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    WolfM
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Embers - 9. Embers 9

Six men exited customs at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport. Four of them created a security perimeter around the two at the center of the group. People stared at the sexy guys while pointing, and occasionally snapping pictures, thinking they might be celebrities or billionaires.

“Brody! Thorin!” Ethan called out when he saw his friends in the crowd.

******

“What the bloody hell are they trying to do to us? Bust our ass on the line for a week, and now ordered to march back to the command center, only to be told we’re getting shipped to the Southern Highlands? Not even a fuckin’ day’s rest.”

The Mutts stood in shocked silence at Joe’s raging outburst. Their soot covered faces and clothes showed they had not even had a chance to shower yet on what was supposed to be their day off. They had been scheduled to return to town anyway, but a more leisurely hike had been expected. Instead, the order was double time it back, as there were new instructions.

“Joe, you need to calm the fuck down before we go back in there.” Lucas tried his best to soothe the angry wolf. “Guys, go hit the showers and get the trucks ready to pull out as soon as we know for sure what’s happening.”

Oliver retrieved his toiletry bag from his pack and put the rest in his truck. “I don’t care what they do at this point. As long as I get to feel cool water running over my body.”

“Don’t forget the soap. As bad as I smell, I can pick up your scent from over here.” Lachlan dodged the hand aimed at his head.

“Rack off.”

“Bet some high-up has property in the Highlands and pulled strings to get an extra crew to protect their house.” Noah moved in close to the recipient of his teasing and inhaled. “You don’t smell that bad. Get you covered and filled with the scent of cougar, and she’ll be apples, mate.”

“Guys, keep him away from me.” Lachlan did not sound as convincing as he probably hoped.

“I wouldn’t drop the soap if I were you, Lachie.”

“Are you guys maintaining Lucas and me are the only poofs? Maybe it’s just limited options.” Brandon glanced at the guys closest to him. “So where’s this place they’re sending us now?”

Noah filled him in. “It’s about a hundred kilometers south of us. Probably take a couple hours to make the drive. There’s a bunch of vineyards like Hunter Valley. Nice place. Little bit of Aussie Scotland.”

The men walked off in the direction of the shower trailers and mess area.

******

“What’s that bay at the end of the runway?” Aiden smirked. “I can never remember.”

“Here we go again.” Trevor rolled his eyes.

“It’s Botany Bay.” Thorin barely looked up from his phone.

“Botany Bay.” There was a curious tone to Aiden’s voice, as he tried to mimic a Russian accent. “Botany Bay?” His pitch increased with a sense of recognition. “Oh, no! We’ve got to get out of here. Damn. Hurry, hurry.”

Thorin glanced at his husband. “Not one word from you, mister. Zip it, and you may not get cut off.” He shook his head. “Two hot, sexy, muscular sci-fi geeks under one roof’s more than I can handle.”

Cody Marshall and Darius McDonnell, Ethan’s enforcer and beta, mildly groaned. Trevor Carlson and Casey Tucker, Aiden’s beta and enforcer, put their ear buds in, trying to ignore their friend.

“I’m shredding your Star Trek: Wrath of Khan Blu-ray when we get home.” Ethan shoved his elbow into his mate’s side. “He’s been waiting to do that since we boarded the flight. I hear one more reference and your entire Star Trek book collection goes in the fireplace.”

“You and I can have a Star Trek marathon while they rest, Aiden.” Brody high-fived his friend. “Just as long as it’s agreed to ban the fifth movie.”

Aiden grinned. “Definitely, Brody.”

“So, how soon before I can get to work?” Ethan sounded impatient. “And sorry it took a couple days longer to get here.”

“No worries. It’s not like the country was on fire or anything.” Thorin smirked over his signature sarcasm until he felt Brody’s hand slap the back of his head.

“Whoa, Pup. Slow down a bit. We’ve barely cleared the airport parking lot after a long flight.” Aiden pulled his mate against him in the third row of seats in the Mercedes Sprinter van. “I know you want to get right to it, but some of us might need a little rest. Plus having to stop in California to deal with an assassination attempt on Wade didn’t help make this a relaxing flight.”

