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Paper Chase


Vince Black, aka Reno Raines, looked at his boss/friend like the man had just lost his mind. "What do you mean, I need to finish up my paperwork?" he asked. There was, admittedly, a large pile of paperwork sitting on the table between them, but that didn't mean he had to help with it. He looked around for the svelte blonde who normally occupied some of the space in Bobby Sixkiller's RV, his mobile office and home away from home. Cheyenne was noticably not present. Bobby noted his impromptu survey of the interior of the RV, looked around himself and nodded. "Yep. Chey's not here."

"I noticed. Where is she?"



"Vacation. She said she needed one."

"Oh. OK. Where did she go?"

Bobby shrugged his shoulders. "I dunno."

"Great. So, where does that leave us?"

"Paperwork," Bobby said with a gesture and a smile.

Vince conceded his defeat with a smile and a shake of his head. "OK. OK. Paperwork."

For the next hour, the inside of the RV was quiet except for the rustling of papers as they filled out forms and shuffled reports into piles marked mail, toss and file. Bobby stood up abruptly and shook his head. And hour was all he could take.

"Bobby --" Vince sounded annoyed.

"What?" the bounty hunter almost snapped. "All right. I'm sorry. I've had enough. I gotta do something else. Drive. That's it. Drive. There's gotta be a place to eat around here somewhere."

"Right. And while you're doing that?"


"Right." Vince looked like he knew this was coming.

Outside, a slender figure in a set of olive drab fatigues was busily unhitching Bobby's HumVee from the rear end of the RV. It finished it's disconnect just as the engine roared to life. Bobby put the RV in gear and moved out slowly. He didn't notice the weight of the HumVee missing as he pulled onto the highway and went in search of something to eat.

The figure which had been hiding in the weeds in the ditch at the side of the road, stood up, scrambled out of the ditch and grinned. She pulled the wool ski style cap off her head, shook out the incredible mass of blue black hair she'd been hiding, pulled off the fatigues to reveal a figure hugging t-shirt and denims, and stepped into the vehicle left behind. She frowned for a moment, and stepped out again. "First, remove the tow bar, silly," she told herself and proceeded to follow her own suggestion. Then she carefully checked the wheel wells to see if there was a spare key secreted somewhere on the vehicle. Nope. OK. Hot wire it.

The engine fired and ruimbled merrily. With an even bigger grin, she pulled onto the road, headed in the same direction as Bobby, Vince and the RV. Several miles farther down the road, she passed the RV with a gay wave. Bobby waved back before he caught the license plate and realized that his pride and joy was pulling rapidly away from him.

"Reno!" he yelped. "I mean, Vince!" he yelled.

"What?" came the reasonable response from the back.

"Somebody stole my HumVee!"

Vince looked up from his paperwork as the RV gained speed. "What?"

"My HumVee! It just passed us!"

"Oh -- You're sure?" Unconvinced Vince went back to look out the back window. Sure enough. No HumVee. He went back up to the driver's area. "So, who was driving it?"

"How should I know? She waved. So?"

"So, what did she look like?"

Bobby had to think about that. He frowned as he realized he was more concerned about his vehicle than the identity of it's thief. "I don't know," he admitted testily. "I'm following her."

"Great. What if we find the HumVee and not the thief?"

Bobby made an exasperated sound as he passed a speed sign advising a drop in the limit. He didn't drop his speed and the clear sound of a police siren erupted behind them. With a long suffering sigh, Bobby slowed and pulled over. Vince retreated into small but well appointed bath area to wait out the ticket situation.

Bobby had his license and registration and insurance card ready for the petite and very hostile state trooper who had pulled him over. He was polite, she was gruff. He smiled. She frowned. He gave up. She warmed up. Such is the way meetings on highways at high rates of speed. She directed him on up the road to the next good place to eat. For the time being, he relinquished his sudden quest to reaquire his vehicle. He parked, let Vince know they had arrived.

"Like I couldn't tell that."

The meal was as good as the state trooper had promised. Both men nearly over ate. As it was, Bobby was too full to do more than stare at his vehicle bemusedly when he stepped out of the diner into the noon sun. There it sat, next to the RV, big as life and twice as dusty.

"My HumVee," he finally got out as the long haired young woman who had stolen it came strolling out of the drugstore next door.

