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    WolfM
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Embers - 13. Embers 13

Brandon helped Jaxon lift one of Brutus’ pumps back into place. They had removed all three from the truck and repairs were completed on the first. It took some effort for the pair to maneuver the heavy equipment into the confined space where it needed to go. Accepting a wrench from Jax, the American dutifully followed instructions from his friend, as they reinstalled it.

“We’ll turn you into a full-fledged spanner monkey by the time you head home.”

“I’m not sure about that.” Brandon wiped an arm across his sweaty brow. “I know enough to help fix minor stuff on the trucks we have at the horse farm, and I do most of the work on my car and bike. I’ll never be to the level you are.”

“It’s nice having someone to help me regardless.”

“I’m sure the guys would lend a hand. This stuff can be intimidating when you don’t know what you’re doing. At least they did offload everything, so we could get to the pumps.” Brandon glanced around, realizing everyone had scattered. “Well, maybe they just want to enjoy the downtime while it lasts.”

“As soon as we get this one tested we can take a break before installing the other two.” Jaxon raised his voice enough for the others to hear him. “They can enjoy their time off or help get their trucks repaired. At least Brutus will have working pumps on our next call.”

“You heard the man. That’s enough lounging around for now.” Joe growled as he finished his beer. “Jax’s gonna keep on bitching until this stuff’s fixed. Pull what you need from your trucks.

“You’re just tryin’ to make a plumber look bad. Aren’t ya, Jax?” Oliver gave a half-hearted growl.

“Man may be a slave driver, but we haven’t broken down like a lot of other trucks.” Thomas grabbed a wrench and began unbolting one of the pumps from his truck. “At least on the Landys this stuff’s more accessible.”

“I never thought about firefighters having to do this part of the job.” Ethan looked on. “Just assumed things happened like at home. The sheriff’s vehicles and fire trucks just go into the service yard to be fixed when it’s needed.”

“Yeah, I know. But how far are these guys from their home?” Aiden pulled off his shirt and tucked it in the back of his pants. “I’m just a home mechanic for my Jeep, but tell me what you need, and I’ll try to do it.”

“Count me in too.” Casey stepped beside his alpha. “I can do plumbing work and minor mechanical stuff.”

“Tall, muscular, and red.” Oliver waved Casey over to him. “You’ll work with me then. We can replace the seals while the others pull or remount them.”

Jaxon quietly laughed. “Thanks, mate, for helping to get their arses in gear.”

“No worries.” Brandon grinned from ear to ear.

******

“Yeah, I know I ask this every time we get in the truck, but… Where we going this time?” Brandon laughed at the expressions his comment elicited.

“I swear, you ask that one more time, and we’re droppin’ your arse along the side of the road.” Lucas could only roll his eyes. “Like you’d know if I told you? We’re going to see the wizard, Dorothy.”

“I may not know, but I thought part of me coming over was to have a personal tour guide. Usually I’m on one fire for several weeks. Here, we’re switching every week or so, and I’m getting to see lots of new places. So, give me the touristy rundown.”

“Fine. We’re headed to Narooma. It’s about sixty-five kilometers south on the Princes Highway. The name comes from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘clear blue waters’. Most of their population’s on the coast and should be fairly safe from the fires. It’s the small forest cutouts that will be a problem. Oh, and they have a bloody big rock with a hole in it the shape of Oz. So they named it Australia Rock.”

“See. That wasn’t so difficult.” Brandon chuckled. “And I’m sure I got better information than the rest of the Americans in the group did. Maybe their driver’s pointing out stuff, but I don’t know if he even talks. I feel bad for not saying anything to him. When we’ve got down time I’ve been just too fuckin’ tired. Even if he is cute. ”

“What’s with the constant competition between you and them?” One of Noah’s eyebrows rose. “You’re right though. Dainen stays quiet. Bet that means he’s a screamer. Maybe they use a ball gag on him and we haven’t noticed. Gotta keep those loud ones quiet around the camps. You know those guys probably carry at least one for the coyote. Or the big redhead.”

