Hands poked at her body. Her tail was lifted in the air and then dropped. The same thing done with a paw. Then the hands picked her up and carried her. She could smell the tooth-spitters they carried. The burnt stone smell mingled with the scent of men, musky, like the sweat of a badger. The crisp smell of urine flowed from one of the men.

She knew that man. He was the one she had warned away from Michael and the not-cub. He hadn’t put his hands on her. She knew that too. From the smell of him, he was two metres in front of her. The crunch of the snow under his boots had a nervous quality to it, as if the sound itself shivered.

After a time, the motion of the men stopped and she felt herself placed on a cold surface.

 

 

“Get in the chopper, Harris.”

Sergeant Thomas Jenkins didn’t understand. His men weren’t cowards. But four of them had died in less than three minutes. That didn’t seem possible. Nothing he had fought had ever been that fast, nor that deadly, not unless it was missile based. True, two of the deaths had been from a rifle. The poor sod using it had been taken out by a wolf bigger than the one on the chopper floor. But the thing that had attacked Michael Scott was dead. Without a brainpan, it was just an oddity for the taxidermist. Gerund had mentioned a woman or a wolf that travelled with Michael Scott. A wolf was in the chopper. Jenkins didn’t know anything about a second animal. Or what Harris was ranting about . . . the man was tech support, not recon. Why did the company let people cross train without the skills? Jenkins just shook his head.