She noticed Bobby before he noticed her. Vince moved to intercept her. She stopped walking toward the vehicle as he stepped in front of her.

"You spend a lot of time stealing cars?"


"So why this one?"

She looked up at him, her pale blue eyes under raised brows proclaiming her innocence. "What? Are you accusing me of stealing that HumVee?"


"I didn't steal it."



"Then where did you get it?"

"Found it. Sitting by the side of the road looking abandoned and all forlorn," she responded with a grin.

"Yeah, right."

"You!" Bobby had finally recovered and investigated to see how his precious vehicle had faired in someone else's hands. He had found the wires she'd crossed to get it to run. "You! You --"

"Not particularly original. Redundant. Planning on expanding your vocabulary?"


"Ah! Another word."

In spite of himself, Vince was beginning to enjoy her apparently eccentric sense of humor. "Hold it. Why did you take Bobby's HumVee?"

"I told you -- I found it sitting there, all forlorn, needing desperately to be taken for a drive."

Her attention was attracted by another vehicle coming down the road. It was a late model sedan with a distinctive looking driver. "I think you have more important things to worry about," she said softly. Something about that driver was setting off alarm bells, not so much for herself, but for the man facing her. She took a fleeting look at his face, then looked back at the car. She recognized the face just before he looked around and spotted the RV. She stepped back into the shadows cast by the facade of the buildings behind her. Vince looked around. In a fleeting moment he recognized that face and dove for cover himself. Dutch Dixon. What a place to run into that man.


Dutch Dixon, tooling down the highway on his way to no where in particular, drove past the blink of an eye town ignoring the diner and the drugstore and suddenly realizing that the HumVee and RV he had just passed belonged to that extremely annoying bounty hunter Bobby Sixkiller. And Bobby Sixkiller was shielding Reno Raines.

He pulled a quick u-turn and headed back. He had caught the flicker of movement as he drove past and was hoping to catch Reno with Sixkiller. He could nail both of them, Raines for murder and Sixkiller for aiding and abetting a known fugitive from justice. A feral grin curved his mouth, making his eyes glitter. It was not the most pleasant sight in the world.

The only person in sight as he drove up and stopped near the RV was Bobby Sixkiller. Dutch shut off his engine and stepped out of his car. He walked over to the HumVee, taking in it's less than pristine condition. He leaned on the hood and smiled at the owner. "Hi, Bobby."

"Well. Dutch. What brings you out here, Mr. Dixon? Chasing butterflies?"

"No. Reno Raines." The sound of the name on his tongue was almost a cuss word. He glowered at Bobby. "Where is he?"

Bobby did his best innocent Indian look and smiled. "How would I know. Come to think of it, if I did know, why would I tell you? I want the bounty on that sucker."

Same old, same old. Dutch tried to roust the bounty hunter and, as usual, Bobby stayed one step ahead. From inside the drugstore into which they had retreated, Vince and the woman kept a sharp eye on the annoying Federal Marshall. Though, she seemed to be more intent on keeping an eye on the man than Vince did. He was trying to find the back way out of the store. She shot a glance at him and lost interest in Dixon while trying to fathom the man who had followed her into the store.

She considered her reaction to the car when she first spotted it. She had her own reasons for staying clear of Dutch Dixon, but her first instincts had pegged him as trouble for the man questioning her. She took in his lean, well muscled good looks. Now there was something slightly haggard and haunted about his eyes. That look hadn't been there when he was confronting her over the HumVee. Curious. She followed him through the store. It took Vince a moment to realized she was doing so. He turned to face her. There was a hard look that hadn't been there before.

"What do you want?"

"I was sorta wondering that about you? I mean, I can think of lots of reasons for avoiding the good, and I use the word facetiously, Marshall out there, but he's really got you spooked -- which I find curious."

"We've met."

She took in the volumes the tone spoke as opposed to the curt words. She nodded. "And you got the fuzzy end of the stick," she analysed correctly.

"C'mon. There's a store room and a back door."

"Hey! You can't go through there," the owner of the store objected as they blew past him.

She turned a brilliant smile on him. "Sure we can. That Federal Marshall out there wants us to check out the back of the store and this is the fastest way. Sorry for the inconvenience. Oh, and don't tell him we told you. We're undercover," she finished in a hush-hush tone of voice.

