CP-02 Farm Filling

Story by Pouchlaw on SoFurry

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#2 of Cardinal Pack

When a collection of Hell Hounds are sent to Earth for their pack rites, they meet up with a new friend where upon new adventures begin. This is Cardinal Pack Episode Two.

**Cardinal Pack Episode Two - Farm Filling By Darrel James Vanwinkle (Pouchlaw/Ratseye) June 4th, 2015

:Freeborn farm, Ridgeview, South Dakota; Planet Earth:**

After dinner that night, Isaac permitted all of the animals to sleep in the master bedroom with him this time, Not just Southfang; even Number 47 was moved into the bedroom so he could be near Isaac and the others.

It was still raining the next morning when Isaac was heard answering his telephone. "Hello, Freeborn Farm. What's that, Maria? The roof is leaking over your vet office and you want me to come over and fix it right now?" Then he paused. "In case you forgot, Maria, your husband hates my guts. If he sees my van at your vet office, he will come unglued like he usually does. He should relax and lay off of me, you know... I've been dating someone else lately. I met them on Halloween Night after I left the party. You tell your husband that and I will fix your roof." He paused one last time. "Okay, Maria. ETA, about 10 minutes. Bye." And he hung up the phone.

Southfang looked up at Isaac. "I really do not trust Maria's husband, Isaac. Are you sure you want to go over there by yourself in the rain?"

"You guys are welcome to ride in the back of the van, if you would like. But I thought you didn't want to be anywhere near the vet office. If Maria finds out I have new animals, she will want to examine you guys."

"We're coming with you," said Dragontail adamantly. "You're one of us now and we already agreed that we do not like this Holden man."

Spiritfang then said, "I just had a thought, guys... if Isaac purposely allowed Maria to examine us while he fixed the roof, he would have a legal reason for being over there. As both a customer and the roof repair man. We need to meet this Maria woman anyway to judge if she shows signs of spouse abuse or not."

Isaac moved Number 47 into the pack den and turned on DTV-66 for him. "You just relax in here, 47, and watch some TV. The hounds and I will be back later. Here is a bowl of carrots for you to munch on while we're gone. If you need to go take a dump please don't do it in the pack den, go to the mud room and kick open the back door and dump your poop right out the back door into the rain. then you can return to the den. We'll be back later." He then gave 47 a fond hug before he headed over to the coat closet next to the front door where he got on his rain gear. "Come on, pack... to the Rites Van."

Once he had the Hell Hounds all loaded into the van, he got the trip underway. "Okay guys, the story is... you guys don't actually belong to me. You belong to my mysterious new girlfriend that I fibbed to Maria about over the phone. In truth, I consider you guys as my trusted dates. we did bond and all. Any questions?"

Coingazer replied with an inquiry, "And we play the dumb non-talking animals to Maria as long as we can, right?"

Isaac replied, "Keep your eyes and ears open, and Spiritfang, don't just look for physical abuse, read her spirit aura as well. You did mention that all manner of information is in someone's aura. Also especially, if Holden shows up while I am on the roof pay close attention to anything he says to Maria. And when he departs, eavesdrop to see if he mutters anything that he might be up to next. I'll be on the roof after I take you five inside."

:Ridgeview Veterinary Clinic, South Dakota; Planet Earth:

Isaac escorted the five Hell Hounds inside the clinic where Maria and her husband awaited Isaac's arrival.

"Maria tells me that you are dating finally, Isaac," said her husband. "I guess I was wrong about you, after all."

"Yes, Hellena is quite the woman, Holden. In fact, These are her dogs she is having me take care of while she is working at information services for the I.I.C. She said it was government work. Anyway, Maria, Hellena gave me permission to allow you to examine the canines who are all housebroken. Their names, and no, I did not name them... Southfang, Firepaw, Dragontail, Coingazer, and Spiritfang. Southfang prevented a crook from stealing my van the other day. Anyway, I need to see where the leak in the roof is coming in at so I can get up there and fix it."

Holden then said, "Since you're manning up and dating, Isaac, I have decided to help you fix the roof."

Isaac said, "You aren't even wearing any rain wear. Are you sure you want to tag along with the jack of all trades?"

Holden nodded his head as he went and grabbed his own rain gear and a tool box and then he escorted Isaac out of the clinic and around the side where he set up the ladder to the roof. the bottom of the ladder was held in place by the fence between the clinic and the home next door.

On the roof, Holden showed Isaac where the leaky part of the roof was and together, they started on the repairs. They were about part way finished when Holden asked, "What was finally decided regarding your missing father, Isaac?"

