Chapter 3: Into the Walls of Fire
Humphrey called for a pack meeting, not even caring about the fact that he didn’t have the authority to do so, and immediately began briefing everyone on the plan to get Kenya back.
“Okay,” he said, “Viggo is most likely taking her to his main campsite, deep in the Northern Pack. We’ll take a group of around ten wolves to go rescue her.”
“So,” Claudette said, “who’s going?”
“Kate and myself,” Humphrey replied, “plus Adam and Steven, along with Stinky and Runt and Jax and Jonas. Mick and Oscar are coming too.”
“Now you’re talking,” Mick said. “Just show me where that bastard is, and I’ll take care of him.”
“If only it were that easy, Mick,” Humphrey said. “Garth, Lilly, Claudette, and Lisa, stay here and protect the pack, just in case Viggo left some men behind and decides to ambush you while we’re gone,” he explained.
“Why am I not going?” Claudette asked.
“I’m not risking all of my pups,” Humphrey replied. “I know you can take care of yourselves, but not against Viggo. Remember, Viggo’s a game player. His moves are never what they appear to be.”
“Unless he knows that you know he’s a game player,” Jax said. “Then, the deceptive move is to make the obvious move.”
“But,” Jonas continued, “he’s also smart enough to know that Humphrey knows that Viggo knows that Humphrey knows he’s a game player, so the deceptive move is to actually make the deceptive move.”
“Well, there’s ten seconds of my life I’ll never get back,” Humphrey sighed. “Can we go please? We don’t know how much time we’ll have.”
The group set out immediately toward Viggo’s main base in the Northern Region. A few hours passed and the sky became a dark blue as morning approached when Adam noticed that Steven was shivering uncontrollably.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No, I’m not okay,” Steven replied. “It’s freezing and I like it warm and toasty.”
“Don’t we all?” Humphrey commented.
Another half-hour passed and the group came across the familiar scent of humans. They slowed down and eventually stopped at a spot where the surrounding bushes, trees, and overhanging foliage were completely cleared away. Looking into the bushes, they saw many tents, but no people.
“Humphrey,” Kate whispered, “is that-“
“Viggo’s base,” Humphrey finished.
“Are you sure that’s it?” Adam asked. “It looks completely deserted.”
Suddenly, a wall of flame erupted from the ground in front of them, where Viggo had buried flamethrowers and remotely activated them. The group jumped back in surprise as the flames leaped out toward them.
“Or maybe not!” Adam said.
“He’s using flamethrowers!?” Steven exclaimed.
“I thought you liked it toasty,” Humphrey commented.
“I like toast-y,” Steven said, “not toast-ed.”
“Humphrey, maybe we should turn back and find a place to regroup or another way around, there’s no way we’re getting through this,” Kate suggested.
“No,” Humphrey said, “all this is just a distraction.”
“It’s fire, Humphrey,” Steven replied. “Actual fire.”
“I’m gonna have to concur on that one,” Jax said, looking at the tip of his tail which had caught fire. Jonas rushed over and quickly batted it out.
“What I mean is,” Humphrey continued, “Viggo doesn’t want us to retreat. It just seems that way. He wants us to get past the fire. He wants me to find Kenya. And then his game really begins.”
“Well, if he wants us to get through, then he’s got a funny way of showing it,” Steven said.
“He doesn’t want us to get through,” Humphrey told him. “He wants us to go around and attack him from the back.”
“But that’s not what we’re doing, is it?” Steven asked.
“Nope,” Humphrey replied. “We’re going in this way, straight into the wall of fire.”
Everyone looked at Humphrey as if he was joking.
“Now, I know you guys think I’m nuts-” he began.
“Yes,” Steven said.
“But look at how the fire is spaced apart,” Humphrey explained. “It’s almost wide enough for us to fit through single file. If we put a log over one of the spurts of flame and cover it up, we’ll be able to safely walk across. It’ll be hot, but the fire won’t touch us. But we’ll need to be quick.”
“Through the fire!?” Steven exclaimed. “This entire plan sounds completely theoretical.”
“That’s why you like it,” Humphrey said, smiling. “And it’ll be the last thing Viggo will expect. Remember, extreme measures.”
“I’m not sure if I like you more or less now,” Steven said.
“Uh, that sounds like the incredibly dangerous and reckless plan I would come up with. And no, I didn’t mean that as a compliment,” Jax told Humphrey.
“I didn’t think so,” Humphrey replied.
“And you’re sure it’ll work?” Kate asked.
“Ahhhh,” Humphrey replied nervously.
“Of course not.”
“I hate you sometimes,” Steven said. “You do know that, right?”
“Yes, I am aware of that,” Humphrey replied.
Humphrey went off to find a suitable log and eventually returned with a pretty sturdy one. He pushed it over one of the spurts of flame and the group quickly but carefully began crossing.
They safely made it across just as the log collapsed and caught fire.
“Okay,” Oscar said, “now what?”
“You guys go distract Viggo’s men,” Humphrey said.
“Where are you going?” Oscar asked.