She left the man wondering what undercover Federal Marshalls were doing undercover in his neck of the woods. Or lack of same. He wisely refrained from getting involved.

She joined Vince outside. For the moment, it was safe. After all, Dixon was alone and he was occupied with the bounty hunter for the time being. She looked at the mostly black clad man who was trying to figure out where to go from here. He became aware of her scrutiny.


"You really are spooked, aren't you?"

"Yes." He continued to search the area for inspiration.


He looked back at her and frowned. "You tell me," he said in hushed tones, as though worried the Marshall out front might hear him. "You knew he was trouble before you could even have seen his face to identify him. How?" She shrugged her shoulders. "I just had -- a feeling. Once I saw his face, I knew he was trouble. But you're right, I did feel it before I recognized him. It's a knack I have. Though it usually centers on me rather than some one else," she ended with a frown. Vince regarded her seriously for a long minute and decided, against all logic, that he believed her. There was just something about her matter of fact attitude that made him believe her. "So, now what?"

"I guess I distract him."

"Why you?"

"'Cause he has really good reasons for wanting to dispose of me?"

"You're not the only one."

"This is not news. Wanta spill the beans?"


"OK. Tell you what, I'll distract him and let you and Sixkiller get away."

She was around the corner of the building and heading for the HumVee across the hood of which Dixon and Bobby were conducting their confrontation before Vince had quite grasped what she was saying. She knew Bobby's name. What the h*ll was going on here? He followed her to the corner of the building, but not fast enough to stop her from putting her plan into action. She walked over to the HumVee, stepped in, cross wired it and grinned at the two men jumping back from the front of the vehicle in an impartially amused manner. She waved and backed up, then roared off down the road.

It took Dixon a split second to realize that he knew that face. An incoherent shout ripped out of him as he made the decision to let the bounty hunter go while he gave chase to more important game. He scowled at Bobby and dove for his own vehicle while the bounty hunter was standing there trying to figure out whether to yell, kick something or laugh. Then it hit him, that was his HumVee! Had he been wearing a hat, he'd have taken it off and thrown it on the ground to express his current mental and emotional state. As it was, he jumped when Vince tapped him on the shoulder.

"Oh. Hi. She did it again."

"I saw. She's trying to help. But I don't know why."

"What?" Bobby looked more than normally bewildered at his friend's analysis of the situation.

"She knows who you are."



"She stole my car because she knows me?"

"No -- well, I don't think so. I don't know why she stole the HumVee. But she knows you. And I have a funny feeling she knows about me, too."

"What? Who the hell is she?"

Vince shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. But I don't think we've seen the last of her."

On down the road, the mystery lady was happily leading Dutch Dixon on a wild goose chase that went off the road and left the Federal Marshall stranded in a soft sand bottomed gully. He got out, kicked his car, and cussed before calling for help. The HumVee and driver wandered merrily onward. She was having so much fun. But, now it was time to get serious and find out just who the cute guy with Sixkiller was and how Dutch Dixon related to his life.


Federal Marshall Dutch Dixon left fuming in the sand, the bright eyed woman who had again wandered off with Bobby Sixkiller's wonderful HumVee, was trying to decide between returning the vehicle and continuing to borrow it. She pulled back onto the highway and had gone about a mile in the direction away from where she had left the bounty hunter and his partner, when the HumVee made up it's mind that it was time for this foolishness to stop.

Sput. Sputter. Sput. Sput. Sput. Sput. Whoa.

The HumVee rolled to a stop on the shoulder of the deserted road. The woman behind the wheel frowned at the dashboard. E is for Empty, she reminded herself in a sprightly mental voice and refrained from smacking one hand against her forehead in the traditional "how dumb can I get" gesture. The gas gauge was firmly on the "out of gas" line. Well! This was fine turn of events. Sooner or later, Bobby and the RV would appear on this road. As would Dixon's reinforcements (or was that rescuing tow truck?). Neither were people she wanted to confront again -- well, not today, anyway. The only problem was, there wasn't much of anyplace to go from here. The highway stretched for miles and miles and miles in both directions. She checked her pockets for ideas. Nope. One Visa Platinum Card ,one Gold MasterCard , one American Express , one driver's license, one very top security, eyes only, id card. No ideas. No cell phone. She made a thorough search of the HumVee to see if Bobby had, perhaps, left his cell phone in the car. No such luck.