It wasn't the question he expected Mr. Holden to be asking. "How did you find out about that? It's been almost a whispered topic around Ridgeview. Not even the sheriff could find out what happened to my father. I was still in elementary school back then. I got up that morning, got dressed, and had breakfast. My father was in the bathroom taking his morning shower. I finished my bowl of cereal and went out to catch the school bus. That afternoon when I came home, the police were all over the farm and weirder still. All of the farm animals were completely gone. Including my favorite horses and dogs. They said that the shower water was still running, there was no water dripping trail from the bathroom through the bedroom at all. And all of my father's clothes were still laid out on the bed. His shoes were even still beside the bed where he had removed them the previous night. His billfold with five hundred dollars and all of his ID was still on the nightstand untouched. and his car was still in the driveway. The keys were in the bedroom on the dresser. Where ever my father went with all of the animals, he went in the nude. None of the reservation Indians saw anything across the way at the farm. Although they had seen me get on the bus to go to school that morning. My brother moved back in to help take care of me as I grew up there. Father's will said the entire property had been left to me. While five thousand dollars in the bank account was to be given to my brother. I got the farm and he got the money. He never complained at that arrangement and my father is still missing. There have been no witnesses, Holden. Why the interest in this old case?"

Holden reached out and held on to Isaac's shoulder. "I work in a government animal research lab over in the next county. Maria doesn't know, Isaac. Please don't tell her. The other day, one of the local farmers in the next county brought in a dog with an old collar which had a faded rusty metal tag on it. In fact, the collar had been around the dog's neck the wrong way. When we removed the rust from the ID plate, it had your father's name on it. When I saw that, I called Maria and asked her who that was. I recognized the last name as being yours and when she told me about the mystery of your missing father. I decided right then that despite our differences, I needed to tell you about this."

Isaac said, "The only two dogs back then who wore ID plates on their collars were Old Blue and Silver. You could tell Silver since his eyes looked silver in coloration despite his dark coat. The other was a blue tick hound."

"Then you're in some luck," said Holden. "the dog we found was Silver. You described him perfectly. He looked shaken though. If you would like, after we fix up the roof, I can take you to pick up Silver and then maybe you can learn more of this mystery finally."

Isaac said, "Getting any kind of closure on dad's disappearance would help greatly. Thank you for bringing me this information. As for Maria... I swear, Holden. We are simply school friends. We've known each other since elementary school. She is a good friend and she is about the only school chum still around who I can trust with anything. I have never tried to have sex with her. If you have scored with her, then congratulations. You got away with something her older brother said he would kill the rest of us if we tried it. I take it you haven't met Maria's older brother yet, have you?"

Holden looked concerned. "What's his name?"

Isaac replied as he finished hammering the last tack into the new roofing tile. "Winston Phelps. He once got in trouble for almost killing a peeping tom who tried to see Maria as she was bathing at home during her junior year in high school. I was smart enough to only see Maria in school. That was enough for me. Winston, they say, was a little wacky. But that's an unfounded rumor. So don't quote me on that. I wonder how Maria is getting along with Hell's hounds."

Once they were back on the ground, Holden went in and told Maria that he was going to escort Isaac into the next county where a farmer had found one of the Freeborn family dogs. "I should be back soon. Isaac is excited over this turn of events since this could be the clue his family needs for solving his father's disappearance."

"Okay, honey, drive carefully. I don't want you to get in trouble in this rain. Isaac, stay safe. You are the only childhood male friend I have left in Ridgeview."

As Isaac loaded the Hell Hounds into the van and they took their positions, Holden got into the front passenger side bucket seat and fastened his seat belt. Isaac then got in and when he turned the key in the ignition and the motor purred to life, Holden said, "I have never heard your van run in such good condition before. Did you take it in for a tune-up?"

Isaac shot a grin back at Spiritfang as he replied, "You might say that." And then he got the van underway following Holden' directions.

And for the second time that day, Holden surprised Isaac when he spoke. "There is no Hellena, is there, Isaac? I work for the government myself and I have never heard of the I.I.C. And then you told Maria that you didn't make the dog names up. Why say that unless your story wasn't true. What's the real story, Isaac. Come on, I brought you an important clue regarding your father. I deserve to know what I got myself into."

"Okay guys, you don't have to play dumb anymore. He did ask politely and he is right. He deserves to know, I just hope he can keep his peace if he wants me to keep my peace with Maria regarding his day job." And the flood gates were opened after that.

Southfang said, "If he blows it, Isaac, Maria will be the least of his worries. Remember what we did to the Dragontail fake? That could be done with a human, you know."

Coingazer smiled as he read the newspaper. "What are the odds of this situation occurring again. Horse numbers 32, 68, and 11 in races 2, 3, and 4 this Saturday." He was using a pencil to circle his choices in the paper.

Firepaw moved closer to the front. "Despite artist conceptions to make us look like monsters, Holden. We are Hell Hounds. Either be nice to Isaac or we can make your next nightmare stallion be one your rear end will never forget. I know where several are currently who are in their rutting season. And they don't care if you are male, female or other."

