The 13th Dog
Many things a dog does for its family go unseen.
A burglar, prowling outside, might stalk outside the house. Hearing a dog’s growl, he’ll pause. The dog’s presence alone changes the game. Most crooks move on, seeking easier targets.
The family camping in the woods watch their Border Collie chasing birds. They might imagine he hasn’t a care in the world. What they don’t realize is their loyal dog just drove off a Mountain Lion eying the 4-year old for breakfast.
There are better examples.
One dog sat alone in a field, staring fixedly ahead. His coppery fur shined in the morning sun. The golden debris from a harvest lay scattered across the dark soil. Two hundred yards away, 2,317 men stood in perfect formation. Mercenaries. Moorcock’s Marauders were experten, veterans of many successful battles. They could, and often did, take whatever they wanted. On this day, they planned to take everything from the colony of New Hope III. 7,000 farmers shouldn’t stand a chance against blooded mercenaries…except they had Chummy.
One dog stood against an army.
“Seriously?” growled Colonel Marion Moorcock. He stood angrily with hands on hips. “We stopped for a fucking dog?”
“That’s not a dog!” stammered Boudin, the slender Intelligence Officer. He flipped through his pad. “It’s big, right?”
Moorcock held up his binoculars, a set so advanced it could direct weapons fire for starships in orbit. “Yeah, he’s big. I’d say about 5-feet at the shoulder. That bastard could look a man in the eye.”
“Want me to shoot ‘im?” said Moorcock’s second in command, Captain Travis Conroy. The wiry Virginian never lost his accent on the road to becoming a heartless killer. “Ah could take ‘is eye out from heah.”
“Don’t,” warned Boudin. He ceased all movement. “That’s a Cerberus.”
“Cerberus?” scoffed Moorcock. “That’s a myth!”
“Ain’t no myth,” said top sergeant Levander Martinside. Most of the troops called the 6’6″ Nigerian, “Mountainside,” but never to his face. “I saw one once. Took out an entire mechanized brigade. One thousand men and sixteen fighting vehicles…gone.”
“Always wanted to kill a myth,” muttered Conroy. He raised his assault rifle…then stopped.
A hypersonic bullet tore off Conroy’s head.
Weapons went up in alarm. Boudin raised his pad.
“What the fuck just happened?” roared Moorcock.
“It was the Cerberus,” gasped Boudin. He held up his pad to the Colonel. “Here’s the view from the satellites. I’ll replay it at 1/10th speed.”
Moorcock turned white. “Play that again, slower!” he watched it once more, and his broad shoulders slumped. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” he whispered. “It just opened up and…”
Boudin nodded. “It has weapons nobody in human space knows how to make. Its fur is made from exotic materials that defy physics. You can’t scan it, you can’t get a weapons lock. Attack it, and you’re dead. There’s only been twelve documented cases of Cerberuses in 100 years.”
“So this is the 13th Dog,” sighed Moorcock. He was known for aggression on the battlefield. He also wasn’t stupid. “Top,” he said to Martinside. “Turn ’em around. Let’s go home.”
Chummy entered Aleta Watts’ kitchen as she cut up a chicken. He nuzzled her cheek.
“Chummy!” crooned Aleta. She petted his super-soft fur lovingly.
Aleta knew Chummy’s true nature. The AI’s IQ exceeded hers by an order of magnitude, and she belonged to Mensa. She didn’t care. They had an agreement. She wanted a dog, Chummy preferred being a dog.
“Whatchoo been doing?”
“You’re bored, huh? Nothing to do?” She finished cutting the chicken. “Okay, I’ll throw the ball.”
Chummy pranced excitedly.
“You’re such a Good Boy!”
Top: A colloquial term for the highest-ranked Sergeant in a military unit.
Hypersonic: Speeds faster than Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. Most bullets travel at around Mach 1.
Mensa: A group available to those scoring in the 98th percentile on IQ tests. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensa_International
I’ve written about Chummy before. He’s a favorite, so I keep on writing about him. More stories here:
Chummy’s Report: https://momusnews.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/chummys-report/
Chummy’s Challenge: https://momusnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/chummys-challenge-tipsy-lit/
This is written for Yeah.Write’s weekly fiction challenge. Look for more stories right here: http://yeahwrite.me/fiction-poetry-writing-challenge-205/