It looked like hoofing it was the only option. Well, she could always hide if either Dixon or Sixkiller came driving along. Besides, Bobby would likely be more interested in getting his HumVee re-attached to his RV than he would in tracking down the thief. Must have been a momentary lapse of logic that led her to ignore the possibility that Bobby's partner might just be interested enough to pursue his short, but intriguing, relationship with said thief on an alternate means of transportation.

With Bobby and Vince keeping an eye on the road, they both spotted the abandoned HumVee without difficulty. The State Police officer who had ticketed Bobby earlier, had found the tow bar and tracked him down to return it. Not that it was all that difficult. She had found him just getting back into the RV and delayed his departure another twenty minutes or so making sure it was his tow bar. He had ignored his partner's grin and muffled chuckles while dealing with the officer and had studiously ignored bringing up any topic that might relate back to the officer since they had set off on the road after his property.

They pulled up in front of the HumVee and backed carefully toward it. Then they inspected the vehicle for damage, other than the obvious where the vehicle had been hot wired. Vince discovered the lack of fuel when he tried to start it to get it back on the tow bar correctly.

"It's out of gas."


Vince grinned. He seemed to be saying that a lot today. "It's out of gas."

"Why that --------" Bobby was speechless as he couldn't seem to find words to express his annoyance.

"Come on. We'll get it on the tow rig. Wonder what that's all about?" He was looking back down the road for a clear view of the three cars (two jeeps and a sedan) heading out into the desert about a mile or so back down the road. He and Bobby looked at each other and reached the same conclusion. Dixon.

Bobby had one thing to say. "Go."

Vince nodded and headed for the RV. Among the other amenities hiding inside was his Harley. It wasn't easy to get the motorcycle in and out of the RV, but he managed to get it out before the quartet of cars came back. He was off and down the road. Which was why the thief didn't bother to hide when she heard the sound of a motorcycle engine coming up behind her. She stopped and stuck out a thumb to hitch a ride. By the time she recognized the man on the machine, it was too late to run. She met his gaze with a grin as he pulled up beside her.

"What did you do to Dixon?" he asked.

"Oh, he got stuck in the sand."

"Right. He's probably getting dug out about now."

She nodded her agreement. "So?"

"So, get on. We'll straighten this out when we get there."

"Get where?" she asked as she slid onto the seat behind him and got a good grip on his waist.

"Wherever we end up," he answered and put the Harley in gear.

Meanwhile, the two jeeps and the sedan and Dixon's sedan had come back out of the desert, dithered about at the road trying to figure out which way to go, spotted the bulk of the RV still parked beside the road and roared up to come to a halt surrounding Bobby, the RV and the HumVee which was being recalcitrant about getting re-hitched to the RV.

Bobby, somewhat dusty and dirty, looked up as Dixon and his companions surrounded him. He smiled, though it didn't quite make it to his eyes. "Hi."

"Get up." Dixon was snappish. He was hot, tired and extremely annoyed. He was also out in the desert with four of his cronies and an isolated Bobby Sixkiller. It was tempting. My, but it was tempting.

Bobby really didn't like the gleam in Dixon's eyes. He stood up. He wasn't as sartorially splendid as usual, but he was still an impressive specimen. He was taller and probably outweighed each of the four men facing him. This was not as reassuring as it might have been. All four of them were armed and dangerous. Bobby was just dangerous.

Dixon wasted no time asking the usual questions. Bobby wasted no time in giving the usual answers. Impasse. Dixon considered using muscle to break the impasse, but decided that this was not the best idea in the world. He didn't really want to kill Bobby -- yet. And not in front of witnesses. If Bobby had just not made that last annoying comment --

Dixon climpbed back into his car shaking his hand. That Indian had a thick skull and a heavy jaw. Bobby was nursing a sore jaw. Just another thing he'd have to pay that man back for one of these days. The rest of the posse climbed into their cars and headed out. One followed Dixon back the way they had come, the other two headed up the road in the direction Vince had gone.


Both Vince and his companion being alert sorts, they were aware of the two vehicles gaining on them before the drivers got a visual ID on them. The Harley turned off onto yet another of the dirt roads which littered the landscape and left a cloud of dust to mark their trail.