Spiritfang then stepped to the front, "Behave, Firepaw. Tonight is a pizza night and if you cause Holden to make a mess in the bucket seat and we have to smell it, I will lightning bolt your ass. Greetings, Holden, I, Spiritfang, am the one who gave the van its overhaul jump start. It doesn't dare die on us now. Keep in mind, I can read auras, so if you are lying to Isaac, you will be found out."

Dragontail glanced up from where he was reading about the next proving rite. "I originate from a militant pack, Holden. We do everything by the book back home. As with the government, as I am sure you are aware, there are some things known of but kept secret for a reason. Not every underworlder is evil. Just as how every angel you can meet are not always good. As for invoking God, that has no effect on an underworlder. And holy water is a waste of time since we are not undead. Blessed Silver... do we look like werewolves or vampires?"

Holden focused on Coingazer. "Can you do that with the Greyhound races over on page six, Coingazer? I was thinking about placing a bet there this weekend to raise money for a surprise present for Maria."

The shadow hound turned to page six of the newspaper and said, "All of these greyhounds are bitches, Holden. Does Maria know you want to gamble on other ladies?" He laughed since his ever present smile never wavered. "They are only having one race this week... and the winner will be Charlotte's Wind, followed by Tornado in second, and Glossy in third. The horses are easier to predict, Holden, and worth a lot more than the dog races, too. If you bet 150 dollars on Charlotte's Wind, you might end up with about five thousand dollars. Is Maria worth it?"

Holden replied, "I think Isaac knows that Maria is definitely worth it."

"She truly is. And now that you have met the proving rites pack, you can see now why I don't have time for dating. I was chosen as their host caretaker while they are on Earth. Spiritfang is also interested in my father's disappearance. So while I am driving, why don't you tell Spiritfang what you told me earlier about Silver."

And that is what Holden did. And his story was the same the second time through, for which Isaac was glad. Holden was being honest about this.

Spiritfang said, "Mr. Holden isn't lying, Isaac. When we see Silver, we might be able to get more details from him directly. A task made easier since Hell Hounds can speak the animal common language."

"That must be handy," remarked Maria's husband. "That could help law enforcement world wide."

"I am sure it could be," remarked Spiritfang. "but what Earth man wants to take a chance on having a denizen of Hell that close to them even for a good cause?"

The rest of the trip was spent in contemplation since Spiritfang had spoken the truth at the end of the conversation.

At the government animal research and testing facility, Mr. Holden signed Silver out and loaded him into the back of the van. Then Isaac drove Holden back to Maria's clinic where he had parked his car. Following that stop, Isaac swung through and picked up an Arden's pizza and some steaks to go. He also went by the grocery store and bought some dog food for Silver. Then the group returned to the farmhouse where Silver was unloaded from the van and escorted inside. Silver looked unsure of wanting to enter the house once he caught the familiar scent of the place. To further get Silver's trust, he took Silver to the mud room and then he prepared a bowl of dog food for the formerly lost family dog.

Finally with a meal in his stomach, Isaac squatted down and examined the collar and tag for himself. "This is Silver's collar and tag alright. Okay guys. Find out what you can from Silver. I need to go check on Number 47." And he slowly stood up and headed toward the Pack den.

Southfang looked Silver in the eyes and said, "Isaac is simply letting us stay here for a while so you have nothing to fear from us. I am Southfang, the pretty lady is Spiritfang. That's Dragontail, He's Coingazer, and the red hound is Firepaw. We want to know what happened the morning after Isaac went to school when Mr. Freeborn disappeared right out of his shower with no clothes on. What can you tell us, Silver. I am surprised you are still alive after all these years. Isaac has to be in his twenties now and that even happened while Isaac was younger than ten. Please try to remember. It is important. What do you remember of that morning?" Spiritfang stepped over and gently placed a paw upon Silver's head and focused on the canine's aura. But just as suddenly, she stopped and shook her head. "Southfang, while the collar and tag are Silver's this dog isn't Silver. He's too young to be Silver."

As he cleared the door to the pack den, Isaac noticed that Number 47 was not alone in the room. Standing nearby were two extremely sexy nightmare stallions and lounging on the couch was what looked like a kangaroo boomer with an oversized pouch and two small satyr like horn nubs on top of his head. He held a clipboard in one furred hand, had a pencil over his ear, and he was wearing reading glasses. "May I help you people," Isaac said when he saw that the stallions had ribbons with a badge around their necks. "I am Isaac Freeborn the owner of this property and the host of the Proving Pack currently."

The first nightmare stallion lifted his head toward Isaac. "I am herd leader Cerebrum, my partner is herd leader Distractus. The devil kangaroo is Recordspaw Darkpouch, he is an archiver who often works with us. Pardon our appearing inside your house, but word was that you seemed to have an illegal connection to DTV-66. Lord Impy, the owner of said station asked us to look into this. We can see that you do indeed have access to the network since it is on right now. If you can provide your contract agreement you had to sign to receive this network, we can forward that back to Lord Impy and no harm would be done." Distractus then said, "If you got your access through any other means, simply say as much and name names so we can know who to question about this."

