“We cannot sit idly by and allow more people to fall prey to this predator if we have the power to stop it,” Gabriel recited as he now paced about the room. Opposite from him Dr. Foxfire now sat in complete lady-like fashion, legs crossed neatly at the knee in her full fox-form. Her bushy tail still swished back and forth rhythmically while she clicked a clawed finger against her tilted chin.
“Yes, I do agree completely,” she admitted quietly. “However, as you have already pointed out rather wonderfully; you have no intention of allowing yourself to become anything like our present threat. And I have worked for so long to maintain my own hidden nature I dare not risk my secret becoming known. If we are to stand against it without my direct guidance or your own fully unleashed primal might then we shall have to approach the matter with some kind of advantage.
Besides, if you were to attempt to challenge it now without knowing your own strength or it’s you would almost definitely not just be courting disaster – you would be opening yourself to blame from the populace. Consider it for yourself, what would the people of Gallu think if they saw more than one such creature roaming the streets at night?”
“Especially if one of them was also marked with metal,” Gabriel added regretfully. “You’re right, if I charge out there half cocked I am liable to just end up smashing myself instead of fixing anything. But if we don’t do something this thing will continue unchecked. And if either of us ends up being blamed we’ll see the inside of a dark cell. Then where will we be? There has to be a way to prove we aren’t the problem here. There has to be a way to earn our freedom and allow us to act to protect everyone!”
Clever contemplation seemed to grip Dr. Foxfire firmly in its embrace as she almost purred with satisfaction at herself. “One thing I haven’t informed you of yet; Chief Gnaeus has decreed that I am not to allow you out of my direct supervision or custody. He seems to think something more is going on and that there is more to you than we’re admitting.”
“No kidding,” Gabriel chided before gesturing an apology for interrupting and bowed for her to continue. “Be that as it may,” Dr. Foxfire emphasized her mild irritation at the interruption and then proceeded. “I also advised the Chief to step up night-time patrols as a security precaution and warn against unnecessary activity after dark. If I know old Gnaeus and his type nearly as well as I wager I do; I think it is a safe bet he will take the notion and run with it. We should be able to expect that he is already reviewing personnel records to form a special squad to hunt this thing. And if he is he will likely need someone with experience encountering it. He will also not want something he considers a possible security risk tucked away where he can’t keep a close eye on it.
So we will kill two birds with a single paw,” Dr. Foxfire proudly professed. Gabriel found his head somewhat dizzy as he tried to follow this fox’s fuzzy logic. “How are you proposing we accomplish all that,” he prompted like a curious school-boy. “Simply,” Dr. Foxfire assured him. “All we have to do is offer your services in helping to identify the dangerous creature and agree to submit yourself into their custody as a probationary member of the civil-defense forces.”
“And what are we going to do when they discover that I go all fuzzy?” Gabriel exclaimed. He wasn’t sure he liked this idea very much at present. It was sounding more like insanity than genius. “We are going to tell them,” Dr. Foxfire added matter-of-factly. Before Gabriel could object further she took advantage of the momentary shock she knew the claim would purchase for her and charged forward.
“This other sinister shifter is going to continue to cause chaos no matter what. Once others start to report the nature of the threat there will be no hiding the fact that people will fear you as the sole surviving victim thus far. If we provide the truth, or a small seed thereof now we might control the eventual reactionary outcome. All we have to do is disclose to Chief Gnaeus that there have been some unexpected results of your recovery and then his suspicious will be placated for the time being. He may not trust you but if he has you where he can keep an eye on you he is less likely to decide to hunt you down as well. It will provide you the chance to help out. You will be under intense scrutiny but you’d be on a leash instead of in a cage, or worse.”
“I don’t know,” Gabriel remarked aloud. He had stopped his pacing and found himself starring up at the ceiling as his thoughts drifted about. What if they didn’t go for it? He could end up still locked away or executed as some despised monster. Chief Gnaeus had no reason to even consider allowing someone he already was suspicious of to become involved further. Wouldn’t he just assume that he was trying to manipulate matters directly or cover up his own guilt?
A bleep from a small wall mounted terminal interrupted Gabriel’s introspection as it filled with the familiar face of his bartending buddy. Sebastian didn’t wait for any friendly greetings this time; he just jumped right into the message he needed to relay. “Apologies Gabe, I know you’re still recovering – although you are looking remarkably well! I dread being the one to deliver dour news but I knew you would want to hear this. Your crew recently stopped in for some renewed spirits, and I don’t know how to put this delicately. But I am afraid that the last job you guys were working on has been canceled. It seems the couple that hired you guys has vanished and the work site was trashed up pretty bad.”
“I am sorry man,” Sebastian apologized further. “I know how you feel about your handiwork and all, let alone a job left incomplete.” The news ripped into Gabriel like a sharp sliver and only a growl slipped out in response. It seemed he no longer had a choice left to him as the image of the boy was brightly burning behind his eyes. As the screen once more went dark Gabriel turned to face Dr. Foxfire once more. He found only a furious roar of rage communicating completely all he needed to say.