R.O.A.R

“what you were will not happen again. the tigers have found me and I do not care.” ― Charles Bukowski

Code of Silence Pt 2

15th Jan 2023, 5:23 AM in Chapter 7 NULL
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Code of Silence Pt 2
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Author Notes:

DiggityDogDingo 15th Jan 2023, 5:23 AM edit delete
DiggityDogDingo
iers curled back up in his chair, cradling a cup of coffee in his paws. Despite Tray’s insistance, he’d never quite developed a taste for tea. Instead, he preferred the strong black sludge he’d managed to coax from the depths of various coffee pots over the years.

“So why Valkyrie?” asked Palmer as he sat back down in the matching twin chair opposite to Viers’s, albeit with less signs of use. The panda was working through the end of his second cup and was resisting the urge to pour himself a third.

The cheetah pondered the question for a second, before retorting with one his own

“Why the name? Or why the company? Or why would Trevor decide to become a lawyer of all things?”

Palmer thought for a moment. “I guess all of the above and if it’s not too forward, why did you sign on with them?”

Viers chuckled, his voice without merriment as he focused intently on the panda.

“Well, I’m sure it’s no secret to SPEARE what kind of… ”position” we found ourselves in after the war.”

The panda shifted uncomfortably in his chair “We’re aware of your”history” with the Scrubbers, yes.” The mention of the organization made him uncomfortable. The Scrubbers in a way were the spiritual predecessors to organizations like SPEARE, but that was all they had in common. Their doctrines on dealing with exords being as different as night and day..

Viers nodded. “After our – let’s call it a “penance” – was done, Trevor was rather sick of the whole thing if I’m being honest. He briefly thought about following me back to Senegal, but it was not a quiet time in that part of Africa in the 60s either.”

The cheetah stirred the cooling coffee. “He wanted more anyway, it never sat right with him what was done to us during the war, or after. He wanted to make sure such things didn’t thrive in the shadows, or at least not do so with impunity.”

“A worthy goal.” Palmer offered.

“Indeed,” Viers nodded his approval “Valkyrie has provided a legal voice for involuntary exords where there was none and we’re very proud of that. We’re really not so different from SPEARE in that regard.”

It was the Panda’s turn to chuckle. “I’m glad you think so, the higher ups back home were starting to wonder, with the amount of paperwork your lawyers send our way whenever we so much as glance over the pond.”

Viers smiled over the edge of his cup. “Your organization is a much more responsive rival, Agent Palmer, Trevor tired of whooping Her Majesties Scrubbers in court some years ago.”

He paused, looking around at the decadently decorated room. “And it gives him something to do with all this wealth, besides squander it on cocaine and ‘women of the night’.”

The panda choked on the last of his coffee, caught off guard at the sudden frankness. At loss for words he finally managed to sputter out “Is that true?”

“The tabloids sure seem to think so.” The cheetah remarked without confirming either way.

“As for why I agreed to consult for Tray? Well, it’s convenience really. Many exords pass through Valkyrie’s doors, and while I don’t have the answers for all of them. The more I can learn, research and listen ,the more I know.”

The panda nodded. “Hoagie-Excuse me I mean Dr. McDonald, he spoke very highly of your work last time we were together.”

“I am glad to hear that Agent Palmer, I have a strong respect for him as well, especially with our certain mutual friend.”

If Palmer noticed the bait, he didn’t take it. “Valkyrie, that’s a Norse thing, isn’t it?”

Viers nodded again, realizing his probing was not going to yield the answer he wanted and continuing with their conversation “You are correct. And as for why that particular word, the Valkyries were people once, until they transcended into something more. Not fully gods, not fully people but something in between. A force for justice.”

“Does Mr. Young see you as demigods?” The question slipped out before Palmer could stop himself. He wished he could call back the words as the gulf of silence seemed to stretch open before them.

The room felt noticeably cooler as the cheetah carefully placed his cup to the side before responding.

“No Agent Palmer, he does not” Viers responded with a subtle but noticeable edge to his tone. “Trevor is many things, most of them vices of one sort or another. But at his core, he is a realist.”