Upon hearing the news, Isaac's face turned into one of disgust. "I knew it was too good to be true. I should have been more suspicious." He then focused on the stallions once again. "One of the Proving Rite pack hounds presented me with the programming card to the network and asked me to install it on my receiver so he could watch a game show marathon that was playing on Halloween night. Truth or Dragon Slitting or something like that. The best of the worst liars. The hound who provided the programming card was Firepaw of Brimstone Pack; former slave of the Hell furnaces. I never questioned where he had gotten one of these VIP access cards at. I simply installed it as he asked me to do. Since I allowed myself to be tricked into breaking one of your laws... I do want to make restitution for using the card. Please permit me to set up a payment plan for Lord Impy. What does this VIP access normally cost? And why do I get the feeling that the cost will be my soul?"

Recordspaw then said in a rich Outback accent, "Those barbaric days are long gone, Isaac. No one in the underworld collects souls anymore; it just isn't profitable. Not to mention the clashes with the angels and cherubs that it always caused. Since you were tricked, we can help you with a leniency plan especially since you have offered to make restitution. We don't get to meet honest folk very often. You are a pleasing change from the norm. Allow me to confer with my partners while you go check on the rites pack. Don't kick Firepaw in the butt too hard or you might lose your foot in his black hole. I mean, his asshole." He winked with a grin.

Isaac helped Number 47 up from his spot and out of the pack den to take him back outside. Since it had seemed to stop raining finally, it wouldn't be so bad. He made sure to fetch another carrot for the donkey before taking him outside to the trail leading back to the canyon. "Something tells me that life at the farm is about to get wildly crazy. And you probably don't want to be around for that. I won't blame you if you want to return to the mine, 47. I can always bring you more carrots."

Number 47 nodded his head and took off at a run for the canyon. In truth, he couldn't wait to be away from the Hell denizens. Then Isaac returned to the farm house and once inside, he reared back his foot and he did kick Firepaw in the ass sending the Hell Hound into the clothing hamper.

"What was that for?" asked Firepaw as he rubbed his rump from the kick. "What did I do?"

Southfang and the others glanced over to see what was going on, as Isaac replied, "Lord Impy sent some of his representatives to find out why I happened to have an illegal DTV-66 access. The VIP card you had me use to get access to their network. Thanks to you, I'm on their hot seat. Lord Impy sent Cerebrum and Distractus along with a kangaroo called Recordspaw Darkpouch. They are in the pack den right now and they want to talk to you, Firepaw. We just dealt with the fake Dragontail and now we learn of this about you. Are you an escaped slave from your pack? I have the right to ask that question since I am responsible for your deception. I am going to have to pay for the access you provided to me. Where did you get that card?"

Southfang then said, "Either tell the truth or we have Spiritfang read your feeble mind."

Dragontail then added, "We could just turn him into a human and kick him out of the house."

Spiritfang said, "Just fess up, Firepaw, please. We do not want Isaac to be in trouble for something you did."

Coingazer commented. "Scenario... he stole it from his alpha's receiver. When he first arrived, he said he was oh so glad to be out of the Hell Furnaces, and he had been watching the marathon while waiting for the vortex to be opened. Among packs, VIP access cards are usually only available to Alphas, Mob Bosses, Herd Leaders, and Pride Kings. Yet Mister Former slave just happens to have one of these cards and it works."

Southfang said, "New plan. Firepaw talks or we call home yet again and have information services ask Firepaw's alpha if he is missing a VIP Access receiver card. If he denies it being missing, then Firepaw doesn't have that crime over his head. Otherwise, we prepare to send him right back to the Furnaces, tied up and head first."

Firepaw sighed. "Enough already. Spiritfang, prepare to play lie detector because this is the truth. The day before I was to have gone on my rites trip, I was working in the furnaces and for the record, the furnaces is literally the dump of the underworld. When you throw something away, it ends up there. This includes manure and piss from toilets."

Firepaw then continued. "All Omegas from my pack are assigned slave duties in the furnaces until we come of age, meaning the proving rites. I was doing my job and trying not to caught directly under a manure drop. One of those trash portals suddenly opens and what looks like destroyed TV parts, and a broken receiver suddenly pours out of the opening before it closes. As the broken receiver hit the ground, it shattered and this access card that had been stuck inside of it, bounced free. I picked it up and examined it. The only thing wrong with the card was that it had some singe marks on it likely from the short-circuiting receiver box. I took the card and during my break, I dipped the card in amino acid and then I packed it away to let it dry. The rules of the furnaces is that if you find something in there you really like, you are welcome to keep it for life. I recognized what this card was the moment it appeared. I wasn't sure if it was going to work at all, but when I asked Isaac if he could get DTV-66, I forgot that I hadn't tested the card as yet and then I handed it over to Isaac to use to install the access channel. In fact, when Lord Impy traces the card's serial number, he will likely find that the owner threw it away because he thought it was broken. That TV was certainly destroyed beyond repair. I was as surprised as anyone when the card did work. I am sorry you are the one in trouble, Isaac. I will help you pay for the damages and no, I did not trick you. Okay, Spiritfang, lay it on them. Am I lying?"