“Everything okay on that front? Your beta gonna pull through?” Brody glanced up from typing a message on his phone.

“Seems to be. Thad’s taking care of Wade, two more McKinney’s have been turned to fertilizer, and the pack rallied around their betas.” Aiden sighed. “Not great, but not terrible.”

“After hours of the flight attendants keeping Dari, Cody, and me awake, hitting on us, I need a few hours sleep.” Casey, sandwiched between his mates, attempted to stretch in the cramped confines of the last row.

“You loved every minute of it.” Darius slapped the back of Casey’s head. “Especially the extra snacks the guy brought just to see you adjust yourself one more time.”

“How many times did they ask if you wanted to join the mile high club?” Cody tried to look annoyed. “I only got offered once.”

“So, had a few Aussie boys hot and bothered before even landing?” Brody slid his phone into his pocket and turned in his seat as they headed north into Sydney. “Ethan, depending how you and the others feel in the morning I’ll have you driven to meet the team you’ll be embedded with. The last thing any of us need is jet lag affecting what you do.”

“Alright.” Ethan huffed. “Is there someplace I can shift? After being stuck in the plane for so long, my wolf’s itching to get out.”

“It’s not like you haven’t been to our place before. You know there’s space.” Thorin shook his head. “We figured some or all of you would need fur time.”

“If we head out tomorrow, where are you sending us?” Aiden watched the city pass by the windows. “I’m guessing since you brought us in, we don’t have to go far to reach a fire.”

“Actually, you’ll be around 150 kilometers from here.” Brody handed Aiden a folder. “You’ll be meeting up with an all lycan crew at Bundanoon. It’s an area called the Southern Highlands.”

“What Brody’s leaving out is he has a couple aunts and uncles as well as several cousins with property there.” Thorin turned to face his mate. “He called in several favors to get a crew to try and protect their homes.”

“Hey! They were going to be reassigned to another fire anyways and more teams are needed down there.”

“Mmhmm. Your favorite aunt calls in a panic about being evacuated and suddenly, a crew you have authority to move’s on the road, headed for her house.”

“Fine. I admit it. Let’s just get home without starting this argument again. No matter if it’s human or wolf thinking, I’ve got to do something to protect my family and those around them.”

“And that’s one of the many reasons I love you, Brody. You’ll admit when emotion clouds your judgment. And I don’t plan to let Aunt Clair forget it.”

******

“Get some water over there. The fuckin’ wind shifted again.” Joe directed the men from his and Lucas’ trucks, while the other three had taken up position at the house down the road. “Fuckin’ idiots building in the middle of the trees. Yeah, looks nice when there isn’t a fire. Bloody nightmare for us when there is.”

Fierce gusts blew a shower of embers that pelted men and buildings, searching for any unprotected opening. Angry red marks appeared on exposed skin where they managed to hit. The sky darkened under the thick cloud blocking out daylight. Brandon and Lucas hosed down one side of the house, as flames bore down on them. Water from Joe’s truck was directed at a barn a short distance away.

“I don’t like this. Noah, pull the line to their water tank, it’s gotta be near dry by now anyways.” Lucas did a rapid 360 as he surveyed the deteriorating situation. “Get ready to evac.”

“Fuck! Flames in the window. It got inside.” Brandon directed his hose to a flickering glow from a roof vent as the window blew out, giving the fire inside the oxygen boost it needed. Smoke billowed from the house as the inferno fully consumed it.

“Fall back. Fall back. This one’s lost.” Joe gave the order the men did not want to hear.

Lucas and Brandon hit the retractor lever on their hoses, causing the reel to spin. “Jax, get us out of here!”

As the trucks retreated, the beast devoured what had been someone’s home. Clearing the trees that had encircled them, the next closest house was also fully engulfed, and the remaining trucks were pulling back.

“Gonna be a lot of that around here, I think.” Lucas could only watch as everything to their right burned.

Brandon pulled off his face guard to take a few deep breaths. “FUCK!”

