Not knowing where he disappeared to and who he was with was a bit unsettling, to say the least.  
  2137.    
  2138.     Daniels went home for a while and was later tracked going to the Mean Eyed Cat where he stayed for a short while and then left. When he entered a warehouse, you scrambled your team.  You knew something was about to happen, but you didn't know what.  You were already in most of your gear, and the team was too.  You double checked your weapons and Green Rock and Red Castle piled into several armored SUVs.  
  2139.  
  2140. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2141.                                    
  2142.                                     Joe
  2143.  
  2144.  
  2145. “Will you walk into my parlor?”, she said, laughing.
  2146.    
  2147.     It was all part of her plan, you thought.  If she could just seduce one last time, she could have you.  She wanted to run away with you, one step ahead of the authorities, together forever.  It might actually be working.  Your dick was harder than it had been in a long time.  She lowered herself further, and righted herself as her eight legs reached the floor.  She slowly and deliberately walked up to you.  You couldn't seem to move, petrified by the sight, sound and smell of your tormentor.  Or maybe your lover.  With her pedipalps, she reached out and slowly picked you up, dragging your face up her breasts and your erection rubbed up against her.  
  2148.    
  2149.     You were face to face with her now, her 6 yellow eyes gleaming in the light.  She brought her lips to yours, and everything exploded in your brain.  Your heart was racing, your mind was moving at 100 miles an hour, and your erection strained to escape your pants.  
  2150.  
  2151. “I can't tell you how glad I am that you came to me.  I thought you would have to be...convinced to come with me.  It's been so long since I've felt like this.”
  2152.  
  2153. “What can I say, Ana?  I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.”  It was true, but now you weren't even sure if you meant that you were here to kill her or go with her.  Her smell, her taste, and her voice were all intoxicating you.  With you in her arms, she began to raise herself up by her web.  Your cane clattered on the concrete floor and she held on to you even tighter as she went higher.  You were feeling the familiar venom flowing through your body.  She kissed it into you.  
  2154.  
  2155. “It's taken me so long to find you, I was worried you would have found another.  I should have known that you could find no substitute for me.”
  2156.  
  2157. “You're right, Ana.  There's no one like you.”  You initiated the kiss this time, you weren't sure if it was part of your plan or if you were losing yourself to the idea of running away with her.  
  2158.  
  2159. “Oh, Joseph!  You surprise me!”  You could feel her nipples get hard against your body, even through your shirt.  
  2160.  
  2161. “Soon we can leave this place.  You, me, and-”
  2162.    
  2163.     The door opens loudly and you hear boots moving. A voice shouts “PUT HIM DOWN, ARANHA!  WE CAN MAKE THIS GO WITHOUT ANYONE GETTING KILLED!”  Ana was looking at them, her face contorted in a visage of rage and fury.  Without thinking, you grabbed your new taser and jammed it into her side, pressing the trigger.  The cartridge fired two electrodes into her side.  She screamed out in pain, dropping you on the concrete.  You saw stars and your vision cleared as she pulled the electrodes out of herself and was looking at you in shock and confusion.  You weren't going to get a better chance than this.  You drew the pistol and started firing into her abdomen.  Your ears filled with gunfire in the echoing warehouse, and soon the slide locked back, magazine empty.  Her face was twisted in pain and sadness.  She really didn't think you'd hurt her.  
  2164. Weakly, she whispered, “Why?”
  2165.    
  2166.     Her legs began to fold up on themselves as she hung from her web strand. A vaguely familiar face came into view as a number of armed monstergirls in military gear checked out the body.  One checked Ana for a pulse.  “She's done.”
  2167. The familiar face helped you up.  “That was some good shooting, Daniels. Thought she was gonna kill you if we got too close.”
  2168. “No, she wasn't.  She wanted to leave with me.”
  2169. “Oh, well.  Still, good shooting.”
  2170.    
  2171.     It didn't feel good.  It felt like you just killed a part of yourself.  There was someone you knew, now she's dead.  You didn't feel any closure, you didn't feel better about yourself.  All you feel is empty.  A deep nothingness, like you were detached from the situation and watching from outside your body.  You were about to set yourself down on the floor to cry when a rustling sound echoed through the empty space of your thoughts.  Everyone else leveled their weapons at the sound coming from the back of the warehouse.  A slow sound of legs on concrete came out of the darkness and everyone slowly lowered their weapons.  
