The Wolves of War

This is the beginning of Brad’s story in WW1. I wrote it for the Baen fantasy award and decided to finally write another story for that. So I am posting this here. I will almost certainly write more of this story. The contest had an 8000 word limit.

The Wolves Of War, A Tale Of The Great War.
December 1932.
The Chateau.
The grand lady Gwynne stood in the door, waiting without servants for her visitor. She watched as the blond lady walked up from the car. Why the approaching woman wanted to have a discussion with her was more than a bit of a mystery. The two could hardly be called friends. On the other hand the two had known each other since the woman and her bonded had had a wonderful week here and the lady expected that the woman wanted to review the events of the war and what had gone on since she was here for other reasons. The lady called out, “So what brings you to my home, milady?”
“Bill and Louis are doing some clean up of some of your nasty neighbors and I thought that we could have a chat.”
“What about?”
“My bonded, Brad and the events of the war. After all, you gave us a week here when you didn’t have to. I can hardly talk with the Colonel about the things he did, as he is no longer with us, my aunt is dead, by mother’s hand, and there are really very few people left that I can talk to about my bonded. Most of his fellow soldiers are dead, at least the members of his pack are dead and the Colonel’s men are as well. But I thought that I would have a chat about the events and why they happened while Bill does his clean up.”
“Won’t he need you?”
“I don’t think so. His French is much better, the local police know Louis and the Surate are more than a bit in awe of Bill already. It’s just a lich nest in any case.”
The lady grinned.“The German Master may get annoyed at you.”
“I think that he will have to bear it. I doubt that he would want to attract mother’s attention right now, in any case.”
“True. I am glad that your mother left as soon as the events in Le Havre were over.”
“She no longer had a reason to stay. She also wanted to get Gretel home and safe. That was the only thing that my aunt really wanted from us.”
“So why don’t I call for some tea and we start. Where should we start?”
“ I think at the village where the colonel put Brad and I together. He was probably a bit put out that Brad didn’t eat me.”
“A bit. I think that he expected that Brad would at least take you in rape and then it would be easier to create werewolves. What happened to the other girls?”
“I don’t know. Mary and Helmut haven’t told me. I think for the girls’ sake, if nothing else. I believe that they are safe at least they are safe from the Masters. Why don’t we start?”
“Where should we start?”
“You were there when Brad was recruited and bonded with me.”
“That was more than a bit of a surprise.”
“I think that the Colonel overreached. Brad was still tied to the family’s keystone and when the opportunity for a good and solid bond came along, namely, me, things clicked. It didn’t hurt that Brad’s mother had lived close to our family when she was young and the keystone saw me as suitable. That saved us both.”

April 1918
The induction .
The sergeant looked over no man’s land through the periscope. It was another quiet day on this sector of the Western Front. Brad had been stationed ahead in the forward trench as lookout, but nobody was expecting very much as the big offensive that the Hun was putting together were down the trench line. The occasional shell went off in the distance as heavy artillery dueled with each other as to which side could make the largest shell hole today. The big French rail gun that had been brought into the sector last week seemed to have that locked down, but the sergeant imagined that the Jerries would bring up their own big gun all too soon.
Since there wasn’t much happening for the moment, the Sergeant sat down beside the periscope to continue his letter to Arnie Stiller. Arnie had been his best friend since they were kids and had actually joined up when Brad had been drafted, saying that he was going to have Brad’s back. He was stationed at second division HQ as a staff sergeant. He had just sent a very interesting letter about the rumors of wolves on the front, taking soldiers. Brad finished the letter and then returned to the periscope as the evening approached.
As he was looking over the bleak landscape in the growing darkness, he suddenly saw what looked like a pack of dogs or wolves weaving in and out, dodging the machine gun fire and ever more frantic rifle fire, some of which hit, but the creatures that were hit got right up again. Suddenly there were wolves in the trench and the sergeant reached for his pistol just before things went black.
When the sergeant woke up in a bit of surprise, he was struck by the blond vision in front of him. Any girl would have been amazing, but this was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and the affinity was strong. His bond was the last thing that he would have expected here at the front. Brad looked at the girl and said, “Who are you?”
The vision replied in his mother’s German, “Hilda, Hilda Pixxe. Who are you?”
“Bradley Benton, sergeant, 3456973.”
Name rank and serial number, just in case somebody else was listening. Brad was fairly sure that somebody was keeping an eye on them. Just who and why was a mystery.
