Home > Alpha's Moon (Shifter Ops #1)

Alpha's Moon (Shifter Ops #1)
Author: Renee Rose

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Puerto Rico

 

 

Deke

 

The Puerto Rican jungle is thick and humid. At night, the song of the coquí frogs chorus echo all around the stifling darkness. I creep silently over the rotting leaves on the rainforest floor, slinking into position. Channing’s already there on his belly, squinting through the sight of his sniper rifle.

“We got two guards on deck,” Channing whispers.

With our shifter hearing, we don't need comms units to hear each other. Nor do I need night vision goggles. That’s the reason Colonel Johnson created a special ops team composed entirely of shifters. He’s one of us. He knew how much we‘d be capable of when our abilities didn’t have to be hidden from our human counterparts.

A quick glance, and I clearly see the outline of two cartel members standing in front of the shack’s open door frame. Each of them hold machine guns.

“What do you think—hostage inside?” Channing murmurs. “Tied, gagged?”

“Gagged. Tied with rope.” That’s my guess, anyway.

“Don’t see any dogs,” Channing says. “So we wait for Rafe’s signal.”

I nod and strip out of my outer clothes, including dog tags. Colonel Johnson had special camo underclothing designed for us. The fabric is stretchy and flexible enough to accommodate both human and wolf form. I guess the army higher ups thought having our ding-dongs hanging out after we shifted back would make us feel vulnerable. Like we give a shit who sees us naked.

I shift, but try to maintain some control, to hold back my wolf. He’s antsy to get on with the hunt. The sad truth is that after years of war conditioning, he’s always ready for the kill, especially when there’s a civilian rescue involved. The need to protect sometimes overwhelms reason.

The signal is a long blast on a dog whistle, a sound no human can hear. When it comes, Channing and I dart forward. As a wolf, I’m faster, and I race ahead.

We're almost there when I pick up a rumbling sound up the road. Trouble coming in the form of an old diesel truck. Fuck! More kidnappers showing up to help stand guard.

My ears prick at the ear splitting sound of the dog whistle. Two short blasts this time—Rafe telling us to get out.

I try to turn back. To follow orders. The part of me that still knows chain of command fights for control.

But my wolf isn’t having it.

It’s too late—I smell the package. The frightened human who’s perhaps given up on being rescued.

It’s wrong to disobey a command. We may not be Special Ops any more, but wolves also follow their leader, and Rafe is our alpha. Still, I can’t stop my wolf. He needs to save the human. I bound forward, paws eating up ground as I head toward the shack.

“Abort mission,” Channing growls, but I'm too far gone. I leap, a silent shadow, onto the wooden platform.

The first guard dies almost silently. His body thumps to the deck. The other guard whirls, fingers scrambling for the trigger of his machine gun when two hundred plus pounds of wolf lands on him. He goes down, and I silence him with my teeth.

Permanently.

I hear shots and raise my head. My muzzle is slick, and there’s blood in my mouth. On the other side of the shack, our team attacks the diesel truck. I forced them into this by not following orders. It’s the only option now.

A few more shots, a growl from Lance’s wolf, and the sound of screams drowns out the chorus of coquí frogs for a moment. Then the truck engine cuts off, and there’s silence.

“Goddammit, Deke!” Channing whisper-shouts. He’s still in human form, slinking up to the deck with his rifle outstretched. “You were supposed to follow orders.”

My wolf bares his teeth at him.

“Fucking loco,” Channing mutters as he brushes by me. He follows proper protocol, casing each dark corner before entering the shack. A few seconds later, he starts talking in a low, soothing voice to the hostage.

I’m glad he can because I would scare the hell out of her.

I growl and turn away, my nose to the ground, making sure all threats have been eliminated.

Gangsters: dead. Hostage: rescued. Mission accomplished. The only problem? The action was over in less than ninety seconds. My wolf wants more.

I lope off the deck and around the shack to the diesel truck. There’s blood spattered on the cab and two gang members dead—one in the front seat, one a few feet from the passenger door.

Lance stands nearby, disassembling the target’s semi-automatics. He’s in his camo underclothing from shifting. His dog tags glint on his bare chest—he didn't have time to remove them before shifting.

“Fuck, Deke,” he greets me. “I ruined a good pair of khakis for you.” He wrenches the metal gun pieces apart and drops them into an open bag at his feet.

I make myself useful, loping back up the hill to Lance’s stakeout spot to retrieve his pack. We keep an extra change of clothes for this contingency. Lance hadn’t expected to shift, but to finish the mission, my wolf’s defiance forced him to. My pack brothers always have my back no matter what.

“Thanks,” Lance grunts when I return. He dresses quickly.

“Let’s move out. Channing’s already gone with the package.” The package being the hostage. The one we, as mercenaries, were just paid a sizable amount of money to retrieve for someone high up in our government who didn’t want to risk an active military team on this job. “Rendezvous at HQ.”

A crackle in the brush behind me announces the arrival of my alpha.

“What the hell was that, soldier?” Rafe growls at me even though we’re no longer technically soldiers.

I duck my head in contrition.

“I think it went well, Sarge,” Lance says mildly before tugging on his shirt.

“No one fucking asked you.” Rafe points up the hill. “Move out, now.”

Lance shrugs on his pack and obeys.

Rafe points to me. “We’re going to talk about this,” he promises.

Four hours later, we’re back at HQ, an empty airplane hanger. Soon a tiny charter plane will show up to secret us back home. Lance helped me hose off the blood—my wolf was reluctant to remove all traces of its kills. I went for a run first, trying to rid myself of the pent-up energy, waiting until the last possible minute to shift.

Channing arrives at HQ last and doesn’t bother with the hose. He sticks his head in a bucket of water and then uses a rag to wipe off his face paint. “The package was delivered safely,” he announces. “All’s well that ends well.”

“Not so fucking fast.” Rafe marches back into the hanger from the outside, where he was taking a call from command. “We’ve got a problem.” My alpha rounds on me and points. “Your wolf is out of control, Deke.” He’s not wrong. I disobeyed a direct order.

“Yes, Sergeant.” My voice is gravely, guttural, as if my throat is unused to human words. We still call Rafe Sarge even though we’re no longer in the Army.

“Did you have orders to kill, Deke?”

A sick feeling roils in my belly. This is why Rafe decided we needed to get out of the service last year. Every hunt, I was becoming more feral. We all were. Rafe said we had to leave before we all lost our humanity and needed to be put down.

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