Bitten Under Fire(4)

By: Heather Long

Corporal Kaitlyn “Kat” Amador, the team’s intelligence officer as well as mate to the team’s captain, Jax, vetted all of their ops now. Someone somewhere in the government’s hierarchy suspected the team’s origins and capabilities. After running into a trap on a previous op, the team had taken a more circumspect approach. They went where they were ordered, but they wouldn’t go in blind.

“Are we sure only the boy was taken?” This from the fourth and final member of the team, Jeremiah. The dark-skinned wolf had a bland, almost studious attitude, which belayed a vicious and brutal fighter. Though often a man with few words to offer, he didn’t miss much and often zeroed in on nuances Cage or the others might not see.

“Maybe,” Butler hedged. If he had any hesitancy in the answer, it was because Kat’s gut told her something was off. “The resort hadn’t done a full accounting of their guests. The event the ambassador attended also included some two hundred other individuals not staying at the resort.”

“Which means we trust Kat’s gut on this.” Cage didn’t have to explain why. During her initial training with the team, Kat impressed them all. It took a great deal of stamina and character for a human to not only run with the wolves but also prove herself invaluable. She’d done both. “Our primary objective is to rescue the kid. If we find any others with him, we get them out, too.”

They all nodded.

Though he hated the idea of a child in danger, Cage needed to compartmentalize the primitive reaction. Only 110 percent focus on their mission promised to achieve success. “Now for the rub, we each have an item of the child’s in sealed containers. We have no idea where they took him. Satellite imagery didn’t find him, and without more information on his kidnappers, it’s up to us. We’re dropping five klicks from the resort perimeter, but inside the park. We’re going to have to go old school on this and track the kid. Weather may work against us. No rain has been reported in the hours since they took him, but that’s not going to last.”

Cage and his team deployed as soon as they had their orders, but it had taken hours before the request for their Bravo team even arrived.

“Our mission is strictly search and rescue.” Repeating the command might not be necessary, but it also reinforced his control—and his wolf’s. “If we get intelligence on these guys, fine. If we take some out, fine. Once we have the kid, though, we run and get him out.” They could go back later for the mop up.

No argument from the other wolves, not when it involved a child. The team might be comprised of wolves from different packs, some of whom didn’t get along with each other, but on the team they’d become allies and brothers-in-arms. Cage trusted them to have his back and he would have theirs. They would not fail.

Cage wouldn’t allow them to. Not only was the rescue important, but he’d waited too long for the opportunity to prove his value. Jax wouldn’t be captain forever, and Cage had his eye on that position. The son of an alpha, Cage had been born to lead.

“Ten minutes.” The pilot’s warning kicked them into action. Final checks of gear were a habit. They checked before they armed themselves. They checked again when they boarded the helo, and they would review before they rappelled into the jungle. Once they were on the ground, they were on their own.

How they liked it.

Determination and attention to detail paid off in success. This wasn’t their first rodeo. Cage rolled his head from side to side. His wolf had been absolutely silent since they received the deployment orders. It wouldn’t last; it never did. His wolf, like Cage, preferred to assess every situation, weigh the pros and cons, then react. Growing up, he’d never been the wolf most likely to fly off the handle. Pack education required wolves to study with others of equal age—it helped in dominance issues as well as encouraged healthy competition while bonding the packmates. When fights broke out in his year group, it hadn’t been because he couldn’t control his temper.

But he’d finished every fight he’d ever been dragged into.

Twenty minutes after their drop, Silver caught the scent. They’d ventured as close to the resort as possible while remaining out of sight. Their presence was not to be advertised, which suited Cage fine. With four on the team, two traveled on four feet while Cage and Butler moved on two carrying their extra gear and weapons. Though in wolf form his sense of smell would be stronger, they were all more than capable of tracking scent in their human forms. Still, it was better to cover all their bases.