“Do you know why we are here?”
“Where are we?”
“In a village that has been damaged by the war. I think that we are the only ones here.”
Is the door locked?”
“No, it is not.”
“I think that we should explore while it is daylight and then I think that we should separate and you should find a good place to hide.”
“Because it is the 26th and full moon tonight. I think that I see what is going on.”
“What is going on?”
“Soon the blood will rise and I have probably been Turned. This is how they make werewolves. The boss werewolf Turns the victims and then has the monster feed on an innocent. The monster will overcome me and I will hunt you.”
“I think that we have bonded. At least I feel for you more than I should.”
“I do as well. Do you have Change?”
“Not as yet. I am just seventeen”
“Where is your family? You are obviously high fae.”
“Gone. My keystone was taken by the dark and the family driven apart, like so many others. If there are other members of my family, I have not been able to find them. The same goes for members of the community. There are still some loyal retainers at the family home and some businesses to support me. Then I was taken and brought here. What about yours?”
“My family is intact, over in America, but has been attacked. We thought it was random, but there is something bigger going on. My mother’s family, over here has disappeared as well. There may be an aunt still alive, but we could not find her.”
“I have a solution to the monster perhaps. When the Change starts, we complete the bond. I will Change as well and you will not hunt me. That way the monster will be restrained somewhat.”
“Are you asking me to rape you?”
“We are bonded. By some miracle that happened. Our joinings will never be rape because we will always desire them. If you go through hell, we will both go through hell, together. Mother always said how much stronger the bond made her and I never understood. I understand now and whatever happens, we have each other now.”
“This was rather sudden.”
“That does not mean that it is not a good thing. I was unprotected and you had vulnerabilities because you did not have a bond. We cannot remover the Twist and the monster, but we can tame it, together.”
The couple explored the village. The small row of houses had been hit some time ago by shell fire and most of the houses and buildings were ruined shells. The noise of the war could be heard in the distance as a constant low grumble. As Brad looked through the village, he said, “Somebody has done some house cleaning. All the tools and even the silverware has been taken.”
Hilda blinked. “The silverware?”
“The werewolf Change becomes unstable and cannot regenerate when punctured by silver. Quite a few of the Twisted Changes are like that. If there had been even a bread knife, the monster would have been at risk. Somebody wanted to avoid the risk. They were very thorough, even digging up the kitchens to make sure that there weren’t any silver things.”
“Do you think that they have used this place before?”
“Right now, I am certain of it. The rumors were that they had taken quite a few French, English and now Americans. Just why whoever wants werewolves is a bit interesting. The only reason I can think of is to use them as attackers of fae communities.”
“The dark has done that, along with other things. They infiltrate and taint, then send in the monsters and strike, taking the keystone and shattering the communities. They did it to my kingdom and they have done it to others that I have discovered in my travels.”

As the darkness neared they returned to the house. Hilda spread a blanket and undressed. The sergeant could feel the monster rising and let the Change take its course as the monster mated with the girl. The girl underwent her own Change and the two wolves went into the night looking for prey. A faun was unlucky and the two returned to the house sated and exhausted to sleep. When they awoke, there were two men and a woman with them. The man said in German, “This is a surprise, milady Gywnne. I expected that the young man would be covered in the young lady’s blood and the guilt would have driven him to madness. In any case, Hans, you must return him to his lines with the others.”
“Yes, father.”
“Who are you?” the sergeant asked.
“You can call me the Colonel. I have taken control of your life as I will need you, or at least somebody like you for some tasks. We will discuss it at a later time. Go with my son and then forget everything that happened here. Welcome to the pack, Bradley.”
The sergeant woke up on the borders of no man’s land, naked, as a patrol went by and then a man called out, “We’ve got another one, sarge!”
That was the beginning of Brad’s life in hell.
December 1932.
The Chateau.
Hilda sipped her tea and looked at the lady. “After that, I was an enigma for the Colonel. He wasn’t even sure if I could be used to create werewolves. So the Colonel put me with the other ladies and looked for more recruits. He had some failures and then a bit of a setback.”
Gwynne returned the look, “I’ve always wondered about that. Captain Macdougal seemed to appear out of nowhere, high fae, bonded and very capable. Do you know more about the man?”