"Trying to ditch them or bury them?" she shouted above the roar of the wind as they fled down the road.

Since Vince hadn't exactly figured that one out, he didn't bother to try to answer. He was too busy trying to keep them upright and moving. The road degenerated into a rutted, rock bestrewn excuse for a trail. The two of them were getting royally bounced and jounced.

The vehicles behind them, only one of them a jeep, were not faring as well. The sedan hit a really big rock and knocked a hole in it's oil pan. The engine swiftly expressed its distress at the damage by overheating and seizing up. The jeep would have continued the pursuit, but the sedan was in its way. The driver of the jeep expressed his deepest feelings about the driver of the sedan in very colorful language. The driver of the sedan was not particularly impressed. He called Dixon on his mobile phone and advised that they had been in pursuit but had lost their quarry. He did point out that there only seemed to be the one trail into the area which was rapidly becoming a rocky declivity instead of flat, open desert.

Apparently, Marshall Dixon was unimpressed by his subordinate's evaluation of the situation. His language was nearly as colorful as the driver of the jeep's had been. Several miles back down the road, Dutch Dixon pulled over to the side of the road, rested his head on his hands. Was anything ever going to go right again? Come to think of it, his men had only said that they saw a motorcycle with two riders. It might actually be someone else, someone who belonged out here. He picked up the phone and punched in the numbers for his subordinate. After a brief discussion in which they admitted they had not gotten a good look at either rider, he decided the best course of action was to get a tow truck out to the damaged vehicle and for him to get back on the road to Albuquerque where he would catch a flight back to Washington, D.C. It was time to relinquish the chase, for now. He told his men to call AAA Auto Club for assistance and to keep an eye on the area while they waited for the tow. After that, they could head to either El Paso, TX or Albuquerque, NM and catch a flight back to their home offices. This particular chase was over. He pulled back onto the highway and headed home.

Out in the rocky badlands, Vince had finally stopped to take a rest. The land they were on was a wilderness. Even the rutted track had finally given out. The two of them looked at each other. She grinned and got off the back.

"Hey, I can help push," she pointed out. "Though I rather think we've lost 'em."

"Yeah," he agreed as he also swung off the seat of the bike. "I think we've lost us, too."

"Nyah. I know exactly where we are."

"Oh, yeah? Where?"

"About fifteen feet from that rock outcropping," she responded with a laugh.

"Oh, great. And?"

"And I smell water. There's an artesian outflow in the area. Come on." She led the way to where a small pool gathered in a rocky bowl. It was cold and clear and amazingly good tasting after their ride.

"All right. We have water. We have sun. And we have the way back to the highway blocked."

"So, why don't we sit out the rest of the day here, then we can probably sneak past them in the dark."

"Right," he semi-agreed with a disbelieving nod of his head. "This is crazy," he told her conversationally.

"What is?"

"Getting lost in the desert with a thief whose name I don't even know."

She looked at him for a long moment. Then she smiled again. "I'm Harriet. Harriet Dane. Strangely enough, my friends call me Harry."

"Harry. I should have known." He couldn't help smiling himself though. Her grin was infectious. "I'm Vince Black."

"Are you now?" There was something odd in her inflection that made him give her a measuring look. "I think I'll sit in the shade for a while."

After a few moments, he joined her. It was hot out in the sun. They had a clear view of the bike. He wasn't certain when he dozed off. It was just after sundown when he awoke with a jerk. Harry was nestled against him. She mumbled something incomprehensible as he moved. He shook her gently. "Hey. Wake up. It's after dark."

She stretched, yawned and looked around. "My. Got late didn't it. And chilly. I forget how fast it gets cool after a long hot day. Well, let's - get -- " She came to her feet slowly, frowning at the empty spot where his bike had stood. "Did you move the bike?" she asked softly, knowing full well that he could hardly have done so without her noticing it.

"No. I didn't." He sounded as disturbed as she felt. Maybe more disturbed. It was, after all, his bike. And it had been moved very, very silently. Without the bike, they were stranded. There was no way Bobby would know where they had turned off -- well, not until some time after sunrise, anyway. Vince made a disgusted noise and tossed a rock out in the general direction of the road.