Viers paused, picking his words delicately before speaking further. “It is unfortunate that you’ve seen what we’re capable of at our worst, but I’m sure Kowalski- wherever you’ve hidden him, would agree. We’re certainly not some next step in an evolutionary chain.”

Palmer winced at the name they had been so carefully dodging up till now. If Viers noticed, he didn’t pay it any attention,

“No, Trevor picked Valkyrie because he never lost sight of the fact that we were ordinary once. That everyone in our position was ordinary once, and in the face of that fact, the responsibility he felt to use his experience to protect those less capable than himself.”

A sudden loud BANG from the roof made both men jump, Palmer shooting to his feet, the coffee forgotten as the cup and saucer clattered to the ground. It was followed in quick succession by two additional shots and a third ringing out before Palmer could react.

Whipping a hand to his ear he practically shouted. “Brooker what the hell was that?”

When no response came, the Panda broke for the door, the cheetah following him in quick succession.

“Agent Palmer I assure you it’s-”

“Not now Dr. Morel!” He shouted backwards picking up his pace as he made a dash for the stairs to the roof.

-

Trevor had expected someone to follow him when he had stormed out of the room. He had hoped he could make it to the roof before being herded back inside. But after a moment he realized he was alone.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he slowed from a jog to a leisurely if purposeful stroll. He hadn’t been alone in what felt like weeks, even if in reality it had only been days.

Ever since SPEARE had shown up, there had been some agent dogging at his every move. And if not them, Viers had been stuck to his side like glue.

It was enough to drive anyone a bit nutty, the corgi thought, reasoning with himself that he was certainly not over reacting to the indignities of being under surveillance twenty-four seven.

“I can take care of myself, I always have,” he assured the paintings of long dead family members that lined the hall. He couldn’t recall the intricate web of relationships and names, nor did he care to. It had never really been his calling to take up the pomp and circumstance that came with the family, the estate, the titles.

With a small grin, he recalled the quiet rage so eloquently depicted in the letter that had found him at the front in Tunisia; the overt threats of being disowned if he didn’t admit to his superiors that he’d lied about his age in order to enlist; the more subtle threats between each line about what would happen if his childish actions caused grandmother to pass on from the sheer scandal of it all.

Of course, none of that mattered once he had been captured by the Germans months later with Viers, north of Naples.

His grip tightened on the rifle, a familiar anger bubbling up from within as he came to the staircase that led to the roof.

It was barely a year. The corgi thought, continuing with his inner monologue One year out of your life.

You should be over it by now.

Taking the stairs one by one the corgi lost himself to his thoughts. Different times, different roofs, different stairs. He remembered them all in his mind as if he was still there, the winter chill biting at his fur, death looming in every shadow.

You’ve gone soft Trevor. You let an absolute nobody hold you at gun point, in your own office because you felt safe. You let your guard down, and now you’re being babysat by a bunch of rookies. Yank rookies no less.

The corgi paused before the final door that led to the roof. Amber eyes shining through the dim darkness.

I won’t let it happen again.

Tray inhaled deeply, one hand wrapped firmly around the worn rifle, another on the knob of the door as he stepped out into the darkness.

-

"Brooker? Palmer here. I think you're about to get a visitor. Use your best judgment, understand?"

The radio clicked off in the raccoon’s ear and it occurred to Agent Brooker – not for the first time – that he was not having a good day.

Boy I really pulled the short straw on this assignment.

With a sigh, Brooker turned towards the rest of his soaked squad that had had the unfortunate luck to be stuck up on the roof in the rain with him.

“Sounds like Palmer couldn’t run interference any longer boys.” He paused to pull his coat tighter around him as a gust of wind sent a fresh wave of water down his unprotected neck. “I know it’s a tough ask but try and act professional. And for Christ’s sake, don’t give him any more ammo to badger the boss with.”

A chorus of groans came across from the roof as the group readjusted their various footings, a rather sheepish looking Puma speaking up.

“I’m sorry Brooker, I didn’t me-”

“Don’t apologize Lewis. It could have happened to any one of us. It’s slicker than an ice rink up here and dropping rain faster than Wright drops his paycheck at the bar.”

