Here we go. We're on the home stretch for Wolves and Wild Roses. Are you ready for Roosevelt in combat, because we're almost there.
On a little side note, this required yet more research on historical figures. Was it Roosevelt? Nope. Well... not technically. It was one of his men and the last surviving Rough Rider, Mr. Jesse Langdon. His story is pretty interesting in and of itself. Not only was a Rough Rider well below the age he should've been, but he had psychic visions as a child and as an adult patented the a helicopter-like aircraft that, frankly, looks crazy as hell.
With all that, I hope you enjoy this next installment of Wolves and Wild Roses.
The sun hung low in the sky as Sonia stepped through the makeshift base camp. Trees surrounded her and the dozens of men that were moving about, setting up guns and reinforcing barricades. A few of the men watched her curiously, but her confident stride convinced most that she had business here.
As she approached the large tent at the center of the camp, a younger man with light hair approached, a rifle laid over his shoulder. She hesitated as he stepped in her path, raising a curious eyebrow. He seemed unfazed and offered his hand. "Hello there, Ma'am. Jesse Langdon."
"Charmed," she replied, taking his hand. "And who are you in all this?"
"Oh, I'm Mr. Roosevelt's right-hand man. I've been with him since Kettle Hill," he remarked.
"Really? You seem quite young to be an agent," she replied, looking him over.
"I'm twenty-eight, ma'am."
"And you were at Kettle Hill? Which would have made you -"
"I was twenty-eight then, too," he replied with a smile. This forced a smirk over the hunter's lips "I'm assuming you're Miss Trevor."
"Arrived at that all by yourself, did you?" she said, joining him as they moved toward the tent.
"Mr. Roosevelt said to keep an eye out for you. He's working out the last of the details for the operation."
"You seem to have great confidence in him," she said.
"With all respect, I watched that man get his glasses shot off in Cuba. He pulled another pair out and marched right into the gunfire."
"Bravery should not be confused for competence," she remarked as they entered the tent.
"Quite so!" boomed the voice of the former president. "But the fact that I'm still alive should prove that I'm more than up to this task, Mrs. Trevor."
Sonia offered her hand, which Roosevelt took with a nod. She and Jesse followed him back to a table in the middle of the large tent which had a map spread out over it. Roosevelt gestured to several circles across it which marked the location of vats of Wolf Bait.
"Jesse has been instrumental in setting the bait over the last few days. We left a trail that leads to this very base, where we will eliminate the poor creatures," he explained.
"How many wolves do you expect?" Sonia asked.
"It's hard to tell," Roosevelt answered, running his thumb and forefinger over his spruce mustache pensively. "We don't have exact numbers on the infected from the area, but we're expecting over a dozen."
"Not bad," Jesse commented. "Shot a lot more Spaniards than that in San Juan."
"Charming," Sonia quipped, turning back to the map. "Do you have enough silver ammunition and wolf's bane?"
"We're a bit light on the silver, but it's been my experience that lead will suffice in large quantities," Roosevelt replied.
"Is this really the time to be skimping on supplies? But, then again, I suppose you did lead a cavalry unit without any horses," she said.
The president roared with laughter, his smile broad and imposing. "You see, Jesse? I like this woman."
"I want to inspect your weapons before the moon rises," she continued. "Perhaps I can come up with something to save your men's lives."
"Of course," Roosevelt replied, leading the pair out of the tent. A few paces away was a large barrel, sealed. He explained that this held more of the Wolf Bait and would be opened at moonrise to help lure the beasts to them. Sonia inspected the container, unsettled by the dents and chips across it. From there they were led to a large series of boxes which Jesse opened. Inside were a mixture of several supplies, including ammunition, pistols and a few bottles, which Sonia pulled out to inspect.
"Whiskey?" she asked.
"While I do not partake," Roosevelt explained, "it's simply good planning to have something for the men when this operation succeeds." With a quirked eyebrow, she let the bottle fall back into the box and continued.
From there the trio inspected a few nests where Roosevelt and Jesse had set up tripod mounted machine guns. Sonia pursed her lips to one side as she looked them over, turning back to the smiling, mustachioed man. "How old are these?"
"They're M1895s," Jesse answered. "They're good guns."
"I considered Gatlings, but mobility is an issue here," Roosevelt added. "Trust me, Madam, they'll put down your wolves."
Sonia rubbed the bridge of her nose as she marched away from the line of guns. "This entire operation is a insane," she said as she retreated toward the tent.
"I understand it lacks subtlety," Roosevelt remarked as she moved off, "but time is not in our favor. I'm sure we'll have things ironed out for the next run."
"Next?" Sonia asked, turning sharply.
"Of course. And there will be proper compensation for your time."
Sonia didn't answer, instead turning to enter the tent and make her final preparations for the night.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.