Chapter 4 – V-Trooper—First Mission

4

The temperature was about fifty degrees, Fahrenheit, but would drop down to the mid or low thirties later in the night.

Boyd didn’t mind. Since his transformation, lower temperatures didn’t affect him as they had before. The midday heat was stifling, but night breezes caressed his skin like a cool lover.

He sat on the roof of Warehouse Six, wearing a black jumpsuit Sergeant Major Flynn had had tailored for him in a local shop. Boyd would have made some changes in design if he’d been consulted. He hadn’t been. Maybe next time he could have a more functional design. Black and gray camouflage paint obscured his face, but he also carried a lightweight balaclava.

Saturday night. Boyd had spent the night before on the same roof, watching an empty asphalt lot inside the concertina wire. Nothing had moved except for an occasional cat looking for the mice that hid under the facility.

The vampire smiled. He could see as clearly in the moonless night as the feral cats.

To make sure all his more-than-human senses and strengths would emerge on cue, he’d starved himself except for necessary food. No blood. He was also pissed. No action the first long, boring night. At 3:15, it might be another…

Wait.

Three men, looking about them as they came, skulked down the alleyway that intersected with the exit street from the loading dock. All bore burdens. Even with his enhanced vision, Boyd couldn’t make out what two of the men had in their arms.

The third carried a telescoping ladder.

The warehouse compound’s chain link fence was twelve feet tall and crowned with curling razor wire. The three extended the ladder to the top of the wire and higher. One raced, nimble as a monkey, to the top.

The climber’s burden became clear. He unfurled heavy canvas to cover the flesh-eating concertina then attached a thin rope and pulley to the ladder. He rappelled down the rope to the ground and waited for a second man to follow him. They ran for the black shadows under the loading dock’s overhang.

Time to move.

Boyd slipped on the balaclava as he sprinted to the opposite side of the roof, then slid down a rope to the ground. His pulse rate would have made a doctor faint, but he felt no tremors. To an observer, he would have appeared calm and deliberate, but hard to follow.

A flickering shadow of deeper darkness in the night.

He rounded the building and followed the intruders under the overhang. One of them had known the combination to the cipher lock. They were inside.
As Boyd waited for the thieves to emerge, he slipped a dental appliance from his pocket. The woman from New Orleans had bought it after she’d transformed him. A custom-fitted set of titanium fangs snapped into titanium posts set in the upper jawbone when he removed false upper teeth. Chilling to the sight, the canines were an inch long and glittered in the dim starlight.

The two men emerged, dragging burlap bags—the empty sacks were what the third man had carried. Boyd watched until they’d taken the first of their burdens to the point just below the ladder and clipped it to the rope dangling there. The thief who’d waited outside climbed to the top of the ladder and began pulling the rope from his side. When the sack reached the top of the ladder, he took it and scrambled to the ground and then back up to await the second load.

Boyd attacked.

None of the three saw him until he grabbed one who was about to send up another load. The man was bent over his task when his feet were snatched from under him. Before his face hit the pavement, a powerful hand cupped under his chin and pulled his neck back. Before he could yell, something hit him behind the ear. Blinding pain and darkness followed.

The second man inside saw a shadow that was blacker than the rest and stepped back, to run. A gloved hand stifled him and thunder sounded, as a red flash in front of his eyes preceded unconsciousness.

The third thief had seen scuffles through the fence and started to pull the ladder back as something moving down the ladder like a soundless desert storm engulfed him. An eyeblink before he was knocked unconscious, he saw a vision that would have loosened his bowels. Eyes like smoldering coals glowed above a mouth with teeth like a steel viper.

Boyd went back up the ladder, slid down the rope and tied it the first bandit’s plastic cuffs. Back up the rope, he winched the man to the top of the ladder and dropped him to the ground with the one who’d stayed outside.

As soon as he’d repeated the process with the third thief, he called Russell.

“Sir, this is Boyd. Where do you want these three?”

Russell had been sleeping on a cot in his office. When the radio beeped, he’d come immediately awake.

“Take them to the place we scouted. I’ll meet you there.”

As soon as he signed off the radio with Boyd, the major called his interpreter.

“Meet me at the compound gate at 0630,” he said.

His next phone call was to the MP detachment. When the duty sergeant answered, the major gave him the same instructions with one addition.

“Bring a Hummer and a medic. We’ll have prisoners.”

With no other explanation, he signed off. One more call. He switched frequencies and transmitted.

“Flynn.”

“Bobby, it went down. Our man got ‘em. Cover for me in the morning until I get there. Shouldn’t take too long.”

“Got it, out.”

The barn where Boyd waited stank of old sheep droppings, but there was fresh hay, courtesy of a farmer who’d been paid far too much for it. The vampire was invisible in the shadows as he watched the unconscious, bound thieves.

Russell hurried to his personal Hummer. His prosthesis complained and made the rest of his leg ache. He hardly cared. When he entered the barn, his flashlight showed three unconscious men dumped into the fresh hay. Boyd was sitting on the edge of a trough, in deeper shadows, waiting. When the light passed across his face, he grinned. Shimmering metal caught the light. In spite of himself, Russell almost drew the .45 he carried.

“Good morning, sir. I thought you’d like to see what scares the shit out of people,” he said. He opened his mouth, in a menacing metal smile.

“My God, Boyd. Where’d those fangs come from?”

“My friend in New Orleans had them fitted for me right after she’d transformed me. It was sort of a joke, but not quite,”

Boyd snapped the sinister appliance out of his mouth and replaced it with his normal white teeth. As he looked at the major, his eyes had the fading glow of cooling fires.

“How’d you get these three big bastards here?” Russell said.

“Carried them. As soon as you signed off, I took the bags of food back to the warehouse and locked the door. The bags are in a cooler, but probably not in the right place. Someone will have to sort that out later. I wore the latex gloves you gave me and took the pictures you wanted. We have their fingerprints. I took down their ladder and threw it over the fence into the compound. I draped two on my right shoulder and one on my left and came here.”

“Damn, that’s over a mile,” Russell said.

“No problem, I was still a bit pissed. Now, I’m getting hungry though. Do you suppose we can arrange for a clean, live sheep?”

“My treat,” Russell said.

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