“Quite a bit, actually, most of which, I think that some people would rather I not say anything about. He essentially had his bond fostered by his high fae mother with his mother’s very high fae best friend, who hadn’t bonded for a couple of centuries. The families were seafolk who were high fae and an important part of the bower. The Director arranged for the death of Al’s parents before he and his bonded could close the deal, he was in the army, rather than the navy and separated himself from his life on the sea, somewhat. As for being capable, he certainly is, especially when it comes to controlled violence. He is, truly, shoot for the trouble.”
“So that night he dealt with the Colonel’s raid was typical?”
“Why don’t we go over it and find out.”
July 1918
The Raid.
The captain turned to his second in command and said, “Sam, if they come any night, it’s going to be tonight.”
“More than likely. Who did you piss off on Blackjack’s staff to get us this crappy job?”
“The general knows me. I was on his little thing when we were chasing that rat, Pancho Villa around Mexico.”
“Not catching him, too.”
“We weren’t really trying that hard. If we caught him quickly, the thing would be over and we couldn’t use as the thing cover for getting the troops out and figuring things out in the desert. While we were chasing the clever rat, we were playing with radios, airplanes and trucks. That was experience that we needed before we went to war. By the time Villa handed us the opportunity, some people knew that we needed it.”
“That explains getting all those men out in the desert.”
“The army was out of practice frankly, there was a bunch of new stuff that was going on over here that we needed to catch up on and Villa gave the brass an excuse to use live ammo and treat things as if they were real.”
“How come you are still a captain?”
“When I started in the army, the thing was a bit of a social club and rank didn’t matter very much. Of course, I am very good at these crappy jobs and the brass wants to keep me and what I do a bit discreet if they can. A major or colonel commanding a company attracts attention that we don’t really want. That being said, upstairs would love to put Oak leaves on my collar if I would let them. If we get the character over there, I’m probably on the next transport home so that I can train people to do my job. That’s what I was doing after Villa. The general knows what I do to trouble. The Colonel has become trouble to shoot. Villa was never quite enough trouble to be worth shooting once we took out most of his organization.”
“I see what’s going on. I think that I will get to my hidey before it gets too much darker.”
Al watched as Sam made a bent over walk toward his hidey and went to his own. If the Colonel followed his usual practice, he would have set up an attack someplace else as a diversion and indeed, here in the dugout underneath his hidey, a fake tree, the telegraph was tapping out its tale of confusion and death. As the darkness grew, Al climbed up into the fake tree and joined his spotter looking out over the other side’s trenches.
Al let his eyes adjust as the darkness grew. He peered out into the darkness and when he sensed movement out of the German trenches, tapped out the first code on the portable telegraph key that shared his hidey. As he sensed the werewolves in the darkness entering the trench and realizing that the troops that were supposed to be there were Paper Mache, as well as finding the first booby traps, he tapped out the code for light and flares started to rocket into the sky and light made the startled werewolves visible. The captain picked up his rifle and Joe, his spotter said, “There on the right, that big one.”
Chaos followed as the werewolves and the sturmtrups following them suddenly found themselves either out in the open, in trenches filled with booby traps and barbed wire, or in shell holes filled with other surprises. Machine gun fire went off from the bunkers in the third trench line and the werewolves started to realize that they were not invulnerable to rifle fire as they expected as they dropped with one or two hits. The star shells continued, keeping things lit as the Captain’s snipers and their support took their toll. The werewolves started to retreat when the mortar and artillery fire started, dropping shells into the trenches, no man’s land and their trenches in front of them as they were trying to return to them. Behind the retreating werewolves, men poured back into the first trench line and started firing with rifles and machine guns. Finally everything became quiet as what was left of the raiders disappeared in the dark.
The next morning was not pleasant as four of the captain’s people had disappeared. He turned to his second in command and said, “Everybody else accounted for, Sam?”
“We didn’t even lose any. We found their hidey’s and they looked as if the men were dragged out. By the way, all four were fae, without bonds.”
“That was what I was afraid of. Damn. If things go the way they have been we’ll be seeing them all too soon.”
At that moment a runner from headquarters came up and handed the captain a message. He looked at Sam and said, “The Colonel would like to have a chat with us tomorrow and return the boys. Apparently that big cheese wolf I shot was his son and he wants the body. Set it up, would you. The body is over there. By the way, I imagine that intelligence will want a picture of the Colonel.”