Spiritfang replied, "He passes the test, Southfang, he is being honest. He likes Isaac too much to be lying about this. Now we need to speak to these representatives and support Firepaw's story. They can claim that I am covering for his lies, but when they learn I am a totemic Shaman of a pack that doesn't exist anymore, I think they will listen to us."

Soon, the pack and Isaac returned to the pack den where the representatives awaited Isaac's return. Then the pack and human explained what they had learned of the discarded VIP Access card and where it had been located. Having a Totemic Pack shaman present worked just as Spiritfang suggested it might. The reps were more interested in what the rites pack had to say.

Soon, with the VIP access card's serial number in their possession, they were conferring with Lord Impy live through the pack den's own closed circuit channel of Isaac's television. "I just ran a check of that card's serial number, guys, and Firepaw is right. That was a reported defective card damaged in a horrible in-home accident during a home trial demonstration with a potential customer. The receiver and television were total losses but the card was never checked for damages. Thus when the parts were dumped into the furnaces and Firepaw found it, that made him the sole owner of the card according to the Finders Fee laws laid down by Lord Yuskay. An apology is being presented to both Firepaw and Isaac for the jumped conclusion. However, there is still the offer of restitution before we got at the truth, Isaac. As my reps told you, It is refreshing to meet an honest human these days. Therefore, I propose something other than money. Permit my crew and reps to stay at your house and occasionally film your activities for a show we will present on Devi-TV. My camera imps are grade A filming executives and unless they allow you to see them, you would never know they were around. They are that good. Furthermore, perhaps the rites pack could continue to stay at your farm beyond the standard rites exercise and to allow us to film how they interact with a surface world human. We will send more denizens to live at your farm, Isaac, is there anything you could really use around there?"

"Information Devil Mouse Services might be the most handy to have around the farm because the cold case of my missing father since I was a child is not making much sense to those trying to resolve the event. We thought we had a good clue just today but it turned out to be false lead. Of course, if the devil kangaroo and a few stallions want to stay at the farm, I don't see a problem with that around here. However, finances are tight since I am a jack of all trades and I work whenever I can just to feed the rites pack and myself. Is there a job I could perhaps do for you, Lord Impy?"

"I believe we can work something out, Isaac. And I can pay you in Earth money as well. Information Services will be tickled to have an Earth based office on the surface world. I will inform them of your offer immediately. As for your father, what was his full name and in what capacity did he disappear?"

Isaac replied, "This might excite your viewers something fierce, Lord Impy... My father, Ian Freeborn was a widower and was quite the good looking young man back when I was eight years old. It was a school morning and sometime after I went off to catch the school bus, my father, whom had been taking a shower, disappeared without a trace. Without any of his clothes, money, nor his vehicle; however, every animal on the farm also disappeared that same day. When I came home from school, the police were all over the property because my father failed to report in to pick up his paycheck from the place he used to work at. A friend chose to call the police. My older brother had to move back in to take care of me. I inherited the farm where we are right now."

"What did he look like back then? And do you also have a photo of yourself at eight years of age?" asked Lord Impy with the typical impish smile.

Isaac then fetched a photograph of the family and one of his young photos of himself taken the year his father vanished. "My father is standing third from the left. The others in the family photo are my deceased mother, my older sister, my older brother who likes horses, myself in the front with Silver and Old Blue. The horse next to my brother was Oilspill. We didn't name him that; I swear it." He then held up a photo of himself from the day his father vanished. "And this is what I looked like back then. How will this help you in this case, Lord Impy?"

"Your personal photo was to excite an imp like me to do a good job. As for the other, I can share that with Information services and they will use it to try and track down your father."

Southfang smiled. "He is still a perv as always, Isaac. He likes looking at cute boys."

Isaac said, "If he wants to see more, I can oblige him with that request. But take a picture, it lasts longer." He then disrobed in front of the monitor and posed for the imp lord.

Later that afternoon, more underworld denizens did arrive to help occupy the growing farm. There was little to upgrade in the outbuildings on the property and the new residents were all too happy to work on those projects since they would be living in those quarters. The wiring was overseen by electrician imps and Devil Mice who all wore safety gear. Each residential abode within the barn now had their own DTV-66 access as well as their own bathing quarters and sleeping spaces. The Information Devil Mice converted the attic space of the house into their on-Earth headquarters where they would work on the case laid out for them from Isaac.