“I’m not… What do you mean?” Brandon blinked a few times. “Wait. Ball gag? Do you use one to keep Lackie quiet?”

“Don’t let him tease you too much.” Jax glanced over his shoulder. “We’d rather have you over them.

“Yeah, you’ve kinda grown on us. Still say we’re gonna find a way to keep ya. And you, I fuckin’ knew you were checkin’ out his arse.” Lucas pointed his finger at the feline. “Damn cat claims he only chases pussy, but can’t pass up lookin’ at every arse that walks by. I talked to Dainen a couple times. Seemed like a nice guy.” He glanced over at the driver. “Jax, you are such a kiss arse. If he wasn’t an alpha, you’d still be moaning about getting stuck with a Seppo.”

“Rack off, Luc. I only said that before I got to know him. Honest Bran.”

A Cheshire Cat smile grew across Noah’s face. “You go this long surrounded by mostly guys. Not a big deal for you two since it’s what you’re into. The rest of us need to use our imagination when we wank unless other opportunities present themselves. Can’t even talk to the women around the camps about a handjob without someone blowing up about harassment. I’ll admit there’s some mighty fine lookin’ arse around the showers. I get plenty of offers and no complaints.”

“Oh, my god! You dog. You’ve been rootin’ guys all this time. Haven’t you?” Lucas held a hand up for a high five. “Way to go.” His laughter increased when the frisky feline shrugged and bumped his hand.

“I know, Jax.” Brandon tried to ignore the back and forth between Luc and Noah. “I can’t believe it’s been a month already. Some days it feels like I just got off the jet, and others like I’ve been here forever.”

“Mate, it has been forever. But I got me a little brother to spend the time with, so I’m good with it.” Lucas winked at his friend.

“Any idea what the wildlife around here’s like? Koalas or roos? More wombats?”

“There’s the tourist in you again, Bran. Doubt there’s gonna be any of those bloody big rats. Maybe some wallabies. Not sure on the koalas, but it’s possible. I’m still amazed how they take to you. Normally their prey instinct makes them shy away from us.”

“Fire and starvation versus something that could eat them? Not much of a choice either way.” Brandon clasped his hands behind his head. “Just as long as I don’t find another of those huge ass spiders crawling on my sleeping bag again.”

“It wasn’t that big.” Lucas smirked. “It wanted to cuddle like the koalas.”

“Well, at least I wasn’t the only one to scream like a girl.” Brandon glared at Noah and Jaxon. “And if I’d been human, that thing would have been poisonous to me.”

“Sixty percent of the stuff crawling around Oz is poisonous.” Luc’s hearty laugh filled the cab. “Think nature wanted a way to combat apex predators like us.”

“That part’s not so good for the tourist ads. I’ll stick with the cute, furry animals over the creepy crawly stuff for the rest of my stay.”

“Oi! I didn’t scream like a girl.” Noah pointed his finger at Brandon. “You just startled me when you knocked it onto my sleeping bag.”

******

“We’ve got some reinforcements finally. Mutts, welcome to Naroomba command.” The local brigade commander introduced the new arrivals. “You’re going to be working the southern flank. Location’s marked on your maps. You’ve got around a four kilometer hike from base camp to the current leading edge.”

“What’s the forecast for the next week?” Joe glanced at the paperwork he had.

“If the weather holds, we’ve maybe got a couple days before it hits the fire break we’re cutting. It’s supposed to be around forty-two degrees again today, and we expect that for the next several days.”

“That’s about one-hundred-seven to you, mate.” Noah whispered.

“The kicker’s temps have been hitting around seventeen to twenty degrees at night. Winds have been light during the day, but when the temperature drops after sunset, it can get fierce because of that drastic change. Looks like the advance has slowed to about half a kilometer per hour. Dry lightning was a problem last night, and it’s possible for the next few days, so be extra careful. We don’t know how many new places sparked yet.”

“Point us where you need us.” Joe picked up his map and orders, appearing ready for the meeting to be over. “Sooner we get to work, the sooner we can go home.”

“Spoken like every fresh crew we’ve received. I’m sure after a couple weeks your tone will change. Nonetheless, we’re grateful to have you here.”