The agents chuckled as Wright – a rather stout mink who was positioned on a south facing chimney – became the subject of some ribbing.

After the laughter died down, Wright spoke up. “You know Brooker, Young’s probably right. Doubt anyone is crazy enough to try something in this mess. It’s got to be an absolute sinkhole of mud out there by now.”

Brooker seemed to ponder that for a moment, holding a cigarette in his paws before trying to light it in vain with a soaked lighter. With a shrug and a sigh he pocketed the water logged box before speaking once again.

“You know that, and I know that, and whatever Gods we’ve pissed off know that. But damn if we’re letting Young know that. If we give him an inch, we’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Agent Brooker, was it?”

The raccoon twirled around towards the door leading back inside the manor as he heard the sound of his name in an almost booming bark. All he could see was a silhouette standing in the door, darkened by the bright lights of the indoors shining around him, but he knew who it was.

“Yeah, that’s me. So nice of you to come check on us Mr. Young.” Scowled Agent Brooker, thankful for the gloom obscuring his scowl.

“So, you’re the one in charge of this circus?” The stout corgi asked innocently.

Ah, it was going to be one of those discussions

“In a manner of speaking, yes I’m the one in charge.” Brooker replied through gritted teeth, trying to keep a handle on his temper.

“Rain seems to be letting up.” Tray remarked looking at the clouds that had seemed to part just enough to let a bit of moonlight through.

“Fancy that.” Brooker barked out. “Did you come out here just to see if we were getting on in the rain Mr. Young?”

Brooker regarded the man in front of him. Trevor was unremarkable by most standards. Short for a corgi, with completely average looks and a mess of orange hair that was starting to thin in spots. The only characteristic that really stood out was a pair of golden irises that betrayed there was something more to the corgi than met the eye.

Irises that were currently trying to burn a hole through the raccoons forehead at the present moment.

“I take extreme issue with your occupation of my roof.” Trevor started.

“We are WELL aware of that fact Mr. Young. But I assure you, you’re in no safer hands than the gentleman trying to do their jobs out here tonight.” Brooker remarked, his volume growing ever so slightly.

Hands on his hips, the corgi smirked. “Is that so?”

“They wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case.” The raccoon pressed on. “ Every one of them is highly trained and has passed SPEARE’s marksman certification with flying colors. If there’s something out there, they’ll see it.”

“Well then, you wouldn’t mind a little wager then; to pass the time.” Tray interrupted, a grin starting to appear at the edges of his muzzle.

Brooker’s eyes narrowed. He was caught off guard by the sudden cavalier attitude. “What kind of wager Mr. Young.”

“There’s a barn about 600 yards or so to the west, just over that ridge there.” The corgi didn’t even look as he started to stretch out his shoulder. “Use your fancy scope to find the weather vane. Sky should be clear enough for it now.”

Lewis the puma shouldered his rifle, casting a look back at Brooker that asked “Do I really have to do this.”

The raccoon shrugged before gesturing with his hands to continue.

Squinting into the darkness the big cat posted against the roof line, peering through the scope on his rifle as he scanned the horizon, looking for the barn. He found it after a while the weather vane up top catching the moonlight that was still weakly shining through the drizzle.

“I got it,” Lewis announced, not taking his eye off the scope.

“So, what’s this wager Mr. Young?” Brooker asked again. “You must know that leaving our post up here is not something we can bet on.”

“Oh I know that sure enough.” The corgi responded holding his rifle in one paw. “Protocol and what not.”

Brooker was getting exacerbated, wondering if he could expense pain and suffering to SPEARE. “So, what do you want then?”

Tray grinned. “To get you to admit I’m a better shot than you boys up here.”

The raccoon was silent for a moment, at a loss for words. Somewhere someone let out a cough that sounded very much like a chuckle.

“Mr. Young-” he started.

“Come now Agent Brooker, it’s an innocent enough proposition.” Tray pressed. “There’s a nice berm behind the barn, it’s safe enough.”

“Alright Fine you can try it if it’ll get you back inside.” Brooker relinquished through gritted teeth.

“Great!”

Not giving the raccoon a chance to think better of it the corgi moved past him until he was next to the puma.