The next morning, the captain and a squad marched out with the body on a stretcher to a dead tree in the middle of no man’s land. They were covered by the rest of the company. From the other side a man in a Colonel’s uniform approached accompanied by the missing four men and a squad accompanied by a man in a captain’s uniform. The Colonel said, “Are you Captain MacDougal?”
“You seem to lack ambition. You are a bit old to still be a captain.”
“I get my job done, as you discovered. Rank can get in the way and I don’t need a large command to do my job. Other guys can have the stars and the big jobs.”
“I see. Here are your men. I assume that you will take care of them, unlike some others.”
The captain looked at the men and sensed the Twist. He wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with that as he looked back at the Colonel. The Colonel didn’t seem to care what the captain was thinking as the little party returned to their trench. As the captain turned to return to the trench on the allied side, Sergeant Jones, the most senior of the four said, “Al, we go back a long time. Back to the Cape, since we were kids together. I and the other boys want you to do us a favor.”
“I’ll take care of you.”
“Leave us here. When you get back to the trench, shoot us all. Then arrange for some shellfire. There’s no going back for us. Just do it and end this before the clowns in charge of those special units find out about us. We don’t remember what happened, but we all woke up after it was over with a dead kid, eaten and blood on our mouths. The monster made us monsters and there is no going back for us. Make his life hell if you can. For me and the boys. Then tell my parents and the rest of the family what happened and about that character over there. He wanted us and I am not going to let him have us.”
It was not easy, but the captain did what was necessary.
December 1932.
The Chateau.
Milady Gwynne smiled at Hilda. “Of course, your bonded was looking for ways to confound the Colonel.”
“Yes he was. General Vickers has told me some of it and Brad told me the rest. Even though Brad had been told to forget the initiation, the Colonel made the mistake of making such a big mess of things that it wasn’t hard for Brad and his people to track down who was responsible for them being what they were.”

September 1918
The general watched as what used to be men were marched down the communications trenches. General Vickers turned to the man who shared the former Hindenberg line bunker that had been recently, with the connecting trench, been taken and held against the nasty German counter attack. “Al, upstairs must think that the Jerries are going to want this back.”

“I don’t know, general. They may just be sending these poor boys over the top to cause trouble and get themselves killed. I don’t think that certain people want to risk some of these men going home and exposing certain things.”
The sector had been quiet of late and looking across the trenches with his binoculars, the general watched as a cat stood up and stalked off down the German trenches. He smiled. “A lot of fuss over a cat.”
The major looked over the trenches at the cat. “The cat attracted attention and the plane boys took some pictures of a fancy new headquarters, probably full of rats. So they called the wolves out. That squad looks interesting.”
The general looked at the squad that the major was pointing to. Rather than the just the shoes and ponchos that the others had, these men had helmets and the metal body armor that they had taken from German soldiers who no longer had a need for them and shotguns. “I’m surprised that they let them have the shotguns.”
“There’s that rumor going around that Ludendorf had sent an order around that men carrying shotguns would be shot if captured because they violate some rules of war.”
The general laughed. “The rules that gas shells, flamethrowers, and invading your neutral neighbors don’t violate? Of course I won’t mention how those poor boys became what they were in the first place.”
The General turned to his adjutant who standing behind him, “Lieutenant, what squad is that?”
The adjutant consulted some papers and said, “The twelfth DD section, Sergeant Benton commanding. The twelfth has a good reputation. They are tasked with attacking the headquarters directly.”
“That explains the shotguns. The twelfth? He’s lasted a long time in the Dirty Dozens. What are they up to, about 100?”
“The latest unit formed in the prison battalions is the 105th , poor boys.”
“So two thousand odd good men taken by that bastard, the Colonel, turned into monsters and then dumped back where they became our problem. They deserve better. At least we managed to give the Colonel a bloody nose and shut him down. Al, has he tried to start up again down the line?”
“HQ would call me if he started something serious. I think that Pershing’s people think of me as some sort of Colonel expert, simply because I figured out what he was going to do and we baited him.”
“That’s better than anybody else has managed. You killed his son as well.”
“I didn’t shoot his son because I knew that he was the Colonel’s son, I shot him because he was a boss werewolf, giving orders to the others and he stayed just a bit too long in my kill zone, giving those orders. I probably didn’t even need a special for the shot.”
“They promoted you for it. The French gave you a medal.”