A few days later, Southfang and Dragontail had Isaac and the rites pack gathered once again for the next portion of their proving rites. And Isaac was once again in his Jackpaw form. "As you guys know," started the Southfang. "with all of the construction that we were overseeing around the farm, we sort of put the rites on a back burner, but I have not forgotten them. And now it is time to try to perform the next proving rite. Test 3: Survey your surroundings. We have to travel to the highest mountains to assess our immediate area. Then we would return to the home base. For this we each have to travel alone. Again, Jackpaw, if you want to back out of this, I will give you an opening for declining what we have to do."

Jackpaw just shook his head. "I agreed to do these things with you guys until the end. How would it look to Dragontail if I suddenly turned chicken."

Dragontail and Coingazer both voiced the same opinion. "Tasty."

Firepaw then said, "After we return to regroup at the farm, we wait a sufficient amount of time before searching for anyone who hasn't reported in as yet."

Spiritfang nodded her head. "I think that is an acceptable stipulation, however, you forget already one of Lord Impy's offers to film the rites pack objectives. While we did comply with the first two tests the other night just so the imp could film those events. Each of us will have an invisible camera imp with us to film our outings. If one of us gets into some trouble, the imp can inform the rest of the pack about what happened."

Southfang nodded his head. "You are right, Spiritfang, I did already forget about the imps. Not to mention, I would like to get this rite test done before the Winter snow settles into the region. The radar report over the local stations said we maybe had about six to eight hours before the cold winds and heavy clouds moved into the area. And I do not want to be freezing on a mountain top after the snow hits."

Jackpaw said, "The early November rains were cold enough when we were in the canyon the first time."

Looking at a map of the region, they saw that there were three mountains around their territory. Two were close by while the third was perhaps a few days journey away. They didn't have a few days to spare, so they opted for the two closer ones as their goals.

Climbing a mountain as a feral was probably not going to be easy on Jackpaw, or so Coingazer figured, so he followed him to the mountain the former human had chosen to climb. He figured he could help his pack brother in getting up the mountain and no one would be the wiser, not realizing he was doing exactly what Southfang expected the pack to do for each other.

As Jackpaw made his ascent, his back paw slipped on the still wet rocks from the last rain and he was surprised when his paw was caught in the strong paw grip by Coingazer. "I cannot have you falling, pack brother. Southfang doesn't have to know. Besides, I don't want you to fail and get injured up here. I like you."

Once Jackpaw was past the slippery spot, he assisted Coingazer over that spot and then the rest of the climb to the summit was actually much easier. Once they reached the top, they could both see the looming snow clouds coming in from the northwest. "Coingazer, old buddy, this system is traveling faster that the weather reporter on TV said. We don't have a few hours anymore. We need to get off of this mountain right now and somehow get word to the others to either abort until later or hurry it up."

Coingazer said, "Southfang will never abort a test. You heard him, he will succeed or die trying. At least Firepaw, Dragontail and Spiritfang tackled the other mountain with him. Although what I am about to do may be grand scale cheating, but as you said, we don't have a few hours anymore." He then placed his paws around Jackpaw and while holding him tight, leaped down off of a cliff and mid fall, they vanished through the shadows and both landed within view of Spiritfang on the other mountain. "Spirit! Get word to the others that we don't have a few hours anymore, Jackpaw and I saw the storm moving in while we were on top of the other mountain. It will be here in under an hour. I'm going to get Jackpaw back to the farm so we can get a hot meal and warm blankets ready for the pack."

Spiritfang said, "Are you shadow gating?" And to answer her question, both Jackpaw and Coingazer vanished from view through a shadow that was just behind them. "I guess that answers that. I will grab Firepaw on my way up the mountain and then we can warn the others together." She spent little time locating Firepaw who was having trouble climbing and then they both ascended the mountain where they caught up with Dragontail and Southfang at the top. "Bad news, Southy. Coingazer just told me that he and Jackpaw saw the storm moving in faster than we were told. We no longer have a few hours to return to the farm. We have to go right now."

Southfang hated being in this sort of Alpha Command situation, but Spiritfang was right. They couldn't chance getting caught in a blizzard. "Firepaw, start making a flame while Spiritfang uses it to open a vortex to the farm. Since we have been there before, we can use the fire vortex to go straight there. Don't argue with me, unless you like icicles on your sac."

At the safety of the farm, the snow fell in literal heavy flakes. Each hour the snow fell, the ground continued to turn white until no dark patch of the ground could be seen anymore. Thankfully the pack had gotten back just in time. The kangaroo and the two nightmare stallions were in the pack den with the TV on which was showing the local weather report on how the storm arrived sooner than expected.

"No duh, woman," said Southfang with some annoyance. "Get on with it. How long will this bird poop last?"

Recordspaw remarked, "At least it isn't acidic dragon poop. That stuff is always white."

