My golden yellow eyes stared crisply back at me as I finished straightening up my pristine mud brown fur in the rear view mirror of my banana yellow Mustang GT and I soon stepped out to begin my first day as a fully promoted road engineer aboard the Illinois Northern Railroad’s jointly owned “Racetrack” line between my current and hometown of Chicago all the way to Aurora where our wholly owned line then heads on to Kankakee and points further west toward the border into Iowa. For the first time ever since graduating at the top of my class at the railroad’s training center in Blue Island, I strolled through the door of the Cicero yard and train crew office and planted a seat at the lounge table with my good buddy and conductor who I had simultaneously finished training with, Kella Macintyre who greeted me benevolently the very instant I popped in. She was a kind young wolf three years ahead of my age of twenty who came to us from the Norfolk and Atlantic Railway over in the so called free state of Maryland. Her fur was a very unique crimson red and peach, and her eyes a lovely bright gold. She smiled warmly at me as I pulled the nearby chair up next to her before stating, “Ah. It’s been quite a while, Isa.” “Yes it has, Red Stripe.” I replied, referring to her by the infamous nickname I had given her and known her by ever since the two of us were pups growing up on the corner of Benton Plaza. “Why’d you even bother coming back? I heard you were handling things pretty well over in the Northeast.” “Yeah but you know I couldn’t last another day without my bread and butter.” Kella answered. “We ride till we die. Remember?” “I most certainly do.” I said, draping a paw around her neck. About another minute later, the yardmaster informed us of our train of the day’s arrival out on the main and we gingerly made our way to the crew hauler van to begin our first day of being wrapped up in each other’s grace indeed once again in well over a good, long decade.
We boarded our train and left a short time later after receiving the clear signal on the first leg of journey toward Beaverville yard about a hundred and twenty miles further west. With Isa at the controls of SD40-2 3927, we gradually inched our fairly long manifest out of the decent sized siding onto the mainline and after a short while began highballing it at thirty plus miles an hour toward the point of Aurora where we then leave behind the shared BNSF trackage and get onto our own line through Naperville and beyond. We gradually made our way around the turn and onto the section of where the main stem highway follows the track for some distance before cutting off just before getting to the town of Plainville and up in that area. We’d made it through about an hour ahead of the morning rush so there was little to no traffic but I then began to notice that one car out of the two that were on the road at the time was seeming pacing our train at the exact same speed, as if planning to make some crazed attempt to jump on like you usually see on television and the big screen. Instead, what came about next was what none of us were expecting at all whatsoever. A borage of bullets, possibly from an AK-47 or some other high powered assault weapon, suddenly rocketed against the bulletproof glass of my closed window. While Isa got on the radio with our dispatcher and informed him of our current situation, I thought fast and did the only thing imaginable to do in situations such as this and took the second option present with every animal on god’s green earth; the fight one. I drew my Smith and Wesson magnum pistol from the holster on my belt and cracked my window just ever so slightly to fire out of it and managed to put one bullet each into the car’s right front and rear tires, almost instantly rendering it out of commission and having it fishtail to the left, careening with the guardrail so hard that it plummeted over the edge and came to a hard rest on the road below on its roof. Behind it, came another car, a Cadillac Escalade with more goons spraying bullets out of all sides at us which with one precisely aimed shot into the driver’s skull, I took out and sent the car veering to the right where it skidded into the guardrail and was soon left behind as from then on, our train continued on our merrily way to Beaverville with police sirens howling in the distance to investigate just what the hell this was and the mysterious motive behind what had just happened.
We caught a break the coming weekend which Isa and I gladly took the time to do some digging and figure out just who or what had planned the attack on us the previous Monday and just what their whole motive was for doing so. The guy who both our company’s police and the CPD had been looking for was a wolf named Charles Swanson, a pretty well-known gangbanger up around the projects area who had a pretty colorful history of shooting up and actually killing a few railroad employees on the BNSF dating all the way back to late 2015. We were going to pay him a little visit and see just what bit of history we could find on him and the organization he leads before slopping the bastard ourselves right where he stood. We made our way over to the North Lawndale projects as quick as we could and just as planned, found the condemned house that was said to be a club room and meeting place for the Genesis gang and who else would be there but obviously the inglorious leader of the murderous pack of assholes himself, Swanson. After giving a good tug and pulling off the boards on the front door, I kicked it open and slowly followed Isa inside. Before we could even draw our weapons and prepare ourselves for what lay ahead however, there was a loud, blood curdling scream that rang out from the basement area followed by at least two more shouts of pain and then the sound of boots thumping up the stairs fast and hard. Before either of us could react a gold colored lioness appeared before the both of us with apple green eyes similar to mine that shimmered like gems in the darkness of the boarded up windows. She held her grip firmly on the bloodstained knife in her right paw and kept it drawn back in a defensive position, ready to unleash her fury on us at any moment possible. “Who are you and what do you want with me?” She growled. “Talk or I swear I’ll rip out all your organs and eat em up for breakfast.” “Relax.” I replied calmly. “I know you. You’re the one Aaron told me about a while ago that he used to roll with back in his former profession. Kari Voucher’s the name right? Though I coulda sworn he said you were dead.” “I was.” Kari answered simply. “But not quite.” She began to slowly explain to me the story of how she was captured and soon shot in the head by some power hungry drug lord named Zeke Cortez but miraculously she managed to survive the bullet by chance and stumbled her way out of the building she was trapped in just before it exploded and then managed to make her way into town to a nearby hospital where they removed the round and she luckily was able to recuperate fully. “Well, sounds like you’ve had it pretty rough.” Isa said sympathetically. “But it sure is a damn good miracle that you managed to pull through alright. We’re on the heels of a guy named Charles Swanson. Know anything about him?” “What a coincidence.” Kari replied. “So am I. That piece of shit murdered both my parents in a drive by when I was growing up over on the east side. Been endlessly on his trail without rest ever since then.” “Oh. I’m sorry.” Isa said solemnly. “Me too.” Kari answered with a sigh. “Me too.” “Think you could tell us where to find him?” I asked. “And if it’s all the same with you, you’re more than welcome to tag along with us.” “One of his goons said something about a meeting over at his Purple Swan swing dance club on west 39th street. I’d be more than happy to put him one step closer to the grave.” “Alrighty then.” I smirked. “Time to go get our paws a little dirty.”