“So did the Brits and Pershing handed me a silver star for that night. My main goal was to stop the Colonel that night and I did. I also had to shoot four of my people who the Colonel did manage to get his hands on so, they wouldn’t end up like these poor sods and I could make sure that their families were taken care of. All four of them were old friends of mine.”
“The Colonel seems to have backed off.”
“General, I think he’s tried to set some more of his things up. I have some friends in intelligence and we are going to have to get together about why he knows what units to hit and why a certain kind of people were concentrated in units like yours.”
“My staff knows. You can come out and tell me. The Colonel attacks units with high fae concentrations.”
“Not just concentrations of fae, but concentrations of high fae. Young Mr. Benton, over there, for instance. I haven’t had a good look at the records, but I come from Cape Cod and a seafolk family. Even though a big chunk of my family lives underwater, we know who our neighbors are and I imagine that somebody’s dad is asking the same kinds of questions we are.”
“Have you met the man?”
“No, have you?”
“No. I’ve been in the army and my family comes from the West. Our community started up in Texas.”
“The family up there has a certain reputation regarding dark fae and monsters, especially monsters. They’ve also had some rather fierce battles and had some family injured. There’s one aunt, for instance, that lives apart because of an affliction she received from a bite.”
“Vampire? What happened to the vampires?”
“From what my buddies tell me, the king was killed trying to rescue his daughter. The man’s son put together some people and destroyed the nest. Too late for his sister, though. His mother also died after it was over.”
“So he had to take over. He also destroyed the vampires and that isn’t easy. Even dealing with the singles that we get feeding off the armies is a problem.”
“I know, that is another of my little jobs that HQ set on me. It looks it’s time.”
“You’re right, dismissed.”
The sergeant watched the man leave the bunker. He pulled the sense string back and turned to his grinning corporal. “I think that we’re attracting the wrong kinds of attention again, George. We need to be careful if we want to stay alive.”
“Staying alive is not in our future, Brad. Making the black fae bastards pay for what happened to us is. Do you think that the Colonel’s boys will show up?”
“You did slip that message to Major Macdougal in the tapped line didn’t you? I bet that the Colonel doesn’t like the major very much. Maybe he doesn’t like him as much as we don’t like the Colonel.”
“We’ve tried for the Colonel. He’s slippery. We also can’t do it ourselves because our compulsions kick in. So if we can get the major to do it, all the better.”
“I keep having this feeling that the Colonel wanted us for something. There’s also some sort of collusion between some people in Washington and people over here. We need to live long enough to find out what and get the word out so that these people really get hurt. As for the major, the general too, for that matter, they seem like good men. I doubt that they can do very much but they are looking at the right things. I wish that I had my little brother here.”
“He doesn’t seem to be fae, but when he gets going, he’s unstoppable. He drives my sisters crazy. He’s also very good at working things out. Fortunately he’s only fifteen and too young to be drafted.”
“Is he bonded?”
“No, and since he is an unattached royal fae, which caused some problems at home, he is probably the biggest fae catch in the country right now. I can’t wait to see what kind of girl grabs him.”
“Let’s get us out of this mess first. I think that some Change is being ordered.”
The sergeant looked at where the corporal was pointing and the lieutenant saw him, pointed at his watch and held up five fingers. The second squad had two heavy machine guns and all the others were armed with BARs. But the first squad was used to that and understood why. The second squad was to make sure that first squad’s monsters didn’t get where they could hurt their own men or the civilians. The sergeant turned to the corporal and said, “gear up, we go in five minutes.”
“Nice of those sturmtrup characters to give us this nice armor that they didn’t need anymore, wasn’t it? Why did you think about taking it?”
“My dad has a similar set up for his fights with monsters and whatnot. You boys gear up, I want to talk to the lieutenant.”
The sergeant walked to where the second squad was set up and stood outside the perimeter of the guns. “Lieutenant, we’re good to go. If I don’t make it back, make sure that my diary gets home to my dad.”
“Brad, I’ll handle it. Be careful out there.”
“Has upstairs had any information on our furry friend?”
“They haven’t said. They don’t think that he is here, though. Now let’s get this done.”