Isaac was in his human form once again as he brought in the pizzas and drinks for his pack friends and the DTV reps who had chosen to stay. "Arden's pizza for the pack and Ramen noodles with meat sauce for the stallions. Will you be having a pizza, Recordspaw?"

The kangaroo took a slice of the pizza that Isaac would be eating himself. "Don't mind if I do, mate."

-~-"And the snowfall is expected to continue until early morning on Black Friday, just after Thanksgiving. Just in time for the first day of Christmas shopping. The road crews will strive to have the roads cleared repeatedly throughout the coming weeks so please stay at home for the time being. Don't be out and about if you don't have to be. And now, Dave, what's coming up in the Sports spotlight?"-~-

Dragontail groaned. "Snow until Thanksgiving? That's another three and a half weeks. We'll never be able to work on the proving rites with this shit going on."

Isaac then scratched on Dragontail's neck fur. "What would have been the next test, buddy?"

Dragontail who was now used to being touched by the human replied, "Powers testing and proper usage in front of the pack or judges. We cannot do that indoors or else your entire house would be burned to the ground and then we would all be out in the cold."

Distractus said, "As you are aware already, Dragontail, we are Lord Impy's evaluation agents. We could make good judges. And Recordspaw could keep precise record of how the sessions went. Given that, what is the main concern?"

Dragontail growled, "Burny house. If you need a dumb hint, go outside and roll in the snow. Earth weather is colder than Underworld weather. And then there is issue number two. Firepaw's power is Fire, Spiritfang's power is Lightning, Coingazer's power is Shadow, my power is Geomancy, and Southfang's power is Wind. However, since Isaac agreed to join us in our rites as Jackpaw, we don't know what his element is. And since joining us, he has never used the power at all. The rest of us use our powers whenever we can. His could be the worst element ever."

Recordspaw grinned. "But you were just saying that Earth Weather was the worst thing ever. What if his power was that?"

"Oh shut up."

Spiritfang then said, "Usually the Alpha unit of the pack who names a new pack member has an idea of the new pack member's power and weaves that into their name. Southfang is the only one of us with Alpha blood and he named Isaac as Jackpaw based off of his Jack of all Trades skills. As weird as this may sound, Dragontail, suppose Jackpaw's power was repair and creation, the very thing a jack of all trades does in his line of work?"

"One simple and safe way to figure that out." Dragontail got up and went into the kitchen and returned with a glass plate and deliberately dropped it on the hard stone floor. Naturally, it broke into a million pieces. "Change into Jackpaw and repair the plate, Isaac, using your powers and nothing else. Focus your mind and gently lift one paw as if you are balancing the plate already repaired and never broken, then in your mind's eye, bring the plate back together as if it was never broken."

Once Isaac changed into Jackpaw once again, Spiritfang placed her paws over his neck. "If Dragontail is right, this will help you in your Earthly business. Believe in yourself. We all have a power in the rites pack and surely you have one too. If it isn't this, I am sure Dragontail will apologize for the plate or else I get to target practice with his rear end."

The thought of that alone brought a small smile to Jackpaw's muzzle. Then it was to the task at paw. Repairing the plate with his mind. Spiritfang was right. If he could pull off this power, he could repair things like new and really live comfortably. The only part of this idea that scared him was.. wasn't this the same as playing God? It was one thing to be associating with Hell Hounds and other Hell denizens on their terms in exchange for keeping your life, but playing with a God specific power bothered him. But Spiritfang was a healer herself. And wasn't healing also a God given power? She wasn't being punished for having that power. If he did have this power, he could choose not to abuse it and only use it in emergencies. Although with a tempter like Coingazer around, his resolve would surely be tempted. Thus, he gently and slowly lifted one paw and then he mentally imagined the plate reassembling. And it was then that the miracle happened... as the plate came back together into the one former piece as the seams of the cracks sealed into the state it had been before.

Jackpaw gently set the plate up on one of the tables. "Amazing... I could feel the power cascading through my entire body. What are you all looking at?" he asked at the end when he noticed that all of the Hell Hounds were looking at him with a bit of fear. "Guys... tell me what's going on so I can fix it."

Southfang stepped up to stand in front of Jackpaw directly. "Jackpaw... Isaac... When you used that power, your coloration changed and... you now have a glow around your entire body."

Jackpaw dashed out of the pack den en route toward the bathroom where he leaped up on the sink so he could see himself up close in the bathroom mirror. What he saw looking back at himself was an all white Hell Hound with a halo like glow all around his entire body. Strongest around his head. And further, barely seen in the glow, it appeared that he had feathered wings. Not physically, but spiritually. He about fell over backward off the sink when he saw his own image. "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?! I JUST WANTED TO FIT IN!"

He was then heard slamming his head into the bathroom walls and the tub. "TURN OFF! TURN OFF! TURN OFF! TURN OFF! DAMN YOU, TURN OFF!"