“Motherfucker, did you just touch me?!” Kari growled at the bouncer outside of The Purple Swan as we prepared to make our way inside. The heavyset wolf gave her a hard glare then pointed with his pen at his clipboard. “I’ve already told you once before.” He said in a gruff tone. “If you’re not on the list, you’re not getting in. It’s as simple as that.” “Oh, yeah?” I retorted. “Well, how bout this?” Before he could even think of saying another word, I reared back into a starting position and charged forward with a jump kick so fast and so hard that his body was sent careening through the double doors of the establishment, knocking him out cold almost instantly and sending glass shards flying in all directions on the floor upon impact. “Who wants to kindly show us where your boss is?” Isa demanded as we slowly strode inside with our weapons drawn, ready for just about any sudden moves that the two other wolves ahead of us were bound to make. “Who’s asking?” A black and white wolf said as he swaggered in between the two club guards and then took a long drag on his cigar before slowly putting it out in the ashtray on the bar behind him. His fiery orange eyes then turned to Kari as he gave her a quick once over and then grinned malevolently before speaking. “You… I recognize those emotions present on your face anywhere as ones of deep anger, hatred, and despair. Tell me, girl. How did it feel watching your parents die, knowing that no matter how hard you may have had an effort in saving them, they were already too far gone and there was no one to blame but yourself.” “You shut your fucking mouth!” Kari snapped. “I loved both of them and they loved me! At least they were actually one of the few provocative ones in that corner of the city unlike you and your pack of leaches that feed off all the blood of the innocent!” “Enough!” He growled then turned to his goons. “Boys, make sure none of them ever leaves here alive. I want each and every one of them in a body bag by midnight.” The two wolves at either side of him nodded and we all took cover behind the columns as they began to unleash a rainstorm of bullets on us from any and all sides of the club as more soon began to pour out of the door backstage. I drew my 357 magnum and with three well placed shots to the chest, took out one of the Genesis wolves just as Isa dropped another with a headshot and Kari eliminated three more with shots to the throat and temple. When the room was clear, we hurriedly made our way through the rear exit only to find that Swanson had now hopped in a black Maserati in the parking lot and was now speeding off, heading west down the turn off of 39th onto the main road toward east 38th. We all raced as quick as we could to my silver BMW parked on the other edge at the corner of the club and took off in hot pursuit of Swanson, racing down the fairly clear streets of the eastern suburbs of the city before we caught up to him just before he made the turn onto the plaza and I veered hard into him, turtling his car onto its roof and causing it to skid at least four to five feet before coming to rest against a light post on the edge of the curb. I made my way toward the driver’s side door and after giving him a hard punch to his already bloody muzzle upon opening it, ripped him out and forced him hard onto the pavement while Isa and Kari both stood over him scowling. “Nowhere to run now, Swanson.” I said with a sadistic smirk of my own. “How’s it feel to be on the receiving end of the stick of payback?” “Please.” He began to plead as if he was suddenly the one who was innocent. “Let me go. I’ll do anything you three want. I’m sorry. Just please don’t…” “Too late.” Kari cut in before stopping hard on her face with her boot. “Ten years too late.” I invited Isa and Kari back at my place as soon as police had taken over the whole maddening scene and we had spent nearly a good hour or so sitting in front of my flat screen in the living room watching the story unfold on the news about the public now knowing and telling tales about us three brave souls who mercilessly stepped into the face of peril and emerged victorious to stop the one wolf who had kept nearly a portion of this city down on its knees. “Let’s make a pact.” I said to Kari as I sat down and took a place next to her on the sectional. “Your family may be gone but so is the parasite who tore them from you like the bloodsucking vulture he is. So now, the three of us, we’re all a family now and will always be until the day we close our eyes and leave this very earth. We’ll make a vow to protect this city and always be there for any and all whoever may come in harm’s way. How does that sound to you, sister?” “I’d like that.” Kari replied with an affirmative nod. “It all sounds very promising. What should be the name of our little group?” I paused for a brief moment in time and then smiled before looking at both of them and answering, “The Oath Keepers.”
Kella McIntyre from the "Westbound and Down" and "Rail Warriors" series returns in an all new and powerful railroad crime drama that finds her and her engineer, Isa Jackson the targets of an attempted assassination by a high ranking group in which the two investigate and end up finding a little more than they bargained for over the course of their digging.