The werewolves removed their ponchos and donned the metal sheets of armor and helmets that the sturmtrups no longer needed in the growing darkness. Then the appearances of the men became more wolflike as they went through their Changes and the Sergeant led them over the top and into the darkness and chaos in the bleak spaces and shell holes of no man’s land. Unlike the other squads, the sergeant’s wolves spread out and used cover to avoid the machine gun fire that started once the flares of star shells appeared in the sky. The sergeant spotted a machine gun and waved to the corporal and the sergeant and another wolf from the squad threw grenades into the machine gun pit as the Corporal ran from cover to cover to draw the gun’s attention then the sergeant and the other man jumped down into the nest and finished the job with their shotguns. The sergeant looked at the other man and said, “Secure this, Bill, I need to keep going. Rig a charge so that the other boys don’t have it shooting at us again.”
“I wish that we could take it home, but these Maxims are just too heavy.”
The sergeant laughed and ran on. It looked as if his section was doing well and it was a bit of a surprise when Ed, his second corporal came up with something they rarely handled, prisoners. “These boys just gave up.”
“That’s a surprise.”
The sergeant did a quick scan of the three prisoners and two of them had shields. The sergeant pulled Ed aside and said, “Run them back to the lieutenant, but tell him that two of the fellows are fae. They may be pulling a fast one.”
“I should have checked for that. I’ll run them back and pass the word that any prisoners we take may be fae.”
The corporal left with his section and prisoners. The sergeant and his section headed on to the battalion headquarters that had been his assigned objective and started to pull any and all papers and stuff them in a satchel. When the first one was full, he handed it to one of his men and started in on another. By the time the sergeant was finished, the third satchel was crammed. The five werewolves left the dugout and headed back to friendly trenches.
Since the raid was a surprise and the Huns were dealing with the major offensives elsewhere, the sergeant’s squad didn’t lose any wolves, this time. By the time the sun rose, the squad was back in the trench and the area over in German trenches was quiet until the trenches were suddenly pounded by shell fire and there was a surge of yelling and shooting as the sturmtrups followed the shell fire, shooting any werewolves stupid enough to stop for a meal in the German trenches. Division artillery and the 75mm fired over the heads of the squads as they headed toward the rear, guarded by their second sections even as they were outside Change. The troops marched through the communication trenches toward the rear and the waiting canteens and trucks back to the special barracks that held the werewolves until the next time. As the sergeant and his men emerged from trench, the lieutenant was waiting with his hand out. “I think that the brass will be uncomfortable with you people having guns.”
The sergeant and the rest of the werewolves handed the shotguns over to the waiting section, as well as the satchels full of the things obtained from the HQ bunker. As the handover was finishing up, the sergeant said, “Make sure that you have the guns cleaned. It was raining a bit out there. Here’s the haul for intelligence.”
“This will make them happy. You got what they wanted. The other squads were essentially diversions.”
“The other squads don’t fight the monsters and the monsters can be stupid. My father said that you should never give into despair and take the time to not be stupid.”
“Heads up, the general’s here!”
All the soldiers stood up and came to attention. The general called out, “At ease gentlemen and go about your business!”
With that, everything returned to normal as the general and the major walked over to the sergeant and the lieutenant. “You had a good dust up out there last night.”
“We made it through alive.”
“Yes you did, which means that you were exerting a fair degree of restraint on your men and they were exerting restraint on themselves, something that your fellow afflicted don’t seem to have learned. Two of the squads were wiped out last night and most of the rest were decimated, yet your people came out without a scratch and with the objective taken. You also took some rather interesting steps to make that happen.”
“I’m not sure what you mean?”
“The helmets, the body armor and the guns. None of the others bothered with something like body armor. Or guns, for that matter.”
“I refuse to let the monsters win. My father would be rather upset with me if I did, that is both the monster inside us and the monsters that have put us where we are. My men and I have an agreement about that. One part of that is that if the monster looks to be out of control, we are to arrange for our deaths.”
“Being what you are, that is going to be rather difficult. Since you are heir, I doubt that your keystone will allow you to commit suicide, you are probably very hard to kill and there are very few that will have the power to change that.”
“The major here, probably. There are some others I’ve encountered. The problem we have is that the fae that came over here are for the most part, without bonds and there haven’t been any fae girls around.”
“You’ve noticed.”
“What did those characters we captured say.”
“I haven’t had a chance to talk with them yet. I also want to keep them under wraps. There is something strange with the fae here and I want to know where they all are. There’s also this flu that is spreading around. In any case, you did good work and the major and I thank you. We will leave you to your well earned meal.”
As the general and major left the tent, the general said, “Al, I wish that we had known about men like him being drafted before things got over here. We will have to be discreet about this, but the War Department is going to have to get a look over by some people that I know about. I will send a discreet message soon.”