“Um, guess you weren’t told our last major break was in mid-December.”

“When was your last down time?”

“We got three days after Malua Bay before they sent us here. What was it, boys, two weeks off before we went to Hunter Valley?”

“Sounds about right, Joe.” Lucas rubbed a hand over his scruffy chin. “Can’t remember for sure though.”

“Bloody hell. Sydney hasn’t pulled you yet?” The brigade commander appeared shocked

Joe shook his head. “Who do you think keeps giving us marching orders?”

“Well, you’re here now, and I need the manpower.”

“No worries, we’ll rest when it’s over.” Joe glanced around at his men. “Won’t we boys?”

The enthusiastic woofing showed they were ready to work.

“Briefing done. Grab your gear and meet the crew buses. It’s good to have you here.”

“What? We don’t even get a half hour to go see that rock Lucas told me about?”

A light slap to the back of the head got the American moving. “Knock it off, ya bloody Seppo.”

He could not help the chuckle that shook his body. “Sorry, Joe.”

******

The crackling and popping of eucalyptus and other trees and plants burning, was a backdrop for the rhythmic sounds of hand tools hitting the parched soil. The American alphas and their team, though inexperienced at firefighting, manned a spot on the line.

“I think I’m getting the hang of this.” Aiden broke the surface of the dirt with his shovel, dumping the soil on burning grass to extinguish it. “They don’t teach us this stuff at the police academy.”

Ethan wiped the sweat from his forehead. “I’d like to try things my way, but there’s too many humans around for me to go full Elemental. At least subtly I can be of some help. ”

The Mutts slowly worked into the woods. “The bloody heat’s bad enough, but as long as the winds stay low, maybe we can keep it out of the trees.” Joe waved his hand around. “Don’t need it crowning in all this.”

“So, the eyes go kinda gold for wind?” Brandon glanced to his side. “I was just getting used to the red or blue. Maybe I’ll start calling you fifth element.”

“Funny guy.” Ethan flipped him off. “Yeah, it’s sort of gold when I work with wind, blue for water or healing, red obviously for fire, and green when I’m talking to the plants. Then there’s the usual amber flash we all do.”

“Could have used you like a Christmas tree decoration in December.”

Laughing to their left stopped the conversation. “Got something to say, Big Bad?”

“Nope.”

“Your wisdom always amazes me, Aiden. Me, on the other hand, I can’t get the image of him sitting atop the Christmas tree with his eye flashing out of my head.”

“Casey, you may be my brother, but you’re an ass.” Ethan caused a root to grow over the toe of the redhead’s boot, making the bigger guy stumble.

“If he sits on top of anything, it won’t be a tree. Maybe a thick log.” Aiden smirked.

Ethan blushed. “I hate you both. But that’s one hell of a nice feeling log.”

“Critter crawling in at two o’clock.” Lucas pointed to a furry object about two-hundred feet away.

“What is that?” Ethan focused on the dark mound of fur heading towards them. “Casey, Cody, bodyguard time.”

“Don’t worry. Looks like just another wombat.” Brandon snickered. “I thought you liked the last one that adopted you.”

“Yeah, but they don’t leave.” He lifted his boot from the ground as the animal rubbed against it. “I’d rather have wallabies or koalas around me. Those are cuter.”

“It’s just like back home. Doesn’t matter if it’s a chipmunk or a feral.” Aiden tried to shoo the animal away from his mate, “the wildlife always finds its way to you.”

“We’ll turn it over to animal rescue.” Joe headed for a tree to relieve himself, taking aim at the hot coals at its base. “I’m sure they’re still at camp or the staging area.” He tucked back in and pulled up his zipper while walking back. “Used to be a time those things wouldn’t get near us. Guess they figure we’re a better option than the fire.”

“We were talking about that on the drive down.” Lucas sucked on the hose from his water pack. “At least they go to the Yanks and leave us alone.”

“Guys!” Ethan’s tone had most of the Mutts turning towards him. The glow hidden by the sunglasses was becoming pronounced. “The wind’s gonna shift.”