Spiritfang rushed in with the pack and forcibly stopped Jackpaw from trying to cleave his own head open in a bloody mess. "Are you satisfied, Dragontail? This was your idea. Now you know what his power is. And our over reaction of seeing him do this... he wasn't ready to be surprised in that sort of way. And Southfang, did you have to so blatantly tell him what was going on with his body? See how he's reacting. He joined us despite what's going on with him. He is one of us, we have all said it multiple times. Get over the damned shock. Don't back out now like cowards. You pushed him into using his powers and now you are scared?"

Coingazer being the Imperial Shadow Hound that he was, slowly entered the bathroom still flipping his coin as he said, "Angel Hound aspect, guys. I have seen them before while working with dad's pack. We serve the Imperial Council. Now I know why he was always drilling that into my head. My Alpha was preparing me for the day when I would have to pull rank and identify our newest pack member. The slang word for the species is Angehound. They are miracle workers, primarily, and it is said that Freeborn is a surname of their patron masters. Isaac is a Freeborn. Therefore, by joining us as a hound, he became the pack aspect that the Freeborns represented. An angehound. And despite all that... I still like him. I don't care if the rest of you don't. He willingly joined us. I won't let him kill himself. He is one of us. If we let him die, the proving pack has failed. Put that in your mind, Southfang. Mr. I won't be the one to make this pack fail. Either start acting like an Alpha for us or shut up and let me lead this pack. Maybe you are just a wannabe Alpha with a false story about being the son of an Alpha. Maybe you... irk!" the last was cut off when Southfang's paw grip was on his throat. "Go ahead and do it, Southfang... kill a fellow pack member and accept being a failure."

Southfang said, "More information, Coingazer. What else do you remember about Angehounds. We need to know. And how come he can't use these powers in his human form?"

Coingazer pulled out of Southfang's grip as he stepped around Spiritfang and Jackpaw. "They originated originally from Arcadia where the Freeborn Angel Lords kept watch over the middle lands of the Concordant Opposition otherwise known as Neutralia. They served this position until the great war when most of the Freeborns were killed in an ambush by demonic forces. The hounds were either converted into demonic or Hell packs or... worse case scenario, they were Exiled to Earth. Upon arriving on Earth, according to the Information Devimouse Services... the hounds transformed into humans where they remained without the ability to use their former powers... until recently when we met Isaac and he asked us about joining our proving pack so he could do the rites with us. And now we learn of his powers. He is one of these transformed hounds. What he saw in his aura glow was normal for how an angehound looks in Arcadia. It can be majestic look upon or frightening if one isn't ready to see that. He wasn't ready so it scared him to death. At least we didn't try to kill ourselves out of fear upon seeing an angehound. You saw what he was trying to do to himself before Spiritfang stopped him. Like it or not, he joined us, he fed us, he kept us from freezing up on the mountain. And he prevented your death when we went to the canyon the first time, Dragontail. Unless you fancy falling off a cliff as fun in the middle of the night. He even helped us in throwing the fake back through the vortex so you could join us here. Southfang, as an Alpha blood, don't push Isaac away now that the truth is known; he joined us. We agreed to help him fit in with us or admit we are failures. And the first day, you swore to Spiritfang that you would help everyone in the pack to succeed because you were not going to be the one who failed."

Southfang nodded his head. "I do want to lead a pack someday, but not during the proving rites. That is forbidden until you are forming a pack. And to form a pack, you have to have your Alphas blessings and their presence as witness to confirm the formation of the pack. Once you have that, then you could all call me Alpha Southfang. But currently, first names only." He then lowered his head to Jackpaw's ear although the glow was still present. "I promise, we will help you, Jackpaw, I mean, Isaac. This surprised all of us." Then he raised himself up and said to Coingazer. "You never explained why he cannot use these powers in his human form."

The Shadow Hound smiled. "Isn't it obvious, Southy? They were locked by the demonic hounds who exiled his pack to Earth. To unlock those powers in his human form, takes either an Imperial decree or... the command of an established pack alpha from any realm. That is why I said, start acting like an Alpha or let me lead. I am already an Imperial Council Hound. If I form a pack, I would be both Alpha and Imperial."

Southfang growled, "Wait a minute! You are already an Imperial Council Hound? You mean the Council has been spying on us this whole time? I want to know right now!"

Coingazer replied, "Only an Alpha can command me to give out that kind of information. Are you an Alpha or not?"

The entire pack was now looking directly at Southfang. They had made the mistake several times to call him an alpha and he always denied it. Now he was directly on the spot. It was now or never. They waited for the reply. Southfang slowly met Coingazer's gaze and said, "I used to be an alpha until the pack I led was killed. I survived, barely. So yes, I am an Alpha."

**End of CP-02 Farm Filling

Stay tuned for the next episode, Thanks for Giving a Damn**

CP-01 The Jack of All trades

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SRC-02 Reindeer Reunion, Ch 02

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