“That might be tricky, general. You don’t have anybody in brigade that makes routine trips to Le Havre, let alone the states. We don’t want to send this over the wires where the censors can look at it. Or other eyeballs that we don’t know.”
“The problem is that we can see the results over here, but we can’t tell anybody. At least we have a handle on the Colonel getting fae to Turn into monsters.”
“Have you been able to convince the worrywarts that some sort of special housing and restraining the boys only during that bad time of the month would be better than keeping them locked up?”
“Not an iota and I can’t find the character on the staff responsible. They are either dark fae and hiding or compelled and I haven’t found them yet. That task hasn’t been made easier because I’m here and whoever is setting the policy is at HQ and may not be in our army.”
“You think that it is somebody from the French?”
“Somebody local could make a bigger case about civilians getting murdered by loose werewolves. I think that whoever is responsible for the werewolves has plans for them.”
“That’s going to be rough if they are all dead.”
“I don’t think that they will be. For that matter, if the Colonel is behind this, he probably wants fit werewolves and he’s playing survival of the fittest and strongest.”
“If I were planning to infiltrate monsters, I would want tough monsters rather than a lot of monsters.”
“I suspect that they want sneaky tough high fae monsters to plague people like the sergeant’s family and my bower.”
“How would they use werewolves against a bower?”
“I don’t know about most of them, but the Cape has a large up top presence and half of our royal family is lander. The rest spends a fair amount of time up top. Of course the bower dealt with a dark fae attack a long time ago and the old man is about as sneaky as they come.”
“Are you talking about Noro White?”
“That’s the man. In any case, I expect that the Colonel and his people are going to be a bit disappointed by what they get from the effort that they are spending here.”
“We will still need to look into this when we get back. Discreetly, of course.”
“Very discreetly. There’s something bigger going on here and we will want to know what, and who’s doing it.”
December 1932.
The Chateau.
The woman looked at the Lady. “Of course our wonderful week here happened right after that. Why did you arrange that, milady?”
“ I wanted to see what the effects of your bond would have on the werewolf affliction. The effects were rather interesting. You almost overcame the affliction and tamed the monster. I suspect that if you had joined your bonded at home, when he went back, you would have.”
“We have several cases now where the monster has been tamed. I suspect that the bonds reduce the monster’s power greatly.”
“Of course your son was conceived here then. You did not bring him with you.”
“There are things that would make that a bit difficult, not least of which is that he bonded with a mermaid heir to a bower and they need him thanks to the efforts of your associates.”
“He sounds like an interesting young man.”
“You have no idea. The last year was a lot of fun.”
The Chateau.
September 1918.
Brad woke up to a vision again. Hilda was beside him in a very fancy bed in a very fancy room. “Wake up sleepyhead.”
“Where are we?”
“You sir, are on leave and I, your girlfriend, has joined you.”
“Dirty Dozens don’t get leave, let alone a stay in a place like this.”
“Did you forget me?”
“Somewhat, but not entirely. I knew that there was somebody special on the other side of the line. Of course there was no way that I could reach you. Where do you live?”
“For the time being, at the old family estate in Germany. It is in Bavaria. When the time comes, look for me there.”
“What about the war?”
“It will be over soon. The people at home have reached an end and the generals’ scheming is starting to fall on deaf ears.”
“The front seems to have the same story. The French, the German’s, the Austrians are all worn out. The big offensives earlier this year were the end. Nobody has anything left now, really. Only we Americans have really fresh troops.”
“Why did this war go like this?”
“Nobody wanted to be the first to say, enough. I think that all the countries think that the first one who does, will be punished by the “victors.” They are probably right about that, especially now. Too much blood and treasure has been spent on this mess and nobody can really win anymore. So the war goes on, with more horrors and bodies.”
“The werewolves, for instance, that the Colonel has made of us and others. There are other horrors that have been sent against the fae and the seafolk”
“I don’t think that we were what the Colonel expected.”
“You sir, are on leave, and we should not waste the moment. We can discuss this at another time.”
Hilda kissed Brad and they went on making love until they both Changed and the room filled with their howls. As they were enjoying the afterglow, and themselves, there was a discreet knock on the door. Milady, milord, we have breakfast here for you and the lady would like a brief chat with you for lunch.”
Hilda looked at Brad. “Should we go in Change?”
