Go to Cover Brian comes across Derek, Jeffrey, and the cub scouts, and learns that Joshua has Kit.Derek watches a soccer game while waiting for Jack to return.Rom escapes and finds Elliot already a werewolf, and Sam dead.Kit chats with Joshua and demonstrates tying some scout knots, and also a hangman's noose.Jack delivers Kit to Joshua.Joshua cuts the phone line, and entertains Kit.Fact: Kangaroos continue to grow their entire lives.A hangman's nooseGo to chapter 26 in Rom's ViewGo to chapter 29 in Rom's View

Chapter 28 Wednesday, 1820 hours (6:20 PM)

At the cost of dulling his Swiss Army Knife, Rom had managed to worry loose the windowís pull out rod. He turned back to the other hostages to announce his success.

"Hey guys, Iíve gotten the window open. We can all get out now."

Rom was perplexed that his announcement was not met with the praise and enthusiasm he'd expected.

"Where would we go?" asked a hostage.

"I donít know about you, but Iíve got to find my Cub Scout Pack."

"Didnít you just say you saw lions running around out there?" asked another hostage.

"Just one," said Rom.

"I donít know. I think weíre safe here, at least until morning," said a hostage.

"I agree," said another. "I donít want to do anything that might make them mad. Who knows what they would do."

"I think you should make a run for it," said Rom, "Itís better than hanging around and being turned into bear chow or something."

"Itís too dangerous," said the first.

"What? More dangerous than being thrown in with polar bears?"

Nobody answered him. Rom was really getting annoyed with their general lack of appreciation.

"Look. You guys could stay together and make a run for the exit." Rom's exasperation showed clearly in his voice.

"They told us there would be people out there whoíd shoot us dead if we tried to escape," said a hostage.

"Well, Yeah," said Rom, "Your point?" He turned and climbed out the window.

"Hello," said Elliot, coming out of concealment in the bushes.

"What?" said Rom, spinning around. Then Rom recognized the man as the one who'd seen the scouts change. This man knew the Cub Scouts were werewolves.

"I know you're a werewolf," said Elliot.

"Me?" said Rom. "You mean the kids."

"No. I mean you."

"But, how?..."

"My partner and I saw you change form in Ithaca," said Elliot. "We're FBI. We followed you down here."

Rom took this as a great blow. It was his fault that the Ithaca Pack was in danger, not his scouts' fault. And worst of all, the man was from a government agency. People would believe him.

"What were you doing in Ithaca?" asked Rom, hoping that he wasn't the only one who'd compromised the pack.

"We were investigating a computer hacker."

Rom almost cried. It was his doing and his doing only. He deserved to die at the hands of the pack.

"Don't worry about it, and don't take it so hard. We didn't find enough evidence," said Elliot. "But don't do it again."

"No sir." Rom knew it didn't matter anymore. The pack would likely kill him to preserve the prime precept. He could hardly bear to think about what would happen to his scouts.

"Speaking of my partner," said Elliot. "Have you seen him? He's older than I am, about the same height, mustache, gray trench coat. He was looking for you."

"No. Why was he looking for me?"

"Well.." Elliot hesitated. "He wanted you to bite him and turn him into a werewolf. Frankly, I'd like it too."

"I wish I could," said Rom. "That would solve all my problems, that is if you guys haven't told anyone else."

"No. We haven't told anyone," said Elliot. "Why couldn't you bite me?"

"I could bite you," said Rom, "but you wouldn't turn into a werewolf, not unless you had the werewolf gene."

Elliot nodded his head sadly, and then brightened.

"Wait," he said, "That might explain it then. I drank from the canteen and turned into a wolf. My partner didn't change. Maybe I have the gene and he doesn't."

"You changed into a wolf?" asked Rom.

"Yes. It was great."

"Then I don't have to bite you," said Rom. "The chemical turns on the gene, at least for adults. You are a werewolf now."

"Really?" said Elliot, "but I can't change anymore. I need what was in the canteen."

"No you don't," said Rom. "You can change."

"Show me, or do I have to wait for a full moon or kill someone, or something?"

"No," said Rom, somewhat offended. "We're not ruled by our passions, like the werewolves of old. We change only when we want to, and we don't hunt humans. We hunt deer."

"The best of humanity and lycanthropy, eh?" said Elliot.

"Yeah, I guess," said Rom without much enthusiasm. Elliot now that he was a werewolf, was no threat to the prime precept, but his partner wasn't a werewolf, and didn't have the gene. There was nothing that could be done about him.

"Can you show me how to change?" asked Elliot.

Rom sighed. It didn't matter much one way or the other. "Yeah. Why not."

Rom walked into a concealed spot and stripped off his clothes. Elliot did the same. Rom explained the finer points of imagining oneself as a wolf, and waited until Elliot finally got the hang of it. Then Rom, thinking it might be the last time in his life he'd run as a wolf, changed too.

They ran through the zoo in wolf form. They ran for the joy of running and to catch scents. Then Rom caught a particularly exciting scent and tracked it. Elliot followed.

Elliot and Rom came upon a partially eaten body. Around it was the strong scent of tiger.

Elliot went in to feed, but Rom wouldn't allow it. He placed himself in front of the body and snarled. Elliot was puzzled and backed off. Eventually they returned to their clothes, and to human form.

"I know human flesh smells terrific," said Rom. "But we're conditioned not to kill humans. If you'd eaten the body, you'd become a killer."

Elliot seemed hardly to be listening. He looked stunned.

"That was Sam," my partner," said Elliot. "Oh God , I almost ate him. I never really liked him, but his aroma was... Oh my gosh! What am I saying?"

"Really? Your partner? The only other person who knows about us werewolves?" Rom giggled. He couldn't help it. "That's great. Ur.. I mean, um.. That's too bad."

"Come on," said Sam, "What's going on?"

"You're a werewolf now. I'll have to tell Chaba of course, and then there's your training."

Rom, too excited to continue, thought it through. Now, once again, only werewolves knew of the Ithaca Pack, and after Elliot got his werewolf conditioning, the Ithaca Pack would be safe, and would not have to be disbanded. And no one would have to be killed. Rom could hardly wait to tell Chaba the good news.

"What training, and who's Chaba?"

"What? Oh. Elso Lecke." Rom jumped up and down like a little kid. "It's over. The nightmare's over."

Sam grabbed him by the shoulder. "Will you tell me what the hell is going on?"

Rom felt so giddily happy, he could hardly explain. "This'll take some time."

"Fine," said Elliot, "Let's hide out in my car and you can tell me all about it."

"No problem," said Rom, and then he realized there were problems, hopefully a small ones. They were still imprisoned in the zoo, and Derek and the scouts were still missing.

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