The rock didn't hit the ground. Something out there growled. Vince backed up and pulled the gun out of the waistband of his trousers. It was cocked as he brought it out. Trying to keep an eye on all the surrounding terrain, he retreated back toward the rock overhang under which he and Harry had fallen asleep. He noticed that she too was armed and alert. He'd ask about that later, if there was a later. There was something with little frozen feet doing a tap dance up and down his spine right now. He wished they had built a fire. Only, you have to be awake to know that you need to build a fire. That began to bug at him. Why had they fallen asleep like that? Why both of them? It was almost as though there was some sort of a plan here. Twin points of greenish light flickered in the darkness. They were too high to be an animal. No. Wait a minute. What was he thinking. There were lots of rocks and shelves to sit or stand on. Of course, it was an animal. What else could it be? He started to relax.

That was when the whispering started. He tensed again and nearly dropped his gun as he backed into something soft.

"Watch where you're going," Harry told him softly. She too was retreating back to their sleeping area. Harry knew this part of the world. She loved the desert and returned to it and the surrounding mountains whenever her work allowed her the luxury. This was odd. No. This was weird. There was nothing in her experience of the desert that would move a motorcycle the size and heft of that Harley without making a sound. There was nothing that took getting hit with a fair sized rock with a minor growl. "This is creepy," she muttered.

"I agree. Now what?" They were firmly under the rock ledge by that time, the two of them well able to cover the approaches, such as they were. Both of them were very tense.

"We wait."


She could tell he was being sarcastic.


Bobby Sixkiller stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his somewhat barrel shaped torso, and regarded the pile of paperwork he and Vince hadn't finished in a morose manner. He looked out the window at the lowering sun and worried, though it didn't show on his face. Earlier, he'd watched the tow truck drive past. It slowed and came back, the driver, a man with skin liked tanned leather, leaning out to look over the RV and its accompanying vehicle.

Bobby had stepped to the door and asked if he could be of help.

"You stuck?"

"No. Looking for someone who is?" Bobby couldn't mistake the avaricious gleam that died out of the man's eyes as he saw the big bucks for fixing an RV slip out of his hands.

"Yeah. Some city guy got his oil pan holed somewhere out here. You seen 'em?"

"No -- well, not stuck with a holed oil pan, anyway. Saw a jeep and a sedan head up that way." He pointed down the highway toward the front of the RV. "Probably just a little farther down the road."

"Yeah. Wonder how he holed his oil pan."

"Went off the road?" Bobby suggested brightly. He got a rough laugh at that.

"Served 'em right then. Only road up that way turns into a dirt track with rocks bigger'n my fist." The gentleman's fist was displayed. It was an impressively knobby knuckled fist.

"That big, huh?"


"Bet that's where you find them."

"Yeah. Thanks."

"You're welcome," Bobby responded as the tow truck did a masterful job of turning around and heading back up the road. That was when Bobby had decided to sit tight and wait for Vince to call. Or come back.

Now it was heading for full on dark at the breakneck speed of a desert sunset. The sky was dipping down behind the mountains. He'd had a light snack out of the refrigerator, and taken a shower to freshen up. Where the h*ll was Vince. The tow truck had already returned with the sedan, followed by the jeep with driver and passenger. Still, there was no sign of his friend and partner.

He decided against his usual sartorial splendor and settled for a servicable pair of jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt and a vest. To this he was adding his usually spiffy boots when something hit the side of the RV. There was a gun in his hand before the sound had quit annoying his ears. He waited. Thump. Pause. Thump. It didn't sound normal somehow. He sidled up to a window and peeked out. Damn. He jerked away from the window. Peering nearsightedly in at him was a really ugly bat. He tried another window. There was another bat, wings splayed out against the window, sharp incisors apparently intent on gnawing a hole through the glass. Bobby suppressed a shudder as he recognized what he was looking at.

He tried to look at things reasonably as he slid into the driver's seat and turned on the ignition. Two more small, furry forms flittered past the big windshield. A third bumped, latched its feet around the windshield wipers and fluttered there, apparently trying to find a way to get at him. If Vince was out while these things were hunting -- Bobby returned the little bat's baleful look as he pulled onto the highway. This could be bad. Very bad. Didn't bats carry rabies? The one on the windshield lost its grip and fluttered off. Bobby drove very carefully, his headlights on bright. He didn't want to miss his friend if he was on the side of the road. He didn't really want to think about his friend out in a night with fluttering, blood sucking, flying mice. He shuddered again.