  2172.    
  2173.     She was small, her skin was a lighter tone than her mother's, and her hair was lighter than Ana's.  You knew immediately she was yours, even if she was walking on 8 legs.  Her face looked quite a bit like yours.   Your mind raced back to Ana's last words before you shot her.  “You, me, and-”.  She was about to tell you about her daughter.  Your daughter.  Her mother's body was blocked from her view by some of the crates, so you picked up your cane and limped over to her.  She looked up at you, first appearing scared at first, but soon you saw a look of recognition in her face.  She held up a half crumpled pic in her hand.  
  2174. “Daddy?  You look like the Daddy in the picture.  I got woken up cuz it's loud.”  She couldn't be older than 2 years old.  
  2175.    
  2176.     Tears in your eyes, you took the photo from her little hands.  It was of a man who had died a few years before.  Still you, but the man in the picture looked happy.  It was the old one of you and Tammy, but torn in half so it was only you.  
  2177. “Yes, sweetie.  I'm daddy.”
  2178.    
  2179.     What was sadness from killing Ana quickly turned to panic over the fact that you have a daughter.  The thought of you being responsible for another life when your own is in shambles is terrifying.  There was no more hiding in a bottle of rye when you had a panic attack.  No more numbing yourself with painkillers.  You looked back at the armed group and tried to convey your need to cover up Ana's body with your facial expressions and eyebrows.  The man, Red, seemed to catch your drift.  He leaned in and whispered into a Lizardman's ear, and she quickly left, presumably to get a tarp to cover the body up.  This would hopefully work.  
  2180.  
  2181. “Where's Mommy?”
  2182.  
  2183. Fuck.  
  2184.  
  2185. “She had to leave, sweetie.”
  2186.  
  2187. “Why?”
  2188.  
  2189. “She had to go, that's all, uh...”
  2190.  
  2191. “Vivian.”
  2192.    
  2193.     Your daughter's name.  You knew you had to tell her one day.  How you killed her mother.  How she tormented and violated you every day.  But this day had been long enough already.  And a little girl wasn't ready.  Red walked up to you to whisper in your ear.  
  2194. “We've called the police, and I get the feeling you don't want to deal with this paperwork.”
  2195.    
  2196.     You nod once, and take Vivian by the hand.  She surprises you by climbing up on your legs and quickly perched herself on your shoulders.  Eight legs pressing up on your back might have given you a panic attack, but you think you might be able to get used to this.  Red was on the phone with someone, probably explaining what had happened.  He scribbled down on a notepad and handed you a slip of paper.  A pair of numbers.  
  2197. “My employers will be sending this account the necessary funds, as you've definitely earned it.”
  2198.    
  2199.     The reward money.  5 million dollars.  An account number and a routing number.  Blood money.  Was it enough to stretch for the rest of your life?  No, probably not.  This should be Vivian's money anyway, and half of it should be Tasha's, at least according to your deal with her.  
  2200. “Let's grab your things, Vivian.  I've got to show you your new home.”
  2201. “OK.”
  2202.    
  2203.     After grabbing her stuff, a blanket and some clothes and toys, you walked out to the car, past Ana's covered body, while Vivian dozed off on your shoulders.  Gingerly, you took her off your shoulders and set her inside the car.  You didn't have a child seat and doubted that manufacturers had made any seats for arachnes, so you placed a blanket over her and buckled her into the back seat.
  2204.  
  2205.                                                                                                     Epilogue
  2206.    
  2207.     Her golden eyes were the only light you could see in the dark, but you knew you were in the warehouse.  A familiar feeling of dread washes over you in the darkness.  You hear her voice as she sobs mournfully.  You have the sensation of your feet moving away from the disembodied eyes as your feet clap against the ground.  She's everywhere you look, and nowhere at the same time.  Those eyes, always looking into you.  
  2208. “Why, Joseph?”
  2209.    
  2210.     You don't have anything to tell her.  What can you say?  You break into a run and she's soon on top of you, holding you down.  Her fangs glistening with her venom, she begins to get in close to your neck and you start to swing your fists wildly.  She's shaking you now, calling your name.  A sharp slap to the face jolts your eyes open.  You're drenched in sweat and Betsy's eyes are staring back at you, watering, and her mouth is quivering.  
  2211.  