“While that may be fun, I think that we should be a bit more formal than that, at least for today. The rest of the week may be a different story. Go get our breakfast.”
Brad went to the door and opened it to find a tray of rather uncooked rabbits, nicely done eggs and fresh toasted bread with a rather large pot of jam. Hilda looked at the tray. “I think that they want to spoil us.”
“After what they feed us in the army, this is heaven. When we get home, mother will make you the best breakfast ever.”
“Not you?”
“My efforts may come up a bit short. I tend to lack my mother’s touch with bacon.”
They consumed the rabbits and the rest, Changed and dressed. Then Brad took the tray down to the kitchen and said “Merci beaucoup. The breakfast was wonderful.”
There was as a man waiting at the door who said, “I am Louis. I protect this place. The lady has requested a brief audience and then I am to show you around.”
Hilda grinned.“I think that we should see the lady who is providing us with this wonderful opportunity to be together, Brad.”
“Who is she?”
“I cannot say anything very much about all of it since I promised not to, but the conversation should be interesting.”
Brad went with the strange man and his bonded out the door of the guest house where they were staying and over to a large chateau where they were taken to a reception room where a very elegant woman was seated. “Welcome. I am Gwynne De Le Sorci, mistress of this place.”
Brad looked at the woman. “So why have you had us brought together here, Milady?”
“To see something perhaps a bit different. The Colonel did not expect you to bond. He provided Hilda to your recruitment as a potential increase in the power of the werewolf Twist. It did not turn out that way. You bonded instead, even though Mademoiselle Pixxe does not have a strong tie to a keystone at present. At least she did not. She certainly does now, through you. I wonder if the Colonel considered the implications of turning a royal fae and heir. He was looking for the most powerful fae to turn, but I don’t think he thought the implications through.”
“I’m certain that he did not. If my father even gets an inkling that my being drafted was not a random event, there may be consequences for the Colonel and his associates.”
“I doubt that he has the kind of power that could reach over here. At least not now.”
“My father can find friends if he needs them. He also has good connections with the local political people and because we live in a small state, that influence extends to the Capital. For that matter, there is my mother’s old estate that my father could use as a base once the war is over and any of my mother’s family that might turn up if he shows up. If I were these folks I would be a bit nervous about what he might do and when.”
‘I will tell my associates. They may want to cause your father some problems.”
“That would be a grave mistake. My father has a way of dealing with problems and the problems tend to end up getting shot, one way or another.”
The meal switched to small talk and a discussion of the local wines and then the lady said, “I don’t want to waste time that will be precious, so why don’t we have another chat just before Brad’s leave is up at the end of the week.”
With that the couple had a wonderful week of runs, cuddles and howls in the woods. The couple Ran through the woods, hunted and just enjoyed themselves. The second morning, They released their Changes and the groom handed them horses so that they could explore the neighborhood. Louis was an ever present eye on them, but Brad had a bit of a solution for that. He scrounged up some materials and made some random things that went bang and were more than bit of a distraction. At dinner that evening, Louis wagged his finger at them and said, “Please do not show the children here how to make those things.”
Brad grinned. “I don’t think that I will have time.”
“You must have interesting artificers and Creators where you live.”
“That is my brother actually. He makes those things to go after my sister.”
“I hope that your brother never comes to France then.”
“I don’t know where he plans to travel. He is only fifteen in any case.
After the last night, the sergeant woke up in the barracks, with the whole thing seeming to be a dream.
December 1932.
The Chateau.
The lady said, “You were a happy couple that week.”
“War does that. We had to take our happiness where we could find it. Merci for giving us the opportunity. That was the one real peaceful week that we had. The rest was taken by the Colonel and the war. It was lucky for the Colonel that I was rather helpless then.”
“You didn’t shoot the colonel when he came to the farm. Nor did you hunt him.”
“I didn’t need to. He had kidnapped Tom’s bonded, the poor fool. Tom and Chrissie were going to deal with him and they did. He would have been looking for me. He thought that he probably knew me. He did not know Tom.”
“The reports were rather strange.”
“Tom does that, the poor Colonel. He should have talked with some of the people in Berlin. They know who Tom is. But that was the Colonel at the end, where he was out of time and resources, and in the process of failing in the task that you all pressed on him. Brad was a different story.
“Tell me about that.”
“I think that Bill is waiting with Louis for their well deserved accolades. We can discuss the rest over dinner this evening.”

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