“I’m losing control of the fire. Same with you on the breeze, Pup?”

“Yeah. That same weird feeling as before.”

“Your sunnies aren’t hiding much now. This is gonna turn into a dog’s brekkie fast.” Lucas was taking in as much of his surroundings as he could. “Joe?”

A tendril of flame raced up a tree. Seconds later, a strong gust fanned it, giving it life as it spread.

“Bloody hell.” Joe hit the transmit button on this radio. “All crews on the south ridge pull back now. I repeat, pull back now.”

The breeze built in strength as the inferno exploded around them.

“It’s crowning. Down the hill guys.” Lucas pointed in the direction they had hiked in from. “Move your bloody arses.”

Humans and lycan ran for their lives.

Ethan scooped up the wombat at his feet, as he too tried to escape the danger. His and Aiden’s eyes were red as both tried in vain to slow the fire’s advance.

Back at their base camp, the Elementals huddled with their cadre. “It was that weird feeling again. Everything was going fine and then it all went haywire.”

“I could feel it too, Pup. I don’t understand it.” Aiden dropped onto the ground resting his head in his hands. “Maybe we’re getting tired and simply losing control.”

“You think so?”

“I don’t know. It’s not like anyone gave us an instruction manual for this. We’d both been at it for hours with things working fine. All of a sudden, it goes to hell. I’ll admit I’m tired.”

“Me too. But it feels like… I don’t know. It just felt like something changed.”

“We need to rest and eat something. Eventually we’ll figure this out. I’m not giving up until the fires are gone.”

Brandon walked over with two pouches in his hand. “Here. I’ll wait until the resupply truck comes. I think you need these more than I do.” He handed them the last two MREs the group had. “Joe said to get some rest. We’ll be back on the line tonight.”

******

“Is there still a crew over there?” Brandon pointed off in the distance.

Lucas searched the hillside for people. “You’re kidding, right? They’d be fucked if there are. No one’s working ahead of us. Even with the hocus pocus twins, we’re gonna need to fall back soon.”

The pair went back to their duties. Constantly digging their McLeod tool into the soil and pulling the dirt over the burning ground, smothering it. Only one hose was available to the crew, and it was extended as far as the pumps would allow.

Brandon kept scanning the distance for movement. He was sure he had seen something. “What the fuck? That’s impossible.” He looked between Aiden, Ethan, and the forest. “Did you see that, Luc?”

“For fuck’s sake. I didn’t see anything the last several times you pointed.” Lucas appeared and sounded as tired as everyone else. “What the fuck? Are you seeing things? Do I need to make you take a break?”

Brandon did not take the time to answer. It surprised those around him when he dropped his hand tool, shed his clothes, and shifted to his hybrid wolf. His claws dug into the ground as he took off, running full out on all fours, into the inferno.

“BRANDON!”

“Luc, what the fuck’s going on?” Joe sounded both angry and scared. “Where’s that idiot Seppo going?”

“What’s he doing?” Ethan seemed confused.

“I don’t know, Pup. Cody, Darius. Follow him.”

“He kept saying he saw something.” Lucas called out. “Damned if I know what though. He asked if anyone was working over there. I should have made him rest. He’s gotta be hallucinating.”

The small wolf was almost out of sight by the time the other two shifted. They sprinted into the fire in pursuit of Brandon. After roughly a mile, they caught sight of the chocolate wolf, fast approaching a lone figure.

Brandon charged through the burning trees, dodging falling debris. He moved towards the statuesque brunette who seemed to be unfazed by the intensity of her surroundings. The thunderous sound of the fire masked his approach, until he was almost upon her.

The lion and coyote skidded to a halt about two hundred yards behind Brandon. He had glanced back at the pair a couple of times, somewhat relieved he had been followed. Fear gripped him when the woman turned. Her eyes glowed a fierce red as she faced the hybrid.

“It has to be a reflection.” Darius shook his head. “That’s just not possible.”

“Let’s move. We’ve gotta help him.” Cody and his mate took off again.

Brandon launched himself at her, his claws extended, intent on taking out his target.