  2212. “Joe?  You were having a nightmare!”
  2213.  
  2214. It takes a quick second to realize that you're awake.  Sitting up, you wipe the sweat from your brow.  
  2215.  
  2216. “Was I talking in my sleep?”
  2217.  
  2218. “You were crying.”
  2219.  
  2220. “Fuck.”
  2221.  
  2222. “DADDY SAID A BAD WORD!”
  2223.  
  2224. Vivian was peeking through the bedroom door, 3 of her eyes just above the doorknob.  
  2225.  
  2226. “Yes, sweetie, I did.  Sorry.”
  2227.  
  2228. She opens the door and climbs on the wall behind the bed to be closer to you.  Her hair hangs off the side of her head in loose curls.  
  2229.  
  2230. “Why were you crying, daddy?”
  2231.  
  2232. “Daddy had a bad dream, that's all.  I'm fine.”
  2233.  
  2234. “You're not hurt?”
  2235.  
  2236. “No, baby, Daddy's not hurt.”
  2237.  
  2238.     From the wall she hugs you, squeezing you tight and you can already feel the beginnings of the superhuman strength that her mother had.  Every time you look into Vivian's eyes, you see Ana.  You look at Vivian's face and see the same look of love that Ana had for you, perhaps without the malevolence.  She had no real memories of her mother, and would always have only a vague idea of a mom.  Every once in a while, she'd ask where Mommy was, and you'd have to tell her she was still away.  Betsy and Vivian got along well enough, and Betsy was motherly enough for the both of you.  Betsy looked at the hug you and Vivian were sharing and smiled.
  2239.  
  2240. “Who wants pancakes?”, Betsy said, smiling.
  2241.  
  2242. You can see the wheels turning in Vivian's head, and her face lights up.  One of her legs raises up and said “I do, I do!” without breaking the hug.
  2243.  
  2244. “Well, get dressed and help me in the kitchen.”
  2245.  
  2246. “OK!”
  2247.  
  2248.     She let go of you and skittered out of the bedroom on the wall, shouting “YAY, PANCAKES!”.  Betsy smiles at you, and you try to force one, but it's not that convincing.  You pull yourself up out of bed and hobble to the bathroom to see the tired face looking back at you.  You shave and brush your teeth.  Even without the beard, you look old.  With a sigh, you wash your face and begin to hear laughing.  You put a shirt on and wander into the kitchen to see Vivian hanging upside down from the ceiling and squirting Bisquick from a squeeze bottle onto the skillet while Betsy giggles.  
  2249.  
  2250.     You walk over to the counter and fill up your cup with hot coffee and take a sip.  Sitting down at the table, you watch your daughter help Betsy make breakfast.  Vivian skitters over to you and reaches up to hand you a plate of pancakes and bacon.  You kiss her on top of her head.
  2251. “Thanks, sweetie.”
  2252.  
  2253.     She smiles and runs back to the kitchen and grabs her own plate.  Her smile looks so much like Ana's, you almost flinch and look away.   Betsy sits down with you and Vivian and hands her a glass of milk.   Vivian already has half a pancake in her mouth, and grape jelly is on her face at the corners of her mouth.  You wipe her mouth and she smiles widely, a long row of razor sharp teeth gleaming at you.  
  2254.  
  2255. “What are we doin' today, Daddy?”
  2256.  
  2257. “We're going to Uncle Red's for the barbecue today, so you get to play with Natasha and Nika.”
  2258.  
  2259. “YAY!”
  2260.  
  2261.     Vivian sprung out of her chair and started climbing up the wall, half of a pancake in her hands as she cheered.  You give her a firm look and tell her to settle down.  Undaunted, she's still smiling and crawls down from the wall and sits on her wide stool.  The rest of the morning went by with a subdued excitement from her as she got dressed and watched cartoons.
  2262.  
  2263.     That afternoon, you, Betsy and Vivian drive to Red's house where a number of people were milling around in the back yard with Solo cups of beer and plates of brisket and  pulled pork.   Two Jinko cubs in sundresses were running around and yelling and Vivian immediately joined them as they wrestled on the ground.  Red and Katya were speaking with a Manticore.  You began to feel a little uncomfortable at all the different species present, but when you noticed that some were wearing Army tattoos and that the Manticore had a prosthetic on her arm instead of a paw you relax a little.  You and Betsy walk up to Red and you shake hands.  