“We can’t save every house. Especially when they build with the trees that close.” Noah patted the American’s arm. “Plus all the debris on the roof didn’t help. People need to fuckin’ learn to clean the leaves from more than just the ground. They had four bloody months to prepare for this.”

“I know. It’s the same as in California. People want to live with nature and there’s no defensible space around the property. Highly combustible trees right up to the house, and as soon as they spark, there’s nothing we can do.”

“We did the best we could.” Jaxon glanced over his shoulder. “Now we pull back, lick our wounds, and live to fight another day.”

******

Ethan had not paid much attention to his surroundings until darkness enveloped the van. “Hey, why are we underground? Is this a shortcut to the Harbour Bridge?”

“Sorry, mate. We’re taking the M-1. This puts us through the Harbour Tunnel instead. It’s too much trouble moving over to the A-4, so you can see the same bridge you did last time you were here.” Thorin laughed at the pouting face he received from his friend. “No sightseeing this time. It’s straight home to rest or shift.”

Aiden kissed the top of his mate’s head. “I’ll make sure you get to see it and the Opera House again before we go home. I forgot how far north you guys live.”

“It’s just over fifty kilometers from the airport. Not that far. Traffic makes it feel longer. We should be to Palm Beach in another half hour.”

“I’m still amazed in a city as big as Sydney, there’s neighborhoods that still have native forests near perfect beaches.” Darius clasped his hands behind his head, squeezing into Casey’s personal space. “I hope you two can make quick work of those fires, so we can lie out and head back to Silver Pines or Burney with perfect tans.”

“Yeah, the only possible silver lining to any of this is we’re in warm weather, while it’s currently snowing in both packs.” Cody shielded his eyes. “Damn it gets bright coming back to the surface.”

The drive passed quickly as the Aussies and Americans got reacquainted. The driver, who had remained quiet since everyone boarded the van, finally spoke. “We’re here, Alphas.” Large gates swung open, leading to a long, palm tree lined driveway. It meandered through lush gardens before the two-story house came into view. Set back from prying eyes, the mini-mansion stood at the center of an eight acre estate.

“See, I told you it doesn’t take that long. Oh, and I got Brody to finish the roof deck a couple weeks ago. He needed a short distraction from the fires. That was a great idea you guys had. We can easily see Scotland Island now. Or the ocean.”

“He’s a bloody slave driver. Wanted this or that for the clubs. An upgrade or two for the house. Build him a deck on the roof. It’s a wonder I have time to run the pack let alone the national duties.”

“But you’re so good with a tool and nailing things, Mate-o-mine.”

“Know what they’re gonna be doing while we get furry and run.” Casey waggled his eyebrows.

“Probably the same thing you’ll try to do while furry, Casey.” Cody blushed as soon as he said it.

The guys grabbed their luggage and walked towards the house.

“I’m assigning Dainen Walker here to be your driver. He’ll take care of anything you need. I’ve come to rely on him and his devotion to the job.” Brody rested his hand on the young man’s shoulder, earning a glare from his husband. “He’s got a sat phone to get a hold of Thorin or me no matter where you are. Mobile service outside the city’s iffy at best.”

******

The day had been long and hot. Even with lycan stamina, the Mutts were exhausted by the time they were able to stand down, and get some rest. It was a little after 1:00 a.m. when Joe pulled Lucas aside for a private chat while the rest of the men sat down to eat.

“Welcome to Oli’s diner, Gents. Menu for tonight is Asian beef strips, beef stew, or chicken burrito.” Oliver passed out meals ready to eat, known as MREs to the guys. “Sorry I forgot to pack table linens. We didn’t expect a party this large so late. Guess the glow from the trees will have to do for candle light.”

Lachlan tore into his meal bag and separated the contents. “I finally got one with an oatmeal cookie. ‘Bout time.”

“I wish they’d sent more of the pepperoni pizza ones.” Brandon glanced around to see who had what. “If anyone wants to trade, I’ve got the Asian beef.”