“To find Kenya,” Humphrey replied. “It’s time Viggo and I were properly reacquainted.”
“Good luck,” Kate said before leaving with the others.
Meanwhile, Viggo was sitting at his table in his tent when Robert entered. A loud commotion could be heard from outside.
“They’re here, I assume?” Viggo said, not even looking up from his desk.
“Not the way you’d planned,” Robert replied. “They went through the fire, not around it.”
“Brilliant. Simply brilliant,” Viggo said. “Humphrey knows his stuff, I’ll give him that.”
“Aren’t we going to do something?” Robert asked as Viggo stood up and walked around his desk. “Most of the troops are on the opposite side of the campsite.”
“Come now, Robert,” Viggo said, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “What fun would a game be if saddled against an inferior opponent?”
Viggo walked out of his tent and Robert followed him. The two stopped and Viggo looked out into the forest as he spoke.
“Robert, did you do what I told you to do with the prisoner?”
“Of course,” Robert replied, “but I’m still thinking-“
Viggo suddenly turned around and looked at him.
“Stop thinking,” he quickly said, pointing a finger at Robert. “All thinking has been done. You simply need to do as you’re told, follow orders. Can you do that?”
Viggo then walked away into the forest as Robert stood by the tent.
Humphrey had been carefully running around the camp looking for Kenya for almost ten minutes now. He had never truly realized just how large Viggo’s main camp was. He was here for a brief time but never really saw the size of it.
He eventually came across an area that was quiet and filled with cages that had wolves in them. Most of them were either sleeping or dead, Humphrey couldn’t tell. The ones that were awake stayed quiet as Humphrey passed by. They had heard the commotion across the camp and assumed he was responsible. Although they didn’t know him by any means, they kept quiet, not wanting him to get caught as well.
Humphrey found a lone cage, away from the rest that seemed to mark the edge of the campsite. It was a bit larger than the others and there was a figure inside with a blanket draped over it. Humphrey sniffed around the cage and then inside it. It definitely smelled like Kenya and he noticed purple hairs on the ground near the cage.
Humphrey looked at the door and the lock that kept it in place. Luckily, this was a simple lock and one he could undo. He put his teeth around it and bit down. The two rods that held the door in place moved and he pulled the door open. He winced as it squeaked on its hinges and he went inside.
Humphrey walked over to the figure under the blanket and checked his surroundings to make sure no one was coming.
“Kenya,” he said. “Kenya let’s go. We gotta get out of here.”
Humphrey took the blanket in his mouth and pulled it off the figure. As soon as he saw who was under it, he backed up out of the cage.
“Welcome, Humphrey,” Viggo said, turning around and standing up as he slowly made his way out of the cage.
“Where’s Kenya?” Humphrey asked.
“Hm, bad news,” Viggo replied. “I’m afraid she won’t be joining us tonight. But, on the positive side, you have far exceeded my expectations. Good on you.”
Viggo looked around him at the guards that emerged from the bushes, surrounding Humphrey on all but one side.
“So many guards, so little time,” Viggo said, smiling. “But I am enjoying this, so I’ll give you a head start.”
“And why would you do that?” Humphrey asked.
“Because I am nothing, if not a good sport,” Viggo replied. “And if I didn’t, the game would end here, and what fun would that be?”
Humphrey turned around and ran back into the forest.
“Okay, think, Humphrey, think,” he said to himself. “Why would he give you a head start? He knows that you’re-“
He suddenly stopped as Viggo’s men emerged from the bushes in front of him.
He turned around and looked at Viggo who was walking up behind him.
“There you are,” he said. “You didn’t get as far as I’d imagined.”
“The game’s over, Viggo,” Humphrey said.
“I’m so sorry you feel that way,” Viggo said. “Was I not a worthy adversary? Don’t answer that. Your surrender speaks volumes.”
“I’m not surrendering,” Humphrey insisted, “and neither is anyone else.”
“You think so?” Viggo replied. “I’m ten steps ahead of you and you don’t even know what game we’re playing yet. You will surrender one way or another. Have it your way for now. But don’t say I didn’t give you a chance.”
One of Viggo’s men pointed his gun at Humphrey and shot him with a tranquilizer dart. Humphrey staggered on his feet and struggled to stay awake as Viggo approached him.
“You and your friends played right into my hands,” Viggo said. “To be honest, I expected more, especially from you. I’m disappointed, Humphrey.”
Viggo signaled for his men to depart and as he walked away, he gave one last remark to the unconscious Humphrey.
“Humphrey, my friend, I truly enjoy our time together. I hope we are able to meet again soon.”
Viggo walked away into the forest, leaving Humphrey where he slept. Around a half-hour passed when the rest of the group found him just as he was waking up. Without a word, Humphrey rushed in the direction Viggo had gone, leading them straight back to the valley. Viggo had already arrived and the group could see that he was shouldering a rocket launcher. As they followed his aim, they realized in horror, that it was pointed directly at Kate and Humphrey’s old den. Before they could do anything, Viggo fired the rocket, which flew directly into the den, blowing it apart from the inside in a massive fireball, killing Winston, Eve, and Tony.