  2264.  
  2265. "How's it going, Joe?"
  2266.  
  2267. "I've been worse."
  2268.  
  2269. Red gives a concerned glance and says "Can you give us a minute, Betsy?"
  2270. She nods and goes off to mingle.  She always was more social than you.
  2271.  
  2272. "Are you still having that problem?"
  2273.  
  2274. You nod and say yes.
  2275.  
  2276. "Well, look, I'm not going to tell you how to conduct your business, but there's a VA study going on.  New medicines and treatments are coming out, and you'd be eligible for first clinical trials."
  2277. The thought of being a guinea pig brings back bad memories, and you suppress a shudder.
  2278.  
  2279. "Yeah, I don't know if I want to do that"
  2280.  
  2281. "I understand how you probably feel about it, but I wouldn't want to, you know, push rope forever."
  2282.  
  2283.     Eloquent as always, but he had a point.  It wasn't fair to keep Betsy around just so she could look after your daughter.  You look down and scratch the back of your neck, as if conceding the point.  Red pulls his wallet out and takes out a business card out.  You take it and put it in your pocket, turning and catching Betsy's eye from across the yard.  She smiles and waves.  You wave back.  
  2284. "I'll give it a try."
  2285.  
  2286.      You give Red a faux salute and walk over to Betsy, who has a big plate of greens that she's chewing on.  The rest of the afternoon is pleasant enough, and you make an attempt to enjoy it.  Betsy sits next to you eating while Vivian uses her web to trip up one of the Jinko twins.  Vivian jumps on her and laughs while Nika growls.  Vivian starts to use her web to tie up Nika's feet.  You see this and stand up, leaning on your cane.  You're about to say something when Vivian sees the stern Dad look you're giving.  She immediately stops and uses a sharp finger to cut the web loose.  
  2287.  
  2288.  
  2289. "What did we say about that?"
  2290.  
  2291. She looks down in a guilty manner.  "To never do it to anything you're not gonna eat."
  2292.  
  2293. "And are you planning on eating your friend?"
  2294.  
  2295. "Noooooo."
  2296.  
  2297. "Then play nice."  You point two fingers at your eyes then point back to her, telling her you'll be watching.  She skitters off, following Nika and Natasha to some other part of the yard.  It's more than a little troubling how happy she was to start tying up her friend.  
  2298.  
  2299.     At the end of the day, you, Betsy and Vivian get in the car and head home.  Vivian's all tuckered out and sleeping in the backseat.  You've still got what Red was telling you on your mind, but try not to let it show in your face.  From the corner of your eye, you see Betsy looking at you.  She knows you're troubled, but doesn't want to press the issue.  
  2300.  
  2301.     Sleep is hard to come by that night.  You see her again in your dreams.  She asks why you would ever want to forget her as you wake up sweating.  Instead of trying to go back to sleep, you go to the kitchen and make some coffee.  You look out the window for a while as the coffee brews, and after a few cups, the sun comes up.  Before Betsy gets up, you walk back to the bedroom and grab your wallet and your phone.  Dialing the number on the card, you're kind of surprised when someone picks up.  It's still pretty early.
  2302.  
  2303. "Mr. Daniels, I've been expecting your call."  There was something strange about her voice, like there was some feedback on her end.  It sounded like there was an echo.
  2304.  
  2305. "How did you-"
  2306.  
  2307. "Your friend Mr. Nielsen told me about your...special case, and I said I might be able to help.  How about you come to my office this morning?"  You look at the address on the card and she says, "Yes, that one.  I'll see you at 11, Mr. Daniels."  She hangs up before you can ask her any other questions, and the call leaves you feeling uneasy.  Still, you're willing to try something different to change.  
  2308.  
  2309.     After breakfast you drive to the address which leads you to a nondescript office building.  You walk in and it's empty on the first floor.  This is a little strange, but you come across an office with a name you've never heard of, much less able to read.  A long string of symbols in an ancient tongue are on the frosted glass door.  
  2310.  
  2311. "Come in, Mr. Daniels."  There's that voice again.  Sounds like more than one voice, like an echo.  At first, your instincts tell you to bolt like a scared rabbit, not that you could bolt very fast anymore.  You walk closer to the door, almost mechanically, and turn the door knob.  Inside was a woman with pale violet skin, wearing a suit and sitting at a desk.  She had a knowing look on her face, what she knew, she wasn't saying.  Her hair...wasn't hair, they were darker purple things, tentacles, moving almost imperceptibly.  There was a chair in front of the desk and she gestures to it.  