“I’ll take it.” Jaxon leaned forward. “Didn’t really like the chicken burrito the last time I got it. Wish they’d gotten curry chicken instead.”

“Cool. I like those, and they have the cinnamon bun for dessert.” Brandon happily exchanged pouches with his truck mate. Like the rest of the guys, he put his main course in the bag with the flameless ration heater, and poured in a little water to activate it. While he waited for the food to warm, he tore into the toasted corn kernels, happily crunching on the tasty treat. It did not take long before his food was ready. A couple of the guys watched as he spooned the contents onto a tortilla.

“I never understood you Yank’s fascination with eating something wrapped in those things.” Oliver had refused to even try to use a tortilla when he had gotten that meal previously.

Wiping the back of his hand across his face, after stuffing the first small burrito into his mouth, Brandon was met with chuckles. “What? I live close to the Mexican border. We get the real stuff all the time. This isn’t bad, but one of the restaurant owners I know would be pissed I’m settling for it.” He turned towards Noah and eyed his meal. “How’s the garlic mashed potatoes?”

“Not bad. Could go for eating five or ten of these MREs, but at least we’re not going hungry.” He took a sip of his instant coffee. “It sucked losing those houses today.”

“What does anyone expect when they cut a patch out of the forest and plant a house in the middle?” Thomas leaned back, having finished his meal. “At least you had two of the big trucks. We wouldn’t have lasted nearly that long with ours.”

“Hey, Tilly may be small, but she fights just as hard as Brutus or Ares does.” William always felt the need to defend his rig.

“No one’s impugning her honor. Calm down.” Oliver went around collecting the trash from the guys. “But at least she was saved today from the indignity of her skirt getting singed. We may have lost a house too, but it wasn’t surrounded like theirs.”

Joe and Lucas finally rejoined the rest of the crew.

“Here you go, boss and beta.” Olive tossed the two men the last two MREs. “Saved you the daily special.”

“I know you’re all tired, but we’re hitting the line again at 6:00 a.m., so try to get some sleep soon.” Joe dropped to his butt and tore into the pouch. “There’s a new group joining up with us tomorrow. I don’t have any details, but I guess it’s another lycan crew. One more thing. Oliver, I got word on your house. I’m sorry. They couldn’t save it. Your family’s fine and the pack’s taking care of them.” He rested his hand on the man’s shoulder.

The huge man dropped to his knees, burying his face in his hands. Oliver sobbed as his crewmates gathered around him. “I should’ve been there.”

“What’s the point of being crewed with a bunch of tradies, if you can’t depend on us to help build you a new house?”

“Yeah. We’ll have your family back home in no time.”

“We’re the Mutts and we always take care of our own. We’ll see ya through this, mate.”

******

The roaring gusts and alarms, raised by those on watch, awakened the men from their much needed sleep just after 5:00 a.m. The wind had shifted overnight, blowing the fire towards the Mutts. The trucks were staggered around a small enclave of four homes over a mile from where the men had lost their battle the previous day. Lines ran from the water tanks of each house to Zeus. The other four trucks were drawing their water from Joe’s rig.

“Move it, ladies.” Joe was quickly on his feet. “James, fire up Zeus. Time to get to work.”

“Noah, Lachlan, double check those snorkel lines from the ponds.” Lucas pulled his hose from the truck, as Jaxon fired up the pumps on Brutus.

Oliver surveyed the oncoming blaze. “These places must belong to someone pretty damned important to pull twenty men away from more pressing duties. It’s always the rich people who get the special treatment. I’m tempted to let them burn to the ground and move on to protect the people who really need it.”

“I know you’re pissed off, Oli. But we’ve got a job to do.”

“And I’ll do it the same as I always have, Joe.”

Embers started falling around the men, as they opened the hoses to spray down each house. There was nothing they could do about the surrounding trees except let them burn.

******

Shortly before two o’clock in the afternoon an SUV and black van made their way down the road towards the Mutts.

The fire was slowly moving off, but the seemingly ever present cinders swirled round in the air.