“Something’s changed. I’ve got more control over it now.” The brilliance of Aiden’s eyes intensified.

“I do too.” Ethan more easily brought the fire to heel.

A deafening howl of excruciating pain alerted the Aussies and Americans on the fire line that something was terribly wrong.

Darius and Cody poured on the speed, wanting to get to the wolf. When the pair finally reached Brandon, he laid motionless on the ground. Much of his fur was burned away, and wisps of smoke rose from the charred and blistered body. His breathing was raspy and labored. The woman was trying to crawl away from him. Deep gashes from his claws crisscrossed her exposed skin. Brandon had just missed her neck. The rhythmic sound of footfalls retreating barely registered with the nearly unconscious Brandon’s sensitive hearing.

“What the fuck’s going on here?” Darius cautiously approached the woman. “Cody, see if you can help Bran.” With his massive paw, the lion rolled the injured figure onto her back. “I’ll try to help… Oh shit. That wasn’t a reflection. Like fuck you are.” As soon as he saw the red in her eyes building again, he raked his own claws across her throat.

As death claimed the woman, her body combusted, quickly turning to ash. The inferno covering the landscape around them died down.

“We’ve got to get him to Ethan. I doubt even a lycan can survive injuries this bad for long.” Cody shifted to human and picked up the small body as gently as he could. The scorched tissue barely held together. “Head back and tell him to meet me halfway.”

A roar was his only response before Darius took off.

“Stay with me, Brandon.” Cody moved as quickly as he could over the rugged terrain. Rocks and other debris bit into his bare feet. The scent of burnt flesh nearly overwhelmed him. He focused on his military training to get them back to their friends. “Don’t you die on me.”

Copyright © 2021 WolfM; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Ooh an evil elemental?

Could be ;)

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2 hours ago, Kitt said:

So an elemental has been fueling the fire. The big question is why? 

A desire to propagate species of plant that needs a burn to flourish? Seems like small controlled burns would work better.  Had she lost her mind? Hard to interrogate a pile of ash.

Anything is possible ;)

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2 hours ago, dughlas said:

Now we know who was working opposed to the "hocus pocus twins" but why?

Excellent chapter.

Thank you, Dughlas. Why what? I'm sorry, I must have missed the question. I'll check back next week. ;)

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1 hour ago, centexhairysub said:

Ah damn, I never thought about another elemental pushing the fire forward and making it worse...  Couldn't be lucky enough that there was just the one could we?  Great writing and pacing on this chapter.  Flowed really well, the banter was first rate.  Sounds like what you would expect being around a bunch of males without time down for sex...

Can't wait to see what the others make of a new elemental being in play...

Thank you, Centex. It's fun to know I can still surprise some of my readers. You just might earn a rub of that hairy belly. Oh wait, now I'm sounding like the guys I work with and write about. ;)

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Just now, Kitt said:

The only thing wrong with this chapter is it's too long till next Monday!

LOL. Hopefully I'm not called out onto another fire to delay posting like last week or it might be longer.

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1 hour ago, WolfM said:

LOL. Hopefully I'm not called out onto another fire to delay posting like last week or it might be longer.

Well, if that happens you worry about keeping your fuzzy butt in one piece.

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Wow what an intense chapter, a sudden flair up started a new intense fire , however it seems that the fire mage was behind it , I hope that Ethan can really cure Brandon , he was galant in bringing the mage down if it even was a mage or just evil entity. Time will no doubt reveal details, at least I hope so

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Geemeedee

Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

Ooh an evil elemental?

I’d say more than one, or she had a support team:

”The rhythmic sound of footfalls retreating barely registered with the nearly unconscious Brandon’s sensitive hearing.”

Wow, everyone is lucky to have heroic Brandon there. Hope Ethan can save him and his wolf.

Edited by Geemeedee
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3 hours ago, WolfM said:

 Now if I was an evil person, I'd take my ques from a very talented writer who ended a book with one of his main characters getting into a helicopter crash.

Yeah im still mad about that one......

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3 hours ago, CincyKris said:

Time to round up the pitchforks!

... and torches, don't forget the torches. 

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