  2312.  
  2313. "Take a seat, please. My name is L'ilurugnagoth.  You may call me Lillie, I know not many humans can say even my shortened name."  You can hear more than one voice say it, and you're not sure if her mouth is moving.  As you sit, she begins to "speak" again.  
  2314.  
  2315. "Like we discussed on the phone, Mr. Nielsen gave me a brief description of your problems, but why don't you go into more detail?"
  2316.    
  2317.     So you do.  You tell her the story of your captivity, the nightmares, the confrontation with Ana and raising Vivian.  You tell her about Betsy, and that you feel bad for keeping her around when you can't give her what any woman wants.  Just sitting down and telling someone seems to help a little.  Lillie sits and listens, the expression on her face changing little.  
  2318. When you've finished, she seems to know, and says "This seems to be all stemming from your mind.  Your body has not been subjected to venom or drugs in some time, and while it seems permanent, your physiological state is linked with your brain. Your reaction to the memories is what is causing all of this."
  2319.  
  2320. "Okay?"
  2321.  
  2322. "What I do here is help people like you with their memories.  If you like, I could erase them all from your mind, but I find it to be a bit crude.  I would like, with your permission of course, to treat you with a technique that changes your mind's response to the trauma."
  2323.  
  2324. You sit for a minute, wondering what all that entails.
  2325.  
  2326. "I can assure you it's painless, but it's not uncommon for patients to be a little squeamish."
  2327.  
  2328. You didn't come here to puss out, you came to get better.  You nod.  She stands up and seems to slide across the floor on what appears to be a reddish purple flower turned upside down, scootching along with no legs.  This is a little frightening, but she gives you a look that tells you that everything is alright, and you believe it, even if you don't want to.  She moves behind you and puts her hands on your shoulders.  You hear a weird squelching sound and feel a bit of wetness in your ears.  You gasp, but are unable to move when you feel them moving into your ears.  It feels strange, but you don't have a problem with it after the first few seconds.  You feel yourself drifting off into sleep.  The events of the last few years run past you again, but instead of fear and hate, you feel calm.  Even the sight of Ana in your dreams brings up a feeling you haven't felt in a long time.  Closure.  Calm.  Serenity.  You still know it was awful in your head, but the mind isn't going blank with fear.  It's a wonderful feeling.  You feel human again in this dream state, not a frightened shell of a man.  
  2329.  
  2330. "There, that should be everything."  You open your eyes as she moves back to her desk.  She looks a little flushed.  "How was that?"  Her voice(s) sound different now, a few of them seem familiar.  You can't quite put your finger on it, but it doesn't bother you enough to ask.  
  2331.  
  2332. "How long was I out?"
  2333.  
  2334. "Longer than most of my patients, you've been through quite a lot.  It's been two hours."
  2335.  
  2336. "Does my insurance cover this?  What do I owe you?"
  2337.  
  2338. "I don't require legal tender for my services, I have everything I need from you."
  2339.  
  2340.     You wonder what that means, but you feel like you probably don't want to know and couldn't understand anyway.  You thank her and leave, feeling like you can almost dance a jig.  Your leg immediately protests, so you settle for being light in spirit instead.  You're having a good day, for the first time in a long time.  You spend the rest of it with your daughter and Betsy, who leaves for work and comes home late.  Your dreams that night are free from Ana, you dream of Vivian, and you dream of Betsy.  When Betsy crawls into bed after a long shift, you grab her in your sleepy state and hold her close for the rest of the night.  
  2341. You wake up to something that feels completely foreign, yet it's familiar.  You remember it from years ago.  Betsy is in your arms like always, so it's not that.  You look down and see it.  It's been gone for so long you've forgotten what it looked like.  Slowly, you pull your arm from under Betsy's head, and twist your body and lean across the bed to lock the door.  Vivian doesn't need to see this.  Your movement wakes up Betsy, and she sees it too.  She smiles sleepily.
  2342.  
  2343. "So that's what it looks like.  I knew I'd get to see it someday."
  2344.  
  2345. You smile at her and she begins to slide under the covers and make your day better than the last.
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