It took me two weeks to make it to the Eastern border of the Forest Pack territory. I gave it a wide berth as I made my to the border checkpoint. Rounding the corner of a huge pile of boulders, I saw the cabin I had been told about. I cautiously made my way over and sniffed around it, but I smelled nothing but food inside. Sighing, I nudged the door open and shifted once I was inside with the door closed.
Looking around, I found a cot against one wall, a crate, and a fridge. I went directly to the fridge and found it full of food. Grabbing a slab of raw meat, I dug into it as I opened the crate. Inside I found clothing, a plethora of spy equipment and a rifle case. I pulled the case out and found that a sniper rifle lay inside with ammo. So, that was how I was supposed to kill them. Easy enough and I wouldn’t have to get close to them. I pulled out the clothes and found a duffel underneath. I finished the meat and hurriedly put the clothes on. I was mildly surprised that they fit me perfectly and I surmised that the old woman had stocked it. I grabbed a smaller slab and a bottle of water and sat on the cot.
Eating, I thought about everything that had happened. I had died and had a conversation with Mother Earth. She told me that I needed to kill the leaders of the pack after I had made my way to Manassas. I had until Spring before I could kill them once the opportunity had showed itself. I was to learn everything I could about what was happening in Manassas, which was where the woman, Clarke Griffin and her friends were from. I didn’t understand how they could even have made it that far without anyone knowing. I was also supposed to learn something important in that city, but wasn’t told what. I had a destiny and it apparently was tied in with whatever destiny that the Forest Pack was unaware of.
All this thinking was giving me a headache and I laid down to sleep.
I sat up straight as the memory of Nyx killing her own people assaulted my mind for the fifth time since I fell asleep yesterday. I was sweating from it and my heart was racing. I pulled my knees to my chest and laid my head on them as I caught my breath and calmed my heart. This had never happened to me before, reliving a memory. I didn’t know why this was happening to me. It wasn’t just that memory. I was forced to dream about everything I’d done to Forest Pack to bring them down. From the manipulations at their Western Border to recruiting Gustus. It had to be Mother Earth’s doing. There was no other reason because those events never bothered me before.
I shook my head to clear it and pulled food and drink from the fridge. I sat back on the cot and tried to guess just how far I was from the border gate. As long as I continued to head south, I figured that I should come across the gate late afternoon depending on how well I remembered. After the gate it was another five miles before I could enter the territory unseen. I looked at the crate and sighed heavily. I would have to walk on my own two feet the entire way to Manassas because of the gear I needed to bring with me. Licking my hands clean, I kneeled in front of the crate and took out the duffel bag. I felt a crinkling in one of the side pockets and found a large plastic bag, big enough to hold the meat that was currently in the fridge. There was also a map of the territory that showed the points of interests I needed to focus on. I was right in figuring out that it would take me most of the day to reach the gate and there was a spot about a mile from the gate marked. It looked like it might be a place to hide and rest until morning. Upon further examination, I estimated that it would take me a week and half, maybe two to reach Manassas. Again, it notated the best cave to hide out in. There was also indications that a wall had been built over the central area of the town and several buildings were marked. I couldn’t make out what they were, but memorized their locations out of habit. There were also tools for camping and several more items of clothing, including an all weather jacket and an extra pair of boots. This bag was bigger than I had initially thought.
I immediately started placing the equipment inside and using the clothes made sure that the more sensitive objects were protected. Finally, I added the food and water. Zipping it up, I hefted it and found it to be relatively easy enough to carry without causing me too much strain. I strapped the rifle case crosswise over my shoulder and then slung the bag over that. I snug them both down and taking one last look around the cabin, I headed out the door and turned north.
The sun was beginning to set when I saw the border gate ahead of me. I found an outcropping of rocks that would give me a good view of it and made my way there. I laid my things on the ground and pulled out the binoculars from the bag. I watched them and studied their routines. Two guards manned the gate as another watched the horizon in a small tower. There was a radio tower to the south of the gate, meaning at least one person inside manning it. There was at least probably one more in the office that bridged behind the guard tower. All total five people manned the gate at any given time. There was a long building further inward that was partially obstructed from view. The guard barracks. As the sun dipped lower, four guards came from the barracks and relieved the other guards. This meant that sunset was when they changed guards. Now all I had to figure out how long they stood guard and how many actually manned the border. When I had learned everything I was going to, I pulled out the map and figured out where I was in relation to the place that I would spend the night. Scanning the area, I found the direction I needed to head and with one last glance at the guards, moved towards it. I didn’t reach the location until after night had fallen and found a small cave. I looked around, making sure that there was nobody nearby, and ducked into it. I pulled a small lantern out of the duffel and turned it on before I pulled out some food and water. When I was done, I listened for the night noises and identified them. Satisfied, I turned off the lantern and shifted. It was much warmer and comfortable to sleep as a wolf than huddled and cold as a woman. I slept lightly and only woke when the wildlife began to move about to find their breakfast.
I made my way back over to the gate and watched to make sure that nothing had happened over the night. Everything seemed normal and I started my five mile trek.
It felt wonderful to slip into the forest as I crossed the border and stopped a moment to take in the fresh, crisp air that only a forest could have. I didn’t stand there for long, I didn’t trust Mother Earth to be right that this was an unmanned area. I carefully made my way deeper into the forest and headed towards Manassas.
It took me two weeks to reach the edge of the forest that surrounded the town. I grabbed the binoculars and leaving my things hidden, I climbed a tree high enough to overlook the wall. I scanned the wall until I came to the closed gate. On either side of the gate stood two outposts manned by three guards each. Two of the guards stood lookout, east, north, and south. The third guard in each tower sat and seemed to be the log keepers. As I continued to watch, the gate would open up occasionally and a group of five wolves would emerge and head in different directions, possibly hunting or running patrols in the forest. One group came towards me and I hid the binoculars underneath me and tried to breath as slowly as I could as they ran into the forest directly below me. I was surprised when none of them hesitated and there was no nose twitch of them catching an unfamiliar scent. I quickly looked through their minds and found out that they were hunting for meat to last through the winter. I also caught the words human and quarantine from them. That made me curious and when they were out of sight, I turned my attention back to the wall. I couldn’t make out much beyond the roofs of houses and a large structure in the middle. It looked like it might have once been the center of the towns local government, but I couldn’t be sure. Satisfied for the moment, I climbed down and as quietly as I could, grabbed my stuff and headed for the cave.
The cave was in a secluded area and the entrance was hidden by boulders five feet from the cave. I explored the cave and found a fresh water pool towards the back and a small hole in the ceiling for the fire I would eventually need. Opening the duffel, I laid all of the spy equipment and examined them. There was a small drone with a camera and about ten metallic looking baseballs. Each ball had a depression on one side and when it pressed, legs sprang out and a small lens was revealed. There was a small beep and the tablet turned on by itself. As I turned the bug, the tablet showed the cave wall and a close up of my eye. That made me smile and I depressed the button again, turning the bug back into a ball and the tablet turned off. From the looks of it, all I had to do was throw them over the wall and they would do the rest and meant I wouldn’t have to try to sneak in to spy.
I laid down to take a nap after I had decided to wait for nightfall before I threw them into the camp.