Jed's eyes opened as they landed at the airfield, the wheels of the small plane bumping as they rolled down the rock-strewn runway. He gasped. He saw a small rabbit at the end of the runway twitch its whiskers. "Hey, Lone Wolf! I can see again." He looked into the distance, grinning. "I mean, like telescopic."
Lone Wolf raised an eyebrow. "Another mystery in a growing list," he muttered. "That's excellent, Jed," he added, "because we're in Vegas."
Sitting in the pilot's seat, Caru brought the plane to a halt near one of the large open hangars at the end of the airfield. "They need to do some maintenance on this runway," he grumbled. "Haven't been here in years." His face brightened. "I might scavenge for new tires and some fuel when we're done taking care of the Doctor."
"I'll help you," said Lone Wolf. "We won't have gone unnoticed, you know. Planes aren't that common anymore."
Caru agreed. "I'm hoping that coming in from the west will help, but I guess we'll find out."
"How you feeling, Jed?" Lone Wolf asked.
"Thirsty. A bit groggy, but pretty good. I'm sorry about passing out on you guys. I don't know what happened. Thanks for letting me sleep," said Jed.
"Not like we had much choice, Jed," said Caru. "Tried to wake you, but you were totally out of it. Shoot, you even missed my rendition of American Pie."
Lone Wolf looked at Jed and made a slight negative motion with his head. Jed smiled. Caru poked a finger into Lone Wolf's chest. "I saw that. Everyone's a critic," he grumbled.
"We have company," said Lone Wolf looking out the window.
Three men and a woman, each wearing a drab brown uniform approached the plane. They all carried thick clubs. Caru and Lone Wolf opened the plane doors and the three of them stepped out on the tarmac, facing the guards.
"Hey, glad to see you folks," said Caru cheerfully. "We brought some trade goods from up North." He looked around the airport, a puzzled look on his face. "Though it doesn't look like you do much trade via air."
The four guards looked at each other. One of the men had a pale scar running from his chin to his left ear. He looked at Caru. "We don't trade unless you get authorization. And we don't authorize unless you're asked to join the trading organization. And we don't ask if we don't know you."
Caru looked at Lone Wolf who shrugged. "Oh," said Jed, a wide smile beaming at the four guards. "I guess we misunderstood Sam when he told us about this place."
"Sam?" Scar-face swore under his breath.
The woman rolled her eyes. "The little pissant is supposed to tell us these things," she muttered.
Jed shrugged. "Yeah, I have to say he didn't seem too…concerned with protocol, let's say…"
One of the guards, a tall man with a patch over his eye, snickered. Scar-face glared at him. He pointed at the plane. "We don't see many planes. Where you from? What are you trading, and for what?"
Lone Wolf, Jed and Caru looked at each other, faces blank.
"Ah, forget it," said Caru as he moved forward, stepping on Scar-face's toes. He grabbed the man's right wrist, twisting with a quick motion. Scarface's yell of pain followed the crack of bone snapping. Caru snatched the club and hit him over the head.
Jed moved toward the tall guard, who attacked him, swinging his club. The woman moved to Jed's left and stepped in to attack Jed also, her club swinging down toward Jed's leg.
Jed stepped under the swinging club of the tall man and punched him in the chest over his heart. Ribs cracked and Jed stepped to the left of the woman, who hadn't adjusted her swing yet. His eyes sparkled as his fist caught her on the side of the head and she toppled to the ground.
The last man slumped on the ground at Lone Wolf's feet. Lone Wolf and Caru stared at Jed, mouths open.
"What?" asked Jed, grinning.
"I could barely see you move, Jed," said Lone Wolf. "You were a blur."
"Yeah, and you weren't even looking at him," said Caru. He whistled. "Kid, you're faster than anyone I ever saw."
Jed suppressed a giggle, frowning at himself. "Everyone was moving so slowly. It was crazy. And those two were Transformed." He pointed at the woman and Scar-face.
Lone Wolf leaned over the woman after checking the three men. "Well, the one with the scar is unconscious. My guy is too." He stood up, a frown on his face. "But Jed…" He pointed at the two people Jed fought. "This guy will die of internal injuries in a few minutes and you crushed her skull like an egg."
Jed looked at his hands, then at the two people on the ground, his face shocked. "That's not possible, Lone Wolf. I didn't hit them that hard."
Caru leaned over the unconscious tall guard. Grabbing his head he twisted it rapidly and they heard his neck break. The man's labored breathing stopped. "You hit them plenty hard, Jed," he said. "You have quite the punch."