Parking near the tanker, Joe approached the vehicles, as people started climbing out of them. “Get your arses back in those things. Go back the fuckin’ way you came. Not sure how you got past the roadblocks, but we don’t need sightseers.”

Brandon noticed a small blond and tall brunet get out surrounded by several others. His eyes flashed amber in surprise and a low growl escaped his throat. “Oh just fuckin’ great. What the hell are they doing here?”

He got puzzled expressions from Noah and Lucas, as they looked from the newcomers back to Brandon. “You know them?”

“Yeah. It’s the goddamn, fuckin’ Kardashians.” A moment too late, Brandon realized his voice had been louder than intended, everyone around the van turned towards him.

Copyright © 2021 WolfM; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Interesting end I wonder what has happened to Brandon to be so anti Ethan and crew, time will tell us , the front line crew are getting more intense front line fires

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On 4/12/2021 at 8:16 AM, CincyKris said:

Hopefully Ethan can get a handle on the fires, or should I call him Kim?  Khloe?

The firefighters were only having marginal success, so anything would be an improvement.

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On 4/12/2021 at 12:58 PM, Wesley8890 said:

Hmm which star trek is the whales one? I always thought it was ridiculous. But i love Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock. "The needs of the many outweigh the Needs of the few" is one of the best Spock quotes ever!!!

The whales are the 4th movie, The Voyage Home.

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On 4/12/2021 at 10:16 AM, chris191070 said:

Let's hope Ethan can handle the fires. Brandon's mouth got the better than him it seems, as the kardasians have arrived as he described Aiden, Ethan and entourage.

Guessing Aiden would be Kris Jenner, not sure which one Ethan would be. Plenty of fires to go around for the Elementals and firefighters.

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WolfM

Posted (edited)

On 4/12/2021 at 5:27 PM, centexhairysub said:

OMG, we had Star Trek and Kardashian references all in one chapter; honestly, what more could anyone want.  I love Star Trek, Lt. Nyota Uhura was one of my first crushes; well, never was sure if I loved her or wanted to be her...  LOL.

Have never understood the attraction or interest the Kardashians have entailed.  They all annoy me.

Loved how Joe was right about someone with power and pull being the one to arrange the transfer.  Of course, the fact that are lycan is the primary reason that they were pulled so they could work with and protect Ethan and Aiden.  

Of course, with the lycan hearing, I am sure they all realize that Brandon made the Kardashian comment, and that really is not a great way to start this little get together.  I am sure that there are lycans that don't appreciate Ethan and Aiden's abilities and positions; but have to wonder what  issue Brandon really has with them.  

Wonderful update, and can't wait for that next chapter, gonna be some interesting introductions...  

Uhura is the best. I love her in the 3rd movie with young Mr. Adventure as she puts him in a closet at phaser point. :)  Yeah, that family annoys me too. I don't understand why people even care about them. They're rude, obnoxious, and have a sense of entitlement.

Well, at least the Pennsylvania crowd is now aware of Brandon. Though maybe that isn't so good. Only a few days until the next chapter.

Edited by WolfM
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On 4/12/2021 at 6:20 PM, Hellsheild said:

Oo! I hate when what you say is amplified by silence

And everyone turns to look. :)

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On 4/12/2021 at 6:44 PM, mikedup said:

Interesting end I wonder what has happened to Brandon to be so anti Ethan and crew, time will tell us , the front line crew are getting more intense front line fires

Unlike their previous assignment at Katoomba, this one is more intense and stressful since it's structure defense. Never easy losing a house.

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On 4/15/2021 at 1:52 AM, Peter J. Gee said:

When is a cliff hanger not?: when it is a tease......:lugh:   WolfM just delivered! !!!

Why thank you, Peter.

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Well. The Mutts have been working just about nonstop. When reinforcements arrive, Brandon is the first to go sour. What’s going on? 

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22 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

Well. The Mutts have been working just about nonstop. When reinforcements arrive, Brandon is the first to go sour. What’s going on? 

It's an ever stressful job. Perhaps it's just not the right reinforcements. ;)

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