He found the turnoff and wished he was driving the HumVee instead of the RV. There weren't as many bats, but there were enough to make him nervous. He didn't relish getting out and unhooking the HumVee. He relished it even less when he heard the howl much too close by. Bobby froze. He knew the sound of the coyote's yip-yip-yip-yiee. He knew the sound of the feral dog. He knew the belling sound of the hunting hound. This was none of those. This was the pure, lonely under the skies sound of the wolf. Which was odd and spine tingling considering that the nearest wolves were supposed to be back in the mountains, away from man.

The first howl came to a conclusion. A second one came up behind the RV. A third and a fourth joined in until there was a full howl going on around him. For a moment he considered backing out of the area and back onto the highway and letting Vince take his chances. But only for a moment. He stiffened his resolve and decided that if his ancestors could survive the desert with little more than bows, arrows and breechcloths, then he, with technology at his command, could certainly manage to survive wolves and bats. He wandered into the back of the RV and rumaged around looking for what he thought of as police night stick flashlights. He found two police style Maglight flashlights, made certain they worked and shuddered as the howls went off again.

He was just about to step out the door, flashlight at the ready, gun also at the ready, when something heavy hit the top of the RV. He watched the roof as the footsteps thumped across to the skylight. With a wierd sense of deja vu, he watched as the skylight parted from its moorings and went crashing into the night. Gun at the ready, he waited for whoever or whatever was on the roof to drop in.

"Reno!" he exploded as he recognized the leather clad figure of his friend. He was so exasperated, angry and relieved that he used his friend's real name. He started forward, demanding to know what the heck he meant by breaking up his skylight. That was when his fried turned to face him. Bobby's face went white. In place of the friendly hazel eyes of Vince Black/Reno Raines he was staring into the golden eyes of some feral animal. The lips rippled back from a mouth with canines more suited to a dog -- or a wolf. His finger tips were clawed.

Bobby turned to hit the door and found his way blocked. The clothes were the ones the woman who stole his RV was wearing. The face was as feral as Reno's. Bobby pulled up his gun and fired. The wolf thing in the doorway flinched away, then grinned at him. Silver bullets, he needed silver bullets, he thought in a panic, backing away from the advancing figure. A heavy hand fell on his shoulder.

"Bobby. Bobby. Come on, wake up."

Bobby SixKiller awoke with a jerk, surging to his feet. Vince Black, as normal as ever, backed up slightly with a frown. Bobby's face broke into a huge smile. "Man, am I ever glad to see you," he blurted out.

"What? Bobby, you were dreaming."

"I was? Oh, yeah. I was. Yeah. It was wierd, too. You were --" Somehow he just couldn't tell him that his dream had turned Vince Black into a werewolf. It was farcical. "You were in it. And this woman stole the HumVee -- It was wierd. Really wierd."

"Yeah. Well, so was your lunch, which probably had something to do with it," Vince told him with a grin. "Now. Paperwork? I believe this was your idea."

"Paperwork. Yeah. Right. Paperwork." He rubbed a hand over his face and sat down to start working on the paperwork. He looked up as he felt something odd. It was somewhat like a weight being removed - from - the -back - of - the -RV! Bobby was on his feet and out the door just in time to see the HumVee slammed into gear. It missed him by a scant few inches. He got a really good look at the driver as she grinned and waved at him.

Vince joined him just a little too late to try for the vehicle. He looked at Bobby who looked like he had just seen a ghost. Vince frowned at him. "You OK?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. No. Maybe."

Vince almost laughed, but he could see that something was affecting his boss deeply. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure. We'll call it in."

"What?" Bobby didn't want to head off in hot pursuit? Bobby, who was almost as protective of his HumVee as Vince was of his Harley?

"We'll call it in." Bobby headed back into the RV and reached for his cell phone, which was in his other vehicle with its thief. Oh, well. Vince had his.

They called in the theft and went back to the paperwork. The visions of Vince with fangs were dancing in his memory. He didn't really believe in werewolves. But it was better not to take chances. He ignored Vince's curious looks.



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