Jed stared at his hands as if they belonged to someone else. "I didn't mean to…"
Lone Wolf put his arm around Jed's shoulders. "You've been changed again, Jed. You'll need to develop some control." He looked around the airfield. "We don't have time to address that right now, though. We need to find August."
"And Maddie," Jed added.
Caru looked at Lone Wolf, his hands on his hips. "Can we kill that crazy Doctor this time? Please?"
Lone Wolf agreed. "I think that's where this is heading, Caru." He pointed at the men. "Grab a uniform, guys. I think we found our way in."
Caru opened the cargo door on the rear of his plane. "I see where you're going with this, but I'll do this my own way." He strapped on his combat vest and put on his gloves. Reaching into the plane, he removed his bow and arrows. "We going to the same place as before?" Caru asked Lone Wolf.
"That's the plan," said Lone Wolf. "It's where we need to start, anyway."
"I'll cover the north and stay out of sight." Caru set the alarms on his plane and waited for the others.
Jed tied up the two remaining guards, gags in their mouths. Then he dressed in the uniform that most closely fit him.
"So why do guards wear uniforms?" he asked Lone Wolf.
Lone Wolf shrugged, slipping into one of the other uniforms. "I don't know. I've been around a while, and soldiers and guards always wear some kind of uniform."
"Then it's sort of stupid, isn't it? I mean, here we are with these nice uniforms, courtesy of these gentlemen, and now nobody will look at us twice."
Lone Wolf grinned. "That's the plan."
Jed frowned. "What if there's a password or something?"
"Then the uniforms won't work." Lone Wolf took his bow and arrows from the plane.
"And if they realize we aren't one of them?" Jed asked, following Lone Wolf. Caru followed behind the two of them. Jed realized he heard him humming to himself.
"The uniforms will make them pause." He indicated the two people and two bodies in the hangar. "A pause should be all we need." Lone Wolf, pointed. "We can cut straight through that broken area of fencing," he said. He jogged toward the damaged chain link fence.
"Where are we going?" asked Jed.
"I know where they took August last time. It's not far from here, less than four miles. I have no idea what kind of security the Doctor has now, though." Lone Wolf set off at an easy trot when they got to the roadway. Caru waved and disappeared onto the road a block away.
"How bad was it last time?" Jed easily matched Lone Wolf's pace, not thinking about the speed.
"Security was tight, but the Doctor was overconfident. And we had a good computer guy. Amazing what your Dad could do with a computer." Lone Wolf shook his head, smiling. "We had August out of his cell and on the road before they were aware we had penetrated their building. They were looking for a threat elsewhere." Lone Wolf chuckled. "As I recall, your Dad had Homeland Security and the local police in a shouting match with the small contingent of Marines that guarded the facility."
"I never heard that story," Jed said.
"Those are the highlights. No shots fired, though we were prepared. Your Dad worked hard to avoid conflict with soldiers following orders." Lone Wolf's face became grim. "We don't have any such problem this time. Any guards we encounter are enemy."
Jed nodded. "Any idea what we'll face?"
"No. I'd make a plan, but without information I can't, so simple is better. Find August. Get him out."
"Kill the Doctor," Jed interrupted. "At least, that's Caru's advice."
"We'll see what happens, but I feel that is the result we are moving toward." Lone Wolf looked around. "I suspect Caru will take care of it if he gets a chance."
"We'll get August out. Do you think he'll have Maddie?" Jed sniffed the air. "I smell so many things now. And I hear better. I can hear Caru one street over."
Lone Wolf looked at Jed from the corner of his eye. "Keep track of where he is, if you can."
"Sure, no problem. If I can't hear him, I sometimes smell him."
"Hmmm. Interesting set of new skills you have, Jed. Claire needs to take a look at you when we get back."
"Caru is a great fighter. Does he know about you and August?" Jed asked.
Lone Wolf and Jed continued trotting up the sidewalk, the heat causing sweat to glisten on their faces. "He does. The tribes don't care as much about us as civilized people seem to. They accept it and move on with their lives." He grinned. "Caru is an awesome fighter, though. I've run into naturally gifted people like him occasionally over the centuries, but they are rare. His natural speed is amplified by excellent training. He's one of the most deadly snipers I ever met." Lone Wolf thought a moment. "There were the von Crapp brothers, too, a couple brothers naturally gifted, especially the shorter one, BA. They were adventurers, but that's another story…"
Lone Wolf slowed as Jed put his hand out. They moved into the shadow of a nearby building.
"You are not going to believe this, Lone Wolf." Jed said. Lone Wolf raised an eyebrow as Jed grinned. "I hear Maddie."