“Lewis, was it? Alright, go ahead and plant one on the tail of that weather vane.”

The puma hesitated, taking his eye off the scope just a moment as he glanced to Brooker for some direction. After getting an affirmative nod from his superior, he shrugged and sighted up his target, pulling the trigger a few seconds later. The powerful rifle let out a BANG that echoed off the roof. A faint ping followed as Wright turned a pair of binoculars towards the barn.

“Dead center Lewis, good shot!”

Tray nodded in agreement. “Not bad, didn’t have to walk it in or anything. Impressive.”

Lewis removed his eye from the scope, turning towards the corgi to see if he was being mocked. When he found the compliment was genuine, he relaxed against the roof line he had been posted on.

Tray took up position where the Puma had been, laying prone on the side of the roof. It was still a bit slick, and he took a second to get comfortable.

“My turn.”

Bringing the worn Mosin up to his cheek, the corgi closed his eyes. The world seemed to melt away into silence. The rain turning to snow blowing gently against his face. The thunder on the horizon sounding more like distant shells. He felt the anger well up from within him, years and years of it just bubbling in every fiber of his core. Tray let himself feel it, truly for the first time in a long time as the air around him seemed to crackle in response.

Never again

The corgi’s eyes flew open as he fired the aging rifle. One, two, three The shots were so fast that the squad on the roof didn’t have a chance to react before Tray was standing back up tucking the Mosin under his arm.

“Good night gentlemen.”

“Wait that’s it? You’re not even going to look where you landed?” Brooker sputtered.

“I know what I shot.” Tray chuckled matter of factly as he walked back towards the door. “I’m going to bed now, try to avoid stomping around like a herd of elephants.”

The SPEARE agents on the roof were speechless as the door shut behind the orange corgi.

As Tray walked down the stairs, whistling to himself he was almost knocked over by Agent Palmer dashing up from the bottom.

“MR. YOUNG.” Palmer panted.

“Nothing to worry about Agent Palmer, just some friendly shooting.”

Viers peered around the panda, having caught up to them. “I tried to tell you Agent Palmer-”

“Excuse me Mr. Young…” Palmer asked, incredulous at the situation.

The corgi stepped to the side as the panda sprinted by him leaving the two on the stairs.

Tray turned towards the cheetah who was giving him a reproachful stare. “Oh, don’t look at me like that Spots. You’re worse than my mother when you’re like that.”

As the two made their way down Viers broke the silence. “Your mother was a saint, Tray.”

“You only met her the once.”

“It was enough. Now, what did you do on the roof?” Viers pressed, not willing to let it go.

Tray waved a hand dismissively “Just a bit of sport Viers, nothing alarming.”

-

“Brooker!” Palmer burst through the door to find the four men on the roof crowded around Wright who was intently looking through his binoculars. Agent Brooker stood from where he had been kneeling.

“It’s ok Palmer, nothing’s wrong.”

The panda seemed incredulous. “I thought someone had been shot.”

Brooker chuckled. “Naw, just a barn over yonder. Young had a point to prove. You should take a look.”

Palmer picked his footing carefully as he made his way over to the darkly clad squad. He squinted into the darkness. “What barn?”

“Wright, show him what we’re looking at.” The raccoon commanded.

The mink stood up, offering the binoculars to the panda. Once they had gotten him focused on the barn, Wright started explaining. “Ok see that big hole in the middle? That’s where Lewis put his first shot.”

Palmer squinted. “That seems like a pretty big hole for our rifles Agent Wright.”

“Exactly.”

“Where did Young shoot?”

The mink paused for a second. “That’s why the hole is so big. Those are Young’s shots on top of Lewis’.”

All the men stood in silence for a brief moment before Palmer lowered the binoculars, finally speaking

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

-Fin

https://open.spotify.com/track/0zjmzjudjC5tPyFZJszvDU?si=c66d4f38fb4d4910

That ended up being MUCH longer than I had originally intended but hey! ended up being a chance to throw in some world building that I wished I had done earlier in the comic.

ROAR will be RESUMING weekly updates starting next week! I'm VERY excited and happy to be working on the comic again.